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The Reyes Appointment

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The news that Jonathan Reyes has been tapped to lead the USCCB’s Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development raises some interesting questions. Mr. Reyes is currently the president and CEO of Catholic Charities and Community Services of the Archdiocese of Denver.

First, let it be stated that there is always a case to be made for introducing new blood into any organization. But, there is also a reason people compile resumes. In the press release announcing the appointment, Msgr. Ronny Jenkins stated, “Jonathan Reyes brings vital experience with on-the-ground charities work and with young adults and is a proven administrator.” Great. But, the job that Mr. Reyes has been given also includes lobbying Congress and the administration. It is unclear from Mr. Reyes’ resume that he knows which Metro stop to get off at Capitol Hill, let alone which doors to knock on. At a time when the USCCB is engaged in very delicate and important negotiations, on everything from budgetary matters to promoting religious freedom at home and abroad, it might have been advisable to get someone who was better known and more familiar with the ways of political Washington.

Romney and the 47%

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Over the summer, when the GOP attacked President Obama for “dividing America” I thought the charge laughable. For all my problems with this President, I do not think any fair-minded person could charge him with responsibility for the increasing polarization and partisanship in DC or beyond the Beltway. It was not Obama who shouted “You lie!” at a member of Congress during the State of the Union. It was not Obama who said, as Sen. Mitch McConnell did, that his over-riding objective was not to strengthen the country but to defeat the other party. And, beyond Washington, it was the Tea Party on the right that created such memorable moments as the anti-Obamacare rally that featured someone with a sign: “No gov’t run health care: Hands off my Medicare.”

Election 2012: Medicaid

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Last week we looked at Medicare. This week, let’s turn our attention to Medicaid, the joint federal-state program that provides health care to the poor.

Medicaid has always suffered politically from the fact that it is a benefit for a portion of the population, not for everybody. It was Franklin Roosevelt’s genius to make Social Security available to all Americans, an entitlement that is, consequently, politically untouchable. In the best of all possible worlds, America would have long since adopted universal health insurance with some kind of single payer system, and health care would then be untouchable politically. But, things did not work out that way. Indeed, because a single payer system had zero chance of passing Congress, one of the ways the Obama health care reforms expand coverage to more Americans is by expanding the number of people eligible for Medicaid.

2 Must-Reads at WaPo

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Michael Gerson is one of conservatism's more thoughtful commentators and today he recalls two speeches by then-candidates Bill Clinton and George W. Bush in which they challenged the orthodoxy of their own parties in ways we did not see in Tampa and Charlotte. His article is here.

Right next to Gerson's op-ed was an article by Robert Kagan on the situation in Egypt and why some of the rhetoric on the right is not only wrong but dangerous. Last night, watching Sean Hannity, I was hoping someone of Kagan's stature would take on this ridiculous anti-Islamic drumbeating, and I am delighted to see Kagan do the job. I should add that Mr. Hannity called in as his expert on these issues - Sarah Palin. Hmmmm. Maybe she can see Libya from her house too.

On Campus Diversity & Freedom

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Greg Lukianoff of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has a fascinating, and I think compelling, article up over at RealClearReligion.

The article caught my eye, of course, because it concerns Liberty University, founded by Rev. Jerry Falwell. But, Lukianoff takes a very interesting approach to the issue, noting the subtle and not-so-subtle ways liberal universities like the Ivy's discriminate against certain types of speech, versus the approach of a school like Liberty, and, most interestingly, the conflicting demands on a school like Georgetown.

I do not know Lukianoff but this is good stuff for anyone who, like me, is tired of some liberals neglecting their own commitment to diversity the second that commitment is extended to more conservative voices.

Toleration & Respect

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I had intended to write about the need for Americans – our government, our diplomats and the rest of us – to be quite unequivocal in both championing our right to free speech and in condemning the abuse of that right by those who denigrate the religion of others. I had intended to specifically frame this as an American issue, not just a Catholic issue. But, then I grabbed the morning paper and Melinda Henneberger beat me to the punch. She makes the case I wanted to make and made it better than I could have done.

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August 28-September 10, 2015

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