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\"Question Time\" - Thumbs Up!

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For those who did not watch the President’s meeting with the House Republican Caucus in Baltimore yesterday, try and catch it on C-Span this weekend. Unlike the State of the Union, which even when it is good, is a set piece with little dramatic impact, yesterday’s back and forth with the opposition was fascinating, both good politics and good theater. It has been compared to “Question Time,” when a British Prime Minister weekly (and sometimes weakly) submits to questions from members of the House of Commons. Of course, American politics, in formal settings, lacks the rough-and-tumble of the Commons, but the event in Baltimore came as close to anything I have seen in a long time in forcing the participants past the their own sound-bites.

Right Wing Punks

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The news that James O’Keefe and three confederates were arrested for entering the premises of Senator Mary Landrieu’s offices in New Orleans on false pretenses and with pernicious intentions – either to videotape the office or to record conversations – brought back to my mind a word I seldom use: punk.

James O’Keefe is a punk. This was obvious in his manipulative videotape of an ACORN office where he and a lady friend went posing as a prostitute and her pimp. The ACORN workers responded foolishly, sort of like the cops who came to Henry Louis Gates’ door in Cambridge last summer. In an effort to appear non-judgmental, which is a very important quality among those who work with the poor, the ACORN workers failed to recognize the hoax, and failed to confront its purported criminal nature. They were wrong but the whole episode left me with a question: Who appointed Mr. O’Keefe an investigator? Who ordained this witch hunt?

Another Haiti inspiration

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A Minnesota television anchor has quit her job to work full-time in Haiti as a nurse. Julie Pearce has been with KBJR-TV in Duluth since 2006, most recently as a weekend anchor. The 29-year-old is also a nurse. She graduated from the College of St. Scholastica's post-baccalaureate nursing program in August and has passed the Minnesota boards.

Read the Assoicated Press story here: Minnesota television anchor quits to work in Haiti

Haiti: Opportunities abound

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A new perspective needs to shine on Haiti that transitions to the view of "substantial opportunities" from "permanently impoverished," as outlined in an op-ed piece today in The New York Times.

The article is co-written by Paul Collier, an economics professor at Oxford, was a special adviser on Haiti to the United Nations secretary general in 2009, and Jean-Louis Warnholz, the managing director of a business consulting company, who was an economic adviser to Haiti’s prime minister in 2009.

Obama needs to reconnect with the American people

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I voted for President Barack Obama with a great deal of enthusiasm and hope for the future like many other Americans. Although I still support the President and still hope that his administration will advance a progressive agenda, I have to say that I have been disappointed by the President’s seemingly unwillingness to fight for such an agenda. He seems to predisposed to compromise and to look over his shoulders at his right-wing critics.

The American people want a President who seems to stand for something and to fight for those goals. The President must articulate a vision of where he wants to take the country but he can’t or shouldn’t try to be all things to all people. There is no question but that the biggest mistake this past year by the administration was to focus so heavily on healthcare reform.

Jan. 29, St. Gildas the Wise

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Today is the feast of St. Gildas the Wise, the earliest British historian. His writings were an important source for Bede and Alcuin.

Gildas was born in Scotland, on the banks of the Clyde, and he died at a monastery he founded in Brittany. His dates are in question by modern scholars; he was probably born before 500 and probably died after 550. He spent much of his religious and priestly life in Wales and Ireland before retiring to Brittany. The most famous of his surviving works is De Excidio Britanniae, (The Ruin of Britain).

Morning Briefing

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Again the call for bi-partisanship

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Catholic News Service added these four paragraphs as an update to a story it issued earlier this week: Bishops to Congress: Set aside partisanship Work together for genuine health reform

In his State of the Union address Jan. 27, President Barack Obama urged Congress to step up its efforts to achieve health reform this year.

"Do not walk away from reform. Not now. Not when we are so close," Obama said. "Let us find a way to come together and finish the job for the American people."

Sr. Carol Keehan, a Daughter of Charity who is president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association, affirmed that message in a Jan. 28 letter to members of Congress.

"We understand the political realities and concerns with passage of such important and far-reaching legislation," she wrote. "But we firmly believe that now is not the time to let those concerns derail what may be the last opportunity of our lifetime to address the continuing shame of allowing so many individuals and families in our nation to go without access to affordable health care."

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July 4-17, 2014

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