Watching the executives of Goldman Sachs testify before Congress yesterday brought back a distant memory. They looked exactly like the tobacco company executives did when they were hauled before Congress years ago. They, too, seemed utterly ignorant of their own wrong-doing. They too were evasive and slightly condescending in their answers. They, too, had been caught doing very bad, possibly criminal, things, knew they had been caught, and they knew the elected representatives of the people knew they had done the catching, but none of that provoked even the slightest hint of remorse. Alas, no wonder greed is rightly deemed one of the seven deadly sins. These men were dead to the moral impulses of their nature.
When I read about that oil rig disaster off the Louisiana coast, my heart sinks. I mourn the loss of the eleven workers who were not found and are presumed dead. I also mourn the devastation to the environment caused by the resulting spill. That spill now threatens a delicate wildlife habitat along the coastline and other areas.
At least seven people walked past an injured man in New York City, who lay on the sidewalk for over an hour before emergency workers arrived. By then, he was dead.
What's worse: the 31-year-old Guatemalan immigrant had been stabbed when he tried to help a woman who was being attacked, reports the Associated Press.
I can understand why cynical urbanites might not want to get involved; I'm a cynical urbanite myself. But at least I call 911 when I encounter an unresponsive homeless person on the sidewalk. (It happens more often than you would think.)
Jesus' parable of the Good Samaritan has wider implications, but its literal truth is pretty clear, too: Help an injured person you encounter on the street. Hugo Alfredo Tale-Yax, the dead Guatemalan man, followed the gospel directive. Sadly, no one did the same for him.
The Republican Party has been worried that they will be tagged as “the Party of No” but I think they actually face a different worry, that they will be tagged as “the Party of Yes.” In their obstructionism to anything and everything that President Obama supports, they have put themselves into the unenviable situation of saying, repeatedly, “yes” to the status quo.
They defended the status quo on health care. They are currently defending the status quo on financial oversight. They will soon be defending the status quo on environmental policy. Even though millions of Americans lacked access to health care and its rising costs threaten to bankrupt the country. Even though better oversight might have prevented the economic meltdown from which the nation is just becoming to emerge. Even though the polar ice caps are melting.
Jan Brewer, Arizona's governor, has signed a law that will allow cops to pull over, question, and detain anyone they have a “reasonable suspicion” to believe is in this country without proper documents. This is racial profiling--a threat to all of our civil rights. Latinos will be targeted as never before. The legislation potentially threatens church ministries, theoretically forcing those in ministry to ask for proof of residency before offering to take a group of people to church, to cite but one example. Groups around the country are calling for a national boycott of Arizona businesses, urging actions such as canceling conferences scheduled to be held in the state. To sign on to the boycott, check out the Latino advocacy group, Presente.org.
In what could be a major victory for anti-nuclear weapons activists, the Environmental Protection Agency said April 26 that it might put a Kansas City nuclear weapons plan on a priority list for cleanup.
Local Catholic Worker activists and others have been demanding the site be cleaned up before a proposed replacement site in Kansas City is built.
Two decades ago, the EPA left the Kansas City site (called the Bannister Plant) off the special Superfund list, but now it says it will reassess that decision.
In New Mexico a few years ago I attended a conference on Native American spirituality held at the Santa Fe Indian School. Native peoples from all around the Southwest came for this yearly weekend gathering. After everyone had registered, inked in their name tags and found their seats, Joe Savilla, the convener of the conference, walked to the podium, surveyed the assembly with a grave face, then said, "Before we begin ... does anyone have any good jokes to share?" Maybe four or five attendees shared, starting the conference off on just the right note. Then Joe followed with a prayer. I still remember some of the jokes. Here's one:
A New Mexico farmer was visiting his Texas cousin's ranch one day. The Texan, anxious to impress his relative, took him out on the front porch, spread his arms wide and said, "Why, I get in my truck in the morning and it takes me all day to get to the other side of this place!" The New Mexican shrugged and answered, "Yup, I had a truck like that once."
Did you know the words human, humor and humility all have the same Indo-European root -- ghom, best translated by the English word humus.
Arizona's stringent new anti-immigration law has finally stirred calls to fix a broken system and give hard-striving undocumented workers their due. If the controversy turns into action, a measure of thanks goes to Los Angeles' Cardinal Roger Mahony, who spoke out quickly and forcefully against Arizona's actions.
That's not surprising -- Mahony knows the same thing my father noticed when he first visited me here in Southern California.
My parents were the children of immigrants themselves, Italians who settled in the New York City and rarely ventured outside of their neighborhoods, let alone the city borders. They came to visit me when I moved out to Los Angeles a little more than twenty years ago -- and my Dad observed everything very closely. Chinatown, the beaches, Dodger Stadium, Beverly Hills. He noticed everyone we came into contact with and as I watched him, I wondered what he was thinking.
When the people offer "raucous applause," one can't help but sense the release of a long-awaited moment for a post-Bishop Joseph Martino to begin. At the bishop's installation Mass yesterday, it was reported: "[Bishop Bambera] served in dozens of capacities throughout the 11-county diocese since entering the priesthood in 1983, and he seemed to be a popular choice among his fellow priests since many of the normally reserved ministers not only applauded his installation, but even hooted and cheered him on as he took his seat at the head of the cathedral. The raucous ovations were not lost on Bambera before he addressed the standing-room-only crowd."