Thursday, February 14, 2013

American Nuns Hope For Sister-Friendly New Pope

The Daily Beast ^ | February 13, 2012 | Barbie Latza Nadeau

Of all the scandals that have been pinned to Benedict XVI’s papacy, perhaps none has been more divisive than the so-called clampdown on American nuns last April. Its no wonder, then, that sisters across America are hoping that the next pope gives them a fairer shake. In an exclusive interview with The Daily Beast, the head of the largest group of American nuns shares what she is looking for in a new leader.
Sister Florence DeaconSister Florence Deacon. (Seth Perlman/AP)
The American nun scandal came to a head last spring when the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued an eight-page doctrinal assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), an umbrella group with more than 1,500 members representing 80 percent of American nuns. In it, they chastised the American sisters for “pushing radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.” They also accused the sisters of staying silent on a number of the church’s teachings on sensitive topics like euthanasia, women’s ordination, and same-sex marriage. A fierce backlash ensued when Father James Martin, a Jesuit priest and author of several faith-based books, called on the Twitterverse to start tweeting support for nuns under #whatsistersmeantome. More than a million tweets supporting the sisters followed. “There is a danger of backlash because of the esteem [in which] so many Catholics hold nuns,” Martin told The Daily Beast at the height of the scandal. “For many Catholics, sisters are the glue that holds the church together.”
Now the leadership of the LCWR hopes to start fresh with a new pope. “There were two investigations of Catholic sisters undertaken during Pope Benedict’s era,” Sister Florence Deacon, the current president of the LCWR, told The Daily Beast after Pope Benedict’s resignation announcement. One damning report quoted Pope John Paul II’s gratitude for the sisters’ “deep love of the church and generous service to God’s people” but then lashed out at the sisters for not toeing the Vatican’s party line. “While we appreciate this expression of gratitude, we found the whole process of the investigation flawed and question the findings and the mandate given to LCWR,” Deacon says. “We hope a new pope would be open to dialogue with the U.S. Catholic sisters and work with us to support our mission.”
Deacon says she was not surprised by Benedict XVI’s resignation. She said there had been rumors swirling around recently that he was ailing quickly. “I had heard from people in Rome over the past few months that he was visibly slowing down and that he was only working a few hours a day,” she says. “Putting those two facts together I was not surprised by his decision to resign.”
Nuns have no voting power in any church matter, especially when it comes to electing the next pope. But Deacon does have her own hopes for the future of the Catholic Church under a new leader. “I would like a pope who has had direct experience working with a diversity of people and who understands the joys and challenges of ordinary Catholics trying to live the Gospel in the midst of chaotic family lives and stressful job situations,” she says. She would also like a pope with an open mind. “I’d like one who is able to integrate church teaching and advances in science, psychology, anthropology … and who strives for understanding and acceptance of all persons.”
She would also like to see a pope who understands how detrimental it is to the future of the Church that women are walking away. “I’d like someone attuned to the voices of young people, especially young women who are leaving the church in the U.S. in large numbers because they don’t feel valued.”

“We hope a new pope would be open to dialogue with the U.S. Catholic sisters.”
One of the greatest dividing lines between the male hierarchy in Rome and the American nuns has been the interpretation of the Second Vatican Council, which, 50 years ago, loosened the rules for religious women. It was then that some religious orders stopped making the habit a mandatory dress and let sisters have more individual freedom in their lives. That freedom has been a thorn in the side of many cardinals who feel the sisters should be more conservative. Sister Deacon wants the new pope to remember that those decisions that came out of the Second Vatican Council were made in the spirit of renewal. “On this 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council it is important that we have a leader who is imbued in the spirit of the council, who appreciates the roles of the laity and of women religious who have accepted its call to renewal and who are committed to building a more just and peaceful world,” she says.
Kenneth Briggs, author of Double Crossed: Uncovering the Catholic Church’s Betrayal of American Nuns is doubtful that the Vatican will alter its official judgment against the nuns, but he says a new pope might change the church’s attempt to reform the nuns in light of that judgment.
“The Vatican and the LCWR are tiptoeing around each other for now; the sisters don’t acknowledge the charges, the three bishops don’t make preemptory efforts to enforce particular discipline,” he told The Daily Beast. “It’s shadow boxing of a sort. The reason for the bishops’ reluctance to be more aggressive, I believe, is that the groundswell of support for the sisters by the Catholic laity has provided a kind of political obstacle to Rome’s designs. Further alienating the laity during a time when the church in America is in crisis would likely deepen that tension.”
Sister Deacon won’t be in Rome when the conclave meets, but she does have a word of advice for the members of the College of Cardinals who will go into the Sistine Chapel in March to elect the next leader of the Catholic Church. “Recall the sense of excitement with which each session of the Second Vatican Council was received,” she says. “Vote for someone who can capture that spirit, who sees the church as being more than its leadership, but includes the whole body of its members.”

From His Very First State of the Union Utterance, President Obama Got It Wrong!

Forbes ^ | 02/14/2013 | Roger Pilon

From his very first state-of-the-union utterance last night, associating himself with President Kennedy, President Obama got it wrong, and it was mostly downhill from there: “51 years ago,” he began, “John F. Kennedy declared to this chamber that ‘the Constitution makes us not rivals for power but partners for progress.’” Great alliteration; bad constitutionalism.
Yes, in a very narrow sense the Constitution makes the political branches partners for progress. But it also, most definitely, makes the branches, and those with authority within them, rivals for power. Indeed, throughout the Federalist Papers we learn how the Constitution pits power against power in order to limit power – and government itself.
But limited government was the furthest thing from the president’s mind last night. As Senator Rubio responded, Obama’s “solution to virtually every problem we face is for Washington to tax more, borrow more, and spend more.” Even the Washington Post subtitled its editorial this morning, “Obama’s wish list.”
What then is the narrow sense in which the Constitution makes the political branches “partners for progress”? That takes us back to first principles, which Obama seems not to have encountered when he studied law at Harvard or taught the Constitution at the University of Chicago. The purpose of the political branches is to refine and run the institutional and legal structure the Constitution establishes. That will then enable private individuals and the private organizations they create to flourish.
And in a free society, that mainly is how “progress” comes about, not through government but through private initiative. For Obama, however, progress is mainly for government to engineer, through a vast array of manipulative regulations and government “investments.”
Not since FDR have we had a president with so little appreciation for our basic constitutional system, or so little understanding of basic economics.
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Obamacare Supporters Feel the Fear!

American Interest ^ | 02/14/2013

Obamacare supporters are unleashing a massive public relations campaign, turning to political networks and sports teams to help them sell the new law to a skeptical public. For the Affordable Care Act to succeed in expanding the ranks of the insured, many of the 30 million currently uninsured need to purchase an insurance plan in the new exchanges the law sets up. But advocates worry that it could be difficult to convince people to sign up for coverage. The WSJ reports:
According to backers of the law, enrollment faces big obstacles as polls and focus groups suggest a majority of uninsured people aren’t aware of the new coverage options or the availability of subsidies toward the cost of health insurance premiums. Many respondents also say they have had bad experiences with finding health insurance or paying medical debts.
“This is a very skeptical audience,” said Rachel Klein of Enroll America, a nonprofit group set up by the founding members of Families USA, a group that campaigned for the law’s passage.
While Enroll America is relying on door-to-door grassroots political action to build support for enrollment, other states are using celebrity power to improve Obamacare’s brand. But the law faces bigger problems than bad branding and a lack of awareness.
It might seem odd that the law’s supporters should need to convince Americans to purchase a plan, given that those who don’t will be taxed. But the tax will be less expensive than the cost of coverage. The minimum tax per person will be $695 per year. Higher earning individuals will have to pay more: a couple who makes $100,000 per year, for example, will be taxed around $2,025. That may sound like a lot, but the CBO estimates that the annual premiums for the least-expensive plan offered under the new law would reach about $12,000 for a family and about $5,000 for an individual (all figures can be found here).
This means that for a lot of people paying the tax will be cheaper than buying insurance. And since the new law prevents insurance companies from denying you coverage or charging you more if you have a pre-existing condition, you can always buy a plan later if you develop an expensive medical condition.
Over time, more and more people are going to figure this out. Many healthy people (especially the young and the single) will just pay the tax, knowing they can get it later if they need to. In the meantime, everybody with expensive health care problems will flood into the system, driving up costs and premiums. Then even more healthy people will choose the tax over the increasingly expensive insurance premiums, in turn forcing premiums up even higher.
Keeping this dynamic from undermining the new health care system is going to be one of the biggest tests Obamacare will face. There may be ways around it. As of 2010 Massachusetts’s similar plan has successfully raised its insurance rate from about 90 percent up to 98.1 percent. But it will be a serious challenge. This glitzy “buy insurance now” marketing campaign is a sign that the government recognizes this vulnerability and fears it.

More Coverage from Via Meadia:

Christopher Dorner Lives On As a Folk Hero (proof positive that liberalism is a mental disorder) ^ | February 13, 2013 | Margaret Hartmann

While most were relieved to learn that the bloody manhunt for Christopher Dorner had come to an end, for some it was the final step in the the fugitive ex-LAPD officer's martyrdom. During the manhunt, thousands of people rallied around Dorner, declaring him a crusader against police corruption, though he's accused of killing four people. On Tuesday night, a post on one of his biggest Facebook fan sites declared, "The spirit of Chris #Dorner will live on forever in our hearts, as an eternal flame - symbolic of the will to stand up in an attempt to eradicate those who would seek to oppress us, by any means necessary, when no one else would." Fueled by the claim in Dorner's manifesto that he was dismissed when he tried to report police brutality, as well as the movielike quality of his war on the LAPD, the ex-cop was quickly dubbed a hero by some. Earlier this week, dozens of Dorner flyers imitating the iconic Obama "HOPE" poster were plastered on a street in Riverside, California, near where a police officer was fatally shot on Thursday. Online supporters frequently referred to him as the "Dark Knight" and shared relevant Batman quotes. Hashtags like #WeStandWithDorner and #GoDornerGo appeared on Twitter, and dozens of fan pages were created on Facebook. The largest, We Are All Chris Dorner, has attracted more than 3,600 likes.
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

'Big Sis' Reasserts Unlimited Power to Seize and Inspect Laptops ^ | February 13, 2013 | Bob Barr

President Obama did not mention it in his State of the Union address last night, and there hasn’t been much attention devoted to it in the Congress of late; but, the fundamental right to privacy Americans have a right to expect from their own government, has suffered yet another body blow.

On the surface, things seem to be in order. For example, at the beginning of February, the Federal Trade Commission released a staff report outlining consumer privacy recommendations for developers of mobile phone apps. FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz called the recommendations “best practices” intended to “safeguard consumer privacy,” that would “build trust in the mobile marketplace.”

Unfortunately, the rest of the Obama Administration hasn’t gotten the message.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), headed by Secretary Janet (“Big Sis”) Napolitano, just reaffirmed its policy that Americans returning home from travels abroad are subject to arbitrary searches and seizures of their computers and other electronic devices.

The controversy surrounding warrantless and suspicion-less searches at the U.S. border has been brewing for years. In 2009, for example, Napolitano asserted the government’s right to inspect and detain electronics from all persons traveling into the United States, and to copy any information stored on those devices. Continuing this view, the department’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties last week released its “Civil Liberties Impact Assessment” of the directives after originally setting a 120-day deadline back in August 2009.

As has become typical, the report contends the government can have its cake and eat it too. Confusingly, DHS concludes “current border search policies comply with the Fourth Amendment,” but that actually requiring federal agents to follow the Constitution would be “operationally harmful without concomitant civil rights/civil liberties benefits.” In other words, what government is doing is constitutional even though the cost of following the Constitution would outweigh the benefits to be realized by the citizens. Clear? As mud.

Courts have long recognized the federal government’s robust power to inspect people and goods entering the country. After all, the very foundation of national sovereignty is a nation’s ability to protect its borders. Until recently, however, this “border search” power was reasonably considered to be limited to physical searches necessary to discover illegal contraband attempted to be brought into the country; inspecting a traveler’s suitcases, for example.

The proliferation of electronic communications devices -- personal computers, iPads, Blackberries, and what not -- and the potential treasure trove of information contained in such devices, however, has pushed the government to assert the power and the right to inspect such devices and anything stored thereon, under the “border search” provision.

In Uncle Sam’s view, because evidence of potential criminal activity can be found in a laptop computer’s hard drive just as in the tourist’s suitcase following a visit to Mexico, the former enjoys no more protection against government snooping than the latter. This limitless perspective, and the vast power grab reflected in it -- based on nothing more than the fact that a person has travelled abroad and is returning to their home -- is preposterous. More important, this assertion seriously undermines the Fourth Amendment’s guarantee against unreasonable searches and seizures.

The average American returning from a trip abroad likely -- and understandably -- assumes the contents of his or her electronic device does not come close to meeting the threshold of “criminal” activity, such as would give a government agent the right to seize and peruse their iPad just because they are returning from a vacation. Government agents at our borders and ports of entry, however, are undeterred by such common sense and historically-sound notions of privacy.

In Napolitano’s view, just because an iPad is being carried by an American student returning from a semester studying in London, instead of returning to New York from Los Angeles, it becomes fair game for her agents to seize, inspect, download and retain data; all without any suspicion whatsoever the device’s owner has engaged in any illegal activity.

The “exhaustive,” three-year study conducted by the Department of Homeland is as flawed as most government “reports.” Unfortunately, unlike many other such projects, this one does more than just cost American taxpayers money; it comes at a heavy price to their fundamental, God-given right to privacy guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment to our Constitution.

Remember Your Oath To Protect The Constitution, Mr. President

Forbes ^ | 02/13/2013 | Bill Flax

Mr. President, perhaps amidst the merriment surrounding the inaugural festivities you misremembered your oath. Sir, you solemnly swore “to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution.” But these few weeks hence, your State of the Union speech essentially disavowed America’s cherished founding charter. Many left-leaning pundits applaud your “bold” vision to radically redefine America.
President Obama, you are understandably emboldened by re-election, but you were not made king. Regardless of whether you agree with constitutional precepts, you’re still legally bound; still compelled by the sacred oath you swore.
Perhaps while lecturing college students on Constitutional Law you read it. What authorization supports the myriad initiatives you presented to Congress? Those few matters you articulated within what was entrusted to the federal executive betrayed a radical departure from the Founder’s vision. Defense at least falls within your legitimate purview, but your desire to push women into combat seem more about repudiating America’s heritage than buttressing her military.
The SOTU address advanced the progressive agenda suggested at your inauguration – which you delivered mere moments after vowing subservience to the very Constitution you have consistently abused in word and deed.
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

Rotten Roads Ahead: U.S. Infrastructure Is Falling Apart!

The Truth About Cars ^ | 2-13-2013 | Bertel Schmitt

The U.S. transportation system is in danger of falling apart, and will take down the economy with it, Bill Shuster, chairman of the House of Representatives Transportation Committee, said today while Reuters was keeping notes:
“If we don’t deal with this issue at some point, as I said, we will reach a tipping point and the transportation system may not recover and we will fall behind the rest of the world.”
According to Shuster, the U.S. transportation system has already “gone from being one of the top three, four (or) five systems in the world to now we’re 23 or 24, so we need to act.”
A recent study from the American Society of Civil Engineers estimated the United States needs to spend $2.75 trillion to maintain and improve its infrastructure by 2020.
The ASCE gave America’s roads a D-
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

How Rodney King spawned Christopher Dorner

WorldNetDaily ^ | February 13, 2013 | Jack Cashill

The Los Angeles Police Department ceased to be an active force for justice on March 4, 1991, when George Holliday turned over his amateur video of Rodney King’s arrest to the Los Angeles TV station KTLA.
With tape in hand, the media began what the late Christopher Dorner might call a surge of “unconventional and asymmetrical warfare” against the LAPD and police departments everywhere.
As in the Trayvon Martin case, the media edited and presented the tape to reinforce its favorite template: evil white racists oppress innocent minority. I say “asymmetrical” because in the King case, unlike the Martin case, citizen journalists lacked the means to fight back.
In 1991, there was no viable Internet, no social media, no Fox News. The mainstream media effectively controlled all visual imagery. The television viewer never got to see or hear the evidence that persuaded a Ventura jury to acquit three of the cops on trial and fail to convict a fourth.
“Viewed from outside the trial,” said the first President Bush in arguably his lowest moment as president, “it was hard to understand how the verdict could possibly square with the video.” The Bush view prevailed.
Prompted by horrific post-verdict riots, the officers were tried again in a federal court, double jeopardy in everything but name only. Among the scores of baton blows administered to subdue King, the sentencing judge decided that the final six crossed the line to illegality and thus sent two of the cops to federal prison for “only” 30 months.
The incident created two basic narratives, both of them harmful to the black community. The one that the cops received was “why bother?” Why be pro-active, why be aggressive, why try hard to protect the community if six extra baton strikes can cost you your job...
(Excerpt) Read more at ...

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Dorner -- Another Angry Fatherless Black Man With a Gun ^ | February 14, 2013 | Larry Elder

My new book, "Dear Father, Dear Son," talks about the No. 1 social problem in America -- children growing up without fathers.
In 1965, Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote "The Negro Family: A Case for National Action." At the time, 25 percent of blacks were born outside of wedlock, a number that the future Democratic senator from New York said was catastrophic to the black community.
Moynihan wrote: "A community that allows a large number of young men to grow up in broken homes, dominated by women, never acquiring any stable relationship to male authority, never acquiring any rational expectations about the future -- that community asks for and gets chaos. Crime, violence, unrest, unrestrained lashing out at the whole social structure -- that is not only to be expected, it is very near to inevitable."
Today, 75 percent of black children enter a world without a father in the home.
Divorce is one thing, where, for the most part, fathers remain involved both financially and as a parent. When I pressed the point of murdering ex-cop Christopher Dorner's father, one local news source told me his father apparently died when Dorner was small. He was reportedly raised, along with his sister, by a single mom. Little else is known.
In the documentary "Resurrection," rapper Tupac Shakur, who was raised without a father, said: "I hate saying this cuz white people love hearing black people talking about this. I know for a fact that had I had a father, I'd have some discipline. I'd have more confidence."
He said he started running with gangs because he wanted to belong, wanted structure and wanted protection -- none of which he found in his fatherless home. "Your mother cannot calm you down the way a man can," he said. "Your mother can't reassure you the way a man can. My mother couldn't show me where my manhood was. You need a man to teach you how to be a man."
Why is it when white murderers go on a rampage, the media quickly delve into the relationship or lack thereof with the killer's father? They want to know what went wrong with that relationship -- and when and how and why.
After Adam Lanza massacred 26 people and his mother in Newtown, Conn., NBC News reported: "A source close to the family said that in 2001, (father Peter) separated from Adam's mother, Nancy, but he still saw Adam every week. In 2009, the Lanzas officially divorced, when Adam was 17. ... But the source close to the Lanza family said that by 2010, Peter Lanza was dating a new woman, whom he later married, and Adam suddenly cut his dad off."
After Jared Lee Loughner murdered six and wounded 13 people in Tucson, Ariz., The Associated Press wrote that Loughner's "relationship with his parents was strained." Newsweek quoted a Loughner neighbor who described the father as "very aggressive, very angry all the time about petty things -- like if the trash is out because the trash guys didn't pick it up, he yells at us for it."
After Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 13 at Columbine High, one did not have to search long to read about their fathers. One such piece began: "The father of one of the boys was asked some years ago to jot down his life's goals in the memory book for his 20th high school reunion. His answer was succinct, straightforward and, it seemed, not unrealistically ambitious: 'Raise two good sons.'
"The other father prided himself on being his son's soul mate. They had just spent five days visiting the Arizona campus where the teenager planned to enroll in the fall, and recently discussed their shared opposition to a bill in the state legislature that would have made it easier to carry concealed weapons."
Five days after James Holmes killed 12 in the movie theater in Aurora, Colo., we learned from the Daily Mail all "about the glittering career of James Holmes' father, Robert, who has degrees from Stanford, UCLA and Berkeley and currently works as a senior scientist at FICO in San Diego." The article's headline was, "Did Colorado maniac snap after failing to meet expectations of brilliant academic father?"
But what about Christopher Dorner? The media seemingly imposed a no-fly zone of silence over even writing or talking about his father.
The Los Angeles Times, for example, wrote: "Dorner grew up in Southern California with his mother and at least one sister, according to public records and claims in (his) manifesto." Not one word about the father. We soon learn the mother's name and whereabouts. But the media are apparently incurious about Dorner's father. Why? Is it that the media expect a certain level of appropriate behavior from whites -- that when a white person commits a heinous act, we must necessarily explore what kind of relationship he had with his father?
But when it comes to black miscreants and their fathers ... crickets. Why? To ask raises uncomfortable questions about the perverse incentives of the welfare state, which hurt the very formation of stable, intact families -- the ones more likely to produce stable, non-paranoid children.