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Q&A: Jeremy McCarter

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This week, we have asked a variety of people to comment on the Shirley Sherrod episode. Today we hear from Jeremy McCarter, a senior writer at Newsweek and the editor of Bite the Hand That Feeds You: Essays and Provocations by Henry Fairlie.

The question: What does the Shirley Sherrod episode tell us about race and politics in America in the age of Obama?

Jeremy McCarter: Shirley Sherrod suffered a devastating early trauma: her father was murdered, and the white man who shot him was subsequently exonerated by an all-white jury. Later in life, as a government employee, she had difficulty dealing with some of the white people she was expected to help. But she overcame her animosity. She found within herself the ability to reconcile.

Obama v. Planned Parenthood

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Politico.com has an update on the extreme displeasure among pro-choice groups over the fact that President Obama meant what he said when he refused to allow the health care overhaul to become a vehicle for expanding abortion coverage. And, the article is succinct: the pro-choice groups “lost” the battle during the health care fight. Money quote: “For abortion rights advocates, the HHS episode [regarding high risk pools] was both a reminder of the health reform battle they lost and a warning about the risks ahead: Having a president on their side doesn’t mean they can sit back and expect success.” Pro-life groups need to stop ranting about Obama and have a cigar - they won, even if theu can't bring themselves to admit it.

Rush is Right - Who Knew?

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It’s not every day I get to agree with Rush Limbaugh. He attacked the government’s offer of a $7,500 tax break for people who buy the new Chevy Volt, an electric car that carries the outrageously steep sticker price of 41k. I have never been a fan of tax credits as a means of inducing behavior. They clutter up an already over-cluttered tax code.

But, Limbaugh unwittingly also pointed the way to a better solution. He said that the true “game-changing” products don’t need a government tax credit, that true game-changers will dominate the market, and he points to the iPhone. Of course, I remember when computers were very expensive, clunky things. They became cheaper and smaller as they became more widely available, as more and more people bought them and the technology caught up with the demand.

Ordination of David O'Connell as Coadjutor Bishop of Trenton

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This morning I shall be driving up to Trenton for the episcopal ordination of Father David O’Connell, CM. Regular readers will know of my personal esteem and affection for the Bishop-elect but this morning, I want to write about the ceremony itself, and why it is so profoundly counter-cultural.

In a culture as noisy as ours, the most solemn moment of the ordination rite, the laying on of hands, is performed in silence. First the principal consecrator, Bishop John Smith, followed by the co-consecrators, will lay their hands on O’Connell’s head, passing on the apostolic succession, a succession that has been handed on from Jesus himself to the apostles. This central act in the sacrament will be done in total silence.

At a time when the Church seems at times consumed by the sins of its own, the laying on of hands will be immediately preceded by the litany of the saints, reminding all gathered of the heroic and holy men and women who are the true strength of the Church. Every instance of sin is an instance of the absence of holiness. How appropriate that the ordinand and the congregation call on the holy men and women before performing this most solemn act.

Blast From the Past: Ellis Island

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For me, the most pressing moral reason for immigration reform is the need to unite families. Another episode from Jay Dolan’s “The Irish Americans” shows that the goal of uniting families has been a concern since the very first person came through Ellis Island.

“The first person to pass through Ellis Island was Annie Moore, a fifteen-year-old Irish immigrant from county Cork. Her parents, along with her older brother, had emigrated to the United States in 1888 and were living in New York. In a typical chain-migration pattern, they no sent for the rest of the children. Annie, together with her two younger brothers, sailed from Queenstown (Cobh) on the SS Nevada in December 1891. After a journey of several days, they arrived at Ellis Island on January 1, 1892, and Annie was the first person processed at the newly opened facility. To mark the occasion she was presented with a ten-dollar gold piece.”

Yahoo Watch: Weekly Standard

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John McCormack at the Weekly Standard is unkind to President Obama on an almost daily basis. But his attack today is so lame that maybe the magazine should be known as the “Weakly Standard.” His gripe: President Obama “blames everyone but himself” for the Shirley Sherrod episode. McCormack asks plaintively, “And, where, exactly, does the buck stop again?”

Huh? The firing, like the hiring, of regional staffers in the Department of Agriculture is not the stuff of a daily Oval Office briefing. In Britain, where they still have some semblance of responsible government in which it is not enough to stand before cameras and say “I take full responsibility” but one actually is expected to resign when bad things happen on one’s watch, it is not the Prime Minister who resigns over an incident like this, but the member of the Cabinet who made the bad decision. There is an argument to be made that Secretary Vilsack should resign, but the President? Oh, I forgot. At the Weekly Standard, EVERYTHING is Obama’s fault.

Garnett on Kagan

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Regular readers will know that I consider Notre Dame law professor Rick Garnett to be one of the most thoughtful conservative scholars in America. And, I can think of few scholars of any ideological stripe who take their Catholicism more seriously, and more intelligently. If there is, as Lionel Trilling once said, a moral obligation to be intelligent, Garnett's is a profoundly moral voice. He had a very important and interesting article about Elena Kagan and her views on religious freedom at USAToday Monday that is well worth reading. I apologize for the delay in linking to it, but it has lost none of its cogency or interest.

Q & A: Rev. Anthony Chandler

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This week, Q & A is asking a variety of people what they made of the Shirley Sherrod episode. Today, we turn to Father Anthony Chandler, an African-American pastor in rural Kentucky. Father Chandler is the pastor of both St. Martin of Tours in Flaherty and St. John the Apostle in Brandenburg.
The question: What does the Shirley Sherrod episode tell us about race and politics in the age of Obama?
Father Chandler:
As an African American, and a Roman Catholic priest presently serving as a pastor in rural central Kentucky, this event became more important to me. Many of my parishioners are farmers and all of them are white people. I would want the best for them just as I would for anyone in the United States. Racism is an evil which still has a very prominent place in our society and culture, but it usually hides until it can be used as a political "firecracker". How many wonderful strides have been made by so many Americans in reducing prejudice, but something like this event comes to light, and well here we go again! The whole event true or not true allows a wonderful stage for the ignorant.

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September 12-25, 2014

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