“Why America needs to confront the Vatican”

@ the site, churchandstate.org.uk, they have reposted some parts of Dr Stephen D Mumford’s book, “American Democracy and the Vatican”. The book was first published in 1984 during the Reagan administration. In it, Mumford describes how the Vatican – the Catholic establishment – worked to influence public policy and public opinion. For example, prior to Reagan, people were becoming more aware and concerned about global overpopulation. During Reagan’s term, that all came to an end – along with concern for the environment and concern for women’s equality (the Equal Right’s Amendment was defeated in 1982).

A few paragraphs:

If the stakes are high for the Church as an institution, they are critical for all nations and people, including Americans. That world popula­tion growth poses a serious security threat has been well established.[2] Under the Carter Administration, the National Security Council first acknowledged this threat,[3] which was subsequently reaffirmed.[4] The election of President Reagan has introduced an administration that is the most Catholic in American history. His first National Security Advisor, Richard Allen, a Catholic, halted within the Council further discussion of population growth as a national security threat. His second National Security Advisor, William Clark, a Catholic, announced that the Carter council had “erred” in this determination and that this “error” must be corrected. Reagan’s CIA director, William Casey, a Catholic, ignores any intelligence that would indicate that overpopulation is a security threat. Alexander Haig, a Catholic who was Reagan’s first secretary of state, supported the Carter council’s position on this issue but, according to Haig, was drummed out of office by his Catholic colleagues. His replacement, George Shultz, a Catholic, remains silent in this regard.

Margaret Heckler, a Catholic, as secretary of Housing and Human Services, is responsible for the U.S. government’s support of domestic family-planning services. She is both anti-abortion and supportive of the administration’s restrictions on family-planning services. Attor­ney-General William French Smith, a Catholic, is responsible for the Immigration and Naturalization Service and for the execution of U.S. immigration laws. The attorney-general has chosen to give little atten­tion to this responsibility and to ignore the fact that our bishops and thousands of clergy commit a felony every time they aid or abet an ille­gal alien (90 percent of our illegal aliens are Catholic). The mathe­matical odds of this arrangement happening by chance are fantastically low in this nation which is only 20 percent Catholic. The Church has managed to cover all key highest level positions that would be con­cerned with the population growth and security issue….

The successes of the Church have occurred despite a large unsatis­fied demand for family planning. Among countries studied by the World Fertility Survey, typically one-half of the fertile married women who want no more children are not using any method of contracep­tion. On the Indian subcontinent these levels exceed 90 percent. As a rule, one-third to one-half of those interviewed reported that their last child was unwanted.[7] Worldwide, more than two in three women at risk of pregnancy (about 450 million out of 670 million women) lack access to modem contraceptive methods.

The decline of the world population growth control effort of the past couple of years has coincided with the activities of Pope John Paul II and his Vatican. Virtually every American is familiar with his position on family planning and population growth control: “The will of God and the law of reason demand an unrelenting fight against immoral contraception.” His position has been well covered by the American press. It is indeed unfortunate that the actions of the Vatican to intervene in our national affairs have not been equally publicized. This silence of the American press has given the Vatican enormous power to undermine family planning worldwide. The Church is completely candid about its implorable opposition to birth control and professes that it will do everything possible to accomplish its purposes.

The Vatican has called on its bishops, all of whom are completely loyal (though they may appear at certain moments to be otherwise) to thwart efforts for population growth control. The Church, through its two thousand years of experience, has learned that responsiveness to the chain of command in this truly monolithic organization can best be guaranteed by selecting persons for leadership positions who have an intense lust for power….

________________________________________________________________________

On the one hand, this could read as a bigoted opinion. People are supposed to be tolerant of other’s religions, etc. The problem in that the Catholic religion is extremely powerful and adversely affects many inside and outside of their religion.

I have problems with their insistence on the superiority of men, and the adverse long-term effects on the planet of their anti-birth-control stance.

War on Sex & BIrth Control = War on Women

This – mostly Catholic – but also Fundamentalist – idea that women should not have access to birth control as part of their health insurance and that women should be harassed if they want to get an abortion is anti-sex and anti-women. The message is essentially the old Original Sin thing.

The idea that sex is bad and that women are responsible for every ‘bad’ thing  – esp. for men’s “passions” – the temptresses, etc. is so archaic. If the church put it in those terms – and came out and said they thought sex is ‘bad’ – most people wound not accept it. But to say that birth control is evil – even for married people is essentially to say that married people should not be having sex. And here I thought when conservatives wanted to teach abstinence in schools that they were talking about BEFORE marriage – not ones entire life – including marriage.

If couples do the suggested Catholic method – (avoiding sex around the time of ovulation – to avoid pregnancy) then they are not having sex when women are the most likely to enjoy it. For men – it doesn’t matter – they don’t have monthly cycles and ups and downs. So it’s mostly a problem for women – it’s a matter of saying that women shouldn’t expect to enjoy sex. Although men enjoy sex more when women enjoy sex.

It is all so absurd – the idea that sex is bad – that ‘passions’ are sinful. For Pete’s sake – sex is how life continues. I cannot reconcile the idea that sex is bad – but life is good. Life is good and sex is good – or at least sex can be good. Sex is a lot better when women are allowed to have agency and control over their bodies. Sex is bad when men expect to control women and have no sense about women’s feelings. Sex is bad when men think that it is all about them.

It’s odd when priests can’t let go of the idea of controlling women sexually – including being consumed with being anti-abortion & anti-birth-control.

Nobody in their right mind (at least nobody who enjoys sex) could think that it is reasonable for adults who enjoy sex to NOT use birth control…. and/or to think that people are going to spend their entire adult lives only having sex when women are NOT aroused (except for the 2 times when their children are conceived). It’s delusional, non-rational, and basically insane.

Patrinazis Vs. Feminists

This is how I see the Limbaugh Vs. Fluke rivalry. I expect that this is how Limbaugh, Santorum, Romney, Issa, and the rest would like us to see it (without the the Nazi part) – the restoration and elevation of Patriarchal values. They obviously think that patriarchal values are God’s gift to the world – which is no doubt how they see themselves. They would not dare suggest that this is about obnoxious men who like to see men dominate and control women’s bodies and lives – and to give men an advantage in work and with money.

Limbaugh has worked diligently to put women down – especially women who work to assert their rights. Anyone paying the slightest bit of attention to him knows this. He likes to refer to feminists as Feminazis. Feminists are not trying to force their power over others – but merely to claim it for themselves. So the nazi suffix to feminist is simply an absurdity. (Santorum brushed off Limbaugh’s remarks about Fluke as being “absurd”/ “entertainment”.

The thing about Nazis is that they did force their power over others – and it was white, male authoritarian power – based on Christian ideas. Hitler was raised as a Christian and while whether or not he was a Christian later in life is debated – he used Christian ideas to support his case. Hitler’s ideal that he was trying to establish was a Patriarchal, Thomas Kincadian, view of the world. He wanted to get rid of everything and everyone who did not fit his idealized patriarchal ideal. That included liberals, intellectuals, homosexuals, gypsies, Jews and physically handicapped and mentally ill people.

The Nazi regime was against the idea of helping anyone out who needed it such as those persons in nursing homes and asylums. Germans were encouraged to see them as a drag on society. They Nazis started with forced sterilizations and moved on to euthanasia once the war got going. (I included that because that is the attitude of many Republicans I know – the not wanting to help anyone – ignoring the fact that not everyone is self-sufficent).

(I didn’t intend to write about Nazis today, but Limbaugh’s reference to feminazis and my thinking about patriarchalism got me around to it).

The Nazis were also against abortion – but their argument against it was for the male dominated family. (Which is probably what Republicans are mostly after). Steinem noted: “Under Hitler, choosing abortion became sabotage; a crime punishable by hard labor for the woman and a possible death penalty for the abortionist.”

Recently this was quoted in an article on Alternet (and Truth-Out) by Mike Lofgren – A Conservative Explains Why Right-Wingers Have No Compassion

The preservation of the family with many children is a matter of biological concept and national feeling. The family with many children must be preserved … because it is a highly valuable, indispensable part of the … nation. Valuable and indispensable not only because it alone guarantees the maintenance of the population in the future but because it is the strongest basis of national morality and national culture … The preservation of this family form is a necessity of national and cultural politics … This concept is strictly at variance with the demands for an abolition of paragraph 218; it considers unborn life as sacrosanct. For the legalization of abortion is at variance with the function of the family, which is to produce children and would lead to the definite destruction of the family with many children.

So wrote the Völkischer Beobachter of October 14, 1931.

[The Völkischer Beobachter (“Völkisch Observer”) was the newspaper of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP or Nazi Party) from 1920. It first appeared weekly, then daily from 8 February 1923. For twenty-five years it formed part of the official public face of the Nazi party.] – note from wikipedia

From uspolitics.about.com:

Abortion has existed in almost every society…Today, almost two-thirds of the women in the world may obtain a legal abortion.When America was founded, abortion was legal. Laws prohibiting abortion were introduced in the mid-1800s, and, by 1900, most had been outlawed….
As it happens – the mid-1800s was when the women’s rights movement was starting up.
Antiabortion legislation was part of an antifeminist backlash to the growing movements for suffrage, voluntary motherhood, and other women’s rights in the 19th century. From Feminist.com
So basically – it should be easy to see that to be anti-abortion is to be for control of women.
ANTI- abortion (and birth-control) = CONTROL of women = Patrinazis
The people who want to control women are the most Patriarchal of Churches and white men (and women) who have grown up with the idea that to control women is normal and they like the privileges and status the Patriarchy awards them. These men (and women) don’t really care about the truth – or in trying to see the world through other’s perspectives – they are happy with things as they are they don’t want changes to the status quo.
Feminists and women like Sandra Fluke who stand up for the rights of women present a challenge to their status quo and so the role of people like Rush Limbaugh is to do what he can to try denigrate, demean and demonize these women and what they stand for.
Sixty-seven percent of the people in the country have accepted that fact that at least in some instances, women should be allowed to choose to have an abortion.
And, of course, it’s not just abortion anymore that is under attack – but contraception in general. It is difficult to believe that as late as 1965 contraception was illegal even for married couples. The Eisenstadt v. Baird case in 1972 opened contraception up to unmarried couples as well.
So essentially, this has been accepted by most people for 40 years – but not by Rush Limbaugh, or Rick Santorum, or Mitt Romney.
Pope Paul VI in 1968 declared birth control to be evil in his Humanae Vitae (the following is from wikipedia):
Paul VI does not allow for arbitrary human decisions, which may limit divine providence…
Every action specifically intended to prevent procreation is forbidden, except in medically necessary circumstances. Therapeutic means necessary to cure diseases are exempted, even if a foreseeable impediment to procreation should result, but only if infertility is not directly intended. This includes both chemical and barrier methods of contraception. All these are held to directly contradict the “moral order which was established by God”. Abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, is absolutely forbidden, as is sterilization, even if temporary.
The acceptance of artificial methods of birth control is then claimed to result in several negative consequences, among them a “general lowering of moral standards” resulting from sex without consequences, and the danger that men may reduce women “to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of [their] own desires”; finally, abuse of power by public authorities, and a false sense of autonomy.
One thing that the Pope and others do not allow for is the satisfaction of women’s desires. Women are not expected to enjoy sex. With the rhythm method that the Catholic Church recommends and allows – since they consider it natural  – women have to have sex when they are least aroused – not when they are naturally aroused (when they are ovulating). So it’s not natural at all.
And the thing with Limbaugh and his insults is that he is trying to return women to the dungeons of the Dark Ages when women were supposed to pretend that they did not care for sex. Any woman who suggests that she does enjoy sex has to be roundly ridiculed and denounced. (Do these people have any idea of how ridiculous they sound??? ) Because in the Dark Ages (before 1972) only men could be sexual beings – men were (are) allowed to enjoy and boast about how many partners they have had. Whether the partners were willing or not is not the issue. Whether the partners got any enjoyment out of it or not is not the issue.
Honestly – I think that the Catholic Church, Limbaugh, and the likes of Santorum encourage homosexuality. For men – women are demeaned and thought of as unsexual. For women – men such as these present men as assholes who don’t think that women should have a sexual life (and who would want to control them at best). Plus – with homosexuality – one need not worry about birth control. Problem solved.

Rapists & Victims

Rick Santorum thinks that rape victims who become pregnant should have to “make the best of” it. That resulting children should be seen as “gifts from God”.

And sure, if any woman wants to think that – they are welcome to. That would, of course, be a religious point of view – not one that any woman should be expected or required to share.

To me – it is like saying that the rapist represents “God”. A person has to have an awfully obnoxious view of “God” to think of rapist’s sperm as “gifts from God”. I think any Goddess would say – that there are plenty more sperm in the world – we need not be sanctifying the rapist’s sperm as if is so precious, as if its loss would be missed.

The Pope and the Catholic church’s official stand is that abortion is always wrong and that pregnant women should die before an abortion would be performed. Their “logic” is that once you say that abortion is bad, it is always bad. (Nun’s have been excommunicated for saving women’s lives in such situations – see this).

These ideas are clearly fucked up.

It gives rapists more rights over the woman’s body than she has for her own self. That is clearly wrong.

If you want to make a stance and stick with it across situations – then the LOGICAL one is that woman are legally in control of their body. PERIOD. While a rapist may violate it temporarily – he should not be able to do so permanently. While a fetus may inhabit a woman’s body temporarily, it is the woman’s mind and body that should ALWAYS have precedence over any bodies that are trying to grow inside of her. Because she has been born already and as a living person has rights; because fetuses are not worth anything without her.

Of course – this concept is the law of the land. Framed as the right to privacy, guaranteed by the US constitution, it is known as Roe Vs. Wade – the law that upholds women’s rights.

There are women (whom I know and am related to) who think that the Pope and the Catholic Church (and presumably Santorum) are FOR women’s rights. But it is as clear as clear can be to me that there are NO women’s rights when women cannot have the legal say over whether she will or will not become or continue to be pregnant. Especially in cases of rape.

And the only person who has a right to decide if she was raped – has to be the woman herself. Not Rick Santorum, nor any judge, nor the Pope, or ANYONE else. Only her. Many men would say that a woman was not raped – she was merely coerced. Or whatever. There is too much possible nonsense for that.

Nor should she have to prove, as women did in the past – prior to Roe v Wade – that she would suffer from psychological damages. The woman should get to decide. And that is that.

All of these laws that Republicans are trying to implement to erode Roe v Wade (vaginal probes before abortions, etc., ad nauseum) are attempts to erode woman’s rights plain and simple, and should be described as such. It is mostly men who would take away from women the right to decide – without being harassed – the choices she will make for herself, for her future, for any future children she may have. And yes – that also means that any men in her life will have to live with the results of her decisions.

And then there is birth control, itself – a topic for another day.

Sandra Fluke’s Statement

The Testimony Chairman Issa (and RL) Doesn’t Want You to Hear

Sandra Fluke was blocked from testifying on the topic of the contraception compromise of the Obama administration.

Basically, the Catholic Bishop Lobby has been working on making Catholic hospitals and other Catholic businesses exempt from covering birth control pills. The essence of the compromise was that it does not cost the Catholic businesses anything if the health insurance plan includes birth control pills because the plans would have to cost more without them (because they would be covering post conception issues).

The Catholic Bishop Lobby, along with the Congressional Republicans are working very hard to limit women’s rights – so the issue here is not about the money but about the control. The Conservative frame is that the poor Catholics are having to fund something that is against their “faith”. But how can they be funding something if it costs less (HA!)

Conservatives would rather twist into pretzels than admit that this issue is about men controlling women. The Catholic church with their all male rulers seem to think that they should control the government like they did in the ‘good old days’. The Church is founded on the disdain for sex and disdain for women. Their leaders don’t have anything to do with women (sexually) – and they seem to like it like that – they seem to think that that gives them power. As if, women, by association would weaken them.

I think that we may need a new church – one that includes the premise that sex is normal (so long as it is between consenting adults). What a concept. Then it would be more obvious an argument to say that the Catholic Church/Republicans are infringing on the women’s religious freedom. The Church/Republicans seem to think that religious freedom trumps even the rights of one’s bodily integrity – one’s actual self.

Props to Sandra Fluke and the group that she is associated with – Law Students for Reproductive Justice. I added the group and their blog to my blogroll.

Rush Limbaugh Makes Me Sick

Media Matters “Rush Limbaugh Doubles Down on Insults”

Of course – I am sure he is happy about that -> making all sensible people in the country want to puke.

I would never listen to him (I did once or twice and that is enough – eckch) – seeing the quotes is bad enough.

It also makes me sick that he can make any money (let alone $20,000,000 or whatever) by hating and insulting women. He has been a leader in the War on Women for years / decades.

He is trying to use his power to lessen the power of women. To lessen the number of women who would try to stand up for their rights (which should be accepted by now).

What is with his ‘followers’? He is like the national bully. He encourages  and normalizes abusive attitudes toward women and minorities. Limbaugh’s popularity is a sad commentary on our country.

I wish people would wake up and notice the hate. It’s crazy how many of his ‘followers’ consider themselves to be religious and “good people” (I know some of these people). Guess what – good people don’t act like Limbaugh or think like Limbaugh. Good people don’t insult and mock people the way that he does. Good people don’t condone behavior such as Limbaugh’s and buy his hate-filled books.

Limbaugh Sponsors  (to boycott)

See also: Making a profit off of hating women, Rush Limbaugh and his corporate sponsors

What got me started

What really got me going was the Republicans having only men on the (first) panel of their anti-contraceptive coverage hearing. And their denial of women’s voices.

This issue is disturbing on many levels. It has also been disturbing that so many support this nonsense. Especially (some) women. I decided I needed an entire blog to flush it all out.

There are some who insist this is all a great distraction from the jobs/economics issues – but the issues are all connected.

Healthcare -> economics.

Birth-control -> economics.

Patriarchal religions -> misogyny -> economics.

Republicans (being anti-abortion) -> economics.

Republicans (being anti-birth-control) -> economics.

Corporate and religious influence on government (esp. Republicans) -> economics.

Republicans (insistence that the wealthy & corporations shouldn’t be taxed = no money for health or other services) -> economics.

The Republican idea that any group can opt out of paying any sort of health care need for their employees -> economics.

It’s difficult to know how much some of these characters have actually thought about the consequences or precipitators of their actions. For example – the economy is bad – so somewhere in their minds Republicans might get the idea that if women were not active in the job force then there would be more jobs for more men. Since most of the manufacturing jobs are being done in other countries – then if women were staying home pregnant and raising children – then the men could take their places.

If that was one of their reasons – it would be easy to point out that one low to middling paying job isn’t paying enough to live on anyway – for one thing. For another thing, a lot of families are single parent families with the mother being the single parent. A lot of times, the men walk away, hide assets / have jobs under the table. Some would rather not work that contribute to the economic well-being of their offspring. (I’ve heard many stories from people whose job it is to try to get these guys – mostly guys – to pay up).

There could be ways to fix that – for instance in Denmark, both parents, share 50/50 custody and responsibility. Of course that means both parents need have equal access to equally well-paying jobs. Both parents have to stick around and be present in their children’s lives. It requires more, not less equality. But here Republicans are working actively for women to have less equality.

It seems obvious that the Republicans are trying to take the culture back to when (heterosexual) women were dependent on men – across the board. The general consequences of women having less access to birth-control, to jobs, to healthcare – is a greater state of dependency and poverty for women and children.

Republicans seem to be banking on enough men having economic problems – that if women can be blamed in a side-door sort of way – then they will win the day. I would bet (partly based on past polls) that the people in favor of the Republican ideology are either working men who have the idea that the Republicans are going to empower them; and the already powerful men who want to keep their positions and improve on them. Many women who see themselves hanging onto and benefitting from the patriarchal system also often go along with this.

One of my theories about that is that these women see the world through the male gaze and not their own – so they don’t see that it could be better for them any other way.

Many, many women know that they like having more control over their lives and having more independence (even if they do like being married), than what women had 50 years ago. Before 2nd-wave feminism and easier access to reliable birth control methods, this was a different world. Those with better means had access to doctors and birth control methods, but birth control was illegal for unmarried women. For many women, many children meant a life of poverty. It was a different world.

It is completely unrealistic on so many levels to think that our country would be better off without reasonable access to birth-control. All of the myriad ways that some are putting up roadblocks is ridiculous, absurd, and annoying.

To the extent that we could put our minds and our efforts to better use than re-defending all this – it is a nonsensical distraction. But if people don’t understand this – they need to be educated some how or another. (It is a great discouragement that it is almost impossible to get through to these people, though. Yesterday Rush Limbaugh dished out to the masses the frame that Sandra Fluke (whom the Republicans denied access to speak at the hearing) must be a “slut” and a “prostitute” because she wants others to pay for her birth control. Some wankers will eat it up 😦

Her argument, for those who bothered to listen was that many women use birth control for health reasons besides preventing pregnancy. Personally, I think that having birth control as part of ones overall healthcare plan is perfectly reasonable, even if there were no other problems that the pills were helping with.

Much more later.