Helen Alvaré on Obama and abortion

Tomorrow, I plan to write a column for Sunday about how the remarks of the candidates on judicial selection in the third debate solidified my preference for John McCain, on several levels.

It won’t be about the abortion issue. Obviously, Obama and I disagree about abortion. But so do most Democrats, and I’ve supported plenty of Democrats in my day. What I plan to get into is the less emotional aspects of that debate, those that deal with bipartisanship, pragmatism, the Constitution and the proper roles of the respective branches of government. For instance, as I’ve mentioned here, I was rather shocked to hear a Harvard-trained attorney equate the inferred (and I believe, nonexistent) "right to privacy" to the all-important First Amendment, deliberately stating that the first is just as sacrosanct a principle to him as the latter.

Here’s my text from which I’ll be working. It’s this passage from the transcript of the third presidential debate:

SCHIEFFER: All right. Let’s stop there and go to another question. And this one goes to Senator McCain. Senator McCain, you believe Roe v. Wade should be overturned. Senator Obama, you believe it shouldn’t.

Could either of you ever nominate someone to the Supreme Court who disagrees with you on this issue? Senator McCain?

MCCAIN: I would never and have never in all the years I’ve been there imposed a litmus test on any nominee to the court. That’s not appropriate to do.

SCHIEFFER: But you don’t want Roe v. Wade to be overturned?

MCCAIN: I thought it was a bad decision. I think there were a lot of decisions that were bad. I think that decisions should rest in the hands of the states. I’m a federalist. And I believe strongly that we should have nominees to the United States Supreme Court based on their qualifications rather than any litmus test. Now, let me say that there was a time a few years ago when the United States Senate was about to blow up. Republicans wanted to have just a majority vote to confirm a judge and the Democrats were blocking in an unprecedented fashion.

We got together seven Republicans, seven Democrats. You were offered a chance to join. You chose not to because you were afraid of the appointment of, quote, "conservative judges."

I voted for Justice Breyer and Justice Ginsburg. Not because I agreed with their ideology, but because I thought they were qualified and that elections have consequences when presidents are nominated. This is a very important issue we’re talking about.

Senator Obama voted against Justice Breyer [sic — he meant Alito] and Justice Roberts on the grounds that they didn’t meet his ideological standards. That’s not the way we should judge these nominees. Elections have consequences. They should be judged on their qualifications. And so that’s what I will do.

I will find the best people in the world — in the United States of America who have a history of strict adherence to the Constitution. And not legislating from the bench.

SCHIEFFER: But even if it was someone — even someone who had a history of being for abortion rights, you would consider them?

MCCAIN: I would consider anyone in their qualifications. I do not believe that someone who has supported Roe v. Wade that would be part of those qualifications. But I certainly would not impose any litmus test.

SCHIEFFER: All right.

OBAMA: Well, I think it’s true that we shouldn’t apply a strict litmus test and the most important thing in any judge is their capacity to provide fairness and justice to the American people.

And it is true that this is going to be, I think, one of the most consequential decisions of the next president. It is very likely that one of us will be making at least one and probably more than one appointments and Roe versus Wade probably hangs in the balance.

Now I would not provide a litmus test. But I am somebody who believes that Roe versus Wade was rightly decided. I think that abortion is a very difficult issue and it is a moral issue and one that I think good people on both sides can disagree on.

But what ultimately I believe is that women in consultation with their families, their doctors, their religious advisers, are in the best position to make this decision. And I think that the Constitution has a right to privacy in it that shouldn’t be subject to state referendum, any more than our First Amendment rights are subject to state referendum, any more than many of the other rights that we have should be subject to popular vote.

OBAMA: So this is going to be an important issue. I will look for those judges who have an outstanding judicial record, who have the intellect, and who hopefully have a sense of what real-world folks are going through.

I won’t get into the right or wrong about abortion per se in my column except to acknowledge that yes, I’m pro-life, so there’s a fundamental disagreement there, and I think Roe has been enormously destructive to the politics of our nation. Then I’ll move on to the more abstract stuff, where I believe I will make points that someone should be able to relate to regardless of their position on abortion itself.

Other Catholics have taken on the ethical issue head-on, however, and are actively appalled at the idea of a "President Obama." A few minutes ago, I got an op-ed submission from Helen Alvaré, as follows:

(Helen Alvaré was the planning and information director for the pro-life efforts of the nations’ Catholic bishops for 10 years. She is now an Associate Professor at the George Mason University School of Law. The opinions expressed herein are purely personal, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of either of these institutions)

My name has been closely associated with Catholic Church pro-life efforts for almost two decades. For that reason, and because I believe ardently that religion cannot be reduced to politics, I have studiously avoided public commentary about particular candidates over the course of 18 years of pro-life work.  It still offends me at three or four levels when a minivan sporting a political bumper sticker arrives at carpool at my kids’ Catholic school, or parks for Sunday Mass.  I will not have one.

But Barack Obama has pushed me over the edge of anonymity.  Whatever else is true about the dangers of appearing to claim (wrongly) that God has a horse in this race, it is more dangerous to pretend that I’m less than horrified at the prospect of an Obama presidency.

For here is a man who has publicly thrown his considerable influence behind the idea that it is acceptable to let newborn infants die if their mothers wanted an abortion and the child was mistakenly delivered alive. Here is a man who can countenance doctors  partially-delivering living unborn children,  and then stabbing, suctioning and crushing their heads – all in the name of preserving “abortion rights.”   His public record is unambiguous in this regard, despite attempts by the some to torture the meanings of Senator Obama’s voting record.  The facts are simple. While an Illinois state senator, Senator Obama led the opposition to a law that would have protected children who were accidentally born alive after an abortion-attempt. He also worked with the nation’s leading chain of abortion clinics, Planned Parenthood, to strategize the defeat of bills that would have given parents information about their minor girls’ abortions.  As a U.S. Senator, he denounced an overwhelmingly popular law to ban the killing of partially-born infants. And as a presidential candidate, he told Planned Parenthood’s Action Fund on July 17, 2007 that the “first thing I’d do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act.” For emphasis, he repeated: “That’s the first thing I’d do.”  This is overwhelming on its face. Among all the first statements about the meaning of his historic presidency a President Obama could choose, it would be this: an expanded abortion license.   

What can be made of such a man?  It is no good to say he is simply acting to champion women’s rights when most American women would outlaw or more stringently regulate abortion (New York Times, April 19, 2007 Megan Thee, Public Opinion on Abortion).  Or when even Obama concedes the possibility that abortion is killing, which of course makes it a forbidden “means” to any end – woman’s rights or any other.  He cynically leaves it to others at a higher “pay grade” to determine the exact moment when life begins, but we all know the instrumental purposes of this utterance: appear to maintain common ground with both sides of the ever-churning abortion debate.

Some readers will say of my position:  “She is a single-issue voter, and those people don’t care what becomes of the rest of us.”  To the exact contrary, I am suggesting that when Obama supports allowing a parent to kill a child, at perhaps the most defenseless moment of his or her life, and when he refuses to see this killing as an intrinsic wrong, but calls it rather a cherished right,  we should understand that none of us is safe.  For where does his “reasoning” leave other defenseless persons?  What does it imply about all of the decisions a “President Obama” will make?

Some will say that the good Obama will do for some people simply outweighs the harm he will do to others. Even this calculus is absurd; Obama’s judicial appointments will ensure that legalized abortion continues to be forced upon every state, as it has been since 1973 when the U.S. Supreme Court in one fell swoop overturned laws against most abortions in every state in the Union.  We’re talking millions more abortions during our lifetimes and the lifetimes of our children.   Obama has even declared himself opposed to continued funding for “crisis centers” offering pregnant women a way to support the children they wish to keep.

But even were the above calculus somehow measurable and correct, it is never acceptable to endorse killing as a means to any end.  By endorsing it, then, candidate Obama has demonstrated that he doesn’t have a conscience that functions in a way Americans should even recognize.   Rather, his is a “conscience” which surely comprehends what it must be like to die violently, or by means of starvation and dehydrations; yet he votes to allow these to continue.  Elevating such a man to the most important legal and social bully pulpit in the nation is unthinkable. Worse, it is a national tragedy.

For these reasons, and for the first time in my life, I have to speak out. An Obama presidency would be a moral nightmare.

Professor Helen Alvaré  is an Associate Professor of Law at the George Mason University School of Law in Arlington, Virginia.

I certainly understand where Ms. Alvaré is coming from on this, even though I’m going to be tackling this from another angle.

Personally, I haven’t been as shocked by Obama’s positions on this as she is. I say, you want to be shocked? Look at Joe Biden. He’s a Catholic; he should know better. And yet, as I’ve said plenty of times before, I like Joe. And I’m not horrified by the idea of an Obama presidency, he is after all my strong second choice. But pieces such as this make me wonder about myself: Maybe I’ve allowed myself to accept too much about the "political realities" of being a Democrat in America. There is an alternative — pro-life Democrats such as Bob Casey in Pennsylvania DO get elected nowadays, even with NARAL fighting tooth and nail to stop them. Obama and Biden have a moral alternative. So what excuses their position, from my own Catholic point of view?

But that’s not what my column’s going to be about.

56 thoughts on “Helen Alvaré on Obama and abortion

  1. Randy E

    Ms. Alvaré’s position is completely undermined by factcheck.org.
    She’s a victim of the great McCain misinformation machine. Perhaps she’ll come out against Kay Hagan in the NC senate race because the Dole ad misrepresents Hagan as an athiest.
    As a Catholic, I am at odds with Obama in this issue. Christian faith covers a wide range of issues and basing a vote on just one, especially when the information is faulty, would mean other Christian values are being overlooked. For example, poverty is completely IGNORED by McCain yet, according to Brad’s priest, this is THE issue Jesus most often addresses in the Bible. Why does Ms. Alvaré not speak out about his issue?

  2. david

    Why should the fact that Biden is a Catholic mean that he “should know better” than Obama concerning the immorality of abortion. What a ridiculous thing to say! Obama has gone to great lengths to assure American voters that he is a Christian. If he truly is one,then certainly he knows as well as Biden that his Christian God has a problem with abortion.
    And throughout this campaign you have steadfastly and pointedly refused to let ANY of Obamas’ disqualifying and murderous positions and associations bother you or diminish your support for his candidacy. It is therefore no surprise that Mrs. Alvares’ devastatingly piercing and well reasoned piece has no impact on you Brad.
    I look forward to the day that we no longer…well – you know.

  3. Capital A

    All Jewish fairytales aside, those of us who use the common sense and brains God gave us can understand that this country is founded on choice, not religious zealotry.
    Christ never lectured on abortion, or was that yet another of the lost texts of over 400 writers that we can imagine existed in an attempt to muddy a legal issue with religious rantings?

  4. Lee Muller

    So now the Ten Commandments is dismissed as “Jewish fairytales”, by the Atheist Left.
    Then why does Barack Obama have to lie about what he has said on late-term abortions, and what his wife has said about his support for them?
    Induced abortion, at any stage of a pregnancy, is a form of homocide, the termination of human life.
    After the moment of a live birth, there can be no argument that killing the newborn is both homocide and murder.
    At any time in the pregnancy that the unborn child could be delivered and nurtured to a healthy childhood, there is also no gray area – termination of that pregnancy is also homocide and probably just as much murder as that of the newborn with a name.
    At the other end of that miraculous process, there may be enough uncertainty, or the wish that there is some uncertainty, for the law to permit the termination of some human lives as mere medical procedure. The pretense can be made that the now lifeless form was no different than a parasite or tumor, except that every one of them is missed and remembered.
    Each day, medical science moves that moment of viability closer to the moment of conception, ever-shortening the gray area where those advocates of “choice” who don’t want to utter the words of what those choices are, can still try convince themselves that they are not doing anything that concerns morality.
    – excerpted from Matters of Life and Death, by Lee Muller, 1994.

  5. Capital A

    Lee, can I order your book on Amazon? I’m willing to go as high as one new American dollar coin.
    Seriously. It’s time for change.

  6. p.m.

    Here stand the liberal emperors, wearing no clothes, and yet they will not gaze into the mirror to behold the nakedness of their deprazed indifference.
    How might it be, sirs (and, yes, Randy E and Capital A, I use that term precariously loosely) that erring on the side of life is objectionable?
    Randy, a full examination at factcheck.org undermines Obama’s double talk on how he voted on the abortion issue, unless you just WANT to believe otherwise.
    And Capital A, common sense and brains would lead any reasonable person to believe Christ thought “Thou shalt not kill” was a good idea.
    Something tells me Christ wouldn’t have stood up for abortion rights, either. I just can’t see Him explaining the benefits of partial-birth abortion.

  7. david

    You’ ve parroted a typically meaningless and stupid sound bite Martin. Way to go! I don’t think people who spout your silliness understand how shallow and intellectually vacant it makes you appear.
    Here is the truth:
    -There are people who believe abortion is wrong, and a moral affront to both God and man.
    -There are people who “don’t give a rip about the little critters” after they are born.
    -These two groups are not composer of the same people.
    Do you really not get that?

  8. Herb Brasher

    There is an excellent article in the most recent issue of Christianity Today, by John Stackhouse, entitled “A Variety of Evangelical Politics.” It brings out the truth that evangelicals need to recognize and uphold the pluralistic society in which we live, and that we have to put up to some degree with things we disagree with. We cannot, for example, outlaw blasphemy, per se, without getting rid of free speech in general.
    That said, I cannot help but think that Prof. Alvaré is generally correct (though as a Protestant and upholder of the Reformation–which was not a mistake, as Brad thinks–I do not agree on birth control), and already stated before, I personally have to vote for McCain, as a protest vote on this issue.
    As much as I respect the sensible thinking (at times at least) of folks like Karen, Phillip, and yes even Randy and Capital A (when they are not on a rampage), I cannot for the life of me figure out the moral twists and turns that they make on this issue. As if one’s policies with regard to needy families is the equivalent of allowing–shall we say rather encouraging?–the wholesale slaughter of innocents? A child at 1 year (I have a grandson that old) has been alive for 1 year and 9 months, at least normally. The progress of that precious gift to our family is simply amazing. What the human brain is capable of, just in that time period, is staggering. Yet this child, a few months ago, would be called by them a fetus, a thing, a mass of protoplasm, whose value is only determined by whether it is wanted by it’s mother or not.
    As far as politics are concerned, I am probably closer to these folks that they realize (I realize that they don’t particularly care, and I don’t expect them to). I don’t want to legislate morality any more than is wise, nor do I wish to criminalize mothers who have abortions. (I would suggest that all the fathers’ identity be determined by DNA tests, and then those men be subjected to lectures by me–the very thought of which would surely cure them of any future irresponsible reproduction–on the subject of ethics. [This last bit is a joke, in case you didn’t realize it!)
    But I find it incomprehensible, and actually a cruel joke itself, that a presidential candidate can reject a proposed law, supposedly because it makes no provision for the life of the mother, and yet show no signs whatsoever of trying to bring about such a law. It is callousness and appeasement of the worse kind, and the main reason for it is to pander to the “pro-choice” organizations. I cannot understand how you folks can be so upset on the choice of an obviously incompetent Palin, when Obama is prepared to stoop this low in pandering to a constituency.
    It may be–indeed it is–necessary to work together and to compromise on even this issue, in order to get something accomplished. I want to support those who do that. But we have to ask ourselves at times if our ultimate attitude is not simply capitulation to evil. If so, it will come back to haunt us, many times over.

  9. randy e

    And Illinois law has long stated that if an abortion is performed when the fetus is deemed to be viable, the doctor must:
    …Have in attendance a second doctor who can immediately take over care of the child if it’s born alive.
    Use every available means to keep any born-alive child living and healthy.
    To do otherwise constitutes a Class 3 felony, which carries a sentence of two to five years in prison. That’s been the law in Illinois since 1975…
    PM, let’s step back from your non sequitur to the original point.
    Ms. Alvaré made the following point as the catalyst for speaking out: For here is a man who has publicly thrown his considerable influence behind the idea that it is acceptable to let newborn infants die if their mothers wanted an abortion and the child was mistakenly delivered alive.
    I cited factcheck.org’s analysis which proves she is COMPLETELY WRONG about Obama supposedly voting to let newborns die – an utterly COMPLETE DISTORTION of the truth. As he has explained, there was a law in place that prevented this.
    If you want to debate his overall position on abortion, fine, but drop the distortions.

  10. Randy E

    Herb, you read “abortion” in a thread and immediately attack haphazardly?
    My point was to address the complete distortion of truth regarding Obama and Illinois law. I also stated I was at odds with Obama.

  11. Lee Muller

    Even if you support legal abortions and a medical procedure, as I do, you need to realize the history of the abortion industry. It began as part of the Eugenics Movement, by a group of white Yankee liberals, Progressives and Socialists to engineer a superior race and to limit the populations of Negroes and Chinese in America.
    Other procedures advocated by them included forced sterilization of the “mentally defective”, and “mercy killings” of the elderly and very ill.
    The ideas were taken up by Germany in the 1930s and the rest of socialists in Europe, where they persist today as part of socialized medicine.

  12. bud

    Here are the key points:
    MCCAIN: I would consider anyone in their qualifications. I do not believe that someone who has supported Roe v. Wade that would be part of those qualifications. But I certainly would not impose any litmus test.
    BUD: This is just double talk. McCain says he doesn’t want a litmus test then turns around and implies that he will apply a litmus test.
    OBAMA: But what ultimately I believe is that women in consultation with their families, their doctors, their religious advisers, are in the best position to make this decision. And I think that the Constitution has a right to privacy in it that shouldn’t be subject to state referendum, any more than our First Amendment rights are subject to state referendum, any more than many of the other rights that we have should be subject to popular vote.
    Right On! Great answer! I agree with Obama 100%. This makes me support him all that much more.

  13. Herb Brasher

    Randy, I’m sorry, but I can’t help but think you are the one mainly missing the point. As many have pointed out, Barack Obama is the most radical pro-abortioncandidate ever to run for president of the U.S.
    And my point was that you equate the care of children after birth as being on the same moral plane as killing them before birth. That there is a lot that needs to be done with the former is plain, but given the track record of the last 30 years (30 million abortions), it pales in comparison to the latter. Neither you nor the others have, as far as I can see, done anything else but fog the issue up with similar statements to, “that’s above my pay grade.”
    Maybe I am dense, I don’t see anything haphazard about my statements. And you have been vehement in your defense of Obama, including his position on abortion.
    My vote is probably very similar in purpose to Brad’s in ’72. It won’t change a thing, but at least I can make a statement to myself, if to no one else.

  14. Phillip

    Hey Herb, how did I get lumped in here? I am personally troubled if not outright opposed to abortion. My wife and I opted not to do amnio and to let nature run its course—as things happened we ended up very blessed and super-fortunate but were ready to walk the walk if it had come to that. But going through that process made us realize the personal and complicated nature of that decision. (Indeed, Herb, if there was ever a topic on which anybody SHOULD go through “moral twists and turns” this is it). Though we are personally opposed to abortion for ourselves, we remain as pro-choice as ever.
    As usual, reading these things always makes me wonder if folks like Ms. Alvare (or you, Brad, but I know the answer to that) were as outraged over the Iraq War as over abortion. After all, Church’s leaders have been just as clear on that.
    I don’t dismiss in any way the heartfelt and passionate opposition to abortion, and I certainly understand that for Herb and many it trumps everything else and would be the basis for their vote. (Although again I point out that there is the question of whose policies will actually RESULT in fewer abortions…here the Catholic opposition to birth control and evangelicals’ opposition to sex ed etc goes over the line for me, seems inevitable to cause MORE abortions…)
    I simply point out that human beings are never immune from selectivity and arbitrariness in their internal moral constructs. This includes most followers of all organized religions, which seem to me to be, after all, concepts that originate within the human mind. They are human constructions.
    Herb accuses Obama of “pandering”…why do you not give Obama the credit for at least true belief in his position, even if you vehemently disagree with it? The problem for me is that I see and hear so many (maybe not you Herb but Brad and others) talk out of one side of their mouth in opposing abortion strongly, while out of the other side of their mouth advocating unjust war, devaluing human lives as just so much cannon fodder in the greater cause of advancing the American standard of comfortable living.
    McCain is the one who seems to be pandering, once having said that Roe should not be overturned but changing his tune this time around. Obama’s explanations of his Illinois votes satisfy me. McCain’s noxious dismissal of women’s “health” concerns, complete with his little pantomime quotation marks, offend me. And that’s what I call pandering.

  15. Jimmy

    I guess I look at these things differently on most of these issues and really agree with Brad for the most part which honestly kind of surprises me.
    I see these points less about McCain’s and Obama’s idealogical stance on their potential Supreme Court picks but more about how they would govern. Obama claims to be a person who would cross party lines and bring people together, yet his voting record does not show that inclination. When it really matters he falls along party lines. The Supreme Court votes illustrate that. I am shocked that McCain voted for Ginsburg because she is so liberal but he did and that really is exemplary for a Republican to do that.
    How can Obama vote against Roberts. The guy is a stud. I can certainly understand a vote against Alito because he scares me, but Roberts, that’s pathetic.
    People keep saying McCain voted with Bush 90% of the time and he has, but has seriously butted heads with the Republican mainstream on some very very public issues and he is despised by many right wingers. See immigration, campaign finannce, tax cuts, etc.
    His style of governance to this point does not match up with his presidential campaign persona that everyone is clinging to.
    But . . . he is going to win so I hope all of you are right.

  16. Herb Brasher

    Well, I thought my mind was made up, but Phillip’s thoughtful comments, and especially the following I received from a friend, have got me thinking:

    My problem is that if Christians always vote with Republicans due to one single issue, the Democratic party won’t ever have any incentive to develop a more pro-life platform. Republicans certainly don’t have any incentives to change their platform, if Christians continue to vote for them based on one single issue.

    Foreign policy and the view of America overseas will change much for the better with a Democratic victory.
    I have to think this through one more time. And Lee and his “facts” might just be enough to push me over the opposite edge.

  17. Herb Brasher

    Thanks again for your thoughtful reply. We think pretty much the same on war, except that I find it hard to say much negative about it, since I have so many friends who have children and spouses in the military. Anything we say can be easily interpreted as belittling their sacrifice.
    I do have a close relative who is a Vietnam vet, and an Obama supporter. He saw enough as a 19-year old what military officers did with his generation, and “cannon-fodder” is a good description of it. God has used his trauma, however, to be of help in counseling Rwandans and people from the Congo in the more recent human catastrophes.

  18. Brad Warthen

    Yes, david, “Obama has gone to great lengths to assure American voters that he is a Christian,” but a Catholic SHOULD “know better,” because opposition to abortion is an important Catholic teaching. Not so much for other denominations, such as, say, United Methodist or Episcopalian. They can be true to their faith and pro-“choice.” Catholics cannot.

  19. p.m.

    Randy, if you go a bit farther on factcheck.org than the page you linked us to, you discover that Obama’s own contentions about his position and his votes on the issue are no more accurate the Alvare’s. His position is a mere political dance, like voting present.
    Phillip, what is Obama’s position? I would express it as, “Well, whatever suits Momma.”
    And, bud, thanks for reproducing the Obama quote from the debate. If I read that correctly, he’s implying the constitutional right to privacy and what Momma wants are more important that life itself.

  20. Lee Muller

    Obama says in his book that he is not a Christian, or of any “traditional religion”, but of a mix.
    He was raised as a Muslim. His religion is that of Jeremiah Wright, a former Muslim who created his own church on his personality and a mix of religions, focused on hating whites and Jews.

  21. Randy E

    pm and Herb, let’s try this again.
    Ms. Alvaré basis her opposition to Obama on the “born alive” legislation in Illinois. She recited the McCain campaign slander that Obama is willing to let such babies die. That is a lie. I cited factcheck.org as evidence that it is a lie. Yes, there is more to the issue, but I am referring to the “born alive” issue.
    Herb, for the third time I will say again I AM AT ODDS WITH OBAMA on the abortion issue. Both of you go beyond this to paint me with some broad brush regarding abortion when I’m making a very specific point.
    Regarding equating treatment of life after birth with life before birth, yes Herb I am equating the two as the same. Jesus didn’t travel the country side imploring us to protect unborn babies (certainly he is pro-life in this issue). As I explained, he addressed poverty more than any other subject, as explained by Father Lehocky (a man who certainly studied the issue).
    Phillip made the same point in regards to fatalities incurred during a war. Jesus wouldn’t prioritize life nor would he believe that death by abortion was worse death by bombing. (This is what makes McCain’s singing about bomb bomb bombing Iran so distasteful, he makes light of death.)
    While democrats, in general, favor abortion rights republicans are pro-life until the baby is born then it’s every man for himself. Neither is in keeping with Christian values. With this in mind, a pious Christian, Muslim, or Jew would take issue with either candidate. Given that, we are left to take into account the wide range of positions of each. Given my Catholic sense of social justice, Obama is a clear choice for me.

  22. Herb Brasher

    Interesting how people like to argue from silence with regard to Jesus–what he didn’t talk about, or what he didn’t do.
    That argument is precarious, because it does not take into account his context, nor does it take into account the ongoing work of the Spirit whom he promised to send, who “will lead you into the truth.”
    I’ll think more about about Randy’s position (including his “pro-choice” but “anti-abortion” definition, which sounds an awful lot like being “pro-life” and pro-choice both, but this particular argument holds no water, neither on this issue, nor on homosexual practice. Christian ethics cannot be built on arguments from silence.

  23. Lee Muller

    Christ specifically does not leave us with a huge set of laws, because he was about moving beyond the myriad of laws, Jewish and Roman, which became less meaningful as they expanded in an attempt to control people who were suffering morally decay.
    His teachings are about moving to a higher level of behavior, based on appreciation of God, and all God’s creations, behavior motivated by positive forces with your own soul, rather than by negative external threats.

  24. Randy E

    Herb, please cite the line or lines from my posts in which I indicated I am pro-life and pro-choice. For the fourth time, I am at odds with Obama on the abortion issue.
    I am pro-life in regards to life at all stages; unborn babies, newborn, kids growing up in poverty, people being blown up by US bombs, and people on death row – all in keeping with my Catholic faith.
    If we don’t consider the frequency of a topic in the Bible as a measure of importance, then we are left with two alternatives. One, ALL topics are equally important. Two, we decide for ourselves what topics are most important.
    Because you disagree with the assertion that poverty is of greater significance because of the ubiquity of it in the Bible, you believe in an alternative. Herb, are you suggesting that anger or coveting your neighbor’s wife are of equal importance to Jesus as thou shall not kill? Or, you have prioritized his teachings based on your opinion.
    Which is it?

  25. Herb Brasher

    Randy, I think we all need to calm down a bit, and perhaps read our comments more carefully. OK, I mixed up Phillip’s statement of being pro-choice and applied it to you.
    Likewise, you write that I disagree with the assertion that poverty is of greater significance because of the ubiquity of it in the Bible, which I never said, either. What I did write was that, just because Jesus does not speak to a particular topic, it is therefore irrelevant or unimportant to him. Jesus did not speak to the subject of nuclear weapons, but that does not mean that they would have been irrelevant to him. They were simply not part of that context. In a poor, largely agrarian society, in addition one that is waiting the birth of a promised Messiah, wide-scale abortion is not an issue, either. Nor are gay practices (I do not speak of gay orientation) an issue in 1st century Palestine. I mention these as examples of how contemporaries try to argue from silence
    What Jesus did do, and I’m sure you will agree, was to assert that the OT law would be “fulfilled” (a concept that would require a few volumes to expound on), and not abrogated in any way. Although there may be “weightier matters” and less weightier ones, there are no obscure laws nor irrelevant ones.
    The year of Jubilee in the Old Testament (there is no evidence that ancient Israel ever complied with those laws) shows that God’s ideal state is one in which wealth is regularly re-distributed, and if anyone had to sell himself into slavery because of an economic downturn, he was to be released at that 50 year mark, and all land returned to it’s original owner or owner family/clan. Libertarians can do flips over that if they want to; it doesn’t matter, because that is still evidently what God ideally wants in a society.
    Still, God is also evidently prepared to put up with dramatically less than ideal situations, and evidently longs for our friendship; what he can’t put up with is hypocrisy and people who don’t need him, or attempt to trivialize his demands (summed up in “be perfect, as your father in heaven is perfect”– a pretty high standard, I would say).
    In that sense I would say that one law is not more “important” than another. James writes that if we break one commandment, we’ve broken them all, evidently because rebellion is exactly what the word says it is, apart from the fact that breaking one commandment inevitably leads to breaking more of them in order to cover up the first infraction.
    There is much about Obama that attracts me, especially since I’ve been able to trace back assertions like Lee’s guilt by association and find that they have been snipped out of context and twisted around in order to prove what they do not prove. Obama is articulate, and communicates well. It looks like he will have a much more sensible foreign policy. The US government is very often hated now throughout the world, and not for no reason. We carry a big stick (bought with borrowed money on interest), but we do not know how to speak softly nor intelligently–well, a lot of junior diplomats do, and are superb, but they tend to be overruled by ideology.
    So I hope that it is also true that Obama’s domestic policies also reduce the number of abortions. If so, I will be very pleasantly surprised. That is not what I expect. After all, as I tried to point out, serious, knowledgeable observers say specifically that Obama is the most radical pro-abortion candidate we have ever had to run for President. I expect that he will appoint people who are like-minded, and I expect the holocaust to continue. I would guess that we will not see any ban on any abortion procedure, no matter how barbaric it may be. [Another topic, but I also expect that freedom of speech for evangelicals, at least, will be gradually and severely curtailed, but that’s probably OK. We have had it too good for too long; it is time for us to grow up.]
    Now I have to decide whether the holocaust is as relatively unimportant as you and others say it is, in other words, whether I can vote for a man who supports that holocaust without apology. If I do not vote for him, it will not be a vote for McCain, but a protest vote on this one issue.
    This is my last comment using my name; I’ll probably be back, but I’ve discovered that it is not safe for my family for me to use my full name, nor does the telephone call tracing thing work that Mike Cakora described several months back, at least not on our system.

  26. Herb Brasher

    Well, one more, this one a quote from a knowledgeable Catholic journalist:

    You can find pro-life Dems at the level of the US House in some rural areas of the country. Our own Roman Catholic Dem is pretty pro-life. But Obama’s devotion to abortion is more extreme than anything we’ve ever seen. So, research the candidates below the presidential ticket and you might find some you can vote for in good conscience.

    It is that “Obama’s devotion to abortion is more extreme than anything we’ve ever seen”–and not from ideologues, but from intelligent people–that troubles me. I must say it troubles me greatly.

  27. p.m.

    If the Bible mentions poverty more than it does abortion, I wouldn’t think that means much. I would surmise that God figured abortion was a no-brainer; it’s a life-and-death issue; “Thou shalt not kill” covers it pretty firmly.
    I mean, dang, Randy, I talk more about this election than I do about sex. But which do you think I like better?
    The idea that poverty is of more significance than abortion because it shows up more often in the Bible is just another example of a liberal clutching desperately at a straw.
    Abortion is final. Poverty is cured by hard work and smarts.
    The poor will always be with us, but the aborted never are.

  28. p.m.

    To quote from the article you linked us to, Herb:
    “Mr. Obama believes that marriage is a sacred union, a blessing from God, and one that is intended for a man and a woman exclusively.”
    But: “Mr. Obama opposes amending state constitutions to define marriage as a heterosexual institution, describing such proposals as discriminatory.”
    Point A: Obama is thus on both sides of the issue, as usual, and contradicts himself.
    Point B: What business is it of Obama, a U.S. senator, what states do? He is no judge. He never even wrote an article for the Harvard Law Review of which he was president. If S.C. wants to recognize only marriage between a man and a woman, it’s no business of Obama’s, even if he’s president. The federal government doesn’t write state law.

  29. Lee Muller

    Herb, I am sorry the Obama hate and fear tactics have chased you from public discussion, but that is what they intend to do to all who disagree.
    Read Obama’s book. Read Bill Ayers book.
    They talk of shutting down the press and talk radio, blogs like this, even of building “re-education camps in the Southwest” and “possibly having to eliminate 25,000,000 people who cannot be indoctrinated”.
    I was going to ask you what facts I posted here now which you found incredible, so I could post some references. I happen to know the history of the Eugenics Movement from reading their original documents at the Genetics Laboratory in Huntington, Long Island.

  30. Herb Brasher

    Sorry, Lee, but it’s the other side of the political spectrum that’s giving me a headache, that and some complications with my work.

  31. Jesus

    The Bible contains six admonishments to homosexuals and 362 admonishments to heterosexuals.
    That doesn’t mean that God doesn’t love heterosexuals.It’s just that they need more supervision.

  32. Randy E

    PM, Jesus wasn’t indulging in common man dialogue. His word had meaning. A bunch of smart Christians got together 1700 years ago to figure out which of Jesus’ saying should be shared with all. Let me know when you have someone editing your narrative and I’ll pay attention to what you talk about.
    Also, Obama can believe in a traditional marriage but do not support a constitutional amendment. Imagine that, he’s NOT in favor of government controlling our lives. Someone tell McCain and Palin.

  33. p.m.

    Randy, I wish I could imagine that Obama doesn’t want the government to control our lives, because then I would worry a lot less about this election.
    It seems to me that if you and I read the same verse in the Bible, or the same quote from Obama, or the same set of directions on how to bake a cake, we wouldn’t agree on the meaning of any one of those things.
    I do, by the way, have my narrative (not the stuff I post here, of course) edited pretty frequently, but I would never presume to be important enough to actually have you pay attention to me, or to be edited by King James’ Bible committee or whoever it is you’re talking about.
    I mean, heck, I don’t presume to be a religious icon. I just enjoy offering my own interpretation.
    “The poor will always be with us, but the aborted never are” really was my best shot, but it bounced off you like a request to ask Barack Obama a pointed question would glance off an MSNBC talking head.
    With the man who would never have the government control our lives kicking the press who didn’t endorse him off his plane (a dictatorial maneuver if ever I saw one),
    how could a journalist who wants to keep his job risk such a thing?
    Agreeing to disagree without being so disagreeable as to provoke a lawsuit,

  34. Randy E

    The King James version came about 1200 years after the Council of Nicea meet – the group of Christian authoritarians who unified the Gospel.
    I don’t know when you had a question about abortion “bounce off of me” but I have been clear about being pro-life and (for the 5th time I’ll explain) at odds with Obama.
    My point is the pro-life establishment on the republican side often pushes an unfunded mandate of having a child (no abortion) but then turning to an every man for himself position. By this I mean taxes and government are demagogued and any social spending is ridiculed as welfare.
    How hypocritical it is when the same republicans provide Big Oil with massive tax breaks and intervene when the Wall Street takes a nose dive. It’s ok that government regulates marriage, curtails abortion, and passes a law to intervene in the Terri Schiavo case. It’s not ok for government to have a progressive tax to provide health care or subsidize education for the poor.
    I am pro-life before AND AFTER birth. Jesus would abhor Obama protecting abortions and would abhor McCain ignoring poverty. Given this, I am left with an imperfect candidate. Given their positions on education (McCain offers vouchers and nothing else), war (McCain is ready to bomb bomb bomb Iran), the economy (the fundamentals are not strong and a gas tax holiday is a joke), judgment (Palin is a joke), there’s a clear choice for this Christian.

  35. p.m.

    So you leave me with an argument like Brad’s implicit privacy right in the Constitution vs. the explicit right to free speech.
    Abortion kills directly. If poverty kills, it’s not so explicit.
    And, mind you, I’m not trying to correct Jesus. I’m aware of the idea that sin has no degree — stealing a nickel is as objectionable as murder to a perfect God — but we punish murder more severely than we punish petty theft, so I tend to hang with the human side of that.
    To me, murder is permanent and poverty is correctable, so the two issues are incomparable, and abortion is nothing but murder, so that’s where I am. With Obama advocating murder, it makes little difference to me what other positions he has.
    But, on education, until I hear Obama or McCain say “I will make sure we educate enough people to give every county in every state qualified teachers in every subject, I don’t care what either candidate says. We throw money at buildings and not at fixing the real problem. We set standards we can’t meet and build gymnasiumns.
    On national security, Obama is too sympathetic to those who have opposed us and won’t have the respect of the military if he’s elected. McCain’s “bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran” comment was no more serious a misstep than Obama saying Iran is “just a tiny country, no real threat,” but the doves keep harping on what McCain said, so I have to bring up Obama’s discounting a country that has shown itself over the last 40 years to be our genuine enemy.
    On the economy, Obama loses because he would raise taxes, a move that usually ends up lowering revenue because it shrinks the economy.
    On judgment, well, Obama spending 20 years in Jeremiah Wright’s church listening to racist rhetoric every two weeks shows that all he cares about is politics. It’s amazing how black Wright’s church is and how white Obama’s commercials and speeches are. It all adds up something contrived for political effect.
    If McCain or someone on his behalf will buy enough air time over the next two days to put Wright’s “GD America,” hate speech and bigoted Christianity where it belongs — safely out of the public eye forever, save as a remembrance of being the issue that damned a hypocrite running for president — Obama will end up where he belongs, organizing a community somewhere, appearing on The View every two weeks, presiding over a law review for which he never writes.

  36. Randy E

    Sigh, “tiny country” was in relative to the USSR and the THOUSANDS of nukes they had. Feel free to compare the two. McCain wants to attempt a surge model in Afghanistan that the generals explain will not work, confuses Sunni and Shia, belittles Obama for his willingness to bomb Osama in Pakistan, and supports the world’s flimsiest argument that Alaska’s proximity to Russia has prepared Palin to face Putin.
    Regarding taxes, independent institute analysis shows that Obama, as compared with McCain, will provide lower taxes for those making 100k or less, will provide about the same for 100-250, and will have higher taxes for those making 250+. But, McCain and Palin say Obama will raise taxes 50 times a rally so why bother listening to nonpartisan analysis?
    Regarding judgment, the Palin pick, as explained by multiple CONSERVATIVES, was a huge mistake and poor reflection of McCain’s judgment. His willingness to win at all costs by cowtowing to Hagee (a man who believes Brad is a cult member and who said New Orleans deserved Katrina), by running a nefarious campaign of hate (breaking the promise in his convention speech that sent a tingle up Brad’s leg), and his “fundamentals of the economy are strong” reflect BAD JUDGMENT.

  37. Lee Muller

    Obama is a socialist, of the fascist sort.
    He is a racist, full of hate based on bogus “liberation theology”.
    He is a crook, a partner in crime with Tony Rezko.
    Since he has not proven his citizenship, no law he signed would be valid, anyway.

  38. Lee Muller

    If you want to see where the Democrats would take us, look at the last two years:
    * Democrat mortgage program crashes the entire banking system
    * Democrats run up more deficits in 2 years of Pelosi in control than in the previous 6 of Bush and the GOP having some power.
    * Democrats plans to abolish 401-k plans after the election
    * Democrats filing legislation to outlaw most firearms, many SUVs, and raise taxes to pre-Reagan levels
    The Great Depression began 3 years after the stock market crash in 1929, when taxes on “the rich”, those making over $100,000 a year, were raised from 25% to 55%.
    Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

  39. p.m.

    Hi, Randy. Read the truth:
    Obama: “Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, these countries are tiny compared to the Soviet Union. They don’t pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviet Union posed a threat to us.”
    McCain: “The biggest national security challenge the United States currently faces is keeping nuclear material out of the hands of terrorists. Should Iran acquire nuclear weapons, that danger would become very dire, indeed. They might not be a superpower, but the threat the government of Iran poses is anything but tiny.”
    And, no matter how little of the independent analysis you choose to quote, Obama’s plan raises taxes overall, takes more money out of the economy.
    Furthermore, last but not least, the good Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whose name you choose not to mention, trumps Palin a hundred fold with respect to bad judgment.
    Twenty years of kowtowing with a preacher who asked God to damn America is unacceptable behavior for a president.

  40. Randy E

    PM, your post about the USSR supports what I wrote! Obama cited these “tiny countries” in relation to the USSR. You apparently have gone Dana Perino on us – don’t remember the Cuban missle crisis, eh?

  41. p.m.

    Actually, I do remember the Cuban missile crisis, Randy. I was 10 years old at the time. I saw Kennedy speak on TV.
    Like Obama said, Cuba was a tiny country with relation to the USSR, too, and yet those October days in 1962 were the closest the world has come to nuclear war.
    I’m thinking the perpetrators of 9-11 didn’t hail from really big countries, either, so they must not have been a serious threat.
    Tell that to the thousands dead and their families.
    Have your multicolor messiah proclaim it from the mountaintop to his Muslim buddies.
    I mean, really, Randy, your last post didn’t make any sense. The Cuban missile crisis makes my argument for me — your candidate is a dunderhead who understands nothing but racial economics and wants to “spread the wealth” by disarming America.
    For all I know he wants to spread the wealth worldwide, and leave me high and dry.

  42. bud

    p.m. the problem with your guy, McCain, is that he sees EVERYTHING as a threat that requires the expenditure of thousands of American lives and trillions of dollars. At some point the solution is worse than the problem. Of course this doesn’t apply to Cuba in 1962. The threat in that situation was the USSR not Cuba.
    As for 9-11, what does that have to do with a threat from a sovereign nation like Iran, Iraq or Syria? The perpetrators of that atrocity were not representatives of any nation state. Instead they were rogue elements of a radical terrorist organization. It would be like blaming the United States for the acts of Timothy McVie. After all, wasn’t McVie an American?
    At the end of the day Obama understands the real threats and offers much more rational solutions. McCain only offers bomb, bomb, bomb.

  43. p.m.

    Bud, when you don’t have any facts or logic to back you up, why bother to post? You get yourself all wrapped up in meaningless technicalities and miss the heart of the matter entirely.
    1. The missiles were in Cuba, not the Soviet Union, which did not have long-range nukes in 1962, though the U.S. did. Cuba let the Soviets put the missiles there. Who cares who owned them? They were to be launched from “tiny country” Cuba. If Putin gives long-range nukes to Iran now or stages them there, should we not worry about them just because Iran is a “tiny country” and the missiles belong to Russia, not Iran? A mosquito is tiny compared to a human being. Can a mosquito carry a disease that will kill a man or a woman?
    2) What 9-11 has to do with Obama’s “tiny country” policy is that the perpetrators hailed from, lo and behold, tiny countries, compared to the U.S. and Russia. Or, to look at it another way, the Al Qaeda cell or cells that perpetrated 9-11 are a “country” so small Monaco is a continent by comparison, but look at the damage than teeniny country did! And, unlike Timothy McVie, they weren’t Americans! They penetrated while Bill Clinton was playing harMonica and perpetrated once Bush had taken office.
    3) At the end of the day, all Obama wants is reparations for African America, U.S. security be damned. He wants everybody to have the same kind of deal Rezko gave him. And before he’s done, he’ll make you pay for it.

  44. Lee Muller

    Obama has the mentality of a Third World Marxist dictator.
    He has never had a real job, and has no idea of how wealth is created.
    He sees himself as a victim, with the oppressors being “capitalists”, “big business”, “the rich”, “whites”, and “Jews”. He sells that victimhood garbage to the same sort of losers who have been lapping it up from Jeremiah Wright, Louis Farakan, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.

  45. Randy E

    Accusing bud of eschewing facts is like accusing Brad of being critical of McCain – unrealistic.
    The tiny country of Cuba was simply a puppet for the Soviets.
    At the end of the day, all Obama wants is reparations for African America – pm Going racial undermines any credibility you may have had.

  46. Lee Muller

    There were more blacks killed last year in Chicago by other blacks, than US soldiers killed in Iraq.
    Obama, the mystery man with 6 years of resume missing, no proof he ever graduated from Columbia, never held a real job, no achievements, made and financed by the corrupt Chicago Daley machine, and financed by Arabs.

  47. Lee Muller

    Obama went racial this entire campaign.
    Obama is the one who promises reparations, and talks in the lingo of Afro-American liberation theology. Some of you just don’t know enough to pick up on it.
    Obama is one of the Democrats who defends the corrupt Community Reinvestment Act mortgage fraud, because it constitutes reparations.
    Obama is the one who was on the radio discussing reparations, when he said a new Supreme Court needed to be used to force reparations, because the Constitution and Congress were not doing it.
    Obama is the one who accuses every critic of being a racist when they point out his Marxism, racism or sheer stupidity.


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