Posted by Kendall Harmon

We start with this reality: Social Security and Medicare are practically sacrosanct. Nearly nine-in-ten Americans say they're good for the country. That's an amazing number. But the popularity of these programs really isn't all that surprising. People love them because they do what they were created to do. They ease many of the frets and dreads of old age – a blessing not just for seniors but for everyone who loves, supports and depends on seniors. Which is to say, everyone.

But the status quo is unsustainable. Some 10,000 Baby Boomers will be going on Social Security and Medicare every single day between now and 2030. By the time everyone in this big pig-in-the-python generation is drawing benefits, we’ll have just two workers per beneficiary – down from three-to-one now, five-to-one in 1960 and more than forty-to-one in 1945, shortly after Social Security first started supporting beneficiaries.

The math of the 20th century simply won’t work in the 21st. Today's young are paying taxes to support a level of benefits for today's old that they have no realistic chance of receiving when they become old. And they know it – just 6% of Millennials say they expect to receive full benefits from Social Security when they retire. Fully half believe they’ll get nothing.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetMedicaidMedicareSocial SecurityThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted April 22, 2014 at 11:16 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The National Council of Churches (NCC) has sent a letter to President Barack Obama expressing concern about the plight of Christian communities in Syria, especially the depopulation of the Armenian community of Kessab, stating: “While Syrians of all religious communities are caught up in this horrible conflict, of particular concern to us are the Christian communities, which are often the most vulnerable.”

“One situation that has just come to our attention is the attack on the Armenian villages of Kessab. Though this attack comes in the wider context of the overall Syrian conflict, it nevertheless has brought death and destruction to the Christian communities there,” the NCC letter reads in part. The letter specifically urges the President to “safeguard the vulnerable Christian communities” and to “restore stability to the Armenian communities of Kessab.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryEcumenical Relations* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

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Posted March 31, 2014 at 3:44 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Barack Obama will meet with Pope Francis on Thursday at the Vatican, opening a new chapter in the centuries-long relationships between the United States and the Holy See.

While Obama has praised Francis’ focus on the poor, popes and American presidents haven’t always seen eye to eye.

With that in mind, here are five surprising encounters between the Commander in Chief and the Successor to St. Peter.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Francis

0 Comments
Posted March 27, 2014 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When President Obama visits Saudi Arabia next week, he will have an opportunity to follow through on his inspiring words at the Feb. 6. National Prayer Breakfast. There, he told thousands of Christian leaders that "the right of every person to practice their faith how they choose" is central to "human dignity," and so "promoting religious freedom is a key objective of U.S. foreign policy."

The freedom so central to human dignity is denied by the Kingdom. The State Department has long ranked Saudi Arabia among the world's most religiously repressive governments, designating it a "Country of Particular Concern" under the International Religious Freedom Act. Yet the Obama administration, like its predecessors, has not pressed Riyadh to respect religious freedom.

Saudi Arabia is the only state in the world to ban all churches and any other non-Muslim houses of worship. While Saudi nationals are all "officially" Muslim, some two to three million foreign Christians live in the kingdom, many for decades. They have no rights to practice their faith.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeLiturgy, Music, Worship* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSaudi Arabia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations* Theology

2 Comments
Posted March 21, 2014 at 11:08 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Health industry officials say ObamaCare-related premiums will double in some parts of the country, countering claims recently made by the administration.

The expected rate hikes will be announced in the coming months amid an intense election year, when control of the Senate is up for grabs. The sticker shock would likely bolster the GOP’s prospects in November and hamper ObamaCare insurance enrollment efforts in 2015.

The industry complaints come less than a week after Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sought to downplay concerns about rising premiums in the healthcare sector. She told lawmakers rates would increase in 2015 but grow more slowly than in the past.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinancePolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted March 20, 2014 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For decades a school of American strategists has bewailed what they call the nation's military "overreach" and urged a radical reduction in defense spending as good for world peace.

We are about to find out if they were right.

On the other side of the argument, proponents of a strong military noted that it is the U.S. military's presence abroad, backed by strong reinforcements, that has put a lid on regional wars and kept the sea lanes open.

And that, in turn, has created peaceful conditions necessary for an historic expansion of world trade that has lifted billions out of poverty and kept the United States the world's strongest economy.

We are also about to find out if they were wrong.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

1 Comments
Posted March 19, 2014 at 7:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

About 4.2 million people have signed up for health plans on Obamacare exchanges through the end of February, making it unlikely that the Obama administration will hit lowered enrollment estimates in the program’s first year.

Whatever momentum was building in January appeared to drop off in February, as the number of sign ups fell below the administration's expectations. The numbers -- which were released a day before Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testifies on the Hill -- also show young people aren't enrolling at rates officials had predicted. That group is key because they are generally presumed to be healthier and less costly.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted March 11, 2014 at 3:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What a resource--check it out. One of the many I enjoyed was the Rules of Civility.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President

0 Comments
Posted February 17, 2014 at 1:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

I embrace with great satisfaction the opportunity which now presents itself of congratulating you on the present favorable prospects of our public affairs. The recent accession of the important state of North Carolina to the Constitution of the United States (of which official information has been received), the rising credit and respectability of our country, the general and increasing good will toward the government of the Union, and the concord, peace, and plenty with which we are blessed are circumstances auspicious in an eminent degree to our national prosperity.

In resuming your consultations for the general good you can not but derive encouragement from the reflection that the measures of the last session have been as satisfactory to your constituents as the novelty and difficulty of the work allowed you to hope. Still further to realize their expectations and to secure the blessings which a gracious Providence has placed within our reach will in the course of the present important session call for the cool and deliberate exertion of your patriotism, firmness, and wisdom.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President

0 Comments
Posted February 17, 2014 at 10:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

You thought you were done, but no. Read it all and see how many answers you can get.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President

1 Comments
Posted February 17, 2014 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Read it all and see how you do.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President

1 Comments
Posted February 17, 2014 at 9:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

By the article establishing the executive department it is made the duty of the President "to recommend to your consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient." The circumstances under which I now meet you will acquit me from entering into that subject further than to refer to the great constitutional charter under which you are assembled, and which, in defining your powers, designates the objects to which your attention is to be given. It will be more consistent with those circumstances, and far more congenial with the feelings which actuate me, to substitute, in place of a recommendation of particular measures, the tribute that is due to the talents, the rectitude, and the patriotism which adorn the characters selected to devise and adopt them. In these honorable qualifications I behold the surest pledges that as on one side no local prejudices or attachments, no separate views nor party animosities, will misdirect the comprehensive and equal eye which ought to watch over this great assemblage of communities and interests, so, on another, that the foundation of our national policy will be laid in the pure and immutable principles of private morality, and the preeminence of free government be exemplified by all the attributes which can win the affections of its citizens and command the respect of the world. I dwell on this prospect with every satisfaction which an ardent love for my country can inspire, since there is no truth more thoroughly established than that there exists in the economy and course of nature an indissoluble union between virtue and happiness; between duty and advantage; between the genuine maxims of an honest and magnanimous policy and the solid rewards of public prosperity and felicity; since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right which Heaven itself has ordained; and since the preservation of the sacred fire of liberty and the destiny of the republican model of government are justly considered, perhaps, as deeply, as finally, staked on the experiment entrusted to the hands of the American people.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President

0 Comments
Posted February 17, 2014 at 9:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When is Presidents Day 2014? The correct answer to that question is “never.” When it comes to federal holidays, there is no such thing as Presidents Day. We’ve been saying this for years, but shockingly, the charade continues.

The official name for the holiday celebrated Feb. 17, 2014, is Washington’s Birthday. If you don’t believe us, look at the Office of Personnel Management’s list of 2014 holidays for federal workers.

There it is, Washington’s Birthday, right between Birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. and Memorial Day. There are an asterisk and a helpful note at the bottom of the page, which says that the holiday in question is specified as Washington’s Birthday under Section 6103(a) of Title 5 of the United States Code.

Read it all and note well the earlier article also.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate

0 Comments
Posted February 17, 2014 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The continuing presidential devotion to the Bible has been a constant throughout American history, one that connects us directly to our Founding Fathers. Even as the cultural staples of the founding era have gone away, and TV, Twitter and movies have taken their place, the Bible has remained pre-eminent in American life. The book our Founders read and meditated upon in the past will continue to provide a hopeful path for Americans—one that will inspire presidents, and the rest of us, for generations to come.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President* TheologyTheology: Scripture

0 Comments
Posted February 14, 2014 at 11:09 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Obama gave a lovely speech at the recent National Prayer Breakfast - and one is reluctant to criticize....

[but]...many in the audience were reaching for their own jaws when Obama got to the liberty section of his speech, according to several people who attended the breakfast. Michael Cromartie, vice president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, summed up the general reaction of many with whom he spoke: "Stunned."

"Several people said afterward how encouraged they would have been by President Obama's remarks if only his acts reflected what he said," Cromartie told me.

One table was applauding only out of politeness, according to Jerry Pattengale, who was sitting with Steve Green - president of the Hobby Lobby stores that have challenged Obamacare's contraceptive mandate. Pattengale described the experience as "surrealistic."

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal IssuesLife EthicsReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted February 11, 2014 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

After more than a decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the public does not think the United States has achieved its goals in either country. About half of Americans (52%) say the U.S. has mostly failed to achieve its goals in Afghanistan while 38% say it has mostly succeeded. Opinions about the U.S. war in Iraq are virtually the same: 52% say the United States has mostly failed in reaching its goals there, while 37% say it has mostly succeeded.

In both cases, evaluations of the wars have turned more negative in recent years. In November 2011, as the U.S. was completing its military withdrawal from Iraq, a majority (56%) thought the U.S. had achieved its goals there.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsIraq WarPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident George BushPresident Barack ObamaWar in Afghanistan* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 30, 2014 at 7:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Entitlements and a cure for America’s long-term fiscal imbalance, once ostensibly key Obama concerns, no longer rank as priorities. And in a speech devoted overwhelmingly to domestic issues, Mr. Obama spent just enough time on foreign policy to demonstrate again his determination to limit U.S. commitments in the Middle East. He stressed the end of U.S. military interventions, particularly in Afghanistan, and he vowed to veto any move by Congress to sanction Iran pending his top priority, negotiations on its nuclear programs. He had little to say about ongoing turmoil in Egypt and even less about growing tensions in East Asia.

Read it all. Also, I thought Dana Milbank's analysis was interesting: "The address was an implicit acknowledgment that his once-grand legislative ambitions are over." You may find the text of the speech itself here.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama


Posted January 29, 2014 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As undignified as it is unedifying and unnecessary, the vulgar State of the Union circus is again at our throats. The document that the Constitutional Convention sent forth from Philadelphia for ratification in 1787 was just 4,543 words long, but this was 17 too many. America would be a sweeter place if the Framers had not included this laconic provision pertaining to the president: “He shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union.”

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology


Posted January 28, 2014 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew warned Congress on Wednesday that the government would most likely exhaust its ability to borrow in late February, setting up yet another fiscal showdown with Republicans, and this time earlier than congressional leaders had anticipated.

In a letter to Speaker John A. Boehner and the other top three congressional leaders, Mr. Lew said a surge of February spending, mainly tax refunds for 2013, would leave the Treasury with little room to maneuver after the official debt limit is reached on Feb. 7.

The letter amounts to an early alarm bell, coming just weeks after Congress passed its first bipartisan budget and comprehensive spending bill in years. Those bills were supposed to serve as a cease-fire in the budget wars that have rattled the country and the economy since Republicans took control of the House in 2011.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyTaxesThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetFederal ReserveMedicaidMedicareSocial SecurityThe National DeficitThe United States Currency (Dollar etc)Politics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

6 Comments
Posted January 23, 2014 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There isn't a staffer on the Hill who won't tell you 90% of members are driven by their own needs, wants and interests, not America's. The former defense secretary, Bob Gates, has written a whole book about it, and the passages in which he speaks most plainly read like a cry from the heart. The chaplain of the Senate, Barry Black, made news a few months ago because he'd taken to praying that the character of our representatives be improved. "Save us from the madness," he prayed one morning last October. "We acknowledge our transgressions, our shortcomings, our smugness, our selfishness." The single most memorable thing I ever heard from a Wall Streeter was from one of its great men, who blandly explained to me one day why certain wealthy individuals were taking an action that was both greedy and personally inconvenient to them. "Everyone wants more," he said, not in a castigating way but as one explains certain essentials to a child.

People in public life have become more grasping, and less embarrassed by it. But the odd thing, the destabilizing thing as you think about it, is that we're in a crisis. We've been in it since at least 2008 and the crash, and the wars. We are in unprecedented trouble. Citizens know this. It's why they buy guns. They see unfixable America around them, they think it's all going to fall apart. In Washington (and New York) they huff and puff their disapproval: Those Americans with their guns, they're causing a lot of trouble. But Americans think they're in trouble because their leaders are too selfish to face challenges that will do us in.

What's most striking is that in a crisis, you don't expect business as usual. You expect something better from leaders, you expect them to try to meet the moment.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted January 18, 2014 at 10:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When Congress authorized the creation of Washington National Cathedral in 1893, it envisioned a national spiritual home. Decades later, it became a setting for presidential funerals, sermons by the likes of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and worship services for epic national tragedies such as Newtown and Sept. 11.

But would it have thought of tai chi and yoga mats?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)* Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryStewardship* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureUrban/City Life and Issues* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate* Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 16, 2014 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Do higher living standards for the poor mean that the war on poverty has succeeded? No. To judge the effort, consider LBJ's original aim. He sought to give poor Americans "opportunity not doles," planning to shrink welfare dependence not expand it. In his vision, the war on poverty would strengthen poor Americans' capacity to support themselves, transforming "taxeaters" into "taxpayers." It would attack not just the symptoms of poverty but, more important, remove the causes.

By that standard, the war on poverty has been a catastrophe. The root "causes" of poverty have not shrunk but expanded as family structure disintegrated and labor-force participation among men dropped. A large segment of the population is now less capable of self-sufficiency than when the war on poverty began.

The collapse of marriage in low-income communities has played a substantial role in the declining capacity for self-support. In 1963, 6% of American children were born out of wedlock. Today the number stands at 41%. As benefits swelled, welfare increasingly served as a substitute for a bread-winning husband in the home.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHistoryMarriage & FamilyPoverty* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted January 10, 2014 at 11:06 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Washington went on to express his gratitude for the support of "my countrymen" and the "army in general." This reference to his soldiers ignited feelings so intense, he had to grip the speech with both hands to keep it steady. He continued: "I consider it an indispensable duty to close this last solemn act of my official life by commending the interests of our dearest country to the protection of Almighty God and those who have the superintendence of them [Congress] to his holy keeping."

For a long moment, Washington could not say another word. Tears streamed down his cheeks. The words touched a vein of religious faith in his inmost soul, born of battlefield experiences that had convinced him of the existence of a caring God who had protected him and his country again and again during the war. Without this faith he might never have been able to endure the frustrations and rage he had experienced in the previous eight months.

Washington then drew from his coat a parchment copy of his appointment as commander in chief. "Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great theater of action and bidding farewell to this august body under whom I have long acted, I here offer my commission and take leave of all the employments of public life." Stepping forward, he handed the document to Mifflin.

This was -- is -- the most important moment in American history.

The man who could have dispersed this feckless Congress and obtained for himself and his soldiers rewards worthy of their courage was renouncing absolute power. By this visible, incontrovertible act, Washington did more to affirm America's government of the people than a thousand declarations by legislatures and treatises by philosophers.

Thomas Jefferson, author of the greatest of these declarations, witnessed this drama as a delegate from Virginia. Intuitively, he understood its historic dimension. "The moderation. . . . of a single character," he later wrote, "probably prevented this revolution from being closed, as most others have been, by a subversion of that liberty it was intended to establish."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeChurch Year / Liturgical SeasonsChristmas* Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 27, 2013 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

But there’s a problem. [Charles] Lindblom’s common-sense insight has a giant exception: crises. Change, forced by outside events, then happens by “leaps and bounds.” The recent financial crisis caused Congress and two presidents to embrace measures (the rescue of big banks, General Motors and Chrysler) that were unthinkable a few months earlier. In the 1960s, civil rights demonstrations pushed Congress to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that, in outlawing most public racial discrimination, wasn’t “incremental.” History offers other examples, including the Civil War, the New Deal and both World Wars. Small changes won’t suffice when big changes are required.

On the budget, muddling through comes with a crucial assumption. It is that continuous deficits won’t provoke a crisis that compels political leaders to take harsh steps that they would otherwise not take. This optimism may be justified. For decades, “experts” have warned of the dire consequences of unchecked deficits. Yet no great crisis has occurred. But this conviction also could be complacency. Government debt is in territory that, except for wartime debt, is unprecedented. We don’t know the consequences. Someday, we may no longer have the luxury of muddling through.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyTaxesThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetMedicareSocial SecurityThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 17, 2013 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Americans see little prospect that President Barack Obama and Congress can get much done beyond keeping the government open for the next few months.

A Bloomberg National Poll finds 78 percent of respondents say the political gridlock in Washington will hurt the nation’s economy in 2014.

Large majorities say they want the government to ensure the new health-care law functions well, that policy makers agree to revise the tax code, and that an accord is reached to provide a pathway to U.S. citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Yet most doubt those things can be accomplished in the current political environment...

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 12, 2013 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As the Affordable Care Act's deadline for getting health insurance approaches, 30% of U.S. adults still say that they, or a family member, have put off medical treatment in the past year because of the cost. This figure has been stable since 2005, but is higher than it was between 2001 and 2004.

Uninsured Americans are more than twice as likely as those who have Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurance to say they put off medical treatment. Fifty-nine percent of the uninsured have done so, compared with roughly one-quarter of those with Medicare or Medicaid (22%) or private health insurance (25%).

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--Politics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 10, 2013 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What's the most indelible time of all the personal time-- and you had some intense personal time with him? Is there any one you can separate out?

Watch it all to hear Bill Clinton's answer (just under 2 3/4 minutes).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President* International News & CommentaryAfricaSouth Africa* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted December 7, 2013 at 8:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Healthcare.gov seems to be working better for consumers, relatively, but it is not clear that it works for insurers (in which case it doesn’t work for consumers either, as they are trying to buy insurance). Insurers have long said that they are receiving botched enrolment forms, or 834s, if they receive them at all. On December 2nd health officials said they had fixed a problem that accounted for 80% of the glitches with 834s. But they would not confirm what share of 834s were being bungled, so it is hard to know the fix’s importance.

If the site is working better for consumers, as it seems to be, shoppers may rush to sign up for insurance before Mr Obama’s deadline of December 23rd. They will expect coverage to kick in just a few days later, on January 1st. That gives insurers little time to process 834s, even if they are sent without problems, let alone deal with garbled forms. Mr Obama’s goals for health reform have always been laudable. But the gruelling, technical job of enrolment will be the big story for some time yet.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology


Posted December 5, 2013 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequalled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle, or the ship; the axe had enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President

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Posted November 28, 2013 at 6:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[New York, 3 October 1789]

By the President of the United States of America. a Proclamation.

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor–and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.”

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be–That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks–for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation–for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the tranquillity, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed–for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted–for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

and also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions–to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually–to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed–to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness onto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord–To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the encrease of science among them and us–and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Given under my hand at the City of New-York the third day of October in the year of our Lord 1789.

Go: Washington

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

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Posted November 28, 2013 at 6:19 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Warren Buffett, Who in six decades of investing has seen a downturn or two, called the financial crisis of 2008 “an economic Pearl Harbour”. In the worst recession in 80 years, the banking system wrote off dud loans worth $885 billion; American gross government debt climbed from 66% of GDP to over 100%; the Federal Reserve printed getting on for $3 trillion of new money; 5.4m Americans lost their jobs; and the average GDP per person fell by 5%, or over $2,200.

It is a miserable accounting of the distress and ruin that many suffered. From the viewpoint of American primacy, however, the crisis could have been so much worse. The collapse of Lehman Brothers and AIG, two financial titans, might have triggered a second Great Depression. Yet memories of Hoovervilles have not found their echo in Bushtowns, and Barack Obama has been spared having to strike a New New Deal.Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate

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Posted November 24, 2013 at 4:28 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Fifty years after his death...I fear that much of the Kennedy mythos is an obstacle to the flowering of Catholic witness in America—and indeed to a proper understanding of modern American history.

The myth of Camelot, for example, misses the truth about the assassination: that John F. Kennedy was a casualty of the Cold War, murdered by a dedicated communist. “Camelot” also demeaned the liberal anti-communist internationalism that Kennedy embodied; that deprecation eventually led Kennedy’s party into the wilderness of neo-isolationist irresponsibility from which it has yet to emerge.

Then there is the mythology surrounding Kennedy’s 1960 speech on church-and-state, delivered to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association....

Finally, there is the phenomenon that might be called the Kennedy Catholic: a public official who wears his or her Catholicism as a kind of ethnic marker, an inherited trait, but whose thinking about public policy is rarely if ever shaped by Catholic social doctrine or settled Catholic moral conviction.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic

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Posted November 23, 2013 at 6:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

For 50 years, Dallas has done its best to avoid coming to terms with the one event that made it famous: the assassination of John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963. That’s because, for the self-styled “Big D,” grappling with the assassination means reckoning with its own legacy as the “city of hate,” the city that willed the death of the president.

It will miss yet another opportunity this year. On Nov. 22 the city, anticipating an international spotlight, will host an official commemoration ceremony. Dallas being Dallas, it will be quite the show: a jet flyover, a performance from the Naval Academy Men’s Glee Club and remarks from the historian David McCullough on Kennedy’s legacy.

But once again, spectacle is likely to trump substance: not one word will be said at this event about what exactly the city was in 1963, when the president arrived in what he called, just moments before his death, “nut country.”

Read it all.





Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistoryUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

17 Comments
Posted November 22, 2013 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Fifty years after the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the nation seems to be experiencing a kind of fairy tale about itself, alternately bright and dark.

It is inspiring, but also deflating, to see and hear again (and again) the handsome, vigorous president, the youngest ever elected to the office, as he beckons the country forth to the future, to the “New Frontier,” and its promise of conquest: putting a man on the moon, defeating sharply defined evils — totalitarianism, poverty, racial injustice.

This, we have been reminded, was the dream Kennedy nourished, and much of it died with him, when the sharp cracks of rifle fire broke out as his motorcade rolled through the sunstruck streets of Dallas. With this horrific, irrational deed, a curse was laid upon the land, and the people fell from grace.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistoryViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted November 22, 2013 at 7:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

While millions of Americans have been left to fend for themselves and go through the frustrating experience of trying to navigate the federal exchange, members of Congress and their aides have all sorts of assistance to help them sort through their options and enroll.

Lawmakers and the employees who work in their “official offices” will receive coverage next year through the small-business marketplace of the local insurance exchange, known as D.C. Health Link, which has staff members close at hand for guidance.

“D.C. Health Link set up shop right here in Congress,” said Eleanor Holmes Norton, the delegate to the House from the nation’s capital.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted November 20, 2013 at 6:55 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Filmmaker Ken Burns, author David McCullough, actors Sam Waterston, Matthew Broderick, Stephen Lang, and Medal of Honor recipient Paul W. Bucha recite one of the most famous speeches in American history.

Musical Score by Academy Award-winning composer John Williams....

You may find the video here.

Listen to it all--still amazing, still so important; KSH (Hat tip: Jeff Miller).

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistoryMilitary / Armed Forces* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

1 Comments
Posted November 19, 2013 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Remarkably, the Obama administration has backtracked from the position taken by the Reagan administration. It now argues that even explicitly sectarian prayers are permissible. Congress and state legislatures have prayers, but they are supposed to be and usually are nondenominational, and they are delivered to legislators rather than a captive audience of the broader citizenry assembled to do business before the board.

Given the state of the law, the importance of religious inclusivity and the facts of this case, I assumed that if the Obama administration participated at all, it would side with the plaintiffs. But the administration did just the opposite. In fact, because this is a suit not involving the federal government, it did not need to participate at all. It's hard to fathom how the administration arrived at its conclusion, and I hope the Supreme Court will reject it.

I hope the court will take to heart the words of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, who shortly before she stepped down from the court wrote in a decision: "At a time when we see around the world the violent consequences of the assumption of religious authority by government, Americans may count themselves fortunate. ... Why would we trade a system that has served us so well for one that has served others so poorly?"

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

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Posted November 7, 2013 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The bishops might have been promoting a strictly Democratic line, but U.S. Senate Chaplain Barry Black was more ecumenical. Amid the shutdown, Rev. Black offered a daily prayer in the Senate chamber asking God to “save us from the madness. We acknowledge our transgressions, our shortcomings, our smugness, our selfishness, and our pride.” Later he condemned the “hypocrisy of attempting to sound reasonable while being unreasonable.” His listeners in one party no doubt assumed he was talking about the other side.

It is one thing to spiritually shame politicians, as Rev. Black did. Trying to do their jobs is another. The bishops and other clergy in the Circle of Protection go well beyond their competencies when they make such policy prescriptions. Speaking about the moral issues of the day is certainly within their pastoral purview, but the bishops’ calls to raise revenues (aka taxes), for instance, or eliminate “unnecessary” military spending are not.

Bishops routinely assert their authority as “pastors and teachers,” as Bishops Blaire, Gomez and Pates did, but according to the tradition of their own church, they have no teaching authority when it comes to politics.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketTaxesThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentBudgetMedicaidMedicareSocial SecurityThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted October 25, 2013 at 11:11 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

2--At its root Social Security is, and always has been, an inter-generational transfer of wealth....

4--...since 2010 Social Security’s cash expenses have exceeded its cash receipts; negative cash flow last year was about $55 billion, according to the latest report from the system’s trustees. While credited interest is still more than enough to cover the deficit, that will only be true until 2020. After that, Social Security will begin redeeming its hoard of Treasuries for cash to continue paying benefits — as was the plan all along.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetSocial SecurityThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 20, 2013 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Public trust in the government, already quite low, has edged even lower in a survey conducted just before the Oct. 16 agreement to end the government shutdown and raise the debt ceiling.

Trust in Government Again Near All-Time LowJust 19% say that they trust the government in Washington to do what is right just about always or most of the time, down seven points since January. The current measure matches the level reached in August 2011, following the last battle over the debt ceiling. Explore a Pew Research interactive on Public Trust in Government: 1958-2013.

The share of the public saying they are angry at the federal government, which equaled an all-time high in late September (26%), has ticked up to 30%. Another 55% say they are frustrated with the government. Just 12% say they are basically content with the federal government.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryPsychology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident George BushPresident Barack ObamaSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 19, 2013 at 2:34 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Stan Druckenmiller makes an unlikely class warrior. He's a member of the 1%—make that the 0.001%—one of the most successful money managers of all time, and 60 years old to boot. But lately he has been touring college campuses promoting a message of income redistribution you don't hear out of Washington. It's how federal entitlements like Medicare and Social Security are letting Mr. Druckenmiller's generation rip off all those doting Barack Obama voters in Generation X, Y and Z.

"I have been shocked at the reception. I had planned to only visit Bowdoin, " his alma mater in Maine, he says. But he has since been invited to multiple campuses, and even the kids at Stanford and Berkeley have welcomed his theme of generational theft. Harlem Children's Zone President Geoffrey Canada and former Federal Reserve Governor Kevin Warsh have joined him at stops along the tour.

Mr. Druckenmiller describes the reaction of students: "The biggest question I got was, 'How do we start a movement?' And my answer was 'I'm a 60-year-old washed-up money manager. I don't know how to start a movement. That's your job. But we did it in Vietnam without Twitter and without Facebook and without any social media. That's your job.' But the enthusiasm—they get it."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyMiddle AgeYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetMedicareSocial SecurityThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted October 19, 2013 at 10:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Standard & Poor’s is only raising half a cheer at the deal:

“We believe that to date, the shutdown has shaved at least 0.6 per cent off of annualised fourth-quarter 2013 GDP growth, or taken $24bn out of the economy.

“The short turnround for politicians to negotiate some sort of lasting deal will probably weigh on consumer confidence, especially among government workers that were furloughed. If people are afraid that the government policy brinkmanship will resurface again, and with it the risk of another shutdown or worse, they’ll remain afraid to open up their cheque books. That points to another Humbug holiday season.”

Read it all (if necessary another link is there).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsEconomyTaxesThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetMedicaidMedicareSocial SecurityThe National DeficitThe United States Currency (Dollar etc)Politics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate

1 Comments
Posted October 17, 2013 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Is the US dollar's position as the reserve currency of the world imperiled as a result of the debt limit showdown in Washington?

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCurrency MarketsThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetThe National DeficitForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 17, 2013 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“We took some bread crumbs and left an entire meal on the table,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina. “This has been a really bad two weeks for the Republican Party”--From the online version of last night's New York Times
I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* South Carolina* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology


Posted October 17, 2013 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

With just two days to go before an Oct. 17 deadline to raise the nation’s debt limit, 51% of the public views a rise in the nation’s debt limit as “absolutely essential” in order to avoid an Half View Debt Limit Increase as Essential, More than a Third Say it is Noteconomic crisis, while 36% think the country can go past the deadline without major problems.

Public concern over breaching the debt limit deadline has risen only slightly from a week ago, when 47% said a rise in the debt limit was essential and 39% said it was not.

Those who see no dire economic consequences resulting from going past Thursday’s deadline are not only skeptical about the timing – most say there is no need to raise the debt limit at all. Nearly a quarter of all Americans (23%) – including 37% of Republicans and 52% of Tea Party Republicans – believe the debt limit does not need to be raised at all.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceStock MarketThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 16, 2013 at 6:28 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Looks like it will go through Jan 15, and there will be a panel create to work on deficit reduction.

One of many tweets:

‏@j_strong
“It’s all over. We’ll take Senate deal" ... “People are thinking about primaries, they really are"


Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate

8 Comments
Posted October 15, 2013 at 7:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Top Senate leaders on Monday said they were within striking distance of a deal to sidestep a looming debt crisis and reopen the federal government two weeks after a partisan deadlock forced it to close.

Fourteen days after a partial government shutdown began, senators signaled a bipartisan resolution could come soon.

"I'm very optimistic we will reach an agreement that's reasonable in nature this week to reopen the government, pay the nation's bills and begin long-term negotiations to put our country on sound fiscal footing," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) said on the Senate floor.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsThe Banking System/SectorThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetMedicaidMedicareSocial SecurityThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted October 14, 2013 at 5:16 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

What started as a mad dash to strike a deal to lift the federal debt limit slowed to a crawl over the weekend as stalemated Senate leaders waited nervously to see whether financial markets would plunge Monday morning and drive the other side toward compromise.

Republicans seemed to think they had more to lose. After talks broke down between President Obama and House leaders, GOP senators quickly cobbled together a plan to end the government shutdown — now entering its third week — and raise the $16.7 trillion debt limit. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) then asked Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) to elevate negotiations to the highest level.

On Sunday — with the Treasury Department due to exhaust its borrowing power in just four days — Reid was wielding that leverage to maximum advantage. Rather than making concessions that would undermine Obama’s signature health-care initiative, as Republicans first demanded, Democrats are now on the offensive and seeking to undo what has become a cherished prize for the GOP: deep agency spending cuts known as the sequester.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsStock MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetFederal ReserveThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate

4 Comments
Posted October 14, 2013 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Senate's top two leaders have asserted control over budget negotiations with the White House for a deal to reopen the federal government and avoid a default on the nation's debt.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., met Saturday morning with Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., to begin preliminary discussions.

"I hope that our talking is some solace to the American people and to the world," Reid said. "This should be seen as something very positive, even though we don't have anything done yet."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted October 12, 2013 at 2:05 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A proposal from Sen. Susan Collins is emerging as one potential way to dig lawmakers out of a government shutdown and possibly also avoid a potentially catastrophic debt default.

The moderate Maine Republican, whose vote will be essential to any fiscal deal, is circulating a rough plan to reopen the government, repeal the medical device tax and provide agencies with greater flexibility in implementing the sequester. The initial reception has been positive and may be the beginnings of a bipartisan solution to end the intractable impasse between House Republicans and Senate Democrats.

Collins said Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who are also being watched as potential GOP votes to end the fiscal standoff, have signed onto the proposal. And Collins said she has spoken to “several Democrats” about her plan, which she hopes “at least provides concepts that could be the basis for us reopening government.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeTaxesThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 9, 2013 at 6:12 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

As the government shutdown enters its second week, some religious groups are starting to feel the pinch, and they’re also finding ways to reach out.

More than 90 Catholic, evangelical and Protestant leaders have signed a statement rebuking “pro-life” lawmakers for the shutdown, saying they are “appalled that elected officials are pursuing an extreme ideological agenda at the expense of the working poor and vulnerable families” who won’t receive government benefits.

Starting Wednesday, evangelical, Catholic and mainline Protestant leaders will hold a daily “Faithful Filibuster” on Capitol Hill with Bible verses on the poor “to remind Congress that its dysfunction hurts struggling families and low-income people.”

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 9, 2013 at 3:44 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A senior Chinese official has warned that the "clock is ticking" to avoid a US default that could hurt China's interests and the global economy.

China, the US's largest creditor, is "naturally concerned about developments in the US fiscal cliff", vice finance minister Zhu Guangyao said.

Washington must agree a deal to raise its borrowing limit by 17 October, or risk being unable to pay its bills.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsEuroEuropean Central BankG20 Stock MarketThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetThe National DeficitForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* International News & CommentaryAsiaChina

2 Comments
Posted October 7, 2013 at 4:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The work that Shaun O'Connell does is required by law, yet now he's sidelined by the government shutdown.

O'Connell reviews disability claims for the Social Security Administration in New York, checking that no one's gaming the system, while ensuring people with legitimate medical problems are compensated properly.

Billions of dollars are at stake with this kind of work, yet O'Connell is considered a nonessential employee for purposes of the partial government shutdown.

"If you stick with the semantics of essential and nonessential, you could easily be offended," says O'Connell, who has worked for Social Security for 20 years.

Read or listen to it all.


Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

7 Comments
Posted October 6, 2013 at 6:48 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Obamacare is not primarily an entitlement program. The entitlement component — the exchange subsidies — will involve about 2 percent of Americans during the first year. (Others will be added to Medicaid, which has been around since 1965.) About 20 million Americans will eventually get subsidized insurance — a check that goes not to the individual but to insurance companies. The remaining 170 million Americans will not experience Obama­care as a sugary treat but as a series of complex regulatory changes that may make their existing insurance more costly, less generous and less secure.

The main problem with Obamacare is not its addictive generosity; it is its poor, unsustainable design. Its finances depend on forcing large numbers of young and healthy people to buy insurance — yet it makes their insurance more costly and securing coverage less urgent. (Because you can get coverage during each year’s enrollment period at the same price whether you’re healthy or sick, the incentive to buy coverage when healthy is much diminished.)

Heavy insurance regulations will lead some employers to restructure their plans, dump employees into the public exchanges or make greater use of part-time workers. In order to meet a few worthy goals — helping the poor buy insurance and covering preexisting conditions — Obamacare seems destined to destabilize much of our current health system.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted October 6, 2013 at 6:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Episcopal bishop of Washington is inviting any couples who had to cancel their weddings on federal property due to the government shutdown to have their ceremonies in a garden at Washington National Cathedral.

Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde said Thursday that the Bishop’s Garden at the cathedral would be offered free of charge to any couples who wanted to hold wedding ceremonies outdoors.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Bishops* Culture-WatchMarriage & FamilyReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* TheologyEthics / Moral TheologyPastoral Theology

0 Comments
Posted October 4, 2013 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On the eve of a possible shutdown of the U.S. government, religious leaders denounced the political brinkmanship prevailing in Congress today.

"Shutting down the government will do real damage," said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, speaking at a press conference today. "Risking our nation's creditworthiness will do even more damage. Most clearly, the disruption and uncertainty will put the brakes on our economy."

Unless our nation's leaders come to an agreement on appropriations for the coming months, the U.S. government will close on Oct. 1, the start of the 2014 fiscal year. If no agreement is reached by Oct. 17 on increasing the debt limit, the country's creditworthiness will be compromised.

Read it all and follow the link at the bottom to the letter to see the actual signatories.


Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori* Culture-WatchReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* Religion News & CommentaryOther Churches* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted October 4, 2013 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Biologist Louis Burnett had to move his lab students to a conference room across the parking lot at Fort Johnson. His federal lab, animals and cell cultures are under lock and key.

Burnett’s dilemma is a case example of the ripple effect of the ongoing federal shutdown. As the shutdown enters its third day, the clock keeps ticking insistently for any number of people who don’t work for the federal government but find themselves on the outs because of the political standoff.

Burnett is a research professor at the College of Charleston. But like others in a cadre of college and state researchers, he collaborates on studies, shares office space and makes use of the equipment at the Hollings Marine Lab and the Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchEducationScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* South Carolina

0 Comments
Posted October 3, 2013 at 6:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Even though its most virulent critics raise the spectre of “Canadian-style” health care, “Obamacare” does little to change the enduring differences between the two health care system. What, exactly, does “Obamacare” look like compared to Canada?...

Not cost containment: The sharpest critics of Obamacare argue it does little to address the fundamental challenge of cost control. The new law includes a review of Medicare reimbursement and the expansion of Accountable Care Organizations to reward cost-effective care. But it doesn’t grapple in a systematic fashion with the overall inefficiencies in health care delivery and financing, the administrative burden of multiple payers, providers and plans, and the cost pressures of defensive medicine. Governments in Canada know that health care is a searing financial responsibility, but they have at their disposal cost containment measures – monopoly fee negotiations with providers, global budgets for hospitals – that remain unfathomable in the American context.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Canada* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted October 3, 2013 at 5:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

1. The shutdown is unlikely to last long. In the past government shutdowns typically lasted a few days, with the most being 21 when the Republican Congress, led by Newt Gingrich, took on Bill Clinton in 1995.

This stance defies logic. If the reform law is so flawed, why not try to make it better? Why not wait till the law takes full effect and its failure becomes obvious, at which point it could be repealed through less destructive means—without endangering the entire economy?

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate

0 Comments
Posted October 1, 2013 at 7:32 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The good news is that so far, all we have is political posturing. History suggest that nothing happens until at least 12 hours after our September 30th midnight deadline. No one gets serious about any sort of deal before noon on October 1. At that point, political pressure on the House Republicans — from constituents, from Business leaders, and from elder statesmen — will start in earnest. A few days later, it can become more intense. We see the same sort of patterns with the debt ceiling limit as well (that’s schedule to hit at midnight October 17).

As NBC’s Pete Williams have reported, we have had 17 prior government shutdowns over the past 40 years, including 21 days in 1995 (table below). So while this feels like its new and unusual, it is actually more commonplace than most of us believe.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

16 Comments
Posted September 30, 2013 at 6:59 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The federal government moved closer to a partial shutdown Sunday as Republican and Democratic lawmakers showed no signs of negotiating through a standoff over the implementation of President Barack Obama's health law.

The standoff left little prospect that Congress could reach agreement on terms for funding the government by midnight Monday, when the current fiscal year expires. A shutdown would leave essential services operating but prompt federal agencies to suspend many functions and furlough hundreds of thousands of workers.

Early Sunday morning, after a late night of votes, the House passed a bill delaying the health law by one year and attached it to a plan to fund the government through Dec. 15. It also includes a provision repealing a tax on medical devices that is intended to help finance the health law. That legislation now goes back to the Senate.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetMedicaidMedicareSocial SecurityThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 29, 2013 at 6:50 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

There's plenty of fodder for deficit hawks in a new report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. In short, the future looks grim....

First, the good news: The CBO projects the deficit will shrink to $378 billion in 2015, or 2.1 percent of the size of the overall U.S. economy. Compared with just a few years ago when the budget gap ballooned as a result of the recession, this marks a nearly unprecedented improvement in the deficit picture. It's a rapid decline in budget shortfalls not seen since the end of World War II. The national debt will bottom out in 2018, at 68 percent of GDP.

The bad news: From there, the picture gets decidedly less rosy. Budget deficits gradually rise, "mainly because of increasing interest costs and growing spending for Social Security and the government's major health care programs (Medicare, Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program, and subsidies to be provided through the health insurance exchanges)," says the report. By 2038, the national debt will reach 100 percent of GDP....

Read it all and follow the link to the actual report.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyMiddle AgeYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsEconomyTaxesThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetMedicaidMedicareSocial SecurityThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 18, 2013 at 3:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Earlier today, I spoke with Larry Summers and accepted his decision to withdraw his name from consideration for Chairman of the Federal Reserve.

Larry was a critical contributor to the radical deregulation that was one of many causes of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. It was in no small part because of his lack of expertise, false wisdom, and inept leadership that the economy crashed and burned and even today is still failing to be to back to its full growth potential.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCredit MarketsCurrency MarketsStock MarketThe Banking System/SectorThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentFederal ReservePolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted September 15, 2013 at 6:14 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Obama on Monday called a Russian proposal for Syria to turn over control of its chemical weapons to international monitors in order to avoid a military strike a “potentially positive development,” that could represent a “significant breakthrough,” but he said he remains skeptical the Syrian government would follow through on its obligations based on its recent track record.

“Between the statements that we saw from the Russians — the statement today from the Syrians — this represents a potentially positive development,” Obama said in an interview with NBC News, according to a transcript provided by the network. “We are going to run this to ground. [Secretary of State] John Kerry will be talking to his Russian counterpart. We’re going to make sure that we see how serious these proposals are.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria

0 Comments
Posted September 9, 2013 at 5:20 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, retired Archbishop of Washington, has said he opposes US military intervention in Syria, saying that he is “not in favour of going to war to make peace”.

“We made the mistake in Iraq. I hope we don’t make the mistake again in Syria,” he told Catholic News Service on Thursday after visiting some of the nearly half-million refugees who had fled to Jordan, Syria’s southern neighbour.

When asked what was worse, either allow Syria to use chemical weapons and do nothing or go in with limited military strikes, he quickly responded: “Neither is the proper answer.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryIraq WarPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastSyria* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman Catholic* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 6, 2013 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If the House voted today on a resolution to attack Syria, President Barack Obama would lose — and lose big.

That’s the private assessment of House Republican and Democratic lawmakers and aides who are closely involved in the process.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsEconomyForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria

0 Comments
Posted September 5, 2013 at 6:08 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Senate resolution would limit hostilities to 60 or 90 days, narrow the conflict to Syria's borders and prohibit U.S. troops on Syrian soil. McCain's amendments didn't change that scope, but made clear that the end goal should be "a negotiated settlement that ends the conflict and leads to a democratic government in Syria."

The vote was 10-7. Five Republicans and two Democrats voted against it.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 4, 2013 at 3:45 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“Unfortunately, we seem to be entering another of those periods of elevated risk,” economists at Bank of America Merrill Lynch wrote last week. Researchers at RBC Capital Markets sounded even more bleak. “Just when you thought the U.S. economy was ready to break out of its lackluster 2 percent growth pace that has dominated the recovery,” they wrote, “reality hits.”

More economic turbulence would be particularly tough for poor and middle-class American workers, who are still struggling amid the historically weak growth following the recession. The typical worker’s income has fallen since the recession ended more than four years ago, and the economy, still far from full employment, is creating far more low-paying jobs than good-paying ones. Polls show that workers remain discouraged by the economic picture, with more than half believing the United States is still in recession.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceTaxesThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentBudgetThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted September 3, 2013 at 4:48 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

McCain and Graham have jointly expressed concerns that a military strike should be part of a broader strategy in Syria, not simply a random attack to punish the regime.

After meeting with Obama Monday, they both said they believed the White House is developing a strategy that would weaken the regime of President Bashar Assad and boost Syrian opposition forces — though they said Obama has more work to do to explain this plan.

"We still have significant concerns," McCain said, "but we believe there is in formulation a strategy to upgrade the capabilities of the Free Syrian Army and to degrade the capabilities of Bashar Assad. Before this meeting, we had not had that indication."

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastIranSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

3 Comments
Posted September 3, 2013 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On this day—this American holiday- we are celebrating the rights of free laboring men and women.

The preservation of these rights is vitally important now, not only to us who enjoy them—but to the whole future of Christian civilization.

American labor now bears a tremendous responsibility in the winning of this most brutal, most terrible of all wars.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted September 2, 2013 at 1:32 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Update: A Washington Post article is there--read it all.

A NY Times article is now there.

A Statement says the House will consider the measure on Syrian military action the week of Sept. 9--check it out.

Final Update: the full text is now available--read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

19 Comments
Posted August 31, 2013 at 12:58 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Many of the leaks about U.S. strike plans for Syria, a copious flow of surprisingly specific information on ship dispositions and possible targets, have been authorized as a way for President Obama to signal the limited scope of operations to friends and foes.

But a number of leaks have been decidedly unauthorized -- and, according to Obama administration sources, likely emanating from a Pentagon bureaucracy less enthusiastic about the prospect of an attack than, say, the State Department, National Security Council or Obama himself.

"Deeply unhelpful," was how one West Winger described the drip-drip of doubt.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchMedia* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 31, 2013 at 7:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Obama administration’s plan to launch a military strike against Syria is being received with serious reservations by many in the U.S. military, which is coping with the scars of two lengthy wars and a rapidly contracting budget, according to current and former officers.

Having assumed for months that the United States was unlikely to intervene militarily in Syria, the Defense Department has been thrust onto a war footing that has made many in the armed services uneasy, according to interviews with more than a dozen military officers ranging from captains to a four-star general.

Former and current officers, many with the painful lessons of Iraq and Afghanistan on their minds, said the main reservations concern the potential unintended consequences of launching cruise missiles against Syria.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 30, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

From Barrons [it may also be found here]:
When [President Barack] Obama proclaimed his red line on Syria and chemical weapons, he assumed the issue would not come up. He made a gesture to those in his administration who believe that the United States has a moral obligation to put an end to brutality. He also made a gesture to those who don't want to go to war again. It was one of those smart moves that can blow up in a president's face when it turns out his assumption was wrong. Whether al Assad did launch the attacks, whether the insurgents did, or whether someone faked them doesn't matter. Unless Obama can get overwhelming, indisputable proof that al Assad did not -- and that isn't going to happen -- Obama will either have to act on the red line principle or be shown to be one who bluffs. The incredible complexity of intervening in a civil war without becoming bogged down makes the process even more baffling.

Obama now faces the second time in his presidency when war was an option. The first was Libya. The tyrant is now dead, and what followed is not pretty. And Libya was easy compared to Syria. Now, the president must intervene to maintain his credibility. But there is no political support in the United States for intervention. He must take military action, but not one that would cause the United States to appear brutish. He must depose al Assad, but not replace him with his opponents. He never thought al Assad would be so reckless. Despite whether al Assad actually was, the consensus is that he was. That's the hand the president has to play, so it's hard to see how he avoids military action and retains credibility. It is also hard to see how he takes military action without a political revolt against him if it goes wrong, which it usually does.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationScience & TechnologyViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted August 29, 2013 at 6:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Obama is considering military action against Syria that is intended to “deter and degrade” President Bashar al-Assad’s government’s ability to launch chemical weapons, but is not aimed at ousting Mr. Assad from power or forcing him to the negotiating table, administration officials said Tuesday.

A wide range of officials characterized the action under consideration as “limited,” perhaps lasting no more than one or two days. The attacks, which are expected to involve scores of Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from American destroyers in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, would not be focused on chemical weapons storage sites, which would risk an environmental and humanitarian catastrophe and could open up the sites to raids by militants, officials said.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalizationLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & CultureViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.Middle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

2 Comments
Posted August 28, 2013 at 5:31 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

President Obama is weighing a military strike against Syria that would be of limited scope and duration, designed to serve as punishment for Syria’s use of chemical weapons and as a deterrent, while keeping the United States out of deeper involvement in that country’s civil war, according to senior administration officials.

The timing of such an attack, which would probably last no more than two days and involve sea-launched cruise missiles — or, possibly, long-range bombers — striking military targets not directly related to Syria’s chemical weapons arsenal, would be dependent on three factors: completion of an intelligence report assessing Syrian government culpability in last week’s alleged chemical attack; ongoing consultation with allies and Congress; and determination of a justification under international law.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & TechnologyViolence* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastSyria* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

7 Comments
Posted August 27, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

That sets up one of the recurring problems in health-care policy, which is that the more you do to control costs, the more people will hate you. Insurers found this out in the 1990s, when HMOs managed to save a lot of money without doing any measurable harm to care, but the American people loathed them for it. Various provisions in the Affordable Care Act — or any serious cost-control effort — will end up proving it again.

This will present a useful test for seeing who’s serious about controlling health-care costs. Conservative economists, for instance, almost universally hate the fact that employer-provided health benefits aren’t taxed, and that public-sector workers have bargained so aggressively for generous benefits. John McCain’s 2008 health plan relied on ending the employer deduction entirely and converting it to a capped deduction for individuals — which is a much more violent version of this kind of change.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceTaxesPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted August 6, 2013 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

This newspaper is a wholehearted supporter of the United States and its commitment to individual freedom. At the same time we acknowledge that any government’s first responsibility is to protect its own citizens. It made sense to adjust the balance between liberty and security after September 11th. But America’s values ought not to have become casualties of Mr Bush’s war on terror.

The indefinite incarceration of prisoners in Guantánamo Bay without trial was a denial of due process. It was legal casuistry to redefine the torture of prisoners with waterboarding and stress positions as “enhanced interrogation”. The degradation of Iraqi criminals in Abu Ghraib prison in 2003, extraordinary rendition and the rest of it were the result of a culture, led by Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, that was both unAmerican and a recruiting sergeant for its enemies. Mr Obama has stopped the torture, but Guantánamo remains open and the old system of retribution has often been reinforced.

Neither Mr Snowden nor Mr Manning is a perfect ambassador for a more liberal approach.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryLaw & Legal IssuesScience & Technology* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident George BushTerrorism

0 Comments
Posted August 4, 2013 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[ Lindsey] Graham told reporters today that President Obama asked the two senators to travel to the region to assess the situation and to urge the Egyptian military to proceed with new elections.

“The president asked Sen. McCain and myself to go to Egypt next week, so we’re trying to find a way to get there,” Graham said, according to The Associated Press. “So we can go over and reinforce in a bipartisan fashion the message that we have to move to civilian control, that the military is going to have to, you know, allow the country to have new elections and move toward an inclusive, democratic approach.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchViolence* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* International News & CommentaryMiddle EastEgypt* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted July 31, 2013 at 6:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Abraham Lincoln, remembered 150 years after a “decisive” battle of the U.S. Civil War, could have excelled in modern-day Washington politics, one of the pre-eminent scholars on the American president says.

“He would be tech savvy, he would lose the beard, he would have some cosmetic surgery, he would make an asset of his height,” historian Harold Holzer said in an interview for Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt” airing this weekend. “He was so smart about working with the press, getting the press to work in his behalf, giving out exclusives, and he would have mastered any medium.”

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President

0 Comments
Posted July 6, 2013 at 12:06 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

One hundred and fifty years ago, more than 30,000 soldiers had died or were wounded after three days of battle at Gettysburg, July 1-3, 1863. Four and a half months later, in one of the greatest speeches of American history, President Abraham Lincoln took part in a ceremony to dedicate the Soldiers’ National Cemetery at the battle’s site. With a remarkably concise address, he reiterated the principles of human equality in the Declaration of Independence, memorialized those who had given their lives at Gettysburg, and resolved that their deaths would not be in vain....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistoryReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President

4 Comments
Posted July 6, 2013 at 8:20 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The White House on Tuesday delayed for one year a requirement under the Affordable Care Act that businesses provide health insurance to employees, a fresh setback for President Obama’s landmark health-care overhaul as it enters a critical phase.

The provision, commonly known as the employer mandate, calls for businesses with 50 or more workers to provide affordable quality insurance to workers or pay a $2,000 fine per employee. Business groups had objected to the provision, which now will take effect in January 2015.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform Debate* Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinancePolitics in GeneralOffice of the President

0 Comments
Posted July 3, 2013 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A Southern Baptist from Spartanburg with no political experience walked the halls of Capitol Hill on Wednesday with his wife, lobbying Congress to support immigration reform as a moral issue.

Jim Goodroe, director of missions for the Spartanburg County Baptist Network, has ministered to the immigrant community of Spartanburg for the last 12 years. His wife, Nancy, teaches young children who don’t speak English as a first language.

The Goodroes are well-versed on visas and green cards and the struggles involved in migrating to a foreign country. But the political arena is a new world to them.

Read it all.


Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsForeign RelationsImmigrationPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesBaptists* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted June 15, 2013 at 11:01 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Amid speculation that the Federal Reserve soon might start scaling back its stimulus efforts, the International Monetary Fund cautioned that a pullback before next year could hurt economies worldwide.

Highlighting its concern Friday, the IMF lowered its forecast for U.S. economic growth next year to 2.7% from an earlier projection of 3%.

The IMF also criticized U.S. fiscal policy, calling for the repeal of the automatic federal spending cuts, known as the sequester, and urging lawmakers to act promptly to raise the nation's debt limit.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketTaxesThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The Fiscal Stimulus Package of 2009The U.S. GovernmentBudgetPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate

0 Comments
Posted June 15, 2013 at 8:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

A U.S. economy that was supposed to be barely hanging on is starting to look surprisingly robust.

Housing prices rose faster over the past year than they have in the past seven, according to data out Tuesday. Consumer confidence hit its highest level in five years. The stock market rallied another 0.6 percent as measured by the Standard & Poor’s 500, leaving it just short of an all-time high reached last week. And the national retail price of gasoline fell for six days straight through Monday and is down 16 cents a gallon since late February.

It adds up to this reality: In a year when tax increases and spending cuts by the federal government were expected to bleed life out of the economy, the strengthening housing and financial markets are proving to be more powerful than acts of Congress.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceStock MarketThe U.S. GovernmentFederal ReservePolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate

0 Comments
Posted May 29, 2013 at 8:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“…that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain…”

--Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, November 19, 1863

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryDeath / Burial / Funerals* Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President

0 Comments
Posted May 27, 2013 at 11:02 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“My Fellow Americans:

“Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our Allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

“And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

“Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

“Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

“They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

“They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest -- until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men's souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

“For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.&

“Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

“And for us at home -- fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas, whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them -- help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

“Many people have urged that I call the nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

“Give us strength, too -- strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

“And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

“And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee; faith in our sons; faith in each other; faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment -- let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

“With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace -- a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

“Thy will be done, Almighty God.

“Amen.”

You can listen to the actual audio if you want here.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President

1 Comments
Posted May 27, 2013 at 10:31 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

Can we get real? For starters, $642 billion is serious money, and despite the modest improvements of the latest CBO report, the basic trends in federal finances remain the same. From 2014 to 2023, the government will spend $6 trillion more than it collects in taxes. The budget never comes close to balancing. Expanding spending on the elderly and health care continues to strangle the rest of government. As a share of the economy (gross domestic product), military and domestic discretionary programs (examples: drug approval, environmental regulation, Head Start, federal courts) drop about 40 percent from 2010 to 2023.

Nothing of consequence has changed. A few numbers have shifted slightly. That’s all. They moved in a favorable direction. Next time, they might go the other way. What’s also constant is the unwillingness of leaders of both parties, beginning with the president, to discuss budget choices candidly. The budget passed by the Democratic Senate barely touches entitlements for the elderly, which constitute the largest chunk of federal spending. The budget passed by the Republican House avoids a large tax increase only by making draconian and unrealistic spending cuts that would never pass Congress or be signed by the president.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyTaxesThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetMedicaidMedicareSocial SecurityThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate

0 Comments
Posted May 18, 2013 at 11:04 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

[...An] important strand of the British effort is what the UK government calls the “Prevent” strategy. This involves the police and local authorities working with Muslim organisations and communities to ensure that British nationals who become radicalised are identified and encouraged to channel their anger before they resort to violence.

Professor Michael Clarke, an expert on counter-terrorism at the Royal United Services Institute, a think-tank, says the strategy has had some success. “It is about getting the Muslim community to accept responsibility for people in their midst, helping to identify those who are radicalised and working with the police and local authorities to stop them before they plan attacks,” he says....like a number of UK experts, he argues that the US has been slow to tackle “homegrown” jihadism pre-emptively. “The Americans find it hard to accept that jihadism can arise from within their own society. They still feel the phenomenon is pushed into the US by outside forces or foreign actors.”

Read it all (if needed another link is there).

Filed under: * Culture-WatchScience & TechnologyUrban/City Life and IssuesViolenceYoung Adults* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentForeign RelationsPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenateTerrorism* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther FaithsIslam

0 Comments
Posted April 22, 2013 at 5:00 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

At this time of year, when most Americans have just filed their returns, exasperation with the income tax system reaches a peak. Hardly anyone denies it's a complex mess. In 2010, calculating their taxes cost Americans $168 billion, estimates the Taxpayer Advocate Service of the Internal Revenue Service. That's about 15 percent of taxes collected — a heavy overhead. Almost 60 percent of taxpayers pay accountants or other tax preparers. Public esteem for the tax system is low; in a 2011 Pew poll, 55 percent judged it unfair. Disaffection was fairly even politically: 47 percent among Republicans, 58 percent among Democrats and 56 percent among independents.

So “tax reform” ought to be a cinch, right? Well, no.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingCorporations/Corporate LifeHousing/Real Estate MarketLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketPersonal FinanceTaxesThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

0 Comments
Posted April 21, 2013 at 11:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On Monday, an act of terror wounded dozens and killed three innocent people at the Boston Marathon.

But in the days since, the world has witnessed one sure and steadfast truth: Americans refuse to be terrorized.

Ultimately, that’s what we’ll remember from this week. That’s what will remain. Stories of heroism and kindness; resolve and resilience; generosity and love....

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchUrban/City Life and IssuesViolence* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaTerrorism

0 Comments
Posted April 20, 2013 at 3:29 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

To tax reform advocates, the federal tax code is a shambling behemoth, its immense girth weighing down corporations and Jane and Joe Taxpayer alike. The code is more than 4 million words long and has been tweaked 4,680 times since 2001, or more than once a day, according to the Internal Revenue Service's National Taxpayer Advocate, whose job is to champion the poor schlubs who have to contend with the US tax system. Compliance takes more than 6 billion person-hours a year and costs $168 billion, the advocate's office reports.

Tax expenditures – the sober name for myriad loopholes, carve-outs, and incentives in the code – shield almost as much in revenue, at just over $1 trillion, as the $1.4 trillion collected each year.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchGlobalization* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifePersonal FinanceTaxesThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

1 Comments
Posted April 15, 2013 at 5:00 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Obama administration is engaged in a broad push to make more home loans available to people with weaker credit, an effort that officials say will help power the economic recovery but that skeptics say could open the door to the risky lending that caused the housing crash in the first place.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsEconomyConsumer/consumer spendingHousing/Real Estate MarketPersonal FinanceThe Banking System/SectorThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama

6 Comments
Posted April 3, 2013 at 6:49 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

“My Fellow Americans:

“Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our Allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

“And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

“Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

“Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

“They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

“They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest -- until the victory is won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men's souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

“For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.&

“Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

“And for us at home -- fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas, whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them -- help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

“Many people have urged that I call the nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

“Give us strength, too -- strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

“And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

“And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee; faith in our sons; faith in each other; faith in our united crusade. Let not the keenness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment -- let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

“With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace -- a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

“Thy will be done, Almighty God.

“Amen.”

You can listen to the actual audio if you want here.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeSpirituality/Prayer* Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

2 Comments
Posted February 18, 2013 at 10:05 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchHistory* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the President* International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.

1 Comments
Posted February 18, 2013 at 9:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

On Jan. 30, the Obama administration unveiled a long list of exemptions from the ObamaCare insurance mandate. Flaws and contradictions in the law will cause millions of people to be uninsured. The administration also estimated that the cheapest family plan will cost $20,000 by 2016. This new information indicates that the Affordable Care Act is failing in both goals: making insurance affordable and covering the uninsured.

Children are the biggest victims. The hastily drafted law, passed before it was read, overlooked them.

The law says that beginning in 2014, employers with 50 or more full-time employees must offer coverage or pay a penalty. The law's sloppy drafting left it unclear whether that meant worker's coverage or family coverage.

Read it all from IBD.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchChildrenHealth & Medicine--The 2009 American Health Care Reform DebateLaw & Legal Issues* Economics, PoliticsEconomyCorporations/Corporate LifeLabor/Labor Unions/Labor MarketThe U.S. GovernmentPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentSenate

4 Comments
Posted February 7, 2013 at 6:15 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The CBO forecast finds a persistent mismatch between tax revenue and spending over the coming decade. As the economy improves, tax revenue should rise to 19 percent of GDP for the period from 2015 through 2023, up from 15.8 percent in 2012, the report said. But federal spending, after an early-decade dip, will start rising persistently faster than revenues.

"After 2017, if current laws remain in place, outlays will start growing again as a percentage of GDP," the CBO said. "The aging of the population, increasing health care costs, and a significant expansion of eligibility for federal subsidies for health insurance will substantially boost spending for Social Security and for major health care programs relative to the size of the economy."

The CBO's current-law "baseline" calls for spending to reach about 23 percent of GDP in 2023 and, more worrisome, to be "on an upward trajectory."

Read it all.

Update: An IBD article is also available on this, entitled "CBO Report Shows We're Still Headed Toward A Fiscal Cliff" and it may be found there.



Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the Elderly* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe Credit Freeze Crisis of Fall 2008/The Recession of 2007--The U.S. GovernmentBudgetMedicareSocial SecurityThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate

0 Comments
Posted February 6, 2013 at 7:14 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The $1.2tn in automatic spending cuts that Barack Obama once promised to avert are looking increasingly likely to occur because of entrenched politics in Washington, threatening a shock to confidence in the US economy.

Economists have long assumed that the so-called sequester – a budgetary mechanism passed in 2011 that takes effect on March 1 and slashes the Pentagon’s budget by $600bn over 10 years while cutting discretionary spending for government programmes by another $600bn – would be replaced or reversed by Congress.

Many saw a recent move by Republicans on Capitol Hill to extend the US borrowing authority as a sign of greater co-operation with the White House. But conservative lawmakers have recently made it clear that they were simply gearing up for another fight, and are prepared to take a hard line on the $1.2tn in cuts even amid objections from military hawks.

Read it all (may require subscription).


Filed under: * Economics, PoliticsDefense, National Security, MilitaryEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate

4 Comments
Posted January 28, 2013 at 5:30 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

We agree with Obama that it will take a combination of tax increases and spending cuts to put the government's fiscal house in order. Republicans swallowed hard and accepted an increase in tax rates for the highest incomes to start the year. It's the Democrats' turn to recognize that federal benefit programs, and particularly healthcare entitlements such as Medicare and Medicaid, are on an unsustainable path despite the savings from the 2010 healthcare law.

Obama should lead a Democratic push for reforms that preserve these programs for those who need them, while also reducing the deficit and stopping the federal debt from growing faster than the economy. He's in the best position to lead on this issue, able to provide political cover for Democrats concerned that their constituents won't put up with changes to the status quo, while showing Republicans that there are ways to save money without abandoning the government's commitment to the elderly and poor. To create an opening for the rest of his agenda, he needs to step up to that role.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Culture-WatchAging / the ElderlyHealth & Medicine* Economics, PoliticsEconomyThe U.S. GovernmentBudgetMedicareSocial SecurityThe National DeficitPolitics in GeneralHouse of RepresentativesOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack ObamaSenate* TheologyEthics / Moral Theology

0 Comments
Posted January 24, 2013 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It's interesting that our culture is rarely scandalized by this preaching of the Cross. That's probably because it is a rare theme of Christian preaching these days. Instead we have been smitten with practical preaching that helps people become successful in life and business, and with ethical preaching that tells people how to live better. This is done for the noblest of reasons—to show the gospel relevant to people's daily needs, but one can see where this has gotten us. When the Cross is preached, it is often preached in a way that falls on deaf ears. It's seen as a theme for theologians to wax eloquent about with strange words like propitiation and justification, or something comforting to guilt-ridden religious types—but meaningless to regular human beings.

Need-driven preaching—even of the highest order, that is, our search for significance—communicates that Jesus is just another way to solve our problems. It is no wonder that the culture looks at us, pats us on the head, and says, "But we've found other, equally valid ways to solve our problems, thank you." We tend to think that postmoderns have brought relativism down upon us, but it seems, we Christians have been the culprits the more we make our message about meeting people's needs.

The most needful and difficult task of the church today is to again preach the message of the Cross, and to do so in a way that alarms, surprises, scandalizes, challenges, invigorates, and inspires a 21st century world. What that would look like exactly is hard to say; our theologians and pastors need to help us here. In the most general terms, it has to be about Christ first and last. It has to be about the Christ who came into the world not to improve generally good people, but to resurrect the dead, not to bolster our self-esteem but to forgive us, not to make people successful but to make them loving, not to win the culture but to establish a kingdom without end.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Christian Life / Church LifeParish MinistryPreaching / Homiletics* Culture-WatchReligion & CultureSexuality* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in GeneralOffice of the PresidentPresident Barack Obama* TheologyChristologySoteriology

0 Comments
Posted January 23, 2013 at 5:45 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]




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