Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The First Thanksgiving

The "First" Thanksgiving at Plymouth, MA, in 1621

Every gradeschool boy and girl in the U.S. will confidently tell you that their history books say that the very first Thanksgiving on American soil took place in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1621 when the English Pilgrims who had arrived the year before and the Patuxet Indians shared the food from their respective harvests in one great big happy feast.

As is often the case, however, the history books are wrong on this account.

The "First" Thanksgiving at Berkeley Plantation, VA, in 1619

In fact, every self-respecting Virginia lady or Virginia gentleman could tell you that the first ever "official" Thanksgiving on American soil took place in 1619 at Berkeley Plantation (a location which also lays claim to the perhaps-just-as-important distinction of being the site where Bourbon Whiskey was first distilled) along the James River in Tidewater Virginia. Witness:
The first Thanksgiving occurred when Captain John Woodlief led the newly-arrived English colonists to a grassy slope along the James River and instructed them to drop to their knees and pray in thanks for a safe arrival to the New World. It was December 4, 1619, and 38 men from Berkeley Parish in England vowed:
"Wee ordaine that the day of our ships arrivall at the place assigned for plantacon in the land of Virginia shall be yearly and perpetually keept holy as a day of Thanksgiving to Almighty God."
As is often the case, however, whenever citizens of the Old Dominion claim bragging rights over some matter or the other, the self-respecting ladies and gentlemen of Virginia are wrong on this account.

The REAL First Thanksgiving at St. Augustine, FL, in 1565

In fact, notwithstanding the White Anglo-Saxon Protestant Thanksgiving myth that has pervaded celebrations of the holiday throughout this Nation's history, this is yet another matter for which we Catholics get to claim bragging rights. The first ever Thanksgiving in what is now the United States took place over 50 years before Berkeley and Plymouth - in 1565 - in St. Augustine, Florida:
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Forget the turkey, the silly Pilgrim hats and the buckles.

Forget Plymouth Rock and 1621.

If you want to know about the real first Thanksgiving on American soil, travel 1,200 miles south and more than 50 years earlier to a grassy spot on the Matanzas River in North Florida.

This is where Spanish Adm. Pedro Menendez de Aviles came ashore on Sept. 8, 1565. This is where he, 500 soldiers, 200 sailors, 100 civilian families and artisans, and the Timucuan Indians who occupied the village of Seloy gathered at a makeshift altar and said the first Christian Mass. And afterward, this is where they held the first Thanksgiving feast.

The Timucuans brought oysters and giant clams. The Spaniards carried from their ships garbanzo beans, olive oil, bread, pork and wine.

Eric Johnson, director of the Mission of Nombre de Dios and Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche -- the site at which Menendez landed -- doesn't expect Americans to change their Thanksgiving traditions that are shaped around the Pilgrims' feast. But he, like other Florida historians, would like folks to recognize that the stories they learned in grade school -- the stories presented in textbooks today -- are wrong.

It all happened in this bucolic 300-acre Catholic mission and shrine that offers a quiet respite amid the frenetic tourist activity of St. Augustine, the oldest European settlement in the United States. A replica of the Rustic Altar sits next to the shore in the general area where archaeologists believe the Mass took place.

Michael Gannon, former director of the mission and University of Florida distinguished service emeritus professor of history, presented the celebration in his meticulously researched book, "The Cross in the Sand," in 1965 and has argued that this feast should be recognized as the first Thanksgiving.

"It is a part of history," Mr. Johnson said. "Our 450th anniversary of the founding will be held in 2015. Our hope is that between now and then people can learn more about the history of Florida and the establishment of St. Augustine."

Florida school teacher Robyn Gioia felt so strongly about this lack of recognition that she wrote a children's picture book, "America's REAL first Thanksgiving," in April 2007 that is helping to spread the word.

[Read more]
See also "Florida teacher chips away at Plymouth Rock Thanksgiving myth" and "Book: Thanksgiving began in St. Augustine".

But the story of the First Thanksgiving in America doesn't end there. There have been throughout American history a number of "first" Thanksgiving proclamations declaring a day of prayer and gratitude to Almighty God for His Divine Grace. The first of these proclamations seems to have been issued in the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1676:
The Holy God having by a long and Continual Series of his Afflictive dispensations in and by the present Warr with the Heathen Natives of this land, written and brought to pass bitter things against his own Covenant people in this wilderness, yet so that we evidently discern that in the midst of his judgements he hath remembered mercy, having remembered his Footstool in the day of his sore displeasure against us for our sins, with many singular Intimations of his Fatherly Compassion, and regard...

The Council has thought meet to appoint and set apart the 29th day of this instant June, as a day of Solemn Thanksgiving and praise to God for such his Goodness and Favour, many Particulars of which mercy might be Instanced, but we doubt not those who are sensible of God's Afflictions, have been as diligent to espy him returning to us; and that the Lord may behold us as a People offering Praise and thereby glorifying Him; the Council doth commend it to the Respective Ministers, Elders and people of this Jurisdiction; Solemnly and seriously to keep the same Beseeching that being perswaded by the mercies of God we may all, even this whole people offer up our bodies and soulds as a living and acceptable Service unto God by Jesus Christ.
In 1782, near the end of the American Revolution, the Continental Congress issued a Proclamation of Thanksgiving to God for His deliverance of the newly independant Nation from her enemies:
IT being the indispensable duty of all Nations, not only to offer up their supplications to ALMIGHTY GOD, the giver of all good, for his gracious assistance in a time of distress, but also in a solemn and public manner to give him praise for his goodness in general, and especially for great and signal interpositions of his providence in their behalf: Therefore the United States in Congress assembled, taking into their consideration the many instances of divine goodness to these States, in the course of the important conflict in which they have been so long engaged; the present happy and promising state of public affairs; and the events of the war, in the course of the year now drawing to a close; particularly the harmony of the public Councils, which is so necessary to the success of the public cause; the perfect union and good understanding which has hitherto subsisted between them and their Allies, notwithstanding the artful and unwearied attempts of the common enemy to divide them; the success of the arms of the United States, and those of their Allies, and the acknowledgment of their independence by another European power, whose friendship and commerce must be of great and lasting advantage to these States:----- Do hereby recommend to the inhabitants of these States in general, to observe, and request the several States to interpose their authority in appointing and commanding the observation of THURSDAY the twenty-eight day of NOVEMBER next, as a day of solemn THANKSGIVING to GOD for all his mercies: and they do further recommend to all ranks, to testify to their gratitude to GOD for his goodness, by a cheerful obedience of his laws, and by promoting, each in his station, and by his influence, the practice of true and undefiled religion, which is the great foundation of public prosperity and national happiness.

The first Thanksgiving Day proclamation in the newly established constitutional Republic, was delivered by His Excellency, President George Washington in 1789, following the precedent set by the Continental Congress in setting the date on the last Thursday in November:
By the President of the United States of America, a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor-- and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be-- That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks--for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation--for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war--for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed--for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted--for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions-- to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually--to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed--to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord--To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us--and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go: Washington

Finally, Thanksgiving Day became a permanent holiday in 1863, when President Lincoln issued the proclamation that set the precedent for its annual celebration:
By the President of the United States of America.

A Proclamation.

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.

By the President: Abraham Lincoln
Many claims, then, to being the "first" Thanksgiving. But less important than primacy is the fact that throughout her history our Nation has sought to give thanks to the Almighty for the blessings and graces that He has bestowed upon her.

Thanks be to God, and may He continue to bless the United States of America.

(Hat tip: CovenantNews.com)

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Monday, November 23, 2009

More Publicly Aired Dirty Laundry in the Bishop Tobin - Rep. Kennedy Saga

As he seeks to fan the flames of the public feud in which he is currently engaging with Providence Bishop Thomas Tobin, the late Swimmer's son, Congressman Patrick Kennedy, has decided to make public Bishop Tobin's 2007 request that the pro-abortion Kennedy refrain from taking Holy Communion.

Don McClarey and Dr. Ed Peters have details.

Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
Bishop Tobin to Rep. Patrick Kennedy: "Your Position [on Abortion] is Unacceptable to the Church and Scandalous ... Makes You Less of a Catholic

More from Archbishop Dolan on "Bishop Tobin and Representative Kennedy"

A Kennedy Spits at the Church, and His Bishop Responds Harshly [UPDATED]

For Kennedys, Poor Driving Runs in the Family

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Digest of Today's Posts (20 November 2009)

  • Christian Leaders Unite on Political Issues via “Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience”

  • St. Edmund of East Anglia, King and Martyr - 20 November

  • White House at Odds with Bishops Over Abortion Coverage in Reid "Health Care" Bill

  • (Digest of Yesterday's Posts (19 November 2009))


    Christian Leaders Unite on Political Issues via “Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience”

    (Hat tip: HotAir)

    From The New York Times:
    Citing the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s call to civil disobedience, 145 evangelical, Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christian leaders have signed a declaration saying they will not cooperate with laws that they say could be used to compel their institutions to participate in abortions, or to bless or in any way recognize same-sex couples.

    “We pledge to each other, and to our fellow believers, that no power on earth, be it cultural or political, will intimidate us into silence or acquiescence,” it says.

    The manifesto, to be released on Friday at the National Press Club in Washington, is an effort to rejuvenate the political alliance of conservative Catholics and evangelicals that dominated the religious debate during the administration of President George W. Bush. The signers include nine Roman Catholic archbishops and the primate of the Orthodox Church in America.

    They want to signal to the Obama administration and to Congress that they are still a formidable force that will not compromise on abortion, stem-cell research or gay marriage. They hope to influence current debates over health care reform, the same-sex marriage bill in Washington, D.C., and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.


    The document was written by Mr. Colson; Robert P. George, a professor of jurisprudence at Princeton University, who is Catholic; and the Rev. Timothy George, dean of Beeson Divinity School, an evangelical interdenominational school on the campus of Samford University, in Birmingham, Ala.

    They convened a meeting of Christian leaders in Manhattan in September to present the document and gather suggestions. The 4,700-word document is called the “
    Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience.”

    For more on the “Manhattan Declaration” and its signatories (which include, among others, Cardinals Rigali and Maida and Archbishops Dolan, Wuerl, Chaput, Naumann, Nienstedt, Myers, and Kurtz), go here.

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    St. Edmund of East Anglia, King and Martyr - 20 November [UPDATED]

    (Originally posted in November 2005)

    "I have vowed to live under Christ, to live under Christ alone, to reign under Christ alone". - St Edmund, King and Martyr

    Today, 20 November, is the feast day of the martyr St. Edmund, King of East Anglia. Many assume St. George is the patron saint of England. However, St. George is actually "Protector of the Realm of England" and patron saint of the English Crown. St. Edmund is the "real" patron saint of England. See also Joanna Bogle's excellent A Book of Feasts and Seasons where I first learned this particular piece of trivia.

    On our trip to England a few years ago, during which my family spent a week in East Anglia - where Sarah's Granny was born, we learned quite a bit about St. Edmund. He has become one of my favorite saints. Unfortunately, a planned trip to the saint's final resting place in the town of Bury St. Edmunds and St. Edmundsbury Cathedral did not happen due to the demands of travelling with 2 toddlers. Oh well, hopefully, we can get there on another visit to the U.K.

    The following details about the life of St. Edmund come from the Medieval Saints Yahoo Group:

    St. Edmund of East Anglia
    Also known as Edmund the Martyr

    Martyred by being beaten, whipped, shot with arrows and beheaded at Hoxne, Suffolk, England 20 November 870; buried at Hoxne; relics moved to Beodricsworth (modern Saint Edmundsbury) in the 10th century

    Commemorated November 20

    Patronage: kings, plague epidemics, torture victims, wolves

    In art, he is shown with an arrow; king tied to a tree and shot with arrows; wolf; bearded king with a sword and arrow; man with his severed head between the paws of a wolf; sword

    "The tree at which tradition declared Eadmund to have been slain stood in the park at Hoxne until 1849, when it fell. In the course of its breaking up an arrow-head was found embedded in the trunk. A clergyman who had a church which was dedicated to St. Eadmund begged a piece of the tree, and it now forms part of his communion-table. Another portion is in the possession of Lady Bateman of Oakley Hall" - Dictionary of National Biography. Ed. Leslie Stephen and Sidney Lee, 1908-1909

    Edmund the Martyr, King (RM)

    Born 841; died at Hoxne, Suffolk, England, in 869 or 870. Feast day formerly November 2.

    On Christmas Day 855, 14-year-old Edmund was acclaimed king of Norfolk by the ruling men and clergy of that county. The following year the leaders of Suffolk also made him their king.

    For 15 years Edmund ruled over the East Angles with what all acknowledged as Christian dignity and justice. He himself seems to have modelled his piety on that of King David in the Old Testament, becoming especially proficient in reciting the Psalms in public worship.

    From the year 866 his kingdom was increasingly threatened by Danish invasions. For four years the East Angles managed to keep a shaky, often broken peace with them. Then the invaders burned Thetford. King Edmund's army attacked the Danes but could not defeat the marauders. Edmund was taken prisoner and became the target for Danish bowmen.

    In a later account in the The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, reputedly derived second-hand from an eyewitness, Abbo compared Saint Edmund to Saint Sebastien, and so he also became a saint invoked against the plague. The story goes that Edmund was captured at Hoxne. He refused to share his Christian kingdom with the heathen invaders, whereupon he was tied to a tree and shot with arrows, till his body was 'like a thistle covered with prickles'; then his head was struck off. He died with the name of Jesus on his lips.

    The record continues that the Danes "killed the king and overcame all the land . . . they destroyed all the churches that they came to, and at the same time reaching Peterborough, killed the abbot and monks and burned and broke everything they found there."

    Saint Edmund thus remains the only English sovereign until the time of King Charles I to die for religious beliefs as well as the defense of his throne. Edmund was quickly revered as a martyr and his cultus spread widely during the middle ages (Attwater, Benedictines, Bentley, Hervey, Roeder).

    King Saint Edmund is generally depicted as a bearded king holding his emblem--an arrow. Sometimes he is shown suspended from a tree and shot, or his head between the paws of a wolf. He is sometimes confused with Saint Sebastien, who is never portrayed as a king (Roeder).

    He is venerated at Bury Saint Edmunds (Saint Edmund's borough), where his body is enshrined and a great abbey arose in 1020. Richard II invoked him as patron as to those threatened by the plague (Roeder).


    More on St. Edmund of East Anglia at:







    The Edmund Prayer
    Christ Jesus,
    with the life and martyrdom of St Edmund,
    King of East Anglia,
    you inspired generations of pilgrims
    in the way of love and hope.
    Enfold your Church in the mystery of your life,
    that we, in our own pilgrimage,
    may be apostles of your wounded and risen glory,
    who with the Father and the Spirit,
    are present eternally. Amen.

    More from Gerelyn Hollingsworth's blog at NCROnline:
    Today is the feast of St. Edmund, King of the East Angles, martyred by the Danes in 869. His feast is celebrated by the Orthodox Church, the Anglican Church, and the Roman Catholic Church.

    This icon illustrates various elements of St. Edmund's story. The Danes tied him to a tree and shot arrows at him until he "was all beset with their shots, as with a porcupine's bristles." They beheaded him and threw his head into the woods where a wolf guarded it until the King's followers came to retrieve it. In 1849 the tree that was believed to have been the site of Edmund's martyrdom fell down and was chopped up. An arrowhead was found at the heart of the tree.

    Coins were struck in memory of St. Edmund within 20 years of his death. "The St Edmunds memorial coinage, current in East Anglia during the Danish rule, is a unique indication of the extraordinary reputation of Edmund, already recognised as a Saint."

    His fame spread fast and far and echoes still. St. Edmund, King and Martyr: Changing Images of a Medieval Saint, edited by Anthony Bale, was published in August, 2009.
    Some interesting links provided.

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    White House at Odds with Bishops Over Abortion Coverage in Reid "Health Care" Bill

    (Hat tip: Tito at The American Catholic)

    Here we go again:
    WASHINGTON – The White House is on a collision course with Catholic bishops in an intractable dispute over abortion that could blow up the fragile political coalition behind President Barack Obama's health care overhaul.

    A top Obama administration official on Thursday praised the new Senate health care bill's attempt to find a compromise on abortion coverage — even as an official of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said Sen. Harry Reid's bill is the worst he's seen so far on the divisive issue.

    The bishops were instrumental in getting tough anti-abortion language adopted by the House, forcing Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to accept restrictions that outraged liberals as the price for passing the Democratic health care bill. Reid, D-Nev., now faces a similar choice: Ultimately, he will need the votes of Democratic senators who oppose abortion to get his bill through the Senate.

    So far, Reid has steered the Senate bill in a direction that abortion rights supporters can live with: allowing coverage for abortion in federally subsidized health care plans, provided that private funds are used to pay for the procedure. But abortion opponents say his compromise would gut current federal restrictions on abortion funding.


    Richard Doerflinger, associate director of the bishops' conference Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, said Reid's "is actually the worst bill we've seen so far on the life issues."

    He called it "completely unacceptable," adding that "to say this reflects current law is ridiculous."


    Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
    "Pro-Life" Harry Reid Strips Stupak Language from Senate ObamaCare Bill

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    Thursday, November 19, 2009

    Digest of Today's Posts (19 November 2009)

  • Sen. Inhofe Sticks Fork in Global Alarming Hysterics

  • "Pro-Life" Harry Reid Strips Stupak Language from Senate ObamaCare Bill

  • New Blog: Almost Chosen People

  • (Digest of Yesterday's Posts (18 November 2009))


    Sen. Inhofe Sticks Fork in Global Alarming Hysterics

    Once again, the intrepid Ed Morrissey reports:
    A moment of fun here for Senator James Inhofe, who declared victory over the global-warming hysterics this week in a speech covered by the Tulsa World. Inhofe got a few laughs from a nearly-empty room by telling Barbara Boxer that the failure of the dire predictions of disaster from last decade to come to pass showed that he had been right all along, and that they could now “stick a fork” in the effort to hobble American productivity through the restriction of carbon emissions:
    ... U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, perhaps Congress’ most vocal skeptic of man-made global warming, essentially declared victory Wednesday in a lengthy speech on the Senate floor.

    “I proudly declare 2009 as the ‘Year of the Skeptic,’ the year in which scientists who question the so-called global warming consensus are being heard,’’ the Oklahoma Republican said.


    Inhofe also recalled his most famous comment in which he suggested that man-made global warming would turn out to be “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people.”

    “Today, I have been vindicated,’’ he said.
    What has Inhofe feeling vindicated? He points to the collapse of the Copenhagen conference, which was widely expected to produce a Kyoto-style agreement among Western nations to commit economic seppuku by restricting energy production. However, Inhofe could just as easily point to an event closer to home — Harry Reid’s rescheduling of Boxer’s bill to the spring, where Democrats will undoubtedly run as fast as possible from it in an election year.

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    "Pro-Life" Harry Reid Strips Stupak Language from Senate ObamaCare Bill

    Ed Morrissey reports.

    One Vox Nova contributor reacts: "Harry Reid kills health care reform"

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    New Blog: Almost Chosen People

    And now for some news about a blog where the writers actually know something about which they write.

    I am happy to announce that my friends Don McClarey, Dale Price, and Paul Zummo will be collaborating on a blog effort covering a subject that is near and dear to my heart: American history up through the War Between the States.

    I'll let Don explain:
    Announcing a new blog, Almost Chosen People. It is a blog dedicated to American history up through Reconstruction. I am one of the contributors. A fair amount of my initial posts at this blog will be reposts of material first posted at The American Catholic, but they will be interspersed with new material. My fellow contributors, including Paul Zummo of the Cranky Conservative, and Dale Price of Dyspeptic Mutterings, will be providing posts that will be well worth reading, so please stop by.


    The phrase “almost chosen people” has always struck me as somewhat mysterious. What exactly did Lincoln mean by this phrase? Was this a reference to the secession crisis that threatened to overturn the good fortune that God had granted the US? Was Lincoln attempting to be humorous or ironic? Was Lincoln using the phrase ”almost” to indicate that America could be God’s chosen people depending upon the path followed? Lincoln was a precise speaker and writer, and he rarely used words carelessly, so I think the words had some important meaning to Lincoln, although I confess that to me what this meaning was is not at all clear. That makes the phrase for me an apt name for a blog exploring American history since while we are living in history our views of it must remain tentative. Only in the next world will the purposes of God be fully understood as His will has been worked out in sacred and profane history.
    Based on the list of contributors, it looks like Almost Chosen People is going to have a decidedly Yankee and anti-Jeffersonian flavor, but I don't want to pre-judge anything. Of one thing you can be assured: the writing will be informed, informative, and engaging.

    I say "Huzzah!" to this effort.

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    Wednesday, November 18, 2009

    Digest of Today's Posts (18 November 2009)

  • I'm Sure Sarah Palin is Just Crushed ... [UPDATED]

  • Epic Fail: Legal Hack Toobin Relies on Falsified Source for Abortion "History" in Article Against Stupak Amendment

  • A Matter of Perspective: "Most Livable" Cities?

  • (Digest of Yesterday's Posts (17 November 2009))


    I'm Sure Sarah Palin is Just Crushed ...

    ... that she has failed to receive the much-coveted Shea endorsement. The expert political pundit that pontificates at Catholic And Enjoying It has deemed Gov. Palin not qualified to be President of the United States. On what basis he makes that assessment, he doesn't really say (apart from typical anti-Palin boilerplate that doesn't match reality).

    But this turn of events is devastating, nonetheless. I mean, if Gov. Palin can't win the Shea vote, then ...

    ... well, from my politically uninformed and obviously "idea-bereft-Thing-that-Used-to-Be-Conservative" perspective, it proves she must be doing something right.

    The Cranky Conservative adds his thoughts regarding this epic non-endorsement.

    UPDATE #2 (19 November 2009)
    I guess I don't fit into Shea's definition of "normal" since I don't share his obviously expert assessment:
    ... what we normal people already know and acknowledge: that she's a woman with a tenuous relationship to honesty who isn't too bright and who is obviously not suited to be President.
    If only I could be "normal" like Shea.

    God help me.


    Epic Fail: Legal Hack Toobin Relies on Falsified Source for Abortion "History" in Article Against Stupak Amendment

    Ramesh reports:
    Jeffrey Toobin starts his New Yorker brief against the Stupak amendment with a quick sketch of the history of abortion. "Abortion," he begins, "is almost as old as childbirth. There has always been a need for some women to end their pregnancies." This claim is at best misleading. Joseph Dellapenna's comprehensive history of abortion goes to some trouble to show that before the nineteenth century, abortion was rare because the available methods were ineffective, dangerous, or both.

    Toobin continues, "In modern times, the law’s attitude toward that need has varied. In the United States, at the time the Constitution was adopted, abortions before 'quickening' were both legal and commonplace, often performed by midwives." This claim is false.


    How could Toobin have gone so far astray? I have a strong hunch. Toobin's argument tracks pretty closely with that of a legal brief submitted to the Supreme Court in 1989. That "historians' brief," submitted in the name of several hundred historians, was very influential. Ronald Dworkin and Laurence Tribe, for example, wrote books on abortion that relied on the brief for their historical sections. But the brief was a fraud: It falsified the sources on which it purported to rely, and it contradicted the published work of many of the signatories. (I wrote a chapter on the fraud in my book about abortion and related issues.)

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    A Matter of Perspective: "Most Livable" Cities?

    MSN has ranked what it considers the 10 most "livable" cities (taking affordability into account) in the U.S. Not surprisingly, at least not to me, Columbus, OH made the list. I love Columbus and would definitely consider it one of the most "livable" places in the country.

    However, I found it somewhat interesting that what makes Columbus most "livable" to MSN is one aspect of the Ohio city that I find least "livable":
    ... And it is surprisingly liberal, with a low number of people describing themselves as religious and a larger-than-average share of self-described gay households...
    (emphasis added)

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    Tuesday, November 17, 2009

    Digest of Today's Posts (17 November 2009)

  • Charlie Crist Caught Lying About Support for Porkulus: Exposed by Rolling Stone

  • Another Candidate for Don's "Know-Nothing" Series

  • Stupak Warns Democrats Not to Mess with Anti-Abortion Health Care Language

  • Politico Says Catholic Church Racist and Sexist

  • Obama's Favorite Union Goes Nuts Over Eagle Scout Project

  • Death Panel Preview? Influential Federal Task Force Recommends Against Routine Mammograms [UPDATED]
  • Labels:

    Charlie Crist Caught Lying About Support for Porkulus: Exposed by Rolling Stone

    Ed Morrissey reports:
    ... Dickinson posted the transcript of that question and answer yesterday at Rolling Stone:
    Rolling Stone: Just a final question: Had you been in the Senate, would you have voted with the other Republicans for the stimulus package?

    Crist: Absolutely.
    Why did Dickinson decide to post this? He objected to Crist’s “going wobbly” on Porkulus, but it goes beyond wobbliness. Crist attempted to tell CNN’s Wolf Blitzer that he never endorsed it at all:
    “I didn’t endorse it, I didn’t even have a vote on the darn thing.”
    That’s not wobbliness, it’s a flat-out lie, as Dickinson’s transcript makes clear. Crist was busy helping Obama promote the bill in Florida, after all, while it was still politically popular. Its failure has made it toxic to Crist, but rather than admit that he was wrong for backing it, he’d rather try to rewrite history instead. Dickinson just reminds us that Crist’s support for this was not nebulous at all, but absolute.
    (emphasis in original)

    My Comments:
    Can you say U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio?

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    Another Candidate for Don's "Know-Nothing" Series [UPDATED]

    [See below for update. It appears Congresswoman DeGette was misquoted by The Hill.]

    Pro-abort Congresswoman (and Chief-Deputy Whip) Diana DeGette:
    The Hill writes up an ABC interview:
    She also said that religiously-affiliated groups like the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which had pushed for the Stupak provision, should be shut out of the process.

    "Last I heard, we had separation of church and state in this country," she said. "I've got to say that I think the Catholic bishops and all of the other groups shouldn't have input."
    Hat tip: Opinionated Catholic, who has even more on the story.

    UPDATE (18 November)
    It seems The Hill misquoted Congresswoman DeGette.

    Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
    Politico Says Catholic Church Racist and Sexist

    The New Know-Nothings and the Reprise of a Major Award for "Outstanding" Achievements in Anti-Catholicism

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    Stupak Warns Democrats Not to Mess with Anti-Abortion Health Care Language

    Ed Morrissey reports:
    After the House adopted the Pelosi Plan for ObamaCare with the Stupak amendment barring any federal funds for abortion coverage, Democrats attempted to assuage pro-abortion advocates by committing to changing the language in conference committee. Even the White House got in on the act, with David Axelrod promising that Bart Stupak’s language would be “adjusted” before any bill came to the Oval Office. Today on Fox News, Stupak threatened to kill the bill entirely if Democrats “adjusted” his amendment — and took a shot at David Axelrod as well...

    [Read the whole thing]

    Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
    Because Blaming the Minority Opposition Party is Easier Than Owning Up to Having Aligned Yourself With a Party For Whom Abortion is a Sacrament

    A Big Pro Ecclesia Thank You ...

    Stupak Still Fighting Good Fight: Says He Has 40 Democrat Votes to Stop Health Care Reform Over Abortion Coverage; Says President Being Disingenuous

    House Democrats Block Vote to Cut Abortion From Health Care Bill

    Michael Sean Winters: "Deceitful Bogeyman" of the Catholic Left

    Catholic Bishops: All Current Health Care Bills in Congress Would Permit Federal Funding of Abortion

    Catholic Senators are Decisive Factor in Defeating Abortion Funding Ban and Conscience Protection in Health Care Bill

    Can Stupak Be Counted Upon to Stand Firm on Abortion? Probably Not

    Congressman Bart Stupak, Democrat, Defending the Right to Life in Heath Care

    Pro-Life Catholic Dem: "We Believe We Have the Votes" to Shut Down Healthcare Over Abortion

    Obama Won't Meet With Pro-Life Democrat to Discuss Abortion, Health Care

    Pro-Life Catholic Dem: Prevent Abortion Funding, Or I'll Block Healthcare

    House Democrats Will Likely Prevent Vote to Remove Abortion From Health Care

    Deal Hudson: "Why Catholics Will Not Get Abortion Out of the Health Care Bill" [UPDATED]

    LA Times: Next Hurdle in Healthcare "Debate" is Abortion

    Congressman Smith Warns Against Phony ‘Compromise’ on Abortion Mandates in ObamaCare

    Dem Says Language Expressly Prohibiting Abortion Funding a Must in Health Care Bill [UPDATED]

    Pelosi Accused of Muzzling Opposition to Taxpayer-Funded D.C. Abortions

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    Politico Says Catholic Church Racist and Sexist

    Writing at Creative Minority Report, Matthew Archbold highlights an opinion piece at Politico that seems a prime candidate for Don McClarey's new series on "Know-Nothingism":
    I present to you as a gift the most ridiculous and just laughably bad attempt to slime the Catholic Church by The Politico in weeks.

    But this attack on the Church is just so poorly done that I literally laughed out loud on reading it. You've got to check it out.

    [Read the whole thing]

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    Obama's Favorite Union Goes Nuts Over Eagle Scout Project

    Union thug threatens action against Eagle Scout for volunteer project:
    In pursuit of an Eagle Scout badge, Kevin Anderson [no relation], 17, has toiled for more than 200 hours hours over several weeks to clear a walking path in an east Allentown park.

    Little did the do-gooder know that his altruistic act would put him in the cross hairs of the city's largest municipal union.

    Nick Balzano, president of the local Service Employees International Union, told Allentown City Council Tuesday that the union is considering filing a grievance against the city for allowing Anderson to clear a 1,000-foot walking and biking path at Kimmets Lock Park.

    "We'll be looking into the Cub Scout or Boy Scout who did the trails," Balzano told the council.

    Balzano said Saturday he isn't targeting Boy Scouts. But given the city's decision in July to lay off 39 SEIU members, Balzano said "there's to be no volunteers." No one except union members may pick up a hoe or shovel, plant a flower or clear a walking path.

    "We would hope that the well-intentioned efforts of an Eagle Scout candidate would not be challenged by the union," said Mayor Ed Pawlowski in an e-mail Friday. "This young man is performing a great service to the community. His efforts should be recognized as such."

    (emphasis added)

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    Death Panel Preview? Influential Federal Task Force Recommends Against Routine Mammograms [UPDATED]

    Sound medicine with a basis in health-related concerns, or cost rationing?
    Women in their 40s should stop routinely having annual mammograms and older women should cut back to one scheduled exam every other year, an influential federal task force has concluded, challenging the use of one of the most common medical tests.

    In its first reevaluation of breast cancer screening since 2002, the independent government-appointed panel recommended the changes, citing evidence that the potential harm to women having annual exams beginning at age 40 outweighs the benefit.

    Coming amid a highly charged national debate over health-care reform and simmering suspicions about the possibility of rationing medical services, the recommendations immediately became enveloped in controversy.


    But the American Cancer Society, the American College of Radiology and other experts condemned the change, saying the benefits of routine mammography have been clearly demonstrated and play a key role in reducing the number of mastectomies and the death toll from one of the most common cancers.

    "Tens of thousands of lives are being saved by mammography screening, and these idiots want to do away with it," said Daniel B. Kopans, a radiology professor at Harvard Medical School. "It's crazy -- unethical, really."


    Some questioned whether the new guidelines were designed more to control spending than to improve health. In addition to prompting fewer doctors to recommend mammograms to their patients, they worried that the move would prompt insurers to deny coverage for many mammograms.

    The new recommendations took on added significance because under health-care reform legislation pending in Congress, the conclusions of the 16-member task force would set standards for what preventive services insurance plans would be required to cover at little or no cost.

    (emphasis added)

    Ed Morrissey points out that this latest recommendation is a reversal from just 6 months ago, and posits a reason for the change:
    What a difference six months — and a health-care overhaul proposal — can make! Just six months ago, the U.S Preventive Services Task Force, which works within the Department of Health and Human Services as a “best practice” panel on prevention, sounded a warning signal over a slight decline in annual mammograms among women in their 40s. In fact, they warned women of this age bracket that they could be risking their lives if they didn’t get the annual preventive exam ...


    What changed in six months to change the USPSTF from a sky-is-falling hysteric on a 1% decline in testing to Emily Litella? If the administration gets its way, the government will be paying for a lot more of these exams when ObamaCare passes. That will put a serious strain on resources, especially since many of the providers will look to avoid dealing with government-managed care and its poor compensation rates.

    The motivation for HHS will be to cut costs, not to save lives. The sudden reversal in six months of the USPSTF, especially after it made such a stink over a relatively minor decline in screening, certainly makes it appear that they have other priorities than life-saving in mind here.

    One final thought. Barack Obama predicated his ObamaCare vision on the notion that increased prevention would save costs. Suddenly, his administration is for decreased screening and prevention. Could that have anything to do with the CBO scoring on screening? And what does that say about how government will make decisions once they control the compensation and care in the US?

    UPDATE #2 (18 November)
    Dr. Denise Hunnell (aka Catholic Mom) disagrees that the change in recommenations was politically motivated - "New mammogram recommendations are actually a victory of science over politics":
    ... It would be a mistake to lump this analysis in with the Obamacare rationing arguments. The lack of efficacy in breast self-exams and the questionable benefit of mammograms for women in their forties is not new information. This has been known for at least a decade. Ten years ago I got dirty looks at a coffee klatch when a woman was lamenting the death of one of our neighbors from breast cancer and exhorting us to make sure we were doing our breast exams. I probably should have kept my mouth shut, but the scientist in me had to mention that the evidence did not back up the efficacy of regular breast self-exams.

    It is important to understand that the new mammogram recommendations pertain to women who have no increased risk factors like a family history or known genetic mutations. The USPSTF now says that women should not begin mammogram testing until age 50. Women in their forties face a higher risk from the testing than they do from breast cancer. Most screening tests are going to be negative. A significant number of the positive tests are false positives. A positive test requires follow-up testing. This follow up testing is much more invasive than the screening test and has risks. Biopsies are surgical procedures. Surgery is never risk free.

    Understand as well that the previous recommendations were not based on science. They were the result of medical politics...

    [Read the whole thing]
    Knowing her strong views against health-care rationing, I am inclined to find Dr. Hunnell's analysis of this issue persuasive.

    Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
    Palin Upstages President Again on Death Panels: "Obama and the Bureaucratization of Health Care" [UPDATED]

    More Evidence that Palin Right on "Death Panels"

    At the Head of the Table: Churchill, Kennedy, & Palin

    Obama's Health Rationer-in-Chief: Hippocratic Oath Responsible for "Too Much" Medical Care

    Andy McCarthy and Mark Stein Slap the Handwringing Girly Boys in Charge Over at National Review: Palin Was Right On the "Death Panels" [UPDATED]

    Sarah Palin Right About Obama "Death Panels"

    Health-Care Rationing Violates Catholic Teaching


    Friday, November 13, 2009

    The New Know-Nothings and the Reprise of a Major Award for "Outstanding" Achievements in Anti-Catholicism

    My friend, Don McClarey - the unofficial court historian for The American Catholic - has unveiled a new series on on modern-day anti-Catholic know-nothingism.

    After giving a brief history on the rise of know-nothingism during the 19th century, Don notes that this particular form of bigotry seems to raise its ugly head even in today's times, and he intends to point such instances out when they do occur:
    Unfortunately, some current politicians are attempting to follow in the footsteps of the Know-Nothings. As part of a new series on this blog I will designate Catholic bashing politicians who have earned, by their bigotry against the Church, the designation Know-Nothing.
    At one time, this blog had a similar ongoing effort - the Rosie Award®. Unfortunately, I have not been as diligent in my efforts of presenting this award to so many well-deserving anti-Catholic bigots as I would have liked to have been.

    For the time being, I will take the easy way out and present the award to any person that Don deems worthy enough to highlight as a "Know-Nothing" over at The American Catholic. So, here we go. Don makes the case for this week's recipient:
    First up is Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, (D-Ca), a pro-abortion fanatic, who vented her anger at the Stupak Amendment, which banned all funds for abortion in the ObamaCare bill that passed the House, by writing this screed in Politico:
    I expect political hardball on any legislation as important as the health care bill.

    I just didn’t expect it from the United States Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

    Who elected them to Congress?

    The role the bishops played in the pushing the Stupak amendment, which unfairly restricts access for low-income women to insurance coverage for abortions, was more than mere advocacy.

    They seemed to dictate the finer points of the amendment, and managed to bully members of Congress to vote for added restrictions on a perfectly legal surgical procedure.

    And this political effort was subsidized by taxpayers, since the Council enjoys tax-exempt status.

    When I visit churches in my district, we are very careful to keep everything “non-political” to protect their tax-exempt status.

    The IRS is less restrictive about church involvement in efforts to influence legislation than it is about involvement in campaigns and elections.

    Given the political behavior of USCCB in this case, maybe it shouldn’t be.
    In other words Catholic Bishops, shut up on abortion or something “unfortunate” might happen to your tax exemption...
    Read the rest of Don's post. He sums it all up very nicely.

    For all you do, Congresswoman Woolsey, this Rosie's® for you.

    "Aarrrrgh! I hates Catholics!"

    Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
    This Week's Rosie Award® Winner: the Entire Cast of "The View"

    This Week's Rosie Award Winner: A Difficult Choice

    This Week's Rosie Award Winner: Rosie O'Donnell

    This Week's Rosie Award Winner: Catholic Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives

    Belated Rosie Award Winner for Last Week: Sen. Patrick Leahy

    This Week's Rosie Award Winner: "Comedian" Billy Crystal

    This Week's Rosie Award Winner: Federal District Judge Marilyn Patel

    Announcing a New Major Award ...

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    Wednesday, November 11, 2009

    In Honor of Those Who Served: "In Flanders Fields"

    In Flanders Fields
    Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
    Canadian Army

    IN FLANDERS FIELDS the poppies blow
    Between the crosses row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
    Scarce heard amid the guns below.

    We are the Dead.
    Short days ago
    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie
    In Flanders fields.

    Take up our quarrel with the foe:
    To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
    In Flanders fields.

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    Tuesday, November 10, 2009

    Digest of Today's Posts (10 November 2009)

  • Bishop Tobin to Rep. Patrick Kennedy: "Your Position [on Abortion] is Unacceptable to the Church and Scandalous ... Makes You Less of a Catholic"

  • Because Blaming the Minority Opposition Party is Easier Than Owning Up to Having Aligned Yourself With a Party For Whom Abortion is a Sacrament

  • Music Review: Sting's If On a Winter's Night
  • Labels:

    Bishop Tobin to Rep. Patrick Kennedy: "Your Position [on Abortion] is Unacceptable to the Church and Scandalous ... Makes You Less of a Catholic"

    At The American Catholic, my friend Don McClarey posts the text of a letter from Bishop Tobin of Providence, R.I., to Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy:
    Dear Congressman Kennedy:

    “The fact that I disagree with the hierarchy on some issues does not make me any less of a Catholic.” (Congressman Patrick Kennedy)


    “The fact that I disagree with the hierarchy on some issues does not make me any less of a Catholic.” Well, in fact, Congressman, in a way it does. Although I wouldn’t choose those particular words, when someone rejects the teachings of the Church, especially on a grave matter, a life-and-death issue like abortion, it certainly does diminish their ecclesial communion, their unity with the Church. This principle is based on the Sacred Scripture and Tradition of the Church and is made more explicit in recent documents.


    There’s lots of canonical and theological verbiage there, Congressman, but what it means is that if you don’t accept the teachings of the Church your communion with the Church is flawed, or in your own words, makes you “less of a Catholic.”


    In your letter you say that you “embrace your faith.” Terrific. But if you don’t fulfill the basic requirements of membership, what is it exactly that makes you a Catholic? Your baptism as an infant? Your family ties? Your cultural heritage?

    Your letter also says that your faith “acknowledges the existence of an imperfect humanity.” Absolutely true. But in confronting your rejection of the Church’s teaching, we’re not dealing just with “an imperfect humanity” – as we do when we wrestle with sins such as anger, pride, greed, impurity or dishonesty. We all struggle with those things, and often fail.

    Your rejection of the Church’s teaching on abortion falls into a different category – it’s a deliberate and obstinate act of the will; a conscious decision that you’ve re-affirmed on many occasions. Sorry, you can’t chalk it up to an “imperfect humanity.” Your position is unacceptable to the Church and scandalous to many of our members. It absolutely diminishes your communion with the Church.

    [Read the whole thing]
    (emphasis added)

    Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
    More from Archbishop Dolan on "Bishop Tobin and Representative Kennedy"

    A Kennedy Spits at the Church, and His Bishop Responds Harshly [UPDATED]

    For Kennedys, Poor Driving Runs in the Family

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    Because Blaming the Minority Opposition Party is Easier Than Owning Up to Having Aligned Yourself With a Party For Whom Abortion is a Sacrament

    Our old friend Tony A (a.k.a. Morning's Minion) just can't help himself when it comes to waving the partisan flag. It seems he wants to pretend that the Republicans are the biggest roadblock to ensuring that the pro-life Stupak Amendment is part of whatever final health care reform package might come out of a House-Senate conference:
    ... So, where do we go from here? I think the pro-choice groups were in shock after Sunday’s vote, but they are rapidly regrouping. This is not over. There is, however, one way that a bill like this that includes the Stupak amendment can pass – if enough principled Republicans step up to support it. Can it be that Joseph Cao is the only principled Republican on this issue? The pro-life Democrats have proved their mettle. They stood up on principle and faced down the House leadership. Now it is the Republicans’ turn. Can at least some of them stand up for universal healthcare that excludes all abortion funding? Can they not follow the lead of the USCCB? Or will they stick to their meaningless and wholly inaccurate slogans like “socialized” medicine and the “government takeover” of healthcare? ...
    (emphasis added)

    Huh? It was pro-life House Republicans who joined with the pro-life Democrats to ensure passage of the Stupak Amendment in the first place. And they voted for the pro-life language despite the fact that its inclusion made passage of a bill they opposed more likely. They, along with the pro-life House Democrats, have more than proven their pro-life bona fides.

    So, no, it is NOT the minority "Republicans' turn" to step up and prove anything. The ball is squarely in the court of Tony's own party, which has a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate and a significant majority in the House. They now have a pro-life health care bill with which to work. The main objection to the bill from pro-lifers and from the Catholic Bishops has now been removed. Now what will THEY do with it? Will they retain the pro-life language and thus preserve the smoothest route to passage of a health care reform bill? Or will they strip the language out to appease Moloch? If they're serious about getting a health care bill, they'll opt for the former.

    There is now absolutely nothing stopping such a bill from moving to passage ... except, that is, for the Democrats' own bloodlust for abortion. You see, it seems that there are a significant number of Congressional Democrats who would rather see health care reform fail altogether than have health care reform that doesn't fund abortion.

    Ah, but it's the insignificant minority party who stands in the way of meaningful pro-life health care reform getting done. Yeah, that's the ticket.

    Next, Tony does his best Kmiec impersonation and tries to pass President Obama off as some sort of stealth pro-lifer:
    And what about Obama? I think Obama should encourage all to maintain the Stupak amendment. After all, it fits with what he has said previously, and this has drawn the ire of the pro-choice groups:
    In 1993, Hillary Clinton explicitly told Congress that she expected pregnancy and abortion to be treated in health reform like any other medical service. This year, though, Obama sent a different message, telling Katie Couric in July, “I think we also have a tradition of, in this town, historically, of not financing abortions as part of government-funded health care”.
    Oh, but isn’t he supposed to be the most pro-abortion president ever….or is that yet again an example of sloganeering over substance?
    "Sloganeering over substance"? This from the guy who just a little later makes this comment about Thomas Peters of American Papist:
    Peters cannot be taken seriously. His “American Principles Project” is an ugly neocon Palinist outfit.
    Tony, ever the man of substance, would never dream of resorting to cheap, shorthand sloganeering that merely amounts to "those other guys over there are bad because they're not part of my tribe".

    But let's get back to Tony's assertion that the President is stealthily supporting Stupak's efforts. Uh, uh, uh. Not so fast, Tony. In an interview yesterday with ABC, the President indicated that Stupak might have to be scaled back in order to provide more "balance":
    TAPPER: Here's a question a lot of Senate Democrats want to know. You said, when you gave your joint address to Congress, that under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions. This amendment passed Saturday night which not only prohibits abortion coverage in the public option, but also prohibits women who receive subsidies from taking out plans that -- that provide abortion coverage. Does that meet the promise that you set out or does it over reach, does it go too far?

    OBAMA: You know, I laid out a very simple principle, which is this is a health care bill, not an abortion bill. And we're not looking to change what is the principle that has been in place for a very long time, which is federal dollars are not used to subsidize abortions.

    And I want to make sure that the provision that emerges meets that test -- that we are not in some way sneaking in funding for abortions, but, on the other hand, that we're not restricting women's insurance choices, because one of the pledges I made in that same speech was to say that if you're happy and satisfied with the insurance that you have, that it's not going to change.

    So, you know, this is going to be a complex set of negotiations. I'm confident that we can actually arrive at this place where neither side feels that it's being betrayed. But it's going to take some time.

    TAPPER: Do you think that amendment is status quo or does it lean a little bit in one direction or the other?

    OBAMA: I think that there are strong feelings on both sides. And what that tells me is that there needs to be some more work before we get to the point where we're not changing the status quo. And that's the goal. The goal here is to make sure that people who have health insurance have greater stability and security, people who don't have health insurance get the ability to buy it affordably and that we're driving down costs. And, you know, I think everybody understands that there's going to be work to be done on the Senate side. It's not going to match up perfectly with the House side...
    (emphasis added)

    Looks like the Stupak language is in big trouble with the members of Tony's party. So, then, let's get back to Tony's question: What ARE the next steps? Well, the first step is to stop bashing the insignificant minority in opposition and start holding your own party's feet to the fire. For example, what is the price you're willing to make the Democrats pay if they successfully strip Stupak out of the final health care reform package? Not that I actually believed that he would follow through, but Michael Sean Winters had the right idea a few months back when he threatened:
    ... if the President or my representatives in Congress support federal funding for abortion in any way, shape or form, I will never vote for them again and I might risk my right hand in the next election by voting for their opponent ...
    Yeah, I'll believe that when I see it. But Winters is on the right track. So, I ask again: Is there going to be a price to be paid by Democrats among their Catholic and pro-life supporters if they successfully strip pro-life language - language that is already currently in the House version of the bill - if they strip that language out to appease the abortion advocates in their party base?

    And what of the Catholics in Congress who might vote to strip out the Stupak language? It's one thing to claim to be personally opposed, but ... ; it's quite another thing to vote to remove pro-life language from a bill for the purpose of allowing federal funds - taxpayer dollars - to pay for abortions. At that point, those Catholic politicians will have crossed the line into formal cooperation with an intrinsic evil.

    And above and beyond how the "progressive" lay Catholic will react to such a move, how will the Bishops respond to Catholic politicians who vote to strip from the bill the same pro-life language for which the Bishops have so strenuously lobbied? Regardless of how the Bishops respond, it is clear that there are some members of Tony's party who are issuing threats and looking to legally punish the Bishops for their "bullying" tactics and "political interference" in the debate thus far.

    In Tony's defense, if these were the people with whom I had politically aligned myself, I suppose I'd be trying to change the subject, too, by continually hammering away at the out-of-power, out-of-favor, and out-of-ideas minority party.

    Previous Pro Ecclesia posts on this subject:
    A Big Pro Ecclesia Thank You ...

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    Music Review: Sting's If On a Winter's Night

    Buy this.

    Unless, that is, you're looking for a Christmas recording with clappy happy Jingle Bells, Deck the Halls, and other songs of merry-making. This CD is just the opposite. Spare. Introspective. Contemplative. Quiet. Almost melancholy. Probably more fitting for Advent in both mood and song selection.

    Highlights include:

  • A jazzy yet medieval feeling version of "Gabriel's Message" (originally recorded by Sting in a more synthesized version for the 1987 album A Very Special Christmas);

  • "Soul Cake"; and

  • my favorite "Ther is No Rose of Such Virtue" - the alleluias on that one are magnificent.

  • I haven't stopped listening since it came in the mail the other day.

    Song List:
    1. Gabriel's Message 2:33
    2. Soul Cake 3:27
    3. There Is No Rose Of Such Virtue 4:03
    4. The Snow It Melts The Soonest 3:43
    5. Christmas At Sea 4:37
    6. Lo How A Rose E'er Blooming 2:41
    7. Cold Song 3:16
    8. The Burning Babe 2:42
    9. Now Winter Comes Slowly 3:05
    10. The Hounds Of Winter 5:49
    11. Balulalow 3:10
    12. Cherry Tree Carol 3:11
    13. Lullaby For An Anxious Child 2:50
    14. Hurdy Gurdy Man 2:49
    15. You Only Cross My Mind In Winter 2:35

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    Monday, November 09, 2009

    A Big Pro Ecclesia Thank You ...

    ... to Congressman Stupak, Congressman Boehner, and the pro-life Democrats and pro-life Republicans who worked together to pass the Stupak amendment to the Pelosi health care bill, providing a pro-life show of strength and handing the pro-aborts a significant defeat.

    Now hold the leadership's feet to the fire and make sure this important pro-life measure is not stripped from whatever health care bill passes a House-Senate conference committee.

    The pro-abort deatheaters certainly don't plan on giving up without a fight.

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    Friday, November 06, 2009

    Cranky Con: "Ignore That Conservative Behind the Curtain"

    The Cranky Conservative skewers The Washington Post's post-election hypocrisy:
    The Washington Post before the election: Bob McDonnell is a scary, extremist conservative who wants to chain women to the house and give all of your money to the rich.

    The Washington Post after the election: Yeah, that guy’s just a moderate. Just ignore all that stuff we said before.


    Errr, so McDonnell and the House Republicans have promised to cut taxes, cut off funding to Planned Parenthood, expand the death penalty, and authorize offshore drilling . . . and this is centrism? As Drew M. over at Ace says, “If a lower tax, anti-Planned Parenthood and drilling for oil agenda means you are moving to the center, Ich bein ein moderate!”

    [Read the whole thing]
    (emphasis added)

    My Comments:
    The left and their media sycophants NEED this "GOP won as moderates" meme to be seen as true for two reasons:

    (1) It's the only way they can spin Tuesday's election results as a loss for the so-called "Sarah Palin wing" of the Republican Party; and

    (2) It allows them to come back later and accuse McDonnell et al of having broken a non-existent campaign promise to govern from the center whenever they do something remotely conservative.

    But Paul is absolutely right that this meme also allows the Dems to stick their heads in the sand and ignore the real issues that could lead to their having significant losses in next year's mid-term elections.

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