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What to do about Pakistan?

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Do you remember the television ad Hillary Clinton ran during the 2008 primaries in which dark music played in the background and a phone rings, and the voiceover says it is the middle of the night and asks who you want to pick up that phone? It was a good ad, even if it involved a bit of marketing hyperbole. For starters, no matter who took the call, the most likely first question they would ask is: “What do you recommend?” So, it was just as, if not more, important to know who was placing the call as who was taking it, and the person placing the call would be the National Security Advisor. The current incumbent in that post, Tom Donilon, would be as likely to hold that job in a Clinton administration as in an Obama one. So, the ad raised a false contrast between Clinton and Obama.

Yahoo Watch: American Papist

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The American Papist is in a tizzy because New York's new governor, Andrew Cuomo, received communion at Mass on Sunday. Actually, what has the Papist in a tizzy is the fact that Cuomo was not denied communion. This is a "disaster" and a "scandal." Of course, there are only a handful of bishops in the United States who deny communion based on someone's public policy positions. And, neither Pope Benedict nor Pope John Paul II adopted the practice. The Papist is either too easily scandalized or he fails to understand that the idea of denying communion to politicians is, as a Vatican official put it to me, "horrible theology."
But, the Papist and his ilk are too filled with neo-Jansenistic worries, as were their namesakes, to worry about good theology.

GOP Hypocrisy Watch: That Was Fast

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The new Congress hasn't even been sworn in yet, and already Republicans are going back on one of their signature promises: Guaranteeing that all bills are paid for with off-setting cuts in spending. You will recall that the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office concluded that the health care law passed last year will knock $143 billion of the deficit by 2019. In their rush to pass a bill that repeals the health care law, House Republicans now say they will suspend the budgetary requirement that they find the money to offset the $143 billion.
That was fast.
You will also recall that Republicans in the Senate objected to extending unemployment benefits because those benefits were not off-set. They caved when they got tax cuts for zillionaires.
So, budgetary vigilance is called for, except when the GOP wants something. If this ain't hypocrisy, I don't know what is.

Madness in Rome

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John Allen reports on the possibility of a beatification ceremony for Pope John Paul II as early as next year. This is madness. After years of being frustrated at the slow pace with which the Vatican embraces change, in this one instance where haste could spell disaster, they appear to be rushing.
As Jason Berry has demonstrated time and again, it remains an open question as to how Pope John Paul II dealt with the clergy sex abuse crisis and while no one has raised charges of personal corruption against him, those charges have been leveled against his top aides. Documents pertaining to such corruption as may exist could be in a courtroom near you any day if the Vatican continues to lose its law suits. It would be a shock to the very idea of beatification if, shortly after Pope John Paul II was beatified, especially damning evidence of corruption close to the papal throne emerged.
Last year, Pope Benedict beatified John Henry Newman, who had as profound an impact on the Church as John Paul II and was able to wait for a hundred years to receive his due.

Off on the Wrong Feet

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The incoming House Republican Majority is getting off on the wrong foot. They wrong feet actually. Already, the tug-of-war has begun between the Tea Party extremists and the need to actually govern, as seen in the debate about extending the debt ceiling. And, another tug-of-war is already manifesting itself between rival interpretations of the November election results: Did voters send the signal that they wanted Democrats and Republicans to work together, or did they simply reject the Obama program? And, as ever, there is the equivalent of hazing as newcomers get used to the ways of Washington.

Anglican Bishops To Be Ordained RC Priests

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Three Anglican bishops who have decided to join the new ordinariate for former Anglicans will be ordained deacons on January 13 and priests two days later at Westminster Cathedral in London.
This is huge to my mind. The news accounts do not mention it, but these will presumably be "conditional ordinations" akin to a church baptism when the baby was already baptized at the hospital. We call it "supplying the rite" because, of course, you can't be baptized twice. You also can't be ordained twice. So, these bishops, who have been bishops for some time, are acknowledging that they actually are not bishops, or not fully bishops.

Memo To Cong. Issa: Think Narrative

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For the past two years, the Republicans in Congress have suffered acutely from subpoena envy and when they took the House in the midterms, the biggest immediate effect they can have on the government is to exercise their new power to investigate.
Congressman Darrell Issa is the new chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and he will be leading the charge. According to Politico, he is beginning to indicate the areas he will be examining. A word to the wise: If Issa does not create a narrative to justify his investigations, those investigations will backfire. If the common theme is "Finding ways to save money," that sounds like a winner. But, if it looks more like "Everything but the Kitchen Sink to Tarnish Obama" Cong. Issa risks alienating the very people who gave him the chairman's gavel, centrist voters who want both parties to work together for the good of the country.
Stay tuned.

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