Apr 17

Cost-benefit ratio, all things considered.

Politics being at least as much about perceptions as reality, the calculated risk Sanders took by leaving the campaign trail just ahead of the New York primary for a whirlwind trip to Rome for a Vatican conference on economy and social justice probably paid off in the media coverage and the sense of gravitas it may have given the Democratic Socialist who has admired Pope Francis for years and quoted Catholic Social Teaching for decades.

Politico reports

his appearance at a Vatican conference celebrating the 25th anniversary of an encyclical by Pope John Paul II to mark the end of the Cold War signaled his arrival as a globally respected voice on inequality and economic injustice, providing him with a stature that he couldn’t have imagined at the beginning of his long-shot presidential campaign. His message in the Eternal City was essentially the same stump speech Sanders delivers back home, only now it warrants a crush of foreign media attention, and puts the small-state senator in company with a pontiff he’s admired from afar for several years.

Saying it warranted a crush of foreign media attention creates that perception, merited or unmerited, as well as the much larger idea that Sanders is in the same league as Pope Francis. Then there’s this line:

In Rome, standing beside adviser Jeffrey Sachs — who helped arrange the trip — Sanders told reporters his interest in the pope’s politics is entwined with his policy thinking…

Popes don’t  have or ‘do’ politics. Their words, teachings and writings are cited by politicians though, and always selectively. The Politico piece notes the Vatican “is still starkly at odds with many Democrats”, but played up Sanders’ citations of Francis in campaign speeches.

The Pope was on his way to Greece and reportedly, there would be no meeting with Sanders and other participants of this gathering hosted by the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Saint John Paul II’s encyclical, Centesimus Annus, a gathering that included Bolivian President Evo Morales, another Democratic Socialist. But somehow, Sanders’ and Francis’ paths crossed.

The BBC reports the pope strongly discouraged anyone from reading politics into the encounter.

Pope Francis says a brief meeting with Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders just “good manners” and not political interference.

They met early in the lobby of the Pope’s residence before he left to meet migrants on the Greek island of Lesbos.

“If anyone thinks that greeting someone is getting involved in politics, I recommend that he look for a psychiatrist,” Pope Francis added.

If anyone reading that reporting knows how unlikely it would have been that it was a chance encounter, it’s clear that someone, somehow arranged it. The fact that Sen. and Mrs. Sanders were staying at the Casa Santa Marta inside the Vatican walls was itself, interesting. As the BBC notes, it’s “the same guest house where the Pope lives.”He had been in the the Vatican to attend a conference on economy and social justice and stayed at the same guest house where the Pope lives.

For his part Mr Sanders said it was an “honour” to meet him.

“I think he is one of the extraordinary figures not only in the world today but in modern world history,” he told Associated Press news agency.

“I told him that I was incredibly appreciative of the incredible role that he is playing in this planet in discussing issues about the need for an economy based on morality, not greed,” Mr Sanders added.

Scholars at the Acton Institute suggest that, with Sen. Sanders’ interest in papal teachings on social justice, he should learn some lessons from Vatican documents and some papal teachings he cites.

At a very superficial first glance, and as Sanders himself has claimed, the Catholic Church would seem to support the candidate’s passionate quest for greater income equality and social harmony. Yet even his own supporters are blissfully unaware of what socialism is, and the nefarious means, as defined by the Italian theorist Antonio Grasmci, needed to achieve such objectives: the negation of private property, the traditional family and organized religion, especially Christianity. While socialists rarely mention these obstacles anymore, their overcoming remains necessary to achieve the socialist vision of a completely egalitarian society.

But the whole trip was rushed, as the Politico piece points out.

Everything about the trip was a hurried affair, from the questions raised about who exactly invited him to the finishing touches he put on the speech during his dead-of-night charter flight to Rome from New York.

Very little got reported about that. And only slightly more on what his rival, Hillary Clinton, was doing while Sanders was on his Vatican trip.

Just when we think this campaign season can’t get curiouser.

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Apr 03

But it put some important questions into the arena of public debate.

No matter how to whatever degree Donald Trump’s campaign has tried or managed to change the wording and intent of his response to MSNBC’s Chris Matthews about punishing women who have abortion if it were to become illegal, the correction will not catch up with the original statement. Matthews set up a ‘gotcha’ trap and Trump walked right into it. The news cycles ever since have fed on the resulting sound bites, and will continue to for months now that the hot button candidate has stumbled on the hot button issue.

So let’s clarify, and set the record straight, apart from whatever Donald Trump or any other political candidate, politician, or activist might say.

This came up as an abortion activist ploy in 2007, which I wrote about in a now defunct publication, as soon as it came out that pro-lifers were being ambushed with a variation on Matthews’ question. It was a new tactic to silence them, and at first, it seemed to work (and history has seemingly repeated itself in this political moment).

Here’s what I wrote then:

The question is simple and blunt: “If abortion is criminalized, what should the penalty be for a woman who has one?” It’s amazing the abortion movement has taken more than three decades to come up with it, but even more dumbfounding that they see it as the “eureka!” moment, the great trump card that will, they believe, stop pro-lifers in their tracks.

This is their new strategy?

“Gotcha!”

(Nine years ago, I could never have imagined the pun in that line “the great trump card” the abortion movement was playing.)

Continuing:

Now, they have begun to ambush pro-life people outside abortion clinics with a camera, drop the big question about making women criminals, and post the video online.

Newsweek columnist Anna Quindlen hardly contained her enthusiasm over this new strategy in her piece titled “How Much Jail Time for Women Who Have Abortions?” (Newsweek, August 6, 2007). It starts with the description of a YouTube “mini-documentary shot in front of an abortion clinic” in Illinois. “The man behind the camera is asking demonstrators who want abortion criminalized what the penalty should be for a woman who has one nonetheless. You have rarely seen people look more gobsmacked. It’s as though the guy has asked them to solve quadratic equations”.

Quindlen relishes this story. Especially reporting these responses by pro-lifers: “I’ve never really thought about it”. “I don’t have an answer for that”. “I don’t know”. “Just pray for them”.

End of Newsweek snip, at which point I say:

This is unacceptable. Her cynicism? [No.] That’s the level of discourse we get in the media these days. The ambush tactic? [No.] That’s the type of attack we can expect in the abortion battle at this point. But Quindlen’s report on the inability of committed pro-lifers to answer the big questions that still confuse this culture is totally beyond the pale. Because the debate has shifted dramatically in recent years, especially since South Dakota [passed an abortion ban], the pro-life movement owns the argument. There is not one question they should fear, and not one answer the abortion movement can honestly claim as validation for what they do.

But this isn’t about honesty. It’s about talking points and spin control. Now they’re spinning this myth that pro-lifers want to criminalize abortion, and make women criminals for getting one illegally.

Quindlen declared it triumphantly: “A new public-policy group called the National Institute for Reproductive Health wants to take this contradiction and make it the centerpiece of a national conversation, along with a slogan that stops people in their tracks: how much time should she do?” They are celebrating their cleverness.

But consider the big picture…

This much Quindlen gets right: “If the Supreme Court decides abortion is not protected by a constitutional guarantee of privacy, the issue will revert to the states. If it goes to the states, some, perhaps many, will ban abortion”.

But she draws a false conclusion: “If abortion is made a crime, then surely the woman who has one is a criminal”. Wrong. Not one state has written or planned language in abortion ban legislation that would consider — or allow anyone to consider — the woman a criminal for having an abortion. The party guilty of a crime would be the abortionist. Quindlen and her abortion-backing colleagues came up with this false dichotomy. They propose that, by their logic, the woman is a criminal. And they’re pinning that tortured logic on pro-life people.

At least on the ambush video and in print articles like Quindlen’s. That is, until she inadvertently stumbles on the truth: “Lawmakers in a number of states have already passed or are considering statutes designed to outlaw abortion if Roe is overturned”, Quindlen writes. “But almost none hold the woman, the person who set the so-called crime in motion, accountable”.

Exactly.

Get it straight, pro-life people, pro-abortion people, media who write about the issues and ask candidates about them, politicians who are asked those question, and voters confused by the breathless news cycles.

Here’s the truth:

Pro-life legal experts, legislators and advocates know that women are already victims in abortions. Whether the abortionist is a doctor or a back-alley hack, they would be held accountable for breaking the law wherever abortion is banned. This is information all pro-life people need to understand thoroughly.

The South Dakota abortion ban, House Bill 1215, states in Section 4:

“Nothing in this Act may be construed to subject the pregnant mother upon whom any abortion is performed or attempted to any criminal conviction and penalty.

“The South Dakota legislators who drafted it had already crafted legislation to protect women in the earlier informed consent law, HB 1166. Here is one of its provisions:

“Require that the State create a written disclosure form that requires the abortion doctor to provide the mother, in person, with all of the risks of abortion to the mother and her unborn child. Require that this disclosure take place before the woman pays for the abortion and before she is taken to the procedure room. Require that the mother must also be provided sufficient time for personal review and discernment.”

In other words, a standard informed consent that any medical procedure requires. Planned Parenthood immediately took the law to court and blocked its enforcement. Their argument before the district judge and then the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals was that the abortionists’ freedom of speech (i.e., not to tell women about all the risks) trumped the women’s right to know.

Which got virtually no coverage outside the pro-life world and social media.

Quindlen’s article in Newsweek wraps up with this: “The great thing about video is that you can see the mental wheels turning as these people realize that they somehow have overlooked something central while they were slinging certainties.”

Actually, abortion activists have been slinging their own certainties for decades. It’s only a matter of time before a video turns up that captures their wheels turning, while the most committed abortion supporters confront a few questions and see whether there are any true epiphanies.

(That was eight years before the undercover videos of Planned Parenthood employees answering questions about obtaining and making available for sale baby body parts after abortions.)

In 2007 through present times, one could and can ask…

Questions like: “If the abortion movement is really all about ‘choice’, why are you so opposed to actually giving women one, by following the standard medical procedure requirement of obtaining ‘informed consent’?” “When informed consent laws in different states actually make it close to passage, why do you fight them so vigorously?” “If you really are ‘pro-choice’, what do you have against giving women a two- or three-day consideration period … or even 24 hours … after allowing her to know all her options?”

(These aren’t actually answered, or even confronted.)

The Newsweek column concludes that “there are only two logical choices: hold women accountable for a criminal act by sending them to prison, or refuse to criminalize the act in the first place. If you can’t countenance the first, you have to accept the second. You can’t have it both ways.” But that is wrongheaded and illogical. This is the abortion movement contriving an untenable calculation.

Americans United for Life Senior Counsel Clarke Forsythe published this clarification in April 2010 about states not prosecuting women even before Roe v. Wade. It’s very thorough and should be read now.

The political claim—that women were or will be prosecuted or jailed under abortion laws—has been made so frequently by Planned Parenthood, NARAL, and NOW over the past 40 years that it has become an urban legend. It shows the astonishing power of contemporary media to make a complete falsehood into a truism.

For 30 years, abortion advocates have claimed—without any evidence and contrary to the well-documented practice of ALL 50 states—that women were jailed before Roe and would be jailed if Roe falls (or if state abortion prohibitions are reinstated).

This claim rests on not one but two falsehoods:

First, the almost uniform state policy before Roe was that abortion laws targeted abortionists, not women…

Second, the myth that women will be jailed relies, however, on the myth that “overturning” Roe will result in the immediate re-criminalization of abortion. If Roe was overturned today, abortion would be legal in at least 42-43 states tomorrow, and likely all 50 states, for the simple reason that nearly all of the state abortion prohibitions have been either repealed or are blocked by state versions of Roe adopted by state courts. The issue is entirely academic. The legislatures of the states would have to enact new abortion laws—and these would almost certainly continue the uniform state policy before Roe that abortion laws targeted abortionists and treated women as the second victim of abortion. There will be no prosecutions of abortionists unless the states pass new laws after Roe is overturned.

This political claim is not an abstract question that is left to speculation—there is a long record of states treating women as the second victim of abortion in the law that can be found and read. (emphasis added)

So media have the task, embedded in their profession, to find and read it.

Meanwhile, more from my article in 2007.

The week the Quindlen column came out in Newsweek, two post-abortive women, Georgette Forney and Janet Morana, co-directors of the ‘Silent No More Awareness Campaign’, reacted to the continuing deceit of the abortion movement in public statements. “To Anna Quindlen and anyone else I would say that women are already serving time for abortion right now in our own prisons”, Forney said. “No condescending dismissal of women’s torment by abortion ideologues can diminish the daily punishment of guilt, shame, and remorse post-abortive women experience.”

Morana made it clear what the overwhelming majority of pro-life people believe: women who have abortions are frequently victims as well because of the way abortion businesses sell abortions to them with misinformation….”The abortion profiteers and their shills in the press have been telling society for years that whatever it is that abortion terminates, it’s not a baby,” she said.

“This propaganda onslaught has taken its toll on women who believed that lie and who emphatically state today that had they known that their child was not just a “clump of tissue,” as abortionists told them, they would have never aborted,’ Morana added.”

This is going to remain a big issue in Election 2016. Good.

Abortion activists want to put the big questions out there. Let them be prepared to answer them, to carry the argument through to its logical conclusion. Why does an abortionist have more of a right to remain silent about abortion risks than the woman patient does to receive it, when her health is at stake?

(Re: informed consent law claims by Planned Parenthood and NARAL)

Why did NY Salon’s abortion forum, titled ‘What’s So Bad About Abortion?’ refuse any participation to the women from ‘Silent No More’, who could actually answer that question? Why does NY Salon’s website claim the group “believes passionately in free speech and discussing ideas robustly” but they would not allow Forney to discuss the idea that abortion is bad for women? After all, they already stacked the forum with four abortion advocates, from NARAL, the National Abortion Federation and a British abortion business. But the forum did not include any women who have had abortions and regret that decision. So, did they really want to know what’s so bad about abortion, after all?

Furthermore.…Why has the abortion movement turned its back for so long on Norma McCorvey after she was useful as “Jane Roe”, after she turned pro-life and Catholic and began to work so hard to inform the public about the impact of abortion? Do abortion activists realize that “reproductive rights” is a euphemism to fool the public into blanket acceptance of all contraception and abortion, or are they deluded as well? Although, if they’re deluded, they can’t answer that.

There’s a principle in law and logic that applies here. Never ask a question you can’t answer.

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Mar 31

She has a way.

Using the present tense for the nun who has passed into eternal life seems only fitting. Because she’s present on decades of air waves that continue to broadcast her shows in daily programming on the television and radio network she founded, she’s in booklets she wrote, long scattered across the world and now in the hands of people ‘in the desert, on mountains, in valleys’, as she once described her desire to reach people, ‘ to give courage, hope, strength’. And her voice is always resonating with the simple message at the center of everything she taught and said before rendered silent by debilitating strokes, and afterward in the witness of her constant suffering: ‘Jesus. Loves. You.’

Mother Angelica founded a monastery in the deep South decades ago out of great concern and reparation for the injustices carried out there through slavery, then segregation, discrimination and racial inequality, all of which she followed intently from her home in Ohio. It was the fulfillment of a promise to God for healing of an impairment, and both happened. From its very small and humble beginnings, the place was destined for big things, because the nun who ran it was a force of nature who wouldn’t be stopped from telling people in the world ‘Jesus. Loves. You.’ When network television aired a religiously themed program that corrupted the truth of the gospel, Mother Angelica decided to start her own. Construction workers building a garage for the nuns were tasked with turning it into a makeshift studio, get and set up some cameras and broadcast equipment, and beam a signal to carry the Eternal Word Television Network to whomever it would reach.

It reached me many years later, as I’ve shared here. As a woman broadcaster, I’m thankful to have watched and listened to her for so many years, seeing a woman of faith and conviction go live on the air with the ease of talking with the person in front of her about life and it’s ups and downs, faith fully authentic and alive and shared with what she never thought was courage because it came so naturally and from a deep place in her heart. She was truly Mother.

And she captivated people who knew nothing of the Catholic Church and probably didn’t want to, who happened onto her show by switching channels or tuning the dial, and something caught their attention there. That happened to people who were addicted to alcohol, porn, drugs, destructive behaviors, who stayed with Mother Angelica for the duration, and found healing. People who were lonely and abandoned, suicidal, happened upon her at just the right time to save their lives, and heal their hearts.

She talked about Jesus all the time, but in compelling and endlessly varied ways. The New York Times noted that Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput said “she succeeded at a task the nation’s bishops themselves couldn’t achieve.” It cited a Time Magazine profile calling her “arguably the most influential Roman Catholic woman in America.” Fr. Mitch Pacwa, one of the longest running hosts of programming on EWTN and the one who took over Mother’s show when a debilitating stroke finally ended her ability to speak, called her A Strong Woman in Love with Jesus.

The network has long aired the classic Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen series Life is Worth Living, as relevant now as ever. Bishop Robert Barron, whom many consider to be the ‘modern day Fulton Sheen’, founder of Word On Fire ministry and the host of the magnificent Catholicism series, simply and eloquently said this:

Against all odds and expectations, she created an evangelical vehicle without equal in the history of the Catholic Church. Starting from, quite literally, a garage in Alabama, EWTN now reaches 230 million homes in over 140 countries around the world. With the possible exception of John Paul II himself, she was the most watched and most effective Catholic evangelizer of the last fifty years.

But he acknowledged as well her scruffy ways, for which she was well known.

Mother Angelica wasn’t perfect—and she would be the first to admit it. Due to her lack of polish and advanced theological education, she sometimes said things that were insufficiently nuanced and balanced. And her hot temper, which gave fire to her evangelization, also at times led her to indulge in ad hominem attacks and unfair characterizations of her opponents’ positions. But these are quibbles.

Bishop Barron focused on

her instinct for the supernatural dimension of Christianity. Now I realize that such an instinct might seem rather obvious, but in the immediately post-conciliar years there was indeed a tendency to naturalize the supernatural, to reduce Christianity to the works of social justice and the cultivation of psychological well-being. Mother knew that a de-supernaturalized Christianity would in short order lose its soul and, paradoxically, its relevance to the world.

Tributes and memorials will continue to pour in from around the world, as Mother Angelica reached into the living rooms, on the dials and online in homes in the farthest flung places on the global Catholic network in many languages. She is laid to rest at the monastery she founded, this Friday. But she remains, with her way of challenging and encouraging modern culture to recognize the truth of human dignity, and the ever present love of God. Because she found a way to grow the EWTN media empire in the news world and geographical world, her voice will remain as long as signals will be broadcast, to do what Pope Francis so often encourages, to go out to the existential peripheries and create a culture of encounter.

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Mar 14

If it is, he goes out with noble dignity.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio is young and could have a great future ahead of him in leadership, whether at the state or federal level. His candidacy for president took a precipitous turn recently and never recovered from the slide. He came out acknowledging his mistakes in judgment, a rare act of humility for a public servant and a candidate for the presidency, singular among a field who mostly don’t see themselves at all as a public servant, and some of whom seem to betray a sense of entitlement and aspiration to a high and mighty position of power.

When he was on the slide in recent weeks and even the past several days, pundits and analysts said he should get out of the race to save face from losing his home state of Florida, which would set back or negate his chances to run for governor of that state in the future, with a wide open road to future runs for higher office. Even his supporters started expressing that wish, so he wouldn’t stand to lose his own state. But Rubio  learned from listening to others than to his own heart and conscience.

With a couple of poor debate performances causing his slide in the polls, he took the bad advice to counter the verbal assault with low blows and to ‘punch back’, which he almost immediately regretted. As low as it got in an exchange with Donald Trump (a regular and a veteran in the arena of disgraceful assaults), Rubio knew he should never have gone there, and he publicly apologized. He exposed his regret at having humiliated himself, his family, his supporters, American voters and everyone involved in the process. It has been a rare public accounting for one’s errors of personal judgment, an examination of conscience that allowed him to express remorse and the will to serve as a public witness to higher goals.

It’s rare in a public official, a leader, especially one who seeks to be the top leader in the land. And before he exists the race, if he does after Tuesday’s elections, he deserves recognition and appreciation for this honesty and noble dignity.

On the eve of the Florida primary, a reflective Marco Rubio looked out at a roaring crowd of diverse supporters and, once again, expressed regret.

“The fact that I’m here now in front of those cameras comes with responsibility, and I’ll confess, I’ve learned that myself,” the Florida senator said…

He ran through the list of people he embarrassed with his bawdy rumble with Donald Trump — his children, his wife, his young supporters.

“I felt terrible about it,” Rubio said. “I realized that win or lose, there are people out there that see what I’m doing and follow it as a role model.”

After days of unflinching optimism on the campaign trail, the gravity of Tuesday’s Florida primary appeared to bear down at one of Rubio’s last stops of the day. And potentially, one of the last stops of his presidential campaign…

“Leadership is not about going to angry and frustrated people and saying, ‘You should be even angrier and more frustrated, and you should be angry and frustrated at each other,’” Rubio said. “That is not leadership. You know what that is? That’s called demagoguery, and it is dangerous.”

He lamented Trump’s over-the-top style, from his use of profanity — “we have never had a presidential candidate that has to be bleeped out” — to his apparent willingness to pay the legal fees for a supporter who sucker punched a protester.

“I know there are people that like this stuff because he says what they want to be able to say,” Rubio said. “Presidents can’t say whatever they want to say. You have to be honest, you have to be correct and you have to be truthful. But you can’t say whatever you want to say.”

There’s a significant lesson in that. A great sign of maturity as a citizen, and a candidate for high office.

Later Monday, Rubio’s bus pulled up to a crowd of hundreds gathered on a brightly lit, outdoor basketball court in West Miami, where Rubio would hold his potentially last rally as a presidential candidate. He hopped up on the bed of a pick-up truck and used a bullhorn to address the enthusiastic crowd, as a giant American flag hung on a building behind him.

It was a homecoming of sorts, given that Rubio said he used to play basketball in this park and it’s an area where he campaigned to run for city commissioner two decades ago.

“And this is the park I wanted to be in tonight, on the eve of the most important election in a generation, in the state that always makes the difference…

Speaking more in Spanish than in English, Rubio thanked the community for their support over the years. He had fun joking around with the crowd — especially in Spanish — and appeared more relaxed and at ease than he has in days.

“No matter where I’ll go or where I’ll be, I will always be a son of this community,” he told them. “I will always carry with me the hopes and dreams of generations who made possible the hopes of mine.”

A while back, in the thick of the debate season and beginning of the caucuses and earliest primaries, someone asked him what his reaction would be to losing. Without a pause, he instinctively responded that God’s will would be done, and that’s all that mattered. On this eve of what may be the ultimate Super Tuesday of this election year, Rubio seemed more at peace than he has in many months.

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Feb 09

High profile surrogates sound desperate, reach a new low.

That’s saying something for a woman candidate for president who earned and embraced the enthusiastic endorsement of the largest abortion provider in the world. But since that endorsement last month, Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers have continued to drop.

So over the weekend before Tuesday’s first election of the long primary season, two very high profile women of Hillary’s generation came out to stump for her, one on the campaign trail and the other on a popular liberal television show, and both in tandem delivered a memorable message that was shocking, revealing, and ultimately counter-productive. They were both condemnations of young women who don’t support Hillary Clinton. And did more than opposition candidates to damage her and the cause of women’s best interests.

The New York Times calls it a “rebuke” in the headline over the story of a generational clash, in which two “feminist icons”, Madeleine Albright and Gloria Steinam “called on young women who supported (Democratic Socialist candidate Bernie Sanders) to essentially grow up and get with the program.” As the caption on the photo tells it:

Madeleine Albright, the former secretary of state, told young women it was their duty to support Hillary Clinton in her presidential run at a rally in New Hampshire on Saturday.

That alone is, these days, unwise and unhelpful enough. But then she said this:

“We can tell our story of how we climbed the ladder, and a lot of you younger women think it’s done,” Ms. Albright said of the broader fight for women’s equality. It’s not done. There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other!”

That was a stunner. Over the years, I’ve occasionally noted or lamented the final public end of a notable and esteemed public figure in broadcasting, other media, sports, politics or elsewhere where that person had made a name, record and reputation for a long time, only to go out sadly repudiated and disgraced by a random remark that was politically incorrect. Though I didn’t always agree with or appreciate Madeleine Albright’s statements or actions on a given policy, she served nobly and honorably at times for ‘the least of these’, as in her tenure as Ambassador to the United Nations under the Clinton Administration, when she issued a stinging rebuke to the UN Secretary General and the U.S. for their neglect to engage over war crimes in the genocide in Rwanda. She said then:

My deepest regret from my years in public service is the failure of the United States and the international community to act sooner to halt these crimes.

Which reflected deeply held principles about human life and the protection of vulnerable, innocent people.

That’s a far cry from what she said over the weekend to scold young women who don’t back Clinton’s candidacy, and warn them of the consequences.

“There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other!”

How threatening, extreme and desperate that sounds. And how revealing of the whole false feminist, “pro-choice” agenda of Planned Parenthood and establishment abortion activists who actually only contend that there’s one choice, and it’s theirs. If your choice is pro-life, another candidate who didn’t get the endorsement of Planned Parenthood, you’re not only wrong and need to be rebuked, you’re going to hell.

Women are smarter than that, they know that they really do have choices and will make them according to what they determine is best for themselves, their health, their future and family, and without the dictates of angry, authoritarian women who tell them that women still need to follow ‘groupthink’ to be empowered. That just doesn’t work anymore. Years ago, former NARAL Pro-Choice America president Nancy Keenan watched the March for Life on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, saw the tens of thousands of enthusiastic participants and said “There are so many of them and they are so young.”

They are not about to buy into threats of damnation for not backing the abortion movement’s godmother, Hillary Clinton, to be president of the United States.

And especially not responsive to ridicule by feminist movement founder Gloria Steinam, who appeared on the Bill Maher show and said that women become more active in politics as they get older, and that young women were supporting Sen. Sanders because the young guys were.

“When you’re young, you’re thinking ‘Where are the boys? The boys are with Bernie,’”…

To which Maher instantly replied that if he’d said that, he’s be smacked for such an offensive remark.

This is not helping women and women know it. They’ve either been through the feminist movement and had abortions and suffered the damage of that, or they’ve learned from those who have. They know they have choices and the best place to find options and alternatives for their health is with the true women’s movement of these times, in pregnancy health centers, and women’s health clinics, and organizations like Women Speak for Themselves.

One Democratic network news contributor said the barrier to the White House had been broken by Barack Obama. Then she shrugged off the Hillary Clinton candidacy saying it wasn’t necessary to vote for her just to prove a point that’s been made.

To insinuate, or worse, to state it as blatantly as Madeleine Albright and Gloria Steinam did so unwisely, that it’s now the necessary duty of women of all ages to vote for Mrs. Clinton to get the first woman president, betrays the agenda and ideology of the false women’s movement that promotes the idea of true freedom of choice, without backing it, no matter what women choose for themselves.

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Feb 08

“It’s hard to overstate how extreme Mrs. Clinton’s new position is.”

But Bill McGurn does a good job conveying the idea.

Today Mrs. Clinton’s formula is safe, legal, unlimited—and federally subsidized. We saw this new Hillary Clinton at a Planned Parenthood rally in New Hampshire this month, where she said she favored “safe and legal abortion” and denounced the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding for abortion.

“I will always defend Planned Parenthood and I will say consistently and proudly, Planned Parenthood should be funded, supported and protected, not undermined, misrepresented and demonized,” Mrs. Clinton said. In return, Planned Parenthood rewarded her with the first presidential primary endorsement in its 100-year history.

This is not where American women, in the majority of the general population, want to go.

I began this post a while ago, had no time to finish it, and now the New Hampshire primary is here. Mrs. Clinton will by all accounts lose it to Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders, no pro-life advocate himself. Because of her falling poll numbers across the board of pollsters and demographics of those polled, she’s taking a page from Barack Obama’s playbook, and instead of moderating closer toward the ideological center, she’s tacking left. He had nothing to lose when he did it, and he’s enjoying the last months in the office of the presidency. She has everything to lose, namely that office which she seeks wholeheartedly.

This is how to lose it, or at least…it doesn’t help.

Amy Chozick of the New York Times recently described the relationship this way: “the Clinton campaign has functioned almost as a marketing arm for Planned Parenthood.” Remember, this is an organization that reports performing 323,999 abortions and taking in $553.7 million in subsidies from Uncle Sam in fiscal year 2014-15. Though these tax dollars are not earmarked for abortion, money is fungible.

It’s a curious reversal. For one thing, Mrs. Clinton’s shift comes at a moment when even some pro-choice advocates admit to queasiness over Planned Parenthood after undercover videos were released last year showing its officials sipping wine as they chat about prices for, say, an intact fetal heart. The pro-choice community also includes those who support abortion rights but do not believe either Planned Parenthood or abortion should be subsidized with tax dollars.

It’s also a big shift from last July, when Mrs. Clinton repeated her safe, legal and rare formula to the New Hampshire Union Leader and said she found the Planned Parenthood videos “disturbing.” But plainly not so disturbing that she would let it get in the way of the $20 million Planned Parenthood will spend this election cycle.

It calls to mind the old saying ‘Dance with the one who brought you.’ Even if steps get entangled, and you both fall.

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Jan 27

The mission is to protect all vulnerable human lives.

So the old, unworkable claim that being “anti-abortion” (speaking of old terminology) is ‘single-issue’ activism about just saving babies is as incoherent as the claim that being “pro-choice” is wide-reaching activism about comprehensive care for women in need and their families. You can’t stand for the right to healthcare, free or low-cost contraceptive drugs, the personal right to ‘consult your doctor or minister’ (all of which is so often claimed) or the right to anything else if you can’t or won’t guarantee the right to live in the first place.

That is self-evident. But too may people have deluded themselves in the abortion movement, along with willing and compliant facilitators in media, politics, academia and other opinion shaping positions, it’s now a rescue mission for them as well as babies, mothers, their families and society.

This has gone on for too long to comprehend. The anniversary of Roe v. Wade just passed the 43rd year mark, and the toll is beyond breathtaking. When I see a television special, or coverage of the Washington DC March for Life, and the screen has a ticker in the corner upping the number of babies aborted since the start of that program alone, I panic and want someone to do something to stop this madness that’s so rapidly spiraling out of control. But the only difference between that moment and every other over these decades is that the ticker is right there, on the screen, in full sight, digitally ticking up the numbers to tally the latest toll as fast as abortions are happening.

Here’s a screen full of numbers. Look at any box, especially the one tallying the number of abortions since you loaded the page. From the time I opened it to link it here, to mere minutes later, it showed nearly 700 new abortions worldwide. Watching it tick up is horrifying. Every number is a human life. When I started these last few sentences, I refreshed that page and that one number went back to zero with the reload. On quick glance, it’s already up to 154 and I don’t want to look again at what it’s up to since this sentence was started. (Okay,  I just did, 207.)

I just closed that page, not to have to look again. But see, that’s exactly the point. Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life has always said “America will not reject abortion until America sees abortion.” Out of sight, out of mind. Multiply that toll exponentially by the countries that have legalized abortion (hence the worldwide counts on that abortion ticker page) and the genocide of unborn boys and girls is horrific. And not so out of sight anymore, since the trial of notorious late term abortionist Kermit Gosnell in 2013, and the series of undercover videos documenting Planned Parenthood’s sale of baby body parts that emerged in 2015.

Just about every sentence here calls for further elaboration, and that will come in the days, weeks and months ahead. This is a prominent issue in the American presidential election this year, one among many but a very important one for many candidates still in the race in the GOP, their supporters, and  citizens who may be holding out on politics at the moment, but holding stronger views on protecting innocent, vulnerable human life. Democrats have no candidate running for the presidency who holds pro-life views, and Democrats for Life have to hold their own in the party that has forced their numbers to dwindle.

Amazing, the irony of noting the analogy to The Emperor’s Clothes and calling it obvious.

The 2015 March for Life in DC chose the theme ‘Pro-Life and Pro-Woman Go Hand In Hand’. Fr. Pavone explains:

The real difference between those in the pro-life movement and those in the “abortion rights” movement is not that we love the baby and they love the mother.

The real difference is that they say you can separate the two and we say you can’t.

We love them both. And we are convinced that you cannot serve the mother while destroying her child, and that you cannot save the child without helping the mother.

Much more to come on that.

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Jan 14

President Obama’s final SOTU was a ‘what’s wrong with this picture?’ snapshot.

Starting with the political theater of the whole thing. Which is embarrassing for everyone.

Political commentator Ed Morrissey saw it as “a parody of monarchical excess“, altogether unnecessary and irrelevant. Right. Return to the Jeffersonian practice of sending in a report and save us all from the “droning, laundry-list campaign speeches of grand spectacle, but very little import.”

Fact-checkers looked at the speech on paper, and laid out a list of claims the president got wrong.

Bill McGurn had keen foresight of the single visual that would capture what the president got wrong, even before he arrived to great fanfare or spoke, because

a White House teaser reveals one of his planned props for the evening: “We leave one seat empty in the First Lady’s State of the Union Guest Box for the victims of gun violence who no longer have a voice.”

Every time I think this president can’t outdo his audacity, he does. He recently held an emotional press conference to announce executive action on gun violence, choked up over the innocent children gunned down senselessly. Where has this emotion been for the past seven years of his presidency while in his and my hometown, innocent children, women, men, grandparents, teens, promising youth have been shot and killed in gun violence every single day on the south side of Chicago, the very familiar territory of his early days as a community organizer and fledgling politician? Even some community leaders there who hold rallies have called out the president for his lack of presence or voice on this most notorious of neighborhood turf wars by street gangs, year in and year out. I recall once when he virtually phoned in a message to be delivered at the rally, delivered by proxy. Why seven years of the bully pulpit not directed to that, to them, to promising young lives snuffed out by guns and gangs? Only to have the final SOTU address gun violence with an empty chair, for the missing?

How symbolic, McGurn continues.

The spectacle is made for President Obama. After all, this is the man who strode out on a stage of foam Greek columns when he accepted his party’s nomination for the presidency. How appropriate that in his last State of the Union he now opts for the empty chair routine used to such derision by Clint Eastwood at the last Republican National Convention.

Then again, for Mr. Obama the maneuver has always been the message. From his 2008 campaign appearance before the Berlin Wall (where he declared himself “a fellow citizen of the world”) to his decision to accept the Nobel Peace Prize before he had in fact done anything, the stage has always upstaged the substance. Unfortunately, Mr. Obama’s penchant for the beau geste carries a high price for Americans, not to mention other, less fortunate citizens of the world.

Start with foreign policy. Though Candidate Obama inveighed mightily against the U.S. intervention in Iraq, he also campaigned on the idea that Iraq had distracted us from winning “the necessary war” in Afghanistan. When he announced to the American people his own surge of 30,000 troops to Afghanistan in December 2009, the cadets at West Point were drafted to serve as the dramatic backdrop.

Today we can see the same speech shows that more important to him than winning this war was the withdrawal date he tucked in the next sentence. Later his own defense secretary, Robert Gates, would record in his memoir how he came to the conclusion that his boss “doesn’t believe in his own strategy, and doesn’t consider the war to be his.” Meanwhile, Americans in uniform would continue to die for this strategy.

The painful truth.

The domestic side has also been decided by high theater. When Mr. Obama was first elected, such was his popularity (and the low standing of the GOP), he could have done almost anything. On cue he opted for what he called “the most sweeping economic recovery package in our history,” an $800 billion stimulus that never did stimulate.

ObamaCare followed a year later. Notwithstanding lopsided Democratic majorities in both houses, Mr. Obama still had trouble getting his signature issue through. A more modest president might have found ways to address the problem—i.e., the millions of Americans who could not afford health insurance—without upending the entire market…

This has been the steady fare of the Obama years. Overseas his insistence on the grand gesture has led the president to pretend that the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan means we’re no longer at war. This may be popular in the faculty lounge, but in the real world Islamic State beheads Americans, Afghanistan teeters on chaos and Iraqi cities such as Ramadi, liberated from al Qaeda in the original surge, now have to be re-liberated all over again from Islamic State.

At home the president’s Big Ideas (unintended consequences be damned) have seen millions of citizens losing the health-care plans the president promised them they could keep, a record number of Americans giving up on work, and an anemic growth rate of 2%.

The gimmick Mr. Obama has now chosen for his final State of the Union, meant to highlight his end run around the Second Amendment, is fully consistent with this past. But seven years in, an empty chair in the first lady’s box only reinforces images of an empty suit at the podium.

And one more thing, the one thing that got to me more than any other, and there were plenty of others. It was the moment I talked back to the TV, the galling moment when he lectured us all once again, and this time, once too often. Columnist Stephen Hayes had the exact same reaction I did, and expressed it on television in a panel roundup following the speech.

Hayes told Bret Baier he found it a little unbelievable that the president devoted a whole section of his speech to lamenting our broken politics and calling for civility.

Bingo. A jaw-dropper. He was lecturing us on civility.

He brought up a White House advisor comparing the GOP’s fight on the budget to “people with a bomb strapped to their chest,” Obama himself saying Iranian hardliners have “common cause” with the GOP, and the president saying Republican candidates are “doing the work of the terrorists.”

“And now this guy’s gonna lecture us about civility?!” Hayes bewilderedly cried. “The president––it’s not just that he misdiagnoses the problem, the fact that there is this incivility… it’s that he doesn’t understand he’s the cause of so much incivility in our politics!”

There it is. That was the moment when I said the same thing to the television. Our country is more fractured, splintered, divided, intolerant, angry, hostile and uncivil now than it was before he came into office, or so it seems. The president who has used his office in a very unpresidential way, beneath the dignity of the Office of the President, to target for criticism political ‘enemies’, a whole cable news network, particular reporters, the party opposing his party and politics, citizens who hold certain beliefs he opposes, his predecessor, police officers in certain locales, religious groups and others, now lecturing us on incivility in our country, was just too much.

The state of America is actually better than that, but it’s up to Americans to prove it now.

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Dec 14

It passed, it was a big deal, but far from a done deal.

It had barely happened, barely got attention, when the San Bernardino violence erupted the next day and dominated news and attention for days and still does.

What was the deal that went almost unnoticed? The U.S. Senate passed a bill that would, among other things, freeze federal funding to Planned Parenthood for a year.

The House passed similar legislation in September.

The House vote represents the first time that congressional Republicans have approved legislation to defund Planned Parenthood in the wake of this summer’s undercover video controversy. The vote is largely symbolic, as Democrats are expected to block the bill in the Senate.

Right. It was expected that such a measure would never pass the Senate. Thursday evening, it did.

“The Senate is right to recognize that taxpayer money should go to fund local community health centers, not to subsidize a scandal-ridden, billion-dollar abortion business. Americans shouldn’t be forced to give their money to Planned Parenthood, which has a long track record of abusive and potentially fraudulent billing practices, not to mention that it has also been caught in authenticated undercover videos trafficking aborted babies’ body parts and has repeatedly failed to report the sexual abuse of girls. That tax money should be redirected to trustworthy health care providers.”

Which is what the reconciliation bill the Senate passed intends to do.

“Tonight’s vote is a landmark victory for all who prioritize comprehensive women’s health care over abortion industry profits. We thank Senate Leadership for following through on their promise to advance this defunding provision to the President’s desk,” said Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser.

“The debate over the reconciliation process has continued the national conversation on Planned Parenthood and established an important precedent for the next administration,” continued Dannenfelser. “If Americans elect a pro-life president next year, and safeguard our pro-life majorities in Congress, this bill – and many others – could be law by 2017.”

That’s the sizable significance of this bill passing the Senate, to the pro-life movement.

Abortion advocates and complicit media and politicians tried to pitch it differently.

The bill is not expected to become law.

It now goes to the House of Representatives, where it is expected to pass. The House passed a similar version on Oct. 23, but must vote on it because the Senate made changes to adhere to budgetary rules.

The White House has already said that President Barack Obama will veto the legislation once it reached his desk, and Republicans do not have the two-thirds majority needed to override that veto.

However…

Two attempts to save funding for Planned Parenthood failed. One attempt was made by Senate Democrats and the other made by a group of moderate Senate Republicans.

It’s becoming increasingly well known that federally qualified health clinics proliferate across this country, serving women with comprehensive health care far better than Planned Parenthood. Shifting taxpayer funds to them would better serve women, better than Planned Parenthood ever did, even with so much money pouring into their coffers.

So what exactly are taxpayers getting for the $528 million they provide to Planned Parenthood each year? And more important, what could they get if that money were spent instead at the thousands of federally qualified health centers around the country that do provide a full range of services and diagnostic screenings, as well as birth control, pap smears, and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases?

In fact, women have the most to gain from a congressional decision to reallocate money away from Planned Parenthood and to community-based health centers that already serve their localities. The quality of women’s health care will be improved by shifting money to medical providers that focus on the health and well-being of the whole woman; the priority should not be funding an organization that treats women’s reproductive health in isolation.

Women’s access to health care will improve, as well. There are more than 13,000 qualified health centers providing a full range of health-care services to women, including 4,000 in under-served rural areas.

Take a look at the map on that site. Now that’s real choice.

For those who want to argue on behalf of Planned Parenthood, here’s more to discuss.

…Planned Parenthood can absorb the cut considering its relationship with private donors and its excess revenue, while on the other hand, community health centers have the capacity to acquire and serve new patients. Proposals in Congress to “defund” Planned Parenthood, therefore, merely reallocate women’s health expenditures to agencies that offer women a full menu of primary care.

After all

Government funding of various social welfare and public health programs is meant to advance the common good. But intentionally killing innocent human lives is never good; and that’s why the federal government has rightly insisted that no funding through the Department of Health and Human Services may be used for elective abortion. Unfortunately, Planned Parenthood receives government funding for other services it provides. This is morally bad public policy. Planned Parenthood and other providers of elective abortion should not be eligible for any government funding. No matter how beneficial the other services they provide may be to a community, their participation in the unjust ending of innocent human lives should prevent them from receiving any governmental funding.

The landmark vote in the Senate, together with the House bill, got little attention and continues to get none outside the pro-life media, though the presidential debates and campaigns going forward will thrust the issue back into the spotlight, which where it should be.

As SBA-List President Marjorie Dannenfelser said about the Senate vote following the House version, it should fortify voices in the national conversation over federally funded abortion, and the resolve of pro-life citizens feeling defeated for so long.

Live Action’s Lila Rose said as much.

“The voices of millions of Americans were heard: Taxpayers should not be forced to fund an organization that kills over 320,000 preborn children every year and hurts thousands of women and young girls.

“While President Obama may veto this bill, we’ve proven we have the pro-life votes to get a defunding bill through Congress and to the president’s desk. It is clear that there is now only one hurdle left, and that makes 2016 even more critical for pro-life Americans.

“I still hold out some hope that Mr. Obama may finally realize that whatever his views on abortion, it is indefensible to continue to force taxpayers to fund a corporation that has been complicit in covering up sex trafficking and the sexual abuse of minors, that lies to women about the complications of abortion procedures and how developed the babies are in their wombs, that has had hundreds of documented health and safety violations, and that has been caught on video promoting illegal race- and sex-selective abortions.”

There it is. The truth in one brief statement. With violence to innocent humans at an alarming level and frequency, every sane, intelligent, and especially powerful person should be searching for ways to protect and defend people, and build safe havens for their well-being. This provides the occasion for both.

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Sep 28

The network stood out for its sheer time spent on Papal events, and effusive coverage of the man in white.

Religion editor Daniel Burke’s How the Pope brought our messy multitude together illustrates. And brings the visit together, after all.

He introduced himself as a brother, a son of immigrants, a neighbor from beyond our southern border.

He wanted our politicians to remember the country’s founding principles, he said, and encourage them to protect our families and our earth from an uncertain future.

In a country where Christianity often comes wrapped in an American flag, he said that we are better when we work together, when we don’t set aside our differences but celebrate them — wherever we are from, whatever God we worship.

He wanted to meet us, finally, to look into our eyes and share our struggles.

Pope Francis did that everywhere he went. Unlike politicians, who work crowds with the handshakes, smiles and scanning glances over the landscape, the Pontiff took his time with people, made eye contact, saw the children and lit up, noticed the disabled first, stopped to oblige selfies and let people know he saw them, they were important, and he loved them.

And somehow, stayed on an amazing schedule, after three days in Cuba and two days of crisscrossing DC, from the halls of power to the shelter of the homeless.

From Washington, he flew to New York, where he hit the city’s cultural icons with the speed of a tourist on a tight budget and the stamina of a man 40 years younger.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Central Park. The United Nations. Madison Square Garden. Of them all, he seemed to have the most fun at a little school in Harlem.

(An exhausted journalist asked a papal aide about this boundless energy. It comes from outside, the aide admitted, from the people he meets and the God he worships.)

There are many links attached to each visit, many addresses and impromptu stops, large addresses and intimate expressions of love and support. They will continue to come out, for what they – and he – left us.

But this CNN piece pulls together some highlights that give a snapshot not only of a Papal visit that struck awe, but a global news network encounter left awestruck.

The families caring for sick children who needed a spiritual shot in the arm. The priests who wanted to see their humble Holy Father. The immigrants who hear echoes of their voice in his softly accented Spanish.

The Pope’s people.

After a summer of racial injustice and riots, a season of political scapegoating and talk of building walls, he came to build a bridge — to be a bridge.

And he was. For at least these six days, he brought our messy multitude together: singing, dancing, laughing, crying, hoping, praying.

What they may or may not realize, is that when they watched -were riveted on – Pope Francis, what they saw was the global Catholic Church.

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