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272 Words That Made America


147 years ago today, Abraham Lincoln delivered the most concise and eloquent statement of the American idea when he delivered the Gettysburg Address. Want to feel good about your country? Take a minute and re-read these words.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

Burke Disses Fellow Cardinals & the Pope


In a radio interview, soon-to-be Cardinal Raymond Burke said that the reason many in the Church do not see eye-to-eye with him on the necessity of denying communion to pro-choice politicians is because they live "in a society that’s completely secularized. The God-centred thinking which has marked the discipline of the Church is not easily understood by those who are bombarded day-in and day-out with a kind of God-less approach to the world and to many questions."

The Anglican Ordinariate: What about the numbers?


My friend Austen Ivereigh has a report on this morning's press conference in London about the future of the Anglican Ordinariate, which will be constituted early next year. The UK's Catholic bishops promised 250,000 pounds to get the group started, although that figure is a drop in the bucket compared to the relative wealth of the Anglican Church being abandoned by those coming over to Rome.
Last week, in an editorial in the Tablet, the editors wrote that it is expected 5 bishops, 50 priests and 500 lay people have expressed a desire to join the new Ordinariate. Those numbers do not seem proportional to me. One bishop for every 100 laity? Perhaps it is because at the top of the Anglican hierarchy, the bishops were mindful of the universal nature of the Anglican communion and, just so, more attuned to the way that communion has fractured in the past few years. Still, they had better bring enough of their lay people with them or the UK Bishops Conference is going to be subsidizing this Ordinariate forever.
Does anyone have any ideas why so many prelates and so few lay folk are prepared to join?

More on the Ghailani Trial


Yesterday, I called attention to an article by Benjamin Wittes, the super smart senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who has thought longer and harder and more intelligently about the legal issues raised by the war on terror than anyone I know.
Wittes has another article today, written with Jack Godsmith, that is worth reading on the subject. I am less sanguine than he about the prospect of indefinite detentions, but his piece also destroys some of the simplistic canards of both sides in the current debate, e.g., testimony acquired through torture is not likely to pass muster in a military tribunal any more than it passes muster in a civil trial.
Balancing justice and security is a tough thing. Beware of those who answers undervalue either of the two needs and of any simplistic answers. There are none.

Krauthammer Gets Ugly


In this morning's Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer holds up John Tyner as a new pop hero. Tyner is the man who videotaped his search at an airport and told the inspector "Don't touch my junk."
Krauthammer suggests that the complicated and, by design, invasive searches at airports have nothing to do with security and everything to do with political correctness. "Dont's touch my junk, you airport security goon - my package belongs to no one but me, and do you really think I'm a Nigerian nut job preparing for my 72-virgin orgy by blowing my johnson to kingdom come?"
I have only one question for Mr. Tyner - and for Mr. Krauthammer. Would you feel the same way if you were seated on a plane next to Timothy McVeigh?

The Real Problem With the CCHD Guidelines


I have already written to defend the new guidelines governing the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, and the CCHD itself, from critics who charge it has compromised the Church’s identity by funding groups that, while not pro-abortion or pro-gay marriage themselves, belong to coalitions that promote an agenda that is at odds with the fundamental teachings of the Church. It is clear to any fair-minded person that the charges are baseless.

During my reporting on the CCHD and its critics, one comment stuck with me. Deal Hudson, one of the leading critics of CCHD and currently the editor of and formerly the editor of Crisis magazine, asked why so many community organizing coalitions are pro-abortion in the first place, why so many of them stand at odds with the Church on the hot button social issues of the day, even if those positions are not part of their principal mission or agenda, and so, not in violation of the CCHD guidelines. It is a fair question, one the new CCHD guidelines addressed, thoroughly from my perspective, insufficiently from Hudson’s.

Lies, Damned Lies & Michelle Bachmann


In this morning New York Times, Thomas Friedman explains how lies travel fast, and what can be done about it.

In the event, Anderson Cooper at CNN not only exposed this absurd charge that President Obama's trip to India was going to cost $200 million per day, he also pointed to a much-needed growth industry: sound journalism. This is one instance where I like market values. If the cost of spreading lies rises because of work like Cooper's, the incidence of lies will diminish.

Of course, political deceit has long been a bi-partisan growth industry too.

Democrats credit Bill Clinton's policies with the economic boom of the 1990s, neglecting the growth of the sector of the economy. Republicans think cutting taxes raises revenue every time. Both parties indulge fanciful out-year projections to support their claims.

But at least the slap-down of Bachmann et al.'s ridiculous untruths can start a trend. Complex lies may continue to enjoy a long shelf life, but it is progress if we can at least call out the simple lies.

In Praise of Bailouts


I do not expect the Republican Tea Partyers to admit they should be eating some crow anytime soon, but they should be dining on an entire flock of crows this week.

One of the principal complaints against the Obama administration heard at Tea Party events was the charge that the government had wasted taxpayer money with all those bailouts.

Never mind that the largest bailout, of Wall Street, happened on George W. Bush's watch and helped prevent a second Great Depression. When it came time to bailout Detroit, critics complained that the government intervention violated the laws of the free market, that GM now stood for "Government Motors," and cries of socialism were bandied about.

Well, GM is now in the midst of one of the most successful IPO's in history and, as a consequence, the U.S. Treasury is getting almost all of its money back. This does not include the ireeparable harm to the Treasury that would have occured if GM had been allowed to fail, with tens of thousands of layoffs, workers no longer paying taxes, etc.

The bailout of Wall Street worked and, however repugnant it seemed, it was necessary. But the bailout of Detroit was different.

From the \"You Get What You Pay For\" Dept.


I guess I should not expect more from someone who entitles her column "The Spirited Atheist," but Susan Jacoby's column in the Washington Post's "On Faith" blog is so ridiculous, it undercuts the subheading on her blog, "In search of a new Age of Reason."

Jacoby is all in a lather because of the election of Archbishop Timothy Dolan as president of the USCCB. But the sentence that jumped out at me was this: "Dolan's election was a victory for the most orthodox forces within the church." It is clear from the context, that to Ms. Jacoby, orthodoxy is a bad thing and being the "most orthodox" is a very bad thing.

In what way does this estimation of orthodoxy cohere with the Age of Reason? It is like those skeptics who employ the adjective "dogmatic" as a slur.


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