War on Terror

Pope Francis Says World Increasingly a Place of Violent Conflict—Not Quite

Taking for granted an improving world risks the improvements.



In his address to the U.S. Congress, the first by a pontiff in American history, Pope Francis talked about the "disturbing social and political situation of the world today," calling it "increasingly a place of violent conflict, hatred and brutal atrocities, committed even in the name of God and of religion."  

Francis continued by cautioning against a "simplistic reductionism which sees only good or evil," saying a "delicate balance… [was] required to combat violence perpetrated in the name of a religion, an ideology or an economic system, while also safeguarding religious freedom, intellectual freedom, and individual freedoms." 

That's an important message—the fervor whipped up over a perceived battled of "good vs. evil" has fueled a 14-year-and-running U.S. war on terror that has spanned the globe, included two land wars, massive surveillance, extrajudicial killings, detentions, and numerous air bombing (drone and otherwise) campaigns. It's contributed to the destabilized environment in which Osama bin Laden's "core Al-Qaeda" has made the way for even more violent groups like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Boko Haram, and Al-Shabaab. The response to the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001 compounded the tragedy, extending it over a generation and a globe. 

But it's not just the simplistic reductionism of good and evil that leads to policies, even in democratic societies, that contribute to violent conflict. So does a misunderstanding or misrepresentation of, or overreaction to social and political conditions today. The world, for example, despite the pope's assertions, is not getting increasingly violent. It's becoming less so. The first decade of this century saw less deaths from violent conflict than any decade of the 20th century—this while the world population nearly quadrupled. As the Small Arms Survey noted, a "small number of countries accounts overwhelmingly for the global toll of conflict deaths," suggesting "carefully targeted armed violence reduction" would have the biggest effect, the opposite of the kind of solution the premise that the world is getting "increasingly violent" drives many people to.

We know this because we saw it unfold after 9/11, when many Americans were convinced the world was falling apart around them. The policies those fearful convictions led to made the fears a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. The delicate balance between fighting authoritarian violence without and not being consumed by it within is easier to maintain when today's violence is kept in the context of the enormous reductions in armed conflict, and enormous increases in economic prosperity, around the world in the last hundred years. Things are getting better, and will get better still. Taking for granted that they are makes it easier to support policies that could reverse the unprecedented improvements in the social and political situation of the world today.

NEXT: Man Jailed for Traffic Ticket Dies in Cell After 17 Days of Torture. Officers Watched It Happen.

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  1. “Boko Haram”

    I don’t hear about these guys anymore. They need to get a better agent, like whoever’s handling ISIS.

    1. And so do you, Tulpy-Poo. In fact, you need to get a better life, but I suppose that’s far beyond your grasp.

      1. I guess if you’re going to be making things up it’s also good to be obsessive about it. Carry on!

        1. Just like you, Tulpy-Poo? I absolutely love how pathetic you are. Just wanted to play today, huh? Feeling a little lonely? Had to send your Realdoll back to the manufacturer because of overwear? Life is tough.

          1. It’s hilarious that the guy who obsessively needs to ‘police’ his ‘online community’ that he’s on day and night finds patheticness in others. Lol.

            1. This Epi/Bo beef has to be one of the weirdest i’ve seen in a while.

              1. Tulpa’s been a pariah here since at least 2008 or so. This is nothing new.

                1. What the hell happened?

                  I remember playing with him in reason’s fantasy football league…I think he even won.

                  He seemed OK back then.

                  *I mean Tulpa. Epi has always been super pissed and in fact has mellowed over time.

                  1. I’m not Tulpa. This is just Epi’s latest line in his and his little group’s obsessive efforts to control the forum.

                  2. What happened? He was always an asshole and he became more so. He was never OK, but he became more and more desperate to prove that he was the smartest guy in the room for some reason. Who knows. Who cares. Fuck Tulpa.

                  3. What the hell happened?

                    I broke him, Corning. I broke his mind. I caught him in lie after lie by digging in the archives and throwing his own words back in his face.

                    And then, when he was reducing to constantly changing his handles in order to trick people into talking to him, I busted him doing it and broke him again.

                    Tulpa is nothing. A sad, impotent nothing.

                    1. The funny thing is, I agree.

                      From my reading and interaction with Tulpa he’s clearly a Republican who thinks of himself as a pragmatist who finds libertarians to be frustratingly idealist and not willing to help his Team when that’s what any intelligent person (like him) would clearly and obviously see. When he got caught pretending to be other people I was ‘there’ and said at the time it was a sign of a pretty disturbed mind. If you go back you’ll see that he tried mightily to convince me that ‘everyone does that.’ My reply is that if others did it, they’re disturbed too, but that didn’t make him less so. To be honest, I think it’s more a symptom of being such a Team player, he really felt obligated to keep trying to make pragmatic actors out of everyone here, and, of course, in his mind pragmatic libertarians would support the GOP.

              2. He’s obsessed with me. Or rather, he’s obsessed with keeping this site, which he sees as ‘his’ online community, pure of people that he thinks distracts from what he wants to use it for, which is, as PB once said well (stopped clocks and all I guess), an extension of his facebook page.

                1. Eh. If i wanted to find Epi’s facebook page i’d accept his mom’s friend request.

                  1. Oh, you don’t even have to do that. He brings his facebook page here, every day. All day. For years and years it seems.

            2. It’s amazing how you are completely unable to not whine exactly the same way and about the same stuff that you whine about as Tulpa. I mean, how fucking stupid are you? Don’t answer that, you might even be stupider than anyone realizes. Except for you, of course.

  2. We know this because we saw it unfold after 9/11, when many Americans were convinced the world was falling apart around them.

    Maybe because for many people the world was literally falling apart in front of them. I agree with the premise that the world is safer than it used to be, but there is no guarantee this trend continues.

    1. There’s no guarantee of any future trend in anything, ever. So what’s your point?

      1. “There’s no guarantee of any future trend in anything, ever

        That IS my point. Ed stated in his post that ” Things are getting better, and will get better still. ” I hope they do but this always reminds me of the Heinlein quote-

        Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded ? here and there, now and then ? are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

        This is known as “bad luck.”

      2. I would say there’s one long-term trend that guarantees the world is going to be very dark and very cold one day. Sometime shortly after it becomes extremely bright and extremely hot. You’ve only got a few billion years to stockpile thermal underwear.

    2. Perhaps more to the point, there is no guarantee that the parts that aren’t safe are right where you happen to be. Or nearby.

  3. Once in a while I see a tweet so stupid I can’t quite believe it’s real. Then I remember it’s from a Breunig and realize it’s probably real.


    Matt Bruenig
    ?@MattBruenig Matt Bruenig

    Repeal the laws that create land ownership

    Repeal the laws that create land ownership.

    Repeal the laws. That create land ownership.

    1. We have a major candidate in one of the two big parties who is an out and out socialist. Not a ‘I’m going to call myself something else but pursue anti-market stuff, but of course deny being a socialist’ but a guy who proudly calls himself one and often talks about it and how he’d like to see it work here. Anything is possible it seems.

      1. “Government is the great fiction through which everybody endeavors to live at the expense of everybody else.”

        -Bastiat 1848

        Some things will never change.

        1. But this is a new thing for this country, we’re at a Rubicon here. I don’t think we’ve ever had a major party candidate doing this well in the polls that is an out and avowed socialist. They think the masks can come off now, and that’s a pretty scary thing imo.

          1. Once upon a time Americans recognized and respected the value of those rich innovators who make everyone better off by creating wealth, jobs, and products for society. That was very unusual. Well, now Americans aren’t that unusual anymore.

            1. Even President and candidates for President that were very ‘socialistic’ in their policies and platforms would have vehemently denied being a socialist and publicly denounced socialism as un-American. And here we now have this guy showered with support who is an out and avowed socialist. This is something like a very important and very negative milestone.

              For years liberals have reacted to charges (sometimes lazily made I’ll admit) that the candidates they support are socialists with either great anger or rolling-eyes suggestions the one making the charge is crazy. OK, now we have Sanders. The fact that he’s not being booed off stages around the country and polling in the margin of error says something very important imo.

              1. It says that the American Experiment is soon to end.

                1. I hope not, but it certainly says that a disturbingly significant number of people are so sure that’s the case that they’re willing to be quite open about trying to bring it about.

                  1. Liberty is not normal. Liberty is what made America unusual. And liberty naturally leads to income inequality. The only way to “solve the problem is income inequality” is to take away our liberty. Once it’s gone it’s gone, and the American Experiment will be relegated to history books.

                    1. I don’t know. Anti-liberty movements have abounded in our history. But we’ve at least had, up until recently, a solid bi-partisan of socialism at least explicitly. I’m honestly shocked at what’s happening with that right now. I think it’s a seismic shift.

                    2. You’re kidding yourself. Once liberty is gone, the American Experiment will be removed from the history books.

                    3. You’re kidding yourself. Once liberty is gone, the American Experiment will be removed from the history books.

                      Oh, no. It will indeed remain in there as a warning. You see, the American Experiment led to rampant inequality and great accumulations of wealth. People were running around doing things without permission. They weren’t just waiting for orders. It was chaos and anarchy. And completely unfair with all that inequality and great wealth. It will remain in the history books as a reminder as to why liberty is such a terrible thing, and why it must never be tried again.

                    4. Yes. It will become a term like ‘Lochnerism’ used to invoke a boogeyman from the past which we must never even think of returning to.

              2. Its my generation that is supporting him. We were raised by a generation that championed everything being “equal” and “fair”.

                Well… here you have your result.

          2. You know all about masks, don’t you, Tulpy-Poo. They’re literally all you do.

            1. More of this crazy?

            2. Be nice. He also whines about not being accepted.

              1. Hmm, one of the last few times I was here even Warty had dropped the ‘Bo is Tulpa’ nonsense. Seems Episarch has whipped him back to the line.

                1. Oh man, you were so hopeful that he was actually saying that. I’m so glad he fucked with you that way. It’s just so easy.

                  1. “were so hopeful that he was actually saying that”

                    Wow, your projection of how vitally important you take this ‘online community’ of yours is delicious.

                2. So, Tulpa, I thought it over, and your original handle “cunnivore” gets more and more pitiful the more I think about it. Does being an adult virgin really bother you that much that you have to overcompensate so pitifully?

                  1. All college students are virgins in Warty’s experience, of course.

                    1. You are an adult virgin in everyone’s experience, Tulpy-Poo. It must bother you so badly.

                    2. The ‘you’re a virgin’ talk on an internet forum ratchets it up to middle school level at least.

                      What’s interesting is how so very, very *badly* you need this. You really can’t stop or help yourself. You’re on here night and day and for how many years? It really has become this strangely invaluable source of social interaction for you such that you feel this crazed, desire to police it. It’s equal parts sad and funny really.

                    3. You should retire this character, Tulpa. It’s pretty much used up by now. Don’t worry. You can always make new ones. Remember how well you did with Rollo? I liked Rollo. He was a therapist, helped people. Good guy. I mean, he was still you, so still pathetic, but. You know.

                    4. There is literally nothing better than your epic, all consuming projection. Especially seeing as everyone but you can see it clear as day.

                      But please, keep doing it. At least it’s massively entertaining.

                    5. Hey, I’m not the one following you around and trying to get other people to not talk to you. That’s you my sad, crazy friend. You need to make your primary source of social interaction pure.

                    6. No, you’re the imbecile who gets a boner from getting people to interact with you by lying about who you are. Every time you open your virtual mouth about this, it becomes more and more clear how fucking nuts you are.

                      You are a pathological liar. That should make you ashamed, but as we’ve seen clearly, nothing makes you ashamed, because you literally cannot understand reputation economy or basic human interaction.

                      You are a broken, subhuman piece of garbage, Tulpa. And the thing is, a part of you knows this. That’s why you fight so hard against it. But you do know it, deep down. And that is why you will always hate yourself. Nothing we can do to you can compare to that.

                    7. You’re crazy. I’m not Tulpa. You’ve staked so very (and oddly) much on this I guess you’re hoping through sheer repetition it make some people other than your clique here buy it, but it’s fairly clear it’s just the latest tactic of you and that group to try to push me off ‘your’ site. Good luck with that.

                    8. “If I just pathologically lie enough, they’ll all believe me!”

                    9. That is what you’re doing, so why the quotes?

                    10. “If I continue to pathologically lie beyond anyone else’s possibility of believing me, they’ll all believe me!”

      2. True, but that’s still a big step to what Bruenig proposes.

        Sanders is a “socialist” in the social democrat “redistribute the wealth and strictly regulate business” kind of way. To most self-described socialists, this doesn’t qualify him as an actual socialist, because most of them stick to the classic definition of someone who wants to completely abolish capitalism by collectivizing (all) ownership of the means of production in society. Which Sanders doesn’t propose. Someone who actually proposed nationalization (or mandatory worker ownership) of all (and/or most) companies and the abolition of private property would still not be taken seriously in the Democratic primary, let alone a general election. Thankfully we’re a long ways from that. Sanders support is disappointing but I don’t find it surprising as people have gotten tired of corrupt establishment clowns.

        1. I understand this distinction as part of a political philosophy discussion, but in actual political practice we’ve had a really solid bi-partisan rejection of explicit socialism. If you called Truman or FDR or LBJ a socialist they’d probably have threatened to slug you, if you called Mondale or Obama that they (and their supporters) would have rolled their eyes as if it was ludicrous that an actual socialist would be representing one of the big two. This has changed with Sanders, and I think it’s the most disturbing thing in politics in my lifetime.

          1. I think it’s a function of some of Obama’s rhetoric, a lot of Warren’s rhetoric, and, to be fair, some lazy charges of explicit socialism by the other side of the aisle having the effect of undercutting the sting of the label. But whatever it’s cause, it’s scary.

          2. That is true. But honestly, this is why it’s annoyed me that people, including many, many conservatives and libertarians have watered down the socialist label such that it can include someone like Sanders. I worry that Sanders-style social democrats becoming mainstream could open the door to real, dyed in the wool socialists of the nature I describe becoming mainstream as well, because they fall under the same label. Sanders and his ilk are definitely bad, but they would be orders of magnitude worse.

            1. I don’t think the label of socialist is unfairly applied to Sanders. He is a type of socialist, he’s quite clear about that himself. I understand that he’s of a type that’s less awful than others, but he’s a socialist. I think the problem is not calling him socialist-he just is one, it’s that people have thrown the label at espouser of any non-conservative or non-NAP proposal coming from the left. It’s somewhat understandable, because those kind of are steps to something like socialism, but it’s had the effect of making that line-that we stop at actual explicit socialism-less powerful to many. And we need that line: even very progressive pols have reigned in their proposals somewhat for fear, at the least, of seeming to cross that line.

              1. “I don’t think the label of socialist is unfairly applied to Sanders. He is a type of socialist, he’s quite clear about that himself. I understand that he’s of a type that’s less awful than others, but he’s a socialist. I think the problem is not calling him socialist-he just is one”

                He fits a definition of socialist that has de facto become a real, accurate term. He wouldn’t have fit in with the original socialists of the 19th and early 20th century, especially in Europe.

                Socialism is defined as “a political and economic theory of social organization that advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole.” Now, the term “regulated” does grant some weasel room to include someone like Sanders, but applied liberally enough it could include a lot more people as well. There are ton of socialists that disagree with the extension of the label to include people like Sanders, or the Scandinavian countries as socialist. Rand Paul, despite the fact that he always or almost always qualifies his identification as libertarian (such as “libertarian conservative”) and holds quite a few positions contrary to libertarian principles, is in my experience far more accepted on libertarian sites than Bernie Sanders is on socialist forums.

              2. I prefer the classical definition as it’s less ambiguous and doesn’t leave room for a socialist to mask their agenda or try to present it as mainstream. To me, Sanders just represents a somewhat more extreme example of Democratic and liberal thinking on the issues, but from an objective POV I don’t think his stances are categorically different in the way that the classical definition is categorically different from even Sanders himself, let alone someone like Clinton, or someone on the right side of the spectrum.

                I think the right has loved to use the term socialist to attack the left because of its negative connotations, but it has back fired by making the term less meaningful and more mainstream. Many people across the spectrum, maybe even a majority, seem to think welfare programs are the epitome of socialism, when in socialist theory wealth redistribution is viewed more as a consequence of the change in ownership of the means of production and property from a private model to a collective one. A lot of socialists don’t even like welfare programs because they think it makes people comfortable with capitalism and less prone to socialist revolution. In the big picture, the view of socialism as something focused on redistributive welfare programs rather than fundamental change to the structure of the economy makes it more palatable to the public and opens the door for the latter sort of people to sneak in under a label that has lost its negative perception due to this.

    2. I’m sure he won’t mind if I walk over to his house, I mean my house, let myself in, help myself to the contents of his, I mean my, fridge and borrow/rightfully take back any anything I find interesting.

      1. You’re the Kramer to Matt’s Jerry.

    3. “What’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine.”

    4. 1. It’s not the 1880s, Matt. Though I’d love to see Benjamin Tucker as editor of Reason.

      2. What does this have to do with gentrification? He’s saying to, what, nationalize all property? And that will solve the “problems” of gentrification? Enable price controls, sure, that’s the kind of idiotic response I’d expect; but abolish land ownership?

      1. Or is it some kind of John Lennon feel-good bullshit. “Imagine there’s no property” is all just free shit.

      2. I thought gentrification was good. How is it bad? I’ve only ever seen economic studies that show that gentrification actually enriches people. Sure it punishes those who make bad decisions. But do we really want a world where people are shielded from consequences of their own decisions? Incentives fucking matter.

        1. Do you have a link to those studies? From what I’ve read, it seems like it mostly just shifts poverty and wealth around geographically without really changing the underlying status quo, but that could be wrong, it’s been a while since I read that and I’m not sure where it was.

          1. No link handy, but it was recent. I think it showed that homeowners in derelict neighborhoods that underwent some gentrification benefited tremendously. But renters got shafted. So if you were smart enough to own your tenement you stood to gain. As long as you didn’t get destroyed by eminent domain.

            1. That isn’t surprising. The complaints about gentrification though are often focused on the situation of renters. In many cases, it’s not about whether you’re smart enough to own a home, many people just can’t afford it, especially in high COL areas.

    5. Falls into the category of “next time you have a thought, let it go”

      1. This thread is getting very Beatles-heavy.

        1. …OK, confused Let it Be with Let it Go. I’ve had too much coffee today.

  4. “Taking a rostrum never before occupied by the bishop of Rome, the pontiff issued a vigorous call to action on issues largely favored by liberals, including a powerful defense of immigration, a critique of the excesses of capitalism, an endorsement of environmental legislation, a blistering condemnation of the arms trade and a plea to abolish the death penalty.”


    Man, this Pope, Eddie’s probably had a stroke or two since he came on.

    1. Hey, but he’s having lunch with some homeless people. I. Love. This. Pope.

      1. Why not, what’s coming out of his mouth isn’t all that different from their insane blatherings.

    2. issues largely favored by liberals, including … a critique of the excesses of capitalism

      Not to go back to the 1880s myself, but it’s infuriating that this could be called “liberal.” The excesses of capitalism? Not the errors or inefficiencies of capitalism? When did liberals become anti-consumerist puritans?

      And how can you defend the importance of immigration while decrying capitalism? People aren’t risking their lives to emigrate to anti-capitalist nations.

      1. When did liberals become anti-consumerist puritans?

        have you noticed the ones rallying around the guy who thinks there are too many deodorant choices on the market?

      2. Pope Francis is a Peronist.

        1. I have to wonder if the Church in Latin America in attempting to undercut the whole Liberation Theology stuff down there didn’t co-opt some of that and then started believing it.

  5. Rufus: “Francis”
    Pope: “Yes, my son?”
    Rufus: “Turn in your beanie and hat. Leave the cannoli.”

    1. “And the Popemobile – i wanna turn the glass part into an aquarium.”

  6. “I’ma stand up here and make shit up. E’erbody cool with that?”

  7. Pope Francis sound a lot like Pres. George W. Bush minus the “Axis of Evil” spiel.

  8. The first decade of this century saw less deaths from violent conflict than any decade of the 20th century?this while the world population nearly quadrupled.

    What about the last five years? You know, including the ones that have seen a tsunami of refugees, the most since WWII.

    1. Are there more refugees in the world now, are more in in Europe?

    2. Those wars are still low-death compared to things like WWI, WWII, or even Korea and Vietnam.

      1. Probably so, but the rather arbitrary cutoff five years ago makes me wonder if I need to put on my cherry-picking pants.

  9. To paraphrase Thomas Sowell, it’s silly for the Pope to ask why we have violence and poverty and ignorance, not that difficult to see that that’s the natural condition of Man. The better question would be why some few people do not live in a state of violence and poverty and ignorance, for that is the aberration. Far from capitalism and liberalism and the pursuit of the Almighty Dollar causing all the suffering in the world, it is capitalism and liberalism and the pursuit of the Almighty Dollar that leads to alleviating the pain. But, of course, if the Pope were fine with leaving people free to pursue their own happiness in their own way we’d have a new answer to the question “Is the Pope Catholic?”. No, he’s Lutheran.

  10. “increasingly a place of violent conflict, hatred and brutal atrocities, committed even in the name of God and of religion.”

    I guess he’s supposed to feign surprise.

  11. Can we stop caring about what this old man in a wedding dress and funny hat has to say? He’s real dumb.

    1. Well it seems it’s either this or Donald Trump.

      1. Whose hat is better? Trump’s hat promises to make this country great again, but the Pope’s hat is ‘UUUUGE.


      2. Trump for Bishop of Rome! Pope Donaldus I! I would love to see him give a homily: “…and when Jesus was on the cross bleeding from his side, bleeding from his… wherever…”

        1. That made me chuckle…

  12. Why should anyone care what the Pope has to say on any subject other than Catholic dogma? I don’t know why people care what an ordinary politician has to say either, but the Pope? He wasn’t chosen for his insight into world affairs. His specialty isn’t even focused on this dimension, maaaan.

    1. Why do people care what the British Royal Family does? Why do people care what Matt Damon says? Why people post idiotic, factually challenged memes on Facebook?

    2. The Pope speaks of Eternal Verities, and the eternal verities gotta change once in a while to keep up with the Kardashians modern world. If Bono can pretend he’s the Pope, why can’t the Pope pretend he’s Bono?

  13. Look, the pope is becoming increasingly irrelevant. The Catholic Church isn’t gone by any means, but it’s not what it once was. This pope is merely trying to rebrand in the most pathetic of ways: the way of preaching DOOM and HORROR. It’s frankly what environmentalists and climate change enthusiasts every single day. It’s what vaccine truthers do. It’s what SJWs/rape obsessives do (ONE IN FIVE WOMEN RAPED EVERY MINUTE!!!). It’s what a ton of assholes seeking attention do. They just see each other doing it, they see it works, so they keep doing it.

    It’s massively boring, but man, we will be getting more and more of it as liars and the like seek dwindling attention in a safer world.

    1. It’s the point I raised yesterday. He thinks he can revive the Catholic church’s sagging attendance numbers by replacing church doctrine with fashionable progressivism. The thing is the popularity Francis has gained from all this seems to be only with people who don’t and won’t go to Catholic church. Most of the Catholic churchgoers I’ve talked to aren’t particularly enthused about the pope’s pronouncements. Moreover, if you look empirically, it isn’t the churches that replace scripture with fashionable leftism that particularly succeed. People aren’t going to spend Sunday morning sitting on an uncomfortable bench listening to the same crap they can read off of Salon in the comfort of their own home with a nice cup of coffee.

      1. “He thinks he can revive the Catholic church’s sagging attendance numbers by replacing church doctrine with fashionable progressivism. ”

        How crazy is that. Most denominations, at least in the US, that take more ‘progressive’ stands tend to shrink while the ones that take more conservative stands are the ones that grow. Progressive in religion tends to lead most to not finding church useful for much at all eventually.

  14. And every Pope since what, the 50s has bitched about unchecked Capitalism. Why secular people listen to the Pope, I know not.

    Wait, I just answered my own question, never mind.

    1. I’ve never heard of any church complaining about unchecked capitalism. Sure they prefer cash, but checks are good too.

    2. Since 1931 and Pope Pius XI

      Communism is disliked because of the state atheism schtick. But there’s always been plenty of pro-Socialist sentiments within general Christianity. This has never been a religion that somehow exalts free markets as virtuous, but I can understand why some people wish to believe otherwise.

  15. Wait…

    A whole Hit and Run front page devoid of Trump?!?!?!


    1. Maybe they’re watching their 401ks wither into nothing.

      1. Maybe the writers finally got bored with so much winning.

  16. increasingly a place of violent conflict, hatred and brutal atrocities, committed even in the name of God and of religion.

    Just when I kinda thought I was sorta beginning to like this guy, he goes and shoots his credibility all to hell by making this idiotic, manifestly disprovable statement.


  17. It’s nice to know we’re spending millions of dollars on security theater for the benefit of this blabbering nutcase.

  18. To be honest, I hold the same kind of fondness for the Roman Catholic Church that I hold for the abusive, emotionally distant father who disowned me and the batshit crazy mother who assures me that my lifestyle choices blaspheme God and curse my children. Maybe it’s Stockholm Syndrome, maybe I’m fucking insane, but there’s a part of me that would genuinely like to be Catholic. Hell, I actually made it most of the way through the preparatory class for the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults . . . before some anonymous asshole reported our, ahem, nontraditional family structure to the college of bishops and the priest asked us not to return. But if the pope ever removed the stick from his ass and stopped instructing priests to force indigenous polygamists to divorce their subsequent wives before allowing them to be baptized?in cultures where divorce more or less consigns women and their children to a life grinding poverty or worse, starvation?I’d give serious thought to joining the Church.

    Which is weird, because my belief in God is tenuous at best. I’m what you might call a secular observant Christian. I’m deeply involved in the church yet constantly ask myself why.

    1. There are very many “secular” Catholics. Much of the rite and ritual of Catholicism is perfectly acceptable to people who take a metaphorical stance towards faith. Catholic dogma rarely, if ever, contradicts matters of scientific proof. So it is entirely possible to be a secular member of the Church. In fact I know fewer devout Catholics than secular ones.

      However, even as I was raised Catholic if I ever had children I’d cart them to a Quaker meeting house instead.

  19. “disturbing social and political situation of the world today,” calling it “increasingly a place of violent conflict, hatred and brutal atrocities, committed even in the name of God and of religion.”

    Just like taxes (extortion) and gov’t which exist through coercion and violence. Plus theft through currency debauchery, subsidies and all the other things.

  20. Huh, I see an article on how the world is facing a $43 Trillion calamity. I think, “This I gotta read, is CNBC finally admitting that global debt is unsustainable and that endless QE and permanent zero percent interest rates might not be a good thing?”

    Nope, an article about global warming. Fuck you CNBC.


    1. Of course, $43 trillion when the global warming comes around will only be about $673 in today’s money.

  21. A congressman, A senator, and the Pope walk into a bar.

    Everybody laughs.

    1. More correctly, everybody cheers. Did you see the speech? It was one of those awful spectacles where the speaker can’t finish more than two sentences without one or both sides of the aisle rushing to cheer the speech to a stop (and of course hoping they’re filmed doing so).

  22. Things are getting better, and will get better still.

    I hate this shit. I submit that fewer people are dying because of violence whether from the state or each other. IMHO, and to steal from Aristotle, happiness is the highest good and the end at which all our activities ultimately aim. For me, Schweitzerian life affirmation and libertarian “leave me the fuck alone” are means to that end. It is good that there is less violence, less large scale wars, and people lucky enough to live in the right countries have a chance to live longer. Freedom from large scale war, and wanton violence are necessary but not sufficient condition to meet that end.

    But I am not all that impressed. We have less war deaths because we can send in a drone rather than a fleet of B-29’s to kill the “bad” people. But we still have the motive to kill people for stupid reasons. The morality hasn’t gotten any better, only the technology with which to carry out shitty morality.

    1. And I’m not that impressed with where things are in this country. I don’t see an abundance of happiness. I don’t see an abundance of freedom. I don’t see an abundance of exercise of freedom. I see lots of people rushing to and from shitty jobs (well those luck enough to have jobs) with less pay and fewer benefits. I see an increasingly atomistic, paranoid, fearful, statist population that does what it is told and is too fearful to stand up for itself. I do see nice trimmed lawns in the suburbs, though. I see a country where not paying a traffic ticket is a death sentence. I will believe that things are getting better when the King’s men are brought to justice for the murders and usurpations of fundamental freedoms people endure everyday.

      1. /edit “too cowed to stand up for itself.”

      2. Good post.

        It’s easy to point out that measures of direct violence (war deaths, genocide, etc.) have been on the decline for many decades now. And that’s great.

        But what’s intractably difficult to measure is the level of indirect violence inflicted on a person under the modern state?the many implied violences from criminalization of this or that, the amount of theft from various forms of taxation, the rigged markets with insurmountable barriers to entry, etc.

        I imagine if there were a way to measure this sort of indirect violence and quantify its impact on human happiness/flourishing/eudaimonia/whatever, we’d likely find ourselves not that much better off after all (and possibly worse).

        1. But slavery!

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