Distinctly Catholic

Huntsman's Mormon Faith


Dan Gilgoff at CNN has an article up about the religiosity of newly minted presidential aspirant and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman. Like Mitt Romney, Huntsman is a Mormon, but the two seem to approach their religion quite differently.
There is a lot to learn about Huntsman, and examining a candidate's religion has become par for the course, which is not entirely unwelcome. Before we entrust the vast powers of the presidency to any man or woman, we should know a lot about what does and does not motivate them, whence they derive their values, what influences have shaped their worldview. It is imperative, however, that Americans embrace the spirit of the Constitution's ban on religious tests for office. As voters, we tend to embrace a whole range of concerns and considerations when assessing a candidate, but it is bigotry to consider a person's religion against them. A candidate should be able to explain how his or her religion does or does not inform their views, but we are not electing a Theologian-in-Chief.

Obama's Speech


Generally speaking, when a President finds a speech being criticized alike by the more extreme partisans of both left and right, he probably got it just about right.
Last night, President Obama outlined his policy regarding the war in Afghanistan. The increase in troops he ordered in January 2009, the "surge," always came with a timetable. Obama never gave Gen. Petraeus an open-ended engagement nor, to be clear, did Petraeus ever ask for one. Naturally, any commander would rather have more resources than fewer, but Obama's decision to draw down 10,000 troops this year and an additional 23,000 next year reportedly fell within the parameters Petraeus outlined.

Mystic Chords of Memory


If you happened to wander into St. Joseph’s Church in Willimantic, Connecticut yesterday and heard the organ music, you would have been tempted to shout up to the organist, “Could you try that last number…without the mittens.” In an effort to touch the mystic chords of memory, I returned to the instrument where I largely learned to play as a teenager and where I performed my one and only recital. Alas, it has been a few years since I touched the keyboard, so there were many and frequent wrong notes. But, I did, in fact, touch those mystic chords and they were not only musical in nature.

No, Rep. Labrador Is Not the \"Key\"


I had archived this article at Politico, which speculated that Idaho freshman Congressman Paul Labrador could be the "key" to GOP efforts on immigration.
Unfortunately, every once in awhile, the headline writers at Politico get a bit carried away. (Remember the one about Abp Dolan boosting Cong. Paul Ryan's budget plan, a boost that did not actually occur.)
In this instance, the article notes that Labrador is a Latino and a former immigration attorney, as well as a Tea Party darling. But, the article also notes that he does not support a pathway to citizenship for those fellow Americans - yes, I believe most of the so-called "illegals" are now fellow Americans - who lack proper paperwork to achieve a legal status here. Non-starter.

Don't Count Gingrich Out


Yes, Newt Gingrich's campaign has had a very shaky start and, according to Politico, it just got shakier. But, staff do not make a campaign, a campaign makes the staff. There are plenty of bright young operatives who will be thrilled to work on a presidential campaign. There are plenty of young Republicans who would be very willing to work with Gingrich even if they knew he could not win for one very simple reason: Gingrich has more ideas in a day than the rest of the field has in a month. He would be a fun person to work with. And, no matter who is the next Republican in the White House, and whether that person arrives in 2013 or 2017 or 2021, Gingrich will play a big role in any future GOP administration simply because of his intellectual firepower.

In Defense of Liberal Internationalism


In the last two days, I have been highly critical of certain foreign policy positions articulated by the neo-isolationists of both left and right, as well as that of the neo-conservative hawks. What, then, should be America’s role in the world? In a word, actually two words, America’s foreign policy should be pursuit of liberal internationalism, an engagement with the world with a view towards promoting liberal values such as personal freedom and human rights, as well as the promotion of democratic governments and open societies. Our policy today should be based on the same values that inspired the greatest foreign policy minds in American history, those brilliant men who gathered around Harry S. Truman in the wake of World War II and devised the Marshall Plan, NATO, and the policy of containment of expansionist Communism.

One of God's Gifts


I am up here in Connecticut for a fortnight while the bathroom at my home in DC is gutted and rebuilt. Summertime in New England is one of God's special gifts to humankind. I am biased, of course, having grown up here. But, last night, I took my Dad for dinner at Skipper's Dock, a restaurant which, as the name suggests, sits astride a dock in Stonington harbor. In the distance, you can see Fisher's Island and countless sailboats plying the waters of Long Island Sound. A fishing trawler came into the harbor while we had the fresh whole belly clams. A sailboat headed out as we downed the lobster. The sun set across the harbor. A cool breeze blew. Life does not get much better.

Note to Readers


The mouse on my computer seems to have a cold and I am having great difficulty navigating with it. The extrenal mouse I purchased yesterday seems to make the situation worse. Being a computer Luddite, I am clueless as to how to fix the problem. Additionally, I am on vacation and do not have my usual, reliable computer doctor nearby so I will be searching for a new computer doctor who might be able to fix it. Hopefully, all will be well soon.

Conservatives Take On Rand


Like the manna that came from heaven in answer to the prayers of the Jews, conservatives are stepping up to the plate to take on Ayn Rand and point out that this fight has been going on for some time. Mark Silk, at Spiritual Politics, has a post with some very helpful links to National Review which is carrying on its own best traditions in taking up this fight for the soul of the conservative movement. It is not often you find me praising the writings of the good folk at National Review, but I am with them on this one.


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In This Issue

January 13-26, 2017