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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Ax Gets Laid

This is easily the worst set of "scientific" reasoning I've seen in the last year.

First, we are told, based on the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health that virginity pledges don't work. Two groups of teens matched for religious views were divided into two groups - pledge-takers and non-pledge-takers. They were checked five years later to see how much effect the pledge had.
Both groups lost their virginity at an average age of 21, had about three lifetime partners, and had similar rates of STDs. "And the majority were having premarital sex, over 50 percent," says Rosenbaum. Overall, roughly 75 percent of pledgers and non-pledgers were sexually active, and about one in five was married.
In short, virginity pledges - the teen sex version of the altar call conversion - don't seem to work. For a Catholic, this should not be a surprise. Why should such a pledge work?

After all, altar calls don't work.

We've known for decades that the Protestant altar call, a once-saved, always-saved, spur-of-the-moment decision to give your life to Christ, doesn't stand the test of time. Ecclesial communities, fundamentalist and/or evangelical Christian groups who depend on them to run up membership always find that they have "converted" thousands of people in the course of a year, but none of them actually stick. The number of regular attendees simply doesn't increase.

So, the belief that a one-time virginity pledge is going to make a huge difference is really based on a flawed Protestant understanding of the human person.

But the "scientists" who ran the study had larger ideological axes to grind. The purpose of the study was to promote contraception, and darned if they didn't find out that pledge-takers were less likely to use contraception. Here's their worry:
Rosenbaum is concerned that abstinence-only sex education programs that promote virginity pledges may also promote a negative view of condoms and birth control. The result may be teens and young adults who are less likely than their peers to protect themselves from sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancies.
Ok, I don't get it. The teens in question apparently didn't remember that they took a pledge, or didn't put much weight on that pledge later in life, according to the article.

Yet the training which caused them to take the pledge lightly, even though the pledge was very heavily emphasized, caused them to disregard contraceptive use?

How does that work?

Did the teens disregard the pledge because it WAS heavily promoted, but they disregarded birth control because it WAS NOT heavily promoted? They paid attention to the negative birth control part of the lesson, but dozed during the positive virginity pledge part? Every day?

Isn't it a lot more likely that these kids had a pretty negative view of contraception even before the training, which is why they took the pledge? Isn't it possible they saw what contraception was doing to the marriages their own parents were involved in and didn't really like the results?

But, no, we aren't allowed to walk down that road. It must have been the TRAINING that created such negative attitudes. Kids don't know nothin' unless we teach them:
"Studies find that kids in abstinence-only programs have negative, biased views about whether condoms work," she says. Since such programs promote abstinence only they tend to give only the disadvantages of birth control, she says. Teens learn condoms don't protect you completely from human papillomavirus (HPV) and herpes, which is true, but they may not realize that they protect against all the "fluid-based STDs," she says. "People end up thinking you may as well not bother using birth control or condoms."
Well, yeah. And they would have good reason to think that using birth control or condoms is not worth the bother. Here's the kicker, hidden in the last sentence, fourth paragraph from the bottom:
The new study does not suggest that virginity pledges are harmful, says Andrew Goldstein, M.D., an obstetrician and gynecologist at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, because they were not associated with an increase in STDs or unplanned pregnancies.
So, if the young people who were NOT using contraception had the same rate of STDs and unplanned pregnancies as the young people who WERE using contraception, what does that say about contraception?

Wouldn't it be safe to conclude that contraceptives are as useless as virginity pledges?

Not if you have an ax, I suppose.

Here's a story about a researcher who looked at the VERY SAME DATA and came to dramatically different conclusions...

Update Two:
Another interesting take on the study from the Wall Street Journal (hat tip to Jordanes). It includes this observation:
Most parents appreciate that a pledge of virginity -- a one-time event that might be made at an emotional moment in a teen's life -- is not some talisman that will magically shield their sons and daughters from the strong and normal desires that grow as they discover their sexuality.
It also points out a radically important aspect of the study that I failed to notice: since the two cohorts being studied were matched for religious and conservative views, a large chunk of the teen population available to the study was left out of the analysis. To be precise, the kind of activity engaged in by non-religious, non-conservative teens was ignored.

When EITHER of the two study cohorts are compared to the general teen population, we find that BOTH conservative, religious cohorts acted more responsibly towards their own sexuality than did the non-religious, non-conservative teens who were left out by the researchers.

So, my original point holds: the virginity pledge is almost identical to an altar call.

But what no one noticed - except, apparently, for me - was that contraceptive use has ZERO effect on either pregnancy rates or STD rates.

Contraceptives are as useless as the virginity pledge.

Your live your worldview.

Seen in this light, condoms are really just the secular form of the altar call - it's a one-time decision that doesn't affect outcome.

A Question on Civil Rights

Question: What is a good response to someone who says, you are violating my civil rights? (on the marriage issue)
I know Catholics view it as a Holy Sacrament. But what do you say when you are talking to someone who is not Catholic, or not religious?

Answer: The person who makes this assertion is playing you for a fool.

A civil right is a right or power which can be exercised under civil law, a right or rights belonging to a person by reason of citizenship.

If there is a God, then civil rights flow from the fact that the person is made in the image and likeness of God. That is, civil law is required to recognize the divine origin of the person. Refusal to do so is a violation of the person by the civil law, because the civil law is refusing to recognize the nature of both God and man.

In this scheme of things, which you and I accept, the divine law exists first, civil law imitates the divine law, and our rights are reflections of the divine law.

BUT, if there is no God, then civil rights flow from whatever society deems is right. There is no divine law, so civil rights are whatever the strongest group of people say they are.

According to this scheme of things, since California has said marriage is between one man and one woman, the person who tries to impose a different (homosexual) definition on the people of California is violating the civil rights of everyone in California.

The Trick: You and I understand the connection between civil law and divine law because we believe in God - we insist that civil law reflect divine law. But the people who are demanding the right to marry their horse DO NOT believe in God. What they are doing is using a phrase, "civil rights" and implying that we should grant them something that is antithetical to what civil rights are.

Everyone who is of appropriate age and sound in mind has the right to enter into marriage with a member of the opposite sex.

No one has a right to contract marriage with an animal, a corpse, an underage person, a person of the same sex or an inanimate object.

Thus, it is absurd for someone to claim that we are violating their civil rights when we forbid them from marrying and/or consummating marriage with a child, a corpse, an animal, an inanimate object or a member of the same sex. No one has a divine right to do these things, so no one can have a civil right to do these things.

And if they don't believe in God, then they have no reason to complain either, since the law is whatever the majority says it is. In this scheme, human beings have no rights simply because they are human beings - they only have rights if they can wrest those rights away and only for so long as they can keep them wrested away.

No matter how they structure the argument, they cannot claim that anyone is violating their civil rights. The only persons who can make this claim are the atheists in Massachusetts, where homosexual marriage is legal. They can accurately claim that anyone who tries to change the current law there is trying to violate their civil rights.

Yes, that's true.
But that doesn't mean it's a bad thing.

After all, the homosexual atheists who got the law passed violated all of OUR civil rights when they militated for their point of view. Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

They had no compunctions about violating civil rights, so according to their lights, they would be hypocrites to chastise us for doing the same.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Obama Supporters Vow Vengeance on Israel

Barack Obama supporters have been raining rockets down on Israel for several days. Showing their usual incompetence, they caused quite a bit of damage to property, but created only a few casualties, mostly injuring their own supporters.

When Israel retaliated to the Gaza Strip's de facto declaration of war by destroying the bases from which Obama's supporters operated, the Obama-ites vowed to unleash hell upon Israel.

During the run up to the election, Mr. Obama sought the support of America's Jewish population by strenuously condeming Hamas, going so far as to fire an advisor who was caught meeting with them, although he did keep money they donated to his campaign.

However, the summary of reaction from Reuters demonstrates that he has maintained a studious silence on the most recent violence. The election is over, after all.

The former senator from Illinios is well-known for taking private stands that differ from public pronouncements, as his discussion with Canada about NAFTA demonstrated.

But since he is the messiah, Americans can be sure that this will all blow over soon.
Possibly into millions of small, radioactive shards that used to be Israel's Jewish and Christian citizens.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Ice Cube Children

In the interests of full disclosure, I should mention that back in the summer of fall of 2006, I got an article published in National Bioethical Quarterly (or whatever the heck the name is), the journal of the National Catholic Bioethics Center. In it, I argued in favor of embryo adoption.

What is embryo adoption?
In vitro fertilization techniques tend to produce a lot more embryos than can be used. The "extra" children are placed in nitrogen freezers, often-times abandoned or forgotten. The question is, can those children be adopted by Christian couples, placed in the womb and rescued from the freezer?

The Vatican has just issued a new document, Dignatas Personae, answers that question, along with many others.

The document bans the practice of embryo adoption.
I was really hoping for a different ruling, but there it is.
I was wrong.

Now, that having been said, the document DOES distinguish between using embryos to "treat infertility" and the adoption of embryos (DP #19).

The first, using the abandoned children to treat infertility, is clearly banned outright, because it uses "the same reasons" that cause heterologous procreation and surrogate motherhood to be banned.

The adoption of embryos is not treated nearly as harshly. First, the document takes time to praise the intentions - something infertility treatment doesn't get. In fact, none of the other banned technologies in the document get that kind of praise. So the intentions are recognized as different and praiseworthy, which is rather an important distinction.

Then the document takes pains to point out that the problems involved in embryo adoption are not "the same reasons" but instead are "problems not dissimilar to those mentioned above." The fact that the document took the trouble to distinguish one from the other indicates nuance on Rome's part. It holds out room for further nuance at some later date - a bit of wiggle room not afforded any of the other banned technologies listed in the document.

However, even though this nuance is present, it is equally clear that embryo adoption is currently banned by this document, if for no other reason than this: the little bit of wiggle room provided is severely proscribed by the closing blanket phrase, "[this] represent[s] a situation of injustice which in fact cannot be resolved."

That's kind of plain language. :/

So I would very much disagree with the reaction of Father Thomas Williams LC that in "no way can it be read as a definitive negative judgment."

That is just stupid.

Fr. Williams goes on to say, "if a couple came to him seeking advice about embryo adoption, "I would say that while the document expresses strong reservations, there are also a number of very faithful, orthodox moral theologians who don't have a problem with it. Lacking a more definitive statement, it could be acceptable."

Again, that is willful stupidity.
I have to say it is stupid, because the alternative is to call Father Williams a liar.

Clearly, the document has given a negative judgment on embryo adoption.

Clearly, no one may counsel someone to use embryo adoption, pending further clarification from Rome, which won't be coming for at least a couple of decades.

Embryo adoption may not have the same absolute prohibition language associated with it that the other practices do, but the blanket conclusion is pretty darned clear.

True, Rome appears to have left herself some wiggle room in re embryo adoption, possibly on the outside chance a new technology is found that will permit these children to be rescued, but She also pretty clearly doesn't see anything likely to work sitting on the near horizon, as the blanket conclusion indicates.

I would LOVE to be able to say that embryo adoption is acceptable, since I have publicly already argued that way.

But there's no way I can point at this document and say that.
It just isn't there.

Rome left an escape hatch - in that sense, yeah, it's not definitive - but that escape hatch is currently and firmly closed.

How can I say this?

Because a very similar thing happened with the use of form criticism and historical-critical method to interpret the Scriptures.

Back in the 1893', Leo XIII issued Providentissimus Deus, an encyclical that categorically banned the use of methods of "higher criticism" because these depended solely on textual analysis of medieval copies of the ancient copies, which was essentially crap (cf. #17).

By the time of Divino Afflante Spiritus, the encyclical on Scripture given in 1943, that categorical ban went away because (a) textual analysis had gotten a lot better, no longer depending solely on the texts and (b) there were actually some really ancient texts, i.e., the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Nag Hammadi finds, etc. which provided something ancient enough to justify using textual analyses.

In short, the Church's teaching didn't change, the underlying technology, the discoveries and the substrate of human knowledge changed.

It is STILL forbidden to use historical critical method if that means using late 1800's techniques on medieval copies. And it will always be forbidden to use embryo adoption if we are using early 21st century knowledge and approach.

It is possible that a similar kind of development may one day be possible with the children trapped in the nitrogen freezers. Perhaps, for instance, some whiz-bang technology can one day be developed which reduces the death rates on thawing to near zero, for instance. If that were to happen, Rome might (or might not) take a different view of the matter.

But for right now, it ain't licit, and there ain't no way to slice that ice in order to pretend that it is.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

To the Manor Born

Is Barack Obama a natural born citizen?

Donofrio says no, as does Wrotnowski, and their argument is both quite clear and quite clearly supported by the legal history.

According to their argument, you are a citizen if any ONE of the following conditions pertain:
a) you were born of US parents or
b) you were born on US soil or
c) you were naturalized as a citizen.

However, none of these by themselves make you a "natural born citizen."

According to the definition of "natural born citizen" as understood by the Founding Fathers, as used in the Constitution and as understood by the framers of the 14th Amendment, you are a "natural born citizen" ONLY IF BOTH of the following conditions obtain:
(a) you were born of US parents AND
(b) you were born on US soil.

If either condition fails, they you are a citizen, but not a natural born citizen.

If this is so, how did George Washington or any of the other Founders win eligibility?

For the first several decades, US citizens were eligible for the Presidency only if they were residents of the United States for the 14 years preceding the ratification of the Constitution.

Since the Constitution was ratified on March 4, 1789, that meant you had to have resided in the United States. i.e., owed it your sole authority to the United States, from March 4, 1775 onwards. This was two months before the Second Continental Congress convened in May, 10 1775. It was the night General John Thomas emplaced the cannons from Fort Ticonderoga on Dorchester Heights, the hills overlooking South Boston. This maneuver forced the British to evacuate their positions two weeks later; an event still celebrated as Evacuation Day.

In short, you had to have been there at the beginning of the Revolution.

This is rather like the rule for holding the office of Apostle - only those who had "accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went among us, beginning from the baptism of John..." were eligible for that office. Even today, bishops are considered apostolic successors holding apostolic authority, but are not considered apostles themselves, since they do not fulfill all the conditions.

So, while senators and congressmen can be nothing more than citizens, the line of succession which is the Presidency must have an unbroken connection to the land both through location of birth and fealty of blood. The President's parents can be naturalized citizens, but the President himself (or herself) must be part of the unbroken line.

Given the strong Biblical background of the Constitutional Framers, and the legal documentation brought forward in both Donofrio's post and the comments subsequent to the post, I find the case quite compelling.

Which would mean that neither Barack Obama nor John McCain are eligible for the Presidency.

And, assuming the Supreme Court is willing to follow precedent instead of popular opinion, it also means we get Nancy Pelosi as President pro tem.


Diane West has joined the fray on a separate issue, the question of Barack Hussein Obama's birth certificate. This question - which has essentially nothing to do with the Donofrio assertions - has been raised by Philip Berg, Dr. Alan Keyes and several others.

In short, BHO's eligibility is being questioned on two completely separate grounds:
1) Was he born in the United States? That is, did he fulfill the "soil" requirement? (Berg, Keyes, et. al.)
2) Assuming he was born in the US, but given his father's British nationality, can he be considered a "natural born citizen"? That is, did he fulfill the "blood" requirement? (Donofrio, Wrotnowski).

The second question has essentially no case law on the issue, because it only really becomes an issue when the office of President is at stake. It does, however, engage quite a lot of discussion among the Founding Fathers as they considered exactly how to phrase the qualifications for President.

Now one of Barack's own cabinet members is saying BHO is an immigrant.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Triple Crowned

Well, as you probably know by now, Barack Obama learned how to run a state-wide campaign at the knee of Governor Rod Blagojevich.

Emanuel told the New Yorker earlier this year that he and Obama "participated in a small group that met weekly when Rod was running for governor. We basically laid out the general election, Barack and I and these two."
He endorsed the Good Governor in 2002 and during the beginning of his presidential run in 2006.

Both men were, of course, excellent friends with convicted Syrian immigrant Tony Rezko.
Rezko raised or contributed over a quarter of a million dollars to Obama during eight years that Obama was running for or holding his state senate and U. S. Senate positions. Moreover, during his 2004 campaign for the U. S. Senate, Obama spoke with now convicted felon, and then Obama fundraiser and finance guy, Rezko, almost daily.
Illinois Congressman Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod, Forrest Claypool and Barack Obama got the Good Governor elected. Which is only fair, as Mayor Daley helped Rahm Emanuel get elected, and everyone knows the Good Governor was Daley's boy.

Barack grew up in the Daley machine.
The Feds are tearing down portions of the Daley machine.

Can Barack get all the necessary paper shredded before the Good Governor sings?
Can the Good Governor avoid a knife in the ribs long enough to finish his song?

This Advent, we watch the story of the three crowned men - the Good Governor, the Man with Sharp Elbows and the One - unfold before our eyes.

Stay tuned...

Here's a shocker.
Here's another.
Notice in this second link that it is actually a search of the news website: in the lower left-hand corner, there is a link to a story filed on Nov.5

Who will fill Obama's senate seat? : News : KHQA

Nov 5, 2008 ... Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich and Barack Obama will meet this afternoon in Chicago to discuss filling Obama's seat in the US Senate. - Similar pages

But when you click on the link, the story has mysteriously disappeared.
They scrubbed the site, but not the search engine.
How sad.

Barack Hussein Obama a LIAR?
Heaven forfend!

News organizations covering up his lies?

I blame George Bush.
And Karl Rove.
Heck, I blame Dick Cheney as well.
Why not?

Monday, December 08, 2008

Two Must-Read Books

How did an Austrian become Chancellor of Germany?
How did Barack Obama get elected President of the United States?

We haven't heard the last of the controversy.

Two must read books for the upcoming years:

William Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich
Albert Speer, Inside the Third Reich

And don't forget Milton Mayer's They Thought They Were Free.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Electoral College?

News From the Supreme Court on the Obama lawsuit by Donofrio (Berg's lawsuit is NOT in front of SCOTUS on Dec. 5):

"Today I spoke with Patricia McCabe Estrada, Deputy Director of Public Information at the United States Supreme Court. She informed me that Mr. Donofrio’s application was first referred to the full Court by Justice Clarence Thomas on November 19, 2008. After that referral took place the full Court, and not Justice Thomas alone, distributed the application for an emergency stay for Conference of December 5, 2008.

Let me reiterate the main point: DONOFRIO V. WELLS was distributed for conference of December 5, 2008 by the full Court after a prior referral of the application by Justice Thomas."

Apparently, the nine justices of the Supreme Court are taking this very seriously. And, as Patrick points out in the comments on the previous Obama post, the clerks are taking it seriously too. It is indeed the case that Donofrio's supporting documentation was sent to an anthrax facility for a nine-day quarantine, possibly making the material unavailable for SCOTUS review. When this was discovered, copies of the original documents were hand-delivered to SCOTUS the next day by the aggrieved parties in order to circumvent a new anthrax charge.

People are playing every trick in the book to stop a "frivolous" lawsuit?

BTW, if Donofrio's lawsuit goes forward successfully, it's quite possible both Obama and McCain will be ruled ineligible, which would make Speaker Pelosi our next POTUS, at least until new elections could be held.

Here is an excellent post discussing the difference between "citizen", "naturalized citizen" and "natural born citizen." Several of the comments are worthy of perusal as well.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Monday, December 01, 2008

Nothing To Fear

Well, our expert constitutional law professor has already guaranteed that he will violate the Constitution within hours of his swearing in (assuming he gets that far, what with all the lawsuits questioning his immigration status).

Hillary Clinton is supposed to be his Secretary of State.
If she is sworn in to serve in that capacity, it will violate the Constitution.

But not to worry.
Barry will have 20,000 troops on the ground by 2011 to help him keep the peace in the US of A.

Yep, things are going swimmingly, no question of it.


Remember when Barack complained about oil executives flying private jets to Senate hearings?
He said they kind of had a tin ear.
Of course, he's a man of the people, and he would never make an ostentatious show of his wealth, especially given that quite a bit of it was stolen.

But robber barons never looked so good!

Update II
The dead actually get to vote for President this year!
Isn't democracy wonderful!