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The Iceberg Cometh

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Of course, the captain of the Titanic had been warned that there were icebergs in the area too. He declined to slow down the ship, so fixated on reaching New York in record time that he ignored the risks posed by the icebergs. His decision was more than unfortunate, it was criminal, because he was putting more than his ship at risk, he was putting the lives of hundreds of people at risk.

Watching the members of Congress discuss the negotiations to raise the debt ceiling last night, I couldn’t get the image from the movie “Titanic” out of my mind: the captain in his bridge as the water rises past the windows, and finally the pressure is too much, the water crashes through the windows, the captain is overwhelmed and drowned. The captain looked filled with sadness and self-pity as the scene unfolds, but I could muster no pity for him, reserving mine for the innocents outside the cabin who would also drown.

Card. George Hearts Sr. Carol

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During the health care debate, Cardinal George was a bit frosty towards the Catholic Health Association and its leader Sister Carol Keehan. But, in an interview with David Gibson over at Commonweal, Cardinal George had this to say:

"Sr. Carol Keehan is a very smart and a very dedicated lady. So she brings up things that are good for bishops to be aware of, because she’s much more involved in this. She understands insurance in ways that not many of us do, so what she says is very important.

Sen. Mike Lee: Tea Party Darling

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Senator Mike Lee from Utah, the Tea Party favorite who won his Senate seat last year by defeating a very conservative but not conservative enough Sen. Robert Bennett, was on the talk shows last night. In an appearance on Hannity, Sen. Lee referred to President Obama as "His Imperial Majesty." Lee is a young man, only forty years old, and watching him I realized that he is precisely the kind of obnoxious campaign operative that both parties produce. They say things like that in private, demeaning their opponents, evidencing a "win at all costs" approach to politics that is juvenile, as if they weren't good enough to make the football team so they put all their testosterone into political fights. I have encountered many such nasty operatives in Democratic circles, but it is really shocking to see someone on national television talking this way. Say what you want about Obama but there has been nothing imperial about his presidency and the man clearly has no pretensions to majesty.

Three Cheers for Greta

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You usually can count on Fox News to give a somewhat unbalanced and unfair presentation of the news of the day. But, the straightest shooter among their network hosts is Greta van Susteren. Last night, she made a very salient point when discussing the debt ceiling crisis and the danger that Standard and Poor's would downgrade the nation's AAA rating. The video is, as far as I can tell, not on her website, but essentially she asked, "Why should anyone pay any attention to Standard and Poor's? Aren't they the clowns who caused the economic recession in the first place by telling investors that the derivatives and junk bonds were good investments?" Spot on.

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.

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November 21-December 5, 2014

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