Life is filled with dangers, but there is one danger that Professor Mark Silk need never fear: being charged as an example of the adage that a little learning is a dangerous thing. Silk has been studying the role of religion in American politics in greater depth and with greater precision than almost any acdemic I can think of. He has the capacity, which I utterly lack, of being patient enough to pore over the cross-tabs on polling data to ferret out key kernals of information. And so, readers are advised to go to his blog Spiritual Politcs and see some of his revent posts on the role of religion in the NH primary, good news for Romney in polling of evangelicals in SC, and Silk's takedown of a recent their put forth by a less learned member of the press corps at the Washington Post. Good, good stuff.
Last week, the Obama administration proposed to change the means by which undocumented spouses and children of U.S. citizens get a waiver from the rule that imposes a ten-year penalty on those who entered the country illegally. Currrently, the waiver must be applied for abroad and the waiting time to receive can run for months. (90 percent of the waiver applications are granted.) The rule change would allow undocumented spouses or children to apply for the waiver here in the U.S., cutting down the amount of time needed to return to the country from which the person emigrated from months to days.
The change is humane and should be endorsed by everyone. Keeping families together would be precisely the kind of thing you would think would appeal to pro-family Republicans. Cong. Lamar Smith, chait of the House Judiciary Committee, however, took a moment from repeating the GOP's refrain that the President is engaged in "class warfare" to say this about the change: “Who is the president batting for — illegal immigrants or the American people?” Nice.
President Obama went to the Pentagon for a press conference on premise last week to announce a strategic overhaul of the nation’s military. There is much to commend, and much about which to worry, in the President’s proposals even though we got only the broad outlines. The specifics will doubtlessly contain more worries, but that is the nature of specifics, and they will argue for themselves as the President tries to implement his strategic vision.
In case you missed it in the print edition of NCR, here is my reporting from the frontlines in the New Hampshire primary.
The good people at NETWORK called my attention to an interfaith prayer service, January 16, 2012, from 3-5 p.m. at historic Shiloh Baptist Church here in Washington. The service is sponsored by "Faith Advocates for Jobs" and will focus on Dr. King's deep and abiding commitment to workers and workers' rights, a commitment that led him to Memphis to help plead for better working conditions for that city's sanitation workers and where he was assassinated.
In our own day, those sanitation workers would be dismissed by some as "government employees" and some politicians would deny their right to collectively bargain for better wages and better working conditions. But, Dr. King knew better. This will be a great moment to remind the nation that Dr. King's legacy extended beyond the cause of civil rights: He understood that justice is a multi-facted jewel in the crown of a civilized people.
The sermon will be preached by the Rev. Dr. James Forbes, senior pastor emeritus at Riverside Church and the famed Shiloh Baptist choir will sing. For more information, contact Faith Advocates for Jobs at 202.525.3055.
This morning's unemployment report brought more good news as the unemployment rate dropped to 8.5 percent and the economy added a robust 200,000 new jobs, mor than analysts had anticipated. Of course, the economy is not out of the woods yet, and unemployment is still too high, but everything seems to be moving in the right direction. This is good news for the country and it is very good for President Obama's re-election prospects.
The worry is that the extent to which the economy becomes less of an issue, other issues, more susceptible to nastiness, will return. We will hear more of the "he apologizes for America" nonsense. We will hear more about the liberal courts. We will hear more about the "war on religion." And, the danger does not only come from the right. From the left, if there is less focus on the economy, there will be more focus on libertarian social policies and the "war on science."
The real economy can help or harm real people, so I am delighted it is improving. But, I confess I was looking forward to an election defined by a choice between Keynes and the Austrians.
I am beginning to think that Msgr. John Tracy Ellis is more influential from heaven than he was from the classroom! The two Americans named cardinals today, Archbishop Timothy Dolan and Archbishop Edwin O'Brien, had long associations with Msgr. Ellis.
Dolan was a student of Ellis when he took his doctorate in Church History at Catholic University. Ellis directed Dolan's dissertation. When I had occasion to require an introduction to Dolan when he was the Rector of the North American College in Rome, Msgr. Ellis happily obliged and, once I got there, I realized I could have had no better method of introduction than a commendatory note from Msgr. Ellis.
Msgr. Ellis met then-Father O'Brien when Ellis was scholar-in-residence at the North American College beginning in 1974. For the first semester, he lived at the Casa Santa Maria, the original home of the seminary which had since become the residence for clergy doing post-graduate work in Rome. O'Brien was one of the young priests that Ellis met and whose friendship he came to cherish. In the fall of 1986, when O'Brien was rector at Dunwoodie, Ellis took his last visiting professorship at the seminary.
Earlier this week, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, OFM Cap, issued a letter to the people of the Archdiocese of Boston marking the tenth anniversary of the revelations of clergy sex abuse in The Boston Globe. The letter, and an accompanying document about the steps taken by the archdiocese to face the scandal, is remarkable in every way.
This article in LifeSiteNews warns darkly that the latest Defense Authorization Act would allow President Obama to detain pro-lifers indefinitely. Huh?
I know my colleague John Allen has devised the useful, and sadly appropriate moniker "Taliban Catholics" for groups like those who follow LifeSiteNews regularly, but this is ridiculous. I especially like the breezy way they dismiss President Obama's signing statement in which the President said he would not use the authority granted him to detain U.S. citizens. These people are crazy.
A good article at Vatican Insider highlights some of Pope Benedict's recent remarks on the death penalty which seem to definitively close the door on those Catholics who continue to support it. Of course, the two Catholicsw seeking the presidency have publicly supported the use of torture so should we be surprised that they ignore the Holy Father on the death penalty?