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APP Wants Gold Standard Back


The American Principles Project, founded by conservative Catholic scholar Robbie George, has a new pet project. Politico reports that the organization is pushing a return to the Gold Standard.

On the organization's website, we read: "The United States of America does not need new principles. It needs renewed fidelity to the principles set forth in our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. These are timeless principles: truths that we hold, in Jefferson's immortal words, to be, 'self-evident.' They are, moreover, universal principles, not the historically contingent beliefs or customs of a particular sect or clan or tribe."

Libya & the War Powers Act


The NATO intervention in Libya has brought on a new episode of an old series: Debate about the War Powers Act and the constitutional authority to make war. The debate is interesting in several regards because it tends to cut across the usual lines of partisan, and even ideological, divides.

The most valuable aspect of the debate is that it demonstrates clearly the limits of constitutional originalism of the kind advocated by Justice Antonin Scalia and others. For most of American history, there was no question about where the authority to make war lay in our polity: Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution states that Congress has the power to declare war and no one else. The founders were very concerned that lodging such an enormous power in a solitary executive officer would grant that individual too much power. And, because the chief magistrate is also the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, such a concentration of power in his hand might invite tyranny of a kind that has long been a scourge upon humanity, a ruling junta.

A \"socialist\" Archbishop?


In Minnesota, like many states, the Catholic Church has asked state governments not to balance their budgets on the backs of the poor. The scriptural source for this stance is, well the whole message of the Gospels speaks of compassion for the poor, but most specifically, the 25th Chapter of teh Gospel of St. Matthew: Whatever you do for these the least of your brethren, you do for me."

But, David Hann, a Republican State Senator who is the assistant majority leader of the Minnesota State Senate has discerned a socialist agenda at work in the Church's position. In a letter to Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul, Hann accused the archbishop of endorsing a "socialist fiction."

I am guessing that Archbishop Nienstedt does not, in fact, have a well-thumbed copy of Das Kapital on his bookshelves.

Just when you think you've seen crazy, you discover something even crazier.

Romney's Problem with Conservatives


Sahil Kapur at the New Republic has a post about conservative attempts to derail Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. It is curious that it is not only social conservatives who are suspicious of Romney's conversion to a pro-life stance, but the laissez-faire dogmatists who are attacking Romney. This is the essential problem he faces: A GOP primary electorate that is all wigged up will have a hard time getting enthusiastic about a man whose entire demeanor, to say nothing of his record, bespeaks a more moderate, centrist approach to governance.

Beauty Inside the Beltway


Many people deride Washington but it has its perks for those of us who live within the Beltway.
One of those perks is getting to use the Library of Congress. A few days ago, I needed to find a citation and went to the Adams building. This is far less famous than the Jefferson building with its fantastic Beaux Arts architecture, its low copper dome, the magnificent Main Reading Room and marbled grand foyer. The Adams building opened in 1939 and it is all Art Deco. In the fifth floor reading room, there is magnificent iron and brass work above the doors. The portals are lined in marble. There are stainless steel bookshelves with carefully crafted owls at either end. Mosaics adorn the walls.

Good News From GOP


Yesterday, 34 of 47 Republicans in the U.S. Senate voted to end tax subsidies for ethanol. Totally apart from the merits of the issue, the vote represented a welcome willingness to stand up to Grover Norquist, founder of the group Americans for Tax Reform. Norquist has demanded Republicans sign his pledge never to raise taxes, including the ending of tax subsidies and he has been largely successful in his effort. But, Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma not only demurred from Norquist's position, he convinced a majority of his fellow Republicans to do the same.
Solving the nation's fiscal challenges will take compromise, a word that is not in Mr. Norquist's vocabulary. Kudos to Coburn for challenging this faux-orthodoxy on taxes.

Sr. Mary Ann on the \"Choice To Die\"


Sr. Mary Ann Walsh, spokesperson for the USCCB, has a post up at the Huffington Post about the so-called "Choice to Die." Walsh correctly notes the way the word "choice" serves as a trump card in contemporary American culture. In this case, of course, it seems especially mis-used. In regard to death, none of us have a real choice - we will all die.
Most importantly, Walsh cites her own experience with hospice work to show the difference between dying with dignity and dying with a misdirected sense of one's capacity for choice. Her words evidence precisely what Pope Paul VI meant when he said the Church is, because of her ministries, an "expert in humanity." There are, indeed, many choices, many life-affirming choices, that should be extended to those who are dying. The option of choosing to end choice itself should not be on the list.

Obama in Puerto Rico


President Obama’s visit to Puerto Rico yesterday was consequential not only for the politics of next year’s presidential race but also for the politics of the island. Perhaps more importantly, if yesterday’s visit proves to be seminal, leading to a greater understanding of and dialogue with Puerto Rican culture, the President may help his party – and his country – understand how the changing demographics stateside might look in the future. Puerto Ricans have spent the last century experimenting with issues of how a Latino culture born out of the mixing of the Catholic faith with indigenous culture intersects with U.S. culture. In short, their past may hold keys to the nation’s future.

Robert Royal on Hispanic Catholicism


Robert Royal has a thoughtful commentary on the role Hispanic Catholicism might play in shaping American culture. He notes that there is little abstract about Hispanic inculturations of the faith, which bespeaks a vitality often lacking north of the border. Royal also notes that such vitality is not always sufficient: He recalls visiting a rural church in Guatemala where pre-Christian rituals co-existed a little too easily with Catholic practice, an experience I encountered in Chiapas once, watching an older woman carefully set out an egg, a bottle of Coke and some candles before a statue of a saint as she began praying over a pregnant woman.
Royal's commentary is not lengthy and only touches the surface of some profound issues, but is well worth the read.


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In This Issue

February 12-25, 2016


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