Monthly Archives: March 2010

Stupak Deal with Obama, The End of the Pro Life Democrat?

    US Catholic Bishops: Executive Order Deal A Non-Starter:

    We’ve consulted with legal experts on the specific idea of resolving the abortion funding problems in the Senate bill through executive order. We know Members have been looking into this in good faith, in the hope of limiting the damage done by abortion provisions in the bill. We believe, however, that it would not be fair to withhold what our conclusion was, as it may help members in assessing the options before them:

    “One proposal to address the serious problem in the Senate health care bill on abortion funding, specifically the direct appropriating of new funds that bypass the Hyde amendment, is to have the President issue an executive order against using these funds for abortion. Unfortunately, this proposal does not begin to address the problem, which arises from decades of federal appellate rulings that apply the principles of Roe v. Wade to federal health legislation. According to these rulings, such health legislation creates a statutory requirement for abortion funding, unless Congress clearly forbids such funding. That is why the Hyde amendment was needed in 1976, to stop Medicaid from funding 300,000 abortions a year. The statutory mandate construed by the courts would override any executive order or regulation. This is the unanimous view of our legal advisors and of the experts we have consulted on abortion jurisprudence. Only a change in the law enacted by Congress, not an executive order, can begin to address this very serious problem in the legislation.”

    Richard Doerflinger
    U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

  • In deal with Stupak, White House announces executive order on abortion (Washington Post):

    Resolving an impasse with anti-abortion Democrats over the health-care reform legislation, President Obama announced Sunday that he will be issuing an executive order after the bill is passed “that will reaffirm its consistency with longstanding restrictions on the use of federal funds for abortion,” according to a statement from the White House.

    “I’m pleased to announce we have an agreement,” Rep. Bart Stupak (D-Mich.) said at a news conference announcing the deal.

  • “I think we’re witnessing Bart Stupak write the obit for the concept of the “pro-life Democrat” – Kathryn Jean Lopez (National Review).

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Lets, Not, Make a Deal

No one seems to know where Stupak’s head it is at from moment to moment. A facebook friend of mine just sent me a twitter from CNN that reads:

Urgent — Rep. Stupak to CNN producer Lesa Jansen: “I’m still a no…There is no deal yet. Its a work in progress.”

Any “deal” that is acceptable to the radical pro-abortion bloc of Democrats that have threatened to vote “no” on the bill if substantial pro-life guarantees are included is not good enough.

If Stupak agrees to this absurd idea of an executive order, he will set back the cause of pro-life Democrats and disappoint the millions of pro-life Americans who, many for the first time ever, really believed that a pro-life Democrat could accomplish something in Washington.

Update: It’s 1:10 here in CA, and I just heard it from Stupak’s mouth on CSPAN – he’s made the deal. Obamacare will pass. May God have mercy on our souls!

Devil May Cry

No, I don’t mean Obama if his healthcare bill fails. I mean the fourth installment of the Capcom video game, with this beautiful introductory song.

I expect no less in a game with four characters named Kyrie, Credo, Gloria, and Agnus…

Some Disturbing Thoughts on the Eve of Obamacare

Catholics have been preoccupied with the possibility that abortions will be paid for by the government, with their tax dollars, if the Democrats gain the votes required to pass their health care bill on Sunday. While I certainly share this concern, I must say that it appears to be too little, too late. In the first place, federal funds already make up 1/3 of Planned Parenthood’s budget – in 2008, they received 350 million dollars from the federal government. In the second place, given that 46% of private health insurance companies cover abortion, that means many of us have probably been paying for abortions with our own money as we pay our monthly premiums. Of course, if you use Windows, you’ve made Bill Gates a richer man, and Gates gives tens of millions of dollars to Planned Parenthood, because he and some of his fellow billionaires are obsessed with population control. Nothing to worry about there.

You might also live in one of the 32 states that fund abortion through Medicaid in the case of rape, incest, or the “health” of the mother, or the 17 states – 13 of which are forced by court orders – to cover all “medically necessary” abortions. If you pay state taxes, you’re already funding abortion with your tax dollars, and you have been for decades. Granted, you haven’t been funding abortion on demand, at least not on paper. In practice, who knows.

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Civilization V Coming Fall 2010

Sid Meier’s Civilization V is finally going to be released this Fall of 2010.  This famous turn-based conquer the world strategy PC game has gotten me hooked ever since I first encountered it in college.  In fact, it is the only game I play.

Civilization V is the sequel to Civilization IV, but like its predecessors, it will probably stand alone on its own.

What’s new in this edition?

Five things that I can share with you are:

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A Solemnity on a Lenten Friday

Today, March 19, 2010, is the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary; it is also a Friday during the season of Lent. According to Canon Law 1251, the obligation to abstain from meat is lifted, therefore it is permissible to eat meat today or voluntarily observe Lenten abstinence on Fridays.

Have a blessed Feast of Saint Joseph!

Should Catholic Hospitals Remain Tax Exempt?

On the heels of the Catholic Health Association’s endorsement of Obamacare comes another precedent-setting decision affecting Catholic hospitals and other institutions.

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a Catholic hospital in downstate Urbana is not entitled to exemption from local property taxes because, among other things, it failed to devote enough of its resources to charity care of patients:

Provena Covenant Medical Center, one of six hospitals in the Provena Health system, had fought for six years to regain the tax exemption stripped from it in 2003 by a local tax board. Since then the hospital has been paying more than $1 million per year in local property taxes. The case was being watched by Catholic hospitals around the nation because of its precedent setting potential, and the Catholic Health Association intervened in the case.

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Exploring Americanism and the Catholic Counter-Culture

My recent essay on the Papacy’s historical attitude towards the Catholic Church in the United States prompted more than a few queries and arguments, most them of friendly I am happy to say, with some traditional Catholic friends and acquaintances of mine. They were determined to get me to understand, however, that whatever kind things the Papacy may have had to say about America were really overshadowed by its war against the heresy of Americanism.

A cursory glance at encyclopedic overviews of the controversy, including that of New Advent, which was written not long after the controversy actually occurred, did not convince me that it had any bearing on the arguments I had set forth in my own essay. Upon further examination, I realized that my initial impression was absolutely correct, and that my traditionalist friends have misunderstood the Americanism controversy.

Bear in mind that these traditionalists, one and all, believe that the critique of Americanism was tantamount to a rejection of the American political principle of religious liberty, which I demonstrated was originally imported to North America by Catholic refugees from Britain in 1649, and established as US law upon the ratification of the Bill of Rights over a century later.

There are also leftish Catholics who, along with traditionalists and when it suits them, will invoke and condemn “Americanism” as a set of values or ideas that is somehow inherent, or at least specially pronounced, in American culture: individualism, resistance to Church authority and ecclesiology, acquisitiveness, etc.

Before delving into Americanism, I wish to state once again that I do consider myself a liturgical traditionalist. I attend Latin Mass and I am disgusted and appalled by the “cultural revolution” initiated by subversive elements in the Church in the late 60s and early 70s. But I follow in the steps of Dietrich von Hildebrand, whom Pius XII dubbed a “20th century Doctor of the Church”, and not the schismatic Marcel Lefebvre, in my critical approach to these matters.

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Dads Need To Make a Comeback

As my daughters get closer and closer to the age of temptation and exploitation- I am ready now to stand up to the dominant culture of casual sex- I don’t know when it was that Dads abandoned their daughters to the so-called sexual revolution- but I’m the Dad now and the girls-as-sex-objects mainstream culture is the Enemy- I’m not abandoning my girls -not now, not ever.

I will be posting more such helpful videos which I am using in my high school religion classes- we must get the word out through the teen ranks. Our young people are being tossed to the wolves into a mass media culture that celebrates porn/womanizers/pimps as comic figures/cougars and other soul-numbing influences. In my own lifetime, I’ve seen the damage done from the Playboy to Penthouse to Hustler to Anything Goes Internet Porn downward spiral.  I am looking to start a movement of Dads to begin protesting outside the ubiquitous strip clubs- to claim some public space where real men educate the public about the real dignity of women. If we don’t want our daughters to grow up to be  perceived as mere sex objects, then we need to evangelize the Culture.

Overpopulation Myth

And you, be fruitful and multiply, bring forth abundantly on the earth and multiply in it.

– Book of Genesis 9:7

Lo, sons are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward.  Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons of one’s youth.  Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

– Book of Psalms 127 [126]:3-5

Biretta tip Rusty Tisdale via Google Buzz.

Of Christians, Catholics and Tea Parties (Part II)

In my last post, I wrote about tensions, existing or potential, between the libertarian and social conservative elements in the tea party movement. Whereas before I was speaking of Christians in a broad and general sense, I will now turn to what I think the Catholic response to the tea party ought to be.

As I looked into this topic, I was dismayed by the utter predictability of responses from across the Catholic spectrum. The rad-trad response was irrational as always; the leftist response as arrogant and contemptuous as ever; and the mainstream response was unimaginative. Granted this is a very small sampling, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was accurately representative of these currents.

28% of the tea party movement, according to the one poll we have so far, is Catholic. This means Catholics are slightly over-represented in the movement. As I also reported last time, 68% of tea partiers attend religious services regularly; for Catholics, that ought to mean they go to Mass every Sunday. Now one thing I think I can say that isn’t very controversial is that when it comes to fidelity to the Church’s teaching on non-negotiable issues, such as abortion, marriage, and parental education rights, Catholics that regularly attend Mass are doing a heck of a lot better than Catholics who don’t. So these Catholics that are faithful to Church teaching on important issues are also supporting the tea party; that to me is an indicator that there is little in the tea party that fundamentally contradicts Church teaching.

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Our German Shepherd Under Attack

The mainstream media and even some conservative sites such as Lucianne are spreading defamatory statements that are misleading and false about Pope Benedict XVI.

What started this brouhaha?

Richard Owen of the newspaper site called the Times of London.

The headline reads “Pope knew priest was paedophile but allowed him to continue with ministry“.

The article then states otherwise, but if Richard Owen didn’t write the headline to his story, he should request it to be changed immediately.  It is apparent that someone at the Times hates the Church and is pushing their anti-Catholic agenda with this misleading headline.

It doesn’t help that a self-identified expert on Catholicism, blogger Ruth Gledhill, adds insult to injury with an off-base column blasting of the hierarchy and structure of Holy Mother Church:

The Pope is pretty unassailable. He is not elected, he is a monarch, and the centralisation that has taken place under the last two Popes has cemented that power. Pope Benedict XVI has also indicated in his three encyclicals the depths of his own integrity and intellectual rigour.

How much knowledge on the Catholic Church does one need to be called an “expert” on it?  How to spell ‘Catholic’?

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Of Christians, Catholics, and Tea Parties (Part I)

In my previous post, I argued at length against both traditionalist Catholic and left-Catholic critiques of American history, and Catholicism’s place within it. Now I believe it is time to shift from the historical to the contemporary. A recent article in Politico by Ben Smith, “Tea parties stir evangelicals’ fears” (which might have been better titled, “Ben Smith seeks to stir evangelicals’ fears”), makes what I consider to be a rather weak attempt to stir the pot and inflame tensions between libertarians and evangelical Christians. You know he’s reaching when he’s hunting down “Christian conservatives” whose primary concern with the tea party is that it is unduly harsh on the noble personal character of President Obama, who, according to one of these evangelical leaders, “provides a tremendously positive role model for tens of millions of African-American men.”

My eyes were rolling so hard I could practically hear them squishing around in their sockets.

The more substantive claim worth addressing is that there is a secular libertarian streak in the tea party movement that is partially or wholly incompatible with the conservative Christian social agenda, which one of the evangelical critics claims has “a politics that’s irreligious”. When Smith was schooled by an article covering a poll that broke down, and dispelled some of the more ridiculous myths about the tea party movement, he continued to maintain that the tensions he pointed out could become problems in the future. So they may.

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From Sweat-shop Workers to Business Owners

The Oregonian features an article on how Chinese workers who spent years working in factories for American brands like Nike and Columbia Sportswear have become a major source of business startups and wealth in China’s rural interior.

WUHU, China — Years after activists accused Nike and other Western brands of running Third World sweatshops, the issue has taken a surprising turn.

The path of discovery winds from coastal factory floors far into China’s interior, past women knee-deep in streams pounding laundry. It continues down a dusty village lane to a startling sight: arrays of gleaming three-story houses with balconies, balustrades and even Greek columns rising from rice paddies.

It turns out that factory workers — not the activists labeled “preachy” by one expert, and not the Nike executives so wounded by criticism — get the last laugh. Villagers who “went out,” as Chinese say, for what critics described as dead-end manufacturing jobs are sending money back and returning with savings, building houses and starting businesses.

Workers who stitched shoes for Nike Inc. and apparel for Columbia Sportswear Co., both based near Beaverton, are fueling a wave of prosperity in rural China. The boom has a solid feel, with villagers paying cash for houses.

“No one would take out a mortgage to build a house,” said Wang Jianguo, 37, who returned after a factory injury in a distant province to the area near Wuhu, west of Shanghai. “You wouldn’t feel secure living in a house you didn’t own.”
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Bart Stupak Challenged From The Left

The latest buzz in the political world is that a pro-choice Democratic woman (to the delight of EMILY’s List most certainly) will challenge pro-life Catholic Democrat Rep. Bart Stupak in the Democratic primary this August. This is most certainly not good news. Typically, a pro-life Democrat can oust a Republican in a general election with less trouble than their pro-choice counterparts. Pro-life Democrats, unfortunately, are particularly vulnerable in Democratic primaries and one can anticipate massive funding from Planned Parenthood, EMILY’s List, NARAL, the national Democratic party, and other “pro-choice” pseudofeminist liberals who will certainly blame Stupak for the fate of health care, even if it passes in a “watered down” fashion. Bart Stupak will obviously need pro-life support and it is unconscionable for the pro-life movement to not support his re-election bid for his continued principled stand against health care reform with abortion funding. If you can make a contribution to his campaign, I strongly recommend it.

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