The Hydra-Headed DOMA Decision and Bankrupting the States

We all deserve the freedom to marry

Michigan state law allows health benefits for school employees and their spouses.

It does not allow health benefits for domestic partners.

US District Judge David Lawson struck down this law on June 28. He based his decision on the recent Supreme Court decision overturning the first half of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

State law determines what benefits public school employees will receive. These benefits are paid for out of the state coffers. One would think that this would be a state’s rights issue, determined by the state’s legal definition of what constitutes a spouse.

However, the recent Supreme Court decision has allowed the judge to overstep state definitions of marriage and require the State of Michigan to extend health care benefits to domestic partners.

According to CNA:

U.S. District Judge David Lawson’s June 28 ruling said it can “never be a legitimate purpose” to deny health benefits to the same-sex partners of public employees. He said the plaintiffs who lost benefits or had to pay for more expensive private health insurance have a “plausible claim” that the law violates the U.S. Constitution.

The 2011 law ended same-sex partner benefits for a few school districts, the counties of Ingham and Washtenaw and the cities of Ann Arbor, East Lansing and Kalamazoo, the Associated Press said.

Defenders of the law said it was passed in the spirit of a 2004 constitutional amendment that defined marriage as a union of a man and a woman. That amendment won 58 percent of the vote.

This, of course, raises other questions for Michigan, and for all states. The Supreme Court decision essentially overturned state definitions of marriage as between one man and one woman, at least for all practical purposes. The Michigan case is just one small example of how far-reaching this Supreme Court decision actually is.

Money down the drain

It will require a change in how the states pay for things such as employee benefits and entitlements. This district court decision pushes the envelope past legal marriages and into the area of domestic partnerships. Since our laws are required to be equal in their applications, that means that it does not just apply to domestic partnerships between same-sex couples, but between virtually anyone.

I realize that is not what the judge specifically addressed in his ruling, but that is the impact of the ruling. It may take a few court cases to make the point, but if this ruling stands up under appeal, that will be its effect in the long term.

The question immediately arises: How are the states going to pay for this? The answer, I’m pretty sure, is that they can’t. Oklahoma is actually in better financial condition than many states, and we would be flummoxed trying to provide benefits for every live-in “domestic partnership.” Of course, the federal government might decide to step in with huge subsidies for these benefits, but that raises the ugly question of how they are going to pay for it.

The only financially responsible answer that provides equal protection under the law that I can see is to either change state laws to redefine marriage to include gay couples and then wait for the next big trendy change allowing polygamy, followed by benefits to cohabiting heterosexuals, OR, do away with benefits for everybody. That is the effect of the Supreme Court’s decision on DOMA on the states.

I have no doubt that in the long run — and I’m talking about years, maybe a decade, but not much longer — where we will end up is doing away with benefits for everyone. It will be a simple financial imperative.

Welcome to the brave new world of marriage is whatever we say it is today.

Congressional Budget Office: 30 Late-Term Abortions Each Day

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Unborn, 20 Weeks

According to the Congressional Budget Office, doctors in the United States perform at least 30 late-term abortions each day.

The CBO analysisof HR 1797, the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act said in part:

“Based on data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), CBO estimates that, each year, about 11,000 abortions take place 20 weeks or more after fertilization.”

Any honest person who has dealt with this issue can tell you that this number is bound to be on the low side. Many doctors do not report late-term abortions. One reason for this is that pro choice people fight any attempt to require reporting with wildly erroneous claims that reporting would put undue hardship on doctors and endanger “women’s health,” as well as “turn back the clock” and “send women to the back alleys again.” They usually manage to work rape and incest victims into this somewhere as well.

This is standard boiler plate stuff that they trot out during any and every discussion of pro life legislation. The incredible thing is that, no matter how many times they do it, or how completely inapplicable it may be to the legislation in question, their true believers always buy it.

So, reporting of late-term abortions is, like every other sort of needed regulation, sparse, inconsistent and compromised by expensive court cases and constant hysterics from the pro abortion lobby.

Despite this, the CDC was able to document that American doctors kill at least 11,000 babies every year whose mothers are in the 5th month or later in their pregnancies. I’ve written before about the simple fact that late-term abortion is never medically necessary. A late-term abortion inevitably puts the woman through a labor and delivery anyway. So, if there is a medical reason to stop the pregnancy to save the mother’s life, doctors should just deliver the baby and try to save both their patients.

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Baby born at 21 weeks. 

Doctors who do late-term abortions have to very carefully kill the baby by shooting poison into its heart before before they do the procedure. If they don’t, there’s a good chance that the baby will survive the abortion and become a problem. I’m no doctor, but that sure sounds like they are aborting babies that are at least potentially viable by any definition of the word except the hatched-up political science fiction of pro abortion Supreme Court decisions.

All the arguments about the woman having a right to her own body fall apart when we consider late-term abortion. If the baby can survive the birth, then the child’s body becomes the issue, not its mother’s.

We commit at least 11,000 of these killings every year in this country. I am against the death penalty. I have the votes and the scars to prove it. But think for a minute about the outcry if we were doing 11,000 executions each year. There would — and there should — be widespread condemnation and claims of barbarism.

The Congressional Budget Office included this paragraph in their report:

“HR 1790 would result in increased spending for Medicaid. Since a portion of Medicaid is paid for by state governments, CBO estimates that state spending on the program would increase by about $170 million over the 2014-2023 period.”

I’m not going to go off on this because I realize that it’s the job of the CBO to provide this kind of cost analysis on all pieces of legislation. They are not saying, as some people will claim, that the CBO feels this money is more important than the lives of babies. They are simply supplying the information.

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Baby born at 22 weeks. 

The people who make the decision about what is important concerning this legislation are the duly elected members of the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives, together with the President of the United States. They are free to either disregard this financial analysis or base their entire vote on it. That is their choice.

I will say that $170 million is not very much money over a 9-year span in Medicaid funding. At 11,000 babies killed every year of that time period, we would have 99,000 dead children. That’s almost twice the number of soldiers we lost in Viet Nam. What the report is actually telling us is that the cost is minuscule, while the number of lives lost is huge.

One thing we need to decide as a people is do we want to continue this practice of killing viable babies? I would think that even people who favor legal abortion should be ready to re-consider late-term abortions by now.

It amazes me how angry and indignant people become when they see a photo of a baby murdered in an abortion. You’d think the photos, and not the killing itself, was the problem. I think the reason for all this outrage at the sight of photos is simple: They tell a truth that people don’t want to know.

It would be better by far if we stopped those photos by stopping the killing that they record. Think how simple that would be: No more late-term abortions = No more disturbing photos of murdered late-term babies.

 

Even Water Moccasins are Cute When They’re Babies

Even water moccasins are kind of cute when they’re babies.

Kind of.

However, it doesn’t take too long before they turn into fat, stinky, ugly poisonous death dealers that will come at you over the water like they were on patrol.

If they bite you, I guarantee that it will ruin your day, your week, possibly your life.

But they do look harmless when they’re babies. As, I would imagine, do Black Mambas and Gaboon Vipers.

Everything has its harmless-appearing phase. But some things are snakes right from the beginning, and if you take them in and try to cuddle up with them, it’s a matter of time before they teach you the reality of what they are and the damage they can do.

It’s much the same with blind hatred of groups of people. It can seem kinda cute at the beginning, when comedians and quipsters are making funny comments at their targets’ expense. It can even seem a good thing when social custom and the first few laws start the process of tamping down on what seems to the rest of the world as the excesses of behavior of the group in question.

After all, it’s reasonable. And besides, they’re bringing it on themselves.

But somewhere — and it’s not too far — along the line, the baby snake proves that even when it’s a baby it can kill you. Cuddle a baby rattler, and you’ll find out. It’s much the same with hatred of a group of people. Almost before you know it, you’ve tripped over into the dehumanizing concept of they-bring-it-on-themselves so saying-hateful-things-about-them and limiting-their-freedoms-is-reasonable-and-good.

The first serious victim of the poison of prejudice and discrimination is the purveyor of the prejudice, the practitioner of the discrimination. Once you believe it’s ok to hurt people just because, you’ve successfully chipped a bit of the gold-plate off your own goodness and let the cheap clay that’s inside come through.

You damage your own soul long before you begin to really damage the people you decide it’s ok to attack and hate.

I’ve said this a number of times, but the idea seems to float by some of the readers here without latching on and growing roots. Violent persecution is not the beginning of the process. It is the end result. It begins as the cute little snakey thingy of quips, mockery and derision that make up social practice.

I don’t know if it’s a refusal to see, or the concept really is difficult for some people. But life is not just a frozen section we call right now. It is a continuum. In fact, what we call right now is already past when we say the words.

Little hatreds grow into big prejudices, and big prejudices turn into discriminatory practices and laws, which turn into discrimination, which, over time, becomes persecution that leads to violence and ends, ultimately in genocide.

It really is almost like a row of dominoes falling over.

That’s why I find myself scratching my head and wondering “Are they for real?” every time I read a comment saying that, yes, there may be “some” violent persecution of Christians in “other places,” but in America, there is no such thing.

While it’s true enough that Christians are not jerked from their beds and drug into the streets to be beaten, raped and tortured here in America, it is also true that we are being subjected to overt pressure from our government and from social practice to restrict our beliefs to behind closed doors. It is true that what began just a few years ago as trendy criticism, some of which was even true, has, in some quarters, become nasty, Christian-baiting hatred that seeks to intimidate and isolate Christians.

We are faced with an increasing number of regulations and laws that seek to limit Christians in the free exercise of their Constitutional rights.

This is happening in America and in much of the rest of the Western world.

I am putting a brief video below about a street preacher in Britain who was arrested for saying that homosexuality is a sin. It doesn’t matter whether you agree with what he said or not, the question is, does he have the right to say it?  If the same restrictions had been placed on homosexuals a decade or so ago, they would not have been able to conduct their movement.

I would have been up in arms if anyone had arrested a gay activist for saying any of the many wacky things they’ve said down through the years, including when a queen in full drag sang “Your son will come out tomorrow” outside the National Democratic convention a few years ago. They’ve got a right to do this.

And so, if the West is going to continue to have free speech, does this preacher.

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Samuel Adams: Once Might be a Mistake. Four Times is a Pattern.

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Jim Koch, founder and chairman, Samuel Adams Beer

 

Kathy Schiffer wrote a post yesterday that moved Samuel Adams beer from a purveyor of too-politically correct advertising to dedicated Christian basher and misogynist. 

I wrote a couple of days ago about the Samuel Adams beer commercial in which the company aired an ad that conflated their beer with the Declaration of Independence and then paraphrased it to take the words “endowed by their Creator” out of this quote?

Once the not-so-surprising backlash began, Samuel Adams issued the meaningless comment (I wouldn’t call it an apology) that they were just following the guidelines of the beer manufacturer’s association. I assume that Samuel Adams beer is a member of this association and voted on these “guidelines” which hardly makes them binding. The comment is, as I said, meaningless. 

However Kathy moved the discussion to a whole new level by informing her readers of Samuel Adams’ past behavior. She is speaking of Samuel Adams’ company chairman, Jim Koch, when she says (emphasis mine):

It appears that Mr Koch made the usual lame comment when the public got angry. “We are not in control of the program,” he claimed, “and it was never our intent to part of a radio station promotion that cross the line.” In 2002, Boston Beer Company Chairman Jim Koch (pronounced “Cook”) was the so-called Grand Marshall of the “Sex for Sam” stunt, a radio contest on WNEW-FM in Manhattan.  Syndicated radio shock jocks Opie and Anthony staged a contest, challenging couples to engage in sexual activity in risky public places:  in taxis, in ATM vestibules, in the Disney Store and—wait for it!—in St. Patrick’s Cathedral.   Couples earned points (5, 10 or more) for each tryst in a public place.  The couple who succeeded in engaging in sexual intercourse in St. Patrick’s Cathedral were awarded 25 points for their effort.  The only way to earn more points was to engage in coitus at Koch’s feet—for which enterprising exhibitionist couples earned 30 points.

There are a few holes in the denial I put in italics. 

First, as Kathy points out:

Of course, this was the third time Koch’s company sponsored the “Sex for Sam” contest. And while acknowledging that his “presence on the show was a lapse in judgment, a serious mistake,” Koch has avoided describing just what he was doing in Opie and Anthony’s studio.

Along with handing out bottles of Sam Adams to contestants who stopped by the studio to take a break from having sex in cabs, ATM vestibules, and the Disney Store, Koch also served as the contest’s official “celebrity” voyeur. That meant if couples had sex in front of Koch, they were awarded 30 points (by comparison, sex in St. Patrick’s Cathedral was worth 25 points).

According to the audio clips you’ll find below, Koch watched as five couples attempted to obtain those 30 points (only two, um, succeeded). While Koch said he felt embarrassed for the three couples who failed to complete the act before him, he told Opie and Anthony that the competitors were, “awesome, all of ‘em, better teams. The quality gets better every year. (To read the rest go here.)

Second, he was advertising on and participating in the Opie and Anthony Show. Does anybody remember Opie and Anthony? They’re the sorry excuses for men who “interviewed” a “homeless” man and laughed approvingly and joked with him as he described in graphic terms how he wanted to rape and beat then Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice and also how he wanted to rape First Lady Laura Bush to death. I’ve heard a recording of this routine. I am not going to say more about it, because it makes me too angry. 

One ad might mean that the advertiser approved the campaign and was not aware of exactly what each specific ad had in it. Lame comments about following their own manufacturer’s association guidelines are admission that they knew, approved the ad, are not sorry and think we’re all stupid enough to buy their little comment as a reason. 

Stop making excuses

But four times is a pattern, especially when three of those times involved active participation by the company’s founder and chairman. It moves the question from political correctness carried to the point that we are now editing the Declaration of Independence (which is bad enough) to deliberate Christian and Catholic bashing. The kind of thing the company sponsored on Opie and Anthony puts them outside the line, or at least it does with me. The fact that they supported Opie and Anthony …. no words.

I believe that the “comedy” routine about the First Lady and Secretary of State came after Samuel Adams’ beer sponsored the Sex for Sam promotion. But it is in keeping with what the continuous message of the show. Opie and Anthony had one “joke:” degradation of women and overt misogyny. In my opinion, misogyny, including incitment to violence against, and in some cases such as the one concerning the First Lady, murder of women, for laughs was the Opie and Anthony show. 

Frankly, I don’t see how any decent human being would ever advertise on Opie and Anthony, based on their misogyny and support of violence and degradation of women. 

My advice to those who want a clean conscience: Lay your money down for a product that does not support Catholic bashing, Christian bashing, dehumanizing and degrading exhibitionist sex and does not buy advertising on shows that promote the rape, battering and murder of women. 

 

 

 

I Believe

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I taught my kids the Apostles Creed when they were little.

During the homeschooling years, we prayed the Apostles Creed after our daily Bible study every morning. We were Protestants at that time and I wanted to prepare them for the marketplace of ideas and ideologies that make up the wide world of many denominations. I told them that if a church did not believe what the Apostles Creed teaches, then it was not a true church and they should not join it.

If I was raising my kids today, I would have to take on a plethora of attacks on the Gospels, many of which are more subtle than simply denying the basic tenets of the faith that the Apostles Creed teaches. However, I think my original way of looking at the subject is still valid. A church — or a person, for that matter — who denies the basics contained in the creeds is missing the essentials of what constitutes Christian belief.

I view the Apostles Creed as the bedrock statement of the faith, the non-negotiable foundation on which everything else the Gospels teach is built.

What do you believe?

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Death. And What Comes After.

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Ascent of the Blessed, Heironymous Bosch, circa 1500

Death.

And what comes after.

Near death experiences happen to a lot of people. I know people who have been through near death experiences. I know that what these people say is the truth as they understand it.

What do these things mean? Well, first of all, the person did not die. They were near death, not dead. So, I think it’s safe to say that what they experienced was not death itself. At the same time, these are not just dreams or hallucinations as dreams and hallucinations usually are. There is a profound quality to what happened, and it fits with what also happens to the person afterward.

The near death experiences I know about that I feel secure in believing involve a good afterlife. However, this video contains the story of a Catholic priest who had to deal with the reality of judgement and hell. We will all stand before God one day and give an account of our lives. None of us will escape this. As the priest in the video says, the self-serving explanations we give ourselves for our actions here won’t avail us much on that day.

The video raises some of the most important questions any of us will ever have to answer. Give it a watch and see what you think.

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Tornado Recovery One Month In

I drive by the path of the May 20 tornado almost every day. Recovery is moving along, even though it is painful.

In the first days, people went back into the areas to sift the rubble in an attempt to salvage what they could. I went to the 7-11 with one of my sons late in the evening a couple of days after the storm and we spoke to a man who had lost his house. He had somehow managed to find his high school ring and a photo album. That, except for his life, was all he had left.

After the first attempts to salvage what could be salvaged, an army of volunteers, just ordinary people, went into the area to sift through and try to help. They found all sorts of things. They also began the clean-up process.

After that, the heavy equipment moved in. Day after day, I drove by to see equipment lifting huge piles of rubble to be taken away.

Now, a lot of the debris is gone. Once rebuilding starts, things will begin to look more normal again. I drive by the path of the 1999 May 3 tornado every day. There was nothing left where it went through; whole neighborhoods rubbelized. Within a year it was all rebuilt and there was no way to tell by looking that anything had happened there. It will be the same with this new damage.

But for now, here’s how it looks. I took these photos of a small part of the 17-mile trail of damage, with my cell phone while I was driving. I didn’t even look at what I was snapping. I just drove at normal speed, held the phone up and clicked.

The two big buildings whose metal underparts are sort of standing in photos 1, 2 and 3 were some kind of bigger business type buildings. I can’t recognize them now, and I don’t remember what they were. There is also one house in photo 3 that somehow remained standing. It’s a tear-down, but it didn’t come apart in the storm. All these buildings were at the edge of the storm. The buildings to the right in the second photo are the small strip mall. It wasn’t hit by the tornado, but the winds off it damaged the mall badly. I think most of it will have to be demolished. Notice that the trees are beginning to grow new leaves.

Photos 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 are of a densely populated neighborhood that was flattened. The last photo is coming to the edge of the tornado path.

It still looks bleak, but if you could compare it to what it was at first, you’d see that there’s been a lot of progress. Also, if I’d thought of taking photos of the hundreds of volunteers digging through the rubble to help people, those photos would show enormous love.

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Political Correctness and Editing Historic Documents

Does the code of your professional organization require you to change the wording on historic documents? How about the foundational document of our country? Does the code of your professional organization supersede that?

Samuel Adams Beer manufacturers are claiming that it does.

Their 4th of July commercial traded on the fact that their brand of beer carries the name Samuel Adams. Samuel Adams was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. The actor in the commercial is shown drawing a brewski while he recites a version of these words from the Declaration:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

The Samuel Adams version goes like this:

… all men are created equal. They are endowed with certain unalienable rights: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Aside from the overall cheesiness of conflating a beer with the Declaration of Independence, quite a few people are upset by the editing of the words themselves. Personally, I think that if you’re going to quote a document of the importance of the Declaration of Independence, you should quote it. This is a paraphrase of sorts, pretending to be a quote. However that is a minor quibble.

The reason the ad has drawn fire, so much fire that the beer manufacturers had to issue their flabby little explanation about how they were following their beer manufacturer’s guidelines, is what the paraphrase left out altogether.

If you compare the quote from the actual Declaration of Independence with the paraphrase used in the ad, it’s easy to spot. They left out the phrase “endowed by their Creator.”

There was a time when people would have shrugged this off. But in today’s world of politically correct censorship and overt bullying against people of religious faith, it struck a nerve, and it should have.

I am not a beer drinker. I can not stand the taste of the stuff. So it’s easy for me to say this. But, there are plenty of other brands of beer you can buy, some of them which may not be such slaves to the guidelines of their association. (Which, I would guess were voted on by the manufacturer members of the association.)

 

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We Always Knew. Now, It’s Official.

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Public Catholic readers are already beginning to comment on this bit of news.

The Vatican announced today that Pope Francis will canonize both Blessed John Paul II and Blessed John XXIII. As one reader commented, canonizing these two men together will “confuse the ideologues.” Hopefully, it will point these “ideologues” away from the false idols of their own personal ideologies and back to the person of Jesus Christ, who both Popes served with faithful courage.

For the rest of us, who are more concerned with just trying to live a Christian life in today’s hostile world, this announcement is a cause for joy. We always knew they were saints. Now, it’s official.

From Vatican Radio:

(Vatican Radio) Journalists in the Holy See Press Office busy getting to grips with Pope Francis’ first encyclical the Light of Faith, were somewhat surprised Friday lunchtime when Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. called them back for a second announcement: Pope Francis had approved the cause for canonization of two of his venerable and much loved predecessors Blessed John XXIII and Blessed Pope John Paul II. Emer McCarthy reports: 
Meeting with Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Cause of Saints, Friday morning, Pope Francis approved the promulgation of the decree and also convoked a special Consistory of the College of Cardinals to discuss the canonization of the Polish pope in depth.

Furthermore, he approved the favorable votes of the Ordinary Session of the Congregations Cardinals and Bishops regarding the raising to the altars of sainthood of Blessed John XXII.
This slightly unusual gesture was explained by Fr. Lombardi who told journalists that despite the absence of a second miracle it was the Pope’s will that the Sainthood of the great Pope of the Second Vatican Council be recognized.

Fr. Lombardi stated that a canonization without a second miracle is still valid, given that there is already the existing miracle that lead to the Roncalli Pope’s beatification. He also pointed to ongoing discussions among theologians and experts about whether it is necessary to have two distinct miracles for beatification and canonization. Certainly, he added the Pope has the power to dispense, in a Cause, with the second miracle.

However, there was no mention of dates. Neither for the Consistory nor for the Canonizations. Fr. Lombardi did not rule out that both celebrations could coincide, and he did express his belief that they would take place by the end of the year. Either way any date would be established during the Consistory.

Lumen Fidei: Pope Francis & Pope Emeritus Benedict Co-Author Encyclical

Pope Francis is a pope of firsts. His first encyclical, which was issued today, is no exception.

Lumen Fidei, the Light of Faith, is the first encyclical in history authored by two living popes. This is because Pope Benedict XVI began the encyclical before his resignation, and Pope Francis took it up and finished it.

A pope’s first encyclical is usually taken as a harbinger of the directions he will take with his papacy, in particular the areas of the Gospel he feels called to emphasize in light of the times in which he is living. However, this encyclical, coming as it does from the minds of two popes, is more of a bridge between the two papacies.

I haven’t had time to read it yet, so I won’t try to tell you what’s in it. You can read it yourself by going here. You can also download it to any device that will allow you to download pdfs.

I’m going to print out a hard copy. When I get the time later today, I’ll sit down and read it through. I may not comment until I’ve let that digest for a while.

For now I’ll just say that the Light of Faith is the only light we can walk by in this post Christian world of ours. As for me, I have decided that means I will trust the 2,000-year-old consistent teachings of the Catholic Church to be my lamp.

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Join the Discussions of the Year of Faith

Click here throughout the Year of Faith, as the Catholic Channel at Patheos.com invites Catholics of every age and stripe to share what they are gleaning and carrying away from this gift of timely focus.

Freedom Isn’t Just about Fireworks

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Today is the 5th of July and everyone in my family is back at work.

I asked my husband and sons why they weren’t taking today off and got explanations that amounted to one thing: Habit. They go to work. Every day.

It wasn’t until I got up this morning, and started … um … working … that I realized I’m just like them.

However, less habitual people all over this country are enjoying the second day of a four day weekend. It’s baseball, apple pie an hot dogs all around.

The questing arises: What are we celebrating? Is it freedom from the tyranny of foreign powers? Or is it freedom from the tyranny of our own government? When the signers put their names to the Declaration of Independence, they didn’t have an argument with the Czar of Russia who was trying to invade these shores. Their argument was with the government that had planted them here and that had governed them for over two-hundred years since.

They, every single one of them, was born under the English flag, had grown up under the rule of the English king, and had, until very recently, regarded themselves as English.

What changed? Distance and time had given them the freedom to think for themselves. They were inspired by the Gospels that taught that all human beings matter, that ever hair on our heads are numbered. This ethos of human dignity which began when the Son of God had chosen to be born in a stable rather than a palace had been the mustard seed of the Kingdom that was growing and expanding throughout the world.

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Thomas Paine

The times were right, of course. Political philosophers had moved on from the cynical practicality of The Prince to the cynical idealism of Common Sense. If you haven’t read these two documents, I encourage you to do so, and then to compare them. The change in outlook of a few hundred years and one ocean is striking.

There is a whole world of difference between “If an injury is done to a man, it should be so severe that his vengeance need not be considered,” and “Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom, must, like men, undergo the sufferings of supporting it.”

The difference between these two outlooks is the experience of living free. Distance from England and the rigors of the frontier had worked a kind of magic on these American colonists. They had learned the power of thinking for themselves. While no one would ever claim Thomas Paine as a devout Christian, he lived in a Christian society, breathed Christian air and was influenced deeply by the Christian call to the value of each individual human person.

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Machiavelli

Machiavelli, on the other hand, while an observant Christian, lived in a Christian world that was half-caught between the call to human dignity that the Gospels demanded and the entrenched and cynical society in which he lived. Despite living in a faith-filled world, he was unable to realize the true meaning of Christian faith, which is human freedom.

The question I have, is which direction are we going?

Does Thomas Paine’s statement:

“I have always strenuously supported the right of a man to his own opinion, however different that might be from mine.”

Or Machiavelli’s claim:

“Men are so simple of mind, and so much dominated by their immediate needs, that a deceitful man will always find plenty who are ready to be deceived.”

Reflect our current way of thinking and living?

Are our minds and hearts governed by the singing phrases of our founding documents, or have we sunk into a mire so deep that Machiavelli would abhor it?

Machiavelli was not nearly as Machiavellian as those who’ve never read him would lead you to believe. His treatise was common sense politics of his day and in many ways of any day, including ours. On the other hand, Thomas Paine was a young revolutionary with a young revolutionary’s hot-blooded fervor.

This country was birthed by thinkers who believed in the power of the individual to think for himself. But I wonder if it is not more and more being governed and educated by thinkers who have gone past Machiavelli and into some new dark realm of governance by means of lies and propaganda that was an impossibility in yesterday’s pre-tech times.

Thomas Paine said, “A body of men holding themselves accountable to nobody ought not to be trusted by anybody.”

I do him the honor of holding my own opinion, including disagreeing with quite a few of the things he said. However, in this, as with a lot of his thinking, Thomas Paine was exactly right.

 

From Sea to Shining Sea

 

Ray Charles

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Courage and The Declaration of Independence

I cannot imagine the gravity of the vote.

These men held destiny in their hands that day. When we connect the dots backwards, their action seems inevitable. But at the time, they were representatives of 13 separate and independent colonies, each with its own culture and government, set on the task of considering whether to try to unite in order to fight a war of independence against the country that most of them had always considered their own.

By voting yes and then putting their signatures on the document that we call the Declaration of Independence, they changed history. But none of this seemed certain, or even likely, on that hot July day when they took this vote.

They were setting themselves on a course of war, that, if lost, would result in the loss of life and property for each of them and their families and they would forever be branded traitors. This war would not be fought overseas. It would be fought among them, on their farms and in their cities. They would be the soldiers and their families and homes would be the battlefield.

They were taking on one of the great powers of the world with little more than determination and refusal to yield.

If they lost this war, the Declaration they signed would become their death warrant. It would also bring untold punishment and suffering onto their countrymen.

Courage is often foolish. It can be rash. I am sure that these men wondered if they were being both. The odds, after all, were against them, and the cost of failure extreme. But they took the step off the side of the cliff and signed.

The rest is history.

Happy Birthday America, Home of the Brave, Land of the Free.

Happy Birthday America, Land that I Love!

Red Skelton gave this Pledge of Allegiance on national television many years ago. It’s probably more valuable for us now than it was then. Watch it and ponder how great this country is. America is an experiment in government of, by and for the people.

What kind of America will we hand forward to our children and grandchildren? Each generation of Americans has the responsibility to protect and defend freedom. This does not always mean putting on a uniform and fighting for our country in war. It can, and it must, mean guarding our freedoms from those in our government here at home who would beguile us to give freedom away in exchange for false promises of security and wealth.

Freedom has a price, and that price is eternal vigilance against those who would destroy it.

Watch Mr Skelton’s moving rendition of the Pledge of Allegiance and ponder.

Happy Birthday America, Land that I love!

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The All-Time King-Daddy Firestarter of the Culture Wars and Texas

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They’re having a romping, stomping, Texas-sized fight down in Austin, all over efforts to pass a bill that would, among other things, ensure that abortion clinics abide by the same regulations as other out-patient surgical facilities. 

How fey. 

And how typical. 

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This is how Dr Kermit Gosnell came to be the monster that pro choice built. Fanatic nuts on the pro abortion side of the abortion debate will not abide any, and I mean any regulations of abortion clinics. 

Nothing brings out the crazies like abortion. It is the all-time king-daddy firestarter of the culture wars. If you want to be called every dehumanizing ugly name in the book, just have an opinion, either way, on the issue of abortion. 

Part of me is sooooo glad that it’s Texas, and not Oklahoma legislators who have their footsies in this fire. The other part of me would kind of like to get into the fight. I always hate these things, and I also always really get into them. I know. Makes me crazy. But if I wasn’t a little bit crazy, would I have voluntarily served what is now 18 years in public office? Gotta be something a little bit unusual about a person who would do that. 

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I wish my pro life brothers and sisters in Texas good luck and God speed. I hope they don’t get weak and run away from the fight. They need to stand strong and get the job done. 

In the meantime, I ran across this two-part video of a speech Gianna Jessen made in Australia. Ms Jessen is that rarest of all people; an abortion survivor who was not subsequently killed by the abortion doc. 

I think we need to hear what she has to say to refocus ourselves on what is at stake when we talk about abortion. 

 Gianna Jessen, Part 1

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Gianna Jessen, Part 2

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For more information on the doings in Austin, check out The Deacon’s Bench by Deacon Greg Kandra. 

He Didn’t Make a Mistake. He Lied. And the Senate He Lied to Was In On It.

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Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, says he “made a mistake” when he said “No sir. Not wittingly.”

He’s sent a letter to Senator Dianne Feinstein apologizing for his “mistake.”

The question that prompted this “mistake” was one in which Mr Clapper was asked if his agency collects “any type of data on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.”

His answer, which he gave under oath, was “No sir. Not wittingly.”

Enter Edward Snowden, the man who the press and Congress have labeled public enemy number one, and who our government is using every bit of its international muscle to chase down and put on trial. No country will give Mr Snowden asylum. After all, who wants to mess with America?

What was Edward Snowden’s crime? He proved, rather convincingly, that the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, dead, flat lied to Congress when he said that his agency did not have “millions or hundreds of millions of Americans” under surveillance.

In truth, the lying Mr Clapper had just about the entire nation under the “information gathering” gun.

I don’t believe that Mr Clapper “made a mistake” when he said this. I don’t believe that he forgot that he was engaging in the most massive violation of the civil rights of the America people in the history of this nation. It is already a matter of fact that the President of the United States had informed our “duly elected officials” about what was going on. That means that Senator Feinstein knew Mr Clapper was lying. The President knew he was lying. The Speaker of the House knew he was lying.

When their silence let his lie stand, they were lying, too.

Here’s the Fourth Amendment. Read it and weep:

AMENDMENT IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

From Newsmax:

Clapper Apologizes for ‘Clearly Erroneous’ Statement to Congress

Image: Clapper Apologizes for 'Clearly Erroneous' Statement to Congress

 

Tuesday, 02 Jul 2013 10:57 PM

By Greg Richter

 
 
Under fire for telling Congress his agency did not gather intelligence on millions of Americans, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper apologized for what he called a “clearly erroneous” statement.Clapper apologized in a letter to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. The letter was dated June 21, but was released to the public on Tuesday.

In it, Clapper says he has “thought long and hard” to recreate what was going on in his mind when he responded to a question from Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., asking whether Clapper’s agency collects “any type of data at all on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.”

“No sir,” Clapper answered at the March 12 hearing. “Not wittingly.”

That was proved to be false when former NSA contract employee Edward Snowden leaked classified information on the PRISM program, which collects electronic communications, including email. Another leak showed that the NSA collects metadata from phone calls showing times and duration of calls as well as the other number involved in the call.

Read Latest Breaking News from Newsmax.com http://www.newsmax.com/newswidget/clapper-congress-statement/2013/07/02/id/513137?promo_code=EB8D-1&utm_source=National_Review&utm_medium=nmwidget&utm_campaign=widgetphase1#ixzz2XzXrrVk3 Urgent: Should Obamacare Be Repealed? Vote Here Now!

Courage and the Faithful Homosexual Catholic

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Jesus is a love story. It begins with His love for us, and then, as we accept Him as our Savior and begin to become conformed to His teaching, it is also about our love for Him.

Conversion begins by falling in love with Christ. Like all love stories, it’s unalloyed joy at the beginning. Jesus is gentle with those who are babes in Him. He gives a lot and doesn’t ask much. But as time goes on, the Holy Spirit leads us to a deepened awareness of our own sinfulness. We realize that we have to change.

Early in our Christian life, conversion may mean giving up some cherished little sins. It does mean backing off from the sins that were eating at us and that drove us to our knees in the first place. But there are other sins that we have either hidden from ourselves or just won’t see. Legal abortion was one of those sins for me. 

I came to Christ deeply repentant over something I had done. But I had neither shame nor guilt about my years advocating for legal abortion. I thought that was a positive good, a way of saving women’s lives. No one could have been more convinced of their pro choice convictions than I was. 

The interesting thing is that God didn’t confront me with this at first. It took about a year and a half before that inner voice that is the Holy Spirit began to say, “This is wrong, and you’ve got to change.”

It wasn’t easy. In fact, it was so difficult that I made a mess of it. I tried, against all reason, to hang on to the relationships and the people I had been close to in my pro choice life. I dipped and dodged, stuttered and hid, trying to be two people at once. 

I spent tortured hours wondering about all the questions that people raise on this blog: What about rape victims? What about women with severe diabetes or who are undergoing cancer treatment? 

It was tough, miserable and painful. I would not have made the transition so fully if God had not pushed me. 

I write this to tell you why I have such sympathy for gay people who experience the same longing for the Divine that everyone else does. “You have made us for yourself, Oh Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you,” St Augustine said.

God calls homosexuals to Himself, just as He does all people. He uses them as priests and laypeople throughout His Church. 

In this day and age, when so many of their friends attack the Church because it refuses to bend on matters of human sexuality, Catholic gay people often find themselves in situations similar to the one I encountered when God asked me to step out and proclaim that abortion killed a living a child. 

They will lose the people they love if they go forward in a Church so many of their friends think of as the enemy. They will be challenged if they try to follow the Church’s teaching that they are called to celibate lives.

This is a hard teaching, a difficult way of living. Those who follow it with integrity of purpose are doing something heroic for Christ. Make no mistake about it: Faithful gay people who eschew the wide road of gay culture to pick up their cross and follow the narrow road of faithful Christian living are earning stars in their eternal crowns. Their reward will be great.

The Catholic Church is almost unique in that it does not condemn or revile gay people. At the same time, it does not re-write 2,000 years of Christian teaching to suit the demands of the gay rights movement. So many Churches fall into one error or the other regarding homosexuality. But the Catholic Church hews to the straight line of loving and empowering gay people, while refusing to tell them that sinful behavior is ok.

“The Church finds herself in the unhappy situation of having to say ‘no’ to things she knows are contrary to the human good,” Father Paul Check says. 

The Church is charged with the care of their immortal souls. As such, it can do no less. It would be clerical malpractice of the worst sort to do anything other than tell people the truth about their sinful state. 

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All people, including homosexual people, need the support and comfort of human contact. We all need community, and those of us who are wounded in various ways need the community of people who are like us. Gay people need the friendships of other gay people. Christians need the friendship of other Christians.

Do you see where I’m going with this? It follows, doesn’t it, that gay Christians need the friendship and fellowship of other gay Christians. Courage, the well-named organization for Catholics who experience same-sex attraction, provides ministries, as well as opportunities to build social relationships for gay Catholics. 

Courage will hold the 2013 Courage/Encourage Conference Thursday, July 25 – 28, at the University of Mary of the Lake, Munelein, IL. Cardinal Francis George will be the main celebrant for mass on Friday, July 26, at 11:30 am. Bishop John M. LeVoir will also celebrate mass. 

According to Father Check, who is the national Director of Courage, the conference will feature workshops, personal testimonies, and opportunities for confession and Eucharistic adoration. 

If there is not a Courage affiliate in your diocese, it might be a good idea to work toward starting one. For more information about the conference, go here

 

Now Isn’t That Just Special

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Kathy Shiffer, who blogs at Seasons of Grace, published a letter to the American people from Edward Snowden in Edward Snowden, Reluctant Refugee, Pens an Open Letter.  

It turns out that Mr Snowden is living in an airport terminal in Russia. That’s a hard life. But it probably protects him from one of the fears that Ron Paul voiced.

“I’m worried that somebody in our government might kill him with cruise missile or a drone missile,” Dr Paul has said.

So long as Mr Snowden keeps his residence inside a Russian airport terminal, he’s probably protected from American missiles. Such an attack on a Russian airport might have consequences.

This comment from New American gives a feel for the incredibly bi-partisan nature of the carrying on against Edward Snowden:

The Obama administration is considering charging confessed NSA-surveillance leaker Edward Snowden with illegally passing classified documents. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) called Snowden a “traitor.” Senator Dianne Feinstein (R-Calif.) said the 29-year old whistleblower is guilty of “treason.” And, inveterate warmonger Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) tweeted, “I view Mr. Snowden’s actions not as one of patriotism but potentially a felony.” Adding, “I hope we follow Mr. Snowden to the ends of the earth to bring him to justice.”

As my gay friends would say, isn’t that just special?

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We have Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner and Senator Dianne Feinstein, together at last. They can’t agree on anything that would move this country forward, but they do agree that telling the American people that the government has put all of us under surveillance makes a man a “traitor,” and “guilty of treason.”

Why? Why would they stop their hate-off against one another long enough to get together in a new hate-off directed at this 26-year-old? Maybe it’s because they signed off on putting the American people under surveillance. Edward Snowden didn’t “betray” the American people. They did. Edward Snowden just let the rest of us know about it.

Mr Snowden has this to say in his letter:

In the end the Obama administration is not afraid of whistleblowers like me, Bradley Manning or Thomas Drake. We are stateless, imprisoned, or powerless. No, the Obama administration is afraid of you. It is afraid of an informed, angry public demanding the constitutional government it was promised — and it should be.

To read the rest, go here.

 


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