9

HHS Mandate Hastens The Demise Of Liberal Catholicism & Ensures The Growth of Catholic Orthodoxy

In a bizarre way President Barack Obama, through his Health and Human Services Mandate (HHS) has united religious orthodoxy across the spectrum as never before. In its wake liberal religiosity is going the way of striped pants, bell bottoms and lava lamps; something that is only seen on rare occasions usually when too much alcohol is flowing. At the precipice stands liberal Catholicism, for soon there will be no need for them to retain any religious presence. Liberal Catholic mouthpieces like the National Catholic Reporter are destined to go the way of so many other products whose users outgrew the usefulness of what they read and believed.  Mainline liberal churches have imploded all the while the numbers of Catholics and Evangelicals continue to grow. Apparently the liberal religious elite are so smart, they have disappeared into the mists of history.  Even if the current baby boomers remain religious, their liberal minded children have by and large abandoned the faith to the whims of Hallmark and Deepak Chopra styled spirituality.

In my last book The Tide is Turning Toward Catholicism, I noted that having worked in the Church with a good deal of liberals I cannot think of a single instance in which their children retained their liberal views and also practiced their Catholic faith. I have met their children and while some have become Evangelicals and others have seen the light and come over to orthodox minded Catholicism; those who have remained liberal would only darken a church door if a close relative passed away. Sadly not only have they left their faith but many can’t find a single good thing to say about it. Their compliments are reserved for Big Government and Libertinism.

I am not writing this to sound clever or flippant or negative, simply to relate what I see. In many ways, the tide is turning like never before, and we can’t say that Jesus didn’t tell us that wheat would be separated from the chaff. Indeed we can’t serve two masters and the liberals by and large have thrown their lot in with the Herod’s of the world. While the liberal elite pretend to live oh so sophisticated lives; they in reality are nothing more than a fallen character in a 1980s hair band ballad video, succumbing to the vices on Sunset Boulevard that the liberal elite relegated to some degenerative red state tourist. As angry as we may be at the religious left’s venom and their apostasy, they most certainly need our prayers and we should never forget that supposedly wise people can be fooled as much as anyone by the dark side.

In my previous article, I noted the striking metaphor of the pall of smoke hanging over the Acropolis in Athens caused by rioting Greeks who could no longer pay for their extravagant lifestyle. They are merely the first example of a culture that has aborted and contracepted itself into oblivion, prophetically predicted by Pope Paul VI in his encyclical Humanae Vitae. For the Greeks, Big Government had the answers and their Epicurean ancestors had the lifestyle that seemed oh so appealing. However in reality they couldn’t pay the bills because charged with the simple mission of reproducing they felt it too complicated of a task. Continue Reading

6

59% of Catholics Disapprove of Obama’s Job Performance

 

 

 

Interesting numbers from Rasmussen:

Catholics strongly disapprove of the job President Obama is doing as the debate continues over his administration’s new policy forcing Catholic institutions to pay for contraception they morally oppose. While the president’s overall job approval ratings have improved over the past couple of months, they have remained steady among Catholics.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 59% of likely Catholic voters nationwide at least somewhat disapprove of the president’s job performance, while 40% at least somewhat approve. But the passion’s on the side of those who don’t like the job he’s doing: 44% Strongly Disapprove versus 19% who Strongly Approve.

Fifty-four percent (54%) of Catholics voted for Obama in November 2008. However, Republican hopeful Mitt Romney currently leads the president among Catholic voters by a 52% to 35% margin. Among all voters, however, President Obama leads Romney and all Republican hopefuls.

These results are from surveys conducted over the seven days ending February 12, 2012. Among all likely voters, 50% approve of how the president is doing and 49% disapprove.  This includes 26% who Strongly Approve and 38% who Strongly Disapprove. Rasmussen Reports also provides daily updates of the president’s Job Approval and match-ups between President Obama and both Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. Continue Reading

5

Newt Fading

I wanted to followup on Don’s post from yesterday about National Review urging Gingrich to exit the race.  As I said in the comments, I owe NRO a slight mea culpa.  I thought that by including Santorum (and Huntsman) with Romney as the candidates they thought worthy of the nomination they were merely blowing smoke.  Yet they have given Santorum fairly favorable coverage, so much so that angry Romney fanboys like Old Fan think that NR is in the tank for Santorum.  I still think the hatchet piece on Gingrich was out of line, so I’m not totally ready to forgive them for that.

As for the actual meat of their suggestion, there is much merit to it.  There have been nine primaries and caucuses thus far.  Gingrich was the landslide winner in South Carolina, but has otherwise done terribly.  He’s finished a distant second twice, and has barely hovered around ten percent in the other contests.  Right now one poll has Gingrich in fourth place behind Ron Paul, and other polls show a clear trend towards Rick Santorum as the favorite among the anti-Romneys.  Now, polls have shifted mightily throughout the campaign season, so Gingrich shouldn’t head for the exits quite yet.  But poor showings in Arizona and Michigan should just about do it for Newt.  Considering the fact that the bulk of his supporters will likely flock to Santorum (where as Santorum supporters are evenly split between Romney and Newt as their backup choices), and that Newt is much more favorably disposed to Santorum than Romney, I would imagine that Newt will not stay in the race if he has another pair of fourth place finishes.

That being said, if National Review wants Gingrich out of the race the last thing it should have done is publish an editorial making this feeling public.  Republican primary voters in general, and Gingrich supporters in particular have, to a large extent, been driven by spite.  It’s practically impossible to read a screed written by a Gingrich supporter that doesn’t mention the “Establishment” once or a dozen times.  Throw in the fact that National Review is already reviled with a special kind of intensity in camp Gingrich – and with good reason – and I can envision Gingrich supporters doubling down.  Newt himself has shown that he is prone to fits of spite, so National Review may have just guaranteed that Newt will stay in the race longer than intended.  In fact I’d submit that if National Review wanted Newt out of the race the best thing it could do is endorse the man.

13

Archbishop Chaput: HHS Mandate Dangerous and Insulting

 

 

Archbishop Charles Chaput of the Philadelphia Archdiocese has never been one to mince words, and he does not disappoint in regard to the Mandate and the “compromise”.

 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services refused on Jan. 20 to broaden the exception to its mandate that nearly all Catholic employers must cover contraception, abortifacients, and sterilization in their health-care plans.  

 

An “accommodation” offered Friday by the White House did not solve the problem. Instead, it triggered withering criticism from legal scholars such as Notre Dame’s Carter Snead, Harvard’s Mary Ann Glendon, Princeton’s Robert George, and Catholic University of America president John Garvey, along with non-Catholic scholars including Yuval Levin, the religious liberty law firm the Becket Fund, and numerous Catholic and other organizations.  

 

Many Catholics are confused and angry. They should be.  

 

 Quite a few Catholics supported President Obama in the last election, so the ironies here are bitter. Many feel betrayed. They’re baffled that the Obama administration would seek to coerce Catholic employers, private and corporate, to violate their religious convictions.  

 

But it’s clear that such actions are developing into a pattern. Whether it was the administration’s early shift toward the anemic language of “freedom of worship” instead of the more historically grounded and robust concept of “freedom of religion” in key diplomatic discussions; or its troubling effort to regulate religious ministers recently rejected 9-0 by the Supreme Court in the Hosanna Tabor case; or the revocation of the U.S. bishops’ conference human-trafficking grant for refusing to refer rape victims to abortion clinics, it seems obvious that this administration is – to put it generously – tone deaf to people of faith.  

 

 Philadelphians may wish to reflect on the following facts: The Archdiocesan Secretariat for Catholic Human Services spends $278 million annually on services to the community. About 4,000 employees make up our secretariat’s workforce. Catholic Social Services is the largest social-service agency in Pennsylvania and the largest residential care/social-service subcontractor with the Department of Human Services of the City of Philadelphia.  

 

There’s more. Archdiocesan Catholic Health Care Services is the largest faith-based provider of long-term-care services to the poor and elderly in the five-county area, and the seventh-largest nationally. And our Nutritional Development Services ministry serves more than eight million meals a year to schoolchildren, summer programs, and child-care centers. It also provides 2 million pounds of nonperishable food to needy families and the elderly through its Community Food Program.  

 

Much of the money used by these ministries comes from public funding. But of course, the reason these ministries are trusted with public funding is that they do an excellent job. The service relationship works well without compromising the integrity of either the government or the Church. In fact, in a practical sense, government often benefits more than the Church. Continue Reading

11

George Will: This Is What Liberalism Looks Like

George Will on ABC’s This Week last Sunday made three points in regard to the HHS Mandate “compromise” that are undeniably true:

 

 

Three points.

As Paul Ryan said to you, this is an accounting gimmick that they’ve done that in no way ends the complicity of Catholic institutions and individuals in delivering services they consider morally abhorrent.
Second. You asked the question, ‘How did this come about?’ George, this is what liberalism looks like. This is what the progressive state does. It tries to break all the institutions of civil society, all the institutions that mediate between the individual and the state. They have to break them to the saddle of the state.
Third. The Catholic Bishops, it serves them right. They’re the ones who were really hot for Obamacare, with a few exceptions. But they were all in favor of this. And this is what it looks like when the government decides it’s going to make your healthcare choices for you. Continue Reading

33

Randians on the Right

Speaking as a former Rick Perry supporter, I promise you that not all of us are petulant brats.  I cannot speak for others, unfortunately.

Red State’s all-out assault on Santorum comes as no surprise.  This is a blog that perceives all who fail short of achieving purity as a conservative (whatever that’s supposed to mean) as heretics.  So they have taken a few incidents where Santoum fell short – and in some cases, he did cast a wrong vote or endorsed the wrong candidate – and have now transformed Santorum into some kind of statist.

The shrill attacks on Red State are to be expected.  What’s disappointing is seeing an otherwise insightful blogger like Ace of Spades hyperventilate ignorantly about Santorum.  What set Ace off was this comment by Santorum from much earlier in the campaign:

One of the things I will talk about that no president has talked about before is I think the dangers of contraception in this country, the whole sexual libertine idea … Many in the Christian faith have said, “Well, that’s okay … contraception’s okay.”

It’s not okay because it’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be. They’re supposed to be within marriage, for purposes that are, yes, conjugal … but also procreative. That’s the perfect way that a sexual union should happen. We take any part of that out, we diminish the act. And if you can take one part out that’s not for purposes of procreation, that’s not one of the reasons, then you diminish this very special bond between men and women, so why can’t you take other parts of that out? And all of a sudden, it becomes deconstructed to the point where it’s simply pleasure. And that’s certainly a part of it—and it’s an important part of it, don’t get me wrong—but there’s a lot of things we do for pleasure, and this is special, and it needs to be seen as special.

Ace is displeased: Continue Reading

11

The Militant Secular Left Shows Their Cards, Proving That The Tide Continues To Turn Toward Catholicism

The militant secular left thinks they have won a victory with President Barack Obama’s “Accommodation” with regard to the Health and Human Services (HHS) Mandate ordering religious based institutions to provide contraceptives, sterilizations and the morning after abortion pill. Some of the left couldn’t contain their glee, one guest on MSNBC described President Obama’s move as “brilliant.” In their distorted thinking they surmise that since not all Catholics adhere to the Church’s teachings, especially on birth control, they can cause a split in the Church.

First of all, the militant secular left continually cites the Guttmacher Institute’s polling, which is about as accurate as the daily pronouncements of Syria’s Bashar Assad. Secondly, it is one thing for Catholics to go against the Church’s teachings, it is quite another to say they are proud of it and want more Big Government telling them what they and the Catholic Church to do. The sheer nuttiness of this was illustarted in a discussion which occurred on Sean Hannity’s the Great American Panel seen on Fox News last week. One of the participants Jehmu Greene told fellow panelist Andrea Tantaros that without birth control she wouldn’t be here. When the incredulous Tantaros wondered how that could logical be, Greene went on a tirade that demeaned women who have children and or decide to work at home.

For years the militant secular left has treated pregnancy as a disease and families as inconvenient truths interfering with their own narcissistic ends. Powerhouse television shows like Sex and City helped to illustrate this point. Katharine Jean Lopez of the National Review wrote some time ago how disgusted she felt seeing men demeaned as objects in the Sex and City movie, the very treatment feminists have railed about for years.

However with the narcissistic Sex and City lifestyle comes another reality playing out in the streets of Athens, Greece and soon to come to a city or country near you in the western world. The declining birth rate means the youngest among us will have to eventually have to pay for a culture that aborted or contracepted itself into oblivion. The generous benefits demanded by those cultures, especially from the militant secular left can only last so long. As the old saying goes; “The problem with Socialism is eventually you run out of other people’s money.” The ancient Greek world gods who hailed narcissism and hedonism and whose lifestyle was proselytized by the Epicureans seem as irrelevant as ever as the pall of smoke hangs over the Acropolis, a fitting metaphor for what the militant secular left has wrought. Continue Reading

13

The United Nations, sustainable population development, and the Easter Bunny…

In contrast to the Vatican’s steadfast opposition to the use of artificial means of birth control, the United Nations continues to sound the drumbeat of “sustainable population development,” asserting that it’s nothing short of an “imperative” for the 21st century and cannot be achieved without improving women’s reproductive health.  In short, the hypothesis is that reducing fertility ensures economic success.

 

No one is more convinced of the validity of this hypothesis than is the Executive Director of the United Nations’ Family Planning Agency (UNFPA), Babatunde Osotimehin.

In a February 2012 press release, Osotimehin asserted that reducing fertility through family planning—including free access to contraceptives and abortions—is the key to ensure economic development.

The problem with well-intentioned ideologues like Osotimehin is that they conveniently overlook the demographic facts and economic implications that contradict their hypothesis.

Consider the example of Japan.

Based on a “moderate” interpretation of Japan’s 2010 census in a report published by the Daily Yomiuri Online, by 2060:

  • Japan’s population will fall 30% (<90M), with those aged <14 years numbering less than 8M, compared to those aged 65+ who will number 35M (or, 39.9% of Japan’s population).
  • Japan’s fertility rate (the expected number of children born per couple) will be 1.35 in 2060, down from 1.39 in 2010 and far below the 2.08 needed to keep Japan’s population from shrinking.
  • In 1960, 11.2 workers supported 1 retiree. In 2010, 2.8 workers supported 1retiree. By 2060, 1.3 workers will support 1 retiree.

 

So, Japan is now confronted with an increasing aging population and a decreasing young population.  The economic implications of these demographic facts are nothing short of devastating!  Topping the list: What these facts imply for Japan’s social security and taxation systems.

While the Church has been warning about these matters for decades, The Motley Monk was pleased to read an article in ZENIT that the global stock markets are beginning to pick up on the Vatican’s argument and projecting what “sustainable population development” means for almost every developed market.

A strategist for Deutsche Bank in Hong Kong, Ajay Kapur, believes it would be a crucial error for politicians and economists to believe that Japan’s economic stagnation in the last two decades was something unique.  Kapur said:

In the next five years, all of the 18 developed countries for which Deutsche has property market data going back more than half a century will see a decline in their working age population ratios.

 

Kapur then warned that this combination of fewer workers in the labor force and high levels of indebtedness is sure to affect the global economic environment adversely.

Why?

Many other nations—for example, Taiwan, the European Union, the United States—are only now beginning to deal with the consequences of near- to below- replacement fertility rates.  The President of Taiwan, Ma Ying-jeou, has warned that her nation’s lack of children presents “a serious national security threat.”

As bad as that is, it’s worse yet for Latin America.

Why?

Forget the region’s endemic poverty.  It’s a region where UNFPA-sponsored programs have proven especially effective in reducing the region’s population.  To wit:

  • In 1960, Brazil’s fertility rate was 6 children/woman.  In 2010, Brazil boasted a lower fertility rate than the United States, at 1.9 children/woman.
  • In 2025, 26% of Latin America’s population will be 60+ years old.

 

The estimated impact on the region will be an even lower standard of living.  Considering the region’s overall current standard of living, that’s lower than lower!

 

The Motley Monk has thought for decades that Pope Paul VI’s encyclical “Humanae vitae” is an infallible pronouncement because, in that document, the Pope presciently forecast some of the implications of what today is called the “birth control mentality.”  Despite the data gained in the 45 years since the document’s publication, ideologues continue to assert the hypothesis that reducing fertility ensures economic success.

All The Motley Monk can say in response is “And there’s an Easter Bunny, too.”

 

 

To read the ZENIT article, click on the following link:
http://www.zenit.org/article-34234?l=english

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:
http://themotleymonk.blogspot.com/

6

National Review Calls on Gingrich to Drop Out and Endorse Santorum

 

Interesting.  I had assumed that National Review was in the tank for Romney.  However, this morning the editors have called for Gingrich to drop out and endorse Santorum.  They follow this up with a blast at Romney:

We hope so. Gingrich’s verbal and intellectual talents should make him a resource for any future Republican president. But it would be a grave mistake for the party to make someone with such poor judgment and persistent unpopularity its presidential nominee. It is not clear whether Gingrich remains in the race because he still believes he could become president next year or because he wants to avenge his wounded pride: an ambiguity that suggests the problem with him as a leader. When he led Santorum in the polls, he urged the Pennsylvanian to leave the race. On his own arguments the proper course for him now is to endorse Santorum and exit.

We hope so. Gingrich’s verbal and intellectual talents should make him a resource for any future Republican president. But it would be a grave mistake for the party to make someone with such poor judgment and persistent unpopularity its presidential nominee. It is not clear whether Gingrich remains in the race because he still believes he could become president next year or because he wants to avenge his wounded pride: an ambiguity that suggests the problem with him as a leader. When he led Santorum in the polls, he urged the Pennsylvanian to leave the race. On his own arguments the proper course for him now is to endorse Santorum and exit.

Santorum has been conducting himself rather impressively in his moments of triumph and avoiding characteristic temptations. He is doing his best to keep the press from dismissing him as merely a “social-issues candidate.” His recent remark that losing his Senate seat in 2006 taught him the importance of humility suggests an appealing self-awareness. And he has rightly identified the declining stability of middle-class families as a threat to the American experiment, even if his proposed solutions are poorly designed. But sensible policies, important as they are, are not the immediate challenge for his candidacy. Proving he can run a national campaign is.

Romney remains the undramatic figure at the center of the primaries’ drama. Lack of enthusiasm for him has set it all in motion. Romney is trying to win the nomination by pulverizing his rivals. His hope is that enthusiasm will follow when he takes on Obama in the summer and fall. But his attacks on Santorum have been lame, perhaps because they are patently insincere. (Does anyone believe that Romney truly thinks poorly of Santorum’s votes to raise the debt ceiling?) Continue Reading

13

Here is What a Pro-Life Democrat Looks Like

Dan Lipinski (D.Ill) has always been fiercely pro-life, as was his father Bill Lipinski, a Democrat Congressman from Illinois for decades.  Lipinski voted against ObamaCare and he is not fooled by the President’s fake “compromise”.  Here is his statement on the “compromise”:

I am enormously disappointed by today’s announcement. All the facts indicate that the ‘new’ mandate is the same as the ‘old’ mandate. New words, same policy.
“Our understanding of the new policy is now limited to a Fact Sheet put out by the White House. This document says ‘Religious organizations will not have to provide contraceptive coverage or refer their employees to organizations that provide contraception.’ But the health care law says that all employers must provide health insurance for their employees or pay a penalty. And according to the White House these same insurance plans that employers must provide ‘will be required to provide contraception coverage to these women free of charge.’ So religious organizations have to provide health care coverage from insurance companies that are required to provide abortion drugs, sterilization, and contraception. What changed? This is the same policy.
“We need a rule that protects religious liberty by allowing employers to provide health insurance coverage that does not include abortion drugs and other services that violate their conscience and religious doctrine. Instead we got a so-called compromise that is no compromise at all and provides no options for those with profound religious and moral objections to providing these services. To say that the insurer and not the employer is required to provide the coverage is a fiction. There is no accommodation for religious liberty. The rule remains coercive and still violates the long-standing tradition of protection for conscience rights in federal law. Continue Reading

8

What if the Obama “Compromise” Were Not a Transparent Fraud?

 

 

I think it is obvious to all, except for the invincibly ignorant, the terminally gullible or the cynically partisan, that the Obama “compromise” on the HHS Mandate is nothing of the sort, but a transparent fraud with the sole goal of eliminating a political problem for Obama in a presidential election year.  But what if it was not?  Leaving aside the fact that the “compromise” is morally unacceptable under Catholic teaching, here are some of the practical problems: Continue Reading

17

The HHS Mandate: It Was Never About Healthcare

Daffyd at the blog Big Lizards has a post which spells out what everyone should understand now:  ObamaCare in general, and the HHS Mandate in particular, was never about healthcare:

Never was it about health insurance for the poor and uninsured; it was always about the federal government seizing control not only of the health care of individuals but also nationalizing those state and local health programs already in place.  ObamaCare was, first and last, a power grab by the federal government at the expense of states, local governments, and individual Americans.

So please, let’s not imitate Captain Renault in Casablanca — shocked, shocked to discover that Barack Obama has violated our First-Amendment right to freedom of religion!  In fact, that specific mandate was at the heart of ObamaCare tyranny:  a frontal assault on the Catholic church in particular, which is so virulently hated by the gay-activist and feminist wings of the Left.

The only element of this policy that should shock anyone is the unbelievably hamfisted way that Obama decreed it:  A politically savvy politician would have patiently held off until after the election, giving himself two years to allow the furor to die down.

Instead, the president once again mistook unanimity among his left-liberal friends for a Progressivist “consensus” among the American people; he lives in a bubble of epistemic closure, talking only to true-blue believers on the left.  I formerly gave him the nickname “Lucky Lefty,” because (a) he is left handed, (b) he is left-leaning, and (c) he was extraordinarily lucky.  Well he’s still (a) and (b), but not so much (c) anymore, so I can no longer call him that.

Obama’s new nickname is “Bubble Boy,” honoring his world view. Continue Reading

15

Food, Guns, and Contraception: A Random Followup to Some Random Thoughts on the HHS Rule

Instead of responding to comment on my previous post in the proper place, I decided to do a followup of sorts to clarify two issues and to expand on a few of the initial thoughts and their reactions.  As a starting point, I want to consider the following comment left by “Mary”:

What about an employer forcing their religious beliefs onto their employees? My daughter is a nurse and works at a catholic [sic] hospital. She is not Catholic and feels birth control should be a woman’s decision. The woman has the right to decide when she wants to start a family. She was surprised when she found out that birth control was not part of the insurance program. She has been buying it on her own, and it is not cheap. What about those who can not afford to purchase birth control? Viagra is covered under the insurance program, and that is health care? Don’t think so. I’m not surprised that the article and comments here are all by men. It is not your body and you should not make the decision for women who want to use birth control.

It seems to me that this misses the point I was initially trying to make, and I take responsibility for any lack of clarity in my presentation.  To make up for this, I want to consider Mary’s argument from two perspectives.  Both perspectives will consider Mary’s assertion that women have the right to use birth control.  First, I will temporarily grant Mary this assertion and re-present the argument that it still does not make it right to force Catholic hospitals, Catholic-owned businesses, or Catholic-run insurance companies to cover contraception.  Second, I will challenge Mary’s assertion by arguing that women don’t in fact have the “right” to oral contraceptives.

1.  What if Mary is Right?

What if we temporality lend credence to Mary’s statement that women have the right to use birth control?  At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I will direct you back to my initial analogy of gun ownership.  I firmly believe in the right to bear arms, but this in no way means that I believe the government should purchase a gun for me, still less does it mean that the government to force my employer to purchase a gun for me.  There is a difference between the right to posses and use something and the “right” to have it at no cost to ourselves.  This distinction has been lost in the national conversation.  Even if Mary is correct that women have the right to use oral contraceptives, it still leaves me wondering why the cost for this should come out of the employer’s pocket or the pocket’s of the insurance companies.

Allow me to illustrate this point with another analogy.  I think all of us can agree that the human person has the fundamental right to eat food.  Should our employers then be required to provide us with our weekly groceries?  Should they be required to give us vouchers with which we can obtain meals?  Correct me if I am wrong here, but I thought the point of employment was to provide labors with a fair and honest wage, and the wage earners then get to decide how to spend those wages.  Think here for a minute how you would feel if instead of providing you with a paycheck, your employer gave you vouchers for very specific kinds of food.  Is this not a restriction of freedom rather than its expansion?

Actually, when you see the contraceptive coverage in this light, I think you will come to see that having the employer/insurance company forced to cover it is actually the more inequitable scenario.  Allow me to explain.  First, understand that contraception itself is not “free.”  It is a product, and as such it has a cost associated with its production.  If an employer is forced into providing this coverage for all employees, the cost of the plan will be effected somehow.  I will leave it up to the actuaries to weigh in on how this cost works out, but the fact remains that the cost needs covered in some form or another.  Contrary to popular belief at the moment, money cannot be arbitrarily created out of thin air.  (This is a more complicated way of putting the age-old adage, “Nothing in life is free.”)  Now, once the employer has this cost added to the plan, his budget must take that into account somehow, which will translate eventually into wages in some form or another.

Why is this inequitable?  Because it effectively means that all employees will suffer the economic effects of some people choosing to use contraceptives.  Of course, I am not naive enough to think this is a dollar-for-dollar transaction.  Rather, the costs will be spread out through actuarial means.  Nevertheless, would not a more “fair” system be to not cover contraceptives, to pass on the savings in the form of wages and salaries, and to allow those women that choose to use oral contraceptives under Mary’s claimed “right” to do so?

This is precisely what happens with both food and guns.  The employer pays the employee, and the employee then decides what to spend his or her wages on: food, guns, or oral contraceptives.  I would think that the advocates of “choice” would prefer this system anyway, for in taking money in the form of wages and then making an active choice how to spend the money, is that not a more powerful statement than having an employer (by means of government coercion) tell you how you have to spend your wages?  Said differently, the problem with Mary’s “right to contraception” plan is that is actually takes away the right not to purchase contraception – it results in less choice, not more.  If the insurance plans are forced to cover it, all employees are forced to purchase it, although some will choose to leave their supply at the pharmacy counter.  In effect, Mary’s argument actually reduces choice and freedom.

Two other points are worth considering here.  First, Mary claims that contraception is expensive, and that is why insurance companies should provide it “for free.”  The problem with this is the illusion of “free.”  It is basic economics here, something that seems to be absent from the Obama administration’s manner of administrating.  As I pointed out above, the production of contraceptives costs money, and to think that this cost will not be passed on eventually to the employees is naive at best.  The insurance companies are not going to take this “bottom line” hit – their very bright actuaries will work to makes sure that the cost is covered in the premiums charged.  The employer won’t take the “bottom line” hit either.  They employee likes to think of wages and benefits in two separate categories, but to the employer they are both part of a compensation package, and they both cost money.  Whatever is added to the cost of medical insurance will necessarily be made up for in salaries.  Of course, it won’t be right away, but it will be reflected in future salary negotiations.  Anyone who has been a part of contract negotiations knows that it is never simply about salaries and wages.  The “bottom line” will eventually be covered by all employees.  Thus, Mary’s daughter will end up paying for the contraception anyway through lower-than-would-be salaries.  When insurance plans cover something like contraception, it does not “save” the employee money, it simply forces them to spend some of their money in a particular way.

An analogy here is a local collect some years back that “gave” all entering Freshman an iPod.  On the surface, it seems like a “free and generous” gift.  However, the university is mindful of its finances, which means that the cost of this iPod is somehow or other figured into the cost of tuition.  Seen in this light, it is not a “free gift,” but rather forcing all entering Freshman to purchase an iPod.

Returning to the forced purchase of contraception, even from a women’s dignity perspective, I would think that most would find this reprehensible.  It is as if the government is saying, “We don’t trust that you will spend some of your money on contraception, so we are going to force you to spend it just to be sure.”  Once more, apply this to something like food.  It would be like your employer, under government coercion, withholding part of your wages and instead giving you food vouchers for specific items that the government deems “essential” to “healthy eating.”  (Actually, the more I think about it, the more fitting this analogy is.)  Wouldn’t it be better to have the money passed on in the form of wages to allow the individual the right to choose how to spend it?  Once you understand that you will be paying for the contraception in some form or another, does not the whole thing sound rather insulting?  In fact, I do something similar with my kids allowance: I give them a certain sum of money, and then I mandate that they put a portion of it in the Church basket on Sunday.  Why?  Because without the mandate, they won’t do it.  Why?  Because they are children.  When it comes to the forced purchase of contraception, the government is treating women as if they are children: they don’t trust that you will purchase contraception on your own, so they are going to make you purchase it.  (This is what they are doing with the health care mandate itself, by the way.)

The other more obvious problem is that this also forces women who chose not to use contraception to carry plans that cover it, thereby essentially purchasing it themselves (one the cost of the plan is passed to the employee in the form of not-as-high-as-they-would-be wages).  In this way, then, the whole issue is not about the right to obtain contraception, it is about the right not to purchase contraception.

Further, Mary brings up the idea of Viagra coverage.  There is an obvious difference, pointed out by one commenter, in that Viagra is correcting a bodily system that isn’t functioning as it should (and is thus much closer to actual “health care”), whereas birth control is doing nothing of the sort.  However, I will say that in this case I agree with Mary.  I also think that the government should not force insurance companies to cover Viagra, but that the employer should simply pay salaries and wages to its employees  and allow them to choose how to spend their money.  The difference here is that, to my knowledge, the government is not doing this in the case of Viagra.  In fact, it may help to clarify the outcry over the contraceptive mandate to imagine the vitriol reactions that would surface if the HHS mandate required the coverage of Viagra.

2.  But in the End, Mary is not Right.

All of the previous argument is null and void however, if Mary is not correct in her assertion that women have the natural “right” to use oral contraceptives.  In order to address this, we must first re-think the whole notion of “freedom” and “rights.”  The problem with our pluralistic society is that everything is couched in terms of “rights,” and further that this terms is never fully defined.  Even so, a discussion bases solely on rights, defined or undefined, could never actually be consistent, because “rights,” understood in simple unqualified terms, will necessarily lead to situations of “competing rights.”  In this case, we end up arguing over which has precedence: the “right” to religious liberty or the “right” to use oral contraceptives.  When we find ourselves at the inevitable impasse of unqualified and competing rights, the only thing left to decide a “winner” is pure power.  Whichever “party” finds itself in control will force its priority on the populus, and this is exactly what we see happening with the Obama administration.

The difficulty here is that freedom is not the random ability to choose between contraries.  Rather, it is the ability to choose the good.  Servais Pinkaers gives a great illustration of this in his book Sources of Christian Ethics by giving the example of a well-trained piano player.  An individual who has no respect for the “rules” of music and the instrument is “free” to bang randomly on the keys (a “freedom of indifference”), but a trained pianist who has been taught the “laws” and “nature” of the piano is able to create music, a freedom that is much more authentic (a “freedom for excellence”).

The moral life is not much different than the musical arts.  We are created with a purpose, a sort of definition of what it means to be “fully human”, what the Greeks called a telos.  We are “free” insofar as we act in a manner consistent with what it means to be human.  In a dilapidated view of freedom, we are of course able to act arbitrarily.  But such a view is not authentic freedomAuthentic freedom is found when we act according to our design, according to the natural law inscribed on our hearts.

Understanding the natural law is the only way to avoid the inevitable conflict of arbitrary and competing rights.  The only “right” we have is the right to act according to our design, to act in a way that is authentically human.  Religious liberty falls generally under this one “right” because we know that we need to freely pursue and accept God.  One can never be coerced into faith (even if the “faith” into which they are coerced is objectively “true”).

The question then is, does an individual have the “right” to use artificial contraception?  Does the use of contraception allow an individual to be more “fully human.”  From a Catholic perspective, the answer is clearly, “No.”  Now, it is not my intent here to defend the Church’s teaching on contraception – numerous arguments far better than what I could produce have been written about this already.  My point here is much simpler: we cannot approach this argument purely from some abstract and ill-defined notion of “freedom” and “rights”, but rather must conceive (pun fully intended) of “rights” and “freedom” under their proper telos of natural law.

I will give only one attempt at an argument against the “right” to oral contraceptives.  I mean this not as the only, and maybe not even as the best, but I do think is it the most important one to publicize: oral contraceptives are abortifacient.  It is in the very design of the pill that on the off chance (the measure of which is hotly debated) that fertilization occurs, the lining of the uterus is renders unstable so as to prevent implantation.  In this case, a newly created human person is destroyed – a life is ended.  Now, the fundamental “right”, if we are to speak in these terms, is the right to life.  Understanding the notion of “freedom for excellence,” the path towards fulfillment as a human person, or the ability to choose the good … none of this is possible without the possibility of living in the first place.  (Another “silver lining” to this tragic situation in which we find ourselves is the mere mentioning of this fact on national television by those members of the Episcopacy (un)fortunate enough to land an interview.  It is about time the terrible truth about abortifacients in oral contraceptives gets more press.)

This is not the best argument against the “right” to use oral contraceptives, because it is conceivable (there is nothing worse than the same pun twice in one article) that someday the pharmaceutical companies will develop an effective oral contraceptive that is not abortifacient.  Even then, seen in the light of Catholic teaching, there will still not be a “right” to use such medication to prevent pregnancy, the prevention of which drives a wedge in the very definition of marriage which by its nature is both unitive and procreative.  In doing so, contraception thereby does not allow a couple to strive towards their fulfillment as human persons in their marital vocation.  (For marriage, after all, is a vocation, and hence a “path to fulfillment.”)  Nevertheless, it the abortifacient argument is an effective argument here and now, because oral contraceptives here and now are abortifacient.

9

The HHS Mandate: Why the Cost Issue Is Irrelevant

One issue that mainstream and even some Catholic commentators seem to be bungling to my mind is the relevance of costs. According to the Obama Administration, under the new rule insurance companies will provide sterilization and contraception free to employees of Catholic institutions like hospitals and universities. Further, the Administration has claimed that insurance companies are happy to do this because the costs of contraceptives and sterilization are lower than the costs of pregnancy and all of the associated doctors visits. This certainly seems plausible. Pregnancy and the associated doctors visits cost a lot of money. I’ve heard it claimed that policies without contraceptives typically cost more than their counterparts that include them, and so it’s possible that the new policies will be even cheaper than the prior policies (absent all of the costs imposed by other new regulations, but that’s another story).

But this just brings into starker relief the fact that no compromise has been offered at all. Let’s assume for a moment that it is actually cheaper for an insurance company to offer sterilization and contraceptives without charge than to not offer them at all. In that case, Catholic hospitals and universities have historically been able to purchase plans at a higher cost that enables them to avoid providing coverage that violates their consciences. The original rule said that they could no longer purchase such plans, and most right thinking people recognized this as an infringement on religious liberty. The new rule says: “good news, you won’t have to pay more than you currently do!” Which, of course, is completely non responsive. Continue Reading

5

Doubling Down

The video above is a Democrat National Committee ad celebrating the fact that Obama is giving women “free” contraceptives and is doing so in a way which “respects” religious freedom, and those mean old Republicans want to take this away.  The Democrats are betting that the voters are both venal and stupid enough to allow them to reap a rich yield of votes in the fall on this issue.  My guess is that they are wrong.  A poll by Rasmussen found that 28% of Catholics support the government making rules that violate a church’s teachings while 68% oppose;  among the general public the numbers are 39-50, which I think is an accurate reflection of where the politics lie on this issue.  Here is Rasmussen’s commentary.

Every sports fan knows that close contests are often decided by mistakes rather than heroics. In this year’s Super Bowl, Tom Brady threw just one interception, but Eli Manning didn’t throw any. Manning’s team won.

What’s especially disheartening for fans are unforced errors. Right now, President Obama’s fans have reason to worry about a substantive unforced error that threatens his support among Catholic voters.

The Obama administration recently ruled that all insurance policies must offer contraceptive services with no co-payments required. In and of itself, that decision is neither positive nor negative. Forty-three percent of voters favor it, while 46 percent are opposed.

That mandate violates the beliefs of some churches. Normally, religious exemptions are granted in such cases, but not this time. Thirty-nine percent support the administration on this point, while 50 percent are opposed. Even worse for the White House, support for the ruling comes primarily from people who rarely attend church. That’s a group that voted strongly for Obama in 2008 and continues to support him today. In other words, no upside.

But, among Catholics, only 28 percent believe religious organizations should be required to implement rules that conflict with church doctrine. Sixty-five percent are opposed. This is true even though many Catholics disagree with church teachings on birth control.

The impact is stunning since 54 percent of Catholics voted for President Obama in 2008. Today, just 39 percent of Catholic voters approve of the way he’s doing his job.

Perhaps some strategists thought that Catholics would welcome government help in battling the church on birth control. But Catholics who disagree with the church deal with the situation in the privacy of their own bedroom. They don’t need federal help. In fact, it is hard to imagine any person of faith wanting the federal government to have any say in church doctrine and how Holy Scripture should be applied. Continue Reading

13

The Urgently Relevant Pope Leo XIII

 

 

By the patrons of liberalism, however, who make the State absolute and omnipotent, and proclaim that man should live altogether independently of God, the liberty of which We speak, which goes hand in hand with virtue and religion, is not admitted; and whatever is done for its preservation is accounted an injury and an offense against the State. Indeed, if what they say were really true, there would be no tyranny, no matter how monstrous, which we should not be bound to endure and submit to.

                                             Pope Leo XIII, Libertas

In his great encyclical Libertas (1888), examining the nature of liberty, Pope Leo XIII gives present day American Catholics much food for thought.   A few selections:

 

 

13. Moreover, the highest duty is to respect authority, and obediently to submit to just law; and by this the members of a community are effectually protected from the wrong-doing of evil men. Lawful power is from God, “and whosoever resisteth authority resisteth the ordinance of God’ ;(6) wherefore, obedience is greatly ennobled when subjected to an authority which is the most just and supreme of all. But where the power to command is wanting, or where a law is enacted contrary to reason, or to the eternal law, or to some ordinance of God, obedience is unlawful, lest, while obeying man, we become disobedient to God. Thus, an effectual barrier being opposed to tyranny, the authority in the State will not have all its own way, but the interests and rights of all will be safeguarded – the rights of individuals, of domestic society, and of all the members of the commonwealth; all being free to live according to law and right reason; and in this, as We have shown, true liberty really consists.

29. From all this may be understood the nature and character of that liberty which the followers of liberalism so eagerly advocate and proclaim. On the one hand, they demand for themselves and for the State a license which opens the way to every perversity of opinion; and on the other, they hamper the Church in divers ways, restricting her liberty within narrowest limits, although from her teaching not only is there nothing to be feared, but in every respect very much to be gained. Continue Reading

4

The Nation is Worth Fighting For

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.

Stephen Vincent Benet

Today is the 203rd birthday of the Sixteenth President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.  The above video is an interesting and imaginative interview of Lincoln, if the film technology of the Thirties of the last century had been available in 1860.

Lately I have been reading a book on Lincoln with my autistic son.  I point at the words and he reads them aloud, an early morning ritual we have carried out for the last 14 years.  Young Lincoln’s struggles against the poverty of his early years, and his lack of more than one year in total of formal education, strikes a chord with me in regard to my son’s struggles against his autism.  One of the many reasons why I find Mr. Lincoln’s life endlessly fascinating is the theme throughout it of the most extraordinary possibilities in all of us, no matter the cards that Fate dealt to us initially.

Lincoln in a speech to the men of the 166th Ohio  as they were returning home, their enlistments completed, on August 22, 1864 touched upon this: Continue Reading

33

Random Thoughts on the HHS Rule

So much has been written about the HHS rule and its “compromise” that I hardly think I have much to add to the conversation.  Nevertheless, there are a few points that I think have been missing form the debate, even in Catholic circles.  Allow me to take a brief moment to give a relatively disconnected trio of issues that just may help to spark some more conversation.

1. Religious Liberty is an Individual Freedom.

It seems to me that the focus of the national Catholic conversation has been on the Obama administration’s violation of the freedom of religion by forcing Catholic institutions such as hospitals and universities to provide employees with contraceptives and sterilizations, a practice that is in clear contradiction to the teachings of our faith.  While this is certainly deplorable and the most overt violation of the First Amendment, what has been relatively missing from the dialog is that religious liberty is not merely a liberty granted to religious organizations.  First and foremost, religious liberty is an individual liberty.  Each and every citizen of our nation is guaranteed under the Constitution the freedom to practice one’s religion both publicly and privately and to not be coerced into violating our consciences by acting in a way contradictory to the tenants of one’s faith.

Thus, the HHS rule is not simply a violation against specifically religious organizations.  It is also a violation of the religious liberty of the individual business owner, Catholic or otherwise.  As a Catholic, the owner of a private business cannot, under the Constitution, be compelled by the government to pay for “medical” services that violate his or her faith, including contraceptives and sterilizations.  This applies not only to those companies that have a religious mission, such as EWTN or the Knights of Columbus, but also to the owner of a chain of restaurants, a manufacturing form, or an publishing company.  Further, it also applies to the faithful Catholic owner of a medical insurance company.  Forcing the insurance company to provide coverage for these services despite religious beliefs, is a clear violation of the protection guaranteed under the First Amendment.

My fear is simple.  If the conversation focusses exclusively on those organizations for which Bishops have direct involvement, we may very well see further “compromise” between the Obama administration and the USCCB, but tens of thousands of other Catholic business owners will be lost in the shuffle.  In fact, I will go so far as to say that even if the HHS does a complete 180 on the current issue, i.e. incorporating Catholic hospitals and universities in the exemption clause without the bogus compromise that forces the insurance companies to cover the costs and services … even then, the fight is not over.  Because even then there will be thousands of businesses who are not included in the exemption clause because business activities have no specifically religious purpose.  Yet these owners too have the right to practice their religion, and hence should not and cannot be compelled to act in a way contrary to their faith.

That being said, there is admittedly a certain advantage in focussing on overtly Catholic organizations like hospitals and universities.  First, they are the most obvious cases of government intrusion in the religious sphere.  Second, they have high profile leaders, i.e. the episcopacy, that will be forced to take a stand.  Yet still, we should not for a minute think that the battle ends with these organizations.  Each and every one of us is entitled to religious liberty as an American citizen, and forcing a Catholic (or other religious) business owners to pay for plans that include contraception and sterilization is very much a violation of this liberty.  The problem is compounded, of course, if the business is a medical insurance company.

2.  There is a Silver Lining.

The felix culpa effect never ceases to amaze me.  God can bring good out of the most heinous evils, the case and point being the crucifixion.  The silver lining to the current HHS tragedy is the unified effort of the Catholic Episcopacy.  While the thought that the Obama administration feels that it can abuse its power in this manner terrifies me, the response by the Bishops has given me great cause for joy.  When the Bishop’s letter was read from the pulpit two weeks ago, the congregation applauded.  It is a powerful moment for the Church.

Our Church, after all, thrives on persecution.  It is precisely in the midst of being “kept down” that we can rise up against tyranny.  Such is the lesson of the Cross.  There is a quote from 2010 that has been circulating recently, in which Cardinal George of Chicago says, “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison, and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.”  Whether or not the Cardinal is prophetic remains to be seen, but such an “exaggeration” may not be so exaggerated after all.

In light of this, I would encourage those whose Bishop was one of the hundreds that wrote a letter and had it read to send a note of gratitude.  Yes, it was a coordinated effort, but it was the coordination that made it so powerful and effective.  While Friday’s “compromise” is manipulative and nothing really close to a compromise, it seems clear that even this minimal response would not have happened had it not been for the organized outcry.

3.  “Health Care” is Being Redefined.

My final point has been mentioned by several others, but it warrants reiteration.  There is a not-so-subtle redefinition of “health care” in this whole debate.  There is a certain amount of irony that under the president’s health care bill and the accompanying HHS ruling, I will not be able to receive Tylenol or toothpaste for free, but women will be able to receive birth control and abortifacients for free.  Tylenol is a drug that actually tries to cure something that is “wrong” with the body, and toothpaste is authentically “preventative” in terms of dental health problems.  Yet birth control and abortifacients have little to do with the health of the body.  In fact, they are often used for reproductive systems that are otherwise heathy.  They are designed to take a perfectly healthy and well-functioning bodily system and stop it from functioning how it should.  Since when did fertility and pregnancy become a disease?  Since when is birth control more “preventative” than toothpaste and abortifacients more of a “cure” than Tylenol.

Whether we agree or disagree on the morality of birth control is not the relevant question here, nor is whether or not we agree or disagree on the “right” of a woman to take these drugs.  The Catholic Church has always been clear on this, but it seems to me that there is something else at issue here.  Even for those who condone the consumption of these drug, it is a rather large leap to insist that someone else pays for it.

Let me give an analogy.  I believe firmly in the right to bear arms.  However, I do not believe the the government should provide a gun to every citizen who wants one.  Moreover, I don’t believe that my business owner should be forced to provide each of its employees with a gun.  Yet this is precisely what is happening with the HHS rule.  Even if an individual thinks they should have the right to use oral contraceptives, how does that translate to insisting that the government forcing employers and insurance companies to pay for it?  The only answer is to misclassify the contraceptives as “health care.”

I have two clarifications before I sign off, mostly to ensure that I am not misunderstood.  First, I understand quite clearly that oral contraceptives are occasionally prescribed for reasons not having to do with birth control.  This is emphatically not what I am talking about, and such an issue requires a separate conversation.  For my own part, I am of the firm belief that non-contraceptive methods such as NaPro technology have had far more positive results at a cost that is a fraction of many of the contraceptive techniques in dealing with serious medical issues.  Yet again, this is another topic for another time, and is not my intent here.  However, the media has successfully and unfortunately recast the debate in this light, causing a decent amount of public confusion over the issue.  (In a way it reminds me of a person who believes in abortion on demand up until the cutting of the umbilical cord who insists of focussing the debate on the “hard” cases of rape and incest.  In the HHS debate we have people who believe that the government can force employers to cover contraceptive for every purpose but insist of focussing just on those cases where they are not being prescribed for contraceptive purposes.  It is both misleading and disingenuous.)

Second, I am in no way claiming that an individual does have the right to use contraceptives (for reasons of birth control), less so abortifacients.  For my own part, given the objective immorality of such acts, such a “right” would be in direct contradiction of the natural law in which we were created.  My point was only that even if one believes in the right to birth control, it still doesn’t mean that employers or insurance companies should be forced to provide it anymore than they should be forced to provide their employees with firearms.

The main point is simple: birth control is not health care because fertility is not a disease.

36

Vichy Catholics

While most Catholics with at least two brain cells to rub together realize that the HHS Mandate “compromise” is a transparent fraud, the usual suspects among the Obama-uber-alles branch of Catholics in this country have been hailing it.

Richard Rich Doug Kmiec is back on board the Obama bus (and demonstrates again the truth of the Socrates adage that an unexamined life is a tragedy):

Sister Carol Keehan, head of the Catholic Health Association, last seen getting a pen from Obama for her support in passing ObamaCare, loves the compromise.  She was actually supporting it before it was announced, indicating that the Obama administration slipped her advance knowledge.  The administration is aware of the tame Catholics they can rely on.

And, mirabile dictu!, Morning’s Minion at Vox Nova gives the “compromise” a thumbs up!

Streiff over at Red State sums up this phenomenon of Catholics who can always be counted upon to carry Obama’s water for him in any dispute with the Church: Continue Reading

13

Santorum at CPAC 2012: Leads Romney by 15 Points Nationally in Latest Poll

Rick Santorum’s speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference convention this week.  According to The Hill, the impact of the speech on the conservative audience was electric.  Go here to read the story.  Coming off his trifecta wins on Tuesday, Santorum is now neck and neck with Romney in national polls, and is beginning to see poll results where he outpolls Romney against Obama.  We may be witnessing one of the greatest comebacks in American political history.    Continue Reading

6

The HHS “Accommodation”: Lie to Me

So the Obama Administration released a proposed compromise today on the recent contentious HHS rule and there was good news: The Administration is now saying that Catholic institutions will not need to pay for abortifacients, sterilization, and contraception for their employees. The bad news is that the good news is a lie.  Catholic institutions will still be paying for these things, but health insurance companies will be instructed to tell Catholic institutions that they are free.

It’s possible that this will provide the Administration with enough cover to defuse the issue; it is clever in its own way. “Obama Administration requires Church to pay for abortifacients” is a straight forward story that even a reporter can understand. “Obama Administration uses accounting gimmick to force Church to pay for abortifacients, while assuring them they are free” is harder to explain. A little misdirection can go a long way with a sympathetic press. But, for Catholics, I think the takeaway is clear enough: this is no compromise at all. The Obama Administration has decided to double down on the mandate, and Catholics can no longer expect him to deal in good faith with Catholic institutions and their leaders.

Update: This post is probably superfluous here, but I’ll leave it up. See also Paul and Tito’s earlier takes.

7

Other Reactions on the HHS Mandate and the “Compromise”

I don’t have much to add to what’s already been said on the subject other than to express my wonder at who President Obama thinks he is fooling.  Granted I’ve already encountered vacuous leftists using the “but they don’t have to pay for it” talking point, but these are the types of people content to loyally follow Obama over the cliff anyway.

I just wanted to use this space to highlight a few other blogs that have written copiously about this subject.  Ron Kozar thinks this has been something of a missed opportunity for Catholics.

One point, which cries out to be made but isn’t being made, is how stupid it is to buy insurance for something as inexpensive as contraception, even if one has no moral objection to it.

It’s like requiring your auto insurer to cover an oil change, with no deductible.  Thus, rather than simply collecting the money from the consumer, the oil-change mechanic would have to employ a clerk to “process” your insurance and await an eventual check from your auto insurer.  This kind of nonsense – mandating coverage for routine, inexpensive procedures, and relieving the consumer of the need to pay – is one of the larger reasons why the healthcare and health-insurance systems are so utterly out of control.

Another point that cries out to be made but isn’t being made is that the government shouldn’t be dictating the terms of health-insurance benefits to employers in the first place, regardless of the employer’s religion.  The debate is being framed as a question about which package of coverages the federal government should mandate, rather than about whether the feds, or any government, should be dictating any terms at all.

Meanwhile, Jay Anderson has been on fire lately.  He has several blogposts this week worth reading, so just read his blog. Needless to say, I agree that it is time to disinvite certain so-called Catholics to the supper feast of the lamb.

Finally, if you’re not reading Jeff Goldstein’s blog Protein Wisdom, you should be.  Jeff is a Jewish, Santorum supporting, libertarian-conservative, and he’s done just as good a job of getting at why Obama’s actions are so tyrannical as anyone else.  Here’s his take on the compromise.

The problem is, rules or laws that provide exemptions to specific identity groups are ripe for corruption — and there’s no more reason that the federal government should be able to direct insurance companies to provide free contraception that it should the Catholic church. And by making the accomodation a waiver or derivation, Obama is still asserting his own Executive authority to tell private companies how they must spend.

Catholics shouldn’t have to go on bended knee before the State and beg for a conscience exemption for providing the kind of coverage it wishes to provide. And the State should not have the arbitrary power to pick and choose who must follow laws, who gets waivers and exemptions, and so on.

Obama’s “accommodation” is meant solely to hide his underlying power grab: namely, the unstated authority of the State to set these kind of dictatorial demands on private industry, and by extension, on individuals.

34

Obama’s Latest Fig Leaf is Not Acceptable

Update III:  The USCCB Pro-Life Director Richard Doerflinger and Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey agree with me that this “accommodation” or “compromise” is unacceptable.  Sadly Sr. Keehan of the the Catholic Health Associate found this “satisfactory”.  It looks like Obama will be happy that Sr. Keehan is on board.  Of course, Planned Parenthood and Sr. Keehan agree.

Update II:  Rumor confirmed.  Insurance, that Religious Institutions pay into, will provide contraception, ie, it is still a violation of the First Amendment.

Update I: Rumor is that “Hawaii” compromise will be offered, but the bishops have already rejected this.  So basically it’s a poor attempt at stalling and not really offering a solution.

The buzz this morning is that Obama is “caving in” to the pressure and will announce a “compromise” today at 12:15pm Eastern.

The news reports are saying that Religious Organizations won’t have to offer birth control, only the insurance companies that these Religious Organizations provide will offer birth control.

Yeah, that’s the compromise.

If these reports are true, this is dead on arrival.  Changing the meaning of the words won’t do it.

10

Dyspeptic Mutterings

My friend Dale Price is posting again regularly at his blog Dyspeptic Mutterings after something of a hiatus.  Go here to have a gander at his blog.  Dale has long written some of the sharpest commentary on Saint Blog’s.   I stop in every day looking for blogging topics to steal borrow, and I rejoice that he is writing frequently again.

13

True Ecumenism

 

I must confess that I have never been a great fan of Ecumenism, as a drive for greater Christian unity, as it has played out in the Catholic Church since Vatican II.  Too often it has resulted in “dialogues” with non-Catholic faiths that seek to paper over theological chasms that divide us from them.  If the price of Ecumenism is any watering down of the Catholic Faith, please count me out.

However, there is a true Ecumenism which I interpret as the banding together of people of different faiths to accomplish some great good in the name of God.  A striking example of what I am referring to was the action of the four chaplains of the USS Dorchester on January 22, 1943, a Catholic priest, two Protestant ministers, and a Jewish rabbi, who gave up their life jackets so other men could live, and died together, arms linked, praising God to the end.  Go here to read their story.

In my 29 years of work in the pro-life cause, I have often encountered such true Ecumenism.  Each month I pray with members of the board of directors at the crisis pregnancy center which I have had the honor to be the Chairman of for over a decade.  I am the only Catholic on the board and I have found much to inspire me by the faith and the goods works of the evangelicals and other Protestants I have encountered and worked with over the years.

In the face of the HHS mandate in regard to contraception and abortifacients, I have been heartened to see how many people of good will have been standing shoulder to shoulder with the Church in opposition to this villainous assault on our common heritage as Americans  of religious liberty. Continue Reading

2

The “Other” Winston Churchill

Most TAC readers are familiar with Winston Churchill, the British statesman. But they may not be familiar with another Winston Churchill whose fame, at one time, eclipsed that of his British counterpart.

The “other” Winston Churchill was an American novelist of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He wrote several best-selling historical novels, including one (which I will discuss later) that provides a fascinating glimpse into the Civil War era and the rise of Abraham Lincoln.

The American Churchill was born Nov. 10, 1871, in St. Louis, Mo., three years and 20 days before the British Churchill. After attending primary and secondary schools in St. Louis, he entered the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, graduating in 1894. Less than a year after receiving his commission, he resigned to pursue a literary career. In 1895 he became managing editor of The Cosmopolitan magazine — at that time a literary periodical nothing like its modern incarnation. Then he gave up that post to devote himself to writing his own novels, poems, and essays.

His first novel, The Celebrity, was published in 1898, but his second, Richard Carvel (1899) proved to be his most popular. Richard Carvel tells the story of an orphaned descendant of English nobility who grows up in colonial Maryland, journeys to England in pursuit of the woman he loves, then returns to America just in time to join the American Revolution. It was a huge hit, selling over 2 million copies in a nation of only 76 million citizens at the time.

His next book, The Crisis (1901), which can be read online at this link, is set in his native St. Louis in the years 1857 to 1865. The third of Churchill’s  popular historical novels was The Crossing (1904), which recounts the settlement of Kentucky and the conquest of the Illinois Country during the American Revolution. Continue Reading

6

Father Barron on the HHS Mandate

Over at National Review Online, Father Robert Barron has, as usual, a perceptive take on what the HHS Mandate means:

The secularist state wants Catholicism off the public stage and relegated to a private realm where it cannot interfere with secularism’s totalitarian agenda. I realize that in using that particular term, I’m dropping a rhetorical bomb, but I am not doing so casually. A more tolerant liberalism allows, not only for freedom of worship, but also for real freedom of religion, which is to say, the expression of religious values in the public square and the free play of religious ideas in the public conversation. Most of our founding fathers advocated just this type of liberalism. But there is another modality of secularism — sadly on display in the current administration — that is actively aggressive toward religion, precisely because it sees religion as its primary rival in the public arena. Continue Reading

25

Bigot Mail

 

At The American Catholic we get almost daily comments submitted by anti-Catholic bigots.  We routinely place them in our trash file as unworthy of the effort to respond to.  However, I thought that our readers might be amused to see the typical type of rant we receive from these individuals.  This one was submitted in response to my post about Eric Metaxas, a Dietrich Bonhoeffer biographer and a non-Catholic, comparing the contraceptive mandate of the Obama administration to the initial moves of Nazi Germany against the German churches in the Thirties of the last century.

If the Catholics want to get into a political battle then don’t whine.  That’s Politics.  Chaplains want to use their positions to push their political ideology from Rome.  That not their job.  Use your own time not USA;s time.  For a Catholic to talk about freedom of speech and liberty with their history of killing people, persecution, and enslaving western civilized is and utter joke.  Hate is what the Catholic showed to all non Catholics.  Catholics want a political fight then lets fight.  Significant number of priests are gay or child rapists, then your church shopped them around.  This is been going on since the 1100?s.  The Church’s political views against women health will alienate women.  How about shinning a light on church supporting fascist counties in WW2.  Germany, Italy, Spain, Argentina, and Croatia.  The pope told all of their leaders they were Christ defenders.  Your religion killed our ancestors civilization (Greek and Roman) and produced the Dark ages.  That is the politics of pain and suffering and I will proudly fight against it.

Well, let’s examine this screed shall we?  Continue Reading

16

Biographer of Dietrich Bonhoeffer Compares Obama Contraceptive Mandate to Nazi Germany

 

Hattip to Matthew Archbold at Creative Minority ReportEric Metaxas, biographer of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Protestant minister and theologian martyred by the Nazis, compares the contraceptive mandate to steps taken by the Nazis against the churches in the thirties.

 

 

“I met the president. I gave him a copy of my book on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, which he said he’s going to read,” Metaxas said during the interview. “In that book, you read about what happened to an amazingly great country called Germany…”
“In the beginning, it always starts really, really small. We need to understand as Americans — if we do not see this as a bright line in the sand — if you’re not a Catholic, if you use contraception — doesn’t matter. Because eventually, this kind of government overreach will affect you.” Continue Reading

30

Santorum Rising

 

Last night in Missouri Rick Santorum finally got to go one on one against Romney, since Gingrich did not bother to get on the ballot, and the results were devastating to the Weathervane.  Santorum won two to one, garnering 55% of the vote to 25% for Romney, with Ron Paul bringing up the rear with 12%.  Santorum won every county in the state.  The Romney camp will claim that since this was a non-binding beauty contest and that Romney did little campaigning in the state, this is meaningless.  Rubbish!  What does it say about the Romney campaign and its appeal to Republican voters that they lost this badly in a state that has been a bellweather of the nation in most Presidential elections?

However, Missouri was not the end of the bad news for Romney last night.  In the Minnesota caucuses Santorum came in first with a stunning 45% and second was, wait for it, Ron Paul with 27%.  Romney, who won the caucuses by 20 points in 2008, came in third  at 17% with Gingrich being Tail-end-Newt with 11%

To complete the trifecta of woe for the Weathervane last night, we turn to Colorado, a state Romney was supposed to win according to the polls.  In the caucuses, Santorum came in first with 40%, Romney took second at 35%, Gingrich a very distant third at 13%, just edging out Paul at 12%.

So, the night couldn’t have been better for Santorum or worse for Romney, but what does it all mean? Continue Reading

20

Looks Like A Two-Man Race to Me

Rick Santorum has won two of the three election contests tonight, and as of the time I write this is dead even with Mitt Romney in a state that had been all but conceded to Romney before this weekend.  Santorum has now won three of the eight primaries/caucuses that have been held thus far, and possibly four.  That puts him about even with Romney, and comfortably ahead of Gingrich and Paul in states won.

Admittedly he will be behind Romney in the delegate count, especially considering that no delegates were up for grabs in Missouri.  But 200,000 people went to the polls in Missouri, and a majority of them voted for Santorum (and again, I’ll admit that Gingrich was not on the ballot there).  He drubbed Romney in Minnesota as well.

This primary season has been a wild one, and who knows what will happen in the coming weeks.  The Romney sleaze machine* is already out in full force hitting Santorum.  Santorum is radically underfunded compared to Romney and even Newt, although that makes his victories thus far that much more impressive.  Right now it is looking like a two-man race, but it’s not between Newt and Romney but rather Romney and Santorum.

*: I wrote a post a few weeks back in which I said that Newt was and perhaps still is a jerk.  For the record, Mitt is kind of a jerk, and over two election cycles has proven himself to be a rather despicable campaigner.  For those of you who would vote for Romney in the general election, I suppose the silver lining is that the man is willing to fight dirty.  So at least he’s got that going for him.  Which is nice.

2

Real Hypocrisy

President Obama’s decision to accept Super PAC funding is neither surprising or even all that upsetting.  Even though he railed against the Citizens United decision, going so far as to call out the Supreme Court Justices during his State of the Union address in a pique of feigned outrage, nobody who actually has any understanding of who Barack Obama is (meaning people smarter or at least less naive than, say, Doug Kmiec and Kathy Dahlkemper) ever doubted for one moment that he would completely reverse course on yet another promise.

Honestly, there is nothing wrong with Obama’s decision.  Not only did the Supreme Court get it right in the Citizens United case, I think that most of the campaign finance restrictions in this country are either unconstitutional or are simply bad policy choices that actually exacerbate the problems with how campaigns are financed.  Every new regulation only creates some other entity that further eliminates transparency from the process and merely complicates things unnecessarily.

What is amusing is the blatant hypocrisy, and this is one of those rare times when the term actually applies.  The word hypocrite is often thrown around incorrectly.  Jonah Goldberg has been one of the foremost crusaders against the incorrect usage of the term.  A hypocrite is not someone who claims to uphold a certain principle and then falls short of meeting the ideal.  If that were the meaning of hypocrisy, then all sin is hypocrisy.  No, a hypocrite is one who pretends to have certain virtues but who, in fact, does not posses said virtues.  We all fail to live up to our own moral standards from time to time, but the point is that we are at least trying.  Does anyone for one second really believe that Barack Obama truly doesn’t want to receive funding from corporations or wealthy donors?  Of course not.  It was a populist front meant to distract attention away from the failings of his own administration.  He was absolutely insincere at the State of the Union, and he’s been insincere on this issue from day one.  This is a guy who raked in more money from Wall Street and other financial institutions than his Republican competitor in 2008, who still collects a hefty amount from this sector, and yet who pretends to be absolutely appalled that these groups have the temerity to influence elections through their campaign contributions.

Yet there are still going to be those who act shocked – SHOCKED! – that Obama could betray his stated principles.  As the examples of Doug Kmiec and Kathy Dahlkemper show, never discount the blindness of those who just want to believe.  Darwin’s already covered this ground earlier, so I won’t belabor the point.  It just astounds me that a man can be so transparently dishonest time and time and time again, and yet there will always be obedient lapdogs ready to be fooled again.

14

The “Food Stamp Diet” and How It’s Different From Being Poor

Every so often one hears about people doing the “food stamp diet” in order to see what it’s like to be poor in America. The idea is to subsist for some period of time (often a week) on the amount typically given to members of the “food stamp” program. Here’s one example, prepared by the Food Research and Action Center back in 2007. That one challenges you to live on $21/week. Here’s an annual challenge run by the San Francisco Food Bank. There the amount is $33.04 per person per week.

These amounts vary not only due to region and inflation over time (food inflation has actually been pretty high over the last five years, grocery store prices are up 6% from last year) but also because these are different attempts to model how the food stamp program works. Food stamp benefits are based on the idea of supplementing a family’s income so that the family can (according to the program’s rationale) afford to consume the amount of food budgeted according to the “thrifty plan” from the USDA “cost of food at home” guidelines. Of course, since food stamps can’t be used for anything other than approved food items, and they’re given to people who are already very short of money, the effective result is that people are often trying to get all their food off just the food stamp amount, even if the program is assuming it’s only a supplement.

What got me thinking about the topic is that I saw one of these “hunger challenges” linked to some time ago, via some Catholic organization which was encouraging people to take part “in solidarity with the poor”. I saw the amount mentioned in the San Francisco challenge of $33 per person per week and thought, “Wait a minute, for our family of seven that would be $231. That’s more than we spend per week on food, and we’re around the top 20% line in family income.” In normal times, we were spending around $200/wk on food. Since we’ve been on a tight budget paying off the boiler, we’ve managed to get that down to $100-$150 depending on the week (including household cleaners, diapers, toilet paper, paper towels, etc.)

So, is being on food stamps really cushy? Are these challenges just designed wrong? Being a chronic number cruncher, I had to get into it a bit. Continue Reading

8

Abusing the Constitution and shoring the women’s vote all wrapped up in one tidy package…

Some commentators have been opining that the White House is feeling the heat fanned into flame last week after President Barack Obama basically told the U.S. Catholic bishops to fall into line by next year with his administration’s new healthcare regulations.  In support of this opinion, those commentators are now pointing to the appearance of President Obama’s political adviser, David Axelrod, on MSNBC. (The relevant portion begins at 3:45.)

 

If this opinion is accurate, the U.S. Catholic bishops’ response—focusing upon the free exercise of religion and First Amendment rights—cut to the bone.  That’s why Axelrod said during the interview that the Obama administration  didn’t intend to “abridge anyone’s religious freedom” with its regulation  requiring church-affiliated employers to cover sterilization, birth control, and abortofacients for their  employees. Yet, defending the administration, Axelrod said:

The bottom line is, this  was a decision made with the interest of the health of millions around this  country in mind.

Unrepentant and somewhat contrite, Axelrod noted: “We have great respect for the work that these institutions do, and we certainly don’t want to abridge anyone’s religious freedom. He then added that when making the decision, the Obama administration was struggling to strike a balance between a policy that “guarantees women the preventive care they need and one which respects the prerogatives of religious institutions.” Axelrod then went back to his political defense:

There are tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of women  who work in these universities who are not Catholic.  The question is  whether they’re going … to have the same access to basic preventive care.

Acknowledging the  dispute has caused a rift between the White House and the  Roman Catholic Church, Axelrod extended an olive branch to the nation’s bishops, adding:

I’m less concerned about  the messaging of this than finding a resolution that makes sense.  I think we need to lower our voices and get together.

The Motley Monk doesn’t buy the opinion that the White House has been feeling the heat precisely because of what Axelrod said during the MSNBC interview. With 70%+ of self-identified Catholics disagreeing with Church teaching about sterilization, contraception, and abortion, Axelrod doesn’t fear losing “the Catholic vote.”  No, his appeal to all of those women who work in Catholic institutions is meant to shore up their vote.  That’s why Axelrod said:

This is an important  issue. It’s important for millions of women around the country.  We want to resolve it in  an appropriate way and we’re going to do that.

Under the disguise of “protecting” all of those women who work in Catholic institutions, Axelrod and his boss, President Obama are willing to do exactly what the U.S. bishops have said they are doing, namely, trampling upon religious liberty and First Amendment rights.

But The Motley Monk’s opinion is that these two men are up to something else as well: Using all of those women to achieve what they really want, namely, agents of the federal to use the government’s regulatory powers to dictate that religious employers must violate their consciences if their organizations are to provide public services.

The logic is pretty clear: Beat the U.S. Catholic bishops on this issue and the rest of the dominoes will fall.  All it will take is for all of those women to vote for the President who is protecting their so-called “freedoms.”

 

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:
http://themotleymonk.blogspot.com/

6

George Will: Historians Will Marvel

On This Week on ABC last Sunday, George Will gave a concise, and devastating, explanation of what modern liberalism in this country is all about:

This is not about women’s health. This is about providing 300,000 abortions a year. Planned Parenthood cleverly cast this saying, ‘We are in the mammogram business.’ They’re not in the mammogram business — they are in the referral of mammograms. This showed two extraordinary things, George. First, the American left cares about ending wars and they care about poverty and they care about the environment, but they really care about — when they’re not perfunctory — is when you touch abortions. And historians will marvel that American liberalism in the first part of the 21st century is defined as defense of abortion.

Second, all these people describing themselves as pro-choice said it is illegitimate to choose not to be involved in abortion. And a much more important decision politically that was taken this week was the Obama administration saying that Catholic institutions have no choice — and this was applauded by pro-choice people — have no choice but to provide contraception, abortion-inducing drugs, and sterilization. Continue Reading

13

February 6, 1862: Surrender of Fort Henry

Fate has a way of picking unlikely material,

Greasy-haired second lieutenants of French artillery,

And bald-headed, dubious, Roman rake-politicians.

Her stiff hands were busy now with an odd piece of wood,

Sometime Westpointer, by accident more than choice,

Sometime brevet-captain in the old Fourth Infantry,

Mentioned in Mexican orders for gallant service

And, six years later, forced to resign from the Army

Without enough money to pay for a stateroom home.

Turned farmer on Hardscrabble Farm, turned bill-collector,

Turned clerk in the country-store that his brothers ran,

The eldest-born of the lot, but the family-failure,

Unloading frozen hides from a farmer’s sleigh

With stoop-shouldered strength, whittling beside the stove,

And now and then turning to whiskey to take the sting

From winter and certain memories. 

It didn’t take much. A glass or two would thicken the dogged tongue

And flush the fair skin beneath the ragged brown beard.

Poor and shabby–old “Cap” Grant of Galena,

Who should have amounted to something but hadn’t so far

Though he worked hard and was honest.

A middle-aged clerk,

A stumpy, mute man in a faded army overcoat,

Who wrote the War Department after Fort Sumter,

Offering them such service as he could give

And saying he thought that he was fit to command

As much as a regiment, but getting no answer.

So many letters come to a War Department,

One can hardly bother the clerks to answer them all–

Then a Volunteer colonel, drilling recruits with a stick,

A red bandanna instead of an officer’s sash;

A brigadier-general, one of thirty-seven,

Snubbed by Halleck and slighted by fussy Frémont;

And then the frozen February gale

Over Fort Henry and Fort Donelson,

The gunboats on the cold river–the brief siege–

“Unconditional surrender”–and the newspapers.

                                                                                                                                     Stephen Vincent Benet

The taking of Fort Henry by Ulysses S. Grant on February 6, 1862, was important for a number of reasons:

1.  It opened the Tennessee River to Union gunboats and transports down through northern Alabama, effectively allowing the Union to outflank  Confederate

defenses in Memphis and  throughout eastern Tennessee. Continue Reading

24

Doug Kmiec Says HHS Policy May Cause Him To Oppose Obama

In the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes, however in the mean time, you can always try to get a reprise of your brush with newsworthiness. Self anointed high-profile Obama supporter (and now former ambassador to Malta) Doug Kmiec seems to be trying for this dubious honor by getting back into the national political scene to announce that unless he hears a very good explanation out of the Obama Administration for their HHS policy refusing religious conscience exemptions to Catholic institutions, he may not be able to support Obama in 2012.

Douglas Kmiec, Obama’s former ambassador to Malta, is strongly opposed to Obama’s new mandate that Catholic hospitals and universities provide contraception in their employee health plans.

Kmiec, who served in the Reagan administration, noted that he urged Obama last year to grant an exemption, explaining that such a move “would be an opportunity to be more sensitive to religious freedom than the law requires.”

Asked whether he will back Obama in 2012, Kmiec replied in an email, “Until I have an opportunity to speak with the president, I am for now (unhappily) without a candidate.” Continue Reading

9

Your Super Bowl Champions: the New York Giants

So there evidently this game last night . . .

A random bunch of observations about the Giants victory.

– It would have been completely awesome had Eli Manning announced in his post-game interview that Payton was coming to the Giants as his backup.

– Speaking of post-game celebrations, the NFL’s attempts to mimic the Stanley Cup celebration comes off as so incredibly lame.  The NHL might be the red-headed stepchild of North American professional sports, but it has the one championship celebration that every other pro sports league tries to imitate, but none of them are as cool and as genuine as the hoisting of the Stanley Cup and the parade around the ice.

– People will point to the Giants 9-7 record as a condemnation of the NFL regular season, but does anybody who watched that game think that the Giants weren’t the better team?  The Pats had touchdown drives immediately before and after halftime, but the Giants basically dominated just about every other second of that game.  So many teams in the NFL are either all defense and or all offense, and the Giants are one of the very few who play well on both sides of the ball.  On top of that, the Giants beat the Packers (really, they mauled them), the 49ers and the Patriots on the way to a championship.  That’s not a fluke.

– I’m probably in the minority but I was happy when Bradshaw slipped into the endzone.  Sure, the odds slightly favor going for the chip shot field goal over letting Brady have the ball with 50 seconds, but too many things can go wrong.  Just one game ago the Patriots saw a kicker miss a sure-fire field goal that would have sent the AFC championship game into overtime.  It’s the Super Bowl, and you take the points and the lead when it is being offered to you, and then trust that the defense can hold.

– The Manning to Tyree play is probably still the superior one when you factor in Manning escaping a sack, but Manning to Manningham is a close second.

– Oh, and did I mention the Giants are the champions of the world:

38

Reagan and Me

Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.

Ronald Reagan

Today is my 55th birthday and the 101rst birthday of Ronald Reagan, the man who gets my vote as the best president of my life time.  As the video clip above indicates, Reagan was a liberal Democrat for the first half of his life.  He often referred to this, sometimes humorously:

Sometimes seriously:

The classic liberal used to be the man who believed the individual was, and should be forever, the master of his destiny. That is now the conservative position. The liberal used to believe in freedom under law. He now takes the ancient feudal position that power is everything. He believes in a stronger and stronger central government, in the philosophy that control is better than freedom. The conservative now quotes Thomas Paine, a long-time refuge of the liberals: ‘Government is a necessary evil; let us have as little of it as possible.’

I of course lived during the time of Reagan’s life after he had become a conservative.  When I was seven years old I watched on television a speech, often referred to by Reagan biographers as The Speech, that Reagan gave in support of Barry Goldwater.  That speech led me to become a conservative.  The clip below is from a section of the speech that I have recalled all of my life: Continue Reading

9

Ross Douthat’s Readers Prove his Point

I can easily imagine from their comments how much it galls the typical readers of the New York Times to read opinion pieces by Ross Douthat.  Today he explains to his reader the extreme media bias on the issue of abortion.

Conservative complaints about media bias are sometimes overdrawn. But on the abortion issue, the press’s prejudices are often absolute, its biases blatant and its blinders impenetrable. In many newsrooms and television studios across the country, Planned Parenthood is regarded as the equivalent of, well, the Komen foundation: an apolitical, high-minded and humanitarian institution whose work no rational person — and certainly no self-respecting woman — could possibly question or oppose.  

Go here to read the rest.    To pro-lifers this is very old news.  It is hysterically funny however to read the comments to his piece: Continue Reading

7

Government Health Care Mandate Awakens The Faithful From Their Slumber

Occasionally the haughty and arrogant become so full of themselves, they are deluded into thinking that by their sheer will and intellect they will convince a sizeable part of the populace to give up their beliefs. The current administration illustrated this very point when they announced last month that every group will be forced to abide by the dictates of the governmental health care plan. All employers must provide birth control coverage in their health care plans as well as the morning after abortion pill. (Churches were given an exemption but churches are a small part of church related institutions, such as hospitals, schools, universities etc.)

The prairie fire started by President Barack Obama’s Administration wasn’t immediately reported by the mainstream media. Surely some in the mainstream media must have thought few Catholics would care if a bunch of old bishops read a letter from the pulpit that would go in one ear and out the other. Well of course,  at least the “enlightened Catholic populace” who voted for President Obama would surely come to this conclusion. Those who would care wouldn’t vote for the President anyway, the liberal talking heads surmised. This shows how ill informed many in the mainstream media have become; for since the last 20 years or so increasing numbers of newly appointed bishops and cardinals have been far more orthodox in their beliefs and far less willing to appeal to the whims of the political world.

When I first heard the news, I thought there must be some sort of mistake; surely any freshman majoring in Political Science would realize that rankling the feathers of any major swing state voting bloc especially that of Catholics would make little sense. Yet even after some in the mainstream media awoke from their militant secular slumber, the White House insisted that this dictate would remain because of the “deeply held beliefs of the President.”

This created an opening for the Republican Primary candidates who pounced on the issue, none more than former Speaker Newt Gingrich who called it, “President Obama’s War on The Catholic Church.” Traditional and conservative minded people of all faiths immediately expressed shock at the decision of the White House. Even liberal columnist EJ Dionne wrote a scathing column saying, “The President had thrown him and his fellow Progressive Catholic allies under the bus.” Naturally the liberal media and the likes of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi rushed to the President’s defense. MSNBC’s Ed Schultz, seemingly unaware of the White House decision, wondered what on earth Newt Gingrich was talking about with “Obama’s War on the  Catholic Church,” which Gingrich stated in his concession speech following the Florida primary. Former Speaker Pelosi did her best Richard Rich imitation saying she “stood firmly with the Obama Administration.” Continue Reading

15

Komen as an Example of Liberal Tolerance for Diversity

One of the key ironies of the times in which we live, is that those who prate most about tolerance tend to be the most intolerant.  A recent example is Komen and the hysterical reaction of the pro-aborts to the news that Komen was going to be neutral here on out in the abortion debate and would no longer be giving their annual tribute to Planned Parenthood a/k/a Worse Than Murder, Inc.  This was absolutely intolerable to almost all left-thinking liberals everywhere.   It could not be allowed to stand and they screamed and stamped their feet until the decision was reversed. Nothing is so much of a “high-worship word” on the left in this country as abortion, and Planned Parenthood is the guardian of this holiest of holies.  Such blasphemy against this sacred constitutional rite right could not be tolerated, and Mark Steyn explains why:

Until the other day, Komen were also generous patrons of Planned Parenthood, the “women’s health” organization. The foundation then decided it preferred to focus on organizations that are “providing the lifesaving mammogram.” Planned Parenthood does not provide mammograms, despite its president, Cecile Richards, testifying to the contrary before Congress last year. Rather, Planned Parenthood provides abortions; it’s the biggest abortion provider in the United States. For the breast-cancer bigwigs to wish to target their grants more relevantly is surely understandable.

But not if you’re a liberal enforcer. Senator Barbara Boxer, with characteristic understatement, compared the Komen Foundation’s Nancy Brinker to Joe McCarthy: “I’m reminded of the McCarthy era, where somebody said: ‘Oh,’ a congressman stands up, a senator, ‘I’m investigating this organization and therefore people should stop funding them.’” But Komen is not a congressman or a senator or any other part of the government, only a private organization. And therefore it is free to give its money to whomever it wishes, isn’t it?

Dream on. Liberals take the same view as the proprietors of the Dar al-Islam: Once they hold this land, they hold it forever. Notwithstanding that those who give to the foundation are specifically giving to support breast-cancer research, Komen could not be permitted to get away with disrespecting Big Abortion. We don’t want to return to the bad old days of the back alley, when a poor vulnerable person who made the mistake of stepping out of line had to be forced into the shadows and have the realities explained to them with a tire iron. Now Big Liberalism’s enforcers do it on the front pages with the panjandrums of tolerance and diversity cheering them all the way. In the wake of Komen’s decision, the Yale School of Public Health told the Washington Post’s Sarah Kliff that its invitation to Nancy Brinker to be its commencement speaker was now “under careful review.” Because God forbid anybody doing a master’s program at an Ivy League institution should be exposed to anyone not in full 100 percent compliance with liberal orthodoxy. The American Association of University Women announced it would no longer sponsor teams for Komen’s “Race for the Cure.” Sure, Komen has raised $2 billion for the cure, but better we never cure breast cancer than let a single errant Injun wander off the abortion reservation. Terry O’Neill of the National Organization for Women said Komen “is no longer an organization whose mission is to advance women’s health.” You preach it, sister. I mean, doesn’t the very idea of an organization obsessively focused on breasts sound suspiciously patriarchal? Continue Reading

7

Marco Rubio Gives Passionate Pro-life Speech

This is an issue that, especially for those that enter the public arena and refuse to leave our faith behind, speaks to more than just our politics. It speaks to what we want to do with the opportunity we have been given in our life, to serve and to glorify our Creator.

                                                                         Marco Rubio

 

Video of Senator Marco Rubio (R. Fla.) delivering the keynote address on February 1, 2012 at the Susan B. Anthony List Fifth Gala for Life.  If  Rubio isn’t the Republican vice-president nominee this year, despite his disclaiming of any interest in the office, the GOP leadership is crazy.  He is eloquent, youthful and a brilliant defender of life.  His nomination will seal up Florida, gain the Republicans a larger share of the Hispanic vote than they have ever garnered before in a Presidential race and bring enthusiasm and hope to the ranks of social conservative voters.

Tying this speech in with his sponsorship of  the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 2012 this week, Rubio is clearly signaling that if he is placed on the ticket he intends to champion issues near and dear to the hearts of Catholics.  Obama decides to use the Church as a punching bag in order to appease his leftist base.  Rubio counters with a defense of the Church and Life to draw a stark contrast.  Obama will soon have his Yamamoto moment:

 

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36

Unelectable

Santorum 45, Obama 44 according to Rasmussen.

Doesn’t exactly sound like Johnson-Goldwater to me.

I should add, by the way, that it’s just a snapshot of the current mood, and by no means indicative that Santorum would have a free and easy path to a general election victory.  It does show that the grave concerns about Santorum’s ultimate electability are overwrought to say the least.

So, to sum up, Santorum polls better than Gingrich against Obama, is more conservative than Gingrich, and has certainly far less personal baggage than Gingrich.  For those of you still clinging to Gingrich as the anti-Romney of your choice, why?

8

One Picture Says It All

Hattip to Ed Morrissey at Hot Air.  The cartoonist Michael Ramirez neatly encapsulates why the Obama administration seethes with hostility against the Church.   Governments that decide that they are the True Faith inevitably come into conflict with the actual True Faith, as the history of the Church constantly illustrates.  I doubt if President Obama has studied that history yet.  Let us give him ample opportunity in retirement to do so, beginning in 2013.

1

Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat

Something for the weekend.  Stubby Kaye gives a show stopping performance of Sit Down You’re Rockin’ the Boat from the film adaptation of the play Guys and Dolls (1955).  My daughter’s high school is putting on the Guys and Dolls play this semester and my daughter has the role of the Salvation Army General Matilda B. Cartwright.  My wife and I viewed the film a few weeks ago.  It had been decades since I last watched it and I had forgotten just how much fun it is.  A better time in America’s cultural life. Continue Reading

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This is Still America, Isn’t It?

 

In my mispent youth I wore Army green for a few years.  My main contribution to the nation’s defense was when I was discharged, but I have always retained a fondness for the Army.  Therefore I have very strong feelings about the attempt by the Obama administration to censor Archbishop Timothy Broglio, the Catholic Archbishop for the military services in the US.

 

On Thursday, January 26, Archbishop Broglio emailed a pastoral letter to Catholic military chaplains with instructions that it be read from the pulpit at Sunday Masses the following weekend in all military chapels. The letter calls on Catholics to resist the policy initiative, recently affirmed by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, for federally mandated health insurance covering sterilization, abortifacients and contraception, because it represents a violation of the freedom of religion recognized by the U.S. Constitution.

The Army’s Office of the Chief of Chaplains subsequently sent an email to senior chaplains advising them that the Archbishop’s letter was not coordinated with that office and asked that it not be read from the pulpit.  The Chief’s office directed that the letter was to be mentioned in the Mass announcements and distributed in printed form in the back of the chapel.

Archbishop Broglio and the Archdiocese stand firm in the belief, based on legal precedent, that such a directive from the Army constituted a violation of his Constitutionally-protected right of free speech and the free exercise of religion, as well as those same rights of all military chaplains and their congregants.

Following a discussion between Archbishop Broglio and the Secretary of the Army, The Honorable John McHugh, it was agreed that it was a mistake to stop the reading of the Archbishop’s letter.  Additionally, the line: “We cannot — we will not — comply with this unjust law” was removed by Archbishop Broglio at the suggestion of Secretary McHugh over the concern that it could potentially be misunderstood as a call to civil disobedience.
The AMS did not receive any objections to the reading of Archbishop Broglio’s statement from the other branches of service. Continue Reading

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Susan G. Komen Foundation Did Not Reverse Course, But It’s an Epic P.R. Disaster on Their Part

The Susan G. Komen Foundation did not reverse course as many have thought, suggested, or commented all over the Interwebs today.

Even Austin Ruse President of C-FAM is not sure and has issued this press release:

Statement by Austin Ruse on the Susan G. Komen Foundation

“Today the Susan G. Komen Foundation made an announcement that appears that they have reversed themselves on funding of Planned Parenthood. While I do not believe they have reversed themselves, it may turn out to be the case. We do not know.

What happened this week was nothing short of a Mafia shakedown campaign by Planned Parenthood against the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Planned Parenthood told the Komen Foundation “either give us money or we will destroy you.” They were aided and abetted in this hostage taking by the mainstream media.

At this point, pro-lifers should cease their support of the Susan G. Komen Foundation. We should wait and see what happens. We know there are five more Komen grants to Planned Parenthood in the pipeline. If any more come up, we will know we have lost and Planned Parenthood has won.

I do not regret the work I did over the past days on this issue, neither should any pro-lifer. I only regret we could not have done more to make Komen strong and able to fight off the thuggish abortion giant, Planned Parenthood.

What the week has shown is that Planned Parenthood, an organization that is under criminal investigation all over this country, will stop at nothing to maintain their stranglehold on organizations like the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

We should continue to pray for Nancy Brinker and all of her colleagues at the Susan G. Komen Foundation.”

The American Papist and Steven D. Greydanus agree with me on this one.

Look at it from Komen’s perspective, they’re taking a public relations hit by the punks and thugs from Planned Parenthood and their allies.  It’s a war, a Culture War out there!

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