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Good & Bad Economic News

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The good economic news is that the deficit reduction plan proposed by former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson and former White House chief-of-staff under Bill Clinton, Erskine Bowles failed to garner the 14 votes necessary to send it to Congress.

All three House Republicans voted against the plan, which shows how unserious they are about achieving real deficit reduction. But the plan was flawed, appropriately characterized as policy only Wall Street could love, heavy on middle class cuts and doing nothing to address the growing income inequality that besets America, and does so uniquely.

Other Western industrialized economies have nothing like the income disparities we find in the U.S.

Faith & Stimulus

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Politico.com has an important article today about President Obama's Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Initiatives and the work they have done helping religious organizations get money from the much maligned Stimulus Bill.

From new windows for a church school to direct aid for the homeless, millions of dollars have gone to faith-based organizations that have grown accustomed to operating on shoestring budgets. Catholic Charities -- which should be the first check you write for Christmas -- received $50 million in Stimulus funds.

This is important at several levels.

Luke Gormally quote is back

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A reader commented that the link I provided in my article about conservative replies to the Pope's condom comments did not contain the quote I excerpted. The original story by Sandro Magister did contain the quote from Mr. Gormally, but Mr. Magister must have amended his article at some point after I posted the link.

He has now posted the entire email sent to him by Mr. Gormally which you can read here.

I especially like the sentence about the Pope lacking competence as a moral theologian. Hmmmm. If Benedict XVI attains that competence, do you think he might get a teaching post at Ave Maria University?

There is one other aspect to all this. Mr. Gormally is a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life. During the later years of Pope John Paul II, there were some pernicious influences surrounding papal apartment that resulted in some very sketchy, and one-sided appointments, to such academies and councils. One of the things Pope Benedict and Cardinal Bertone should undertake is to bring in some new blood.

B16's Homily at Mass for Manuela Camagni

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I mentioned last week that one of the four women who care for the Holy Father and his household was killed in an automobile accident while she returned home to the Vatican from work. The website of Communion and Liberation has now posted the text of the Holy Father's homily at a special Mass held yesterday for Manuela.

Unsurprisingly, it is very beautiful, filled with the Giussani-like comments about memory, God's and ours, and about the relationship of the past, present and future in the eternal Christ. And, those who think Benedict is all about rolling back the reforms of Vatican II should note his comments about the post-conciliar liturgy at the end. Most importantly, I think the Holy Father's deep love for Manuela, his respect too, comes through very clearly. He took joy in her joy.

Eternal Rest grant unto her O Lord...

Abp Broglio Is An Embarrassment

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Sen. John McCain is not the only man embarrassing himself on the issue of "Dont' Ask; Don't Tell." Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the archdiocese of the U.S. military posted a column at the Washington Post in which he repeats an especially clumsy analogy he has used before, comparing homosexuality to alcoholism.

Take your pick: Is that analogy more offensive than it is stupid, or more stupid than offensive?

Mark Silk has already taken on the evangelical military chaplains who are opposing repeal of DADT and he has now posted an article on Broglio. Both postings are, predictably, very smart.

Don't Ask/Don't Tell & John McCain

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Few political stories are as genuinely sad as the forfeiting of his once impressive moral stature by Arizona Sen. John McCain. The man known for reaching across the aisle to work with Democratic colleagues for the good of the country, to achieve campaign finance reform or to make a stab at immigration reform, that man is no more. Instead, we now see only a petulant crank.

Over the past year, on several occasions, I have written about how disappointed I was at seeing the Senator abandon positions he had once embraced. But, he was facing a GOP primary challenge from the right, and he would not be the first Senator to run away from the ideological center to win a primary, only to run back to the center for the general election. But, the problem is, McCain won his primary and did not run back to the center.

Yahoo Watch: Bradlee Dean on Gays & Muslims

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Sometimes, you think - I couldn't make this stuff up. A conservative talk radio personality in Minnesota, Bradlee Dean, is convinced that Rep. Keith Ellison is trying to advance the "homosexual agenda" because he wants to introduce Sharia Law into the United States.

Ellison is a Muslim, you see, and even though some Muslim countries still believe in stoning gays, well, stateside, it is all part of the same nefarious plot. Oliver Stone: Call your office!

Q & A: Steve Schneck on Palin-palooza

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This week, we are asking prominent scholars about the propsect of a presidential campaign by Sarah Palin. Today, we hear from Professor Stephen Schneck, director of the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies at the Catholic University of America.
Steve Schneck:
Sarah Palin, as she herself insists, wants to take the GOP in a new direction. Her vision for the party has three distinctive components. First, it’s populist. That is, it looks to capitalize on recession-driven, middle class resentment. Angry about imagined handouts to the poor and illegal, on one hand, and coddling of Wall Street, on the other hand, the shrinking middle class boiled over this election year and looks to be a continuing force for political change in 2012. Accordingly, Palin’s language is filled with symbolic references to touchstones of populist sensibilities.

E.J. Dionne Calls for Some Democratic Spine

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E.J. Dionne's article this morning points to a central problem facing the Democrats: They seem scared of their own shadow and the Republicans have succeeded in winning the narrative about tax rates and their economic effects.

Here is the problem. Remember "voodoo economics?" That was what George H. W. Bush called the supply-side theories that have come to dominate Republican Party economic thinking. That was 1980. Now, in 2010, no one has seriously challenged the acendency of this point of view. The reason is simple: Democrats hate talking about taxes on the theory that if you go into the ballot box thinking of yourself as a taxpayer, you are going to vote Republican. If you go in the voting boot thinking of yourself as a worker, you are going to vote Democratic. Ergo, Dems should talk about workplace issues and wages and not about taxes. But if you let the other side do all the talking, you can't change the narrative.

Condomania Continues

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Okay, the conservatives who once championed Pope Benedict XVI - and labelled journals like NCR "dissenting" or "unorthodox" and "cafeteria Catholics" - well, those conservatives are now in full meltdown.

Sandro Magister's latest article details the anger and hostility directed towards the Pope by people who have evidently forgotten the fact that the old line about being "more Catholic than the Pope" was always intended as a joke.
To wit, this from Ave Maria Univerisity's Luke Gormally: "It seems to many people I know that it is both irresponsible (because it creates confusion in the general populace about the exercise of the papal magisterium) and self-indulgent; self indulgent because it is a case of the Pope retreating to his ‘comfort zone’ of writing and talking while neglecting urgent tasks of governance."

Can you imagine what the comment section would look like if anyone here at NCR called Benedict "self-indulgent"?!!!???

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