The Supreme Court’s War on Government Of, By and For the People

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by david_jones

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by david_jones

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. 

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. 

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Abraham Lincoln
November 19, 1863


Can the Republic survive a federal government and a Supreme Court that is both corporatist and nihilist?

That is the question.

The United States Supreme Court has been waging a successful war on government of, by and for the people for several decades now. Roe v Wade and Obergefell v Hodges bookend an almost 50-year-old judicial bypass of democracy and the democratic process.

In both instances, the Supreme Court jumped into an arena where the democratic process was working very well. The Court slashed through the democratic process, ending it abruptly and disastrously. The democratic process was dealing with the question of legal abortion in the always-messy, always-effective way that is democracy in action. One state would legalize abortion in certain circumstances, another state would tighten abortion restrictions. The first state would revise its abortion laws again, and a third state would decide to legalize.

It would have taken time, but the democratic process was working this out according to the will of the people. There is no doubt that, if the Court had allowed the process to work, it would have worked. What we would have ended up with would have been a much more just and — this is crucial — culturally-agreed-upon solution. Our laws would have reflected the will of the people, and for that reason, they would have stood. There would have been a lot of electioneering and speechifying, but there would have been no destructive culture war and the resulting breakdown of the body politic which we have seen since Roe.

The Court, by injecting itself into a healthy, working democratic process, and arbitrarily ending that process by the use of the brute force of fictional “findings” in the Constitution, created an on-going Constitutional crisis such as this country had not seen since the Civil War. Flash forward 50 years, and we arrive at Obergefell v Hodges.

Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision was another slam-dunk of the democratic process on an issue that was being debated and legislated over time. There is no doubt that the democratic process would have resolved this issue had the courts stayed out of it. It would have taken time, and again, it would have been messy. But the end result would have been a solution that We the People accepted and that would not have damaged this country.

The DOMA decision of two years ago set the lower courts on their domino effect overturning of state statutes pertaining to the definition of marriage. That allowed the Supreme Court to do exactly what it intended when it overturned DOMA, which was to issue a draconian ruling. Yesterday’s decision was a judicial one-two punch. Anyone with half a brain could see that the issue had been decided when the Court set up the DOMA decision in the first place.

I suppose the lessons of Roe are why they decided to take this backdoor route to legislating from the bench. That, and the opinion polls which gave them the entirely false notion that they were acting in a manner that the public would accept.

Roe and Obergefell bookend tragic overstepping by the Supreme Court that have done and will do incalculable damage to the Republic. Roe shoved into the Constitution the legal fiction that some human beings are not in fact human and their lives have no value under the law. Obergefell destroys marriage as a legal construct. It enshrines cultural nihilism in the 14th Amendment and sets the Constitution on a collision course with itself.

Obergefell inevitably places the Supreme Court in the position of legislative arbiter on the limits and allowances of all manner of American freedoms which we have held dear and fought wars to preserve since this nation’s founding. We are going to see the Court’s ham-handed fine-tunings of the Bill of Rights on a plethora of challenges that will come from yesterday’s ruling. Each one of these subsequent rulings will do damage to American freedoms. Every ruling will limit the rights of We the People and will strengthen the Court’s power as a legislative body with dictatorial powers and no checks and balances.

Notice that I said that the yesterday’s ruling places the Supreme Court as the legislative arbiter. Obergefell is so destructive to the democratic process that it will inevitably remove whole areas of the law from the democratic process and place them entirely in the hands of the Court. The ruling is so nihilistic that it creates an arbitrary legal option for nihilism in future proceedings.

The Supreme Court has set aside democracy.

I mentioned corporatism a few paragraphs back. I am aware that my concern about corporatism confuses many Public Catholic readers. But corporatism, as practiced in America, is government, working entirely for multinational corporations who are like parasites draining every bit of economic vitality out of this country. Corporatism is not only a grave evil, it is the absolute enemy of the Republic.

These twin evils — corporatism and nihilism — are the underlying principles behind many of the Supreme Courts decisions in the past 10 years. The Supreme Court has become anti-democracy and subservient to corporatism.

The Court is not the only institution which serves corporatism and nihilism. Our legislative process is also poisoned by these twin evils, which are, at their root, very similar. Corporatists and nihilists share an absolute contempt for the will of the people. They are bedfellows in their parallel goal of side-stepping and annihilating the democratic process.

Their best friend in this is the United States Supreme Court.

The Court destroyed marriage as a legal entity yesterday. It also created a plethora of avenues by which basic American freedoms can be destroyed.

Advocates of gay marriage may themselves come to rue this decision. It will take time before that happens. A lot of tragedy and excess will have to play out before things get so ripe that everyone can smell the rot. But to the extent that gay marriage advocates value marriage and were simply trying to acquire the good of it for themselves, they have failed. Instead of buying the house, they burned it down.

The question before us is a relatively straightforward one, and the answer, at least to me, is equally straightforward. Can the Republic survive a Supreme Court that is both corporatist and nihilist?

The answer is no.

America may, as Rome did, go on as a great military power long after the Republic is dead. But democracy cannot survive if its own government turns on it and shuts it down. Corporatism, if we do not stop it, will be the death of democracy.

Nihilism, on the other hand, is such an unworkable social construct that it cannot govern at all. No society can survive as a nihilistic society. America will not go on as a great military power shorn of its democracy if nihilism prevails. America will fail horribly and fall into a debacle of ruin if it is governed by the forces of nihilism.

Nihilism and corporatism are very similar. Corporatism, is, at its root profoundly amoral. Nihilism is, at its root, profoundly anti-human.

American civilization was so strong that it has taken these blows and kept on walking. But the Republic cannot operate forever under the governance of corporatism and nihilism. America can be destroyed, not from without, but by the corruption of its institutions.

That is exactly what we are facing with our corporatist/nihilist Supreme Court and its ugly war on government, of, by and for the people.



For other thoughts on Obergefell v Hodges, read what Kathy Schiffer, Simcha Fischer, Pia de SolenniJane the ActuaryFather Michael Duffy, Frank Weathers, the Anchoress and Deacon Greg have to say.

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And While We’re At It, Let’s Talk Global Warming

Mean weather. Moore tornado aftermath. Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Official US Navy Page Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

Mean weather. Moore tornado aftermath. Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Official US Navy Page Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

This is my position on global warming:

I don’t know.

How did I arrive at this non-opinion?

I listened to the dueling experts, and got so confused that I decided to stop thinking about it.

Here is my opinion on climate change:

Something’s happening.

How did I arrive at this vague opinion?

I experienced two unprecedented, record-breaking killer tornadoes in 10 years. I watched as unprecedented weather cycles exploded all around. I saw the photos of the ice caps melting, and what happened after Sandy hit New York and Katrina took out New Orleans.

I think — not know, but think — that something’s happening.

I would like to know for myself, but that would require more effort than I’ve been willing to put into it. The fact is that the only way to even begin to understand all this is if I have the math and the science chops to read the original research – all of the original research, from both sides — and then have the chops to understand and synthesize it. After all that, I’d still be giving my opinion as to what it means. But it would be an informed opinion.

I might, if I, as Okies say, went to school on it, be able to figure out the research. But it would be like bailing out a lake with a bucket to get there. I just don’t have the push to take it on.

There clearly are big money political agendas at play in the argument. We are obviously being propagandized and lied to.

I don’t have the science and math chops to grok the original research on climate change and global warning without making a huge effort at self-education. But I do have the political chops to recognize this hysterical and dishonest tsunami of political propaganda for what it is.

We’re being manipulated in a crude and overbearing fashion. I am, to be honest, a bit flummoxed by how emotional and crazy-acting people who’ve been through this “education” program become whenever someone questions the craziness they’ve been taught. It’s weird to see heretofore passionate Catholics who’ve condemned others for choosing their political kool-aid over the Church flip like a flapjack and do the same thing themselves.

I understand, or I think I do, why they get so angry and out of it when they do this. It’s because they’ve become addicted to being propagandized and the addiction has cut off their thinking, reasoning brains.

If I can get even one or two people to calm down and start thinking with their own brains instead of warping out on repeating what they’ve been taught by people who are manipulating them, I will consider this blog a success. It isn’t so much what they decide, it’s that they, and not the pundits, need to be doing the deciding.

My feeling, which I’ve expressed in the comboxes, is that Pope Francis is the only disinterested party who’s spoken on climate and global warming. He is also the only honest man of the bunch. I trust that Pope Francis is speaking from the heart of Christ and that he — and he alone of all the many blabby pundits opining on this topic — is speaking on behalf  of the poor, the disenfranchised, those without voice in the world’s affairs, and indeed, for all of us.

I absolutely believe that Pope Francis is speaking for the common good.

He’s the only commenter in this whole thing that I respect and trust.

So, I take what he says, including things he says when he evaluates scientific data, very seriously indeed.

I chose Christ. I am convinced that the simplest way, indeed the only way I can follow Christ with surety that I am doing it right, is by following the teachings of the Catholic Church.

I’ve done my deal on being my own god and making my own rules. I’ve sown and reaped the whirlwind of my own moral devisings. It is to me a sign of peace and hope that I can follow the teachings of my Church and not be forced, as Scripture says, to “rely on my own understanding.”

I want to trust in the Lord and do good.

That means, among other things, that when Pope Francis says something, I don’t go off in a rage and throw dirt in the air and pound a stick on the ground like an angry ape. My first reaction must be respect and trust.

I haven’t cancelled out my thinking brain. I took exception to his call to do away with life sentences because I honestly believe that there are certain people who must be locked up to ensure the public safety. But me, taking exception with the pope, is, as we say here in Oklahoma, as rare as hen’s teeth.

Even then, I did not dismiss what the pope said out of hand, and I certainly did not dismiss it in favor of some vicious talking head on tv or internet pundit. I based my reaction on a lifetime of dealing with both the perpetrators and the victims of violent crime in my former house district.

I looked at it from the perspective of someone who has considered these matters for almost two decades while living with the responsibility of having to decide. I have given a lot of thought and had to make many hard decisions about how to create laws that would allow for both justice and the public safety in these matters.

In short, I had a lot of experience and knowledge on which to form my opinion, and I tried to base my conclusions on what is best for the common good. More to the point, I did not — and will never — challenge Pope Francis’ authority in my life as my papa, the Holy Father.

For the same reasons, I am going to accept what he says about global warming. I don’t have the knowledge, understanding and longtime experience in the area of climatology to form an intelligent opinion. I honestly do not know of my own understanding what is fact and what is flim-flam in the discussions of global warming.

I am certain without doubt that there are lying liars afoot and that the reason for all the lying is $$$$$.

The one person I trust who has spoken on this is the pope.

Now, I’m going to let Public Catholic readers thrash this out. But be warned: I am a Catholic woman and this is a Catholic blog. Disrespecting the pope is not allowed here.

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House Undoes What it Did and Passes Fast Track on Pacific Trade Bill

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

You just can’t get Congress to be Congress anymore.

A few days after the United States House of Representatives denied President Obama sweeping powers to put through the Pacific trade deal, it reversed itself and passed fast track in a separate piece of legislation.

I know this sounds cynical, but that lets the good Congresspeople claim that they voted with whoever they are talking to on this measure. If they are talking to those who favor the Pacific trade agreement, then they point to this vote. If they are talking to people who want to preserve American jobs, they can point to last week’s vote.

If an opponent in a re-election campaign attacks them for backing the Pacific trade bill (when they’re talking to We the People, they almost always have to deny supporting this thing) they can call them a liar and say they voted to stop fast track.

When they go to the corporatists with their hands out for campaign money, all they gotta do is explain that they were forced to vote against fast track in the first vote because the rubes in their district demanded it. But they made good on their real campaign promises to the money men with the second vote.

It will work. It always does.

From The Hill:

The House on Thursday took the first step toward resuscitating the White House’s trade agenda by passing legislation granting President Obama fast-track authority.

The bill now goes to the Senate, where the White House and GOP leaders are seeking to strike a deal with pro-trade Democrats.

The House vote was 218-208, with 28 Democrats voting for it.

This is the second time in a week the House has voted to approve the controversial fast-track bill. On Friday, the House voted 219-211 in favor of fast-track, which would make it easier for Obama to complete a sweeping trans-Pacific trade deal.

In last week’s vote, the House GOP paired the fast-track bill with a measure known as Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) that gives aid to workers displaced by trade. Both measures needed to be approved in separate votes for the entire package to move forward.

House Democrats have historically favored TAA, but they voted against it on Friday to kill fast-track, which is deeply opposed by unions and other liberal groups.

The White House still wants both measures to reach Obama’s desk, but is now advancing a different strategy that would see the two bills move separately.



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Fourteen Things Laudato Si Says. Nine Things It Does Not Say.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Word

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Word

I’m pretty sure that most of the people who’ve been snarling and sniping about Pope Francis’ latest encyclical have not read it.

The reason I say that is that they are angry — purple in the face, hissing and spitting angry — about things it does not say. They are also angry about things they claim it doesn’t say that it in fact does.

Laudato Si has a simple underlying argument. Pope Francis reasons that our spiritual bankruptcy has led us into destroying our earth, along with destroying ourselves. He teaches that the loss of respect for the human through our attacks on the sanctity of human life have led us into an extreme individualism that has in turn led us to a destructive relativism.

This shallow and meretricious outlook on life has caused us to befoul and slime our own nest, our home, which is this planet Earth.

Our financial, economic, social and political institutions, all of which should serve the common good, now operate only for their own immediate competitive success, without the element of moral responsibility on the part of those who control them. This deforms human life on a mass scale and leads to the destruction of the planet on which we live.

He calls this destruction of human value and human community a destruction of the human ecology. His teaching is that the human ecology and the natural ecology are linked and interwoven, as they must be if human beings have dominion over the earth.

Laudato Si states at one point that the decision of whether or not to leave a dead planet to future generations is ours to make.

Media pundits have used false claims about what Laudato Si says to get gullible people worked up into a hysteria.

Here are 9 things that Laudato Si does not say, but that people have been told it does.

1. Laudato Si does not attack the free enterprise system.

2. Laudato Si does not advocate Marxism. (This would be laughable except that foolish people keep falling for it.)

3. Laudato Si does not advocate socialism.

4. Laudato Si does not support population control.

5. Laudato Si does not support abortion.

6. Laudato Si does not support contraception.

7. Laudato Si does not support a global tyranny of nutty “greenies” who would take away all our freedoms.

8. Laudato Si does not support doing away with private property.

9. Laudato Si does not recommend specific legislation or reforms.

Here are 14 things Laudato Si does say

1. Laudato Si recommends support for forming small businesses on a global scale.

2. Laudato Si directly links disregard for the environment with the cheapening of human life caused by abortion, saying that when human life becomes conditional, nothing else is protected either.

3. Laudato Si specifically condemns the idea that population control is the way to “save the environment.”

4. Laudato Si specifically condemns business practices which ignore human rights and encourage human trafficking, drug trafficking, disruption of populations, seizure of individual’s property and wars for profit. It also condemns embryonic stem cell research and attempting to destroy the complimentarity between men and women.

5. Laudato Si calls for respect for local cultures and economic reforms which take the common good and human life into consideration.

6. Laudato Si says that all of life is interrelated and that human beings, as stewards of the earth have a grave responsibility to care for it.

7. Laudato Si condemns the out-sized consumption of goods by some parts of the world (ouch) which leads to impoverishment of people in other parts of the world. It calls us to look beyond consumerism to God to fill the emptiness of our lives.

8. Laudato Si says that access to life-giving water is a human right.

9. Laudato Si says that technology, if we use it incorrectly, can isolate and divide us.

10. Laudato Si condemns keeping poor people under a load of debt that makes it impossible for them to build lives for themselves.

11. Laudato Si exhorts us to develop solutions for housing crises which leave so many people homeless.

12. Laudato Si emphasizes the kinship and value of every living being. It also condemns extreme animal rights advocates who place greater value on animal life than human life and who would create a false tyranny with their ideologies.

13. Laudato Si calls for reforms of corruption in our financial systems.

14. Laudato Si says that the evidence for global warming comes from reputable scientific sources.


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Laudato Si is Pope Francis’ Rerum Novarum, or No Wonder Rush Limbaugh Hates the Pope.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Word

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Waiting for the Word

Make no mistake about it. Laudato Si is not a wimpy, tip-toe-around-and-don’t-offend-anybody encyclical. It’s a throw-the-money-changers out of the Temple revolution of an encyclical.

No wonder Rush Limbaugh hates this pope.

A lot of you are going to find yourself challenged by Laudato Si, precisely because Pope Francis does not give you the option of ignoring what he’s saying. You can decide to go against the pope. Or you can decide to walk with him.

But you can’t pretend he didn’t say what he said.

Pope Francis comes right out and says that global warming — along with a lot of other things — is leading us to a dark future. He points out the spiritual hollowness a society whose chief goal is to blindly consume, and whose community has dwindled to the internet. He says that access to life-sustaining water is a human right, and blasts corporatist control of the earth’s riches to the destruction of the poor.

This is a long Encyclical and unpacking it will take a while. But here is my first thought about it. It is a thought based on a memory and a historical fact.

The memory is of a conversation I had with a friend over a decade ago. My friend and I were talking about the universal sins of each time in history, sins that the people of that time are blind to. What we meant was that when a behavior is universally accepted and no one questions it, even great sins can pass unnoticed by the people committing them. Racism was once such a sin here in America.

Later generations often look back and are appalled by the cruelty and ignorance of their forebears. But they are committing their own sins of cultural blindness, even while they express their disdain for their forebears.

I remarked that I thought that one of the things about which future generations would look back at our time and ask “Why didn’t you do something? Were you blind?” was going to be the environment. If we bequeath a ruined earth to our grandchildren, what will they think of us?

The second thing I want to base my reaction on is a historical fact. That fact is simple. The Popes of the 1930s and 1940s did not issue an encyclical against the Nazis. An encyclical was drafted, and from what I’ve read of it, it was a strong and powerful document.

If that encyclical had been issued instead of shoved in a drawer, the many questions about what the Church did during those dark times would have a clear and compelling moral answer. I believe without doubt that if that encyclical had been issued, all of history since 1930 would be different.

Would the encyclical have stopped Hitler? Probably not. But it would have fueled the resistance to his evils by faithful Catholics. It would have either silenced the go-along German bishops who have become the shame of the Church or it would have exposed them for the anti-Christs that they were. It would have strengthened and ennobled the moral and prophetic voice of the Church for all time.

The failure to issue that encyclical was such an appalling failure of the Church that all of Christianity has been paying for it ever since.

Seen in the light of that memory and that history, I can say without equivocation that I am glad beyond glad that Pope Francis has taken the historic step of issuing this encyclical. I know that it is will unsettle a lot of Catholics who have up until now felt comfortable in their political fealties. I know that is painful. Believe me, I’ve been through such pain myself. In fact, I feel a bit of that pain with Laudato Si.

But it is necessary. Among other things, Pope Francis puts down the corporatist-created heresy that our followership of Jesus Christ stops where commerce begins.

Both the right wing and the left wing of our political spectrum want the Church to shut up and go along where their particular sins are concerned. They both claim, each with their own language, that when it comes to their sins, Jesus Christ is irrelevant.

They are both self-serving liars.

By writing this encyclical in such bold terms Pope Francis demonstrates what Hitler managed to keep an earlier pope from demonstrating: That Jesus Christ  is the Lord of all life and that He is never irrelevant, no matter the topic of conversation.

Now, to get to the touchy matter of global warming. What to do with a Pope who does not equivocate when he says that reputable science shows that global warming is, in fact, happening?

First, the Pope does not say this as a matter of morality. He bases his statement on what he terms reputable scientific studies. I am not advocating that anyone drop kick the pope’s opinion on this in favor of Rush Limbaugh’s.

Pope Francis has a scientific background, and more to the point, he has nothing to gain and lot of to lose by making this statement. The talking heads of the world are highly paid mouthpieces who get their money from the people who benefit financially by the public not believing in global warming.

If I had to pick who to believe, it would be Pope Francis without any question. The vicious and totally untrue attacks on Pope Francis’ good name by the minions of the right have convinced me that nothing they have to say about the Catholic Church or our Holy Father is worth hearing. I think they’re all about the money. Their own money.

What Pope Francis does say as a matter of morality is that we have a responsibility to the earth, to all lifeforms and to the poor. This is sound Christian theology. It is the historic understanding of our call as Christians as regards these matters.

We can think — and by that I mean think, not be led around by pundit pied pipers who slander and slime the pope –and let think on matters of scientific investigation. We do have an obligation to think and not just repeat one-sided arguments that are designed to induce us to allow ourselves to be used.

It is important to the max to listen and read widely about an issue as contentious as this. I say that because it is a grave issue. The wanton destruction of entire species and ecosystems, the loss of breathable air and drinkable water, the unnecessary deaths of millions of people to preventable illnesses that are caused by pollution, starvation and thirst are, all of them, intrinsic evils. The rape of the earth is a violation of our first compact with God to have dominion over creation.

We have, as Christians always do, the freedom to think and let think on the particulars of the science of these matters. But we have an absolute moral obligation to approach the question with integrity instead of political sloganeering, from a vantage of concern for the common good, the welfare of the least of these and the provision of a hope and future for the generations who come after us.

We are Christians and we are called to more than to live only for ourselves with no regard for anyone or anything else in all of creation or in the future.

This is my first blush impression of Laudato Si.

I’m going to read it carefully and write about it extensively. I think we may be in the presence of an encyclical as important as Rerum Novarum.

Make no mistake about it folks. Pope Francis is kind, approachable and unassuming. But he is not a wimp.


For other thoughts on the Encyclical, read All of Our Sin, All of Our Hatred, on Trial by the Anchoress,  Reading Francis Through Francis by Kate O’Hare, So Much to Say, So Much to Learn by Kathy Schiffer, Should You Read Laudato Si? by Simcha Fisher, Patriarch Barthelomew on the Encyclical: We Count it a True Blessing, by Deacon Greg Kandra, The Pearl of Great Price by Mark Shea, 3 Sources to Understanding Pope Francis’ Encyclical by Pia Solenni, Laudato Si, Hold Your Breath, Make a Wish, Count to Three by Tom McDonald, Why is THIS Missing from Pope Francis’ Environmental Encyclical? by Dr Greg Popcak.

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Climate Change Crosses Political Lines: What’s a Bishop to Do?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by USCCB Migration and Refugee Service

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by USCCB Migration and Refugee Service

So, Pope Francis has written a soon-to-be-released encyclical on the environment.

Long before we got this close to actually reading the document itself, we’ve been treated to histrionics and “instructions” to the Holy Father to mind his own pontifical business.

Rush Limbaugh took time away from counting his money to come out against the encyclical he had not read. Predictably, he based his thinking on his own greed-is-good theology. Now, he’s running his jaws, flapping about a “leaked” version of the encyclical, which, for all we know, a Vatican janitor pulled out of the trash. Of course, Mr Limbaugh repeats his slanders about the pope being a “Marxist” while he’s doing this.

Presidential candidate Rick Santorum chimed in a few weeks ago, instructing Pope Francis to “back off” talking about climate change. His logic? The Church should steer away from scientific questions. According to Fox News, an unnamed blogger at First Things “accused the pope of promoting ‘theologized propaganda’ on conservation — a post the journal’s editor later disavowed.”

According to WMAL, the GOP is on the verge of doing battle with Pope Francis over climate change. USA Today has written an article stating what is obvious to anyone who understands politics: The opposition to this encyclical is about money.

In the meantime, environmentalists and liberals are tuning up for their happy dance. I have no doubt that their interpretations of the upcoming encyclical will be as self-serving and inaccurate as those of Mr Limbaugh, et al.

Every pope in recent memory has spoken out about the environment. Every pope in recent memory has taken a strong stand against the evils of corporatism, which is organized greed wedded to government power. Why is Pope Francis any different?

The answer to that is as obvious as the answer to why corporatists oppose him with such venom: People are listening to this pope. They’re paying attention to what he says. For the first time in a long time, ordinary people see the Church as accessible. Pope Francis is a father figure to billions of people who never listened to the Church before.

He has shifted the Church away from the appearance of partisan alliances and given it the old-time Gospel outlook of a Church that is beholden to no political party or faction. That is exactly as it should be. The Church should have one Master, one Lord, and that is Jesus Christ.

Contrary to what the nay-sayers are yapping about, Pope Francis is entirely within his purview when he addresses the environment. Human beings were explicitly told from the beginning that we have “dominion” over this earth. We were commanded to care for it as good husbandmen, to lead it to be fruitful and to bring forth its goodness for all humanity, for all time.

Corporatism is the antithesis of this. Corporatism is evil, and like all evil, it only destroys. Corporatism rapes the environment. Corporatism cuts down the rainforests, and plunders the wealth of the ground, all the while displacing people, shutting them into economic slavery and destroying both their hope and their future. Corporatism destroys life on a global scale; wiping out whole species of beings like mowing down grass.

Of course corporatism’s well-paid mouthpieces fear this pope and his message. Of course, they are enraged by the very thought of this upcoming encyclical.

All this presents the American bishops with an unsettling conundrum, one that, like most of their problems, is at least partly of their own making.

America’s Catholic bishops sit on shaky thrones. Their prophetic voice has been chipped and scarred by the clergy sex abuse scandal. Their authority and ability to teach is compromised by the refusal of priests in the parish to carry the message on critical issues such as the sanctity of marriage.

The bishops were forced to reach over the heads of their priests and go directly to the people in the pews in the matter of the HHS Mandate. It is to the everlasting credit of the pew-sitters that they found loyalty and support there in this critical fight for religious freedom.

Now, with this encyclical, they have to go in y0ur face with their most loyal followers. The civil religion, which worships at the altars of the R and the D, is divided cleanly along party lines. The Ds support abortion, backed the HHS Mandate and have fallen over backwards into gay marriage. The Rs have become the only home that faithful Catholics feel they have in the political sphere.

Given that the level of teaching at many of our parishes tends toward a Hallmark card Christianity that no longer addresses the lived reality of many of those in the pews, serious Catholics have been taking more and more of their “teaching” on theological matters from the Republican Party.

This was frankly encouraged by the original founders of the religious right such as Jerry Falwell. Rev Falwell, and most of his fellows, imposed their own political beliefs on the Gospels. They did this even when those political beliefs ran counter to what the Gospels themselves plainly said.

As a result, the religious right deified corporatism. The Catholic Church did not join in with this heresy. But the bishops and the parish priests did not oppose it in the kind of clear language that is necessary to teach the people in the pews. They failed, at a critical juncture, to effectively teach the constant teachings of the Church. These teachings go back in a straight line, from one pope to the next, for hundreds of years. But the people in the pews never got the message.

This created a vacuum where there should have been legitimate Christian teaching. This vacuum left the people in the pews to make up their own theology. Over time, they were seduced by the civil religion of party politics. Faithful Catholics in the pews came to substitute the civil religion for Christianity in matters concerning economics. They exchanged the teachings of right-wing corporatists for the constant teaching of the Church in economic matters.

Now they are hardened in this heresy. And the bishops stand hapless, unable to figure out how to set things right.

At the same time, “progressive” churches did their part by bastardizing the Gospels on issues life, marriage, gender identity and the sexualizing of women and children. Left and right, they both cut their religion to suit their politics. The political heresy reigned.

Nobody in the religious sphere, other than the popes themselves, was teaching the whole Gospel of Christ.

Now, after decades of this, we are reaping the whirlwind.

Part of the damage of that whirlwind is that the American bishops are now faced with teaching an encyclical in parishes where the most faithful of the parishioners have drunk so deeply of the Republican Kool-Aid that they actually place more trust in the likes of Rush Limbaugh than they do the Vicar of Christ. These are people who are dying for leadership. They want to be led. They’ve settled on following the teachings of their political party rather than the teachings of their Church.

I haven’t read the encyclical Pope Francis has written on the environment. But I do not doubt that it is based on the simple fact that humanity’s dominion over creation is a responsibility, and not just an opportunity for destructive exploitation by the few to the detriment of everyone else.

Pope Francis is Peter. Think carefully before you follow the R or the D instead of the Church created by Christ the Lord.

As for the American bishops, my heart goes out to them. They are in such a mess, and they don’t appear, most of them, to be up to the task in front of them.

One thing I know: We don’t need institutionalized “company” men, at this time. We need men of God.

From The New York Times:

… With Francis expected to make the case that climate change, unchecked development and overconsumption are exacerbating the suffering of the poor, advocates for the environment and the poor are thrilled.

But the leaders of the Catholic Church in the United States may be harder to win over. At the spring meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops here last week, bishops from around the country said they were withholding their enthusiasm until they saw the document on Thursday.

Some said they were wary about getting the church enmeshed in the debate over climate change, a contentious issue in the United States. They also expressed concern about allying with environmentalists, some of whom promote population control as a remedy, since the church sees abortion and contraception as great evils.

Some bishops said they had received hate mail from Catholics skeptical of climate change. That has added to the bishops’ hesitation and confusion on the topic.

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House Defeats Pacific Trade Fast Track

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

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

The United States House of Representatives has defeated the fast track on the Pacific Trade Agreement.

This is what happens with Democrats and Republicans come together.

I’m sure that they voted together for different reasons. That’s the way things work, when they work. But the point is that the United States House of Representatives turned by the Imperial Presidency by voting no on the fast tracking of the Pacific Trade agreement.

This vote puts the trade agreement back on a normal path, where it can be amended and its contents can be discussed. I am entirely aware that many Republicans voted against fast-tracking simply because they saw it as an opportunity to embarrass the president. I am also aware that the Democrats voted against it because they wanted to preserve American jobs.

I am also aware, that the American people won this round, at least for now. That’s so unusual that it, alone is cause to celebrate. Now if we can just get Congress to realize that they can actually pass laws, even if they read them, discuss them and amend them like grown up lawmakers, we’ll really have a miracle.

From The New York Times:

WASHINGTON — House Democrats rebuffed a dramatic personal appeal from President Obama on Friday, torpedoing his ambitious push to expand his trade negotiating power — and, quite likely, his chance to secure a legacy-defining trade accord spanning the Pacific Ocean.

In a remarkable rejection of a president they have resolutely backed, House Democrats voted to kill assistance to workers displaced by global trade, a program their party created and has stood by for four decades. By doing so, they brought down legislation granting the president trade promotion authority — the power to negotiate trade deals that cannot be amended or filibustered by Congress — before it could even come to a final vote.

“We want a better deal for America’s workers,” said Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the House minority leader who has guided the president’s agenda for two terms and was personally lobbied by Mr. Obama until the last minute.

Republican leaders tried to muster support from their own party for trade adjustment assistance, a program they have long derided as an ineffective waste of money and sop to organized labor. But not enough Republicans were willing to save the program.

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The Junk Food Fix is More Than One Person’s Bad Choice. It’s an American Problem.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Maurice Svay

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Maurice Svay

My brave, witty and beautiful colleague, Katrina Fernandez, writes with the uninhibited gusto of a natural born wordsmith.

She has her finger on the pulse of the American condition. Her struggles with making ends meet as a single Mom in our current “jobless recovery” echo those of a lot of people I know, including my own family members. Her passion for Christ and His Church, her love of art and her fearless honesty make her one of the best reads on the internet.

Katrina has lately taken on the bugaboo of a whole raft of us working class Americans:  the demoralizing and doomed-to-defeat battle against overweight. Every word she writes, I can affirm from my own overweight life. Every defeat she encounters, every frustration and every small victory are experiences that millions of us have shared.

This topic of discussion fascinates a lot of us for the simple reason that Katrina is not alone in her predicament. Most of us live our lives in what Thoreau once described as “quiet desperation.” The difference is, in today’s world there is nothing quiet about our desperation.

We shout our frustrations for all the world to hear, but, despite our shouting, we do not comprehend them. How much of our food obsession and chronic widespread obesity is a reaction to the larger desperation of people who are pushed as far as they can be every single day of their lives?

All you have to do is leave this country and spend a few days in a place like Spain to come back and see and feel for yourself the driven, nerved-up atmosphere of our America. We are living through an implosion of our national wealth which is being siphoned off from the many and redeposited in the bank accounts of the very, very few.

We are, in fact and in truth, being systematically stolen blind by our government, which is the operative force in this theft.

What I’m saying is that we are getting poorer every single day. It is becoming harder and harder for ordinary Americans to make enough money to keep a roof over their heads, food on the table and a running car in the garage.

We have splintered our families to the point that vast numbers of Americans are trying to row their boat with one hand. Single parents try to be two people. But they can’t. Not really.

We work long hours for low pay and fewer benefits every year. We send our children to substandard schools that throw them into contact with drugs, gangs and that teach them moral nihilism. Our tax dollars are used to manipulate our children into a valueless worldview that is anathema to us and to their futures.

We are forced to leave our children alone in our homes for many hours a week while we try to make a living. We face a future in which any chance of getting off the treadmill to retire is being challenged by politicians who work for corporatists who want this last big pool of money, which is the retirement savings of generations, for their own use.

We are tired to the point of exhaustion almost every day of our lives. We do not have the energy and leisure for reflection and thought. At the same time, the media bombards us constantly with one pounding crisis after another. We are propagandized, lied to and manipulated in a deliberate fashion on a constant basis by this same media.

At the end of our long day, we do not feel like cooking a meal. We are too tired to wheel a shopping cart through a grocery store. It is simpler and in fact less expensive to go through the drive-through at the local fast food joint and pick up a sack of something. We can be sure that this something will be heavily seasoned with fat, sugar and salt. We can be equally sure that it will not contain anything resembling a balance of food types and nutrients.

But we have learned to find satisfaction in the sledge-hammer hit of fats, sugar and salt. The carbs and fats hit our systems like a drug fix. They energize us for the moment and the powerful tastes assuage our longing for pleasure. Eating this stuff passes for a momentary time-out. It feels like comfort.

Food, used like this, is not about nourishment. It is not the pleasurable and relaxing experience of partaking of a well-balanced, home-cooked meal with family and friends. There is no lingering over the last morsel and laughing about the day’s problems.

This kind of eating is a buy-it-quick, stuff-it-down fix. We need the outlandish calorie counts supplied by all that fat and sugar to satisfy our hunger because the food itself is so low in so many essential nutrients. The sugar-fat-salt fix soothes our taste buds and raises our blood sugar so that we feel a short-lived high.

Of course, this doesn’t last. Unlike a real meal composed of good food, the high from this something we’ve bought at the drive through goes away in a relatively short time. Unlike a meal at the kitchen table with friends and family, it does nothing to relieve the day’s pressures and assuage the anxieties that keep us up at night, even when we ache from tiredness.

Before we have begun to burn the high number of calories we’ve consumed, the gnawing hungers, both physical and emotional, are back. Our bodies push us to eat again because they haven’t been properly nourished. Our minds beg us to binge because we need surcease from being, as Alcoholics Anonymous says, too hungry, angry, lonely and tired.

We have nobody to talk to. We have no other outlets in our time-starved lives where we can vent. We are pushed around, abandoned, scared and alone with our miseries. We really are too hungry, angry, lonely and tired to fend off that call for a junk food fix.

Our national problem with obesity is not so much a problem with food as it is that we don’t have healthy options for dealing with the many desperations of our existence. We live in a nation that has been at war for almost 15 years. Our country has been economically at war since around 1939.

Our government has been hijacked by corporatists who are draining the national purse as well as our private purses and taking the money for themselves. The government tells us that inflation is flat, yet every time we go to the grocery store or fill a prescription or guy a gallon of gas, we know that this is not true. Inflation is, in fact, running pretty high. The government has just cooked the books so it does not have to admit it.

The stock market has been going up and up, yet the people of this country can’t find jobs and when they do find jobs, they can’t live on what they are paid. They do not have retirements, the roads and bridges aren’t being repaired, tuition keeps going up and scads of people can not afford the health insurance being offered by the Affordable Health Care Act.

There isn’t time in most people’s lives to drop in at a gym and work out every day. Besides, people who never get enough sleep at night don’t feel like working out. The only pleasure a lot of people in this country get on a reliable basis is stuffing down that junk food they got from the drive through.

I’ve come to the conclusion that we will not solve the problem of widespread obesity in this country until and unless we solve the problems of lost community, no free time and fear of the future that haunts the American people. I’ve also come to the conclusion that it’s up to us to do this for ourselves.

Widespread obesity is a symptom of many huge problems facing the American people. If you find your community on the internet, instead of the flesh and blood people around you, if you are chronically exhausted from lack of sleep, if you ache all over from lack of exercise, if you can’t find a job or if you have a job, it doesn’t pay your bills, if you have no idea whatsoever where you would go or who would take care of you if you got cancer or when you grow old, then you are not living the American dream. You are living the American nightmare.

Is it any wonder that you find it so hard to give up the one pleasure you have? When a Big Mac becomes the best thing in your life, you won’t be able to stay away from it, no matter how hard you try.

We the People tamed this continent. We built railroads across the wilderness, created an industrial empire like nothing the world had ever seen. We won world wars and put men on the moon. We created a standard of living, not just for the few, but for a whole nation of Americans, that, again, the world had never seen before.

Now it is being taken from us. The only thing our government seems capable of doing is waging constant war. It will not spend our money on us. It does not build roads, does not provide decent education. It goes in your face against our values and needs.

The government has steadily siphoned off the wealth of this great nation for decades now. It has transferred monies that once enriched all the citizens of this nation into the hands of a few. It has exported our industrial base and the jobs that go with it. It has ignored the people on a consistent, bi-partisan basis.

Meanwhile, We the People tear our lives apart with senseless divorces, too much debt, increasingly splintered communities, zoning out in front of the computer or the television, and of course, those trips through the junk food drive throughs.

We are sitting by while we are being stolen blind by our own government, while our young people turn feral from no family life, bad schools and sicko social values and while we commit slow suicide from overeating, under exercising and constant sleep deprivation.

I am not speaking of these thing from the outside. I am one with most of these problems. I eat out too much, don’t exercise enough and so seldom get enough sleep that when I do I am astonished by how good I feel. Over-eating, under-exercising exhaustion is my normal.

I’ve decided I’m going to join brave Katrina Fernandez and blog about my own battle of the bulge. I’ve done this before when I published a series of posts under the title, Less of Me. I’m going to resurrect that title and post under it again.

I see overweight/under-exercise/lack of sleep as a widespread societal problem and a deeply humiliating and utterly defeating personal problem.

If there is a way out of this cycle, I have never found it.

If you want to read something like Ten Quick Fixes for Weight Loss, you need to skip my discussion and go somewhere else. However, I can guarantee you before you go there that it will not help you one bit to read those ten quick fixes. Because there aren’t any quick fixes. Because the problem itself is bigger than the individual. Because when an entire nation of people experience such a devastating malady as this, there is much more afoot than simple lack of will power and bad personal decisions.

The junk food fix and everything that goes with it is a societal problem. It is a maladjustment and a source of illness for tens of millions of Americans.

I am one of those Americans.

Let’s talk.





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Should Medicare be Forced to Pay for Sex Change Surgery?


Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by

UPDATE: I first published this post in 2013. I am publishing it again today because the concerns it raises are still valid. Should Medicare pay for sex change surgery? I don’t think so. The Obama Administration’s Department of Health and Human Services ruled in 2014 that Medicare would pay for sex change surgeries. Meanwhile, agitation to reduce coverage for Medicare payments for elderly health care, and agitation to euthanize the frail elderly continues. 


I’m going to get roasted and toasted for this post. It would be hard to say anything more politically incorrect that what my typing fingers are about to type here on this blog. Let me begin with a vignette from my daily life. 

A few days ago, I was in a committee meeting in which we were discussing amendments to Oklahoma’s advanced directive laws. Several doctors testified about this legislation. During questions and answers, one of them remarked, “A patient can’t come to a medical practitioner and ask him or her to cut off their healthy legs and have them do it.” No one on the committee reacted to this statement because it is so obviously true.

If I went to a plastic surgeon and asked them to cut off my nose, they would call for a psych evaluation. If I went to a orthopedist and asked him to cut off my hands, he or she would do exactly the same thing. Why? Because a persistent  compulsion to mutilate myself would be an indication of mental illness. 

However, if I went to a doctor and asked him or her to cut off my genital organs and then re-shape the stubby leftovers into the appearance of the genital organs of a man, and if I further demanded that I be given massive doses of hormones to force my body to mimic secondary male characteristics such as a deeper voice and a beard, the doctor and everyone else in our society would be forced under threat of being called a bigot to pretend that this was not a mental health problem, but “normal” behavior on my part.

I could change my name to Regis, dress in a pinstripe suit, use the men’s bathroom and probably go on to demand the right to farm other women’s bodies for eggs in order to create a designer baby for me to raise, if I wanted.

Of course, what I wouldn’t be is an actual man. I would be a surgically and chemically mutilated woman with a serious mental health problem that was going untreated, but whose delusions were being played into socially and medically due to political correctness.

I have all the sympathy in the world for people who suffer from this problem, which is called “severe gender dyphoria.” It must be hell for them. I have witnessed it up close in the person of a member of the clergy at a church I once attended who “came out” as someone who had the body of one sex but felt a compulsion to live as the opposite sex and went through all these grisly procedures to achieve this.

I also am adamantly opposed to any violence or unjust discrimination against transexual people. I don’t want to harm them, but I don’t think that subjecting people to mutilating surgeries and hormone overdoses is treatment. I think it is yielding to social and political pressure to collude with them in the delusions which are a symptom of their real — mental — illness.

I don’t want to muddy the waters here with the small number of people who, through what I regard as birth defects, possess mixed chromosomes that are both male and female and who often also have mixed genitalia. That is something entirely different from what I’m talking about. What I am referring to are those who are born with normal bodies of one sex, and for whatever reason, develop the belief that they are really the opposite sex and who also feel a compulsion to be surgically and hormonally mutilated to live their lives in accordance with this delusion.

I am also not going to weigh in on whether or not doctors should “treat” them by honoring their delusions and performing surgeries and administering the concomitant hormonal overdoses necessary for the person to look like the sex they are not. I will leave that to the physician and patient, as well as the hospital and insurance company.

What I want to address specifically on this blog is how far society and government should be compelled to go in this politically-correct assumption that this mental illness, is, in fact normal. The question for this particular post is, should medicare pay for sex change operations?

The ACLU has joined a lawsuit demanding that Medicare pay for sex change operations. I don’t know how much these surgeries cost, but I do know that there is talk of Medicare going broke. 

It seems evil to me that we have public officials, such as the former governor of Colorado, talking about how elderly people have a “duty to die” because they take up too many resources and put too much strain on our health care system and at the same time are being forced to consider funding what is an entirely elective and mutilating surgery to mistreat a mental illness.

The cost of these unnecessary surgeries and treatments would be enormous. Claims that these procedures are “safe and effective” are nonsense. No surgery is “safe.” Every surgery is a risk. This surgery is elective and it is massive. I do not doubt that there are many serious potential complications and that these would be magnified when the surgery is performed on elderly people. I also cannot imagine what years of hormone overdoses would do to a person’s health, but “safe” is not a word that comes to mind.

Claims based on what various associations of medical practitioners have voted to say about things like gender dysphoria have become meaningless, at least to me. I do not think these positions are based on science. I think they are based on politics and are a response to pressure from interest groups. I don’t think they mean much more than if the members of my book club had voted to take these positions.

I don’t know how the ACLU manages to shoe-horn this concern under the Bill of Rights. But from what I’ve seen, they can twist any trendy social experiment they are pushing to fit if they want to. At least, they can do it to their own satisfaction. The ACLU press release regarding the lawsuit they’ve joined says in part:


LGBT Groups Challenge

Medicare’s Refusal to Provide

Healthcare to Transgender


April 1, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: (212) 549-2666; WASHINGTON – Several national LGBT groups filed an administrative challenge last week to Medicare’s ban on medically necessary healthcare for transgender patients.

Medicare currently prohibits all forms of gender reassignment surgeries regardless of the individual patient’s diagnosis or serious medical needs. The National Center for Lesbian Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, and civil rights attorney Mary Lou Boelcke initiated the challenge on behalf of Denee Mallon, a transgender woman whose doctors have recommended surgery to alleviate her severe gender dysphoria. “Medicare’s categorical exclusion of this care lacks any scientific basis,” said Shannon Minter, legal director at NCLR.
“Study after study has shown that these surgeries are the only effective treatment for many patients suffering from severe gender dysphoria.” Mallon joined the United States Army when she was 17 years old and worked as a forensics investigator for a city police department after she was honorably discharged from the Army. She was later diagnosed with gender identity disorder, a serious medical condition that is characterized by intense and persistent discomfort with one’s birth sex.
“The American Medical Association, the Endocrine Society, and the American Psychological Association all support these treatments for transgender patients,” said Joshua Block, a staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Project.
“These procedures have been performed for decades and are proven to be safe and effective.” Medicare adopted the ban more than 30 years ago. Decades of extensive scientific and clinical research since that time have established that these surgeries are safe and effective. (Read the rest here.)

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Senate Punts on Obama Trade Deals. The people Lose Again.

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

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

The United States Senate once again abrogated its responsibilities in favor of letting the Prez do it.

This, my friends, is how we got the imperial presidency. Congress accedes its responsibility because the vote is too “hot” or, as in this case, the corporatist interests want the deal that’s being done.

The Senate gave up the right to amend the Prez’ trade deals and just let him, you know, Rule.

Who’s the loser in all this? Why, you and me, of course. When the Rs and the Ds get together on their corporatism, we always end up in the dirt.

We might all stand on the West Coast and wave our jobs good-bye.

From the Huffington Post:

WASHINGTON — The Senate advanced President Barack Obama’s trade agenda Thursday, voting to end debate on bill that would grant the administration power to fast-track massive new pacts through Congress.

A number of senators objected to the process, complaining that they were unable to get votes on amendments they deemed essential to making sure that looming deals with 12 Pacific Rim nations and Europe live up to promises of helping U.S. workers.

But 62 of their colleagues disagreed and voted to halt debate anyway, setting up passage of the fast-track bill by the end of the week.

… Fast track, formally known as Trade Promotion Authority, would allow the president to cut trade agreements with other nations, then advance them through Congress with expedited procedures that allow no amendments, filibusters or delays, guaranteeing him simple majority votes.



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