Morning Report, July 14
1. Several arrests were made for disorderly conduct during the hearings over Judge Sonia Sotomayor and her nomination to the Supreme Court. This in itself is not surprising, but one of the names among those arrested may surprise you: Norma McCorvey of Texas, better known as the “Jane Roe” of the landmark abortion ruling Roe v. Wade.
If you are familiar with the pro-life movement, however, you will not be surprised. McCorvey remained a supporter of our current abortion laws into the 1990s, when, in 1995, working at a women’s health organization, she befriended workers from Operation Rescue and was converted. In this interview with a Catholic priest she explains the evolution of her position (“Jane Roe has been laid to rest…”). She has also stated that her earlier testimony, claiming that the baby (who was never aborted) was conceived in a rape, was actually conceived with her boyfriend (apparently there was a fair amount of fraud involved in the Roe case, as well as the case, Doe v. Bolton). In 1998 McCorvey joined the Roman Catholic Church and began her own prolife ministry called Roe No More. She was also arrested in a protest on the campus of Notre Dame during Barack Obama’s visit for a commencement speech. Read her testimony here. She has written several books, including “Won by Love” and “I Was Wrong.”
Patheos hosted a fascinating discussion of abortion recently. Not all evangelicals are opposed to our current abortion laws, and Norma McCorvey has no special authority on this issue. Yet if you’re interested, here is a tasteful commercial from her:
2. The Pew Forum released a new study on gay marriage, which includes a helpful list of links to documents on the issue from every major faith tradition, including a recent National Association of Evangelicals statement on the subject. We are still carrying on a conversation on the subject at Patheos (see my editorial piece summarizing the whole).
3. Information continues to bleed out regarding a Bush-era CIA program to assassinate the leaders of al-Qaeda, which was first proposed eight years ago but never become operational. Some officials (though others contradict them) claim that Cheney urged the CIA not to report the effort to Congress until it went beyond the concept stage.
Since I want this blog to present opinion from both sides of the aisle: Eric Alterman takes this to be another example of Dick Cheney’s imperial vice presidency, forming branches of government that are hidden from view and accountable only to him, while Andrew McCarthy asks why anyone would want to oppose such a program. For Alterman, this may be just “the tip of a very dirty iceberg,” and one must credit Cheney for finding “even more ways to overturn the constitution, undermine the separation of powers, and possibly make the U.S. government an accessory to murder many times over.” For McCarthy, this is another phony scandal designed to score political points, change the subject from Obama’s failing initiatives, and rescue Nancy Pelosi from her own inane statements; “there is no law that requires, or could practically require, the CIA to brief Congress every time some agency component considers the feasibility of some security initiative.” Read them both and decide for yourself who has the better argument.
To fill in a parenthetical statement above. Among the officials claiming that Cheney directed the agency to withhold the information is Leon Panetta. Yet Clinton appointee as Director of the CIA, George Tenet, also apparently felt there was no need to brief Congress on their thinking on this issue, since they were already authorized by Congress to seek to “kill or capture” al-Qaeda leaders; and later-head of the CIA, Michael Hayden, claims that he was never prevented from informing Congress. As in so many cases in politics, it’s at least partly a question of whom you believe, and different actors have different calculations of interest. According to Panetta himself, there is “no indication” there was anything illegal in the program itself. Some at the CIA are concerned that the growing antagonism between the CIA and Congress could harm national security.
4. Apparently Sarah Palin intends to move out of the gossip pages and into the opinion pages. Witness her strong opinion piece in today’s Washington Post, attacking Obama’s proposed “cap and tax” plan. We possess abundant energy resources beneath our own feet, she says, and “we have more desire and ability to protect the environment than any foreign nation from which we purchase energy today…Do we want to control our energy supply and its environmental impact? Or, do we want to outsource it to China, Russia and Saudi Arabia? Make no mistake: President Obama’s plan will result in the latter.” The cap-and-trade legislation will harm our economy, lead to further job losses, raise the cost of electricity for everyone (and thus implicitly taxing everyone, a tax that will especially harm the poor), and make us even more dependent on foreign oil. Each state should be allowed to make use of its own natural resources in an environmentally responsible way, and even states without energy resources can invest in nuclear. Given “the inherent link between energy and prosperity, energy and opportunity, and energy and security,” cap-and-trade “would adversely impact every aspect of the U.S. economy” as well as national security. Whether you agree or not, it’s a well-wrought argument and–apart from a split-infinitive–a well-written piece. In the meantime, of course, the mockery of Palin goes on and on.
5. Although he never considers the substantive ways in which Obama’s administration seeks to “protect the consumer,” Bob Herbert’s piece in the New York Times today is right to focus on the deceptive marketing practices of banks and credit card companies. Christians have, for far too long, treated advertising as though it is beholden to its own special rules. As in poker, bluffing is just a part of the game. Yet there is an important difference between advertising that highlights the benefits and honestly professes the costs and risks and advertising that is outright deceptive–and thirty-page credit card and mortgage contracts that conceal their financial traps in a dense underbrush of legal verbiage are plainly unethical. Without demonizing business done right, Christians must stand up against business practices that are deceptive and exploitative.
6. Christianity Today is not enamoured with the movie, “I Love You, Beth Cooper.” And one must ask: do we really need a menage-a-trois in a teen comedy?
7. Finally, as mentioned earlier, Francis Collins is nominated to be the new head of the National Institutes of Health. Collins is an evangelical Christian, and he explained at a recent Pew Forum event why he believes faith and science are in harmony.
Enjoy the transcript. Collins is as articulate about his faith as he is about his science, and he shares some interesting slides.