Saturday, April 11, 2009

ND Obama Controversy: Buchanan vs. Common Sense

Thursday on Hardball, panelists Pat Buchanan and Lawrence O'Donnell discussed the Notre Dame-Obama controversy. Gee... I wonder who thinks Obama shouldn't speak at Notre Dame?

Buchanan hits on all the typical right-wing talking points, when Lawrence O'Donnell steps up with a dose of common sense and the Church's actual position on life--you know, as it also relates to people who are already born! Buchanan is left babbling with no answer for O'Donnell's challenges to his right-wing nuttery...

Note Buchanan's characterization of the Notre Dame issue as though all the students and alumni are against the President coming. This conveniently ignores the fact that the vast majority of the student body supports the invitation extended to the President. This article in The Observer illustrates the disconnect between the extremists and old-fart alumni who are making a lot of noise, and the opinions of the actual student body.

O'Donnell does a great job tearing Pat a new one, but is anyone else getting tired of the way the media is characterizing this? Yeah, so a bunch of right-wing political activists are up in arms over President Obama speaking at our school... but maybe the next time the media decides to bring this issue up they could actually contact someone representing the majority opinion of the students... pretty-please???


Anonymous said...

I think O'Donnell does not accurate represent Catholic teaching. 1) John Paul II made a prudential judgment about the desirability of moving away from the death penalty, but there is not actually a Catholic doctrine that says that Catholics may not support the death penalty. Indeed, the Church now teaches and has since very early on (e.g. see St. Paul), that the state may has the right to execute criminals for heinous crimes.
2) It is utterly untrue that the Church makes no distinction between killing innocents and killing convicted murderers.

One can still argue that ND should not invite supporters of the death penalty to give commencement addresses. But when taking such a position it is important to have clarity on the issue of Catholic teaching regarding capital punishment. Almost all the confusion on this issue stems back to John Paul II's hostility to capital punishment as expressed in Evangelium Vitae (1995). But this must weighed against all the other papal and episcopal statements over the years, which when taken together, are far weightier. Even JPII's main doctrinal expert, Cardinal Ratzinger, said that there was a lot of leeway in what Catholics could advocate concerning the death penalty.

This article sheds light on this issue. It was written by Cardinal Dulles, the first (and I think only) American theolodian to be made a cardinal as a reward for his theological writings. He was made a cardinal by none other than John Paul II.

Best wishes,
Greg B., Knott Hall

ShamRockNRoll said...

Let me be clear in that I am not arguing ND should not invite speakers who support capital punishment.

As a university, we should welcome speakers of all political leanings and beliefs.

Bill said...

The Catholic Church does not oppose executions and war intrinsically, only when they are carried out unjustly. However, the Pope has spoken out against both the Iraq War, and the use of the death penalty in the US's failed criminal justice program. Bush was invited here before the war, but it was after he presided over 100+ executions in Texas, which has the most corrupt and unjust criminal justice systems in the country. Texas's criminal justice system can in no way guarantee that all of the criminals it has executed have been guilty, as Pat Buchanan has asserted. In fact, Texas has been proven to have executed 4 innocent men in the last 20 years, and countless other cases have been very questionable.

Regardless, I do not believe that a Catholic University had any responsibility to disinvite George W. Bush, because I think such an action would only be contrary to the University's message and prestige. I would most likely have wanted to display my disappointment in a respectful way if George Bush was going to be my commencement speaker, but I could never in good conscience ever suggest that the University ever deny an invitation to the President of United States.

Andrea Watts said...

My mom's fiance, a Notre Dame alumnus (a conservative Catholic), is jazzed about Obama coming to his alma mater :)

dudleysharp said...

Lawrence O'Donnell doesn't have a clue:

Pope Benedict XVI (then, Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith), with guidance to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, stated succinctly, emphatically and unambiguously as follows:

June, 2004 "Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia."
Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick: More Concerned with 'Comfort' than Christ?, Catholic Online, 7/11/2004

What Ardent Practicing Catholics Do (1)
By Fr. John De Celles, 9/1/2008

"Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize. There is … a grave and clear obligation to oppose them … [I]t is therefore never licit to … "take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law, or vote for it."

In other words: it is always a grave or mortal sin for a politician to support abortion.

On Sunday, before the whole nation, (Rep. Nancy Pelosi) claimed to be an "ardent, practicing Catholic." Imagine if someone came in here and said "I'm a mafia hit man and I'm proud of it." Or "I deal drugs to little children." Or "I think black people are animals and it's okay to make them slaves, or at least keep them out of my children's school."

Are these "ardent practicing Catholics"? No, they are not."

And neither is a person who ardently supports and votes to fund killing 1 to 1.5 million unborn babies every single year. Especially if that person is in a position of great power trying to get others to follow her. Someone, for example, like a Catholic Speaker of the House, or a Catholic candidate for Vice President of the United States, or a Catholic senior Senator who is stands as the leading icon his political party. Like the proud and unrepentant murderer or drug dealer, they are not ardent Catholics. They are, in very plain terms, very bad Catholics."

But the reason I say all this is not because I want to embarrass them or even correct them — they’re not even here. It’s because of you. Because back in the 1850’s when Catholic bishops, priests, and politicians were either silent or on the wrong side of the slavery debate, they risked not only their souls, but the souls of every other Catholic they influenced. I cannot do that, and I won’t do that.

Some would say, well Father, what about those people who support the war in Iraq, or the death penalty, or oppose undocumented aliens? Aren’t those just as important, and aren’t Catholic politicians who support those “bad Catholics” too?

Simple answer: no. Not one of those issues, or any other similar issues, except for the attack on traditional marriage is a matter of absolute intrinsic evil in itself. Not all wars are unjust — and good Catholics can disagree on facts and judgments. Same thing with the other issues: facts are debatable, as are solutions to problems."

"What Ardent Practicing Catholics Do: Correcting Pelosi", National Review Online, 9/1/2008 6:00AM

Bill said...

Yikes, that comment is longer than the actual post. For a summary, what he's saying is that unlike abortion, which is always wrong, the death penalty is only sometimes wrong. This is true.
So, yeah Lawrence O'Donnell most certainly did not destroy Pat Buchanan as the video would suggest.
However, Pat Buchanan makes a mistake in suggesting that Texas only executes people who are guilty of murder, when in fact, the convictions of murder suspects in Texas are the result of questionable circumstances.
It's important to point out that the majority opinion in this case is that neither President Bush nor President Obama should be prohibited from speaking at Notre Dame. By citing the death penalty example people are trying to point to some sort of hypocrisy on the part of the opposition. They aren't themselves saying that George Bush should not have been invited, or that George Bush's policies are as contrary to Catholic teaching as Obama's. They're just saying that if you want to put up a Catholic litmus test as to who should speak, we really don't have a whole lot of options for speakers apart from priests, bishops, theologians, etc.

dudleysharp said...

Well, no.

Accordning to Church teaching, abortion is an intrinsic evil that no good Cahtolic can support.

A Cahtolic in good standing can support the death penalty and even more executions based upon their own prudential judgement and remain a Catholic in goo standing.

The death penalty is neither intrisically evil or morally wrong, according to the Church.

dudleysharp said...

The Death Penalty: More Protection for Innocents
Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters, contact info below

Often, the death penalty dialogue gravitates to the subject of innocents at risk of execution. Seldom is a more common problem reviewed. That is, how innocents are more at risk without the death penalty.

Enhanced Due Process

No knowledgeable and honest party questions that the death penalty has the most extensive due process protections in US criminal law.

Therefore, actual innocents are more likely to be sentenced to life imprisonment and more likely to die in prison serving under that sentence, that it is that an actual innocent will be executed.

That is. logically, conclusive.

Enhanced Incapacitation

To state the blatantly clear, living murderers, in prison, after release or escape, are much more likely to harm and murder, again, than are executed murderers.

Although an obvious truism, it is surprising how often folks overlook the enhanced incapacitation benefits of the death penalty over incarceration.

Enhanced Deterrence

16 recent studies, inclusive of their defenses, find for death penalty deterrence.

A surprise? No.

Life is preferred over death. Death is feared more than life.

Some believe that all studies with contrary findings negate those 16 studies. They don't. Studies which don't find for deterrence don't say no one is deterred, but that they couldn't measure those deterred.

What prospect of a negative outcome doesn't deter some? There isn't one . . . although committed anti death penalty folk may say the death penalty is the only one.

Even the premier anti death penalty scholar accepts it as a given that the death penalty is a deterrent, but does not believe it to be a greater deterrent than a life sentence. Yet, the evidence is compelling and un refuted that death is feared more than life.

Enhanced Fear

Some death penalty opponents argue against death penalty deterrence, stating that it's a harsher penalty to be locked up without any possibility of getting out.

Reality paints a very different picture.

What percentage of capital murderers seek a plea bargain to a death sentence? Zero or close to it. They prefer long term imprisonment.

What percentage of convicted capital murderers argue for execution in the penalty phase of their capital trial? Zero or close to it. They prefer long term imprisonment.

What percentage of death row inmates waive their appeals and speed up the execution process? Nearly zero. They prefer long term imprisonment.

This is not, even remotely, in dispute.

What of that more rational group, the potential murderers who choose not to murder, is it likely that they, like most of us, fear death more than life?

Life is preferred over death. Death is feared more than life.

The False Promise

Part of the anti death penalty deception is that a life sentence, with no possibility of release, is a superior alternative to the death penalty. It's a lie. History tells us that lifers have many ways to get out: Pardon, commutation, escape, clerical error, change in the law, etc. There are few absolutes with sentencing. But, here are two: the legislature can lessen the sentences of current inmates, retroactively, and the executive branch can lessen any individual sentence, at any time. This has been, actively, pursued, for a number of years, in many states, because of the high cost of life sentences and/or geriatric care, found to be $60,000-$90,000 per year per inmate.

Innocents released from death row: Some reality

Furthermore, possibly we have sentenced 25 actually innocent people to death since 1973, or 0.3% of those so sentenced. Those have all been released upon post conviction review. The anti death penalty claims, that the numbers are significantly higher, are a fraud, easily discoverable by fact checking.

The innocents deception of death penalty opponents has been getting exposure for many years. Even the behemoth of anti death penalty newspapers, The New York Times, has recognized that deception.

To be sure, 30 or 40 categorically innocent people have been released from death row . . . (1) This when death penalty opponents were claiming the release of 119 "innocents" from death row. Death penalty opponents never required actual innocence in order for cases to be added to their "exonerated" or "innocents" list. They simply invented their own definitions for exonerated and innocent and deceptively shoe horned large numbers of inmates into those definitions - something easily discovered with fact checking.

There is no proof of an innocent executed in the US, at least since 1900.

If we accept that the best predictor of future performance is past performance, we can, reasonably, conclude that the DNA cases will be excluded prior to trial, and that for the next 8000 death sentences, that we will experience a 99.8% accuracy rate in actual guilt convictions. This improved accuracy rate does not include the many additional safeguards that have been added to the system, over and above DNA testing.

Of all the government programs in the world, that put innocents at risk, is there one with a safer record and with greater protections than the US death penalty?


In choosing to end the death penalty, or in choosing not implement it, some have chosen to spare murderers at the cost of sacrificing more innocent lives.


Full report -All Innocence Issues: The Death Penalty, upon request.

Full report - The Death Penalty as a Deterrent, upon request

(1) The Death of Innocents: A Reasonable Doubt,
New York Times Book Review, p 29, 1/23/05, Adam Liptak,
national legal correspondent for The NY Times

copyright 2007-2009, Dudley Sharp
Permission for distribution of this document, in whole or in part, is approved with proper attribution.

Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
e-mail 713-622-5491,
Houston, Texas

Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS, VOA and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O'Reilly Factor, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.

A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally.

Pro death penalty sites

Essays: See death penalty (Sweden)

Bill said...

"Well, no.

Accordning to Church teaching, abortion is an intrinsic evil that no good Cahtolic can support.

A Cahtolic in good standing can support the death penalty and even more executions based upon their own prudential judgement and remain a Catholic in goo standing.

The death penalty is neither intrisically evil or morally wrong, according to the Church."

Seriously? That is exactly what I said in the first paragraph of my response. What do you mean by "Well, no"? Now I don't even know I feel the need to dignify your comment with a response, since you did me no such courtesy. But I'm a sucker for punishment, so I'll do it anyway.

Oh fun, you just copy-pasted an article you've written, complete with unattributed "facts" and "studies".

Remember, Dudley, before you dump an irrelevant article on this blog, that the OP never once mentioned the issue of deterrence, which makes up the majority of the argument in your article.

That being said, your article is fallacious and misleading, and you attribute none of your sources. An argument based upon nebulous references to "studies" and arbitrary states has no place in a reasoned discussion. Your "facts" aren't even consistent.

"possibly we have sentenced 25 actually innocent people to death since 1973"

"To be sure, 30 or 40 categorically innocent people have been released from death row"

Which is it, 25, 30, 40? Why not 119? Why not more, or less?

"There is no proof of an innocent executed in the US, at least since 1900."

A simple google search will prove that this is not true. One case that I can recall off the top of my head is Carlos DeLuna, who was sentenced based on eyewitness testimony that was later retracted. The actual killer later admitted to the crime while serving a different sentence.

Dudley, if you intend on intend on commenting on this blog and shill your own work and the political action groups you support, I suggest you at least tailor your comments to the topic at hand, and provide evidence for some of your more outrageous claims.

Bill said...

Here is only a partial list of various news sites, blogs, and pro and anti death penalty advocacy sites onto whose comments sections Dudley Sharp has seen fit to paste his essay entitled "The Death Penalty: More Protection for Innocents".

If you check the comments section on any of these websites you will a username of Dudley Sharp making a comment consisting of roughly one sentence, and then his entire essay in full, which is the same, word for word on each of these sites. He does this with little regard as to the pertinence of his essay in the discussion at hand.

I have to ask, is your essay so good that you have to spam it on every website or blog that mentions the death penalty? I read it, and I think it could at least benefit from citations. I suggest that you work on making your essay stronger and more cohesive, and instead of spamming other people's websites, you should try starting your own blog and putting it there. I know you have a blogspot account, and a wordpress account, so it shouldn't be difficult.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Duds realizes that Bill worked at the NCADP, as Henry mentioned in an earlier post. He should probably mind where he spams his essay. In this case, someone just got served.


dudleysharp said...

Your hypocracy is lovely. Bill, tell me what you think is outrageous,ib detail, instead of making broad and empty claims.

Bill writes: Your "facts" aren't even consistent.

Sharp replies> Yes they are

I wrote: "possibly we have sentenced 25 actually innocent people to death since 1973"

The New York Times wrote:"To be sure, 30 or 40 categorically innocent people have been released from death row"

The New York Times ia bit inconsistent. I am not sure how they had such a huge range of 30-40 "categorically innocent". If they are categorically innocent, I am not sure why he found a 33% disparity.

The Timea finds about a 70% error rate in the innocent claims of anti death penalty folks. Mine is closer to 80%.

Sharp wrote:"There is no proof of an innocent executed in the US, at least since 1900."

Bill responds:A simple google search will prove that this is not true. One case that I can recall off the top of my head is Carlos DeLuna, who was sentenced based on eyewitness testimony that was later retracted. The actual killer later admitted to the crime while serving a different sentence.

Sharp responds: This is nowhere close to proof of an innocent executed. There is no proof of DeLuna's actual innocent nor is there proof that Henandez (I believe is the correct name) was the actual murderer.

dudleysharp said...

Anonymous, happy to go up against anyone with the NCADP, any time.

dudleysharp said...


Something for you on the DeLuna case:

Bill said...

To clarify, I am not "with the NCADP". I have worked with them in the past, but the ideas of this blog and the comments are my own and not representative of the organization itself


I think I was well within reason to suggest inconsistency in your article. The fact of the matter is you claimed that the number of innocents sentenced to death was 25, and subsequently stated it was 30 or 40. I'm happy that you finally decided to cite one of your claims, but I'm curious as to why you chose to include information that contradicts something you say not a paragraph earlier, especially since you apparently take issue with the New York Times's numbers.
This is part of my larger point about your intentions in spamming our blog. If you think that your essay is so important that it needed to be pasted into the comments section here and dozens of other blogs, I suggest that you fix up your essay. I'm doing you favor. It's hard to take seriously someone who spams an article that doesn't even contain any references. Before you decide to parade your piece on my blog, I suggest you go back and fix up your work. You're still pulling numbers out of thin air. You still are dumping statistics without citations. You still reference "studies" that support your opinion, without even mentioning where these studies have come from.

Oh, and yes, you're right I can't prove DeLuna's innocence of the murder of Wanda Lopez, just as I cannot prove yours or my own. Luckily in the US system we are supposed to prove guilt, not innocence. As far as DeLuna's innocence...
The sole basis of the case against DeLuna was an eyewitness identification by one person. This identification took place in the back of a police car, not in a police line-up, and the identification was coerced by the police who assured the witness that DeLuna was the right man. This was in spite of the fact that the witness had earlier remarked that the suspect he witnessed was dressed differently than Carlos DeLuna and donned a mustache, which DeLuna did not. After the conviction, the witness later stated that he was never sure if DeLuna was the man he had seen committing the crime. Aside from this retracted testimony, there is no other evidence that would tie DeLuna to the case.

Carlos Hernandez on the other hand, in addition to admitting to the crime himself, was known by his neighbors as an acquaintance of the victim who was romantically interested in her. He also had a history of being arrested for similar incidents in which he has used a weapon identical to the weapon used against Lopez to stab other women.

The link you posted is just you commenting on a forum about a movie you don't like. The majority of your points of contention with the film aren't even directly relevant to the DeLuna case, and the ones that are relate only specifically to a few cherry-picked comments of Reverend Carroll Pickett.

I don't know why you saw the need have me read your movie review, as it contributed nothing to this conversation. I can only suggest that you are trying to use this blog as a promotional tool for your own work. This is called spamming, and you've done it twice so far.
If you wish to comment about the original posts in this blog, I am more than willing to allow you to do that. I will, however, no longer tolerate spam on this blog with little in the form of relevance to the actual content of this blog.

dudleysharp said...

I wish you were more mature. I will call you Bill, OK?

I am consistent, I just listed another source. You seem to miss the point. Two sources finding an error rate of 70-80% in very important anti death penalty claims.

Your missing the forest for the trees>

As I stated, no proof of an innocent executed.

There was more proof against DeLuna. I think you cited an anti death penalty site, which is fine. Do you know if they just laid out the defense case, or did they give full review of the prosecution case? Or both?

I haven't read the trial trasnscript so I wouldn'ty know. I suspect you don't know either. Often, it's a lot like Helen Prejeans "Death Of Innocents" book.

You are correct, my complaints with the film are that the main anti death penalty character, in this anti death penalty documentary, doesn't seem to be able to tell the truth or know the truth, on any topic, regarding his work of many years.

That was my point.

You said I made outrageous claims. I am ready to review those, if you would be specific.

Bill said...


If your main beef with my post was the phrase "outrageous claims" then I apologize. My point would have been better served with the word "contentious". I have no problem with your having made contentious claims, only that in your post you provide no citations for any of them, and you leave it up to me to call you out on it before you decide to do so. If you wish to now verify your claims, then go ahead.
I think that you are doing a disservice to the death penalty debate with your actions. I've been looking into your activity and I have found that rather than contributing to any conversation at all relating to the original posts that you comment on, you decide instead to spam the page with an article devoid of citations. I suggest that rather than abusing the comments section of other people's websites to shill for your work, you try to stay on topic.

As far as maturity goes, I find that it can be difficult to maintain the high road with comments like "Your hypocracy is lovely". Treat me and the other posters with respect and you will receive the same

dudleysharp said...


Thank you for allowing me to post on your site, I do so only at your discretion and it is appreciated.

My dander was up becase I get the outrageous of false claims nonsense from anti death penalty folks, , often, and they won't back it up and just leave it hanging.

You picked on my post, because I didn't give you sources and then you do the virtual equivalent by saying I make outrageous claims, but you don't tell me which ones.

Maybe we can both do better.

I will give you any sources you wish.

And I will respond to any inquiry you may have.

Or, we can call it a day.

Thank you.

Bill said...


I appreciate your having come to our blog to contribute to this important debate, and thus making the comments section of this blog more interesting.

I try to be understanding and respectful of all sides, yet I admit that I have a good deal to learn about how to approach discourse civilly.

This post may not have been the best place to discuss the death penalty's usefulness as a policy, but I am open to hearing different opinions on the subject, so long as they placed within the appropriate forum and adequately reinforced with evidence.

If you have a blog or other website wherein you lay out your case for the death penalty more thoroughly, feel free to post a link.

Again, I appreciate your stopping by and I harbor no hard feelings toward you.

Respectfully yours,


Anonymous said...

This is probably the best case I've seen that no innocent person has been executed in modern U.S. history. Scalia's opinion in Kansas v. Marsh. Look at pg. 26 I think, starting at "III".

-Greg B.

Anonymous said...

By case I meant argument.