Ringing a Bell for Liberty

Archbishop Chaput holds forth:

The public discourse of Catholics needs to be guided by charity and respect for others, but above all by truth. The truth can be difficult, so we often want to soften its edges. But this just wastes time and compounds our problems. Candor can be uncomfortable in the short run, but it’s much healthier in the long run.

The point is this: We need to be frank with each other as Christian adults, frank in our public witness and frank in our own self-criticism. Again, we also need to be prudent and kind — but not at the expense of courage, and not at the expense of speaking the truth.

via Ringing a Bell for Liberty – Interview – National Review Online.

That right there is how bishops are supposed to behave and speak!  I was a bit proud of Chaput for doing speaking in a balanced manner.  Given the absolute mess here in Philadelphia left by his predecessors we need this kind of leadership.  He continues:

Christianity is a “political” religion only in the sense that it has wider implications than the individual. Christian faith is communitarian; it places both personal and social obligations on the believer. It requires certain actions. It’s never merely private.

Which is why this Fortnight for Freedom is kind of a problem for me. Mind you I don’t have any real objection to the protest itself since it is quintessentially American to act up and speak up for one’s rights.  And Americans have a right to do so!  The First Amendment is the first for a reason.  The Founders knew these rights were important.  Liberties are precious and ought to be defended vigorously.

But as the bishop said above, Christianity isn’t really about freedom or liberty in a larger sense.  As a disciple of Christ, I have certain obligations, specifically “charity, justice, courage, [and] mercy,” as the good bishop said. I have freedom in Christ, but I’m not free to do as I please.  The irony here is that the other side of this HHS mandate debate is also acting up about liberty specifically the fundamental issue of a woman controlling her own healthcare.   So when Chaput said this:

The central issue in the HHS-mandate debate isn’t contraception. Casting the struggle as a birth-control fight is just a shrewd form of dishonesty. The central issue in the HHS debate is religious liberty. The government doesn’t have the right to force religious believers and institutions to violate their religious convictions. But that’s exactly what the White House is doing.

I winced.  The entire reason the bishops are leading this charge for religious liberty is to resist the government mandating they provide contraception.  So how exactly is birth-control not central to this issue?  If the Catholic Church encouraged the use of contraception as good sexual ethics, would we be here right now?  Would the Church be lauding the government for supporting good morality?  I think we all know the answer to these questions.  So while I’m loathe to check Bishop Chaput, I’m going to follow his lead and say that claiming the central issue isn’t contraception is also “a shrewd form of dishonesty.”  Honesty demands better.

Fortnight for Freedom

The bishops in my church instituted a pitched campaign to resist the HHS mandate, as part of the overall healthcare reform known as “Obamacare,” requiring religious institutions to cover contraception to their employees.  The bishops teach that active contraception is wrong and argue that being forced to provide such violates the religious freedom of Catholics to practice their faith and live according to their consciences.  All this is par for the course in American politics. Our democracy is about a battle of rights, an ongoing fight about whose rights deserve protection and how.  If you are a constitutional buff, this is heady stuff and part of what makes this country great.  No guns, just words.

On the merits, this battle is worth fighting. Each side has a legitimate case to make.  And rights are at stake.  Make no mistake about it.  My problem has always been how the bishops have chosen to wage this battle as soldiers of Christ or as mere political prosecutors of war?

As a Catholic, this whole “Fortnight for Freedom” thing made me nervous. The timing of this battle, the vigor with which is waged, and the lack of compassion for our opponents once again demonstrates how myopic the bishops can be and how their credibility (and the Church’s as well) is withering before the rest of the country.  I am not alone in this view.  Here are the problems I see in a nutshell with trenchant humor from Jon Stewart to liven it up! Continue reading

Texas Republican Party Platform Calls For Repeal Of Voting Rights Act Of 1965

Numerous independent studies — including one undertaken by Greg Abbott, Texas’s Republican attorney general, who claimed there was an “epidemic” of electoral fraud —  have found voter identification fraud to be exceedingly rare. According to Wayne Slater of the Dallas Morning News, Abbott’s two-year investigation yielded 26 cases of alleged fraud, but two-thirds of those turned out to be technical infractions in which the voters were eligible to vote and their votes were legally cast. In all the fraud cases but one, the voters at question were black or Hispanic. All of them were Democrats.

via Texas Republican Party Platform Calls For Repeal Of Voting Rights Act Of 1965.

Voter ID laws are bullshit.

Paying for the Pill

Super program on Radio Times.

Contraception, the Catholic Church, the President and Politics:

Hour 1

The Obama administration announced last month that it would require religious hospitals, colleges and other institutions, like those affiliated with the Catholic Church, to provide health care coverage for contraception.  The decision has ignited a passionate debate over religious freedom, the conscience exemption and the rights of women to control their own health care. On one side are those who say that because the Catholic Church opposes birth control, it should not be required to cover it and that the administration’s attempt to require they do so can be seen as an intrusion of the government into the affairs of religious groups. On the other side are women’s health care advocates who say that women employed by Catholic hospitals and universities should have the same rights to contraceptive coverage as other women and that allowing women to control their own bodies in accordance with their own beliefs is an example of religious liberty.  Not surprisingly, the issue has become a highly political one in this election year. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney lashed out at the administration for seeking to curtail religious freedom, Newt Gingrich called the decision a war against religion, and Rick Santorum accused the Obama administration of being “hostile to people of faith, particularly Christians, and specifically Catholics.” We’ll look at all sides of the decision and how it is influencing the 2012 presidential campaign with SALLY STEENLAND of the Center for American Progress and author MICHAEL SEAN WINTERS, who writes for The National Catholic Reporter.

Listen to the mp3

Download audio file (020912_100630.mp3)

(Via Radio Times.)

That Ain’t Right

It Wasn’t Me

Ron Paul’s Shaggy Defense:

Racism, like all forms of bigotry, is what it claims to oppose–victimology. The bigot is never to blame. Always is he besieged–by gays and their radical agenda, by women and their miniskirts, by fleet-footed blacks. It is an ideology of “not my fault.” It is not Ron Paul’s fault that people with an NAACP view of the world would twist his words. It is not Ron Paul’s fault that his newsletter trafficked in racism. It is not Ron Paul’s fault that he allowed people to author that racism in his name. It is anonymous political aids and writers, who now cowardly refuse to own their words. There’s always someone else to blame–as long as it isn’t Ron Paul, if only because it never was Ron Paul.

(Via Ta-Nehisi Coates :: The Atlantic)

Ron Paul was quite the racist and still is since he hasn’t the integrity to apologize for it written in his name.  Only repentance brings redemption.

You’re Supposed to Get What You Pay For


Job Creation and Job Quality Standards in State Economic Development Subsidy Programs | PHENND Updates:

“Report: States Spend Billions on Economic Development Subsidies that Don’t Require Job Creation or Decent Wages

Pennsylvania scored a D, tied for 40th place among the states

Pennsylvania is spending millions of dollars per year on corporate tax credits, cash grants and other economic development subsidies that lack wage and benefit standards for workers at subsidized companies and sometimes don’t require job creation, according to a new national report card issued by Good Jobs First.”


When you pay for something like foregoing taxes, government’s should get something in return.  They’re our tax dollars right?