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Trump’s ‘forgotten man’ turns out to be Goldman Sachs by Michael Sean Winters: “President Trump and Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McConnell are busy letting Wall Street off the hook. We know where this led before.”

The ‘best fortnight in a decade’ for conservatives? Uh-oh. by Michael Gerson: “President Trump has managed to taunt and alienate some of our closest allies — Mexico and Australia (!) — while continuing an NC-17-rated love fest with Russia. He has engaged in moral equivalence that places America on the level of Vladimir Putin’s bloody dictatorship. “Well, you think our country’s so innocent?” he said — a statement of such obscenity that it would haunt any liberal to the grave. He has issued an immigration executive order of unparalleled incompetence and cruelty, further victimizing refugees who are already fate’s punching bag. He has lied about things large (election fraud) and small (inaugural crowd size), refused to allow facts to modify his claims, and attempted to create his own reality through the repetition of deception. He has abused his standing as president to attack individuals, from a respected judge to the movie star who took over his God-awful reality-TV show. He has demonstrated a limitless appetite for organizational chaos and selected a staff that leaks like a salad spinner. He has become a massively polarizing figure within the United States and a risible figure on the global stage.”

Refugees are part of America’s fabric and its promise by Washington Post: “By conflating a dangerous fiction about immigrants with blatant disrespect for an equal branch of government, President Trump fans the xenophobic flames he did so much to ignite during the presidential campaign.”

I’m Pro-Life, and Pro-Refugee by Scott Arbeiter: “I must be “pro” everything needed for that child not just to be born, but to flourish. This means that I need to be pro education and pro job growth, and pro many other things I never considered as connected to my pro-life convictions. And I need to be ready to stand against every form of economic injustice, racism and individual or corporate greed that destroys the life of a family and a community.”

Five myths about anti-Semitism by Yair Rosenberg: “From top Iranian officials who blame the Talmud for the international drug trade to British political activists who claim that the Mossad is stealing their shoes, anti-Jewish bigotry can be bewildering and bizarre. But given the prejudice’s longevity, virulence and recent resurgence in Europe and America — witness the waves of bomb threats against dozens of Jewish centers nationwide in the past month and the controversy over the Trump administration’s repeated refusal to include Jews in its Holocaust memorial statement — it’s well worth debunking common misconceptions that impede our ability to fight it.”

We can’t let Trump go down Putin’s path by Michael McFaul: “Understanding Putin’s methods for consolidating autocracy in Russia might help us stop autocratic tendencies in the Trump era now, before it’s too late.”

Republicans to predatory companies: Grab as much as you can by Catherine Rampell: “The White House may be in chaos. But at least Congress is addressing the issue Americans care about most: making it easier for the finance industry to rip them off.”

A record number of poor kids are eating breakfast — thanks to a program many conservatives hate by Caitlin Dewey: “A record number of low-income children have begun to eat breakfast at school. But the policy most credited with boosting their numbers may be on the chopping block under President Trump.”

Why the rise of authoritarianism is a global catastrophe by Garry Kasparov and Thor Halvorssen: “If injustice and oppression aren’t bad enough, authoritarian governments bear an enormous social cost. Dictator-led countries have higher rates of mental illness, lower levels of health and life expectancy, and, as Amartya Sen famously argued, higher susceptibility to famine.”

What We’re Fighting For by Phil Klay: “From our founding we have made these kinds of moral demands of our soldiers. It starts with the oath they swear to support and defend the Constitution, an oath made not to a flag, or to a piece of ground, or to an ethnically distinct people, but to a set of principles established in our founding documents. An oath that demands a commitment to democracy, to liberty, to the rule of law and to the self-evident equality of all men. The Marines I knew fought, and some of them died, for these principles.”

What American liberals can learn from the anti-Nazi resistance by Noah Strote: “Liberals might have to alter, or at least sideline, some of their most prized platforms on abortion or secularism in the public sphere. Conservatives might need to consider welfare policy proposals they have long condemned, such as single-payer health care. Compromise on that profound level seems almost impossible at the moment. But Trump’s threat to the republic grows in proportion to the widening ideological fissure between left and right. As the German example shows, bridging the worldviews of former enemies may be the only way to avoid the abyss.”

The True Purpose of Trumpism by Jonathan Chait: “Trumpism combines an instinctive belief in zero-sum relations between countries with a narrow and retrograde definition of American identity.”

Republicans, Protect the Nation by Evan McMullin: “President Trump’s disturbing Russian connections present an acute danger to American national security.”

Severely disabled kids’ lives at risk, parents say, as Texas enacts Medicaid cost-savings plan by J. David McSwane: “Championed in 2013 by Republican Sen. Jane Nelson of Flower Mound, the changes allowed the state to cut costs and streamline health care by handing off administration of Medicaid services for medically vulnerable children to private health groups called managed care organizations, or MCOs. Instead of the state wrangling bills from thousands of doctors, it cuts a few big checks to the MCOs, which decide how much they will pay doctors and which services they will cover. One way for MCOs to turn a profit is to eliminate services they view as unnecessary. But parents say they’re cutting services they desperately need.”

My grandfather helped create Captain America for times like these by Megan Margulies: “More than five years after his death, my grandfather and his creation seemed newly meaningful. In life, my grandfather stood up for justice and taught me about compassion and understanding. Captain America contains all of that for me on a personal level, but now, in this time of turmoil for America, it’s clear that Cap represents something much larger, something we need as a nation.”

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Pursuing Integral Peace: How to Resist Trump’s Politics of Despair by Anna Rowlands: “Taking dignity seriously as a path to peace requires an active resistance to the standing temptation we face towards the “herding” of people according to mass categories and group identities, these are forms of naming that produce a social anonymity which divides. It is an important aspect of the Catholic social tradition that the impersonal turns out to be divisive and the truly person-focused is unitive.”

Under Trump, Christians may have it easier. They’ll also be in grave spiritual danger. by Michael Gerson: “In politics, Christians should not be known primarily for defending their institutional liberty, as important as that is. They should be known for a Christian anthropology that puts the dignity of life — of every life — at the center of the political enterprise. And they should be known for courage in applying this commitment, without prejudice, to every party and ideology.”

Trump’s half-baked travel ban is a picture of American shame by Michael Gerson: “When Donald Trump speaks on foreign policy, tyrants rest easier and dissidents and refugees lose hope.”

Repealing Obamacare Entails a Radical Repudiation of Solidarity by Anthony Annett: “It goes without saying that Catholic social teaching regards access to healthcare as a fundamental human right—so much so that Pope John Paul II argued that it should be cheap or even free of change for workers. And of course, Catholic social teaching insists that we have a duty to meet human needs that cannot be met through the market—and healthcare is surely exhibit A here. But this entails solidarity. There’s simply no getting around that.”

Will the March become a movement? by  Michael Sean Winters: “Both because of Trump’s politics and his personality, a more communitarian politics must emerge from within the resistance to him.” Read More

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Grace Enough by Brendan Busse: “At their core, the Spiritual Exercises are about the personification of love, not the possibility of it. The possibility of love, or its impossibility, paralyzes us. But the personification of love, the vulnerable, wounded, beaten love that I saw in the heart of Andrew Garfield, the personification of love that he experienced as a midwife to Mary, the love he guards in his “hidden life,” the love that lives in his longing to be seen deeply and appreciated fully, the falling in love that he continues to struggle with in his own relationships to God and others—that personification of love is what redeems us all in the end. If the impossibility of love leaves us longing, it is in the personification of love that we will find our satisfaction. It is in the personification of love where we will discover our enoughness.”

John Lewis, Donald Trump, and the Meaning of Legitimacy by David Remnick: “One can agree or not with Lewis when he calls Trump’s legitimacy into doubt. What cannot be doubted is Lewis’s exemplary life, his moral gravity and authority. He is the rare figure who reminds a people of the fragility of their freedoms and puts his body on the line to protect and demand them.”

Faith & Obama’s Farewell by John Gehring: “Individualism has long been a quintessentially American creed, of course, but an extreme go-it-alone libertarianism that puts blind faith in markets, demonizes government safety nets for the poor, and enshrines all matters of personal identity and choice as sacrosanct increasingly leaves us ill-equipped to appreciate how, as Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. described it, we are all entwined in “a single garment of destiny.” The infatuation with individual rights and personal autonomy finds a distinctive challenge and powerful corrective in the Catholic emphasis on community and solidarity. Rights have a place in Catholic thought, but never are severed from responsibilities. The president’s insistence that democracy requires a “basic sense of solidarity” and that its health depends on whether we participate as active citizens are two of the bedrock themes of Catholic social teaching.”

You Can Be Happy and Lonely at the Same Time by Brad Stulberg: “We’ve just got to make a point of it to be together together, at least more often. This starts with reminding ourselves that as great as technology and online social networks are, these things augment, but do not replace, actual in-the-flesh social connection.”

What If You Were Scheduled to Work on Your Wedding Day? by Amber and David Lapp: “According to the Economic Policy Institute, almost 10 percent of workers report that they do not have a “usual” workweek. Irregular schedules are more common in certain industries, like retail or food service, and the lowest income workers are more likely to face the most irregular schedules. As sociologists Kathryn Edin and Luke Shaefer write, “What low-wage employers now seem to demand are workers whose lives have infinite give and 24-7 dedication, for little in return.””

The Conservative Case for Fair Scheduling by Amber and David Lapp: “Conservatives concerned about the strength of families and of civil society should recognize the ways in which unpredictable work schedules can contribute to the decline of both—and then get serious about seeking solutions fair to employers and employees alike.”

Smoking costs $1 trillion, soon to kill 8 million a year by Reuters: “Smoking costs the global economy more than $1 trillion a year, and will kill one third more people by 2030 than it does now, according to a study by the World Health Organization and the U.S. National Cancer Institute published on Tuesday. That cost far outweighs global revenues from tobacco taxes, which the WHO estimated at about $269 billion in 2013-2014.”

A Lawless Man by Mike Stafford: “Trump isn’t normal. His regime will not be business as usual. His rise represents a rupture with our political tradition. His lawless and ignorant nature, including his apparent propensity to credit conspiracy theories and his proclivity towards “authoritarian tendencies,” put the very future of our nation in jeopardy.”

Syria: The greatest indictment of humanity this century by Amanda Catanzano: “The laws of war and primacy of civilian protection, drawn from the worst of human experience, are being disregarded at tremendous cost. The world’s leaders must fight for them in order to contain and resolve the conflicts at the heart of regional and global instability.”

Africa’s silent refugee crisis: 12.4 million on the run in their own countries by Sophie Morlin-Yron: “Nearly one third of displaced people are on the African continent where 12.4 million people in 21 countries were living in ongoing displacement as a result of conflict and violence at the end of 2015.”

Panel to Trump: To ‘make America great again’ remember the poor by Mark Zimmermann: “During a panel at Georgetown University, John Carr, Sister Simone Campbell and Rep. Francis Rooney reflected on “the faithful priorities” in a time of president-elect Donald Trump.”

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A year to protect democracy by EJ Dionne: “The most important political task of 2017 transcends the normal run of issues and controversies. Our greatest obligation will be to defend democracy itself, along with republican norms for governing and the openness that free societies require.”

Democrats Have a Religion Problem by Emma Green: “I spoke with Wear about how the Democratic Party is and isn’t reaching people of faith—and what that will mean for its future.”

Can ‘I’ Live Apart From ‘We’? by Charles Redfern: “Are we on the verge of labeling compassion wrong and indifference good? Are we really ready to worship the Rugged Individual and rip up our nation’s safety net? Have we forgotten that the Rugged Individual has always been an illusion? We depend on others even at the peak of our strength.”

Mercy shaped the life of the church in 2016 by Michael Sean Winters: “In the life of the church, 2016 mostly coincided with the Jubilee Year of Mercy, which officially began in late 2015 and concluded on the feast of Christ the King last month. When I first heard that the Holy Father intended to call a Jubilee Year of Mercy, I confess I did not realize what a big event this would be. Yet, it shaped every aspect of the life of the Catholic church in 2016.” Read More

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How Social Isolation Is Killing Us by Dhruv Khullar: “A great paradox of our hyper-connected digital age is that we seem to be drifting apart. Increasingly, however, research confirms our deepest intuition: Human connection lies at the heart of human well-being. It’s up to all of us — doctors, patients, neighborhoods and communities — to maintain bonds where they’re fading, and create ones where they haven’t existed.”

The Spiritual Crisis of the Modern Economy by Victor Tan Chen: “The modern economy privileges the well-educated and highly-skilled, while giving them an excuse to denigrate the people at the bottom (both white and nonwhite) as lazy, untalented, uneducated, and unsophisticated. In a society focused on meritocratic, materialistic success, many well-off Americans from across the political spectrum scorn the white working class in particular for holding onto religious superstitions and politically incorrect views, and pity them for working lousy jobs at dollar stores and fast-food restaurants that the better-off rarely set foot in. And when other sources of meaning are hard to come by, those who struggle in the modern economy can lose their sense of self-worth.”

Liberal Democracy Endangered by EJ Dionne: “The CIA’s finding that Vladimir Putin’s Russia actively intervened in our election to help Donald Trump explains why many of us are not simply disappointed or unhappy that Trump won. We are genuinely alarmed. And Trump’s cavalier response to these fears only deepens them.”

Aleppo’s fall is Obama’s failure by Leon Wieseltier: “As a direct or indirect consequence of our refusal to respond forcefully to the Syrian crisis, we have beheld secular tyranny, religious tyranny, genocide, chemical warfare, barrel bombs and cluster bombs, the torture and murder of children, the displacement of 11 million people, the destabilization of Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, the ascendancy of Iran in the region, the emergence of Russia as a global power, the diminishment of the American position in the world, the refugee crisis in Europe, the resurgence of fascism in Europe and a significant new threat to the security of the United States. It is amazing how much doing nothing can do, especially when it is we who do nothing.”

The GOP is at its peak, but conservatism has hit rock bottom by Michael Gerson: “This is not the political force that has recently taken over the Republican Party — with a plurality in the presidential primaries and a narrow victory in November. That has been the result of extreme polarization, not a turn toward enduring values. The movement is authoritarian in theory, apocalyptic in mood, prone to conspiracy theories and personal abuse, and dismissive of ethical standards. The president-elect seems to offer equal chances of constitutional crisis and utter, debilitating incompetence.” Read More

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The anguish of Aleppo by Michael Sean Winters: “Just as the lack of U.S. response to the killings in Rwanda left an indelible stain on the legacy of President Bill Clinton, the lack of a response to the atrocities in Syria will forever stain the record of President Obama.”

Russia and the Threat to Liberal Democracy by Larry Diamond: “Having a Europe that is whole and free is a vital American interest. Enforcing the principle that established borders cannot be eviscerated by military aggression is a vital American interest—and nowhere more so than in Europe. Ensuring that an authoritarian Russian regime does not replicate its values and expand its power by subverting democracy in the heart of Europe is also a vital American interest.”

Trump isn’t known for reading, but these texts should be on his list by Michael Gerson: “For King, no one is an outsider when it comes to confronting injustice because “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” King based a vision of human dignity on moral law, which takes precedence over unjust human laws. And King urges — actually demands — that white America see events from a different perspective. “When you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will . . . when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick and even kill your black brothers and sisters . . . then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.” The lessons here? The limits of “law and order,” set at the boundaries of conscience; the importance of protest in a free society; the need for empathy as the basis for justice.”

Trump, McConnell, Putin, and the Triumph of the Will to Power by Jonathan Chait: “Even the most cynical observer of McConnell — a cynical man to his bones — would have been shocked at his raw partisanship. Presented with an attack on the sanctity of his own country’s democracy by a hostile foreign power, his overriding concern was party over country.” Read More

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Not the Time for Reconciliation by Stephen Pope: “We must engage in honest dialogue with Trump supporters who explicitly denounce the cruel and open harassment of minorities that has followed his election. Every decent person must stand up against this horror. Patient and honest communication are important, but we have a prior responsibility to side with the marginalized at every step of the way….Now is the time for justice, not reconciliation.”

USCCB and Pope Francis are singing from different hymnals by Michael Sean Winters: “The annals of history are littered with evidence of well-meaning people and well-meaning clergy thinking that evil people will not really act upon the evil they have promised, and then it is too late to stop that evil. The bishops need to find their voice, and fast.”

Sacramental Sex? by Renée D. Roden: “By its very premise, which is a rejection of a holistic and integrated understanding of sexual intimacy, the hookup culture fosters an environment in which sexual assault can flourish. In fact, sexual assault seems to be the logical conclusion of the hookup culture. If the only referent for hooking up and sex are myself, and my social status, then naturally the other person’s wishes and feelings are irrelevant.”

Smoking declines dramatically but linked to 40 percent of cancer cases by Laurie McGinley: “In a pair of good news/bad news reports, the federal government said Thursday that cigarette smoking among adult Americans continues to decline sharply but that 40 percent of all cancer diagnoses now are linked to tobacco use. Those malignancies go beyond cancer in the lungs to include a dozen other parts of the body, including the throat, stomach, pancreas and liver.”

Activist insists Assad and ISIS aren’t the only choices for Syria by John Allen: “Shoring up Assad as an alternative to ISIS, he believes, is simply prolonging the country’s agony.” Read More