The news of Archbishop Pietro Sambi’s death is shattering. Apostolic Nuncio to the United States since 2005, Sambi was, simply put, the best nuncio in my lifetime. In his relations with the U.S. government and with the Church in the U.S., his was a calming presence, a friendly face, and a listening ear.
Word has just come that Archbishop Pietro Sambi died this evening.
Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord.
Glenn Beck's venom has been on display for a long time, but even I was surprised at how low he stooped yesterday when he compared the victims of the massacre in Norway to Hitler youth.
He should be fired. He has a First Amendment right to say such vile nonsense, but it is insane that he receive a paycheck for doing so.
A recent Pew Study indicates that income disparities have grown as a result of the recession, and that Hispanics have been especially hard hit.
This is the kind of fact that President Obama and his re-election team should be focusing on like a laser beam. It touches on issues of unemployment and the pressing need for mortgage assistance. It requires government intervention.
John Gehring, who writes at Faith in Public Life, has a takedown of R.R. Reno's recent essay in First Things that was, frankly, bizarre. Not just the run of the mill bizarre in these unbelievable times, but bizarre in ways that Dickens was able to lampoon. If only the poor would wear a tie, all would be well. Yeesh.
As Gehring notes, it is sad to see a once fine journal like First Things publish such an article. The fact that there are many varieties of poverty, and that there are links between them, is obvious and important, and it deserved a thoughtful treatment, not a collection of catch phrases.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.