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.
h/t to Rocco: The hierarch on a Harley. Gotta love it.
Last week, Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good asked me to pen an essay on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I chose to focus on the fact that we usually remember Dr. King, rightly, as a civil rights icon, but he was much more than that. You can find it by clicking here.
Jesuit Fr. Tom Reese and E.J. Dionne are two men from whom I have learned a great deal over the years. I first came to know Fr. Reese through his writings, which were enlightening both in their knowledge and their analysis. E.J. I came to know while working at Kramerbooks, which is just around the corner from the Brookings Institution, where E.J. keeps his office. I am in their debt and have been for more than two decades and, happily, both men have become friends. Additionally, Fr. Reese is now my colleague here at NCR.