Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, July 21, 2015
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How “Results Conservatism” Can Unify Conservatives
John Hart , Opportunity Lives

When the nation’s leading anti-poverty warriors recently gathered in Washington, D.C., House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) outlined a strategic vision not just for the anti-poverty movement but for conservatism as a whole.

Election 2016: The Little Sisters of the Poor vs. The Big Merchants of Baby Parts
John Zmirak, The Stream

Christians are called to live in the real, fallen world, not a wistful fantasyland where everyone tells the truth, secretly means well, and is just a winsome podcast or three-minute hug away from repentance and salvation.

The Distortions of Progressive Christians: How Religious Liberty is in Danger
Matthew Lee Anderson, Mere Orthodoxy

The effect of these expansions is not simply that there is more coercive power from the government being exercised on people’s lives, but that we have fewer non-governmental means of resolving our disputes—and that the government itself will increasingly be not the resolver of fundamental conflicts between citizens, but a source of and party to conflicts.

Wage stickiness and unflattering accounts of the unemployed and poor
Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution

It is common for left-wing progressives to complain that conservatives serve up unflattering accounts of the unemployed and poor, such as by calling them “moochers” and the like. But many versions of the standard Keynesian account, once we deconstruct them a bit, don’t paint such a flattering picture of the unemployed either.

Allowing people to think what they want about God and religious beliefs is a considered a cornerstone of a liberal society. But religious toleration hasn’t historically been considered a prized virtue. In fact, as Larry Schweikart says, it’s a historical aberration—an ideological revolution created by the Puritans and pre-1776 Americans.

Blog author: bwalker
Monday, July 20, 2015
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Cardinal George Pell takes a swing at Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical
Rosie Scammell, Religion News Service

Until now, Pell had remained quiet on the contents of the encyclical, despite gaining a reputation in Australia as a climate change denier. In 2011, he clashed with the then-head of Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology, Greg Ayers, who said Pell was “misled” in his climate change views. Despite the cardinal’s criticism of the pope’s environmental stance, Pell noted the encyclical had been “very well received” and said Francis had “beautifully set out our obligations to future generations and our obligations to the environment.”

State Senate resolution praises papal encyclical on climate change
Chris Megerian, Los Angeles Times

Gov. Jerry Brown is taking a copy of the resolution with him to the Vatican next week for an international conference on climate change and modern slavery. He’s scheduled to leave the state on Friday and deliver speeches on Tuesday and Wednesday. The resolution, SR 37, says the state’s leaders should “consider the implications of the papal encyclical and climate change in their policy and fiscal actions to prevent further environmental degradation.”

Francis is naïve on climate change
Bernard Donoughue and Peter Forster, Church Times

WE WOULD like to emphasise that we share the Pope’s deep desire to reduce poverty in our world, and we agree that the costs should fall more on the richer nations, and the rich within nations, than on those who are poor. Our basic concern is that the environmental, and especially the energy policies advocated in the encyclical are more likely to hinder than to advance this great cause. . . The discovery of new ways to release the energy stored in fossil fuels was integral to the Industrial Revolution on which modern Western society is based. Let us not forget that fossil fuels are nature’s primary, and very efficient, means of storing the energy of the sun. Burning them has everywhere diverted human beings from burning wood, killing whales and seals, and damming streams: there were therefore genuine environmental benefits to be gained from the switch to fossil fuels.

Faith in change on climate
Lauren Heaton, Yellow Springs News

Last month’s 184-page encyclical was several years in the making and included exhaustive scientific data as well as wide-ranging expert opinion from natural and social scientists, said Jablonski, who holds a Ph.D. in plant physiological ecology/global climate change from McGill University. The document isn’t the first to confirm that climate change is mostly caused by humans — reports such as the 2014 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and conclusions from dozens of scientific academies around the world agree that most of the earth’s warming trend is caused by human activity. But the Pope’s letter is a call to people of all nationalities and persuasions to demand a transformation in the way humans operate in this finite ecology on Earth.

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communion-on-moonToday marks the 46th anniversary of the day we landed on the moon, and as we look back on that monumental moment, it’s worth remembering the efforts taken by one astronaut to pause and recognize his creator.

Prior to the lift-off of Apollo 11, Buzz Aldrin spoke with his pastor about finding the “right symbol for the first lunar landing.” After some discussion, they agreed it was a communion service, and the scripture passage he’d use would be John 15:5:

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

“We wanted to express our feeling that what man was doing in this mission transcended electronics and computers and rockets,” Aldrin wrote. “…I wondered if it might be possible to take communion on the moon, symbolizing the thought that God was revealing Himself there too, as man reached out into the universe.” (more…)

sen.scottLast week Senator Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) proposed an amendment to the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind bill that would allow Title I funds–the funds the federal government allocates to districts with high-poverty populations–to follow students out of their assigned district schools to schools of choice.

Democrats in the Senate (joined by six Republicans) successfully fought to keep the portability amendment as well as school vouchers out of the legislation. As Think Progress explains, the White House and Senate Democrats opposed the amendment because some school districts with high concentrations of poverty would lose federal funds.

This certainly seems like a plausible reason to oppose the measure. After all, who wants to harm poor school districts? But as Sen. Scott notes in an impassioned speech on the Senate floor, we must ensure our focus is in the right place—on the children, not school bureaucracies.

“Education is not about protecting a bureaucracy,” says Scott, “it should not be about empowering Washington, and cannot be about an endless, fruitless push for some one-size-fits-all type of system.”

Scott encouraged the Senate to allow portability and return some measure of power to the states in education, saying “Local and state leaders are figuring out that when parents have a choice, kids have a chance.”

You can hear his entire speech in the video below:
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Blog author: jcarter
Monday, July 20, 2015
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What Did Pope Francis Really Think of the “Communist Crucifix”?
John Zmirak, The Stream

Press accounts have been muddled by misreporting and wishful thinking.

State subsidies take from the poor to give to the rich
M. Steven Fish and Neil A. Abrams, Washington Post

In one area, however, government spending almost always redistributes income from the poor to the rich, encourages inefficiency and fuels corruption: state subsides.

Conservatives warn IRS could target gay marriage opponents
Stephen Ohlemacher, Associated Press

A brief exchange during Supreme Court arguments in the same-sex marriage case has exploded into a full-blown crisis for some conservatives who warn that the IRS could start revoking the tax-exempt status of religious groups that oppose gay marriage.

Do-gooders, do no harm: What are the best–and worst–ways to help those mired in international conflicts?
Laura Seay and Alex de Waal, Washington Post

Since the end of the Cold War, numerous international advocacy efforts concerning global conflict sprung out of these good intentions. Yet the results of these movements are often, at best, mixed, and in some cases actually made a crisis or the plight of innocent civilians worse.

Blog author: jcarter
Friday, July 17, 2015
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graffiti_litter“Modern masters of science are much impressed with the need of beginning all inquiry with a fact,” said G. K. Chesterton. “The ancient masters of religion were quite equally impressed with that necessity. They began with the fact of sin—a fact as practical as potatoes.”

Recognizing the fact of sin should be the beginning of all inquiries in how we should arrange public policy. This is especially true for those of us who champion liberty. Because order is a necessary precondition of liberty, we need to maintain order by limiting and impeding certain types of sinful behavior.

Throughout human history, sin has been restrained through norm, rules, customs, and laws, and traditions. Inevitably, certain individuals push back against these restrictions and complain that they hinder their own personal liberty. Sometimes this is true, of course, but more often than not it is merely an individual wanting to put their own self-centered actions and behaviors ahead of the reasonable needs of society.

Some have argued that as long as only a relatively few people break the norms and rules that it would have little to no affect on society. But this misses, as Chesterton might say, the fact of sin, especially the fact of sin as a social contagion.

Take, for example, the victimless crimes of prostitution, vagrancy, or public drunkenness. Theoretically, we could justify the decriminalization of all these acts since they do not necessarily harm other people or their property. I’m not likely to become a vagrant because I see one on the streets, so what harm does it do?

As it turns out, such actions do lead to harmful affects on society. As the renowned criminologist James Wilson notes:
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Kishore Jayabalan, director of the Istituto Acton in Rome, talked to Voa News yesterday about the flaws in Pope Francis’s pronouncements on free markets and globalization, as articulated in the recent encyclical Laudato Si’.

“When the pope says that this economy kills, that this economy destroys the environment, I’m not quite sure what economy he’s talking about,” said Jayabalan.

Read the full article here.

Blog author: jcarter
Friday, July 17, 2015
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Can capitalism keep people out of prisons?
Steven Godeke and William Burckart, Quartz

The Rikers Island Prison SIB is one example of fast-emerging interest and activity around these kinds of strategies, which are also known as pay-for-success financings.

After Supreme Court Gay Marriage Ruling, How We Can Protect Freedom for Everyone
Ryan T. Anderson, The Daily Signal

Respecting religious liberty in the marketplace is particularly important. After all, as the first lady, Michelle Obama, put it, religion “isn’t just about showing up on Sunday for a good sermon and good music and a good meal. It’s about what we do Monday through Saturday as well.”

Remove work requirements and food stamp enrollment explodes in a SNAP
Matt Vespa, Hot Air

In all, there are 48 million Americans on food stamps, up from 17 million since 2000. Additionally, millions more are being added to their states’ respective food stamp rolls than they are finding full-time work; for every one person who found a job, two people are given SNAP benefits. In terms of cost, we were spending $17 billion on food stamps. It’s now ballooned to an $80 billion program.

Gay Marriage and the Future of Evangelical Colleges
David R. Wheeler, The Atlantic

Now that same-sex couples have the right to wed, will higher-ed institutions that condemn LGBT students still be eligible for federal funding?

Blog author: bwalker
Thursday, July 16, 2015
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Vatican and the UN Organize Event With Leftist Mayors on Climate Change — Rapprochement Continues
The Eponymous Flower

(Rome) on the 21st and 22nd of July, mayors from around the world meet at the Vatican to discuss the global climate and modern slavery. What sounds so politically correct, should be through and through. Initiator of the Mayor Meeting is the Argentine, Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, Curial Archbishop, the chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences . He was the organizer behind the eco-Encyclical Laudato Si who besides creating the contacts next to the dead letter, especially at the United Nations and the “high politics”.

Bishop: Vatican is free to work with everyone, UN is not the ‘devil’
Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service

The United Nations is not “the devil,” so a papal think tank is free to collaborate with the international body as well as people of any political persuasion, said Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. The church will continue to collaborate with the United Nations on any joint project that “does not go against the doctrine of the church,” he said at a news conference July 15.

Indian children spread pope’s message on climate change
Ritu Sharma, UCA News

Supporting Pope Francis’ global call for urgent action on climate change, children in New Delhi took to the streets to create awareness for the environment. “People tend to ignore the need to preserve the environment and carry on with their lives. I hope they will take into consideration what the pope has said on the issue,” Kalpana Singh told ucanews.com. Singh was among the 7-15 year-olds taking part in a dance event on New Delhi streets July 12 using colorful umbrellas, unicycles and holding banners, despite the heavy downpour.

Donald Trump, Pope Francis — When Fathers Embarrass Their Children
John Zmirak, National Review

Every time Donald Trump opens his mouth to say something brash and provocative, whose sharp edges distract from whatever grains of truth he might have grasped, I imagine how his children must feel. Do they wince and read every word — or blink and look away? Do they spin the quotes to their friends, say that they were taken out of context, or probably misreported? I need no leap of empathy here, because I feel exactly the same whenever Pope Francis speaks on economics or politics. My friends here will jump in and say that I’m being unfair here — either to Francis or to Trump, depending on which friend — but the analogy is exact.

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