The Watering Hole, Thursday, April 19th, 2012: Good News/Bad News?

A few days ago I received an excited missive from James Salt at Catholics United. (I still don’t know why I’m on their email list.) The email read, in part:

We’ve got our party hats on at Catholics United HQ. Why?

Our organizing efforts are working. The Catholic bishops are beginning to speak out against Paul Ryan’s devastating budget cuts! Click here to read more.

To say the least, this is fantastic news!

If you are as surprised and as happy as we are, will you take a moment to call Cardinal Dolan’s office in New York City? Call him now at 212-371-1000. Here’s what we recommend you say:

First, thank the bishops for speaking out against Paul Ryan’s budget.

Then ask that they continue to fight on behalf of the poor and less fortunate.

It may have taken almost a month, but it’s great the bishops are finally standing up against the immorality of punishing the poor. Paul Ryan and his far-right cohorts need to understand that when they attack the poor, Catholics cannot–must not–remain silent.

At first I thought, “okay, that’s good news.” Then I read The Hill article to which the email had linked, and the second paragraph gave me pause:

In a letter sent to the House Agriculture Committee on Monday, the bishops say the budget fails to meet certain “moral criteria” by disproportionately cutting programs that “serve poor and vulnerable people.”

While the fact that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops are speaking out against the Ryan budget IS a good thing, the fact that the USCCB has ‘certain “moral criteria”‘ by which it judges, and apparently influences, legislation, is NOT. Just look at the recent brouhaha over contraception coverage in the Affordable Care Act, demonstrating the amount of power the USCCB can wield.

On the other hand, though, maybe it really IS more good than bad news. In defending his budget, Ryan reiterated and expanded on the reasoning behind it. From The Hill:

Ryan made the moral case for his budget in an interview last week with the Christian Broadcasting Network. He said government shouldn’t be responsible for lifting its citizens out of poverty — rather, that it’s the obligation of the citizens themselves to be society’s caretakers.

“A person’s faith is central to how they conduct themselves in public and in private,” Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, said in the interview. “So to me, using my Catholic faith, we call it the social magisterium, which is how do you apply the doctrine of your teaching into your everyday life as a lay person?

“Those principles are very, very important,” Ryan said. “And the preferential option for the poor, which is one of the primary tenets of Catholic social teaching, means don’t keep people poor, don’t make people dependent on government so that they stay stuck at their station in life, help people get out of poverty, out into a life of independence.”

As an ex-Catholic, I have never heard of this “Social Magisterium” idea before. And, after reading up on it a little, I find the idea more than a little disquieting:

“The inviolability of human life in all stages of its development from conception to natural death, and in every condition of health and well-being, is primary because it reflects the life of God who is the source of human rights….The Church never yields to the violations of the right to life which continue to occur.

Society reveals its whole truth as a community of persons….The lay faithful’s apostolic duty in the temporal order is to be understood as service to persons, first expressed in marriage and family life. This duty to society can be fulfilled only with the conviction of the family’s unique and irreplaceable value in social and ecclesial development. As the basic cell of society, the family must receive primary concern in a time when egoism and its derivatives threaten to dry up the springs of life, and when ideologically inspired social systems try to usurp the family’s role in education….A vast cultural, economic, and legislative effort is needed in order to safeguard the family’s role in humanizing persons and society. This duty falls above all on lay people, who must obtain from public authority the respect and support family rights need in fulfilling that role. Saving the family will save society itself.”

According to another source,

“THE MISSION OF THE ECCLESIASTICAL MAGISTERIUM The Church’s mission belongs to the supernatural order…it does not interfere with legitimate temporal options nor support specific political programs…Nevertheless, the Church has a strict right–also a duty–to teach the moral aspects of the secular order, whether this be in politics, economics. or social matters…”

So, Paul Ryan believes that his Catholic faith and this “social magisterium” not only inform, but dictate, his legislative policies.

But the USCCB disagrees with Ryan’s interpretation of Catholic faith.

And, while they agree with the USCCB in this instance, has also called the bishops out on their focus on wedge issues at the expense of focusing on (what C-U believes are) the more essential and traditional aspects of Christ’s teachings.

I’m confused: how many versions of the Catholic church ARE there? And how much influence should any version have?

This is our daily open thread — What’s on your mind today?

240 thoughts on “The Watering Hole, Thursday, April 19th, 2012: Good News/Bad News?

  1. “Quand le dernier des rois sera pendu avec les boyaux du dernier prêtre célibataire, le genre humain pourra espérer être heureux.”

  2. How can you claim to fight for the ‘poor and less fortunate’, when you also support policies that denies them healthcare and can saddle them with unwanted pregnancies?

    • Because they are a bunch of old, ignorant, medieval mysogynists who wnat to cling to whatever power they have left to control people.

        • Never been a great fan of old Shorty, but you know he had some ‘truthiness’ about his early, healthy disrespect for the establishment. That would be a great bumper sticker…

          • That would make a good Bumper sticker.. another good one would be: Fox News: convincing the poor to vote like the rich since 1996.

  3. Romney’s Afghanistan Plan:

    “We should not negotiate with the Taliban. We should defeat the Taliban.”

    This is the Steve Martin Plan. Remember Steve Martin’s smarmy pitchman routine on how to become a millionaire? It went just like this:

    “How do you become a millionaire? First, get-a-million-dollars, next…”

    • And the follow up question not asked by the so-called-librul-media, which you and I would immediately ask before Rmoney, having told his voter-targeted big lie uses the rest of his breath to filibuster until commercials….

      “Mr Rmoney, what do you consider to be criteria for ‘defeating’ the Taliban – how do you know when you’ve won?’

      Are you reading this David ‘Its a stretch that I am a journalist’ Gregory, John ‘chopped my willy-end off for Joe Camel’ King, Dana ‘Joe Camel’ Bash, Wolf ‘AIPAC’ Blitzer?

    • I suspect that we are creating more taliban by staying there as long as we have. Afghans don’t necessarily want to be governed by taliban again, but they’ll surely try kill you if you kill a member of their family first.

  4. On both issues, the most welcome possibility of the decade, so far:

    If Barack Obama is becomes the president in November, again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year. (Ted Nugent)

  5. Jane, C&L is covering the Pope smacking down some nuns for their stance on this and a number of other issues, a good read.

  6. David and Charles Koch have a good chuckle about the Catholic Church’s opinion on their budget.
    Then they flush, wipe and go back to work without washing their hands.

      • Which, being really poor toilet paper, leaves wadded up nasty things on their already unlovely bums. I had no problem giving up Koch paper products, they’re inferior.

  7. Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain, citing the “critically important” nature of the issue, encouraged — but did not demand — the gathering of signatures in parishes.

    Someone, anyone, tell me why the Catholic Church is allowed to be a political organization, and be tax exempt at the same time?

      • I hereby call on the Vatican to sell all it’s property, melt down all it’s gold, and give all its money to the poor around the world. In other words, do what Jesus would do.


  8. In a thread at TP, Cantor is worried that the teabagger fundies think he’s going to hell. I knew he was Jewish, but I didn’t know he was the only one in the House GOP.

  9. I’m confused: how many versions of the Catholic church ARE there? And how much influence should any version have?

    Quite a few versions, apparently. During my brief tenure as a Catlick, our parish (and a lot of other churches in the diocese) was diametrically opposite the Paul Ryans and Rick Sanitorums of the world. Church here is very active in social justice issues, LGBT issues, Habitat for Humanity etc.

    Ryan is apparently one of the Opus Dei ilk, who are more interested in the hierarchical power of the Church and the ability to impose their moral certainty on everyone else, than the plight of the poor and disempowered. Jesus would be smacking these a-holes around, if he existed, except that he probably would have exploded about 1900 years ago.

    But notice that in spite of this, even a direct order from the Pope or the bishops correcting Paul Ryan’s confusion about doctrine would be completely ignored or reinterpreted rather than any behavior changed. If through bizarre confusion a real Christian was elevated to the Papacy and started pushing Liberation Theology there would either be a schism (and a second pope) or a quiet assassination. “Oops, he died in his sleep the next day.”

  10. This is all so confusing…

    At just what point in his personal development did Paul’s religious beliefs convince him the Christian thing to do was gut the social safety net completely?

    Was it before… of after… he had collected Social Security survivor benefits to make it through high school and used the money to go to college?

    I’d call Paul, and his ilk, hypocrites, but it’s pretty obvious they have no idea what the word actually means…

    • Oh, we’ve already gathered all our smokers into camps in the high desert. Hmm, Tule Lake? Anyway, they will be re-educated and sent back into the city to scrub toilets.

  11. Remember last week when Virginia Foxx said she was able to work her way through college without taking on a single penny of debt?

    Virginia Foxx paid $87.50 in tuition. That was the price of a full semester’s tuition at UNC in 1961.

    “If you take that $87.50 and adjust it for inflation, the actual dollar amount is a “whopping” $671.30 per semester. Including tuition and fees, Representative Foxx would have paid $279 for the academic year—about $2,140 today. That’s about equivalent to what students pay right now at community colleges, not public four-year institutions—especially not public flagships.”

  12. Interesting article in MSN money section today

    Fast-growing income gap in US

    Key excerpt
    “First, what seems to be good news: For 2010, the average U.S. income was $39,959, according to the Social Security Administration. However, the median income — meaning half of Americans made more, half made less — was substantially lower, at $26,364.”…

    “According to the Internal Revenue Service, the average U.S. income, when adjusted for inflation, declined 1% between 1988 and 2008, while Americans making $380,000 or more saw their incomes grow 33%”
    What’s striking about the United States is that, comparable to other countries of comparable income, the inequality in the United States is much wider than any other country,” says William Orme, a spokesman for the U.N. report. “That’s not only the result of increasing concentration of wealth at the top but the stagnation of income for the bottom 75% over the last 10 years. The U.S. is certainly not unique in having little real significant income growth, but the disparity is more acute”

    Wow. Median means HALF the population makes less than $27,000 a year? Pitchforks and torches, anyone?

  13. Rats, WP doesn’t seem to like or acknowledge blog.sfgate (from the SF Chronicle site).
    That seems to be the common reason for entering the spam bin the last few days.

    • Mitt RMoney, King of the Dumfukery Gaffe Generator.

      If only we could get Mittens to talk, 24X7 about any and everything, nonstop…
      My guess is the Obama campaign would pay him to do it…

  14. As the Secret Service hooker scandal plods along I still haven’t heard a peep about when the agents involved were hired. This leads me to beleive that said agents and/or their supervisors were hired by GOoPers. If they were hired by the Clinton or Obama Administrations? FAUX”News” and hate radio would be crowing about it 24/7.

  15. One thing about the Catholic Church that can’t be stressed enough is that they murdered more Jews than anyone but the Nazis and one can make a very strong case that they were complicit in the Holocaust. The Nazis and the church had an understanding called a “concordat”. Basically that means that the Nazis didn’t seize church property and the church didn’t condemn the Nazis.

    • Considering that the first pogroms occurred as part of the First Crusade, I think their complicity goes back a lot farther than that. And there was something called the Inquisition, I think.

      • The 2nd season of the Borgias is airing now on Showtime I think. It’s awesome Jeremy Irons plays the Pope. Bet the church hasn’t changed all that much.

      • Exactly. I was a bit unclear but I meant to say that, long before the Nazis, the Catholic Church had spent much effort to eradicate Jews and other heretics. The only reason the Nazis were able to surpass the number killed was the larger population and “improved” technology. And that doesn’t even consider the Mother Church’s countless wars against Protestants.

  16. A caller on Ed Schultz just pointed out something I noticed last night on his show (she called it the “Lemonade Summit”): It was a nice picnic table, with cookies and pitchers of lemonade, but there wasn’t a single glass or plate on the table.

    Sure, these things are staged on the campaign trail, but probably since Mittens’ handlers knew he wouldn’t touch peasant food, didn’t bother to complete the table.

  17. Touchy, touchy!

    At a morning briefing, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that anyone who thinks Obama’s “silver spoon” comment was about them “might be a little oversensitive.”

    Mitt Romney earlier today responded to Obama’s “silver spoon in mouth” remark by saying he wasn’t “going to apologize for [his] dad and his success in life.”

    If Mittens is going to respond to every little perceived jab (even though he wasn’t named), this will be a real popcorn campaign.

    • She dropped her dog whistle in the shite. The Repubs seem to be focusing all of their attention, still, on humping the Base. Those people already hate the Black guy (and his wife) and are double damn guaranteed to vote Repub in the Fall. Who else can listen to this moron without laughing?

    • She obviously has absolutely no idea what the term means. She’s not using it correctly in any sense of its meanings.

      For years we listened to the right wing defend Bush against charges that he wasn’t doing enough to bring down the price of oil and gas by saying that there is very little the president can do to affect them. Actually, there is something he can do but the Right won’t let him – he can publicly state that the US has no desire or intention of bombing Iran, nor will we encourage or allow Israel to do so. All the drum-beating for war with Iran that you hear exclusively from the Right is what’s making speculators fear that Iran will cut off its oil supplies, which in turn is driving up the price of oil. Obama can also help by explaining this to the American people and then telling the warmongers to shut the fuck up already!

    • “Tar baby”. “Tar baby”. She has to be following some Repugnant Party playbook. Who the hell thinks of “tar baby” if you’re not reading Bra’er Rabbit? Thoroughly disgusting is that poor excuse for a human.

    • Against all odds; she keeps finding new ways to make me a bit ashamed to be a Minnesotan. I still think she might be the craziest person to hold a federal elected office. Jimmy Inhofe might be stupider, Ginny Foxx might be meaner, but she’s hard to beat for sheer, batshit, insanity. Perhaps the worst part is that she is among the leading guests on the Sunday morning “news” shows with 18 appearances since last August. I find it impossible to understand how anyone who has listened to her speak, and seen that look in her eyes, could vote for her much less give her money above and beyond her misspent salary. I’m forced to conclude that the “good Christians” of Minnesota are as batshit crazy as she is.

  18. I heard on MSNBC last night the possibility of Condi Rice being selected as VEEP running mate for Mittens…except for the fact that she is pro gay union and has “evolving” pro choice opinions, she might be a dangerous pick for Obama if Mittens picks her… don’t you think?

      • Christie isn’t from Mississippi but still… Repubs already tried the female VP and it bombed. Rice is clearly miles more intelligent and experienced than Palin but not enough of a RWNJ to satisfy the base.

          • Christine Todd Whitman would make a good VP choice, but since she’s from the North (like Willard), they won’t pick her. They need a Southerner, like Nikki Haley. But she’s got problems of her own which might make her a poor choice.

            If the Republicans want to pick a woman again (and there’s nothing wrong with that), and they want someone from the South, I think their best bet is to nominate Sen Mary Landrieu, of Louisiana. The fact that she’s currently serving as a Democrat is only a technicality. She’s one of them at heart, and would even be able to watch out for Big Oil’s back the way Cheney did.

    • I don’t know. In 2008 the pick of Palin seemed to me to be a desperate try at appealing to women who would have been excited to see Hilary be the first female president. We all know how well that worked. The selection of Michael Steele for RNC head after the election struck me the same way, “Look, we’ve got a black guy too!” The recent crop of R’s do not appear to be deep thinkers, they expect thoughtful voters will react in the same fashion as their base, remember some of them really believe we all voted for Obama because he was black. A black woman who was a complete and total disappointment as Secretary of State is not going to attract any independent voters to their ticket who are not looking for an excuse to vote for Rmoney.

      • But of all of the potential VEEP candidates, she is by far the most popular with 26% favorable rating over 21% of Santorum….

        You have a point though, she may be a good pick for the base, but she won’t attract any independents… especially those that fled the Republican party over the past decade.

    • “Prediction: Romney’s VP will be non-white, or a woman (possibly both).
      I can’t envision any scenario where they pick a white male and not hand the election to Obama (assuming no scandals on the Obama side).” – zxbe, 4/10/12 (TPZoo)

      Condi would certainly fit the prediction. As you mention she may not be the optimal choice for a variety of reasons (differences with Mitt on key red-meat issues to their base).

      • Hmmm… so few non-whites and women that are willing to vote against their own best interests… Nikki Haley perhaps? She speaks better than Palin, but she is still in her first term.

        • It’s tough, as there are relatively few prominent female Republican politicians and even fewer prominent non-white Republican politicians.

          If I had to make a pick this minute, I’d say Marco Rubio is on the short list for the nod. Even though he’s a Senator (and the GOP wants the Senate), Florida allows the governor (a Republican) to fill the vacancy. The beauty of this for the Republicans is he looks like a white male, but they still get credit for him being Hispanic.

          I saw some news today that Rubio said he’d turn it down, but there’s a big difference to turning down a hypothetical and turning down the actual phone call.

          (Sorry if some of this sounds a little crass, and it’s not intended to; just speculation about the political calculus confronting the GOP.)

        • Haley appears to have way too many problems in her current job and is pissing off lots of people in SC, including other Repubs.

          There’s also the state security she used on personal business and a sex scandal that never went away. Still, she is a wingnut and one of the few that survived a Palin endorsement in a statewide contest. And, IMO, a truly attractive woman as Moose Droppings never was. Technically, she’s Caucasian and light-skinned enough that the bigots might give her a pass.

        • Oh, it would be so awesome for Mitt to pick Brewer. There’s not enough popcorn in the world for watching that unfold. lol

          But there are a couple of other GOP women governors…. Haley of course has been discussed; but there’s Susana Martinez of New Mexico (who’s said she doesn’t want it); and Mary Fallin of Oklahoma. And I’ve not read if she’s made any declarative statements about it yet. (I haven’t looked all that hard yet either.) And I know nothing of her. I have to assume anyone could do better than Palin. And being that it’s Oklahoma, that might be geographically enticing to Mitt the New Englander.

  19. I think Sarah Palin might be a good pick for VEEP for Mittens Romney… they have the same taste in naming their children weird things. Seriously, who can keep these names straight:

    Tagg, Tripp, Track, Willow, Piper, Trigg… oops, some normal names crept in there— Ben, Josh, Matt and Craig? That’s just crazy.

    • I think her head is too big now to ever accept the #2 nod. However… if she was smart (which she’s not), or if she could listen to some good advice (which I don’t think she would); it would make sense to accept it if he offers it. She’s young enough that in 8 years the presidency would be a much easier shot for her running as the incumbent VP.

      The downsides to Palin with McCain are somewhat lessened in that Mitt is young (relative to McCain) and healthy. So the “heartbeat” away argument is lessened for Palin. And if she’s used any of her time in the last 3 years to study up on current events and be able to tackle interviews from the press, then she furthers put those to rest.

      • The interesting thing about Palin possibly running in 2016/2020…is that Lawence O’Donnell pointed out that no one who has ever run for VP and then tried to run as a Prez candidate, has never been successful in that.

        • Years from now, when they write the history books about this era, we’ll see in writing what we all know in our guts — Sarah Palin delivered the coup de grace to the repiggie party.

            • And you’re probably right. I’m partly just being wonkish and being a bit of a devil’s advocate. I love these sorts of discussions. 🙂

            • Duly noted. And it’s interesting to speculate on what might happen. I expect that Romney is going to pick a total douchebag for VP…. it’s probably going to be someone pretty unknown to most people so far… his cousin Jon Huntsman, perhaps? Or Ben Quayle? 😉

  20. A separate subject/observation… today’s Arizona Republic top story was about the state legislature approving a bill and sending it to the Governor’s desk for her signature. The Bill? Requiring children to ride in car seats between the ages of 5 and 8 like 47 other states.

    I don’t know, smacks of a Government Mandate to me, does it to you?

  21. UCal-Davis ‘retired’ the police chief in charge during the Occupy protest when Lt. John Pike pepper-sprayed the demonstrators. From TP.

    • Since the NRA has had TN as a spokesman for quite a few years now, it is indeed way too late to distance themselves…

      • Sorry Wayne. My cheap cell phone puts comments just about anywhere. It was meant as a reply to Zooey’s comment.

        I really miss not being able to do links with it.

    • He added that if elected he would install a webcam in his office and warned that he was not coming to Washington, DC “to make friends.”

      Yeah, but the thing is, Sam, you have to make at least some friends in Washington, DC, or you’ll never get anyone to co-sponsor the crazy bills you want to introduce. I seriously doubt you have the first clue about what a Congressman (or Senator) actually does. Go ahead. Run! Marcy Kaptur will kick your ass.

      • He’d better be careful with that webcam stuff, people tend to forget that the camera is there and then wham! all sorts of crazy things can turn up. Nixon and Anthony Weiner both learned that lesson.

    • Seriously, they need to explain why they should have a tax-exempt status.

      And for crying out fucking loud, there is no First Amendment issue with Obama wanting insurance companies to cover contraception. If the Catholic Church believes that forcing them to pay for coverage that includes contraception coverage (and whose business is it of theirs anyway), then the solution is simple. Don;t buy the insurance for your employees and instead give them the money directly that they would need to buy their own insurance, with or without the contraception coverage.

      Besides, where is the “freedom of religion” in forcing your employees to follow YOUR religious beliefs?

  22. So, another GOP Birther proudly displays his ignorance.

    If you elect me to Congress to represent you, I’ll introduce legislation that requires any candidate for president or vice president to be certified by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court as being a citizen.

    Good luck making that happen. There’s no such person as the “Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.” The proper title is “Chief Justice of the United States.” But you would know that, Idiot, if you ever bothered to take a civics lesson on our federal government.

    • Civics? What’s that?/
      The current vetting process isn’t good enough for these juvenile acting parasitic nematodes?
      And if the “Chief Justice of the Supreme Court deems it is not their job..will the dolt ask ‘god’ for the final word?
      These people are just plain other way to describe.

  23. Cenk’s got Bill Donohue of the Catholic League on, and he’s wearing a pink shirt! Didn’t he listen to Santorum?

  24. Funny thing happened last night, I was watching the first part of Men In Black with my daughter and there is a part where the two main characters, J and K, are standing in front of a large board containing multiple tv screens presumably monitoring the aliens that are posing as humans here on Earth. At the last second before the scene changes, over K’s shoulder, you can see Newt Gingrich’s photo… I laughed pretty hard considering this movie was made in 1997 and it is still relevant to today.

  25. Sucking up to the Christianists:

    Mitt Romney — who in “a different lifetime” had promised to advance the equality of gay and lesbian people — is scheduled to deliver the Commencement address at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University on May 12, an Evangelical Christian college that refuses to recognize people or ideas that don’t adhere to its social conservative worldview.

  26. I was half listening to Thom Hartmann yesterday and, if I heard him right, he said that Mittens had fired a number of non Mormons in upper levels of Bain Capital. I haven’t been able to find anything about it. Did I hear him correctly?

  27. Another long day sewing, which resulted in a totally cute bag — but which doesn’t meet the threshhold for selling to other people. *sigh*

    The weird thing is, it’s the same fabric as my last reject bag.

    • Thanks to Rmoney, 10s of thousands of people aren’t wokring. Did you read the ‘American Parasite’ article in the Seattle Weekly

        • It sould make any Romney appearance at any company/factory where he tries to connect to ordinary people *drip* with irony. He won’t talk about his record with Bain – and from what we do know he really does need to keep his mouth shut.

      • I did, and I thank you for the link. If only the “job creators” made money by producing a good product instead of just churning capital and slicing a pound of flesh from an otherwise healthy corporate person.

  28. Pete asked earlier when the disgraced Secret Service officers were hired. Two managers were participants in the events in Columbia and they were hired at least 20 years ago. This is not a partisan disgrace, it’s just an everyday men with money in a foreign country disgrace.

  29. I’m always here reading Ms. Zooey. Too often you all are so quick you say what I’m thinking faster and better than I do. So then I steal links and put them on Twitter. I’m a bad girl.

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