Over at Mirror of Justice, Rick Garnett responds to the Commonweal editorial on religious freedom. I would differ from Garnett's fine essay in only one regard: He refers often to "the bishops" and how they do not want to be partisan and how their statement should not beunderstood in partisan terms. This is mostly true. Sadly, there are some bishops who really are Obama-haters, their hatred clouds their judgment, and too often they can hijack the entire debate in ways that are unhelpful. Additionally, there are other bishops who are too quick to listen to people like Mary Ann Glendon or Robbie George, neither of whom are unclean when it comes to partisan politics. Overall, "the bishops" are not engaged in a partisan enterprise, but some are only too delighted if their legitimate concerns about religious liberty were to make it more likely Obama was defeated in November.
The Public Religion Research Institute released a new study today based on their extensive surveys of Millenials, those aged 18-24. You can find the survey info here.
Politically, what jumps out at me is not only that Obama leads by a healthy margin 7 point margin over a generic GOP candidate (and in many polls, a generic Republican does better than a specific one). The bigger fact is that the Millenials themselves are changing demographically in ways that bode well for the long term future of the Democrats: 57% of Millenials self-identify as white compared to 72% of the overall population.
The other fascinating thing is that a slim majority (51%) of Millenials believe abortion is morally wrong, compared to only 37% who think it is morally acceptable. But, a larger majority, 54%, think abortion should be legal in all or most cases. The Millenials, then, are not afraid of making moral judgments for themselves but are much more wary of making such judgments for others. This trend is even more pronounced on the issue of same-sex marriage.
In an appearance on the Charlie Rose Show last night, House Speaker John Boehner was asked about the USCCB's criticism of the Ryan budget. He was not so much dismissive as he simply ignored what the bishops said and denied that the poor would be harmed by the Ryan budget. Huh? Cutting billions from Medicaid and nutritional programs won't hurt the poor?
This morning's Washington Post has two op-eds that look at the central socio-political problem of the past several decades - growing income inequality and its effects on society - from different angles. Both are worth reading.
E.J. Dionne mines the kerfuffle over working Moms.
Harold Meyerson looks at the need to raise the minimum wage and strengthen the rights of labor.
In the early 1950s, as my mother was completing her degree at what was then known as the Willimantic State Teachers College, now Eastern Connecticut State University, as part of her training she was a student teacher at the Horace Porter Elementary School in the nearby Columbia, Connecticut. She was leading the fifth grade class in a survey of world affairs and did a presentation on the Soviet Union. One of her students unhelpfully went home and told her parents that my Mom was teaching communism. This was during the McCarthy era and the Red Scare it spawned, so this child’s comments landed my mother in front of the president of her college. She was almost expelled. Fortunately, a World War II veteran was in the classroom as a student teacher with her, and was able to assure the college’s administrators that my mother was teaching about communism not advocating for it, and she was given her degree. But, you can imagine her fear at the time.
My colleague John Allen reports on the possibility that the Society of St. Pius X may have agreed to sign the doctrinal preamble the Vatican demanded as a precondition to their reunification with the Catholic Church.
This news, if all the i's get dotted and the t's crossed, will be greeted by some of my liberal friends with much gnashing of teeth. They should relax. It is entirely a good thing when someone, anyone, returns to the fold. Rome has not budged to make this happen. No doctrine has been compromised to affect the reunion. As I mentioned the other day in quite a different context, diversity is a good thing and bringing the Lefebvrists, with all their lace and other quirkiness, can only add to the rich tapestry of Catholicism in the twenty-first century. It is time for liberals to stand with James Joyce who famously said that being Catholic means "here comes everybody." And so it does.
Here is something we can all celebrate: the 150th anniversary of the Cavaille-Coll organ at the Church of Saint-Sulpice in Paris. This organ has had among its titulaires, two of the greatest French composers of all time, Charles-Marie Widor and Marcel Dupre. So, if you have heard the justly famous Widor Toccata from his Fifth Symphony played at a particular festive liturgy, this was the organ that piece of music was composed on.
This week, Pipedreams from American Public Radio commemorated the anniversary of this magnificent organ with an entire show dedicated to it. You can listen to the audio here.
And here is a recording of the Widor Toccata on the Saint-Suplice organ:
Yesterday, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops released the texts of four letters to various House committee chairs in which the bishops assess the moral ramifications of the federal budget. In each of the letters (links to the texts can be found here), the bishops reiterate the key criteria for such moral evaluations, the protection of human dignity, how proposals affect “the least of these,” and whether or not a given proposal advances the common good. The bishops could not be more clear in rendering their verdict: “The House-passed budget resolution fails to meet these moral criteria.”
That is the verdict of Morning's Minion at Vox Nova on the decision by the National Right to Life Committee to endorse the presidential candidacy of Mitt Romney. They cite their opposition to the Affordable Care Act as one of the principal reasons for their endorsement.
The NRLC was once something other than an arm of the Republican Party. Most famously, in 1996, they opposed welfare reform on the principles grounds that the legislation might result in a higher abortion rate. I think they were wrong to oppose the law on the merits, but I admired their consistency in doing so.
As Morning's Minion points out, however, one of the essential differences between Romney's health care reform and Obama's is that Romney's explicitly provided for taxpayer funded abortions and Obama's did not. Additionally, Romney's support for the Ryan budget, which would drastically introduce market forces into health care decisions for the elderly by voucherizing Medicare, should make the NRLC wary. At least the old NRLC would have been wary. The new one has drink the GOP Kool-Aid. Shame on them.
The mighty fall like freshly cut hair. The metaphor suggests itself with the news that former Sen. John Edwards no longer goes to a Beverly Hills salon to shell out hundreds for a haircut but now heads over to "Supercuts" in Raleigh where a mere $12.95 will do the job.
Watching the mighty fall risks the sin of schadenfreude, but it is, nonetheless, a healthy instinct in a democracy. And, besides, in this case, it gives us the chance to recall an all-time YouTube favorite.