Greek debt

Really liked this Q&A on Greek debt by Kevin Drum. I felt like I had a decent handle on what’s going on here, but this was a really nice and clear explanation of the major issues involved– and why it’s just an absolutely huge mess.

Catholics and birth control

The Post ran this story recently about Catholics and the White House that began thusly:

A contentious battle between Catholic groups and the Obama administration has flared in recent days, fueled by the new health-care law and ongoing divisions over access to abortion and birth control [emphasis mine].

The frustrating thing about the article is that it didn’t really make distinction between the positions of the Catholic hierarchy (i.e., bishops and priests) and the opinions of ordinary Catholics who vote (not that priests and bishops don’t, but politically speaking, its the actions of Catholic voters that matter).  Lay Catholics are not that different from other religious groups on abortion and plenty of them are clearly against legal abortion (according to Pew, Catholics are about evenly split).

Birth control, though, is another matter entirely.  Here, the vast majority of Catholics are against the official Church position opposing all “artificial” contraception.  It was surprisingly hard to find public opinion data on this via google in less than  minutes, but found these two charts via Google Books.  First, all Catholics:




78%!  But that’s not “real” Catholics, you say?  Look below:

Even 68% of weekly Church attending Catholics disagree with official Church teaching on birth control.  Given my four kids, you might be surprised to know I’m in that group as well, 🙂 (and for the record, I saw a family with 9 kids in church this past week– pretty sure that’s the most I’ve ever seen).

Metaphor of the day

New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza on Herman Cain:

Herman Cain has made it, and the result is akin to a dog catching a car.

Lizza goes on to chronicle Cain’s recent amateurish mis-steps that you would not expect from a serious candidate.  For example:

  • Cain believes the President of the United States can sign a federal ban on abortion despite the fact that the Supreme Court has found abortion to be constitutionally protected
  • When asked, “Do you have any fiscal recommendations for Europe?” Cain responded, “No, I do not, honestly.”
Hard to believe Cain won’t come crashing to earth before long.  But for now, it remains a fun ride.


Did Pawlenty quit too soon?

Isaac Chotiner asks, “Did Tim Pawlenty blow it?”  I think the answer is yes.  Sure, he really looked not so good when the spotlight was on, but when you consider the way the Republican electorate is utterly flailing around for an alternative to Romeney, you gotta think that Pawlenty would’ve had another chance had he stuck around.   Let’s not forget that McCain (though admittedly with advantages Pawlenty lacks) looked pretty much dead in the water in the Summer of 2007, but he hung in there to give himself the chance for a comeback.  Chotiner makes a nice blog post pretty similar to random Pawlenty thoughts I’ve been sharing with my class of late:

The conventional wisdom several months ago was that a credible challenger with some establishment backing would rise to take on Romney. Pawlenty auditioned for this role, and floundered. He had a weak debate where he didn’t attack Romneycare head-on, and his campaigning was leaden. After struggling through a few tough fundraising months, he quit the race, endorsed Romney, and is likely to be, say, a HUD Secretary in a Romney administration.

It seems possible, however, that Pawlenty badly miscalculated. If we have learned one thing from this election, it is that every candidate will get his or her time in the sun. Bachmann did. Cain did. Even Gingrich is likely to, as Ed Kilgore explains here. Surely this would have been true of Pawlenty, who is a much more credible alternative to Romney. What’s more, when Pawlenty quit it was not even clear that Perry would be a strong candidate (he has not been). Paul Ryan and Chris Christie were always longshots to enter the race. The scenario we are seeing now was very plausible…

Were he still running, Tim Pawlenty would have a better chance than everyone else (minus Romney and perhaps Perry) of winning. That should have at least been enough to merit staying in.

Chotiner also brings up Pawlenty’s difficulty with fundraising, but I imagine if he had stayed in, there’s a lot of people constitutionally-opposed to Romney who would realize they’d rather be giving their money to Pawlenty than Cain or Perry.   Pawlenty’s seeming shrinking violet personality is not exactly an asset in this election year, but Mitt Romney is not exactly Mr. Red Meat (though he’s certainly pretending to be).  I really do think he’d be seriously in the running right now if he had just stuck with it.  Of course, nobody ever said running for President was fun.  Except maybe Hermann Cain who is doing well in the polls without actually doing all the annoying things most presidential candidates actually do.

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