Six months ago, President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi rammed Obamacare down the throats of an unwilling American public. Half a year removed from the unprecedented legislative chicanery and backroom dealing that characterized the bill's passage, we know much more about the bill than we did then. A few of the revelations:
» Obamacare won't decrease health care costs for the government. According to Medicare's actuary, it will increase costs. The same is likely to happen for privately funded health care.
» As written, Obamacare covers elective abortions, contrary to Obama's promise that it wouldn't. This means that tax dollars will be used to pay for a procedure millions of Americans across the political spectrum view as immoral. Supposedly, the Department of Health and Human Services will bar abortion coverage with new regulations but these will likely be tied up for years in litigation, and in the end may not survive the court challenge.
» Obamacare won't allow employees or most small businesses to keep the coverage they have and like. By Obama's estimates, as many as 69 percent of employees, 80 percent of small businesses, and 64 percent of large businesses will be forced to change coverage, probably to more expensive plans.
» Obamacare will increase insurance premiums -- in some places, it already has. Insurers, suddenly forced to cover clients' children until age 26, have little choice but to raise premiums, and they attribute to Obamacare's mandates a 1 to 9 percent increase. Obama's only method of preventing massive rate increases so far has been to threaten insurers.
» Obamacare will force seasonal employers -- especially the ski and amusement park industries -- to pay huge fines, cut hours, or lay off employees.
» Obamacare forces states to guarantee not only payment but also treatment for indigent Medicaid patients. With many doctors now refusing to take Medicaid (because they lose money doing so), cash-strapped states could be sued and ordered to increase reimbursement rates beyond their means.
» Obamacare imposes a huge nonmedical tax compliance burden on small business. It will require them to mail IRS 1099 tax forms to every vendor from whom they make purchases of more than $600 in a year, with duplicate forms going to the Internal Revenue Service. Like so much else in the 2,500-page bill, our senators and representatives were apparently unaware of this when they passed the measure.
» Obamacare allows the IRS to confiscate part or all of your tax refund if you do not purchase a qualified insurance plan. The bill funds 16,000 new IRS agents to make sure Americans stay in line.
If you wonder why so many American voters are angry, and no longer give Obama the benefit of the doubt on a variety of issues, you need look no further than Obamacare, whose birthday gift to America might just be a GOP congressional majority.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Saturday, September 25, 2010
Ms. Daly was the President of the Notre Dame Right to Life student group in the Spring of 2009 when the University tendered its controversial commencement invitation to President Obama.
From the ND Newswire:
Past coverage by this blog of the happenings at Notre Dame can be found here.
A final recommendation from the Task Force on Supporting the Choice for Life at the University of Notre Dame recently was accepted by the University’s president, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.
As it completed its term of service in May, the task force recommended to Father Jenkins that structures be created to implement previous recommendations and continue the group’s work. In response, Father Jenkins has established the position of coordinator for university life initiatives and appointed Mary K. Daly to the post.
Daly, a 2010 Notre Dame graduate who served as president of Notre Dame Right to Life as an undergraduate, will coordinate efforts already under way to implement the recommendations of the task force, serve as a liaison between various University units in order to facilitate collaboration on life issues, and seek ways to broaden and deepen respect for the sanctity of life from conception to natural death within the Notre Dame community and beyond.
Daly’s office will be located in the Institute for Church Life. She will report to John C. Cavadini, the McGrath-Cavadini Director of the Institute for Church Life and co-chair of the task force, and through Cavadini report to Father Jenkins. Among her first responsibilities will be to assist in the organization of a faculty advisory committee to be chaired by Cavadini.
“I would like to thank the members of the task force for their exemplary service over the course of the last academic year,” Father Jenkins said, “and I look forward to continued progress in this important area as we work together in future years.”
Father Jenkins created the task force a year ago to consider and recommend ways in which Notre Dame can support the sanctity of life. Margaret Brinig, Fritz Duda Family Professor of Law, joined Cavadini as a co-chair.
Several task force recommendations already have borne fruit, including Father Jenkins’ participation in January in the March for Life, the adoption of a statement on the University’s unequivocal support of Catholic teaching on the sanctity of human life, and the development of principles for charitable giving that provide standards for the University and its representatives in making determinations on giving in a way consonant with institutional beliefs.
In addition to Brinig and Cavadini, members of the task force were Ann Astell, theology; Kathleen Kelley, student; Mary Ellen Konieczny, sociology; Rev. William Lies, C.S.C., Center for Social Concerns; and Rev. Mark Poorman, C.S.C., theology and former vice president for student affairs. Frances Shavers, chief of staff and special assistant to the president, and Todd Woodward, associate vice president for marketing communications, served as task force liaisons.
If you are on Facebook, check out the group, Pro-Life Alumni & Friends of the University of Notre Dame which can be found here.
UPDATE: The excellent blog Creative Minority Report interviewed Ms. Daly about her reaction to the Notre Dame commencement scandal in the Spring of 2009. The interview can be read here.
CNBC commentator and Chicago native Rick Santelli, who inspired the tea party movement 19 months ago with an on-air "rant", was recently profiled by the Chicago Sun Times:
Video of the moment that started it all:
As a staunch capitalist and social liberal, Rick Santelli might not agree with everything being said at Tea Party rallies or this weekend's Right Nation convention in Hoffman Estates, but he's proud of what he wrought.
"People ask me if I'm the father of the Tea Party movement," the CNBC commentator said outside the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. "I was the spark ...that started it. If being the lightning rod that started the Tea Party is what's written on my tombstone, I'll be very happy."
But after his five-minute "rant" on CNBC 1½ years ago suggesting a tea party in Lake Michigan against government spending, Santelli let go and never exercised any control over the movement.
"The five-minute rant was the best five minutes of my life," Santelli says. "But beyond that, really four minutes in time, it's the Tea Party. My wife pointed out to me, 'You were there for the insemination, but you were not there to raise the child.' "
Does Santelli think he created a "Frankenstein's monster" that is toppling establishment Republicans such as Delaware Rep. Mike Castle in favor of Tea Party insurgents such as Christine O'Donnell?
"No, I don't think so, but then again, how it develops from here...," Santelli said without finishing the sentence. "So far, this has been a very proud moment for America. Over time, it will get more organized and police itself -- that's the way we hope it turns out."
There's little doubt the Tea Party groups of America, which operate pretty independently, got their start from Santelli's rant on Feb. 19, 2009.
"Rick Santelli went on, and he expressed frustration at the government," Fox News commentator Glenn Beck -- the headliner at Saturday night's Right Nation event -- said on his show Wednesday. "We're rewarding what he called bad behavior [with] the mortgage bailout. He said there should be a Tea Party. Wow, he said a mouthful, because that's where it started."
Santelli is an unabashed promoter of the free market and critic of government bailouts. He rants a lot on the air, he said. But the day he slammed President Obama's plan to bail out people who couldn't pay their mortgages, he got national attention.
"How 'bout this president and administration? Why don't you put up a website to have people vote on the Internet in a referendum to see if we really want to subsidize the losers' mortgages?" Santelli bellowed on the floor of the Merc. "At least buy cars, buy houses in foreclosure, and give them to people who might have a chance to prosper ...and carry the water, not drink the water."
Turning to the traders around him, he raised his hands and called out -- like Peter Finch in the movie "Network" -- "This is America. How many of you people want to pay for your neighbors' mortgage that has an extra bathroom and can't pay their bills, raise your hand!"
The traders shouted their approval of his argument.
"President Obama, are you listening?" Santelli asked....
PHOTO CREDIT: John J. Kim/Sun-Times
Monday, September 20, 2010
When critics are spouting off about how the Catholic Church needs to needs to embrace the modern world and "get with the times", we must remind ourselves that the Church has flourished for 2000 years, not by embracing the fads of the day, but by standing for universal truth and preserving the deposit of faith.
This point is nicely made by Ross Douhat, in today's New York Times.
...in turning out for their beleaguered pope, Britain’s Catholics acknowledged something essential about their faith that many of the Vatican’s critics, secular and religious alike, persistently fail to understand. They weren’t there to voice agreement with Benedict, necessarily. They were there to show their respect — for the pontiff, for his office, and for the role it has played in sustaining Catholicism for 2,000 years.
Conventional wisdom holds that such respect is increasingly misplaced, and that the papacy is increasingly a millstone around Roman Catholicism’s neck. If it weren’t for the reactionaries in the Vatican, the argument runs, priests might have been permitted to marry, forestalling the sex abuse crisis. Birth control, gay relationships, divorce and remarriage might have been blessed, bringing lapsed Catholics back into the fold. Theological dissent would have been allowed to flourish, creating a more welcoming environment for religious seekers.
And yet none of these assumptions have any real evidence to back them up. Yes, sex abuse has been devastating to the church. But as Newsweek noted earlier this year, there’s no data suggesting that celibate priests commit abuse at higher rates than the population as a whole, or that married men are less prone to pedophilia. (The real problem was the hierarchy’s fear of scandal, which led to endless cover-ups and enabled serial predation.)
And yes, the church’s exclusive theological claims and stringent moral message don’t go over well in a multicultural, sexually liberated society. But the example of Catholicism’s rivals suggests that the church might well be much worse off if it had simply refashioned itself to fit the prevailing values of the age. That’s what the denominations of mainline Protestantism have done, across the last four decades — and instead of gaining members, they’ve dwindled into irrelevance.
The Vatican of Benedict and John Paul II, by contrast, has striven to maintain continuity with Christian tradition, even at the risk of seeming reactionary and out of touch. This has cost the church its once-privileged place in the Western establishment, and earned it the scorn of fashionable opinion. But continuity, not swift and perhaps foolhardy adaptation, has always been the papacy’s purpose, and the secret of its lasting strength.
Catholics do not — should not, must not — look to the Vatican to supply the church with all its saints and visionaries and prophets. (Indeed, many of Catholicism’s greatest figures have had fraught relationships with the Holy See — including John Henry Newman, the man beatified on Sunday.) They look to Rome instead to safeguard what those visionaries achieved, to guard Catholicism’s inheritance, and provide a symbol of unity for a far-flung, billion-member church. They look to Rome for the long view: for the wisdom that not all change is for the better, and that some revolutions are better outlasted than accepted.
On Saturday, Benedict addressed Britain’s politicians in the very hall where Sir Thomas More, the great Catholic martyr, was condemned to death for opposing the reformation of Henry VIII. It was an extraordinary moment, and a reminder of the resilience of Catholicism, across a gulf of years that’s consumed thrones, nations, entire civilizations.
This, above all, is why the crowds cheered for the pope, in Edinburgh and London and Birmingham — because almost five centuries after the Catholic faith was apparently strangled in Britain, their church is still alive.
President Obama is shown below quoting the Declaration of Independence and leaves out the phrase "by our Creator."
Was it a mistake or was it intentional?
If the former, it is a pretty big mistake, given that he's reading it off the teleprompter. The type of mistake that George Bush would have been ridiculed for.
If intentional, why did he leave it out? Does he disagree with attributing our rights to "our Creator"? Is he made uncomfortable by the idea? This is the man after all who told an overseas audience that the United States is not a Christian nation. Is this yet another example that he rejects the traditional values that this country was built upon?
Note the awkward pause at the one minute mark and the pained look on his face, before he skips over the phrase "by our Creator." What is that all about?
Was it a teleprompter error or did he spontaneously decide to drop the phrase?
Sunday, September 19, 2010
Below is a thought-provoking excerpt from Pope Benedict's much anticipated speech at Westminster Hall in London, delivered this past Friday, September 17, 2010.
In the speech, the Holy Father discusses the role of religion in society, as well as the relationship between faith and reason. He expresses concern about the growing "marginalization" of Christianity in otherwise "tolerant" societies.
...The central question at issue, then, is this: where is the ethical foundation for political choices to be found? The Catholic tradition maintains that the objective norms governing right action are accessible to reason, prescinding from the content of revelation. According to this understanding, the role of religion in political debate is not so much to supply these norms, as if they could not be known by non-believers – still less to propose concrete political solutions, which would lie altogether outside the competence of religion – but rather to help purify and shed light upon the application of reason to the discovery of objective moral principles. This “corrective” role of religion vis-à-vis reason is not always welcomed, though, partly because distorted forms of religion, such as sectarianism and fundamentalism, can be seen to create serious social problems themselves. And in their turn, these distortions of religion arise when insufficient attention is given to the purifying and structuring role of reason within religion. It is a two-way process. Without the corrective supplied by religion, though, reason too can fall prey to distortions, as when it is manipulated by ideology, or applied in a partial way that fails to take full account of the dignity of the human person. Such misuse of reason, after all, was what gave rise to the slave trade in the first place and to many other social evils, not least the totalitarian ideologies of the twentieth century. This is why I would suggest that the world of reason and the world of faith – the world of secular rationality and the world of religious belief – need one another and should not be afraid to enter into a profound and ongoing dialogue, for the good of our civilization.
Religion, in other words, is not a problem for legislators to solve, but a vital contributor to the national conversation. In this light, I cannot but voice my concern at the increasing marginalization of religion, particularly of Christianity, that is taking place in some quarters, even in nations which place a great emphasis on tolerance. There are those who would advocate that the voice of religion be silenced, or at least relegated to the purely private sphere. There are those who argue that the public celebration of festivals such as Christmas should be discouraged, in the questionable belief that it might somehow offend those of other religions or none. And there are those who argue – paradoxically with the intention of eliminating discrimination – that Christians in public roles should be required at times to act against their conscience. These are worrying signs of a failure to appreciate not only the rights of believers to freedom of conscience and freedom of religion, but also the legitimate role of religion in the public square. I would invite all of you, therefore, within your respective spheres of influence, to seek ways of promoting and encouraging dialogue between faith and reason at every level of national life...
The Full Speech can be found here.
H/T The Anchoress
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Monday, September 6, 2010
While we must keep in mind that we do not have Notre Dame's side of the story, David Solomon, the Director of the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture, feels very strongly that the recent firing of Notre Dame Administrator Bill Kirk is a great injustice.
Professor Solomon published the following response to the firing (I have highlighted the parts that caught my attention in red):
The decision by Father Tom Doyle, Notre Dame’s new Vice-President for Student Affairs to fire Bill Kirk from his position as Associate Vice-President for Residence Life has left many of us with an empty feeling. It has also put another dent in Notre Dame’s reputation as a family-friendly and compassionate employer. The decision was both unfair and imprudent. It was unfair, because, as a loyal employee of Notre Dame for almost 22 years—and one who had been placed repeatedly in positions where he took the brunt of public criticism for enforcing policies adopted by his superiors—he deserved better from those superiors than to be removed from office with no notice and with no public explanation for his removal. It was imprudent, because administrators of Bill Kirk’s talent, compassion and principled commitment to the good are rare. He loved Notre Dame and he loved and respected the students whose welfare he vigorously pursued.David Solomon's full response can be found here and was published in the Irish Rover on September 3rd of this year.
In addition, his removal from office took place against the background of other events at Notre Dame that inevitably raised questions about its real motivation. Bill Kirk’s office had been the target of the much publicized ire of a grumpy Charlie Weis who, on his way out of town, told the South Bend Tribune that the Office of Residence Life was “the biggest problem on the campus” (SBT, 12-5-09). Perhaps, it seemed to some, Coach Weis, unable to take a scalp from USC, took pleasure in participating in taking one from the less well-armed Bill Kirk.
Bill Kirk, of course, has long been one of the favorite targets of the denizens of ND-Nation and other red-meat web sites where rabid Notre Dame fans gather to cyber-vent. They frequently charge that Bill Kirk’s enforcement of Notre Dame’s disciplinary code was too harsh and that his insistence that Notre Dame athletes be subject to the same rules as other Notre Dame students was responsible for our repeated failures on the athletic fields...
...Of course, it may simply be a coincidence that these events followed so closely on the firing of Bill Kirk—and the “restructuring” Father Doyle gave as his brief explanation for it. Notre Dame’s refusal to give any explanation for Kirk’s firing, however, gives credence to rumors of changed attitudes toward student discipline—especially as it relates to the athletic department. One can understand the general wisdom of Notre Dame’s oft-repeated policy commitment—“we will not comment on personnel matters”—but such silence has a price when actions are as ambiguous in their intent as the firing of Bill Kirk. And the price seems far too high when the issues at stake are of such importance—they concern, for example, as this action did, the essential fairness of procedures for student discipline and the integrity of the athletic program on which so much of Notre Dame’s corporate endeavors seem to be recently focused. At a university that now casually refers to the “business of college football” and the “Notre Dame brand”, special vigilance is needed to protect basic fairness from the intrusion of corporate interests...
...The larger role played by Bill Kirk and his family at Notre Dame and in the local community also raises questions about the wisdom—indeed, the fairness—of severing him from this community. Bill’s wife, Elizabeth, has played a very visible role on campus in recent years as the Associate Director of the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture. She has also figured prominently in campus affairs as the faculty advisor for the Right to Life Club and the Identity Project. She has been one of a very few articulate and confident pro-life women on campus prepared to mentor young women seeking to take on the tricky balancing act of wife, mother and career. She has increasingly played a role nationally and internationally as a leading pro-life spokesperson and, together with her husband, has forged important links between Notre Dame and other organizations in the community. As official faculty advisor to the Right to Life Club, Elizabeth served as primary advisor to the student coalition formed in the spring of 2009 as “NDResponse” and served as a conduit for many, including junior, untenured faculty members, who were unwilling to get involved directly for fear of reprisal. Without compromising his administrative duties, Bill stood with the students of NDResponse at their rally on the South Quad on Commencement day. He was the only senior administrator at Notre Dame willing to do so. With the firing of Bill Kirk, Notre Dame will almost certainly also be deprived of Elizabeth’s talents.
At the time Bill took part in the NDResponse rally, many people commented on the courage it took for him to stand with his wife and other witnesses to this protest of Notre Dame’s decision to award President Obama an honorary degree. I personally discounted these worries, believing that the Notre Dame administration would admire him for his principled stand on a matter so close to the Catholic heart of Notre Dame, even if they disagreed with his particular action...
...Perhaps, alas, there was reason for Bill Kirk to be worried about his participation in NDResponse after all. There is no doubt that the treatment of Bill Kirk this summer will have a chilling effect on the participation of other administrators, unprotected by the safety net of tenure, in the great debates about public policy and moral principle into which Notre Dame will be inevitably drawn. A number of other administrators have told me that in light of Bill Kirk’s treatment, they will in the future keep their heads down rather than dissent from the policies of the central administration. It will be tragic if these pressures toward uniformity become a permanent feature of Notre Dame life. Universities are no place for yes-men.
It is, however, the callousness and the brutal insensitivity with which Bill and Elizabeth Kirk were effectively severed from the Notre Dame community that has had the greatest impact on those of us who regard them as personal friends. And here I must speak very personally. The Kirks’ house has been an oasis of hospitality for faculty, students and administrators at Notre Dame, as well as for their countless friends and acquaintances in the larger South Bend community and from around the world. It is perhaps their own penchant for hospitality and welcome that makes their treatment by Notre Dame seem so appalling.
The parents of two young adopted children, Bill and Elizabeth Kirk were in the process, as Bill Kirk’s bosses well knew, of adopting a third child at the time he was fired. Can one imagine Father Doyle firing an at-will employee of Notre Dame with 22 years of service, two toddlers at home and a wife in the early stages of labor with a third child? As adoptive parents, this was the Kirk’s situation. The disruption in their life, and the life of their young family, suddenly and with no prior notice, has been wrenching for them as well as for their many friends. The excuse given for Bill Kirk’s firing, “restructuring”, seems strange indeed. It is impossible to believe, for example, that the firing was part of a larger organizational shift in the Office of Residence Life, since Bill Kirk seems to be the only person in the office whose job was eliminated...
...It may be that in an era when Notre Dame has become more of a brand and less of a community, such actions are no longer possible and that those of us who long for them are simply being naive. If so, it is surely a great loss. The Kirks will survive their brutal treatment by Our Lady’s University. They are people of enormous energy and talent—and goodness. They will make new friends and contribute to other communities elsewhere. It is those of us left behind who are the real losers, and those responsible for the firing of Bill Kirk may suffer the biggest losses of all.
H/T: National Review Online (NRO). NRO's take on the situation can be found here.