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Rep. Ryan's Budget


Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin is introducing his budget for next year today. Compared to the fight over the continuing resolution that is going on still, Ryan’s proposals would change the direction of government in significant ways and they are the most serious proposal to address the nation’s long-term debt problem we have seen from any politician of either party.

It is easy to oppose the draconian cuts the GOP is seeking in the continuing resolution. They are trying to wring billions of dollars in savings out of the small sliver of the budget that covers domestic discretionary spending. It is like trying to cut your grocery budget, making all the cuts in the produce section: You will get scurvy. Rather than tackle defense spending and the tax code and entitlement reform, the Tea Partyers insisting on more cuts in the continuing resolution are proving themselves to be unserious.

NH Legislator Calls Bishop a \"Pimp\"


Mark Silk, at Spiritual Politics, has the story of GOP House Majority Leader B.J. Bettencourt calling N.H. Bishop McCormack a "pedophile pimp," which is not exactly how I would put it, Bishop McCormack's involvement in the sex abuse cover-up in Boston notwithstanding. Now, Bettencourt has apologized, sort of, but still fails to draw the kind of distinctions that we more liberal Catholics get chastized for all the time.
In the event, Bishop McCormack is 75 now and will be retiring very soon. Mr. Bettencourt, who is only 27, should be encouraged to think about early retirement.

Laetare Award Brings Good News


The University of Notre Dame has announced that this year's Laetare Medal, arguably the most prestigious award in the U.S., will be given jointly to Sister of Mercy Mary Scullion and Joan Dawson McConnon for their ground-breaking work as the founders of Project H.O.M.E. ministries in Philadelphia. H.O.M.E. stands for "Housing. Opportunities for Employment. Medical Care. Education." In short, this ministry stands for Matthew 25.
At a time when many are casting unfounded aspersions on the work of religious women, and when the church in Philadelphia has been wracked with controversy because of the misdeeds of its hierarchs, how wonderful it is to see Notre Dame hold up the great work of Sr. Mary and Ms. McConnon.

Stupak gives a lesson for the church


Over at The Atlantic, they have an interview with former Congressman Bart Stupak, the pro-life Democrat who was at the heart of the negotiations over the final language on abortion in last year’s health care reform bill. It shows why it is mistaken for some Catholics, and some bishops, to say that abortion is the most important issue in politics: The people they are addressing, the legislators on both sides of the aisle, certainly do not see abortion as the most or the only important issue.

The Donald's Conspiratorial Mind


I had seen reports that Donald Trump was dabbling in Birtherism, but I had missed the fact that he recently linked that particular conspiratorial zaniness with Islamophobia, another psycho-political affliction of today's right wing nuts. But, according the the Center for American Progress, Trump recently suggested that the reason Obama does not want his birth certificate to be seen is that it might indicate his religion as Muslim.
As they say, when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.

Church & State: A Briefing Paper from Pew


The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life has posted an update of its basic "white paper" on church-state issues in the courts, noting the Supreme Court's decision to grant cert in Hosanna Tabor Church v. EEOC, about which I blogged earlier this week.
The Pew paper offers a concise overview of the legal and constitutional issues involved and is a good starting point for anyone trying to get their heads around these very complicated issues.

Zulsdorf Nails It (Unintentionally)


Father John Zuhlsdorf has a little post entitled "A study in contrasts, or why we need Summorum Pontificum and the Corrected Translation." Blissfully, and uncharacteristically, Zuhlsdorf provides little commentary in the post, he just puts up two photographs, one showing a woman carrying a bowl of incense at the recent Los Angeles Catholic Education Conference and the other an old painting of a traditional Latin Mass. The contrast is, indeed, jarring, but not for the reason Zuhlsdorf thinks. The woman with the incense is participating at a Mass where thousands of people joined in; the celebration was, by all accounts, very faith-filled for all. Newly installed Archbishop Gomez said "I have been amazed" by the gathering. In contrast, the print of the old Mass shows a few lonely souls gathered around the altar.

Making the Moral Case for Unions


Michael Kazin, at The New Republic, writes about how a small union organizing effort at Georgetown University is succeeding in large part because it has made an explicitly moral case for its efforts. This moral argument has attracted many allies who might otherwise be uninterested were the union's case built solely around an argument for advancing the interests of its members. There is a lesson here for the broader progressive community: They need a moral argument, a narrative, if they want to win in the court of public opinion and, in the event, they have a good moral argument to make.

Unions (and Wisconsin Voters) Push Back


Wisconsin voters have collected more than enough signatures to mount a recall effort against one of several GOP state senators being targetted for a recll election because they supported the effort of Gov. Scott Walker to attack collective bargaining rights.
Reaction, in both senses of the word, produces a counter-reaction.
The GOP over-reach in Wisconsin is proving to be just that, an over-reach. Elected because of a dreary economic climate, the GOP mis-interpreted its mandate to mount a full-scale attack on fundamental rights. Americans don't like that. And, in a democracy, the people have the power to make the GOP pay for its over-reach. On Wisconsin!


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