Who Do You Serve, Senators?

The Senate defeated, 44-56, HR1, the bill that would have allowed the government to continue spending money. Part of  the continuing resolution (CR)  was an amendment that defunded Planned Parenthood. All Democratic senators voted against the CR and three Republicans sided with the nays. While one can argue that this was moot – Mr. Obama had already stated that he would veto this CR because it cut Planned Parenthood’s funding – a line has been drawn on this debate. Mike Lee, Jim DeMint, and Rand Paul joined the pro-abortion camp with their vote on this issue – a decision that may haunt all three.

Kentucky is lukewarm at best in terms of supporting abortion, requiring waiting periods, parental notification, and limits on state aid for abortion. Three days ago (March 7, 2011), the Utah State House passed three laws advancing the cause of life in that state. One requires more frequent inspections of clinics, another provides stronger conscience clause protections for doctors and nurses, and the third allows insurance companies to ‘opt out’ of paying for abortion procedures. While these bills face challenges in the Senate, the victories indicate that Utah supports the pro-life cause. Finally, South Carolina has strong limits on abortion that are being scrutinized by a number of states interesting in curbing the excesses of Planned Parenthood and substandard clinics.

Senate Majority leader Harry Reid joined the president with a staunch and absolute resolution to kill this CR.  When the Citizen thinks of Nevada and abortion, I recall Algis Martell. Martell was an abortionists in the mid-90’s who actually performed abortions on women who weren’t even pregnant – and charged handsomely for the procedures. Even today, Nevada abortion clinics enjoy very strong support from their state and federal legislators.

This leads to an important question. Do the interests of NARAL and Planned Parenthood outweigh the interests of the nation as a whole? The CR passed the House with a vote of 235 to 189. It funded to the government, and also restored the Mexico City policy, ended abortion funding in the District of Columbia, and cut funding the UNFPA (a UN agency that may have paid to support ‘one child family‘ abortions in China).  Adding amendments to spending bills is a tactic that the democratic party is adept at – their largesse in tacking earmarks on vital spending bills these past 4 years is legendary. At least Mr. Pence and the republican majority in the House didn’t pad their pockets with pork with their amendments.  Indeed, the terms of the amendment listed above are altruistic, representing the values of the authors of the amendment, those who voted in support of it – and more importantly – reflecting the values of their constituents. And isn’t that the ultimate responsibility of our legislators – to represent those who have entrusted them with their office?

Mr. Obama has strong ties with the abortion industry. In fact, he just added William Daley, a staunch supporter of abortion, and a so-called ‘pro-choice Catholic’ (there is no such thing, Mr. Daley) to his team as his new Chief of Staff. The Obamas invited Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, to the White House to celebrate International Women’s Day. And the list of former PP and NARAL employees who have positions in the Executive Branch is lengthy. Mr. Obama is perfectly content to allow the United States to suffer to support his pro-abortion position.

Harry Reid enjoys a 100% approval rating from NARAL – he too would rather serve the interests of the abortion industry. Why? Well, they surely helped get him re-elected. His ardent support of the PPACA and his opposition to the Hyde Amendment made him popular with the pro-abortion base in Nevada. Reid defeated the ardently pro-life Sharon Angle by some 6%; some of his victory due to his manipulation of the Hispanic vote, but a strong effort by Planned Parenthood helped tip the scales as well. Mr. Reid knows that he needs to keep his masters happy…even if the nation suffers.

In the end, the CR HR1 failed – and if Mr. Obama was to keep his promise – it was doomed to fail. It does provide the Catholic and pro-life voter some insight. We see who is willing to fight for the legislation that reflects the will of the majority of voters – who are prolife. We see that the amendments they add are not the self-serving pork barrel earmarks that have long been the hallmark of liberals. Three months ago, Reid defended nearly 10 billion dollars in earmarks in a lame duck spending bill. And now – when a bill that would have kept government services running for all Americans could have been passed – Mr. Reid and his democratic majority in the Senate decided that their pro-abortion special interest sponsors were more important.

I believe that the prolife movement helped change the face of state and national government lat November. I believe that in the next presidential election cycle, the lines will be drawn even more clearly. As a Catholic, I believe that abortion is wrong. I believe that my tax dollars should not support abortion or any organization that will use my money to perform abortions as part of their ‘services.’ We can support agencies and organizations that provide services to the needy without taking life. I believe that doctors and nurses should be able to exercise their conscience. I believe that if Planned Parenthood wants to perform abortions, they can raise money from private donors…just like Birthright, CareNet, and countless other agencies. Or – if abortion is so important to these doctors – they can waive their fees and perform abortions for free or out of their own pocket.

I believe that when it comes down to serving the needs of the nation and the needs of a special interest with a couple of billion dollars in the bank….it should be a ‘no-brainer.’

So, take a look at how your senators voted on this bill. Who did they serve with this vote?



A lesson for Father McBrien

Richard O’Brien, a professor at Notre Dame and a priest ordained in the Archdiocese of Hartford, is an example of what ails us. The Citizen routinely trolls the National Catholic Reporter – among other so-called ‘Catholic’ publications – for the latest in schismatic thought. Fr. McBrien recently wrote an article complaining about the resistance of American Bishops and the Obama health care plan. It should be obvious, Father. But seeing how you work for Father Jenkins, this shouldn’t be surprising.

President Obama signed an executive order. Big deal. The authority that lies behind an executive order is practically non-existent. There is no specific clause in the Constitution that confers this power. The closest thing to justification for the practice of the executive order is found in Article II

…he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.

Since 1789, this has been interpreted as meaning that the President had the authority to issue orders necessary to ensure the smooth operation of executive agencies and other instruments of government independent of constant congressional oversight. Until the Twentieth Century, there was essentially no public knowledge of executive orders. In 1952, the Supreme Court weighed in – for the first time – on the practice of executive orders. Executive orders have been used  for activities as mundane as establishing protocol or temporary appointments to the 1999 order that Clinton signed to authorize the use of American military force in Kosovo.

Perhaps the most important element of the Executive Order is that it only carries the weight the sitting president chooses to give it. Obama wrote an order limiting abortion. Tomorrow, he can write an order rescinding it. Congress can do nothing to stop it. The Supreme Court can do nothing. Bart Stupak can’t take his ‘yea’ vote back. It is over. I wonder if Professor Richard McBrien knows this. One hopes so – ignorance is so much easier to accept in a priest than active collusion.

McBrien quotes an article in Commonweal as an authoritative source. Unfortunately, the author of this article is equally ignorant of the true scope of the executive order. Both articles claim that the administration and the current congressional leadership have proven their willingness to act under the provisions once guaranteed by the Hyde Amendment. Nonsense.

How about the aggressive actions in Congress opening access to abortion in military bases at home and abroad? Did you hear about that, Professor McBrien? Or perhaps the comments VP Biden made to Kenya about writing access to abortion into their constitution?

It is unfortunate that a Catholic priest defends a president and congressional leaders who fought to keep the Hyde Amendment out of their patient care act. Why? If Obama, Pelosi, and Reid were serious about preserving the existing protections for the unborn, then tell me why they were unwilling to compromise? Please, Father – explain.

Of course this article was written by a priest who last year wrote “…how far the Catholic church in the United States has fallen from the high standards of leadership that they [Bernadin and Hesburgh] set.”

Father McBrien seeks leaders who agree with the ‘seamless garment’ philosophy – even if it runs contrary to the Magisterium. This infatuation with the ‘social justice’ approach that is popular with the intelligentsia is unfortunate. It’s tragic coming from the Crowley-O’Brien Professor of Theology at Notre Dame. Didn’t they teach any American history in the Seminary? Don’t you know any history professors at Notre Dame?

Oh, of course you do – but they are socialist gospel activists too….how silly of me!

Responsible Shepherds

West Virginia will be swearing in a new Senator – and the president announced that he will be pushing the Senate to pass the stalled unemployment benefits bill. While the Citizen is sympathetic to the economic needs of a large number of people who remain unemployed – despite (or rather because) of the massive ‘Stimulus’ plan, this bill has one catastrophic flaw.

The Democratic leadership offer absolutely no means to pay for it.

Republican members of the Senate claim they oppose the bill because the leadership has not found funding for the $33 billion price tag. Most Republicans claim they support unemployment benefits – but they want the leadership to find an offset in the federal budget to pay for them.

This is responsible stewardship of the money the taxpayers have entrusted Congress with – they should be more mindful of how they spend our money.

The Citizen isn’t sure about your household, but when unexpected expenses arises in our household, we find out where we have to cut expenses to cover the new expenditure. Unlike Congress, most households are all too aware that our resources are finite.

The Citizen is not advocating against benefits for those in need – that is inhumane. But Congress needs to be a better steward of the people’s money. Nancy Pelosi sponsored or co-sponsored some $75,000,000 in earmarks this year alone.  Harry Reid sponsored or co-sponsored some $267,000,000 in earmarks this year. Congress has refused to submit a budget, using a parliamentary trick called ‘deem and pass’ to hide the fact that the spending of this leadership and administration is unsustainable.

On February 12th, president Obama signed the ‘pay-go’ bill. This bill required Congress to pay for spending with money they had in their ‘pocket’ and not borrow against potential future ‘earnings’.

Nancy Pelosi made this promise:

[Democrats] are committed to auditing the books and subjecting every facet of federal spending to tough budget discipline and accountability, forcing the new Congress to choose a new direction and the right priorities for all Americans.”

Barack Obama promised to cut earmarks and ‘restore accountability’ in federal government.

“Barack Obama is committed to returning earmarks to less than $7.8 billion a year, the level they were at before 1994.”                   – The Change We Need in Washington

Another broken promise. Another sign that this administration and this congressional leadership is willing to spend the wealth of the next generation to support their addiction to power and position.

Instead of passing unemployment bill extensions ad infinitum, the leadership might want to consider what they need to do to restore confidence in the American economy.