Daily Archives: December 3, 2009
Obama can’t be fairly blamed for most job losses, which stemmed from a crisis predating his election. But he has made a bad situation somewhat worse. His unwillingness to advance trade agreements (notably, with Colombia and South Korea) has hurt exports. The hostility to oil and gas drilling penalizes one source of domestic investment spending. More important, the decision to press controversial proposals (health care, climate change) was bound to increase uncertainty and undermine confidence. Some firms are postponing spending projects “until there is more clarity,” Zandi notes. Others are put off by anti-business rhetoric. The recovery’s vigor will determine whether unemployment declines rapidly or stays stubbornly high, and the recovery’s vigor depends heavily on private business. Obama declines to recognize conflicts among goals. Choices were made — and jobs weren’t always Job One.
Ruth Hassell-Thompson was a young girl decades ago when her older brother, a gay man, vanished from her deeply religious family, moving away to escape their disapproving father.
Ms. Hassell-Thompson, 67, searched for years, finally finding him in a village in the south of France. When she urged him to come home, he said that “my father doesn’t want to see me.”
“But your sister does,” Ms. Hassell-Thompson recalled telling him, her voice breaking as she stood on the Senate floor on Wednesday and publicly revealed her brother’s story for the first time.
Americans need to know how the administration plans to reduce a 10.2 percent unemployment rate ”” a 26-year high and rising. They need to know how the government will foster hiring and help replace the eight million jobs eliminated so far in two years of recession. Economic growth alone cannot repair damage that severe.
First, President Obama must change the terms of the debate. When he announced the job meeting last month, Mr. Obama said he was determined to meet the “great challenge” of unemployment. In the next breath, he tried to dampen expectations, warning of the “limits to what government can do and should do.” He said he was open to “responsible” and “demonstrably good” ideas to create jobs. It would be tragic if that pre-empts bold ones.
Mr. Obama’s mixed message in the teeth of a crisis seems intended to appease Republicans and conservative Democrats who argue that federal budget deficits preclude more aid to combat rising unemployment. The argument is wrong, and giving it credence puts politics ahead of Americans’ needs.
How do we encounter the poor? Are they simply the recipients of our unwanted clothing or our spare change, forgotten until we are confronted by a Salvation Army bell-ringer or a donation-collection truck?
Jesus called the poor blessed because they more readily recognize and receive the kingdom of heaven. People who are the most vulnerable often discover that what they need can only come from God.
Each meeting with shelter or a meal or the kindness of a stranger can be seen as divine providence.
“I think a gay candidate has a strong possibility of being elected,” the Rev. Altagracia Perez, rector of Holy Faith Church in Inglewood, told me. “Most people I’ve asked say she’s their first or second choice. She has a great resume.”
“I think Mary has a great chance,” said the Rev. Brad Karelius, rector of Messiah parish in downtown Santa Ana and a senior priest in the diocese. “There is aggressive lobbying by the gay-lesbian constituency here to get a gay bishop.
“Her biggest challenge – I’m saying this as a lifelong Californian – is the culture. This is the most religiously diverse area in the world … and I don’t know how East Coast formalities would work here.”
Susan Russell, the former president of the Episcopal gay caucus Integrity and a priest at All Saints Church in Pasadena, told me that Ms. Glasspool had been “well-received.”
The Rev. Frank Kirkpatrick, a professor of religion at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., and author of a book on the Episcopal Church’s divisions, predicted the election of a new gay bishop would not cause more parishes to break away.
“I think the people who wanted to leave have already left,” he said. “Sure, I think it would anger some people. But (Robinson’s election) is when the inflamed passions on this came to the fore. Everything after that is a footnote.”
The Rev. Kendall Harmon, canon theologian of the Diocese of South Carolina and a prominent Episcopal conservative, said it’s unclear whether more U.S. parishes will leave if a new gay bishop is elected.
But, he said, “It will continue to drive a wedge between dioceses like mine and dioceses like Los Angeles.”
President Obama’s decision to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan changes the equation. The first reinforcements will be Marines headed for Helmand — and a likely showdown in Marjah. There will be hard fighting ahead, just as there was last summer when Marines entered Nawa and other Taliban strongholds. But with enough resources and enough patience, there is little doubt that American troops and their Afghan allies will be able to secure key areas of southern Afghanistan that have slipped out of the government’s grasp.
Then they can begin the hard work of building Afghan government capacity — a process that has already started in Nawa, where the district governor is working closely with the Marines to provide essential services to the people. Local merchants are even taking the initiative to string power lines, previously nonexistent in this impoverished community.
The questions that remain unanswered after the president’s West Point address: Will the troops have the time and resources needed to win? “Win” is a word that Obama avoided. He cited his long-standing goal of “disrupting, dismantling and defeating Al Qaeda and its extremist allies,” but he spoke merely of his desire to “break the Taliban’s momentum” rather than defeat it altogether. He spoke of wanting to “end this war successfully” but said nothing of winning the war.
A New Jersey inmate who was ordained a Pentecostal minister in prison nine years ago but was banned from preaching behind bars won back that right in a negotiated settlement stemming from his lawsuit.
Howard N. Thompson Jr., convicted of murder in 1985 and sentenced to 30 years to life in prison, had preached at New Jersey State Prison in Trenton regularly for years until corrections officers prohibited preaching by inmates in 2007.
The settlement was negotiated between the state attorney general and the American Civil Liberties Union, working on Thompson’s behalf.
OSV: What exactly happened? This had been going on for a long time: a lot of women had been coming in and having abortions, so why did you leave at this point?
[Abby] Johnson: The difference is this: Most abortion procedures are not done with ultrasound guidance. So that means that they go in, and they do the abortion. They do an ultrasound before the procedure is done. They don’t do an ultrasound during the procedure, so you don’t actually see what is going on inside the uterus during the abortion procedure. The reason they don’t do it is that it takes longer, and industries like Planned Parenthood, who are trying to pump out as many abortions as possible per day, don’t want to take the time to do a more accurate procedure. They just want to do them as quickly as possible to get more women in and out the door.
But this particular physician, for whatever reason, chose to do an ultrasound-guided procedure on this patient and called me in the room to assist, which was not something I usually did as director. But I did go in to assist, and my job was to hold the ultrasound probe on the woman’s abdomen during the procedure so he could visualize the uterus during the abortion. What I saw during the procedure was so gruesome to me, and something I had never experienced before, that I just thought, “I’ll never do this again.”
Can we talk, here? I mean, just you and me? No blame; no shame? Let me start the conversation (right now it’s a monologue but I hope you’ll join in, right?). Here are the facts: three out of four of our finest entrepreneurial leaders in charge of a failed “start” eventually leave the Episcopal Church, after leaving the ministry. Do you understand the significance of that well-documented statistic? It means that, while we say we want to learn from our failures, we don’t quite know what to do with the very person who needs to lead the inquiry! It means that, while we love it when industry leaders advise us to “fail early and fail often” to discover what works, we’re still a little scared when it comes to shamelessly and blamelessly working through our own failures in order to discover what works. It also means that, while we get awfully passionate about recycling tuna cans and paper towel rolls, we don’t know how to “recycle” our own best leaders. We let them wander off stage to fend for themselves without even thinking to ask, “How can we help you find your next post in our church?” or, “How do we learn from this venture so that we do better the next time?”
Thirteen embryonic stem-cell lines were approved for use by U.S.-funded researchers today, the first of hundreds of cell colonies that may become available under new polices promised by President Barack Obama.
Stem cells taken from days-old human embryos can be kept alive indefinitely in solution, and have the ability to turn into about 200 cell types in the body. Use of these so-called cell lines is opposed by some people because extracting them destroys the embryos. The stem-cell expansion was announced today by Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, in a telephone briefing with reporters.
Despite Barack Obama’s face featuring prominently on the evening bulletins on the various televisions positioned around one of central Kabul’s large and grimy restaurants, tonight few of the diners were taking any notice of the news that an extra 30,000 US troops would be arriving in Afghanistan soon.
“It is just a political decision taken by the Americans, it has nothing to do with us,” said one customer.
Those watching were sceptical about the chances of the surge bringing peace. “Wherever the foreign forces go they are attacked and it is the civilians who always get killed,” said Mohamad Ashraf, an economics graduate, as he tucked into a dinner of fried mutton.