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Archive for the ‘Tea Parties and the Constitution’ Category

Just so we’re clear, the Catholic Church is right: contraception is wrong.  It does not reduce abortions; contraception increases abortions.  It does not improve marriages by removing the risk of unwanted children, it destroys marriages.  No, contraception isn’t really contraception all the time: when the Pill fails to prevent ovulation, it prevents implantation of the days-old child by reducing the uterine lining, around 25% of the time.  Which means that women on the Pill, if we assume around a 1/3 chance of pregnancy (conception and successful implantation, the advice given in NFP that “if you haven’t gotten pregnant in three cycles, something might be wrong”), then women on the Pill, especially younger women, generally more fertile and sexually active, may be averaging an abortion a year.  And when the Obama administration says “contraceptive services”, they include post-sex contraceptives, which are large doses of the usual chemicals, which will either prevent ovulation or abort a just-conceived child.

But the issue isn’t really contraception.

I suppose I should start farther back, with Obamacare itself.  The pro-life movement was up in arms, crying that any government takeover of health care would end in taxpayer-funded abortions and contraception.  “Oh, what a bunch of worrywarts!” scoffed most of the bishops and many members of Congress.  In some cases, anti-Obamacare advocates were maligned as “anti-poor”.  We were assured, “Mandatory abortion or contraceptive coverage?  That’ll never happen!”

Well, your Eminences, welcome to the “never” your encouragement of Obamacare has created.

While I’m thrilled to hear that every single Catholic bishop in the U.S., along with a good many Protestant leaders, including people who suppported Obama, have issued statements against the contraception mandate, I’m a bit underwhelmed.  Abortion and contraception have been rampant in this country for decades, and the bishops and priests have largely failed to fight them.  It isn’t a moral triumph to finally acknowledge that you ignored people being killed or maimed after they’re dead.  Better late than never, but better on time.

But back to the mandate.  Contrary to our dying local paper, the problem isn’t that there wasn’t an exemption for houses of worship.  Actual churches would be exempt from the mandate, since they employ and serve almost exclusively people of their own faith.  The problem was that absolutely nobody and nothing else would be exempt.

Our local paper condescendingly allowed that if churches insisted on not paying for contraception for the women who worked in the parish office, fine.  However, the editorial went on, when the churches do “secular work” like taking care of migrants, adoption placements, hospitals, schools, etc., then they weren’t really churches anymore, and, thus, had no right to ask that their religious beliefs be respected.  They have to play by the secular laws when they do secular functions, “reasoned” the editors.  (Which takes us back to the Obama administration’s preference for “freedom of worship” instead of “freedom of religion”.  They aren’t the same thing.)

EWTN is suing the federal government, since they don’t qualify for an exemption, but they are adamantly opposed to contraception in general, and paying for it in particular.  Since the Catholic TV network is not directly controlled by an order or a diocese (there were power struggles with the USCCB trying to claim it, so it went private some time ago, although many members of the board are clergy), it wouldn’t even qualify for consideration of an exemption.  So, while they air programs explaining how contraception destroys marriages and is frequently abortifacient (and therefore murder), they would be required to participate in (i.e. pay for) an insurance program that offers free contraception to EWTN’s employees.  In Catholic moral discussions, we describe this as levels of “cooperation with sin”.  Just because you didn’t choose the evil, if you facilitated or encouraged it, you are still somewhat culpable.

I would note that EWTN has hit the nail on the head, when many bishops have missed a bit.  The problem isn’t that Catholic Charities or your local Catholic school (or any of the Protestant organizations or ministries similarly tied to denominations that do not approve of contraception) shouldn’t be forced to pay for something they don’t believe is moral.  Most bishops are clear that those types of organizations should not be forced to violate their moral principles in order to avoid massive, coercive government fines.

The problem is deeper.  I (and you, by the way), as a normal citizen, would be required to buy health insurance from a company that is mandated to provide certain services that I believe to be deeply immoral.  Today, it’s contraception and the early chemical abortifacients.  What comes tomorrow?

If Obamacare and the latest mandate stand, Catholic social services will shut down across the country.  Schools, hospitals, etc.  The Obama administration already yanked a federal grant for human trafficking assistance, because the USCCB (US Council of Catholic Bishops) office wouldn’t provide abortions to the rape and prostitution victims it rescued (never mind their excellent record of service spanning decades).  A number of local Catholic Charities adoption agencies (and, presumably, a number of other, smaller agencies with similar reservations but less publicity) have closed because they refused to call gay “marriage” a legitimate family arrangement and place children for adoption in such families.  The religious agencies are forced to shut down as unprofessional or anti-regulation, and the government increasingly gets to hand out the goodies of social services.

The alternate allegiance to the church that helped you is shifted to the all-powerful government.

All of this goes to emphasize the brilliance of the foundation of both the Constitution and Catholic social teachings.  In Church documents, we call it subsidiarity: the idea that issues should be dealt with at the lowest level possible, for reasons of efficiency, personal relationships, and proper power and responsibility allocation.  The government was never meant to be the all-powerful, omnipresent force in everybody’s lives that it has become.

Archbishop Chaput, as always, clarifies the problem.  It isn’t, he argues, that this mandate was ill-advised in an election year or poorly thought-out:

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

I’m guardedly optimistic that the USCCB has decided to reconsider what else they’ve supported when they’ve embraced Democratic politicians for their social programs but ignored their other positions.  If we’re only going to defend the rights of religiously affiliated organizations to have conscience protection, though, we’re missing the point again, and we’ll be discussing the next “surprising” anti-Christian piece of regulation shortly.

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7 quick takes sm1 7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 120)

I’m wimping out this week.  I have some scattered thoughts, but they’re all in photos, so I don’t really have to write.  🙂

1.  I took Diva shopping at the thrift store.  (Maybe I won’t be so jinxed because it was cheap; otherwise, she seems to outgrow everything I buy her within two weeks!)  Yes, I bought her slide-on bright orange high heels.  Yes, she isn’t even nine, yet.  DH says I’m getting soft in my old age.  (Notice the shocked boys behind her.)  At least they keep her from running in her church clothes.  (Which was part of her selling points to me on why I should buy them for her.)

2.  Oooh!  Seedlings!  (Better late than never; I started weeks late this year.)  That cute thing is a hedgehog; it’s a medieval watering device.  There’s a hole at the top of the stem and a lot of little holes on the bottom.  Submerge it in a bucket of water until the air is all out, hold the stem ridge in your fingers, and plug the hole with your thumb.  Ta da!  The water stays in until you remove your thumb because the air can’t get in to let the water out, and it’s nice and gentle for seedlings.  Plus, it’s cute and it was on sale. 🙂

3.  Empress just turned four.  She wanted pink, purple, and princess everything.  And she wanted her castle cake to have a garden.  (BTW, the chocolate cake recipe on the Swan’s Down cake flour boxes is really, really crumbly; it’s nearly impossible to ice!)

4.  Couldn’t get the plastic tiara to stay, but we’ve got jewelry and gloves!  She’s fun to do stuff for- she spent the entire day squealing in delight.

5.  Why you should own an art projector, reason #96.  My mom sent an e-mail with this Chinese lady for Empress’s birthday.  I was going to just do the woman, but wound up doing a background.  (Yes, the fish didn’t come out very well.  An excellent example of why I use an art projector instead of freehand most of the time!)

6.  Oh, yeah, I had a birthday, too.  It isn’t quite so exciting at my age, is it?  I couldn’t get the brownie to come out of the pan, so I iced it in place with a nice little garden.  Rice growing in a paddy, beans on trellises, tomatoes growing up stakes, some random herbs, two bales of mulching straw with gardening tools, and some huge pumpkins.

My DH is annoyed, but yes, I made my own cake.  It’s more fun, and it tastes better!

7.  I just realized Crash didn’t make it in, so here’s a great shot of him from Williamsburg over Christmas.  Everyone in the historic district decorates; this one was in the historic district but not one of the buildings that is open to the public.  So, the residents were freer to decorate how they liked: big framed Constitution in one window, eagle cookies hung in the greenery, and a neat interpretation of the “Don’t Tread on Me” flag with the snake made out of a piece of rope and the words spelled in cinnamon sticks.  Very nicely done.

And a row of nicely graphic pouches of tea from the Williamsburg shops over the door.  Just in case you didn’t get the reference.

Go visit Jen at Conversion Diary for more 7 Quick Takes!

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I haven’t commented much on politics for a while.

Frankly, I’m a bit disgusted with the whole thing.

I mean, it isn’t like I expected President Obama to actually keep his word and keep abortion funding out of the crushing new health care program.  Nor do I believe that the current round of backpeddaling actually means my tax dollars won’t fund abortions, just that they’ll be better hidden next time.  (Amend Obamacare, and wait to see what else we didn’t catch in the reams-long legislation?  Heck, no!)

And, of course, as soon as the polls plummeted and people in power felt threatened, it could only be expected that cries of “racism” would proliferate.  Most people, especially those who argue frequently, have a last ditch phrase.  One acquaintance from a Bible study always fell back on, “I’m afraid you’ve been misinformed,” as his argument-ending phrase; he generally had no basis or evidence for the claim and no amount of counter-proof could shift the accusation, because it was really about him being done with the argument.

I was somewhat encouraged by the turnout at the mid-term elections, as well as by some notable losses and wins.  (Ok, Pelosi is still in Congress, but she’s from California.  Were we really surprised?)

I thought the reading of the Constitution at the opening of the 112th Congress was a nice touch.  Doing that at least once a year would probably be a good idea, although they should have read the entire thing.  Just because Whoopi Goldberg yelled at John McCain during his appearance on the View, claiming that all the whacko pro-Constitution types want to reinstate slavery… seriously, can’t we defend against such a stupid attack?  Did we really need to skip the 3/5ths clause and Prohibition?  Can’t we acknowledge our mistakes?  The Constitution was written so that we would have to face our past missteps; amendments do not delete sections that no longer apply (like slavery or Prohibition), they supersede them.

The problem is that we don’t even agree on the basics.

Is America great or evil?  I’m not denying there are moments of each in our history, but, fundamentally, what are we?  If we are the honestly somewhat tarnished but still shining “city on a hill”, then we need to get our act together and be a better example to the world.  If we are now and always have been nasty, racist, greedy, imperialists, well, then, I guess it’d be better to tell Putin we changed our mind and Russia has been declared the winner in the Cold War.  Or ask the UN to please re-do our Constitution; given the UN’s usual choices, Iran should probably re-write the freedom of speech section and maybe China can do the parts on freedom of religion and assembly.

Lately, it seems like the Obama administration is intent not on correcting the course of the ship of state but of pointing it for the shoal water and driving it in as hard and as fast as possible, so as to ensure the ship will become and remain firmly aground.  (The lame duck session of Congress comes immediately to mind.  Usually, when we remove someone from a position of power, we don’t let them drastically rewrite things so as to trash the company as they’re walking out the door.)

Where are we going?  What do we want the country to look like?  Progress is not improvement if you’re going the wrong direction, nor is progress for its own sake wise.  And, above all else, we have got to stop making decisions based on the panicky emotion of “Somebody has to do SOMETHING RIGHT NOW!”

I’m not holding my breath… but I am still going to the pro-life rally in Richmond this Thursday, Jan. 13, and to the annual March for Life in DC, Jan. 24.

Cynicism is a debilitating emotion.  Surrender is a choice, and usually a bad one.

Refuse both.

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I’ll admit up front that I haven’t read Ayn Rand.  I had a vague negative impression, based on some commentary I’d read.

Now, the Tea Partiers are diving into Ayn Rand’s books as an anti-big-government manifesto of sorts.  Glenn Beck uses her novels to discuss examples of people dropping out of “the system.”  “Where is John Galt?” signs show up.  Hmmm.  Maybe she isn’t so bad, I thought.  Maybe I should consider reading them (something of an investment in time… what the heck is it with Russian writers and gigantic novels?).

And then, thanks to Facebook, I found that a friend of mine is reading Rand… and attending the leftist rally at the end of October trying to show-up Glenn Beck’s conservative rally.

Hmm.  Weird.  So, who’s missing what?  My friend or the Tea Party?

A quick look led me to ask, “Why on earth is the Tea Party loving Ayn Rand?”

Sure, she’s for individual freedom and anti-big-government.  But that’s not all.  Not nearly.

First off, Rand was an atheist.  Not just an “I don’t believe God exists” atheist, but a “God doesn’t exist, you’re less human for thinking he does, and altruism is foolish.”

Altruism holds that man has no right to exist for his own sake, that service to others is the only justification of his existence, and that self-sacrifice is his highest moral duty, virtue, and value. Capitalism and altruism are incompatible; they are philosophical opposites; they cannot co-exist in the same man or in the same society. The conflict between capitalism and altruism has been undercutting America from her start and, today, has reached its climax.

Odd.  Most Americans seem to be of the opinion that altruism is a duty and a good.  (Rand held that it was neither.)  Americans pride ourselves on the fact that we are a hugely generous nation, even at times when we have to sacrifice to do it.  (Rand argued that people following her philosophy of Objectivism could be altruistic, but only if they wanted to (not out of any duty), could spare the money, and the recipients were worthy of it.)

A recent survey found that most of the Tea Party is pro-life.  Rand certainly was not.

An embryo has no rights. Rights do not pertain to a potential, only to an actual being. A child cannot acquire any rights until it is born. The living take precedence over the not-yet-living (or the unborn).

Abortion is a moral right—which should be left to the sole discretion of the woman involved; morally, nothing other than her wish in the matter is to be considered. Who can conceivably have the right to dictate to her what disposition she is to make of the functions of her own body?”

Predictable, I suppose, given Rand’s views of the radical independence of each person.  When Pope John Paul II said that true freedom is not simply a freedom from something, but the freedom to do what is right, well, he could’ve been talking about Ayn Rand’s philosophical descendants.

Ayn Rand escaped communism and is, perhaps, most known as an anti-communist and anti-fascist.  However, she espoused some of the attitudes that created those systems: the belief that, with enough personal effort, a sort of Nietzsche-esque superman could be created (who better to lead those “unworthy” people?) and a denial of God (do I have to reiterate the death tolls from atheistic totalitarian systems?).  She condemned the results, but praised the underpinnings.

Rand and her husband decided not to have children, The Ayn Rand Institute website says.  Too bad.  The experience might have taught her something about the reality of human interdependency and self-sacrifice, and the deep good in those things.  It’s one thing to preach from your tower at the masses, praising self-sufficiency and damning self-sacrifice.  It’s something else to live in the real world.

There are those who complain that the Tea Parties are becoming too religious, that Glenn Beck’s religious imagery and emphasis is corrupting the “pure” intent of the movement, allegedly represented by the Ayn Rand followers, strict rationalists and, therefore, atheists.  Really?  Then you’re going to have to ditch the Declaration and the Constitution.

The people who wrote and implemented that document weren’t just filling space when they wrote, “with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”  They believed in self-sacrifice, living for others, caring for their neighbors (and not just the “worthy” ones), and God… none of which Ayn Rand seems to have believed in.

(Excellent article at Pajamas Media on why Ayn Rand is loved in the Tea Parties.  And a whole lot of comments on why she is not a good foundation.  And then another whole bunch of comments blaming Christians for Obama’s spreading-the-wealth policies.  People, if you listened to Glenn Beck before complaining about him, you would have heard the part about charity vs. taxes: when I choose to donate to charities, I feel charitable.  I do not feel charitable when paying my taxes.  Christian charity is not the same thing as socialist-lite spreading-the-wealth… which is why welfare fails and religious poverty reduction, drug rehab, and other programs do so much better.)

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When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Preamble to the Declaration of Independence

Our rights do not come from the king.  They do not come from any government, whether monarchy, democracy, republic, or whatever other pattern, chosen or forced on a nation.

At her confirmation hearings in the Senate, Supreme Court nominee Elana Kagan said that she admired the Declaration and the Constitution, but did not consider that there are pre-existing rights before a government is constituted.  On further questioning, she clarified that she does not deny that there are rights that pre-exist the Constitution and Declaration, but simply that she, as a judge, would only consider the rights established in our founding documents.

The problem, I think, is that our founding documents explicitly appeal to those allegedly ignorable pre-existing rights to justify what they were doing.  Many of the rights we hold dear were not created by our founding documents, but were simply acknowledged as already existing and demanding the respect of the government.  The founding fathers were appealing to a higher court than the king.

That higher court did not vanish with the establishment of the United States of America.

All governments are imperfect.  All governments, sooner or later, will pass.  The “laws of Nature and of Nature’s God” do not.  Kings used to be solidly aware that they would answer to God for their behavior.  As with any other Christian, each king was free to choose whether the idea of that future divine judgment would change them for the better or not.  Those who chose to gamble that God would stay silent at least had to deal with the Catholic Church.  It was never omnipotent, but no country could escape the pope’s notice; flaunt morality far enough, and there would be consequences, at least spiritually.

The Reformation made the pope’s power look ever more ignorable.  Never again would an emperor or king be forced to change a policy or kneel in the snow outside the pope’s castle, seeking forgiveness.  Some would call this an improvement, but the idea of absolute monarchy comes after this change, not before.  When there is no real restraint from God, when any king can pretend that his interpretation of God’s will is the final one, well, there is very little left to keep any government in line… and every temptation to claim the king (or president) is above any law, consequence, or consideration of the desires of the people he governs.

So, when America’s founding documents were written, the founders sought to instill a bit of the fear of God into the future politicians and presidents.  A bit of restraint, to remember that the president is not the king, is not immortal, is not the giver of morality, but only the enforcer of laws.

And that our rights may not be rescinded by the government because they are not from the government.

These are not throw-away phrases, irrelevant to the modern practice of law, as Ms. Kagan seems to hold it; it is the foundation of our government.

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I don’t usually get to say that.  I’m pretty unexciting most days.  Heck, most years.  Work hard, get good grades, work harder, save money, raise kids, pull weeds, curse the nutria that’s been eating my wheat crop… nothing terribly newsworthy or upsetting on a national level.

Thanks to President Obama, however, I get to claim a bit of that reckless, slightly dangerous mystique of being “one of the ones they warned you about.”  BWA-HA-HA!  (that’s supposed to be a maniacal laugh)

Specifically, the President, during a commencement speech at Hampton University over the weekend, warned the graduates about the excess of information, especially from iPods, X-box’s, and “confusing blogs” and cable news that doesn’t “always rank all that high on the truth meter.”

(Public service announcement: If you have an iPod, and it tells you what to do, you need therapy.  Ditto on the X-box.)

Why do I suspect the President meant Fox, and not CNN, whose reporter was so dense or so ideological that he couldn’t figure out if the several hundred thousand people on the Mall in DC were mostly pro-life or pro-abortion during the annual March for Life?  Talk about a low level of truth…

So, I’m happy to announce:

(Feel free to borrow it, just please give credit back here.)

Say I’m wrong, say I’m quoting crazy people, prove me wrong… but how can you ever say there’s too much information?  I think what the President meant to say was “the wrong information,” i.e. things that didn’t make him look good.  Of course, if he just criticized the media and the blogs for criticizing him, it would look petty, thin-skinned, manipulative and like he was just looking for an emergency to excuse shutting down the critics…

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So, apparently, New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg commented the other day that the police weren’t sure yet who was responsible for the attempted bombing in his city.  Hey, “It could be somebody upset about the health care bill or something…” he said.

Yeah, that’s right, it could be those Tea Party crazies!

I just knew the career police officer and his family, including his heavily tatooed police officer son, were dangerous!  I mean, the way they laughed at my kids making funny faces and looked concerned when Crash and Empress ran over each other rolling down the hill- I mean, you could practically see the devil horns growing out of their heads!

Or the black preacher talking about what the U.S. was founded on and what the civil rights leaders fought for (and it wasn’t funding personal and corporate failure or getting loans from China).  Suicide bomber in the making, right there!

Or all the people who screamed at my black and Chinese kids, “Get out of here, this is whites only!”  Oh, wait that didn’t happen…

Or the silver-haired lady who sold me the Tea Party t-shirt.  You know, they were taking cash, I’m sure they were using it to procure bomb materials without leaving a credit card trail!

Or the guy in colonial garb with a period musket.  Seriously, I was lucky I didn’t get shot, to listen to the mainstream media.

Or, maybe not.

Wasn’t something similar said about the shooting at Fort Hood, before we found out that the doctor was Muslim, pushy about his faith, offensive to patients, a suicide bomber admirer, and involved in a mosque known to be radical?

I know what most of the media is afraid of.  I know why they won’t report on (or will at least play down) when leftist groups (like the immigration rallies, the usual protesters at the economic summits, pro-abortion marchers, etc.) actually do attack people, shout racial slurs, smash store windows, and throw things at police officers while insulting them.  I know why they won’t say anything about Muslims and decry anyone (like Franklin Graham) who does.

Knowing why doesn’t change the fact that most of the media’s behavior is still pathetic.

Our media has gone from the watchdog the Founders wanted and knew we needed to a fat, coddled lap dog that nips and snarls at all the wrong things (like the daughter-in-law coming to help move the household… man, I hate that chihuahua!) and couldn’t be bothered to actually notice if someone broke into the house… or illegally crossed the border by the millions.

But that’s ok, because Arizona doesn’t have a real problem, they’re just racists who hate Mexicans.  As am I, apparently, because I do not like illegal immigrants… or chihuahuas.

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