Politicizing Easter. President Barack Obama attended Easter services at St. John’s Church, a liberal Episcopal church near the White House, and heard a sermon not about the resurrection of Jesus, but about politics. The Rev. Dr. Luis Leon said from the pulpit, “It drives me crazy when the captains of the religious right are always calling us back … for blacks to be back in the back of the bus … for women to be back in the kitchen … for immigrants to be on their side of the border.” St. John’s claims that every president since James Madison has visited the church. The Obamas attended Easter services there in 2009 and 2012.
This time we’re really doomed. Former Reagan budget director David Stockman says the U.S. economy is a bubble that will burst within a few years. In an essay appearing yesterday in The New York Times, he wrote the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing policies have created an “unsustainable” situation that will ultimately collapse. Stockman explains and supports this theory in a new book, The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America, due out tomorrow. Stockman is already taking hits from the political left. Times columnist Paul Krugman called Stockman’s piece “cranky old man stuff,” adding, “We’ve been doomed, yes doomed, ever since FDR took us off the gold standard and introduced unemployment insurance. What about those 80 years of non-doom? Just a series of lucky accidents?”
Stockton bankruptcy. A judge will issue a decision today regarding the bankruptcy of Stockton, Calif. If you think this just affects the people of Stockton, or is of interest only to economic policy wonks, think again. The Chapter 9 bankruptcy case could decide whether federal bankruptcy law trumps a California law that says debts to the state pension fund must be honored. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Klein will decide whether Stockton becomes the most populous city in the nation to enter bankruptcy, despite the objection of creditors who argued the city failed to pursue all other avenues for straightening out its financial affairs. If it receives bankruptcy protection, the city begins negotiations over debt repayment that some say could end up in the U.S. Supreme Court. Stockton owes $900 million to the California Public Employees’ Retirement System to cover pension promises.
Are we having fun yet? According to new data released by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 19.7 million new venereal infections in the United States in 2008, bringing the total number of existing sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the United States at that time to 110 million. That means one-third of all Americans are walking around with some sort of sexually transmitted disease. Of the nearly 20 million new STIs in the United States in 2008, about 9.8 million were among Americans in the 15-to-24 age bracket. “CDC’s new estimates show that there are about 20 million new infections in the United States each year, costing the American healthcare system nearly $16 billion in direct medical costs alone,” said a CDC fact sheet. The most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States in 2008 was human papillomavirus (HPV), which caused 14,100,000 estimated infections that year.