Expert Advice on “Breastfeeding” Without Controversy

Friday, June 1, AD 2012

This is in response, sort of but in general whether you’re in the military or not, to this photo, and others, mentioned at Huffington Post, and elsewhereGo ahead, gawk and wince.

Nursing doesn’t have to be controversial. Too often the conflicts over breastfeeding in public turn into a debate about whether the woman has a right to expose herself in public or not. One side says it’s natural and the woman is justified, the other side says she isn’t because, frankly, it makes people uncomfortable.

When I was younger, I was in the first category, a me-first mentality and the media seems to encourage that mindset. “Look what a great mom I am!” For me, that need to show-off was a compensation for the compromises and insecurities of trying to appear liberated. As I nurse this seventh child now, I realize my approach to nursing has changed, drastically. [1] Age? Experience? Faith? (Exhaustion?) A lot of reasons.

First, that compulsion to prove myself vanished. I’m happy, confident, and proud in my home, and if I must go somewhere, then I am prepared to find an enclave. Nursing, like it or not, is private, and a woman is not oppressed if she has to excuse herself to feed her child. It’s a considerate gesture, an act of propriety, to acknowledge those around you — basic good manners. [2]

Second, because it will happen, when I have no choice but to nurse in front of other people, I do it discretely. It doesn’t have to be a big deal, and a woman’s attitude can put others at ease. Cover up with a blanket, focus on the baby, and do what needs to be done. This may seem insignificant, but refraining from eye contact will do much to maintain a little private bubble. [3] Chances are, no one will even notice, and your mini-withdrawal will put them at ease if they do. Once the baby’s situated, carry on. People don’t mind knowing you are nursing, it’s the risk of exposure that makes them nervous. Understandably so. Nursing is intimate.

Third, I simply let myself enjoy it. It’s not a competition and babies grow too fast anyway. These are precious moments. So what if you have to make temporary sacrifices? So what if you have to learn, by sometimes failing, to navigate uncomfortable scenarios graciously?

Last, using a more appropriate word helped me orient my thinking. “Breastfeeding” sounds so utilitarian. I prefer to call it “nursing” which implies loving care. Moms nurse the child in the womb, and into adulthood. Every stage comes with its challenges and joys, so let the first years be intimately special, and leave the controversy for another day. [4]

In other words, lighten up. You don’t need publicly published professional photography to capture the moment and rankle a non-issue.

 

What? Did you think I've violate what I just said with a photo of a bare-chested woman?

 

[1] More like, all pretense has been beaten out of me.

[2] No one posts pictures of changing poopy diapers.

[3] Shooting daring glances at strangers is a bad idea.

[4] Like those things Mr. Donald R. McClarey pointed out.

 

Image credit: Microsoft Powerpoint

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42 Responses to Expert Advice on “Breastfeeding” Without Controversy

  • “Cover up with a blanket, focus on the baby, and do what needs to be done. This may seem insignificant, but refraining from eye contact will do much to maintain a little private bubble.”

    You know, as a practical matter, unless you’re literally hiding in a corner, I don’t think this is actually true. I think it makes you *more* noticeable, if you happen to be out in public, to be “focusing on the baby” (not to mention that it’s not possible both to cover up with a blanket and focus on the baby unless the blanket is over your own head).

    I’m nursing my fourth child — I’ve been a nursing mother for almost 12 years straight now — and learning how to breastfeed casually and comfortably AND without showing a lot of skin was definitely a learning curve. I’m sure I was horrible at it when I was nursing my first newborn, and I have a terrible memory of leaking milk all over the grocery store once. But anyway, if I’m seated and have a small baby tucked well into a baby sling that provides its own cover, I find that once I get set up so to speak, the key to not being noticed is to NOT look at the baby — just look people in the eye and act normally. Most people assume, I think, that the baby is sleeping. OTOH, whenever I tried to fuss with one of those cover-up thingies I always felt like I had a big flashing sign over my head that read “THIS LADY HAS HER BOOB OUT UNDER HERE.” So I quit ’em.

  • Pingback: Cardinal Dolan Jason Jones Nashville Dominicans Breastfeeding | The Pulpit
  • I love the idea of appropriate wording. I too call it nursing most of the time. It is an apt term.

    I’m still nursing my third child and have had changes in my attitude toward nursing in public over the years, but I think our attitudes are going in the opposite direction. When my oldest was born, I never nursed in front of anyone except my husband, mother, and sister. If anyone else was around, I would retreat somewhere else. It got old fast. I felt pretty lonely. If we were out in public, I would find sitting rooms in the bathroom or some place extremely private. Again lonely. Once while in the sitting room of the bathroom in a department store, I got treated to two women (old enough to know better) completely grossed out by my nursing. They just couldn’t believe anyone would do something like that especially in public (public being the restroom but not in a stall). So after that and over time I pretty much developed the attitude of ‘screw it.’ Not screw it to discretion or good manners and taste, but screw it to other people’s hang-ups. I decided to be discreet and nurse where ever I felt it was appropriate and not feel like I had a moral responsibility to go hide in a closet.

    I think a friendly confident attitude is the key to making everyone at ease when nursing in public. You shouldn’t have a defiant attitude daring someone to question you, a la TIME magazine, but you also shouldn’t be so uncomfortable that you project the attitude of “I am doing something weird and perhaps wrong here so please, please, please don’t look at me.” If you do your very best not to flash the world and not make a scene, I think you have fulfilled your moral obligation.

    I agree with bearing that a woman with a cover-up is usually more noticeable than the discreet non-covered nurser. I know I notice more. Especially with a baby unaccustomed to having a blanket on his head and very unhappy about it. Also I hate it when people compare nursing to dirty diapers. Not the same. Breastmilk is not hazardous waste.

  • Thank you for that advice! That last part was funny, yeah, I get what you mean. 😀

  • Loved the article. Breastmilk is not dairy. Diapers are slightly less gross.

  • There’s no reason that a child should be forced to have lunch in a public restroom … it’s not like any of us would chose to do so!

  • Fr Levi

    I recall a lady, who was helping me with the lambing, breaking off to nurse her baby on a straw bale in the corner of the lambing-shed. I remember thinking to myself, “That child will never suffer from allergies”

    Really, it astonishes me that anyone would feel squeamish about a child being nursed.

  • I have, on a few occasions, approached women who were discreetly nursing, in order to ask directions or some other innocuous thing, only to realize when I’m right in front of them what was happening. They were so good at simply not advertising their preoccupation that I didn’t even begin to notice. Most times, as well, they were quite comforatble in responding to what I was asking.

    I’ve never approached anybody doing what the soldier women were doing.

  • I’ve never approached anybody doing what the soldier women were doing.

    Both of them? I’ve looked at the picture and the woman with twins is quite exposed, but I have never had twins so it might be impossible to discreetly nurse twins. I don’t know that may be the best that can be done. Given that, I don’t think I would nurse twins in public if that is the best possible outcome because she really is very exposed and I would be very uncomfortable with it.

    But the woman on the right looks very discreet. Maybe she could have straightened her shirt there a bit, but I don’t see any flesh so that qualifies as a good job in my book. If the woman on the right is lumped in with the others as inappropriate public nursing, then, to me, she is an example of how nursing mothers should not be responsible for other people’s hang-ups.

  • I nursed my daughter until she was about eighteen months old. Never had any issue doing it in public, although I absolutely covered myself during. I’ve found that most people either don’t notice or don’t care so long as your breasts aren’t hanging out.

  • I’m with Bearing. If you have the knack for nursing with no flesh showing, the most discreet thing is to act like you’re just holding your baby. I’ve watch a pro mom do this (in her kitchen, when I *knew* she had just taken a fussy baby and put it to a breast), and had to mentally remind myself she was nursing, just because, well, looks like mom holding sleeping baby.

    I think the obvious retreat, blanket thrown over baby, etc., only draws attention to what is happening. Good second choice if you can’t physically manage to breastfeed discretely, but it’s a second choice.

  • Fittingly, about a week ago I was at the local Army BX and a lady was nursing in the baby area. I didn’t realize that was what she was doing when I called the Toddler Terrible back from her, just figured she was getting a feel for the baby blanket.

    FWIW, no, the ladies should NOT have been photographed in uniform to promote something or other for a non-military source. It’s beaten into your head as military, you do NOT use the uniform for ANYTHING that’s not military.

    The rule I use for nursing is “get what must be done done without hurting anybody.” And yes, flashing your boobies at a gazillion folks who just wanted to go shopping is a form of harm. Basic freaking manners, ladies. Nobody wants to see your boobies unless they’re married to you. I may be only on baby #2, but try to act like a civilized human. Someone gives you crud in spite of it? That’s their problem. They’re punished enough by being blankers.

  • WK Aiken, “I’ve never approached anybody doing what the soldier women were doing.” Exactly!

  • Jenny,

    “Given that, I don’t think I would nurse twins in public if that is the best possible outcome because she really is very exposed and I would be very uncomfortable with it.”

    That’s what I thought too.

    “But the woman on the right looks very discreet.”

    I think if the photo had only been of that woman, the photo never would have even been controversial.

    Thanks for your comment.

  • Mandy P,

    “I’ve found that most people either don’t notice or don’t care so long as your breasts aren’t hanging out.”

    Yep. 😀

    Jennifer Fitz,

    “Good second choice if you can’t physically manage to breastfeed discretely, but it’s a second choice.”

    Exactly.

    These are great comments. Thank you.

  • Foxfier,

    “FWIW, no, the ladies should NOT have been photographed in uniform to promote something or other for a non-military source. It’s beaten into your head as military, you do NOT use the uniform for ANYTHING that’s not military.”

    Thank you for saying that.

    “The rule I use for nursing is get what must be done done without hurting anybody.”

    Perfect and AMEN. Yes, and if you are doing your best and someone gets offended anyway, it’s a YP not an MP (your problem/my problem). 😉

  • Yall must be a lot more refined than I am. 🙂 You have voiced my general idea much more charitably than I put it. My goal is to do the best for everyone involved in the situation. This includes me, the hungry baby, anyone nearby, and passing strangers. The person not on my priority list is the one who is disgusted by the very notion of a nursing baby.

    I won’t speak to the appropriateness of getting photographed in uniform. I don’t have any military experience so if you say it is not allowed to be photographed without permission, it is not unreasonable for these women to be punished for not seeking permission. I will say that in general it should not be required for women to change out of uniform to nurse their babies. Can you imagine having to change 8 to 12 times a day? Not reasonable. It does make me wonder if there are any military issue nursing shirts. They have maternity clothes, right?

    Funny story: I went to a baby shower when my son was about six weeks old. The expectant mother had a male relative (in his 50s?)who somehow got on the subject of nursing. He was absolutely repulsed by it. He loudly and with hostility declared that nursing was disgusting and it absolutely should not be done in public and he once saw a woman nursing at an airport and wanted to hit her in the face. And while this joyful man was blessing us with his opinions, I was sitting across the room from him nursing my baby and he had no idea.

  • They’re not going to get punished, the pictures just can’t be used. If they did it again they’d be punished, or if they’d embarassed the command or military. If the headline I’ve seen about “military mom ‘proud’ in spite of rebuke” is correct, she might get punished, but that’s because she’s hurting the chain of command. You don’t make a big public deal about how your chain is wrong to tell you something isn’t allowed, ESPECIALLY if they didn’t punish you when they could have. Of course, if she had any sense she wouldn’t have done it in the first place….

    You can nurse in uniform, the sticking point is that when you’re in uniform you’re representing the military. While you’re nursing, you’re technically out of uniform because it’s not in proper order. With every uniform I can think of, if you’re in a private area it’d make the most sense to take off the blouse (button-down shirt thing) and lift the undershirt. The lady I saw in the BX didn’t do that, but she didn’t have a private place, either– did the indian-style seat, drape a blanket over thing. No idea how she managed it, looked normal enough I didn’t realize what was going on immediately and once I figured it out I didn’t look again.
    There just aren’t a lot of times when you’d have to nurse in uniform– when you pick your baby up from care, if you do some shopping on base after work, that sort of thing.

    And yes, there are military maternity clothes. They’re ugly as sin, but that covers most of the unique female uniforms. ^.^ No nursing outfits that I know of, you’re supposed to be back in normal uniform not too long after giving birth. (I can’t remember if it’s when maternity leave ends, or six weeks after that.) There are lots of reasons I didn’t want to be a military mom!

    The AP article says that Captain Keith Kosik mentioned they won’t be disciplined, you just can’t use the uniform to promote causes. If the ANG is like the Navy, though, the women are REALLY going to get hell from their co-workers, though, because they’re going to have to have ANOTHER training day about not using the blanking uniform when speaking publicly. In addition to the yearly blessed training. Yay, wasted time! Hopefully they get away with just doing whatever the zoomies call quarters, though.

  • I don’t know why so many people are so skiddish about breasts in the US in Europe and Brasil people aren’t constantly trying to make them big but are also not trying to worry to much about them because the men there think of Breasts as baby feeders.

  • The milk of human kindness has been withheld from a whole generation.

  • Jenny

    A delightful story!

    Such attitudes seem to be more widespread than one would imagine. Here in Scotland, we actually have the Breastfeeding etc. (Scotland) Act 2005 that provides “it is an offence deliberately to prevent or stop a person in charge of a child from feeding milk to that child in a public place or on licensed premises.” “’Feeding’ includes— (a) breastfeeding; and (b) feeding from a bottle or other container.”

    Not only that, but the Act imposes a duty on the executive: “The Scottish Ministers shall make arrangements, to such extent as they consider necessary to meet all reasonable requirements, for the purpose of supporting and encouraging the breastfeeding of children by their mothers.”

    What is really shocking is that such legislation should be necessary.

  • Ever hear the expression, there’s a time and place for everything. The breasts are considered a private part of the woman’s body and should be used discreetly when nursing. A woman pulled out her breast in church and shoved it into her baby’s mouth. It was not discreet and very distracting. Sorry, but we don’t wear blinders in church and there was a “cry room” where she could have done this. It’s not that anything is wrong with breastfeeding, it’s a matter of propriety. Did you ever think that there may be young men battling issues of chastity or, conversely, dirty old men fantasizing about women’s bodies when they see this. Eliminating is also a natural function; will this be allowed in public as well?

  • Bearing, YES, exactly! You are SO more obvious with a blanket over the baby and mine would always tear it off only to leave me more exposed than I would be if I would have just discreetly nursed them.

    I don’t think we are doing anyone a service by leaving the room everytime a baby needs to nurse. We are treating nursing as being unnatural and as something to hide.

    This conversation, like the being excessively modest in dress one, can actually have the reverse effect. It can actually objectify women more and encourage wrong beliefs that breasts are purely sexual objects

  • I don’t think we are doing anyone a service by leaving the room everytime a baby needs to nurse. We are treating nursing as being unnatural and as something to hide.

    No, we’re treating publicly visible boobs as something to hide, out of recognition that the baby-food source also has a sexual aspect.

    Who cares if it’s obvious you’re nursing, so long as you’re not making a production of it?

  • First off, I was never breast fed because I was adopted at birth. As I understand it, it is possible to milk the breasts and store the milk in bottles for later use. Perhaps these can be used out in public and the actual breast feeding can be done in the privacy of one’s home. Also Michelle Duggar as successfully breast fed in public using a very special covering–not sure what’s it’s called or who makes them but I’m sure there is a way to find out.

  • “No, we’re treating publicly visible boobs as something to hide, out of recognition that the baby-food source also has a sexual aspect.”

    As Valentin pointed out, breasts having a “sexual aspect” is a (mostly uptight American) cultural thing and maybe it’s time to change that conotation by educating the misinformed public as to what breasts purposes are.

    “Who cares if it’s obvious you’re nursing, so long as you’re not making a production of it?”
    Exactly! So why would one leave the room or put on a “knocker blocker” when one can simply nurse discreetly.

    Iroy: Not all mothers can pump. I was one of them. Do you eat solely in the privacy of your own home?

  • “As I understand it, it is possible to milk the breasts and store the milk in bottles for later use. Perhaps these can be used out in public and the actual breast feeding can be done in the privacy of one’s home. Also Michelle Duggar as successfully breast fed in public using a very special covering.”

    I don’t want to be critical of this viewpoint but maybe I can offer something to help you understand. More and more, I’ve come to think more education is needed when it comes to breastfeeding (I see nothing wrong with that word. Breastfeeding, nursing, feeding — I often tell someone I’m feeding my baby). I think society needs to be more supportive and accepting of breastfeeding moms, especially those with little babies but, yes, todlers too, and I think we need more education for that.

    Specifically in regards to using bottles, yes, you can pump milk and store it in bottles, but I feel no woman should think she needs to pump and feed from a bottle when she is in public. First of all, some babies do not like bottles. I may not have tried much with my kids, especially my second, but I’ve even heard stories of babies who won’t take a bottle despite strong efforts. A mom shouldn’t have to force her baby to eat from a bottle when that baby wants to actually nurse. It’s different to take a bottle vs. to nurse. Second, a nursing baby is in control over how much he or she eats. The baby can nurse until done. With a bottle, either you have too much or not enough and it’s very easy to overfeed a baby with a bottle as they might just keep eatting even when full. Third, breastfeeding follows a rule of supply and demand. A mom’s body learns to make milk depending on how much the baby eats. If a mom has to use bottles when out in public, she’s kind of missing a feeding and possibly messing with her supply. Of course, to get milk for a bottle, she has to pump and that helps with supply, too, so maybe a moot point, but I kind of think there’s a difference. Not to say a woman can’t pump and feed baby a bottle when she’s not around, of course that’s great, but all the time when’s she’s out can’t be good. I’m sure some women do it because they feel more comfortable or think they need to because of what people will think, or it’s easier, but I just think that is sad.

    Nursing covers, that’s been mentioned a little. My first hated it. He’d scream and draw even more attention to us. And it is hard to see what you’re doing. I also think it’s a big sign that says hey, look at us over here. I’ve never bothered with my second.

    That being said, I also try to go someplace where we can be alone if possible. Sometimes I don’t like that because yes, it takes you away from the social gathering. Sometimes I like it because it’s nice to get away and have some quiet relaxing time. But I only do that because I have a very distracted nurser. I thought my first had some distraction problems, but I still could discreetly nurse him in church, on a park bench, at a restaurant, for the most part that I remember. It’s more of a scary thought with my second. We manage OK when we have to at playdates and I might try somewhere in public. Recently I fed him in the bathroom of a ballpark and I felt kind of uncomfortable there but was trying to be comfortable. I wish I could have been more comfortable to feed him in the stands because the bathroom also is not an ideal place, so super loud with all the flushing and water running and people coming and going. Like someone else said, I hope it is a practice thing and I’ll get better at it, too. I try my best to be discreet and I worry about it, but it’s what I have to do. It’s best for my baby. It’s best for me. I want to be respectful of people, but people also should not be so judgemental either. I’ve learned a lot through my experiences and I’ve done things differently that I thought I would (nurse an 18 month old? What? How wierd. I don’t think that now.) I’m in a rush to finish this up as my kids are up now but I hope I got some of my point across clearly.

  • As Valentin pointed out, breasts having a “sexual aspect” is a (mostly uptight American) cultural thing and maybe it’s time to change that conotation by educating the misinformed public as to what breasts purposes are.

    Yeah, because that is an incredibly polite reaction– wonderfully caring, and I’m generally swayed to a different way of thinking by people deliberately taking actions that are offensive to myself and the population at large. Including, for bonus points, those who DO support reasonable, polite breast feeding.

    FYI, turning feeding your kid into “educating” those “uptight” people who notice that breasts are sexual (I am not going to believe a random comment’s claim over what I already know) is making a production of it. Never mind if aspiring to become Europe in our social-sexual expectations is desirable.

    Michelle –
    neither of my girls like nursing covers, and it’s a booger to find one that would fit me, anyways. If there’s a nursing room, I’ll use that– just avoids distractions for the baby and discomfort for the adults, plus corrals the older kids. A blanket, though, can block line-of-sight if you can find a quiet corner, and a loose T-shirt does the rest. If there’s room, a stroller can strategically block sight, too.

    Iroy- besides the other problems, including how do you warm it up, some women’s milk doesn’t store well.

    There are a lot of tactics that you can use to make feeding your baby easy on everyone; some will work well for this woman but not for that, and even between kids it changes. There’s give and take involved, just like in any other human interaction.

  • I like the mother in the picture you put up. She has beautiful, long, red hair. 🙂 Her child takes after her too.

  • I nursed three kiddos, each til they were two years old. I’ve nursed in every conceivable setting and circumstance, and I never once had any trouble from the folks around me. If you don’t make a big deal out of it, and you use discretion when baby is latching on, and you keep yourself from being exposed, there’s no reason a woman should be made to leave the room or the plane or the restaurant or the office or the bus or the theater or church or wherever!

    As to this: [2] No one posts pictures of changing poopy diapers.

    I have to disagree with the analogy. No one posts pictures of adults using the restroom either (that would be unthinkable!), but we happily take pictures of each other at mealtime and share them publicly. Eating is a great part of the human experience and a great way of bonding with friends and family. There is nothing shameful about a baby eating the way babies were designed to eat. It should not be treated like something to be embarrassed by. It’s not the same thing as a diaper change.

  • Christopher Michael says:
    Thursday, June 7, 2012 A.D. at 5:38pm
    I like the mother in the picture you put up. She has beautiful, long, red hair. Her child takes after her too.
    ..but she and her child do not have rational, immortal souls

  • Marg there is a difference between feeding your child during the mass and on the park bench. Further more not as many people consider breasts as private parts in Brasil where Men think of them as baby feeders not play things like certain cads would.

  • Foxfier I was just pointing out much it it seems so babyish for men to yearn for breasts in the US. Further more sexual and erotic are two distinct things a boy feeding from his mothers breast is doing something sexual but not erotic. Sexual has to do with the difference between Men and Women and Boys and Girls. Erotic has to do with love for somebody you might become one with or are one with in the circumstance of marriage.

  • Marriage and procreation seem pretty important in more than just a private way considering that someone is going to enter into society, your wife will enter your family and your parents will become grandparents.

  • Foxfier if someone is raised in a large family they generally are not afraid around large groups people especially when feeding from their mother.

  • Foxfier I agree that it is rude for someone to say that the US is uptight especially since I know that quite a bit of both women slightly lesser men in the USA are both perfectly chaste and lighthearted about such a topic.

  • I’m with Foxfier: you city folk are way too uptight. When I want to nurse li’l Baby Darryl Lee, I just untie my checked cotton halter top and let him go to town, no matter where we are – cornfield, barn, kitchen, Grandma’s house, the general store, or even on our twice a year trip to the big city.

    On our last trip, Darryl Lee was hungry while we were riding on that there subway train. There I was, big as life, top open, feeding him, didn’t give a hoot, and the lady across the aisle kept giving me funny looks. Finally I said to her, “what’s the matter, lady? Hain’t you never seen a Momma nursing her baby afore?”

    You know what she said to me? “Sure, lady. Just not while she’s spittin’ chawin’ terbacky!”

    Does she expect me to throw away a perfectly good plug just because my baby wants his lunch?

    I bet she expects me to try to hide what I’m doing from folks, too. “Dis-crete”, they call it. Discrete, heck. I can’t be bothered! These city folk are uptight, uptight, uptight! What’s good enough for the hogs back home to see, is good enough for them, the way I figger it!

  • Valentin-
    the very laws of Brazil suggest that they are, indeed, recognized as sexual. (I know various parts of Europe also recognize the female chest as sexual, but somehow that never matters when talking about “Europe” as a collective. The UK is most famous for it.)

    A baby nursing is not “sexual” in the normal course of things, and “sexual” encompasses “erotic” as well as simple sex differences. (I’m not linking dictionary.com for all of those, folks are capable of looking it up themselves.)

    Frankly, none of the insults offered do anything to excuse disregarding basic manners in regard to either men who struggle with temptation when faced with a woman’s naked chest, nor to people in general who are uncomfortable with acultural nudity.

  • Yes, categorizing Americans on a whole as uptight is wrong. My sincere apologies.
    I do believe, however, that those who are offended by a mother feeding her baby are certainly uptight.
    How do we expect breastfeeding to be the acceptable norm when women and men have never seen a mother feeding her baby. It’s a sad situation that breastfeeding is so taboo, that often, the first time a woman experiences breastfeeding is when she attempts at nursing her own baby. And we wonder why only 25% of US babies are breastfed at 6 months. http://kellymom.com/fun/trivia/bf-numbers/
    Right on, take this as another random comment. I’ll do the same.

  • I do believe, however, that those who are offended by a mother feeding her baby are certainly uptight.

    That’s not what offends most people– it’s flipping out a part of the body that is covered in polite society to do so, especially when it’s not needed. Accusing people of being against feeding a baby when they’re objecting to the things done in the process is flatly dishonest.

    I don’t wonder why not everyone nurses their babies past 6 months– besides lifestyle angles such as mom going back to work, look at the history. A dear friend discussed it with me and mentioned that doctors had scolded her and ordered her to use formula, because that was better for the baby. Her kids now have teenage kids, so it’s probable that those who are a bit older had mothers in a similar situation.

    Breastfeeding is not taboo, no matter how much modern martyers-in-their-own-minds want it to be. Women like that idiot in Target that staged a “nurse-in” because she was “harassed”– when the Target employees first offered her a more comfortable place to nurse than setting on the floor, and when she told them to just ignore what she was doing, treated her exactly like every other customer and asked if she needed anything every few minutes. That is their policy for all “guests.”

  • Uptight.

    Well, I’m uptight I guess. I don’t want to see strangers with significant dandruff brushing it away, or talking about it. I don’t want to hear about a stranger’s dandruff shampoo and how well it works. I find the sight of strangers brushing their hair, running their fingers through their hair in public – repellent (beyond a quick touch-up) I don’t want to see a close-up of a strangers’ eye infections or hear about treatment of or symptoms of eye infections, or eye surgery. I don’t want to see people putting on make-up or curling their eyelashes or tweezing their eyebrows. I’ve sat next to someone who was endlessly picking at tiny, barely visible pimples on her arms, and I had to get up and move. It was gross. I don’t want to see or hear about bad teeth. I don’t want to see or hear about peoples’ gum infections or gum surgery. That’s gross.

    Overhearing strangers’ public discussions of waxing or shaving is distasteful. As soon as the words “bikini area” or “pubic” are mentioned, I am out of there. Observing strangers publicly demonstrating how many inches of flab they may pinch – under the upper arm, or at the love-handle area is disgusting.

    Seeing strangers clip their nails in public is unpleasant – if more than just a quick snip snip to repair a break. Less so, but also unpleasant is the sight of public nail filing. I’ve heard of strangers clipping and filing their toenails in the subway that serves the area where I live. Stomach-churning . . . as is public scratching, public nose picking, tooth-picking, flossing (other than an extremely quick and discrete touch-up in an emergency)

    I don’t want to see PDAs. I don’t want to see or hear about strangers’ sex lives in public. I find the sight of couples making out on the subway excruciating. Get a room! An adult religion teacher was once sharing with his 10th grade students the Church’s teachings on what is and is not acceptable for a dating couple to indulge in, and he shared with the class the details of some of his own early forays into romantic experimentation when he was their age. Almost in unison, the class screamed: “ Eeewwwww-wwww-wwww! T-M-I!”

    T.M.I. Too much information. I don’t want to hear the details about your gastric bypass surgery, your facelift, your pelvic infection, your psoriasis, your strep throat, your gallbladder surgery. It’s OK to mention them, but to present the gory details that, as the kids say, is: “Eww-www!”

    I don’t mind being around people who eat politely, small bites, chew with their mouths closed, wipe their mouth when needed. I can’t stand to be around anyone chewing with their mouth open, spitting food back onto their plate, stuffing their mouths, having clumps of food smeared on their lips and chins, seeing particles clinging to mustache or beard hairs (excuse me, I think I just made myself nauseous.)

    A nursing Mom who retreats to a quiet corner (still out in public, though is fine) and stays covered while baby nurses is being a good Mom and also a considerate member of society.

Question: If they trust women, why don’t they trust mothers?

Wednesday, May 30, AD 2012

SHOCKER: Teens need their mothers. Mothers can help their daughters. Even in crisis.

There’s an article forthcoming in the journal Economic Inquiry by Professors of Economics, Joseph Sabia and Daniel Rees, that shows parental notification or consent laws are associated with a 15 to 25 percent reduction in suicides committed by 15- through 17-year-old women. The researchers analyzed National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health data collected from 1987 to 2003 and found results that are consistent with the hypothesis that laws requiring parental involvement increase the “expected cost of having unprotected sex,” and, consequently, protect the well-being of young females. (Hey, they’re economists.)

Here’s the reasoning, taken from this paper by the same authors.

  • Researchers have already found, using state-level data from 1981 through 1998, that parental involvement laws reduced teen gonorrhea rates 12 to 20 percent among teen females. (Klick and Strattman, 2008)
  • Other recent studies provide evidence that female adolescents who become sexually active at an early age are more likely to suffer from the symptoms of depression. (Hallfors et al. 2004; Sabia and Rees 2008)
  • Research has shown that multiple sex partners increased the likelihood of substance abuse. (Howard et al. 2004)
  • It is also been found that adolescent females who had multiple sex partners were 10 times more likely to develop the symptoms of major depression than those who remained abstinent. (Hallfors et al. 2005)
  • There was no evidence of a similar relationship between male multiple partners and adolescent depression. (Hallfors et al. 2005)

So the hypothesis is: If parental involvement laws discourage minors from risky lifestyles that affect their physical health, then they would promote emotional health of teenage females as well. Analyzing suicide rates will give an indication since there have been many studies that link depression and suicide. The national suicide data was analyzed and that’s exactly what they found – a supporting correlation. Parental involvement laws correlate with fewer suicides. Further in support, there was no evidence of a similar relationship among male adolescents, and no correlation between parental involvement laws and suicide for older women because, well, neither group would be affected by those laws.

Makes sense, right? You’re probably thinking, “Did we need to pass those laws, wait and see what happened, and then count suicides?” No, we didn’t, and there’d be at least some justice if the people opposing those laws would take notice.

You’d think someone who really cares about women would be able to take an objective view of this data and consider it as an appeal to our collective conscience. You’d think someone who parrots, “Trust Women!” would be consistent enough to also trust mothers who are raising teens. When the state comes between teens and their parents, it just follows that the adolescents will not be as close to their parents as they ought to be.

This only affirms what we already know. Parents of teen girls can be trusted – should be trusted for the psychological benefit of a daughter in crisis. The abortion advocate community doesn’t seem as concerned about young women, though, as they are about politics and agendas. They instead say that people just want to make it harder for teens to have abortions, and that teens have a “fear of abuse” from unrelenting parents. Oh, and they’ll say something about how correlation doesn’t equal causation, revealing that they either are ignorant of analytical methods or, even worse, knowledgeable of them but dishonest when the results don’t fit their predetermined conclusions. Some will even say that teen women should be trusted to make their own decisions even when the decision for these desperate young women is to end their own lives. Of course, we all know why Planned Parenthood doesn’t want the parents involved. Ac$e$$ to abortion.

So I have a little hypothesis of my own. I predict (but would love to be proven wrong) that not a single abortion advocate will come forward and honestly reassess parental consent laws even though there is no body of data to support their premise. Could they admit that maybe, just maybe, the default condition is not that most parents of teens are abusive. Imagine!

If they trust women, why can’t they trust mothers and fathers? Where does this automatic distrust of parents come from anyway? Perhaps there’s a cost associated with believing that a mother has the right to kill her own child in the womb, and that cost is faith in people to love their children unconditionally at any point in life, even during difficult times.

H/T:  Michael J. New at National Review

Image: Microsoft Powerpoint

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5 Responses to Question: If they trust women, why don’t they trust mothers?

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  • Informed sexual consent, legal maturity, begins at emancipation, like voting, driving a car and signing any kind of contract. All persons’ unalienable, endowed civil rights are held in trust for them by God, by their parents and finally by the state, in this order. A minor person becomes a ward of the court if their parents neglect or abuse their civil, unalienable rights. The court acts “in loco parentis” in the best interest of the child. A minor child, without legal informed sexual consent to give becomes pregnant. Because of her pregnancy, the court declares that the legally minor, un-emancipated pregnant child to be emancipated by the very proof that the child is a minor and incapable of making legal decisions for herself, or of giving informed sexual consent, or valid consent to any surgical operation. The court overrides any parental notification by legally kidnapping a minor child by making the minor, pregnant child a ward of the court by declaring the child emancipated by the fact of her pregnancy without proper notification of the child’s parents, who have a naturally vested legal interest in the child. The court does this to a child who may be pregnant and does so to abort the child’s parents’ grandchild.
    Overriding naturally vested parental rights entrusted to parents innocent of any proved wrongdoing is contrary to American jurisprudence and constitutes legal kidnapping by the state, false imprisonment and restraint.

  • A great post.

    “Where does this automatic distrust of parents come from anyway?”

    I think maybe distrust of parents comes along with the strengthening of the “youth culture”. Maybe some of it comes from whole gnerations going to public schools and getting together with their peer posses. When they were educated at home things were a bit different and maybe mom and dad ‘s opinion had a stronger influence.

    Charles is in charge. Two year olds are in charge.
    The two First Children of the POTUS are in charge. What do you decide about gay marriage girls? Ok.

    Children are a target market; recognized at economic deciders in families. TV and movies are more and more juvenile because that is who the customers are.

  • To be fair, there are some appalling parents out there, and many girls who have abortions got into trouble in the first place because they didn’t have trustworthy parents. But.

    But for the pure and simple public health and safety of minors, parental consent needs to be secured for any kind of serious medical event, much less for abortion. If I were pro-choice, I’d want parents to at least have as much control over abortion as over teeth cleaning.

  • I think parents who prove that they can be trusted have children who trust them. I’ve seen people with open and loving relationships and it comes from parents willing to listen instead of lecturing. If you want that kind of relationship with your child that they will come to you, you need to be the kind of person that someone would want to go to for advice. Anyone, not just your child. If you have proven yourself to be judgmental, you cannot blame a child for not going to you for advice, or with their problems. after all, would YOU go to a friend with your problems if you knew rather than listen to you they were going to force their values on you rather than take yours into account?

4 Responses to Forget Those Who Protest: Keep Watch on Jesus’ Disciples at Work in the World

  • I don’t recall having ever heard of MCI, but am grateful they exist. It was good of you to highlight their work and I couldn’t agree more about your assessment regarding the vociferous groups that do little to no good vs. those who quietly and humbly walk the walk everyday.

  • “Listening to the protesters who are getting their “face time” on television, one might walk away with the mistaken impression that there’s absolutely nothing the Church has to say about anything that is of any worth for today’s world.”

    Disgusting isn’t it? I’ve come to really despise the media.

    Nice post…btw.

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  • Thank God for what you are doing. We pray for more blessing

A Moving Moment Outside The World's Largest Abortion Mill

Tuesday, June 8, AD 2010

An inspiring scene of Ramon refusing to cater for the new super abortion mill in Houston.

To help eliminate the world’s largest abortion mill in Houston contact the following groups:

Life Advocates of Houston

Texas Right to Life

Houston Coalition for Life

Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.

— Holy Gospel of Saint Luke 23:34 cf.

Ora pro nobis!

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3 Responses to A Moving Moment Outside The World's Largest Abortion Mill

  • Ramon, You are my hero! Thank God for a man like you who will stand up for his beliefs and who is so willing to share his heart for the unborn with others!

  • Great Ramon – you are my hero. I posted this on my blog. Ramon knows what many do not – that Planned Parenthood kills babies. They also target minorities with EUGENICS. Check out – Maafa21 for stunning documentation of this fact: http://www.maafa21.com

  • Ramon God will bless you tremendously for standing up for unborn babies and trusting in Him.

Tim Tebow Pro-life Superbowl Ad

Sunday, February 7, AD 2010

Hattip to commenter restrainedradical.  One of the two Tebow pro-life Superbowl ads has leaked.  I can see why the pro-aborts fought tooth and nail to keep it off the air.  In tandem with the other Tebow pro-life SuperBowl ad,  it is devastating to them.  For background to the ads go here.  For the rest of the pro-life Tebow story, go to Focus on the Family here.

And here is the second ad:

Brilliant, absolutely brilliant.  The pro-aborts by their hysterical reaction made sure the Tebow story of how his Mom refused to abort him got broadcast over America for free.  Now these two anodyne ads featuring a loving Mom and son make the pro-aborts look like the intolerant bigots they truly are!

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12 Responses to Tim Tebow Pro-life Superbowl Ad

  • Why exactly is this prolife? This ad in isolation says nothing and probably will only confuse people. Is there another ad?

  • There is NOTHING particularly pro-life about these ads. We were scammed. They were NOT what they were represented by Focus on the Family to be. They were about promoting Tim Tebow and Focus on the Family and that was it. Nothing about choosing not to abort, nothing about choosing life.

    We were had.

  • The message is in the Focus on the Family tag: “Celebrate Family. Celebrate Life.”

    No wonder the pro-aborts want to censor this ad.

  • Zach and Bender the “ads” weren’t the message, they were just teasers to get you to go to the web site where the real message was conveyed in an interview. The link is at the end of the first paragraph above.

  • So what was demonstrated by this event in contemporary culture is that it takes precious little to send pro-aborts over the top in preserving abortion on demand. That their extreme views and actions can work against them in unforeseen ways. That Focus on the Family must have some serious monetary resources!

  • You’re right, the ads weren’t the message — Focus on the Family’s misrepresentation about the content of the ads was the message, and FF’s manipulation of the pro-life community for it’s own purposes has now become the issue.

    I defended the ad because they said it was a pro-life ad. It wasn’t. It was a Tebow and FF ad. And I don’t particularly like being used to end up promoting Tebow and FF, rather than defending life as we all thought we were doing.

    Fraud and dishonesty are not the way to promote anything, especially the pro-life cause.

  • NOW is now condemning the ad for advocating violence against women. No, I’m not making this up:

    NOW president Terry O’Neill said it glorified violence against women. “I am blown away at the celebration of the violence against women in it,” she said.

    Source.

  • Let’s not overrect–as far as I know minimal information about the ad was given out beforehand by FF and much of the expected content was inferred by the opposition based on what was already known about the principals. While I wouln’t put it past Focus on the Family to engage in a little pro-abort leg-pulling, I’m hard pressed to discern a concerted effort to exploit pro-lifers. I believe most defenders of the ad acted spontaneously out of respect for the Tebows’ right to tell their stoy and weren’t goaded to it by FF. Anyway, FF succeeded magnificently. Weeks before the ad was aired, large numbers of people who had never before heard the story were suddenly aware of Tebow’s birth story. The ad itself was the most innocuous of teasers, exposing those pro-aborts who objected the loudest as the bigots they are. And the weblink at the end of the ad enabled anybody who hadn’t yet heard the Tebow family’s story to do so, if they wished. FF got its money’s worth several times over out of that thirty-second spot, and they did it in such a way that no reasonable opponent of their viewpoint could have protested.

  • Excuse me, that would be “overreact.”

  • “Violence against women?” Someone needs to tell that pro-abortion pseudofeminist that abortion is violence against women.

  • I’m just sayin’, there was nothing pro-life about these ads. Superbowl viewers were exposed to nothing pro-life. I don’t care about getting scammed (which I don’t think we did), I’m simply disappointed that nothing pro-life was said.

  • Preccisely, Zach. At the end of the day, there didn’t have to be anything pro-life about the ads. The pro-life part of the ads was all off-camera.

The Baby and the Quarterback

Wednesday, January 27, AD 2010

My ignorance of sports is vast.  However, I believe I now have a favorite quarterback.  Focus on the Family has paid for a 30 second ad during the Super Bowl featuring former University of Florida Quarterback Tim Tebow and his mother Pam.  When Pam was pregnant with Tim she contracted amoebic dysentery.  Harsh antibiotics were administered to her to rouse her from a coma.  She was counseled to have an abortion, being warned that her baby would be stillborn or live only a few hours.  She refused to have an abortion and Tim Tebow came into the world.

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6 Responses to The Baby and the Quarterback

  • Excellent point made about the hypocrisy of the “pro-choice” protests of the Tebow commercial. Meanwhile Obama’s war against the unborn continues with his re-nomination of Dawn Johnsen to run the Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Dept. Check out link at American Thinker.
    http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2010/01/obama_gives_proabortion_antica.html

  • Before you favor him too much, read about his father’s missionary work to convert the pagan (Catholic) Filipinos. That said, her certainly does deserve praise for the unjustly criticized advertisement.

  • I sincerely hope that this ad would bring hope and healing to women and not the type of condemnation and ridicule that so many have cynically come to expect. That would be the kind of thing that could truly bring people together instead of politicizing this issue and dividing us further. Anything less would be a disappointment.

  • I disagree w/ you, Donald, on the notion that his monetary value will go down because of this ad. I think he may lose one or two potential endorsements in the future, but then again, he wouldn’t want to advertise for any product whose makers support abortion or similar issues. Moreover, I think it’s likely he may just become better known because of this ad, and in a good way, attracting more attention to any team he plays for or product he endorses. Then again, it’s football, and this whole flap may have absolutely zero effect on Tebow’s pocketbook either way.

    At the very least, airing the ad during the SuperBowl, the most watched American TV event every year, will at least raise awareness of the issue and spur discussions among friends and families.

    The pro-abortion groups and supporters are on the ropes in American society and they know it, so they continue to blubber and scream that CBS should censor this ad. Culture War Notes has up a video clip from MSNBC yesterday of the presidents of NOW and a pro-life organization debating the issue. It was extremely telling to me to watch the faces of the two women as they debated–the NOW president appeared to be so obviously angry, bitter, and unpleasant that she eventually realized that wouldn’t play well on camera. She tried to force a smile, but it looked like her face just wouldn’t allow her to smile. Tells us a lot about pro-abortion beliefs and proponents, doesn’t it?

    I’m a Florida alum, and Tebow is not only the finest college football player ever to play the game (OK, I’m biased, but just ask Bobby Bowden and Tony Dungy!), but more importantly, he’s a hero and awesome role model to millions of people for his beliefs and his life, as well as his talent. Even his football rivals praise him to the skies after they get to know him personally. GO GATORS!

  • I’ll give you that he is a better role model, but he is not a better college player than inVINCEable Young was.

    I’m glad he is doing the commercial – I don’t think it will affect him much financially one way or the other. The Ben & Jerry’s crowd isn’t brimming with sports fans.

  • Oh c matt, and here I was beginning to trust your judgment w/ your good taste in BBQ, then you have to go and compare Tebow and Young! Young was one of the greats, no doubt about it (and I don’t particularly like the Horns, despite living here in TX now, although I would have loved to have seen the Gators play them last January instead of overrated Oklahoma for the nat’l championship!), but Young would rank perhaps in the top 5 or 6 players of all time at the college level. In terms of leadership, heart for the game, and even overall physicality, I have to give the edge to Tebow here, and by a comfortable margin.

    Alas, not everything that comes out of Houston is logical, including c matt’s football preferences! ;-p

Planned Parenthood Director Resigns After Viewing Ultrasound Abortion

Monday, November 2, AD 2009

Just received breaking news from Katerina Ivanovna, M.J. Andrew, and an email from Coalition for Life concerning a major defection from Planned Parenthood to the Culture of Life movement.

Abby Johnson worked at Planned Parenthood abortion mill in Bryan, Texas for eight years, the last two as its director.  After viewing an ultrasound of an abortion she had a spiritual conversion.  Last month she submitted her resignation to the abortion mill and like clockwork Planned Parenthood has placed a restraining order on her and the local chapter of Coalition for Life, where she had been spending more and more time at.

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16 Responses to Planned Parenthood Director Resigns After Viewing Ultrasound Abortion

  • People who blindly love PP never realize (or if they even do acknowledge it — even if silently, they play the blind fool) the kind of malicious activities it is actually involved with.

    The murdering of innocent children rarely even enters their minds, and should it invade their thoughts; they avail themselves such euphemisms in order to tidy up the dirt in their consciences (e.g., the “Pro-Choice” stance on behalf of women everywhere).

    That’s what happens when all you have is PP for brains.

  • I’ve heard that one of them even refers to the innocent unborn children as an “un-dividual”.

  • Interesting how PP seeks to market abortion. They are all about driving up their market share of the blood money produced by the abortion industry.

  • Of course —

    Think about it: their commission is based on how many children they murder.

    Besides, imagine the good they’re doing not only for women everywhere, but also for the whole of humanity?

    Overpopulation would undoubtedly result if we allowed these repulsive things (otherwise infamously known as “children”) to exist in the first place!

  • So much for “pro-choice.” They don’t want mothers to choose life, it cuts into their market share.

    Thank God Abby Johnson has seen the light. She will be a powerful witness.

    BTW, Obama admin: what Abby Johnson now is doing is really “speaking truth to power.” Power doesn’t like it too much.

  • Where has the intellect of this woman been for all her years? While this is good to hear it is pathetic, to put it mildly.

    I am glad, however, for her change of heart and wish her peace as she comes to terms with her previous life.

  • Karl, well, look at all the abortions Bernard Nathanson performed before he came to his senses. The man aborted his own child, God help us, and yet he woke up, made “The Silent Scream” and eventually was received into the Church.

    I always thought that if he could repent and change his life there is hope for the worst among us.

  • Not to mention “Jane Roe” herself, Norma McCorvey, another famous convert to the pro-life cause and the Catholic faith as well. Another example of “if they can be converted anyone can.”

  • Karl, the exact same thing could be said about St. Paul (substituting “man” for “woman” of course).

  • Is my impression false that the first thing that “liberal” organizations [Planned Unparenthood, ACORN, ACLU] do when confronted about their activities is to reach for a lawsuit?

    No honest discussion, no back and forth – just sue. It puts me in mind of Our Lord’s strictures on lawyers.

  • Well, after reviewing the TRO and related pleadings, apparently PP is pissed of that Ms. Johnson allegedly copied several files (employment, I am assuming) and allegedly shared info w/ Coalition on who works at the facility. Her employment contract did have confidentiality provisions. I hope she did not do anything she will regret.

  • Technically, Texas A&M is located in College Station, Tx. Bryan is about 7 miles away.

  • Actually, the two cities border each other. The distance between downtown districts may be 7 miles.

  • When talking megalopolises like College Station and Bryan, I don’t count their ‘burbs.

  • Spent 6 years out there… ‘burbs are nonexistent. 🙂

  • A special thanks to Abby Johnson, the ex-director of the Bryan Texas Planned Parenthood office on 29th Street:

    Abby Johnson now encourages thinking and loving individuals to place a special value on others who are (also humans made in the image of God) and in the same stage of development that “They were”!

    The thoughts that dance in the mind of humans, is conceived in their heart and hinges on the pivotal question that ushers in the undeserved “Death penalty” for the unborn; or the joyous excitement, anticipating the soon coming birth of a child.

    The question that answers the complex motive for a person’s actions after conception is “Is the pregnancy and baby wanted or rejected by one or both parents (or families) of the child”?!!!

    And if most women-with-child was loved by the child’s father,
    she would smile and happily say “No abortion” why bother.

    Ask God and the person you mated with to forgive you,
    forgive yourself and live the abundant life.

    Sincerely ProBaby,

    Arthur Trafford

Magnificent

Monday, October 26, AD 2009

The song is called Magnificent by the musical group U2.  It was a minor hit in both the United Kingdom and the United States in A.D. 2009 (and a major hit in Greece).

Some entrepreneurial YouTuber recreated the music video and turned it into a pretty decent contemporary ‘Christian’ music video.  The music video now celebrates the Triune God, the Eucharist, of course the love of God all coupled within a strong Pro-Life message.  There’s even a guest appearance of His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI!

(Biretta Tip: Meg)

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8 Responses to Magnificent

  • Thanks Tito, that was awesome.

    I suspect a couple of scenes from Godzone.

    The budding tree fern – known as pikopiko – from which the ensignia, the koru, is designed – the ensignia on Air New Zealand aircraft, amonst other things.
    And secondly, the huge tree. I think it is a photo of our two thousand year old kauri tree – known to the maori as Tanemahuta – the “god” – or old man , of the forest, situated in the Waiapu forest in Northland, NZ. This tree was just a seedling when Christ was born.
    Thanks.

  • Don the Kiwi,

    Thanks for explaining some of those scenes from the music video.

    You live in a beautiful country.

    By the way the name of the Waiapu forest is very similar to Hawaiian. Are Maori of Polynesian descent? I grew up in Hawaii and I recognize the word structure of many of the Maori words and they are strikingly similar to Hawaiian!

  • Isn’t Bono, U2’s lead singer, Catholic?

    I have caught him several times wearing a rosary around his neck during a concert or other public performance.

  • Hi Tito.

    Yes, Maori are Polynesian. They call themselves “Te Maori” which simply means “the people”.
    Go to Wikipedia or google, insert “Polynesian Triangle”. This is a vast area of the Pacific, drawing lines from NZ in the Sth. west, to Hawaii in the North, and Easter Island in the Sth.East. Maori populated all these islands, and those in between – Tonga, Saomoa,Cook Is., Tahiti etc. They were amazing navigators. NZ was settled by maori from around the 8th century AD, in large ocean going canoes – two lashed together forming catamarans – the bulk of them arrived in 12th and 13th centuries.
    e.g. the Takatimu canoe – or “waka” the maori word – which landed here at Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty, left Takatimu beach on the island of Rarotonga in the Cook Islands, probably in the 12th.century. A young maori guy who worked for me, his tribe have in their verbal history the canoe leaving Takatimu beach. About ten years ago he went over to Rarotonga – the people there (who also call themselves “Te Maori”) recounted virtually the same story in their verbal history. He met all his relatives. Maori have a strong family association – they know their family history – or “whakapapa” – very well ; the old ones teach it to the young ones still. Maori culture is very strong and has undergone a revival over the past 50 years, to the extent that now, we use the maori language in some of our prayers at Mass – especially the Sign of the Cross.
    I was in Hawaii in 2002 – spent a week on Oahu, mainly in Honolulu. I also noticed the similarity in the languages. Its interesting, that before Europeans “discovered” the Pacific, a maori from NZ could have gone to Tahiti (whence Hawaii was populated) or Hawaii, and would have been understood. (provided they didn’t eat him first 😉

  • Not sure about the accuracy, but I read somewhere this summer that “Magnificent” is based on the Magnificat…sure can make the heart swell the same way!

  • I was wondering if it was a play on words done by the songwriter regarding Magnificat and Magnificent.

  • It was a minor hit in both the United Kingdom and the United States in A.D. 2009 (and a major hit in Greece).

    Your tone here suggests that you are now approaching blogging as a sort of time capsule, speaking to aliens from the future. Why?

  • Michael,

    Illegal or legal aliens?

Dad and Daughter and Baseball

Wednesday, September 16, AD 2009

MLB lawyers were able to track down and depublish the YouTube video in order to protect the interests of their corporate masters.

No worries, I found another video link which shows the little dad and daughter moment.  Click here.

Saw this late last night and I wanted to share this with our American Catholic readers.

A very touching moment when the little girl throws away the baseball and gets startled by the gasp of the fans.  She quickly turns to daddy and he’s there to give his little girl a big hug of support that it’s alright.

Hope you all can view this before Major League Baseball lawyers take down the YouTube video.

Very nice.

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Miracles

Saturday, June 13, AD 2009

The zeal for living that my 1 year old son exhibits inspires me. He wants to explore everywhere, he is so quick to find something hilarious, he loves craziness, and he cries with passion whenever he sees his sister crying. One word keeps coming to my mind when I just look at the faces of my kids- Miracle. They keep growing and changing, but this thought keeps coming at me- they weren’t even in existence just a few short years ago- but now I can’t imagine the universe without them. They started off life as something so tiny they couldn’t be seen without a microscope- now they are undeniably eternally significant forces of life and love.

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6 Responses to Miracles

  • “Forget the political and legal stuff for the moment, and just remember this- our children are not our enemy, they are our greatest gift”

    I definitely agree on this. In whatever circumstance having a child is the greatest gift from God. And in any manner abortion is anti life, anit God. I guess that is true in all religion.

  • Each child is God’s vote of confidence in the human race; each abortion is our way of telling God that His confidence is misplaced.

  • I worked for awhile at a middle school and I had never been around children. Even while working there, children didn’t effect me. And then, I went on to another job. But about 3-6 months after, it really hit me how sweet all these little people were though already above the grade school level.

    Again, hearing it on Relevant Radio, it was summed up well, the Miracle is often the birth and a new baby coming into the world, crying or however.

    Partial birth is also the birthing process and yet, that beautiful act, is perverted with the acts of the surgeons. It is just the opposite.

  • The proudest moment of my life is and always will be the day I gave birth to my daughter. I regret that I never got to have that experience again, but I thank God I had that privilege at all, since I have relatives and friends who wanted children and never got to have any.

    Tom brings to mind something else that has been on my mind lately. In Springfield school kids on field trips and families on vacation are everywhere, touring Lincoln sites, museums, and the Capitol. Large groups of middle school age kids come through the Capitol complex nearly every day during the “spring rush” season.

    When I see little kids climb up on the Lincoln statue in front of the Capitol to get their pictures taken, or chase each other around the oak trees on the lawn, or file into one of the elaborately decorated hearing rooms to listen to one of the tour guides, sometimes, maudlin though this sounds, I get moved to tears by it. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why until I read this post.

    I think it’s because everything is still new and wonderful to them, they haven’t been worn down by cynicism and scandal yet, and they don’t care about corruption, pay to play, reform, taxation, and all the other stuff that keeps us grownups tied up in knots. They just know that something really important goes on there, and that important people once walked these halls and these streets, and it’s a privilege to get to see it.

    We often say that elected officials should act more like grownups. I agree, yet in some ways, maybe they ought to act more like children. At the very least maybe they ought to give more weight to what those children will think of them 20 or 30 or 40 years from now, than what the voters will think of them next year.

  • Good to hear the comments- again more universal insights I am not surprised- sometimes we just have to set aside the politics and just let the spirit flow in a more poetic direction. I didn’t start writing this post to have anything to do with abortion, I only had the first paragraph in my mind, and then something got me going thinking of the absolute opposite of the reality I experience with my children- abortion is the opposite of everything I have discovered about the joy of life in being a papa. I don’t want anyone to be misled, I don’t want anyone to have the kind of regret that comes from learning the truth about abortion after the fact. Children don’t always come at the time we plan or even seek them- and it is a 24-7 job once they are here- but my God they are the best thing ever- I don’t care how much personal freedom and space I have lost. I can’t even begin to describe the spiritual blessings I have received in accepting and loving my kids- and this is no male-only view- my wife feels exactly the same way I do- we are on exactly the same page where the children are concerned- and this is maybe where couples get into trouble- when one understands the godliness associated with parenting, and the other remains aloof and misses out by not seeing or feeling the miracle- I can see how traumatic that could be in a marriage. If my wife didn’t “get” it, I think I would feel like we were strangers somehow. Thanks be to God for my fireproofed marriage, and I pray for all those who are struggling, those marriages and relationships being challenged instead of strengthened by the children created in these unions- May the grace of God be theirs.

  • Tim, if you gave a speech like this before any group of dedicated pro-life PAC’s, I can’t help but think you’d get their endorsement immediately! Your political troubles would be over! I’m moved to tears by it!

Tortured Credibility

Friday, May 22, AD 2009

It has become an oft repeated trope of Catholics who are on the left or the self-consciously-unclassifiable portions of the American political spectrum that the pro-life movement has suffered a catastrophic loss of credibility because of its association with the Republican Party, and thence with the Iraq War and the use of torture on Al Qaeda detainees. Until the pro-life movement distances itself from the Republican Party and all of the pro-life leadership who have defended the Iraq War and/or the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” on detainees, the argument goes, the pro-life movement will have no moral authority and will be the laughing stock of enlightened Catholics everywhere.

Regardless of what one thinks about the Iraq War and torture (myself, I continue to support the former but oppose the latter) I’m not sure that this claim works very well. Further, I think that those who make it often fail to recognize the extent to which it cuts both ways.

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42 Responses to Tortured Credibility

  • I don’t think being “pro-life” will lose credibility because the position is True, but “pro-lifers” who associate with other violations against human dignity might.

    Personally, I do not understand how a thoughtful Catholic can support the Iraq War. I’ve yet to really hear air tight moral justifications for it, and if memory serves the entire run up to the invasion reeked of jumping the gun while post 9/11 emotions still ran high. Not exactly conditions for sober decision-making.

    The decision was not only an act of aggression, it was unconstitutional and a strategic blunder. It put us on the road to bankruptcy and rather than secure our safety I believe it to be contributing to an environment for further violent conflict. The truth is, almost a decade out from 9/11 and we were given Saddam Hussein on a platter instead of Osama bin Laden.

    The fact of this occurring under a Republican administration is rather irrelevant. If party actually mattered the war funds would have been taken away by the Democratic congress at any time after 2006. Now, half a year into Obama’s tenure and the line on withdraw is “give us three years”.

    The fact that this messy war has tainted other Republican “values” is not surprising. Look at everyone suddenly crying out that capitalism has failed!

    I would expect that if Obama does not end the war in a satisfactory way by the next election, or if there is a new conflict in Pakistan or Africa… leftist values too will begin to be dragged down. Voters will become sick of everything he says, just like Bush. The anti-war left would likely be as deflated and the pro-life right.

    If you ask me its the insanity of tribalism at work. If you take the “us vs. them” two party system and combine it with the general ignorance… well what do you expect? And besides, its not as if people on the genuine left and the genuine right really make it into power, is it?

    The war was never about securing the American people. It was however, about securing the American federal government; it dominance and control. Thats something both center-left and center-right can agree on. Ironically, they are losing both bit by bit, British-style.

    To this day I believe that the path to regain power is within Republican hands: all they have to do is repudiate the war. Maybe change their name, too. 🙂

    As far as the pro-Life movement is concerned… I do indeed think it is in their best interest to grow beyond the party. I think they have to if they are looking to build majorities that can withstand the back-and-forth of American politics.

    Most libertarians seem to be pro-choice, which is mind-boggling. There’s room there to grow a little bit.

    Pro-lifers do not need a majority of Democrats on their side. Just enough to make the larger party think twice when it comes to abortion legislation. They have to consider which piper they are going to pay. If abortion were more often argued in terms of the civil rights movement, perhaps left-leaning politicians could be persuaded.

    I guess, Darwin, my broader point is – none of it matters. Its tit-for-tat politics and none of the influential players are interested in moral consistency, just majority-building. By defending the Republican alignment of values or that the pro-life movement is perfectly at home where it is, you’re playing into the hands of pollsters and politicians.

    Or, perhaps I made no sense, even to myself.

  • Personally, I do not understand how a thoughtful Catholic can support the Iraq War. I’ve yet to really hear air tight moral justifications for it, and if memory serves the entire run up to the invasion reeked of jumping the gun while post 9/11 emotions still ran high. Not exactly conditions for sober decision-making.

    Well, I think I can at least claim to have been sober, in that I’d supported forcibly removing Hussein from power ever since 1991. I considered it profoundly immoral for Bush Sr. to have called on the people of Iraq to rise up against their dictator, with the implicit promise that the US would support them, and then leave them to die in the hundreds of thousands instead. I would have supported an invasion at any time since then, and I considered it to be justified, given that Iraq had never satisfactorily obeyed the 1991 cease fire anyway. If Clinton had been willing to get rid of Hussein at any point during his term, I would have supported that.

    I do think that the WMD justification was poor at best. Yes, there was a general belief (even among Iraq’s military) that they had chemical weapons. But they were not a great threat to us. However, given that I’d been in support of deposing Hussein for over ten years already, I didn’t consider the punitive justification a major obstacle to what seemed long overdue already.

    But, I can certainly understand why other Catholics would believe differently.

    By defending the Republican alignment of values or that the pro-life movement is perfectly at home where it is, you’re playing into the hands of pollsters and politicians.

    I don’t know that I’m so much defending the status who as pointing out that it’s hardly surprising to anyone. There are parts of the GOP platform that I absolutely disagree with (I’d support open borders) but I don’t think anyone does himself any favor by getting all worked up over where the current alignments are. It’s ludicrous to claim that the pro-life movement has lost credibility as a result of being associated with the GOP in a way that immigration reform and opposition to the death penalty haven’t as a result of being associated with the Democrats. All are known to be highly partisan agendas with established bases of support, and pretending that’s news to anyone does not strike me as doing one credit. Even if one would appreciate realignment.

  • “It’s ludicrous to claim that the pro-life movement has lost credibility as a result of being associated with the GOP in a way that immigration reform and opposition to the death penalty haven’t as a result of being associated with the Democrats. ”

    I suppose it would depend on how you see credibility. The movement is philosophically credible by being moral and constitutionally correct. But politically I can see how some would say they’ve lost credibility in terms of their ability to win elections, win court cases and influence legislation. If a movement is going to cast its lot with one party, then its goals are inevitably tied to the success or failure of unrelated issues. Only the thick-headed would exclusively equate political success to intellectual legitimacy.

  • Anthony,

    If a movement is going to cast its lot with one party, then its goals are inevitably tied to the success or failure of unrelated issues

    the movement has no choice but to cast it’s lot with one party since the other party is diametrically opposed to it’s principles and has rejected it outright.

    You’re not proposing some ridiculous third-party option, are you?

    The suggestion that some sort of post facto repudiation of the Iraq war will make even the slightest difference in the next election is living in the past, open your eyes and look forward. Whatever the key issue of 2010 and 2012, it will not be Iraq 2003-2008.

  • The suggestion that some sort of post facto repudiation of the Iraq war will make even the slightest difference in the next election is living in the past, open your eyes and look forward. Whatever the key issue of 2010 and 2012, it will not be Iraq 2003-2008.

    This is due to american historical amnesia, of course.

  • Rather a reaction to the coming Obama Crash. Unless there is a major terrorist attack, and I wouldn’t rule that out, the economy will be the overriding issue in 2010 and 2012 and the signs are not good currently for Obamanomics.

  • Michael I,

    what Donald said. But also, the American people realize that right or wrong the Iraq invasion was a bipartisan decision that most of the people agreed with as well. Their disatisfaction was almost entirely due to the poor state of affairs until it was rectified by the surge which President Bush (R) ordered at the recommendation of General Petreus (R?), and the urging of Senator McCain (R), and the majority of the Republican party. The main thing people will think about with regard to Iraq will be that it was won by the Republicans before Obama took over, or that Obama snapped defeat from the jaws of victory, very unlikely since he kept on the Robert Gates(R) to ensure that it wouldn’t happen.

    Donald is exactly right, the issue of 2010 and 2012 will not be Iraq 2003-2008. If I had to predict, sadly, it will be economic malaise, inflation, crushing federal deficits, massive tax increases, and quite possibly devastating terrorist attacks or other security issues (Russia, Iran, North Korea, take your pick).

  • “the movement has no choice but to cast it’s lot with one party since the other party is diametrically opposed to it’s principles and has rejected it outright.”

    I think the point is not whether or not the choices, in the short-term, of what seemed best for the survival of the movement is correct. After Roe v. Wade, the Democrats became increasingly dominated by pro-choice politicians, supported by the abortion-minded groups, etc. The GOP was very welcoming.

    I think the point of the criticism (right or wrong) is that possibly unforeseen affects are what we’re experiencing now.

    I think he is saying that the pro-life movement by making itself dependent solely on the success of a single party has made its own success contingent on that party. If positions predominantly accepted by that party are, largely down-the-list, against one’s best judgments of what better achieves justice then despite their pro-life convictions, some will feel disenfranchised and/or uncomfortable or even alienated by the rest of pro-lifers, some, not all, of which give a blind stamp of approval to the platform because of the party’s stance on life issues.

    And because this issue has divided itself across party lines, it appears to be a partisan issue when it really should not be.

    I posted a link from a story in the Human Life Review a while back talking about trouble pro-life Democratic candidates had in receiving funds, despite their records, from pro-life groups; other problems included Republican candidates being endorsed over pro-life Democrats with untainted abortion records — though, as far as I know, this hasn’t happened so much on the federal, rather than, state level. It’s why people — rightly or wrongly — say that some pro-life groups might as well be Republican PACs.

    Another problematic case is the fact that pro-life Democrats are so “diaspora” and not collectively organized at the local levels that it makes it rather difficult, even for principled, pro-life Democrats to actually launch a campaign. They don’t have the resources, even for those who are unequivocally pro-life. Some settle and work in the trenches for pro-life groups or other justice causes. Others simply — and I imagine this happened during the Reagan years — became Republicans.

    As a result, it is very very difficult for the pro-life movement to enter the realm of the Left because fellow pro-lifers are suspicious, perhaps with valid reason, to suspect “double talk” or false pro-life credentials.

    However, this very reality, I think makes the pro-life movement a house divided against itself while the pro-choice movements is moving in lock-step and that’s the source of their temporal victories.

    Now, I’m sure no one is saying that a one-party pro-life party is the way to go to. Some are hesitant, I’m sure for valid reasons, that it is difficult, or even counter-productive, to support self-described “pro-life Democrats.” Perhaps they’re right.

    However, here are my criticisms — some valid, perhaps some not. Everyone will have to judge for themselves.

    When Reagan was the president, the pro-life movement gained quite a bit of ground. Yet, the Clinton Administration quickly turned the direction of abortion and bioethical policies the other way. The Bush Administration was eight years of undoing the damage done by the Clinton Administration and restoring and adding new pro-life policies. Now we’re in another reversal.

    This tit-for-tat can keep going, or the other party can be infiltrated from within. There has not been much ground on this made, necessarily, but the organization Republicans for Choice (http://www.republicansforchoice.com/) are all but invisible. After the election, I’ve read a many articles and seen many people claiming that it was the “values-sector” of the party driving out moderates with their alleged extremism and litmus tests. I’m not making their argument; I am simply stating their assertions. The GOP, as seen, has no problem recruiting pro-choice Republicans to run for office (more than likely in liberal districts) to win office. I suppose the thinking is that it’s better to have someone with you 90% of the time then 0%.

    This reality tried to manifest itself in the 2008 GOP presidential primaries. The pro-life movement responded forcefully — not for the best candidate in my view — but responded nonetheless. Yet, I cannot help but wonder: what if?

    What would happen if the GOP with its new RNC Chair, Mr. Steele, so committed to “inclusion” and diversity and non-application of litmus tests went in a different direction? What if, God forbid, at some point, the pro-life movement split between viable candidates and all pro-choice and socially moderate Republicans concerned with fiscal conservatism, not cultural values, line up behind a single, less-than-pro-life candidate?

    I think that’s the bind. What is a pro-life person to do in this situation? Surely, a hypothetical, cynical GOP strategist might ask: would they really go to the other party? If this did occur: what would you do? Some I imagine would put a protest vote and not vote at all. Others would vote for the GOP, take what they can, and work to change the case next time. But it would surely be a source of division and debate: a house divided against itself. It seems that if voting is a moral obligation, then, one can’t simply sit at home and let good pro-life Republicans lose their seats and more pro-choice seats be taken in Congress by the Democratic party. What about pro-life Governors? What about the Presidency? The latter of two who appoint judges (depending on the State) and can realistically set a judicial seat in the pro-choice camp for perhaps a generation. Right now, that’s the scare with Obama’s SC nominee coming. Surely it would be better — and on this no one disagrees — that power can exchange between the parties and there would be little concern over nominee’s abortion positions.

    It seems that the success of the pro-life movement rises and falls with the GOP. I think it’s problematic.

    I don’t think it’s nonsense per se to envision Republican strategists, pure pragmatists, to realize that abortion is a potent electoral tool and not so much a human rights issue. This isn’t to say that there are several candid and sincere pro-life Republicans serving in public office.

    In the last 40 years, there have been only 2 Democratic appointments to the Supreme Court. Reagan chose two nominees that ended up being pro-choice and so did Bush I. Seven of the nine Justices since Roe have been made by Republicans and the pro-life movement has not garnered the votes needed by the court in order to get a 5-4 majority.

    This goes back to the question of pro-life Democrats. I think many Democrats who are pro-life cannot garner the resources or support to make it to office. The Democratic party won’t fund pro-life candidates, but rather would search for pro-choice candidates — anyone — to run in opposition to such candidates in primaries. That’s the key. A pro-life Democrat might do fine in a general elections against a Republican. In recent decades, they usually win. But rather it is the Democratic primary is an incredible challenge because of a lack of resources to compete against their fellow party-members who are singling them out surely over abortion. The GOP doesn’t hesitate to fund it’s pro-choice candidates: primaries are fair game. Let the voters decide.

    The list of pro-life Democrats who had high political ambitions who realized this reality is growing. Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Jesse Jackson, Joe Biden, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry, Dennis Kucinich, and many more were all at one point pro-life.

    Now certainly there change of conviction is morally incorrect and a reflection of poor character and courage. Many of such candidates do so for political expediency; others remain “pro-life,” but compromise their position and “moderate themselves” to win some base votes that they otherwise cannot win office without. Some later become explicitly pro-choice; others try to uphold the pro-life facade. Surely, the cooperation in evil doesn’t justify such actions. However, I think the fact that this occurs reflects a support that is not there, not just for cowards who will compromise, but for those who genuinely will seek office and never win it because they aren’t willing to sell out their principles.

    Yet, it just makes me wonder, if a pro-life Democrat launched an exploratory committee to seek the presidency and actually made it onto the ballot for the Democratic primary, how many pro-life groups or pro-life Americans, might actually extend help in resources for such a candidate to survive the assaults of NARAL, Emily’s List, and Planned Parenthood which is without a doubt the most organized, financed political movement in the U.S.? I’m skeptical of the number of people who would cross over from the GOP and cast their vote to ensure the pro-life candidate wins. I’m sure they have their reasons for it as well.

    I’m not sure anything I’ve said is valid or just my jumbled, ramblings.

    Perhaps, my most controversial thought is this…

    I won’t say it is a double standard.

    I just will say I dislike the reality. It seems that to be authentically a pro-life Democrat you must support Republican candidates, even with the most strident conviction that these candidates will not work fervently, or even with passion, to curtail the horror of abortion — but are rather giving you lip service. Right or wrong, I believe this to be the case. Yet, if you vote for or support pro-life Democratic candidates, some, again, not all, will see this as a moral compromise and support for “pseudo-pro-life” candidates. To such candidates, much scrutiny is given; but this same critical eye is not extended to the pro-life politicians in the GOP; it seems to me, perhaps, I’m wrong, they get quite a bypass. Nor do such individuals see any sort of necessity in helping such candidates win and defeat pro-choice candidates in a party direly in need of pro-life presence.

    Pro-life Democrats can never achieve leaders seats on committees and roles of leadership if they aren’t greater in number to be a force not to be thrown around.

    So, at the end of the day, pro-life Democrats seem to have a responsibility to ensure that Republican candidates beat pro-choice Democrats; yet, the issue of pushing their party in a more pro-life direction, seems to be an issue that is sort of “their problem” — and I cannot see how this current reality doesn’t lend itself to helping the Republican party politically. It maintains its hold on a crucial voting bloc.

    So, not so surprisingly, I agree, at least, in part with critics that the pro-life movement in some respects behaves like a Republican PAC.

    As it so happens, two parties that are pro-life forces competition, competition produces results. It seems then that pro-life Democrats are a potent tool for pro-life success. Even from 2000 to 2006, not a piece of pro-life legislation could pass through Congress without the remaining pro-life Democrats to neutralize and overcome pro-choice Republican votes.

  • But also, the American people realize that right or wrong the Iraq invasion was a bipartisan decision that most of the people agreed with as well.

    Not true, and also irrelevant.

  • “the movement has no choice but to cast it’s lot with one party since the other party is diametrically opposed to it’s principles and has rejected it outright.

    You’re not proposing some ridiculous third-party option, are you?”

    No, I’m proposing that we patiently persuade… a lost art in the United States.

    There has to also be a way that makes the pro-life cause and Democratic political interests better partners. Recall that after 2004, some Democrats began to wonder aloud (perhaps not seriously, but still) of becoming more friendly to the pro-life side of things. I had hoped the “Blue Dog” Democrats might be a moderating force, but not so it seems..

    Though, a third party would always be welcome in my view, however unlikely. It will never happen until enough disillusioned but still caring individuals decided to organize and work to breakdown election rules.

    “The main thing people will think about with regard to Iraq will be that it was won by the Republicans before Obama took over”

    I don’t agree. I think people will see it as an expensive mess (fiscally and morally) by Republicans that had to be cleaned up with more expenses by Republicans.

    And in the not-to-distant future they will see that Obama is carrying on that proud tradition, just in a lefty, Oprah-y way with nice posters and logos. Whether they have the courage to see past it remains to be seen.

    “The suggestion that some sort of post facto repudiation of the Iraq war will make even the slightest difference in the next election is living in the past, open your eyes and look forward. Whatever the key issue of 2010 and 2012, it will not be Iraq 2003-2008.”

    You’re joking right? If they don’t repudiate it then why would those of us who can remember past last week believe them ever again? I used to be fairly Republican 8 years ago. I’ll never vote for either major party again unless there is fundamental changes in attitude. I don’t care how naive or idealistic it is. We’re Catholic, for pete’s sake. We’re supposed to be better than this.

    The Republicans either lied, were incompetent or made bad judgement. All are good reasons to be kept from power as long as possible. “The Surge” no matter how militarily successful is irrelevant to the underlying issues that got us into the situation in the first place. If “winning” in Iraq looks the same as our perpetual “victories” in Korea, Vietnam, Japan, Germany, etc. then… no thanks.

    Don’t get me wrong… the Democrats are guilty of all that too!

    “Donald is exactly right, the issue of 2010 and 2012 will not be Iraq 2003-2008. If I had to predict, sadly, it will be economic malaise, inflation, crushing federal deficits, massive tax increases, and quite possibly devastating terrorist attacks or other security issues (Russia, Iran, North Korea, take your pick).”

    The Iraq war is not over, so it is not “2003-2008”, its “2003-present”. Its Obama’s War now, just like Afghanistan and his little games in Pakistan.

    I agree that economic issues are going to be the issue. But gee, I wonder what contributed to this mess… perhaps our ludicrously expensive foreign policy based on principled values like bribery or blowing things up.

    Will inflation be the issue? Of course, thanks to the billions spent, borrowed or created at the start of Bush’s term and exponentially increased under Obama.

    If a “security issue” (real, imagined or just for fun) does come up, you can bet that they’ll sell it as beneficial to our economic woes. Which is like saying WWII ended the Great Depression (it didn’t). Or perhaps they’ll say that this war (presuming its Iran) will be cheaper because the troops are already there! The cannons can be adjusted just a few degrees further east!

    I must say… if there is another “devastating” terrorist attack and the U.S. goes into another post-9/11 funk of spending and shooting…I’m not certain the “Republic” can survive in anyway thats worth describing as free.

  • Anthony, I agree. Despite my own previous assumptions, I’m not so sure I’ll be crossing over and helping the GOP in 2010; maybe not in 2012.

    I might have a straight down the line Pope Benedict XVI ballot.

  • “I might have a straight down the line Pope Benedict XVI ballot.”

    My mind is being tragically torn into a million pieces that the very thought of Pope Benedict XVI, Vicar of Christ, Bishop of Rome… and POTUS!

    Thomas Jefferson would be very, VERY disappointed!

  • If you say you won’t support pro-life Republicans in 2010 or 2012 for office against pro-abortion Democrats… what’s the logical conclusion?

    If you say you don’t want the Republicans back in power any time soon, and you’re not insane enough to think that somehow a magical third party will take sweep the congress in 2010 and the presidency in 2012, then the only conclusion is you prefer the RADICALLY pro-abortion Democrats.

    If you don’t see the strategy of supporting the Republican party straight ticket, then vote your conscience on each legitimate candidate on his own merits. That’s the ONLY moral option.

  • I said I’d write in candidates.

  • Michael J. Iafrate,

    Not true, and also irrelevant.

    Of course it’s true, 70% of the population supported the invasion, and both parties with a very few exceptions.

    Relevence? It’s relevent to the point of what will happen in 2010/2012.

    Anthony,

    No, I’m proposing that we patiently persuade… a lost art in the United States.

    I agree, we should patiently pursuade the luke-warm to be on fire for pro-life, and for the pro-abortion to be pro-life or at least luke-warm. THis applies to either party of course. Franly though, you can have a much greater influence on Republican platforms that you like or don’t like than you will on dropping abortion from the Democrat platform. THere is just a lot more tolerence for dissenting views in the Republican party.

    “The main thing people will think about with regard to Iraq will be that it was won by the Republicans before Obama took over”

    I don’t agree. I think people will see it as an expensive mess (fiscally and morally) by Republicans that had to be cleaned up with more expenses by Republicans.

    I don’t think most people really have as short a memory as you do about the invasion (bipartisan and popular support), if their memory is short they’ll probably only remember that we won (unless Obama snatches defeat from the jaws of victory, and that they’ll REALLY remember. Expensive? In 2003-2008 terms perhaps, but it is so small compared to Obama’s spending sprees it will not really factor on the decision.

    You’re joking right? If they don’t repudiate it then why would those of us who can remember past last week believe them ever again? I used to be fairly Republican 8 years ago. I’ll never vote for either major party again unless there is fundamental changes in attitude. I don’t care how naive or idealistic it is. We’re Catholic, for pete’s sake. We’re supposed to be better than this.

    Actually you may not be aware but there are bigger things at stake than a popularly supported invasion in 2003, the Church is pretty clear on this, abortion is a much more serious issue. 40 million murdered innocents and counting… no comparison.

    The Republicans either lied, were incompetent or made bad judgement. All are good reasons to be kept from power as long as possible. “The Surge” no matter how militarily successful is irrelevant to the underlying issues that got us into the situation in the first place. If “winning” in Iraq looks the same as our perpetual “victories” in Korea, Vietnam, Japan, Germany, etc. then… no thanks.

    Shame on you.

    The Iraq war is not over, so it is not “2003-2008?, its “2003-present”. Its Obama’s War now, just like Afghanistan and his little games in Pakistan.

    That’s my point, Iraq war, initiated under popular support, waged by the Republicans (poorly at times, but later brilliantly and successfully) from 2003-2008. The wrap-up is Obama’s to screw-up, it will not help him if he lets the job be finished properly, but it will devastate him if he screws it up.

    I agree that economic issues are going to be the issue. But gee, I wonder what contributed to this mess… perhaps our ludicrously expensive foreign policy based on principled values like bribery or blowing things up.

    Have you actually looked at military spending as % of federal spending or GDP? It’s tiny. Other “foreign policy” spending is money that’s been wasted for decades, nothing new here, I’d drop most of it immediately.

    If a “security issue” (real, imagined or just for fun) does come up, you can bet that they’ll sell it as beneficial to our economic woes. Which is like saying WWII ended the Great Depression (it didn’t). Or perhaps they’ll say that this war (presuming its Iran) will be cheaper because the troops are already there! The cannons can be adjusted just a few degrees further east!

    I must say… if there is another “devastating” terrorist attack and the U.S. goes into another post-9/11 funk of spending and shooting…I’m not certain the “Republic” can survive in anyway thats worth describing as free.

    are you a pacifist? I’m wondering, because you seem to make no distinction between just and unjust wars, ie. real = just, imagined, or just for fun = unjust.

  • Eric Brown,

    I said I’d write in candidates.

    let me get this straight. You consider your objections to the Republican platform to be on such a morally equal level to abortion, even when balanced against the alternative’s incredibly immoral policies… that you would vote AGAINST a viable and authentically pro-life candidate in your congressional district, or for president?

    Think about your position here, it’s untennable. If there is a viable and authentically pro-life candidate you have a moral obligation to support him. In the case of two less than authentically pro-life candidates the Church leaves your conscience to measure the best course, but not when one of them is authentically pro-life.

  • Well, I voted for quite a few Republicans in 2008 and not without a lot of hesitation.

    However, the problem is, that I don’t take at face value that the GOP and Republicans are “authentically” pro-life. Better on abortion than Democrats by far, but not per se…

    And I am not sure if it is a Catholic moral obligation to vote straight ticket Republican.

    I might have reservations to cooperate in the scheme, but I’m not opposed to doing it.

    Read my earlier post.

  • “Actually you may not be aware but there are bigger things at stake than a popularly supported invasion in 2003, the Church is pretty clear on this, abortion is a much more serious issue.”

    Killing is killing. Maybe you’re capable of making value distinctions between innocent, unborn children and innocent Iraqi lives (unless you’re convinced none are innocent), but I’m not.

    The “bigger picture” you refer to is only a numbers game. But the result is the same: death, unintended consequences and damage to human dignity.

    “Shame on you.”

    I’m going to explain myself rather than take that personally. This is the internet after all.

    Our intervention in Japan and Germany is not over. We’re still there, in one capacity or another. And we shouldn’t be, regardless of whether the Germans or the Japanese wish us to be. Here it is 60 years after a terrible and bloody war and American treasure is still being sent abroad to places in which the native peoples are more than capable of taking responsibility for themselves.

    Oh yeah, and dropping two atomic bombs? Morally reprehensible. Nothing to be proud of about that. I can’t imagine Christ doing anything other than weeping.

    So sorry, I’m not going to take The History Channel view of American “victory”.

    “Have you actually looked at military spending as % of federal spending or GDP? It’s tiny. Other “foreign policy” spending is money that’s been wasted for decades, nothing new here, I’d drop most of it immediately.”

    Its a trillion dollar war now, Matt. Plus untold losses on the Iraqi side and an incalculable amount lost in terms of productivity. Who cares about percentages at that point?

    If that money had to be spent, it would have been better but towards meeting our burdensome domestic obligations. The bills are adding up…

    By other “foreign policy” spending… do you mean wasted things like… diplomats?! Linguists?! Negotiators?! You know, the guys that try to resolve problems without killing someone. 🙂

    I’ll give you one thing, if you’d get us out of the U.N. I’d back you up. Thats some prime property here in Manhattan I’d love to see sold off.

    “are you a pacifist? I’m wondering, because you seem to make no distinction between just and unjust wars, ie. real = just, imagined, or just for fun = unjust.”

    I don’t consider myself a pacifist. I do however, believe that the threshold for a just war is extremely high and rarely reached. Additionally, in cases where it is justly reached rarely is it justly executed. I have the same attitude towards the death penalty.

    The American Revolution and The Southern War for Independence to my mind were justified. (I also want to include The Texas Revolution, but my memory is a bit faded on it) Our involvement in WWII was justified, but I think we should have no delusions about the politics that lead up to our entering the war. I also believe portions of how WWII was executed were unjust.

    The Spanish-American War, WWI (a special shout-out here), the Korean War, Vietnam, Gulf War I and II etc. are unjust wars in my view.

    The current war in Afghanistan should have been formally declared after 9-11, with victory clearly defined. My opinion has been that it should have been declared specifically against Al-Qaeda, since they did the same to us in the late 90s. War against the state of Afghanistan should only have been declared if they chose to continue material support to Al-Qaeda.

  • I think the issue is less guilt by association than it is the fact that association can draw you into defending things that really shouldn’t be defended. Over the past month, for example, folks at EWTN, First Things, Inside Catholic and the American Life League have defended the use of torture (or enhanced interrogation, or whatever they’re calling it these days). They didn’t have to do that, and I suspect that if the sides had been reversed (with Dems largely supporting these methods and Repubs opposed) that they wouldn’t have done so. But there’s something about politics that makes people feel that they need to “defend their team” regardless of the system.

    To some extent this may be inherent in the nature of politics (if it weren’t for this political ‘team spirit’ I doubt you could get very many people to participate in the political process or even vote). And it certainly applies on the left as well as on the right. But the danger is real.

  • Blackadder is correct.

  • In the last 40 years, there have been only 2 Democratic appointments to the Supreme Court. Reagan chose two nominees that ended up being pro-choice and so did Bush I. Seven of the nine Justices since Roe have been made by Republicans and the pro-life movement has not garnered the votes needed by the court in order to get a 5-4 majority.

    In the interests of precision it should be that George Bush – pere made just two appointments to the Court, one of which worked out badly. Please also note that Republican presidents have had to maneuver eight of their last 12 court appointments past a legislature controlled by the political opposition. This reality has been salient with regard to the tenure of Anthony Kennedy and David Souter. One might also note the list of registered Democrats who have sat on the Court since 1969 (one of which was nominated by Gen. Eisenhower):

    1. William O. Douglas
    2. William J. Brennan, Jr.
    3. Byron White
    4. Thurgood Marshall
    5. Ruth Bader Ginsburg
    6. Steven Breyer

    Not one of them had to run an obstacle course erected by a Republican Senate. Only one of these (White) ever showed much resistance to enactment by judicial ukase of whatever the prevailing ethos was in Georgetown (and it is doubtful that Mr. Justice White’s most controversial acts of refusal would have been regarded as remarkable either in the legal professoriate or among politicians at the time he was appointed in 1962). Seven of the twelve Republican appointments have been failures, in part because of negligence (Gerald Ford’s and George Bush-pere’s), incompetence (that of Richard Nixon, John Mitchell, and John Dean), and in part because (it is reasonable to surmise) of successful deception by the candidate in question (Sandra Day O’Connor).

    What is a more interesting question is why Mr. Brown would have more than a laconic interest in the competition between the two parties with regard to any other nexus of issues. Both parties are promoters of some version of the mixed economy. The Democratic Party is a reliable ally (the Republicans merely acquiescent) in the promotion of the designs of the social work industry, the organized appetite of academia, the teacher’s colleges, and the public employee unions. Certain subcultures within the population appear to be tribal Democrats). Why should these distinctions excite Mr. Brown’s loyalty?

  • Anthony, I think a lot of it depends on whose ox is being gored. Being partly of Cuban ancestry, I would take issue with your statement that the Spanish American war was unjustified–or at least, that element within it that consisted of Cuban citizens fighting to rout their foreign rulers. And while my Southern creds are impeccable, I confess that I remain deeply divided about the legitimacy of the Wah of Nawthun Agression–particularly the nasty little bit of Confederate adventuring in Charleston Harbor that set off the whole powder keg.

    I am glad to see, however, that you have no false illusions about WWII. Though there is no doubt in my mind that it was justified, I have often reflected recently that the brutality inflicted by all sides–Allies included–in that conflict, makes the sturm und drang about the Iraq War seem doubly ridiculous.

  • Art,

    Then it seems then that more careful vetting would be something GOP presidents should work on and pro-life advocates should strongly affirm that they desire anti-Roe judges and won’t settle for compromises.

    Even in the 1980s, the Democratic party was markedly pro-choice, but there were still a few pro-life Democratic votes in the Senate and I don’t think it was filibuster proof. I’d have to look into that; I’m not so sure if compromise and “moderate” candidates was so necessary.

    Agreed, however, that O’Connor was successful. I must say that I’ve been disappointed with the most recent women firsts — Supreme Court Justice, Secretary of State, Speaker of the House, to be particular. They were all pro-choice…so sad.

    On another note —

    I am a Democrat because I agree predominantly with the party’s platform. And I feel that I simply wouldn’t fit in with the GOP. I practically diverge away on every issue.

    In regard to competition, my only point was that if the Democratic Party had a pro-life plank, the GOP couldn’t half-ass deliver on its promises or fail to give abortion the priority it deserves because pro-life advocates could find a home and place in the Democratic Party. Therefore, competition would increase and the party’s would try to out do each other — but the effect of that is real progress in stopping abortion.

    In other words, the tit-for-tat of pro-choice vs. pro-life means one Administration puts in place pro-abortion policies, another Administration rolls it back, then again, and again. Progress is very slow; if this were not the case, then progress would quicken.

    My feeling on this is that the pro-life movement because of the grave evil of legalized murder doesn’t have the luxury to make up strategy as it goes. I happen to think our current strategy is too tied up in one party. People can disagree; but I think my reasons are valid. Thanks.

  • cminor – Wars for political independence usually to my mind are justified. Or perhaps I just have soft spot for people who wish to be left alone and chart their own course. As I’ve argued over in the past – I believe there is great value behind the principle of secession.

    What I object to in my list of unjust wars is the element of military intervention. Its one thing to philosophically support foreigners, or offer them peaceful-oriented material support (food, medical aide, etc. – mostly for civilians). Violent intervention is a bridge too far. I’m one of those guys who think neutrality is a legitimate and respectable response to foreign wars, especially ones at great geographical distance.

    Eric –

    I’m of the personal view that if the Democrats did have a pro-life bench they would be wildly successful and almost impossible to defeat.

    Granted I’m not a Democrat and never will be. The concerns that their platform addresses I might have heart for, but their solutions more often than not have unintended or misunderstood consequences. LBJ’s Great Society, for example, was anything but. FDR’s social security has contributed ironically to making us less financially secure. These policies, sold to the American public as being in line with liberty, over time make the population dependent – and I would even say pawns or slaves – to the state.

    The Democrats are in essence the party of social and economic intervention. The Republicans are a party of moral intervention and militarism. When politically convenient or necessary, both parties will swap philosophies.

  • Wars for political independence usually to my mind are justified. Or perhaps I just have soft spot for people who wish to be left alone and chart their own course. As I’ve argued over in the past – I believe there is great value behind the principle of secession.

    Interesting. In most ways, I think I would tend to say the exact opposite.

    Indeed, one of the American wars I have more difficulty justifying is the Revolution. And my sympathies in the Civil War are definitely with the North.

  • The Republicans are a party of moral intervention and militarism.

    that’s the talking points anyway. In reality, the Republicans as a policy advocate for intervention in the cause of justice, to protect the lives and rights of the citizens. As to militarism, look again, far more military interventions under Clinton than under Bush or Reagan. Regime change in Iraq was a Democrat policy also.

    Eric,

    I am a Democrat because I agree predominantly with the party’s platform.

    Wow. That’s quite a statement since many of their platform items are contrary to Catholic teaching.

    – abortion
    – contraception
    – secularism
    – limiting the rights of parents to educate their children

  • Matt,

    Last time I checked, party platforms are quite long lists.

    National security policies (which covers an array of issues), foreign policy (again an array of issues), health care, public funding of education, energy, taxes, fighting poverty through private and public sector solutions, and the list goes on.

    If you consider the whole of the platform, I agree with the vast majority of the points.

    Lastly, I don’t think anywhere in the party platform does it state we support “secularism.”

    I’m not saying that many Democrats have a wonderful understanding of the idea of separation of Church and State, but that’s flat out not in the platform.

    I didn’t say I agree with every point of the platform.

    If we had a point list and went down the party platform of each party and I had to respond ‘agree’ or ‘disagree’ — the Democrats would win. Ask me to vote between candidates and probably not.

    Matt, could you really work on not being so overly aggressive and condescending as a commenter? Seriously. It’s not really in this post, but there are more charitable and engaging ways to address people.

    You could have said quoted my comment and asked:

    “Eric, could you clarify what you mean here? A few tenets of the Democratic platform contradict Catholic teaching.”

    That’s very charitable and not so assuming.

    I’m sure we’re all guilty, but we argue on this blog so much about “good” Catholics and “bad” Catholics, let’s strive to actually imitate Jesus.

  • Darwin –

    Perhaps living in Texas will influence your outlook. Certainly myself having been born and raised in Houston I experienced a subculture in America that took pride in its republican sovereignty as a historical footnote. However, Texas by and large is mostly just ‘bark and no bite’ when it comes to independence. Post-Civil War they’ve been properly beaten into submission and made to feel guilty (like the rest of the South) for ever daring to give Washington the screw.

    In the case of both The American Revolution and The Civil War the ultimate goal was not destruction of the enemy but merely her expulsion. If the South succeeded in gaining independence, perhaps the war would have been known as ‘The Southern Revolution’ or ‘The Second American Revolution’. Had both the above conflicts been genuine ‘civil wars’ I would think the endgame would involve usurping power in London and Washington D.C.

    Thats all I’ll say… I’m already too far off topic.

  • The American Revolution and The Civil War the ultimate goal was not destruction of the enemy

    The ‘enemy’ in the first case was the legitimate central government.

    As for the second, I think one can argue that secession was permissible as a matter of positive law. The thing is, both the continued subjection of the slaves and the effort necessary to discontinue that involved the use of force.

  • ****
    that’s the talking points anyway. In reality, the Republicans as a policy advocate for intervention in the cause of justice, to protect the lives and rights of the citizens. As to militarism, look again, far more military interventions under Clinton than under Bush or Reagan. Regime change in Iraq was a Democrat policy also.
    ****

    Matt,

    Maybe I’m being dimwitted, but I think you just responded to my ‘talking points’ with your own set.

    The Republican record is atrocious, especially when it comes to the litmus test of a strict reading of the Constitution and following what I can only presume are Jeffersonian principles. On matters of free speech, spending, declarations of war, states rights and social/government programs they have not lived up to their speeches. They pick and choose which rights and which liberties and which kind of justice just as much as Democrats.

    Our politicians are ‘Cafeteria Constitutionalists’ if I can paraphrase.

    Clinton might indeed have more military interventions (Somalia, Kosovo, Iraq immediately spring to mind), but the cost was no where near that of Bush II. My ‘militarism’ reference is more geared toward the current state of the party and the cultural attitudes attracted to it.

    Like I said above, those described philosophies are also quickly swapped depending on the political weather. Right now, for instance, the Republicans have become much better on a variety of issues. The problem is they have zero credibility.

  • *****
    The ‘enemy’ in the first case was the legitimate central government.

    As for the second, I think one can argue that secession was permissible as a matter of positive law. The thing is, both the continued subjection of the slaves and the effort necessary to discontinue that involved the use of force.
    *****

    I’d love to debate all these points, but it is another topic thread. Unless we have permission to go free-for-all. 🙂

  • Anthony,

    Following the self-indulgent principle of “it’s my thread so I’ll take if off topic if I feel like it”, because this strikes me as an interesting topic:

    I guess the hang-up for me is that as a conservative (and also looking at Church just war teaching) that regional independence (or national self determination, or call it what you will) is not an absolute good. In the case of the American Revolution, it strikes me that the injustices being imposed by the British were arguably very small compared to the evils of a drawn out war. Though the political philosophy of the American founding fathers strikes me as sufficiently far superior to that of the British empire that I an strongly tempted to say it was worth it anyway.

    In the case of the Civil War, I’m mildly sympathetic to states rights, but the stand was only being taken over states rights in order to insist on slavery. In that regard, I would happily have carried a rifle for the Union.

    Still, interesting conversation. I hope you’ll be around next week when I post my review (possibly multi part) of Empires of Trust. That should generate some interesting conversation.

    Blackadder,

    I think you’re right on tribalism. The temptation seems to have been too strong for some pro-life advocates to defend what they should not. Though at the same time — I don’t necessarily see the mistakes of those people as discrediting the movement as a whole. Or at least, it should not do so in the eyes of people who have long been used to swallowing the bitter pill of abortion support in the leaders they look up to on various “social justice” issues.

  • *****
    The ‘enemy’ in the first case was the legitimate central government.
    *****

    I don’t think I’ve heard anyone argue that the British crown was illegitimate, just tyrannical. The grievance, as I remember, was basically that a.) the crown’s actions were unjust and economically destructive, and b.) there was not sufficient representation in Parliament for the American colonies to voluntarily submit if they wanted to.

    Had those matters been better negotiated I would not have seen much cause for political separation. But they weren’t, so in my view it was justifiable to expel the threat to life, liberty and property and replace it with a better suited form of governance. It was time, as they say, to ‘appeal to heaven’.

    With regard to the war between the states its messier and more complicated, but similar to the situation with Britain.

    Let me first say that slavery is as reprehensible as abortion, contrary to any conception of liberty and should be rejected at all times and by all peoples. Were I living in America circa the 1850s, 1860s I would have been anti-slavery, but at peace with Southern secession.

    I often wonder if perhaps by allowing the South to secede, in time slavery could still have been done away with; particularly if Southern states sought to rejoin the Union at a later date. That way we could avoid the half million American deaths and a century of racial and and cultural resentment that is the Civil War’s sad legacy.

    I do not believe that slavery was the exclusive issue at stake in the Civil War. Not every individual fought for the same reason. If truly the war was one of liberation and not one of radically changing our Union’s understanding simultaneously, then permitting secession followed by an invasive mission to free slaves would have made more sense. Abolishing slavery in those states that did not secede would also have been more consistent on the part of the Union. Buying slaves and freeing them would also have made more sense. But both sides dug in… there had to be more to it than the lone moral debate over slavery.

    The South, in my view had a natural and popular desire to dissolve a political arrangement; no matter how imperfect or disgusting their own house could be. (Slavery, if I recall rightly, was enshrined in the CSA Constitution).

    Also I believe there to be legitimate historical and philosophical arguments over Lincoln’s goals at the war’s outset and the role tariffs and taxation played in further aggravating the conflict. Pro-Union historians who concede certain points about Lincoln usually argue that the president grew into being ‘The Great Emancipator’ over the course of the war thus legitimizing the “it was all about slavery” view. But if that is to be allowed then it could also be allowed that for the South what began as a wrong-headed defense of slavery grew into a larger and legitimate cause for political liberty.

    Its a real historical shame that the principle of ‘state’s rights’ – or rather a deference to local government – is tainted by the stench of slavery. Perhaps its only fitting that large, federal government is duly being connected to the stink of abortion, euthanasia, war and economic foolishness.

    *****
    I guess the hang-up for me is that as a conservative (and also looking at Church just war teaching) that regional independence (or national self determination, or call it what you will) is not an absolute good.
    *****

    I’m not certain there is much to say from the Church’s perspective and I only have a few, sketchy thoughts here.

    For one, after life, liberty is a natural and necessary condition in order for mankind to pursue good. I tend to think that if liberty is abridged (either by a state or individual) it further complicates pursuing a moral good via moral means. An individual or a people placed in a desperate situation they’re likely going to react desperately I’d imagine. The slave is legitimate in his revolt against the master, just as the South had legitimacy in its desire to no longer be under Washington’s growing power.

    Second, and perhaps more telling, concerns the general attitude towards ‘the State’. Where as I see the Church as a ‘higher’ form of institution that teaches and loves (however imperfectly some times), the State is considerably lower or lowest in my estimation. Indeed, I find it positively parasitical and unproductive.

    I would note that this does not mean I am not patriotic. I love my country. I love its peoples, my family, my friends, its lands, its culture and even its intellectual traditions. I cannot transfer that love to the State, indeed I find love of state to be dangerous and inescapably competitive with the things I ought to love (my neighbor, my God, etc.).

    Were I to run for office, my platform would likely be to tie the federal government’s hands as much as possible and follow the Constitution to the letter – even when inconvenient.

  • As has been remarked, parliamentary representation in Britain prior to 1832 was quite haphazard – – rotten boroughs, pocket boroughs, dominacy of Lords over Commons, &c. The lack of assignment of representation to the colonies was an aspect of that. (To this day, the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, and the residuum of overseas colonies do not have such representation). Why a series of excise taxes should spark a territorial revolt is an interesting question, from a sociological standpoint. Excises on paint and paper and tea may be good or bad policy. Such does not ‘tyranny’ make.

    Lincoln’s original motivations are an historical question. My purpose was to make a rough and ready statement as to why I would conceive of the use of force in that circumstance as legitimate.

    Personally, I think the U.S. Constitution is manifestly defective and should be scrapped.

  • I did not know about the sketchy representation in Parliament. Huh… the more you know!

  • Anthony

    As to Lincoln and the Civil War

    As a Southern one hears that often the Victors write hisotry. However as to the Civil War I often find the losers(we southerners) have often wrote it or “rewrote it” with amazing success. This was whiched one of its climaxes when Woodrow Wilson was elected and suddenly that horrid film he screened became the offical line

    First there is no evidence that Slavery would have gone away. It seemed to be growing by leaps and bounds in Texas. That was once a Catholic NO SLAVE STATE. It is without a doubt that SOuthern Leadership wanted a slave empire. Their constant designs on Cuba and Central America a prime example. In fact a slave Manifest Destiny with desgins on California. I suspect if things had gone differently if DC had been captured and even Philly I am not so sure that areas like New Mexico and Arizona to say the least would have been given back. There was consideravle Confederate action in New Mexico for example and the COnfederate recognized a Arizona Seccesionist Govt

    As to the “growing Federal Power” if you look at the Seccession Declarations of the States SLAVERY was the issue. While a few threw in talk of light houses and the occasional tariff this was the prime concern

    Southerners had used Federal Power quite a bit. They imposed a gag rule on Slavery in Congress, the mails could be censured of anti slavery things. Also what they wanted in the end was a Federal Slave Code. That would have been the largest exapnsion of Federal Power ever. In fact it was largely on this that the SOutherners broke with the Democrat party on that fateful day in Charleston at the Democrat Convention

  • First there is no evidence that Slavery would have gone away.

    Counter-factual speculation is somewhat idle. However, it ought be noted that the abolition of slavery in the United States was appended to the abolition of hereditary subjection all over Europe and Russia over the period running from 1789 through 1864. (Admittedly, serfdom is a qualitatively different institution). Also, I believe that the abolition of slavery in Brazil was enacted just a few years after the close of the American Civil War.

  • Well, the boll weevil would have done in the cotton industry one way or another, so retaining large quantities of slave labor would have become considerably less profitable for one major export at least. Importing new slave labor would also have become increasingly difficult and unprofitable, considering that standard practice on the big plantations in immediately antebellum Georgia and the deep South was to work slaves more or less to death over several years and then replace them. Slave escapes would likely have largely emptied border states (maybe we’d have a wall down the middle of the continent!) There might still be slavery, but not to the same extent as before; likely the system would have gotten extremely draconian before finally starting to fizzle, however.

    Currently I live in a South that, all things considered, is in pretty good shape. If a war (that we started) is what it took to bring the abomination that was slavery to an earlier close and my Confederate forefathers had to lose it so that this corner of the country wouldn’t degenerate into a demagogue-ridden third world state, though they haunt me for saying it, it’s just as well.

    For the record, I got the full Southern version of history in grade school. The victors didn’t write it all.

  • BTW Anthony, what other issues governed the decision to secede to anywhere near the degree of slavery? Please.

  • My favorite history of the Civil War was written by Shelby Foote, and the best study of command in the Civil War, Lee’s Lieutenants, was written by Douglas Southall Freeman. When it comes to the Civil War, the Southern viewpoint has produced myriad first class histories.

  • “BTW Anthony, what other issues governed the decision to secede to anywhere near the degree of slavery? Please.”

    I never said slavery was not part of it. My view has always been that the debate over slavery poured into a lager crisis over the meaning of the Union.

    I merely reject the argument that the Civil War was exclusively over that acute issue. The question of both liberty for slaves, political liberty for the Southern States and the Union’s meaning under the Constitution.

    You can’t disconnect the slave issue from its Constitutional aspects, its economic aspects any more than you can its moral ones. I’d also add that as one who leans rather libertarian the lens through which I’m viewing things is liberty itself. Questions of authority are antithetical. Why can’t one believe that slaves should be free and Southern states free? It seems rather “American” to me.

Capital Punishment And Abortion, An Argument From Doubt

Sunday, May 3, AD 2009

I think we all have, if we are fortunate, a few good friends with religious and political viewpoints very different from our own with whom we regularly hold long discussions. For me, one of these is an uncle of mine. My mom is the oldest of seven, so this uncle is actually only fifteen years older than I am. He’s a long lapsed Catholic (he describes himself as believing in God but having no religion), a comic book and movie buff, an independent rocker, and someone who thinks a lot about the meaning of life, though he does so from a very different perspective than I do.

A few months back, my uncle was telling me about how he’d recently become pro-life (or anti-abortion, for those who ride the hobby horse of not being willing to accept the common use of the term.) His reason, he said, was basically the same as the reason he’d come to oppose capital punishment a few years before.

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24 Responses to Capital Punishment And Abortion, An Argument From Doubt

  • This is a particularly useful approach for Protestants who believe scripture is silent on abortion and euthanasia. As capital-punishment-lover President Bush said “government should err on the side of life.”

  • The only good argument as far as I am concerned against the death penalty is the risk of wrongful conviction. I am all too aware that courts and juries are quite capable of making dreadful mistakes. I agree with your uncle on this point. Having said that, I am still in favor of the death penalty for heinous crimes. It is, however, not a hot-button issue for me. If a state wishes to abolish the death penalty it will not raise a protest from me. My concern in regard to abortion is the protection of innocent human life, but if the polity wishes to extend this protection to convicted murderers, I may regard this as soft-headed, but I can understand the desire to protect all human life.

    I can understand someone who is pro-abortion also being in favor of the death penalty. If the right to life of a child in the womb means nothing, how much less the claim to life possessed by a convicted murderer.

    What I cannot understand are the huge number of people who simultaneously believe that the life of the child in the womb is worth nothing, if the mother desires to end that life, while simultaneously holding sacred the life of those convicted of heinous crimes.

  • As someone who was anti-capital-punishment before I became anti-abortion, I can personally attest that it’s very difficult to hold that combination of views without major cognitive dissonance. Something had to give eventually, and I’m glad that it did.

    Rather than discredit, attack, or mock people who are anti-capital-punishment but pro-abortion, I think the best approach is to praise them for the instinct of mercy, and just suggest — suggest — that the unborn deserve that mercy, too. I think there’s a great potential for a seed to be planted. Even if you are yourself not against capital punishment, I hope that an instinct to err on the side of mercy is something that you can praise, and use to gently suggest that we should also err on the side of mercy toward the unborn.

  • I tend to agree with Bearing. I’m curious though, Mr. McClarey, if you don’t see the possibility of conversion – of giving a criminal the full opportunity of repentance – as being perhaps a worthy motive in avoiding the use of capital punishment when possible.

    For my part, I think that the only things that should be immediately eligible for capital punishment are those crimes the continuous commission of which would undermine the stability of society. For example, the intentional killing of a police officer is, in my view (and subject to certain requisite determinations), a crime that would automatically invoke execution as a punishment. I can think of others, but not that fit my premise as well (by which I mean they do not compel me to demand the death penalty as stridently as does cop-killing).

  • Yes, DW. I should add by the way that I continue to be anti-capital-punishment in the United States. I’ve always acknowledged that it’s not inherently evil and that it’s appropriate and even necessary in certain circumstances, but (a) I don’t think those circumstances exist in the US and (b) I think that mercy is a greater witness to the sacredness of life than is retribution. And I think we could use more witnesses to the sacredness of life.

    Personally, I am very frustrated by the power of the argument “you people love death when it comes to criminals, how pro-life can you be?” I wish that more pro-lifers agreed with me, because (whether WE like it or not) that argument is very convincing to people for whom the humanity of the unborn is not obvious. Since few people argue that guilty criminals are not human, it means that pro-death-penalty, anti-abortion people appear to be supporting the death of clearly-human beings while claiming moral high ground for supporting only “maybe”-human beings at great cost to other clearly human beings.

    Darwin, I’m just curious. How does being anti-abortion correlate with being anti-death-penalty? Do you know?

  • I oppose capital punishment, but I have always thought the “repentance and conversion” argument was one of the weaker points in opposition to the death penalty. In fact, I think the imminence of one’s death probably focuses the mind on the hereafter and thus serves as a catalyst toward repentance.

    Bearing describes my reasons for opposing the death penalty in the second paragraph of his second comment.

  • Not to be overly pedantic, but St. Thomas Aquinas has addressed this issue of conversion of the convicted murderer, and here’s his thought:

    The fact that the evil, as long as they live, can be corrected from their errors does not prohibit the fact that they may be justly executed, for the danger which threatens from their way of life is greater and more certain than the good which may be expected from their improvement. They also have at that critical point of death the opportunity to be converted to God through repentance. And if they are so stubborn that even at the point of death their heart does not draw back from evil, it is possible to make a highly probable judgment that they would never come away from evil to the right use of their powers.

    We see this routinely in actual practice, where lifers continue to kill and maim in prison, escape and do harm, or are pardoned or paroled by a new governor. We also routinely see condemned men reconciling with God at their execution. Sr. Prejean, the anti-death penalty activist, has personally witnessed this happen and written about it.

    At any rate, in this country, where we have probably the most searching and exacting rule of law in human history, and very restrictive capital statutes, it doesn’t seem to be a realistic risk that any innocent person will be executed. There has in fact been not one indisputable case of this, despite the exhaustive efforts for over 30 years of many lobbying groups to find that one “poster” case.

    On the other hand we have hundreds of examples of life imprisonment failing to protect innocent people. If we can’t effectively render these offenders harmless, the state has a right, and probably a duty, to execute them.

  • I oppose the death penalty in the US, at least generally, and have for many years, even though I concede that prison murders or murders ordered from prison may present special cases. That said, I question the appropriateness of applying the “instinct of mercy” to abortion. While mercy may be a fair description of what Christ calls us to do in our treatment of a convicted murderer, it is not what is owed to the unborn. What is owed to the unborn is simple justice. The innocents have done nothing to warrant mercy. The all too common conflation of mercy, charity, and justice makes thinking clearly about these very different virtues more difficult.

  • I believe there is some confusion about the morality of abortion as against the morality of the death penalty. That confusion arises from the failure to distinguish about the doer of the deed.
    It is not the state which commits the abortion; it a [nowadays] a doctor commissioned by the mother. Both are equally guilty of the sin as are participators such as Unplanned Parenthood. These are personal choices.

    The death penalty is a difficult matter; it may be an error but it is not a sin. A state cannot sin.

  • You are correct, Mike, but remember I am trying to meet pro-abortion people where they are. It’s common rhetoric to classify the unborn as a “parasite,” “invader,” or “aggressor,” or to identify children conceived in rape with the aggressor who begat them. When people feel as if the unborn is an aggressor, even when they feel that incorrectly, mercy is indeed the instinct that needs to be awakened.

    Gabriel, the state cannot sin, but *if* the death penalty is wrong, then a prosecutor sins in asking for it, a jury sins in applying it, a governor sins in withholding clemency, and executioners (and all involved in the process) sin in carrying out the execution.

  • bearing,
    As to your first point, as disgusting as it is, I agree. The notion that holy innocents should be regarded as “parasites” is beyond my understanding, but I appreciate your point nonetheless.
    As to your second point, I’m not so sure. I think that the responsiblity rests largely with the legislators who design the “rules of engagement” that prosecutors, juries, and governors must apply. The prudential decision as to whether the state can “effectively repress crime by rendering inoffensive the one who has committed it” is a charism and responsiblilty assigned primarily to legislators, not judges, juries, and governors who must abide by the legal standards promulgated by such lawmakers. Under ordinary circumstances I would think that such parties have a right to assume that the legislators have exercised their prudential responsibilities appropriately. I certainly do not think that one can presume “sin” absence special circumstances.

  • The notion that there are large numbers of “pro-abortion” campaigners is a misleading one. Such identity politics dehumanizes the opposition and pretends that there is only one possible moral stance involved. As the Catholic Church itself did not declare authoritatively that ensouled life began at conception until the 19th century, it is evident that not everyone will share this view.

    Most “pro-choice” people would not regard abortion as a good option, and would wish to see its incidence drastically reduced. The question is, how is this desirable outcome to be achieved?

    Whether abortion is legal or illegal appears to make little or no difference to the incidence of abortion. This can be seen from the US before WW2 — contemporary estimates put the rate far, far higher during the Depression than today’s rate — and from countries where the law has changed recently.

    It only makes a difference to the number of legal abortions, and to the circumstances under which the procedure occurs. I do not think any of us would want to see a return to backstreet abortions, or to self-induced abortions. The death rate would be appalling. We surely need to address the desperate demand for any kind of abortion, no matter how dangerous, rather than trying to make the supply of safe abortion illegal.

    So, what would actually reduce the incidence of abortion? Here, we can contrast the low rates seen in most of Western Europe and the astonishingly high rates seen in Eastern Europe.

    What makes the difference? Education; social attitudes towards illegitimacy; the financial and medical circumstances of young mothers.

    Most of the women who have abortions in the US already have children. Indeed, if my memory serves, most are married. When asked, what do they say is the reason for having an abortion? It’s their inability to feed and clothe their children. Much the same applies to young mothers.

    This society may bewail the resort to abortion, usually an agonizing choice for the pregnant woman, but it does nothing much to make the life of a woman who gives birth any easier. Indeed, by comparison with most developed countries, the United States punishes mothers, as soon as they have given birth.

    Where is their paid leave? Where are their benefit payments? Where is their free medical care? How do they buy diapers if they are surviving on food stamps?

    Where is the public transport for them to visit their doctor? A Mississippi Delta mother on Medicaid may be faced with a 60-mile round trip.

    Most of the measures needed to reduce the incidence of abortion could be supported both by secular liberals and by all but the most savagely punitive Catholics and evangelicals. We need to get past this debate if we are going to find some common ground about policies upon which all well-intentioned people can agree.

    Changing the law is not one of them. Believing that it is the only measure required is a magical view that just gratifies the self-righteousness of people who do little or nothing to ease the situation of mothers and children, and especially poor families. Indeed, there are many prominent lay Catholics who actively oppose making the lot of the poor any easier.

    We need a pro-children movement, a pro-mothers movement, a pro-poor movement. That would begin to reduce the incidence of abortion, as the politics of gesture would not.

  • @ Mike:

    I’ll confess, I find the suggestion that our legal system prevents the execution of innocents (or at least mitigates it) un-compelling. I’ve read far too many cases regarding criminal constitutional law to believe anything other than Justice Holmes’ aphoristic observation that he sat in a court of law, not of justice – drawing a thick line of demarcation between the two.

    I should also warn you that I put a lot less stock in Aquinas than I did when I was younger. I’m far more Platonic in my theology, and I think that his observations regarding the repentance of condemned criminals might have carried more weight when they were facing death by boiling in oil. When I think of modern executions, I think of Timothy McVeigh.

    As to the fact that lifers are violent, I think that the problem is less with the punishment as much as it is with the system. We quite frankly have created a penal Frankenstein that turns inmates into tribalists.

    Would you rather just execute all the lifetime prisoners?

  • Der Wolfanwalt,

    I am mostly at a loss as to how to respond since though your post is addressed to me it is not germane to anything I wrote.

    I would add though that while our prison system is certainly imperfect, my nephew the prison guard would find your thesis blaming bad prisoner behavior on our penal system both naive and amusing.

  • David Harley,

    While the notion that there are large numbers of “pro-abortion” campaigners may be inaccurate, the notion that there are none is even more inaccurate. Reading a good dose of 60s through 90s feminist literature makes it clear there are a number of people who think abortion is just swell, and they happen to be some of the same people running NARAL, NOW and Planned Parenthood.

    On your international abortion stats argument, your argument does little to account for the fact that abortion laws are in fact much more restrictive in Europe than in the US, and reached even their current levels of liberatity much later than in the US. Because abortion was totally legalized in a very spectacular way only a decade after birth control became mainstream, the US developed a highly abortive culture (like Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union) while Western Europe which legalized gradually and with more restrictions developed a highly contraceptive culture.

    Also, note that contries that have near total bans in Europe (Ireland and Poland) do indeed have _much_ lower abortion rates than the rest of Europe. Clearly the law _does_ make a big difference.

    This is not to say that there’s no value in programs to help single and poor mothers (your stat on the majority of abortions being procured by married women is wrong) but the legal and medical availability of abortion is clearly one of the largest determining factors.

  • Bearing writes:
    “Gabriel, the state cannot sin, but *if* the death penalty is wrong, then a prosecutor sins in asking for it, a jury sins in applying it, a governor sins in withholding clemency, and executioners (and all involved in the process) sin in carrying out the execution”.

    The matter revolves around “if the death penalty is wrong” [i.e., sinful]. Alas, the numerous instances in the Bible indicate that it may not be sinful.

    There are two prongs to this discussion:
    1. Death sends the executed to his final judgment. It is not the end of his existence. Nor is killing the worst of sins.
    2. It is difficult to decide what, in effect, is a matter of prudence. The Holy Father has written that while the death penalty is not sinful, there seem to be few [or no] occasions for its application.

  • David Harley Says:
    Monday, May 4, 2009

    A large number of weary undocumentable cliches, especially the number of abortions before the Supreme Court legalized abortion.
    One has but to consider the large number of employees at Planned Unparenthood to recognise the error in the statement that there are no large number of pro-abortion advocates. That’s how they make their living.
    Plus such of the feminist groups as NOW, and the like.

    The statistics from Europe are easily misleading [although 200,000 abortions in Britain cannot be called minor]. That country has ended with a large number of women no longer fertile.

    The undocumentable fiction of back-street abortions is yet another cliche.

    But most vicious is the suggestion that pro-life people do little for the unwed mothers, or the unplanned pregnancies [how do you get pregnant without a partner?]

    “As the Catholic Church itself did not declare authoritatively that ensouled life began at conception until the 19th century, it is evident that not everyone will share this view”.

    Where did you come up with this bit of unhistorical nonsense? The Church has condemned abortion from the very beginning.

    “the self-righteousness of people who do little or nothing to ease the situation of mothers and children, and especially poor families. Indeed, there are many prominent lay Catholics who actively oppose making the lot of the poor any easier.
    “We need a pro-children movement, a pro-mothers movement, a pro-poor movement. That would begin to reduce the incidence of abortion, as the politics of gesture would not”.

    I do not know any prominent lay Catholics who actively oppose making the lot of the poor any easier. Perhaps you could give some references.

    All of your suggestions – pro-children, pro-mothers, pro-poor – have been the standards of the Church since the beginning. Why else should the Church be running orphanages, hospitals, clinics to a far greater number than any other organization?

  • If I antagonized posters, I did not mean to do so, and I apologize. As I wrote spontaneously, rather than as an expert, I cannot guarantee the accuracy of all my remarks, and should withdraw or qualify some, on reflection, and so I accept most of the criticisms above.

    I will try to limit myself to statements that rest on well-documented research, or which can be checked from the academic literature. I apologize for being prolix.

    On American abortions in earlier times.
    Frederick Taussig’s estimates of the death rates from criminal abortions have been much challenged, and I do not want to debate them. The court cases I have seen from states such as Nebraska and Oklahoma indicate that it was doctors and midwives who performed the abortions, and that was the case in Eastern cities in the 19th century, during the Madam Restell scandal. One would not expect many to be botched to a fatal extent.

    As I recall, however, he estimated an incidence rate of 1 abortion per 2.5 pregnancies in cities and 1 per 5 in rural areas. Statisticians in the 1950s came up with figures ranging from 200,000 per year to 1,200,000 per year.

    To some extent, the impact of Roe v. Wade was to publicize the availability of abortion, which would increase demand. In like manner, publicity about contraception increased demand even before the arrival of the pill. The key issue, as in earlier times was family limitation strategies.

    If one believes that families should continue to increase in size until menopause, as the Quiverful movement does, one would have no sympathy for this desire to limit families. However, Catholic women use all the available methods, other than the few who try rhythm, as frequently as other American women.

    The so-called Sexual Revolution did increase the level of pre-marital sex, but age at marriage also increased, and it seems that couples who had sex before marriage have been more stable than those that did not. This appears evident from the divorce rates among Southern Baptists.

    I may well have misspoken, through carelessness or ignorance, about aspects of the US situation. Perhaps I should focus instead on international comparisons, at this time rather than across periods for which statistics are hard to come by.

    The situation abroad
    About 3 out of every 4 abortions worldwide occur in countries where abortion is illegal, as far as can be estimated from obviously problematic statistics. However, it does seem reasonably certain that about 1,500,000 women die as a result of unplanned pregnancies.

    There are countries where abortion is illegal or very severely restricted, but the incidence is higher than in the US. Examples include Chile, Nigeria, Peru and the Philippines. In Guatemala, abortion is legal only to save the mother’s life, yet the rate is higher than in the US, and a third of the women are hospitalized as a result of complications. This devours a tenth of the entire budget of hospitals and a third of the budget allocated for maternity. The rate for Guatemala is comparable to that for the rest of Central America, and the higher rate of the cities is comparable to that of Latin America as a whole.

    Some of the lowest rates are found in continental Western Europe, where abortion is legal and covered by national health systems, but sex education is comprehensive and the rate of unintended pregnancy is very low.

    The current US situation
    About a quarter of pregnancies end in abortion, involving 2% of women of childbearing age. At present rates, about a third of all US women will have had an abortion at some time in their lives.

    During the last couple of decades, abortion rates were falling, but this fall has ceased during the present decade. Although rates are still falling among the educated and those of average or above-average incoming, rises have been detected among the under-educated, the poor and low-income groups.

    About a third of all American women of childbearing age are eligible for publicly funded contraception, because of their low incomes. Proper financial support and publicity is estimated to be able to prevent 1,300,000 unwanted pregnancies per year, half of which would end in abortion.

    Over half of those seeking abortions were using contraception of some sort, but were ill-informed on its use. Nevertheless, whether properly used or used in more typical manner, the most commonly used methods were substantially more effective than any of the periodic abstinence methods.

    Those using abstinence properly were about ten times more likely to become pregnant in any given year than users of the commonest methods — except the male condom and withdrawal — and a quarter of those who used abstinence in a more typical manner became pregnant. This is markedly better than those using no method — 85% — but it would, over time, give women larger families than most in the US would want, and periodic abstinence is not something that could be exported or imposed on poor countries.

    It is surely unintended pregnancies that need to be addressed, unless one believes that having a child every year is a woman’s duty. We need to focus on the well-being of mothers and children who are already with us, as well as those yet to be born. Legal abortion may be ten times safer than childbirth for the pregnant woman, but it obviously isn’t safer for the life she carries within. And the psychological effects, largely brought about by the conflict between morality and desperation, are insufficiently addressed by health systems.

    The Best Intentions: Unintended Pregnancy and the Well-Being of Children and Families (National Academies, 1995)
    http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=4903&page=R1

    Catholics and the debate
    As for the Catholic Church, it did not take a strong position on abortion until the long argument about the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin was finally settled. At that point, ensoulment at conception became a necessary belief. Indeed, that had been a major issue during the centuries of debate. To say that the Catholic Church had always condemned abortion is true, but abortion was defined differently, for church and state, before the 19th century. Abortion was a category that was applied after 16 weeks of pregnancy. This distinction is ignored by much of the literature.

    However, condemnation and active opposition are not the same thing. Before the Second World War, the Catholic Church in the US was not active in opposition to abortion, partly because it was a largely unseen practice after the Comstock Act. 19th-century anti-abortionists were relatively isolated figures, drawn from across the spectrum of political and religious views. It was the 1950s debate about abortion for medical reasons that began to rouse the sleeping forces of Mother Church. Before that, the main group involved had been those demographers who advocated zero population growth.

    As for pro-life campaigners and pro-choice campaigners taking care of young mothers and newborns, I don’t myself see a lot of Catholics and pro-life Protestants or pro-choice Christians and non-Christians getting personally involved, by adopting or mentoring or financially supporting individual mothers and children. However, I live in a relatively pro-life community, so I may have a skewed perspective. At a broader social level, I would say that both groups do a certain amount but nothing like what is now needed, let alone what would be needed if abortion were suddenly to cease.

    Above all, I don’t see the political will to change the level of support for pre-natal and post-natal care, and for financial support. Both Democrats and Republicans have been all too willing to cut back on programs, partly as a result of the “Welfare Queen” stereotype. I do not see a groundswell of opinion among any group involved in this debate to change matters, and the terrible divisions created in the country have made a consensus about social programs almost impossible to achieve.

    That is why I said we need a pro-child and pro-mother movement. Indeed, an anti-poverty movement. I do not see politicians of any stripe putting their reputations on the line for this. It would be political suicide for many conservatives.

    I don’t need to list all the Catholic neo-cons who have deserted doctrines of social justice, but how central to lay thinking is the pastoral letter of the bishops, “A Place at the Table,” or their statements on political responsibility? Is there a single good word ever said by the Rev. John McCloskey in favour of social justice? Does Michael Novak think that the poor need anything more than moral admonitions and tax cuts for the rich? Senator Santorum thought they needed charity and marriage.

    On listening
    The sneer at Planned Parenthood and NOW needing abortion is an unworthy caricature. It may be that some radicals feel obliged to pretend that abortion is inherently good, but that is hardly the case with mainstream groups. This is like taking Randall Terry as the voice of the pro-life movement. Now he certainly does need abortion.

    Caricaturing one another is one of the main ways to prevent listening. It buttresses the aim of imposing moral absolutism. Pro-choice campaigners accuse the pro-life movement of having no concern for the rights of the mother, and pro-life campaigners do the same with the rights of the unborn. This is a dialogue of the deaf.

    Planned Parenthood is a non-profit group, relying on donations, which provides a wide range of health services for men and women that are not adequately covered otherwise. We may deplore their involvement in abortion, but it is far from being the only focus of their attention or their reason for existing. So too with NOW, which has a host of other issues on which it campaigns.

    http://www.plannedparenthood.org/
    http://www.now.org/issues/

    It is often forgotten, among both Catholics and feminists, just how many of the founders of the present feminism, including NOW itself, and campaigners for what came to be called reproductive rights were Catholic religious. One might mention Sister Mary Joel Read, Sister Mary Austin Doherty, Sister Mary Aloysious Schaldenbrand, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the National Coalition of American Nuns.

    Both younger feminists and increasingly conservative Catholics gradually shut out such voices. The days of the civil rights and anti-war movements had gone. It is surely time now to get back to a position where abortion is one of the issues about which faithful Catholics care deeply, rather than apparently being the only one. How often have I seen Sister Helen Prejean attacked for spending her time on anything other than abortion?

  • Isn’t this just a regurgitation of the CFFC talking points? What exactly is the poster proposing here?

  • David,

    When you throw up that must stuff in one comment (very little of it sourced) it’s hard to respond in any systematic manner. However, the stats involved are something that I’ve done a fair amount of work with, and I’m pretty confident that you’re wrong on most fronts.

    A few major items:

    – Basically all reputable analyses agree that abortion rates went up after Roe, peaking in 1980 and going down since then. It’s not just pro-life analysts who say this, some of the major pro-choice arguments (such as the eliminating-unwanted-children argument from Freakonomics) are based on the understanding that abortion went up quite a bit after Roe.

    – Your international numbers are way off. Check Guttmacher’s stats here. The solid majority of the world’s abortions are performed in a small number of countries in which abortion is legal and to a great extent encouraged: China, Russia, Vietnam, the United States, and India.

    – There’s little evidence that putting more money into making birth control available to people in the US reduces the number of unplanned pregnancies. We’re already awash in free birth control, and yet the incidence of unplanned pregnancy creeps downward only rather slowly.

    – No one is saying that Catholics should care only about abortion, but too often the claim that “we shouldn’t care only about abortion” is made by people who would basically like permission to care nothing about abortion. During the 50s through the 70s it was certainly not required to care only about civil rights, but if one repeatedly insisted on voting for strict segregationists people might start to suspect that one didn’t care about them.

  • David Harley:
    Monday, May 11, 2009 A.D. at 2:00 pm

    Recommended a Planned UnParenthood site for information. My librarain’s soul went and looked.
    There is nothing about diapers, formulas, pediatrics, and the like. Which is to say, nothing about caring for babies, except warnings against “fake clinics which are anti-abortion”.

    Among the interesting bits of information are:
    “# our biological sex — male, female, or intersex
    “# our gender — being a girl, boy, woman, man, or transgender.

    Intersex? Transgender?

    Where is the neuter gender?

  • In the end the decision of abortion must be left to the individual. Only a pregnant woman can make the decision to have or not to have a child.
    For society to mandate that she give birth to a child she can not afford or does not wish to raise is nothing but another government enforced unfunded mandate that Conservatives are so quick to condemn.
    Better for everyone to make their own decision on this matter.
    We do, after all, live in a democracy.

  • “In the end the decision of abortion must be left to the individual.”

    There are two individuals involved in any abortion, and the individual whose life is at stake doesn’t get to decide anything.

WE ARE AT WAR

Thursday, April 30, AD 2009

bishop-robert-finn

Hattip to Catholic Key BlogBishop Robert W. Finn gave an address at the 2009 Gospel of Life Convention on April 18, 2009 that deserves to be read by every Catholic in this country.  He is blunt, forceful and truthful, qualities that have too often been in short supply among bishops in this country over the last four decades.  Here is the text of his address:

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Mary Ann Glendon

Tuesday, April 28, AD 2009

mary-ann-glendon

Mary Ann Glendon, Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard, is in the limelight now for her decision to deprive Jenkins of his fig-leaf over his invitation to honor Obama on May 17, 2009.  I am not surprised by this development.  She has long been an eloquent defender of the unborn in a completely hostile environment.  She has written many articles on the subject.

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16 Responses to Mary Ann Glendon

  • I was glad to see her remind Jenkins that his first reponsibility was to honor the graduates and not turn their special day into some three-ring travesty of the Lincoln-Douglas debates. Glendon made good use of her teaching moment, whether or not the lesson was received.

  • A great woman with integrity, wit and eloquence.

    I hear the position’s still open for an ambassador to the Vatican? 😉

  • Glendon is awesome. BTW, looks like Notre Dame is having a REALLY tough time finding a replacement:

    http://southbend.craigslist.org/evg/1143896969.html

  • A beautiful woman – inside and out.

  • South Bender,

    That’s hilarious.

  • I am not a catholic, am very pro life and I wanted to let her know I am so excited to see someone with their beliefs and principles stand up against notre dame for honoring Prez Obama/ it is so wrong for the school to honor a man who has none of the same views of life.. breaking Gods heart im sure!

    thank you for your courage Ms Glendon!

  • An observation:
    Ever notice that the bravest people speaking out against the excesses of Islam are women? Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Nonie Darwish, Brigitte Gabriel are a few. The same can be said about the pro-life cause. It’s a beautiful thing.

  • Mary Ann Glendon for Vatican ambassador? Been there, done that 🙂

  • Bishop D’Arcy has suspended Fr. Jenkins faculties a divinis. He is forbidden to say mass, hear confession, preach or in any way address the Catholics residing in his diocese. This is nuclear option.

  • Matt, according to American Papist this suspension rumor is merely an e-mail hoax:

    http://www.americanpapist.com/2009/04/dispelled-email-rumor-claims-fr-jenkins.html

  • That’s crazy, the Director of Pro-life at the diocese sent it to me. It’s a shame if it turns out as a hoax.

  • First rule of the internet Matt: just because we wish something to be true does not make it true.

  • Thanks Donald, I’m sure a wise man like you never makes this kind of error.

  • Not often, but when I do I own up to it and resolve not to make that stupid blunder again.

  • I have the highest regards for Mrs. Glendon and applaud her decision. The rewards that this woman will have someday will make the Lataere Medal look like a peanut. God bless her.

  • Kudos to Mary Ann Glendon! It’s wonderful to see that there are still at least a few people who are willing to stand up for their morals and God’s Law and refuse to follow the lemmings over the cliff. While Fr. Jenkins has not rescinded his decision to “honor” President Obama at ND’s commencement, he will hopefully get that “knot in his stomach” when it actually happens and he realizes what he has done in spite of the best advice in the world to recant. How can an educated and practicing Catholic, a teacher at an iconic Catholic University, simply ignore the counsel of the entire Council of Catholic Bishops and others, such as Mrs. Glendon and hundreds of thousands of Catholics, who have tried to pint out the error of his decision? Hopefully, for Fr. Jenkins’ sake, God will not look on this as “scandalizing his little ones”!

What does honoring Obama with a law degree communicate about our view of law and morality?

Tuesday, March 31, AD 2009

Over at New Catholic, Mark Stricherz expresses his doubts about the ‘dialogue model’ of engagement with culture, as mounted by some in defense of Obama’s appearance at Notre Dame:

But the dialogue model can’t, doesn’t, and shouldn’t entirely govern Catholic universities (and again, all universities). In exceptional cases, it breaks down. Surely these cases are absolute moral issues: torture, slavery, genocide, racial segregation, and yes, violence against pre-natal life (abortion, embryonic stem cell research, and cloning). Universities have little to learn from politicians who support such intrinsic evil. What exactly would Notre Dame have learned from, say, Stephen A. Douglas in the 19th century about domestic policy or Dick Cheney in 2009 about foreign policy? Would Douglas and Cheney have changed their mind about slavery and torture?

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15 Responses to What does honoring Obama with a law degree communicate about our view of law and morality?

  • In answer to the titular question of this post, it seems obvious to me that this honor communicates — and is intended to communicate — that no moral, religious or political position is so offensive, evil or outrageous that we wouldn’t be willing to hear from a President who held that position.

  • Paul,

    we wouldn’t be willing to hear from a President who held that position

    hear from? I think awarding an honor goes far beyond “hearing from”, you don’t?

  • “What does honoring Obama with a law degree communicate about our view of law and morality?”

    To be quite blunt it means that the powers that be at Notre Dame, at best, don’t give a damn about the fight against abortion.

  • “What does honoring Obama with a law degree communicate about our view of law and morality?”

    That sucking up to power is an overriding goal.

  • As proof of the utter failure of the honorary degree = dialogue hypothesis, consider this: none of the Presidents honored by Notre Dame changed their views so much as a jot or tittle.

    Jenkins and the University are flattering themselves. Good luck pulling a rabbit out this time, Bullwinkle.

  • none of the Presidents honored by Notre Dame changed their views so much as a jot or tittle.

    Well, I don’t think we can say that a dialogue wasn’t successful simply because the participants didn’t change their views. It’s pretty rare for anyone in public life to change their position on an issue of importance, and it’s difficult to take them seriously even if they claim they have (see, e.g., Romney, Mitt).

    A dialogue does, however, involve an exchange of views. And there’s little to reason to think that granting an honorary degree and a role as commencement speaker involves an exchange of views, rather than a platform for Obama.

  • I’m referring to what Professor Appleby and Father Hesburgh have said:

    http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/30/obama-visit-to-notre-dame-provokes-debate/?hp

    Prof. Appleby: Mr. Appleby, the history professor, said the long-range goal of such a discussion with Mr. Obama would be “to change hearts and minds” and move the country “toward a culture of life” that opposes abortion and embryonic stem-cell research and allows medical workers who oppose abortion rights to opt out of participating in certain procedures.

    “The question is, how can one who is so good and so insightful and so poised on issues of human dignity and human rights — how can that same person not engage fully and seriously in a debate on unborn life?” Mr. Appleby said.

    Fr. Hesburgh: “No speaker who has ever come to Notre Dame has changed the University. We are who we are. But, quite often, the very fact of being here has changed the speaker.

    Again, in light of the stated aims, ND’s batting average in such things is .000. What makes them think Obama will be any different? Given his contemptuous statements on embryonic stem cells, the odds are to small to be meaningfully calculated.

  • Appleby:how can one who is so good and so insightful and so poised on issues of human dignity and human rights

    Is he joking???? It is clear that those who oppose the rights and dignity of the most vulnerable can not be trusted with any issue regarding human dignity and rights. Obama’s perspective of dignity is entirely different from the Catholic one.

  • Notre Dame, since the days of Father Hesburgh, has had far less impact on the World, than the World has had on it. Hesburgh isn’t an idiot, he realizes and supports this. His words are just so much flab-jab to help the current powers that be get through a rough patch among Catholics who actually believe in what the Church teaches in regard to abortion, instead of laughing at it behind closed doors at academic conferences at Notre Dame.

  • To be quite blunt it means that the powers that be at Notre Dame, at best, don’t give a damn about the fight against abortion.

    I’d like to take this opportunity to remind the Catholic Americans here of this blog’s comment policy:

    I will not exaggerate others’ beliefs nor make unfounded prejudicial assumptions based on labels, categories, or stereotypes. I will always extend the benefit of the doubt. (Ephesians 4:29)

    Donald, you seem to have failed.

  • As in so many, many things Catholic Anarchist, we will have to agree to disagree.

  • I think granting an honorary law degree to President Obama is a gesture of an “honor” for speaking which is a common practice. It is honoring him with a degree at the level which he has already earned, as he graduated from Harvard Law. Most importantly, it shows a separation from the role of belief and a “fight against abortion” to support the continuation of a tradition that has held for I believe over 24 years of inviting the President of the United States. This invitation is given with the recognition of position and accomplishment, regardless of belief or political party, to speak at a University known for teaching intelligent students, to see the world through understanding and knowledge. Both of which require listening to and debating issues with the brightest minds not only of whom you agree with, but more importantly those you disagree with, to find wisdom and depth beyond initial judgment. This especially goes for highly religious students, who seek temperance and tolerance as foundational ideals in a world of chaos and hatred.

  • Alexander,

    regardless of belief or political party

    or violent action against the unborn.

    listening to and debating issues

    There will be none of that in this case.

  • As I said before, if this is simply a gesture of an “honor” that Obama deserves, then might as well grant the same honor to Hitler as well for having successfully resurrected a Germany that had been reduced to ashes after WWI.

    Of course, you would have to ignore the fact that he had wanted to exterminate an entire race of people now would you?

    Yet, there will be those who would find this analogy inappropriate — after all, Obama’s fiercely global pro-abortion policies have little or really nothing to do with the extermination of people but babies.

    Unborn babies hardly qualify — as even certain Catholics themselves here would attest to, in fact.

    So, Hail Obama and, yes, Hail (or rather Heil) Hitler!

"Dads Protecting Daughters" Facebook Cause

Monday, March 30, AD 2009

I wanted to announce that I just started a Cause on Facebook- “Dads Protecting Daughters”. I include below the extended information about the Cause. I would welcome an expansion of this to go well beyond the Facebook orbit. Please feel free to comment:

I am a dynamic, orthodox Catholic who teaches high school, I’ve run for public office, I have lived in many countries. As a Christian convert I know the world quite well. I understand the challenge of overcoming the dominant Playboy/false feminism group think. I believe in an ecumenical Christian movement potential to stand up for our children before they are thrown to the wolves in our society.

The enemy is not one thing, it is a thousand ideas all of which are contrary to the dignity of human life. Strip clubs, abortion clinics, pornography, degrading music lyrics, divorce, contraception and endless marketing using base sexual instincts- all of these are manifestations of the cultural rot we are leaving for our children to live in.

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11 Responses to "Dads Protecting Daughters" Facebook Cause

  • Nice intention, Mr. S. But what pray tell would you like us to do?

  • Gerard- I hope I am not hearing sarcasm in your comment- but in any case- like I say in my note- the enemy is a thousand ideas that currently dominate our culture and socio-political structures. There are so many good ideas- like encouraging and helping Catholic dads to run for political office- like organizing KOC types to get out and protest in front of strip clubs and adult entertainment businesses. We can always lobby our political and business leaders to bring moral views into the marketplace. We can expose the smut, we can encourage one another to evangelize caring but unaware dads- are girls having their dads meet with their dates before going out at night? What happened to that tradition? I’m going to be insisting on this one- but I dated a lot in my younger years and I never went through this simple step- and that was a shame. This kind of thing is really up to fathers to get their act together. We need to combine the best of all the movements out there like Promise Keepers and the rest, but with a Catholic theological understanding of just what divorce means, what contraception does to relationships and to the health of women.

    I can see so much to discuss and to organize- but there has to be a segment of profound, concerned Catholic dads out there to get something going on a lasting and national/global basis. If anyone knows of similar public movements I would like to connect with them- God Bless, Tim Shipe

  • This is a resource for Catholic Dads:

    http://www.dads.org/

    I’m not sure what the organization does exactly; I only know it exists. I hope it in some way helps.

  • Nice intention, but I would like to add a word of caution. From my personal experience, I felt that my Catholic parents worried so much about me as a teenager that it actually drove me to rebel against their control and my faith, driving me away from the Church for some years. There’s a fine line between guiding a child and controlling them (making choices for them) that ought not be crossed. I feel that Catholic parents should make sure to instill good faith and morals in their children, but must acknowledge that they will not always be at their child’s side, and thus prepare the child to make the right choices themselves.

  • Hat tip Eric! I just checked out Dads.org and signed up for their newsletter and wrote them an email to encourage some mutual networking- I’m going to post that site at the Cause page- great stuff- I know there a whole lot of Catholic and Christian papas’ out there who are feeling isolated and outnumbered- we need to get Lobby strength without selling out or becoming corrupt in our central mission- not to over-control our children, but set the conditions for them to have Love and Truth in their lives without being constantly challenged by the mass culture in which they are being raised.

  • Good luck raising a “tough” son. I’ll say a rosary that he turns out like a sweet-hearted little Rambo.

  • I don’t know how much interest this would be to others, but I once took a course called the “Psychology of Religion.”

    I thought it was a very fascinating class and I was thinking of doing some posts on contemporary psychological findings on human religious experience.

    Relevant to this post, I have found a particular statistic very fascinating in regard to “religious training and development.” In fact, the findings of such studies are actually testified to by many of my friends as well as myself:

    1. If two parents are both religious, more often than not, their child turns out to be less religious, if not at all — a myriad of factors go into this, e.g. the growing phenomenon of single parent households, how the parents present their faith, etc., but the trend itself is constant — more end up less religious than others, though the margin is not alarmingly large.

    2. If two parents are both non-religious, their child is more likely to grow up to be more religious, if not very religious. I have found this of all the findings to be more true of most of my friends than any of the others.

    3. If only the mother is religious, the child is more likely to share religious belief, or lack thereof, with the father. If only the father is religious, again, the child is likely to share religious belief with the father. Therefore, studies show that fathers have a more influential role in terms of shaping the religiousness of their children.

    I can look up the studies if anyone is interested.

  • No sarcasm meant. Just puzzled. Clearer now. Thanks.

  • Glad to hear it Gerard- it was that “pray tell” line that had me wondering- it is often used in a sarcastic sense.

    Please check out the Facebook Cause if you are on Facebook- and join up and contribute ideas- I just had Norma Mccovey- the Roe of Roe v. Wade sign up for the Cause- I am inviting more than just Catholic dads- though I do want to bring these fathers together to draw up some plans of attack on the dominant anti-child, anti-woman, anti-human culture.

  • Good luck to you, but Jose’s experience was also mine. My parents were devout and very overprotective of me when I was a teen, and I rebelled and left the Church for a very long time. Yet, what can one do? Simply kow-tow to the culture and put your 16 year daughter on the Pill, because “everyone” is having sex at that age? I am not a parent, and sympathize greatly with the dilemma they face these days. I would agree with Jose about the fine line between guiding and controlling. At any rate, I wish you well. Looking back, there are many things I wish I had done differently and much false conventional ie secular (feminist) “wisdom” that I am sorry I heeded when I was younger and more naive. Now that I’m nearing 50, I realize more and more how right my parents were about many things. I wish I had known it at 18.

  • Donna- You know it is a requirement of the Catholic faith to educate your children and nurture them to be Catholics- so there isn’t any way out of that even if we wanted. I think that combining the faith demands with loads of affectionate love may be the best combination approach- and it is what my wife are attempting in our home- we’ll see how it turns out! But the Facebook Cause is really more about taking on the larger culture and political structures- that is the spiritual environment that is outside my home and is something I liken to thick, polluted air. And just like with air pollution, there are causes and there are things the citizenry can do about it. This is what I want to focus on with the Cause. There are more than a thousand bad ideas in the mainstream culture right now, and there are plenty of targets for our righteous intervention- so if you are up for a good and holy fight- I’m hoping this Cause will attract such types of Can-do Christians. Check it out on Facebook. God Bless, Tim Shipe