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Nazis, Race and Political Speech

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Two very different politicians got into some hot water this week for being the first two, post-Tucson, to say something that strikes others as outrageous.
Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee said that the Republican lies about the health care law followed the same pattern of propaganda used by Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister.
Then, former Senator and likely president candidate Rick Santorum said that he was surprised President Obama was pro-choice because, as a black man, he should be able to understand that if the Constitution or the courts interpreting the Constitution deny personhood to persons, the Constitution is wrong or the courts are wrong.
Cohen - and all politicians - should know by now to cut with the Nazi analogies. The evil of the Nazi regime was so grotesque, its lies so intertwined with the evil produced by the regime, that comparisons are always wrong-headed and offensive. When you bring up the Nazis, you have just lost your argument. Except, of course, when talking about neo-Nazis, and there are some of those.

Weep Not for Borders

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The Washington Post has a front page article this morning about the financial difficulties faced by the megabookstore chain Borders. They have evidently been unable to keep up with Kindles and Amazon.

The one tear to be shed is for the fact that Borders' impending doom will further constrict the market. Of course, this invites the old adage, what goes around, comes around. Borders and Barnes & Noble put hundreds of small, independent bookstores out of business in the past 20 years. In the process, they also radically distorted the publishing industry. The practice of highlighting certain books and leaving the rest as window dressing has resulted in the fact that publishers must hoard their cash to give the likes of Sarah Palin and Bill Clinton, Snooki and Donald Trump huge advances while people who write serious books are reduced to coolie wages.

A Victory Against Bigotry & For Women

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Yesterday, the Maryland Health Care Commission voted unanimously to approve a plan for Holy Cross Hospital to build a new facility in upper Montgomery County. As mentioned yesterday, several groups such as the National organization for Women opposed the Holy Cross proposal because Catholic hospitals do not perform abortions and other services that do not fit within the directives of the Catholic Church for hospitals that operate in its name.
A spokeswoman for Holy Cross pointed out that the largest access issue for women in the county is not abortion, but prenatal and primary care services for women and that Holy Cross is already the largest provider of such services in the county. So, NOW was more concerned about the few women who might want an abortion than they were about the many women who need good prenatal services. That kind of thinking is skewed.

Remembering Reagan

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Yesterday marked not only the 50th anniversary of the inauguration of John Fitzgerald Kennedy but the 30th anniversary of the inauguration of Ronald Reagan. And, because this year marks Reagan’s centenary, I suspect focus on the Gipper’s presidency will continue for some time. You would think this would be good news for the GOP, reminding Americans of a happier time when Reagan was in charge, the way Democrats played FDR’s theme song, “Happy Days Are Here Again” at every convention, recalling the heady days of their hero.

Actually, the Reagan centenary is not a good thing for today’s GOP because Reagan could not be more different from the temper and tone of today’s Tea Party-led GOP. Reagan, like Kennedy, oozed optimism and enthusiasm and confidence. Today’s Tea Party seems built more on resentment and anti-elitist tropes of the kind we associate with Dayton, Tennessee or Father Coughlin or the John Birch Society. Reagan said, “It’s morning in America.” Glenn Beck wants to “take America back,” a claim that assumes it has been improperly taken.

Michael Novak's Latest

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There is theology. And there is economics. And then there is what Michael Novak does. It lacks the intellectual rigor we associate with the term theology. And, it seems strangely unrelated to anything we have learned about economics in the past few years. What is it? It is a craven apologia for capitalism that borders on idolatry.

Bp Tobin \"Unimpressed\" With Obama's Tucson Speech

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Bishop Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island, has penned a column in his diocesan paper in which he writes why he was "unimpressed" with President Obama's speech in Tucson at the memorial service for those killed in the assassination attempt on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
He writes, "The problem, at least for me, is that President Obama’s persistent and willful promotion of abortion renders his compassionate gestures and soaring rhetoric completely disingenuous....And, I confess, abortion policy is the prism through which I view everything this president says and does."
The adjective "disingenuous" means "insincere" and Tobin's use of that adjective shows why he and his like-minded bishops have failed to evangelize the culture with the Gospel of Life. Instead of asking the complicated question of why liberals, so historically attuned to speak for those who have no voice, saw no need to raise their voice - and their votes - on behalf of the unborn, he simply casts an aspersion at the President's motives. Obama is not wrong, he is insincere, the bishop tells us.

GOP House Dog Whistling

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The House voted yesterday to repeal the health care reform law passed last year. The headline said so, but I wonder why it was a headline at all. After all, there is no immediate consequence to the vote, nor any prospect of a consequence. This was Kabuki, not governance.
The purpose of the vote was exclusively PR and, in that case, I suppose it worked. It is easier to give a dog whistle on the right than on the left because of Rupert Murdoch who has created a vast echo chamber where news stories that don't matter nonetheless have legs. But, there is a danger in holding out the prospect of repealing health care - or any other prospect, for that matter. At some point, people want to see some achievements, not just Kabuki. The more rabid in the GOP base will not want to move on to something other than repealing "Obamacare," and they will get frustrated and eventually turn on their GOP dance partners. How long will it take before charges of betrayal? (Answer: within five seconds of the vote to extend the debt limit!)
That is the problem with echo chambers. You only hear yourself.

Joe-Mentum No More

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Sen. Joe Lieberman announced his intention today not to run for re-election in 2012. In the event, there was no clear path, or unclear path for that matter, to a victory for the four-term senator. He burned almost every bridge to the Democratic Party in 2006 when he lost the Democratic Primary and ran as an independent. The few remaining bridges to the Democrats were burned when he endorsed John McCain for the presidency in 2008 and spoke to the Republican National Convention on McCain's behalf. Look for Democratic Congressman Chris Murphy to be the next senator from the Constitution State.

Abortion Nightmare in Philadelphia

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The AP is reporting on the arrest of a Philadelphia abortion doctor who is charged with eight counts of murder. The man is charged in the death of a woman and seven children who were born alive, only to be killed when the doctor plunged a pair of scissors into the back of their necks to sever their spinal cords.
The report is gruesome. But, then again, abortion is gruesome. And, before the enactment of the Partial Birth Abortion ban in 2003, what the doctor did to the children would have been legal if the children had been left partially in the womb.
Sadly, it will be as predictable as day following night that pro-choice groups that opposed the ban on partial birth abortion will be denouncing this doctor, even though what he did was little different from what they fought to defend.
How pathetic that it takes a horrific story like this to demonstrate the horror of abortion itself.

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