Thursday, February 23, 2012


Just finished reading the Wikipedia entry about the Fort Hood shooting. It makes me sick to my stomach.

At 1:34 in the afternoon of November 6, 2009, army colonel Nidal Malik Hasan walked into the Soldier Readiness Processing Center at Fort Hood Texas, sat down at an empty table, bowed his head for a few seconds, then stood up, shouted “Allah Akbar,” and started shooting an FN Five-seven pistol.

By the time he was subdued ten minutes later, he had fired more than one hundred rounds, wounded 30 people, and murdered 12 soldiers, one civilian, and an unborn baby.

Allah Akbar? Allah be praised?

Is the random slaughter of human beings an accepted way to praise Allah?

Starting in late 2008, Major Hasan wrote about 20 e-mail messages to a radical Yemeni-American cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki, asking for guidance on religious obligations, including whether it would be justified for a Muslim American soldier to kill fellow soldiers.

Some of these e-mail messages were intercepted and passed on to a Joint Terrorism Task Force, made up of FBI, CIA and DOD computer cowboys. But the analyst who examined them decided that the queries were part of Major Hasan’s research and warranted no further investigation.

The emails were only part of the gathering storm clouds. Hasan was well known to colleagues and superiors in the army for his radical opinions. But raised eyebrows were pulled down by a culture of political correctness.

Hasan was promoted and transferred from Walter Reed Hospital to Fort Hood in preparation for deployment to Afghanistan.

So much for the failure to anticipate trouble.

What exactly has happened since Hasan’s bloody rampage?

Nothing. Well, next to nothing.

Hasan is being held in the Bell County jail in Belton, Texas. It took two years for the Army to bring Hasan before a military court and arraign him for murder.

I always thought the purpose of an arraignment was to read the charges to the defendant and ask if he pleads guilty or not guilty. Apparently not so in a military tribunal. Hasan was given more time to decide if he pleads guilty or not guilty.

So now there is a trial date set for March 5, 2012, but the defendant still hasn’t entered a plea. It doesn’t take much legal savvy to conclude that there is no way the trial will actually start on March 5th.

Hasan fired his civilian lawyer. Some speculate that John P. Galligan, a criminal defense attorney and retired US Army Colonel, was urging Hasan to plead not guilty by reason of insanity.

How about that for a legal precedent?

Shall we now say that terrorists who randomly kill Americans in furtherance of Islamic Jihad are not acting rationally, don’t know the difference between right and wrong, and therefore are not responsible for what they do?

If I thought that our treatment of Hasan reflected a national commitment to the Christian ideal of turning the other cheek, I could call it noble, even if foolhardy.

But if our pussyfooting with the Fort Hood killer stems from an infatuation with diversity that borders on cowardice, it should be condemned in the strongest terms.

The Sixth Amendment to the federal constitution gives every defendant the right to a speedy trial. Unhappily, it does not afford the same right to the public.

It is long past time for doing justice in Texas.

The current occupant of the White House has a penchant for deferring decisions until after the next election.

Why the delay? Are the thirteen victims of Fort Hood to be sacrificed on the altar of political correctness?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


I play golf with Peter. Good man. A good Canadian who loves the United States and takes great interest in our politics.

I got a note from him regarding one of my recent blogs. It sparked an exchange of the kind that I relish. Friendly, civil debate. Whether anyone convinces anyone is hard to say, but differences can be narrowed and highlighted.

Here's how it went:

Hi Tom,
I have been enjoying your recent blogs with regard to the Catholic Church and contraception. As someone looking from the outside in, however, I don't think the Federal Gov't's recent directions are a violation of the first amendment's guarantee of religious freedom but simply a statement of their responsibility as a national employer under the Affordable Health Care Act.

A lot of employees are non Catholic and a majority of Catholics practice some form of birth control and would welcome coverage under their employer's plan as mandated by their elected gov't. It's up to the employee to access that benefit or not.

Most people I know, seem to object to the AHCA not because of what it tries to do but because a central government is forcing people to buy insurance which runs contrary to to the idea of freedom of choice. But it's the law, and until it's changed, the Church should obey the law.

Also,I don't think the introduction of contraceptives has led to rampant promiscuity in society. I think it helps couples maintain close personal relationships and when they are ready, leads to responsible parenthood.
all the best,


First, I want to thank you for your thoughtful email. This is precisely the kind of courteous, civil dialog I hope to initiate with my blogs.

The number of Catholics using birth control is often urged as a rationale for approving the HHS mandate. But compliance with a religious doctrine does not determine its legitimacy. Nor does the fact that non complying members of a church may welcome getting something for nothing.

Would your view be the same if the government were requiring a Jewish Hospital to provide its employees with free pork chops? It seems to me that the fact that most of the employees might welcome free pork chops would not make it more comfortable to the hospital board.

Your statement that "it's the law, and until changed, it must be obeyed" while superficially persuasive, is not actually true. In the United States, the federal constitution, by its own terms, is the supreme law of the land.

No act of Congress and no regulation by an executive agency is really "law" if it contravenes the constitution.

In our lifetime, there were statutes on the books in several states requiring Negroes to drink at separate water fountains, sit in the back of the bus and obey various other mandates of segregation. Rosa Parks, and the generation she inspired, engaged in civil disobedience as a means of protesting these regulations.

In due course, the Supreme Court of the United States set the record straight.

If a statute violates the constitution, it is not law. When the Supreme Court declares a statute unconstitutional, it does not repeal the legislation. It simply says that the words in the statute book are not, and never were, the law.

While it is true that the vast majority of Americans, both out of respect for the elected government and out of recognition of the government's military and economic power to enforce its mandates, are reluctant to engage in civil disobedience, it is nonetheless true that resistance to an unconstitutional mandate is precisely what an oath to support and defend the constitution requires.

Your last sentence reveals that you and I have a difference of opinion about a question of fact. These are the most difficult differences for men of good will to resolve. Our understanding of facts flows from many things: personal experience, study, reading and observation. Moreover, our belief about facts is colored by our disposition.

I'm sure that you would concede that the growth pattern of illegitimate births, divorce, social diseases and all the other indicia of promiscuity would, if shown on a chart, substantially parallel the increased availability of birth control.

Still, I would have to concede that the mere concurrence of factors does not prove a cause and effect relationship.

Like global warming, it boils down to a disputed factual conclusion. In the last analysis, we are all pawns on the chess board of life. History alone will reveal the truth. Even then, historians will disagree and debate ad infinitum.

Good morning Tom,
I certainly don't know a lot about US Constitutional law. I can only use common sense and I would think that a law as promulgated by elected representatives, is the law until the Supreme Court says it isn't. I presume the Affordable Health Care Act is winding its way through the system and will eventually end up with the Supreme Court for a ruling. Until then it would remain intact.

Peaceful civil disobedience against an unjust law is a legitimate way of expressing discontent and bishops are voicing their disapproval of President Obama's edict from the pulpit. But in this case, a large majority of Americans including 61% of Catholics (as polled by the NY Times last week) approve of the HHS mandate.

With regard to levels of promiscuity, it has been impacted by a number of factors including music, movies, the internet and such but I do believe "the pill" has allowed women around the world greater control of their bodies and couples a better choice in establishing a family.


Given the political leaning of the New York Times, I have some skepticism about their polling data, especially in light of having witnessed 2,000 Catholics spontaneously and enthusiastically burst into applause when the bishop’s letter was read at Mass.

Generally, I share your respect for laws passed by elected representatives of the people. Unhappily, the mandate about birth control was not enacted by representatives of the people. The law requires most health plans to cover recommended preventive services without copays or deductibles. But the law left it to the administration to decide which women's health services to include.

It does not stretch credulity to infer that the administration decided to include birth control services for the very reason that so many women use them. That kind of decision has obvious attraction in an election year.

Whether the Congress would have passed the birth control benefit is anyone’s guess, but I doubt it would have been adopted without a fight.

According to Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Chair of the Democratic National Committee, the average cost of birth control is $700 per year. After all, $700 is $700, and if someone wants to give you $700, you will probably be in favor of it.

I concede that artificial birth control has made it easier for married couples to plan their families. But $700 should not be too great a price to pay for the convenience of enjoying intimacy at any time of the month.

The incumbent President of the United States presents a new twist to John F. Kennedy’s famous statement. No need to ask what your country can do for you. The country will do for you without being asked.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


So did you see Nicki Menaj perform at the Grammys? The buzz on Twitter says she laid an egg.

From her appearance on the red carpet escorted by an elderly man dressed as the Pope to her sacrilegious machinations on the stage, Menaj expected to wow the audience and the nation with her contempt for the Catholic Church.

Can’t blame her for trying. After all, being a star in the music business is all about being a celebrity. And being a celebrity is all about getting noticed.

Of course she could have gotten more attention if she had come wearing a burka and escorted by an Ayatollah, then performed a dance in which she was stoned to death for adultery, but that would have made a lot of Muslims mad at her.

Which would not be politically correct.

But it’s OK to mock the Catholic Church. They do it on Saturday Night Live. Jay Leno does it. So do lots of other folks on television. Especially those who started out as Catholics and left the Church.

Most of them left because they didn’t want anyone telling them that they had to obey the Sixth and Ninth Commandments.

And they joined the American Church of Secularism. In the ACS there is no sin, no virtue, no vice. Neither right nor wrong. There is only popular and unpopular, politically correct and incorrect.

The prophet of the ACS is Alfred Kinsey who published books in 1948 and 1953 describing the sexual conduct of male and females. All very scientific. Statistics based on interviews.

Statistical morality. That’s what Kathleen Sebelius relies on. The Catholic Church can’t oppose birth control because most women use it. And anyway, the Church’s opposition to birth control is just the prudish opinion of an elderly celibate in the Vatican who wants his followers to have big families so he can get more money.

I have been a Roman Catholic all my life, as was my father and his father before him. I’m not a theologian, but I am convinced that the teaching of the Church reflects the inspiration of its founder, Jesus Christ.

Much of the misunderstanding of Catholic doctrine comes from superficial, short-cut thinking.

For example, the Church does not oppose birth control. It only opposes artificial means of contraception. It does so for the same reason that it opposes pornography; because the Church teaches that the act of procreation is sacramental, that it belongs in the committed relationship of a man and woman.

What the Catholic Church opposes is selfish, recreational, casual sex. Promiscuity. Adultery. And who can deny that artificial means of contraception are the sine qua non of hedonism?

When the modern mother has her sixteen year old daughter fitted for a diaphragm, the message is clear: do whatever you want, but don’t get pregnant.

Do women have a constitutional right to use birth control devices and medications? Certainly. And no American priest or bishop has ever denied it. But the constitutional right to do something is not same as a constitutional right to get it for nothing. Men have a constitutional right to use Viagra, but, so far at least, no one has suggested that treating erectile dysfunction is the duty of the federal government.

Frankly, I am proud to know that the Catholic Church in America is standing up against the Obama administration’s demand for birth control coverage in every employee insurance benefit.

When the Church opposes mandatory coverage because it violates the first amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom she also speaks for those who oppose such mandates because they infringe on personal and economic freedom.

Barack Obama is not our king and we are not his subjects. Neither he nor any member of his administration has the constitutional authority to decide what contracts Americans shall make with each other for health care or any other purpose.

Perhaps in November he will discover that statistical morality is a moving target, that a wet finger in the wind is no guarantee of infallibility, and that popularity is no substitute for principle.

Saturday, February 11, 2012


Chinese laborers who help to build the transcontinental railroad in the 19th century introduced Americans to a pain relieving salve made from snake oil.

Imitators popped up all across the western states, traveling peddlers who hawked all kinds of phony concoctions which supposedly contained snake oil and were good for whatever ailment you had.

Snake oil salesmen were shameless frauds who made preposterous claims, often invented on the spur of the moment. They usually had a shill in the audience who would loudly affirm every miraculous cure the hustler described.

And so the phrase “snake oil salesman” became a staple in American culture.

He was a regular character in all the cowboy shoot-out movies.

Perhaps the most celebrated arch type of the snake oil salesman was Professor Harold Hill in the musical comedy, “Music Man.” A likable scalawag, Hill managed to bamboozle the whole town of River City with fast talk, big promises and superficial charm.

Move over, Robert Preston. You have just been replaced by Barack Obama.

Yesterday, the American people were treated to the most brazen snake oil pitch ever delivered from the back of a chuck wagon or from the oval office.

Faced with a nationwide uprising of Catholics over his insistence that all employers provide health insurance which includes birth control pills, the President went on national television and announced that his administration had come up with a compromise solution.

With a perfectly straight face and a confident air of benign authority, Mr. Obama told us that objecting employers would no longer be required to pay for birth control.

No sir, the employers will not be required to pay for something their religious conviction forbids.

The insurance companies will.


Catholic employers were complaining because they were being required to carry insurance that covered birth control. They were never going to pay for the pills directly. The insurance companies were always going to be the ones to write the check.

Before Obama opened his mouth yesterday, employers were complaining about what their mandated health care insurance was going to pay for.

The snake oil President came up with a wonderful “compromise” solution.

He tells Archbishop Dolan, “You don’t have to pay for it.” Of course, you still have to carry insurance. And the insurance company still has to pay for birth control pills.

Exactly where, Mr. President, is the insurance company going to get the money to pay for the birth control pills?

Insurance companies get their money by charging premiums to their customers. They figure out how much to charge by keeping track of how much they have to pay out in benefits.

So now the actuaries and the accountants who work for the insurance companies can’t have a line item called “birth control benefits.” Birth control pills are a freebee. So put it under “miscellaneous.”

Or whatever. But the cost of birth control pills isn’t going to come out of insurance company profits. Even the President of the United States can’t make that happen.

No sir. The Catholic hospitals are still going to pay the premiums, and the premiums are still going to cover birth control pills.

America has heard the White House snake oil pitch.

Now it’s time for all the loyal shills in the audience to start cheering.

Friday, February 10, 2012


You won’t read about this in the New York Times, or even in the Detroit News.

And don’t bother checking with Snopes. It’s a just a hypothetical question, but I have no doubt that this story or some version of it will show up in the final examinations of Constitutional Law classes in law schools across America:

Mustashfa Islaam is a seven hundred bed full service hospital in Dearborn, Michigan. Organized as a non-profit corporation, its thirteen member Board of Directors consists entirely Muslim doctors, Elders of the local Mosque and Muslim businessmen.

In addition to the physicians who practice there, Mustashfa Islaam employs 1,123 people in various capacities including nurses, aides, therapists, clerks, chefs, receptionists, orderlies and administrators. About 18 percent of these employees are not Muslims. Fifty-nine percent regularly or occasionally consume alcoholic beverages. Roughly ten percent of the non-Muslim employees and three percent of the Muslim employees use marijuana as a recreational substance.

In 2012, as authorized by the Affordable Health Care Act, Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, promulgated regulations with respect to the coverage which employers would be required to provide in all qualified employee health care plans.

Among the specific coverages mandated by HHS were alcohol, when prescribed for medicinal purposes and medical marijuana. The regulations required that such services be made available without any co-pay to all employees.

The Holy Quraan states: "They ask Thee concerning Wine and Gambling, Say: In them is great sin, and some profit, for men; but the sin is greater than the profit." (Surah Al-Baqarah:219)

The Quraan further states in Surah Al-Maaidah verse 90: "O Ye who believe! Intoxicants and Gambling, Sacrificing to Stones, and (divination by) Arrows, are an abomination, of Satan's handiwork; Keep away from such, that Ye may prosper."

Umme Salmah narrates that the Messenger of Allah prohibited every intoxicant and Mufattir (anything which excites and irritates the mind, body and heart.)

Islaamic Mullahs and Imams in the United States are generally in agreement that the proper interpretation of these passages is that consumption of alcohol or use of recreational drugs is forbidden by Allah and is grievously sinful.

Health insurance carriers calculate premiums based upon assessment of the risks associated with their policies. Entitlement to health care benefits is contingent upon future injuries, illnesses and health care needs. The financial benefit of health insurance as against paying for one’s health care as the needs arise, depends upon the occurrence or non-occurrence of unknown future events and conditions.

A narrow majority of the Mullahs and Imams in the United States are of the opinion that insurance is a form of gambling and therefore anathema to Islaamic believers.

Ninety-two percent of the hospital’s employees own automobiles, and as required by state law, carry liability insurance on their vehicles. Seventy-one percent have some form of life insurance.

The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States provides: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

On February 8, 2012, Mustashfa Islaam’s Board of Directors voted unanimously to oppose the mandate of the Department of Health and Human Services, on two grounds: First, that it prohibits the free exercise of their religion by requiring the hospital to enable its employees to violate the tenets of the Muslim faith without expense, and Second, that by forcing the hospital to tolerate and even encourage its employees to violate their religious beliefs, the Congress has made a law respecting the establishment of religion, by approving and encouraging activities regarded as sinful in Islaamic theology, in effect legislating and mandating a different standard of morality than that which is recognized and observed by Muslims.

Counsel for the hospital will soon institute litigation in the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, challenging the Sebelius mandate.

Discuss and decide the case.

If you decide in favor of the Plaintiff’s, would a different result be justified if the cost of the coverages objected to were to be eliminated from the calculation of the health insurance premium?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


The Obama Administration has decreed that employers must provide health insurance to their employees which includes free birth control pills, abortifacient drugs and sterilization.

Doesn’t sit too well with the Catholic Church.

Timothy Michael Dolan, Archbishop of New York, and soon to be elevated to the rank of Cardinal, is the Chairman of the United States Conference of Bishops.

He asked Catholic Bishops to write to the people in their dioceses and express the concern of the church for first amendment freedom.

Visiting friends on Marco Island, I attended a 10:45 Mass that was standing room only. When the bishop’s letter was read, one fellow got up and left. Lucky for me. I took his seat.

The bishop’s letter was a strong defense of the first amendment right of freedom of religion. When the Deacon read the words, “we cannot, we will not comply with this unjust law” the congregation broke into applause.

Of course, lots of folks in America are up in arms about Obamacare.

The very idea that the federal government can force people to buy insurance runs contrary to our notions of freedom. To require that such mandatory insurance must contain provisions which offend the consciences of citizens and violate the tenets of their church adds insult to injury.

Archbishop Timothy Broglio, who heads the Archdiocese of the Military Services, is one of the many American bishops who issued pastoral letters protesting the Obama administration’s mandate.

But his letter didn’t get read in the army chapels. The Army’s Office of Chief of Chaplains nixed it, sending an email to senior chaplains directing that they merely mention the letter and allowing copies to be distributed after Mass.

So now freedom of speech goes in the tank along with freedom of religion.

T. H. White in his Arthurian allegory, Once and Future King describes a colony of ants living on a rock into which they had burrowed a mass of tunnels. Over the entrance of each tunnel was posted the warning: Whatever Is Not Compulsory Is Prohibited.

That phrase, or some version of it, has become a kind of short hand definition of the political system known as totalitarianism.

Big word, but nothing new. Totalitarianism has been around as long as mankind. It is very simply a form of government in which one person is the absolute ruler. Unlike monarchy, where the power stays in the family, totalitarian rulers come to power and stay in power by a process of assertion and acquiescence.

When we were kids, we called it “King of the Castle.” You pushed everyone else off the bed, then chanted, “I’m the King of the castle and you’re the dirty rascal.”

The rascals would get together and depose the king and someone else would start the chant.

Sort of like what’s going on in Lybia, Egypt and Syria.

And in the United States. We call it the Presidential election. Used to be we had a presidential election every leap year. Now we have ‘election cycles’ which start the day after the last election.

Used to be we were a constitutional republic. The consent of the people was given in writing. The constitution, in the words of George Washington, was the explicit and authoritative act of the whole people.

Lincoln spoke of government of the people, by the people and for the people not of, by and for the majority.

We’re told that the majority of Americans, even of Catholics, use birth control.

And therefore, we shall all pay for it. The President and his army have said so.

And he is, after all, the King of the Castle, isn’t he?