This blog started out as a companion piece to my book, Musings from the Christian Left (excerpts of which can be found in the July 2004 link) and to support a planned radio show. Now, its simply a long term writing project from a Christian Left Libertarian perspective (meaning I often argue for liberty within the (Catholic) Church, rather than liberty because the church takes care of a conservative view of morality.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Links for 01/29/15 | National Catholic Reporter

Links for 01/29/15 | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: Francis always gives a good homily - its a main way priests are judged.  Good preachers become bishops.  Great preachers become cardinals, etc.  That, in essence, is why faith is not privatized - although in one sense, it must be - both in terms of the reality of the encounter with God and with conscience.

Congressman Ryan is spot on concerning what is wrong with the pro-life movement, although I am sure that getting the women's vote might have something to do with it as well.  Of course, the movement is lucky that Ryan did not come out and say that the movement was an electoral scam with no intention of ever accomplishing its mission.  That would be too bluntly truthful.

Millenium has an iteresting perspective on why the Church is involved with the causes it has been.  Of course, the Civil Rights movement, while the organizations exist, is happily no longer mobilizing like it did (except in Ferugson and sadly, not so much in DC).  The same will occur with Immigration.  Sadly, it is the pro-life movement itself that wishes to go on like it is - rather than win and go home. Indeed, if it was able to do all it said, women would be the ones we would be marching to protect.  Annointing Black and Latino priests was evidence of its solidarity.  What about with women?  Until the Gospel of Life comes from an ordained woman's voice, it is just noise.  Argue that point.

Leave it to Catholic Health and CCUSA to file a brief on the right side of the issue on subsidies under the Affordable Care Act.  Would that the Bishops joined them.  What would the kids at Millenium say about that?  Sadly, this shows why the way the Bishops deal with abortion is faux social justice - I am sure that some of the membership did not want to do anything on this issue that affiliateed themselves with Obama - since nothing is more important to the GOP and its allies than abortion than beating Obama on healthcare.

As for Germany and Greece, Harold gets it right but not far enough.  It should not be a nation to nation transaction - Europe should be one on taxation, debt and currency - or else it will not survive - nor should it. While Germany is reveling in national economic power, such power only exists if its fellow nations, especially in Europe, find its exercise mutually beneficial.  Clearly, Greek voters do not think it is.

In Praise of Conservatism | National Catholic Reporter

In Praise of Conservatism | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: Burke is an intersting figure.  He was a working Tory politician - who no one ever mentions was in a party that wanted to back King George on continung the war in America (indeed, had the Tories not lost an election that was a referrendum on the war, it would have resumed and frankly, the Brits would have won).  When I was in college I read a book called Burke's Politics by FA Dryer, although I think the newest definitive work is called The Reactionary Mind by Corey Robin. I truly believe that Sir Edmund would have been kicked out of the Republican Party (though interestingly, not the Whigs) and wouldhave been much more comfortable with Barack Obama than anyone in the House Republican Study Groups - especially Bachmann, King and the rest and he would have blanced at McConnell's intransigence and Palin's stupidity. Like Obama, he would not want the ACA overturned just to give his party a victory (at least I hope not, if so, he would have no principles - as most of the principles in the Act are Conservative).

The Tridentine issue would have meant nothing to Burke, as he was not Catholic - indeed, the Book of Common Prayer of his day looked a lot like the New Order Mass.  It might have been a bit more traditional, but they were roughly equilvalent.  While there are some who missed the Latin and the paegentry, many just missed the speed at which the Latin Mass flew by - I suspect including some priests.  As for its language, the current Mass could have been lifted from the old Roman Rite - which is why some liberal parishes are upset by the term "and with your Spirit" - that being the most noticeable change - although any of us who have an old Tridentine Missal can recognize some of the old language on the translated page.  The new Mass is essentially a reactionary thing as the modern GOP is reactionary.

The modern GOP, on marriage and abortion issues, is also all about propoganda and raising the ire of its faithful - and it will continue to do so until the people it reaches with this message have died off.  Again, they are reactionaries, not conservative (and many don't believe the reactionary message except when it has to do with getting elected again).  Burke would not have approved of these things, nor of the racial tones in oppossing Obama, which play well in Selma and the Hillbilly Riviera (the Florida panhandle).  If you want to read further, see Senator Al Franken's piece on Rush Limbaugh - "Rush Limbaugh is a Big, Fat Idiot."  I suspect Burke would have thought it funny.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Links for 01/28/15 | National Catholic Reporter

Links for 01/28/15 | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: As for the Mormons, it is good that they are doing basic anti-discrimination.  As for Same Sex Marriage, however, which they dislike, the Courts have already forced it on them - which the Salt Lake Tribune fails to mention - although it is as much a capitve paper of the Church as most diocesan news rags. It is good that the Apostles are now supporting what the Catholic Church already endorses in principle (though is week on practice) - but neither makes the point that moral scorn is not religious speech, it is the equivalent of yelling fire in a theater.  Accepting gay equal rights, including marriage, will soon call for the courage to submit - the fun part will be when gay church members request that their unions be blessed (as well as polygamists - who have never gone away in Utah).  The issue is that many pastors (bishops) and priests will gladly do just that - it is the hierarchy that stops them now

On the fundamentalist who doubt climate change - a little real biblical scholarship reveals that the Noah story was a myth and the promise is assumed to come from God in a story, not in reality.  The same is true of fire and ice in second Peter.  Indeed, the evidence for man-made global warming is stronger than the evidence for the reality of Genesis (including the story of Abraham).

Nice verse for St. Thomas' feast.  My father took Thomas as his confirmation based on his writings - although much, if not all, that Aquinas said in the areas of sex and biology turned out to be wrong - although his not attaching a full ensoulment to the blastocyst should be more vexing to the Humane Vitae supporters - and probably is - though they won't admit it.  I wonder what Thomas would do if given the knowledge of gastrulaion.  I would hope the same thing I have.  For my Confirmation, my father urged me to take St. Thomas (he did not explain that he had).  I thought he meant Thomas (Juda Bar Jonah) the Apostle, who doubted - I should have taken it, as Thomas is the patron saint of the Romany, who  converted us in India.

Contra Tim Busch | National Catholic Reporter

Contra Tim Busch | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: The quandry of Tim Busch is interesting, but not to Tim Busch - who writes triumphantly on how is particular brand of ideology - where establishment campitalism and the free market really don't need to be distinguished and who exist in the warm cocoon of Catholic morality.  Sounds to me like he prefers that kind of morality that most of us on the Christian Left would call authoritarian - which is what Capitalism is as well.  Of course, because the Dean is likely an organization man (remember the term), he would not dream of turning back the money at this late stage.  I would only hope that some scholar at CUA (one with tenure and certainly not George Weigel - who buys into Busch's ideology hook, line and sinker and probably angeled the grant) does say something about the need for more collectivism, more unionism and eventually more employee ownership that eases the plutocratic capitalists out of control.  Sadly, I see no one who will do that at CUA, not even MSW. While it would be lovely if Pope Francis looked into and denounced this all - I suspect he has bigger fish to fry than a could of plutocrats funding what is self-described as the premier Catholic University in America (Georgetown may argue - both academcially and athletically with good effect).

Links for 01/27/15 | National Catholic Reporter

Links for 01/27/15 | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: Politico ran a story about the Koch brothers using almost a billion dollars for the next election cycle.  Dog bites man.  The Holy Father did a homily to his housemates about submitting to God's will - which hopefully every pastor gave given tht Gospel - that and someone left the toilet seats down (just kidding).  Interestingly, that is also the theme of most teachings at the Mosque (Islam means submission - of Obama talked about submission the right wing would freak).  The report of the Empowerment Project AFJN is online - as is their donate button if supporting Africa is something you do financially.

Noted Neocon, Peter Berkowitz (and yes, MSW, that is exactly what he is and you should look in a mirror) writes about free expression issues on campus.  The nineties are coming back with the whole speech codes debate. That he is riffing off of the murders in Paris is shameful, given that this has nothing to do with what happened at the University of Chicago. (sounds like a conservative protection program). Most libertarians would say that you get the free speech you buy as a student, since you bring our tuition and aid dollars to the party yourself.  Where I want to see free speech is at work - although since they are buying my speech they reserve the right to not use it anymore.  Employee ownership would solve that problem.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Weigel's 'To See Things as They Are' | National Catholic Reporter

Weigel's 'To See Things as They Are' | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: A few points, I am doubtful about whether Weigel is a neoconservative - for neoconservatives are folks who are otherwise liberal who support Israel and all the militarism that this implies.  If Jesus were here now, he would be standing with the Samaritans - i.e., the Palestinians, which include both the Samaritans and his family's surviving members.  As for Evangelical Catholicism, I still think this is a gambit to make nice with the Christian Right Evangelicals.  Since they are Calvinists economically, that is a bad idea.  Consumerism, by the way, is a safety valve for capitalism - and the percentage of the economy in consumption cannot be sustained. It is too low.  The other items in GDP are government purchases (excluding transfer payments) and investments.  Unless one is a supply sider or a socialist, there is nothing wrong with consumption in its current range.

This essay seems to pander to Weigel's funders or the funders of those who read his column.  That must include the Koch brothers, so this attack is stealthy.  The subtext has to be the coming encyclical on the environment - and Weigel, like most Koch apologists, fails to mention that the Pope is a head of state as well as Vicar of Christ.  Unless he is suggesting that this bit change, it is not Weigel's place to delegitimize his role on the Environment.  As for the bishops, they love this stuff - because they want aborton to be the number one issue - even though nothing can really be done about it except urging Catholics to vote Republican.  That is the true nature of the movement and the scandal is that the bishops are so deeply involved in a fraud.

Links for 01/26/15 | National Catholic Reporter

Links for 01/26/15 | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: I like where E.J. declares victory on gay marriage and acknowledges the status quo in items on abortion - but also the change for Republican women.  Sadly, however, no columnist or politician has clearly laid out that the fight to overturn Roe v. Wade is a red herring - whose purpose is fundraising and to distract the working class of the Republican Party with, what is the term, intrinsic evils (sounds like Carl Rove) so that they don't notice that Capitalism is screwing them.  Immigration is the new homphobia.

I commented on the Nuncio remarks.  He seems like he does not like his post in the Ukraine.  Pity, as he could do much good there in bring in piece.  I suspect that instead he will be posted to Malta, not the country, the order.  Burke needs a flunkee.

The Archbishop of Chicago has interesting remarks that I agree with - however in reality he is baptizing historicism - but that is not bad.  The truth is that the understanding of the truth changes with our languages.  That this is part of God's plan kind of puts Benedict's fears of the tyranny of relativism to rest.

Monday, January 26, 2015

MSW Responds to Professor George | National Catholic Reporter

MSW Responds to Professor George | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: On the Church and the Blastocyst, let us get our terms straight - one is only an embryo after gastrulation - and embryos are worthy of protection.  The same protection is not owed to blastocysts - and I don't know that any woman uses contraception lightly - its a serious thing - which is why it should be left to the women, not the Church (which, I keep yelling from the housetops, is wrong.  Period - and before Evangelicum Vitae, it was not entirely wrong.  Earlier, when the right of the disabled to not be sterilized was proclaimed (and nothing else) the Church was absolutely right - and still is when it rejects eugenics of the mentally disabled or the poor in developing countries.

As to warming.  It is a scientific question.  What are not scientific questions, however, are whether the science opposed to warming is bought and paid for by the Koch brothers or arises from independent research.  Everyone will agree, of course, that when people are hurt by warming - especially flooding - we must help them, mostly without regard to cost.  The sticky point comes when we address the degree to which capitalism is involved in keeping people poor or in harms way - or in doing those things, like burn coal, that are probably making things worse.  The burning of coal is not so much the problem as the capitalist motivation of it all.  And that is where the Pope's writing will pack the biggest punch - one which right wing Catholic writers, like Robbie George, may be quite fluxomend by.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Nuncio Disses Pope | National Catholic Reporter

Nuncio Disses Pope | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: All I have to ask is this,Thomas who?  Seriously, does anyone care about the opinons of an apparent American in Ukraine?  While I think the Vatican Secreatariat of State should cut the fool loose, that may only mean that some Archdiocese is stuck with him - and there is no justice in that either.  Still, I seriously doubt he is of any use either in defusing the Ukrainian crisis, as I suspect he has no love for the President either.  Pity that Malta is already taken.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Links for 01/23/15 | National Catholic Reporter

Links for 01/23/15 | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: The Pope's call to confession is the same one that any priest puts in his homily at this time of year, as Lent approaches. It matches the Gospel of the day and is hardly new doctrine.

As for Mollie Hemingway, the fact that she writes for the Federalist demonstrates her views are skewed and reading them is doubly proof. The 20 week ban has nothing to do with viability - that is 24 or higher (24 year old neonates will have a lifetime of issues). The 20 week ban comes from ultrasound findings that show this age has a response to stimuli - and most doctors consider this to be a reaction rather than suffering pain. As for the strength of the GOP leadership, I suspect that they were responding to funders who did not want a win here - as this would essentially settle the issue for now (although not in the right way). The grass roots may have lost but the people who profit from the issue won big - which no one at Federalist will ever admit.

As for Joni Ernst, no farm family can ignore subsidies unless their entire purpose is a family garden. No hypocracy there at all. My family in that part of Iowa has likely received much more than she.

Friday, January 23, 2015

The Mideast Mess | National Catholic Reporter

The Mideast Mess | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: The resignation of the Yemeni government over peace talks actually clears the air.  We now know why AQAP has been given free reign in their wastelands. Hopefully they can resolve this, but a stubborn AQAP political class invites increased bombinb, not by drones but by B-52s.  Call it the Nixonian strategy for peace - and yes, it did work.

My sympathies to the Saudi Royals, who quickly had a crown prince ready and able to carry on the regime.  They are firmly in the grip of the Wahabi faith and as long as that happens, the floggings, beheadings and support for ISIL and al Queda will continue.  I have no objection to the bombings in ISIL territory, but another place for some Nixonian diplomacy is with the House of Saud.  One bombing run should do it - and that is the one that is designed not to kill anyone. While Saudi is our friend, sometimes with friends like this, who needs enemies?  I think when they can sell us oil, friendship abounds - not so much in how they sponsor their version of Islam.

As to  the Cheneys, the Bushes are as friendly to the Saud family as they are.  Maybe more so.

Netanyahu is another of our friends who say they like our ideology unless it is inconvenient for him, which seems to alwys be the case with the Palestinian question.  Iran, however, is a red herring.  Any nuclear attack on Israel will kill as many Muslims as Jews (and some of those Muslims are actually ethnically Samaritan) - and that is before you count nearby nations and the fact that Iran is downwind of Israel.  Any nuclear action would be the ultimate suicde bombing and the new President is not that stupid, nor are the Iranian nuclear scientists.  Bibi has to know this, so all of these comments are for  public consumption.  The speech will have not impact - as only really intense partisans will watch it on C-SPAN. What is a lingering question is the choice between aparthied and something worse - and in Gaza worse seems to be the answer. As for Boehner, no one will remember his part in this.

To be President, one must be an optimist (and a little bit ignorant of how much time you will spend on the Middle East - and you certainly cannot campaign on a reasonable position).  There are solutions, such as a larger Pan Arab state under the Hashemite Dynasty - under a constitional monarchy.  Israel is solvable too if you realize that there was no large migration into it by the Palestinians - they were Samaritan Christians before the Muslim Conquest.  Realizing that fact ends the question of ethnicity - since the Samaritans are of the same ethnicity as the Jews - probably more so because they did not mix with Europeans.  The real problem is religion.  If Israel was really true to its claim of being a western style democracy, that should not be a problem, save for their American enablers in the Evangelical community.

Links for 01/22/15 | National Catholic Reporter

Links for 01/22/15 | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: Not really news that Jindal and Huckabee are both running for the GOP nomination and appealing to its evangelical base, which is why Bobby is calling himself and Evangalical Catholic.  Frankly, I like Grits and Gravy - and love Barbeque - though I don't think that Huck can escape his Christian Left governing history - I wish he would quit trying to.  Putin is an idiot and his stock goes up by looking like an idiot (at least with himself).  I would rather New York go for Catholic Charter Schools than tax credits, but I can see why the Cardinal wants it the other way.  Cuomo is willing to appease since he has his eyes on the White Houe as well and has his Almost Homemade problem.  I like her better than her show.

March (and More) for Life | National Catholic Reporter

March (and More) for Life | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: As I have said before, the March for Life is ill-timed, because it focuses on Roe v. Wade and its repeal - something that won't happen ever - as doing so would overturn all the equal protection law passed in his wake.  While many right wing bishops would love to get rid of gay marriage, legal sodomy and a variety of other things, while many Republicans would also stop counting Latinos as a protected class - doing any of that would be a disaster for liberty and charity.  The reason both sides have dug in is because the controversy is great for raising money on each side, both for staffs and campaigns.  No one wants to end that.  This is why I say the issue is a fraud - one that the USCCB should step away from.  If you want to shake things up - do that.  Withdraw from the March and leave the school kids at home until the pro-life side is ready to deal.

It was a pity that the Cardinal did not have a copy of the State of the Union Address when he wrote is speech.  Imagine the howls from the right if he had endorsed Obama's tax plan, which is what scripture demands, actually.  Acting like this all the time would change the nature of the movement.  It is not enough to scold the pro-business Republicans (is there any other kind?) once a year.  It should be a constant focus.  Let beatings commence until morale improves!

The pro-choice side needs to act like this message on economics is welcome - at least meet the Church half way.  Indeed, Obama himself endorsed a more robust protection of late term pregnancies in his second debate with McCain.  I am sure both sides said no thanks. This is the time for Obama to bo harder. It is not actually hard to find a total comrpomise on abortion - first trimester embryos probably cannot be saved by making them persons, because first trimester miscarriages would receive the same protection in law - and this would be difficult - especially for those families who have miscarried who face an interview with law enforcement (its already been suggested by the pro-life side).

After the first trimester, the problems multiply, because usually abortions at this point have a medical reason - althugh sometimes not a good one.  Of couse, if we want to save Downs Syndrome babies, we need to give the parents and the children a lot of free help - and by that I mean lifelong help (we should help all of the disabled as much). I dout the right wing is willing to do that - or to double down on Obama's call for a higher Child Tax Credit ($1,000 a month per child seems like the right level to me - so this is a double-double).

The Church also needs to ease up on its protection of every pregnancy.  A pregnancy that is doomed to end before live birth due to defects is better ended as early as possible for the health, if not the life, of the mother.  The moral standard for juding this issue is not the innocence of the child, but the danger to the mother.  Until that is realized, the Church has no place in the debate over late term abortion - even within the Church.

There is the whole sex thing too.  Pro-lifers, when challenged about the money thing go back to sexual responsibility and personal financial responsiblity. Sadly, the Church often encourages the former and does little to condemn the latter (one homily a year - anything more hurts donations to the Lenten Appeal).  Indeed, condemning teenage and collegiate sex leads young women and their parents to cover it up with an abortion. If you doubt that, survey a Catholic high school anonymously. We parents seem to be part of the problem here.  Encourage marriage instead - even the non-canonical kind - and provide for young families (fathers included) who seek an education - and not just through high school. Concerned that a sex plan will be used to pay for college?  Then find another way so that all youth, especially youth with children, can go.

Right now, its cool to celibate when you go to the March for Life.  Indeed, the sign at this year's March says that this view is generational.  This is usually only the case until virginity is lost, usually well in advance of marriage.  Men learn tolerance real quick about their partner's reproductive issues.  These young Republicans start thinking that the Demorcats have something to say after all - which is why some change is inevitable once the older marchers die off and end their role in the GOP nomination process.  Something might change, but not this year.  Not in time for Obama to get his tax bill through.

Where does that leave us? About where we are now in terms of abortion (unless aid to families increases).  I suspect that this is why the fundraisers for both sides care little about actually ending abortion.  The most they could do is not so different from the status quo, at least on the legal side.  Pity that.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Links for 01/21/14 | National Catholic Reporter

Links for 01/21/14 | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: Interesting links for, well, yesterday.  There are photos for the Battle of the Bulge, where Patton had to rescue forces that had gone too far anyway.  Oops.  The death rate at this meat grinder shows the how gross war is, even if it is necessary.

We are reminded that the March for Life is today - with Democrats for Life providing an option for liberals on everything but abortion rights.  As I have written in previous year, this event should be ended - for the movement, not the left's sake, because it keeps alive the meme that Roe can or should ever be overturned.  It won't happen and that focus keeps the movement right where the GOP wants it, as a tool to raise volunteers and money while doing nothing.

Ben Wittes, writing at Lawfare, is wrong.  The GITMO debate and how the prisoners are treated should center on international law.  These people are prisoners of war. While it could have been argued that the war was over once the occupation began, it is certainly over now.  It is not even a matter for US law.  Except for those involved in September 11th, everyone should be sent home - its what you do when your forces pull out of active engagement and Congress has no authority to stop it.  Indeed, Bush should probably be tried for not honoring the Geneva conventions on these "detainees" who are either POWs or kidnap victims.  At least Obama is allowing the Red Cross in.

Holt v. Hobbs came off as planned.  Alito's decision, while on the same vein as his writing in Hobby Lobby, shows tha the issues are different in the case but the law is the same.  He may become the go to guy for religious freedom issues in the future.  Interesting. Of course, there are a few lawyers I know who, had they been appointed, would have been equally great on this issue - whether they followed the same line or not - and you know who you are and are invited to comment on my page.

Obama's SOTU | National Catholic Reporter

Obama's SOTU | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: As a member of the working poor, without a digital converter on my TV (they are no longer $7), I was otherwise engaged selling tickets to American Sniper, et al when the speech came off.  I am not sure I would have listened anyway.  These things are now mostly political theater, especially when the President and Congress are of different parties.  This is mostly PR.  The best of these addresses, however, was the one hour talk that Bill Clinton gave without the teleprompter - because it had gone down.  Its the best speech we have ever seen.

The Middle Class is a nice theme, and Jim Webb's comments show he is positioning himself as at one time being the class warrior in the 2016 Presidential race who does not use the word class.  Sadly, talk of class warfare missed the lingering problem of people whose mortgages exceed the value of their homes.  This is one thing he could do by working with Fed Chair Yellen - but the issue did not come up.  It would have been nice to focus on the working class a bit more - if so they might actually come out and vote - there is little problem gettng the middle class to the polls.  Maybe if he were the socialist the GOP accuses him of being, it would be easier to do so.

ISIL, which is a varient of what they call themselves - the L is for the Levant, has Obama trying to do what worked in Libya.  Use American air power and let others put boots on the ground.  It might actually work - and I suspect his reference to American leadership refers to the almost automatic role American generals have in commanding any joint operation - even if it is behind the scenes.  The attempts to go after ISIL money are interesting, but I suspect the President was talking about the Wahabi money from Saudi Arabia, although it is impolitic to mention these things directly - it certainly got Sen. Kerry no love by doing so.

Immigration is the great failure of the last term of Congress - not because it did not pass - it was never going to - Tysons Chicken et al want their low wage slaves (not an exageration) and both parties ove the Food, Inc. money (indeed, when it looked like a plan was going to pass in 2010 the Anchor Baby issue came up to really poison the well).  This is yet another instance where strategy had political optics turmp progress - just like the failure to get a tax bill passed in the first part of Obama's first term.  This backfired when Massachusetts sent Scott Brown, the naked Republican, to the Senate.  It took 2013 in the waning days of the first term to get the promised tax legislation passed.  This time, instead of having the Senate propose a really good immigration law that could not be passed, it was loaded with compromise punitive language in hopes of embarrassing the GOP for not passing it.  The sound of crickets at Latino precincts shows exactly how that worked. Schmoozing instead of golf would not have helped - indeed, no one says no to golf with the POTUS, as long as the folks back home don't find out.  Duh! so much for for that personal touch.

Abortion is interesting.  His dig at the movement was justified - this unspeakably pro-choice President has indeed lowered the abortion rate - however going higher on the Child Tax Credit - much higher than he proposed, could have used a mention.  Missing was any talk of a compromise on late term abortion (which would have really riled NARAL Pro-Choice America (a term worthy of Karl Rove)) which would amend the Partial Birth Abortion Law to time limit it while including other forms of abortion, some that are actually more grissley than those prohibited by the Law.  He made a promise in the 2008 debates that he so far has not kept - although I suspect the GOP does not really care, since the law was designed not to be enforced but to give the Pro-Life movement a shot at overturning Roe yet again - putting their hopes on Roberts and Alito - who proved to be in the Kennedy-O'Connor wing, not the Scalia wing on abortion.

This may have been the last major State of the Union for Obama.  Next year the speech will occur in the shadow of the Iowa Caucuses and New Hampshire Primary.  I expect something very rote, designed not to rain on Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton's parade (both of whom I met the night that Obama announced his candidacy in Illinois - and if Obama had followed Biden's advice - which I gave him - ISIL would not be a threat).  The next on, in 2017, may not even happen - the tradition being to give the new President the floor soon after the inauguration in a speech that is not technically the SOTU, but does get everyone's attention. (I think the required speech is actually delivered in writing unless he uses it as a farewell address).

This was the last hurrah.  From what I hear, it was worth the price of admission. I did not see the speech in order to write this column.  It does not  appear that MSW needed to either.  The memes are a bit familiar.  Looking at the pictures is interesting, however. Obama is significantly greyer this year.  The office is aging him, as expected.  It means he is not phoning it in from the Andrews AFB 19th Hole.

Links for 1/20/15 | National Catholic Reporter

Links for 1/20/15 | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: It seems that Fr. Z misses John Paul II and his insistence on giving Communion on the tongue.  Z needs to grow up.  More important is the work of the Chaldean Church in the U.S. - mostly because of its service to Chaldean Catholic refugees from Iraq (and now Syria) - see the link, which pulls no punches on the effects of our optional war.  Bobby Jindahl seems to have stepped in it again by toeing the GOP line at a State of the Union address.  Poor guy can't catch a break.  I wonder if he was set up by the powers that be at the GOP?

Remembering Rev. King | National Catholic Reporter

Remembering Rev. King | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: Milton Friedman once pointed out that segregation was allowed to end when automated cotton harvesting machines were invented.  That is not far from the truth.  Dr. King and company helped society make an exit from a system that had outlived its usefulness - yet some clinged go for reasons of personal animus - and it seems they still do in the policing world and in the world of Presidential politics.  Using the criinal justice system to force labor from black men at a low wage is as old as the 13th Amendmentt.  The drug laws, which send whites to rehab and blacks to prison is another example of this - thanks to Jesse Helmes.

The economic policies that are meant to stop dependence simply made many people hungy - including many who are not black - thank you Bill Clinton.  Those neighborhood where sufferng has increased are less likely to work with the police in making the neighborhood better becaue they don't trust the police - and for good reasons - showing that the economic blight is related to police racsim.

While the Church was integral to the civil rights movement - lately it is hardly a friend to Obama and was not exactly a paragon of courage when the issue of segregated Communion rails came up.  Indeed, some of the current hiearchy seems to be in the forefront of those who would oppose this President, largely for political purposes while hiding behind concern for the unborn.  Needs work.

Before Ferguson, many of us said that the last great challenge of the Civil Rights movement was full freedom for Washington, DC (which is also an example of how some black neighborhoods thrive and others remain in poverty).  In the movement here, the Black Church is crucial - following King's legacy of mixing preaching the Gospel and seeking justice.  One leading pastor in the movement, Rev. Walter Fauntroy tells of how he an Marion Barry were setting up a headquarters for Dr. King at 14th and U Street where the McDonalds is now.  Dr. King's next stop was that office and he was going to dig in his heels to free DC.  We all know what happened next, leading many of us to believe that DC was a bridge to far for the establishment.  Sadly, commemorations seem to center around small acts of justice and annual eulogies and not around finishing his work.  Free DC!