Saturday, March 28, 2009

Barack Obama: Even Worse Than Gordon Brown

Conservative Member of the European Parliament Daniel Hannan lets British Prime Minister Gordon Brown have it:

Now replace "Gordon Brown" with Barack Obama, because in addition to being very accurate about what Brown's economic policies are doing to Britain, MEP Hannan is accurately describing what is slowly happening to our disintigrating economy under Mr. Obama. Most importantly, the flawed idea that one can spend a nation to prosperity and spend the way out of deficit is the very notion that presently prevails at the White House.

The only way to pay for the Obama Plan is to print more money. Welcome to economic disaster. The only positive outcome in all of this will likely be the 2010 General Election.

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Notre Dame Our Mother, Pray for Us


The University of Notre Dame betrays Christ and the Church that founded the institution by inviting the most pro-abortion President in U.S. history to receive an honorary degree and address the 2009 graduating class. The Obama Administration leads the country down the path to economic ruin.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Our Lady's University Fights the Church That Founded It

Our Lady's University has decided to give place to the Devil by inviting Barack Obama to deliver the commencement address and grant the most pro-abortion president an honorary doctorate. It is the latest and deepest salvo in a recent history of accommodating abortionists:

Back in the 1970s, before pro-abortion advocacy had become settled orthodoxy for the Democratic Party, “Catholic leaders such as the Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, then president of Notre Dame, still enjoyed tremendous influence,” McGurn writes. “Had they used that influence to try to arrest the Democrats’ slide on life, things might have been very different today. Instead, they became classic enablers, treating abortion as an irritating issue that needed to be placed off to the side.

“Thus, in 1984, Notre Dame famously handed its platform over to then Gov. Mario Cuomo, who bequeathed to delighted pro-choice Catholics the same personally-opposed-but rationale that Stephen Douglas had used in his debates with Lincoln. A few years later, the university followed up by awarding its Laetare Medal, one of the American Catholicism’s most prestigious, to Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan — another Catholic who had long since cut his conscience to accommodate the pro-choice direction of his party.”

Since then Notre Dame has made “a few nods and feints” to indicate solidarity with the Church’s pro-life teachings, McGurn says. But for the most part, “time after time, Notre Dame has opted for the inner Cuomo.”

Following three decades of this institutional accommodation of pro-abortion Democratic politicians, McGurn writes, “In the end, the result is moral incoherence. It is an incoherence in which abortion-rights advocates have the most to gain, because it demoralizes those who support the cause of life while removing fears of even the slightest social sanction for those who do not. And it is an incoherence we see all across American Catholic life today.”

Most liberals, particularly those who do not care much for the teachings of the Catholic Church, or those who call themselves Catholic but refuse to accept those teachings, may think that those who speak out against the notion of Obama giving the commencement are being intolerant or self-righteous. The problem is that Notre Dame is supposed to be a Catholic institution in union with the Holy See...

Contrary to the popular belief of certain people on the Left in the blogosphere, I do not think myself sinless or perfect in any way. In terms of being a "good Catholic" or a "good Christian," I am a work in progress, and that is putting it mildly. I am hardly an example of perfection, and I need to go to confession more frequently than I do-but I understand right from wrong and I know what mortal sin is. So does the President and faculty of Notre Dame.

Barack Obama does not merely pull a Mario Cuomo, he does not simply present us with the "I am personally opposed to abortion but..." argument. That idea is a Satanic straw man, but Obama's position is far worse-Obama has admitted that he has no problem with his daughters procuring an abortion. He sees no difficulty with redefining marriage. President Obama also shows no indication that his positions are going to change any time in the near future.

"But Oatney," you say "didn't Christ eat with tax collectors and sinners?" Yes, but with a clear message: Reform your thinking and your life. Allowing Obama to address Notre Dame's graduating class as though there is no serious conflict between Obama's ideology and that proclaimed by the Catholic Church (Pope Pius XI wrote that "no man can, at the same time, be a sincere Catholic and a true socialist.") belittles and mocks the Church's teaching authority, and makes a very public unspoken statement that the teachings of the Church which Notre Dame is supposed to represent matter very little in South Bend.

At a time when the Vatican is now officially saying that pro-abortion politicians can and should be denied the Holy Eucharist, the nation's most well-known Catholic learning institution welcomes those who embrace abortion with open arms. Our Lady's campus doesn't seem to belong to Our Lady any longer.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Grading the General Assembly So Far

When I talk to people about this year's legislative session, I've often been asked how I would rate it so far in spite of the events of January 13th. The question deserves serious consideration, since some things have turned out far better than could have been expected. SJR 127 has passed the Senate overwhelmingly, and it would appear that it stands a good chance to pass the House.

Mail order wine appears as though it will become law, which means that even though we won't have wine in grocery stores just yet, we will have the ability to order wine and spirits for shipment to our homes-with proper identification. A flurry of positive Second Amendment legislation looks as though much of it will pass the House. These are bills which, if made law, would make Tennessee a freer State and reduce the active role of government in the daily lives of citizens. If SJR 127 and the Second Amendment bills actually do pass the House, it could place Kent Williams in an unusually good position politically, because he will be able to say that he kept his word in allowing these matters to come to the floor.

The downside of this session is that apparently the dreaded Judicial Selection Commission is going to reappear in another form. This breaks a campaign promise the Republicans gave that they would eventually allow the people to vote directly on their judges as the Tennessee Constitution prescribes. It cannot be said, however, that this session has been a disaster such as many of us predicted. Much has yet to be done and there are many pieces of legislation which have not gotten the fair hearing that they deserve, but many things have been given legislative life which would not have even made it to the House Calendar and Rules Committee during the previous General Assembly.

So far I'd give the 106th a C+.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Bredesen's Tax Hikes Will Hurt Tennessee Economy

The Tennessean is trying to fool people into believing that the taxes Governor Phil Bredesen is proposing to raise as part of his budget will not impact them:

The 2009-2010 budget proposal calls for an increase in taxes on health maintenance organizations (HMOs) and family-owned real estate investment partnerships, known as FONCEs. Combined, the two tax changes would raise $164 million. Otherwise, there are no calls for tax increases.

A tax on Health Maintenance Organizations could have the impact of raising the insurance rates for many, if not most Tennesseans. Most people who have health insurance receive it as a condition of their employment, and many are members of an HMO-oftentimes through no choice of their own. The Governor has just told Tennesseans that if he has his way, their health insurance premiums will go up whether they have any relevant condition or not. An increase in premiums is likely the way that HMO's in Tennessee will compensate for the increase in taxes.

The Governor is also indicating that he is rather cool to economic investment by small businesses, because many small businesses are family-owned and would face a property tax increase if the Governor's budget passes as written. How many potential jobs might be lost because a family business decides not to expand so that they will not have to pay higher taxes.

It seems as though everyone is concerned about Tennessee's unemployment rate, but the Governor isn't keen to take action to bring it down.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Lack of Institutional Control

Knoxville conservative columnist Frank Cagle wrote last week that Jason Mumpower has not demonstrated the political skills necessary to be Speaker of the House:

It was a devastating blow when Republican Kent Williams joined 49 Democrats to make himself speaker in Mumpower’s stead. It was also a blow to the Republican caucus, the party, and thousands of Republicans who had worked so hard for so many years to overcome Democratic hegemony in the House.

Reeling from that loss, Mumpower and his allies have been unable to appreciate subsequent developments. Republicans chair half the House committees. Republicans have replaced the constitutional officers. They will control the state election commission; they have majorities on all the local election commissions. They control the state building commission. Republicans will see bills that have been bottled up in committee for years coming to the floor for a vote.

Mumpower no longer controls his caucus. When a majority leader asks his members for an important vote and they reject him, it is a fatal wound. It is analogous to a party leader in a parliamentary system that loses an important vote—it calls for a new election either to recommit to the leader or to pick a new one.

Before I go further in elaborating on Frank Cagle's thoughts, let me say that I have come to personally like Jason Mumpower and I believe that if circumstances were different, he would be a fine Speaker of the House. I believe that he would have been a good Speaker were he elected on January 13th, and that his detractors in both the Republican party as well as the House Republican Caucus likely do not give him enough credit to admit that.

Mumpower, however, is the one who dropped the ball. The night before the Speakership vote, I bumped into the Leader at the Nashville City Club and asked him very directly about a scenario I thought might happen. I said "you know, it is possible that Kent Williams will say 'to Hell with it, if they are going to through me out of the party, why don't I vote for Jimmy Naifeh and get some serious bones and influence.'" Mumpower's response was to tell me "we know that is a possibility, but we are doing our best to stay on top of that." Neither of us could have known what Williams and (depending on whose version you believe) Gary Odom and/or John Litz and Jimmy Naifeh et. al. were cooking up for the next day, but Leader Mumpower was clearly not on top of much of anything.

In the end, Williams was offered the ultimate bone by the Democrats. He was not the only Republican who was given the chance by the opposing caucus to take the top job in the House, and not everyone who was offered the "opportunity" was a "Naifeh Republican" either. The difference between Kent Williams and the others to whom the offer was made is that Kent Williams liked the sound of the words "Mr. Speaker" in front of his name enough that he gladly took it.

When Jason Mumpower was elected Leader he certainly had his conservative supporters, but more than one House Republican Caucus member told me at the time that they believed that the people who were the deciding votes that put Mumpower over the top were the supporters within the caucus of then-House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh. If true, one of those votes likely came from a freshman Representative from Elizabethton named Kent Williams. Further, if the Naifeh boys are who guaranteed Mumpower's December 2006 Leadership victory, they can also break Mumpower in the same way that they made him-and one of them did.

Frank Cagle's supposition seems unfortunately accurate. Jason Mumpower does not have control over the Tennessee House Republican Caucus, and the reality is that he very likely never did. He was an unfortunate tool in a shell game (perhaps unbeknownst to him) designed to keep Jimmy Naifeh in control of the House when it was clear that Republican influence was slowly gaining, since the Republicans held their own in 2006 after being projected to lose seats. Jimmy Naifeh is not stupid, and is one of the most politically shrewd people in this State. He very likely knew that the Republicans had a good chance of a majority in 2008, and knew that Bill Dunn stood a good chance of being Speaker of the House merely because of the level of respect and esteem in which he is held even by those in the Republican Caucus who traditionally oppose him. Hence, when Dunn (who Naifeh hates) got a challenger, it became clear who Naifeh's Republican lackeys would back-the rest can be chalked up to Jason Mumpower being a very effective campaigner.

After his defeat, Bill Dunn very graciously waved off any further notion that he might seek the Leadership again-he says he has no intention to, even declaring that "God delivered me from it." When a small group within the caucus can decide a Leadership contest, however, that same group can bring the Leader down, and that is what is happening to Jason Mumpower. In addition, Kent Williams has shown that he is not giving away the store to the Democrats. He may not be trustworthy, and he may have given Democrats better offices and their staff better pay, but the most powerful committee in the House has a conservative Republican as Chairman.

That is part of the reason why Williams is still in the House Republican Caucus today. I don't know that I would say, as Frank Cagle does, that the caucus poll on Williams can be seen as a no-confidence vote in Mumpower right now, but his odds of being Speaker in two years may be seriously diminished.

(Hat Tip: Kleinheider)

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Ministry of Magdalene

It has long been known by those familiar with the Benedictine way of life that the principles embodied in the Holy Rule of St. Benedict can be used as a way both to build relationships and to repair lives that are broken. Indeed, Holy Father Benedict wrote his Rule at a time when he believed that the world had not only become fully corrupt, but was a terrible influence on the human soul. Benedict decided to try something new by taking men out of the carnal world and placing them together in communities bound together in prayer, penance, and the love of God and one another. Men came from every station in life in those days to be a part of Benedict's radical Christian vision of prayerful monastic communites built on faith in God and self-sustainment through care for one another.

Becca Stevens, who is the Anglican Episcopal Vicar at Vanderbilt, had the idea that at least some Benedictine principles (which have already been applied fully to women through the ancient work of St. Scholastica) could be used to bring women who have been victimized by sexual abuse, prostitution, and drugs-among other things-to a state of reconciliation and peace. The remarkable stories of the women of Nashville's Magdalene community are summarized in thw short volume Find Your Way Home: Words From the Street, Wisdom From the Heart-where some of the women tell their stories anonymously, each in a short vignette. What makes this method different is that the reader doesn't learn much about the personal lives of the women of Magdalene (that is not the intent of the book), but instead learns how the women were able to find the love of God through one another in this community, and through that love were able to discover that there can be more to their life than just drug abuse and exploitation.

One woman was drawn to the community through its hospitality. Members of Magdalene always gave her some chips and a drink whenever they saw her (hospitality is a bedrock principle of Benedictinism). Another woman discovered the love of God through laughter in the community, even after a tornado destroyed the gazebo in her community home. For another member of Magdalene, what finally broke her from the cycle of addiction and perpetual violence to herself was the fact that Magdalene never gave up on her despite a couple of serious relapses into the darker side of her life and past. For one dear lady, the black-robed judge who ordered her into the two year program at Magdalene is credited with helping to change the course of her life, although she did not know it at the time.

It is easy in our own day and age for even the most well-meaning and pious of Christians to forget that there are places in our cities and towns, and even in our countryside where those who society has cast aside live in darkness and fear, and often in violence and and even abuse. We often choose to block these places from our mind and our prayer and devotional life-but when Christ walked the earth, it was to those people and in those places that he first went to minister.

In the Catholic liturgical texts for Vespers on most Wednesdays, there is an optional intercession "for this city, for every city, and all those living in them." Even for those, it ought to be remembered, that society sometimes forgets. The Magdalene Community is actively showing that the principles of Christian community can help bring the love of God to the very people who most need to know and hear the message of His love and care for them.

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