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"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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Note the date please--2008, the last Presidential election, not today's. No peaking or Gooling, etc. Guess first, then take a look.
We know too that whatever our differences, there is one law that binds all great religions together. Jesus told us to "love thy neighbor as thyself." The Torah commands, "That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow." In Islam, there is a hadith that reads "None of you truly believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself." And the same is true for Buddhists and Hindus; for followers of Confucius and for humanists. It is, of course, the Golden Rule – the call to love one another; to understand one another; to treat with dignity and respect those with whom we share a brief moment on this Earth.
It is an ancient rule; a simple rule; but also one of the most challenging. For it asks each of us to take some measure of responsibility for the well-being of people we may not know or worship with or agree with on every issue. Sometimes, it asks us to reconcile with bitter enemies or resolve ancient hatreds. And that requires a living, breathing, active faith. It requires us not only to believe, but to do – to give something of ourselves for the benefit of others and the betterment of our world.
In this way, the particular faith that motivates each of us can promote a greater good for all of us. Instead of driving us apart, our varied beliefs can bring us together to feed the hungry and comfort the afflicted; to make peace where there is strife and rebuild what has broken; to lift up those who have fallen on hard times. This is not only our call as people of faith, but our duty as citizens of America, and it will be the purpose of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships that I’m announcing later today.
Read it all.
But what Mr Obama really needs right now is a television superhero to help him to rescue the US economy. His inauguration as president in 11 days' time will take place in what can be described, without hyperbole, as the worst economic conditions the US has faced in at least 70 years. Data due from the Labor Department this morning is likely to show that the US lost more jobs, net, in 2008 than in any year since the Second World War. Economic activity in 2009 is likely to decline at its fastest since the same historic landmark.
Most alarming, not only is there no obvious end in sight, the evidence suggests that things are getting worse. Despite the bailouts last year, the financial system, crippled by the housing market disaster and folly, remains clogged and more big financial institutions are likely to be in trouble in the next few months.
The American consumer, the hero of the global economy in every period of weakness in the past decade - from the Asian financial crisis to 9/11 - has gone on strike.
Read it all.
I don't believe it's too late to change course, but it will be if we don't take dramatic action as soon as possible. If nothing is done, this recession could linger for years. The unemployment rate could reach double digits. Our economy could fall $1 trillion short of its full capacity, which translates into more than $12,000 in lost income for a family of four. We could lose a generation of potential and promise, as more young Americans are forced to forgo dreams of college or the chance to train for the jobs of the future. And our nation could lose the competitive edge that has served as a foundation for our strength and standing in the world.
In short, a bad situation could become dramatically worse.
Check it out.
President-elect Barack Obama will say today that the nation's recession could "linger for years" unless Congress acts to pump unprecedented sums from Washington into the U.S. economy, making his highest-profile case yet on an issue certain to define his early presidency.
"I don't believe it's too late to change course, but it will be if we don't take dramatic action as soon as possible," Obama said in a speech set to be delivered at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., outside Washington. Excerpts from his prepared text were released in advance by his transition team.
"A bad situation could become dramatically worse," he added, painting a dire picture — including double-digit unemployment and $1 trillion in lost economic activity — that recalled the days of the Great Depression in the 1930s.
Read it all.
President-elect Barack Obama on Tuesday braced Americans for the unparalleled prospect of “trillion-dollar deficits for years to come,” a stark assessment of the economic condition facing the country that he said would force his administration to impose tighter fiscal discipline on the government.
Mr. Obama sought to draw a distinction between the need to run what would likely be record deficits by any measure for the next several years and the necessity to begin bringing them down substantially in following years. Even as he prepares a stimulus package that is likely to total in the range of $800 billion in new spending and tax cuts over the next two years, he said he would seek to make sure that money is used wisely and that he would work with Congress to implement spending controls and efficiency measures throughout the federal budget.
“I’m going to be willing to make some very difficult choices in how we get a handle on his deficit,” Mr. Obama said, speaking about the dire fiscal outlook as he met with his top economic advisers for a second straight day. “That’s what the American people are looking for and, you know, what we intended to do this year.”
Read it all.
Barack Obama began work in earnest yesterday, twisting arms and stroking egos in Congress to garner support for a planned $775 billion (£525 billion) recovery plan for an economy he described as “very sick”.
On his first full day back in Washington since the election, the President-elect dispatched his daughters to their new school before heading to Capitol Hill to prepare for one of the most difficult inheritances ever faced by an incoming president.
At every turn yesterday, he underlined the gravity of the crisis and the need for national unity. After speaking with his economic team, he declared: “The situation is getting worse. We have to act and act now to break the momentum of this recession.”
Read it all.
President-elect Barack Obama and congressional Democrats are crafting a plan to offer about $300 billion in tax cuts to individuals and businesses, a move aimed at attracting Republican support for an economic-stimulus package and prodding companies to create jobs.
The size of the proposed tax cuts -- which would account for about 40% of a stimulus package that could reach $775 billion over two years -- is greater than many on both sides of the aisle in Congress had anticipated, and may make it easier to win over Republicans who have stressed that any initiative should rely relatively heavily on tax cuts rather than spending.
Read it all.
[BOB] ABERNETHY: And John, what do you see of particular interest to the Vatican and to U.S. Catholics?
JOHN ALLEN (Vatican Correspondent, National Catholic Reporter): Well, I think in many ways, you know, the mega story of ’09 is going to be church-state relations under Obama — both the promise and the peril of that relationship. I think that the peril is maybe a little easier to get our hands around. It would focus on the traditional life issues. The new president has indicated he intends to sign an executive order liberalizing embryonic stem — federally funding for —embryonic stem cell research right out of the gate as part of that first 100-days package. That certainly will produce some backlash in some religious circles. I think the deeper danger is if the Democratic-controlled Congress and the Obama people were to move forward with the Freedom of Choice Act, which is this piece of legislation that’s been around a long time, and you get different readings on how realistic it is, but in effect it would eliminate existing federal and state restrictions on abortion. The U.S. Catholic bishops have certainly made clear that if that were to gain momentum we would, in some ways, be back to a very serious cultural war in this country.
Watch or read it all.
Filed under: * Culture-Watch Law & Legal Issues Church/State Matters Media Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics US Presidential Election 2008 * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic
A short sampling being circulated among congressional Republicans includes items from a list compiled by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and from local reporting around the nation. Philadelphia seeks $100 million to redevelop land for a casino. Spirit Mountain, Minn., seeks $6 million for snow-making equipment. A zoo in Rhode Island seeks $4.8 million for a polar bear exhibit and other improvements. Las Vegas, home to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, wants millions for a proposed organized crime museum and a pedestrian walkway to the Tropicana Hotel. Missouri plans to spend the entire $750 million it seeks for transportation on highways, but nothing on mass transit.
These wishes provide Congress with an unparalleled opportunity to pick and choose, a decision process that would lead to the Great Mother of all earmark bills. The Washington Post reports that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senate Majority Leader Reid want to have the stimulus bill ready for Barack Obama's signature on Jan. 20, when he is sworn in as the 44th president.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McCon-nell of Kentucky and House Minority Leader John Boehner of Ohio want to slow the process down, with good reason. It is not enough to demand that projects be ready to go in order to create employment — the only criterion being applied at present. They should also fulfill a clear sense of national priorities.
Read the whole thing.
President-elect Barack Obama said that Democrats and Republicans need to act with urgency to address the “great and growing” economic crisis, warning of double-digit unemployment if swift action isn’t taken.
“These are America’s problems, and we must come together as Americans to meet them with the urgency this moment demands,” he said today in his weekly radio address. “If we don’t act swiftly and boldly, we could see a much deeper economic downturn that could lead to double-digit unemployment.”
Read it all.
America’s most irritating atheist is at again. That tiresome Michael Newdow and a bunch of other anti-God types have filed suit to bar prayer and references to God at President-elect Barack Obama’s swearing-in on Jan. 20. Newdow also filed lawsuits to remove prayer from President George W. Bush’s inauguration ceremonies in 2001 and 2005, and you may also remember him as the crank who tried to get the phrase “under God” eliminated from the pledge of allegiance.
Read it all.
The most thoughtful and interesting debate of the two-year-long presidential campaign occurred last August at Saddleback Church between John McCain and Barack Obama, moderated by Saddleback pastor Rick Warren. So it is notable that President-elect Obama's choice of Rick Warren to give the invocation at his Inauguration next month has brought forth hyperpartisan invective from the Democratic left. It has spent the past week conveying to the world its disappointment and disgust with the choice of Pastor Warren because he opposes gay marriage and abortion.
Read it all.
When Barack Obama takes the oath of office in just over three weeks, he will be confronted with the worst economic crisis since the Depression. NPR News Analyst Juan Williams talks about President-elect Barack Obama's plans for the economy.
Listen to it all from NPR.
Amid a drumbeat of grim economic reports, President-elect Barack Obama's top economic advisors met Tuesday to refine plans for a massive stimulus proposal, promising the money would not go toward dubious pork-barrel projects.
Vice President-elect Joe Biden met with seven advisors for an hour here as Obama vacationed in Hawaii. With the incoming administration acknowledging the stimulus plan could cost as much as $775 billion over two years, Biden seemed intent on reassuring Americans the money would not be wasted.
Read it all.
Liberals who see Warren as a garden-variety conservative evangelical defined primarily by his opposition to gay marriage accuse Obama of selling them out. Gays and lesbians enraged by Warren's strong opposition to gay marriage in last month's California referendum charge Obama with pandering to white evangelicals and fear the president-elect has gone out of his way to offend them in order to curry favor with straight conservatives.
But a more benign view on parts of the religious left casts Warren as the evangelical best positioned to lead moderately conservative white Protestants toward a greater engagement with the issues of poverty and social justice, and away from a relentless focus on abortion and gay marriage.
Read it all and also take the time to read an opposing point of view from Richard Cohen.
The growing alliance of Mr. Obama and Mr. Warren — each of the two publicly refers to the other as “friend” — suggests that Mr. Obama hopes to capitalize on the signs of potential generational and political divisions within the evangelical Christian flock. For his part, Mr. Warren is increasingly being spoken of as a kind of minister to the nation, a status previously occupied by the Rev. Billy Graham.
V. Gene Robinson, the Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire, whose consecration caused a painful divide in his church because he is openly gay, said that when he heard about the selection of Mr. Warren, “it was like a slap in the face.”
Bishop Robinson had been an early public endorser of Mr. Obama’s candidacy, and said he had helped serve as a liaison between the campaign and the gay community. He said he had called officials who work for Mr. Obama to share his dismay, and been told that Mr. Obama was trying to reach out to conservatives and give everybody a seat at the table.
“I’m all for Rick Warren being at the table,” Bishop Robinson said, “but we’re not talking about a discussion, we’re talking about putting someone up front and center at what will be the most watched inauguration in history, and asking his blessing on the nation. And the God that he’s praying to is not the God that I know.”
Read it all.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics US Presidential Election 2008 * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Evangelicals * Theology
Under fire for opposing gay marriage, influential evangelical pastor Rick Warren said Saturday that he loves Muslims, people of other religions, Republicans and Democrats, and he also loves "gays and straights."
The 54-year-old pastor and founder of Saddleback Church in Southern California told the crowd of 500 that it's unrealistic to expect everyone to agree on everything all the time.
"You don't have to see eye to eye to walk hand in hand," said Warren.
Read it all.
Faced with worsening forecasts for the economy, President-elect Barack Obama is expanding his economic recovery plan and will seek to create or save 3 million jobs in the next two years, up from a goal of 2.5 million jobs set just last month, several advisers to Mr. Obama said Saturday.
Even Mr. Obama’s more ambitious goal would not fully offset as many as 4 million jobs that some economists are projecting might be lost in the coming year, according to the information he received from advisers in the past week. That job loss would be double the total this year and could push the nation’s unemployment rate past 9 percent if nothing is done.
The new job target was set after a meeting last Tuesday in which Christina D. Romer, who is Mr. Obama’s choice to lead his Council of Economic Advisers, presented information about previous recessions to establish that the current downturn was likely to be “more severe than anything we’ve experienced in the past half-century,” according to an Obama official familiar with the meeting. Officials said they were working on a plan big enough to stimulate the economy but not so big to provoke major opposition in Congress.
Read it all.
Many of Barack Obama's progressive supporters feel let down by his choice of Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at the Inaugural. I understand why, but here's a different way to look at it.
The real story here is not that President-elect Obama has somehow blessed Rick Warren's views on abortion or gay rights, but that one of America's leading evangelical pastors has decided to bless the presidency of someone who is strongly pro-choice and committed to the civil rights of gays and lesbians. That's a rather extraordinary development.
Does anyone think the selection of Rick Warren means that Barack Obama will govern differently on social issues than he said he would during the campaign? I certainly don't.
Read it all.
Vice President-Elect Joe Biden said the U.S. economy is in danger of "absolutely tanking" and will need a second stimulus package in the $600-billion to $700-billion range.
"The economy is in much worse shape than we thought it was in," Biden told me during an exclusive interview -- his first since becoming vice president-elect-- to air this Sunday on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."
"There is no short run other than keeping the economy from absolutely tanking. That's the only short run," Biden told me.
Read it all.
Let me get this straight:
A 20-year association with a radically leftist, anti-American, racist preacher whom Obama referred to as a spiritual adviser meant absolutely nothing about Obama's judgment or philosophy, and illustrated only the bigotry of those who dared criticize it.
A 20-minute association with one of the country's most well-liked, mainstream evangelical preachers who happens to support traditional marriage cannot be countenanced and illustrates only the bigotry of those who would dare allow it.
President-elect Barack Obama may well be one of the 79 million members of the baby boom generation. But he's a late-wave boomer, a child of the 1970s -- as are half of the two dozen people he's selected thus far to help him lead the country.
Many of those Obama is bringing to Washington -- including his Education secretary, Homeland Security chief, Treasury secretary, United Nations ambassador and Energy czar -- came of age in the era of Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.
And their shared experiences offer insights into how they may govern: They tend to be less ideological than early boomers, more respectful of contrary opinions, more pragmatic and a lot less likely to get bogged down by the shibboleths of the 1960s, according to historians, marketers and pollsters.
Read it all.
Watch it all. I see in this piece that there will be an extended interview with Rick Warren tonight on Dateline for those interested--KSH.
RAY SUAREZ: Does this choice represent all of American religious thought, Mr. Cromartie?
MICHAEL CROMARTIE, Ethics and Public Policy Center: Oh, no, of course it doesn't. But what it does say is that -- what we need to know about Rick Warren is that he has become sort of the next Billy Graham in our country, sort of America's pastor.
In fact, I think if Billy Graham's health was better now, he would probably be the person doing this. But Rick Warren has become that person.
RAY SUAREZ: But it didn't sound like Harry Knox is too happy about the idea that this might be America's pastor.
MICHAEL CROMARTIE: No, that's right. And I would just remind Harry this is not a cabinet appointment. This is an invocation, a short prayer that will be a very nonsectarian prayer.
Rick Warren, by the way, has an amazingly great reputation with ministers of compassion around the world. He's an incredibly magnanimous man. And I think that President-elect Obama picked him because he likes him personally.
Read or watch it all.
It is difficult to comprehend how our president-elect, who has been so spot on in nearly every political move and gesture, could fail to grasp the symbolism of inviting an anti-gay theologian to deliver his inaugural invocation. And the Obama campaign's response to the anger about this decision? Hey, we're also bringing a gay marching band. You know how the gays love a parade.
Yes, the Rev. Rick Warren, pastor of the humongous, evangelical Saddleback Church in Orange County, Calif., has a sound message on poverty. And certainly, in the world of politics, there is a view that Barack Obama owes Warren for bringing him before fellow evangelicals, despite fierce opposition during the heat of the presidential campaign.
But here's the other thing about Warren, the author of the bestselling book "The Purpose Driven Life": He was a general in the campaign to pass California's Proposition 8, which dissolved the legal marriage rights of loving, committed same-sex couples.
Read it all.
Al Gore wants quick action on climate change. Sen. Edward Kennedy says health care reform can't wait. Labor unions want a bill making it easier to organize.
The American Civil Liberties Union is calling for the immediate closure of the military's prison for foreign terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The liberal advocacy group MoveOn.org urges a steady troop withdrawal from Iraq. The National Governors Association is pleading for billions in aid to states, pronto.
And, by the way, Mr. President-elect, the American Lung Association would like you to make all federal work sites smoke-free.
Read it all.
The team President-elect Barack Obama introduced on Monday to carry out his energy and environmental policies faces a host of political, economic, diplomatic and scientific challenges that could impede his plans to address global warming and America's growing dependence on dirty and uncertain sources of energy.
Acknowledging that a succession of presidents and Congresses had failed to make much progress on the issues, Obama vowed to press ahead despite the faltering economy and suggested that he would invest his political capital in trying to break logjams.
"This time must be different," Obama said at a news conference in Chicago. "This will be a leading priority of my presidency and a defining test of our time. We cannot accept complacency, nor accept any more broken promises."
Read it all.
President-elect Barack Obama's team is considering a plan to boost the recession-hit U.S. economy that could be far larger than previous estimates and might reach $1 trillion over two years, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday.
Obama aides, who were considering a half-trillion dollar package two weeks ago, now consider $600 billion over two years "a very low-end estimate," the newspaper said, citing an unidentified person familiar with the matter.
The final size of the stimulus was expected to be significantly higher, possibly between $700 billion and $1 trillion over that period, it said, given the deteriorating state of the U.S. economy.
Read it all.
BOB ABERNETHY, anchor: In Washington, speculation is running high about where Obama and his family will attend church after they move into the White House. Earlier this year, Obama cut ties with his longtime Chicago congregation, Trinity United Church of Christ, because of its controversial former pastor Jeremiah Wright. Kim Lawton takes a look at some of the Washington churches Obama may want to consider.
KIM LAWTON: If the Obamas want to go with an establishment mainline congregation, they may want to consider National Presbyterian Church. It’s regularly attended by cabinet officials, members of Congress, and Supreme Court justices. Congregational archives claim that most presidents since James Madison have visited the church at least one time. National Pres, as it’s called, has about 2,500 members, and note to Obama daughters Sasha and Malia: there’s an active children’s program with about 400 kids.
National Pres has a special Chapel of the Presidents, dedicated to Dwight D. Eisenhower. Ike was the last president to make this his church home. He was actually baptized here while he was president.
Read it all.
BTW, while...[the] folks in the Big Media churned out hundreds of thousands of words...waxing euphoric about the prospect for enhanced back office clearing of CDS contracts, the real issue is the festering credit situation in the front office. Truth is that the DTCC and the other dealers, working at the behest of Mr. Geithner, Gerry Corrigan and many others, have largely fixed the operational issues dogging the CDS markets. The danger of CDS is not a systemic blowup - though that will come soon enough. It is the normal operation of the now electronically enabled CDS market wherein lies the threat to the entire global financial system, this via the huge drain in liquidity illustrated above as CDS contracts are triggered by default events.
The only way to deal with this ridiculous Ponzi scheme is bankruptcy. The way to start that healing process, in our view, is by the Fed emulating the FDIC's treatment of DSL, withdrawing financial support for AIG and pushing the company into the arms of the bankruptcy court. The eager buyers for the AIG insurance units, cleansed of liability via a receivership, will stretch around the block.
By embracing Geithner, President-elect Barack Obama is endorsing the ill-advised scheme to support AIG directed by Hank Paulson et al at Goldman Sachs and executed by Tim Geithner and Ben Bernanke. News reports have already documented the ties between GS and AIG, and the backroom machinations by Paulson to get the deal done. This scheme to stay AIG's resolution cannot possibly work and when it does collapse, Barak Obama and his administration will wear the blame due through their endorsement of Tim Geithner.
Read it carefully and read it all.
Filed under: * Economics, Politics Economy Credit Markets Stock Market The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package US Presidential Election 2008
President-elect Barack Obama says he will try to "reboot America's image" among the world's Muslims and will follow tradition by using his entire name — Barack Hussein Obama — in his swearing-in ceremony.
The U.S. image globally has taken a deep hit during President George W. Bush's two terms in office, primarily because of opposition to the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, harsh interrogation of prisoners, the indefinite detention of terrorist suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and mistreatment of inmates at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
Obama promised during his campaign that one of his top priorities would be to work to repair America's reputation worldwide, and that one element of that effort would be a speech delivered in a Muslim capital.
Read it all.
President-elect Barack Obama says the historically black church moved him from a skeptic to a believer.
He has spoken appreciatively of its vibrant worship, written about how the black church experience has moved him to tears. And he has credited black congregations for their work in helping the powerless and in speaking truth to power.
But when he officially takes up residence in the White House, will the nation's first black president attend a black church? And, in a larger sense, does it matter if he does or doesn't?
Read it all.
His concerns go to the very core of how America lives and how Wall Street operates. A child of the Great Depression and a man of legendary personal thrift, Volcker thinks Americans have been living above their means for too long.
"It is the United States as a whole that became addicted to spending and consuming beyond its capacity to produce," Volcker lectured the Economic Club of New York in April. "It all seemed so comfortable."
Bringing consumption back in line with income would not only crimp individuals and families, but also require major readjustments in the global economy, which has relied on the U.S. as consumer of last resort.
Read it all.
MR. BROKAW: On this program about a year ago, you said that being a president is 90 percent circumstances and about 10 percent agenda. The circumstances now are, as you say, very unpopular in terms of the decisions that have to be made. Which are the most unpopular ones that the country's going to have to deal with?
PRES.-ELECT OBAMA: Well, fortunately, as tough as times are right now--and things are going to get worse before they get better--there is a convergence between circumstances and agenda. The key for us is making sure that we jump-start that economy in a way that doesn't just deal with the short term, doesn't just create jobs immediately, but also puts us on a glide path for long-term, sustainable economic growth. And that's why I spoke in my radio address on Saturday about the importance of investing in the largest infrastructure program--in roads and bridges and, and other traditional infrastructure--since the building of the federal highway system in the 1950s; rebuilding our schools and making sure that they're energy efficient; making sure that we're investing in electronic medical records and other technologies that can drive down health care costs. All those things are not only immediate--part of an immediate stimulus package to the economy, but they're also down payments on the kind of long-term, sustainable growth that we need.
Read it all.
President-elect Barack Obama added sweep and meat to his economic agenda on Saturday, pledging the largest new investment in roads and bridges since President Dwight D. Eisenhower built the Interstate system in the late 1950s, and tying his key initiatives – education, energy, health care –back to jobs in a package that has the makings of a smaller and modern version of FDR's New Deal marriage of job creation with infrastructure upgrades.
The president-elect also said for the first time that he will “launch the most sweeping effort to modernize and upgrade school buildings that this country has ever seen.”
“We will repair broken schools, make them energy-efficient, and put new computers in our classrooms,” he said in the address.
Read it all.
In fact, far from being the demise of the GOP, the coming generation of evangelicals, Catholics and fellow travelers can be the seeds for the conservative movement's intellectual rebirth.
A few years back, after I had published a National Review cover story about neo-traditionalism that would serve as the genesis for my book Crunchy Cons, I received an e-mail from a young Protestant seminarian. He had read the piece, he said, and finally his conservatism made sense to him. Progressive evangelical Jim Wallis had lectured his seminary class and talked about how they had a duty to help the poor, to build up communities, to care for the environment and suchlike.
The man told me that he and his classmates agreed with all of it, but when Wallis got to the part about why they should become Democrats, it ended that. The seminarians, my correspondent explained, all knew that they were conservatives and couldn't accept liberal dogma on abortion and sexuality, nor statist solutions. Even so, these young conservative evangelicals were far more sympathetic to most of Wallis' goals than their parents would have been.
And why not? Shocking as it might be to some, conservatism did not start with Ronald Reagan. There is a rich and varied library of postwar writing by men such as Russell Kirk, Richard Weaver and Robert Nisbet, who were part of the traditionalist conservative school. Traditionalist conservatives focused on questions of cultural and social health; libertarian conservatives were more concerned about the economy and the overweening state.
Read it all.
President-elect Obama wants America to know he is not just about spending money.
Once the economy starts growing again – his first priority – he will get out the knife and start to cut programs that have "outlived their usefulness." In short, he wants to also be known as a budget reformer.
In a press conference Tuesday, Mr. Obama characterized trimming federal programs as "not an option; it's a necessity." He promised that Peter Orszag, whom he has picked to run the Office of Management and Budget, will go through the $2.9 trillion US budget line by line, page by page, looking for better and less expensive ways to do things.
Read it all.
We debated the merits of collective wisdom earlier this year, after the bettors in the the Intrade online prediction market wrongly picked Barack Obama to win the New Hampshire primary. The bettors are looking more savvy now that the election’s over and the last undecided state, Missouri, has finally been called for John McCain. Once again, collective wisdom backed by cash has triumphed over conventional wisdom — at least when you compare the Intrade bettors with some of the pundits who get paid to make predictions.
On the morning of Election Day, I printed out the expectations from the Dublin-based Intrade market as well as a roundup of predictions from nearly two dozen political consultants, journalists and academics that appeared at the Huffington Post.
The Intrade bettors expected Mr. Obama to end up with 364 votes in the Electoral College — one less than he actually got. None of the pundits came so close.
Read it all.
The history of past recessions suggests that President-elect Obama has set a difficult but not impossible target for economic recovery: 2.5 million more jobs within two years.
By announcing this specific goal, alongside a stimulus plan and a team of top economic officials, Mr. Obama signaled that he is focused squarely on the challenge of job losses and an erosion of economic confidence.
He plans to ramp up spending on everything from roads and schools to solar panels and investments in energy efficiency.
The task ahead is formidable.
Read it all.
This is the real "Code Red." As one banker remarked to me: "We finally found the WMD." They were buried in our own backyard - subprime mortgages and all the derivatives attached to them.
Yet, it is obvious that President Bush can't mobilize the tools to defuse them - a massive stimulus program to improve infrastructure and create jobs, a broad-based homeowner initiative to limit foreclosures and stabilize housing prices, and therefore mortgage assets, more capital for bank balance sheets and, most importantly, a huge injection of optimism and confidence that we can and will pull out of this with a new economic team at the helm.
The last point is something only a new President Obama can inject. What ails us right now is as much a loss of confidence - in our financial system and our leadership - as anything else. I have no illusions that Obama's arrival on the scene will be a magic wand, but it would help.
Right now there is something deeply dysfunctional, bordering on scandalously irresponsible, in the fractious way our political elite are behaving - with business as usual in the most unusual economic moment of our lifetimes. They don't seem to understand: Our financial system is imperiled.
Read it all.
Filed under: * Economics, Politics Economy The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package Politics in General US Presidential Election 2008
President-elect Barack Obama has signaled that he will pursue a far more ambitious plan of spending and tax cuts than anything he outlined on the campaign trail — a plan "big enough to deal with the huge problem we face,” a top adviser said Sunday — setting the tone for a recovery effort that could absorb and define much of his term.
A member of the Obama economic advisory team, William M. Daley, acknowledged that because of the gravity of the situation, Mr. Obama was leaning toward letting a Bush tax cut for the wealthy expire on schedule in 2011 rather than repealing it sooner.
There were hints Sunday that a stimulus package might be extraordinarily large. Austan Goolsbee, a senior Obama economic adviser, charged that the Bush administration had “dithered” as the economy turned down and suggested that the incoming administration would take dramatic action.
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President-elect Barack Obama will name former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers the director of his National Economic Council, placing the Harvard University economist he passed over for Treasury secretary inside the White House as his closest economic adviser, Democratic officials said Saturday night.
The move came as the president-elect prepares Monday to introduce his new Treasury secretary nominee, Timothy Geithner, and the rest of his economic team at an event in Chicago Monday. Among those on stage will be Mr. Summers, who was central to his campaign's economic team and is now leading efforts to draft a massive economic stimulus plan the president-elect hopes to sign into law as one of his first acts as the nation's leader.
Mr. Obama has instructed his economic advisers to draft a stimulus that could dwarf the $175 billion version he campaigned on, stretching it over two years and pushing to create 2.5 million new jobs with it.
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Whatever our personal views on this election might be, the outcome is the same for all of us. All of us, no matter what our political perspective or our hopes for our nation and our world, are in this together.
Part of the deep tradition of the Episcopal Church is to pray for our leaders: rarely if ever have these prayers been more needed. Our nation and our world face vast and staggeringly complex problems; none of which can be solved quickly and easily. The problems are economic but they are aspirational as well. Bluntly put: how do we pay for things, and why do we make the particular choices that we do. As we answer that question we raise the deepest question of all: to what end do we live and move and have our being?
These will be testing times; times that, unless we are careful, will tempt us to pit one part of the population against another. Increasingly it will become clear to all that the journey will be long and it will be difficult. Speaking in economic terms, there will be a price to be paid: no one will be exempt. That being said, it is of fundamental importance that we, as a people, not give in to the temptation to balance budgets at the expense of those who simply lack the power to make their needs heard: the poor and those who serve the poor. However, sad to say, if history is any indicator, this is exactly what will happen.
I find it more than a little ironic that when the issue of meeting basic human needs is raised: be that education, or healthcare, or housing for the homeless, a common objection is the firm and wise sounding declaration: you know, you can't just throw money at a problem. And yet, when financial institutions are in crisis, led by the very well paid people, who did so much to bring us this crisis in the first place, when they ask for aid that is exactly what happens. Money has been thrown at the problem. And it has been thrown without a really clear understanding of exactly what it will actually accomplish. As you know so well, we're not talking here about billions of dollars, or tens of billions, not even hundreds of billions, but, in the end, something in excess of a trillion dollars. In human terms this is more money than the human mind can fathom.
Mind you, I am not saying that this shouldn't be done, or that it won't work. What I am saying is that we should keep all these things in perspective and be mindful of just who finally is asked to actually pay the price for the national excess that has brought us to this sad moment.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Bishops TEC Diocesan Conventions/Diocesan Councils * Economics, Politics Economy The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package US Presidential Election 2008
He was a career staffer in the international affairs division of the Treasury Department in the early 1990s when then-undersecretary Lawrence H. Summers noticed and promoted him. By the end of the Clinton administration, Summers was Treasury secretary and [Tim] Geithner was an undersecretary. Now, Obama is apparently passing over Summers for his onetime protege, though Summers is also said to be returning to government as a White House adviser.
In congressional testimony following the March rescue of Bear Stearns, Geithner and other officials faced tough questions about their actions. An angry Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) demanded to know how the financial system became so fragile. The chairman of the Fed, a Treasury undersecretary and the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission sat silently.
Geithner responded: "What produced this is a very complicated mix of factors. I don't think anybody understands it yet. But we have to spend a lot of time and effort trying to figure out how to get a better handle on this sort of stuff . . . because it's very important that we try to figure out a way to make this system less vulnerable to this in the future."
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Things are looking up for substantive reform of America's troubled health-care system.
No one who knows the history of such efforts, from Harry Truman's administration through Bill Clinton's, needs to be reminded of the difficulties that inevitably confront any plan to overhaul one-seventh of the U.S. economy and bring high-quality medicine to millions of the uninsured.
But developments at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue last week -- and across the country -- pointed up both the urgency of the problem and the prospects for seeing significant action.
When Barack Obama's transition team let out word that former Senate majority leader Tom Daschle would be his choice to run the Department of Health and Human Services and to quarterback his work on health reform, it signaled that Obama is serious about his campaign promise to make that issue a first-term priority.
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"The reality is that the cathedral serves as a sacred space for the nation," says Sam Lloyd, dean of the cathedral. "A place the nation looks to in critical times."
Washington National Cathedral also transcends politics and even the separation of religions. Though nominally an Episcopal church, it welcomes everyone. It is at once deeply Christian and deeply interfaith. The Episcopal Church has a long history of inclusiveness. The first black bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, John Walker, presided there. Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, the first female presiding bishop in the Episcopal Church, was inducted there. And Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson of the Diocese of New Hampshire was the first openly gay bishop in Christendom.
"We are a place that welcomes people of all faiths and no faith," says Lloyd, echoing Barack Obama's words of two years ago. "Whatever we once were," Obama said then, "we're no longer just a Christian nation. At least not just. We are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation and a Buddhist nation and a Hindu nation and a nation of nonbelievers."
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) TEC Parishes * Christian Life / Church Life Parish Ministry * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics US Presidential Election 2008
President-elect Barack Obama has instructed his economic team to develop a plan to create 2.5 million jobs over the next two years, suggesting that he intends to push a more expensive package to stimulate the economy than he has so far proposed.
Speaking during the Democrats' weekly radio address, Obama said that his team would work out the details of the package in the coming weeks but that he expects to present it to Congress in January and to sign it into law soon after taking office.
It will be a two-year nationwide effort to jumpstart job creation in America and lay the foundation for a strong and growing economy, Obama said. "We'll put people back to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, modernizing schools that are failing our children, and building wind farms and solar panels," as well as fuel-efficient cars.
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It is interesting that Obama chose Geithner over Larry Summers and other names like Paul Volcker. Geithner is a young guy at 47 years old. And to the country at large and most of the Washington political establishment, he’s a new face.
Yes indeed, change is coming.
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One problem is that this is an especially bad time to have a Presidential transition. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson has more or less announced that he's done making major policy calls, save for an emergency. He understandably -- if a little too loudly amid a panic -- wants to leave the field to the new Administration. Yet President-elect Barack Obama has seemed in no hurry to assemble an economic team, or perhaps he simply hasn't been able to settle on one. With nerves as taut as they are, picking an HHS Secretary...before a Treasury chief is a rookie mistake.
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The Pope's top aides may have already informed Benedict about a campaign promise Obama made on July 17, 2007, to Planned Parenthood, stating that his first act as President would be to sign the Freedom of Choice Act, which would undo legislation that put restrictions on access to abortions. Some Catholics have warned that such a decree, which would essentially codify Roe v. Wade into federal law, could force doctors in Catholic hospitals to perform abortions against their conscience. "There's more fear here than wrath," a senior Vatican official told TIME with regard to the Catholic hierarchy's attitude toward Obama. However, if Obama signs the Freedom of Choice Act in his first months in office, "it would be the equivalent of a war," says the same official. "It would be like saying, 'We've heard the Catholic Church and we have no interest in their concerns.' " U.S. Catholic bishops at a meeting in Baltimore last week vowed to take on Obama for his support of abortion rights; they are also skeptical about his assurances to try to reduce the number of abortions while supporting the right to choose.
Even before the election, Democrats were warned not to risk becoming the "party of death," according to former St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke. It was Burke who famously pledged in 2004 to deny communion to the pro-choice Catholic presidential candidate John Kerry. The archbishop has since been promoted to Rome as head of the Holy See's equivalent of a Supreme Court. Meanwhile, in response to a question last week on Obama's pledge to reverse Washington's policy on stem-cell research, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, who heads the Vatican office for health, made it clear that the church will not shy away from the debate. "What builds up man is good, what destroys him is bad," he told reporters, arguing that one human being should never become a material resource for the betterment of another.
Nevertheless, 54% of U.S. Catholic voters supported Obama, who is Protestant. That may give him the cover to move ahead with his pledges.
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Filed under: * Culture-Watch Life Ethics Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics US Presidential Election 2008 * Religion News & Commentary Other Churches Roman Catholic Pope Benedict XVI * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology
Obama's days of walking on water won't last indefinitely. His chroniclers will need a new story line. And sometime after Jan. 20, they will wade back into reality.
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Hillary Clinton plans to accept the job of secretary of state offered by Barack Obama, who is reaching out to former rivals to build a broad coalition administration, the Guardian has learned.
Obama's advisers have begun looking into Bill Clinton's foundation, which distributes millions of dollars to Africa to help with development, to ensure that there is no conflict of interest. But Democrats do not believe that the vetting is likely to be a problem.
Clinton would be well placed to become the country's dominant voice in foreign affairs, replacing Condoleezza Rice. Since being elected senator for New York, she has specialised in foreign affairs and defence. Although she supported the war in Iraq, she and Obama basically agree on a withdrawal of American troops.
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“It’s ushered in a new generation of leadership,” said [the Rev.] Mr. [David] Brawley, 40, the incoming pastor of Saint Paul Community Baptist Church in Brooklyn. “It symbolizes the Moses generation passing the baton to the Joshua generation. So the Obama presidency presents us with both an opportunity and a challenge.”
The shift is more than simply chronological. The generational dividing line during the Democratic primaries found many of the established leaders of black Christianity — Calvin O. Butts III, Floyd H. Flake, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Suzan Johnson Cook — either supporting Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton or staying conspicuously neutral. Mr. Obama’s director of religious affairs, meanwhile, was a 25-year-old Pentecostal minister, Joshua Dubois.
By their life experiences alone, the younger echelon of black clergy sees America differently than the elders whom it learned from and indeed reveres.
Mr. Obama’s speech on race in Philadelphia last March made this exact point, as he tried to distinguish his moderate stance from the sharp, prophetic rhetoric of his longtime pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago.
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President-elect Barack Obama said the government needs to provide help to U.S. automakers on condition that management, labor and lenders come up with a plan to make the industry ``sustainable.''
``For the auto industry to completely collapse would be a disaster in this kind of environment -- not just for individual families but the repercussions across the economy would be dire,'' Obama said in an interview broadcast this evening on CBS News's ``60 Minutes.'' Government aid could come in the form of a ``bridge loan,'' he suggested.
Under normal circumstances, Obama said, allowing General Motors Corp. to enter bankruptcy, undergo a restructuring and then emerge as ``a viable operation'' might have been a preferred route. If that were to happen now, he said, ``you could see the spigot completely shut off so that it would not potentially permit GM to get back on its feet.''
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As for Mr Obama, he has a chance to restore America’s moral leadership. That is not something he should do by scouring the world in search of new monsters to slay. Nor, though, can a war-weary America turn its back on people threatened by ethnic cleansing or genocide. Since 2005 the UN has accepted a responsibility to protect people in such cases, so this is not a burden for America alone. But since the UN has no army, and no other countries have the military resources America boasts, there may be times when only the superpower can move soldiers swiftly where they are needed.
Should that call come, Mr Obama will need the courage to respond, notwithstanding Americans’ fatigue. In extremis, if the danger is great and veto-wielding members of the Security Council block the way, he and others might have to act without the Security Council’s blessing, as NATO did in Kosovo. Far better would be an early effort by Mr Obama to reach agreement on the rules to apply and forces to earmark so that the UN can actually exercise its collective responsibility to protect. That will be hard, but Mr Bush was actively hostile to such work. How fitting if the next president made possible a genuinely global response to the next Rwanda, Congo or Darfur.
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As you know, there are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a church. Finding a comfortable theological fit is key. Good music is important, as are activities for the kids. You don't want to be stuck at a church with mediocre potluck fare. The old adage that 11 o'clock on Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in America is still largely true, but I'm guessing you'll want to find a congregation that has at least some racial diversity. That will be difficult if you want to find another UCC church, which is, as you know, a predominantly white denomination. And let's be honest: a top concern will be finding a pastor who is, shall we say, not Jeremiah Wright....
Your predecessors dealt with church attendance in various ways. Jimmy Carter taught Sunday school at a Baptist church in Virginia while he was President. Ronald Reagan didn't go to church at all, citing the hassle of making a church set up security screening for parishioners. The Clintons drove down the street every Sunday to Foundry United Methodist, where Chelsea sang in the youth choir. George W. Bush never became a regular member of any local church, preferring to worship most often at the chapel at Camp David.
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4. A Republican candidate could have won the presidency this year.
I doubt it. In the hastily penned postmortems of campaign '08, much of the blame for McCain's loss seems to have fallen at the feet of the candidate and his advisers, who (so the narrative goes) made a series of lousy strategic decisions that wound up costing the Arizona senator the White House. There's little question that some of the choices McCain and his team made -- the most obvious being the impulsive decision to suspend his campaign and try to broker a deal on the financial rescue bill, only to see his efforts blow up in his face -- did not help. But a look at this year's political atmospherics suggests that the environment was so badly poisoned that no Republican -- not Mitt Romney, not Mike Huckabee, not even the potential future GOP savior, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal -- could have beaten Obama on Nov. 4.
Why not? Three words (and a middle initial): President George W. Bush.
In the national exit poll, more than seven in 10 voters said that they disapproved of the job Bush was doing; not surprisingly, Obama resoundingly won that group, 67 percent to 31 percent. But here's an even more stunning fact: While 7 percent of the exit-poll sample strongly approved of the job Bush was doing, a whopping 51 percent strongly disapproved. Obama won those strong disapprovers 82 percent to 16 percent. And Bush's approval numbers looked grim for the GOP even before the September financial meltdown.
Just one in five voters in the national exit polls said that the country was "generally going in the right direction." McCain won that group 71 percent to Obama's 27 percent. But among the 75 percent of voters who said that the country was "seriously off on the wrong track," Obama had a thumping 26-point edge.
Those numbers speak to the damage that eight years of the Bush administration have done to the Republican brand. It's a burden that any candidate running for president with an "R" after his -- or her -- name would have had to drag around the country.
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Sorry, Mr. President. Please surrender your BlackBerry.
Those are seven words President-elect Barack Obama is dreading but expecting to hear, friends and advisers say, when he takes office in 65 days.
For years, like legions of other professionals, Mr. Obama has been all but addicted to his BlackBerry. The device has rarely been far from his side — on most days, it was fastened to his belt — to provide a singular conduit to the outside world as the bubble around him grew tighter and tighter throughout his campaign.
“How about that?” Mr. Obama replied to a friend’s congratulatory e-mail message on the night of his victory.
But before he arrives at the White House, he will probably be forced to sign off. In addition to concerns about e-mail security, he faces the Presidential Records Act, which puts his correspondence in the official record and ultimately up for public review, and the threat of subpoenas. A decision has not been made on whether he could become the first e-mailing president, but aides said that seemed doubtful.
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Q: There’s been a lot of discussion about whether the bishops’ teaching on voting is too nuanced, because it was used in all kinds of ways by all kinds of groups during this election, because it said Catholics are not single-issue voters. What do you think?
A: I think that most Catholics understand what the church’s teachings are and those voter guide things are always problematic but I think in general people understand. It was interesting, if one considers Massachusetts, which is so overwhelmingly Democratic, and 8 years ago Gore got 75 percent of the Catholic vote and four years ago, Kerry, who is Catholic and from Massachusetts, got 50 percent of it, so they lost 25 percent of the vote in four years, and I think a lot of that was the influence of people’s concerns about life issues and things like that. And obviously when you look at the differential between the way that Catholics who are church-going Catholics vote and those who are not church going Catholics, I think that the Catholics reflect the church’s teaching. Not as much as we’d like them to, but certainly this last election there were many other factors that intervened.
Q: You just alluded to the fact that many of the people in your archdiocese are Catholics who support abortion rights, including leading politicians, and both US senators. What is your position on whether they should present themselves for Communion, and whether you should be giving it to them?
A: The church’s teaching on worthiness for Communion and proper disposition is in the Catholic catechism, and it’s no secret, and I support that. There is perhaps a teaching where we have not done as good a job of late as we used to. When I was growing up, we would go to confession every Saturday, we would fast from midnight, there was much more of an awareness of the need to be spiritually prepared and in communion with the church and in a state of grace. Today I think we need to reinforce that teaching a lot. And once that teaching is better understood, then, I think, it will be obvious as to who should be coming to Communion and who shouldn’t. But until there’s a decision of the church to formally excommunicate people, I don’t think we’re going to be denying Communion to the people. However, whatever the church’s decision is, we will certainly enforce.
Q: Your position four years ago was that you did not want confrontations at the altar rail.
A: That’s right. We do not want to make a battleground out of the Eucharist.
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"Senator Obama built a substantial lead early and was able to maintain it throughout the race," Barna explained. "Just when it appeared that he might win in a landslide, Senator McCain chose Governor Palin as his running mate, and that at least got the unmotivated conservative Christian vote on board. But the election clearly showed that a winning coalition requires more than just evangelical voters. George W. Bush rode to victory twice on the backs of the born again population. But Sen. McCain fared relatively poorly among the non-evangelical born again segment and was unable to compensate by replacing them with a large enough group of ideological moderates."
Barna noted that in 2008, traditional issues did not energize the right. "There was substantial issue fatigue related to the moral issues that usually rev up the troops on the right. Although the candidates had very distinct and dissimilar views on moral issues such as abortion and gay marriage, those differences were not deal breakers for most voters. Voters are tired of fighting battles that seem interminable. And in a year when there were so many other significant crises and conflicts to consider, people’s focus shifted away from the usual throat-wringing issues."
This may also have been a turning point for future elections. "It’s possible that the Catholic vote has now returned to the Democratic fold until another Ronald Reagan emerges to lead the Republicans. And ethnic voters flexed their muscle and came away with a win. Who would have suspected that African-Americans and Hispanics would have forged a bulletproof alliance? But they did this time around, and if Senator Obama fulfills his promise and his promises, then 2008 might have birthed a very significant new voting bloc for the future - one that is already 30% of the population and growing."
Some different material here than that found elsewhere, so worth perusing.
Finally, the outlines of a coherent debate on the federal bailout. This comes as welcome relief from a campaign season that gave us the House Republicans' know-nothing rejectionism, John McCain's mindless railing against "greed and corruption," and Barack Obama's detached enunciation of vacuous bailout "principles" that allowed him to be all things to all people.
Now clarity is emerging. The fault line is the auto industry bailout. The Democrats are pushing hard for it. The White House is resisting.
Underlying the policy differences is a philosophical divide. The Bush administration sees the $700 billion rescue as an emergency measure to save the financial sector on the grounds that finance is a utility. No government would let the electric companies go under and leave the country without power. By the same token, government must save the financial sector lest credit dry up and strangle the rest of the economy.
Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson is willing to stretch the meaning of "bank" by extending protection to such entities as American Express. But fundamentally, he sees government as saving institutions that deal in money, not other stuff.
Democrats have a larger canvas, with government intervening in other sectors of the economy to prevent the cascade effect of mass unemployment leading to more mortgage defaults and business failures (as consumer spending plummets), in turn dragging down more businesses and financial institutions, producing more unemployment, etc. -- the death spiral of the 1930s.
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Filed under: * Economics, Politics Economy Credit Markets Housing/Real Estate Market Stock Market The Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007-- The September 2008 Proposed Henry Paulson 700 Billion Bailout Package Politics in General US Presidential Election 2008
A priest at St. Mary's Catholic Church in downtown Greenville has told parishioners that those who voted for Barack Obama placed themselves under divine judgment because of his stance on abortion and should not receive Holy Communion until they've done penance.
The Rev. Jay Scott Newman told The Greenville News on Wednesday that church teaching doesn't allow him to refuse Holy Communion to anyone based on political choices, but that he'll continue to deliver the church's strong teaching on the "intrinsic and grave evil of abortion" as a hidden form of murder.
Both Democratic president-elect Obama and Joe Biden, the vice president-elect, support legal abortions. Obama has called it a "divisive issue" with a "moral dimension," and has pledged to make women's rights under Roe v. Wade a "priority" as president. He opposes a constitutional amendment overturning the Supreme Court decision.
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A coalition of more than 200 religious groups urged U.S. President-elect Barack Obama on Wednesday to sign an order, once he takes office, banning torture by any federal government entity.
"This is an opportunity where one official could ... with one stroke of a pen, really change history here," said Linda Gustitus, president of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture.
The group, which has been pressing the issue since 2006, also wants the U.S. Congress to establish a special committee to investigate the use of what the Bush administration has called "enhanced interrogation techniques" used on terrorism suspects detained after the attacks of September 11, 2001.
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President-elect Barack Obama made his first telephone call to Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday (Nov. 11), thanking the pontiff for sending a personal message of good will for his election victory, the Vatican confirmed.
"Mr. Obama made a call to the Holy Father in response to the congratulatory message the pope had sent to him upon his election. He wanted to call him, evidently, to thank him," Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi said by telephone. He gave no further details about the conversation.
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Much has been written about how people all around the world are celebrating the victory of our Hussein — Barack of Illinois, whose first name means “blessing” in Arabic. It is, indeed, a blessing that so many people in so many places see something of themselves reflected in Obama, whether in the color of his skin, the religion of his father, his African heritage, his being raised by a single mother or his childhood of poverty. And that ensures that Obama will probably have a longer than usual honeymoon with the world.
But I wouldn’t exaggerate it. The minute Obama has to exercise U.S. military power somewhere in the world, you can be sure that he will get blowback. For now, though, his biography, demeanor and willingness to at least test a regime like Iran’s with diplomacy makes him more difficult to demonize than George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.
“If you’re a hard-liner in Tehran, a U.S. president who wants to talk to you presents more of a quandary than a U.S. president who wants to confront you,” remarked Karim Sadjadpour, an Iran expert at the Carnegie Endowment. “How are you going to implore crowds to chant ‘Death to Barack Hussein Obama’? That sounds more like the chant of the oppressor, not the victim. Obama just doesn’t fit the radical Islamist narrative of a racist, blood-thirsty America, which is bent on oppressing Muslims worldwide. There’s a cognitive dissonance. It’s like Hollywood casting Sidney Poitier to play Charles Manson. It just doesn’t fit.”
But while the world appears poised to give Obama a generous honeymoon, there lurks a much more important question: How long of a honeymoon will Obama give the world?
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This was a decisive but not an overwhelming victory for Barack Obama and the Democrats. As I put it in the lead of my U.S. News column for next week, it was a victory that was overdetermined and underdelivered.
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Uh oh. We all know where this leads. American myths are seductively powerful: You really want to believe them. Yes, it's an incontestably wonderful thing that the U.S. public, saddled for two centuries with an appalling history of slavery and its legacy, has voted a biracial man into the most powerful office in the country.
But if racism was America's original sin, arrogance runs a close second. Some time next year, the United States is going to wake up and realize much of the world already hated it way before George W. Bush took office, and hates it still. (Anyone who has backpacked around Europe with a Canadian flag realizes this.) And with these sorts of prideful comments, the U.S. is in danger of becoming the reformed smoker of race relations, lecturing every other country about civil rights.
While the pride is understandable, it's a tad misplaced. Black men were granted suffrage in 1870. It took another 50 years for women to receive the vote, and the U.S. has yet to elect a woman to the highest office, while dozens of countries including India, Israel, Britain, New Zealand and Germany have all been governed by women who were democratically elected. (Kim Campbell sort of counts, too.) Hell, even Ukraine's prime minister is a woman.
Important to hear perspectives from north of the border--especially in a time like this. Read it all.
This is one hell of a way to win.
Barack Obama owes his victory in large measure to the prospect of the longest and deepest economic downturn in a quarter-century and perhaps since the Great Depression. If he performs well, he could become a great president. If he flubs it, he could get the same reception as Jimmy Carter. In the crassest political terms, it was good luck to have the financial crisis hit so close to the election. But Obama's lucky streak will end in a hurry if he can't find a way out of this mess. He will also have to manage expectations: Even if he does everything perfectly, we probably won't turn the corner for 18 months, and the downturn could last far longer than that.
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I am rubbing my eyes in disbelief and wonder. It can't be true that Barack Obama, the son of a Kenyan, is the next president of the United States.
But it is true, exhilaratingly true. An unbelievable turnaround. I want to jump and dance and shout, as I did after voting for the first time in my native South Africa on April 27, 1994.
We owe our glorious victory over the awfulness of apartheid in South Africa in large part to the support we received from the international community, including the United States, and we will always be deeply grateful. But for those of us who have looked to America for inspiration as we struggled for democracy and human rights, these past seven years have been lean ones.
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[Bob] ABERNETHY: A lot of us have been trying to find words to describe the meaning of Tuesday's election. What does it mean to you?
[Maryland] Bishop [Eugene] SUTTON: Well, words are difficult to describe significant moments. More than words on our lips, I think we have to see what's happening on people's faces and bodies. What it means to me was that I was crying on Tuesday night. My wife and I, sitting there and watching the screen, tears coming down our faces, tears coming down the faces of people such as a woman on my staff who said that she voted this morning, and this older African-American woman just stopped and cried. We see it in the dancing, the crying in that crowd and people all over the world. The words will come later, but right now the meaning of it was something touched deep in their heart after that election.
Ms. [Kim] LAWTON: It seemed to have touched a deep place not just for African Americans but people of many races as well. I mean, have you see that?
Bishop SUTTON: Yes. Yes, it's a moment in our nation, but also in the world -- a moment, I believe, of redemption, and I like to use that word, meaning opening a door for a new possibility rather than closing the doors of what has happened in the past, and we know about the past history of our nation, of oppression, and of closing doors and building walls. So this was a redemptive moment, I think. I think for people in my generation and older, we look at this as a redemption of the past, all of the work that our forefathers and mothers put in to make sure that we could see a day of a truly multiracial society, where barriers of race and gender and misunderstanding are broken down. That was our redemption. But for my sons and daughter, and for people in the younger generation, it's a redemption, yes, but of the future. They're looking forward. They're looking ahead.'
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With such a great victory come unreasonably great expectations. Many of Mr Obama’s more ardent supporters will be let down—and in some cases they deserve to be. For those who voted for him with their eyes wide open to his limitations, everything now depends on how he governs. Abroad, this 21st-century president will have to grapple with the sort of great-power rivalries last seen in the 19th century (see article). At home, he must try to unite his country, tackling its economic ills while avoiding the pitfalls of one-party rule. Rhetoric and symbolism will still be useful in this; but now is the turn of detail and dedication.
Mr Obama begins with several advantages. At 47, he is too young to have been involved in the bitter cultural wars about Vietnam. And by winning support from a big majority of independents, and even from a fair few Republicans, he makes it possible to imagine a return to a more reflective time when political opponents were not regarded as traitors and collaboration was something to be admired.
Oddly, he may be helped by the fact that, in the end, his victory was slightly disappointing. He won around 52% of the popular vote, more than Mr Bush in 2000 and 2004, but not a remarkable number; this was no Roosevelt or Reagan landslide. And though Mr Obama helped his party cement its grip on Congress, gaining around 20 seats in the House of Representatives and five in the Senate, the haul in the latter chamber falls four short of the 60 needed to break filibusters and pass controversial legislation without Republican support (though recounts may add another seat, or even two). Given how much more money Mr Obama raised, the destruction of the Republican brand under Mr Bush and the effects of the worst financial crisis for 70 years, the fact that 46% of people voted against the Democrat is a reminder of just what a conservative place America still is. Mr Obama is the first northern liberal to be elected president since John Kennedy; he must not forget how far from the political centre of the country that puts him.
Read it all. It is nice to see some in the media describe the outcome correctly. We have already posted about the numbers earlier, but this is best seen as a decisive electoral victory and a modestly solid victory in the popular vote. A landslide--as it was termed many times in the last week--it is not--KSH.
BARACK OBAMA’s victory in Tuesday’s presidential election was in many ways a repeat of Ronald Reagan’s win 28 years ago.
His eventual success as president may depend on a willingness to do what Mr. Reagan did: be willing to combat long-term economic problems while accepting short-term pain and the risk of a prolonged slowdown that could damage his popularity....
In passing a tax bill, the Congress and Mr. Obama will have to balance the long-term deficit problem with the need for shorter-term stimulus.
Mr. Bush’s first tax bill presaged a leadership style that focused on partisanship and a determination to avoid compromise with his opponents. Mr. Obama’s first tax bill could show whether he will follow the bipartisan approach that he, like Mr. Bush before him, promised in the campaign.
The success or failure of his administration is likely to be determined by how well he deals with the long-term problems the nation confronts, not by how soon the current recession ends.
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Mr. Obama and his advisers acknowledge that their focus has to shift, but the change is still likely to be challenging, and a bit disappointing. “Unfortunately, the next president’s No. 1 priority is going to be preventing the biggest financial crisis in possibly the last century from turning into the next Great Depression,” says Austan Goolsbee, an Obama adviser. “That has to be No. 1. Nobody ever wanted that to be the priority. But that’s clearly where we are.”
Throughout the campaign, whenever Mr. Obama was asked about the financial crisis, he liked to turn the conversation back to his long-term plans, by saying that they were meant to solve the very problems that had caused the crisis in the first place. Back in January, he predicted to me that the financial troubles would probably get significantly worse in 2008. They had their roots in middle-class income stagnation, which helped cause an explosion in debt, and the mortgage meltdown was likely to be just the beginning, he said then.
His prognosis was right — and the pundits now demanding that he give up major parts of his economic agenda in response to the financial crisis are, for the most part, wrong. When you discover that a patient is in even worse shape than you thought, you don’t become less aggressive about treatment. But you do have to deal with the most acute problems first.
And Mr. Obama has a big incentive to do so. The hangover from a recession typically lasts more than a year, and this recession isn’t over yet. So he will be at risk of the same kind of midterm drubbing in 2010 that Ronald Reagan received in 1982 and Bill Clinton did in 1994. In the days leading up to this year’s election, as they confidently reviewed the polls, some Obama aides took to joking darkly that 2010 was already looking bad.
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The Bishop of North Carolina, the Rt Revd Michael Curry, said on Wednesday: “This is a day that I honestly never dreamed I would see. I think about my grandmother, who was the daughter of a sharecropper here in North Carolina. My ancestors were slaves here. My daddy went to jail so folk could vote.
“My great-aunt Callie was a Sunday-school teacher at Sixteenth Street Baptist chapel where the little girls were killed in 1960. Somehow, all the things that people did without knowing how it was going to turn out helped to make this moment possible.
“But they never dreamed this. Americans have said what we want to be: a country for all. That was the American dream from the beginning. God blesses us sometimes, in spite of ourselves, and, every once in a while, something happens that says that dream is real, and don’t give up on it for America, and ultimately for the whole world.”
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Gertrude Baines' 114-year-old fingers wrapped lightly over the ballpoint pen as she bubbled in No. 18 on her ballot Tuesday. Her mouth curled up in a smile. A laugh escaped. The deed was done.
A daughter of former slaves, Baines had just voted for a black man to be president of the United States. "What's his name? I can't say it," she said shyly afterward. Those who helped her fill out the absentee ballot at a convalescent facility west of USC chimed in: "Barack Obama."
Baines is the world's oldest person of African descent, according to the Gerontology Research Group, which validates claims of extreme old age. She is the third-oldest person in the world, and the second-oldest in the United States after Edna Parker of Indiana, who is 115.
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Reporting from Washington -- During the campaign, when Barack Obama needed an authoritative voice to defend his tax and spending proposals, he turned to Lawrence H. Summers -- the Clinton administration Treasury secretary and former Harvard president who has one of the sharpest minds in modern economics.
Now, as President-elect Obama considers his choice for Treasury secretary, Summers' name is again front and center. But this time, the decision is not so clear. Obama faces conflicting advice from his close advisors, from Capitol Hill and from important Democratic constituencies.
Some argue that, with the economy gripped by a deepening crisis, he needs the country's best and brightest to help him deal with it, chief among them Summers.
Others warn that Summers' sharp elbows and his penchant for controversy could make him a damaging distraction at a time when the nation and the new president can least afford it. And they worry that Summers' wide-ranging knowledge, expansive personality and combative impulses could clash with the president's desire to have the White House deeply involved in the biggest problems facing the new administration.
These voices argue that a more reassuring pick might be the venerable former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul A. Volcker, perhaps teamed with New York Federal Reserve Bank President Timothy F. Geithner.
I prefer the Volcker option. Read it all.
Check it out.
So much for the "new evangelicals."
For the past two years, hundreds of articles have appeared in newspapers across America making the claim that the old religious right was moving left and that Barack Obama, with his religiously infused rhetoric and various "outreach efforts," was leading the charge. A year ago, David Kirkpatrick predicted the "evangelical crackup" on the cover of the New York Times Magazine. "Jesus Rode a Donkey: Why Republicans Don't Have the Corner on Christ," "Thy Kingdom Come: How the Religious Right Distorts the Faith and Threatens America" and "Souled Out: Reclaiming Faith and Politics After the Religious Right" are just three of the dozens of books released since 2004 that suggested that evangelicals were rethinking their loyalty to the Republican Party and conservatism in general. The new evangelicals, just in case anyone missed the storyline, were not so backward as to vote on issues like abortion and gay marriage. They were enlightened about the environment and favored government aid to the poor.
Well, whoever these new evangelicals were, they didn't show up at the polls on Tuesday.
John McCain won 74% of white born-again Protestants' votes. And while this was four percentage points lower than George Bush's share in 2004, President Bush's re-election was "the highpoint" for evangelical support of Republicans at least since 1980, according to John Green, a pollster at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. It's become something of a cliché that Mr. Bush has a "special relationship" with his fellow evangelicals -- but it's true. And it's a little unrealistic to expect that Sen. McCain would enjoy the same relationship with them, given that he is not one of their own. But he did just as well as, if not better than, every other GOP candidate in the past 30 years. The large victory that Mr. Obama scored with most of the electorate makes it remarkable that his gains with white evangelicals were so small.
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A new report from American University’s Center for the Study of the American Electorate concludes that voter turnout in Tuesday’s election was the same in percentage terms as it was four years ago — or at most has risen by less than 1 percent.
The report released Thursday estimates that between 126.5 and 128.5 million Americans cast ballots in the presidential election earlier this week. Those figures represent 60.7 percent or, at most, 61.7 percent of those eligible to vote in the country.
“A downturn in the number and percentage of Republican voters going to the polls seemed to be the primary explanation for the lower than predicted turnout,” the report said. Compared to 2004, Republican turnout declined by 1.3 percentage points to 28.7 percent, while Democratic turnout increased by 2.6 points from 28.7 percent in 2004 to 31.3 percent in 2008.
Read it all and follow the link to the full report.
For the first time in human history, a largely white nation has elected a black man to be its paramount leader. And the cultural meaning of this unprecedented convergence of dark skin and ultimate power will likely become -- at least for a time -- a national obsession. In fact, the Obama presidency will always be read as an allegory. Already we are as curious about the cultural significance of his victory as we are about its political significance.
Does his victory mean that America is now officially beyond racism? Does it finally complete the work of the civil rights movement so that racism is at last dismissible as an explanation of black difficulty? Can the good Revs. Jackson and Sharpton now safely retire to the seashore? Will the Obama victory dispel the twin stigmas that have tormented black and white Americans for so long -- that blacks are inherently inferior and whites inherently racist? Doesn't a black in the Oval Office put the lie to both black inferiority and white racism? Doesn't it imply a "post-racial" America? And shouldn't those of us -- white and black -- who did not vote for Mr. Obama take pride in what his victory says about our culture even as we mourn our political loss?
Answering no to such questions is like saying no to any idealism; it seems callow. How could a decent person not hope for all these possibilities, or not give America credit for electing its first black president? And yet an element of Barack Obama's success was always his use of the idealism implied in these questions as political muscle. His talent was to project an idealized vision of a post-racial America -- and then to have that vision define political decency. Thus, a failure to support Obama politically implied a failure of decency.
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Reporting from London -- If history records a sudden surge in carbon emissions on Wednesday, it may be due to the collective exhalation of relief and joy by the hundreds of millions -- perhaps billions -- of people around the globe who watched, waited and prayed for Barack Obama to be elected president of the United States.
In country after country, elation over Obama's victory was palpable, the hunger for a change of American leadership as strong outside the U.S. as in it. And there was wonderment that, in the world's most powerful democracy, a man with African roots and the middle name Hussein, an upstart fighter who took on political heavyweights, could capture the highest office in the land.
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A poll commissioned by the Club for Growth in 12 swing congressional districts over the past weekend shows that the voters who made the difference in this election still prefer less government -- lower taxes, less spending and less regulation -- to Sen. Obama's economic liberalism. Turns out, Americans didn't vote for Mr. Obama and Democratic congressional candidates because they support their redistributionist agenda, but because they are fed up with the Republican politicians in office....
Nancy Pelosi's San Francisco district will always support universal health care, and Jeff Flake's Arizona district will always support less government. But the 12 districts we surveyed represent the political middle of the country, and in this cycle their partisan allegiances changed. The question is, have their opinions on the issues changed as well? The answer is emphatically no.
Consider the most salient aspects of Mr. Obama's economic agenda: the redistribution of wealth through higher taxes on America's top earners; the revival of the death tax; raising the tax on capital gains and dividend income; increased government spending; increased government involvement in the housing crisis; a restriction on offshore drilling and oil exploration in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR); and "card check" legislation stripping workers of their right to a secret ballot in union elections.
On each of these issues, swing voters stand starkly against Mr. Obama. According to the Club's poll, 73% of voters prefer the federal government to focus on "creating economic conditions that give all people opportunities to create wealth through their own efforts" over "spreading wealth from higher income people to middle and lower income people." Two-thirds of respondents prefer to see the permanent elimination of the death tax, and 65% prefer to keep capital gains and dividend tax rates at their current lows.
Read it all and take the time to look at the overall poll results also
In Kenya, dozens of new-born babies have been named Obama. In Tehran, an Iranian leader has congratulated a US president-elect for the first time since the Islamic revolution. From Cairo to Kuala Lumpur, Americans abroad have been hugged and congratulated, have cast away their Canadian camouflage and suddenly felt they could walk tall again. The world joined America in its grief seven years ago; now all want to share in America's rejoicing.
Even so, President-elect Obama knows that a difficult inheritance awaits him overseas. US forces are engaged in two wars, and Afghanistan at least is proving a harsh challenge. Pakistan stands on the brink of disaster. Iran, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, massacres in the Congo and Russia's belligerence all demand skilful diplomacy and determined leadership in the White House. None of these, however, will be the priority for the incoming president. His first task must be to use the goodwill created by his election to restore confidence in America.
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Bishop Robinson, in London as a guest of the gay rights group Stonewall for its annual “Hero of the Year” awards dinner at the Victoria and Albert Museum tonight, said that Mr Obama’s campaign team had sought him last year and he had the “honour” of three private conversations with the future president of the United States last May and June.
“The first words out of his mouth were: ‘Well you’re certainly causing a lot of trouble’, My response to him was: ‘Well that makes two of us'.”
He said that Mr Obama had indicated his support for equal civil rights for gay and lesbian people and described the election as a “religious experience”.
Bishop Robinson described his conversations with him as part of Mr Obama’s “extraordinary” outreach to all religious communities, not just Christian groups. Mr Obama, although not a member of The Episcopal Church to which Bishop Robinson belongs, is a committed Christian with the United Church of Christ.
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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to at KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.
Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Episcopal Church (TEC) Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Culture-Watch Religion & Culture * Economics, Politics US Presidential Election 2008
Voters in U.S. 2008 presidential election: c. 131 million
Total voters in all U.S. pres. elections, 1788-1908: c. 137 million
--From the Progressive Policy Institute
Charleston has a special place in the heart of president-elect Barack Obama, as anyone who heard his victory speech Tuesday night could tell.
"Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington. It began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and on the front porches of Charleston," he told the crowd of 1 million gathered at Chicago's Grant Park and millions more watching at home.
Obama spent a warm spring day on one of Charleston's most handsome porches during a campaign stop in April 2007.
Read it all. It really is a wonderful city in numerous ways. Those of you who have yet to visit, you need to put it on your "some day in the future" list--KSH.
'It's been an amazing demonstration of the vitality of the democratic process. A record turnout. And the sense therefore that the issues in the election, the issues about the outgoing American administration, have actually stirred the moral imagination of the United States in ways that people didn't expect. Given the sort of turnout that we have in British elections it would be quite nice to have an election one of these days that stirred our imagination to that extent.'
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In light of Barack Obama’s victory in Tuesday’s presidential election, many people are considering what his election might mean for race relations in America. Reflections from several African-American Baptist ministers suggest that although they see Obama’s election as an important moment, it must be just one step on a longer road toward racial reconciliation.
“The election of Barack is the beginning of a movement toward the unification of a nation and the pulling down of religious, political and social divides that have poisoned the very fabric of our nation,” said William Buchanan, pastor of Fifteenth Avenue Baptist Church in Nashville, Tenn.
“Emotion coursed through my being at the announcement that Barack Obama had become the new president-elect of the United States,” Buchanan told EthicsDaily.com. “The moment was surreal for me, a 61-year-old African-American, who, as a young man in Georgia, witnessed the displacement of my family because of my father’s civic involvement in voter registration for the ‘Negro.’”
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As a result, the Democratic Party, including Senator Barack Obama, focused heavily on outreach to religious voters, including white evangelicals who voted overwhelmingly for President Bush, and talked more openly than ever before about faith.
So did all the God-talk pay off?
The verdict appears to be mixed, but Mr. Obama does appear to have scored some significant victories, especially among Roman Catholics, according to nationwide surveys of voters leaving the polls on Tuesday and telephone interviews of some people who had voted early.
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Barack Obama may not have been the Catholic hierarchy's favored candidate in the U.S. presidential race because of his support for abortion rights, but the Vatican on Wednesday (Nov. 5) hailed his election as a "choice that unites."
"America...is truly the country where everything can happen," said a front-page editorial in the official Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano. "America is truly the country of the new frontier ... able to overcome fractures and divisions that until only recently could seem incurable."
The article, written by Giuseppe Fiorentino, appeared next to a full-color photo of the Obama family.
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John Green is is senior fellow for religion and American Politics for the Pew Center and one of the absolute top analysts of how religion affects American politics. Less than 9 hours after his first look at the exit poll data late late Tuesday night, he was back on the phone talking to reporters. Iron man!
His take: Comparing the 2004 election to 2008, the biggest shifts were in turnout of blacks, Hispanics and other minorities, and the margins of support for Obama versus Kerry. Ditto about younger voters. So while the exit polls do show shifts within various religious divisions, those changes may be tied directly to those changes in cultural/age/race voting. For instance, younger voters tend to lean to the Democrats, even within otherwise Republican groups. So a modest shift in the white evangelical vote -- 3-5% more voted for Obama compared with Kerry 2004 -- might be tied more to a higher youth turnout rather than formerly GOP voters going for Obama.
Read the whole thing.
Nationally, Obama captured 53% of the Catholic vote, a 13-point swing from 2004 and the largest advantage among the group for a Democrat since Bill Clinton. Obama also cut in half the Republican advantage among Protestants. And he made significant gains among regular worship attenders. Voters who attend religious services most frequently are still most likely to cast ballots for Republicans. But Obama won 44% of their votes, a 19-point shift in the category that, after the last presidential contest, inspired pundits to diagnose the existence of a "God gap." Voters who worship at least once a month preferred Obama 53% to McCain's 46%.
As in 2006, the least-religious Americans continue to reject the GOP in large numbers. Voters who say they visit houses of worship just a few times a year or not at all made up 44% of the electorate in this election. They gave Obama 59% and 68% of their votes, respectively; both totals represent double-digit increases from four years ago.
And yet despite the inroads Obama made with religious constituencies, there is one voting bloc that remains largely unmoved by Obamamania: white Evangelicals. One-quarter of them voted for Obama on Tuesday — despite a warning from conservative columnist Janet Porter that they could be risking their eternal souls by doing so — an improvement on John Kerry's dismal showing in 2004. But against a candidate like McCain, who is famously disliked by many Evangelicals, in a campaign in which Democrats engaged in a record level of outreach to Evangelicals, and at a time when the Evangelical community is expanding its consciousness to focus on traditionally Democratic issues like the environment and poverty, this would have been the year for a real shift of support to take place.
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I thought this was interesting.
More generally, the picture is of a solid Democratic win, but not the tsunami some had expected. Obama won the popular vote by a solid, but not crushing, margin of slightly less than six percent (52.4-46.5). Bill Clinton beat Bob Dole by a significantly greater margin and even greater relative percentage (49.25-40.71), and George Bush by a slightly lower margin, but higher relative percentage (43.01-37.45). Bush, meanwhile, beat Dukakis by a larger margin, 53.4 to 45.6. The Democrats picked up about twenty House seats, on the low end of the expected range. And, as noted above, they seem likely to pick up five or six Senate seats,which would make the Senate races either 18-16 in favor of the Democrats, or tied at 17-17, again on the low end of the expected range.
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Reporting from Washington — Barack Obama won the presidency Tuesday by persuading voters to embrace a seeming paradox: leadership based on contradictory principles of change and reassurance.
The Illinois senator combined ambitious goals and a cautious temperament. He promised tax cuts, better healthcare, new energy programs and fiscal discipline all at the same time, and all without the bitterness and stalemate that arose when those issues were tackled in the past.
Now, as Obama moves through his transition to the White House, this effort to square the political circle becomes the defining challenge in the months ahead. Which Barack Obama will dominate as he begins to govern?
Too much of the ambitious liberal, and he rekindles partisan squabbles he was supposed to transcend.
Too much the cautious mediator who reaches across the aisle to compromise with Republicans, and he risks losing the energy and idealism that attracted millions to his candidacy.
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