George A. Sprecace M.D.,
J.D., F.A.C.P. and Allergy Associates of New
RESPONSE (Archives)...Daily Commentary on News of the Day
This is a new section. It will
quick reactions by myself to news and events of the day, day by day, in
this rapid-fire world of ours. Of course, as in military
a rapid response in one direction may occasionally have to be followed
by a "strategic withdrawal" in another direction. Charge that to
"the fog of war", and to the necessary flexibility any mental or
campaign must maintain to be effective. But the mission will
be the same: common sense, based upon facts and "real politick",
by a visceral sense of Justice and a commitment to be pro-active.
That's all I promise.
to return to the current Rapid Response list
SATURDAY and SUNDAY, MAY 30 and 31, 2009
Posted below are two recent articles from Zenit
which generally deal clearly with their subject matter. But, as
is too often the case, Church spokesmen frequently over-state their
case and unnecessarily turn off their Faithful. I continue to
address this problem in a series of commentaries under the same title,
above. A review of my articles # 1 and 3 are relevant
here. I refer to the comment in the first posted article: "The
Cardinal affirmed that priests, as well as married people,
are asked to live Chastity". By what authority? For
reasons already given, I believe that the Church has no
jurisdiction over the sexual life of a committed married Catholic
couple in the discharge of their multiple responsibilities
accepted with the vows of Matrimony.
Why am I dwelling on these matters of concern mainly to
Roman Catholics? Because these are pressing issues that now
affect all Americans in ways that are producing serious divisions and
ill will. The Catholic Clergy and Laity could play an
important role in promoting vital informed, moral and civil
dialogue among us...but only after we set our own House in order.
That's why. GS
ZENIT, The world seen from Rome
Cardinal Stands Up for Priestly Celibacy
Lima Prelate Says Notre Dame Is Confused
ROME, MAY 29, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Scandals that arise when priests fail
to live celibacy are not just about priestly discipline, but rather
about a failed understanding of human love, says the cardinal
archbishop of Lima, Peru.
ZENIT spoke with Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani about two recent scandals
regarding priestly celibacy that have attracted the attention of the
American continent -- Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo who admitted
he fathered a child while still a bishop, and Miami Father Alberto
Cutié who converted to the Episcopalian church this week after
photos of him with a woman were circulated.
"I think that we shouldn't speak just of these two cases, of celibacy,
but of human love in general," Cardinal Cipriani suggested, affirming
that "Deus Caritas Est" explains it well. "The Pope explains to us with
great detail how this love, which begins in this movement of 'eros'
Noting how God defines love clearly, not just with words, but also with
the sacrifice of his Son, the cardinal added that today, "in not
wanting to accept suffering, the sacrifice that life brings, love is
killed and what remains? Sexual possession. The capacity of suffering
has been amputated because of fear, cowardice, mediocrity, because only
success and pleasure are sought.
"We have killed the plant that arises from suffering, which is love,
and therefore in many human relationships, family relationships, a
totally material relationship arises, in which practically, the
integrity of the person is not involved. When this materialism takes
over human relationships, then the man and the woman become objects of
a sexual experience , this experience loses its stability, comes and
goes, doesn't produce that joy of surrender because it does not come
from suffering or sacrifice, and when a sickness comes or an economic
problem or a fight marriages break in the same way as these cases, like
Lugo or Father Cutié, who in the moment of feeling a sacrifice
greater than their strengths, break the promise they've made."
The cardinal affirmed that priests, as well as married people, are
asked to live chastity.
"There is a conjugal chastity and there is chastity in celibacy," he
said. "One who knows how to love and who has the experience of a
healthy and stable matrimonial love knows what I'm talking about. It is
the same that the Church offers to those of us who give up everything
for the love of God. It is not more or less difficult, but this product
of this love today is hard to find, and therefore, in a materialistic
and slightly hedonistic world, it is difficult to explain celibacy,
which is a treasure of the Church."
ZENIT also asked Cardinal Cipriani what he thought of this month's
turmoil over the decision by Notre Dame University to bestow an
honorary doctorate on the U.S. president, despite Barack Obama's
staunch support of abortion rights and other anti-life issues.
The cardinal answered that Catholic identity is not a decision of a
particular university or a rector or education official, but rather is
something given by the Church itself.
He explained: "What cannot be done and what is not done in any
institution is to say 'this automobile is a Toyota,' if the Toyota
manufacturer does not put his brand on it.
"I think there is a need for a little more clarity and authority.
Clarity from those who are responsible for being able to say: 'If you
don't want to be Catholic, then don't be.' But what we can't do is sell
a ruined product. To think that parents and their kids go to a
university that has the title of 'Catholic' and then it turns out that
it teaches what is contrary to the faith. This is a confusion or an
abuse. I think the Church has the duty to call things by their name."
Cardinal Cipriani said it seems a "provocation to give Catholic homage
to a president who in the first 100 days has boosted abortion, gay
marriage, investigations with embryonic cells, and an entire anti-life
agenda. It does not seem to me that he is the most adequate person to
receive recognition from the University of Notre Dame, which, by the
way, has been greatly confused for some years now."
The prelate suggested that this type of controversy has been around
since the beginning of the Church, with the difference that before,
"those who dissented left the Church; today they stay within, and this
seems to me that it requires of us, for love of the Church, a bit more
He offered the Holy Father as an example: "We see with what clarity and
love for the truth Benedict XVI has returned from the Holy Land. With
what joy, with what clarity he has taken up the themes that seemed
difficult, from the political point of view, but he has handled them
from the point of view of what a pilgrimage of peace wants, a vicar of
Christ. They love him more and more. He is more and more a leader who
illuminates more this world that is in darkness."
ZENIT, The world seen from Rome
Bishops Weigh in on California Gay Marriage Ban
Affirm State's Responsibility to Protect Family Structure
WASHINGTON, D.C., MAY 28, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The U.S. bishops'
conference lauded the California Supreme Court's decision to uphold the
voter-enacted ban on same-sex marriage.
In a statement released Wednesday, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of
Louisville, chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee for the Defense of
Marriage, reported the bishops' satisfaction with the decision.
He stated, "The court has thus respected the eminently reasonable
decision of the California electorate to retain the perennial
definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman."
The archbishop explained: "This respects the uniqueness of the marital
relationship and its service to the common good by respecting the value
of procreation and the good of children as well as the unique
complementarity of man and woman.
"Advancing the truth and beauty of marriage enhances, rather than
diminishes, the intrinsic dignity of every human person."
In 2000, Californians voted to keep marriage between a man and a woman.
But last May, the state's high court overturned that vote and approved
same-sex marriage. Some 18,000 gay couples were quick to take advantage
of the new prerogative.
California's citizens rallied to put the issue to vote again in
November. With slightly more than a 52% majority, same-sex marriage was
again made illegal in California, this time with a constitutional
That measure was known as Proposition 8 and it added to the California
Constitution the following clause: "Only marriage between a man and a
woman is valid or recognized in California."
However, activists succeeded in taking the issue back to the California
Supreme Court, contending that the ban needed legislature approval
before being added to the constitution.
The court's decision Tuesday upholds the ban, but does not "un-marry"
the 18,000 gay couples who wed between May and November.
The bishops' statement expressed concern that the court failed to apply
the marriage definition to these same-sex unions.
Archbishop Kurtz affirmed, "Attempts to change the legal definition of
marriage or to create simulations of marriage, often under the guise of
'equality,' 'civil rights,' and 'anti-discrimination,' do not serve the
"Such attempts," he said, "undermine the very nature of marriage and
overlook the essential place of marriage and family life in society."
The prelate continued, "The state has a responsibility to protect and
promote marriage as the union of one man and one woman as well as to
protect and promote the intrinsic dignity of every human person,
including homosexual persons."
He added that there are many ways to accomplish this, but "sacrificing
marriage is not one of them."
The California bishops' conference released an additional statement in
which Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton echoed the words of Archbishop
Quoting the natural law scholar and Princeton professor, Robert George,
the prelate affirmed: "No matter what, the law will teach. It will
either teach that marriage exists as a natural institution with public
purposes and meanings, centered around bridging the gender divide, and
bringing together one man and one woman to share their lives as husband
and wife and to become father and mother to their children, or it will
teach that marriage is a mere creation of the state, recognizing and
condoning the private sexual choices of adults."
"As Catholic bishops," the statement continued, "we are strongly
committed to protecting the dignity and worth of every human person."
It affirmed: "We endorse the intent of law to provide equal protection
for all. However, such purpose does not have to trump the natural and
traditional definition of marriage between a man and a woman.
"The law has found other ways to regulate civil unions without
destroying the traditional understanding of marriage.
"We believe -- as do the majority of Californians -- that marriage
between a man and a woman is foundational to our culture and crucial
for human perpetuity."
Ron Prentice, executive committee chairman of the coalition
ProtectMarriage.com, explained that although this court decision is a
victory for all supporters of Proposition 8, the work is not done.
He stated, "We will now turn our attention to public education and
outreach so that citizens come to better understand and appreciate the
many benefits that traditional marriage provides for society and our
"The institution of marriage as we have always understood it has served
California and our broader society since the nation was founded,"
He added, "We look forward to working with young people, churches,
ethnic communities and all of California with an ongoing discussion
about the benefits of traditional marriage."
FRIDAY, MAY 24 through 29, 2009
"PAST IS PROLOGUE".
The following is offered as a necessary antidote
(purgative?) for much of the cacophony on "Health Care Reform"
currently bombarding Americans from those great halls of Wisdom in
Washington. I have a large box currently overflowing with such
articles and declarations...all of which end with one form or another
of the question: "But how are we going to pay for it?".
And that is not even the most serious problem.
Please see my Rapid Response filed in this section for
February 16-19, 2009. Please see also my article on
this subject that was published in The Day (www.theday.com)
on May 27, 1978, entitled: "Don't Blame The Doctors For Rising
Medical Costs" (on this web site under the Category "Managed
Care Topics"). I could re-publish that article with just a few
minor changes today.
So, be careful, America. Health Care Reform,
done properly or botched, is literally a matter of life and
death...your life and death. GS
FRIDAY and SATURDAY, MAY 22 and 23, 2009
More clarity regarding Notre
Dame's confusion. GS
ZENIT, The world seen from Rome
Bishop Says Obama's Address Halted Dialogue
Affirms Need for Frontal Attack in Favor of Catholic Values
KANSAS CITY, Missouri, MAY 22, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Although the Notre
Dame president spoke hopefully about dialogue, President Barack Obama
threw that desire "back in his face," according to Bishop Robert
Finn.The Bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph affirmed this Monday in an
interview with the diocesan newspaper regarding the University of Notre
Dame's decision to honor President Obama at last Sunday's commencement
To date, 83 prelates have publicly denounced the decision as going
against 2004 guidelines set by the U.S. bishops' conference for
Catholic institutions of higher education, which state that schools
should not bestow honors on individuals who "act in defiance" of the
Church's fundamental teachings.
We cannot give up working with the administration, Bishop Finn said,
but "we're fighting for our lives -- literally."
He continued: "We are attempting to protect real unborn children by the
thousands. We're fighting for the right to exercise a rightly formed
conscientious difference with public policy.
"We shouldn't underestimate the danger of dragging our feet in this
effort, or taking a 'wait and see' approach. If we are not ready to
make a frontal attack on the protection of conscience rights, the
overturning of Roe vs. Wade, and the primacy of authentic marriage, we
will lose in these areas."
He added, "If we sit back and allow ourselves to be lulled into a false
sense of peace and cooperation in regards to these things, then we will
lose these battles and, later, wonder why."
The prelate commented on the commencement speech by the university
president, Father John Jenkins, who employed a series of "very hard
words," such as "division, pride, contempt, demonize, anger, distort,
hateful, condemn, hostility."
These words, he said, might be understood as a "caricature" of the
bishops who spoke out against the invitation.
Bishop Finn noted that Father Jenkins' address focused on encouraging
dialogue, and to this end, it referenced Benedict XVI, Pope John Paul
II's "Ex Corde Ecclesiae," and the Second Vatican Council.
The prelate affirmed, "Dialogue is important, but the question is
fairly raised, 'May we negotiate about things that are intrinsic
evils?' and I think the answer is no."
He continued: "The bishops realize the very destructive decisions that
President Obama promised to make concerning the life issues, and now
has been making in connection with abortion and human embryonic stem
cell research. This is serious business; it is about life and death."
The bishop explained that the scandal of Notre Dame's decision arises
from its "potential of confusing people concerning the Catholic
teaching against abortion, and on the priority of abortion among other
issues of public policy."
He noted that in the commencement address, Obama "said that the
differences that we have on abortion -- namely the Catholic Church's
staunch opposition to abortion and his staunch support of abortion were
"And at that moment," the prelate stated, "it would seem to me that the
dialogue came to a screeching halt."
"Father Jenkins' expressed desire for dialogue, whether it was
well-founded or justified, at that point got thrown back in his face,"
Bishop Finn explained: "The president shut the door on dialogue by
saying that there was not going to be any change in his position on
abortion and he understood that there was not going to be any change in
the Church's position on abortion.
"To me, that was the lesson of the day. I am glad that Mr. Obama was so
Although some may have seen it as a positive step that Obama spoke
about "reducing unintended pregnancies," the bishop said, "I fear" this
will be through the "promotion of Planned Parenthood and contraceptive
He noted the president's support for the Prevention First Act, which is
"not about abstinence education" but rather about "promoting
contraception and giving Planned Parenthood a huge blank check."
"If Catholics don't see a problem with this," said Bishop Finn, "then I
don't think they understand the threat it represents to the meaning of
marriage, to fidelity, to chastity, to the very sanctity of human life
and intimate love."
THURSDAY, MAY 21, 2009
WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE
CATHOLIC CHURCH - # 7
Hard and heart-wrenching to believe...and still no Act of
Contrition. Who were - and perhaps are - these people
anyway? And where is the Magisterium when we really need
Church shamed by Irish abuse report
– After a nine-year investigation, a commission published a damning
report Wednesday on decades of rapes, humiliation and beatings at Catholic Church-run reform schools for
Ireland's castaway children.
2,600-page report painted the most detailed and damning portrait yet of
church-administered abuse in a country grown weary of revelations about
child molestation by priests.
of the tax-supported schools uncovered previously secret Vatican
records that demonstrated church knowledge of pedophiles in their ranks
all the way back to the 1930s.
Wednesday's five-volume report on the
probe — which was resisted by Catholic religious orders — concluded that
church officials shielded their orders' pedophiles from arrest amid a
culture of self-serving secrecy.
climate of fear, created by pervasive, excessive and arbitrary
punishment, permeated most of the institutions and all those run for
boys. Children lived with the daily terror of not knowing where the
next beating was coming from," Ireland's Commission to Inquire Into
Child Abuse concluded.
Victims of the abuse,
who are now in their 50s to 80s, lobbied long and hard for an official
investigation. They say that for all its incredible detail, the report
doesn't nail down what really matters — the names of their abusers.
do genuinely believe that it would have been a further step towards our
healing if our abusers had been named and shamed," said Christine
Buckley, 62, who spent the first 18 years of her life in a Dublin
orphanage where children were forced to manufacture rosaries — and were
humiliated, beaten and raped whether they achieved their quota or not.
Catholic religious orders that ran more than 50 workhouse-style reform
schools from the late 19th century until the mid-1990s offered public
words of apology, shame and regret Wednesday. But when questioned,
their leaders indicated they would continue to protect the identities
of clergy accused of abuse — men and women who were never reported to
police, and were instead permitted to change jobs and keep harming
The Christian Brothers,
which ran several boys' institutions deemed to have harbored serial
child molesters and sadists on their staff, insisted it had cooperated
fully with the probe. The order successfully sued the commission in
2004 to keep the identities of all of its members, dead or alive,
unnamed in the report. No real names, whether of victims or
perpetrators, appear in the final document.
The Christian Brothers' leader in Ireland,
Brother Kevin Mullan, said the organization had been right to keep
names secret because "perhaps we had doubts about some of the
"But on the other hand, I'd have
to say that at this stage, we have no interest in protecting people who
were perpetrators of abuse," Mullan said, vowing to "cooperate fully
with any investigation or any civil authority seeking to explore those
Buckley, who said she was abused at an
orphanage run by the Sisters of Mercy,
which ran several refuges for girls where the report documented chronic
brutality, said the religious orders for years branded the victims as
money-seeking liars — and were incapable of admitting their guilt today.
criticized Mullan for suggesting that "today, having read the report,
he doesn't mind if the abusers are named and shamed. Isn't that a
little bit late for us?"
The report found that molestation and
rape were "endemic" in boys' facilities, chiefly run by the Christian Brothers order,
and supervisors pursued policies that increased the danger. Girls
supervised by orders of nuns, chiefly the Sisters of Mercy, suffered
much less sexual abuse but frequent assaults and humiliation designed
to make them feel worthless.
"In some schools a
high level of ritualized beating was routine. ... Girls were struck
with implements designed to maximize pain and were struck on all parts
of the body," the report said. "Personal and family denigration was
Ireland's myriad religious orders, much
like their mother church,
have been devastated by 15 years of scandals involving past cover-ups
of abusers in their ranks.
The Christian Brothers
have withdrawn from running several schools that still bear their name
and the order has had few recruits in Ireland in the past two decades.
Other orders are down to a handful of members, and their bases are
closer to nursing homes than active missions.
"Most of these orders will literally die
out in Ireland within the next generation or so," said Michael Kelly,
editor of the Irish Catholic
newspaper in Dublin. "Many of them are already in wind-up mode. They
lack the confidence even to seek new vocations (recruits), due to the
stigma associated with their members' shocking, scandalous behavior."
The Irish government,
which in 1999 apologized for its role in permitting decades of abuse
and established the commission to nail down the full truth of the
matter, has tried to use money to bring closure to the victims.
A government-appointed panel has paid
12,000 survivors of the
schools, orphanages and other church-run residences an average of
$90,000 each — on condition they surrender their right to sue either
the church or state. About 2,000 more claims are pending. Irish Catholic leaders
cut a controversial deal with the government in 2001 that capped the
church's contribution at $175 million — a fraction of the final cost.
Some victims emphasized, even as they
began thumbing through
the report, that nothing — not even criminal convictions of their
long-ago tormentors — will ever put right their psychological wounds
and make their nightmares go away.
Tom Sweeney, who spent five years in two
institutions where he was placed for truancy, says he suffered sexual
abuse and beatings. He also has bitter memories about more everyday
humiliations — such as being forced to wrap his urine-stained sheets
around his neck and parade in front of other children when he'd wet his
"It's something you'll never forget, the
way you lived in these industrial schools,"
WEDNESDAY, MAY 20, 2009
arrogant, asinine". Same ol', same ol'from the
botches 3 subjects at news conference
WASHINGTON – Senate Majority Leader Harry
became the latest Democrat to stray into rhetorical trouble Tuesday,
botching statements on three subjects in one news conference —
including the fragile health of the chamber's most senior members. The
Nevada Democrat reported that one of them, Sen. Edward Kennedy,
D-Mass., was absent because he was receiving a new round of treatment
for his brain cancer. Asked if the cancer was in remission, Reid
replied, "As far as I know, it is, yes."
office refused to confirm Reid's comments or make any statement in
response, the public silence a classic Washington disavowal.
Reid was then asked about Sen. Robert C. Byrd,
at 91 the longest-serving senator in history, who was hospitalized over
the weekend for an infection. Reid reported that Byrd was to be
released from the hospital Tuesday or perhaps later in the week.
is improving," responded his spokesman, Jesse Jacobs. "But his doctors,
in consultation with his family, have not yet determined when he will
Reid also mangled his party's
position on the congressional news of the day, that Senate Democrats
would join their House counterparts in withholding the money President Barack Obama needs to
close the Guantanamo Bay prison until Obama comes up with a plan for
relocating its prisoners.
Reid went further than saying he wanted to see a plan for the money
before Congress approves it. "We will never allow terrorists to be
released into the United States," he said.
one, of course, was talking about releasing terrorism suspects among
the American populace. Imprisoning them, perhaps, but not releasing
"Part of what we don't want is them be
put in prisons in the United States,"
Reid clarified but digging himself into a bigger hole by departing
significantly from some of his colleagues and administration officials.
"We don't want them around the United States."
Did the administration put Democrats in
an awkward position, asking for the money before setting out how it
would be spent?
"Not at all," said Reid.
"Yes," his deputy, Sen. Dick Durbin
replied to the same question.
Even the post-gaffe handling of Reid's
remarks was awkward. Spokesman Jim Manley,
who previously worked for Kennedy for years, swept through the press
gallery to clean up after his boss. He retracted Reid's assessment of
Kennedy's condition. He clarified Reid's comments about the Guantanamo Bay prison.
Manley's job was no fun at that moment, a
"Not so much," he said.
was diagnosed a year ago with incurable brain cancer and has undergone
multiple treatments that wouldn't likely be necessary were the disease
in remission. He has nonetheless been working behind the scenes on a
sweeping health care
reform bill that is one of Obama's top priorities.
meanwhile, has survived several rounds of rumors about his
deteriorating health. He has relished rebutting them with cutting
statements or just by showing up on the Senate floor to vote.
It's not the first time Reid has walked
into a wall of trouble for commenting on a colleague's medical condition.
Who's voting and who's not is crucial in a chamber where 60 votes can
shut down filibusters.
Reid also spun positive when discussing
the health of South Dakota Sen. Tim Johnson
after the Democrat suffered a life-threatening brain hemorrhage in December 2006,
threatening his party's incoming one-seat majority.
In May 2008, after Johnson had returned
to the Senate needing a
wheelchair, Reid revealed the rest of the picture. He told Jon Stewart,
host of Comedy Central's "The Daily Show," that Johnson had been "in a
coma for five weeks, near death three or four times during that period
On Tuesday, Reid's world continued to
spin, with ample backpedaling.
"Senator Reid will
leave the diagnosing to doctors," Manley said late in the day. "But he
does look forward to the prospect of Senator Kennedy's return to the Senate as
soon as he is able."
Manley also issued a statement with which
no one could quibble.
"Tomorrow is another day."
TUESDAY, MAY 19, 2009
As I noted months ago in this section, President
Obama will have to pry himself away from the crazies on his Left if he
wants to accomplish something and have a chance at a second term.
Obama moving to center on some issues
WASHINGTON – On both economic and
national-security fronts, President Barack Obama
is giving ground and crossing swords with political allies.
Caught in the worst economic downturn
in generations, Obama has had to temper his stance on trade and lower
his expectations for trimming charitable tax breaks for the wealthy and
for taxing greenhouse-gas polluters.
the first president to be pulled toward the political center after
being elected. But the recession and two wars abroad put him in a
particularly tough spot — with smaller margins for error.
the deficit mushrooming, lawmakers in both parties are worrying more
and more about rivers of government red ink. Yet, Obama's efforts to
try to modestly pare back funds for some pet Democratic projects in the
name of fiscal discipline have drawn sharp criticism from some of his
otherwise staunch liberal allies.
He frequently complains he inherited a
$1.2 trillion deficit from President George W. Bush.
But Obama's presidency, not yet four
months old, has put the government on track for a $1.8 trillion
almost 13 percent of the nation's gross domestic product — a level not
seen since 1945. By contrast, the 2008 deficit — for the budget year
that ended last September — was a then-record $454.8 billion.
Obama reversed course and is seeking to block the court-ordered release
of detainee-abuse photos, revived military trials for terror suspects
at Guantanamo Bay
and is markedly increasing the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan "could well be Obama's
Vietnam, eventually," said James Thurber, a
political scientist at American
even though Obama may be irritating liberal purists on both national
security and domestic policy, he has no real choice but to move toward
the middle. "Most presidents do that once they start governing.
Otherwise, you don't get much done," Thurber said.
Some of Obama's steps as he seeks support
across a broad political spectrum,
including trying to recycle spending cuts pushed by Bush and revamping
Bush's military commissions, have put the White House on the spot.
"The easy decisions don't get to his
desk," White House press
secretary Robert Gibbs
said Tuesday when asked about the military commissions. "I don't think
the president was under any illusions this was going to be easy in the
campaign, he isn't under any illusions that it's going to be easy now.
A lot of things that are right and worth doing aren't necessarily easy."
Right now, Obama has been coming under a
fair amount of not-so-friendly fire.
Obama's former Illinois colleague, Sen. Richard Durbin,
singled out the president's request to Congress for $80 million to
relocate Guantanamo's 240 detainees. Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat, said
Tuesday that the Senate would not comply until the administration
produces a more detailed plan on where the detainees will be sent.
Gibbs said Obama would outline much of that plan in a speech Thursday.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein,
D-Calif., ripped Obama's proposal to eliminate a $400 million annual
program to reimburse local governments for housing jailed illegal
immigrants, saying it "deprives communities of critical funding for
public safety services."
As to Obama's proposal to phase out
federal payments to farmers with sales exceeding $500,000 a year, "That
won't go anywhere," Senate
Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont.,
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md.,
said he thought that taxing employee health benefits ought to be on the
table during the health
care debate, a position opposed vigorously by candidate Obama.
talked tough about protecting U.S. workers against overseas competition
as he ran for president, even promising to push to renegotiate the North American Free Trade
Agreement. But he's had little to say on the subject in office.
His trade representative, Ron Kirk,
recently announced the administration planned to finish up outstanding
Bush-era free trade
agreements with Colombia,
South Korea and
Panama, agreements many Democrats have criticized.
Rob Shapiro, a former economic adviser to
President Bill Clinton,
said Obama's winning of congressional support for the $787 billion economic stimulus plan
soon after taking office, mostly on terms he wanted, remains a major
The next crucial test will be whether
Obama can make progress on health
care overhaul, a signature proposal for his first term, said Shapiro,
now with NDN, a centrist think tank formerly known as the New
Democratic Network. Some of the other issues matter less, since
presidents rarely get everything they want even from a Congress
controlled by their own party, he said.
"Obama calls himself a pragmatist. That
often ends up with
fairly centrist policies," Shapiro said. "In the end, the progressives,
the left in Congress, will support the president even on getting a half
loaf in health care rather than a full loaf," he added.
Stephen J. Cimbala, a political science professor
at Penn State University, Brandywine Campus, said Obama is a quick
study, showing "political shrewdness and an ability to adapt to
conditions and circumstances on the run."
Cimbala said Obama's present course
reflects "the difference between running for office and being
EDITOR'S NOTE — Tom Raum covers politics
and economics for The Associated Press.
MONDAY, MAY 18, 2009
FOLKS, A LOT OF GOOD PEOPLE...OUR FRIENDS,
NEIGHBORS, FELLOW CITIZENS...ARE UNDER A LOT OF UNDESERVED STRESS
NOW. THOSE OF US IN A BETTER POSITION SHOULD DO AS MUCH AS WE CAN
FOR THEM. Our churches and other places of worship are a good
conduit for such help. GS
AP IMPACT: Stress map outlines
Through the voices of its people, the map shouts.
From Atlanta, Ga., listen to Marian Chamberlain — 65, jobless, and
no longer eligible for unemployment: "I will never be able to retire."
From Shakopee, Minn., listen to Bruce Paul, 56, a vintage car
mechanic laid off in January and unemployed for the first time since Richard Nixon was
president. Today he and his wife spend their days in the public library
to reduce energy costs at home. "You go out and they say, you know, you
need a resume. And I say, `A resume? What's that?'"
From Broomfield, Colo., listen to U.S. Marine and construction
worker Simon Todt, 27, a combat-arms specialist who returned from three
tours in Iraq
only to be laid off from his construction job in December. He smiles
wanly as he sums up his situation: "There's not a big calling in the
civilian world for explosives."
The republic is brimming with Americans like these. And the
Associated Press Economic Stress Map helps us find their voices and
tell their stories.
For generations, maps have told tales that words and numbers alone
cannot. Maps guided us to the New World, helped us navigate from its
edges into its interior. Vague, undefined maps showed Lewis & Clark where
to go next — and in turn gave us fresher, more accurate maps that
fueled further explorations. Maps outlined the frontier for settlement
and showed us where to find the silver, the gold and the coal that made
us prosperous. Computer mapping helps businesses expand, prosper and
find new customers.
The interactive Stress Map offers insight into the American
recession, translating it into misery and geography using an equation,
the Stress Index, that shows us — state by state, county by county —
just how uncertain and battered around we actually are. It takes the
numbers, the pronouncements, the big plans for recovery and illustrates
what they mean on Main Street USA, or what passes for it in
21st-century American communities.
The Stress Index synthesizes three complex sets of ever-evolving
data. By factoring in monthly numbers for foreclosure, bankruptcy and —
most painfully — unemployment, the AP has assembled a numeral that
reflects the comparative pain each American county is feeling during
these dark economic days.
Here are some fleeting examples of what the Stress Index tells us:
_The current recession spread like an epidemic from isolation to
ubiquity, marching from sequestered pockets of foreclosure to a
nationwide explosion of misery as unemployment overtook foreclosures as
the dominant misfortune of this recession.
_Places with technology-based economies were recession-proof for a
while but aren't now.
_Places with large numbers of government jobs — state capitals,
university towns, communities with concentrations of hospitals — remain
fairly recession-proof. These are places like Columbia, Mo.; Madison, Wis.; the
Raleigh, N.C., area; and Athens, Ga.
_State government is not hurting that much — at least, not yet.
_The regions we look to for our traditional sources of energy, for
our coal and oil — Wyoming,
West Virginia and the like — have generally not been hit as hard.
_While bankruptcy declarations are happening everywhere, they tend
to be higher in the South because of such things as low wages, state
laws that give power to creditors and a culture that's more familiar
with the bankruptcy option.
_Among counties with 25,000-plus residents, no place has been hit
harder than Elkhart County, Ind., and that 15 of the 20 American
counties hit hardest by the recession in the past year are in six
states — Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, North
Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee.
The Stress Index is not merely a map of misery, though. When
recovery comes, it can be a map of optimism as well, a welcome
harbinger of better days approaching. Going forward, it can track the
recovery we hunger for — show us where it is poking its head up, where
it is spreading and who it is leaving behind.
The map, and the numbers behind it, cannot tell us everything. No
single number can track Americans' net worth, no monthly barometer
indicates the pain factor of people who lost retirement funds, whose
stocks vanished out from under them, who dutifully set aside nest eggs
that now amount to little or nothing.
But it can help compare and contrast places, then find the people
who breathe life into the numbers that characterize their regions and
their hometowns. It can illustrate emerging trends — why are certain
areas starting to recover while others are lagging behind? — and offer
early hints to where the tightness of economic stress might be starting
Where can we go with this map? It can carry us to Los Gatos, Calif., one
of the high-tech regions that seemed to be escaping the worst of the
recession but is now clawing to keep pace. It can point us toward
Champaign, Ill., an example of the trend that communities with
government institutions tend to be more recession-proof than other
It can highlight Burlington, N.C., where the manufacturing jobs that
disappeared might never be coming back, and Myrtle Beach, S.C., where
unemployment and foreclosures have locals wondering when the dividends
of the American vacation economy will shine upon them once more.
There was a time, not so long ago, when the problem was that we
didn't have enough information. Now, you can argue, we have too much —
dizzyingly so. And instead of being tasked with accumulating enough
data to understand our world, now we spend our jumbled days shuffling
through the information that's out there, struggling to make sense of
it and harness it to improve our lives.
For the immediate future, the AP Economic Stress Map will attempt to
do just that for the United States. AP reporters will be fanning out
across the land, telling regular stories based on the monthly numbers —
stories of people like Ron Edo, 42, an aircraft maintenance worker from
Temecula, Calif., who has sent out more than 1,500 resumes since he
lost his job a year ago.
"Luckily I saved when I was young," he says. "My parents used to
always tell me to save for a rainy day. And it's pouring."
There are many more like him. The map shouts — and in doing so,
points us to the stories of the most wrenching economic conundrum of
EDITOR'S NOTE — Ted Anthony covers American culture for The
SUNDAY, MAY 17, 2009
Random thoughts on News reports.
- It seems that everyone with access to "the media"...and today
that means everyone...has opinions and suggestions for treating the
malady that is the current National Republican Party.
This has also been addressed in earlier offerings in this
section. What is needed is not resignation and playing "me
too". Rather, what is needed is a clear delineation of First
Principles: small government, consistent with the Tenth
Amendment to the U.S. Constitution; emphasis on personal freedom and
associated personal responsibility; national and personal fiscal
prudence; a public and private morality consistent with Judeo-Christian
ideals; embracing immigrant and alien status as the special protected
category of fellow Americans on which this nation has always based its
future; and an unending battle against abortion and for human rights
from conception to grave. Beyond these principles, tolerance
should be key. Thus, the fundamentalist Right and the
too-accommodating "moderates" in the Party must reform their
positions...not as much for the sake of the Republican Party as for the
future of a two-party political system on which this country relies for
- "Torture". "The Geneva Convention". Once
more, with feeling: These important principles were never relevant
or applicable in dealing with Terrorism or terrorists. Those
responsible for safeguarding this country from another terrorist attack
failed to make that crystal-clear, both in recent years and now.
Perhaps even President Obama is belatedly beginning to
- "Declining Immigration Shows Asian, Hispanic Growth"
(by Hope Yen, AP, in The Day Thursday, May 14, 2009, pA6). Now is
the time, in a slack tide rather than in a flood tide, to make
comprehensive repairs to our national sea wall of Immigration
- Once again, David Brooks encapsulates what I
have also been saying about the "Go For Broke" attitude of this
administration toward the nation's financial future - for decades to
come. See "Fiscal Suicide Ahead", in
The Day Saturday, May 16, 2009, pA5.
- Locally, but with national relevance, Gary Farrugia,
Publisher of The Day (www.theday.com),
published in the May 14 edition (pA9) a thoughtful Q and A about the
state of Journalism...particularly of print media. I agree with
most of what he expressed. However, I have a problem with two
observations and one omission. One relates to his generally positive
view of developments in cyberspace...a Wild West show that sorely needs
a local sheriff. The other relates to The Day's "search" for "a
commentator who can argue local and state social issues from the
right's perspective." You gotta be kidding! I am
intimately familiar with at least one person who could fill that bill
admirably. With regard to the omission from his comments, what
the public wants and sorely needs from its print media is fact-based
investigative reporting that tests the honesty and accuracy of
everything else inundating us under the rubric "information".
Only a newspaper that provides that product deserves to
- Finally, Charles Potter's column entitled "Excellence
Is What NL Needs" got my attention (in The Day Saturday,
May 16, 2009, pC1). It had too much of the Economist's Prayer
in it: "On the one hand; on the other hand". But he has exactly
the right prescription for a community that has for too long settled
instead of chosen. In fact, I began my public service career in
New London in the 1960's with a motto on which I ran successfully twice
for the Board of Education: "Excellence in Our Education
Industry", Of course, we all know what happened to that
lofty idea after the national teachers' unions took over public
education. But we who appreciate excellence...or at least
competence...must continue to seek that for New London,
Ct., "a garden spot of the world...in constant need of weeding".
FRIDAY and SATURDAY, MAY 15 and 16, 2009
LEST WE GET OUR NEWS FROM ASININE POLITICAL "COMEDIANS". GS
The world seen from Rome
Pilgrimage Ends With a Bang
XVI Sums Up Message in Packed Address
Father Thomas D. Williams, LC
MAY 15, 2009 (Zenit.org).- As I write this, Benedict XVI is flying back
to Rome, having left Tel Aviv Airport less than an hour ago. Yet it
turns out that his final send-off at the airport entailed more than a
took advantage of his last meeting with Israeli President Shimon Peres
to reiterate the key messages of his pilgrimage to the Holy Land. This
Pope -- whom many consider incapable of uttering a sound bite --
managed to condense his week's message into an 859-word address that
lasted no more than three minutes. Somehow in this brief interval he
was able to encapsulate the gist of the 29 different encounters that he
had throughout this action-packed week. It seemed as if he were back in
the university classroom once again, summing up his day's lecture to
keep his more distracted students on track.
wasted no time in getting back to the thorny issue of Catholic-Jewish
relations, noting first how Christianity had grown out of Judaism.
Benedict made reference to the olive tree that he and President Peres
had planted together in the garden of the presidential palace earlier
in the week. He drew a parallel to Saint Paul's use of the olive tree
as an image to express how the Christian Church was "grafted onto the
cultivated olive tree which is the People of the Covenant." In words
that could only facilitate Jewish-Christian dialogue, he reminded his
hearers: "We are nourished from the same spiritual roots. We meet as
brothers, brothers who at times in our history have had a tense
relationship, but now are firmly committed to building bridges of
there Benedict moved to Monday's Yad Vashem encounter, where the Holy
Father had paid his respects to the many Jews who lost their lives in
the Shoah as well as meeting with six Holocaust survivors. As if in
answer to his critics who thought that Benedict had showed too little
emotion at the meeting, the Pope called the encounter "deeply moving"
and went on to evoke the memory of his visit three years earlier to the
death camp at Auschwitz "where so many Jews -- mothers, fathers,
husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, friends -- were brutally
exterminated under a godless regime that propagated an ideology of
anti-Semitism and hatred."
put the final nail in the coffin, especially after his much-criticized
lifting of the excommunication of Holocaust-denier Richard Williamson,
the Pope stated: "That appalling chapter of history must never be
forgotten or denied."
wasn't the end of the emotions, however, as Benedict went on to use
moving language in referring to the strife that still exists between
Israelis and Palestinians. Benedict called himself a "friend of the
Israelis," as well as "a friend of the Palestinian people" and went on
to say that no friend "can fail to weep at the suffering and loss of
life that both peoples have endured over the last six decades."
the strongest language of his entire visit, Benedict made an
impassioned appeal: "No more bloodshed! No more fighting! No more
terrorism! No more war! Instead let us break the vicious circle of
violence. Let there be lasting peace based on justice, let there be
genuine reconciliation and healing."
to leave no doubts what all this means in practical terms, Benedict
declared his intentions in the clearest of terms. First, to those who
still dispute Israel's right to exist as a state, Benedict stated: "Let
it be universally recognized that the State of Israel has the right to
exist, and to enjoy peace and security within internationally agreed
borders." Yesterday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had
requested that the Pope denounce Iran on Israel's behalf, especially
regarding Iran's repudiation of Israeli statehood. While avoiding
mentioning Iran by name, Benedict lost no time in doing just that.
on to the flip side of the relation, he said: "Let it be likewise
acknowledged that the Palestinian people have a right to a sovereign
independent homeland, to live with dignity and to travel freely. Let
the two-state solution become a reality, not remain a dream."
anyone still harbored doubts regarding Benedict XVI's political
aspirations for the Holy Land, this clear statement should leave little
room for doubt. His final appeal, in fact, made the next practical step
more concrete still. Returning to a theme that he had broached on
Wednesday in Bethlehem, Benedict called the wall separating
Palestinians from Israelis "one of the saddest sights for me during my
visit to these lands." Acknowledging "how hard it will be to achieve
that goal," Benedict said that he had prayed, and that Catholics would
continue to pray, "for a future in which the peoples of the Holy Land
can live together in peace and harmony without the need for such
instruments of security and separation."
anyone looking for a concise summary of Benedict's weeklong trip to the
Holy Land, and especially the second leg in Israel and the Palestinian
Territories, Benedict himself provided the material. Benedict's
goodwill and intentions are evident. It remains to be seen what kind of
reception this message will receive in the hearts of his hearers.
of Christ Father Thomas D. Williams, an American theologian living in
Rome, is providing commentary for CBS News on Benedict XVI's historic
visit to the Holy Land. He is offering a chronicle of his trip for
ZENIT as well.
THURSDAY, MAY 13 and 14, 2009
WHAT'S WRONG - AND RIGHT - WITH THE CATHOLIC CHURCH - #6
The news here is not all bad, an impression which I may
unintentionally have given through my first five critiques of today's
Church. The weakness of the Hierarchy; the avoidable alienation
of the Laity, as it is simultaneously harrassed and ignored; the
misguided and risk-averse efforts to be "political" with secular
authorities instead of "speaking Truth to power". All of this is
true. But also true is the fact that this is the One True Church,
firmly based upon both the Old and the New Testaments; not necessarily
the only way to God, as St. Peter and some Church
pronouncements have declared...but the most direct route back to
A glimpse of this is found in the current pilgrimage of Pope
Benedict to the Holy Land. He is doing and saying the right
things, rather than the "political" things: about the Holocaust; about
a Palestinian State; and by inference about the missteps the Israeli
people have made in the last several decades - over and above their
absolute right of self-defense - as they try to achieve an
inaccessible Israel of the Bible. He has extended a hand of peace
to the people of Islam, despite the clenched fist he often gets in
return. This is leadership.
Now, if only he and his advisors can find a way to distinguish the
eternal and incontrovertible message of the Catholic Faith from
the unnecessary and harmful detritus, as outlined in previous articles
on this subject. We pray for such Wisdom.
TUESDAY, MAY 12, 2009
"WOW. WHO WOUDDA THUNK IT. See also my comments on
the subject in the Rapid Response offering of Feb. 16-19, 2009, as well
as relevant comments dating back to the 1970's...found on this web
costs complicate Obama's health care plan
WASHINGTON – Costs are emerging as the
biggest obstacle to President Barack Obama's
ambitious plan to provide health insurance for everybody.
upfront tab could reach $1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion over 10 years,
while expected savings from wringing waste and inefficiency from the health care system may
take longer to show.
Details of the health legislation
have not been written, but the broad outlines of the overhaul are
known. Economists and other experts say the $634 billion that Obama's
budget sets aside for health care will pay perhaps half the cost.
is hoping the Senate comes up with a bipartisan compromise that would
give him political cover for disagreeable decisions to raise more
money, such as taxing some health insurance benefits. In the 2008
campaign, Obama went after his Republican presidential rival, Arizona Sen. John McCain, for
proposing a large-scale version of that idea.
Concerns about costs could spill over in
the coming week when the Senate
holds a hearing on how to pay for coverage. Committee leaders hoping to
have a bill before the full Senate this summer must first convince
their own members that it won't break the bank.
"You go to a town meeting and people are talking about
bailout fatigue," said Sen. Ron Wyden,
D-Ore. "They like the president. They think he's a straight shooter.
But they are concerned about the amount of money that is heading out
the door, and the debts their kids are going to have to absorb."
Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., said cost control has
to come ahead of getting more people covered. "Unless we halt
skyrocketing health care
costs, any attempt to expand coverage will be financially
unsustainable," he said.
wants to build on the current system in which employers, government and
individuals share responsibility for health care. He says his plan
would make health insurance more affordable, particularly for small
businesses and individuals. The government would subsidize coverage for
low-income people and some in the middle class.
U.S. spends about $2.5 trillion a year on health care, more than any
other advanced country. Experts estimate that at least one-third of
that spending goes for services that provide little or no benefit to
patients. So theoretically, there's enough money in the system to cover
everybody, including an estimated 50 million uninsured.
But one person's wasteful spending is
someone else's bread and butter.
office visits, tests, procedures and medications that the experts
question represent a lot of money for doctors, hospitals, drug
companies and other service providers. Dialing them back won't be easy.
Providers will resist. Patients might complain their care is getting
The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee,
Sen. Max Baucus,
said "it's clear that the financing of this is not going to be easy."
Baucus, D-Mont., says the basic approach to health care must become
more economically efficient.
Instead of paying
doctors and hospitals for the number of services they provide, as
happens now, Baucus wants to tie reimbursement to the quality of care.
Quality would measured by standards that doctors and hospitals have a
hand in shaping.
Yet those kinds of changes take time,
several years or even the better part of a decade.
The money to cover the uninsured will be
needed right away, about $125 billion to $150 billion a year.
That leaves hard choices for lawmakers
favors requiring individuals to get health insurance, which will help.
But he also supports subsidies for people who can't afford coverage — a
cost to the government.
To help close the money
gap, Baucus is open to some limits on the current tax-free treatment of
employer-provided health insurance.
Health benefits are considered part of an
compensation, but are not taxed. If all health insurance were taxed
like regular income, the government could raise an additional $250
billion a year.
In the campaign, Obama opposed tampering
employer-based health care, saying it would undermine the system that
delivers coverage to most people. Other prominent Democrats agree.
Asked if he would support taxing benefits, Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., the top
tax-writer in the House, simply said: "No way!"
Baucus says doing away with the tax break
altogether would cause harm,
but some limitations might curb waste in the system. Obama's aides say
he's still opposed, but willing to consider any serious proposals from
Obama's opposition to taxing
employer-provided health insurance
isn't the only campaign position he might have to jettison to pay for
He once criticized his chief Democratic
presidential rival, Hillary Rodham Clinton,
for proposing that everyone in the U.S. be required to have medical
insurance. Yet such a mandate probably will be in what Congress puts
together because requiring individuals to pay would lower federal
For Obama, there are no easy ways to pay
for health care.
Options include raising other taxes, cutting deeply into Medicare
payments to providers, or phasing in the expansion of coverage for the
uninsured — beyond his four-year term.
MONDAY, MAY 11, 2009
turn as comedian in chief
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama
served as comedian in chief on Saturday night, predicting that his
second 100 days in office will be so successful that he will wrap them
up in record time.
"I must confess I really did not want to
be here tonight," Obama told guests at the White House Correspondents'
Association dinner -- an annual black-tie gathering of
journalists, politicians and Hollywood celebrities. "But I knew I had
to come. That's one more problem that I inherited from George W. Bush."
Alluding to his reputation for staying
cool and on message, Obama ticked off a series of goals he hoped to
In the next 100 days, he said, he would
learn to go off the teleprompter and Vice President Joe Biden, famous for
verbal gaffes, "will learn to stay on the prompter."
Obama said he also expected to
house-train his new, seven-month-old Portuguese water dog, Bo.
"The last thing Tim Geithner
needs is someone else treating him like a fire hydrant," he said,
referring to his treasury secretary. Geithner was forced to pay $34,000
in unpaid back taxes before being confirmed to his job and he has been
criticized for his handling of the financial crisis.
"Finally, I believe that my next 100 days
will be so successful that I
will be able to complete them in 72 days. And on the 73rd day, I will
rest," he joshed.
In a dig at the press, Obama said: "We
look for you for truth -- even if it's always an approximation."
Obama later endured some ribbing from
stand-up comic Wanda Sykes.
She shared the head table at the dinner that brought together some
2,700 people at the $200-a-plate event -- proceeds of which went to
charity and to fund journalism scholarships.
Sykes, known for her blunt take on
current events, mused about her pride in Obama's being the country's
first black president.
"That's unless you screw up," she said,
turning to him from the podium.
"And then it's going to be -- what's up with the half-white guy."
SUNDAY, MAY 10, 2009
SATURDAY, MAY 9, 2009
SUNDAY through FRIDAY, MAY 3 through 8, 2009
WHAT'S WRONG WITH THE CATHOLIC CHURCH - # 5
Last evening I viewed Ben Stein's 2008 documentary entitled "Expelled:
No Intelligence Allowed".
As described in the Netflix introduction, this work examines "how
pro-intelligent design scholars and scientists are often chastised,
fired or denied tenured positions by those who believe in Darwin's
theory of evolution"...with the enforced exclusion of any other
approach. Academic freedom is denied, and civic freedom is
attacked by those who refuse to consider more recent evidence
developed in molecular biology and in cell genetics that raise serious
scientific questions about the origin of Man. Instead, these
self-proclaimed athiests work to marginalize anyone else as delusional
crackpots. Evidence is also presented regarding how this approach
in earlier decades formed the basis of the Eugenics movement in the
early 20th century that resulted in over 50,000 disabled people having
been sterilized against their will in this country, and how
insistence on Darwinian concepts formed the basis for pursuit of the
Nazi Master Race and for Ms Singer's Planned Parenthood.
Add to this the "Culture Wars" in which we are engaged in recent
decades, pitting unbridled secularism and "positivism" against any
concept of Natural Law and human morality. And now, one
question: Where has the Catholic Church - and other
Religions, for that matter - been in these conflicts?
AWOL, that's where. Instead of informing and marshalling the
efforts of its Faithful in this pitched battle, with nothing less than
our personal freedoms at stake, the Catholic hierarchy continues to
content itself with stale homilies and platitudes, or with periodic
undocumented declarations of Magisterium dogma. To sample this
disconnect, just visit our links to the incessant bad
news reported in the LifeNews publications vs the
offerings in Zenit - The World Seen From Rome.
The Hierarchy is re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic!
Where are the Ten Commandments? Where are the Seven Deadly
Sins? Where are Heaven and Hell, God and the Devil, the free will
promises and consequences of personal responsibility? Where are
sincere and open discussions with the Laity - rather
than arrogant pronouncements - regarding beginning and end of
life decisions facing all of us, personal morality and personal
obligations toward social justice? Where are the kind of topics
which we discussed on fourty occasions in the section on this web site
entitled Point and Counterpoint...and which the local
Hierarchy chose to studiously ignore? In a word, WHERE ARE OUR
SHEPHARDS? We the Laity, the Body of the Church, want
SATURDAY, MAY 1 and 2, 2009
information in this article is very hopeful to me as representing more
than a stale bromide to fix the massive headache that our economy is
feeling. Can it mitigate some of the massive tsunami of red
ink that may inundate this government in the next few years following
the recent eathquake of bailouts? At least it's a step in the
right direction. GS
financial sector to shrink
(Reuters) – The financial sector will make up a smaller part of the
U.S. economy in the future as new regulations clamp down on "massive
Barack Obama said in an interview published on Saturday.
Obama, whose young administration has
spearheaded a raft of reforms in the banking sector as part of efforts
to tackle the financial
crisis, said the industry's role in the United States would look
different at the end of the current recession.
"What I think will change, what I think
was an aberration, was a
situation where corporate profits in the financial sector were such a
heavy part of our overall profitability over the last decade," he said
told the New York Times Magazine.
"Part of that has to do with the effects
of regulation that will
inhibit some of the massive leveraging and the massive risk-taking that
had become so common."
Obama said some of the job-seekers who
may normally have gone to the
financial sector would shift to other areas of the economy, such as
"Wall Street will remain a big, important
part of our economy, just as
it was in the '70s and the '80s. It just won't be half of our economy,"
"We don't want every single college grad
with mathematical aptitude to become a derivatives trader."
The Obama administration in March
proposed sweeping reforms to curb risk-taking on Wall Street and close
regulatory gaps to prevent the kind of excesses that led to the worst
financial crisis since the 1930s Great Depression.
The president said in the interview that
better regulation would help restore confidence in the U.S. financial
"A more vigorous regulatory regime, I
think, will help restore
confidence, and you're still going to see a lot of global capital
wanting to park itself in the United States," he said.
REGAINING TRUST AND CONFIDENCE
Obama expressed optimism that the market
for securitized products would pick up, though he said that could take
The Federal Reserve, with taxpayer capital
from the U.S. Treasury, is supporting consumer and real estate lending
markets through a loan facility that
could reach $1 trillion.
Holders of existing asset-backed and commercial mortgage-backed
securities can get loans from the Fed by putting up their
securities as collateral.
The facility aims to unclog frozen credit
markets and jumpstart securitization.
"We're going to have to determine whether
or not as a consequence of
some of the steps that the Fed has been taking, the Treasury has been
taking, that we see the market for securitized products restored,"
"I'm optimistic that ultimately we're
going to be able to get that part
of the financial sector going again, but it could take some time to
regain confidence and trust."
Part of Obama's regulatory reforms include the creation of
a new "systemic risk
regulator" with broad powers to seize large non-bank financial firms,
such as insurers, hedge funds or private equity companies, if they are
deemed to threaten the stability of the financial system.
Large, "systemically important" firms
would be required to hold bigger capital cushions.
Obama also said financial rules should be
crafted according to
what an institution actually does to avoid a regulatory gap in areas
such as commercial and investment banking.
"Other countries that have not seen some
of the problems in their
financial markets that we have nevertheless don't separate between investment banks and commercial banks," he
said, citing Canada as one example in that area.
"The experience in a country like Canada
would indicate that good,
strong regulation that focuses less on the legal form of the
institution and more on the functions that they're carrying out is
probably the right approach to take."
(Additional reporting by David Lawder;
Editing by Vicki Allen)
(c) Copyright 1999-2021, Allergy Associates of New London, PC