The Skunk Stinks.

Desert Wolf Skunk 400x300

The Skunk. Photo Source: defenceweb

Who needs this?

Who is it going to be used against?

Those are the questions that the Skunk brings to mind. I’m not talking about a beautiful little animal with that possesses a massive olfactory defense system. I am talking about a drone that possesses a massive offense system, and that has been developed and is being marketed for use against civilians by corporations.

The Skunk is, as I said, a drone that is designed for what is euphemistically being called “riot control.” It possesses the ability to monitor people and then fire pepper spray and rubber bullets at them. What no one mentions is that a drone that can fire pepper spray and rubber bullets can also fire any other type of spray as well as bullets made of lead.

It turns out that the corporatist interests in South Africa plan to put the aptly named Skunk to work, protecting their mines. The first 25 Skunks will be delivered to the African mining industry this month. It was developed by a South African company named Desert Wolf.

If all this sounds like a comic book to you, I’m with you. This company is seriously named Desert Wolf???

And they developed a weapon to be used by corporations to protect their interests called the Skunk???

It would be funny, except there’s nothing funny about the potential of the Skunk. It is a drone designed to monitor and attack civilians and it is being marketed to corporations in troubled parts of the world for their private use. Frankly, this device does not belong in civilian hands. It certainly does not belong in the hands of corporatist interests. I’ve had enough dealings with corporatists in the political arena to be convinced that respect for human life, human dignity or just plain human beings is not in them.

They’d kill grandma for a quarter and claim it was free enterprise and capitalism. Then, they’d call grandma’s relatives who objected a bunch of radicals and commies.

Corporatists are down there in the moral swamp with abortionists and human traffickers. They give a whole new dimension to the word “amoral.”

The idea of corporatists with fully armed Skunks and free reign to use them is chilling.

From The Blaze:

Los Angeles hockey fans proved last week that even the friendliest of drones can get a nasty reception from rowdy crowds. But the booze-fueled celebrants may have reacted even more violently if they encountered this drone.

The Skunk is billed as the first riot-control drone: It fires pepper spray, rubber bullets and dye-balls at protesters; blinds them with strobes; and broadcasts audible warnings, all while keeping its all-seeing eye trained on the crowd and recording their actions.

The octocopter is a product of the South African company Desert Wolf. Armed with four paintball guns and ammunition hoppers, it can fire a variety of ammunition to subdue or disperse unruly crowds, or simply mark certain people in the group.

The Skunk is designed to control crowds without endangering the lives of security staff. Bright strobe lights, on-board speakers and “blinding lasers,” the company boasts, enable operators to communicate with and warn the crowd.

But if they don’t respond, look out.

“The Skunk is equipped with four high-capacity paint ball barrels firing at up to 20 bullets per second each, with 80 pepper bullets per second stopping any crowd in its tracks,” Desert Wolf says on its site. “The current hopper capacity of 4000 bullets and high-pressure carbon fiber air system it allows for real stopping power.”

According to Defence Web, payload capacity of the unmanned aerial vehicle is roughly 88 pounds but since the gun assembly weighs just over 30 pounds, the aircraft has an excess of power. And Desert Wolf has found its first customer for the intimidating machine: South African mine owners, hoping to control crowds of workers.

Evangelii Gaudium Cliff Notes Part 2: The Beam in My Eye

And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye. 

Jesus Christ

Pope Francis is calling all of us to take up what Protestants call the Great Commission.

That is the direct command from Our Lord to Go and make disciples of all nations. The Holy Father is teaching in exactly the same way Jesus taught by advising us to cleanse ourselves of our own sins before we head off diagnosing the sins of other people.

This is an call to evangelize the world, but like the good pastor that he is, Pope Francis calls us first to evangelize our own hearts through genuine conversion to Christ. Evangelii Gaudium is a convicting document. If you read it with an honest and open heart, it will convict you of the need to change your ways.

No one is more prey to the error of condemning others while wrapping themselves in a cloak of self-righteousness than politicians and bloggers. It is an occupational hazard.

Since I am a politician blogger, I get a double dose of the temptation to become a bargain-basement Pharisee. Blogging at the intersection of faith and politics is a location fraught with all sorts of annoyances and frustrations. It’s easy to lose track of the love and desire to do good that brought me here in the first place.

Evanglii Gaudium reminded me that the joy of Gospel, the freedom of the Gospel, the absolute certainty that everything I do matters to God, belongs to me. It is a free gift from a God Who loves me so much that He was willing to suffer the extremities of humiliation, public torture and a hideous death to give it to me.

When I focus on protecting my petty little sins, I toss those joys to the ground and turn to the bitterness and alienation of the lost people I claim I want to help.

That, in the final analysis, is the price for clinging to your precious little sins: Anger, bitterness, self-righteousness. The fruits of the Spirit, which are love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control, are all lost to us and replaced by an angry obsession with what is wrong with other people.

As those of us in the West move more deeply into a post-Christian world, we are going to find that the only thing that sustains us is the Spirit, and that our call to follow Christ will either be sustained by these gifts of the Spirit, or it will fail.

The second chapter of Evangelii Gaudium is a call to personal housecleaning. It is a diagnosis of how we have cast ourselves out of the garden all over again by biting into the bitter fruit of our own cherished sins.

Since Evangelii Gaudium is a call to the whole Church to evangelize the whole world, it focuses its diagnosis of sin on the corporate sins we commit against one another as part of groups. The Pope doesn’t go over the obvious. He doesn’t remind us of what we should very well know: That when we live our lives built on the cheats of greed, lies of adultery and the brutality of murder we are not God’s people and if we do not repent, we will not go to heaven.

He focuses instead on what the political power brokers and money changers of our times don’t want us to see. That is the vast corporate and social ways in which we commit these same private sins and the enormous price in human suffering that this behavior exacts on so many of the 7 billion people living on this planet today.

A few paragraphs in this second chapter of Evangelii Gaudium have raised the ire of the corporatist apologizers in the media. Most of this particular group has spoken out against abortion down through the years, along with gay marriage. They have not been so eager to condemn other forms of killing, ranging from embryonic stem cell research to wars of conquest, and, as has been revealed from time to time, many of them do not practice a private sexual morality that matches their public statements.

This has confused many good Christians who’ve been taught — by fallen clergy and these same corporatist apologizers — that economics is entirely outside the reach of the Gospels. They have exempted themselves from the piercing eye of Gospel teachings in matters of money, and a lot of good Christians have bought this deal because these same people condemn abortion.

But the same Jesus Who taught that every life is valuable to God sent the young rich man away and said, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.

It was Christ the Lord who drove the money changers out of the temple.

I would imagine that what some of these people are saying about Pope Francis would look mild and mannerly compared to what they might say about Our Lord.

Pope Francis is asking us to stop putting fetters on the Gospel and accept it in all its demanding power. He is asking us to throw off our chains of political fealty and approval seeking and step out on the ice and live the teachings of Christ as the transforming, Kingdom building powerhouse that they are.

Part of this is his condemnation of what he calls “the new idolatry of money.” The pope calls us directly and explicitly to work for economic systems that are based on the good of human beings.

Despite the media focus on these few paragraphs, they are a small part of the message of Evangelii Gaudium, and economic sins are just a few of the things the pope addresses.

He speaks eloquently about the challenges Christians face concerning Christian persecution (emphasis mine):

We also evangelize when we attempt to confront … the attacks on religious freedom and new persecutions directed against Christians; in some countries these have reached alarming levels of hatred and violence. In many places, the problem is more that of widespread indifference and relativism, linked to disillusionment and the crisis of ideology which has come about as a reaction to anything which might appear totalitarian.

The process of secularization tends to reduce the faith and the Church to the sphere of the private and personal … completely rejecting the transcendent. It has produced a growing deterioration of ethics, a weakening of the sense of personal and collective sin and a steady increase in relativism.

… As the bishops of the United States of America have rightfully point out, while the Church insists on the existence of objective moral norms which are valid of everyone, “there are those in our culture who portray these teachings as unjust, that is, as opposed to basic human rights … the Church is perceived as promoting a particular prejudice and as interfering with individual freedom.”

the negative aspect of the media and entertainment industries are threatening traditional values, and in particular the sacredness of marriage and the stability of the family.

Evangelii Gaudium takes an uncompromising position in support of the sanctity of marriage.

The family is experiencing a profound cultural crisis, as are all communities and social bonds. The family … is the fundamental cell of society. Marriage now tends to be viewed as a form of mere emotional satisfaction that can be constructed in any way or modified at will.

There is much more in this second chapter of Evangelii Gaudium. But I hope that you are getting the message. The document itself is a call to evangelize the world. The much-picked-over paragraphs about money are a small part of the message of the second chapter of the document.

The second chapter deals with the areas where we need to give ourselves, both as individuals and as a Church, a spiritual house cleaning. Money is a part of this. If economics have no moral requirements, then Jesus Christ Himself was a fraud, because that is certainly not what He taught.

People who attack the Pope for saying what has been Church teaching for two-thousand years and who try to subvert him when he challenges us to give up our greed and venality about money, are attacking the Gospels themselves.

But the primary injustice they are committing by focusing on these few paragraphs is that they are depriving the people of God of the convicting power of this document. If all you know about Evangelii Gaudium is what you’ve read in the press, then you know nothing about it all.

Evangelii Gaudium is a treatise on the New Evanglization. The second chapter of Evangelii Gaudium is a treatise on some of our most glaring social and personal sins. The Holy Father focused this second chapter on the sins that, as he says, damage or even destroy the ability of the Church and individual Christians to effectively evangelize the world.

He is calling us to reclaim for ourselves the joy of the Gospel by yielding up all our precious sins to the teaching, transforming power of the Gospels. He is calling us to conversion, to walk the walk of our Christian faith in the real world.

Powerful people hated this message two-thousand years ago. Powerful people hate it today.

Part of our job as Christians is to ignore them and follow our Christ. The teachings in Evanglii Gaudium help us do that.

 

 

To read part one in this series, go here.

 

My Take — Not Pope Francis’ — On a Christian Approach to Economics and Government

I’ve been the voice of a large number of people in government for 18 years.

During those years, I have voted many times on economic issues. I have a couple of beliefs about government that inform those votes — as well as the others I cast.

1. I am the voice of the people I represent. I must put their interests ahead of all others. At the same time, I feel that their interests are always best served by a just and stable government, because

2. A just and stable government is always the greater good. Look around the world and you will see the human suffering and death the comes from unjust and unstable governments. My constituents deserve a representative who works toward a just and stable government, because that one thing will predicate for better lives for them, all by itself.

3. Government should serve the people, not itself and not special interests. Most elected officials today are beamed into office on a beam of special interest money. These elected officials, represent the special interests who paid for their elections and put them in office. Even though this is legal, it is corrupt. It is also diametrically opposed to the premise I stated: Government is meant to serve the people, not special interests.

These are the parameters I use to decide how I vote. I have a master’s degree in business management, which means that while I am not deeply educated in economics, I do have a passing acquaintance with how economics works in real life. Despite that, I do not place any economic theory at the head of my list in how I vote on issues, including economic issues.

The reason for this is that I consider all economic theories to be tools that are useful so long as they work for the good of the people. They are not a holy grail and they should never be put ahead of the greater good of a just and stable government.

I also believe that Capitalism, as well as all other economic systems, is amoral. Not, notice, immoral. It is an economic system, not a moral system. As such, it stands behind the Gospels and the teachings of the Church in my considerations. I don’t judge the Gospels or the teachings of the Catholic Church by economic theories. I judge economic theories by the Gospels and the teachings of the Catholic Church.

That leaves a lot of room for individual ideas and understanding about economic issues. The teachings of the Church are not a 1, 2, 3 blueprint that we must follow as we craft our solutions to the economic problems that beset us. They are rules about what we should place first in our considerations. The teachings of the Church tell us how to get to heaven.  Their first rule about economics is that if we want to go to heaven we should put the good of people, of human beings who are made in the image and likeness of God, in first place.

That will not lead us to the same conclusions. On the contrary, it opens the way for fruitful discussion and creative thinking. Two good people who are both committed to Christ and who both are trying their best to do the right thing can look at the same situation and come up with diametrically opposed ways of dealing with it. That does not make either one of them wrong. It also does not make either one of them evil. It makes both of them human.

I believe that the best solutions in government and in life come about when we remember this and listen to one another respectfully and try to find a middle way between our competing ideas. I can change my mind, and if you can change your mind, we can learn from one another and come up with solutions that are far better than either one of us would find on our own.

The thing that is lacking in our current debate on almost every issue, including economics, is a mutual commitment to the common good rather than the good of whatever viewpoint or special interest we are espousing. The thing that is lacking in the economic theorizing of some Christians is a proper reverence for Jesus Christ as Our Lord.

There are Christians, both on the left and the right, who have left the Gospels and made a false god of this or that economic theory. Instead of judging their economic ideas by the Gospel, they are judging the Gospel by their economic theory. Many of them (again, on both the left and the right) have cherry-picked the Scriptures to find verses and admonitions which they then use to deify their ideas. This is idolatry. It is also heresy.

Put Jesus back on the throne and look at your politics as one way you live out your call to follow Him. Do the same with your ideas about economics. If people would do that, we’d find solutions to all our problems and get this nation back on track. If they don’t, we are going to continue our spiral down.

To get back to me, if you look at my votes, I think you will see that I am basically an Oklahoma populist in matters of economics.

I believe that capitalism is the best economic system people have come up with so far. However, I don’t think that capitalism, as some people who get worked up about it see it, exists outside of a few on-line chat rooms and the definitions of economic systems in intellectually shallow textbooks. It’s a bit like absolute vacuum; a good working construct that does not exist outside of theory.

Capitalism as it is practiced in America — and in any working government that I know of — is a hodgepodge of competing interests, each of which is trying to use the government to gain an advantage over their competitors. I think that most people believe that legislative bodies spend their days debating great questions of human life such as abortion or gay marriage or some such.

What we do in real life is spend most of our time passing laws for business interests that allow them to gain an advantage over their competitors. Almost all the “pro business” legislation that I have seen in the past 18 years was of this type. Likewise, the tax cuts that I have voted against in the past few years were all weighted to give tax cuts to the people at the top of the column and not those at the bottom.

I would have voted for most of these bills if the people I represent had actually gotten a tax cut from them. However, they did not. That has been true of tax cuts at the federal level, as well.

How does that jibe with my idea that a just and stable government is always the greater good? First of all, tax cuts that only favor those at the top are unjust by definition. I also do not believe that they are good economics.

There are a couple of economic theories, both of which are capitalist in origin, about how to generate growth in an economy with tax cuts. One, which I do not subscribe to, is that if you enrich the small segment at the top of the economic ladder, their wealth will “trickle down” to those below. (I am aware that the trickle down theory applies to far more than tax cuts.) The other is that if you put money in the pockets of those in the working and middle classes, they will buy more goods and generate growth through their purchasing power.

I am personally persuaded that, in terms of economic growth and taxes, many people at the bottom end of the working class have become so close to subsistence level that they place any extra monies on survival items such as getting their utilities current or fixing the broken window in their car.

What I am saying, (and this is a frightening prospect in economic terms) is that a large section of the working class of our economy, who are gainfully employed, many times working several jobs, is verging on being unable to generate growth of the larger economy because they are too poor. That, in itself, is an indictment of our economic policies of the past few decades.

So far as generating economic growth with tax cuts is concerned, my personal feeling is that the most economic stimulus will come if the tax cut benefits the people in the middle class and the upper working class. Sad to say, the lower working class is verging toward the unemployed in that they need assistance to survive and as such don’t generate much growth with their purchasing power.

Given all that, I guess you could say that I am a bit of a trickle up person in my economic beliefs.

This goes back to my ideas about a Christian approach to economics. It also broadens the discussion beyond the question of tax cuts. I think that a Christian approach to economics has to be based on the same premise as the one I use to make decisions about the sanctity of human life. Those decisions are based on the idea that people are more important than any other consideration.

Government exists for people. Economics exists for people.

Government and economics (you cannot have modern economics without government) exist to serve the people. As such, a respect for the rights of private property is a basic delimiter of good government. People need and want their own things about them. They need homes that are theirs and a place in the world that belongs to them.

The means of making a living, be that a computer, a car, a sewing machine or an 18-wheeler, are a form of private property that people should also have. When those means become factories and patents and vast corporate enterprises, the same rules of private property that apply to individuals also apply to them.

But when this basic right to private property becomes a means of depriving vast numbers of people of their own homes and their own ability to make a living, then it has to be moderated by regulation and tax structures that provide a hope and a future to everyone. I am not talking about attacking capitalism. I am talking about a more level playing field that allows everyone to be a capitalist.

Capitalism, when it becomes a vast corporate hegemony that is linked to the power of government that works at its behest, is no longer capitalism. It is fascism. Look it up in your economics 101 text book.

Capitalism that has morphed into corporate fascism, which is the wedding of government and corporate power so that government no longer serves the people, must be dealt with as the unhealthy thing that it is. There is no place in a just and stable government for corporate fascism.

This has nothing to do with free markets or the right to private property. It is the antithesis of them, since it concentrates the entire mechanism for earning a living and all the wealth of a society, as well as the power of government, in a few hands.

I think government should serve the people. I think that a just and stable government is always the greater good.

Corporate fascism, or as Popes Benedict XVI and John Paul II called it, “corporatism,” does not do these things. It serves the corporations and it tends toward instability in government. It is unjust by definition.

These are the parameters I use for trying to apply economics in a Christian way. I am writing this so that those of you who feel so strongly about these issues can tear into me, instead of the Pope. I can’t abide people attacking Pope Francis on this blog. But you can go at me and it doesn’t upset me so much.

Have at it friends.

Pope Francis Discusses the Dignity of Work

In one of his morning homilies a few months ago, Pope Francis talked about societies that put company profits above human dignity, or even human life. “What point have we come to?” he asked.

This kind of talk disturbs cafeteria Christians on the right, just as the Church’s insistence on the fundamental right to life of all human beings and the sanctity of Holy Matrimony disturbs cafeteria Christians on the left.

Each “side” of the culture wars wants the Holy Father to affirm them and their half-Gospel as righteousness so that they can use what would amount to an amputated, phony Jesus to score “gotcha!” points off those on the other side of the various political debates.

But Pope Francis is the Vicar of Christ, not the apologist for the false idols of various religious/political heresies.

Jesus was a worker. A carpenter. By doing that, He elevated work far above the animalistic fight for survival that those in power often try to make it into for working people.

Human beings are made in the image and likeness of Almighty God. As such, we each have a transcendent dignity that extends beyond this life and into eternity. The things we do here, including the work of our heads, hands and hearts, is an expression of that innate, God-given dignity.

All people are entitled to the privileges of owning private property and to have the labor of their lives respected. Part of that respect is a living wage and decent working conditions. When these values are compromised by a moneyed few who mis-use the powers of government to seize the treasure of a nation to satisfy their personal rapaciousness, then those who govern must oppose those actions.

Elected officials who do otherwise may profess Christ with their mouths, but they deny Him by what they do.

YouTube Preview Image

Stop Slogan-Voting. Stop Hate-Voting. Stop Being Manipulated. Part 5. Women’s Health = Slogan Voting

I am a Jesus-loving, Catechism-following, pro-life feminist. 

It appears that by simply being my own contrary self, I have done something most people regard as impossible. I have brought the polar opposites of our cultural divide together.

The polar righties see pro-life feminists in much the same way bumper stickers describe pro-choice Catholics: as Vegans for Meat. The polar lefties agree with them. To polar lefties, feminism is abortion. In their myopic view, abortion equals human rights for women in an exact and all-encompassing equation that admits no exceptions.

I am a feminist, and I am pro-life. I believe what my Church teaches. I love God and Jesus and I have yet to find anything in that which requires me to hate myself because I was born female.

It would follow that I must, by definition, be in favor of “Women’s Health.” What kind of feminist would not favor women’s health? In fact, what kind of Christian would oppose women’s health?

The truth is, I do favor women’s health care. It took me two years to pass a bill requiring insurance companies to cover pap smears for women. I spent five years passing another bill to make it a crime to beat up a pregnant woman. I got yelled at by members of both parties for advocating prenatal care for illegal immigrants.

I could go on. And on.

However, none of these things qualifies as “Women’s Health” according to those who have taken this noble concern and co-opted it for their own purposes. I believe their misuse of the term is deliberate.

It took decades for “I Vote Pro Life” to become just another way for party power brokers to encourage blind allegiance to a political party, even when that party killed pro-life legislation. Most pro-life people side-stepped into it because they felt morally blackmailed; unable to see any alternative. I think that the people who push for “Women’s Health” knew what they were doing from the get-go and actively chose it.

“Women’s Health,” as they use the phrase, never meant women’s health. It never pretended except in the most obvious we-don’t-care-if-you-see-what-we’re-doing way to be anything more than what it is: A synonym for abortion on demand and a funding slogan for Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood has become one of the most avaricious of the big-money Welfare Queens. Any attempt to reduce funding for Planned Parenthood is met with wild and inaccurate claims that these moves are, in fact, an attack on women and “Women’s Health.”

This article from Huffington Post is an example. It describes a vote in the United States House of Representatives to cut funding for Planned Parenthood. Rhetoric similar to this is routinely used against those who try to de-fund Planned Parenthood. It says in part:

House Republicans voted on Friday to strip federal funding from Planned Parenthood, cutting money for contraceptives, HIV tests, cancer screenings and reproductive health services as part of an attempt to weaken the abortion provider. Planned Parenthood does not currently spend federal money on abortion services.

… In a statement, Planned Parenthood called the amendment “radically out of step with mainstream American values” and called on the Senate to restore their subsidies “Ensuring that millions of women can obtain health care from their trusted provider … (emphasis added)

I will write other posts talking about whether or not I think the claims concerning Planned Parenthood’s services are accurate. The point here is that the article equates government funding for Planned Parenthood with preserving “Women’s Health,” and that it implies that the only possible way that the government can make contraception, cancer screening and HIV tests available to the public is by funding Planned Parenthood. I believe that both these claims are untrue on their face.

“Women’s Health” as a slogan rather than a concern for actual women’s health took a major step forward with the Affordable Health Care Act (i.e., Obamacare) and the HHS Mandate attacking religious freedom that came from it.

In my opinion, the Affordable Health Care Act could be re-named the Planned Parenthood Government Dole Act. The only flaw in that name is that the word dole brings to mind the caricature of a welfare recipient; someone living in government housing, watching tv all day and eating junk food. Planned Parenthood, on the other hand, is a powerful organization whose board members are usually drawn from among the most wealthy and powerful members of our communities. The “dole” that it’s on amounts to 100s of millions of dollars, all flowing into coffers that are linked to abortion on demand.

The Affordable Health Care Act provides funding for Planned Parenthood in many ways. One of the most lucrative for the organization will almost certainly be the provision for grants of government monies to “health care providers,” including grants for health care education. I believe it is inevitable that this will funnel hundreds of millions of tax-payer dollars into Planned Parenthood coffers. This greed for more and more government money on the part of Planned Parenthood appears to be one of the driving forces behind the HHS Mandate.

Many people do not understand that the HHS Mandate which attacks our religious freedom in this country is not a law. It was not passed by any legislative body. I do not believe that a majority of elected officials in any legislative body in this country could have been persuaded to vote for this mandate.

The HHS Mandate is an agency rule which was promulgated by the members of a committee of the Health and Human Services Department. The members of this committee were appointed, not elected, and as such were not answerable to the people of this country. Many of the members of the Health and Human Services committee that gave us the HHS Mandate are supporters of Planned Parenthood. It is, as most things in politics ultimately are, about money.

If this mandate succeeds in forcing the Catholic Church to close its hospitals, universities and social welfare clinics, that will inevitably lead to a huge rise in “need” for money-hungry organizations to target and then demand funds for. It is standard practice for corporate welfare queens to go to legislative bodies and demand “reforms” that will force their small business competitors to shut down. I view this mandate as something akin to that. The only snag in the plan is the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America.

As usual, the organizations and the politicians who are backing the HHS Mandate claim that all they care about is “women’s health.” How shutting down hospitals, forcing the closure of many of our finest institutions of higher learning and closing the doors to social welfare agencies who aid women will accomplish this, they do not say. After all, in their narrow lexicon, “Women’s Health” is Planned Parenthood, and little else.

Planned Parenthood and their allies in the media and politics have so warped the issue of women’s health that they have cast the debate entirely around what is good for Planned Parenthood. Anything that is deemed bad for Planned Parenthood is immediately characterized as an “attack on Women’s Health.” In fact, in the current presidential election, this has been broadened to mean that anything that is bad for Planned Parenthood or that even disagrees with one of their objectives, is part of a “War on Women.”

I am not a Republican. I emphatically do not agree with the way that the Republican Party has sold out to corporate interests. In fact, I think Republican corporatism is a danger to our Republic. But I think the so-called “War on Women” is a bogus accusation. I am starting my 17th year as a pro-woman legislator and I can tell you that both parties are indifferent to women’s concerns. However, if anybody is waging war on women, it’s the group of people who have decided that anything that is done to women in the name of funding for Planned Parenthood and the preservation of the “right to choose” is, in fact, “women’s rights.”

When you have people who claim that they own the whole question of “women’s health” but who don’t report sexual abuse and rape of minor children or human trafficking, you know you are dealing with a callous and deliberate lie. When you see people who won’t “judge” attempts to buy an abortion to kill a baby simply because she is a girl, then saying that anyone who wants to reduce their government funding is “waging war on women,” you should be able to see that the real issue is not women and their well-being but government money.

I know that there are good people who support “the right to chose” out of a humanitarian concern for the welfare of women. I believe that many of the issues they raise, such as the horror of rape, legal discriminations against pregnant women, and the health and security of children in our society are actually well-taken. Where I disagree with them is in their assumption that abortion is the best, and maybe even the only, solution for these problems. The answer to legal and social discrimination and violence against women is NOT to give women the right to kill their own child. The answer is to address those problems as the evils that they are and do something about them.

However, an approach like that would also shine the light of reality on the argument that organizations that make huge amounts of money from abortion are in fact the guardians of “Women’s Health.”

The truth of the matter is that Planned Parenthood has become the sole voice for “Women’s Rights” within the Democratic Party, despite the fact that it was never a women’s rights organization. From its founding to the present day, Planned Parenthood has focused on issues of population control to the exclusion of what is in the best interests of women.

While the ability to limit family size clearly can benefit women, Planned Parenthood has focused on methods of contraception that are often dangerous or, in the case of abortion, dehumanizing to women. Dangerous birth control includes drastic chemical interventions in women’s normal body processes such as depo provera, dangerous contraceptive devices such as IUDs and the mass marketing of large-dose hormone interventions such as the so-called morning after pill.

Here in Oklahoma, some of the most vociferous supporters of Planned Parenthood’s so-called “Women’s Health” are former Planned Parenthood board members who also engage in making money by farming women’s bodies for eggs. The fact that these are prominent people is, in my opinion, why the Chamber of Commerce in Oklahoma has played a large part in killing pro-life legislation in the Republican-held legislature.

Real women’s health issues are subverted and essentially buried in a focus on funding things that can destroy a woman’s reproductive health in real life. I have a cousin (now deceased) who suffered repeated blood clots as a result of taking birth control pills. I have personally talked to women who forfeited their own fertility to egg harvesters, and I know women whose menstrual periods ceased and did not re-start after taking depo provera.

Where in any of this is women’s health? And why is the government required to spend hundreds of millions of dollars funding a single organization in order to provide for “Women’s Health?”

I think one of the reasons why is that if they don’t, they will be accused of waging “war” on half the electorate.

I am a feminist. But I believe that “Women’s Health” as it is being used in today’s electioneering is nothing more than slogan-voting. As slogan-voting, it not only doesn’t make women healthier, it endangers their welfare.

The equation is:

Women’s Health = Slogan Voting

 

 

Ten Reasons The Catholic Church is Cool

 

Ten reasons Catholic Church is cool

1. It was founded by Jesus Christ. It was founded by the Second Person of the Trinity, the Son of God, the Word of God made flesh.  Ladies and gentlemen:  Jesus Christ.

2. We don’t conform to society. Ahem:  Chastity, Modesty, Pro-life, traditional marriage, care for the poor, disenfranchised and vulnerable, defense of the right to private property and a just wage. So basically, the exact opposite of Hollywood/MTV/the media in general/and trendies on both sides of the political spectrum everywhere.

3. Jesus rose from the dead.

4. Sacrament of Confession:  We don’t have to spend the rest of our lives feeling guilty about sins, because once we go to Confession, in the eyes of God and of the Church those sins NEVER happened.

5. St. Francis of Assisi proclaimed peace and revolution before the hippies did.  And he did it without drugs.

6. The Catholic Church has preserved the Creeds and Christian teaching in the face of every opposition for 2,000 years.

7. The Church supports women. 

Mary is honored more than any other saint (and no, we do not worship  her.  We worship God; we honor Mary as His     mother.) After the Mass, the Rosary is the most popularly encouraged prayer/devotion.

St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Catherine of Sienna: Doctors of the Church.

The first person to whom Jesus revealed Himself as the Messiah was the woman at the well.

In the Parable of the Lost coin, Jesus used a woman as the metaphor for God.

The first person to see Jesus after his resurrection was a woman.

St. Joan of Arc: Led France (like, in battle and in armor) to freedom in the name of God.

In the words of Flannery O’Connor, “the Catholic Church would as readily canonize a woman saint as a man.”

8. Traditions that go back to the year 33 a.d. (when Christ founded the Church.)

9. The Communion of Saints: We can ask the saints to pray for us/our intentions when we aren’t able to. There are times when we aren’t able to pray, but the saints are spending eternity in union with Christ!

10.  And finally, we can touch the Living Christ in the Eucharist and be healed at every mass. 

If You’re Going to Win the Kentucky Derby, You Need a Horse

Republicans could easily have taken the White House this year. But they didn’t.

Why?

Their candidate sucked. Their campaign sucked worse than their candidate.

First, let’s talk about the candidate. If you’re going to win the Kentucky Derby, you need a horse. The Republicans didn’t have a horse to ride in this election. Governor Romney was one rotten candidate. Nobody, except possibly his family and his dog, wanted Governor Romney to win. They wanted President Obama to lose. The people who voted for Governor Romney didn’t vote for him. They were voting against President Obama.

From beginning to end, this election has been Obama vs Obama. And it was close.

In the final analysis, more people wanted the real Obama than they wanted the robot-man not-Obama for their president. The last time we saw this was 2004 when the Democrats ran not-Bush Senator John Kerry for president. They got pretty much the same result.

Both President Bush before him and President Obama now were strategically-elected presidents who used wedge issues and highly targeted campaigns which basically said “I don’t care about you” to about half the people. Both men got their half to the polls and won a second term. Unless President Obama shifts course (something he has shown no sign of being capable of doing) both men will go down in history as presidents of some of the people most of the time and all of the people none of the time.

Governor Romney, if he had won, would have been the president of none of the people all of the time. He would have been the not-Obama president with a mush-minded platform whose only fealty was to multi-national corporations. I’m sure some of his big money backers are chewing on bitterness with their oatmeal this morning. They are not the kind of people who put money in political campaigns and politicians because of ideals. They view their campaign donations as investments. Governor Romney has been a bad investment.

In addition to their not-Obama candidate, the Republicans ran a not-Obama campaign. They never gave anybody, except the aforementioned multi-national corporatists, any reason to vote for their boy. Romney was the not-Obama candidate running on the not-Obama platform. Their only strategy was to keep on keeping on attacking the President in the same old ways over the same old issues just like they’d been doing for the past four years. The Romney campaign was an idea-free zone, and it showed.

My half-deaf 20-year-old cat could have come up with a better campaign strategy than going over and over the same old stuff that had been used against the president since 2008. I believe that President Obama’s positions on social issues were a net sum loss for him in terms of votes. But I know that he had already lost every single vote he was going to lose on those issues when he walked into this campaign. The Republicans had zero gain from attacking him on this over and over again. They already had all the votes they were going to get on those issues.

What they needed to do was offer reasons why somebody somewhere should actually vote for their candidate. It is compelling that roughly half the people of this country cast their votes against President Obama, even when they knew they were voting for a zero when they did it. That’s a big base.

But a base in any campaign is just that. It’s your base. If you want to win, you need to build something on top that base. Incumbents usually walk into an election with a big enough base to win. President Obama was the incumbent in this election and he began the campaign with that advantage. The Republicans never gave any reason, except things that people had already decided about, to switch.

The Rs ran a lousy, I’m-not-much-but-I’m-not-him campaign. The fact that it was close is a testament to how winnable it was. However, their narrow and absolute fealty to the big corporations has shut down so many options and ways of dealing with major issues concerning foreign policy and the economy that all they dared talk about were the same social issues that had gotten them to the half-way mark. They couldn’t build because they dared not. They had the money men breathing down their necks.

I’m already hearing the self-serving excuses from the R side of the political kitchen concerning this race. They are cooking up an analysis of things that will not require one single change in their absolute obeisance to the extreme nutso economic philosophy of Ayn Rand coupled with the economic policies of the greed-is-good corporatists who foot their bills. This determined self-deception precludes an honest appraisal of what went wrong.

The Democrats, after Kerry, jettisoned the dead weight. They picked their wedge issues and stopped trying to be the party of anything else. I expect the Republicans to go through a similar reappraisal. I think that there is going to be a considerable push within the party to de-couple from “social” issues and move toward a more “moderate” position on things like abortion, same-sex marriage, etc. This is the direction the money-men who own the party have been pushing for right along.

I imagine there will also be a big hate-Romney move within the party. In truth, Governor Romney only failed the party by winning the nomination. He was a no-magic man in a campaign that needed a star. But, given the field of candidates they had to choose from, what else were Republican voters supposed to do?

The field of appallingly bad candidates that Republican voters had to chose from in the primaries is a direct result of the lock-step thinking that is enforced within the party. Time was, Democrats allowed themselves the freedom to, as Wesley said, think and let think within their party. But those days are gone for them, too.

Both parties have narrowed their field of possible candidates with their internal censorship of ideas and constant self-purging, but the Republicans have paid the highest price for this so far. In the past two presidential elections, their major weakness showed in the primaries. They did not have a healthy field of intelligent, attractive candidates who inspire people. Instead, they offered us the slightly daffy, the bitter, the inane and the mean and nasty.

I know that Ron Paul inspired a lot of support, but in truth, there was no candidate in the Republican presidential primaries who had any business anywhere near the White House.

In spite of all this, the race was still close. The President eked out a win in the popular vote, and, as a result of his highly-targeted, wedge-issue race, won handily in the electoral college. It could easily have gone differently. All the Republicans needed was a candidate.

In some ways, politics is like a horse race. If you want to win any horse race, but especially a really big one like, say, the Kentucky Derby, you’ve got to have a horse to ride. The Republicans showed up for the race without a horse. The rest, as they say, is history.

Archbishop Chaput on Politics, and a few reflections from me

This is an interesting video, and well worth watching.

I think Archbishop Chaput is correct when he says that the reason the Democratic Party has become the party of abortion is that Catholics within that party didn’t hold it accountable. However, I don’t agree with his prescription that they should have left the party.

Many people have left the Democratic Party over abortion, and the result has been that the party has become more, not less, pro abortion. This is the effect of distillation of viewpoints.

This distillation of viewpoints and the extremism it nurtures are what created a climate inside the upper echelons of the Democratic power structure that allowed something as monstrous as the HHS Mandate to come about. When you only talk to a few people who agree with you, you inevitably move toward hubris and its corresponding bad judgement.

What could have changed things is if, back in the day, the pro life people within the Democratic Party had stood up and refused to give on the issue. Instead, they compromised their pro-life views out of existence, or they left the party outright. What is interesting is how completely people become what they do. The longer those pro life people who stayed in the party compromised themselves, the more they believed that what they were doing is right.

They changed alliances — from Christ to the Democratic Party.

The Archbishop is correct when he says that we can’t reply on the Republican Party to be pro-life in twenty years. What he doesn’t seem to understand is that we can’t rely on them to be effectively pro-life now. I’ve seen the Republican Party kill pro-life bills using the same arguments and tactics as the Democrats have for decades. This wasn’t rogue Republicans. It was the Republican elected leadership.

Everything I’ve said about the Democrats is also true of the Republicans. The Christians within the Republican Party have compromised the Sermon on the Mount to the point that they’ve begun to treat the actual words of Christ the Lord as if they were a heresy.

Anytime you remind these outspokenly political Christians of the words of Christ concerning justice and compassion, their eyes film over and they tune you out. This is the indifference and hardness of heart Jesus condemned so absolutely, and it is being practiced in order to fit the Gospels to the Republican Party Platform.

They do this because this compromise of their faith is the only way they can avoid standing up against the in-the-bag for the corporations corporatism of their party. Along they way, they’ve started making excuses for Republicans when they kill pro life bills.

I can’t emphasize enough that we need to stand and fight within our parties to change things. You can not build a culture of life with half the people. It can not be done.

YouTube Preview Image

Politics, Religion and Lilies That Fester

To Dolan or not to Dolan? That was the question.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan and his offer to pray the Benediction at the two political conventions were all the news a few weeks ago.

It seems that he offered to pray at both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions. The Republicans, who are sharper tacks all around when it comes to currying religious political favor, answered with an immediate yes and then used their publicity machine to spread the word.

They made the most of the fact that Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the head of all the bishops in these United States, was going to dip his vote-getting toe into their little pond. In their glee over what they obviously wanted to play into a de facto endorsement by the Catholic Church, they did everything but put out press releases saying, “We bagged the big guy!”

The Democrats, on the other hand, dissed the good Cardinal and his attempt at bi-partisan even-handedness by not even bothering to reply when he offered to pray the benediction at their convention. Their message, which was equally loud and clear, was “We don’t need no traditional Christians.”

It would have stayed like that if the Republican publicity machine hadn’t set off a mini-firestorm with its announcements. It looked, as the Rs intended, like Cardinal Dolan was playing favorties between the two political parties. Gloating Republicans slapped him on the metaphorical back while outraged Dems denounced him for being a partisan political hack.

Forced to defend himself, he explained that he had offered to pray at both conventions, and the Republicans had accepted his offer. The Democrats, on the other hand, had not even acknowledged it.

The officials who run the Democratic Party evidently had their heads stuck so far up their own militant secularism that it took them a couple of days to figure out that this wasn’t the big vote-getter they had originally believed. This gave time for the whole thing to become the church-state fight du jour.

Cardinal Dolan, and through him the Catholic Church, became one of the many bones of contention that allow the two political parties to chew on one another in their never-ending quest to get to 51% of the electoral vote.

After a few days of dealing with public indignation over this bit of hubris, the Ds evidently decided that maybe one itty bitty prayer wouldn’t compromise them all that much. Cardinal Dolan and his benediction were a pill they would swallow.

The two political parties want slightly different things from the Church. The Republicans want control of the Church’s moral voice so that they can use that voice to win elections. The Democrats, who have given up on using the Church’s moral voice, want to silence the Church, and, as much as possible, strip it of all its ministries.

Both parties want to bend the Church to their purpose and their will. The Republicans want to do this by patronizing the Church. The Democrats by attacking it. The result in both instances would be to slice and dice the Church down to an equally voiceless political carcass to be fed on and ignored.

That is precisely what the Rs and the Ds have done to every other denomination who has worked with either one of them. The so-called liberal Christian denominations and the so-called “evangelical” or “conservative” denominations have both carved up the Gospels to suit their politics. We expect certain denominations to give us a hatched up phony Gospel supporting corporatism, and the economic rape of the American people. We know that certain other denominations are going to come blaring in with their truncated Gospel supporting abortion on demand and same-sex marriage.

We expect it. We know it’s coming. And truth be told, this weary wariness of what are obviously bogus claims to holiness on the part of these denominational-leaders-political-operatives is a big part of what is driving the ugly secularism that is developing in this country. We just don’t believe these guys are speaking for anybody but themselves.

These religious leaders have so destroyed the Gospels on which they stand in order to fit in with their political crowd that they are useless and shorn. They don’t have a moral and prophetic voice left.

The only denomination I’ve seen that has stood against this, the only voice that has refused to edit the gospels down to a political convenience in the name of getting their boy elected is the Catholic Church.

My great fear is that the pressures of fighting these fights against the out-of-control secularism and social nihilism that are tearing at our society will erode the Catholic Church’s determination to stay clear of politics and follow the Gospels. I am afraid that the Church will allow itself to become another bite of power in the maw of these two political parties. I dread the day on which the Catholic Church’s moral and prophetic voice is cast before political swine. I dread it to my core; not only for my Church, but for my country.

I hope and pray that I will never hear the American Bishops endorse a political candidate or a political party. As a Democrat, the way my party treated Cardinal Dolan disgusted me. If I had any remaining ability to be ashamed of my party, I would be ashamed of them. If I was a Republican, I would be equally ashamed of them, for different reasons.

I have seen the way that Republican office-holders treat the religious leaders who pushed to get them elected once they are in office. I have also seen those same religious leaders cow-tow to the elected officials and back down on the very moral issues that they say prompted them to be politically involved in the first place. It is an ugly and disillusioning thing to have to watch.

I don’t know how to be cynical enough about both these two political parties. I try, but my cynicism just can’t keep up with them.

I am not cynical about my Church. I go to mass and touch Jesus in the Eucharist and I am healed. There’s no way to be cynical about that.

I understand that the bishops are trying their best to defend the Church in what is an unprecedented attack in the HHS Mandate. I understand how grave this is. I also know, sadly, that both parties want the Mandate, each for their own reasons.

The Mandate helped the Republicans bag the big guy. It is probably why more and more Catholics are switching from Democrat to Republican. I think it is why the Democrats rudely ignored Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s generous offer to pray at their convention. Both parties are playing to their base, and right now their lead violin is the Catholic Church.

The only church that the politicians I know still respect at all is the Catholic Church. I think there are two reasons for this. First, the Catholic Church is big. It represents millions of votes. Second, neither party has succeeded in getting the Church to edit the Gospels to suit their politics. The Catholic Church still calls both parties to task when they violate the teachings of Christ. The same Pope who refuses to bend the Church’s 2,000-year-old teaching on the sanctity of human life also refuses to support neo-con goals of corporate dominance and the endless wars of empire. I don’t know of any other church that does this.

There’s an old saying in politics; keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. The Church is the enemy of both the Democrats and the Republicans for the simple reason that it has, at least until now, refused to be co-opted by either of them. Politicians want to control, to co-opt groups and organizations and turn their purposes to the politician’s use. That is what the Republicans have succeeded in doing with a large number of denominations and what they are currently trying to do with the Catholic Church.

If they can’t control and co-opt, then politicians try to strip the person or group of power and influence so that they can’t give them any trouble in the future. It’s the classic “you’re either with me or against me” scenario played out in terms of budget items, regulations and laws. That is what the Democrats are trying to do to the Catholic Church right now. They have, as their Republican counter-parts have, managed to co-opt a large number of denominations; to get them to interpret the Gospels in ways that favor Democratic party goals. But they’ve given up on ever being able to turn the Catholic Church to their purposes.

Enter the HHS Mandate, the refusals to give grants to Church organizations who won’t refer for abortion and all the other ugliness we’ve seen and will continue to see.

The bottom line here is that neither political party is anybody’s friend. Nobody’s. Not yours. Not mine. And certainly not any church that preaches and teaches the Gospels of Christ.

Do we need the Church to step up and be the prophetic voice of God in our society? Oh my, yes we do. We need them more now than ever before.

But the very fact that we need them so badly is a reflection of what choppy water they are going to encounter as they do this. Our culture is trapped in a downward spiral. It is disassembling itself morally, spiritually and economically. Only the truth of the Gospels can equip the American people to save themselves from themselves. We need revival, but we will never get it from anyone less than a true follower of Jesus Christ.

Politics and politicians have to be engaged. We live in a democracy, which makes involvement in politics our duty as well as our right. But our god must be God, not our political parties.

Too many good people have been led astray  by bad shepherds who have taken the R or the D for their god, and have taught us to do the same. These religious leaders have become false prophets and failed shepherds who lead the flock astray. They are like Shakespeare’s lilies, who, when they fester, stink far worse than weeds. One failed religious leader does more damage than many militant secularists.

My humble suggestions to the bishops, and any other religious leader who is thinking about involving themselves in politics, are these:

1. Never, never, never compromise the Gospels of Christ for any political party. Call the Republicans out on their economic policies and blast away at the Democrats for their attacks on the sanctity of human life and marriage. Don’t compromise the gospels for these birds. Please.

2. Be prepared to be disliked, pandered to and, if the pandering fails, accused and abused. The world does not like real Christians. It never has.

3. Let the laity be the ones to slug it out in the political trenches, but arm us with good teaching and absolute fidelity to Christ so that we may do it well. Teach us. Lead us. Inspire us.

The Catholic Church is the only effective moral and prophetic voice left in this country. My plea to Cardinal Dolan and all the bishops is please, don’t allow my Church to become another religious political pawn.

Content Director’s Note: This post is a part of our Election Month at Patheos feature. Patheos was designed to present the world’s most compelling conservations on life’s most important questions. Please join the Facebook following for our new News and Politics Channel — and check back throughout the month for more commentary on Election 2012. Please use hashtag #PatheosElection on Twitter.

What Would Happen if Corporations Opposed China’s One-Child Policy?

We live in a morally truncated world. We’ve been very carefully taught that economics, business and just about everything involved with the multi-national corporations who are controlling our government are morality-free zones.

It’s as if the Gospels stop at the doorways of corporate board rooms. 

We have no trouble laying the heavy hand of our moral judgements on things like how some little old lady casts her vote, but we can’t seem to wrap our minds around the idea that corporate policies that kill, maim and enslave millions of innocent people might be subject to moral demands as well.

This laxity of moral teaching leads to terrible things. When the churches, as so many of them do, twist the Scriptures to provide dishonest and morally bankrupt moral cover for multi-national corporations, then it makes saner people question if the Scriptures actually mean anything.

I want to ask a simple question: What would happen if the American corporations who have exported America’s industrial base to China made a stand against China’s vicious one-child policy?

That’s the challenge Chen Guangcheng, the blind anti-one-child policy activist who recently came to America gave to Apple Corporation.

A September 14 Baptist Press article quotes him as saying, “Apple in China should take a very active role,” said Chen Guangcheng, the blind lawyer who brought a class-action lawsuit on behalf of Chinese women forced to have abortions or sterilizations, according to Bloomberg News. “There’s a huge social responsibility for these international corporations like Apple.”

Well. Duh. Multi-national corporations have moral responsibilities. I think it’s interesting that it took a heroic Christian who had suffered persecution in China to finally say this. But I thank God that somebody finally did.

The article says in part:

WASHINGTON (BP) — Apple, creator of the iPhone and iPad, could help bring an end to China’s coercive population control program, a leading Chinese opponent of the policy is contending.

“Apple in China should take a very active role,” said Chen Guangcheng, the blind lawyer who brought a class-action lawsuit on behalf of Chinese women forced to have abortions or sterilizations, according to Bloomberg News. “There’s a huge social responsibility for these international corporations like Apple.”

Chen and other human rights advocates sent a letter to Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive officer, asking for a meeting and urging the firm to halt coercive population control polices in its plants. Among other recommendations, they urged Apple to bar Chinese family planning authorities from access to its factories and to decline to report to the government pregnant women who do not have birth permits, Bloomberg reported Sept. 6.

“Apple is in a unique position to take a leadership role in standing up against coercive family planning in China,” Chen and the others said in the letter.

Apple’s latest yearly corporate responsibility report showed 24 of its factories it inspected performed pregnancy tests on female employees and 56 of its plants had no protocols to prevent discriminatory practices against pregnant women. The suppliers had halted screenings, Apple said, and it will terminate its relationship with facilities that are discriminatory, according to Bloomberg.

The human rights advocates also are asking other corporations, including Cisco Systems Inc., to call on China to end its coercive policy. They are targeting Apple first because it is the world’s leading technology firm and the largest corporation by market value, a spokesman told Bloomberg.

China’s population control program — known as the one-child policy and instituted officially in 1980 — generally limits couples in urban areas to one child and those in rural areas to two, if the first is a girl. Parents in cities may have second babies if the husband and wife are both only children. (Read more here.)


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X