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Remembering the Lira

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NPR’s “Morning Edition” had a great segment today on the Euro and efforts to unite Europe more generally. It noted that national traditions persist, but that the economies that use the Euro are now so intertwined, there is no going back. The issues engaged are profound and, as is typical of NPR, well considered in the segment.

But, my memory registered a less profound complaint against the Euro. It used to be so much fun buying things in Italy because the Lira was denominated in such a crazy way. Roasted lamb at a restaurant was 45,000 Lire. A new leather jacket was 2 million Lire. The difficulty in figuring out how to translate the price was hugely and happily off-set by the thrill of ordering something that cost 2 million of anything.

Q & A: Tony Yang

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This week, we have been discussing the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. Today, we hear from Tony Yang, a lecturer at the University of California at Riverside.
The question: What is the bestreason to vote to confirm, or not to confirm, Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court?
Tony Yang:
As I was working out at the University of California, Riverside’s Student Recreation Center, a large crowd of students, thirty or so, gathered around the television at 6 o’clock on a Thursday evening. Everyone waited with breathless anticipation as “The Decision” was announced, and LeBron James shook the basketball world by announcing his intention to join the Miami Heat. While I too was engrossed in the drama of the NBA off-season, I felt a twinge of conscience.

Libs: Take 'Yes\" For an Answer

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Almost since the end of the Inaugural Parade, liberals have been carping that the Obama Administration was not doing enough, not pushing through sufficiently progressive policies, not enacting the “change” these same liberals thought they were voting for.

Yesterday, the Congress passed an overhaul of the financial sector that can only be considered historic. Obama has already signed health care reform into law, a goal that has eluded previous Democratic presidents, and one Republican, Richard Nixon, for more than fifty years. He enacted a stimulus bill that not only saved millions of jobs, it played a key role in stopping the free-fall the economy was in last year, showing that the government would do what it takes to confront the crisis. There is still hope that this year the President will sign climate change legislation and immigration reform. What more do liberals want?

Pro-Life Mendacity

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This week, several Catholic and pro-life groups and websites raised the specter that the Obama Administration was providing federal funding of abortion through the newly setup “high-risk pool” in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. These high risk pools are one of the first parts of the health care reform law to be implemented. The critics charged that Pennsylvania law allows abortion-on-demand and that the new high risk pools would adhere to Pennsylvania law. This, they concluded, showed that Obama’s Executive Order, explicitly stating that the Hyde Amendment ban on federal funding of abortion would apply to the new health care reform programs, was a sham as they said it was all along. No matter the solemn pledge the President made at the time, his bureaucrats were sneaking in abortion funding through the back door.

Blast From the Past: Jerry Falwell

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In the debate about the Tea Party and the need for the grown-ups in the Republican Party to rein them in, or at least to denounce some of the more radical claims made by the group, I came across this interview with Jerry Falwell in Our Sunday Visitor. The interview was published on December 13, 1981. In some circles, Falwell’s name was synonymous with rightwing propaganda, but he was an enormously complicated figure and he was not afraid to call out those who generally agreed with him when they strayed out of bounds.

t"Visitor: You are often labeled as part of the radical right. Yet, in their book Prime Time Preachers, Jeffrey Hadden and Charles Swann said that you and other TV preachers could play an important role in ‘defining the limits of lunacy on the right.’ Is that a role you see for yourself?"

Yahoo Watch: The American Thinker

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Bigotry is back in a big way. The definition of bigotry is “uninformed prejudice” and an article at The American Thinker by Selwyn Duke meets both criteria amply. Take these sentences: “Eighty-five percent of our legal immigrants now hail from the third world and Asia, from non-Western cultures. And many immigrants, such as Islamists, cling to and advance beliefs that are incompatible with -- and destructive to -- our culture. The problem with this is that it isn't geography that makes a nation, but people. Replace Americans with Mexicans or Muslims and you no longer have America -- you have Mexico North or Iran West. Thus, if you believe Western culture is an evil force and aim to destroy it, our current immigration scheme perfectly suits your agenda.” Excuse me, but since when is Mexico not a part of “Western culture”? Its Catholic and Hispanic ethos is undeniable, yes? This is nativism pure and simple.

Graviora Delicta

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“Crime” is both a technical term and a non-technical term. For example, it remains to be seen if there was any technically criminal activity on Wall Street that led to the collapse of the economy, but the greed, the ponzi-like schemes, the betting against one’s customers, all that was certainly a crime.

The Vatican’s new directives revising a 2001 motu proprio designed to give the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith explicit jurisdiction over cases involving the sexual abuse of minors are to be welcomed. They extend some of the provisions devised by the U.S. bishops to the universal Church. They may not go far enough, as many victims’ rights activists argue, but they are undeniably a step in the right direction.

Q & A: E. J. Dionne

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This week, we are asking a variety of experts about the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. We have already heard from Ben Wittes of the Brookings Institute, Rick Garnett from Notre Dame Law School, and Mark Silk from Trinity College. Today, we hear from Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne.
The question: What is the best reason to vote to confirm, or to not confirm, Elena Kagan?
E. J. Dionne:
I've been an Elena Kagan fan for a long time, as I have noted in my column and on the Washington Post's blog. But she gave me a new reason to like her during her Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. It was both important and useful that she rejected Chief Justice John Roberts's notion that judges are mere "umpires."

Are They Racists?

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The NAACP passed a resolution calling out the racism it has witnessed in the Tea Party movement. The Tea Party spokespeople, and their champions such as Sarah Palin, have denied the charge. They note that their organization is about “individual rights” and so it could not be capable of racism, which is something of a non sequitur, but one does not turn to the Tea Party crowd in search of intellectual precision.

So, are they racists? I only attended one Tea Party rally, on the steps of the Capitol the day of the final House vote on health care. I saw several posters that portrayed the President as a witch doctor, which struck me as a portrayal that would have been unlikely if the President was lily white and named Smith. There were some posters challenging the President’s birth certificate, and therefore his legitimacy, a question I do not recall being raised for any of the 43 presidents who preceded Mr. Obama in office. I have no reason to think that everyone was a racist, or even most, but I saw no effort by anyone to challenge those whose signs had these racist overtones.

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