Many of the nation's bishops have been at pains to insist that their concern about religious liberty is not a partisan concern. I know many who doubt the bishops' statements in this regard, but I do not and I am quite willingly to blame the Obama administration for the current fight and for the partisan implications of the consequences.
On Friday, I began a review of “From Enemy to Brother: The Revolution in Catholic Teaching on the Jews, 1933-1965,” by John Connelly. There, we looked at the problem: Centuries of anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism that had left the Catholic Church incapable of finding ways to even talk with or about Jews that did not feed into the kind of attitudes that had perpetrated centuries of persecution. Several factors came together to affect a change in Catholic doctrine towards the Jews, and Connelly’s book tells that tale.
After fretting about the effects ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" would have on the U.S. military and the chaplaincies over which he has authority, Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese of the Military finally fessed up and said the change in policy was not having much of an effect. "There have been no overt difficulties," he told a newspaper reporter. "It's more a question of what might occur in the future." Hmmm. What might occur in the future? The Mayans could be proven right and the world could end. Obama could lose and Romney could revisit the issue and re-implement Don't Ask, Don't Tell, although I doubt he would and I doubt the leadership of the military would want him to do so. Who knows about the future, but one thing is clear about the past: Dire, chicken-little like warnings about the dire consequences of treating gay men and women like other people almost never look smart or realistic in the rear view mirror. (h/t Rocco.)
Another month, another anemic jobs report with only 80,000 jobs added last month and the unemployment rate staying at 8.2 percent.
Of course, the Democrats are blaming the Republicans and the Republicans are blaming the Democrats. The policies of neither party are doing much, or will do much, to spur job growth. The 2008 recession was not like other recessions, it did not merely represent a slow or even contracting economy, it was perilously close to a free-fall, and it scared the living bejeezus out of most investors and entrepreneurs. They will hire when the must, and not a moment sooner. And, with government jobs contracting due to budget cuts, this anemia is not going away anytime soon.
It is difficult to know how the story about Bain Capital's investments in Stericycle will turn out. Stericycle is a company that deals with medical waste which, in an Orwellian twist, is understood to include the remains of children who have been aborted. Bain invested $75 million in the company in 1999 but when the issue was raised earlier this year, the company stated that Mr. Romney had left to rescue the Olympics by the time the investment was made. New documents unearthed by Mother Jones indicate that Mr. Romney's involvement with Bain continued for some time. This is important not only because of the issue of Stericycle, but because calculations of outsourced jobs at companies Bain purchased are affected too.
Yet, at the website LifeNews, which monitors all issues related to the pro-life cause, they are playing the denial game on behalf of Gov. Romney. They do not rebut the charge so much as ignore it.
I knew the second I saw the title of John Connelly’s book – “From Enemy to Brother: The Revolution in Catholic Teaching on the Jews, 1933-1965” – that this was a book I must read. But, why? I was told, and told by someone whose opinion I respect, that this was an important book. But, the issue of Catholic-Jewish relations has always had a special interest for me. In part, this is because I have been blest with the friendship of many Jews who have profoundly impacted my life, from my Latin teacher in high school, to the person who first invited me to publish an essay, to my boss at the restaurant where I worked for many years. I am also half Polish and am acutely aware of the historic and residual anti-Semitism of the Polish culture, so there is a special obligation to study its roots with a view towards eliminating the cancer. Finally, I suppose, I am alarmed by the rise of anti-Semitism on the Left in American politics, sometimes appearing in anti-Israeli drag, sometimes not, but all too willing to traffic in historically anti-Semitic tropes of the kind that should revolt thinking and learned people.
Not far from my home in Connecticut is the birthplace of Nathan Hale, the revolutionary war hero who, before he was hanged by the British, reportedly said as his last words: "I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country."
Tammy Duckworth did not give her life for her country, but she gave both legs and the use of one of her arms when the helicopter she was on crashed in Iraq. But, such a sacrifice can't keep Rep. Joe Walsh, who never served a day in his life, from complaining that Duckworth should not be talking about her war record. Repeatedly. Politico has the story.
After several days of insisting that the individual mandate is not a tax, presumably because as Gov. of Massachusetts, Romney insisted his mandate was not a tax, now he has flipped again and said, essentially, if the Supreme Court calls it a tax, it's a tax. Many in the GOP like this way of discussing the Affordable Care Act because they want to convince the average person that they will get taxed to pay for the ACA. Of course, this is only true if you decline to get health insurance, but why let a little thing like the truth get in the way.
The whole episode shows Romney's ability to flip, flip back, and flip again. Maybe he was inspired watching the gymnastics trials last weekend and is jealous of his wife, whose horse is going to the London Games even if she is not riding it. Mr. Romney could surely qualify for either the diving competition or gymnastics, both of which twists and turns and flips and flip-flops and, occasionally, just regular flops.
The “Fortnight for Freedom” has come to a close. It never seemed like a first class public relations’ effort. The word “fortnight” is a fine word, but an unfamiliar one, ill-suited for a bumper sticker. There seemed to be little coordination among different dioceses. Many did nothing to mark the two weeks. Some mounted half-hearted efforts. Trying to get anything done in the last two weeks of June, when school gets out and people start their summer breaks, is always ill-advised.
Like most warm-blooded Americans, I shall be celebrating our nation's independence by going to a cookout. I hope you do too. Happy 4th to one and all.