Tuesday, March 23, 2010

What is the Stupak Hole? What is an LWG?

If you could translate “Dancing with the Stars” to Congress, then I would translate Representative Bart Stupak to Emmitt Smith.

I don’t agree with the Congressman’s position on Abortion. I have real respect for the fact that he stood up, and more importantly, the way he stood up.

Ben Nelson could be bought off with a fistful of dollars, so could Mary Landrieu. Not Representative Stupak; he gets there is a difference between the value of something and the price of it. Throwing money at a problem without values does nothing.

When Representative Stupak formed his coalition of the hidden – it was brilliant. Whether or not he was alone or had 30 or 10 or 5 members with him, he successfully created an environment where he could negotiate. He did hold up healthcare for a period of time at least attempting to enact language more in line with what he, and his district is about. So what?

He got an executive order stating the Hyde Amendment would remain the law of the land with respect to the Healthcare Overhaul.

Watching Rachel Maddow, she stated that Representative Stupak got nothing. I disagree.

At the end of the day, he turned out to be the ultimate ballroom dancer and team player. We got healthcare in part, because of this Tango.

First, he dispelled the Abortion Issue as one to eliminate the Healthcare Reform. The gossip mills run by the GOP were using the Abortion Issue as a standard wedge issue. Representative Stupak’s stand put that to rest in a big way. As the GOP called him a baby-killer, that is a warped bonus that further underlines what Representative Stupak did. The GOP takes another hit to their credibility.

Second, he created the Stupak Hole. This hole is the size of a Mack Truck in the GOP wall. How much money has the GOP raised over the last 3 decades to fight their war against the Pro-Choice Movement? How many really good public servants were cast out of the public discourse because they failed of the litmus test of Pro-Life? (Hey, DNC do you think contacting some of these folks to act as spokespeople would be helpful in future elections?)

Keep in mind that when the GOP did get full power; The House, The Senate, The White House, The Supreme Court – they did not overturn Roe. As it turns out, this was the ultimate cynical power grab.
Representative Stupak did more for the Pro-Life movement in 3 months than the GOP did in 2 decades.

The question is how does the Democratic establishment start moving people thru the Stupak Hole?

Third, he is shining a light on an anomaly in the Democratic Party. Representative Stupak is a Legislator With Guts (LWG). No Catholic Democratic Politician can be defined any other way. (There are other definitions of LWG not related to being Catholic…)

If you are a Pro-Life Candidate – you will need to stand up to those in the party on your left who demand total allegiance to Roe. If you are a Pro-Choice Candidate – you need to stand up against your Church. You will need to stand tall as the pulpit chastises and the cars are leafleted. You can’t be thrown off when you are called “Baby Killer”.

An LWG is a politician with a hard three-way choice, leave group that has an internal core value to them (like the Church), leave the party, or have the stones to stand in both areas. Representative Stupak joins, in my mind, others like Senator Bob Casey who also walks this path. JFK was a LWG when he went to Texas in 1960 and stated he was not taking orders from Rome. The more LWG that the Democrats get, the easier it will be to tear down the GOP Wall. We are now talking about developing politicians with credibility.

I hope his district in Michigan will see the service Representative Stupak has done for the country and allow him to waltz in November.

Recovering Catholic


My name is Joe.

I am a recovering Catholic.

Sometimes I post this online and I get a response along the lines of, "How can you question the one true church like this?"

Luke 17:2 (since we are talking about Catholicism the quotes are from http://www.catholic.org/bible )

It would be better for such a person to be thrown into the sea with a millstone round the neck than to be the downfall of a single one of these little ones.

Do you believe in the Trinity? Do you believe in the Gospels? If you do, then this is the Word of God. Direct. No question. No wiggle room. As powerful as the Golden Rule and as humble as the Our Father.

I am in no way advocating dropping pedophiles with a modified collar from the Ben Franklin Bridge. (Although images circulated on YouTube could go viral real fast.) But after reading and seeing the scandals involving the Church covering up this behavior, should there be more people fitted for millstones?

What was an American issue jumped the pond to Ireland and is now exploding in the Pope's Bavarian Archdiocese. Papal infallibility, I think not. This stuff has gone on for DECADES. There is a complete disconnect from reality here.

What needs to be done?

I don't have a clue how to cure those hurt with the weapon of a collar and cassock. The emotional distress of being duped by those who asked for, no demanded, trust creates fissures in the psyche that can be studied for lifetimes. Not just in the first victim - but the ripple effect of the families can be just as devastating.

In our society, we seem to think that throwing money at a problem is a solution that will do something. Those offended can sue, but then we begin to see the even uglier dance of the Church defending itself in court. The pretzel logic that will somehow excuse those who put themselves on a pedestal from being brought down - does nothing. It is in fact even more offensive to see the guilty circle the wagons and hunker down into a siege mentality.

Is God already punishing the Church for these indiscretions? How many vocations are being sought? When you drive by sprawling St. Charles Borromeo Seminary on the border of Philadelphia you realize this institution houses a handful of men. (As alterboys, we were given the chef's tour of the place and told that its underground hallways were once the longest in the world prior to the building of the Pentagon.)

The Church, if it wants to start following the spirit of the Gospels, needs to apologize publically and start selling its possessions. What good is this prime real estate on the Main Line doing those who have been wronged? What about the Vatican Museum with its gold chalices and world class art and artifacts. If they cannot bring themselves to sell the stuff in the family attic, rent it to people for life. If Christianity is about spirituality, then we don't need the material goods. This is about the credibility.

A larger set of questions begin to assert themselves.

Those who stay in the Church will still need ministering by the good priests who remain. Since vocations have dropped thru the floor, who will replace the retiring priests? Do we import? From where? This pedophile issue is global.

St Paul writes to Titus about being an elder - Titus 1:5-8

The reason I left you behind in Crete was for you to organize everything that still had to be done and appoint elders in every town, in the way that I told you, that is, each of them must be a man of irreproachable character, husband of one wife, and his children must be believers and not liable to be charged with disorderly conduct or insubordination. The presiding elder has to be irreproachable since he is God's representative: never arrogant or hot-tempered, nor a heavy drinker or violent, nor avaricious; but hospitable and a lover of goodness; sensible, upright, devout and self-controlled

Hmmm, St Paul is telling the early church to use family men as leaders. Maybe it is time to get back to our roots as Christians? Family men as priests, why not? Most Eastern Rite and Protestant Churches do it. We can talk about Peter's mother-in-law.

Hey, thinking of Peter's mother-in-law, do you think she would make a good priest? Maybe once we get some of these folks who are not based in reality out of positions of power in the Church, we can get some clear thinking people in to act as elders (bishops and cardinals).

This issue is first about the Church owning up to the damage done. How it handles this will give the Church the level of credibility it will live with for the next generations.

The Church can continue to be stubborn and admit nothing. It can live outside the Gospel Teaching and use the logic of the Pharisees to defend itself while injecting itself into the political discourse where ever it wants. It can use its might to slow down healthcare reform or push for its Pro-Life agenda. It will do so as a large political organization that is a courted political group.

I can continue to be a recovering Catholic.

March (of the Indentured) Madness

Got your pool filled out? Great.

I am sure you nailed every one of those picks. (I am so ticked at Obama for knocking out Temple in the first round -- I may join a Tea Party.)

Let's have another tournament -- a "What is the Price" Tournament (I think the Price is Right is taken). As you watch the games, try to have a little calculator going in your head. Every time you see a commercial on the screen, calculate how much the sponsor paid for that ad. Every time you see a kid or a mom or a dad in the crowd with a team t-shirt -- put a dollar figure on that. Sum up all the ads embedded in the floor or along the scorer's table. Look in the newspaper for ads with the basketball motif. Make note of everyplace a dollar can be mined while watching the game or even thinking about it.

It is a game within a game.

Now multiply that value across all the games being played this weekend. What kind of number are you getting? I would guess it is pretty big.

Now, take a look at the kids on the court. Calculate how much are they getting paid. Oh, wait a minute -- they get a free education, room and board!

Ok, we'll play that way.

Let's look at that kids' schedule for the last 6 months. He practiced for X number of hours. He had to sleep for Y number of hours. He had "make-himself-presentable" time (eating, hygienic, etc) of Z number of hours. What about the travel schedule (packing, getting to the bus / plane, actual transit time, the hotel, to and from the arena), we can make that T number of hours. P is the number of hours actually participating in a game (training room time, warm-ups, the game itself, the showers).

Now let's really put these kids thru the wringer -- how many hours are spent actually IN THE CLASSROOM, study time, prep time for class, tutoring, mentoring. (Notice, I did not put downtime in here for the kids to relax and just be late teenagers or people growing into their 20's.)

You want to put these kids in the classroom to compete with full-time or even part-time students?

You still want to call this exchange of an education for athletic performance a fair deal?

Wow !!!

Again, these kids are being paid to generate huge sums of cash with what -- with an education very few people would be able to absorb given the hoops (no pun intended) these kids are being put through.

Read through some of the student athlete rules, and ask if what the NCAA does is fair?

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan wants to penalize teams for not graduating 30% of their students. Has this guy thought through how the kid who is actually performing above the bar should be protected? I mean, that kid should not lose a year of eligibility because the program as a whole messed up. The whole thing is a cynical exercise.

I guess my point here to get a little intellectual honesty on the part of the NCAA, the Department of Education and those making obscene amounts of money.

If you give a kid a "scholarship" to play for a school, that school owes them whatever time it takes to complete the education. If you cannot do that, then just place the athletics under the marketing division of the college, it is a business after all, and cut the kid a check for the services rendered.

Like any business, you hire people to generate the bottom line for you. In this case it is national exposure. Recognition comes from a business investment of a coach, a few scholarships, and running a team. Much of this is on the backs of the kids. They should really pay the help, it just looks bad.

Quick quiz: Have you ever heard of Gonzaga? Moravian?

Can you name the 10 oldest schools in the country?