Peter Berkowitz, writing at the Wall Street Journal, has a splendid essay on why we need Civics classes in our schools. We wouldn't go to see a physician who had not been to Med School, why would we entrust our democracy to people unschooled in the basics of government?
At yesterday's Natonal Prayer Vigil for the Jobless and Jobs, our friend Patrick Carolan, Executive Director of the Franciscan Action Network, addressed the crowd. You can read my earlier article about the Franciscan Action Network here.
Here is the text of his remarks:
Statement by Patrick Carolan Executive Director Franciscan Action Network
Faith Advocates for Jobs National Prayer Vigil
For the Jobless and Jobs Prayer Service
12-08-2011 Upper Senate Park US Capitol
Brothers and Sisters Good Morning
Peace and All Good:
I would like to start with a reading from the Gospel of Matthew 25 34-40
Yesterday, the blogging was a little thin because I attended an all-day conference at the Pew Research Center on media coverage of religion and politics. The event brought together journalists and scholars to look at past coverage, analyze current polling data, and discuss issues regarding news coverage of religion.
John Green, a senior research adviser at Pew and professor at the University of Akron, and Alan Cooperman, the Pew Forum’s associate director for research, provided some interesting data on a survey conducted in the beginning of November. The Republican race has changed quite a bit since then – Cain was then in the lead and Gingrich had not begun his race to the top of the polls – but much of the data was still enlightening.
According to a new survey, President Barack Obama continues to receive high marks from both African-American and Latino voters. His numbers among Latinos are down slightly from 2008: Then, he received the votes of 67 percent of Latinos according to exit polls, but the new survey only shows him taking 64 percent. That downturn, however, comes before what you can expect will be some hard-hitting ads about the increasingly virulent anti-immigration stances of the various GOP candidates. Key states such as Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, North Carolina and Florida may all depend on how well Obama does among Latinos.
Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius yesterday overruled the Food and Drug Administration’s decision to make Plan-B, the morning-after pill, available without a prescription to any woman of child-bearing age. Sebelius’s decision is a victory for common sense and it is not, as it is being portrayed, a defeat for science. It is only a defeat for scientism, the reduction of science to that status of an ideology, an "ism."
Plan B is currently available without a prescription to any woman aged 17 or over. Anyone younger than that needs a prescription. The FDA’s recommendation would have allowed girls as young as 11 to purchase the drug in any drug store without any parental consent or doctor’s prescription. “There is adequate and reasonable, well-supported, and science-based evidence that Plan B One-Step is safe and effective and should be approved for nonprescription use for all females of child-bearing potential,” FDA Administrator Margaret Hamburg said in a statement.
Archbishop Vincent Nichols is being attacked by some conservative catholics for remarks he made regarding civil unions for same-sex partners, according to a report at vatican Insider.
This is silly. The Archbishop did not endorse civil unions, which are already the law of the land, but he insisted that they allow some of the objectives sought by those seeking same-sex marriage in the UK and are, in his estimation, a preferable alternative to changing the legal definition of marriage. More importantly, how is what Abp Nichols said different from what then-Abp, now Cardinal, William Levada endorsed when, as Abp of San Francisco, he worked out a compromise with the city government regarding the extension of health care and other benefits to same sex partners? Levada and the city agreed that those who work at agencies that receive government funds can name anyone they want to receive benefits, provided that person lives with them legally. It can be an unemployed cousin, a retired aunt, or a same sex partner.
Rick Perry has launched a new ad that claims he will end what he calls "Obama's war on religion." Given Perry's sometimes tenuous grasp on the facts, I suppose we should all be grateful that he did not accuse Obama of renewing the Hundred Years war. But, as I have warned previously, again and again, the narrative that Democrats are hostile to religion is alive and well and the administration should not feed that narrative by doing something really stupid on conscience exemptions.
Here is the video of Perry's ad.
The American Life League recently sent out a fundraising appeal that renews its attack on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), the anti-poverty program administered by the United States. Of course, no one should write a check to the American Life League unless they begin to abide by the best-practices recommended for non-profits, as I wrote about here.
Most of the multi-page appeal merely repeats the charges against CCHD that the American Life League has leveled in the past. But something in the third to the last paragraph jumped off the page at me. Judie Brown, the high priestess of the American Life League, writes, “Please know this, at the time of my writing this letter to you, the CCHD has publicly responded to criticism by defunding only two of the groups in our report – both of which were confirmed to still be doing months later exactly what we found seven months ago! What other evidence do we need?”
That tagline – "What other evidence do we need?” sounded eerily familiar. In the 14th Chapter of the Gospel of St. Mark, we read of the trial of Jesus:
There was a lot to like, but also something missing, in the President’s much-touted speech in Osawatomie, Kansas, a location chosen because of the President’s desire to echo the sentiments expressed by President Theodore Roosevelt in his “New Nationalism” speech in the same small town more than a century ago. Indeed, the choice of location demonstrated more than any quotes ever could, two key facts that the President needs to emphasize as he begins his re-election big. First, Obama is no radical and, second, today’s Republican Party is a far cry from Teddy Roosevelt’s Republican Party.
Marty Peretz has been a friend of mine for a long time and I have learned most of what I know about Zionism from him or from books he has recommended to me. Many people dismiss Marty because, as one of the leading controversialists of his time, he has said some things that are, well, provocative. Others have criticized his handling of the New Republic although, I would submit, he has kept that magazine more relevant to serious discussions on the left than any of its competitors and has continued to produce outstanding journalism, and give outstanding journalists their start in the business, since he bought the magazine in the early 1970s.
Today, at TNR, he has an essay that demonstrates something about Marty that many people miss amidst the controversy: He is deeply learned. His essay on the challenges Israel faces from its own rightwingers is so smart, so full of knowledge and insight, and, yes, provocative, I mark it down as one of my top ten favorite essays of the year. You can read it here.