I have spared you my American Idol reflections up to this point, that show being one of my pop-culture vices, but a recent performance was so emblematic that I cannot help but comment upon it.  Joshua Ledet, arguably the best singer in the contest (who made the top three but, unfortunately, got voted off before this week’s finale), sang as his personal choice John Lennon’s “Imagine.”  Now that has to be one of my least favorite songs, a treacly anthem… Read more

Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, New Jersey, is a rising star in the Democratic party.   He’s in trouble with Democrats now, though, for objecting to the Obama campaign’s attack on Mitt Romney’s old private-equity firm, Bain Capital. Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, a close ally of President Obama in the upcoming election, slammed the president’s campaign Sunday for ads attacking Mitt Romney’s work for the private-equity firm Bain Capital. Booker, who noted that many of his constituents are investors… Read more

Ross Douthat begins with reflections on three recent cases in American religion:  the popularity of prosperity-gospeller Joel Osteen; President Obama’s statement that the reason he now favors gay marriage is because he follows Jesus; and new statistics that find that non-denominational Christianity is now the third largest category, behind Roman Catholics and Southern Baptists.  He then draws this conclusion and applications: For decades, the cultural tug-of-war between the Christian right and the secular left has encouraged people to envision the… Read more

Europeans are torn about the best approach to fix their messed-up economies:  austerity (cutting government budgets and deficits) or stimulus (the government spending even more money and running up even bigger deficits in an effort to jump-start economic growth).  Austerity, as recommended by Germany, had been the plan, but recent elections in France and Greece have favored the pro-stimulus side.  Who is the role model for this position?  President Barack Obama and his stewardship of the American economy.  See  Germany,… Read more

The New York Times broke a shocking story: Joe Ricketts, an up-by-the-bootstraps billionaire whose varied holdings include a name-brand brokerage firm in Omaha, a baseball team in Chicago, herds of bison in Wyoming and a start-up news Web site in New York, wanted to be a player in the 2012 election. On Thursday he was, though not in the way he had intended. Word that Mr. Ricketts had considered bankrolling a $10 million advertising campaign linking President Obama to the… Read more

The blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng, whom we have been blogging about, has been released and has arrived in the United States, where he will be a fellow at New York University.  Melinda Henneberger writes about the human rights issue Chen has been battling: The day of Mei Shunping’s fifth forced abortion in China was “the saddest day of my life,’’ she told a congressional subcommittee this week. The cause that human rights activist Chen Guangcheng has so long championed… Read more

Yesterday was Ascension Day, marking the resurrected Christ’s return to His Father.  Pastor Reeder quotes the classic Bible scholar Paul E. Kretzmann on what the Ascension means: “By His exaltation and ascension the Son of Man, also according to His human body, has entered into the full and unlimited use of His divine omnipresence. His gracious presence is therefore assured to His congregation on earth. He is now nearer to His believers than He was to His disciples in the… Read more

So says the Obama administration.  Rod Dreher  comments: Remember how no clergy member will be forced to perform same-sex marriages against their will. If the Obama administration has its way, all US military chaplains will have to do so. Excerpt: “The Obama administration “strongly objects” to provisions in a House defense authorization bill that would prohibit the use of military property for same-sex “marriage or marriage-like” ceremonies, and protect military chaplains from negative repercussions for refusing to perform ceremonies that… Read more

Say you get a good job in the environs of our nation’s capital. (The region has some of the country’s lowest unemployment rates, with jobs in government, high-tech, and the military-industrial complex.)  Your choices of where to live are the District of Columbia, Maryland, or Virginia. Maryland has just chosen to raise its income tax rates to match those of D.C., so they will be tied for fourth highest in the nation.  Virginia’s taxes, on the other hand, are not… Read more

A judge in a Virginia lawsuit over posting the Ten Commandments in a public school has proposed cutting out the first few that are about God and allowing the rest of them to be displayed.  (The so-called “First Table” is about love of God; the “Second Table” is about love of neighbor.) Could the Ten Commandments be reduced to six, a federal judge asked Monday. Would that neutralize the religious overtones of a commandments display that has the Giles County… Read more

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