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The End of Don't Ask/Don't Tell

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Not sure about you, but I feel safer already. Don't Ask/Don't Tell, the compromise policy, which was a step forward in its day, has officially ended. So, servicemen and women who happen to be gay, no longer have to worry about their personal lives being discovered and can better pay attention to their mission. Nor do they have to worry about being blackmailed by anyone. Nor do commanders have to worry about losing key staff at critical times.

I will venture the prediction that five years from now, people will have a hard time remembering what DADT was like. The military rose to the challenge of racial integration and it will rise to the occasion again. And, we will all be safer because of it not least because our values of equality and a decent respect for the privacy of others will be more fully enfleshed by consigning DADT to history.

Shoddy Reporting at The Hill

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John Feehery, a former Republican Capitol Hill staffer who now works for a Republican media outfit, has an article up at The Hill regarding the issue of conscience protections currently being formulated by the Department of Health & Human Services. He wonders why the Obama Administration would risk alienating Catholic swing voters.

That is a good question, but Feehery is not very good at reporting the issue. He writes: "At issue is a new government mandate that Catholic hospitals provide contraception services, a mandate that directly contravenes church teachings." No, actually, what is at issue is whether or not Catholic institutions, including colleges and universities, social service agencies, and hospitals too, would have to purchase insurance for their employees that includes coverage for contraceptive services.

Habemus Papabile

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Today, at Castel Gandolfo, Pope Benedict XVI imposed the pallium on Cardinal Angelo Scola, the new Archbishop of Milan. This is a special vestment, worn only by metropolitan archbishops and worn only within their metropolitan province. Usually, the pallia are imposed on the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul at a special Mass at St. Peter's in the Vatican. In earlier times, the pallia were imposed in an archbishop's cathedral. I asked a Vatican watcher what was the significance was of this special imposition of the pallium on Cardinal Scola and he emailed back "Habemus papam." That may be a bit excessive. But, we certainly habemus papabile.

MSW Replies to Fr. Komonchak

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It has taken me more time than I wished to respond to a query over at Commonweal from Father Joseph Komonchak about a post I wrote here at “Distinctly Catholic.” My original post, which can be found here, dealt with a recent speech by Archbishop Charles Chaput in which I faulted Chaput for gliding past some of the difficulties in his reading of the American founding.

One does not respond casually to a query from Fr. Komonchak who knows more about Vatican II than anyone I know. Additionally, I had to track down a specific book that I had lent someone because part of it was on point. But, in the event, the issue Fr. Komochak raised is perennial so the lack of timeliness does not diminish its import.

The question is twofold: Does the Second Vatican Council’s Decree on Religious Liberty endorse the notion of freedom at the heart of the First Amendment? and, secondly, does the fact that we even have to ask the question make Pope Benedict squirm?

Noah on Tax Apples and Tax Oranges

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Timothy Noah, who has joined The New Republic, explains one of the worst shell games in economic talking points about who pays what in taxes. Yes, the rich pay a higher percentage of total income tax revenue than the rest of us because they make more than the rest of us.

And, if you tune into Fox any night of the week, you will hear someone lamenting that the poor do not pay any federal income tax. That's true, of course, but it is also true that federal payroll taxes, and state sales taxes and property taxes, take up a larger percentage of their income than do income taxes for the very rich.

Lies, damned lies, and statistics.

Palestinian Statehood? Not Tall Enough

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If you ever go to an amusement park, at the beginning of the line to get on the roller coaster, there is a sign that reads, "You must be this tall to board this ride?"

As the United Nations get ready to decide on whether or not to recognize Palestine as an independent state, the same question should be applied. Are the Palestinians tall enough to ride this ride?

Of course, there is a prior question. Which Palestinians are being measured? In the West Bank, there is still a woefully corrupt government structure that, among other things, was unable to prevent terrorists from conducting attacks against Israel. The much maligned security wall the Israelis constructed has kept the terrorists from bombing pizza parlors and discoteques. In Gaza, the Palestinan government does not harbor terrorists, it employs them. Hamas runs Gaza and they are rightly considered a terrorist organization. So, the two territories that would constitute a putative Palestinan state are not even governed by one government. Should Hamas get a seat at the UN? Why not Hezbollah too?

The Evil Effort to Restrict the Franchise

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The Republicans may be wrong when they repeat their mantra about “job killing tax cuts” seeing as jobs increased after Bill Clinton raised taxes and have not done so in the ten years since George W. Bush lowered them. Other economic factors have more to do with job growth than the tax rate. I believe there is something dangerous, not just wrong, in the affinity some Republicans have for the Austrian school of economics with its anti-Christian understanding of the human person.

But, the efforts of some GOP governors and state legislatures to restrict the franchise is not only wrong and not only dangerous, it is profoundly un-American. Regular readers will know that this is not an adjective I use lightly.

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