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Edmund Burke: Call Your Office

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There is nothing unremarkable about finding the following sentiments on the op-ed page of the Wall Street Journal regarding the relationship of the United States with the United Kingdom: “The U.S.-U.K. relationship is simple: It's strong because it delivers for both of us. The alliance is not sustained by our historical ties or blind loyalty. This is a partnership of choice that serves our national interests.” This is the kind of cost-benefit analysis to which the good folks at the Journal reduce all human interactions. But, what is remarkable – quite remarkable – is that these words were penned by British Prime Minister David Cameron, the newly installed PM and leader of the Conservative Party.

Investigating the Spook-Industrial Complex

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All of Washington is abuzz over a Washington Post investigative report into the vast network of public and private security organizations that have sprung up since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The two reporters, Dana Priest and William Arkin, are to commended for this two-year investigation that concludes: “The government has built a national security and intelligence system so big, so complex and so hard to manage, no one really knows if it’s fulfilling its most important purpose: keeping citizens safe.”

GOP Hypocrisy

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President Obama came out swinging yesterday. After congressional Republicans have blocked an emergency extension of unemployment benefits for a third time, the President stopped blaming “Washington” for the problem and placed the blame squarely where it belongs, on the GOP.

The Republicans, of course, will tell you that they have no objection to extending the unemployment benefits, they simply think the new expenditure needs to be off-set with spending cuts elsewhere in the federal budget. When pressed on what programs should be cut on Meet the Press Sunday, Congressman Jeff Sessions stumbled and hemmed and hawed. Last night, on Hardball, Congressman Mike Pence was similarly elusive on precisely what programs they think should be cut, failing to mention a single program he thought should be cut.

Blast From the Past: Eamon Duffy

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These lines from Eamon Duffy’s short but wonderful history of the Church remind us of a salient point: Be suspicious of those who turn to the Scriptures for proof-texts, those who emphasize one part of the tradition against another, those who deny the very premise of Catholicism, that the unity of the universal Church is achieved by bringing together different local churches, not extinguishing those differences.

“The New Testament speaks with many voices. It is not a single book, but a library, built up over half a century or so from traditions of the remembered sayings and actions of Jesus, early Christian sermons, hymns and liturgies, and the letters of the great founding teachers of the early Church.”

“…not single book, but a library…” Priceless.

Dionne v. Alter

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Last Friday night, while assessing the President’s inability to translate his legislative victories into political capital, Jonathan Alter said that he thought the problem was that the President is not just incapable but downright allergic to the kinds of soundbites that would translate his complicated policy proposals into something the average voter can understand.

Yahoo Watch: Patrick Madrid

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Patrick Madrid is one of those “Catholic apologists” who would make me run as far from the Church as possible if I believed for a minute that his reasons were the best reasons to be a Catholic.

He has posted, evidently admiringly, an article about the incompatibility of yoga and Catholicism written by the late Father John Hardon, S.J. In the event, I know one U.S. bishop who performs an hour of yoga every morning before his morning Mass. In addition to the spiritual benefit, it helps with his bad back. Had Madrid taken the time to do a little research, he would have learned that some seminaries in India teach yoga, and as well all know, the curriculum of a Catholic seminary is approved by the Holy See.

Q & A: Kevin Appleby of the USCCB

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This week, we are discussing immigration reform. Our first interviewee is Kevin Appleby, the Director of Migration Policy and Public Affairs at the USCCB.
The question: What needs to be done to get immigration reform passed, and what are the prospects for passage?
Kevin Appleby:
Among the many issues confounding lawmakers and eluding bipartisan
support on Capitol Hill these days is immigration, perhaps one of the
most controversial topics in the country. Our elected officials in
Washington have avoided it like an unwelcome neighbor knocking at the
front door. Problem is, the knocks keep getting louder and louder.

The latest flashpoint in the debate is the recently passed Arizona law
SB 1070, state legislation which, among other provisions, under certain
conditions permits law enforcement to inquire as to an individual's
legal status. Whatever one thinks about the substance of the law, it
certainly has re-ignited the national debate and, most particularly, has
highlighted congressional dithering on fixing the nation's broken
immigration system.

For several years now, the U.S. Catholic bishops have advocated for

George Will Gets It Wrong on Puerto Rico

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George Will had a column on Sunday in the Washington Post about how Republicans can use the issue of statehood for Puerto Rico to bolster their standing with Hispanic voters. The article was dumb with a capital “B.” It read like a press release from the island’s pro-statehood governor.

The issue of statehood for Puerto Rico is enormously divisive on the island. As Will noted, in the three most recent plebiscites on the issue failed to garner even a plurality even favor of statehood. He notes that the pro-statehood governor and his party won a resounding election victory two years ago, but is evidently unaware that the issue of corruption was the dominant concern, nor is he aware of the deep, and vicious, divisions within the pro-statehood primary.

Don't Miss...

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I don't usually blog on the weekends, but I was provoked.
Saturday, I posted on a breathtakingly good essay in the Tablet by Tracey Rowland entitled "Raztinger the Romantic."
Sunday, I posted on a breathtakingly ridiculous essay by Maureen Dowd in yesterday's New York Times.
I hope both postings will stir the pot a bit and provoke some powerful comments from readers!

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July 18-31, 2014

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