Yet another demonstration of the fundamental hostility to Christianity that lurks barely beneath the surface in the Obama administration:
Local veterans and volunteer groups accuse Department of Veterans Affairs officials of censoring religious speech — including the word “God” – at Houston National Cemetery.
In one example cited in documents filed this week in federal court, cemetery director Arleen Ocasio reportedly told volunteers with the National Memorial Ladies that they had to stop telling families “God bless you” at funerals and that they had to remove the words “God bless” from condolence cards.
“It’s just unfair that somebody would ask us to take God out of our vocabulary,” said Cheryl Whitfield, founder of Houston National Memorial Ladies.
“I could’ve kept my mouth shut and let things happen, but when it comes to standing up for your belief in God and giving comfort to the families, I don’t want to regret not saying anything,” Whitfield said. “We all had to stand up for what we believe in.”
The new allegations of “religious hostility” by VA and cemetery officials follow on the heels of a controversy over Pastor Scott Rainey’s prayer in Jesus’ name at a Memorial Day service in the cemetery.
U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes ruled May 26 that the government couldn’t stop Rainey from using the words “Jesus Christ” in his invocation. Hughes issued a temporary restraining order to prevent VA from censoring Rainey’s prayer. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
In a January 31 press briefing, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs offered the first acknowledgement from the Obama Administration that the White House wants the Muslim Brotherhood, which spawned both Hamas and Al Qaeda, to have a place at the table as Egypt seeks to form a new government. Meanwhile, there has been continued silence on whether or not the Christians in Egypt should have any voice. Never before has this silence been so deafening as now.
As the Egyptian military launches RPGs against Christian monasteries, there remains no word from President Obama on the basic human rights of Christians. So, too, there remains no reporting in the Western “mainstream media” about these attacks even as Christians have marched to Tahrir Square to request religious freedom. Further, this morning comes news that Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Muhammad Rabaie al-Zawahiri has called for violence against Christians in Egypt. Why does the Obama Administration acknowledge the voice of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt but ignore the voices of Christians, in the midst of this brutal assault? Is it due to incompentence? Or is the Obama Administration more sympathetic to Islamists than to Christians? It’s a question that deserves to be answered clearly.
Nina Shea reports this morning about a letter from an Egyptian friend stating that Al-Qaeda leaderAyman Muhammad Rabaie al-Zawahiri has decided to take a strong leadership role, if you will, regarding Christians in Egyptian society.
Al-Qa’ida’s number two leader . . . Egyptian born Ayman al-Zawahiri has issued (actually yet to be released!!!!) a three-part message commenting on events in Egypt. In his second part of the message series, Zawahiri spends considerable time inciting violence against Coptic Christians and the Coptic Church. Zawahiri stated that Copts were one of the main problems leading to the situation facing Egypt today.
The Washington Post reports that the Egyptian military cabinet, which many who are concerned about radical Islam had hoped would maintain power when Mubarak stepped down, has “reshuffled” its membership. While two of these new members are Coptic Christians, the situation remains fluid as “tens of thousands” of protesters in Tahrir Square are demanding continued “reform” of the military cabinet. Clearly, it is no longer reasonable to give any kind of blanket approval to Egypt’s military cabinet as it is unknown what loyalties will be in the hearts of those who ultimately populate it. Meanwhile, as noted, troops on the ground are wreaking havoc on the Christian community in Egypt. The future of Christians in Egypt appears painfully hopeless in the face of these changes.
It is important to consider that al-Zawahiri is an Egyptian who was trained from his youth in the Muslim Brotherhood. He is the grandson of Rabi’a al-Zawahri, the former grand imam at Cairo’s Al-Azhar University which has been described as the “world’s leading center of Sunni Islamic thought“. Just prior to the Egyptian uprising, the top scholars at Al-Azhar University broke off dialogue with the Vatican in protest of Pope Benedict XVI’s protest of the massacre at Our Lady of Deliverance Church in Alexandria.
In specifically supporting a Muslim Brotherhood presence in Egypt’s government, President Obama has effectively aligned himself with Ayman al-Zawahiri and Al-Qaeda against the Christians of Egypt who are today under continued attack even in the Coptic monasteries. Considering, too, the presence of Muslim Brotherhood front groups right here in America, whose representatives can be found rubbing elbows with the President, making a joint statement for “tolerance” with some of our American Catholic bishops, and continually defended by the President’s leftist political base, how can we not be alarmed?
On January 7, 2010, President Obama said, “We are at war; we are at war with al Qaeda.” Americans certainly understand that we are at war with al Qaeda, but with his offering of support for the Muslim Brotherhood, an ally of Ayman Muhammad Rabaie al-Zawahiri who calls for the murder of Christians, we must ask, does President Obama prefer Al Qaeda to the Christians of Egypt?
We deserve a clear answer to that question.
Obama adviser Valerie Jarett mistook a four star general, in full dress uniform, for a waiter at a party in Washington. Army General Peter Chiarelli got her a glass of wine, and later defended her, saying it was a mistake anyone could have made. Since I don’t work for the President as the General does, I don’t have to be as tactful. It is a mistake that anyone could make who possesses both a huge sense of entitlement and is completely and hopelessly clueless to all things military. I would caution Ms. Jarett not to make the same mistake in regard to anyone dressed like R. Lee Ermey in the clip at the top of this post.
A bit of good news midst the gloom: A federal judge temporarily blocked the Obama administration Monday from using federal dollars to fund expanded human embryonic stem cell research (FoxNews.com).
Jonah Goldberg has put into words what I have been thinking and feeling since the financial meltdown of 2008. We have turned a page and entered a new era in American history. He wonders if, as a result, the political rules have changed.
But what about when the rules change? For nearly a century now, the rules have said that tough economic times make big government more popular. For more than 40 years it has been a rule that environmental disasters — and scares over alleged ones — help environmentalists push tighter regulations. According to the rules, Americans never want to let go of an entitlement once they have it. According to the rules, populism is a force for getting the government to do more, not less. According to the rules, Americans don’t care about the deficit during a recession.
And yet none of these rules seem to be applying; at least not too strongly. Big government seems more unpopular today than ever. The Gulf oil spill should be a Gaiasend for environmentalists, and yet three quarters of the American people oppose Obama’s drilling ban. Sixty percent of likely voters want their newly minted right to health care repealed. Unlike Europe, where protestors take to the streets to save their cushy perks and protect a large welfare state, the Tea Party protestors have been taking to the streets to trim back government.
Go here to read the rest at Townhall. When Obama won election there was much talk among his giddy acolytes in the media that he was the second FDR and that Obama would usher in a Second New Deal. The cover of Time magazine that graces the top of this post is a prime example of the millennial fever that gripped the Left in this country at the beginning of the Obama administration. Now it has all turned to dust and ashes for a large section of the Left. In exchange for years of effort on their part they have an administration that has roused an angry electorate against it. This bemuses the Left since many of them view the Obama administration as a failure because it has been too moderate (Yeah, I do find that hilarious), as noted by Eric Alterman in The Nation: →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
The Justice Department apparently doesn’t think you should have been.
Whistle-blower J. Christian Adams, a career voting rights attorney with the Department of Justice, resigned his position in disgust over the handling of the voter intimidation case brought against the members of the New Black Panther Party featured in the above video:
On the day President Obama was elected, armed men wearing the black berets and jackboots of the New Black Panther Party were stationed at the entrance to a polling place in Philadelphia. They brandished a weapon and intimidated voters and poll watchers. After the election, the Justice Department brought a voter-intimidation case against the New Black Panther Party and those armed thugs. I and other Justice attorneys diligently pursued the case and obtained an entry of default after the defendants ignored the charges. Before a final judgment could be entered in May 2009, our superiors ordered us to dismiss the case.
The New Black Panther case was the simplest and most obvious violation of federal law I saw in my Justice Department career. Because of the corrupt nature of the dismissal, statements falsely characterizing the case and, most of all, indefensible orders for the career attorneys not to comply with lawful subpoenas investigating the dismissal, this month I resigned my position as a Department of Justice (DOJ) attorney.
The federal voter-intimidation statutes we used against the New Black Panthers were enacted because America never realized genuine racial equality in elections. Threats of violence characterized elections from the end of the Civil War until the passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965. Before the Voting Rights Act, blacks seeking the right to vote, and those aiding them, were victims of violence and intimidation. But unlike the Southern legal system, Southern violence did not discriminate. Black voters were slain, as were the white champions of their cause. Some of the bodies were tossed into bogs and in one case in Philadelphia, Miss., they were buried together in an earthen dam.
Based on my firsthand experiences, I believe the dismissal of the Black Panther case was motivated by a lawless hostility toward equal enforcement of the law. Others still within the department share my assessment. The department abetted wrongdoers and abandoned law-abiding citizens victimized by the New Black Panthers. The dismissal raises serious questions about the department’s enforcement neutrality in upcoming midterm elections and the subsequent 2012 presidential election. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Hattip to Allahpundit at Hot Air. Well that didn’t take long. I have discussed here the disastrous interview that Charles Bolden had with Al Jazeera in which he stated that the foremost policy goal of NASA under the Obama administration was to reach out to Muslim nations and raise their self-esteem as to their contributions regarding science, math and engineering.
“When I became the NASA administrator — or before I became the NASA administrator — he charged me with three things. One was he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math, he wanted me to expand our international relationships, and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science … and math and engineering.”
My co-blogger Tito had an excellent follow up post here. Yesterday press flack in chief for the Obama administrator, Robert Gibbs, said flatly that the NASA administrator was wrong about the policy of muslim outreach being NASA’s top priority.
The idea that Bolden misspoke in the interview is risible. Bolden was saying much the same thing back in February regarding outreach to Muslim countries. Blaming Bolden for this is a mistake. This foolish PC policy is clearly a product of the Obama worldview, in which hare-brained political schemes that might sound good at a 3:00 AM liberal campus bull session, lubricated by a lot of beers, have become government policy. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
NASA administrator Charles Bolden in an interview with Al Jazeera, tells us all we really need to know about the Obama administration:
“When I became the NASA administrator — or before I became the NASA administrator — he charged me with three things. One was he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math, he wanted me to expand our international relationships, and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science … and math and engineering.” →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
The greatest blunder of the John Adams administration was the Sedition Act. It inflamed his adversaries and gave color to their accusations that Adams was a tyrant. It is stunning that the same men who had fought in the Revolution and helped to found a new government could have implemented legislation in 1798 which was so blatantly unconstitutional and antithetical to the liberties that they had so bravely fought for. The Act helped destroy the Federalists and assure the success of Jefferson’s Republicans. The text of the Act is as follows:
SECTION 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled. That if any persons shall unlawfully combine or conspire together, with intent to oppose any measure or measures of the government of the United States, which are or shall be directed by proper authority, or to impede the operation of any law of the United States, or to intimidate or prevent any person holding a place or office in or under the government of the United States, from undertaking, performing, or executing his trust or duty: and if any person or persons, with intent as aforesaid, shall counsel, advise, or attempt to procure any insurrection, riot, unlawful assembly, or combination, whether such conspiracy, threatening, counsel, advice, or attempt shall have the proposed effect or not, he or they shall be deemed guilty of a high misdemeanour, and on conviction before any court of the United States having jurisdiction thereof, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding five thousand dollars, and by imprisonment during a term of not less than six months, nor exceeding five years; and further, at the discretion of the court, may be holden to find sureties for his good behaviour, in such sum, and for such time, as the said court may direct.
SECT. 2. And be it further enacted, That if any person shall write, print, utter, or publish, or shall cause or procure to be written, printed, uttered, or published, or shall knowingly and willingly assist or aid in writing, printing, uttering, or publishing any false, scandalous and malicious writing or writings against the government of the United States, or either House of the Congress of the United States, or the President of the United States, with intent to defame the said government, or either House of the said Congress, or the said President, or to bring them, or either of them, into contempt or disrepute; or to excite against them, or either or any of them, the hatred of the good people of the United States, or to stir up sedition within the United States; or to excite any unlawful combinations therein, for opposing or resisting any law of the United States, or any act of the President of the United States, done in pursuance of any such law, or of the powers in him vested by the Constitution of the United States; or to resist, oppose, or defeat any such law or act; or to aid, encourage or abet any hostile designs of any foreign nation against the United States, their people or government, then such person, being thereof convicted before any court of the United States having jurisdiction thereof, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars, and by imprisonment not exceeding two years.
SECT. 3. And be it further enacted and declared, That if any person shall be prosecuted under this act for the writing or publishing any libel aforesaid, it shall be lawful for the defendant, upon the trial of the cause, to give in evidence in his defence, the truth of the matter contained in the publication charged as a libel. And the jury who shall try the cause shall have a right to determine the law and the fact, under the direction of the court, as in other cases.
SECT. 4. And be it further enacted, That this act shall continue and be in force until the third day of March, one thousand eight hundred and one, and no longer: Provided, That the expiration of the act shall not prevent or defeat a prosecution and punishment of any offence against the law, during the time it shall be in force. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
The White House on Friday announced that Dawn Johnsen has withdrawn her nomination by Obama to head of the Office of Legal Counsel. This was after a year during which it became increasingly clear that Republicans in the Senate, joined by some Democrats, would never vote to confirm her, and that the administration lacked the votes to break a filibuster. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
The Founding Fathers left no doubt which freedoms they held most important. They inserted them into the First Amendment to the Constitution. Freedom of speech and of the press come right after freedom of religion. These freedoms, and all the others set forth in the Constitution, are the birthright of all Americans and a precious example to the rest of the world. That is why I am bemused by the manner in which the Obama administration appears to be indifferent to attempts to undermine freedom of speech and of the press at the UN.
“The new resolution, championed by the Obama administration, has a number of disturbing elements. It emphasizes that “the exercise of the right to freedom of expression carries with it special duties and responsibilities . . .” which include taking action against anything meeting the description of “negative racial and religious stereotyping.” It also purports to “recognize . . . the moral and social responsibilities of the media” and supports “the media’s elaboration of voluntary codes of professional ethical conduct” in relation to “combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.”
Dr. Peter Pronovost is a distinguished physician known for his efforts to decrease the frequency of deadly hospital-borne infections. His remedy to the problem is surprisingly simple: a checklist of ICU protocols that directs physician sanitary practices (e.g. hand-washing). Hospitals that have put Pronovost’s checklist into practice have had immediate success, reducing hospital-infection rates somewhere between (estimates vary) well over a third to a whopping two-thirds within the first few months of its adoption. Yet as the story goes, many physicians have rejected this solution and Pronovost has struggled to persuade hospitals to adopt his reform.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that nearly 100,000 American deaths are caused or contributed to by hospital-borne infections. Blood clots following surgery or illness are the leading cause of avertable hospital deaths in the U.S., which by the most liberal estimates might contribute t o the death of almost 200,000 patients annually. Given such a hideous fact, why exactly does a doctor need to travel about and emphatically seek to persuade other medical institutions to adopt, in effect, a cost-free idea that could save so many lives?
How is that an industry which stridently decries the high cost of liability insurance or the absolute injustice of our tort system(which does need reform) need such petitioning to embrace such a simple technique to save thousands of lives? Moreover, in the United States it is not unheard of for a whole business to shut down due a single illness from some suspicious food—yet, we tolerate the killing-via-negligence on such a grand scale in our hospitals? Medical mistakes and institutional carelessness do not qualify as some must-be-accepted inevitability.
This reality has been almost entirely been neglected in the discourse on health care reform. Beyond the structure and financing troubles of our medical system, the institutional practice and governance of hospitals are in need of severe criticism. For example, in what alternate dimension does the peculiar scheduling of hospital work shifts in any way benefit the patient? A few weeks at the hospitals virtually guarantees a never-ending string of new personnel assigned to one patient’s care. If this can be avoided, should it not? It seems quite reasonable to presume that passing patients off from doctor to doctor, or nurse to nurse, might increase the chance of someone making a mistake? The effect of changing such a seemingly small problem could be huge. Or, take for example, the “sanitary” environment of hospitals in general, which contribute to the nearly 100,000 annual American deaths. Anyone who has ever worked in “corporate America” or in a large building in general might note that the trash is picked up once daily. Is it any different in a hospital? It takes some sort intellectual schizophrenia to insist on ICU sterility in a building if one has not the slightest care over how many times trash (never mind what is in it) is picked up in a day.
Any array of complaints about institutional malpractice must lead to the inevitable question: how is it that the most technologically advanced medical institutions in the industrialized world miss out on a just as modern, just as recent, revolution of quality control and customer-service that has pervaded every other consumer-based industry? The answer to this question is telling. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
Health care reform has been at the forefront of the American political discourse in the past few months. One of the most difficult tasks in this debate is to discern an authentically Catholic approach to reform efforts. The Catholic Church takes no official position as to how a health care system ought to be structured, but rather presents enduring moral principles that must be present in public policy.
Adhering to the richness of Catholic social teaching, the ultimate goal for Catholics must be to establish a system that is capable of universal access and coverage for all American citizens, one way or another. Any number of schemes might achieve universal health insurance and preferences will differ based on political philosophy, but the end result seems to be a Catholic moral obligation. In this sense, no Catholic ought to oppose universal health care, if it means achieving coverage for all Americans citizens either through market schemes, government assistance, “third sector” non-profit organizations, co-operatives efforts (co-ops), or some combination of these depending on the social need, the ethical principles at stake, and the resources each solution offers.
Catholic social teaching treats health care as a profound social interest and essential for the common good. Health care, because of this, ought not to be viewed as a mere commodity. The poor and vulnerable, by default, are immediately disadvantaged as health care costs increase. The United States, we are told, has the most technologically advanced and best quality medical care. But, one must inquire: at what cost? Other consumer “goods” are not essential safeguards to the indispensable good of human life in the same way as medical care.
Health care markets that are laissez-faire, an inherently utilitarian mechanism, do not necessarily yield nor are they ordered toward natural justice. Natural law theory is alien to such a mechanism— it is not intrinsic to it, neither is solidarity or preferential option for the poor, though these things are not necessarily excluded by it.
It is self-evident that different spheres of society appropriately employ different standards of distribution. College professors assign grades based on merits of achievement; athletic competition employs the same principle. Parents might distribute slices of cake at a birthday party to strict equality. In the same way, numerical equality governs votes in a democratic society. Food, clothing, shelter, electronic goods, clothing, automobiles, jewelry, etc, receive unequal distribution by market mechanisms—sometimes justly, sometimes not.
Need is one of those principles of distribution (and one of those things often argued about) recognized in some spheres, but not others. Need is terrible for distributing grades, but the proper principle for distributing emergency food supplies. Need, arguably, is a proper principle for the distribution of health care. Health is necessary for a community’s proper functioning. Justice, in terms of health care, will require a redeveloped way of distributing health care based on personal responsibility, collective interest, and legitimate need—the weakest and most vulnerable among us first and foremost.
Many important areas of life must resist “commodification,” at least in the same sense as dispensable goods. This could not be more evident than by the fact that people are becoming commodities to other people. Children are the prime example of this, from abortion to assisted reproduction. Fundamentally, justice demands that we re-examine our consumerism for it is the heart of the issue and I believe, the life-source of the “Culture of Death.” →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading
I was thinking of writing a lengthy piece over lunch, when I wrote up my task list and realized that “lunch” needed to be no more than twenty minutes long. So instead, I present a number of pieces that struck me as interesting lately, but which I don’t have a whole post worth of things to say about.
InsideCatholic just reprinted a lengthy piece by medievalist Sandra Miesel discussing the realities of witch burning in the Middle Ages through “Age of Reason”. It’s an article well worth the time to read, avoiding both the slanders of anti-Catholics and the overly rosy rebuttals used by some apologists.
Entrepreneur Paul Graham has an interesting essay on what an essay should be, why people ought to write them, and how high school English classes do a pretty poor job of teaching people this skill. →']);" class="more-link">Continue reading