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Hertzberg on \"The Normal Heart\"


Over at the New Yorker, Rick Hertzberg writes about the play "The Noraml Heart" and in that column he writes these words: "Post-Stonewall but pre-AIDS, 'gay liberation' was largely about sexual freedom and plenty of it. Its black-power-inspired, yippie-inflected style of identity politics stressed difference from and sometimes contempt for the white-male-white-bread patriarchal nuclear family. (At the same time, the tiny suit-and-tie homosexual-rights legacy organizations took care not to be too pushy.) AIDS, a truly existential crisis, imposed a totally different perspective. In a seeming paradox, given that AIDS was seen as a 'gay disease,' the crisis made the movement more sympathetic in its focus and appeal (suffering and death are universal), more militant (there was no time to lose), and more practical (its agenda was highly specific and not at all theoretical or utopian). AIDS opened the closet door and brought families and friends, not just individuals, into the movement."

Patriotic Millionaires


Yesterday, Michel Martin, host of the NPR show “Tell Me More” had a great segment featuring Dennis Mehiel, former chairman of the board at U.S. Corrugated and a member of the group “Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength.” Mehiel was joined by a small business owner here in DC, Andy Shallal, whose popular “Busboys and Poets” bookstore/cafes are a quintessential form of small business. Both men helped debunk some of the ideological nonsense that has, so far, succeeded to skewing the entire debate about our nation’s economic future.

The Patriotic Millionaires were begun in November 2010. Their open letter to the President, Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Reid states: “Our country has been good to us. It provided a foundation through which we could succeed. Now, we want to do our part to keep that foundation strong so that others can succeed as we have. Please do the right thing for our country. Raise our taxes.”

Gehring on Weigel


John Gehring, writing at the blog of Faith in Public Life, provides a fine takedown of George Weigel's lastest diatribe in Crisis magazine. Gehring always makes good points, even when the target is an easy one like Weigel which is harder than it might seem to the casual reader. Weigel's latest work has been so bad that you actually have to stop laughing while reading. This greatly increases the difficulty of formulating a response.
I can see why someone would pay the author of "Tranquillitas Ordinis" for a column, or a speech, or endow a chair for him at a think tank. But, the George Weigel who penned that thoughtful, careful book is no more. He has become a mere shill for his Republican paymasters.

Sad or Not? Beautiful Music


In wrestling with the death of my friend and colleague, Joe Feuerherd, my mind recalled a beautiful piece of music by Mahler: Ich bin der Welt.
Here is a link to a recording of Dame Janet Baker singing it. The lyrics are posted on the same page.
Some people think this is the most sad piece of music ever. I profoundly disagree. Certainly, it is not chipper. It is about detachment from the world and its cares, which is something difficult for our twittered, black-berryed, "American Idol" culture to grasp but which is something worth considering as one walks along a spiritual path.
Sad or not, I think it is the most beautiful piece of music I know.

Pawlenty's Tax Mythology


Tim Pawlenty released his tax plan yesterday.
To be clear: There is no evidence that the health of the economy is directly tied to marginal tax rates. There is evidence that a significant drop in marginal rates serves as a one-time spur to economic investment. But, that's it. In most industrialized countries, the government takes a significantly larger share of GDP than does the U.S. government, with no markedly different levels of economic health. Of course, in today's xenophobic GOP, "European" is a cuss word, so it is hard to make this point.
So, let's return to the GOP's hero extraordinaire, Ronald Reagan. The top marginal income tax rate on the day he left office was 50%. I would be completely satisfied to go back to that rate. Any takers among the Reagan-worshippers?

Three Cheers for Romney


Piers Morgan is a sorry interviewer in every regard but he was especially dense last night when he began questioning GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney about his faith and its relationship to his governance. He kept asking Romney if he thought being gay was a sin and Romney kept replying that he was running for political office, not religious office, and he would leave the category of “sin” to the religious experts.

Morgan continued to press and Romney availed himself of a line from John F. Kennedy’s speech to the Houston Ministerial Association in 1960: I do not speak for my church, and my church does not speak for me. Morgan tried again to see if “personally” Romney though being gay was a sin, and Romney refused to budge. He would not answer.

USCCB Opposes Cuts in Agriculture Programs


Once again, the USCCB is doing the Church proud, this time opposing cuts in the Agriculture Department's budget that will adversely affect programs that help the poor. The letter, dated May 31, 2011 and signed on behalf of the USCCB by Bishops Stephen Blaire and Howard Hubbard, states: "We express our deep concerns that the current proposal calls for significant cuts to both domestic and international food aid, conservation and rural development programs. These proposed cuts will greatly affect programs that serve hungry, poor and vulnerable people in our nation and around the world."

Philly Sweepstakes


A source in Philadelphia tells me that the chancery is all abuzz that tomorrow will see the naming of a new archbishop to replace embattled Cardinal Justin Rigali. Rigali was himself named to the post on June 8, and three of his four auxiliaries had their appointments announced on June 8, so there is something of a tradition. But, if the buzz is right about the timing, there is little consensus about the choice. Here are the leading candidates with my handicapping:

Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput has a strong track record on child protection, which seems to be the most important qualification for the post given the fallout from the Grand Jury report in February and the just-beginning trial of two priests on charges of child molestation. This morning, those priests declined a plea deal. Chaput is a lightning rod on Church-State issues, but he has some media savvy to be sure. His appointment would be seen as a victory for the conservative wing in the American Church but even his critics, like myself, must admit that he is one of the brightest bishops on the bench today.


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