DarwinCatholic

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Komen Foundation Reverses Course, Promises to Keep Funding Planned Parenthood [UPDATED AGAIN]

UPDATED AGAIN: Susan G. Komen Foundation Did Not Reverse Course, But It’s an Epic P.R. Disaster on Their Part – Tito Edwards, The American Catholic

The last two days have been a huge publicity storm for the Komen Foundation as supporters and opponents of abortion squared off over the foundation’s decision to stop providing grants to Planned Parenthood to fund breast cancer exams. Today, Komen apparently decided that offending the pro-abortion half of the country wasn’t enough, and decided to offend the pro-life half as well by reversing their decision and pledging to continue funding Planned Parenthood:

“We will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligiblity to appy for future grants,” Nancy G. Brinker, the agency’s ambassador, said in a statement.

“We want to apologize to the American public for recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women’s lives.”

In addition to disgust that the pro-aborts got their way on this one, I have to say that I’m simply staggered by the utter PR incompetence of this whole circus. Perhaps the hope on Komen’s part had been that they could drop Planned Parenthood quietly and thus widen their support base without offending pro-aborts. Whatever the thinking that led to this high profile flip-flop, the result is not merely the appearance of lacking principle but also that those with strong feelings on both sides are now deeply distrustful of the organization.

UPDATE: LifeSiteNews is claiming (on the basis of statements by Austin Ruse of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute) that this is all basically smoke screen on the part of the Komen Foundation in order to get Planned Parenthood off their backs, and that all they’re doing is promising to allow Planned Parenthood to continue applying for grants (at which point they may well not select them.)

Austin Ruse, the president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, who has been very closely following the Komen decision-making process, told LifeNews that the statement is not really a change in position but he says the sentence “We will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants, while maintaining the ability of our affiliates to make funding decisions that meet the needs of their communities” is “troubling” for pro-life advocates.

“This represents nothing new. We have known and have reported that they are continuing five grants through 2012. This is a reference to that. The second clause about eligibility is certainly true. Any group can apply for anything. It does not mean they are going to get anything,” Ruse told LifeNews.

“What this is is an effort to get the mafia off of their backs. As James Taranto said in the Wall Street Journal yesterday, this is a classic shakedown operation. Give us money or we will destroy you. This is Komen’s attempt to save their organization, which we should know is in peril. Our side should know that nothing has changed.”

Jill Stanek, a pro-life blogger, also says pro-life advocates should not give up on Komen yet.

“If Planned Parenthood is found guilty of criminal investigations, several of which are ongoing around the states (Medicaid fraud in Texas and California; fraudulent reporting and illegal abortions in Kansas, and yes, the federal Congressional investigation, etc.), Komen’s criteria will still disqualify Planned Parenthood from receiving grants, as it should,” Stanek says. “This is Komen’s attempt to get the abortion mafia off their backs. Planned Parenthood and its thugs have engaged in typical shakedown: Give us money or we will destroy you.”

Ruse responded to that saying those grants will very likely be the last Komen makes to the abortion business.

“Komen has five outstanding grants going out this year to Planned Parenthood. We have known about them all along. After that, the door is shut,” Ruse said. “Nothing has changed since the decision was made in December to defund Planned Parenthood after these grants are finished.”

“Could these Planned Parenthood groups apply for future grants? Of course they could. Anyone can apply for anything. Will they get them? Highly unlikely for two reasons,” Ruse added. “First, Komen’s new policy says they do not fund groups that are under investigation or groups that do not provide primary care of women or research.”

“Second, Planned Parenthood’s vicious attacks against Susan G. Komen for the Cure has engendered a great deal of hurt and anger inside the organization,” Ruse told LifeNews. “Quite simply, Planned Parenthood is utilizing a scorched earth policy against Komen and burning all their bridges. Funding will never come back to them. Keep in mind also, that Nancy Brinker may be trying to make conciliatory gestures to her former friends. But she is discovering what we have known all along, that Planned Parenthood are dishonest thugs.”

Frankly, I don’t know whether I buy this or not, and even if it’s true it seems to me that the double talk is only going to hurt them more. However, one can only wait and see.

Guest Book Review: How Far Can We Go?

[Ah, spring, that heady time when a youth Catholic's mind turns to, "Is this a sin?" And to answer these questions, and generally provide a brief respite in the tactical politics which we all enjoy so much, I present a book review written by my wife, the lovely MrsDarwin. Enjoy. --Darwin]

In my days as a young unmarried Catholic, I often suffered through chastity talks or had dating manuals pressed on me. The Protestant dating manuals (or, more accurately, not-dating, since apparently dating is right out in those circles, to be replaced by the nebulous concept of “courtship”) were painfully earnest in their descriptions of hypothetical couples who were keeping their relationships 99.44% pure by following strict rules of behavior. Chastity talks were even more painful because you had to be there in person, squirming in your folding chair and wishing the floor would swallow you as the speaker hemmed and hawed, or, even worse, was wildly enthusiastic for Purity! There seemed to be no happy medium between  either rigid guidelines that seemed designed to minimize contact between a couple, or hazy exhortations to purity that gave one no practical guidance in the matter of a relationship rooted in reality.

After the discussion following this post about the proper level of physical interaction before marriage, Darwin ordered a book on the subject by Brett Salkeld, a fellow blogger and acquaintance. Brett and his co-author Leah Perrault know this sad scene all too well, and they have written a refreshing remedy and valuable resource, How Far Can We Go? A Catholic Guide to Sex and Dating.

Here are two famous answers to the question “How far can we go?”

  • Keep both feet on the floor.
  • Asking “How far can we go?” is like taking your girlfriend or boyfriend in your arms, walking to the edge of a cliff, and asking, “How close can I get to the edge?”

We had to write this book because we think both these answers are unsatisfactory. We think we can do better. The first answer is very practical, but anyone with a little imagination can get around it. In trying to set out an easy-to-follow guideline for Catholic couples, it ignores the question of Christian formation. It says that physical intimacy is only about how you act, and has no connection to the kind of person you are called to become.  

The second answer is much more dangerous. The foundation of the metaphor it uses is that sex is roughly equivalent to suicide! In other words, sex is dangerous and sinful. Any advance in physical intimacy is just getting you closer and closer to the edge of the cliff. When we give answers like this it is no wonder the world thinks the Church is down on sex! 

…One of the reasons that Christian books on sex and dating have given a misleading view about sexuality is that they ignore the essential communicative aspect of sexuality. Sexual sin is presented as crossing some vague boundary partway up an imaginary list of increasingly intimate physical acts. But, in the context of physical intimacy, sin isn’t crossing an arbitrary line. Sexual sin is about using your body to lie to your partner (and probably yourself) about the nature of your relationship. There need to be one or two clear lines about what is appropriate for unmarried people, but those lines are not drawn to keep people from acts that impure in and of themselves. They are drawn to keep people from lying with the language of their bodies. This book, then, is not primarily about which acts are and are not permissible. This book is about learning to speak the truth with your body.

One thing I really appreciate here is that Salkeld and Perrault have a respect for their young audience, and don’t treat the question “How far can we go?” as an attempt to find out how much whoopie one can get away with, but an honest query about what is right and appropriate at any point in a relationship. (I snickered out loud at their description of a youth group leader who answers this question from a young couple by saying, “I’ll let you in on a little secret. Your relationship will do much better if, instead, you ask yourselves how pure you can be.” If you haven’t heard twaddle like that, you haven’t been around the Authentically Catholic! youth scene much.) They emphasize from the start that their model of dating “presumes that those who use it are sincerely trying to live holy lives. If you’re hoping to find loopholes so you can get away with as much as possible and still say you’re following Catholic rules, this model isn’t for you.”
Continue reading

Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation Breaks Partnership with Planned Parenthood

In a piece of very good news, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation has announced that they are breaking the partnership they have maintained for some years with Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood is miffed, calling the decision “deeply disturbing and disappointing.” From The Hill (linked above):

The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation has broken off a partnership through which it provided cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood clinics, the Associated Press reported Tuesday. Planned Parenthood blamed the political controversy over abortion.

“We are alarmed and saddened that the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation appears to have succumbed to political pressure. Our greatest desire is for Komen to reconsider this policy and recommit to the partnership on which so many women count,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Planned Parenthood said its clinics provided about 4 million screenings for breast cancer over the past five years, roughly 170,000 of which were supported by Komen grants.

Planned Parenthood said it has established an emergency fund to offset the loss of the Komen funds.

Komen told the AP that it ended its partnership with Planned Parenthood because of a congressional investigation into the organization. Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce committee have requested detailed financial records from Planned Parenthood.

This seems like an utterly obvious thing for Komen to do, and frankly it’s surprising it’s taken so long. Continue reading

Howard Zinn, Neo-Confederate

While I disagree with him on a host of political issues, I follow Ta-Nehisi Coates’s blog at The Atlantic closely because of his consistently well written and fascinating posts on history and literature. Many of these are on the Civil War, which has in recent years become a topic of great interest to him.

There was a particularly interesting pair of these a couple weeks ago in which Coates and his commenters discussed (in the context of Ron Paul’s repeated statements that the Civil War was unnecessary) the fact that left wing icon Howard Zinn actually peddles the several of the neo-confederate tropes: that the Civil War was fought for Northern economic domination and had little to do with slavery, and that a the Civil War clearly wasn’t necessary in order to end slavery anyway. [First post on Ron Paul, Howard Zinn and the Civil War. Second, followup post.] The specific Howard Zinn text that they go after (because it’s conveniently online) is a lecture he gave called Three Holy Wars, in which he tries to make a case for why people should not see the Revolutionary War, American Civil War or American involvement in World War II as moral or just — something he argues is important because seeing any past wars as just allows people to justify other wars on analogy.

Zinn proceeds to run through most of the standard complaints against the “War of Northern Aggression”:
It was really, really bad:

Slavery. Slavery, nothing worse. Slavery. And at the end of the Civil War, there’s no slavery. You can’t deny that. So, yeah, you have to put that on one side of the ledger, the end of slavery. On the other side, you have to put the human cost of the Civil War in lives: 600,000. I don’t know how many people know or learn or remember how many lives were lost in the Civil War, which was the bloodiest, most brutal, ugliest war in our history, from the point of view of dead and wounded and mutilated and blinded and crippled. Six hundred thousand dead in a country of 830 million. Think about that in relation today’s population; it’s as if we fought a civil war today, and five or six million people died in this civil war. Well, you might say, well, maybe that’s worth it, to end slavery. Maybe. Well, OK, I won’t argue that. Maybe. But at least you know what the cost is.

The Civil War didn’t meaningfully free them anyway: Continue reading

Jesus Sided With The Outcasts, Which Means People I Like

If there is one thing that virtually anyone can tell you about Jesus, it’s that he sided with the outcasts and the oppressed. He was on the outs with the Pharisees and he hung out with tax collectors and prostitutes and Samaritans.

Simplistically applied, many people tend to take this to mean that Jesus would clearly have approved of any cause which is scorned by the wider society. Of course, we all want to imagine that Jesus is on our side, and people often feel criticism keenly, so the end result often seems to be that people consider whatever causes they consider to be important to be those which are scorned by society, and thus which Jesus would approve of.

Thus, for instance, I recall my youth group leaders back in high school explaining to us that “if Jesus were alive today” (a phrase which bugged me nearly as much as our catechist’s tendency to declare that various things would cause Jesus to “spin in his grave” if only he knew about them) he would be marching in the Gay Pride parades and in favor of environmental causes. Why? Well, he was on the side of outcasts, and those movements are the outcasts. Ask someone else, and you’d get the precise opposite: mainstream society accepts gay rights and green causes, but pro-lifers and those who support traditional marriage are “the outcasts”.
Continue reading

The Oft-Repeated Lie About Warren Buffet’s Secretary’s Tax Rate

For last night’s State of the Union Address, President Obama invited Warren Buffet’s secretary, Debbie Bosanek, to sit in the First Lady’s box during the speech and specifically promised in that speech to support tax changes in order to mend the injustice Buffet claims occurs allowing him to pay the lowest tax rate of anyone in his office, including his secretary. This line of attack is doubtless partly designed to pave the way millionaire Barrack Obama to make populist attacks on multi-millionaire Mitt Romney during the upcoming presidential campaign. Romney is, after all, very, very rich, and his income comes primarily from investments.

David Leonhardt at the NY Times asks both right-leaning economist Greg Mankiw and the left leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities to comment on this alleged tax injustice. Mankiw makes a fairly reasonable case that the reason capital gains are lower is that investment income is based on corporate profits and corporate profits have already been taxed. Companies would have more profits to pass on to investors (either as dividends or in the form of being worth more) if they didn’t pay corporate taxes, and so the tax on investment income is set lower to avoid this “double taxation”. Chuck Marr of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities must know the facts aren’t on his side, because instead of answering the question he provides a canned response about income inequality and how tax rates are lower than in the ’70s. The column is worth a read.

However, there’s another issue here which I think is worth pointing out. Progressives writing on this issue usually act as if billionaire investors such as Warren Buffet are all paying right around 15% (the capital gains rate) in taxes — Buffet claims that he pays 17.4% — and that “middle class Americans” are paying the top marginal income tax rate of 35%. Continue reading

Confessions of a Reluctant Romney Supporter

I haven’t written much of anything about the GOP primary contest, despite the fact I have been following it closely, in part because I found myself so incredibly dissatisfied with all the candidates. However, as the field narrows and appears to be actually competitive, and various people I respect line up behind candidates, it seemed like it was time to come out of the closet as something I’m not very enthusiastic about being: a Romney supporter.

This is not because I’m particularly fond of Romney. I don’t trust him a great deal, I’m not clear how solid any of his principles are other than his conviction that he should be president, and I don’t find him particularly inspiring. As various candidates have had their five minutes of popularity for the achievement of not being Romney, I kept hoping that one of them would manage to pull ahead and show some stature. I was particularly hopeful about Rick Perry, but he just didn’t seem able to run a campaign.

So why support Romney?

I’ll start with the positive. While I’m not enthusiastic about Romney, I think that most of what the GOP needs in order to oust Obama this year is simply a credible alternative who doesn’t scare people too much. Given how bad the economy is and how unpopular some elements of his policy have been, “not Obama” can be a solidly popular candidate by that virtue alone. Continue reading

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

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

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

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

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

Catholicism and “Neoliberalism”: Strawmen Are Often Contrary to Church Teaching

David Cloutier at the Catholic Moral Theology blog links approvingly to a post at dotCommonweal addressing Romney’s political views which asks whether “neoliberalism” (the which is here used to mean something along the lines of free market capitalism) and Catholicism can ever be compatible. He says:

Superb exchange going on over at dotCommonweal over a post about how certain political conservatives, like Rick Santorum or Michael Gerson, try to reconcile their Catholicism with the neoliberal paradigm. For once, even the comment thread is worth reading!

I think this is an important – if not THE important – debate about Catholicism and politics in the current election. Often, the debate over particular policies dominates, but in fact, what we should be looking at are the basic principles of the economic order. If a candidate fundamentally contradicts the basic principles, Catholics should have reservations about supporting him. In the post referred to above, “neoliberalism” is cast in terms of a pure free-market conception, in which governments take a minimal role in economic activity, providing for enforcement of contracts, a stable currency, etc. – protection against “force and fraud.” Others claim that Gerson forthrightly support subsidiary actors – such as families, community organizations, and churches – and so is not in fact individualist.

The (frequently made) mistake here is one that goes back to Edmund Burke, that “father” of conservatism. Burke seeks to deal with nascent industrial capitalism by (Warning: blogging oversimplification ahead…) distinguishing between a sphere of “culture” (or “civil society”) that can be fostered, and refuses to attribute social problems to the mechanisms of the market itself. He defends the market as good, over against the landed establishment (the “nobles”) of the pre-industrial order, which is who he is opposing. But for him, the market is not all there is. (One sometimes sees a variant of this in defending Adam Smith by noting one must read both The Wealth of Nations and The Theory of Moral Sentiments.)
Continue reading

Some Music for your Epiphany

In honor of the day, however, I thought I’d repost the video I put together for Epiphany a couple years ago. I first encountered this classic orchestration of We Three Kings by Eugene Ormandy when I was a child, watching my dad give the annual Christmas Star Show up at the Griffith Observatory. Since the recording is hard to find, and there too it the music provided background to a montage of artistic representations of the Three Kings, I took the liberty of putting together a YouTube video for the occasion.

One Horse Open Sleigh

To hear most recordings of “Jingle Bells”, you wouldn’t know that the song dates back to 1850, when it was published under the title “One Horse Open Sleigh”. However, this (sadly out of print) recording by the Robert DeCormier Singers and Ensemble back in 1984 does a wonderful job of putting the history back into this classic. Seeing as it’s difficult to get hold of copies of the original album these days, I’ve ventured to put it up on YouTube.

While in general I’m a stickler for sacred Christmas Music, this is just so charming it’s hard to pass up. A merry Christmas to all our readers!

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