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A Grim Anniversary

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While much attention has been focussed on the one year anniversary of the oil spill in the Gulf, it is also the one year anniversary of Arizona's enactment of SB 1070, the restrictive, racist, anti-immigrant legislation. The National Council of La Raza has issued a report on the law and the copycat legislation that has followed in other states. Those who think Arizona's path is the path to follow should be forewarned: It only promises a lot of expensive litigation, a population outflow of both documented and undocumented workers, and a black eye in the image department as tourists choose friendlier locales.

Roy Moore For President?

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The Albama judge who was removed from the bench when he refused to remove the Ten Commandments from the Alabama Supreme Court building announced his plans to seek the presidency the other day. The inimitable Dana Milbank has the low down. Funniest part of the story? Moore's website includes his birth certificate. Watch out Donald Trump - you have competition for the lunatic vote. And according to a post at Politico, a stunning 48 percent of expected GOP caucus voters in Iowa do not think President Obama was born in the U.S. An additional 26 percent were unsure. Somedays, it is just easier to be a Democrat than others.

Meyerson: Follow the Money

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In this morning's Washington Post, Harold Meyerson points out that those who are panting after deficit reduction need to recognize that the source of wealth in America has changed over the past decades, and that the on-going disparities between the way investment income and wages are taxed is part of the problem. There is no FICA (Social Security) tax on investment income, nor any Medicare tax. This has to do with how these programs were originally devised, but there is no moral reason to reward income earned by the sweat of someone else's brow over that earned by one's own.

Celebration of Tenebrae expresses expectation, suffering

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The Wednesday of Holy Week, at least at my church, features the celebration of Tenebrae, a deeply moving and ancient liturgy that combines the services of Matins and Lauds for the Triduum and anticipates them by one day. Tenebrae serves as a vigil for the Triduum. The beauty of the service is focused on the expression of two emotions that we moderns distinctly do not like to encounter: expectation and suffering.

Obama Hosts Easter Prayer Breakfast

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President Obama held his second Easter Prayer Breakfast this morning at the White House. Of course, we have not even gotten to Good Friday yet, but the timing of the breakfast was apparently unavoidable. Yesterday, a senior White House official told NCR that the breakfast was held on the Tuesday of Holy Week at the request of ministers who were otherwise engaged on Easter. For clergy, of course, Holy Week is a hellishly busy week! Still, it is good to remember that setting the date of Easter was cause for great controversy in the early Christian church as some followed the Roman practice of celebrating Easter on Sunday while other Eastern churches followed the Hebrew calendar and celebrated it on the 14th of Nisan, no matter what day of the week it fell on. So there is at least an Eastern precedent for celebrating Easter today.

The Surprising Opposition to Pope Benedict

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On this sixth anniversay of the election of Pope Benedict XVI, it is well to recall the sense of dread with which many of us on the more progressive side of things greeted his election. And, who can forget George Weigel opining that "the 'progressive' project is over."
I would submit that this sense of dread has not been borne out by the pontificate itself and that the wisest thing said on the day of Benedict's election was the sage observation that "Ratzinger the cardinal will not necessarily be a true guide for Benedict the Pope."
Indeed, within a year, it was the conservatives who were gnashing their teeth. I wrote an article for Slate that recalled Father Richard John Neuhaus's expressions of disappointment at what Benedict had wrought. Since then, the conservatives have continued to be disappointed. Even when Benedict does something they like, such as issuing Summorum Pontificum, which permitted all priests to say the Traditional Latin Mass, that decision has not been accompanied by any promotion of the Traditional Latin Mass. For example, Pope Benedict himself has never presided over one of the traditionalist liturgies.

The Chrism Mass

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Traditionally, the Chrism Mass is said on the morning of Holy Thursday, the same day as the commemoration of the Last Supper, given its strong emphasis on the presbyterate. In Rome, the Chrism Mass is said at St. Peter’s in the morning and then the Pope goes to his cathedral (St. Peter’s is not a cathedral; it is a very large church), St. John Lateran, across town in the evening for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper. Here in Washington, we often use the National Shrine for large events such as priestly ordinations, but the Chrism Mass and the Mass of the Lord’s Supper, these are reserved for the Cathedral.

Get Angry About Taxes

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According to an IRS study, the top 400 adjusted gross incomes in the nation, that is the super-super-rich, have seen their tax payments drop from 26 percent of their income in 1992 to 19 percent today.
So, the next time you hear some conservative bloviator complain about how we shouldn't even think of raising taxes on the super-rich, remember this: Your taxes and mine have not plummetted in the past two decades. Before they cut Medicare, why not make the rich pay what they owe, eliminate the loopholes that allow them to dodge taxes, and see if that doesn't go a long way towards closing the federal budget deficit!

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August 15-28, 2014

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