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Newt's Getting Desperate

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When you look to a hack like Zell Miller for help, you're in trouble. Sarah Posner has the story at Religion Dispatches.
Mr. Gingrich: You are better than this. You are a Catholic now and you should consult what the Holy Father has had to say about Islam before jumping into bed with these neo-Crusaders.
I acknowledge the difficulties in Christian relations with Islam. I am aware of the violence that often accompanies the relationship in Africa and Indonesia and elsewhere. I hope that Islam will find, and find fast, some ways of accomodating itself to those parts of modernity that are worthy of accomodation, such as religious tolerance. But, this hate-filled nonsense is profoundly un-Christian.

NY-26 and the End of the Ryan Budget

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Kathy Hochul won big last night in the special election in NY-26. In such a rock-ribbed Republican district, winning by one vote is big, but winning 48 percent to the GOP candidate's 42 percent is very big. Yes, there was a third party candidate, Jack Davis, but it is unclear which party his votes would have gone to had he not been in the race. (Note to GOP strategists: Tea Partyers get Medicare too.) And before the voting began, the GOP tried to deflect blame for a loss by arguing that if Davis was in double digits, there was no way for the GOP to win. Alas, Davis did not get double digits and the GOP candidate still lost. This despite spending gobs of money.
As I mentioned yesterday, Medicare was the issue that drove the race. Medicare is not just an important issue in its own terms, but it is a kind of shorthand for "government we like." Americans love Medicare. So, while Republicans can often appeal to Independent voters by opposing "big government spending" in the abstract, when the issue is made not abstract, and budgets have a way of doing that, voters discover that they actually like government when it does certain things.

The GOP Presidential Field

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The GOP presidential field is beginning to take shape, and it has all the warmth and attraction of a jello-mold. This sad fact tells us nothing about President Obama’s political vulnerability: He is incredibly vulnerable. Like all presidents, Obama’s re-election chances hinge largely on the economy and even as the recovery gains steam, most economists are not predicting the kind of increase in employment in the next year that would turn Obama’s campaign in 2012 into a repeat of Reagan’s 1984 “It’s morning in America” campaign.

Furthermore, Obama does not have until November 2012 to bring down the unemployment rate. People’s sense of the economy has a lag time, as George H.W. Bush found out in 1992. Even though the economy really was rebounding by election day, people’s views of the state of the economy start hardening in February and by the end of March, barring a catastrophe, those views are set. Certainly, filing income taxes is always a cold shower for every family, inviting them to take off any rose-colored glasses when assessing their economic status.

Christian Ethics Meets Peter Singer

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Professor Charles Camosy has a post up at the Catholic Moral Theology blog about a recent meeting at Oxford at which a group of Christian moral theologians dialogued with Peter Singer. There was, it appears, no profound meeting of the minds, but Singer admitted some common ground on issues of global poverty and the like. Such encounters are necessary if we Catholics are to do more than preach to the choir.

Crisis Responds to Academics Who Criticized Boehner

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The newly reborn Crsis Magazine has an article up by Stephen Krason who responds to the letter sent to Speaker John Boehner by more than 80 prominent Catholic academics in advance of his commencement address at Catholic University.
The central theme of Krason's article is that there are many different ways to help the poor, and Boehner and Ryan et al., are simply trying new means to that shared objective. The problem with this is that Boehner and Ryan have not been claiming their policies will help the poor - at least not until Cong. Ryan decided to write a letter to Archbishop Dolan, a letter that was filled with assertions but no facts. Ryan has been having his staff read Ayn Rand who was not known for her commitment to the poor. No, the argument put forth by Boehner and Ryan has been that we face a massive mudget crisis, not so massive that we need to raise taxes on the super-rich, mind you, but big enough to end programs upon which people have come to rely.

Weigel on John Jay Report

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There is much that is unimpeachable in George Weigel's look at the John Jay report published at National Review Online.
Still, a couple of items stand out as more than a little objectionable. The first occurs in the very first paragraph in which Weigel writes of "the revelations that began in the Long Lent of 2002." Alas, Mr. Weigel is not an NCR reader, or he would know that the "revelations" began in the mid-1980s, got a big bump in the early 1990s, and only became a tsunami in 2002. Of course, Weigel was still heaping praises upon serial predator Father Marcial Maciel after 2002, so perhaps he did not fully wake up after the 2002 wake-up call.

Ryan, Medicare & NY-26

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Paul Ryan’s budget proposal is not on the ballot in the special election today in New York’s 26th congressional district. But, it might as well be. This rock-ribbed Republican seat, once held by Cong. Jack Kemp, is in danger of going to the a Democratic candidate. If it does, the Ryan plan will be dead.

Kathy Hochul is the Democratic candidate in NY-26 and she is leading in the latest polls. I still doubt she can win the seat. If the GOP turns out its voters, and all the national attention could result in a higher than usual turnout, their candidate, Jane Corwin should be able to hold. After all, this is a district that voted for George W. Bush in 2004 and John McCain in 2008, even while the rest of the state of New York was handing large victories to John Kerry and Barack Obama. The third party candidate, Jack Davis, who ran previously as a Democrat but has now positioned himself as a Tea Partyer, complicates the scenario to be sure, but it is unclear what effect his candidacy will have.

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