Friday, October 12, 2012

7 (Not So Quick) Quick Takes Friday: Political Edition

This post is about all the political thoughts that have been bubbling over in my head!  Just as a warning!  Feel free to ignore this one if you're on political overload or if your sick of my rightward leanings!  I just had to get it out of my system for the week:

--- 1 ---

When someone says:  "I personally believe that abortion is wrong, but I can't impose my belief on someone else..." my head spins.  My head feels like it might explodes if it's phrased in this way:  "I believe what the Church believes, but I can't impose my belief on someone else..."

Here's why.

The speaker has basically just admitted that they believe abortion is wrong.  The reason that most of us innately realize this is because we know that a life is being taken.  So what they're actually saying is:  "I know it's wrong to murder someone, but I can't impose my belief in the wrongness of murder on someone else."

When they throw in the "I believe what the Church teaches" they're adding to the outrageousness of the logic used in the initial statement by saying that they believe that a life is a life at conception... but that the taking of that life is okay because we should all be allowed to do whatever we want.  Right?

So we should just throw open the prison doors and let all the prisoners out shouldn't we?  We wouldn't want to "impose our moral beliefs" on them, would we?  I mean, sure, I believe murder is wrong, but I wouldn't want to impose my beliefs on others.  And stealing?  Well, yeah, I don't think I should take something that doesn't belong to me, but other people obviously don't believe that... and how can I encroach on their right to believe what they want to believe?

By this particular way of thinking, I really can't.

And yet despite the ridiculousness of the argument I'm sure I'll hear it over and over again with utter sincerity.

--- 2 ---

I watched the debate last night by myself, after a certain someone whose back was flaring up opted out of the debate watching fun and went up to sleep, seriously cutting down on the "fun" factor of viewing, since I had no one to share the Biden-blundering awesomeness that I was sure was about to unfold.  I started out with my sewing machine set up, making pillows, but by the time the second pillow was done I decided that I should put the fabric and machine away, lest I sew over my finger while reeling in shock at the behavior I saw unfolding on live TV.

After a very short amount of time I found myself analyzing the possible effect of Biden's smirks, snickers and uncontrollable facial expressions on the general public.  Here was my guess at electorate reactions:

If you like and agree with him, than there's a good chance his behavior didn't bother you at all.  After all, debates get ugly and it can be kind of fun to see your guy rolling his eyes and behaving like an obnoxious 13 year old, especially if you really don't like the other guy.  I'm sure there were also people on the left that were horrified by the VP's complete lack of manners... but the press seemed pretty pleased with him in the aftermath... even if his behavior resembled something that would get any child I raised sent to their room for an extended period of time.

Now if you're on the right, there's a good chance that you were pretty disgusted by the VPs inability to comport himself in a manner fitting his office.  If you're Catholic you may have felt like you wanted to throw yourself off a cliff following his final answer.

But it's neither the far left or the far right that I was really thinking about as I watched Biden's seemingly endless stream of facial expressions.  It was how it would effect people in the middle that interests me... and honestly I can't imagine his behavior appealing to many undecided voters.  I'll admit I'm biased and could be totally wrong, but I have a hard time thinking that people who are honestly trying to figure out who they'll be supporting would find the mocking and eye-rolling and constant interruptions appealing.

Then again, I am strangely attached to the idea of "good manners" even when making important points...

--- 3 ---

Around three quarters of the way through the debate I began to wonder if the network I was watching (ABC) was purposefully cutting away from the split screen to show Ryan alone, whenever he spoke about anything of a sensitive matter, during which the VPs outbursts would have been... particularly inappropriate.  Sure when he was making political points Biden's lack of facial control could have been mildly amusing... but when he began talking about his family caring for a family member with Alzheimer's I'm fairly certain I heard Biden, who was not in the picture at the time, make one of his snorting/guffawing sounds, which let's face it, would have been highly inappropriate to anyone with a measure of compassion.  At least that's what it sounded like while I was watching... However I'm not willing to go back and watch the debate again to confirm what I thought I heard... because watching it once was more than enough.

So I'll take a deep breath and give him the benefit of the doubt and hope that he at least had the good sense not to scoff at that particular moment.

--- 4 ---

I get really tired of the "all or nothing" myth that the Obama/ Biden campaign would like us all to believe.  It goes something like this:  If you vote for the republican nominee all spending on all programs will be cut and they'll give all the money to the rich.  If you vote for me, I'll redistribute the wealth and everyone (except those rich guys) will be happy.

The thing is, it's not all or nothing.  Reforming something doesn't mean setting out to destroy it... in fact, in many cases it's an attempt to save programs that are bloated and unsustainable... programs that cannot exist without changes.

Our future doesn't lie in an all or nothing approach... and when I see political ads these days, I don't think that our President understands that fact.

--- 5 ---

Okay, so I have an admission to make.  I understand how you can be Catholic and not support Romney/Ryan.  I do not understand how you can be Catholic and support Obama/Biden.

I've spent years trying to wrap my head around it... but I still just don't get it.

Sure there are other issues to be voted on and decided.  But when one issue is so overwhelmingly crucial... when one issue means the loss of thousands and thousands and thousands of lives, over and over again, I just don't see how you can put that aside in the name of "conscience."

History has shown us what happens when we decide that it's better for the majority of the people to ignore the murder of one section of society, because we think the economy (or in this case, social programs) will be better off for the rest of us with a certain leader.

It always ends with the subsequent horror of future generations as they realize what we've ignored, allowed and supported in our quest for other goals which we thought were "good."

--- 6 ---

And lastly: I think I just need to avoid facebook today... today is one of those days when you realize that the people you love aren't going to be grown up enough to not fling personal insults at people who disagree with them.  Or worse yet you find yourself firing back (as I already did this morning... before taking a deep breath and hitting delete...).

--- 7 ---

And so we slog on through election season... knowing that it's likely to get worse before it gets better... but at least November is right around the corner!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!


  1. I don't know if you saw this already:

    USCCB Responds To Inaccurate Statement Of Fact On HHS Mandate Made During Vice Presidential Debate


  2. I generally can't make it all the way through debates, as they make me too nervous However, I have watched both the presidential debate and last night's VP debate.

    For most of the debate, I wanted to smack Biden. I thought he was disrespectful and condescending (which was precisely what he wanted) in an effort to demean Ryan. While I was disappointed in Ryan's answers re: abortion - with having to tote the Romney line - I thought he appeared dignified, serious and certainly capable of holding high office (as opposed to Sarah Palin, who, though I admired her pro-life stance, scared the heck out of me.)

    I think MSNBC and their ilk were immensely relieved that Biden showed the passion that Obama lacked, and didn't make any of his usual gaffes. However, Ryan really just had to present well, which he most certainly did.

    I did want to jump through the screen at Biden's tired old "personally opposed to abortion but..." mantra. (That was the invention of the Kennedys way back in the mid-60s as a way for Bobby Kennedy to be on both sides of the coming abortion debate and pseudo-Catholics have used it to their advantage since.) The sad thing is that many people think it is a perfectly good excuse. Sigh...

    These next presidential debates should be most interesting.


  3. Oh I was so irritated at the immature behavior exhibited by Biden. He's Vice President of the United States and he made himself look like a fool. He seriously disgraced his office with that performance and he should be ashamed of himself.

    I'd like to know how Mr. Biden can call himself a "practicing Catholic" and then go on to say that he believes what the Church teaches but politically won't align himself with Church teaching so as not to impose his beliefs on others. That simply tells me that you aren't courageous enough to stand up for what you claim to believe. I liken that to someone sitting back in their arm chair during WWII and saying, "I don't believe it's right to round up the innocent Jews and ship them off to death camps, but who am I to stand up for them and try to assert my views over that of the Nazi regime?" Ok, Mr. Biden, you don't agree with killing the innocent unborn and have the ability to make a difference, but you don't want to stand up for what you know is right because you might offend others? Really?

    I did take issue with Paul Ryan saying that he opposed to abortion except in the case of incest and rape. I'm sorry, but you are either for or against. I was saddened to see him compromise his morals/beliefs on this issue. Honestly, if Roe v. Wade were overturned today and an exception was put in place specifically for incest and rape I am certain that people would exploit that loop hole and suddenly there would be an upsurge of abortions attributed to incest and rape.

  4. The part where you thought Biden made the his snorting/guffawing sounds I am pretty sure that he did the snorting and guffawing sounds.

    I also take issue with Paul Ryan's stance on abortion, but part of me thinks he's only saying that because that's the stance that Romeny has taken on abortion, i't surprising what most politicians use to stay politically correct.

  5. Carissa,

    I too, was disappointed with Ryan's confusing statement regarding abortion, until reading the transcript and some analysis of the statement. I don't think it was clear live, but Ryan presented himself as being pro-life without exception. He then presented the Romney White House policy as one allowing for the exceptions of rape, incest, and life of the mother. As Ryan was representing and supporting Romney this distinction needed to be made. It is one of the huge problems I have with Romney. Thankfully, we live in Utah and Romney will win here handily, so I can vote third party as my conscience directs.


  6. The bottom line is that, every year, over a million American women seek and purchase abortion services. While many of us believe that abortion is murder, millions do not. I don't see any particular candidate or party being able to reverse the booming business of pregnancy termination. Too many people want it, are willing to pay for it, and now, our country is unequipped to deal with over a million undesired babies that would be a result of abortion abolition. It's very sad. But I don't think the president has much to say about it.

  7. Anonymous, the fact is that it is murder. The taking of an innocent human life is murder. It's murder whether or not it's in demand or whether or not it's being paid for.

    I'm sure there are more people who would pay hit men to kill other people if it were legal. But it's wrong, so it's not legal. So yes, our government regulates right and wrong and what we're able to buy every single day.

    And yes, the president does play a big role, particularly because he appoints supreme court justices, but also by his ability to veto laws that don't have overwhelming majorities and his incredible influence which was seen when Obama bullied so many blue dog democrats into folding on the health care law.

    At home and abroad the President has quite a lot of influence over the politics of abortion (and it's exportation abroad... and over cutting off state funding to states who don't fund Planned Parenthood).

    I'm sorry, the argument you used might help you sleep at night, but it's a lie. Who you vote for in this election is crucial to the future of many, many young babies. The fact that you can't, or don't, see that, is sad.

    And heaven forbid people learn that there actions sexually have consequences and realize that sex biologically has a purpose.

  8. I watched the debates last night too, I'm still one of those undecided voters (I saw a CNN poll that showed the debate led more undecideds to go Democrat though).

    I hadn't realized Biden was Catholic for the longest time, so when the moderator dropped the abortion question I found myself going "ohhhh boy, now what?".

    I was confused by Ryan's response because I thought the Romney camp was firmly against abortion in ALL circumstances? Granted, I think the *only* acceptable circumstance for abortion is to save the mother's life. Biden...well, when he did his "I believe what my church believes but I won't impose it on others" line, I yelled at the screen "Way to wash your hands of the situation, Pontius!".

    Yeah...not very dignified of me. Oh well.

  9. It is true the President is only one person and can only do so much, but when Congress passed the partial birth abortion ban and Clinton vetoed it, that one person had a huge say. And when the President nominates Supreme Court Justices, when you consider it is the Supreme Court that legalized it in the first place, that is huge. The President also can help allocate funds towards abortion providers.

    No, the President can't force everyone to have abortions or outlaw all abortions, but he can effect the issue for good or ill.

  10. Well, I was never really one to stick my head in the lion's mouth, but...

    Well, actually, yeah I have been.

    Anyway, in regards to your first point, I happen to take the stated position, and I think the reason it sounds ridiculous is that you have frankly oversimplified the issue.

    I am opposed on a simply moral level to abortion. However, I recognize that the lines are blurry, and that not everyone seems to believe what I believe. Therefore, if I was a legislator, I couldn't legislate it.

    Your murder comparison is simplistic. Murder is a demonstrable societal harm, but you can't actually say that about abortion. You can say it's grave matter, sure. You can say it contributes to a spiritually degenerative society, sure. But isn't the place of government, in my country or in yours, to ensure the spiritual wellbeing of the people.

    Let us for a moment consider the problem of gay marriage. There is no reason, apart from religion-inspired morality, to prevent gay marriage. Therefore, why should civil marriage be illegal for homosexuals? At what point did the government definition of marriage become tied to the teachings of the vatican?

    I'm a recentish-convert, mind you, and where your faith grew like grass, and planted it's roots deep, mine is taking its time. I am not willing to substitute diction for critical thought. In the same way that we, as Christians, can be opposed to others missing mass (in the hate-the-sin, love the sinner way), but cannot make attendance at mass legally mandatory, neither can we do the other thing.

    Just my two cents mind, and don't forget the exchange rate.

  11. Indeed, I think it is murder too. And I'm not voting for Obama and would never support a pro choice candidate. But, a lot of people do not think abortion is murder, or even wrong. And, right now, it's legal.

    It's hard for me because I also think that infant circumcision is immoral, cruel and patently wrong. I don't think God made little boy's genitals imperfect and in need of surgical alteration. It's not murder, but it is abuse and can lead to death in rare circumstances. Having said that, lots of people disagree with me. They think it's fine. They have lots of justifications for why it's right "for their family." and obviously For Jews, there's a religious componenet. Should it be made illegal because I think it's wrong? Should everything that I think is immoral be made illegal? I don't know. I'd like to see baby boys stop suffering, I'd like to see people stop profiting from infant genital cosmetic surgery. I'd like to see people accept their sons as God made them. Should it be the law, though? I'm just not sure.

  12. Zach-

    I would say one can, quite simply, say that a living human being, being torn piece by piece, is wrong, even when society can't "see" a "demonstratable moral harm."

    Like Paul Ryan my reasons for abhorring abortion are both religious and scientific. As science has advanced the horror of abortion becomes clearer and clearer.

    The thing I love about Catholicism, that ultimately brought me back to Christianity after a time away, was that logical thought need not be suspended, and after spending a ridiculous amount of time studying fetal development on a scientific level (I just can't seem to stop reading about it when I'm pregnant) I'm afraid that if self interest is put aside the evidence is pretty conclusive.

  13. Hi Anonymous-

    Here's how I look at it.

    Generally our rights to exercise our free ends when we begin to harm others. While many could see circumcision falling into that category (and let me say, it's not a procedure I would ever allow on a child of mine, unless there was some medical necessity that required it {which I have actually heard of in one case}), the medical community does still insist that it's beneficial and prevents disease. Except in rare cases there isn't permanent damage or pain, which I believe is the main thing that sets it apart from female genital mutilation.

    On the other hand, tearing another human apart, limb by limb is always permanent and always damaging. A life is being ended. Permanently and violently.

    I believe that contraception is wrong. I don't believe the non-abortive contraceptives should be outlawed however, because my belief is religiously based (although natural law supports it). There are plenty of instances where we're free to let our consciences and beliefs guide us. However I don't think that should extend to destruction of an innocent human life.

  14. I agree, and that is a good point. I guess I feel like routine circumcision (as opposed to circumcision that addresses a serious medical problem) is both religiously wrong, and scientifically wrong (the rest of the world has done just fine without routine infant circumcision for thousands of years.) But should it be outlawed? I just don't know.

    What about abortion for serious medical issues, such as when a fetus has a condition that is 100% incompatible with life, or when the mother has toxemia? Religiously I disagree with all abortion, but scientifically I can see why some people support limited abortion rights in very grave situations, but not for reasons of convenience.

  15. Cam, a couple of comments.

    Re "I won't force my beliefs on others.": I'm just reading Chaput's book in which he gives this analogy: It's like a husband who says he is in favor of marriage, but won't act that way in public --- he won't be married for long!

    Re the interruptions, etc.: I conducted multi-million dollar contract negotiations for my company for many years, with many people of many cultures. If either of us had acted as our VP, none of those contracts would ever have been agreed upon. Debates and discussions and negotiations involve talking, listening, and learning.

  16. I'm not going to lie. I only read #1 on your list and didn't read any comments because at this point, politics just depress me.

    I am really glad you brought up #1 though!

    I had the same reaction when I was watching and he said that. I turned to my husband ans said "That's the same as saying: I believe that the Jews (or mentally ill people-Hitler murdered both) are people and of equal value to the human race, but I wasn't going to impose that on Hitler. Or: I fully believe that the slaves are people, but I'm not going to impose that on the South!" Imagine what the world would be like if people before us had taken that approach.....

    Just because people don't 'want' abortion to be murder,it doesn't make it any less murderous.

    As the saying goes, "A cat can have kittens in the oven, but that doesn't make them biscuits."


I love comments and I read every single comment that comes in (and I try to respond when the little ones aren't distracting me to the point that it's impossible!). Please show kindness to each other and our family in the comment box. After all, we're all real people on the other side of the screen!