Person Relation

The reason Republicans tiptoe so carefully around the birther question is that birthers constitute a significant portion of the Republican base.

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Chameleon

After many feints in this direction dating back to 1996, Newt Gingrich seems to be finally preparing a run for president. Generally, he is not being taken as seriously as potential candidates like Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, and Mike Huckabee—or even D.C. insider heartthrobs such as Haley Barbour, Mitch Daniels, and Chris Christie. I agree with this assessment of Gingrich’s potential, to an extent; he’s the opposite of a fresh new face, and the guy’s baggage rivals Charlie Sheen’s.

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The Grounds of Courage

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy By Eric Metaxas (Thomas Nelson, 591 pp., $29.99) Early in January 1939, the precocious German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, age thirty-two, learned that all males in his age cohort had been ordered to register with the military. A dedicated opponent of the Nazi regime, he might have responded by declaring himself a conscientious objector, but there were two problems with such a course of action.

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In the latest issue of Grant's Interest Rate Observer (not online), the venerable James Grant, with a big assist from his colleague Dan Gertner, makes the case that expectations of a jobless recovery are seriously misplaced, and that the current recovery will end up looking a lot more like the "jobful" recoveries that preceded the 1991 and 2001 recessions/recoveries.

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Product Roll-Out

WASHINGTON--The next health care fight has already started. It's the battle to define the bill that President Obama will eventually sign as a victory for consumers, taxpayers and the common good. You might say this view is premature. Legislation has yet to pass the House or the Senate, there are differences between the two bodies, and some moderates still have doubts. But barring astoundingly self-defeating behavior by Democrats, a decent bill will get to Obama's desk.

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Seeing and Believing

Are representations of the Prophet Muhammad permitted in Islam? To make or not to make images of the Prophet: that is the question I will try to answer. It is an unexpectedly burning question, as the newspapers regularly demonstrate. But both the answer to the question and the reasons for raising it require a broader introduction. There have been many times in recent years when one bemoaned the explosion of media that have provided public forums for so much incompetence and ignorance, not to speak of prejudice. Matters became worse after September 11, for two additional reasons.

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The Race Man

Up from History: The Life of Booker T. Washington By Robert J. Norrell (Harvard University Press, 508 pp., $35)   I. Once the most famous and influential African American in the United States (and probably the world), Booker T. Washington has earned at best mixed reviews in the decades since his death in 1915. Black intellectuals and political activists, from W. E. B.

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Speaking beneath the twinkling crystal chandeliers of the Capitol Hilton ballroom this morning, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) president Karen Ignagni declared that the insurance industry is still on board with the Democratic health care reform effort, pushing back against the presumption that the two sides have declared war. “Our community was one of the first to position ourselves very actively to a massive overhaul of the insurance market,” Ignagni told the audience members, who were attending the organization’s conference on state insurance issues.

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Short Cuts

Robert Altman: The Oral Biography By Mitchell Zuckoff (Knopf, 592 pp., $35) Here is your exam question: who is the last American movie director who made thirty-nine films but never won the Oscar for best director? Name the film by that director that cost the most money, and name the film of his that earned the most. Clue: The Departed, which must have been around Martin Scorsese’s thirtieth picture, and did win the directing Oscar, cost $90 million (four times as much as any of this man’s films cost)--so don’t go that way.

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Newt Gone Wild

Via Alex Massie, I notice that New Gingrich is saying really, really crazy things (again!). Basking in the warm embrace of the National Review staff that interviewed him, the former speaker sounds positively deranged.

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