Jul. 21st, 2014 10:48 am
fpb: (Athena of Pireus)
The narrow defeat of the Obama administration in the Hobby Lobby case has sent its supporters into ecstases of rage and hate that have to be seen to be believed, and that in some cases can only be described as murderous. I am glad I don't live in the USA. But this fury, that bewilders many conservatives and independents, does not bewilder me. The Mandate was criminal from the beginning, criminal in its prehistory. Remember how deliberately the President lied to poor Bart Stupak and destroyed his career. And the Mandate is really much more basic to the Obama project than people realize, because they can't see its actual purpose. Le me draw a historical parallel.

Ireland has one of the saddest modern histories of any country in the world. Repeatedly invaded and devastated by the larger neighbouring island, its Catholic majority was reduced to a pulverized peasantry, paying tax they could not afford to Protestant landlords and being tithed for Protestant parsons; a miserable swarm of penniless, ignorant and leaderless grubbers of the soil, fed by potatoes, with no middle class or aristocracy or any consistency. But what you have to realize is that, the destruction of the Irish educated classes, in spite of the frightful massacres and repeated wars, were not the result of military oppression or even of mass murder; they were, in the main, the result of laws. England wrote dozens, indeed hundreds,of laws, to destroy the Irish nation as elaborately and as legally as possible. As the Irish Protestant Edmund Burke said, the English laws against Irish Catholics - or "penal laws", as they are shamefully called - were "a complete system, full of coherence and consistency, well digested and well composed in all its parts. It was a machine of wise and deliberate contrivance, as well fitted for the oppression, impoverishment and degradation of a people, and the debasement of human nature itself, as ever proceeded from the perverted ingenuity of man.”

The Mass, of course, could not be said: to have it said or to say it meant life imprisonment. But neither could Catholics be educated: to set up a Catholic school was equally a matter of life imprisonment. And Catholics were to be robbed by law: "Every Roman Catholic was... to forfeit his estate to his nearest Protestant relation, until, through a profession of what he did not believe, he redeemed by his hypocrisy what the law had transferred to the kinsman as the recompense of his profligacy." The law encouraged Protestants to steal from their Catholic relations, or even pretended relations; and not just large amounts, but everything - every bit of property they had. "When thus turned out of doors from his paternal estate, he was disabled from acquiring any other by any industry, donation, or charity; but was rendered a foreigner in his native land, only because he retained the religion, along with the property, handed down to him from those who had been the old inhabitants of that land before him."

"....Catholics, condemned to beggary and to ignorance in their native land, have been obliged to learn the principles of letters, at the hazard of all their other principles, from the charity of your enemies. They have been taxed to their ruin at the pleasure of necessitous and profligate relations, and according to the measure of their necessity and profligacy,"

"Examples of this are many and affecting. Some of them are known by a friend who stands near me in this hall. It is but six or seven years since a clergyman, of the name of Malony, a man of morals, neither guilty nor accused of anything noxious to the state, was condemned to perpetual imprisonment for exercising the functions of his religion; and after lying in jail two or three years, was relieved by the mercy of government from perpetual imprisonment, on condition of perpetual banishment. A brother of the Earl of Shrewsbury, a Talbot, a name respectable in this country whilst its glory is any part of its concern, was hauled to the bar of the Old Bailey, among common felons, and only escaped the same doom, either by some error in the process, or that the wretch who brought him there could not correctly describe his person,—I now forget which. In short, the persecution would never have relented for a moment, if the judges, superseding (though with an ambiguous example) the strict rule of their artificial duty by the higher obligation of their conscience, did not constantly throw every difficulty in the way of such informers. But so ineffectual is the power of legal evasion against legal iniquity, that it was but the other day that a lady of condition, beyond the middle of life, was on the point of being stripped of her whole fortune by a near relation to whom she had been a friend and benefactor; and she must have been totally ruined, without a power of redress or mitigation from the courts of law, had not the legislature itself rushed in, and by a special act of Parliament rescued her from the injustice of its own statutes..."

It says enough about the power of brute prejudice, of a kind we see in the highest places today, that this unanswerable attack on a disgraceful law lost Burke an election he should have won. The English had been taught to hate Catholics so much that they evidently thought that nothing done to them could be wrong or unjust.

What the Mandate is designed to do, mutatis mutandis, is exactly this. This is why the political and media leadership of your country has fought for it so obstinately, so savagely, and so underhandedly; this is why it took even a narrow defeat with murderous rage. It is because the real purpose of this abomination is to exclude Christians and especially Catholics from economic life. In a world in which money is the only power that can really affect politics - as Obama and his people know all too well - it is intolerable to them that there should be a number, however small, of rich people and of company owners who take their Christianity seriously. In this day and age it is not yet possible to make it legal for a man of the government's party to simply steal the property of his dissenting relatives; and besides, there is not - or not yet - a simple test of identity to separate the government's friends from its enemies, as membership in the "Protestant" church was in Burke's time. But they can impose a tax for a purpose that no Christian can accept, and then savagely penalize them - not by jailing them, which is not what they want, but by fining them into ruin.

Look at it in this light, and the whole mechanism becomes lucid, clear, rational and perfectly designed for its purpose. It is intended to make it impossible for Christians to have any independent economic activity in the USA, by making sure that they either have to resign their principles or be taxed into bankruptcy for them. Of course, they could not possibly declare their purpose; of course they lied from beginning to end. But that, and nothing else, is what this Mandate does.

Incidentally, this also gives you an insight into the real view that Obama and his henchmen have of the political process in your country, and of the nature of political power. This law is not meant to strike at Catholic or Christian faith. It does not try to obtain conversions. It does not set up anything like the imposing apparatus by which republican France, after 1875, worked tirelessly to break the ancestral Catholicism of its masses. The only thing that matters, the thing for which they have fought, the thing for which they have lied, the thing for which they ruined Bart Stupak and compromised the word of the President of the United States of America, was to be sure that no rich Catholics or Christians should exist. Wealth had to remain exclusively among people who had no problem with paying tax to distribute IUDs and abortifacients with a shovel. Because in the eyes of Obama and his crowd, only the very rich are politically significant. This attempt to winnow the Christians from their numbers makes it perfectly clear.
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This election has already given us a historic moment; a moment which, I think, may well feature in future histories, become the centre of scholarly debate, and perhaps even be remembered as one of those factoids that everyone remembers about historical figures - like Pontius Pilate washing his hands, or Washington's troops starving at Valley Forge, or the fat figure and six wives of Henry VIII.

No, I don't mean the debate, although the results of the debate may well come to connect themselves with the event I mean. The event I mean is the publication, by the Obama campaign, of the following blog entry:

This is incredible. If it means anything, it means that the Republicans, if elected, would engage in a campaign of tearing out uteri from living women.

I think I can say with a clean conscience that no campaign ever stooped this low. This is a record, and, I would say, probably unsurpassable. My friends who are historians and know what I am talking about can make the mental experiment: project yourselves into the minds of Julius Streicher or Gabriele d'Annunzio. Try to imagine Streicher saying that about Jews, or d'Annunzio about democratic politicians. You can't. You know you can't. They would not think of it; and if they did, they, even they, would laugh at it as at a crazy joke. The evident and rather unpleasant sexualness of the enclosed drawing, featuring a lightly-dressed, apparently underaged young lady with her clothes being blown all over by the wind - the very image of the worst kind of irresponsible male fantasies - makes the thing even worse: it as good as invites women to identify with this near-paedophile fantasy image, and to imagine that there is something there that is worth something for women to keep and that it threatens women to lose. The abyss of abjection in the association of visual idea and depraved gag literally challenges description and analysis.

This does, of course, confirm my old belief that abortion is the central issue and the driving force of so much that seems unhinged and bewildering about modern politics. But it also suggests a desperacy lurking somewhere below the confident gloss of Obaman politics; as though these people felt the breath of the Avenger of Blood breathing over their neck, and feared it even where the rest of us can't begin to feel any presence except theirs. It is like the crazed language of British medical bodies on the subject of abortion - language that a child would know was insane. But it also suggests an essential hollowness at the heart of the Obaman message. If that is the sort of thing they resort to, they must feel they have exhausted every other weapon. Now, add this to the effect of Romney's definite victory in last night's debate, and see what you get.
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...There are two ways to be certain of the difference between a true and false right, a right in natural law and a right designed by some political entity to suit itself. The first is that the obverse of a right is a duty. A right is always a claim made on the rest of mankind. The obverse of the right to life is the duty not to lay violent hands on another man, however infuriating the person. (I am speaking of adults here, setting the issue of abortion aside.) The right to liberty is the obverse of the duty not to interfere with anyone except for specific and legal reason. The right to the pursuit of happiness is the obverse of the duty not to muck about in any way with the soul of another person for your own ideology or convenience. I have seen this right brutally violated in the case of a man who had fallen in with a particularly poisonous sect. The right to property is the obverse of the duty not to steal; the right to privacy, of the duty not to break into someone's private house and life without very good reason. As the wise old joke has it, the freedom of my fist's motion is limited by the position of my neighbour's nose. And when you try to define what is obverse of this supposed right to abortion, you have a problem. What is its obverse? Who owes you a duty in this respect? The doctor? Setting aside such matters the Hippocratic oath and the Ronald Thatcherite idea of the doctor as a provider of services to be paid in cash, the fact is that a doctor is not a necessary part of an abortion at all. I am not even thinking of unqualified practitioners and faiseuses d'anges; it is perfectly possible, if risky, to abort one's own child alone. The only two necessary terms to an abortion are the mother and the child; and it follows that if such a thing as a right to abortion exists, its obverse is the child's duty to die. At which point some of us can begin to see a problem.

The other way to identify a genuine right is that it will always have universally recognized exceptions. The right to life is abridged by such things as war, legitimate police activity, and individual self-defence. The right to liberty can be abridged by conscription or by conviction in a court of law. The right to pursuit of happiness, of course, falls aside in such cases, and is also curtailed if the "happiness" in question were that of a sadist or of a bandit. The right to property is limited by taxation and by any form of lawful confiscation; the right to privacy, by the public interest in investigating wrongdoing and defending persons at risk (an abusive parent loses the right to privacy, along with his/her parental rights, the moment the privacy of his/her house becomes an instrument of torment). But no such limitation can be identified in the "right" to abortion.
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I wonder whether anyone at the BBC has the least idea just how repulsively hypocritical, murderously hypocritical, they look, when at one and the same time they go all lyrical about the Paralympics and disabled achievement, and they promote the old eugenics lies of abortion and euthanasia? Isn't it great that those of the "differently able" whom we haven't managed to kill in the womb or in the hospital are now winning medals! What wonderful people we are!
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A person who was on my friends list made me the offensive "gift" of an "I stand with Planned Parenthood" tag. The only occasion I would stand with Planned Parenthood would be if I were a cop and I had the pleasure to take the members of that murderous organization to jail. I defriended the person concerned.
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Months ago, I had a long talk about politics and contemporary trends, especially in the USA, with a woman whom I knew to have supported abortion when it was still forbidden in her country of origin, to have had one when it was still illegal, and to have voted for it. I explained my view that abortion was the elephant in the room, that it conditioned most important developments in modern politics, and I mentioned the recent polls that gave, for the first time, a pro-life majority in America, as well as the bizarre behaviour of Britain's Royal College of Midwives and Obstetricians. She eventually said: "I don't want to talk about abortion, it makes me sick." "Well," I answered with some surprise, "the thing is, we may yet live to see it outlawed." "Thank God for that," she said.
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Not that I wish any more years of Gheddafi on anyone, but the hypocrisy spouted on all sides about his refusal to budge and resolution to fight it out to the death beggars belief. The behaviour of the UN, in which he had been prominent until a few weeks ago, is nothing short of sickening; one ie reminded of a pack of vile, yapping mongrels baring their fangs without daring to get close, as a wounded wild boar is charging and turning and plunging and fighting for his life. All the people who are now passing confiscation resolutions, orders against travel, condemnations, Hague Court denunciations and so on - not to mention the vicious breed of journalists - were licking his bloody hands no later than ten days ago. There would be something poetic, though not of course reassuring, if he managed to give them all the slip.

A few years ago, Dame Helen Mirren was awarded the best actress Oscar virtually by acclamation for her performance as the current Queen. Tonight, by all reports, it will be Colin Firth's turn; should he ever, for any reason, fail to get crowned, there will be front-page headlines in five or six continents, howling HE WUZ ROBBED! Not that either performer did not deserve it (both, too, were playing against type, being handsome and expected to play dowdy and retiring types); bot doesn't one get a sense that American and world audiences really have an especial kind of fondness for British actors playing British sovereigns? One might almost suspect that the trauma of the disloyalty of 1776, however good its reasons, had never quite died down. It's all a bit Oedypal.

Now for the nastiest subject by far - sorry, Colonel Gheddafi, but it's far nastier than even you can hope to be. After all, even after you have ceased to shed blood, whether your enemies have caught you and hanged you, or whether you have managed to break them on the battlefield and eventually died on your bed as some murderers have managed, British doctors will still be killing babies. Where abortion is concerned, Britain is a one-party state, where any opposition to the practice will ruin your career with mathematical certainty if you happen to work anywhere near the NHS or the social services, and of course stick you with the deadly brand - nothing deadlier in island society - of religious nutter. And yet - and yet. For a while, I think for a year or so now, there have come noises from the profession of butchers, sorry, doctors, that suggest anger and unease - as though the butchers felt some sort of phantom grip fastening on their hands. It is not that anyone is showing visible doubt or nervousness. Nobody so much as suggests that any pressure against abortion might be perceived. But if none is felt, then why are the professional bodies of butchers, sorry, doctors, becoming shriller and shriller? At the end of June last year, the Royal College Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) released, in its own name and with all the chrism of officiality, a so-called report, claiming that a 24-week-old foetus is incapable of feeling pain. This, mind you, in an age when hundreds of premature babies are brought out at 24 weeks and survive, and the mothers of these children, let alone the nurses and doctors, are capable of seeing with their own eyes that the child does in fact feel and react. It is not even a matter of what you see on a scan screen: it is a matter of hundreds, of thousands of women who have seen, heard, held in their own hand, a child of that age, and been able to see it with their own eyes and hear it with their own ears. I don't think it unfair to say that such an act, such a report, from such a body, is evidence of a collective pathology. And today, only a few months after, the very same body, RCOG, redoubled the evidence for collective mental illness by issuing guidelines - a word which, in the UK, means something almost as binding as laws - that claim for a woman to have an abortion is safer than to have a child. The crazed quality of this was so evident that even BBC journalist Andrew Marr, usually the humblest and most undeviating servant of Political Correctness, was heard to say that perhaps it was not quite as safe for the child. I can only conclude that, although the petrifying force of obstinacy and consensus still don't allow an ordinary observer like myself to see it, these people are scared; nothing except terror can explain the shrill tone and the sheer irrationality of these statements.
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As for President Obama:
1) he has broken his own promise on Don't Ask Don't Tell, something to which few reasonable people would have seen an objection. (That at least one right-wing columnist broke Godwin's Law in trying to find an argument against accepting homosexual soldiers just shows how poor the arguments for this really are.)
2) He has broken his promise on torture and even let into his administration a couple of people whose hands are dirty in the matter, such as Robert Gates.
3) He is wrecking his own proposals for health reform rather than give up a sneaky and unprincipled attempt to break the consensus on abortion (no federal monies for), and he is lying about it.
4) He is guilty of deliberately stirring up trouble against Israel, with the miserable Quartet all too happy to follow his lead.
5) He has ignored both the hideous threat of an Iranian atom bomb and, more disgracefully, the desperate struggle of the Iranian people against a bloodthirsty and disastrous tyranny. He has repeatedly spoken as though the mullah's government were the legitimate leadership of that unhappy country.

Oh, and strictly for Catholics:
6) According to Life Site News International, he has deliberately egged on Catholic Health Association, and possibly the Leadership Conference of Religious Women (although that lot don't need much egging) to revolt against the Bishops. I quote: White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs revealed to reporters today that President Barack Obama actively promoted the Catholic Health Association's public break with the American Catholic bishops to support his health care legislation.
Gibbs also suggested that the CHA and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious' (LCWR) break with the U.S. Bishops has provided legitimate political cover for pro-life Democrats to switch their votes from "no" to "yes."
Gibbs said that the president had been engaged on the issue, and a reporter asked if he had reached out personally to the groups.
"The President met earlier this week with Sr. Keehan of the CHA," said Gibbs, saying the meeting took place in the Roosevelt Room, but that he "did not get a detailed run-down of the pitch that [Obama] made."
"I do know that he was effusive about her support and her as a person for making the courageous statements that she has," he said.

Well, at least he was not shameless enough to tell his own spokesman what he had done with or offered to this rebel nun.
During the Paris negotiations of 1782-3, the reigning Pope offered Franklin and Adams that the USA government could have a veto over the nomination of Catholic bishops (something that many European governments had at the time). In keeping with their principles, the Founders - few of whom had any sympathy for the Catholic Church as such - nonetheless refused this offer and allowed the Church to organize itself in the new nation as it saw fit. Since then, I know of no President who has ever, for any reason whatever, thought to meddle in the Church's internal affairs and organization.

Hope? Change? Change, all right; hope - that he does not get re-elected.
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As I repeatedly argued, demographic trends are not ironbound - much less "destiny" - and can change in the blinking of an eye. And those of you who had so much to say about my country would do well to read this:

EDITED IN One feature of this report that deserves more attention is the increasing unpopularity of abortion among doctors. The number of objectors in Italy is exceptionally high, but it is rising, I believe, across the West. In Britain, fifteen years ago, the NHS was a one-party state where abortion was concerned: be heard to openly question it, and you endangered your career and your employment. Now, however, the number of doctors who do not include it among their services has silently risen so far that it is causing serious problems in the distribution of it. One manager in Hull, two years ago, was heard to suggest that nurses should be allowed to perform it. While the British mind is still closed with respect to abortion, I think that the person was right who commented that people do not become doctors in order to rip human bodies to pieces and expel the bloody remains with a rubber tube. The mere disgustingness of the procedure works against it.
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A well-known conservative writer posted on the recent White House request for information about internet rumours on the healthcare reform plan. His post was profoundly unsubtle, amounting to a reprint of the famous illustration to George Orwell's 1984, "Big Brother is watching you." Now, I could have mocked this or responded in kind - after all, a message of this kind is not calling for subtlety or fair-mindedness. It is a brutal appeal to fear and party allegiance. Instead of which, I chose to respond in the following terms:

I am not quite sure that you (and practically every conservative commentator in the USA) are right. What I read that message to be is a request to be kept up to date with rumours, rather than with people - to try and respond to every novel interpretation of the bill before it goes viral and becomes the received truth for millions. Tony Blair had a very successful operation along those lines in the 1997 election, called a "rapid response unit". The way that internet rumours become accepted facts in modern politics makes this kind of response virtually inevitable. But if you want to feel terrorized by a demonic enemy, of course you will interpret anything your opponent does in that light.

By way of thanks, the response was deleted before another poster had even had the time to answer it.

His excuse for it - whether he was excusing it to himself or to others - was that the closing sentence was an ad hominem attack on him. That is nonsense. It is a statement of universal fact, which in the present struggle applies to both sides (see Nancy Pelosi's grotesque statements about swastikas) and which people ought very much to bear in mind before they take any position. But if he felt that it applied to him particularly - that is what ad hominem means - then I can only say that there is something in it that he felt spoke to his own condition, and that he did not want to listen to.
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Ever since Sarah Palin announced her resignation as Governor of Alaska,Read more... )
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I, Fabio Paolo Barbieri, the author of a blog read by a few dozen people, find myself in the ridiculous position of having to take a firm stand about a candidate in the American election, neither more nor less than if I were a newspaper or one of the real political blogs. I have been placed in this situation because a friend who is making what I regard as the wrong choice has told me that mine is one of the few "political" blogs he ever reads, so "if [he] ever heard any propaganda, it would be from [me]". So I have to clarify my position with respect to Senator Obama.

Senator Obama is the most spectacularly talented politician of the new generation in America. No wonder that the Daley machine adopted him from the start and started a presidential campaign for him from the moment he was elected to the US senate. However, he has several flaws that would make me refuse to support him even if the opposing candidates did not impress me as much as John McCain and Sarah Palin do. (With respect to Sarah Palin, incidentally, one simple principle will carry you very far: do not believe a single word the mainstream press and television say about her. Not one word. If they tell you that she has dark hair and wears glasses, make sure you check by yourself or read a conservative blog first. The amount of lies spread about her would make Josef Goebbels' jaw drop, and beats anything seen in the Western world since the sixteenth-century wars of religion. This is not a violation of Godwin's Law, by the way: I mentioned Goebbels as being the best-known political propagandist, but I might as well have spoken of Willi Muenzenberg or Giuseppe Bottai.)

Barack Obama is visibly politically inconsistent. He has ridden to the Democratic candidacy through the support of the party's hard left, and still has the unwavering and unpleasant backing of all the lunatics, from the Daily Kos leftward to various communist and islamist groupings. (One wonders about the party structure's evident support of Obama against Hillary Clinton. I suspect that the percentage points lost to Ralph Nader's leftist candidacy in the last two elections may have scarred them into resolving that this time the hard left must be kept into the party at all costs.) While this has no effect on his actual platform, which is by European standards quite moderate, it means that it is literally impossible to establish where he really will stand, when the chips are down, on any issue. (Except one: abortion. More on that later.) It is worrying to read, for instance, that he is unsatisfied with the Constitution's establishment of "merely negative" liberties; and to a person to whom the issues of poverty and stratification are very real, one can see the point. Freedom to starve to death is not much of a gift. However, it is also clear that this was Obama the intellectual thinking aloud - thinking the inconceivable, as Tony Blair once asked Frank Fields MP to do; and the realities of politics - in which Obama is already well steeped - are seen in the fact that when Frank Fields did just that, Blair promptly sacked him. I do not for a minute think that Obama wants to seriously change the Constitution by his own acts, although his choice of future federal and SCOTUS justices does worry me greatly; the point is rather that with such a candidate, one for whom there is effectively no precedent in the USA, it is - I repeat - literally impoossible to forecast, from what he has said so far, what he will actually do. Presidents are elected on character as much as on their platforms. With Obama, it is exactly that aspect of his character which is a blank. To elect him would be an act of faith at best. From most electors, it would be faith that the moderate, unifying, respectful face he has worn through the national election is the one he would take to the White House. For the Kos Kids and others who have brought him to the nomination, it would be exactly the opposite.

That is one immediate reason not to vote Obama. When you do not, repeat, do not, know how a man will perform in a demanding role, you do not give him the keys to the house or the family jewels. Even if the first impact he makes is favourable, and even if the alternative looks bleak. There are many people who think that anything would be better than eight more years of Republicanism. Some of them insist, against all the evidence - I have met them - that John McCain's destruction of the establishment candidate Mitt Romney, his visible dislike for Romney and Bush II, his record of ignoring the party views whenever he thought right, the violent propaganda aimed at him by the established right - Limbaugh, Coulter and so on - are all a nefarious conspiracy by Karl Rove and other demonic figures to lead us to accept yet another incarnation of the inevitably wicked and dishonest Republican soul. I have stopped trying to convince such people to enter the real world. They will never be convinced that everything is not a nefarious Rovian conspiracy to make them look bad. And this sort of thing is one of the reasons why I hate the party spirit. There has been a lot of talk lately about what the Founders did or did not want, but one thing should be clear: they loathed "faction" and established parties, and they were quite right to do so. When a real party structure emerged over the election of Jefferson, it did so against the wishes of nearly everyone involved. Party spirit blinds people and makes them stupid.

NOw if Obama were not the Democratic Party's official candidate, no Catholic (or Jew) would dream of voting for him. His support for abortion, the most extreme of any Senator, would make it absolutely impossible to back him. But because he is a Democrat, and because the ancient tribal identification of Dems and Catholics (especially Irish Catholics) is still alive in some minds, and because some people find Republican governance so abhorrent that they believe anything would be better, there still are supposed Catholics who can bring themselves to underline the supposed good things that the end of Republican governance would mean, and neglect the fact that abortion would be double-riveted on the land for ever. Some of them, who do not understand that the doctrine of procreation is at the centre of the whole Catholic doctrine of man, would even be relieved to see the issue closed by edict, and may imagine that the Church would then be forced to accept what it does not like. To these people one can only say that they have not the slightest notion of what Catholicism really means - or, for that matter, human conscience. Any edict in favour of abortion, such as the so-called Free Choice Act, would be as effective in closing the issue as the Dred Scott case. But at any rate the issue for members of the Catholic Church, in communion with the Bishop of Rome, subscribing to the Catholic doctrine, is absolutely simple: you either are a Catholic or an abortion supporter. Tertium non datur.

The Church, in general, likes to keep its collective head down and hates confrontations with the civil authorities. For thirty or more years, ever since the abortion bloc took over the Democratic Party, most Bishops have kept quiet on the issue. And they might still have done so, but for the unconscionable folly of some born-Catholic Democratic leaders (a folly in which Obama and his adviser Axelrod had no part, but which touches them in the person of their VP candidate), who actually took it upon themselves to try and rewrite Catholic doctrine in a direction that suited them. Faced with such a gross interference on their own teaching duty, the Bishops of America had no choice but to respond. Believe me, it takes a lot to move such a peace-minded and diplomatic fellow as Donald Wuerl of Washington DC to battle; but even he issued a clear and unambiguous condemnation of Messrs Biden and Pelosi's dogmatic effusions.

So now you do not even have the excuse of the pragmatic silence of the Church. The duty of any Catholic in this election is simple. It is not up to you to decide what the Church is supposed to believe; and if the Church tells you that abortion is a sin of special gravity, and that those who support it cannot possibly be supported by Catholics, it is not up to you to second-guess it. You can either be Catholic, or support abortion. And that means that if you do not see any possible candidate except abortionists, you should stay at home rather than stain your soul with deadly sin.
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British media, including the supposedly conservative ones, are supporting Obama and (especially) hounding Sarah Palin, with a ferocity unknown even to their American counterparts, and looking more like the Daily Kos than anything, so to speak, human. This is appalling in itself, and may well end up being disastrous if by any chance McCain and Palin win. These creatures are planting poisonous ideas in the average British reader, which will take decades to weed away. And incidentally, it does nothing to disprove my view that at the roots of all serious modern political conflict in the West there is abortion; for the British media and establishment, including the so-called conservatives, are completely sold on the practice, and anti-abortion forces are marginalized to an extent unknown and hard to believe in Italy or America. This goes back a long time - Margaret Thatcher always voted in favour of abortion. Now, Sarah Palin, simply by being who she is, is a living rebuke to all the abortion-is-necessary crowd; and this explains the ferocious hatred and the avalanche of pathological lies with which this attractive, polite, competent female politician has been welcomed. Find me another explanation that makes sense! It also accounts for the complete silence that has been enforced on anything that might make Obama, the most pro-abortion candidate in history, look bad or even moderately dubious. It is not about race; if Judge Clarence Thomas were running for President, he would be treated like Palin has been. It is not even about party; if Condoleeza Rice had run and got the Republican nomination, you can bet your life that she would have had a much smoother ride than Palin. She, after all, has no children. You cannot underrate the power of repressed and concealed guilt feelings, crawling under the skin of all the career women who got rid of unwanted babies in order to please bosses and boyfriends, and indeed among all the men who were complicit in their crimes or even demanded them; when faced with a brilliantly successful career woman who not only had five children, but opted against aborting even the disabled one. (I don't suppose it helps that she is beautiful and looks ten years younger than her age. The sheer unfairness of the distribution of beauty is salt on any open wound, and the wound in question is painful enough in the first place.) Sarah Palin is a mirror who tells them the truth about themselves; and it is a truth that they cannot bear to see.
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To judge by my f-list and other Catholic bloggers I have seen, Mary Eberstadt's article on First Things about the vindication of Humanae Vitae has made more waves than anything in years. I suppose that is because it goes further than most Christians had been thinking of going. While most people are aware that abortion is at least controversial, very many outside the Catholic Church do not give contraception a second thought, and even many Catholics, especially of the older generation, imagine that the matter is settled and over. However, the evidence is that it is not. Mary Eberstadt's article was not the only one to say the same thing, and to judge by the reaction, it addresses a mood that is definitely growing among Christians, let alone Catholics. And since Christians and Catholics do not live in a vacuum, it is finding unnoticed echoes even among the ordinary secular types.
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Funny how less than a week ago the Supreme Court of the United States was the archdemon of every republican blog, and people were queuing up to explain to the poor ignorant judges how mistaken it was to call carbon dioxide a pollutant - while all the "progressives", with the New Jerk Dimes in the van, rejoiced and hailed. Now all of a sudden most of those same blogs (not all, of course, since there is hardly a complete overlap between supporters of big business and enemies of abortion) are jumping up and down with glee at the unexpected victory of the ban on partial-birth abortion, while the NYT rages and spits poison. Such is life; hero one day, hate object the next. At any rate, I assume that the prestigious, well remunerated and probably well served nature of their posts can protect the Justices' little hearts from any sense of bitterness.

Moral of the story: there is no issue, however important, that does not have at least a little of the pantomime about it.
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The other conditioning feature of the American landscape, apart from the rise of the new aristocracy,Read more... )


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