July 31, 2014

Wesley J. Smith: Obamacare Lives

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Source: National Review Online | Wesley J. Smith The people of the United States ensured an Obamacare future by apparently reelecting President Obama and maintaining a Democratic Senate. Here are the immediate consequences: 1. The IPAB will go into effect: As I have written, IPAB is the cornerstone of a planned bureaucratic state. The only way now to thwart that is pure obstructionism. First, by filibustering the nominations that President Obama will make to the Board. Not going to happen. Second, by defunding. Even though the House will stay Republican, I don’t see them taking that route on what, to most people, is an abstract issue. 2. The attack on religious freedom will continue: The Obama Administration is an implacable foe of faith operating outside the four walls of church or cloister. Don’t look for the president to offer religious institutions who oppose the free birth control rule anything other than lip service to accommodation of religious institutions. Businesses will … [Read more...]

Wesley J. Smith: Freedom of Worship’s Assault on Freedom of Religion

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- From the essay: Freedom of religion means the right to live according to one’s own faith, that is, to “manifest” our religion or belief in practice, both “in public or private,” without interference from the state. Strident secularism is on the march and freedom of religion is the target, with secularist warriors attempting to drive religious practice behind closed doors by redefining religious liberty down to a hyper-restricted, “freedom of worship.” Source: First Things On the Square | By Wesley J. Smith Until very recently, the West saw religious liberty as a weight-bearing pillar of human freedom. Thus, the very first clause of the First Amendment (1789) states, Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. More broadly, Article 18 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) provides: Everyone has the right to freedom of … [Read more...]

Obamacare Ruling Reflects Technocratic Imperative

Wesley J. Smith

Why is anyone surprised? Obamacare was never going to be overturned. Not that it is constitutional, as the Constitution was originally conceived. It surely isn’t. But that Constitution has been terminally ill for a long time. Now it is dead. Why would the Supreme Court’s conservative chief justice rewrite the individual mandate’s penalty to be a tax, when the law’s authors unequivocally stated it was not a revenue generator during the legislative process? Let’s call it the “technocratic imperative” — faith in big government solutions for societal problems — a mindset that generates a far stronger gravitational pull than the standard conservative/liberal paradigm. The technocratic imperative is why, when push comes to shove, conservative judges almost always move “left” and liberal judges almost never move “right.” The case was always about two contrasting approaches to law and government. Opponents of Obamacare mounted a legal challenge to the individual mandate. They argued that the … [Read more...]

Wesley J. Smith: A Dark Mirror on Society

Wesley J. Smith

Source: The Corner The death of Jack Kevorkian by natural causes has a certain irony, but it is not surprising. His driving motive was always obsession with death. Indeed, as he described in his book Prescription Medicide, Kevorkian’s overriding purpose in his assisted-suicide campaign was pure quackery, e.g., to obtain a societal license to engage in what he called “obitiatry,” that is, the right to experiment on the brains and spinal cords of “living human bodies” being euthanized to “pinpoint the exact onset of extinction of an unknown cognitive mechanism that energizes life.” So, now that he is gone, what is Kevorkian’s legacy? He assisted the suicides of 130 or so people and lethally injected at least two by his own admission (his first and his last); as a consequence of the latter, he served nearly ten years in prison for murder. But I think his more important place in contemporary history was as a dark mirror that reflected … [Read more...]

Wesley J. Smith: Of Embryonic Stem Cell Research, Politics, and the Rule of Law

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Source: First Things The Center for Bioethics and Culture asked me to expand upon comments I have made here noting that the politics of ESCR seem to have the power to supersede the rule of law. Not being the shy and retiring type, I immediately agreed.  The result is now out.  From “Embryonic Stem Cell Research Versus the Rule of Law:” First, let’s consider an ongoing case in the USA, in which two adult stem cell researchers sued to enjoin federal funding of human ESCR because, they claim, doing so violates the Dickey-Wicker Amendment. Dickey-Wicker, a government rider to the budgetary process, has been passed by every Congress and signed by every president since 1996. Its terms explicitly preclude the Feds from paying to create embryos for use in experiments, or for research that destroys embryos. Thus, the outcome of the researchers’ lawsuit should be decided based on the facts of how embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) is performed … [Read more...]

Fr. George Calciu: First Century Christian in the Twentieth Century

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Wesley J. Smith is a frequent commentator on the AOI Observer. Source: First Things | Wesley J. Smith Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. I had no idea. To be more precise, before I converted to Eastern Orthodoxy, I knew that the Orthodox Church had been harshly suppressed by the communists, but I had no idea that the cruelty of persecution often equaled that inflicted on the early church. Father George Calciu (1925–2006) was one such sufferer for Christ. A Romanian by birth, an Orthodox Christian by upbringing, and a priest by vocation, Calciu spent a total of twenty-one brutal years in prison—tortured and subjected to brainwashing—for his outspoken evangelism and criticism of communist materialism. Fr. George’s remarkable story of faith and courage is vividly told in the exemplary book, Father George Calciu: Interviews, Homilies, and Talks. The book is primarily a first … [Read more...]

Wesley J. Smith: The Disturbing Rehabilitation of Dr. Kevorkian

Wesley J. Smith

By Wesley J. Smith | Source: The Corner When Jack Kevorkian came to the nation’s attention in the 1990s, reporters at first depicted him — correctly — as a macabre and megalomaniacal promoter of death. But he was remade into a popular icon, becoming a pet guest on 60 Minutes, treated to uncharacteristically softball interviews by Mike Wallace and fawned over by Andy Rooney, and then declared by Time magazine to be one of the major “celebrities” of the 1990s. Time even invited him to their 75th anniversary gala as a star guest. You knew the world was spinning the wrong way when Tom Cruise rushed up to shake his hand. Now, more than ten years later, Kevorkian is out of the pen and having a ball after serving time for the second-degree murder of Thomas Youk. It is important to understand why he was convicted: Youk had Lou Gehrig’s disease and Kevorkian lethally injected him—and videotaped the deed for posterity. The body was barely cold before … [Read more...]

Medicare Counseling Reg Not a Death Panel: But Health Care Rationing a Clear and Present Danger

Wesley J. Smith

Much is being made throughout the blogosphere and on talk radio about the new Medicare regulation that compensates physicians for discussing end of life options with their patients. As I said yesterday over at The Corner, these are not “death panels.” … [Read more...]

Wesley J. Smith: Peter Singer Says Full Moral Status Not Earned by Babies “Until After 2 Years”

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Dostoevsky: When men stop believing in God, they will believe anything. I was alerted by Nat Hentoff about an assertion made by Peter Singer–as reported in the Catholic Eye–at a Princeton conference around the abortion question, in which he claims that human beings don’t possess full moral status until after the age of two. I checked it out for myself. Yup. From my transcription of Panel II on 10/15/10 (press “Event Videos,” 20101015-panel two, to link to access streamed session): Q (beginning at 1:25:22): When discussing at which point after birth we would give full moral status, you gave…a legal or public policy point about practicality… Forgetting the practical or public policy questions, if a person is a self aware individual and self awareness isn’t conferred by birth, and we use mirror tests to determine self awarness…at what point do you think an infant would pass the mirror test and therefore be self aware and be considered a person. Singer (beginning at … [Read more...]

Bioethicist Teaches Doctor to “Think Bioethically”

Over at Second Hand Smoke, a secret camera filmed a conversation between a bioethicist and a doctor about how “thinking bioethically” means it is okay to kill babies. … [Read more...]

Some thoughts on the Wesley J. Smith lecture at St. Tikhon’s Seminary

I listened to Wesley J. Smith's lecture a few days ago and have been thinking about it ever since (listen to it here). Some thoughts in no particular order: 1. It is very good that St. Tikhon's invited Smith to speak for several reasons. First it introduces the seminarians to the concrete questions debated in the larger culture and thus the hospitals, nursing homes, and hospices where end of life decisions are made. They will be called on to consult with families to help make these decisions and must be able to recognize the ideas behind the differing opinions that health care professionals offer in these situations. … [Read more...]

Wesley Smith on Peter Singer

From First Thoughts by Wesley J. Smith: Peter Singer Sympathetic to Human Extinction as Way of Avoiding Suffering Peter Singer blogs at the New York Times about a new book (Better Never to Have Been: The Harm of Coming Into Existence, by David Benetar) that apparently advocates human extinction as a way of preventing human suffering. Singer doesn’t agree, but is clearly sympathetic. From Singer’s post: I do think it would be wrong to choose the non-sentient universe. In my judgment, for most people, life is worth living. Even if that is not yet the case, I am enough of an optimist to believe that, should humans survive for another century or two, we will learn from our past mistakes and bring about a world in which there is far less suffering than there is now. But justifying that choice forces us to reconsider the deep issues with which I began. Is life worth living? Are the interests of a future child a reason for bringing that child into … [Read more...]