Friday, January 29, 2016

Houston Grand Jury Indictment: When Consequentialism Backfires

David R. Daleiden. (Source: Urban Christian News.)
People who have never read Vom Krieg often know Carl Philipp Gottfried von Clausewitz's most famous dictum, "War is the continuation of politics by other means." The indictment of David R. Daleiden and Sandra S. Merritt on charges of tampering with a government record "with intent to defraud" — a penalty that carries with it a 20-year maximum sentence — and a misdemeanor attempt to purchase human organs is further proof, if we needed it, that in America jurisprudence is another means.

Daleiden and Merritt are central figures in the Center for Medical Progress' "sting videos", in which mid-level Planned Parenthood employees discuss the compensated harvesting and sale of fetal organ tissue for medical research. Until now, the abortion provider has traded on the fact that the pro-abortion rank and file, not to mention the American "mushy middle" that's against abortion "for myself", is unwilling to watch any of the full-length video clips, allowing PP and the militant pro-aborts to claim that the shorter "good parts" clips are deliberate misrepresentations.

According to California lawyer Donald R. McClarey, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) urged Harris County prosecutor Devon Anderson (R) to prosecute Planned Parenthood based on one of CMP's clips (probably either this one or this one). [Full disclosure: while Donald and I are barely acquainted with each other, he's a fellow Catholic Stand writer.] During her 2014 campaign, Anderson sold herself to the Texas GOP as a "proud pro-life mother of two". On the surface, then, it appeared that CMP and the pro-life movement had some chance for success.

But this isn't the first case against an abortion provider that Anderson's office has fumbled.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Catholic Stand: How Should We Honor Our Elderly Parents?

In response to Dr. Denise Hunnell’s December 29, 2015 Catholic Stand post, “Family Life as ‘Domestic Pilgrimage’”, a loyal reader brought up a question in regards to the Fourth Commandment, “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you” (Exodus 20:12; cf. Deuteronomy 5:16):

I have yet to hear, never mind expounded upon, what would constitute a mortal sin in a family context setting. In today’s mobile society where siblings leave for far-away places seldom to return, is talking to one’s parents (or siblings) less than a week a year the kind of DIS-honor God envisioned when He placed that omission on the top ten? Would continuing to live one’s own life thousands of miles away while an aging parent or sibling slips the bonds of life in a medical setting or at home constitute a mortal or grievous sin, and should such a family member be denied Communion for acting this way? After all, it is very similar to divorce when you think about it.

This is a topic that touches me personally. Since 1994, I’ve devoted a good chunk of my life and time to taking care of physically disabled family members — first my younger brother (who passed away in 2011), and now my mother. Both my other siblings pitch in as well, to the extent they’re able. Between the three of us, we’re doing what we can to make sure our mother’s final years are lived in comfort and company.

But before we can attempt to answer our loyal reader’s question, we should first ask ourselves, “How does the Catholic Church understand the Fourth Commandment?” Before we can ask whether the situations the reader describe constitute dishonor, we need to know what’s meant by honor.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Ponderings on Powerball, Probability, and Poverty

Yes, there is. A mighty slim one, but still a chance.
So, have you bought your chance to be an instant member of the “one percent”, courtesy of Powerball and your fellow greedy, gullible Americans? I have. I’m worse than greedy and gullible — I know a little about probability math and finance, too. If I knew more, I’d be the worst: a trader in derivatives, the triumph of faith in mathematics overcoming common sense.

A friend of mine posted on Facebook, “I’m not a math person at all, but I was explaining to [her partner] that the odds of winning get lower as the powerball amount gets higher. What would I do if I won (assuming I bought a ticket)? Ruin my perfect life.” She explained:

Years ago I had an AA sponsor who told me that scarcity is a mindset characteristic of addiction. They have to grab as much as they can in case it dries up. They don’t trust that there is plenty. It doesn’t seem healthy for the whole country to be fantasizing about their epic dream binge. There’s bankruptcies, paycheck advance usury, blacks stuck in jail because they can’t pay traffic tickets, subprime car loans you need to get to work that doesn’t pay enough to cover the bills. And the shrinking middle class, of course [what comprises the “middle class”?]. I’m not good at the math, but I can see society is psychologically sick to get off on a game like powerball.

My friend’s wrong about the odds, precisely because she’s not a math person. As for the rest of it ... later we’ll talk.