Does Giving Women a Year’s Supply of The Pill Reduce Abortions?

Monday, February 28, AD 2011

A reader asked me to take a look at this study (abstract here) and see if it reaches a valid set of conclusions. The study was conducted in California among ~80,000 women who receive birth control pills paid for by the state as part of a program for low income women. Previously, women in the program have received a 1 or 3 months supply of birth control at a time, and then have to go in to the clinic in order to receive a refill. In the study, a portion of these women were given a full year’s supply instead of one or three months, and state medical records were then used to see if this resulted in a change in the rate of unplanned pregnancy and abortion among the women who received a full year supply of birth control.

Researchers observed a 30 percent reduction in the odds of pregnancy and a 46 percent decrease in the odds of an abortion in women given a one-year supply of birth control pills at a clinic versus women who received the standard prescriptions for one – or three-month supplies.

The researchers speculate that a larger supply of oral contraceptive pills may allow more consistent use, since women need to make fewer visits to a clinic or pharmacy for their next supply.

“Women need to have contraceptives on hand so that their use is as automatic as using safety devices in cars, ” said Diana Greene Foster, PhD, lead author and associate professor in the UCSF Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences. “Providing one cycle of oral contraceptives at a time is similar to asking people to visit a clinic or pharmacy to renew their seatbelts each month.”

Oral contraceptive pills are the most commonly used method of reversible contraception in the United States, the team states. While highly effective when used correctly (three pregnancies per 1,000 women in the first year of use), approximately half of women regularly miss one or more pills per cycle, a practice associated with a much higher pregnancy rate (80 pregnancies per 1,000 women in the first year of use), according to the team. [source]

The details of that decrease are as follows:

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13 Responses to Does Giving Women a Year’s Supply of The Pill Reduce Abortions?

  • Hold on here.

    The study compared women who get a year of pills at once to women who get a few months of pills at a time.

    But you’re trying to answer the question of whether it’s better to give women a year of pills at once, or no pills at all.

    The data about the first question does not really shed light on the second question.

  • Abortion and artificial contraception are both intrinsic evils, so I don’t think this study changes anything.

  • Its hard to know if the study proves anything. I can only access the abstract and have minimal interest in reading the study (if there is desire, I can access via our library). Thus unable to comment on the methods of the study, data collection etc.

    Of interest is the note at the end of the abstract which notes that the Level of Evidence of the study is III.

    To put this in perspective, Level I is a randomized, controlled trial. II non-randomized , cohort studies etc. III is based on clinical experience, expert opinion or descriptive studies. I is the gold standard for clinical work, II okay and III pretty weak. Anyone basing practice changes on a level III evidence is going to be laughed at.

    I think that begins to put the study in perspective.

  • Bearing,

    Hold on here.

    The study compared women who get a year of pills at once to women who get a few months of pills at a time.

    But you’re trying to answer the question of whether it’s better to give women a year of pills at once, or no pills at all.

    Ummmm. Not sure if I got massively unclear while trying to type this up quickly or what, but no.

    I was basically asked, “Can you debunk this, or else what should we pro-lifers make of this,” to which the one sentence version of my reply would be, “It looks to me like it’s probably accurate as far as it goes, so from the point of view of agencies already giving out birth control perhaps they should give out more at a time, but I think the pro-life contribution here would be to work to ban abortion and to make people aware of the connection between sex and babies — not to become cheerleaders for one year prescriptions.”

    Phillip,

    To put this in perspective, Level I is a randomized, controlled trial. II non-randomized , cohort studies etc. III is based on clinical experience, expert opinion or descriptive studies. I is the gold standard for clinical work, II okay and III pretty weak. Anyone basing practice changes on a level III evidence is going to be laughed at.

    Thanks, that helps a lot.

  • Kyle Kanos is absolutely correct.

    Truly, only the dead have seen the end of abortion in this country.

  • Ah, but it only reduces the abortions we “know” about. The pill is strongly suspected of being an abortafacient–preventing an embryo (not fertilised egg) of implanting in the uterus. While a one year supply of the Pill may reduce surgical abortions, we don’t know if it reduces the number of deaths of embryos whose existence is hidden to us because modern day pregnancy tests are not yet sensitive enough to detect them. Only God knows. (And do we want to irritate more than He probably already is?)

    We also need to remember that “pro-life” is not simply “anti-abortion,” and no, I am not talking about the seamless garment issue so many Pro-lifers do not appreciate. It is in having children. As I recall, Europe has fewer abortions than the US, but it also has a much lower birth rate. Some countries are already on the down hill slide. Euthanasia of the elderly and very sick is right at the doorstep. In some countries, it is a reality. There are not enough young people to go around.

    As Kyle Kano noted, contraception is intrinsically evil. Ultimately, not sure this study matters whether valid or not.

  • KJLarsen,

    Agree. But if pro-aborts start pointing to this study, then we are able to point out the design flaws and undermine their argument. We must be able to engage the world on its terms including all valid knowledge.

  • Kyle Kanos,

    Certainly, I agree that using birth control is a major sin — I would never advise someone to do so. Indeed, I would tell everyone not to do so. However, if a doctor is prescribing birth control, and a patient is taking it, it sounds to me like (if the results of this study actually proved out — it sounds like all that exists right now is an observed correlation) it might, overall, be better if the doctor prescribed a large run of The Pill rather than a small one.

    I would certainly consider it to be sinful to be using birth control, but if someone is going to commit that sin I would be at least somewhat inclined to think that it is better to use it right than not.

    I’m a bit divided on this because clearly, although the contraceptive failures resulting from people taking the pill inconsistently when their prescriptions gap out result in a number of abortions, they result in significantly more lives that are in fact embraced and spared. According to the study, 300 abortions might have been avoided if the pill had been used consistently by the members of the study — but then, so would have 1300 live births.

    So I’m not really sure what our reaction, as Catholics should be to that other than that we continue to:

    a) oppose sex outside of marriage and the use of contraception and
    b) oppose abortion

    KJLarsen,

    My understanding from what I’ve read on the topic is that it’s fairly rare for the standard methods of oral contraception (as opposed to the strictly abortafacient “Plan B” kind of stuff) to allow an egg to be fertilized but then prevent it from implanting. It does happen, and it’s one of the many reasons to morally object to The Pill, but from what I’ve read it’s the sort of thing that would happen perhaps once every few years (if even that often) assuming that a woman is using the pill consistently and having sex quite regularly. So it seems to me that it’s virtually impossible that in this particular situation there are enough unrecorded abortions being performed by the pill to make up for the number that are resulting form inconsistent use of the pill.

    Obviously, that does not mean that we as Catholics should advocate that people use the pill — that’s a mortal sin and I would never recommend it. I just wanted to try to address the study as honestly as possible, and I think that means admitting that it is probably the case, if the study is in fact statistically valid, that dispensing a year of birth control at a time does result in fewer abortions (though also many more live births!) than dispensing 1-3 months at a time.

    Certainly, that doesn’t make the pill good. Lots of heinous things would reduce the number of abortions that a given group of women had. (For instance, if California had forcibly sterilized all 80,000 women, they would have had exactly zero abortions, but that certainly wouldn’t have made the action of sterilizing them right or desirable.)

  • I can’t support the use of birth control pills, but knowing they are dispensed and used – often times month over month for years or decades, I have a hard time accepting the practice of requiring someone to return the doctor monthly or quarterly to get a refill. It’s not like a doctor ever says, “well hey, you’ve been on these for six months I better wean you off now.” He simply scribbles out a new script, collects his $50, and sends on her on the way to the pharmacy. How much more expensive is health care than it should be because doctors and the FDA perpetuate this racket?

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  • Abortions from the Pill? Funny, I heard the opposite. I think it was Chris Kahlenborn (sp?) MD that wrote that he calculated 10 million per year. I would have to do some digging to find that one though.

    I do agree that refuting the study is important. Alas, I only know of very few pro-lifers who think contraception is evil.

  • What this study doesn’t do is suggest how much of an impact giving out larger quantities of contraceptives will have on the overall abortion rate. According to Guttmacher, only a little over 5% of women procuring abortions report that they lack access to contraceptives for financial or other reasons. So achieving a significant reduction in abortions while continuing to promote contraceptives will require not just providing them, but changing people’s behavior (which can include using contraceptives at all, using them more consistently or correctly, using multiple instead of single methods, avoiding sex when they’re fertile if not using a contraceptive, etc.) Aside from the fact that every time I’ve ever suggested that people change their behavior regarding sex I’ve been summarily execrated, I’m not aware of any study that has shown that people who already have access to contraceptives can be made to change their behavior enough to have a meaningful effect on the overall abortion rate. And you also can’t ignore the fact that over 7% of those procuring abortions report using contraceptives perfectly, for whom decreasing the abortion rate lies along a different path altogether.

  • If you want to email me, I can send you a copy of the full article for a more thorough reading.

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A Pro-Life Victory in Virginia

Monday, February 28, AD 2011

While my state Senate was busy voting to approve of same-sex marriage, the folks across the river in Virginia resolved a budget dispute, and in the process passed a rather significant measure:

But the session ended with a dramatic fight over the emotional issue of abortion rights, as Republicans maneuvered the Senate into an unwanted late vote on a bill that requires abortion clinics to be regulated as hospitals.

Democrats were unable to stop two of their conservative members from voting with all 18 Republicans to approve the bill, handing antiabortion activists a victory they had sought for two decades. The move, abortion providers said, could force some clinics to close if the new regulations prove too costly.

“Incredibly significant,” House Speaker William J. Howell (R-Stafford) said of the abortion measure, which he supported.

“A terrible tragedy,” countered Sen. R. Edward Houck (D-Spotsylvania), who voted against it.

I’m going to love to see the pro-aborts fight this one.  Planned Parenthood loves to tout all of the marvelous things it does aside from killing unborn children, as this ad linked to at Creative Minority Report indicates.  Gee, it almost sounds like they’re providing an array of services also provided at . . . hospitals.

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The Monk-Martyrs of Tibhirine

Sunday, February 27, AD 2011

On the night of 26-27 March 1996, seven Trappist monks from the monastery of Tibhirine in Algeria — Dom Christian de Chergé, Brother Luc Dochier, Father Christophe Lebreton, Brother Michel Fleury, Father Bruno Lemarchand, Father Célestin Ringeard, and Brother Paul Favre-Miville — were kidnapped. They were held for two months, and were found dead on 21 May 1996.

The actual cause of their death remains in dispute. Their captors, the Armed Islamic Group, initially lay claim to the murders — but a French military attaché, retired General Francois Buchwalter, later reported that the deaths were accidental in a botched rescue attempt by the Algerian army. [Source: Wikipedia]

The fate of these monks was the subject of a book by John Kiser, The Monks of Tibhirine: Faith, Love, and Terror in Algeria (2003). A new film has been made — “Of Gods and Men” — recipient of many awards and glowing reviews. America‘s Fr. James Martin SJ has lauded it “the greatest film I’ve ever seen on faith.”

In 1996, First Things published an English translation of a letter by the superior of the monastery, Father Christian de Chergé, “to be opened in the event of my death”. In light of the movie it seems appropos to re-post it here, as food for thought:

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One Response to The Monk-Martyrs of Tibhirine

The End of the Cardinal Mahony Era

Sunday, February 27, AD 2011

There isn’t much positive to say about a man that wrecked havoc in the largest U.S. diocese.

Except that today was his last day as Archbishop of the Los Angeles Archdiocese!

He’ll be remembered for closing down seminaries and convents and picking on little old nuns like Mother Angelica, building the Taj Mahony, but mostly for losing millions of nominal Catholics to indifferentism and agnosticism.

His many low points are too numerous to recount but his deconstruction of the Mass until it looked like nothing more than a campfire sing-a-long is quite shameful.

His promotion of syncretism and modernism has gained him the infamy he so richly earned among his peers.

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24 Responses to The End of the Cardinal Mahony Era

  • But here’s the real trouble – how was be appointed, in the first place; and how did he stay in so long? The gates of Hell will not prevail against God’s Church, but one must presume that there is something seriously wrong in there at the moment…

  • The gates of hell won’t prevail, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be casualties inflicted along the way.

  • Jerry, whoops I mean Roger Mahony, should be forced to retire to an isolated monastery on a very dangerous mountain that has no communication with the outside except on rare occassions. His chances of wrecking more havok on the Church in his retirement will be cut to near zero!

  • Good summary, Tito. I would just add that his egregious behavior with respect to priestly child abuse also has to be considered. Both during his time in Los Angeles and during his tenure as the Bishop of Stockton.

  • Send him to Craggy Island. He could be Father Ted Crilley’s ordinary!

  • Dale,

    Excellent point.

    I was doing my best to avoid listing all of his scandals out of prudence.

    I pray and hope Archbishop Gomes is better than Cardinal Mahony.

  • Bravo, Balto.

    Dougal: (trying to pray) Hail Mary who art in heaven…….
    Ted: Hallowed.
    Dougal: Oh yeah. Hallowed Be….
    Ted: Thy Name…
    Dougal: Papa Don’t Preach……..
    Ted: Dougal, you know you can praise the lord with sleep.
    Dougal: Really Ted? You can praise him in lots of ways, like that time you said that I could praise him just by leaving the room.
    Ted: Yes, that was a good one !

  • Tito,

    Don’t you mean the end of the Comrade Mahony era? “Cardinal” implies clericalism, you know, and hierarchy. Very unegalitarian. Very outdated.

  • Thank you, Tito for that wonderful video of that beautiful ceremony in Los Angeles. I understand that you consider it shows disdain for the liturgy. I respect your point of view but disagree. You say, vaya con dios, amigos but I don’t think you have ever seen a mass in Hong Kong or in the Olivera mission in LA or at the Cathedral in Fresno—in all of these, mariachi bands play and sing during high mass. Jesus is universal not white, western European. If African culture contains dances and drums that show its honor and respect, then it is not a campfire sing a long when they drum and dance in church.
    When I was very young I was present when Mahony,stood by the poor and farm workers as they proceeded to change the law in California winning basic health and labor interests for those that pick our food and work the crops. Those were the days when the Church did stand with the poor and the oppressed playing a great role in civil rights, labor, and unjust wars. I have no expectation that you will change your opinion that Mahoney stood for the principles of Vatican II and those of Jesus to extend to your neighbors what you would have extended to yourself.
    I can understand how upsetting it is for those who are old or have only been exposed to old tradition and have not seen the church as it exists cosmically or at least, internationally, to see the birthing of a new spirit evolving in the church. I wish you the best.
    And by the way, watch the video and watch Arch Bishop Gomes and how he claps compared to the white cleric to his right–Gomes has rhythm. People who have rhythm usually have soul and if you have soul, you tend to see all people, each and every one as your brothers and sisters without discrimination. I’m betting on him.

  • Antonio,

    That was one of the most racist rants I’ve ever heard. And I’ve heard many from both “white” and people like yourself.

    You see the world through ethnicity and color rather than through the dignity of the human soul.

    What nearly everyone, even the Pope’s and the choirs of Heaven, have said is to bring holiness and reverence to the Mass.

    Not nationalist sentiment like mariachi bands.

    You’re being placed on moderation until you cool your bigotry.

    In Jesus, Mary, & Joseph,

    Tito
    A Proud first generation young American of rich Mexican heritage.

  • Bravo, Antonio!!!

  • Bravo Tito, for putting that reprobate on moderation where he belongs.

  • A “new spirit evolving in the Church”? That is heresy, that is blasphemy.

    “Therefore, it is obviously absurd and injurious to propose a certain “restoration and regeneration” for her as though necessary for her safety and growth, as if she could be considered subject to defect or obscuration or other misfortune. Indeed these authors of novelties consider that a “foundation may be laid of a new human institution,” and what Cyprian detested may come to pass, that what was a divine thing “may become a human church.” — Gregory XVI, Mirari Vos, 10

  • Tito, bravo for putting AC on moderation! He’s the guy who’s upset about the negative stance that most of us have shown on incest on Lisa Graas’s latest post. Well, it figures he would be ticked at any criticism of Mahony. Liberals tend to flock together!

  • Stephen,

    Being placed on moderation only means his comments need approval.

    He got placed there not for his comments on Lisa Graas’ post, but for his bigoted comments on this thread.

  • I can understand how upsetting it is for those who are old or have only been exposed to old tradition and have not seen the church as it exists cosmically or at least, internationally, to see the birthing of a new spirit evolving in the church.

    Not to be disrespectful, but I see Sr Chittister’s influence in that statement. “Cosmically”? “Birthing of a new spirit”? Spare me. Joe is correct – such beliefs are contrary to Church teaching, and blasphemous.

  • Wow! antonio, I did not know that anyone thought Jesus WAS ‘white western European”. I was under the impression that Jesus is, was and ever shall be the SAME. I also thought that Jesus was Incarnated as a Semitic Hebrew in first century Palestine, so His body when He walked the Earth was clearly NOT Mexican, hence I don’t understand the mariachi band (I doubt that He ate knishes or bagels and lox or spoke Yiddish either). Furthermore, I am confident that there were no mariachi bands in Mexico before the white western Spaniards from Europe came to liberate the poor Indian people from the slaughter and oppression of their pagan, Hummingbird Wizard witchdoctor overlords. If I am not mistaken those Spaniards were Catholic.

    When you view the world only through your ethnicity, race or nation while crying for ‘universality’ you reveal yourself a hypocrite. Please be honest. You are not calling for general universality; you are calling for a universal disdain for all things European, which means Western, which means Christendom, which means you stand against the universality of the Church. Like it or not, St. Peter went to Rome to establish his see and the universal Church, established in Palestine is administered from Rome (more specifically from the Vatican), hence why ALL Catholics, no matter the race, ethnicity, nation or Rite are in communion with the Bishop of Rome, the Servant of the servants of God.

    Anyway, as far as I am concerned Jesus isn’t white, Jewish or Mexican – He is wheat. I know, I saw Him earlier and He was definitely wheat Bread. He told me so Himself! Should I yell at Him for not being whole-grain, multi-grain, barely, lembas or any other type of bread?

    This site is the American Catholic, but make no mistake, it is Catholic first.

    Before you attack me for my provincial, white, right-wing, Americanist views, I am one of those ‘brown’ people, in fact, I share genetic code with those people of first century Palestine. Yet, that doesn’t make me relate more or less to Jesus or the Roman Pontiff who was born in Germany to German parents, or to my American of Italian descent bishop, or my Irish pastor, or Tito or any of the other bloggers here at TAC. Weird, huh?

  • Tito, he may have been placed on moderation for what he said on your thread, but hey, it doesn’t matter to me where duck gets shot!

  • Roger Mahony, staunch friend of abuser clerics:

    http://www.bishop-accountability.org/ca-la/mahony-2002-05-d.htm

    Indeed, a true hero of the downtrodden.

  • “What nearly everyone, even the Pope’s and the choirs of Heaven, have said is to bring holiness and reverence to the Mass.
    Not nationalist sentiment like mariachi bands.”

    I am absolutely NO fan of Cardinal Mahony and I agree it is long past time for him to go. But before we all pile on Antonio C., I have to say that there MAY be at least a grain of truth to what he said.

    Yes, the Mass is supposed to “the same” everywhere (this was one of the beauties of the Latin Mass) and obvious liturgical abuses or departures from the rubrics should not be tolerated.

    However, does that mean there is absolutely no room for cultural variation or expression anywhere in the liturgy? There are, after all, many other rites besides the Latin Rite that are recognized by the Church and in full union with Rome — Byzantine, Syriac, Maronite, Alexandrian, Armenian, Chaldean, etc. Does their existence indicate “disdain for all things European, which means Western”? Also, did not Pope John Paul II himself say that the Western and Eastern traditions were like “two lungs” and the Church would never be fully healthy until both were reunited?

    I agree that one should not view EVERYTHING through the narrow prism of one’s nationality or ethnicity, but neither should one pretend that it has NO effect on one’s view of the world, or on how one expresses piety or love for God. The time and place where you are born and where you live is part of who you are; none of us can be, or should be, totally detached “citizens of the world”. Yes, we are Catholic first, but that doesn’t mean there should be nothing in second place.

    The problem with Cardinal Mahony’s approach to liturgy was that as a Latin Rite bishop he went far beyond the bounds of what the Latin Rite permits with liturgical dances and whatnot. Perhaps there were people who did actually enjoy those liturgies, or who found them moving — but how they felt about them is not the point. The point is that they were conducted in flagrant disobedience of liturgical norms for the Latin Rite. The problems went way beyond merely having mariachi bands provide the music.

  • “Wow! antonio, I did not know that anyone thought Jesus WAS ‘white western European”.

    What!!! Jesus isn’t Irish? Now they tell me!

  • Elaine,

    I am proud of my Levantine ancestry. In fact, I was born in the Levant (Lebanon to Phoenician and Palestinian parents). That is my ethnic and national origin. I am still ethnically Levantine; however, I am no longer Lebanese. I am a proud Virginian-American. I am not facebooking my personal information, especially since I use an anonymous moniker here. I simply state this to indicate that the uniqueness of our catholic Church and the inherent universalism of America (despite her WASP origins) are similar. When one chooses to move to another nation, not as a temporary or visiting guest, but as a new home, they usually have to conform to ancient tribal/cultural practices and are always in someway a stranger. Here, it is different. We are not melted into being American, we are not assimilated, we are integrated into a new national identity. How so? This country is a cultural amalgam of diverse cultures (mostly European, but also African, Native American Indian, etc.). It is easy to become American, which is why I find it so baffling that many born here in the last 40 years and those who have come here in the same period seem to resist it so fervently.

    What unifies the American nation? Our national creed, as Chesterton (I think) said, we are the only one’s who have one. Our creed is Christian in character. The fact that this is a Christian nation is what allows us to so easily become one. Since Christendom fell apart, this is the only nation in the world with such an identity (one could argue the same for Malta; however that is an unfair and useless comparison).

    That being the case, we have to recognize that as Catholics who are also Americans we have to guard ourselves from too much integration. The creed of the nation is Christian in character, but it is not necessarily Catholic. When we allow our public worship, our liturgy, to seem no different than Protestants and Evangelicals, we dilute the truth. Our Liturgy is the only one that is centered on the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. Our ceremonial worship MUST reflect that. Liturgy is not about what we want, what we like, what we need – it is about the once and for all Holy Sacrifice of Our Savior, Jesus Christ. No one else can claim that and we MUST worship and appear to worship with Him and Him alone in mind and heart. No other ‘Christian’ church offers the prayer of the Son to the Father as we do. This must be celebrated – by one of His priests and ASSISTED by the laity.

    The video we saw above, in no way resembles that. We may as well have Joel Osteen preach. Don’t get me wrong, I like Osteen – but, he cannot offer the Sacrifice no matter how sincere, how worshipful, how inspiring he may be and no matter how great the music is. It can never ever be the Holy Mass. I know you know this, but many do not and we who know must be very clear and firm as to what Mass is and how it is to be celebrated.

  • Sorry to break the news to you Donald. Oh, and by the way Santa Clause was a bishop, not an elf. Please don’t cry. 😉

  • The good news (or bad news, depending on the perspective) starts:

    US judge allows clergy abuse lawsuit to proceed against Los Angeles, Mexican cardinals
    By: Gillian Flaccus, The Associated Press
    Posted: 02/28/2011

    LOS ANGELES, Calif. – A Mexico City man can proceed with a clergy abuse lawsuit filed in U.S. court against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, even though the alleged abuse occurred in Mexico and the priest and plaintiff are Mexican citizens, a federal judge has ruled.

    U.S. District Judge Josephine Staton Tucker on Friday denied a motion from church attorneys who had sought dismissal of the case by arguing U.S. courts do not have jurisdiction.

    Michael Hennigan, an attorney for the archdiocese, said the case has no merit and would ultimately be dismissed.

    The unusual lawsuit was filed under the Alien Tort Claims Act of 1789 and alleges that recently retired Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony and his counterpart in the Mexican Diocese of Tehuacan conspired to protect the priest and help him avoid authorities on both sides of the border.

    More at http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/world/breakingnews/us-judge-allows-clergy-abuse-lawsuit-to-proceed-against-los-angeles-mexican-cardinals-117091078.html

Cardinal Newman on Lying and Equivocation

Sunday, February 27, AD 2011

The Catholic blogosphere has been ablaze recently with discussions revolving around the actions of Lila Rose and Live Action and their sting operation against Worse Than Murder, Inc, with some bloggers like our own Joe Hargrave condemning these tactics since they involved lying, and other bloggers such as myself holding that there is nothing morally wrong with the tactics used in the sting.  I certainly do not wish to raise from the dead this well flogged horse, but I thought our readers might find interesting a fascinating overview of lying, equivocation and morality in Note G of Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman’s Apologia Pro Vita Sua.  It is a typical tour de force by Newman where he demonstrates his knowledge of the history, reasoning and practical application of a Church teaching on morality.  Here is the note:

ALMOST all authors, Catholic and Protestant, admit, that when a just cause is present, there is some kind or other of verbal misleading, which is not sin. Even silence is in certain cases virtually such a misleading, according to the Proverb, “Silence gives consent.” Again, silence is absolutely forbidden to a Catholic, as a mortal sin, under certain circumstances, e.g. to keep silence, when it is a duty to make a profession of faith.

Another mode of verbal misleading, and the most direct, is actually saying the thing that is not; and it is defended on the principle that such words are not a lie, when there is a “justa causa,” as killing is not murder in the case of an executioner.

Another ground of certain authors for saying that an untruth is not a lie where there is a just cause, is, that veracity is a kind of justice, and therefore, when we have no duty of justice to tell truth to another, it is no sin not to do so. Hence we may say the thing that is not, to children, to madmen, to men who ask impertinent questions, to those whom we hope to benefit by misleading.

Another ground, taken in defending certain untruths, ex justâ causâ, as if not lies, is, that veracity is for the sake of society, and that, if in no case whatever we might lawfully mislead others, we should actually be doing society great harm.

Another mode of verbal misleading is equivocation or a play upon words; and it is defended on the theory that to lie is to use words in a sense which they will not bear. But an equivocator uses them in a received sense, though there is another received sense, and therefore, according to this definition, he does not lie.

Others say that all equivocations are, after all, a kind of lying,—faint lies or awkward lies, but still lies; and some of these disputants infer, that therefore we must not equivocate, and others that equivocation is but a half-measure, and that it is better to say at once that in certain cases untruths are not lies.

Others will try to distinguish between evasions and equivocations; but though there are evasions which are clearly not equivocations, yet it is very difficult scientifically to draw the line between the one and the other.

To these must be added the unscientific way of dealing with lies,—viz. that on a great or cruel occasion a man cannot help telling a lie, and he would not be a man, did he not tell it, but still it is very wrong, and he ought not to do it, and he must trust that the sin will be forgiven him, though he goes about to commit it ever so deliberately, and is sure to commit it again under similar circumstances. It is a necessary frailty, and had better not be thought about before it is incurred, and not thought of again, after it is well over. This view cannot for a moment be defended, but, I suppose, it is very common.
I think the historical course of thought upon the matter has been this: the Greek Fathers thought that, when there was a justa causa, an untruth need not be a lie. St. Augustine took another view, though with great misgiving; and, whether he is rightly interpreted or not, is the doctor of the great and common view that all untruths are lies, and that there can be no just cause of untruth. In these later times, this doctrine has been found difficult to work, and it has been largely taught that, though all untruths are lies, yet that certain equivocations, when there is a just cause, are not untruths.

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15 Responses to Cardinal Newman on Lying and Equivocation

  • Or cite the canonized Saint who translated the Bible…St. Jerome as cited by Aquinas in the Summa T :
    “Jerome, in his commentary on Galatians 2:11, “The example of Jehu, king of Israel, who slew the priests of Baal, pretending that he desired to worship idols, should teach us that dissimulation is useful and sometimes to be employed”.
    2nd of the 2nd/ question 111/ art. one/ obj. 2

    Jehu told actual falsehoods to set up an ambush against the Baal adherents of the house of Ahab:

    2 kings 10:19-20. 
    19 Now summon for me all Baal’s prophets, all his worshipers, and all his priests. See that no one is absent, for I have a great sacrifice for Baal. Whoever is absent shall not live.” This Jehu did as a ruse, so that he might destroy the worshipers of Baal.
    20
    Jehu said further, “Proclaim a solemn assembly in honor of Baal.” They did so…”

    Jehu’s men kill them once assembled and fulfill Elijah’s prediction of the house of Ahab. Ten verses late in verse 30 God commends Jehu with not a bit of the outrage that Catholic internet posters would heap on Jehu:

    30 The LORD said to Jehu, “Because you have done well what I deem right, and have treated the house of Ahab as I desire, your sons to the fourth generation shall sit upon the throne of Israel.”

  • And You, Bill Bannon, have also done well!
    When this all began the first thing which went through my mind was the fabulous job Nathan did on David to bring him (and his outrage at the man Nathan described) around to having to admit that “….That man is YOU!”
    The French priest Louis Evely, known for his good work as a retreat master, used this for the title of a really awesome book if his (Newman Press 1966). I only wish they would bring it out in print again today, It was a real soul searching experience for the reader and brought the humanity of Christ into your living room as well as your heart.

  • Bill Sr.
    Ha…I never thought of the Nathan incident….excellent. Reminiscent of the leading to repentance of his brothers done by Jacob’s Joseph in Egypt when they came to him during famine and he pretended to be a stern Egyptian ruler who might never return Benjamin to their father, Jacob. Makes one wonder how many of these ruses are in the lesser read books of the Bible also.

  • On two occasions in Genesis Abraham denied that Sarah was his wife to avoid having local rulers kill him and marry his widow. King David had frequent recourse to deception in his career. Of course, just because someone in the Bible does something doesn’t make the act virtuous. It does mean that this is a fairly complex area.

  • I appreciate the treatment here on the topic of lying. However it occurred to me while reading St. John Henry Neuman’s essay, how hand-wringing and splitting of hairs it appears on the surface. It is almost obsessive. Now I most respectfully submit to St. John’s holy writing and thinking on the subject, but it occurs to me that there is a wonderful contrast here between the Catholic treatment and thinking and discussion of lying and the World’s. What I am thinking of is the monumental harm done to society through the acceptance of lying in the course of public civil discourse. We have in our society an occasion of at least half of the body politic engaged in lying on such a monumental scale, as to be mind-boggling. One of our two political parties is completely and wholly given over to communicating exclusively in terms of deception and prevarication and outright lying. Yet, there is barely a whisper of comment in any forum anywhere about it. Much less is there any discussion about the harm and desolation caused to our republic by such a state of affairs. Would that our Bishops and other teachers in the Holy Church be speaking out on such a grave state of affairs. Instead we have our own “tempest in a teapot” over the obsessively fine details of lying to secure the harm of a diabolical organization such as planned parenthood.
    Just my two cents.

  • Sawman
    The receiver of the ruse and/or lies in Scripture is key and is either someone:

    A. Possibly dangerous ( Don’s examples of Abraham’s protective fibs).

    B. Clearly evil (Judith’s lies to Holofernes; Jehu’s lies to the Baal devotees).

    C. Or generally good people in need of repentance ( Bill Sr.’s example of David fooled therapeutically by Nathan/ and my example of Joseph’s brothers fooled therapeutically by Joseph).

    A and B reflect on the situation of hiding Jews from the Nazi’s and doing anti narcotics undercover work. No Pope would call either a sin but to read the Catholic net debate last week, you could imagine Catholic posters turning in hidden Anne Franks as soon as a Nazi asked them….” are you hiding a Jewess?”…..” yes,
    second floor, 3rd door on your right, I cannot lie per Aquinas and Augustine.”
    C is used by most Catholic parents prior to Christmas as to Santa only bringing toys to good children.

  • bill bannon,
    Well said. I read Dr. Peter Kreeft’s opinion on this issue and although I agree with his point I could barely follow him through his reasoning, or intuitive process. You however, are making the same point in an easier way for me to understand. Thanks. My hat is off to you sir.

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  • Here is a question: would it be permissible for a Catholic, say a member of the FBI, to go under cover to get evidence against an established mafia crime family? Would that person be in sin?

  • Jacob
    Can you find any Pope who even criticized undercover work? Can you find one Catholic magisterial document against it? There’s your answer. It is a serious form of acting as done by Judith and Jehu in the Bible to save lives and souls in their respective cases…and both are then praised in scripture with not one adverse commentary on their methods. In the Jehu case, scripture seems to even be affirming the whole process used by Jehu ( see text in my first post).
    Within the Mafia, the agent could not fornicate or murder for the sake of fostering their cover….even if the victim of the murder was evil. I would think they could have remote material cooperation with some bad acts….just as an heating oil delivery truck driver has remote material cooperation when he delivers oil to an abortion facility or delivers oil to a porn studio….ie he is furthering nothing to a reasonable mind… and without him the oil would be delivered by the oil company without skipping a beat by another driver. Were the abortion mill in the artic, and only this particular trucker could handle those roads, the cooperation deepens and one needs a discerning priest…likewise if new complex questions arise in undercover work. Cooperation questions are so varying, that an FBI agent should study the area in moral theology tomes usually read by priests in seminaries…but obtainable.

  • Looks like Bannon’s cannons has blown this discussion clear out of the polluted waters many Catholics have been and are still sailing.

  • Lila Rose was playing a role before a camera to teach a moral lesson. It was drama.

  • Well, so far I’ve been accused, by five separate people, of being disingenuous, lacking in docility, rebellious, quasi-Protestant, and consequentialist for claiming that the Magisterium has yet to officially pronounce on the matter of justified falsehoods.

    It’s readily acknowledged that lying is wrong; the Catechism is clear on that.

    What’s not so clear is when falsehoods are justified. And the Magisterium has simply not spoken on the matter.

    We do have the papal bull of Innocent XI condemning strict mental reservation under oath.

    But that hardly clarifies situations like Judith, Rahab, Jehu, and the Egyptian midwives–in each instance, the deceivers were roundly praised and blessed by God. James the Apostle even holds up Rahab as a shining example of faith. Would he do that if her deception were intrinsically evil? Would the early Church Fathers include the Book of Judith in the canon of sacred Scripture if her repeated deceptions were inherently evil–as so many dogmatists today claim?

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Immigration vs. Euthanasia

Saturday, February 26, AD 2011

First up, Matt Yglesias on How to Run America Like a Business:

If you’re trying to look at America from a balance-sheet perspective the problem is very clear. It’s not “entitlements” and it’s not “Social Security” and it’s not “Medicare” and it’s not “health care costs” it’s the existence of old people. Old people, generally speaking, don’t produce anything of economic value. They sit around, retired, consuming goods and services and produce nothing but the occasional turn at babysitting. The optimal economic growth policy isn’t to slash Social Security or Medicare benefits, it’s to euthanize 70 year-olds and harvest their organs for auction. With that in place, you could cut taxes and massively ramp-up investments in physical infrastructure, early childhood education, and be on easy street.

There’s an element of satire involved here, of course. But in my view the growing entitlement crisis is one of the reasons I worry about the eventual acceptance of euthenasia throughout the United States (the other being the temptation the children of baby boomers will have to euthanize their parents as a kind of revenge for killing off their brothers and sisters via abortion).

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3 Responses to Immigration vs. Euthanasia

  • I have long suspected that one of the reasons the federal government doesn’t try too hard to crack down on illegal immigration is because illegal immigrants are helping to prop up the Social Security system — most do NOT get paid under the table in cash, they get regular paychecks with taxes withheld like the rest of us. (However, they use fake or stolen Social Security numbers to do it.)

    Also, if it were not for immigration (legal and illegal) the U.S. birth rate would probably already be well below replacement level and our population would be stagnant if not falling.

    I would also suspect that the baby bust which followed the baby boom also has played a big part in the public pension crises being faced by many states, as well as the public union controversy in Wisconsin and elsewhere. There just aren’t enough younger workers in the system to pay for the benefits the older, retired workers have accrued. The bottom line is that the Baby Boom generation, for various reasons, failed to replace themselves and now they are paying the price — literally.

  • Is that a (putrid) poor attempt at plagiarizing Jonathan Swift’s “Modest Proposal”?

    Or, is it a back-handed endorsement for Obamacare?

    Of course, his “solution” is not to invest the $$$$ in the productive private sector. No! He proposes to leave grandma out on an ice (Eskimo-style) floe and give the “saved” money to public employees unions (to fund abortion, liberal candidates’ campaigns).

  • BTW: FDR’s Ponzi Scheme is coming to its natural conclusion.

    He didn’t care. FDR and the “reformers” knew it would be about 80 years before the time bomb blew up.

El Cid and Francisco Franco

Saturday, February 26, AD 2011

 

Something for the weekend.  The theme song from the movie El Cid (1961).   The theme and the etchings at the beginning of the film I find very evocative of Spain and Spanish history.

I have always loved this film for many reasons:  the acting is of a high level (in spite of, or perhaps because, Sophia Loren and Charlton Heston cordially detested each other);   I find medieval Spain and the Reconquista inherently fascinating;  the film has scenes of compelling beauty, as if painted sequences from a medieval manuscript have been brought to life;  and, of course, it is simply a rattling good retelling of the legend of El Cid.   However, the background story of the film is just as fascinating as the film itself.

Filmed on location in Spain, the film had the enthusiastic support of dictator Francisco Franco, including the use of thousands of Spanish troops in the battle scenes.  Franco fancied himself as a modern El Cid, and the film fit right in with his belief that Spain was a great nation that had saved Christendom from the threat of expansionist Islam in the days of El Cid and Communism and Arnarchism in the time of Franco.

Even the scenes of El Cid fighting with muslims as allies in the film would have been congenial to Franco as he had used North African Morrocan Regulares during the Spanish Civil War.  (Republican propaganda blasted Franco for bringing the Moors back to Spain.)  The film portrayed El Cid as the hero who saved Spain from a foreign menace and unified Spaniards.  That is precisely how Franco viewed himself.

The reality was somewhat different for both men.

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49 Responses to El Cid and Francisco Franco

  • Franco’s rule (and Pinochet’s) demonstrate that you can have a Catholic, socially-conservative culture combined with mostly free markets. These examples totally crush those who argue that economic freedom necessarily means moral collapse.

  • Stanley Payne is an excellent academic historian of Spain whose books are eminently readable and quite historically objective. He’s a conservative, but he doesn’t let his personal politics impinge on his historical work, other than insofar as he is fearless in knocking down politically-correct interpretations of Spanish history. One of his best general books on Spanish history is entitled “Spain: A Unique History”:

    http://www.amazon.com/Spain-History-Stanley-G-Payne/dp/0299250245/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1298736587&sr=1-1

    Payne makes it abundantly clear that most modern Spanish historians are far too PC and unserious in their descriptions of Moorish Spain being “multicultural”, wherein three major religions co-existed peacefully and equally. That’s poppycock, of course. He also does an excellent job describing the Spanish Inquisition(s), both the secular and religious ones, and Spain’s role in the Crusades. Great stuff!

  • Payne is my favorite current historian Kevin in regard to the Spanish Civil War and Franco’s regime.

    Ronald Radosh has a great article linked below which tells you all you need to know about the Leftist Orthodoxy that has distorted the study of the Spanish Civil War:

    http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/fp/Articles/Read0ffd.html?GUID=BD24240F-A4CB-4D13-B136-399C1996572D

  • One of the things that makes me dislike Franco the most is his centralizing tendencies after the war: I mean his repression of the historical regions, banning of languages other than Castilian, etc.
    The irony of it is that some of the members of the Nationalist side of the war (Carlists, traditionalists, etc) had a long history of supporting decentralism, subsidiarity, criticizing the tyranny of the central power, support in the Basque country and Catalonia, etc.

  • The motto of Franco Josh was : Spain: one, great, free. By free he meant free from foreign influence. By great he meant modern Spain should live in accord with the traditions of the past. By one he meant that separatists could pound sand as far as he was concerned. The last was modified somewhat due to the fact that he did receive substantial support from Navarre, Catalonia, and almost every section of Spain, ideological divisions tending to trump regional differences for many individuals. Franco’s model for his regime was the centralized control of the French state, which tended to irk some of his erst while supporters after the war.

  • @Don–thanks for the link! That was quite an informative article. I had read some of that before, of course, but lots of detail to fill in the missing history, so-to-speak.

    @Josh, as someone who lived in the Basque Country of Spain for two years, I tend to agree with those criticisms. Don, you have a point in Franco’s modelling his one-nation solution on the French state, and indeed many among the minority-language groups were of a separatist bent (and those were strongly backed by the Communists and Republicans, of course), but there’s undoubtedly a tremendous amount of excessive oppression of minority languages that occurred under Franco’s watch, and that even well into his reign and decades after the Civil War.

    I’m by no means well-versed in the differing factions who supported Franquismo during the Civil War and during his 36-year-long rule, but I know that by no means were the expected alliances always strong. Like Josh mentions, the Carlists and other traditionalists weren’t uniform in their political support during those tumultuous years, and certainly the Franquismo oppression of the minority languages and cultures of northern Spain bear some responsibility in the development of home-grown radical groups like ETA and some of the tiny bands of Catalán terrorists and their political backers. Always a trade-off between freedom and unity, I suppose. Spanish history is endlessly fascinating!

    History is full of imperfect people, and very infrequently are things as cut-and-dry as “good guys” vs. “bad guys”, eh? Must be that old fallen nature/concupiscence problem that Scripture, the Church, and the saints have always warned us about! ; – ) (And in case I come across to anyone as wishy-washy in this comment, know that in no way am I positing moral equivalences between the Nationalists and later Franco’s regime vs. the Republicans and true terrorist groups such as ETA.)

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  • That second “El Cid” clip was awesome! But it’s also scarey! There are guys like the leader in clip number two talking that way to the Muzzies today! And they want Spain again too! “El Cid” should be required viewing for all people of European descent, so they’ll know what’s coming at them.

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  • As a Basque person, whose family suffered “the sweet times that Franco gave us” (this is supposed to be an irony), I find this article very offensive. Obviously this journalist didnt live in Franco’s times and has no idea of how it was like living under his regime. gadafi at his side was an apprentice. i found also this article poorly documented. did the journalist meet Franco’s mother? if not, how can he know that she was a good woman? That’s just am example: the rest of the article is as rigorous as that. This article is truly a shame.

  • “how can he know that she was a good woman?”

    It is called reading history and making an interpretation based upon the evidence.

    Your larger complaint is that I attempted to take an objective look at Franco rather than writing him off as simply an evil dictator. Considering the atrocities that Franco and the Nationalists committed in the conquest of the Basque regions your attitude is unsurprising. Of course, the Republicans outside of the Basque regions were guilty of atrocities that caused many Spaniards to view Franco as a hero. Your comment is a testament to how divided Spain remains over the civil war and Franco.

  • donald mcclarey id like to know your opinion if your family had been one of the affected families.

  • My reading of this period has been “The Last Crusade” by Warren Carroll. He quotes a total of 6,832 priests and religious murdered by the Republicans. He also quotes that in the Republic there were 72,344 executions during the years 1936-1939 whereas the Nationalists executed 57,662 from1936 to 1950. So which side was the bloodier?!
    I enjoyed reading this article and I consider it fair and balanced.
    I have never lived in Spain but have visited it from time to time. My first visit was when Francisco Franco was in charge and my last visit was in 2000.
    When I first visited Spain it was a growing economy, now, under the socialists, it is a basket case.

  • mallorca: I’d say my attitude would be heavily influenced by whether a family member had been murdered by the Nationalists or the Republicans. As it is, since no family members of mine were involved in the Spanish Civil War, I hope I can be somewhat objective and condemn all the murders no matter what name applied to the murderers.

  • John, in regard to execution statistics, they are a historical minefield with conflicting mumbers thrown out all over the place. My best guess is that during the war the executions were probably roughly comparable with the Nationalists surpassing the Republicans due to post war executions.

  • By the way, the best novels I have read on the war were written by Jose Maria Gironella: Cypresses Believe in God; One Million Dead and Peace After War. Although he fought for the Nationalists, I think Gironella did a fairly good job on being fair to all sides, especially considering that the novels were written in the Fifties in Spain under Franco.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jos%C3%A9_Mar%C3%ADa_Gironella

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/2003/jan/30/guardianobituaries.books

    The novels are available in first rate English translations, and I recommend them to all interested in the Spanish Civil War, or simply looking for a superb trilogy of novels to read.

  • You surely are not being objective! You are interpreting history at your convenience!! I’d suggest you more research work (from both sides, not from just one, basically his political heirs) to write an objective article. As i said, this article is a shame.

  • I am interpreting history based upon the historical evidence. I am sorry that the evidence simply does not fit the fable of heroic Republicans, champions of good, being defeated by evil Nationalists, which I am sure you have been spoonfed since your cradle. The Spanish Civil War was a great Spanish tragedy and there was a great deal of blame for all factions for that immense bloodletting.

  • Outstanding article–very nicely done and well-written. I do have two quibbles, namely your characterization of Franco as not a military genius, and your assertion that foreign troops were of little importance. Now, “genius” is a term that applies only to a few, and I do not know enough about military techniques and strategies to make a declaration on this matter. However, Franco was the youngest general in Europe before the SCW and he did command the first airlift of troops in history in the early days of the war when he moved his troops from Africa to the Spanish mainland. From there he made good progress toward the prize, Madrid. Had it not been for a detour to rescue the defenders of the Alcazar, Franco would have reached Madrid sooner, before the International Brigades arrived (that is another quibble I have–these forces were absolutely critical) and before an effective defensive strategy had been developed, and the SCW could have been over in mere weeks.

  • Ratings of military commanders are always somewhat subjective. I rank Franco as competent rather than a genius based on his overall performance in the civil war. He did a workmanlike job of building up a mass army, trained professionally, and then used it to eliminate the Northern Republican areas, and smash through the Aragon front, splitting Barcelona off from the rest of the Republic. The strategy followed by the Nationalists was fairly straight forward, and Franco’s implementation of the strategy was good.

    In regard to the airlift, I would give Franco high marks for convincing the Germans to give him the transport planes. It was pretty obvious that he had to fly the troops to Spain since sea transport was dicy with Spanish Navy crews mutinying against their officers and staying loyal to the Republic. Franco’s decision to detour to save the Alcazar has always been controversial, but I think needlessly so. At that time Franco simply lacked the troops to do large scale house to house fighting sufficient to capture Madrid, something Franco studiously avoided during the war, and I think he understood that. If the Republic collapsed because of a morale failure, well and good, but I think Franco doubted he had the strength to do a coup de main in 36 against Madrid.

    In regard to the foreign intervention, the war was decided in World War I fashion by infantry and artillery. The technical aid in air and armor received a lot of press at the time, but the amounts received tended to be a wash and were not decisive. The Italian infantry were mostly of poor quality, with a few exceptions, and the same could be said of the International Brigades. The first introduction of the Brigaders at Madrid in 36, as you said, was an important shot in the arm for Republican morale. Overall, I’d say the foreign interventions cancelled each other out, and the Nationalists won simply because they fielded a better army.

  • The history books I have read, mostly Warren Carroll, would support the numbers that Republicans executed far more than the Nationalists have done.

    As for the interlopers such as Mallorca, they’ve been fed the bile of Socialists propaganda all their lives.

    My opinion of the Spain today is that of a nation of cowards after electing the diabolical Zapatero to office. The nation of Spain succumbed to the Muslims after the Atocha bombings so they could appease the Islamists to leave them alone.

    Typical Socialist reaction to a clear and present danger.

    Once the Socialists are driven out of power will my opinion change.

    Luckily for the Cowards, the French reside next door so they don’t look too bad.

  • Warren Carroll is a well meaning amateur in this area Tito. I highly recommend all the books written by Stanley Payne on the Spanish Civil War and Franco.

    Here is a book review written by Stanley Payne in which he discusses how Leftist myths about the war have hampered scholarly research on the topic:

    http://wais.stanford.edu/Spain/spain_piomoaandthecivilwar7803.html

    “The corpus of Moa’s work constitutes a challenge to the standard politically correct interpretations of this epoch. The “myths” he confronts include, inter alia, such topics as a) the notion that leftist politics under the Republic were inherently democratic and constitutionalist; b) the idea that the Civil War was the product of a long-standing conspiracy by wealthy reactionaries rather than a desperate response to a revolutionary process that had largely destroyed constitutional government; c) the belief that prior to 18 July 1936 Manuel Azaña had in fact been more respectful of the constitutional and legal process than Francisco Franco had been; d) the vision of Franco as a blindly lucky incompetent rather than an able leader who did a capable job militarily, politically and diplomatically of managing a civil war in which initially he held the weaker hand; e) the projection that the revolutionary third Republic of the civil war years was somehow a pure continuation of the democratic parliamentary Republic of 1931-36; and many lesser issues which cannot be recounted in detail.”

  • I cannot recommend enough the scholarly works of Stanley Payne. He is hands-down the premier historian of the SCW. Paul Preston’s books get more attention since they conform to Leftist myths and lies about the war. I shudder to think of the direction that research on the SCW would have taken (it is bad enough as it is) had Payne decided to study Russian history instead of Spanish history–though I have to admit that the idea of Payne joining forces with Robert Conquest would have made quite the academic duo. Carroll’s book on the SCW is a cut-and-paste job, not a work of scholarship. I recommend it for anyone who wants a beginner’s guide to the SCW.

  • Don & Scott,

    Got them on my Amazon wish list already!

  • you are in for a treat Tito.

    Scott, I found it truly hilarious back in 2002 when Gabrielle Hodges, Preston’s psychiatrist wife, decided to write a bio of Franco in which she attempted to psychoanlyze him, filling out her speculations with a “Franco for Dummies” cribbing of her husband’s bitter biography of Franco. The book justly got savage reviews. Here is my book review on Amazon:

    “The author is the wife of Paul Preston, a British leftist scholar of the Spanish Civil War who wrote his own biography of Franco a few years ago. From everything I can see from this book Ms. Hodges largely relies on her husband’s research. Her main contribution, I believe she is a psychiatrist, is to attempt to psychoanalyze Franco. Thus motivations for various actions of Franco are attributed to conflicts with his father, feelings of inadequacy and sexual insecurities. This technique of course gives an author freedom to say virtually anything about any historical figure since internal motivations are rarely known based upon external evidence and the whole process is often speculation dressed up in psychological jargon.

    The author makes no attempt to hide her biases: she despises Franco. Judging from several snide comments in the book I also assume that she doesn’t think much of the Catholic Church.
    Inconvenient facts are completely ignored. While highlighting Nationalist atrocities during the Spanish Civil War, she completely ignores Republican atrocities. The author notes the support of much of the Church for Franco while not mentioning the massacre of tens of thousands of priests, brothers, sisters and lay Catholics at the beginning of the War which propelled the Church into the arms of the Nationalists. This is polemic and not history.

    The only virtue of this book is that it is concise. It has nothing of value to say about Franco or his times. Avoid this book unless, like me, you just have to have every English language work on the Spanish Civil War.”

    http://www.amazon.com/Franco-Biography-Gabrielle-Ashford-Hodges/product-reviews/0312282850/ref=cm_cr_dp_all_helpful?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1&sortBy=bySubmissionDateDescending

  • Donald,

    Outstanding review–well done. I have not read that book, but your review actually rings a bell, so thanks for possibly saving me some time and money!

    Scott

  • Donald,

    A couple of things: I sent to you via email (your business one) two attachments that represent the main article and the sidebars that went along with the article for an article my dad and I wrote for The Angelus. We sure would appreciate any feedback you can give that will make the article a better one. We wrote it with the beginner in mind.

    Also, I enjoyed very much your comments on the debate over what constitutes a lie. I am mystified as to why so many Catholics disagree over this issue. It seems fairly cut-and-dried to me, or at least as cut-and-dried you can get when invoking the Principle of the Double Effect.

    Finally, are you aware of a book called the General Cause or Causa General? If so, I am curious if you think a “cleaned up” version (making the English more readable and improving the quality of the pictures) would be something that would interest people.

  • Scott, I’ll be happy to take a look at the article and get back to you with feedback.

    In regard to the lie controversy, it has certainly struck a nerve in Saint Blog’s. Truth to tell, it has struck me as a lot of sturm und drang over little, but I do not wish to see this thread dragged into that debate.

    In regard to Causa General I assume that you are perhaps referring to the investigation of Republican war crimes undertaken by the Franco government in 1940? I’ve heard about it, but I have never read it. Personally, I would be more interested in English translations of some of the military histories of the civil war in Spain. I think they could find a market in this country.

  • Basque-ri: ez iezaiezu pito kasorik egin. Faxistak eta sasi-faxistak non nahi daude. Guk gurea!

  • Born in 1143, he fought in his first battle in 1057, and by 1079 was an experienced general, winning for Castile the battle of Cabra against the Moorish Granadan army.

    Now that IS impressive. Accomplishing all that nearly one hundred years before being born :). (I think you meant 1043).

  • Thank you cmatt for the correction.

  • “Personally, I would be more interested in English translations of some of the military histories of the civil war in Spain. I think they could find a market in this country.”

    If I recall correctly, the official Nationalist history of the war was called “Cruzada” and ran to several volumes. IIRC, while the furthest thing from unbiased, Hugh Thomas thought it was reliable enough to cite to frequently in his Spanish Civil War history.

  • Mallorca and Basque – that is precisely why those affected often make the worst historians – they cannot put aside personal experience. My parents hail from Peronist Argentina, and to this day, despite my father’s great intellectual ability and deep interest in history, I can’t help but feel I can’t get the straight story on Peron from him (although he is a great place to start).

  • The only thing Spaniards are united on is their national soccer (futbol) team. And even then, Catalan has been pushing for its own national team (playing exhibition games against other countries). Interesting how sports often are a microcosm of the country’s psyche.

  • “If I recall correctly, the official Nationalist history of the war was called “Cruzada” and ran to several volumes. IIRC, while the furthest thing from unbiased, Hugh Thomas thought it was reliable enough to cite to frequently in his Spanish Civil War history.”

    Precisely what I was thinking of Dale, along with memoirs from Nationalist and Republican generals. I can read Spanish after a fashion, especially with the assistance of my wife who speaks, reads and writes Spanish and Catalan, but having English translations would be much better. Additionally, outside of very large University collections on the Spanish Civil War, a lot of this material simply isn’t available in the US.

  • You might have read history books but my question is which ones have you read (the ones written by the victory winners) to base your theory about Franco? I am so, so sad to hear what you have written, here we are trying so hard for the future generations to read the truthful story about the civil war in Spain and how Franco shot every cultural person that thought for themselves and wanting to speak freely, scientist, authors, painters……

    Have you been “Valle de los Caidos” where he made his prisoners work to death for this mausoleum? Have you ever been here? Talked to the people for all the different provinces about him?

    There some subjects in lives that are very painful for whom have lived throw those terrible years and I really think you should have done a very intensive research in order to say what you have said. I’m so sad to find that there are still people which have no vocation to be serious journalists.

    So know is Hitler, Pinochet, Stalin, Mussolini, etc…. also are going to have a different history???

    I just really can’t believe what you have written… I feel sorry for you.

  • In my personal library I have some 73 volumes on the Spanish Civil War. In addition I have read numerous books on the subject which I do not own. I have not kept count of the magazine articles and monographs I have read on the subject, but I assume they would total several hundred. The works were written from a wide array of viewpoints: far right, far left and centrist.

    “to read the truthful story about the civil war in Spain and how Franco shot every cultural person that thought for themselves and wanting to speak freely, scientist, authors, painters……”

    Of course that statement is so reflective of the type of ideological blindness that has hampered objective study of the Spanish Civil War. Both sides butchered those who disagreed with them. The Republican side massacred thousands of Catholic priests, nuns, brothers, sisters and monks, simply because of their allegiance to the Church. I realize this is bitter for you, but attempting to pretend that the evil was all on one side in that conflict is ahistoric rubbish.

  • Anne,

    Well, now. While I am touched by your concern for those of us who have dug for the truth, I am afraid your larger point misses the mark. The SCW may be the only conflict in world history where the losers (the Left) actually crafted the narrative that survives in many camps to this day. Your assertion that “Franco shot every cultural person that [sic] thought for themselves [sic]” is absurd nonsense. I have indeed been to the Valley of the Fallen and was touched by its haunting beauty. I do, however, agree with you that this subject is still painful for many people, but that does not absolve anyone of the responsibility of telling the truth.

  • Donald,

    Along with Tito I thank you all for your book recommendations. I admit I am ignorant on the subject and my wife is Spanish, from Galicia even! For shame. I look forward to the education. On a slightly related subject, one that is closer to home:

    What are good sources to learn the truth about the (Masonic) war in Mexico? Are you or anyone else versed enough to blog here about it.

  • I assume AK you are referring to what is linked below. I have to plead ignorance on the subject:

    http://celticowboy.com/Morans%20Masons%20and%20Mex%20Rev.htm

  • AK, if you want to read about what happened in Mexico, get “No God Next Door”. It should answer all yor questions.

  • I think that is referred to as the Mexican War of Independence and Masons were involved; however, I was referring to the revolution of 1910 and I think Masons were involved then as well. It was rather anti-clerical too. I don’t know much either. Oh well, there is far more to know about human history than we can digest. I’ll keep looking.

  • Thank you Stephen. I was skeptical at first, but I am sure glad I caved and subscribed to Amazon’s Prime membership. It is steep, $80+/-/ann, but I get all my books 2nd day at no additional cost.

  • I know a fair bit about Pershing’s punitive expedition into Mexico and a bit about the Cristeros Rebellion in the twenties, but I have not made a detailed study of the Mexican revolution.

  • Anne,

    I lived in Spain for two years. I remember talking to Spanish friends about my travels through the country. They say about one town I visited “Oh, that’s where the Nationalists killed a lot of people.” About another town they’d say “Oh, that’s where the Republicans killed a lot of people.”

    Time to open your horizons.

  • I find Spanish and Latin American history both interesting and fascinating, especially so as how it relates to and in some periods of time is intertwined with American history.

    It is clear that Franco was no saint or someone in the mold of Raoul Wallenberg, but he did what he believed to be right. I have no sympathy for those in power who murder Catholic clergy, be it King Henry, his bastard daughter, the Reign of Terror, the Republicans, the Masons who ran the Mexican Revolution, etc.

    One of may favorite books is Warren Carrol’s biography of Queen Isabel. Granted, as stated, Carroll is a cut and paste type of writer, but Queen Isabel was truly a great leader who united Spain in an earlier time. Queen Isabel had to fight off and defeat an invasion from neighboring Portugal, who was incited by nobles in Spain who opposed Isabel. Under Queen Isabel, Spain completed the Reconquest and conquered Granada. Isabel appointed reformers to the Catholic Church throughout Spain. Needless to say Isabel approved Columbus’ voyage, which led to the spread of the catholic faith through two thirds of the Western Hemisphere.

    Move forward three centuries, and Spain assisted the fledgling rebellion that established the United States of America. History books usually mention France’s participation and nothing else. The high society of Havana provided financial assistance to George Washington’s troops and the Spanish Navy kicked Britain’s butts out of the Mississippi Valley and through the Caribbean.

    There are some towns and cities in the USA that were founded before there was any English speaking person on these shores – St. Augustine, San Juan, Puerto Rico and Santa Fe, New Mexico, to name a few.

    Catholics were here before there were any Protestant English here. Florida, Texas, New Mexico, the Southwest that was evangelized by Padre Kino, the California missions established by Fray Serra – these are a few examples of Spanish Catholic presence in our nation, but most American Catholics know nothing about it.

  • Penguins Fan,

    Very good point about the early arrival of Spain on our shores. In fact, Fr. Juan de Padilla wound up in Lyons, KS around 1540. Lyons is just under four hours from Kansas City. Oh! how life could have been so much better had the Spanish settled and, at the very least, blocked the English from spreading west. It’s a fun game to play sometime with your friends to ask which was the first colony in what is now the USA? St. Augustine, of course, though i will bet you a beer they will not get the correct answer.

  • Penquin fan, two good books on Spanish royalty are: Isabella, The Last Crusader, and Phillip II, both by William Thomas Walsh. I highly recomend them both.

  • Arrg! Dalton!

    UPS just dropped off Spain by Payne and Gironella’s The Cypresses Believe in God. Spain so far is awesome! I usually don’t read novels and Gironella’s is a serious tome!!! (are you sure he’s not Russian). Then you drop two more. I cannot resist. At least I just received an Amazon GC for my birthday.

    I am confident that God allowed the USA to form from WASP origins for a good reason. First, as a Catholic country we would not have developed some of the ‘secular’ freedoms that we did. Of course, these are being abused, much like Franco was on the right side of the war, but committed many atrocities. Second, I think that we would have fallen with Spain’s decline and Britain’s assent. As it is we may be falling now; however, I think we have a unique character and are very resilient. I also think we are given an opportunity to truly examine and examen our country. If we do this right, we will uncover the insidious spirit that has been corrupting Western Civilization (Christendom) since the Protestant Reformation, Henry VIII, Jacobin Revolution, Bolshevik Revolution, National Socialist Revolution. Being outside of Europe and essentially secular/Protestant in origin with a huge catholic and a fair Catholic population, we may be uniquely positioned to influence a reunification of Christendom under the Catholic Banner. Sure, we may fail. But, I think we are at a pivotal time, much like Isabel’s Spain. Will we be Babylon or Jerusalem?

    As far as that fun game goes. It is always fun to ask about the first Thanksgiving meal too. On the main, it was in St. Augustine. I understand it was sublimely Eucharistic. 😉

Find God In 60 Days!

Friday, February 25, AD 2011

 

I agree with you Klavan on the Culture, prayer over time tends to build belief.  I have had several people tell me that the force of habit of prayer has gotten them through rough spots in their religious life.  One fellow I know promised his mom that every night he would say a Hail Mary before he went to sleep.  He spent several years as a stone cold atheist, but every night he would heed his promise to his mom and say the Hail Mary, even though he thought it ridiculous.  Faith returned ultimately,  and he thinks he might have been lost forever without that nightly prayer for the intercession of the Blessed Mother. 

CS Lewis understood this well, judging from this passage of The Screwtape Letters:

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5 Responses to Find God In 60 Days!

  • Don, did you get this off the Onion Network? I remember an old TV commercial featuring a guy by the name of Fast Eddie who used to shill electronics and power tools in NYC. Is this really the way to peddle Christianity? If so, no sale here. I don’t think this is what Jesus had in mind when he told his disciplines to preach the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

  • Jesus had a heck of a sense of humor– as a great priest I once heard pointed out, he had TONS of stuff that wouldn’t be out of line in a stand-up comedy club, or CGI assisted slap-stick.

    Swallowing a camel while complaining about a little gnat? Walking around with a bloody LOG in your eye, talking about a little splinter in someone else’s?

    Klavan’s made me laugh. ^.^

  • “Is this really the way to peddle Christianity?:

    Over the past 2000 years Joe there have been an infinite number of ways to spread the Good News. I tend to like a lot of humor. I agree with Saint Francis of Assisi: “Let gloom and despair be for the Devil and his Disciples.”

    Blessed Miguel Pro, God’s Jester, please ask God to grant us good humor to lighten our way.

    Foxfier, you are absolutely correct. The Gospels are suffused with the humor of God, much of which we simply do not get because translation from the original spoken Aramaic to Greek to Latin to English conceals some of it, and most of the rest because the historical background eludes most readers.

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  • The video affirms two ideas that don’t get much play, even from the pulpit: that standing fast through the down periods is essential to long term well-being and, relatedly, faith is part of the social fabric.

    Marriage has been, for me, a true blessing. It is wonderful… Except for those times when it isn’t, when things are out of sinc and connecting requires work… The thing is that working through those trials requires remaining engaged. The reward has been to have a marriage that grows and changes. Is it stronger? Better? More beautiful? For the perseverance? I don’t know. I harbor an affection for the time when we lived in an apartment, went away on unplanned vacations, and ate out with friends two or three nights a week. (Plus, I was a whole lot thinner and had hair.).

    The thing is, the marriage that we had couldn’t have handled a sick child, no money to fix a washing machine, or ill health. It was the subtle change over time that turned me into a different person, one able to handle what was thrown at us. That subtle change was the result of perseverance through times where everything wasn’t “great”.

    I don’t think we hear enough about perseverance in prayer or relationships these days. Thus, I applaud the messages of the video.

11 Responses to Wisconsin Bishops Neutral on Union Issue

  • “The teaching of the Church allows for persons of good will to disagree as to which horn of this dilemma should be chosen, because there would be reasonable justification available for either alternative. (This is unlike the case of abortion or euthanasia, for which reason can offer absolutely no justification in terms of the killing of an innocent victim.)”

    Bravo!

  • Hmmm, maybe parishioners should take a neutral stand on funding the diocese. Specially since many will be working with reduced incomes due to economic collapse. I respectfully disagree with the Bishop’s view of the two sides and his assessment of their relative merit. Where is the neutrality in bringing down duly elected government due to decades of democrat/union collusion and maleficence? Where was the Bishop’s helpful remarks during the last several decades of this of this train wreck brewing?

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  • There was a commenter over at another blog who observed that for many years, Catholics of politically conservative bent have (rightly) chided Catholic Democrats for being disobedient to the Church on issues such as abortion. Now, he said, perhaps it is the Republican’s turn to have THEIR obedience tested with the sharp anti-union (or more precisely, anti-public-employee union) turn in the GOP.

    Of course I realize the two issues are different in character and degree but I do think this commenter has a point.

    As Bp. Morlino himself notes, the Wisconsin union dispute is a true moral and social dilemma which has valid arguments on both sides and a faithful Catholic could come down on either side — which is NOT true of a non-negotiable issue like abortion. It is certainly not fair to accuse Catholics who side with Gov. Walker in this case of being disloyal “catholycs” a la Ted Kennedy or Nancy Pelosi, as some have attempted to do.

    However, this situation and the recent bishops’ statements should serve as a reminder to conservative/GOP-leaning Catholics to avoid getting too carried away with the faction of their party that opposes ALL unions, not just public employee unions. The Church defends the basic right to unionize, even if this does not translate into a corresponding obligation to all employers, private and public, to hire union members or fulfill their demands. The situation might also serve as a reminder to Catholics not to get too comfortable with EITHER political party or side of the political spectrum.

  • The Church defends the basic right to unionize, even if this does not translate into a corresponding obligation to all employers, private and public, to hire union members or fulfill their demands.

    If the employer cannot be obliged to bargain with this labor cartel, either by law or by rough justice administered by union members, they do not have much purpose other than as fraternal or benevolent associations.

    Questions of fair dealing in contracting for labor and questions of occupational health and safety can be dealt with via state and federal regulatory agencies. These can proceed without imposing unsustainable pay and benefit regimes.

  • I don’t know how much the unions can be thanked or not, since I’m not a union member. But the State of Wisconsin has been bedy bedy good to me. 90K a year, I hardly pay anything into my pension fund, a pension which will be very sizeable, indeed, and health care from one of the finest health insurance companies on the planet, all at hardy any cost to me, and free after I retire. WoHoo!

  • The bill in play does not eliminate public unions, but rather leaves benefits out of collective bargining. Wages and work rules are left in play. When the Church orginally supported the right to organize, I doubt it had in mind the right to extract a posh early retirement, especially one extracted from tax payers–the vast majority of whom do not have a posh early retirement in their future.

    One may as well say that the Pope belives that health care is a right, and since some people claim abortion is health care, one should believe that the Church therefore supports state funded abortion. Just becuase a right exists does not mean that every possible facet of it is reasonable or even permissible.

  • For God’s Sake, we pray..
    If only those so radically fearfull and protective of their union with UNIONS and willing to demonstrate in the streets and the halls of government should it be even the least threatened would be as dillegently active in the preservation of LIFE and MARRIAGE.

  • Make no mistake about it this is a political issue with far reaching consequences. On one hand you have the unions yet these are NOT the unions of the past. They are a revenue generating venue for specific political gain. LEADERS (emphasize) of unions ARE political and many are standing with communist parties. These union dues are being used to support this agenda and the pensions are being used to manipulate the markets.

    On the other hand you have the term union being used a dirty word. Trade unions are not the same as unions set up for civil servants and untrained workers. Trade unions have NO guarantees as to employment and are subject to the economic conditions of the time. In addition, they work for public and private employers and are not solely dependent on the taxpayer.

    Members of all unions SHOULD feel the economic sting of this depression as will all in the private sector. Remember the civil servants are a function of the private sector and MUST represent a fraction of the public sector. For this to happen they must be brought down to parity.

    I am a Catholic first and an American second but I do not see a contradiction in my stand. I see this as a political fight that I must weigh in on and one my church must stay out of for the time being.

  • An interesting point overlooked by the commenters seems to be the point that the public employee unions have agreed to take the pay cuts ordered by Governor Walker. They have chosen to sacrifice economically as many in the state have had to do. What the union members wish to preserve are their rights to collectively bargain as an effective group.
    Where are the statements of the states wealthiest or the large corporations on the sacrifices they are willing to be a part of to help Wisconsin? Their silence is deafening.

  • “Where are the statements of the states wealthiest or the large corporations on the sacrifices they are willing to be a part of to help Wisconsin? Their silence is deafening.”

    In regard to corporations any thing they would contribute to the State of Wisconsin would have to be passed on to their customers. Corporations don’t pay taxes, they collect taxes from their customers. If the Democrats in the state legislature think that a “soak the rich” tax plan is the path to solving Wisconsin’s budgetary woes, then I would urge the Wisconsin Democrat “fleebagging” senators currently in Illinois to go back behind the Cheddar Curtain, resume their seats in the State Senate, and forthrightly make their case. Wisconsin currently has an 8% income tax on those making $225,000.00 plus each year, so all they would have to do is figure how high they could raise it before wealthy taxpayers borrowed a leaf from their book and fled the state.

A Few Thoughts on Wisconsin and Unions

Thursday, February 24, AD 2011

At the risk of losing some of my libertarian street cred, I have to say that I feel a lot of sympathy for the public employee members in Wisconsin. Even if you think that their salaries and benefits are excessive, those benefits and wages were contractually agreed to by their employers, and I’m sure that in many cases people have planned their retirements on the assumption that these contracts would be honored.

On the other hand, if having public employee unions leads to workers receiving promises of future pensions and benefits that can’t or won’t be met, then that could be a reason to reconsider whether public employee unions are such a great idea going forward. The Church recognizes the right of workers to unionize, but this right is fundamentally based not on any the supposedly good consequences that unions have for workers, but rather as an application of the right of private association. As John Paul II noted in Centesimus Annus, (“the Church’s defence and approval of the establishment of what are commonly called trade unions [is] certainly not because of ideological prejudices or in order to surrender to a class mentality, but because the right of association is a natural right of the human being, which therefore precedes his or her incorporation into political society.”

I’m willing to accept correction on this, but it seems to me that if the right to unionization is based in the right to association, then it would seem that the union relationship ought to be voluntary for all the parties involved. Forcing workers to join a union or forcing an employer to deal with a union on certain terms strikes me as being contrary to people’s association rights, not a fulfillment of them. In the case of public employee unions, the government is the employer, and so should have a wide latitude to decide to what extent it is willing to bargain with unions and to what extent it isn’t.

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80 Responses to A Few Thoughts on Wisconsin and Unions

  • Yeah, obviously, I can’t blame the Wisconsin unions for not wanting to see their benefits reduced. Given the choice, I’d rather not see my benefits reduced.

    My only beef with unions is when they secure legislation which requires all workers in a given company or line of work (like being a public school teacher) to join whether they like it or not. This seems like a pretty clear violating of one’s human right to association, in that it forces association against one’s will. And, of course, with the idea that an employer has to reach an agreement with a given union, rather than simply forgoing to employ their members.

  • Which is why laws which mandate union membership may be contrary to Catholic Social teaching.

  • With the collapse of our economy I lost my job after working for 28 years. I was close to retirement and had to take that proverbial haircut in what my retirement was suppose to be. I was also married to an unionized auto worker and saw in my own employment a union shop dismantle itself because of unrealistic demands, which in my mind was the union committed suicide. This proved to me that unions are needed at certain times and then they need a new model such as what auto workers contracts are moving into a profit share approach. In the public sector some unions go into arbitration where they have to prove the government entity can afford to pay what they demand.
    State governments have to balance their budgets by law and we operate under the rule of law. When the government goes into debt which they knowingly cannot pay back borders or moral and ethical issues.
    In Michigan a JUDGE ruled that the state had to lay off teachers because of this issue and it will raise the class size to 60 pupils. I think it is a moral issue to put in place policies to make sure this does not happen.

  • This is “one big love triangle.” The gov employee unions are in bed with the politicians. The taxpayer is (can I say this?) cuckolded.

    A significant amount of public employee union dues (100%, indirectly paid by TAXPAYERS) is used to help elect mostly democrat (nearly 100% pro-abortion) candidates who repay the selfsame campaign contributions (from taxes) with more taxpayer money in better benefits and higher wages.

    They seem to be completely oblivious to the fact that they have run out of other people’s money. That is an economical issue, not a moral issue.

    Also, consider the 9.4% unemployment and 17% underemployment rates among private sector employees compared to the near 0% rates among gov employees.

  • One has to distinguish unions in private enterprise from unions in public service. If public servants do not like their wages and such they can vote for different elected officials; they already have a say. There is something, well unsettling, in the idea of public servants organizing against the public in a democracy.

    In private enterprise a union that becomes a parasite (e.g., instead of fighting for the 40 hour work week and a living wage, it fights for fork lift drivers to make six-figure salaries and life-time health insurance) competition will kill the host, and there will be other companies (that never drove their employees to unionize, or that have reasonable unions) that will step in the void to provide goods, services, and jobs. There is no such arrangement in government for parts of government that can not be privatized. In fact, as others have pointed out, it becomes a situation where the elected officials get votes and money from the union and then rewards the union with more pay–they are both parasites on the common citizen and the only limit is the ability to borrow money to be paid by, or to bankrupt, our children and grand children.

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  • My late father worked in a plant almost all of his working life where membership in the Allied Industrial Workers was mandatory. Other than taking dues money and giving sweet heart jobs for union bosses he could never see what earthly good the union did for him and his fellow workers. If membership in the union had been optional he would have left it in a heartbeat.

  • Just another reason why our treasures ought to be stored up in heaven, where they won’t rot.

  • You shouldn’t have to join a union but I think it’s perfectly permissible to insist that non-members pay for free riding.

    Also, I bought the whole idea that public sector unions are bad but I’m not sure why that must be. There is an effective check on public sector unions. If Gov. Walker can do what he’s doing now, he can certainly stand up to unreasonable union demands.

    On a related note, how do those who support Lila Rose’s deceptions feel now that Gov. Walker has been the victim? It’s still fair game? Is this the world we wanna live in? Where nothing is confidential?

  • Well stated.

    Right of free association prohibits the government from prohibiting unions or union membership, provided the unions are freely joined by each member as an option which he may voluntarily leave or take without fear of consequences being imposed on him as a result of the decision.

    Right of free association likewise prohibits the government from requiring that employers, including the government itself, deal solely with the unions, or with a particular union, for obtaining a worker to fill a particular job.

    I suppose the only real question for libertarians, then, is this: Does a private (not government) employer have the right to not hire, or even to fire, persons purely for being/becoming members of a union?

    In short, the right of free association exists, and the government has no just authority to penalize you (that is, to initiate force against you) for your association with a union. But if I don’t hire you or if I fire you, that isn’t an instance of me exercising force against you. It’s merely me refusing to associate with you. (I am, for the purposes of this example, assuming that I am not a company owner in a company town where the company, for all intents and purposes, is the government.)

    So, do I have a right as an employer to not associate with you, or to cease associating with you, because of who I just found out you’ve been associating with?

    My inclination is to say, “Yes, I have that right, provided I’m not the government, or in a position of such monopolistic power that my refusing to associate with you constitutes a de-facto exercise of force against you.”

  • RR:

    Why should it be considered “free riding” if non-union members are hired by the same employer, for the same jobs, under different terms (since their terms were not negotiated by the union)?

  • In the late 40’s lots of plants were moving south to right to work states.
    I watched a union member family of five move from Ohio to Tenn. to work in a plant which went non-union. He was told to strike and walk the picket line for less than half pay. After nearly two years with his family living on beans and biscuits he finally gave up. Sticking with the union rather than going non-union and providing for his family taught ME a lesson I’ve never forgotten.

  • Is it injust that we have “better benefits and higher wages” at this particular moment?

    I would suggest that a down economy naturally lends itself to stronger wages and more certain benefits in precisely those sectors that enjoy weaker wages and declining benefits during periods of significant economic growth. There seems to be an inverse relationship to the attractriveness of government jobs and the attractiveness of private – sector employment.

  • By “injust,” I meant “unjust.”

  • RC, because the terms won’t be different. If employers don’t extend the same benefits they negotiated with unions to non-members, non-members can just walk in to the boss’s office and demand identical terms and they’ll very likely get them. They reap the benefits of unionization with minimal effort.

  • “If employers don’t extend the same benefits they negotiated with unions to non-members, non-members can just walk in to the boss’s office and demand identical terms and they’ll very likely get them.”

    Why? If I were an employer I’d give better terms to my non-union employees in hopes their ranks would swell.

    The free rider argument in regard to unions has always struck me as weak. The truth is that there has always been a substantial segment of workers who do not wish to belong to unions, and the closed shop and mandatory deduction of dues is the union response to their unpopularity among more than a few of the workers they purport to represent. If unions were as popular as their mythology represents, neither the closed shop nor mandatory union dues deductions would ever have been necessary.

  • RR:

    So you’re saying that the non-members can only achieve the better benefits by doing a little research into the salaries and benefits of other folk in their industry, and engaging in their own negotiations.

    But isn’t that what everyone does to obtain a raise? Anyone with a little initiative and gumption, that is. Again, not something it’s just to call “free-riding.”

    But whether it is or isn’t, it seems to me that the principle of free-association prohibits government from requiring by law that people pay a fee for not being in a union.

    To say that the government may do that, is to say that I and a cavalcade of my fellow citizens may, with just moral authority, pull out a weapon and, while threatening you with violence if you don’t accede to my demands, take your property from you to punish you for not associating with the folk with whom we wish you to associate. Not very free, that.

  • Aw, folks beat me to the “being forced to PAY union dues when you don’t want to be a member, especially when you’re not a member, is also a violation of the right to associate.”

  • RC, non-members have a much easier time negotiating a raise when the union has already done the heavy lifting for its members. That’s just common sense.

    As for whether it violates free association, I see it like the debate over the constitutionality of the health care mandate. An individual mandate may be unconstitutional but taxing and spending to the same ends is not. Likewise, forcing everyone to pay union dues may violate free association but employers can pass union costs on to their employees regardless of membership.

  • “Likewise, forcing everyone to pay union dues may violate free association but employers can pass union costs on to their employees regardless of membership.”

    Why in the world would they do that?

  • I’m not sure how serious the free rider issue really is. Other countries (e.g. Germany) mandate open shops and it doesn’t seem to be a problem. If it came down to it, a union could always write it into their contracts that they get x percent more than nonunionized workers, adjusting for various factors (this sort of thing is typical in Hollywood, where star A wants to make sure that he is always paid more than star B, and so forth).

    The biggest violation of the right to associate in American labor law, it seems to me, is that it prohibits so-called company unions (in which workers and employees are part of the same organization). When Church documents speak of the right to unionize, most of the time they are explicit in including associations of employers and workers as part of this right. Yet in America this is illegal.

  • I don’t know much about Germany but from what I read it seems like their high rate of union membership is primarily a cultural phenomena.

    If unions members contract to get x percent more than non-members, you’d get a de facto closed shop.

  • Don, I don’t know if employers would voluntarily pass unions costs on to employers regardless of membership but they can be made to. Or the government can bank roll unions. Point is there are ways to make non-members pay without violating the right to free association so I don’t find the “I have a right not to pay union dues” all that convincing an argument against closed shops.

  • “Point is there are ways to make non-members pay without violating the right to free association so I don’t find the “I have a right not to pay union dues” all that convincing an argument against closed shops.”

    RR if I am forced to pay for a private organization I do not wish to support that certainly does violate my right to free association. The closed shop is a classic example of forced association. The decline of unionism in the private sector has been caused by many factors, but I think the coercive aspects of unionism left a bad taste in the mouth of many workers towards unions.

  • If unions members contract to get x percent more than non-members, you’d get a de facto closed shop.

    I actually don’t have a problem with a closed shop with its what the employer and union agree to. On the other hand, if a business wants to have an open shop that also should be allowed.

  • If it came down to it, a union could always write it into their contracts that they get x percent more than nonunionized workers, adjusting for various factors

    My first reaction is to wonder why anyone would agree to this, but then it strikes me that “adjusting for various factors” might cover a lot. For instance, unions often seem to want to have compensation determined primarily by seniority and very expensive benefits (very low deductible insurance, guaranteed pension benefit, etc.) To someone with a non-union frame of mine, like me, who might also be planning to move on out or up into non-unionized roles fairly quickly, it would actually be more attractive to work non-union with a slightly lower total comp + benefits package if my package leaned more toward salary and less towards benefits, and if I could get pay and bonuses based on performance rather than seniority. For someone intent on plodding along and watching the clock for thirty years at the same company, working union might be more attractive.

  • Folks who disagree with the political leaning of the union– or who have a moral objection to the union at all– might take lower pay; those who have insurance from another source might jump at the chance to get more pay over redundant benefits, or to choose their own benefits elsewhere.

    The obvious response to a union contract that says that the union workers will always get a set amount more than the non-union workers would be for those who don’t want to join Union 1 to form Union 2.

  • I said I’d stay away, but this one begs a response. Greedy labor unions killed most of the good daily newspapers in NYC, where I grew up and suffered with millions of other citizen-taxpayers forced to suffer through countless teacher, transit, garbage, and other government worker strikes and impossible wage and other demands that sent a once-great city in a steep decline from which it never recovered.

    I’ll never forget the Daily News headline back in the 1970’s when New York sought help from the federal government: “Ford to City: Drop Dead!”

    The headline today should be: “Wisconsin to Unions: Shut Up!”

  • Stick around Joe. You are a worthy sparring partner!

  • Thanks, Don. All forgiven?

  • In that case, allow me to observe:

    It’s hard to have much respect for the collective intelligence of the American people when the majority do not seem to know the difference between “STOP” and “YIELD.”

    : )

  • Darwin,

    You ask why an employer would ever agree to pay his unionized workers more than his one union ones. Of course, if an employee did not wish to do so he would not have to. A rational employer, though, might be willing to pay union members more if and to the extent that union membership was able to make unionized workers more productive. For example, unions might provide a vehicle for more efficient dispute resolution, might increase worker morale and decrease shirking, and could provide a mechanism for increasing the skills of union members. Stephen Bainbridge has some thought on this here.

    In the current institutional environment, the incentives are for unions and management to each try and grab as much benefit as they can and to provide as little as possible in return. In fact, this form of unionism is so ingrained that it can be hard to imagine unions behaving in any other way. But if union relationships had to be voluntary I think a lot of these incentives would be reversed.

  • A significant amount of public employee union dues (100%, indirectly paid by TAXPAYERS) is used to help elect mostly democrat

    Neither in federal elections nor Wisconsin elections may union dues be used to make contributions to candidates. Contributions come from a separate political action committee of which no union member is required to give an dmost do not. (Even though all union members, PAC givers and non-PAC givers get to vote on endorsements).

    i don’t know much about Germany but from what I read it seems like their high rate of union membership is primarily a cultural phenomena.

    It is largely due to the strong role the Catholic Church played in promoting trade unionism and union membership, along maybe with the intercession of German labor union leader Blessed Nikolas Gross.

    I actually don’t have a problem with a closed shop with its what the employer and union agree to. On the other hand, if a business wants to have an open shop that also should be allowed.

    The closed shop is illegal and has been since the Taft-Hartley Act.

    A Union Shop is only permissible with the agreement of both management and labor. Union shops are not permitted among federal goverment employees or in “Right-to-Work” states.

    The Open Shop is perfectly legal and exists except where a union shop has been agreed to per above.

    if I am forced to pay for a private organization I do not wish to support that certainly does violate my right to free association. The closed shop is a classic example of forced association.

    The Union Shop under the NLRA is balanced with the Union’s duty of fair representation. Full disclosure: I am a union representative in an open shop. If I fail to give those employees who are not union members the same level of service I give those who pay dues, I can be fined, fired or go to jail. I have never heard one conservative or libertarian make a single comment of the unfairness of this.

    Labor has long said they are happy to give up the opportunity to negotiate for an Union Shop if it is then free to only represent those who join the union. In fact, during the Bush Administration, a union tried to get the NLRB to sauy it could do that. Both the Chamber of Commerce and the Bush Administration successfully filed objections.

  • Kurt-
    are they non-members, or ‘core members’?

    It’s a little disingenuous to go from someone saying that union dues are used to elect democrats to talking about direct PAC contributions. The purple shirted thugs of late are a big example of this “help.”

  • Kurt,

    If I fail to give those employees who are not union members the same level of service I give those who pay dues, I can be fined, fired or go to jail. I have never heard one conservative or libertarian make a single comment of the unfairness of this.

    FWIW, I believe I commented to you within the last couple weeks that this strikes me as unfair. As someone against unions as they currently exist in the US, if there were a union operating at the company I worked for I would not only not want to have to be a member of pay “fair share”, but I would also not want to have the union deal with any grievance I might have, not want to have my employment constricted by the union contract, etc. (I also don’t won’t an employer to be able to hand off it’s HR duties to a union, as it gives them too much plausible deniability.)

    So at least, now you can say that at least one conservative or libertarian has agreed with you this is unfair. 🙂

  • Neither in federal elections nor Wisconsin elections may union dues be used to make contributions to candidates. Contributions come from a separate political action committee of which no union member is required to give an dmost do not. (Even though all union members, PAC givers and non-PAC givers get to vote on endorsements).

    Also, I believe this is a tad disingenuous in that unions can easily advocate in an election without giving money directly to a candidate. That’s like suggesting the NRA is a non-partisan organization.

  • are they non-members, or ‘core members’?

    Non-members. Where management and labor have agreed to a union shop, employees still have the option to quit the union and only pay an agency fee. The agency fee payers still have all the rights to equal service from the union and can sue if they feel they have not been served.

    In an open shop, those who pay no dues or agency fees still have all of the rights to equal service. Now, you may ask “yes, Kurt, but who would be enough of an a**h@@@ to willfully not join the union, pay a cent of dues, and still demand union representation and take action if they did not get it?” You would be amazed. My union lawyers make me take hours of training every year to make sure I don’t get a DFR complaint lodged against me.

    I believe this is a tad disingenuous in that unions can easily advocate in an election without giving money directly to a candidate.

    Indpendent expenditures on behalf of a candidate using union dues money is also illegal in federal and Wisconsin elections. Not only can a union not use dues money to buy a TV ad saying “vote for X” but it would be illegal for a union to spend dues money to give members a t-shirt with the union name on it to go to a campaign rally.

    So at least, now you can say that at least one conservative or libertarian has agreed with you this is unfair

    Should I hold my breath for the second?

    And rather than constantly reading from conservatives attacks on unions for the union shop, should I have any hope that these attacks would be retired and instead conservatives would focus on attacking the Chamber of Commerce for their position and demand that unions be allowed to be organized that simply represent their voluntary dues paying members? The AFL-CIO has been for this since Blessed Lane Kirkland. Its nothing new on the labor side.

    And once we resolve that, maybe you can give me a defense of the conservative position on the prohibition of secondary boycotts?

  • Indpendent expenditures on behalf of a candidate using union dues money is also illegal in federal and Wisconsin elections. Not only can a union not use dues money to buy a TV ad saying “vote for X” but it would be illegal for a union to spend dues money to give members a t-shirt with the union name on it to go to a campaign rally.

    Well, given your expertise on the topic, maybe you can explain a bit for those of us who only read the news stories. It’s common knowledge that unions are some of the biggest spenders in elections dealing with issues they’re concerned about. Are you saying this is entirely PAC money and dues are never used for it?

    Also, if this is the case, why to unions often include positions on topics having nothing to do with their areas of work in their union resolutions? For instance, a public school teacher friend of mine was complaining to me recently that the NEA and OEA both specifically endorse abortion and birth control in their resolutions. If unions are not going around advocating in favor of various political issues, why are they spending resources adopting resolutions on these topics?

  • Non-members. Where management and labor have agreed to a union shop, employees still have the option to quit the union and only pay an agency fee. The agency fee payers still have all the rights to equal service from the union and can sue if they feel they have not been served.

    According to the NLRB link that I provided:
    The NLRA allows employers and unions to enter into union-security agreements, which require all employees in a bargaining unit to become union members and begin paying union dues and fees within 30 days of being hired.

    Even under a security agreement, employees who object to full union membership may continue as ‘core’ members and pay only that share of dues used directly for representation, such as collective bargaining and contract administration. Known as objectors, they are no longer full members but are still protected by the union contract. Unions are obligated to tell all covered employees about this option, which was created by a Supreme Court ruling and is known as the Beck right.

    An employee may object to union membership on religious grounds, but in that case, must pay an amount equal to dues to a nonreligious charitable organization.

    More than 20 states have banned union-security agreements by passing so-called “right to work” laws. In these states, it is up to each employee at a workplace to decide whether or not to join the union and pay dues, even though all workers are protected by the collective bargaining agreement negotiated by the union. These states include Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming.

    Can you provide the text showing where you’re required to give union representation to these folks on the same level as full union members? The site search is borderline useless.

    Indpendent expenditures on behalf of a candidate using union dues money is also illegal in federal and Wisconsin elections. Not only can a union not use dues money to buy a TV ad saying “vote for X” but it would be illegal for a union to spend dues money to give members a t-shirt with the union name on it to go to a campaign rally.

    Again, you’re either missing the point or dodging.

  • Stop holding your breath Kurt. I think that’s unfair. I also think it’s unfair to require non-union employees to fork over even a minimal of funds to the union.

    In these states, it is up to each employee at a workplace to decide whether or not to join the union and pay dues, even though all workers are protected by the collective bargaining agreement negotiated by the union.

    And there’s the rub. It may be in some (or possibly many) instances that a non-union worker is “protected” by the union’s agreement. However, that means the non-union employee and the company are also restricted by the union agreement. This strikes me as unfair too.

  • Humphrey v. Moore, 375 U.S. 335, 55 LRRM 2031 (1964).

    MacKnight v. Leonard Morse Hospital, 828 F.2d 48,126 LRRM 2259, 2261 (1st Cir. 1987).

    http://www.teamster.org/content/duty-fair-representation (last item)

    From the Federal Labor Relations Authority (bolding is mine):

    THE DUTY OF FAIR REPRESENTATION UNDER THE STATUTE

    A. The Section 7114(a)(1) Duty of Fair Representation
    Section 7114(a)(1) of the Statute provides:
    § 7114. Representation rights and duties.

    (a)(1) A labor organization which has been accorded exclusive recognition is the exclusive representative of the employees in the unit it represents and is entitled to act for, and negotiate collective bargaining agreements covering, all employees in the unit. An exclusive representative is responsible for representing the interests of all employees in the unit it represents without discrimination and without regard to labor organization membership.

    The obligation set forth in the second sentence of section 7114(a)(1) of the Statute is commonly referred to as an exclusive representative’s duty of fair representation. The Authority has interpreted this section to require an exclusive representative to represent the interests of all bargaining unit employees: 1) without discrimination; and 2) without regard to whether the employee is a dues paying member of the exclusive representative. The duty of fair representation is grounded in the principle that when a union attains the status of exclusive representative, it must use that power to fairly and equally represent all members of the unit.
    I will first discuss that aspect of the duty of fair representation which involves disparate treatment by a union of a unit employee based on union membership.
    B. Authority Test When Employees are Treated Differently Based on Union Membership
    1. Legal Test
    This aspect of the duty of fair representation usually concerns situations where a non-dues paying bargaining unit employee claims disparate treatment from that received by dues paying union members. In other words, an employee alleges he/she was treated differently just because they were not union members.

  • Stop holding your breath Kurt. I think that’s unfair. I also think it’s unfair to require non-union employees to fork over even a minimal of funds to the union.

    OK. And the labor movement is happy to concurrently do away with both. The Chamber of Commerce and the GOP is not. I appreciate your kindness. Can you advise me about how we can get the great majority of conservatives who have taken up your viewpoint to move on this?

    Again, you’re either missing the point or dodging.

    The law is clear that Wisconsin unions can’t use dues money for political activities. If you are aware of a violation of the law, I think you should report it to the Wisconsin AG.

  • Within the past twenty years there were tens of thousands of private sector employees just like myself who, after many years on the job and been given our “outstanding service” plaques, were regrettably “downsized” out of a job because our companies or subsidiaries could no longer “afford” us. It was simply and necessarily the right fiscal move to keep the company profitable for the stockholders.
    Why in heavens name can’t the state of Wisconsin or any other enterprise with responsibility to those who fund their operations use the same logic to maintain its solvency without being looked upon as villains?
    Also, I feel certain that not any one of the people I have referred to was promised a job for life and were free to terminate their employment when ever we wished.

  • Humphrey V. Moore looks to be about the union being required to represent everyone when they’re the only ones allowed to represent anyone, and MacKnight v. Leonard Morse Hospital has no mention of union membership in it.
    (The case seems to be about a really bad nurse throwing a fit about the person who represented her deciding, after the case was done, that she really shouldn’t be a nurse.)

    The only link between MacKnight and membership in a union I could find was a statement in this document, as some sort of afterthought to mentioning that grievance representations have to be materially deficient to be actionable.

    The text you quoted boils down to: “When the union is the only one allowed to represent anyone, they have to represent non-union members, too.”

    Or:
    FLRA.gov
    Basically, an exclusive representative may not treat non-union members differently than dues paying union members in matters over which the union has exclusive control. Thus, the duty not to discriminate based on union membership attaches only when an employee has no right to choose a representative other than the union to represent the employee in the underlying dispute. In situations where an employee may choose a representative other than the exclusive representative, such as in a proceeding before the Merit Systems Protection Board or in litigation in a U.S. District Court, the exclusive representative may discriminate between dues paying members and non-members and thus may lawfully treat employees differently on the basis of whether or not they pay dues and belong to the union. Since the union in such situations does not have exclusive representation authority, the employees who are not union members may protect their interests by selecting representation from other sources. Thus, the Authority has held that an exclusive representative’s responsibilities will be analyzed “in the context of whether or not the union’s representational activities on behalf of employees are grounded in the union’s authority to act as exclusive representative.”

    So you’re not required to give non-members service equal to what you’d give union members, unless they’re barred from getting that service themselves.

    I can see why folks would object if the unions didn’t give up all exclusive representation rights– that is, if it wasn’t made so that non-union members aren’t bound by union deals. Without having the data about the lawsuit on hand, and not being able to find it without better details, I’m not prone to think well of the unions.

    Can you advise me about how we can get the great majority of conservatives who have taken up your viewpoint to move on this?

    Why try to get ‘conservatives’ to do it, when you could try to get the unions to work for it? Be a good thing– get them off of abortion, birth control, etc.
    Could even make a nice big national campaign out of it- “True Freedom! Freeing those who want no union from being bound by union deals, freeing unions from responsibility to those who don’t want to join!”

    The law is clear that Wisconsin unions can’t use dues money for political activities.

    I believe you mean partisan political activities. Same way that ACORN isn’t allowed to be partisan– and we all believe that, right?

  • OK. And the labor movement is happy to concurrently do away with both. The Chamber of Commerce and the GOP is not. I appreciate your kindness. Can you advise me about how we can get the great majority of conservatives who have taken up your viewpoint to move on this?

    My guess is, you’d find that the vast majority of conservatives have no interest in continuing this — after all many conservatives don’t want there to be unions at all, so they could hardly want unions to be representing non-union members. The reason folks like the Chamber of Commerce would oppose changing this is, I would imagine, that one of the benefits a company would be considering in forming an agreement with a union would be that they can now push off a lot of their HR work on the union. If the union is relieved of this responsibility, this effectively increase’s the company’s costs. So they aren’t going to want to let unions off the hook without renegotiating on terms more favorable to them. However, if unions never wanted to have to represent these folks anyway, I’m sure they should be happy to agree.

    If conservatives aren’t leading the charge on this, it’s probably because they either don’t know about it or are busy trying to relieve unions of other responsibilities.

    The law is clear that Wisconsin unions can’t use dues money for political activities. If you are aware of a violation of the law, I think you should report it to the Wisconsin AG.

    Forgive me, but I get the sense that we’re getting answers here which are true but not actually answering the question asked. Anyone who reads the paper knows that union money is a big factor (almost always on the progressive side of the aisle) in elections. Now, it’s possible that all of this is voluntarily given PAC money from happy union members — after all the NRA is an election heavyweight and all its money is collected from voluntarily paying members — but I must admit that given that virtually all the actual union members I know are unwilling members who have been forced to join by union shop agreements, I find it a little hard to believe that PAC donations are the sole source of all the union money at play in elections.

    Now it’s possible that:

    a) This is somehow different in Wisconsin than in much of the rest of the country or
    b) You’re telling us things that are true but not actually answering the questions we’re asking.

    How do I get this idea about union money in elections? Well, a quick google search returned this as the number one result:

    Two top newspapers are examining two of the top spenders in this year’s campaigns. The Wall Street Journal says the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees is the no. 1 independent spender. The New York Times delves into public records to identify corporations that are helping to fund policy battles and record campaign spending by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

    According to the Journal, AFSCME is spending $87.5 million — more than anyone else, but the title could be temporary depending on what happens in the next 10 days. The union’s money comes from dues paid by its 1.6 million members.

    So, is Politics Daily lying or mistaken, or is it in fact common practice for dues money to go to political purposes? In this case, Labor apparently out-spent the Chamber of Commerce, which suggests some pretty solidly deep pockets.

    And here’s the Daily Beast saying the same thing even more explicitly:

    Team Obama’s message in the closing weeks of the campaign was completely eclipsed Friday by a union official who openly boasted in a story reported by The Wall Street Journal: “We don’t like to brag,” but “we’re the big dog” when it comes to campaign funding.

    Big as in $87.5 million. Big as in the biggest spender of any outside group—all meant to protect the interests of unions, the new “privileged class.” But wait a minute: Team O led us to believe that honor went to the vilified U.S. Chamber of Commerce and all of its alleged contributions from “foreign money” sponsors.

    A record $87.5 million has been spent by one union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, to elect Democrats. Paid not by voluntary contribution from its members, but by forced union dues from workers—who are paid by taxpayers.

  • My guess is, you’d find that the vast majority of conservatives have no interest in continuing this

    Well, we have a situation in which labor has an offer on the table to abolish. And we have your assertion (which I will accept) that most rank and file conservatives would accept labor’s offer. And we have the reality that the Chamber of Commerce and the GOP are blocking abolishing this situation.

    Where this leads me is that once again rank and file conservatives are dupes for Big Business and the Republican establishment. We have conservative politicans blocking the way for what labor and informed rank and file conservatives see as the right path. And we have scads of conservatives (as any google search will show) who rail against the unuon shop while are blind to DFR obligations of unions.

  • I don’t think that conservatives are particularly “dupes” in this regard, they just don’t translate their thinking into the particular actions which would be most helpful to labor. They’re a lot more interested in getting unions out entirely than in relieving them of their obligations to non-union workers in an open shop.

    Of course, what I’d be much more interested in is your response to the question about election spending and union dues.

  • I don’t think that conservatives are particularly “dupes” in this regard, they just don’t translate their thinking into the particular actions which would be most helpful to labor. They’re a lot more interested in getting unions out entirely

    I appreciate that. It’s not hard to say: “I’m against labor unions I want to get rid of them entirely.”

    I obviously disagree with that view, but I appreciate it much better than those who pretend they are not against organized labor, just raise a myriad of particular objections.

  • It’s a matter of simplicity. If you don’t want to have to join a union or have a union dictating the terms of your employment, it takes very little knowledge of labor law to simply oppose having a union around your workplace at all. It takes rather more to get into the fine points of advocating a labor law change that would allow a union to represent some of your coworkers but not you.

    This doesn’t necessarily indicate an opposition to organized labor in principle, though it might, just a dislike for what it is in the US at this time.

    And speaking of fine points — I notice that all of a sudden you’re willing to respond to any topic other than union dues being used for political advocacy. Should we take that as an admission that although what you said earlier may have been technically true in some sense, that it is in fact standard practice for dues to be used for political purposes?

  • I understand the hostility of the idea of non-supervisory workers of a common trade or profession making collective, democratic decisions about desired terms and conditions of employment and then negotiating with the employer over those terms and condition rather than the belief that bosses and the Blessed Mother are preserved from Original Sin and therefore incapable of doing wrong, and therefore the bosses dictating the terms of employment is perfectly fine.

    On political action, your issue is that you think the legal definition of political campaign activity is lax. I am happy to support a more strigent definition in law. I’m not willing to support an initative that applies different standards to groups I dislike and groups I like. I’m even less willing to agree at a different standard for groups YOU like and dislike.

  • On political action, your issue is that you think the legal definition of political campaign activity is lax.

    No, we just notice that 1) there is a lot of money, and 2) it’s going in a pretty uniform direction.

    I know I’d much rather trust in myself and a “boss” than a democratic group I was forced to join. “Democracy” becomes “mob rule” rather easily. (Ask a sheep having a nice, democratic vote with two wolves on what to have for dinner.)

  • “And rather than constantly reading from conservatives attacks on unions for the union shop, should I have any hope that these attacks would be retired…”

    Actually, we should look at rather unions, as they are currently constructed (particularly in Wisconsin,) are in accord with Catholic Social teaching. As the bishop of Madison noted in his letter, and contra the distorted post on Vox Nova, Catholics may licitly disagree. Actually a very good position for Catholics to support the Gov. of Wisconsin and reform disordered unions.

  • “I understand the hostility of the idea of non-supervisory workers of a common trade or profession making collective, democratic decisions about desired terms and conditions of employment and then negotiating with the employer over those terms and condition rather than the belief that bosses and the Blessed Mother are preserved from Original Sin and therefore incapable of doing wrong..,”

    The problem comes in when union bosses, who are also possessed of Original Sin, distort the purpose of a union and become an arm of a political party. Particularly when it acts contra the common good.

  • Kurt,

    I understand the hostility of the idea of non-supervisory workers of a common trade or profession making collective, democratic decisions about desired terms and conditions of employment and then negotiating with the employer over those terms and condition rather than the belief that bosses and the Blessed Mother are preserved from Original Sin and therefore incapable of doing wrong, and therefore the bosses dictating the terms of employment is perfectly fine.

    Oh come now, there’s no need to get all melodramatic about it.

    I don’t dislike unions because I think bosses are somehow preserved from original sin — like everyone else I’ve had good bosses and bad bosses. (Recently I had one so stupid I up and left the company — for which I should probably thank him since the new job he encouraged me to find pays a lot more.)

    I the reason I dislike unions is because:

    a) They seem permanently wedded to a set of ideas in the political arena (e.g. the Democratic Party) which I think is destructive at best and at times evil, and

    b) All of the interactions I and my personal friends and families have had with unions have been negative, and left me to feel that their primary purpose is to cause people to obsess over trying to do as little real work as possible.

    If my experiences had been different, I might feel very differently about unions. (Given that you work for unions, I would assume your experiences, or at least interests, have been the opposite.) But my experiences have in fact been quite negative, and thus so are my opinions.

    On political action, your issue is that you think the legal definition of political campaign activity is lax. I am happy to support a more strigent definition in law. I’m not willing to support an initative that applies different standards to groups I dislike and groups I like. I’m even less willing to agree at a different standard for groups YOU like and dislike.

    No, I don’t think that the legal definition of campaign activity is too lax. I have no problem with the unions, the chamber of commerce, the NRA, and indeed large corporations themselves spending large amounts of money in elections. (In this sense, it strikes me that Citizens United was simply leveling the playing field a bit.)

    However, given that I see no problem with unions spending their dues money on political activism, and given that I think they almost universally support bad policies when they spend their campaign funds, you can hardly be surprised if I am against expanding union membership, especially through the coercion of union shops. Less union dues means less money spend on policies I think are bad, so given that unions advocate policies I think are bad, it naturally follows that I want to see them both small and weak.

  • (Ask a sheep having a nice, democratic vote with two wolves on what to have for dinner.)

    And there you have it. Most workers are wolves. And therefore allowing worker organization and allowing them to make democratic decisions is to empower wolves.

    The problem comes in when union [elected leaders], who are also possessed of Original Sin, distort the purpose of a union and become an arm of a political party.

    Except it is not a distortion of a labor unions to give workers and worker issues a voice in politics. Your problem is that you simply don’t like the political choices non-supervisiory workers make.

  • *snort* Thanks for the jumping to conclusions. Are most people going to beat you up and take your wallet? Do you thus assume that any large group of people have your best interests at heart?

    Do you make the flatly insane assumption that they have the same goals as you?

    Does the concept of people disagreeing with you and not being either stupid or evil even come to mind, Kurt?

  • Except it is not a distortion of a labor unions to give workers and worker issues a voice in politics. Your problem is that you simply don’t like the political choices non-supervisiory workers make.

    A false dichotomy and part of the union mentality and short sightedness many of us reject. There’s an assumption that all non-supervisory citizens are in one camp, but that clearly isn’t so. I am from blue collar stock, having worked so for 25 years and have never agreed with the political choices of the unions. Nor have I found uniform approval of the same from union employees. Most seem apathetic to the union’s political work and some even despise it. I also do not find anything monolithic about the politics of people who are supervisors.

    To make matters worse, it’s not really non-supervisor workers making those political decisions, it’s essentially supervisors and administrators of large national corporations making them. Kind of ironic when you think about it.

  • It occurs to me that unions have the power to remove their responsibilities to non-members already in their hands– they only have responsibility where they have exclusivity.

    If they gave up exclusivity, they’d no longer have a responsibility to non-union members. No need to worry about the Chamber of Commerce or the current administration, and frankly I think that would satisfy most of the folks here, as well– a fully voluntary group that only has effect on its members? Sounds good to me.

    Perhaps they’d have to make sure their members were able to go via other routes as well to be fully “non-exclusive”.

  • “Except it is not a distortion of a labor unions to give workers and worker issues a voice in politics. Your problem is that you simply don’t like the political choices non-supervisiory workers make.”

    As many have noted, many workers do not agree with the political decisions of some other union workers and their union bosses. But again, its that many unions have become a political arm of the Democratic Party that is of concern. As noted, this is contrary to Catholic Social teaching.

  • Your problem is that you simply don’t like the political choices non-supervisiory workers make.

    I take it you have never worked in higher education, Kurt.

  • There’s an assumption that all non-supervisory citizens are in one camp, but that clearly isn’t so. I am from blue collar stock, having worked so for 25 years and have never agreed with the political choices of the unions. Nor have I found uniform approval of the same from union employees. Most seem apathetic to the union’s political work and some even despise it.

    In my work with unions, I have found 95% of our members support the political choices the membership makes. And the remaining 5% dissents to the Left.

    American unions are in full accord with Catholic Social Teaching on their political independence. We pursue the agenda our members direct us on workplace issues and support the candidates who support us.

    It occurs to me that unions have the power to remove their responsibilities to non-members already in their hands– they only have responsibility where they have exclusivity

    The issue of exclusivity is a demand of management, not labor. Management does not want to deal with multiple unions among the same unit of workers, therefore has seen that the law is written to have a single (or exclusive) representative rather than the possibility of multiple representatives.

  • The issue of exclusivity is a demand of management, not labor. Management does not want to deal with multiple unions among the same unit of workers, therefore has seen that the law is written to have a single (or exclusive) representative rather than the possibility of multiple representatives.

    Doesn’t change that it’s a matter the unions can deal with, rather than trying to get others to do it for them.

  • “American unions are in full accord with Catholic Social Teaching on their political independence. We pursue the agenda our members direct us on workplace issues and support the candidates who support us. ”

    That’s already debatable as Unions are not to be a “partisan arm”

    I think others have also shown that it is less than 95% who support the politics of the Unions. If I recall, when NY State stopped collecting dues for the public employees, 90% of members stopped paying. Now perhaps they were that 5% who were to the left of the union and were voicing protest. But I doubt it.

  • Here where a union, acting contrary to CST and the majority of its union members. Of course acting as an arm of the Democratic Party:

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=100339693

  • Doesn’t change that it’s a matter the unions can deal with, rather than trying to get others to do it for them.

    Its written into the law. Therefore a change of law would be needed.

    That’s already debatable as Unions are not to be a “partisan arm”>

    And they are not a partisan arm. The Democratic Party has no control over unions.

    I think others have also shown that it is less than 95% who support the politics of the Unions.

    Absolutely no evidence to that. Now, when it comes to shareholder in a corporation, there you have a case.

  • “Absolutely no evidence to that. Now, when it comes to shareholder in a corporation, there you have a case.”

    Didn’t read the link, did ya?

  • Unlike shareholders, who are denied any right to have a say about political use of their money, union members have the right to go to a local union meeting, speak their mind, make motions and vote on them, and elect their leaders. In all the union elections I’ve observed, I can’t recall a single winning candidate who promised to do less on political action. Sorry, you are out of touch on that one.

  • Kurt,

    Well, that’s kind of a no brainer due to selection bias. Given that unions are invariably run by Democratic Party activists, people who don’t like the party are generally going to grudgingly surrender their mandatory dues and ignore all the political junk mail they get from their unions, not show up to meetings where they’ll only be ignored and disliked.

  • “Sorry, you are out of touch on that one.”

    Still didn’t read the link. Not an anectdote like you present, but a survey. More powerful statistically than an anecdote.

  • DC,

    I gotta say you are clueless about unions, and I’m increasingly convinced clueless about blue collar Americans. I would say about 1/3rd of union officers are Republicans, and know it for fact regarding some particular unions that have done surveys.

  • (an aside: First time to this site and based on the caliber of this discussion I can promise you I’ll be coming back to read more. Mature, informed, engaged dialogue… that’s rare.)

    There are a number of issues covered above but I’ll try to comment on just a few. Full disclosure, I work for a non-union professional employee association.

    –Regarding the political agenda of the union:

    Although I’m in agreement with everyone’s (sans Kurt) general impression of the union being effectively an arm of the Democratic Party, it is not enough to just have an impression. But the facts are that public employee unions (I’ll use the NEA as an example) fund left-leaning political causes, ballot initiatives, and indirectly support the efforts of left-leaning campaigns. [http://teachersunionexposed.com/dues.cfm]
    (I apologize for not having a more neutral source, but the assertions and data listed on this page are valid.)

    The union can and does spend dues on politics (I believe the NEA will spend $20 per member from dues on political activism). They cannot fund elections or campaigns unless they’re operating through a PAC (for which dues are “voluntary”, more on that later), but they can and do fund ballot initiatives (the teachers union is the largest supporter of tax increasing ballot initiatives), non-profit liberal organizations, advertisements that technically obey campaign finance laws, etc. And those are just the legal means. They also, via other channels, such as their PAC, are heavily involved in elections, GOTV efforts, and campaign ads. Few will argue that the unions are a major political force and that their agenda leans overwhelmingly to the left, but it is true that deducing whether or not dues ends up supporting the agenda is hard to determine (for us and for the dues-paying members). Many Catholic public school teachers become religious objectors regarding compulsory union dues to prevent any money from ending up supporting abortion or other fundamental issues (religious objectors see 100% of their dues go to a mutually agreed-upon charity).

    –As to Kurt’s claim of 95% support, the facts tell a different story (Kurt is actually better informed than most union supporters with whom I debate, although we disagree on this assertion):

    Non-union association supporters push “paycheck protection” laws, which takes the government out of the role of collecting monies via payroll deduction for political activity. In other words, the government isn’t spending taxpayer dollars to process heretofore opt-out political contributions. When states pass these laws, the teachers unions saw their ‘voluntary contributions’ plummet by 85%-90%. Suddenly when teachers were required to opt-in, very few were interested. Paycheck protection laws are moving forward in Alabama and Florida now.

    Not to mention, when 90% plus of the PAC money goes to one party, but more than half of your membership belongs to another party or is independent (not to mention those who are apathetic to politics), it can’t be true that the membership supports the political agenda of their association, especially those who are forced to pay dues (non-right to work states) or those whose states do not yet have paycheck protection laws. Perhaps Kurt is referring to the NEA’s representative assembly. 95% is still high, but we can certainly agree that a majority of those who attend the RA vote to create the political agenda of the NEA. That doesn’t mean that union members necessarily supported those conclusions. The equivalent would be to say that most Americans support pay increases for their legislators because the legislators voted for pay increases and Americans voted for the legislators. The transitive properties don’t quite work in a representative government.

    –Forced unionism:

    The right to association means that government should not prevent me from freely associating–and I also shouldn’t be forced to associate. Union shop supporters can parse words about who is a “member” (those who become “agency fee” payers are beholden to their contract whether they like it or not, but the lose the right to vote on the contract, union elections, attend meetings, liability insurance, discounts, etc.–even though they often pay 85% or more of the dues of a full member) but the truth is the employees are forced to pay dues to a union as a condition of employment. That is un-American. And I will equally defend the right of an individual to join a union as the right of an individual to work a job without joining the union.

    Kurt’s note about the unions wanting to end the union shop in exchange for not protecting non-members intrigues me. Right to work states do end the union shop, although collective bargaining agreements do represent all employees of a certain class (so a teacher in Kansas is beholden to the contract even if they never pay a penny of union dues or ever joined). Although non-members’ rights are limited, the union is technically required to serve those employees per the contract. If they end that obligation, are they expecting to get more dues from the right to work states “free riders” (their word) than they’ll lose from the folks in previously non-right to work states leaving the contract? I don’t think they’re that foolish but I would like to hear more, Kurt, if you can point me to some links.

  • Few will argue that the unions are a major political force and that their agenda leans overwhelmingly to the left,

    I won’t argue it. I would agrue that support for workers defines the left. Everything else sometimes associated with the left — environmentalism, abortion rights, gun control — is secondary and non-essential.

    When states pass these laws, the teachers unions saw their ‘voluntary contributions’ plummet by 85%-90%. Suddenly when teachers were required to opt-in, very few were interested. Paycheck protection laws are moving forward in Alabama

    It passed in Alabama and already 87% of teachers have signed up for electronic payment from their bank accounts, by passing payroll deduction. Despite the logistical challenges of switching the entire union membership in one swoop, the union now thinks they may eventually reach 99%.

    Kinda shoots that theory all to heck.

    Many Catholic public school teachers become religious objectors regarding compulsory union dues …

    No Court has ever allowed Catholics to have a legally recognized religious objection to union dues because the Church’s Magisterium has refused all requests to testify on behalf of objecting individual Catholics.

    Beck objectors need not state a reason for their dues rebate, but Catholics are among the least likely to be among the 5% of workers who are Beck objectors.

    –As to Kurt’s claim of 95% support, the facts tell a different story

    What facts? Have you talked to 6% of the membership?

    Not to mention, when 90% plus of the PAC money goes to one party, but more than half of your membership belongs to another party or is independent (not to mention those who are apathetic to politics), it can’t be true that the membership supports the political agenda of their association

    The members of my union are 30% Republican, 45% Democratic, 25% Independent. In our most recent membership survey, 95% said the union should advocate for our members in political action based on union issues.

    Kurt’s note about the unions wanting to end the union shop in exchange for not protecting non-members intrigues me.

    Under current law, a union must give fair representation to everyone in a unit, be they union members or not. That means that a non-member can file a grivance and the union must represent him, fairly and equally as a dues paying union member even if it costs the union thousands and thousands of dollars to do so. If the union wins a case for back pay, the settlement agreement the union negotiates must apply equally to union and non-union members (I have been successfull in insisting as part of the settlement that rather than mail the back pay checks to the harmed workers, they are to be picked up in the union office. Sadly, even though the checks would have paid three years of dues, the free-riding skunks didn’t have a bit of shame walking in the union office to get their check).

    It has been management, not labor who has insisted that a union cannot just represent part of what management decides is a bargaining unit.

  • “No Court has ever allowed Catholics to have a legally recognized religious objection to union dues because the Church’s Magisterium has refused all requests to testify on behalf of objecting individual Catholics.

    Beck objectors need not state a reason for their dues rebate, but Catholics are among the least likely to be among the 5% of workers who are Beck objectors.”

    I direct you to Roesser v. University of Detroit & University of Detroit Professors Association/MEA/NEA. This article lists another case in NY:
    http://www.mackinac.org/2912. And there are more. In fact, many of the religious objectors I encounter are Catholic. Perhaps I just have an easier time spotting or connecting with Catholics, but that’s been my experience.

    Regardless, my point wasn’t that Catholics specifically object (just using an example since we’re on a Catholic website), but that the political positions of the union are radical enough for individuals of many faiths to forfeit benefits in order to see their money go to a charity rather than the union’s agenda (despite the union’s cooperation, per the examples above).

    In fact, my organization and many like it grow because of individuals fed up with the political positions of the union–especially those unrelated to the profession. They are absolutely not “secondary or non-essential”–but quite the contrary. They are at the core of what the union, at least the NEA, stands for in this country: more taxes and a liberal social agenda. I’m not saying they’re not allowed to do this, I believe strongly in the right to associate freely, but let’s all be adults and acknowledge that the unions are a major political force for the Left in this country. If I understand you correctly you are not disagreeing on this point.

    “The members of my union are 30% Republican, 45% Democratic, 25% Independent. In our most recent membership survey, 95% said the union should advocate for our members in political action based on union issues.”

    To be fair, you did qualify your claim of 95% support by noting that you are speaking exclusively to your work with unions (are you in a right-to-work state??). I can say that my experience with unions hasn’t been quite the opposite, but there are many who either don’t know what their union is doing politically, think (incorrectly) that their dues money is only for bargaining and benefits because they aren’t giving to the PAC, are afraid to speak up about their disagreements with the political positions of the union, are apathetic to politics, or are resolved to their fate because they think there are no options available to them. For those who are happy with the activity of their union, they should certainly remain members. For those who aren’t, they should be free to either pay for the legally exclusive benefits the union can provide, direct all of their dues to charity, or withdraw from the union and find another option for benefits and protection. Seems like the American thing to do, to let people choose. Others on this forum have provided examples of how the revelation that the union is working against the wishes of its own members has caused an uproar (e.g. Prop 8 in California) that don’t validate your claim (then again, California is not a right-to-work state…).

    Also, define “union issues”–does that mean 95% of your membership wants your union to support gun control? amnesty for illegal immigrants? off-shore drilling bans? gay marriage? abortion? stem cell research? or that 95% of your union wants the union to be an effective advocate for the profession…

    “It passed in Alabama and already 87% of teachers have signed up for electronic payment from their bank accounts, by passing payroll deduction. Despite the logistical challenges of switching the entire union membership in one swoop, the union now thinks they may eventually reach 99%.”

    I too was surprised at the 87% figure, seemed mighty fast to me. Either the union has learned how to react swiftly to such legislation, they were planning ahead for some time, or something isn’t adding up. They’re trying to block the legislation in court, so they must not be very close to 99% just yet. Regardless, those individuals are absolutely welcome to arrange for bank draft and continue to pay dues voluntarily. The state shouldn’t be in the role of collecting dues for political organizations. I consider it a success for America, whether union membership goes up, down, or stays the same as a result.

    More importantly, union members can more easily end their membership when they so choose. Too many union contracts prevent the school district from ending payroll deduction union dues except during predefined periods (as determined by the union). You can sign your name to a napkin to get in, but if you want to get out you need to turn in certified letter during 2 weeks of the year–the two weeks around July 4th! That’s criminal (the example is an NEA affiliate in a Right-to-Work state). My organization allows members to come and go as they please. We don’t need to lock the doors to keep people from leaving. The union will be even more accountable and responsive to their members if the members don’t have to wait another 11 months before they can save their money.

    “It has been management, not labor who has insisted that a union cannot just represent part of what management decides is a bargaining unit.”

    I understand your argument in favor of this agreement, although I would support the compromise for completely different reasons (because I predict a different outcome), but I asked for some links or evidence to management preventing this grand bargain (or of the unions supporting it). Two rational people such as you and I could come to an understanding on it, but that doesn’t mean our respective sides of the debate have any intention of doing so.

    It is right to conclude that you would support all states being right-to-work so long as those who are still in the union aren’t obligated to support those who choose not to be? Because on that, sir, we are in agreement.

    In closing, I stand behind my points. The unions support a radical political agenda, 95% of union members (particularly the involuntary members) are not in agreement with the agenda, and forced unionism (and forced dues) are wrong and should be ended. Seems you agree on the first and third points (granted not with my exact language) and on the second point I await your response.

  • Many Catholic public school teachers become religious objectors regarding compulsory union dues …I direct you to Roesser v. University of Detroit & University of Detroit Professors Association/MEA/NEA.

    University of Detroit is not a public school, it is a Catholic university. The Roesser case allowed him to only pay an agency fee, it did not give him a religious basis for exemption from all dues. I would note this solitary objector at a Catholic institution adds to my previous observation that the Church’s Magisterium has refused all pleas from anti-union litigants to testify on their behalf. I think the highest ranking cleric to testify in such as case was a Monsignor and USCCB department head in the 1980s who testified in favor of the union.

    Regardless, my point wasn’t that Catholics specifically object

    Okay, I think we are clear here. One need not state a reason for invoking Beck rights, as about 5% of b.u. workers do. A Baptist might be able to make a good case his personal understanding of the Bible requires him to quit the union. A Catholic (because our theology is different from the Baptists) has never successfully made the case his Church requires it, because his Church refuses to say so. Someday, you might find a judge who has a “Baptist” view of Catholicism who sides with such a litigant. But this is a side point.

    They are at the core of what the union, at least the NEA,

    Again, I notice conservative critics almost exclusively limit their discussion to the teacher unions. Citing as an example once or twice is understandable. But you do understand the inability to ever reference any other trade simply confirms with me and many others the opinion that even among “populist” conservatives, they are totally disconnected to Americans who work in a factory, mine, mill or machine shop. Personally, I think this is the basis of so much conservative hostility to labor. All rhetoric aside, they know they cannot even carry on a learned conversation about blue collar life and they are terrified that their political opponents have connections to large numbers of Americans with whom they are totally disconnected from.

    but that the political positions of the union are radical enough for individuals of many faiths to forfeit benefits

    5% for all reasons totaled — religious objectors, ideological objectors, cheap-os and social misfits.

    There is an argument for accommodating a dissenting majority, but conservatives have utterly failed at any evidence that the democratic processes used by unions (again, conservatives being incapable of speaking about any trade other than the teachers) to set their public policy agendas are not reflective of the membership.

    To be fair, you did qualify your claim of 95% support by noting that you are speaking exclusively to your work with unions (are you in a right-to-work state??).

    I cite my union as an example. I know of two other large unions that survey their members. Appropriately, they carefully phrased two questions to address the real issue (this was during the 2004 presidential race)– “If the election was held today would you vote for Bush or Kerry” (2:1 in favor of Kerry), and “Regardless of who you are voting for, which candidate has the better position on [steelworker] issues” (95% Kerry).

    I can say that my experience with unions hasn’t been quite the opposite,… An experience that I have not seen extends to factory workers, mineworkers, mill workers, truck drivers or machine shop workers

    Also, define “union issues”–does that mean 95% of your membership wants your union to support gun control? amnesty for illegal immigrants? off-shore drilling bans? gay marriage? abortion? stem cell research? or that 95% of your union wants the union to be an effective advocate for the profession

    Union issues are those the membership votes to be union issues at our National Convention, where any delegate can propose a resolution. However, my union has not taken a stand on any of those issues you mention nor have the great majority of labor unions (immigration reform might be the exception). On the other hand, I make no apologies for labor support for the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act. Martin Luther King said these laws would have never been enacted over the conservative opposition without labor and I agree here with Dr. King.

    On the other matter, I may not have been clear. To me, as a man of the Left, I hold what defines the Left is support for workers and economic justice. Other issues are not essential to the Left. If you think standing for workers is radical, well, that’s you.

    I too was surprised at the 87% figure

    Yeah. Kinda blows to heck one the conservative talking points. I’m sure Glenn Beck has some crazy response! 🙂

    They’re trying to block the legislation in court,

    They have been successful. The Republicans could have written a constitutional law that blocked any payroll deductions. Instead they singled out labor but left alone the United Way, softball league and anything else employees authorized. Banning union dues but leaving any other payroll deduction in place is a discriminatory law that has no place in a free society.

    My organization allows members to come and go as they please

    Really? What’s your membership and what’s the date of your annual meeting? I might know some guys (just enough to be a majority) who want to join for the one day the voting take place.

    It is right to conclude that you would support all states being right-to-work so long as those who are still in the union aren’t obligated to support those who choose not to be? Because on that, sir, we are in agreement.

    Yes, let a union organize and represent that part of a bargaining unit who wishes to be in the union. If you are in the union, you get the negotiated pay and benefits, any settlements, grievance representation, etc. In essence, the bargaining unit is redefined to include simply those workers who choose to be union members (this actually would not require any change in law if management would cooperate. While the NLRB settles labor – management disputes as to the boundaries of the bargaining unit, it is very rare they meddle if there is agreement between the two parties. )

    Professor Morris is the leading advocate of this, but since his book, there have been adverse rulings by the Labor Board in response to management objections.

    http://www.cornellpress.cornell.edu/cup_detail.taf?ti_id=4218

    I also would ask your support that the restriction on labor’s first amendment rights in the prohibition of secondary actions/boycotts be repealed. It would seem to me this should offend libertarian conservatives.

  • On religious objectors:

    It seems we are in agreement that some individuals are so opposed to the political positions of the union that because no other choice is available to them, they become agency fee payers or religious objectors. We disagree on the number that this figure represents (in particular because I don’t think we’re comparing apples to apples, but rather your experience with private sector unions, possibly in right to work states, with my experience with public sector unions, specifically the NEA, in non-right-to-work states), but the point is that (some of) the unions take strong positions on social issues, almost exclusively on the Left, that is not the desire of their members.

    On a side note, you (accidentally, I assume) combined two of my statements. I mentioned as an aside to my point (repeated above) that Catholic school teachers become religious objectors to avoid funding the radical agenda of the unions. You said no court recognizes the religious objector rights of Catholics (not just teachers). I quickly searched for linkable examples and found two, one of which happens to be in education (also one was private sector, one public), but certainly wasn’t limiting myself to teachers in response to your broad comment. In fairness, it was my error for not making time to read the decisions themselves, I trusted lines in articles referring to the cases that they “upheld the Title VII rights” of the employee. The latter example (the link) was a public sector Catholic employee allowed to send his money to charity. It does happen, although it shouldn’t even be necessary to become an objector but rather just leave the union if they take a position that is against any of your beliefs, religious or otherwise.

    But we’re starting to go in circles when in the end we do agree that individuals who want to be in a union and be represented by that union should have the right to do so, while others should be able to negotiate their own terms of employment and join any other association. I can understand, after having done some reading, why employers don’t want to have to negotiate with numerous unions, since each negotiation would work off of the last agreement, etc. I can explain what I’m saying but I have other points to get to.

    On your union:

    You’ve yet to answer me, are you in a right-to-work state? Ideological cohesion is much easier when you run a voluntary group, I’ll concede. I deal with many, however, who do not have a choice.

    On public versus private unions:

    First, this blog article is about public employee unions, so although I concede that I can always be more clear, I was assuming we’re talking about public employee unions all along.

    I see a fundamental difference between public employee unions and private employee unions. In fact, many in my family are voluntary members of private employee unions. Private employees negotiate with private employers over the share of profits they create together. I have no problem with that. If the owners don’t make reasonable offers, they have no workers to run the mines, factories, shipping, etc. If the workers don’t accept reasonable offers, they’ll put the company out of business (unless of course the US government steps in and hands you shares of the company while trampling the rights of shareholders). That equilibrium is fair (minus the bailout). I may have concerns about specifics (not a fan of “card check”; no tolerance for owners mistreating workers; workplace safety is paramount) but the system will balance itself with those two forces naturally in check.

    On the other hand, public employee unions negotiate with elected officials that they helped elect! And the “profits” they decide on is our tax dollars. Public employee unions pass laws that favor the growth and power of the public employee unions, which they use to pass more laws. They also fight laws that would increase accountability for the jobs that they do. This is a vicious cycle. There is no balance or equilibrium. The elected local and state officials, without tax dollars, are extorted by the public employee unions for more and more in benefits. It is both criminal to demand more than the municipality can pay, and criminal for the municipality to promise what they can’t provide. It is unfair to the workers (public and private) and to the taxpayer.

    On the NEA:

    The National Education Association is the largest labor union in the country. It is also tremendously important in lobbying, elections and campaigns, and forwarding the agenda of the Democratic Party (almost exclusively). It is also the union on which I know the most. So aside from the key difference between public and private, made above (in sum, I have few complaints about private employee unions, particularly those with dangerous working conditions), the NEA is a prime example of how unions behave in this country. It is not the only example, and I’m sorry if their actions reflect poorly on you or overshadow what your union does, but take that up with the NEA. The SEIU doesn’t exactly sit out political battles either, nor does AFSCME. FYI, those are the three largest labor unions in the country.

    In fact, I would love to see some private employee unions insist that the public employee unions not conflate these two very different groups. School teachers demanding not to pay any of their health insurance premiums is not the same as coal miners demanding some reasonable safety measures be put in place to save lives. Unions thrive on solidarity but at some point there are some in the labor movement in cushy offices standing on the backs of truck drivers and factory workers–raising taxes on those same labor brethren to boost their own pensions and retire at 60.

    On VRA and CRA of the ’60s:

    Not sure which “conservatives” MLK is referring to, but the votes were much more accurately a battle between North and South. For example, the Republican Party voted in greater percentages for both laws than the Democrats. I would agree that without labor, those acts might not have been able to overcome “traditionalists” opposition (as they referred to themselves), but labor wasn’t alone in that fight and didn’t include many of the public employee unions.

    Also, I do not think “standing with workers” is radical, in fact, that is the job of the union. What is radical is the agenda unrelated to labor or the profession that the union represents. Why would the NEA even have an opinion on Native Hawaiian lands, nursing homes, veterans’ benefits? The answer is that the NEA is an incredibly powerful political force and the liberal agenda will try to use whichever tools are at its disposal (no different than any other agenda). The NEA Legislative Agenda is to the Left of the Democratic Party.

    On Alabama:

    Time will tell what the effects of the law is. But like I said, regarding those laws, if they are fair (exceptions to these laws always concern me, as they do you), then it doesn’t matter how many people leave or join the union afterward, just that they have the choice.

    Glenn Beck always has something crazy to say. I choose not to listen.

    Speaking of crazy, very funny on the “annual meeting.” Tell your friends we hold our annual meeting 90 miles south of Key West, Florida.

    Can you elaborate on the amendment rights to which you are referring? Is your union prohibited from organizing a boycott?

  • It seems we are in agreement that some individuals are so opposed to the political positions of the union that because no other choice is available to them, they become agency fee payers or religious objectors.

    Okay, some individuals. And the choice of going to the union meeting and making a motion to reverse the union’s position on the objectional issue is not a choice they have because the hold a minority viewpoint in the union. Being in the minority doesn’t mean one is wrong, it just means they are at a disadvantage in a democratic organization.

    On a side note, you (accidentally, I assume) combined two of my statements. I mentioned as an aside to my point (repeated above) that Catholic school teachers become religious objectors to avoid funding the radical agenda of the unions. You said no court recognizes the religious objector rights of Catholics (not just teachers). I quickly searched for linkable examples and found two, one of which happens to be in education

    Sorry if I mis-edited your comments. I was just trying to condense the discussion. I’m using the term “religious objector” strictly. Just like a Quaker or member of another Peace Church is legally recognized as a religious objector to war, while a Catholic might as an individual object to all war, but the state does not recognize Catholicism as a peace church.

    My reading of the links was that the individuals were not granted a religious exemption from payment of all dues, but allowed a Beck rebate. The person received no support from the Catholic Church as to his opinion.

    while others should be able to negotiate their own terms of employment

    You are going even farther than I am. I have not spoken on what rights non-union members should have. I will note the great majority of blue collar/non-supervisory workers in non-union workplaces are never allowed to even speak with someone who has work terms negotiating authority.

    Are you suggesting that in non-union settings, a job applicant/new hire be given the (currently non-existant) right to actually meet with someone who has the authority to negotiate wages, benefits and other terms of employment? While maybe not unusual for highly skilled professionals, this would be a very radical change for most blue collar workers.

    You’ve yet to answer me, are you in a right-to-work state?

    Nope.

    Not sure which “conservatives” MLK is referring to

    Probably William F. Buckley (Sharon, CT) and Barry Goldwater (Phoenix, AZ).

    Labor was not alone on the liberal side of the great civil rights debates, but I do agree with Dr. King that it was essential to victory and the most effective grassroots organization. A side note, bowling was an entirely segregated sport until the UAW organized the first mixed race bowling leagues. They gave courage for the next group to follow, the CYO.

    Dr. King was killed in Memphis while he was there in support of the AFSCME strike.

    On Alabama:

    Time will tell what the effects of the law is. But like I said, regarding those laws, if they are fair (exceptions to these laws always concern me, as they do you), then it doesn’t matter how many people leave or join the union afterward, just that they have the choice.

    I don’t see how you can be on the fence that Alabama is fair. It is an open shop state. Teachers are allowed to authorize all sorts of deductions from their paychecks like United Way, etc. The Republicans singled out labor unions. The Courts have wisely ruled this is discrimination, as it is.

    Glenn Beck always has something crazy to say. I choose not to listen.

    You are a wise person.

    Can you elaborate on the amendment rights to which you are referring? Is your union prohibited from organizing a boycott?

    Yes. Under federal law it is illegal for a labor union to support in any way a secondary boycott and the Republicans are trying to toughen this law so that any secondary action is covered. Isn’t freedom of speech a First Amendment right?

  • Kurt, I hope you are not still holding your breath. Get the government out of labor. The First Amendment, if taken seriously, demands it. If the free association clause of The First Amendment is to have any meaning at all it should mean that the government is to pass no laws that limit the right of the individual to associate himself with any group, that would have him as a member, and to peaceably advocate for any position he chooses. Regulating a thousand and one exceptions to the First Amendment by implementing laws that tell unions, employees and owners what they can and cannot peaceably do is an anathema to freedom. Republicans and Democrats may seem disagree over what is right or wrong, but they both agree strongly that the government should pick the winners and losers in most any contest. Each faction claims the mantle of freedom but they both want to use the power of the state to control the agenda and each invariably demands that the power of the state be applied to secure the victory of their own side.

  • Martin,

    You have a very good point. This is exactly what Lane Kirkland suggested back when he was President of the AFL-CIO and as far as I know, the offer is still on the table. I can understand, particularly in the past, how the view was taken that labor strife and work stoppages and strikes and secondary boycotts/hot cargo issues drew labor, management and the public to the conclusion that some rules of the game were needed to lessen economic disruption. But the rules have been totally tilted towards the bosses.

    We need to take up the Kirkland offer and just make it an open field. Let labor play hardball as much as it can and see what it gets. No business has to by law recognize a union or allow a NLRB certified election. Labor in turn can use whatever tactic it wills to advance its interests — closed shop, secondary boycott, strikes, hot cargo, political action, shareholder activism, etc.

    I will admit this will probably advantage the skilled trades more than unskilled labor, so its not perfect.

The Day Lincoln Jumped Out A Window

Thursday, February 24, AD 2011

The news is currently filled with reports of Democrat state senators from Wisconsin on the lam in my home state of Illinois in an attempt to prevent a quorum in the Wisconsin state senate and stall action on Governor Scott Walker’s public employees union bill.  Fleeing from a legislative chamber to prevent a quorum from being formed and stall legislation is a tactic probably as old as legislative chambers.  In 1841 Illinois Representative Abraham Lincoln was involved in such an attempt.

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2 Responses to The Day Lincoln Jumped Out A Window

  • Hey Donald, what’s your favorite Lincoln biography? Or the best place for a neophyte to start? With so many options, I could use the guidance.

  • Francis my favorite Lincoln biography is the multivolume one done many decades ago by Illinois poet Carl Sandburg. He is not the most accurate biographer of Lincoln, and his research was long ago superceded, but he gets to the the heart of Lincoln better than any other biographer I can think of.

    http://www.amazon.com/Abraham-Lincoln-Prairie-Years-War/dp/0156027526/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1299020667&sr=8-1

    Another poet’s take on Lincoln is in Stephen Vincent Benet’s epic poem on the Civil War John Brown’s Body:

    “Lincoln, six feet one in his stocking feet,
    The lank man, knotty and tough as a hickory rail,
    Whose hands were always too big for white-kid gloves,
    Whose wit was a coonskin sack of dry, tall tales,
    Whose weathered face was homely as a plowed field–
    Abraham Lincoln, who padded up and down
    The sacred White House in nightshirt and carpet-slippers,
    And yet could strike young hero-worshipping Hay
    As dignified past any neat, balanced, fine
    Plutarchan sentences carved in a Latin bronze;
    The low clown out of the prairies, the ape-buffoon,
    The small-town lawyer, the crude small-time politician,
    State-character but comparative failure at forty
    In spite of ambition enough for twenty Caesars,
    Honesty rare as a man without self-pity,
    Kindness as large and plain as a prairie wind,
    And a self-confidence like an iron bar:
    This Lincoln, President now by the grace of luck,
    Disunion, politics, Douglas and a few speeches
    Which make the monumental booming of Webster
    Sound empty as the belly of a burst drum,
    Lincoln shambled in to the Cabinet meeting
    And sat, ungainly and awkward. Seated so
    He did not seem so tall nor quite so strange
    Though he was strange enough. His new broadcloth suit
    Felt tight and formal across his big shoulders still
    And his new shiny top-hat was not yet battered
    To the bulging shape of the old familiar hat
    He’d worn at Springfield, stuffed with its hoard of papers.
    He was pretty tired. All week the office-seekers
    Had plagued him as the flies in fly-time plague
    A gaunt-headed, patient horse. The children weren’t well
    And Mollie was worried about them so sharp with her tongue.
    But he knew Mollie and tried to let it go by.
    Men tracked dirt in the house and women liked carpets.
    Each had a piece of the right, that was all most people could
    stand.”

    http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks07/0700461.txt

Death Comes For The Brigadier

Wednesday, February 23, AD 2011

A sad day for Dr. Who fans everywhere.  Nicholas Courtney, who brilliantly portrayed the Brigadier in over 100 Dr. Who episodes, has died at age 81 of cancer:

Nicholas Courtney (born William Nicholas Stone Courtney on 16th December 1929) played first Colonel and then Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, beginning in “The Web of Fear” and finally in “Battlefield”. He reprised the role for the fan video “Downtime” (later adapted into one of the Virgin Missing Adventures), and for several audio dramas for the BBC and Big Finish Productions.

He was born in Cairo, Egypt, the son of a British diplomat and educated in France, Kenya and Egypt. He served his National Service in the British Army, leaving after 18 months as a private, not wanting to pursue a military career. He next joined the Webber Douglas drama school, and after two years began doing repertory theatre in Northampton, and from there moved to London.

His first appearance in Doctor Who was in the 1965 serial The Daleks’ Master Plan, where he played Space Security Agent Bret Vyon opposite William Hartnell as the Doctor. The director Douglas Camfield liked Courtney’s performance, and when Camfield was assigned the 1968 serial The Web of Fear, he cast Courtney as Captain Knight. However, David Langton, who was to play the character of Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart, gave up the role to work elsewhere, so Camfield recast Captain Knight and gave the Colonel’s part to Courtney instead.

Lethbridge-Stewart reappeared later that year in The Invasion, promoted to Brigadier and in charge of the British contingent of UNIT, an organization that protected the Earth from alien invasion. It was in that recurring role that he became most famous, appearing semi-regularly from 1970 to 1975. Courtney made return appearances in the series in 1983 and his last Doctor Who television appearance was in 1989 (in the serial Battlefield).

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5 Responses to Death Comes For The Brigadier

  • Donald – I always suspected you were a man of class and good taste. This post confirms it. To the TARDIS!!

  • Never trust a man or a woman Larry who doesn’t like at least one of the Doctors!

  • God rest his soul. Certainly, the years when the Brigadier was paired with Jonathan Pertwee and then Tom Baker were just about the best Dr. Who ever had.

  • DC,

    When I was a kid I lived in England and we only had three TV channels. Dr. Who was one of the best things on and since I lived there in the late 70s, I thought Tom Baker was the only Doctor. I even had a Dr. Who-like scarf that I wore on cold wet days, which on that little island is quite often.

    I can’t remember the last time I discussed Dr. Who with anyone because I am trying to hide my inner geek.

    Mr. McClarey, thanks for the memories.

    Since the geek is out. When I watch NCIS, I don’t recall Ducky from The Man From UNCLE, I remember him as Steel, from Sapphire and Steel. If any of you know about that series then you must be ultra geeks.

  • May God rest his soul.
    Tom Baker Doctor Who episodes are an enduring favorite for easygoing after-midnight entertainment. Nostalgic (for seventies kid), and most enjoyable.

Pro-Life Incrementalism is Working

Wednesday, February 23, AD 2011

Over at the Corner, Michael New draws attention to a recent op-ed by Frances Kissling of the oxymoronic group Catholics for a Free Choice:

In a column that appeared in last Friday’s Washington Post, Frances Kissling, who served as president of Catholics for a Free Choice, offers some advice for supporters of legal abortion. Kissling acknowledges that recent pro-life efforts — specifically our focus on fetal development and our efforts to pass incremental laws — have been effective in shifting public opinion in a pro-life direction. She acknowledges that supporters of legal abortion are now losing, and that the pro-choice arguments that were persuasive in the 1970s are no longer working today.

As a result, Kissling suggests a shift in strategy. Specifically, she urges her pro-choice allies to support some restrictions on late-term abortions. She states that supporters of abortion rights need to “firmly and clearly reject post-viability abortions, except in extreme cases.” She even says that abortions in the second trimester “need to be considered differently.” Kissling encourages an approach that would mandate counseling for women seeking abortion in these circumstances.

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12 Responses to Pro-Life Incrementalism is Working

  • BA,

    Well, obviously I disagree about the AZ bill.

    I think we are winning the battle for hearts and minds precisely because, at least until recently, we focused solely on abortion as murder. We did not focus excessively on demographics, nor did we adopt the dishonest strategies of the left. We instead crushed all of the self-serving and manifestly absurd arguments of the pro-abortion movement.

    That is why the debate shifted from “when does life begin” to “is it a person”, this is why the slogans shifted from “my body, my choice” to “abortion is a tragedy, a necessary evil.” We did this with the truth, not with sideshows and distractions.

    The rhetoric surrounding the AZ bill is ridiculous and absurd. Hardened Republicans making speeches about racism and sexism? It’s completely cynically and duplicitous. All anyone has to do is say, “fine, its not because I wanted a boy instead, its because I’m just not ready right now.” Who ever admits, openly, anyway, to getting an abortion for gender reasons in this country? How about race? No one admits this, and if they were asked, even if it were the true reason it would be denied.

    This is just idiocy.

    As I said elsewhere, though, I don’t reject incrementalism in total. Parental notification laws, informed consent laws, these are good things, because they don’t take the focus off the truth; they make the best of a bad situation, and they are actually enforceable, not empty gestures.

  • I am in favor of incrementalism since there is no other way forward at present. I think it diminishes the moral force of our argument not one whit. Lincoln could call for restricting slavery in the Territories while continuing to attack it as a complete evil.

    On the other hand, once pro-aborts admit that some abortions should be restricted or banned that weakens their argument immeasurably. The current abortion regime can only survive long term if it has a dedicated cohort willing to fight all out for it. Once they begin saying late term abortions are evil because they take human life, it starts a domino effect in our favor.

    The pro-life cause has many avenues of service of course. If some prefer a more head on approach that is fine. For myself I will support the baby steps now towards our ultimate goal of banning abortion and protecting all the unborn, and pray that the day will come in my lifetime when we can take great leaps.

  • I don’t think there is much convincing evidence to link incrementalism to the perception that the abortion industry is “losing.” Correlation, as we all know, does not equal causation. Here are some explanations that I find far more likely:

    a. As the article admits, the perceived shift is largely generational. Those of us under 40 are survivors. The knowledge that we had a 1 in 4 chance of getting wiped out by abortion is being reflected in public opinion.
    b. We young pro-lifers are less willing to compromise babies conceived in rape or incest and are more likely to reject the culture of contraception.
    c. The rise of 40 Days for Life, the recent explosive growth of the March for Life and other grassroots apostolates provide a way to create effective communication opportunities.

    I’m getting tired and my thoughts are getting a bit less cogent, but I also think it’s worth considering that Planned Parenthood has a very clear strategy to get around the problems posed by incrementalism: shift abortions to earlier in pregnancy. I’m all for promoting the use of ultrasound and fetal development to reach particular women in crisis. But if we rely too much on these measures, we risk losing the very early abortions–those that take place before the baby has clearly identifiable features. That’s why Planned Parenthood is working to get RU-486 in EVERY affiliate. It’s why we’ve seen no real decrease in the use of abortifacient birth control. And it’s why the abortion industry developed the new “week after” pill.

    I think it’s important for us to recognize that incrementalism and the “home run” approach (for lack of a better term) are not mutually exclusive. I work full-time in the pro-life movement, and we push for incremental victories. But we also push for personhood. You can do both. And we have to do both. Regardless of its political success, personhood provides a great opportunity for education that we simply must take advantage of. Instead of debating on PP’s terms (choice, access, etc.), we get to address why we’re really opposed to abortion: because it kills a child. Such strategies have worked in the past.

  • Abortion kills a human being. Killing is not health care. Murder is not a human or reproductive right. Assassination is not a choice: no compormise, no debate.

    Sadly, the problem is that abortion ranks about number ten (e.g., the 2008 election) on many catholics’ lists of moral imperatives: behind raising taxes of the hated rich and dismantling the evil, unjust American way of life.

    Speaking of oxymorons, try: “military intelligence” and “happily married.”

  • I think that incrementalism has worked in shifting the zone of possible agreement towards the pro-life position. Kissling’s piece (and other similar ones in the past from high profile feminists and abortion advocates) indicates that the absolutist pro-abortion position simply isn’t working anymore, and that the “clump of cells” claim is mostly only holding among those who are hard boiled pro-aborts anyway.

    Part of what needs to be kept in mind with this and other similar issues, I think, is that it’s not just increasing the number of advocates on one side of an issue that makes a difference in how an issue stands in the political balance. Equally important, at times, is taking the middling people without strong convictions and shifting them from mildly the other side to mildly your side. I think where the pro-life movement has been fairly successful in recent decades has been in making those who are not strong advocates either for or against abortion to lean slightly against it and feel that it might be taking a life. These folks won’t tell you that “abortion is murder”, but they lean anti-abortion and that gives the pro-life movement room.

    However, that kind of shifting of slightly held opinion only gets one so far. At a certain point, in order to make further progress, we’ll need real converts. And though those are coming, they are not yet enough.

  • Roe v. Wade stands in the way of doing anything BUT the incremental approach right now. And the incremental approach is the best way to chip away at Roe.

    Once Roe is overturned and the issue is back with the voters where it belongs, THEN we can talk about all or nothing approaches to ending abortion.

  • The voters should decide whether murder is legal???

  • “The voters should decide whether murder is legal???”

    As opposed to the courts having decided for us all that not only IS murder legal, but that we can’t do anything to restrict it at all? Absolutely.

    How else do you suggest we get from where we are to where we should be? Magic?

  • And I’d be more likely to believe in magic than to believe that either of the following scenarios could occur:

    (1) that the Pro-Life Amendment will pass 2/3 of both Houses of Congress and 3/4 of the state legislatures; or

    (2) that there will ever be 5 Supreme Court Justices sitting at one time who would find abortion to be unconstitutional. Right now, there is MAYBE one Justice who leans in that direction, and that is Clarence Thomas.

    We’ve had trouble enough getting Justices who will find Roe to be the piece of legal garbage that it is and thereby overturn it, thus sending the matter back to the states and/or the voters; it is wholly unrealistic to believe that we will have any chance of getting Justices on the Court who will not only overturn Roe, but then go in the complete opposite direction and hold that abortion violates the constitutional right to life.

  • Jay, I don’t necessarily disagree with you. I, too, don’t think that political strategies will end abortion. In fact, I’m pretty sure as long as 98% of the country is contracepting, and the average age for first exposure to pornography is 11, that abortion-on-demand will remain the law of the land. Looking back, it’s very easy to cite the passage of some law, or a war, or a court decision as the moment that a great injustice was ended. But that’s just lazy history. Typically, politicians are dragged kicking and screaming across the finish line.

    What we need is a cultural transformation. When the United States is a pro-life country, our judges and our lawmakers will fall in line. Let’s face it, for better and (usually) for worse, our judicial system reflects the trends of the age.

    So how do we do this? By making somebody wait 24 hours for an abortion? Don’t get me wrong, I am ALL for incremental improvements (assuming they don’t concede the lives of the politically inconvenient babies conceived in difficult circumstances). They might save lives. They might help us become more like Europe where abortion after 12 weeks is incredibly rare (and often illegal). But these measures don’t get us closer to seeing abortion end.

    Why are we pro-life? Because we value every life, beginning at the moment of conception. We believe that the single cell zygote is a person. I merely propose we endeavor to change our laws to reflect that belief. I don’t begrudge somebody for preferring a different strategy. I do begrudge everybody who actively opposes the strategy. And I get a little defensive when the nascent personhood movement is derided as having failed everywhere as though 38 years of incrementalism with no results is successful…

    Again, cultural transformation is needed. And how can we expect the culture to take us seriously if we don’t posit legislatively that the pre-born child is a person? If we restrict our efforts to parental notification and waiting periods, we allow the pro-aborts to define the debate in terms of access and choice. When we expand the debate to include personhood, we debate on our own terms: which human lives do we defend, and which do we kill?

    So in summary, yes, personhood is likely to be a political loser for the forseeable future. But personhood as a political strategy cannot be divorced from the great educational opportunity to tell America “Yes, the embryo is a person deserving of full protection under the law.”

  • “I merely propose we endeavor to change our laws to reflect that belief.”

    I don’t disagree, but isn’t that the same thing as allowing voters to decide this issue? It seems we’re both in agreement that voters and their representatives do a far better job of representing where our culture is on life than the courts do.

  • I suppose so, but I tend to think the prohibition on murder is already settled, right? When the embryo is declared a person on the law, that won’t so much kick it back to the states as it will aborb the pre-born into protection granted by existing homicide statutes. Maybe we are using different terms to say the same thing?

RealCatholicTV, Creating Reversions and Conversions to the Faith

Wednesday, February 23, AD 2011

RealCatholicTV has created controversy among dissident Catholics for it’s orthodoxy and frankl fidelity to the Magisterium.  For some unfathomable reason even some faithful Catholics are put off by this blunt and direct approach.

I for one don’t agree with some of those faithful Catholics because what may seem blunt and direct is actually honest and refreshing.

Souls are at stake and no amount of hang-wringing causes me any lost sleep because Michael Voris states only the Truth.

Those that are uncomfortable with the Truth being spoken should only go back to the Holy Bible and what Jesus says about watering down the Truth:

but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

— the Holy Gospel of Saint Matthew 18:6

For RealCatholicTV click here.

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43 Responses to RealCatholicTV, Creating Reversions and Conversions to the Faith

  • For some unfathomable reason even some faithful Catholics are put off by this blunt and direct approach.

    I for one don’t agree with some of those faithful Catholics because what may seem blunt and direct is actually honest and refreshing.

    FWIW, I think there are different emotional and intellectual tones which work better in speaking to different people. While I’m quite sure some find Voris’s approach bracing and encouraging, others seem to find it abrasive or off-putting.

    I think that there’s enough to understand about God that in many cases there can be more than one legitimate way of talking about true doctrine, not because one conceals the truth while the other shows it, but because the things we as Catholics seek to describe are large enough to be discussed profitably in multiple ways.

    To the extent that Voris is helping people remain in their faith or come back to their faith, I would see him as doing good work. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that his is the only way of doing good work and keeping people in the faith.

    So, I think that someone could legitimately think that other approaches than Voris’s would be better at reaching certain people, or even people in general, without being against the truth.

  • Darwin,

    Well said.

    Being part Neanderthal I appreciate Michael Voris’ approach.

    And those that take this approach a different way I completely respect.

  • Do we have a statistic on the number of reversions and conversions that can be attributed to Mr. Voris?

    If so, I wonder how they compare to the number of reversions and conversions that can be attributed to EWTN and its much lower-key approach. I know that EWTN played a key part in my conversion because everything about the programming evinced a love for the Church.

    I like some of what Mr. Voris does, but am completely put off by his attitude toward the successors of the Apostles. Where I saw love for the Church as a would-be convert watching EWTN, if I were a would-be convert watching only RealCatholicTV, I might run in the other direction rather than be part of a Church whose leaders were held in such contempt.

    With Mr. Voris, we see a lot of what’s wrong with the Body of Christ, and very little of what’s right with it. I’m not sure that’s an elixir for creating much of anything, much less reversions and conversions.

  • Heh. I don’t think Voris goes far enough sometimes, to be quite honest.

    But I do appreciate anyone who speaks absolute truth to power. And on most issues he is speaking the truth. He isn’t afraid to offend liberals with his language, and he isn’t afraid to point out the appalling and cowardly behavior of certain priests and bishops.

    He also wages war against the false modernist liberal idea of “charity” in speech, the idea that we must be polite and deferring at all times, even in the face of the most terrible abuses, blasphemies, and sacrilege. This idea of “charitable speech” as it has been promoted by modern liberalism only serves to obscure truth. I absolutely reject it. And I’m glad Voris does too.

  • God reaches people through more than one method.

    To criticize Michael Voris is to bring criticism to your own view on his tactics.

  • I periodically enjoy a good, strong glass of porto. But not on my breakfast cereal.

  • “To criticize Michael Voris is to bring criticism to your own view on his tactics.”

    Again, my comment is aimed solely at the assertion that Mr. Voris is directly responsible for reversions and conversions. I am speaking as a convert to say that his style would not have swayed me toward entering the Church.

    Mr. Voris’ style is good for exposing where there are shortcomings in the Church and its institutions. While I wish he weren’t so harsh with respect to the Bishops, I take no issue with what he sees as his mission.

    The ONLY thing I’m taking issue with is the notion, as stated in the title of this post, that Mr. Voris’ style is likely to bring about a significant number of reverts or converts.

    Perhaps I’m mistaken, but, again, speaking as a convert who is, substantively, probably more in agreement with Mr. Voris than not, I do not find his style to be the sort of thing that would have made me WANT to enter the Church.

  • Mad bad Jay.

    Too much porto in my frosted flakes.

  • Voris reminds me of the Tea Party: uninterested in bridging understanding, populist in a “take it back from the intellectuals and the authorities” kind of way, and usually right.

  • The only people who find Voris offensive are the priests and bishops who aren’t doing their jobs, lay people who are reminded of the shortfalls of their faith and practise, and certain Catholic apologists who think he’s dodgy. I think most faithfl Catholics are qite happy with Mike.

  • “The only people who find Voris offensive are the priests and bishops who aren’t doing their jobs, lay people who are reminded of the shortfalls of their faith and practise, and certain Catholic apologists who think he’s dodgy.”

    The product of a lot of study on the subject of Mr. Voris’ detractors, no doubt.

    I wonder in which category I fall. I’m not a priest or a deacon. I’m not an apologist. I must be one of those lay people who fall short in their faith and practice. I think the definition is “sinner”.

    Guilty as charged.

  • The only people who find Voris offensive are the priests and bishops who aren’t doing their jobs, lay people who are reminded of the shortfalls of their faith and practise, and certain Catholic apologists who think he’s dodgy. I think most faithfl Catholics are qite happy with Mike.

    Well, personally, I find his overall style kind of abrasive and annoying — though I am sure that some Catholics find it helpful and I certainly don’t begrudge them that. Similarly, I’m sure that many people would find the writings I find most helpful to be overly intellectual and bogged down in qualifications.

    I’ll leave it as an exercise to the reader, however, to figure out which of the above buckets I fall into.

  • I must be one of those lay people who fall short in their faith and practice. I think the definition is “sinner”.

    Guilty as charged.

    Ok, funny story from my college days… I showed up for Confession one Saturday afternoon, and I got in line behind my buddy Vito. He looked me up and down with a disgusted look on his face, and said in a disdainful tone: “Sinner!”

    As for Mr. Voris, I don’t have a problem with the content of his message; it’s more in his delivery.

  • “Do we have a statistic on the number of reversions and conversions that can be attributed to Mr. Voris?”

    Zero. I can assure you that Michael attributes every single reversion/conversion only to the work of the Holy Spirit. RealCatholicTV doesn’t change lives, only God does that.

  • “I wonder in which category I fall. I’m not a priest or a deacon. I’m not an apologist. I must be one of those lay people who fall short in their faith and practice. I think the definition is “sinner”.”

    With due respect Jay, this isn’t what we are talking about. To sin against the faith by denying it or watering it down or falsely representing it in public is nowhere near the same as to be a “sinner” in general. Yes, we are all sinners, myself, Voris, etc. But Church teaching and history, and common sense – since that is the popular phrase these days – show us that we must be able to correctly identify the faith, to distinguish it from false opinions and heretical ideas, even as lowly lay persons.

    Voris does this (to some extent). People who hold views that are contrary to those of the Church’s place themselves by their own obstinacy outside of her, and this is not the same as holding the faith but being a sinner – an adulterer, a fornicator, a thief, etc.

  • Many people, not just Michael Voris ,think that the hour is late. The time to come to Jesus is now. The sentimental “God loves you” is fine for ages 7 and under, but people steeped in sin and in misunderstanding of the Bible, Catholicism and the Magisterium need help now. It doesn’t matter if you like his style, is he telling the Truth?

  • Lisa – It’s not that simple, is it? A statement like “bishops aren’t holding true to the faith” is correct, but it could undermine a person’s belief and drive him further from the Faith. It could make a person more likely to attend a goofy independent church that claims to be more faithful. It could expose the Church to ridicule. It could lead a person to believe that the problem is too much strictness rather than too much lenience. Casual general criticism is a dangerous thing.

  • I don’t know if “watering down the truth” is the right context for the verse of the Gospel of Matthew quoted.

  • I’m going out on a leg here and saying Jay isn’t a priest nor a nun.

    If bishops and priests feel uncomfortable with Michael Voris, then it’s a perfectly good sign they need to shape up or Lucifer will find a spot on the floor to his home for their cranium.

  • This video is self-congratulatory and shameless self-promotion. It seems that the narrator is quite comfortable with what he has done to convert individuals to Catholicism. Well, if one has read the Saints of the Church that the narrator himself refers to, one would immediately see something wrong with his attitude: he is *comfortable*–he thinks he is doing something better than say, the University of Notre Dame. No saint of the Church has expressed in his or her writings such comfort. Instead, the closer these holy men and women get to God, the more uncomfortable they become and the more inadequate they find themselves–as we can read from holy people like Mother Teresa.

    So in such spirit of loving oneself that seems acceptable in this blog, I’m going to praise myself and my husband. We very much agree with the Opus Dei approach to evangelization, which is perhaps diametrically opposed to what the narrator expresses here. Our friends who have converted to Catholicism perhaps as a result of our influence, have done so not because we told them “in their faces” how wrong they were. Instead, they were curious about something… I don’t know exactly what… maybe icons everywhere in our house, rosaries in our car, shoot, I don’t know. When they asked questions, they were puzzled by how well we knew Scripture, tradition, history, and how well we were able to explain the teachings of the Church. So I would say it has been a result of our actions, not of our denouncement of their beliefs.

  • If bishops and priests feel uncomfortable with Michael Voris, then it’s a perfectly good sign they need to shape up or Lucifer will find a spot on the floor to his home for their cranium.

    Well, or it might be that they feel that Voris would be more effective in reaching people if they spoke about things differently.

    Every so often, I cringe at how people I completely agree with go about expressing the beliefs that we share in common, because I worry that by the way they go about arguing in favor of our mutual position, they’ll end up turning people off rather than persuading them.

  • heh

    I’m one of them knuckle-dragging, first-generation-walking-upright, uncouth loats that thinks Varis is okay.

    I usually see his stuff over at Catholic Cavemen. Do you think there’s a connection?

    Just saying . . .

    Plus, I will not revert to slugging down Dewar’s for breakfast. That never ended well.

  • “So in such spirit of loving oneself that seems acceptable in this blog, I’m going to praise myself and my husband.”

    I think that goes with most blogs. Just look at Vox Nova.

  • ” Our friends who have converted to Catholicism perhaps as a result of our influence, have done so not because we told them “in their faces” how wrong they were. ”

    Are you sure it is Catholicism they are converting to?

  • “Each one is under obligation to show forth his faith, either to instruct and encourage others of the faithful, or to repel the attacks of unbelievers.” — St. Thomas Aquinas, quoted by Pope Leo XIII in Sapientiae Christianae, 14

  • “16. No one, however, must entertain the notion that private individuals are prevented from taking some active part in this duty of teaching, especially those on whom God has bestowed gifts of mind with the strong wish of rendering themselves useful. These, so often as circumstances demand, may take upon themselves, not, indeed, the office of the pastor, but the task of communicating to others what they have themselves received, becoming, as it were, living echoes of their masters in the faith. Such co-operation on the part of the laity has seemed to the Fathers of the Vatican Council so opportune and fruitful of good that they thought well to invite it. “All faithful Christians, but those chiefly who are in a prominent position, or engaged in teaching, we entreat, by the compassion of Jesus Christ, and enjoin by the authority of the same God and Saviour, that they bring aid to ward off and eliminate these errors from holy Church, and contribute their zealous help in spreading abroad the light of undefiled faith.”(16)

    From the same encyclical quoted above.

  • The Spiritual Works of Mercy:

    Admonish the sinner.
    Counsel the doubtful.
    Forgive all injuries.
    Instruct the ignorant.
    Pray for the living and dead.

    Every day, in every way.

    Did I miss any?

  • The Church is called Catholic for a reason — it is universal, all embracing, and there is a place in it for all who are willing to accept Her teachings and Her authority. How one lives this out can vary, as evidenced by the lives of the saints. There are humble, quiet saints like Therese of Liseiux; there are calm, reasoning saints like Thomas Aquinas and Thomas More; and there are forceful, even hotheaded saints like Paul and Jerome. Each one of them manifested God’s grace in his or her own way.

    As someone who tends toward being painfully shy and awkward in personal conversation — and who writes much better than she talks! — I appreciate the talents of people like Michael Voris who can do what I can’t. I can also appreciate people who prefer a more subtle approach. Not everyone will be won to the faith the same way and that is why we have a variety of devotions, charisms, apostolates, etc.

  • I think Michael is talking to other Catholics, rather than trying to convert non-catholics. I think he’s excellent. (like the contributors at AC 🙂

  • Look, I believe everything the Church teaches, and I’m no liberal, but I don’t like Voris simply because his theology is oftentimes bad or misleading, his ecclesiology is, to put it bluntly, “Americanist,” and his manner is obnoxious.

    But, all that being said, I do have to admit that the very existence of Voris and his ilk testifies to the failure of the American bishops in successfully implementing a good catechesis capable of reaching large numbers of people. So I don’t blame Voris himself for the phenomenon he has become.

    I also think that Katerina’s comments on this thread are to the point.

  • One other thing: Note that, in the letter sent to Voris, the writer opposed the “real” and “true” Catholic faith to that of “liberals.” Now, I agree, actually that liberalism is opposed to Catholicism at its deepest level, and so on one reading of the letter I am heartened. However, it is clear that by “liberals” Voris and his audience do not understand *all* liberals, but one subset of liberals–the kind, for instance, that you find sipping lattes in San Francisco, subscribing to NPR, and reading Commonweal Magazine. This is, to my mind, dangerous, because it conflates the theological distinction between orthodoxy and unorthodoxy with a political distinction between “liberals”–and here, only one set of liberals (we all know who they are)–and “conservatives”. And it thereby might lead somebody to think that in becoming “orthodox” they are (or should be) becoming “conservative.” But this is a category mistake.

    My suspicion is, however, that it works the other way. Self-described political “conservatives” who for one reason or another are unhappy with the Church’s involvement in the the plight of illegal immigrants, its social teaching, and so on, and who (sadly) are rightly scandalized by Catholics who have no problem voting for pro-abortion politicians, find Voris, and they think: here all my preexising political allegiances are confirmed and are redescribed as those attending the “true” or “real” Faith, and they are gratified by this, and it provides them further ammunition against those “liberal” Catholics who (for whatever bizarre reason) continue to downplay the holocaust of abortion. This is all a very complex process, but my thought is that Voris–and Real Catholic TV more generally–merely participates in and exacerbates, rather than corrects, the depravity of our current cultural and social order.

  • Joe, it’s below the belt to question the authenticity of one’s conversion when one has no evidence.

    In the main, Voris is not my cup of Everclear, though he does do good work in exposing the apparently willingness of Catholic leadership (clergy and lay) to jettison Catholic distinctives and doctrine at will.

    I also agree that he’s the product of a failure to defend that identity and doctrine, as well as bad catechesis. To the extent leadership is revulsed by him, they can blame themselves. There’s a market for what the man is offering, and there wouldn’t be one if they did their jobs better.

    That said, I’m a little bemused by the idea that less than full-throated support for MV is suspect. Especially in a Catholic environment. As can be seen by the multiplicity of orders and liturgy, there are many legitimate forms and expressions of orthodox Catholicism, and not all will appeal to everyone.

  • “Apparent willingness.” Argh.

  • “My suspicion is, however, that it works the other way. Self-described political “conservatives” who for one reason or another are unhappy with the Church’s involvement in the the plight of illegal immigrants, its social teaching, and so on…”

    “This is all a very complex process, but my thought is that Voris–and Real Catholic TV more generally–merely participates in and exacerbates, rather than corrects, the depravity of our current cultural and social order.”
    WJ,

    Of course the first part of your post also seems to do little to alleviate the depravity of the cultural and social order. There is nothing inherently “liberal” (philosophically or politically) about CST. That includes topics like illegal immigration. The link to Bishop Molino’s letter on the situation in Wisconsin points out how people can licitly disagree on matters like union rights, immigration etc. There is much less room for disagreement on abortion, however, as Bishop Molino notes.

  • Philip,

    I agree that there is nothing inherently liberal about CST. Indeed, I think that CST is, at its foundational level, opposed to liberalisms of all kinds. (People disagree about this, but that’s my view, and I think it’s well supported by a careful reading of the documents and the theological anthropology subtending them.)

  • CST as presently implemented in the US is the catholic cadre of the dem (liberal) party.

  • “I agree that there is nothing inherently liberal about CST. Indeed, I think that CST is, at its foundational level, opposed to liberalisms of all kinds.”

    “My suspicion is, however, that it works the other way. Self-described political “conservatives” who for one reason or another are unhappy with the Church’s involvement in the the plight of illegal immigrants, its social teaching, and so on…”

    Then perhaps that suspicion is warranted.

  • I’m a little bemused by the idea that less than full-throated support for MV is suspect

    I didn’t write that anything less than full-throated support is suspect (of ones faith?).

    You probably are referencing some comments.

  • Dale,

    “Joe, it’s below the belt to question the authenticity of one’s conversion when one has no evidence.”

    I didn’t question any “one” conversion, I simply wondered aloud if someone who is “converted” on dubious grounds – perhaps by people who for politically correct reasons do not tell them the whole truth about what we believe – is really believing in Catholicism.

    That isn’t below the belt at all.

  • I can’t credit Voris for my reversion, but his show The One True Faith was a big help in catechizing myself once I came back. I learned more about angels and demons in one 45-minute show (the first episode) than I did in a decade of CCD classes.

    I think Voris is great, but I know people who would be completely turned off by his style, especially in his short videos. (These are the same folks who are conservative to the bone but would never call themselves such because they wouldn’t want to be lumped in with the Becks and Limbaughs, whose bombastic styles they abhor.) If they ran across the Vortex, they’d move on in about ten seconds, and never discover Voris’s deeper, more thoughtful work.

    That’s a shame, but as the first commenter said, different approaches work for different people. We’ve already got tons of people using the non-confrontational, I’m-ok-you’re-ok, don’t-scare-them-off approach, so presumably people who are susceptible to that method are already being served. But very few voices were talking to those who would respond better to being challenged bluntly and told that Catholicism demands things of us, that it’s not just a good way to live, but the only way to live. Voris is doing that. If someone had talked to my friends and I when we were 14-years-old about the faith the way Voris talks about it — unapologetic and straightforward, as if it’s something more awesome than comfortable — I might never have drifted away.

  • “K: Our friends who have converted to Catholicism perhaps as a result of our influence, have done so not because we told them iin their faces’ how wrong they were.

    JH: Are you sure it is Catholicism they are converting to?”

    As posed, your question is larded with assumptions regarding the converts, i.e., that Katerina and Michael soft-pedalled the truth. Thus, it *is* below the belt, as it suggests PC trumping truth. Unless, of course, you have specific knowledge as to the circumstances which support the assumptions. I would concede the validity of it as to converts at, say St. Joan in Minneapolis.

  • Tito:

    Fair enough–I read too much into your post on that point. I guess my concern is that a flinching away from certain forms of spirituality, proclamation and practice does not necessarily say anything bad about the practice or the flincher. Again, on the whole, I think Voris does good work and I am unsympathetic to criticism from leadership which has given free reign to all manner of nonsense and worse over the past 45-odd years.

    I have heard that employees of the archdiocese I live in are discouraged from any contact with RCTV, which I find to be grimly amusing given the fact we’re still not recovered from the Dearden hangover. Then again, our current archbishop has also warned against associating with Spirit of V2 (think both missile and council) fanatics like the American Catholic Council, so I’m inclined to cut him a little slack.

  • As a proud Neanderthal, I agree with Tito. Of course, I also know that Tito likes Fr. Corapi. So for whoever wrote that they prefer the gentler approach of EWTN, I assume you don’t watch EWTN on Sunday nights.

    I know many people who are afraid of Fr. Corapi and I admit that he is a little scary, which is why I like him and for that matter Voris too. If it isn’t your cup of tea, that’s OK. Mr. Angelica and Fr. Groeshel are just as right as Corapi or Voris. The issue is the unwatered down truth. The manner of delivery is a preference. What we must agree on is that lukewarmness is vomit-worthy.

Democrat Congressman Calls For Blood in Wisconsin

Wednesday, February 23, AD 2011

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