Ken Langone, the founder of Home Depot and big GOP donor, recently complained that some big donors were reluctant to write checks because they did not like what Papa Francesco has to say about capitalism. In Boston, the archdiocese announced that the annual cardinal's appeal took in $1 million more this year than last, topping out at more than $15 million.
Here is a link to remarks made by U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power at a commemoration of the Holocaust in New York. She rightly notes that while the Shoah belongs in a category of horror all its own, the obligations of humanity extend today to Syria. Here is a moral voice in the Obama White House.
Last night's State of the Union was not the best or the worst such speech. And it reflected the political realities of the day. Gone is the aspiration to change the way Washington works. Gone is most of the hope and change. The agenda has shrunk in the five years of Barack Obama's presidency.
At the website for Best College Reviews, where apparently no one ever looked up the meaning of the word "cathedral," they nonetheless have assembled what they deem the 30 most beautiful campus churches. I would quibble with putting the Cathedral of Toledo and Santiago de Compostela on the list, just because they are adjacent to a campus and have some association with that school: They are not campus churches. But, it is nice to look at pretty pictures of buildings consecrated to worship.
As I mentioned this morning, I do not hold out much hope that President Obama will use his speech tonight to re-dedicate our foreign policy to the promotion of human rights. This essay by Leon Wieseltier at The New Republic is the finest indictment of Obama's foreign policy I have seen.
Pete Seeger and Billy Bragg devised this English translation of the Internationale:
And here is Bragg singing it at Seeger's 90th birthday party:
Our friend Morning's Minion, at Vox Nova, has a great post up about income inequality and the economy of exclusion. Really strong analysis.
If you would have told me this time last year that NETWORK would be hosting a game of bingo on the theme of finding the Holy Father's words in the State of the Union speech, I would have told you that you were nuts. But, our friends at NETWORK have the Francis wind at their back and have more hope than I do that the wind will carry all the way to the podium in the House of Representatives where Obama will deliver his speech. And, what catholic doesn't love bingo?
The State of the Union speech is, admittedly, one of the worst speeches to have to deliver on the planet. Every White House speech-writer will tell you they begin with the idea that, this year, the speech will not turn into a laundry list, but each year, a laundry list it becomes. Additionally, since these speeches have been broadcast, the president has two audiences, the members of Congress in the room and the television audience outside, and it is often difficult to speak to both groups at the same time.
Turns out I am not the only one who thinks flashmobs are just great! I got several emails from friends who agreed with me that last week's feature, of an orchestra and chorus doing the "Ode to Joy" from Beethoven's Ninth was one of the best flashmobs they had ever seen. The combo of such a staple of the classical repertoire performed in such a different style is just plain fun. But, this one, sent by a friend, may even be better. Hard to top a couple hundred Russians trying hard to look like Gary Cooper.