Did the Elephant Forget Life?

The Elephant Party sent me a letter to let me know how important my commitment and support are "as we approach an election that will be a watershed moment in our nation's history."  It seems like this must be the third, or is it the fourth, election in a row billed as a "watershed moment" so I have really gotten over being very impressed with the "historic" nature of our choices, which the letter goes on to inform me are "crucial" and involve "two very different visions for the future of our country."

Now we come to the bullet points, three of them, in which these crucial differences between the Republican's "vision" and that of the Democrats are to be laid out.  I already know what I think the crucial differences are because the last time I checked, the Republican Party platform contained the following principles and goals with regard to abortion, destruction of embryos for research, and other life issues:

Promote adoption and abstinence, not abortion clinic referrals.

Human Life Amendment to the Constitution.

Ethical research - yes; embryo cells - no; cloning - no.

ABC for AIDS: Abstinence, Be faithful, Change behavior.

No assisted suicide.

In contrast, these are the statements of the Democrats on the some of the same issues:

We will defend the dignity of all Americans against those who would undermine it. Because we believe in the privacy and equality of women, we stand proudly for a woman's right to choose, consistent with Roe v. Wade, and regardless of her ability to pay. We stand firmly against Republican efforts to undermine that right. At the same time, we strongly support family planning and adoption incentives. Abortion should be safe, legal, and rare….

President Bush has rejected the calls from Nancy Reagan, Christopher Reeve and Americans across the land for assistance with embryonic stem cell research. We will reverse his wrongheaded policy. Stem cell therapy offers hope to more than 100 million Americans who have serious illnesses — from Alzheimer's to heart disease to juvenile diabetes to Parkinson's. We will pursue this research under the strictest ethical guidelines, but we will not walk away from the chance to save lives and reduce human suffering.

Where families are concerned the Republican Party platform offers the following outline:

Families are the cornerstone of our culture.

States should not recognize gay marriage from other states.

Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage.

While the Democrats have this to say:

We support full inclusion of gay and lesbian families in the life of our nation and seek equal responsibilities, benefits, and protections for these families…. We repudiate President Bush's divisive effort to politicize the Constitution by pursuing a "Federal Marriage Amendment." Our goal is to bring Americans together, not drive them apart.

 Given the virulence of the homosexual agenda being pursued in so many public schools, there is another element of the Republican platform I also consider to be very important:

Promote school choice and home-schooling.

None of these things were mentioned in the letter.  Not one.  There was not so much as a nod in the direction of life issues; there was not even a vague reference to "traditional values" or "family values."  Of the three bullet points two were essentially about money:

It's a choice between keeping taxes low… and creating new jobs… or bigger government and higher taxes.

It's a choice between giving individuals more freedom to decide how best to spend their money, choose their own health care and retirement… or allowing [Washington] to make decisions for you.

The third was about winning the war on terror versus, in an unimaginative display of over-the-top rhetoric, "surrender[ing]" to our enemies.

Now don't get me wrong.  I think money is important.  I think having lower taxes matters, because of the way taxes impact families.  Family-friendly tax policies in this country could go a long way toward enabling more mothers to stay home with their children.  Having a strong economy with good jobs is something else that is important to families.  After all, if the family — with its rich web of connections — is the cornerstone of our culture, then every other policy point should be given its justification and context in relation to the family – shouldn't it?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church clearly denotes this as an obligation of the civil authorites:

The family is the original cell of social life. It is the natural society in which husband and wife are called to give themselves in love and in the gift of life. Authority, stability, and a life of relationships within the family constitute the foundations for freedom, security, and fraternity within society….

The family should live in such a way that its members learn to care and take responsibility for the young, the old, the sick, the handicapped, and the poor. There are many families who are at times incapable of providing this help. It devolves then on other persons, other families, and, in a subsidiary way, society to provide for their needs: "Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained from the world."

The family must be helped and defended by appropriate social measures. Where families cannot fulfill their responsibilities, other social bodies have the duty of helping them and of supporting the institution of the family….

The importance of the family for the life and well-being of society entails a particular responsibility for society to support and strengthen marriage and the family. Civil authority should consider it a grave duty "to acknowledge the true nature of marriage and the family, to protect and foster them, to safeguard public morality, and promote domestic prosperity."

The political community has a duty to honor the family, to assist it, and to ensure… the protection of the stability of the marriage bond and the institution of the family… (CCC 2207-2211).

In light of this there are some aspects of the Republican Party platform that are questionable concerning families. Regarding immigration the platform says:

Only legal immigrants, through tightly controlled borders.

Amnesty encourages illegal immigration.

I certainly agree that we must secure our borders, but I want the integrity of the family ties of immigrants given priority and protection, whether they are here legally or illegally. 

Regarding welfare and poverty the platform says:

Faith-based welfare grants equal with secular groups.

Move more welfare recipients off the welfare rolls.

Once again I wonder how the integrity of the family is here impacted.  Faith-based groups often do a better job of encouraging marriage and family stability along with the morality that contributes to healthy families, so that is a plus.  The Bush administration had some achievements in eliminating the government bias against allowing faith-based organizations to compete on a level playing field with secular ones in contracting to provide social services.  Faith-based programs that have received funding include those for mentoring children of prisoners, drug treatment, prisoner re-entry, maternity group-homes, gang prevention as well as assisting the homeless.  But public policy on aid to the poor has yet to embrace fully a pro-marriage and pro-family agenda that would put the necessary emphasis on fatherhood even though the need to do so has been evident for many years, as a small excerpt from this 2000 article demonstrates:

Part of the reason for the current focus on welfare-to-work strategies is that we know much more about promoting work than we do about helping couples to form and sustain healthy, mutually satisfying marriages. Moreover, marriage is something about which Americans are considerably ambivalent. Because fatherhood and marriage frequently touch upon difficult, painful, and highly personal decisions, policymakers have been reluctant to address them through public policy reforms. In addition, the awful specter of domestic violence has led some to conclude that marriage is a trap for women. Consequently, welfare reform efforts rarely have included policies to promote marriage. Instead, most efforts have proceeded with what many proponents concede is ultimately a secondary but attainable strategy: improving the way in which we help single parents in their struggle for self-sufficiency….

The problem is that strategies for promoting fatherhood and marriage are, to some extent, in conflict with those that seek to help single mothers achieve self-sufficiency through work. Indeed, a welfare system that helps single mothers become employed but ignores the need to promote fatherhood and marriage may serve only to enable unmarried women to rear children without the presence of the father. Yet, despite increasing public concern about the problems of out-of-wedlock childbearing and the absence of fathers, most welfare reform efforts to date have focused almost exclusively on moving unwed mothers into the paid labor force….

Although the public paid little attention to welfare reform's emphasis on unwed parenting, reversing the tide of fatherlessness was, indeed, a central concern of federal reform. In fact, the opening passages of the bill that established TANF addressed the need to promote marriage and responsible fatherhood. Federal legislators clearly felt that reforms should help to promote stable two-parent families. While few provisions in that law specifically addressed family structure, the bill did include a twenty-million-dollar bonus program for states that reduced out-of-wedlock births without increasing the number of abortions….

Today, the greatest single threat to the long-term well-being of our children and our communities is the increasing number of children being raised without a responsible, loving father. Our nation is known for its optimism and fondness for reforms that promise to make society safer, stronger, and richer. Yet all the social reforms we have attempted in the past, or may attempt in the future, will likely pale in comparison to the good that would come if we could turn back the tide of fatherlessness.

This is where one of the Catholic non-negotiable life issues comes in to play.  Only an insanely schizoid society could pretend to be able to pursue strengthening marriage and promoting responsible (i.e. married) fatherhood while simultaneously flirting with "gay marriage," allowing homosexual adoption, and creating the civil fiction that homosexual relationships are the moral equivalent of heterosexual relationships.

Nevertheless, how to achieve immigration and welfare reform are matters about which Catholics may disagree.  What I was looking for in this letter was some indication that at least one party in this country gets it when it comes to the life issues — the ones that are non-negotiable because they are based on the natural law knowable to everyone.  So I carefully read this letter from the Republican National Committee only to end up shaking my head.  Why did they send me this letter?  Surely some cross-tabulation of databases would indicate that mine is a very pro-life household.  Doesn't anyone at that party recognize that I am among the voters for whom the life issues are make it or break it?  I know there are Republicans who are mere "fiscal conservatives" and who are not energized in the least by social issues, but I am not one of them and they weren't the ones who propelled Bush to two terms in the White House.

And what about the Supreme Court?  Since that non-elected body has usurped legislative powers, the only way voters can affect its de facto legislating actions is through the election of the president who appoints them.  In this letter there was not a single word from the RNC about the crying need for us to have people on the Supreme Court who can make sure that the Constitutional blessings of liberty are truly secured both for ourselves and our posterity — posterity who can enjoy no blessings at all from our country if they are killed while still in the womb.  I remember that, before the 2004 election, getting judges on the court who might be inclined to end judicial usurpation of legislative functions and possibly overturn Roe v. Wade was a big selling point for the party.  I remember, but maybe the Elephant has forgotten.

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  • Guest

    When u say lower taxes would enable more mothers to stay home with their children, did you have in mind a specific age range for those chlidren? What do u mean by " staying home" ?

      

  • Guest

    or has life forgotten the elephant?;

    re-institution of Mexico city policy

    prohibition of funding for embryonic stem cell research

    prohibition of partial birth abortion, with commitment to the victory clear through supreme court challenge

    selection of strong pro life judges, especially to the supreme court

    sure, the republicans could do a better job, and those were good suggestions, but these things don't happen overnight…  maybe if the fickle pro-life base demonstrated a little better commitment than we did in the last election, we'd still have a prolife majority in the senate!

  • Guest

    Terrygeorge, I am very glad for those things.  All will be endangered if the party forgets its commitment to life.

    Do you really think that it was pro-lifers who caused the last round of Republican losses? I haven't heard that before.

    I think the Republicans lost because of inept governance and a lack of willingness or ability at the top to clearly explicate the pro-life position.

    I understand that "those things" don't happen overnight — which is why I pointed out that the welfare-fatherlessness connection has been understood for years but is barely ever touched upon in public speech or policy.

    And I don't know exactly why you are calling pro-lifers fickle. Would expect pro-lifers to be loyal to the party if it abandoned the pro-life position? Isn't that exactly what we fault so many "pro-life" Democrats for doing — putting party loyalty above the lives of babies.

    Lwall, I mean that lower taxes, which let a family keep more of each wage-earner's money, will allow for some women who now have to work to be able to be home. In some cases that means that mothers who are taking pre-schoolers or even babies to day care will be able to be home with them. (And as has been argued before in this space it is very unfair that the tax laws give credit to families who farm out the care of their children but not the same break to parents who care for their own children.) In other cases it might mean that a mom working full-time can cut back to part-time and be home when her kids get out of school.  There really is not an age cutoff at which it suddenly becomes better for the children not to have Mom available. But I suppose we could ask at what age does the current tax policy cut off parents being allowed to deduct for outside care, such as day care and after school programs.

  • Guest

    There is something Republicans for Life as well as right thinking Democrats can do this fall. Please consider joining your local 40 Days for Life Campaign, and pray, fast, hold vigil and reach out to the community in a way that is peaceful and lawful. This scourge on our country will not be overthrown by human power. It is only by grace; some evil can only be overcome by prayer and fasting.  There are 80+ cities in 32 states that have committed to this pro-life effort. This is a “Real” movement towards bringing the end to the “Culture of Death”. Please consider being part of this work of God. 40DaysforLife.com 

    "Do not try to please everybody. Try to please God , the angels, and the saints. These are your public. If you are afraid of other people's opinion, you should not have become Christian." St John Vianney

  • Guest

    I agree with most of this article.  However, the immigration issues are very clear to me.  My father was a legal immigrant, and I have many friends who have either completed the legal immigration process, or are in the middle of it.  They are at the mercy of a belligerent, merciless system, yet they are pursuing legal residency and citizenship the right way.  Blanket amnesty for illegal immigrants, no matter how long they've been here using our government resources (illegally) or how they arrived here (illegally) should not be their reward, whether by government standards or Christian standards.  It is an offense to all law-abiding citizens and non-citizens alike.  Middle-Americans are being denied access to government services in a system glutted with illegal immigrants who know how to beat this system.  Those who wouldn't think of falsifying records and facts are unfairly refused, while those who do falsify papers are reaping the benefits that we pay for.  Let alone the expense of printing EVERYTHING in Spanish!

  • Guest

    Vote for Joe Schriner!

     

    http://www.voteforjoe.com 

  • Guest

    "Abortion…safe, legal and rare…"

    I always stop short when I see or hear the phrase, and I've seen and heard it a lot over the last ten years. I even remember the guy that first said it, but I can't recall his name.

     

    The statement itself is a contradiction. When our pro-choice friends say that pregnancy is nothing more than a medical condition; when they say that the fetus is nothing more than a lump of cells; when they say, in essence, "this is no big deal. What's the fuss?"

     

    And I think "safe…legal…and rare…"

     

    Well, regrettably, its already legal. According to them and their doctors, its medically safe, that is to say, the complications per 1000 procedures is in line with their consideration of safety.

     

    So, why should it be rare if its no big deal? Why not open abortion clinics in those little fast food malls we see all over the place? Or right there in the schools? Why not, if its no big deal?

     

    But of course, it is a big deal and our friends on the other side do know it. They know what so many young women, often children themselves really, go through after they have their abortions. Their lives often become a nightmare. I suppose most get over it eventually, and no doubt quite a number don't seem to be bothered by it. But to acknowledge even the possibility of psychological complications would be acknowledging that its not necessarily so safe. More is the pity. Once again political (and other darker..) agendas override reality.

     

    Safe, legal and rare…

     

    I guess I need to go back and read the article now, because like I said, that phrase stops me cold every time.

  • Guest

    We can't just look to gov't to address these issues of conscience and morality. Why would politicians take this risk when our bishops and priests won’t. I actually give many of the pols credit. Bush for one took a stand on the very issues you mentioned and did something. I think he got about 50% of the Catholic vote. The grassroots action that bambushka suggests is what we need to do. As far as taxes? Anytime they want to lower them it’s a benefit to families because it helps defund the left which is an enemy of Christian families. Mary’s article is a good reminder to the Elephant. If you forget our issues, we’ll forget to vote for you. My personal quandry is that the outcome of that lapse of memory is getting the beast with the unflattering name.

  • Guest

    Neoconservative political power is the main reason Republicans are downplaying life issues. Neocons are basically individuals from the far left who became disillusioned with that philosophy, and entered the Republican party seeking to change things. They are "uncomfortable" with life issues, supposedly fiscally-conservative (though they seem to have completely dropped that from their agenda) , and staunchly pro-Israel. Ken Mehlman is a good example of this, as well as Michael Chertoff.

    Mehlman was appointed by Bush to head the National Republican Committee and became champion of winning back the African-American vote. This was the squishy philosophy of "compassionate conservatism"  which you can probably figure out. Comedian Bill Maher basically outed Mehlman as a homosexual, who surreptitiously resigned the chairmanship earlier this year.

    Chertoff, an Israeli national, is the so-called head of Homeland Security. Interesting that he received a full confidence vote of 98-0 in the Senate, and was lauded in the media while Bush's first choice Bernard Kerik, was viciously attacked by the left, and had to withdraw his nomination. Now, anyone receiving a 98-0 vote in the Senate must be pretty darn wonderful right? (I even wish I was that wonderful myself)

    Chertoff has been a dismal failure as Secretary of Homeland Security. Every month hundreds of the most vicious South American gang members strut across our open borders causing horror and ruin for many people's lives. Funny enough, Israel itself just announced it will close its doors to asylum-seekers from Darfur and all other non-Jewish refugees.  

    So that is where we stand right now. The Democrats are not an option at this point in history. We must fight for our values to be represented in the Republican party. To advance a "culture of life", neocons like Bush, Mehlman, and Chertoff must be shown the door. 

  • Guest

    I echo dormburosh precisely!

    End point countries decide immigration policy.  If one doesn't like the laws, don't come.  (We're not discussing refugees of war or political persecution which is in a different category).  Personal responsibilty for your family must rule.  Nobody will force you to separate from your family when you, the illegal, are deported.  I would go further and say that NO CHILD of an illegal immigrant,either parent, can become a US citizen automatically. They should be treated as illegal too.

    Further, families have been separated for millenia as they have heard God's call to emigrate.  Abraham is a prime example.  Even those "conastoga wagon train" folks left family for good back east when they headed west.  (Examples abound.)

    Yes, economic conditions around the world in many places are deplorable.  However, the USA has been clearly told, "butt out…..except for your billions."  Mass emigration to the USA is not the solution to world poverty.  And, if you don't want US intervention, then don't take our foreign aid.

    Good pro life and tax issue policy points in the article (it was chock full of issues.)

  • Guest

    Whenever it is an either/or decision (which I think it is most times), the need for a government policy and practise to secure our borders and to control illegal immigration trumps your description of family ties. No matter your understandable concern for the unfortunate illegals – which most people share – I think you have to acknowledge that it is what the illegals are doing to themselves that causes the split-up of their families and not what the American government does. Do you recall the two brothers that murdered their parents, and then asked the court for probabation because they had already suffered enough by being orphans? The simiile is a little extreme, but it makes the point.

    All the polling I have seen would indicate that you are in a small minority on this point among all Americans, and probably even among American Catholics. The views of American Catholics on illegal immigration, and even on abortion itself, have steadily drifted to more mirror the views by the general population.  I don't know if this is the result of some sort of normal assimilation, a generational change, or whatever, but the trend is there. 

    All the more reason for the Church to stand firm on the very clear and non-conflicting moral issues involving abortion.  However, the moral issues surrounding illegal immigration are conflicting and not always clear.  When we facilitate (encourage?) these immigrants to enter the US illegally, knowing for a certainty that they will hardships, family distruption, alienation and even arrest, that itself is morally questionable. The Church should provide whatever comfort it can to the illegals, and I would be willing to contribute to that kind of project.  But I don't think we should contribute to anything that puts them at risk.

  • Guest

    I agree that the borders should be secured and illegal immigration halted.

    I have a big problem with deporting parents away from their children.  The children are citizens and barring a Constitutional amendment that alters their status talk of deporting them along with their parents is just blowing smoke. So I guess I end up being reluctantly for amnesty — AFTER the border has been closed, which I agree should be the number one concern of any Department of Homeland Security worthy of the name.

    Yes the moral issues are conflicting because if you read the Catechism on the subject it says both that people have the right to emigrate and that countries have the right to secure borders.

    But the bigger question here is how to get the Republican party to toe the line as the pro-life party.

  • Guest

    mkochan : Thanks for the info.

    I was unaware such a discepancy existed. How does it work? Tax break if u "farm out" your kid, but nothing if u stay home? Is that embedded in the tax code or what?

  • Guest

    Let me explain something as simply as I can.

    I was raised in the midwest with many progressives.

    I was a member of the democratic party for 5 years specifically to try and promote pro-life issues within the party ( something that never made it past the regional level).  I have NEVER voted for a democratic presidential candidate.

     

    As far as I am concerned sanity rightly defined is "an understanding of reality that matches the objective reality causing the understanding".

     

    Any candidate who is 'pro-choice' is dilisional and insane and not trustworthy to be president of the united states of america.

     

    So that is a MIMINIMAL criteria.  If the republicans and the dems both run pro-choice candidates this year I'm going to vote for a third party somewhere.

     

     

  • Guest

    Exactly Lwall. Here is the info from the IRS. It goes up to age 13, BTW

    http://www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=121435,00.html

  • Guest

    mkochan and ALL : mokochan, thanks for the link.

    Let me pose an argument that I am sure we are all familiar with. It is what we must and do face in the public square. How would you respond. It goes somewhat like this :

     Not to vote or to advocate for choice on moral matters such as abortion and stem cell research is patently anti-American. Our constitution allows that we as a people enjoy the soverign right to decide on issues. The people's sovereignty includes the people's right to choose and to legislate public policy based upon any grounds - pragmatic, religious, Third Reich, aesthetic, philosophical, or whatever. 

    To retract free choice in these matters would be, therefore, be unconstitutional. Thus everyone is obligated to allow that the consensus of the people must be accorded ultimate decision making power here and without invoking absolute religious prohibitions and authority. Religious viewpoints that would retract the free consensus power of the people is wrong. 

  • Guest

    Lwall, you still believe in the free consensus power of the people after school busing and Roe v. Wade?

  • Guest

    Its true pro-family issues are important, but that doesn't make any republican candidate a must-vote-for.   Democrats can have great social justice and environmentally friendly candidates  (something Republicans often lack).   As Christians we need a candidate that doesn't choose his campaign based on a party outline, but on Truth and Goodness itself.  That is why I'm voting for Joe!

    http://www.voteforjoe.com 

  • Guest

    buckeye – I will vote for ANY democrat who vocally oposes abortion, if for no other reason then we need more people do do so on both parties and I want to send a clear message that is what I want from both parties.

     

    lwall — "Thus everyone is obligated to allow that the consensus of the people must be accorded ultimate decision making power "

     

    If that were the case abortion and probably homosexuality would be illegal today lwall.  Unfortunately things are more complicated and the judicial branch of our government has by custom not been exposed to the proper checks and balances thus distorting the will of the people and the balance of power in the consitution.  A battle still worth fighting in the political arena.

     

     

  • Guest

    buckeye:  as in "Go Bucks?"

    We live in a nation of party politics.  Therefore, the party platform rules.  Mary clearly spelled out the differences in the platforms.

    Until the above changes, I can't vote for a Democrat because of their platform (I have informed my congressman of that fact.  I hope this is a way we prolifer, pro marriage voters can put pressure on otherwise good, well, sorta good, candidates.)

    Another problem in the tax system for families is the Alternate Minimum Tax.  My family has been blessed in the last two years of earning enough money to adequately support ourselves.  The only thing is this.  I have ten kids with one on the way.  These children are expensive.  I need more money every year  to support this family than a family with fewer children.  For instance, I pay $12,000 cash every year for my daughter's college tuition.  We believe in music lessons for all of our kids.  Their activities cost money…there are no discounts despite what TV shows about the Duggars may depict.  I've got 4 teens to feed and a 4500 sq ft house to heat/cool.  (I homeschool and we have room for a school house with its library and playroom.  Kids share rooms, of course.)  Yet, we get no recognition under the tax code that 10 kids need more resources than 1 child.  In fact, my husband could actually make more money if he earned less because then we would qualify for the Child Tax Credit.  Of course, it would be ludicrous for him to figure out how little he could work to make money.

    Iwall:  there was a time, many years in fact, when my family lived on a thin shoe string.  I had my several kids in a 2 day a week preschool so I could participate in a bible study (this was about 15 years ago).  I eventually pulled them out because I was disgusted that tuition kept rising and 2x a week disappeared, among other things.  Why was tuition rising?  Well, because working moms were using it as daycare.  And they got a TAX CREDIT for their tuition.  Meanwhile I paid the opportunity cost of being an at home mom and got the privilege of paying full tuition.  Despite contacting my Reps in congress, this situation remains today.  (Now most preschools really are daycare centers with agressive instructional curriculums and five day a week programs.)  My last 7 children haven't attended any form of nursery school.

  • Guest

    Fishman:  You are right in that if the will of the majority were all that mattered, homosexuality and abortion would be illegal today.  Toss in racial desegragation.  A law requiring whites to attend school with blacks, would never have come close to surviving a national referendum in the 1950's when those laws were enforced (by the US Army).  The majority of the people are every bit as capable of being "wrong" as the individual can be wrong.  I do not agree that our courts have not been exposed to the proper checks and balances (what is proper and who would do that?).  The Federal courts are empowered to interpret and enforce the U S Constituion, not the will of the people – praise be to God.  The balance of power in the Constituion was carefully and deliberatly composed by the Founding Fathers so as to avoid giving absolute power to any branch.  All three branches are careful to avoid bringing any issue to a test of that construction because it would doubtless cause the Constitution to collapse – which no one wants.  Read "Power through the absence of Power", by Arnold Gray.

  • Guest

    “Environmentally friendly candidate” bukeye? That’s about as defining as “safe, legal and rare”. That’s smokescreen terminology. We’re not going to get a lot out of any of these rascals but we can get something. Don’t let up on abortion and taxes. Republicans are the best bet for now although they flounder on pro-life and do a good job maintaining the status quo. Immigration will not get solved because it serves the gov’t extremely well in maintaining its power and tax structure. Notice that none of the mayors of the large cities where illegals are running rampant, are complaining. The problem with conservatives is that we get fragmented. Observe Reagan’s 11th commandment. Life issues? Not on the table, everything else needs some flexibility. As far as the Dem’s in the last qtr. century? don’t even look their way.

  • Guest

    lwall,

    It is, of course, generally regarded as better to convince people than to coerce them.

    A little nit-pick: the US Constitution recognizes that we the people enjoy the sovereign right to decide on our representatives in the government of the republic, but it does not allow us as a people to directly decide on the issues.  It is not the people, but our representatives, who legislate.

    The government of the USA is not a pure democracy, nor was it intended to be. The framers were quite concerned about the danger of majority rule. Still, we know democratic principles were a central idea behind the "great compromise" in the bi-cameral solution to framing the legislative branch. 

    The abolitionists of 19th century America were largely religious zealots. Coersion to their cause certainly cost the country much blood and treasure. It is less clear when and if the USA would have arrived at a just solution on the issues of black slavery and states' rights to secede relying soley on convincing the people.

  • Guest

    mkochan: I don't like amnesty, even when it provides for some reasonable path to citizenship, but that may be the only answer.  Fact is that our $13 trillion economy can absorb the 12 million illegals rather easily.  Most economists say it would hardly cause a ripple and would normalize pretty quickly.  About three or four years ago the Organization for the American States (OAS) published a report saying that the then $875 billion Mexican economy could not sustain the then 100 million Mexican population, and that 40 million Mexicans would have to migrate within ten years or perish.  The OAS study did not say that the 40 million Mexicans had to go to the USA, but where else would they go? Mexico now has 105 million people and an economy of some $960 billion.  Canada, by way of comparison, has 30 million people and an economy of just about $985 billion. To make matters worse, the Mexican social structure hinders the creation of a middle income class, and they are coping with drug-gang warefare that borders on anarchy.  The largest source of income for the Mexican government is crude oil export, and the second largest source is money sent back home by the illegals.  That is sad.  Despite some very thin denials by the Mexican government, the production of crude oil in Mexico is declining significantly.  Their biggest field is drying up, and they have not tended to business in developing new fields. 

    Our politicians seem incapable of managing even the tip of the iceberg problems we have now (they are too busy assasinating each other).  They should be thinking and actiing proactively to plan for the absorbtion of possibly 40 million Mexicans over the next five to ten years.  The irony is that the incredible American economy is very capable of absorbing that many people – but not all at the same time and the same place. It is a problem that can be managed, but I have serious doubts that either party will step up and do it.

  • Guest

    "I do not agree that our courts have not been exposed to the proper checks and balances (what is proper and who would do that?).  "

     

     

    In my opinion you are suffering from a common delusion, you are assuming that because something is , that that is the way it was or is supposed to be:

     

    Let me give a clear example of the proper checks and balances and in what way they are commonly misconstrued.

     

    Suppose the members of the supreme court one day were all vegetarians? Would they be properly interpreting the constitution within the function of judiciary if they ruled that all 'men' referred to all creatures who have hair and ordered that anyone executing a mammal ( including a cow) should be indicted for murder ?

      

    No , they are not merely supposed to ‘interpret’ the constitution they are OBLIGATED to interpret it as it was MEANT by the legislature.

      

    What body is responsible for checking the supreme court in such a case.

     

    The constitution makes it clear, it is the responsibility of the congress to impeach such judges for intention usurpation of power not belonging to the judicial branch.  

     

    If the congress fails to do so the system of checks and balances has failed because there is no longer any check being made by any branch against the judiciary.

     

     

    When R v Wade passed with is most creative interpretation of the 'right to privacy' as extended to the 'right to commit murder' the congress should have immediately removed all judges that voted for it and the president should have appointed new ones. 

     

    The system of checks and balances failed.  If it had not abortion would not be legal today.

     

  • Guest

    Just to follow up on a point from earlier………It's true that neocons are "uncomfortable" with pro-life issues. That's why abortion wasn't even mentioned in the letter to Mary. But what kind of excuse is that? Seriously, these fat cats fly around on their private jets being treated like kings, while muffling values issues against babies having forceps injected into their skulls while their brains are sucked out.

    The other thing to watch with this crew is that we might end up with our boy's boots on the ground in Iran fighting Israel's war. I'm for supporting Israel, but only with troops in case they are attacked.  I'm not for supporting them to the tune of 30 billion dollars annually while these neocon traders gave communist China 1 trillion dollars in US reserve that came directly from our middle classes. This is what neocons do and why it is important to strive for change.  

  • Guest

    mkochan : Try not to get so defensive. I was posing an argument that we must confront.

    Do I support consensus by the people, you ask? Of course I do. Is there any other choice as an American living under our constitutional contract ?

    Do have an altenative in mind other tahn our constitution?

    Perhaps a theocracy?

  • Guest

    I wasn't being at all defensive, just asking how you can consider that a reality at the present time.

    I don't believe SCOTUS is following the constitution.  That's the whole problem — or much of it anyway, which is why I pointed out in my article that the stated purpose of the constitution is to secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity.  Therefor the same constitutional protection that any of us enjoy against having our right to life taken away without due process, should be also enjoyed by the unborn infant in the womb.

  • Guest

    It’s nice to read comments posted by folks who are knowlegable about US History and current affairs! Thanks!

    dannycomelatley: you say that our economy is able to absorb the 40 million Mexicans (plus other immigrants is implicit in your numbers I’m sure). Perhaps this is true. But, can our society absorb that many from one culture at once? And, do those immigrants want to assimilate in the way past immigrants did? Or do they just want the “American dough” which they’ll always call “pan/pesos”?

    I don’t want a bilingual US Culture or US Catholic church. It is against American culture and the history of the US.

  • Guest

    Fishman:  The simple answer to your first question about murdering cows is: "Yes, if the Supreme Court ruled that executing cows was murder, then all such men murdering cows would be indicted for the murder of the cow".  That answer is obvious on it's face, and is ridiculous only because your clear example was ridiculous (but also humorous). 

    One more time, the Supreme Court interprets the meaning and intent of the authors of the Constitution, and cares not one wit about the intention of the legislature.  The Court applies it's interpretation of Constitution, based on the intent of the Founding Fathers, to confirm that laws passed by the Legislature do not confict or contradict the Constitution- regardless of what the Legislators may or may not have intended.

    You state that the "Constitution makes it clear that it is the responsibility of the Congress to impeach such judges for (sic)intention usurpation of power not belonging to the judicial branch". 

    It does no such thing. 

    Article 1., Section 2 and 3 says that the President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States (it does not single out the Suprime Court) can be impeached (accused), and Article 4 states only for Treason, Bribery and Other High Crime (but it makes no mention of usurption of power by any branch).       

    No individual from any branch has ever been impeached on the grounds of usurption of power, and, for the reasons I explained it is highly unlikely that anyone will ever be so accused. 

    See if I can say this clearly.  The US Constitution does not clearly dilineate and differenciate the powers of the three branches.  It was deliberately left vague because the framers of the Constitution could not agree on that subject.  Same with the issue of slavery.  They could not agree so they left it hanging. One hundred years later we settled it with a Civil War.  That is the first thing lawyers learn in Constituional Law 101. So far, none of our politicians have taken any issue that could test the powers of the branches at the Supreme Court level.  The Supreme Court is essentially an appellate court and thus far in our history no politician has ever taken a case involving the division of power among the branches to even one of the lower courts – let alone the Supreme Court.  Such a case would require our politicians to agree on something that the Founding Fathers and their successors have never been able to agree upon.  Can you imagine the greatest power on earth paralyzed because we could not agree on a Constitution?

    I the history of our country only one Supreme Court Justice has even been impeached, accused then of politcal favoratism, for which the Senate promptly dismissed the charges.  The Harvard Law Review said that the disposition of that impeachment made it clear that Supreme Court Justices could not be impeached for political reasons.  The Justice was Samuel Chase in 1805.

    The best reasons arguing against the use of the kinds of subjective and arbitrary checks and balances that exist in your imagination (but not in the US Consititution) can be found in your e-mail.

  • Guest

    It’s always a good intellectual exercise to debate and comment on constitutional issues. It keeps us informed to make good judgments. Many grave issues however are not decided that way. They’re decided by bad and manipulative politics. The political will is driven by the media and the lobbyists, bought and paid for. We can no more affect that outcome than we can control the public school budget in out towns. In my town they’ve won every time. We end up compromising because those who are uncompromised are removed from the playing field. Remember Allan Keyes and Pat Buchanan. Both were smeared in some way. Buchanan was labeled an anti-Semite and it was all over. Incidentally, had they survived neither one of them would have carried the Catholic vote.

  • Guest

    mkochan

    please understand, I encourage you to call the politicians to account for their failings.  However, I do think that a significant portion of the problem lies with the pro life base.

     

    “Do you really think that it was pro-lifers who caused the last round of Republican losses?”

    I would say that was an integral part of the process.  Not just that pro-lifers didn’t vote for the strongest pro-life position in congress that they could, and didn’t perform the grassroots stumping for such a position, but they (we) actually attacked the sitting pro-lifers!  Either they ‘weren’t pro life enough’ or they were condemned for supporting the war on terror (in which by proportionality FAR fewer lives are lost).  Sure, republicans did more than enough to contribute to their own defeat, but that doesn’t mean the pro-life crowd gets to wash their (our) hands of it.

     

    “I don't know exactly why you are calling pro-lifers fickle.”  See the above.  As goral states “The problem with conservatives is that we get fragmented”  and “Why would politicians take this risk when our bishops and priests won’t…”  especially when some bishops and priests spend more time condemning them, ie for war on terror, immigration, environment, etc, than encouraging them.

     

    Goral:

    “Mary’s article is a good reminder to the Elephant. If you forget our issues, we’ll forget to vote for you.”

    Yes, But they haven’t forgotten our issues!  See my first post.  So someone got a mailer which didn’t emphasize our issues, big deal.  That doesn’t mean they’ve been forgotten.  Most Americans can tell you that republicans are generally more pro-life, pro-family, and pro-Christian morals than democrats.  There has been a rising tide for pro-life sentiment in our country for nearly a decade, yet I fear it has been dealt a serious setback in ’06.  I think we need to stand behind the team a little bit here if we expect reciprocation.  It is NOWHERE near time to abandon ship.

     “We must fight for our values to be represented in the Republican party”  zephyr424

    Yes, we must fight nice, and support the people who do represent pro-life values, even though they will do it imperfectly.

     

    Avg number of innocent persons killed monthly in Iraq before US invasion:

    10,000

    Avg number of innocent persons killed monthly in Iraq after US invasion:

    3,000

    Hmm…

     

    Yes only by God’s grace will the abortion laws in our country be set straight.  So we should expect that grace at some point to get politicians to effect changes in our laws.

  • Guest

    Wow!  This has certainly gotten a lot of discussion going.

     

    First, on immigration.  The reality is that people (as in human persons) come here because we have jobs. The reality is that our economy is growing faster than our population.  If people don't want to have more kids and they want a robust economy, then let's accept the reality of immigration.  And make it legal for people to come here and find an available job.

     

    As for life, I agree that the 14th amendment would seem to indicate a right to life that cannot be usurped without due process.  Of course that is not the current reading of the words by the Supreme Court.  But it should be, and this is true whether 1% agree or 99% agree.

     

    The difficulty with dems & repubs is that what they mostly stand for is getting elected.  It's hard to find any defining principles that one can easily project how they will stand on a given issue.  Instead their platform is polls-based, not principles-based.  I will give Ron Paul and Sam Brownbeck byes on this statement, as they seems to have at least some internal logic to their positions.

  • Guest

    mkochan: I think two topics are being discussed on this post. One gets pretty particular about government etc. I am now referring to the "lesser" topic. The one concerned with, How does one cope politically speaking with an electorate that doesn't conform to our Cathiolic vision of things?

    I posed above a form of argument that we do in fact confront "out there",voiced by those oppopsed to our position on abortion, stem cell research, etc. Could we stick with that problem a bit?

    You had asked me, Do you support choice by the people given the fact of RoevWade etc ., and I replied, What other alternative did you have in mind. I would like you to answer that.

    Since you advocate a Human Life Amendment, I suppose you see RoevWade as unconstitutional. So in fact you do support the people's soveriengty since it is the people who must effect such an amendment, no?  

    Now, the problem re: abortion as I see it greatly turns, as we all too well are aware, on the definition of life- when it begins, when this embyo should be accorded  constitutuional rights of personhood and  equal protetction under the law including right to life. 

    The answer we Catholics give is one grounded in faith. There is no scientific litmus test that all comers might objectively just read off as "Yep, a person now." or, " No, not a person at this time."

    There is clear cut scientific argument for marking the very moment of fertilization that initiates the life of an embryo. There is wide agreement that the developing embyo is a sentient being.

    But there is no observable demarcation point in the life history of an embryo, no objective argument which is obligatory under the law for all members of this republic to accept proclaiming the embryo to be a living soul, or to belong to God, or to be a person….These are all up for grabs! And they inform the abortion debate.

    The same analogous arguments apply to the question of stem cell research.

    The arguments that we Catholics mount against abortion are religious through and through. Since our constitutuion recognizes freedom of speech, this religious voice can not be legally silenced, although suffering from a mounting denigration because perceived as anti American, inimical to free speech, anti-progressive, and contrary to First Amendment's protection aganist establishment. 

    There are wider and wider circles which argue that the invocation of perspicuous religious grounds and justifications on the town green of public discourse is not only ininical to public discouse and dialogue ( for example, see Richard Rorty's " Religion As A Conversation Stopper" ) but also contrary to the spirit of our democracy which eschews efforts to instantiate patently religious views as part of a greater effort to establish a quasi "democtaric theocracy."

    The fear of hegemonous movements functioning powerfully that might taint free debate by insinuating religion into politics underlay in the recent past's negative reaction against a growing and powerful " Moral Majority" which, in a real since, had sought to populate its political agenda and moral viewpoints patently right out of the Bible !  Candidates outside their circle were summarily dismissed or effectively denied free speech due to the tremendous power of that "Majority."

    So to re-istate the problem: How to be persuade our patently religious viewpoints about abortion and stem cell in the context of a culture not particularly welcoming of our type of arguments and grounds?      

  • Guest

    Lwall, I did not say I did not support choice by the people at all.  You completely misinterpreted my question of you.  I was asking if you believed that the people were still governing despite judicial usurpation of the representative legislating function.

    In the Roe v Wade decision the court itself said in effect that if it was ever demonstrated that human life began at the moment of conception, the court would have to rule for the right to life of the embryo. That has since been scientifically demonstrated.

    Since then however, the court has expanded the penumbra of privacy to include defining one's own meaning of life and said that the fact that American women plan their lives and sexual activity around having abortion available gives the "right" to abortion certain legal inertia. This kind of judicial reasoning no longer depends at all on the text of the constitution, obviously, nor on the intent of the framers, nor on the intent of any state's legislature insofar as it represents the will of the people.

    You are arguing against a bunch of stuff I never said or thought. The Church does not teach that the commandment against murder is theology or religion. It is natural law and I have always made that kind of argument against abortion.

  • Guest

    "The arguments that we Catholics mount against abortion are religious through and through." That has always been a correct statement Iwall, but more and more technology is supporting this argument scientifically. We can now see pictures of the baby and how it behaves and reacts like a living organism. There are incubators that will take a premature fetus and nurture it in it's struggle for life. There are even horrific shots of a fetus trying to avoid the abotrionist death instruments. That's science showing us that what's in there is life. We already knew that by faith. The same scientifically minded people will make it a law that the beach is not disturbed where the sea turtles laid their eggs. Why? because life is in process. You see they have a religion too. It's state sponsored and state funded while the moral majority is outside looking in.

  • Guest

    Nobody has a right to come to the US or anywhere else for work.  A billion people want to come here….literally.  So, if you draw immigration for jobs to its logical conclusion….completely open borders, how can our economy and society handle that?

    We are a nation of laws, I thought.  The reason our economy functions at a high level is because of our society and culture.

    The onus for economic growth should be on countries of origin.  It is not the responsibility of the US to fix the world's problems.  Mexico and Brazil along with much of Latin America have vast resources which have been squandered by corrupt officials.  They have caused much of the region's problems themselves.  People have a right to live in their own culture.  It is the duty of the Church to work toward that end instead of facilitating and encouraging migration for economic reasons.

    Further, and somewhat off the point, I think it is a disgrace that the US Church has been mining Latin America for priests by encouraging and helping priests come here.  (Even priests with absolutely no English).  Latin America has a much greater priest shortage than we do.  It is a sin against justice to rob people in such dire need of priests, yet these priests, who are called to serve in their country, continue to flood to the US aided by the US BIshops.

    It is right and just for stable nations to offer short term sanctuary to victims of war and persecution.  However, this is not the scenario regarding the influx of primarily Mexicans across the border.

    I believe the reason this issue of illegal and out of control immigration resonates strongly with many people is precisely because we ARE a nation of immigrants.  Most of us understand the costs that we ourselves or our forefathers bore in order to come to America and make a better life.  We have given up homeland, language, culture, and family.  In a way, what Americans have given up, is what binds us together as one.  Therefore, we are insulted by the ongoing march for Spanish/English communication.  We are offended by the Mexican flag being flown side by side with  Old Glory and amnesty for law breakers who cut to the front of the line and then cry family hardship ("anchor baby" laws should be erased).  There is a cost to citizenship and most of us have felt the pinch of the bill!

  • Guest

    mkochan: Thanks for clarification of your question which seems to ask whether the people's will has been usurped by the judiciary. If that is a correct reading of your question the only answer can be that that judgnent is itself a determination to be made by the judiciary and/or a popular referendum.

    The fixing of when "human life" begins will turn upon the meaning of human as in fully human, or enough life to reasonably assert extra-uterine viability, or enough to asert the personhood of an embyo…that is what will be put into the caldron and has been already. Convergence on when life begins in utero does not solve the debate.

  • Guest

    "extra-uterine viability", Iwall you are scientific. It's people like you who we need to convince because you are convincable. We need all the fragments put together and on our side. Faith is not unreasonable. "Come let us reason together" says the Lord. That's what we're after here.

    Elkabrikir, the elephant as the massive protector of life is the main topic but your pet issue here would go four pages of comments. Here's a hint Mary.

  • Guest

    Forgive me for not taking this hint — but Elkabrikir is very welcome to submit an article about it.

  • Guest

    I don't know how to write!

  • Guest

    Elkabrikir, just start writing and the Holy Spirit will guide your thoughts and hand. In our comments we'll then tell you what's wrong with it.

  • Guest

    No kidding! LOL.

  • Guest

    mkocah et al: N.B. : I am following the lines of our adversary's pro-abortion argument in order to hone our skills. mkochan…Attention! Please stop saying, " It's people like you we need to convince…". I am playing a part here, I thought I made that abundantly clear.

    I have seen nothing thus far very convincing!

    Besides, everyone is avoiding answering the question put in the last sentence of my 8/28 post @ 6:42 am.

    mkocahn, please do some reasoning for an anonymous skeptic out there – that a one cell human being is an ensouled human person owed all the rights to life under our constitution. You had said that "faith" is resonable. Make the argument if you will without invoking precepts of our faith or any faith whatever.

    One poster even wrote of how the fetus reacts to pain and avoids attempts at the abortion as if reaction to pain constituted proof of human personhood.

    Will that argument – if it is an argument – convince our opponents that abortion is taking the life of a human person? No one doubts there is human life. That is not at issue. The issue seems to be whether that life is also a human person. There is the unerlying presupposition that only  human persons fqualify for moral consideration.

  • Guest

    Iwall, you're playing a good part and none of my barbs at you were ad hominem. This is starting to wear me out a bit but how about this: There have been cases of a double murder conviction against a person who killed a pregnant mother. There is legal thinking here that we could use. Actually the Chief Justice has put an opinion out whether the courts can rule on this issue at all, one way or the other. Perhaps that's a start because we are certainly not going to convince anyone quoting the bible. It's not the right day in this nation for that.

  • Guest

    Lwall, you attributed a line of thinking to me that was not mine.  Now you have attributed a post to me that was not mine.

    I have actually written on this very subject before and will again, but I prefer to save long, complex arguments for columns rather than put them in comment posts. Also I am not always at liberty to engage in drawn out discussions if people are going to wake up in the morning and find new articles on this site.

    Meanwhile this might help satisfy you: http://www.catholicexchange.com/node/52859

  • Guest

    lwall,

    I don't know if this is your intention, but you are heading us into a cornucopia of well-developed thinking which has been abundantly published, but here we go.

    The personhood of the human life. What makes a human a person?

     

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