Thursday, November 06, 2008

Spurious Hope?

John Zmirak's latest on InsideCatholic is a well crafted picture of the nightmare we can expect from the Democratic takeover. He's predicting much of the same thing I am, albeit more skillfully.

Nevertheless there are some interesting dissenting responses to his post about how serious the threat of FoCA is. Here are some excerpts:

The problem with being my age is that you remember too much. For example, I remember the same kind of talk in 1992, which was also supposed to be The End of Civilization as We Know It. Yet, we seemed to survive the next eight years. Some even think we did better in the 90's than in the ought's. In politics, the end of the world seems to be a quadrennial event.

—John Médaille

No doubt we've been used cynically by the Republicans, as Bush has most manifestly shown by disregarding the unilateral actions he could have taken to promote pro-life.

For instance, why are we hearing about FOCA from Catholic sources, but not from McCain or Palin themselves? Their opponent has made this a priority, why haven't they pressed him on that?

For one thing, McCain's friend Joe Lieberman is a FOCA co-sponsor.

For another, perhaps they too realize it has no chance of passing.

From Catholic News Agency, see Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life on FOCA:

“Moreover, it’s so extreme, I really don’t think it would ever reach his desk, even if the Democrats increased their numbers in Congress,” Fr. Pavone said."

—Kevin J Jones

... Obama is no progressive messiah; he's a standard politician like any other. As such, his primary mission in life is not to pass FOCA, but to ensure his own re-election. If passing the law helps, he'll try to do it; if not, he won't.

With that in mind, if the Congress were to pass -- and Obama sign -- the FOCA, there would be such an explosion among voters (the great majority of whom do NOT support FOCA) that all the gains Democrats made with moderates this year would be for naught. The FOCA is great for rallying the Democratic primary base, but like Obama's other promises to the fringe of his party (like filibustering FISA), it will disappear once he takes office... Only to reappear as a 2012 campaign promise.

FOCA is a boon for direct mail fundraising (on both sides), but it isn't going anywhere as legislation.

—Brian Saint-Paul

I'm not so sanguine that they won't pass the bill. The problem is that unlike the Republican elite, who cynically use social issues to promote themselves, the Dems are true believers. "Science" after all sanctions their worldview. Obama's record and public statements show that abortion is important to him.

A couple years ago the legislature of my state had passed a pro-abortion1 bill and a same-sex "civil union" bill. I took mail-in cards to churches to help people tell our Democratic governor not to sign them into law. One pastor let me put the anti-abortion cards in the church, but not the anti-civil-union cards; he told me that our governor would sign the former but not the latter: he is a compromiser, the pastor assured me. Wrong: the governor signed both bills into law.

The problem is: compromise with what? These people live in like-minded coteries and never hear any opinion but their own reflected back at them. For them to compromise means to do what they hear "everyone else" say should be done: exactly what they want to do (like Bush, but without the advantage of a disagreeing media).

I can only hope they are right that the Dems aren't serious about passing FoCA. Unfortunately they'll probably restrict themselves to their typical anti-democratic (ironic, isn't it?) stealth routine of legislating through liberal Supreme Court justices—we'll incrementally get the full effect of FoCA for two to three decades at least.

Then again, perhaps it would be best for them to pass it. At least then we'd have an honest fight out in the open.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The REAL Hope

A demagogue takes the highest office in the land. We are witnessing the decline of the republic, not unlike the passing of the Weimar Republic that preceded Germany's fall to National Socialist rule.

But is Obama comparable to everyone's favorite dictator? In his own words to his supporters, "You did it [voted me power] because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead." Does he know what "enormity" means? The first definition according to Miriam-Webster is "an outrageous, improper, vicious, or immoral act." Obama says more than he knows. But honestly I don't think the voters understand the enormities he seems intent on enacting (but neither do his supporters seem to care all that much).

He has pledged that the first thing he will do is pass the Freedom of Choice Act (FoCA). With a solid Democratic majority backing him in Congress, the only thing that would prevent him from carrying out that promise is if he exercised a "politician's prerogative" to change his mind. From his (other?) waffling and equivocations during the campaign, it appears he is well practiced in this art. I wouldn't count on that though: from his voting record, there seems to be no dearer cause to the man than abortion and ensuring that a child slated to die under an abortionist will not see the light of day.

FoCA will sweep away any state restrictions or limitations on abortion, such as parental consent, waiting periods, and mandate federal funding of abortions. Further, in enshrining abortion as a fundamental right, it will eliminate the ability of health-care workers to opt out of participating in abortions for reasons of conscience. It will likewise force religious hospitals to perform abortions or shut down.

The silver lining to these radical actions is that it might wake people up. It's one thing when children are killed invisibly in some minority corner of a city1, but it's quite another when federal troops are closing down, say, Catholic hospitals. (Don't underestimate Obama's slickness and ability to seduce people into swallowing poison.) The shame of this sight will be the just dessert of those of his supporters with some moral quality; the shameless may know no punishment in this life.

Speaking of the Catholic Church, the bishops were much better in speaking up this election cycle. Perhaps that was because statements by Pelosi and Biden treaded on their proper territory (doctrine). But one gets the feeling that it was too little, too late. We're soon be paying for two generations of subtle dissent (since Humanae Vitae), malforming of consciences, and skullduggery (e.g., Cardinal McCarrick's twisting of then-Cardinal Ratzinger's statement on the excommunication of pro-abortion politicians). I'd like to ask those bishops who haven't taken a decisive stand how what they think history will look on them. In the last few decades the left has been spouting the canard that the Church didn't do enough to prevent the Holocaust. It seems to me that the future will look back with deep disapproval on bishops who refrained from speaking up strongly against the killing of over 40 million innocents in our day. May God help them when they face judgment on the last day!

As far as the coming tyranny is concerned, we can thank the current occupant of the White House for setting us up quite nicely. In expanding beyond bounds the power of the imperial Presidency, Bush (along with Cheney) has handed unprecedented power to his successor. "Conservatives" have only themselves to blame. Perhaps they thought someone as "good" as Bush (read: on "their side"—supposedly) would always hold the Presidency? But just as only Nixon could go to China, only a "conservative" could curtail civil liberties without complaints from "conservatives." Years ago I warned my Bush-boosting parents that whatever powers Bush accumulated to the Presidency would be passed on to whoever, say Hillary Clinton... and now we have a President-elect who's far to the left of Hillary!

Bush and Co. certainly accelerated the centralization of power, but it was a road we've been heading down for quite a while. The whole system is broken. The stakes are so high that both major parties have dispatched hundreds of lawyers2 to dispute contested votes. The problem is that the stakes shouldn't be so high: no single man should have so much power. (This, along with the large effort required to campaign, is why we can't get decent, sane men to run for President nowadays.)

Robert Royal has some apt words:

Republicans have also been pandering, to a smaller but large enough swath of the population. What both parties have been doing used to be known as demagoguery and was recognized by the Founding Fathers as one of the reasons that democracy historically has been a very unstable form of government. Once popular passions are loosed from the bounds of law, the people usually demand everything from their rulers. This runs counter to the deepest sources of our civilization. Aristotle once remarked that if man were the highest being, politics would be the highest science. But that wise pagan pointed to heavenly beings and other things above us as normative, i.e., politics is limited and subordinate to higher truths.

But our government reflects its people. The fundamental problem is our impatience: we want it all and we want it now. We don't want to wait to be rescued from the suffering that threatens us, so we hand our self-dominion to a man, or to an institution, we think will save us.

What we really need is Hope. Not the worldly sort that Mr. Obama claims to fulfill, but the theological virtue that points only to God. Were Obama's claims true, he would leave us nothing to hope for. Given that they are hollow, we have all the more reason to put our trust in our Creator.

Put not your trust in princes,
in a son of man, in whom there is no help.3


1. Planned Parenthood situates its clinics primarily in minority neighborhoods.

2. If only we could dispatch them in the other sense!

3. Ps 146:3.