The attempted assassination of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, which turned into a massacre, fills us all with sadness, horror and, God willing, resolve. We are sad because lives were lost, including those a nine year old girl who had recently made her First Communion and a federal magistrate who had just come from daily Mass, a staffer for the Congressman, and three other constituents. We are horrified anytime violence intrudes upon our domestic political discourse (although we Americans have a high tolerance for the intrusion of violence in our foreign policy). And, we should all be filled with resolve that anyone who seeks to terrorize Americans into curtailing the openness of our society or abridging the ease with which we approach our elected representative will be frustrated, that we will not permit one tragedy to deform our democracy or hobble its workings.
Our friends at Vox Nova ask a good question: As a second person dies in Arizona because budget cuts removed them from the line of organ donors, where is the National Right to Life Committee? The NRLC ranted and raved about the health care reform law which might, if certain worst case scenarios played out, result in some federal funding of abortion. (Incidentally, those worse case scanrios have not, repeat not, come to pass and there is no evidence of any federal funds going to pay for abortions anywhere in America.) But, while real lives are being lost in Arizona because the governor out there has mistakenly concluded that almost all organ donations do not work, the NRLC is silent. Shame on them.
Over at Faith in Public Life, John Gehring has a sound recommendation for the Archbishop of New York. He wants him to call Rep. Peter King, who is Catholic, and urge him to tone down the anti-Muslim rhetoric and keep his planned hearings on the "radicalization of American Muslims" from turning into an appeal to start a new Crusade. (The first Crusades do not look so pretty in the rear view mirror of history, do they?) Even though King is not technically Archbishop Dolan's congressman, as the President of the USCCB, Dolan should not hesitate to call any congressman. And King's own bishop, Bishop William Murphy, might place a call too. The last thing the country needs is an increase in Islamophobia and the last thing the Church needs is a prominent Catholic politician stoking the flames.
While he is at it, Archbishop Dolan might mention King's desire to gut the 14th Amendment.
Less than 48 hours after the midterm elections, I predicted that tax reform might be an area where the new Congress could reach some measure of bipartisan consensus. The current tax laws are so complex and cumbersome, they merit the adjective Byzantine.
Politico is reporting that some of the House Democrats who did not support the Health Care Reform law last year are nonetheless disinclined to vote for the law's repeal. It turns out, there were many and varied reasons for voting against the law last year, and many of the Democratic conservatives who did so wanted stronger steps to rein in costs, something that the GOP repeal measure not only fails to address, the repeal measure would actually add to the deficit. As well, popular proposals like forcing insurance companies not to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions, are no part of the GOP repeal effort.
Some Republicans campaigned simply on repealing the law. Some argued that the law needed to be repealed and replaced. Next week's vote leaves out the "replace" part of that equation. It should surprise no one that the status quo will find few supporters from the Democratic side of the aisle. It is shocking, in its way, that it finds supporters anywhere, especially among those who now enjoy "government-run" health care as members of Congress.
This week's Common Good Forum at Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, has an excellent essay by Sharon Latchaw Hirsh, President of Rosemont College, on the role of ethics in education. Her essay, as the good folks at CACG note, is an example of the kind of thinking invited by Pope John Paul II's Ex Corde Ecclesiae, which is usually used as a battering ram by conservatives but, in fact, contained much food for thought for people of any and all ideological stripes.
I was not at first opposed to the idea that the start of the new Congress should start with a reading of the Constitution. After all, the British parliament begins its sessions with the pageantry of the Queen’s Speech from the Throne, with heraldic trumpets, and the State Crown, and lots of bowing and scraping to…..to what? Not to this woman, the Queen, because she happened to have been born to the right couple at the right time. But, because the Queen represents the historical roots of the nation’s sovereignty. The Queen is no longer a sovereign ruler; the powers of the monarch have been yanked or whittled away for centuries, but still she is referred to as “the Sovereign.”
Something must have gotten into the punchbowl at the American Papist's New Year's Eve party. He is the first person to earn a spot on the Yahoo Watch in one week.
He has a post up speculating about the appointment of a new Bishop of Rochester New York.
The Papist is not a fan of the incumbent, Bishop Matthew Clark. But here is how he ends his piece: "If what I’m hearing is confirmed by the Holy Spirit, we’ll know soon enough. In the meantime, let’s pray for the poor souls of Rochester, that their day of liberation from heterodoxy may soon be at hand."
Liberation from "heterodoxy"? That is quite a charge. It does not reflect well on Pope John Paul II to think that he appointed a heterodox bishop. I have not been shy about questioning the actions of bishops who make decision with which I disagree, but I do not believe they are heterodox.
The young Papist is unafraid to level such a strong charge. Perhaps he should examine the canon law he likes to invoke when it suits him and see what it has to say about heterodoxy. Those canons also have something to say about calumny.
Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann is considering a bid for the presidency.
Bachmann is a leader of the Tea Party foolishness that has beclouded sensible political thought in this country. She epitomizes the kind of self-satisfied provacateur who thinks everything that comes from her mouth is an oracle, that her rationales, such as they are, for her political positions have a "QED" quality to them, as if blathering platitudes not only answers complicated questions but effectively ends the debate. She is allergic to nuance and hostile to argument. Please, let her run. Go Michelle. Nothing could better demonstate the limits of the Tea Party wordlview than the sustained glare of a presidential run.
This is not pretty to watch. Congressman Allen West, newly elected Tea Party favorite from Florida, criticized President Obama because, on his recent visit to Afghanistan, he did not physically endanger himself by going up to the front lines of the combat zone. Appearing on Lawrence O'Donnell's show "The Last Word," last night, O'Donnell gave West the opportunity to back off his outrageous criticism. West declined, arguing that true leadership requires putting oneself in the line of fire, and that he had learned this while a Marine.