Bishop Barber to meet with Pope Francis

Remember his speech at the DNC? His leadership of North Carolina’s Moral Mondays?
This is good news:

In an exclusive interview, Bishop Dr. William J. Barber II, currently president of Repairers of the Breach, a nonpartisan, nonprofit social advocacy group, has confirmed that he and a delegation of “moral, workers rights, anti-poverty and ecological justice advocates” will be meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Thanksgiving Day.

Dr. Barber gave his permission Sunday for the news of his Vatican visit to be released now. He received the invitation from the Vatican last September, along with invitations to visit England and Africa to join other labor and workers’ rights advocates.

“[The Pope] wants to bless this movement, and meet with other activists from around the world who are fighting against poverty,” Barber said then, indicating that he would give his permission for it to be revealed in November.

Dr. Barber, who officially stepped down in October after 12 years as president of the N.C. NAACP, will be part of a two-day conference attended by social justice advocates from countries like Canada, Senegal, Italy, Ireland, Tunisia, Ghana, Brazil, and the United States, among others.

It’s no doubt that Dr. Barber’s involvement in the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1968 Poor People’s Campaign caught the attention of not only national, but international social justice leadership, like Pope Francis, who is world renowned for his personal and official advocacy for the poor.

Just last Sunday in St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City, Pope Francis, the leader of the Catholic Church, celebrated a special Mass for poor people on the first World Day of the Poor, eating with 1,500 from Italy, Poland and France.

The pope also denounced those who express indifference to the plight of the poor, calling such behavior “a great sin.”

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The deficit game

Bruce Bartlett

Bruce Bartlett, former Reagan and Bush I economic adviser:

I think many Democrats and independent political observers are puzzled by the intensity with which Republicans are pursuing their tax cut. It’s not politically popular and may well lead to the party’s defeat in next year’s congressional elections. So why do it?

The answer is that Republicans are pushing the tax cut at breakneck speed precisely because they know they are probably going to lose next year and in 2020 as well. The tax cut, once enacted, however, will bind the hands of Democrats for years to come, forcing them to essentially follow a Republican agenda of deficit reduction and prevent any action on a positive Democratic program. The result will be a steady erosion of support for Democrats that will put Republicans back in power within a few election cycles.

The theory was laid out almost 30 years ago by two Swedish economists, Torsten Persson and Lars EO Svensson. In a densely written article for the Quarterly Journal of Economics in 1989, they explained why a stubborn conservative legislator would intentionally run a big budget deficit.

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It has to do with what economists call time inconsistency – the consequences of actions taken today may not appear until the future, when a different political party will be in power. Thus the credit or blame will accrue to that party rather than the one that implemented the policy, because voters tend to attribute whatever is happening today to the party in power today even if that party had nothing to do with it.

Thus Barack Obama got blamed for a recession and resulting budget deficits he had nothing to do with originating. No matter how many times the Congressional Budget Office showed that the vast bulk of the budget deficits in his administration were baked in the cake the day he took office, Republicans nevertheless blamed him and his policies exclusively for those deficits.

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Another allegation: Woman says Al Franken grabbed her butt

If we got rid of every member of Congress who grabs women, we won’t have any left. I don’t know how he recovers from this allegation, especially since he was already a senator when it happened:

A woman says Sen. Al Franken inappropriately touched her in 2010, telling CNN that he grabbed her buttocks while taking a photo at the Minnesota State Fair.

It is the first allegation of improper touching by Franken, who is a Democrat, while he was in office. It comes just days after Leeann Tweeden, a local radio news anchor in California, said that Franken forcibly kissed and groped her in 2006, when Franken was a comedian.
Franken has since issued an apology to Tweeden and faces a potential investigation by the Senate Ethics Committee.

Lindsay Menz, a 33-year-old woman who now lives in Frisco, Texas, reached out to CNN on Thursday hours after Tweeden made her story public. Menz said she wanted to share an “uncomfortable” interaction that left her feeling “gross.”

According to Menz, she attended the Minnesota State Fair with her husband and father in the summer of 2010, almost two years after Franken was elected to the Senate. Her father’s small business was sponsoring a local radio booth, and she spent the day meeting various elected officials, political candidates and celebrities and taking photos with them as they stopped by the booth.

When Franken walked in, Menz and her husband, who also spoke with CNN, said they recognized him right away. Menz said she had a brief and cordial exchange with the senator.
Then, as her husband held up her phone and got ready to snap a photo of the two of them, Franken “pulled me in really close, like awkward close, and as my husband took the picture, he put his hand full-fledged on my rear,” Menz said. “It was wrapped tightly around my butt cheek.”

“It wasn’t around my waist. It wasn’t around my hip or side. It was definitely on my butt,” she said, recalling that the brazen act lasted three or four seconds. “I was like, oh my God, what’s happening.”

“He reached around her and kind of pulled her into him,” said her husband Jeremy Menz, who didn’t see what happened behind his wife. “He pulled her in and pushed his head against her head. It was over pretty quick.”

Lindsay Menz told CNN that she walked away as soon as the photo was taken, without saying anything to the then-first term senator. When she reconnected with her husband moments later, she told him: “He totally grabbed my butt.” Jeremy Menz described that conversation the same way to CNN.

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