The Rs and Ds Tie the Republic to a Railroad Track Called Sequester, Then Blame Each Other When the Train Arrives
I know when I write a post that calls Republicans out on anything, I’m going to hear from many of my Republican pro life friends who are appalled, amazed and angered by what I’ve said.
I know when I write a post that speaks up for human life, freedom of religion or traditional marriage, I’ll get some of the same from the other guys.
Today is a case in point.
It turns out that my Republican friends are angry with me because I actually think that their party has something to do with the so-called “sequester” mess that this country is facing. These are the same Republicans who call me a statesman when I go after the President or the Dems for something I don’t like that they do.
Since I have the utmost respect for a couple of the people who are upset with me today, I am going to clarify just a bit.
I think both parties are putting the country at risk to play their little game. I don’t think either party gives a hoot what happens to people like you and me. And I don’t think either party actually believes the stuff they tell us at election time.
President Obama had a big part in what has happened with the sequester. However, he didn’t make this mess all by his little self. There are some gigantic egos hooked up to little brains on the other side of the fence who have contributed their fair share to this situation.
What they are doing — and they are doing it together — is holding the American people hostage.
They are also lying to us. That’s why the whole thing is so confusing. It’s impossible for anyone, including, I think, them, to keep track of the lies, sort them out and make sense of the situation. Both sides are lying. Both sides are spinning. Both sides are emailing their stalwarts with their talking points. Both sides.
Not the other.
Both. Of. Them.
I know it’s only natural for people who’ve staked so much of their trust in the gospel according to their political party to push back when somebody comes along and tells them they’ve been had. But, the truth is, if you’ve believed the propaganda either of our two political parties puts out, you have in fact, been had.
I write posts like this because I love my country. I believe that we the people have got to stop being such easy marks for political snake oil salesmen who want to use us to obtain power for themselves and do what they please.
These elected officials work for us.
Did you know that?
Does anything they do make you feel that they know that?
If the answer is no, then you have already come to a rudimentary understanding of this situation, whether you will admit what you know to yourself or not. It’s not what I’m telling people that upsets them. It’s the fact that they know it’s true and don’t want to face what that truth means.
What it means, and what they don’t want to face, is that there is no political party on a white horse who is going to save us or our country. This is a Republic, and we the people are going to have to do some of the heavy lifting ourselves.
You can begin by calling your members of Congress and telling them what you think about the issues that matter to you. I don’t care if you support the sequester or not. I do care that you start thinking for yourselves and acting like free people who have a right to be heard in their own government.
You can find your Congressperson’s email address and phone number here.
According to the American Foundation for Equal Rights, the gay rights organization that brought the original lawsuit seeking the overturn of California’s Proposition 8, 131 prominent Republicans have signed an amicus curiae brief supporting gay marriage.
This brief seeks to influence the United States Supreme Court in its upcoming rulings on the legal standing of marriage in the United States. The signers are mostly prominent Republicans who have held or currently hold powerful government positions either as elected officials or as part of Republican presidential administrations. A number of these people have had lifelong careers bouncing from one prominent position to another in the service of the Republican Party. Based on that, I would assume that they are total, absolute party hacks. I also believe that when they sign a petition like this, it indicates something real is happening inside the party deep-thinking processes.
To put it bluntly, if you are a so-called “values” voter who has been supporting the Republican party because of their “moral” positions, you have been sold out. This doesn’t surprise me at all. It is nothing more than a public manifestation of what I have seen up close and personal as an elected official. Political parties are about power. All they care about is getting power and keeping power. Everything else they say is a lie.
Gay marriage advocates have stated that they are hopeful that this brief, with its prominent Republican signers, will influence the conservative members of the Supreme Court in their deliberations on the issue of gay marriage.
Whether or not that happens remains to be seen. But one thing is certain: People of faith can no longer vote for either party and feel that they are voting in line with their beliefs.
Here is the list of the brief’s signers so far:
Republican Party Officials, Fundraisers
- Kenneth B. Mehlman, Chairman, Republican National Committee, 2005-2007
- Alex Castellanos, Republican Media Advisor
- Tyler Deaton, Secretary, New Hampshire Young Republicans, 2011-Present
- Jeff Cook-McCormac, Senior Advisor, American Unity PAC
- Ken Spain, Communications Director, National Republican Congressional Committee, 2009-2010
- Sally A. Vastola, Executive Director, National Republican Congressional Committee, 2003-2006
- Jacob P. Wagner, Chairman, New Hampshire Federation of College Republicans, 2012-Present
- Cyrus Krohn, eCampaign Director, Republican National Committee, 2007-2009
- Mark McKinnon, Republican Media Advisor
Bush (W) Administration Officials
- Tim Adams, Undersecretary of the Treasury for International Affairs, 2005-2007
- John B. Bellinger III, Legal Adviser to the Department of State, 2005-2009
- William A. Burck, Deputy Staff Secretary, Special Counsel, and Deputy Counsel to the President, 2005-2009
- Mary Cheney, Director of Vice Presidential Operations, Bush-Cheney 2004, 2003-2004
- Thomas J. Christensen, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, 2006-2008
- James B. Comey, U.S. Deputy Attorney General, 2003-2005
- R. Clarke Cooper, U.S. Alternative Representative, United Nations Security Council, 2007-2009
- Julie Cram, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Public Liaison, 2007-2009
- Michele Davis, Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs and Director of Policy Planning, Department of the Treasury, 2006-2009
- Alicia Davis Downs, Associate Political Director, White House, 2001-2003
- Christian J. Edwards, Special Assistant to the President and Director of Press Advance, 2005-2007
- Lew Eisenberg, Finance Chairman, Republican National Committee, 2002-2004
- Mark J. Ellis, State Chairman, Maine Republican Party, 2005-2006 and 2007-2009
- Charles Freeman, Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for China Affairs, 2002-2005
- David Frum, Author and Special Assistant to the President, 2001-2002
- Reed Galen, Director of Scheduling and Advance, Bush-Cheney 2004, 2003-2004
- Benjamin Ginsberg, National Counsel, Bush-Cheney 2000 and 2004
- Josh Ginsberg, National Field Director, Romney for President, 2007-2008
- Juleanna Glover, Press Secretary to the Vice President, 2001-2002
- Adrian Gray, Director of Strategy, Republican National Committee, 2005-2007
- Richard Grenell, Spokesman, U.S. Ambassadors to the United Nations, 2001-2008
- Israel Hernandez, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for International Trade, 2005-2009
- Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Director, Congressional Budget Office, 2003-2005
- Margaret Hoover, Advisor to the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, 2005-2006
- Carlos Gutierrez, Secretary of Commerce, 2005-2009
- Stephen Hadley, Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor, 2005-2009
- David A. Javdan, General Counsel, U.S. Small Business Administration, 2002-2006
- Reuben Jeffery, Undersecretary of State for Economic, Energy, and Agricultural Affairs, 2007-2009
- Greg Jenkins, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Presidential Advance, 2003-2004
- Coddy Johnson, National Field Director, Bush-Cheney 2004, 2003-2004
- Neel Kashkari, Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, 2008-2009
- Theodore W. Kassinger, Deputy Secretary of Commerce, 2004-2005
- Jeffrey Kupfer, Chief of Staff and Acting Deputy Secretary, Department of Energy, 2006-2009
- Catherine Martin, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Communications Director for Policy and Planning, 2005-2007
- Kevin Martin, Chairman, Federal Communications Commission, 2005-2009
- David McCormick, Undersecretary of the Treasury for International Affairs, 2007-2009
- Bruce P. Mehlman, Assistant Secretary of Commerce, 2001-2003
- Michael Napolitano, White House Office of Political Affairs, 2001-2003
- Susan Neely, Special Assistant to the President, 2001-2002
- Noam Neusner, Special Assistant to the President for Economic Speechwriting, 2002-2005
- Meghan O’Sullivan, Deputy National Security Advisor for Iraq and Afghanistan, 2005-2007
- Richard Painter, Associate Counsel to the President, 2005-2007
- Michael Powell, Chairman, Federal Communications Commission, 2001-2005
- Nancy Pfotenhauer, Regulatory Advisor, Romney for President, 2008, and Economist, Presidential Transition Team, 1988
- Gregg Pitts, Director, White House Travel Office, 2006-2009
- J. Stanley Pottinger, Assistant U.S. Attorney General, Civil Rights Division, 1973-1977
- Luis Reyes, Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Assistant to the President, 2006-2009
- Tom Ridge, Governor of Pennsylvania, 1995-2001, and Secretary of Homeland Security, 2003-2005
- Mark A. Robbins, General Counsel, U.S. Office of Personnel Management, 2001-2006
- Kelley Robertson, Chief of Staff, Republican National Committee, 2005-2007
- Brian Roehrkasse, Director of Public Affairs, Department of Justice, 2007-2009
- Harvey S. Rosen, Chairman and Member, Council of Economic Advisers, 2003-2005
- Lee Rudofsky, Deputy General Counsel, Romney for President, 2012
- Patrick Ruffini, eCampaign Director, Republican National Committee, 2005-2007
- Corry Schiermeyer, Director for Global Communications, National Security Council, 2005-2007
- Steve Schmidt, Deputy Assistant to the President and Counselor to the Vice President, 2004-2006, and Senior Advisor, John McCain for President, 2008
- Faryar Shirzad, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs, 2004-2006
- Robert Steel, Undersecretary of the Treasury for Domestic Finance, 2006-2008
- Mark Wallace, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Representative for UN Management and Reform, 2006-2008
- Nicolle Wallace, Assistant to the President and White House Communications Director, 2005-2008
- Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Secretary of Defense, 2001-2005, and President of the World Bank Group, 2005-2007
Bush (George) Administration Officials
- Jim Cicconi, Assistant to the President and Deputy to the Chief of Staff, 1989-1990
- Kenneth M. Duberstein, White House Chief of Staff and Assistant to the President, 1981-1984 and 1987-1989
- Jonathan Kislak, Deputy Undersecretary of Agriculture for Small Community and Rural Development, 1989-1991
Ronald Reagan Administration Officials
- David Stockman, Director, Office of Management and Budget, 1981-1985
- Elizabeth Noyer Feld, Public Affairs Specialist, White House Office of Management and Budget, 1984-1987
- Robert Kabel, Special Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs, 1982-1985
Romney Presidential Campaign Staff
- Katie Biber, General Counsel, Romney for President, 2007-2008 and 2011-2012
- David Kochel, Senior Iowa Advisor, Mitt Romney for President, 2007-2008 and 2011-2012
- Alex Lundry, Director of Data Science, Romney for President, 2012
- Beth Myers, Romney for President Campaign Manager, 2007-2008 and Senior Advisor, 2011-2012
John McCain Presidential Campaign
- Ana Navarro, National Hispanic Co-Chair, John McCain for President, 2008
- Jill Hazelbaker, Communications Director, John McCain for President, 2007-2008
Republican Elected Officials
- Susan Molinari, Member of Congress, 1990-1997
- Connie Morella, Member of Congress, 1987-2003, and U.S. Ambassador to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2003-2007Charles Bass, Member of Congress, 1995-2007 and 2011-2013
- Mary Bono Mack, Member of Congress, 1998-2013
- Paul Cellucci, Governor of Massachusetts, 1997-2001, and Ambassador to Canada, 2001-2005
- B.J. Nikkel, Colorado State Representative and Majority Whip, 2009-2012, and District Director for Marilyn Musgrave, Member of Congress, 2002-2006
- Ruth Ann Petroff, Wyoming State Representative, 2011-Present
- Larry Pressler, U.S. Senator from South Dakota, 1979-1997, and Member of Congress, 1975-1979
- Deborah Pryce, Member of Congress, 1993-2009
- John Reagan, New Hampshire State Senator, 2012-Present
- Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Member of Congress, 1989-Present
- Adam Schroadter, New Hampshire State Representative, 2010-Present
- Christopher Shays, Member of Congress, 1987-2009
- Nancy Stiles, New Hampshire State Senator, 2010-Present
- Jane Swift, Governor of Massachusetts, 2001-2003
- Richard Tisei, Massachusetts State Senator 1991-2011, and Senate Minority Leader 2007-2011
- William F. Weld, Governor of Massachusetts, 1991-1997, and Assistant U.S. Attorney General, Criminal Division, 1986-1988
- Christine Todd Whitman, Governor of New Jersey, 1994-2001, and Administrator of the EPA, 2001-2003
- Janet Duprey, New York State Assemblywoman, 2007-Present
- Dan Zwonitzer, Wyoming State Representative, 2005-present
- Mark Grisanti, New York State Senator, 2011-Present
- Patrick Guerriero, Mayor of Melrose, Massachusetts, and Member of Massachusetts House of Representatives, 1993-2001
- Richard L. Hanna, Member of Congress, 2011-Present
- Michael Huffington, Member of Congress, 1993-1995
- Jon Huntsman, Governor of Utah, 2005-2009, and Ambassador to China, 2009-2011
- Gary Johnson, Governor of New Mexico, 1995-2003, and Libertarian Party Nominee for President, 2012
- Nancy L. Johnson, Member of Congress, 1983-2007
- James Kolbe, Member of Congress, 1985-2007
- Thomas A. Little, Vermont State Representative, 1992-2002 and Chairman of the Vermont House Judiciary Committee, 1999-2002
Prominent Republican Business Associates
- Cliff S. Asness, Businessman, Philanthropist, and Author
- David D. Aufhauser, General Counsel, Department of the Treasury, 2001-2003
- David C. Chavern, Business Association Executive
- Meg Whitman, Republican Nominee for Governor of California, 2010
- Daniel S. Loeb, Businessman and Philanthropist
Republican Think-Tankers, Cultural Supports, Media Stars
- S.E. Cupp, Author and Political Commentator
- Robert Wickers, Republican Political Consultant
- Clint Eastwood, Producer, Director, Actor, and Mayor of Carmel, California, 1986-1988
- Mark Gerson, Chairman, Gerson Lehrman Group and Author of The Neoconservative Vision: From the Cold War to the Culture Wars and In the Classroom: Dispatches from an Inner-City School that Works
- N. Greg Mankiw, Chairman, Council of Economic Advisers, 2003-2005
- Michael E. Murphy, Republican Political Consultant
Newt Gingrich (Speaker of the House) Staffers
- Richard Galen, Communications Director, Speaker’s Political Office, 1996-1997
- Ed Kutler, Assistant to the Speaker of the House, 1995-1997
Republican Congressional Staff
- John Goodwin, Chief of Staff to Raul Labrador, Member of Congress, 2011-2013
- Kathryn Lehman, Chief of Staff, House Republican Conference, 2003-2005
Aaron McLear, Press Secretary to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, 2007-2011
This is the low point in my time in the United States Congress. I can not tell you how ashamed I am.
Senator Lindsay Graham, talking about the sequester.
The Republican/Democrat game of chicken went to the next round last night when Congressional stonewalling forced President Obama to make good on his threats and sign the sequester order.
We’re sequestered. The Republican idiots and the Democratic idiots drove us over the cliff.
What does this mean to you and me?
I’m going to give you two replies. One will be what I’ve heard is going to happen to Oklahoma (and by derivation, to everyone else.) The second will be a more official summary.
1. Oklahoma. What I’ve been told is that the sequester will take about .05% out of Oklahoma’s state budget. I’m expressing it in percent because that will make it easier for you to compute the effect on your state. Since so many of these things are based on population, that will be more accurate for you. I’m guessing, but I would imagine that the percentage will be similar in other states, while the numbers will (due to their higher populations) be higher. What that means in Oklahoma is several hundred million dollars which we will have to make up out of our relatively small state budget.
While that may not sound like a lot of money, (by government standards) one of the things that makes it hard to handle is that we are already well into the budget process. Coming as it does as an unplanned-for hit, it will be harder to make it up. Also, a good bit of this will ultimately be off-loaded on parts of the private sector such as the hospitals, who will have to handle the problems it creates in people’s lives out of their budgets. There will also be a hit on the economy, which will result in lower tax revenues, which could result in another round of this further down the line.
Oklahoma has fared relatively well in the recent economic downturn because we are an oil producing state and oil prices have been high. However, our tax revenues will fall if people buy less because of this sequester.
Our military bases, such as Tinker Air Force Base, are predicting that they will have to furlough people in order to make up their part of the shortfall that they expect from the sequester. I believe other government agencies will be similarly impacted. This, of course, will also affect tax revenues and the overall economy.
I think we will see similar things all across the country, which is why I’m am detailing this here.
2. What the sequester does.
President Obama was forced to sign the sequestration order as a result of Congress’ failure to act. This means that unless the members of Congress come back from their long weekend off with a new attitude, the sequester will take affect.
The sequester totals around $85 billion which will come out of the budget over the next 10 months. Non defense programs will be cut by 10% and defense programs will be cut by 13%.
Most government programs will be cut. Social security, Children’s health insurance, food stamps and Medicaid will not be cut. Medicare won’t be cut, but payments to providers will shrink by 2%.
Most other government programs will feel the cut, with furloughs predicted for agencies ranging from the FAA to the Bureau of Prisons.
It’s a little difficult to predict exactly what will happen since the President and the Republican leadership differ in what they are telling us and I think both of them are spinning things to bolster their case. Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn says that agencies have plenty of space in their budgets to handle the cuts. From what I know of government agencies, I think he’s probably right. However, from what I know of government agencies, I doubt that they will do this.
I expect more gamesmanship, which I expect means that agencies will not “handle” the cuts at all, and you and I will end up paying for all this.
The worst of the sequester will not hit until April, since, by law, the government furloughs can’t start until employees have been given 30 days’ notice. If this goes on long enough for that to happen, we’ll start feeling it in all sorts of ways, including a sudden, powerful drag on the economy. For more information, go here and here.
In the meantime, as I said earlier, the president was forced to sign the sequester orders and Congress has gone off on a long weekend after a hard week of doing nothing good for the country. I’ve been through legislative fights, and I would guess they need a cooling-off period. The best thing they can do for all of us is go soak their swollen heads.
As for you and me, we have to decide for ourselves if this is how we want our government to work. We keep getting choices between bad and worse at election time. As a consequence, we’ve elected a whole Congress of party hacks who do not care enough about this country to do the nation’s business.
I have never and I will never tell anyone to change their party. I have always, and I will always tell you that you need to demand that whichever party you are in clean up its act and stop giving us puppet people for elected officials.
If you want to chat with your Congressional delegation about this, you can find their phone numbers and email addresses here.
We elected these people. We can un-elect them.
We are up to our ears in alligators folks.
Trying to respond to all the challenges to faith, sanity and the future of Western Civilization these days is like playing a game of whackamole on speed.
But there are things you can do. Pick one and do it. Then tomorrow, pick another and do that.
Here are a few ideas. If you have others, please add them in the comments section.
Now that the president has come out swinging for gay marriage, and Britain and France have heads of state who are doing the same, we appear to be in a losing battle on this one. States are passing gay marriage referendums, poll numbers keep piling up in favor of redefining marriage essentially out of existence, and in Britain and other places where they are further along with this than the USA, the refuse from this change is already piling up.
Christians are losing their jobs, being sued and excluded from public life in those countries because they will not compromise on the Gospels. I’ve been told that Britain is talking about doing away with the legal notion that marriage has anything to do with sexual fidelity, since, (I guess) they think that somehow tracks with gay marriage.
So, what are we to do?
First of all, we are to stay the course. We are to stand our ground. Do not quit on the Gospels of Christ because polls tell you that other people are doing that. Do not ever make following Jesus a matter of what is popular or trendy.
Second, we need to take good care of our own marriages. Love your spouse. Raise your children. Be there, at home with your family as a true husband or wife; father or mother.
Third, we can pray/fast and offer our concerns about the future of marriage up to the Lord, uniting them with His sufferings. Kathy Schiffer, who blogs at Seasons of Grace, published a post about a suggestion from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops. Here is what part of what she said:
The U.S. Bishops have an idea: With the Supreme Court about to hear an important case on the rights of homosexuals to marry, the bishops invite you to fast today. Dedicate your penance, they urge, for the intention of marriage:
For the justices of the Supreme Court, that when they consider two marriage-related cases later this month, they would uphold the authentic meaning of marriage as the union of one man and one woman, a good in itself and for all of society.
This is a good idea. Just publishing their flyer today, on the day of fast, is NOT such a good idea—I’d have told you (and told myself!) yesterday, had I seen anything in the news about it. (Of course, it may have been pushed aside due to the dramatic news yesterday, namely, the resignation of our Holy Father.)
Nonetheless, late is better than not at all; so if you’ve already had breakfast and lunch and some snacks (as I have), consider sacrificing in whatever way you can today: have dinner an hour late; skip the dessert; don’t eat between meals. Let us join together to offer our minor mortifications in defense of the sacred institution of marriage.
As Kathy notes, it’s too late to skip eating between meals today. But it’s not too late to engage in another simple type of penance. I am going to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet and offer that up. I’m sure you can think of something that will work for you.
Fourth: We can go to Washington to participate in the March for Marriage on March 26, 2013. We are having our annual Oklahoma March for Life on the 25th, so I don’t know if I can manage to go, but I am looking into it. A reader asked me a couple of weeks ago if I knew how we could manage to communicate with the Supreme Court. I didn’t answer her, because I wasn’t sure what to say. Now I know of one way, and this march is it.
Frank Weathers, who blogs at Why I am Catholic, has also written about this march. You can check it out here. I got this great logo from Frank’s blog:
I already gave you a “to do” for this one. You need to call or email your United States Senator or Congressperson and ask them to make the repeal of the HHS Mandate their bargaining point in the Fiscal Cliff/Sequester fight. You can find who they are and how to contact them here.
You might also drop a note to the National Democratic and Republican Parties, letting them know that you oppose the HHS Mandate and support religious freedom.
You can email the Republican National Committee here.
You can email the Democratic National Committee here.
Do not underestimate the power of these national parties where issues like this are concerned. In a Congress of Puppet People, they are often the ones who ultimately pull the strings.
I received the following legislative action alert concerning the HHS Mandate in an email this morning.
The alert asks people to contact their Congresspeople urging them to make the repealing the HHS Mandate a sticking point in the Fiscal Cliff/Sequester fight currently going on in Congress right now.
In my opinion, our supporters in Congress should have done this a year ago, before the Mandate took effect. But, later is much better than never.
You can contact your Senators and Representatives by calling their local offices or you can do it by email. To learn who your elected officials in Washington are, and get their phone numbers and email addresses, go here.
This is the full text of the alert, which comes from the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment:
In 2012, the Obama Administration’s contraceptive and sterilization mandate went into effect for most employers. Congress is preparing to consider “must-pass” appropriations legislation. Needed conscience protection provisions should be made a part of this legislation. Today please urge your Representative and two Senators to take action to protect conscience rights and religious liberty!
- Send an e-mail through NCHLA’s Grassroots Action Center: Click Here
- Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at: 202-224-3121, or call your Members’ local offices. Additional contact info can be found on Members’ web sites at: www.senate.gov andwww.house.gov.
Suggested Message: “Please support legislation to protect the rights of conscience in health care when you take up ‘must-pass’ bills such as a Continuing Resolution to fund the federal government. Government must not force Americans to violate their religious and moral beliefs on respect for life when they provide health care or sponsor or purchase health coverage. The Administration’s contraceptive mandate forces health coverage to include sterilization and contraceptives, including drugs that can cause an abortion, even when employers and employees have moral or religious objections.”
When: Congress may consider “must-pass” appropriations legislation such as a Continuing Resolution as early as the week of March 4. Please contact your Representative and two Senators today!
In a February 15 letter to Congress, Archbishop William Lori, Chairman of the bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty, described specific conscience protection provisions and why they are needed, concluding: “I urge you in the strongest terms possible to incorporate the provisions described above in the upcoming legislative proposals to fund the federal government.” See:nchla.org/datasource/idocuments/LoriLttr021513.pdf.
Under the new health care law, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) requires most health plans to cover “preventive services for women,” including services that many citizens find objectionable for moral and religious reasons. These objectionable services include sterilization, FDA-approved birth control (such as the IUD, Depo-Provera, ‘morning-after’ pills, and the abortion-inducing drug Ella), and “education and counseling” to promote these to all “women of reproductive capacity,” including minor girls. The HHS mandate allows only a very narrow exemption for a “religious employer.”
On February 1, HHS released a new “proposed rule” that goes into greater detail on the “accommodation” but continues to allow only a very narrow exemption, chiefly aimed at what it calls “houses of worship.” Other religious organizations offering education, health care and charitable services to all in need do not qualify for the exemption. There is no exemption or delay for individuals, or for businesses owned and operated by individuals with moral or religious objections.
Think back ten months ago to when President Obama announced that his position on gay marriage had “evolved.”
What his position had in fact evolved from was his prior position when he promised the American people that he was against gay marriage. That was in 2008 when he was working to get elected president. Ten months ago, he announced that his thinking had evolved past his earlier promise and he was now in favor of gay marriage.
At that distant, and now forgotten time of ten long months ago, he promised the American people that his newly-evolved support for gay marriage was just his “personal opinion” and that it would have no effect on the actual laws concerning marriage. After all, the laws in question were not federal laws, and as President of the United States he had no power to or intention of trying to influence state legislatures.
That, as they say, was then. This is now. And right now it appears that our president has every intention of using the force of his office in whatever way he can to push gay marriage on the country. The fiscal cliff/sequester fight may have robbed him of the economic wherewithal to use his powers as Commander in Chief to send aircraft carriers to the Persian Gulf, but evidently there is still plenty of money to buy ink for his office printers.
Yesterday, the president filed yet another of his briefs suggesting to the Supreme Court how they should rule on the question of gay marriage. In this particular brief, he asked them to overturn a vote of the people in California. I realize that President Obama is not one to care about things like consistency in his actions, but I still think it’s interesting that a man whose power of office comes entirely from a vote of the people would be so flip about overturning other votes of the people.
The people spoke in California. But evidently, the president’s opinion on votes of the people is evolving right along with just about everything else he tells us he believes. So far as I can tell, the only promises this president can be trusted to keep are the ones he made to Planned Parenthood and the abortion on demand crowd. For them, he will do anything.
You can find the full text of the brief here.
A New Yorker article describing the brief says in part:
I abandoned my fellow politicians for a few days and focused my heart and mind on the historic departure of Pope Benedict XVI.
I didn’t have time to watch the events unfold on tv, but I did manage to catch a few news clips on the internet. When I saw the Holy Father, hobbling to the helicopter as he left the Vatican, and then hobbling away from it at Castle Gandolfo, it touched my soul.
Returning from that to the news out of Washington where the dissolution of our government spins along
on lies, egos and a jaw-dropping lack of concern for the welfare of this country and its people was a little like stepping out of a warm bed straight into a blizzard. What a painful return to the garbage the people we’ve entrusted with our government are spitting out.
So much madness has happened and is happening while I was pope watching that I’m going to summarize the most ugly stories to bring us up to speed. Here, for your consternation is what is going on in our nation’s capitol.
1. Sequester. They’re now calling the old “Fiscal Cliff” the “Sequester.”
Fancy name change, same old … I’m grasping for a word to describe it that isn’t vulgar or profane … same old irresponsibility. From the comments people usually make on this blog, I expect everyone to line up behind their team and blame the other guy. Not me. My days of pavlovian partisanship are long past. I’m for the USA, and I’m pretty well convinced that the R and the D are only for the R and the D.
Today, or tonight rather, we are set to go over another fiscal cliff by means of what they are now calling a sequester. What that refers to without the gloss of obscure verbiage is that a round of budget cuts will go into effect in a mindless and punishing fashion which will hurt you and me and our country. This will happen because the overgrown children in Washington care more about pushing one another around than doing the jobs we elected them to do.
I am well aware that commenters on this blog will say “What could my guys do but throw pies in the face of the other guys?” Just remember folks, those pies they are throwing are your jobs, your house payment, your future. We need to reduce the deficit, sure, but not by just taking a pair of scissors to the things that matter the most in an attempt to scare the other side into bending our way. That’s not deficit reduction, that’s playing chicken with our futures to prove who’s the manliest man in Washington DC.
2. Bob Woodward, President Obama and the utterly biased, nutso Obama press.
Bob Woodward called President Obama out for what was an obvious … searching again for a word that is not vulgar or profane … piece of political gamesmanship at the expense of the nation.
It seems President Obama went over the top in his attempts to rally the American people behind his team in the on-going Fiscal Cliff … er … Sequester games by announcing that the aircraft carrier USS Harry Truman couldn’t leave for the Persian Gulf as scheduled because, well, because the “Sequester” meant we didn’t have the money to send them.
Bob Woodward, who is not exactly a right wing stalwart, violated the Obama press rules by actually disagreeing with the President, calling his actions “a kind of madness.” In a country where the press lines up behind “their” team in these partisan battles with the same pavlovian mindlessness that our elected officials do, Bob Woodward’s comments were nothing short of lemming treason. Puppet politicians pay a price when they cut their strings, as do members of the puppet press.
I’ll bet Bob Woodward is eating lunch all by himself these days.
There you have it. The DC boys are still behaving like boys playing soldier behind their cardboard box forts in mama’s living room. The trouble for us is that it’s not mama’s living room; it’s our nation’s capitol, and those aren’t cardboard boxes; they’re the future of our country.
How sad for all of us.
… and New Advent has a “Papal Buzzmeter” on their site, which is designed to educate, amuse and keep us informed of what’s happening with the upcoming Papal Conclave and the election of a new pope. Check it out here.
Cardinal Wuerl describes a Papal Conclave as a time of prayer and silence; like a “very, very strong, very heavy retreat.”
He says that the cardinals will be focused on the aggressive secularism that is tearing at the faith all around the world, as well as other challenges. He asks for prayers from all of us, which I personally have already begun.
Our next pope will be tasked with leading us through times of great challenge. I am excited to learn who the Holy Spirit will send us.
The National Catholic Register article describing Cardinal Wuerl’s comments says in part:
The archbishop of Washington asks the Church to pray and ask God to send the Holy Spirit on the cardinals during the conclave.
by ESTEFANIA AGUIRRE/CNA/EWTN NEWS 02/28/2013 Comment
– CNA/Estefania Aguirre
ROME — Attending a conclave is similar to going on a rigorous spiritual retreat that is pervaded by silence, according to Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C.
“It’s like going on a very, very strong, heavy retreat,” explained Cardinal Wuerl in an interview at the Pontifical North American College in Rome.
“It’s heavy in the sense of leaving aside everything else, but this time the retreat master is the Holy Spirit,” he said.
He believes that while the conclave is focused on the actual voting, it is also a time of prayer and being open to the Holy Spirit. “I will be. And I’m sure it will be the same for all of the cardinals there, taking this time of quiet simply to open our hearts to that voice of the Spirit.”
Cardinal Wuerl assisted a sick cardinal at the 2005 conclave that elected Pope Benedict..Since he was made a cardinal in 2010, this will be his first conclave as an elector.
“There’s a silence that pervades the entire conclave, particularly in the Sistine Chapel,” he said.
“I think that sustaining the serenity of spirit is why the whole idea of the conclave is quietness.”
According to the cardinal, the next Pope will have two major challenges: fighting secularism and being media savvy.
“Great secularism is pervading the Church and prevailing all around us, so it brings a sense of urgency that we need to be re-proposing the Gospel,” the cardinal said.
“He will need to be able to reach out through all the means of communication today, especially social communication to be present all over the world,” he added.
Cardinal Wuerl said that while a pope cannot be physically present worldwide, he can use social media as a way to be present electronically.
He added that the most important thing for people to do now is to pray and ask God to send the Holy Spirit on the cardinals during the conclave.
Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/cardinal-wuerl-describes-spiritual-experience-of-conclave?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NCRegisterDailyBlog+National+Catholic+Register#When:2013-02-28%2014:31:01#ixzz2MDGliHNW
“May you live in interesting times.”
That saying is reputed by some sources to be an ancient Chinese curse. Other sources claim it is an ancient Hebrew curse. It appears no one knows for sure exactly where it came from. On the other hand, no one seems to deny the underlying truth of it; that historic, or “interesting” times are often tumultuous and unpleasant for the people who must live through them.
Just as no one wants to have a really good medical malpractice suit, no one wants to live their precious life in the dislocation, misery and often dangerous times historians tend to find “interesting.”
We are fortunate because we are living through a truly historic event and no one will suffer or die because of it. Pope Benedict’s resignation takes effect today, and we are temporarily without a spiritual father to guide and govern our great Church. But, interesting as it is, this transit through a historic time is a moment of rejoicing and hope, rather than grief and tumult as we anticipate an orderly transition from one pope to his successor.
We trust that the Church will continue its consistent fealty to the Gospels in the face of whatever attacks opposing forces throw against it. We know that the sacrament of confession is there for us if we sin, the sacrament of the Eucharist will be available to give us strength for our daily journey on all the altars of all the Catholic churches of the world, and that we will have someone to marry us, bury us and, if need be, listen to and console us as we make our pilgrimage through this life to the next.
Pope Benedict XVI made the decision to resign his office and “climb the mountain” of living out the rest of his days as the Pope Emeritus. He has told us he will not go back to a private life of clubbiness and being one of the guys. He will, instead, continue his papal ministry without the administrative burdens of being a head of state and the administrator of this worldwide Church.
I take comfort in the knowledge that he will be upholding us all in his prayers. What a prayer warrior he will be for us and for the Church. I am glad to think that he will be able to rest without the strain and worry of managing this Church, which is a worldwide institution of over a billion people. Pole to pole, dateline to dateline; wherever you go on this Earth, I am convinced that you will find three things: MacDonald’s hamburgers, diet Coke, and the Catholic Church.
If that sounds like less than exalted company, consider that both diet Coke and MacDonald’s deal with the universal human need of food, and the Church provides for that other universal human need of eternal salvation. MacDonald’s feeds the body (albeit not too well) and the Church feeds the soul, and it does that very well, indeed.
President Obama, who is often referred to as the most powerful man on earth, governs a nation of roughly 300 million people. The pope, on the other hand, governs a Church of 1.2 billion.
The pope speaks with the only unified Christian voice in the world today. The Catholic Church is increasingly being forced to stand alone in its support for holy matrimony between one man and one woman, sexual chastity, the sanctity of human life, and the hope of eternal life for all people, everywhere.
The moral and prophetic voice of the Catholic Church is the single best hope this world has of surviving its own dissolution.
Pope Benedict XVI decided that his age had brought him to the pass where he needed to hand the responsibility for this great Church forward to his successor. Christians everywhere owe him a debt of gratitude for the suffering servitude he gave to us and to Our Lord these past 8 years. He is handing forward a Church that has not flinched from the responsibility to be the light, shining in the darkness.
Now that he goes to his new charge of praying and working for the Church and all of us until the end of his earthly days, the best thing we can do is join our prayers to his. We may not be the seasoned prayer warrior that he is, but we are God’s own children.
Let us join Pope Benedict in his prayers for the Church and the world.
At the very least, we can pray as he taught us in his last audience;
“I adore you, my God and I love you with all my heart. Thank you for having created me, for having made me Christian…”
He told them that “among you is the future pope, whom I promise my unconditional reverence and obedience.”
According to a rather snarky New York Times article below, the Holy Father made this statement to allay “concern among Vatican watchers” that he would do otherwise. I don’t know for sure, but my guess is that the “Vatican watchers” who expressed this “concern” is the New York Times and other media of their general outlook. I don’t think anyone else shared this “concern.”
In this same article, the New York Times, which has had a few scandals of its own, characterized Pope Benedict’s reign as pope as “scandal ridden.”
In spite of the negativity in the article, Pope Benedict’s grace, humility and utter devotion to Christ and His Church shine through. You can not report about this man’s last days in office and use even the most rudimentary facts of his actions or quote the smallest bit of his words without that happening.
Perhaps that’s what it means for all of us to be the light of the world that shines in the darkness.
The New York Times article I’m talking about says in part:
VATICAN CITY — In his final hours as head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI met on Thursday with the cardinals who will elect his successor, urging them to be “like an orchestra” that harmonizes for the good of the church and pledging that he would behave with “unconditional reverence and obedience” toward his successor.
It was one of the concluding acts of a nearly eight-year, scandal-dogged papacy that, Benedict said on Wednesday, was filled with “light and joy” but also had its darker moments when “the Lord seemed to be sleeping.”
A day after blessing the faithful for the last time as pope, Benedict will leave the Vatican by helicopter on Thursday for the papal summer residence and his retirement will formally take effect at 8 p.m., when he will become the “pope emeritus.”
After thanking the more than 100 cardinals collectively from a gilded throne in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace, the pope rose and greeted each of them individually.
Draped in a red and gold mantle lined with snow-white ermine, Benedict clasped the cardinals’ hands as they removed their distinctive red skullcaps to greet him and kiss his ring.
Benedict told them, “I will be close to you in prayer” as they meet in coming days to choose his successor from their ranks.
“Among you is also the future pope, whom I promise my unconditional reverence and obedience,” Benedict told the cardinals, reflecting the concern among Vatican watchers about what it will mean to have two popes residing in the Vatican.(Read the rest here.)
For more bizarro coverage from the Catholic bashing wing of the media, check out Mark Shea’s post It Turns Out Andrew Sullivan is a Catholic Blogger.
According to news reports, Pope Benedict will slip out of the Vatican quietly when he leaves for his retirement. There will be no public ceremony, only a few private good-byes and a short helicopter ride to his temporary residence.
An Indian Express article describing the pope’s departure plans says in part:
Pope Benedict XVI slips quietly from the world stage on Thursday after a private last goodbye to his cardinals and a short flight to a country palace to enter the final phase of his life “hidden from the world”.
In keeping with his shy and modest ways, there will be no public ceremony to mark the first papal resignation in six centuries and no solemn declaration ending his nearly eight-year reign at the head of the world’s largest church.
His last public appearance will be a short greeting to residents and well-wishers at Castel Gandolfo, the papal summer residence south of Rome, in the late afternoon after his 15-minute helicopter hop from the Vatican.
When the resignation becomes official at 8 pm Rome time (1900 GMT), Benedict will be relaxing inside the 17th century palace. Swiss Guards on duty at the main gate to indicate the Pope’s presence within will simply quit their posts and return to Rome to await their next pontiff. (Read the rest here.)
I began my day by reading the Holy Father’s beautiful words that he gave to us during his last public audience. I was moved, touched and inspired all at once. He spoke eloquently of what the Christian life truly is; a life of service, peace and joy in the face of life’s transitions.
Then, I turned to checking out the other headlines of the day by clicking on one of the major media web sites. I don’t want to give them any help, even from my itty bitty blog, by linking to them. You can take my word for this or not.
How did they headline the Holy Father’s good-bye?
The headline was: Pope Issues Gloomy Final Message.
Is that bias, or stupidity? What do you think?
What are we going to call Pope Benedict XVI after his resignation takes effect February 28?
That question appears to be a dome scratcher for a lot of folks in the Vatican. They, like us, appear to be grappling with the ever-changing reality of history in the making. Thus, the we’ll-call-him-this … no-not-that-we’ll-call-him-this nature of the story of how we should address the man who was our pope.
At first, the story was that he would go back to being Cardinal Ratzinger. Then, it was that he would be the Bishop Emeritus of Rome. Now, the announcement is that Pope Benedict XVI will become the “Pope Emeritus” during his retirement.
Personally, I like this one best of all. It’s what I would have chosen at the beginning, if anyone had asked me.
After all, this title says what he truly will be, the Pope Emeritus.
Deacon Greg Kandra has the story. It says in part:
Benedict XVI will be “Pontiff emeritus” or “Pope emeritus”, as Fr. Federico Lombardi, S.J., director of the Holy See Press Office, reported in a press conference on th final days of the current pontificate. He will keep the name of “His Holiness, Benedict XVI” and will dress in a simple white cassock without the mozzetta (elbow-length cape).
Go to Deacon Greg’s blog here to read all the details.
Despite claims to the contrary by the chattering class, practicing Catholics like their pope and want the Church to stay the course on its moral teachings.
I’m glad to hear this. I was beginning to wonder if I attended mass in churches that were somehow “different” from other Catholic parishes. The foment for gay marriage, contraception, abortion on demand is nowhere to be found where I worship. I’ve attended mass in Catholic Churches all over this country and I have yet to find a parish that was any different about these things from those that I see here in Oklahoma.
They all have their “respect life” signs and programs for the unborn. There are the usual Altar Guild bake sales, announcements about raising money for this or that family in distress and I swear in each parish, the same rock-ribbed little old lady with a dangerous-looking cane who sits in “her” seat and will not budge for errant newcomers who want to slide past her.
I’ve never seen anything but respect for the Eucharist. There is nary a sign in any of them of all this dissent I keep hearing about. I was beginning to think that I must be lucky in my choices of churches when I travel or that maybe the stories I was hearing were greatly exaggerated.
According to a recent poll by the Pew Foundation, it was the latter.
Seventy-four percent of Catholics approve of Pope Benedict.Sixty-three percent of Catholics who attend mass each week said that the next Pope should maintain traditional Catholic teaching. Less than 10% called for the Church to accept same-sex marriage, women priests or contraception.
What I think that means is that the authors of these stories about “dissent” in the Church are basing their claims on surveys which include Catholics who don’t go to mass and are not practicing Catholics at all.
I have a relative who says that she is a member of the Disciples of Christ church. She does not attend church, ever. When someone dies, that’s where she has the funeral. When her son got married, that’s where they had the wedding. This is the extent of her activity in the Disciples of Christ church. But if you polled her on a survey she would tell you that she was a member of the Disciples of Christ denomination. I think those are the kind of “Catholics” who pollsters quiz to get these dodgy numbers that the pundits like to quote.
If they talk to people who actually participate in the life of the Church, the numbers become something that those of us who also attend mass and interact with practicing Catholics can validate from our own experiences.
I recognize the attitudes expressed in a poll that shows that the vast majority of Catholics support the pope and traditional Catholic teachings. Those attitudes are the ones I see at mass every weekend in whatever parish I happen to be. The other numbers that the Catholic bashers like to bandy about don’t gibe with my experience as a practicing Catholic at all.
I think that people who take such pleasure in reporting the impending demise of the Catholic Church are expressing their own wishful thinking. These people don’t like the Church precisely because of its stubborn refusal to change 2,000 years of Christian teaching to suit them and their wishes.
They defame the Church and natter on about its failings because they are trying to create a phony moral high ground for themselves from which to assail the Church and bully it into silence. These constant claims of a Church whose followers do not believe in it and who are about to abandon it are what they wish would happen.
The Catholic Church is the repository of faith. These teachings it won’t bend are its charge. It offers each of us a simple, followable roadmap to heaven. The Catholic Church is not made up of perfect people. All of us, both those who wear collars and those who sit in the pews, are fallible, fallen human beings living out our lives in a fallen world. We can and we do sin.
The teachings of our Church — the ones that cause such anger and wrath on the part of the Church’s critics — are how we know the finer points of right and wrong. The Church guides us in how to discern right and wrong, and then, when we are ready to turn things around and try again, it gives us the remedy of forgiveness and reorientation through the sacrament of confession.
I am gratified to see this Pew survey. But I’m not surprised. It simply verifies what I’ve been seeing at mass every weekend for years.
The CNA article describing this Pew Foundation survey says in part:
Washington D.C., Feb 22, 2013 / 02:05 am (CNA).- As the Feb. 28 resignation of Pope Benedict XVI approaches, the vast majority of U.S. Catholics have a favorable view of the pontiff, and the majority support traditional Catholic teaching as well.
According to a recent survey by Pew Research Center, 74 percent of U.S. Catholics “express a favorable view of the pope.”
Pope Benedict has been regarded favorably throughout his entire papacy, with approval ratings among U.S. Catholics ranging from 67-83 percent.
Pope Benedict’s predecessor, Pope John Paul II, also enjoyed a high favorability rating over the course of his papacy. The Pew Forum’s polling in the 1980s and 1990s found that more than 90 percent of Americans had a positive opinion of Pope John Paul II.
Weekly Mass attendees were most likely to favor tradition, with 63 percent saying the next Pope should maintain traditional teaching.
Those Catholics who favored taking the Church in a new direction could give pollsters an open-ended response as to where they would like to see change. Nineteen percent said the Church should “become more modern,” while 15 percent wanted a tougher stance on sex abuse.
Fewer than 10 percent called for the Church to accept same-sex “marriage,” women priests or contraception. (Read the rest here.)
We will have a new pope.
Pope Benedict’s resignation becomes effective February 28, at 8 pm. The See of Peter will not be vacant long. In a short time, the College of Cardinals will convene for the Papal Conclave to elect a new pope.
Catholics and other Christians the world over are praying for the Holy Spirit to guide this conclave as they select the man who will lead the Church through the times ahead. This Lent is like no other because of the Holy Father’s resignation and the transition to a new pope.
History is making while we are watching. I pray that this will lead to a new springtime in the Church, a renewal of faith and faithfulness from everyone who bends their knee to Our Lord Jesus.
The following CNA article gives a brief description of the general procedures that the cardinals follow when they are electing a pope. It says in part:
Vatican City, Feb 24, 2013 / 01:12 pm (CNA).- Pope Benedict XVI’s successor will soon be elected during a conclave, a secret vote of cardinals that will occur in the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel next month.
The number of cardinal-electors, who will travel to Rome from across the globe, is limited to 120, and only those cardinals who are not yet 80 are allowed to vote in the conclave.
Conclaves are events of “the strictest secrecy,” to preserve the impartiality of proceedings.
… The cardinals are not allowed to communicate with those outside the area of the election. Only a limited number of masters of ceremonies and priests are allowed to be present, as are two medical doctors. The cardinal-electors stay at “Saint Martha’s House,” a guest house adjacent to St. Peter’s Basilica.
While the papacy is vacant, all the heads of the Roman Curia lose their office, except the Camerlengo – who administers Church finances and property – and the Major Penitentiary, who deals with issues of absolution and indulgences.
The conclave begins with the votive Mass for the election of the Pope in St. Peter’s Basilica. The cardinals then invoke the assistance of the Holy Spirit, and enter the Sistine Chapel.
A well-trusted priest presents the cardinals with a meditation on the problems facing the Church and the need for discernment, “concerning the grave duty incumbent on them and thus on the need to act with right intention for the good of the Universal Church, having only God before their eyes.”
The priest who offered the meditation then leaves the Sistine Chapel, and the voting process begins.
John Paul II allowed for a simple majority for a valid election, but Pope Benedict’s “Constitutione apostolica” returned to the long-standing tradition of a two-thirds majority.
Each cardinal writes his choice for Pope on a piece of paper which is folded in two. The ballots are then counted, double-checked, and burned. The voting process continues until one candidate has received two-thirds of the ballots.
When the ballots of an inconclusive vote are burned, the smoke is made black. If the vote elected a Pope, it is white.
… The man elected is immediately the Bishop of Rome upon his acceptance, assuming he has already been consecrated a bishop. One of the cardinals announce to the public that the election has taken place, and the new Pontiff gives a blessing from the balcony of the Vatican Basilica.
Pope Benedict will resign at 8 p.m. on Feb. 28, and at that time there will be 117 cardinal-electors. (Read the rest here.)