Friday, September 7, 2012

Quick Takes: The Democratic National Convention Edition

I'm getting political today, and yes, I have very strong opinions when it comes to politics. So, if you really dislike me, you may hate me by the end, yikes. You've been warned! ;)

I am replacing the Quick Takes logo today with the logo of the Democratic Abortion Convention Democratic National Convention, to set the tone for today's theme:

Which brings us to our first Take...

1) Why are the Democratic logos so creepy, communist-style, Dear Leader, hero worship, father figure with happy children-citizens, faux egalitarian in their design? Seriously, it looks like it could work in North Korea.

2) One conclusion drawn from the Sandra Fluke speech: She absolutely identifies primarily as a victim of unthinkable oppression. Sheesh lady, cry me a river with your private Georgetown law degree. You are a well-fed, comfortable, spoiled, First World woman of leisure just like the rest of us. Did you not get the memo? No one is silencing your big mouth anymore than they are silencing mine. Gimme a break.

Can someone tell me again why I have to lose my religious freedom for a pack of her easily accessed $9 neutering chemicals? And can someone explain how whimpering and sniveling for free contraception is the very measure of the "empowered" feminist today? Why are modern feminists too weak and dependent to navigate Walgreens?

Sandra, I wish you could meet some of the women I know and get some inspiration! Talk about strong women! They are educated and well-read, they are fabulous wives to their beloved husbands, they manage households and finances, they raise broods of children, educate those children, adopt special needs orphans, have careers, volunteer at church and for the poor, are active in politics and have a roaring good time over a meal and margarita with friends while looking darn cute in those shoes -- and they do not whiiiiiiiine over what they don't geeeeeeet from the government, and they don't scream "I'm a victim!" "I'm oppressed!" "I've been silenced!" in the freest, greatest, most prosperous nation on earth.

If either of my daughters acted like Sandra Fluke, I would have failed as a mother. You think I'm exaggerating? Check it out -- the obvious hero of Democrats and the very poster child for women's oppression. Fair warning: It's painful to watch.

Special note: Within the first 47 seconds, she has told two demonstrable lies, which she herself knows are lies. First, the hearing was on religious liberty, not contraception, and she has no expertise thereof that would qualify her to testify before Congress. Second, there were two women on that panel, not zero. Unless the women were ghosts. Or holograms. Or maybe Ms. Fluke is blind. Or maybe she's just lying. I'll let you decide how she got that so wrong. After the first lies, they just kept coming. Dear God, they never stopped.

Anyway, could I say it any clearer? Ms. Fluke does not speak for me, my daughters, my sister, my mother, my aunts, or my friends. Classical feminists, I am so sorry for what they've done to your feminism. Weep for us.

3) I thought Sandra Fluke was the low point of the Convention, but I was proven wrong on Thursday night. Let me preface by saying that I have heard an endless string of scandalous statements from Catholic Democrats in my day, from Pelosi to Biden to Sebelius and so many more. But Caroline Kennedy took the cake. The venue, the premeditation, the thoughtful design that went into it…. I still can't believe it.

Caroline Kennedy invoked her Catholicism to advocate for unfettered abortion in America. Let me restate: She used the very fact of her Catholicism to champion the cause of abortion on demand. Oh, yes she did. So that those hearing her would think it's okay to be a Catholic and advocate for abortion!
"As a Catholic woman [oh, yes, she placed her religion exactly at this paragraph of the speech, deliberately], I take reproductive health seriously, and today, it is under attack. This year alone, more than a dozen states have passed more than 40 restrictions on women’s access to reproductive health care. That’s not the kind of future I want for my daughters or your daughters. Now isn’t the time to roll back the rights we were winning when my father was president. Now is the time to move this country forward."
It was one of the four of five times in my life that I actually expected lightning to come down. Not kidding, that's what I thought. And though I usually watch the proceedings on MSNBC for so many reasons, the TV happened to be turned to FOXNews. While I was still bellowing (you really should be at my house during political season), I noticed that the shock of what she said was not lost on others. I suddenly heard Bill O'Reilly speak of how utterly stunned he was. He could not believe it either. Could not believe it. I still can't:

Yes, that was the worst of it for me, more insidious than Sandra Fluke, and more show-stopping than the painfully embarrassing attempts to restore "God" and "Jerusalem" to the Democratic Platform after someone had decided to take them out.

4) So, as crazy as I always am during political season, it's even worse in the era of facebook. Some of you were following my facebook play-by-play of the Convention, and when the Caroline Kennedy scandal happened, there was quite a flurry of exchanges! Lots of fly off the handle pissed off hysterical ranting thoughtful musings on Kennedy's words were posted on the open threads. Ultimately, Kara, a firebrand Catholic warrior pensive and soft-spoken convert, penned a simple status update to express her concern:

Catholic my ass.

Some of us adopted that as our status as well, and then demanded begged inquired of JoAnna if she would make us a meme to go along with Kara's nuanced sentiment. Within moments, we had this:

Feel free to use and share. :)

Hey, if we can't have a little fun while our nation goes to hell in a handbasket, then what kind of Catholics are we?

5) Now it's time for video comic relief!

Let's go meet some of the Democratic delegates for some "man on the street" style interviews. Keep in mind, these are not folks on the fringe, they are the movers and shakers of the Democratic Party in their home states and local communities.

First, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Hope and Change 2 -- The Party of Inclusion (there's a commercial first, sorry):

 Next, we have a roving reporting asking the Democratic delegates their position on "choice":

In this fun piece, Democratic delegates give their opinions on what to do about corporate profits:


And finally, delegates react to the DNC video that creepily described all United States citizens as "belonging to the government":

Guys, if you are as horrified about the thought of a second Obama term as I am, please, I beg you to vote this year, as well as volunteer on phone banks, donate money to Romney-Ryan, put signs in your yard and on your car. This is a crucial election.

6) We will close out the DNC part of this Quick Takes the same way the DNC itself was closed out -- with a benediction from Cardinal Dolan of New York. The Cardinal prayed for unborn children's right to life, for the integrity of marriage, and for the protection of religious liberty, all of which are threatened by the Democrats. Do you think they heard?

Something to chew on, from the great Professor Robert P. George: 

"Since no minimally decent political party would let a bigot or misogynist take the podium at its convention—much less bless the proceedings—accepting the cardinal's offer to appear amounts to an implicit but unmistakable concession that there's no bigotry in opposing the redefinition of civil marriage, nor any misogyny in fighting for the unborn."


7) In all this mess of politics, I can't forget the orphans. Today I want to introduce you to two precious girls who need families desperately, as they are both in danger of being transferred to adult mental institutions very soon.

First, here is Piper:

I am a happy, friendly girl who needs a mama to love!

Basically, Piper's issue is that she's small. Although she is nearly four years old, she’s roughly the size of a two year old. She is easily the smallest child in her group. There is more to her story and several more photos here on my Orphan Report about her.

And next is sweet Janie:

Beautiful as a porcelain doll!

Janie suffers from CP and FAS, but with proper care and treatment in the States, she could thrive and reach her potential! Please go to my Orphan Report about Janie for more information.

I beg you to pray for these children to find families, and also share their faces and info with everyone you know.

Have a great weekend! And thanks to Jen for hosting Quick Takes!



  1. Even Peggy Noonan could not stomach Ms. Fluke:

    "What a fabulously confident and ingenuous-seeming political narcissist Ms. Fluke is. She really does think—and her party apparently thinks—that in a spending crisis with trillions in debt and many in need, in a nation in existential doubt as to its standing and purpose, in a time when parents struggle to buy the good sneakers for the kids so they're not embarrassed at school . . . that in that nation the great issue of the day, and the appropriate focus of our concern, is making other people pay for her birth-control pills. That's not a stand, it's a non sequitur. She is not, as Rush Limbaugh oafishly, bullyingly said, a slut. She is a ninny, a narcissist and a fool."

    (Wall Street Journal)

  2. Pensive and soft spoken. Hahaha!!! This is an awesome quick takes. Gonna watch the vids I haven't seen tomorrow.

  3. "Sheesh lady, cry me a river with your private Georgetown law degree."

    Haha, awesome quick takes, Leila! Love it.

  4. Awesome Quick Takes Leila.

    "Why are modern feminists too weak and dependent to navigate Walgreens?"

    This is how I have felt about Fluke all along! She seriously could not make herself look any more stupid in my eyes.

    #7..... So glad you are still posing about these little ones.

  5. By far, my favorite post of yours of all time! That Reason TV video was hilarious. I enjoyed following along the commentary on your fb this week...good entertainment for this painful week of TV watching. :)

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  7. Leila -- NO! The Dems did NOT hear Dolan's prayer. They blasted him with F-Bombs on Twitter all night long. Give me a break.

    That meme is exactly right. I have heart palpitations at the thought of another Obama term.

  8. Thank you for this. My dh and I have been watching the DNC and it was just painful. And thank you - going to Walgreens and *gasp* having to purchase your own prescription meds is NOT oppression or victimhood!!!!

    And speaking of the "party for women"... what is with repeating the tired old stat that women make 75 cents to the dollar of men? I thought that stat was debunked 10 years ago (I was taught it was false over and over again at my liberal arts, state university??? How is this stat still around?)

  9. @Sarah -- as long as the Dems think it will help them with women voters they will trot that sorry stat out.

  10. My husband had to pry me off the TV screen last night.

    "Why are modern feminists too weak and dependent to navigate Walgreens?"

    Maybe JoAnna could work that into a meme? LOL.

  11. Oh, O'Reilly's take was great. I feel like one day his head may explode. Poor guy.

  12. Is that Daily Show clip real? Are those real people with real answers, or a joke? I wouldn't be surprised if it was real...

  13. You knocked it out of the park today hon...

    Carla -Henry's mom

  14. Kara, it's absolutely real.

    Endless Strength, that is awful!! sigh.

    Sarah, I know! What the heck is up with that??

    Thanks, guys. I actually really enjoyed writing this one. So much more that could have been said.

    Since I was up till 2:00am writing, I'm going to take a nap….

  15. Thank you for keeping me informed. I couldn't watch it. Just the bits and pieces that you all posted for me. What disgusts me the most is that my Democratic friends throw the positions of Caroline Kennedy and Kathleen Sebelius in my face all the time - saying that we Catholics asked for this. And, I tell them - they aren't true Catholics...

  16. Ah, looks like my comment was eaten the first time around!

    When I was in undergrad, there was this big push by the two feminist groups on campus to get Plan B administered at the student health center. The nurse practitioner who headed the health center was of the "give the kids condoms so the gonorrhea will stop spreading" mindset, but was opposed to bringing Plan B on campus - not because, as she was painted by the student groups, a woman-hater, but because, as she pointed out at the public meeting to discuss it, the cost would be exorbitant (and would definitely be passed on to students), you could already get Plan B at the Rite-Aid a 10 minute walk from campus, the health center was closed on weekends (when most students would probably be requesting it), and if you were already on the Pill, there was no point in taking Plan B (and she was authorized to write prescriptions for the Pill.)

    Sandra Fluke reminds me a lot of those students, and I was nauseated by them even as a contraceptive-using self-identified feminist. Now I'm just sad. Are women really so deluded that we think we can only contribute to society if we turn off our sexual functioning?

  17. I'll say it again...maybe Caroline Kennedy should've fact-checked Catholic teaching before using Catholicism to support things that are against Catholicism.

  18. mcbabyadventures, wow, that is pathetic.

    Hebrews: Sadly, she knows exactly what the Church teaches. That is why this calculated move of hers is so dark and ugly. She's not regretting this at all. She's very proud of herself.

  19. Love your perspective and humor! It's the only way I can stomach this week's proceedings.

    When Cardinal Dolan openly prayed in direct opposition to the major tenets of the Democratic social platform, the natural reaction I expected from them (especially given recent history) was hisses and boos. Instead, they applauded! I was shocked because by all that is logical they should have objected somehow. Their reaction evoked this thought, both saddening and enlightening: the Dems in the audience didn't even recognize the very language of life, marriage, and the Natural Law. How else could they applaud a prayer that advocates against their own core principles?

  20. In Joyful Hope, it's very true that most probably had no idea what they heard! I heard a hearty Amen at the end, and a smattering of applause. But apparently many Democrats around the nation did know better, as I've heard that the tweets were dropping F-bombs in response to Cardinal Dolan's prayer. It's definitely not a battle of flesh and blood here...

  21. Sandra Fluke makes my stomach ill. There are so many wrongs with her speech I wonder if she is for real? Poor oppressed Sandra, how can she stand to live another day here.

  22. How do I find you on facebook? I would love to read your comments.

    BTW- How could I have been so naive to not know people actually thought this way?! I mean, I knew they did, but didn't KNOW they really did. Wow.

  23. Cmerie, email me with your facebook info..

    And, I know! If only the apolitical, the lukewarm American, knew.

  24. Leila, spectacular beat-down of Sandra Fluke. That was spot-on and so richly deserved. Your post is red meat for me -- grrrr!

    The polarization in this country is amazing to me. Sandra Fluke and many others on the left don't have any idea how pathetic they look to me and probably many others who read LCB.

  25. Oh, Leila. These videos. They are so appalling. I'm sitting here in total shock. We all belong to the government????? Ban corporate profits? Who ARE these people????? Please tell me fringe...

    Love Peter Schiff and!

  26. Leila, I loved your 7QT this week! Your humor is truly comic relief after a week of television torture. Just listening to the DNC from the other room was a near occasion of sin for me as I stomped around angrily at the unraveling of our nation. What in the freaking heck are we going to do if O wins another election?

    Thank you for posting about the orphans. I want little Piper so badly! If only...

  27. Thank you guys, so much. It was such a weird post to write, because this buffoonery, esp. Fluke, lends itself to comedy and satire, but then it hits me that the Democratic Party thinks she is a strong, amazing, inspiring woman! It's hard to know what to do with that: Laugh? Cry? Despair?

    Lauren, they can't be the fringe. They are the base. They really think this. It's beyond my ability to understand what happened to America? We really do not hold the same values anymore. And, it's no coincidence that they are trying to become completely secular, pushing towards it. That opens the way for the sexual sins to be seen as "good" (along with abortion, i.e., child gets in the way of my sex-as-recreation), and also the state replaces God as the strongest force on earth (and becomes Daddy -- or husband; note how many single women love big government?). Government has the power to take care of me, to help me, to make me feel like I "belong", to love me!

    Always a search for love and family and belonging (we all want that, but they look to government to fulfill it), and always a search for free stuff and the path of least resistance (which we all have a tendency toward; heck, I love free stuff too! Just not at the cost of my dignity or freedom).

    Lots of psychology there. Lots of wounded folks. Very sad, truly.

    At this point, I don't know what to think, and Christina, I don't know our fate, especially as Catholics, if Obama wins. I can't even go there mentally. It's too awful.

    (Piper is a doll!!)

  28. Might be my fave post of yours ever. And that's saying something!
    Btw ken got called a racist for posting a video similar to the pro choice one. Lmbo!

  29. I really don't understand all the high emotions around Sandra Fluke. I disagree with her point but I don't understand how she inspires so much venom. Yes, she's a little self-absorbed, entitled and has a very weak grasp on reality....but....most people are just like her.

    I joked on Facebook so many people believe it is the other side's political views which will bring the downfall of this country but I think it will be our inability to walk 5 yards to return the shopping carts to the store.

    The greed, selfishness and dishonesty in this country is staggering. Don't you guys have to deal with this everyday too? I can't go an hour at work without finding yet another example. Sure there are good examples too but the vast majority of people are all about what is in it for them and what they can get for as little as possible. Republicans and Dems. Christians and non-Christians. Surely, you guys deal with these people too.....

    The republicans are guilty of it too. Look at one of their slogans from the RNC: "We built it" is built around a quote from Obama that was taken completely out of context. Obama's point was part of our blessings comes from the fact we live in a very blessed, politically stable country. If you disagree with his point you might as well be an anarchist because you just disagreed with the basics of the Social Contract. Yet the RNC twisted it into saying Obama said business people did no work in building their business....which isn't true.

    Or take Rush's comments about Ms. think he didn't make a buck off calling a woman half his age a slut? It was a win/win situation for both of them. It wasn't about women's health and it certainly wasn't about protecting the moral fiber of this country. Fluke's an idiot....Rush is despicable.

    Fluke claimed she represents did Ann Romney. You don't want to know what I yelled at the TV when I heard her make that claim.

    They say we elect the government we deserve. Having watch some of each of the RNC and the DNC I've decided it doesn't matter how we vote. It is like the end of Ghostbusters....all we are doing is choosing the form of the destructor.

  30. StarFireKK - No, we're not blind to the fact that politics can be downright ugly on any side of the fence. Most of us here are Catholics before any political party. I will say, though, that in the circles I run in, the greed and selfishness don't seem to actually be so prevalent. Believe it or not, there are some really great citizens out there, some amazing people, and plenty of ordinary folks serving others in ordinary ways. So perhaps I am at fault for actually expecting more out of BOTH political parties.

    The beef I have with the DNC is that they are truly in love (it seems) with some truly unethical things that go directly and clearly against morality. While the Republicans are human beings who are capable of selfishness and greed as well as political games, they aren't openly celebrating and cheering tragic things like the death of the unborn. I watched both conventions and while I may not have gotten up and done a dance with a funny hat on for the Republican convention, I was truly appalled at the DNC's convention.

    Another difference is that conservative Republicans often don't believe politics ARE the answer to the world's problems, whereas Democrats seem to put way too much faith in politics and government. Which scares me. And scares a lot of us.

  31. Okay I don't really follow politics because really hearing the little snippets I hear from my husband or blogs has a tendency to disgust and enrage me. But I don't understand why Cardinal Dolan was even present at the DNC. I guess I feel it sends a mixed message to Catholics who could be swayed into thinking well he's an important Catholic who attends the DNC and is in support of them why not vote democratic?

    I think the best thing would have been for him to stay out of the whole thing. My other complaint is about calling Catholics to vote for Romney when there are so many things wrong with his policies and ideas. Would I just be voting for the lesser of two evils just because he happens to carry the Republican ticket? I'm really not trying to incite a riot of angry comments but I often wonder if any other Catholic voter is as confused or put off by the whole thing.

  32. StarFireKK, I truly, truly disagree.

    I am too tired to do a point by point, but I will say that Obama's comments were most definitely NOT taken out of context. I listened to and watched the context time and again, fully. Not taken out of context at all. If it was what we all obviously believe (that we all love our teachers, and we all are glad that we have roads, which are only necessary by the way because someone built first a buggy, then a car), then why would he be saying this to make a point to his base, to fire them up? He was not saying what we all understand. He was making a very ideological point. I encourage everyone to listen to it.

    Of course he didn't mean that the business owners did 'no work' -- no one ever implied he did. He implied that a business owner was in partnership with all the government road workers, public school teachers, police services, etc. But that is nuts! There is no "partnership" there. Everyone gets those services, and the services are paid for by the taxes of….. businesses that make money, and their employees!

    DNC speaker Elizabeth Warren said the same talking point months earlier: You didn't build it, others made it happen for you along the way, so you must pay us more in taxes to make it "fair". This is part of the left's ideology.

    My husband started his own small business a year and a half ago after working for over twenty years as always someone else's employee, building his reputation. Damn straight he built it. He built it to take care of his family, just as a husband and father should. And it is frightening beyond words to know that the government has the power to ruin him if it so wishes. One misstep in regulations, one misunderstanding of the massive tax code laws, and we could be sunk. Big, centralized government is scary stuff.

    So, the massive, wasteful, ineffective federal government telling all the producers that 'you didn't built that!' implying they don't pay their "fair share" vs. the business owners and risk takers saying, 'yes, we built it!' and actually creating wealth for their families and others? I will side with the latter every time.

    And to compare Ann Romney to Sandra Fluke? I just honestly don't know what to say to that.

    Maybe I am blessed to live in a Catholic bubble where people do work hard, provide for their families, strive to live a virtuous life and give back copiously to charity (in addition to the outrageous taxes they pay). Heck, even my friends on food stamps are cheering Romney/Ryan and are as horrified by the thought of an Obama second term as the rest of us!

    There is a huge, huge difference between the political parties today, and the gulf is ever widening. I would never claim there are no greedy, selfish Republicans. Indeed there are! But at least they don't want to use the force of government (fines/jail/ruin) to coerce my conscience, persecute my Church, and take more of my income. At least those selfish Republicans, wherever they are found, will leave me be.

    And keep in mind with all the class warfare rhetoric that the Dems throw around: Envy is a deadly sin, just as much as greed. But we forget that fomenting envy (which is the standard tactic of the Democratic Party), is a grave evil.

    Two types of destructors? How can that be? How can conservative values "destroy" us when they are pro-life, pro-marriage, pro-school choice (all non-negotiables for Catholics, according to our Popes) and desire the federal gov't less in our lives and business (subsidiarity)?

    Sorry, you know I like you a lot, but I just do not agree with you in the least.

    I guess I was rambling. Sorry. But then again, I guess I'm allowed to on my own blog. ;)

  33. allthemasons, I am glad he prayed for the unborn and for marriage and for religious liberty at both Conventions. He is the head of the Church in America, and his prayers are desperately needed.

    As to why vote for Romney? Because his presidency will not be actively persecuting the Church. That is HUGE. HUGE.

    And, never forget that while Obama would only have four years left, his federal judicial appointees (all who will be on the extreme pro-abort side, and gay "marriage" side -- you can take that to the bank) will remain for life. Looooong after he's gone doing much damage for decades to come. Supreme Court, circuit courts, federal courts. He will have had eight years of stacking the courts. People tend to forget about that legacy that presidents leave. No matter how bad Romney's judicial appointees are, they will never be as extreme and anti-Catholic as Obama's.

  34. Bottom line, allthemasons: My political strategy this year is GET OBAMA OUT. It's as simple as that. (I do love Ryan, though, so it makes it easier to vote for Romney.)

    And the reason Obama must go is because he directly persecutes the Church. If he can force us to choose between 1) closing our businesses and ministries, or 2) committing mortal sin and risking hell , in his first term, what will he try in his next term, when he has no worries about reelection?

    He is an actively anti-Catholic president, and he has shown us his stripes.

    We are fools if we allow him to trample our religious liberties for another four years, and which we may never get back.

  35. Love the video- watched that earlier this week and was laughing...

    Here's my problem with Romney- he is not clearly pro-life either! He has flipped on this issue, and still is not "No abortions, no exceptions". If I lived in a swing state, I would vote Romney out of necessity (lesser of two evils), but since my vote will be cast in CA, I will be protest voting for a true pro-life candidate, Ron Paul.

    I am disgusted by this election season. The democrats have seriously gone Brave New World insane, and the Republicans can't get their acts together! Argh!!!

    I can't believe 3 years ago I was a liberal, and now I'm basically a libertarian. Ha! (Leila's fault!)

  36. By the way, I totally agree Leila that priority number one has to be the removal of Obama. If this is how he behaves while still fearing for his re-election, imagine how the next four years will go, when he has "free reign" to do whatever the h*ll he pleases! That is some SCARY STUFF!

  37. Monica, true enough about Romney! But, he will not actively work to stop the states' pro-life laws (of which there are more and more). Things are moving in the right direction, and Romney will step out of the way.

    That's all I want from the federal government: Get out of the way, stop forcing my conscience, stop persecuting my Church, stop taxing and regulating me to death, stop stifling growth and stop fomenting race wars, gender wars, class wars.

    Romney, I believe, will let us be.

    The power of government to ruin people is something I never used to think about. But I have seen it. It is absolute power and there is no way to fight it. People should fear a strong centralized gov't much more than they do.

    I'm glad you don't live in a swing state, Monica. ;)

    And I'm glad you are not a liberal anymore, ha ha!! This blog has been worth it! ;)

  38. I found it interesting the Democrat surrogates were spinning as hard as they could today to try to rehabilitate them on "faith." I thought the most deceitful and shameful was this piece by PBS:

    (Warning, you may lose it reading this.)

    What's infuriating is that this not only passes for journalism, but the PBS propaganda is being underwritten by public taxpayer money!

  39. Just one representative snippet from the PBS article:

    STEPHEN SCHNECK (Catholics for Obama): When I look at the policies outside of the abortion arena, when I look at things like Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act and community health centers and public housing programs, these are all programs that are proven to have a good impact in lowering the abortion rates in the United States.

    LAWTON: Stephen Schneck is co-chair of Catholics for Obama. He asserts that the proposed Republican budget cuts will lead to more abortions.

    SCHNECK: Thinking about that, I have to say I’m morally challenged to think about supporting Romney-Ryan as a pro-life voter.

  40. IDK on the issue of taxes... on the one hand I know many 2%ers as they're called and most of them tithe to charity. We will be taking a lot from philanthropy. But on the other, there are areas of the tax code that need reform and if the republicans would admit this they would have an easier time. We're middle class and barely pay anything now. I wouldn't mind a tax increase to support the roads, schools, etc. I don't htink the govt needs to totally suppress the competition of captialism either... it has built us into a great nation.

    That Catholic for Choice argument is such a flimsy hoax. They want to increase Medicaid and all these programs... saying its more pro-life??? Leading to fewer abortions???

    Women don't choose abortion when the baby is already born! They think of their immediate financial situation and are given 'facts' depending on who they speak with. They choose it when they are feeling vulnerable and scared and the baby is often early in the pre-born stages. IF those laws were truly pro-life, they would give AT LEAST as much $$ to pregnancy counseling centers that provide actual prenatal care, diapers, GED instruction and job training - things that empower a woman to keep her child - as they do to clinics that 'don't judge' and offer to 'take away' the problem so that the woman doesn't need to 'struggle' on how little Medicaid covers to begin with. But Democratic governments have always blocked funding and support to pregnancy centers that offer a true choice. Come on, like public programs that save money make a difference to scared women at the time of that choice??? Cathoics for Choice are idiots.

  41. As a Canadian EH I cannot vote in the American election, BUT I can BEG and PLEAD that my southern neighbours to vote Obama OUT of office in November, PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  42. “Two types of destructors? How can that be? How can conservative values "destroy" us when they are pro-life, pro-marriage, pro-school choice (all non-negotiables for Catholics, according to our Popes) and desire the federal gov't less in our lives and business (subsidiarity)?”

    I don’t think this is entirely accurate. You’re right that being pro-life and pro-marriage are non-negotiable, but I am almost certain that “school choice” is not. Many people think that vouchers will harm public schools. This is a matter of prudential judgment. (As an aside, I attended great public schools my entire life and NEVER left the Catholic faith I was raised in.)

    Also, I think you misunderstand subsidiarity. It doesn’t necessarily translate to “small government.” It simply means that the lowest-level competent authority should take care of the problem. Sometimes, the lowest level that can competently take care of the problem is the federal government. Again, this is a prudential judgment. Subsidiary also needs to be balanced with the principle of solidarity. It seems like conservative Catholics only talk about subsidiarity and ignore solidarity, and vice versa for liberal Catholics.

    It has always annoyed me when liberal Catholics try to make it sound like you HAVE to support this or that government program to be a good Catholic. It used to be that conservative Catholics stuck to the non-negotiables like abortion and would say that everything else was a prudential judgment. But more and more, it seems like conservative Catholics are doing what liberal Catholics have been doing for ages: elevating ideas that are simply conservative, like low taxes or small government, to the only true Catholic way. There seems to be a lot of confusion over what is a prudential judgment, on both sides. Everyone is trying to “catholisize” their personal opinion.

    Do you read Mark Shea’s blog? He’s a completely orthodox Catholic, and one of the few Catholic bloggers who truly “gets it” when it comes to politics. He takes on the left and the right equally. I would be interested to hear what you think of his perspective.

    Also, did you know that Paul Ryan wants to eliminate the child tax credit and the earned income tax credit? How is that pro-family??

  43. Hi Leila, I like you too as you know. There's so much to say in response to your comment but I don't want to hijack your blog. But I did read the President's speech. I found it online. It was a very long speech but here is the part we are talking about:

    Now, in an effort of full disclosure, these paragraphs did come after Obama talked about wanting to lower the taxes on the middle class but not the upper crust. The idea of taxing the rich at a higher rate than the poor is not new- our whole system is based on that idea. Anyways, here is what he said:

    " There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me -- because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t -- look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. (Applause.)

    If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet. (This is actually false- the net was developed for the military)

    The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires. "

    How can you possibly disagree with that statement? It takes a real lack of humility to say what Obama said in the above paragraphs isn't true. That's what the dems and the moderates (like me) hear when we hear the RNC say "We built it!"

    You built the roads? You built the police force? You built the schools? You built the fire fighters? You built the military?

    Or is it just you don't see any of those above things as important in business success.......

    If those things do matter to a success of a business, how should we pay for it? How does the concept you received a benefit- but shouldn't have to pay for it- seem wrong?

    You would never hire the railroad to ship your goods and not expect to pay for it. The more you ship- the more you pay.

    I just don't get it. Our whole tax system is based on the idea the more you make the more you pay. That's why we have tax brackets.

    This is why some of us get frustrated with the right---- because it seems to us you guys want something for nothing every bit as much as you claim the left does. That's why I say there's no difference between the two- each side wants someone else to pay for something they benefit from.

  44. Dear Leila and friends, please help me figure out something. First if all, I do agree with your sentiment re the DNC convention, and if I were American, there is no doubt I would vote Republican in this election. And yet, the people at the convention, misguided, or worse, that they may be in our opinion, are made in the image and the likeness of God, like all of us. I agree 100% that we should fight their IDEAS, but not them, right? Shouldn't that be reflected in how we speak about them? Isn't the devil, the "divider" and the "accuser", as Fr. Barron explained so beautifully, having a field day when we judge those folks, smug in our own self-assuredness that we are right, and they wrong (speaking only for myself here) ?

    How can we practically do that? How can we make them believe us that we, and God, loves them, but that the things they advocate for a terrible? And I mean both the simple delegates and voters, and the powerful decision makers, many of whom deliberately lie to achieve their aims. There's a specific reason I ask, but it takes too long here to lay it out. Thanks!

  45. ugh that is "receive a benefit and should have to pay for it- seem wrong?"

    I know there are other typos but that one was a bit important.

  46. StarFireKK, the bottom fifty percent of Americans pay almost no or no federal income taxes. That alone seems a bit "unfair", no?

    (Police, firefighters, etc. are paid by state and local taxes, not federal taxes, by the way.)

    Here is a breakdown of the percentage of personal federal income tax paid:

    (These are stats used by the NYTimes, so please no cries of partisanship)

    "Taxpayers who rank in the top 50 percent of taxpayers by income pay virtually all individual income taxes. In all years since 1990, taxpayers in this group have paid over 94 percent of all individual income taxes. In 2000, 2001, and 2002, this group paid over 96 percent of the total." (That is from another source:

    Why would the president say that the rich don't pay their "fair share"? What is a "fair share", in your opinion? I am truly curious.

    And, being a "millionaire", according to Obama, is making $250,000 a year. (??) Even if that $250,000 is what a small business makes. A businessman whose business makes only $250,000 (which is not a lot -- this is not the businessman's take home pay, which is much less, this is his business' income) is taxed as an individual on that amount! So, he pays the millionaire tax on what his business makes (not even close to a million), and not on what he actually brings home in his own paycheck.

    Crazy, no? But this is the "fair" way, according to Obama. Do you think that is fair? And, do you realize that none of that is going to make a dent in the deficit, even if he gets his way?

    That's even assuming he can get all the taxes from people that he is seeking. He doesn't understand that many businessmen will just decide not to risk opening another business anymore. Or the truly rich just won't work on those new ventures since they can't keep the fruits, anyway. Why should they? Why work to fork over more to the government when the uber rich guy has enough money and might as well retire or stay just as they are. Happens all the time.

    Obama never ran a business, and he doesn't have any idea how money comes in and how taxes can only increase if businesses are growing and thriving. Businesses don't grow and thrive (thus pay more taxes and employ more people who also pay taxes) if they are taxed to the point that they cannot be profitable. It's just not worth it. Why do you think most small business owners are voting against Obama and are so, so, so upset with him? He has no clue. And he's insulting to boot.

    Anyway, I'm going to try to make that my last word on confiscatory taxes. I despise the whole subject and I hate, hate, hate class envy more than just about anything else.

  47. Obama said:

    "There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me -- because they want to give something back."

    Guess what? Anyone who wants to give more to the IRS can. They take donations. I am not kidding. They do. Why don't he and his friend write the IRS a check if they agree with him? I'm dead serious.

    Believe it or not, many wealthy Americans want to "give back" -- to charities that actually do work with the people, and who do not waste and who are accountable for every penny, unlike the massive black hole of sinful waste that is the federal government.

    Again, this is a Catholic principle:

  48. StarfireKK- the problem is, the implication behind Obama's quote, that you posted, is that the only reason why people are successful is because they do receive "help" in various manners, i.e. roads, police, fire fighters, teachers, etc... If this were the case then EVERYONE would be successful in much the same way, and the truth of it not everyone is successful in that way.

    The fact of the matter is, all of the "help" referred to by President Obama isn't real help. It's general welfare, but not help. EVERYONE benefits from that general welfare and the benefits go far above and beyond a successful business - heck I don't own a business, but I've called the police about 3 dozen times on my neighbors down the street for having loud drunken fights on the lawn.

    Roads, police, teachers, fire fighters, libraries etc... etc... all of these services are what I classify as facilitative services (yes as an English Major I just made up a word). In other words the are services that facilitate one's OWN ABILITY to succeed, without any personal involvement or direct personal investment in that success. Help, on the other hand requires a direct personal involvement or direct personal investment in that success, even if the investment is purely emotional.

    Let me give you an example. Let's say I'm a single mother, going to college to get my education. If I rely on state aid to send my children to daycare so that I may go to classes (this is the type of help President Obama is referring to) - this is facilitating my ability to succeed at my goal of finishing college. On the other hand if my mother watches my children, spending time with them and giving me the opportunity to attend class and succeed at my goal - this is help.
    My mother has a personal investment in seeing me, her daughter, succeed, even if it's just the emotional investment of being proud of me finishing college. The daycare, nor the state providing the aid, has any such investment, if not me and my kids it will be someone else and their kids.

    This is the difference. And while yes, small business owners have had the benefit of government funded (oh wait, we fund the government) services to help facilitate their ability to succeed, EVERYONE has had those exact same benefits - but their ability to succeed depends upon them alone and whatever real help they might need. The catch is - simply needing help doesn't guarantee real help, real help will only be offered by those willing to personally invest, and people won't personally invest in people who aren't willing to put in the work to make it happen themselves.

    Does that make sense?

  49. sdecorla, please, please, do not misunderstand. I have never said that a Catholic could not support a massive federal government and huge federal welfare programs. Catholics are free to do so if they wish. Like you said, it's a matter of prudential judgment. In my judgment, it is not prudential at all to have these massive entitlement programs. I feel they are wasteful, ineffective and utterly dehumanizing. But that is my opinion. This is not like abortion, I completely agree.

    I had to chuckle when you said that most conservative Catholic folks talk about subsidiarity, because I have been a conservative Catholic for a long time, and only recently heard of the concept of subsidiarity. It's just nothing I ever heard growing up, or into most of my adulthood. And I've always been a politically active person. I am glad if more people are becoming acquainted with it! And as for solidarity, I have to note that Lech Walesa, who understood that concept well [understatement], was shunned by Obama, shamefully:

    Also, Lech Walsa, (Mr. Solidarity/dear friend and solidarity partner of JPII) has happily endorsed Romney:

    The people of Eastern Europe have little sympathy for growing and strengthening centralized power. They get where that leads and it ain't pretty.

    As for education, you are right and wrong. First, I never said "vouchers", although the Catholic bishops in America are strongly pro-voucher. But the Church does hold as a non-negotiable "the protection of the right of parents to educate their children." We are the primary educators of our children, a right which cannot be abridged.

    Which side is friendlier to that end? As I wrote in my "Why I Can't be a Catholic and a Democrat" post:

    Democrats (and the liberal teachers’ unions to which they are beholden) go to great lengths to deny parents a choice in their children’s education, not only opposing school vouchers for private schools, but also opposing secular public charter schools, which often deviate from the leftist model. Laws that seek to limit the rights of homeschooling parents also come overwhelmingly from Democrats. By contrast, the Republican Platform states: “Parents should be able to decide the learning environment that is best for their child.”

    To me, there is no contest which side is friendlier to my rights as a Catholic parent. On vouchers? You are free to disagree. We have charter schools here and I thank God for it. (I am a product of K-12 public schools, by the way; Catholics are free to put their kids in public schools if they so desire, of course.)

    As for Mark Shea… love his books, loved being on his side in some old Catholic forums when the Net was new. We had a nice friendly acquaintanceship. I don't question his orthodoxy at all. I worry that sometimes he is bitingly rude and sarcastic and bombastic to anyone who dares to slightly disagree with him or challenge him. I don't enjoy that at all, so I avoid his blog. But I think he is a very sound Catholic, and I have many of his articles in my archives, because they are brilliant. I have used some of his work here. I definitely disagree with his approach to politics. To me, it's very obvious that a vote for a third party candidate is a vote for Obama. So, we disagree. And I don't think Romney and Obama are equally bad choices. Not at all.

  50. I'm sorry, but I could not watch Ms. Fluke with her lies. An America where access to birth control is controlled by people who will never use it? Isn't she talking about the gov't here? Because, as far as I can tell, the govt is the ONLY force out there trying to control access to birth control. Gimme a break, you poor lost soul. *I love this quick takes, Leila! The cap on corporate profits piece was priceless! Who IS that guy? He's funny! And the choice video? Lol!

  51. Manda, I know. She lied and lied. And I still can't get over that there was a comparison between Ann Romney and Sandra Fluke. Sandra Flukes entire public persona, her only claim to fame, is that she fought for the HHS mandate. The very same HHS mandate that got the bishops unified and speaking with one voice. The same HHS mandate that moved the POPE to warn that we are in danger of losing religious liberty in America. Sandra Fluke's whole "thing" is in support of what ends up being persecution of the Church. Because she had birth control already. This is not about access to birth control. It's about forcing the Church to provide it, at which point we either comply and go to hell, or we don't comply and lose our businesses and charities. Sandra Fluke is the face of that movement to cripple the Church.

    How she and the damage she is hoping to inflict on the Church can in anyway be equated to Ann Romney is truly beyond my ability to comprehend.

  52. Beresford,

    You are right, I can barely stomach that. I see it all the time and it's incredibly disingenuous. To put matters of prudential judgement ahead of non-negotiables in the hierarchy of truth is not Catholic. It's deceptive. It's sneaky and it is intended to fool Catholics into believing that they can vote for vociferously pro-abortion candidates (and those who now embrace gay "marriage") and have a clear conscience about it.

    Confused Catholics should read the words of the bishops and the last two popes very closely:

    The last two popes and the bishops have taught that there are certain “non-negotiable” issues for Catholics involved in politics, issues which trump all other considerations. The non-negotiables come down to these:

    Abortion is intrinsically evil and must never be promoted or condoned.
    Embryonic stem cell research and human cloning are intrinsically evil and must never be promoted or condoned.
    Euthanasia is intrinsically evil and must never be promoted or condoned.
    The traditional understanding of marriage as the union of one man and one woman must always be upheld.
    The right of parents to educate their children must always be upheld.

    All other issues (for example, immigration, education, affordable housing, health and welfare, etc.) are considered policy issues, about which Catholics are free to disagree. As Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix has clarified in a guide for Catholics called, Catholics in the Public Square:
    "On each of these [policy] issues, we should do our best to be informed and to support those proposed solutions that seem most likely to be effective. However, when it comes to direct attacks on innocent human life, being right on all the other issues can never justify a wrong choice on this most serious matter."

    Indeed, Pope John Paul II wrote:

    Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights -- for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture -- is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with the maximum determination. (Christifideles Laici, 38)

    In his letter, “Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion,” Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) wrote:

    Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.

    In a 2006 speech to European politicians, Pope Benedict XVI said the following:

    As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable. Among these the following emerge clearly today:

    ~Protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death;
    ~Recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family as a union between a man and a woman based on marriage and its defense from attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different forms of union which in reality harm it and contribute to its destabilization, obscuring its particular character and its irreplaceable social role;
    ~The protection of the rights of parents to educate their children.

    It is so incredibly clear.

  53. More here:

  54. First of all, I don’t support Obama or the Democrats, not even a little.

    Secondly, Mitt Romney is NOT pro-life: “I’m in favor of abortion being legal in the case of rape and incest, and the health and life of the mother,” he said. (This differs from the party’s platform, which calls for a constitutional amendment banning abortion, with no exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother.)--

    We all know that “life of the mother” is construed to mean abortion for almost every reason. So, again, how is that pro-life?
    Thirdly, and more generally, why do any of us continue to believe that the GOP is going to do anything for us?

    “The Republicans you are being asked to elect will almost certainly do nothing to forward the socially conservative agenda you fear. Since Roe v. Wade was passed, we’ve had five-terms of anti-Roe Republican presidents. That’s 20 years of men appointing Justices to a Supreme Court that has refused to overturn Roe. That same court, by the way, banned anti-sodomy laws and paved the way for gay marriage across the United States.”

    “I’m always surprised that social conservatives can be convinced every four years or so that voting Republican will aid their cause. We have three generations of experience that says this is simply not the case. But time and time again, there are the social conservatives pulling the lever—or pressing the touch screen—voting on the basis of hope over experience.” --

    Yes, Obama is persecuting the Church with his HHS mandate, but Romney did the EXACT same thing with his version of Obamacare that he instituted in Mass. The same thing. But we trust him now? Even if you do, you are voting for someone who did the same thing to Catholics that Obama did.

    Finally, his foreign policy seems to be an almost carbon copy of GWB’s. A foreign policy that the last two Popes have (yes in their private judgement) condemned, and that has been absolutely disastrous, strategically, economically, and most importantly to innocent life.

    Even if I lived in a swing state, I would not vote for Romney. I don't know for whom, or if, I will vote.

  55. Marc, you really think that Romney is going to move to persecute the Church? You believe he will work to make abortion more accessible, and interfere with all the progress the states have made in that matter? You think that Romney will promote gay "marriage" in law?

    I don't think he will do any of those things, and those are the non-negotiables.

    Not to mention that Obama's judges will poison our courts for many, many decades after he is gone.

    I have tried and tried, but I don't understand your mindset. When I read stuff like what you wrote, and you are good people, I think we will be looking at four more years of Obama, and it's so unnecessary, and so unthinkable. It actually makes my heart heavy, and I have to walk away.

    Maybe that is our penance. Maybe having our persecutor for four more years, and his judges for much longer, is our penance. Lord, have mercy on us and on our nation, and on the Church.

  56. Wow! What an amazing blog, Leila! I learn so much from you!! What just makes me CRAZY, is that I pay three times as much for high blood pressure medication that I HAVE TO HAVE, then these women pay for contraceptives right now that they WANT TO HAVE. And now they want IT TO BE FREE! It's wrong in soooooooooooooooo many ways.


  57. ...and no one is paying attention to the health risks of contraceptives, which is covered in every bit of medical research. I had to go on a low dosage of contraception due to being pre-menopausal and having horrible menstrual cycles all of a sudden that were making it difficult to function one week out of every month. I did NOT want to go on contraceptives, but my insurance would not cover hormonal testing and specific hormonal medications for my problem. My insurance WOULD however, cover contraceptives. Against my better judgement, I went on the Pill for four months. A month ago I got blood clots in my leg which turned into a severe problem bordering on life-threatening. My doctor immediately told me to stop the Pill as that was a number one cause of blood clots. I was only on them four month. Imagine what they must do to a woman's body after ten, twenty, thirty years?!!

  58. Leila, I respect your opinion but I think it's pretty hard to argue against the history. Also, do you deny that Romney is pro choice? Can you show me where Obama has successfully overturned pro life legislation in a state? If he has then we have much more serious problems. It was a GOP SCOTUS appointee who upheld Obamacare, btw. Romney has also said that he supports SCOTUS appointees who practice stare decisis which typically is code for. Of wanting to overturn Roe.

    I think you are admirable for fighting the fight that you do, but I think we are misguided in placing any hope in a party that went from Reagan to Bush Sr. to GWB to McCain to Romney. That is not progress. That is regression.

  59. The other difference between Obamacare and Romneycare is that RomneyCare was and is state-based. The state decided that. Obamacare is for the entire nation. Very few governors I know of will enact policies that they did at the state-level on the federal level, because it just doesn't make sense, fiscal or otherwise. The needs of MA are different from the needs of the country as a whole. Not to mention the side-steps that religious organizations could make through Federal laws in order to get around State enacted laws were present. On federal level the situation is completely different.

    I will say, I don't necessarily believe that Romney is completely pro-life, I don't. Though, the habit of some people (not you, I don't think) of citing his comments made from 10 years ago, don't cut it for me. 10 years ago I was pro-choice too, and quite strongly. In fact it's only been in the last 4 years or so that I've come to understand the truth of it all. I'm not saying that you brought up his comments made 10 years ago, I just know some people do as if that alone is enough to call into question his dedication to pro-life. And it's not.

  60. Is that Bill Murray in the Jon Stewart video?

  61. Marc, I was going to answer you more specifically, but Bethany beat me to it, and quite well. As for abortion…. well, Obama's admin threatened Texas (bullied) with loss of funds if Texas rejected Planned Parenthood. Yes, Obama, whose major priority and backer is Planned Parenthood, interferes with the states on abortion. Yes, yes, yes.

    You see Obama and Romney differing by degree. I see them differing in kind.

    Whatever Romney's personal belief about abortion (and I think Bethany made a great point there), will not govern as a proactive, pro-abortion president, as Obama does every day of his life, including the weekends.

    SCOTUS… yes, conservative judges have tended to move more to the left on occasion, as they get entrenched. All the more reason to go with the candidate that will start out with the more conservative judges. And if you think I am only talking about SCOTUS, you are wrong. The scope of federal and district judges is enormous. We are still dealing with the fallout of Janet Napalitano's appointees here in AZ and will be for a very, very long time. My husband is on the bipartisan committee which recommends judges. It's always hard to get conservatives on the bench. The answer is not to bow out of the process and throw our hands up because our candidate is not perfect, it's to stay right in it, become a player, and change things from the inside. Trust me, that's what the Dems do.

  62. DD, that is awful about the clots and the Pill! It's so frustrating.

    And yes, some people thought that was Bill Murray!

  63. I think we are misguided in placing any hope in a party that went from Reagan to Bush Sr. to GWB to McCain to Romney. That is not progress. That is regression.

    I think you may have missed all the young Republican rock stars coming up the pike.

  64. I respect your opinion that the GOP is somehow better than the Dems. In some cases you are right, but not in this case in my opinion. I think you are all putting your faith in the hope that somehow Romney is different but I don't think there is much (looking back through the past) to reccomend that opinion.

    I'm glad you are all out there fighting this fight. I don't agree with your methods but I do agree with your goals. I think Ron Paul's position of shrinking the Federal Government radically is more likely, in the long run, to succeed. I don't think we can ever Baptize the Federal Government.

    I also think as Catholics we should remember that this country was not set up by us or for us. In fact in most of the colonies it was set up actively against us. This country is Protestat (barely anymore) and that is waning. If Romney wins we will have elected our first non self professed at least Christian. I have little hope that a polytheist non Christian is going to bring the Country forward. The Catholic Church explicitly rejects Mormonism as Christian and specifically rejects their Baptism.

  65. The bottom line is that there are two contestants in this upcoming race: Obama or Romney. Pick one. Romney says he will repeal and replace Obamacare, he says he will protect the sanctity of life, he says he will stop the federal funding of planned parenthood. Those 3 things alone are enough for me to vote for him. Do I *wish* he would also balance the budget and reduce the deficits drastically? Absolutely, along with healing the sick and feeding the poor and obtaining world peace. But, we've dug ourselves so deep and beggars can't be choosers. So, let's take what we can get and try to make a little *progress* in the RIGHT direction.

    Leila, what DO you think about our 16 trillion dollar debt? Ron Paul fans are posting all kinds of youtube videos claiming a police state is in the cards for us when, not if our economy collapses. This is sort of off topic, but there is also a lot of recent footage of military tanks, plastic liners (caskets) being stored by the hundreds of thousands, and over 200 fema camps set up across the U.S. The guy who writes for Natural News says they (the govt) are going to be going into every major city in the U.S. and rounding people up to take us to these camps. He says these camps have giant incinerators which many argue is for the trash we would make during a crisis (but we all know history)...I want to blow all of this talk away as nonsense, but it's starting to get to me. Add that to the clueless masses blindly stating that we "belong to the govt" and I'm starting to shake a little. Can I even talk about this stuff on the internet these days without being added to some list or taken in for questioning/"psychiatric" evaluation like that guy on facebook? It is really getting frightening and there is nowhere to run. I know as Catholics we are called to just have faith and pray, but should we also be getting ready for things to get ugly?

  66. Marc, well, as my dear friend Nik Nikas of the Bioethics Defense Fund ( has said, "I am electing a commander-in-chief, not a theologian-in-chief." And believe me, he is far, far deeper and more intricately involved in fighting for the Culture of Life (it's all he does) than either you or me. I agree with him, re: the theology question.

    You asked me about Obama messing with the states crack down on abortion, and I gave you a huge example of it (Texas), and you come back and say that both sides are the same. Okay, then. I don't know what to argue after that.

    Manda, well, the trillions have only gotten worse with Obama's spending and inability to a single effective thing to make it turn around. I fear we are very tenuous, economically. There is a lot of danger with having an economy collapse, and it does scare me. But, I don't "go there" as far as seeing all the conspiracy stuff. It's just not me. I don't do that with all the Catholic prophecy stuff, either (that is not approved by the Church). Just not my personality to whip myself into those frenzies, and I am skeptical. But, I do not underestimate the danger of four more years of Obama policies and ideology. It is frightening to consider. That is why my sole concern at this point is to vote him OUT.

    1. Typing too quickly, sorry. Should read "the ones that are not approved by the Church".

  67. Leila, you are correct about Texas. Although, what ultimately happened there? You very well could be right on this issue and I could be wrong. I think the President's coercive power regarding the states is withholding funds and this is why I support Ron Paul (at least in theory) over Romney. His vision would give WAY more power to the states and end this Federal usurpation of state power. One problem is the GOP seems to be more interested in securing power than in shrinking the power of the Federal government and for this reason (among others) Obama has this power.

    I just don't believe the difference is as stark or the choice as simple as you make it out to be.

    We need a more radical vision than Romney offers. But he may be our only choice. I certainly won't vote for him since I live in CA.

  68. Leila, you mentioned Obama's bullying of TX, but don't forget what they're doing to Indiana. Mitch Daniels defunded any clinic that provides abortions. So Obama said, "Ok, then we're holding ALL of your Medicare funds hostage until you reverse it." (Wait...who's anti-woman?) PP claimed that, "hey, look, only 5% of our business is abortion, so give us our money back." I guess they didn't think, if it's only 5% of your business, just STOP DOING THEM and you'll get all your state funding back. Einsteins. But I digress. The real issue I was getting at was the Obama admin bully tactics on anyone who dares not hold abortion as the highest virtue. No way Mitt Romney would intervene in a state issue like that. None.

  69. "The real issue I was getting at was the Obama admin bully tactics on anyone who dares not hold abortion as the highest virtue. No way Mitt Romney would intervene in a state issue like that. None."

    Nicole, totally agree. And as the president of Delaware Right to Life, you know a lot about how the Dems deal with this issue, politically. That's two big states he's bullied in the name of abortion. Plus the entire Catholic Church and all her entities. And that's when Obama was still worrying about reelection. Just wait till he doesn't have to, and wait till he stacks a few hundred more judges in the federal courts around the nation, who will rule in his favor when these issues come up again (and they will).

  70. No disrespect to other commenters, but the idea that there is no difference between candidates is mind boggling to me. Truly incomprehensible. Is Romney perfect?? No!! But the situation is what it is. And we are called to make the BEST choice...not the PERFECT choice. If we adopt a "the GOP candidate must be a no exceptions candidate or else I'm voting 3rd party" mentality, we can just go ahead and plan to have Roe v. Wade around forever.

  71. I have to admit though, in some ways, I agree with Marc, and Mark Shea as well - give me a candidate who at least support grave evil (Obama - abortion, Romney-torture). And that's probably why I will vote for Ron Paul. It's not that I like the libertarian leanings all that much, but at least he's a candidate that doesn't support grave evil. On the other hand I have the luxury of doing that because I live in the one state that would still turn blue for Obama even if all the living people voted for Romney. (If you all catch my drift... *rolls eyes*)

    I'd have a better chance of my vote counting if I voted for Teddy Roosevelt.

    Hmmmm there's an idea...

  72. Sounds like a lot of conservatives in blue states don't vote in certain elections because it "won't matter anyway". That is a real bummer. Who knows how it could have gone? Maybe more red voters would giver other lukewarm folks some courage.

    Also, torture. Define it? I'm being dead honest here, I don't know if I think waterboarding is torture. After all, I would have no trouble seeing my son in the Marines or the Navy Seals, knowing that they would be waterboarding him in training. I wouldn't even blink, and I would be asking him all about it afterwards, as I'm sure he'd have a lot to say! But if, in his training, they were going to pull his fingernails out or electrocute his genitals? I would not stand for it! I'm pretty sure those things are torture!! (I think Oliver North said he's been waterboarded about 30 times in his career? Are we willing to say that the military uses torture to train recruits? If so, then what to do about the military?)

    Anyway, the jury's out on that issue, but I'm open to being convinced.

  73. Leila, I'm totally with you on the waterboarding issue. It's very difficult for me to call it actual torture, when while uncomfortable, there is no lasting damage and we even do it to our own guys for training. Even so, like you said, the jury is out. What it's not out on is abortion.

  74. Leila- No, I really don't have a problem with families making less than $33,000 a year playing less taxes and families making more than $300,000 paying more. Just as I expect more from my nephew because his skills and natural talents make him a natural leader....I also expect more from the families who are our nation’s natural financial leaders. It is about having an expectation we are not to waste our natural talents or our resources.

    I don't care if you make $300,000 a year if you pay your taxes, pay your employees a fair wage, and provide for your family and pay your debts. After you do all that and you want to go blow the rest of your money in a casino- that's your business. I'm allowed to think it is wasteful and you are allowed to say "It is my money- so there."

    Some of the left are just plain greedy. They don't want you to have the nice boat until and when they can have the nice boat too. That's wrong.

    But a lot of the left have an issue with the fact a vast majority of the wealth in this country being concentrated in a very small percentage because they believe something went wrong in the "pay your taxes, pay fair wages, provide for your family and pay your debts" portion of the equation.

    There are some great small business owners. I'm sure your husband is one of them. So was my dad. They are honest and fair people who sometimes get squeezed because others don't play nicely in the sandbox.

    But there are some small business owners who aren't as upstanding. Take my former boss. He spent years working hard to build up his practice and no one on his staff begrudged him the lion share the profits. But then for about a year, he was gone 2 to 3 weeks out of every month. Not, he was gone doing business- it was all personal time. The support staff stepped up and we did what we could to cover his absence. We worked late, we worked weekends, we did the lion share of the work. We dealt with the upset costumers. But credit and rewards were never given to the staff and he and his wife started wondering why they were leaking talent.

    He and his wife got very defensive and circled the wagons because it was "their" business. Nevermine the rest of us were working to support our families as well and there is no way my boss could have maintained the business on his own. Was his reputation important- of course it was. That's why he got the bigger pay check, the nicer benefits, the cool vacation and the respect and prestige. But his reputation was maintained in his absence by his staff.

    The only way he hanged on to the talent he had as long as he did was because there were NO other jobs. Trust me, we all were looking. (No, not when we were supposed to be working.) He took advantage of the poor economy to treat his workers unjustly. That's also wrong.

    This is why the left gets the support it does. Because a lot of Americans see nasty business practices in place. A lot of Americans have an issue with someone that does little work take home the biggest paycheck while others work like dogs and barely make it. I've never met someone who doesn't agree the boss deserves more pay. The argument isn't you can't have the money you earned but did you truly earn it?

    I have tremendous respect for you Leila. My mom always taught me not to talk about money or politics and here I am doing both so I'm a bit nervous. I don't always agree with you- not out of a desire to be contentious but usually because I don't understand. I also try to keep in mind you are a mother of 8 and have seen and done far more than I have and know more about some things than I do.

    But there is something very wicked at work in our country. The same justifications and attitudes which I've seen my friends used to turn against life growing inside them are starting to show up in the workplace. It terrifies me what will happen if we let that selfishness and hate take a hold in our business and economy just as we have in our social morality.

  75. See I'd classify waterboarding as torture. Anything that is designed to make someone fear the termination of their life at the hands of someone else is torture in my mind. I think about it this way - if a criminal suspect reveals information in a situation where police have placed undue duress (no use of the bathroom for 12 hours or more, no water for hours upon hours, not providing them with an opportunity to sit down, not giving them opportunities to rest, etc... etc...) then that information is said to be coerced and is not reliable.. Regardless of citizenship, the information is either coerced or not. If it's a coercion in this situation, it's a coercion in a situation such as waterboarding and it is as equally unreliable, if not more so, because waterboarding is so much more cruel.

    I'm sorry, waterboarding military personnel is not the same thing. While the actions maybe similar, the fear is missing. These are guys who are trained to put their lives into the hands of their compatriots, their fellow soldiers, they cannot possibly feel the same fear an enemy combatant being exposed to the same treatment. And the FEAR in combination with the action is what increases waterboarding to a level of torture. Not all damage is physical.

    You (royal you) may not have a problem with your sons experiencing waterboarding at the hands of their superiors during training, but would you be comfortable with your sons experiencing waterboarding at the hands of an extremist terrorist group who would not care in the slightest, if your (royal you still) son "accidentally" stayed under the water a little longer than supposed to and died.

    We are all fond of saying that the rights found in the Constitution come from God and are simply protected by the Constitution. If this is truly the case, then this includes the right to not be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment - and if this is right from God, then it applies to EVERYONE, not just citizens of the US.
    If not allowing a criminal to go to the bathroom for over 12 hours constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, waterboarding should easily be considered cruel and unusual punishment.

    Anyway, that's my two cents on that.

    My comment about my voting and the state, I live in Illinois. Even if 90% of living voters managed to vote for Romney the 185% of dead registered voters in Cook CO alone would see to it that Obama was reelected. That's what I mean by that. I'd love to say I'm speaking hyperbole, but dude, this is Illinois, our last two governors are in JAIL. And if he's not careful, our current one may end up there soon enough. I can't wait to get out of this backwards state.

  76. Why don't I like Sandra Fluke? Because she's a lying liar who lies, and I have no sympathy for anyone who claims she can't afford $9 per month for birth control yet flies off to vacation in Spain with her rich boyfriend. Surely he can afford the $9 per month if she can't?

  77. Amen, JoAnna. I'm still not entirely sure how she managed to get national attention. I guess for the MSM it really is whoever has the loudest, whiniest voice gets the most attention. You know... that explains a lot!

  78. StarFireKK, I know it is an uncomfortable discussion, and I don't like disagreeing with you. I actually hate talking about this stuff. :)

    First, your employer became a jerk. Lazy and inconsiderate. I can't account for that. I know that bad behavior is not the sole domain of employers. There are many employees who are that way as well (my son couldn't believe when he joined the work force for the first time how much disrespect and backtalk was given to the manager). All that tells me is that human nature is sinful. My main question to you would be: Did he pay you a fair wage? Or, was he defrauding you of your wages? That is the "Catholic" question. If you think you were paid fairly for work done then it doesn't matter what else he decided for himself (Matt. 20:1-16). And unlike government (which we can never break from, no matter how unjust or unfair or abusive), most people do have an opportunity to find another employer if they are terribly unhappy.

    You say something has gone terribly wrong. If you are talking about the uber rich conglomerates, I can't speak to that. Big business surely has much evil in its halls, for sure. But those folks, as we've said, will do well whether or not Obama taxes the hell out of them. And still the deficit will barely budge. But in the meantime, he will have crushed all the small and medium businesses. Heck, who would even want to start a business? It's scary knowing that the gov't could take away everything you've worked for, if you miss a regulation, or if your accountant messes up the taxes, or if you can't navigate bureaucratic red tape.

    People who don't want to be employees should start a business. Why don't they? Because it's damn scary and a complete risk! We must applaud, not demonize the ones who are willing to risk everything! It took years and years for us to go forth with that dream. It seemed 'safer' to stay as an employee.

    Then you get dropped into the real world of being a business owner. My husband not only pays income tax (of course, and no one is saying he shouldn't), but he now also has to write a check quarterly for a business tax. A big check. A check that actually could be used to pay more of our kids' college tuitions so that they don't have to take out loans. A check that could be used for my younger kids' Catholic education. A check that could be used to help me get some of these families funded to get those orphans home, or send a bigger tithe to St. Vincent de Paul, etc. He almost has a panic attack writing that check. I'm not complaining, honest, but it's frustrating to see how much good could be done with the money that is taken to be wasted by the feds. It's okay, I get it. But I don't want to see taxes going up on people who are not "rich" to begin with.

    to be continued….

  79. And I have to be honest. I don't see the correlation between the guy who was a loser boss to you, and Obama's speech about taxing him more. Is it a punitive thing, then? Because I'm not getting how the government taxing him more would have helped you, the employee. I admit I may be missing something.

    Again, what is a 'fair share'? Is there a percentage of income that you think should be enough, or do you want to keep it open ended? Maybe it's just my personality or my sensibilities, but even when I was making $15,000 at my first job, I never once wanted to see anyone's taxes raised. Not even Oprah, not even the wealthy liberal elite. I don't think anyone should have their taxes raised. When my husband was making $26,000 a year with a wife and three kids, I was very much in favor of letting everyone, even Bill Gates for all I cared, keep as much of his money as possible. I figure people can best decide how to use their money better than the government can. I just never begrudged folks their money. It is actually totally foreign to me to think that people call for higher taxes on others. Maybe I am weird. I think we all pay a helluva lot of taxes. Again, what is a "fair share" and why do you think the top wage earners are not paying their "fair share" already (since they are paying almost 100% of all income taxes collected?

    (Of course, there are more than just income taxes and business taxes. There is nothing that's not taxed today: )

    Bottom line for me (and again we are free to disagree on these policy issues and philosophical issues) is this:

    1) Taxing the "rich" is not going to make a meaningful difference in the massive deficit, but could very well hurt the economy as the truly rich just decide to go elsewhere or not to expand, and many of the lesser "rich" (according to Obama) will eventually close their doors (or definitely not expand to that second restaurant or store, which could bring them to and above that punitive and arbitrary $250,000 "millionaire" mark).

    2) Call me naive, but I have always seen business owners and entrepreneurs as heroes, doing something courageous and good for their communities and the country (not talking about my husband here; he doesn't even have any employees yet). Whatever evils are in big business (and yes, there are there, as in any human enterprise!) are dwarfed by the evils of big government. I fear a big government and what it can do to me a million times more than what a big corporation can do to me (what can it do?). Look at history. Governments are what oppress and ruin and even execute. They have absolute power and we should not be looking to give them more. We should have a very healthy fear of government control and expansion. I know that there are many people who trust government more than business, and I have never, ever understood that. If I had to choose between trusting an American businessman or an American politician, I'd pick the businessman. (And I'm privy to the inside of both worlds.)

    3) I never, ever in my life have felt the need to tax people more than they already are, no matter who they are. I figure we are all taxed enough, and perhaps the government should live like the rest of us who have to live within their means. I despise pitting poor against middle class against rich. It just goes against everything in me. Class wars give me the shivers. Envy, as I've said, is just as much a deadly sin as greed.

    Okay, that's it for tonight! I hope we are still friends! :)

  80. Wait, sorry, not done yet. You said:

    No, I really don't have a problem with families making less than $33,000 a year playing less taxes and families making more than $300,000 paying more.

    No one said that people making $33,000 should pay the same amount as someone making $300,000. No one anywhere, ever. But that was not the question.

    Just as I expect more from my nephew because his skills and natural talents make him a natural leader....I also expect more from the families who are our nation’s natural financial leaders. It is about having an expectation we are not to waste our natural talents or our resources.

    We expect many things from people with great talents and abilities and gifts. But the government is not a kind uncle, and the way he "expects" something from a citizen is by confiscating it. By force. Yes, the force is legal, and yes, we all need to pay taxes. But we cannot pretend some benevolence there, or altruistic motive. The government only gets what it gets by confiscating it from citizens. Is it a necessary evil? YES. We must pay taxes. But the power of the government to tax us should not be unlimited, no matter how much Uncle Sam "expects" of us. The government does not love me and care for me (even though liberals believe that it does -- but that is a whole other subject).

    You could "expect" and get a lot more from me if you let me have and spend more of my own money, rather than having the government confiscate it and spend (waste) it before I even see it. I promise you that. :)

  81. Bethany, first of all, my condolences for living in Illinois, ha ha. Second, I will ponder your points, I will. I changed my view on the death penalty when I became a practicing Catholic so one never knows what I will end up with regarding waterboarding.

    However, to say that the approval of the waterboarding of two or three heinous terrorists (at the hands of what is actually the most benevolent military on earth -- do you know how other nations routinely treat their prisoners?), does not make me disqualify Romney as a candidate, nor do I see it as a moral equivalent with the slaughter of the innocent unborn, which Obama does not only approve of, he champions, even past birth. So, I can't see a moral equivalence there at all.

  82. JoAnna, that link you provided makes me sick. This is the poor victim that the Democrats hold up for all to see.


  83. Leila - Please don't misunderstand me. I have no problems with people voting for Romney, the thought of having four more years of Obama brings me to tears, and if I lived in ANY other state, I'd be right there with you, especially a swing state. Mainly because I am coming to agree with other conservative principles and I can no longer vote democrat given their party platform.

    Like I said, I have the luxury, given the state I live in, to vote for Ron Paul knowing full well that this state is so backwards it would go for Obama regardless of what the current populous votes for. And I do so, partly because I'm kind of with my husband, in some ways I think we need to move to a Parliamentary system, so as to allow more than two political parties to have a say in our government, rather than trying (and failing most times) to smash the entire US population in to two parties, that very few people actual buy into their platforms 100%. Consider my ineffective vote a protest vote against the failing two party system as a whole. :) I hope that makes more sense.

    As far as the benevolency (why isn't this a word, it totally should be) of our military, I do not deny it. As I said, though, the Constitution which is document protecting our rights from God, states very clearly about not subjecting any citizen to cruel and unusual punishment; but if the rights do come from God, I cannot in good conscious say that waterboarding in not cruel and unusual punishment and rights that come from God apply to everyone equally. In that matter, if even 1 abortion allowed by law is too many, then even 1 POW waterboarded is, likewise, too many.

    I hope that makes sense.

  84. Makes total sense, yes! (If the Church ever says that waterboarding specifically is torture, i.e., is intrinsically evil, like abortion, then I am with you. I wonder if it's more like capital punishment though, and is almost never warranted, but not intrinsically evil? I don't know.)

    As for parliamentary systems, I pray it never goes that way. As my husband says (who has worked in politics for almost thirty years) our votes, our ideas will be even more irrelevant and marginalized if that were to happen. The two party system is the best in the world. Have you seen any better system of government out there, other than ours? Parliamentary systems are a mess.

    That is a whole other issue, ha ha! And again, one on which we can legitimately disagree. :)

  85. **I should add, some folks say that the death penalty falls under "cruel and unusual" punishment. And still, the Church does not call it intrinsically evil, though to be avoided almost at all costs.

  86. Cannot agree with you on water-boarding or on other "enhanced interrogation" techniques. I believe that the Church has spoken clearly about the need to treat prisoners humanely under all circumstances. She need not "make a list" of those techniques that are contravened--I think the golden rule speaks to this.

    "Gaudium et Spes 27: Furthermore, whatever is opposed to life itself, such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia or wilful self-destruction, whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself; whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where (people) are treated as mere tools for profit, rather than as free and responsible persons; all these things and others of their like are infamies indeed. They poison human society, but they do more harm to those who practice them than those who suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are supreme dishonor to the Creator."

    Your argument seems to boil down to: they are bad people, who we must treat badly. If that is the argument, then "they" can make the same argument when they capture our troops, most of whom, btw, are not trained Navy Seals, but ordinary soldiers. Furthermore, if no lasting damage is done, then is it OK to threaten our prisoners with torturing their children, if we don't really do it?

    Now, this being said, I do not believe that Obama is any better on this subject that Romney. I absolutely understand why anyone can believe that Gov Romney is a better candidate than Pres Obama, based on a myriad of issues, such as Obama's hatred of the Church, his support for unfettered abortion, rejection of religious liberty, economic issues, etc etc etc.

    The Church teaches that ALL human beings are to be treated with respect for their life and human dignity as creations in God's image. Jesus taught that this applies to our enemies as well as our friends.

  87. "Your argument seems to boil down to: they are bad people, who we must treat badly."

    WOW. Really??? That's how you chose to interpret my argument?? Where on earth did I say anyone MUST be treated badly?? Asinine. Please be intellectually honest. Not to mention you made a gigantic leap from waterboarding to torturing children. Come on.

    See, this is what irritates me with the waterboarding issue. Opponents talk about it as though we're waterboarding every Tom, Dick and Mohammad that we capture and we just do it for the entertainment. Seriously irks me.

    The reality is, it's been used 2 or 3 times and it WORKED. It seems to only be used in very rare and extreme circumstances. I would argue that it's not inhumane (painful and uncomfortable, I'm sure!), and I'm certain that during the times these enemies of the state weren't being waterboarded, they were treated like royalty...even given Korans, which they have used to recruit more enemies! But we still give them Korans because, like Leila said, we're the most benevolent military in the world.

    And yeah...I get what Jesus taught about human dignity. I have just a LITTLE experience with that, but thanks for the lecture.

    Like Leila, if the Church ever came out and determined that waterboarding is, in fact, a grave evil, then I will stand with the Church (and yes, she would certainly make a list, as this is a very particular, contraversial technique). But I think Leila is right in that it is probably one of those things like the death penalty - it should very rarely be used but is not inherently evil.

  88. Well I asked my husband, the theologian, about all of this and he's comment was that the Church does not get specific, as MaryMargaret stated, on instances of torture. It doesn't, and shouldn't, have to.

    And royal treatment???? Ummm two words - Abu Gharib. Not exactly royal treatment.

    As I stated before, to simply call waterboarding painful and uncomfortable is to dismiss the accompanying fear and humiliation that is wrought by it - feelings that cannot be simulated in a training. It's those feelings that move it from a "prudential judgement/death penalty-like" abstraction to torture.

    If failing to provide bathroom breaks to a suspect for hours upon hours is considered cruel and unusual punishment, and waterboarding is so much worse than not being able to use the bathroom for 18 hours, then waterboarding should and is considered cruel and unusual punishment.

    Simply because it doesn't inflict in lasting physical damage to a person, doesn't cease to make it torture. As MaryMargaret quoted in Gaudium et Spes, whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself;
    Making people fear for their life or the lives of their loved ones is torture. At least it is in my mind, and I think the Church is with me on this one.

    However, I can solve this fairly easily though it will take some time. I will write a letter to CDF and ask them to clarify if waterboarding is a form of torture. I'll let you all know what I find out.

  89. Bethany, Abu Ghraib was NOT STATE SANCTIONED and everyone involved got severely punished for their actions!!! That's another incident that irks me about arguments against waterboarding. What happened there was an isolated incident. Again, let's please be intellectually honest. From wiki:

    "The United States Department of Defense removed seventeen soldiers and officers from duty, and eleven soldiers were charged with dereliction of duty, maltreatment, aggravated assault and battery. Between May 2004 and March 2006, eleven soldiers were convicted in courts martial, sentenced to military prison, and dishonorably discharged from service. Two soldiers, Specialist Charles Graner, and his former fiancée, Specialist Lynndie England, were sentenced to ten years and three years in prison, respectively, in trials ending on January 14, 2005 and September 26, 2005."

    Soooo...yeah...not normal.

    Let me address your "fear" argument. If "fear of death" is now considered torture, then I guess all of our military personnel are tortured on a regular basis. Not because they're waterboarded, but because they're sent to war. Let's go even further and say that policemen and firemen are also tortured. They have pretty dangerous jobs where they could fear death. I'd even go further and say that some forms of entertainment are torture. Jumping out of planes, bungee jumping, rock climbing. You might argue that people voluntarily do those things, but I would say that anyone we've waterboarded has voluntarily put himself in a position of being an enemy of the state.

  90. Abu Ghraib was notable precisely because it was not how the U.S. military treats prisoners. There are rogue actors in all human spheres, from the military, to business, to the government, to schools, to the Church.

    Bethany, I am very interested to hear what the CDF has to say on waterboarding (I'm shocked no one has formally asked them yet?). And if you could also ask: "If waterboarding is intrinsically immoral, is it also immoral for the U.S. military or any military to train soldiers to undergo waterboarding?" I think it's a legitimate question.

    And I would speak to prisons themselves. I know a great Catholic apologist, Russ Ford, who just got out of a twenty-five-year stint in an Alabama prison. The conditions he endured were horrific, frankly. But what of prisons, even good ones? Are they a form of torture of mind and body? I think people could argue that they are. But are they intrinsically evil? No, they aren't. We have to have prisons, and they cannot be country clubs. So, I'm offering up more questions than answers. It's all very interesting to me and I just don't know how there are not gray areas on what constitutes torture of mind. (I am pretty sure that Al Queda knows about waterboarding and that no one in America, if they use it, will harm them or kill them bodily).

    Again, just throwing out the question.

  91. Bethany, I don't have much to add, I completely agree with what you've said. Waterboarding is described as "simulated drowning" - pouring water on someone's face so they breathe it in - and I don't think that's something to be taken lightly. It may not be torture to the same degree as cutting someone's hands off, but I would certainly consider it cruel. If it's not that big of a deal, it shouldn't be at all effective in a military situation anyway, right?

    Couple of good things to take a look at: (some of the other pages here are good to read too) (prior to being waterboarded - voluntarily and under controlled conditions, no less - Hitchens was a supporter of the practice)

  92. Michelle, but you are on record - very clearly, repeatedly, and explicitly - as believing that torture is not intrinsically evil if it can save a few lives (even if it's a child who is tortured and even if that torture leads to death).

    So, are you on record with being okay with waterboarding terror suspects?

  93. I'll begin drafting the letter tomorrow. The modern 21st century side of me is a little bugged by the fact that the CDF doesn't have an official e-mail address.

    As far as Abu Gharib not being state-sanctioned, you're correct, but as my husband points out, we don't mind sending POW's to countries where that type of treatment is both acceptable and legal.

    Nicole, the difference between the fear our military has and the fear induced in something like waterboarding or other instances of torture are two different things. The choice one makes in becoming a soldier or a fire-fighter or a policemen or skydiver is greater than you give credit for. First you're assumption is that we NEVER make mistakes about whom we capture and then place into this situations. One mistake is one too many, just as one abortion is one too many. Secondly despite the fear engaged in those types of jobs, the choice allows them the freedom to remove themselves from the fear (albeit, some with additional consequences) if necessary, a POW can do no such thing. Third, they have colleagues, friends, family, counselors, therapists, fellow soldiers, superiors, and countless other people who can help to provide them with the courage needed to overcome their fears and do their jobs (or their recreation). Which leads me to my 4th point the entire point behind waterboarding and all torture is to MAKE someone feel fear, no one person or one group of people is MAKING a fire-fighter feel fear. He or she may feel fear for their life due to the situation they are in, but not because they are purposefully being made to feel fear.

    In a waterboarding situation, someone is intentionally trying to make a person (this is important, an enemy of the state or not, they are a person) fear that they will drown if they do not reveal certain information. It's the modern day equivalent (well maybe not so modern) of the 17th century Salem witch trials, in which they dunked "the witch" until she "admitted" she was a witch. Heck, I'd admit I was a witch, or anyone else, if someone held me under water until I had to start breathing in it in before pulling me back out.

    And truth be told, nearly every professional interrogator worth their price, will tell you there are better ways than any torture including waterboarding.

    Leila, I will ask, but I would say there is a world of difference between a soldier voluntarily agreeing to be placed in that situation for training purposes and a POW who has no such choice.

    You did make this comment:
    (I am pretty sure that Al Queda knows about waterboarding and that no one in America, if they use it, will harm them or kill them bodily). First I would argue it's already harming them, that's the whole point - like we've said before, harm doesn't have to be physical. But given the fact the President Obama, this year, ordered what was essentially "a (successful) hit" on an American Citizen who was also a suspected terrorist - all I can say is, I don't even know if anyone here would kill them.

    As far as prisons go. Some prisons, unfortunately, are incredibly horrific, and they do need to be changed to adequately provide for the prisoners in their care in humane ways. And many prisons do get shut down for failing to provide services or rather subjecting prisoners to cruel and unusual punishment. But in most prisons, and in most cases, the prisoners don't fear for the lives in a direct way - so no I wouldn't classify them as torture. Nazi concentrations camps, Andersonville Prison during the Civil War, they are examples of prisons that could be classified as a torture.

    I realize others disagree with me, and that's fine. Like I said, I will write the CDF and ask for a clarification, it will be interesting to see what comes back.
    But for me, intentionally and directly making someone fear for their life is torture and this is exactly what waterboarding does.

  94. The Hitchens story was fascinating, and I remember reading that back when.

    Bethany, I do understand your points, I think. You are saying that it's specifically fearing for one's life that makes it torture, right?

    Knowing that execution is coming is torturous, then, and yet we don't call execution of heinous criminals intrinsically evil, though it should be exceedingly rare. But I definitely understand that if there are better ways to get info than waterboarding, then those are the techniques that should be used, without question!

    And, I am not sure what this means: "As far as Abu Gharib not being state-sanctioned, you're correct, but as my husband points out, we don't mind sending POW's to countries where that type of treatment is both acceptable and legal."

    Could you clarify?

    Yes, an email address to the CDF would be nice, but then I'm guessing that they would get hundreds of thousands of inquiries a month if they went that route, ack!! I guess I'd keep to snail mail, too… ;)

  95. "Knowing that execution is coming is torturous, then, and yet we don't call execution of heinous criminals intrinsically evil, though it should be exceedingly rare. But I definitely understand that if there are better ways to get info than waterboarding, then those are the techniques that should be used, without question!

    This is essentially exactly what I would have responded. If it's true that there are other just as/more successful techniques, then I'm all for that! But seeing as how we've only waterboarded 2 or 3 people EVER, I can only imagine that it was because it was the ONLY thing that would have worked. I'm pretty sure it's only used as a very, very last resort (as it should be) in extreme circumstances. And again - it worked.

    "First you're assumption is that we NEVER make mistakes about whom we capture and then place into this situations."

    I'm not making that assumption. But I DO assume that since waterboarding has been used so infrequently, that we only use it when we're absolutely, 100% certain we have the right person. Seriously - please stop acting like we use it all the time!!

    And I'm sorry, but I still can't concede that "making someone afraid" is torture. It just doesn't make sense to me.

  96. Leila, that was a hypothetical situation and I've said before that it's so hypothetical that my response is basically worthless, because there's no situation where it'll ever happen. I don't consider "might get information" to be on the same level as "definitely and immediately saving lives." So, no. I don't condone torture except in (hypothetical) cases where the good end significantly outweighs the wrong of torturing and you can be absolutely certain of the result. I'm not sure I can think of a single case where you could be completely certain that you'd reach the desired end, so I struggle to think of a real-life situation where torture could be condoned. I could maybe be convinced otherwise, but my support of torture/killing is staying firmly in the realm of extreme hypothetical situations for now. Heck, I can't even in good conscience support war - real-life torture would be a huge stretch for me. Sorry to ramble, but I just wanted to make that all clear.

    Anyway, even if I thought torture was a fabulous tool, my opinion on its use doesn't have any bearing on whether waterboarding is torture. To me, lasting physical damage (which waterboarding can cause) isn't necessary for something to be deemed torture. If someone, say, held me hostage and told me that at any moment they might kill me, even if they never laid a finger on me, I would consider that torture. Waterboarding, where you're made to feel like your death is imminent - they're basically all but drowning you - I would consider torture in the same regard. Physical and psychological pain don't need to be long-lasting to be traumatic.

  97. Michelle, my question was just about applying your principles. You have a principle that nothing is intrinsically evil. Not that nothing is evil, but that nothing is intrinsically evil. I think that is logically consistent with being an atheist. I don't know why you build up all this talk around it. Just say, "Yes, torture can definitely be moral, since nothing (not even torture, not even rape, not even murder) is intrinsically evil."

    That is a principle that you believe.

    Our Catholic principle, to make a distinction from your principle, is that some acts are intrinsically (of their very nature) evil. Intrinsic evils can never be justified, and are never moral, even under any extreme, crazy, hypothetical circumstance.

    That is for any readers who haven't come across this before. I like to teach and explain our principles and differences from a secular/atheist worldview. That is one big one!

  98. Nicole - I'm not sure why you keep bringing up that waterboarding has only been done 2 or three times (that we know of); the frequency or infrequency is irrelevent if the action is considered intrinsically evil. Otherwise we would consider abortion in cases of rape (<.5% of abortions) just fine. I am arguing that waterboarding is indeed a form of torture and therefore intrinsically evil. Therefore the amount of times it has happened is that many times too many.

    If it's true that there are other just as/more successful techniques, then I'm all for that! But seeing as how we've only waterboarded 2 or 3 people EVER, I can only imagine that it was because it was the ONLY thing that would have worked. I'm pretty sure it's only used as a very, very last resort (as it should be) in extreme circumstances. And again - it worked.
    The irony with this statement is that it gives a LOT of benefit of the doubt for choosing actions that are obviously reflective of Catholic Teaching to a government that has not earned that benefit if the doubt in almost EVERY other area and one that is currently so hostile to Catholic teaching that the most of the original post was pointing this out. If the government has proven time and again that we can't trust it with economics (Social Security, federal bailouts), with families and therefore society (defense of marriage), with healthcare (do i need to cite this), with employment (unemployment rate?), with the rights of people (abortion, euthanasia) and the current administration is openly hostile to religious freedom and the Catholic Church and Catholic teaching in general... I could keep going... then WHY would we trust the government to abide by any of this, or to accurately report anything it does when it comes to these topics - and then on top of it, do you really trust the MSM to report on these things accurately, especially if there is a liberal in the White House? I'm curious.

    Leila as far as those on death row feeling fear for their lives Let me ask you this, and I apologize for answering a question with a question, would it be considered cruel and unusual punishment and consequently torture, if we killed inmates on deathrow by waterboarding them to death?

    I realize that we don't purposefully waterboard POW's to death, the goal is not to kill them, but the goal is to make them THINK we're going to kill them.

    People on death row 2000 years ago, used to be crucified. Was that just the death penalty or was torture?

    My point is that while capital punishment is a matter of prudential judgement and not intrinsically evil, certain executions (pardon the pun) of the death penalty are in fact cruel and unusual punishments and are considered forms of torture.

  99. Haha, I'm not just going to repeat back at you what you think I should say. Things being in theory not intrinsically wrong doesn't mean that that extends to the real world. I can think of ridiculous hypothetical situations involving aliens and interplanetary wars that would make anything acceptable, but they have no bearing on what I think is acceptable for real situations that would actually happen.

    I sense you have no interest in talking about whether waterboarding is torture, which is what I really hoped to discuss...too bad. In that case, I'd like to take issue with something else you and Nicole said. You both said, correct me if I'm wrong, that if the Church decided that waterboarding was torture, you'd change your positions. Does that extend to everything? Is the Church the sole decider of what you consider right and wrong? If (hypothetically) the Church officially condoned something you strongly believed to be intrinsically evil, would you also condone it?

  100. Michelle, if you are a woman of principle, your principles don't change based on hypotheticals vs. real life. They stay the same. Because they are your principles.

    It's hard to take anything you say about torture seriously when you have said that according to your principles, it would be moral for you or anyone to rape, torture, and kill a child in order to prolong the lives of fifty others.

    How on earth can I have a conversation with you about the evils of torture, when that is a principle you hold? Maybe you can get someone else to have that conversation with you, but I think it folly.

    And, yes, absolutely. If the Church taught something as intrinsically wrong, and I thought it was okay, I would absolutely bend my will and submit to the Church, and vice versa. Because the Church's teaching is Christ's teaching. I am not the arbiter of truth. Truth is received and accepted, and no human being is its arbiter. And anything the Church teaches as we go forth with technology (which would be the only question marks still open on the moral law), would be consistent with the moral principles that have come before. So, it wouldn't be some great surprise or switcheroo.

  101. Bethany, I agree that there are some forms of killing that include torture as a part of the killing, which is just heinous. But what I am also saying is that "mental torture" could include walking to the execution room, or even having to ponder what is coming for a day, a week, a year. I think that is nightmarish.

  102. I don't see how it's hard to take me seriously at all. If I said torture was good and should be used liberally, I could still have a valid opinion on whether something is or isn't torture.

    But, I guess we're equal. In bizarre, ridiculous hypothetical situations, I could condone even things I consider morally reprehensible. In the bizarre, ridiculous hypothetical situation that the Church told you to, you would do the same. Our only difference is that I would think about it and have serious misgivings, and you would blindly agree with the Church at the expense of your own better judgment.

    1. Since you've shut out any possibility of discussion on the waterboarding issue, I can leave if you want. I do hope Bethany can carry on and convince you, and that the fact that I agree with her hasn't tainted your view of what she's said.

  103. Michelle, you can definitely have an opinion on what is torture. That is fine. But since you don't think torture is intrinsically evil, then I don't know how it applies to what Bethany and Nicole and I are talking about.

    And in the case of torturing and murdering the little girl, you said it would not be morally reprehensible. You said it was the moral thing to do in that situation, and you said that NOT torturing her would be immoral.

    As for the second part… There is no bizarre hypothetical that the Church told me to do. I know the basic principles of my Church and I know the virtues. Since the Church would never violate the virtues, or the moral law, there is nothing at all that would ever be reprehensible in what the Church pronounced. Unless you can think of something that makes the virtues manifest reprehensively? I can't even see it. Can you give me a hypothetical on that?

  104. I do hope Bethany can carry on and convince you, and that the fact that I agree with her hasn't tainted your view of what she's said.

    Of course it hasn't tainted me! Truth is truth no matter where its found or who is speaking it. I think you believe a lot of things that are true. Everyone believes some truth, and I've never met anyone who denies all truth.

    Bethany and you might be right. Since I am not truth's arbiter, I'll reserve judgement until I hear more. Heck, I was a "fry 'em!!!" girl on the death penalty before I became a faithful Catholic. That was a hard one to let go of (even though it's not an intrinsic evil), and many atheists agree with the Church on that issue.

  105. I see a distinction between the mental torture of knowing that you're actions have incurred the death penalty in the court of law and the torture of pouring water over the face of a POW where they can't even breathe let alone think whether or not their actions have warranted this type of treatment without a trial or a conviction.

    The difference lies in being convicted of a crime and being put to death as a penalty for that crime, and being made to fear that you're are being killed. We don't call the death penalty, murder (in other words the executioner is not murdering the criminal). But if someone died while being waterboarded, they would have been murdered, albeit accidentally (negligent homicide), but it is an important distinction.

    I'll ask again, 'cause I'm curious about your answer - would it be considered cruel and unusual punishment to execute criminals by waterboarding? Why or why not? (And because the military does it to their own soldiers for training is not a licit answer, because as we've already established there's a difference between volunteering to be subjected and being forced to be subjected.

    Which does make me think of Nicole's comment about how POW's have "volunteered" for this treatment by becoming enemies of the state, does that mean our soldiers have "volunteered" to be tortured in POW camps by whomever they've been captured by? Of course it doesn't. The question is not whether or not they deserve torture by volunteering to fight for the "wrong" side, the question is whether or not waterboarding itself is torture. Being made to think you're drowning at the hands of someone else, an action that would warrant the full force of self-defense in any circumstance, is in my mind torture.

    And Michelle, while we may not agree on many things, I am happy to agree with you on this. :)

  106. Right. That is a hypothetical situation that would never happen. Give me a real-life situation that actually happened or a plausible hypothetical, and I'll almost definitely have a different answer for you. Even if the situation we've painfully picked over a thousand times did happen, you would have no way of absolutely knowing that killing/torturing would result in the desired end of 50 people staying alive. To me, that's a judgment call no different than the judgment call to wage war, and it's not a decision I could make easily. Actually, to me it's less grave than the judgment call to wage war, because war will always result in the deaths of innocents.

    The bizarre hypothetical is that the Church would contradict your strongly held moral beliefs. If the Church made a stunning reversal and said that gay marriage was okay, you would become a supporter of gay marriage. Or rape, or murder, or whatever. It doesn't matter if the Church never would actually do this, it's just a hypothetical. Maybe this is an easier way to put it - if the Bible told you that contraception was morally good, you would be in favor of it.

  107. Oh, you are talking about reversal of a moral teaching. In that case, if the Church REVERSED a moral teaching then I would know it's a false church and I have been utterly duped.

  108. Bethany, I'm happy to agree too! I'm glad I waited to jump in, because you've written it all so much better than I could!

    Leila, I appreciate the vote of confidence. If I had to summarize my general principle, it would be to minimize harm. I hope, on some level, we all agree that we should strive to do that, but I think it's how we propose to do that where we begin to part ways. I do believe the common ground is there, it's just very deep down.

  109. Michelle, the reason your hypothetical is confusing is because it's not so much that the Church would never reverse tides and contradict itself, it's that it cannot. It is an impossibility. If the current Pope and/or Magisterium ever declared something in contradiction to Church teaching then they automatically cease to be the Holy Roman Catholic Church, and therefore are not actually contradicting their own teaching, but creating a new church with it's own new teachings.

    Does that make sense?

  110. If I had to summarize my general principle, it would be to minimize harm.

    I know that for a lot of atheists, like Singer, it's more specifically about "minimizing suffering". Would that be more accurate?

  111. What if the Bible said that masturbation or gay marriage or contraception or any number of other things you currently believe to be immoral were in fact moral? If the Church maintained a consistent position on it, you would agree with it, no?

    1. I mean, if the Church had maintained a consistent position from the start on those issues, but their position on them was the opposite of what it is now.

  112. And my principle, to do good and avoid evil (or, to serve the good, not effect the good), does not square with the priority of minimizing suffering or harm. People do evil all the time in the name of "making things better" (that is the ends justify the means principle, which is contradictory to mine).

  113. Michelle, the Bible came from the Church. The New Testament is simply the part of Church teaching and truth (Sacred Tradition) that was written down. It does not contradict the Church's oral teaching. It's all the same. Neither the Church nor her Scriptures say that gay sex or masturbation are good, and in fact the opposite is true. So, I'm not understanding the question?

  114. You mean, if Jesus Christ, who is God, taught that masturbation was good? Then that is what the Church would have taught for 2,000 years unbroken, and if I were a follower of Christ and His Church then that would be truth. But it's not the truth, that's not how it happened, and that is not the moral law.

    It's sickening for me to even say those words, because it's NOT true and that is NOT what Christ or the Church ever taught or ever will teach. So, it's very, very weird to posit that God would have taught something we know (in reality) know is evil, as a good.

  115. I think I get it.

    The answer, Michelle, would be yes. If both God through the Bible from the beginning of time itself, and Christ himself had taught that gay-marriage was in fact a good, and the Church that Christ established taught that from the beginning then, yes, that would be a teaching of the Catholic Faith and we would be under obligation to believe it, more over the action would be reflective in natural law and would be able to be reasoned as such. HOWEVER (and that's a HUGE however) that is NOT what God nor Christ nor the Church Christ established taught or has taught since the beginning of time, it is not reflected in natural law nor can it be reasoned as a part of natural law.

  116. If nothing else, I hope you see why I don't like my answer to a hypothetical situation being paraded around your blog, because it sickens me to think of killing and torturing people.

    I guess, then, my question is what wouldn't you be willing to believe? If Jesus approved it, is anything off limits?

  117. Here's the thing Michelle, if Jesus and consequently God, from the beginning of time, had approved something quite the contrary to what we think of today as moral, let's say our current example of torture, then torture itself would not be seen by most people, regardless of religious affiliation as acceptable and moral as well. It would be able to be reasoned to by anyone and everyone regardless of whether Jesus promoted it or not.

    In other words, we all, you included most likely, would all be in favor of torture in whatever situations had been deemed appropriate. It seems unthinkable and completely bass-ackwards at this point, precisely because it wasn't declared as truth in that manner. But if it had, the world would be completely different.

  118. In other words, it's not simply because Jesus Christ proclaimed it good, it's that it is the TRUTH. TRUTH is transcendent, it IS God. If torture was indeed Good, then it would be proclaimed as such by God, as Truth. If gay-marriage was indeed good, then it would be proclaimed as such by God, as Truth. And when I say proclaimed by God, I mean, it would not only be revealed through God and Christ (and found good in the Bible), but be reasoned to through natural law (i.e. gay-sex would result in a higher good than simply the good emotions of the partners involved, such as the procreation of the species).

    Does that make sense?

  119. Michelle, but the hypothetical I keep trotting out is based on your stated principle. I didn't put words in your mouth.

    Since God is Goodness (his essence) then whatever He spoke forth or declared or designed would only be Good. So, if Goodness Himself held or created that homosexual acts were Good, then indeed they would be Good!

    Of course, that is not the case.

    The hostage hypothetical can operate in this world, and in concert with your principles. The hypothetical you are positing for us (God of the Hypothetical being the opposite of God as He is) cannot be operative in this world or this reality.

  120. I guess, then, my question is what wouldn't you be willing to believe?

    But there is the irony! It is not Catholicism which has beliefs that are going every which a way and which reverses and contradicts itself according to the spirit of the age. That is everyone BUT Catholicism. We are the ones who don't fall for any new "progressive" "truth" that is out there, and we have not wavered in what we believe.

  121. Leila, of course you didn't put words in my mouth. I never once said you did. But you are trotting out something that I have said I would condone in a hypothetical that I do not think could ever happen. Just like you don't believe that the Church could ever reverse position on something.

    Your principle is that you would believe whatever the Bible told you, regardless of what it said. You're twisting my hypothetical to make it sound otherwise, but if the Bible said rape was good and the rest of the world said it wasn't (forget whether or not it would actually say that, the point of a hypothetical is that it doesn't have to actually be possible), you would say rape was good. Right?

  122. No, Michelle, no. It's not the same.

    Your principle exists on earth. There are tons of folks who believe as you do that, ultimately, the end justifies the means. That there is no intrinsic evil.

    That is not analogous to what you are proposing, which is, "Well, what if the moon WAS made of green cheese?" or "What if the earth WAS flat?" or "What if pigs COULD fly?" You are wanting me to operate in a hypothetical WORLD, not in a hypothetical situation grounded in THIS world.

    And, the fact that you keep saying "You would believe whatever the Bible told you" still gives me a suspicious that you don't fully know the difference between a Catholic paradigm and a Protestant one. Which is okay, but it just strikes me odd to hear you use that phrase.

  123. A man named Jesus is born of a virgin and says he's the son of God and performs miracles and preaches about morality and then dies and comes back to life. A church is founded on the basis of his teachings. Only problem: one of the things he preached was that rape was good. Everything else is perfectly logical and lines up with reason. Do you believe it or not?

    Basically, what I'm asking: if you reason something to be bad, but the being dictating your morals tells you you're wrong, it's actually good, would you believe something that runs counter to your reason? I sense you're trying to avoid answering my question, but that is what hypotheticals are about - forcing you to think about a situation that doesn't necessarily need to be possible.

    1. By "believe it" I of course mean "believe that rape is good".

  124. Michelle, you are missing something. If God handed down the moral law and there was something that just sort of "stuck out" as being illogical in it (rape) that was utterly inconsistent with everything else that the moral law said, then either there is something very wrong with my ability to reason, or else there is something very inconsistent and incoherent about the moral law (which means it's not from God, who is perfectly coherent and perfectly consistent).

    So, again, you think I'm dodging, but you haven't set up a coherent hypothetical. But if you are asking what if God had a whole different moral law, and a whole different (reversed) type of "good", and if He was in fact that different "Goodness" himself, then when He created us (and created our minds to reason), then he would have made us to see, through reason, the consistency of that (different) "good". We would not see glaring contradictions in the moral law of even this "other" God, assuming he was actually "the" God.

    Let's apply principles.

    I believe that God is a God of non-contradiction.

    So He cannot hand down a law that is all good except for rape. The only way that could be the case is if rape were seen and known as a good by men and women, the ultimate end of which brought us to our greatest happiness. And if it were, then…. there is no problem.

    Now again, that is silly, because it's a "moon made of green cheese" argument.

    Actually, hypotheticals to me are about testing one's principles, and you can't test a principle on something that has no basis in truth or reality.

    By the way, just to be technical: The Church was founded BY Christ, and not just on the basis of His teachings. To put a finer point on it: The Church is the Mystical Body of Christ.

    1. And we've told you, if the Church suddenly reversed her moral teachings, then she's not the Church. Principle: The Church does not change (nor does she have authority to change) the moral law. If that were somehow to change (which it won't), she is then a fraud.

  125. I do still think you're dodging, but I can't force you to answer.

    I do want to bring it back to the idea that got me started on this tangent, though.

    If the Church taught something as intrinsically wrong, and I thought it was okay, I would absolutely bend my will and submit to the Church, and vice versa.

    So, if you were dead certain that waterboarding was cruel and unusual, and the Church said, no, it's totally fine to dump water on someone's face so that they inhale it and feel like they're drowning, you would change your mind? If you'd started out as anti-death penalty and the Church approved of it, you would change your mind?

  126. First, you don't understand the teaching on the death penalty, so here is this from when Pope Benedict was prefect for the CDF:

    Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.

    Death penalty is not intrinsically evil.

    Now, for an example that might help you see this better. The bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The Church teaches that the indiscriminate bombing of large populations is inherently evil. Do you know how many Americans, good people, think it's okay? Many. Many, including me at one time, and including my husband who still struggles with it today (if he didn't mightily struggle to submit to the Church, he would still be a strong proponent of it). That is true submission to legitimate authority, even when your instinct tells you that something is wrong. In this case (as in so many others, like contraception, for example) a soul must choose. If you know who God is, and if you know how Truth comes to us, you submit, and that is a struggle at times, but it's a joy in the end.

    Is your "truth" based solely on what your opinion is? If so, then what is the difference between truth and opinion? (One atheist long ago admitted to me that for her, truth = opinion; unfortunately, that goes contrary to the words' definitions, but I can see why that is so for an atheist, and I appreciated her admission.)

    If you think that answering the question from about five different angles, in every incarnation possible, is dodging, then so be it. It could be that you simply don't understand.

    1. Meaning, the Hiroshima bombings might help you see better the subject we've been discussing. Didn't mean to make it seem like it was analogous to the death penalty (it's not).

  127. No, you are dodging. I asked specific questions and you didn't answer them directly. But what I gather from your response: yes, you would change your mind if the Church contradicted your deeply held convictions.

    I think that's wrong. I don't think of "truth" in the same way you do - I think of it as the set of all facts about the universe, plus a bit of what you're pretty sure about the universe. I wrote a post about it here that explains it better: (I hate when people post links to their own blog, but I think I comment here enough that I can get away with it once!). See, for me, morality does not exist outside of us, and so moral judgments must be arrived at through reason. Not everyone is going to come to the same conclusions - a utilitarian framework is often going to give you a different conclusion than a deontological framework, for instance. My own moral judgments have led me to conclude that the death penalty and Hiroshima were wrong, and I didn't need anyone to tell me that. Once you start relying on someone else to distinguish right and wrong for you (as in the case of bending your opinion of waterboarding to the Church's), I think you can run the risk of devaluing the importance of your own better judgment.

  128. Note the consistency of truth. It was not and is not the Church whose teaching on Hiroshima (indiscriminate bombing) is inconsistent with the "whole" of her teaching. The inconsistency is with any Catholic, including my husband, who was FOR the bombings, while being in line with the rest of the Church's teachings. It was his challenge, then, and a certain path to further holiness, to bend his will and make his will align with the Church's teachings (i.e., God's will). Humility, obedience. These are hallmarks of the saints.

    Consistency on the issue of contraception, as well… Many Catholics align their wills on abortion with the Church. But they reject the Christian teaching on contraception, preferring instead the easy route, and they align themselves instead not with the consistent teaching of Christianity, but with the abrupt break from it, and instead align their beliefs with the enemy of the Church and the enemy of life and chastity: Planned Parenthood. So, you get this unnatural, abrupt and harsh break that is inconsistent. (When you tell them they are embracing Planned Parenthood values in opposition to the Church's unbroken teaching…. they cannot even respond except to continue to defend their own (and Planned Parenthood's) opinion as to why it's okay to break from the moral law as its always stood.

    Anyway, consistency.

    If the Church suddenly put rape as consistent with chastity, life and love, then you'd see a complete break with consistency of Truth. It won't ever happen.

  129. Many people use their better judgement to torture and kill.

    And, I did answer you. In this universe, if the "Church" suddenly said rape (or gay marriage, or contraception) was a "good", then it's a false church and I would leave.

    Said that, a couple of times.

    So, ???

  130. Let me try to get at this from another angle, because I don't think my question is unreasonable.

    Basically, if someone has logically and carefully thought out the answer to a moral issue where the Church has taken a strong position, and their answer disagrees with the Church, you would rather that they set aside their own reasoning and promote the Church's view, even if their reasoning tells them otherwise. If I were to tell you right now that even though I cannot for the life of me arrive at a conclusion that tells me gay marriage is wrong, I am going to believe what the Church says even though I don't believe reason points to it, would you say that that is a better decision than continuing to believe what my reason tells me?

  131. If Jesus is God and if the Church teaches truth, then yes, you would submit to his Truth.

    If there is no God, and no legitimate authority to submit to, then objective truth doesn't exist and you can believe whatever you want.

  132. Where does reason come from?

    And, if one is a Catholic, and if one has a cohesive, consistent view of human sexuality that has been beautifully been exhorted and unpacked in multiple ways and layers, and then something jarring comes in that unravels the entire philosophy and truth of human sexuality (which gay sex does, if you try to place it in the Catholic vision of sexuality), then why would one assume that the Church (who has the consistent vision) is wrong and the person (who frankly just came on the scene, with a particular cultural bias) is rightly reasoning?

    I would never be so prideful to think that I could put a discordant, sour note into a completed masterpiece concerto and then tell the composer that this definitely "fits", so your piece was wrong.

    Can you at least grasp the concept of what I'm trying to get across to you? Even if you don't agree?

    Gay sex has no place in the Church's vision of marriage or human sexuality. It is a discordant, sour note in the concerto.

    Whether you like the concerto or not, the sour note imposed there does not fit.

  133. If I were to tell you right now that even though I cannot for the life of me arrive at a conclusion that tells me gay marriage is wrong, I am going to believe what the Church says even though I don't believe reason points to it, would you say that that is a better decision than continuing to believe what my reason tells me?

    I'd say that's some faulty reasoning on your part.
    Take into account evidence, and leave emotion at the door.

    1) Natural law: If gay people can't naturally, biologically reproduce then natural law goes against you. Humans are not biologically built for that. Check that off the reasoning list.

    2) Moral law goes against it, too. Two strikes against your reasoning.

    What other laws are you going to try to hang on to?
    A what point do you just reconsider that your reasoning is incorrect? Never?

    In this case, there's a lot of straight up reason going against you.

    At what point do you have enough humility to say, "Hey, I might be wrong in my reasoning."

    What is your reasoning, beyond your emotions, that tells you this is lawfully and objectively a-ok? Take emotions and feelings out of it, what's left? Again, without emotion, what is your lawful reasoning?

  134. See, to me, that's arrogant. I can say that there is no god and that reason should dictate our morals with some amount of certainty, but I would never tell anyone to blindly agree with me. Sure, there are some situations where blind obedience may be good, but when it comes to making moral decisions, I think individual reason needs to trump authority.

    Nubby, I'm not going to argue about gay marriage with you. It's a complete tangent, no one here has ever said a convincing thing about it, and I don't have time. Sorry, maybe another time, but not now.

  135. Looks like it's time to repost this comment from Monica way back when...

    I think the sentiment you expressed is one held by many- that Catholics blindly follow the Vatican, and never use their brains.

    Once a person accepts certain premises that then draws him or her to the Church, they do not cease to think for themselves. However, let's take human sexuality for an example, once I accept the premises that lead me to the Church, the Church's view of human sexuality is infinitely logical and well-reasoned. Even difficult teachings, such as those on sterilization for women who risk their lives during pregnancy, or the teaching that gays must remain celibate, fit perfectly with the tapestry of life that the Church teaches. It doesn't make them easy teachings, but their "ease" is totally unrelated to their "reasonableness" or "truthfulness".

    And when those premises are accepted, and a person then hears another Catholic teaching, they don't think to themselves, "Well, that makes no sense, but I'll follow blindly." They hear it, and they think, "Yes, this fits. Another piece of the puzzle that fits perfectly." And if a member of the Catholic clergy starts spouting nonsense, well, then a thinking Catholic will call him on it. This happens regularly.

    Because of the absolute consistency in Catholic teaching, it is nice to be able to look up the answers in the back of the book, so to speak. But as someone who has gone through (hopefully) a thorough catechism, a Catholic realizes they aren't answers pulled out of thin air, they are well-reasoned under the premises of Christianity. And so, when a question like the infamous "trolley car switch" comes up, we might do a quick google search on Catholic Answers and feel pretty confident with the answer and reasoning provided.

    I am not a moralist or a theologian, and so I let the experts do what they are meant to do- look at situations like tubal pregnancies, euthanasia, etc, and reason it out. I am smart enough to then follow their logical explanation and agree that it's logical. In the same way, I agree to let oncologists treat a cancer, because they are the experts. But if a doc suddenly tells me I need to sleep with a quartz crystal under my pillow, I would sense a logical problem and do a bit more digging. I hope that comparison makes sense.

  136. JoAnna, that is perfect! I remember that comment from Monica, and I should keep it handy. I'm glad you did!

  137. Nubby, I'm not going to argue about gay marriage with you.

    I'm not asking for an argument. I asked you for your lawful evidence. What law or objective law are you hanging your hat on that says, "Yes, gay marriage is reasonable according to this, that and the other."

    Can you tell me without including any of the following:
    1) "People deserve to be happy"
    2) "People in love should be allowed to marry"
    3) Any other emotionalism

    Just evidence of the lawful kind, not the emotional kind.

  138. That is a good comment, and it does make sense, JoAnna. Wasn't really what I was asking (of course, ideally someone will agree with you intellectually and not just blindly), but I get your point.

    Alright. I am going to drop out now in favor of doing the large quantities of work I have waiting for me. Thanks for the discussion!

  139. Michelle, thanks, and I hope you will come back soon!

    Nubby, it's one of the head scratchers of my life: What is the source of truth for athiests? I think it was MaiZeke who claimed that ojective truth exists but has no source? (That made my brain hurt, unless she was unknowingly making the case that Objective Truth = God, and then she just ceased to be an atheist!

    I can't get out of the idea that an atheist's truth is based on emotion. How else to describe it? For example, we can determine who/what is a human being based on science. Personhood? Not determined by science. It's totally subjective, metaphysical, philosophical. So, the part of the moral law that deals with abortion, at least for those who argue "personhood", is not based in science, it's based in emotion/subjective opinion. Other parts of the moral law, such as gay "marriage"? Like you said, it's arguments like "because they deserve to be happy" or "because it's not harming anyone" -- those are emotional arguments, not based in any objective truth system or lawful evidence.

  140. See, to me, that's arrogant. I can say that there is no god and that reason should dictate our morals with some amount of certainty, but I would never tell anyone to blindly agree with me. Sure, there are some situations where blind obedience may be good, but when it comes to making moral decisions, I think individual reason needs to trump authority.

    I know Michelle has left and I'm late to the convo, but I have to comment on this.

    It's actually the opposite of arrogance. First, no one is being asked to blindly agree with anything. So much has been written on the doctrines of the faith, including issues like abortion, contraception, homosexuality, etc. Blind? People have no excuse to be blind! The information is there, for their consumption. John Paul II gave us the entire Theology of the Body to explain to us human sexuality. It's huge. And there's great study guides for it. No blindness. We like informed decisions.

    Second, we aren't asking people to agree with us, ultimately. We are asking people to be obedient and humble before GOD and the Church that He founded and He guides and protects. These aren't Leila's teachings; these are God's teachings, entrusted to the Church. And those who understand, believe and love those teachings, try to help others understand them. But ultimately, none of this is about agreeing with any individual. It's about agreeing with God. No arrogance; humility.

    Lastly, you sort of have something in common with the Church when you say this: when it comes to making moral decisions, I think individual reason needs to trump authority The Church would say that people are obligated to follow their consciences, which may have a bit of a different definition than your use of the term "reason", but I think we're close here. The Church wants people to follow their consciences, but we must properly form that conscience. It is our duty. If we fail to form it thoroughly and properly, we will be held accountable. And thankfully, with the completely consistent teachings of the Church as our guide, we know when we are off base on something. It takes supreme humility to learn more and to submit to the Church, but in doing so, it does help us develop our conscience so that it will lead us in the right direction.

  141. Meg, what a wonderful description of what obedience means in this context. I was going to make a comment relating to the issue "existenceandessence" raised about what to do if one's own reasoning conflicts with Church teaching on a moral issue, but your comment conveys the truth far better than I could have.

    Your first point about Catholics having a responsibility to study and learn their faith is like a "to do" list for the rest of my life (I'm a fairly recent convert). The doctrines of the faith are truly gifts to us and we are obliged to learn them and use them.

    One point I would add: when confronted with a Church position with which my own logic might initially differ, I would recommend praying....for wisdom and that God might help me understand. This is in addition to studying the ample analyses of Church teachings that have been provided for us, both recently and over the centuries.

    In my own life, I've arrived at the point where I now would assume that a difference I encounter between my own logic and Church teaching is likely due to a deficiency in my understanding. I need to pursue it, but I suspect the way my inquiry will turn out.

    I know enough to know that the complete picture matters -- that the Church has a consistent, cohensive view of morality that is best understood and appreciated when seen in its entirety. Understanding that entirety is a big task; happily, it's a beautiful picture, one well worth a lifetime of study.

    Do I blindly follow? That's not how I would describe it -- I see it more as a realization that I don't necessarily understand everything yet, and it's my job to study until I do understand. That would be, it seems to me, one way to describe faith, something I prayed for for many years before receiving its great gift.

    This entire thread has been excellent. Thank you, Leila, Meg, and others.


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