Daily Archives: April 1, 2009

Judd Gregg: Obama's Debt-ridden Budget

The president’s budget makes clear that a huge expansion of government is not just about today’s economic downturn. Once the recession is behind us, this budget will continue pushing for more and more government in our everyday lives.

Instead of tightening Uncle Sam’s belt the way so many American families are cutting back these days, the president’s proposal spends so aggressively that it essentially adds $1 trillion to the debt, on average, every year.

Except for some accounting gimmicks, the budget makes no attempt to cut wasteful spending or find savings. It ignores reform for major entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security, which are on track to cost us $67 trillion more than we have over the next 75 years.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Budget, Economy, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

ELCA Council Reduces Churchwide Staff, Budgets for 2009

(ELCA News) Responding to an overall decline in mission support funds, the Church Council of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) reduced the churchwide organization’s current fund spending authorization for 2009 by $5.6 million to $76.8 million. Its action, taken without comment, resulted in elimination of a number of churchwide staff positions and vacant positions, and affected churchwide ministries.

The council also reduced the 2009 World Hunger Appeal spending authorization by $1.9 million to $18.7 million.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Economy, Lutheran, Other Churches, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Michael Gerson–Why Obama Is Losing a Faith

…the controversy surrounding the Notre Dame invitation highlights growing strains in an important political relationship. In the last election, while evangelical Christians generally remained loyal to the Republican nominee, Catholics decisively shifted their votes toward Obama. In 2004, George W. Bush won the Catholic vote by five percentage points. Obama carried it by nine points in 2008. A number of Catholic thinkers set out a “pro-life, pro-Obama” position — disagreeing with Obama’s pro-choice views but trusting in his moderate instincts and conciliatory temperament.

So far, Obama has done little to justify this faith. His initial actions on life issues — funding overseas abortion providers, removing restrictions from federally funded medical experimentation on human embryos, revisiting conscience protections for pro-life health-care professionals — have ranged from conventional to radical. And this may be one reason Obama’s support among Catholics has eroded. According to the Pew Research Center, the percentage of Americans who disapprove of Obama’s job performance increased by nine points from February to March. Among Catholics as a whole, his disapproval rating jumped 14 points. And among white, non-Hispanic Catholics, the figure doubled — from 20 percent to 41 percent.

Catholics are having second thoughts, but it could get much worse. If the president and Congress are not careful on several issues, these concerns could open a major rift between the Catholic Church and the Democratic Party.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Office of the President, Other Churches, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Episcopal Priest won’t recant her faith in Islam

The Rev. Ann Holmes Redding, the Episcopal priest who has been told by Rhode Island Bishop Geralyn Wolf that she had until the end of March to recant her faith in Islam or face expulsion from the Episcopal priesthood, said Tuesday she still has no intention of doing so and realizes that by dawn Wednesday she may no longer be a priest.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, Theology

Down Under Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches unite in repentance

REPRESENTATIVES of Beaudesert’s Anglican and Catholic parishes arrived together for the joint Act of Repentance at St John’s Cathedral in Brisbane capturing the spirit behind one of the key sesquicentenary celebrations of 2009.

Catholic parish priest Fr Bernie Gallagher and Rev David Lunniss, of the Anglican parish, made the trip with 24 of their parishioners by bus, sitting together in the cathedral later for the event.

Nearly 500 people attended the Act of Repentance on March 27 at St John’s Cathedral. A combined choir from St John’s and St Stephen’s Cathedral took part.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Australia / NZ, Ecumenical Relations, Other Churches, Roman Catholic

The Presiding Bishop's Easter message for 2009

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Easter, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop

A Tom Toles Cartoon: The Financial Black Hole

Check it out.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, The 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout Plan, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

Ilya Somin: Continuity We Shouldn't Believe In – Moral Hazard and the Geithner Bailout Plan

Ironically, the moral hazard created by the Geithner plan is similar to the incentivizing of risky mortgage investments by the government’s backing of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which played a major role in causing the financial crisis in the first place, as economists Peter Wallison and Charles Calomiris describe in this paper. Wallison deserves some credit for warning about this danger back in 2005.

Both parties deserve blame for the policy of federal backing for dubious mortgages and investments. Certainly, President Bush didn’t help matters when he, in his own words, “use[d] the mighty muscle of the federal government” to promote the issuing of risky mortgages.

Barack Obama, however, promised to break with the failed policies of the past, and often criticizes those who he claims advocate “the same failed ideas that got us into this mess in the first place.” Ironically, he has now embraced some of the worst of those ideas himself.

Read it all and follow the links as well.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Credit Markets, Economy, The 2009 Obama Administration Bank Bailout Plan, The Banking System/Sector, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner

From the Local Paper: Ammo flying off store shelves

Gun stores around Charleston are finding it difficult to keep ammunition in stock amid fears that the Obama administration will impose a new wave of bans and crackdowns on weapons and bullets.

The concerns have been around since November, but retailers report a recent spike in demand, especially for shells.

Some enthusiasts are driving hours, even from out of state, to load up on their personal supply once they hear stocks are available, retailers said.

“My shelves have never been so scarce of bullets,” Arlyn Pendergast, owner of the ATP Gun Shop in Summerville, said Tuesday. “I’ve had people come up from Florida and buy 15,000 to 20,000 rounds.”

This is happening all over the country. Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * South Carolina, America/U.S.A.

8 classic gags for April Fool's Day

4. After everyone’s asleep, set all the clocks ahead one hour. Then wake everyone up (at the usual time) screaming about how they overslept, missed the bus, are going to be late for school or work, etc. As they’re all scurrying about, frantic and worried, just lie back and laugh. You stinker.

Read the whole thing.

Posted in * General Interest

U.S. Plan Sees Easing of G.M. to Bankruptcy

The government may seek to ease General Motors into what it calls a “controlled” bankruptcy, somewhere between a prepackaged bankruptcy and court chaos, by persuading at least some creditors to agree to a plan that would cleave the company into two pieces, according to people briefed on the matter.

Instead of signing on every creditor as is typically required in prepackaged deals, administration officials are using as leverage the promise of taxpayer financing. Many regard the government as the only lender willing to step up with money ”” in bankruptcy or out.

“They’re going to have tremendous power,” said Lynn M. LoPucki, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles. “They can call off the money and the whole thing fails.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Law & Legal Issues, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The Possibility of a Bailout for the U.S. Auto Industry, The U.S. Government

Obama and Brown Urge United Action on Economy

Searching for a broad international consensus in advance of a meeting of the Group of 20 countries to debate the global economic crisis, President Obama played down reports of discord Wednesday, saying that reports of international divisions had been “vastly overstated.”

But, he said at a joint news conference in London with Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the nature of the crisis demanded an integrated response.

“We can only meet this challenge together,” he said.

Read it all. I caught the joint news conference during the morning run. Fascinating to be sure–KSH.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Economy, England / UK, G20, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

From politics to the pulpit: Jim McGreevey studying theology at All Saints Church in Hoboken

Former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey is receiving training at All Saints Episcopal Church in Hoboken toward obtaining his master’s degree in theology.

McGreevey — who famously resigned as governor in 2004, saying that he was “a gay American” — is at All Saints for half-a-day once a week and on Sunday morning.

He’s not preaching to the congregation — yet, but, “He’s getting his field education at All Saints,” confirmed Rev. Geoff Curtiss, director of All Saints Episcopal parish. “He’s basically learning about how the parish works and learning what it means to run a Sunday morning congregation.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Episcopal Church (TEC), Parish Ministry, Seminary / Theological Education, TEC Parishes, Theology

RNS–Poll: U.S. Catholics lean left on social issues

American Catholics are more liberal than the general population on social issues like divorce and homosexuality, despite the Catholic Church’s longstanding conservatism on both issues, according to a new survey.

Catholics are more likely than non-Catholics to say that homosexual relations, divorce, and heterosexual sex outside wedlock are morally acceptable, according to an analysis by Gallup pollsters released on Monday.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Tom Friedman: The Price Is Not Right

That’s what “Market to Mother Nature” accounting is all about. It begins with the premise that the distinction between the G-20 and the Copenhagen climate change negotiations is totally artificial. They are just flip sides of the same global problem ”” how we as a world keep raising standards of living for more and more people in ways that will not, as a byproduct, have both the Market and Mother Nature producing huge amounts of toxic assets.

The old system, which has reached its financial and environmental limits, worked like this: We built more and more stores in America to sell more and more stuff, which was made in more and more Chinese factories powered by more and more coal that earned more and more dollars to buy more and more U.S. T-bills that got recycled back to America in the form of cheap credit to build more and more stores and more and more houses that gave rise to more and more Chinese factories. …

This system was a powerful engine of wealth creation and lifted millions out of poverty, but it relied upon the risks to the Market and to Mother Nature being underpriced and to profits being privatized in good times and losses socialized in bad times. This capitalist engine doesn’t need to be discarded; it needs some fixes. For starters, we need to get back to basics ”” accountable lending, prudent saving, reasonable leverage and, most important, more engineering of goods than just financial products.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Credit Markets, Economy, G20, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Stock Market, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner