Benedict Wasn’t My Pope…

From “No matter what, I’m still Catholic,” Mary Elizabeth Williams:

“Benedict wasn’t my pope any more than George Bush was my president. I don’t vote for either of those goobers. I didn’t like the things they said and did, or their records as leaders or decent humans. So in case you’re wondering, I am consistently outraged by the corruption and abuse of power that has gone on within the church, and heartbroken over the lives that have been callously shattered because of it. I am appalled when an institution that should be a force for peace and progress instead focuses on promoting intolerance. I’m furious when rigid dogma leads to senseless death. That’s why I tackle these issues regularly in my writing. My religious upbringing trained me to speak out against injustice and exploitation, and hey, if that means making a stink about the way the church conducts itself, I guess I can thank Catholicism for showing me how to do it. Because if your whole enterprise was founded by a troublemaking, authority-questioning outsider, you shouldn’t be surprised if that’s what you get from his followers.

“You might likewise get people like the Nuns on the Bus, the movement of American Catholic Sisters who told that nice Catholic boy Paul Ryan that his budget plan was a hateful slam against the poor. You might, relatedly, get the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, who work closely with the needy and were condemned last year by the Vatican for not being sufficiently vocal enough about birth control and homosexuality. They, meanwhile, continue to espouse ‘open discussion of church doctrine.’  You might get my small, multi-ethnic parish that’s run by Capuchin friars, an order ‘dedicated to the service of real human needs and the proclamation of God’s love.’ They do clothing drives and hurricane relief, and I’ve yet to hear our pastor say anything intolerant or exclusionary, ever.

“Last Halloween, after Hurricane Sandy shut down our traditional neighborhood celebration in our park, the pastor offered families the use of the Catholic school’s gym for the festivities instead. There was no request for a fee, no implicit indoctrination. That’s why what ultimately drove me in disgust off our local Yahoo parenting group were the responses from people I’d considered friends who were so open in their contempt and distrust of the offer, and who said flatly they wouldn’t bring their children into ‘a church.’ Aside from the fact that it was a school, at the same location where they’d have to do their voting a few days later, the saddest thing about it was the bigotry it revealed. I take a whole lot of guff on a consistent basis from the so-called faithful who like to tell me I can’t be a Catholic and believe the things I believe. But frankly I have been just as condescended to, judged and ultimately bored by mean-spirited, know-it-all Catholic bashers in my life as I have my fellow Christians.

“It’s an often lonely place here in the quiet land of LGBT-loving, pro-choice, liberal Catholics. Some days I like to imagine it’s a little party just for Stephen Colbert, Joe Biden and me. But it’s not: 60 percent of American Catholics say they don’t strongly adhere to the church’s stance on abortion, and even more don’t subscribe to its position on same-sex marriage. Nearly 80 percent think you can practice birth control and not attend Mass regularly and still be a good Catholic, while only 20 percent believe in the necessity of an all-male, celibate clergy. You can call us Cafeteria Catholics if you like, but it doesn’t change our principles or our hopes for reform. And you can say the church is unchangeable, but it’s revised itself plenty over 2,000 years. This is a body that once decided slavery didn’t contradict natural law, so don’t rule out the possibility of further enlightenment.”  Emphasis added.

Exploiting Religion from Cairo, Egypt to Cairo, Illinois

Salman Rushdie is running around on his book tour for Joseph Anton, making the point that all the outrage about offenses to Islam, whether it’s because of a novel like his Satanic Verses or Danish or French cartoons or the Innocence of Muslims video, is not about religion, it is about politics.  It is about political leaders getting their folks wee wee’d up to make them ignore their real problems.

The GOP and Fox News are especially outraged about this use of religion to control people politically.  Hey, it takes one to know one.

In Cairo, Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood wants to distract its people from the fact that they lived in slums under Mubarak  and are living in slums under the Muslim Brotherhood.

Here at home, the party of multi-millionaires knows that there aren’t enough of them to win elections by themselves, and they also know that their interests don’t line up with those of average working people.  So they have to get the people in Cairo, Illinois (and Georgia, Nebraska, West Virginia, Ohio, and Oregon) to focus on something else and get really angry about it, so they’ll vote GOP against their own interests.

Getting Christians stirred up about Obamacare and contraception is just like getting Muslims stirred up about a video.  Before Obamacare, 29 states had these rules about insurance covering contraception, and no one cared.  Some of these states were among our most populous, like New York and California, and some were among our most conservative, like Arkansas.

I live in one of those 29 states.  I never heard a word about the state requiring insurance companies to cover contraception from my church until suddenly President Obama did it.  Suddenly they couldn’t bear to do what they were already doing because it was a violation of their religious freedom.

Yes, the outrage abroad is phony, but before we point out the splinter in the Muslims’ eyes, we should get rid of this huge beam in the eyes of our own Evangelical Christians and Catholics.

 

 

Shameful and Shameless, Simultaneously

“But I suspect Romney won’t do so well in the debates for the same reason that he didn’t do so well on Meet the Press. It’s hard to be effective when you’re biting your tongue and swallowing your pride at the same time. Romney has dumbed himself down to fit a Republican Party that has become anachronistic, hateful and foolish. He has never once stood up to the party’s extremist base in this campaign–not even when asked whether he would accept a deficit deal with $10 in spending cuts for every $1 in new revenues, not even on immigration and contraception, issues that sent women and Latinos scurrying toward the exits. His has been a shameful, shameless campaign. The public will occasionally turn out an incumbent President, but only when offered a real alternative. Mitt Romney has offered them only a mirage.”  Emphasis added.

Joe Klein, “The Mitt Mirage,” Time

When you come down to it, it’s really the crazies in the GOP who are going to get Obama re-elected.  They scare the country even more than the bad economy.  Thank you, crazy people!

Rove Tried to Contain Planned Parenthood/Komen Damage

From “Karen Handel book:  Karl Rove urged retreat on Planned Parenthood,” Kathryn Smith and David Nather, Politico:

A tell-all book by a former official at Susan G. Komen for the Cure alleges that Karl Rove told the charity to reverse its decision to end its cancer screening funding of Planned Parenthood — raising eyebrows among conservatives who wanted Komen to stand firm amid the uproar.

The book by Karen Handel, the former Komen vice president who resigned after the charity restored funding to Planned Parenthood, says Komen CEO Nancy Brinker told her that Rove said the organization should back down.

The book, “Planned Bullyhood,” went on sale Tuesday, and the Rove story is already provoking comments from conservatives who have been skeptical of Rove in the past.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0912/81036.html#ixzz26BjDBbM5

Rove wisely wanted the GOP to focus on the economy in the 2012 presidential election and not get bogged down in social issues, driving women away, especially white suburban women who helped elect Bush 43 twice.

 

This Isn’t About Freedom of Religion

As regular readers know, I am a practicing Catholic.

The lawsuit the Catholic Church has filed against President Obama on coverage for contraception isn’t about freedom of religion.  It isn’t even really about contraception.  It’s much more about abortion and defeating President Obama.

Back in 2004, Catholics voted for Bush over Kerry, 52 to 47%.  In 2008, despite being harangued by their priests not to vote for someone who is pro-choice, Catholics voted for Obama over McCain, 54 to 45%.  The Church is determined to reverse that result in 2012.  They want Mitt to win.

Having failed to get their flocks sufficiently “wee wee’d up” about abortion in 2008, the Church is now trying to convince them that freedom of religion is under assault.

But if that’s the case, why hasn’t the Church made a big fuss about contraception coverage at the state level, where it’s been in place for years.  Many states have coverage rules that are stricter than the Obama compromise.  The Obama rule makes things easier for the Church in those states.  This mandated contraception coverage exists in the vast majority of states, including big states like California and New York, and red states like Arkansas.

Back in 2005, then Gov. Huckabee of Arkansas signed a contraception coverage law that was like Obama’s original proposal that drew such outrage.  So Obama’s compromise puts him to the right of Mike Huckabee!

I feel as if some of the money I put in the collection basket at my parish church is in effect a political contribution to Mitt Romney because it will be used for this ridiculous lawsuit and attendant publicity to try to hurt Obama.  That’s a donation I have no interest in making.  Then as a taxpayer, I am paying to defend the lawsuit.  I would rather that both my church money and my tax money help feed and care for the people who are struggling right now.  I think that’s what Jesus would prefer as well.

 

 

Quotes of the Day

“I think the president this past week took six or seven states he carried in 2008 and put them in play with this one ill-conceived position [support for gay marriage] that he’s taking.”  Gary Bauer on CNN.

“I’ve gotten calls from pastors across the nation, white and black pastors, who have said, ‘You know what?  I’m not sitting on the sidelines anymore.’”  Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, also on CNN.

I don’t agree with Bauer and Perkins on much, but I worry that these two far-right leaders are onto something.

Voters don’t want to have settled matters, like contraception, re-opened and re-litigated.  But they don’t want to have unsettled matters treated as if they’re a done deal either.  You have to meet voters where they are, and you can’t drag them back into the past like Mitt or into the future like Obama.

Must Read from Frank Rich on the GOP and Women

Frank Rich has an excellent article, “Stag Party,” in New York Magazine, available at nymag.com.  He writes about not only the GOP’s current war on women, but also the history going back to the Nixon Administration, after years of Republicans supporting women’s rights.   Some excerpts:

“At the very top of the Washington GOP Establishment, however, there was a dawning recognition that a grave danger had arisen — not to women, but to their own brand.  A month of noisy Republican intrusion into women’s health and sex organs, amplified by the megaphone of Limbaugh’s aria, was a potentially apocalyptic combination for an election year.  No one expressed this fear more nakedly than Peggy Noonan …on ABC’s This Week.  After duly calling out Rush for being ‘crude, rude, even piggish,’ she added:  ‘But what he said was also destructive.  It confused the issue.  It played into this trope that the Republicans have a war on women.  No, they don’t, but he made it look that way.’

“Note that she found Limbaugh ‘destructive’ not because he was harming women but because he was harming her party.  But the problem wasn’t that Limbaugh confused the issue.  His real transgression was that he had given away the GOP game….  That’s why his behavior resonated with and angered so many Americans who otherwise might have tuned out his rant as just another sloppy helping of his aging shtick.  It’s precisely because there is a Republican war on women that he hit a nerve.  And surely no one knows that better than Noonan, a foot soldier in some of the war’s early battles well before Rush became a phenomenon.

“GOP apologists like Noonan are hoping now that Limbaugh and Limbaugh alone will remain the issue — a useful big fat idiot whom Republicans can scapegoat for all the right’s misogynistic sins and use as a club to smack down piggish liberal media stars.  The hope is that he will change the subject of the conversation altogether, from a Republican war on  women to, as Noonan now frames it, the bipartisan ‘coarsening of discourse in public life.’  That’s a side issue, if not a red herring.  Coarse and destructive as sexist invective is — whether deployed by Limbaugh or liberals — it is nonetheless policies and laws that inflict the most insidious and serious casualties in the war on women.  It’s Republicans in power, not radio talk-show hosts or comedians or cable-news anchors, who try and too often succeed at enacting punitive measured aimed at more than half the population.  The war on women is rightly named because those who are waging it do real harm to real women with their actions, not words.”

 

Mitt’s Already Lost

In 2010, the gender gap that had plagued the GOP for about 30 years disappeared.  Women and men voted about the same.  But I believe that in 2012, the gender gap will be back, and with a vengeance.

In a presidential election, voters who are not part of either party’s base, look not just at the candidates themselves, but at whether the far left or the far right looks scarier for that particular cycle.  It’s about where the pendulum has swung since the last election and moving it back toward the middle.

For women, the far right will look scarier.  Even if they don’t mind Mitt personally, he will lose votes because of the baggage his base brings on birth control and abortion rights.  They have stirred the pot too much since 2010 both at the state and national level, and the atavistic rhetoric during the presidential primary has only exacerbated the outrage and sense of backsliding, the visceral sense that the GOP is bad for women.

The far left won’t look very scary because we’ve already had one term of President Obama, and we don’t have a hammer and sickle on our flag.  The mansions on the Upper East Side haven’t been broken up into apartments for “the people,” and the estates in the Hamptons haven’t been turned into summer camps for workers.

There are five segments in the electorate.  There are the two segments who always vote R or D.  For them, campaigns are more about entertainment than edification, since their minds are made up.  There are the two segments who “lean” R or D, some of whom register in that party and some of whom register as Independents.  Then there are the people who truly are Independents, who don’t lean consistently and who pretty much start at square one for each presidential race.

Mitt is going to lose many women who lean R and  many women who are true Independents, and therefore he will lose the election.

It’s seven months till the voting, but for me, the election was over at the debate when George Stephanopoulus asked Mitt if he thought states could ban birth control.  From the look on Mitt’s face, I think he knew it too.

Pro-life Bombs? Really?

Now there’s an oxymoron for you.  Bombing for life.

Yesterday evening a bomb exploded at a Planned Parenthood office in Wisconsin.  The FBI is investigating.

These sick people are our own version of radical Islamic terrorists.  They are violent extremists, who don’t really care about “life,” only about imposing their ideology on the rest of us by force and intimidation.  They are no better than the bastards who took over the planes on 9/11.  They are using the same tactics the Taliban is using this very minute in Afghanistan.

I worry about threats like Iran and Al Qaeda, but I also worry about a country where your life is at risk if you go get a prescription for birth control pills.

This is a war on American women, and I’d love to do a drone strike on the nut jobs who did this.