Monthly Archives: January 2012

Ron Paul’s Foreign Policy: Golden Rule or Relativism?

If you move about those regions of the internets in which righteous display their moral superiority by posting sixty second video clips showing just how bad their opponents are, you have probably seen headlines lately along the lines of “Christians Boo Jesus” or “Republicans Mock Golden Rule”. Of course, one hardly needs to watch the clip, because in the dualism that is politicization, everyone already knows that they’re right and their opponents are wrong. But after the fifth or sixth iteration, I had to go ahead watch Ron Paul (who else) present his Golden-Rule based foreign policy to boos. Here’s the clip in question:

Or if, like me, you tend not to watch posted videos, here’s the money quote:

“My point is, that if another country does to us what we do to others, we aren’t going to like it very much. So I would say maybe we ought to consider a golden rule in foreign policy. We endlessly bomb these other countries and then we wonder why they get upset with us?”

Now, this sounds superficially high minded, and some people who really are high minded seem lured by it. Kyle, who has an genuine and expansive desire to understand “the other” has his dander up and says: Continue reading

The War on the Drug War

I caught a little of the Mark Levin show tonight, and he had a Ron Paul supporter on his show.  He gave the gentleman a good deal of time – two segments in fact – and was actually gracious to the caller.  The Paul supporter spent most of his time talking about the seminal issue of our day, the one issue that is truly on the mind of every American voter: the drug war.

There are legitimate reasons to oppose the prohibition on drugs.  I don’t particularly agree with this philosophy, but it’s not outside the bounds of reasonable discourse.  What baffles me is the attention that libertarians pay to what is a fairly minor issue.  We are still suffering economically, with an unemployment rate that is hovering at about 8.5 percent, and a real unemployment rate that is significantly higher.  Our national debt is out of control.  Soon Obamacare will be fully implemented, thus making the debt problem and our health care even worse.  Meanwhile, President Obama shrugs off the Constitution like it is some dusty old piece of parchment in making “recess” appointments, and has an Attorney General who continues to obfuscate about a horribly botched gun operation in Mexico.  And yet this guy wanted to talk about the drug war.

Sometime ago I once watched a Libertarian convention, and watched speaker after speaker rail about the criminalization of marijuana.  I had the same reaction then as I did this evening: this is really the hill you want to die on?  Sure, if you want to make this a part of your platform, knock your socks off.  But to make this one of the focal points of your outrage against the government?  Really?

We all have issues that we care about more deeply than do other people.  It just strikes me that libertarians would be better off focusing their attention on matters that are a tad more relevant to people living in the real world.

 

Aligning with Catholic identity: An embrace or artful strategic communications and public relations?

With the 2012 election year well underway, the Obama administration’s intransigence concerning healthcare entitlements as these impact religious institutions, in general, and Catholic hospitals and educational institutions, in particular, continues to boil on the backburner.

At issue are some of the regulations concerning the implementation of the 2009 Obamacare law issued by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, and scheduled to take effect on August 1, 2012.  Especially disconcerting for the U.S. Catholic Church is the particular regulation requiring new insurance plans for women to cover all contraceptives approved  by the Food and Drug Administration with no co-pays or other cost sharing.


While the regulation provides an exemption for some religious employers, it is not broad enough to cover Roman Catholic and some Protestant institutions.  And even though religious organizations can be exempted from the regulation, the organization’s purpose must be to inculcate religious values, it must primarily employ and serve people holding the  same religious beliefs, and be considered a nonprofit organization under provisions of the tax code that cover churches and religious orders.  Furthermore, the exemption applies only to employer-sponsored health coverage, not the individual plans that some colleges and universities offer to  students.

Commenting on this regulation last October 5, the Chair of the U.S.  Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, said:

The HHS’s “religious employer exemption” is so  extremely narrow that it protects almost no one.  Jesus himself, or the Good Samaritan of his famous parable, would not qualify  as “religious enough” for the exemption, since they insisted on helping people  who did not share their view of God.

The reason this issue continues to boil on the backburner during this election year is that the nation’s Catholic colleges and universities may have awakened from their sleepy “catholic” identity to protest that, as Catholic institutions of higher education, they would be required to offer health insurance that covers those contraceptives and abortofacients despite the fact that Church teaching is opposed to them.

In November, 2011, Belmont Abbey College filed a lawsuit, seeking an injunction to keep the federal government from implementing the regulation.

The President of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, Michael Galligan-Stierle, said: “Conscience is now moved to the margins and is no longer protected.”

And, in a  letter to HHS Secretary Sebelius, to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the University of Notre Dame’s President, Reverend John Jenkins, CSC, wrote:

It is an  impossible position.  This would compel Notre Dame to either pay for contraception and sterilization in violation of the church’s moral teaching, or to discontinue our employee and student health care plans in violation of the church’s social  teaching.

In contrast, the Executive Director of Americans United for Separation of  Church and State, Reverend Barry Lynn, believes a broader exemption is not only  unnecessary but also unconstitutional.  Lynn is of the opinion that since Christian and Catholic colleges and  universities accept federal money in the form of loans and grants, they should then be required to play by the government’s rules.  In an interview with Inside Higher Education, he said:

Denying contraceptive coverage to students because of religious belief isn’t  an issue of freedom of religion.  That seems wildly broad, painfully at  odds with the reality of good health care in America, and utterly unnecessary  under the Constitution.  What’s not sensible is declaring that every  belief you have needs to trump the generally applicable rules.

 

So, what has all of this to do with the 2012 elections?

The Motley Monk wouldn’t at all be surprised to discover that President Obama is waiting to see what his polling numbers look like come late Spring 2012.  If the President needs “the Catholic vote” (The Motley Monk disputes that such a monolith exists today), then the President’s minions at his Chicago election headquarters and White House policy operations office will figure out a way to “thread the needle.”

The outcome?

Some type of exemption that satisfies both pro-life and pro-abortion advocates.

Perhaps the good news is that at least some leaders of U.S. Catholic higher education are aligning themselves in public with Church teaching.  Or, might it be good strategic communications and public relations on their part, meaning that this is an artful way of seizing the argument and appealing to Catholic parents that the tuition they must pay for an undergraduate education at their institutions is worth the cost?

The Motley Monk thinks it likely that it’s a bit of both.

 

Political Miscellania: 1/17/12

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The first of our Political Miscellanias for 2012.

1.  Newt Gingrich v. The Food Stamp-President-Gingrich demonstrated at the debate last night why he was once in first place  in the race.  He is unwilling to let the media set the terms of the agenda;  in the cut and thrust of debate he is unmatchable;  and he is invincibly politically incorrect, at least on the stump.  As to the importance of early jobs, he is correct.  My high school job, scrubbing dishes and floors, taught me some valuable early lessons about work, money and savings that have stood me in good stead throughout my life.

2.  Santorum won Iowa-It looks like Rick Santorum probably won the Iowa caucus.  I have heard that his margin of victory is probably about eighty ballots.

3.  Jon Huntsman drops out-Every Democrat’s favorite Republican has dropped out of the race.  Mandarin Chinese teachers in this country are devastated.  Huntsman’s campaign never took off, and his Waterloo arrived swiftly when he came in third behind Ron Paul in New Hampshire.  Although it obviously did not help him, Huntsman will always have a warm spot in my heart for this campaign commercial:

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November 2, 1983: Ronald Reagan Signs Bill Creating Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday

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Mrs. King, members of the King family, distinguished Members of the Congress, ladies and gentlemen, honored guests, I’m very pleased to welcome you to the White House, the home that belongs to all of us, the American people.

When I was thinking of the contributions to our country of the man that we’re honoring today, a passage attributed to the American poet John Greenleaf Whittier comes to mind. “Each crisis brings its word and deed.” In America, in the fifties and sixties, one of the important crises we faced was racial discrimination. The man whose words and deeds in that crisis stirred our nation to the very depths of its soul was Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Martin Luther King was born in 1929 in an America where, because of the color of their skin, nearly 1 in 10 lived lives that were separate and unequal. Most black Americans were taught in segregated schools. Across the country, too many could find only poor jobs, toiling for low wages. They were refused entry into hotels and restaurants, made to use separate facilities. In a nation that proclaimed liberty and justice for all, too many black Americans were living with neither.

In one city, a rule required all blacks to sit in the rear of public buses. But in 1955, when a brave woman named Rosa Parks was told to move to the back of the bus, she said, “No.” A young minister in a local Baptist church, Martin Luther King, then organized a boycott of the bus company—a boycott that stunned the country. Within 6 months the courts had ruled the segregation of public transportation unconstitutional. Continue reading

The Very Quiddity of Civility

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Hattip to Creative Minority Report.  No, the above video is not a Daily Show spoof.  There really and truly is a Froma Harrop.  She is an editorial writer for the Providence Journal and President of the National Conference of Editorial Writers.  (I know that sounds like a spoof, but it isn’t.)  The NCEW has a project to restore civility in American life, and you may read all about it here.

On August 2, 2011, Ms. Harrop delivered herself of this glittering gem of civility:

 

Make no mistake: The tea party Republicans have engaged in economic terrorism against the United States — threatening to blow up the economy if they don’t get what they want. And like the al-Qaida bombers, what they want is delusional: the dream of restoring some fantasy caliphate in which no one pays taxes, while the country is magically protected from foreign attack and the elderly get government-paid hip replacements.

Americans are not supposed to negotiate with terrorists, but that’s what Obama has been doing. Obama should have grabbed the bully pulpit early on, bellowing that everything can be discussed but America’s honor, which requires making good on its debt obligations. Lines about “we’re all at fault” and “Republicans should compromise” are beyond pathetic on a subject that should be beyond discussion.

That the Republican leadership couldn’t control a small group of ignoramuses in its ranks has brought disgrace on their party. But oddly, Obama’s passivity made it hard for responsible Republicans to control their destructive children. Continue reading

Compassionate Conservatism Revisited

A quasi-confession: One of my favorite politicians of the last fifteen years is George W. Bush. Unfortunately, I don’t mean George W. Bush, the President. I mean, George W. Bush, the candidate for President in 2000. The one who criticized Clinton-era attempts at “nation-building” and promised a “modest” foreign policy. The one who prophetically predicted the events that would undo his own Presidency several years later:

If we don’t stop extending our troops all around the world in nation-building missions, then we’re going to have a serious problem coming down the road. And I’m going to prevent that.

Well, he may have been a little off on the second prediction. 

Bush the Candidate was able to articulate pro-life principles effectively. He promised to appoint judges who were willing to occasionally glance at the Constitution. He favored raising the Earned Income Tax Credit for low and moderate income individuals. He was committed to implementing accountability in Education. Bush the Candidate advocated for expansion of social services (e.g. what would become Medicare Part D). At the time, it appeared to me that he was the best option by a mile from a Catholic perspective.

Of course, 2000 was an interesting time. No one was interested in health care reform after the Clintonian debacle in the early 90′s (other than Medicare Part D). A bipartisan compromise on welfare reform appeared to be overwhelmingly successful. There were no pressing international political issues, and Bush, as mentioned above, promised to be more modest in our dealings with the world than Clinton had been. Which left culture war issues like abortion and embryonic stem cell research as the primary differences between the candidates in what amounted to a Coke/Pepsi culture clash. Good times, with internet-bubble fattened 401k’s for much of the middle class.

U.S. politics have changed a bit since then. But I still think Bush’s platform was a good one. To be sure, it basically charted a European-style Christian Democrat course for the U.S., but then I like European-style Christian Democracy, which after all, was consciously modeled in part on Catholic Social Teaching. Obviously, there are a lot of complications with any political philosophy, but, on the whole, I’m in favor of both functioning markets and generous social safety nets (taxes on individual earnings and consumption; less regulation and corporatism). Although, unlike Bush in practice (and the Affordable Care Act), I think we need to pay for social services when we expand them. I suppose most AC readers are to the right of this point of view, but I’m curious:

How did you view Bush the candidate circa 2000, and what are your thoughts on Christian Social Democrats, particularly their effortso to model political philosophy on Catholic Social Teaching?

Fr. Michael Rodriguez Responds to Bishop Ochoa

The following is a press release from Fr. Michael Rodriguez concerning the unprecedented legal action taken by (his) Bishop Armando Ochoa against him (I formatted the press release to eliminate spaces, content has not been touched or changed):

On January 12, 2012, Most Rev. Armando Ochoa, Administrator of the Diocese of El Paso, filed a lawsuit against me.  Once again, I want to reiterate that his action is dishonest and unjust.  I pose the simple question:  over the course of the past 9 ½ years, who is the one who has been laboring, struggling, sacrificing day and night, and caring for the spiritual and material well-being of San Juan Bautista Catholic Church?  Has it been Fr. Michael Rodríguez or Most Rev. Armando Ochoa?  Based on the factual record, which of the two has greater credibility when it comes to protecting and furthering the spiritual and material patrimony of San Juan Bautista?

SPIRITUAL GOODS

Over the course of my 9 ½ years as parish administrator of San Juan Bautista, by the grace and mercy of God, the following spiritual goods were “achieved”:

1) Restoration of the glorious Traditional Latin Mass

2) Gradual restoration of the Catholic Church’s sacred language, Latin

3) Gradual restoration of Gregorian Chant and sacred music

4) Devout and worthy reception of the Holy Eucharist on the tongue and kneeling, accompanied by preparatory and thanksgiving prayers

5) Silence at Holy Mass and a real catholic sense of the sacred

6) Modest dress and reverent behavior at Holy Mass and inside church

7) Two daily Masses at 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

8. Holy Hours with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament at least four times per week

9) Regularly-scheduled Confessions at least five times per week;  Confession available at any time, day or night, by appointment

10) Stations of the Cross every Friday in both english (12:30 p.m.) and spanish (6:45 p.m.)

11) Parish Lenten Missions in both english and spanish

12) Numerous vocations to the priesthood and religious life

13) Christ the King, Corpus Christi, and Our Lady of Guadalupe Processions through the neighborhood

Continue reading

The Non-Electability of Rick Santorum

It has become accepted as a matter of fact in some circles that Rick Santorum is completely unelectable in a general election.  He is so outside the mainstream that Barack Obama would simply wipe the floor with him.  I’ve even seen it asserted by more than one commenter than Santorum wouldn’t even match Walter Mondale’s electoral vote total.

The more extreme claim is patently ludicrous to anyone even remotely familiar with America’s political landscape.  I would suggest that, at a minimum, no Republican candidate can lose the following states in the upcoming presidential election:  Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Utah.  I’ve left out states like Alaska and West Virginia that I think are longshots for Obama as well.  That’s not exactly Mondale territory – that’s not even Dukakis bad.

Fine, you say, Santorum won’t lose every state.  He still can’t hold the line in swing states like Ohio, Florida, Virginia, Missouri and others.  He is just too extreme for these states.

Really?  So the guy who won statewide election in a leaning-Democratic swing state twice has no shot in leaning-Republican swing states?  Yes, I know that Santorum lost by 18 points the last time he ran in Pennsylvania, and that should not be so casually dismissed.  But he did win twice, and he ran as a conservative no different from the man he is now.

As for Santorum’s 18 point loss – yes, it is bad and it looks strange that someone who lost by such a large amount in his last election could possibly win the presidency.  I would just note that in November 2006 Mitt Romney’s approval rating in the state of Massachusetts stood at 34 percent.  The only reason he was not shellacked in his re-election effort is because he didn’t even attempt to run again.

Just saying.

Theme From Glory

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Once let the black man get upon his person the brass letters US, let him get an eagle on his button, and a musket on his shoulder, and bullets in his pocket, and there is no power on earth or under the earth which can deny that he has earned the right of citizenship in the United States.

                                                               Frederick Douglass

Something for the weekend.  The theme from the movie Glory (1989), which tells the story of the 54th Massachusetts, one of the first black regiments raised by the Union in the Civil War;   a superb historical film and a long overdue salute to the black Union troops who helped preserve this nation. Continue reading

The Lemon Test Strikes Again!

 

Senior Federal District Judge Ronald Lagueux, a 1986 Reagan appointee, has ordered the Cranston High School in Cranston, Rhode Island to remove a mural, pictured above, depicting a school prayer.  The mural had been in the school since 1963.  The suit, as is usual in these modern iconoclastic cases, was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of an atheist student and her father, Mark Ahlquist.  Jessica Ahlquist, the 16 year old atheist who brought the suit, has become an atheist celeb on atheist sites on the internet.  She doesn’t think much of the Catholic Church, is indeed a fallen away Catholic, and Cranston is 90% Catholic, so this suit was her way, actually I suspect more her father’s way, to poke a stick in the eye of local Catholics.  Go here to read the opinion.  Judge Lagueux’s decision is notable for its overall reliance on the Lemon test, and I will leave to Justice Scalia below to set forth my views of that court created doctrine.

In few areas of the law has the Constitution been more twisted and deformed than in the area of First Amendment allowance of religious expression in schools.  Justice Scalia gave a useful summary in 1993 in the Lamb’s Chapel v. Moriches Union Free School District case:

As to the Court’s invocation of the Lemon test: Like some ghoul in a late night horror movie that repeatedly sits up in its grave and shuffles abroad, after being repeatedly killed and buried, Lemon stalks our Establishment Clause jurisprudence once again, frightening thelittle children and school attorneys of Center Moriches Union Free School District. Continue reading

January 13, 1862: Letter From Mudd

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Orestes A. Brownson, a Catholic convert, was the greatest Catholic writer of mid-Nineteenth Century America.  He published Brownson’s Quarterly Journal, an influential and popular magazine which examined the political, cultural and literary scene of the America of its time.  One hundred and fifty years ago one of his subscribers sat down and wrote him a letter.  Dr. Samuel Mudd was an unknown figure at the time, but just over three years hence all of America would know his name as the physician who  treated the assassin John Wilkes Booth after he had slain President Lincoln.  Mudd was arrested in the aftermath of the assassination.  Mudd claimed to be completely innocent.  However, at his trial evidence was presented that established that Mudd had contacts with Booth in late 1864.  What they talked about is lost to history.  Evidence by Mudd’s former slaves helped establish that Mudd had been part of the conspiracy.  He was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment, escaping the death penalty by a single vote.

Mudd was held for four years at Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas.  During a yellow fever epidemic in 1867 the prison doctor died and Mudd volunteered to take his place.  His efforts helped stem the outbreak and the soldiers at the fort wrote a petition to President Johnson asking for clemency for Mudd: He inspired the hopeless with courage and by his constant presence in the midst of danger and infection…. [Many] doubtless owe their lives to the care and treatment they received at his hands.  Due to this, and the ceaseless efforts of his defense attorney Thomas W. Ewing, Jr. who was influential with the Johnson administration, on February 8, 1869 Johnson pardoned Mudd.  Since Mudd’s release there have been continuing efforts to clear his name.  In 1992 my former Congressman, Republican Thomas Ewing, co-sponsored with Steny Hoyer, Democrat Maryland, House bill 1885 to overturn the conviction of Mudd.  The bill failed in committee.

Here is the text of Mudd’s letter to Brownson: Continue reading

Bp. Ochoa’s Legal Action Against Fr. Michael Rodriguez (UPDATED)

UPDATE IV:  Fr. Michael Rodriguez Releases a Second Press Release

UPDATE III:  Excellent synopsis at the El Paso Times

UPDATE IIBishops Ochoa Press Release 2012 01 11 – PDF

UPDATE I:  Court Documents: Bp. Ochoa Lawsuit Filed Against Fr. Rodriguez – PDF

Bishop Armando Ochoa of the Diocese of El Paso has raised serious accusations against Fr. Michael Rodriguez, the brave priest who stood up for the sanctity of marriage at the El Paso city council, by filing a legal action against Fr. Rodriguez due to alleged financial misconduct.

Fr. Michael Rodriguez has released the following statement:

It is unfortunate that Bishop Armando Ochoa, Administrator of the Diocese of El Paso and no longer our bishop, has decided to pursue legal action against me.  Such legal action is unjust.

Over the course of 9 1/2 years as the parish priest of San Juan Bautista Catholic Church, I poured my heart and soul into caring for this parish, both in terms of temporal goods, and especially spiritual goods.  I’m confident that hundreds of my former parishioners will eagerly testify to this.

In his January 11, 2012, press release, Bishop Ochoa stated, “Fr. Rodríguez’s handling and use of donated funds has compromised the financial integrity of San Juan Bautista.”  This is not true.  Bishop Ochoa’s statement also refers to “Fr. Rodríguez’s mishandling of funds.”  Again, this is not true.  I have always honored, respected, and made good use of the financial patrimony of San Juan Bautista.  I stake my entire reputation on this claim.

On September 20, 2011, I opened my heart to my bishop, like a son to a father, and was completely honest and forthcoming with him as to the financial affairs of San Juan Bautista.  I told him everything.  He chose not to believe me.  For the past four months, my canon lawyer has made repeated efforts to resolve this matter with Most Rev. Armando Ochoa, and he has refused.

I have a great love for my former parish of San Juan Bautista, and my former parishioners.  I am ready to fight for and defend them, whatever the cost.  I am also ready to protect my own good name and reputation.  I have never misappropriated or misused parish funds.

Finally, I am convinced that the real reason for my former bishop’s actions against me is due to my defense of the Catholic Church’s teaching with regard to homosexuality as well as my adherence to the Roman Liturgy of 1962.  If necessary, I will present prodigious evidence to support this contention.

I will continue to do my best to be a good and holy priest, no matter the cost.  I will continue to proclaim and teach the truths of the Roman Catholic Church, especially in the area of sexual morality, no matter the cost.  I will continue to adhere to the Ancient Rite of the Roman Catholic Church, no matter the cost.  Please keep me in your prayers during this difficult trial.  Please entrust me and my priesthood to the loving protection of Sancta Dei Genetrix, the Most Holy Mother of God.

Thank you and may the good Lord bless you as this joyous Christmas season continues.

End of statement.

This news is just coming in as I type this.  The El Paso Diocesan website has crashed where the bishops press release originates from.  When I am rested early tomorrow morning, I will transcribe the PDF file that I have of this press release in full.

Let us pray for all involved.

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