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Archive for August, 2012

If you have had enough of the blowhard, bloviating, spewing, anger of anchors (the usual suspects and a few new ones) during this electoral season you might find Karen Finney a pleasant change-of-pace.   Filling in for Martin Bashir on Bashir Live this week at MSNBC’s 4 p.m. (EDT) time slot, she she been a breath of fresh air.  Sure, she addresses many of the same issues as the loudmouths do,  but there is  a lot to be said for a musical voice, a dazzling smile,  and graciousness.  If you have not caught up with the beautiful job she is doing, there is still time.   One more round tomorrow at 4.   If you cannot be home, set your DVR.

MSNBC should give her her own time slot.  Ratings would soar!

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The Department of Homegirl Security (DeHoS) took a stand solidly behind the Nuns on the Bus nearly two months ago.  They are a handful of sisters with a social conscience who embarked on a tour in June to educate voters and politicians alike on the social, practical, and moral  implications of the proposed Ryan budget as well as particular campaign platforms.

If you thought, however, that the Nuns on the Bus were some kind of radical, breakaway faction, think again.

US nuns call for more dialogue with the Vatican

Seth Perlman / AP

Outgoing President of The Leadership Conference of Women Religious Sister Pat Farrell, right, and president-elect Sister Florence Deacon, left, listen to questions from reporters Friday in St. Louis.

By Becky Bratu, NBC News

American nuns under fire from the Vatican said they will continue their dialogue with Catholic bishops “for as long as possible,” the group announced Friday as it wrapped a week of discussions and prayer at its yearly national assembly in St. Louis, Mo.

According to the National Catholic Reporter, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, an umbrella organization representing about 80 percent of the 57,000 nuns in the United States, “will reconsider if [they are] forced to compromise the integrity of [their] mission.”

Hours before the scheduled press conference, the organization’s president addressed its members, urging the sisters to be “truthful, but gentle and absolutely fearless,” according to the National Catholic Reporter.

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Did you see what I saw?   They represent roughly eighty percent – that’s 80% – that is  eight of every ten of all the nuns in the U.S.  And they are at odds with the Vatican.  Put another way,  eight of every ten American nuns disagree with the pope, and the disagreement is over social issues.  It is about challenges, in this economy,  to families at risk,  and their ability to make decisions about how many children they can afford to raise, and how they can limit risks to the family they already have.

The nuns have squared off, and tonight, for me,  epiphany struck.  A late, lamented colleague of mine and I often discussed the American Catholic Church.   We agreed that it was a different church from the Roman Catholic Church in that Americans of all religions are also essentially Protestant. (For a larger discussion of this see Nuns on the Bus.)

It was the late-1980s.  We were  at a Krystalnacht memorial symposium at a Catholic women’s college.  When the panel discussion ended, we hung back in the all-purpose room while the sisters came in to prepare for Mass.  As they did so, I turned to her and asked, “Would you have a problem with any one of those women saying Mass?”  She said no.  But I felt  we were second-class members of our Church, up against the men, and they would decide – against us.

American bishops are between a rock and a hard place.  The Vatican is intransigent, but the nuns are resolved.  The bishops have always sort of run an American Church, quietly and under the Vatican’s radar.   My friend and I agreed that there could eventually be a schism.  Here is where we were reprehensibly wrong.  We thought it would be the bishops.

That was my epiphany tonight.  Of course it will not be the men.  Why didn’t I see that?  It will be the women.  It will be the nuns.  The ones who taught us girls to sing the whole Mass when the boys went to altar boy practice because they knew we were envious that the boys were learning Latin, so they decided to teach us more Latin than the boys knew.   Those were feminist nuns.  They did not want us to be second-class.

Today’s nuns were my choirmates.  Whether the issue is who gets to learn Latin (not really an issue anymore),  serve Mass (girls can now, thank you Vatican II), SAY Mass, or who decides how many children a family will have,  these nuns believe the answer lies in equality and access to current technology and medicine that should be universally available and used according to personal conscience and common sense.  Serving as teachers, nurses, and social workers to the poor,  they know the consequences of subjugation.  They are not second-class religious. The Vatican is dealing with equals.  The nuns will not be bowed.

Before this battle is over,  I think we will see a woman lying face down on the floor taking Holy Orders.  But even if we do not,  the American Catholic Church will either have the blessing of the Vatican or have broken away.  The Church needs vocations.  They are out there, in earrings and pearls.  They already tend flocks and know their needs.  They are eminently qualified to pastor.  They already do.  They actually know how the flock works, what endangers it, and how to protect it better than the current shepherds do.

P.S. As I was writing this, the breaking news was that tomorrow Paul Ryan will be announced as  Romney’s running mate.  The sky is not falling – yet. But it might be  a good idea to just smash that glass ceiling once and for all and put a leader on the top of the Dem ticket.  You know – someone who can blast that GOP ticket to Mars along with that Ryan budget.  You know who I mean.

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I will let the pictures speak for themselves. All were identically captioned, and you only need to read that caption once.

Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 08: Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy prepares to speak during a briefing ‘concerning Muslim Brotherhood influence inside and aimed at the Obama administration and their impact on U.S. policy’ at the National Press Club August 8, 2012 in Washington, DC. Claiming that U.S. government policy is being ‘radically harmonized’ with the agenda of the Muslim Brotherhood, McCarthy also pointed to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s deputy chief of staff, Huma Abedin as an agent for that agenda.


I remember Joe McCarthy. I was very little and would come home from school to find my mom watching the Army-McCarthy Hearings on TV (long before C-Span). He was a frightening and dangerous presence in government. He was also dead wrong. So is this McCarthy.

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We all, I am sure, feel pride when we see our Olympic athletes on the podium and a thrill if they occupy the top and we hear our national anthem while Old Glory is raised.

Olympic swimmer Missy Franklin, who hails from unfortunately famous Aurora, CO,  was offered six figures to do endorsements and turned it down so that she could continue competing on her high school and (future) college swim teams.  Her dedication is that deep.  Gabby Douglas moved from Virginia Beach to Iowa so that she could train with Liang Chow.  John Orozco‘s* mom went along on the two-hour round-trip commute from the Bronx to Chappaqua, twice daily, so that he could train there. You would have to be living under a rock not to know the story of Michael Phelps, raised by a single mom, a middle school principal with three children.  Great sacrifices went into all of their training – theirs and that of all of our Olympic Team.

Medals at the Olympics are accompanied by cash prizes.  Gold gets you $25,000; silver, $15,000; and bronze, $10,000.  The athletes are taxed on these winnings – whether or not they accept  to do endorsements.  That is what our government does to our heroes!  Shocking!

In a presidential season when taxes are among the contentious issues (when are they not?) there seems to be a fair question to ask of the candidates: Will you work to suspend these taxes that hurt our heroes?  It should be asked of Mitt Romney (whose answer might flip-flop depending on whether his horse medals in dressage or not), and it should also be asked of Barack Obama who spent some time today talking about the balance beam among other events.

Should Olympic medalists be paying taxes on their winnings at rates higher than the one percenters?  Should they be paying taxes at all just because they went higher, faster, stronger, or stuck the dismount?  Of course if we ask these questions we will get words.  It’s always words with them.  One guy is actually doing something about it, and whatever side you are on this election year, you have to applaud Senator Marco Rubio for taking action!  Bravo!

August 1, 2012 5:07 PM
By Sara Dover

(L-R) US swimmers Conor Dwyer, Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Ricky Berens poses on the podium with their gold medals after winning the men’s 4x200m freestyle relay final during the swimming event at the London 2012 Olympic Games on July 31, 2012 in London. (FABRICE COFFRINI)

London 2012: Summer Olympics

(CBS News) Winning an Olympic medal may be priceless to an athlete and his or her fans, but not to the IRS.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio introduced a bill Wednesday that would make the medals and prize money awarded to U.S. athletes at the London games – they get thousands of dollars in addition to the medals – exempt from taxes.

In a statement, the Tea Party-backed Florida senator blamed the tax rule on a “complicated and burdensome mess” of a system “that too often punishes success.”

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*I know John Orozco has not medaled, but that does not make him less of a hero, and he is young.  There still can be another Olympics for him, and if and when that happens he should not be taxed after all of that taxing training and prep.

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