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The Other Scandal

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The arrest of IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn for allegedly raping a maid at a New York hotel is horrifying. Rape is always horrifying. What is more, the scandal has called attention anew to an earlier sexual scandal in which Strauss-Kahn had a tryst and was publicly forgiven by his wife. That scandal was tawdry to be sure, but there was no suggestion of forcible rape.
But, there is another scandal that caught my eye. Strauss-Kahn and his reconciled wife were recently seen getting out of a $150,000 Porsche in Paris. In addition, they have two swanky apartments in Paris, a home in Washington and a vacation place in Marrakesh. The irony is that Strauss-Kahn was widely expected to be a leading candidate for the presidency, nominated by the Socialist Party of France. Nothing like a $150,000 car to warm the hearts of a party dedicated to the needs of the working classes. Yeesh.

The Worst Argument For Withdrawal From Afghanistan

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The killing of Osama bin Laden has caused many people, already skeptical of America’s continued military engagement in Afghanistan, to start beating the drums for an accelerated withdrawal of U.S. troops from that country. After all, now that we have the man behind the attacks of 9/11, and reports indicate that there are only 100 or so Al-Qaeda terrorists left in Afghanistan, what are we doing there?

Christian Groups Air Ad in Ryan's District

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Several Christian organizations have banded together to fund a radio ad running in Cong. Paul Ryan's district. They do not only challenge the Ryan budget from the standpoint of traditional social justice: They point out that it is distinctly anti-life.
"The Catholic Church has always been clear on the sanctity of life at all stages. As a pro-life Catholic, Congressman Paul Ryan ought to know this," Father Thomas Kelly says in the ad. Father Kelly is a resident of Elkhorn, Wisconsin, in Rep. Ryan’s district. "But the budget he authored and Republicans in Congress recently passed abandons those pro-life principles by depriving vulnerable children, seniors and families of healthcare and economic support they need to put food on the table during hard times. When it comes to being pro-life, actions speak louder than words."
Bravo!

O'Reilly's Little Fists

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You have to admire the bravery of CUA Professors Stephen Schneck and Vincent Miller for going on the Bill O'Reilly show last night to discuss the letter that many Catholic academics signed encouraging Speaker John Boehner to do a better job lining up his policies with Catholic social teaching, especially as regards funding for the programs that aid the poor.

Unsurprisingly, O'Reilly drew false distinctions about the difference between "advanced capitalist countries" and "quasi-Socialist" countries, and he outright lied about the letter being unsigned by any bishops: I am told by the people who initiated this letter that it came from academics exclusively and no bishops were asked to sign it.

But, O'Reilly's foolishness cannot go unanswered, and it is a rare breed of man or woman who relishes the idea of dealing with the idiot pugilists at Fox. Hats off to Schneck and Miller for standing up to this blowhard and explicitly demonstrating the moral neccesity of protecting the poor in budgetary decisions.

Gov't Is NOT the Problem

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The scenes of devastation along the mighty Mississippi are heartbreaking: The farms that have been inundated with flood waters to spare a city, the homes, all of them poorer, too close to the river and in danger of being swept away, the reigniting of flooding fears in New Orleans and that most haunting question that city ever faces, “Will the levee hold?” Coming so soon after an unprecedented number of tornados swept through the South just a few weeks ago, leaving death and destruction in their wake, this new crisis shows once again how vulnerable we human beings are.

After disasters such as the flooding and the tornados strike, of course, people need help. Much of the immediate assistance is local: Firemen and EMTs rush to evacuate people from homes threatened by the onrushing waters of the flood or pick through the debris left by a tornado, looking for survivors and getting them to a hospital. The Red Cross flies in supplies. State troopers work with local law enforcement to prevent looting. Local churches and union halls become makeshift shelters for the displaced.

More Lies From the Right

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In commenting on my post yesterday, reacting to the letter sent to Speaker John Boehner by a group of Catholic academics, CatholicCulture.org has this to say: "Thus the argument that Boehner’s appearance at Catholic University is similar to Obama’s appearance at Notre Dame relies on the preposterous suggestion that cutting taxpayer support for welfare programs is as morally offensive as forcing taxpayer support for the destruction of unborn children."
Excuse me? What precisely did President Obama do in the way of "forcing taxpayer support for the destruction of unborn children"? This is a canard. Even when pro-life groups could not convince enough Senators to support the Stupak Amendment as part of the health care overhaul, President Obama signed an executive order essentially applying the Stupak restrictions to the new bill.
And, while we are at it, yes, programs that help pregnant women help prevent the destruction of unborn children. What precisely have the Republicans accomplished to protect the unborn?

Brouhaha Over House Chaplain

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One of the reasons the Catholic bishops and the Holy See need to stick to the Dallas norms, and remove from office those bishops who do not comply with the norms, is that until the Church really has the sex abuse crisis behind us, it will haunt even the most unrelated activities of Catholic priests.
So, the newly nominated House chaplain, Father Patrick Conroy, S.J., has found himself at the center of a dust-up because he is a member of the Northwest Province of the Society of Jesus which recently entered into a multi-million dollar settlement with victims of clergy sex abuse. There is no indication that Father Conroy had anything to do with the abuse, with the settlement, certainly not with any cover-up, but the mere fact of his association with the Northwest Jesuits has evidently caused people to take a second look at his nomination.
This is crazy, and the craziness will continue as long as there is any sense that the Vatican and the U.S. bishops are not doing all they can to guarantee that children will be safe when they come to Church.

Tea Party Wimps

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The Tea Party was going to "take our country back," remember? And their followers (they are not really leaders, are they) got to Congress and tried to change the political landscape in fundamental ways. And, they got to Congress, many of them, by warning about the dangers of "socialized medicine" which was never a very accurate way to describe the Health Care reform law President Obama passed but which sure sounded ominous.
So, it was not surprising that when they had the chance, they went after one of the biggest targets in the budget, Medicare, and sought to change it into a voucher program. After all, Medicare actually is socialized medicine. What evidently did surprise them was the discovery that older Americans - indeed, all Americans - actually like socialized medicine and don't want the GOP messing with Medicare.

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