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Unlocking Washington

With a solid majority in the Senate, gains in the House and gubernatorial victories in even the bluest of states, Republicans appeared ready to sound a conciliatory tone after the midterm elections. At a press conference on Nov. 5, one of the previous night’s biggest winners, Mitch McConnell, who is expected to become Senate majority leader, told reporters: “When the American people choose divided government, I don’t think it means they don’t want us to do anything.... We ought to start with the view that maybe there are some things we can agree on.”

As the governing party, the Republicans can no longer simply pursue the path of greatest resistance to President Obama; they will need concrete legislative victories to keep their hold on Congress and in hope of putting a Republican in the White House in 2016. And while the president might be tempted to repay once-obstructionist lawmakers in kind with the veto pen, the challenges this country faces call for creative compromises. Mr. Obama could, for example, approve the Keystone pipeline project but pair it with new resources toward developing sustainable energy to point the country in the right direction on climate change. Corporate tax reform and creating jobs by investing in this country’s crumbling infrastructure are both areas where there are opportunities for bipartisan cooperation

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When Gallup asked Americans what they wanted from their new Congress, the largest share, one third, responded that its first priority should be to fix itself. After the two least productive sessions of Congress in modern U.S. history, it is time for Washington to get back to work.

Reviving Disarmament

At another time, there might have seemed something quaintly anachronistic about a Congressional Budget Office report that the United States was preparing to spend $355 billion over the next 10 years “modernizing” its nuclear arsenal instead of selectively decommissioning it. These days, with the sights of President Vladimir Putin’s henchmen unsubtly set on the borders of Europe, some may argue that such modernization is justifiable.

It should be more critically assessed, however, as wasteful and counterproductive. Any step “forward” on nuclear weapons is sure to provoke countermeasures from other global nuclear powers. As Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, noted in a letter in October to Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, the modernization proposals undermine the U.S. commitment to global nuclear disarmament, a quest the church has endorsed since 1963. With U.S. and Russian treaties leading the way, the world seemed to be making progress in reducing its suicidal stockpile of atomic weapons. The United States should remain set on that goal, and should likewise persist in efforts to curtail the further proliferation of these weapons. That includes the recent and unjustifiably maligned diplomatic overture toward Iran.

The United States can perhaps be most persuasive by example. Spending $36 billion more each year to enhance its nuclear force is not leadership; it is a pandering to fear and political special interests. Nuclear disarmament remains as imperative an ambition today as when activists, horrified by the specter of global nuclear war, first proposed it. This enormous commitment of U.S. resources to retrofitting and refining U.S. weapons of mass destruction is a moral and geopolitical step backward.

Death and Dignity

The death on Nov. 1 of Brittany Maynard, who was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer earlier this year, has revived debate around the right-to-die movement in the United States. The 29-year-old California woman moved to Oregon in order to obtain the fatal dose of medication, which she took to end her life, surrounded by family and loved ones, on the date she chose and publicized in an interview with People magazine in October.

Such suffering is hard to contemplate, but her decision—and the widespread public support she received—raises serious concerns about the spiritual state and direction of our society. While offering prayers for all those afflicted by debilitating illnesses, we must not forget that the path taken by Ms. Maynard involves significant issues of a philosophical and religious nature—not just medical ones—that must be countered with an alternative vision.

Above all else, a fundamental question needs to be considered, a sorrowful mystery the church has always dealt with, since the time when Jesus himself underwent the agony of the cross. Can any meaning or purpose come from suffering and death? Christ’s answer, and the church’s answer, is yes. For Christians, a prescription providing a lethal cocktail of medications will never bestow dignity on death—just as pain, losing rational faculties or becoming utterly dependent on the care of others will never strip away a person’s fundamental dignity. As Archbishop Alexander K. Sample of Portland has pointed out, instead of “hastening death,” we ought to use our final days to “help us to prepare for our eternal destiny.”

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J Cosgrove
3 years 11 months ago
As the governing party, the Republicans can no longer simply pursue the path of greatest resistance to President Obama; they will need concrete legislative victories to keep their hold on Congress and in hope of putting a Republican in the White House in 2016. And while the president might be tempted to repay once-obstructionist lawmakers in kind with the veto pen, the challenges this country faces call for creative compromises.
The editors and readers should know that Harry Reid tabled about 350 bills sent to the Senate without a vote. There were also no votes on amendments which did not allow Democratic senators to run on a record. All that Reed allowed was what pre-approved by Obama so each of the Democratic Senators had records in the high 90's percentages agreement with Obama. Here is an article about this: http://www.bizpacreview.com/2014/08/02/dems-cry-obstructionists-while-house-passed-over-350-bills-that-sit-on-harry-reids-desk-136037 From the article:
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed 356 bills that are languishing in the Senate, U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn. said Friday.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has ignored the legislation, even though much of it passed the House with key support from Democrats The Blaze reported.
“We are calling on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to get off his self-constructed throne, roll up his sleeves and get back to work.” Blackburn said in a post she co-wrote Thursday with U.S. Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., for HerBlog. “Real lives, a real economy, and a true American recovery hang in the balance.”
The bills would tackle problems associated with job creation, health care, energy production and a host of other issues, according to an article on desertsun.com.
MSNBC, CNN and other media outlets have called this session the “Do-nothing Congress,” but a “Do-nothing Senate” is more accurate.
Richard Savage
3 years 11 months ago
"That includes the recent and unjustifiably maligned diplomatic overture toward Iran." Iran's leaders routinely declare their intent to annihilate Israel. Obama and his idiot Secretary of State Kerry routinely tell us global warming is the greatest threat facing the world, not a government of fanatics whose acquisition of nuclear weapons will be a disaster. Why do the editors support genocide? And why do they support government officials who lie to us day in and day out?
Richard Savage
3 years 11 months ago
"Mr. Obama could, for example, approve the Keystone pipeline project but pair it with new resources toward developing sustainable energy to point the country in the right direction on climate change." According to Josh Earnest, Obama's Press sec'ty, Obama will veto the Keystone XL pipeline, which the Republican House voted to approve on Thursday and the Democrat Senate will vote to approve next Tuesday. The Senate vote is purely political, intended to make Mary Landrieu (D-LA) look good. The New York Times on Friday revealed Obama intends to give $3 billion to foreign countries to help them deal with climate change. America's editors are hopelessly confused about climate change; there hasn't been any for 18 years. Carbon dioxide demonstrably has no effect on global warming. Editorials based on ignorance of simple physics and wishful thinking are not helpful to Catholics trying to make moral choices in a difficult world. Shame on you for such ignorant advice to us.

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