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Bishop Hubbard Calls For Ratification of START Treaty

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On a press call this afternoon, Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany, New York called for the Senate to ratify the START Treaty, which will reduce nuclear arsenals. "Strong and timely ratification of the new treaty will communicate our nation’s moral commitment to continue down a road that reduces the nuclear threat," Bishop Hubbard said. "It will encourage other nations to adhere to their responsibilities under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The new treaty will make our nation and world safer by reducing nuclear weapons in a verifiable way. For the safety of our nation and world, we urge the Senate to take up the New START Treaty without delay." Bishop Hubbard is the Chairman of the USCCB Committee on International Justice and Peace. He also noted that the treaty has been endorsed by both the recent past president of the USCCB, Cardinal Francis George, and the new president of the bishops' conference, Archbishop Timothy Dolan.
Hubbard issued a statement on behalf of the USCCB late last month urging passage. You can read it here.

Prayer Vigil For Dream Act

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Religious leaders will be holding a prayer vigil tonight within the shadow of the U.S. Capitol at Trinity Lutheran Church here in Washington to urge passage of the DREAM Act. Among those in attendance will be Lucina Martinez, a nineteen year old girl from San Antonio who has been on a 27-day hunger strike to urge Congress to pass the DREAM Act.

Of course, what they need to pray for is some courage in the ranks of Republicans who have supported the bill in the past but who are now nervously looking over their should at the prospect of a Tea Party challenger, arguing that they voted for amnesty.

Hey, if someone is brought to this country as a child by their parents, is forced to live in the shadows, and still wants to serve this country in the military or by going to college, they have done more to earn their citizenship than most of us. I wish there was some possibility for an amendment that would strip feckless, cowardly Republicans Senators of their citizenship if they voted for the DREAM Act previously but are running from it now.

Health Care & Federalism

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Politico today discusses the efforts of HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to reach out to governors, many of them Republicans, regarding the implementation of the health care reform law.

It is a measure of how bad Democrats are at messaging that the bill is filled with provisions of a "federalist" nature, that require the states to implement the policies, that leave some measure of discretion to local elected officials.

What was portrayed by Republicans as a "federal government takeover" of health care, with "Uncle Sam himself in the examining room" was actually a bill that actually implemented the kind of federalism Republicans are usually calling for.

But, of course, Democrats forgot to mention it.

Profile In Cowardice: Orrin Hatch

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Sen. Orrin Hatch was once a co-sponsor of the DREAM Act, the bill that would create a pathway to citizienship for those immigrants who were brought here as children by their parents and now wish to attend college or serve in the military but lack proper documentation.

But now, fearing a challenge from his right, Hatch is pulling his support for the bill.

Hatch is no Thomas Hart Benton or Sam Houston, willing to risk his seat in the Senate to do the right thing. His is a profile in cowardice and you can expect a lot of those from the GOP members of Congress up for re-election in 2012.

Shame. Bitter and indelible shame.

Tales From the Goofie Left: Ed Schultz

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Ed Schultz of MSNBC had his shorts in a knot last night. He wanted the President to “fight” and “hang tough” on negotiations with Republicans over the extension of the Bush tax cuts. Schultz may not have noticed that the Senate failed on Saturday to vote for the specific policy proposal he favored. Nor did his angry guest, Sen. Bernie Saunders of Vermont, who also seems not to have noticed last month’s election results.

To be clear. The Republicans are wrong on the merits. They maintain that given the weak economy, it is the wrong time to raise taxes on the wealthy, that the tax increase would adversely affect small businesses that create the most jobs. The fact that the Republicans are essentially lying was proven on the Senate when they rejected a different compromise that would have extended the tax cuts for anyone making less than $1 million per year. If you are a small business and you are earning, net taxable income, $1 million per year, your business may be small but you are way past rich enough to be doing hiring.

California: Outlier or Trend-Setter?

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It has long been said that cultural and political trends start at the coasts and eventually meet in Springfield, Missouri. If so, the Democrats need not despair because New England, with the exception of New Hampshire, and California bucked the GOP trend.

This morning, at The New Republic, Peter Schrag argues that California will increasingly set the model for a more multi-cultural, and specifically Latino-dominated, politics.

From his lips to God's ears.

Tales From the Goofie Left: Kathleen Kennedy Townsend

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The Democratic Party is in danger of being consumed by its own “goofie left” wing and the phenomenon is now too common to ignore. There are different aspects to the phenomenon, some focus specifically one what caused the anti-Dem tsunami last month in the midterms and others simply re-hash old, very old orthodoxies that have long since needed to be retired. Today, let’s look at an example of this last goofie left habit, the re-hash of an old orthodoxy for no good purpose. Exhibit A is Kathleen Kennedy Townsend’s article in yesterday’s Outlook section, “What Palin gets wrong about JFK.”

Townsend seeks to defend her uncle’s famous 1960 speech in front of the Houston Ministerial Association in which he set out his beliefs about the relationship of church and state. Palin, in her new book, criticizes the JFK speech, joining a long line of critics of JFK’s speech including, among others, Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput and me, and he and I do not usually agree on anything, although mine and the archbishop’s grounds for criticism were different from Palin’s.

Palin-palooza Wrap-up

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Our experts split evenly on Sarah Palin's chances at securing the GOP nomination.

Colin McEnroe and Matt Green think she can't survive the gruelling process, albeit for slightly different reasons. Mark Silk and Steve Schneck both think she is an odds-on favorite to win the GOP nod should she run.

I am going to break the tie and side with Silk and Schneck. Here's why.

Matt Green is right to point out that running a campaign organization is a big task, of the kind Palin has never excelled at. But if she has enough cash, there will be plenty of hired-hands to do the work. And Green is wrong to think that a lack of gravitas is an impediment to the GOP nomination.

27 percent of Americans think President Obama is not a Christian. That's enough to win a GOP primary.

Ditto McEnroe's concern that Palin will not pass the "I Can Imagine That" test. Indeed, Palin has already erected an effective narrative to deal with any mistakes: The media is out to get her. I can't imagine that Mitt Romney will hit her hard in debates. He would risk the wrath of the Tea Party, which has the GOP much more scared than the Democrats right now.

Good & Bad Economic News

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The good economic news is that the deficit reduction plan proposed by former Republican Sen. Alan Simpson and former White House chief-of-staff under Bill Clinton, Erskine Bowles failed to garner the 14 votes necessary to send it to Congress.

All three House Republicans voted against the plan, which shows how unserious they are about achieving real deficit reduction. But the plan was flawed, appropriately characterized as policy only Wall Street could love, heavy on middle class cuts and doing nothing to address the growing income inequality that besets America, and does so uniquely.

Other Western industrialized economies have nothing like the income disparities we find in the U.S.

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