Friday, February 10, 2012

My Take on the News: Bishops and Sterilization; Chaplains and Free Speech; Racketeering and Lizard Men

My first item today isn't, quite, news: although I'm including links to several press releases from the USCCB. (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops)

It's 'close enough,' though: and I think efforts to force conformity need to be resisted.
  1. Sterilize! You Have Nothing to Lose But Your Future!
  2. Military Chaplains and Free Speech: 'Page Two'
  3. Racketeering, the Vatican, and the Lizard Man Conspiracy

1. Sterilize! You Have Nothing to Lose But Your Future!

I've wondered if the 'sterilize now' crowd has thought about long-term consequences. Give a 'formless blob of protoplasm' about 18 years, and you've got a taxpayer.
"Bishops Vow to Fight Coercive HHS Mandate"
Religious Liberty, Issues and Action, USCCB

"The Catholic bishops of the United States are speaking out clearly -- both individually and collectively -- against the unjust HHS mandate due to its infringement on conscience rights and religious liberty....

"...Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan, president of the USCCB, sharply criticized the decision by the Obama administration in which it 'ordered almost every employer and insurer in the country to provide sterilization and contraceptives, including some abortion-inducing drugs, in their health plans....Never before has the federal government forced individuals and organizations to go out into the marketplace and buy a product that violates their conscience. This shouldn't happen in a land where free exercise of religion ranks first in the Bill of Rights.'

"He urged Catholics and the public at large to speak out in protest. Watch his video & then take action today..."
That "take action today" link gets you to a page on the NCHLA website:
Now, those USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) links I promised:

'Women's Rights,' Culling the Herd, and All That

I'm disappointed, but not surprised, that the current administration wants to force people to sterilize women: or at least make it less likely that the sex machines will produce those things called "babies." Or maybe the motive is to cull the human herd down to a more convenient size.

Or maybe the idea will be to cut down on the number of babies that 'those' people are having.

But hey: It could be worse. I've yet to read about someone on Capitol Hill seriously proposing that retroactive abortions be performed on unpersons who don't comply with national standards.

The Coming Ice Age; Dead Fish; and End Times Prophecies

The current American administration's efforts to force support for sterilization may be well-intentioned. I spent enough time in academia to know that quite a few folks honestly believe that
  • Humanity is killing Earth
  • Babies are parasites
  • We're all gonna die from
    • Climate Change
    • Global Warming
    • Air pollution
    • Global cooling
      • Caused by air pollution
    • Dead fish
Dead fish?! The idea was that all the fish would die by 1985. They didn't, we didn't: and some folks still believe that humanity is doomed, or that some dude finally got a Last Judgment prediction right.

I've posted about End Times prophecies and their secular equivalents before:

Do We Really Want These Guys in Charge?

Bad news: America's top civilian leadership seems determined to force everybody to support sterilization.

Good news: There's an election coming up. A presidential election.

I'm not looking for a 'perfect' candidate in any of the races that'll be on the ballot. On the other hand, I think we can do better than the lot that's running things now.

Just a thought.

2. Military Chaplains and Free Speech: 'Page Two'

"Army defends chaplain intervention over letter criticizing contraceptive mandate" (February 7, 2012)

"The Army said Tuesday that a request for chaplains not to read a letter in Sunday Mass that expressed disapproval of a new regulation in the Obama administration's health care law was not an attempt to 'censor,' but rather a cautionary move to preserve 'military order and discipline.'

"The Army acknowledged that Chief of Chaplains Donald Rutherford had asked chaplains to only distribute, but not read, the Jan. 26 letter sent by Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio. The concern was apparently over a single line.

" 'The Chief of Chaplains was concerned that one line in the 456-word letter could be misinterpreted as a call to civil disobedience within our nation's military ranks,' the statement said.

"A senior Army official separately confirmed that the offending line stated: 'We cannot -- we will not -- comply with this unjust law.' The official confirmed that 'there was a worry that would be a call for civil obedience.'..."
[emphasis mine]
I've been following this 'army chaplain' story for several days. Now that the Army's point of view has been published, I still agree with the bishop. I also think the Army has a point.

Actually, I'm a little surprised that the chaplain was allowed to distribute that letter. That's not because I think the American military is icky.

Oaths, and People Who Take Them Seriously

I think that the American military is run by people who have sworn an oath. And who take their word seriously:
"The wordings of the current oath of enlistment and oath for commissioned officers are as follows:
" 'I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.' (Title 10, US Code; Act of 5 May 1960 replacing the wording first adopted in 1789, with amendment effective 5 October 1962).

" 'I, _____ (SSAN), having been appointed an officer in the Army of the United States, as indicated above in the grade of _____ do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter; So help me God.' (DA Form 71, 1 August 1959, for officers.)..."
("Oaths of Enlistment and Oaths of Office," U.S. Army Center of Military History)

America: Love it, and Change it

I'd prefer to live in a country where the Constitution clearly gave everybody the right to stay alive: even those who are helpless. That's not the way it is right now.

I think we'll get 'the right to life...' defined in a more reasonable way: with time and effort. Like I said, there's an election coming up.

It took about two centuries, and a major war, to sort out a Constitutional SNAFU involving slavery. (October 28, 2011) I sincerely hope that defining "human life" as the life of a human being, and making it specifically illegal to kill innocent human beings, goes more smoothly.

3. Racketeering, the Vatican, and the Lizard Man Conspiracy

"Longstanding racketeering lawsuit against Vatican dismissed"
Kevin J. Jones, CNA (Catholic News Agency) (February 6, 2012)

"A federal court's dismissal 'with prejudice' of a 2002 lawsuit by five U.S. state commissioners against the Holy See shows the Vatican had 'nothing to do' with a multi-million dollar criminal scheme against insurance companies, the Holy See's U.S. attorney Jeffrey Lena said.

"The suit charged that the Holy See had engaged in criminal fraud and racketeering in violation of federal law.

"The allegations against the Holy See 'make good fodder for conspiracy theorists,' said Lena, who added that journalists who 'enthusiastically' publicized the allegations should 'write with equal vigor upon the cases' demise.'

"State insurance regulators sued the Holy See for $600 million in 2002 in connection with the actions of financier Martin Frankel...."
There's a fair amount of detail in the CNA article about Mr. Frankel's dodgy 'charity.' I think this is a reasonable summary:
  1. Martin Frankel used a fake name
    • David Rosse
  2. "David Rosse" contacted the Vatican
    • "Rosse" wanted to set up shop in the Vatican
    • The Vatican said 'no deal' to the 'Vatican Foundation'
  3. Frankel set up an ersatz charity
    • In the British Virgin Islands
    • Claiming that he had Vatican approval
      • Which he didn't
Putting it in narrative form: Using a fake name, Frankel tried to get the Vatican to go along with a scam. The Vatican said 'no way.' Frankel set up a scam, anyway: and said he was doing so with Vatican approval.

Assumptions, Old and New

No wonder a posse of state regulators went after the Vatican.

The notion that 'those Catholics' are up to no good is deeply rooted in American culture. Maybe that's not what was going on here: but the dogged determination to go after a Catholic 'conspiracy' smells an awful lot like good old-fashioned American Know Nothingism in a three-piece suit.

Or maybe we're looking at the more fashionable notion that all religious people are either stupid, crazy, or scheming charlatans. I've been over this sort of thing before. (November 27, 2011)

A Carrion Flower by Any Other Name - - -

Frankel called his British Virgin Island operation the St. Francis of Assisi Foundation to Serve and Help the Poor and Alleviate Suffering. That's one long name. You'd think he'd have picked something with a catchy acronym. I mean to say: FAFSHPAS? And that's another topic.

No matter what it was called - it looks like Frankel was bamboozling folks by playing on their charitable impulses. Like I've said before, it's nice to feel charitable. It's prudent to use your brain:

Evidence? Who Needs Evidence?

Back to that article:
"...The lawsuit was not dismissed because of a settlement agreement, he [Holy See's U.S. attorney Jeffrey Lena] added. Rather, the insurance commissioners filed for dismissal of their own accord.

" 'As today's dismissal with prejudice shows, the state insurance regulators' decision to sue the Holy See for Frankel's crimes was unsupported by the evidence,' said Lena, who reported that before the lawsuit was filed two government investigations concluded that state insurance regulators had allowed Frankel's scheme to continue uninterrupted.

"Lena suggested that state regulators sued the Holy See despite the findings of the U.S. Government Accounting Office and the Tennessee Comptroller that they bore 'much of the blame' for allowing the scheme to continue."
I suppose I could rant about 'the government' being out to get the Catholic Church. Considering that the GAO and Tennessee Comptroller said that the Vatican connection was bogus - that would make as much sense as going after the Holy See in the first place.

Or maybe the whole thing is part of some vast conspiracy.

Conspiracy Theories as Entertainment

I've read and enjoyed some pretty good 'conspiracy theory' yarns. Fictional ones. I've spun a few myself, making as sure as I could that nobody would seriously think that
  • Elvis was a
  • Steve Jobs is
    • Alive
      • Running Apple
        • From a secret bunker in Minnesota
    • Dead
      • Since 1985
      • And still running Apple
        • From a secret bunker in Minnesota
    (Apathetic Lemming of the North (October 7, 2011; July 30, 2008))
One of my favorite yarns about Area 51 was that stories about a crashed spaceship and dead aliens being stored there was a cover story. Area 51, in this tale, was where the government stored a crashed spaceship and dead aliens. The obviously-bogus stories and photos had been released, so that folks wouldn't believe any real information that leaked out.

And I'm getting seriously off-topic.

Or, maybe not so much.

Lizard Men, Elvis, and the Ballot Box

Taken as fiction, I don't think a 'conspiracy theory' is a problem. But then, I'm not one of the folks who disapproves of fiction because it isn't 'real.'

When folks start believing that the world is really run by the Illuminati; the Vatican/Whore of Babylon/Jesuit Ruling Priests of Baal; or space-alien, shape-shifting, lizard-men: that can be a problem.

For the individual, delusional thinking makes living in the real world awkward, at best. (See "Schizophrenia," Mayo Clinic) When someone who's a few bricks short of a full hod1 votes - or, worse yet, wins an election - there's a chance that everybody will have to deal with pink elephants: or whatever the official version of reality is.

Once again: there's an election coming up. Folks who live in the real world have a chance to swap out at least some of the colorful loonies.

More posts about forcing Catholics to violate our conscience:
The Department of Health and Human Services vs. Conscience

Related posts:

1 I haven't heard "a few bricks short of a full hod" recently. Possibly because my home is a bit west the Atlantic. It's an expression that means 'lacking common sense or mental acuity.' American equivalents are 'a few cards short of a full deck,' or 'a burger short of a Happy Meal.' (A "Happy Meal" is a child's meal at McDonalds. Except in San Francisco, where the city government banned them. I am not making this up:


Brigid said...

An awful lot like? "smells an awful like good old-fashioned"

Another word missing: "because I live a bit west the Atlantic"

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

P.S. San Francisco is a strange, strange place. Seems to me there was something else weird that they banned.

Brian Gill said...

Found, fixed, and thanks!

About San Francisco: I lived there for 18 months, and have very fond memories of the city. It's also, in spots, a home to folks with very strong opinions.

You're probably remembering the 'save the goldfish' thing, last year. I've posted about San Francisco's official actions before:

* "Save the - Goldfish?!"
Apathetic Lemming of the North (June 16, 2011)

* "Party-Poopers in San Francisco: Partisans, Nudists, and the Olympic Torch"
Another War-on-Terror Blog (April 9, 2008)

* "The Few, the Proud, the Banned: San Francisco Can't Handle Marines"Another War-on-Terror Blog (September 25, 2007)

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Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.