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USCCB Action Alert

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The following Action Alert from the USCCB was issued today. (I apologize if links do not work - my cursor is beyond skittish and, as soon as I return to DC next week, will be getting a new computer. Bear with me.)

Take ACTION!

Protect our Poor and Vulnerable Brothers and Sisters

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops urges Congress and the Administration to protect programs for poor and vulnerable persons during deficit reduction negotiations that are happening this week.

What you can do:

Urge the Administration and Congress to give priority to poor and vulnerable persons in the negotiations to reduce the deficit.

Fiscal responsibility is important and our current budget deficit must be addressed; however, a just framework for future budgets cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons. A balanced approach requires shared sacrifice by all, including raising adequate revenues, eliminating unnecessary spending, and addressing the long-term costs of health insurance and retirement programs fairly.

Urge Congress and the Administration to consider these moral criteria to guide their budgetary decisions:

Michelle Bachmann & the Tea Party

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Chris Cillizza, the very bright political reporter at the Washington Post, looks at Michelle Bachmann's explicit efforts to become the, make that THE, Tea Party candidate of choice. And, he compares that effort to the 2008 effort of Gov, Mike Huckabee to become THE candidate of the religious right.
But, as Mark Silk points out, there is more than a little overlap between the Tea Party and the religious right. And, I would add that while Huckabee built his lightly financed campaign on the social network of home schoolers, in Bachmann, those home schoolers see not only a champion as they did with Huckabee, but one of their own. After all, most of the parents who actually do the home schooling are women.

Cardinal Scola to Milan

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There is no more important appointment a Pope makes than picking an Archbishop of Milan. One of the five largest dioceses in the world, with an illustrious history and its own Ambrosian Rite, Milan has given two of its sons to the papacy in the past century, Pope Pius XI and Pope Paul VI. So, the news that the Patriarch of Venice, Cardinal Angelo Scola, is headed to Milan is very big news. There is an irony here too: Scola was considered too close to the ecclesial group Communione e Liberazione as a young man and, so, was denied admission to the Milanese seminary!

Blagojevich & Scandal

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It is not with a sense of schadenfreude that I heard the news that former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich had been convicted on multiple charges of corruption, most but not all relating to his attempt to “sell” the Senate seat President Obama vacated upon his election and which Blagojevich had the legal right to fill. I take no delight in the prospect of any man going to prison for 300 years, which is what Blagojevich is facing. But, I do take delight in the verdict as a vindication for the idea that no man is above the law and that, in the realm of politics, no crime is more grave than manipulating our constitutional system.

Berkowitz Reviews Gerson & Wehner

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Peter Berkowitz is one of the three smartest people I have ever met. Our politics differ widely, but his commentaries are always thoughtful and profoundly intelligent, informed by his habit of devouring literature and articles and an almost super-human ability to recall everything he has ever read.
In the current Weekly Standard, Berkowitz reviews a new book by Michael Gerson and Peter Wehner, "Religion and Politics In a New Era." I do quibble with Berkowitz's line about "our universities." Our? My alma mater, Catholic University, taught me very well how to resist intellectual fads of the kind Berkowitz finds unsatisfying. But, the review - and the book - are the kinds of conservative contributions our national political debate needs. There is no Ayn Rand foolishness here, no ahistorical renderings of the founding, no Tea Party hatefulness.

Another Organ, Another Memory

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One of the commenters on my blog post about playing the organ at St. Joseph’s Church mentioned going on an “organ crawl” in Holland. For those unfamiliar with the term, an “organ crawl” is when one or more organists make a tour of instruments in a region. I do not know why the word “crawl” is employed, except that some organs are in lofts with difficult access.

In the event, my organ crawl of Northeast Connecticut continued this weekend. On Friday, I went to St. Mark’s Episcopal Chapel in Storrs, Connecticut, located right on the campus of the University of Connecticut. St. Mark’s hosts a 1978 organ built by John Brombaugh, an organ builder in Oregon. In that summer of 1978, I was a go-fer on the project of installing this organ and learned a great deal about the intricate mechanics of the instrument.

Feliz Fiesta!

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Today is the Solemnity of the Birth of St. John the Baptist, the patronal feast of the island of Puerto Rico and especially of the archdiocese of San Juan. So, a hearty "Feliz Fiesta" to Archbishop Roberto Gonzalez of San Juan and to all our readers on that blessed isle.

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