Fifty years ago today, in his inaugural address, Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson announced his War on Poverty. He might as well have called it the War on the Middle Class. Prior to his inauguration, middle-class families could deduct their children from their taxes. No more. He also initiated chain immigration, in which the poor of other countries poured into our country, increasing the tax burden on the Middle Class.
He also introduced Welfare, Medicaid (for low-income families) and Medicare (for the elderly). Johnson was building on FDR’s Progressive, Socialist foundation. Two years later, the entitled classes of the Watts section of Los Angeles felt entitled to burn that city down. A short time later, riots broke out in the Haight-Ashbury section of San Francisco, South Chicago, and the Wards of Newark, N.J. Well, the city was about to tear down the homes, such as they were, of the poor, to make way for a university hospital. Even the Middle Class suburbanites sympathized with Newark’s Black residents, even if they looked askance at actually burning the city down.
Businesses fled Newark, never to return.
Johnson’s Progressive successor, Obama, has hung the noose of Obamacare around Americans’ necks. Americans understood, and Obama conveniently never explained, about the Affordable Care Act. They didn’t realize they would have to pay exorbitant premiums for coverage they didn’t need or want. And there’d be no exceptions in the mandate for contraception and abortions. Not even for religious institutions.
According to a Los Angeles Times editorial, “The Little Sisters of the Poor, an organization of Roman Catholic nuns that runs nursing homes around the country, is testing the contraceptive coverage mandate of the Affordable Care Act. Last week, we’re sorry to say, the nuns won a temporary reprieve from Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.”
To win a reprieve on such a women’s health-related issue from Sonia Sotomayor is nothing short of amazing and she has this blog’s congratulations and gratitude (I met her once a few years ago in Jersey City, taking pictures for my company). A wise Latina, indeed.
“Under the law,” the Times editors go on to write, “most employers are required to provide their employees with health insurance that covers birth control. But the Obama administration agreed to a compromise for nonprofit religious groups that object to contraception, exempting them from paying for such coverage. Instead, insurers agreed to absorb the cost. All the religious organization has to do is fill out a simple form attesting to its situation.”
“Unfortunately, even that was too much for the Little Sisters of the Poor.”
“The group’s objection to filling out the form is hard to fathom, as is Sotomayor’s baffling decision to block the requirement until the case can be considered on its merits. The Little Sisters’ case hangs on the absurd argument that the simple act of filling out the form — the whole point of which is to guarantee its freedom from the mandate — somehow represents a ‘substantial burden’ on its exercise of religion.”
“The form couldn’t be easier or shorter. It takes five minutes to fill out and sign.”
That’s not what other applicants have said. There’s nothing easy or short about ACA and everything intrusive and fascist. Perhaps this particular form is short. But it’s consequences are long and profound.
“The nuns also argue that if they fill out the form, thereby allowing coverage through a third party, they would in effect be encouraging someone else to sin. But that’s not true in this particular case because the Little Sisters of the Poor offers health coverage through a religious insurer that is itself exempt from providing contraceptive services. So even if the nuns sign the form, employees still won’t receive the coverage.”
If that’s true, then why do they have to fill out the form?
“And even if the group was using a non-religious insurer, and even if that insurer provided the coverage, we still wouldn’t buy the argument. The compromise was designed to ensure that a religious charity wouldn’t have to pay for coverage it objects to. That others might ultimately pay for the coverage isn’t the charity’s business.”
Now we come to the heart of the matter – the right of a woman to choose. ‘As long as the policyholder doesn’t have to “pay” for contraception or abortion. However, the policyholder still has to pay the premium and if you’ve paying the premium, then you’re paying for the procedure and that makes it the business of the Little Sisters of the Poor.
“One disconcerting possibility is that religiously-affiliated nonprofits might circumvent the intent of the mandate by expanding the role of nonprofit religious insurance organizations like the one the Little Sisters uses. That would be an extreme measure to avoid an aspect of healthcare reform that is meant to allow employees to make their own medical decisions. But it could work.”
“In the meantime, the stay should be lifted immediately.”
How ironic that our Big Brother government has regulated the right to poke its nose into every corner of our personal lives, but its cheerleader media balks at the notion that a religious charity could make a claim as a conscientious objector to supporting contraception and abortion?
If you ask someone to pay for a procedure that stifles life at its beginning, they should have as much right to choose whether or not to support your actions as you, a woman, claim your right to choose to murder the life you’re carrying. If you want to commit abortion, then you should pay the price for it, not the Little Sisters of the Poor. Find some other charity that has no compunction about paying for the murder of unborn babies.
This is what happens when secular institutions attempt to take the place of the charitable. Did you know that the Kremlin was a church before the Russian Revolution of 1917, when the Communists took over? The name “Kremlin” is Russian for “fortress.” The Kremlin is composed of four palaces and five cathedrals.
You’ll be surprised to learn, though, that the Communists were not the first to destroy (or try to destroy) the cathedrals. They suffered many attacks since its construction in the Second Century B.C. Napoleon, who had converted to Islam during his Egyptian campaign, ordered the Kremlin blown up as he fled Moscow in the War of 1812.
The site has been continuously inhabited since the second century B.C., and originates from a Vyatich fortified structure (or “grad”) on Borovitsky Hill where the Neglinnaya River flowed into the Moskva River. The Slavs occupied the south-western portion of the hill as early as the 11th century, as evidenced by a metropolitan seal from the 1090s, which was unearthed by Soviet archaeologists in the area.
Up to the 14th century, the site was known as the ‘grad of Moscow.’ The word “kremlin” was first recorded in 1331 and its etymology is disputed (see Max Vasmer online (Russian)). The grad was greatly extended by Prince Yuri Dolgorukiy in 1156, destroyed by the Mongols in 1237 and rebuilt in oak in 1339.
The Church of St. John Climacus (1328), the Transfiguration Monastery’s Katholikon (1330), and the Archangel Cathedral (1333) — all built of limestone and decorated with elaborate carving, each crowned by a single dome. Of these churches, the reconstructed Saviour Cathedral alone survived into the 20th century, only to be pulled down at the urging of Stalin in 1933.
Dmitri Donskoi replaced the oak walls with a strong citadel of white limestone in 1366–1368 on the basic foundations of the current walls; this fortification withstood a siege by Khan Tokhtamysh. Dmitri’s son Vasily I resumed construction of churches and cloisters in the Kremlin. The newly built Annunciation Cathedral was painted by Theophanes the Greek, Andrei Rublev, and Prokhor in 1405. The Chudov Monastery was founded by Dmitri’s tutor, Metropolitan Alexis; while his widow, Eudoxia, established the Ascension Convent in 1397.
The Assumption Cathedral was the site of coronation of Russian tsars. Grand Prince Ivan III organized the reconstruction of the Kremlin, inviting a number of skilled architects from Renaissance Italy, like Petrus Antonius Solarius, who designed the new Kremlin wall and its towers, and Marcus Ruffus who designed the new palace for the prince. It was during his reign that three extant cathedrals of the Kremlin, the Deposition Church, and the Palace of Facets were constructed. The highest building of the city and Muscovite Russia was the Ivan the Great Bell Tower, built in 1505–08 and augmented to its present height in 1600. The Kremlin walls as they now appear were built between 1485 and 1495. Spasskie gates of the wall still bear a dedication in Latin praising Petrus Antonius Solarius for the design.
After construction of the new kremlin walls and churches was complete, the monarch decreed that no structures should be built in the immediate vicinity of the citadel. The Kremlin was separated from the walled merchant town (Kitay-gorod) by a 30-meter-wide moat, over which Saint Basil’s Cathedral was constructed during the reign of Ivan the Terrible. The same tsar also renovated some of his grandfather’s palaces, added a new palace and cathedral for his sons, and endowed the Trinity metochion inside the Kremlin. The metochion was administrated by the Trinity Monastery and boasted the graceful tower church of St. Sergius, which was described by foreigners as one of the finest in the country.
During the Time of Troubles, the Kremlin was held by the Polish forces for two years, between Sept. 21, 1610 and Oct. 26, 1612. The Kremlin’s liberation by the volunteer army of Prince Dmitry Pozharsky and Kuzma Minin paved the way for the election of Mikhail Romanov as the new czar. During his reign and that of his son Alexis, the eleven-domed Upper Saviour Cathedral, Armorial Gate, Terem Palace, Amusement Palace and the palace of Patriarch Nikon were built. Following the death of Alexis, the Kremlin witnessed the Moscow Uprising of 1682, from which Czar Peter barely escaped. As a result both of them disliked the Kremlin. Three decades later, Peter abandoned the residence of his forefathers for his new capital, Saint Petersburg.
Although still used for coronation ceremonies, the Kremlin was abandoned and neglected until 1773, when Catherine the Great engaged Vasili Bazhenov to build her new residence there. Bazhenov produced a bombastic Neoclassical design on a heroic scale, which involved the demolition of several churches and palaces, as well as a portion of the Kremlin wall. After the preparations were over, construction halted due to lack of funds. Several years later, the architect Matvey Kazakov supervised the reconstruction of the dismantled sections of the wall and of some structures of the Chudov Monastery, and constructed the spacious and luxurious offices of the Senate, since adapted for use as the principal workplace of the President of Russia.
Following the French invasion of Russia in 1812, the French forces occupied the Kremlin from 2 Sept. 2 to Oct. 11. When Napoleon retreated from Moscow, he ordered the whole Kremlin to be blown up. The Kremlin Arsenal, several portions of the Kremlin Wall and several wall towers were destroyed by explosions and fires damaged the Faceted Chamber and churches. Explosions continued for three days, from Oct. 21-23. Fortunately, rain damaged the fuses, and the damage was less severe than intended. Restoration works were held in 1816–19, supervised by Osip Bove. During the remainder of Alexander I‘s reign, several ancient structures were renovated in a fanciful neo-Gothic style, but many others were condemned as “disused” or “dilapidated” (including all the buildings of the Trinity metochion) and simply torn down.
On visiting Moscow for his coronation festivities, Nicholas I was not satisfied with the Grand, or Winter, Palace, which had been erected to Rastrelli’s design in the 1750s. The elaborate Baroque structure was demolished, as was the nearby church of St. John the Precursor, built by Aloisio the New in 1508 in place of the first church constructed in Moscow. The architect Konstantin Thon was commissioned to replace them with the Grand Kremlin Palace, which was to rival the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg in its dimensions and the opulence of its interiors. The palace was constructed in 1839–49, followed by the new building of the Kremlin Armoury in 1851.
After 1851, the Kremlin changed little until the Russian Revolution of 1917; the only new features added during this period were the Monument to Alexander II and a stone cross marking the spot where Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich of Russia was assassinated by Ivan Kalyayev in 1905. These monuments were destroyed by the Bolsheviks in 1918.
The famous Spasskaya tower, with its ruby star added in 1937. The Kremlin Wall Necropolis is in the foreground.
The Soviet government moved from Petrograd to Moscow on March 12, 1918. Vladimir Lenin selected the Kremlin Senate as his residence. Joseph Stalin also had his personal rooms in the Kremlin. He was eager to remove from his headquarters all the “relics of the tsarist regime.” Golden eagles on the towers were replaced by shining Kremlin stars, while the wall near Lenin’s Mausoleum was turned into the Kremlin Wall Necropolis.
The Chudov Monastery and Ascension Convent, with their 16th-century cathedrals, were dismantled to make room for the military school and Palace of Congresses. The Little Nicholas Palace and the old Saviour Cathedral were pulled down as well. The residence of the Soviet government was closed to tourists until 1955. It was not until the Khrushchev Thaw that the Kremlin was reopened to foreign visitors. The Kremlin Museums were established in 1961 and the complex was among the first Soviet patrimonies inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1990.
Although the current director of the Kremlin Museums, Elena Gagarina (Yuri Gagarin‘s daughter) advocates a full-scale restoration of the destroyed cloisters, recent developments have been confined to expensive restoration of the original interiors of the Grand Kremlin Palace, which were altered during Stalin’s rule. The Patriarch of Moscow has a suite of rooms in the Kremlin, but divine service in the Kremlin cathedrals is held irregularly, because they are still administered as museums.
That’s what happens when Man tries to usurp God’s throne; he winds up paying obeisance to the Devil, instead.