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For anyone that was curious, I am against the Death Penalty.  It is not only an ineffective deterrent, it is not only an expensive process, it is also an immoral practice.

As a Catholic, I am always annoyed by non-Catholics trying to obfuscate the church’s position, which is quite clear. There are even some Republican Catholics who try to ignore the church’s clear position on the matter.

What I find funny, is that Protestant Christians are totally gung-ho about war, the death penalty, and endorse many Conservative policies, which are clearly in opposition to a dignified life. They forget that they claim to be pro-life, yet they are more or less anti-abortion, not pro-life.

On the blog NewsBusters.org, the author blasts a CNN report by Roland Martin during which he presses a Republican Catholic commentator to acknowledge that the death penalty and abortion are both life issues. The blog’s author, Matthew Balan, writes, “He teamed up with the liberal Catholic priest to incorrectly give the impression that the Catholic Church’s opposition to the death penalty rises to the same level as its opposition to abortion.” What he does not realize, as a non-Catholic, is that Roland Martin is absolutely correct: the Death Penalty and abortion are on equal footing, in terms of being unacceptable.

Balan goes on to cite the Catholic Churches Catechism in a lame attempt to justify the use of abortion: “Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.” While the Catechism does say this, he neglects to include the whole passage, which is as follows:

If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity with the dignity of the human person.

Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm—without definitively taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself—the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically non-existent.”

Notice the last phrase “are very rare, if not practically non-existent.”

What this blogger also fails to understand, is that the Catholic church was a huge supporter of the UN’s resolution calling for a moratorium on the death penalty across the globe. A Vatican spokesman, Father Lombardi, following the passage of the December 2008 resolution, said, “It shows that despite the persistence of so much violence in the world, there is a growing awareness in the human family of the value of life, of the dignity of every person and of the concept of a nonvindictive punishment”. The Vatican also condemned the execution of Saddam Hussein: “Cardinal Renato Martino, Pope Benedict XVI’s top prelate for justice issues and a former Vatican envoy to the United Nations, said that Saddam’s execution would punish ‘a crime with another crime’ and expressed hope that the sentence would not be carried out.”


Pope John Paul II forgives the man who shot him in an assassination attempt

Pope John Paul II was a fervent opponent of the death penalty. In 1999, JP2 proclaimed, “Modern society has the means of protecting itself, without definitively denying criminals the chance to reform. I renew the appeal I made most recently at Christmas for a consensus to end the death penalty, which is both cruel and unnecessary.” Not only did he remind us that Christ, too, was given the death penalty, but that he offered hope to the criminals who were also being crucified: “I tell you with certainty, today you will be with me in Paradise.” The Pope was clear in his opposition to capital punishment. He clarified that, it being the ultimate form of punishment, it denied the convicted the opportunity of redemption and reform. “We cannot teach that killing is wrong by killing.” He also put the death penalty on par with abortion, as they both are symbolic of “a culture of death.” Most Protestant Christians base their support of the death penalty in the Old Testament: however, as Pope John Paul wrote, “in the Old Testament this sense of the value of life… does not yet reach the refinement found in the Sermon on the Mount. This is apparent in some aspects of the current penal legislation, which provided for severe forms of corporal punishment and even the death penalty. But the overall message, which the New Testament will bring to perfection, is a forceful appeal for respect for the inviolability of physical life and the integrity of the person.” Capital punishment, in short, is not in keeping with any biblical teachings about the sanctity of life, despite weak attempts by Protestants to justify the death penalty.

While Pope Benedict has not been as forthright as his predecessor, he has still been clear on opposing the death penalty. Where he has not been as vocal as his predecessor, there are Cardinals and Bishops across the globe who have been outspoken on the matter. For instance, Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, said that the death penalty was “contrary to the great Christian values which sustain the universal rights of man,” and added that he looked forward to the day when the practice was “definitively eliminated.” Pope Benedict has argued, however, that it is not impossible for the death penalty to be justified, but noted that according to the Church’s criteria it is “practically impossible” in today’s modern society. He congratulated the President of the Phillipines for ending the death penalty; he did the same for Bill Richardson, New Mexico Governor, who recently ended the death penalty in his state.

In the final analysis, the death penalty is an unacceptable for of punishment. It stains our collective sense of justice and it makes us all guilty of murder. Though people who commit murder are deserving of harsh sentences, it is morally unacceptable, and illogical, to assume that reciprocating murder is justice. It is not.

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John McCain is a sore loser.

Ever since President Barack Obama took office, McCain has griped and complained about all of the President’s proposals and has only endorsed policies that reflect the Bush-era way of running the country. Well, George W. Bush is no longer President, and neither are the Republicans. Democrats are now in charge, and John McCain and the GOP can’t stand it. Jon Stewart put it best when he said: “It’s supposed to taste like a shit taco.”
Instead of being an opposition party with constructive ideas and criticisms, they have embraced obstructionism and outright demagoguery, in hopes of regaining seat during the mid-term elections. Their pseudo-populism makes me vomit a little bit.

John McCain put his madness on display last tuesday after a recent Department of Homeland Security report, which warned that right-wing extremist groups have been trying to recruit disillusioned veterans. After the report’s release, John McCain demanded an apology from the White House for “insulting” veterans. But John McCain wasn’t the only one filled with self-righteous anger: Pat Robertson was also hysterical, as he made a complete fool of himself (which he does often) on his show. Robertson was clearly agitated as he complained that the DHS was conducting a witch-hunt against veterans, pro-life groups, gun rights groups, and groups opposed to illegal immigration. Robertson complained that the Obama administration was attempting to take away their basic constitutional rights to free speech. Both McCain and Robertson have intentionally mischaracterized the report.

The cries from the right (and some from within the Democratic party) have grown so loud that DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano has been forced to apologize on several occasions for the wording in the report, which others have construed to be offensive. There have even been demands that she resign and face a congressional hearing. Jeez! Republicans are so eager to burn Napolitano at the stake for an accurate security assessment, but they are wholly opposed to any form of congressional hearings or investigative panels into the wrongdoings of the Bush administration. As far as I’m concerned, the DHS report doesn’t even come close to being as offensive as the use of torture during interrogations, which was enthusiastically endorsed by Bush, Cheney, and the whole administration. I don’t recall John McCain demanding a White House apology for that. I don’t recall Pat Robertson being outraged over Bush-era counter-terrorism policies that clearly violated our constitutional rights. Despite the fact that Napolitano did succumb to pressure to apologize, she insists that she will not resign.

But what exactly did the report say that has everyone so riled up? If you’re interested, I suggest you read the report yourself. The report itself is only nine pages long, and it is fairly uncontroversial. It begins, roughly, by asserting that a Democratic administration, with the first African American President, has given new vigor to radical right-wing extremist groups, who “may be gaining new recruits by playing on their fears about several emergent issues… [such as] real estate foreclosures, unemployment, and an inability to obtain credit.” The resurgence of radicalized right-wing groups parallels the rapid growth of right-wing extremist groups during the 1990’s, when Bill Clinton was President.

The obvious consequence was the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19, 1995 carried out by Timothy McVeigh. McVeigh was a Gulf War veteran who was radicalized by right-wing extremist propaganda, such as the fear of a New World Order, a single global currency, a single global police force, and the belief that the government planned to take out every gun owner so that the UN could easily take over the country. He collected large quantities of guns and ammo, and one of his favorite books was The Turner Diaries. He also believed that the government had implanted a computer chip in his butt. McVeigh had returned home from war a hero, but he became disillusioned with his country and the military, and he found it difficult to find employment. In an angry letter to the Lockport Union Sun & Journal, published on February 11, 1992, McVeigh wrote:

…Taxes are a joke. Regardless of what a political candidate “promises” they will increase. They mess up we suffer…Racism on the rise? You had better believe it… No one is seeing the “big” picture… What is it going to take to open the eyes of our elected officials? America is in serious decline. We have no proverbial tea to dump. Should we instead sink a ship full of Japanese imports? Is a civil war imminent? Do we have to shed blood to reform the current system? I hope it doesn’t come to that, but it might.

Clearly, for McVeigh, he felt that the broken system required the shedding of blood. Many of his gripes and concerns can be heard to this day. Believe me: I attended a TEA party rally!

All of this made him easy prey for radicals such as Terry Nichols (also a Gulf War veteran) and James Nichols. The group practiced making bombs, collected right-wing extremist propaganda, and collected guns. The Waco and Ruby Ridge incidents were all the proof they needed to see to understand that the government was waging war against people like them. As McVeigh’s hatred intensified, he began wearing a shirt with a picture of President Lincoln on the front– with the words SIC SEMPER TYRANNISTHUS EVER TO TYRANTS. On the back was a picture of a bleeding tree with the words of President Jefferson: THE TREE OF LIBERTY MUST BE REFRESHED FROM TIME TO TIME WITH THE BLOOD OF PATRIOTS. It was only a matter of time before McVeigh and the Nichols brothers would plan and execute the deadly Oklahoma City bombing, which took the lives of 168 people– 19 of whom were children.


Notice his shirt

The report cites an even more recent case, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where “three police officers” were shot to death, “on 4 April 2009. The alleged gunman’s reaction reportedly was influenced by his racist ideology and belief in antigovernment conspiracy theories related to gun confiscations, citizen detention camps, and a Jewish-controlled ‘one world government.’” These beliefs are eerily similar to the ones held by McVeigh, and these people are not alone. Many of these people are online, where they can exchange more of these racist anti-government ideologies and can potentially plot domestic acts of terrorism.

The critics (McCain, Robertson, et al.) complain that the report targets conservatives who disagree with the “leftist” policies of the Obama administration. This is clearly not so. The report clearly indicates that their focus is on radical and extremist groups who are prone to commit violence. The report does not focus on everyday Americans exercising their right to free speech. Those people on the right who have their panties all in a bunch are having a hard time differentiating themselves from the radicals, which seems weird to me. Let me put it this way: a protester outside of Planned Parenthood to commemorate the anniversary of Roe V. Wade is not who the report is talking about– it’s the loon who commemorates the occasion by blowing up an abortion clinic. It’s not the asinine religious zealot with a religious “news” network who has to worry– it’s the asinine anti-semite who shoots up a synagogue that we should worry about. Of course, in both examples, the damage is already done before the offender’s extremism is fully realized. We live in a free country where people can pretty much say and do whatever they want. The consequence, as events have shown, is that people take advantage of our freedom to commit horrible acts of violence. Should we limit freedom to stop these people? Bush and his ilk would say, “YES!” However, I say, “No.” If we want to live in a free society, we have to understand that that freedom can have violent consequences. What we can do, all of us, is be aware of our friends and family members who take their grievances to the extremes. I’m not talking about the sort of snitching the government encouraged during the red scare of the 1950’s. Timothy McVeigh’s friends all remembered him talking about committing acts of violence, but they never reported it or even found it strange. Of course, after the Oklahoma City bombing it made sense, but hindsight is 20/20, right?


Timothy McVeigh

Illegal immigration is another issue that is a rallying call for extremist groups. White supremacists, especially perturbed by the election of an African American President, are especially concerned by the influx of Mexican immigrants into our country. There already has been an increase in the number of crimes committed against Hispanics. The report cites two instances: “In April 2007, six militia members were arrested for various weapons and explosives violations. Open source reporting alleged that those arrested had
discussed and conducted surveillance for a machine gun attack on Hispanics. A militia member in Wyoming was arrested in February 2007 after communicating his plans to travel to the Mexican border to kill immigrants crossing into the United States.” This is not language protected under the First Amendment. If you’re as ignorant as Pat Robertson, maybe this is acceptable language, but for society (and the LAW) this is not acceptable language: indeed, this is quite illegal.

The section of the report that has stirred up the most controversy is the section titled “Disgruntled Military Veterans.” Notice that it doesn’t say Military Veterans. It specifically uses the term “disgruntled” so as to avoid confusion. In our heavily politicized country, the McCains and Robertsons of the country have deliberately mischaracterized the report in order to score political points, or to bring down the President’s poll numbers. Disgruntled veterans, such as Timothy McVeigh, return home from war with anti-government sentiments. They possess training and skills that radical right-wing groups would love to take advantage of. True, as McCain points out, McVeigh never built a bomb during his time in Iraq and Kuwait, but he certainly regarded his mission to destroy the Murrah building in Oklahoma City in military terms. This, for him, was the full use of his powers to strike back at a corrupt political system, draw a substantial amount of blood, and gain national attention to his cause for reform. As the report makes clear, there were a number of Gulf War veterans who joined the ranks of radical right-wing groups during the 1990’s.

The DHS report actually cites the FBI, which “noted in a 2008 report on the white supremacist movement that some returning military veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have joined extremist groups.” This report, mind you, was written in 2008 under the Bush administration, yet it did not elicit calls from McCain for an apology or calls of resignation from Republicans. The hypocrisy is vast and sickening. These people are now trying to paint themselves as targets of the Obama administration, targeted only because they have political differences. That’s just bullshit. They neglect to mention, of course, that on January 26th, the DHS also issued a report regarding left-wing extremists. Using their “logic,” Obama’s targeting everyone.

The report says the following:

[It] assesses that lone wolves and small terrorist cells embracing violent rightwing
extremist ideology are the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat in the United States. Information from law enforcement and nongovernmental organizations indicates lone wolves and small terrorist cells have shown intent—and, in some cases, the capability—to commit violent acts.
— (U//LES) DHS/I&A has concluded that white supremacist lone wolves pose the most
significant domestic terrorist threat because of their low profile and autonomy—separate fromany formalized group—which hampers warning efforts.
— (U//FOUO) Similarly, recent state and municipal law enforcement reporting has warned of the dangers of rightwing extremists embracing the tactics of “leaderless resistance” and of lone wolves carrying out acts of violence.
— (U//FOUO) Arrests in the past several years of radical militia members in Alabama, Arkansas, and Pennsylvania on firearms, explosives, and other related violations indicates the emergence of small, well-armed extremist groups in some rural areas.

The report concludes that the political climate (i.e., African American President and a Democrat controlled government), technological advances, and the downward spiral of the economy, are all factors in the resurgence of right-wing extremist groups.

The report in no way concludes that all veterans are susceptible to these extremists groups, nor does it conclude that citizens with conservative “values” are potential terrorists. The report is very clear about drawing a line between people with honest policy differences (as protected by our constitution) and those who are potential domestic terrorists.

John McCain, you owe the American people an apology. You have deliberately mischaracterized and misinterpreted the DHS report for political gain. You are a disgrace and you should be ashamed of yourself. You have proven to be just as underhanded and deceitful as you were during the 2008 election. Please go away.

Again, the report is very short and I encourage people to read it.

Here it is.

Peter Schiff predicted the current economic crisis as early as 2006. He was openly mocked for his predictions and critiques about the Bush economy. If it wasn’t such a disaster it’d be comical.

Watch the clip and comment!

First and foremost, I am pro-life. Now, I know a lot of you probably think, “Oh, he’s one of these Ultra-right wing Christians who hate women.”

Wrong!

I am actually a fairly liberal guy who proudly voted for Hillary Clinton in the California primary.  I love women. I’m married to one. But I also love life.

Where I differ from right-wing extremists, is the fact that I am actually pro-life. That means I am against abortion, but I am also against the death penalty, I am against needless war, I am for a healthy and clean environment, I am for raising the minimum wage, I am for Universal Health Care, and I am for equal quality education across our country. The economic and social justice that the Democratic party fights for actually reduces the number of abortions across the country. The right-wingers don’t support any of these pro-life measures. See, the right-wingers are simply anti-abortion. They are not pro-life.

Which brings me to my next point: we need to forget about Roe v. Wade. That single court ruling has had the most imapct upon our society since Brown v. Board of Education. I think most people, whether “pro-life” or “pro-choice” (both ridiculous and stupid labels that mean nothing) can agree that nobody likes abortion. Is that some common ground we can all stand upon? I think it is.

From there, I argue that we should, as a nation, have better Sex Education in our schools. As an educator, I can see how pervasive sexuality is, even at the junior high level. That may be where we need to begin. Education is the best tool we have, so we ought to use it to fight unneccessary abortions from unwanted pregnancies. That means teaching our kids how to use contraceptives effectively. It also means emphasizing abstinence (I am by no means advocating abstinence only education). Prevention is crucial.

But schools can only do so much. Parents need to better educate their children in the home about sexuality. They need to be more firm and direct with their children with rules and boundaries. I see it all the time: parents allow their children to do whatever they want, whenever they want, at all hours of the day. This is certainly not true in all cases, but I do see this as the norm. We would have fewer Jamie Lynn Spears’ and Bristol Palins running around the country if parents took on the responsibility of parenthood.

I am Catholic. Abortion is an important issue for Catholics, as it is for many Protestants. I find myself, at times, arguing with Christians about whether or not to vote for a Democrat because the party supports abortion. My view is, an educated voter needs to weigh all the issues, not just a single issue that provokes an emotional response, and vote for the candidate that best represents the common interest. Republican candidates know that  every election cycle there will be a core group of voters that simply ignores all the issues and votes primarily on the abortion issue. There are many good, honest, hardworking people who are perpetually in hard times who consistently vote for Republicans, even though it is not in their economic best interest. The Republican candidate, once elected, will go back to Washington and simply shelve the abortion issue until the next election, and then will proceed to pursue their actual agenda, which is to uphold the status quo the elites. 

I think it is interesting, as I wrote earlier, to mention that abortion rates actually go down when we have Democratic administrations, as opposed to the increase in abortion rates under Republican administrations. Take, for example, according to the recent Guttmacher study, the fact that abortion rates went down more dramatically under President Clinton, going from 1.61 million abortions in 1990 to 1.31 abortions in 2000. Between 1992 and 1996, there was a 3.4% decline in abortion rates per year; between 1996 and 2000 there was a decline of 1.2% per year. Under President Bush, the number of abortions performed went from 1.31 million (in 2000) to 1.2 million (in 2005, the most recent data). That is a decline of only 0.9% per year. Why is that? It is because people who are in hard times, who have an unexpected pregnancy, are more likely to consider having an abortion  than they are when they are in economic good times.

The findings of a study released in October 2007 also point to the need to abandon the fight to overturn Roe v. Wade. The study, conducted by the World Health Organization in Geneva and the Guttmacher Institute in New York , found that abortion rates tend to be the same in countries where abortion is legal and where abortion is illegal. Virtually the same! The legality of abortion makes no difference! What is different, however, is the safety of abortions being performed and the mortality of the woman having the abortion. The study found that the women in countries where abortion was outlawed were drinking turpentine, bleach or tea made with livestock manure; inserting herbal preparations into the vagina or cervix; placing foreign bodies, such as a stick, coat hanger or chicken bone, into the uterus; or jumping from the top of stairs or a roof. The study found that there “Worldwide, an estimated five million women are hospitalized each year for treatment of abortion-related complications, such as hemorrhage and sepsis… [and] Complications due to unsafe abortion procedures account for an estimated 13% of maternal deaths worldwide, or 67,000 per year.” How is this pro-life? It is not.

Again, I turn back to the need for better sex education, both in the schools and at home, with a particular emphasis on abstinence. That said, contraceptive use also needs to be taught because not every individual is going to abide by the fact that abstinence is the only 100% way to avoid unwanted pregnancies or STD’s (though STD’s are an entirely different conversation for another day). Sex Ed cannot be a one size fits all program that abides only to religious considerations (abstinence only); instead, this needs to be a secular program that promotes good health for individuals as well as smart family planning for future generations. Again, and this is crucial, prevention is the best way to avoid unwanted pregnancies and abortions that result thereof.

And, finally, I would like to also express my deep belief that America can and will overcome this issue. There is common ground between both sides of the issue. If both sides can come together and work to create social and economic conditions that have been proven to reduce the number of abortions, then we can go a long way to reaching that goal of zero abortions (as optimistic that number may be). For this to work, we also need to support mothers who do opt to keep their child, rather than undergo an abortion. We also need to support our adoption agencies and cut a lot of the red tape that prevent or slow down the adoption process. In addition to that, we should support those families that decide to adopt children, as they are performing an admirable and honorable service to the children of our nation. As this election winds down, I hope that people start to consider an array of issues before making their decisions. If they do that, I am confident Barack Obama will be the man they elect to be the next President of the United States of America.

Feel My Twitter

  • Thank you, #PeytonManning for throwing that interception to give the #Cowboys that win. What happened, bro? 4 years ago
  • Troubled to watch the march to war. I hope the President is cognizant of mission creep. We need to reevaluate our middle-eastern policies. 4 years ago
  • I argued for years with conservatives about the PATRIOT Act, warning about the loss of rights and invasion of privacy. Now they care? #WSJ 4 years ago
  • Reading #Noonan in the #WSJ complain about #NSA & Obama. Um... Where were conservatives after 9/11? They loved the PATRIOT Act until Obama. 4 years ago
  • I love to hear ignorant people deny climate change & claim that CO2 is great. Top 3 reasons: God, gov't intervention, & impact on business. 4 years ago

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