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Stalin & D-Day

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There is great controversy surrounding the placement of a bust of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia. Those who oppose the tribute note Stalin’s atrocities while those who defend it note the critical role the Soviet Union played in the war and, indeed, in the success of D-Day.

Had there been no Eastern Front, the prospects for a successful D-Day invasion would have been grim indeed. Of course, Stalin did not choose to have an Eastern Front – Hitler did! Still, once the Soviets were in the war, there was no question in the minds of either Winston Churchill or Franklin Roosevelt that the Western democracies must aid the Soviet effort to the hilt. There should be a way to honor the Soviet contribution to the war effort without memorializing one of the last century’s great mass murderers.

Wikileaks 1; Obama 0

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It is to be expected that the Obama administration would be upset about the disclosure of thousands of documents pertaining to the war in Afghanistan on the website Wikileaks, which is dedicated to combating excessive government secrecy. Governments like to control access to sensitive information, especially in a war where information is not just power as it always it, but the ability to manage information can sometimes permit one the element of surprise. “In wartime, truth is so precious she must always be attended by a bodyguard of lies,” said Churchill in explaining the efforts to deceive the Germans about where the blow of D-Day would fall.

Blast From the Past: Rahm Emanuel

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This week, I overheard someone on MSNBC – I couldn’t be sure who as I was in the other room cooking, but it was a liberal, maybe someone from the Nation – question whether or not Obama’s was a “failed presidency.” Eric Alterman, who has made a career out of questioning the liberal credentials of those who do not share all of his views, has been mouthing off similar nonsense. This, mind you, in the same week that the President signed a sweeping financial reform bill to serve as a bookend with his health care overhaul. The other day, a commenter heaped scorn on my reference to the Upper West Side ethos, but it exists and, yes, Alterman lives there and is one of its principle advocates. This phenomenon of liberal disappointment with Obama recalled a passage in Joanthan Alter’s “The Promise” in which Rahm Emanuel displays his disgust for those liberals who do not understand that some of their moderate colleagues do not share their views.

Funeral rites

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Tomorrow, there will be a Mass of Christian Burial for my Uncle Frank. I do not wish to write about him: You did not know him and I always find it a strange thing when a writer introduces his readership to someone whose life was private. But, I do wish to write about the funeral.

A priest once told me something very wise. He said, “The Church is really her best at a funeral.” It is not only that the Church has inspiring and comforting readings and prayers to help the grieving, although that is part of it. It is not only that the funeral service gives friends and family a chance to come together and support one another, to share memories of the beloved who has died, to reflect on the many ways the departed’s life has influenced the lives of the mourners. These things are all well and good, but they are not distinctly Catholic.

Charlie Rangel Should Go

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After news broke that a full panel of the House Ethics Committee was going to proceed with an investigation into charges against him, Congressman Charlie Rangel of New York was interviewed by the press in a corridor of the Capitol Building. One of the reporters, Luke Russert, son of the late, beloved Tim Russert, asked Rangel if he feared losing his job. Rangel asked what news outfit the reporter represented and then waved the question away as “dumb.”

Blast From the Past: Adlai Stevenson

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The Republican Party’s obstructionism on unemployment benefits, which ultimately failed, and on climate change legislation, which ultimately succeeded, brought to mind a funny passage from Adlai Stevenson’s address to the 1952 Democratic National Convention, welcoming the delegates to Chicago, an address that launched him into the nomination by the end of the week. He began by recalling the Republican convention which had been held in the same hall a few weeks prior.

“For almost a week, pompous phrases marched over this landscape in search of an idea, and the only idea they found was that the two great decades of progress in peace, and of victory in war, and of bold leadership in this anxious hour, were the misbegotten spawn of bungling, of corruption, of socialism, of mismanagement, of waste and of worse….After listening to this everlasting procession of epithets about our misdeeds I was even surprised the next morning when the mail was delivered on time. I guess our Republican friends were out of patience, out of sorts, and need I add, out of office.”

Bad News for the Environment

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Sen. Harry Reid has pulled the Climate Change bill, recognizing that he does not have the necessary 60 votes to move forward. This is a shame first and foremost because, as Pope Benedict made clear in his passionate New Year’s address, caring for the environment is a profound and urgent moral obligation. It is also a shame because a straight up-or-down vote would have exposed GOP obstructionism yet again.

It has been a bad year for the environment. First the oil spill in the Gulf and now this.

Yahoo Watch: Dove World Outreach Church

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The inappropriately named Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, a non-denominational church, has a sign in front of its church that reads, “Islam is of the devil.” The church has announced plans to have an “International Burn A Quran Day” scheduled for September 11. The church also had a sign that read “No Homo Mayor” when an openly gay man announced his candidacy.

Funny, I thought that the dove was a sign of peace and that outreach required at least a modicum of respect for one’s fellow human beings.

The Small Business Job Creation Myth

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Fran Tarkenton, the legendary quarterback, is not a baby. Nor is he an expert, so I am unsure why he was a guest last night on the Sean Hannity show. But, out of his mouth came something that spoke the unintended truth. I cannot find a transcript online, but essentially Tarkenton said that while small businesses will create millions of new jobs each year, mature, large businesses lose jobs every year.

Everyone, Democrat and Republican alike, worships at the small business altar, but Tarkenton unintentionally gave away a dirty secret: One of the reasons new small businesses create such an inordinate amount of new jobs is that small business open, then fail, and then start anew all the time. Every new start entails “new” hiring. So, the next time you hear someone blab on about job creation and small businesses, ask them about job loss and small businesses. Somehow, that never makes the news.

I have nothing against small businesses and I ran one for 17 years. But they are not the be-all and end-all of our economic woes.

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July 18-31, 2014

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