Category Archives: Politics

When in Rome: Team America shut down

From George Weigel at National Review Online:

… Still, the point is that at their press conferences, the American cardinals leaked precisely nothing. The discussion focused on issues, emotions, states of mind, and conclave process; there was no violation of the confidentiality of the General Congregations whatsoever. What there was, however, was a real exchange, with journalists from all over the world — an exchange that helped develop stories of a positive character. What was happening was the New Evangelization, in an extended sense of that term.

So in order to try to solve a problem caused by the unscrupulousness of the Italian press acting in tandem with unscrupulous leakers who had nothing to do with the American cardinals, the Americans’ press conferences — the most refreshing and media-friendly source of positive information and commentary on a story that has riveted the world’s attention, and an extraordinary opportunity to explain what the Catholic Church is — were shut down….

Read it all.

Timeline of Benghazi victim #5: Nakoula Basseley Nakoula

Nakoula Basseley Nakoula is escorted out of his home by Los Angeles County Sheriff's officers in Cerritos, California (Sept 15, 2012)
Okay, I’m the first to admit that Nakoula Basseley Nakoula is a fairly unattractive victim. He has a long history of run-ins with the law, primarily on fraud charges, including bank fraud, check-kiting, and operating businesses under various aliases.

Oh, and of course, he’s still alive, unlike Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, and Glen Doherty, the four Americans killed during the Benghazi, Libya, attack. But as he sits in jail, denied bail, Nakoula’s a victim of the Obama Administration’s refusal to admit that what happened in Benghazi had nothing to do with Nakoula’s film, Innocence of Muslims, and everything to do with a planned terrorist attack aimed at the United States, specifically on 9/11.

So in order to keep up the administration’s Potemkin façade of riot and death by video (and only video), Nakoula currently remains in jail (since September 27) on charges of violating his probation, including using the Internet without permission from his parole officer.

Before I go into the timeline, there is this bit of legal perspective from Ken from Popehat (h/t Patterico):

Based on 6 years as a federal prosecutor and 12 as a federal defense lawyer, let me say this: minor use of a computer — like uploading a video to YouTube — is not something that I would usually expect to result in arrest and a revocation proceeding; I think a warning would be more likely unless the defendant had already had warnings or the probation officer was a hardass. But if I had a client with a serious fraud conviction, and his fraud involved aliases, and he had the standard term forbidding him from using aliases during supervised release, and his probation officer found out that he was running a business, producing a movie, soliciting money, and interacting with others using an alias, I would absolutely expect him to be arrested immediately, whatever the content of the movie. Seriously. Nakoula pled guilty to using alias to scam money. Now he’s apparently been producing a film under an alias, dealing with the finances of the film under the alias, and (if his “Sam Bacile” persona is to be believed) soliciting financing under an alias. I would expect him to run into a world of hurt for that even if he were producing a “Coexist” video involving kittens.

And Patterico’s comment on that is right on the money:

The problem we have here is that the head of the federal executive has criticized this guy repeatedly. His administration pressured Google to take down his movie; his Cairo embassy called it an “abuse” of free speech; and his State Department apologized for it in a country (Pakistan) where a public official offered money for the filmmaker to be killed.

So even if the line guys are doing their jobs the way they would otherwise, the President has made them look like political hacks. Which is unfortunate on several levels.

So, now to the timeline:

  • July 1-2 – You­Tube user “sam ba­cile” up­loads a 14-minute trail­er for a movie titled Innocence of Muslims, con­sist­ing of video clips that mock the Is­lam­ic proph­et Muhammad. (Los Angeles Times)
  • September 4 – An Arabic-dubbed version of the trailer is uploaded to YouTube.
  • September 8 – The Egyptian religious television channel Al Nas airs the video and condemns it.
  • September 11 – Four Americans, including Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, are killed when militants attack and burn the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. In Egypt, protesters scale the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and tear down an American flag. Emails from the State Department Operations Center linking terrorists (not protestors) to the Libyan attack are sent to a number of government and intelligence agencies (including the White House Situation Room, the office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the FBI) two hours after the attack begins. (CBS News, Sharyl Attkisson)
  • September 12President Barack Obama, in an interview with Steve Kroft of CBS 60 Minutes, says: “You’re right that this is not a situation that was exactly the same as what happened in Egypt, and my suspicion is, is that there are folks involved in this who were looking to target Americans from the start.” This part of the interview is not aired or reported by CBS until posted online on October 19. (Breitbart.com)
  • September 12 – President Obama condemns the film and any violence that has resulted from it. (USA Today)
  • September 12/September 13 – The U.S. government identifies and provides the media with the name of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, 55, a Coptic Christian in southern California who is on probation after his conviction for financial crimes as the key figure behind the anti-Muslim film that ignited mob violence against U.S. embassies across the Mideast. It is not immediately clear whether Nakoula is the target of a criminal investigation or part of a broader investigation into the deaths of the four Americans in Libya. (AP, Stephen Braun) Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies are called to Nakoula’s Cerritos home after reports of a large group of news media gathered outside.
  • September 13 – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemns Nakoula’s film while meeting with Moroccan officials. (TPM)
  • September 13– The U.S. apologizes for free speech in an online statement issued by the U.S. embassy in Cairo:

    The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims — as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. … Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.

  • September 14Karen Redmond, a spokeswoman for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, says that Nakoula’s federal probation on charges of bank fraud in 2010 is under review, but provides no details of why or when the probation review was initiated, or how long the process would take. (CNN)
  • September 14 – Bodies of the four Americans killed in Libya are returned to the U.S. for burial. At their memorial service at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, Charles Woods, father of fallen Navy SEAL Tyrone Woods, says that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton assures him that they are going to “arrest and prosecute” the man that made the scapegoated YouTube video critical of Islam. (Breitbart.com)
  • September 15 – Nakoula is escorted by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to an overnight “voluntary interview” with a probation officer, after federal officials say they are reviewing his probation. He is interviewed for about half an hour at the station shortly after 12 a.m. in his hometown of Cerritos, California. Nakoula leaves the local sheriff’s station after the federal officials are done interviewing him. (CNN and the New York Daily News)
  • September 17 – Family members of Nakoula leave their their home early Monday morning to join the filmmaker in hiding. Nakoula has not returned to his home since being interviewed by federal probation officers about his role in the creation of the film, which federal authorities claim have ignited ignited violent anti-American protests across the Muslim world. Shortly before 4 a.m., officers from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department escorted members of Nakoula’s family, who had their faces covered, out of the house and into police vehicles so they could rejoin Nakoula at an undisclosed location. It is the understanding of Steve Whitmore, spokesman for the Sheriff’s Department, that they won’t ever return to their Cerritos house, though that decision is “entirely up to the family.” (ABC News)
  • September 20 – The U.S. government airs an advertisement in Pakistan condemning Nakoula’s film and apologizing, once again, for free speech. The ad, which costs around $70,000 and airs on approximately seven different television markets in Pakistan (according to U.S. State Department Spokesperson Victoria Nuland), is appearing in an attempt to undercut anger against the U.S. The television ad features clips of President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton during press appearances in Washington in which they condemn the video. Their words are subtitled in Urdu. “We absolutely reject its content and message,” said Clinton in the advertisement. A caption on the ad reads: “Paid Content.” Obama and Clinton did not film their statements for the ad, instead clips were taken from statements condemning the film each had made earlier. President Obama’s remarks were recorded in Washington, D.C. on September 12 and those of Secretary Clinton were from September 13 in Morocco. The ad ends with the seal of the American Embassy in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital. In an email, the embassy also sent out a link to video of ordinary Americans condemning the anti-Islam film, which appeared on YouTube. (CBS News and the Jewish Press)
  • September 27 – A hearing on Nakoula’s probation violations results in charges being brought against him and denial of bail. Citing a lengthy pattern of deception, U.S. Central District Chief Magistrate Judge Suzanne Segal says Nakoula should be held as a flight risk after officials say he violated his probation from a 2010 check fraud conviction. Authorities say he has eight probation violations, including lying to his probation officers and using aliases, and he might face new charges that carry a maximum two-year prison term. Nakoula remains behind bars until another hearing where a judge will rule if he broke the terms of his probation. Under his probation, Nakoula is banned from using computers and the Internet without supervision. Some critics have said the probation-violation probe of Nakoula is a sign that the White House is seeking to appease extremists and weakening U.S. speech freedoms. U.S. law-enforcement officials portray the investigation of Nakoula as a routine response to public information about a potential violation. (Wall Street Journal and the Huffington Post)
  • October 10 – Nakoula appears before U.S. District Judge Christina Snyder in Los Angeles. He denies he violated his probation that resulted from a bank fraud conviction in 2010. Snyder schedules an evidentiary hearing for November 9, 2012 (after the presidential election). (Wikipedia)

Nakoula currently remains in jail.

From the PJ Tatler

No one expects the (TEC) Inquisition

So how many bishops in TEC currently have some type of charge against them? Every day in every way, it seems to grow and grow, since it is now apparently a hanging offense for some bishops to offer an opinion in court (even though they are not the litigants).

I keep thinking that at some point, those bishops remaining in TEC would be embarrassed by these actions, but I would be wrong. From Anglican Ink:

A Reference Panel has found that a prima facie case of misconduct can be made against nine serving and retired bishops of the Episcopal Church for having endorsed an amicus brief presented to the Texas Supreme Court, or for having given testimony in a trial court proceeding involving the Diocese of Quincy.

The Rt Rev. Peter H. Beckwith, the Rt Rev Maurice M. Benitez, the Rt Rev John W. Howe, the Rt Rev Paul E. Lambert, the Rt Rev William H. Love, the Rt Rev D. Bruce MacPherson, the Rt Rev Daniel H. Martins, the Rt. Rev. Edward L. Salmon, Jr, and the Rt Rev James M. Stanton have been informed the Reference Panel had reviewed the charges brought against them by the provisional bishops of Fort Worth and Quincy and by lay and clergy accusers.

In an 19 Oct 2012 email Bishop Matthews wrote:

“The Reference Panel unanimously decided according to IV. 6.sec.8 that the complaint will proceed with option (c), Conciliation pursuant to Canon IV.10.”

Under the Title IV disciplinary canons, if the intake officer finds that if a prima facie case can be made against the accused – if the charges if proven true would constitute an offense – the proceedings are passed on to a Reference Panel for action….

Under the new Title IV disciplinary canons, which were roundly challenged at the 77h General Convention in July as being flawed with over 75 corrections and modifications proposed for its reform, the intake officer must first determine if the offense described in the complaint warrants action. By referring it to the panel, Bishop Matthews has held that having signed a document submitted to a secular court that defends one view of Episcopal Church history and canon law, or in the case of Bishops Beckwith, MacPherson and Salmon, for having testified in the Quincy case, they violated the canons.

Bishop Matthews has “absolutely no business” remaining as intake officer, canon lawyer Allan Haley observed. Bishop Matthews was present at the House of Bishops private conversations on the complaint brought by Bishops C. Wallis Ohl, Jr., and John Buchanan against the nine and it is axiomatic that a judge may not be part of the underlying proceedings.

One of the nine told Anglican Ink he has yet to be told what it was about his actions that violated the canons. Is it the “issue” or “expressing the issue in court” he said.

If it is the issue, the bishop noted the position set forth in their brief was identical to that put forward in 2009 in the Bishops Statement on Polity. If it was stating this belief in court, “what is illegitimate about that,” he asked.

Canon law experts note the prosecution of the nine bishops has all the hallmarks of a political trial, as the actions for which they are accused are not considered “triable” when done by other bishops….

If the nine are being charged with violating this canon, the question need be asked why the Bishops of Texas, Southwest Texas, Northwest Texas and the Rio Grande have not been brought up on charges also, one bishop told AI….

Read it all.

Episcopal Forum members initiate attack on bishop in Diocese of South Carolina

Keep reading to see a response to this press release from the Rev. Canon James Lewis of the Diocese of South Carolina. From the Episcopal News Service, a press release from the 14 people (2 clergy, 12 lay) who brought complaints against Bishop Mark Lawrence of South Carolina:

With much deliberation, Melinda A. Lucka, an attorney in the Charleston, S.C. area and an active communicant in the Diocese of South Carolina, requested that the Disciplinary Board for Bishops review various actions of Bishop Lawrence that have taken place over the past two years. Ms. Lucka asked the Board if it could make a determination as to whether or not the actions were consistent with the mission and polity of The Episcopal Church.

Lucka made the request on behalf of 12 lay communicants and two priests in the diocese. The communicants are: Robert R. Black, Margaret A. Carpenter, Charles G. Carpenter, Frances L. Elmore, Eleanor Horres, John Kwist, Margaret S. Kwist, Barbara G. Mann, David W. Mann, Warren W. Mersereau, Dolores J. Miller, Robert B. Pinkerton, M. Jaquelin Simons, Mrs. Benjamin Bosworth Smith, John L. Wilder, and Virginia C. Wilder. The clergy who were named are longstanding Episcopal priests Colton M. Smith+ and Roger W. Smith+.

Generally, names of individuals who initiate ecclesiastical requests are held in confidence through privacy provisions of the Canons; however, the complainants in this request gave their approval to allow themselves to be made known to the Bishop.

Lucka said that they agreed to be named “as a courtesy to Bishop Lawrence, so as not to be cloaked in a shroud of secrecy.” They hope that this “will prevent any suppositions that may be asserted in the upcoming days or weeks that The Episcopal Church may have initiated or encouraged the filing of this request.”

They also want to clarify that although most individuals are members of the Episcopal Forum of South Carolina, an organization of mainstream Episcopalians in the diocese, this was not an action taken by the Forum or its Board. In addition to the individuals who made this request, there are many, many other loyal Episcopalians in the diocese who felt strongly that Episcopal Church officials should review the Bishop’s actions.”

“There is definitely a place for orthodox and evangelical views within the diocese; that’s the beauty of being under the large tent of The Episcopal Church; however, viewpoints and practices in the diocese began to take large leaps away from the broader Church when various actions took place. Severing the legal connections to the governing laws of the Church and essentially forming a new corporate entity, outside of The Episcopal Church by changing the diocesan corporate purpose statement to no longer accede to the Constitution and Canons of our Church seemed to be going too far out of bounds.”

“The hope of these individuals is that the diocese will continue to be a home for all Episcopalians to worship and live together in God’s love through Jesus Christ. They ask the Church for prayers for the Bishop and all involved.”

And the response from Lewis+:

Episcopal Forum Members Initiate Attack on Bishop

Now that the names of those responsible for bringing accusations against Bishop Lawrence before the Disciplinary Board for Bishops is known, it is instructive to consider what that list reveals.

  1. All of the 14 are presently members of the Episcopal Forum of South Carolina.
  2. They represent six of a total of 21 current Board Members of the Forum.
  3. They come from five parishes and one unaffiliated congregation, with half the lay members indicating they are parishioners of Grace Church, Charleston.
  4. Of the 12 laity, eight represent four married couples.
  5. The legal representative of the group, who presented their case to the disciplinary board for Bishops, is also a member of the Forum Board and is married to Forum Board member and fellow accuser, Bob Black. That means at least 1/3 of their Board was actively engaged in this project.

The picture painted is exactly the opposite of that portrayed in the press release by which their names were revealed.

Despite their assertions to the contrary, this is clearly a group comprised of the primary leadership of the Forum.  To attempt to claim the Forum is not responsible for these actions is disingenuous at best.

It is also clearly not a group representative of a large portion of the diocese. It is representative of a very narrow slice of what is a small group in a handful of parishes.   They have nothing like the broad, concerned constituency they proclaim.

Most troubling is the assertion that they have released their names voluntarily, as a courtesy, to avoid the scandal of secrecy. That is precisely what these actions represent. The diocese was dragged all the way through this process once already last Fall, before the Bishop was acquitted, without the Bishop ever being able to face his accusers. The likelihood of that being a separate group than the present accusers seems vanishingly small. Yet, only now are they graciously coming forward. The real reason is that the Canons require it. Upon the request of the Diocese, that information HAD to be revealed. There is nothing gracious at all about their actions. It is posturing that never should have even been allowed if the Disciplinary Board for Bishops and its President and Attorney had followed their own canons.  Providing these names should have been proforma and immediate when the charges were certified in September. Instead it has required an entire month before that happened.

This goes to the heart of the essential sickness of The Episcopal Church in these days. It is a place of canonical chaos. Even when it has applicable canons, it does not follow them. At its own discretion it applies them capriciously or not at all. It is for good reason that the Diocese of South Carolina put in place the canonical and constitutional firewalls that now seal it off from such continued abuses.

Election 2012: Things that make you go hmmmmm. . .

So this is purely anecdotal, but I think Facebook postings can reflect what’s happening at large, if you have a wide enough variety of friends that you aren’t just in a bubble. And I have noticed something interesting over the past week. For the past month or two, my die-hard progressive friends have been posting things like this:

But all of a sudden last week, I started seeing less of those and more of this:

Are progressives preparing themselves for a Romney victory? Are they realizing they might still want to be friends with those they have been insulting over the past few months, especially if their man loses? Interesting.

Keep the ball rollin’ . . .

And the media tries its best, as illustrated by just a few stats on the performance by CNN’s Candy Crowley, moderator of last night’s second presidential debate:

So there ya go–the media at its finest, keepin’ the Obama election ball rollin’ along.

Keep the ball rollin’
Keep the ball rollin’
The name of the game is love…

What type of Facebook user are you?

There are two main types of Facebook users, as far as I’ve been able to figure. And with this being an election year and most of us unable to resist posting our political preferences on our Facebook pages, we’re going to reveal ourselves not as Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Greens, etc, but as either displayers or engagers.

Displayers are those people who love to show what they think or feel or believe, but don’t want to respond to any comments about their posting. Now some actually just really don’t want to get into it—they post what they find supporting or interesting or funny, and they don’t really care to discuss it.

But then you have the passive-aggressive displayers. They post the most partisan articles, slogans, photos, etc. and while they may respond to those who agree with them (kind of an online group hug), they rarely respond to those who disagree.

At the extreme end of the passive-aggressive displayer mode, you have those who actually delete any negative or less than positive comments under their politically charged posts, yet leave up all of the adulatory comments. So you have friends who may post pictures or stories from places like One Million Strong Against Mitt Romney in 2012 or Too Informed to Vote Republican and, if you’re conservative and write something to counter the post, even though you’re a “friend” and haven’t said anything “mean” or “derogatory,” down the rabbit hole your comment goes.

The other kind of Facebook user is the engager, someone who wants others to comment on his post and wants to respond back. I find this type of user much more interesting because you can have an actual debate or discussion with them. Others join in and sometimes you actually learn something.

But at the extreme end here is the belligerent engager, someone who posts the most partisan articles and slogans seemingly just to provoke a reaction he can then berate you about. Usually various forms of vulgar language are involved and it soon becomes obvious to all of his “friends” that this type of Facebook user is just trying to make himself feel bigger and better than he really is. And it quickly becomes boring as well–how many times can you respond to “You’re just a big, fat f**k” before you decide the “conversation” is over?

Who shares your values?

Protecting consciences, or what I found in my church bulletin today

From the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:

USCCB Nationwide Bulletin Insert June 2012
WHY CONSCIENCE IS IMPORTANT

During the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, Americans shone the light of the Gospel on a dark history of slavery, segregation, and racial bigotry. The civil rights movement was an essentially religious movement, a call to awaken consciences.

In his famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail” in 1963, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. boldly said, “The goal of America is freedom.” As a Christian pastor, he argued that to call America to the full measure of that freedom was the specific contribution Christians are obliged to make. He rooted his legal and constitutional arguments about justice in the long Christian tradition: “I would agree with Saint Augustine that ‘An unjust law is no law at all.’… A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law.”

Some unjust laws impose such injustices on individuals and organizations that disobeying the laws may be justified. Every effort must be made to repeal them. When fundamental human goods, such as the right of conscience, are at stake, we may need to witness to the truth by resisting the law and incurring its penalties.

The church does not ask for special treatment, simply the rights of religious freedom for all citizens. Rev. King also explained that the church is neither the master nor the servant of the state, but its conscience, guide, and critic.

Catholics and many other Americans have strongly criticized the recent Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate requiring almost all private health plans to cover contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs. For the first time in our history, the federal government will force religious institutions to fund and facilitate coverage of a drug or procedure contrary to their moral teaching, and purport to define which religious institutions are “religious enough” to merit an exemption. This is a matter of whether religious people and institutions may be forced by the government to provide such coverage even when it violates our consciences.

What we ask is nothing more than the right to follow our consciences as we live out our teaching. This right is not only about our ability to go to Mass on Sunday or pray the Rosary at home. It is about whether we can make our contribution to the common good of all Americans. Can we do the good works our faith calls us to do, without having to compromise that very same faith? Without religious liberty properly understood, all Americans suffer, deprived of the essential contribution in education, health care, feeding the hungry, civil rights, and social services that religious Americans make every day.

What is at stake is whether America will continue to have a free, creative, and robust civil society—or whether the state alone will determine who gets to contribute to the common good, and how they get to do it.

What can you do to ensure the protection of conscience rights?

  • The U.S. Bishops have called us to get informed, pray and advocate. To send your message to HHS and Congress telling them to uphold religious liberty and conscience rights, go to www.usccb.org/conscience today! Thank you for joining the effort to end this unprecedented government coercion.
  • The Bishops have called for a Fortnight for Freedom – June 21-July 4. Please go to www.fortnight4freedom.org for more information on this important time of prayer and action!

Susan B. Anthony List: Womanhood

From the Susan B. Anthony List:

George Zimmerman vs Elizabeth Warren

Too good not to steal (apparently this is somewhere on Facebook).

Marriage Protection Amendment controversy leads to vandalism

FOR Marriage signs defaced in Henderson County (NC)

Unfortunately, I saw this in California as well during the Prop 8 vote in 2008–today, as then, most of the signs defaced are those supporting traditional marriage. In California, when the people voted to uphold traditional marriage, there was additional vandalism and violence from those who supported same-sex marriage, even reports of people who donated to the Prop 8 campaign being fired because of that support.

From the Hendersonville Times-News:

Board of Elections Director Beverly Cunningham said vandalized signs have never been a problem since during her time at the helm of her office. Until this year, however, when a heated controversy over the definition of marriage has led to reports of slashed and stolen signs across the county.

Several Times-News callers and letter writers have reported signs being vandalized or stolen, both those supporting and opposing North Carolina Senate Bill 512, or Amendment One.

The bill, if passed by voters May 8 in the primary election, would amend the state Constitution to say that marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union valid or recognized in the state.

While she has not received any official written complaints, Cunningham said she has heard people talking about the vandalism….

The Henderson County Sheriff’s Office has received several calls concerning the destruction, vandalism and larceny of political signs, said Capt. Frank Stout.

“Most of these calls have been in reference to the vote for marriage amendment signs,” he said….

Read it all.

N.C.: Campbell University School of Law professors submit a white paper on the Marriage Amendment

On April 18, 2012, Lynn R. Buzzard, William A. Woodruff, and E. Gregory Wallace, professors at Campbell University School of Law, submitted a white paper to the North Carolina public. In “The Meaning and Potential Legal Effects of North Carolina’s Proposed Marriage Amendment,” the professors bring to light several factual inaccuracies that have been spread by those opposed to the Marriage Amendment (on the ballot this May 8).

Vote FOR Marriage NC presents a short outline summary of the facts presented by the white paper:

30-State Precedent:

  • Thirty states have passed similar amendments.
  • The intent of these amendments are clear: (1) to protect the definition of marriage as the union between one man and one woman, and (2) prohibits the legal validity of marriage-like imitations or substitutes.
  • There is no evidence that NC’s proposed Amendment is intended to go further than the marriage amendments in every other state.

UNC’s Maxine Eichner’s Doublespeak:

  • UNC professor Maxine Eichner’s flawed analysis does not give the term “union” its proper effect in limiting the Amendment’s reach.
  • In her 27-page report, she only devotes a single sentence to the meaning of the term “union.” She also fails to footnote this single sentence.
  • Idaho’s marriage amendment, which has the exact wording as the proposed North Carolina amendment—to date—has not reported a single appellate court decision clarifying the amendment’s meaning. “Professor Eichner concedes as much when she observes that ‘Idaho courts have yet to interpret that statute.’”

The Ohio Factor and Domestic Violence:

  • “There is a significant difference between Ohio and North Carolina, and it is a difference that favors domestic violence protections in North Carolina.”
  • Unlike Ohio, North Carolina domestic violence law outlines six possible identifiers of people who are in a “personal relationship,” only one of the six possibilities includes the presence of a “current or former spouse.”
  • “The Ohio Supreme Court overruled these decisions and held that the domestic violence protections do not violate Ohio’s marriage amendment.”

Partner Benefits:

  • The Marriage Protection Amendment is very clear that it would not affect private contracts.
  • “[I]f the proposed Amendment passes, same-sex partners still may be able to receive health insurance benefits.”
  • “The proposed Amendment also does not prevent private employers from extending health insurance benefits to domestic partners, no matter how those relationships are defined.”
  • “The amendment specifically provides that it ‘does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.”

The Nitty-Gritty:

  • “The proposed Amendment does not change the ‘best interests of the child’ standard that North Carolina courts use for determining custody and visitation.”
  • “The Amendment’s plain language…does not disapprove of cohabitation or make illegal non-marital relationships; rather it bars the state from creating or recognizing a legal status for unmarried couples that resembles marriage.”
  • The second sentence of the actual ballot language clearly states: “This section does not prohibit a private party from entering into contracts with another private party; nor does this section prohibit courts from adjudicating the rights of private parties pursuant to such contracts.”
  • This Amendment does not impact other couples or the benefits they receive.
  • It also does NOT impact domestic violence laws, interfere with existing child custody and visitation rights or invalidate trusts, wills, and end-of-life directives.
  • “Marriage provides women with protection against domestic violence and abandonment far better than any other human relationship or institution.”

N.C.: District attorneys rebut the Marriage Amendment opposition

From Vote FOR Marriage NC, district attorneys and law enforcement officials rebut allegations of domestic violence impact of the Marriage Amendment:

Today, a coalition of District Attorneys, legal professionals, and other law enforcement officials sharply rebutted claims that the pending constitutional amendment on marriage would strip citizens of domestic violence protections, as is being claimed in television ads being aired by amendment opponents. The officials say such allegations are utterly false.

I am concerned about the false and misleading claims that are being made by opponents of the Marriage Protection Amendment,” said Rockingham County District Attorney Phil Berger, Jr., Vice President of the North Carolina Conference of District Attorneys. “Citizens should have no concern that the marriage amendment will impact domestic violence prosecution, because it will not.”

Berger was joined at the press conference by Jeff Hunt, District Attorney from Prosecutorial District #29B (Henderson, Polk, and Transylvania Counties), Tom Keith, former District Attorney from Prosecutorial District #21 (Forsyth County), Raven Byrne, family law attorney in Wake County, and Paul Wright, former District and Superior Court Judge.  Additionally, a written statement was issued by over a dozen prosecutors and law enforcement officials that said, “The protections of North Carolina’s domestic violence statute (General Statutes 50B-1) do not depend on the marital status of the victim or her relationship to the abuser. The law very clearly provides identical protections to married spouses as they do to unmarried women or men who have shared a household with the abuser. We encourage citizens to read the easily understandable law for themselves.”

In addition to Berger, Hunt, Keith, Byrne, and Wright, signers of the statement from law enforcement officials included the following:

Locke Bell – District Attorney, Prosecutorial District #27A (Gaston County)
Wallace Bradsher – District Attorney, Prosecutorial District #09A (Caswell and Person Counties)
Garry Frank – District Attorney, Prosecutorial District #22B (Davidson and Davie Counties)
Jay Gaither – District Attorney, Prosecutorial District #25 (Burke, Caldwell and Catawba Counties)
Terry Johnson – Sheriff, Alamance County
John Snyder – Former District Attorney, Prosecutorial District #20B (Union County)
Jerry Wilson – District Attorney, Prosecutorial District #24 (Avery, Madison, Mitchell, Watauga, and Yancey Counties)
Carey Winders – Sheriff, Wayne County

“We are pleased that these leading prosecutors and law enforcement officials have stepped forward to make it clear that the Marriage Protection Amendment will have absolutely no impact on victims of domestic violence,” said Tami Fitzgerald, Chairwoman of the Vote FOR Marriage NC campaign. “But we are distressed by the wholly dishonest and false advertising campaign being waged by our opponents. There are 30 state constitutional amendments defining marriage in this country, and not one has resulted in domestic violence protections being denied to unmarried people. Our opponents have completely abandoned campaigning on the marriage issue because they know that an overwhelming majority of North Carolinians support marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Putting our existing definition of marriage into the state constitution is all the amendment does.”

Bishop Burbidge of Raleigh on the N.C. marriage protection amendment

From Catholic Voice NC, Bishop Michael Burbidge of the Diocese of Raleigh on the North Carolina Marriage Protection amendment:

Vote FOR Marriage #4 from Diocese of Charlotte on Vimeo.

Also check out the earlier videos from Bishop Burbidge and Bishop Peter Jugis of the Diocese of Charlotte.

VDH: It was the power, stupid!

Because Victor Davis Hanson is always a good read:

In my dumber days, between 2001-2008, I used to wonder why the Left relentlessly hammered the war on terror (e.g., renditions, tribunals, predators, preventative detention, Patriot Act, intercepts, wiretaps, Guantanamo Bay) when these measures had not only proven quite useful in preventing another 9/11-like attack, but had been sanctioned by both the Congress and the courts. In those ancient times, I was not as cynical as I am now. So I assumed that Harold Koh and MoveOn.org, though mistaken, were worried about civil liberties, or measures that they felt were both illegal and without utility.

But, of course, the Obama (who attacked each and every element of the war on terror as a legislator and senator) Left never had any principled objection at all. Instead, whatever Bush was for, they were in Pavlovian fashion against. I can say that without a charge of cynicism, because after January 2009, Obama embraced or expanded every Bush-Cheney protocol that he inherited. In response, the anti-war Left simply kept silent, or indeed vanished, or went to work extending the anti-terrorism agenda. Guantanamo Bay, in other words, was a national sin until the mid-morning of January 20, 2009….

What is going on? Two things, really. One, the media believes that the noble ends justify the tawdry means. So if it is a choice between emphasizing the latest Obama embarrassment by digging into the scary Fast and Furious, the “millions of green jobs” Solyndra insider giveaways, the Secret Service decadence, the GSA buffoonery, and the work while getting food stamps con in Washington OR endangering Obamacare and by extension “the children,” or the war to eliminate autism, or the right to breath clean air–well, why would one ever wish to derail all that by weakening a landmark progressive and his enlightened agenda?

Or for you more cynical readers, why would you wish to enervate the present comfortable culture in Washington in which the press and politics are at last one? Or why undermine the first African-American president, who is a constant reminder of our progressive advancement? Or why weaken our only chance some day to have open borders or gay marriage?

Two, the Left has always operated on the theory of medieval penance. We surely must assume that Warren Buffett has never had problems with the ethics of Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. or had a company he controls sued by the IRS for back taxes. Why? Because he has confessed his sins, and accepted the faith and paid his tithe to the Church. Ditto a Bill Gates or a rich celebrity like Sean Penn or Oprah. In the relativism of the left, if the one-percenters will simply confess that their class is greedy and needs to pay their fair share—even if they are entirely cynical in the manner of GE’s Jeffrey Immelt and penance is written off as the cost of doing business—then they become exempt from the wages of them/us warfare and the “you want to kill the children” rhetoric.

There is no difference in the way the Koch brothers or Exxon run their empires and the way that  GM, GE, Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, and Google do. But the former are enemies of the people, while the latter are protectors who have have confessed to their bishops and agreed to mouth doctrine and thereby obtained penance to make as much money as they want and to spend it as they damn well please. Suddenly in America after 2009 there are good and bad cable networks, good and bad celebrities, good and bad CEOs, good and bad sports teams (ask Lovie Smith), good and bad states, good and bad everything—not adjudicated on the actual basis of behavior, but rather on whether some are willing to go to reeducation camp, admit their errors, and join the effort to clean the air and feed the kids….

I have a confession to make that may upset readers. I was neutral in the Republican primaries, but especially interested in one fact: who would take off the gloves and run a “war room” campaign in the fashion of Bill Clinton in 1992 (as opposed to the McCain model of emulating Mike Dukakis in 1988)? Romney did it first and most effectively.

The result is that when we hear that Rush Limbaugh should be taken off the air for his profane misogyny, almost immediately now there are accounts of Bill Maher’s $1 million gift to Obama and his far greater and unapologetic slurs against women. When we hear all those creepy “concerns” about Romney’s great-grandfather as a polygamist in Mexico, suddenly we are reminded that Obama’s father in Kenya was, too. Putting a dog on the car roof is now not quite the same as eating a dog and then matter-of-fact reading one’s account of it on an audiotape. Trivial? Yes. Distractions from the current economic mess, and beneath us all? Perhaps. All Romney’s doing? Of course not.

But at least 2012 won’t be a default campaign. In other words, to quote Obama, Romney will get in “their faces” and “bring a gun to a knife fight.” McCain more graciously and nobly lost by putting all sorts of concerns off the table. I would expect that should Obama keep harping about Romney’s tax returns, Romney will demand Obama’s transcripts and medical records at last to be released. If Obama’s surrogates keep writing about Mormonism, we will learn of new disclosures about Trinity Church….

Read it all.

Cardinal Burke explains: Catholic employers cannot provide contraceptive coverage because they would be materially and formally cooperating with sin

From Renew America, on Thomas McKenna’s interview with Cardinal Raymond Burke on EWTN’s Catholic Action Insight:

Thomas McKenna: “It is beautiful to see how the faithful have rallied behind the Hierarchy….How does your Eminence comment on the union of solidarity of our bishops?”

Cardinal Burke: “Yes, I have received emails and other communications from lay faithful who say that they are supporting their bishops 100% and they have communicated to their bishops their gratitude and assured them that they want them to continue to be courageous and not to be deceived by any kind of false accommodations which in fact continue this same kind of agenda which sadly we have witnessed for too long in our country which is totally secular and therefore is anti-life and anti-family. I admire very much the courage of the bishops. At the same time I believe they would say it along with me that they are doing no more than their duty. A bishop has to protect his flock and when any individual or government attempts to force the flock to act against conscience in one of its most fundamental precepts then the bishops have to come to defend those who are entrusted to their pastoral care. So I am deeply grateful to all of the bishops who have spoken about this and who are encouraging the members of their flock to also speak up because our government needs to understand that what is being done with this mandate is contrary first of all to the fundamental human right, the right to the free exercise of one’s conscience and at the same time contrary to the very foundation of our nation.”

Thomas McKenna: “So a Catholic employer, really getting down to it, he does not, or she does not provide this because that way they would be, in a sense, cooperating with the sin…the sin of contraception or the sin of providing a contraceptive that would abort a child, is this correct?”

Cardinal Burke: “This is correct. It is not only a matter of what we call “material cooperation” in the sense that the employer by giving this insurance benefit is materially providing for the contraception but it is also “formal cooperation” because he is knowingly and deliberately doing this, making this available to people. There is no way to justify it. It is simply wrong.”…

Read it all, and check out the entire interview here.

USCCB: Our first, most cherished liberty

From the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:

…As Catholic bishops and American citizens, we address an urgent summons to our fellow Catholics and fellow Americans to be on guard, for religious liberty is under attack, both at home and abroad.

This has been noticed both near and far. Pope Benedict XVI recently spoke about his worry that religious liberty in the United States is being weakened. He called it the “most cherished of American freedoms”—and indeed it is. All the more reason to heed the warning of the Holy Father, a friend of America and an ally in the defense of freedom, in his recent address to American bishops…

Is our most cherished freedom truly under threat? Sadly, it is. This is not a theological or legal dispute without real world consequences. Consider the following:

  • HHS mandate for contraception, sterilization, and abortion-inducing drugs. The mandate of the Department of Health and Human Services has received wide attention and has been met with our vigorous and united opposition. In an unprecedented way, the federal government will both force religious institutions to facilitate and fund a product contrary to their own moral teaching and purport to define which religious institutions are “religious enough” to merit protection of their religious liberty. These features of the “preventive services” mandate amount to an unjust law. As Archbishop-designate William Lori of Baltimore, Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, testified to Congress: “This is not a matter of whether contraception may be prohibited by the government. This is not even a matter of whether contraception may be supported by the government. Instead, it is a matter of whether religious people and institutions may be forced by the government to provide coverage for contraception or sterilization, even if that violates their religious beliefs.”…
  • Christian students on campus. In its over-100-year history, the University of California Hastings College of Law has denied student organization status to only one group, the Christian Legal Society, because it required its leaders to be Christian and to abstain from sexual activity outside of marriage.
  • Catholic foster care and adoption services. Boston, San Francisco, the District of Columbia, and the state of Illinois have driven local Catholic Charities out of the business of providing adoption or foster care services—by revoking their licenses, by ending their government contracts, or both—because those Charities refused to place children with same-sex couples or unmarried opposite-sex couples who cohabit.
  • Discrimination against small church congregations. New York City enacted a rule that barred the Bronx Household of Faith and sixty other churches from renting public schools on weekends for worship services even though non-religious groups could rent the same schools for scores of other uses. While this would not frequently affect Catholic parishes, which generally own their own buildings, it would be devastating to many smaller congregations. It is a simple case of discrimination against religious believers.
  • Discrimination against Catholic humanitarian services. Notwithstanding years of excellent performance by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Migration and Refugee Services in administering contract services for victims of human trafficking, the federal government changed its contract specifications to require us to provide or refer for contraceptive and abortion services in violation of Catholic teaching. Religious institutions should not be disqualified from a government contract based on religious belief, and they do not somehow lose their religious identity or liberty upon entering such contracts. And yet a federal court in Massachusetts, turning religious liberty on its head, has since declared that such a disqualification is required by the First Amendment—that the government somehow violates religious liberty by allowing Catholic organizations to participate in contracts in a manner consistent with their beliefs on contraception and abortion….

What is at stake is whether America will continue to have a free, creative, and robust civil society—or whether the state alone will determine who gets to contribute to the common good, and how they get to do it….

This is not a Catholic issue. This is not a Jewish issue. This is not an Orthodox, Mormon, or Muslim issue. It is an American issue….

Read it all.

York: To Obama, legal precedents are all about politics

From Byron York at the Washington Examiner:

In 1996 Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act by huge bipartisan votes — 342 to 67 in the House and 85 to 14 in the Senate. President Bill Clinton signed the measure into law.

Now, the Obama administration says DOMA, which permits states to refuse to recognize gay marriages from other states and also creates a federal definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman, is unconstitutional. In Boston on Wednesday, Stuart Delery, an attorney for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, urged the First Circuit Court of Appeals to find DOMA violates the Constitution by discriminating against gays and lesbians. “I’m not here to defend [the law] on any standard,” Delery told the court.

What was striking about Delery’s request that a federal court strike down DOMA was that just a day or two before, President Obama railed at the very notion that a federal court would strike down any law passed by Congress….

If the president was so concerned about a court overturning a duly constituted law passed by a democratically elected Congress, why was he urging a small group of unelected judges to strike down DOMA, a measure that won passage by a far greater margin than Obamacare?

The answer is, of course, that the administration is making a political argument for its positions, not a legal one. And perhaps counterproductively, the president’s decision to bring up Obamacare’s history in Congress could end up reminding the public of the tangled circumstances of its passage. Even with a huge majority in the House, Democrats barely passed the bill in the face of bipartisan opposition. And in the Senate, Obamacare succeeded as the result of a set of freakish circumstances that allowed Democrats to pass an unpopular measure into law….

*sigh* It’s always the hypocrisy that gets me. Read it all.

N.C.: Marriage matters

From Vote FOR Marriage NC:

…What is at stake with the outcome of the vote on the Marriage Protection Amendment this May?

First, of course, is which of the two irreconcilable and conflicting definitions of marriage will be the only form of marriage legally recognized in North Carolina:

  • The amendment preserves North Carolina’s historic and traditional definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman – the same definition adopted by voters in every state to consider the question (30 of 30 states have voted to amend their state constitutions to define marriage in this way), adopted by a bi-partisan majority in Congress and signed into law by President Clinton, and adopted by virtually every society in every nation to ever live, from the ancients to current times.

Additionally, passage of the marriage amendment ensures that the people of North Carolina themselves, and not activist judges or politicians, decide how our state will define marriage in the future.

  • Without a marriage amendment in our constitution, activist judges can substitute their values for those of the people of North Carolina. This is exactly what happened in Iowa, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and California. Similarly, legislators can redefine marriage without the permission of the people, as was done in New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire. The marriage amendment ensures that if activists want to redefine marriage in the future, they must receive the approval of voters to do so.

Marriage as the union of one man and one woman is in the public good. It serves the interests of men and women, of children, and of society itself. The marriage amendment on the May 2012 ballot gives voters the opportunity to preserve this special and timeless institution.

Read it all. And note that John Burton, chairman of the California Democratic Party, has offered help for those opposed to this constitutional amendment, so there will be a push from those outside of the state to defeat this.