Archive for November, 2009


Does God Hate the Kennedys?

November 29, 2009

After denying communion to Patrick Kennedy, the Catholic Church is holding American politics hostage. James Carroll on the Church’s rightward turn.

How reactionary has the Catholic hierarchy become? Let me count the ways:

• Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence “respectfully” tells Congressman Patrick Kennedy to refrain from receiving communion, a harbinger of what every pro-choice or pro-gay-marriage Catholic politician faces.

• Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl of Washington threatens to cancel Catholic provision of services to the homeless and poor if the D.C. City Council passes a law giving equal rights to gays.

• The Vatican, uneasy with the relative liberalism of American nuns, launches an intimidating investigation of U.S. religious orders of women, which, when criticized by Maureen Dowd, prompts New York Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan to complain of anti-Catholicism in the New York Times.

• In October, Rome violates a generation-long tradition of inter-denominational respect to invite disgruntled conservative Episcopalians to join a special new wing of the Catholic Church. Hostility to gays and rejection of equality for women trump theology, tradition, and even courtesy.

• Last week, more than a dozen of the most influential U.S. Catholic bishops (including Dolan and Wuerl) join far-right-wing Evangelicals like James Dobson in “The Manhattan Declaration: A Call to Christian Conscience.” Its co-author Chuck Colson (of Watergate fame) describes “a hierarchy of issues,” but the Catholic Church now has an issues hierarchy.

• On Capitol Hill this month, the Catholic bishops make clear their readiness to scuttle the entire package of health-reform legislation if they do not get their way on abortion restrictions. Health-care reform hangs in the Senate by a thread, which the bishops prepare to cut.

All of this defines a watershed moment. The Catholic Church is more than its hierarchy. Polls show that most Catholic laity dissent on multiple moral questions. But the bishops define the public face of Catholicism–and that face is now marked by a scowling moralism. In days past, the immigrant Church was defined by its core commitment to serve workers, the poor, and the marginal. Catholicism was a powerful partner in the New Deal, Labor, War-on-Poverty, and Civil Rights coalitions, and though there were always conservative bishops (like Cardinal Francis Spellman of New York), the Church did not make doctrinal or ethical conformity a precondition of its participation in the struggle for equal justice. That is why, across the 20th century, it was a force for progressive social change. That is over.

Read the full article at:


Dubai’s Request For Debt ‘Standstill’ Shakes World Markets

November 28, 2009

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Just a year after the global downturn derailed Dubai’s explosive growth, the city is now so swamped in debt that it’s asking for a six-month reprieve on paying its bills – causing a drop on world markets Thursday and raising questions about Dubai’s reputation as a magnet for international investment.

The fallout came swiftly and was felt globally after Wednesday statement that Dubai’s main development engine, Dubai World, would ask creditors for a “standstill” on paying back its $60 billion debt until at least May. The company’s real estate arm, Nakheel – whose projects include the palm-shaped island in the Gulf – shoulders the bulk of money due to banks, investment houses and outside development contractors.


Palin pardons the turkey….

November 26, 2009

Guest Essay: America Before Roe v. Wade

November 22, 2009

The following essay was written by my good friend Eddy Collins of Norman OK:

Few women now of childbearing age will remember the time when abortion in America was illegal. As much as some might want you to think otherwise, it was hardly a glorious time of sexual abstinence. Women, whether married or unmarried, had unwanted pregnancies and sometimes resorted to folk or even quack “remedies”. Unknown and untraceable abortionists operated from back-alleys, kitchen tables, and rented rooms—with few guarantees of medical knowledge, professional conduct, or even basic hygiene, and with no threat of a medical malpractice lawsuit if (or when) things went horribly wrong.

The men of that era who fathered an unwanted pregnancy often responded to such news with, “How do you know it’s mine?” Fortunately, if abortion is recriminalized, with modern DNA techniques such questions will be easily answered, particularly when the issue of child support arises.

Since abortion (and, in many states, contraception) was illegal, women whose procedures were botched were at great pains to hide what had happened. A trip to the hospital to treat symptoms like massive bleeding or infection could have been tantamount to an admission of guilt. Thus, official statistics of deaths resulting from illegal abortion would undoubtedly be vastly understated and unreliable.

As another holiday season approaches, families will gather together and retell each other their stories. What about that aunt or sister or cousin (or the dear friend from high school or college) who died suddenly, or is the “black sheep” of the family—the one who’s only spoken of in hushed tones? Was she one of “the girls who went away”: to an out-of-state abortionist or a home for unwed mothers? Did she put a “love child” up for adoption, willingly or otherwise? Has she felt the shame and guilt of her family and society ever since? (On this topic, I give great thanks to Ann Fessler, author of the powerful book, The Girls Who Went Away, and those who shared their stories with her.) What about the men of that generation? Did they ever “get a girl in trouble”, sweat bullets waiting anxiously for a girlfriend to “get her period”—or leave her before finding out? After all, it takes two to tango.

These were far more common occurrences than realized today—and they never found their way into the dinner table discussions on “Leave it to Beaver”, “Ozzie and Harriett”, or “Father Knows Best”. Ask your older relatives while you still can (the National Day of Listening is the Friday after Thanksgiving). You might be surprised at what you learn about your own family history and you might help release a dear relative from a private, personal prison.

No, Americans didn’t wake up one day and decide it would be fun to destroy fetuses. After decades of painful, bloody experience, we decided to stop forcing women with unwanted pregnancies to put themselves at risk of infection, infertility, and death.


2012 as per SNL

November 22, 2009

‘The Lost JFK Tapes: The Assassination’ takes viewers back to 1963

November 22, 2009

John F. Kennedy was only 46 when he died, and today marks 46 years that have passed since his murder in Dallas. The images of the crime and its aftermath may be seared into the nation’s psyche, but on Monday, the National Geographic Channel will premiere a spare and revelatory documentary assembled from digitized and restored TV news footage and personal film that virtually no one has seen.

Most haunting of these is Robert Hughes’ home movie of President Kennedy’s limousine approaching the Texas School Book Depository a few seconds before the shooting. The open sixth-floor window with the stacked boxes of the sniper’s perch is plainly visible.

(Read the rest of the article here.)

If you are old enough, you are sure to remember where you were on this day 46 years ago. It was a crime that changed history in ways that can never be known. Some call it a successful coup d’etat directed at American democracy. Questions linger about who was really responsibility for the assassination – and what their real motives were.

A school classroom in Dallas broke into cheers when it was announced that the President was dead. That couldn’t happen in today’s America.

Could it?


Republican filibuster of health care reform broken!

November 21, 2009

The 60-39 vote cleared the way for a bruising, full-scale debate beginning after Thanksgiving on the legislation, which is designed to extend coverage to roughly 31 million who lack it, crack down on insurance company practices that deny or dilute benefits and curtail the growth of spending on medical care nationally.

Not even one Republican was in favor of even debating those things. Who do they represent?