By Fr. George Welzbacher
March 4, 2012
Given the content and tone of several of my more recent ruminations here on the Pastor's Page, I thought it might be time to lighten up a bit. Here's a whimsical account of a highly unusual dinner party held on SuperBowl Sunday. The author is Matt Labash, one of The Weekly Standard's contributing editors.
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The Dinner Party
The Weekly Standard, February 20, 2012
When I think about the American-postcard moments of my life - Fourth of July fireworks, Veteran's Day parades, watching American Chopper reruns - there is none so emblematic as the evening I just spent in the flat-screen glow of the Super Bowl, having a few pops and making chitchat with my new comrades from the Weather Underground.
Everyone celebrates America in his own peculiar way. Before becoming acclaimed educators, citizen activists, and the notorious friends of Barack Obama, Bill Ayers and his wife, Bernardine Dohrn, used to celebrate their America by bombing the Capitol, bombing the Pentagon, and aspiring to bomb a dance hall full of soldiers at Fort Dix, if only their late comrades hadn't accidentally blown themselves up first. That was what acclaimed-educator types call a "teachable moment": Stick with basic property destruction, because it's all ho-ho-Ho-Chi-Minh until someone puts an eye out with a nail bomb.
This Mad Hatter's dinner party takes place at the swank Chicago penthouse of a friend of the former, Weatherpersons. Bill and Bernardine had auctioned off a dinner - to be cooked by them - to raise funds for a humanities council. The lucky high bidder was my friend, former colleague, and Daily Caller editor Tucker Carlson, not renowned as a patron of the arts. His hobbies run to wing-shooting, fly fishing, and causing, unrepentant Commies discomfort for sport.
Tucker has invited several guests - me, his brother, Daily Caller reporter Jamie Weinstein, a contest winner, and provocateur Andrew Breltbart, aka the most aggressive man on the Internet.... Our Weather patrons greet us like old family surrounded by their own smiling friends/decoys, who are there to "wait on" us and otherwise deflect uncomfortable lines of inquiry. Pointing to bottles of wine, one chirps, "What's your poison?"
Ayers, in skullcap and earrings, shows us to an elaborate spread overlooking the city. We've entered a parody of a multimillion-dollar liberal lair. Unidentifiable abstract sculptures snake about the floor. Framed epigrams from Louise Bourgeois installations ("The Hour Is Devoted To Revenge") line the wall. Cutouts representing the duality of the American spirit, from Thoreau and Rosa Parks (good), to Dick Cheney and Sarah Palin (evil), festoon our plates. Tofu and quinoa - pinko food - is among the seven savory courses served.
Apart from shuffling off to the kitchen or catching a few minutes of the game while avoiding awkward conversations about their past, the Weather hosts couldn't be nicer. They ask us about our backgrounds, which they already seem familiar with (thanks, Wikipedia!). They plump us with falling-off-the-bone hoisin ribs and fluff us with apple pie and AmeriCone Dream ice cream. "This is the bomb, Bill," says Breitbart, after sampling the farmhouse cheeses. "It has explosive flavor," I chime in.
They're positively conciliatory - playing radical rope-a-dope. Dohyn has tired altogether of politics, she claims, now preferring to listen to sports radio. Bill facetiously admits that, as suspected, he wrote Obama's Dreams from My Father - "The second book isn't as good," he apologizes. When reminded of his past, after saying unradical things to us like, "There's no reason not to be nice to each other" (Ayers once distilled the Weathermen's philosophy as "kill all the rich people" - though presumably not those serving the carrot ginger soup), Bill looks pained. "You're thinking 40 years ago. Read something contemporary." Asked about the "smash monogamy" ethos that led Weather nymphos to engage in orgies (in the belief that an army that ruts together, fights together), Bernardine demurs, "We have to know each other better first."
We have harder questions, left mostly in our pockets. It's difficult to rough people up when they're trilling at you. like, "Enjoy the pecan raisin crisps!" Our pre-game strategy is to take it gently at dinner, then go for broke in the second half. Except there isn't one. We are shown the door before halftime, under the sudden lame excuse that the apartment owner needs to pick up her kids. In a mad swirl of group photos, goodies bags (complete with Hershey's Kisses), and curt invitations to scoot from a formerly smiling, now pinched-faced Ayers friend, we are deposited in the hallway after less than two hours.
"They took my ribs before I finished them .... I only had one beer .... I didn't even get to see Madonna," the contest winner complains.
"What happened?" I ask an equally gobsmacked Breitbart. "I think we just got rolled."
"No," he says, deflated. "We got community organized."
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The media have been deluging us of late with endless repetitions of the claim that "98 percent of America's Catholic women use contraception." Whence, so the argument goes, isn't it ridiculous for the nation's Catholic bishops to be condemning as evil what the vast majority of their constituents evidently perceive to be good. (Cue in Kathleen Kennedy Townsend here). Thus, such is the implication, the bishops have no reason other than stubborn pride to object to paying for sterilization procedures and contraceptive medications (abortifacients included). Following this line of reasoning, were 98 percent of America's Catholics found to be consuming pornography, should the Church then "get with the program" and dump the Sixth Commandment? Or faced with the apostasy of the king and people of Israel, would not the prophet Elijah have been better advised to have switched his allegiance from the more demanding Yahweh to Canaan's much more popular gods? And as to the cited statistic itself, this "98 percent" of Catholic women who supposedly are practicing contraception - where did this figure come from?
To its credit the Star Tribune reprinted in its Sunday edition for February 19 a report from the Washington Post dealing with this matter. According to the Post report, the "98 percent" figure first saw the light of day courtesy of the Guttmacher Institute, an affiliate of Planned Parenthood. The figure represents the skewed interpretation of the results of a poll taken among a group of some seven thousand self-identified Catholic women, ranging in age from the middle teens to the early forties, who declared themselves to be, or at least to have been, sexually active. In the tabulation of the survey's results respondents who had admitted to the use of a given form of contraception even as little as only once were ranked with those described as regularly "practicing" said form of contraceptive behavior. And it's interesting to note in passing that the secular media have awarded precious little publicity to an important, very recent statement signed by more than sixty American Catholic WOMEN OF NATIONAL PROMINENCE, among them Harvard Professor Mary Ann Glendon. That statement expressed full, whole-hearted ACCORD with the position taken by the U.S. bishops in their official protest against Mr. Obama's capricious decree; it is a declaration of principled, closely reasoned and uncompromising opposition to this president's trampling on the First Amendment with his outrageously intrusive mandate to religious institutions to act in contradiction to their own professed belief.
Such silence of the media vis-á-vis an important Catholic Women's Manifesto illustrates yet once again the liberals' penchant for printing "all the news that fits."
And here vis-á-vis that claim of "98," is the Washington Post report.
* * * * *Will 98 Percent of Catholic Women Use Contraceptives in their Lifetime?
Star Tribune, February 19, 2012
Reprinted from the Washington Post.
Ever since the battle erupted between Catholic bishops and the Obama administration over providing free contraception coverage as part of health plans for workers, a striking figure has appeared in the news - that 98 percent of Catholic women have used contraceptives. But what does this figure really mean, and where does it come from?
"In fact, 98 percent of Catholic women use birth control at some point in their lifetimes." National Public Radio, February 10
"Studies have shown that 98 percent of Catholic women have used artificial contraception at some time in their lives." New York Times, February 10
"Birth Control is widely used even by Catholics: 98 percent of American Catholic women have used contraception in their lifetimes." Washington Post, February 12
"Ninety-eight percent of Catholic women, I am told by all of you, use birth control to determine the size and timing of their families." House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Feb 16
The 98 percent figure first appeared in an April 2011 study written by Rachel K. Jones and Joerg Dreweke of the Guttmacher Institute, a non-profit organization that promotes reproductive health and had started as an arm of Planned Parenthood. The study is titled "Countering Conventional Wisdom: New Evidence on Religion and Contraceptive Use."
The study drew on data from the 2006-08 National Survey of Family Growth which relied on interviews with 7,356 females from the ages of 15 to 44.
But while the study says that 98 percent of "sexually experienced Catholic women" have "used a contraceptive method other than natural family planning," the data shown in the report does NOT actually back up that claim. In fact, a supplementary table in the report, on page 8, even appears to UNDERMINE that statistic, since it shows that 11 percent of Catholic women were using NO method at all. That has led to criticism of the statistic.
The Guttmacher Institute, citing "confusion" over the statistic, last week posted the data behind it. It turns out it was based on a question that asked self-identified Catholic women who have had sex if they EVER have used one of the twelve methods of birth control. Jones said the women were asked to answer "yes" or "no" whether they had used each of the different forms; only 2 percent had said they had used only natural family planning.
In other words, a woman may have had sex ONLY ONCE, or she may have had a partner who used a condom ONLY ONCE, and then she would be placed in the 98 percent category. Jones said the correct way to describe the results of the research is this:
"Data shows that 98 percent of sexually experienced women of child-bearing age and who identified themselves as Catholic HAVE USED [not quite the same as "ARE USING"] a method of contraception other than natural family planning at some point in their lives."
The full survey shows that 86.8 percent of women ages 15 to 44 have had vaginal intercourse.
The data listed in the Guttmacher report, meanwhile, referred to current contraceptive use among "sexually active women who are not pregnant, postpartum or trying to get pregnant." That is a smaller universe of women, and it shows that 68 percent of Catholic women used what are termed "highly effective methods:" 32 percent sterilization; 31 percent pill; 5 percent IUD.
Again, only 2 percent currently used natural family planning. Interestingly, 11 percent used nothing, even though they were not trying to get pregnant.
The Bottom Line
If a statistic sounds too good to be true, be wary. Judging from the examples above, the media got it wrong....
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