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Government Is Not a Business

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Congressman Eric Cantor, the Majority Leader of the House of Representatives, indicated that before he and his GOP colleagues would consent to more funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), they would have to make other budget cuts to offset the new funds. FEMA is quickly running out of money and had to divert funds from some rebuilding projects from earlier tragedies to meet the immediate needs of Hurricane Irene.

At one level, Cantor’s position is easy to understand. After all, despite the fact that ours is a wealthy nation, Cantor thinks our government takes in too much in taxes, even though tax rates are at historic lows. Cantor is one of those who want to apply a business model to the government budget, to stop spending more than we take in, someone who must have studied double entry accounting and knows that the numbers at the bottom of the ledger need to match. His comments on FEMA is just the latest iteration of an already well articulated stance.

Conservative Hero On Keynes

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Today, conservatives like to dismiss the value of the economic theories of John Maynard Keynes and "keynesianism" has became a sort of Tea Party cuss word. These same conservatives also tend to be fans of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill - and, who isn't?
So, it was with relish that I just this afternoon was reacquainted with a letter from Churchill to Sir John Anderson, the Lord President of the Council, dated January 28, 1941. Churchill had assigned Anderson the task of "harnessing to our war-making machine the full economic resources of the nation." In the letter he writes: "You should summon economists like Keynes to give their views to you personally."

WaPo on Perpetual Adoration

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This morning's Washington Post has an article about perpetual adoration at the Church of St. John Neumann in Gaithersburg, Maryland. The article appears in the style section no less. Some things never go out of style.
While some look to the earthquake and to Irene for divine portents, I am struck by the fact that yesterday's NYTimes quoted a Catholic archbishop favorably and today the Washington Post has an article about this most Catholic of devotions. Hell may not be freezing over, but the icy indifference with which the mainstream press usually treats religion may be melting.

Irene & Government

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Last summer, I drove with a friend into the mountains of Vermont to visit the Vermont Law School. It is in the small town of South Royalton, which is also famous as the birthplace of Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormons. Like most small towns in Vermont, South Royalton sits at the foot of steep hillocks and mountains, alongside a river. That day, the river sparkled in the sunshine. The river is fast-flowing at all times, receiving all the rainfall and snowfall from all those mountains, down all those creeks, and channeling all that water towards the nearby Connecticut River. Last summer, it was a beautiful sight.

The past two days, the vistas of Vermont’s beautiful, fast-running creeks and rivers turned horrific. People who are quite accustomed to three foot snow drifts and temperatures hovering near zero in January are not accustomed to tropical storms and neither was their landscape. From Brattleboro in the south, to Royalton in the center of the state, to Montpelier in the north, whole sections of towns were washed away and buildings made unusable, including the state office building in Montpelier that houses most of the state’s government agencies.

NYTimes Praises RC Opposition to AL Immigration Law

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It is not every day that the New York Times editorial page quotes a Roman Catholic bishop approvingly. But, in an editorial this morning, the Times quotes Mobile Archbishop Thomas Rodi in backing his opposition to a new draconian anti-immigration law in Alabama. The archbishop has joined with other religious leaders in a lawsuit to block the law. Rodi said, "The law attacks our core understanding of what it means to be a church." And, so it does.
Let's hope that someone in the next GOP presidential candidate debates asks the candidates their position on the new law.

O'Brien to Rome

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Archbishop Edwin O'Brien's appointment as Pro-Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre took most everyone by surprise. There had been talk that Archbsihop Pietro Sambi, who served as nuncio both in the U.S. where the Order raises much of its funds, and in Jerusalem, where the Order undertakes much of its work, would be named to the post, but that talk ended with Sambi's untimely death. There had earlier been talk that Cardinal Justic Rigali was angling for the post, but the release of a second Grand Jury Report detailing a failure to abide by the Dallas Norms on Rigali's watch scotched that talk. Then, there was talk that Cardinal Franc Rode would get the nod, but his advanced age seemed to preclude that possibility.

Evangelicals & Science

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The relationship between faith and reason is one of the fault lines in Western culture. There have always been different schools of theological thinking within the Church to be sure, but the lines became especially fractured after Martin Luther warned his fellow Protestants to “Beware the whore, Reason, for she will go with any man.” In our own day, the fault lines are most frequently found in the “battle” between science and religion and, it appears that the GOP presidential primaries will include at least some attention to these lines.

Prominent RCs Write To Sebelius on Conscience Protections

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At noon Friday, a group of prominent Catholics released a letter to Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius recommending that she amend the proposed rule on mandated health care coverage to provide for more expansive conscience protections for religious organizations. The letter is signed by some of the same academics who penned a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner in advance of his commencement address at Catholic University in May, calling on him to support policies that reflect Catholic social teaching. The main organizer of both letters is Professor Stephen Schneck, Director of CUA’s Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies.

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July 4-17, 2014

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