Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Random Election Thoughts

So it's exactly 1 week since the US election and I'm still a little shell shocked. I honestly believed that Romney and Ryan were going to pull it off. I even took some time off work and travelled down to Ohio to help out with the Romney campaign in the final stretch, in spite of the result it was a great time and I'm glad I took the time to stand up for freedom.

I hate hurricanes, at least I hate how the media seems to be able to turn every hurricane into a disaster for the Republican party. Seriously the liberal spin machine is incredible, the embassy attacks in Libya were a disaster, the cover ups were criminal, and at the end of the day President Obama was more trusted on foreign policy than Romney. Then there's the stock market, news reports say there's fear that a "divided government won't be able to avoid the fiscal cliff." That's it, it's the House Republican's fault! I think it's far more likely that financial markets are concerned about the President's ability to manage the economy, but the media will always find a way to matter of factly pin it on the conservatives.

There will be serious consequences. I'm more optimistic than I was about religious freedom. I think the coalition of Catholics, Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, and Mormons will continue to grow and develop their messages on religious freedom. There will be attacks, but there will be an effective defence.

On the economy, I hold out a lot less hope. I predict there will be at least another round of quantitative easing and America will receive successive credit downgrades. The US dollar will begin depreciating against most major currencies, probably even the Euro. Interest rates will rise sharply despite the efforts of the Federal Reserve. Unemployment will rebound and move above 8%.

On Foreign Affairs, I'm down right fearful of what will happen. Iran, Russia, China and North Korea will be emboldened knowing that Obama has no interest in maintaining American military superiority or preventing Iran from producing nuclear weapons. I can't predict what will happen but if I lived in Israel, I'd be very afraid.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Mitt Romney on EWTN

Mitt Romney gave an in depth interview to EWTN about a month ago. The interview was excellent; it really seemed to effectively help you get to know him as a man and as a leader. By far the most significant thing in the interview was the discussion about freedom, specifically freedom of religion:
Raymond Arroyo: The Catholic community in this country and people across the faith spectrum were outraged by President Obama’s HHS Mandate – requiring abortifacients and contraceptives to be made available to employees. It set off protests by the Catholic bishops and individual people of faith. What will you do as president about that HHS Mandate?

Gov. Romney: Well, first of all I’ll continue to meet with to Cardinal [Timothy] Dolan [of New York and President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops] – who by the way is going to offer the benediction on the last evening of the Republican Convention after my acceptance speak. So I am making it very clear that the interest of religious freedom is something I support wholeheartedly and will work with him and with others to assure that each piece of legislation that we consider is thought also in terms of its impact on religious freedom and tolerance. This is a nation where our first freedom is the right to worship God as we choose, and any effort on the part of the federal government to intrude on religious liberty and to reject tolerance in favor of a government mandate is a violation of that first freedom.
It was probably as successful as anything else he has done in order to make himself accessible and real, and it places him in stark contrast to President Obama who sems to disdain people of faith and continuously reduces freedom of religion to "freeodom of  worship."

Friday, July 06, 2012

Reflections on the Fornight for Freedom

In the 14 days leading up to July 4th, American Catholics and many others who are concerned about religious freedom participated in the "Fortnight for Freedom," a campaign of prayer and teaching in support of religious freedom.

The campaign was kicked off in response to the Obama administration's new regulation forcing all employers including religious institutions such as schools and hospitals to pay for contraceptives, and chemical abortions for their employees. But as Dwight G. Duncan (not Ontario's Finance Minister) noted, there are numerous signs that religious liberty is being threatened world wide:
Now we are implicated in this battle over the HHS mandate concerning contraceptives, abortion-inducing drugs, and sterilization. It could’ve been another flashpoint. Denmark, for example, has just passed a law requiring the official state Lutheran church to solemnize same-sex weddings. In Ireland, the government is seriously proposing to abolish the centuries-old priest-penitent privilege, thus enabling the government to force priests to violate the sacred seal of confession, something that has been well-settled in the common law since the days of Henry II and St. Thomas Becket. In Nigeria, in what seems like a weekly ritual, Christians are being killed for attending church.
It's an incomplete list to be sure. Ontario Catholic schools will now be forced to sponsor gay clubs for students, and a German judge has just declared it a crime to circumcise a child.

Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia kicked off the campaign with an excellent explanation of situation that was neatly summarized by Frank Weathers:
1. First, religious freedom is a cornerstone of the American experience.

2. Freedom of religion is more than freedom of worship.

3. Threats against religious freedom in our country are not imaginary. They’re happening right now. They’re immediate, serious, and real.
4. Unless we work hard to keep our religious liberty, we’ll lose it.
5. Politics and the courts are important. But our religious freedom ultimately depends on the vividness of our own Christian faith–in other words, how deeply we believe it, and how honestly we live it.
It's true, we must live our faith and not shy away from expressing its principles in public if we want to keep our freedom and contribute to a just and vibrant society.
Archbishop Chaput also gave an inspiring homily to close the fortnight:
In coming years, we’ll face more and more serious challenges to religious liberty in our country. This is why the Fortnight for Freedom has been so very important.

And yet, the political and legal effort to defend religious liberty – as vital as it is – belongs to a much greater struggle to master and convert our own hearts, and to live for God completely, without alibis or self-delusion. The only question that finally matters is this one: Will we live wholeheartedly for Jesus Christ? If so, then we can be a source of freedom for the world. If not, nothing else will do.
And so we have been called to "live wholeheartedly for Jesus" so that "we can be a source of freedom for the world." I pray that I can follow that call by taking every opportunity to defend religious liberty and by living faithfully so that I can be a credible witness.

I hope that a similar effort can take place in Canada in the near future.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Vote Your Conscience

I just came across this video urging Catholics to vote for life, marriage, and freedom in the upcoming US election. The same should be said for all of us up here in Canada. Our religious freedoms are rapidly being eroded here as well. With Prime Minister Harper stifiling debate about protecting human life and Premier McGuinty forcing Catholic schools to sponsor gay clubs, its time to realize how much our governments are working to marginalize people of faith.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Foreign Policy Obama's Strength???

Writing in a front page article in the Globe and Mail Konrad Yakabuski is positively glowing with praise over President Obama's allegedly wildly successful foreign policy:
Because he has a good story to tell about his foreign-policy achievements, and cannot tout his economic record in quite the same way, Mr. Obama is making the most of it.

On the first anniversary of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, the President swooped into Afghanistan on the pretext of having reached a deal to stick by the Afghans but also end America’s military entanglement there.

But Mr. Obama’s dramatic Tuesday night speech to Americans from a U.S. military base in Afghanistan was also meant to persuade voters that he has aced his responsibilities as Commander-in-Chief – and rub his foreign-policy successes in Republican faces.

It was election-year stagecraft at its finest.

In 2008, Mr. Obama campaigned like a peacenik and was derided as hopelessly na├»ve about foreign policy – first by Hillary Clinton, his rival for the Democratic nomination, and then by John McCain, the onetime prisoner-of-war and that year’s GOP nominee.

Yet, foreign policy is the one sphere in which Mr. Obama has exceeded expectations in office. His Nobel Peace Prize notwithstanding, he has shown himself to be a cool-headed – and, if necessary, ruthless – practitioner of realpolitik and proved the naysayers wrong.

Who could blame him for taking a victory lap or three?
There's so much wrong with this article it's not funny. True it may be "election-year stagecraft at its finest," but exceeded expectations?? He was awarded the Nobel Peace prize based what he hoped to do. Judging by the massive crowds at his speaches in Germany and Cairo early in his presidency, expectations were pretty high that he would be ushering a new era of world peace. I'm not sure he's quite accomplished it, rather it seems that  President Obama has been a complete failure at foreign policy. Just off the top of my head:
  • He's had an insencere approach to Israel, funding the Palestinian Authority, and only offering tepid support to their right to self defense.
  • Iran has accelerated its Nuclear program consequence free.
  • A reflex to apologize unecesarily making America look weak and demoralizing his troops as evidenced by his apology for burning copies of the Koran that were being used to transmit messages between prisoners.
  • North Korea attempted to launch a rocket capable of launching an InterContinental Ballistic Missile only weeks after signing a deal where the US agreed to provide food aid in exchange for North Korea suspending its program.
  • NATO's successful air support campaign to Libya's rebels was accomplished without American leadership. (That's when the ridiculous phrase 'leading from behind' was coined.)
  • American troops have essentially been kicked out of Iraq
  • The security situation in Afghanistan deteriorated steadily with no clear sense of mission for the US troops and no rhetorical support for the effort from the President.
  • He has displayed regretable moral equivalency when Christians have been attacked during worship by muslim extremists in Egypt, Iraq, and elsewhere.
  • His off-mic comments to the Russian Prime Minister on missle defense, “This is my last election, after my election, I have more flexibility” also demonstrate insincerity to an incredible degree.
President Obama does deserve credit for giving the order to kill Osama bin Laden, but to equate that one success with a successful foreign policy seems completely hollow.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Rick Santorum for President

In honour of Rick Santorum's resounding victory in Kansas tonight (51% to 21% for Santorum), I want to join these girls in singing Game On!

I wish we had a leader half as inspiring as Rick up here in Canada.

From his record we know he places a genuine emphasis on the dignity of every person and that he refuses to buy into environmental alarmism. His speech on Super Tuesday was especially insightful highlighting to Americans that their freedom is at stake because of the rapid expansion of government:

We are running deficits, where we’re borrowing 40 cents of every dollar.

And as you look at all of the young people here, the leaders in Washington are
saying to you, on your tab, and you will pay for this, the rest of your life.

What right does the government have to do that to the next generation?

I hadn't heard it put quite so eloquently, but he's right, the rate of borrowing and printing money in the US is almost immoral. Later he said:

They believe that it’s no longer possible for free enterprise, a free economy, and free people to be able to build strong communities and families and be able to provide for themselves and their neighbors. No, we now need an increasingly powerful federal government to do this for us.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the beginning of the end of freedom in America. Once the government has control of your life, then they got you.

And of course the greatest example of expansionist government taking away individual freedom is the undemocratic implementation of Obamacare:

we need people to go up against President Obama and his vision of a top-down government control, of not just health care, but of energy and of manufacturing and of financial services, and who knows what else is next.

But this is a -- this is a president who believes -- who believes that he simply is better able to do this than you are, that he will be fairer than you are with your fellow man. Ladies and gentlemen, this is an election about fundamental liberty. And
the signature piece, the signature piece of legislation that points this out, where you have economic rights created by the government, and then the government using its heavy hand to force you to buy insurance, to force you to take policies that you don’t want, and, of course, to force you to take coverages that may even violate your faith convictions...

Rick Santorum gets the importance of this election, and clearly believes what he says. No wonder these young girls and the people of Kansas are inspired!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

American Catholics Should be Bursting with Pride

This priest's entertaining rant against President Obama's infamous Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate that forces religious institutions to provide funding for sterilizations, chemical abortion inducing drugs, and contraceptives is fun and refreshing:

It's only part of the story however. The impressive moral clarity that has come from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (the only legitimate voice for the Catholic Church in the US) is inspiring. They have rightly identified this issue and the fake accomodation offered by President as a grave moral concern and fundamental issue of religious freedom that affects insurers, employers and individuals.

In doing so they have defended religious liberty for all Americans, and earned the respect of many protestants and secularists. One of the best endorsements came from Forbes writer Charles Kladec:

Before our very eyes, President Obama is on the verge of establishing the principle that the right to religious freedom comes not from our Creator, but from those who rule us. A government endowed right granted to women now trumps our unalienable right to act in accordance with our religious beliefs and conscience. Not only does this overturn the First Amendment, it also tramples the nation’s founding principles as announced in the Declaration of Independence. Such an achievement would be the true audacity of power.
. . .
I am not a Catholic, nor do I believe in the Church’s opposition to contraception. But I pray that the leadership of the Catholic Church will have the faith and courage to stand for its core beliefs and use all of its moral power and political influence to defeat the President’s edict. I pray they will reach out across the political spectrum to people of all faiths, agnostics and atheists in the name of religious freedom and individual liberty. By so doing, they, and the institution of the Catholic Church, will have my love and respect for the rest of my life.
Powerful stuff. It makes me proud to be Catholic. It also underlines the importance of the issue. Tyrants through out history have tried to stamp out religious freedom in order increase their power. Michael Polson outlines a startling similar comparison to an edict forcing Jews to eat pork and a similarly pathetic 'accomodation'

In the second century B.C., the foreign tyrant Antiochus IV Epiphanes decreed that all Jews should be forced to violate their religious consciences by publicly eating pork and food sacrificed to idols. “If any were not willing to eat defiling food, they were to be broken on the wheel and killed” (4 Maccabees 5:3). It was a command of gratuitous forced submission as a sign of Antiochus’s supreme authority to compel obedience by a subject people.

But it was not to be: “And when many persons had been rounded up, one man, Eleazar by name, leader of the flock, was brought before the king.” Eleazar was an old man. Antiochus, who said he respected Eleazar for his “gray hairs,” tried to persuade him to submit to the command to eat pork: “‘why, when nature has granted it to us, should you abhor eating the very excellent meat of this animal? It is senseless not to enjoy delicious things that are not shameful, and wrong to spurn the gifts of nature.’” A reasonable enough argument—if one does not appreciate religious conscience.

Antiochus went on: “‘it seems to me that you will do something even more senseless if, by holding a vain opinion concerning the truth, you continue to despise me to your own hurt. Will you not awaken from your foolish philosophy, dispel your futile reasoning, adopt a mind appropriate to your years, philosophize according to the truth of what is beneficial, and have compassion on your old age by honoring my humane advice?’” And then, the convincing clincher: if compelled by torture, Eleazar’s actions surely would be excused by his God! “‘For consider this, that if there is some power watching over this religion of yours, it will excuse you from any transgression that arises out of compulsion’” (4 Maccabees 5:6–13).

Eleazar declined, stating that no compulsion was more powerful than obedience to God. “‘Therefore do not suppose that it would be a petty sin if we were to eat defiling food; to transgress the law in matters either small or great is of equal seriousness, for in either case the law is equally despised’” (4 Maccabees 5:19–20).

Antiochus had Eleazar stripped and scourged nearly to death. Then, “partly out of sympathy from their acquaintance with him, partly out of admiration for his endurance, some of the king’s retinue offered Eleazar an accommodation: “‘Eleazar, why are you so irrationally destroying yourself through these evil things? We will set before you some cooked meat; save yourself by pretending to eat pork’” (4 Maccabees 6:14–15).

It was a rather inspired political maneuver: the tyrant’s authority to compel obedience would be vindicated. At the same time, the misguided dictates of pathetic religious conscience would (surely) be satisfied. But Eleazar would have none of the charade. . .

I'm thankful that the US Bishops will also have none of Obama's charade. Congress should act quickly to protect religious freedoms. Catholics in particular should be proud and supportive of their bishops and more generally the fact that this mandate was passed at all is an important example of why it is essential for people of faith to be involved in politics, because those who argue that they should not participate in politics will run over their rights at the first opportunity.