Welcome to the Reading Room

Here are some news stories and articles which might be of interest to you. I've posted the opening section, and if you want to read more, you can click on "Read the whole article" to go to the original item. You'll find a variety of things here -- current news, political analysis, opinion pieces, articles about religion -- things I've happened to read and want to share with you. It's your Reading Room, so take your time. Browse. You're certain to find something you'll want to read.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Vatican Clarification on Delay of Anglican Provision

"Unmarried Ministers Must Submit to the Norm of Clerical Celibacy"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 31, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is the clarification issued today by Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See press office, on speculation for the reasons for the delay of the announced apostolic constitution allowing for personal ordinariates for Anglicans wishing to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church.

* * *

There has been widespread speculation, based on supposedly knowledgeable remarks by an Italian correspondent Andrea Tornielli, that the delay in publication of the Apostolic Constitution regarding Personal Ordinariates for Anglicans entering into full communion with the Catholic Church, announced on October 20, 2009, by Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, is due to more than "technical" reasons. According to this speculation, there is a serious substantial issue at the basis of the delay, namely, disagreement about whether celibacy will be the norm for the future clergy of the Provision.

Cardinal Levada offered the following comments on this speculation: "Had I been asked I would happily have clarified any doubt about my remarks at the press conference. There is no substance to such speculation. No one at the Vatican has mentioned any such issue to me. The delay is purely technical in the sense of ensuring consistency in canonical language and references. The translation issues are secondary; the decision not to delay publication in order to wait for the ‘official’ Latin text to be published in Acta Apostolicae Sedis was made some time ago.

The drafts prepared by the working group, and submitted for study and approval through the usual process followed by the Congregation, have all included the following statement, currently Article VI of the Constitution:

§1 Those who ministered as Anglican deacons, priests, or bishops, and who fulfill the requisites established by canon law and are not impeded by irregularities or other impediments may be accepted by the Ordinary as candidates for Holy Orders in the Catholic Church. In the case of married ministers, the norms established in the Encyclical Letter of Pope Paul VI Sacerdotalis coelibatus, n. 42 and in the Statement "In June" are to be observed. Unmarried ministers must submit to the norm of clerical celibacy of CIC can. 277, §1.

§2. The Ordinary, in full observance of the discipline of celibate clergy in the Latin Church, as a rule (pro regula) will admit only celibate men to the order of presbyter. He may also petition the Roman Pontiff, as a derogation from can. 277, §1, for the admission of married men to the order of presbyter on a case by case basis, according to objective criteria approved by the Holy See.

This article is to be understood as consistent with the current practice of the Church, in which married former Anglican ministers may be admitted to priestly ministry in the Catholic Church on a case by case basis. With regard to future seminarians, it was considered purely speculative whether there might be some cases in which a dispensation from the celibacy rule might be petitioned. For this reason, objective criteria about any such possibilities (e.g. married seminarians already in preparation) are to be developed jointly by the Personal Ordinariate and the Episcopal Conference, and submitted for approval of the Holy See."

Cardinal Levada said he anticipates the technical work on the Constitution and Norms will be completed by the end of the first week of November.
This is the whole article.  Original article here.

Attacks on traditional Anglicans prove pope's point

by Colleen Carroll Campbell

The day before he was chosen to lead the Catholic Church, the future Pope Benedict XVI made international headlines when he warned his fellow Cardinals about the "dictatorship of relativism" that he saw gripping Western culture. Flourishing in an age when "having a clear faith based on the Creed of the Church is often labeled as fundamentalism," this dictatorship is one that "does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one's own ego and desires."

That prognosis struck some of Benedict's critics on the left as too defensive and dour when he first uttered it. But today, nearly five years later, many of those same naysayers are proving him right. Exhibit A is their reaction to Benedict's decision last week to welcome tradition-minded Anglicans en masse into the Catholic Church.

Responding to a demand from Anglicans who long have sought a way to join the Catholic Church without abandoning their Anglican identity, the pope authorized the creation of a new canonical structure that allows these converts to retain some liturgical riches of their Anglican heritage while uniting with Rome.

The decision buoyed the spirits of many self-described Anglo-Catholics who feel marginalized and betrayed by the Anglican Communion's willingness to change age-old Christian teachings to suit contemporary sexual mores. Recent years have seen fierce debates between Anglicans who support their church's ordination of women priests, appointment of openly gay bishops and blessing of same-sex marriages and those who see such innovations as inconsistent with Scripture and 2,000 years of Christian tradition...   Read the whole article.

Finding a Catholic home

by Christopher Mahon

Coming from an Anglican family of church musicians, I was received into the Catholic Church just over five years ago on the Feast of Sts. John Fisher and Thomas More. Some other members of my family have also converted, but not all of them. Until now, we have been aware that becoming Catholic meant relinquishing some of our cherished heritage. So the Apostolic Constitution announced by the Vatican is quite a gift for my family and an answer to literally years of prayer.

Two years ago, when news first spread of the request from the Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) for union with the Holy See, it was apparent that TAC Primate John Hepworth was serious about his vision for “the end of the Reformation of the 16th century.” The Oct. 20 announcements in the Vatican and London bring that vision one great step closer to being fulfilled.

Pope Benedict XVI’s truly historic initiative has authorized the establishment of a universal system for Anglicans to join the Catholic Church without having to abandon legitimate religious traditions that are “precious to them and consistent with the Catholic faith.”

What is essential to understand about this move is that it effectively appropriates to the Catholic Church the Anglican traditions that are held so dear to so many. Renowned for its beautiful use of a hieratic form of English in the liturgy and its cultivated musical life, the Anglican heritage is now able to find a home in a church that will neither betray the apostolic faith nor commit ritual suicide... Read the whole article.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Foul Ball!

The following article was submitted in a slightly shorter form to the New York Times as an op-ed article. The Times declined to publish it. I thought you might be interested in reading it.

by Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan
Archbishop of New York

October is the month we relish the highpoint of our national pastime, especially when one of our own New York teams is in the World Series!

Sadly, America has another national pastime, this one not pleasant at all: anti-catholicism.

It is not hyperbole to call prejudice against the Catholic Church a national pastime. Scholars such as Arthur Schlesinger Sr. referred to it as “the deepest bias in the history of the American people,” while John Higham described it as “the most luxuriant, tenacious tradition of paranoiac agitation in American history.” “The anti-semitism of the left,” is how Paul Viereck reads it, and Professor Philip Jenkins sub-titles his book on the topic “the last acceptable prejudice.”

If you want recent evidence of this unfairness against the Catholic Church, look no further than a few of these following examples of occurrences over the last couple weeks:

•On October 14, in the pages of the New York Times, reporter Paul Vitello exposed the sad extent of child sexual abuse in Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish community. According to the article, there were forty cases of such abuse in this tiny community last year alone. Yet the Times did not demand what it has called for incessantly when addressing the same kind of abuse by a tiny minority of priests: release of names of abusers, rollback of statute of limitations, external investigations, release of all records, and total transparency. Instead, an attorney is quoted urging law enforcement officials to recognize “religious sensitivities,” and no criticism was offered of the DA’s office for allowing Orthodox rabbis to settle these cases “internally.” Given the Catholic Church’s own recent horrible experience, I am hardly in any position to criticize our Orthodox Jewish neighbors, and have no wish to do so . . . but I can criticize this kind of “selective outrage.”

Of course, this selective outrage probably should not surprise us at all, as we have seen many other examples of the phenomenon in recent years when it comes to the issue of sexual abuse. To cite but two: In 2004, Professor Carol Shakeshaft documented the wide-spread problem of sexual abuse of minors in our nation’s public schools (the study can be found here). In 2007, the Associated Press issued a series of investigative reports that also showed the numerous examples of sexual abuse by educators against public school students. Both the Shakeshaft study and the AP reports were essentially ignored, as papers such as the New York Times only seem to have priests in their crosshairs.

•On October 16, Laurie Goodstein of the Times offered a front page, above-the-fold story on the sad episode of a Franciscan priest who had fathered a child. Even taking into account that the relationship with the mother was consensual and between two adults, and that the Franciscans have attempted to deal justly with the errant priest’s responsibilities to his son, this action is still sinful, scandalous, and indefensible. However, one still has to wonder why a quarter-century old story of a sin by a priest is now suddenly more pressing and newsworthy than the war in Afghanistan, health care, and starvation–genocide in Sudan. No other cleric from religions other than Catholic ever seems to merit such attention.

•Five days later, October 21, the Times gave its major headline to the decision by the Vatican to welcome Anglicans who had requested union with Rome. Fair enough. Unfair, though, was the article’s observation that the Holy See lured and bid for the Anglicans. Of course, the reality is simply that for years thousands of Anglicans have been asking Rome to be accepted into the Catholic Church with a special sensitivity for their own tradition. As Cardinal Walter Kasper, the Vatican’s chief ecumenist, observed, “We are not fishing in the Anglican pond.” Not enough for the Times; for them, this was another case of the conniving Vatican luring and bidding unsuspecting, good people, greedily capitalizing on the current internal tensions in Anglicanism.

•Finally, the most combustible example of all came Sunday with an intemperate and scurrilous piece by Maureen Dowd on the opinion pages of the Times. In a diatribe that rightly never would have passed muster with the editors had it so criticized an Islamic, Jewish, or African-American religious issue, she digs deep into the nativist handbook to use every anti-Catholic caricature possible, from the Inquisition to the Holocaust, condoms, obsession with sex, pedophile priests, and oppression of women, all the while slashing Pope Benedict XVI for his shoes, his forced conscription -- along with every other German teenage boy -- into the German army, his outreach to former Catholics, and his recent welcome to Anglicans.

True enough, the matter that triggered her spasm -- the current visitation of women religious by Vatican representatives -- is well-worth discussing, and hardly exempt from legitimate questioning. But her prejudice, while maybe appropriate for the Know-Nothing newspaper of the 1850’s, the Menace, has no place in a major publication today.

I do not mean to suggest that anti-catholicism is confined to the pages New York Times. Unfortunately, abundant examples can be found in many different venues. I will not even begin to try and list the many cases of anti-catholicism in the so-called entertainment media, as they are so prevalent they sometimes seem almost routine and obligatory. Elsewhere, last week, Representative Patrick Kennedy made some incredibly inaccurate and uncalled-for remarks concerning the Catholic bishops, as mentioned in this blog on Monday. Also, the New York State Legislature has levied a special payroll tax to help the Metropolitan Transportation Authority fund its deficit. This legislation calls for the public schools to be reimbursed the cost of the tax; Catholic schools, and other private schools, will not receive the reimbursement, costing each of the schools thousands – in some cases tens of thousands – of dollars, money that the parents and schools can hardly afford. (Nor can the archdiocese, which already underwrites the schools by $30 million annually.) Is it not an issue of basic fairness for ALL school-children and their parents to be treated equally?

The Catholic Church is not above criticism. We Catholics do a fair amount of it ourselves. We welcome and expect it. All we ask is that such critique be fair, rational, and accurate, what we would expect for anybody. The suspicion and bias against the Church is a national pastime that should be “rained out” for good.

I guess my own background in American history should caution me not to hold my breath.

Then again, yesterday was the Feast of Saint Jude, the patron saint of impossible causes.    
This is the complete article.  Original article here.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Top Catholic bishops demand apology from Rep. Kennedy

by Michael O'Brien

Two top Catholic bishops have called on Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) to apologize for remarks blasting the church's opposition to health reform legislation.

Archbishop Timothy Dolan, of the archdiocese of New York, and Bishop Thomas Tobin, who is Kennedy's bishop, called on the Catholic lawmaker's criticism of the church's opposition to healthcare reform, citing concerns over whether the bill would allow funding for abortions.

"I can’t understand for the life of me how the Catholic Church could be against the biggest social justice issue of our time, where the very dignity of the human person is being respected by the fact that we’re caring and giving health care to the human person," Kennedy said in an interview with the Catholic News Service.

"I thought they were prolife?" Kennedy added. "If the church is prolife, then they ought to be for health care reform, because it’s going to provide health care that are going to keep people alive."

Tobin demanded an apology, calling Kennedy's statement "irresponsible and ignorant of the facts" in a statement last week. Dolan, who occupies one of the most prominent and influential positions in the U.S. Catholic church, followed suit this week...  Read the whole article.

Dissident theologian criticizes pope’s opening to Anglicans

by Sarah Delaney

ROME – Dissident theologian Father Hans Kung criticized Pope Benedict XVI for his recent opening to discontented Anglicans, charging the pope was “fishing” for the most conservative Christians to the detriment of the larger church.

Father Kung said the invitation to traditionalist Anglicans to join the Roman Catholic Church went against years of ecumenical work on the part of both churches, calling it instead “a nonecumenical piracy of priests.”

The pope’s basic message is: “Traditionalists of all churches, unite under the dome of St. Peter’s!” Father Kung wrote in an editorial Oct. 28 in the Rome daily La Repubblica.

“Look: The fisherman is fishing above all on the ‘right’ side of the lake. But the water is muddy,” he said.

The Vatican announced Oct. 20 that the pope was establishing a new structure to welcome Anglicans who want to be in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church while maintaining some of their spiritual and liturgical traditions. Many of the Anglicans who have asked the Vatican for such a provision are dismayed by the ordination of women and by the blessing of homosexual unions and the ordination of openly gay bishops in some provinces of the Anglican Communion.

While emphasizing the importance of celibacy for priests, the Vatican said a dispensation would be made for former Anglican priests who are married to be ordained Catholic priests. However, they will not be able to become bishops.

Father Kung, a Swiss theologian who has taught in Germany for decades, warned that married newcomers will cause resentment on the part of celibate Catholic clergy.

In 1979 the Vatican withdrew permission for him to teach as a Catholic theologian, although it did not restrict his ministry as a Catholic priest.

In the editorial, Father Kung also lambasted Pope Benedict’s recent efforts to bring back into the fold members of the Society of St. Pius X, a group of breakaway Catholics opposed to the changes in the church following the Second Vatican Council.

“After reintegrating the anti-reformist Society of St. Pius X, now Benedict XVI wants to flesh out the thinning ranks of Roman Catholics with like-minded Anglicans,” Father Kung wrote in the editorial.

He also criticized Anglican Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury, head of the Anglican Communion, who “in his desire to ingratiate himself with the Vatican apparently didn’t understand the consequences of the papal fishing trip in Anglican waters.”  This is the complete article.  See the original here.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Developing nation Anglicans decline pope's offer

by Tom Heneghan, Religion Editor

Conservative bishops who say they represent almost half the world's Anglicans urged fellow believers on Sunday to reform the Anglican Communion rather than take up Pope Benedict's invitation to join the Roman Catholic Church.

The "Global South" group, which last year seemed close to quitting the Communion, said those opposed to gay clergy and other liberal reforms should "stand firm with us in cherishing the Anglican heritage (and) pursuing a common vocation."

Indirectly declining the pope's offer to receive alienated Anglicans, the group called on the Communion's member churches to adopt a "covenant" to coordinate policy in the loosely structured 77-million-strong worldwide Anglican community.

"The proposed Anglican Covenant ... gives Anglican churches worldwide a clear and principled way forward in pursuing God's divine purposes together," said the statement posted on their website. Conservatives see this plan as a way to block liberal reforms in the United States, Canada and Britain...  Read the whole article.
 

A Resilient Baghdad on a Day of Horror

by David Ignatius

BAGHDAD -- From the air Sunday morning, this looked like a city restored. You could see paddle boats skimming the pond at Zahwra Park, and go-karts and waterslides. And in every direction, new schools and soccer fields and bustling warehouses -- all taking shape under the canopy of the new Iraq.

But down below, it turned out to be a morning from hell. Terrorists exploded two massive car bombs at the Justice Ministry and the Baghdad provincial administration, killing more than 100 and wounding more than 500. It was the worst day of violence this year, and it was, as the terrorists intended, a reminder of the fragility of Iraqi security.

Around the time the bombers struck, I was flying over the city in a Black Hawk helicopter with Gen. David Petraeus. As commander of U.S. forces in Iraq from 2007 to 2008, he helped restore stability here. He was returning Sunday as Centcom commander, and he decided on his way in from the airport to conduct one of his careening airborne tours of the city, which he used to make so frequently that the helicopter pilots gave them the code name "Purple Rain."

The signs of recovery seemed to be everywhere. "See, the houses are occupied again," Petraeus said, pointing to a neighborhood that several years ago was a virtual ghost town. "Always good to see a crane," he said, motioning to a new construction site. "Traffic jam, that's good to see."

Petraeus pointed out the evidence of normality -- the schools, the police stations, the sports stadiums, the bus and train stations, the parks and markets and riverside restaurants. And, to be honest, the city, seen in panorama, reminded me of the Baghdad I first visited in 1981, big and burly and, for an Arab city, fairly well organized... Read the whole article.

Benedict’s Gambit

By Ross Douthat

The Church of England has survived the Spanish Armada, the English Civil War and Elton John performing “Candle in the Wind” at Princess Diana’s Westminster Abbey funeral. So it will probably survive the note the Vatican issued last week, inviting disaffected Anglicans to head Romeward, and offering them an Anglo-Catholic mansion within the walls of the Roman Catholic faith.

But the invitation is a bombshell nonetheless. Pope Benedict XVI’s outreach to Anglicans may produce only a few conversions; it may produce a few million. Either way, it represents an unusual effort at targeted proselytism, remarkable both for its concessions to potential converts — married priests, a self-contained institutional structure, an Anglican rite — and for its indifference to the wishes of the Church of England’s leadership.

This is not the way well-mannered modern churches are supposed to behave. Spurred by the optimism of the early 1960s, the major denominations of Western Christendom have spent half a century being exquisitely polite to one another, setting aside a history of strife in the name of greater Christian unity... Read the whole article.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Obama a tough guy, at least with Fox News

White House tries to intimidate U.S. media while being a pushover with our foreign adversaries.

by Mark Steyn

Benjamin Disraeli's most famous advice to aspiring politicians was: "Never complain and never explain." For the greatest orator of our time, a man who makes Churchill, Lincoln and Henry V at Agincourt look like first-round rejects on "Orating With The Stars," Barack Obama seems to have pretty much given up on the explaining side. He tried it with health care with speech after speech after exclusive interview for months on end, and the more he explained the more unpopular the whole racket got. So he declared that the time for explaining is over, and it's time to sign on or else.

Meanwhile, to take the other half of the Disraeli equation, Obama and his officials and their beleaguered band of surrogates never stop complaining. If you express concerns about government health care, they complain about all these "racists" and "domestic terrorists" obstructing his agenda. If you wonder why the president can't seem to find time in his hectic schedule of international awards acceptance speeches to make a decision about Afghanistan, they complain that it's not his fault he "inherited" all these problems. And, if you wonder why his "green jobs" czar is a communist 9/11 truther, and his National Endowment for the Arts guy is leaning on grant recipients to produce Soviet-style propaganda extolling Obama policies, they complain about Fox News...  Read the whole article.

Friday, October 23, 2009

What the Vatican's welcome of Anglicans means

by John Allen, Jr.

This week's big Vatican story is obviously the decision to create special structures, called "personal ordinariates", to welcome Anglicans seeking to join the Catholic church. In some reports, the move was touted as a bold gambit to end the schism that began with the English Reformation in the 16th century -- a dubious bit of spin, given that the actual number of Anglicans likely to sign up for one of these ordinariates will almost certainly be quite small.

When the dust settles, the centuries-long breach between Rome and Canterbury will remain intact.

More in the realm of reality, the move was styled as Rome rolling out a welcome mat for "disaffected Anglicans," meaning conservatives unhappy with the ordination of women as priests and bishops, the blessing of same-sex unions, and the ordination of openly gay clergy. That's indeed likely to be the constituency most disposed to take up Rome's offer, but in principle these new structures will be open to all Anglicans, whatever their position on the culture wars...  Read the whole article.

America’s Obama Obsession

Anatomy of a passing hysteria.

by Victor Davis Hanson

For 30 months the nation has been in the grip of a certain Obama obsession, immune to countervailing facts, unwilling to face reality, and loath to break the spell. But like all trances, the fit is passing, and we the patient are beginning to appreciate how the stupor came upon us, why it lifted, and what its consequences have been.

HOW OBAMA WON

Barack Obama was elected rather easily because, in perfect-storm fashion, five separate trends coalesced last autumn.

1) Obama was eloquent, young, charismatic — and African-American. He thus offered voters a sense of personal and collective redemption, as well as appealing to the longing for another JFK New Frontier figure. An image, not necessarily reality, trumped all.

2) After the normal weariness with eight years of an incumbent party and the particular unhappiness with Bush, the public was amenable to an antithesis. Bush was to be scapegoat, and Obama the beginning of the catharsis.

3) Obama ran as both a Clintonite centrist and a no-red-state/no-blue-state healer who had transcended bitter partisanship. That assurance allowed voters to believe that his occasional talk of big change was more cosmetic than radical.

4) John McCain ran a weak campaign that neither energized his base nor appealed to crossover independents. McCain turned off conservatives; many failed to give money, and some even stayed home on election day. Meanwhile, the media and centrists who used to idolize McCain’s non-conservative, maverick status found Obama the more endearing non-conservative maverick.

5) The September 2008 financial panic turned voters off Wall Street and the wealthy, and allowed them to connect unemployment and their depleted home equity and 401(k) retirement plans with incumbent Republicans. In contrast, they assumed that Obama, as the anti-Bush, would not do more bailouts, more stimuli, and more big borrowing.

Take away any one of those factors, and Obama might well have lost. Imagine what might have happened had Obama been a dreary old white guy like John Kerry; or had Bush’s approvals been over 50 percent; or had Obama run on the platform he is now governing on; or had McCain crafted a dynamic campaign; or had the panic occurred in January 2009 rather than September 2008. Then the trance would have passed, and Obama, the Chicago community organizer and three-year veteran of the U.S. Senate, would have probably lost his chance at remaking America...  Read the whole article.

The Anglicans and the Eastern churches

by Phil Lawler

Secular journalists, hearing the news about the Pope's dramatic invitation to Anglicans, immediately fastened on the question of celibacy. If married Anglican priests can be admitted to the Catholic priesthood, will the issue of priestly celibacy in the Roman Church be re-opened for discussion? Probably not.

The opening for married priests will occur only within a clearly defined structure, created for those who are preserving the Anglican tradition within the Catholic Church. If you are a married Catholic from any other background who wants to be ordained, you'd have to absorb that entire Anglican tradition first-- and demonstrate your bona fides in doing so, no doubt-- before you could be considered for the priesthood. Will some men take that circuitous route? Perhaps. Many? I doubt it.

For the rest of us, Catholics outside the Anglican tradition, the same rules will continue to apply, for the same reasons.

But the Pope's opening to Anglicans may bring a change in practice for Catholics from other traditions: specifically, those of the Eastern churches. Most Eastern Catholic churches admit married men to the priesthood (although a single man, once ordained to the priesthood, cannot marry). Their traditions, like the Anglican tradition, allows for married priests.

When they first began establishing parishes in the US, however, the Eastern Catholic churches found that their married priests were causing consternation among their American Catholic neighbors. So for decades, the Eastern churches have agreed not to ordain married men in this country. (There have been a few exceptions to that rule, and married priests have continued to arrive in the US from other countries.)

If the Pope's new apostolic constitution brings a large number of married Anglican priests into the Catholic fold, it will no longer be a novelty-- or a cause for raised eyebrows-- to encounter a married Catholic priest. So the reason for the old agreement with the Eastern Catholic churches will no longer exist. It's only a matter of time, it would seem, before the Eastern churches begin ordaining married men in the US, just as they do in their homelands.  This is the whole article.  Read the original here. 

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Vatican decision to receive Anglicans prompts US, Canadian reaction

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Parishioners at Our Lady of the Atonement in San Antonio, the largest Anglican-use Catholic parish in the U.S., have plenty to talk about these days.

"Everyone is excited, but they have lots of questions," said the pastor, Father Christopher Phillips, about the Vatican's Oct. 20 announcement of a special structure for Anglicans who want to be in full communion with the Catholic Church.

Father Phillips -- once an Episcopal priest and now a Catholic priest who founded Our Lady of the Atonement 26 years ago -- doesn't have detailed answers yet for the parish's 500 families. He said more details will be known once the pope's apostolic constitution and norms for implementing it are revised and published, which was to take a few weeks.

In the meantime, he told Catholic News Service he couldn't be more pleased.

The priest has been telling parishioners that they should view the new provisions "as a confirmation that what we've been doing has been found worthy."

The Anglican province in the United States is the Episcopal Church.

Other Anglican-use Catholic parishes are located in Houston and Arlington, Texas, and in Columbia, S.C. In addition there are Anglican-use congregations sharing the facilities of regular Catholic parishes in Corpus Christi, Texas; Scranton, Pa.; Kansas City, Mo.; Boston and Phoenix.

These communities began forming after the Vatican approved a pastoral provision for the United States in 1980 allowing the retention of some elements of Anglican identity in liturgy when a number of Episcopalians from the same congregation or area entered full Catholic communion. That provision also allowed a special procedure to admit former Episcopal priests who had become Catholic into the Catholic priesthood... Read the whole article.

Catholicism and Anglicanism: the end of an era

by George Weigel

The first wave of reactions to the October 20 Vatican announcement of a new arrangement for receiving into the Catholic Church groups of Anglican clergy and laity who would retain distinctive elements of their spiritual and liturgical heritage tended toward the critical: Rome's move, it was suggested, was a new obstacle to Anglican-Catholic dialogue, an act of ecclesiastical "poaching," and a retreat from the ecumenical commitments of the Second Vatican Council. What the Vatican intended as an act of ecumenical hospitality, however, was also bit of theological shock-therapy: a moment of clarification in a situation that had begun to resemble an ecumenical Wonderland in which well-intentioned people taught themselves impossible things before breakfast.

Many of the practical details of the new arrangement remain unsettled, for the text of the Apostolic Constitution that Benedict XVI will issue, creating "personal ordinariates" by which Anglicans can enter into full communion with Rome under the spiritual guidance of Anglican clergy who will be ordained as Catholic priests, has not been completed. Nonetheless, the announcement does mark the end of an era in Anglica-Catholic relations, which began with a pioneering ecumenical dialogue led by the Belgian Cardinal Desire Mercier and the British statesman Lord Halifax after World War I. That era reached its apogee at Vatican II in the mid-1960s, when corporate reunion between Canterbury and Rome seemed to many an achievable, short-term goal...  Read the whole article.

I shall send you the Paraclete, who will lead you into constructive disagreements

by Diogenes

In gauging the reactions to the Holy See's announcement of a Personal Ordinariate for Anglican converts, it's clear that, as is almost invariable in contemporary controversies, the rift in opinion reflects not church affiliation but one's alignment in the culture wars. The response of U.S. Episcopalians, for example, largely mirrors the divisions found in the responses tendered by U.S. Catholics. The higher clergy appear as rattled as everybody else and have yet to find their voices; the initial statements issued by the USCCB and The Episcopal Church are cautious to the point of contentlessness. TEC's Deputy for Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations said, "We in the Episcopal Church continue to look to the Holy Spirit, who guides us in understanding of what it means to be the Church in the Anglican Tradition." Sounds pretty desperate. Ronald Knox tells the story of a worldly gentleman in a storm at sea, who asked the captain about their predicament. When advised to take to his prayers he replied, "Is it as bad as that?"  Read the whole article.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Bridge Across the Tiber

by Rev. Dwight Longenecker

There was a T-shirt on the market last year for converts to the Catholic faith. Emblazoned on the front were the words, "Member of the Tiber Swimmers Club." After today's amazing announcement from the Vatican, Anglicans no longer need to change into their swimming trunks. Trembling toes no longer need to be dipped in the chilly waters of the Roman river. Anglicans needn't take the plunge: Benedict has built a bridge.

The "personal ordinariate" is a structure whereby Anglicans will be able to come into full communion with the Holy See. Individuals, congregations, parishes, religious communities, whole dioceses and provinces will be able to maintain their Anglican traditions, use the Anglican Use Roman liturgy, see their married priests ordained to serve as Catholic priests, and even have their own "ordinary" (akin to their own bishop). Think of a mixture of the system used to minister to the military and the semi-autonomous structure that the Eastern Rite Catholics enjoy.

The Archbishop of Canterbury looked a bit like a deer in the headlights at the press conference in London today, where he admitted that he was not consulted about this step and was only informed about it two weeks ago. Nevertheless, he should have seen it coming: Not only has the Traditional Anglican Communion been publicly courting the Vatican, but two of his own traditionalist bishops were in a "secret" meeting with the Vatican last Easter...  Read the whole article.
 

The Pope's bold invitation to Anglicans

by Phil Lawler

With a single, bold stroke that caught nearly everyone by surprise, Pope Benedict XVI has eased the way for tradition-minded Anglicans who wish to enter the Catholic Church.

The apostolic constitution that was announced at the Vatican today will create a hierarchical structure within the Catholic Church, allowing Anglican priests to become Catholic priests with a minimum of red tape, and providing for the appointment of former Anglicans as Catholic bishops. The "personal ordinariates" established under the terms of this apostolic constitution will ensure that Anglicans who become Catholics are not simply absorbed into the existing Catholic structures and then forgotten; they will be allowed-- and encouraged-- to maintain their own distinctive traditions.

Oddly, today's Vatican press conference announced the new apostolic constitution, but the Vatican officials who briefed reporters spoke about the document in the future tense. Cardinal William Levada, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, discussed the impact of the "forthcoming" apostolic constitution. The document is not yet ready for publication; the Vatican did not even announce its name.

Ordinarily, the press conference would be convened only after the document was prepared, and the high Vatican officials would unveil the document at the same time that they explained its impact. In this case, apparently, the Vatican wanted to explain the document even before it appeared-- probably in order to prevent the sort of premature leaks that could give rise to misunderstandings and inaccuracies about the nature of the papal initiative.

In other words the Holy See rushed to explain this apostolic constitution before misunderstandings could arise. In a rare and welcome display of media savvy, the Vatican seized control of the story, giving its own explanation before the confusion set in...  Read the whole article. 

Vatican creates new structure for Anglicans

by Nicole Winfield

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI has created a new church structure for Anglicans who want to join the Catholic Church, responding to the disillusionment of some Anglicans over the ordination of women and the election of openly gay bishops.

The new provision will allow Anglicans to join the Catholic Church while maintaining their Anglican identity and many of their liturgical traditions, Cardinal William Levada, the Vatican's chief doctrinal official, told a news conference.

The new church structure, called Personal Ordinariates, will be units of faithful within the local Catholic Church headed by former Anglican prelates who will provide spiritual care for Anglicans who wish to become Catholic.

"Those Anglicans who have approached the Holy See have made clear their desire for full, visible unity in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church," Levada said. "At the same time, they have told us of the importance of their Anglican traditions of spirituality and worship for their faith journey."

Levada said the new canonical structure is a response to the many requests that have come to the Vatican over the years from Anglicans who have become increasingly disillusioned with the ordination of women, the election of openly gay bishops and the blessing of same-sex unions in the 77-million strong Anglican Communion. He declined to give figures on the number of requests that have come to the Vatican, or on the anticipated number of Anglicans who might take advantage of the new structure... Read the whole article.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Is there a Historic Anglican - Vatican Announcement Coming?

Is the official Press Conference in Rome scheduled for Tuesday morning an announcement of historic implications concerning traditional Anglicans?

by Deacon Keith Fournier

ROME (Catholic Online) - The Official Bulletin from the Vatican Press officially announced this evening that a Press Conference is scheduled for tomorrow, Tuesday, 20 October 2009, in the John Paul II Hall of the Vatican Press Office. Here is the translation of the official announcement issued early this evening:

“We inform accredited journalists that tomorrow, Tuesday, 20 October 2009, at 11 a.m., in the John Paul II Hall of the Press Office of the Holy See, a briefing will be held on a theme pertaining to the relationship with the Anglicans, at which His Eminence Cardinal William Joseph Levada, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and His Excellency Msgr. Joseph Augustine Di Noia OP, Secretary of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments will take part".

Father John Zuhlsdorf, whose ever informative, theologically solid, and usually very accurate blog entitled “What Does the Prayer Really Say”, offered the following insightful thoughts:

“The main speakers will be the Prefect of the Congregation for Doctrine of the Faith, His Eminence Card. Levada and the fomer Sotto-Segretario of the same CDF, now Secretary of the Cong. for Divine Worship H.E. Augustine DiNoia, OP.

“This all makes sense if…if… this is to announce that there will be a reunion of Traditional Anglicans with the Catholic Church. This would be in the bailiwick of the CDF. And Archbp. DiNoia would have been involved when he was at the CDF...  Read the whole article.

The Power of the Plaintiffs’ Bar

Why Democrats are avoiding medical-malpractice reform at all costs.

by Edwin Meese III & Hans A. von Spakovsky

The health-care bill the Senate Finance Committee approved makes a lot of promises. It will cost American taxpayers $829 billion, on top of an already out-of-control federal budget, as well as guarantee an increase in their individual medical expenditures.

But one thing the bill does not do is bring down the high cost of health care, which is driven in large measure by abusive tort litigation. This litigation greatly increases medical malpractice‑insurance costs and forces doctors to practice “defensive medicine” — that is, order unnecessary tests and treatments to avoid potential lawsuits.

When President Obama addressed Congress on health care, he actually mentioned medical-malpractice reform. But he made only a dubious offer of future medical-malpractice “pilot projects,” as if that would make the proposed government takeover of health care any more palatable.

The president said he doesn’t “believe malpractice reform is a silver bullet.” He claims he has talked to enough doctors to know that defensive medicine “may” be contributing to costs. “May” be contributing? The Journal of the American Medical Association found that 93 percent of doctors admit practicing defensive medicine. A new study by the Pacific Research Institute estimates that such practices cost $191 billion a year, while a separate study by PricewaterhouseCoopers puts the number even higher — $239 billion.

Medical-malpractice premiums have risen by more than 80 percent each year in some parts of the country and can cost almost half a million dollars a year in some specialties. The direct costs of medical-malpractice tort claims range from $16 billion according to the Pacific Research Institute to more than $30 billion according to Tillinghast-Towers Perrin. A CBO report requested by Sen. Orrin Hatch admitted that medical-malpractice reform could save $54 billion for the U.S. government alone.

President Obama professed interest in a “range of ideas about how to put patient safety first and let doctors focus on practicing medicine.” He ordered Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius to move forward with “authorizing demonstration projects in individual states to test these issues.”

Test these issues? There’s no need for federal tests — we already know what works. States that have implemented medical-malpractice reforms, such as Texas and Mississippi, have seen significant decreases in malpractice premiums — a major medical cost for doctors that’s passed directly to patients — and substantial decreases in the number of malpractice claims filed by the plaintiffs’ bar.

Medical-malpractice reform clearly works. This isn’t primarily a federal issue, but federal health-care programs shouldn’t inflame the problem or prevent reform, which is what the pending federal legislation could do. As we described in a recent Heritage Foundation paper, an amendment to Medicare that was proposed for one of the House health-care bills would flood federal courts with speculative and abusive class-action lawsuits to benefit plaintiffs’ lawyers at the expense of the American taxpayer and Medicare beneficiaries. It would also override much of state tort law and state tort reform...  Read the whole article. 

Taking Obamacare Off the Books

by the Editors

You don’t have to be a Washington insider to understand what the Democrats are up to with their last-minute plan to run the “doc fix” — postponing scheduled cuts to doctors’ Medicare payments — on a separate legislative track. It’s all about Obamacare, as is so much this year. The Obama administration and its allies in Congress will do just about anything to get a health-care bill to the president’s desk, and that certainly includes spending whatever amount of taxpayer money they deem necessary — and doing so through a shameless ploy, offloading $247 billion in Obamacare costs onto a separate, standalone, unfinanced piece of legislation. Obama promised not to add “one dime” to the deficit for health care: Democrats now plan to dump $247 billion onto the nation’s already staggering pile of debt, using this piece of accounting trickery to cover their tracks.

The “doc fix” is political shorthand for repeal of the discredited “sustainable growth rate” (SGR) Medicare-payment formula, which determines the annual update of physicians’ fees. A comprehensive failure as a cost-cutting measure, SGR is a prime example of the bureaucratic central planning that Democrats now want to extend across all of American health care. SGR was supposed to keep Medicare spending on doctors’ services in line with economic growth by limiting the annual increases in the prices paid for each particular physician service. The trouble is that Medicare’s total cost is determined by both prices and volume, and the government has no way to control the use of physicians’ services. As fees have been cut, volume has soared — necessitating even deeper cuts to keep spending in line with SGR targets.

The sensible course is a thorough reform of how Medicare operates. So long as the program is dependent on payment schemes devised in Washington, we are doomed to endure SGR-style disasters over and over again...  Read the whole article.

The lucrative business of racism

by Bob Weir

This latest imbroglio about Rush Limbaugh being ineligible to buy an NFL franchise, because of a couple of alleged racial comments he made over the span of his many decades on the radio, stands out as one of the phoniest canards ever foisted upon the American public.

The irony behind the spurious charge is that they come from two of the most incendiary provocateurs in the race-baiting business. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, who give themselves the ludicrous title of Reverend, have the unmitigated gall to proclaim that Limbaugh is a polarizing figure in the country. This from a couple of race hustlers who have been living large for several decades with no visible means of support except for the "donations" they received from corporations they've threatened with not so subtle methods of extortion. Using their race as a bludgeon, they begin by claiming that a company doesn't have enough blacks on the payroll, therefore they will stage protests and jeopardize the company's profits until it cries uncle and makes sizable "contributions" to the respective bank accounts of some very suspicious "nonprofit" groups. Add to that several instances in which these charlatans have thrown gasoline on black - white incidents from coast to coast, and you have a clear picture of actual racism...  Read the whole article.
 

Subverting Democracy

by Daniel Mandel

It is extraordinary to see the Obama Administration -- backed by establishment liberal papers like the Washington Post and New York Times -- urging democratic Honduras to accept at least the temporary reinstatement of ousted president Manuel Zelaya.

Hondurans should ignore this advice.

Zelaya was ousted because he sought to alter the Honduran Constitution in order to enable him to run for a further term as president. This was illegal, because Article 4 of the Constitution limits the president to one four-year term. Article 4 in turn is subject to a constitutional prohibition on its alteration contained in Article 239, which states that "whoever changes or attempts to change" it "will be immediately removed from public office."

It was precisely this constitutional prohibition that Zelaya violated last May when he tried to initiate a referendum to change Article 4. Article 42, Section 5 says that anyone who is found to "incite, promote, or aid in the continuation or re-election of the President" faces loss of citizenship. Under the Constitution, therefore, Zelaya appears entitled to neither the presidency nor even Honduran citizenship...  Read the whole article.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Treating the Elderly Like Spoiled Brats

by Steve Chapman

When inflation hits, every dollar in your bank account is worth less each day. Deflation is just the opposite: You put your feet up and watch your money grow in value. The latter is what is happening now to America's seniors. And politicians think they should not have to stand for it.

The other day, the federal government announced that for the first time since cost-of-living adjustments were begun in 1975, Social Security recipients will not get an annual raise in their monthly checks. This decision is not the result of a fit of fiscal austerity or a sadistic desire to punish old people. There won't be a raise to offset inflation for the simple reason that there has been no inflation to offset.

Last year, seniors got a big raise because consumer prices had jumped 5.8 percent in one year. In the following 12 months, though, the Consumer Price Index has dropped by 2.1 percent. So in the coming year, Social Security payments will stay the same and be worth more than they used to be.

But so what? Groups representing the elderly, like AARP, have come to regard the annual raise as a sacred birthright in good times as well as bad, and few in Washington want to argue with them. President Obama has proposed giving every Social Security recipient a tax-free $250 bonus in lieu of a cost-of-living adjustment. Congressional Democrats are all for it, and the Republican leadership sounds agreeable.

A consensus like that happens only when someone comes up with a simple, appealing and thoroughly horrendous idea. As it is, the cost-of-living rules are a great deal for seniors. Retirees get more money when prices rise, but they don't have to give any of it back when prices fall. The ratchet works only in their favor.

It's not easy to make a case for enriching seniors at a time when working-age Americans are suffering, but Obama and his allies are trying. The president insisted that "we must act on behalf of those hardest hit by this recession."

Who is he kidding? His policy would help those with the most protection. The people hit hardest by the recession are those who have seen their earnings vanish along with their jobs. Social Security recipients are assured of a stable stream of income even when companies are cutting payroll with a chainsaw...  Read the whole article.

The danger of Obama's dithering

His foreign policy brings to mind Jimmy Carter, or perhaps Ethelred the Unready.

by John R. Bolton

Weakness in American foreign policy in one region often invites challenges elsewhere, because our adversaries carefully follow diminished American resolve. Similarly, presidential indecisiveness, whether because of uncertainty or internal political struggles, signals that the United States may not respond to international challenges in clear and coherent ways.

Taken together, weakness and indecisiveness have proved historically to be a toxic combination for America's global interests. That is exactly the combination we now see under President Obama. If anything, his receiving the Nobel Peace Prize only underlines the problem. All of Obama's campaign and inaugural talk about "extending an open hand" and "engagement," especially the multilateral variety, isn't exactly unfolding according to plan. Entirely predictably, we see more clearly every day that diplomacy is not a policy but only a technique. Absent presidential leadership, which at a minimum means clear policy direction and persistence in the face of criticism and adversity, engagement simply embodies weakness and indecision.

Obama is no Harry Truman. At best, he is reprising Jimmy Carter. At worst, the real precedent may be Ethelred the Unready, the turn-of the-first-millennium Anglo-Saxon king whose reputation for indecisiveness and his unsuccessful paying of Danegeld -- literally, "Danish tax" -- to buy off Viking raiders made him history's paradigmatic weak leader...  Read the whole article.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Belmont Abbey College: Preparing to Fight

by Dr. Jeff Mirus

Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina has been striving for the past few years to become a more thoroughly Catholic institution of higher education. The College has a long tradition which extends back to its founding in 1876 as St. Mary’s College by the Benedictine monks of Belmont Abbey. The school changed its name to Belmont Abbey College in 1913. In the wake of John Paul II’s Apostolic Constitution on Catholic higher education, Ex Corde Ecclesiae, which was issued in 1990, Belmont Abbey has been prominent among American Catholic colleges and universities in attempting to represent ever more faithfully the mind of the Church in education.

Many readers will be familiar with the engaging “Got Monks?” advertisements used by the College to attract students in recent years. Like most Catholic colleges and universities, Belmont Abbey College found itself adversely affected by the collapse of Catholic culture which dominated the second half of the twentieth century. The school's faculty became less consistently committed to Catholic principles and the student body followed suit. But new leadership brought change: improved hiring practices, deliberate recruitment of students from stronger Catholic families, and more consistent academic policies. The College is now on the Cardinal Newman Society’s list of twenty-one Catholic colleges and universities in America which get a clean bill of Catholic health...  Read the whole article.

The Nobel-Hollywood Complex Implodes

Polanski, Letterman, and the Norwegians make conservatives' day

by Noemie Emery

Three times in the past several weeks, fortune has seemed to beam on conservatives, in unexpected and unprompted ways. Not that they've won much, but their tormentors keep losing. Three days in fall 2009 damaged or neutralized three liberal institutions, whose powers have now been curtailed...  Read the whole article.

A Tale of Two Soundbites

Which one sounds “divisive” to you?

by Mark Steyn

Here is a tale of two soundbites. First:

“Slavery built the South. I’m not saying we should bring it back; I’m just saying it had its merits. For one thing, the streets were safer after dark.”

Second:

“The third lesson and tip actually comes from two of my favorite political philosophers, Mao Tse-Tung and Mother Teresa. Not often coupled with each other, but the two people that I turn to most to basically deliver a simple point, which is: You’re going to make choices. . . . But here’s the deal: These are your choices; they are no one else’s. In 1947, when Mao Tse-Tung was being challenged within his own party on his own plan to basically take China over, Chiang Kai-Shek and the nationalist Chinese held the cities, they had the army. . . . They had everything on their side. And people said ‘How can you win . . . ? How can you do this against all of the odds against you?’ And Mao Tse-Tung says, ‘You fight your war and I’ll fight mine . . . ’ You don’t have to accept the definition of how to do things. . . . You fight your war, you let them fight theirs. Everybody has their own path.”

The first quotation was attributed to Rush Limbaugh. He never said it. There is no tape of him saying it. There is no transcript of him saying it. After all, if he had done so at any point in the last 20 years, someone would surely have mentioned it at the time.

Yet CNN, MSNBC, ABC, other networks, and newspapers all around the country cheerfully repeated the pro-slavery quotation and attributed it, falsely, to Rush Limbaugh. And planting a flat-out lie in his mouth wound up getting Rush bounced from a consortium hoping to buy the St. Louis Rams. The NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, said the talkshow host was a “divisive” figure, and famously non-divisive figures like the Rev. Al Sharpton and the Rev. Jesse Jackson expressed the hope that, with Mister Divisive out of the picture, the NFL could now “unify.”

The second quotation — hailing Mao — was uttered back in June to an audience of high-school students by Anita Dunn, the White House communications director. I know she uttered it because I watched the words issuing from her mouth on The Glenn Beck Show on Fox News. But don’t worry. Nobody else played it.

So if I understand correctly:

Rush Limbaugh is so “divisive” that to get him fired leftie agitators have to invent racist soundbites to put in his mouth.

But the White House communications director is so un-divisive that she can be invited along to recommend Chairman Mao as a role model for America’s young...  Read the whole article.

'Reform' No One Wants to Pay For

By Michael Barone

The legislative process can also be a learning process, and as Congress considers health care legislation -- the latest act being the Senate Finance Committee's vote in favor of Chairman Max Baucus' bill, or "conceptual language" -- we have been learning something useful. It's that legislators would like to provide generous, even gold-plated health insurance coverage to almost all Americans, but that no one wants to pay for it.

The learning process should have started last February, when Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf indicated that the CBO did not back the Obama administration's assertion that preventive care would save money. But it still came as a shock when the CBO confirmed its preliminary finding in its June assessments of the cost of Senate Democrats' bills.

This should have been obvious all along. Early screening can reduce the cost of treating a particular patient. But the costs of early screening add up when you test lots of people who will never need such treatment. So much for "bending the cost curve" down by preventive care.

Then House committees passed a bill financed in part by a "millionaire's tax." But freshman Jared Polis of Colorado, a successful entrepreneur, and 20 other House Democrats came out against that, on the reasonable theory that a tax on high-earners is a job-killer in today's economy. And tax increases on high-earners, thanks to creative accountants, never net as much revenue as static analysts like the CBO predict.

Baucus' bill would impose $829 billion in added costs, financed by a variety of taxes and spending cuts that are just as dubious. One is a tax on so-called Cadillac health insurance plans. But unions that have negotiated such plans are opposed, and House Democratic leaders are uninterested. Another is a tax on makers of medical devices that will be paid for by consumers. Critics have pointed out that most of these taxes will fall on people with ordinary incomes, far below the $250,000-plus moguls that Barack Obama said would bear all his tax increases...   Read the whole article.

The Vote Democrats Don't Want

Whatever you do, don't mention Countrywide.

by James Freeman

If you think moderate Democrats are afraid of voting for ObamaCare, you should see how they react to a potential vote on the Countrywide Financial loan scandal.

The House oversight committee was scheduled to meet on Thursday afternoon to mark up several minor pieces of legislation. Days before the meeting, California Republican Darrell Issa notified committee Chairman Edolphus Towns that Mr. Issa would call for a vote to subpoena Countrywide documents from Bank of America, which bought the failed subprime lender last year. Recall that, under the "Friends of Angelo" program, named for former Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo, Democratic Senators Chris Dodd and Kent Conrad received sweetheart deals on home mortgages. Mr. Issa wants to uncover the full story on Countrywide's effort to influence Washington policy makers.

Mr. Towns, a New York Democrat who also received mortgages from the unit that processed the VIP loans but claims he received no favors, has opposed such a subpoena. But can he count on his Democratic colleagues to vote it down? Perhaps Mr. Towns would rather not find out. Mr. Issa showed up for the scheduled 2 p.m. markup on Thursday hoping that a few Democrats would vote his way and allow the investigation to proceed. Then a strange thing happened: As Mr. Issa and the GOP members of the committee sat waiting for the meeting to begin, Democrats huddled in a back room without explanation. Thirty-five minutes later, the committee announced that the meeting had been postponed indefinitely.

A committee press release later claimed the postponement was "due to conflicts" with a markup occurring at the same time in the financial services committee. But Mr. Issa's staff videotaped several financial services members leaving the back-room gathering with Mr. Towns at the conclusion of the meeting. If members were there to confab with Chairman Towns, obviously they weren't at any finance committee markup -- suggesting the real "conflict" was between Democrats over whether to keep stonewalling the Countrywide matter.

This is the complete article.  Go here for the original article.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Drill

Petroleum is a major part of America’s energy picture. Shall we get it here or abroad?

by Sarah Palin

Given that we’re spending billions of stimulus dollars to rebuild our highways, it makes sense to think about what we’ll be driving on them. For years to come, most of what we drive will be powered, at least in part, by diesel fuel or gasoline. To fuel that driving, we need access to oil. The less use we make of our own reserves, the more we will have to import, which leads to a number of harmful consequences. That means we need to drill here and drill now.

We rely on petroleum for much more than just powering our vehicles: It is essential in everything from jet fuel to petrochemicals, plastics to fertilizers, pesticides to pharmaceuticals. Ac­cord­ing to the Energy Information Ad­min­is­tra­tion, our total domestic petroleum consumption last year was 19.5 million barrels per day (bpd). Motor gasoline and diesel fuel accounted for less than 13 million bpd of that. Meanwhile, we produced only 4.95 million bpd of domestic crude. In other words, even if we ran all our vehicles on something else (which won’t happen anytime soon), we would still have to depend on imported oil. And we’ll continue that dependence until we develop our own oil resources to their fullest extent.

Those who oppose domestic drilling are motivated primarily by environmental considerations, but many of the countries we’re forced to import from have few if any environmental-protection laws, and those that do exist often go unenforced. In effect, American environmentalists are preventing responsible development here at home while supporting irresponsible development overseas...    Read the whole article.

Obama’s Theorems

The people don’t believe any more.

by Victor Davis Hanson

Part of the problem with the president’s agenda is that it is predicated on a number of radical ideas that are asserted, rather than proven. His experts and the elites assure us of a reality that most people in their own more mundane lives have not found to be true. In short, they may find Obama personally engaging, but they no longer believe what he says.

Take cap-and-trade legislation. We are asked to endanger an already-weak U.S. economy with a series of incentives and punishments to discourage the use of carbon-based fuels, with which — whether shale, natural gas, coal, or petroleum — America is rather well endowed.

A number of eminent scientists, along with environmental advocates such as Mr. Gore, lecture us that global warming as a manmade phenomenon is unimpeachable. But this month Americans are shivering through one of the coldest Octobers in memory, whether in Idaho, Colorado, or Michigan. They understand that over the last decade average global temperatures did not spike; in fact, they slightly decreased.

We are advised, of course, to look at larger trends to grasp the full extent of the looming disaster. But again, that is a more abstract proposition. And it is not one that is enhanced by elite condescension. In the here and now, the weather seems cooler, and it has for a decade. Voters, unless convinced otherwise, are not about to invest trillions on a theorem.

If borrowing money is the right way to get us out of the recession, the public wants to know why we do not call it “borrowing,” rather than “stimulus.” If well over a trillion dollars in new debt was supposedly essential to restarting the economy, why not three, four, or five trillion more to make recovery a sure thing? And if Americans know from first-hand experience that charging purchases on their credit cards is optional, quick, easy, and fun, but that paying them off is necessary, slow, difficult, and unpleasant, why would they think their government’s charges would be any different?

We are in a terrible energy crisis, we are told: Petroleum supplies have spiked, and we must immediately convert to mass transit, hybrids, biofuels, and electric cars. Such concern is wise, since oil is indeed a finite product. And while this recession has unexpectedly given us a reprieve from crippling oil prices, it is only a reprieve...    Read the whole article.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Boys Who Cry Racism

Will Jimmy Carter and company expose the hollowness of the tired old charge?

by Harry Stein

More than a few on the right are alarmed by the torrent of racism accusations that an all-star cast of liberal luminaries has directed at President Obama’s critics. “When people like Jimmy Carter and Maureen Dowd start saying this kind of thing, we’ve reached a whole new level of ugliness in our political discourse,” as one friend of mine puts it. “No charge in American life is so poisonous.” He’s got a point, of course—especially about the poisonous part. Yet as those on the other side spew the R-word with ever more irresponsible abandon, some of us find new reason for hope. Here’s a chance to lance the boil once and for all.

Genuine racism is a terrible thing, and for far too long it was a virulent strain running through our national life. This is so patently obvious that it scarcely bears repeating. Yet those of us who point out how much our nation has changed for the better invariably feel obliged to repeat it, early and often, lest our very sense of optimism about race relations make us subject to the charge. So while we’re at it, let’s dispense with the other essential pro forma acknowledgment: yes, even in today’s America, traces of the vilest racism persist in some dark hearts and twisted minds.

But those liberals who’ve lately been issuing the racism charge so promiscuously (speaking of aberrant hearts and minds) are aiming it not at skinheads living in their parents’ basements or at would-be Klansmen, but at decent Americans with the temerity to object to presidential policies that they believe would damage both the quality of their lives and the nation itself: in short, at Americans acting in the best tradition of democratic citizenship. This is so preposterous that literally millions who’ve never before given the matter any thought are taking notice...   Read the whole article.

It’s Not Political, It’s Personal

How one family would fare under the current health-care bills.

By Joseph Coletti

I have spent a good part of the past few months reading and talking about health care. In the back of my mind is always the nagging question that many other Americans are asking themselves: “What about me? What will all this mean for my health care?”

I cannot answer these simple questions for my own family’s consumer-driven health plan. Complicating my job is the fact that the president has not endorsed or even summarized a specific policy or a plan. Which leaves us reading the bills or whatever is publicly available, though these items change on a daily basis.

Through all the obfuscation and dissimulation, the outlook for my family’s health insurance is not good. President Obama and Democrats in Congress still repeat the line, “If you like your insurance or your doctor, you can keep them.” But the clear effect of the House and Senate bills would be to take away my high-deductible plan and accompanying health savings account (HSA).

Start with the minimum requirements for health insurance under the House Democrats’ plan. Many of these are above and beyond my current level of coverage, meaning my insurance wouldn’t satisfy them — and I’d have to buy a more comprehensive (and expensive) policy. These requirements include medical equipment for the home, cost-free preventive services, limits on out-of-pocket expenses of $10,000 per family (my share of out-of-network services could be twice as much, so that’s a potential disqualifier), and oral-health and vision services for children under 21 (my children’s dentistry and vision care are not covered).

There’s also a minimum actuarial value of 70 percent, meaning that the insurance policy would have to cover 70 percent of my family’s expected cost of care (based on our demographics). Regulators would calculate my policy’s actuarial value without counting my Health Savings Account (HSA), which would guarantee a low actuarial value, and so mean my insurance does not cover enough.

The whole reason we chose the high-deductible policy and the HSA was to save money on premiums — with the full knowledge that the insurance policy would not cover our costs until we reached our deductible. Our preferences do not matter under the law, however, and my family would have to purchase a more expensive insurance policy deemed acceptable to the government...  Read the whole article.

Why Catholics Should Take a Position on the Hate-Crimes Bill

by Deal Hudson

Last Saturday night, President Barack Obama spoke to the nation's leading homosexual-rights lobbying group, the Human Rights Campaign, in Washington, D.C. Among the several promises Obama made were "to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act" and "to pass an inclusive hate crimes bill."

As I reported a few days ago, the USCCB has yet to make any comment on Obama's intention to put an end to DOMA and, as he puts it, ensure "that committed gay couples have the same rights and responsibilities afforded to any married couple in this country." The hate-crimes legislation passed recently in the House, attached to a defense spending bill, is explicitly designed to combat hate crimes based on sexual orientation and "gender identity."

A number of religious leaders and members of Congress have voiced concern about the threat of the hate-crimes bill to religious liberty and freedom of speech. According to the USCCB legislative report for the 111th Congress, the bishops are "monitoring" the measure and "taking no position."

The legislation raises the question of whether religious leaders could be subject to prosecution based on their preaching or teaching. For example, if a priest told a congregation that homosexual acts were sinful, and someone in that congregation acted violently against a homosexual, could that priest be charged with a hate crime?  Read the whole article.
 

The Obama Fiasco

Failure all around.

by Conrad Black

The whole Obama era to date has been wasted in a historic, amateurish botch of the health-care issue. This began as a crusade for social justice — to cover the uninsured, whose numbers were suitably exaggerated, as most of them are people changing jobs from one health-insuring employer to another, or foreigners resident in this country, legally or otherwise, or the indigent, who are eligible for Medicaid.

It wasn’t clear from this rationale, however, why Obama was also trying to take over the insurance of those already covered. He therefore pressed on to the need to take over health care to save money (by nationalizing it). The Congressional Budget Office blew that up, so the president moved crisply on to revenue-neutral health-care reform for its own sake. The corresponding promises of cost reductions proved to be shortchanging elderly Medicare recipients of hundreds of billions of dollars and chasing Washington’s oldest and most elusive will-o’-the-wisp, the last refuge of 220 years of desperate public officials, the ever-popular “waste and fraud.” And the “reforms” themselves are just aggravations of long-established mistaken practices.

The president’s reform plan has been seen by almost everyone to be bunk, and hackneyed bunk at that. His political capital is evaporating and, while it was disgraceful for a congressman to scream at him “You lie!” (which he was, about health care for illegal immigrants), this is more understandable and likely to be more habit-forming than an Iraqi journalist’s throwing shoes at his predecessor.

Instead of following the Roosevelt 1933 formula of squarely acknowledging a crisis and pledging an immediate plan of action with inspiriting calls for solidarity and national effort, he magnified the problems in order to try to create an appetite for a more radical turn to higher taxes and social benefits than the country wanted. Instead of sending precise bills to Congress and generating public support for them as Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, and Ronald Reagan did, Obama left it to the Democratic congressional leadership, which festooned every bill with pendulous payoffs to key votes and interests.

The $787 billion stimulus plan was a monstrosity of patronage and logrolling. The money that was borrowed (to stimulate, in reality, Democratic reelection prospects) has been taken from purposes that would have stimulated the economy just as efficiently. Larry Summers could not have believed his promises of instant results that would confine unemployment to 8 percent. Two-thirds of the stimulus is for dispersal closer to elections, and meanwhile unemployment is knocking at the door of 10 percent. The whole misconceived idea should be scrapped and replaced with tax cuts, but it won’t be.

The cap-and-trade bill is so loaded with rebates and exemptions that the administration’s own spokesmen acknowledge that while it would sharply raise heating and air-conditioning costs in tens of millions of American homes, it would neither raise federal-government revenues nor reduce carbon emissions. It was based on the unproved Al Gore science-fiction vision of the environment, and it won’t pass...  Read the whole article.

Could a Wave Be Building?

by George Will

WASHINGTON -- Demure Delaware was the first state to ratify the Constitution, but since then has not made many waves. It might, however, be part of a political wave a year from now, thanks to a direct descendent of Benjamin Franklin.

The great man's great-great-great-great-great grandson, Mike Castle, 70, a nine-term Delaware congressman, will be next year's Republican nominee for the Senate seat Joe Biden held for 36 years. This and other candidate-recruitment successes make it reasonable for Republicans to hope that in January 2011 the Senate will contain fewer than 60 Democrats.

Biden's seat is currently occupied by a former Biden staffer who, in service to the ancient notion that public offices should be family patrimonies, will disappear when Biden's son Beau, 40, runs. He is the state's attorney general and has just returned from serving in Iraq with his Army National Guard unit. Delaware has not elected a Republican senator since 1994, but Castle, who has never lost a race, has run statewide 12 times: Once for lieutenant governor, twice for governor and nine times for the state's only congressional seat. In the last four elections he averaged 65 percent of the vote...  Read the whole article.
 

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Baucus Bill Is a Tax Bill

Middle-class families would get hit with a double-digit increase in their marginal tax rate.

by Douglas Holtz-Eakin

Remember when health-care reform was supposed to make life better for the middle class? That dream began to unravel this past summer when Congress proposed a bill that failed to include any competition-based reforms that would actually bend the curve of health-care costs. It fell apart completely when Democrats began papering over the gaping holes their plan would rip in the federal budget.

As it now stands, the plan proposed by Democrats and the Obama administration would not only fail to reduce the cost burden on middle-class families, it would make that burden significantly worse.

Consider the bill put forward by the Senate Finance Committee. From a budgetary perspective, it is straightforward. The bill creates a new health entitlement program that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates will grow over the longer term at a rate of 8% annually, which is much faster than the growth rate of the economy or tax revenues. This is the same growth rate as the House bill that Sen. Kent Conrad (D., N.D.) deep-sixed by asking the CBO to tell the truth about its impact on health-care costs.

To avoid the fate of the House bill and achieve a veneer of fiscal sensibility, the Senate did three things: It omitted inconvenient truths, it promised that future Congresses will make tough choices to slow entitlement spending, and it dropped the hammer on the middle class.

One inconvenient truth is the fact that Congress will not allow doctors to suffer a 24% cut in their Medicare reimbursements. Senate Democrats chose to ignore this reality and rely on the promise of a cut to make their bill add up. Taking note of this fact pushes the total cost of the bill well over $1 trillion and destroys any pretense of budget balance...   Read the whole article.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

"Personally Opposed, But..." Five Pro-Abortion Dodges

by Todd M. Aglialoro

In that passage from Orthodoxy so familiar that it is almost now cliché, G. K. Chesterton wrote that there are a thousand angles at which a man may fall but only one at which he stands. By this he argued for the unique, enduring character of orthodox Church doctrine, of the one, true, upstanding strand of Right Teaching. Though the same tired heresies may reappear to contest it -- mutated, renamed, warmed-over -- the old, wild truth remains standing, "reeling but erect."

This well-worn lesson takes on a new freshness, I think, when applied to the culture war. The wild truths that inform Christian ethics -- our insistence on a moral universe, on a real human nature with its own teleology, on the transcendent significance of human acts and human relationships -- also reel but remain erect in the face of perennial challenges. We are not gods. Moral truth is something we discover, not invent. From the Garden of Eden to the Supreme Court of the United States, we have fought the same battle under different banners.

In what is probably the modern culture battle par excellence, the fight against abortion, we see displayed with perfect clarity the principle of a single upright truth (that directly killing an unborn child is an evil and a crime) being contested by a rotation of errors; taking turns or working in tandem, passing in and out of fashion, each seizing upon the vocabulary, events, and moods of the cultural moment until the next comes along to supplant it.

In some cases cultural developments render one of them obsolete. In the years shortly after Roe v. Wade, abortion debates inevitably featured three words the pro-abortion side considered a trump card: "blob of tissue." This factually empty but sound-bite-perfect catchphrase made a great impact with its implication that the fetus was roughly equivalent to a ball of snot. Which put abortion about on par with picking your nose: bad form, a messy affair that ought to be kept private, but nothing to get overly excited about.

Of course, advances in the study of human embryology, most notably the window to the womb afforded by the sonogram, all but pulled the teeth from the "blob of tissue" canard. The 1980 film The Silent Scream, an ultrasound depiction of an abortion at eleven weeks, provided a chilling, graphic look at abortion's inner workings. And today, expectant mothers keep pictures of their "blobs of tissue" on the refrigerator. They make copies and stuff them into Christmas cards.

So that particular line was no longer viable. But it wouldn't be the last. More would follow, and we who are engaged in the culture have surely heard most of them. However, even for those who have heard them all, I think it can be valuable to gather them up and define them; to identify their originators, exemplars, and champions; to understand their appeal; and to consider how to counter them. Let us now look, then, at five (a nice number, though by no means exhaustive) of history's most insidious pro-abortion arguments...  Read the whole article.

How to take down a great power

by J. R. Dunn

Unlike Augustus or Caligula, Lucius Aurelius Commodus was not an emperor who made a strong impression on modern consciousness. Until the release of the film Gladiator, a heavily fictionalized version of his reign, most Americans had never heard of him. In the film he comes across as quite a compelling figure thanks to a first-rate portrayal by Joaquin Phoenix.

But, as is true of much of the film, the character of Commodus was altered for dramatic purposes. Unlike Caligula and Nero, Commodus was not a psychopath. Though he killed plenty (12,000 by his own reckoning), he was no thrill-killer as such, but very likely what we today would call a malignant narcissist, somebody who believes himself to be the center of the universe and everyone else merely a walk-on. Combine this personality disorder with the power imbued in a national leader and you've set the fuse blazing for sure.

Commodus was not actually in conflict with his father, Marcus Aurelius, last of the four great emperors. Far from it -- Marcus Aurelius idolized his son, steadily raising him through the imperial ranks to the level of co-emperor. Blinded by paternal affection, Aurelius unleashed a monster on Rome, proving that not even a man trained to the highest levels of philosophy (Aurelius was also a leading Stoic philosopher) is immune to human error.

Commodus' failings became evident soon after he ascended to the imperial purple. Having no background in foreign policy, he effectively set it aside, allowing his father's achievements to unravel. Marcus Aurelius had spent much of his reign on the Danubean frontier, subduing menacing barbarian tribes threatening the peace of the ancient world. Commodus simply abandoned the province. If the Romans had possessed Special Forces and remote-controlled drones, things might have turned out differently...   Read the whole article.
 

Relics of St Therese of Lisieux arrive at Westminster Cathedral

Amid clouds of incense and flanked by priests carrying lanterns, the much-travelled mortal remains of an obscure French Carmelite nun were carried into Westminster Cathedral, watched by a crowd of almost 1,000 pilgrims, alternately praying and cheering.

by Elizabeth Grice

What looked like an ornate miniature church under a bullet-proof glass dome arrived in a dark grey C8 Citroen people-carrier, known in the funeral business as a “hearsette”. As religious relics go, it is huge and the eight bearers, dressed in white, swayed under its weight as they transported it down the nave to a fanfare and organ voluntary. In the precinct outside, where the service was projected onto a giant screen, the crowd joined in an exhaustive Litany to the saint.

Earlier in the day, the bones of St Therese of Lisieux, who died of tuberculosis in 1897 at the age of 24, had rested for a few hours at Wormwood Scrubs Prison, west London, for the contemplation of inmates. Now, after a month-long progress round England and Wales that has attracted 150,000 people, it is the turn of Westminster Cathedral, the Byzantine-style headquarters of Roman Catholicism in Britain, to host the portions of thigh and foot bone for public veneration... Read the whole article.

Twits, Twitter, and Tweets

by Tom Bethell

I've been thinking about the huge hi-tech changes that have taken place since I first wrote for The American Spectator. That was in, oh, 1976. Very few people at the time realized just how far reaching the transformation would be-although I suspect that George Gilder did. We still don't know how disruptive the changes will be because they haven't stopped yet. But one indicator is that major news institutions like the New York Times are in jeopardy. The digital revolution is like an express train taking us to an unknown destination.

I hate to use the much overused word revolutionary, but as applied to the new technology it is appropriate. Its impact on society may well be comparable to that of the printing press, or the Industrial Revolution.

It was in the early 1980s that everyone you knew began talking about word processors. "What program do you use?" Names like WordStar and WordPerfect filled the air. How great it was, people said. You could rearrange the order of your paragraphs. I refused to join the crowd, smugly replying that paragraphs were rightly ordered the first time. Then in 1987 I started to use a computer myself. The Hoover Institution, which I have been fortunate enough to visit over the years, had a mainframe system. It was swept away years ago and may already be in a museum. But it was a revelation to me. Overnight, rewriting became not just easier but an actual pleasure...  Read the whole article.

God vs. Science Isn't the Issue

Seldom do we act as if life has no moral component.

by William McGurn

When the poet Matthew Arnold wrote of faith's "melancholy, long, withdrawing roar," the thought was that scientific inquiry had forever undermined claims to certitude. In hindsight we see Arnold was only half right. In place of Genesis we now have scientism—the idea that science alone can speak truth about man and his world.

In contrast to the majority of scientists whose wondrous discoveries seem to inspire humility, today's advocates of scientism can be every bit as dogmatic as the William Jennings Bryans of yesteryear. We saw an example a week ago, when the New York Times reported that many scientists view "outspoken religious commitment as a sign of mild dementia."

The reporter was Gardiner Harris, and the object of his snark was Francis Collins—the new director of the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Collins is perhaps best noted for his leadership on the Human Genome Project, an effort to map the genetic makeup of man. But he is also well known for his unapologetic talk about his Christian faith and how he came to it.

Mr. Harris's aside about dementia, of course, is less a proposition open to debate than the kind of putdown you tell at a private cocktail party where you know everyone in the room shares your orthodoxies. In this room, there are those who hold that God cannot be reconciled with what science has discovered about the human body, the origin of the species, and the beginnings of the universe. The more honest ones do not flinch before the implications of their materialist principles on our understanding of human dignity and human rights and human freedom—as well as on religion...  Read the whole article.
 

Monday, October 12, 2009

The 'youngest headmaster in the world'

Around the world millions of children are not getting a proper education because their families are too poor to afford to send them to school. In India, one schoolboy is trying change that. In the first report in the BBC's Hunger to Learn series, Damian Grammaticas meets Babar Ali, whose remarkable education project is transforming the lives of hundreds of poor children.

At 16 years old, Babar Ali must be the youngest headmaster in the world. He's a teenager who is in charge of teaching hundreds of students in his family's backyard, where he runs classes for poor children from his village.

The story of this young man from Murshidabad in West Bengal is a remarkable tale of the desire to learn amid the direst poverty.

Babar Ali's day starts early. He wakes, pitches in with the household chores, then jumps on an auto-rickshaw which takes him part of the 10km (six mile) ride to the Raj Govinda school. The last couple of kilometres he has to walk.

The school is the best in this part of West Bengal. There are hundreds of students, boys and girls. The classrooms are neat, if bare. But there are desks, chairs, a blackboard, and the teachers are all dedicated and well-qualified.

As the class 12 roll-call is taken, Babar Ali is seated in the middle in the front row. He's a tall, slim, gangly teenager, studious and smart in his blue and white uniform. He takes his notes carefully. He is the model student.

Babar Ali is the first member of his family ever to get a proper education.

"It's not easy for me to come to school because I live so far away," he says, "but the teachers are good and I love learning. And my parents believe I must get the best education possible that's why I am here."

Raj Govinda school is government-run so it is free, all Babar Ali has to pay for is his uniform, his books and the rickshaw ride to get there. But still that means his family has to find around 1,800 rupees a year ($40, £25) to send him to school. In this part of West Bengal that is a lot of money. Many poor families simply can't afford to send their children to school, even when it is free.

Chumki Hajra is one who has never been to school. She is 14 years old and lives in a tiny shack with her grandmother. Their home is simple A-frame supporting a thatched roof next to the rice paddies and coconut palms at the edge of the village. Inside the hut there is just room for a bed and a few possessions.

Every morning, instead of going to school, she scrubs the dishes and cleans the homes of her neighbours. She's done this ever since she was five. For her work she earns just 200 rupees a month ($5, £3). It's not much, but it's money her family desperately needs. And it means that she has to work as a servant everyday in the village.

"My father is handicapped and can't work," Chumki tells me as she scrubs a pot. "We need the money. If I don't work, we can't survive as a family. So I have no choice but to do this job."

But Chumki is now getting an education, thanks to Babar Ali. The 16-year-old has made it his mission to help Chumki and hundreds of other poor children in his village. The minute his lessons are over at Raj Govinda school, Babar Ali doesn't stop to play, he heads off to share what he's learnt with other children from his village...  Read the whole article.

Obama's Job-Killing Agenda

by Ralph R. Reiland

"You ain't seen nothin' yet" was Ronald Reagan's standard rally-ending line during his 1984 reelection campaign. He won 49 states, losing only his opponent's home state, Minnesota, 49.7 percent to 49.5 percent.

Obama could truthfully use the same "ain't seen nothin' yet" line, except Reagan was referring to more jobs, smaller government and more individual freedom, while Obama is pushing a job-killing agenda that promises to expand an already bloated government while simultaneously shrinking individual freedom.

In its latest official tally of jobs being lost per month, more than seven months after Obama's $787 billion non-stimulating stimulus bill was rushed through Congress, the Labor Department reported that 263,000 more jobs were lost in September, increasing the unemployment rate to 9.8 percent and bringing the total number of unemployed to 15.1 million.

That doesn't count the so-called "discouraged" workers who've quit looking for work and are no longer considered part of the labor force. By the Labor Department's count, the U.S. workforce is currently 615,000 workers smaller than it was a year ago, even though the working age population is expanding.

Also uncounted in the 9.8 percent unemployment rate are part-timers seeking full-time work. Add these underemployed part-timers and the "discouraged" to the official jobless rate and the real unemployment rate in September was 17 percent.

In January, urging quick passage of the stimulus bill, President Obama called the legislation "the most sweeping economic recovery act in history" and said it would "save or create 2.5 million jobs" -- and quickly, via "shovel-ready" projects.

Instead, most of the shovels are still hanging in the garage and the economy has lost 2.7 million jobs since the "most sweeping" stimulus bill was signed into law in February...  Read the whole article.

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Fr. Phillips is the founding pastor of Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church, the first Anglican Use parish, established on August 15, 1983. Not that there is any confusion, but he is on the left, shown in his younger, less gray-headed days.