Blackadder’s Lair

The home of many a cunning plan

SSPX Forbids Bishop Williamson From Discussing the Holocaust

The following is a statement issued by Bishop Bernard Fellay, the superior general of SSPX:

We have come to know of an interview given by Bishop Richard Williamson, a member of our Fraternity of St. Pius X, on Swedish television. In this interview he spoke of historical questions, in particular on the question of the genocide of the Jews by the Nazis.

It is evident that a Catholic bishop cannot speak with ecclesial authority if it is not a question of faith and morals. Our fraternity does not claim any authority over other questions. Its mission is the propagation and restoration of authentic Catholic doctrine, as found in the dogmas of the faith. It is for this that we are known, accepted and appreciated throughout the world.

With great sadness we acknowledge the extent to which the violation of this mandate has damaged our mission. The statements of Bishop Williamson do not reflect in any way the position of our society. For this, I have prohibited him, until further notice, from speaking publicly on these political and historical questions

We ask for the forgiveness of the Supreme Pontiff, and of all people of good will, for the dramatic consequences of this act. As we recognize how imprudent the statements were, we affirm with sadness that they have directly affected our fraternity by discrediting our mission.

This is not acceptable, and we declare that we will continue preaching Catholic doctrine and administering the sacraments of grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

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January 28, 2009 Posted by | Catholicism, Ecumenism, History | Leave a comment

Stimulus Package Contains Money for Contraceptives

One of the lesser known aspects of the Madoff swindle is that it has left America’s number one abortion provided in dire financial straights:

Another nonprofit organization has found itself a victim of Bernie Madoff’s alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme. A one-two punch of fundraising woes sparked by the economic crisis and the unfolding Madoff scandal have put The Planned Parenthood Federation of America on its heels, prompting a 20% layoff of staff , according to a report published on Crain’s New York’s website.

Given the vital role that organizations like Planned Parenthood play in the progressive imagination, it should come as no surprise that congressional Democrats have responded to this crisis by proposing a bailout:

Now comes the latest revelation about the congressional Democrats’ “stimulus” plan: it includes taxpayer funding for contraceptives and the abortion industry. Specifically, a provision in the legislation clears the way for expanded federal funding of contraceptives through Medicaid for those who aren’t even poor.

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January 26, 2009 Posted by | Abortion, Government, Stimulus | Leave a comment

Pope Lifts Excommunication of SSPX Bishops

By way of a letter of December 15, 2008 addressed to His Eminence Cardinal Dario Castrillón Hoyos, President of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei, Mons. Bernard Fellay, also in the name of the other three Bishops consecrated on June 30, 1988, requested anew the removal of the latae sententiae excommunication formally declared with the Decree of the Prefect of this Congregation on July 1, 1988. In the aforementioned letter, Mons. Fellay affirms, among other things: “We are always firmly determined in our will to remain Catholic and to place all our efforts at the service of the Church of Our Lord Jesus Christ, which is the Roman Catholic Church. We accept its teachings with filial disposition. We believe firmly in the Primacy of Peter and in its prerogatives, and for this the current situation makes us suffer so much.”

His Holiness Benedict XVI – paternally sensitive to the spiritual unease manifested by the interested party due to the sanction of excommunication and trusting in the effort expressed by them in the aforementioned letter of not sparing any effort to deepen the necessary discussions with the Authority of the Holy See in the still open matters, so as to achieve shortly a full and satisfactory solution of the problem posed in the origin – decided to reconsider the canonical situation of Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson, and Alfonso de Galarreta, arisen with their episcopal consecration.

Based on the faculties expressly granted to me by the Holy Father Benedict XVI, in virtue of the present Decree, I remit from Bishops Bernard Fellay, Bernard Tissier de Mallerais, Richard Williamson, and Alfonso de Galarreta the censure of latae sententiae excommunication declared by this Congregation on July 1, 1988, while I declare deprived of any juridical effect, from the present date, the Decree emanated at that time.

More. (HT: Laudem Gloriae)

January 24, 2009 Posted by | Catholicism | Leave a comment

A Case for Libertarian Progressivism

Writing at the New York Times blog Economix, Ed Glaser argues for a “small-government egalitarian” plan for economic stimulus:

Libertarian progressivism distrusts big increases in government spending because that spending is likely to favor the privileged. Was the Interstate Highway System such a boon for the urban poor? Has rebuilding New Orleans done much for the displaced and disadvantaged of that city? Small-government egalitarianism suggests that direct transfers of federal money to the less fortunate offer a surer path toward a fairer America.

Current American political discourse labels people as either anti-government or pro-equality, but wanting to help the poor should not require the abandonment of sensible skepticism about expanding the size of the state. Many of my favorite causes, like fighting land use regulations that make it hard to build affordable housing, aid the poor by reducing the size of government. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, I also argued that it would be far better to give generous checks to the poor hurt by the storm than to spend billions rebuilding the city, because those rebuilding efforts would inevitably help connected contractors more than ordinary people.

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January 23, 2009 Posted by | Economy, Government, Libertarianism | 1 Comment

Thirty-Six Years On

Today is the thirty-sixth anniversary of Roe v. Wade. I feel like I should write something about it, but I don’t really have the words. Every time I try all that comes to my mind is the line from that old Neil Young song: That’s one more kid that’ll never go to school, never get to fall in love, never get to be cool.

Keep on rockin’ in the free world.

January 22, 2009 Posted by | Abortion, America | Leave a comment

Rules for Radicals

During last year’s election, much was made, both positively and negatively, of Barack Obama’s past work as a community organizer. Obama himself highlighted his community organizing, drawing parallels between his time organizing in Chicago and his hopes as a potential President. Others were more critical.

To learn more about the history of community organizing, I decided to read Saul Alinsky’s book Rules for Radicals. Continue reading

January 20, 2009 Posted by | America, Democracy, Politics | 46 Comments

Of Atheists and False Advertising

On Jan. 6 some 800 British red “bendy” buses carried the sign: “There is probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”

The Atheist Bus Campaign organizer, a young comedienne named Ariane Sherine, took exception last June to several London buses swathed with biblical quotes, placed by Christian fundamentalists.

Her idea to fund a few challenge ads took off; donors sent in $200,000 in two days. Ms. Sherine was joined by Oxford zoologist Richard Dawkins, a leading British atheist and author of “The God Delusion.”

He predicted anger from believers. “They have to take offense, it is the only weapons they’ve got,” Mr. Dawkins said as the first bus rolled through the streets of London. “They’ve got no arguments.”

But the response by most faith leaders isn’t quite what was expected.

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January 16, 2009 Posted by | Theology | Leave a comment

Economics in Wonderland

This week’s EconTalk podcast featured Prof. Steve Fazzari talking about Keynesian economics. Prof. Fazzari was rather unflinching in his devotion to Keynesianism, and was a very good expositor of his point of view. After listening to the podcast, I feel like I have a much better grasp on some key Keynesian concepts and arguments than I did before. Unfortunately (for Keynes) this newfound clarity hasn’t raised my estimation of the essential validity of Keynes’ ideas. Just the opposite. Listening to the podcast, I increasingly felt like I had slipped into an economic bizzaro-world* where up was down, bad was good, and paying people to dig holes and then fill them up again was a great way to stimulate the economy.

To give an example of what I’m talking about, consider the paradox of thrift. Suppose that a family decides to save more and so stops eating out at their favorite restaurant. All else being equal, you might suppose that total savings would increase, while total consumption would fall. But, says Prof. Fazzari, you are forgetting that by not eating out, the family has destroyed a portion of the income of the restaurant owner. As such, he is faced with the choice of either reducing his consumption (defined to including spending on his business) or to reduce his savings. If he reduces his consumption, then this will simply foist the problem off on some third party, who then will face the same choice of reducing consumption or savings by the same amount. But if he reduces his savings then overall savings won’t go up, as the increase in savings by the family will be offset by an equal decrease in savings by the restaurant owner. Ultimately, then, overall savings won’t increase, and indeed can’t increase, at least if we are holding total income constant. Continue reading

January 16, 2009 Posted by | Economics | Leave a comment


Valkyrie tells the story of the 20 July plot to kill Hitler carried out by German officers in the summer of 1944. Tom Cruise plays Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, the central figure in both the organization and execution of the plot.

I thought the film was executed well. It manages to maintain suspense despite the fact that for most of the movie not that much is actually happening, and while I can’t call the film especially insightful or moving, the compelling nature of the subject matter does a lot to carry the film forward.

Watching the film did raise two issues , neither of which (for understandable reasons) were explored in the film, but which may warrant further reflection.

The first has to do with the nature of oaths. After Hitler came to power in 1933, he required all German officers to swear an oath of loyalty to him personally. In many cases, it appears that one of the things holding a given officer back from joining one of the many anti-Hitler plots was the knowledge that this would require violating their oath. The oath is alluded to several times in the film, but the moral issues involved are never really explored, presumably because having characters agonize over whether it was right to kill Hitler would not have worked dramatically. Still, the matter does raise some interesting questions. St. Thomas More, for example, was canonized largely based on his firm position on the moral sacredness of oath taking, and while I have little doubt that one can reconcile treating both More and Stauffenberg as heroes, exactly how one goes about doing so could have profound moral implications.

The other issue has to do with speculation on what would have happened had the coup gone off successfully (I trust I won’t be spoiling the ending for anyone if I reveal that the plot is unsuccessful). After seeing the movie, a friend opined that perhaps it was a good thing the 20 July plotters were not able to kill Hitler. His reasoning was that if the plotters had succeed and ended the war just after the Normandy invasion, this would have left them vulnerable to the charge that Germany had once again been “stabbed in the back” and the whole cycle would have repeated itself again.

Maybe. I’m inclined to think, though, that a phenomenon like Hitler was not likely to recur again. Ending the war in 1944 would have saved Europe from a great deal of death and destruction, and would likely have prevented Eastern Europe from falling under Soviet domination for the next 40 years. Avoiding these certain evils seems worth the uncertain risk of other evils down the road.

January 14, 2009 Posted by | Film, History, War and Peace | 1 Comment

Inventor of the Pill Laments Demographic ‘Catastrophe’

The chemist who made a key discovery leading to the invention of the birth control pill has written a commentary calling demographic decline in Europe a “horror scenario” and a “catastrophe” brought on in part by the pill’s invention.

Mr. Carl Djerassi, now 85 years old, was one of three researchers whose formulation of the synthetic progestagen Norethisterone marked a key step in the creation of the first oral contraceptive pill, the Guardian reports.

In a personal commentary in the Austrian newspaper Der Standard, Djerassi said his invention is partly to blame for demographic imbalance in Europe. On the continent, he argued, there is now “no connection at all between sexuality and reproduction.”

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January 13, 2009 Posted by | Children, Family | 2 Comments