Thursday, October 14, 2004

Kerry on Abortion

Ok, Sen. Kerry did it again. He called the Catholic Church's teaching on abortion an "article of faith." Regardless of your position on abortion, it is important to note that abortion is not an "article of faith" to Catholics. And Senator John Kerry should know that, especially since this faith is apparently so important to him: "Now, with respect to religion, you know, as I said, I grew up a Catholic. I was an altar boy. I know that throughout my life, this has made a difference to me. ... Now, my faith affects everything that I do and choose." Everything?

Articles of faith is a term designating those teachings that are held to on grounds of faith. A Catholic accepts them out of belief. For example, that Christ is God is accepted through faith; it is not something that can be demonstrated or proved solely through the use of reason.

Abortion, on the other hand, is a moral teaching, not an "article of faith." Moral teachings are rooted in natural law (see paragraph 1954 ff. in link) and the mind's ability to reason to such conclusions. The intentional killing of an innocent human person is wrong. Catholics think so. They should, but not solely because they are Catholic. They should because they are humans, and the human's mind can and should reason to such moral conclusions.

Abortion is not a teaching we will come to solely through faith. In fact, Nat Hentoff is one prominent atheist, liberal writer who agrees that abortion is wrong. No faith guiding him to do so. Just the penetrating analysis of reason as it probes what it means to be human all the while considering the findings of science. Real rational, human grit.

Faith may help someone come to moral conclusions. However, a Catholic's faith is not what makes abortion wrong. The morality of abortion is arrived at independent of one's faith. At least it can be. This is one quality the Catholic Church has time and again stressed. Moral teachings are for all human persons. This is because they are rooted in what all human persons have and can use: their nature upon which reason reflects and arrives at judgments. This is not just for believers. It is for all members of the human family. Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, pagans, non-believers, agnostics, and even atheists. They all are called to a morality rooted in their own nature, their own being, not one rooted in aspects of faith which many people do not accept. Thus, we are talking about teachings that are moral teachings and not articles of faith.

In addition, Kerry also said, "There's a great passage of the Bible that says, 'What does it mean, my brother, to say you have faith, if there are no deeds; faith without works is dead.' And I think that everything you do in public life has to be guided by your faith, affected by your faith, but without transferring it in any official way to other people. That's why I fight against poverty, that's why I fight to clean up the environment and protect this Earth. That's why I fight for equality and justice. All of those things come out of that fundamental teaching and belief of faith." How is one to make sense of this? Everything you do in public life has to be guided by your faith...but without transferring it in any official way to other people. That's why I fight ... That why I fight for equality and justice. Ok, now he fights for equality and justice because of his faith, but he does so without transferring any of his faith or its moral implications to other people? Huh? Isn't equality, isn't justice precisely the moral implication of his faith that he says he will not transfer to other people? Fallacious or fantasy? Or both?

How do you arrive at any justice if no other people are affected? Justice implies others. What are you fighting for if you do not want any other people to be affected by your cause? You cannot have it both ways, Senator Kerry. You either do let your faith influence your public acts or you don't. Attempting to convince the American public of both sides only is an insult to the people you seek to lead. By the way, how would you fight segregation laws without putting your "beliefs" upon others, especially since you link faith and belief with moral convictions? Why have laws at all if we are not to transfer any of our "beliefs" in any official ways to other people?

Perhaps this is just the incoherency his critics charge him with. Or perhaps he is trying to have it both ways, kind of like he has with Iraq, with the Kyoto Treaty, with middle-class tax cuts, and on and on and on.

Agree with the teaching that abortion is wrong or not, but at least get it straight, Sen. Kerry: abortion is as much an article of faith as rape, murder, and stealing are. They are all wrong, not because one believes God became man and died for you but because our nature is such that each and every human has certain natural rights no one may intentionally do violence to or infringe upon. No one. Not even a Senator who employs his faith selectively in acts of political opportunism.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Presidential Debate

The debates just finished. I know which candidate I am voting for. I knew already, though. Do you know yet? I think many people are looking for their candidate to say what they want them to say. If it is done, then I think most people think their candidate won. Just a thought.

Style. What effect does style or delivery have? If a candidate is really good at speaking and rhetoric, then what significance does the content have? How important are the debates, especially considering that the candidates cannot use notes (for statistics and to back up their arguments)?

I do not think either candidate did poorly. That does not mean, though, that both said what is best for our country. Different visions. Different priorities. Do they match with what you value? Is there any truth to the claim that Kerry's statements prevent most folks from deciphering what he really believes? Is he coherent?

Our safety is of top concern. Which candidate is going to do what is best for our country's safety and security? That does not mean just responding to attacks once they happen. That does not mean merely defending against further attacks. That should mean finding those who are a threat to us and taking care of business. I would rather have the fight over there than here.

However, as I was listening to the debate, I had some thoughts on the significance of debates to how we will actually vote.

Would you change your mind about which candidate to vote for if he did not do as well in a debate? I would not. I already know what policies he would push and what vision would be driving his administration. A poor showing in a debate would bother me a bit, but the policies and vision are more important. What I am going to get in January and not how it is said in October is what I am most concered about.

President Bush had his "not-strong" moments in the first debate (at least with regard to efficiency at responding to the opponent). Sen. Kerry has made his mistakes, even contradicted himself in the debates. But to the supporter, these "mishaps" are explained away. Do they matter? Should they matter?

For the record, I think both candidates had their moments, though I think overall there was a clear winner: If you are a Kerry supporter, I would think your clear winner is Kerry; and if you are a Bush supporter, Bush was your clear winner. As a debate, it seems a tie, both did what they wanted to do (I think). As far as substance goes, it all depends on what policies and vision you want from a U.S. President for the next four years. For me, I heard what I wanted to hear. As Gov. Arnold said, "Four more years!" Let me know what you think. Comment below.

Economists Against Kerry

368 economists, including the winner of this year's Nobel Prize in Economics, have published a letter warning Americans about the dangers that Sen. Kerry's economic policies would have if elected president.

Here is an article about the letter. It is called 368 Economists Against Kerrynomics.

This comes just a week or so after another letter was published by a different group of economists (169 of them) who criticized President Bush's economic policies. Who's throwing the spin?

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Kerry and the First Debate

Most said Sen. Kerry won the first debate. Here is Dennis Prager's take on how the senator did it: How Kerry Won.

Terrorists in Iraq?

In his latest essay, Dennis Prager poses an intriguing question, What would Zarqawi be doing if he weren't in Iraq?

Pre-emptive War

Should we conduct pre-emptive war? Can it be justified? Those against the war, can you think of a scenario where a pre-emptive strike is a possibility, where it is a morally permissible option in going to war or is all "pre-emptive" war unjustified because we have not yet been actually or directly attacked? Or some other reason?

Let's also keep in mind Sen. Kerry's words.

He no longer believes Iraq was a sufficient threat to go to war. Though he did not think that last year:

"Without question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime. He presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation ... And now he is miscalculating America's response to his continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction. So the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real ..."Jan. 23, 2003 in a speech at Georgetown University

It seems that he was arguing against the attempts of the French and the Russians to soften a UN Security Council resolution directed against Iraq.

Sounds familiar. Hmmm.

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Truth and Politics

"... if there is no ultimate truth to guide and direct political activity, then ideas and convictions can easily be manipulated for reasons of power. As history demonstrates, a democracy without values easily turns into open or thinly disguised totalitarianism." -JPII