I Didn’t Know “Trickle Down Economics” Was in the Ten Commandments.

 

I didn’t know “trickle down economics” was in the Ten Commandments.

I also didn’t know it was in the Sermon on the Mount.

I remember things about “blessed are the poor” and “depart from me I never knew you.” But I missed that “trickle down economics” part. I guess it must be in the part that says that government should transfer the wealth of generations to a few corporatists under the guise of corporate welfare and “privatization.” Or maybe it’s under the demands that economies should only be built on making war and not manufacturing goods, providing for infrastructure and growing the nation.

I dunno.

I read the Bible every day. I read through the Bible — the Catholic Bible, complete with all those books that Martin Luther took out — every year and a half or so. But I don’t remember anything about taking from the poor to give to the rich, or trickle down economics being a requirement for heaven.

I have heard these claims. I heard them just about every single day I spent in the business of legislating. They are part of the wing nut teachings which political nut jobs on the right use to replace the Scriptures. Left wing nut jobs do the same thing, only in reverse.

In the left wing political religion, moral values only apply to economics. Everything else — sexuality, family, basic honesty, even human life itself — are fixed on their own, selfishly-defined constructs. In the right wing political religion, moral values only apply to sexuality, family and, human life — when it fits their vote-getting expedience. Economics is a absolute morality-free zone.

The one thing the right and left wing political religions both agree on is basic honesty. Neither one of them have any use for it at all.

Which leads us to what has become an entertaining stand-off in the United States House of Representatives. 

House Speaker Boehner invited Pope Francis to speak to the House when he visits the US next year. It’s customary when dignitaries come by like this to pass an attaboy resolution and present it to them with suitable legislative fanfare. Nobody takes this resolution stuff all that seriously. It’s just being polite; kind of like offering your neighbor a glass of iced tea when she drops by to say howdy. Neither you nor your neighbor think all that highly of the tea. The only issue would be your rudeness if you didn’t offer it.

In a show of bi-partisanship, the resolution slotted for Pope Francis has both an R and a D as primary co-authors. It congratulates Pope Francis on being elected Pope and compliments him for his “inspirational statements and actions.”

That sounds like plain vanilla do-dah politicking to me. You’d think the resolution would sail through without a comment, that even the pope-hating bozos would chill and keep their mouths shut.

But the true-believers of wing nut political religion can never be underestimated. Their breathtaking self-importance is only exceeded by their equally breathtaking self-righteousness. The pro forma attaboy resolution for Pope Francis’ possible visit to the House may not pass. It will not pass if the true believers of right-wing-nut political religion prevail.

Meanwhile, the Ds are giving the resolution a big huzzah. The party whose national convention booed God is all for Pope Francis as he is defined by their press right now. Their press has edited and parsed Pope Francis into what he is not, which is to say an apologist for laissez faire morality in all areas except economics.

That’s heady stuff for a party that’s been damned and consigned to hell-fire in the public imagination. Pope Francis may not be their cheerleader, but unlike every other pro-life, pro-marriage religio on the planet, he has not washed his hands of them and told them to go to hell. He thinks they’re still people that Christ died for who are in need of salvation. Over 200 Ds jumped on the resolution with co-authorship. They’d co-author the thing twice each, if they could.

The party that claims it speaks for God is all in a pope-hating funk because, as it turns out, he thinks that they are also people that Christ died for who are in need of conversion. They’re not used to being told they need conversion. And they don’t like it.

While anyone can see that the lefty press is twisting statements to lie about the Holy Father, there is no denying that he is laying claim to all those troublesome things Jesus (and the prophets before Him) said about rich men having a tough time getting into heaven and how we all have a responsibility to care for the poor. That’s discombobulating to a party that (1) is corporatist to its core, and (2) has made its vote-getting bones by self-deification.

So, this do-nothing, attaboy, courtesy resolution has become another opportunity for the two political parties to proclaim their own righteousness and teach morality to God. Or, as the case may be, teach morality to the Vicar of Christ.

Rather than just hold their little noses and rise about the stink of their own self-importance, the Rs have used their power as the majority party to sideline the resolution in committee where it is intended to quietly expire. About 19 brave Rs stepped up to co-author. Most of the rest — many of whom are Catholic — have folded their hands and are now studying their shoes.

There are a few convinced and convicted right-wing-nuts who are so apoplectic at the Holy Father’s confrontational attitude toward right wing nut political religion as it concerns economics that they’ve stepped up to set the record straight. They are against the resolution because, they say, “the pope sounds a lot like Obama” (Obama = Satan in their parlance), that he has “denounced trickle down economics” and that he “supports civil marriages.”

In the first place the pope did not say he “supported civil unions.” Go back and read the post about that and see.

But I’m pretty sure, based on dealing with these kinds of birds, that what’s got their feathers in a ruffle is not “civil unions.” They’re on their soapboxes because the pope “denounced trickle down economics.” The reason I say that is twofold. First, it’s what has given well-paid corporatist mouthpieces the temerity to say that the pope is “a marxist,” “following Lenin” and some other thing that’s too stupid to even talk about.

Those media moguls are the corporatist-apologists-without-any-pretense in today’s media. The nut-job Congresspeople are the corporatist-puppet-people-with-loads-of-pretense in elected office. They were beamed into office on a beam of corporate money. They are wholly owned subsidiaries of corporatist thinking and activism. If they weren’t, they’d be pulled and replaced like a bad spark plug.

As for me, I’m not all that alarmed about this resolution thingy. As we say here in Oklahoma, it don’t mean nothin’. The resolution is just a piece of paper with no force of law of any kind. It’s a Congressional attaboy that they hand out to visiting dignitaries and such like gum drops.

Pope Francis is the Vicar of Christ. He answers to Our Lord. I doubt very much that he’s going to cry himself to sleep because a bunch of political puppets with delusions of grandeur do not deign to gift him with a meaningless attaboy filled with compliments they clearly do not mean.

It’s entirely possible that the press flurry may embarrass these Congresspeople’s corporatist owners enough that they tell them to go ahead and vote the resolution through and be done with it. If that happens, it’ll slide through and we’ll go on to the next Congressional stupidity. If it doesn’t, no matter.

The beauty of this particular incident is that these folks have demonstrated rather candidly what they are and who they follow. In terms of its impact, the resolution itself is worthless. But in terms of its teaching powers, it’s priceless.

I keep putting this message out there. I’m going to continue putting it out there until it gets through.

Repeat after me: Political parties have nothing to do with righteousness. Political parties are about power; about getting power and keeping power. Everything else they say is a lie.

Do not follow the R or the D.

Follow the whole Gospel of Christ, all of it, including the parts that disagree with your political religion. The simplest and surest way to do that is to follow the teachings of our Catholic Church.

The Catholic Church constantly irritates both the R and the D. If you believe Jesus, you will not agree with either political party most of the time. If you follow Jesus with your life, you will not and cannot follow either political party.

There is one Way. The R and the D are not it.

From The Hill:

A popular piece of legislation that seeks to honor Pope Francis is stuck in Congress.

With time running out on the Capitol Hill calendar, the lawmakers who crafted the bipartisan measure are getting impatient with Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).

The resolution, written by Reps. John Larson (D-Conn.) and Pete King (R-N.Y.), congratulates Francis on his March 2013 election and recognizes “his inspirational statements and actions.”

The seemingly innocuous resolution was referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which hasn’t acted on it. The panel didn’t comment for this article.

The inaction and the lack of a white smoke signal from Boehner have sparked speculation that politics is at play.

Only 19 of the 221 co-sponsors are Republicans. The dearth of GOP members on the measure could be attributable to assertions that the pope is “too liberal,” according to a Republican backer of the legislation.

The source noted that Francis last year denounced “trickle-down economics.”

Some Republicans believe the pope is “sounding like [President] Obama. [The pope] talks about equality — he actually used the term ‘trickle-down economics,’ which is politically charged,” the GOP official said.

Iraq: We Made This Mess. What Are We Going to Do about It?

 

Our war in Iraq was a totally unnecessary war fought on false premises that has led directly to the present-day genocide of Iraqi Christians.

We invaded Iraq on the premise that the leader of the country was a murderous crazy man who had “weapons of mass destruction” (read that nukes) at his disposal and we had to stop him before he … I dunno … he killed even more people than he had killed up to then. We got over there and couldn’t find these weapons of mass destruction.

I have always thought — oddly enough — that the simple fact that he didn’t plant weapons of mass destruction and then claim he’d found them, that he actually told the truth about this horrible mess, was President Bush’ finest moment. It vindicated his bad judgement in going to war in Iraq in the first place, at least so far as my opinion of him as a person.

However, we had gone to war when we didn’t have to, and now we had a destroyed country to deal with. Before the invasion, I had several arguments with gung-ho family members who were all for invading Iraq.

This is going to be a long-term, horrible mess, I told them.

Nah, they replied. We’ll go in there and whip them in short order. 

That’s not the problem. The problem is the occupation. 

My family members didn’t get it then, but they’ve figured it out by now. Before you go to war with anybody, don’t just think about delivering that first-round knock-out punch. Give a thought or two to the long-term follow-up. There are plenty of countries where the real price of going to war with them are the long-term consequences of winning. Iraq is just that sort of country.

We knocked them out, presto-chango.

But we didn’t fix anything. The idea that everyone, everywhere, is ready and waiting to take on American democracy just isn’t true. Democracy doesn’t seem to work in tribal societies. It doesn’t gain traction in places that are still stuck socially and culturally in the world of 900 AD.

We had great success “planting” democracy in Japan after World War II. But Japan, while it had tried to cling to its old social order, was far different from Iraq. Japan was a country that was able to stand on its own two feet. Japan built its own planes, ships, bombs and bullets. Japan trained a military that was able to conquer vast regions of the South Pacific, go across that big ocean and sink the Sixth Fleet.

They didn’t get their weapons from other people. They built those weapons themselves. They trained and equipped their own troops. They had the discipline and the social organization to wage a world war.

In addition, by the end of World War II, Japan was utterly friendless and destroyed. Everybody they had ever beaten in any war hated them, which is to say every country in their region of the world. Their industry was rubble, their people would have starved without us.

Japan adapted and learned and grew and became a great industrial power. Once again, and unlike China, they built their own factories and developed their own industry. Honda, Toyota, Sony are not American companies who’ve moved their plants to Japan to use slave labor. They are Japanese companies who’ve managed to develop superior products that are purchased because of their high quality the world over.

You can’t compare our success in transplanting democracy to Japan with the situation in Iraq. Iraq is a mess largely because it is a country and a place that has no real interest in building anything. Iraq does not want to go forward. It wants to go backward to the ninth century.

We went over there with the naive idea that we could knock Iraq out with a massive military throw down, find and destroy those fictional weapons of mass destruction, then pour a few billion dollars into the place and have another successful “save” of a country. We could transplant the world of democracy and economic growth into Iraq and build a great friend for ourselves in the region … just like Japan.

But Iraq isn’t Japan, and what we got was a country that can not function as a democracy, that, in fact, appears to be unable to function without a strong-arm dictator. Iraq can and will hold elections so long as American troops are there to keep the killer sharks who swim in their culture from stopping it from happening. But the minute — or, a couple of years after — we leave, what you get is what we’ve got.

What we have is a bunch of killers who’ve obviously gotten their arms from countries who are capable of making armaments, who are running around Iraq, engaging in mass murder as a quasi military tactic in another of those wars of civil destruction the region can’t seem to avoid. They are also killing every Christian in sight.

What we have is an on-going, real-time genocide of the Christians in Iraq.

We made this mess my friends. We pulled the Saddam Hussein stopper out of the bottle and now we’ve got something even worse. What we never considered, and what I hate to say and hope I’m wrong about, is that the only kind of government that can control these murderous mobs that run throughout society in this part of the world is a government that is under the thumb of a murderous dictator.

It appears that there is a large faction within this society that only understands and gives way to the tip of the sword.

We can talk all day about the obvious fact that most Muslims are good, kind people who would build a decent society if they had half a chance. The fact is, they don’t have half a chance. What passes for politics in this whole region of the world appears to be outside interests arming murderous thugs who then proceed to destroy whole countries by murdering at will.

Meanwhile, the Christians of Iraq are being raped, tortured and murdered. We are witnessing a genocide.

We made this mess.

What are we going to do about it?

HHS Mandate: NOW Obama Says He Wants to Compromise

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Talk about giving the last drop of political blood.

President Obama defended the HHS Mandate until it got swacked at the Supreme Court, then he and his supporters in the United States Senate tried to kill the court decision with statutes. Now, after all that, the White House announces that it will come up with an “opt-out alternative for Catholic and other religious employers.”

I am guessing this is in advance of what he sees as a catastrophic (at least to him) spanking from the Supremes over the Little Sisters of the Poor.

From CatholicPhilly.com:

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The Obama administration has filed a brief with the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver indicating it plans to develop an alternative for Catholic and other religious nonprofit employers to opt out of providing federally mandated contraceptives they object to including in their employee health care coverage.

Several media outlets, including AP, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, reported July 23 that the administration said it would come up with a “work-around” that would be different than the accommodation it currently has available to such employers.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as part of the health care law, requires nearly all employers to cover contraceptives, sterilizations and some abortion-inducing drugs for all employees in their company health plan. It includes a narrow exemption for some religious employers that fit certain criteria.

Currently, there is an accommodation for those employers who don’t fit the exemption but who are morally opposed to providing the coverage. They must fill out a self-certification form — known as EBSA Form 700 — to direct a third party, usually the manager of an employer’s health plan, to provide the contested coverage.

Many religious employers who have sued over the mandate argue that even filling out Form 700 makes them complicit in providing coverage they find objectionable.

According to an AP story, the alternative the Obama administration said it plans to draft would allow these employers to opt out of the coverage they oppose without having to submit the form.

Planned Parenthood, Teaching Sexual Fetishism and Other Perversions to Kids

 

Watch the videos below and consider this: Our government puts $542 million into Planned Parenthood each year. And that’s just federal dollars. Many states add their own $$$ to the pile.

Also the Affordable Health Care Act, better known as Obamacare, has large amounts of monies for block grants for education. Planned Parenthood will probably end up with a lot of this money, as well.

The ignominious HHS Mandate was written by a committee that was overloaded with representatives from Planned Parenthood and organizations that have interlocking boards with it.

How much damage are we going to all Planned Parenthood to do in the name of birth control? The services which Planned Parenthood provides that people want — pap smears, contraception — can be provided by other agencies. Remember: Planned Parenthood not only gets huge amounts of federal dollars to “provide” these services, it charges its clients for them, as well.

This government money could be better used to provide the services that people want. The savings by eliminating the rest of it — including the “counseling” in these videos — would be enormous. There are no reasons except political payback to give this funding to Planned Parenthood.

I also want to mention that while I linked to Fox News’ outrage-filled coverage of these videos, Fox is the network that gives us Family Guy and American Dad. I haven’t watched Family Guy, but when I was researching this article, I read comments directing people to view it in order to learn about some of the activities described in the videos below.

I did watch part of an American Dad episode. I quit watching because the episode had two fathers, joking about having sex with their daughters. I’m not entertained by that. Here in Oklahoma City, American Dad runs in the early afternoon — primetime cartoon-viewing hours for young children.

The government is not using our tax dollars to pay for teaching perversion to kids on the Fox network. However, when you consider the damage done, that difference becomes a bit academic.

Teaching it to kids is … well … I have no words.

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Pray for Our Brothers and Sisters in Iraq


Pray for our Iraqi brothers and sisters in Christ.

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Porn and Our Regularly-Scheduled Bi-Election Immigration Crisis

 

There are two kinds of people who obsessively watch porn.

Those who enjoy it.

and …

Those who believe it.

Either way, porn is addicting and degrading. Porn is based on degrading a group of people for the titillation of those who get off on the degradation.

Both those who watch porn because they enjoy it, and those who believe it, will become addicted to it if they don’t pull back from it. That alter world where degradation of other people reigns will take them over and the day will come when they find they can’t just turn it off.

The difference between those who watch it for the titillation alone, and those who get so wound into it that they believe it, is the difference between doing harm to oneself and doing harm to others.

The porn believers can become dangerous as they seek to act out the things they have watched. Every prostitute I’ve ever known has told me about painful and rather hideous things johns did to them in attempts to live out things they’d seen in porn. Rape victims report the same stories.

I would guess that the international sex tourism industry finds its customers among porn believers. Acting out fantasies of degrading other people can take porn believers over. That leads to every kind of horror for their victims.

These same assessments also apply to intellectual porn. All the demagogues of all the eras and epochs of history instinctively knew this. They could, by producing the mind porn of hate politics, gain power. It was — and is — as seductive to the demagogue as to the demagogues’ followers.

The practice of moral and intellectual demagoguery gets votes. It ups ratings, sells books and pleases advertisers. It also confers a kind of heady, ego-driven power over other people.

There are, as usual, two kinds of people who obsessively watch this intellectual porn or listen to it on the radio.

Those who get off on the titillation it provides.

and …

Those who believe it.

The trouble with demagogic porn is that it never, ever, claims to be a fantasy. Point a finger at sexual pornographers and one of their first defenses is that “it’s not real.”

But the purveyors of intellectual porn always, always, always claim that what they are saying is factual and true. They can get away with this because it usually is based on facts. What they leave out is that the facts are carefully selected to promote one viewpoint and that the facts are mixed with a lot lying implications.

Here is a case in point:

The sudden incessant discussion of the supposedly all-new “border crisis” is moral and intellectual porn. It is obvious demagoguery.

This story gets ramped up every bi-election season. Then, after the votes are counted, it goes away. It is being put out there right now because we are in a bi-election season.

It is political demagoguery, designed to gain power. It is also intellectual and moral porn of the worst sort.

The problem of people coming over America’s southern border illegally is real. The trajectory of children crossing the border alone has taken on a 70 degree angle. It has gone up, and is going up.

However, the wild stories about gangs meeting them at the border to recruit them and how one in four of them are “criminals” are untrue. They are being told to ratchet up the emotions and build the outrage past rational thought. The constant 24/7 drumbeat of hysteria about this issue is manufactured for political reasons.

One of the simplest and most effective things we could do to stem this tide of people crossing into our country illegally would be to severely punish the business interests who hire them. If they couldn’t find jobs, a lot of this would go away.

If you try to pass a law like this, the business interests will work against it with all they’ve got. And they will win, especially if the people who are running the show at the time are Rs. I’m not just saying this. I’ve seen it. I can also verify with court actions taken by business interests to attack such laws.

We also need to look past the Rio Grande and consider why they’re coming. We spend billions “building” countries in other hemispheres. Perhaps we should take a more serious look at our own.

However, this is all talk. Nobody is going to fix the border problem. Nobody wants to fix it. Just try to act on either of these two suggestions and watch who will object. It will be the same people who own the media that runs this bi-election immigration frenzy.

This reportage is demagoguery for political purposes.

It is moral and intellectual porn designed to whip people around. It uses fear and hatred of other people to get viewers worked up past the thinking point and keep them there until November. It turns good people into the face of ugly. At that point, it is impossible to reason with the viewers and believers of this porn. They are irrational.

The easiest and simplest way to avoid falling into the porn trap (whatever the type of porn) is to follow the teachings of the Catholic Church.

No other church will take the stands on issues where the public is all whipped up against them. Other denominations follow the zeitgeist. It pains me to say this, but all I have to do is consider the sounding silence I’m hearing from everyone but the Catholic Church right now, and the ugliness I’ve seen on this one issue from various clergy in the past.

If you want to go to heaven, do what the Church teaches. If you want to follow Christ, then turn off the porn.

What these media people are doing by deliberately whipping people up into mass hatred in order to change how they vote is deeply immoral. It is anti-Christ.

If you blindly follow them, you become immoral and anti-Christ, right along with them.

My delete file is bulging with ugly, bitter and downright crazy diatribes against both me and the Catholic bishops because I dare to say this.

So be it.

I am a Christian. I am a Catholic. I choose Christ.

It is my responsibility as a Christian, Catholic blogger who chooses Christ to say this. If nobody listens, that’s on them.

Lincoln’s Great Short Speech

The Civil War split the Southern side of my family.

My great-great grandfather was from the South, but fought on the side of the North. This sheared him from his family, his people, his past.

It, in a round-about way, is why I am an Okie today.

My family has others who fought in that war, Southerners who fought for the North. My grandfather’s father was a drummer boy. My family tends to have children late, which is why the generations are so short. That drummer boy great grandfather lived to be 101.

My husband’s family was also deep in it. They saluted the Stars and Bars. We sometimes joke that it took over 100 years for the two of us to marry across that divide.

America has seen worse than the problems she faces today.

Lincoln, whatever else he did, saved the Union. I do not think anyone else would have stood in that breach and doggedly kept on. If he had not done this, America would never have become the great power she is and the history of the entire world would be vastly different.

Without a strong America to lend-lease arms to the Soviets and Brits, and then to join the fight, would Hitler have won? Our entry in WWI was certainly a turning point, as well.

What about the peace that followed? What would have become of a world without the Marshall Plan, the rebuilding of Japan and America’s stalwart stand against Communism across the decades?

Lincoln saved the Union, and changed world history.

His great short speech at Gettysburg captured the tragedy of the Civil War in a few words.

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Nurse Who Won’t Prescribe the Pill Sues Clinic for Not Hiring Her.

 

This  is the story that irony built.

It seems that Sara Hellwege is a nurse-midwife in Tampa, FL. She applied for a job at Tampa Family Health Centers. In an email exchange Tampa Family Health Center’s HR director, Chad Lindsey, quizzed her about her affiliation with the American Association of Pro Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Ms Hellwege said that she would not prescribe chemical birth control. She was told that this was part of the job. They didn’t hire her.

Case closed.

Or, case not closed, as it turns out. Ms Hellwege has filed suit.

And I can’t stop laughing.

We’ve been peppered with one idiot lawsuit after another by people demanding that the courts force Catholic organizations, particularly schools, to employee them while they get gay married in defiance of Catholic teaching.

Anyone who objects to one of these lawsuits is treated to an arm-waving smack-down with words like ,  “tolerance” and “rights” flying through the air like bullets.

Now, it seems, the shoe is on the other foot.

Google gave me a whole page of links on this lawsuit. The most apoplectic commentary I saw was coming from the same folks who are soooo supportive of every lawsuit filed to force the Catholic Church to violate its beliefs.

Several posts I read tried to claim that the lawsuit is based on the Hobby Lobby decision. Unless Ms Hellwege is a privately-held corporation who is being forced by the HHS Mandate to buy insurance that pays for four kinds of abortifacient, the Hobby Lobby decision has nothing to do with her.

Having said all that, I don’t really have any quarrel with these opinion pieces. They are, after all, opinions. 

I just can’t stop laughing.

Will Obama’s One Man ENDA End Up in Court?

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One of my Facebook friends called him “the great divider.” 

Even though I am both aware and horrified by the endless hatred directed at whoever sits behind the desk in the Oval Office, I think that’s a fair thing to say about President Obama. His penchant for one man sledgehammer legislating against the First Amendment is a particular case in point. 

So far as I am concerned, the HHS Mandate is a permanent blot on his presidency.

I’ve spent the morning, sifting through the product of our President’s mighty pen from yesterday. I’ve been sitting in front of my computer with the screens littered with copies of the executive orders he amended, wondering, where, exactly, is this one man show pointing us? 

My best guess, based on what I see, is that it’s pointing us toward court. The reason is the lack of a specific religious exemption in President Obama’s verbiage. 

What he has done with this executive order is to amend two previous executive orders from the 1960s. These 1960s executive orders provided direction to the Department of Labor on the question of discrimination in employment. The orders dealt with employment discrimination because of “race, color, religion, sex, national origin, handicap or age.” President Obama’s executive order adds “sexual orientation, gender identity” to that list.

Executive Order 11478 deals with direct federal employment by direct government agencies. I think it will stand and basically have no big problem with the order as I understand it now. I may change my opinion when I see the rules promulgated by the Department of Labor. 

However, Executive Order 11246 deals with federal contractors. This could be construed to include grantees and, if you want to stretch it, any entity that receives federal money for anything. 

President Obama did not address a third executive order by President Bush, Executive Order 13279. President Bush’s order was designed to protect the religious freedom of entities that receive grants, contract with the government or otherwise receive government monies. It contains a laundry list of sorts of the types of services which it covers. It also specifically addresses the entities covered by Executive Order 11246, which applies to federal contractors. Executive Order 11246 is one of the orders President Obama amended yesterday. 

The assumption being made in various press outlets that I have read is that President Bush’s executive order provides the religious exemptions needed to keep President Obama’s ENDA order from turning into another HHS Mandate.

Is that true?

Only somewhat, and, depending on the regs the Department of Labor comes up with, maybe not at all. 

The reason I say that is two-fold. First, and scariest, President Obama’s order calls on the Department of Labor to promulgate rules. This is normal and necessary. What makes it scary is the big time precedent of this administration using rules and regs to attack religious freedom.

The disastrous HHS Mandate is a rule, not a law. Of course, if the president sincerely wants to avoid another HHS Mandate, he can use his powers to encourage sensible regulations that ensure religious liberty. He also has the power to deep-six any reg or rule by not signing it. 

I’m taking a wait and see position on how those rules are going to look and what this president signs. He lied about religious freedom to get the votes to pass the Affordable Health Care Act and he’s consistently lied about the impact of the HHS Mandate. So, I don’t trust him. 

The second reason I think this may end up in court is that court cases and various agency rulings have already attacked Catholic institutions and successfully stripped them of federal grants because of the Church’s adherence to 2,000 year-old consistent teachings. There is also a lawsuit in the courts attacking the Catholic bishops for teaching Catholic teaching concerning abortion in regards to Catholic hospitals. 

Both Robert George, Vice President at United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, and the Catholic Bishops have issued statements opposing President Obama’s ENDA order precisely because it lacks a religious exemption. I think they are on solid ground. 

Based on that litigious impulse to attack Catholic teaching through the courts, I think the chances of ENDA ending up in court are quite good. What we will probably have at that point is adjudication based on dueling executive orders. President Obama could have stopped this before it got out of the gate by simply adding a religious exemption to his orders yesterday. 

I going to let you read both Robert George’s complete statement and the complete statement from the USCCB without edits. 

From the USCCB:

USCCB Chairmen Respond To ‘Unprecedented And Extreme’ Executive Order

 
July 21, 2014

WASHINGTON–The bishop-Chairmen of two USCCB Committees responded with great concern to President Obama’s July 21 executive order to prohibit federal government contractors from what the Administration deems “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” discrimination and to forbid “gender identity” discrimination in the employment of federal employees. The problems the bishops identify in the order relate both to the flaws in its core prohibitions, and to its lack of religious freedom protection.

Two USCCB Chairmen – Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty and Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, Chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth – together issued the following statement.  

Today’s executive order is unprecedented and extreme and should be opposed.  

In the name of forbidding discrimination, this order implements discrimination. With the stroke of a pen, it lends the economic power of the federal government to a deeply flawed understanding of human sexuality, to which faithful Catholics and many other people of faith will not assent. As a result, the order will exclude federal contractors precisely on the basis of their religious beliefs.  

More specifically, the Church strongly opposes both unjust discrimination against those who experience a homosexual inclination and sexual conduct outside of marriage, which is the union of one man and one woman. But the executive order, as it regards federal government contractors, ignores the inclination/conduct distinction in the undefined term “sexual orientation.” As a result, even contractors that disregard sexual inclination in employment face the possibility of exclusion from federal contracting if their employment policies or practices reflect religious or moral objections to extramarital sexual conduct.

The executive order prohibits “gender identity” discrimination, a prohibition that is previously unknown at the federal level, and that is predicated on the false idea that “gender” is nothing more than a social construct or psychological reality that can be chosen at variance from one’s biological sex. This is a problem not only of principle but of practice, as it will jeopardize the privacy and associational rights of both federal contractor employees and federal employees. For example, a biological male employee may be allowed to use the women’s restroom or locker room provided by the employer because the male employee identifies as a female.  

In an attempt to avoid these needless conflicts, states that have passed “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” prohibitions have overwhelmingly included protections for religious employers. When the U.S. Senate, which is controlled by the President’s own party, passed the similar Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) last year, it included religious liberty protections as well. Indeed, all prior versions of ENDA had at least some religious liberty protections. But the executive order is an anomaly in this regard, containing no religious liberty protections. In this way, the order, which is fundamentally flawed in itself, also needlessly prefers conflict and exclusion over coexistence and cooperation. 

Regarding federal contractors, the Executive Order will take effect after rules to be promulgated by the Department of Labor implementing the Executive Order become final. Regarding federal employment, the Executive Order is effective immediately.

Keywords: Employment Non-Discrimination Act, ENDA, Archbishop William E. Lori, Bishop Richard Malone, gender identity, sexual identity
# # # # #

MEDIA CONTACT ONLY
Sister Mary Ann Walsh
O: 202-541-321
Email

From Robert George’s Facebook page:

I have, up till now, avoided the “war on this,” “war on that,” rhetoric. But now there is no avoiding it. Today Barack Obama declared war on the Catholic Church and people of other faiths who hold to traditional beliefs about marriage and sexual morality. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops explains the situation in a statement responding to the executive order the President issued today. There is no way for religious people to defend themselves against being reduced to the status of second-class citizens except by electing to office, first in 2014 and then in 2016, men and women who will repeal this executive order and other governmental acts that undermine their religious freedom and rights of conscience. But that is only part of the picture. The reason that Catholics and other people of faith seek government contracts is to carry our their mission of serving people in need, orphans, the poor, refugees and the dispossessed, persons suffering from afflictions and addictions. It is the people who are served who are secondary victims of this war on conscience when faith-based providers are forced out—as Catholic Charities was forced out of providing adoption services in Massachusetts, Illinois, and the District of Columbia. We must defeat the enemies of conscience—at the ballot box—not only to protect our own freedom and that of our fellow citizens, but also to protect the interests of those served so well by faith-based institutions. This is a war we must win for their sake as well as our own. 

http://www.usccb.org/news/2014/14-126.cfm

 

 

President Obama Signs ENDA Executive Order

President Obama issued his much-ballyhooed executive order on employment discrimination concerning sexual orientation (ENDA) today.

I need to think this through before I write about it. In them meantime, here are my first thoughts:

1. The order is a not a statute. That means it is limited in scope to federal situations.

2. It certainly applies to direct, federal employees. It almost certainly also applies to federal contractors. Does it apply as well to federal grantees? I’m guessing yes. Does it apply to anyone who takes federal money for any purpose? That’s the sticking point, and the limits may have to be adjudicated before we know.

3. Does this executive order rescind earlier executive orders by other presidents, that included religious exemptions? That’s a critical question, and one reason why I want time to sort this out.

You can find the exact wording of the order here. It’s mainly references to other orders, so it’s not easy to understand without copies of those other orders in front of you.

Here is President Obama’s complete statement on issuing this order, without edits.

 

Remarks by the President at Signing of Executive Order on LGBT Workplace Discrimination

East Room

10:39 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT:  Welcome to the White House, everybody.  I know I’m a little late.  But that’s okay because we’ve got some big business to do here.

Many of you have worked for a long time to see this day coming.  You organized, you spoke up, you signed petitions, you sent letters — I know because I got a lot of them.  (Laughter.) And now, thanks to your passionate advocacy and the irrefutable rightness of your cause, our government — government of the people, by the people, and for the people — will become just a little bit fairer.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Amen.  (Applause.)

THE PRESIDENT:  It doesn’t make much sense, but today in America, millions of our fellow citizens wake up and go to work with the awareness that they could lose their job, not because of anything they do or fail to do, but because of who they are –  lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender.  And that’s wrong.  We’re here to do what we can to make it right — to bend that arc of justice just a little bit in a better direction.

In a few moments, I will sign an executive order that does two things.  First, the federal government already prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.  Once I sign this order, the same will be explicitly true for gender identity.  (Applause.)

And second, we’re going to prohibit all companies that receive a contract from the federal government from discriminating against their LGBT employees.  (Applause.)    America’s federal contracts should not subsidize discrimination against the American people.

Now, this executive order is part of a long bipartisan tradition.  President Roosevelt signed an order prohibiting racial discrimination in the national defense industry.  President Eisenhower strengthened it.  President Johnson expanded it.  Today, I’m going to expand it again.

Currently, 18 states have already banned workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.  And over 200 cities and localities have done the same.  Governor Terry McAuliffe is here; his first act as governor was to prohibit discrimination against LGBT employees of the Commonwealth of Virginia.  (Applause.)  Where did Terry go?  Right back here.

I’ve appointed a record number of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender public servants to positions across my administration.  They are ambassadors and federal judges, special assistants, senior advisors from the Pentagon to the Labor Department.  Every day, their talent is put to work on behalf of the American people.

Equality in the workplace is not only the right thing to do, it turns out to be good business.  That’s why a majority of Fortune 500 companies already have nondiscrimination policies in place.  It is not just about doing the right thing — it’s also about attracting and retaining the best talent.  And there are several business leaders who are here today who will attest to that.

And yet, despite all that, in too many states and in too many workplaces, simply being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender can still be a fireable offense.  There are people here today who’ve lost their jobs for that reason.  This is not speculative, this is not a matter of political correctness — people lose their jobs as a consequence of this.  Their livelihoods are threatened, their families are threatened.  In fact, more states now allow same-sex marriage than prohibit discrimination against LGBT workers.  So I firmly believe that it’s time to address this injustice for every American.

Now, Congress has spent 40 years — four decades — considering legislation that would help solve the problem.  That’s a long time.  And yet they still haven’t gotten it done.  Senators Terry [Tammy] Baldwin and Jeff Merkley are here.  They have been champions of this issue for a long, long time.  We are very proud of them.  I know they will not stop fighting until fair treatment for all workers is the federal law of the land.  Everyone thanks them for that.  (Applause.)

But I’m going to do what I can, with the authority I have, to act.  The rest of you, of course, need to keep putting pressure on Congress to pass federal legislation that resolves this problem once and for all.

AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Amen!

THE PRESIDENT:  Amen.  Amen.  (Applause.)  Got the “amen” corner here.  (Laughter.)  Well — (sings) — (laughter.)  You don’t want to get me preaching, now.  (Laughter.)

For more than two centuries, we have strived, often at great cost, to form “a more perfect union” — to make sure that “we, the people” applies to all the people.  Many of us are only here because others fought to secure rights and opportunities for us. And we’ve got a responsibility to do the same for future generations.  We’ve got an obligation to make sure that the country we love remains a place where no matter who you are, or what you look like, or where you come from, or how you started out, or what your last name is, or who you love — no matter what, you can make it in this country.

That’s the story of America.  That’s the story of this movement.  I want to thank all of you for doing your part.  We’ve got a long way to go, but I hope as everybody looks around this room, you are reminded of the extraordinary progress that we have made not just in our lifetimes, but in the last five years.  In the last two years.  (Applause.)  In the last one year.  (Applause.)  We’re on the right side of history.

I’m going to sign this executive order.  Thank you, everybody.  (Applause.)

(The executive order is signed.)

END
10:47 A.M. EDT


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