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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Why Popes Make Lousy Economists

Pope Francis recently opined: "We don't want this globalised economic system which does us so much harm. Men and women have to be at the centre (of an economic system) as God wants, not money."


Unfortunately, the globalised economic system he decries has raised the standard of living for every person on the planet in the last two centuries. We have gone from a planet of 1 billion people in the year 1800 to over 7 billion in the year 2013 - an increase of roughly six planet's worth of population - while feeding, clothing and housing all seven planet's worth of population to a level that essentially no one had in the 1800s. Certainly, he knows this. So what is he complaining about?

Economy: A Two-Fold Purpose
The global economy serves two purposes: (1) the work it creates provides us the income to maintain physical health and well-being, (2) that same work provides us with dignity and a sense of self-worth for the soul. However, we no longer seem to be able to provide both at once.

Before the Industrial Revolution, nearly everyone worked because universal work was necessary for society to survive. In a subsistence-level society, community survival walks on the edge of a knife. The failure of even one person to work, the failure of even one person to in some way provide sustenance for himself and his family, could easily be the straw that broke the community's back. That one last bushel of missing grain might turn out to be the missing calories that condemn the entire community to starve in the last few days before harvest.

For most of human history, every person's contribution to the community, no matter how small, really did count. Everyone mattered. Thus, man has historically always tied work with a sense of self-worth. But what happens when technology enters the picture? Physical comforts increase, but work, and the self-worth it generates, disappears.

Technology, Poverty and Dignity
In the Middle Ages, Europeans invented the horse collar. The horse replaced the ox as the main source of power to plow fields. Because horses work 50% faster, fields could both be plowed more efficiently and be located farther from urban centers. Half of Europe had been wilderness, but it could all now be plowed under. Europe's settled areas increased and population doubled, leading to the technological explosion that was the High Middle Ages. 

The Industrial Revolution replaced the horse with steam, then diesel, engines. But this time, there was no wilderness to plow under. That was already done. This time, something new happened. As agricultural output increased, farm jobs didn't increase. Instead, they dried up. The job market switched from agriculture to industry and manufacture, but population expanded faster than the job market. Something had to give. Something did.


The late 1800s invented, for the first time in history, child labor laws, intended to lock children out of the job market and decrease job competition for adults. It also invented retirement laws, wherein the government paid a wage to those over 65 in order to keep them out of the labor force. Children were told education was their job, they were forced into mandatory schooling. They were bored. Everyone, including children, began to understand that children were increasingly useless to the community. As children lost their jobs, children lost their dignity. As health conditions improved, population increased, but family size shrank. For the last 200 years, the overall production of children has steadily slowed. This is the demographic transition.

In the 1800s, as child production slowed, women were no longer needed in the home. As children lost importance and dignity, so did motherhood. Women began to move into the paid work force. In 1900, only 19 percent of women of working age were working or looking for work. In 2007, women represented 46 percent of people in the labor force.

By 1922, Henry Ford reduced the work week. He proved the automated production line took jobs and never gave them back. Production increased even though the work week was now only five days long, eight hours a day. What happened to agriculture now happened in manufacturing. Just as the engine had done with agriculture, automation reduced the number of jobs while vastly increasing manufacturing output.  Industry accounted for about 10% of the workforce in 1800, reached a high of 35% around 1955, and has been steadily declining ever since, dipping to less than 9% today.  

A society that was 95% agricultural in 1800 is now less than 2% agricultural, yet produces six-fold more food. Over one-half of US industrial jobs since 1980 have disappeared, yet we manufacture twice as many products. Mechanization has replaced, is replacing, both slave and wage labor. In each generation, fewer adults in any society need work to eat. The ancient Roman Empire used slave labor everywhere, but could only afford to give bread away in the capitol, not empire-wide. Even with pagan Rome's dignity-destroying slavery, there was not enough bread. The Industrial Revolution took jobs but gave bread. 

It invented the both five-day work week and the modern welfare state.  Now, all the poor throughout the nation, even throughout the world, can be fed, clothed and housed, and they are. But they have no jobs, no dignity. It will only get worse.

3-D Printing and The Future
3-D printing will destroy manufacturing in every form. It is currently possible to 3-D print an entire houseplanea rocket engine, even food. Costs are currently high. Costs will drop. As costs do, as people gain the ability to produce items on their 3-D printers as easily as they now search for information on the web, jobs will continue to disappear. But physical poverty will not re-appear. As physical poverty disappears, moral and ethical poverty will only increase.

The job market now centers on information. By definition, one-half of the population has an IQ below 100. Thus, one-half of the population cannot be retrained to join the new job force. Automation has taken 98% of the farm jobs. It has taken, or will take, 98% of the manufacturing jobs. There are no jobs, and thus there is no dignity, for one-half of the population. One-half of the normal distribution curve is now, or will soon be, labelled useless.

Already, children have lost so much dignity that some segments of the population see no moral or ethical problem with cutting them up, alive, and selling their body parts. The sick and aged are encouraged to kill themselves via assisted suicide laws. Far from participating in the harvest, the "useless" are the harvest. As we have grown rich, we have grown cold.

Society can feed, clothe and house all of us. We will not be physically poor, but half of us will not have work. We will have to gain our sense of dignity from something other than work. No one knows how to do that.

The Paradox the Pope Poses
This is the paradox the Pope poses to us. Pope Francis hates poverty, whether it be of body or soul. He wants the poor to be fed and clothed, but he also wants them to have dignity, and the only way he knows how to do that is to make sure they are employed.

Pope Francis hates the welfare state nearly as much as he hates abortion. But. currently, he can't have it both ways. Personnel costs are the highest component cost of any product. We can't give the poor both food and jobs.The same global economy that has functionally removed physical poverty from society has also functionally removed the dignity of work from society. Can we give them food and dignity? Perhaps. But we don't know how.

We already recognize that technology has separated procreation from sexuality. Technology removed dignity from children and the aged. With children and parenting devalued, it also removed dignity from sex. The Catholic Church has not figured out how to make people recognize and correct the loss of dignity in any of these areas. Catholics know this is a problem, but we can't convince anyone else that it is.

What the Pope and most other Catholics don't yet fully realize is this: technology has also separated poverty, dignity and work. One-half of the population has become a parody of what P.G. Wodehouse himself parodied in Wooster and Jeeves: we now have an entire class of men and women who do not derive their dignity from their work. However, unlike Wooster, neither do our men and women derive their dignity from their social status. They have neither employment nor social status. Thus, they have no dignity.

Technology has given them their creature comforts but has taken both their jobs and their dignity. As with the children a century ago, these adults will be well-fed, but they won't be getting their jobs back.

It isn't the worship of money that lies at the bottom of this morass. It is the inexorable advance, the universal embrace, of the labor-saving machine. Our problem isn't capitalism per se, nor has Pope Francis said that it is. Our problem is the loss of dignity.

If the Pope can't get people to stop using condoms, how likely are they to stop using their cell phones? Who is going to return to the labor-intensive card catalog and paper phone book, much less the labor intensive spinning mill, when a 3-D printer can produce whatever you need at the push of a button? How many people will trade their fully laden table, their air-conditioning, automobile, smart phone and Internet access for the dignity of a job, especially if by gaining the job, you had to surrender any guarantee that you could still keep the creature comforts just listed?

Worse, what does it mean to say "the dignity of a job"? What constitutes work? What most "information workers" do today isn't what we have historically considered to be work. They don't break a sweat or a finger. No matter how hard they type, they don't get a callus. They sit in air-conditioning, eat snack foods, drink fizzy flavored water, never worry about cholera or typhus, never slap a mosquito or burn off a tick. The dignity of work has changed. It is changing again.

The Pope said, "Where there is no work, there is no dignity." Technically, we know that bare phrase is untrue - each of us has dignity because we are each an image of the Persons of the Godhead. What he means is, society doesn't assign dignity to those who do not work. This is also true, but it doesn't address the basic issue. The problem of physical poverty is essentially solved. We must decide if dignity is inextricably and uniquely attached to work. For if we want people to have dignity in secular society, we may have to find a new way to derive it.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Creationism and Geocentrism

Recently, our pastor announced that the parish was inviting in Hugh Owen, defender of Creationism and main speaker for the Kolbe Center for the Study of Creation, to give a parish talk on what he and Mr. Owen consider to be a doctrine of the Church. Given what I have written in the past, this piqued my interest. Much as I would have loved a personal conversation on this topic, I am unable to attend the talk due to a previous engagement. So, I sent his institute a question on their contact form:
Do you teach geocentrism as well? It is attested to by all the Doctors of the Church, so I'm certainly hoping you do.
This was his reply:
Please forgive me for taking so long to write back to you.

Many of our members are geocentrists, but not all, mainly because we have concentrated our efforts on educating people about the doctrine of creation rather than the geocentric controversy.  However, all of us who have looked into the matter agree with you and do not shy away from saying so when the topic arises.

One of the main tenets of traditional Catholic theology that has been almost completely abandoned in our time is the distinction between the order of creation and the natural order of providence which only began when the work of creation was finished with the creation of Adam and Eve.  Atheistic and theistic evolutionism are both based on the false premise that one can extrapolate from the natural order of providence in which we live all the way back to the beginning of creation--and that is false.  Thus, all forms of evolutionism are based on a fundamental error.  The relations among the Earth, the sun and the planets in the solar system on the other hand is a part of the natural order of providence and is thus a legitimate object of study for the natural scientist.  This is one of the main reasons why we do not place the Church's traditional position on geocentrism in the same category as her dogmatic teaching on creation which concerns things which are beyond the legitimate ken of the natural sciences.

Please keep the Kolbe Center in your prayers.

                                                           Yours in Christ through the Immaculata,

                                                                                                     Hugh Owen
So, apparently the existence of human persons is not part of the natural order of providence, while the relations among heavenly objects is part of the natural order of providence. 

Now, if we "cannot extrapolate from the natural order of providence in which we live all the way back to the beginning of creation", then presumably we cannot extrapolate a Big Bang, nor any universe that is not geocentric. But he also says that the relationship between heavenly bodies is "a legitimate object of study"...

So which is it? If we can study the relationship between heavenly bodies, then it would be possible to do so all the way back to the beginning of creation. Certainly the planets were created before Adam and Eve. But he denies that we can go all the way back to "the beginning of creation." Now, what constitutes the beginning? Does he mean "Let There Be Light"? Or does he count the whole "six days" of creation as one unit, and therefore mean we can only go back to just after the creation of Adam and Eve? If the latter, then when it comes to studying the relationship of heavenly bodies, he is saying both "no" and "yes" in the same answer. 

And, notice, the question I asked concerned geocentrism - the question of whether the earth is at the center of the universe, not just at the center of the solar system (which, if Mr. Owen were correct about geocentrism, would render his "solar system" phrase itself erroneous, but I digress), so his answer is somewhat contradictory. His response seems to imply that his members teach the earth is at the center of the "solar system" and at the center of the universe, simultaneously. If so, this is a brand-new model. Even Tycho Brahe didn't attempt to prove both could be simultaneously true.

Finally, if he does teach geocentrism as well as creationism, why not proudly put both on the website so that the necessary distinctions between natural order of providence and the supernatural order of providence could be made clearly? Why would I have to send him an e-mail to discover that he teaches geocentrism as well as creationism? 

Here is my reply:
I'm afraid you mistake me, sir.
I agree with neither creationism nor geocentrism.
However, I *did* very much hope that you were logically consistent enough to recognize that to insist on creationism is necessarily to insist on geocentrism, for the foundation of one subsumes the other.

I just wanted your response so I could make it public. As you aver, none of your group shies away from saying so when the topic arises. Thus, I am somewhat saddened that your institute does not publish your geocentric views anywhere on your site, at least not as far as I can see. If you do have a link to a page on your site where you make your full position clear, that would be most helpful.
If you would like to have a public conversation on the topic, you may feel free to reply on this website:
http://skellmeyer.blogspot.com/2013/09/creationism-and-geocentrism.html 
 Thank you for your reply!
Steve Kellmeyer



Thursday, September 19, 2013

Pope Francis and Hot-Buttons

"In the history of salvation, God has saved a people. There is no full identity without belonging to a people. No one is saved alone, as an isolated individual, but God attracts us looking at the complex web of relationships that take place in the human community. God enters into this dynamic, this participation in the web of human relationships."
The sentences above represent the heart of what Pope Francis has to say. These are what makes sense of everything else.  
“The church sometimes has locked itself up in small things, in small-minded rules. The most important thing is the first proclamation: Jesus Christ has saved you. And the ministers of the church must be ministers of mercy above all. The confessor, for example, is always in danger of being either too much of a rigorist or too lax. Neither is merciful, because neither of them really takes responsibility for the person. The rigorist washes his hands so that he leaves it to the commandment. The loose minister washes his hands by simply saying, ‘This is not a sin’ or something like that. In pastoral ministry we must accompany people, and we must heal their wounds.
When talking of confessors, as he does above, he gets specific. In the passage above, he tells us why he is wary of the traditionalist, the rigorist. He also tells us why he defrocked an Argentinian priest for promoting homosexual marriage. 

He is not denying the moral or dogmatic teachings of the Church. He's saying that the current methods for trying to help people embrace these teachings do not work:
The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow.
He's absolutely correct in every detail. But he isn't finished:
A beautiful homily, a genuine sermon must begin with the first proclamation, with the proclamation of salvation. [emphasis added]There is nothing more solid, deep and sure than this proclamation. Then you have to do catechesis. Then you can draw even a moral consequence. But the proclamation of the saving love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives. Today sometimes it seems that the opposite order is prevailing.
But that is nothing compared to this:
The complaints of today about how ‘barbaric’ the world is—these complaints sometimes end up giving birth within the church to desires to establish order in the sense of pure conservation, as a defense. No: God is to be encountered in the world of today.
“God manifests himself in historical revelation, in history. Time initiates processes, and space crystallizes them. God is in history, in the processes. [emphasis added]
“We must not focus on occupying the spaces where power is exercised, but rather on starting long-run historical processes. We must initiate processes rather than occupy spaces. God manifests himself in time and is present in the processes of history. This gives priority to actions that give birth to new historical dynamics. And it requires patience, waiting.
...in this quest to seek and find God in all things there is still an area of uncertainty. There must be. If a person says that he met God with total certainty and is not touched by a margin of uncertainty, then this is not good. For me, this is an important key. If one has the answers to all the questions—that is the proof that God is not with him. [emphasis added] It means that he is a false prophet using religion for himself. The great leaders of the people of God, like Moses, have always left room for doubt. You must leave room for the Lord, not for our certainties; we must be humble. 
There is too much brilliance in this interview. I can quote no more. You must read it.

UPDATE:
And for those who think Pope Francis has gone soft on life issues, read today's remarks.
Here's a similar link.

Keep in mind, this man wants union with the East. Eastern Catholics permit contraception. How can he get the EO bishops to at least privately admit that contraception is a bad idea? Well, first he has to give them public reason to talk to him. The whole interview revolved around his openness to dialogue.

The Pope isn't just talking to Americans or Europeans. He is always talking to the whole world. He knows that, even if we forget it sometimes.

Scriptural FourSight Scripture Project Launched!




Please take a look and contribute if you can.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Child Abuse in California

California has now passed a law lifting the statute of limitations on child abuse claims. The law specifically retains the statute of limitations for public schools and other government entities. The government can abuse your children, private citizens cannot.

Why not lift the exclusion for public schools as well?

Here's your answer.
You should especially like this sub-link, where the GAO finds sexual abuse by public schools and subsequent hiding of the abuse to be a NATIONAL problem.

According to a report commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education, in compliance with the 2002 "No Child Left Behind" act signed into law by President Bush, between 6 percent and 10 percent of public school children across the country have been sexually abused or harassed by school employees and teachers.

Here's The Economist on the New York habit of "passing the trash" - covering up teacher sexual abuse, along with the money quote:
A 1995 study of 225 cases in which pupils were sexually abused by teachers or other staff members found that in only 1% of the cases did the school-district superintendent attempt to revoke the culprit's teaching licence.
Education Week ran a six-part story on it in 1998, with an update in 2003.

Here's a DOE synthesis study

That's what I found on Google in 60 seconds.
There is a lot more.
Just google "passing the trash sexual abuse public schools" or "sexual abuse public schools".

The Angler Fishes For Atheists

The Pope wrote a letter to an atheist that seems to have stirred up the secular press, and no few number of traditionalists. The full text of the letter can be found here.

It's a brilliant reply to an avowed atheist.
Francis doesn't begin by refuting the atheist, he begins by thanking the atheist for being willing to even discuss it. He follows by giving a personal witness of why the Faith matters to him. 

He then moves the conversation from a discussion of the points the atheist is concerned with to the central problem: Who is Jesus?

Only after he deals with this central question does he move to deal with the questions the atheist raises. The heart of the answer he gives the atheist lies in this section:

First of all, you ask if the God of the Christians forgives those who do not believe and do not seek faith. Given that - and this is fundamental - God's mercy has no limits if he who asks for mercy does so in contrition and with a sincere heart, the issue for those who do not believe in God is in obeying their own conscience. In fact, listening and obeying it, means deciding about what is perceived to be good or to be evil. The goodness or the wickedness of our behavior depends on this decision.
Second of all, you ask if the thought, according to which no absolute exists and therefore there is no absolute truth, but only a series of relative and subjective truths is a mistake or a sin. To start, I would not speak about, not even for those who believe, an "absolute" truth, in the sense that absolute is something detached, something lacking any relationship. Now, the truth is a relationship! This is so true that each of us sees the truth and expresses it, starting from oneself: from one's history and culture, from the situation in which one lives, etc. This does not mean that the truth is variable and subjective. It means that it is given to us only as a way and a life. Was it not Jesus himself who said: "I am the way, the truth, the life"? In other words, the truth is one with love, it requires humbleness and the willingness to be sought, listened to and expressed. Therefore we must understand the terms well and perhaps, in order to avoid the oversemplification of absolute contraposition, reformulate the question.
The Pope hits on precisely the problem: it is one of definition. In most cases, the atheist denies God because he misunderstands the meanings of the words being used in the conversation. Correct definitions, a correct understanding of exactly what is under discussion, is crucially important to see the crucis, the Cross.

And here the Pope merely repeats what the Church has always taught, what St. Paul wrote down in Romans 2:15, "Who shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness to them, and their thoughts between themselves accusing, or also defending one another." It is also a fine explication of the essence of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1950-1960, especially #1956.

God is Truth. Those who seek the truth, those who doubt the existence of God because they are afraid of being fooled, seek the Idol of the Unknown Name that Paul describes in the Areopagus. They know not Christ's name, but they know the importance of truth, the critical importance of seeking out the truth. And, as the Church teaches, it is their relentless search for truth that may save them. 




The FSSP and the Sadducees

A recent blog post describes the teaching of an FSSP priest who asserts that aborted babies do not go to heaven. The FSSP priest's erroneous teaching led the blogger to an extended, and unfortunately erroneous, meditation on why the lie taught by this "good priest" would be true.

The crux of the argument: while baptism of blood and desire exists, both require the use of reason. According to the priest's erroneous line of reasoning, since infants have not the use of reason, aborted infants cannot receive either baptism of blood or baptism of desire.

Furthermore, according to this priest's version of the Feeneyite heresy, if we were to assume that such babies were baptized by blood via their abortion, that would make abortion into a sacrament. The unfortunate blogger, a good man dazed by this dizzying line of clerical absurdity, labels the priest's reductio ad absurdem argument "irrefutable". 

Many unfortunate Catholics have fallen under the spell of this particular priest. Even though the blogger takes care to explicitly deny that this nonsense is dogma, his use of the word "irrefutable" implies that the blogger thinks the priest's false line of reasoning is of doctrinal quality.

Unfortunately for both the FSSP priest who teaches this error and the poor Catholics who follow his frequently erroneous reasoning, the liturgy of the Church specifically and explicitly denies the priest's entire line of thought.

Consider the feast of Childermas, the Massacre of the Holy Innocents. Note the word "Holy" in the title of the Feast. Childermas celebrates the entry into heaven of those infants slaughtered by Herod as he fruitlessly sought to murder the King of Kings. 

Those infants had not the use of reason. Their only virtue was to be slaughtered for a saviour whom even their own parents did not yet know, yet every irrational infant slaughtered by Herod and baptized only by his own life blood is celebrated by the Church as a saint in the heavenly choir.

Obviously, martyrdom is not a sacrament, yet according to the eternal liturgy of the Church, martyrdom sends people to heaven, even people who have not the use of reason. In fact, martyrdom is so effective at sending infants to heaven, that even the infant's parents need not know anything of Christ in order for the infant, slaughtered as a mute witness, to attain the heavenly kingdom.

Now, if we followed the "very good priest's" logic, we would be forced to conclude that infanticide is a sacrament. But I bet it isn't.

Like infanticide, like abortion, martyrdom is not to be sought, for it may send the one who murders the martyr to hell. Yet martyrdom may also bring about conversion in the murderer, and for this reason, the saint who is faced with martyrdom may embrace it, even embrace it joyfully, as long as he offers his death for the conversion of the one who murders him. 

We don't know what happens to innocents who die unbaptized. But the liturgy of Childermas gives us a solid hope, as does the infallible teaching of the Ordinary Infallible Magisterium. Any priest who says otherwise contradicts the infallible Church. Such a priest may be many things, but "good" is not one of them. 

When Jesus faced the Sadducees, he faced a group of men who accepted only the Torah as holy Scripture. Much as many traditionalists adhere only to the EF Mass and reject the OF Mass as somehow false or contaminated, the Sadducees refused to accept the prophets or the writings as inspired. Only the eternal Scripture of the Torah was good enough for them. 

Jesus used quotes from their own Torah to refute them, and admonished them by saying, "You are quite wrong. You know neither Scripture nor the power of God." 

Similarly, the Church, via Her liturgy, rebukes this "good priest" and uses the very EF liturgy he embraces to demonstrate his error. He is quite wrong. He apparently knows neither liturgy nor the power of God. 



UPDATE:
In fact, the CCC specifically denies that Limbo exists.

CCC 1283 With respect to children who have died without Baptism, the liturgy of the Church invites us to trust in God's mercy and to pray for their salvation.


It is a condemned heresy to say that you can pray for those who are in hell. Limbo, as is commonly envisioned, is the first circle of hell. If Limbo existed, then the CCC would be teaching heresy. The CCC is promulgated by an Apostolic Constitution, the highest expression of the Ordinary Infallible Magisterium. Thus, Limbo does not exist.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Syrian Chemical Weapons and Obamacare

Syria is one of five nations that never signed the Chemical Weapons Ban Treaty.
The Geneva Convention on which it is based only bans the use of chemical weapons by one state against another, it never actually banned the use of chemical weapons within a country's own borders against internal opposition.

So, Obama will bomb Syria for not having violated a treaty it never signed.

With ObamaCare, Americans are bombed with a tax for not having paid for insurance we never wanted.

Is there a pattern here, or is it just me?

Sunday, September 01, 2013

The Mystery of Chemical Weapons

OK, I'm officially mystified. I mean, I would be if I wasn't sure that Obama was a terrorist sympathizer at the very least.

But, Obama's response to chemical weapons use in Syria isn't what mystifies me. It's everyone else's response.

Everyone is yelping about this international chemical weapons ban being violated. Nobody seems willing to admit that the use of chemical weapons in this instance is not really the problem.

Now, let's leave aside the fact that no one really knows which side used the chem-weapons. Reports conflict. The Syrian rebels may very well have gassed their own people, either via an accident they were having with THEIR chemical weapons, or on purpose to make Assad look bad. They've done this kind of thing in the past - Muslims think nothing of using their own children to blow up the opposition.

But that's not the point.
Everyone is upset that civilians, especially children, were killed with chemical weapons. Since when did we become concerned about using the correct kind of violence when killing civilians, even civilian children, in a war?

Both Assad AND the rebels killed children with bullets and high explosives. Is this somehow saner and cleaner than killing them with chem-weapons? I don't get the logic - either way, you end up with a corpse.

The international chemical weapon ban was a ban on use against SOLDIERS. The idea is that we retain at least a modicum of chivalry in warfare. If you're going to fight somebody, at least give them a chance to fight back (artillery, and their drone-strike children, get a grandfather-clause waiver here).

NOBODY is supposed to be using ANY weapons against civilians. Yet EVERYBODY who fights Muslims uses weapons against civilians because Muslims are cowards who hide behind civilians every chance they get. Thus, there are something like 100,000 civilians dead in Syria. The vast majority were killed with conventional weapons, with a few thousand killed by chemical weapons. Yet somehow, the few killed with chemical weapons are more dead than the great mass who were killed by more conventional means?

Obama's "thin-red line", his grotesque "distinctions" - indeed, most of the commenters absurd "distinctions" - are just incredibly stupid. I use the word "stupid" instead of "ignorant" because these Ivy League graduates are supposed to already KNOW the distinctions between a civilian and a soldier. They are supposed to already KNOW that civilians aren't to be killed at all, while soldiers are to be targeted only with conventional weapons. If they don't know these differences, they must be stupid.

And how will we respond? By drone-striking Syrian targets. As the brilliant Sarah Palin points out, it isn't clear why us bombing Syrians is superior to Syrians bombing Syrians. I guess we just use morally superior high-explosives or something.