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What the Midterms Will Not Achieve

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The votes have not yet been tallied but already the spin has begun to explain their significance. Here are a few things that will not be decided on Tuesday.

Long-term v. Short-term economics. The deficit is a long-term problem, mostly involving entitlement spending. The most necessary thing to solve the deficit problem is to get the economy humming again. That was, in part, the goal of the stimulus package, although its primary goal was to stop the bleeding, a goal that was achieved even though enough blood had already flowed out to leave the economy in really bad shape. Efforts to cut back on government spending have the potential of crippling the economic recovery and thus making the deficit problem worse.

Tax cuts can be stimulative, but only if there is a significant drop in marginal rates as in the Reagan years and if the cuts are off-set by cuts in spending. Keeping the Bush tax cuts for the super-rich will have little stimulative effect which is why they are not worth keeping. The Laffer Curve, mentioned the other day by Sarah Palin to justify extending the Bush cuts, is laughable.

Blast From the Past: Nat'l Right to Life Cmte

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I have my differences with the National Right to Life Committee. I think they drank the GOP Kool-Aid on health care, or at least they sipped it. But, there was a certain non-partisan consistency in their stance, as exhibited by the fact that they decided to score the autumn vote on the Stupak Amendment after it became obvious to some Republicans that they could scuttle the health care bill if they first assured the defeat of the Stupak Amendment. If NRLC was simply singing from the GOP hymnal, they could have decided not to score that vote.

This week, while doing research, I came across something that I had either forgotten or never known. During the debate over welfare reform in the mid-1990s, one of the reforms would have rewarded states with additional block grants if they lowered the rate of illegitmate births in their states. This was dressed up in familiar language about the traditional family and all that and the provision was strongly urged by the GOP. But, the NRLC's Wanda Franz opposed the measure and said at the time: "Being born out of wedlock didn't make it into the Ten Commandments - killing did."

Q & A: Father Larry Snyder of Catholic Charities

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This week, noting both the new report on the Catholic Campaign for Human Devlopment and the fact that Catholic Charities has just finished celebrating its centennial, we have been focusing on what is distinctive about Catholic charitable work.

We finish, apporpriately, with an excerpt from the speech Fr. Larry Snyder, CEO and President of Catholic Charities USA, gave to the centennial gala. Please consider going to their website and helping them with their important work by making a contribution.

More Evidence Why De-Regulation is Dumb

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"If men were angels, no government would be necessary."

So states Federalist #51.

Tea Partyers like to claim they have a much-needed and full blown devotion to "the Founding." They also claim to support "limited government." But, the news that Halliburton and BP knew there was a problem with the concrete used in the well that exploded in April shows why government is necessary.

Men are not angels. Certainly the men at Halliburton and BP were more concerned with profits than they were with any sense of self-regulation.

Ask Your Bartender

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In my profile of the VA-5 race a few weeks ago, I mentioned that I stopped by a restaurant at "the corner," the collection of shops and restaurants located next to the campus of the University of Virginia. Donnie was the bartender and he expressed the sentiment that no one was really paying attention to the election.

Bartenders, like barbers and hair dressers, spend a fair amount of time making chit-chat with customers and they are the first people I talk to when I try to get a sense of what is going on in a town.

Yesterday, on the way back from Lynchburg, I stopped for lunch at a restaurant on the pedestrian mall in downtown Charlottesville. A few blocks away, the Secret Service was looking over the site where President Obama will be headlining a rally for Cong. Tom Perriello tonight. The bartender, Kyle, offered me a menu and asked what I wanted to drink. Then, without prompting, he said, "You know, the President is coming tomorrow."

This is good news for Perriello who needs a strong turnout among UVA students and Charlottesville liberals. Kyle said he would be voting for Perriello.

The bad news? Later in the meal, Kyle asked me when the election was.

Miller to Trivial Pursuit

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If the latest poll is to be believed, Alaska GOP Seante candidate and Tea Party favorite Joe Miller is headed not to the U.S. Senate but to a mossible appearance as an answer to an especially difficult Trivial Pursuit question.

He has plummetted to third place behind "Write-In" and Democrat Scott Adams.
Additionally, the poll was in the field as news was breaking -- and before it set in -- that Miller had tried to cover-up his own misdeed in using government computers to conduct partisan political work.

I am hoping that the eventual Trivial Pursuit question will be: "Name the five Tea Party candidates who lost their Senate bids in 2010?" But, maybe it will be only "Name the three Tea Party candidates..." But, one thing is increasingly likely. Christine O'Donnell and Joe Miller were not ready for prime time, and there is a lesson in that for the GOP.

Whether the GOP learns that lesson or not will largely determine the party's future.

NCR & MSW: Ahead of the Curve

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It is fun for me to watch all the news coverage of the congressional race in Virginia's Fifth Congressional District. Cong. Tom Perriello is on the front page of The Washington Post, in the top spot on Politico, etc.

Of course, here at NCR, we ran a profile of Perriello in June of 2009!

The first entry in the "Election Time" series was for VA-5.

And, more than two weeks ago, we ran an in-depth analysis of the race.

To our friends in the mainstream media, welcome to VA-5. Better late than never.

Cardinal-designate Burke is Wrong (Again!)

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Just when you thought we might make it through at least a midterm election without any mention of denying people communion, there is Cardinal-designate Raymond Burke launching his crusade for such denial based on his own reading of Canon 915 and, more importantly, on his own reading of the political landscape. Rocco has the clips. Cathy Grossman at USAToday has some context but I am sure most readers know how these controversies play out. What the press corps called the “wafer watch” in 2004, when Burke told Sen. Kerry he would be denied communion in St. Louis, will be back in2012 with Vice President Biden unless….Rome steps in.

Q & A: Cardinal George at Catholic Charities Mass

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This week, we are examining what is distinctive about Catholic charitable work. As many of you know, Catholic Charities USA recently celebrated its centennial and, as a part of that celebration, they held a Mass. Cardinal Francis George of Chicago delivered the homily, and the following excerpt perfectly touches on the theme.

You can find the wntire homily at the CCA website here.

Campaign Spending

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On the radio yesterday, NPR's Richmond affiliate said that outside groups have spent more than $4 million in the congressional race in VA-5, where incumbent Congressman Tom Perriello is in a tight race with GOP challenger Robert Hurt.

What does that money buy? This morning, at 5:20 a.m., the WSLS-TV, Channel 10, had back-to-back ads. The station is in Roanoke, which is not actually in the Fifth District. And, I do not know who, except me, was watching television at that ungodly hour.

Surely there is a better ways to spend campaign cash - and better things to do with cash than waste it on endless campaign ads.

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September 26-October 9, 2014

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