This weekend, President Obama will dedicate the new memorial on the National Mall honoring the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. A documentary of King has recently been unearthed that captures some of his greatness. Dr. King was a truly great American who changed the nation's political and social fabric without ever violating his principles, and he did it with no violence. Happy the man with such a legacy and happy the country that honors that legacy.
Harold Meyerson is the kind of liberal I really like, unafraid of embracing a brand of economic populism rooted in the vision of FDR. (I am sure Meyerson and I would disagree about some other issues.) In this morning's Washington Post, Meyerson looks at the one tax cut the GOP does not seem to like, the payroll tax cut. His article reminds us also of the limited veracity of some Tea Party claims that too many poor people don't pay any federal taxes - they pay plenty in taxes, payroll taxes, and sales taxes, even if they don't pay income tax.
The fall of the Qaddafi regime may be welcome new to President Obama, removing a potential stumbling block from a path already strewn with plenty of difficult stones to overcome. But, it is doubtful that the happy news from Tripoli will provide him with much of a bounce. Why is this?
One of the most jarring intellectual exercises you can undertake is to read or listen to John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address. Almost the entire speech was dedicated to the subject of foreign policy. Back then, of course, foreign policy was more or less a subject that garnered bipartisan agreement. Statesmen understood the need to end political debates “at the water’s edge” and present a united front to the world. That had been the case since the great Republican Sen. Arthur Vandenberg saw the need to work with President Harry S. Truman in crafting the post-war policies that were essentially followed by every American president until the collapse of communism. There actually was a broad consensus within the foreign policy establishment of both political parties.
First came the charge that Ben Bernanke was going to commit treason by regulating the money supply (which is sort of what a Fed Chairman does). Second, came the attack on scientists who "manipulate" data to prove global warming. Then, the claim that the Texas school teach both creationism and evolution and that the governor has more than a few reservations about evolution. Fourth, was Perry's contention that Social Security is "unconstitutional" and a "ponzi scheme." Now he wants to repeal the 16th Amendment which permits the government to institute an income tax. The 16th Amendment was "the great milestone on the road to serfdom." Hmmmm. I have never met a serf, and there is no documentary evidence that serfs ever existed in the U.S. nor that the framers of the 16th Amendment had serfdom as one of their goals. But, if memory serves, serfdom bound a peasant to a piece of property, and it had nothing to do with taxes. But, in the whacky world that is the mind of Gov. Rick Perry, it is all the same so long as you get a cute turn of phrase.
As reported on our homepage, Bishop John Wester, head of the USCCB Committee on Migration, has praised the Obama Administration for its decision to implement a new plicy regarding the detention of undocumented workers. The new policy will help those undocumented workers who have not committed crimes to avoid automatic deportation and will help keep families together.
The USCCB has been forthright in voicing its objections to policies that it oppposes. It is nice to see them applauding a decision that warrants applause.
One of the nice things about being in Connecticut is that I almost never watch television while there: My Dad has reorganized the TV room for the needs of one person and he is that person. So, I get more reading done and miss a lot of nonsense on the airwaves.
Back in DC, however, there was a re-run of “The World Over” on EWTN last night with Father Robert Sirico opining about the economy and other matters. It is difficult to determine who is more tendentious, Sirico or the show’s host Raymond Arroyo, but let us just point out that rarely, if ever, does Arroyo deliver a pointed question at Sirico. Instead, both men sit there tossing GOP talking points across the table like a ball at a tennis match, full of self-congratulation and certainty, dismissive of any real economic data or political facts that do not fit their narrative.
Michelle Boorstein of the Washington Post has a really great article in today's paper about how a local Muslim cleric, trying to "put Islam into an American context" by starting a training program for Americans who want to join the Muslim clergy, copes with the remembrance of raid on his mosque that federal agents conducted nine years ago in the wake of the terrorist attacks.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry has made quite a splash in his first week as a presidential candidate. First he hurled the charge of treason at Ben Bernanke. Then he both denied there was such a thing as man-made global warming and accused the scientists who have demostrated such global warming of manipulating their data. Then he wrongly said the Texas schools taught both creationism and evolution, and that he was not convinced about evolution.
Now, he is backing off of comments he made in his book "Fed Up" which was published just last autumn in which he said Social Security was "unconstitutional" and a "ponzi scheme."
And this is the establishment alternative to Bachmann?
Please, let Perry's candidacy flourish. It will be too much fun to watch.
The rector of the Cathedral of Sts. Simon and Jude in Phoenix has decided to only allow boys to be altar servers at Mass. The Rev. John Lankeit said the decision was his alone, not that of Bishop Thomas Olmsted. Lankeit cited the historic connection between altar boys and vocations.
The decision is regrettable from every angle. There may be an historic connection between boys being altar servers and some of those boys going on to be priests. Hard to tell. There was also an historical connection between maleness and, say, the American founding. There was, until recently, a connection between being male and running for President. The rector may not have noticed but women do lots of things they did not do previously and it is a misplaced concern for gender differenciation to want to hold on to yesteryear's ways.
The television images last night and this morning bring tears to one’s eyes. The people pouring into the streets of Tripoli to celebrate the end of the Qaddafi regime, the shockingly quick collapse of resistance to the advance of the patriot forces, the look of befuddlement on the faces of the government’s handlers at the hotel where the media was holed up, all makes one feel in one’s bones something of that feeling that inspired Wordsworth to pen, “Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive/ But to be young was very Heaven!”