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NY-26 & Paul Ryan

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Congressman Paul Ryan is from Wisconsin, so his name is not on the ballot in next week's special election in New York's 26th congressional district. (This is the seat vacated by the married congressman, whose name we have all forgotten, who got caught shirtless in a photo on a dating website.) But, Ryan's proposals to gut Medicare are all over the airwaves, as Jonathan Chait points out over at TNR.
Most alarming? The GOP is running an ad claiming that the "Democrats want to cut Medicare." I suppose "cut" is not exactly what the GOP, following Ryan, wants to do to Medicare. They want to gut it, not cut it.

Gingrich's Account at Tiffany's

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Below, I commented on what I perceive to be a lack of self-discipline in former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. I was referring to his manner of speaking. Well, according to Politico, sometimes Gingrich listened once too many times to the ad and he "said it with diamonds." Politico reports that he and his wife had an outstanding debt of close to half a million dollars at Tiffany's. I suppose this nixes any chance he had at going for the Bubba vote on the basis of shared cultural affinities.

Medicaid Cuts & Subsidiarity

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[Note to readers: I apologize for the delay. I always try to post by initial blog entry by 9 a.m. but we lost power at my home this morning and it only came back on at 9 a.m.]
Much of the criticism of Congressman Paul Ryan’s budget proposals has focused on his plan to convert Medicare from a guaranteed benefit program to a privatized, voucher system. I agree with the criticism but also wish the critics would go further, point out that Medicare actually is “socialized medicine,” argue forcefully that there are certain things, such as the human dignity of the aged, that should not be left to the vagaries of the market, and make the always salient point that abstract economic theories should not trump immediate human needs in the allocation of societal and government resources.

Mater et Magistra Conference

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This week, the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace is holding a conference in Rome on Blessed Pope John XXIII's encyclical "Mater et Magistra" and what it means today in an era of globalization. It is good to remember that that encyclical was the occasion for the first instance of notabel public dissent from Church teaching by a prominent layman, when William Buckley's National Review ran an article entitled "Mater, Si, Magistra, No."

Nate Silver on Who Benefits from Huckabee's Decision

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Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who was the last man standing in opposition to Sen. John McCain in teh quest for the 2008 GOP presidential nod, has decided not to run this time around.
Nate Silver, at the New York Times, analyzes who benefist from Huckabee's decision.
For all of my many reservations about the Cartesian cogito and its progeny, Silver makes metrics fun. I do not see Cain as the principal beneficiary of Huckabee's decision, as Silver does. I suspect Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann are the big winners. Huckabee built his 2008 campaign, which was woefully underfunded, on a network of home schooling Christians. They saw the Gov., who is also a Rev., as a champion. But, given that most of the individuals who actually do the home schooling are evangelical women, I suspect in Palin and Bachmann they discern more than a champion. They see someone like themselves, and that always pays big electoral dividends.

The Other Scandal

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The arrest of IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn for allegedly raping a maid at a New York hotel is horrifying. Rape is always horrifying. What is more, the scandal has called attention anew to an earlier sexual scandal in which Strauss-Kahn had a tryst and was publicly forgiven by his wife. That scandal was tawdry to be sure, but there was no suggestion of forcible rape.
But, there is another scandal that caught my eye. Strauss-Kahn and his reconciled wife were recently seen getting out of a $150,000 Porsche in Paris. In addition, they have two swanky apartments in Paris, a home in Washington and a vacation place in Marrakesh. The irony is that Strauss-Kahn was widely expected to be a leading candidate for the presidency, nominated by the Socialist Party of France. Nothing like a $150,000 car to warm the hearts of a party dedicated to the needs of the working classes. Yeesh.

The Worst Argument For Withdrawal From Afghanistan

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The killing of Osama bin Laden has caused many people, already skeptical of America’s continued military engagement in Afghanistan, to start beating the drums for an accelerated withdrawal of U.S. troops from that country. After all, now that we have the man behind the attacks of 9/11, and reports indicate that there are only 100 or so Al-Qaeda terrorists left in Afghanistan, what are we doing there?

Christian Groups Air Ad in Ryan's District

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Several Christian organizations have banded together to fund a radio ad running in Cong. Paul Ryan's district. They do not only challenge the Ryan budget from the standpoint of traditional social justice: They point out that it is distinctly anti-life.
"The Catholic Church has always been clear on the sanctity of life at all stages. As a pro-life Catholic, Congressman Paul Ryan ought to know this," Father Thomas Kelly says in the ad. Father Kelly is a resident of Elkhorn, Wisconsin, in Rep. Ryan’s district. "But the budget he authored and Republicans in Congress recently passed abandons those pro-life principles by depriving vulnerable children, seniors and families of healthcare and economic support they need to put food on the table during hard times. When it comes to being pro-life, actions speak louder than words."
Bravo!

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March 27-April 9, 2015

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