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Huckabee's Israel Dog Whistle

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I actually like Mike Huckabee, the former governor of Arkansas and presidential candidate. But, the last thing we need in the current crisis in Egypt is a prominent American politician running to Israel and viewing the turmoil in Egypt solely through the lens of its effects on Israel.
Huckabee also took a moment to say something truly dumb about the settlements, arguing that any Israeli should be able to live wherever they want within Israel, as if there was no issue about borders awaiting resolution. I was reminded of something one of my most thoughtful and well informed Jewish friends once said when his son was born: "My boy can grow up to be whatever he wants, except a West Bank settler."

Save the 14th Amendment

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Senators David Vitter and Rand Paul have introduced legislation that would alter the heretofore commonly understood meaning of the 14th Amendment, which guarantees citizenship to anyone born in the United States. They wish to deny such citizenship to the children of undocumented workers. The whole issue is entirely trumped up. There is little in the way of data to show that non-citizens come to America to give birth so that their children can acquire American citizenship. But, why let a little thing like reality get in the way when you are trying to develop a wedge issue, putting a racist policy in constitutional drag, and trying to exploit poor people for political gain.

Egypt & Augustine

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Maybe it is because he was from North Africa, but the unrest in Egypt and Tunisia should bring out the Augustinian in all of us. Sometimes in life, it is not only the spiritual life for which the gate is small and the path narrow. There are dozens of ways disaster could emerge from the streets of Cairo and Tunis but only one, and a difficult to discern one at that, by which a better future can emerge.

Yahoo Watch: Rep. Paul Broun

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Congressman Paul Broun, R-GA, is sticking by a tweet he sent out after the State of the Union. He wrote that the President does not believe in the Constitution, he believes in socialism.
There is nothing new about rightwingers launching the charge of socialism at progressives, Democrats and, you will recall, Dwight Eisenhower. The John Birch Society considered Ike a communist dupe. The charge that someone doesn't "believe" in the Constitution, however, is of more recent vintage. The choice of verb is interesting, no? Does anyone "believe" in the Constitution? Is it a subject of belief? More importantly, what I suspect Mr. Broun means is that the President does not share his interpretation of the Constitution, but that is something different, and such distinctions are not unimportant. I do not share all of President Obama's interpretations of the Constitution, most obviously regarding Roe v. Wade. But, I do not doubt the President's commitment to the Constitution and it is yahoo-like to do so.

Marty Peretz & The New Republic

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Yesterday, the New Republic announced that Marty Peretz is officially stepping down as editor-in-chief, a title he has held since 1974. I never worked for Marty directly, but I am proud to count myself among those whose careers as a writer Marty encouraged. In my case, that encouragement came rather bluntly, as many things that came from Marty's mouth did. When I complained about a particular article in the pages of his magazine he said, "Well, you do not choose to publish your opinions." My first published essay appeared in the pages of the New Republic a short time later.

The Boston Tradition

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Walter Russell Mead has a fascinating essay, and a blessedly concise one too, on the Boston tradition of investing the state with moral import and significance. Mead goes back to the Puritans, through the Abolitionists, and up through the Kennedys in his analysis, showing how each group invested government with the mission of articulating, and furthering, the moral good of society. This essay is a fine rebuke to one of the commentators on my post yesterday about the National Catholic Register's article regarding the children of same sex parents attending Catholic schools. A "John F" expressed faux shock that "New England" should be so unconcerned with morals and truth. Alas, John F has it all wrong.

Phoenix: What if an H.E. Gets Sick?

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Among the things I learned this week, attending the inauguration of John Garvey as President of CUA, was that this year's annual scholarship fundraiser, the "American Cardinals' Dinner," is scheduled for early May in Phoenix. At these events, all the American cardinals come together in a different city for Mass and a $1,000 a plate dinner that raises money for scholarships. They are very festive occasions. I am sure that Phoenix was chosen because the owner of the Arizona Cardinals is a large contributor to the university.
Of course, such decisions are made long in advance, and the officials at CUA could not have known about the controversy that would soon engulf Phoenix because the bishop decided to de-Catholicize St. Joseph's Hospital. They are no longer permitted to reserve the Blessed Sacrament and no Masses can be held at their chapel. So, I have a question. What if one of the cardinals at the CUA dinner takes ill and has to go to the hospital? Can one of the Eminences say Mass at St. Joseph's?

Tea Party Troubles

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Bad week – actually bad month – for the Tea Party. Not so long ago, their members were standing triumphant, having brought down conservatives Senators who were not conservative enough, like Sen. Bob Bennett of Utah, and moderates like Rep. Mike Castle. In Kentucky, Florida, Wisconsin, and Utah, their Senate candidates won the general elections, although in Florida the movement had to split the GOP to do it. They were storming Capitol Hill, intent on shaking things up.

Then came the shooting in Tucson. It was not that the violent rhetoric or imagery had incited the gunman to his acts, as I argued at the time. But, the tragedy showed the nation precisely what a “second amendment remedy” looks like. Sharon Angle did not incite or invite the Tucson killing, but her original statement was crazy on its face, and should have precluded her from serious consideration as a candidate, because violence in politics is ugly, profoundly ugly and the Tucson shooting reminded us all of just how ugly it is. The discussion that followed Tucson left the Tea Party’s favorite Sarah Palin with a black eye as well.

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November 21-December 5, 2014

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