Monthly Archives: November 2011

The criticism of Obamacare is a little late in the political process, no?

With the so-called Obama healthcare “reform” law and the horses out of the barn, Catholic leaders are now complaining with a fevered pitch that the administration’s definition of a “religious employer” is going to force Catholic and other pro-life  healthcare providers to choose between violating their  consciences or curtailing access to care.  Catholic educational institutions will also be forced to provide employees  with healthcare plans that are inconsistent with the Church’s moral teachings.

 

 

Testifying before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee, the Chancellor and General Counsel of the Archdiocese of Washington, Jane Belford, said that if the definition of religious employer is not changed:

Catholic schools that teach abortion is morally wrong could have to pay  for abortifacient drugs for their employees; and Catholic health  clinics that refuse to provide contraception or sterilization for  patients could have to subsidize contraception and sterilization for  their employees.

Criticism has become more vocal since the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, approved new regulations that order nearly all private health plans to  cover FDA-approved “contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and  patient education and counseling” as part of their “preventive services”  for women.  The new regulation defines a  religious employer as a non-profit organization that “inculcates”  religious values and primarily hires and serves people who share  its religious tenets.

The problem this definition presents is that it excludes many “employers of  conscience”—including Catholic hospitals, universities and social  services—which serve all people in need, regardless of their religion and whose commitment to Christian service is not intended primarily to  inculcate religious values.

The President and CEO of the Alliance of Catholic Health  Care, William J. Cox, said this narrow definition HHS has overlooked “the contributions of Catholic health care and undid  centuries of religious tolerance.”  Cox testified:

It is particularly ironic that HHS is substantially burdening  Catholic institutional ministries because they respectfully avoid  inculcating religious beliefs, and compassionately serve persons of all  faith traditions and those having no faith tradition at all…

Simply  stated churches and religious institutions have the right  to define and govern themselves free from government interference and  entanglement.

The Catholic leaders were unanimous in imploring Congress to pass the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (HR 1179), which aims to expand the religious exemption allowed under Obamacare.

The criticism is accurate: The definition is exclusive rather than inclusive.  It divides rather than unites.  It’s dismissive of rather than accommodating.

At the same time, however, isn’t much of it a bit late in the “game”?  After all, in the debate leading up to the passage of the so-called Obamacare “reform,” many Catholic leaders seemed very content to accept the “promises” the President and members of his administration offered them while lobbying for their support of the so-called “healthcare reform” scheme.

 

 

Having danced with wolves, why should the critics be unhappy that the wolves have bit the hand that fed them?

So, the horses are now out of the barn and the critics are hoping that the other side of the aisle will come to their aid.  Let’s hope so!

But, having provided support in opening the barn door to this anti-life scheme, isn’t the criticism coming a little late?  Who duped whom?

Andy Rooney: Requiescat in Pace

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As an amateur curmudgeon I note with sadness the death of a professional curmudgeon:  Andy Rooney who has passed away at age 92.  Although my views of the network he worked for, CBS, are not printable in polite company, I had a soft spot in my heart for Rooney.  As the above video indicates, although he was most definitely a political liberal he was also frequently subversive of the left wing pieties embraced by CBS.

Rooney served in the Army during World War 2 and was a patriot to his marrow as indicated by this poignant video:

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In 1985 Rooney came out against abortion, which no doubt brought him unending grief considering the social milieu in which he lived.  Go here to read his column.  Agree with him or disagree with him, and I mostly disagreed with him, especially in regard to religion where he was a fairly snide atheist, Rooney always gave his honest opinion and that is to be respected.  So rest in peace Mr. Rooney, I will miss you. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Chester

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Something for the weekend.  Chester,  America’s unofficial national anthem during the American Revolution.  Written by William Billings in 1770, he added new lyrics to the song in 1778 and transformed it into a battle hymn for the Patriots in their war for independence.  The song reveals the strong religious element that was ever present on the American side of the conflict, with most Patriots viewing the war as a crusade.

Let tyrants shake their iron rods,
 And Slav’ry clank her galling chains.

We fear them not, we trust in God.
New England’s God forever reigns.


Howe and Burgoyne and Clinton, too,

With Prescott
and Cornwallis joined,
Together plot our overthrow,
In one infernal
league combined.

When God inspired us for the fight,

Their ranks were broke, their lines were forced,
Their ships were
shattered in our sight,
Or swiftly driven from our coast.


The foe comes on with haughty stride,

Our troops
advance with martial noise;
 Their vet’rans flee before our youth,
And
 gen’rals yield to beardless boys.

What grateful

 off’ring shall we bring,
What shall we render to the Lord?
Loud
 hallelujahs let us sing,
 And praise his name on ev’ry chord! →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Not Just One Reason

Growing up, my family had a lot of odd conversations, especially on the rare occasions we watched TV. One of these led to my mom pointing out that a lot of the “strange” things that the Bible told the Jews to do were not just for religious reasons (I think it came out of a TV character using ‘religious’ as a synonym for ‘serves no practical purpose’)—they made very good practical sense, too. Simplest example, pork is horrifically dangerous if you don’t have a fridge and don’t know about invisible dangers. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Worst Governor in the Country

 

 

In a crowded field, Pat Quinn, Democrat Governor of Illinois, can now officially be proclaimed the worst governor in the United States.

He has been vying for the title ever since he took over from impeached and removed Governor Blagojevich, currently bound for a long stay in federal prison.  Since taking over from his felon predecessor, he has the following accomplishments to his discredit:

In a midnight session of  the lame duck legislature in January of this year he increased, in the midst of the worst economic slump since World War II, Illinois personal income taxes by 67-75%, and, as a result, the misgoverned state of Illinois became a national laughingstock.

He rammed through civil unions last year in December in another action of the lame duck legislature.

Quinn  got elected last year by a razor thin margin  largely by under the radar last minute internet ads posted by Personal PAC, a pro-abort lobbying group, headed by a Terry Cosgrove. As payback Quinn appointed Cosgrove to a $46,000 a year job on the Human Rights Commission.  Lake County Right to Life has good coverage on this story which may be read here.  Regular Guy Paul has been on top of the story at his blog here.

Now I happen to know Cosgrove from the days back in the Seventies when we were both attending the U of I. He is a lapsed Catholic, now a militant atheist, homosexual activist and fanatical pro-abort. He was head of the local campus pro-aborts and I was one of the founders of L.I.F.E. (Life Is For Everyone), the campus pro-life group. One time I saw Cosgrove at Mass circa 1980 at the Newman Chapel, at Saint John’s. Puzzled why he was there, after Mass I found out why. At the pamphlet rack in the back I saw that he had stuffed pro-abort obscene anti-Catholic pamphlets. I disposed of them. He also said in one memorable public forum that he carried a gun to defend himself against “militant anti-choicers”, as he phrased pro-lifers.  Quinn appointed him to the Illinois Human Rights Commission in April of this year. That a bigot like Cosgrove now has a seat on the Human Rights Commission in Illinois has a nice Orwellian touch.

Now Quinn has outdone himself and seized the title of worst governor.  As further payback to Cosgrove and his pro-abort pressure group, Quinn is going to attend the annual fund raising dinner for Personal Pac and present an award.  When challenged on this by every Catholic bishop in the State, and Cardinal George,  the ostensibly Catholic Quinn responded that giving the award was the “Christian thing to do.”  (Quinn obviously must have a unique gloss on the statement of Christ, “Suffer the little children…”.) →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Shape Shifter

Just so we’re clear, if this guy wins the Republican nomination, I walk:

Mitt Romney was firm and direct with the abortion rights advocates sitting in his office nine years ago, assuring the group that if elected Massachusetts governor, he would protect the state’s abortion laws.

Then, as the meeting drew to a close, the businessman offered an intriguing suggestion — that he would rise to national prominence in the Republican Party as a victor in a liberal state and could use his influence to soften the GOP’s hard-line opposition to abortion.

He would be a “good voice in the party” for their cause, and his moderation on the issue would be “widely written about,” he said, according to detailed notes taken by an officer of the group, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts.

“You need someone like me in Washington,” several participants recalled Romney saying that day in September 2002, an apparent reference to his future ambitions.

Romney made similar assurances to activists for gay rights and the environment, according to people familiar with the discussions, both as a candidate for governor and then in the early days of his term.

People can change their minds on an issue, and if Mitt Romney has had a genuine change of heart on abortion, then that’s great.  But how can anyone possibly trust this man?  He’s a chameleon who changes his tune to suit his audience.

On the other hand, though Rick Santorum is not my first choice at the moment, he’s the only candidate who puts social issues first on his website.  He’s by far the most passionate defender of the unborn we have in this race, if not the country.

The Way Freedom of Speech Dies

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Time magazine, anyone still reading it?, has a truly despicable piece by Bruce Crumley in which he basically says that “they had it coming” after a French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo, was firebombed:

 

Okay, so can we finally stop with the idiotic, divisive, and destructive  efforts by “majority sections” of Western nations to bait Muslim members with  petulant, futile demonstrations that “they” aren’t going to tell “us” what can  and can’t be done in free societies? Because not only are such Islamophobic  antics futile and childish, but they also openly beg for the very violent  responses from extremists their authors claim to proudly defy in the name of  common good. What common good is served by creating more division and anger, and  by tempting belligerent reaction?

The difficulty in answering that question is also what’s making it hard to  have much sympathy for the French satirical newspaper firebombed this morning, after it  published another stupid and totally unnecessary edition mocking Islam. The  Wednesday morning arson attack destroyed the Paris editorial offices of Charlie Hebdo after the paper published an issue certain to enrage  hard-core Islamists (and offend average Muslims) with articles and “funny” cartoons featuring the Prophet Mohammed—depictions forbidden in Islam to boot.  Predictably, the strike unleashed a torrent of unqualified condemnation from  French politicians, many of whom called the burning of the notoriously  impertinent paper as “an attack on democracy by its enemies.”

We, by contrast, have another reaction to the firebombing: Sorry for your  loss, Charlie, and there’s no justification of such an illegitimate  response to your current edition. But do you still think the price you  paid for printing an offensive, shameful, and singularly humor-deficient parody  on the logic of “because we can” was so worthwhile? If so, good luck with those  charcoal drawings your pages will now be featuring. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Bloopers Happen

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Ah yes, Klavan on the culture, in any organization bloopers do tend to happen, a thought that does occur to me whenever I race into my secretary’s office saying I can’t find a file that I need for court in the next half hour, only to have her go into my office and find the file immediately, usually on my desk and usually by where my right hand would have been.  Hmmm, perhaps my secretary of 26 years working with me might have some more colorful descriptive terms to apply to such errors on my party instead of bloopers.  Perhaps, at least on occasion, she might agree with Henry Fonda in this scene from Twelve Angry Men: →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

Minute Sixteen and Counting (Updated)

I wasn’t going to blog anymore about Herman Cain, but I cannot let this go without comment:

Mark Block, chief of staff for the Cain campaign, laid the blame for the leaks about the allegations about Cain squarely at the Perry campaign’s feet in an interview today.

“The actions of the Perry campaign are despicable,” Block told Fox News tonight. “Rick Perry and his campaign owe Herman Cain and his family an apology. Both the Rick Perry campaign andPolitico did the wrong thing by reporting something that wasn’t true from anonymous sources. Like I said, they owe Herman Cain and his family an apology.”

Asked if he had any evidence, Block mentioned the fact that Cain had told Curt Anderson (who now works for Perry) about the accusations during his 2004 senate run. Cain accused Anderson earlier today; Anderson denied that he was.

As with every other aspect of his campaign, Herman Cain has been unable to address this situation in anything resembling a coherent manner.  I could let that pass, but instead of addressing the issue – or even not addressing it – the Cain camp decides to avert attention away from this mess by hurling unsubstantiated claims against one of his Republican rivals.  Could the Perry camp have leaked the information?  It’s certainly possible, but it just as likely could have been the Romney camp.  Or, and here’s a wild guess, someone did a little digging and came across a publicly available story.

Look, I don’t know if there’s anything more to the original story than that it was a misunderstanding.  But Cain is doing himself no favors by reacting as wildly as he is.  First he played the race card.  If he had been a Democrat conservatives would have collectively rolled their eyes, and yet some conservatives, including one that I highly respect, are willing to indulge this fantasy.  And now this.

What’s sickening is not just the man’s basic ineptitude, it’s that he is inspiring the same kind of blind loyalty to a cult of personality that we mock Democrats for with regards to Barack Obama.  And for what?  A candidate who has nothing to offer except a silly campaign slogan that is, for the record, politically unworkable.  A candidate who couldn’t even win a Senate primary in Georgia, of all states.  Ah, but he sounds so authentic.

And therein lies the problem with the conservative movement.  Mitt Romney is the establishment candidate, and we hate the establishment.  So our counter-reaction to the establishment is to rally around the guy who mouths the most platitudes, all the while ignoring the substance.  It’s like watching the Hot Air blog come to life.  The main contributors are a collection of mealy-mouthed wimps who fear the rise of genuinely conservative candidates.  On the other hand, the commenters are a  collection of raving “THIS GOES TO 11!!!!!!!!” “purists” who make the Free Republic look like a haven of logical thought.  It’s something behold, but it’s also a sad reflection on the conservative movement as we seem constantly to have to choose between raving psychosis and stultifying boredom.

What’s even funnier about the Cain dead-enders is envisioning their reaction when he drops out and turns around to endorse Mitt Romney.  But at least we would have beaten the guy who said “heartless” in a debate that one time.  Good job.  Look what happens when the search for purity leads to the nomination of the most impure candidate.

Then again, not everyone is turning a blind eye to Cain’s collapsing campaign.  Even his biggest booster in the blogosphereis starting to sound a little worried.

The fact that Chris Wilson works for a firm that has been associated with Rick Perry’s campaign may confirm widespread suspicions about the origin of Sunday’s Politico story, but as matters now stand, such speculation is irrelevant to whether Cain can survive this. Whatever the motives of the Politico sources, Cain’s fate depends on the specifics of the accusation and the credibility of his accuser.

Then again, knowing the spitefulness that guides certain people, he’ll only ascend in the polls.

Update:  FWIW, here is Eric Erickson’s interview with Perry, in which he firmly denies having anything to do with leaking the story.  Notice that despite the umms and ahhs, it doesn’t take a team of detectives to figure out what Perry is saying.

Saints Without Names, Souls Without Number

There’s been a great deal of talk lately about the world population hitting 7 Billion — a fake event, in a sense, since it’s impossible to know the exact time this will happen with any precision. Some news articles have given the mistaken impression that this represents the seven billionth person ever, but in fact the number is far, far higher. Our globe has never supported this many people at one time before, but throughout all of human history there have seem something approaching a hundred billion people, stretching from the babies born today to those born to wandering bands of hunter-gatherers over a hundred thousand years ago. A lot of people have lived and died. Just as we know only the tiniest fraction of people alive today, and the true number is not practically comprehensible to the human mind, even more so the number of people who have ever lived.

This pair of feast days, All Saints Day, yesterday, and All Souls Day, today, are not a bad time to think about this from a Christian perspective. In a sense, All Saints is a feast for every soul now enjoying the Beatific Vision, but it’s always seemed to me most especially apt for celebrating all those saints who are unknown to us. There are several thousand saints officially acknowledged by the Church, but this is by no means a comprehensive account of those who are with God in heaven, any more than the people we know of by name make up the full population of the world. We as Catholics believe that those people are definitely in heaven, but we certainly think there are many, many others who are there as well, including, we hope, our loved ones who have died. While the canonized saints provide us with a pantheon of those conspicuous for their holiness, All Saints is an ideal time to recall all those people who remain unknown to us who also enjoy God’s presence. And since few of us are likely to be considered so conspicuous in our holiness as to be recognized throughout the Church, it is in particular, perhaps, the feast of “people like us” now in heaven.

Of course, the difficulty, from a Catholic point of view in saying, “This is the feast of all our loved ones who are now in heaven,” is that even if destined for heaven our loved ones may not be in heaven yet. While as the Church Militant here on earth we look up to the Church Triumphant in heaven, we need also to offer up our prayers and sufferings for the Church Suffering — those cleansing themselves of lingering imperfection and attachment to sin in Purgatory. So it’s helpful that All Souls Day, when we remember in particular all those who may be in Purgatory and in need of our prayers, is paired directly with All Saints Day.

While I find myself hesitant to presume to name people I have known as those we celebrate on All Saints Day, All Souls Day is the day on which we pray for all those we know who have died. Praying that if they do not do so already, they may soon enjoy the Beatific Vision.

Obama is Brilliant

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I think intellectual agility tends to be one of the most overrated human characteristics in the modern world, while character, courage and morality tend to be underrated.  However, during the 2008 campaign we were constantly told by the media that Obama was brilliant and I assume that it is therefore reasonable to ask for evidence of this brilliance.  Anyone?  Feel free to supply evidence of the President’s brilliance in the comments thread to this post. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

The United Nations and human life issues…

The folks at C-FAM have been doing a wonderful job and have provided a wonderful service by tracking issues concerning human life at the United Nations (UN).  Their “Friday Report” is a “must read” for anyone who is interested in a quick, weekly update concerning these issues.

 

 

One “beneath the radar” effort at the UN that C-FAM has been tracking is the long-term strategy on the part of UN officials and agencies to make abortion legal internationally.  For example, last summer—during the months when UN press coverage is minimal—the UN Secretariat released a report from the UN Human Rights Council calling on all nations to accept that “women and girls must be granted access to legal abortion” in order that they might “fully enjoy their human rights.”

UN Special Rapporteur, Anand Grover, wrote the report which links abortion on demand with the fundamental right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.  Grover noted:

Criminal laws penalizing and restricting induced abortion are the paradigmatic examples of impermissible barriers to the realization of women’s right to health and must be eliminated….States must take measures to ensure that legal and safe abortion services are available, accessible, and of good quality. Safe abortions, however, will not immediately be available upon decriminalization unless States create conditions under which they may be provided. These conditions include establishing available and accessible clinics; the provision of additional training for physicians and health-care workers; enacting licensing requirements and ensuring the availability of the latest and safest medicines and equipment.

How far the UN’s mission has “progressed” (or has it really wandered astray?) since the 1950s when its focus was primarily upon the noble goals of promoting world peace, feeding the world’s children, and improving world health!

Today, “world peace” seems to imply advocating the murder of unborn infants, thus decreasing hunger among the world’s children and making medicines—like artificial forms of birth control and abortofacients—-a “human right” for women.

Interestingly, UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, introduces Grover’s report, stating that he “has the honour” of presenting the report to the UN General Assembly.  That’s hardly in keeping with the UN’s official stance of neutrality on abortion.  But, then, so also is Grover’s report.

 

 

To read the C-FAM report or to subscribe to it, click on the following link:

http://www.c-fam.org/fridayfax/volume-14/un-official-says-abortion-is-a-human-right,-secretary-general-endorses-report.html

Torches From God

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“We are always ready to make a saint or prophet of the educated man who goes into cottages to give a little kindly advice to the uneducated. The mediaeval saint or prophet was an uneducated man who walked into grand houses to give a little kindly advice to the educated.”

G. K. Chesterton

 

All Saints Day reminds us of all those holy men and women whom God, in His infinite mercy, sends us as torches to light our path in a dark world.  Filled with God’s love and grace, they make golden the pages of our histories with their lives and witness.  Feeling the lure of sin just as much as any of us, they turned to God and reflected His love to us.  They come in all sorts of humanity:  men and women, all nationalities, wise, simple, warriors, pacifists, miracle workers, saints whose only miracle was their life, humorous, humorless, clergy, laity, old, young, united only in their Faith and their love for the Highest Love. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading

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