House Passes COVID Relief, Pro-Life Groups Warn it Funds Abortion

In his remarks on the House Floor on Friday evening, the co-chair of the House Pro-Life Caucus, Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., called the exclusion of pro-life language “a radical departure from all previous COVID-19 relief laws,” and one which “mandates taxpayer funding of abortion-on-demand.”

United States Capitol building
United States Capitol building (photo: Vlad G / Shutterstock)

CNANationFebruary 28, 2021

WASHINGTON — The House passed a massive COVID relief bill early on Saturday morning, without protections against abortion funding.

After debating the bill on Friday evening and voting on early Saturday morning, the House passed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan of 2021 by a largely party-line vote of 219 to 212. The bill funds vaccines, testing and tracing, and provides economic relief including stimulus checks to American families.

It does not, however, include prohibitions on funding of abortions, something that pro-life groups—including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)—have warned would increase abortion funding.

The Hyde Amendment, enacted into law each year as part of appropriations bills, prohibits funding of elective abortions. “Hyde” language was included in the COVID relief bill that passed Congress last year, the CARES Act, and the bill also included provisions blocking Planned Parenthood affiliates from accessing emergency loans. Planned Parenthood affiliates were still able to apply for, and receive, around $80 million in emergency loans from the CARES Act.

However, the current package includes neither of those pro-life protections. Pro-life groups have warned that global health funding, health insurance subsidies, and funding of the Title X program could go to elective abortions, abortion coverage, and pro-abortion groups.

In his remarks on the House Floor on Friday evening, the co-chair of the House Pro-Life Caucus, Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., called the exclusion of pro-life language “a radical departure from all previous COVID-19 relief laws,” and one which “mandates taxpayer funding of abortion-on-demand.”

On Friday, several members unsuccessfully tried to insert Hyde language through an amendment while the bill was considered by the Rules Committee. The amendment was cosponsored by 206 members. Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., and Jackie Walorski, R-Ind.

The amendment sought to prohibit funding of abortion coverage for unemployed persons through the COBRA program, as well as in tax credits for health premiums. It also sought to apply pro-life protections to funding of the Title X family planning program.  

Rodgers and other Republicans tried to insert pro-life amendments to the legislation as it was considered in various House committees, but the amendments were rejected. The measures included redirecting Title X funding to support child suicide prevention, as abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood are expected to once again be eligible for Title X grants during the Biden administration.

Two Democrats joined Republicans in voting against the bill—Rep. Kurt Schrader, D-Ore., and Rep. Jared Golden, D-Maine.

The American Rescue Plan also mandates a $15-per-hour minimum wage, although that provision is expected to be struck by the Senate Parliamentarian before the chamber considers the legislation.

March for Life president Jeanne Mancini stated on Friday that the bill includes “billions of dollars in subsidies for abortions, not only here in the U.S. but also abroad.”https://442b3e9fe6e1d3ddb726756b1cd33ae1.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

In his floor remarks, Smith noted that President Biden once supported pro-life protections against abortion funding.

“Mr. Biden once wrote constituents explaining that his support for laws against funding for abortion by saying it would ‘protect both the woman and her unborn child,’” Smith noted. 

“Unborn babies, Madame Speaker, need the President of the U.S. and members of Congress to be their friend and advocate, not their adversary,” Smith said.

Latest NewsCardinal Filoni: Iraqi Christians Have the Fundamental Human Right to Remain on Their Historic Lands

The current grand master of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre, who served as apostolic nuncio to Iraq during the 2003 American bombing of Baghdad, discusses the high stakes of the upcoming papal trip to this ancient locale of the faith.

Cardinal Fernando Filoni meets with Iraqi refugees, including Yazidi, in Iraqi Kurdistan, the Governorate of Dohuk.
Cardinal Fernando Filoni meets with Iraqi refugees, including Yazidi, in Iraqi Kurdistan, the Governorate of Dohuk. (photo: Courtesy of the secretary of Cardinal Filoni)

Solène TadiéInterviewsFebruary 28, 2021

His decision not to leave his nunciature during the 2003 Battle of Baghdad earned him the nickname of “Nuncio Courage” in the country. For Cardinal Fernando Filoni, however, remaining with his flock at the risk of his life was an intrinsic part of the mission that John Paul II entrusted to him two years earlier by appointing him apostolic nuncio to Iraq, an office which he held until 2006. 

This life-changing experience with suffering Christian people — which remains an inexhaustible source of inspiration in his current mission in the service of the Church in the Holy Land — also earned him the special trust of Pope Francis, who has invited him to take part in his March 5-8 apostolic trip to Iraq, as Cardinal Filoni disclosed last month in this interview with the Register. The Holy Father already sent him to Iraq twice as his special representative in 2014 and 2015, following the capture of the Plains of Nineveh by ISIS. 

Born in 1946 in Mandura, Italy, Cardinal Filoni has been grand master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem since December 2019. Before this, he served as prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples (2012-2019) and deputy for general affairs of the Secretariat of State (2007-2012). 

At the approach of this much-awaited papal trip, the Register sought his views on the opportunities and challenges awaiting the Holy Father in this land that saw the birth of some of the first Christian communities. 

You were apostolic nuncio to Iraq during the U.S. bombing in 2003. How did you experience this tragic moment in history, which contributed to the massive exodus of Christians in the country?

When I was appointed, we already knew that the situation in Iraq was very delicate. Because after the first Gulf War, the United Nations intervened in the country’s affairs in many ways, and they imposed very harsh sanctions. Pope John Paul II appointed me as apostolic nuncio to Iraq two years before the war burst out, and I accepted with amazement because I was not an expert of the Middle East at that time, although I followed closely the problems of the region, especially in Iran, where I had been already. The Pope sent me with the express mission of being “a messenger of peace and hope” for the Christian communities of this land. I have always carried these words in my heart, like a good viaticum.

There, I immediately found a very welcoming environment, also because, at that time, the nunciature was highly esteemed because my predecessor, Archbishop Marian Olés, also stayed during the first Gulf War, while everyone left. This earned him sympathy from the regime, as well. https://ffb638f8576908534178520281274fdc.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

At that time, the regime kept the reality of religious tensions under control, even though there were some already, especially with the Shiites in the south of the country. But in Baghdad, the situation was safe, and Christians were quite respected in the country. Freedom of worship was guaranteed, but one should not touch political issues. 

The bombing began on March 19, 2003, on the liturgical feast of St. Joseph. I thought that peace had been mortally wounded, but hope was still alive; so, by staying in Iraq with its people and sharing its anxieties, I could be a messenger of hope. 

Of course, there was a traumatic dimension, for the bombs and missiles could hit us at any moment and did great damage — some of them even fell near the nunciature. We had no shelters. But it enabled us to share the lives of poor people. One of the initiatives I promoted was that of saying: “No one should leave the country. We all have to stay here with our people and open our churches.” And so, all the churches stayed open, even at night, and people were coming with their mats that they would take back in the morning. We also made visits to all the areas that we knew were hit by bombings. 

But there was still the sadness of the — so many — deaths and destruction, and we could not hide behind the shadow of the so-called “preventive war,” nor even less behind the so-called “collaterality.” When you are under the bombs and you hear the missiles exploding, what sense do those expressions have? The consequences of that war have been immense; one of them was the accentuated exodus of many Christian families, but not only. Let’s not forget, along with the destruction, the countless dead and wounded, both from Iraq and the countries in conflict, including the U.S.https://ffb638f8576908534178520281274fdc.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

Your field experience can be precious to the Pope as he prepares for this long-awaited trip. Have you already had the opportunity to discuss that topic with him? 

Actually, the Holy Father has invited me to be part of his retinue, so I will go to Iraq with him. It is a gesture of benevolence and sensitivity on his part.

In the past, we have spoken several times about these issues because, in 2014, the Pope sent me there as his special representative during the famous sad exodus of Christians from the Plain of Nineveh. In addition to the various Christian communities, I also visited the Yazidi refugees and their spiritual home. I brought a substantial aid from the Holy Father for the refugees. And I also had a chance to meet with authorities in Kurdistan and in Baghdad.Latest NewsCardinal Filoni: Iraqi Christians Have the Fundamental Human Right to Remain on Their Historic Lands

Afterwards, I reported on this, and the Pope was well aware of this reality. I was asked to write a book, The Church in Iraq, translated in many languages, including Arabic. It is a very comprehensive volume, as I gave it a unitary dimension, starting from the beginning of evangelization, with St. Thomas, until our days.

What do you expect from this trip?

This trip is a desire that the Pope already expressed to me when I first returned from Iraq in 2014, and again at the end of my second trip there for Holy Week in 2015. This trip is not just about the Pope making a nice gesture — the whole Church is going with him to these lands. It is an ecclesial and a pastoral visit, in support to Christians and minorities, an incentive to strengthen dialogue between Christians and Muslims. And I would personally add that it is also an occasion to encourage dialogue between Muslims themselves.

How could the Pope’s visit encourage such an intra-Muslim ecumenism, that is, between Shiites and Sunnis?

Again, this is a personal point of view. Having lived for some years in Iran, Iraq and Jordan, I had the perception that many problems, even international issues, arise from the deep religious rift that exists in Islam. It has basically always been the case. This has given rise to countless wars and conflicts of a political-religious nature. 

In the Shiite world, the days of Ashura still bring many people to the streets, weeping and scourging themselves for the death of Ali and Hussein, of Muhammad’s family, in the defeat of the Shiite faction by the Umayyad Caliph (680 A.D.). If we do not overcome the concept of revenge, that of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, if we do not enter into a logic of dialogue, beyond opposition, then clashes and wars will continue. In the logic of peace, there are no boundaries. As Christians, we are in favor of dialogue; diversity should not lead to opposition. 

After the Pope signed the “Document on Human Fraternity” in Abu Dhabi, these contacts have evolved in so many ways and forms, and I think that this, too, can favor dialogue and mutual understanding, for the benefit of all.

Patriarch Sako has decided to reinforce the Christian presence and their sense of belonging to the country through the creation of new episcopal sees lately. However, it is not an easy task. There is a lot of talk about the need to help Christians stay on their lands, or to return for those who have fled. But what could be concrete solutions to achieve this in a country whose constitution is (since 2005) based on the Quran?

During my last two visits there, I heard strong words from local authorities — especially in the north, where there is the largest Christian community — who said that Christians had the native right to remain on their lands. So it is not simply a concession, nor a tolerance, but a native right. It is not a matter of vindication, but it is about saying: If we base coexistence on human rights, then we all have the same rights. https://ffb638f8576908534178520281274fdc.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html

The Middle East belongs to everyone because of its ancient culture and civilization. We are indebted to it. Also, from the Christian point of view, here took place Jesus’ life, that of the prophets, of the primitive Church that had great vitality for centuries. The Christian presence, even in its multiform expressions, is important. The logic of making these communities disappear is like making life disappear and preparing a desert, an impoverished environment. 

For millennia, the presence of so many religious, ethnic and cultural expressions has enriched this region. Of course, it is not like persecution never got the better of civil coexistence there in the past — far from it! But we ask ourselves: Must we continue with that logic? Have we learned nothing from history and from the suffering of millions of people? Is it still necessary to resort to the logic of oppression? Why should the riches of that region make envy, jealousy, oppression prevail instead of development, sharing and peaceful coexistence? 

In any case, everyone has the task of fostering the Christian presence in those lands, but it is especially up to the original Christians not to behave like people who chase after other myths and the so-called “well-being” and to have love and awareness of their role and mission. Certainly, the Christian presence is not favored if one imposes on everyone a vision of life and law, or constitutions based on Islamic principles or sharia. While this is understandable within Muslim communities, it cannot be for everyone. The common denominator is law that favors and respects human rights, without discrimination, as well as the development of a vision of peace. 

As for the episcopal sees, it must be said that in ancient times, there were many — from Mesopotamia they extended as far as China; what the Chaldean Synod has done is to restore some sees that in the past decades, for various reasons, had been merged, in order to help Christian communities to feel closer to their pastors.

How is your past experience with suffering Christian communities inspiring you in your current mission as cardinal grand master of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre? 

With the mission of taking care of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, I am returning to the Middle East in a way. The Holy Land has always been in the heart and mind of the Church. It belongs to us, as it belongs to the Jewish people and to the peoples who have always been there. There are anthropological, cultural, religious and political reasons for this. No one holds all of them. The Order of the Holy Sepulchre has the task, entrusted by the supreme pontiffs, especially since Pius IX, to help the land of Jesus, supporting the Christian presence and promoting the coexistence of all. Thus, for example, the schools we support or the social works are open to all: We live together; we learn together; we prepare for a future of respect, understanding and friendship. The order does this with the contribution of all its members, since ours is not simply an honorary order, but a contributory one. No other equestrian order — forgive me for being so bold — can “boast” of such a unique origin: the Holy Sepulchre; the place used as a deposition for a corpse, which became the furrow in which the fallen seed opened up to an “other” life, that of the Risen Jesus!

A little more than one year after taking office, what is your assessment about your mission? What dynamics would you like to develop in the coming years? 

The Order of the Holy Sepulchre is present almost everywhere, especially in the United States; it is very substantial. This is an important opportunity for us because the members of the order are always aware of this vocation to the mission, in the sense that they feel called to contribute to the good of the land of Jesus. l

Despite, or perhaps thanks to COVID-19, the order has not been limited to its own internal activities. I refer, for example, to the extraordinary and generous help given to families and to the Latin Patriarchate in the Holy Land; I refer to the request of so many who, in all parts of the world, ask to become part of our order. It is not only because of the good that can be done; people are also attracted by the fact that we care for the spiritual life of our members. The recent publication of a text of spirituality (E tutta la casa si riempì del profumo dell’unguento — “And the Whole House Was Filled With the Fragrance of Ointment”), already available in Italian and, in the next few days, also in English, French, Spanish, German and Portuguese, gives the dimension and makes the root of belonging or the desire to belong to it known. If I may, I would recommend this text to everyone because it is designed for the people of God: lay, clergy and religious. The statute, recently approved by the Pope, as well as the regulation of the order’s life, are part of the order’s commitment to renewal.

As for my assessment, it is better not to do one. Let us leave it to God; it is enough to be little workers in the vineyard of the Lord. This is a great grace. 

Solène Tadié

Solène Tadié Solène Tadié is the Europe Correspondent for the National Catholic Register. She is French-Swiss and grew up in Paris. After graduating from Roma III University with a degree in journalism, she began reporting on Rome and the Vatican for Aleteia. She joined L’Osservatore Romano in 2015, where she successively worked for the French section and the Cultural pages of the Italian daily newspaper. She has also collaborated with several French-speaking Catholic media organizations. Solène has a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas, and recently translated in French (for Editions Salvator) Defending the Free Market: The Moral Case for a Free Economy by the Acton Institute’s Fr. Robert Sirico.

Your “Morning Offering” (Re-blogged)

Morning Offering
FEBRUARY 28, 2021
“The fast of Lent has no advantage to us unless it brings about our spiritual renewal. It is necessary while fasting to change our whole life and practice virtue. Turning away from all wickedness means keeping our tongue in check, restraining our anger, avoiding all gossip, lying and swearing. To abstain from these things—herein lies the true value of the fast.”— St. John Chrysostom
  MEDITATION OF THE DAY
“Wait a little while, my soul, await the promise of God, and you will have the fullness of all that is good in heaven. If you yearn inordinately for the good things of this life, you will lose those which are heavenly and eternal. Use temporal things properly, but always desire what is eternal. Temporal things can never fully satisfy you, for you were not created to enjoy them alone . . . for your blessedness and happiness lie only in God, who has made all things from nothing.”— Thomas a’ Kempis, p. 133-34
AN EXCERPT FROM
Imitation of Christ

“Catholic Answers” (RE-blogged)

How does the Church celebrate the seasons in its liturgies?
We touched on the Church’s celebration of the seasons in its liturgies in previous answers, and we can expand on that in this answer. The primary means by which the Church commemorates a season in its liturgies is by the rubrics governing the liturgy.  

During the penitential seasons of Advent and Lent, the seasons are marked with changes in the colors of vestments that the celebrants wear, cloths that are used on the altar and in the sanctuary, and sacramentals used during the liturgy (such as the candles on the wreaths used during Advent). During Advent and Lent, the Gloria, a joyful prayer of veneration of the glory of God, isn’t sung or recited. This isn’t because joy or veneration of God’s glory is strictly disallowed, but rather in recognition of the penitential character of those seasons. We yearn in expectation for the return of the Gloria at Christmas and Easter just as we do for Christ’s birth and resurrection. 

The Church also notes the seasons in the prayers of the liturgy, prayers that ask God for perseverance during penitential seasons and give thanksgiving to God during the seasons of major feasts. The readings from Scripture are also geared to the seasons. During Advent, a time of anticipation of the Lord’s first and second comings, the readings are centered on anticipation of Christ’s birth and divine judgment. During the Easter season, the Church reads through the Acts of the Apostles, St. Luke’s account of the apostles’ first ventures in missionary work after the ascension of Christ and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. 

Sometimes, even the feast days of saints during the Church’s liturgical seasons can point to the larger theological import of the mystery of Christ. As we saw in answer 5, several saints whose feast days fall during Advent remind us of the overarching themes of the season. The same holds true for other liturgical seasons. Let’s look at Christmas as another example. 

There is a slew of feast days right after Christmas emphasizing how that the events surrounding Christmas were an anticipation of Christ’s eventual suffering, death, and resurrection. December 26 is the feast of St. Stephen, the first Christian martyr after the establishment of the Church. December 27 is the feast of St. John the Evangelist, the beloved disciple who stood at the foot of the cross and received the Blessed Mother from Christ to be his own mother. December 29 is the feast of St. Thomas à Becket, bishop and martyr. In between these two feasts is December 28, the feast of the Holy Innocents, the first martyrs after the birth of Christ. 

Let’s look at the stories of these saints’ lives. We have St. Stephen, ordained a deacon to assist the apostles and to tend to the Church’s works of charity (Acts 6:1-6). He was martyred for his witness to God, and his martyrdom was one of the catalysts for the conversion of Saul, the great persecutor of Christians. In Stephen we first see how, as Tertullian noted in Apologeticus, the blood of the martyrs will become the seed of the Church.  

Next comes St. John the Evangelist. Alone among the apostles, he stood at the foot of Christ’s cross. To him Christ entrusted his mother to be John’s mother. John also would stand as representative for all Christians, for whom Christ’s mother would become their mother (John 19:26-27). John witnessed the blood and water pour out from the side of Christ (John 19:34). He is believed to have been the last of the apostles to die and the only one not to die a martyr.  

Thomas à Becket lived more than a thousand years after Stephen and John. He was martyred because he challenged the right of the king (Henry II of England) to try one of Becket’s priests. Although the relationship between Church and state has gone through many changes over the centuries, the human need for a supranational sanctuary to protect people who find themselves at odds with state authorities has not changed. We are called to obey and honor earthly leaders (e.g., Rom. 13:1-2), but we are also called to preserve for God that which is God’s (cf. Luke 20:19-25). 

Finally, there are the Holy Innocents. When King Herod was alerted to the possibility of a usurper to his throne, he set about to crush that threat. When the Magi did not return, preventing Herod from interrogating them as to the newborn king’s whereabouts, Herod decided to murder with ruthless efficiency all the baby boys who might have a claim to the position (Matt. 2:1-18). Barring a miracle, the Holy Innocents did not consciously know the cause for which they died, but the blood they shed was quite possibly the only blood shed by martyrs that directly protected God’s life.  

How does this relate to Christmas? It shows that Christ’s birth made possible his passion, death, and resurrection. The saints of the Christmas season show us that the birth of Christ points us to his sacrifice on Calvary and the redemption of mankind. [TAKEN FROM – 20 ANSWERS: SEASONS & FEASTS]

Artist of golden Trump sculpture strikes back at liberal critics: ‘This is not an idol’

The artist who created a 6-foot golden sculpture of former President Donald Trump — an immensely popular attraction at the Conservative Political Action Conference — bristled when liberal news media and other Trump foes compared it to the “golden calf” in the Bible.

Read More >

Artist of golden Trump sculpture strikes back at liberal critics: ‘This is not an idol’

The artist who created a 6-foot golden sculpture of former President Donald Trump — an immensely popular attraction at the Conservative Political Action Conference — bristled when liberal news media and other Trump foes compared it to the “golden calf” in the Bible.

Read More >

The Texas ‘Big Freeze’ Energy Disaster

DAILY

The Texas ‘Big Freeze’ Energy Disaster

February 23, 2021

Dear reader, 

Another national disaster and more inefficient state government at work, America…

Texas recently had some rare winter weather, and an ensuing energy grid collapse has left millions freezing in the dark. 

Many have blamed green energy for this ordeal, but is there someone else responsible?

Today, we’re sharing an essay from former Texas Congressman Dr. Ron Paul, who isn’t pulling any punches with this story… 

He reports that Texas’ frozen nightmare happened, in part, due to Governor Greg Abbott’s draconian COVID-19 measures which hindered adequate winterization inspections of the state’s power plants earlier this year.

These upgrades were deemed too costly, so it’s possible this Texas tragedy, at its core, comes from “leadership” that chose short-term profit and politics of the moment over their own citizens’ lives and welfare.

Has Abbott joined the unfortunate ranks of pandemic-failed state-elected leaders, along with the about-to-be-recalled Prince Newsom and the scandalized King Cuomo?

Dr. Paul has the scoop…  

Unintended Consequences…

The Texas ‘Big Freeze’ Energy Disaster

By Dr. Ron Paul

Last week, Texas experienced a cold snap that resulted in serious statewide damage, death, and destruction. The collapse of the state’s energy grid left millions of Texans in the dark and freezing for days at a time. Tragically, at least 30 people died.

There are many reasons why Texas became like a Third World country, and we should be careful not to pin all the blame on just one factor. But it seems clear that the disaster was to a large degree caused by political decisions to shift toward “green” energy generated from solar and wind and by Governor Abbott’s authoritarian COVID restrictions.

Abbott, who won a “wind leadership” award just this month, oversaw the near-collapse of wind energy generation last week. Yet the politicization of energy generation in favor of “green” alternatives over natural gas and other fossil fuels has led to the unintended consequences of freezing Texans facing multiple millions of dollars in property damage and worse.

Additionally, federal emissions and other restrictions forced Texas to beg Washington, D.C. for permission to generate power at higher levels in anticipation of unprecedented demand. Governor Abbott finally received permission from the Department of Energy on February 14, but by then many facilities found themselves off-line due to freezing conditions.

Why should the Federal government be allowed to freeze Texans to death in the name of controlling emissions from energy generation plants? It’s a classic example of politics over people. I guess if you want to make a “Green New Deal” omelet, you have to break a few eggs.

While Governor Abbott was quick to blame energy generators and even the state Electric Reliability Council of Texas, NBC News in Dallas reported that ERCOT “did not conduct any on-site inspections of the state’s power plants to see if they were ready for this winter season. Due to COVID-19 they conducted virtual tabletop exercises instead – but only with 16% of the state’s power generating facilities.”

Governor Abbott’s authoritarian COVID executive orders at least indirectly led to lax inspection, maintenance, and winterization of wind and other energy generation plants.

But Texas did not only freeze because of Abbott’s COVID restrictions. For the better part of a year, thousands of businesses have been destroyed. Recovering drug addicts and alcoholics have relapsed. Depression and suicides have skyrocketed. Children have been deprived of education. 

And for what? Texas with Abbott’s restrictions fared no better than Florida with no restrictions when it comes to COVID cases and deaths. The Texas governor knew that months ago when the data from Florida proved that lockdowns, masks, and other restrictions had no effect. But he refused to change course. He refused to follow the brave lead of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and open Texas completely.

Politicians too stubborn or fearful to change course when facts dictate otherwise do not deserve to remain in office. Governors Gavin Newsom in California and Andrew Cuomo in New York are finally facing consequences for their COVID authoritarianism. When the smoke clears – and it is rapidly clearing – many more of these petty tyrants will fall. That list of deposed COVID tyrants may well include Texas Governor Greg Abbott – and the slumbering Texas state legislature – as well.

Let’s hope Texans – and all Americans – will learn from this and more forcefully demand their God-given liberty!

Copyright © 2021 by RonPaul Institute

P.J. O’Rourke: America’s Populism Problem

DAILY

P.J. O’Rourke: America’s Populism Problem

February 22, 2021 

Dear reader,

Our latest American Consequences magazine just published this weekend. Have you read it yet? I (P.J. O’Rourke) am biased of course, but this is one of our best issues yet. 

As far as bitcoins and cryptos go, that’s all a bit out of my swim lane. But lucky for you, we’ve got experts for this hot topic… 

Renowned author and blockchain guru Alex Tapscott makes the case that bitcoin can transcend being just a hot investment and could become the future of money itself.

And our publisher Trish Regan, who’s been following and reporting on bitcoin for years, dives into whether or not bitcoin’s recent rise to mainstream fame contradicts its underground roots.

Now, I am an expert on writing about people and what’s wrong with them… And today, this country has a “poor me, the little guy” problem in a big way.

America’s Populism Problem

By P.J. O’Rourke

We have a populism problem in America…

One big, honking populist has just been shooed out of the White House. And his replacement – while more of an old political hack and Washington establishmentarian than a populist per se – is coming in trailing strong fumes of populism from his own political party.

Populism isn’t a Right-wing or Left-wing ideology. Populism isn’t an ideology at all… It’s about feelings, not ideas. Populism isn’t conservative or liberal, Republican or Democratic. But it is both MAGA and BLM, both QAnon and Antifa – AOC in a Boogaloo Boys Hawaiian shirt.

A reasonably good definition of Populism can be found in an unsigned article from the April 17, 1972, issue of Time magazine cited by the Oxford English Dictionary:

Populism is a label that covers disparate policies and passions: among many others, New Deal reforms, consumer rage against business, ethnic belligerence. Often it is merely a catch phrase. Yet it describes something real: the politics of the little guy against the big guy – the classic struggle of the haves against the have-nots or the have-not-enoughs.

The only thing dated about that Time paragraph from almost half a century ago is “New Deal reforms.” An invasion of the Capitol building by ardent New Dealers would have required many more wheelchair ramps than the Americans with Disabilities Act stipulates, and New Deal disturbances in city business districts would have been limited to the occasional whacking of police riot shields with canes and the looting of Depends.

Otherwise, Time puts it neatly. Populism is a muddle. This muddle may be “classic” in the sense that “disparate policies and passions” date to the beginnings of governance. But, in America, the type of muddle that’s currently on display began to manifest itself in 1874 with the founding of the “Greenback Party.”

The main concern of the Greenback Party was inflation – they were for it. They felt that America’s post-Civil War return to the gold standard and a “sound dollar” gave too much power to big business and banking. They opposed deflation, believing lower prices were bad for “the little guy.” They wanted the government to print more money – because that way… everybody would have more money. Today, we would call them some sort of pinko flake advocates of Modern Monetary Theory.

But the Greenback constituency was primarily rural with support from labor, especially in mining and heavy industry. So really they’d be like some kind of reactionary nut supporters of Trump Forever.

The Greenback Party won control of a number of municipal governments in what would later become the Rust Belt, and it elected 20-some members of Congress. But Greenback influence faded as American economic growth recommenced after the depression of 1873 to 1877. (Could that growth have had anything to do with a sound dollar?)

Shifts in economic reality often have a way of dispersing the mists of populism. Widespread flirtations with Marxism among intellectuals in the 1930s (a sort of “highbrow populism”) disappeared into the capitalist war-making machinery of the 1940s. The populist “youth culture” social upheavals of the 1960s ended in the 1970s with thousands of hippies saying, “Oh wow, man, we’re broke.” And where did the occupiers of Occupy Wall Street go? Probably to Reddit and WallStreetBets, to day trade GameStop stock.

However, another financial panic in the early 1890s gave fresh impetus to Greenback-style populism. A new political party was started in 1892, officially named the People’s Party, but popularly – as it were – called the Populist Party. (According to the OED, the word “populist” seems to have been coined that year by the Columbus Dispatch to describe the party.)

The Populist platform called for an inflationary monetary policy. It also called for women’s suffrage, labor union collective bargaining rights, an eight-hour workday, a graduated income tax, direct election of U.S. Senators by voters instead of state legislators, price supports for farmers, and federal regulation of railroad monopoly shipping rates.

Before you get too excited about this Populist movement of yore, you should know that there was, among the Populists, an element of another kind of populism that isn’t so popular with you.

If you’re a well-meaning liberal (and, conservative though I am, I have no objection to your being so), this all sounds so attractive, and so politically advanced – such policies being proposed more than 120 years ago! But before you get too excited about this Populist movement of yore, you should know that there was, among the Populists, an element of another kind of populism that isn’t so popular with you.

Wikipedia is not the most precise or accurate research tool. But the crowdsourced nature of the free online encyclopedia does give us a rough survey of “what is commonly thought and known” about a subject. The Wikipedia article “People’s Party (United States)” is, in general, favorably disposed to the Populists.

But the “Women and African Americans” section of the article (to which I’ve made addenda in brackets) reports that…

… racism did not evade the People’s Party. Prominent Populist Party leaders… at least partially demonstrated a dedication to the cause of white supremacy, and there appears to have been some support for this viewpoint in the party’s rank-and-file membership. After 1900 [Thomas E.] Watson [the Populist presidential candidate in 1904] himself became an outspoken white supremacist.

From what I can learn about Watson, this is true. A Georgia politician and rabble-rousing publisher, Watson started out urging poor whites and poor blacks to unite against “elites.” But as time went by, he changed his mind about which rabble he was rousing. He first embraced racial bigotry and by the time he was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1920, he had added nativism, anti-Semitism, and anti-Catholicism to his gross prejudices. In his Senate career, he distinguished himself by dying after 16 months in office.

Further material from the Wikipedia article…

Historian Hasia Diner [professor of American Jewish History at New York University] says: Some Populists believed that Jews made up a class of international financiers whose policies had ruined small family farms… owned the banks and promoted the gold standard, the chief sources of their impoverishment.

And…

[Charles] Postel [history professor at San Francisco State University and author of The Populist Vision, where, overall, he views the Populists in a positive light] notes… White Populists embraced social-Darwinist notions of racial improvement, Chinese exclusion and separate-but-equal.

And…

[Political scientist, former aide to President Gerald Ford, and Senior Fellow at the (liberal leaning) Brookings Institute, A. James] Reichley (1992) sees the Populist Party primarily as a reaction to the decline of the political hegemony of white Protestant farmers… Reichley argues that, while the Populist Party was founded in reaction to economic hardship, by the mid-1890s it was “reacting not simply against the money power but against the whole world of cities and alien customs and loose living they felt was challenging the agrarian way of life.”

(And, P.S., consulting other historical sources, it’s also clear that the Populists often worked in tandem with the Prohibition Party.)

As someone who’s fond of loose living, charmed by alien customs, and having grandparents who, with alacrity, moved from the farm to the big city to escape the toilsome dullness of the agrarian way of life, I feel no affinity for the roots of populism or for any of the Donald Bernie Trump Sanders underbrush that has sprouted from its 19th century stump.

Populism is a muddle – a political, economic, and moral dog’s breakfast.

Which brings us back to that quote from Time, “… the politics of the little guy against the big guy – the classic struggle of the haves against the have-nots or the have-not-enoughs.”

Populism is a lie and a logical sophistry. The very idea of the “struggle of the haves against the have-nots” presupposes the zero-sum fallacy that only a fixed amount of good things exist in the world, and I can only have more good things if I take them from you.

It’s the old “pizza delusion,” which you’ve probably heard explained before, but I’ll have it delivered again. To think of economics in terms of haves versus have-nots is to look at the economy like a pizza – if you hog too many slices, I’ll have to eat the Domino’s box.

It’s the old “pizza delusion,” which you’ve probably heard explained before, but I’ll have it delivered again. To think of economics in terms of haves versus have-nots is to look at the economy like a pizza – if you hog too many slices, I’ll have to eat the Domino’s box.

As hundreds of years of economic development – and the expansion of Domino’s from one store in Ypsilanti, Michigan in 1960 to more than 17,000 franchises today – proves, the answer is to make more pizza.

Populism is also not American. There is no “little guy” in this country. Every American citizen stands with the same height and strength, equal before the law to a degree remarkable by any world or world history standard.

We each have our disadvantages – economic, social, and circumstantial. But few of our ancestors landed here in circumstances such as arrival by Gulfstream private jet. America is a monument to what the disadvantaged can do.

And none of us face the disadvantage – if his portrayal in The Social Network is anything to go by – of being as big an a-hole as Mark Zuckerberg.

As to the “politics of the little guy,” there is no other kind in America. The OED’s definition of (small “p”) populist is “One who seeks to represent the views of the mass of common people.”

There’s something sneaky and faintly sinister in that “seeks to,” as if there are secrets to be disclosed. Get out of here, you populist. In America, the views of the mass of common people are on view! In fact, it’s impossible not to see them. And, in the matter of “represent the views,” they’re already represented. It’s called the House of Representatives (and the Senate too). These representative bodies may be full of nincompoops, but the mass of common people is free to exchange them for other nincompoops at every election.

A populist is somebody offering democracy to a democracy, somebody saying, “I’ll give you a dollar for four quarters.” When you hear a proposition like that, you know something’s up, some con is being played.

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Regards,

P.J. O’Rourke
Editor in Chief, American Consequences
With Editorial Staff
February 22, 2021

Trump seeks to cement hold on GOP

TheHill.com

Trump seeks to cement hold on GOP

BY JULIA MANCHESTER – 

Just In…

Former President Trump is looking to cement his hold on the Republican Party as he makes his first major post-presidential appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando on Sunday.

Trump is expected to deliver a speech tearing into President Biden while reasserting himself as the Republican Party’s undisputed leader.

His appearance comes as the party aims to smooth over internal rifts heading into the 2022 midterms, where it hopes to reclaim the House and Senate majorities.

Democrats have a small majority in the House and each party holds 50 seats in the Senate, putting both chambers in reach for Republicans in a midterm when an incumbent president’s party historically has lost seats.

Yet Trump serves as the ultimate question mark on the proceedings.

Hugely popular within the GOP, Trump would be the odds-on favorite to win his party’s nomination if he runs for it in 2024.

Yet he also drives opponents to vote in droves against him, something evidenced by the record number of votes won by Biden in 2020, and in the GOP’s loss of the House majority in 2018.

In next year’s midterms, it is unclear whether voters will savor or turn away from the prospect of a Trump-led GOP winning back congressional majorities, particularly with the memories of the ugly Capitol riot still fresh.

Fifty-nine percent of GOP voters said that Trump should play a “major role” within the party going forward, while 54 percent said they would back the former president in a hypothetical 2024 Republican primary, according to a Morning Consult/Politico poll released last week. 

Sen. Mitt Romney (Utah), one of Trump’s staunchest GOP critics, said this week that Trump could coast to victory in a 2024 primary.

“I expect he will continue playing a role. I don’t know if he’ll run in 2024 or not. But if he does, I’m pretty sure he will win the nomination,” Romney told the New York Times-Deal Book. 

At CPAC, Trump will be speaking to the faithful. On Friday, a golden statue of the former president was literally rolled out. Attendees booed and shouted “freedom” when they were asked to wear masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and to meet the hosting hotel’s rules.

A number of speakers at CPAC are continuing to question the legality and validity of November’s general election just months after Trump repeatedly and falsely said widespread fraud caused the election to be stolen from him.

Many expect Trump to sound a similar note on Sunday.

“Trump’s remarks come down to three things: ‘I’ve won, Biden’s terrible, and I might run again,’ ” said Republican strategist Doug Heye, who is a vocal critic of Trump. “On that third part, he won’t definitively answer.” 

Trump has been banned from Twitter and has been relatively quiet, just giving a few interviews in the last two weeks that were focused on the death of Rush Limbaugh and the car accident that severely injured Tiger Woods.

As a result, Sunday’s address will be a return to the political spotlight for a former president who once had the lights almost all to himself.

There are other Republicans trying to grab the limelight, including Sen. Tom Cotton (Ark.), Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz

All three could be 2024 presidential contenders, though all three are also much less likely to enter the race if Trump is a contender.

DeSantis on Friday touted his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which has been widely praised by conservatives. He also hit the GOP’s pre-Trump establishment class, echoing the former president’s rhetoric. 

“We cannot, we will not, go back to the days of the failed Republican establishment of yesteryear,” he said. “We reject open borders and instead support American sovereignty and the American worker. Building a movement on amnesty and cheap foreign labor is like building a house on a field of quicksand.”

But while DeSantis and other speakers used the opportunity to cast themselves as potential successors to Trump, they likely understand that they are very much still on the former president’s turf. 

“Everyone else who has their eye on 2024 knows Trump goes first. He’s either going to make a decision to run or doesn’t, and in that sense they are all playing second fiddle to Trump,” said one Republican strategist. 

Political watchers are also paying attention to the conservatives who were absent at the conference. House GOP Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney (Wyo.), who spoke at CPAC last year, notably is not in attendance this year. 

Cheney garnered the wrath of pro-Trump conservatives last month when she voted to impeach him for inciting the violent insurrection at the Capitol last month. She since has been censured by the Wyoming Republican Party and has gotten a primary challenger. 

Cheney has signaled she will not stop criticizing Trump, clashing with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) this week over whether Trump should even address the conservative body. 

“I’ve been clear about my views about President Trump and the extent to which, following Jan. 6, I don’t think he should be playing a role in the future of party,” Cheney said on Wednesday before McCarthy abruptly ended the press conference. 

Pro-Trump operatives are quick to point out that it would be an uphill climb for the former president’s critics to make a play for the party’s grassroots due to his widespread popularity among the group. 

“A lot of the elites in the Republican Party, meaning the Romney’s, the Cheney’s, etc, don’t seem to understand that you can get a new set of elites, but you can’t get a new set of grassroots and if you don’t listen to your grassroots, then you’re going to fail as a party,” the Republican strategist said. 

Political watchers are in agreement that Trump will hold back no punches against his Democratic or Republican critics when he speaks Sunday.

“Will Donald Trump ever miss an opportunity to attack someone? No,” Heye said.

Reflection 59: “Oh, Blood and Water…” (Re-blogged)

Reflection 59: “Oh, Blood and Water…”
Video Version

After Jesus’ death, one of the soldiers came to Him and was ordered to make certain He was dead.  So that soldier pierced His precious body with a lance and immediately blood and water gushed forth from His wounded Heart.  This has been prayerfully reflected upon throughout the ages and has been seen as a sign of the Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion and the fact that the Blood of the Holy Eucharist and the Water of Baptism spring forth directly from the ultimate sacrificial gift of Jesus’ perfect sacrifice of the Cross (See Diary #187).

Renew, today, your gratitude for these Sacraments of God’s abundant Mercy.  Ponder the fact that they were made possible only because Jesus was willing to sacrifice His life out of love for us.  Let His sacrifice, this day, fill your own heart with gratitude and awe as you think about the price He willingly and freely paid so as to redeem us.

Lord, Your love is seen clearly in the Sacrifice of Your Cross.  You held nothing back from us as You poured out Your Mercy to the last drop on the Cross.  Help me to see and understand this great mystery of sacrificial love.  Fill me with gratitude for all that You have done and help me to imitate this total self-giving toward others.  Oh blood and water, which gushed forth from the Heart of Jesus, as a font of Mercy for us, I trust in You.

40 Days at the Foot of the Cross – Reflection Ten – The Sword of Sorrow

Cassidy: Trump won’t be GOP nominee in 2024

TheHill.com

BY JOHN BOWDEN – 

Just In…

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) predicted Sunday that former President Trump would not be the party’s nominee for president in 2024, pointing to the number of seats lost by Republicans in the House and Senate over the four years Trump was in office.

Speaking with CNN’s Dana Bash on “State of the Union,” Cassidy was asked several times whether he would support Trump should he run in 2024 or back him if he wins the GOP nomination, as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said he would last week.

“That’s a theoretical that I don’t think will come to pass,” Cassidy responded, adding, “I don’t mean to duck, but the truth is you could ask me [about] a lot of people, if they are fit. Point is, I don’t think he’ll be our nominee.”

“Political campaigns are about winning,” the senator added before pointing to the loss of GOP control of the House, Senate and White House under the former president.

“That has not happened in a single four years under a president since Herbert Hoover,” Cassidy said.

Asked about Trump’s strength in the Republican Party, as evidenced by the parade of pro-Trump speakers at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) this weekend, Cassidy dismissed the possibility that Trump still controlled the GOP.

“CPAC is not the entirety of the Republican Party,” he said while arguing that the GOP should focus less on personalities and more on speaking to 2016 Trump supporters who flipped to vote for President Biden in November.

“If we idolize one person, we will lose,” Cassidy said, adding, “If we speak to those issues, to those families, to those individuals, that’s when we win.”

Cassidy was one of seven GOP senators to defect and join Senate Democrats earlier this month in voting to convict Trump during the former president’s second impeachment trial. Though the former president was not convicted, the vote was the most bipartisan impeachment vote in history.