Daily Archives: November 14, 2009

Robert Samuelson–Obama’s Malpractice: Why the health-care bill isn't reform

There is an air of absurdity to what is mistakenly called “health-care reform.” Everyone knows that the United States faces massive governmental budget deficits as far as calculators can project, driven heavily by an aging population and uncontrolled health costs. Recovering slowly from a devastating recession, it’s widely agreed that, though deficits should not be cut abruptly (lest the economy resume its slump), a prudent society would embark on long-term policies to control health costs, reduce government spending, and curb massive future deficits. The president and his top economic advisers all say this.

So, what do they do? Just the opposite. Their sweeping overhaul of the health-care system””which Congress is halfway toward enacting””would almost certainly make matters worse. It would create new, open-ended medical entitlements that would probably expand deficits and do little to suppress surging health costs. The disconnect between what Obama says and what he’s doing is so glaring that most people could not abide it. The president and his allies have no trouble. But reconciling blatantly contradictory objectives requires them to engage in willful self-deception, public dishonesty, or both.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Economy, Health & Medicine, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Senate, The National Deficit, The U.S. Government

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel–Health care seen as a moral issue

“It’s our belief that it’s not just a political and economic issue, it’s a fundamental moral issue,” said David Liners, state coordinator for WISDOM, an interfaith coalition of about 140 Wisconsin congregations working to advance health care reform.

Despite near consensus in the call for reform, there remains widespread debate over who and what procedures should be covered – with undocumented workers and abortion as the main flash points – and at what cost; the role of government and whether the law or conscience should dictate a health care professional’s participation.

Alliances have emerged that reflect traditionally political divisions as much as faith, according to the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

“It’s not a question of whether we need health care reform, but how we do it. And I don’t think government is the way,” said Mathew Staver, chairman of the faith-based coalition Freedom Federation, which opposes abortion and advocates a free-market approach to reform.”We believe individual liberties trump government-imposed obligations,” he said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, --The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, President Barack Obama, Religion & Culture, Senate, Theology

In Southern California Oceanside congregation loses legal battle with Episcopal Church

Sunday’s sermon at St. Anne’s Anglican Church in Oceanside will be about “standing on the authority of God’s word” in light of a recent court ruling that could force the congregation to find a new home.

Father Joe Rees, rector of the church at 701 West St. near the former Ditmar Elementary School, said he and his parishioners are still praying about a ruling handed down by San Diego Superior Court Judge Steven Denton on Tuesday.

The tentative ruling found that the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego is the true owner of the Oceanside church building and grounds, as well as property inhabited by another Anglican congregation in Ocean Beach. Both congregations left the Episcopal Diocese in 2006 and changed denominations.

It is the latest legal victory for the Episcopal Church, which has seen many individual congregations and four dioceses nationwide break away in disagreement over several decisions made by church leadership, including the ordination of the faith’s first openly gay bishop in 2003.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Episcopal Church (TEC), Law & Legal Issues, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: San Diego

From the Church of England Revision Committee on Women in the Episcopate

The Revision Committee met for its third scheduled meeting yesterday (13 November) since 8 October (see earlier statement). It concluded a substantial exploration of ways in which the draft legislation could be amended to enable certain functions to be vested by statute in bishops who would provide oversight for those unable to receive the episcopal and/or priestly ministry of women.

After much discussion, the members of the Committee were unable to identify a basis for specifying particular functions for vesting which commanded sufficient support both from those in favour of the ordination of women as bishops and those unable to support that development. As a result all of the proposals for vesting particular functions by statute were defeated.

The effect of the Committee’s decision is therefore that such arrangements as are made for those unable to receive the episcopal ministry of women will need to be by way of delegation from the diocesan bishop rather than vesting.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Women

Miami's black Episcopal churches recall segregation

During the discussion, panelists recounted how the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in downtown Miami would outcast black Episcopalians.

“I remember when we couldn’t walk by Trinity church,” said Gay Outler, referring to the then all-white Episcopal cathedral.

Outler, chair of the anti-racism commission said the oral history project will preserve what happened in the past and serve as a catalyst for continued dialogue on how to improve race relations in the church and society.

Many churches are in different stages of archiving and documenting their oral history.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Church History, Episcopal Church (TEC), History, Race/Race Relations, TEC Parishes

A Local Editorial on Attorney General Eric Holder's Decision: Wrong way to try terrorists

No less an authority on terrorism trials than Judge Michael Mukasey has spoken out strongly against trying the 9/11 plotters in federal court. Judge Mukasey, who was Mr. Holder’s predecessor as attorney general, presided over the 1995 trial of Sheik Omar. He has written that terrorism trials become targets for terrorists and are thus big drains on judicial resources. Courts and jails need extra protection, as do jurors, lawyers and judges. On the other hand, Judge Mukasey wrote, the government has already spent millions on a safe venue for military commission trials with full rights for defendants. But it is at Guantanamo, which the Obama administration shuns.

Judge Mukasey also has pointed out that expedience led prosecutors to charge Saleh Hahlah al-Marri, who confessed to plotting a second wave of al-Qaida attacks on the U.S., with a lesser crime. He could become free to rejoin the war against us in six years.

Sen. James Webb, D-Va., who leads a Senate review of the nation’s criminal justice system, supported Sen. [Lindsey] Graham’s Nov. 5 motion to block civilian trials for the Guantanamo detainees. It failed in the Senate by a 54-45 vote…

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Defense, National Security, Military, Law & Legal Issues, Terrorism

3 slain in shooting in Walterboro, South Carolina

Ruby Kittrell was getting ready for work Monday night when a staccato burst crackled through the air — Pop! Pop! Pop! — like a string of a firecrackers going off.

Kittrell’s front door swung open as she ran toward the noise. A young man stumbled in, crying that he had been shot. Then she heard her daughter Aleshia screaming from outside, calling her baby’s name.

Kittrell raced outside and found her 20-month-old granddaughter, Shaniyah Burden, lying in the dirt. She turned the girl over. A bullet had torn through the toddler’s head. She lay motionless.

Around them, eight others lay wounded and bleeding from a drive-by shooting outside Kittrell’s low-slung bungalow at the corner of Gerideau and McDaniel streets. Three of the victims, including Shaniyah, didn’t make it. They died before the night was over.

Horrifying–read it all. Today’s local paper has a front page follow up story: Authorities ‘saturate’ Walterboro streets after rash of deadly shootings–read it as well.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * South Carolina, Children, Marriage & Family, Violence

An Excerpt from Thomas Sowell's "The Housing Boom and Bust"

For the country [ofAmerica] as a whole…homebuyers have paid no more than the old-fashioned standard of 25% of their incomes for housing in any year since 1985. Renters have in recent years paid a somewhat higher percentage of their smaller incomes but not more than 30% in any year over the past several decades.

Neither by comparison with the recent past nor by comparison with other countries today is most housing in the United States unaffordable. The median-priced home in the United States as a whole is 3.6 times the median income of Americans. For Great Britain, the median-priced home is 5.5 times the median income and, in Australia and New Zealand, the ratio of home prices to income is 6.3.

Acknowledging this reality would cause a widely accepted vision, and the national crusades and policies built upon it, to collapse like a house of cards. Instead, facts that would undermine this vision and this political crusade have been largely ignored.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, The 2009 Obama Administration Housing Amelioration Plan, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--, The U.S. Government

Stephen Foley in the Independent: America on bailout red alert again

The FHA’s finances are in a much worse state than previously thought, we discovered this week. Congress mandated that it must always maintain cash reserves of 2 per cent of the mortgages it insures, but these have fallen to 0.53 per cent. Meanwhile, the percentage of loans seriously in arrears has risen to 17.9 per cent.

Reversing its previous position, the agency said that, if the economic recovery goes into reverse, it might well have to increase the line of credit it has with the US Treasury, perhaps by $1.6bn in 2011. It says that this would only be a problem in a serious double-dip recession, but we know from the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac debacle that the government’s housing market experts are prone to crunching the numbers optimistically.

Why have things deteriorated so fast? The reason is that the FHA has been ramping up its activities in the past two years. As the private sub-prime mortgage market collapsed, the agency stepped in to provide financing options for the “good” sub-prime borrowers who at least could prove their income. From insuring less than 2 per cent of the market in 2006, the FHA now puts its effective government guarantee behind one in four new US mortgages.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Consumer/consumer spending, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market, The U.S. Government

Charles Krauthammer: Medicalizing mass murder

What a surprise — that someone who shouts “Allahu Akbar” (the “God is great” jihadist battle cry) as he is shooting up a room of American soldiers might have Islamist motives. It certainly was a surprise to the mainstream media, which spent the weekend after the Fort Hood massacre playing down Nidal Hasan’s religious beliefs.

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Islam, Media, Military / Armed Forces, Other Faiths, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Terrorism, Violence

An Interesting Part of the Labor Market: The Work Sharing Program

It was disheartening to hear the recent statistics showing payrolls fell by 190,000 workers last month and the U.S. unemployment rate climbed to 10.2 percent. These numbers have been creeping up for some time now, and families nationwide are hurting from lost jobs, lost benefits, and lost sense of self. There had to be something different – something better – that could be done.

Though we knew we weren’t the first to tackle this challenge, we decided to use the skills we had – researching. One program in particular stuck out – work sharing. Simply put, work sharing is mutually beneficial to both employers and employees – a win/win situation. Employers reduce workers’ weekly hours and pay, and the workers collect unemployment from the state in lieu of being laid off.

Read it all.

Update: Mark Zandi’s piece on this important subject is here and includes the following:

Still, the recovery remains fragile. No doubt, there will be moments in the coming months when the economy appears liable to falter again. In order to ensure that today’s tentative recovery becomes a lasting expansion, the government must now make it a priority to deal with employment ”” particularly among small businesses.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Politics in General, State Government

A Living Church Editorial: Wounded Church

That the Vatican would offer here again ”” as in other texts of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, since 1992, and also the Catechism of the Catholic Church (at n. 817) ”” an ecclesiology of wound, this time at the outset of a text that introduces a gracious provision for itinerant, Catholic-minded Anglicans, should go a long way to alleviate fears of undue and untoward Roman triumphalism. If the one Church of Jesus Christ is wounded by dint of inter-Christian divisions, then the Christians in question must already be caught up in the life of the Body of that Church. The division is rather more intra than inter.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Christology, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, Theology

From the Morning Scripture Readings

For whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man, if he gains the whole world and forfeits his life? Or what shall a man give in return for his life? For the Son of man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay every man for what he has done.

–Matthew 16:25-27

Posted in Theology, Theology: Scripture

Former clinic director: Episcopal Church chilly to my pro-life turn

Abby Johnson, the former Planned Parenthood clinic director whose about-face on abortion prompted her to resign her job, says she’s gotten flack for her decision from an unexpected quarter: her own church.

Her Oct. 6 decision to leave Planned Parenthood in Bryan, Texas – after viewing an ultrasound-guided abortion of a 13-week-old fetus two weeks earlier – made headlines, especially when she ended up volunteering at the Coalition for Life center a few doors away. Her former employer filed a restraining order to silence Mrs. Johnson, but a judge threw out the case on Tuesday.

Now she is facing a different kind of music at her parish, St. Francis Episcopal in nearby College Station, the home of Texas A&M University.

Whereas clergy and parishioners welcomed her as a Planned Parenthood employee, now they are buttonholing her after Sunday services.

Read it all.

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

Time Magazine–Britain's Idea to Tax Financial Transactions

Why the poor reception? For a tax that’s attracted high-profile backers like Brown and Sarkozy, its track record is thin. When Tobin first proposed the idea in 1972, it was seen as a way to stop currency speculators after the collapse of the Bretton Woods system of fixed exchange rates, but it was never imposed. Sweden enacted a tax on certain financial transactions in the 1980s but ditched it in 1991 after trading volumes sank.

Today, there are bigger obstacles to its implementation. First, there are the tax’s tricky practicalities: Which financial transactions and institutions do you target? And who pays, administers and regulates it? But possibly more importantly, every major financial center would need to be on board for the levy to be effective. Investment banks wouldn’t likely leave Britain for cheaper foreign currency”“trading in Macedonia, but they might well if that opportunity was in Manhattan. Advanced economies imposing the tax unilaterally “would see their financial markets decimated,” Howard Wheeldon, senior strategist at BGC Partners in London, wrote in a note to clients on Monday.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Economy, Globalization, Stock Market, Taxes, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--