Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has said that Supreme Court candidate Samuel Alito is "exceptionally qualified," and we understand that he is, indeed, perfectly qualified to set our nation back many years on our hard road toward progress.
I beg you to examine your conscience as our elected representatives as you hear the ongoing debate.
Republican Chairman Arlen Specter said he would be "sorry" to see a party-line vote but it looks like that's what there will be.
I am dismayed that the Republican Senators would feel compelled to be nothing more than a rubber stamp for the President's agenda. The current Congress has the lowest public poll ratings in history because you have relinquished your duty to the people.
I believe you will suffer at the polls, Republican senators, if you act, once again, as a body without deliberations of true individual conscience - a rubber stamp for the Executive. I vow to personally work to see that you are not re-elected if you continue to fail to fulfill your individual and sworn duty to serve Americans where they are found at the center of the political spectrum. Alito is radically to the right. We all know this - and we are watching each of you.
"Love is free; it is not practiced as a way of achieving other ends."
- Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI Calls For Political Change Toward Social Justice Directs more responsibility for social justice directly to the state
Good news for social progressives from the leader of the Roman Catholic church.
There is a new 71-page encyclical called "God is Love" which characterizes Pope Benedict XVI's early pontificate as "one in which he seeks to return to the basics of Christianity with a relatively uncontroversial meditation on love and the need for greater works of charity in an unjust world." [NYT]
I hope that our elected representatives will hear the words of Pope Benedict XVI, and take them seriously. He's stepping out of the realm of the church's responsibility and telling us, in no uncertain terms, that we are responsible, politically, for social justice. The Pope's words take the biblical message found in Matthew 25 and, setting respectful parameters for the church's involvement in political life, he calls upon the State to "stimulate greater insight into the requirements of justice as well as greater readiness to act accordingly, even when this might involve conflict with situations of personal interest." In other words, when making public policy, stop being concerned with lining the pockets of those who can bestow favor upon you (or your re-election) and think about the spiritually and economically poorest in our society.
"There will always be suffering which cries out for consolation and help. There will always be loneliness. There will always be situations of material need where help in the form of concrete love of neighbor is indispensable," he said.
Benedict stressed that the state alone is responsible for creating that just society, not the church. [my emphasis] "As a political task, this cannot be the church's immediate responsibility," he said.
However, he said the church wants to be involved in political life by helping to "form consciences in political life and stimulate greater insight into the authentic requirements of justice as well as greater readiness to act accordingly, even when this might involve conflict with situations of personal interest."
He said the church was "duty-bound" to offer such a contribution, and that the lay faithful, who as citizens of the state, are duty-bound to carry it out through works of charity.
While stressing that the church has no direct political role, he did offer a prescription for what the state should do. He stressed the church's charity workers must never use their work to proselytize or push a particular political ideology.
"We do not need a state which regulates and controls everything, but a state which, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, generously acknowledges and supports initiatives arising from the different social forces and combines spontaneity with closeness to those in need," he wrote.[my emphasis]
The Pope criticizes the Marxist political model, in which the state tries to provide for every social need. (And, mind you, American social democracy is far more in line with the principles of subsidiarity). While Marxism responded to the plight of the poor faster than even the church did during the Industrial Revolution, it did not succeed in creating the Utopian society that it had set its aims upon. Freedom is an all-important component to any form of politics with lasting social justice as its aim. The Pope reminds us, in a way that we can all understand, that even in the most just societies, charity will always be necessary. I am relieved to hear that the Pope, in many ways, is supportive of governments reducing corruption within their own systems while supporting the continuation of a vibrant political debate from people of faith.
This is not a Republican or Democratic statement - but I can see that it is a Progressive statement, and I'm grateful that we have our spiritual leaders speaking, out of agape love, on behalf of the poorest in our society.
* A Note on the principle of subsidiarity (sounds like political progressive centrism): The principle of subsidiarity was developed in the encyclical Rerum Novarum of 1891 by Pope Leo XIII, as an attempt to articulate a middle course between the perceived excesses of laissez-faire capitalism on the one hand and the various forms of totalitarianism, which subordinate the individual to the state, on the other.
"Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country."
-Words from the inaugural address of President John F. Kennedy, delivered in 1961
Young John Murtha, Max Cleland, and John Kerry went to the Viet Nam war in the days when these words were spoken.
They've been blasted by right wingers - portrayed as cowards - we saw purple bandaids worn on cheeks at the Republican National convention, swift boat style attack ads - and Republican leaders say nothing in Murtha, Cleland, or Kerry's strong defense because of political stinginess.
Yet, according to Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, any American who would put a friggen Rick Santorum bumper sticker on their car is a patriotic hero. (Don't believe me? See the video.)
What a FAR CRY from JFK's plea for service.
What's next? Medals of Freedom for the best Dem Vet-attack ads?