6 Things I Saw in Cecile Richard’s Testimony Before Congress

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Cliff https://www.flickr.com/photos/nostri-imago/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Cliff https://www.flickr.com/photos/nostri-imago/

I watched several hours of Cecile Richards’ testimony before Congress last night.

Here are six take-aways that pro life people need to understand.

1. When a grown man, who is a member of Congress, begins a Congressional hearing by making random statements about his family members’ health in order  to “prove” his own sincere intentions, and then this guy cries on cue, he’s acting. Either that, or he’s crazy. Or both. American politics has become wacko. The men get on the mic and blubber to prove how sincere they are, and the women dare not shed a tear for fear of being labeled emotional girls. I wouldn’t trust any man, of either party, who behaves like that.

2. These hearings are not about defunding Planned Parenthood. They are partly about the upcoming 2016 elections, but they are mostly about how much the members of Congress hate one another. The committee members I watched were so full of mutual hatred and spite that they could not conduct a public hearing on a serious matter without constantly ramming verbal sticks in each other’s eyes. They hate each other.

3. Speaker Boehner was kicked out of the Speaker’s office by members of his own party. The Ds on the committee, who hate the Rs just as much as the Rs hate them, made that clear. That violates every bit of the legislative courtesy that allows people of differing backgrounds and ideas to come together in Congress and govern this nation. The Ds, as we say here in Okieland, “talked out of school.” They publicly proclaimed inside goings-on, and they did it in a Congressional hearing. They said it, and the Rs didn’t argue. It was true.

4. Congress does not have to “prove” anything to defund Planned Parenthood. They can fund — or defund — Planned Parenthood if they want. I know and understand the legislative hoops they have to jump through to achieve this, and I know it would be a tough boogie to get it done the way things are configured right now. I also, after watching them in action, question whether our pro life advocates in Congress possess the legislative skill to get it done. But it is possible. Or it would be if members of Congress cared as much about governance as they do their mutual hatred. These people aren’t going to reason together to find a way to govern, much less defund Planned Parenthood. I think they’d let the whole country go down the tubes, rather than work together.

5. I had originally thought that these hearings would be a dog and pony show, aimed at the next election. But from what I saw, the inmates are in charge of the asylum in the United States House of Representatives. What I witnessed wasn’t a hearing, and it wasn’t a dog and pony show. It was a bull and bear baiting contest, a real blood fight. These people couldn’t agree on what to order for lunch, much less how to govern this country.  They are — all of them — narcissists in the grip of their own narcissistic rage.

6. I said this is a bull and bear baiting contest, a blood fight. Let’s be clear about what that means. I am talking about real blood. The blood of the unborn. The blood of the American people. The blood of women and children. From what I saw, there is no hope — zero — that Congress is going to function for quite a while. They are in the throes of a Speaker’s race of some unruly sort, and Speaker’s races are usually ugly and divisive beasts. A faction of the Republican caucus just did a coup on a sitting Speaker. Now, the whole caucus is fighting over who will be next to sit in that office. This isn’t about the unborn or the common good. It’s about committee chairmanships and such. It’s about power. We have a Republican caucus that is in disarray and at war with itself. We have Rs and Ds who hate one another to the point of visible pathology. That sounds like all the wheels have come off the wagon in the House of Representatives. That buggy won’t roll.

I think We the People need to consider how much of this behavior we are willing to allow. We can pull the plug on these people. We can also, if we demand it, make them sit up straight, eat their vegetables and play nice with one another. We can do that because We the People, and our power of the vote, always has the real last word with Congress.

 

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Is Speaker Boehner Going Home, or Is He Going to be a Millionaire?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Gage Skidmore https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Gage Skidmore https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/

Is John Boehner going home, or is he going to be a millionaire?

Speaker Boehner stands on the edge of a new beginning in his life. He can turn the page, leave Washington and begin a different life than the one he has known. Or, he can accept one of the mega-lucrative opportunities lying there in front of him, just waiting for him to pick up and make his own.

He possesses high dollar skills that can only be acquired one way: By suiting up and playing the game of full-speed, contact politics. What Speaker Boehner knows can’t be taught in a classroom. The only way to learn it is to get elected and then spend time slugging it out in the political trenches; winning and getting beat, strategizing and knocking heads.

Speaker Boehner will be a millionaire if he wants it. All he has to do is sign on as a hired gun for one of the many special interests that are strangling our government. He could, if he’s feeling called to it, offer his services to a low-dollar, people-oriented enterprise, such as the Catholic bishops, or the movement to end violence against women. Those lobbying jobs are far more challenging than pushing the plans of big-money power brokers, and the work has intrinsic benefits that are priceless.

But if he wants the doh-reg-meh, he will have to sell his skills to a higher bidder. There are intrinsics to that choice to. But they are costs, not benefits. If Speaker Boehner takes a position as a hired gun, he will be told.

His moral reservations about the issues he lobbies for will be entirely non-sequitur.  Hired guns do what they’re told. He  will earn his millions by using the skills he acquired through long years in public office to accomplish what those who pay him want accomplished.

If that’s an unfair advantage over competitors, if that’s the use of American troops to support a private company’s bid for power in another country, if that’s raising taxes on wage earners while lowering them on the rich, then so be it. Hired guns do what they’re told.

This isn’t such a large jump for many politicians. They’ve been dancing to the tune of party discipline and those who used campaign donations to buy them since they first filed for their first office. They already do what they’re told.

They may have spent their careers speaking piously about following God’s will. Human nature being what it is, they may even have convinced themselves that this is what they actually are doing God’s will. But in practice and in fact, God’s will as they choose to see it has coincided in an almost perfect one-to-one correlation with the will of their political party and the puppet masters who pull their strings.

John Boehner has spent many years of his life as one of the two most powerful legislators in the world. As Speaker of the House, he actually has had a greater latitude than the Senate Majority leader, who is hemmed in by Senate rules and the reality of the Vice President as the Constitutional head of the Senate. The Senate wields power that the House does not in a number of areas, and each Senator represents an entire state rather than a district within a state. But the House is the more independent body. That gives the Speaker greater freedom of action, with the power that goes with it.

If he wants to be an independent person who can continue to exercise personal latitude in what he does, Speaker Boehner will have to say no to the vast wealth that is his for the taking. He is staring at a future carpeted by the realization of all the dreams of avarice. But nothing in life is free except a mother’s love and salvation before God. Everything else has a price. Hiring on as a hired gun in Washington DC exacts a sobering moral cost.

Speaker Boehner has a future of great wealth and little independence, working as a hired gun for one of the many special interests who have bought our government. It’s his, if he wants it. He will, if he takes such a position, forfeit the opportunity to use what he knows for the common good. But he will also become a wealthy man.

What do you think he’s going to do?

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Pope Francis Visits 9/11 Memorial

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by brkinhrt2 https://www.flickr.com/photos/66179962@N00/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by brkinhrt2 https://www.flickr.com/photos/66179962@N00/

This is what I wrote about Pope Francis’ attendance at the prayer service at the 9/11 Memorial today.

From Catholic Vote:

I don’t like writing about man-made mass atrocity. Every time I do, I access memories and emotions of the Oklahoma City bombing.

Pope Francis stood at the monument for the Twin Towers. He spoke with and touched the families of those who died there. We, the grieving American people, have built a beautiful memorial on those hallowed grounds. I watched a service there in which clergy of many faiths prayed at this place where so many Americans died.

Pope Francis joined them in their prayers, then followed with a beautiful speech in which he pointed out that the light does indeed shine through the darkness, even the darkness of such things as what happened at the Twin Towers, or a few years before that, at Oklahoma City. He asked us to join him in prayer for the cause of peace, peace in our homes, our communities, our families, peace in all those places in which war never seems to end; peace for those who have known nothing but pain; peace throughout this world which God has given us as home for all.

9/11 began a decade of war, which has been followed by another half-decade of more war. While Pope Francis spoke, people in the Middle East and Africa are dying at the hands of those who follow the same philosophy as the men who flew the planes into the Twin Towers.

Here in America, we have the luxury of grief, of building monuments and holding beautiful interfaith services with choirs of young people singing of peace. We can dignify our grief, our loss and our suffering with memory and memorials.

But even as I type these words, people in other parts of the world … Read the rest here.

 

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Address to Joint Session: Our Pope Channeled Jesus in a Present-Day Sermon on the Mount

pope-francis.jpgThis is my reaction to Pope Francis’ address to the joint session of  Congress today.

From the National Catholic Register:

Pope Francis channeled Jesus this morning with a contemporary Sermon on the Mount, and it got just about the same results it did 2,000 years ago.

The Holy Father addressed the assembled members of both houses of Congress, the United States Supreme Court, members of the Cabinet and other dignitaries today. In what might very well have been a one-off for a speaker in that situation, he did not speak to them as a politician. He delivered a homily, in fact a re-run of the THE homily, as the shepherd of souls that he is.

If your god resides in the R or the D, there was something to hate and also something to love in this speech. You could, depending on your personality, walk away from it, angry as a snake biting itself. Or, you could, if you’re turned differently, be patting yourself on the back.

The truth of this speech is that it wasn’t a speech, it was a sermon delivered by a Pope who is first of all a priest, who takes the care of souls as his first duty before God. If you listened to what Pope Francis said today with the ear of someone who reads Scripture on a daily basis, the entire speech echoed Jesus, preaching to and teaching us to care for the least of these, Who told us that the measure by which we judge others would be the measure by which God would judge us.

It was clear to me, after my long years of sitting through joint sessions and reading politicians that the assembled body of listeners were as unmoved by the Holy Father’s words as the stone pillars of the building in which they sat. These people do not listen to anyone who stands in that podium — not even the pope — to be instructed. They listen to be affirmed.

When they felt affirmed, they applauded. When the pope said something that differed from their politics, their faces hardened subtly and their eyes filmed over with an “I-won’t-hear-you” glaze.

Pope Francis spoke of the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death. He affirmed his life-long opposition to the death penalty, he pled for business practices that provide jobs rather than just suck in wealth for a very few. He spoke against the arms trade that, as he said, sells arms to “those who plan to inflict untold suffering.” He said that this is done “for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood.” He called the silence about this arms trade “shameful and culpable.”

Those are strong words from the Vicar of Christ. He told a roomful of elected officials and people of great power that their silence about the arms trade made them “culpable” to the blood-drenched sins of those used those arms to murder innocent people.

The pope spoke of the environment, of immigrants, of the family and of justice and freedom. He couched every word he said in a plea that government be conducted to achieve the common good. He said that working toward the common good was the call of every politician.

As someone who held elective office for 18 years, I absolutely agree with him in this. I would also say that the common good doesn’t get a lot of play in private conversations between elected officials these days. No audience anywhere needed to hear this message more than the one Pope Francis was speaking to this morning.

But they didn’t hear him. Not, at least, as it applied to themselves. Politicians today, as well as many private citizens who have become enthralled with political partisanship, are like the Pharisee who went out to pray at the same time as the tax collector.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/rhamilton/the-sermon-on-the-mount-and-the-sermon-on-the-hill/#ixzz3mgnm706C

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5 Things I Wish Pope Francis Knew About America

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Michael Doughertyhttps://www.flickr.com/photos/md888/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Michael Doughertyhttps://www.flickr.com/photos/md888/

I wish Pope Francis had time to meet the real America instead of spending all his time with politicos.

I wrote about that longing for Catholic Vote, listing 5 things I wish Pope Francis knew about us.

Here’s part of what I said:

I wish Pope Francis could see Oklahoma … and Colorado … and Big Bend. I wish he had time to take a road trip along the long stretches of lonely road that crisscross this country. I wish he could meet the good people who are the real America.

As he noted in his address at St. Matthews this morning, he is from a big country, too. But America is such a sweep of a nation. I am almost as many miles from Pope Francis as London is from Cairo; and yet we are both in the USA.

It’s sad that his entire trip will be confined to a few cities on the East Coast. Not that there is anything wrong with those cities. It’s just that they do not reflect the whole of America; not anymore than a salad, no matter how tasty, reflects the steak that is to come.

Most of Pope Francis’ time here will be spent with priests and politicians. That is not exactly representative of the whole of the American people.

I thought about this early this morning, while I drove my mother to adult day care. I drove part of the way behind a school bus, picking up kids. I passed a woman, walking her dog, and a man out for his morning jog. The flowers were in bloom. The sun peeked over the rim of the prairie with its good morning light.

I saw all this, and I thought, America really is beautiful. The peace and security of this morning drive must seem like an unattainable dream to many people in the world.

Here are 5 things that I hope Pope Francis can somehow understand about us.

Read the rest here.

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Pope Francis Speaks English, Emphasizes Immigrants, Religious Freedom, Environment in Opening Remarks

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons. http://www.presidencia.gov.ar/

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons. http://www.presidencia.gov.ar/

President Obama has greeted Pope Francis and the two leaders have each made their opening statements. Our president was handsome, the first lady was strikingly lovely. Pope Francis, in contrast, simply radiated the love of Christ.

Pope Francis struggled through his remarks in English, even though the language is obviously difficult for him. I think this is a gracious touch, a way of reaching out to the American people.

Pope Francis opened his remarks — which were not a full-blown speech — by reminding us that he himself was an immigrant to Argentina. His also touched on the issues of religious freedom and went on dwell for a bit longer on the environment.

The president and the pope then retired for a private discussion.

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Pope Francis is Here!

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons by Agência Brasil, a public Brazilian news agency. Their website states: "Todo o conteúdo deste site está publicado sob a Licença Creative Commons Atribuição 3.0 Brasil exceto quando especificado em contrário e nos conteúdos replicados de outras fontes." (English translation: All content on this website is published under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Brazil License unless specified otherwise and content replicated from other sources.)

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons by Agência Brasil, a public Brazilian news agency.
Their website states: “Todo o conteúdo deste site está publicado sob a Licença Creative Commons Atribuição 3.0 Brasil exceto quando especificado em contrário e nos conteúdos replicados de outras fontes.” (English translation: All content on this website is published under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Brazil License unless specified otherwise and content replicated from other sources.)

I’m watching Pope Francis greet the children outside the nomenclature in Washington, DC.

He looks well-rested, and to my eyes, beautiful. He’s posing for selfies with a number of the kids and taking his time while he goes down the line. Pitter patter goes my heart.

I love me some Pope Francis

I’m watching EWTN. I flipped through the cable channels and all the political carping about the pope was too disgusting. Thank goodness for EWTN.

If you want a brief round-up of the pope’s schedule, go here.

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Left Wing Media Tries to Hijack Pope Francis for Its Secular Agenda

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Edgar Jimenez https://www.flickr.com/photos/chilangoco/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Edgar Jimenez https://www.flickr.com/photos/chilangoco/

Redefining Francis to fit their political agenda is the new game of the left. It is an attempt to deify what are in fact callous and money-driven political positions.

If their ideas had to stand on their own merits, neither political party would do so well. In fact, if they were shorn of the god-gloss that counterfeit clergy obligingly spray all over them, We the People would have an easier time seeing through their charades and demanding better of them.

Pope Francis, as he is deliberately misinterpreted by left-wing media, bears no resemblance to Pope Francis the Vicar of Christ that he is. However, facts, reality and truth will not stop the msm in its quest to make him into an apologist for their secular values.

The Washington Post published an article today which is an example of these brazen attempts to hijack the pope for left wing politics.

I wrote about it for CatholicVote. 

Here’s part of what I said:

Back in the dark days of AIDs, when a diagnosis of HIV positive was a death sentence, someone I loved dearly got the bad word that this killer virus was crawling through his immune system.

He cried. I cried. We both believed his doctor who said that in three years he would be terribly ill, and within five years, he would be dead. We struggled to fit our understanding around this reality.

My friend called me one day during this coming-to-terms time. He had heard some flat-liner preacher on the radio saying that AIDS was God’s punishment to the gays, and that they were getting what they deserved. I still remember the anguish in his voice.

My friend was not religious, yet this diatribe from a radio preacher cut him to the bone. It is a terrible thing to tell people that God hates them. It is also, always, untrue. This preacher who said that AIDS was God’s punishment on the gays and that they deserved what they got was misrepresenting God.

“That’s why I’m a Christian,” I told my friend. “So that I don’t get what I deserve.”

Read the rest here.

 

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House Votes to Defund Planned Parenthood. What Happens Next?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Ron Cogswell Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Ron Cogswell Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

The United States House of Representatives voted this afternoon to defund Planned Parenthood.

Commenters are saying that the vote is largely symbolic, since the bill will most likely never be heard in the Senate. However, there are procedural ways around that. Also, if the bill is amended, it might pick up a few Democratic votes.

We need several things to get this into law.

I wrote a summary of things that we can do to have the best chance of making a law for CatholicVote. 

Here is part of what I said:

The United States House of Representatives passed a bill this afternoon defunding Planned Parenthood 248-187.

Three Republicans voted against the bill. They were: Representatives Charlie Dent (PA), Robert Dold (IL), and Richard Hanna (NY). Two Democrats voted for the bill. They were: Representatives Dan Lipinski (IL) and Collin Peterson (MN). Representative Steve King (R-IA) basically abstained by voting “present.”

According to Fox News, the bill would transfer monies that currently go to Planned Parenthood to what are called “government-backed community health centers.” This does not sound as if the bill moves the monies to local health departments. But I am not sure.

This is a critical first step in defunding Planned Parenthood. However, a successful effort at law-making must overcome two hurdles. First, it must garner 60 votes in the Senate to stop potential filibusters. Second, it must be able to overcome a presidential veto.

Read the rest here.

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How Did Those People Get Invited to the WH Reception for Pope Francis?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Official White House Photo.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Official White House Photo.

The story is out there, circling the internet. It goes something like this: President Obama has invited a trove of dissenting Catholics and critics of Catholic teaching to the White House reception for Pope Francis.

I delayed writing about it because I couldn’t track it back to the original source. I wasn’t able to get an official list of invitees. The internet sources I found linked to one another in a circular fashion.

Then, I stumbled across the GLAAD site. GLAAD is, among other things, a gay rights media watch dog. I don’t know if the White House issued any individual invitations to the reception. But it appears that they issued a sort of group invitation to GLAAD which allowed GLAAD to issue their own invitations to people of their choice.

GLAAD invited their own Director and Executive Director. They also invited — get ready for this now — Sister Jeanine Gramick.

Sr Gramick’s ministry to homosexual people, as well as her books, have made her a famous dissident in the Church. She was  instructed by the Congregation on Doctrine and the Faith that she was teaching things that were in contradiction to Catholic teaching and that were “erroneous and dangerous” to souls and to stop both the ministry and her writing. In addition to defying the Church on homosexuality, Sister Gramick also petitioned President Obama to repeal the Hyde Amendment and allow direct federal funding for abortions.

It appears that the White House reception for Pope Francis will host a number of questionable invitees. Some of them are, like Sr Gramick, in rebellion against the Church. Others, such as Episcopalian Bishop Gene Robinson, who was the first sexually active gay Episcopalian bishop, are not Catholic, but merely notorious for living a lifestyle that affronts Catholic teaching.

I’m not going to give you a laundry list of questionable guests to the White House reception for the pope. I can’t verify all of them. I think a lot of them were invited through this process of first inviting controversial groups who are known to be in disagreement with the Church and giving them the power to invite others. That makes tracking it back like unraveling a spider’s web. It’s further complicated by the fact that most of these organization will keep their actions private. In short: We may never know who was invited, or by whom.

None of this excuses the White House for this inhospitable behavior. They knew this would happen when they chose groups like GLAAD in the first place.

I’m not outraged by this. President Obama’s attitude toward Christians in general and the Catholic Church, in particular, has pushed my outrage button so many times that the poor thing is almost worn out.

What I am is embarrassed. This discourtesy toward the Holy Father is not just the boorishness of one rude man toward his guest. It is the discourtesy of the United States Government toward the leader of the largest Church in the world.

There is only one pope, and the position of leadership that he occupies is unique. He is the spiritual and moral leader of a billion and a quarter people, one seventh of the world’s population. His leadership crosses every border, reaches into every culture and clime. From dateline to dateline, pole to pole, the Catholic Church is there.

No other leader on this planet approaches the scope and reach of the leadership exercised by this humble man in white.

I would like to be proud of the way my country conducts itself when it welcomes the Pope to these shores. I want the president to demonstrate the genuine warmth and open-hearted kindness of the good people of these United States of America.

We are not a bunch of idiot rubes who put our most divisive and oafish foot forward by inviting people to meet the pope when we know those people’s presence will create controversy. That is not American hospitality. It is President Obama’s inability or unwillingness to put his petty political concerns aside for one day and be the host in chief.

There are many homosexuals who are also faithful and devout Catholics. The president should have invited a few of them. If he doesn’t know any, he should have asked me. I know several. There is no reason — none — to go in-your-face with this important guest to our country by inviting people who have publicly engaged in flame-throwing against the Church.

I am left to wonder; When Pope Francis visits Cuba, will Fidel Castro, this atheist communist, end up treating him with more respect that our American president?

 

For more thoughts on this issue, check out Elizabeth Scalia over at Aleteia, and John White at Catholic Vote. 

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