Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Off the Grid . . .

For the remainder of Holy Week I will be outside the walls of the Cyber-City in rural Wyoming leading a Holy Week retreat at Wyoming Catholic College.

I wish all a most blessed Holy Week and Joyful Easter.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Back to the Trojan Horse "Czars"

As incredible as it seems, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chief Diversity Officer Mark Lloyd spoke admiringly -- ON CAMERA -- about Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez's "incredible ... democratic revolution," going on to praise Chavez for taking "very seriously the media in his country." Bear in mind this is an Federal Communications Commission appointee, in charge of "'diversity" of all things.

Last week Chavez demonstrated how seriously he takes the media by arresting more of his opponents in the press. Associated Press reported:
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Friday defended the arrest of a major TV channel owner, calling him a criminal and denying the government is carrying out an assault on press freedom.

The back-to-back arrests this week of two government opponents - including the owner of Venezuela's only remaining anti-Chavez TV channel - have drawn accusations that Chavez is growing increasingly intolerant and authoritarian as his popular support has slipped.

Opposition leaders and human rights groups condemned Thursday's arrest of Globovision's owner Guillermo Zuloaga, who was detained at an airport and released hours later after a judge issued an order barring him from leaving the country.

Zuloaga is accused of spreading false information and insulting the president at an Inter American Press Association meeting in Aruba last weekend, Attorney General Luisa Ortega said.
But Mr. Obama has seen fit to appoint Mr. Lloyd to the FCC, the same Mr. Lloyd who had these words of praise for our hemisphere's most in-your-face, anti-American, pro-Iranian tyrant:

The list of monumental insults to the American voters grows by the day.

Source here.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Catholic Ballast for the Ship of State

The California philosopher Edward Feser has a fairly long blog post (here) in which he discusses, among other things, the casual use to which even Catholics have lately the words "right" and "rights." If the Eskimos have a dozen words for snow, we Catholics understand the words "right" and "rights" in many complex ways, and Feser admirably outlines them. But what I most wanted to pass along is Feser's very helpful collection of citations (from magisterial sources) of the Church's understanding of subsidiarity.

Not only have we lately been using the words "right" and "rights" rather sloppily, but we have often failed altogether to appreciate the anthropological and social principle of subsidiarity.

There has been a great deal of discussion about the Tea Party Movement, for example, most it by the mainstream media shamefully inaccurate. But the truth seems to be that it is a movement that could use some principled philosophical ballast, and nothing could better provide that, in my view, than the robust Catholic understanding of subsidiarity. Mr. Feser has given us a primer on that subject.

So, with a hat tip to Edward Feser, here are the citations on that subject that he has collected:
As history abundantly proves, it is true that on account of changed conditions many things which were done by small associations in former times cannot be done now save by large associations. Still, that most weighty principle, which cannot be set aside or changed, remains fixed and unshaken in social philosophy: Just as it is gravely wrong to take from individuals what they can accomplish by their own initiative and industry and give it to the community, so also it is an injustice and at the same time a grave evil and disturbance of right order to assign to a greater and higher association what lesser and subordinate organizations can do. For every social activity ought of its very nature to furnish help to the members of the body social, and never destroy and absorb them. (Pius XI, Quadragesimo Anno 79)

Neither the State nor any society must ever substitute itself for the initiative and responsibility of individuals and of intermediate communities at the level on which they can function, nor must they take away the room necessary for their freedom. Hence the Church's social doctrine is opposed to all forms of collectivism. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Libertatis Conscientia 73)

By intervening directly and depriving society of its responsibility, the Social Assistance State leads to a loss of human energies and an inordinate increase of public agencies, which are dominated more by bureaucratic ways of thinking than by concern for serving their clients, and which are accompanied by an enormous increase in spending. In fact, it would appear that needs are best understood and satisfied by people who are closest to them and who act as neighbours to those in need. (John Paul II, Centesimus Annus 48)

Experience shows that the denial of subsidiarity, or its limitation in the name of an alleged democratization or equality of all members of society, limits and sometimes even destroys the spirit of freedom and initiative… An absent or insufficient recognition of private initiative — in economic matters also — and the failure to recognize its public function, contribute to the undermining of the principle of subsidiarity, as monopolies do as well. (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church 187)

Various circumstances may make it advisable that the State step in to supply certain functions… In light of the principle of subsidiarity, however, this institutional substitution must not continue any longer than is absolutely necessary, since justification for such intervention is found only in the exceptional nature of the situation. (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church 188)
Since the principle of subsidiarity raises the question as to what is, after all, the institution at the center of the concentric circles of institutions that are progressively more remote from the person and therefore to be given power over the person with increasing degrees of hesitation?

The Church's answer to this question is, of course, the family, and, again, Mr. Feser has gathered a number of relevant texts:
Inasmuch as the domestic household is antecedent, as well in idea as in fact, to the gathering of men into a community, the family must necessarily have rights and duties which are prior to those of the community, and founded more immediately in nature. If the citizens, if the families on entering into association and fellowship, were to experience hindrance in a commonwealth instead of help, and were to find their rights attacked instead of being upheld, society would rightly be an object of detestation rather than of desire. (Leo XIII, Rerum Novarum 13)

The Church considers the family as the first natural society, with underived rights that are proper to it, and places it at the centre of social life. (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church 211)

A society built on a family scale is the best guarantee against drifting off course into individualism or collectivism, because within the family the person is always at the centre of attention as an end and never as a means. (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church 213)

The priority of the family over society and over the State must be affirmed… The family, then, does not exist for society or the State, but society and the State exist for the family. Every social model that intends to serve the good of man must not overlook the centrality and social responsibility of the family. In their relationship to the family, society and the State are seriously obligated to observe the principle of subsidiarity. In virtue of this principle, public authorities may not take away from the family tasks which it can accomplish well by itself or in free association with other families. (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church 214)
In the debate that has only just begun about the nature of our common life together as heirs of both the Judeo-Christian tradition and the political genius of the Founding Fathers, much more use should be made of these two principles -- the family and subsidiarity -- which the Church has long regarded as anthropological bedrock.

Hat Tip as well to Carl Olson at Ignatius Insight.

For those in the SF Bay Area . . .

Good Friday 11th Annual Way of the Cross
From Coit Tower to the National Shrine of St. Francis of Assisi
and the steps of the Porziuncola Nuova
San Francisco, California
April 2, 2010, from 9:00 AM to 10:30 AM
The Christian Good News responds positively to man’s thirst for justice. What then is the justice of Christ? Above all, it is the justice that comes from grace, where it is not man who makes amends, heals himself and others. Conversion to Christ ultimately means this: to exit the illusion of self‐sufficiency in order to discover and accept one’s own need‐ the need of others and God, the need of His forgiveness and His friendship. -- Benedict XVI
This is the point: God was moved by our nothingness. Not only that. God was moved by our betrayal, by our crude, forgetful, and treacherous poverty, by our pettiness. Like a father and mother who cry with emotion, a cry that is totally determined by the desire for the child’s good, the child’s destiny. It’s compassion, pity, passion. He had pity on me. -- Luigi Giussani
Procession begins at Coit Tower and proceeds through the historic North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco, concluding for the Final Station at Porziuncola Nuova , 624 Vallejo St, San Francisco, CA

For detailed information go here.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Pompom Media's Papal Piñata

Pope Benedict XVI
I leave early this week for Wyoming, where I will be leading a Holy Week retreat at the Wyoming Catholic College. So, in the interest of time, I am putting what I regard as the proper perspective on the media's predictable attack on Benedict XVI into one long blogpost.

To say that I trust Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI more than I do the New York Times is a massive understatement. I have not kept up with the flurry of articles pouring out of the predictably hostile media about the Vatican and the sexual (mostly homosexual, let's not forget) abuse scandals. The pope who took decisive action early in his pontificate to prevent such abuse in the future by declaring that those suffering from persistent same-sex attraction were not to be considered candidates for the priesthood is hardly someone we might suspect of being an accessory to the abuses he has fought for decades to eliminate.

Be that as it may, below are a few things that should be placed on the record. Here, for example, is what Damian Thompson has to say about the topic in the London Telegraph:
There is still no good evidence that Pope Benedict XVI is seriously implicated in the atrocious child abuse scandals that are – rightly – blackening the reputation of the institutions of the Catholic Church. But still the attempts to join the dots continue. To put it bluntly, there is an increasingly frantic media campaign against the Pope in which headlines are being written first and then facts shaved to fit them.
It is also clear that many prominent liberal Catholics are turning a blind eye to this media vendetta because they don’t like Pope Benedict. They are happy for him to take the rap for diocesan cover-ups initiated, in some cases, by liberal prelates. Those relates are grateful for the opportunity to pass the buck to the one man who, though his record on this matter is certainly not beyond criticism, has done more than any other to rectify the Church’s lax procedures – Joseph Ratzinger.
And, writing as well for the London Telegraph, here is what Andrew Brown as to say:
I read the coverage of the Pope every day in the newspapers and listen to the BBC news and as a Catholic and a journalist I feel like crying out pathetically: “This is not fair!” And it isn’t fair, or reasonable. Intelligent journalists who are normally capable of mental subtlety and of coping with complexities have abandoned their critical faculties. There is an atmosphere of unreason.
I cannot help feeling that a lot of it is down to sheer, blind hatred. It amounts to the demonisation of a whole institution and its leader. We have come to a stage where nothing good whatever, no good faith can be assumed of anybody involved in the Church – however senior, however greatly respected, loved, admired, including the Pope.
Finally, here is Fr. Raymond de Souza setting the record straight in a letter to the New York Times:
The New York Times on March 25 accused Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, of intervening to prevent a priest, Father Lawrence Murphy, from facing penalties for cases of sexual abuse of minors.

The story is false. It is unsupported by its own documentation. Indeed, it gives every indication of being part of a coordinated campaign against Pope Benedict, rather than responsible journalism.

Before addressing the false substance of the story, the following circumstances are worthy of note:

 • The New York Times story had two sources. First, lawyers who currently have a civil suit pending against the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. One of the lawyers, Jeffrey Anderson, also has cases in the United States Supreme Court pending against the Holy See. He has a direct financial interest in the matter being reported.

 • The second source was Archbishop Rembert Weakland, retired archbishop of Milwaukee. He is the most discredited and disgraced bishop in the United States, widely known for mishandling sexual-abuse cases during his tenure, and guilty of using $450,000 of archdiocesan funds to pay hush money to a former homosexual lover who was blackmailing him. Archbishop Weakland had responsibility for the Father Murphy case between 1977 and 1998, when Father Murphy died. He has long been embittered that his maladministration of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee earned him the disfavor of Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, long before it was revealed that he had used parishioners’ money to pay off his clandestine lover.  He is prima facie not a reliable source.

 • Laurie Goodstein, the author of the New York Times story, has a recent history with Archbishop Weakland.  Last year, upon the release of the disgraced archbishop’s autobiography, she wrote an unusually sympathetic story that buried all the most serious allegations against him (New York Times, May 14, 2009).

 • A demonstration took place in Rome on Friday, coinciding with the publication of the New York Times story. One might ask how American activists would happen to be in Rome distributing the very documents referred to that day in the New York Times. The appearance here is one of a coordinated campaign, rather than disinterested reporting.

It’s possible that bad sources could still provide the truth. But compromised sources scream out for greater scrutiny. Instead of greater scrutiny of the original story, however, news editors the world over simply parroted the New York Times piece. Which leads us the more fundamental problem: The story is not true, according to its own documentation.

The New York Times made available on its own website the supporting documentation for the story. In those documents, Cardinal Ratzinger himself does not take any of the decisions that allegedly frustrated the trial. Letters are addressed to him; responses come from his deputy. Even leaving that aside, though, the gravamen of the charge — that Cardinal Ratzinger’s office impeded some investigation — is proven utterly false.

The documents show that the canonical trial or penal process against Father Murphy was never stopped by anyone. In fact, it was only abandoned days before Father Murphy died. Cardinal Ratzinger never took a decision in the case, according to the documents. His deputy, Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, suggested, given that Father Murphy was in failing health and a canonical trial is a complicated matter, that more expeditious means be used to remove him from all ministry.

To repeat: The charge that Cardinal Ratzinger did anything wrong is unsupported by the documentation on which the story was based. He does not appear in the record as taking any decision. His office, in the person of his deputy, Archbishop Bertone, agreed that there should be full canonical trial. When it became apparent that Father Murphy was in failing health, Archbishop Bertone suggested more expeditious means of removing him from any ministry.

Furthermore, under canon law at the time, the principal responsibility for sexual-abuse cases lay with the local bishop. Archbishop Weakland had from 1977 onwards the responsibility of administering penalties to Father Murphy. He did nothing until 1996. It was at that point that Cardinal Ratzinger’s office became involved, and it subsequently did nothing to impede the local process.

The New York Times flatly got the story wrong, according to its own evidence. Readers may want to speculate on why.

Here is the relevant timeline, drawn from the documents the New York Times posted on its own website.

5 May 1974
Abuse by Father Lawrence Murphy is alleged by a former student at St. John’s School for the Deaf in Milwaukee. In fact, accusations against Father Murphy go back more than a decade.

12 September 1974
Father Murphy is granted an official “temporary sick leave” from St. John’s School for the Deaf. He leaves Milwaukee and moves to northern Wisconsin, in the Diocese of Superior, where he lives in a family home with his mother. He has no official assignment from this point until his death in 1998. He does not return to live in Milwaukee. No canonical penalties are pursued against him.

9 July 1980
Officials in the Diocese of Superior write to officials in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee about what ministry Father Murphy might undertake in Superior. Archbishop Rembert Weakland, archbishop of Milwaukee since 1977, has been consulted and says it would be unwise to have Father Murphy return to ministry with the deaf community. There is no indication that Archbishop Weakland foresees any other measures to be taken in the case.

17 July 1996
More than 20 years after the original abuse allegations, Archbishop Weakland writes to Cardinal Ratzinger, claiming that he has only just discovered that Father Murphy’s sexual abuse involved the sacrament of confession — a still more serious canonical crime. The allegations about the abuse of the sacrament of confession were in the original 1974 allegations. Weakland has been archbishop of Milwaukee by this point for 19 years.

It should be noted that for sexual-abuse charges, Archbishop Weakland could have proceeded against Father Murphy at any time. The matter of solicitation in the sacrament of confession required notifying Rome, but that too could have been done as early as the 1970s.

10 September 1996
Father Murphy is notified that a canonical trial will proceed against him. Until 2001, the local bishop had authority to proceed in such trials. The Archdiocese of Milwaukee is now beginning the trial. It is noteworthy that at this point, no reply has been received from Rome indicating that Archbishop Weakland knew he had that authority to proceed.

24 March 1997
Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, Cardinal Ratzinger’s deputy at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, advises a canonical trial against Father Murphy.

14 May 1997
Archbishop Weakland writes to Archbishop Bertone to say that the penal process against Father Murphy has been launched, and notes that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has advised him to proceed even though the statute of limitations has expired. In fact, there is no statute of limitations for solicitation in the sacrament of confession.

Throughout the rest of 1997 the preparatory phases of penal process or canonical trial is underway. On 5 January 1998 the Tribunal of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee says that an expedited trial should be concluded within a few months.

12 January 1998
Father Murphy, now less than eight months away from his death, appeals to Cardinal Ratzinger that, given his frail health, he be allowed to live out his days in peace.

6 April 1998
Archbishop Bertone, noting the frail health of Father Murphy and that there have been no new charges in almost 25 years, recommends using pastoral measures to ensure Father Murphy has no ministry, but without the full burden of a penal process. It is only a suggestion, as the local bishop retains control.

13 May 1998
The Bishop of Superior, where the process has been transferred to and where Father Murphy has lived since 1974, rejects the suggestion for pastoral measures. Formal pre-trial proceedings begin on 15 May 1998, continuing the process already begun with the notification that had been issued in September 1996.

30 May 1998
Archbishop Weakland, who is in Rome, meets with officials at the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, including Archbishop Bertone but not including Cardinal Ratzinger, to discuss the case. The penal process is ongoing. No decision taken to stop it, but given the difficulties of a trial after 25 years, other options are explored that would more quickly remove Father Murphy from ministry.

19 August 1998
Archbishop Weakland writes that he has halted the canonical trial and penal process against Father Murphy and has immediately begun the process to remove him from ministry — a quicker option.

21 August 1998
Father Murphy dies. His family defies the orders of Archbishop Weakland for a discreet funeral
HT: Creative Minority Report

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Goldman uncensored . . .

David Goldman, senior editor at First Things, aka "Spengler" in his brilliant pieces for Asian Times, was apparently not in the mood for fence-sitting when he wrote his March 26 piece for his First Things blog:
For the first time in history the barbarians have breached the citadel; to have Barack Obama in the White House is the cultural equivalent of electing Madonna to the papacy. America, the source of a civil religion that held together the world’s only remaining superpower, is committed to its own self-demolition. Nihilists around the world are in a triumphant mood and believe that it is time to mop up the remnants of their enemies everywhere.
Goldman is a sophisticated man of extraordinary learning and strong opinions. Nor has he been uncritical of our president and recent developments, but these words suggest a man who has been rudely awakened to a situation even more alarming than previously imagined.

"The Enervating Comforts of the Welfare State"

The emphasis should be on the adjective: enervating. For the comforts will be short lived and mostly imagined, and they will be accompanied by a sudden, precipitous drop in international security as the world is overtaken by widespread proliferation of nuclear weapons with no institution willing or able to do anything to prevent it.

Rich Lowry of the National Review:
It’s appropriate that Netanyahu came to Washington for his ritual humiliation — don’t let the side door of the White House hit you on the way out — simultaneous with the passage of health-care reform. The Europeanization of American domestic policy will proceed in tandem with — and eventually compel — the Europeanization of American foreign policy.

Like the Europeans, Obama is adopting the Arab narrative of the Middle East, wherein Israeli perfidy is responsible for all that ails the region. . . .

The Europeans congratulate themselves on the realism of their “evenhandedness.” But it is the realpolitik of weakness. It heaps scorn on an embattled outpost of the West while appeasing the terror states and tin-pot dictators that assail it.
Of this sort of "evenhandedness" it could be said what has been aptly said of the Nietzschean idea of outgrowing the tedious, bourgeois distinction between good and evil. Namely: that all experiments in living beyond good and evil end up in evil.

Lowry concludes:
Our global influence will recede as we — like the Europeans — sink into the enervating comforts of the welfare state.
Welcome to the kind of hope and change that those even glancingly familiar Barack Obama's ideological history could have predicted in 2008, but from which the pom-pom media and most of the electorate decided to aver its eyes.

The European-styled socialism with which the health care campaigners seemed so enamored was possible because the U.S. provided and paid for the international security apparatus that allowed Europeans to divert defense spending to expensive entitlement programs. (Programs which had precisely the enervating effect on their recipients that Lowry mentions.)

But when we become Europeans there will be no one keeping the thugs from running amok, thereby allowing us to enjoy our enervating comforts. The inevitable result will be a world -- much like a drug-infested neighborhood the police lack the manpower to patrol -- in which the enemies of freedom and civilization, awash in Middle Eastern oil and besotted with rage, will begin to operate with impunity. 

Perhaps we voters should have taken a closer look last November.  To add that this administration has done everything in its power to expand abortion-on-demand might seem an afterthought, but, in fact, it is just another feature of the ideology that is being force-fed to the American people.

I take no satisfaction whatsoever in posting blog entries like this, as was true in the fall of 2008, when I made as strong a case as I could for the obvious fact that -- his occasional dissimulation notwithstanding -- Mr. Obama was a pro-abortion ideologue. Then as now, I feel that it would be irresponsible not to do what little one can to warn others that if we do not change course we will surely end up where we're headed. In that case, our children and their children will pay a very, very high price for the short-lived and largely imaginary "enervating comforts" by which we were seduced.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Don't miss this . . .

Source here

Universal Health Care

This is what "joining the rest of the industrial world" looks like at close range:

HT: Pajamas Media

Responsible Broadcasting . . .

Occasionally, not having a television is a handicap. Diogenes over at "Off the Record" caught such a moment.
Did you watch the women's figure-skating competition at the Winter Olympics? If you did, you saw the eventual champion, Kim Yu-Na, perform a flawless program. You also saw her warm up, talk to her coach, wave to the crowd, wait for her scores… You saw quite a bit of Kim Yu-Na.

But here's something that you didn't see, if you watched the Olympics on American television. When she took the ice for her long program, with the whole world watching, Kim Yu-Na made the Sign of the Cross.

NBC edited those few seconds out of the American telecast. To save time, I guess, so that we'd have another chance to watch the crowd applauding. 
One can't be too careful about these things. After all, children might be watching. Cut to a Viagra commercial or something.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Audacity of Arrogance . . .

Binyamin Netanyahu humiliated
after Barack Obama 'dumped him for dinner'

For a head of government to visit the White House and not pose for photographers is rare. For a key ally to be left to his own devices while the President withdraws to have dinner in private was, until this week, unheard of. Yet that is how Binyamin Netanyahu was treated by President Obama on Tuesday night, according to Israeli reports on a trip viewed in Jerusalem as a humiliation.

After failing to extract a written promise of concessions on settlements, Mr Obama walked out of his meeting with Mr Netanyahu but invited him to stay at the White House, consult with advisers and “let me know if there is anything new”, a US congressman, who spoke to the Prime Minister, said.

It was awful,” the congressman said. One Israeli newspaper called the meeting “a hazing in stages”, poisoned by such mistrust that the Israeli delegation eventually left rather than risk being eavesdropped on a White House telephone line. Another said that the Prime Minister had received “the treatment reserved for the President of Equatorial Guinea”.
Thus reports the Times of London. (HT: Robert Spencer)

All Americans should be ashamed of this willful insult to the leader of a nation against which the entire Islamic world has arrayed itself, and whose enemies will take Obama's treatment of Netanyahu as a signal that Israel no longer has reliable U.S. support. This from the president who reverts to diplomatic niceties when "negotiating" with Iranian mullahs and the thuggish psychopath who does their bidding. Our president has fallen all over himself trying to ingratiate himself to some of the most notorious tyrants of our time, apologizing as he goes for America's sundry sins.

To my mind, it is a day to feel deep remorse. At the same time, it is, I fear, a harbinger of things yet to come.

No comment . . .


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Executive Order? . . .

Seeing the larger picture

"The new elites of promiscuous power insist that the old Father/Son aesthetics of spiritual authority have suffered therapeutic murder. An entirely profane creature is the new-born sun/son. Man wills to create himself; and then re-create himself, at will. That way lies the will to destruction." -- Philip Rieff

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Writing from our nation's capitol . . .

Sometimes you do live to see it. In my book America Alone, I point out that, to a five-year-old boy waving his flag as Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee procession marched down the Mall in 1897, it would have been inconceivable that by the time of his 80th birthday the greatest empire the world had ever known would have shriveled to an economically moribund strike-bound socialist slough of despond, one in which (stop me if this sounds familiar) the government ran the hospitals, the automobile industry, and much of the housing stock, and, partly as a consequence thereof, had permanent high unemployment and confiscatory tax rates that drove its best talents to seek refuge abroad.
That's Mark Steyn's lede in today's article in National Review Online. The little boy in his story was the future historian Arnold Toynbee. Steyn continues:
Permanence is an illusion — and you would be surprised at how fast mighty nations can be entirely transformed. But, more important, national decline is psychological — and therefore what matters is accepting the psychology of decline. . . .

Is America set for decline? It’s been a grand run. The country’s been the leading economic power since it overtook Britain in the 1880s. That’s impressive. Nevertheless, over the course of that century and a quarter, Detroit went from the world’s industrial powerhouse to an urban wasteland, and the once-golden state of California atrophied into a land of government run by the government for the government. What happens when the policies that brought ruin to Detroit and sclerosis to California become the basis for the nation at large? Strictly on the numbers, the United States is in the express lane to Declinistan: unsustainable entitlements, the remorseless governmentalization of the economy and individual liberty, and a centralization of power that will cripple a nation of this size. Decline is the way to bet. But what will ensure it is if the American people accept decline as a price worth paying for European social democracy. . . .
Steyn concludes:
 . . . as Charles Krauthammer said recently, “decline is a choice.” The Democrats are offering it to the American people, and a certain proportion of them seem minded to accept. Enough to make decline inevitable? To return to the young schoolboy on his uncle’s shoulders watching the Queen-Empress’s jubilee, in the words of Arnold Toynbee: “Civilizations die from suicide, not from murder.”
Don't miss the whole piece here.

The kind of dialogue we need . . .

However the health care fiasco plays out, there remain other issues. Here's an example of the kind of conversation we should be having.

Part I:

Part II:

Catholic Catechism: Faith - Personal/Ecclesial

Faith is a personal act -- the free response of the human person to the initiative of God who reveals himself. But faith is not an isolated act. No one can believe alone, just as no one can live alone. You have not given yourself faith as you have not given yourself life. The believer has received faith from others and should hand it on to others. Our love for Jesus and for our neighbor impels us to speak to others about our faith. Each believer is thus a link in the great chain of believers. I cannot believe without being carried by the faith of others, and by my faith I help support others in the faith. [166]

Monday, March 22, 2010

I'm still a Rubicon

In linking to Victor Davis Hanson's post-Obamacare victory column entitled: "We've Crossed the Rubicon," let me say that his title inspires me to revive and re-present the proposal I made over three years ago (here) for a new kind of conservative: not a theo-con, not a neo-con, but a rubicon:
A rubicon is someone who realizes that a decisive turning point has occurred and that a return to the status quo ante is no longer possible. A rubicon, therefore, will not indulge in a nostalgic reverie about the restoration of the ancien régime; rather he knows that the responsibility he has to pass on a vibrant tradition will have to be met in new ways and in the context of a new historical and cultural situation.

A rubicon is someone who has little interest in politics and little appetite for the culture wars. He is, by distasteful necessity, a draftee in the struggle to preserve the foundations of civil order and to remain faithful to religious principle. Once in the lists, however, he does his best to hold his ground as faithfully as he can.

Moreover, the rubicon realizes, belatedly, that those who have opened this breach with the tradition he cherishes will not be satisfied with the concessions which seemed at first to be the goal of their assault. A rubicon is someone who wakes up one fine day only to realize that that state has decided that his children must be systematically disabused of the moral principles by which he lives and which he has taken pains to pass on to them. A rubicon is someone who realizes, again belatedly, that his culture is under a serious assault from enemies within and without, and that the historical success and momentary preeminence of the culture built on Judeo-Christian foundations does not in any way guarantee that it will emerge triumphant from the present challenge.

2. But there is another implication in the term rubicon, more etymologically fanciful but in some sense even more defining. A rubicon is someone who realizes, either intuitively or by bitter experience, that the burning heart of the tradition that nurtures everything he holds dear is ultimately liturgical. A rubicon is someone, therefore, who has come to a deep appreciation for rubrics, whether they are the liturgical rubrics of Christian sacramental life or the traditional constitutional rubrics of political liberalism which are currently being twisted in knots by domestic postmodern apparatchiks and mocked by the West's external enemies, whose fascist tendencies are daily more in evidence. Of these rubrics, of course, the true blue rubicon will always and everywhere give his primary attention to the liturgical rubrics, that red-letter essence of Christian worship which is the true font of the bounty enjoyed by those cultures fortunate enough to have been hosts to these liturgies.

We have stepped onto the path of inevitable decline.

Where Were You When the Republic Died?

That's the question Lincoln biographer Matt Patterson is asking this morning. The situation is even more disheartening than Patterson's account assumes, since he doesn't even mention the greatest tragedy of all: the tax-payer funding for the killing of innocent babies in the womb, which is in the bill and immune to "executive orders," which are in any case reversible at the whim of the most pro-abortion president in history.

Patterson writes:
In November 2008, Americans elected a socialist as their president.  In March 2010, they woke up stunned to find themselves living in a socialist country.

Health insurers - once private companies - are now organs of the federal government.  Every citizen is a ward of the state, which can now compel you to have insurance; punish you if you don't; determine if your insurance is acceptable; punish you if it isn't.  Thousands of new federal bureaucrats will soon spill from the D.C. Beltway and flood the country, scrutinizing our finances to verify compliance with this new law. 

A government that grants itself this kind of power over us can conceivably do anything to us.  For our own good, of course.   Such a country is in no meaningful sense "free."

And this is only the beginning.  Liberals are salivating in contemplation of all the fanciful window trimmings that can in the future be hung from this legislative framework.  Public option will soon appear as prelude to single payer, as was the intent all along.  Soon, Americans won't even have the illusion of a choice - the government will move from subsidizer to provider, and it will be the only game in town.

So what's next? 
Patterson runs through a catalog of possible but unlikely remedies before concluding:
The worst part of watching the proceedings unfold on Sunday was the endless stream of commentators and pundits calmly discussing this bill as if it were just one more piece of bad legislation we will have to live under.  In fact, what has transpired is nothing less than an overthrow of the old Constitutional order.

In 1776, the American Republic boldly announced its birth with the Declaration of Independence.  In 2010, it quietly expired with a declaration of dependence - on government, on entitlement, and on the Democratic party.
There is more pessimism (previously posted) here, but a glimmer of hope expressed by the National Review Editorial board here, including this:
It is quite possible that the majority of America that rejects this legislation will get its way in the next few years — if it is given the right leadership. And it is worth the effort to try.
But for the moment, the feeling of sadness and regret dominates. Let's pray that in this season of Lenten repentance the remorse many of us feel will gradually awaken in us the determination to persevere on behalf of our children's children -- born and unborn.

The Chamberlain Moment

H.T. CatholicVoteAction

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Mark Steyn's Response

Happy Dependence Day! 

Well, it seems to be in the bag now. I try to be a sunny the-glass-is-one-sixteenth-full kinda guy, but it's hard to overestimate the magnitude of what the Democrats have accomplished. Whatever is in the bill is an intermediate stage: As the graph posted earlier shows, the governmentalization of health care will accelerate, private insurers will no longer be free to be "insurers" in any meaningful sense of that term (i.e, evaluators of risk), and once that's clear we'll be on the fast track to Obama's desired destination of single payer as a fait accomplis.

If Barack Obama does nothing else in his term in office, this will make him one of the most consequential presidents in history. It's a huge transformative event in Americans' view of themselves and of the role of government.  You can say, oh, well, the polls show most people opposed to it, but, if that mattered, the Dems wouldn't be doing what they're doing. Their bet is that it can't be undone, and that over time, as I've been saying for years now, governmentalized health care not only changes the relationship of the citizen to the state but the very character of the people. As I wrote in NR recently, there's plenty of evidence to support that from Britain, Canada and elsewhere.

More prosaically, it's also unaffordable. That's why one of the first things that middle-rank powers abandon once they go down this road is a global military capability. If you take the view that the US is an imperialist aggressor, congratulations: You can cease worrying. But, if you think that America has been the ultimate guarantor of the post-war global order, it's less cheery. Five years from now, just as in Canada and Europe two generations ago, we'll be getting used to announcements of defense cuts to prop up the unsustainable costs of big government at home. And, as the superpower retrenches, America's enemies will be quick to scent opportunity.

Longer wait times, fewer doctors, more bureaucracy, massive IRS expansion, explosive debt, the end of the Pax Americana, and global Armageddon. Must try to look on the bright side...
From National Review Online -- The Corner 

The Bishops Respond . . .

Statement from the Bishops:
We’ve consulted with legal experts on the specific idea of resolving the abortion funding problems in the Senate bill through executive order. We know Members have been looking into this in good faith, in the hope of limiting the damage done by abortion provisions in the bill. We believe, however, that it would not be fair to withhold what our conclusion was, as it may help members in assessing the options before them:

“One proposal to address the serious problem in the Senate health care bill on abortion funding, specifically the direct appropriating of new funds that bypass the Hyde amendment, is to have the President issue an executive order against using these funds for abortion. Unfortunately, this proposal does not begin to address the problem, which arises from decades of federal appellate rulings that apply the principles of Roe v. Wade to federal health legislation. According to these rulings, such health legislation creates a statutory requirement for abortion funding, unless Congress clearly forbids such funding. That is why the Hyde amendment was needed in 1976, to stop Medicaid from funding 300,000 abortions a year. The statutory mandate construed by the courts would override any executive order or regulation. This is the unanimous view of our legal advisors and of the experts we have consulted on abortion jurisprudence. Only a change in the law enacted by Congress, not an executive order, can begin to address this very serious problem in the legislation.”

Richard Doerflinger
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

This just in from Bill Saunders

Democrats' EO offer shows Obamacare does fund abortion

By: William Saunders -- March 21, 2010

After months of insisting that health care reform does not and will not include federal funding for abortion, President Obama is now considering issuing an executive order, after passage of the health care reform bill, that will state that the legislation does not include funding for abortion.

However, if the bill excludes federal funding for abortion, why is an executive order necessary?

The answer, of course, is that President Obama and the Democratic leadership know that the Senate health care reform bill includes subsidies for insurance plans that cover abortions, could possibly lead to abortion coverage mandates for insurance companies, and does not prevent other funds in the legislation from directly paying for abortions.

The question then becomes, can an executive order correct all of the abortion-related problems in the bill?

The answer is a resounding no. While a carefully worded executive order might be able to take care of some of the mandate concerns, it cannot correct all of the abortion-related problems with the bill. A statute cannot be undone by an executive order or regulation. For example, an Executive Order cannot prevent insurance plans that pay for abortions and participate in the newly-created exchanges from receiving federal subsidies, because this allowance is explicitly written in the bill.

The fact that statutes cannot be overridden by executive orders or regulations has been repeatedly affirmed by the United States Supreme Court. In 2006, the Supreme Court struck down an executive order issued by President Bush to invoke military commission jurisdiction over Hamdan because Congress had impliedly prohibited this action. Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, 548 U.S. 557, 579-80 (2006).

Further, Executive Orders can be undone or modified as quickly as they are created. In spite of the fact that the American people overwhelmingly do not want to see their tax dollars go toward abortion, we continue to see restrictions on federal funding for abortions reduced to executive orders, appropriations riders, and regulations. The majority of Americans want to see a prohibition on federal funding for abortion included in permanent, statutory law.

Congress failed to deliver a statutory prohibition on abortion funding in health care reform, and an executive order cannot do the job.

William Saunders is senior vice president of legal affairs for Americans United for Life Action.

This just in from Charmaine Yoest

Dear Friend of Life,

I am writing to you from inside the US Capitol building. And I wanted to give you an update and also tell you about a special last-minute need for action.

Tension is high here in the buildup to tonight's vote. As I write I can hear protestors outside. You may have heard the news reports that some pro-life Members of Congress are being offered a “deal” from the White House on health care reform legislation. That is true. In exchange for a “yes” vote on this bill, President Obama promises to issue an executive order that he claims will address our concerns about taxpayer funding for abortion.

Let me be clear, this will not prevent taxpayer-funded abortion.

Here is a statement I made to members of the press.
Here is detailed legal analysis from Senior AUL Action attorney Bill Saunders from today’s Washington Examiner.
Bill is a friend of mine with whom I will have dinner on Tuesday in Washington. He and Americans United for Life have played an absolutely critical role in championing the cause of life in the face of great and powerful opposition and one gimmick and ruse after another from the administration and the House leadership. If you want to know what is actually taking place in Washington on the life issues, AUL is a reliable place to turn and a good cause to support.

The Best Catholic Overview Yet

Kyle-Anne Shiver has the best overview of the Obamacare debacle from a Catholic perspective that I have yet seen. It deserves to be read in its entirety. Regardless of what happens in Washington today, I encourage you to read her article and to click on the option at the bottom of the article and email it to friends.

Apropos the prior post below, Shiver writes:
According to AP reports, “Catholic nuns are urging Congress to pass President Barack Obama’s health care plan, in an unusual public break with bishops who say it would subsidize abortion.”  Reportedly, 60 leaders of religious orders sent lawmakers a letter pleading with them to pass the Senate healthcare bill.

The AP clearly has not noticed the virtual ongoing war within the Catholic Church, especially with regards to government responsibility as opposed to private/church responsibility.  In no sphere is this internal war more evident than when it comes to matters involving the Church’s Doctrine on Social Justice.

The Doctrines on Social Justice are, perhaps, the most misunderstood and lied-about facets of the Catholic faith.  Just about everyone in public life, including even the majority of Catholics themselves, completely ignore the fundamentals of Social Justice teaching.  They summarily conclude that Social Justice is a synonym for socialist redistributive policies, which seek to equalize material outcomes for all.  I call this the Kumbayah Fallacy.

These nuns have fallen hook, line and sinker for the Kumbayah Fallacy.  Right along with all the liberation theologians, who have shamefully wrapped Marxist doctrine around the cross of Christ for decades.

This mingling of socialism with Christianity makes a diabolical mockery of the Church’s genuine Social Doctrine, as delineated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  In fact, the Catholic Church explicitly rebukes all forms of “communism” and “socialism” right there in plain sight in the Catechism.  While the Church also condemns completely unfettered capitalism, with no regulations whatsoever, She saves most condemnation for the Marxist doctrines, which attempt to regulate the economy “solely by centralized planners,” as this “perverts the basis of social bonds” between human beings.
Shiver concludes:
It is a sad commentary on our times, when even Catholics of high standing do not know enough about their own faith to stand up for it in the public square.  Supporting Obamacare, and the piece-by-piece destruction of the finest medical system ever created,  is an affront to the doctrine of Social Justice.  It will prove a nightmare, not only for Americans, but for the whole world.
I encourage you to read the whole piece here and forward copies to friends.

The shell game continues . . .

Aside from the other weighty issues in this short exchange, it begins with a depressingly predictable example of how this administration and the Democratic party and its media sympathizers play dissident Catholics off against the American bishops. As I said in an earlier post, the Obama administration has taken every opportunity to drive a wedge into the American Church precisely by 1.) making these two groups appear as moral and theological equals, and 2.) by making the dissidents appear to be more "reasonable." Neither of these claims could be further from the truth.

The Time of "the Hour" . . . Lenten Reflections

Daniel Cardinal DiNardo:

We are early Christians . . .

Romano Guardini:
It really should be self-evident that an existence of such unthinkable depths and immeasurable proportions could never be completely portrayed by any one artist, not even by the greatest genius. It must take shape gradually. Little by little the eye penetrates the darkness of the mystery, uncovering increasingly richer treasure. The longer Christian experience lasts, the more complete Christ's image will become. The more practiced the mind and the better trained by attacks of the enemy, the broader, bolder, clearer its recognition will be.
This, of course, is no recipe for pride and the neglect of tradition. Quite the contrary, it is the ultimate reason why the Christian canon is necessarily closed, so that the journey into its mystery might be sustained. I have often said that, if you are genuinely thirsty and not just out to test your skills as a water-witch, it's better to drill one well a hundred feet deep than to drill ten, ten feet deep each. The closed canon and the tradition to which it has given rise -- preserved in the magisterium of the Church -- is what guarantees and underwrites the ongoing exploration into the mystery of Christ which is the work of faith.

As Hans Urs von Balthasar puts it:
The sacraments are there only to ensure that the act of redemption — the cross, Resurrection, and Pentecost — remains ever-present and never sinks to the level of a mere memory.  Authority is there lest the Christian content himself with mediocre ideals … Dogma is there only to prevent faith veering to right or left of the mysterium.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Just for the fun of it . . .

I'm working on Philip Rieff, or he's working on me. Anyway, his prose (if that's the name for it) is littered with intentionally convoluted passages by which Rieff tries to weed out his readers, and against which I have had to fortify myself. It's very slow going, but once you're on to him, it becomes less off-putting. Re-reading one of Rieff's books tonight, I came upon the passage below and decided to share it with you in case you might find it as delightfully and devilishly wonderful as I do.

We all need at least a momentary break from the madness in Washington, DC.

The passage below occurs in a section of Rieff's book Charisma: The Gift of Grace, and How It Has Been Taken Away from Us in which he analyzes the great sociologist Max Weber's treatment of charisma. According to Rieff, Weber reads the charismatic upside down, as a transgressive rather than as a restorer of what Rieff calls the "interdictory order." The agility with which Weber accomplishes this, Rieff asserts, "may be hidden behind the awesome never-ending waves of post-Protestant Germanic erudition, drawing the poor student swimmer, himself traditionless and directionless, in a vast 'heterogeneity' of charisma."
"Heterogeneity" is the modernist voraciousness intellectualized, its ultimate refinement, harmless only as it remains buried in a historical sociology so erudite that it remains all but indigestible to the modernist reader, who is completely beyond all continuities of learnedness. Weber's learnedness serves to protect most of his young readers from the total subversiveness of his theory of culture.
And then, as a bonus thrown in, he adds a few lines later:
Western society [is now] infected by fee-collecting swarms of academy-debased "prophets," every one of them hawking a therapy that, in their aggregate, leaves nothing in which we need to disbelieve.
It's hardly surprising to find that one of Reiff's last books, written shortly before his death in 2006, was entitled, My Life in the Deathworks.

I'm just enjoying this man's genius as part of my Saturday evening entertainment. Thought I would pass it along for what it's worth.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Women Religious Faithful to Church Teaching

The other award, this time for both fidelity and moral coherence, goes to The Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious for their witness:
“In a March 15th statement, Cardinal Francis George, OMI, of Chicago, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, spoke on behalf of the United States bishops in opposition to the Senate’s version of the health care legislation under consideration because of its expansion of abortion funding and its lack of adequate provision for conscience protection,” the nuns’ statement noted. “Recent statements from groups like Network, the Catholic Health Association and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) directly oppose the Catholic Church’s position on critical issues of health care reform.”

Unlike the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious is known for its fidelity to the Church’s Magisterium.

“Protection of life and freedom of conscience are central to morally responsible judgment,” the CMSWR statement concluded. “We join the bishops in seeking ethically sound legislation.
Thank you sisters for that. 

HT: Catholic World News

We have a winner . . .

... a winner that is of the "Doug Kmiec Award" for 2010.

It's Sr. Carol Keehan, president of the Catholic Health Association, for giving political cover to a bill that will open the door to federal funding of abortion while mocking the American Catholic bishops and contributing to the division within the American Church, all after spending a few no doubt scintillating moments in the presence of our charming president.

From his speech at Notre Dame to this very moment, Mr. Obama has diligently striven to divide the American Catholic Church and to make those dissenting from its teachings seem as legitimately Catholic as those who adhere to these teachings. His election depended on the success of this strategy, and the success of his political agenda depends on it. Second only to the pom-pom media, the "Catholic" enablers of this agenda, from Speaker Pelosi on down, have betrayed the faith they purport to believe.

The runner up this year is the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, not so much for their leadership as for their drearily predictable cheer-leadership of yet another cause incompatible with Church teachings.

Here's how LifeSiteNews reports the story:
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs revealed to reporters today that President Barack Obama actively promoted the Catholic Health Association's public break with the American Catholic bishops to support his health care legislation.
Gibbs also suggested that the CHA and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious' (LCWR) break with the U.S. Bishops has provided legitimate political cover for pro-life Democrats to switch their votes from "no" to "yes."

"I think over the past twenty four hours we have seen strong indications from those in the Catholic Church that support our belief that the legislation is about health care reform, and that it shouldn't and doesn't change the existing federal law [on abortion]. The Catholic Health Association and the order of nun's support is very important," Gibbs told reporters on the White House lawn for Thursday's press conference.

CHA president Sr. Carol Keehan and LCWR sparked an uproar this week after they came out definitively in favor of the Senate health care bill, which top pro-life organizations such as the National Right to Life Committee and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in addition to countless others, have strongly condemned as unacceptable for its abortion funding provisions. Since then, in their quest to woo the final pro-life Democrat holdouts among House lawmakers, party leaders have attempted to paint CHA's support for the bill as a bona fide endorsement from the Catholic community.

So far, the president's strategy appears to have paid off: some lawmakers have evidently already taken the two groups' endorsements as an excuse to switch their vote. 

The Audacity of Hype . . .

It was once fashionably cute to say: "Don't mess with mother nature." Our trendy affinity for sundry features of a "green" ideology notwithstanding, we don't say that much anymore; perhaps because those once fond of the slogan are those who today have no scruples about messing with mother nature in the most egregious way: abortion on demand.

Be that as it may, there is a sequel to the old slogan which is certainly timely: Don't mess with the long-revered political documents upon which our society has always depended for its sense of common purpose, chief among them the Constitution.

Our society is today suffering from a very deep and very substantive moral and political divide. If, under the circumstances, we tamper recklessly with the political documents that have served to unite us for 230 years, we risk opening a chasm in our political life which could easily grow so wide and so contentious that we may not have enough of a shared sense of history and purpose to heal the breach and prevent social disintegration of the gravest kind.

With that in mind, here's a reminder from Jonah Goldberg, editor-at-large of National Review Online and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute:
The Constitution is not a coupon insert in your local paper, brimming with all sorts of giveaways and two-for-one deals. The Constitution and the Bill of Rights delineate what the government cannot do, not what it can. What was so fantastic and revolutionary about that is that for the first time in history, a nation was founded on the proposition that the government should mind its own business. Believing that doesn’t make you a fascist, it makes you a patriot. (my italic emphasis)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Sunset for Multicultural Sentimentality?

Rubin Rubin offers this:
A frustrated pro-democracy reader from a Muslim-majority country asks me: “Do we have to explain that the Earth is round to any idiot who says it is flat? Or do we have to hold a rational argument about the evils of cannibalism with someone who practices it?”

What bothers him are the frequent articles I must write stating the “obvious,” things like radical Islamist forces aren’t about to moderate; too much of the Western world is missing the obvious threats; that it's wrong and dangerous to indoctrinate people in Western countries to be hostile to their own countries, viewing their histories as shameful; and much of what occupies our media and universities regarding international politics is rubbish.

If stoning people, mutilating little girls, and forcing children to wed while still in grade school can be regarded as acceptable cultural practices simply because they are carried out by societies where we don't live, it has become necessary--even, sad to say, courageous--to talk about these things.

Dangling the Latest Phylacteries

Theodore Dalrymple, the nom de plume of British physician now living in France, is always amusing and insightful. Here's a recent example:
Quite often these days I receive emails asking me to consider the environment before I print them. They are quite right of course: my study is already horribly littered even without print-outs of more emails.

But this, I suspect, is not at all what they mean: they mean the Environment with a capital E, in the Mother Earth, Gaia, or Pachamama sense of the word, a sense that always makes me feel slightly queasy, as Wagnerian opera does. If people really care about the environment, why don’t they campaign against rock music in public places, a vastly greater threat to civilization than a mere rise in global temperature and sea levels could ever be.

Now that you’ve got me going on the subject of contemporary sanctimony, how about this for a provocation? I received today an email from a very large and successful form of lawyers asking me for my opinion in a medico-legal case. Appended to the email (after the obligatory bit about the environment, the whales, the dolphins, and the worms) was the following nauseating statement:
Out partnership is committed to eliminating discrimination and promoting equality and diversity in its own policies and procedures. This applies to the firm’s dealings with employees, clients and other third parties.
. . . Let us remind ourselves that a statement such as the one attached to the lawyers’ email did not get there spontaneously; someone, and quite possibly some committee, had to write it and decree that it should be appended to all the emails that the company sent. Indeed it probably took many sessions over breakfast or lunch to hammer it out.

What, actually, does it mean? Does it mean, for example, that the lady who cleans the offices at night after the partners have gone home, will henceforth be paid the same as the partners, that is to say hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars a year, because of their commitment to equality? Good luck for her if so, but I suspect not. Does it mean, either, that when someone applies for a job the firm will take no notice whatever of the person’s past record of achievement and ability, and will not discriminate in favor of an applicant with superior ability? Again, I suspect not; I would certainly hope not if I were a client of the firm’s.
The rest of the short piece is here.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Roe v. Wade Redivivus . . .

This today from Charmaine Yoest, President of Americans United for Life:
We're teetering on the precipice of the greatest tragedy since
Roe v. Wade.

In the next few days, under the guise of "health care" reform, President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, and Senator Reid - with the help of Planned Parenthood - could pass the largest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade ... and your tax dollars could be paying for it.

If they win, 2010 will be remembered as another 1973 - another milestone in their battle to promote abortion on every street corner in America.

Setting the Pom-Poms aside for a moment . . .

. . . or maybe it is the stirring of journalistic impulses . . .

Playing Chicago politics in a dangerous neighborhood

Over at the the First Things blog David Goldman has a typically insightful look at the lopsided Obama policy with regard to Israel and the Arab world, including this:
The United States responded to Ahmadinejad’s Afghan visit by paying obeisance to Iran’s influence. “The future of Afghanistan has a regional dimension and we hope that Iran will play a more constructive role in Afghanistan in the future,” said US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley. He added in the past, the US and Iran have “cooperated constructively” and hoped that they would do so again, given that Iran has “a legitimate interest in the future of Afghanistan”.
In response, the Americans get things like this:
Ahmadinejad: “(The Americans) want to dominate the region but they feel Iran and Syria are preventing that. We tell them that instead of interfering in the region’s affairs, to pack their things and leave.”
Picking a public fight with Israel at this moment is not likely to have been merely coincidental. That the Israelis might be taking Ahmadinejad at his word about wiping out Israel as soon as Iran has the (nuclear) capacity to do so may be troubling to us all, but what should be most troubling about it is not Israel's concern but the mullahs' seriousness of purpose.

“Activist groups utilizing coercive tactics”

Who would have thought that the same people who purred so gently about "tolerance" and "diversity" would turn to coercive tactics? My goodness. It sounds like . . . let's see . . . Chicago politics . . . the thumb-screw room in Speaker Pelosi's office . . .

But coercive tactics by
the members of the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists who support the gay lifestyle is what Dr. Trayce Hansen is reporting. 

Kathleen Gilbert of LifeSiteNews has the story:
Abandoning its long-held neutrality on the marriage debate, the California Association of Marriage and Family Therapists (CAMFT) has slowly come to disavow pro-family views and sexual orientation therapy as "homophobic." Instead it now warmly supports homosexuality as a "normal and positive" variant of sexuality -- all thanks to pressure by gay activists who have openly vowed to transform the organization from within.

The disturbing result of the activists' tactics, says one anonymous CAMFT intern, is that pro-family therapists in California are becoming increasingly afraid to speak up in favor of natural marriage and the family.
Not even neutrality is not allowed, much less anything resembling anthropological coherence:
CAMFT, one of the largest therapist associations in California with over 30,000 members, had maintained a broadly neutral stance on same-sex "marriage" for most of its existence. But in the run-up to California's vote on Proposition 8 banning same-sex "marriage" in November 2008, CAMFT's neutrality began drawing unfriendly attention. Gay activists pointed out that organizations such as the American Psychological Association, the California Psychological Association, and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, had all come out in support of deconstructing the legal definition of marriage.

After Proposition 8 passed, the Los Angeles psychotherapist group Larchmont Associates launched the first major salvo against CAMFT: a petition threatening to cut ties with the association if they did not oppose Prop 8 in an amicus brief. Meanwhile, Antioch University Los Angeles and Phillips Graduate Institute also encouraged students and faculty of psychology programs to shun CAMFT over the issue.

In a January 2009 letter to Larchmont and Antioch University activists, CAMFT executive director Mary Riemersma wrote that advocating for same-sex ‘marriage’ "is not CAMFT's purpose," and expressed consternation at the "bullying" tactics used to push the issue.

"Our Board was troubled by your 'bullying' tactics and threats to abandon your involvement in the Association because the Board chooses to take a course different than you demand," Riemersma wrote.

"And while the Board understands that each of you can and will make your own decisions about your future involvement in CAMFT," she continued, "it is very disturbing that those of you affiliated with Antioch would jeopardize the wellbeing of your students and their future careers by failing to inform them of CAMFT's importance to their careers and the many resources available to them from CAMFT.

"That is not only disheartening, it is in fact frightening." . . .
A CAMFT intern who wished to remain anonymous said that the gay activists' ability to cow pro-family therapists into silence continues to present an enormous hurdle.

"The big problem is that the conservative people are afraid, so nobody's speaking up," the intern told LSN. "Because if you speak up and say, 'I'm opposed to this,' people are afraid, like they're going to boycott you, or come in into your practice, and try to be a test case."

The intern explained that if a therapist publishes his or her stance against providing counseling to gay couples, they leave themselves open to being "set up" by homosexual activists. "The only people who really do speak up are anonymous, and there are very few of even those."

"It's not over," the intern said. "People need to be aware of what's going on, because if nobody speaks up, the momentum's going to keep going."

The intern is co-founder of Therapists Embracing Religious Freedom, a coalition of psychotherapists and their supporters created to fight back against the marginalization of religious conviction by homosexualists in their field.
The whole predicable story is here thanks to California Catholic Daily.

Stop the presses . . . this just in . . .

This amazing headline on CNN:


Disappointingly, it just a story about the rainy weather in Fargo, North Dakota. For a second there I thought the leader of the pom-pom media had recovered its journalistic impulses and was about to spill the beans on the machinations of the Obama administration. For signs of that, the weather related question is: when will hell freeze over?

Forgive me for being snide, but the only way to keep from despairing over the moral and political meltdown in Washington is to have a chuckle or two.

Blame: Bankers, Insurance Companies, "Right-wingers," Israel . . .

. . . but who gets a free ride?

Aaron Goldstein has this to say about the administration's decision to publicly vilify Israel:
Amazing as it would seem, by all appearances the Obama Administration is angrier at Israel for building houses for Jews than it is at Iran for building a nuclear weapon intended to kill Jews. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is undoubtedly grinning from ear to ear. And why shouldn't he? When he and the Mullahs crushed the streets protests after last year's fraudulent Iranian elections; President Obama proclaimed it wasn't America's place to meddle.

Meanwhile, Israel doesn't need to fire a single shot. It doesn't even need to break ground. All Israel had to do was to merely announce plans to build new housing in East Jerusalem and the full force of the Vice President, the Secretary of State and the President's top adviser came crashing down on the Jewish state like stone. All with President Obama's blessing.
Think about that. 

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

If you don't have time for 2700 pages . . .

Thomas Peters passes along a summary of the Obama administration's Health Care bill by Jimmy Bell:
The Senate Health Care Reform Bill spends taxpayer dollars on health care plans that fund abortions, spends $12 billion on Community Health Centers that Planned Parenthood will be eligible for, gives the Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius the right to declare abortion as a pre-existing condition to be covered under every health care plan in the federal exchange under the Mikulski Amendment, eliminates conscience protections for insurance providers, trip-wires the direct funding of abortions to potential expiration, and forces everyone including men and old women to pay at least $1 (to be raised under jurisdiction of Congress) to a fund for “reproductive rights” that will cover 100% of the cost for anyone who gets elective abortions. To say that the Senate Health Care Reform Bill is the greatest expansion of abortion since Roe v. Wade is an understatement.

Recycling a bit of good news . . .

In the blogosphere, recycling is the way it often works. At home I recycle all my glass, paper, plastic, and cans. Since I am not a professional blogger, I tend to recycle items from the blogosphere or internet that I happen upon or that drop into the inbox of my aggregator. Here's one that  bounced off three or four rails to get here:

Bruce Kesler of Maggie's Farm passes along a good summary of Richard Fernandez' excellent Pajamas Media piece on Philip Jenkins article "Third World War," dealing with the appeal of Christianity in the Islamic world and elsewhere. As I have said many times, if the playing field were level -- that is, if Muslims could convert to Christianity without being condemned to death by the former co-religionists -- a flood of conversions would ensue. Fernandez confirms this. Here's Kesler's quick summary.

First, Fernandez’ introduction:
In a process largely unnoticed in the West, billions of people in Asia and Africa have swapped out their indigenous faiths for either Christianity or Islam. And to an even greater astonishment of Western intellectuals most have chosen Christianity. Now the equalization of numbers has caused a fault line to appear through the Third World at about the tenth degree of latitude where the two aggregations face each other “at daggers drawn”.
The word “Christian”, associated in the 19th and 20th centuries with the missionary enterprises of Europe, has now come to mean something different in political terms. Today Christianity is a religion of the Third World. Europeans have largely converted to some soft and watered-down variation of  the West’s only indigenous creed, Marxism, as represented by John Lennon’s “Imagine” song. Christianity can no longer be associated largely with the West.
Now, Jenkins:
Christianity, which a century ago was overwhelmingly the religion of Europe and the Americas, has undertaken a historic advance into Africa and Asia. In 1900, Africa had just 10 million Christians, representing around 10 percent of the continental population. By 2000, that figure had swollen to over 360 million, or 46 percent of the population. Over the course of the 20th century, millions of Africans transferred their allegiance from traditional primal faiths to one of the two great world religions, Christianity or Islam—but they demonstrated an overwhelming preference for the former. Around 40 percent of Africa’s population became Christian, compared to just 10 percent who chose Islam.
The subtitle of Jenkins’ article is “The real showdown between Christians and Muslims isn’t in the Mideast.”  In this article, Jenkins doesn’t get around to one reason why: Christians have been driven out of most of the Middle East, and those who remain live in constant danger.  There are only between 10-12 million native Christians remaining, down from 20% of the population a century ago to 5% now. Last August, Kuwaiti commentator Ahmad Al-Sarraf wrote in the Kuwaiti daily Al-Quabas:
What sustained this stream of enforced emigration [of Christians from the Middle East] is the innumerable incidents of injustice to which local Christian minorities have been constantly subjected, and which in many areas have become routine. Thus, heads of [Christian] communities have been murdered; [Christian] places of worship have been set on fire; [Christian-owned] shops have been plundered; the Christians have been marginalized in their [host] societies, and their lives have been embittered - and this is only a partial list.
HT: After all those bounces, this story came my way thanks to my friend Athos at Chronicles of Atlantis 

Feel free to send it on its way to others.

"Traditional Voting" ... you know, the OLD kind of voting

Diogenes making the obvious point:
Just read the Fox News headline, and you know something fishy is happening:

Pelosi Plan to Pass Health Care Without Traditional Vote Riles Critics

The word that should capture your attention is "traditional." What's a traditional vote? That, we learn, is the kind of vote in which the Yeas and Nays are counted. The Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, is disinclined to have that sort of vote on the health-care reform package, because she probably doesn't have enough Yeas to win passage. So she's considered a non-traditional vote. That's the kind of "vote" in which the Speaker declares that a bill has passed, and sees if she can get away with it.

Pelosi's objective is to gain--by majority vote if possible, by blatant disregard for the democratic process if necessary--House approval of the bill that has already passed the Senate. The logic is that since the House has already approved a bill that was in some ways similar to the Senate bill, she could just announce that the Senate bill has passed, and we can all move on to the next step.

"I like it, because people don't have to vote on the Senate bill," [Pelosi] said.

Right. Voting is such a waste of time, when the Speaker can just make all the decisions by herself.