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Just death

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Friday, September 25, 2015 06:57 am

The pope believes all lives are sacred, so he's against both the death penalty and abortion. He's sort of soft-pedaled his anti-abortion message during his visit to the U.S., but he's hit the death penalty hard,  calling for its worldwide abolition. Ted Cruzdoes not approve:

GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz said he disagrees with Pope Francis’ call Thursday to abolish the death penalty, calling the use of capital punishment a "recognition of the preciousness of human life."

In an interview with POLITICO shortly after the pope’s historic address to Congress, the Texas senator said he respects Francis’ views and the Catholic Church’s teachings on the issue, but "as a policy matter, I do not agree."

"I spent a number of years in law enforcement dealing with some of the worst criminals, child rapists and murderers, people who’ve committed unspeakable acts," Cruz said. "I believe the death penalty is a recognition of the preciousness of human life, that for the most egregious crimes, the ultimate punishment should apply."Presumably, Cruz does agree with the pope's position on abortion, and perhaps he should consider at least giving the pontiff points for consistency. It used to annoy the hell out of me when those on the left accused pro-life people of inconsistency if they also favored the death penalty, two positions frequently held by the same people. The pro-choice crowd could also be accused of inconsistency since they oppose the death penalty at about the same rate the pro-life people support it. And if I wanted to be snotty, I'd say the pro-life crowd is very consistent in always supporting the most innocent participant in a given situation, the unborn child and the murder victim. And the pro-choice crowd always supports the least innocent one.

Pope Francis really does believe in the "all lives are sacred" principle. He said this in a speech on the 100th anniversary of World War I:

 "Please stop!" he said, referring to war as his voice cracked with emotion. "I ask you with all my heart, it’s time to stop. Stop, please!"

His remarks appeared to be primarily directed at the escalating conflict in Israel and Palestine, with the pope speaking of how war injures, mutilates, and orphans children. He then made another bold proclamation: "Brothers and sisters, never war, never war! Everything is lost with war, nothing is lost with peace. Never more war."

Never war? Never? That's not exactly in keeping with church doctrine, which holds that there can be an occasion when a Just War is called for. Proposed by Saint  Augustine of Hippo and later expanded by Saint Thomas Aquinas, the Just War idea became the basis for the church's Just War Doctrine, which outlines four "strict conditions" that must be met for lethal force to be justified.

  • The damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;

  • All other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;

  • There must be serious prospects of success;

  • The use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.

That seems like a pretty good doctrine to me, and not just for the church. If the U.S. had always followed it, we could have avoided at least a couple of conflicts we should never have gotten into.

I'm not sure, by the way, how to square support for war, which could claim thousands of lives, and opposition to abortion, which claims but one (and some would argue it's not a life but merely a potential life). That's the inconsistency that I find most interesting.


Donald Trump has the habit of saying things so stupefying that it's hard to know what to say about them. In the latest, he answers a question about how he would go about the mass deportations he's called for:  "It will take place and it will be done effectively and warmly and humanely. And a lot of people will be very happy about it. Did you know i had a good Hispanic poll the other day?" Ah, warm and humane deportation. Would that be like a dignified and respectful execution? A cheerfully carried out beheading? Want me to tell you a bedtime story before I stick the needle in?

Let's not move to Mars, says Ed Regis in the New York Times, because, you know, it will be a nightmare trip, there will be incredible hardships and, really, what's the point? Not exactly in keeping with the human spirit of adventure that was, you know, responsible for the exploration and settling of just about every place on this planet. An impish critic with a long memory points out that the Times in 1920 had an editorial chiding Robert Goddard for his foolish undertaking of space research. It published a retraction and apology in 1969, the year we landed on the moon.

George Will has a nice tribute to Yogi Berra, the man who had "the winningest career in the history of American sports."

Remember all the critics of "welfare queens" who drove nice cars to the supermarket to use their food stamps? Today the feds letting states sidestep asset tests for food stamps. Do you like the idea of your tax dollars going for groceries for millionaire lottery winners and people with vacation homes?

A whopping 72 percent of Americans don't think the country is as great as it once was. I think we're getting into self-fulfilling prophecy territory. If that many people don't think the country is great, there aren't enough people who still believe ion the country enough to make it great.

Finally, 54 percent of Americans believe that alien life capable of communication lives somewhere among the stars. Maybe E.T. will visit and show us how to make the country great again. That's what this script needs, a good, old deus ex machina with knobby fingers and green skin.


defenestration (dee-fen-uh-STRAY-shun), n. — the act of throwing a thing or especially a person out of a window, as in, "Yeah, well, maybe I am the one guilty of defenestration, but I wasn't rude about it. I even let him comb his hair first so he would look good on the way down."


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