Monthly Archives: March 2011
It seems that Bart Stupak has done another interview with a version of events about how last year’s Obamacare debate really went down. Of course, Morning’s Minion has done a piece explaining the virtues of this stalwart pro-life defender.
I’m one of the few people here who would have voted for the healthcare bill before the Hyde language was omitted, I thought it would be interesting to look at Stupak’s claims. Most of the stuff if how poor Stupak has to deal with angry people and how Obama really can be trusted on abortion. This isn’t really terribly interesting (except if the bishops really do view Obama as the most pro-abortion president ever, as this would cause much grief to many on the left), though I find it amusing that Stupak takes this position as Obama appears to be willing to shut down the federal government to preserve funding for Planned Parenthood. No word yet if Stupak trusts Obama to keep America out of messy and poorly thought-out wars.
What is interesting is that Stupak claims that really the Republicans are to blame for the lack of protection against abortion spending in the bill:
Was it unpleasant talking to Rahm? Everybody thinks he’s just a screamer and shouter and would just wave his fists around–
No, Rahm doesn’t scream and shout at me, ’cause he knows better. I’ll just tell him to go to Hell and move on. No, no. rahm and I had a couple of good conversations. The executive order came up in the conversations we had a few weeks before it ever came.
But, to be honest with you, I’d been working with some of the Senate Republicans on trying to find some way to do a technical corrections bill. And actually, truth be known, the Republican leadership in the Senate pulled the rug out on me on that on Thursday night, the Thursday before that Monday [when the final vote occurred]. Most people don’t realize that.
Anyways, long story short, I always thought we would have some statutory language. It wasn’t until Thursday before the vote that when the Republican leadership on the Senate side said no go … and the reason was that it would pass.
Health care would have passed the Senate with Hyde language?
Yeah. It would fly though the Senate. So they weren’t interested in getting health care passed, they were interested in killing it. So every suggestion, every legislative proposal I had–and I knew I had to get to 60 votes in the Senate–I was led to believe up to that point in time they’d work with me. And they pulled the rug out that Thursday before. Remember, they went home that Thursday night, or that Friday night there. They weren’t around that weekend when we voted on the health care bill.
It’s helpful here to remember the situation. The House & Senate must pass identical bills. Any alterations to the Senate bill would have sent the bill back to the Senate. The Senate’s bill lacked the statutory language of the Hyde amendment, and therefore if the House had insisted the whole bill would go back to the Senate. At that point, the Democrats’ majority had been reduced to 59 as Scott Brown was elected from Mass. and promised to vote with the rest of the party to filibuster the bill.
What makes Stupak’s latest version of the events surrounding Obamacare so implausible is the idea that with the Hyde amendment language, the Senate would magically have 60 votes. What vote? The Republicans in the Senate had all voted against the Senate bill and Brown was elected in part b/c of his opposition. Even if Brown was amiable to the language, the Hyde bill would not make a difference to him, as he’s not exactly a pro-life politician. The only Republican for whom this language made a difference was Rep. Joseph Cao-but Cao was in the House, not the Senate.
Yet Stupak is here claiming that the GOP stopped working on the Hyde language b/c the language would help it get the 60 votes in the Senate. But what Republican would have switched his vote just b/c of the abortion language? As Minion points out ad nauseum, most Republicans were against healthcare reform in itself, not only because of abortion. Other than Cao, the conflicted congressmen were all Democrats.
Now, perhaps the GOP didn’t want the Hyde language b/c that made Obamacare more likely to pass the House, but that’s not Stupak’s claim. Nor is he saying his technical corrections bill would fly through the Senate. He specifically claims Obamacare would have flown through the Senate with the Stupak language.
To be blunt, I’m not sure if Stupak is delusional or dishonest here. I imagine a little bit of both, but this is yet another version of Stupak’s story that doesn’t quite mesh with the plain reality that was before him. The best scenario is that he expected the GOP to work with him to get the corrections bill through that included the statutory language, but I don’t know why he would think that. The GOP may have been willing to do so if abortion was the only thing on the plate, but the GOP wanted to defeat Obamacare. There were other things that had to be in that technical corrections bill for the bill to be passed, and the GOP was not interested in having those pass that would pave the way for Obamacare.
In the end, the GOP is not responsible for Stupak’s language not being in the bill. It’s Pelosi’s, Nelson’s, and Obama’s. I am perfectly willing to concede that the GOP could have bent over backward to change the language by giving up the fight against Obamacare in order to provide better protection against abortion funding, but even had they done so, the language would not have changed. Pelosi and Obama didn’t want that language changed and weren’t going to let the bill come before the House in any other form. In the end, Stupak’s choice was still the same: to stand strong against Obamacare’s lax protections against abortion funding or provide Obama political cover. Stupak chose the latter.
So since we honor April’s Fools tomorrow, today we should honor Obama’s Fool: Bart Stupak.
UPDATE after the break
Oh the gems that can be found on Youtube! From 1957, two legends discussing a third. Frank Lloyd Wright, one of the greatest American architects of the 19th and 20th centuries, and Carl Sandburg, poet and Lincoln biographer, talking about Thomas Jefferson!
Carl Sandburg, in his multivolume biography of Lincoln, got closer to the heart of the man than many professionally trained historians, telling the tale of a man’s life requiring the touch of a poet as well as a chronicling of facts. Frank Lloyd Wright developed a style of architecture that causes his buildings to be treasured. In my town of Dwight, the building of the First National Bank of Dwight was designed by Wright, and is a little gem of his style. Go here to read all about it.
It is interesting to hear two men who are now legendary themselves, discussing a third legendary American. In the world beyond one can hope that Jefferson has since taken part in the conversation! Continue reading
There are six teams in the NL Central, and we’re just about at opening day, so I’m going just going to give thumbnail sketches for this division. The Central is another tough division to forecast with three teams that seem capable of playing into October. So who will win it all?
Everyone already knew that Chuck Schumer is an ego-maniacal demagogue who is a fairly petty politician, even by New York standards. Now we have some clear evidence of this fact:
Moments before a conference call with reporters was scheduled to get underway on Tuesday morning, Charles E. Schumer of New York, the No. 3 Democrat in the Senate, apparently unaware that many of the reporters were already on the line, began to instruct his fellow senators on how to talk to reporters about the contentious budget process.
After thanking his colleagues — Barbara Boxer of California, Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland, Thomas R. Carper of Delaware and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut — for doing the budget bidding for the Senate Democrats, who are facing off against the House Republicans over how to cut spending for the rest of the fiscal year, Mr. Schumer told them to portray John A. Boehner of Ohio, the speaker of the House, as painted into a box by the Tea Party, and to decry the spending cuts that he wants as extreme. “I always use the word extreme,” Mr. Schumer said. “That is what the caucus instructed me to use this week.”
A minute or two into the talking-points tutorial, though, someone apparently figured out that reporters were listening, and silence fell.
Then the conference call began in earnest, with the Democrats right on message.
Granted this is nothing more than a peak inside the talking points maneuvering that we all know goes on behind the scenes, but it’s kind of funny to see the arrogant one make a public gaffe like this.
Democracy in action, baby.
Commonweal has an article by Marxist literary critic Terry Eagleton in which he argues that Marx was right in his critique of captalism. Go here to read it. Go here to read a post about the article which appeared on the Commonweal blog. ( I will confess to having a very slight grudging respect for Mr. Eagleton ever since his memorable, and scorching, review which may be read here, of Richard Dawkins’ inane The God Delusion. The respect is very slight and very grudging indeed, since Mr. Eagleton also wrote a bitter diatribe against John Paul II, which may be read here, after the death of the pontiff. He also views the Catholic Church, the Church he was raised in, as “one of the nastiest authoritarian outfits on the planet”, which is rich coming from a Marxist.)
The Marx set forth in the article by Mr. Eagleton is unrecognizable to me. The Marx of history was not some sort of democratic eurosocialist. He was a hard core advocate of terror. The quotations from his works and letters on this point are legion. Here is a typical statement he made in 1850 in an address to the Communist League:
“[The working class] must act in such a manner that the revolutionary excitement does not collapse immediately after the victory. On the contrary, they must maintain it as long as possible. Far from opposing so-called excesses, such as sacrificing to popular revenge of hated individuals or public buildings to which hateful memories are attached, such deeds must not only be tolerated, but their direction must be taken in hand, for examples’ sake.”
From the same address:
To be able forcefully and threateningly to oppose this party, whose betrayal of the workers will begin with the very first hour of victory, the workers must be armed and organized. The whole proletariat must be armed at once with muskets, rifles, cannon and ammunition, and the revival of the old-style citizens’ militia, directed against the workers, must be opposed. Where the formation of this militia cannot be prevented, the workers must try to organize themselves independently as a proletarian guard, with elected leaders and with their own elected general staff; they must try to place themselves not under the orders of the state authority but of the revolutionary local councils set up by the workers. Where the workers are employed by the state, they must arm and organize themselves into special corps with elected leaders, or as a part of the proletarian guard. Under no pretext should arms and ammunition be surrendered; any attempt to disarm the workers must be frustrated, by force if necessary. The destruction of the bourgeois democrats’ influence over the workers, and the enforcement of conditions which will compromise the rule of bourgeois democracy, which is for the moment inevitable, and make it as difficult as possible – these are the main points which the proletariat and therefore the League must keep in mind during and after the approaching uprising.
Nothing done by the Communist states that claimed Marx as their ideological father in regard to the suppression of adversaries and the use of mass terror to remain in power cannot find full warrant in the works of Marx.
Of course, Marx goes wrong at the very beginning in regard to his view of Man which is completely materialist. In his A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right, Marx spelled out his view that religion was an illusion which deterred the revolutionary rage of the people: Continue reading
Book 3 finds Augustine studying in Carthage. On the personal front, the adult Augustine accuses his late-teen self of being consumed by lust, but he hasn’t yet found a specific person to get into trouble with.
I had not yet fallen in love, but I was in love with the idea of it, and this feeling that something was missing made me despise myself for not being more anxious to satisfy the need. I began to look around for some object for my love, since I badly wanted to love something.
Of course, from his authorial vantage point, Augustine sees that what he was searching for in the most final sense was God. Lacking God to love, he sought about for other things — sex first among them — which he thought would fill that lack.
Yet even acknowledging that God is our deepest and ultimate need, there’s also something that’s very familiarly human about Augustine’s phrasing here. Continue reading
For additional comedy relief, here is a video put out by a group supporting Obama for president detailing Obama’s opposition to the war in Iraq.
You know, I think quite a few of the easy marks who voted for Obama will regret eventually having voted for him, perhaps none more so than those who voted for him because they actually believed that he was a peacenik.
Why, perhaps even Morning’s Minion at Vox Nova, who wrote the paragraph below, will someday realize that Obama played him like an accordion: Continue reading
In my first post on Blessed Clemens August Graf von Galen, which may be read here, we examined the life of this remarkable German bishop who heroically stood up to the Third Reich. Today we examine the third of three sermons that he preached in 1941 which made him famous around the globe. One week after his first breathtaking sermon against the Gestapo, my examination of which may be read here, he preached on July 20, 1941 a blistering sermon against the Nazis and their war on Christianity in general, and Catholicism in particular, which may be read here. On August 3, 1941 at Saint Lambert’s in Munster, he preached a third sermon which, along with an overall attack on the Nazi regime, attacked an evil that, alas, unlike the Nazis, remains with us today.
My Beloved Brethren,
In today’s Gospel we read of an unusual event: Our Saviour weeps. Yes, the Son of God sheds tears. Whoever weeps must be either in physical or mental anguish. At that time Jesus was not yet in bodily pain and yet here were tears. What depth of torment He must have felt in His heart and Soul, if He, the bravest of men, was reduced to tears. Why is He weeping? He is lamenting over Jerusalem, the holy city He loved so tenderly, the capital of His race. He is weeping over her inhabitants, over His own compatriots because they cannot foresee the judgment that is to overtake them, the punishment which His divine prescience and justice have pronounced. ‘Ah, if thou too couldst understand, above all in this day that is granted thee, the ways that can bring thee peace!’ Why did the people of Jerusalem not know it? Jesus had given them the reason a short time before. ‘Jerusalem, Jerusalem . . . how often have I been ready to gather thy children together, as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings; and thou didst refuse it! I your God and your King wished it, but you would have none of Me. . . .’ This is the reason for the tears of Jesus, for the tears of God. . . . Tears for the misrule, the injustice and man’s willful refusal of Him and the resulting evils, which, in His divine omniscience, He foresees and which in His justice He must decree. . . . It is a fearful thing when man sets his will against the will of God, and it is because of this that Our Lord is lamenting over Jerusalem.
“the capital of His race.” What courage it took in Nazi Germany to remind people of the fact that Jesus was a Jew! Von Galen had always been a friend to Jews, and would hide a Jewish boy, with the help of a Protestant pastor, at an institute Von Galen controlled, from the Nazis. After his death he would be highly praised by the Munster Jewish community for the care and assistance he had shown them. Would that all Germans had acted the same way. It is a canard to say that all Germans hated Jews: even with the Nazis pumping out the vilest anti-semitism imaginable 24-7 since they took power that was not the case. However, it is fair to say that a majority of Germans were indifferent to the fate of the Jews and were unwilling to raise their voices against the Nazi persecution of the Jews. This attitude of most of the German people is well described in the film Judgment at Nuremberg where Burt Lancaster, as German judge Ernst Janning, gives riveting testimony:
Von Galen I think realized this indifference and his sermons were meant to show Germans that the evil of the Nazis was not restricted only to people they were shamefully indifferent to.
In Florida, a judge has ordered the use of ‘Ecclesiastical Islamic Law’ to decide a case among litigants in a suit involving an internal dispute at a mosque. Why are some so accepting of the idea that the melding of “Mosque and State” in American jurisprudence is acceptable? I submit that, at least in some cases, political motivations stand in the way of intelligent, reasoned debate on issues related to Islam. Leftist disdain for the Right and the leftist political doctrine of multiculturalism cripple their ability to reasonably debate these issues.
Those critical of Islam and the terror which is born from it are frequently accused of trying to pigeon-hole all Muslims into one category of believers who are seeking Islam’s domination. In this accusation, the reality that some actually do seek to do just that is brushed under the rug. Though I would agree that not all Muslims desire that political Islam should become a part of America’s legal system, it is clear that the desire for Islam to dominate in America does exist among some Muslims. There is perhaps no more serious example of this than in attempts to make Islamic Law hold precedence over American Law.
Many on the Left will leap to the defense of Islam at every turn. It is true even in this case, even though the leaders of the mosque themselves argue that Florida law should hold precedence. Why would the Left press for Islam when the mosque itself argues the contrary?
Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the Left has introduced new doctrines that are Marxist in nature, but that have a non-Soviet flavor which may make them more palpable to Americans. One such doctrine — “multiculturalism” — has replaced “melting pot” thinking all too frequently in America. Multiculturalism is one avenue through which Sharia courts in America could gain more acceptance whereas this could not happen wherever the traditional “melting pot” thinking is applied.
In our traditional “melting pot” society, immigrants “blend in”. They accept the basic values of the American system into which they have moved while retaining those elements of their culture which do not trample over the most basic American values. For instance, in Chinatown, Americans can experience the flavor of Chinese culture, but still be fully American and retain all the freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution. There is no need to be concerned that on a visit to Chinatown, you might automatically become a citizen of China or be otherwise subject to Chinese law. You’d be hard pressed to find an American on the Right or the Left who does not accept Chinatown as a highly welcome part of American society. Chinatown is a textbook example of America’s “melting pot” values system.
Multiculturalism is the polar opposite of the “melting pot.” “Multiculturalism,” a “major ideological successor” of Soviet-style Marxism, rejects the idea that immigrants should “blend in” to the American system of values.
Values like universal human rights, individualism and liberalism are regarded merely as ethnocentric products of Western history. The scientific knowledge that the West has produced is simply one of many “ways of knowing.” In place of Western universalism, this critique of the West offers the relativism of multiculturalism, a concept that regards the West not as the pinnacle of human achievement to date, but as simply one of many equally valid cultural systems.
I can see the Left’s embrace of the ideological doctrine of multiculturalism — as opposed to a “melting pot” — reflected in the exposition of Sharia Law as a system of law that is equally valid to other systems of law. An example of this is a recent report at Salon by Justin Elliott. Though Elliott has taken great pains to claim that Tea Party protests against radical Islamists are “anti-Muslim hate,” he admits to having little idea about what Sharia Law is.
Indeed, anti-Muslim political operatives have been warning of “creeping sharia” and “Islamist lawfare” for years, though the anti-sharia efforts have gained new prominence in recent months.
But even basic facts about sharia — what is it? how is it used in American courts? — are hard to come by. So I decided to talk to Abed Awad, a New Jersey-based attorney and an expert on sharia who regularly handles cases that involve Islamic law. He is also a member of the adjunct faculties at Rutgers Law School and Pace Law School. He recently answered my questions via e-mail.
Here we have a writer at Salon who is operating from a presumption that the protests against Sharia are “anti-Muslim” efforts by “political operatives.” He claims these protests are based in bigotry, instead of what they really are — legitimate concerns about support for terror and anti-Semitism at the Islamic Circle of NorthAmerica.
Operating from a foundation of disdain for the Right, he hangs on to the presumption that the protests are not legitimate opinions expressed by citizens but, instead, are a campaign run by “political operatives”. It is from that foundation of flawed belief that he builds. Further, in realizing that he is completely ignorant of Sharia, he seeks to build his arguments against those who would seek to discredit Islam by doing research made up entirely of an email exchange with one Muslim attorney.
It is in this manner that the Left’s knee-jerk disdain for the Right, the doctrine of multiculturalism and downright ignorance about Islam are so often found together in a formula that causes them to jump to the defense of Islam in every issue…even issues wherein they are taking the position opposite of a mosque that is opposed to Islamic supremacism in our courts.
We hear a lot about the “Far Right” in America’s political discourse on Islam. Indeed, the Far Left and their ideological doctrines contrary to America’s founding values are very much at play in these debates. Let us not forget that important point.
Listen to the new translation for the Prayer After Communion composed for the Third Sunday of Lent:
As we receive the pledge
of things yet hidden in heaven
and are nourished while still on earth
with the Bread that comes from on high,
we humbly entreat you, O Lord,
that what is being brought about in us in mystery
may come to true completion.
This is simply exquisite. It emphasizes that the Mass is both a foretaste of and, in some mysterious way, a participation in the heavenly banquet. That pledge which “we receive” is the Eucharist, and it is the Eucharist which unites heaven and earth. It nourishes us “while still on earth” and gives us a taste of “things yet hidden in heaven.” Cardinal Ratzinger, in The Spirit of the Liturgy describes the present time (that which is after the Resurrection but before the end of the world) as the proper time for liturgy, for it is the great “already, but not yet.” Only in such an era can something like a sacrament make sense. Only in such an era can “Bread that comes from on high” be an efficacious sign of heavenly realities.
In the same book, Ratzinger speaks of how the liturgy is anthropological. It took me several readings to fully understand the Cardinal’s words. The explanation goes something like this. We know that our completion (our “final cause” or telos) is to be found in God’s presence, that is, in heaven. In other words, we will be most fully human when we are standing before God’s loving gave in glory with the angels and the saints. Conversely, the souls of the damned are virtually inhuman, which is why even individual demons in the Gospel (though properly speaking these are fallen angels not fallen men) describe themselves in the plural: “We are Legion.” In hell, all individuality is lost, for the self is given over to sin. Said differently, sin consumes the person. Think here of the character of Gollum in Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. The ring, symbolic of evil, has all but claimed the identity of the wretched creature, so much so that Gollum refers to himself in the plural, experiencing the utmost of personality crises. Rather than giving the self over to evil, we are to empty ourselves out for the summum bonum: God himself. The Gospel paradox is: in giving ourselves away to God, we subsequently find our true selves. This is because all fulfillment (all telos) is found in God. From God we have come, and to God we must return. The soul who gives himself to evil merely empties the self; absent is the promise and possibility of finding the self.
Moreover, the Mass is our participation on earth in the reality that constitutes heaven, for heaven is nothing more than the eternal worship of the Almighty God. Putting these two things together, (1) if our fulfillment is found in heaven, and (2) if the Mass is a participation in the reality which is heaven, it follows that our fulfillment as human beings begins in the Mass. It is in the Mass that we find our true selves. It is in the Mass that we become that for which we are destined; it is here we become holy. This is simply an extended explanation of a sacrament as “an efficacious sign of God’s grace,” and this is what Cardinal Ratzinger means when he says that the liturgy is “anthropological.”
We return now ready to understand the Pray After Communion on the Third Sunday of Lent: “We humbly entreat you, O Lord, that what is being brought about in us in mystery may come to true completion.” I repeat that with which I started: this is simply exquisite.
It is so exquisite, in fact, that I hesitate to ruin it with the current, deficient translation. I even thought of letting it go and simply recommending that people listen carefully this coming Sunday. Alas, I am weak, and I cannot resist the opportunity to demonstrate just how deficient it is. I won’t go through the Latin; rest assured that the new translation is much more faithful. Without further adieu, here is what we will hear this weekend:
Lord, in sharing this sacrament
may we receive your forgiveness
and be brought together in unity and peace.
And with that, I leave you with that which has become my mantra as of late:
I feel like each Sunday this year presents a funeral of sorts … a passing of Mass texts that will never be heard again. Rather than mourning this passing, my heart finds solace in the assurance that these texts will rise again in a more perfect form with the ‘advent’ of the new translation. While we have a full year to pay our respects to the passing Ordinary, there is a rejoicing of sorts that the current Propers have reached the end of the proverbial line: their days are numbered, their time has passed, and blessed be God for that.
At least in terms of the Holy Mass, the 1973 ‘Prayer After Communion’ for the Third Sunday of Lent has met its maker, kicked the bucket, bit the dust, bought the farm, breathed its last, and indeed … croaked. This is not a cause for mourning, but rather a looking forward to the day of resurrection; for the Latin soul of this prayer is indeed filled with grace, so when it rises again as the 2010 Prayer, it will be gloriously triumphant.”
Something for the weekend. The song Macedonia to the tune of Sharona by the Knack, by the endlessly talented folks of History for Music Lovers. Alexander the Great, living refutation of the idea that history is all grand vast processes and that individuals matter for little. In his brief 32 years he had a larger impact perhaps on this world than any other one man in secular history. The spreading of Greek culture in the East led to the vast cultural synthesis of Hellenism, and had a huge impact upon Judaism and, eventually, Christianity. It is somewhat frightening to think that so much of our history depended upon the military prowess of one man.
What if Alexander hadn’t turned East? What if he had turned West? The Roman historian Livy, in one of the first examples of alternate history, mused about what would have happened if Alexander had marched against Rome. Continue reading
The American League East deservedly has the reputation of being the best division in all of baseball, but the NL East might be a close second. Other than the Washington Nationals, every team in the NL East should finish at .500 or better, and two teams have legitimate World Series aspirations. Of course one team received most of the national attention when it signed a prized free agent pitcher and thus assembled one of the best starting rotations that the game has ever seen. With such a loaded staff, there’s really not going to be much of a contest, right? We might as well crown the division champions before the season even starts. I mean is there any doubt as to who will come out on top in the National League East?
If Tim Roach questioned his own manhood after six months of unemployment, consider the question asked and answered. Tim Roach is a man, a good man.
In mid February, Tim, got a call from his local union with the news every laid off worker longs to hear — a job offer.
It couldn’t have come at a better time. Tim’s unemployment benefits were about to run out. He could hardly believe what the voice on the other end was presenting to him — an offer to be a job foreman for at least 11 months, with a salary of $65,000 to $70,000 a year.
Perfect, Tim thought. Then came the bad news — he would be working on construction of a new Planned Parenthood Clinic in St. Paul on University Avenue. The highest of highs became the lowest of lows as he quickly turned down the offer.
Tim’s Union rep tried to get him to reconsider saying he wasn’t sure if abortions would be performed there but he simply responded, “It’s a Planned Parenthood. No.”