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Remembering Joe

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Perhaps it is because I am an eternal optimist. Perhaps it is because I understand science and medicine very little. Perhaps it is because for twenty years I smoked like a chimney. Nonetheless, yesterday morning, when the news arrived that Joe Feuerhard had died, it took me by surprise. Perhaps I am confusing a sense of surprise with a sense of uncommon pain. The news came like a physical blow, as if I had been punched in the gut. For the next several hours, as the news spread and people called, no conversation failed to include tears. How could they not? For the real reasons I felt a sense of surprise, despite the fact that we all knew this moment was coming, and soon coming towards the end, was that life without Joe Feuerhard is, at the moment, an exceedingly painful proposition, and it is painful to exactly the degree that life was so much better with him.

Abp Dolan on Subsidiarity and Solidarity

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Last week, after Congressman Paul Ryan released his correspondence with Archbishop Timothy Dolan, some conservatives claimed the President of the USCCB was, in effect, endorsing the Ryan plan. This was obviously not true, but sometimes only a headline gets read and some headlines had more spin than others.

Now, Archbishop Dolan, having ginned up some broader interest in Catholic social teaching, follows his letter to Ryan with a column at his blog on the website of the Archdiocese of New York. Here he reiterates what he wrote to Ryan, namely, that one of the Catholic principles Ryan cited, subsidiarity, must always be linked to another such principle, solidarity.

Dolan also goes on to examine how the Church and her pastors interact with the political realm. He writes:

Newt's Getting Desperate

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When you look to a hack like Zell Miller for help, you're in trouble. Sarah Posner has the story at Religion Dispatches.
Mr. Gingrich: You are better than this. You are a Catholic now and you should consult what the Holy Father has had to say about Islam before jumping into bed with these neo-Crusaders.
I acknowledge the difficulties in Christian relations with Islam. I am aware of the violence that often accompanies the relationship in Africa and Indonesia and elsewhere. I hope that Islam will find, and find fast, some ways of accomodating itself to those parts of modernity that are worthy of accomodation, such as religious tolerance. But, this hate-filled nonsense is profoundly un-Christian.

NY-26 and the End of the Ryan Budget

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Kathy Hochul won big last night in the special election in NY-26. In such a rock-ribbed Republican district, winning by one vote is big, but winning 48 percent to the GOP candidate's 42 percent is very big. Yes, there was a third party candidate, Jack Davis, but it is unclear which party his votes would have gone to had he not been in the race. (Note to GOP strategists: Tea Partyers get Medicare too.) And before the voting began, the GOP tried to deflect blame for a loss by arguing that if Davis was in double digits, there was no way for the GOP to win. Alas, Davis did not get double digits and the GOP candidate still lost. This despite spending gobs of money.
As I mentioned yesterday, Medicare was the issue that drove the race. Medicare is not just an important issue in its own terms, but it is a kind of shorthand for "government we like." Americans love Medicare. So, while Republicans can often appeal to Independent voters by opposing "big government spending" in the abstract, when the issue is made not abstract, and budgets have a way of doing that, voters discover that they actually like government when it does certain things.

The GOP Presidential Field

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The GOP presidential field is beginning to take shape, and it has all the warmth and attraction of a jello-mold. This sad fact tells us nothing about President Obama’s political vulnerability: He is incredibly vulnerable. Like all presidents, Obama’s re-election chances hinge largely on the economy and even as the recovery gains steam, most economists are not predicting the kind of increase in employment in the next year that would turn Obama’s campaign in 2012 into a repeat of Reagan’s 1984 “It’s morning in America” campaign.

Furthermore, Obama does not have until November 2012 to bring down the unemployment rate. People’s sense of the economy has a lag time, as George H.W. Bush found out in 1992. Even though the economy really was rebounding by election day, people’s views of the state of the economy start hardening in February and by the end of March, barring a catastrophe, those views are set. Certainly, filing income taxes is always a cold shower for every family, inviting them to take off any rose-colored glasses when assessing their economic status.

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April 11-24, 2014

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