Friday, March 26, 2010

Gays Openly Serving in the Military

The issue of gays openly serving in the military continues to percolate. Over at the Center for Military Readiness (CMR), they are asking whether we will now have a European-style military given the passage of our new, European-style health care. In a report that makes for very interesting reading, General John Sheehan offered testimony on March 18th at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing which kind of took the wind out of the sails of his interrogator's attempts to minimize and normalize an openly gay military.
Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) asked whether the general had discussed the issue [of gays in the military] with them. “Did they tell you that they had unit cohesion or morale problems?” Much to Levin’s surprise, Sheehan answered “Yes” and proceeded to provide details.
Just as Obamacare is less about health care reform and more about a socialist-type direction for the United States, gay activists and their enablers in our society seem to welcome a de-fanged and soft military after the fashion of those in Europe. The particular case discussed in this report is the Dutch army. The report goes on,
The hearing transcript reveals that Gen. Sheehan's most insightful points about military culture went right over the head of Senator Levin and others present at the hearing. When Dutch officials decided to embrace peacekeeping as the primary mission of their military, embracing unionism and social goals more suited to a civilian institution, combat effectiveness suffered. Then and now, this issue is all about priorities.
Gen. Sheehan warned against a similar transformation of America’s military. “Our enemies, especially the extremists, do not care how enlightened or progressive our culture may be. The only thing that matters is the effectiveness on the battlefield.”
The Dutch ambassador countered General Sheehan's remarks by "expressing pride" in his country's gays and lesbians who serve. I hear similar comments about the wonderful things gays have contributed to the U.S. military, comments which are similarly completely irrelevant. The military doesn't exist to promote the self-esteem or success of any one individual much less some group that has decided they are due for recognition.

CMR continues to keep the priorities straight by constantly reminding that the question is not whether we are proud that some specific-identity group is serving in the military but whether or not their service is an improvement or a setback for the success of a strong U.S. military. This report drives home the point that the United States should not prioritize social engineering in its military as many European countries have done.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Iraq Vets for Congress and Combat Veterans for Congress

Fighting back seems to be the order of the day after Obama bullied Americans and imposed on us his health care bill. (Or as Sen. Baucus called it, the bill that will address the "mal-distribution of income in America.") Among the various groups that are organizing, there is the Senate Conservatives Fund here with a petition pledge to vote only for those candidates who will repeal the health care bill. Hugh Hewitt continues to promote the National Republican Congressional Committee here , which appears to have a similar goal. Just today I got a call from the Republican National Committee asking for money to take back the Congress, but Michael Steele fails to impress and has not been that much of a friend to conservatives.

There are two other groups that are keeping tabs on up-and-coming contenders for congressional seats. They are Iraq Veterans for Congress and Combat Veterans for Congress. While I don't know their views on health care, it's certainly worth keeping an eye on these candidates for the same reasons that I wrote about concerning Allen Griffith and Lt. Col. Allen West (who is endorsed by both veterans groups). At American Thinker, Alan Fraser summarizes here a Harris Poll which reveals that Americans have the most confidence in leaders who come from the military. It's also noteworthy that all the veterans are Republicans, as will be anyone else in Congress who will work to repeal this wealth re-distribution, that is, health care bill.

As Hugh Hewitt and Erick Ericson constantly remind their audiences, even if these candidates aren't in our districts, we can support them by donating to their campaigns.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Prayer and Sacrifice to Defeat ObamaCare

Yesterday, the Sisters of Life sent out an e-mail to those of us on their list, inviting any and all of us to join them in prayer and fasting concerning Obama's health care bill. In the words of Mother Agnes Mary, the Sisters will be praying through the night "begging the Lord of Life to protect our nation from the onslaught of abortion and from the marginalizing of Christians in the public square by denying us the right to act on our conscience." She concludes her letter by writing, "May we support the weak, encourage the faint-hearted, and console the sorrowing by our prayers and sacrifices. May the Lord of all be glorified."

Friday, March 19, 2010

"Bishop Prays for Demise of Health Care Bill", the Vatican news agency, isn't usually the source of a good laugh, but I thought one of their recent headlines was uncharacteristically humorous: Bishop Prays for Demise of Health Care Bill .

The title of the article is suggesting that while Obama and Pelosi are praying for 216 votes to pass their health care bill, Bishop Loverde in the nearby Archdiocese of Arlington, VA, is praying for 215 votes to defeat it.

The mental image of Obama and Pelosi stopping off to pray to God for passage of their bill as they bully and bribe their way through the halls of Congress is kind of funny-- for a moment. It's also a bit tongue-in-cheek of the Zenit writer to suggest that Bishop Loverde is urging us to pray for 215 votes.

Rather, as the article adopts a more serious tone, Bishop Loverde urges us to pray for a conversion of hearts and minds and that means we are to pray for the Obamas and Pelosis, the renegade nuns who support Obama's bill, the Doug Kmiecs, the Joe Bidens and all those Obama Catholics who voted to put this callow, unprincipled man into the office of president. The bishop says, " Through our fasting and prayers, we ask the Lord to lead the hearts and minds of our nation's leaders as they make crucial decisions concerning the protection of life."

The bishop is reminding us to pray for our enemies! I confess to stumbling over Obama's name when I do attempt to include the likes of our president in my prayers, but the bishop's statement is also a reminder that God does hear us and he does answer prayer. Kind of ironic that, in yesterday's Bible reading, Moses reminds us of that. After the Israelites erected the Golden Calf, God told Moses that He had had enough of this "stiff-necked" people and that He intended to let His anger "burn hot against them" and "consume them." But Moses confronted God and interceded on behalf of his fellow wanderers, and God changed his mind.

In the present situation, I'm inclined to pray that God would consume most of Congress along with President Obama as quickly as possible, but that's not the idea here. Our own New York Archdiocese has all the information one needs to follow the true Catholic position on the health care issue including this prayer:

That Congress will act to ensure that needed health care reform will truly protect the life, dignity and health care of all and that we will raise our voices to protect the unborn and the most vulnerable and to preserve our freedom of conscience. We pray to the Lord.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Archbishop Chaput of Denver is again in the news, this time on the health care issue and the support that some supposedly Catholic groups are giving to the Senate version of the bill. The Archbishop makes three points about what he calls a "bad bill that will result in bad law."
First, the Catholic bishops of the United States have pressed for real national health-care reform in this country for more than half a century. They began long before either political party or the public media found it convenient. That commitment hasn’t changed. Nor will it.
Second, the bishops have tried earnestly for more than seven months to work with elected officials to craft reform that would serve all Americans in a manner respecting minimum moral standards. The failure of their effort has one source. It comes entirely from the stubbornness and evasions of certain key congressional leaders, and the unwillingness of the White House to honor promises made by the president last September.
Third, the health-care reform debate has never been merely a matter of party politics. Nor is it now. Democratic Congressman Bart Stupak and a number of his Democratic colleagues have shown extraordinary character in pushing for good health-care reform while resisting attempts to poison it with abortion-related entitlements and other bad ideas that have nothing to do with real “health care.” Many Republicans share the goal of decent health-care reform, even if their solutions would differ dramatically. To put it another way, few persons seriously oppose making adequate health services available for all Americans. But God, or the devil, is in the details -- and by that measure, the current Senate version of health-care reform is not merely defective, but also a dangerous mistake.
To those "Catholic" groups who support the bill, the Archbishop says:

Groups, trade associations and publications describing themselves as “Catholic” or “prolife” that endorse the Senate version – whatever their intentions – are doing a serious disservice to the nation and to the Church, undermining the witness of the Catholic community; and ensuring the failure of genuine, ethical health-care reform. By their public actions, they create confusion at exactly the moment Catholics need to think clearly about the remaining issues in the health-care debate. They also provide the illusion of moral cover for an unethical piece of legislation.

Archbishop Chaput concludes his column by advising us not to be "misled," and says, "In its current content, the Senate version of health-care legislation is not “reform.” Catholics and other persons of good will concerned about the foundations of human dignity should oppose it."

Stand With Stupak

At this point in the health care debate, I don't know if I correctly understand where Rep. Bart Stupak stands, but I do like the video that helped put together.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Dr. Daines and Sugar and Salt

Who knew that Dr. Richard Daines is a New York state health commissioner. I certainly didn't until I received one of those 'government' e-mails from him on March 12th, via Governor Paterson's office. Dr. Daines agrees with First Lady Michelle about fat people, namely, he doesn't like 'em and he doesn't want 'em around!

Dr. Daines says that fat people are just too darn expensive (to the tune of $7.6 billion a year), and, therefore, he urges us New Yorkers to support Governor Paterson's proposed tax on soft drinks (not fruit juice, mind you, just soft drinks). Dr. Daines goes on to explain to us numbskulls that, "many New Yorkers don’t realize that sixty percent of us are obese or overweight."

Us? Speak for yourself, doc. I'm neither obese nor overweight. I am also not fat, pudgy, tubby or chubby.

However, even non-fatties like me are targets for our nation's diet police. reported last week that New York Assemblyman Felix Ortiz (a Democrat from Brooklyn) along with New York City's Mayor Bloomberg now want to ban salt. A good response can be found at My Food My Choice. As the website says, such a ban is "not based on sound science, but on political science and alarmism." They also have a petition to protect New York City's '"diverse cuisine."

Friday, March 12, 2010

Women and Girls at the United Nations

The 54th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the United Nations winds up this week. The theme of the conference this year is supposed to be an examination of the Millenium Development Goals as well as a review of the Beijing Conference on Women, but apparently the conference has concerned itself largely with matters of maternal mortality and the role of women at the UN.

The maternal mortality issue at the UN often becomes a way to promote abortion, with feminist groups advancing the (specious) argument that women, especially in Third World countries, die in childbirth because they don't have access to legal abortions. In actuality, women from these countries report that what they need is potable water, better sanitation, more medical facilities and the means to travel to those facilities, not more access to abortion. The CSW conference, like most of what goes on at the UN, appears innocent enough on the surface, but scratch around a bit and deception and spin abound.

I've been following some of the reports from the conference through the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute, C-Fam. Their report about the Girl Scouts is particularly disheartening. C-Fam reports that the Girl Scouts hosted a side event at the conference where they distributed the International Planned Parenthood Foundation (IPPF) brochure called 'Healthy, Happy and Hot.' Take a look at it here.

The brochure is directed at youth and seems to be mostly about living with HIV/Aids (as if every young person is plagued by the disease?), but the IPPF also sees fit to include pretty explicit instructions on how young people can enjoy sex. In addition, they have a direct message to young people on how to keep parents out of the picture in areas having nothing to do with HIV/Aids.

Many communities have centres that offer youth-friendly health services. These are places where you can access information and health services to help you take care of your sexual health, like STI tests and advice on condoms and contraceptives. They often have hours that are convenient for young people, and staff who understand young people,will not judge you and will treat you with respect. You should find out whether there any centres near to you where you can go without needing the permission of your parents or guardians.
To those readers who support the work of Planned Parenthood, consider if you would whether the organization's stated goal of being "a leading advocate of sexual and reproductive health and rights for all" should include advising young people on how to have sex and how to keep their parents out of the picture. Planned Parenthood and its parent organization, IPPF, have ignominious roots anyway with eugenicist Margaret Sanger (and here and here) as their inspiration. But, even ignoring that, how do women and mothers rationalize Planned Parenthood's world-wide promotion of abortion (under the euphemism of 'reproductive rights') and their indoctrination of young people about sex and their supposed sexual 'rights.'

Last year I had the privilege of attending the CSW conference, which included going to a side event where I sat next to a group of Girl Scouts in attendance as part of the audience. One of the girls, clearly intent on being assertive and engaging as a professional female should be, introduced herself to me and shook my hand. As the workshop unfolded and we heard about every form of lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and trans-gender problem around the world, I couldn't help but wonder if these obviously eager and well-mannered teen-age girls from the mid-West knew what they were getting into.

This year I had the pleasure of hearing about the CSW conference from a group of students from Christendom College who, with C-Fam, have been working at the conference this year to support family and the dignity of life, something sorely needed at the United Nations.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Archbishop Chaput on Church and State

Back in November of 2009 when Rep. Patrick Kennedy challenged the American bishops regarding their stance on abortion coverage in Obama's health care takeover, Kennedy's bishop, Rev. Thomas Tobin, responded with a few words about the role of faith in the life of a public servant. Bishop Tobin was very clear that a politican's first obligation is to his faith (the 1:20 mark on the video to be exact).

Just recently, on March 1, Archbishop Chaput of Denver, spoke on the subject again at Houston Baptist University. Chaput clarifies a bit of history on this point by unraveling how, in 1960, John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic to run for president of the United States, distorted the matter of separation between church and state and helped set the ground work for the Patrick Kennedys, the Ted Kennedys, the Pelosis, Bidens, Cuomos, Sebeliuses and all the other Catholics in public office today who sacrifice the teachings of their faith for worldly, political gain.

Chaput notes that, contrary to the impression many have and that Kennedy's speech then promoted, our Constitution doesn't call for a separation of church and state.
Early in his remarks, Kennedy said: "I believe in an America where the
separation of Church and state is absolute." Given the distrust historically shown to Catholics in this country, his words were shrewdly chosen. The trouble is, the Constitution doesn't say that. The Founders and Framers didn't believe that. And the history of the United States contradicts that. Unlike revolutionary leaders in Europe, the American Founders looked quite favorably on religion.
It wasn't until a Supreme Court decision arose in 1947 that the now, oft-quoted letter in which Thomas Jefferson used the phrase came to light.
Thus, the modern, drastic sense of the "separation of Church and state" had little force in American consciousness until Justice Hugo Black excavated it from a private letter President Thomas Jefferson wrote in 1802 to the Danbury Baptist Association.4 Justice Black then used Jefferson's phrase in the Supreme Court's Everson v. Board of Education decision in 1947.
But there's more. Chaput explains that in 1948 Catholic bishops wrote a response, a rebuttal really, to the Court's decision. The bishops explained,
"It would be an utter distortion of American history and law" to force the nation's public institutions into an "indifference to religion and the exclusion of cooperation between religion and government . . ." They rejected Justice Black's harsh new sense of the separation of Church and state as a "shibboleth of doctrinaire secularism."5 And the bishops argued their case from the facts of American history.
But there's still more. To make matters worse, Kennedy quoted the bishops' letter, but not the part about the importance of faith in public life!

I'm inclined to rant on about the irony and injustice of JFK, a Catholic, helping to bring about the secularization of our culture, especially our political culture. It's so satisfying to point the finger at others. However, reading all the way to the end of the Archbishop's speech, he reminds all Christians that, " Our job is to love God, preach Jesus Christ, serve and defend God's people, and sanctify the world as his agents."

How to carry out this job is a little thorny at times, especially when encountering a culture that on the surface seems so satisfied with relativism, spiritualism, multiculturalism and all the other isms that have replaced Christian faith. Here are Archbishop Chaput's words given at the end of his speech as he enjoins us to rebuild the Christian principles our country was founded on.
May God grant us the grace to love each other, support each other and live wholly for each other in Jesus Christ—so that we might work together in renewing the nation that has served human freedom so well.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

More on Women in the Military

I came across this radio interview with host Jim Hanson of Blackfive and Genevieve Chase who is one of the founders of American Women Veterans. Her organization is advocating for a re-evaluation of policy concerning women in the military so that official regulations reflect the reality of how women are currently serving. Apparently, women are already finding themselves 'outside the wire' in vulnerable situations where they are drawn into combat situations (think Jessica Lynch in 2003?). Commanding officers are then in the unenviable and difficult position of having to explain why women are in places where they technically should not be.

Chase's group is not promoting the entrance of women into combat roles and Chase herself is skeptical about the recently-lifted restriction against women serving on submarines (although her skepticism seems based more on the fact that the women who will be selected to serve aren't experienced enough and less skeptical about the fact that they're female). She claims only to want policy that recognizes how women are performing in and contributing to the military today. But, she gets caught up in the current cultural obsession with individual rights trumping the common good. She uses that familiar "I don't care if you're black, yellow, white or female, if you're qualified physically and you want to be a soldier, you should be able to serve."

The military exists to serve the larger society, not to satisfy the dreams and goals of its individual citizens. It is an institution with a specific mission and responsibility. It should accept those most qualified to carry out the mission of the institution and those who will permit the institution to operate responsibly.

I'm reluctantly yielding to the notion that there are valuable ways women can contribute to the military (see here), but I'm not convinced that it can be done without feminizing the military in ways that will compromise its quality.