NCR Today

Big Issue in 2012: The Crusades


Rick Santorum, the conservative Catholic former Pennsylvania senator seeking to distinguish himself from the rest of the Republican presidential field, defends the Crusades. The Crusades get a bad rap, said Santorum, because of the “American left who hates Christendom.” (Hat tip, Andrew Sullivan’s Dish.)

James Tobin of Commentary didn’t like what he read.

Santorum is nothing if not provocative. In 2005, while on a book tour, he told me that the political left doesn’t believe in the “common good.”

Instead, “they believe there is no absolute truth, whatever suits your needs is good. So the idea of the common good to the real left is anathema.”

If you can read this, thank a teacher -- and keep your hands off their benefits


There are few things in my life about which I am honestly proud.

It isn’t that I’ve lived a terrible life full of mayhem and horror, although I’ve had my share of selfishness and sin. It is simply that I’m pretty ordinary. I’ve not saved lives or jumped buildings in a single bound or given up my very comfortable bed to go live among the poor. I am not, as I’ve pointed out elsewhere, a saint.

George Weigel weighs in on the Phoenix hospital


George Weigel has weighed in on the controversy in Phoenix over at First Things.

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted withdrew the Catholic designation in December from St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center there because of a dispute over whether a 2009 procedure performed at the hospital was a direct abortion.

Weigel's analysis? By performing the procedure, the hospital violated the "do no harm" rule.

Vatican advisor on Islam hails 'springtime' in Arab world


Probably wisely, the Vatican has not officially had much to say about the popular uprisings sweeping across the Arab world. If those movements were perceived as being engineered or supported in the West -- perhaps especially by the leadership of the Catholic church -- it would doubtless be counter-productive.

That doesn’t mean, of course, that the Vatican and its advisors on Islam aren’t paying close attention.

Morning Brief


When late night goes beyond wacky


During sleepless interludes I sometimes tune in to those denizens of the late night airwaves who still manage to carve out a niche for themselves. As befits their location outside the mainstream, they're generally an odd lot, hepped up on obsessions with the end of the world, lost or nearly lost causes and pleas to save our souls.

You never know when something from the eccentric fringe might be the missing piece to a puzzle or raise a valid mystery. Those people who allegedly record the voices of dead people have an ounce or two of credibility. Every astrologer has to be right sometimes. And promoters of secret messages in the Bible are at least intriguing.

I can't take too much at a time but like it in small doses because it reminds me that those who occupy that wild and woolly territory use assumptions that are no less lamebrained than those used by dominant politicians in Washington. But the radio guys are more colorful and candid. To their followers, they are the voices of truth in a world gone mad, the misfits who will be vindicated in the end.

Donald Rumsfeld had 'Issues w/Various countries'


Alexis Madrigal over at the Atlantic has uncovered a fascinating -- and, frankly, scary -- peek at what U.S. foreign policy really looked like when Donald Rumsfeld had power.

His find? A message the former Secretary of Defense sent in 2003 to then Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith.

Look at the memo below -- which Madrigal says comes right from Rumsfeld's Web site. It defies explanation.

Half a dozen ways to defund health reform


Conventional wisdom has it that the promise of the Republican-controlled House to cripple last year's historic Healthcare Reform Law by not providing funding to key parts of it won't go far. The Democratic Senate says it won't play along and the president said he would veto any such bill.

Still, the Republicans in the house have present a half a dozen measures to defund the healthcare law. And National Public Radio health correspondent Julie Rovner says there is still plenty of reasons to pay attention to those proposals:


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In This Issue

March 24-April 6, 2017