AveWatch has a post on new developments in the Ave Maria University basketball coach story. The Naples News is reporting accusations that AMU coach Benitez lied on his resume when he was first hired, that he lied to recruits, and that he mistreated players. The whole story is quite bizarre. If the accusations are true, it sounds like Benitez is a real nut and that there were plenty of reasons to fire him. The question then becomes, how did an alleged crazy liar get hired in the first place? Who at Ave Maria University hired him and why?
UPDATE: What is interesting is the Naples News article from March 2008 when Benitez was hired. At the time, the News reported:
Benitez brings a wealth of coaching experience from across the globe. The 42-year-old has coached in 11 different leagues and organizations, including the CBA, USBL, ABA, World Basketball League and professional leagues in Venezuela and Mexico. ......... Benitez, who will move to Ave Maria with his wife and three children, played basketball and baseball at King High School in Tampa and spent three years in the Army. Benitez played professional baseball and basketball in his native Puerto Rico.
He spent last season as an NBA scout for longtime pro basketball guru Marty Blake.
Now the Naples News is saying that this entire resume is apparently exaggerated or false. Also interesting is AMU's praise of Benitez back in March:
Athletic director Brian Scanlan said mutual friends in Fort Myers recommended Benitez to help establish the Gyrenes' program.
"There's no one else I have spoken with that has had as much head coaching experience and that has the winning percentage he has," Scanlan said. "I believe he's a very strong man of faith, which will fit in well at Ave Maria."
I don't think Scanlan would repeat this is you asked him about Benitez today.
I am pleased that we are considering empowering "bail-out" legislation in the house these days in order to give large pots of available cash to buy up bad paper that prevents investment and spending and clogs up our economy.
I'm writing to bring to your attention a similar situation that is clogging up my local economy, and as we both know, such problems ripple out into the national economy and even further into international markets.
I don't want to cast blame anywhere, but it seems that the major source of problem is some three-year's worth of commercial paper that was leveraged against an erstwhile gamble in an upper-midwest enterprise that was later off-shored, despite vehement objections by all relevant stakeholders, to a movable facility yet to be determined in a more NAFTA-friendly environment and service quarter. The paper obligations are nearly worthless and the underlying investment is now shot, yet the ongoing cash flow is unproductive and hinders a great amount of immediate short-term investing I could be doing in lieu of these obligations.
I request a paltry $5 million set-aside, $2 available immediately, and $3 for future emergency. I want the set-aside to be protected from judicial review, and I want to have plenary discretion in how it will be spent. I intend to clear out this paper clogging my local economy and thereby solve a great crisis affecting our future.
As you can see, you must act yesterday in order to save our economy, or, I promise, it will be terrible, bad, and the international markets will fail unless you give me my cashola now.
Aren't the military trained to defend the State from enemies abroad? Isn't the job of the police to serve and protect the people? Isn't that why we always separate the military from the police force? The military should never be used as police because they tend to think of the people as the enemy of the State and act accordingly.
So what is going to happen in October that will require our Troops to be "touring" the homeland?
The proposed Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) would remove all limits on abortion and increase government funding. Obama has pledged that his first act as President would be to sign FOCA into law. Ave Maria Law alumnus Matt Bowman has an article estimating that passing FOCA would increase abortions by approximately 125,000 in the United States per year. So it's good to see the US Conference of Catholic Bishops speaking out against FOCA. Check out this letter by Cardinal Rigali of the USCCB addressed to members of Congress, urging them to oppose FOCA. The letter has a powerful ending:
However, there is one thing absolutely everyone should be able to agree on: We can't reduce abortions by promoting abortion. We cannot reduce abortions by invalidating the very laws that have been shown to reduce abortions. We cannot reduce abortions by insisting that every program supporting women in childbirth and child care must also support abortion. No one who sponsors or supports legislation like FOCA can credibly claim to be part of a good-faith discussion on how to reduce abortions.
TOMATO FIELDS FL. "It's beautiful! I will look at it again and again," said Hugh Lem Ming as he read a prepared response from notes in his palm, "I love how the eyes follow you as you move around and you can see the cameras mounted in them zoom right on you."
Residents of His Majesty Tom's (HMT's) Town, a.k.a. Hail Mary Town, today gathered for a small catered picnic on the south lawn of the town center to celebrate the commissioning of a new image of HMT, the "Founder" as Christ in majesty saving the town from themselves.
It was difficult to find anyone who didn't love the idea of an image of the Founder in their new church, and the camera surveillance didn't seem to bother anyone. "I can't wait until they install the lightening bolt generator that can zap people," said Mr. Ming continuing to read from his card.
2. Application or threat of powerful non-physical punishments. Commonly, one witnesses the manipulation techniques of humiliation, loss of status or privilege, professional or social isolation, abrupt professional or social status changes, the induction of doubt, fear, anxiety, guilt and/or shame. Whether used or threatened – directly or by implication – these techniques can create intense negative emotional reactions.
This technique is usually discovered with a manipulating ‘leverage’ being maximized through alternating harshness and leniency. In special cases, lavish rewards may be used. In most instances the threat-reward system is limited to acceptance-approval, acknowledgment, admiration and/or other ‘low overhead’ means. The associated tactics are often to be found in calculated feasts or famines, as needed to achieve the ‘conversion.’
3. Social or professional isolation. Various means are employed to limit or stop an individual’s contact with colleagues, peers, family, friends or associates. That isolation serves as a punishment for those who do not share the "approved" thoughts, beliefs, attitudes or ideology. In the ‘reward cycle,’ financial devices, social and professional status and other ‘levers’ are utilized to create a dependence on the "new group."
5. Intense and frequent efforts to undermine self-confidence and judgment; creation of a sense of helplessness and/or powerlessness. Any criticism or complaints will usually result in the controlling entity demonstrating to the targeted individual, that he or she is possessed of a major flaw, as opposed to any flaw within the group or the particular propaganda/ideology being pandered. The targeted individual is passionately induced to believe that the ‘system’ knows what’s best and should always be assumed to be correct; the targeted individual is "guilt-tripped" into believing that they are wrong. The targeted individual is pressured into abandoning previous convictions, in favor of assuming that only the ‘system’ can be the true authority for judgments and decisions. The underlying assumption – often quite false – is that the ‘system’ can be trusted.
6. Manipulation of information and language. Any input which results in a mental-emotional conflict, any upsetting, or non-supporting information is blocked, denied, censored, reinterpreted or its access is prohibited whenever possible; particularly as it relates to group communication and indoctrination. Any controversial issues are typically poisoned via direct deception or the clever blockage of pertinent facts, the mixing of truth and lies. A confidence game strategy also may be utilized to manipulate any adverse information or inhibit the discovery of any presented falsehoods.
There will often be rules concerning permissible topics for discussion with ‘outsiders.’ Typically, communication is strictly controlled. In cult scenarios, a "group language" is often found. Those "into" the group are identified by their speech patterns. Those who remember the "valley-speak" of California ["for sure; for sure"] can readily recognize this trait.
To reinforce the preferred belief system, commonly used words are often substituted or redefined; possibly, new words are created; "proactive" is one such case. The ‘approved language’ is often loaded, creating a value-perspective in the ‘we-against-they’ scenario; often dividing the world into "the good, informed, aware and wonderful US," versus "the ignorant, bad, evil, and unenlightened THEM."
7. Application or presence of psychological threat. Any such ‘closed system’ typically presents the conviction that anyone who fails to adopt the approved thought process, attitude, belief, or prescribed behavior are either directly threatened, or they are led to the certainty that severe punishment or dire consequences – of some sort - will eventually meet them. In many cases, methodologies are designed to produce such high stress levels as to induce physical or mental illness, drug dependence (including prescribed psychoactive drugs), economic collapse, professional or social failure and divorce are a few examples of these threats.
These techniques of Coercive Persuasion combine the most effective and traditional psychological and sociological coercive methodologies of influence and deception techniques with the most powerful techniques of ‘behavior modification,’ and other psychological technologies such as hypnosis or Neuro-Linguistic Programming. The resulting synthesis is often found to be wrapped in a slick soft-sell veneer, of the Madison Avenue PR variety.
8. Structure and control. The element of "compartmentalization" is a common trait of institutionalized Coercive Persuasion. While such structure has a certain production-control benefit, the barriers created also effect tremendous influence over the subject population. Such environments are typically identifiable by having some form of "Human Resources" department, with a powerful supervisory hierarchy. For example, the corporate policy may prohibit a departmental – or branch – transfer, without a ‘compartment’ supervisor’s approval/recommendation. The effect of such structure and control is to implant a general sense of powerlessness in the individual. In a time of crisis, the affected individual doesn’t have the ability to reach out to a friend, as the friend will be informed, "That’s not your department."
What happened to the men's basketball coach at Ave Maria University?
Hard to tell. There are many versions of the story and some parties feel out of the loop.
Although it is a private school and can do as it pleases, clarity is important for students, players, fans and future coaches. ............ The back-and-forth, he said/they said scenario is nearly a wash - until the Ave Maria athletic director says the whole story should have remained private as internal Ave Maria business.
That mind-set fails to recognize the context - college basketball. Interest tends to be intense on and off campus. Someone would not notice that the coach brought aboard with much publicity — more aptly called hoopla? - only five months ago is not at the helm for the season opener next month?
Players, fans and coaches understand basketball can be a contact sport on and off the court. School officials ought to understand that, too.
College sports require a level of transparency. Schools and teams thrive on connecting with fans in good times and bad. ......... Just be straight with people and tell them what's going on. They can handle it.
I observe that this exact same analysis can be used when a tenured founding professor is terminated.
In an interview released today by WBBH, the NBC affiliate in Cape Coral, Benitez and the NBC reporter made striking comments about the Town of Ave Maria. Apparently, while the news crew was at the house of Benitez, neighbors came over to express their support to him. Later, the neighbors returned, concerned that their support for Benitez might have been caught on tape by the TV crew. The reporter added, "Many of his other neighbors appear nervous too."
Benitez responded on camera, "Everyone for some reason lives in fear here."
Now, I know the media is always looking to sensationalize things, especially when it comes to Ave Maria Town, but we've heard this before with Ave Maria students, athletes, and staff members who are reluctant to talk to media.
So what is it really like at Ave Maria Town and University? Any students or townspeople care to tell us anonymously in the comments?
AveWatch has the news. The plaintiff faculty members have filed a motion for sanctions against Monaghan for his failure to turn over relevant notes and documents.
Here is the damning piece of evidence supporting the motion for sanctions: One of the plaintiff attorneys saw some of Monaghan's notes which he has so far refused to turn over. She was able, however, to take a cell phone picture of one note. It said:
November 4 Goals 5 down, 6 to go. 2 leaders gone. Now they are in the minority.
Wow. To those who need some background, the numbers clearly refer to the faculty who were opposed to Monaghan. This is a huge smoking gun tending to show that the faculty were fired illegally. Wow.
Things have been quiet in Ave Maria Land recently, so here is a little news to distract you from the raging debates regarding politics and the presidential election. AveWatch first reported a couple of days ago that Ave Maria University's basketball coach had strangely left AMU one month before the season started. AveWatch has now linked to a Naples News article reporting that the coach was fired for "the use of profanity in a scrimmage." The players, parents, and the coach himself - no one has been given any more of the details or reasons for the bizarre termination. From the Naples News:
[Coach] Benitez said his understanding was a player's parent complained about his profanity to Ave Maria founder and chancellor Tom Monaghan. Benitez asked for more details about the complaint, but wasn't given any. He was asked to resign but he refused.
"I was floored," Benitez said outside of a team meeting he held with his former players at Ave Maria on Tuesday night. "I'm still floored. I'm still shocked."
Ave Maria Athletic Director Brian Scanlan confirmed Benitez was no longer with the university, but declined further comment. Scanlan referred all questions to a university spokesman, who declined comment.
A wild goose chase of going from one admin to another for an answer, with no success. Looks like the lack of communication and lack of transparency that us Ave Maria veterans have experienced many times before.
Several players said in an interview the team has been in limbo since last Tuesday when Scanlan and Sports Information Director Melissa Chaplin called a meeting to say Benitez had been terminated. They said they weren't given a reason and were told not to speak with Benitez about it. Scanlan and Chaplin also told them that if they talked to the media their scholarships would be revoked.
And financial threats in order to prevent Ave Maria people from talking? That sounds familiartoo.
After last Tuesday's meeting, the team appealed to Monaghan and President Nick Healy. Monaghan told them it was Scanlan's decision, even though Scanlan told the team the decision came from the "university council" that they said Monaghan heads. Benitez confirmed the decision was made by the university council, which he said consists of Monaghan, Healy, Chief Financial Officer Paul Roney, Senior Vice President of Administration Jack Sites and Carole Carpenter, vice president for university relations.
It looks like Monaghan is trying to shift the blame for the firing by throwing Scanlan under the bus. There is no question Monaghan was responsible for the firing, as Scanlan indicated when he said that the decision came from the "university council." (What is the university council? Is that like a Board of Governors? Does AMU have a Board of Governors too?)
Freddie Bonilla, the father of freshman Mike Bonilla, said in an interview that he spoke to Scanlan in the past week. Scanlan told him an incident where Benitez cursed at a player and the player's parents' complaint was behind Benitez's dismissal. Bonilla said he sent a letter to university officials, including Monaghan, Healy and Scanlan, protesting Benitez's treatment.
"It didn't call for the man to lose his job," Bonilla said. "Maybe reprimanded, maybe fined or something. There had to be another agenda.
"They are very vengeful," Bonilla added. "They are very negative. I'm not talking about everybody there, I'm talking about the administration." ..........
"This is one of the main reasons Catholic people have a bad reputation," [Coach] Benitez said. "They don't abide by the rules in the bible."
Coach Benitez, join the club. You are welcome to attend our support group for recovering Ave Maria victims, regularly meeting right here at Fumare.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sharply attacked the United States and NATO, accusing them of acting as aggressors in Iraq and Afghanistan, and of starting those wars "in order to win votes in elections."
"American empire in the world is reaching the end of its road, and its next rulers must limit their interference to their own borders . . ."
"A few bullying powers have sought to put hurdles in the way of the peaceful nuclear activities of the Iranian nation by exerting political and economic pressures against Iran and also through threatening and pressuring the IAEA. . . "
He said that six years after Saddam Hussein's regime was ousted in Iraq, "the occupiers are still there."
"Millions have been killed or displaced, and the occupiers, without a sense of shame, are still seeking to solidify their position in the ... region and to dominate oil resources," Ahmadinejad said.
"The U.S. government has made a series of mistakes in the past few decades," Ahmadinejad said an interview with the Los Angeles Times. "The imposition on the U.S. economy of the years of heavy military engagement and involvement around the world ... the war in Iraq, for example. These are heavy costs imposed on the U.S. economy."
"The world economy can no longer tolerate the budgetary deficit and the financial pressures occurring from markets here in the United States, and by the U.S. government," he added.
"They have invented a myth that Jews were massacred and place this above God, religions and the prophets," Ahmadinejad said in a speech to thousands of people in the Iranian city of Zahedan, according to a report on Wednesday from Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting.
"The West has given more significance to the myth of the genocide of the Jews, even more significant than God, religion, and the prophets," he said. "(It) deals very severely with those who deny this myth but does not do anything to those who deny God, religion, and the prophet."
But he is not one to shy away from controversy, is he? Should folks be agreeing with a man who inspires his people to chant out death to Israel and death to America?
If you start to find yourself agreeing with Ahmadinejad more often than most of the Americans you know, should you re-evaluate your positions?
I've now heard it repeated too many times to respond merely in the comments threads. What, you ask? People keep claiming that Presidents have no real ability to push an abortion agenda one way or another. It's utter garbage to say that. Let us count the ways:
1. Supreme Court nominees. Let's be honest. We need a comprehensive approach to abortion, and it must include justices who will not read something more into the Constitution than is really there. The next President - especially if a two-termer - gets to appoint probably 2 justices, replacing at least one of the most anti-life of them all.
2. Pushing legislation. Presidents get a huge platform from which to push their agenda. Congress can control this to a degree, but Presidents send legislative proposals to Congress all the time. Obama is clear that he supports the "Freedom of Choice Act." Don't believe me? Why not read what Barack had to say about it on the 35th anniversary of Roe:
"Thirty-five years after the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade, it's never been more important to protect a woman's right to choose. Last year, the Supreme Court decided by a vote of 5-4 to uphold the Federal Abortion Ban, and in doing so undermined an important principle of Roe v. Wade: that we must always protect women's health. With one more vacancy on the Supreme Court, we could be looking at a majority hostile to a women's fundamental right to choose for the first time since Roe v. Wade. The next president may be asked to nominate that Supreme Court justice. That is what is at stake in this election."Throughout my career, I've been a consistent and strong supporter of reproductive justice, and have consistently had a 100% pro-choice rating with Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America.
"When South Dakota passed a law banning all abortions in a direct effort to have Roe overruled, I was the only candidate for President to raise money to help the citizens of South Dakota repeal that law. When anti-choice protesters blocked the opening of an Illinois Planned Parenthood clinic in a community where affordable health care is in short supply, I was the only candidate for President who spoke out against it. And I will continue to defend this right by passing the Freedom of Choice Act as president.
"Moreover, I believe in and have supported common-sense solutions like increasing access to affordable birth control to help prevent unintended pregnancies. In the Illinois state Senate, when Congress failed to require insurance plans to cover FDA-approved contraceptives, I made sure those contraceptives were covered for women in Illinois. In the U.S. Senate, I've worked with Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) on a bill that would make birth control more affordable for low-income and college women, and introduced the Senate version of Representative Hilda Solis' bill to reduce unintended pregnancies in communities of color. As President, I will improve access to affordable health care and work to ensure that our teens are getting the information and services they need to stay safe and healthy.
"But we also know that Roe v. Wade is about more than a woman's right to choose; it's about equality. It's about whether our daughters are going to have the same opportunities as our sons. And so to truly honor that decision, we need to update the social contract so that women can free themselves, and their children, from violent relationships; so that a mom can stay home with a sick child without getting a pink slip; so that she can go to work knowing that there's affordable, quality childcare for her children; and so that the American dream is within reach for every family in this country. This anniversary reminds us that it's not enough to protect the gains of the past – we have to build a future that's filled with hope and possibility for all Americans."
You should be chilled to the bone.
3. Finally, Presidents have a broad range of executive authority, and a veto power. It's important to realize that, from the moment a President walks into the oval office he has a chance to do things with nobody's approval but his own. Don't believe me? Ask the, comparatively moderate, Clintons (from National Right to Life):
1993 Jan. 22: President Clinton issues five executive orders reversing Title 10 regulations banning abortion referral by federal employees, repealing the Mexico City Policy restricting federal funding of international organizations that work to reverse countries' abortion laws, negating the ban on funding for fetal tissue transplants, ordering military hospitals to perform abortions, and asking the FDA to "review" the import ban on RU 486.
Apr. 14: The Los Angeles Times reports that the Clintons plan to include coverage for elective abortion in their massive health care plan that they intend to propose to Congress later in the year.
Nov. 22: The Clinton Administration announces that the International Planned Parenthood Federation will receive $75 million over the next five years.
Dec. 28: The Clinton Administration faxes a letter to every state's Medicaid director ordering the states to change their laws and provide payments for abortions when an abortionist reports that a pregnancy resulted from rape or incest.
Sept. 26: Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell (D-Me.) announces that the Clinton Health Care Plan will not be introduced in the U.S. Senate in the current session. The Clinton proposal would force all Americans into a national health system that would ration lifesaving care and pay for abortion on demand.
1996 Apr. 10: President Clinton issues his first veto of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act.
Sept. 11: Planned Parenthood announces the FDA authorized a nationwide abortion study of methotrexate and misoprostol, another abortifacient combination.
Sept. 18: The FDA declares RU 486 Approvable," although it asks the Population Council to provide more information on "labeling and manufacturing practices" before the drug can be marketed.
Oct. 10: President Clinton again vetoes the ban on partial-birth abortions.
This isn't some cute philosophical debate. Millions of unborn babies cry out to us for protection. Who are you going to vote to send them, and why?
Yes, Ron Paul is a terrific, principled statesman, who seems to correctly understand the import and importance of the Constitution. Yes, it would be great if the country could get behind him.
That is, if the man had any chance of winning. There's no more grassroots; there's no more ground-swell. It's over. For all we know, RuPaul could garner as many votes if ran for President. Hell, he would probably do some good if he ran, because at least he would take votes away from Obama.
Get this straight, a vote for Ron Paul, or those he endorsed, is a vote for Obama. Voting for Mr. Paul isn't going to teach McCain a lesson. It will elect Obama. And, Obama won't give a rat's ass that Paul supporters spoke with their vote. Ron Paul is Ross Perot, a.k.a. the vote stealer.
Only those who live in a hopelessly blue state can vote for Paulie, or those he endorsed, with a clear conscience. Anyone else who votes for him runs the risk of formal cooperation with idiocy. Yes, I mean to be offensive. For &@#! sake, Ron Paul is not a viable candidate.
Obama seeks to extend a helping hand (increased funding for prenatal care, maternity leave and less cumbersome and expensive adoption) with an astute understanding of how closely economic circumstances and abortion are related. Both reasonable extrapolations from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics and a recent Catholic in Alliance for the Common Good study find that improving the economic well-being of the average family in general, and of the women facing the abortion decision in particular, can save unborn lives.
Kmiec has cited this Catholics in Alliance study as support that Obama and his economic plan will reduce the number of abortions. The problem is that the study also shows that when government funding is provided for abortion services, the number of abortions goes up as much as 10%. That's one of reasons why I don't understand Kmiec saying that abortions will go down under Obama: Obama promises to pass the Freedom of Choice Act, will remove abortion restrictions, and will increase government funding, which will obviously increase the number of abortions. Hhhmmm, maybe I don't understand because I haven't read Kmiec's book.
I don't think I've seen this posted here, but if it was, it warrants repetition. Archbishop Charles J. Chaput wrote an important article in First Things last month.
Some significant passages as we consider who to vote for, how to prioritize our issues, and whether to participate at all:
One of the more miraculous, or suspicious, side-effects of the 2004 election was the number of candidates in both political parties who suddenly began talking about their religious faith. There's no doubt that many public officials, regardless of party, do take their religious beliefs very seriously and do try to live by them. That’s a good thing. So maybe this latest trend implies a new Great Awakening. Or maybe, as one of my skeptical friends says, "it’s just another charm offensive to get the shamans off their backs." Time will tell. Words are important. Actions are more important. The religious choreography of a campaign doesn’t matter. The content of its ideas does. The religious vocabulary of a candidate doesn’t matter. The content of his record, plans, and promises does.
A good intro, and a reasonable admonition to view things through the prism of facts, not rhetoric.
Second, there's no way for Catholics to finesse their way around the abortion issue, and if we're serious about being "Catholic," we need to stop trying. No such thing as a "right" to kill an unborn child exists. And wriggling past that simple truth by redefining the unborn child as an unperson, a pre-human lump of cells, is the worst sort of Orwellian hypocrisy - especially for Christians. Abortion always involves the deliberate killing of an innocent human life, and it is always, inexcusably, grievously wrong.
Nothing new here, but important to remind ourselves as folks try to focus on reducing rather than ending this barbaric and evil practice.
Obviously, we have other important issues facing us this fall: the economy, the war in Iraq, immigration justice. But we can’t build a healthy society while ignoring the routine and very profitable legalized homicide that goes on every day against America’s unborn children. The right to life is foundational. Every other right depends on it. Efforts to reduce abortions, or to create alternatives to abortion, or to foster an environment where more women will choose to keep their unborn child, can have great merit - but not if they serve to cover over or distract from the brutality and fundamental injustice of abortion itself. (italicized emphasis in original, bolding mine).
There is a heirarchy of issues. War is important to consider. The economy is ever on our minds. But these things admit of solutions and approaches that, while hotly debated, are rarely intrinsically evil. Some may be better. Some - like Communism - may very well push the line to intrinisic immorality. Abortion, however, is never a question. It is always wrong, and a society that permits it faces it's certain decline in the mirror.
Finally an urging to get active within, not abandon all hope and remain idle:
The real world involves hard conflicts and intractable issues that can't be talked away or smothered under evasive language. Plenty of very good Catholics inhabit both major political parties. It's our job as Catholic citizens to press our parties and our political leaders to respect the sanctity of human life - all of it, from conception to grave - whether our leaders and party elites like us or not.
Sounds like a certain Pope from our recent past? In his 1988 Apostolic Exhortation, Pope John Paul II was clear that the right to life is the most basic right, without which all others are meaningless:
The inviolability of the person which is a reflection of the absolute inviolability of God, fínds its primary and fundamental expression in the inviolability of human life. Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights-for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture- is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination.
In his encyclical, Evangelium vitae, Pope John Paul II echoed that theme in an unambiguous way:
20 . . "If the promotion of the self is understood in terms of absolute autonomy, people inevitably reach the point of rejecting one another. Everyone else is considered an enemy from whom one has to defend oneself. Thus society becomes a mass of individuals placed side by side, but without any mutual bonds. Each one wishes to assert himself independently of the other and in fact intends to make his own interests prevail. Still, in the face of other people's analogous interests, some kind of compromise must be found, if one wants a society in which the maximum possible freedom is guaranteed to each individual. In this way, any reference to common values and to a truth absolutely binding on everyone is lost, and social life ventures on to the shifting sands of complete relativism. At that point, everything is negotiable, everything is open to bargaining: even the first of the fundamental rights, the right to life.
This is what is happening also at the level of politics and government: the original and inalienable right to life is questioned or denied on the basis of a parliamentary vote or the will of one part of the people-even if it is the majority. This is the sinister result of a relativism which reigns unopposed: the "right" ceases to be such, because it is no longer firmly founded on the inviolable dignity of the person, but is made subject to the will of the stronger part. In this way democracy, contradicting its own principles, effectively moves towards a form of totalitarianism. The State is no longer the "common home" where all can live together on the basis of principles of fundamental equality, but is transformed into a tyrant State, which arrogates to itself the right to dispose of the life of the weakest and most defenceless members, from the unborn child to the elderly, in the name of a public interest which is really nothing but the interest of one part.
The appearance of the strictest respect for legality is maintained, at least when the laws permitting abortion and euthanasia are the result of a ballot in accordance with what are generally seen as the rules of democracy. Really, what we have here is only the tragic caricature of legality; the democratic ideal, which is only truly such when it acknowledges and safeguards the dignity of every human person, is betrayed in its very foundations: "How is it still possible to speak of the dignity of every human person when the killing of the weakest and most innocent is permitted? In the name of what justice is the most unjust of discriminations practised: some individuals are held to be deserving of defence and others are denied that dignity?" When this happens, the process leading to the breakdown of a genuinely human co-existence and the disintegration of the State itself has already begun.
To claim the right to abortion, infanticide and euthanasia, and to recognize that right in law, means to attribute to human freedom a perverse and evil significance: that of an absolute power over others and against others. This is the death of true freedom: "Truly, truly, I say to you, every one who commits sin is a slave to sin" (Jn 8:34) . . . .
73. Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize. There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection. . . . In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to 'take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law, or vote for it'." (emphasis added).
The other day a friend who is deeply committed to the Pro-Life Movement came to me and said, "What is up with Ron Paul? Why isn't he endorsing John McCain?"
Ron Paul was the only candidate running in the primary that attracted a solid recognizable base of Catholic support.
That question points to the problem that this election is presenting to many Catholic voters who are serious about the Church's social teaching. Ron Paul is not endorsing John McCain because he will expand and extend neo-conservative foriegn policy. With McCain we will see war with Iran. We will see escalation of tensions with Russia over Georgia. And likely the collapse of our economy. The neo-conservatives are pumping Palin with policy statements to make her bark for war: NATO entry for Georgia?, pro-Israeli attack on Iran, contra to current US policy?
With this radical war platform John McCain doesn't have a prayer to win, but for the pro-life vote he is pulling in through Palin.
Thus Catholics will decide this election in the battle ground states, just as we decided it last time around in Ohio.
The reality of our power as Catholics in this election is tacitly recognized by the Democrats.
This is why they have a whole team of "Catholics" trying to shift the debate to "the most effective policies for reducing abortions," on the one hand while pushing the Right to Life issue under the Establishment Clause and thereby a point of personal religious belief that should not be legislated in a pluralistic society. While in the most cynical manner, Obama has made robust commitments to the Abortion Industry that will open wide the flood gates of abortion through the Freedom of Choice Act and the repeal of the Hyde Amendment and the Mexico City Policy, while funding early sex ed to sexualize children and market abortion.
The Catholics who are supporting Obama are in need of our prayers.
Thankfully Catholics are waking up to the Life issue and so too, it would seem, are the Bishops. But does that automatically defaut to the Republican's advantage? Increasingly the answer is, NO.
What is happening is the Pro-Life Catholic Vote is being wedged, and George Weigel and Michael Novak are chiefly to blame.
Weigel is one of the signatories of the Project for a New American Century - widely recognized as the neo-conservative policy blueprint for our current expansionism and war program.
Both Weigel and Novak were the front men to make the Catholic case for pre-emptive war. They sold the Catholic Conservative population a bill of goods. They even went to the Vatican to make their case - but the Vatican wasn't buying. But the Conservative Catholic population did buy it.
The effect of that mistake, is that just as the Pro-Life Conservative Catholic view is waking up to be the majority Catholic view in America, that group is being wedged over pre-emptive war.
Some prominant Catholics are coming out against McCain and seeking 3rd party options, to vote their conscience rather than the lesser of evils.
There are people who spend their time arguing that being "pro-life" this year means voting for an obtuse ignoramus who thinks it’s a laugh riot to sing, "Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran." A savage who jokes gleefully about the inevitable creation of widows and orphans – that’s the person the official pro-life movement wants as its public face for four years. Gee, a coherent, non-contradictory message like that is just the way to win people over.
My vote will not influence the outcome of this election at all, but it will influence the outcome of my life. I will have to look in the mirror every morning for the next four years and think "I voted for him. I vote for a cynical, duplicitous cannibal" if McCain wins. I'm tired of being played. So I will vote for somebody who doesn't make me feel guilty for voting. God willing, I might even be lucky enough to vote for somebody I feel honorable in supporting.
The question is whether this wedge is minor or major during this election year. Regardless of its impact now, it is a reality and will grow to further dissapate the power of the Catholic conservative electorate by spliting the Pro-Life Catholic vote over the war. For that we have Weigel and company to thank for selling it as part of just war.
It can give you insights into what people are really focusing on, despite what the MSM would tell us.
So, I set out to find whether search trends could tell if people are more interested in McCain or Obama: With only one exception, people are searching more for Obama. But what about Obama vs Palin?Clearly people are more interested in Gov. Palin since she stepped onto the scene.
But this could really only be a temporary blip considering she is new to people.
So assuming that Obama has the greater search interest, what are the issues that people are really interested in searching about Obama?
Look at the following search trend comparisons.
Abortion Obama vs Healthcare Obama:
Abortion Obama vs War Obama:
Abortion Obama vs Economy Obama:
Why are people more interested in "Abortion Obama," than his name searched with healthcare, war, or the economy?
Obama will not only turn back the clock on the gains from the last 40 years of fighting for the Human Rights of the unborn, his policies will bring about a hay-day for the abortion mills.
Under his leadership we will see the abortion rates soar as too we will see our tax dollar contribution to abortion mills rise. The failed policies of "sex education" will become the center piece of all educational initiatives and we will see younger and younger girls coming to the clinics to have abortions.
When one Google's Abortion Obama, one discovers a truly monstrous ideologue who must be stopped.
UPDATE: It seems that the press are waking up to the fact that the battle ground states will be won or lost on the Catholic Vote and that Catholic Voters are debating one issue: Is ABORTION non-negotiable, or is it something that can be proportionally ignored?
We've heard repeated in many left-wing circles (various blogs, Susan Surandon, Donna Brazile, and too many others to count by now) what is no doubt intended as a pithy and thought-provoking comment in response to Governor Palin's acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention. In that speech, Governor Palin took on the already-building criticism that her mayoral experience in the small town of Wasilla was meaningless:
"Before I became governor of the great state of Alaska, I was mayor of my hometown. And since our opponents in this presidential election seem to look down on that experience, let me explain to them what the job involves. I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a "community organizer," except that you have actual responsibilities."
The poorly-thought-out response to that has been:
"Jesus was a community organizer, Pontius Pilate was a governor."
What? There are many routes we can go down to take apart this foolish and ridiculous statement (Weren't the last 2 Presidents elected from the Democrat Party governors, for instance?; what business do these ACLU-supporting nuts have talking about religion?).
Since FUMARE is a Catholic-leaning blog, I'll take a moment to give these opportunistic morons the only response due to them:
-Jesus Christ was not a secular community organizer. He is God, the second person of the Trinity. He did organize (founded, more properly) a community, but you ridicule that community - The Catholic Church - and do all you can to keep it from being a meaningful voice in society. The Church built upon Christ stands up against just about everything you people hold dear.
If you really want to invoke Christ in your political responses, take a moment to read what he did and said. You might find out that Jesus did not come just to share and care. He's not some nice guy merely on the same level as Ghandi. He is God, He is TRUTH and He came to set in place a structure for moral living and salvation for mankind. Here's a helpful hint for you as you start to explore the Jesus you try to use to political advantage - start with abortion and the Church's response to Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi. There's a good chance you don't want to go there, even though I hope you do.
Despite income ranging from $210,432 - $321,379 over the ten-year period, the Bidens have given only $120 - $995 per year to charity, which amounts to 0.06% - 0.31% of their income......
It is jarring that a couple earning over $200,000 per year would give as little as $2 per week to charity. This giving compares very unfavorably to John McCain, whose tax returns show that he gave 27.3% - 28.6% of his income to charity in 2006-2007. During the same period, the Obamas' tax returns show that they gave 5.8% - 6.1% of their income to charity.....
IRS statistics reveal that the average taxpayer with AGI over $200,000 makes over $20,000 of charitable contributions.
Now I realize that you don't need to report your charitable donations on your tax return, but there is no reason not to, especially if the donations are substantial. But Biden reporting that he gave only a couple of hundred dollars a year? Wow, it sure looks like Biden is stingy and uncharitable. I guess in addition to a lesson on the Catholic Church's teaching on abortion, Biden could use a lesson on tithing.
With the approaching general election this November, we believe this to be an important moment for us to address together the responsibility of Catholics to be well informed and well formed voters. ......
For generations it has been the determination of Catholic Bishops not to endorse political candidates or parties. ..... At the same time, it is important to note that the Catholic Church in the United States has always cherished its right to speak to the moral issues confronting our nation. The Church has understood its responsibility in a democratic society to do its best to form properly the consciences of her members. ......
There are, however, some issues that always involve doing evil, such as legalized abortion, the promotion of same-sex unions and 'marriages,' repression of religious liberty, as well as public policies permitting euthanasia, racial discrimination or destructive human embryonic stem cell research. A properly formed conscience must give such issues priority even over other matters with important moral dimensions. To vote for a candidate who supports these intrinsic evils because he or she supports these evils is to participate in a grave moral evil. It can never be justified. ........
In another circumstance, we may be confronted with a voting choice between two candidates who support abortion, though one may favor some limitations on it, or he or she may oppose public funding for abortion. In such cases, the appropriate judgment would be to select the candidate whose policies regarding this grave evil will do less harm. We have a responsibility to limit evil if it is not possible at the moment to eradicate it completely.
The same principle would be compelling to a conscientious voter who was confronted with two candidates who both supported same-sex unions, but one opposed abortion and destructive embryonic research while the other was permissive in these regards. The voter, who himself or herself opposed these policies, would have insufficient moral justification voting for the more permissive candidate. However, he or she might justify resorting to a write-in vote or abstaining from voting at all in this case, because of a conscientious objection. ........
Could a Catholic in good conscience vote for a candidate who supports legalized abortion when there is a choice of another candidate who does not support abortion or any other intrinsically evil policy? Could a voter's preference for the candidate's positions on the pursuit of peace, economic policies benefiting the poor, support for universal health care, a more just immigration policy, etc. overcome a candidate's support for legalized abortion? In such a case, the Catholic voter must ask and answer the question: What could possibly be a proportionate reason for the more than 45 million children killed by abortion in the past 35 years? Personally, we cannot conceive of such a proportionate reason.
ABC has been airing Charlie Gibson's interview with Sarah Palin. You can see various parts of the interview at ABC News or on Youtube. I was pleasantly surprised by Palin's performance. I thought Gibson was quite tough in his questioning. For example, during the very first part of the interview, Gibson kept on firing at Palin over and over about whether she had enough foreign policy experience to be Vice-President (even condescendingly suggesting she had hubris). And later, Gibson was unfair when asking Palin about whether Iraq is a "task from God." Yet throughout all, Palin remained composed (though maybe a little nervous) and seemed to handle the tough questions well. Some people are saying Palin messed up on not defining the "Bush Doctrine" and in discussing Georgia and Russia.... but I didn't see that in the interview, considering Gibson doesn't really know what the Bush Doctrine is either and Palin has a similar position with regard to NATO and Georgia as Obama and Biden. What are your thoughts?
It's likely that many of you know of Tom Vander Woude, left, former Christendom College athletic director and father of seven boys (including a priest in the Diocese of Arlington, VA), who died on Monday while saving the life of his youngest son, Joseph. "Josie," as he's called, is 20 years old and has Down syndrome. Seeing that Josie had fallen into a septic tank on the Vander Woude property, Tom jumped in after him and held his son's head above the muck for 15-20 minutes while he was drowning underneath. Josie survived, but remains in intensive care with double pneumonia and the threat of further infection.
The Washington Post ran a front page story about Tom's heroic act of selflessness today, and a number of blogs and talking heads have commented on it. Standing on its own, this is a life-affirming story of a father's unconditional love for his son that merits the attention it has received. But part of me believes that what pushed Tom's story from the back pages of the Post to the front page is the fact that Josie has Down syndrome. And in a society where 90% of Down syndrome children are killed before they ever see the light of day, Tom's act of love becomes an even more powerful witness to the value of every human life, regardless of the number of chromosomes one has.
This brings to mind a second article published today...a withering condemnation of the eugenics mindset that prefers the elimination of the weakest members of society rather than their protection. An excerpt is below, but the entire piece is a must-read:
Of the cases of Down syndrome diagnosed by pre-natal testing each year, about 90 percent are eliminated by abortion. Last year the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommended universal, early testing for Down syndrome -- not just for older pregnant women. Some expect this increased screening to reduce the number of Down syndrome births far lower than the 5,500 we see today, perhaps to less than 1,000.
The wrenching diagnosis of 47 chromosomes must seem to parents like the end of a dream instead of the beginning of a life. But children born with Down syndrome -- who learn slowly but love deeply -- are generally not experienced by their parents as a curse but as a complex blessing. And when allowed to survive, men and women with an extra chromosome experience themselves as people with abilities, limits and rights. Yet when Down syndrome is detected through testing, many parents report that genetic counselors and physicians emphasize the difficulties of raising a disabled child and urge abortion.
This is properly called eugenic abortion -- the ending of "imperfect" lives to remove the social, economic and emotional costs of their existence. And this practice cannot be separated from the broader social treatment of the disabled. By eliminating less perfect humans, deformity and disability become more pronounced and less acceptable. Those who escape the net of screening are often viewed as mistakes or burdens. A tragic choice becomes a presumption -- "Didn't you get an amnio?" -- and then a prejudice. And this feeds a social Darwinism in which the stronger are regarded as better, the dependant are viewed as less valuable, and the weak must occasionally be culled.
Please keep Tom Vander Woude, his son Josie, and his entire family in your prayers. And please do what you can to spread the word about problems with genetic screenings before birth.
Interesting how Brokaw grossly misstates the question at Saddleback Church. Rick Warren DID NOT ask Obama WHEN LIFE BEGINS, he asked a much more specific question: "At what point does a BABY get HUMAN RIGHTS?"
Warren's question is about legal protection for babies. The question Brokaw asks is about tossing Biden a soft ball so that he can obscure the issue with theologi-babble.
Obama backtracks on his "pay grade" comment to dodge the question further to suggest that Warren was asking when the "soul enters" the baby, and that these are "theological questions." This is such a feeble attempt at pushing the question of the Right to Life into the establishment clause, as if this isn't a biological and human rights issue, but an issue of personal Faith and religious devotion. Absurd.
The response of the USCCB has been fantastic (of late) on this question:
Which living members of the human species should be seen as having fundamental human rights, such as a right not to be killed? The Catholic Church’s answer is: Everybody. No human being should be treated as lacking human rights, and we have no business dividing humanity into those who are valuable enough to warrant protection and those who are not. Even this is not solely a Catholic teaching, but a principle of natural law accessible to all people of good will. The framers of the Declaration of Independence pointed to the same basic truth by speaking of inalienable rights, bestowed on all members of the human race not by any human power, but by their Creator. Those who hold a narrower and more exclusionary view have the burden of explaining why we should divide humanity into the moral “haves” and “have-nots,” and why their particular choice of where to draw that line can be sustained in a pluralistic society. Such views pose a serious threat to the dignity and rights of other poor and vulnerable members of the human family who need and deserve our respect and protection.
While in past centuries biological knowledge was often inaccurate, modern science leaves no excuse for anyone to deny the humanity of the unborn child. Protection of innocent human life is not an imposition of personal religious conviction but a demand of justice.
Now Biden, a pro-abortion Catholic, has gone and done almost the same thing, claiming that though he personally believes that life begins at conception, he's not going to impose this view on other people. Again, several bishops have spoken out against Biden.
Mario Russo a "stylist" from Boston says of her hair style: “It’s about 20 years out of date. Which goes to show how off she might be on current events.”
I wonder if "Mario" and the other chorus of homosexuals get it.
The reason people like Sarah Palin is because she is comes off as a real woman who is rooted in her identity as a child of God, and that roots her to a very clear vision of the meaning of life and politics.
Homosexual opinion of her hair "style" really doesn't have a role in that scene.
Living in a major American city, I frequently come across women who have become victims of homosexual counsel.
At some level wounded and broken, these fractured women pay $1,000's of dollars to get their self-esteem stroked up by a cadre of gay men who sell them on the latest look and beauty treatment and products. It breaks my heart to see a perfectly beautiful woman with barely an eyebrow hair left because she listened to some gay jerk-off's opinion about what will make her beautiful. She doesn't know she is deeply loved as she is, so she goes to the salon to be reassured and get the latest "look" that will make her relevant and get the latest fashionable opinions that the beautiful people share. Like a leaf she is tossed on the flighty air emitted by gay counsel.
There is something very misogynistic about homosexual "stylists."
What is so appealing about Sarah Palin is her clear knowledge that there is something true and good deep within, put there by a loving God, and that radiates out of her. It is what is truly appealing in any person.
"Stylists" (like Satan himself) try to ape, copy and make a forgery of the authentic beauty that comes from God's welcome presence within a person.
What America likes about Palin is her authenticity, and she is so authentic it speaks even through her hair do. The same is true of John Edwards except it speaks of his authentic fatuous and shallow character - all style, no substance. One wonders if a homosexual sold Biden on his hair plugs as well?
Palin's hair, like herself, is about showing the American people that being authentically rooted in principle never goes out of style.