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Counting Bishops

Last week I linked to a Deal Hudson article on Inside Catholic where he threw out the claim that 61 bishops had thus far issued “clarifications” of Faithful Citizenship in which they emphasized the preeminance of the abortion issue in this upcoming election. 

Michael Iafrate of Vox Nova responded with a post entitled “Misleading numbers, misleading claims” in which he remarked with characteristic restraint:

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Catholics Continue Trending Toward McCain

The latest poll* that came out today, the Fox News Poll, show’s that Catholics are still trending away from Senator Obama and towards Senator McCain.  The poll today show’s whiteCatholics are now evenly split, 46-46%, between Senator Obama and Senator McCain.  Previously in the Fox News Poll it showed Senator Obama with an 11 point lead among white Catholic voters over Senator McCain (emphasis mine).

The race has tightened in part because of changes in a couple of important swing voting groups. Independents back Obama by 5 percentage points today, down from a 9-point edge last week. Similarly, among white Catholics, Obama held an 11-point edge over McCain last week and today they split 46-46.

 

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On These Slippery Slopes

We seem to be teetering on the edge, and there is fear that a President Obama will push us over into the long descent into the night. Those of us who value life and cling (bitterly or not) to our religion are, if not terrified, at least horrified at what Obama intends to do in office. Pass the Freedom of Choice Act, an attempt to legitimize abortion across the board. Make a national health insurance fund that is more appropriately labeled as health care. Raise taxes on the rich and give tax credits and refunds to the poor (definitions of “rich” and “poor” still pending) in order to “spread the wealth around.” Focus on Afghanistan to the detriment of Iraq and, in general, the War on Terror.

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Weary of Wonkery

Whether the next four years are spend under an Obama administration or a McCain administration, one thing that may be said with certainty is that conservatives are going to have to do some serious thinking over that time in order to come up with an agenda that can bring conservatives back into political success — and bring the GOP back into something like conservatism. Either administration will be enough to make principled conservatives cringe — though I think that an Obama one would visit greater damage upon the country.

There are lots of contenders out there wanting present the new conservative policies that will bring the GOP back to relevance. Ross Douthat is very much at the forefront of that, with his Grand New Party out in bookstores.

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Cocaine, Cardinal Ocampo, and the Drug Wars

Drug Lord Eduardo Arellano Felix in Mexican Police Custody

Drug Lord Eduardo Arellano Felix in Mexican Police Custody

The drug problem in the United States, specifically cocaine, is very severe.  The U.S. is the number one user of this drug in the entire world.  Hollywood continues to glamorize the drug and the American public has an insatiable desire for it.  Greed and gluttony play prominent roles in creating this epidemic.  Many Americans seeking shortcuts to attaining the American dream sell drugs that feeds this gluttonous appetite for cocaine.  Unfortunately there are serious side effects that aren’t as widely publicized.

 

What are often overlooked are the victims of this drug trade.  Not necessarily those that are addicted to the drug simply because they chose to do so, but the innocent victims that are caught up in the drug trade.  Especially those that stand up to drug traffickers like that of the Archbishop of Guadalajara, Mexico, Cardinal Juan Jesus Posadas Ocampo.

 

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Data on the Effect of Legal Restrictions on Abortions

Some time ago I wrote a post in which I tackled the claim that Democratic administrations are better at reducing abortion than Republican ones because they reduce poverty more. I had hoped I’d have a chance to do a second round looking specifically at the unexpected pregnancy rate and abortion rate for women in poverty. (A large percentage of the women who have abortions live at less than 200% of the poverty line — but that same demographic group also has a much higher unexpected pregnancy rate than other women.) However, things have been very busy at work lately and there’s a limit to how much statistical analysis a fellow can do in a day before he needs a tall drink and a good book — not to mention some time with the offspring. So it’ll have to wait till after the holiday retail season.

However, someone rather more qualified than I is on the case. Michael J. New of the University of Alabama has an article at The Public Discourse in which he looks at the data supporting the claim (which, surprisingly, has become controversial in some quarters) that anti-abortion regulations reduce the number of abortions. Some highlights are as follows:

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Did the U.S. Commit "Terrorism" in Syria?

Michael Iafrate of Vox Nova condemns the United States for a brutal act of “terrorism” in conducting a strike into Syria against an al Qaeda facilitator.

In typical fashion, Michael likewise insinuates that Sarah Palin approves abortion bombings and alleges that, by virtue of the fact that nobody at American Catholic has yet commented on the story, we are quite obviously racist:

Of course the “pro-life” Cathollic barfosphere, so vocal in the “defense of human life,” remains utterly silent in the face of the Bush administration’s ongoing acts of terrorism. Of course, these weren’t cute white babies who were slaughtered, were they? That explains it.

Michael’s penchant for profanity, libel and general elementary school antics does nothing to enamor readers of his position or the Catholic blog he represents. Yet I think he deserves a response (however meager) …

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Being Reasonable Doesn't Always Work

I’m sure everyone’s response to the title of this post is a variation, more or less, of “well, duh!”. But remember who it’s coming from: the guy who is always insisting on the importance of moderate rhetoric, reasonable discourse, etc.

I just want to be clear that I recognize that sometimes, it’s all for nought.

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Political Intimidation and Persecution

The recent personal attacks and invasive investigation of Joe the Plumbers personal life is a scary thing.  Joe the plumber represents the everyday American, striving to better his lot in society.  By sheer coincidence Joe the Plumber was able to ask an innocent question to the Democratic candidate for president that seemed to put Senator Obama on the spot.  Then all hell broke loose.

I can understand if the far left goes far in their vitriol when their candidate was put in an unsavory position, but when the mainstream media began to jump all over Joe the Plumber I actually got a bit concerned.  I’m all for the vetting of candidates and hard-nose journalism, but the vitriol and aggressive journalism being exerted upon the McCain campaign and their supporters is practically non-existent on the Obama camp.

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Is Obama a Socialist? You be the Judge.

“If you look at the victories and failures of the civil rights movement and its litigation strategy in the court. I think where it succeeded was to invest formal rights in previously dispossessed people, so that now I would have the right to vote. I would now be able to sit at the lunch counter and order as long as I could pay for it I’d be o.k. But, the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and of more basic issues such as political and economic justice in society.

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Give Thanks To Our Priests …

Today — Sunday, October 26, 2008 — is World Priest Day, in which Catholic parishes celebrate and affirm those men who are call to commit themselves to Christ and his Church through the Sacrament of Holy Orders, and an opportunity for parishioners to thank, affirm and convey our love and support for our priests.

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Sarah's Going Rogue

See here and here.

I’m perfectly fine with that… maybe she’s not the hope for the future of populist conservatism that many believe she is or was, but I’d rather have her in the mix than not. And while she certainly bears some responsibility for some of her poor performances in interviews, an equal amount goes to the campaign for mishandling those aspects of her rollout.

(HT: Rod Dreher.)

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The Fourth Estate Finds True Love

The fact that most of the Press has been completely in the tank for Senator Obama is obvious to everyone except the most fervent Obama supporters.

ABC News columnist Michael S. Malone has written a column which discusses how such naked advocacy is a betrayal of the most basic principles of journalism.

Update-Joe Biden encounters a journalist who apparently hasn’t been smitten by the love bug.

Let Those Who Have Eyes See

Doubtless many have seen this already, but if you haven’t, you should.  Cardinal Egan of New York published an impassioned plea with a simple message:

But you might protest that all of this is too easy. Why, you might inquire, have I not delved into the opinion of philosophers and theologians about the matter? And even worse: Why have I not raised the usual questions about what a “human being” is, what a “person” is, what it means to be “living,” and such? People who write books and articles about abortion always concern themselves with these kinds of things. Even the justices of the Supreme Court who gave us “Roe v. Wade” address them. Why do I neglect philosophers and theologians? Why do I not get into defining “human being,” defining “person,” defining “living,” and the rest? Because, I respond, I am sound of mind and endowed with a fine set of eyes, into which I do not believe it is well to cast sand. I looked at the photograph, and I have no doubt about what I saw and what are the duties of a civilized society if what I saw is in danger of being killed by someone who wishes to kill it or, if you prefer, someone who “chooses” to kill it. In brief: I looked, and I know what I saw.

Read the whole thing.

H/T: Pro Ecclesia and Cranky Conservative

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Measured Rhetoric Is More Effective

A good part of what I was trying to say in my Socialist post the other day concerned the relationship between precision in political rhetoric and its ability to persuade; in short, I think that “toned-down” rhetoric is more likely to convince an interlocutor (let alone an observer)  of at least the plausibilty of one’s position than is the “speaking truth to power” approach.

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Trust Your 401(k) to Uncle Sam?

The government of Argentina plans to nationalize, read steal, the private pensions of Argentinian citizens.  Good thing we’re Americans right?  That could never happen here, right?   Depending on how the election next month goes, maybe it could happen here?   Hmmm, that investment strategy of gold in coffee cans buried in the back yard is sounding better and better.

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A Huge Switch Among Catholics Towards McCain

The most accurate poll from the 2004 presidential election, the Investors Business Daily (IDB) poll, shows a phenomenal 20 point switch towards Senator McCain among Catholic voters .  In the previous IDB tracking poll Senator Obama once held a commanding 11 point advantage among Catholic voters.  In the latest tracking poll Senator McCain now has a nine (9) point lead among Catholic voters over Senator Obama.  Senator McCain leads Senator Obama among Catholic voters 48% to 39%.

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Let the Bishops Interpret Their Document

The dotCommonweal blog links to a Vox Nova post by Mornings Minion reacting to the clarifications which various bishops have issued to their dioceses on the USCCB document Faithful Citizenship and its application in the coming election. However, there are clearly some serious problems with MM’s analysis, and I think it’s worth looking at them in order to try to understand what our bishops are saying during this election season. MM opens provocatively:

In recent weeks, we are seeing something of a backlash against the USCCB’s Faithful Citizenship document– the most articulate and theologically sophisticated treatise of these issues by the US bishops ever– mainly by the usual suspects, but also by a small but vocal minority of bishops.

More than sixty bishops have thus far issued letters or statements in which they have provided further guidance on how Catholics should apply their judgement to the principles articulated in Faithful Citizenship — mostly with a mind to emphasizing the important of “life issues”. The Faithful Citizenship document was approved by 250 of the bishops in session, so clearly, the document as it stands represents a wide consensus of the Catholic bishops in the United States. And yet, with more than sixty bishops issuing their own explanatory documents, there is clearly some sort of disagreement going on.

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Bishops Call For Both/And Approach to Life

Election fever is catching everybody these days, even bishops, and since it’s so fashionable to issue clarifying statements about the 30+ page Faithful Citizenship document, Cardinal Justin Rigali (chairman of the USCCB* Committee on Pro-Life Activities) and Bishop William Murphy (chairman of the USCCB Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development) have issued a clarification about clarifications of Faithful Citizenship.

Though my tone in stating this is flip, there’s some very good material in the two page letter:

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Both Candidates Are Wrong on Taxes

With each presidential debate it struck me more that both presidential candidates are wrong about taxes: wrong both in that neither man’s proposals are realistically enactable, in that they are not the correct responses to our current circumstances, and that they suggest some basic problems with their political philosophies.

McCain wants to provide a tax cut to all tax payers — though since the vast majority of real tax dollars paid by those in the top 10% of the income spectrum, the greatest savings will be experienced by “the rich”. McCain also wants to cut the corporate tax rate to bring it in line with other developed nations. And he promises to cut spending so much that he’ll nonetheless balance the budget.

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Bishop Joseph Martino: "No Social Issue Has Caused The Death Of 50 million People"

Last week InsideCatholic.com editor Deal Hudson complained about the use of the Bishops’ document “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship” to justify a vote for Senator Barack Obama — who as Robert P. George persuasively argued, is “not merely a pro-choice politician, but rather as the most extreme pro-abortion candidate to have ever run on a major party ticket”.

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Calling a Spade an Earth-Destroying Instrument of Destruction

This started out as a reply to Chris’s “We’re All Socialists Now” post, and just kept going, so I decided to make a whole post out of it instead of clogging the comments.

There is a huge intellectual dishonesty in all of politics, in which it is never so important to simply call a spade a spade, but to distort it for political benefit. A spade to one party is the earth-tearing, vegetation-mutilating instrument of doom, while to the other party it is the vehicle of agricultural and personal independence.

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Prayers Over Politics

 

Senator Obama is leaving the campaign trail on Thursday until Saturday to visit in Hawaii his gravely ill maternal grandmother Madelyn Dunham.  I trust that all Catholics, especially Catholics who, as I do, support Senator McCain, will pray for Madelyn Dunham and Senator Obama.  Catholics understand the neverending need for God, especially at moments of grave illness, and that all of us are totally dependent on God’s mercy, grace and love.  This is a useful reminder that people we oppose politically are still, like us, poor sinners who need our prayers, as we need theirs.

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We're All Socialists Now

One of the things that quickly tires me is overblown political rhetoric; although it’s easy to give in to the temptation (I sure have a time or ninety), it simply serves no good purpose in advancing a civil and constructive political discourse. I’m all for making arguments for and against candidates (see the post below), but demonization is practically the standard, not the exception these days.

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The Dilemma of the PLCOS

It occurred to me recently that the typical Pro-Life Catholic Obama Supporter finds himself in a bit of a pickle… on the one hand, he obviously hopes (and prays?) that Senator Obama wins the presidential election; on the other hand, in order for his repeated assurances that there’s just no way that Obama’s abortion extremism will ever come to pass, he must similarly hope (and pray?) that the Illinois Senator’s party does not do as well as it appears it will, because if the Democrats do succeed in making substantial gains in the House and especially the Senate, then that abortion extremism has a very good chance of in fact becoming law.

So… go Obama, go GOP???

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The Moral Content of Politics

Amy Welborn had a post the other day making a very important point, summing up much of what I’ve been thinking but not successfully putting into words for much of the interminable lead-up to this election. Amy asks:

[I]s Catholic politico-talk, particularly in the present moment, as most of us are engaging in it, taking place essentially on the level of vague assertions, associations and concepts? And – are we avoiding and ignoring the way that government and political processes actually work?

She singles out two particular areas in which Catholic bloggers have often imbued politics with too much weight, and thus divorced it from what it is.

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Biden and Def Con 1

Joe Biden, Democrat candidate for Veep and human gaffe machine, dropped his unintentional comic relief personae and became very serious in a meeting of Democrat fund-raisers on October 19,  in Seattle, Washington.   He predicted that within six months of the election of Obama an international crisis would be generated to test the mettle of the young and untried President.

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Reflections on Death

My wife’s grandfather, Dave, died Saturday night after a long fight with a rare form of Lou Gehrig’s disease. As opposed to the more common forms that start in the appendages and work their up, this started immediately at the head and worked its way down. In his last days, he could not feed himself, speak, bathe himself, or even write to communicate with others what he needed. It was a difficult time for everyone; for my wife’s grandmother, who has divorced once and buried a second husband already; and for the rest of the family, who have felt as though they were just marking time, especially as week by week the reports of his health bore increasingly bleak news.

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Those 'Fishy' Polls

If you’ve been watching only the network newscasts and CNN and MSNBC as well as reading only the New York Times, Washington Post, and the Boston Globe you would think that the U.S. presidency was all but a done deal for Senator Barack Obama to win the White House.  Poll after poll shows Senator Obama with 10, 11, and 12 point leads over Senator John McCain.  With traditional red states like Virginian and North Carolina showing Senator Obama with leads of up to eight (8) points McCain supporters should be worried.

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Powell for Obama

I just read over at Vivificat that former Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell has endorsed Barack Obama for President. To tell the truth, although Powell is a Republican, I am not surprised. I am shocked and saddened though that another African American political figure has decided o support the most pro-abortion candidate in the history of the US. Does Gen. Powell not know of the genocide of his people, not in Darfur but here in the abortion mills of America? As I stated months ago on my personal blog, as much as I would love to see a black President I can never support an African American candidate like Obama. Despite his smooth words, his downright hostility to the pro-Life cause is sickening and keeps me from ever supporting him, even if I agreed with his other economic and social policies. It saddens me to see that so few of the black electorate and elected officials care at all that the future of their community destroyed.

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Archbishop Chaput Weighs In Again

Tonight Denver’s Archbishop Charles Chaput gave an address at a dinner for the national Catholic women’s group ENDOW (Educating on the Nature and Dignity of Women), in which he critiqued the arguments of Prof. Doug Kmiec in favor of voting for Senator Obama, despite his stance on abortion. A condensed and adapted version of the address can be found online here at the Witherspoon Institute’s website (the same place one can find the essay by Prof. Robert George on Obama’s abortion extremism which other contributors have previously mentioned).

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Catacombs or New Jerusalem?

There are two poles, I think, to Christian attitudes towards the state. 

At the one pole is a catacomb mentality.  Here Christians think of the state as an unrelievedly secular force, and they seek to render what they must unto Caesar while keeping themselves aloof from its corrupting influence. 

At the other pole is what might be termed the New Jerusalem mentality, in which the Christian sees the state as a means to achieve a more just and loving society which will reinforce virtue.

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The Lighter Side

I have always admired Al Smith, the Democrat who was the first Catholic to run for President on a major party ticket in 1928.  Each year the Al Smith dinner is held in New York to raise funds for Catholic Charities.  It is traditional each Presidential election year for the major party candidates to appear and give humorous speeches.  Senators McCain and Obama observed the tradition last night and I thought both their speeches were well done.