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Wonk-in-Chief

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I am not sure why President Obama chose to address the nation last night. He certainly did not announce a deal to raise the debt ceiling. He did not announce that he was prepared to invoke the 14th Amendment option and unilaterally raise the debt ceiling. It was unclear to me that he added anything to the discussion and, at this later date, the time has passed to give the kind of “framing the issue” speech he delivered last night. President Obama’s political skills seem to have abandoned him precisely when he most needs them.

RCR's Hahn Gets It Wrong

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Nicholas Hahn III has a post up at Real Clear Religion entitled "Catholic U's Garvey Gets It Wrong." The article attacks the recent decision by Catholic University President John Garvey to institute single-sex dorms on campus. In the event, it is Hahn, not Garvey, who gets it wrong.
Hahn attributes a variety of motives to Garvey that are, putting it mildly, preposterous. Hahn writes, "Garvey's is a patronizing decision, as if to protect students from the sins they will surely encounter once they leave the Ivory Tower -- it is another attempt by university administrators to create an alternate universe that is a college campus. Garvey's response to dormitory debauchery is to say that the ideas of sexual purity and responsible behavior hold no water in the cultural battle. Garvey effectively has decided sin is more powerful than virtue."

Chait Agrees: No Grand Compromise Possible

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The New Republic's Jonathan Chait has an incisive analysis of why John Boehner is in a box regarding the debt ceiling. He is absolutely right that Boehner does not have the votes for the kind of "grand compromise" that the President desires. Boehner also was unfair yesterday in arguing that the President only wants a long-term extension to avoid dealing with the issue in an election year. Obama wants a long-term extension because anything less than that will continue the sense of economic uncertainty that is the true source of anemia in the economy.

The Blinders of Another Culture War Bishop

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Bishop Richard Malone of Portland, Maine, has endorsed his state's version of, and association with, Texas Governor Rick Perry's "The Response USA" which, according to the website, aims to pray for an "historic breakthrough for our country and a renewed sense of moral purpose."

I wonder if the good bishop looked around that Web site a bit more thoroughly. This event is being co-sponsored by the Family Research Council, the rightwing evangelical outfit based in Colorado Springs that is led currently by Tony Perkins, an alumnus of Jerry Falwell's Liberty University and the most effective advocate of religious-political fusion since Falwell.

Another one the "endorsers" listed on the Web site is the Rev. John Hagee, whose bitter anti-Catholic sentiments forced that notorious leftie John McCain to refuse Hagee's endorsement in 2008. And, there, too, is retired Bishop Rene Gracida, who has made a habit of attacking Boston's Cardinal Sean O'Malley for presiding at the funeral of Sen. Edward Kennedy and, most recently, for permitting a Mass designed to reach out to gay and lesbian Catholics.

Nuncio \"Gravely Ill\"

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Rocco is reporting that Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the Vatican Nuncio to the United States, is gravely ill having undergone surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital. His family has been called from Italy to his bedside.

Sambi has been a great nuncio as reflected in the many appointments of sane, pastoral bishops during his tenure. His influence lessens with the prominence of the diocese to be filled, as is the case with all nuncios, so it is important to look at some of the appointments to smaller dioceses. I am partial to the appointments of Bishop John Barres to Allentown and Bishop Joe Tyson to Yakima, not least because they were classmates. Sambi helped ease Bishop Joseph Martino out of Scranton, a difficult and painful, but necessary, decision.

Tea Party Frauds

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If there was any doubt that the Tea Party was fraudulent or so terribly addled as to appear fraudulent, this week put such doubts to rest. And, not just standard-fare political fraudulence of the kind that exists casually, as when a politician who hates your guts says how happy he is to see you. No, the Tea Party’s fraud is deeper, going to the heart of their own claims about what ails America and what it will take to restore her to greatness.

Of course, if you have been to a Tea Party rally, you will know that they talk a lot about the Constitution and the founders and their fidelity thereto. They often get things terribly wrong about that history, to be sure. In her book “The Whites of Their Eyes,” Jill Lepore examined the many ways to Tea Party distorts history. In one of her most searing observations, she writes, “There were very few black people in the Tea Party, but there were no black people at all in the Tea Party’s eighteenth century. Nor, for that matter, were there any women, aside from Abigail Adams, and no slavery, poverty, ignorance, insanity, sickness, or misery.” Ouch. (And three cheers for Abigail!)

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August 1-14, 2014

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