So What’s this “Agreement” with Iran that’s Got Everybody in an Uproar?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Tavis Ford https://www.flickr.com/photos/itzafineday/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Tavis Ford https://www.flickr.com/photos/itzafineday/

Plainly put, the “agreement” between Iran and President Obama (not, notice between Iran and the United States of America) is just that: It’s an agreement.

But, it appears to have many of the qualities of a treaty.

However, the Constitution plainly states that the United States Senate will ratify all treaties. If the Senate won’t ratify, the treaty is dead.

But presidents — not just this president — have been entering into these “agreements” unilaterally for quite a while now. These “agreeements” do not require Senatorial approval.

How did this happen?

It happened because the United States Congress wanted it to happen. They set this whole thing up to work this way.

Let’s talk about the “agreement” in question. It revolves around relaxing the economic sanctions against Iran. The most interesting part of these sanctions is that, for the most part, Congress did not create these sanctions. Congress passed laws that allowed the President to act unilaterally and create the sanctions himself.

So, when President Obama enters into an “agreement” with Iran in a unilateral, and dictatorial, fashion he is within the legal rights that Congress itself has given him. What he is negotiating in this particular “agreement” is a trade in policy change between Iran and himself.

He is offering to relax United States’ economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for a change in Iran’s nuclear arms development. I do not know what this entails. I can not guess if it’s a good idea or a bad one.

The reason he can do this unilaterally, without the Senate ratifying this “agreement,” is because presidents of the United States enacted these sanctions unilaterally in the first place. The reason they were able to do this is because Congress handed the power over to them. If Congress wants to rescind the statutes granting this power, it can do that. However, it needs a vote big enough to override a veto to get that done, which means that both parties have got to agree to it.

So long as We the People continue tolerating lock-step, straight-party-line voting, which is enforced by party discipline and big corporate campaign money which is also controlled by the parties, that won’t happen. We the People are a major player in this catastrophe precisely because we have allowed party propaganda to persuade us to regard our government like a football game where we cheer on our team.

We have forgotten that government is not a sport. It is deadly business that can kill people on a mass level and for generations. We have also forgotten that the only team that matters is team USA.

Let’s take a moment and look at the sanctions against Iran, since they are the main point of the agreement. Sanctions against Iran began after Islamic radicals of that day seized the American Embassy in Iran and took the staff hostage. This happened in 1979, when Jimmy Carter was president, and, in those relatively naive times, it was a huge deal. Huge.

The United States began its first economic sanctions against Iran during this crisis by ending US importation of Irani oil. This hardly crippled Iran, since lots of countries are willing to buy oil and they don’t care from whom. In 1983, President Reagan declared Iran a state sponsor of terrorism, and ended United States loans to the country. In 1987, the United States entered into an international embargo of Irani ships.

In the 1990s, fears of Iran developing nuclear weapons prompted President Clinton to ban all American investment in Iran and all trade with Iran. The administration froze the assets of companies who violated this ban.

Under President Bush, the United States began freezing the assets of foreign entities that did business with Iran, including companies, both foreign and domestic, who attempted to avoid sanctions by a loan-laundering process called a u-turn.

President Obama has been even more aggressive in his use of sanctions against Iran. He has issued sanctions against all trade with the country, even that involving food and medical supplies. In 2011, Congress got involved in all this by passing a bill that would freeze the assets of banks and other financial firms that did any business with Iran.

None of these Presidents were acting outside the law. Congress itself gave the presidency this power in much the same way that Congress has handed over its responsibility to vote on whether or not this nation will go to war. By the ruse of calling our wars “police actions” or “counter insurgencies” or some such, and bowing out of the decision, Congress has not only castrated itself, it has castrated the American people.

To get back to the “agreement” between President Obama and Iran, the whole thing involves these economic sanctions. The beauty of the sanctions is two-fold. First, not a drop of American blood was spilled on them. Second,  they are working. Iran wants out from under them, and is willing to deal to get there.

This has led us to the supposedly nefarious and at this point, nebulous “agreement” between President Obama and Iran. President Obama has not hidden the fact that an agreement with iran is in the offing. I posted a video from 2013 in which he announced to the American people that the agreement was being developed.

What has changed is the political character of Congress. Republicans now control both the United States House and Senate.

I am not advocating for this agreement. I don’t know enough about it to have an opinion, either for it or against it. I may, after I learn more, oppose it vehemently. I may, on the other hand, support it. At this point, I just do not know enough to say.

But it is clear to anyone who will take off their partisan blinders that the agreement, and the whole question of nuclear war in the Middle East, is being used as a political football.

My concern here has nothing to do with the fact that a good many members of Congress are worried about the ramifications of this particular agreement. Thinking about these things is their job. They should be concerned about it, precisely because it is a grave issue. It is their job to worry about things like this. 

I am also neither outraged nor dismayed because Congress invited Prime Minister Netanyahu to speak to a joint session of their House. It is their House, and they can invite anyone they want. Plus, I do not accept at all the idea that the President should be able to negotiate these agreements without input from both Congress and the American people.

We have a right to know. We also have a right to hear from all parties, including Prime Minister Netanyahu.

As I said, I have no quarrel with Congress wanting to be part of this process. I do not think they should have absented themselves from their responsibilities in the first place.

However, what I’m seeing is not a Congress that is doing its job. I’ve haven’t seen that in a long, long time.

From the 50 members who boycotted Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech, to the 47 Senators who signed the letter to Iran — what I’m seeing is a Congress that has moved its partisan gamesmanship from domestic issues to foreign policy issues.

We need clear, intelligent discussion of this most serious issue. We need members of Congress who are concerned about this nation and who are willing to cross party lines as if there were no party lines to take whatever position they think is right. We are not a nation of the R and the D. We are a nation of We the People.

The Congresspeople we have now are not doing their jobs, haven’t done their jobs for a long time. They are grandstanding for the ’16 elections. In the process, they are endangering American security and, as usual, American lives. Anything they do on this matter or any other matter is tainted from top to bottom by partisan positioning for the ’16 elections. It has reached the point that I do not trust Congressional sincerity in any matter.

Congress has the power to propose initiatives of its own. But it is not doing that. The reason it is not doing that is that taking positive action imposes political risk and political risk might harm their political party’s position in the ’16 elections. I can not say this strongly enough: Members of our Congress are acting on behalf of the two political parties and the money interests that control them, not the American people. 

I wish sincerely that Congress would use its clear Constitutional power to engage in the governance of this nation. That would require, first and foremost, that they start acting as duly elected representatives of the people and not party puppets. That would require them to start thinking and acting as individuals and not some sort of partisan Stepford Congress that marches blindly along party lines without any apparent sense of responsibility to this nation and its people.

The American people have become so inured to our elected officials voting along straight party lines that they have forgotten that this is the antithesis of democracy. These elected officials — of BOTH parties — are not representing their constituents. They are representing the special interests that control their political party.

I know, up close and personal, the price that political parties seek to exact against wayward elected officials who go off the reservation and vote their districts and their consciences. But that is what they are elected to do. 

We the People need to get wise. We need to stop allowing ourselves to be flim-flammed by these two political parties and their constant games.

I’ve said it twice before. Now I’ll say it again. If we let them get away with spreading the corruption of their partisan gamesmanship into foreign policy, they are going to get us killed.

 

Money Talks, Facts Walk in Oklahoma’s Three Horse Economy.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Kool Cats Photography https://www.flickr.com/photos/katsrcool/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Kool Cats Photography https://www.flickr.com/photos/katsrcool/

Oklahoma has a three-horse economy. Here it is in three words:

Agriculture.

Military bases.

Oil.

If you closed down those military bases and lowered the price of crude, Oklahoma’s three horse economy would dry up and blow away like a tumbleweed, bouncing before the wind.

Oklahoma has been riding the crest of an oil boom for years now. This has led to policy decisions at the capitol which will be disastrous for Oklahoma’s people in the long run. The reason they will be disastrous is that these decisions were based on the fantasy that Oklahoma’s current prosperity is a reflection of the genius of lawmakers and their half-brained policy decisions rather than the price of the black gold that comes out of Oklahoma’s red dirt.

Okies don’t like things that hurt the oil industry because the oil industry is the plate that everyone in the state feeds off of in one way or another. Not everyone is black gold rich. But just about every paycheck that gets cashed is related in some way to agriculture, military bases or oil.

You don’t bite the hand that feeds you. The dumbest dog in the kennel knows that.

That’s the reason why the Oklahoma State Geological Survey has been oh-so-quiet about the cause of all those confounding earthquakes that have been shake-rattle-and-rolling the state in recent years. There’s a link between the broken glass from those quakes and the hand that feeds us. In fact, it appears that the hand that feeds us is also the hand that is rocking the earth we stand on.

There seems to be a link between all these Okie earthquakes and fracking. Fracking is a practice of the oil industry, one that makes it more profitable and that adds $$$ to Oklahoma’s money bins, both private and public. We’ve got an oil boom and an earthquake boom and it appears that one of them is causing the other. It also seems that the industry that puts food on our collective table and jingle-jangle in our pockets is rocking and rolling the foundations on which our homes are built.

I’ve read concerns that all these little quakes are building up to a big boy that will really do damage. If that happens, Oklahoma will be in the national news again. It seems that we never get noticed unless we are bombed, beheaded or blown away. If we end up rubble-ized by an earthquake shakedown, I imagine we’ll get noticed again.

A couple of years ago after one of our killer tornadoes, the national media wondered why Okies don’t build more storm shelters. They raised the legitimate question as to why we don’t have storm shelters in our schools. The legislature was unable to address these significant concerns that relate to the public health and safety because of pressure from the Chamber of Commerce, who, as anyone who knows anything about Oklahoma politics is aware, runs Oklahoma state government.

Now, it appears that somebody (any guesses who???) has been deep-sixing scientific data linking our earthquake boom (pun intended) to our oilies. I don’t need a psychic to know who’s going to win this argument.

When you’ve got a three-horse economy, you don’t shoot one of the horses.

From Newsweek:

For years, the Oklahoma Geological Survey (OGS) avoided acknowledging that Oklahoma’s dramatic increase in earthquakes had anything to do with the oil and gas industry, even while federal scientists fully acknowledged the link.

According to new reporting from EnergyWire, OGS’s reluctance to point fingers may have been due to the industry itself.

In 2012, U.S. Geological Survey officials said that a step in the hydraulic fracturing process—the disposal of vast volumes of salty, chemical-laced wastewater by injecting it deep into the ground—was related to the massive spike in Oklahoma earthquakes. OGS, however, responded by criticizing their “rush to judgment.”

“Since early 2010 we have recognized the potential for the Jones earthquake swarm to be due to the Hunton dewatering [oil and gas project],” Austin Holland, an OGS seismologist wrote to USGS science adviser Bill Leith in 2013, according to documents obtained by EnergyWire. “But until we can demonstrate that scientifically or not we were not going to discuss that publicly.”

According to EnergyWire, Holland was called into meetings with his boss, University of Oklahoma President David Boren, and oil executives, to discuss the link.

From StateImpact:

Despite long-held suspicions that the state’s earthquake surge was linked to oil and gas activity, the Oklahoma Geological Survey stayed silent amid pressure from oil company executives, EnergyWire reports.

For this and other interviews, State Seismologist Austin Holland acknowledges “intense personal interest” from energy company executives, but told reporter Mike Soraghan it never affected his scientific findings:

But Holland and OGS have been the voice of skepticism in the scientific community about connections between oil production activities and the hundreds of earthquakes that have shaken the state.

From grist:

Oklahoma has been experiencing an earthquake boom in recent years. In 2014, the state had 585 quakes of at least magnitude 3. Up through 2008, it averaged only three quakes of that strength each year. Something odd is happening.

But scientists at the Oklahoma Geological Survey have downplayed a possible connection between increasing fracking in the state and the increasing number of tremors. Even as other states (Ohio, for example) quickly put two and two together and shut down some drilling operations that were to blame, OGS scientists said that more research was needed before their state took similar steps.

Now, though, emails obtained by EnergyWire reporter Mike Soraghan reveal that the University of Oklahoma and its oil industry funders were putting pressure on OGS scientists to downplay the connection between earthquakes and the injection of fracking wastewater underground. In 2013, a preliminary OGS report noted possible correlation between the two, and OGS signed on to a statement by the U.S. Geological Survey that also noted such linkages.

 

Pope Francis: Discarding the Elderly is Ugly and It is a Sin

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by thierry ehrmann https://www.flickr.com/photos/home_of_chaos/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by thierry ehrmann https://www.flickr.com/photos/home_of_chaos/

This is a powerful message for our Pope on the care of the elderly.

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The Price of Clean Hands: He Died for Refusing a Bribe

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Arlington County https://www.flickr.com/photos/arlingtonva/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Arlington County https://www.flickr.com/photos/arlingtonva/

Officials who take bribes are committing a crime against just and stable government. Considering the enormous harm that unjust and unstable governments do to vast numbers of people, this is, in a very real sense, a crime against humanity.

Countries that are mired in the corruption of bribe taking find themselves unable to defend their citizens against criminal organizations such as Boko Haram.

This is the story of one young Congolese young man who refused a bribe and paid with his life. The Vatican calls him a Christian martyr.

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The ‘Fifty Shades’ Controversy: Sicko Sex and Failed Feminism

Photo Source: Flickr Commons by Ira Gelb https://www.flickr.com/photos/iragelb/

Photo Source: Flickr Commons by Ira Gelb https://www.flickr.com/photos/iragelb/

What is it with women who read Fifty Shades of Gay and who will go to the movie? You got me.

Fifty Shades sounds like the classic masochistic nonsense: Woman redeeming the bad man by allowing him to abuse her. This sort of claptrap has been used to keep women in abusive relationships for millennia. It’s right up there with the “she asked for it” defense of rape.

It is interesting that it’s Christians who are speaking out most strongly against this misogyny. The feminist response, such as it is, has been much weaker and more muted. For instance, this is the only response I found on NOW’s website. There was no comment about Fifty Shades on the National Women’s Political Caucus website.

This is the same old sick stuff that feminists once rightfully condemned with all their force. In my opinion, the popularity of Fifty Shades after decades of feminist work is a sign and a symbol of a failed movement.

One of the commenters in the video below says that linking sex and violence is evil. I absolutely agree. That fact that this sicko movie is the  big box Valentine’s Day release says a lot, and none of it good, about our culture.

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Are the Murders at Chapel Hill a Hate Crime?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Word. https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Word. https://www.flickr.com/photos/waitingfortheword/

Is the murder of three young Muslims in Chapel Hill a hate crime?

In some ways, that question is an oxymoron, because murder is always a hate crime. It doesn’t matter if we label the deed a “crime of passion” a “thrill murder” or the work of a serial killer, murder is always, at some level a crime of hatred.

Murder is also, always, at a slightly deeper point, an act of self-hatred by the murderer his or herself.

People kill other people by accident. But when they do it deliberately and with forethought, it is the worst single expression of hatred that they can put to action. At the same time, there is no way that anyone can take a human life without also killing a piece of their own humanity. That is one way in which murder is a self-hate crime.

But there is another, more direct, way in which it is a crime of self-hatred. Murderers kill other people to destroy something in that person that reflects a part of themselves, their past, or their rage. They kill a piece of themselves when they kill another person, and they do it in a direct and known-only-to-their-deeper-psyche clear-cut way.

Ted Bundy claimed that he was God when he saw the light of life go out in his victim’s eyes. He was nothing of the sort. He was just a man who was killing a hated part of himself every time he killed. Killing is easy. A child can do it. Children do do it.

What is difficult is life. Living together in love despite our differences is the real challenge to our courage. Cowards kill because killing is easy. Only people of courage and conviction reach across that which divides us and offer a hand.

Which brings us back to the killer in Chapel Hill. He has turned out to be an inconvenient hate killer. If he was an evangelical Christian, the story of his rage would be number one. The drums would be beating, pounding out the message that the hate-filled language of certain news outlets and a certain religion that it has become fashionable to bash and trash was the “cause” of his hatred.

But in this case, the killer is inconvenient in the extreme. He’s not an evangelical Christian. He’s an atheist. What’s more, he’s evidently a follower of the more radical and least civil expressions of the socio-political movements of aggressive/destructive atheism. By that I mean he’s “friended” such fine folks as the Freedom From Religion Foundation and other uncivil religion-bashing hate groups.

I want to pause here and make a simple point. Being an atheist is nothing. You don’t believe in God? Big whoop. That’s your business and nobody cares.

But the socio/political movement which has grown up around the hate tropes of such authors as the so-called Four Horsemen of Atheism is another thing altogether. That is an uncivil, dishonest Christian-bashing, religion-bashing hate movement that feeds its followers a constant line of slanders and personal attacks against those who have the temerity to hold other opinions and think other thoughts.

Did the killer of these three young people commit a hate crime in the legal sense? That is questionable, and will, I am sure, become political.

If the killer was an evangelical Christian, the big “yes” would already be out there in numerous media outlets. But this killer himself is all wrong. The group and the movement that he self-identifies with is the new trendy. And much of the media has itself engaged in Christian bashing and faith bashing.

If these murders are hate crimes, then they are among the enablers.

Which is not to say that anyone killed these three people except the man who pulled the trigger on the gun. He, and he alone is responsible for his actions. On the other hand, despite the fact the he and he alone pulled the trigger those who make money off slander and invective, are responsible for what they do, as well.

Were the murders of three innocent young people in Chapel Hill a hate crime? I think they were. I know they were.

Does this hate crime of murder fit the definition of hate crime under the law? Were these three young people murdered specifically because they were Muslim? Was their death a form of racial/religious execution?

I don’t know.

It certainly was a hate crime, as all murders are. The murderer was a sympathizer with groups that run on hatred. There is a blood red rope of hate that leads from the language and the bashing certain groups employ and the crazy mean brains that take it up.

Aggressive atheists are not alone in this, btw. Our public discourse is ugly to the max these days, and that ugliness comes from every point on the social and political compass.

Every day I delete comments that call other people names and seek to base arguments on personal attacks. If I let them through, they would drag this blog down to the hate-sewer in nothing flat. I also delete comments from people who are obviously — and I mean obviously – mental.

A lot of these people are crazy mean atheists, but certainly not all of them. I delete comments from crazy mean Catholics, crazy mean Muslims, crazy mean pagans, crazy mean right-wingnuts, crazy mean left-wing nuts. I even get comments from unaffiliated crazy means who just want to vent that they hate everybody.

The point is that for every single one of these crazy means, somebody out there on the internet is feeding them. The hate-sewers run deep and swift our society. They’ve become big money and a source of political power. When hate-filled invective and crazy mean collide, it can be dangerous.

It can lead to murder.

I can’t tell other bloggers/writers/politicians how to conduct their public discourse. I can’t edit all the books and vet all the movies and television documentaries that push hate.

But what I can do, I will do. And what I can do is keep this blog above that sewer.

I invite those of you who have had enough of these rageful killings to join me.

Is the I Aborted My Baby Because He was a Boy Story a Confabulation?

 

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Elvert Barnes https://www.flickr.com/photos/perspective/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Elvert Barnes https://www.flickr.com/photos/perspective/

The I Aborted My Baby because He was a Boy story is almost too perfect.

By “perfect,” I mean that it reads like someone took every crazy accusation anyone ever leveled against man-hating feminists and characterized them in a blog post. Is this story a not-so-funny first-person prank? Did someone make up a tale about how they murdered their baby boy with abortion?

The bedeviling thing, to me at least, is that I’ve dealt with people just as crazy mean as the author of this post sounds. I’ve dealt with women who are this man-hating, and I’ve dealt with men who are this woman-hating and neither one had any qualms about sharing their viewpoint. That gives the post a certain cultural veracity.

None of the people I’ve dealt with took to the web to write blog posts about it. They either contacted me in anger about legislation I was trying to pass, wanted me to “help” them pass a hateful law, or, occasionally, wanted me to use my legislative powers to “get” somebody for them.

What that means in terms of the I Aborted My Baby Because He was a Boy story is that I know it’s possible it’s the truth. I know this because I’ve met and listened to people who are this crazy, this evil and this self-righteous about their vile beliefs.

I went back to the Injustice Stories web site this morning and read through the posts that it lists. The blog is said to be a forum for individuals to post their own “injustice stories.” Thus, the various blog posts are purportedly written by different people.

I’m not a linguist, but it doesn’t seem to me that the writing style differs from one post to the next. It’s not difficult to tell my writing from Kathy Schiffer’s or that of the Anchoress. All three of us write differently from Deacon Greg. Our writing is a “voice” we use, and it is somewhat unique to each of us. It’s usually that way with people.

I’m not saying that the posts on Injustice Stories are all written by one person. I don’t know that. But I will say that they do not differ in voice or syntax enough to sound like more than one person is doing the writing.

So, the question is out there? Is the I Aborted My Baby Because He was a Boy Story an attempt to prank the internet? Is it true, or is it confabulation?

I don’t know the answer to that.

Confabulation or fact, the story is possible. Sex-selected abortion is a horrible realty all around the world, including here in the United States. The world’s two largest nations by population — China and India — both have seriously lopsided male-female ratios due to sex-selected abortion. Men outnumber women in these countries by margins wide enough to unhinge the social order.

Live Action has released videos of Planned Parenthood counselors in locations all over the United States who are willing to help women obtain abortions simply because their unborn child is a girl. Half a world away, an Australian doctor had to fight to keep his medical license because he refused to either do or refer for a sex-selected abortion.

This is why the I Aborted My Baby Because He was a Boy story is plausible. I don’t know if this particular blog post is a fact or a confabulation. I don’t even know the author’s last name. But I believe that baby boys have been aborted just because they were boys, and right here in the United States.

Why would anyone do that?

Because they can.

When you legalize killing a whole group of people for any reason whatsoever, they will be killed for every reason possible.

We live in a fallen world. We all bear the mark of Cain. Blood guilt is our heritage, born of unending war, violent crime, family violence, abortion and euthanasia.

Legal abortion knocked over the carefully tended wall we had built between human life and our passions. It let the wolves of our own depravity into the fold. We defined a class of people as subhuman and declared open season on killing them.

So why should we be surprised when people avail themselves of this freedom to kill by doing exactly what we have given them the legal right to do: Kill for any reason that suits us.

Is the I Aborted My Baby because He was a Boy story fact or confabulation? If it’s fact, a precious baby boy has been horribly murdered. That matters quite a lot.

But in terms of social/political commentary in which individual lives get swept up and lost in talk of millions dying for decades, no, the veracity of the story does not matter. It does not matter because the laws which allow such things and the belief systems which excuse them are real.

Every abortion kills an innocent person who can not fight back, can not even speak for themselves. We can pretend they are not real, and if confronted by a million ultrasounds attesting to their reality, we can persist and refuse to back down in our claims that they are not human. If that fails, we can fall back on claims that, yes, they are human, but not human enough.

And that concept of not human enough is another slippery slope of illogic claiming to be the heart of rationality that leads even deeper into the abyss. If we can kill human beings because they are not human enough, the door swings wide for euthanasia and after that killing the poor and disabled, the “useless eaters” among us. Not human enough is such a subjective and frail reed of verbal positioning that it falls easily before the next new killing plan.

A large segment of our society has abandoned the notion of moral absolutes and seeks to replace it with verbal positioning. If they can concoct an argument that sounds convincing in their own ears, then whatever they are arguing for becomes their new morality. Ironic as it is, they then claim this newly-minted moral reality of theirs as a moral absolute.

When it comes to legalized killing, there is no bottom for these people. They sincerely believe that it is a moral imperative to allow the legal murder of any group of people that they can convince themselves should be killed. The great wall of the sanctity of human life was breached with legal abortion and that let the wolves in.

Now, they, like satan, prowl about, seeking whom they may destroy.

 

January 22 and Bunnygate

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons, Public  by Elvert Barnes  Protest Photography https://www.flickr.com/photos/perspective/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons, Public by Elvert Barnes Protest Photography https://www.flickr.com/photos/perspective/

I’ve ignored the flap over Pope Francis’ latest airplane interview, mainly because it has no merit.

What I mean is that the carrying-on about the Holy Father’s use of certain phrases has no merit. It seems that Pope Francis affirmed the Catholic Church’s teaching on artificial birth control. In the process, he said that this teaching doesn’t mean that people need to have babies “like rabbits.”

Big deal.

All he meant was that people can use natural family planning. Big news.

The reaction was predictable.

On the one hand, Margery Egan, over at Crux, came out as a full member of The Pope is Catholic, Egad crowd. She reacted with hurt and outrage because Pope Francis stands by the Church’s teaching that artificial birth control is illicit. Here’s a bit of her reaction:

The news that Pope Francis has strongly defended the Church’s ban on artificial birth control left me, in a word, devastated.

I had hoped for so much more from this man.

Although he has not lived it himself, I had thought he understood something about good people living real lives in real marriages. I had thought he even understood something about the beauty of sex in marriage, the need for sex in marriage.

Then we have The Pope is Human, Egad crowd, going full tilt, as well. Most of this is showing up on Facebook and in chat rooms. A lot of people like their popes neat and straight-edged. What they want are popes who come out for display, recite Scripture and Church teaching as if they were programmed by a computer and then quietly go back inside to say their Rosaries.

In case you haven’t gotten the news, Pope Francis is not that kind of pope. He’s so completely relaxed in his papal skin that he just says whatever comes into his head. Fortunately for us, nothing that comes into his head is against the Church. Every single time he makes a comment that the press latches onto and tries to massage into a change in Church teaching, they are using an off-the-cuff comment that did no such thing. Misinterpret as they might, Pope Francis is not going to teach modern nihilism instead of the Gospels.

This good man, our Pope Francis, is Catholic. He’s also human. He’s a pastoral pope who loves to forgive sinners and who is using his papacy to say in every way he can that Jesus meant it when He said He came to save lost sinners.

Margery Egan asked if Pope Francis understands the real lives of real people, including the beauty and goodness of marital sex. The answer is yes, he does. That’s where the ‘you don’t have to reproduce like rabbits’ comment came from. All he meant was that Natural Family Planning works and Catholics should feel free to make use of it.

Now what does Bunnygate have to do with January 22? After all, Bunnygate is just Pope Francis, making good copy, and the media, proving once again just how significant the Church really is in today’s world.

If you doubt that, go stand on your front porch and should “reproduce like rabbits.” Do it several times. The only thing that might happen is that your neighbors will have something new to talk about. The New York Times, BBC, NBC, CBS, CNN and all their pals will give your behavior a big pass.

But when the pope uses such phrases, it’s front page news all around the world. Everything he says, every little gesture he makes, is observed, reported and interpreted according to the interpreter’s prejudice in every media outlet going.

Why?

Because what he says matters.

Because the Church is not irrelevant.

Because Jesus Christ, despite all the attacks and attempts to destroy faith in Him, is Lord, and billions of people bend their knee to Him.

That’s why Bunnygate is Bunnygate. It’s a big deal because the Church and Jesus are big deals.

How does that apply to January 22?

Just this.

The early Christians stopped the practice of exposing infants, primarily baby girls, by three methods. First they refused to do it themselves. Second, they went out and rescued these babies, brought them home and raised them as part of their families. Third, they said it was wrong, over and over and over, until the message finally got through.

January 22 is the anniversary of the day when we resurrected the old practice of discarding unwanted children. We went further after that with our rights talk and brought back the Baals in new form as we sacrificed our babies, our elderly, our sick and even our unhappy people to the little g gods of modern convenience.

In our world today, bunnygate matters because it is the Vicar of Christ, however awkwardly he might phrase it, affirming once again that He is Catholic and that this means that he stands for life. The Church did not waver one inch in that airplane interview. The pope just stuck his foot in his mouth a bit. That’s all.

But he said the right things. He just said them in an off-hand and humorous way.

That is the only part of the interview that matters, which is why I haven’t bothered talking about it until now. The pope reiterated Church teaching. He practiced number three of the three things the early Christians did to overturn the practices of human sacrifice and exposing unwanted babies.

We do our version of number three when we go out into the streets today and march for life. We are saying, once again, that the Supreme Court was wrong. We will continue saying it until the message finally gets through.

At the same time, pro life people must also refuse to engage in abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cells research, egg harvesting and the attendant anti-life activities that saturate our world. Our most important testimony for life is living pro life.

That means we take care of other people. We put people ahead of profit and ahead of convenience. If we believe that the right to life is the first and most essential human right, then we have to behave that way in our private lives and our public lives.

We are called to follow Jesus when we are in the shower and when we are on a stage; when we pay our bills and when we go to work. Most important of all, we are called to follow Jesus in our homes and with our families, in how we treat the people closest to us.

January 22 and Bunnygate go together because they are of a whole. The United States Supreme Court unwittingly called forth Christians to witness to the sanctity of human life. The Holy Father has affirmed that the Church does not back down from this call.

Today is a special day for each of us to re-affirm to ourselves and to others that we stand for life and that we will continue to stand for life in our homes, on our jobs and on the streets until the world finally gets the message.

 

Walking Mama Home

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton. All Rights Reserved.

My mother is slipping away.

Last week, she asked me, “Are we sisters, or cousins, or what?”

The week before, she looked at me vaguely and said, “What are you to me? Are we related?”

Last night, she decided to “cook” a frozen dinner in the microwave and evidently set it for a lllloooonnnnggggg time. It “cooked” until it caught fire.

I was up with her all night long one night last week. We have a doctor’s appointment today, for which her doctor is graciously sacrificing her lunch time to work Mama into her schedule. The purpose? To see if sleeping pills, which I’ve avoided, or anti-depressants, or something will help her sleep through the night so that I can sleep, as well.

Every time I write a post about Mama, a few sick souls comment that situations like this are a fine argument for euthanasia. I almost always delete these things, but they trouble me, just the same.

What is wrong with someone that they could look at a frail elderly person and their first thought is to kill them?

I start stammering when I try to formulate a response to this. Kill my mother? That’s their advice?

Everyday it seems that I am hit with another proof that certain segments of our population are lost souls. Nothing convinces me of this more than these offensive comments about my mother.

We live in a world where the first solution that we offer to human problems is increasingly becoming a demand that we kill the person who is being a problem. We even label one entire group of humans — the unborn — a “problem pregnancy” rather than a human being, and then use this designation as a justification for killing them at will.

The same thing is happening to anyone who has an illness that makes them a ‘burden.” We are moving toward a world where the only people who will have a legal right to life are those who have sufficient wits, energy and means to defend their right to be alive in a court of law.

The Terry Shiavo case demonstrated quite clearly that it is not enough to have people who will advocate for your life in a court of law. The person doing the advocating must be the correct one. Killing someone by taking away their water and food and then letting them die of thirst and starvation could hardly be called “merciful.”

My mother is slipping away. Caring for her is hard. But it is also — and I never hear about this aspect of it — a blessing. Seeing Mama home is a privilege. This long goodbye has a sweetness to it that I never knew existed until I began walking this walk with her.

As for those poor loveless folks who think that the solution to human suffering is to kill the suffering human, I pray for you. Because you are in far worse shape than my Mama will ever be.

Victim Blaming and Catholic Hating: What is Our Response?

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Photo Source: by Chodra from MorgueFile.com

It starts as soon as we can toddle out of our cribs. It rears its ugly head on playdates and in day care and mother’s day out.

By the time we’ve gotten to first grade, “it” is full-blown and set in concrete.

The “it” I’m referring to is the sad human practice of setting aside a member of our group for isolation which turns neatly into group attacks and shunning. Anytime there are more than two people in a group, one of them is going to be the outsider.

When we allow ourselves to give full vent to our Lord of the Flies side, this ugliness rapidly and inexorably becomes bullying and attacking the ones we’ve singled out. There is almost no low to which people will not sink when it comes to group attacks on the hapless outsider.

That, and not lust, is what leads to outrages such as groups of high school jocks, gang raping the mentally challenged girl. It was behind an incident I remember from my own high school years. Several of the the school football players, (why is it so often athletic teammates?) held down a mentally challenged boy and shaved his head in the school hall.

That incident taught me a lot about people, and what it taught me has proven to be ever-true.

I didn’t know what was happening while it was going on. I rounded the corner to go to my journalism class and found the hall completely blocked by a crowd of students. They were yelling and jeering; shoving and jostling.

My journalism teacher, a smallish young woman, was on the periphery, trying to fight her way to the center of the crowd. She was yelling “Stop!”

No one paid attention to her. At one point, one of the jocks reached out and shoved her back. Meanwhile, our school principal and vice principal, both good-sized men, stepped around the corner, saw what was happening, and turned and walked away.

I didn’t know what was going on until the crowd quieted and broke up. Then, I saw the boy, lying on his side on the tile floor, crying like a broken child.

He was mentally challenged. From what I saw, he spent his days in school alone, drifting through his “education,” by being passed on by teachers who just gave him grades. A few weeks before this happened, he had taken to wearing an odd haircut. Nothing really outlandish, just long and, as was his wont, kind of klutzy.

Now, he was lying there crying, with his head shaved, bits of his hair lying on the floor beside him.

It was a huge school. I don’t know this boy. Didn’t know him then. I have no idea where he is now or if he ever got past this assault and the awful humiliation those jocks visited on him. I never saw him again after that day. For all I know, his parents removed him from the school.

They might as well have because it was clear from the first moment that no one except that one hapless and ultimately helpless female teacher was going to come to his rescue. In fact, what happened afterwards was, even though I didn’t know it at the time, a classic of victim blaming/shaming.

No one reproached the letter guys (what we called the school jocks, named for the “letter” on their athletic jackets) for what they had done. The talk around the school, with the single exception of that one journalism teacher who was outraged, was all about how he “deserved” it, how he’d been “asking for it,” by showing up with that hair cut.

It was a lesson that the girls of the school knew well. Those same football players who had shaved the boy’s head lined up outside the cafeteria every day before lunch. The girls of the school had to walk a gauntlet to get to their food.

Letter boys lined both sides of the hall, leaning back and watching the girls go by. There were catcalls and harassments to swallow before we got to our mashed potatoes and jello salad.

A number of the girls complained about this, in fact they complained several times. But those same male principals who turned around and walked away when the jocks were attacking the boy, also turned studiously deaf ears to requests to bring an end to the line up.

That’s what we called it. “The line up.”

Things are no better today. The bullies and jerks of this world still feel free to isolate and attack with impunity. And the rest of us still take a look, turn and walk the other way.

Cowardice in the face of group censure is as strong in the human psyche as the fear of falling. We human beings are not the fastest or the strongest. We don’t have 3 inch claws or fangs jutting down. At the same time, we are big. We can’t be satisfied with a repast of small prey. We’ve got to go after the big stuff.

God made us, from our beginning, reliant on our wits and on one another. The devil does the rest.

The need in each of us to be liked and accepted, to be part of a sheltering group, quickly becomes a keening wail when it is denied. That’s why blaming the victim is such ubiquitous fiction. Because it shelters the group from taking on the group leader, and in far too many instances, the group leader is the bully on the block.

We don’t just find ourselves by accident as part of groups that are run with ruthless disregard for the weak by the biggest and meanest. We tend to actively chose it.

We do this first by following whoever moves. The male psyche in particular is inclined to follow action of any sort. I’ve spent my working life in the company of groups of men and I’ve seen this dynamic play out many times.

We do it second by feeling threatened ourselves when someone else becomes the group goat. We know, whether we will admit it or not, that the ubiquitous “they” who is leading the attacks on this person, can and will turn and attack us if we try to come to their rescue. Besides, we secretly like seeing people get whittled down to size and put in their place. As they shrink, we feel bigger by comparison.

Victim blaming is nothing more nor less than a form of cohesion building within a group. It is a kind of exemplary discipline meted out not so much to the hapless victim as to the group members who line up and join in the victim blaming/shaming. The message is, get with the program or, next time, it will be you.

The Lord of Flies dynamic is the basic dynamic of human groups. It is the single most potent organizing structure we possess: That of uniting against a common enemy. If there is no common enemy, we create one out of the weakest or the easiest to isolate among us.

The internet, with its anonymity, challenges our need to be part of a group. So we form groups around tiny bits of our personalities, such as a single belief or attitude. Then we begin the process of identifying who we can single out and attack as a group activity.

The Vatican recently called internet bullying “a new form of violence.” In that same discussion, internet bullying was defined as “repeated verbal or psychological harassment carried out by an individual or group.” It includes, “mockery, insults, threats, rumors, gossip, disagreeable comments or slander.”

Does that sound familiar? It should, because one group of people who have been singled out for more than their fair share of this stuff is Christians, in particular Roman Catholics.

I could give you quote after quote, headline after headline, in which, if you replaced Catholic with any other group, the public outrage would be over the top. But not us. We are the new people that it’s fun to hate; the new organizing common enemy of quite a number of internet groups.

The question for us — and it is a question that speaks to our survival — is whether or not we will allow the bullies to cut individuals out of our group and then harry them down to the ground. Are we going to join our attackers when they play blame the victim?

Because if we do that, we might as well hang it up. We are salt that has lost its savor. And we are going down.


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