Category Archives: straw men

On Melancholy: the Physiological aspects of depression and bi-polar

Last night, I posted a semi-defense of certain controversial comments made in the wake of Robin Williams’ suicide and a general suggestion of how Matt Walsh, Rush Limbaugh, Bryan Kemper and others might have done better.

Part of Matt Walsh’s appeal is that, like the early Limbaugh, he uses sensationalistic packaging to get people’s attention to pieces that are usually very thoughtful. In this case, which backfires horribly because his piece isn’t as thoughtful as he thinks, he emphasized the notion that “Robin Williams didn’t die of a disease; he died of a choice.” At one point, he says, “First, suicide does not claim anyone against their will.”

He anticipates this response a few paragraphs above, but that is precisely the problem. Mental health issues, addiction, etc., reduce or remove culpability. Now, the mentally ill person may remain culpable for what is done while sane, but the question–which none of us can answer in this life–is whether the person who commits suicide truly has control of his or her will.

People like causes. They like to have someone or something to blame, especially if it isn’t themselves. “He was depressed because his career was in the tank” is an easy target versus “He was depressed because he had a genetic condition that made it difficult to control his emotions.” That gets into a mess of problems about free will versus determinism. Then there’s the controversial, “He was post-abortive,” which I want to discuss in a separate post, but while guilt, financial troubles, or frightening medical diagnoses may contribute to mental health issues, we cannot deny that there are physiological components. Matt Walsh is right that there are spiritual components, but wrong to dismiss “chemical imbalances” as modernist mumbo jumbo. Physiological understandings of depressive disorders are nothing new at all.

It is precisely “He was depressed because of XYZ” that is “modernist mumbo jumbo,” originating with Freud’s era.  Back in the old days, instead of “chemical imbalances,” people talked about “humors.” Melancholy is usually associated with depression, though the “melancholic temperament” would be what we now call “bipolar” and possibly include even autism. The melancholic is concerned about the troubles of the world, prone to mood swings, etc. Literature’s most notorious melancholic is perhaps Prince Hamlet from Shakespeare’s eponymous play. Three major movies made of the play within a decade demonstrate different psychological interpretations of the character:

The Zeffirelli/Gibson film (1990) depicts Hamlet as bipolar, mostly manic or “rapid cycling.”  
The Branagh/Branagh (1996) version depicts Hamlet as almost sociopathic (choleric), with the melancholy a complete facade.
The Almereyda/Hawke (2000) version depicts Hamlet as straight-up clinically depressed.  

Either way, all effective writers are natural psychologists and write their characters so well that they can be readily diagnosed (always baffles me that people insist you can’t “diagnose” fictional characters because a particular health problem or mental health issue wasn’t named: people still had problems).  Shakespeare drew from the psychology of his day and also left the character open to interpretation because he was aware of the debates that existed even then.

One of the concerns Walsh, and many others raise in critiquing a biological interpretation of mental health, is the spiritual component.  Fr. John Corapi would compare it to any physical disease: you might have a genetic predisposition to something. Then you add in the component of an actual physical trauma, poor nutrition, etc. Then bacteria come into the wound and infect it.

With mental health, you may have a genetic predisposition to bi-polar, depression, schizophrenia, autism spectrum, etc. You experience traumas that other experience but they hurt you more because of your predispositions. Things that might cause a brief situational depression for anybody are devastating (or, conversely, one thrives in a crisis). Then the demons, like bacteria in a wound, come along and whisper “You’re unworthy.” They infect the emotional wound and refuse to leave.  That certainly needs to be dealt with, and most treatment programs acknowledge it.  

“Madame has moments of melancholy,” says Max in Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard (1950).  Norma Desmond, also clearly bipolar (mania demonstrated by her literally insane, rambling “script” that she’s been working on for years), has made several attempts on her life, and Max has removed all the doorknobs in the house, as well as all knives and razors (“Madame got the razor from your room, and she cut her wrists!”)

If Robin Williams had shot himself, certain people would be calling for restricting the ability of mentally ill people to own guns. They cite statistics on gun deaths in America, more than half of which are suicides.  It is noteworthy that these same people objected to “politicization” of his death when some pro-lifers pointed to his status as a post-abortive father (post-abortion syndrome contributing to many suicides), or when Rush Limbaugh, ironically or inadvertently “politicized” his death by complaining about the media politicizing it.  Yet the same people would have readily “politicized” it if it had been a gun suicide.

That’s another easy cause, though, that  people look for.  They try to say, “It’s guns,” except when it’s not guns.  Nobody is talking about legal action to restrict ownership of ropes, or belts, or plastic bags, or knives or razors by mentally ill people.  The real issue there is why people must rely on the government for everything. 

A desperate person will find a means.

One last observation under this topic is the question of medication.  Some people will say, “See?  This proves meds don’t work!” or “This proves meds make things worse!”  One of the reasons it’s important to nail down the right diagnosis is that the wrong medicine really can be disastrous.  Someone with bipolar needs to be on bipolar meds, not necessarily anti-depressants or anti-anxiety meds, which can cause a horrible mania and, in turn, drastic behavior.  

Accurate diagnosis is so very important, as are accurate treatment methods.  

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Why “Gay Marriage” Matters

Even many who profess faith in Christ insist that “gay marriage,” even as a civil entity, doesn’t hurt anybody.  Examples like “husband” and “wife” being changed everywhere to “spouse 1” and “spouse 2” should be enough for starters.  Then there is the increasing persecution of those who oppose the homosexualist political agenda: CEOs being fired from companies they co-founded,

Brendan Eich, who helped invent Java and Firefox, fired from Mozilla for a $1000 donation made 6 years ago.

and nuns being persecuted by the Church.

Should be speaking everywhere, not silenced

Of course, the latter was justified by “Catholics” bearing false witness against the Holy Father by saying his statements that homilists must talk about more than a few disjointed moral teachings means that none of us is supposed to talk about the specific examples, ever.

It all goes back to my old saying that we lost the Culture Wars before they began, at the 1929 Lambeth Conference.   The slippery slope that  led us to the current gay marriage debate started when the Anglicans became the first Christians to permit birth control, as Pius XI and Paul VI predicted.  Anyone who has tried to teach Catholic morality even in CCD, much less Catholic school, in the past generation or two knows how awkward it is to tell kids divorce and remarriage is a sin when their parents are divorced and remarried, that swearing is a sin when even their mothers cuss like sailors, or that birth control is a sin when everyone else uses it.  I went to high school with kids whose parents were NFP instructors, and even *they* would say things like, “It’s a sin for us but not for other people,” or “It’s better to tell teenagers to use birth control than to have them get pregnant or STDs.”

I think the persecution of Sr. Jane Dominic Laurel, OP, STD, has as much to do with her speaking about the negative consequences of divorce as anything else.  Indeed, the claim of Aquinas College that Sr. Jane is outside her academic credentials by talking of anthropology negates the traditional hierarchy of academic disciplines that a Dominican should be the first to recognize.

Soon-to-be St. John Paul II, who doesn’t mince words in Evangelium Vitae about the Conspiracy of Death, writes in Theology of the Body that the entire of Catholic anthropology is based in the Creation Account: indeed, that is the whole point of TOB.  From man being made male and female in the image of likeness of God and to be “one flesh” to the fact of Original Sin, JPII’s explication of the first three or four chapters of Genesis and Jesus’ teachings on marriage shows how everything else in theology stems from those passages.  He argues that the danger of Darwinism, and its importance to secularists, is that without a Creator, without teleology, without man being a soul/body hybrid, without Original Sin itself, then man is not a moral creature, and ultimately anything goes.

Something similar is at work in the Culture Wars in the contemporary West.  From contraception at one end to “marriage equality” at the other, advocates of “most favored sins” tend to promote each other’s cause: nobody wants to be perceived as a “hypocrite,” after all.  If some “bossy” Thomistic nun wants to start talking about sexual morality, then so much for “voices of women in the Church”!

And that’s the ultimate agenda of the Culture of Death (and, yes, Pope John Paul himself states repeatedly in Gospel of Life and elsewhere that it’s a conspiracy).    It’s even the agenda of those who, in the name of preventing child abuse, expose children to graphic “sex education.”  Obviously, Satan wants everyone in Hell, and Satan’s agents, whether they realize they are or not, need to encourage others to sin so they can feel justified in their own filth.

The 1988 Don Bosco film that used to run on EWTN before the 2004 version came out has subplots involving a brothel next door to St. John’s Oratory.  In one scene, there’s a commotion outside the brothel: two prostitutes get into a “cat fight.”  The boys stop their play and study to see what’s going on.  The Saint cuts through the crowd and pulls the two hookers apart.  “You people can drown in your sins, if you want!” he cries.  “But if a single one of my boys is lost because of you, not one of you can be saved!”

Harsh, you say?  Remember Our Lord calls for anyone who causes a child to sin to be drowned (Matthew 18:6).

That’s what’s at stake in “gay marriage.”

When I can no longer watch Wheel of Fortune with my kids because of a contestant introduction like, “So you’re getting married? . . . You found some nice young lady to marry you?” “Gentleman, actually,” that affects my family.
When we’re watching The Middle, and an ad comes on for Modern Family with two men talking about “their wedding,” and a cake topper with two men, that affects my family.
“Why?” asks the person who actively or passively supports same sex marriage.  “Are you afraid of them?  They’re nice people.”
No.
“Do you think you’re kid’s going to be gay?”
No.
Every child at some point wants to know why boys can’t marry boys or girls can’t marry girls, and “because they’re not supposed to” is usually a sufficient answer.

If society isn’t going to back that up, and if “the Church” isn’t even going to back that up, then one is left stranded explaining Natural Law.  It’s hard enough having to gloss over other issues.

They do not think parents have the right to teach their children morality or even to protect their children’s mental purity at a young age.   Then there are the increasing accounts of children at young ages becoming addicted to porn or committing sexual abuse because of things they’ve seen online.

When that stuff is literally everywhere, there comes a point when parents are forced to explain certain things to children that are not otherwise age appropriate–and that’s exactly what these demonic perverts want.

So, the Obama Administration finally “Bares All”

The Department of Health and “Human Services,” presided over by “Catholic” Kathleen Sebelius, recently completed the most extensive long-term study ever done of abstinence teaching (particularly by parents) and teen fornication. At first, the Obama Administration tried to resist publicizing the results (obviously having something to hide; that is Obama’s m.o., right?), but several appeals got the results released, and LifeSite News has a summary as well as the whole text.

As we all know, the “conventional wisdom,” pushed by the liberal establishment in the media and the educational system, is that “abstinence education” “doesn’t work,” that parents and schools alike need to teach teenagers about artificial contraception “because they’re going to have sex anyway.” I even heard these arguments in Catholic school–I heard these arguments in Catholic school from classmates whose parents were NFP instructors! (This led to my traditionalist bias against NFP). Of course, in the past couple years, Bristol Palin has been the poster girl for “abstinence doesn’t work.”

In a debate on this subject, an Internet friend of mine was responded to a comment of that sort by suggesting that the liberal in question count the number of people who are traditional minded Catholics, orthodox Jews or Evangelical Protestants whose teenagers getting pregnant compared to the number of secularist families whose teenagers are having sex and getting pregnant.

Indeed, the HHS study has shown, in summary, that abstinence education *does* work. Families with religious values or conservative attitudes are less likely to have teens who engage in sex. Teens who come from minority or less educated families are more likely to opposed sex before marriage. With the exception of African Americans, teens whose parents oppose fornication are less likely to engage in it.

You can read the full text here.

In related news, here’s a nice little blog post on the link between oxytocin and the psychology of sex and promiscuity. The importance of oxytocin (and dopamine and endorphines, which are its predecessors) to human psychological development, relationships (sexual and otherwise), addictions and morality has been a big area of interest to me for the past year and a half or so. There’s really a lot of scientific evidence that validates traditional morality, yet of course the secularists ignore the moral implications of the research, and you don’t often hear Christians talking about it, so it was nice to see this piece.

Haiti, Part 3

Been doing some blog-clicking, and found some interesting posts.  It seems that what Robertson is “quoted” as saying is not quite the same thing as what he said, but that doesn’t make what he said entirely right.

First, here are the sites:

Deacon Dana: “Pray for the People of Haiti.”
Curt Harding: “Why Robertson is Wrong”
“One Catholic’s Response to Pat Robertson.”
Fr. Longenecker

In summary, what Robertson (who I think is a complete fraud, and I don’t buy the argument that a Christian’s worth should be measured by how much money he allegedly gives to cahrity) said is that he believes Haiti’s long history of witchcraft is responsible for the country’s long history of economic turmoil.

At issue are three points:

1.  Haiti and the Dominican Republic share the same island, Hispaniola.  The Dominican Republic was originally a Spanish colony, while Haiti was French.  Both countries are very impoverished, though Robertson described the Dominican Republic as “prosperous”.  Now, as Haiti is the poorest nation on earth, any country is “prosperous” by comparison.  Robertson overtly makes that comparison.

My wife went to Haiti.  Her interest in Haiti got me interested in Haiti, and I wrote an article on Haiti a few years ago, and I’ve researched it.  And a major issue in Haiti today is deforestation.  There are practical reasons why Haiti is so particularly blighted as a nation.

a.  Like every third world country, Haiti’s progress is impeded by government corruption and rampant crime.  Foreign Aide is embezzled by corrupt officials, and direct charity from missionary groups is stolen by bandits.  Mary’s group came there to install solar panels, and they were told that the panels would only be up for a few weeks before they were stolen.

b.  Haiti, due to its small size, has suffered the effects of deforestation more drastically than, say, Brazil, but its situation is a warning to the world about what will happen if we don’t stop abusing God’s gifts to us.

c.  The United States and France have stripped Haiti of its resources.  Haiti is an embodiment of the Kissinger Doctrine: Manifest Destiny is over, so the US needs to turn to imperialism.  Every government in Haiti for the past several decades has been US-backed.  Reagan supported the guy before Aristide.  The American Left supported Aristide.  Aristide got elected during Bush Sr.’s administration.  Aristide got overthrown in a coup, and Bush Sr. refused to intervene.  Clinton came along and put Aristide in power.  Aristide, in his second term, proved to be the worst dictator in Haiti’s history.  Bush Jr. sent in troops in 2004 to put in the guy he wanted. Haiti has been nothing more than a tributary of the US for decades.

Those are the basic reasons for its poverty. 

2.  Is there witchcraft in Haiti?  Absolutely!  Haiti is the center of voodoo.  Some commentors jump in with “What about New Orleans and Katrina?” yet the obvious answer to that is, “Voodoo is rampant there, too.”
However, my brother used to work in Boston, where there is a large Haitian population, and where he had a number of Haitians in his employ, and he was well aware of the voodoo they practiced.  He also found a couple voodoo dolls on his doorstep.

Ignoring the earthquake, as Pat Robertson did not say the Haitians “deserved” the earthquake–this is how the mainstream media protrayed his comments.  Again, that’s just for the sake of truth here.  He didn’t say it, so it’s wrong to condemn him for saying it.  He expressed hope, as I did, that the earthquake would be taken as a warning from God both by the Haitian people *and* by the rest of the world.

Robertson *did* make a very fauly conclusion.

His conclusion is that Haiti’s national poverty is due to its practice of witchcraft and the alleged rejection of God involved in its revolution against France.

Question, Mr. Robertson: is the United States impoverished?  is the United States plagued by a history of poverty?

Because last time I checked, voodoo, wicca, New Age, occultism, “Satanism,” and daily newspaper horoscopes are practiced all over the United States.

Last time I checked, the United States was founded by a bunch of men who were mostly Deists, if nominally Christian, and most of the “Founding Fathers” were Freemasons.  One of the exceptions to both rules was Charles Carroll, whose writings laid the groundwork for the heresy of Americanism and the Kennedy Doctrine (“My faith has nothing to do with my politics”).

I don’t know if the Haitians made a pact with the devil, and I’m not sure whether the United States was founded on a pact with the Devil, but the United States was certainly not founded as a Christian nation. 

And what about France?  “First Daughter of the Church”?  (A very biased and racist term, by the way, as the true “First Daughter of the Church” is Ethiopia, which adopted Christianity as its official religion perhaps as Apostolic times).  France had its bloody revolution that enthroned Goddess Liberty, involved the destruction of Catholic Churches, relics, artworks, and sacramentals, as well as the martyrdom of thousands of devout Catholics.  France’s revolution led to official secularization, the invention of public education as we know it, etc. 

Lots of Catholics wear Miraculous Medals.  The Miraculous Medals was given to St. Catherine Laboure, a Vincentian nun, in apparitions she received in the Church of Our Lady of Victory, Rue de Bac, Paris, France.  Many Catholics probably wear Miraculous Medals without knowing that the apparition that introduced the medal condemned the American and French Revolutions, especially the latter, as paving the way for an era of decadence.

So, Rev. Robertson, if a history of Satanism and/or rejection of God results in a history poverty, then why  is the United States the most prosperous nation on earth?  Where is the rampant poverty in France?  Where is the rampant poverty in the United Kingdom? 

“Oh, there are many Christians in those countries,” he might respond, telling us how many prayerful and charitable people live in the US, France and UK.

OK, well, there are also many devout prayerful Christians in Haiti, as well. 

Try again.

“What about the women who have abortions?”

Pro-abortionists have a particular question they like to throw out at pro-lifers.  Like the Pharisees trying to trip up Jesus, they think this question particularly clever and creates an impossible dilemma.

My recent interlocutor, the pro-abortion terrorist and demonaic who goes by “Operation Counterstrike”, prides itself on its website for supposedly “confounding” pro-lifer bloggers with this question.  Although I answered the question on its blog, and the direct question never came up here in our lengthy exchange, this person (whom I strongly suspect has gender identity issues, given that its rhetoric sounds like NOW but seems to avoid the personal identification with abortion that radical feminists have) tried to say that I put its comments under moderation because of my inability to confront that question.

No, I put its comments under moderation because a) the arguments were getting circular and unprogressive and b) the person insisted on using language that was both rude and crude, as well as personally attacking my friends. This individual needs to learn about a modicum of civil discourse.

Anyway, the question goes like this:

“If abortion is made illegal, and you consider abortion to be murder, what should happen to the women who have abortions?”

They see this is an an “aha!” question, exposing us for either being hypocrites or for “not really thinking abortion is murder.”

The paradox, they think, goes this way:

1.  If you think they should be punished as murderers, they’ll call you “unreasonable.”

2.  If you say they shouldn’t, they say, “Then you don’t really think abortion is murder.”

Of course, these are the kinds of people, especially the CounterStrike person, who think that people like Scott Roeder, Paul Hill and John Salvi are the only consistent anti-abortionists.  According to their logic, a) if you believe abortion is murder, then b) the only way to punish a murderer is to c) kill him/her in an act of vigilantism.  Otherwise, you’re a liar and/or hypocrite in that a) you don’t “really” believe abortion is “murder” or b) you’re not “really” pro-life.

Of course, they set up the false dichotomy in that, case they set up the false dichotomy in this one, too.

Yes, the question does pose a paradox for certain kinds of Republicans and conservatives, but it shouldn’t pose a paradox for a Christian, or certainly any person with an understanding of psychology or legal responsibility.

There is a difference between the objective nature of an act and the subjective culpability of the actor.  When a teenaged girl has an abortion, is she really culpable?  Does she know abortion is murder?  Does she know the unborn child is a person?  (Not if the pro-aborts have anything to say about it; they do everything in their power to fight informed consent, waiting periods and sonogram laws–they know most women would reject abortion if shown this information).  Are they really making the “free choice” that pro-aborts allege?  Or are they pressured by family, society, money, etc.?  What is their mental state?

Is a girl who has an abortion fully morally culpable for what she does? 

Now, this is quite different from, say, some upper middle class white woman who gets an abortion to avoid the stretch marks or pursue her career or something.

Interestingly, Patrick Madrid has been involved in a parallel exchange from the other end, on his Facebook page, radio show and blog, in which a pro-life advocate apparently took a fairly hardline stance with some women who had repented of past abortions, insisting they were still “murderers”.

Of course, objectively, the woman who has an abortion is a “murderer,” but that leads to two issues: 1) her aforementioned culpability and b) her intention of repeating the crime.

A person who copies and pastes a bunch of paragraphs out of Wikipedia and Cliff’s Notes is, objectively, a plagiarist.  However, a good teacher knows how to distinguish unintentional acts of plagiarism from intentional academic theft.  Sometimes, especially in this example, the student just doesn’t know how to cite or how to write a proper research paper, and thinks the copied and pasted paragraphs constitute “research.” 

So, let’s say the teacher decides to give the student a second chance, or that a student who was expelled from one institution for plagiarism gets admitted to another.  In either case, our plagiarist has learned his or her lesson.  He or she remains a plagiarist, but the question is: will he or she *continue* to commit plagiarism?

Inspector Javert chases Jean Valjean for years because he thinks that one act of theft should mark a man for life.

Christians technically believe in repentance and forgiveness.  The pro-life movement is an embodiment of this.  Many of our leaders have themselves been directly involved in abortion in the worst ways: Norma McCorvey, Sandra Cano, Bernard Nathanson, John Bruchalski and so many others have come to the pro-life cause after repenting of their involvement in abortion, whether it was their own abortions, abortion practices, or political/legal work.

Yes, we want to see abortion illegal so that it is stigmatized, and society can heal from the rift in Natural Law caused by legalized abortion.  Yes, we want to save babies’ lives.  Yes, those who are consciously and deliberately involved in abortion–and unrepentant–should be punished for it. 

Those who lack full moral responsibility, however, should be given clemency and understanding.  Those who have repented and turned over a new leaf should be given the benefit of the doubt.  They remain, objectively, murderers, but the real question is whether they will murder again.

There is no better illustration of this than a conundrum presented regarding George W. Bush when he was still Governor of Texas, a situation that puzzled liberals to no end.  It was the case where a woman on death row in Texas had converted to Christianity, repented of her crimes and showed a complete remorse.  Pro-life Christians argued that she should not be subject to the death penalty, and even that she should be released.

“Our God is the God of second chances.”

That’s what Christianity is all about: repentance of sins:

Here’s what Sarah Palin Actually *said* about “Death Panels”

OK.  So Obama has created the talking point over the past several days that has led many, even many the right, to disparage Sarah Palin’s “death panels” comment as being over-the-top, inaccurate, etc. 

As I’ve discussed in several recent posts, the Liberals have based their claim of inaccuracy on the idea that Palin is talking about “end of life” care counseling.  I have speculated, having not read the actual speech till just now, that she wasn’t even talking about that, and she wasn’t.  Even if she *were*, as I’ve previously discussed, end of life care, as they call it, goes against Christian principles.

But Palin was not talking about that. She was talking about the standards for “triage” and health care rationing.  Here’s the text:

As more Americans delve into the disturbing details of the nationalized health care plan that the current administration is rushing through Congress, our collective jaw is dropping, and we’re saying not just no, but hell no!

The Democrats promise that a government health care system will reduce the cost of health care, but as the economist Thomas Sowell has pointed out, government health care will not reduce the cost; it will simply refuse to pay the cost. And who will suffer the most when they ration care? The sick, the elderly, and the disabled, of course. The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.

Health care by definition involves life and death decisions. Human rights and human dignity must be at the center of any health care discussion.

Rep. Michele Bachmann highlighted the Orwellian thinking of the president’s health care advisor, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, the brother of the White House chief of staff, in a floor speech to the House of Representatives. I commend her for being a voice for the most precious members of our society, our children and our seniors.

We must step up and engage in this most crucial debate. Nationalizing our health care system is a point of no return for government interference in the lives of its citizens. If we go down this path, there will be no turning back. Ronald Reagan once wrote, “Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth.” Let’s stop and think and make our voices heard before it’s too late.

Where in the speech does she say anything about forced euthanasia?  She is talking about denial of services to those who are deemed unworthy, something that Rahm Emmanuel, Tom Daschle and others have all advocated.
Health care by definition involves life and death decisions. Human rights and human dignity must be at the center of any health care discussion.

Rep. Michele Bachmann highlighted the Orwellian thinking of the president’s health care advisor, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, the brother of the White House chief of staff, in a floor speech to the House of Representatives. I commend her for being a voice for the most precious members of our society, our children and our seniors.

We must step up and engage in this most crucial debate. Nationalizing our health care system is a point of no return for government interference in the lives of its citizens. If we go down this path, there will be no turning back. Ronald Reagan once wrote, “Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth.” Let’s stop and think and make our voices heard before it’s too late.

Here’s an article on what Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, Rahm’s brother, advocates in terms of health rationing.

Some blogs are suggesting that Palin’s speech was inaccurate because such “death panels” are not in the Bill.  But they *were* in the Bill and were struck down.  Either way, as I said in my last post, it’s the slippery slope.  Why do we want to open the door to these people to allow it? 

One of the things we’re told about the alleged evil of insurance companies is about denial of services to those who need them most.  Does anyone really think the government is that altruistic????  Does anyone really think the government will do better?  Does anyone really think that, when Medicare and Medicaid already have absurd rules for what services they’ll pay for, that a new government insurance plan will be any better?

I have been online since 1997.  I’ve been on message boards, listserves, blogs, Facebook, etc.  I’ve argued these issues time and again with people.  I know my view is an unpopular one with most people, including may self-styled conservatives and many self-styled Catholics.

This is why I know we need Sarah Palin in the public square . We need someone who is a voice against the attitudes about the disabled and those who have genetic disorders, etc. 

I know what it is to grow up in pain, knowing that death is always potentially around the corner.

I know what it is to be ridiculed for being different.

I know what it is to be told that I’m not worthy of being alive. 

I know that liberals and many who call themselves conservatives take it as a given that it is cruel to “knowingly” allow a child to be born with a genetic disorder.  Most people presume that people with genetic disorders should never reproduce, and that people who get in utero diagnoses of genetic defects should have abortions. 

This is how they think.  It’s not just my experience from one or two conversations.  It’s what I’ve heard from every liberal I’ve ever argued with, and from many a yuppie graduate of Franciscan University or Christendom College (though they cover up their eugenicist mentality with perpetual continence or NFP). 

They say these things.  Their “experts” say these things.  The countries that already have government-run health care do these things or are working towards them.  Then, when we call them on it, they say we’re lying!

Here’s a piece on Peter Singer’s contribution to the Death Panel debate.

Here’s a piece on Obama’s appeals to “faith based” Groups to win support for socialism and to redirect the debate on health rationing.

Here’s an article by a disabiltiy group that agrees with Sarah.

Here’s a Wall Street Journal piece on how rationing is central to Obamacare (HT Below the Beltway)

Here’s an article about GE’s role in promoting health rationing.

Here’s an article about how the death panel already exists: it’s the “Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research,” which was part of the “stimulus” bill. 

According to George Will, the draft report on the so-called stimulus bill states the CER will identify medical “items, procedures, and interventions” that it deems insufficiently effective or excessively expensive. They “will no longer be prescribed” by federal health programs.

This is especially ironic, since one of the original purposes of the federal government getting involved in medical research was the Orphan Drug Act: federally funding research deemed to be too commercially unviable.

Here’s a blog piece from July which points to the rationing provisions in the House plan.

The Exorcism of Lila Rose?

Young Pro-Life Vigilante “Lila Rose” has gained notoriety the past several years for various “undercover ops” involving Planned Parenthood: recording conversations with donation collectors, posing as a teenaged girl pregnant through rape or incest and seeing if Planned Parenthood reported it, video taping the counseling sessions, etc.

Some of these “sting operations” have gone to a bit of an extreme in forcing the Planned Parenthood employees to say things they probably wouldn’t have said or done.  Planned Parenthood has claimed she’s illegally recorded the conversations.

In the meantime, Lila Rose has become a young hero  to pro-lifers, and she has recently converted to Catholicism, apparently.

Well, my friend Joe Hargrave has raised an interesting take on the morality of her actions, and his observations deserve some thought.  Deal Hudson has offered a rebuttal, which also deserves some thought.

Haven’t read all the comments on either discussion, but I’d like to offer several observations:

1.  I come down pretty hard on people.   Years ago, Mary suggested I should start using, when anonymity was called for, the nickname “God’s Gadfly,” after one of my favorite passages in Plato.  The Prophet Socrates, in the Apology (also one of the two places where he predicts the coming of Christ), says he is a “gadfly” sent by god (specifically Apollo, since he discerned his vocation from an oracle at Delphi) to annoy the Athenians and rouse them from their complacency and make them examine themselves.  Much like Socrates, who was always looking for a wise man, and Diogenes, who was always looking for an honest man, I’m always looking for an honest Catholic.

But that I mean not just “orthodox”–and not even necessarily 100% orthodox–but someone who’s actually committed to living the Gospel, at least in theory, 100%.  Someone who tries as best as possible not to let worldly attachments cloud his or her judgement.

From my experience reading his writings and communicating with him online, Joe Hargrave is one of those rare people.  He is seriously seeking Truth. 

Years ago, I read Bob Casey’s memoir Fighting for Life. For several reasons, I think it makes an interesting bookend to Russell Kirk’s The Conservative Mind, because, if you define “conservative” by the definition Kirk gives in his magnum opus, then Bob Casey is definitely a liberal.

Now, deriiving from my own views of politics pre-Kirk, and definitely after reading Kirk, I came to the following delineation of the basic differences between a “conservative” and a “liberal”. While the terms originally referred to economics, or refer to customs, or whatever, I use them, as Kirk basically does, to refer to interpretation of law.

Kirk says that conservatives are, by nature, pessimistic about human nature, while liberals are optimistic. Conservatives expect people to do bad. They want government to punish wrongdoing, but they generally want government to be restricted because people run the government, and people are prone to corruption. Liberals are optimistic. They think people are fundamentally good, and they think that various social reforms are the way to solve the problem of evil.

For various reasons, the Culture Wars most obviously, but my interpretation of subsidiarity and other church teachings included, I have always been a conservative. As I noted the other day, Michael Jackson and Madonna and MTV deserve a lot of the credit for that, as I was naturally repulsed by them as a kid, and didn’t understand why other kids’ parents weren’t as strict as my parents were, why they let their kids watch that junk.

Based upon the above description, I have long believed that Catholics should be conservatives because, if nothing else, of original sin. Our belief in human concupiscence fits nicely with the conservative paradigm.

OTOH, Bob Casey’s memoir/manifesto shows what I think a true “liberal Catholic” should be like. He was equally concerned with moral issues as I was, but he had a more optimistic view of human nature, and therefore of the role of government. It would have been interesting to debate with him on that one point. In practice, I saw my views converging with many of Casey’s, but in theory ,we were polar opposites.

So, Joe Hargrave is the closest person I’ve met to a “Bob Casey”. He’s fundamentally liberal, because he’s an optimist. But on most practical political issues, we agree.

2. While I’m searching for an “honest Catholic,” I’m always willing to grow myself. I’m willing to entertain new perspectives, provided that it all fits. I have many times, over the years, completely changed my views on particular issues when I’ve found the Church taught differently than what I thought–or, more precisely, when I’ve found out the Church has a teaching on that subject (and didn’t realize it previously).

Liberal Catholics often say, “Read the Social Justice Encyclicals.” Unlike many Catholic political conservatives, I *have* read several of them, and excerpts or summaries of all, and I’ve found that, while I am no longer a laissez-faire capitalist, I am not a socialist, either. I am a Chestertonian distributivist.

While Kirk refuses to accept Chesterton as a conservative, Kirk’s view is that conservatives should shun economic ideology in favor of economic pragmatism, and he is equally critical of both capitalists and socialists.

But while I’m willing to grow, there are often issues that come up where we really haven’t given them much thought.

Torture is one such issue. I never gave it much thought, one way or the other, till the past few years.
Now, the issue of lying as an intrinsic evil has been circulating the blogosphere, and Joe has raised the question in regard to Lila Rose–and, by extension, in regard to anyone who does “undercover work”?

Can you lie in the service of undercover work?

3. Deal Hudson responds with a similar view to what he’s posited on waterboarding. Killing is intrinsically evil. So, if it’s just or justifiable to do that intrinsic evil in certain circumstances (war, death penalty, self defense), why isn’t it just to do certain other intrinsic evils in similar circumstances? Of course, this carries a dangerous slope with it: for example, that contraception is justifiable under such circumstances. I will be gettin back to that issue whenever I resume my Iraq series.

4. A story: our old OB/Gyn in VA once told us about a “crazy Iranian abortionist” he knew. He was Irish, and his narrative seemed to be missing some points. He said this abortionist showed up one time in the delivery room wielding a handgun while he was delivering the baby of one of the abortionist’s former clients. I forget why, exactly.

Anyway, he also said the guy’s clinic in Richmond was shut down after several accusations of fraud were made against him. An undercover cop went in one day. The abortionist came in and said, “You’re pregnant. Want an abortion?”
The cop said, “That was a urine sample from my male partner. I’m a cop, and you’re under arrest.”

Well, would *that* be morally justifiable?

5. The real question Joe’s post raises is whether undercover work is permissible at all. Then there’s the question of whether vigilante overcover work is justified.

6. Then there’s the Catechism’s extreme position on lying, especially given the lies that prelates themselves often engage in.

7. Another anecdote. I heard an African bishop tell this story in an EWTN homily. Two Christian men were running from some pagans who wanted to kill them. They met an old farmer and said, “Grandfather, some men want to kill us! Please hide us!” So the old farmer told them to hide under a bale of hay. The soldiers arrived. “Did you see two men?” they asked.
“Yes,” said the old man. “They’re hiding under that bale of hay.”
“Fool! How dare you mock us?!” they cried, striking him to the ground.
The soldiers left. The fugitives came out from under the hay.
“Why did you tell whem where we were?”
“I knew they wouldn’t believe I was telling the truth,” he said. “The truth will set you free.”

7.