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Obama job approval graph, 49.6

Huffington Post's job approval graph


Despite the joyful celebrations outside the Municipal Cathedral in Buenos Aires yesterday, the news of Latin America's first pope was clouded by lingering concerns about the role of the church – and its new head – during Argentina's brutal military dictatorship.

The Catholic church and Pope Francis have been accused of a complicit silence and worse during the "dirty war" of murders and abductions carried out by the junta that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983.

There was genuine joy. But it hasn't taken long for these questions to surface. More insight from Andrew Sullivan:
5.37 pm. Stanley Hauerwas:
It’s remarkable that they’ve chosen a Jesuit. That’s even more remarkable than choosing a non-European. That he’s a Jesuit says so much about his commitment to the poor, and that he’s taken the name of Francis — in recollection of Saint Francis of Assisi — clearly gestures that the Roman Catholic Church not only serves the poor, the Roman Catholic Church is the church of the poor.
Now for a real battle within American Christianity: the “church of the poor” or the Prosperity Gospel?
Rev. Franklin Graham has come out in support of universal background checks as the debate over gun control continues in Washington.

Graham told Time he and other religious leaders think background checks on gun purchases are "reasonable and responsible."

Also included with Graham is Richard Land of the Southern Baptist Convention. Hallelujah!

AP via US News:

Fiercely debated ammunition limits cleared Colorado's Democratic Legislature on Wednesday and were on their way to the governor, who has said he'll sign the measure into law.

The 15-round magazine limit would make Colorado the first state outside the East Coast to ratchet back gun rights after last year's mass shootings.

Colorado's gun-control debates have been closely watched because of the state's gun-loving frontier heritage and painful history of mass shootings, most recently last summer's movie theater shooting that killed 12.

"I am sick and tired of the bloodshed," said Rep. Rhonda Fields, sponsor of the ammunition limit and a Democrat whose suburban Denver district includes the theater. "Whatever we can do to curb the gun violence and the bloodshed, we have a responsibility to do that."

More politics and pundits below the fold.

Michael Miner:

Newtown—on covering a massacre where you live

Shannon Hicks, a reporter and photographer for the weekly Bee of Newtown, Connecticut, was perhaps the first journalist to arrive at the Sandy Hook Elementary School last December 14 to cover what turned out to be the massacre of 20 children and six adults. She took a picture of children leaving the school that showed up the next day on the front page of the New York Times, and a couple of weeks ago she served as the entree into Rachel Aviv's New Yorker story on the Bee's response to the massacre.

In typically understated New Yorker style, Aviv brought her report into focus with the following paragraph:

"After the second class had been evacuated, the education reporter came to retrieve the memory card from Hicks's camera, and Hicks went over to the Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue Company, which had just arrived. She bunched up her knee-length skirt and pulled bunker pants over it, and put on boots, a turnout coat, and a helmet. With three other firefighters, she set up a triage area near the school's baseball field, laying out medical bags, collars, backboards, and stretchers."
Reporters don't commonly double as volunteer firefighters. Reporters don't commonly surrender their memory cards and stop reporting the biggest story of their career because of a volunteer obligation. What obligation—as any Chicago reporter would ask you—could possibly exceed serving the people’s right to know?
HuffPost pollster:
President Barack Obama's approval rating declined to 50 percent in a Washington Post/ABC News poll released Wednesday, the latest piece of evidence that his post-election honeymoon is coming to an end.

The rating is a 5-point dip from a January Post/ABC poll, bringing Obama's popularity back in line with his numbers last fall. His decline was sharpest among independents, a majority of whom say they disapprove of his work.

That decline is generally consistent with the recent trends shown in other surveys, including the Gallup and Rasmussen Reports daily tracking polls. But the context of all the other surveys is important. When combined into the HuffPost Pollster trend-line estimate, they show a more modest decline than the Post/ABC poll, from a peak of just over 51 percent approval in early December to 50 percent now -- exactly the same as the new result reported on the new Post/ABC poll.

Gregory Koger:
Elections, not Policy

BUT:  policy outcomes are secondary to the true goals of political parties. While individual House members may be true conservatives and sincerely desire to implement conservative policies, this is not why the House Republican party exists. Its true purpose is to win elections. If it is in the electoral interests of the Republican party to bring up legislation opposed by most of the House GOP and allow it to pass, it is their job to do so. What kinds of bills are good for the GOP brand but unworthy of GOP members' votes?

Hans Noel:
Greg's excellent post on the Hastert "guideline" raises a point of disagreement among parties scholars. One that [this blog, Mischiefs of Faction] should make explicit.

Greg goes to great lengths to say that "policy outcomes are secondary to the true goals of political parties"-- winning elections. Greg's position is also taken by Anthony Downs, John Aldrich and others. Meanwhile, elsewhere, Seth and I (and Kathleen Bawn, Marty Cohen, David Karol and John Zaller) have gone to great lengths to say that policy outcomes are pretty primary to the true goals of political parties.

In a real way, this is a chicken-and-egg question. You can't win office if you don't have a record, so election-minded folks have to try to pass some sort of policy. And you can't enact policy without being in power, so policy-minded folks have to get elected.

But parties do not exist only for the egg or only for the chicken. In fact, much of their work is in managing the coordination problems that emerge precisely because these two goals can be in tension. That is the contribution of the so-called UCLA school on political parties, which at least Seth and I would consider ourselves aligned with.

EJ Dionne:
Paul Ryan’s budget could prove to be a perversely useful document.

Thanks to this plan, nobody can take the House Budget Committee chairman seriously anymore as a policy wonk or a true deficit hawk. His budget is the work of an ideologue. It’s a bargaining ploy that even Ryan concedes is merely “a vision.”

When read in context of the two above poli sci articles, even more perverse. How does this help the GOP get reelected? Between Ryan and Club for Growth, the GOP needs to have that civil war to clean up their act, or neither Jeb nor Chris Christie will ever get through a Republican primary.
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Comment Preferences

  •  . (12+ / 0-)

    Help me to be the best Wavy Gravy I can muster

    by BOHICA on Thu Mar 14, 2013 at 04:31:34 AM PDT

  •  Seems like the Ryan budget.... (7+ / 0-) a 2016 (primary) campaign document.

    "Michael Moore, who was filming a movie about corporate welfare called 'Capitalism: A Love Story,' sought and received incentives."

    by Bush Bites on Thu Mar 14, 2013 at 04:37:21 AM PDT

  •  Viewed from the other side of the Atlantic (16+ / 0-)

    the positions of the Republicans on so many issues - health care, guns, taxes, defense seem truly bizarre.

    It;s as though they invert every logic, science and experience and base policies on their perception, and then put their hands over  their ears and scream "la la la, I can't hear you"

    •  tis called catering to your base (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wintergreen8694, ybruti

      During the New Deal, Democrats forged an alliance among African Americans, unionists and Southern and Midwestern farmers.  The GOP has forged an alliance between radical fundamentalist Christians, various fringe groups such as militias, businessmen, and Southern neo-Confederates.  This alliance dictates that the GOP focuses on social issues and focuses on them from the perspective of the lowest common denominator among these groups.  Hence, for example, GOP opposition to abortion under any circumstances or teaching evolution in public schools

    •  American Exceptionalism should be... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Floande, SoCalSal, peterfallow, Orinoco

      ...a condition cited in the DSM.

      When you are right you cannot be too radical; when you are wrong, you cannot be too conservative. --Martin Luther King Jr.

      by Egalitare on Thu Mar 14, 2013 at 05:16:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Can the Prez get moving on immigration reform... (12+ / 0-)

    ...while still going through this budget stuff?

    If so, he'd better.

    The Repubs are trying to keep him bottled up on budgets in an effort to stop him from doing anything else.

    "Michael Moore, who was filming a movie about corporate welfare called 'Capitalism: A Love Story,' sought and received incentives."

    by Bush Bites on Thu Mar 14, 2013 at 04:40:32 AM PDT

  •  Ryan calls his plan a vision (16+ / 0-)

    and the rest of us call it a nightmare.

    As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. John F. Kennedy

    by JaxDem on Thu Mar 14, 2013 at 04:40:34 AM PDT

  •  Totally misread which Graham (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    commonmass, skohayes

    supports background checks. At first I thought it was this one:

    And law and order breaks down because the police can’t travel, there’s no communication. And there are armed gangs roaming around could exist tomorrow if there’s a cyber attack against the country and the power grid goes down and the dams are released and chemical plants are discharges.

    Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up. A. A. Milne

    by hulibow on Thu Mar 14, 2013 at 04:42:17 AM PDT

  •  GOP settling into it's former self....Obama Sux... (8+ / 0-)

    Repeal Obamacare......We're all going to die.

    As Barney Frank just said on Mourning Joe.....'Looks like they're gonna need another election to get the message.'

  •  Funny that U.S. keeps getting passed over... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    commonmass, skohayes the Pope derby.

    "Michael Moore, who was filming a movie about corporate welfare called 'Capitalism: A Love Story,' sought and received incentives."

    by Bush Bites on Thu Mar 14, 2013 at 04:49:52 AM PDT

  •  A Jesuit Pope? Maybe a good thing. (9+ / 0-)

    I have a lot of respect for the Jesuits--they helped educate me, and I found them to be highly decent men deeply grounded in reality despite the official teachings of the Church (which some brothers I knew took a great deal of delight in quietly undermining). If this Pope can put social justice ahead of oppressing women and gays, well, more power to him. I'm not holding my breath, however, and I think it's a horrible mistake of the Cardinals to choose someone who again comes to the Papacy with a great deal of baggage related to an oppressive regime. I suppose one waits and sees.

    The rapidity which which they elected someone who was not even on the short list is surprising to me. Let's hope Francisco I keeps his eye on his patron Saint.

    What is truth? -- Pontius Pilate

    by commonmass on Thu Mar 14, 2013 at 04:53:36 AM PDT

  •  Woo hoo... Franklin Graham (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Heart of the Rockies

    Surely there's a buck for him in there somewhere.  Who donated enough to get his endorsement?  And, moreover, does it matter?

    The longer I live, the clearer I perceive how unmatchable a compliment one pays when he says of a man "he has the courage to utter his convictions." Mark Twain

    by Persiflage on Thu Mar 14, 2013 at 04:57:21 AM PDT

  •  This roundup is a refreshing change from the (7+ / 0-)

    trad. med. "all pope, all the time" coverage on TV.  Thanks, Greg.

    Was much struck by Michael Moore's post yesterday on the subject of "yes, show the photographs of what weapons of mass slaughter do to the victims." That's an excellent point.

    So the "conclave" chose another old white guy to be the leader.  

    the Roman Catholic Church is the church of the poor.
    Of course it's the church of the poor:  if you can convince millions of people to breed mindlessly and then find themselves mired in poverty because they can't feed the children they've created, they're easier to control.  And if you can convince them that it doesn't matter how miserable their lives are on earth because after they die they'll be blissfully happy, you've got it made.  Convince them to give their hard-earned money to you so the leader can wear expensive, pristine white gowns while the believers starve--excellent!

    Biggest con job in the world, I think. Is it any coincidence that nominally Lutheran countries such as Scandinavia have populations that are well fed and educated, and that Latin America boasts not one such country?

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Thu Mar 14, 2013 at 04:57:22 AM PDT

  •  I did an interview (9+ / 0-)

    yesterday with a mental health clinic facing desperate times in Illinois because of the failure of the state to pay it's bills on time.  One thing mentioned was that suicide risks are escalating among the unemployed, underemployed and those losing their homes.

    While Washington engages in it's revolting game of chicken, we are dying out here.  The president must start proposing real jobs programs.  If the congress won't take them up, he needs to be shouting about it.    Only living wage jobs will ease this misery.

    Justice For Will Will spent his brief, courageous life fighting for the rights we all take for granted. Please share his story to support the fight!

    by KibbutzAmiad on Thu Mar 14, 2013 at 04:57:41 AM PDT

    •  The President HAS been proposing and shouting (0+ / 0-)

      about real jobs programs, increases to the minimum wage, and a lot of other reforms.  The most recent GOP complaint has been for the President to stop 'wasting money' on trips to get this message out.  He must be embarrassing them, so of course they need to deflect and distract.

  •  Redstate.....Burn Baby Burn.... (0+ / 0-)

    These guys will be wearing daishikis and sporting afros soon.

  •  ..... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    skillet, skohayes
    "It is good politics to oppose the black guy in the White House right now, especially for the Republican Party."
    @politicalwire via Twitter for Mac
    from SC

    "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

    by Greg Dworkin on Thu Mar 14, 2013 at 05:32:57 AM PDT

    •  in context (0+ / 0-)

      the guy who said it is an ER doc who wants Medicaid expansion to pass, but observes that in SC, there are political issues blocking that.

      "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

      by Greg Dworkin on Thu Mar 14, 2013 at 06:33:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  MD Death Penalty Repeal (6+ / 0-)

    Final vote in the House of Delegates is set for tomorrow. It will pass, and the death penalty will be a thing of the past in one more state.

    Took like 2.5 hours to get through all the amendments that had to be voted down last night. Opponents of repeal were trying to get an amendment to carve any sort of an exception out of the repeal. Things like reserving the death penalty for killing over 1,000 people or for setting off a nuclear bomb? All amendments were handily defeated and passage is almost guaranteed tomorrow.

  •  Fascist Church (0+ / 0-)

    The Roman Catholic Church is now unambiguously a fascist organization. The new pope backed the fascists in Argentina, the most notorious fascists in the Western Hemisphere. The old pope was a Nazi who insisted he was just following orders when he joined, rather than confess it was a failed moral test and exhorting others to confess and repent as he did. The old pope chose Opus Dei, the Church's leading fascist faction, to report on the crippling Vatileaks and underlying corruption that caused him to resign, from where he could pick the new pope and work Cheney-style from the back office to continue the campaign. From where he guided the choice of the new fascist pope.

    The Church never adequately addressed its moral failures and physical complicity in Nazism. Because it is consistent with fascism: central authority, literal personality cult, a state of merged corporate and government power, ideology defined by propaganda, bigoted preference for its own clique and literally damn everyone else to hell. This is an Italian institution, the Roman church, where fascism was born and continues in power, even as a century of only occasionally challenged growth has seen it root everywhere in the world.

    Yes, a Jesuit calling himself Francis aims to unite the Church. Under the corruption it will blame on homosexual scapegoats, sending them to eternal fire while insisting that for women, "work makes you free".

    Fascist Church. Bow down, kiss the ring, but not before you've plunked your gold in its bucket.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Thu Mar 14, 2013 at 05:48:47 AM PDT

  •  Happy Birthday, Albert Einstein! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ybruti, rja, a gilas girl

    Letter from a young lady to Mr. Einstein:

    I forgot to tell you, in my last letter, that I was a girl. I mean I am a girl. I have always regretted this a great deal, but by now I have become more or less resigned to the fact. Anyway, I hate dresses and dances and all the kind of rot girls usually like. I much prefer horses and riding. Long ago, before I wanted to become a scientist, I wanted to b e a jockey and ride horses in races. But that was ages ago, now. I hope you will not think any the less of me for being a girl!
    His response?
    I do not mind that you are a girl, but the main thing is that you yourself do not mind. There is no reason for it.

    “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

    by skohayes on Thu Mar 14, 2013 at 06:11:14 AM PDT

  •  CPAC has started!! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Fun times, starting with Ken Cuccinelli:

    Applause for @KenCuccinelli as he points out he was the first AG to sue the federal gov't over the "notorious" health care law #cpac2013

    “We are not a nation that says ‘don’t ask, don’t tell.’ We are a nation that says ‘out of many, we are one.’” -Barack Obama

    by skohayes on Thu Mar 14, 2013 at 06:13:27 AM PDT

  •  Francisco de Assisi or Francisco Franco? The Pope (0+ / 0-)

    Crossposted from Mercury Rising.

    Bergoglio was a priest until 1989. As such, he had little decision-making power in what happened during the dictatorship (1976-83). However, he was in a senior priestly position, becoming a provincial in 1973, then rector of a seminary in 1980. He only reached a position of real power, that of Bishop in 1992. Even that was not a full bishopric as I understand it (he was an auxiliary bishop and then a titular bishop).

    In 1998, he was bumped up to Archbishop and, three years later, to Cardinal--a position of real power. He therefore does bear culpability for the failure of the Church to confess its crimes in Argentina.

    But now, Democracy Now has done an extended interview (here and here) of one of the journalists who has covered the story, Horacio Verbitzky, and I don't think this story is going to go away. In addition to providing detail on the human rights abuses, Verbitsky says that he believes that Bergoglio has been elevated to do to Latin America what John Paul II did to Eastern Europe: destroy governments that have brought the progressive change that has actually led to a decline in poverty.

    This is a fascinating, panoramic take on the situation. It gets above the disputed (but serious) human rights allegations that may yet end in Bergoglio being forced to resign for the good of the Church and suggests a motive for the selection of a 76-year man with one lung and a dangerously close connection to serious human rights abuses.

    Now, there are alternate explanations. One is that Bergoglio comes from outside the viper's nest of internal Vatican politics, and will clean it up. Or perhaps it's a belated recognition by the Church of the importance of the Americas. Maybe Bergoglio's a compromise candidate, given the cloud of scandal around Angelo Scola.

    This is one thing to look to. How will Bergoglio/Francis deal with the governments of Latin America? So far, he has placed himself in opposition, declaring a Holy War (guerra de Dios) against the law that grants marriage equality to Argentinians. He espouses the primacy of the poor, but doesn't like the State to do anything to alleviate their situation. Is he really emulating Francis of Assisi? Or Francis of Spain (1892-1975), Francisco Franco?  

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