Monday, November 23, 2009

Denying Communion To Pro-Abortion Catholics: The Hypocrisy Factor

The current brouhaha over the fact that Bishop Thomas Tobin told “Catholic” pro-abortion politician U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy not to take communion could use some historical perspective.

Let’s roll the clock back almost 50 years, to Louisiana where Catholic politicians who were segregationists were disciplined by the church for their opposition to church teaching about racial integration.
Three Louisiana Catholics were well known for their diehard stances against integration. Leander Perez was once a state judge but is best known as the political boss of Plaquemines Parish, an extremely isolated rural area south of New Orleans at the mouth of the Mississippi River. Under Perez’s leadership, many of the black people of Plaquemines lived in a debased state of peonage little better than slavery. In 1960, Perez retired and devoted himself full time to the battle against integration. Perez was joined in the public fight by Una Gaillot, the leader of a militantly segregationist group called Save Our Nation, and Jackson Ricau, who was executive director of the New Orleans Citizens’ Council. All three publicly repudiated the theological arguments behind Rummel’s statements on racial equality and led efforts to encourage other lay Catholics to defy Rummel and to undermine the church.

On March 31, 1962, Rummel sent letters to Ricau, Gaillot, and Perez, warning them that their actions were in direct defiance of his authority over Catholic schools and that they were in danger of excommunication. All refused to curtail their activities. On April 16, 1962, the chancellor of the archdiocese, Msgr. Charles J. Plauche, announced that the three had been excommunicated. They were to be denied the sacraments and a Catholic burial, and were forbidden from attending Mass (although they would not be physically ejected if they did so). The Vatican later commended Rummel for his courage in the face of entrenched American racism.
There is more here.

So, did the Church violate the “separation of church and state” here?

Did in interfere with “freedom of conscience” here?

The average liberal Catholic will say “but that was segregation, and that was bad.”

But of course, for the Church abortion is bad. Indeed, segregated black people are at least alive, while abortion kills babies, and disproportionately black babies.

Quite simply, it depends on whose ox is gored. Liberal Catholics are quite happy to see the Church enforce, with excommunication if necessary, positions that they agree with.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Obama Teleprompter Failure

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Aspin Center Honorees: Push Gay Agenda to Persecute Christian Social Service Agencies

We have blogged before about how Marquette’s Les Aspin Center has a pattern of honoring members of Congress who not merely take positions contrary to Catholic teaching, but extreme positions contrary to Catholic teaching.

Two egregious cases: Congresswoman Gwen Moore and Congressman John Lewis. (Check here for more on Moore.)

Now what have Moore and Lewis done?

They are cosponsoring a bill by California Democratic Pete Stark (H.R.3827) that would “prohibit discrimination in adoption or foster care placements based on the sexual orientation, gender identification, or marital status of any prospective adoptive or foster parent.”

In short, it would force Catholic and other Christian adoption agencies to give children to homosexual couples. In Massachusetts, the Catholic Church got out of the adoption business rather than than comply with a demand that fundamentally violated its religious conventions.

This bill, if it is passed, would have the same effect all across the nation, even in conservative states that would never impose the gay agenda on Christian social service agencies.

While the notion of “prohibiting discrimination” might sound nice, the fact is that Christian social service agencies would equally “discriminate” against potential adoptive parents engaged in adulterous relationships, those with a history of drug abuse or domestic abuse, or a whole host of other things that make them less than the best parents for a child.

Even if one thinks there is nothing wrong with homosexual acts, in a tolerant society one should not try to impose that view on people with different views.

And morality aside, there is every reason to believe that every child needs both a male and a female parent, since every child needs both a male and a female role model.

This bill, by the way, would prohibit discrimination on the basis of marital status. But heterosexual couples who won’t make the commitment that marriage involves are poor candidates to be parents.

Of course, black people in general aren’t keen on the gay agenda, as the voting on California’s Proposition 8 showed. So Moore and Lewis, who are black, aren’t representing the black community very well. This may be because they are trying to placate gays and liberal yuppies that are part of their electoral coalitions, or it may be that they simply think like white liberals.

Either way, the Aspin Center showed bad judgment honoring either of them. Whether this was a reflection of the liberal views of the leadership of that institution or an attempt to curry favor with Washington politicians is hard to tell. It was probably both. But it wasn’t what any part of a supposedly Catholic university should do.

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Very Narcissistic Mr. Obama

Never has an American president been so smitten with himself.

Or if one has, he was smart enough to conceal it.

The truth is, Obama is pretty much an empty suit. Yes, he has the standard liberal/left views of community activists and academics. He can seem like a good orator if his teleprompter doesn’t break down.

But mostly the mania for Obama has been the result of people projecting on him their own hopes. For liberals, he was going to be the “transformative” president who bought European-style socialism to America. For blacks, it was going to be a huge historical breakthrough. (They were right about that, but when it becomes obvious that being black does not by itself make a president very capable, the achievement looks less lustrous.)

For a lot muddle-headed youth he represented “hope” and “change,” and they weren’t inclined to look beyond naïve hopes.

But increasingly, the illusions drop away, and the callow narcissist becomes more transparent.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Marquette Sociology Professor: Don’t Blame Hasan’s Muslim Views for Fort Hood Shooting

The Muslim faith of Fort Hood assassin Nidal Hasan so obviously played a part in the murders he committed that even the mainstream media have covered the evidence in detail.

Facts have overcome political correctness.

But in academia, especially sociology departments, facts have little traction against ingrained assumptions about who is the “victim” and who is the “oppressor.”

Thus we have Louise A. Cainkar, who is a professor in Marquette’s Sociology Department, insisting that “Questions abound as to what drove him to commit these acts, but a rush to connect his actions with Islamic extremism is irresponsible.”

Even worse, she summarizes by saying:
The media’s coverage of these killings thus far appears to be another effort to reduce complexity to stereotype, to demonize Islam, and to shift the focus of public thought away from a deep questioning about war, American military activity, and the damage these are doing to people (including “our own” people), and to refocus it on the ubiquitous, evil “them.”
Right. Don’t ask questions about jihadist Islam, just question “the damage we are doing to people.” It’s really America that is at fault.

It’s always America that is at fault.

Unfortunately, a dangerous number of Muslims have decided to define themselves as “them.” It’s nowhere near a majority of Muslims, and fewer in the U.S. than in Europe, but Islamic radicalism is an enemy of America. We didn’t make them the enemy. They chose to be the enemy.

Sociology, as a discipline, is stiflingly politically correct. Perhaps that’s why the number of students enrolled in sociology courses has declined. Even academics, comfortably ensconced in tenured positions and free to spew nonsense with complete impunity, eventually face a market test.

It’s high time.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Health Care Debate Tonight

Unaffordable or Unavoidable:
A Forum on Health Care Reform


A town hall forum featuring:
Dr. Susan Giaimo
Panelist: Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science
Dr. John McAdams
Panelist: Associate Professor of Political Science
Dr. Robert Kraig
Panelist: Executive Director, Citizen Action of Wisconsin
State Rep. Leah Vukmir
Panelist: Representative for Wisconsin’s 14th Assembly District

Wednesday, November 11, 6 p.m. in
Marquette Hall, Room 200

Here is the flyer for the event.

This ought to be pretty good, especially since we are talking about legislation that could radically change a sixth of the U.S. economy, and affect the quality of health care that Americans get for the rest of their lives.

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Fort Hood: Lessons About Gun Control

The “20/20” segment below was produced before the Fort Hood tragedy, but it’s especially relevant now.



This point is explicitly address on the Reason blog.
When Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan started shooting up the Soldier Readiness Processing Center at Fort Hood, Pfc. Marquest Smith dove under a desk. A.P. reports that “he lay low for several minutes, waiting for the shooter to run out of ammunition and wishing he, too, had a gun.”

Neither Smith nor the other victims of Hasan’s assault had guns because soldiers on military bases within the United States generally are not allowed to carry them. Last week’s shootings, which killed 13 people and wounded more than 30, demonstrated once again the folly of “gun-free zones,” which attract and assist people bent on mass murder instead of deterring them.

Judging from the comments of those who support this policy of victim disarmament, Smith’s desire for a gun was irrational. According to Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, “This latest tragedy, at a heavily fortified army base, ought to convince more Americans to reject the argument that the solution to gun violence is to arm more people with more guns in more places.”

Note how the reference to “a heavily fortified army base” obscures the crucial point that the people attacked by Hasan were unarmed as a matter of policy. Also note the breathtaking inanity of Helmke’s assurance that “more guns” are not “the solution to gun violence.” In this case, they assuredly were.

The first people with guns to confront Hasan, two local police officers, were the ones who put a stop to his rampage. And while Sgt. Kim Munley and Sgt. Mark Todd acted heroically, they did not arrive on the scene until a crucial 10 minutes or so had elapsed and Hasan had fired more than 100 rounds.

If someone else at the processing center had a gun when Hasan started shooting, it seems likely that fewer people would have been killed or injured. Furthermore, the knowledge that some of his victims would be armed might have led him to choose a different, softer target in order to maximize the impact of his attack.

There would have been plenty of targets to choose from: any of the locations in Texas, including public schools, universities, and shopping malls, that advertise their prohibition of gun possession. The problem is that crazed killers tend not to follow such rules.
The liberals’ antipathy toward guns is not based on any kind of sound policy analysis. It’s the outgrowth of cultural bias.

In the first place, there is the belief that crime should be dealt with by more government welfare programs, social workers, rehabilitation and so on. The kind of things the liberals do, and have a class interest in seeing expanded.

But perhaps more important is the fact that gun owners, at least stereotypically, don’t drink lattes, don’t drive Priuses, don’t shop at Whole Foods and just generally ignore the yuppie culture of self-righteousness. They are even likely to vote Republican. Thus they are the kind of people who need to be put in their place by being dictated to by their “betters” in newsrooms, on college faculties, and in liberal interest groups and foundations.

It really, at the very bottom, has nothing to do with wanting gun violence reduced.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Is Dissent Patriotic?

From Bob Hamer on Biggovernment.com:
Earlier this year as I was filling up at the gas station I noticed a faded bumper sticker - vintage Bush 43 - on the car next to me: “Dissent is Patriotic.” When I pointed to the bumper and asked the driver if she still believed that, she suggested I do something to myself which I am certain is physically impossible. I just laughed and said, “I’ll take that as a no.”
It does seem to matter a lot who is doing the dissenting, doesn’t it?

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Friday, November 06, 2009

Fort Hood Shooter’s Motivation


It now seems pretty obvious that what we had was a lone nut.

That’s not to say that there was no political content to the act. The guy had a sharp Islamic grievance, and he was acting on that. Yet he appears to have been part of no sort of organized terrorist plot. A malcontent, he had gotten a poor performance evaluation at Walter Reed Medical Center. The act was clearly planned in advance, since he had been giving his furniture away.

Something very like this happened decades ago. But then, when the killer was confronted by Officer J.D. Tippit, the killer got the drop on Tippit and killed him.

This time, the killer confronted an officer named Sgt. Kimberly Munley. He hit her with one shot through both legs. She hit him with four shots. She is in stable condition. He is on a respirator.

Way to go, Sgt. Munley.

[Update]

It appears that another officer aided Munley in taking down Hasan. But she was every bit as brave (being the first to confront the shooter), and every bit as effective (shooting Hasan in the chest) as the early reports imply.

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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Obama Cult of Personality in Public Schools

It’s more than just one school.

The Obama Cult of Personality has apparently become pretty common in public schools.

All the more reason to push for school choice.

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Monday, November 02, 2009

ObamaCare: Demagoguing the Insurance Companies

From Jeff Jacoby in the Boston Globe:
TWO THINGS supporters of a government-run “public option” for health insurance know for sure. One is that private health insurers are raking in obscenely high profits. The other is that only a government rival can force them to compete on price.

In a clever new commercial featuring Heather Graham as an agile sprinter named “Public Option,” the left-wing pressure group MoveOn combines both themes, describing insurance companies as “lazy” and “bloated from the profits of raising our health care costs sky-high.” Why, it asks, should anyone resist the competition a public option would generate? After all, “competition is as American as apple pie.” In a less amusing print ad a few weeks ago, MoveOn charged that “insurance companies are willing to let the bodies pile up, as long as their profits are safe.”

President Obama also attacks health insurers as avaricious profiteers.

“The insurance industry is making this last-ditch effort to stop reform,” he declared on Oct. 16, “even as costs continue to rise and our health-care dollars continue to be poured into their profits (and) bonuses.” When he addressed Congress in September, Obama insisted that only a public option will “keep insurance companies honest.” On the White House Blog, ObamaCare opponents are accused of “fighting to protect insurance industry profits.”

Indeed, there is no shortage of voices characterizing health insurers as greedy villains. Earlier this year, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi praised her party for highlighting “the immoral profits being made by the insurance industry.” On CNN last week, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown demanded a public option “so the insurance industry can’t continue to game the system and discriminate” against women and the disabled — tactics insurers have used to “quadruple their profits in the last five years.” If quadrupled profits don’t seem rapacious enough, the union-backed Health Care for American Now! ups the ante, claiming, according to the AFL-CIO’s news blog, that “during the past five years, health insurance company profits have soared by 1,000 percent.”

Outbidding them all is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Health insurance companies “are so anti-competitive,” he said last month, “because they make more money than any other business in America today.”

To such overheated agitprop, the only useful response is a cold shower of facts, and the Associated Press supplied a timely one last week. For all the impassioned talk about obscene profits and bodies piling up, AP’s Calvin Woodward reported, “health insurance profit margins typically run about 6 percent” of revenues, a return “that’s anemic compared with other forms of insurance and a broad array of industries.”

87 cents out of every premium dollar pays for medical services, according to a PriceWaterhouseCoopers study for America’s Health Insurance Plans. Insurance company profits account for just 3 cents.

On the Fortune 500 list of top industries, health insurance companies ranked 35th in profitability in 2008; their overall profit margin was a mere 2.2 percent. They lagged far behind such industries as pharmaceuticals (which showed a profit margin of 19.3 percent), railroads (12.6 percent), and mining (11.5 percent). Among health insurers, the best performer last year was HealthSpring, which had a profit of 5.4 percent. “That’s a less profitable margin,” AP noted, “that was achieved by the makers of Tupperware, Clorox bleach, and Molson and Coors beers.”

For the most recent quarter of 2009, health-insurance plans earned profits of only 3.3 percent, ranking them 86th on the expanded Yahoo! Finance list of US industries. The application-software industry, by contrast, is pulling in profits of nearly 22 percent. Why aren’t MoveOn and the Democrats demanding a “public option” to compete with Microsoft and Adobe and drive down their “immoral” profits?

There are certainly industries doing worse than health insurance — airlines and newspapers, for example — but the notion that health insurers “make more money than any other business in America today” is preposterous. Advocates of a public option may find it tactically expedient to paint insurers as insatiable predators, swollen with ill-gotten profits. The reality is otherwise.

Still, the critics do have one thing right: More competition would bring down health-care premiums. But the way to increase competition is not by adding a government-run health plan to the 1,300 private firms already providing Americans with health insurance. After all, there’s no public option for auto insurance and life insurance, yet they’re sold in a highly competitive national market. There is no reason health insurance can’t be sold the same way.
Let’s be clear on this: the pro-Obama Care liberals, when they attack the insurance companies, are no different from the late and unlamented Senator Joe McCarthy in their willingness to demonize any group that stands in the way of their agenda.

And their tactic dates back to the demagogues of Ancient Greece, who would demonize the groups they wanted to oppress — typically the wealthy whose property they wanted to seize. They are, in other words, not merely misguided. They are sleazy.

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