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Hats Off to McCarrick

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[Update - It has been called to my attention that Cardinal McCarrick spoke before the Senate panel representing the USCCB, so his words are not simply reflective of his individual judgment but reflect the will of the corporate body of bishops. This is an important distinction.]

Among those testifying before a Senate panel to defend the rights of Muslims to practice their faith was Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop emeritus of Washington. McCarrick said, "A justified concern for security and the appropriate pursuit of those who pervert religion to attack others cannot be allowed to turn into a new form of religious discrimination and intolerance," the prelate pointed out....This is why we stand with our Muslim brothers and sisters in defense of their dignity and rights, just as we welcome and expect their reciprocity and solidarity with us when the rights of Christians and other religious groups are violated around the world."

The Obama Doctrine?

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Does President Obama's decision to intervene in Libya, and the rationale for that intervention he set forth in his speech Monday night, amount to an "Obama Doctrine?" That is the question posed to a group of analysts at the New York Times.
It is difficult to discern the kind of sweeping vision in the President's words that we normally associate with the word doctrine. This President, to his great credit, seems to recognize that enshrining a doctrine runs the risk of becoming doctrinaire. Indeed, you could say that the Obama Doctrine is that we should avoid doctrines. We should look at the facts on the ground. We should analyze the threats to our security, our interests and our values posed by problems in the world, and posed, too, by the prospect of intervention itself which always brings a host of unintended consequences. We should assess our ability to affect positive change, e.g., is an American fleet nearby and do local political conditions favor an intervention?

Blue Dogs to the Rescue?

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As the budget stalemate continues and the prospect of a government shutdown looms, moderate Democrats, known as Blue Dogs, are getting a lot of attention from the leadership of the GOP in the House, as detailed in a front page story in this morning’s Washington Post. The Blue Dogs sit in the center of the electorate and, if they survived last year’s shellacking, they are pretty well settled into their careers, unless redistricting alters the mix.

IWJ Plans Events to Support Workers' Rights on King Anniversary

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An interfaith coalition of religious leaders, joined by labor and civil rights groups, is organizing a day of protest and witness on next Monday’s 31st anniversary of the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Interfaith Worker Justice committee is leading the effort and organized a press call this afternoon. Specifically, the groups are calling attention to the need to defend workers’ rights in the face of political attacks unleashed on organized labor in recent months. Dr. King was shot in Memphis, where he had gone to stand with striking garbage workers.

Rev. Nelson Rivers III, vice president for stakeholder relations at the NAACP said, “In the context of our time, we face increased attacks by right-wing groups…engaged in a gigantic effort to turn back the clock.” Rivers noted that the NAACP has long stood with organized labor defending workers’ rights. He said many local NAACP chapters are organizing special events for Monday’s protests, including “Teach-ins” at several universities.

Benedict (and John Paul II) Smackdown Gov. Walker

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No, Pope Benedict did not specifically "smackdown" anybody, nor did he mention the union-busting Wisconsin Governor by name. But, according to Zenit, Pope Benedict did recall Pope John Paul II's words of affection to, and solidarity with, workers at Terni during a recent audience. I submit one has a hard time imagining those words coming from the mouth of the mean-spirited Governor of the Badger State.

Kinsley on War and Congress

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Mike Kinsley, writing at Politico, looks at the most ignored words in the Constitution: "The Congress shall have the power...to declare war." Of course, in today's political climate, it is probably easier to get a resolution past China and Russia on the Security Council at the UN than it would be to get something through John Boehner's House. Not least, because the GOP seems to be willing to change its criticisms on a near-daily basis to make sure they are not saying anything favorable about the President.

Hosanna Tabor Church v. EEOC

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The Supreme Court has granted cert to the case Hosanna Tabor Church v. EEOC. According to my friend and legal scholar Rick Garnett, this could be "the most important religious freedom case in 20 years," and Garnett offers a quick, sound summation of why the Supreme Court should overturn the lower court's decision. I see no reason to quibble with Garnett's reading of the case which will have enormous ramifications for the Catholic Church's hiring practices, indeed, for its ability to carry out its many ministries.

New Blog on Moral Theology

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A new blog has been launched, www.catholicmoraltheology.com, consisting of fifteen mostly up-and-coming moral theologians, weighing in on both the news of the day and important academic debates. One of the founders, Professor Charles Camosy, will be a familiar name to NCR readers - I ran a review of his new book recently.
Moral issues remain at the heart of the estuary where religion and politics meet. As often as not, I remain convinced that this is aprt of the problem, that a fixation on moral questions can obscure the pressing need for a New Evangelization. But, moral questions torment us because living a moral life is difficult, especially when we live in an age of so many competing moralities. (This is one free market that neo-cons do not appreciate!) The questions posed by moral theology matter, and they matter to our every day life. Already, the new blog has intelligent commentary on President Obama's speech last night.

President Obama's Speech on Libya

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Well, no one will mistake President Obama’s speech last night at the National Defense University with President John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address. You will recall that Kennedy pledged America to “bear any burden, pay any price” to promote freedom. President Obama, last night, spent a good deal of time discussing cost-sharing and burden-sharing. He spoke about limits as much as about possibilities.

Did TARP Work?

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Robert Samuelson, in this morning's Washington Post, argues that the Wall Street bailout worked despite the fact that it remains highly unpopular. I agree that it worked - after all, we did not slide into another Great Depression. And, it showed, although everyone seems to have forgotten this, that in the face of an economic collapse brought on my the misdeeds of our financial barons, the government can step in, indeed must step in, to prevent further human misery.
Samuelson notes one fact that, I suspect, will be useful in future debates. The original TARP legislation authorized $700 billion in new federal spending. In fact, only $410 billion was spent. You say, "Only $410 billion" and it is a fair question. But, according to the most recent statistics, most of that money has been paid back and so the total cost of the measure is now estimated to be $19 billion.

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March 27-April 9, 2015

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