TRUE COMPASSION, OR PLAYING FAVORITES?

The biggest news story this week was about Miley Cyrus ending her engagement to whatever nonentity she had been dragging around. Oooooops! I guess that honor really goes to the election for the latest pope, now called Pope Francis

Personally I have about as much interest in who is pope as I do in who serves as treasurer for the city of Zelienople. I won’t go into the whys and wherefores of that willful disinterest as I’ve already been accused of having hate coursing through my veins due to it. Suffice it to say that, as a non-Catholic, whatever he does is entirely unlikely to have the least little influence on my life.

Another notable news item in the past day or so was the announcement by Senator Rob Portman (R.-Ohio) that he now supports gay marriage, the only GOP Senator to take such a public stand. It turns out he has a personal reason for doing so in that he learned a year or so ago that his son is gay. Thus Portman was able to see the essential humanity involved noting that gays should be able to enjoy just such a stable and happy and prosperous marriage as he and his wife have had for over twenty years.

Young Miley aside, I do see a connection between these latter two tales.

Pope Francis, from Argentina, has been hailed as a champion of social justice, dedicated to eliminating poverty. Yet it is abundantly clear that no one should expect any alteration of his views on contraception and gay marriage. (He’s agin ’em!)

To my way of thinking not only are access to contraception and the ability to marry…gay or straight…a matter of social justice, in many ways the existence of poverty is inextricably woven into these sexual issues.

In November of 2010 a startling revelation was that Pope Benedict had given at least some approval for the use of condoms in fighting AIDS, particularly in Africa, where the disease runs rampant. Yet there is some ambiguity present which gives pause to the notion that this form of contraception has been given blanket approval.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/24/world/europe/24pope.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

In Africa with the AIDS epidemic it is difficult to fight poverty. As a report from the UN notes:

The economic impact of HIV/AIDS presents huge challenges. While the causality between poverty and HIV is not clear, it is certain that HIV pushes households and individuals into poverty. While many illnesses create catastrophic expenditures which can result in poverty, HIV/AIDS is among the worst because its victims are ill for a prolonged period of time before they die, and many are the chief household income earners.

http://www.un.org/wcm/content/site/chronicle/home/archive/issues2011/hivaidsthefourthdecade/impactofhivaidsoneducationandpoverty

So while Pope Francis will…we are told…use the influence and power of the Catholic Church to fight poverty and serve the “people”, what good will that do if he does not recognize and support the basic humanity of people regardless of sexual orientation and help poor people have the means to not only prevent the horrible destruction of HIV-AIDS but to give them a chance to escape the poverty that results from too many babies they are unable to care for.

He cannot be a true seeker of social justice if he picks and chooses like this.

Likewise Portman is perfectly content to allow gay marriage, but only because HIS son is gay. What if his son were not? He would still be maintaining his prior stance opposing such unions.

Matthew Yglesias of Slate views this conversion thusly:

I’m glad that Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio has reconsidered his view on gay marriage upon realization that his son is gay, but I also find this particular window into moderation—memorably dubbed Miss America conservatism by Mark Schmitt—to be the most annoying form.

Remember when Sarah Palin was running for vice president on a platform of tax cuts and reduced spending? But there was one form of domestic social spending she liked to champion? Spending on disabled children? Because she had a disabled child personally? Yet somehow her personal experience with disability didn’t lead her to any conclusions about the millions of mothers simply struggling to raise children in conditions of general poorness. Rob Portman doesn’t have a son with a pre-existing medical condition who’s locked out of the health insurance market. Rob Portman doesn’t have a son engaged in peasant agriculture whose livelihood is likely to be wiped out by climate change. Rob Portman doesn’t have a son who’ll be malnourished if SNAP benefits are cut. So Rob Portman doesn’t care.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2013/03/15/rob_portman_and_the_politics_of_narcissism.html

So I guess this indicates Portman cannot visualize about or empathize with the woes that beset so many millions of families unless someone close to him shares these woes. Are not the people receiving “entitlements” or lacking health coverage, etc. deserving of the same compassion and rational thought and analysis as Portman applied to gays due to his son?

Again this is where the one in power is playing favorites and not applying his alleged compassionate principles equally across the board.

At least in Portman’s case there is at least some chance this selectivity will benefit Americans.

As for Miley I suggest Match.com.

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Comments

  • Devildog  On March 16, 2013 at 1:23 PM

    A quick comment as I have other things to do (not necessarily, of course, more important).

    UMOC’s comments and Yglesias’ “views” demonstrate a total misunderstanding of the views of those “evil” Republicans/conservatives-as I have alluded to in the past. Apparently, you people cannot get it through your heads that we “care” about helping people who cannot help themselves but our idea about how to “help” them may be different than yours. We are not evil.

    Oliver Wendell Holmes said many years ago that three generations of imbeciles are enough (or something like that). I ask whether almost 50 years of the “Great Society” might not suggest a new/different approach is needed, other than throwing more money at the problem, considering what would seem to be a failure in so many respects.

    • umoc193  On March 16, 2013 at 5:10 PM

      There is a whale of difference between claiming to empathize with the poor and taking active steps to harm them such as destroying the safety net as Portman and others seek to do with their legislative actions. When one’s entire agenda is geared towards providing more for the non-job creators who already have much and have failed to serve the nation with all they have already been given, that is just plain wrong.

  • Anonymous  On March 16, 2013 at 1:45 PM

    In the matter of the Church, your complaint,distilled,seems to be ‘if you aren’t fighting my way you aren’t fighting at all’ nothing new that’s at the crux of the cultural dispute. No doubt we would hAve less mouths to feed with contraception,abortion,euthenasia or civil war but not all of these things are what we accept or hope for. We work for a positive result within the framework of our beliefs, others would do well to join in as well.

    As for the congressman, like most of us his experience influences his beliefs. Untold numbers of folk singing idiots have told us that we must walk a mile in another’s shoes, now must we shop at their shoe store as well?

    • Devildog  On March 16, 2013 at 5:51 PM

      Well, Anonymous, I am not a Christian much less a Catholic but I understand and respect your point of view. But, no matter how well it was written, it is UMOC’s response to both you and me that says it all. It’s his way or the highway. He is the true compassionate one. He knows the true and effective way, the only way (to help the “downtrodden”).

      Your beliefs and my ideas are …(someonek else can fill in the blanks).” UMOC, thanks so much for demonstrating so clearly what I have been trying to say not nearly as well. An,d, unfortunately, you have a lot (too much) company.

  • Anonymous  On March 16, 2013 at 2:11 PM

    Well, I tried to comment from my new Ipod, but it doesn’t seem to have worked.

    First, as to the Pope and the Church, others would do well to emulate their charitable works, but perhaps find it more amusing, I suppose, to criticize our misogynistic and outdated ways. Like others, we hold beliefs as to right and wrong, and in our case we work toward social improvement within the framework of our beliefs. The number of mouths to feed can obviously be reduced by contraception and I suppose by abortion, euthanasia, civil war, plague, any number of things, many of which each of us would find undesirable or unacceptable. Again, we work within the framework of our beliefs.

    As to the Congressman, we have been told by countless hordes of liberals, campfire girls and unspecified do-gooders that we must walk in another man’s (woman’s, child,s, alien,s, household pet’s) shoes (moccasins,pods, paws) and now we come to learn that we must also shop at the same shoe store and buy all the same things? As a person of faith, I am often criticized for thinking that I know “the way” and it’s the only way….yet here what do we find ? Well,,,harumph harumph, he may have pleased me with his result, but he didn’t please me with his path.

    Well, okay.

    • umoc193  On March 16, 2013 at 5:05 PM

      My point here is not that there is anything wrong with the new pope wantung to fight poverty or Portman supporting his son, but that true compassion has no bounds. With the pope that means his desire to help the poor is limited by his own narrow-mindedness in other areas on other issues that affect the poor.

      With Portman he was only willing to look at the innate humanity impacted by his previous anti-gay stance when he learned his son is gay. Yet his major political stances reveal a lack of compassion for humanity outside this one segment.

      I have compassion for, as do millions of others, the downtrodden and afflicted and discriminated against whether I myself share their circumstance or have a close friend or family member who does. That doesn’t make me a saint but it does signify I can empathize with the many who merit that empathy with nothing at stake for me or mine.

  • Tourist  On March 16, 2013 at 7:48 PM

    UMOC, you say: “Personally I have about as much interest in who is pope as I do in who serves as treasurer for the city of Zelienople . . . . Suffice it to say that, as a non-Catholic, whatever he does is entirely unlikely to have the least little influence on my life.”

    And then you criticize Senator Portman for the same attitude – rightly, in that case.

    “Doesn’t affect me” boils down to the right’s argument that the market will properly decide everything if we would each just seek to maximize our utility – attend to what affects us – like they do in the jungle.

    The Pope is important to 1.2 billion Catholics and they certainly have the ability to affect me. That’s easy and that isn’t it. The Pope is the Pope on the planet I live on. Similarly, the Dalai Lama, the Queen of England, each year’s winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and the presidents of the United States and Iran. They are all part of how the world behaves. I have great interest.

    • Devildog  On March 16, 2013 at 8:25 PM

      And now we have another anti-right chirp, this time from my friend Tourist. Right on Tourist, implying that “the right” attitude is “doesn’t affect me”. Try this on for size concerning helping the downtrodden-keep what works, either modify or discard what doesn’t, be innovative and “progressive” and throwing money at a problem isn’t always the answer.

  • Wayne Muller  On March 16, 2013 at 8:20 PM

    “true compassion has no bounds”

    That’s not so, at least in the manner that it is framed in this discussion.

    True compassion exists within the framework of morality, or at least it should. We should not, for instance, make others suffer so that we can be more compassionate with our friends or children. It would be wrong to steal from our neighbors to give to others. It is wrong, in my own opinion, obviously, to kill the poor persons child in the womb to prevent another mouth in need of feeding.

    If you truly want to see the poor fed and clothed, then you will rejoice with the Church when we do. If the goal, however, is to see the poor fed as part of the agenda of something that might be larger to you, a social or political agenda for instance, then we will not be able to please you. We have beliefs as to right and wrong, and these beliefs are what we must cling to in and out of season, with or without approval. If that leaves us as the counterculture, then it does, but if we allow ourselves to be co-opted by the culture, then we are simply salt that has lost it’s taste.

  • Wayne Muller  On March 16, 2013 at 8:21 PM

    Oh, sorry, logging in has proven a challenge for whatever reason. I am the anonymous poster from above.

  • Mugsy  On March 16, 2013 at 8:23 PM

    There, now I’m logged in I guess. Jeesh. Anonomous=wayne muller=mugsy

  • Tourist  On March 16, 2013 at 8:46 PM

    Comrade Devildog, my man!

    “. . . keep what works, either modify or discard what doesn’t, be innovative and ‘progressive’ and throwing money at a problem isn’t always the answer.”

    You surely won’t be surprised that I agree with all of that. Two little things: (1) You have to be doing something in order to make corrections to it. You have to roll up your sleeves and try to minimize the starving and dying in the streets before you have it all worked out on paper. (2) In the Bible it was the Flood. Today it’s the tea party that wants to start from scratch.

    • Devildog  On March 16, 2013 at 10:41 PM

      Yes, Tourist, the problem is the Tea Party. Before it was the neocons. It’s not beneath others but it is beneath you to assert that if only this group or that group didn’t exist what a wonderful world/country this would be.

      You have it ass-backwards. Progressives-you’ve gotta be kidding. You can be lemming-like to the media and believe in the party of no but that’s where the ass-backwards comes into play. Destroying s.s. and Medicare is the mantra. Destroying the public school through vouchers is another. Here’s an innovative idea for you to ponder-raise taxes-fairness and the like. Our schools (that is the administrative staff) needs more moneys. Keep expanding systems that are not working because the problem is they are not receiving enough money. And as for those who are against that, yes, it is because it’s to other peoples’ benefit to let “those kinds of people”die in the streets so we can cut the budget.

      After I let those people die, I go to confession, fake it and get absolved. See you in Heaven-not too soon I hope.

  • Tourist  On March 17, 2013 at 12:13 AM

    Devildog, what part of “I agree with all of that” did you not understand? Now show me some modifying and innovating, and some constructive ideas, alternatives to “throwing money.” Hell, forget the ideas. Just show me someone working on some ideas, policy proposals – as distinguished from “there’s no safety net in the Constitution” and “Keep cutting, baby!”

    If that position is beneath me, let me really disappoint you.

    Zerlina Maxwell, a guest on Hannity, argued that the onus should be on society, and men, to make rape unacceptable, not on women to arm themselves to prevent it. These are apparently some of the reactions on Twitter and in other internet forums:

    “Nigger! I hope you get raped and your throat slit! May be then you understand why white women have to be armed! DIE BITCH!”

    “You need to be gang raped to you get some common sense. You stupid bitch.”

    “Ur what’s wrong with America. I hope u get raped. And killed. By an out of control black man.”

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/2013/03/this_is_a_kind_of.php?ref=fpblg

    I will make the necessary acknowledgment that nothing applies to everybody, or equally, and that no group has a monopoly, etc., but I’m tired of hearing that the frenzy of the last four years has had nothing to do with a black man being in the White House and everything to do with his plans to turn America into a Marxist Muslim dictatorship as evidenced by the tyranny of affordable healthcare.

    I’ll be back in the morning.

    • Devildog  On March 17, 2013 at 1:02 AM

      Tourist, if your point is that there are some people out there are racists, or Islamophobes, or whatever, and that most or all of those people are not Democrats, I will agre on that but I think I would disagree with you on how many of those people are Republicans or conservatives. Those people are dregs and apolitical. So get off that kick.

      As for your, “I agree with all of that”, I took it to be superseded by your, “two little things”. Your hard to read facetiousness is well-known, at least to me.

      “affordable healthcare”, as in ACA, I see no evidence of that now or in the future. As my primary defeated former congressman (Altmire)said, he didn’t believe Obama care bent the cost curve.

      Someone working on ideas, policy proposals, etc., try Paul Ryan. But since you don’t like those proposals, that doesn’t count. And neither does some of the things mentioned in my previous post.

      Your “necessary acknowledgement” is unnecessary b.s.whose morning are you talking about. I’m still here.

      • Tourist  On March 17, 2013 at 3:26 AM

        Devildog, I’ll go this far: There are plenty of elected Republicans who are not what you call “dregs,” but who have apparently decided they need the votes of the dregs for their own political survival/prosperity.

        Re Paul Ryan, it’s not whether I like his ideas. It’s whether they are responsible ideas by the standard you put forth: “keep what works, modify or discard what doesn’t, be innovative and progressive.” Let me throw it back: Are you signing on?

        I meant your morning.

        • Devildog  On March 17, 2013 at 12:08 PM

          Tourist, let me be honest with you (don’t you just love it when politicians and others start off by saying that). I have only a vague, general knowledge of the “Ryan plan” and I dare say that you, and even UMOC, don’t have much more than do I. With that limited knowledge, I put forth the assertion that it probably has ideas worthy of more consideration than that it will destroy S.S. and Medicare as we know it. You asked for this type of example and I gave it and your response, in effect, was it doesn’t count because you don’t agree with it.

          Here’s a phrase I dislike-“appealing to his/her base”. I suppose it never struck those people saying that they maybe the person they are accusing really believes in the position they are taking. Same goes for the effect of money. If the Republicans are appealing to dregs, are the Democrats appealing to people living off Government largess when they have the means to do otherwise-and I’m not talking about corporations and 47%?

      • Tourist  On March 17, 2013 at 4:38 AM

        Now I’m waiting for UMOC to wake up and approve my promised comment.

  • Tourist  On March 17, 2013 at 4:36 AM

    Devildog, top of the morning to you! This is as convoluted as I can make it, so I recommend holding off until your second cup of coffee (Irish?) today. Just the dots:

    I could have been an actor but I wound up here. If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Lead, follow or get out of the way. The owl of Minerva flies at dusk. I just have to look good; I don’t have to be clear.

    ===

    Whither the politically disenchanted and heavily armed?

    Some of the reactionary manifestations from the American right have loose parallels in Japan’s historical samurai class. Tokugawa Japan had been a closed, feudal society. When the American Matthew Perry arrived with his “black ships” in 1853 with clearly superior technology and firepower, demanding that Japan open itself to trade and foreigners, reactions were split. Some saw that the country had to be part of the larger world. Others insisted on domestic purity.

    Rolling out the welcome mat, the then-government, the Tokugawa shogunate, was among the former.

    Angered by the “unequal treaties” (as they are known) to which the shogunate agreed, an anti-Tokugawa movement arose around the cry: “Revere the emperor and expel the barbarians.” (Under rule by the shogun, the emperor was an impoverished figurehead.) That movement succeeded. The authority of the emperor was reestablished in the Meiji Restoration of 1868.

    Many samurai had been on the losing side of that fight – history – and it was not long before others who had been on the winning imperial side and had become part of the imperial government came to feel that their values were being betrayed by the new leaders they had supported. “Where is the change?” they asked. As a class, they had lost many of their traditional privileges and were financially strapped. (The new national army was conscription based.)

    As modernization/industrialization proceeded apace (looking to many too much like Westernization), a disillusioned, particularly charismatic samurai, Saigo Takamori (think Ken Watanabe in the Tom Cruise movie “The Last Samurai,” but not really), left the government and reestablished himself in remote Kagoshima, known then as Satsuma, where the local Satsuma government was sympathetic. He and his followers stockpiled weapons and built a network of training academies for the like-minded.

    The national government had already survived a number of small samurai uprisings around the country, but the boys from Satsuma made it nervous. When the government moved in for the weapons, it kicked off the Satsuma Rebellion of 1877.

    Other samurai joined in on the anti-government side, about 20,000 in all. (Our-side forces in the American Revolution are put at a maximum of 90,000 at any one time.) In the end, the national draftee army proved itself. The Satsuma green-tea partiers fought to the last man.

    ===

    (Quote)

    But a funny thing happened on the way to the Supreme Court: The case against gay marriage fell apart. The first holes appeared during the trial in 2010, which featured experts . . . fleeing or recanting. And now this legal position is in such tatters that a group of more than 100 conservatives filed a friend-of-the-court brief that baldly states that there is no “legitimate, fact-based justification for excluding same-sex couples from civil marriage.” The conservatives, who include past and present Republican officials, say that “over the past two decades,” they “have seen each argument against same-sex marriage discredited by social science, rejected by courts, and undermined by their own experiences with committed same-sex couples.”

    . . . [A]fter stating their fealty to judicial restraint—let the legislators and the voters decide—[those conservatives carve] out a worthy exception to the rule. “It is precisely at moments like this—when discriminatory laws appear to reflect unexamined, unfounded, or unwarranted assumptions rather than facts and evidence, and the rights of one group of citizens hang in the balance—that this court’s intervention is most needed.”

    (Unquote)

    http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/jurisprudence/2013/03/supreme_court_s_prop_8_case_the_justices_should_choose_a_modest_approach.html

    ===

    Think wider.

    (Quote)

    “Left 3.0 is not only an ideological movement, but also effectively controls (or rather guides) a political party fully competitive at the national level. Left 3.0 is an entity whose internal divisions are minuscule in comparison to the shared convictions that hold it together. Left 3.0 is a creature of its times, well-organized and fully synced to the digital culture out of which it emerged. And Left 3.0 has come into its own at a time, not coincidentally, when its political rival, the gop electoral coalition, already under strain because of shifting demographics, is deeply divided over vexing social issues on which Left 3.0 offers clear answers.”

    Lindberg makes it clear that he is talking about the liberal left, not the radical left. Like older left-liberal movements, the newer left in the U.S. wants to tame capitalism, not destroy it:

    ***

    . . . Lindberg suggests that the newer left is more patient and politically savvy than an older generation of activists who demanded the achievement of progressive goals right now:

    “ . . . The Left has not changed the direction it wants to go, but it has changed its timeframe for expectations of success.”

    . . . Speaking of history, it was Hegel who observed that “The owl of Minerva flies at dusk” — by which he meant that one can only understand an epoch retrospectively, when it is over or almost over. This may explain why the best essay ever published by the conservative journal Policy Review appeared in its final issue, discussing the end of conservatism as we have known it and the rise of American liberalism in a new form.

    http://www.salon.com/2013/03/04/how_conservatives_see_liberals/

    ===

    I think today’s information technology is overwhelmingly wonderful. I think the world in one’s pocket is nothing but opportunity. Personally, I’m not a heavy user. I don’t need most of it in my life. What I need in my life – still – is to not be irrelevant, not be totally left out.

    I worry about you guys.

  • Tourist  On March 17, 2013 at 4:39 PM

    Devildog, “appealing to the base” means something. The traditional model, rough sketch, was that nationally Republicans could count on 40% of the vote and Democrats could count on 40% of the vote, and the winner was whichever side won among the 20% in the middle.

    Note that the middle, not committed to either party, had to be persuaded on the issues. That was hard and expensive. They paid attention. They had to like your ideas.

    Bush in 2000 won the middle with “compassionate conservatism.” Al Gore didn’t help himself either. Yet you will recall it was close.

    And only 50% (which was typical) voted.

    For 2004, Karl Rove realized that the numbers were there, and it would be easier, if you could just get those who were naturally on your side – or who at least naturally disliked the other side more – but who didn’t vote, to vote rather than stay home. That meant firing them up with something new, more than YOUR ideas, which had never fired them up before. It meant voicing THEIR ideas, good, bad or ugly. That’s what appealing to the base means.

    Call it pandering. Call it lying. Eventually you’re stuck. You need them. You’ve alienated everybody else.

    • Devildog  On March 17, 2013 at 4:53 PM

      Hi, Tourist. Back from the gym and then watching tennis. Your other post is too “convoluted” for me to respond at this time but I agree totally with you as to appealing to the base. What I meant is that politicians are not “lying” or taking a position they really don’t agree with when they are “accused” of appealing to their base. Firing up-yes.

      See you later.

  • Little_Minx  On March 28, 2013 at 8:33 PM

    Papal compassion for helping the poor stops well short of limiting the birthrates that keep the poor so poor.

    Papal compassion for gays stops well short of letting them love whom they love.

    Papal compassion for those trapped in rotten marriages denies remarriage following divorce to a someone who would be a loving spouse.

    Papal compassion for bringing the lost back into the flock includes Holocaust deniers, but not anyone who thinks female priests might be a solution to the pastoral shortage.

    Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera… (to quote the Rodgers & Hammerstein incarnation of the King of Siam)

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