Monday, December 5, 2011

UPDATE ON GINGRICH AND WHEN LIFE BEGINS posted an article today with this clarification of the implantation issue by Gingrich:

"“As I have stated many times throughout the course of my public life, I believe that human life begins at conception,” Gingrich said in the statement. “I believe that every unborn life is precious, no matter how conceived. I also believe that we should work for the day when there will be no abortions for any reason, and that every unborn child will be welcomed into life and protected by law.”

“That is why I have supported, and will continue to support, pro-life legislation that not only limits, but also reduces, the total number of abortions, with a view to the eventual legal protection of all unborn human life,” Gingrich continued."

I have to wonder if the most brilliant man in the room is really capable of being so clear and unambiguous in his comments regarding implantation only to turn around, and doing his best Emily Latilla, say, "Never mind!"

Something's just not right here. Either he was caught with his pants down and let the truth show or he's really not as brilliant as he'd like us all to believe. That the implantation remark could be just a simple foul up is impossible for me to believe, at least if he has any real convictions or principles regarding life issues.

And that's why I don't trust him. He's just another politician looking for votes and he'll say anything he has to or sit next to Pelosi on any couch he needs to if it'll help him get those votes.

In the end, all of the candidates have strengths and weaknesses. All I'm looking for is the one that is honest, that shows true character and that says what they believe and believes what they say. Gingrich isn't the one.

Sunday, December 4, 2011


ABC News is reporting that in an interview with Jake Tapper, Newt Gingrich states that he believe life begins at implantation, not conception, a break with both Catholic teaching and many if not most in the anti-abortion movement.

"TAPPER: Abortion is a big issue here in Iowa among conservative Republican voters and Rick Santorum has said you are inconsistent. The big argument here is that you have supported in the past embryonic stem cell research and you made a comment about how these fertilized eggs, these embryos are not yet “pre-human” because they have not been implanted. This has upset conservatives in this state who worry you don’t see these fertilized eggs as human life. When do you think human life begins?

GINGRICH: Well, I think the question of being implanted is a very big question. My friends who have ideological positions that sound good don’t then follow through the logic of: ‘So how many additional potential lives are they talking about? What are they going to do as a practical matter to make this real?’

I think that if you take a position when a woman has fertilized egg and that’s been successfully implanted that now you’re dealing with life. because otherwise you’re going to open up an extraordinary range of very difficult questions"

Many may see this as a case of semantic silliness but it isn't. In my opinion it signifies a certain cowardice which is betrayed by the last sentence in the quote above. Gingrich is right that to believe life begins at conception does open the door to many questions that are difficult, questions that have a direct bearing on whether the many medical procedures that create embryos for implantation or in fact creating babies, tiny human beings that are then used as things to be implanted, frozen, thrown away or experimented on.

For a man like Gingrich, one that never seems to shy from a fight about ideas, it's nearly impossible to believe that just the fact that difficult questions are created would be enough to preclude him from accepting something as true. I don't believe this is the reason he takes the stand that he does in the interview.

Gingrich goes on to say:

"Implantation and successful implantation. In addition I would say that I’ve never been for embryonic stem cell research per se. I have been for, there are a lot of different ways to get embryonic stem cells. I think if you can get embryonic stem cells for example from placental blood if you can get it in ways that do not involve the loss of a life that’s a perfectly legitimate avenue of approach.

What I reject is the idea that we’re going to take one life for the purpose of doing research for other purposes and I think that crosses a threshold of de-humanizing us that’s very very dangerous."

This is where we get to the heart of the matter; he's trying to have it both ways. If he honestly accepts the argument that he's put forth, that life begins at implantation, not conception, then he shouldn't have any problem at all with any use of none implanted embryos. But in the above quote he says that he's nearly always opposed embryonic stem cell research. Why?

I think I know. He's trying to walk a fine line. He doesn't want to offend the pro-aborts in the Republican party, the big pharma and medical research firms that donate money or the Dems that just might cross the line because they've become so frustrated with the direction their party has taken. But at the same time he's throwing a bone to the pro-life camp, giving them something to hang their hats on so they can still vote for him with a clear conscience. He figures he's probably got their vote anyway when it comes right down to it so he just has to give 'em a friendly nudge.

This is the kind of thing I'm watching for with Gingrich. He's showing his true colors here. He's more interested in politics than principle in the abortion battle.

And, if he's willing to throw babies under the bus to get elected, what else will he do?

So the question remains - has Gingrich changed? It's not looking good so far.

Friday, December 2, 2011


OK, so the player doesn't fit the page. Honestly, I'm not much in the mood to figure out the code changes I need to make to fix it. And it's an audio file once you get past the commercial anyway so who cares.

I've been listening to a lot of Gingrich over the past few weeks. I gotta admit that I'm a bit leery of him. Fool me once... Anyway, after listening to this clip and reading his comments on the Eucharist I have to wonder - has he changed?

I'm Catholic. I was born Catholic and raised, more or less (probably less in the long run) Catholic. By the time I was thirteen we no longer went to church. I grew up, got married, had kids and still I didn't really go to church any more than absolutely necessary. Too busy drinking and smoking dope, working, dealing with life and all the other excuses one normally comes up with.

I did come back, though. There were a number of reasons, some powerfully spiritual and some purely based on reason. It's the latter that makes me think that Gingrich may have undergone a profound change.

Gingrich is a man of letters. He writes and lectures. He seems to be deeply attracted to debate, both as sport and as a learning tool. He generally uses logic in his arguments which is why he is so very good at winning them. I've watched him systematically dismantle the arguments of others by finding the weaknesses and exploiting them simply by pointing them out and opening them to question. Very much like so many great Catholic scholars have over the last 2000 years, Aquinas coming immediately to mind.

In this love of logic and argument Gingrich and I are very similar. Obviously, he's way smarter than I am (not false modesty but observable reality). And in the end, it's my personal predisposition towards debate that brought me back to the church and created a fundamental change in me.

I was challenged by co-workers, all of a Pentecostal persuasion, about the legitimacy of Catholic belief. Not being one to shy from an argument but also not being one to advance into battle without arms, I set about to learn as much about the faith of my birth as I could. Not because I planned on returning to it but because I wanted to win a fight.

What I found was not some superstitious, lock step belief system based on power and authority of the political or human type but a system of teachings over 2000 years old, never changing but always growing, based first on logic and reason but then, based on the irrefutable findings of that reasoning, willing to step off the cliff of faith, knowing that no other honest response was possible. I found a faith that worships God, not because a book of dubious origin (at least that's what I thought when I heard the Protestant explanation for why I should trust it) commands it, but because reason, moving in the river of revealed knowledge, demands it.

This changed me and everything about me, completely and irrevocably. I would never be able to think or act the same way again. Once presented with truth we are forced to decide whether to follow it or not. We're either all in or out. There's no middle ground. That doesn't mean we don't fall every now and then. It means we keep our eyes on the prize, get up and keeping working towards the truth.

I'm not the same guy I was 20 years ago. Not by a long shot.

Which forces me to ask this question about Gingrich; has he undergone the same sort of fundamental change because of his faith? If he has then I would have to think that he isn't the same person that lived the life he lived long ago and that knowing what he knows and understands to be the truth now he wouldn't have done many of the things he did.

That doesn't mean he won't do them again. I know I have certain predispositions built into me by constant involvement in pointless stupidity over a big chunk of my life. We all have weaknesses and we all have certain responses that we fall back on in given situations that need to be unlearned. And that's a time consuming process.

I know that in my case, learning to think like the Church after these last 10+ years of reading Church history, Papal Encyclicals and so many of the works of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church has fundamentally altered the way my brain works. I think in a different way now. Catholicism does that to you if you avail yourself of the treasure trove of knowledge it's generated over 2000 years.

I'm thinking, based on what I know about Gingrich, that his journey to the Church probably involved a good deal of reading, research and debate. And I would guess that all of this has caused a change in him that will be reflected in his life, his decisions and the way he sees everything around him.

I'll be watching him more closely. I still have a bunch of questions. But the things I'm hearing from him on issues such as immigration make me think that he's been changed, that the teachings of Holy Mother Church have taken root.

I may find myself able to vote for him after all.