Charting a New Course in the New Year

January 2, 2009 by Kenneth Connor  
Filed under Culture, Faith, Headlines, Politics

“Out with the old, in with the new!”

Rarely have those words been uttered with more enthusiasm than at the beginning of 2009.

2008 was an historic and unsettling year.  Our economy imploded, the President abandoned free market principles “in order to save the free market system,” and government assumed an unprecedented role in financing our economy.  Business magnates, from bankers to automakers, pleaded for a bailout—and got one from Uncle Sugar.  Gas prices took a roller coaster ride, soaring, then plunging in the second half of the year.  Political and celebrity scandals abounded, from John Edwards’ and Eliot Spitzer’s infidelities to Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s pay to play scandal to Britney Spear’s meltdown and resurgence.  Things were so chaotic on the domestic front that some almost forgot that there was a war going on.  Not surprisingly, Americans voted for “change” and elected their first African-American as President.  The Democrats took control of both houses of Congress and Republicans were kicked to the curb.

But rather than dwell on the best and worst of 2008, it may be a better use of our time to look ahead to what’s in store for our country in the new year.

The dawning of a new year is always an exciting time.  We celebrate it by popping corks on champagne bottles, lighting sparklers, and watching the big ball drop in Times Square.  We get together with friends and loved ones and count down the hours, minutes, and seconds until the new year.  The celebration is important, for the advent of a new year is a symbol of what is to come, of new beginnings, resolutions, renewal, and the hopes of all to be better and to live better in the year to come.

This new year provides us with a new opportunity to improve on the sorry state of politics and the economy in our country.  Our culture’s character was on display during 2008.  We paid a high price for the lack of it and we have a chance for reform in 2009.

The new year provides us with the opportunity to reinstitute the notions of virtue and moderation as important guideposts in the conduct of our business and financial affairs.  For far too long, the marketplace has been viewed as a virtue-free zone—a place were “self-interest” operated free of moral restraints.  This attitude has turned something good (a free market economy) into a system where the interests of others were irrelevant to our economic decision making.  As a result, radical self interest and unrestrained greed characterized many of our transactions.  The housing debacle provides a good example.  Home buyers bought more house than they could afford, unhesitatingly misrepresenting their financial capacity to repay their loans.  Lenders encouraged irresponsible loans in exchange for handsome up front fees because they expected to pass the risk to downstream institutions like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, who, in turn, packaged the bad loans as securities and sold them to investors who were looking for unprecedented returns.  All the way along the line, the participants were looking out only for themselves.  They were unconcerned for the welfare of any other party to the transaction.  This lack of virtue and restraint was commonplace in the broader markets and resulted in a financial meltdown, the likes of which haven’t been seen since The Great Depression.

Aristotle showed great insight into the nature of man when he said, “The virtue of justice consists in moderation, as regulated by wisdom.”  This moderation (or restraint) which is necessary for a flourishing free market economy has been virtually absent in the business practices which led to our current economic calamity.  All of us would do well to adopt it in the new year.

How often have we been tempted to buy something we couldn’t afford?  To keep up with the Joneses?  To regard entertainment as more important than responsible behavior?  The new year provides us with an opportunity to reclaim financial responsibility not only for our own interests, but also for the interests of others.  Perhaps we will once again realize that our financial decisions impact others, that personal responsibility is good for all people, ourselves included, and that thrift and savings do not merit scorn and derision.

What has been true in the economic arena has been no less true in the political arena.  Virtue and moderation have been anything but the hallmarks of American political behavior in the last year.  A spirit of hyper partisanship has fostered a continuation of the politics of personal destruction.  The smallest amount of blood in the water resulted in a veritable feeding frenzy as each party sought to capitalize on the political peccadilloes of their opponents.  The conduct of Ted Stevens, William Jefferson, and Rod Blagojevich were emblematic of public servants who had lost their way and put their own interests ahead of the interests of their constituents.  Hopefully, the excesses of the last year will point out the need for a recovery of virtue and moderation in the political arena in the coming new year.

Indeed, this new year presents all of us with the opportunity for the renewal of virtue and restraint in our political and economic affairs.  Two thousand years ago, the apostle Paul exhorted his co-worker Titus: “Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and to show true humility toward all men.” (Titus 3:1-2 NIV)  Paul’s advice is as good now as it was then.  We will all do well to take his instruction to heart and to pursue these virtues in every dimension of our lives in this coming new year.

Ken Connor is an attorney and co-author of “Sinful Silence: When Christians Neglect Their Civic Duty”  He is also Chairman of the Center for a Just Society. For more articles and resources from Mr. Connor and the Center for a Just Society, go to www.centerforajustsociety.org.

               

Is Abortion a “Constitutional Right” worthy of tax money?

September 19, 2008 by Eric James Wilson  
Filed under Politics


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By now, there should be little doubt that the Democratic party is committed to protecting a woman’s so-called right to choose an abortion.  This is a policy supported by the highest levels of the party as evidenced in the remarks of Sen. Biden and Speaker Pelosi. Sen. Obama has stated his support for the barbaric practice of partial-birth abortion and legislation to protect babies who survived botched abortions.

Unfortunately, Democrats have given even greater cause for those who support life to be afraid of the change they promise. As others have pointed out, the Democrats are no longer committed to keeping abortions rare as has been their previous position.  Adding insult to injury, the Democratic Party has nailed another little noticed plank in its platform (as it did in 2004 and 2000) that goes beyond their “strong” and “unequivocal” support for Rove V. Wade and their claim that “safe” and legal abortion is a fundamental right like those guaranteed in our Constitution.

According to the platform adopted just last month at their convention, Democrats support “a woman’s right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay.” The phrase, “regardless of ability to pay” frequently comes up in discussions about the “right” to health care.  This deception should remind us there’s no such thing as a free lunch.  Obviously, someone always has to pay and in this case it will be American taxpayers’ expense.

It goes without saying that if Democrats are successful in advancing legislation to provide abortions at taxpayer expense it will constitute a tremendous violation of conscience.  Legal, on-demand abortion is already a horrible reality, but forcing millions of Americans who oppose the practice on strict religious and personal grounds to fund its expansion would be nothing short of tyrannical.

If, as Democrats argue, abortion is a right, like the right to freedom of speech or the right to keep and bear arms, it is unique among Constitutional rights in its guarantee, regardless of ability to pay.  Imagine saying, we affirm our unwavering support of individuals’ right to worship as they choose, regardless of ability to pay.  Or worse, we unequivocally support an individual’s right to keep and bear arms, regardless of ability to pay.

The Constitution recognizes the rights of individuals that come from their Creator.  It does not guarantee that these rights will be fully funded.  I have the right to worship as I please, but American taxpayers aren’t on the hook for paying for my priest’s salary or the electric bill for the Church.  Similarly, if I weren’t a resident of the District of Columbia, I would have the right to own a handgun, but the American taxpayers don’t buy me ammo.

I think it’s safe to say the Democrats’ claim that women have a “right” to a “safe” and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, fails the duck test.  If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it probably is a duck.  This so-called “right” to an abortion bears no similarity to any of our other Constitutional rights and common sense should tell us that Democrats are altogether wrong about their plan to pay for abortions with taxpayer dollars.

               

Biden loses the Catholic Vote for Obama

September 19, 2008 by Taylor Marshall  
Filed under Politics


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Gerald Warner at the Telegraph has written a scathing article against Barack Obama’s choice of Joe Biden in the VP slot entitled: “Joe Biden loses Barack Obama the Catholic vote“.

Here are some fun facts from Warner about the demographics of the Catholic vote in the United States:

There are 47 million Catholic voters in the United States. One quarter of all registered voters are Catholics. At every presidential election in the past 30 years the Catholic vote has gone to the winning candidate, except for Al Gore in 2000. This year 41 per cent of Catholics are independents – up from 30 per cent in 2004. Psephologists claim practising Catholics were the decisive factor in the crucial swing states in 2004: in Ohio 65 per cent of Catholics voted for Bush, in Florida 66 per cent. They were drifting away in disillusionment from the Republicans and split 50-50, until Joe Biden worked his magic. This is electoral suicide by the Democrats.

Hat tip to Walker Dollahon.

               

Denver Bishops confront Sen. Biden

September 9, 2008 by Taylor Marshall  
Filed under Faith

Archbishop Charles Chaput and Auxiliary Bishop James Conley of Denver have released a statement in response to the abortion comments of Senator Joseph Biden on Sunday’s edition of NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Joseph Biden is Barack Obama’s running mate on the Democratic presidential ticket.

To Catholics of the Archdiocese of Denver:

When Catholics serve on the national stage, their actions and words impact the faith of Catholics around the country. As a result, they open themselves to legitimate scrutiny by local Catholics and local bishops on matters of Catholic belief. In 2008, although NBC probably didn’t intend it, Meet the Press has become a national window on the flawed moral reasoning of some Catholic public servants.

On August 24, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, describing herself as an ardent, practicing Catholic, misrepresented the overwhelming body of Catholic teaching against abortion to the show’s nationwide audience, while defending her “pro-choice” abortion views. On September 7, Sen. Joseph Biden compounded the problem to the same Meet the Press audience.

Sen. Biden is a man of distinguished public service. That doesn’t excuse poor logic or bad facts. Asked when life begins, Sen. Biden said that, “it’s a personal and private issue.” But in reality, modern biology knows exactly when human life begins: at the moment of conception. Religion has nothing to do with it. People might argue when human “personhood” begins – though that leads public policy in very dangerous directions – but no one can any longer claim that the beginning of life is a matter of religious opinion.

Sen. Biden also confused the nature of pluralism. Real pluralism thrives on healthy, non-violent disagreement; it requires an environment where people of conviction will struggle respectfully but vigorously to advance their beliefs. In his interview, the senator observed that other people with strong religious views disagree with the Catholic approach to abortion. It’s certainly true that we need to acknowledge the views of other people and compromise whenever possible – but not at the expense of a developing child’s right to life. Abortion is a foundational issue; it is not an issue like housing policy or the price of foreign oil. It always involves the intentional killing of an innocent life, and it is always, grievously wrong. If, as Sen. Biden said, “I’m prepared as a matter of faith [emphasis added] to accept that life begins at the moment of conception,” then he is not merely wrong about the science of new life; he also fails to defend the innocent life he already knows is there.

As the senator said in his interview, he has opposed public funding for abortions. To his great credit, he also backed a successful ban on partial-birth abortions. But his strong support for the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade and the false “right” to abortion it enshrines, can’t be excused by any serious Catholic. Support for Roe and the “right to choose” an abortion simply masks what abortion is, and what abortion does. Roe is bad law. As long as it stands, it prevents returning the abortion issue to the states where it belongs, so that the American people can decide its future through fair debate and legislation.

In his Meet the Press interview, Sen. Biden used a morally exhausted argument that American Catholics have been hearing for 40 years: i.e., that Catholics can’t “impose” their religiously based views on the rest of the country. But resistance to abortion is a matter of human rights, not religious opinion. And the senator knows very well as a lawmaker that all law involves the imposition of some people’s convictions on everyone else. That is the nature of the law. American Catholics have allowed themselves to be bullied into accepting the destruction of more than a million developing unborn children a year. Other people have imposed their “pro-choice” beliefs on American society without any remorse for decades.

If we claim to be Catholic, then American Catholics, including public officials who describe themselves as Catholic, need to act accordingly. We need to put an end to Roe and the industry of permissive abortion it enables. Otherwise all of us – from senators and members of Congress, to Catholic laypeople in the pews – fail not only as believers and disciples, but also as citizens.

+Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
Archbishop of Denver

+James D. Conley
Auxiliary Bishop of Denver

               

Why the Democrats are fighting a losing fight against Palin

September 7, 2008 by Taylor Marshall  
Filed under Politics

Americans finally have an open window into the minds of the Democratic party and the liberal media.

Sarah Palin has revealed the Left’s deep disgust for motherhood, children, and infants that are typically “unwanted”. They have been bragging for twenty years that their daughters could grow up to do anything that their sons might do – and now they have unwittingly declared themselves as hypocrites.

According to the Left, we rightwingers, evangelicals, conservatives, practicing Catholics, and religious fanatics are the perennial hypocrites. The Left has been throwing stones for so long that they have forgotten that their house is made of glass.

The Left’s glass house has shattered and now they are running around cutting their feet on the broken glass. Meanwhile, McCain is stomping through the mess with his combat boots accompanied by his VP in heels. This is becoming interesting.

               

Catholic Bishops respond to Nancy Pelosi

September 7, 2008 by Taylor Marshall  
Filed under Faith

The American Papist has created a list of Catholic Bishops who have issued statements about remarks made by Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on Meet The Press.

Here is the complete list of American bishops who have responded to Nancy Pelosi’s comments so far:

1. Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver was the first American bishop to respond
2. Bishop James Conley, his auxiliary, joined him
3. Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington DC responded twice, first in a press release and second in a statement to The Hill. He has also appeared on Fox News, I am told.
4. Cardinal Justin Regali of Philadelphia, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities, issued this statement through the USCCB website…
5. Bishop William Lori of Bridgeport, chairman of the Committee on Doctrine, joined him
6. Cardinal Edward Egan of New York publised a strongly worded statement of his own
7. Bishop Samuel Aquila of Fargo issued a letter correcting Pelosi’s claims
8. Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh
9. Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs have chimed-in
10. Archbishop Jose Gomez of San Antonio, CNA reports has added his voice …
11. Bishop Oscar Cantu, his auxiliary bishop, has joined him
12. Bishop William Murphy of Rockville has published an extensive letter
13. Bishop Edward Slatter of Tulsa adds himself to the list
14. Bishop Kevin Farrell of Dallas has joined the USCCB’s efforts
15. Bishop Gregory Aymond of Austin is on-board
16. Bishop James Slattery of Tulsa has a detailed response
17. Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston mentions the USCCB on his blog
18. Bishop Thomas Wenski of Orlando has written at length
19. Archbishop John Nienstedt of Saint Paul/Minneapolis challenges Pelosi’s statement
20. Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, President of the US Bishops, has weighed-in
21. Bishop Robert Vasa of Baker, OR publishes in the Catholic Sentinel
22. Bishop Jerome Listecki of La Crosse, WI responds in a word document
23. Bishop Joseph Gossman of Raleigh, N C responds to the misrepresentation
24. Bishop Richard Lennon of Cleveland, OH will comment in his September 5th column
25. Bishop Ralph Nickless of Sioux City, IA has one of the very best responses I’ve read
26. Archbishop George Niederauer of San Francisco has invited Pelosi to a “conversation

Hat tip to What Does The Prayer Really Say? by