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Turzai Campaign

Written by Rob Rogers on .

I guess Mike Turzai grew bored of paralyzing state government as the Pennsylvania Speaker of the House. Now he wants to paralyze state government as Governor. 

20171120 Turzai Campaign

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Tax Reform

Written by Rob Rogers on .

Trickle-down economics is a fairy tale. It's a lie. It doesn't work. And yet, once again, the GOP is selling the lie to the American public in the form of their new tax plan. 

20171119 Tax Reform

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Elf on a Shelf

Written by Rob Rogers on .

Jeff Sessions is a terrible Attorney General. He lied about meetings with the Russians, had to recuse himself because he was too connected to the campaign, and now his memory is conveniently failing. As if that wasn't bad enough, he is an enemy of immigrants, blacks, sanctuary cities, LGBT, ACLU, NAACP, etc., etc. Not really the guy you want running Justice. 

20171117 Elf On A Shelf

 

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Bishops, messaging and optics

Written by Peter Smith on .

We're often cautioned not to use the liberal-conservative terminology of American politics to judge the actions of a religious body like the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Still, it's hard not to do so in regard to the actions of the hierarchs this week in Baltimore.

They called for reform allowing those who immigrated illegally to get legal, particularly the Dreamer kids. They called for gun control -- by name, using a term that's become politically radioactive even when children are getting targeted yet again in mass shootings in churches and most recently at a California school Their president called for some scaling back of the continent's nuclear stockpiles. They denounced racism, fiercely and unreservedly -- something that would have been banal just a couple of years ago, but which took on new urgency in an era when the president of the United States says there are good people in a white supremacist march.

All of this happened on Monday. Which might have been called Message-to-Trump Monday. One archbishop even said: "“You don’t make America great by making America mean.”

Then, in what looked like a a spectacular backflip to everyone but maybe themselves, the bishops had Message-to-Francis Tuesday.

Maybe other considerations were at play, like a desire for a "culture of life" emphasis rather than a "consistent ethic of life" strain. Those are two schools of thought that are easier to know when you see them to describe, but the former is more strictly focused on abortion and the latter equally anti-abortion but more broadly applicable to other things that end life prematurely, such as gun violence and environmental poison. But consider this: Pope Francis in 2014 plucked Bishop Blaise Cupich from a small-town diocese and made him archbishop of Chicago, one of the nation's largest archdioceses. Then Francis made him a cardinal and a member of a crucial Vatican congregation that recommends new appointments of bishops.

But if Pope Francis has given Cupich a coat of many ecclesiastical colors, his brother bishops were not going to add to the palette.

Cupich was on the ballot Tuesday to become chair of the bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities. The bishops always used to choose a cardinal to have that role, because the red hat symbolized the uttermost importance they place on opposing abortion etc.

By voting him down, it's hard not to see a fair amount of sympathy in the room for those taking issue with Pope Francis, those who see his approach as confusion when it comes to communion for the divorced-and-remarried. And one of the bishops' own consultants left under dramatic fashion, criticizing among other things Francis' choice of, well, bishops.

OK, let's assume for the moment that this vote wasn't intended to be about Francis. That the bishops just preferred Archbishop Naumann for this particular position. Still, one wonders if they consider it a positive optic, or one of indifference, that the narrative is as follows: The bishops rejected the American point man of Pope Francis, one of the most popular people below heaven for his pastoral outreach to the needy of all types. Instead they elected someone who has engaged in public battles over yoga and the Girl Scouts and has told pro-choice Catholic politicians not to present themselves at the communion rail.

Next summer, it will be Archbishop Naumann leading the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, the encyclical that formalized the prohibition of birth control. Most Catholics believe that's a personal decision rather than one left to the bishops' moral authority, a new survey confirms, and they put that belief into practice, if Catholic family size is any indication. Switching from optical to auditory metaphors, it will be interesting to see if the anniversary commemorations show an ear for this skeptical audience.

 

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Asia Trip

Written by Rob Rogers on .

Trump's trip to Asia reinforced his infatuation with despotic leaders like Kim Jong Un and Putin. He seems to want to be one himself. Some would say he is almost there. 

20171116 Asia Trip

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