10 Most Cited Arguments In Favor of the Mandate

Monday, March 5, 2012 \AM\.\Mon\.

[ed note: This is a helpful write-up of some brief arguments against the HHS mandate that a friend of mine wrote up. She allowed me to share it with you, so enjoy!]

I am a Catholic, unmarried, left-leaning centrist, female, 20-something, law student. Not only does this mean that I enjoy those oft-avoided subjects of religion and politics, it also means that no matter what the topic is, I am sure to be able to point you to an entire circle of my friends that will argue with me to the death. Very enthusiastically, in fact.

The Obama/HHS Mandate is the perfect example. Within my various circles, and across the nation, this mandate has simultaneously sparked debate about religious beliefs, Constitutional freedom, political party divides, and the issue of women’s rights, to name a few. These discussions result in recurring arguments made in support of the mandate which have a tendency to surface regardless of which issue was the catalyst of that particular debate. And so, in light of that fact, I present to you the un-official list of the ten most cited arguments made in support of the mandate, and why every one of them fails.

 10.   “The Church is just opposed to universal healthcare!”

I’ve got news for you: the Catholic Church actively advocates for universal health care. In fact, the Church teaches that health care is a right, not merely a privilege, as articulated by Pope John XXIII in Pacem in Terris (Peace on Earth) in 1963. At an international Papal conference on health care in 2010, Pope Benedict XVI stated that it is the “moral responsibility of nations to guarantee access to health care for all of their citizens, regardless of social and economic status or their ability to pay.” Want more evidence? Look no further than the Catholic Catechism (n. 2288), or the U. S. Bishops’ pastoral letter, “Economic Justice for All” (1986) (nn. 86, 90, 103, 191, 212, 230, 247, and 286.) The examples are countless, and the Church’s official teaching is clear. The issue is not that the Obama administration seeks to provide access to healthcare, the issue is that it wants to compel religiously-affiliated employers to provide health care coverage that runs counter to core doctrinal beliefs.

 9.     “Contraception is used for purposes other than avoiding pregnancy, and sterilizing procedure are sometimes necessary to treat medical illness; therefore the Church has no reason to refuse to provide health care that includes contraception and sterilization for those purposes!” 

It is true that the birth control pill can serve the secondary purpose of treating the symptoms of poly cystic ovary syndrome, endometriosis, and even moderate to severe acne.  However, there are many medical alternatives to the pill. The Pope Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction specializes in such alternative treatments. The Church is happy to provide health care coverage for these.  As for sterilization, suppose a woman had a hysterectomy to remove a cancerous uterus. The intention of the operation was to remove the cancer, not to sterilize her. The sterilization was an unfortunate but intended consequence. As Pope Paul VI said in Humanae Vitae, “The Church… does not at all consider illicit the use of those therapeutic means truly necessary to cure diseases of the organism, even if an impediment to procreation, which may be foreseen, should result therefrom, provided such impediment is not, for whatever motive, directly willed.”

 Unfortunately, the HHS Mandate does not allow religiously affiliated businesses and organizations to provide these procedures only in these limited circumstances of medical necessity. If it did, this conversation might be different. In fact, Catholic universities that exist in states where coverage is mandatory, such as the Franciscan University of Steubenville, University of Dallas, and University of Notre Dame, provide that coverage only when medically necessary. The HHS mandate makes no exception to allow for the Church to freely exercise its religious beliefs by making this distinction.

 

 8. This is more of a category of arguments that all basically say the same thing: the Church is trying to trump the Constitution. Most often phrased:

“You Catholics are trying to tear down the wall between church and state again! THAT is the Constitutional violation we should be concerned about.”

-OR-

“The Church is trying to force its belief system on everyone in the US and effectively establish Catholicism as the religion of the nation. So much for ‘Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion…’”

          

First of all, let’s clarify something. The phrase “separation of church and state” does not exist in the Constitution or in any of the nation’s founding documents. Rather it originated in a letter from Thomas Jefferson in response to the Danbury Baptist Association, which was concerned about the implications of the 1st Amendment on religious freedom. Reassuring the Baptist Association, Jefferson explained that the 1st Amendment effectuated a separation between church and state in order to protect religious groups from interference by the government. This foundational purpose of the Religion Clauses of the Constitution continues to be reaffirmed by the courts. In fact, the Supreme Court unanimously echoed this respect for religious autonomy less than a month ago in Hosanna-Tabor v. E.E.O.C..  In their concurring opinion, Justices Alito and Kagan noted that “[t]o safeguard this crucial autonomy, we have long recognized that the Religion Clauses protect a private sphere within which religious bodies are free to govern themselves in accordance with their own beliefs. The Constitution guarantees religious bodies ‘independence from secular control or manipulation—in short, power to decide for themselves, free from state interference, matters of church government as well as those of faith and doctrine.’”

With that said, the Church is not seeking to abolish this “separation of church and state.” In fact, in an essay written in First Things in 2006 by Pope Benedict XVI, he recognized the importance of this dual autonomy. He notes that the United States, “formed on the basis of free churches, adopts a separation between church and state” and hails this as being what the early church had in mind. The Church is not seeking to eliminate the rights granted by the 1st Amendment or somehow attempting to override the Constitution and establish Catholicism as some sort of national religion. Far from it. The Church simply opposes the government’s attempt to cross that line by forcing the Church to chose between obeying the law and violating her conscious. The 1st Amendment prevents the government from forcing citizens to make this choice. Plain and simple.

 7.     “Universal, free access to birth control will mean fewer unwanted pregnancies, and thus fewer abortions. The Church should be happy!” 

First, birth control pills are potentially abortive in-and-of themselves because one function of several varieties of “the Pill” is to thin and shrivel the lining of the uterus so that it is unable or less able to facilitate the implantation of the newly fertilized egg. Because life begins at conception, pills that prevent a fertilized egg from implanting on the uterine wall in effect cause the abortion of that life.

But, secondly, even if we discount the unknowable number of lives lost in that manner, there is absolutely no evidence to support the claim that an increase in the use of birth control decreases the frequency of abortions. In fact, studies show just the opposite.

58% of all abortion patients were using contraception during the month when they became pregnant. Only 11% of abortion patients have never used a method of contraception. Moreover, studies have shown that once contraception is more widely available, abortion rates may actually rise. In Maryland, for example, the first state to enact a contraceptive mandate, the number of abortions rose by 1,226 the year after the mandate took effect. This holds true in several other countries as well.  A study in Spain analyzed data from 1997-2007. During the study period the overall use of contraceptive methods increased from 49.1% to 79.9%. The elective abortion rate increased from 5.52 to 11.49 per 1000 women.

By the way, this isn’t some kind of secret. Several professionals who promote and administer abortion freely acknowledge this link.  As merely one example, take these statements made by Malcom Potts, former director of Planned Parenthood of England:

  1. “As people turn to contraception, there will be a rise, not a fall, in the abortion rate…”  Cambridge Evening News, 7 February 1973
  2. “…those who use contraception are more likely than those who do not to resort to induced abortion…” Abortion p. 491.
  3. “No society has controlled its fertility…without recourse to a significant number of abortions.” “Fertility Rights,” The Guardian, 25 April 1979

So in reality, there is a link between the use of contraception and the abortion rate. When the first increases, so does the latter.

6.     “The government regulates religion all the time, such as when it outlaws religious practices such as ___________. (polygamy, ceremonial human sacrifice, ‘honor killings,’ etc.) This is the same thing!”

Actually, the government does not “regulate religion all the time.” It actually continuously upholds religious autonomy. In order for the federal government to step in, there is an extremely high standard that must be met: the infringement on the religion must serve a “compelling government interest” and must implement a means that is least restrictive to religious freedom in order to achieve that interest. So looking at the examples in the argument, the Constitution guarantees American citizens the right to life itself. That easily explains how the government can prohibit human sacrifice and honor killings. As for polygamous communities, the courts have recognized indisputable links between polygamous communities and substantial, repeated harms to women and children such as incest, statutory rape and sexual assault. These harms are so egregious that the government is permitted to step in to prevent these physical harms to human life. 

 5.     “If Obama amends the mandate to provide a religious exemption, that will mean that an employer who is a Jehovah’s Witness could refuse to provide health care coverage for life-saving blood transfusions because doing so would run counter to his religious beliefs. That is absurd.”

Two points. First, blood-transfusions and contraception are not interchangeable. The difference here is that a blood-transfusion is a life-saving procedure, while contraception is not. The Supreme Court has continually upheld the right of the government to step in when it is necessary to preserve life (see #2 below). Obviously, contraception does not fall within this category.  Not only does contraception fail to qualify as “life-saving”, it is an elective intervention that interferes with the functioning of healthy women’s reproductive systems. Additionally, contraceptives have numerous side-effects and risks of serious complications. The side-effects of the pill include headaches, depression, decreased libido and weight gain, and serious documented complications such as heart attacks, cervical cancer and blood clots. An ongoing a class-action lawsuit against three pharmaceutical companies alleges that a form of the pill has caused death, strokes and life-threatening blood clots.

Second, even if the courts were to say blood-transfusions and contraception were equitable, no one is talking about prohibiting/outlawing these things. The Church advocates for a religious exemption from the mandate for religiously-affiliated employers. When applying for jobs, we weigh several factors to determine which job we want. What are the hours? What is the salary? Where is the job located? What does the benefits package look like?  No one is being forced to work for a religiously-affiliated employer. We, as American citizens, have every right to either (1) work for a religiously-affiliated business, and supplement our insurance if we so choose, or (2) chose to work for an employer that provides as comprehensive of a health care plan as we desire.

 4.   “The controversy over the HHS Mandate is about contraception, not religious freedom.” 

The Bishops have gathered in very vocal resistance to this mandate, and in doing so brought to light the Church’s opposition to contraception, sterilization and abortifaceints in order to explain how this mandate would violate the religious freedom of the Catholic Church.  So while the issue of contraception itself remains at center of the headlines, the issue really is religious freedom. “This is not a matter of whether contraception may be prohibited… [or] supported by the government…It is not a matter of ‘repackaging’ or ‘framing’ this as a religious freedom dispute. It is a matter of acknowledging the basic fact that government is forcing religious people and groups to do something that violates their consciences,” (Bishop Lori of Bridgeport, CT).

 In fact, that this truly is an issue of religious freedom is evidenced by the fact that many many non-catholic, pro-contraception groups and individuals have spoken out against this mandate because of the risk it poses to religious freedom across the board. This list includes, among others, Democrats, a self-defined conservative with libertarian leanings, orthodox Jews, Lutherans, Baptists, evangelical Protestants, Anglicans, and nondenominational organizations.

 3.     “Religiously-affiliated businesses receive millions of dollars in Federal funding, therefore the government has every right to impose regulations on those businesses.  If the Church doesn’t want to be regulated, it should stay out of the business-sector altogether.” 

            Bishop Lori responded to this argument best in saying: “We don’t get a handout. We have a contract for services, and we deliver them. … We bring the generosity of the Catholic people, and we bring volunteers. When you contract with the Church, you get a bang for your buck.” If religious organizations, particularly Catholic organizations, were forced to shut down due to regulations such as the HHS mandate, this country would be astounded by the results. The Catholic Church educates 2.6 million students every day, at a cost of $10 billion a year to parents and parishes. If there were no Catholic schools, these same students would have to be educated in public schools, which would cost $18 billion to American taxpayers. In secondary education alone, the Church has more than 230 colleges and universities in the U.S. with an enrollment of 700,000 students. In terms of health care, the Church has a non-profit hospital system comprising of 637 hospitals which treat one in five patients in the United States every day. Every city and town benefits from Catholic organizations. In Chicago alone, there are hundreds of Catholic organizations that serve the needs of that city. One of those is Catholic Charities which provides 2.2 million free meals to the hungry and needy each year. That is 6,027 meals a day, in one city.  Does anyone really have any desire to see what our nation (and our taxes) would look like without these businesses and the services they provide?

 2.     “The church is trying to interfere with women’s rights!”

As Cardinal Dolan has noted, “the Church hardly needs to be lectured about health care for women.  Thanks mostly to our Sisters, the Church is the largest private provider of health care for women and their babies in the country…. [I]n New York State, Fidelis, the Medicare/Medicaid insurance provider, owned by the Church, consistently receives top ratings for its quality of service to women and children.”

When right are granted to you by your governing nation, you expect them to provide it. Your children have a right to an education, and thus the right to attend public school at no additional cost. You do not march up to the main office at a private school and demand that they let your child in, free of charge, because they have a right to an education. Similarly, if you cannot afford to put food on your table, you have a right to ask the government to provide for you through welfare, but you don’t have the right to walk into a restaurant and demand that they feed you.  The government can and should provide access to health care for all citizens, but that requires actually providing it, not shifting the responsibility to private employers. The Obama Administration has decided that women employees have the right to health care coverage that provides contraception. The problem with the government forcing business-owners to provide that “right” to society is that the scope of governmental authority is limited by the rights and freedoms that protect individual business owners. If the administration really wants to provide comprehensive, universal health care, it needs to do so itself without involving private entities.

 1.      “98% of Catholics don’t abide by this core doctrine of the Catholic faith; therefore, it should not be entitled to First Amendment protection.”

First and foremost, that statistic is absurd. Seriously, 98%?  I am with Glenn Back on this one, “I mean, when your poll looks like the results from a Saddam Hussein election, you know you have problems.” Among other issues, the study that touts this statistic doesn’t include: anyone who isn’t a Catholic woman between the ages of 14-44, anyone who is pregnant, anyone who gave birth recently, anyone who hadn’t had sex in the past three months, anyone trying to get pregnant or was indifferent to getting pregnant, anyone having sex and trying to avoid pregnancy without implementing a specific contraception method. It did, however, include self-identified Catholics who listed their church attendance rate as less than once a month, or never. Actually, 2 in every 5 of those polled fell into this category. But I digress.

Even if 98% of Catholics used contraception, that fact would have no bearing whatsoever on the fact that the doctrinal beliefs and teachings of the Catholic faith have never wavered on this issue, a fact that illustrates the strength and conviction of the Church. As one Evangelical Lutheran put it, “That a Roman Pontiff would lead the opposition – often painfully alone – to contraception at the end of the twentieth century is no small irony. Perhaps the Catholic hierarchy model, reserving final decisions on matters of faith and morals to a bishop whom Catholics believe is the successor of Peter, has proved more resilient in the face of modernity than the Protestant reliance on individual conscious and democratic church governance.” 

The Church’s beliefs are clear. Whether or not individuals choose to disobey the Church’s directives does not change the fact that “the First Amendment stands tightly closed against any governmental regulation of religious beliefs.” (Stated in the Supreme Court’s 8-1 Johnson v. Robison decision.) 

 

 

 

 


TAC College Rankings: Week 10

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 \PM\.\Tue\.

This post is dedicated to my beautiful wife Shannon. On Tuesday, she gave birth to our son, Benedict Michael. Do you know where she wanted me on Saturday? In Death Valley, watching LSU end Alabama’s dreams of a national title. It need not be said that I love my wife, very, very, very, very much.

With LSU’s glorious victory and TCU’s pasting of Utah in Salt Lake, the national title race has narrowed down considerably. The Big 12, with Oklahoma’s loss to the Aggies and the near loss by the Cornhuskers to freaking Iowa St., will almost certainly not send a team to the BCS title game. I imagine the same will also be true for the Big 10, though I suspect Ohio St. has the best chance of proving me wrong there. Still, the Big 10 will likely get 2 BCS bids, which is not too shabby.

To me, there are 5 teams in contention: Oregon, Auburn, TCU and Boise being the obvious, with LSU still an outside shots. For LSU, they’d need 2 out of the 3 of the Ducks, WarPlainsTigersEagleMen, or Horned Frogs to lose. I don’t think LSU needs Boise to lose. Before you call me a homer, look at the computer rankings. LSU is already above Boise in the computers and we have an opportunity to improve that ranking when we play Arkansas. The human polls may revolt against LSU if it gets close (b/c they really don’t like the idea of LSU playing for the title) but there are plausible scenarios where LSU makes it in-even if LSU doesn’t win the SEC. Of course, if LSU jumps Boise without winning the SEC, there will be a riot. While I expect Oregon to remain undefeated, the other three undefeated have at least one more test left. Auburn, a team weak against the pass, has to face AJ Green and Julio Jones (as well as possible Florida). Boise still has Nevada, and TCU has to avoid the let-down game against a San Diego St. that’s 7-2 and getting some votes in the polls. It ain’t over yet, and it’s so much fun!

This would all be simpler if the NCAA did its job and declared Cam Newton ineligible. Seriously, do you think he decided to not play for Dan Mullen b/c he was impressed with Gene Chizik’s record at Iowa St.? The whole thing stinks, and someone is going to get busted for it. It would be a tragedy if the NCAA waited to finish this investigation until it’s too late (i.e. after the SEC title game).

When on earth did the Big 10 decide to play like the PAC-10? I’m looking at you, Michigan & Illinois. At least the Big 10 has a bunch of bowl eligible teams. Speaking of teams that may not get into bowls, what happened to Texas? We knew it’d be a down year, but losses to Baylor, Iowa St. & Kansas St? At least Texas fans can watch their beloved Cow… oh. Same goes to Notre Dame. They have to win 2 out of 3 against the Utes, USC, and Army. While I’ll be rooting for them against the Utes and USC (yeah, this is the time of year where I root solely to hurt other teams in front of LSU. You do it too), if they don’t get in one perhaps may start considering an Obama curse. Since Notre Dame invited Obama, they haven’t been to a bowl.

Important games of the week:

San Diego St. v. TCU, Georgia v. Auburn, VT v. UNC, South Carolina v. Florida,

I may want to explain the VT v. UNC game. Boise’s big win is against VT; LSU has a win over UNC. If UNC beats VT, VT might fall from the rankings and UNC get in. While the humans may not care, the computers will, and LSU will get even stronger in the computers. Furthermore, a VT team with 3 losses, including the one to James Madison, isn’t going to motivate voters to support Boise. On the other hand, a VT team that goes through the ACC undefeated with only another loss that’s almost excusable (you’re an idiot scheduling a Sat. game after a Mon night game, even if it is James Madison) is a very strong win. Combined with wins against Nevada, Boise would have a very strong case to make it in if people start losing ahead of them.

Alright, let’s get to the rankings!

Read the rest of this entry »


Rep. Cao’s Defeat

Thursday, November 4, 2010 \PM\.\Thu\.

If I said anything about the election in general, I’d probably be wrong. At about 9:17 pm, while everyone else was watching election returns, I was at the hospital, meeting 7 lb. 14.9 oz. little Benedict Denton (Luckily for you, I’m not one of those dads who posts absurd quantities of pictures of his irresistibly adorably cute son). So  I didn’t really give a damn about the election (though I did vote in it), nor did I glean much other than the GOP performed in the mid-range of everyone’s expectations, and that the coming of the Tea Party was overrated. The latter is all that really matters to me, as I expect it will have consequences for the GOP candidate in 2012 (sorry Palin). I’ll leave it to others to craft the results to fit nicely in their gradiose theories about the inevitable victory of their political persuasion.

The only race I did care about was Louisiana’s 2nd district in which La. Rep. Joseph Cao lost to Democrat Cedric Richmond. It was one of the bright spots of the Democrat’s night, but it was entirely expected as Cao only won two years ago b/c most of the Bill Jefferson’s voters didn’t know he hadn’t already won the election. Cao always was an odd-ball, with his significant votes coming in the healthcare debate. A Catholic who cared deeply about the opinion of the bishops, he voted for the healthcare bill with the Stupak language and then, recognizing that without abortion would be funded, changed his vote.

His votes made everyone uncomfortable. The Republicans didn’t like their unanimous front being broken. The Democrats didn’t like the stinging rebuke on their lies about abortion funding in the bill. In heavily Democratic 2nd district, Cao was almost certainly giving up any chance of re-election in order to vote for life.

It was no surprise that Cao received almost no national support, even from some “Catholic” organizations. What may be surprising is who came down hard opposing Cao: Pres. Barack Obama. Two years after promising to change the tone in Washington, Obama campaigned hard for a indisputably corrupt Democrat against the only bi-partisan Republican in Congress. Hope & Change? hardly.

This makes me question whether Americans are telling the truth when they claim they want a less partisan Congress. We say we’re tired of the stupid games, but we don’t support the candidates who fight to change that. I’m not talking here about RINOs or other candidates who lie through their teeth about their true positions. I have no problem giving them the boot. I’m talking about candidates who don’t like up perfectly with their parties but are honest about the differences. Candidates who are willing to work with those outside the party for the good of their constituencies, not those working to get a plug for the New York Times.

So if don’t want Cao, and we claim to not like the status quo, then what do we want?


TAC College Football Rankings

Tuesday, November 2, 2010 \AM\.\Tue\.

This week is Bama week for the rest of LSU, but it’s also Baby Denton week for me. TCU & Boise have their toughest conference tests so far this week.

In an interesting stat note, the SEC West has as many bowl-eligible teams as any other conference. If any SEC West team gets through with just one loss, they have to get in (though I expect LSU will have a harder time b/c of reputation than Bama or Auburn). All in all, the tests for the top teams are dwindling; most have only one or two tough games between them.  Read the rest of this entry »


Prayer Request

Tuesday, October 26, 2010 \PM\.\Tue\.

Henry Karlson’s father has died, and he has requested prayers. Please take some time to pray for the soul of his father and for the comfort of the family.


TAC NFL Rankings: Week 7

Tuesday, October 26, 2010 \PM\.\Tue\.

With Romo and Favre injured, we’re a Big Ben injury in the Superdome away from knocking out the axis of ESPN evil of NFL quarterbacks.

The NFC continues to be a mystery. The Saints dropped an ugly one to the Browns, yet still can make an argument to be the best team in the conference. I think the NFC will be decided by who gets hot at the end-and that’s anybody’s guess.

The AFC looks pretty stout, though the injuries to Clark and Collie that killed my previously beautiful fantasy team give the Colts something extra to worry about.

Again, Tito is honeymooning so no rankings from him. However, if you want crazy, I’m still ranking the Saints, so enjoy.

Read the rest of this entry »


TAC College Rankings: Week 8

Monday, October 25, 2010 \PM\.\Mon\.

There are few reasons a baseball team’s logo leads this week’s post, not the least of which being the Rangers victory that knocked out the Yankees was the last worthwhile sports thing that happened for me this weekend. I had 7 and a half hours of hideously ugly football.

I digress a bit to express my hatred for CBS’s announcers Gary & Verne. Although I am pleased that they have found a replacement after Tim Tebow broke their hearts by both leaving the SEC and by not marrying them, I didn’t near to hear that much about Cam Newton. I’d say more, but this is a family blog. LSU fans now are clamoring for Bama tickets just so they don’t have to hear this duo ever again, and many across the SEC share our pain.

However, my purple and gold brethren were not alone in our pain. The Sooners lost their bid for a perfect season (As did their in-state rivals, but they barely beat The RajunBullCajundogs of ULL so it was to be expected). Texas lost to Iowa St.; Notre Dame got destroyed by Navy. Not a good weekend for most of the powerhouses.

With Texas’s & Oklahoma’s loss, unless Missouri dazzles it’s harder to see the Big 12 getting into the title game. Oregon’s destruction of UCLA makes the Texas win by Oklahoma less shiny (as does Air Force’s loss to TCU) and weakens the conference overall. If Auburn and Bama don’t lose again until the Iron Bowl, they will both have impressive resumes. The Big 10/1/2 has an undefeated Michigan St. team that has only a test against Iowa left to seriously challenge them. TCU also had an impressive victory over Air Force.

The Heisman looks to be Newton’s to lose, but if Auburn sleeps against either Ole Miss or Georgia, a loss could devastate their national title & Heisman hopes. While wins are nice, in a season like this sometimes the losses are more important.

Now to the rankings. No Tito this week, as he is presumably honeymooning in the blue fields of Idaho. Yet, we still have the bizarrest rankings yet. Enjoy.

Read the rest of this entry »


Reading Between the Hats

Wednesday, October 20, 2010 \AM\.\Wed\.

Pope Benedict XVI has announced the 24 men who will become cardinals next month. There are two Americans in the group: Archbishop Burke of St. Louis and Archbishop Wuerl of Washington D.C.

It seems pretty clear that this is, in part, a stinging loss for those Catholics on the left who have attempted to deride Burke and other hardline Catholics on the abortion issue as being “out of touch with the Vatican.” Obviously, Burke’s viewpoints are not so distasteful and Calvinist to the Pope. Considering how vocal Burke has been on the issue, it would stretch credulity to think that the Pope did not think that Burke’s interpretation of the meaning of the abortion issue in the voting decision is an acceptable Catholic position.

However, with the appointment of Wuerl the pope seems to be suggesting that Burke’s position is not the only one. In a papacy that has confounded left and right, the pope does so again by elevating one of the more vocal bishops on determining withholding of communion on an individual basis in regards to pro-abortion politicians. Wuerl was however also extremely vocal in opposing DC’s move to same-sex marriage.

While neither “side” can claim victory with these two appointments, what has been defeated is the idea that the Vatican has a right answer. That the Vatican secretly disdains all these Republican voters or that the Pope wishes he could excommunicate everyone cannot be held except by the severest of ideologues. Instead, the Pope is sending a message that, as he did in Caritas in Veritate, he wants the different sides of the aisle in American to be dialoguing with each other and this debate, far from being an example of silly American politics, may be one that the rest of the world needs to be engaged in. So while neither side can claim victory, both sides seem to be encouraged in coming to the table to present their arguments.


TAC NFL Rankings, Week 6

Tuesday, October 19, 2010 \PM\.\Tue\.

Parity continues to reign. We’re starting to get the idea that in the NFC, it’ll probably be an NFC South showdown between the Dirty Birds of Atlanta and the Saints who finally had an offensive breakthrough this week, and the Giants and Eagles playing spoilers. However, the AFC looks to be far beyond the NFC.

To the rankings! Read the rest of this entry »


TAC College Football Poll: Week 7

Monday, October 18, 2010 \PM\.\Mon\.

We’re not at 2007 levels of chaos yet. True, Louisiana Tech did beat Idaho and that’s shocking. There even was some trouble in Lincoln and Madison, and the Vandals loss strikes at the core of our understanding of the college football world.

But we’re a long way from the “#1 is the spot of death” reality we had in 2007. However, it is weird. Oklahoma is #1 in the BCS, and not many believe in them (though their resume isn’t bad). Not many undefeated teams have believers other than Oregon and maybe team Cam Newton. Plenty have doubters (LSU-the hat is crazy Boise & TCU need to join a conference, and Missouri is really undefeated?). We now have a class of one-loss teams with serious title considerations (bama & Ohio St. leading the pack).

How it shakes out is anybody’s guess, but with two matchups of undefeated (LSU v. Auburn; Oklahoma v. Missouri) we hope to learn a lot this week.

What seems like a foregone conclusion though is that Boise St. & TCU may be left out. Although the trouble at the top gave more teams losses, the losses by Nevada, Oregon St., and Air Force will hurt them more than the losses by Nebraska & Ohio St. help. Good wins are precious and decide who gets to go to the title game, especially in the BCS computers.

Everyone ranked this week, so let’s get to it!  Read the rest of this entry »


TAC Pro Rankings Week 5(Updated)

Friday, October 15, 2010 \AM\.\Fri\.

It’s Friday, so it’s our normally scheduled time for pro football rankings! Ok, this is a few days late, but I had a monstrous week.

That’s something almost all NFL teams have dealt with. Everyone know has a loss, and most of those losses weren’t pretty. A few teams are really plagued with injuries (Packers & Saints), a few teams look really overrated (Vikes & Cowgirls), and a few teams puzzle (Pats & Colts). Where this end up is anyone’s guess, as this is a year for parity.  Read the rest of this entry »


3 Catholic Hospitals To Close Allegedly Because Of Obamacare?

Monday, October 11, 2010 \PM\.\Mon\.

CatholicVote is mounting a campaign to bring attention to 3 Catholic Hospitals that are closing. The CEO said that ObamaCare “absolutely” factored into the decision.

This is certainly a troubling concern, made more so by the allegations that the White House, the local media, and Sr. Keehan have tried their best to quiet the story.

However, one has to be cautious. The report that CV apparently relies on is based on a doctor’s opinion-a doctor that does not appear to have any knowledge of the actual discussions at the hospitals in question. This unnamed doctor alleges that it is due to Obamacare restricting the ability of the hospital to collect Medicare reimbursements and thereby making its debt unbearable.

Read the rest of this entry »


TAC College Football Rankings: Week 6

Monday, October 11, 2010 \AM\.\Mon\.

There are few stories, if any, better in college football than Jarrett Lee. A guy booed off the field in 2007 for his INTs, including a game where he got crushed in the Swamp, comes back to lead LSU to come from behind wins against Tennessee and then again at the Swamp. The Mad Hatter is 6-0.

Mad props to South Carolina. Used the bye week to perfection and embarrassed a team last week had their fans booking trips to Glendale.

Finally, some real chaos. Bama’s lost their margin for error. Ohio St., Oregon, and Nebraska look like the favorites to finish undefeated in their conferences. LSU & Auburn remain undefeated in the SEC. Oklahoma and Michigan St. also remain underdogs to win out their conference. And the BCS Busters remain undefeated (Boise St., TCU, & Utah). Apparently, Boise St. is likely to be #1 when the BCS comes out next week but truly only LSU & Auburn control their own destiny.

So who gets #1? Is a one-loss Bama team better than an undefeated BCS Buster? This is a week to fight over the rankings, so let’s get to them after this reminder that LSU inspires its fans to pursue holiness!

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TAC Pro Football Rankings: Week 4

Tuesday, October 5, 2010 \PM\.\Tue\.

Is anyone any good? Jeesh, I know Texas is a horrible place to visit, but surely the Superbowl is worth the incursion? After all, Louisiana is right next door.

Last year was year of the Titans, with the Colts, Vikings, and Saints clearly in another league. This year, everyone has significant problems. The Colts have dropped 2 games. Favre wants to go back to Miss. The Saints have a plethora of injuries and the offense hasn’t looked great.

Each team seems to have an inexplicable loss on their record. The Jets opener against the Ravens, the Pack’s loss to the Bears, etc. After Week 4, you have a pretty good sense usually of where everybody stands. Everyone has significant improvements that need to be made; the question is who can make them in time to get into the playoffs, as it seems that unlike last year, once you’re in the playoffs it’s anybody’s game.

To the rankings!

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TAC College Football Rankings: Week 5

Monday, October 4, 2010 \PM\.\Mon\.

Update: There was a glitch that prevented the rankings from showing. The glitch is fixed and the rankings are up.

You may be wondering why there is a big picture of the Blessed Mother to lead off the post. It’s simple. I and the rest of us clad in purple & gold owe her. Big time. On the 4th down play and the last play of the game (both of them), I was furiously saying the Hail Mary in the LSU student section. If those flags aren’t miraculous intercession, I don’t know what is. I have prayed like that during a game twice-the NFC championship game against the Vikings and the LSU v. Auburn game in 2007 (Byrd’s catch with a second left-the most beautiful pass & catch I’ve seen in Death Valley). These Tigers are going to kill me, and even though they should have slaughtered the Vols, that was a rare and fun experience.

In the rest of the college football world, we now have clear front-runners in the top 2 conferences. Oregon will need a major upset to lose the PAC-10, and Alabama made quite a statement to the rest of the SEC West. In the Big 12, Oklahoma looks to take the Big 12 South with the win in the Red River Rivalry. The Big 10 is still wide open, and the ACC is anyone’s guess.

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CatholicVote & Endorsements

Thursday, September 30, 2010 \AM\.\Thu\.

The folks of CatholicVote had some objections to my post Tuesday. Brian Burch had this to say in the comment box:

Thanks Michael for your post, though I am compelled to respond and disagree with much of what you and others have written. I do believe that the questions you raise are highly relevant to the conversation occurring within the Church today about the proper role of the laity in public life, and especially American politics. I should also note for those that don’t know, Michael has been, and continues to be, a guest blogger on CatholicVote.org and we continue to welcome his contributions (and disagreements) on our site should he choose to cross post there.

CatholicVote.org was founded specifically to champion the cause of faithful citizenship from a distinctly lay perspective. As such, we seek to serve the Church by assisting the laity with material, catechetical resources, news and commentary, and tools for evangelization (videos, ads, etc) that incorporate an authentic Catholic worldview as applied to our civic life, in pursuit of the common good. To be sure, the issues that involve intrinsic evils, or questions that involve the “non-negotiable” issues are always treated as foundational, and not open to compromise or debate for Catholics. Our programming has almost exclusively been focused on the life issue, for example.

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TAC NFL Rankings Week 3

Tuesday, September 28, 2010 \PM\.\Tue\.

Well, this has been boring, right? Steelers, Bears, and Chiefs are undefeated, just like we expected. Yawn.

Rankings…BEFORE the jump! (gotta keep you on your toes). Comments by me (MD), MJ (MJ), and Paul (PZ).

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers (4) – The most complete team in the NFL–without Big Ben (MJ)
  2. Indianapolis Colts – As is the case with Green Bay and New Orleans, one gets the sense that Indy hasn’t really kicked into high gear yet, which is just truly terrifying to ponder. (PZ)
  3. New Orleans Saints (TIE w/ Indy) – Losing a game coming off a Monday nighter on the West Coast isn’t the end of the world, but when you’re a field goal miss away from a win against the main division rival, it hurts. (MD)
  4. Green Bay Packers – Outplayed the Bears for 57 minutes (MJ)
  5. Chicago Bears – Has there ever been a softer 3-0 team?  Maybe the 2006 Bears.  They have a soft schedule coming up, so they may be able to coast by for a while, but something tells me we will be soon shown that they are indeed who we thought they were.(PZ)
  6. New York Jets – So is the secret recipe just letting Mark Sanchez throw the ball? (MJ)
  7. Atlanta Falcons – They got the win, but barely against a Saints team not at 100% (Porter, Bush out + short week). They won’t get that lucky again.
  8. Baltimore Ravens – Not sure about this team; we’ll find out this week when they play the Steelers (MD)
  9. Kansas City Chiefs – This isn’t going to last, but I can’t really keep an undefeated team out of the top ten.  Jamaal Charles is just absolutely explosive, and they need to stop giving Thomas Jones the majority of the carries.(PZ)
  10. New England Patriots – Not the best two weeks of Pats football. (MD)

Others receiving votes: Eagles & Texans

Dropping out: Texans, Dolphins, and Chargers



TAC College Football Rankings Week 4

Monday, September 27, 2010 \PM\.\Mon\.

This weekend was the first opportunity for me to rejoin my brethren in purple & gold, and enjoy the tailgating, so college football has officially begun. Notes from the week:

  • 8:15 games are lame, made more so with long TV timeouts. I didn’t get home till 1:45 (granted, I waited out the traffic at a nearby apartment but still).
  • The Big East in in trouble. No one in the Top 25, with all three marquee teams losing this weekend (WVU, Pitt, & Cincy).
  • The ACC is a mystery to me. With GT losing and UNC’s troubles, hard to pick a favorite. Miami looks good, and NC State is undefeated, but the Hokies don’t have a conference loss yet and made a good statement against BC.
  • As of right now, the SEC West has the teams ranked #1, #10, #12, and #15 in the AP poll. Your chaos of the season will ride on what happens there (as well as what happens when Florida plays some of those teams-starting this week when Bama is rewarded for its efforts v. the Hogs by meeting the stronger-looking Gators at home). You may begin an “S-E-C!” chant now.
  • Do you think Brian Kelly & Notre Shame expected to be 1-3 right now?
  • What happened to Georgia? They got creamed by Moo U. and sit firmly behind Vandy in the SEC East. Very sad.
  • The Heisman race continues to intrigue. Ingram, despite missing a few games, looks solid. Robinson was out for much of the game but looks ok. Pryor handled business, and Peterson added another special teams TD. I will say that I acted very dignified when peterson scored his TD and did the Heisman pose. And by dignified, I mean jump up and down so much that I almost knocked my sister down. However, I did resist putting that picture as the lead this week (saving it for a future week, perhaps?)
  • Right now, I think conference ranks are 1. SEC, 2. PAC-10, 3. Big-10, 4. Big 12, 5. MWC, 6. ACC, 7. Boise St. 8. Big East.
  • This week, Idaho receives no votes in the TAC poll. In a unrelated story, the TAC poll gains nation-wide credibility (love ya, tito!)

Ok, rankings after the jump.

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TAC Pro Football Rankings: Week 2

Tuesday, September 21, 2010 \PM\.\Tue\.

Week 2 provided a bit of a reality check. We found out that a few teams are far from the panic button; some, like in Minnesota and Dallas, need to be jamming the panic button.

This week we had four rankings: Tito, myself, Paul, and MJ Andrew. See the results after the jump.

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TAC College Football Rankings: Week 3

Tuesday, September 21, 2010 \AM\.\Tue\.

No upsets before midnight central standard time made for a fairly quiet rankings; this week we lined up more or less with the AP poll (though Tito and I threw it some curves). Some random thoughts of my own before the rankings:

Could we please stop with the Locker for #1 pick and Heisman? This is the second game he’s blown this year. He shouldn’t still be on a Heisman ballot. The Heisman is between Pryor, Robinson and Patrick Peterson (his interceptions this weekend were insane) at this point.

If Ole Miss had listened to their fans and made Admiral Ackbar their mascot, maybe they would have known that Vanderbilt & Jacksonville St. had the potential to be A TRAP! (Seriously, Ole Miss is terrible and Ackbar is a better choice than the moronic suggestions they’ve come up with so far to replace Johnny Reb. of course, the stupidity & lack of creativity of Ole Miss’s student body is how we got stuck with the lame “Magnolia Bowl” title between LSU & Ole Miss /rant.)

Brian Kelly is not a good coach, or at least not from what I saw Saturday night. A bizarre 4th & 1 decision to go for it in Notre Dame territory late in the 4th quarter as well as being totally unprepared for an obvious fake field goal situation makes me question Kelly. Coming from a fan who puts up with Les Miles’s gambles, that’s saying a lot.

Ok, time for the rankings! Read the rest of this entry »


Benedict at Westminster

Friday, September 17, 2010 \PM\.\Fri\.

The text of Benedict’s keynote speech on his trip to the UK is here; video of the speech can be found here.

Obviously, you read or watch the speech in its entirety, but I will present a few highlights for readers:

And yet the fundamental questions at stake in Thomas More’s trial continue to present themselves in ever-changing terms as new social conditions emerge. Each generation, as it seeks to advance the common good, must ask anew: what are the requirements that governments may reasonably impose upon citizens, and how far do they extend? By appeal to what authority can moral dilemmas be resolved? These questions take us directly to the ethical foundations of civil discourse. If the moral principles underpinning the democratic process are themselves determined by nothing more solid than social consensus, then the fragility of the process becomes all too evident – herein lies the real challenge for democracy.

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Politicians and Church Platforms

Thursday, September 16, 2010 \AM\.\Thu\.

MM is leading a campaign to protest a book-signing of Newt Gingrich’s latest book to be held at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in D.C. The book is “To Save America: Stopping Obama’s Secular-Socialist Regime” and Amazon provides a description.

For once, I agree with MM: the book-signing is a bad idea. I’m a very big believer of separation of church from state, and I don’t like the appearance that the Church is being co-opted here. The book isn’t religious; it’s political. Even if I would agree with what he says in the book, I’d rather it not be promoted by being offered at a Catholic bookstore, much less be publicized through a book-signing.

Unfortunately, this is not the grounds that is offered to oppose it. Instead, we find references to Newt’s “hyper-partisan” nastiness, his racism, and his serial adultery. I don’t wish to get into an argument about the virtues and vices of Newt’s career or his potential presidential candidacy (in part b/c being of the generation I am, I have little knowledge of what Newt did). However, I do find it useful for thinking about how the Church interacts with politics, in part b/c it’s not the only example in the last week. Tony Blair wrote a column published on the front page of the Vatican’s newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, in anticipation of the Pope’s visit to the UK. There are a number of problems with Blair’s political career from the Church’s view, including his support for legalized abortion, gay marriage  and  the invasion of Iraq. While it doesn’t appear that Blair has political aspirations any longer, it brings up the question of how much past political failings ought to deter Church officials from granting a stage to politicians, particularly repentant ones?

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TAC Pro Football Top 10

Wednesday, September 15, 2010 \PM\.\Wed\.

We promised pro rankings, and here they are. I promise not to abuse my discretion as poster to unnecessarily promote the official team of all orthodox Catholics, the New Orleans Saints…

…after I post that picture. Ok, now I’m done. Maybe.

Same deal as the college ranks, though we decided that debating whether the Browns or Rams were the worst team was boring, so we limited it to the top 10. Voters are myself, Tito, and Paul Zummo. Cue the ranks! Read the rest of this entry »