Category: election


Who needs to bother with three branches of government anyway?! Not Obama. Now, the judiciary and executive tramp all over the legislative routinely with nary a protest from the once-powerful House and Senate! This piece is excellent, especially:

This is truly a bi-partisan issue. Congress has completely abandoned its role as an independent, co-equal branch of government. The very fact that we are so consumed by the presidential campaign is a sad reflection of how pre-eminent the presidency has become.

Congressional Democrats should be just as furious as Congressional Republicans over Obama’s actions, regardless of how they feel about the policy. Wouldn’t it be nice if Congress as a whole regained a sense of institutional pride and reasserted their place in the federal framework?

… a partial accounting. Others may come to a different course of action after praying and thinking on it, of course. This is my omnibus pre-election post, subject to updates as needed.

UPDATED 10 October 2012

The final straw

I already sat-out the GOP presidential primary due to my deep moral ambivalence about Mittley and each and every one of his primary challengers. The final straw?

Mitt Romney, while heading investment firm Bain Capital, chose to invest with a company called Stericycle; he chose to profit from the disposal of the bodies of victims of the present-day abortion Holocaust, according to a well-sourced piece done by the leftist publication Mother Jones! Hideous. Words fail.

My vote changes me

Mark Shea at Catholic and Enjoying It has generally excellent political commentary, and has had a great influence on my own conclusions. It was his post that originally alerted me to this story. As Shea frequently reminds us, the votes we cast may not change the outcome of an election, but they do change/mark us, and I don’t want the mark of that vote on my soul.

Since my (California) vote would be subsumed into the Democrat mass/mess anyway, withholding it has no real effect on the election (read-up on the electoral college if you don’t understand what I mean), but even if it did, even if my refusal to vote actually contributed to re-electing Obama — a man whose policies I loathe intensely and of which I fear the result — I would still never, ever, ever cast a single vote for a man who chose to profit from the disposal of the bodies of victims of the present-day abortion Holocaust! How is that any better than voting for an abortion supporter?! It is not good enough that Romney is not Obama or that he is of the GOP!

Failed rehabilitation

Some have frantically attempted to rehabilitate the GOP candidate, but their arguments are unconvincing for a number of reasons, including:

  • LifeNews simply takes Bain’s word for when Romney left the company, even though the Mother Jones piece clearly cites SEC filings with Romney’s signature that prove otherwise, and the millions of shares Romney continued to hold in Bain. Mother Jones reports, with hyperlinks to the filings:

The document also states that Romney “may be deemed to share voting and dispositive power with respect to” 2,116,588 shares of common stock in Stericycle “in his capacity as sole shareholder” of the Bain entities that invested in the company. That was about 11 percent of the outstanding shares of common stock. (The whole $75 million investment won Bain, Romney, and their partners 22.64 percent of the firm’s stock—the largest bloc among the firm’s owners.) The original copy of the filing was signed by Romney.

and:

But the document Romney signed related to the Stericycle deal did identify him as a participant in that particular deal and the person in charge of several Bain entities. (Did Bain and Romney file a document with the SEC that was not accurate?) Moreover, in 1999, Bain and Romney both described his departure from Bain not as a resignation and far from absolute. On February 12, 1999, the Boston Herald reported, “Romney said he will stay on as a part-timer with Bain, providing input on investment and key personnel decisions.” And a Bain press release issued on July 19, 1999, noted that Romney was “currently on a part-time leave of absence”—and quoted Romney speaking for Bain Capital. In 2001 and 2002, Romney filed Massachusetts state disclosure forms noting he was the 100 percent owner of Bain Capital NY, Inc.—a Bain outfit that was incorporated in Delaware on April 13, 1999—two months after Romney’s supposed retirement from the firm. A May 2001 filing with the SEC identified Romney as “a member of the Management Committee” of two Bain entities. And in 2007, the Washington Post reported that R. Bradford Malt, a Bain lawyer, said Romney took a “leave of absence” when he assumed the Olympics post and retained sole ownership of the firm for two more years.

  • Similarly, LifeNews simply assumes that Stericycle did not begin burning babies’ bodies until pro-lifers began protesting it, when it is very likely that it had been happening without public notice and therefore protest for years. At a minimum, LifeNews fails to show when the odious practice did begin, ony noting the date of the first piece of pro-life documentation.
  • LifeNews simply writes-off the reporting done by Mother Jones because it is a leftist publication with an obvious interest in buttressing Obama. The way to undermine a hostile piece of reporting is to convincingly dissect its flaws. LifeNews failed fully.
  • Most importantly, Romney apologetics fail because he himself continues to add to his anti-life record even now, proving that he is not pro-life, regardless of his claims!

Romney’s current anti-life record

In the ads from both the Obama campaign and Planned Parenthood’s Action Fund, Romney is accused of favoring a complete ban on abortion in all circumstances.

He actually supports exceptions in the case of rape, incest and when the life of the mother is threatened.

The Romney campaign has termed the ads “viciously negative and false” — and nothing more than an attempt to divert attention from “disastrous” economic news. But the ads do contain quotes from Romney himself, vowing to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood. The candidate apparently stands by that pledge.

Ever-weaker candidates and third-party?

Finally, I have two general observations borne-out by the current presidential campaign.

  • As committed pro-lifers have been forced year after year to vote for the one pro-life candidate in the race (if we are blessed to have even one!), disregarding his competence in any other area — that is, that we are forced to be one-issue voters — the general candidate pool is weakening, therefore weakening the entire system. Now, we can’t even scrape a genuinely pro-life candidate out of the GOP barrel, let alone one whom we can choose also based on strong positions on the economy or foreign policy, for example. If we keep selling our vote cheaply to the poor GOP candidates, whoever they are, this will continue and worsen. It is time for us to simply say “No, I will not run just because you ring your bell. I will sooner not vote than vote for you!” If enough of us do this, the message may get through. Or maybe not…
  • Some have responded to the paucity of pro-life candidates in the GOP by voting third-party, either out of conviction or to “send a message” to the GOP.  The problem is that our current political system simply kills third-parties; they have not and cannot succeed in our environment. So, perhaps a third-party’s convictions are laudable, but to vote third-party is an exercise in futility at a time that calls for action — often action well-beyond politics. And, if we’re voting that way to “send a message” to the GOP, I would argue that this very message has been sent for years now by many part-time third-party voters — and it is not being received! We are getting worse and worse candidate offerings from the GOP. So, I’m not going to waste my time finding the “perfect” third-party candidate who cannot ever win and who will send a message that the GOP will not receive!

UPDATE 1

The responses I’ve seen to my post/this line of thinking expressed by others lead me to post some more thoughts:

1. The difference between holding one’s nose to vote for a Dole or a Bush or a McCain and holding one’s nose to vote for  Romney is that: a) to the best of my knowledge, no prior GOP presidential nominee in recent memory has personally profited/sought to profit from abortion — while claiming to be pro-life, no less! Romney’s business and political fundraising decisions, however, show him doing this very thing. And, b) as far as I’ve seen, Romney has been completely unwilling to even acknowledge his odious Bain decision, let alone offer any sort of apology, sincere or otherwise. Similarly, I’m unaware that he’s apologized for the fundraiser, given back the money, or donated it to charity. If he had, this would be a different story. This level of deliberation and recalcitrance in support of the culture of death is unprecedented in GOP presidential politics and deserves our condemnation, not our support.

2. I’ve seen no real attempt to respond to the specific arguments I’ve made in this post and others have made elsewhere. The sum-total of the defense of Romney seems to be that demonstrable facts are somehow wrong and that “he’s not Obama, and if you don’t vote for Romney, you’re supporting Obama’s evil/Marxism/etc.” Since when do the ends justify the means?!  How do we show that being anti-life is gravely wrong by helping put into office a “less anti-life” candidate (whatever that means)?! Perhaps it’s time to deny our votes to a man who continues to do evil unapologetically — even if it looks like we’re bound to lose still more in an earthly perspective! — and then see how God responds! Is this not a more fitting way to show our fidelity to and trust in a God of Justice?

3. If I’ve decided to show my fidelity to and trust in God by sitting this one out, what am I doing? What’s the alternative? I’ve written a number of ideas in my post about persecution. In regards to this election, specifically, however, I would argue that what a Christian might best do is make reparation.

Some of the most proven fruitful ways of doing this are genuine, approved Marian devotions (all of the good fruit some have obtained by returning to the Church’s sacraments at Medjugorje, without that place’s poisonous “fruits” of disobedience and division!), such as those requested by Our Lady when she appeared to the children at Fatima, specifically the simple prayers she taught to the children, accompanied by willingly accepting and offering-up the little sacrifices that come into our lives each day, much like St. Therese’s “Little Way.”

This is all rather neatly bound together in St. Louis Marie de Montfort’s Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary, the way of many saints and popes. (33 Days to Morning Glory is an excellent enhanced preparation for the Total Consecration that I am presently reading. It distills de Montfort’s insights, as well as those of St. Maximilian Kolbe and Blessed John Paul II.) Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us. Bl. Francisco and Bl. Jacinta, pray for us. Sr. Lucia of Jesus, pray for us. St. Therese, pray for us. St. Louis de Montfort, pray for us. St. Maximilian Kolbe, pray for us. Bl. John Paul II, pray for us.

So, yes, there is plenty we can do besides sit it out. 🙂

UPDATE 2

Psalm 146 turned-up in the daily Mass readings not too long ago (emphasis mine); it tells us where to put our trust (“LORD” is repeated 11 times, by my count!) and where not to place it (“princes”):

1 Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul! 2 I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have being. 3 Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no help. 4 When his breath departs he returns to his earth; on that very day his plans perish. 5 Happy is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God, 6 who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps faith for ever; 7 who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets the prisoners free; 8 the LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous. 9 The LORD watches over the sojourners, he upholds the widow and the fatherless; but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin. 10 The LORD will reign for ever, thy God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the LORD!

UPDATE 3

It is clear to me that Mitt Romney will do absolutely nothing to address abortion (or other threats to life and family) in office — and may in fact “go along to get along.” Even in front of a friendly audience, he refused even to simply state that he would undo the odious HHS mandate that is violating our religious freedom. (In fact, his “RomneyCare” set a precedent of forcing Catholic hospitals to violate the Faith!) Further, we see that advancing the Culture of Life does not even rate a tiny spot on his agenda! Ask yourself: If you truly believe that abortion is taking millions of innocent lives and maiming hundreds of thousands of mothers each year in this country, would you not — on day one in office! — try to limit abortion in any legal way available to you — to save the lives you can! — and make it a key item on your agenda? Does anyone really believe that Romney will do anything like this (any more than the Bushes generally did)? Or, does it seem more likely that he will only support life/oppose death when it advances, or at least does no harm, to his real priorities?! Romney remains a poor prudential vote for pro-lifers!

As the self-declared religious, political, and moral enemies of the Faith and or Christians become more hateful and violent towards us (examples could be multiplied almost to infinity), leaving aside any pretense of respect or even tolerance, the question becomes less theoretical and historical, and more practically-pressing:

What should a Christian’s response to persecution look like?

Though by no means a conclusive essay, here are a few conclusions I’ve come to, based on some reflection on the Scriptures and the lives of the saints. I welcome you to share yours in the combox below.

1. We are indeed called to “turn the other cheek” and be willing to “lay down [our lives] for a friend,” but we are not to sell ourselves cheaply; we do not shove our cheeks against others’ hands, or wear a sign that says “Crucify me!” We should fight to preserve our lives, our families, and our rights as fully as possible, for as long as we can. After all, if we are silenced or dead, we are unable to press the vital spiritual battle in any earthly sense.

2. In fighting to preserve our lives, our families, and our rights, we need to be careful not to put ourselves in the way of justice. In other words, if we’re writing/speaking or acting in a way that draws others’ attention almost solely to ourselves and not to, say, the Faith, or the lives of the preborn, or the defense of the family, we are doing it wrong. One way that we make this mistake is by letting ourselves get overtaken by the very natural human emotion of anger that swells when we — or our children! — are unjustly attacked. The antidote to this is supernatural: mercy, particularly the Divine Mercy devotion.

Many times, Jesus slipped-away from those seeking to kill Him because it was not yet His “hour.” St. Maximilian Kolbe published against the Nazis and suffered in a concentration camp for it, but he only put himself forth for martyrdom when necessary to save the life of a father with small children. The early Christians hid in homes and catacombs for Mass — they didn’t set-up an altar in the town square — but when the persecutors came for them, they refused to sacrifice to idols, and they prayed and shared the Faith as they were being tortured and killed for it. None of these called-down the wrath of God to smite their enemies. Jesus famously prayed on the Cross “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Many saints have used these exact same words on their own crosses, whatever shape they took. Many times, the very men and women who were perpetrating or encouraging the persecution were themselves converted by this example, and persecuted themselves for following it!

3. Some specific strategies that we might follow include:

+ strengthening ourselves spiritually (praying frequently and frequenting the Sacraments, studying the Scriptures/saints/spiritual writings, continuously practicing the virtues — especially humility!, connecting with others who are trying to bone-up, too, etc.).

+ doing what we can practically and legally to protect our families and our legal rights (keeping our children from those trying to take their innocence for malicious ends, having as little as possible to do with government agencies/”mandatory reporters” [doctors, teachers, social workers, etc., who often act like overzealous busybodies] and “keeping our noses clean,” being ready and able to use legal processes when our rights are violated, etc.).

+ spreading, via social networks and conversation, news of injustices and inviting even those opposed to our message to consider what they are really supporting. Are there people who have rendered themselves beyond reaching by willful ignorance and hatred? Sure. But, most people are reachable somehow, sometime! Do this across as many lines as possible (religious, political, class, race, sin-proclivity, etc.).

+ forgiving our enemies, realizing that our battle is not truly against them, but against Satan and his army of fallen angels, and praying for the ongoing conversion of all people, including ourselves.

+ asking the intercession of our fellow Christians and of the Church Triumphant in Heaven, including our Guardian Angels and the Archangels.

+ taking what is intended for evil and turning it to good. For example, if a legislator’s idea of a rip-roarin’ good time/counter-punch to a pro-life bill is to read “The V***** Monologues” on the Capitol steps (see the “hateful” link above), adults can turn-out nearby to silently pray a Rosary, holding non-graphic signs about the dignity of all human life and the help that is available to women in need.

+ having a sense of humor, especially about ourselves. One of the most famous examples is St. Lawrence, who was burned to death on gridiron. At one point, he told his torturers to turn him over because he was cooked on that side!

+ voting — and voting only for those who are worthy of office, even if that means sitting some elections out. Don’t take your party’s word for it; do your own candidate and proposition research!

+ standing our ground, with grace, when the battle is finally brought to our front doors.

This guest post is provided courtesy of my husband Peter, a social studies/math teacher at a charter high school in Central California. He is in his 18th year of teaching in both public and private schools in Texas, Arizona, and California; he is also in his third official year of homeschooling. He is a lifelong Catholic, and a talented mineral collector and family historian/genealogist.

This post is pulled from an ongoing e-mail conversation Peter is having with a conservative colleague:

… I totally agree that unelected judges should not be the policymakers that they have made themselves to be.  However, I also agree with those who argue that Gingrich’s solution to this is not only dangerous in itself from the perspective of the Constitution (essentially, I think he hopes to correct one error by committing the opposite error, so to speak, with effects that are possibly worse than the status quo), but can easily backfire both as an electoral tactic and as a remedy to bad judiciating.  To take the measures he proposes as a means of correcting judicial activism is to make majority rule, as represented in the legislature, more powerful even than the Framers intended.  Majorities can be very irrational, capricious, and rapidly-changing, and the result of giving them so much power will likely be bad law – and lots of it.  The Ninth Circuit has made plenty of idiotic decisions, that is true, but I fail to see how the solution can be to subject the courts to the whims of legislators who, in themselves, may be even more idiotic.  Personally, I don’t think that most Americans have a problem with judicial activism in principle.  Most people, I believe, support activism when it is manifested in decisions of which they approve, but then oppose activism when it takes the form of rulings that they themselves oppose.

As for Gingrich’s chances, I still maintain that my “skepticism” is more justified.  America is a much different place now than it was in 1980.  The demographics of the country have been changing in a way that are making it less friendly to traditional Republicans.  The nation’s minority populations have grown substantially since 1980, and the GOP still hasn’t been all that successful (some high-profile minority Republicans notwithstanding) at pulling those groups away from their traditional Democratic loyalties.  And, today‘s younger voters are the most socially-liberal voting bloc in our nation’s history.  While their turnout rates are often low, a Democratic candidate who can get them out to vote can do a lot of damage to the GOP (as Obama did in 2008).  More traditionally-minded, conservative voters tend to be older – the voters of the “G.I. Generation” and the “Silent Generation” – but those generations are in the process of passing away.  In 1980, a candidate like Reagan could appeal to “moderates” because his social conservatism didn’t clash all that much with the majority of Americans.  It was his economic conservatism that was labeled by some as “radical” for the time because of its contrast with the New Deal/Great Society regime of ideas, but socially he was still quite “mainstream” (of course, so was Nixon in his social policy philosophy, which frustrated and angered the hippie voters who wanted to believe that Nixon’s “Silent Majority” didn’t actually exist).  In 1980, immigration wasn’t the polarizing issue that it is today, and the idea that sizeable majorities of Americans in many parts of the nation would support legal gay marriage would have been unthinkable.  America in 1980 was questioning the validity of economic ideas that it had bought into years earlier, but, despite the nefarious spread of the Sexual Revolution, it was still primarily a very conservative place in terms of social values.

But that is why I believe that the 1980 formula will fail in 2012.  America is no longer the same place.  Rush Limbaugh likes to claim as one of his basic assumptions that most Americans are hard-working, common-sense people who value conservative principles, but I tend not to believe that this is so true any more.  Maybe it’s still largely true in rural America or white, middle-class America, but our culture has progressively become one in which people evaluate leaders and policy not according to lofty principles (however valuable those may be), but according to what they believe will give them the most short-term benefit or gratification.  How many people voted for Obama because it made them feel good to vote for someone of his age and background?  Here is an important point to make.  It seems to me that the Republican Party, and its presidential candidates, have presumed that Americans, since Obama’s election, have “seen the light” regarding the competing ideologies, and that this will naturally translate into further GOP victories and perhaps the start of GOP dominance.  Obama’s failures, they believe, have made this picture so clear to Americans that the thought of future Democratic dominance is hard to imagine.  However, I consider this to be incredibly myopic and dangerous for the GOP.  Have Americans learned a profound and lasting lesson about conservatism as opposed to liberalism by watching the floundering of the Obama/Pelosi/Reid folks?  I see no reason to believe so.  As I said, Americans today think more in terms of short-term benefit and gratification, and the tide against the Democrats is largely the result of a poor economy that the Dems have mishandled.  Those same Americans could just as easily swing against Republicans at any time – and, in fact, there is polling evidence that a number of House Republicans could be in trouble in 2012 due to a likely backlash against incumbents that could be more intense than in 2010 (especially if we don’t get a continuation of that payroll tax cut!).

So, what Republicans are really counting on as a means of securing victory next year is NOT the large-scale “conversion” of Americans to the Republican way of thinking, but, rather, large-scale frustration with Obama.  Because they have not done well in articulating a message that America of 2011 will buy in principle, they are having to hope that Americans will be so disgusted with Obama that they will vote for virtually any Republican as an alternative.  But, history does show that incumbents – even apparently unpopular ones – enjoy a significant advantage, and that a challenger must be more than the “equal” of the incumbent in order to win.  There are plenty of people with a vested interest in a continued Obama presidency, and the size of his campaign war chest so far testifies to the fact that there are plenty of people out there who are desperate to see him keep office.  And, he still has the basic outline of a campaign organization in place form 2008 that was quite successful in getting out the (liberal) youth vote and appealing to the tech-oriented twenty- and thirty-somethings.  If the GOP nominates someone about whom voters feel unenthused, then the Republicans won’t get out enough of “their” voters (or the independents, who may just find the entire race distasteful and stay home) to win, whatever the polls right now may say.

Unfortunately, this is where I believe the GOP may be headed.  Romney may be the most palatable of the major candidates to the independents, and I do believe that he would stand the best chance of beating Obama, but we both know that he is rather uninspiring to much of the Republican base.  That being said, hard-core conservatives who don’t trust Romney will still probably show up to vote for him just because he’s preferable to Obama.  A Gingrich nomination, however, could end up being a disaster for the Republicans.  First, he’s not Reagan.  While he likes to harken back to Reagan and draw plenty of parallels between himself and the Gipper, the differences are significant.  Philosophically, Gingrich is very articulate but does not show nearly as much “street sense”.  Reagan phrased his ideas in a way that ordinary Americans as well as people in positions of influence could buy.  Gingrich still seems determined to say things that will alienate key voters (I refer here back to my point from several weeks ago regarding Gingrich’s comments on unemployment) or cause confusion and consternation (such as his recent comments on the judiciary).  Reagan took strong positions without painting obvious targets on himself, but Gingrich seems to be adding targets the more he speaks.  His comments will likely to create even further difficulty for Republicans who are looking for someone to support right now with some enthusiasm.  Second, Gingrich just doesn’t have a persona that people will find appealing.  Reagan was able to come across as the understanding, strong, and compassionate “grandfather” figure, but Gingrich so easily comes across as a crotchety, arrogant guy.  While this may not be a problem with die-hard Republicans, it will be a problem with the ordinary, less-partisan Americans who will often vote for who seems like a nicer person (recall that Al Gore’s lead over Bush in 2000 only disappeared following the TV debate in which Gore acted like an obvious jerk).  Third, I would argue that Gingrich’s recent rise in the polls (prior to the decline he has now begun to show) is not so much the result of people embracing him as a great candidate as the result of Republicans hoping that SOMEBODY will turn out to be a viable alternative to Romney (a role that Bachmann, Perry, and Cain were all previously looked to by those voters to fulfill).  Finally, as I said above, Gingrich’s philosophy just isn’t going to play well with so many voters today, for the reasons I explained above.  There are too many voters today who are going to find too many of his ideas “uncomfortable” or “dangerous” – even if that wouldn’t have been the case in 1980.  Gingrich is going to hand the Obama campaign an arsenal of ammunition to use against him, words that can be fashioned into all sorts of campaign ads to frighten away the voter who isn’t a loyal, devout Republican.  And, in this economic climate, any Republican will have to appeal to the economically-suffering voter in order to win, and everything I have heard from Newt so far indicates that he isn’t really interested in reaching out to them.  Those voters aren’t going to care about lofty principles – rather, they want greater job security or the security of their unemployment benefits if their jobs should go away.  Voters who are more socially-liberal are going to find Gingrich anathema.  Gingrich simply isn’t “Reagan Lite”, and “Reagan Lite” probably wouldn’t do as well today as in 1980 anyways.  It is true that Dole and McCain didn’t win despite their theoretical appeal to moderates, but there were, of course, other reasons why each lost.  They both had big-time personal-appeal issues, and the state of the economy was unfriendly to both.

All of that being said, I see a rocky nomination road for the Republicans.  I’m not placing much stock in any of the polls right now (they were INCREDIBLY inaccurate heading into the 2008 caucus/primary season, of course).  I am guessing that Ron Paul is going to make more of a splash than most of us realize.  Enthusiasm for Gingrich has been eroding since his post-Cain rise, and that enthusiasm doesn’t seem to be transferring to any of the other Republican candidates.  Ron Paul, however, has built a grass-roots organization that I tend to think has gone largely unnoticed, but his supporters are probably more fanatically devoted than the supporters of any other candidate.  If voters who sour on Gingrich head in his direction, it is quite possible that he will be pulling more than his usual 10%, especially if overall turnout in some of the caucuses/primaries is low.  I agree with you in that a brokered convention is a possibility, but that would probably just advertise to America most emphatically that the current slate of Republican candidates just isn’t that impressive, which can only hurt their image heading into the general race.  Of course, some commentators have argued that, for this reason, a brokered convention might very well pick a candidate who currently is not in the race at all, and that might be just what the GOP has to do in that situation to save face and get a “fresh start” against Obama.  I have heard Jeb Bush’s name being proposed, but that would be suicide for the GOP.  There are plenty of better possibilities. …

Reading this political candidate’s bigoted comment about her rival, a Catholic father of a large family, put me in mind of two simple political rules of thumb I’ve heard and used well in the poll booth over the years:

1. The best candidate is both moral and intelligent, but lacking such a candidate, it is far better to elect a moron who is moral than a genius who is immoral.

After all, immoral leaders do evil, which is far more harmful than almost any foolish thing a moron can do. Furthermore, ignorance can be easily cured with education and experience, but immorality requires a much more radical cure: conversion. Similarly, Winston Churchill has been popularly quoted as replying to a woman who accused him of being drunk: “Madam, you’re ugly, but tomorrow I shall be sober!”

2. (An adage that I have yet to see properly attributed:) “If you want something done, ask a busy person to do it.”

A busy person is often used to getting things done more-or-less efficiently and is less likely to meddle in what is not his business. Bored/lazy people have plenty of time to mess-around in others’ lives — and little good to show for it.

So, when I vote in November, I’ll be looking for the pro-life/pro-family (moral) candidate who has the best policy ideas, and the one who has shown that he gets things done. Sadly, in the current political climate here in California, most candidates can’t even make it across the moral threshold, so I’m often rendered a one-issue voter. That’s fine with me, though; if a candidate won’t even support the right upon which all other rights are based — the right to life — than he is both too immoral and too foolish to properly handle any other issue facing us.

In Catholic circles, since the Pope’s gracious lifting of the excommunications of the four SSPX bishops late last week (just Google “SSPX” for more info, or visit the numerous related posts on WDTPRS), there has been much discussion of many related topics, not the least of which is the Mass itself: Ordinary Form/OF (the “Novus Ordo”/”NO”) v. Extraordinary Form/EF (the “Latin Mass” or “Tridentine Mass”).

I have to ask: Why can’t we have and love them both?! In fact, the question is vital but merely rhetorical, as the Church Herself — in Pope Benedict XVI — has validated both forms of the Mass, calling one “ordinary” and one “extraordinary.”

Unfortunately, many in the “Traditionalist” camp (one extremity of which is the SSPX) insist not only that the EF is superior aesthetically and devotionally to the OF (a persuasive argument), but that the EF is the only “true” Mass, which is flatly wrong and derogatory to those who celebrate and attend the OF (the vast majority), not to mention Our Lord Himself, who is present in the Scriptures and His Body at both forms of the Mass.

To put the “Traditional” argument another way:”If A is valid/good and B differs from A, then B must be invalid/bad.” This is clearly false. If it were true, I could say “If I pay a bill with a check, and paying by cash is different than paying by check, then cash must not satisfactorily pay the bill/must be bad.” Nonsense.

These “Traditionalists” further assert that it always follows that those who attend OF Masses regularly are ignorant, immoral and generally lesser Catholics than those who attend the beautiful EF Mass. Needless to say, that assertion not only offends truth and charity, but needlessly repels those who normally attend OF Masses but also love the EF Mass, those who are traditional. Like my family.

I finally decided to explain this today on another blog after two other posters asserted that all EF attendees voted pro-life in this last election and that all OF attendees were ignorant/immoral and voted anti-life. (The original post, which had nothing to do with the form of the Mass, regarded comments Archbishop Burke made about the Bishops’ document, Faithful Citizenship, and the election coverage of the Bishops’ Catholic News Service.) I posted the following.

As a wife and mother who respects and loves the Traditions of the Church, but who usually attends a OF Mass (reverently celebrated) with her family, I have long since grown tired of being told by regular attendees of the EF Mass that the OF Mass—where Christ is just as truly present in the Scriptures and in His Body as at the EF Mass and which the Church has declared to be valid and in fact ordinary!—is, without qualification, causing folks like us to be ignorant of the Faith, immoral, etc. Basically, we are clearly told that we OF folks are not “real Catholics” like you EF folks are. That’s nonsense! Many at both forms of the Mass know and love the Catholic Faith, and strive to live it. Some—at both forms—do not! If the OF is good enough for Christ’s Church and Vicar, why is it not good enough for you?!

Perhaps people who make false and defamatory statements about their fellow OF Catholics might consider that it is often ARROGANT holier-than-thou statements and gestures by EF-attending people that keep others away from the beautiful EF Mass, not the bishops, or ignorance, or bad morals!

Since I (horror of horrors) may wear nice slacks to Mass instead of a skirt, and since I do not yet veil, and since I have four children under the age of four who do not sit perfectly still for an hour at a time anywhere (but who are made to behave in church), I have been glared/stared at, lectured to, and made to feel most unwelcome and alien at the beautiful EF Mass, which is the main reason we do not take our family there very often at all.

I repeat, it is often EF attendees who do the most to keep OF families from attending the EF Mass! Please prayerfully consider this and perhaps promote the good in the EF (of which there is much) and talk less about how icky OF Masses and people are!

P.S. My husband and I voted straight pro-life/pro-family here in CA, and told our children why. I guess the OF didn’t mess-up our morals too badly after all…

I received this response from “Ken”:

Kristen J, I think you have several personal issues that should be discussed with a traditionally-minded priest, but perhaps a blog thread on Archbishop Burke’s comments today is not the best place for you to sort all this out.

And I responded:

Ken, do you know me (or my priest, for that matter)? I don’t think so, but thanks for your heartfelt (?) concern in this public forum anyway. And, even more, thanks for proving my point about arrogant, holier-than-thou, and false statements by EF-attendees repelling OF-attendees. I couldn’t have proven my point as well as you just did.

Furthermore, Ken, I am not the poster who brought form of Mass v. voting into this discussion. Perhaps a rabbit hole, but it needed to be dealt with. And, for the record, since my comment about voting as it relates to OF Mass attendance was apparently lost on at least one reader, my “OF morals” did not lead me to an immoral vote. Furthermore, I fully agree with Archbishop Burke.

The original accusatory posts and Ken’s response offended me, of course, but what’s worse is that messages like this — and they are legion — keep many good people from experiencing the beauty of the EF Mass. Who knows, perhaps such people would be swelling the pews and expanding the EF Mass in their dioceses, and growing spiritually, if they weren’t openly judged and found lacking by their fellow Catholics.

Bottom line: A Catholic may freely choose either of the equally valid forms of the Mass, and — on an unrelated note — he may be either a “good Catholic” or a “bad” one. Regardless, we are all entitled to be treated with respect and concern, not lies and scorn.

In that spirit, I pray for the speedy reconciliation of the SSPX with the Church, and for the unity in Faith that Our Lord prayed for, despite the manifest obstacles. Please join me!

We’ve probably all had enough of election analysis by now, but I think that I need to briefly wrap-up what I began here, as well as make a few broader points.

Like Dads and Moms all across America, Peter and I spent election night watching history-in-the-making on TV while taking care of our ordinary family responsibilities: feeding and playing with the kids, changing diapers, washing dishes, medicating headaches and nausea, getting the kids ready for bed, etc. Implicit in this is the lesson that the opportunities and challenges of ordinary life continue in obscurity while the cameras are focused elsewhere. Thanks be to God, the life quest for holiness and happiness can and does continue!

I know it’s an oxymoron, but Tuesday’s election results present us with a sad opportunity.

The Sad

As an unashamed pro-life/pro-family voter, of course I find the federal election results overwhelmingly disappointing.

We have put those whose worldview and priorities are deeply flawed in authority over all three branches of the government for at least the next two to four years (until the next congressional election and presidential election, respectively). This will directly lead to the loss of many thousand more innocent lives and will almost certainly involve attempted infringements on our most fundamental rights, particularly in the areas of free speech/freedom of religion and the intrinsic right of parents to raise their families in accord with their principles. This is very sad.

Furthermore, many state initiatives regarding the right to life were defeated (including a very weak parental notification initiative here in CA) and Washington state established a “right” to assisted suicide. More death.

Upon reading this well-reasoned and courageous election eve homily by Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City, MO, I also must note that souls who consciously voted in favor of pro-death politicians and measures inflicted grave spiritual damage on themselves, as we do whenever we choose evil over good. Such souls probably would vehemently deny that this is what they have done, and they would probably react with great anger against the messenger rather than heeding the message, but it remains true. When we realize that we have sinned (as we all do many times each day), we must acknowledge the sin with sorrow before God and make a good Confession ASAP, before receiving Our Lord in the Eucharist again. The only serious sin that cannot be forgiven — that can send us to Hell — is the one we fail to repent of!

Among the few pieces of good election news was the passage of three marriage amendments (including one here in CA). This was unexpected (at least for me!) and endless court challenges — already begun — may yet turn these into defeats for the family.

I think it is entirely appropriate for us to be in mourning for the lives and souls tossed-aside and the vital principles trampled-on. Similarly, I find the jubilation, however moderated, of those who should know better (particularly Church leaders) to be misplaced and, frankly appalling, like dancing on someone’s grave. Diplomacy and respect are good; providing aid and comfort to the Culture of Death are not!

The Opportunity

Of course, our lives as individuals and as a society are always marked by setbacks. When we hit a setback, we’re told from our youth to shake it off and try again, and to repeat this as necessary.

In concrete terms, the setback presented by this election — which God allowed for His own perfect reasons — provides a plethora of spiritual and practical opportunities.

Spiritually, we have been given the opportunity, once again, to repent of our own sinfulness (magnified large in this election) and recommit ourselves to striving for holiness. This involves more than simply attending Mass/church services and “being nice”; it is a matter of really trying to love God and our neighbor each day, especially when it’s hard. Though it’s easy to forget, this is the most important thing!

As St. Teresa of Avila wisely wrote more than 400 years ago:

Let nothing disturb you, nothing frighten you.
All things are passing.
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
Nothing is wanting to him who possesses God. God alone suffices.

On a wider scale, we need to help our children learn the truths of the Faith despite the corrupt culture and to strive for holiness themselves. Then, we need to carry this message into our society, by our families’ example and particularly by praying and sacrificing often for an end to abortion and other threats to life, for the needs of pregnant mothers, the ill and the needy, for the conversion of abortionists and anti-life religious leaders and politicians, and for those who stand for life at great cost. We need to be mindful that we are in a spiritual war: “For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood; but against principalities and power, against the rulers of the world of this darkness, against the spirits of wickedness in the high places!” (Ephesians 6:12).

Practically, we have to expand and publicize our efforts already well-underway, among them: support our local crisis pregnancy centers, ensure that palliative care is available to the sick, and care for those in need in our families and area.

Furthermore, on the political front, we need to vigorously defend against anti-life legislation! Thankfully, Washington’s notorious gridlock and the press of real-world crises may well keep some of the ugliest dreams of President-elect Obama and friends from coming true. But, we will still need to be vigilant in urging our legislators to block any attempts to weaken protections for life and family, chief among them the misnamed “Freedom of Choice Act” (FOCA) that would virtually eliminate choices other than abortion in one fell swoop. And, if some helpful life-/family-affirming legislation should be proposed, of course we should support it just as forcefully!

May God bless us and our nation in this effort!

UPDATED 11/07/08

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Yesterday afternoon, I sent a brief e-mail to all my family and friends (probably the only people who may read this 🙂 ) regarding today’s vote. Here it is:

Hi, Family and Friends. I hope this short message finds you and yours well, even though I don’t keep up with you as I would like. Peter, the kids, and pregnant Mommy are all fine.

You know that it is very rare for me to send forwards or mass e-mails, except for periodic updates on our family. But, I know that I must send this e-mail because I care about my loved ones and, frankly, I am very concerned about what our nation will look like after the election this Tuesday.

Rather than write a newspaper-length editorial (and you know I have done it and I could again!), let me pose two simple questions for the contemplation of the thoughtful voter — after all, we are not grade-schoolers voting in a student council popularity contest! Voting on our federal and state leaders and certain laws (propositions) is one of the most important things we will ever do, and I’m sure that most of us have been ruminating on our votes for a while.

Very simply, can you think of any weightier concern for a nation than more than a million innocent babies’ lives being taken legally through abortion each year, and the wholesale maiming of their mothers — a people decimated?

And, is there any better way to protect and strengthen our society than to vote for candidates and measures that support the rights and well-being of the family: moms, dads, and their kids?

Of course, I am concerned about the economy (what large family living on one high-school teacher’s income isn’t?!), the lives of those in Iraq, and many other issues, but *first things first*!

One’s answers to the two questions above make the vote for president and many other votes, too, quite clear. Especially in states like California, where we have parental notification and marriage amendments on the ballot. Under my signature, I’ve linked to three excellent guides that outline core principles for voting, two for Catholics and the latter for non-Catholic Christians.

So, bottom line, I’m hoping and praying that my family and friends *vote pro-life and pro-family* on Tuesday. For us and for our country.

Sincerely,
Kristen

http://www.priestsforlife.org/elections/voterguide.htm

http://www.caaction.com/pdf/Voters-Guide-Catholic-English-1p.pdf

http://www.caaction.com/pdf/Voters-Guide-Christian-English-1p.pdf

My husband and I have already voted. This is a post I made on another site about our Central CA voting experience:

We’re in Central CA and turnout seems to be very high locally. My hubby and I both voted already.

He had to stand in line when they opened to wait for a “secrecy shield” that covers less than half the ballot (!) — anyone can see who you chose for president, but then again, they can just look at our yard sign or cars to see that. 🙂

I didn’t have to wait, but they did make me get my jacket from the car to cover my “NObama” shirt with pro-life button, and remove the McCain/Palin button from my purse. (The jacket buttoned easier before I was pregnant four times in four years!) Like [another poster], I find this rule ridiculous (no free speech in the voting booth?!), but it’s not worth fighting for me; it’s the vote that matters most, after all.

I did make sure to claim my free cup of Starbuck’s coffee and walk around a local park after drinking it for a while so that everyone could see my shirt and the stickers on my car, though. 🙂

Most of the country already knows what’s at stake here in CA, so I won’t bother saying much about that. Just, in charity, please pray that we don’t get still more death forced on us, and that Prop 4 (parental notification on abortion) and Prop 8 (marriage amendment) pass!

I suppose that covers what I want to say about the election. Maybe I’ll work out my election jitters (I know, very Catholic-nerdy) by blogging some more — if the kids will let me! 🙂

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