Lame duck, same duck? An old adage says that if it walks like a duck, and quacks like it’s a duck, then it is a duck. In what is will be a lame duck session in Congress, the mood has spread to local issues, a seemingly opportune moment to present proposals, reiterate statements, and positions, before the work of the newly elected officials begin in January.
In local news, the Ricketts family, owners of the Chicago Cubs proposed to use existing entertainment tax revenue, and expected increases, to fund renovations to Wrigley Field.
The problem was, no one bothered to call the governor. Perhaps they thought that they could slip this one by Pat Quinn, before the final concession by Bill Brady?
And, of course, the Governor justifiably had his nose out of joint because the family bypassed him in favor of the ever pugnacious House Speaker, Michael Madigan, and Senate President John Cullerton. As the gov commented to the press, “Apparently, they don’t think I’m as important as some others.”
Ouch! Not exactly a how-to-course in Dale Carnegie’s course, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”
While rejected by Mayor Daley, the proposal strikes us as a trial balloon before the mayoral elections in February. If it fails, as it has, then the Ricketts know that it has to go back to the drawing board. And, if it had sailed, then it could have proceeded as planned.
If the Ricketts are as clever to use the holiday intersession to float financial gains, then perhaps they could provide more energy into giving us a winning team, and break the 108 year old World Series losing streak.
Meanwhile, in ecclesiastical circles, outgoing United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Francis George has reiterated the Church’s position that the new Health Care legislation will allow federal funds to be used for abortions, albeit through the backdoor, despite the Obama administrations reaffirmation of existing prohibitions on government financed abortions, and Executive Order 13535, that expressly restricts federal funds for abortions within the context of recent health care legislation. The Order specifically supports the Hyde amendment which bars the use of certain federal funds to pay for abortions.
George notes, however, that “Our analysis of what the law itself says was correct and our moral judgments are secure.”
The position of the Catholic Church is that all abortions are not permissible, even to save the life of the mother, or in cases of rape and incest.
The final law allows federal subsidies for health insurance premiums to pay for abortion only in cases of rape or incest, or to save the life of the mother, a long-standing federal policy known as the Hyde amendment.
It seems odd that a position that has been so firmly established, and promulgated, within Church teaching, should be reiterated by the Cardinal.
Is the UCCB, now headed by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, prepared to join forces with those who want to revoke the legislation?
If so, then we feel that the contentious debate within the hierarchy, and those in the pews, could be reopened – but surely not to the betterment of an already beleaguered church still reeling from the sexual abuse scandal.
Or, then do the bishops see an opportunity to repeal a bill that they lobbied hard against?
Meanwhile, in today’s news, Pope Benedict XVI has departed from previous Church teaching in the use of condoms,and has approved their use in some instances, to prevent the spread of AIDS, an exception to the long-held ban on contraceptives.
The Pontiff made this startling statement to a German journalist . The statement, however, was extremely limited, and in an uncommon manner, he stated its connection as an aid to male prostitutes.
But, significantly he did not approve their use, or suggest that the Roman Catholic Church was starting to move away from its prohibition of birth control.
Praised by many liberal Catholics, notably Jon O’Brien, President of Catholics for Choice, founded to affirm that Catholic tradition supports “a woman’s moral and legal right to follow her conscience in matters of sexuality and reproductive health”, the statement sent shockwaves throughout the media.
O’Brien declared the Roman Pontiff’s words as “a marvelous victory for common sense and reason” in the battle against the AIDS pandemic.
Critics have pointed to the statement as a way to address some of the criticisms of his pontificate, others, more cynical, as a way to gain support after church officials, and some say, even the Pope himself, when he was Cardinal Ratzinger, protecting pedophile priests, with a confidential order to keep all allegations secret, instead of reporting to legal authorities.
Whether today’s remarks reflect political spin, or a genuine move to address the AIDS pandemic remains to be seen.
If all politics are local, then they may now be considered global.