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One word not in the State of the Union


This word cloud shows which words were used most frequently in President Obama's State of the Union address last night: "people," "new," "jobs."

One word that does not appear in the text at all: "poor."

That is telling, especially in the middle of (or at the tail end of) a recession in which so many people are hurting.

(Thanks to the CNN commentator who mentioned this last night. I doublechecked with a search of the text.)

President Obama in his comfort zone


Watching President Obama’s State of the Union address last night, I couldn’t help but feel the comfort level that he seemed to exude. The speech seemed similar in tone to his Tucson one that received widespread support and has bolstered his popularity rating.

The tone and substance of both speeches have focused on national unity and addressing key problems in particular economic ones without partisan polarization.

But is this a new Obama? I don’t think so. I believe it is the real Obama.

These two speeches have been similar to his address to the Democratic Party convention in 2004 that brought the president into national prominence.

Remember one of his famous lines in that speech? “There are no red states or blue states, there is only the United States of America.”

The Tucson and the State of the Union are a continuation of that convention speech where Obama attempts to transcend partisanship and represents himself as the Great Unifier.

Obama, it seems to me, is at his best and seems more comfortable not leading the Democratic Party, but as a good lawyer bringing together disputing sides. His comfort level is best mediating rather than leading a fight.

Morning Briefing


Anti-torture activists conclude weeks-long fast


Activists with Witness Against Torture have just concluded a week and a half-long fast in support of activities to close the U.S. military's detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Catholic Worker Jake Olzen was part of the fast in Washington, and has filed a piece for us on the events.

Take a look at Olzen's story: Activists fast, call for Guantanamo closure.

'Pax ≠vobiscum' - The forger's story


I opened up this past weekend's edition of the Financial Times and noticed a curious headline about a "forger." It quickly became apparent that writer was doing an in-depth piece on the faux Jesuit priest "donating" fake paintings to museums.

"One morning last September, a visitor arrived at the Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum in Lafayette, Louisiana. ... His name was Father Arthur Scott, he was dressed in the outfit of a Jesuit priest with a Society of Jesus lapel pin, and he bore a gift.

A few weeks before, Father Scott had sent a letter postmarked Michigan to the museum, an elegant institution attached to the University of Louisiana. His mother, an art collector from Philadelphia, had died, and his sister Emily was still in Paris sorting out the estate, he wrote. His mother had left a number of paintings, including a pastel drawing by Charles Courtney Curran, which he wanted to donate. He planned to return with others and the family was also likely to make a financial donation.

Read the full story


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November 20-December 3, 2015


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