Daily Archives: January 23, 2008

Notable and Quotable (II)

Percentage of the workweek that a typical worker spends in meetings: 25. Odds that a person at a meeting doesn’t know why he’s there: 1 in 3.

–Annabelle Gurwitch, Fired, as quoted in Reader’s Digest, December 2007 edition, page 60

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

Professor Bainbridge offers the Case Against Fiscal Stimulus

Read it all with all the juicy quotes.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Politics in General

John McCain Popular with People Against the War

Here’s a mind-boggling fact: people who are opposed to the Iraq war look very favorably towards Sen. John McCain – supporter of President Bush and the troop surge in Iraq.

No, that is not a typo. In New Hampshire, for instance, exits polls show that he did very well with those opposed to the war. And he did poorly among big supporters of the war in both New Hampshire and Michigan.

Go figure.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Iraq War, US Presidential Election 2008

The Presiding Bishop Takes some Questions in Alabama

Question: I would just simply respond to say that that’s true as I look to my brother next to me and say, you’re doing something wrong. But as a church, as a body, we’ve been given authority in Holy Scripture to say that these things are abhorent to God. And we’ve also been given a duty to share that because those that haven’t heard the Good News are truly perishing and without the Gospel of Christ they are perishing. And if we, out of fear of offense, fail to give them the Gospel, then we are accomplices in their death. We’ve been given an enormous responsibility and an enormous trust by our Lord, and I think we shirk it when we deny what’s written in Scripture.

Bishop Katharine: My understanding of the essential k_?___ , the central proclamation of Jesus, is that God loves you. Jesus came to show us that. Jesus gave his life to show us that, and we can argue about the details beyond that. I won’t disagree with you that proclaiming the Gospel is the centerpiece of what we do. I would continue to have conversation with you, I hope, about how we impose our particular understandings of aspects of that ? . And I think that’s been the struggle of the Christian journey from the beginning.

Watch it all or read the transcript or both.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Presiding Bishop

Notable and Quotable

Question: Do you agree, [is] the Fed ahead of the curve? A lot of people have been criticizing it for being slow to respond to the credit crunch, for instance.

Answer: No, I think the Fed was, up until today at least, quite far behind the curve. They had not recognized the severity of this credit crisis.

First, they thought it would be confined to the subprime area of the mortgage market. It has since spread from the mortgage market to credit cards and auto loans. It has hurt the economy much more than the Fed I think originally thought.

So I think today’s action, being extremely urgent on the part of the Fed, was an effort to catch up with the curve, to recognize how severe this credit crisis is, how severe the increase in the cost of credit is to households and businesses, and the danger that that might push the economy into recession.

The Fed never uses the word “recession,” but, indeed, we could already be in one.

Economist David Jones last night on the Lehrer News Hour

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy

Black churches torn between Clinton, Obama

If it’s true that a house divided cannot stand, then black churches across South Carolina should be shaking. Take, for instance, Bible Way Church of Atlas Road in Columbia.

The black megachurch’s pastor, Darrell Jackson Sr., is a paid consultant for Senator Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.

In the pews, longtime Bible Way parishioner Anton J. Gunn directs the statewide political operation of Clinton’s main rival, Senator Barack Obama.

The congregation as a whole, some 10,000 strong, sits somewhere in the middle, according to both men.

“I think we have a lot of people who support Hillary Clinton, and we’ve got a lot of people who support Barack Obama,” Jackson said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, * South Carolina, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, US Presidential Election 2008

The R-5 Commission Report for the Diocese of Virginia's Council

The print starts very small but you can enlarge it–please peruse it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Virginia

Lambeth 2008 question & answer session part 2

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Lambeth 2008

Lambeth 2008 question & answer session part 1

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Lambeth 2008

Archbishop Rowan Williams launches the Lambeth Conference 2008 programme

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Archbishop of Canterbury, Lambeth 2008

California: Stunning Jump in Foreclosures

Foreclosures and default notices skyrocketed to record peaks in California and the Bay Area in the fourth quarter of 2007, according to a report released Tuesday. The information was a fresh reminder that the slumping real estate market is continuing to have a serious impact on homeowners, particularly those with risky subprime mortgages.

Lenders repossessed 31,676 residences in California in the October-November-December period, according to DataQuick Information Systems, a La Jolla research firm. That was a dramatic 421.2 percent increase from 6,078 in the year-ago quarter.

In the Bay Area, foreclosures rose an equally stunning 482.5 percent to 4,573 in the fourth quarter, compared with 785 a year ago. Contra Costa County, with 1,558 foreclosures, up 533.3 percent from a year ago, had the most, followed by Alameda County with 1,026 (a 514.4 percent increase) and Solano County with 704 (up 528.6 percent).

“Foreclosure activity is closely tied to a decline in home values,” DataQuick President Marshall Prentice said in a statement. “With today’s depreciation, an increasing number of homeowners find themselves owing more on a property than its market value, setting the stage for default if there is mortgage payment shock, a job loss or the owner needs to move.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Housing/Real Estate Market

George Weigel: Refighting the Wars of Religion

Since the rise of the religious New Right two generations ago, the religion-and-politics battle in America has been fought on many fronts. The most obvious one involves electoral politics, although even here the story is not so straightforward as often depicted. As Richard John Neuhaus showed two decades ago, the new activism of evangelical and fundamentalist Protestants in the 1970’s did not begin as a political offensive intended to woo America from secular liberalism, let alone from the Democratic party. Instead it was a defensive reaction to attempts by the Carter administration to bring federal regulatory pressure to bear on religious schools, thereby threatening to inundate the enclaves that evangelicals and fundamentalists had created to escape the cultural meltdown of the 1960’s.1 Only in time did what started as self-defense””“leave us alone”””become a significant political movement promoting traditional morality in public life.

Viewed through a wider historical lens, the revolt of the evangelicals can also be seen as one episode in an ongoing struggle over the meaning of the religion clause of the First Amendment. For the first century and a half of the Republic, that clause had been a backwater of constitutional jurisprudence. This began to change with a series of Supreme Court decisions springing from the Everson case in 1947. What struck many as an effort to drive confessional religion from the public square and to establish secularism as a quasi-official national creed provoked a challenge by religious intellectuals and activists representing a wide variety of theological and denominational positions; their arguments were buttressed by legal scholars, some of them devoutly secular in cast of mind.

Nor is that all. If the religion-and-politics wars have been about politics””including the politics of constitutional interpretation””they have also been about ideas. To claim a place for religious conviction in the public square is implicitly to challenge the “secularization hypothesis” propounded for decades by modern sociologists and historians””the idea, that is, that modernization inevitably leads to a dramatic decline in religious conviction and a weakening of the culture-forming effects of religion. Perhaps less obviously, it is also to challenge the secularist or Jacobin version of the Whig theory of history, according to which the evolution of Western democracy should be seen as a development away from religion, and against Christianity in particular.

All of these disparate strands have been involved in the latest phase of the religion-and-politics wars: the rise of what Christopher Hitchens has hailed as the “new atheism.” The commercial success of Hitchens’s God Is Not Great, following on the heels of similar books by Richard Dawkins (The God Delusion), Daniel Dennett (Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon), and Sam Harris (Letter to a Christian Nation), may not have added very much to the sum total of our knowledge about either religion or the impact of religious conviction on our politics. But these best-sellers have kept both the polemical and the political pots boiling, and sharpened the question of what role””if any””religious conviction, or even religiously-informed moral argument, should play in American public life.

Read it all.

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

William Kristol: Thoroughly Unmodern McCain

In this he differs from his competitors. Mitt Romney is the very model of a modern venture capitalist. Mike Huckabee is the very model of a modern evangelical. Rudy Giuliani is the very model of a modern can-do executive. They are impressive modern men all. But John McCain is a not-so-modern type. One might call him a neo-Victorian ”” rigid, self-righteous and moralizing, but (or rather and) manly, courageous and principled.

Maybe a dose of this type of neo-Victorianism is what the 21st century needs. A fair number of Republican and independent voters seem to think so, if one can infer as much from their support of McCain at the polls. But, amazingly, a neo-Victorian straightforwardness might also turn out to be strategically smart.

McCain has been the only Republican candidate who hasn’t tried to out-think the process. Perhaps out of sheer necessity, after his campaign imploded last summer, he simply picked himself up and made his case to the voters in the various states.

Meanwhile, the other G.O.P. candidates are creatures of our modern age of analysis and meta-analysis, and their campaigns have sometimes been too clever by half.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

Social network sites link to town's seven suicides

Natasha Randall was 17, had a large circle of friends and was studying childcare when, without any indication that she was unhappy, she hanged herself in her bedroom.

Her death last Thursday was the latest in at least seven apparent copycat suicides in Bridgend, South Wales, that have alarmed parents, health authorities and police, who believe that they may be prompted by messages on social networking websites such as Bebo.

Within days two 15-year-old girls, both of whom had known Tasha, as she called herself, had also tried to take their lives. One cut her wrists and was later discharged from hospital into the care of her parents. The other tried to hang herself and spent two days on life support before showing signs of recovery. Police have since visited the families of 20 of Tasha’s friends, urging them to keep an eye on their daughters.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, Blogging & the Internet, England / UK, Teens / Youth

Roman Catholic Charities Study Links Poverty, Racism

A new study, “Poverty and Racism: Overlapping Threats to the Common Good,” is part of Catholic Charities’ campaign to cut the U.S. poverty rate in half by 2020. It was officially released by the Rev. Larry Snyder, the group’s president, during a Mass Monday at Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Detroit.

“We are convinced that without a conscious and proactive struggle against racism, our efforts to reduce the plague of poverty will be in vain,” the study says.

For example, the study cites evidence that the poverty rate for African Americans in the U.S. is 24 percent–three times the rate for whites. Latinos and Native Americans also suffer from poverty rates above 20 percent, according to the study.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * Religion News & Commentary, Economy, Other Churches, Race/Race Relations, Roman Catholic

Gerard Baker: The Fed establishes another baleful landmark

The last time that the US Federal Reserve cut interest rates by three quarters of a percentage point or more in one go was in August 1982. Back then the global economy was enveloped in a thick cloud of misery. Total US economic output had fallen by 7.5 per cent over the previous year and unemployment had risen to its highest level since the Great Depression.

The last time the Fed cut rates at an emergency meeting outside its regular schedule of policymaking gatherings was on the first day that markets resumed trading after the September 11 terrorist attacks. Markets had been closed for four straight days and the fear of dislocation caused by the attacks forced the Fed to cut rates to stave off what many feared would be a global financial and economic panic.

Yesterday the Fed uprooted both of those landmarks. It cut its key federal funds rate at a hastily convened emergency meeting by three quarters of a point to 3.5 per cent.

Putting yesterday’s almost unprecedented move in this historical context gives some idea of the concern at the US central bank about the outlook for the economy. But the timing of this extraordinary rate cut also raises a serious question for the Fed’s credibility: did the leadership of the world’s most powerful central bank panic in response to a financial market crisis?

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Stock Market

Bishop Peter Lee of Virginia also did not consent to Bishop Duncan's Inhibition

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts

Church stalls over deal on women bishops

Attempts to heal a damaging split over women bishops in the Church of England have faltered after bishops could not agree on a compromise deal.

It was widely expected that plans to appoint women bishops, backed by the liberal and conservative wings of the Church, would be presented to the General Synod next month.

But when bishops met behind closed doors to thrash out proposals, there were heated exchanges and no final decision could be reached. It means that the Church is back at square one on the issue.

Read it all.

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

In Newfoundland Clergy asked to renew licences over same-sex unions

Bishop Cyrus Pitman issued the ad clerum in part as a response to the departure of his predecessor, Donald Harvey, who left the Anglican Church of Canada several years ago over the issue of blessing same-sex unions and is now affiliated with the more conservative Anglican Network in Canada.

“I value people’s individual conscience, and our church has always accommodated a diversity of opinion,” Bishop Pitman writes in the letter to 37 parishes, dated Dec. 18.

“However, I would expect any clergy involved in the network and working to the establishment of a parallel jurisdiction to the Anglican Church of Canada would do the honourable thing and resign their positions, relinquishing their licences to exercise ordained ministry in this church as their leader has done.”

Bishop Pitman was unavailable for comment, but diocese executive Ven. Geoff Peddle spoke on his behalf, saying the bishop felt it was necessary to bring all 100 clergy together after some of them requested the meeting.

“Some people consider it somewhat extraordinary that the bishop would do this, however, the actions of Donald Harvey have been quite extraordinary themselves,” Archdeacon Peddle said.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

Reuters: Canada Anglicans can't halt conservative defections

The head of the Anglican church has made it clear he is powerless to stop conservative Canadian and U.S. congregations, upset with their national churches’ positions on homosexuality, from leaving and affiliating with orthodox branches in Latin America and Africa.

It was a frank admission by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, leader of the world’s 77 million Anglicans, of the limits of his power, even though he is opposed to cross-border ecclesiastical moves.

Williams was responding to a plea by the liberal leadership of the Anglican Church of Canada to address the fact that the orthodox Anglican Church of the Southern Cone of the Americas had started in November giving oversight to some congregations — or “intervening” in Canada.

“I have no canonical authority to prevent these things, but I would simply repeat what was said in my advent letter (in December), to the effect that I cannot support or sanction such actions,” Williams wrote the Canadian archbishops.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury

Republican Fred Thompson quits presidential race

Former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson quit the Republican presidential race on Tuesday, after a string of poor finishes in early primary and caucus states.

“Today, I have withdrawn my candidacy for president of the United States. I hope that my country and my party have benefited from our having made this effort,” Thompson said in a statement.

Thompson’s fate was sealed last Saturday in the South Carolina primary, when he finished third in a state that he had said he needed to win.

In the statement, Thompson did not say whether he would endorse any of his former rivals. He was one of a handful of members of Congress who supported Arizona Sen. John McCain in 2000 in his unsuccessful race against George W. Bush for the party nomination.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, US Presidential Election 2008

Prolife Cause Gains new Adherents

The bell rang and the eighth graders jumped up, eager to compare notes.

“I named my baby Kyle Patrick,” one shouted.

“Mine is Antonio!”

At the urging of an antiabortion activist, they had each pledged to “spiritually adopt” a fetus developing in an unknown woman — to name it, love it from afar and above all, pray daily that the mother-to-be would not choose abortion.

“Maybe one day you’ll get to heaven and these people will come running to you . . . and say, ‘We’re all the little children you saved,’ ” activist Cristina Barba said. She smiled at the students in their Catholic school uniforms. “Maybe you really can make a difference.”

Thirty-five years after Roe vs. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, opponents are pouring resources into building new generations of activists. Young people are responding with passion.

Today’s students and young adults have grown up in a time when abortion was widely accessible and acceptable, and a striking number are determined to end that era.

Pew Research Center polls dating back a decade show that 18- to 29-year-olds are consistently more likely than the general adult population to favor strict limits on abortion. A Pew survey over the summer found 22% of young adults support a total ban on abortion, compared with 15% of their parents’ generation.

Looking specifically at teens, a Gallup survey in 2003 found that 72% called abortion morally wrong, and 32% believed it should be illegal in all circumstances. Among adults surveyed that year, only 17% backed a total ban.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture

Robert Novak: Front-Runner John McCain

The older, wiser McCain is more careful and less combative. On election day here, as I sat with other reporters in the rear of McCain’s “Straight Talk Express” bus, I asked for the senator’s comment on DeLay’s statement on Fox the night before. DeLay said he could not vote for McCain even against Hillary Clinton because of grave damage he had done the Republican Party.

Graham, seated nearby, snorted in disbelief. But McCain limited himself to the polite comment that he and Tom DeLay had disagreements. Indeed, the 2000 McCain’s emphasis on campaign finance reform and opposition to tax cuts were missing from his 2008 campaigning here. He has adjusted his support for immigration reform to negate the issue.

But McCain has not entirely abandoned “straight talk” in seeking Republican anointment. I asked him Saturday whether he knew of any instance of an economic stimulus such as President Bush’s proposed $800-per-taxpayer handout actually averting a recession. He said he did not, and the proposal bothered him.

That kind of answer by McCain has annoyed Republican grandees for years, but it also is what sets him apart from other politicians. It brought to South Carolina last week such endorsers as Sen. Tom Coburn, who maddens his Republican colleagues with his campaign against pork, and Sen. Joe Lieberman, who defied his Democratic Party’s orthodoxy on Iraq. Even the GOP elders seem ready to grit their teeth and go along with McCain.

Read it all.

Posted in * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, US Presidential Election 2008