Showing posts with label human rights. Show all posts
Showing posts with label human rights. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Louisiana swamp gas . . . or weapons of ass destruction

The Louisiana Legislature's latest round of budget negotiations has prompted the return of what is becoming an annual tug-of-war match between funding TOPS and funding state health care services.

The House Appropriations Committee on Monday advanced its version of a $27 billion state budget to begin July 1 featuring full funding for the popular Taylor Opportunity Program for Students scholarships and deep cuts to safety-net hospitals and other programs that serve the poor and disabled.

"This is a process," House Appropriations Vice Chair Franklin Foil, R-Baton Rouge, said during the committee's hearing on House Bill 1. "There are other steps we'll be going through."

HB1 is scheduled to hit the House floor on Thursday, where it is certain to generate additional debate over where the brunt of nearly $650 million in cuts should land. Lawmakers haven't ruled out the idea of holding yet another special session to try to close all or part of the remaining "fiscal cliff" the state faces when temporary tax measures expire June 30, but they can't take up most revenue-raising measures during the regular session and current budgeting process. . . . 
"In rushing to pass amendments out, the House Appropriations Committee proved what we’ve been saying all along – there simply isn’t a way to fashion a budget that adequately funds our state’s pressing needs," Edwards said in a statement. "TOPS is absolutely a priority and should be fully funded, but so should higher education institutions, health care for our seniors and those with disabilities, funding for medical schools in Shreveport and New Orleans, and our partner hospitals. Now we can see that it’s not possible to do that without replacing more of the revenue that is expiring."

The move to prioritize funding for TOPS, which is wildly popular among middle class and more affluent families, mirrors recent actions from the Appropriations Committee, which gets the first bite at the state budget under state law.

Rep. Gary Carter, D-New Orleans, said he worried about the ripple effect cuts to the state's safety-net hospital partners would have. Several of those operators have already said they will walk away from the agreements, threatening the shuttering of hospitals across the state, if their funding is drastically reduced to the levels that have been proposed.

"We have health care providers in the state of Louisiana making tough decisions," Carter said. "I'm a big believer in both education and health care, but I certainly don't want to risk closing any hospital."

Several Democrats also questioned the plan to fund TOPS while cutting general funding for college and university campuses.

It didn't take jetliners flying into New York skyscrapers.

It certainly didn't take any declaration of war.

All it took was Bashar al-Assad dropping a chlorine (and perhaps sarin) gas bomb onto a Damascus neighborhood and killing 40-odd people in the latest outrageous act of Syria's long and bloody civil war. For that, the combined forces of the United States, France and Great Britain launched 100-something missiles into a country with which we weren't at war, at least not legally.

What, then, shall we do with Louisiana?

I doubt it could be argued that Louisiana politicians have not killed -- and will not kill -- any fewer than a Syrian gas attack every few weeks, if not days, by starving every social safety-net program on the books, all because their constituents have no more interest than Cain in being their brother's keeper. As we know from Genesis, Cain had no interest in being Abel's keeper because he had already killed him.

Artistic tradition pictures the jealous Cain slaying with the jawbone of an ass, as Samson later in scripture did away with the Philistines. In Louisiana, it's asses jawboning who mow down the poor, the disabled and the sick with their votes and their callous neglect. If the House committee's will becomes budgetary law, what little cash the state has on hand will fully fund a popular welfare program that overwhelmingly benefits the adult children of middle-class white people.

The poor and the ill, then, will be left to be their own damned keeper. Should be interesting to see how well Grandma shifts for herself when she's wheeled to the curb after the Medicaid money stops but her nursing-home tab doesn't.

The white children of white parents with ample green will have their tuition to crumbling state universities (which aren't being funded) paid in full with taxpayers' dollars.  The state Department of Health would be starved to the point where virtually every public-private "safety net" hospital closes its doors.

Meantime, medical education virtually would end in Louisiana.
“So of $346-million available, you want to spend $246-million of it for this, leaving $100-million for everything else?” [Rep. Walt] Leger [D-New Orleans] asked. “You believe $246-million is best spent in these ways?”
“I do,” [Rep. Franklin] Foil [R-Baton Rouge] replied. “We had a lot of ground to make up, since the executive budget had zero dollars spent on TOPS.”

“Isn’t this message giving students false hope, because the full body isn’t likely to maintain this in lieu of funding other programs?” Leger pressed. “You’re okay getting a positive news story today, even if it ultimately will prove to be fake news?”

“My commitment is to students,” Foil answered.

“What about the Department of Health?” Leger asked.

“What about it?” Foil fired back.

“You’re aware that department is taking biggest cuts? And you still believe it is more valuable to fund TOPS?” Leger asked, incredulously.
“Your district includes a substantial constituency that is on Medicaid, doesn’t it, Rep. Foil?” Rep. Pat Smith [D-Baton Rouge] asked. “But you’re willing to fully fund TOPS to benefit a different socio-economic group in your district, instead?”

“I think this helps everyone, in every district,” Foil replied. “We are clearly short on revenue, and even if we were to take all of the money available and give it to the Department of Health, they would still have a shortfall.”
“Yet your amendment fully funds TOPS to the detriment of all the other programs in the state: disabilities waivers, nursing homes, public-private partner hospitals, graduate medical education,” Leger said. “It’s a trap, forcing us Democrats to say we either support TOPS or we don’t. That’s a false choice, and it will really end up being nothing more than a comment about what we would like to do.”

“We are already on notice that the public-private partner hospitals will be closing,” Rep. Gary Carter (D-New Orleans) chimed in. “We say ‘we fund our priorities.’ Your amendment makes TOPS a greater priority than health care.”

“I believe we will find funding as we go through this process,” Foil insisted.

“That’s pie in the sky,” Pat Smith told him, bluntly. “You’re perfectly aware there is no guarantee to raise additional revenue. Some 20 members of this body won’t vote for any new revenue under any circumstances. What this ends up saying is that we only want to fund a program for kids doing well in school, but not the schools they go to, and not the hospitals.”
BREAKING NEWS . . . Louisiana to poor, sick and higher ed: Drop dead.

Breaking news? That's old news. It's also today's news, tomorrow's news, next year's news and your grandkids' news.

In this era of concussive enforcement of the Geneva Conventions and international human-rights charters, here's the news I eagerly await:

As a proportional and just response to unacceptable violations of civilized norms, I await news that sea- and air-launched cruise missiles from the combined armed forces of the United States and sundry NATO allies have sent a message to America's own pariah state. And that the Louisiana Capitol Complex now looks a lot like some of the sadder parts of north Baton Rouge.

Right is right, after all, and rogue regimes must be put on notice that certain red lines must not be crossed. Even in the reddest of states.

We're all in agreement on that, am I right? Am I right?


Thursday, September 15, 2016

Dispatches from Trump's Amerika

Somewhere in Bumf****, Fla., there's a principal who apparently isn't obsessed with where one half of 1 percent of the American population gets to pee.

Unfortunately, he is obsessed with using authoritarianism to foster Americanism among his students. In other words, "Love your country . . . or else." A story Wednesday from WBBH television in Fort Myers proves that you can't make this stuff up:
A Collier County principal is requiring students to stand during the national anthem at school events or face ejection. 
Lely High School Principal Ryan Nemeth told students during video announcements they'll be ejected from school sporting events if they refuse to stand for "The Star-Spangled Banner." 
Nemeth told students the issue is very important to him, and the policy applies to students at all school-sponsored sporting events. 
"You will stand, and you will stay quiet. If you don't.. you are going to be sent home, and you're not going to have a refund of your ticket price," he told them.
NEVER MIND that respect -- or love -- coming at the barrel of a gun (or the threat of being kicked out of a football game) isn't. What it is, is a lie. A Potemkin pledge. It is standing for nothing before a national symbol that half-assed dictators have turned into full-fledged idolatry.

The only legitimately American response to a half-witted, authoritarian bully like a certain Florida principal is to quite deliberately, ostentatiously and quietly sit during the Star-Spangled Banner.

And students who do will find the Constitution is on their side.

"Over a decade ago, Chief Justice [Charles Evans] Hughes led this Court in holding that the display of a red flag as a symbol of opposition by peaceful and legal means to organized government was protected by the free speech guaranties of the Constitution," Justice Robert Jackson wrote for the majority of the U.S. Supreme Court in 1943 when it decided West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnett.
Here, it is the State that employs a flag as a symbol of adherence to government as presently organized. It requires the individual to communicate by word and sign his acceptance of the political ideas it thus bespeaks. Objection to this form of communication, when coerced, is an old one, well known to the framers of the Bill of Rights. 
It is also to be noted that the compulsory flag salute and pledge requires affirmation of a belief and an attitude of mind. It is not clear whether the regulation contemplates that pupils forgo any contrary convictions of their own and become unwilling converts to the prescribed ceremony, or whether it will be acceptable if they simulate assent by words without belief, and by a gesture barren of meaning. It is now a commonplace that censorship or suppression of expression of opinion is tolerated by our Constitution only when the expression presents a clear and present danger of action of a kind the State is empowered to prevent and punish. It would seem that involuntary affirmation could be commanded only on even more immediate and urgent grounds than silence. But here, the power of compulsion is invoked without any allegation that remaining passive during a flag salute ritual creates a clear and present danger that would justify an effort even to muffle expression. To sustain the compulsory flag salute, we are required to say that a Bill of Rights which guards the individual's right to speak his own mind left it open to public authorities to compel him to utter what is not in his mind.

REMEMBER, this ruling came in the middle of World War II. The justice continued:
Government of limited power need not be anemic government. Assurance that rights are secure tends to diminish fear and jealousy of strong government, and, by making us feel safe to live under it, makes for its better support. Without promise of a limiting Bill of Rights, it is doubtful if our Constitution could have mustered enough strength to enable its ratification. To enforce those rights today is not to choose weak government over strong government. It is only to adhere as a means of strength to individual freedom of mind in preference to officially disciplined uniformity for which history indicates a disappointing and disastrous end. 
The subject now before us exemplifies this principle. Free public education, if faithful to the ideal of secular instruction and political neutrality, will not be partisan or enemy of any class, creed, party, or faction. If it is to impose any ideological discipline, however, each party or denomination must seek to control, or, failing that, to weaken, the influence of the educational system. Observance of the limitations of the Constitution will not weaken government in the field appropriate for its exercise. 
2. It was also considered in the Gobitis case that functions of educational officers in States, counties and school districts were such that to interfere with their authority "would in effect make us the school board for the country." 
The Fourteenth Amendment, as now applied to the States, protects the citizen against the State itself and all of its creatures -- Boards of Education not excepted. These have, of course, important, delicate, and highly discretionary functions, but none that they may not perform within the limits of the Bill of Rights. That they are educating the young for citizenship is reason for scrupulous protection of Constitutional freedoms of the individual, if we are not to strangle the free mind at its source and teach youth to discount important principles of our government as mere platitudes.
WELL, this is the Age of Trump, and I suppose it's more likely than not that "to strangle the free mind at its source and teach youth to discount important principles of our government as mere platitudes" is exactly what people want out of public education today.

This is precisely why we have a Bill of Rights. Perhaps it's not so much to protect us from an abusive government but, instead, to protect us from ourselves.
Language of fascists, racists and morons in this video definitely NSFW

IN TRUMP'S AMERIKA, the above video displays what "love of country" comes to when severed completely from any understanding of human dignity or the principles at the core of the American republic. 

It is the principles that underlie the Bill of Rights (and the Fourteenth Amendment) that define the United States of America. Not race, not region, not class, not ethnicity and not religious affiliation, but those principles define what it means to be American.

And whether we're talking about half-witted, racist vulgarians in Massachusetts or authoritarian school principals in Florida, that shared contempt for those tenets that define us as Americans call into question the loyalty of those making "patriotism" such an issue in the first place.

Traitors are as traitors do.

HAT TIP:  Jeffrey Toobin in The New Yorker.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Pay for this. Why? None of your business

Planned Parenthood is absolutely right. Generally speaking, whether you're on The Pill or whatever is none of my business.

I really don't want to know.

If you're expecting me to pay for your contraception, however -- particularly if doing so causes me to bankroll what my religion defines as explicitly sinful -- that makes it my business, and the sex-obsessed cultural left cannot accept that it can't have it both ways. The Constitution may give you the right to ostensibly consequence-free screwing, but it doesn't give the state the right to put a gun to some others' heads and force them to violate their sacred conscience to bankroll what they believe is morally -- and mortally -- wrong.

When that freedom of conscience is eradicated, every other freedom we possess will go with it -- including, eventually, your freedom to have sex to your heart's desire, whether you want it to end in a child or not. If your enthusiasm for contraception isn't your boss' business, it's not the state's either. If you have the state making it your boss' business -- at least as far as funding it is concerned -- it has just become Big Brother's business in spades, and that violation of "privacy" won't end well for you or for anyone else,

HEALTH CARE in general is another matter. That's everyone's business, and society has a vested interest in not having people drop dead for lack of it. Thus, we try to provide maximum access to medical care while attempting to construct firewalls between the state and your human rights -- and dignity.

That is the morally correct, and practically smart, thing to do.

It's a trade-off that we fervently hope doesn't blow up in our liberty loving faces. On the other hand, forcing some individuals to violate their conscience to protect other individuals from the logical consequences of unfettered intercourse is neither fair nor sustainable from a human-rights perspective.

Again, you can't have it both ways. I'd suggest that Planned Parenthood declare victory and stop emoting patently illogical claptrap.

No one is going to croak because Hobby Lobby -- or the Catholic Church, for that matter -- doesn't pay for her birth-control pills. But if the perpetually alarmed folks at Planned Parenthood (or those folks who love them) want to provide that stuff for free, knock yourselves out.

It's a free country. For now.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

America'$ 13th Amendment workaround

Mother Jones writer Mac McClelland took a job in a megawarehouse that serves up all the crap we buy off the Internet.

What she saw and what she lived isn't pretty. What it is, increasingly, is a pillar of our economy. Kind of like King Cotton was for the antebellum South.

When that much money's at stake, you can justify a lot of shit. And you will.

And we have.

The days blend into each other. But it's near the end of my third day that I get written up. I sent two of some product down the conveyor line when my scanner was only asking for one; the product was boxed in twos, so I should've opened the box and separated them, but I didn't notice because I was in a hurry. With an hour left in the day, I've already picked 800 items. Despite moving fast enough to get sloppy, my scanner tells me that means I'm fulfilling only 52 percent of my goal. A supervisor who is a genuinely nice person comes by with a clipboard listing my numbers. Like the rest of the supervisors, she tries to create a friendly work environment and doesn't want to enforce the policies that make this job so unpleasant. But her hands are tied. She needs this job, too, so she has no choice but to tell me something I have never been told in 19 years of school or at any of some dozen workplaces."You're doing really bad," she says.

I'll admit that I did start crying a little. Not at work, thankfully, since that's evidently frowned upon, but later, when I explained to someone over Skype that it hurts, oh, how my body hurts after failing to make my goals despite speed-walking or flat-out jogging and pausing every 20 or 30 seconds to reach on my tiptoes or bend or drop to the floor for 10.5 hours, and isn't it awful that they fired Brian because he had a baby, and, in fact, when I was hired I signed off on something acknowledging that anyone who leaves without at least a week's notice—whether because they're a journalist who will just walk off or because they miss a day for having a baby and are terminated—has their hours paid out not at their hired rate but at the legal minimum. Which in this state, like in lots of states, is about $7 an hour. Thank God that I (unlike Brian, probably) didn't need to pay for opting into Amalgamated's "limited" health insurance program. Because in my 10.5-hour day I'll make about $60 after taxes.

"This is America?" my Skype pal asks, because often I'm abroad.

Indeed, and I'm working for a gigantic, immensely profitable company. Or for the staffing company that works for that company, anyway. Which is a nice arrangement, because temporary-staffing agencies keep the stink of unacceptable labor conditions off the companies whose names you know. When temps working at a Walmart warehouse sued for not getting paid for all their hours, and for then getting sent home without pay for complaining, Walmart—not technically their employer—wasn't named as a defendant. (Though Amazon has been named in a similar suit.) Temporary staffers aren't legally entitled to decent health care because they are just short-term "contractors" no matter how long they keep the same job. They aren't entitled to raises, either, and they don't get vacation and they'd have a hell of a time unionizing and they don't have the privilege of knowing if they'll have work on a particular day or for how long they'll have a job. And that is how you slash prices and deliver products superfast and offer free shipping and still post profits in the millions or billions.

"This really doesn't have to be this awful," I shake my head over Skype. But it is. And this job is just about the only game in town, like it is in lots of towns, and eventually will be in more towns, with US internet retail sales projected to grow 10 percent every year to $279 billion in 2015 and with Amazon, the largest of the online retailers, seeing revenues rise 30 to 40 percent year after year and already having 69 giant warehouses, 17 of which came online in 2011 alone. So butch up, Sally.

"You look way too happy," an Amalgamated supervisor says to me. He has appeared next to me as I work, and in the silence of the vast warehouse, his presence catches me by surprise. His comment, even more so.

"Really?" I ask.

I don't really feel happy. By the fourth morning that I drag myself out of bed long before dawn, my self-pity has turned into actual concern. There's a screaming pain running across the back of my shoulders. "You need to take 800 milligrams of Advil a day," a woman in her late 50s or early 60s advised me when we all congregated in the break room before work. When I arrived, I stashed my lunch on a bottom ledge of the cheap metal shelving lining the break room walls, then hesitated before walking away. I cursed myself. I forgot something in the bag, but there was no way to get at it without crouching or bending over, and any extra times of doing that today were times I couldn't really afford. The unhappy-looking guy I always make a point of smiling at told me, as we were hustling to our stations, that this is actually the second time he's worked here: A few weeks back he missed some time for doctors' appointments when his arthritis flared up, and though he had notes for the absences, he was fired; he had to start the application process over again, which cost him an extra week and a half of work. "Zoom zoom! Pick it up! Pickers' pace, guys!" we were prodded this morning. Since we already felt like we were moving pretty fast, I'm quite dispirited, in fact.

"Really?" I ask.

"Well," the supervisor qualifies. "Just everybody else is usually really sad or mad by the time they've been working here this long."

It's my 28th hour as an employee.
MAKE SURE you go and read the whole thing. Sleep tight tonight, America, as we all contemplate the possibility that, yes, there is a God and, yes, He is a just one.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

'Now we see the violence inherent in the system!'

Do you think I could get away with it if I said Barack Obama has no rights that any white man is obliged to respect?

Do you think I could get away with it if I added
"Help! Help! I'm being repressed!"


I don't understand. That works so well for "progressives" when they're talking about Catholics.

As a matter of fact, if you say that often enough and loud enough about Catholics and other religiously Other-ish people, you not only can get away with it but become a go-to guest on your local NPR station.

Thus we explain Amanda Marcotte's appearance today on No Point On Point, where the first topic was "Help! Help! Women are being repressed by religious fanatics who won't pay for their free birth-control pills!"

Marcotte's main qualification for the guest spot -- and, apparently, her standing gig at
Salon, too -- is that she's a pro-abortion radical feminist with a potty mouth and a bigoted streak as wide as the Father of Waters.

have somethin' goin' on to
A) get hired by, then B) get fired by the presidential campaign of John Edwards, that poster child for sexual liberation in all its "What could go wrong???" glory. Besides, nothing says "thoughtful" and "edifying" like one of Marcotte's anti-Catholic rhetorical flourishes:
Q: What if Mary had taken Plan B after the Lord filled her with his hot, white, sticky Holy Spirit?

A: You’d have to justify your misogyny with another ancient mythology.

LY, the difference between NPR and your typical AM-radio food fight is its guests are bigoted against all the right people.

How progressive of them.

No, really. This stuff is nothing new. Actually, it's as old as the United States itself, and 20th-century "progressives" picked up right where the Know-Nothings and the Ku Klux Klan left off.

If it makes you feel any better, I read that in
a 1997 article in The New York Times:
It has been many years since the poet and essayist Peter Viereck called anti-Catholicism "the anti-Semitism of the intellectuals." For Roman Catholics who encounter hostility, condescension and stereotypes among circles that consider themselves singularly free of prejudice, Mr. Viereck's quip remains the last word on the topic.

But now a young Harvard historian has taken another look at the role that Catholicism has played in what he calls "the American intellectual imagination." And his work helps explain some of the intense feelings that surround current issues like abortion and school vouchers, and why American Catholicism and liberalism have seldom been more than uneasy allies.

In a 32-page article to be published in the June issue of The Journal of American History, John T. McGreevy argues that from 1928 to 1960, anxiety about "Catholic power" became a defining factor in the evolution of American liberalism, along with opposition to fascism, Communism and racial segregation.

Dr. McGreevy, the Dunwalke Associate Professor of American History at Harvard, recalls "the most unusual best seller of the late 1940's," Paul Blanshard's "American Freedom and Catholic Power."

"The Catholic problem is still with us," Mr. Blanshard wrote.

In his view, the church posed an international threat to democracy, a threat that, two years later in "Communism, Democracy and Catholic Power," he put on the same plane as that of Soviet Communism. Along the way, Mr. Blanshard characterized nuns as legacies from an era when women "reveled in self-abasement" and he held Catholicism responsible for producing most white criminals.

Today most people might dismiss Mr. Blanshard's books and the fuss they provoked as more of an historical curiosity than a measure of "the American intellectual imagination." But Dr. McGreevy also recalls that in 1949, John Dewey praised Mr. Blanshard for his "exemplary scholarship, good judgment and tact."

McGeorge Bundy called the 1949 book "very useful." Scholarly reviewers hailed its author's "razor keen analysis" as well as his "restraint." Other distinguished intellectuals echoed Mr. Blanshard's parallel between Catholicism and Stalinism. For example, the Protestant theologian Henry Sloane Coffin called the two "equally totalitarian."
IN OTHER WORDS, "Help! Help! We're being repressed by the papists!"

On the other hand, Blanshard, who was an assistant editor at
The Nation, at least refrained from nasty quips about holy semen in his book, which began as a series of magazine articles in 1947 and 1948. Of course, his was the world of the 1940s -- one chockablock with stigmas, standards and taboos yet to be torn down or cast aside by folks just like himself:
Nobody knows exactly where the elaborate sexual code of the Catholic Church has come from. It has been developed by accretion over a period of nineteen centuries until, today, it is one of the most conspicuous parts of Catholic moral philosophy. Perhaps it ought to be called an anti-sexual code (even though the Church teaches that "a wife may not without sufficient reason deny herself to her husband") because the primary emphasis has always been upon the negative rather than upon the wholesome aspects.

Austerity was identified with virtue by many leaders of early Christianity. Two Popes, Clement VIII and Paul V, declared that anybody should be denounced to the Inquisitors of the Faith who declared that kissing, touching and embracing for the sake of sexual pleasure were not grievous sins. 1 Father Henry Davis, in his Moral and Pastoral Theology, expresses a contemporary priestly view when he says that "sexual pleasure has no purpose at all except in reference to the sexual act between man and wife... it is grievously sinful in the unmarried deliberately to procure or to accept even the smallest degree of true venereal pleasure."

Freud's wisdom was not available to the Popes and theologians who first imposed celibacy upon a reluctant clergy, and they could scarcely be held responsible for failing to appreciate the gravity of the effects upon human nature of suppressing the basic human instincts.
WHICH, according to Freud, all involve having intercourse with one's mother. Or some such wisdom.

But what do I know? I'm Catholic.

And a threat to truth, justice and the American Way:
These things should be talked about freely because they are too important to be ignored. Yet it must be admitted that millions of Americans are afraid to talk about them frankly and openly. Part of the reluctance to speak comes from fear, fear of Catholic reprisals. As we shall see in this book, the Catholic hierarchy in this country has great power as a pressure group, and no editor, politician, publisher, merchant or motion-picture producer can express defiance openly--or publicize documented facts--without risking his future.

But fear will not entirely explain the current silence on the Catholic issue. Some of the reluctance of Americans to speak is due to a misunderstanding of the nature of tolerance. Tolerance should mean complete charity toward men of all races and creeds, complete open-mindedness toward all ideas, and complete willingness to allow peaceful expression of conflicting views. This is what most Americans think they mean when they say that they believe in tolerance.

When they come to apply tolerance to the world of religion, however, they often forget its affirmative implications and fall back on the negative cliché, "You should never criticize another man's religion." Now, that innocent-sounding doctrine, born of the noblest sentiments, is full of danger to the democratic way of life. It ignores the duty of every good citizen to stand for the truth in every field of thought. It fails to take account of the fact that a large part of what men call religion is also politics, social hygiene and economics. Silence about "another man's religion" may mean acquiescence in second-rate medicine, inferior education and anti-democratic government.

I believe that every American -- Catholic and non-Catholic -- has a duty to speak on the Catholic question, because the issues involved go to the heart of our culture and our citizenship. Plain speaking on this question involves many risks of bitterness, misunderstanding and even fanaticism, but the risks of silence are even greater. Any critic of the policies of the Catholic hierarchy must steel himself to being called "anti-Catholic," because it is part of the hierarchy's strategy of defense to place that brand upon an its opponents; and any critic must also reconcile himself to being called an enemy of the Catholic people, because the hierarchy constantly identifies its clerical ambitions with the supposed wishes of its people.

It is important, therefore, to distinguish between the American Catholic people and their Roman-controlled priests. The Catholic people of the United States fight and die for the same concept of freedom as do other true Americans; they believe in the same fundamental ideals of democracy. If they controlled their own Church, the Catholic problem would soon disappear because, in the atmosphere of American freedom, they would adjust their Church's policies to American realities.

Unfortunately, the Catholic people of the United States are not citizens but subjects in their own religious commonwealth. The secular as well as the religious policies of their Church are made in Rome by an organization that is alien in spirit and control. The American Catholic people themselves have no representatives of their own choosing either in their own local hierarchy or in the Roman high command; and they are compelled by the very nature of their Church's authoritarian structure to accept nonreligious as well as religious policies that have been imposed upon them from abroad.

It is for this reason that I am addressing Catholics fully as much as non-Catholics in this book, American freedom is their freedom, and any curtailment of that freedom by clerical power is an even more serious matter for them than it is for non-Catholics. I know that many Catholics are as deeply disturbed as I am about the social policies of their Church's rulers; and they are finding it increasingly difficult to reconcile their convictions as American democrats with the philosophy of their priests, their hierarchy and their Pope.
SUMMATION: The Catholic Church has no rights that any white man is obliged to respect. . . . Help! Help! We're being repressed!

Or . . . 98 percent of Catholic women have used birth control, so there.

It's an old story, alas. It's also one of America's oldest acceptable prejudices, now that we can't kick the Negroes or the homosexuals around anymore. When you can combine fear of the Other with the ideological outrage of "being un-American," you have bigotry with legs.

What is disappointing is that the mainstream media keeps returning to bigots like Marcotte to reinforce warmed-over paranoia like Blanshard's, which was stolen from the Kluxers and the Know-Nothings, which frankly is so alarmingly WASP, not to mention SWPL. Not only that, it just sounded better coming from a 1940s intellectual rather than your typical postmodern vulgarian.

It's rather like the difference between drinking martinis at the club as you bemoan "the Roman problem" and smoking crystal meth at the Blogosphere Acres trailer park because those motherf***ing Catholic fascist motherf***ers make you want to f***ing kill somebody, and WHERE'S MY MOTHERF***ING PLEDGE-DRIVE, STATION-F***ING LOGO TOTE BAG, BITCH??????

Those people, I swear.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Enlightened America: Yesterday and today

From Facebook on Wednesday, with this commentary by Political Loudmouth:
On the other hand, if you have some little boys we can have sex with, we'd TOTALLY be down with that. Thanks to Being Liberal for this toon.
AND HERE'S the first comment:
I had this discussion recently with a very Catholic friend of mine. (I am a former Catholic) She says that it is "shooing" the baby out. I had to pull out my BASIC level anatomy book and explain how contraception works. That NO BABY IS EVER MADE. You know, I believe these people have their rights to this belief, I even believe they have they should not be forced to dispense if if they are so against it. But, I want it ENFORCED that not one of them EVER engages in pre-marital sex. ENFORCED; check those hymens, bitches!

someone objects:
Okay, I am usually really cool about the stuff you post here, and end up sharing lots of it, but I have to say the bit about "some little boys we can have sex with" is truly tasteless and outrageous.

I am Catholic - a bad Catholic. I am not blind to the faults of my religion but I know many priests and other religious (my older sister is a nun, btw) who've suffered the fallout from the criminal actions of the abusers in the Church, and the poor decisions that were made to cover up their actions by Church administration. Wonderful priests, simply because they wear clerical garb, have been ridiculed and taunted and threatened.

Also, by posting that you discredit yourself and make Political Loudmouth appear just as guilty of ignorance as, say, Fox News.

to more "tolerance" of the "diversity" that progressives so self-consciously espouse. Except when they don't.
I was raised by Christian Scienteists. They took "no medical treament" really seriously, which should be an illegal thing to do to kids. My parents were not comepetant to make decsions for themselves, let alone me.

Religion: always evil.

********, we're all sorry you're a mind slave of a gigantic coven of child molesters and their enablers, aka The Catholic Church, but that you are enslved by them doesn't erase the Truth. And sqauwking at people for daring to state a Truth you are hiding from just makes you into part of the problem. Everytime you defend a priest, you are enabling a child molester, which makes you as bad as they are.
I SWEAR, if this country gets any more "enlightened," "liberated" and "progressive," Catholics -- and other inconvenient Christians as well -- will have to emigrate to communist China for a little comparative religious liberty.

Not to mention literacy.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

No dogs or Catholics allowed

On the edge of living memory, the United States had a president who told the nation "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself."

Today, the only thing we can't tolerate is tolerance of those we deem insufficiently tolerant. At its heart, I think that's because we never listened to Franklin Roosevelt in the first place.

We fear. Mainly, we fear the truth when we hear it, no matter from whom we hear it.

We fear those who aren't like us. We fear . . . and we hate. Hate is something that feels better inside one's gut than fear does. So we transform our fear into something easier to stomach.

We know how scared lots of tea-party types have been these last few years. The forces of "tolerance" are quick -- and often correct -- to point that out.

Now, however, we see what Enlightened America fears -- and hates. No. 1 on the list is God. No. 2 are people who take God seriously -- or, rather, those who take seriously the God, as opposed whatever more convenient one we concoct out of the depths of our fear.

Quickie Mart God don't tolerate no Catholics . . . or their inconvenient scruples. That's true in Washington. It's even true in Green Bay, Wis., where the local brownskirts of Planned Parenthood are giving a local Catholic food bank the Susan G. Komen treatment.

AND IT'S TRUE in Denver, as revealed in this Catholic News Agency report:

The Archdiocese of Denver's Theology on Tap program was compelled to seek a new venue after a lecture on religious liberty by Auxiliary Bishop James D. Conley reportedly caused controversy among some patrons and staff.

“This was a misunderstanding and we hope to be able to work with the group again in the future,” Stoney’s Bar and Grill owner Stoney Jesseph told CNA on Feb. 10.

On Jan. 26 Bishop Conley spoke to hundreds of young adults at the bar, which is less than five blocks from Denver’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. His topic was “Atheocracy and the Battle for Religious Liberty in America.”

Shortly after the talk, however, organizers were told to find a different location for the program because of its “controversial” content and the fact that that some of the bar staff said they would refuse to work the event again.

“It’s ironic that the talk itself pertains so well to what happened,” said Chris Stefanick, director of the archdiocese’s office for youth, young adults and campus ministry who helps run the event.

Stefanick said he was surprised to hear Jesseph's desire to work with Theology on Tap in the future given that the archdiocese was told by the restaurant that the gathering was “too controversial.”

“Those were the words they used,” he said.

But he suggested that Jesseph’s business partners may have had a role in the decision. “I don’t think it was all on Stoney’s shoulders. Frankly, if it was just up to Stoney, this never would have happened.”

However, for “whatever reason,” he added, “I think the establishment has made it clear that they’d rather not have a public, Catholic event there.”

Theology on Tap is an ongoing outreach program of the archdiocese. It meets in a bar, Stefanick explained, because it intends to provide “a non-threatening place to gather with friends” for Catholics to “draw people into the faith.”

“It’s also a great social connecting point for people to realize they’re not alone.”

The January event was in a section of the bar where other patrons wouldn’t be able to hear what the bishop was saying, added Stefanick, who thought it was only the appearance of a man in a Roman collar that provoked a reaction.

One bar patron, who Stefanick believes was not in a position to hear the talk, shouted obscenities at the bishop.

“The people at the talk couldn’t hear, because the way the amplifiers were set, but the bishop heard him and I heard him.”

A PISS-ANT sports bar in Denver is perfectly free to refuse to play host to Catholics talking about theology because people’s feelings get hurt. Yes, that’s the bar owners’ right.

On the other hand, those who object to Catholics merely talking about religious freedom and contraception hold that the Catholic Church and its affiliates do not have the right to refuse to pay to supply non-chancery employees with something church doctrine holds as profoundly morally objectionable. In other words, "the First Amendment, my ass!"

In what manner does this dichotomy not demonstrate that such anti-Catholic attitudes (and such a willingness to deny certain religious believers basic freedoms) possess all the nobility of those held by the Nazis toward, say, the Jews? Or Custer toward the Sioux? Or Bull Conner toward African-Americans in Birmingham, Ala.?

This is where we stand today: “Unenlightened” Catholics and evangelicals must be legally compelled to affirm and enable all manner of things which offend their beliefs, yet their “betters” in our postmodern society can’t be bothered even to merely tolerate Catholics and evangelicals — or that such actually might possess constitutional rights.

That must be a powerful lot of fear that brings on such a powerful outbreak of bigotry.

HAT TIP: Rod Dreher.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Police-state tactics for all seasons

Forty-three words.

A faceless bureaucrat cowering in a cubicle can crush fundamental human rights in 43 words. One long sentence -- embedded in one relatively short paragraph -- can present a sixth-grade girl with a dilemma not unlike that of St. Thomas More.

So far, the consequences are a bit less dire than faced by the English jurist and Catholic martyr, but once we "cut a great road through the law to get after the devil," I'm sure we'd have little problem beheading a 12-year-old for just cause.

Today, just cause for cutting down "every law in England" -- or small-town Nebraska -- to "get after the devil" begins with what have become, in these days nearer the end of the world, among the most feared words in the king's English: "We have received confirmation from the (fill in the blank) Police Department that. . . ."

SUNDAY NIGHT, KETV television in Omaha reported on a schoolhouse anti-Rosary crusade in Fremont, Neb., with what amounted to a journalistic Gallic shrug. The people in the story recounted events with a beaten-down Gallic shrug that might accompany an unspoken "But the police said! What'cha gonna do?"
A sixth-grade girl said she was told that she can't wear a necklace that resembles a rosary because it violates the dress code at the Fremont Public Schools.

Elizabeth Carey, 12, said the school adopted a policy last year banning the necklaces.

"The principal said I couldn't wear my necklace at all because gangsters were wearing it," she said.

She said the necklace is part of an outfit that she hopes expresses her faith.
IN THIS crumbling American empire, receiving "confirmation" that some scumbag somewhere is wearing something to signify "Scum!" is reason enough to wreck the ordinarily innocuous for everybody. And in Fremont -- a bucolic backwater that already has cut straight to corn-fed Stalinism "to get after" undocumented Mexicans -- official word from Barney Fife is enough to impinge upon the right of Catholics to freely identify with, and practice, their faith in public schools.

Forty-three words is all it took.
We have received confirmation from the Fremont Police Department that there have been documented cases of gang activity in the Fremont community and that the wearing of a rosary as jewelry can be considered a gang symbol or a sign of gang affiliation.
THE ACTUAL cutting down of all the Bill of Rights to get after the homeboys takes just 35 words:
The wearing of rosaries as jewelry at school, at a school function, or in a vehicle used for school purposes is prohibited. Please be advised that students are subject to the various disciplinary consequences and procedures.

OF COURSE, gang bangers will be as plentiful in the Fremont public schools as they ever were . . . just without their rosary necklaces. This Franciscan friar, however, probably would be tackled and handcuffed at the door.

What the hell are we supposed to do -- "give the devil the benefit of the law?"
Superintendent Steve Sexton said the policy is for student safety.

"We had information from law enforcement that there were documented instances of gang activity in the area and we had information that states that the rosary was being used as a symbol of gang affiliation," Sexton said.

He said rosaries have been used as gang-identification symbols in Oregon, Arizona and Texas.

Omaha Catholic Archdiocese Chancellor
[sic -- the former chancellor] Rev. Joseph Taphorn said it's disheartening.

"I don't think Christians should have to forfeit what is the symbol for the love of Christ because a few people want to misuse that symbol," he said.

He said the corruption of something as beloved as the rosary disgusts the church.

"One ought to be able to figure out whether she's trying to promote a gang," Taphorn said. "If she's not, why would she be punished for her right of religious freedom and religious expression?"

Carey said she doesn't even know what a gang is. She said it makes her upset that she was punished for wearing what she thought was a necklace.

"It makes me feel like I want to scream really bad," she said.
KEEP your mouth shut, kid.

I'm sure that Fremont Middle School has
"received confirmation from the Fremont Police Department" that there have been documented cases of gang members screaming in the Fremont community and that screaming can be "considered a sign of gang affiliation."

Monday, March 08, 2010

The road to hell

If there is indeed such a thing as a real hell on earth -- as opposed to pedestrian, rhetorical hells on earth -- Juarez, Mexico, might be a finalist for the designation.

And when you get right down to it, Juarez became hellish due to a lot of factors you can see, to a lesser degree, in my own Louisiana hometown, Baton Rouge. And in things closer to home here in Nebraska -- like, for example, the growth of "concierge medicine."

This hit me like a thunderbolt as I listened to All Things Considered this afternoon. In the NPR program's feature on the plight of Juarez, one part hit me between the eyes with a journalistic two-by-four.

IT WAS this segment in the report:
In March 2009, Calderon put the Mexican army in charge of the Juarez police department after one of the local drug cartels ordered the police chief to quit.

Calderon now concedes that military muscle alone isn't going to end the violence. "We need to tackle this social plan, because the problems in Juarez have deep roots in the structure of this city," Calderon told a group of local business and community leaders.

Young people lack opportunities, he said. Juarez doesn't have enough schools, hospitals or soccer fields. Only half the roads are paved. Murder, extortion and kidnapping go unpunished.

Calderon said the social fabric and rule of law need to be re-established in Juarez. He received one of his biggest rounds of applause when he declared that motorists should be accountable and people should no longer be allowed to drive around without license plates.

Calderon pledged tens of millions of additional dollars for social programs in Juarez, but he also said he will not pull the Mexican army out of the streets.

The double punch of the global economic downturn and the gruesome drug war has battered the border city across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas. The maquiladoras, or assembly plants, in Juarez have cut more than 100,000 jobs since 2008. The owners of thousands of restaurants, bars, corner stores and other small businesses have shut their doors rather than pay "protection money" to local gangs. Many professionals have moved to El Paso.

Alvador Gonzalez Ayala, a civil engineer who works in Texas, has chosen to keep his home in Juarez. "And I want to remain here," he says. "I want my children to remain here."

He says one of the biggest problems facing the industrial city is the huge disparity in wealth.

Gonzalez says much of the blame rests with the local elite, which he says is "a privileged and influential minority that's totally indifferent to the great mass of poor people [who] live in the area."
[Emphasis mine -- R21]

He adds that the city has been neglected for decades. Young people who see the opulence in Juarez and just across the border fence in Texas are attracted to the quick money of the drug trade, he says. Workers in the maquiladoras earn $60 to $70 a week. Drug runners can earn that or much more in a day.

Gonzalez is involved in several civic groups, and he recalls going recently to talk to a group of preteens in one of Juarez's poorer neighborhoods.

"We were promoting education and science and math. And we were asking them, what do you want to do when you grow up? Many of them told us, 'I want to be a sicario.' That's striking. A sicario is a paid assassin," he says.

THE PART about tolerating cars driving around without license plates reminded me -- in the sense of a concept being carried to its logical conclusion -- of the great Gallic shrug Louisiana gives the larger concept of civic responsibility and good behavior. As did the part about indifferent elites.

It was the indifference of elites that also reminded me of life here in Omaha, home of one of the nation's poorest African-American communities -- one with only the tiniest of middle classes. The indifference doesn't, in my opinion, reach Louisiana (and certainly not Mexican) levels, but it there.

It's there whenever people can tout "concierge medicine" in the face of high infant mortality rates, astronomical levels of sexually transmitted disease, endemic street violence and disenfranchised people whose greatest deprivation is that of hope for a better life.

There are only two things that can lead to such tone deafness and rank selfishness. One is abject malevolence. The other is abject indifference. I don't know, frankly, which is worse.

But the end of the road, if the better angels of our nature do not eventually prevail upon us, is Juarez.