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

Ilora Finlay: Assisted suicide is fine in a perfect world, but we don't live or die in one

Experience of treating many patients over 30 years has convinced me that doctors must accept death as a natural end to life and avoid inappropriate interventions, but that legalising euthanasia, whether indirectly, in the form of assisted suicide, or directly, via lethal injection, is a dangerous step too far.

Proposals to allow “assisted dying”, while undoubtedly well intended, have an air of unreality about them that is worrying to anyone who works with seriously ill people. They assume the existence of a perfect world – a world in which all terminally ill people are entirely clear-headed and make life-or-death decisions on completely rational grounds; and a world in which all doctors know their patients well and have limitless time and skill to assess requests for euthanasia.

The real world of clinical practice just isn’t like that.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, England / UK, Health & Medicine, Life Ethics

A (London) Times Editorial on the G20: Constrained expectations

The event will be an extreme irritant for London’s commuters and traffic. But it is already remarkable in another, more promising way. The financial crisis is the first great test of globalisation. The emerging economies ”” such as China, India and Brazil ”” are crucial to resolving the crisis. It is an achievement in itself that the G20, rather than the G7, has become the focus of efforts to stabilise the global economy and reform the financial system.

Mr Brown’s plans for a “new Bretton Woods” system have generated criticism owing to their lack of detail. But it is inevitable that the summit will be richer in symbolism than substance. And to be sure, there is a virtue in the broad sweep: the world’s leaders have the opportunity to restate with intelligence and conviction the arguments for free markets, free trade, and free men and women in the face of heartfelt but fuzzy-brained protest.

It is also a reasonable aim to establish rules for the international financial system so that risks to the wider economy are reduced. Whether or not it proves equal to that task, the G20 has an important role.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Economy, England / UK, G20, Globalization, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Diocese of Quincy Seeks Court’s Help

Via email:

[QUINCY, ILLINOIS] The Diocese of Quincy has petitioned the Circuit Court of Illinois in Quincy to issue a Declaratory Judgment clarifying the rights of the Diocese to hold and manage its endowment funds. The petition was filed in response to actions taken by leaders of the Episcopal Church in New York claiming that trust funds held by the diocese must remain in the Episcopal Church. Quincy formally separated from the Episcopal Church at it annual Synod in November, 2008.
“We hoped from the beginning to avoid any legal action,” said Fr. John Spencer, President of the Standing Committee which oversees the diocese. “Our Fall synod passed a resolution asking the leaders of the Episcopal Church to find ways ”˜in which the two entities might carry out the mission of the church as brothers and sisters in the Lord Christ rather than as hostile parties.’ We sent that to the Episcopal Church’s Presiding Bishop. She never responded. We wrote to the leader of a group of several churches that is setting up a new Episcopal diocese here, asking to meet and talk about the property issues. They said they didn’t have the authority to talk with us.”
Quincy, along with the Dioceses of San Joaquin, Pittsburgh, and Ft. Worth, withdrew from the Episcopal church over the meaning and authority of Holy Scripture and other basic Christian teaching, according to Fr. Spencer. San Joaquin separated in December, 2007, and the other three last fall.
A series of legal actions by the Episcopal Church led to the filing of the Quincy petition this week, Fr. Spencer said. In January, an attorney for the Episcopal Church wrote the bank that holds Quincy’s diocesan endowment funds, claiming that those funds have to stay in the Episcopal Church. The letter also claimed that the elected officials of the diocese no longer had any say in the control of those funds.
In February, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katharine Jefferts Schori, wrote the members of the Quincy Standing Committee, claiming they were no longer officers of the Diocese. “The problem is,” Spencer said, “she has no authority to make such a judgment. The governing officers of each diocese have always been elected at the local level, and the General Convention officers in New York have no say in the matter.”
About the same time, Spencer said, a group of churches that have broken away from the Quincy Diocese announced they would organize a new Episcopal diocese in central Illinois. An article appeared in the March edition of the Episcopal Church’s official newspaper, “Episcopal Life,” saying the Episcopal Presiding Bishop was giving “extensive guidance” to the churches organizing the new diocese and that the goal of Episcopal Presiding Bishop and other Episcopal leaders was “to craft a lawsuit that is trim and focused on the critical claims involving ownership and possession of diocesan property.”
“It was clear,” Spencer said, “that a law suit was heading our way. From suits they have filed elsewhere, we know Episcopal Church leaders will start by trying to seize our funds, and eventually try to take our churches.”
After lengthy consultation with their legal counsel, the Quincy Standing Committee made the decision to petition the Illinois court to clarify and define the property rights of the Diocese against the claims of Episcopal Church officers from New York.
“We want people to understand, this is not a typical ”˜law suit’,” Fr. Spencer said. “We’re not trying to take property away from anyone. We’re simply trying to protect the property of our Diocese and local churches which we believe legally ”” and morally ”” belong to the people of those churches, and to our historic Diocese that has existed since 1877.“ A Declaratory Judgment, Spencer said, is a particular court petition that asks the court to spell out what the rights, duties, and responsibilities of the Diocese are under Illinois law. “Only then will we be able to move forward with releasing property to those churches who have decided to leave us. We want to do everything properly, and an explanatory ruling from the court will ensure that we stay within the bounds of the law.”
Spencer emphasized that the Diocese has offered to work charitably with those few churches that decided to leave the Diocese and stay under the control of the Episcopal Church. “We were willing to begin those talks. Unfortunately, the improper legal claims by leaders of the Episcopal Church in New York have tied our hands. We need direction from the court before we can proceed.”
Spencer said he had no idea how soon the court will make a decision on their petition. “The sooner the better,” he said. “The Episcopal Church has spent millions of dollars in the last few years suing churches who no longer want to be a part of it. Our goal is not to make their lawyers rich. Our goal is to protect our churches and diocesan resources. Many people have given sacrificially to our Diocese for over a hundred and fifty years because we have always upheld traditional Christian faith and discipline. We plan to do so for the next 150 years, God willing.”

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

Britain's Religious Leaders Communiqué: G20 leaders must not forget promises to the poor

We write as religious leaders who share a belief in God and the dignity of human life. We wish to acknowledge with realism and humility the severity of the current economic crisis and the sheer complexity of the global and local challenge faced by political leaders. We pray for the leaders of the G20 as they prepare to meet in London this week. They, and we, have a crucial role to play in recovering that lost sense of balance between the requirements of market mechanisms that help deliver increased prosperity, and the moral requirement to safeguard human dignity, regardless of economic or social category.

Many people are suffering as a result of the economic crisis. The World Bank estimates that 53 million more people could fall into absolute poverty as a result of the crisis. The likelihood is that more will face significant hardship before it comes to an end, and those who are already poor suffer the most. Along with the leaders of the G20 we all have a duty to look at the faces of the poor around the world and to act with justice, to think with compassion, and to look with hope to a sustainable vision of the future.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, Archbishop of Canterbury, Economy, England / UK, Globalization, Poverty, Religion & Culture, The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--

Honda connects Brain thoughts with robotics

Opening a car trunk or controlling a home air conditioner could become just a wish away with Honda’s new technology that connects thoughts inside a brain with robotics.

Honda Motor Co. has developed a way to read patterns of electric currents on a person’s scalp as well as changes in cerebral blood flow when a person thinks about four simple movements””moving the right hand, moving the left hand, running and eating.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, Science & Technology

Thew Forrester's Theology Compared with the Nicene Creed

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Christology, Episcopal Church (TEC), TEC Bishops, TEC Conflicts, TEC Conflicts: Northern Michigan, Theology