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Tom DeLay & The Varieties of Corruption

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Former Congressman Tom DeLay was found guilty of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering. He could face life in prison and he should, but not only because he laundered money. He laundered money with the objective of influencing politics, of subverting the democratic processes by which the rule of law is given its legitimacy.

Recently, Congressman Charles Rangel was found guilty of violating House rules and now faces a censure from the whole House. His variety of corruption was the most pervasive, but the least dangerous, to our political culture. He did not play by the rules, failing to report income, and he used his congressional office to raise money for a chool that bore his name. In other words, he had the sense that the rules did not apply to him, but he did not seek to frustrate the electoral system nor to make a lot of money by trading on his name or influence.

Prayers for the Pope & the Repose of the Soul of Manuela Camagni

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Wednesday, one of the women who cares for the Pope, Manuela Camagni, was killed in an auto accident on her way home. She was, by all accounts, a remarkable woman and the tragedy has wounded the entire household. We should all pray for the repose of her soul but I think we should also say a special prayer for Pope Benedict.

Sister Death comes when she will, but in the normal course of affairs, she comes later in life. This allows the soul time to prepare to meet her, but that preparation is itself, for many people, a great source of anxiety. It is one thing to lose a friend or an acquaintance in a tragic accident, but as one gets on in years, every brush with death bears with it the intimation of your own time coming to an end. I see this in my Dad who seems to attend any and every funeral within a fifty mile radius of our home, even if he knew the deceased only very little. It is as if he wants to be as familiar as possible with Sister Death so as to be ready when she comes, and come she will. The Holy Father is only one year older than my Dad, so I am sure he has similar thoughts.

Shame Watch: Deal Hudson Attacks DREAM Act

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Of all the things to give thanks for this Thanksgiving, it is strange enough that Deal Hudson is giving thanks for the Tea Party, a group dedicated to, well, at the very least, dedicated to the kind of hyper-individualism and anti-government thinking that has little or no resonance with Catholic Social Teaching.
But, it is just shy of unforgivable that one of the examples he gives of the kind of government initiatives the Tea Party is set to eliminate is the DREAM Act, which would grant citizenship to children brought here by their parents without proper documents provided they serve in the U.S. military or go to college. He seems especially exercised at the thought that such students would receive lower in-state tuition costs. If only the poor kids had the foresight to be born in McClean, Virginia rather than in Mexico.
Shame on you Deal.

Condomania & Conservatives

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The New York Times story about Pope Benedict's comments on condoms features commentary from Dr. John Haas. Read this passage carefully and see what jumps out at you:

Catholic conservatives who believed Catholic teaching against contraception to be inviolable were reeling. “This is really shaking things up big time,” said Dr. John M. Haas, the president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia, who serves on the governing council of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life.

Dr. Haas, a moral theologian, said he had seen an embargoed copy of a new book in which the pope conceded there might be extreme cases in which there were grounds for the use of condoms. “I told the publisher, ‘Don’t publish this; it’s going to create such a mess,’ ” he added.

Korea & START

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If the outbreak of hostilities in Korea demonstrates anything, it is the necessity of passing the START treaty. The Russians want to see that treaty ratified and we need their help in pressuring Iran which, like Korea, has been pursuing a nuclear weapons capability. If the North Koreans did not have nuclear weapons, their recent attack on a South Korean island would be problematic but it would not be potentially catastrophic. The last thing we need is a nuclear-armed Iran to worry about too.

On Gratitude

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We now know that the first Thanksgiving in 1621 did not look much like the image we received of it as children. The Indians crashed, they were not invited. The principal meat was venison, not turkey. Etc. But, there was thanksgiving for difficulties endured and for the promise the Pilgrims felt as they pondered their colony’s future. This American founding, as opposed to the late eighteenth century founding, was a distinctly religious event.

Yahoo Watch: Jennifer Hartline at Catholic Online

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I have never noticed Ms. Hartline's byline until today. She has joined the hysteria against the full body screening being employed by the TSA to protect Americans on planes.

How bad is that hysteria? Mr. Hartline prefers profiling - she does not say racial profiling, but that is what she means evidently.

Otherwise, why pen this:

3 year-old girls are not the enemy. 7 year-old boys are not the enemy. Elderly nuns in full habit are not the enemy. The overwhelming majority of people in the United States are not the enemy. The enemy, by and large, is Muslim men. But since the current administration won't even name the enemy, let alone employ security measures that actually target the enemy, now every American citizen is treated as the enemy.

The enemy is Muslim men. Oh, that simplifies everything. Except of course that Timothy McVeigh was not a Muslim man, was he.

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April 11-24, 2014

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