A Counterfeit Conscience

Perhaps my favorite recorded conversation in English literature is the short chat between Boswell and Dr. Johnson, when Boswell said he wanted to stand for election to Parliament, and Johnson advised against it:

BOSWELL. “Perhaps, Sir, I should be the less happy for being in Parliament. I never would sell my vote, and I should be vexed if things went wrong.”

JOHNSON. “That’s cant, Sir. It would not vex you more in the house than in the gallery: publick affairs vex no man.”

BOSWELL. “Have not they vexed yourself a little, Sir? Have not you been vexed by all the turbulence of this reign, and by that absurd vote of the House of Commons, ‘That the influence of the Crown has increased, is increasing, and ought to be diminished?’”

JOHNSON. “Sir, I have never slept an hour less, nor eat an ounce less meat. I would have knocked the factious dogs on the head, to be sure; but I was not vexed.”

BOSWELL. “I declare, Sir, upon my honour, I did imagine I was vexed, and took a pride in it; but it was, perhaps, cant; for I own I neither eat less, nor slept less.”

JOHNSON. “My dear friend, clear your mind of cant. You may talk as other people do: you may say to a man, ‘Sir, I am your most humble servant.’ You are not his most humble servant. You may say, ‘These are bad times; it is a melancholy thing to be reserved at such times.’ You don’t mind the times. You tell a man, ‘I am sorry you had such bad weather the last day of your journey, and were so much wet.’ You don’t care six-pence whether he is wet or dry. You may talk in this manner; it is a mode of talking in Society: but don’t think foolishly.”

The cant that Johnson dismisses here is not the same as the etiquette that smoothes the way for social intercourse. It’s also not the same as hypocrisy. The hypocrite speaks one way and behaves in another, often unaware that he is doing it. So why do we say we are “vexed,” or “offended,” or “outraged,” when we won’t be losing a minute of sleep? Why do we say we “stand beside” people who suffer oppression, when we don’t move an inch in their support? More: why do we seem to feel better about ourselves when we declare our vexation, or our solidarity with the oppressed?

I suggest that this cant is the expression of a false, superficial substitute for conscience. In a strong man, the conscience is a sentry on the battlements, a stern monitor, a sergeant in the trenches, a commander whom we must heed. We’d like to take it easy, but the sentry urges us to stay awake, because we don’t know the hour when the thief will come. We’d like to usher the troupe of worldly pleasures through the gates, but the monitor glares at us and pulls us up short. We’d like to wait out the battle, but the sergeant calls us to our duty. We’d like to be big in the world and small in soul, but the Lord summons us to sanctity, let the world think what it will.

The substitute, though, is like the “skin” that covers over the throat of someone suffering with diphtheria. It suffocates. It doesn’t require us to do anything, only to declare that we believe something. Even if we do take action, it’s not love that moves us, but a desire to appear righteous.

Max Scheler discusses the phenomenon in Ressentiment, turning our attention to the widow in the gospels, who gives her small coin to the treasury. “The widow’s mites,” he says, “are more to God than the gifts of the rich—not because they are only ‘mites’ or because the giver is only a ‘poor widow,’ but because her action reveals more love.” Saint Paul means the same thing, when he says that even if he sold all he had and gave it to the poor, if he did not have love, it would avail him nothing. Love is not valuable because it is useful, as “just one of the countless forces which further human or social welfare.” It is itself the thing we want more of, “that there should be a maximum of love among men,” love that penetrates the whole person and lends us a higher and richer mode of life. “Its meaning,” says Scheler, “lies in itself, in its illumination of the soul, in the nobility of the loving soul in the act of love.”

Several years ago, at the beginning of the second Iraq War, a first-string football player for the Arizona Cardinals enlisted for action and was slain in the early fighting. He was ridiculed by many social commentators for having had the wrong belief about the war. They could not see his act of patriotism, or if they did see it, they hated it, because it illustrated too painfully his nobility and their pettiness. In other words, they transferred his act of love, whether or not he was mistaken in its object, from the realm of the spiritual and the inner man to the realm of public analysis, where they could sit in their parlors and hug themselves for a mere opinion.

Or look at Dorothy Day. Under the calming influence of the poet-theologian Peter Maurin, she learned to live the gospel in a poverty that was good and valuable in itself, and not meant as a reproach to a hated world without. Which political causes she supported and whether she was mistaken are not the point. Saint Vincent Ferrer, after all, supported the wrong “pope” during the Great Western Schism. The point is that Dorothy Day loved. So did Mother Teresa. She has been vilified by atheists of both the left and the right, for not having led the correct political revolution in India. Thus people who have never lifted a sore-riddled man from a ditch, or tended the dying with gentleness so that their last day upon earth would be suffused with kindness and light—people who have never done anything so splendidly beautiful for Jesus or for anyone, even those whom they say they love—can comfort themselves with the assurance that they believe the right thing about social welfare, or a free economy, or what have you. The false conscience sibilates its soothing words.

“Nothing can be further removed from this genuine concept of Christian love,” says Scheler, “than all kinds of ‘socialism,’ ‘social feeling,’ ‘altruism,’ and other subaltern modern things.” This is how the cant works. Consider a politician who has failed in those things that should have concerned him most. His marriage is a dreadful mockery. His children have fled. He despises the place where he was born. His faith is a specter. He cannot follow Pascal’s advice, to learn to sit still in his room. He turns to others, not from an expansiveness of soul, not in love, but from a desire to escape from his smallness. The altruistic urge, says Scheler, “is really a form of hatred, of self-hatred, posing as its opposite (“Love”) in the false perspective of consciousness.” Such a person lives only by opposition. He wants people whom he can patronize or cultivate as marginalized—to use the ugly and inhuman word—just so that he can continue in his enmity.

Such a person assuages the nagging awareness of his impotence and failure by declaring the “right” thing, by voting for the “right” thing, by believing the “right” thing, even perhaps by sending money to the “right” thing. Those deeds may cost him little enough. They may bring him comfortably into the company of others who share his opinions, and who will tell him that he is right, and that they are all better than other people, who declare the wrong things, vote for the wrong things, and so forth.

All of this is cant. A Christian with a properly formed conscience must understand that, as Scheler, says, the peace on earth which Jesus demands is “a sacred region of peace, love, and forgiveness, existing in the depths of man’s soul in the midst of all struggle and preventing him from believing that the goals of the [historical] conflict are ultimate and definitive.” Love your neighbor as yourself, says Jesus. That is our challenge. He brings us life, and that in abundance. How terrifying a promise that is!

Editor’s note: Pictured above is German philosopher Max Scheler (1874-1928), the subject of Karol Wojtyla’s 1954 doctoral dissertation.

Anthony Esolen


Professor Esolen is a teaching fellow and writer in residence at Thomas More College of the Liberal Arts, in Merrimack, New Hampshire. Dr. Esolen is a regular contributor to Crisis Magazine and the author of many books, including The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization (Regnery Press, 2008); Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child (ISI Books, 2010) and Reflections on the Christian Life (Sophia Institute Press, 2013). His most recent books are Reclaiming Catholic Social Teaching (Sophia Institute Press, 2014); Defending Marriage (Tan Books, 2014); Life Under Compulsion (ISI Books, 2015); and Out of the Ashes (Regnery, 2017).

  • ForChristAlone

    All that matters these days, so it seems, are good intentions.

    • BillinJax

      Correct. And for the modern social engineers of today good intentions, in their minds, cover any and all the mistakes in judgment or resulting depravity their decision bring upon our society.

  • s;vbkr0boc,klos;

    How far can you take this? Evelyn Waugh? Just after the war the British government tried to alleviate five years of harsh food rationing by decreeing that every child in England should be allowed one banana. At that time there were three little Waughs, none of whom had ever tasted a banana. As Auberon remembers:

    “My mother came home with three bananas. All three were put on my father’s plate, and before the anguished eyes of his children, he poured on cream, which was also almost unprocurable and sugar, which was heavily rationed, and ate all three…From that moment, I never treated anything he had to say on faith or morals very seriously.”

    And son Auberon was, if you are wondering a traditional Catholic who fought the destruction of the liturgy.

    • Siobhán

      It will be much more difficult to enjoy Waugh’s writing, knowing this.

    • Interested

      The son was also controversial to say the least. I do not trust the quote.

      • Art Deco

        Since it has him quaffing a sickening quantum of fruit in ‘unprocurable’ cream garnished (gratuitously) with rationed sugar and doing so with the co-operation of his wife, I tend to be skeptical as well.

  • Jdonnell

    The article expresses a degree of confusion. The famous passage of Johnson’s (much of it not the Cham at his best and revealing Boswell at his most toadying) hardly fits the ensuing discussion, where the football player who rushes off to a war that was initiated on the basis of the Bush administration’s lies, is credited with doing so on the basis of “love.” Yet, it might be better argued that he did so because he had failed to clear his mind of “cant.” Patriotism–love of country–can easily cloud the mind with cant. Despite the lies from the Bush administration, it was possible to discern from news reports that no WMDs had been confirmed and that even Powell’s speech at the UN was full of–well–unconfirmed allegations stated as fact. A cant-filled mind becomes vulnerable to lies and a basis for rushing off to engage in a war that was both immoral and illegal. Johnson remarked elsewhere that “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel,” which applies to so many who have supported US involvement in so many immoral wars since WW II.

    • RufusChoate

      You’re simply a leftwing moral idiot who seems to suffer from the delusion that you can make declarative statements based on the political cant and lies of the Left like you are reading scripture. Tedious and delusional. You’re on the wrong side of history defending the endless failures of the Left.

      • ForChristAlone

        Hmmmm…I wonder whom he voted for the last two times. The guy who pushed for partial birth abortion, you think?

        • Interested


      • Jdonnell

        Ah, the blather master is at it again. Ad hominem, name-calling–all in defense of an unchristian cant masquerading as the real thing.

        • TheAbaum

          Ah, the blather master is at it again. Ad hominem, name-calling–all in defense of an unchristian cant masquerading as the real thing.

          • Jdonnell

            Were I to confine myself to ad hominem remarks, I would start with calling you Abum–or something worse that your tag suggests and your remarks illustrate.

            • TheAbaum

              Oh, you are so creative, you can take a vowel out.

              (Snorts of derision).

              • Jdonnell

                Or by adding a couple of “s’s” after the first vowel.
                Derision is your only suit. And, it’s staining your pants.

                • TheAbaum

                  Pot. Kettle. Black.

                  • Jdonnell

                    Your cleverness and originality are matched only by the vapid content of your comments. Next time, maybe you can respond with, “So’s your old man.” It would be consistent with your comments up to now.

                    • TheAbaum

                      Your cleverness and originality are matched only by the vapid content of your comments. Next time, maybe you can respond with, “So’s your old lady” It would be consistent with your comments up to now.

        • RufusChoate

          You are regurgitating the same utterly baseless falsehoods that placed the least competent people in American history at the levers of power in 2006 yet they haven’t altered a single policy implemented by the Bush Administration in the past 8 years and you act like it is sane and coherent to repeat the same lies they used in 2006. As I said you haven’t updated your world view to fit the world you actual live on.

          The stated US policy to Iraq form 1998, voted on by majorities of the House and Senate and signed into law by Clinton was Regime Change in Iraq. Iraq engaged in subterfuge in arms trading with the Russia, Germany and France, corrupted the UN Oil for Food program, committed multiple hostile acts for over 10 years against US forces, supported multiple terrorist organizations, failed to demilitarize and engaged in active denial of inspections from 1991 until the Bush administration which had multiple UN resolutions and US Law authorizing the use of force.

          By no sane or logical criteria could it be considered an unjust war except by a duplicitous Leftist fraud or an Islamist. Afghanistan isn’t even arguable they were given multiple opportunity to deny refuge to Al Qaeda and refused.

          Obama violated the 1973 War Powers Act with his illegal incursion without Congressional approval into the Libyan and Syria civil wars at the behest of French and English petroleum concerns and you have no comment about it.

    • Tony

      That’s remarkably uncharitable:

      1. To say that the President “lied,” you would have to know for certain what he knew at the time when he was speaking. There is not one shred of evidence that can support that allegation; the worst thing we might say is that, given the evidence available to him, he allowed preconceptions to color what he was seeing and how he interpreted it. That is a malady which all human beings suffer. It also is inexplicable, politically. His approval ratings at that time were sky-high, especially in these polarized times. There was no political reason for him to do it; it was a no-win choice.

      2. It may be true that all of our politicians have their heads full of cant. And what exactly are we supposed to conclude from this? The specific person in question, Patrick Tillman, believed that he was serving his country. And, after all, his country had just suffered the worst attack on her own land since Pearl Harbor. It was not beyond the bounds of reason to follow the call to Iraq.

      3. When Johnson said, “Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel,” he did NOT mean to disparage patriotism! He meant that men who had lived lives of dissipation could, as a last resort, enlist in the military to make up for it or at least to get away from their creditors. Pat Tillman, needless to say, was not in that situation. He was making a great deal of money where he was, doing the thing he loved to do.

      4. You illustrate the very point I was trying to make. Let us say that Pat Tillman was mistaken. Does that make his self-sacrifice itself less noble? If loving your country makes you susceptible to a certain kind of cant, does that mean that despising your country and putting the worst construction on all of her actions will arm you against a different kind of cant? I wonder, too, whether the South Koreans, who live in a free country, would be so quick to label the American intervention there as “immoral.”

      • Watosh

        President Bush flat lied about WMD’s. The UN inspectors came to the conclusion Saddam did not have WMDs. If there were any doubt about that, letting them continue inspections for another couple months would have confirmed that, which is what the French urged us to do and for that our media went on an anti-french tear for months. A highly placed defector stated that Saddam did not have any WMD;’s. Pres Bush said our intelligence was wrong, but if that was the case, if we went to war killing hundreds of thousands along with many American soldiers, if the CIA gave Bush the wrong information, then why did Bush give the head of the CIA the highest civilian medal of honor after. someone gives me the wrong information that causes me to do something disastrous, I wouldn’t then give him a medal. President Bush kept on saying in the months leading up to our invasion that he hadn’t decide whether to invade Iraq or not. I knew then he had decided, because given the amount of troops and war material he was pouring into Kuwait prior to the invasion, I knew there was nothing that would make Pres Bush to turn around and remove all the troops and equipment from Kuwait without having used them in an invasion. Politically this was out o the question. Then there was the famous Downing Street memo, minimized and pretty much ignored by our compliant “liberal” press that revealed that the British were told that the intelligence about Iraq was being fixed to justify an invasion, long before the invasion. Now this is just the tip of the iceberg, books have been written with repeated examples of lies the President told,. President Bush though never said that Saddam Hussein was behind the 9/11 attacks, which is what around 70% of americans believed at the start of our invasion of Iraq. But as I noticed in the many months before the invasion whenever President Bush mentioned the name of Saddam Hussein alwys would remind people of the awfulness of the 9/11 attacks. Professional propagandists call this “juxtaposition.” People hearing this over and over soon subconsciously and consciously associate Saddam Hussein with the 9/11 attacks. This tactic is a favorite of the advertising industry. This tactic is deceitful at best.

        • Tony

          Again I ask what the motive would be. His approval rating was in the stratosphere. If he knew that there was no good reason to invade Iraq, he would also have known that that would come out, and that would have been politically disastrous. He did not have to go to war, politically speaking, since he was already at war in Afghanistan. In any case, none of this is to the point of the article. The point was not whether Bush did this or that. I will leave that matter to historians to sift through ALL of the evidence, and not selected pieces of it; just as I leave to historians to sift through the evidence to tell me just what FDR knew about a Japanese attack before Pearl Harbor. The point is that Patrick Tillman gave his life for his country, and he was ridiculed for it. That ridicule was disgusting, and I believe it was born of ressentiment.

          Ressentiment “moralists” look upon a patriot and see a jingoist; they look upon a brave man and see a reckless fool; they look upon a man of reserve and see someone cold and aloof; they look upon a vivacious woman and see a tramp; they look upon a free and active boy and see a future oppressor of women … They do this because they can’t bear to look upon good things they long for but cannot attain. That is Scheler’s point. In our day, ressentiment morality reduces all matters to partisan politics. Please notice that I did not do that. I took no position on the wisdom of Tillman’s choice. I took no position on the wisdom of Dorothy Day’s politics.

          • carl

            Ten years later and we’re still arguing WMDs? It’s absurd. Bush in his State of the Union Speech had a litany list of reasons of finishing the Iraq war. That’s right, finishing the war, Saddam failed to live up to what was agreed too.. What if Germany decided to do a Holocaust version #2 would we have stood by and done nothing? Really?
            The Iraq war was largely preventive. Saddam was a bad person. Oh, and by the way Saddam did gas the Kurds,,,,ahem, mustard gas is a WMD!
            And finally, Pakistan, India, Israel, Turkey have nukes. Iran clearly wants and is advancing its nuke program. And Saddam had no interest in attaining nukes?! Preposterous. It’s reasonable to argue that stopping someone who invaded two of his neighbors from attaining nukes.

            • Art Deco

              Ten years later and we’re still arguing WMDs? It’s absurd.

              It’s more like the film Groundhog Day. The same obsessive utters the same nonsense (absent any concision) whether it is relevant to the discussion at hand or not. The often grotesque silliness in his remarks is pointed out. Rinse, repeat, every other thread in which he participates.

              I once was on congenial terms with a man who sadly descended into Alzheimer’s the last eight years of his life. This happened quite gradually, and you could still have an engaging conversation with him eight years into it and he remained quite spry until the end. There were a number of marks of his deterioration, but the main one was that his conversation grew oddly repetitive. The same questions asked, quite amiably, again and again. At least his conversation did not include mash notes about Hitler.

              • Art Deco

                “six years into it”. Last two years, no.

              • JBear

                “Ten years later and we’re still arguing WMDs? It’s absurd.”
                Because hundreds of thousands of people who were killed, mutilated, and displaced by the lies just aren’t worth thinking about ten years later.

                • Art Deco

                  People are being killed by the Iraqi criminal class. Prior to 2003, they were also being killed by the Iraqi criminal class, its just that the killing could be systematized and extended over the whole country rather than just 40%.

                  • JBear

                    You’ve bought into every lie or insinuation you’ve ever heard about Iraq — WMD, Saddam behind 9/11, and, of course, that it was all about the noble motive of “protecting the Iraqi people” (hence Abu Ghraib?). There’s a well-known photograph of Donald Rumsfeld shaking hands with Saddam Hussein. U.S. officials colluded with Saddam’s regime for over 28 years. As for Iraqis being “better off” without Saddam, 90% of them disagree: http://www.globalresearch.ca/iraqis-say-they-were-better-off-under-rule-of-saddam-hussein/4320

                    • Art Deco

                      The United States had no diplomatic relations with Iraq at all from 1967 to 1985. From 1985 to 1990, the U.S. attempted a rapprochement which included exchanging ambassadors and extending some agricultural credits. From 1990 to 2003 our dealings with Iraq were decidedly antagonistic.

                      Your 28 years of ‘collusion’ amounts to five years of fairly ordinary dealings. Sorry you’re innumerate.

                    • JBear

                      Sorry, you’re out of touch. Take a look at this article http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/08/25/secret_cia_files_prove_america_helped_saddam_as_he_gassed_iran which
                      Far more importantly, however, and something you did not respond to, is the poll showing that Iraqis feel they were better off under Saddam than they were after the US invasion. That destroys the last of the lies used to justify the war. What the Iraqis have suffered as a result of the invasion is indescribable.

          • John200

            Yup, you’re getting trolled by people who do not seem to know what you wrote.

            Take heart! These worthies will do it again for your next effort. It is the punishment for good work, I reckon.

          • Jdonnell

            You asked in an earlier reply to my contention that Bush lied us into war how one could know what facts he had in his possession. You now respond to Watosh’s specifics by ignoring them and getting into “ressentiment moralists,” which is non-responsive.

            • Tony

              The specifics are not specific. They are allegations, or assertions about the state of mind of other actors (the French, for instance; who had a strong motive for keeping Iraqi oil flowing into Marseilles), and in any situation involving espionage, people are going to have to sift through what is likely and what is not. I treat these things as I treat the allegation that FDR knew that the Japanese were going to attack Pearl Harbor, and that he allowed it to happen because he knew that only such a thing would persuade Americans to enter the war. Even regarding a man as unscrupulous as FDR, I find that a stretch …

              If you say to me, “Bush was a fool,” or “Bush allowed himself to be persuaded,” or “Bush paid attention to the wrong people,” then that’s a fair estimation, and I’m not going to stand up for the war or for Bush’s wisdom. He was, as I’ve said, an old-time liberal. The president he most resembles in that regard was Wilson, whom I have grown to dislike intensely. But if I’m to believe that he was a moral monster, I have to see evidence from the man’s life, and I don’t see that. He shows no signs of self-absorption (Teddy), paranoia (Nixon), vindictiveness (Carter), general dishonesty (Clinton), cruelty, dissipation, etc.

              • Jdonnell

                Like you, I have lost respect for Wilson over the years. FDR too. Of course, he didn’t know that the Japanese would attack Pearl Harbor, but he had done everything to provoke an attack and knew one was coming somewhere. The Japanese had publicly announced that they planned to take action in response to US actions. (The Japanese were divided; some favored further negotiations.) As for Bush, the most charitable thing one might say about him is that he was a willing tool of the Neocon agenda. UN inspectors had found nothing that showed WMDs in Iraq. An alleged sources of production shown from satellite photos was exposed by enterprising reporters–all they had to do was to drive to the site–discovered a dusty, abandoned site, long in disuse. Etc. etc. It was all lies that even a close reading of the newspapers revealed.

                • Carl

                  Gas is not a WMD? Really? His use and possession of gas is a fact. Read Bush’s 2003 State of the Union Speech. Bush never said Saddam had nuclear weapons, he stated that he was developing a nuclear program and trying to purchase uranium.

                  The most charitable thing one might say about one who continues Bashing Bush is that they are a tool of Neosocialists!

                  • Jdonnell

                    Bush and Cheney said repeatedly that Saddam was working to produce nuclear weapons–a lie. The gas production had ceased in the early 90s; Sarin has a shelf life of about five years. Things like anthrax about three years. The entire scenario of WMDs in Iraq was phony from the start. The CIA was used to dissemble and support the charges, while looking the other way at evidence that the WMD allegations were false. Stories about specifics like the aluminum tubes were played up by media that didn’t bother to check to discover that the tubes’ size showed that they could not be used for what was alleged. Only flat-earth mentalities would now argue that there was something to those allegations.

                    • Art Deco

                      Why not come up with a precise quotation and then a citation to a scholarly or official source which says 1. that it is false and 2. that Cheney and Bush knew it was false when they said what they said?

                • Tony

                  There’s a further peculiarity in this case. Again, this is a matter of character and not of the facts or probabilities surrounding Hussein and his actions; I don’t have all of those facts. When Bush was elected, there were screams that he had “stolen” the election, despite the fact that he was ahead in the electoral college after every tallying of the votes in Florida. When he attempted his rapprochement between federal social agencies and faith-based institutions, there were screams that he was a “theocrat,” as if such cooperation had not been the rule in the United States for the better part of two hundred years. On Monday he was ridiculed for being a blithering idiot, and on Tuesday he was loathed for being a Machiavellian mastermind. Wolf, wolf!

                  I think that the truth is most likely a great muddle, as with Johnson’s actions in Vietnam; and I’m willing to give Johnson some benefit of the doubt, even though he in fact did steal his first election, and though he had a streak of cruelty in him, which Bush does not. Most of the political evil that is done in this world seems to me to be the result of a combination of vengeance, glory-seeking, stupidity, misplaced benevolence, fear, confusion, error, idealism, and so on.

                  But the hatred of Bush went far beyond any reasonable evaluation of his political policies, and preceded anything that he did in Iraq. That hatred is a kind of indirect argument for keeping authority and political power as local as possible, because dislike for your mayor is unlikely to spring from, or reinforce, any totalizing and ultimately dehumanizing ideology, of whatever political form.

                • Art Deco

                  the Neocon agenda

                  Quack, quack, down comes Groucho’s duck.

                  • Jdonnell

                    Try reading the text of that agenda in Project for a New American Century.” As a Neocon supporter, however, you may already be familiar with it. The quacking is all from you.

                    • Art Deco

                      The Project for a New American Century was an advocacy bureau assembled by a passably well-connected opinion journalist named William Kristol. At its peak, the offices of the Project employed all of four people.

                      There is a precise parallel to Kristol’s office: the Democracy Project, which was an advocacy bureau founded by a passably well-connected New York “public interest” lawyer named Mark Green. It also employed four people. They put out a string of position papers over a period of seven years and then closed up shop (presumably when the grant money moved to some more interesting vent pipe). Even in the ambo of New York politics, no one ever talked about ‘the Mark Green agenda’ or ‘the quondam Nader’s raider agenda’.

                      I’ve had peace-and-justice Catholics go on to me about Wm. Kristol as if he were some Svengali like figure and referring to public statements and position papers of his outfit as ‘strategic documents’. How a lapsed academic – quondam speechwriter – opinion journalist acquires this talent for manipulating people who have run large public agencies and commercial corporations they do not answer; how he manages to do so while being about as stealthy as a steam calliope they do not answer either.

                      They do not answer, because there’s not a whole lot between their ears for them to answer with.

                    • Jdonnell

                      Your diversionary comment ignores the role of people like Cheney and Rumsfeld in the group–along with a bunch of Israeli-firsters. Wm. Kristol was involved , as was Richard Perle. Others who signed on to the PNAC statement of principles were Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, as well as a number of people whom they recruited to join them in the Bush administration, including Cheney’s National Security Adviser, I. Lewis Libby, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, former Middle East envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, and new special Middle East envoy Elliot Abrams. A few right-wing Republican politicians, Jeb Bush, Dan Quayle, and Steve Forbes signed; two influential representatives of the Christian Right, William Bennett and Gary Bauer; and other influential neo-conservative intellectuals and writers, such as Francis Fukuyama, Norman Podhoretz, Midge Decter, and Eliot Cohen. They supported the agenda declared in a statement written the year before PNAC was founded in 1996.

                      This important document produced by the Project was titled, “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.” The operative but puzzling word in the title–“Realm”–doesn’t specify what realm. Only when the person to whom the document was addressed is the “Realm” made clear. The recipient was Israel’s Netanyahu. The paper called for Israel to be more aggressive and simply grab the West Bank and Gaza. The US was to be invoked on Israel’s behalf, it was implied, by supporting “regime changes” in Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, and Syria. Part of that agenda has already been completed. The beneficiary is Israel and not the US. The PNAC is thus much more than Art Dippo makes it out to be and has no real parallel as he claims.

                    • Art Deco

                      There is no diversion. I gave you a precise description of the dimensions of the organization and what they could bring to bear: enough grant money to provide a staff of four with salaries for a few years. That’s it. They’re not that important. Events are important and policy dilemmas are real.

                    • Jdonnell

                      One of the freedom-loving Crisis fans got my last response blocked; I’ll try again: You provided a non-responsive comment that gave the most basic and uninformative information. The important business is what I provided, with names, agenda, etc. I could have added more names of Neocons who were big in the Bush administration (e.g. John Bolton) and who also support PNAC–many of them whose interests seem more in behalf of Israel than the US. Judith Miller wrote articles in the Times that provided unchecked and false information that was used to help move public opinion toward war. The tenuousness of her evidence was obvious to any careful reader. Louis Libby–another PNAC guy, was thick with her. The list of lies and liars goes on and on. You diverted attention from all this relevant information and substituted pap.

                    • Art Deco

                      You provided a non-responsive comment that gave the most basic and uninformative information.

                      I can do nothing about your reading comprehension issues.

                    • Jdonnell

                      The issue is not comprehension but the fact that you provide nothing of substance about PNAC. Giving organizing details and naming one person (and without saying anything important about him in connection with the PNAC agenda–that Kristol is a Neoco, who lobbies incessantly for Israeli interests and attempts to influence US policy to coincide with Israel’s attempt to establish Mideast hegemony and pusue expansion. These are the agenda issues that matter. You simply divert–or try–to make them disappear by treating the organization as just another group and without particular importance–as implied in your unhelpful account of PNAC.

                    • Watosh

                      It seems like Art Deco should read “Transparent Cabal by Stephen J,
                      Sniegoski, Stephen is a brilliant author who because he speaks the truth he has been pretty much ignored by the powers that be in both the academic and political circles. Stephen cites information that can be checked.

                      Also Art, I thought cathollcs by virtue of their beliefs were for peace and justice. Is there anything wrong in being for “peace and justice?” Of course many who are for peace and justice come from groups that a catholic should not support, but that does not mean that catholics should not support peace and justice.

                    • Art Deco

                      I’m not in the market niche for sucker literature. The rubbish Frank Edwards and Erich van Daniken used to put out was at least mildly entertaining.

                      The trouble with ‘peace and justice’ Catholics – every one I’ve ever encountered anywhere – is that their business is striking attitudes. They actually care nothing about defining justice much less pursuing it nor do they ask any serious questions about what it is that makes for political tranquility and how it is secured. Every last one invariably picks the wrong side in any conflict. So, we have on this site advocates for the Iraqi Ba’ath, advocates (a generation after the fact) for Central American Communists, advocates (two generations after the fact) for the Japanese military while making absurd use of the term ‘war criminal’ to describe banal American politicians and making the most bizarre and vitriolic remarks about one solitary foreign government: Israel.

                      I knew some of the okupiers in my home town to be agreeable people in their mundane life. Their disposition toward the world was disfigured only in their approach to civic life. They were intensely attached to the view of the world they had and had spent decades in ‘protest’ during their free time. All to what end I do not know.

                    • Watosh

                      Art Decor when you say you are “not in the market for sucker literature” like the fanciful tales told by one Erich van Daniken, you are revealing that you are jumping to a conclusion for which you have no justification. You simply dismiss a book without investigating it. When you close your mind to anything that might challenge your beliefs, you also close your mind to the possibility of learning anything. I mean if I decide I know it all, then I do not have to read anything more. However it is my experience that no mortal knows everything and therefore does not need to learn anything more. James Kalb has said, “[The] book (The Transparent Cabal) contributes to an eventual [Iraq war] post mortem by laying out present-day politics that should be public knowledge.” Philip Giraldi a former CIA officer and contributing editor, The American Conservative, said “Sniegoski … broadens the inquiry into many areas that desperately need sunshine and clarity.” To claim that these people are not intelligent enough to recognize “sucker literature” and that you are more knowledgeable than they are in judging current events is making an insupportable claim. It is not a mark of an intellectual to dismiss anyone who might have a different understanding than you as a purveyor of rubbish. To be a searcher after the truth you must be willing to follow the truth wherever it may lead. To be an ideologue, one must never admit any other truth exists, and must peremptorily dismiss any ideas that challenge your beliefs.

                      Now we are agreed that some catholics who profess “peace and justice” are poseurs. I just think that catholics should be concerned with “peace and justice.” After all isn’t this what the Beatitudes say? And of course you know the author of the beatitudes is an authority I don’t think even you would question. I do think a lot of traditionalist/conservative catholics who I am familiar with tend to recoil from the ideas of peace and justice because the liberal catholics, and socialists and marxists all use that as a cover to advance their agenda’s. Now one traditionalist catholic editor has dropped me as a subscriber because I felt he was too closely identifying traditional catholics with the Republican Party, and this I feel is a mistake, even though I recognize the liberal Democrat Party is rotten. It is like avoiding the Scylla by running into Charybdis, I am sure you are aware of this danger recognized from the time of the ancients. In our legal system a lawyer for the defense is required to argue that his client is innocent, so he will automatically counter any accusation by whatever means are available, including sneering at the adverse testimony or ridiculing it or casting aspersions on the testifier. That is necessary in order to defend one’s client, BUT THAT IS NOT THE WAY TO INQUIRE AFTER THE TRUTH. Who is your client Art? If you want to get at the truth, that is one thing, if you are merely defending a client or an ideology, I have no interest., I am not in that market of “Yes you are, No I’m not” type of argument.

                    • Art Deco

                      You simply dismiss a book without investigating it.

                      Two pieces of advice from Mortimer Adler: “When someone tells you not to judge a book by its cover, recall that the cover is what the publisher wants you to see…first”; “Not every book merits a line-by-line reading”.

                      The title “Transparent Cabal:” should be a tip off that what follows is a dubious bit of business. Paul Findlay’s contributions to the volume are another tip off. The thesis is a familiar one (but pre-supposes that the cabals agitating for Israel’s interests were operating at cross purposes with Israel’s government – go figure).

                      What do you intend to recommend next, Protocols of the Elders of Zion?

                    • Watosh

                      I would not recommend any book to you as you are like the blind man who examined an elephant, examined one of the elephant’s legs and became absolutely convinced the elephant was shaped like a tree and he is so sure of that because he felt it himself, and no one then is going to persuade him otherwise. He will not listen to anyone who tries to explain what an elephant really looks like, because the blind man knows what the truth island he doesn’t appreciate anyone who tells him otherwise. He gets mad and nasty if they try to reason with him because he thinks they are trying to con him, when he knows what an elephant looks like. Well if that makes him happy who am I to try and open your eyes. Besides you are getting so much enjoyment out of insulting and goading people. I don’t understand that, like I don’t understand why a couple of crooks beat up an old could after breaking and entering their humble abode because they had little money. Why does someone do that? Why do some people get pleasure in pulling the wings off butterflies, but some do? So there are people I don’t understand and you certainly have made my list. I have met and argued with people over the years, and once spent three hours with some friends, one a professor of English literature at a service academy, the other a writer and lecturer in traditionalist circles, she was very intelligent but they felt very strongly that the Bible said the Sun went around the earth. For a long time I let it go, but that night I thought I really shouldn’t let them continue in their erroneous understanding of reality, and that interpreting the Bible as saying the sun did go around the earth was in error, not that the Bible was in error, they were in error sticking to that interpretation when the facts were otherwise. And I confronted them with so many physical facts, coriolis force, stellar parallax, the celestial mechanics, etc. I spent three hours with them and in the end they still believed in Geocentrism after three hours!. BUT, during the whole sometimes heated arguments that ensued because they were absolutely convinced of geocentrism, we never insulted each other or sneered or made fun of the arguments that were made. That is what I am used to, in all my years, in all my discussions, the noon hour arguments I had with a Phd in Political Science who worked for me were the wonder and talk of the younger members of our office staff, very hot and heavy. but it was civil, in these arguments we always repeated those on the other side. We were searching for the truth. Moreover I would expect catholics to behave better than your average nut that you meet on other website comments. Am I expecting too much. We even had an article in Crisis website recently that was devoted to the desirability for commenters to behave respectfully.

                      Now I am aware that there are now people hired or employed to get the stories that certain factions want getting out and spreading propaganda tha reflect the factions goals. These factions have a lot of money and they are clever. One tactic is to utterly snow someone expressing a different story. a good example was TheAbaum’s list of citations that supported Bush’s claim that he was misled by faulty intelligence. This is critical for Bush and it is a charge often levied, so these people have prepared extensive talking points and statements that support their story,. Hence in two hours time TheAbaum could deluge someone with his long list of citations which I would take some time merely to type this all into the internet. The beauty of thsis tactic is that it is not practical for anyone to prepare a refutation for all these statements.
                      Then for a while Art Decor would comment any time I happened to mention the Iraq war, with “There you go again.” Interesting as this was the tactic Ronald Reagan used against Jimmy Carter to make Carter look bad. Carter would say something or go to say something and Reagan would say, “There youy go again.” Hey it woke, it works. You don’t have to answer the comment, you just dismiss what he says with their he goes again. Art Decor used that against me to intimidate me into avoiding any mention of the iraq war. Well to each, his own.

                    • Art Deco

                      Blah blah blah

                      You recommended a volume by a ‘brilliant writer’ whose antecedent history consisted of penning unpublished monographs on pedestrian topics (until he took up writing polemical volumes about Jewish wire-pullers). You recommended a volume issued by a tainted publisher and blurbed by a mess of well-established obsessives, anti-semites, and cranks.

                      You don’t do this because you have good judgment.

                    • Watosh

                      Art Decor’s specialty is destroying reputations and character. He is good at it, like a goon is good at whacking people physically. Anyone who makes a statement Art Decor doesn’t like he goes to work smearing them. Like any good propagandists he always accuses other people of doing what he himself is doing. Now politicians routinely try to put the worst interpretation on anything their rival says, and of smearing their character. It works that is why politicians do it. They drown out an voices that don’t go along with their created reality. Just look at Art Decor’s comments on Crisis Magazine comments. Now the way to intimidate others is to brand the scarlet A on to their foreheads, once someone is accused of
                      anti-semitism they are guilty as charged and anything they say is to be ignored, and is automatically rendered false without anyone having to actually show evidence that contradicts what they say. It is a powerful word, along with Homophobe and Racist. Hey I better quit now before Art Decor insinuates, in that “artfully” clever style he affects, that I am a racist or homophobe, since he has reached the point in his comments against me where he finds it useful to brand me as “anti-semitic,” Patriotism,someone once said, is the last refuge of scoundrels, but charging someone with being antisemitic is also a popular refuge for scoundrels. Art Decor is a hired gun patrolling these comments to make sure that the lies of the powerful are not found out. Anyway I invite readers of comments about Crisis Magazine articles to pay particular attention to the comments made by Art Decor and to see the pattern in his nastiness and his evasion of embarrassing issues for members of his faction. Don’t listen to me, just read what Art Decor writes, and check that against the actual facts.

                    • Art Deco

                      I am not responsible for whatever ‘reputation and character’ are had by the likes of Paul Findley, Philip Giraldi, Karen Kwiatowski, or Paul Craig Roberts, not to mention the founders of “IHS Press”. There doing, not mine.

                    • Watosh

                      Yes, Art Decor finds Paul Findley, Philip Giraldi, Karen Kwiatowski or Paul Craig Roberts not worth reading because they have reputations and character that are, in his mind anyway, wanting. then I suppose then Art Decor would regard that the statements made by Jesus Christ are not worth looking at because after all Jesus was an itinerant Son of a Jewish carpenter, who wandered about the holy land with no steady job with a small group of uneducated fishermen, and other neer do wells, until He was caught blaspheming and claiming that he was a King and as a result the authorities had to have him put to death at the young age of 33 bean ignominious public crucifixion between two other condemned men who were thieves. i was about to recommend to Art Decor that he read the Beatitudes, but then I knew Art Decor would regard the author as an utter failure as a responsible individual and disdainfully scorn me for making such a stupid suggestion. (Nota Bene, most of the statements above regarding Christ’s career are, generally speaking, true statements, but they are not the whole truth. Much truth has been left out in the above characterization, but you see how Christs life can be distorted by unscrupulous handling of facts.) Actually, I am beginning to suspect that that is what Art Decor thinks of the Catholic faith when he can be among his close friends. Can a leopard change his spots? Art Decor has subjected every author I have cited along with any of their associates with an deliberate misrepresentation of their character in order to to discredit anything they said. I am just a country boy, but the simple country people I grew up with would call this “dishonest.”

                    • Art Deco

                      I thought I recognized the name of the publisher.


                      The book blurbs from the likes of Paul Craig Roberts and Karen Kwiatowski (last seen pushing 9/11 truther mess) are helpful in their way.

                    • Art Deco

                      Why are you offering Philip Giraldi as an authority. Everyone who reads his work knows what he’s about.

                      Stephen is a brilliant author who because he speaks the truth he has
                      been pretty much ignored by the powers that be in both the academic and
                      political circles. Stephen cites information that can be checked.

                      Sniegoski is a common type: a failed academic, now fairly elderly. No clue how he’s earned a living the last four decades, other than it appears he had some sort of position in the historical division of one or another federal agency. He produced two theses at the University of Maryland – one in 1972 and the other in 1977 on rather dry topics (Depresson-era federal agencies) and a monograph for a school publisher on the federal Department of Education a dozen years after that. He appears to have placed an article in a minor academic history journal on one of his thesis topics in 1990. He produced another unpublished typescript on a late 19th c. federal official in 1995. His dabbling in diplomatic history as he entered late middle age was a new departure. Where’s the ‘brilliance’?

                      EIght years later, he emerges

                    • Jdonnell

                      Exactly, and I agree about Sniegoski. Some freedom loving Crisis responder has had me blocked.

        • fredx2

          It’s amazing to me when people swallow whole only one side of an argument. Some of the above is true, some is false. The Downing street memo did not prove anything at all, that is why most discount it. Bush was told by the CIA director that the evidence that Saddam had WMD’s was a “slam dunk”. Another defector, “Curveball”, told us that Saddam had WMD’s. It was a massive intelligence failure, because everyone in the world believed Saddam had WMD’s even his own generals. He acted like it, and he wanted others to believe he had them. The French believed it, the Germans believed it, the English believed it, the Russians believed it.

          • Watosh

            This everyone in the world believed Saddam Hussein had WMD’s is absolutely not true, unless you believe that anything repeated three times becomes the truth. The Downing Street memo proved the English understood the fix was in. They even said Bush was considering painting U.S. planes with the insignia of the U.N., then provoking Saddam’s forces into firing on it so then they could use this as an excuse to invade. Bush made a number of demands on Saddam during the lead up to war, and Saddam gave into every demand until finally after this Bush demanded Saddam leave Iraq within 24 hours, which he knew Saddam couldn’t meet. The french didn’t know that Saddam had WMDs since they wanted to give the inspectors more time to make sure that there were no WMD’s. We reacted to this by boycotting French goods, renaming French fries to Liberty Fries and every in the media routinely made fun of everything French for two or three months. Nobody stands in the way of the American bully, without being made to “pay” for it. Nobody “disses” us and gets away with it. Now Putin is getting the treatment.And by the way the Russians tried to pass us information that Saddam Hussein did not have WMD’s which we ignored. But if the media and our politicians stick together, by managing perception we can control what the truth is. This has been demonstrated here.

        • TheAbaum

          Apparently, a lot of people “lied”.

          [W]e urge you, after consulting with Congress, and consistent with the U.S. Constitution and laws, to take necessary actions (including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq’s refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs.” — From a letter signed by Joe Lieberman, Dianne Feinstein, Barbara A. Milulski, Tom Daschle, & John Kerry among others on October 9, 1998

          “This December will mark three years since United Nations inspectors last visited Iraq. There is no doubt that since that time, Saddam Hussein has reinvigorated his weapons programs. Reports indicate that biological, chemical and nuclear programs continue apace and may be back to pre-Gulf War status. In addition, Saddam continues to refine delivery systems and is doubtless using the cover of a licit missile program to develop longer- range missiles that will threaten the United States and our allies.” — From a December 6, 2001 letter signed by Bob Graham, Joe Lieberman, Harold Ford, & Tom Lantos among others

          “Whereas Iraq has consistently breached its cease-fire agreement between Iraq and the United States, entered into on March 3, 1991, by failing to dismantle its weapons of mass destruction program, and refusing to permit monitoring and verification by United Nations inspections; Whereas Iraq has developed weapons of mass destruction, including chemical and biological capabilities, and has made positive progress toward developing nuclear weapons capabilities” — From a joint resolution submitted by Tom Harkin and Arlen Specter on July 18, 2002

          “Saddam’s goal … is to achieve the lifting of U.N. sanctions while retaining and enhancing Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs. We cannot, we must not and we will not let him succeed.” — Madeline Albright, 1998

          “(Saddam) will rebuild his arsenal of weapons of mass destruction and some day, some way, I am certain he will use that arsenal again, as he has 10 times since 1983″ — National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, Feb 18, 1998

          “Iraq made commitments after the Gulf War to completely dismantle all weapons of mass destruction, and unfortunately, Iraq has not lived up to its agreement.” — Barbara Boxer, November 8, 2002

          “The last UN weapons inspectors left Iraq in October of 1998. We are confident that Saddam Hussein retained some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and that he has since embarked on a crash course to build up his chemical and biological warfare capability. Intelligence reports also indicate that he is seeking nuclear weapons, but has not yet achieved nuclear capability.” — Robert Byrd, October 2002

          “There’s no question that Saddam Hussein is a threat… Yes, he has chemical and biological weapons. He’s had those for a long time. But the United States right now is on a very much different defensive posture than we were before September 11th of 2001… He is, as far as we know, actively pursuing nuclear capabilities, though he doesn’t have nuclear warheads yet. If he were to acquire nuclear weapons, I think our friends in the region would face greatly increased risks as would we.” — Wesley Clark on September 26, 2002

          “What is at stake is how to answer the potential threat Iraq represents with the risk of proliferation of WMD. Baghdad’s regime did use such weapons in the past. Today, a number of evidences may lead to think that, over the past four years, in the absence of international inspectors, this country has continued armament programs.” — Jacques Chirac, October 16, 2002

          “The community of nations may see more and more of the very kind of threat Iraq poses now: a rogue state with weapons of mass destruction, ready to use them or provide them to terrorists. If we fail to respond today, Saddam and all those who would follow in his footsteps will be emboldened tomorrow.” — Bill Clinton in 1998

          “In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including Al Qaeda members, though there is apparently no evidence of his involvement in the terrible events of September 11, 2001. It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons. Should he succeed in that endeavor, he could alter the political and security landscape of the Middle East, which as we know all too well affects American security.” — Hillary Clinton, October 10, 2002

          “I am absolutely convinced that there are weapons…I saw evidence back in 1998 when we would see the inspectors being barred from gaining entry into a warehouse for three hours with trucks rolling up and then moving those trucks out.” — Clinton’s Secretary of Defense William Cohen in April of 2003

          “Iraq is not the only nation in the world to possess weapons of mass destruction, but it is the only nation with a leader who has used them against his own people.” — Tom Daschle in 1998

          “Saddam Hussein’s regime represents a grave threat to America and our allies, including our vital ally, Israel. For more than two decades, Saddam Hussein has sought weapons of mass destruction through every available means. We know that he has chemical and biological weapons. He has already used them against his neighbors and his own people, and is trying to build more. We know that he is doing everything he can to build nuclear weapons, and we know that each day he gets closer to achieving that goal.” — John Edwards, Oct 10, 2002

          “The debate over Iraq is not about politics. It is about national security. It should be clear that our national security requires Congress to send a clear message to Iraq and the world: America is united in its determination to eliminate forever the threat of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.” — John Edwards, Oct 10, 2002

          “I share the administration’s goals in dealing with Iraq and its weapons of mass destruction.” — Dick Gephardt in September of 2002

          “Iraq does pose a serious threat to the stability of the Persian Gulf and we should organize an international coalition to eliminate his access to weapons of mass destruction. Iraq’s search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to completely deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power.” — Al Gore, 2002

          “We are in possession of what I think to be compelling evidence that Saddam Hussein has, and has had for a number of years, a developing capacity for the production and storage of weapons of mass destruction.” — Bob Graham, December 2002

          “Saddam Hussein is not the only deranged dictator who is willing to deprive his people in order to acquire weapons of mass destruction.” — Jim Jeffords, October 8, 2002

          “We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction.” — Ted Kennedy, September 27, 2002

          “There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein’s regime is a serious danger, that he is a tyrant, and that his pursuit of lethal weapons of mass destruction cannot be tolerated. He must be disarmed.” — Ted Kennedy, Sept 27, 2002

          “I will be voting to give the president of the United States the authority to use force – if necessary – to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security.” — John F. Kerry, Oct 2002

          “The threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real, but as I said, it is not new. It has been with us since the end of that war, and particularly in the last 4 years we know after Operation Desert Fox failed to force him to reaccept them, that he has continued to build those weapons. He has had a free hand for 4 years to reconstitute these weapons, allowing the world, during the interval, to lose the focus we had on weapons of mass destruction and the issue of proliferation.” — John Kerry, October 9, 2002

          “(W)e need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime. We all know the litany of his offenses. He presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation. …And now he is miscalculating America’s response to his continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction. That is why the world, through the United Nations Security Council, has spoken with one voice, demanding that Iraq disclose its weapons programs and disarm. So the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real, but it is not new. It has been with us since the end of the Persian Gulf War.” — John Kerry, Jan 23, 2003

          “We begin with the common belief that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and a threat to the peace and stability of the region. He has ignored the mandates of the United Nations and is building weapons of mass destruction and the means of delivering them.” — Carl Levin, Sept 19, 2002

          “Every day Saddam remains in power with chemical weapons, biological weapons, and the development of nuclear weapons is a day of danger for the United States.” — Joe Lieberman, August, 2002

          “Over the years, Iraq has worked to develop nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. During 1991 – 1994, despite Iraq’s denials, U.N. inspectors discovered and dismantled a large network of nuclear facilities that Iraq was using to develop nuclear weapons. Various reports indicate that Iraq is still actively pursuing nuclear weapons capability. There is no reason to think otherwise. Beyond nuclear weapons, Iraq has actively pursued biological and chemical weapons.U.N. inspectors have said that Iraq’s claims about biological weapons is neither credible nor verifiable. In 1986, Iraq used chemical weapons against Iran, and later, against its own Kurdish population. While weapons inspections have been successful in the past, there have been no inspections since the end of 1998. There can be no doubt that Iraq has continued to pursue its goal of obtaining weapons of mass destruction.” — Patty Murray, October 9, 2002

          “As a member of the House Intelligence Committee, I am keenly aware that the proliferation of chemical and biological weapons is an issue of grave importance to all nations. Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process.” — Nancy Pelosi, December 16, 1998

          “Even today, Iraq is not nearly disarmed. Based on highly credible intelligence, UNSCOM [the U.N. weapons inspectors] suspects that Iraq still has biological agents like anthrax, botulinum toxin, and clostridium perfringens in sufficient quantity to fill several dozen bombs and ballistic missile warheads, as well as the means to continue manufacturing these deadly agents. Iraq probably retains several tons of the highly toxic VX substance, as well as sarin nerve gas and mustard gas. This agent is stored in artillery shells, bombs, and ballistic missile warheads. And Iraq retains significant dual-use industrial infrastructure that can be used to rapidly reconstitute large-scale chemical weapons production.” — Ex-Un Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter in 1998

          “There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years. And that may happen sooner if he can obtain access to enriched uranium from foreign sources — something that is not that difficult in the current world. We also should remember we have always underestimated the progress Saddam has made in development of weapons of mass destruction.” — John Rockefeller, Oct 10, 2002

          “Saddam’s existing biological and chemical weapons capabilities pose a very real threat to America, now. Saddam has used chemical weapons before, both against Iraq’s enemies and against his own people. He is working to develop delivery systems like missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles that could bring these deadly weapons against U.S. forces and U.S. facilities in the Middle East.” — John Rockefeller, Oct 10, 2002

          • Thomas

            I gotta compliment you on the case you managed to build here. I’ve gotten to thinking you and Mr. Deco are highly placed CIA guys. You two seem to have a large body of facts at your disposal.

            • TheAbaum

              No CIA connection for me. I do have a long memory and a cetain gift for designing search targets that give me wheat with minimal chaff.

            • ForChristAlone

              They just happen to be better informed than most.

            • Art Deco

              The Census Bureau, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics have quite a mass of publicly available data to put paid to Hombre111’s rubbish about political economy. The World Bank publishes interactive data. The OECD publishes data. The Federal Reserve publishes data. The Bank for International Settlements publishes data.No CIA secret decoder ring necessary. Anyone who works in higher education will likely have access to a mess of databases of scholarly literature as well (depending on what sort of institution employs you).

          • Watosh

            TheAbaum has got it right, a lot of people did tell lies. They knew they could because they had the liberal, democrat favoring press was an ally who was in the game with them. They know that if you repeat a lie three times then it becomes the truth. The politicians of the Bush administration would feed some false story to the press, then when the press printed it they would tell the public the same thing and say if you don’t believe me, why then look, the newspaper iis also reporting this. A favorite journalist they would leak to is Judy Miller of the New York Times. Eventually the role she played did come out and she was forced to resign. The thing these people all know is that like any group of criminals their safety lies in everyone of them telling the same story. They have vast sums at their disposal, the government was revealed to have planted stories in Iraqi news papers and also to have paid certain independent reporters to report favorably in the news. And they know the vast majority of Americans who watch the awful sitcom comedies, sports and jump up and down on cue on the Price is Right Program can be told anything and they will swallow it.

            Just look at the comment TheAbaum has turned out. I just give a couple examples that come to mind as I respond to support my claim that Bush lied, and TheAbaum in the space of two hours gives quotation after quotation along with who said when and where in answer. How is one person able to on a moments notice marshal all these citations? It indicates that they have large resources to devote to answering critics. They evidently have money and resources above those of the average commenter sitting alone at their desk. They swamp those with their propaganda, which a lot is right out of the book by Brian Anse Patrick “The Ten commandments of Propaganda,” and Jaques Elul’s book “Propaganda.” They also know the most effective propaganda is the selective publishing of true statements, more lies being promulgated this way than just aout and out lying. To critique each of the statements TheAbaum has made and to show that they are incomplete is beyond one person’s ability in a venue like this. For example Tom Harkin claimed Iraq has consistently breached its cease fire agreements with the U.S. made in 1991. Fact we consistently bombed Iraq all during the ’90’s and strafed Iraq during this time, during which no U.S. plane not one was ever shot down. Finally let me point out that it is no secret Israel wanted the U.S. to invade Iraq, along with other American interests like the oil companies and the U.S. military contractors, and it is no secret that the American congress will pass nearly unanimously any bill that AIPAC writes to help Israel. Israel and the Neocons who were very powerful in the Bush administration were closely allied. Israel exerts a poerful influence on our politicians, and this is widely recognized. So naturally the neocons and Israeli sympathizers will defend the invasion of Iraq. I just say look at all the facts, not just those hand selected by the TheAbaum.

            • TheAbaum

              “How is one person able to on a moments notice marshal all these citations? ”


          • Jdonnell

            Lots of time to cut and paste. Yes. lots of people lied, including the CIA people who slanted things at the insistence of the leading liars in the Bush White House. Also include hirelings like Mr. Butler, who has now disappeared down the memory hole. Others, some listed in your silly post, were not so much liars or dupes or opportunists who profited in one way or another by supporting the Bush allegations.

        • Arriero

          I call the Irak War the «Great Keynesian War» of the XXIst century, following the example already established by which has been the greatest Keynesian war in American history, the Second World War*. The Irak War was simply a way – probably the only way – that Bush had to boost a very weak economy, to insufflate popularity to his not very succesful presidency and to prolong a credit and housing bubble that was already showing sign of danger. I’ve even been read some texts from Greg Mankiw – who back then was an important economic advisor of the President – where he seems to support this same thesis about the real (or at least an underlying) cause behind the Irak war. In fact, when he explains the IS-LM model in his Macroeconomics book, he has a short section talking about Bush policies where he also seems to point out to this same fact.

          PS- One of the implicit thesis in Piketty’s book is that only a global war might get us out of this «secular stagnation» (paraphrasing Larry Summers, another «marxist free-marketer, as I call them). In fact, wars have always been the medium by which enough capital has been destroyed in order to let space for a thriving recovery and reconstruction (this certainly explains the great growth and prosperity that arose from the ashes of the WWII). This is, indeed, the real meaning behind the concept of «creative destruction» in Schumpeter.

          PSS- I would also like to say that the book of Piketty should be much more discussed and analyzed within Catholic circles. The problem of income maldistribution, harmful (and dangerous) rent-seekers and non-productive parasitical agents is of foremost importance in our economic system and Catholics do have many things to say in this regard. Piketty is certainly a socialist (although he follows the premises of classical and mainstream economics. In fact, there was no more classical economist than Marx himself), but we should discuss his thesis, not his ideology.

          * The Second World War was also the Great Keynesian War in German history, with the big difference that they lost. It has been widely studied the relation that exists between the New Deal and other Roosevelt policies and the economic ideology of the national sozialists of Hitler.

          • TheAbaum

            “This is, indeed, the real meaning behind the concept of «creative destruction» in Schumpeter.”

            No it’s not. Shumpeter was talking about technological change, not the wanton physical destruction of war.

            “but we should discuss his thesis, not his ideology”.

            Interesting assertion from a guy who routinely dismisses arguments based on IMAGINED connections to Calvin. Confronted with a declared socialist, ideology is suddenly unimportant.

            Your screeds are the most noxious amalgams of ignorance and inconsistency.

            You can’t even spell I R A Q.

            • Watosh

              You just can’t refrain from hurling insults can you? If someone disagrees with what you believe, then you must destroy them. Which seems to be what animates American foreign policy, like attracts like they say.

              • TheAbaum

                You guys destroy yourselves, I merely draw attention to your inaccuracies and inconsistencies.

            • Arriero

              – «No it’s not. Shumpeter was talking about technological change, not the wanton physical destruction of war.»

              First of all, it’s worth saying that Schumpeter developed the concept – in his book «Capitalism, socialism and democracy» (1942) – out of a very careful reading of Marx’s work. We, authentic Catholics, know that Marx The Economist is a cornerstone in the development of modern economic theory and we also know that some of his criticism and insights about the nature of capitalism are not only useful, but well entrenched among very different economic system, like within the austrian school for instance, although they don’t know it. We, authentic Catholics, don’t fear what Marx wrote or said, because we’ve previously read the studies from the first and real economists in history, those from the School of Salamanca, following the path opened by Thomas Aquinas et al.

              In short, let me be clearer: Marx is a product of the very anti-Catholic Robespierran Revolution – although he heavily critized it – and a cornerstone among what we now call «classical economists». Marx is exactly in the same path were others like Rodbertus, Ricardo, Smith or Mill wandered before or after. As them, he is a by-product of the economic ideas borned just after the Reformation – which opened the box of relativism – and a great promoter and defender of these very harmful ideas. For us, authentic Catholics, Marx The Economist is not very different from the rest of mostly anglo-saxon pseudo-calvinist economists. And that is why we don’t like him – which does not mean we don’t have to read him -. This also explains why in our current anti-economic and anti-capitalist system there are too many pseudo-marxists wrapped under the veil of lovers of the free market (of course, they never explain what does it mean this cheap metaphysics concept of «free market»…).

              Having said that, Scumpeter’s «creative destruction» (= «process of industrial mutation that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one.») is precisely what I’ve said it is. In fact, I use the greek concept of «ἀποκατάστασις» (Apocatastasis) to refer to this same concept, a concept taken from Origen, by the way. Everything we must know can be found already either in the Greeks or in the Church.

              – «Confronted with a declared socialist, ideology is suddenly unimportant.»

              I’ve not said that ideology was unimportant, I’ve said that we must focus on the facts, on his thesis. We Catholics already know and have discussed this ideology, but we have not yet discussed what he has pointed out in his book.

              – «You can’t even spell I R A Q.»

              Of course, in the language of the Empire of the Catholic Faith it’s completely correct to write IRAQ (as well as Irak). http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irak#cite_note-5

              It’s a pity that either Spain, France or Portugal never colonized Iraq, it would have been full of Catholics nowadays… These are the subtle differences between Protestant Empires (predator Empires) and Catholic Empires (generator Empires*).

              * There is a huge amount of study about the difference between «Generator Empires» and «Predator Empires» and its analysis; and also the relation between Catholicism and the generation and Protestantism and predation. I do not improvise. These are not happy ideas, all this has already been profoundly studied and discussed before.
              http://www.filosofia.org/filomat/df584.htm (what is a generator Empire)
              http://www.filosofia.org/filomat/df585.htm (Spain as a Catholic and generator Empire)
              http://www.fgbueno.es/act/efo026.htm (Is the US a predator or a generator Empire?)

              • TheAbaum

                “Having said that, Scumpeter’s «creative destruction» (= «process of industrial mutation that incessantly revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one.») is precisely what I’ve said it is.”

                Has nothing, I repeat NOTHING to do with war.

                “I’ve not said that ideology was unimportant, I’ve said that we must focus on the facts, on his thesis.”

                I’ll feel free to quote you the next time you attempt to dispose of an argument with your inane imputations of Calvinism.

                • Arriero

                  In the case of pseudo-calvinist is important discussing the ideology as well as the ideas because both are harmfully wandering within some Catholic circles nowadays, just like marxist ideas were wandering within some Catholic groups fourty years ago or so (and there are still some residual corpuscles, but that’s is no longer the MAIN problem). Pope Benedict and Pope John Paul did a good cleaning of marxism in the Church (one day I will expose the thesis about the real why behind the impact of marxism in some Catholic circles*). Now it’s time to do the same cleaning with pseudo-calvinist theories. These theories are disturbing, and very harmful, especially in the political-economic front; a first step, by the way, before undermining the social super-structure that the Church has always defended.

                  * During the first half of the XXth century there was an extended lema in some Southern European countries, especially in Spain and Italy, which said: «Católicos y comunistas podemos ir juntos hasta la muerte. Allí nos separamos, comunistas al infierno y católicos al cielo» (Catholics and Communists can go together until death. Then we will separate ourselves, Communists to hell, and Catholics to heaven).

                  – «Can you try to spare us your rambling and incoherent soliloquies?»

                  Yes, enough for today. Already quite late.

                  All this reminds me a piece of a song… «I don’t care what nobody say/I’m a many of a many word/I can speak things to you darlin’, my dear/I could swear that you never heard». Good night!


                  • TheAbaum

                    “In the case of pseudo-calvinist is important discussing the ideology as well as the ideas because both are harmfully wandering within some Catholic circles nowadays, just like marxist ideas were wandering within some Catholic groups fourty years ago or so (and there are still some residual corpuscles, but that’s is no longer the MAIN problem)”

                    Your attempts at reason are bizarre. There’s simply no other way to characterize it.

                    You uncharitably accuse everybody that doesn’t buy into your pseudo-Catholic statism a “Calvinist”, but in the case of an actual Socialist, you assert that overtly held ideology is exempt from examination.

                    Of course anything to further your statist idolatry.

                    • John200

                      This is just a guess, but Arreiro seems to be thinking in another language, then translating into English.

                      My “evidence” is negative and subjective; I cannot determine what he thinks from his comments. And I have tried, quite a few times.

                    • TheAbaum

                      His stuff reads like Theodore Kazinskis.

                    • Art Deco

                      Do you mean the Unabomber, or the chap who posts here using the handle of a professor at Wyoming Catholic College?

                    • TheAbaum

                      Sounds like the one.

                    • Arriero

                      – «You uncharitably accuse everybody that doesn’t buy into your pseudo-Catholic statism a “Calvinist”»

                      I speak of «pseudo-calvinists», not of calvinists; pseudo-calvinists are not even pure calvinists, they’ve just caught some concepts and ideas and have made an explosive mix. I don’t care the most about real calvinists who already excised from the Church some centuries ago and whose theories we (Catholics) know are a cluster of stupidities – mostly because we have already discussed them in the last four centuries -, beginning with their awful vision of human freedom (*) (and which had quite a big influence in some Fathers of the US nation and also in other pseudo-theories like the Manifest Destiny, etc.). The calvinist doctrine can easily be summarized with an acronym: TULIP (Total Depravity, Unconditional Election, Limited Atonement, Irresistible Calling, Perseverance of the Saints).

                      Yet, I do care about those within the Catholic Church that feel morbid attraction by some theories, ideas or even ideologies that should not exist within the Church and which enter in heavy contradiction with the history and tradition of the Catholic Church. I’ve seen how these waves are especially spread among Catholic circles living in overwhelming protestant countries. There is even nowadays a difference – sometimes maybe difficult to grasp for some – between an Irish Catholic and an English Catholic, or between a Slovak Catholic and a Czech Catholic, or between a South-German Catholic and a North-German Catholic. German Catholics, for instance, don’t understand how Easter is celebrated in Spain. For them that’s usually as being in another world, a world of «medieval» – even under-developed – people. In the US the penetration of pseudo-calvinist views is especially strong among due to historic, social but especially political reasons. When you have to vote either one party or another, you have to buy a whole pack which includes many things, and some of them might not be appropiate.

                      Having said that, not all Americans are pseudo-calvinists, of course. I would say they there is just a very tiny minority (or I would like to think that), but quite influential sometimes (**) (like those who explicitly called a Pope marxist). Marxism has already been overcome (no longer any Catholic publicly and loudly says: «I’m a marxist and an authentic Catholic». There are those who feel somewhat an attraction, but they no longer dare to say certain things in public). Pseudo-calvinism is still to be completely overcome (in this case you still hear things like «The Pope is a marxist who should talk about the things he knows [i.e. about abortion and other things we all agree already, and those who don’t agree we know already that they’re wrong] and not about economics [a topic where Catholics have many things to say, just like german Catholics had a lot to say regarding the creation of the German post-war economic system [Ordoliberalism]», «The Latin Pope comes from an under-developed place [while the US is the example to be applied everywhere and by everyone] where everybody believes in the State as his Saviour [whereas these countries have certainly the problem of having a very weak and dysfunctional state. Everybody knows that there are few states in the world more powerful than the US. Any super-power has to have a powerful state, that is a fact. In Europe everybody knows Germany and France have bigger and more powerful states than Greece, Spain or Italy]», «the ultimate values of the US are liberty and democracy [obviating the Church teachings, history and tradition]», etc.).

                      The pseudo-calvinist memo is simply a metaphor to understand and join a group of dispersed ideologies and ideas present in some Catholic groups and which deepen their roots in the first teachings of the Reformation (for me, and for many others who have studied the topic more than I, marxism is another product of the Reformation; just like the French Revolution [anti-throne, anti-altar]).

                      – «but in the case of an actual Socialist, you assert that overtly held ideology is exempt from examination.»

                      No, the difference is that it has already been examined in depth. And we do have a clear answer. Do you still have doubts about marxism? And we should be a bit more careful about the terminology: is not the same marxism, socialism, social-democracy and communism. There is nothing more socialist than the ideas supported by many «marxist free-marketers». Actually, is there anything more socialist than socialize the losses and privatize the gains? (I avoid another big argumentation of this with some images below).

                      – «Where was it they won control in the last decade? Oh yeah the Socialists won in “Catholic” Spain.»

                      With an ideology imported from American liberals, of course. That is to say, a basket of dumb ideas, rubbish wishful-thinking and nonsensical cognitive illusions. Let me say that there has not been in Spain anyone more socialist from an economic point of view than Franco. All socialisms are not the same. The American liberal suit&tie socialism of darlings is especially harmful, mostly due to its awful anuses&fetuses ideology that so much harm has done, especially because it has been exported all over the world. In Spain divorce was outlawed until the 80’s (and Spain had the highest rates of marriages and the lowest rates of divorce in Europe), and there was a very restrictive abortion law and no homosexual marriage and other nonsenses under Felipe González, for instance, a socialist who was governing during 13 years. I hate the American liberal ideology almost above everything, you can be sure of it. In Spain and in Europe, all socialists are looking to Obama constantly and what the US liberals (like Krugman in the economic front) say or do.

                      (*) Stonewall Jackson was always asked about the reason of his courage in the battle. Just before being murdered, he answered that he did not fear death because his destiny was already writen and he knew he would die whenever and wherever was time for it, despite what he had done before.

                      (**) There is a Spanish economist (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jes%C3%BAs_Huerta_de_Soto ) who has been his entire career trying to show and prove how Catholicism and Anarco-liberalism are compatible. He is more papist than the Pope. He was actually one of the first to introduce Rothbard, Hayek and others from the anglo-german protestant world who, of course, were totally unknown in a country with people like Azpilicueta, Vitoria, Juan de Mariana, etc., who were authentic Catholic economists. .

                      Some food for thinking:




                    • TheAbaum

                      “I speak of «pseudo-calvinists», not of calvinists; pseudo-calvinists are not even pure calvinists, they’ve just caught some concepts and ideas and have made an explosive mix.”

                      In other words an inchoate phantom of your mind, a boogeyman.

                • Mike Koopman

                  Did I hear someone incoherently say that everyone wants Schumpeter for nothingness, no?

        • Paul

          You need to do a search for “curveball informant” to verify for yourself where the whole WMD saga began.
          Moreover, Hans Blix was very suspicious of Saddam’s intentions as he & other UN weapons inspectors were deliberately delayed time after time by Saddam in carrying out their task at certain sensitive sites.

          • Watosh

            Curveball was a notorious liar who the Germans advised the U.S. that he was unreliable and erratic and should not be taken seriously. The Germans tried to warn us not to put much reliance in any thing he said. “Curveball is an iconic figure for people feeding unreliable information to the U.S. neocon establishment who simply wanted to hear such stories. Odd that you should bring his name up.

            Now it is true that Saddam would try to impede U.N. inspectors from time to time. But remember we finally admitted we had placed spies on the inspection team that were interested in getting intelligence on Iraqi’s military capabilities beyond WMD’s and location of targets for our frequent bombings during the truce period. When Saddam made that claim about spies being present we denied this in the media (as the fellow says “Never believe anything until it is officially denied.”) Later it was admitted by the inspectors they di have some spies. Now mind you Saddm did not “kick” the U.N. inspectors out of Iraq, President Clinton ordered them to leave so they would’t get hurt in an upcoming bombing attack on Iraq.

            Finally just before we invaded Iraq when the question of Saddam’s possession of WMD’s was raised, I recall Hans Blix saying publicly that he believed that Saddam Hussein did not have WMDs. Why I remember this is that after Blix made that statement Rush Limbaugh laughed at that statement and said Hans Blix was an incompetent fool because he, Rush Limbaugh, knew absolutely that Saddam had WMDs. Blix was simply wrong according to Rush who always bragged he was proven to be right about 99,9 % right in anything he said. Now this was an overstatement of course, and Rush was right a lot of times in criticizing actions of the Clinton administration and the Democrats, because he could be truthful in reporting their errors. They gave him much ammunition. Anyway it turned out Hans Blix was right and Rush was flat wrong because Blix based his opinion on facts and Rush based, his on ideology.

        • JBear

          Bush lied with tragic consequences that will haunt our nation and the lives of millions for generations. Needless to say, it wasn’t the warmongers who went to war and got shot at. Anyone who stood up against the Bush administration was cut down. I well remember what Joe Wilson and his wife, Valerie Plame, had to endure.

          • Art Deco

            1. Bush did not lie. You just did.
            2. Wilson was a career foreign service officer peddling a public scam with the co-operation of his wife. Neither were ‘cut down’ or inconvenienced in the least by anything but public embarrassment. They retain their admirers among a certain sort of political fanatic.

            • JBear

              That is simply nonsense. You are bleating out the old party line and expecting us to follow it as you did. Sorry. What was done to Wilson and Plame was malicious and inexcusable. If Bush didn’t lie, it was only because he was a puppet in the hands of malevolent people. It’s hard to believe he was that stupid, but then again …

              • Art Deco

                Take your meds and stop bothering normal adults.

                • JBear

                  You obviously have no logical arguments, so you resort to childish name calling. You just annihilated your own credibility.

          • Watosh

            Well said. And now the neocons like Robert Kagan, that exert a powerful influence by virtue of their connections with some very rich sponsors and his wife, Victoria Nuland, Assistant Secretary of State for Euroasian affairs, who was also prominent in the Bush administration which demonstrates the influence exercised by the neocon establishment, who engineered the overthrow of an elected Ukrainian Government and made obscene comments about her European puppets recently are using their talents to create a possible war with Russia. These people like Robert Kagan who urged the U.S. to attack Iraq, not only did not lose a single nights sleep because of the war, but even after having given advice that has proved disastrous are still listened to by the new Administration, ostensibly of the opposite political party, and their role in the disaster is being denied by such as Art Deco. That tells us something about Art Deco.

      • Jdonnell

        Response to:
        1. It is not uncharitable to state the truth, especially when it involves lies that led to thousands of dead US troops and many more thousands of dead Iraqis. Top Bush administration officials can’t go to some countries for fear of facing charges of being war criminals. If Bush was not in possession of facts, he had an obligation to get them; they were available, even if Cheney did his best to keep them from him. Even articles in the NY Times, whose Ms. Miller helped to promote lies often ended articles with qualified statements that showed a lack of certainty about the alleged WMDs. (Even had Iraq had them, a US invasion was not justified.) Are high approval ratings supposed to justify immorality? Bush and Cheney (who seems to have been traumatized by seeing student radicals at the U. of Wisconsin), had a mind filled with cant, as did Rummy and W. The Bush White House dismissed facts that did not fit the agenda for war, which is something the Neocons were promoting even before 9/11, which gave them the opportunity to advance their agenda as composed by Richard Perle and Co. in the Project for a New American Century that called for regime changes in Iraq, Syria, etc. Slowly, this Israel-oriented outfit’s agenda is being fulfilled.
        2, Tillman, God rest his soul, had a head full of cant; otherwise, he might have stopped to wonder why attacking Iraq was any response to 9/11. That you now offer 9/11 as a basis for attacking Iraq suggests another cant-filled head. Over one hundred congressional representatives voted against invading Iraq, as did nearly two dozen senators, and including the head of the Intelligence Committee. So, not all politicians seem to suffer from the cant cancer. Making the silly suggestion that all politicians may suffer from cant is itself based on cant.
        3. Boswell gives no context for Johnson’s remark about patriotism. Of course, he meant false patriotism, which perhaps marks the character of most of those who use the term to describe their own politics–the same as those who think that sticking a flag on the lawn or wearing a flag lapel-pin proves it. Hawkins, another of Johnson’s acquaintances, notes that “his frequent reflections on the politics of this country, and the willingness of the people to be deceived, had begot in Johnson…an apathy….” Today, he might have had a similar reaction. Too many Americans, full of false patriotism, rushed off to fight in an unjust war.
        4. We have a responsibility to refrain from war and killing whenever we can. That responsibility includes finding out facts and doing some deep, critical thinking about them. Those who rushed off to Iraq seem to have done neither one. As for S. Korea, the country may not be quite as “free” as you might think. The war there was also spurred by false news that the media hyped. N. Korea was accused of torpedoing and sinking a S. Korean ship, although no evidence of the presence of any N. Korean vessel was ever produced. N. Korea had been trying to normalize relations with the US, so that an attack was unlikely. Some historians now believe that the US may even have staged the attack in a false-flag operation. I do not pretend to know. What is clear, however, that no war was necessary, and the US used such arguments as N. Korea was “Communist” (as if that is justification for war), or that it posed a threat to US national security (also nonsense). As I said, since WW II the US has engaged in a series of immoral wars. To say that s not a sign of hating the US, as you seem to think; to love one’s country ought to mean making it better and objecting to policies when they are unjust or immoral. That what real conservatism is.

        • Tony

          A Ressentiment moralist may be correct or incorrect as to fact; that does not affect his moral and spiritual malady.

          You have suggested here that my own mind is filled with cant. But I have taken no position on the Iraq War. I have taken a position on people who exulted with contempt for a man who died fighting in it. That appears to me to be pretty repugnant.

          On the specifics of the man, George W. Bush, only God knows the state of his soul. From a most peculiar circumstance that I was witness to many years ago, I’ve adopted this policy when I’m evaluating a bitter argument between two parties and I am not privy to the facts. I tend to judge AGAINST the party casting personal — not intellectual or even political, but personal — aspersions against his opponent. I also try to notice the very rare instances of the converse, that is, when someone in a bitter argument does NOT cast personal aspersions against his opponent.

          The notable thing about Bush fils is that he never did what everyone in both parties does all the time. He never attacked the persons of his opponents, or their integrity, or even their intellects. Even his father, Bush pere, did that once in a long while, but the younger just didn’t do it. Nancy Pelosi is a very silly twit, but Bush fils never treated her with anything but grace. He never retaliated against people who compared him with Hitler. He never retaliated against his one-time friend O’Neill, when the man resigned from his cabinet and attacked his fiscal policies.

          Even Al Gore unwittingly testified to this feature of Bush fils’ character, when he said on television, two weeks before the election, that he envied Bush, because “if George loses, he’ll just go back to his ranch, and it won’t matter to him, but I can’t do that, because this means everything to me.” That comment should have ruined his candidacy right there, because it suggests a seriously deranged moral state — the disease that the Romans called “ambition.” Nobody should care that much about a blasted election unless one’s country was on the brink of destruction, which of course was not the case. But Gore was perceptive there. When Bush took office, he straightaway dismayed his supporters by making or trying to make common cause with Democrats, allowing Ted Kennedy to write the big education bill, and proposing an amnesty bill that sent chills of horror down the spines of many a conservative.

          It’s impossible, as I say, to know the state of anyone’s soul. But in politics we do have to judge character. I think that Bush fils was an old-fashioned liberal believer in the magic of democracy and free elections, and the duty of America to bring that magic to the world. I can say that he was a fool to believe those things, but more than that I can’t say; and even though I am growing more isolationist the older I get, I’m painfully aware that isolationism is a really easy position to take, as it costs me nothing.

          Here’s how I judge character, since we are never in possession of all of the facts:

          1. Past deeds, proved. Does anyone doubt, for example, that President Clinton was an adulterer many times over? Suppose that Clinton did not order the bombing of a factory in the Sudan just at the moment when a damaging report was going to come out, regarding his behavior. Does anyone doubt that he was the sort of person who would have done that? When he lost his first re-election campaign in Arkansas, he lay on the floor of his limousine and cried like a baby. That too suggests somebody who cared altogether too much about his political ambition.

          2. Bad company. I mean really bad company — not just more of your political opponents. Terrorists, spies, extortionists, crime bosses, etc.

          3. Self-absorption. Teddy, Woody, Dick Nixon, this means you.

          4. Vindictiveness against enemies; a tendency not to believe that your political opponents are mistaken and need to be converted, but to believe that they are evil and need to be obliterated.

          So I find it notable — in all this fog of human uncertainties, poor judgments, wishful thinking, mistakes, good intentions, and wickedness — that President Bush has never said a nasty thing about President Obama; he has in fact “gone back to the ranch” and has shrugged and awaits the judgment of history. Though even that is not the most important thing in life, as far as he is concerned.

          Ressentiment is a deadly disease, though, and it attacks people on all sides of any controversy ….

          • Jdonnell

            You connected the Iraq war with a response to 9/11; that is cant. I did not “exult” over Tillman’s death, as you should have seen from what I wrote; I am not responsible for what others may have said about him.
            I don’t presume to see into Bush’s soul and didn’t in my comments. It’s what he did that matters; he lied the country into war, costing countless lives–and the chaos in which he left that country (despite “Mission Accomplished”) has resulted in daily, multiple deaths. So much for regime change. As for judging arguments, sometimes the urgency of the subject requires more than what you suggest, especially when war is involved. The personal becomes secondary when the consequence might mean supporting a false argument, especially if the consequences mean war and death. Everything should be done to try to avoid war. The US has been all to ready to jump into wars; it’s always a good diversion and sure to appeal to phony patriots.

            • Tony

              Excuse me, but I did not accuse you of exulting over Tillman’s death. I noted that other people exulted, and that is what I found repugnant. You do say that Bush lied us into a war. I do not know how you can know that, since you do not know what evidence he had in hand, nor can you allege a plausible motive for the lie, or point to a pattern of lying that characterizes the man.

              If I remember, Bush fils did not campaign on foreign policy in the 2000 election. He campaigned on domestic policy — on “compassionate conservatism,” and faith-based initiatives. So I can’t point to any history of militarism there. As I said before, he seems to have held to the old-time liberal nostrum that democracy is good for everybody, and that it is America’s duty to bring that good to nations throughout the world, especially when it is threatened by this or that dictatorial impulse. Now, I am not an old-time liberal. If what I’ve read is accurate, he and his advisors wanted to establish a democratic ally in the heart of the Muslim world, to break that world’s back, so to speak. It was just one instance in a long train of America’s attempts to bestow democracy, a dubious form of government in any case, upon Everybody Else.

              My article was not about contemporary politics. It was about one kind of false conscience…. The person in the grip of ressentiment is not someone in error as to fact. He does not have to be foolish or gullible or enthusiastic for the wrong things. He does habitually place the deeds and the words of his opponents in the worst possible light — common enough in politics; and, more, the very virtues of his opponent disturb him. Ressentiment feminists, for example, do not actually want men to be manly, strong, leader-like, and energetic in the defense of the good and the rights of women. If that should ever happen, it would be the worst day of their lives …

              • John200

                Thank for the post and the planned series. As for the responses, you’re getting trolled by people who do not seem to know what you wrote. It happens in the comboxes.

                I look forward to the followups.

          • TheAbaum

            “That too suggests somebody who cared altogether too much about his political ambition.”

            How many grade school kids are called “Billy Vote”?

          • Nick_Palmer3

            Tony, in your post I sense a really, really good article coming on…

            • Tony

              Already written, Nick, including a separate one for Public Discourse. Scheler’s book is one of those, like Pieper’s Leisure, that explains a host of things you’d never guessed had been related …

        • Watosh

          I see that Richard clark former adviser to Clinton and later Bush for a short time said on the Amy Goodman show that he thought President Bush was a war criminal.

          • Art Deco

            If you track Richard Clark’s statements over time, they show you he is a hustling opportunist.

          • Guy

            Here is a link to what Richard Clark said: http://digitaljournal.com/news/politics/bush-terror-czar-richard-clarke-bush-cheney-are-war-criminals/article/384904
            The Bush administration has much to answer for. There will be a fearful reckoning.

            • JBear

              The fallout of the Iraq invasion has been horrific. All that carnage and suffering could so easily have been avoided. Let us pray for wise leaders and common sense.

              • Art Deco

                All that carnage and suffering could so easily have been avoided.


                • JBear

                  Um … maybe by not invading Iraq under false pretenses in the first place? Ya think?
                  What kind of conscience could justify this:

                  The invasion was a failure of leadership and morality from top to bottom.

                  • Art Deco

                    There was no false pretense.

                    That aside, the Administration had three choices, none of them without trouble appended: remove the sanctions, leave the sanctions on, or remove the government.

                    Politicians have to make real choices. Combox clowns do not.

                    • JBear

                      I’ll refrain from commenting on the stupidity of certain combox clowns. The duplicity and false pretense are quite clear to those of us who followed the news. I knew all along that Iraq was not trying to buy yellowcake uranium from Niger. Bush wanted that evil war. Given the precedent we set as a nation, we no longer have the credibility to condemn Russia’s interference in Ukraine.

                    • Art Deco

                      I knew all along that Iraq was not trying to buy yellowcake uranium from Niger.

                      Because the tooth fairy told you all the evidence that they did in fact attempt to buy yellow cake from Niger was wrong.

                    • JBear

                      The Bush administration itself eventually admitted this. It’s you who is listening to the tooth fairy. It appears you’d believe anything at all told to you by someone whose “side” you believe you’re on. Sadly, you were and many others were played as fools by a very evil and cynical group of people. Go back and look at those photographs from the Iraqi war and ask yourself if you still think these people are guiltless.

                    • Art Deco

                      Go back and look at a montage of photos derived from 35 years of Ba’ath rule in Iraq.

            • Art Deco

              Are you referring to what Clark said when he was employed by the government or when he was hawking his book and needed a sales hook?

            • Art Deco

              You need a reckoning with your own silliness. There is no substantive argument delineated in that article, just a single paragraph where a number of bald assertions by Clark are quoted and paraphrased.

        • Paul

          If there’s anyone to be blamed about the 2nd Iraq war, it has to be said that the whole thing was kick-started by the 2 Iraqi defectors who sought to have their green cards to stay in Germany. It was there that German intel, who refused steadfast to release the 2 informants to the US & UK for questioning, put together a bogus document to state a case for war.
          Let’s put the blame where it belongs.

          • Jdonnell

            You jest. The US had intel, which has now been acknowledged. It was brushed aside by the Bush team. More to the point of your remark: the Iraqi defectors didn’t order an attack on Iraq; the US president did. All Bush’s wars were wrong to begin with, including Afghanistan, which didn’t cause 9/11 any more than did Iraq. Bush also had a chance to nail bin Laden but missed it. He should have done something on the order of what Obama did in going after bin Laden instead of starting a war. But, he and his team followed the Neocon agenda, which called for regime change in those countries. Obama has now furthered that same agenda in being crucial to the overthrow of Gaddafi in Libya and in his support for the rebel terrorists in Syria.

    • Interested

      The best example of this rationalization is that of the shallow minded who voted for the current pro abort, pro sodomy/LGBLT president.

      • Jdonnell

        As if Bush ever did anything to stop abortions, whatever he may have implied he would do. Obama got a majority of the Catholic vote. Whatever O’s failings, at least he isn’t Romney.

        • Interested

          And you think that assertion proves a moral equivalence? Ha!

          Bush never promoted abortion or sexual deviancy.

          • Mike Koopman

            At least on one count it seems that ommission in reacting properly to unchanneled redactions in military propositions; that is, what is an effort promoting gay advocacy in uniform was left unchallenged under CIC Bush. This would be in direct opposition to the standing policy at that time; don’t ask, don’t tell. The concept of “telling” requiring “acting” in reference to the Code of Conduct standing at that time. Perhaps such oversight of responsibility was the rake in the slippery slope that led to the need to inform our most recent NPG class to watch your alumnus for predatory behaviors on duty.

        • TheAbaum

          Whatever O’s failings, at least he isn’t Romney.

          Romney at least had a modicum of competence and experience.

        • John200

          Let us see if you can pass a multiple choice test:
          1. Which of the four statements below is true?
          a. At most, Obama isn’t Romney.
          b. On the best day he ever saw, he isn’t Romney.

          c. On the best day he will ever see, he isn’t Romney.

          d. All of the above.

          Now keep your eyes off the bottom of this page until you make your selection. Then you can look.

          Answer key: all four statements are true. Therefore, the best answer is d.

          • Jdonnell

            My, are all Crisis fans so clever as you? What vapidity.

            • John200

              You should recognize vapidity upon careful review of your comments. Your interlocutors are showing kindness and great patience.

        • Art Deco

          Whatever O’s failings, at least he isn’t Romney.

          Gov. Romney had a long and accomplished career in private equity. Pro-rating part time and seasonal labor, BO spent about 4 years working in law offices and 5 years as an instructor at the University of Chicago; no one offered him a partnership or tenure and he never so much as published a single scholarly article. Romney managed to salvage the 2002 Winter Olympics; BO ran the Chicago Annenberg Challenge into the ground. Romney presided over the Massachusetts state government; BO was a state legislator with a remarked expertise in the following three areas of public policy.


          You’re right. BO is not Romney.

    • Mike Koopman

      Patriotism is only good when it furthers reproductive rights and the one child policy. Oh, wait, or was that the cant? It seems I can’t differentiate the circle and oval.

      • Jdonnell

        “Cant.” Or, are you getting your vowels mixed up?

    • PF

      Actually there is ample evidence to suggest Pat Tillman was against the war when he signed up to fight. If he was driven by whim and a “cant-filled mind” wouldn’t he have refrained from enlisting? He was doing what he believed to be his duty, in spite of his emotions and sentiment against it.

      • Jdonnell

        It’s all very sad–a waste of a life–Bush’s waste. The duty to which you refer is bound up with a patriotism based on cant spewed by a lying Bush administration and swallowed by too many Americans like Tillman. Duty demands that we be informed before rushing off to kill people.

  • Love your neighbor as yourself is NOT treating people how you want to be treated. Nobody wants to be treated like ‘everybody’ else and certainly not like ‘you’. Each of us wants to be treated how “I” want to be treated. Your neighbor deserves the same consideration and you will have to ask him or her to discover how they prefer being treated. Most of us cant do that. It is easier to be nice using the culture we grew up in version of it instead.

    • John200

      Why choose from these two alternatives when, by noticing a third option, you can always get the right answer?

      A: Treat your neighbor the way God wants him treated.

      • Thank you John. I suspect many people already believe that is what they are doing, treating people how they think/see God doing it. Not sure that license is worthy of people.

        • John200

          Probably not worthy of most men as we are; but we are supposed to rise to a higher standard, eh?

          I know it ain’t happening yet, but maybe down the road…. maybe far down the road.

  • crakpot

    Fantastic insight.

    Newman spoke of this “counterfeit of conscience” – substituting your mere will for the voice of God.

    I am always fascinated by people being bothered by conscience. The need to counterfeit it – to convince yourself that what you’re doing is the right thing despite what you know is true – is proof of the existence of God.

  • Julie

    Jdonnell: “Despite the lies from the Bush administration, it was possible to discern from news reports that no WMDs had been confirmed and that even Powell’s speech at the UN was full of–well–unconfirmed allegations stated as fact..” The lies of the news media to blacken the Bush administration were swallowed hook and line by the public. My brother was on the UN team that inspected plants in Iraq after the war. He said Sadam was producing biological and chemical weapons. Why the cover up is anyone’s guess, but it was covered up.
    This article is great. You have opened up my eyes to question my motivation for charitable acts. I pray God give my love for my fellow man. Thanks Anthony!

    • fredx2

      Well, that’s interesting because both reports that came out after the war said that Saddam was not currently producing such weapons, but was in a position to begin making them at short notice. Also, there were reports of his nuclear scientists burying critical nuclear components in their back yards to hide them, but still, both reports said he was not currently producing chemcial weapons.

    • Mike Koopman

      Are you confusing the cant on WMDs with both or either the Love of John at the foot of The Cross, or so, too, that affirmation of life consecrated in marriage?

      Can you evaluate that image of Max Schelerin with reference to the similar look in the same quarter pose by a famous behaviouralist contemporary of Schelerin?

      Consider the full breadth and depth of Christ’s sacrifice and His Passion as encompassed within the Roman tribunal and sea of warriors and treasoners acting on the cant of Jerusalem’s future. What is the truth of WMDs and how does it weigh in well formed conscience against The Truth that stands before Pilate?

    • Paul

      Didn’t the whole WMD saga start with lies by 2 Iraqi defectors who wanted green cards to stay in Germany ? I seem to remember one of the Iraqi informants , “curveball”, cooking up the whole idea which German intel was all too glad to lap it all up ? The subsequent report by the Germans was gleaned from this and futher exaggerated by the British gov’t under Tony Blair. One must also remember that the Germans did not release the 2 Iraqi informants to be interrogated by the UK or the US.
      Furthermore Hans Blix (UN weapons inspector) publicly said he was suspicious of the delay purposefully orchestrated by the Saddam regime in allowing the UN weapons inspectors to enter certain sites.

  • sibyl

    I think a perfect example of Prof. Esolen’s false conscience shows itself in food. The religiosity that many people quite spontaneously show towards food and how to eat, is exactly the same kind of thing. The hyper-care with which so many people approach diet really allows them to feel they are pursuing an absolute good — saving the environment, for example.

    • Tony

      Thank you, Sibyl. This sort of thing hardens into ressentiment when it is spurred by a hatred of a virtue or a legitimate source of pleasure which the person in question cannot attain …

    • Guy

      We really don’t know when a conscience is “false.” Ethical eating can be, well, ethical.

  • Random Fellow

    Maybe if we acted on our conscience we wouldn’t see things like liberation theology sparking up which as a doctrine isn’t concerned about right or wrong but only the changing tide of historical conflict in the classes

    …. thoughts?

    • Tony

      Absolutely correct, RF, and it was already nailed by Scheler in Ressentiment. See my next article on the subject, here at Crisis.

  • MJay

    Thanks Dr. E…for an excellent insight/distinction Found some aspects that “pierced my heart”…and my wrong heartedness…but also some clarifications and distinctions that make me very hopeful (all in God’s love, mercy and graces).. As for all the other comments being offered re: Iraq and Pres. Bush, etc….they remind of the observation (can’t recall who said it)…its akin to listening to “…two bald men fight over a comb…”!

  • AcceptingReality

    Anthony, I usually love your articles. And, like most, this one has some great insights in it. But the seemingly gratuitous plugs for Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin don’t sit that well with me. They didn’t just support questionable “political causes”. They were communists! The last time I checked communism is/was a system of government that is distinguished by it’s pronounced atheism! It has been officially condemned by Popes, albeit legitimate ones.

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