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    AmP Countdown: Time left to demand that Congress make health care reform pro-life: 2009-11-07 18:00:00 GMT-05:00

    Tuesday, November 04, 2008

    Open thread: Top links for election day

    I'm plowing through mountains of links today. Here are the best. Most recent links are at the top.
    (And don't forget my video interview with Abp. Chaput on Catholic voting in this election!)

    Consider this the first open thread of the day as well.

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    Bishop Finn frames Obama vote in terms of salvation

    On the Chris Stigall show, Bishop Finn's electrifying line:

    Stigall: "There are Catholics listening to me right now who are thinking strongly or are convinced that they will vote for Barack Obama. What would you say to them?"

    Bishop Finn: "I would say, give consideration to your eternal salvation."

    The audio:

    Oh, and he had more to say on the widely-listened-to Hugh Hewitt show.

    Your thoughts?

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    Monday, November 03, 2008

    My thoughts about the 2008 election

    I have been covering the 2008 presidential election since its beginning, striving always to provide a personal perspective informed by, and faithful to, the teachings of the Catholic Church.
    In this brief calm tonight before tomorrow's storm, here are the top five conclusions I've drawn:
    1. Obama's record and philosophy disqualifies him from being an acceptable Presidential candidate. He is unapologetically pro-choice, and for all his talk about moving on and changing politics as it is currently practiced, his solution to the problem of abortion is to completely and unilaterally decide in the favor of the abortion-on-demand crowd. More than that, his party platform and promises would force Catholics to help fund abortions, and his policies on embryonic stem cell research and other biomedical issues will pose a grave threat to the practice of Catholic ethical health care in America.
    2. McCain is not a perfect candidate - far from it, he is flawed on the issue of embryonic stem cell research and not-quite-perfect on the issue of abortion. But he is, in a distinct sense, the lesser evil, and compared to the prospect of an Obama presidency, is the better choice. I could go on about his other policies, but they are matters of reasonable debate - the positions of Obama on life issues, however are not open for debate. They are so deeply flawed that they preclude our vote, and Catholics must shape the public debate by sending a strong message to pro-choice candidates that this will not be tolerated.
    3. The American bishops have spoken. Well over one-in-three have chosen to conspicuously remind their followers about the importance of life issues in the weeks leading up to this election. Nor is this a coincidence - they know exactly what they are doing and what they are risking. Those bishops who have attempted to re-assert a (false) spectrum-of-issues argument can be counted on one hand, and hail from some of the most liberal and dysfunctional dioceses (and no, I'm not using the terms synonymously) in the country. We can expect a heated and urgent debate in a week when the bishops convene in Baltimore to discuss the fall-out of the misinterpretations of Faithful Citizenship spread by pro-Obama catholics. Sadly, I fear it will be precisely one week too late. But we hope for the future, and the next election.
    4. Pro-Obama Catholics will remain with us into an Obama presidency. And we must hold these people accountable. By this I mean we have to hold them to the promises they have made the Catholic faithful about the reduction of abortions which they claim Obama's presidency will bring about, as well as a whole range of other predictions. They are on record, we have read their statements, and the burden is on them. Don't get me wrong - faithful Catholics will never cease in their efforts to defend the unborn, but as the waters rise, it is the pro-Obama Catholics who claimed we didn't need the levees.
    5. Election controversies are faith controversies. Politics does not occur in a vacuum, and it is not separated from our Catholic faith. Disagreements arise (indeed, sometimes in a conflagration) more often in politics because it's impossible to ignore the opposing results that different understandings of our faith bring about in the real world and in practical day-to-day matters. "Do you believe, as the Church teaches, that abortion is a grave moral evil that Catholics must do everything in their power to eliminate, and quickly?" How you answer that question will effect how you vote. Or again, "Do you believe we must listen carefully to our bishops when they speak out on issues of justice?" These two questions are just a start.

    I could go on, but there will be so many last-minute op-eds published today that I'm content to stop here.

    If you haven't voted yet, go vote. It's an obligation for Catholics. Oh - and pray, and fast.

    Those last two we can do the whole year round. To start, it's going to be a long Advent this year....

    And, needless to say, I'm eager to learn what you've observed as well. We have time before the polls close.

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    McCain's Hail Mary to Hispanics

    Adapting an emailed tip in my own words here ....

    The McCain team has sent 25,000+ of these two-sided prayer cards (PDF) to Hispanic churches and prayer groups in NM and CO. They contain an image from when McCain visited Our Lady of Guadalupe as well as a prayer for John McCain. More pictures of McCain's Mexico visit are available here.
    The text of the prayer:

    God, our Father, all earthly powers must serve you. Help your servant, Senator John McCain, to fulfill your plan for him. By honoring and striving to please You at all times, may he continue to defend the right to life of the unborn and promote peace, justice and freedom for our Nation. We ask this through the intercession of Our Blessed Mother and Patroness, Our Lady of Guadalupe.

    The text is in English and Spanish.

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    Tracking the Catholic Vote: 51-38% for McCain?

    So says one poll, and American Catholic adds context:

    The most accurate poll from the 2004 Election, the Investors Business Daily (IDB) Poll, has been showing a trend of Catholic voters moving away from Senator Obama and into Senator McCain’s camp. Since I first reported this a little over a week ago I can now say that this trend is real and Catholics are now leaning to McCain as of today.

    Again, this is only a snapshot and outside of the IDB and Gallup polls, I don’t put much into any other poll. But it is interesting to note that the Catholic vote has switched over to McCain, 51-38%. A solid majority so to speak.

    Pray and fast my brothers and sisters in Christ. Pray and fast.


    Just Vote

    The Anchoress:
    "The press and the Obama trolls will use psy-ops to try to discourage your vote. That’s another no-brainer, but remember it. Remember it and VOTE. Vote if it’s raining, vote if it’s snowing. Vote if you feel crappy. Vote if you’re hearing talking heads proclaim “the most historic landslide in all of human history.” Tonight you’re going to hear - if you bother to tune in, and I wouldn’t - the gasbags on the boob tube announcing, “this election is over…” After all this time, you should know hype when you hear it, you should know, by now, that the press lies. Ignore all of that and GO VOTE. Even if eleventy billion vote the other way, get your own voice heard and on the record. Take someone else with you when you vote; encourage everyone you know to vote. Vote, vote, vote."
    Plus Starbucks will give you a free cup of brewed coffee. I'm not kidding.

    Fr. Jonathan Morris thinks it will be close, and considers a possible reason:
    And if I’m right and the vote is close in 2008, when the Democratic Party has every political reason to wipe out the Republicans, it will mean our country rejects major elements of Senator Obama’s plan to revolutionize important American values, beginning with the right to life. Then the Democratic Party may see the benefit of freeing itself from the stranglehold of the culture of death, forced upon it by extreme, and extremely powerful, interest groups. What a relief it would be for “Values Voters” to have a viable alternative to the very imperfect Republican Party.


    Photo: The Onion does it again

    I know, it's macabre, but I feel that's in keeping with the day....

    "Fleet Of Stem-Cell Container Trucks Ready To Go If Obama Elected"
    [Source: The Onion]

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    "If Obama Loses the Election, I'll Blame the Catholic Church"

    So says one individual.

    I'll be happy to share the blame, too.

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    Game point: Responding to the "pro-life Obama" argument

    Ryan T. Anderson & Sherif Girgis have done us a service over at Public Discourse:

    The Obama apologists are at it again, this time attacking Archbishop Charles Chaput for speaking out against their candidate's pro-abortion views. But the latest salvo from Doug Kmiec is a tangled web of falsehoods and fallacies.

    Doug Kmiec is at it again. His most recent Obama propaganda piece is titled ''Why Archbishop Chaput's Abortion Stance Is Wrong.'' As far as we can tell, Kmiec, a legal scholar who identifies as pro-life, has never written an article titled ''Why Senator Obama's Abortion Stance Is Wrong.'' We await such an article. In the meantime, Kmiec has offered a pro-Obama reply to Archbishop Chaput's wise counsel that Catholics vote with a view to securing the equal protection of the law for all people, born or unborn. Kmiec's answers to the Archbishop can be divided without remainder into three categories: the irrelevant, the false, and the fallacious. Exposing their failure shows that the pro-life case against Obama is decisive.

    Required reading for those who are still up in the air, or who know folks who are.

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    Sunday, November 02, 2008

    AMP NEWS Video - Episode One Featuring Archbishop Chaput Interview!

    This week I sat down for an interview with Archbishop Charles Chaput of the Archdiocese of Denver to discuss his NYT bestseller Render Unto Caesar as well as Catholic voting in this election as part of my new collaborative project AMP NEWS.

    Regular AmP readers will know that Archbishop Chaput has been one of the most (if not the most) vocal bishop defenders of the unborn in the American public scene of late, despite some criticism. God bless him for it.

    Archbishop Chaput, I am thrilled to say, gave me frank answers to the tough questions that are facing American Catholics this election, and it is my hope my that many people will have a chance to see this interview before they vote on Tuesday.

    Embedded below are the four segments of AMP NEWS Episode One. You may also watch the entire episode as a whole right here on YouTube. We hope to continue providing quality Catholic news, interviews, and offbeat programming to you in the future!

    Episode 1 - "Headlines"

    Episode 1 - "Papist Chat with Archbishop Chaput {Part 1 of 2}"

    Episode 1 - "Papist Chat with Archbishop Chaput {Part 2 of 2}"

    Episode 1 - "The Papist Takedown"

    This link creates a playlist of the entire episode:
    Now that you have seen the show, please forward these videos to your friends and family who are preparing to vote on Tuesday, and send AMP NEWS to folks who are seeking an informed, Catholic perspective on the important stories facing Catholics in America today. Please also subscribe to our AMP NEWS YouTube Channel if you want to be updated instantly when new episodes are uploaded.

    Special thanks go to the Catholic Information Center in Washington DC (and do check out their upcoming events) for giving AMP NEWS the opportunity of interviewing Archbishop Chaput, to AMP NEWS producer Alex Buder, to William Newton for creative input, and our profound gratitude to His Excellency, Archbishop Charles Chaput O.F.M Cap, for his faithful service on behalf of Christ and His Church.
    update, some pull quotes from the interview with Archbishop Chaput:
    • On Barack Obama: "Senator Obama is the most active pro-abortion politician to run for the Presidency since Roe v. Wade. He has committed himself to do things the Church would resist."
    • On vocal bishops: "The bishops are aware ... a quieter approach to these things has not been effective ... we have to be stronger in what we say. We've just had it."
    • On Faithful Citizenship: "[It is] not very clear. We either ought to get rid of it, or say things much clearer."
    • On claiming Obama is a pro-life candidate: "It would be foolish to say that someone who ... runs on a party platform that has no regret at all about abortion ... to call that position pro-life is really strange."
    • On IRS investigations: "It's simply bullying. It shouldn't stop us from talking about the important issues of our time."
    • On the separation of Church and State: "We do believe in it. We don't like the state to tell us what to do. We don't believe in the separation of faith and politics."
    And here is a running tally of the blogs/websites that have picked up on AMP NEWS so far:

    If I left your name off the list please send me an email!

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    Friday, October 31, 2008

    The fight for your Sunday morning parish parking lot

    This Sunday, the last one before next Tuesday's election, folks will likely be placing flyers on cars parked in Catholic parish parking lots around the country.

    Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good is trying to stop that phenomenon. They want to keep people in the mindset they already have, and they don't want their minds changed last minute.

    Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good has been roundly criticized by many Catholic bishops, such as Archbishop Chaput and Bishop Martino. They areinvolved with the Democratic party and have been charged with taking money from prominent pro-abortion activists.

    Anyway, here is what they are telling their members to do this weekend (underlining mine):

    "We are asking our supporters to join us this Sunday to keep our parishes from becoming partisan battlegrounds in this election. Here's what you can do to help:

    • Inform your Pastor today of your concern that outside groups may try to flyer cars during Mass on Sunday and encourage him to instruct the ushers to monitor the church parking lot during the worship service.
    • Volunteer to monitor your own church parking lot this Sunday, and ask others to join you in monitoring their church.
    • If you do encounter people in the parking lot, respectfully ask them to leave and remove their literature, and inform the ushers immediately.
    • Refrain from distributing, on any Church property, any election materials except those approved by the USCCB (Faithful Citizenship), your local bishop or State Catholic Conference. Do not distribute any partisan campaign literature or voter guides (even non-partisan guides).
    • Do what you can this weekend to help safeguard our Sunday Mass as a sacred time that should never be used for political gain."

    Did you get all that? Monitoring the lot, enlisting ushers, removing flyers?

    What do you think about this? Do you take the side of Catholics in Alliance or do you think it's fair for other groups to try to get their message out?

    What this email tells me is that Catholics in Alliance is primarily trying to neutralize other members of the Church who wish to provide information to their brothers and sisters in Christ on important issues. But I do realize there are other dynamics involved here, which is why I'd like to have your input as well.

    So please discuss.

    update: LifeNews notes that Catholics United is encouraging the same tactics:

    CU spokesman James Salt emailed his pro-Obama team Thursday night and called the literature drops a "final act of desperation" by the "religious far right" and falsely claimed that the distribution of pro-life information "defies" the Catholic bishops -- who have said the pro-life issue trumps all others in the election.

    "The goal of this activity is to convince Catholics that it's immoral to vote for candidates who don't subscribe to the right's narrow agenda," Salt claims.

    Salt says Catholics United is heading up the campaign to "put the brakes" on the literature drops.

    CNA also weighs in.

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    Abp. of Omaha: "No proportionate reason outweights abortion"

    As a perfect example of what I see as a clear and growing trend, I submit this letter on voting entitled "Deciding the values that are most important to us" (PDF) by Archbishop Elden Curtiss of Omaha.
    The general framework of this letter, and other letters recently published by American bishops:
    • Catholics have a moral responsibility to vote and participate in the democratic process
    • Catholics have to vote according to a well-formed conscience - and that means well formed by Catholic principles, not ideological or partisan preconceived notions
    • Catholics must vote to respect and preserve the dignity of every human life
    • Among modern threats to that dignity, nothing matches the ongoing grave evil of abortion

    What happens next is interesting, and novel, but again - it's happening more and more often....

    After laying out the four steps above, the bishop will add a fifth step - his personal conclusion:

    "I cannot conceive of a proportionate reason that could outweigh the deaths of nearly 50 million children killed by abortion."

    "Those who do not understand or accept this basic human right [to life] are unworthy of our trust."

    Of course, this is a great simplification. And Bishop Curtiss adds the needed qualifications:
    "We are surely not one-issue people because we have to be concerned about the well-being of everyone in our society, and especially those who are hurting and in need. We have to be concerned about women with unplanned pregnancies who are without the resources to give birth or to care for their babies. We are rightfully concerned about candidates for public office who do not seem to care about babies after they are born and their mothers, and their future welfare. But the very first right we must protect, if all human rights are to be protected, is the right to life for the unborn."
    Anyway, this is just no. 84 on a list of over 115.

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    Thursday, October 30, 2008

    For anyone who's ever had a political sign stolen

    Margaret Cabaniss at IC has the story:
    On Monday, [Shawn Turschak] ran wires from his house and hooked the signs into a power source for an electric pet fence. Then he mounted a surveillance camera in a nearby tree and wired it to a digital recorder.

    Tuesday afternoon, the camera saw this: A neighbor trotting up with an Obama-Biden sign, grabbing a handful of volts as he touched a McCain-Palin sign, then fleeing at top 9-year-old boy speed.
    Video here.

    In my neighborhood here in Washington DC there is a single McCain sign among myriads of Obama signs that I walk past everyday. I think it's a wonder that it's still standing.

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    Tracking the Catholic Vote

    Another nibble:
    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. (Fox News)
    The spread among all Catholics favors McCain, I would imagine.

    And at last count:

    "Among the over 110 bishops who have spoken out in this election in defense of Church teaching are 69 ordinaries (bishops who head dioceses). That's over one-third of the 197 dioceses and archdioceses in the United States." (Inside Catholic)

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    Wednesday, October 29, 2008

    Time perpetuates "Biden = Catholic Vote" meme

    Tucked into this Time magazine story about Joe Biden being hidden away from reporters (even more than Sarah Palin) in the final days before November 4th, an explanation for his selection:
    "Whereas McCain's pick of a running mate was a big move aimed at jolting the race, Obama had hoped instead to bolster his foreign policy credentials, give him a second chance with white Catholics and, above all, do no harm."
    On the ground, one Catholic reacts at a Joe Biden rally:
    "Mr. Biden calls himself Catholic, and he's causing a scandal in the Catholic Church because he's saying the Catholic Church doesn't know what it's talking about," Haskell said. "And he's pro-abortion."

    "The Catholic Church has always said that life begins at conception. ... God's pro-life."
    One of the signs the women were waving read, "Bishops excommunicate Biden!!!" One had what appeared to be a photo of an aborted fetus. Another read, "Real Catholics are pro-life." (Ocala)

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    Defendin' Palin

    George Marlin does his best over at The Catholic Thing:
    Governor Sarah Palin is driving liberal and conservative members of the eastern establishment bonkers.

    Because Palin is a working mother of five, didn’t abort her Down syndrome child, is the main bread winner in her family, gave a terrific acceptance speech, held Biden’s feet to the fire in the vice presidential debate, attracts large crowds at campaign rallies, and is good-looking – liberal feminists are frothing at the mouth.

    In their quest to destroy Palin, these self-appointed guardians of the women’s rights movement have discarded all the rules of civility and fair play.

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    Video: What's At Stake? Human Life.

    Be advised, this is not an easy video to watch:

    It's also very moving.

    Ph/t: AmP reader Fr. Steven.

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    Tuesday, October 28, 2008

    Latest numbers: McCain back up among Catholics

    Signs of hope?

    Two weeks ago McCain and Obama were nearly tied for the Catholic vote 42%-43% with 15% undecided.

    A week ago Obama support among Catholics peaked at 49%-38% with 12% undecided.

    Today, Catholics have flipped back to McCain 40-47% and 13% undecided.

    Obama polls extraordinarily high among those who report "no" religion (74%) and Jewish (69%), he leads McCain in "Other Christian" (47%-42%) but falls behind among "other" religion (40%-52%) and Protestants (40%-53%).

    Yes, it appears McCain continues to do less well among Catholics than Protestants (which presumably includes evangelicals).

    But then again, this is just polling.

    Million dollar question: does this recent shift have anything to do with the fact that over 100 bishops have published statements arguing for the priority of life issues?

    update: if you want a taste for what these bishops are saying, read an excerpt from this one:

    "In the U.S. Bishops' document, Faithful Citizenship, there is a section which addresses whether it might ever be morally permissible for a Catholic to vote for a candidate who supports and intrinsic evil, such as abortion – even when the voter does not agree with the candidate's position on that evil. In response, the Bishops note that it might be possible if another intrinsic evil outweighs the evil of abortion.

    While this is sound moral guidance, I ask you, are there truly any grave moral and proportionate reasons, singularly or taken together, that outweigh the millions of innocent human lives that are directly killed by legal abortion each year?

    Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver puts it in perspective when he says: “What is a proportionate reason when it comes to abortion? It's the kind of reason we will be able to explain, with a clean heart, to the victims of abortion when we meet them in the next life – which we certainly will. If we're confident that these victims will accept our motives, then we can proceed." - Bishop James Johnston of Sprinfield-Cape Girardeau

    And this statement was heard from the pulpit of every Mass this weekend. That has to have an effect.

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    Sed Contra: Pro-Life Laws, Politicians produce results

    Michael J. New at Public Discourse (which is dishing out the good stuff):

    During the past 35 years, the pro-life movement has made real progress. The number of abortions has fallen in 12 out of the past 14 years and the total number of abortions has declined by 21 percent since 1990. These gains are largely due to pro-life political victories at the federal level in the 1980s and at the state level in the 1990s which have made it easier to pass pro-life legislation.

    Thank you, pro-Obama Catholics, for giving us the occasion to revisit these important facts.

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    Monday, October 27, 2008

    Purely political

    The last week before an election is always crazy. The atest communiques from the battlefield:
    • "Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., said that as president he would hold regular press conferences and "not just call on my four favorite reporters." But the Democratic presidential nominee hasn't held a full press conference -- submitting himself to more than a handful of questions from his whole press corps -- in more than a month, since Sept. 24, 2008, in Clearwater, Fla. (ABC Blog)
    • "Newspapers and magazines swarmed around the first black student to win the most coveted spot at the most vaunted club at one of America’s most prestigious institutions. In interviews, Mr. Obama was modest and careful. (In a rare slip, he told The Associated Press: “I’m not interested in the suburbs. The suburbs bore me.”) He signed a contract to write a memoir." (NYT)
    • Chuck Norris: "I'm voting for those not yet born" (guess who he's not voting for)

    Priority items:

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    Friday, October 24, 2008

    Charles Krauthammer on not voting Obama

    I feel bad giving away the ending, but if you like this, read the rest:
    How has [Obama] fared on the only two significant foreign policy tests he has faced since he’s been in the Senate? The first was the surge. Obama failed spectacularly. He not only opposed it. He tried to denigrate it, stop it, and — finally — deny its success.

    The second test was Georgia, to which Obama responded instinctively with evenhanded moral equivalence, urging restraint on both sides. McCain did not have to consult his advisers to instantly identify the aggressor.

    Today’s economic crisis, like every other in our history, will in time pass. But the barbarians will still be at the gates. Whom do you want on the parapet? I’m for the guy who can tell the lion from the lamb.

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    Calling down the IRS on teaching bishops

    It's already happening:
    A church-state watchdog group has asked the Internal Revenue Service to investigate whether the Roman Catholic bishop of Paterson, N.J., violated tax laws by denouncing Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama.

    In a letter sent to the IRS on Wednesday (Oct. 22), Americans United for Separation of Church and State accused Paterson Bishop Arthur Serratelli of illegal partisanship for lambasting Obama's support of abortion rights. (Religion News Service)
    Read Bishop Serratelli's column here.

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    Video: Feminist scare tactics

    The Feminists are "scared":

    More rage from other Feminists (warning: adult language).

    Both websites strongly support Obama - surprised?

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    Thursday, October 23, 2008


    Never trust a blogger when he says "this will be my last post..."

    Anyway, what Drudge described as the "Most accurate pollster in 2004 election" is today showing Obama 44.8%, McCain 43.7%, Not Sure 11.6%...
    McCain has cut into Obama's lead for a second day and is now just 1.1 points behind. The spread was 3.7 Wednesday and 6.0 Tuesday. The Republican is making headway with middle- and working- class voters, and has surged 10 points in two days among those earning between $30,000 and $75,000. He has also gone from an 11-point deficit to a 9-point lead among Catholics.
    Interesting. {update: link fixed - thanks Edward!}

    update: are people listening?

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    A final reflection for today

    I've thrown alot of material up on the blog today - 8 posts on the election alone. Let's get concise.

    I think what SDG said reflects accurately the opinion many observant, thoughtful Catholics are forming:
    1. John McCain does not deserve your vote.
    2. If Obama loses — to anyone — it will be a victory for life.
    Even for those who admit the truth of 1, it's almost impossible to get around the urgency of 2.

    And I think 3 logically follows.

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    Claim: 1-in-4 Bishops Promote "single issue voting"

    Writing for the UK Tablet, Rocco does his homework, crunches the numbers, and comes up with this:

    A quarter of America's bishops have said that the most important issue for voters in the forthcoming presidential election is abortion - comments that may help boost the fortunes of Republican candidate John McCain.

    Some 50 out of the nation's 197 active bishops have published articles or given interviews during the run-up up to the election urging abortion as the key issue on which voters should decide which way to vote.

    Of course, "single issue voting" is a caricature of what these bishops are teaching. They are actually defending the centrality of certain issues against those who would subjectively marginalize them. And so, in a very real way, the bishops are promoting "all issue voting", at least when compared to the alternative. We must always guard against letting the other side claim this truth as their own.

    But let's get back to the really amazing statistic: over 1-in-4 active bishops have said this!

    Rocco, whose comprehensiveness is to be trusted, can in fact only find two bishops who apparently argue the alternative "there's alot of issues out there" approach. So by my count, the bishops split like this:
    • Abortion is the key issue: 50+
    • Abortion is one issue among many: 2
    • No comment (yet): 145

    So what is the correct conclusion? Well, I would say it can no longer be claimed that the number of bishops who are concerned about the dismissal of abortion (and other fundamental life issues) constitute a slim minority - in fact, they are now a significant voice in the American hierarchy.

    Some people, however, are obviously still living in serious denial. Robert Kaiser writing for the National Catholic Reporter today is a sterling example of the inability to admit the tide has turned. He begins:

    "I really resent the few U.S. bishops who are now engaged in a campaign to swing the election for John McCain -- as they did for George W. Bush in 2004."

    And let me just stop him right there, because by Rocco's count (and with the confirmation of the reporting I have done over the past months), Kaiser actually "resents" about 1-in-4 American bishops, if he resents those bishops who teach publicly that abortion is the key issue for Catholics when voting.

    So, who should feel lonely now?

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    Top myths about abortion dispelled on USCCB website

    Spread this news. Richard M. Doerflinger has published a concice essay on the USCCB website asking the question "What Reduces Abortions?"

    His answers are startling and contradict claims spread by pro-Obama catholics. Consider (underlining mine):

    Sometimes election years produce more policy myths than good ideas. This year one myth is about abortion. It goes like this: The Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision is here to stay, and that's fine because laws against abortion don't reduce abortions much anyway. Rather, "support for women and families" will greatly reduce abortions, without changing the law or continuing a "divisive" abortion debate.

    Various false claims are used to bolster this myth. It is said that over three-quarters of women having abortions cite expense as the most important factor in their decision. Actually the figure is less than one-fourth, 23%. It is said that abortion rates declined dramatically (30%) during the Clinton years, but the decline stopped under the ostensibly pro-life Bush administration. Actually the abortion rate has dropped 30% from 1981 to 2005; the decline started 12 years before Clinton took office, and has continued fairly steadily to the present day.

    More myths (underlining again mine):
    The steepest decline is among minors. Is it plausible that economic factors reduced abortions for teens but not their older sisters, or their mothers who support them?

    The reality is this: In 1980 the Supreme Court upheld the Hyde amendment, and federally funded abortions went from 300,000 a year to nearly zero. With its decisions in Webster (1989) and Casey (1992), the Court began to uphold other abortion laws previously invalidated under Roe. States passed hundreds of modest but effective laws: bans on use of public funds and facilities; informed consent laws; parental involvement when minors seek abortion; etc. Dr. Michael New's rigorous research has shown that these laws significantly reduce abortions. In the 1990s, debate on partial-birth abortion - kept in the public eye, ironically, by President Clinton's repeated vetoes of a ban on this grisly late-term procedure - alerted many Americans to the violence of abortion and shifted public attitudes in a pro-life direction, just as growing concern over AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases was giving new force to the abstinence message for teens. Now the Court has upheld a partial-birth abortion ban, and signaled that other laws to save unborn children and their mothers from the horrors of abortion may be valid. If Roe is reversed outright, that will allow more laws that can further reduce abortions.

    By contrast, a pending federal "Freedom of Choice Act" (FOCA) would knock down current laws reducing abortions, and require public programs for pregnant women to fund abortion. No one supporting that bill can claim to favor reducing abortions.
    Many women are pressured toward abortion, and they need our help. The pressures are partly, but only partly, economic in nature. Women are influenced by husbands, boyfriends, parents and friends, and by a culture and legal system that tells them the child they carry has no rights and is of no consequence. Law cannot solve all problems, but it can tell us which solutions are unacceptable - and today Roe still teaches that killing the unborn child is an acceptable solution, even a "right." Without ever forgetting the need to support pregnant women and their families, that tragic and unjust error must be corrected if we are to build a society that respects all human life.
    This essay is significant for its publication on the USCCB website, and its timing - days after the US Bishops' statement setting the record straight on Roe v. Wade and other common errors.

    This may feel a little bit like throwing sandbags on a broken dike, but that's what we are called to do. So roll up your sleeves and get to work. Dikes don't repair themselves.

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    Obama's unbelievable campaign wealth

    Obama promised to take federal funds. Well, now we know why he changed his mind:

    Having hauled in a record $208,333 every hour of every day last month -- $150 million in all -- plus a few more unreported millions so far this month, Barack Obama is worried that he might come up short in the political money war with the John McCain-Sarah Palin ticket.

    Just to relieve himself of that $150 million before the polls open, Obama will have to spend $12.5 million a day.

    And, according to an e-mail plea to supporters, tonight's the absolute deadline to donate $10 more and receive your special edition Official Obama-Biden car magnet.

    Having now collected more than $605 million altogether, the freshman senator shows no concern over the appearance of buying the presidency. Imagine for a moment the national political conversation that could be going on now if rich Republicans had raked in that much loot for one campaign.

    Obama's team is so well-funded and well-organized it has spread its political web into one-time red states, forcing McCain to defend them with his measly $84.1 million in federal funds. (LA Times Blog)

    Here's an idea:
    And, hey, if there's a few hundred million dollars left over in the campaign coffers on Nov. 5, win or lose, maybe Obama would like to put it toward the immense federal budget deficits that our colleague Stephen Braun warns this morning will confront the hopes and current plans of either an Obama or McCain White House come Jan. 21.
    Oh - but wait, looks like Obama has other plans for that leftover money:
    Election Day is less than two weeks away, and Chicago could be home to the biggest political party in the country. Construction is underway for a massive stage in Grant Park where Barack Obama could declare victory on election night. (CBS Chicago)
    What a sensitivity to the plight of ordinary Americans does Obama reveal.

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    Wednesday, October 22, 2008

    Sarah Palin's fashion budget over $150,000?

    Semi-gratuitous Palin photo:

    The price of fashion isn't cheap (underlining mine):

    The Republican National Committee has spent more than $150,000 to clothe and accessorize vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and her family since her surprise pick by John McCain in late August.

    ... The entries also show a few purchases at Pacifier, a top notch baby store, and Steiniauf & Stroller Inc., suggesting $295 was spent to accommodate the littlest Palin to join the campaign trail. (Politico)

    Some of the money probably went to John McCain and other people on the campaign as well.

    ... too much?

    Then again, Obama's campaign has spent almost $500,000 on "food/meetings".

    And of greater substance: Sarah Palin to Dobson: I'm Solidly Pro-Life and McCain Opposes Abortion

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    Quote of the Day: "Nimble Catholics"

    From a Chicago Tribune piece on pro-Obama Catholics:
    "Catholics have, historically, been nimble at finding loopholes in church doctrine, ways to deftly excuse themselves from the guilt of lesser sins skipping church, swearing, eating meat on Fridays. Abortion is a much steeper hill to climb."
    This gives me a new phrase: "Nimble Catholics."

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    Bad news: Obama close to double-digit lead

    Polls can be wrong. But lots of polls showing a general trend are normally right:
    “Three big days for Obama. Anything can happen, but time is running short for McCain. These numbers, if they hold, are blowout numbers. They fit the 1980 model with Reagan's victory over Carter -- but they are happening 12 days before Reagan blasted ahead. If Obama wins like this we can be talking not only victory but realignment: he leads by 27 points among Independents, 27 points among those who have already voted, 16 among newly registered voters, 31 among Hispanics, 93%-2% among African Americans, 16 among women, 27 among those 18-29, 5 among 30-49 year olds, 8 among 50-64s, 4 among those over 65, 25 among Moderates, and 12 among Catholics (which is better than Bill Clinton's 10-point victory among Catholics in 1996). He leads with men by 2 points, and is down among whites by only 6 points, down 2 in armed forces households, 3 among investors, and is tied among NASCAR fans.” (Zogby)
    Catholics will put Obama over the top, unless we do something about it.

    update: aw geez - "AP presidential poll: All even in the homestretch" (I give up.)

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    Weigel fires back at Kmiec, Cafardi & Kaveny

    Catholic pro-Obama figures Nicholas Cafardi, M. Cathleen Kaveny, and Douglas Kmiec recently attempted to write a "Catholic Brief for Obama" in Newsweek. I thought it was balderdash.

    George Weigel did too, but he puts it so much better (again, in Newsweek). Some of the best quotes:

    Do Professors Cafardi, Kaveny, and Kmiec imagine that they have a better grasp of Senator Obama's views on the life issues than, say, the National Reproductive Rights Action League [NARAL], or other pro-choice Obama supporters?

    ... How is it possible to square a concern for women in crisis with support of the presidential candidate who favors ending the modest federal funding some of those crisis pregnancy centers now receive? How is it "pro-life" to support a presidential candidate who is publicly committed to requiring any federal legislation in support of pregnant women to include promotion of abortion?

    ... The truth of the matter, alas, is that most Catholic politicians are woefully ill-informed about the moral logic of the Catholic Church's teaching on the life issues, which is not a moral logic for Catholics only. This reflects an enormous failure on the part of too many pastors and bishops. That failure is compounded when prominent Catholic intellectuals who may wish to support a candidate for other reasons fail to make clear that the candidate's views and public record on the life issues are reprehensible. That compound failure is made even worse when such a candidate is repackaged as the "real" pro-life candidate.

    ... Should Senator Obama be elected president, Professors Cafardi, Kaveny, and Kmiec will enjoy a brief moment of satisfaction. That moment will likely be followed by the discovery that they have far less credit in the new administration's bank than NARAL and other longtime Obama supporters.

    What he said (and what I've been saying, for some time now, just less well).

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    Tuesday, October 21, 2008

    Claim: Obama's strenuous Catholic outreach making inroads

    Could they be buying it?

    "... the bigger news is Obama's jump among white [non-hispanic] Catholics, where he's totally reversed McCain's lead. Last month, McCain led 48-percent to 41-percent among white [non-hispanic] Catholics. Now, Obama's up 49-percent to 41-percent. And here's a fascinating tidbit: McCain's 16-point lead among White Catholics [overall] from last month has evaporated. The candidates are now dead even among those voters. Obama's strenuous Catholic outreach is finally starting to pay off." (BeliefNet)

    Can you hear the glee in Dan's voice?

    Related: Shock Poll: Dems Favor Obama (CMR)

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    Breaking: US Bishops set the record straight in today's statement

    This is a breaking story - check back for updates.

    Thank God for our bishops. They have just released a press release on the USCCB website:

    Legal Protection for Unborn, Support for Mothers Both Needed, Say Cardinal Rigali and Bishop Murphy

    WASHINGTON—"Our faith requires us to oppose abortion on demand and to provide help to mothers facing challenging pregnancies," Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia and Bishop William Murphy of Rockville Centre, N.Y., said in an October 21 statement. The bishops urged Catholics to study the teaching of the Church, rather than rely on statements and materials from outside groups and individuals.

    [Read it here in PDF] [Summary here.]

    I had just finished writing this essay in which I sounded the call for an organized response to the recent arguments put forward by pro-Obama Catholics when I discovered the above press release from the US bishops waiting in my inbox, doing exactly what I was hoping for. Now it's up to us to spread their message.
    Okay, what are they saying?
    • Catholics are not to blindly follow the advice of "outside groups and individuals."

    Okay, what are these outside groups and individuals saying?

    • The argument that "the Church should accept the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision on abortion as a 'permanent fixture of constitutional law' and should concede that the only way to reduce abortions is to provide more government support for pregnant women is wrong.

    Also wrong:

    • "The Church's efforts against abortion should focus solely on restoring recognition for unborn children's human rights and that proposals to provide social and economic support for pregnant women distract from that effort."

    The first argument is one used by Democrats, the second argument is a straw man constructed by Democrats about those who refuse to vote for Barack Obama and other pro-choice politicians.

    I fully agree with the bishops that the second error is to be rejected - will Democrat Catholics now fully agree that the first argument is in error? Are you listening, Nicholas Cafardi? Doug Kmiec? Catholics United? Lisa Sowle Cahill? Because these are the Catholics who have been pushing this argument. By stark contrast, I have not seen anyone seriously claim that the legislative solution is the only one to be pursued. (Okay folks, I'm waiting.)

    The Catholic argument for voting Democrat (or, specifically, for a pro-choice politician) has boiled down to "get over Roe" and "pursue alternatives like funding health care". The bishops respond:

    The bishops added that legalizing abortion had greatly increased annual abortions in the United States. "The law is a teacher, and Roe taught many women, physicians and others that abortion is an acceptable answer to a wide range of problems."

    Clarification 2: FOCA is on the horizon.

    The American bishops are coming to terms with the reality of an Obama presidency, and a Democrat-controlled Senate and House that could pass the Freedom of Choice Act, which will in one fell swoop erase all the progress that has taken place against Roe since it was passed. Here is what they say:

    By the same token, even the limited pro-life laws allowed by the Court since Roe have been shown to reduce abortions substantially, leading to a steady decline in the abortion rate since 1980. Bans on public funding, laws requiring informed consent for women and parental involvement for minors, and other modest and widely supported laws have saved millions of lives. Laws made possible by reversing Roe would save many more. On the other hand, this progress could be lost through a key pro-abortion proposal, the “Freedom of Choice Act,” which supporters say would knock down hundreds of current pro-life laws and forbid any public program to “discriminate” against abortion in providing services to women.

    This statement challenges the canard which holds that legislative actions have been ineffectual in driving down the incidence of abortion. Of course restrictions act to restrict abortions.

    Who is getting slapped on the wrist more?

    While this statement is a critique of some elements of the republican and democrat solution to the problem of abortion, I submit that it is more a critique of the democrat solution for these reasons:

    • It talks about abortion as a non-negotiable front-and-center moral issue. Part of the argument for voting for democrat/pro-choice politicians seeks to marginalize the importance of this issue. Sorry, you can't ignore abortion and claim to be practicing the social teaching of the Catholic Church.
    • It is issued not only by the chairman of Pro-Life activities, but also the chairman on "Domestic Justice and Human development." One cannot have either true justice or achieve authentic human development without an especial care for the unborn.
    • It spends a lengthy amount of time talking about FOCA, a democrat-sponsored bill that will, following this statement, increase the number of abortions in America and also strike a serious blow to the cause of addressing the social justice issue of our time.

    Finally, and most importantly:

    • Republicans do commit themselves to caring for women experiencing crisis pregnancies. By the same token, the idea that reversing Roe is the only goal of pro-life activity is not a republican position (read their platform). However, democrats do say that Roe is a non-negotiable and do actively attempt to repeal the restrictions that have slowly been put on it through conservative efforts (again, read their platform).

    This statement is a therefore, I submit, confirmation of my thesis that Catholics in the republican party must strive to see that their principles are better translated into practice, but Catholics in the democratic party must seriously address the errors in principle which the democrats have claimed on the issue of unborn human life, while simultaneously addressing the mistaken practices of the party which do not adequately defend unborn human life.

    To put it simply: for Republicans, being Catholic on the issue of abortion involves following through on their rhetoric. For Democrats, being Catholic on the issue of abortion involves reversing their rhetoric and changing course on a whole range of legislative proposals they have planned.

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    Myth: Catholic grassroots support Obama

    "Suddenly, Obama is the natural choice for Catholics."
    That's the only way I can describe the message being spread by numerous pro-Obama Catholic websites, organizations and a few prominent figures. I would submit this is the perfect example of a snowball phenomenon, made possibly by large amounts of money.
    First of all, while such arguments have been circulating since shortly after Obama clinched the nomination, they have rapidly crystallized and have mutually supported each other's emergence in the recent couple weeks, timed perfectly to sway the decision of 11th-hour independent voters, of whom, apparently Catholics comprise a significant majority, especially in crucial swing states.
    Whether planned or spontaneous, the end result is masterful. First, Doug Kmiec dipped his toe into the waters to test what the reaction would be to his public endorsement of Obama. The reaction, after he was (mistakenly) denied communion, was becoming a psuedo-martyr for his conscience and cause, a noble attempt to try a different way and give Obama a chance. Soon his boldness grew - an Obama vote morphed from an "acceptable" or "arguable" one, into the "natural" and even "obvious" one, one that could be made without "even a moment's consideration." There was a crack in the dam.
    Because timidity does not win arguments where one is unsure of one's position, subsequent Obama endorsements by Catholics have been very strong, even directly challenging and/or mocking of the traditional thinking on this topic. Obama's desire to repeal all restrictions on abortion is actually the path towards reducing abortions. Obama's own admission that Roe v. Wade hangs in the balance (a classic line used historically to scare women into voting democrat) is ... an enlightened approach that legislation is not the way to reduce abortion (indeed, Obama's legislative approach seems to be geared towards increasing abortion access). Obama's 100% rating by NARAL and 0% rating by the NRL is simply an expression that he is beyond the old politics of divisiveness and partisanship. Obama's criticism that McCain isn't enough in favor of expanding the creation and killing of embryos ... well, we won't talk about that.
    As you can see, the argument of the pro-Obama Catholics has to be very focused, and simply cannot respond to the counter-arguments. This is a particular application of the general (successful) campaign principle "never answer the question." As long as they decide what aspects of the Church's social teaching are to be observed, their candidate will always come out ahead.
    Stage two has been the proliferation of this tactic with big money, and I mean *really* big money, and the apread of the message through the media, whos eemingly ahve the pro-Catholic Obama spokespersons on speed dial. Once again, they get to create the narrative, and it remains unchallenged. It's the classic methodology of propaganda - be omnipresent and persistent.
    Catholics should be wary of this outreach for several reasons. Here is one of the most significant ones I think: it completely cuts out the American bishops, treating them like "middle men". Only the bishops aren't "middle men", we believe they are the guardians of the Church, and ought to play a significant role in forming the conscience of Catholics. Their position has been very clear, and I think some of their best are quickly getting wise to what is going on. The old silence doesn't work when the void is being filled with the chatterings of pro-Obama catholics. Regardless, the fact that the luminaries of the Catholic pro-Obama cause categorically refuse to dialogue with American bishops and other Catholic intellectuals is very telling.
    After all, they will still direct mailings to hundreds of thousands of Catholics in battleground states.
    Have no doubts about it. I think we are seeing a new thing here. A persistent, organized, well-funded attempt to hijack the social teaching of the Catholic Church among the next generation of Americans. If it proves as successful as I think it will be this election cycle, it will remain, by merit of its success, an active force in the next election, and so on. A response must be made, and the first step towards that response is admitting that a battle of interpretations is already taking place, and we are losing it.

    update: in a similar vein, SDG asks "Who gets to say what is Catholic?"

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    Sullivan, predictably, predicts Catholics for Obama in November

    I took issue with Amy Sullivan's last piece for Time Magazine on this topic ("Time Mag. asks: "Does Biden Have a Catholic Problem?"). In this current edition, she looks at the race from the perspective of the recent Al Smith dinner (previously blogged here - pictures & here - video).

    Head-scratching line:

    The slight [of not being invited to the Al Smith dinner in '92 and '96] was particularly painful for Bill Clinton, who developed an affinity for the Catholic Church as an undergraduate at Georgetown University.
    I'm sure he was real, real hurt. The disregard of the social teaching of the Church (where it differed from his own) throughout his presidency notwithstanding.

    Into her argument:

    Why then was Obama welcomed to the Al Smith Dinner, his hand on Cardinal Egan's shoulder as they chuckled together, while Kerry had to stay away? It helps that Obama is not Catholic. Some Catholics have criticized his support for abortion rights, but as he is not a member of their tradition, they don't feel the same need to sanction him. But more importantly, the political landscape for Catholics has changed since 2004.

    In a hierarchical tradition like Catholicism, debates don't happen very often. Right now, however, American Catholics are going through a revival of the arguments that took place in the 1980s between bishops who believed abortion ought to be the top political and moral focus of the church and the camp led by the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin that argued for a more "consistent ethic of life."

    Truncated initial conclusion:

    As a result, many Catholics can now argue that neither party fits precisely with Catholic social teaching — the Democratic position on abortion is still unacceptable but so are GOP positions on education and health care and the war in Iraq. This realization is reflected in changing party identification — as of this past February, 41% of Catholic voters called themselves Independents, an 11-point increase since 2004. And in opinion polls, Catholics are evenly divided between Obama and McCain.
    41%?! An 11% increase? Can that be correct?

    Amy claims a resurgence of the "progressive Catholic left":

    This [liberal Catholic] void, and Kerry's defeat, prompted a group of progressive Catholics to create their own infrastructure after 2004. When two young graduate students first launched Catholics United, they had $1,000 in seed money and were operating out of a dorm room. Four years later, the nonpartisan organization has more than 30,000 members and a $200,000 budget. This month they are sending a direct mail piece titled "What Does Being Pro-Life Really Mean?" to 50,000 Catholic households in Pennsylvania and Ohio. The same message is plastered across billboards in heavily Catholic swing states.
    This is a funny story considering today's revelation that two of the prominent liberal Catholic groups (including Catholics United), we now have reason to believe are funded by mega-billionaire progressive George Soros. What an awkward explanation for how these kids went from working out of their dorm room into their current opulence. Grassroots - or big money?

    Sullivan, in her clever way, spends a bit more time mentioning the various arguments put forward by pro-Obama Catholics (without mentioning the obvious factual replies), and then throws her hands up and says it's all about the economy. Sullivan seems to have a habit of sowing doubts about a long-presumed position, and then switching topics completely instead of providing the other side of the story, for she did this in her last article as well.

    Anyway, Amy:

    In a year like 2008, when the economy trumps social issues, Catholics are most likely to return to their roots in the Democratic Party. And that's particularly true when they hear fellow Catholics arguing that Democrats reflect their religious values.

    Indeed, for pro-Obama democrats have discovered the solution to Kerry's "Catholic problem" - simply ignore it. Simply claim there is no problem with Obama's position on abortion (and embryonic stem cell research), and suddenly he becomes a compelling candidate.

    Make no mistake, the final push to rope Catholics into the Obama camp is in full swing. It feels like a full-time job simply documenting the examples. Because of this volume, I'm just going to focus on one narrative myth advocated by Sullivan in my next post.

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    This November: the big picture

    Jim Manzi writing for the American Scene notes that this November, it's not just the presidency up for grabs. The democrats are also set to control both houses of congress, the only question is by how much:

    The exact size of the majority in the House is not as crucial as it is in the Senate, where a key point is reached right around 60 seats for Democrats, which, in theory, allows them to prevent a filibuster. Given that the marginal Democrats and marginal Republicans are not reliable party-line voters, getting very close to 60 will prevent some filibusters, hitting 60 will prevent a lot, and getting even slightly past 60 will prevent yet a lot more.

    What is the likelihood of this happening?

    Five Thirty Eight says:

    Senate projections are little changed from our last update six days ago. We currently project the composition of the new Senate to be 56.7 Democrats, 41.3 Republicans, and 2.0 independents; this is not significantly changed from 56.6-41.4-2.0 last week. We furthermore show the Democrats as having a 32 percent chance to control a 60-seat caucus (counting independents Joe Lieberman and Bernie Sanders), up incrementally from 30 percent last week.

    Also look at this Senate Map.

    MN is exactly tied, while GA, MS, and KY are "barely" GOP. NC, OR and AK are "barely" DNC.

    Why is it important to prevent a filibuster-proof DNC majority? From the perspective of building a culture of life in America, such a democrat majority would far increase the chances of radical legislation such as the "Freedom of Choice Act" of making into into law.

    That's really bad news.

    update: like it was planned by a higher power, Family Research Council has released its 2008 Congressional Voter's Guide - highly recommended, and spread the word.

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    Monday, October 20, 2008

    Coming out of the woodwork

    Why is it that all these catholics have waited until now to come out for Obama?

    It's not like he's new to the scene. Why the 11th-hour endorsement that serves to comfort Obama-leaning catholics that "people in high places agree with me", but does not allow time for a sustained debate about Obama's merits, or the merits of catholics voting for him.

    It's called a pile-on, and the gates are apparently wide open.

    Over the very same weekend that catholics in the pew heard the famous "render unto Caesar" gospel passage, numerous Catholics have decided who they are giving their denarius to this November.

    Lisa Sowle Cahill of Boston College criticizes the "partisanship" of American bishops in the National Catholic Reporter (I know - what a surprising venue for such views!):

    "Abortion is a moral tragedy for Catholics and many Americans. But when the Catholic church is perceived to be cheerleaders for one political party a rich faith tradition is badly damaged and loses its prophetic voice. Bishops should correct Catholic politicians who misrepresent Catholic teaching on life and justice issues in public interviews."
    Why is it impossible for some to see that the bishops aren't cheerleaders for one political party, they are cheerleaders for the unborn, who happen to be defended better by one party?! Why, when the vast majority of culprits who "misrepresent Catholic teaching on life and justice issues" are democrats, is it the bishops and republicans who are criticized for being partisan on this issue?

    M. Cathleen Kaveny of Notre Dame, meanwhile, does some philosophical gymnastics over at America:

    For many pro-life Catholics, the issue of voting and abortion comes down to this: what does one do if one thinks that the candidate more likely to reduce the actual incidence of abortion is also the one more committed to keeping it legal? The language of intrinsic evil does not help us here. Only the virtue of practical wisdom, enlightened by charity, can take us further.
    This might be an interesting thought experiment in another case, but in the practical situations presented to Americans this November, I can't see how it even applies. It's quite obvious that the occasion for this re-re-visiting of the obligation to eliminate "intrinsically evil" acts is prompted by the Obama candidacy and catholics desiring to vote for pro-choice politicians.

    It does not seem to me a hyper-expression of practical wisdom that the candidate who will proliferate embryonic stem cell research and sign the freedom of choice act into legislation will increase, not decrease, the number of unborn human lives exterminated in America each year. How can someone who sees abortion as an inaliable right of women that can never be questioned or challenged somehow the actual path to eliminating the scourge of abortion?

    CNA coverage of Cathleen Kaveny here.

    update: Grek Sisk has penned an excellent, lengthy rebuttal to Kaveny over at MOJ.

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    Video: The *real* Sarah Palin on SNL

    Something to get your Monday morning started!

    The opening:

    The "Palin rap":

    Wow - she's actually funny.

    Time for a contrast:

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    Sunday, October 19, 2008

    Abp. Chaput names, criticizes Obama and Kmiec openly in address

    Even though I'm running out the door, this story deserves coverage now:

    Archbishop criticizes Obama, Catholic allies (AP)

    Denver Roman Catholic Archbishop Charles Chaput labeled Barack Obama the "most committed" abortion-rights candidate from a major party in 35 years while accusing a Catholic Obama ally and other Democratic-friendly Catholic groups of doing a "disservice to the church."

    Chaput, one of the nation's most politically outspoken Catholic prelates, delivered the remarks Friday night at a dinner of a Catholic women's group.

    His comments were among the sharpest in a debate over abortion and Catholic political responsibility in a campaign in which Catholics represent a key swing vote.

    Coverage here from CNA and Zenit has the full text of the Archbishop's address.
    update, excerpt from Abp. Chaput on the "Catholic" argument for Obama:
    To suggest -- as some Catholics do -- that Senator Obama is this year’s “real” pro-life candidate requires a peculiar kind of self-hypnosis, or moral confusion, or worse. To portray the 2008 Democratic Party presidential ticket as the preferred “pro-life” option is to subvert what the word “pro-life” means.
    ... I think [Kmiecs'] activism for Senator Obama, and the work of Democratic-friendly groups like Catholics United and Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, have done a disservice to the Church, confused the natural priorities of Catholic social teaching, undermined the progress pro-lifers have made, and provided an excuse for some Catholics to abandon the abortion issue instead of fighting within their parties and at the ballot box to protect the unborn.
    ... The one genuinely new quality to Catholic arguments for Senator Obama is their packaging. Just as the abortion lobby fostered “Catholics for a Free Choice” to challenge Catholic teaching on abortion more than two decades ago, so supporters of Senator Obama have done something similar in seeking to neutralize the witness of bishops and the pro-life movement by offering a “Catholic” alternative to the Church’s priority on sanctity of life issues. I think it’s an intelligent strategy. I also think it’s wrong and often dishonest.

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    Friday, October 17, 2008

    "Save our Children!" says Bishop Robert Hermann

    The Archdiocesan Administrator who is running St. Louis until a replacement can be found for its previous shepherd Abp. Raymond Burke ... has issued an extraordinary exhortation to the Catholics under his care:

    "Save our children! More than anything else, this election is about saving our children or killing our children. This life issue is the overriding issue facing each of us in this coming election. All other issues, including the economy, have to take second place to the issue of life."

    ... Save our children! How can a so-called good Catholic vote for a candidate that supports laws that take the life of innocent children, when there is an alternative? If there were two candidates who supported abortion, but not equally, we would have the obligation to mitigate the evil by voting for the less-permissive candidate.

    ... Save our children! How can a so-called good Catholic vote for a candidate that supports laws that justify the killing of a child that survived a botched abortion? How can such a so-called good Catholic receive the Holy Eucharist?

    ... Save our children! I have no doubt that there may be some so-called good Catholics who are reading this column and who may be really angry about now. I ask the question "Why would such a person be angry?" If we do good deeds, then our conscience is at peace. If we do evil deeds, then our conscience bothers us. It is my hope that this column will lead some of our so-called good Catholics to study the Catholic Catechism.

    ... Save our children! Some of our so-called good Catholics may have hardened their hearts against the real understanding of induced abortions, that they can no longer see that this involves the destruction of our children. "If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts!"

    ... Save our children! Supporting induced abortions is not the greatest sin in the world. A greater sin is the refusal to repent of such a serious crime or the denial that this involves the killing of innocent children.

    ... Save our children! I have used this terminology again and again penetrate the defenses of anyone who in the past may have put personal, economic or political interests above the issue of saving our children. The right to life is our most fundamental right, and to defend this right on behalf of the most vulnerable is a great privilege and is worth giving one’s life for. Policemen and firemen always risk their lives to save human life. Why should we not risk our own reputation to save our children?"

    [Read his entire column.]

    His spiritual exhortation? Pray. the. rosary.

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    Videos: Obama and McCain roast one another

    McCain (video updated again - this one should be good):


    Oh my gosh, McCain comes off *so* much funnier than Obama.

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    Slideshow: Cardinal Egan, Obama & McCain together

    Al Smith was the first Catholic Presidential candidate. My father has one of his campaign buttons. Yesterday Cardinal Egan hosted both John McCain and Barack Obama at Al Smith's fundraising dinner:

    Coverage at WSJ.

    So what do you think of this?

    1. A perfect image of the Church transcending politics and bringing people together?
    2. A pitiful depiction of the worst sort of pandering for political expedience?
    3. An unconsciounable ignoring of the differences that truly divide us?
    4. A benefit dinner - what else?

    Obama's mind might have been elsewhere during the evening:

    Cardinal Edward Egan, Senator McCain, and Senator Obama were staged for their grand entrance in seating order. However, all did not go as planned.

    McCain's name was called, and the Republican nominee took the stage. Obama's name was called in the midst of the applause and he appeared to not hear and did not take the stage, producing an awkward moment where the Democratic presidential nominee was chatting unknowingly as people waited for him to take the stage.

    The announcer then went on to introduce Cardinal Egan instead.

    Obama was then introduced - for a second time - and he finally took the stage to sustained applause. (ABC)
    (Unendorsed) commentary at Commonweal. And interesting observations from the National Post.

    update: Diogenes is not pleased.

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    Thursday, October 16, 2008

    In the spotlight: Pro-Obama Catholics

    The question of whether one may, in good conscience, support Barack Obama as a Catholic after taking into account his positions and views will be an ongoing AmP feature leading up to the November election.

    After last night's debate, it's a perfect time to survey what top Catholic writers and intellectuals are saying about the decision-making process, and about the recent minority phenomenon of (militant, vocal) Catholic Obama supporters.

    As an important qualification - one that I thought could be presumed but judging from the comments and emails is evidently not apparent - arguments that raise questions about the prudence of voting for Obama do not necessarily constitute an argument for a McCain vote. That's a separate question, and while I realize a consideration of either men does not occur in a vacuum, it is crucial to realize that my reservations about Obama are not the result of a prior decision that McCain is the right candidate. That said.

    Point one: Some people are arguing stridently that Obama is the more acceptable candidate to Catholics.

    Point two: When Archbishop Wuerl was presented with the dominant strains of the pro-Obama argument by Catholic journalist John Allen, he repudiated them.

    Point three: Robby George has published a comprehensive overview of Obama's positions on the life issues, and talks about an often-neglected aspect of Obama's anti-life views, namely, his desire to proliferate embryonic stem cell research:

    But for a moment let's suppose, against all the evidence, that Obama's proposals would reduce the number of abortions, even while subsidizing the killing with taxpayer dollars. Even so, many more unborn human beings would likely be killed under Obama than under McCain. A Congress controlled by strong Democratic majorities under Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi would enact the bill authorizing the mass industrial production of human embryos by cloning for research in which they are killed. As president, Obama would sign it. The number of tiny humans created and killed under this legislation (assuming that an efficient human cloning technique is soon perfected) could dwarf the number of lives saved as a result of the reduced demand for abortion-even if we take a delusionally optimistic view of what that number would be.

    He sandwiches this point around two statements:

    "I have examined the arguments advanced by Obama's self-identified pro-life supporters, and they are spectacularly weak. It is nearly unfathomable to me that those advancing them can honestly believe what they are saying...

    ... In the end, the efforts of Obama's apologists to depict their man as the true pro-life candidate that Catholics and Evangelicals may and even should vote for, doesn't even amount to a nice try. Voting for the most extreme pro-abortion political candidate in American history is not the way to save unborn babies."

    Point Four: George Weigel in Newsweek has also heard the arguments and contributes in his response a summary of the current situation and a prediction of the future should Obama win:

    The argument [of pro-Obama Catholics] is, some might contend, a bold one. Yet it is also counterintuitive, running up against the fact that, by most measures and despite his rhetoric about reducing the incidence of abortion, Barack Obama has an unalloyed record of support for abortion on demand. Moreover, he seems to understand Roe vs. Wade and subsequent Supreme Court decisions as having defined abortion as a fundamental liberty right essential for women's equality, meaning that government must guarantee access to abortion in law and by financial assistance—a moral judgment and a policy prescription the pro-life Catholic Obama boosters say they reject.

    About the growing boldness of the American bishops, he observes:

    Many U.S. bishops, in other words, seem exasperated with Catholic politicians who present themselves as ardent Catholics and yet consistently oppose the Church on what the bishops consider the premier civil-rights issue of the day. It seems unlikely that the bishops, having found their voices after discovering the limits of their patience, will back off in an Obama administration—which could raise some interesting questions for, and about, a Vice President Joe Biden, whose fitness to receive holy communion may well be discussed in executive session at the bishops' annual meeting in mid-November.

    Indeed, the questions and problems we are facing now will only increase - dramatically - if this will come to pass. I join Weigel in waiting to see what the likes of Kmiec, Kaveny and Cafardi will have to say about this. I'll be here, blogging about it when that happens, but I'm not looking forward to it.

    As context to this whole debate, let's add a few remaining points.

    Point five: Raymond Arroyo notes that this remains a seriously open question mostly to those who have not examined the questions carefully and at length:

    "The real swing voters in this election will be the Easter/Christmas Catholics — those who infrequently attend church, but consider themselves in the fold. They too will be influenced by the cultural tug of the faith described above. How to capitalize on the inherent tendencies of Catholic voters will be for the candidates to discover. But it will take real savvy and sensitivity to win over this block — and a few novenas couldn’t hurt."

    Point six: But for all that, ignorance of Obama's true positions are not just found among Catholics. Average Americans are decidedly more pro-life than Obama:

    A new national poll of Americans finds a large majority take one of three pro-life positions opposing all or most abortions. The survey also finds more than one-quarter of people who say they are "pro-choice" on abortion really take a pro-life position against abortions.

    Some 60 percent of Americans say abortions should never be allowed or only in the rarest of circumstances, such as rape and incest, that constitution less than two percent of all abortions nationwide. (LifeNews)

    Point seven: Amazing as it might seem, I'm approaching this issue not just because of the upcoming election. Obviously we stand at a crossroads and Catholics have a critical part to play in the upcoming election. But we also have a critical part to play the whole year round, year by year, in forming a culture of life. Election moments, especially when candidates such as Obama are on the ballot, provide special opportunities to examine how, as Catholics, we form our conscience and prudentially strive to participate in building that culture of life.

    I'll leave off at this point since I've already compiled a huge amount of information here to read through.

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    Wednesday, October 15, 2008

    Open thread: final presidential debate {updated}

    High stakes, McCain's last chance to change the trajectory - yadda, yadda. What do you think?

    update: the abortion question came up as the second-to-last question. I am aware of several grassroots efforts that petitioned the moderator to ask such a question, though I'm not sure those are directly responsible for it being asked tonight.

    There is much to talk about here, but I'll summarize my impression (and I'll wait to comment further until I have access to a transcript): I think McCain missed a golden opportunity to press Obama on his pro-abortion positions. I can't even feel confident that McCain is aware of these positions or gives them much priority. Obama's support of FOCA and repealing the Hyde amendment are two examples of his radical positions that polling shows are unappealing to the American populace. Moreover: I have never heard Obama say before that he supports a ban on partial birth abortion (can someone track this down?) - such a position cannot co-exist with his unwavering support of abortion on demand, and on removing all restrictions to abortion access.

    I think the question posed about supreme court justices gave us a small taste of what we simply have not seen in the debates this far - substantive questions about moral issues and cultural ones. What a difference a fourth debate might have made. The fact that Obama was so on the ropes and so disadvantaged when these topics came up would account heavily, I would argue, for his repetative insistence that all American's really care about is the economy ... surely we do, but we care about so much more. Economies ebb and flow, but the moral and cultural fabric is what sustains a nation throughout good times and bad. How will Obama support the government policies that will allow us to remain a great nation regardless of whether we are rich or poor?

    Anyway, waiting for the transcript, the video, and the fact checks....

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    Tuesday, October 14, 2008

    Texas bishops firmly rule out common justifications for Catholic pro-abortion voting

    I have just finished reading an extraordinary document that was sent to me over the weekend. I have only just now come to it as I was catching up on my email correspondence. It is a two-page bulletin insert issued by Bishop Kevin Farrell of Dallas and Bishop Kevin Vann of Fort Worth.

    The Dallas website already has a note claiming the joint letter has "generated much discussion", but the bishops respond that they intended only to "clarify Catholic doctrine", not endorse or rule out specific candidates.

    But what they have said is so clear, however, that either they must be reprimanded and/or contradicted by subsequent bishops/competent Church authorities or the claim made by some, that one may vote for a pro-abortion politician even when there is a pro-life politician in the race ... is false, at least in the concrete situation of America today.

    Don't believe it? Let's follow what the document says, point-by-point. If I had to describe it in a phrase: "game changer."

    [It should be quickly noted, as well, that the bishops are being attacked for this statement. Local reports say people have walked out of the churches where this letter was read, one person claimed "My bishop basically told me that if I vote for Barack Obama, I will go to hell", others have suggested an IRS audit and said "you’ve got feet; don’t be afraid to use them."]

    Points one and two summarize the continued teaching of the Church that "not all issues have the same moral equivalence" and the destruction of the unborn "undercuts the basic human right to life ... [and] also subverts and distorts the common good."

    Point Three, ellucidates these claims (all formatting, by the way, is in the original document):
    "Therefore, we cannot make more clear the seriousness of the overriding issue of abortion – while not the “only issue” – it is the defining moral issue, not only today, but of the last 35 years. Since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, more than 48 million innocent lives have been lost. Each year in our nation more than one million lives are lost through legalized abortion. Countless other lives are also lost through embryonic stem cell research. In the coming months our nation will once again elect our political leaders. This electoral cycle affords us an opportunity to promote the culture of life in our nation. As Catholics we are morally obligated to pray, to act, and to vote to abolish the evil of abortion in America, limiting it as much as we can until it is finally abolished."
    Now here is where the rubber begins to hit the road. Point Four anticipates a common response to the above position, and rules it out:
    "As Catholics we are faced with a number of issues that are of concern and should be addressed, such as immigration reform, healthcare, the economy and its solvency, care and concern for the poor, and the war on terror. As Catholics we must be concerned about these issues and work to see that just solutions are brought about. There are many possible solutions to these issues and there can be reasonable debate among Catholics on how to best approach and solve them. These are matters of “prudential judgment.” But let us be clear: issues of prudential judgment are not morally equivalent to issues involving intrinsic evils. No matter how right a given candidate is on any of these issues, it does not outweigh a candidate’s unacceptable position in favor of an intrinsic evil such as abortion or the protection “abortion rights.” (Italics original)
    My summary: Matters of prudential judgement - including health care, the economy, concern for the poor and the war on terror - do not equal matters of intrinsic evil, and it does not matter how right a candidate is on the former if he opposes the latter. That's what this document teaches. Prudential matters, even many of them, do not outweigh the intrisic evil of abortion in America today.

    Point Five responds to the "but I'm not voting for this candidate because they are pro-abortion, I'm voting 'despite' their position on the issue of abrtion" (the most - and indeed really only -common counter-argument proposed by Catholic thinkers today):

    "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, in paragraphs 34-37, addresses the question of whether it is morally permissible for a Catholic to vote for a candidate who supports an intrinsic evil – even when the voter does not agree with the candidate’s position on that evil. The only moral possibilities for a Catholic to be able to vote in good conscience for a candidate who supports this intrinsic evil are the following:

    a. If both candidates running for office support abortion or “abortion rights,” a Catholic would be forced to then look at the other important issues and through their vote try to limit the evil done; or,

    b. If another intrinsic evil outweighs the evil of abortion. While this is sound moral reasoning, there are no “truly grave moral” or proportionate” reasons, singularly or combined, that could outweigh the millions of innocent human lives that are directly killed by legal abortion each year.

    To vote for a candidate who supports the intrinsic evil of abortion or “abortion rights” when there is a morally acceptable alternative would be to cooperate in the evil – and, therefore, morally impermissible."

    My summary: I can't say it more clearly than they have. I've said it before, but I can apply it to the debate. Here is the shift in the debate the Texas bishops are proposing: "As Catholics, one must prove there is not a morally acceptable alternative to voting for a pro-choice politician." In other words, one must claim it is not even morally acceptable to refrain from voting for that candidate!

    It is possible, I admit, that the Texas bishops are presuming that one will vote one way or the other, in which case the shift still remains: one must prove how there is no moral alternative to actually voting for a pro-choice candidate. This is, of course, a very tall order, indeed - because the document has said that in the situation of America today there are no issue which can outweigh abortion.

    Again, that is what the document says. I admit I could be missing something - in which case I'm waiting to have it pointed out. But if I am right, then either the Texas bishops are wrong about Church teaching, or a common argument claimed by some Catholics is wrong. I don't see how the two positions can co-exist in the situation as it exists in America today for catholics.

    Point Six moves further still, reminding Catholics that voting is never morally neutral:
    In conclusion, as stated in Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, the decisions we make on these political and moral issues affect not only the general peace and prosperity of society at large, but also may affect each individual’s salvation. As Catholics, we must treat our political choices with appropriate moral gravity and in doing so, realize our continuing and unavoidable obligation to be a voice for the voiceless unborn, whose destruction by legal abortion is the preeminent intrinsic evil of our day. With knowledge of the Church’s teaching on these grave matters, it is incumbent upon each of us as Catholics to educate ourselves on where the candidates running for office stand on these issues, particularly those involving intrinsic evils. May God bless you. (underlining original - bolding mine)
    My conclusion:

    Does this mean every Catholic in every election in America will vote the same way when there is a pro-abortion politician running against a pro-life one? No, it doesn't. It does mean, however, that a common argument used to justify voting for the pro-abortion option has been thoroughly ruled-out by this statement. I don't see how they can be any more clear.

    It goes without saying that I applaud and thank the bishops for the gift of this clear teaching. I would claim that it agrees in substance with the position I have been arguing for months in my writings. But I do not speak with authority - they do. One can ignore my arguments and conclusions, but a Catholic is bound to listen to the guidance and arguments of his shepherds. I find myself agreeing with both.

    What do you say?

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    Noonan doesn't know who she is voting for

    Via HotAir:

    I disagree with Allahpundit's claim that it's Obama's rhetorical skill that Noonan is attracted to. As I read her most recent book, I more get the impression that what she appreciates is Obama's sense that this is an important election, and that Americans must fundamentally re-think how they approach politics.
    Of course, that's what Obama aspires to, but has failed to practice in his political career thus far. So I'm really not sure what she's in the air about. Sounds like hot air to me, in fact.

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    Video: Obama and Palin on abortion

    First, Sarah Palin connecting the dots:

    Via GodSpy.

    Now see Obama at Planned Parenthood:

    Note the contrast.

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    Hadley Arkes on the economy v. abortion

    Hadley Arkes on why the question of abortion is important, even in times of economic downturn, as he writes today for the The Catholic Thing. Good afternoon reading.

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    Thursday, October 09, 2008

    In Obama's crosshairs: Abortion alternatives

    Pregnancy centers across the country that provide women with abortion alternatives could be shut down or face severe regulations if Barack Obama wins next month. That's because a bill targeting pregnancy centers could easily be approved in a pro-abortion Congress and land on Obama's desk.

    Obama has already promised pro-abortion groups like Planned Parenthood and NARAL that he will be their lap dog in the White House and these are the groups leading the effort to pass the bill.

    Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey reintroduced the bill in April in the Senate and issued a statement alleging that pregnancy centers mislead women by giving them information on abortion's risks and alternatives.

    The so-called "Stop Deceptive Advertising for Women’s Services Act" would place burdensome regulations on pregnancy centers.

    It would also force the Federal Trade Commission to create and enforce rules to prohibit deceptive practices that pregnancy centers say they never use to reach women -- such as advertising under the "abortion services" section of the phone book.

    I don't think it's that unlikely a scenario. Pregnancy centers are a huge factor in immediatly, effectively reducing the incidence of abortion in this country. They are, morever, in the eyes of Planned Parenthood and professional abortion providers - "competition" in the reproductive services market. And we all know that PP doesn't mind bending and breaking the rules when it can get away with it.

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    Wednesday, October 08, 2008

    Does Obama support universal coverage for abortion?

    John McCormack on the Weekly Standard Blog:

    Dduring a campaign conference call about health care yesterday, I asked Obama-Biden surrogate Gov. Kathleen Sebelius if Obama's health care plan would mandate coverage for all legal abortions.

    "I really don’t know the specifics of that," she replied. An Obama-Biden spokesman told me via email that he'd find an answer to my question. But subsequent emails and phone calls in the past 24 hours from me to Obama-Biden spokesmen have gone unanswered.

    Apparently the Obama-Biden campaign doesn't think it needs to provide basic factual information about their candidate's health care plan. Will any one in the mainstream media hold Obama accountable?

    Family Research Council notes:

    If abortion coverage is an element of Obama's plan, a poll commissioned by FRC earlier this year shows that it would be to his detriment. A majority of voters (56%) said they would be "less likely" to vote for a presidential candidate proposing universal abortion coverage compared to 31% who would be "more likely" to support such a candidate.

    So of course the Obama campaign wouldn't make the "yes" explicit if they could avoid it.

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    Open thread: reactions to the debate

    I watched about the first hour of it or so. I found the conversation monotonous.
    Sure, the economy, health care, foreign policy and energy are important topics, but they are not the only topics, and yet these were the only things talked about.

    Fred Barnes agrees:

    "The problem was the questions .... No doubt there were some questions that would have surprised McCain and Obama or caught them off-guard or forced a moment on candor. But those weren’t asked.

    The candidates were queried on a narrow range of foreign, economic, health care, and environmental issues--the stuff they talk about every day at rallies and fundraisers. These didn’t come close to what voters at a real town hall meeting might have asked. There was no mention of abortion, immigration, moral values, same sex marriage, guns, their role models, their view of the presidency, or their religious faith.

    ... The result was questions that reflected what interests an East Coast newsman.

    ... Oddly enough, it wasn’t a journalist who staged the best debate between McCain and Obama. It was an ordained minister, Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in California, the author of best-selling The Purpose-Driven Life. In separate sessions, he asked the same questions, first of McCain, then of Obama. Their answers gave voters a far better idea of what makes the two candidates tick than all the policy-reality questions asked in the two official presidential debates and one vice presidential debate.

    So what did you think? Who did better? Did your opinions on anything change? Any off-hand observations?

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    Obama supporter resigns for Franciscan University Board

    I mentioned the case of Nicholas Cafardi briefly when he published an article in the National Catholic Reporter. Here's what I identified at the time as objectionable in his article:
    • Selective reading of Faithful Citizenship which ignored key passages
    • Despair at ever overturning Roe and exhortation that we should get over it
    • False claim that McCain and Obama are identical on ESCR
    • Gross overstatements about the new DNC platform's language regarding abortion
    • False claim that reducing poverty outweighs the DNC plan to liberalize abortion legally
    • False claim that republicans have more total moral baggage than Democrats

    50+ comments later, today's headline rolled into my inbox: "Obama Supporter Dr. Cafardi Resigns from Franciscan University Board." Before this happened, Franciscan University of Steubenville issued a press release saying Cafardi's views did not reflect those of the University.

    The University also quickly moved to distance itself and its president "stressed that Dr. Cafardi's resignation from the board of Franciscan University was voluntary and had in no way been requested by the University" and added that he was "grateful" for Cafardi's letter, as Deal Hudson chronicles. In fact, a group of University students protested a schedule lecture by Cafardi at Carlow College in Pittsburg.

    Cafardi is the former dean of the Duquesne University Law School. He was quickly criticized for his public position, and you can bet Steubenville received plenty of complaints as well.

    My take: I think Steubenville handled this situation very well, and Cafardi's (publicly) voluntary resignation was probably the best way to handle it.

    I wonder what would happen if Doug Kmiec was still at Catholic University as he energetically seeks to convert Catholics into Obama supporters. I have noted that recent press releases for his Pro-Life Pro-Obama media center now include an asterisked line stating clearly that his views are his own and do not represent Pepperdine University.

    And, as an aside, it's also fairly evident to me that Kmiec has given up his attempts to have an intellectual debate about his position - he's just part of the Obama faith outreach machine at this point.

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    Tuesday, October 07, 2008

    BeliefNet notices Fidelis' "Anti-Abortion, Anti-Gay Marriage Video"

    It might seem odd to say this, but it makes sense if you know Beliefnet, but anyway ... for an "outsiders" prospective on the innitiative of Fidelis, and particularly their stunning video on Catholic voting, click here.
    I think the author, Dan Gilgoff, would make great strides in understanding this "phenomenon" if he realized that the motivation behind this project is not partisan in the way that so many pro-Democratic faith-based outreaches are.
    Rather, these "conservative" Catholics genuinly believe they are applying the social teaching of the Church in an authentic manner. Knowing what one must render to God informs how we approach the things of Caesar.
    That's belief in action, as strange as it may appear to some.
    I've significantly expanded this post over at the CatholicVote blog.

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    Monday, October 06, 2008

    Video: The current financial woes and the cause of them

    I'm sure most people are reading the headlines ("Dow plunges 800 points amid global sell-off").

    Considering the importance of the topic, I think this video bears re-posting (yes, it's back up):

    The simple fact of the matter, as I see it, is that Democrat policies led more to this current crisis than Republican ones, and that more government involvement was the cause of this problem, and will not be the solution.

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    Video: SNL on the VP debate

    Easing into Monday, something to lighten the load....

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    Thursday, October 02, 2008

    Tonight's VP Debate - Predictions

    This post will morph into an open thread (+live blogging maybe) when the debate starts tonight at 8pm. Here's what I'm reading to prepare:

    I do think Palin will exceed expectations.

    What are your predictions/thoughts?

    update: Yes I did watch the debate, but unfortunately at a location away from a blogging apparatus. I'm still forming my opinion. I would note quickly that Biden, true to form, reminded us of his pro-abortion stance by saying one of his reasons for objecting to the nomination of Robert Bork as a supreme court justice was that he might have opposed Roe. (Heaven forbid, right?)

    Brian Burch at the blog said in response:

    "I couldn’t help but recall the recent letter of Cardinal Francis George, who wrote: “one cannot favor the legal status quo on abortion and also be working for the common good.” Biden clearly supports the legal status quo, and presumably, expanding the legal status quo (with Sen. Obama) in favor of the Freedom of Choice Act."

    I think Palin handled herself very well, especially considering her relative inexperience (five weeks on the national scene against Biden's +30 years), and the low expectations she was greeted with as a result of her recent imperfect interviews. I knew she could do better than those one-sided interviews revealed, partly because I pulled up archived video of her previous debates when running for Governor of Alaska, which helped tremendously in her victory then.

    The reaction I'm seeing on the right is extremely positive (which is to be expected), and even on the left, begrudgingly complimentary. What about "average joe six-pack" and America's hockey moms?

    Well it seemed like they just loved it.

    Finally, while Palin relied heavily on McCain campaign talking points, her personality did shine through from time to time. Biden, on the other hand, only had his talking points, and those change depending on the election cycle, his current campaign, and recent polling. As far as the debate itself, he did have more knowledge of the facts (noticed how much it focused on foreign policy - to Biden's clear advantage) and benefited from some early Palin stage jitters.

    Call me cynical, but sophism seems to be the key to political survival these days.... and woe to us.

    I'm also very pleased to see the healthy debate proceeding in this comment box - keep it coming!

    (Oh, and the beginning photo/caption on this post was hilarious!)

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    Michael Novak takes on "Catholics for Obama"

    The entire article is illuminating reading, but I excerpt Michale Novak's reaction to one of the arguments de jour of the new pro-Obama Catholic apologists (underlining mine):

    The other reason for supporting Obama that some Catholic leftists put forward is that very little in reducing abortions has been accomplished by the Republican party in the years since President Reagan. Is that claim true?

    Well, President Bush did sign the two acts of legislation that Obama opposed in their state forms, the ban on partial-birth abortion and the Born Alive Infant Protection Act. These acts do not seriously alter the number of annual abortions. But they do establish in law the fundamental principle of the natural rights of infants in the womb. They treat these human individuals as worthy of respect and they defend their rights to live and breathe and continue growing into adults.

    Two formidable obstacles have prevented Republican presidents from going farther. The first is heavy resistance from most Democrats (who until recently were driving pro-life Democrats out of party leadership) and some Republicans (country-club Republicans, mostly). The second is furious resistance from the liberal judiciary (mostly country-club liberals) at almost every higher level.

    It is mind-twisting for reasonable people to discern how leftist Democrats think Obama will change his abortion stripes, and then go farther than President George W. Bush (boo! hiss!) in promoting a culture of life. Most of those who will vote for Obama do not think Obama is pro-life. Why should a few leftist Catholics?

    Exactly. If Obama were actually the candidate that a few leftist Catholics claim him to be, that means the vast majority of people voting for Obama don't know what he is about. This is a deception being played upon Catholics on a grand scale, and the rank-and-file Obama planners and strategists know it.

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    NY bishops' voting guide: abortion outweighs health care, Roe & FOCA crucial

    I think this statement released yesterday by the NY bishops conference is very important because it responds to the recently-popularized argument that some pro-choice candidates could actually reduce abortions through their other policies - such as poverty reduction and health care - and thus Catholics could vote for them.
    As a faithful Catholic, I think both these policies hold great merit, but if pursuing them means electing someone who will allow and promote the destruction of unborn life along the way, then it is an evil means and cannot be chosen. Catholics are more than utilitarians. And killing some children so that others may have a higher quality of life is the most brutal of utilities.
    For a summary of what the New York bishops say, see LifeNews.

    For their full original document, click here (recommended).

    An excerpt from the statement (underlining mine):

    It is the rare candidate who will agree with the Church on every issue. But as the U.S. Bishops’ recent document Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship makes clear, not every issue is of equal moral gravity. The inalienable right to life of every innocent human person outweighs other concerns where Catholics may use prudential judgment, such as how best to meet the needs of the poor or to increase access to health care for all.

    Did you catch that? The right to life outweighs other concerns, such as universal health care. Universal health care and meeting the needs of the poor is important, but both are logically secondary to having life in the first place. You have to be alive to be poor or need health care. The unborn are the poorest and the most in need of "health care."

    The very first "important questions for political candidates" posed by the NY bishops:
    • Do you agree with the need to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, which struck down all state laws criminalizing abortion and established a woman’s “right” to abort her unborn child in the womb?
    • Do you oppose the state’s “Reproductive Health & Privacy Protection Act” or the federal “Freedom of Choice Act” which both go beyond Roe v. Wade, guaranteeing a fundamental right to abortion with no restrictions or regulations?

    The clear teaching of the NY bishops here is that Roe cannot be tolerated by Catholics in good conscience. We cannot give up the fight to tear down unjust and immoral laws. Furthermore, any candidate who actively supports guaranteeing the right to abortion through FOCA, is actively abetting the murder of children.

    Simply put, one cannot reduce abortions by promoting them. One cannot vote for someone who will promote abortions and convince oneself honestly that he or she has the best good of unborn children at heart.

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    Tuesday, September 30, 2008

    Obama v. Babies

    If you are looking for a simple, succinct, chilling overview of Obama and the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act controversy, see Hadley Arkes.

    Meanwhile, Jill Stanek fact checks, which as I said in my last post on this topic, makes the best possible attempt at a counter-claim. is also asking for support to spread its message.

    As Hadley Arkes mentions above, the Obama camp is playing very aggressively on this issue (almost for broke), trying to make reverse political profit on it.

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    Monday, September 29, 2008

    Palin Jitters

    I'm sad to agree with Brian Saint-Paul's assessment. I think the coaching that Sarah Palin has been receiving to prepare her for Thursday's VP debate is hurting, not helping her ability to perform well under pressure.

    Related: Breaking Sarah?

    also Related ... this sick scheme: "Donate to Planned Parenthood in Palin's name."

    Ph/t: AmP Reader Jake.

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    Friday, September 26, 2008

    Obama or McCain? Try Starbucks or Walmart.

    Even though the two candidates are viewed favorably by about the same number of people, there are some big cultural splits. Of people who get their coffee at Starbucks, 52 percent favor Obama while 39 percent prefer McCain. Of people who frequent Wal-Mart, 58 percent favor McCain while 33 percent prefer Obama.
    Actually, espresso trumps politics in my consumption habits.

    Ph/t: Todd M. Ahliaro of IC.

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    Thursday, September 25, 2008

    The"Freedom of Choice" Act: A wolf waiting in the shadows

    Barack Obama promised a group of prominant abortion advocates that his "very first" act as President would be to sign the Freedom of Choice Act into law.

    Such a law, it has been predicted, would result in many, many more abortions in America each year:

    FOCA is usually reported as “codifying Roe v. Wade,” but it is much more. Since the Webster and Casey decisions in 1989 and 1992, the Supreme Court has allowed states to limit abortion somewhat by such things as requiring parental involvement and informed consent, prohibiting government funding of most abortion, and more recently outlawing most partial birth abortions.

    Specifically, if FOCA is passed it will increase abortions by 125,000 more per year in the United States. Since 2004, Dr. Michael New has published studies with the Heritage Foundation showing that a large reduction in abortions can be attributed to these three kinds of laws. (LifeNews)

    Such grim statistics really put the lie to the claim that the democrat platform intends to reduce the overall number of abortions in America each year. As much as their social plans may reduce the occurance of abortion incedentally, it is a known fact that their legal proposals will increase the occurance of abortion directly and dramatically.

    The American bishops are aware of this fact as well, and Cardinal Regali, the chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities has written to congress:
    Cardinal Justin Rigali sent the letter to Congress on Friday and warned against enactment of the proposed bill (S. 1173, H.R. 1964).

    “Despite its deceptive title,” he wrote, “FOCA would deprive the American people in all 50 states of the freedom they now have to enact modest restraints and regulations on the abortion industry."

    He added: "FOCA would coerce all Americans into subsidizing and promoting abortion with their tax dollars. And FOCA would counteract any and all sincere efforts by government to reduce abortions in our country.”

    Cardinal Rigali, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, wrote that, under FOCA, “abortion on demand would be a national entitlement that government must condone and promote in all public programs affecting pregnant women.”

    While some have said the bill would simply codify the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, he added, supporters of FOCA say it “would sweep away hundreds of anti-abortion laws [and] policies” that are now in effect because they do not conflict with Roe.

    These include bans on public funding of abortions as well as “modest and widely supported state laws” protecting women’s safety, informed consent and parental rights.

    With his letter, Cardinal Rigali enclosed a legal analysis by the bishops’ Office of General Counsel documenting the extreme legal impact of FOCA. (LifeNews)
    You can read the cardinal's letter here (PDF) and the legal analysis here (PDF). Zenit provides a summary.

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    Wednesday, September 24, 2008

    Humane Society endorses Obama, dislikes Palin

    And they included these comparison pictures between Obama and Palin:

    The Weekly Standard blog explains:
    "All Animals Are Equal, But ... wolves are more equal than caribou, says the Humane Society in its endorsement of Barack Obama. The Humane Society Legislative Fund's president writes that the group has never before endorsed a presidential candidate, but Sarah Palin simply poses too great of a threat to animals."
    Maybe they didn't hear that Obama has gone spearfishing before - and enjoyed it! McCain fishes catfish.

    It's a good thing popes have never needed the endorsement of the HS because I'm fairly sure most of them have hunted live game at some point in their life. Can anyone back up my hunch (say, with a photo)?

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    Tuesday, September 23, 2008

    Joseph Bottum sums things up

    Joseph Bottum, editor of First Things, has an excellent piece in the UK Weekly Standard that sums up well about twenty or so stories that AmP has been covering in recent months regarding catholics and American politics.
    I urge you to read the whole article, but if don't have time, at least note his conclusion (underlining mine):

    "And yet, there remains that question of abortion. Things have tightened over the last few years, the Catholic position is firmer in the public's mind--firmer in the Catholic mind, for that matter. McCain was a long way from the pro-lifers' first choice for a Republican nominee, but the Democrats this election cycle are determined to force the issue. They've pushed, and they've pushed, and they've pushed, until Catholics are falling off the cliff. Poor Doug Kmiec and his sad question, "Can a Catholic Support Him?" As a matter of good conscience, the answer looks increasingly like no, a Catholic can't support Obama. And as a matter of political fact--well, that's starting to look like no, as well, isn't it?"

    Of course, it's better to earn this conclusion after following Bottum's extended analysis.

    If you don't agree with Bottum's conclusion, please at least read the entirety of his piece before objecting.

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    Biden bad, Palin good, for Catholic vote

    Biden bad - the author claims that 55 bishops have responded to Biden thus far?!

    Palin good - note that regular Mass attendees choose against Obama more often.

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    Thursday, September 18, 2008

    Bishops invite presidential candidates for a sit-down

    They're saying "stop on by!":

    Leaders of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) have invited both major party presidential candidates to meet with them before the election, reportedly to discuss social issues. The bishops who would attend any such meeting are chairmen of USCCB committees on pro-life issues, education, migration, international affairs and communications.

    A spokeswoman for the McCain campaign told the Wall Street Journal that the Republican senator wants to accept the invitation, but does not know if he can fit a meeting into his schedule.

    Sister Mary Ann Walsh, Media Director of the USCCB, confirmed to CNA that neither candidate has accepted the invitation yet. (CNA)

    As I've noted before, McCain has squeezed-in meetings with several bishops during his journies across the states. Obama? Not-a-one (that I've seen reported, anyway).
    Again, this really makes me wonder about the sincerity of Obama's Catholic outreach, when he himself refuses to pursue a meeting with our bishops and the head of his Catholic outreach committee refuses to debate any notable Catholic representatives.

    Basically, it makes me think they just want our votes, not our input.

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    Wednesday, September 17, 2008

    Picture: The Obama bumper sticker you won't see

    Tuesday, September 16, 2008

    "Why the Democratic Abortion Strategy is Worse"

    Monday, September 15, 2008

    Video: Born Alive Truth (+ links/commentary) is trying to spread awareness about Obama's record of voting (four times) against the Illinois Born Alive Infants Protection Act. BornAliveTruth just released a $350,000-funded TV spot:

    I thought it interesting that the partial-birth abortion survivor's name is Gianna. Saint Gianna Beretta Molla is perhaps the most famous pro-life saint of the 20th century. I wonder if there is a connection.
    Jill Stanek, who is deeply involved in this issue, updates us on the initial Obama-camp response:

    "We're hearing from the media Obama's people are telling them they have no comment on the Gianna ad, that Obama didn't vote for Born Alive because it would undermine Roe. Even if that were true, which it is not, am I hearing Obama admit he supports infanticide if it would otherwise interfere with legalized abortion."

    By way of comparison, note this observation by the TV spot's accompanying press release:

    "Legislation identical to the proposed Illinois law was passed by the U.S. Senate (before Obama became a US Senator) by a vote of 98-0. This included even the most adamant pro-choice Senators."

    Obama has tried to claim that the Senate legislation was not "identical", but the facts simply do not support his claim, as I blogged previously. In fact, he went so far as to call those who disagree with him about this factual matter "liars." Calling truth-tellers "liars" never wins points in my book.

    Jill Stanek isn't letting Obama's media team confuse the issue, and says "Stick to the Obama/Born Alive talking points." Until they respond to those forthrightly they simply haven't got a case. We're still waiting on that one.

    Now, in the interest of fairness - because I do believe the facts are on BornAliveTruth's side when it comes to this contested issue - Reproductive Health Reality Check mounts the best defense it can. (RHRC is ultra-liberal in its promotion of abortion, contraception, etc.)

    I contend, however, that all RHRC succeeds in doing is to demonstrate that Obama vigilantly safeguards abortion rights in any and all circumstances. The supreme "right" to abortion-on-demand is a core value of his that trumps all other human rights issues, and it is, moreover, an issue intimately wrapped-up in the "politics as usual" of the Democrat party that he constantly claims to have moved beyond.

    Either way, BornAliveTruth makes an important point.

    update: thanks to a reader who notes that also vetted this controversy extensively. From my reading, it seems to me an unfair claim to say that Obama "supports infanticide." I do think, however, that it is clear he is prepared and committed to defending abortion to its extreme limit (e.g., you can kill a child as long as it has not yet taken a breath outside its mother's womb).

    Moreover, does point out that Obama and his surrogates have essentially switched their explanation in regards to the motivations and details surrounding Obama's votes.

    What happened? My take: A junior state senator played local Democrat party politics to the advantage of the moment and is now trying to retroactively gloss-over his decisions when appearing in a national spotlight, with a national election at stake.

    Again, either way, BornAliveTruth makes an important point.

    update 2: Stanek responds:

    "... if you listen to the audio recently released [link includes transcript] of Obama's 2002 SenateFloor speech on Born Alive, you can come to no other conclusion than that he supports infanticide.

    In the clip he admits babies may survive abortions but a 2nd physician shouldn't be called to assess and resuscitate the baby because it would place a "burden" on the "original decision" of the mother to abort. What else is that if not supporting infanticide?"

    Obama's point is this (and it takes some effort to glean what he is saying): providing a safety net of a second doctor to ensure that children accidentally born alive during partial-birth abortions would "burden" the women's decision to abort her child ("how?" one might ask). What Obama is worried about preserving is the absolute "right" of the woman to not have a live child on her hands, one way or the other, once she has decided to have an abortion.

    The darker insinuation one could make is that in fact Obama does not want a second doctor around keeping a watchful eye out to ensure that the original doctor does not break the law by withholding life-sustaining treatment from a live-born infant.

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    Obama campaign rolls out line of "faith merchandise"

    Aimed broadly at Christians, but more specifically at Catholics:

    The Obama campaign is preparing rolling out a new line of “faith merchandise” – the latest move in an ambitious effort to win over religious voters.

    “Check out the Believers for Barack, Pro-Family Pro-Obama, and Catholics for Obama buttons, bumper stickers and signs….” says Obama Deputy Director of Religious Affairs Paul Monteiro in an e-mail obtained by the Beliefnet Web site.

    Both campaigns have been making a major push for the Catholic vote, which has gone to the winning presidential campaign in every race since 1976, except Al Gore’s 2000 White House bid.

    Beliefnet reported that "Clergy for Change" and "Pro-Israel Pro-Obama" merchandise will soon be offered. (CNN)

    With less than 50 days to go until Election Day, watch for things to heat up - fast. It's a changed game: "For 1st time this election, more Americans think McCain will win."

    Strange that the Obama campaign should be doing all this merchandising distribution, while staunchly avoiding any opportunity to dialogue with the leaders of the Catholic church.
    McCain has met repeatedly with various bishops during his travels, and I'm sure Obama has had similar opportunities but has turned them down. The infamous "Pelosi Timer" is at 10 days and counting. Joe Biden has not publicly responded to to any of the fourteen bishops who have criticized his public defense of abortion and he skipped out on the installation Mass of his own local bishop.

    Oh wait, not so strange at all, really.

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    Yes, the DNC changed their abortion platform - they made it worse.

    One doesn't have to go far in the current abortion debates to find people using the Democratic National Committee's "new language" on the topic of choice as a justification for claiming that the DNC is pro-life "in its totality" or something along those lines.
    Well, I decided to read the DNC's platform and confirmed that, yes, they have new language ...
    ... and it's worse than what they had before.
    Even John Kerry's "moderated 2004 platform included a plank stating that the party sought to keep abortion legal, but make it "rare", a formulation of the Pres. Bill Clinton era." (source)
    The word "rare" has been eliminated from the 2008 platform, and its place, these chilling words added:
    "The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe V. Wade and a woman's right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right."

    Richard Land correctly notes that "These words taken together are about as inclusive an assertion of an absolute right to abortion as the English language is capable of mustering."

    He also points out "No wonder that NARAL Pro-Choice America rhapsodized that the new platform language reaffirmed “in the strongest of terms” the “Democratic Party’s solid commitment to a woman’s right to choose.”

    (Radical feminists are happy, too: "I'm personally really excited to see them mention the ability to pay, since the Hyde Amendment has been such a huge barrier for low-income women and women of color. This is more progressive than I might have expected.")

    Simply put: you can't be more pro-abortion than the language of the DNC official platform.

    "But wait!" people will reply, "... what about the subsequent language claiming that health care and education will help reduce the need for abortions?"

    Sure, that is in there, too. But that's not the argument that gets thrown around: what people actually claim is that the DNC's new platform is more "moderate" on abortion, even "more pro-life." But in fact, if words mean anything, the DNC has actually "accomplished the impossible: they have moved to the left on abortion", in the words of Naomi Riley.

    Nor can I be assuaged by the DNC proposal to reduce abortions through better "health care" and "education".

    For by education the DNC means concretely their vision of "sex education", which often is reduced to instruction in "safe sex" practices which promote attitudes conducive to more, not less, unwanted pregnancies, and simultaneously the distribution of condoms and other contraceptives, which are inherently offensive to Catholic sensibilities and against Catholic teaching.

    Furthermore, these "education" initiatives frequently resist letting women receive the type of education that includes, for instance, ultrasounds of their growing infants (see picture above).

    My question, then: how exactly has "lack of education" been a constitutive cause of abortions in America? And how possibly could their proposed "educational initiatives" significantly reduce them?

    Finally, the argument that the DNC is more against abortion than ever before because they wish to reduce the economic occasions for abortion is also a red herring in my opinion. To paraphrase Richard Garnett, we must not settle "merely for trying to put in a better economic position those who hold the fate of the defenseless in their hands."

    My question, then: is not the actual intention of the DNC to make all abortions simply chosen, instead of chosen in a pressured way? How will removing one source of pressure eliminate the many pressures (most of which are non-economic) that help drive women to abortion?

    Thus, by removing even the concession of desiring to make abortions "rare", the DNC has once-again presumed upon the support of moderates and actively sought to court the vote of radicals who will never allow the practice of abortion (and related horrors) to be exterminated.

    Now if you've read this far, I'm going to reward you with a gutsy claim: I think it's exactly this attitude evidenced by those who try to endlessly defend the DNC's liberal abortion agenda who have allowed the DNC to backtrack on their previous concessions (= comparatively-moderate positions).

    Imagine the DNC is a large ocean liner. One one side, a strong tugboat is trying as hard as it can to push the DNC towards unequivocal and ossified support for abortion rights. On the other side is a tired, rusted tugboat barely resisting the opposite force, and trying to convince itself that it's winning the fight until it has almost run aground.

    Sadly, the strong tugboat represents the pro-abortion forces in the democratic party, and the tired, rusted tugboat represents the pro-life forces.

    C'mon little tugboat, try pushing for a change.

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    Sunday, September 14, 2008

    My latest for

    As I mentioned briefly earlier, I'll be contributing occasionally to the blog.

    Today I take the substance of this post on Joe Biden's "Catholic Problem", focus it, and post it there. is a "project of the Fidelis Center for Law and Policy" and " does not endorse any candidate for office" (more). They also commissioned this fantastic video that deserves re-posting in case you missed it:

    "Catholics United" could take a note on objectivity and truth-in-advertising from

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    AP: "Palin's Nomination Adds Fuel to Abortion Debate"

    Oh boy, here we go:

    The abortion debate is gaining a higher campaign profile this year than in other recent general elections, partly because of divisive ballot measures and partly because of Sarah Palin.

    Veteran leaders in the anti-abortion camp say they have never before seen the degree of enthusiasm that greeted Palin's selection as John McCain's Republican running mate. She opposes abortion even in cases of rape or incest, and lived out her convictions by bearing an infant son she knew had Down syndrome. (AP)

    Speaking generally about the feel of this article - its tone is retrograde. In recent memory, in other words, mainstream reporting on the topic of abortion was more even-handed. They could afford to be indulgent and "show all sides" because abortion "rights" were safely secured, or at least they felt they were.
    But now they must be scared because the tone has shifted decidedly back to using the old scare tactics (i.e., "if we don't all band together, anti-abortion forces will take away a woman's right to choose and criminalize all women who seek abortions.") The article makes the case (rightly), that Sarah Palin's nomination has thrown Obama/Biden's pro-abortion position into a stark contrast.
    In this case, it is encouraging to sense fear from the proponents of the culture of death.

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    Video: SNL on Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton

    Warning: *Some Adult Language* (it is SNL...)

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    Wednesday, September 10, 2008

    Video: The Catholic Vote

    Some fantastic new work by Grassroot Films:

    This is an initiative of

    update: more on this project from Fidelis.

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    Tuesday, September 09, 2008

    "McCain ahead in national polls; Obama up in electoral votes"

    That's the latest.

    The battleground states:
    According to CNN's electoral map, the states that could go either way are Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, Nevada, Ohio and Virginia.
    Oh, just those.


    Welcome, Huffington Post readers

    I was quoted extensively today for an article by Diane Tucker in the Huffington Post, "Palin Winning Over Twenty-Something Catholics." She looks at the results of a recent AmP Poll, and excerpts recent comments made about Palin's selection by you folks, my faithful papist readers. So go take a gander and comment if you wish.

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    Monday, September 08, 2008

    Commentary: Abortion and the New Democratic Platform

    Michael Sean Winters of the America Magazine election blog has an interesting post today entitled "Note to Dems: Shut Up!"

    I agree in substance with his first part:

    First, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi demonstrated that she wasn’t paying attention during theology classes when she matriculated at Trinity College. Now, Sen. Joe Biden has managed to wade into the treacherous waters of making pronouncements on what the Church does, and does not, teach about when human life begins. The Democrats’ vice-presidential candidate, who has a mixed record on pro-life issues, went further than he needed to go on "Meet the Press" yesterday, mentioning Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologica as if he were an expert, but quickly demonstrating that he is no theologian.

    Note to Democratic candidates: You are not running to become theologian-in-chief.

    I want to believe, but remain wary, of his next claim:

    And, in the event, the platform you just adopted has something genuinely new and important to say about abortion, and theological speculation is just going to step on that platform.

    The Democrats, for the first time, called for policies that will reduce the number of abortions by preventing crisis pregnancies in the first place and by providing assistance to women facing crisis pregnancies so that they can carry their child to term. The GOP removed similar language from their platform, keeping their traditional but so far unsuccessful call for overturning Roe v. Wade.

    Winters' sets out perhaps the best argument the DNC has going for them right now when it comes to attacting pro-life voters (otherwise known as "practicing Catholics"). But let's follow the strands.

    Steve Waldman, editor-in-chief of Beliefnet, agrees and disagrees with Winters:

    The Obama campaign had been arguing that the candidate was charting a third-way approach to abortion: supporting abortion rights but promoting policies that would reduce the number of abortions.

    Pro-life liberals were therefore deeply disappointed to hear that after the Palin announcement, the Democrats started running a radio ad [MP3 file] about abortion that made no mention of abortion reduction, instead just stating the Democrats' support for abortion rights. "Unless the Obama campaign will stop emphasizing abortion rights and strongly address the major common cause issues with a spirited vision and practical details, the Republicans can continue to scoop up a ton of votes," said Joel Hunter, a moderate evangelical who gave a benediction at the Democratic convention.

    Waldman goes on to claim that Biden and Obama are both re-adjusting their language:

    This Sunday, the Democratic ticket seemed to emphasize a new approach. On Meet the Press, Joe Biden went farther than the platform or Obama had gone before: "what we're going to be spending our time doing is making sure that we reduce considerably the amount of abortions that take place by providing the care, the assistance and the encouragement for people to be able to carry to term and to raise their children."

    A Democratic candidate pledging to "reduce considerably the amount of abortions" -- that's the phrase that pro-life liberals have been yearning for.

    On This Week with George Stephanopolous, Obama returned to talking about abortion reduction (and also clarified his above-my-paygrade gaffe [watch video]). He said his paygrade line was "too flip" and that "as a Christian I have a lot of humility about understanding about when does the soul enter. All I meant to communicate was that I don't presume to be able to answer these kinds of theological questions."

    Now I wish these words could be taken at their face value (would that the democrat party did become truly pro-life!), but the simple fact of the matter is that Biden receives a 0% rating from the National Right to Life Committee, and Obama was "Rated 100% by NARAL on pro-choice votes in 2005, 2006 & 2007." Have they had a change of heart since they earned these ratings?

    In 2007, Obama promised NARAL that his first act as President would be to "sign the Freedom of Choice Act." On the 35th Anniversary of Roe V. Wade, Barack Obama on his campaign website still says:

    "Thirty-five years after the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade, it's never been more important to protect a woman's right to choose...With one more vacancy on the Supreme Court, we could be looking at a majority hostile to a women's fundamental right to choose for the first time since Roe v. Wade. The next president may be asked to nominate that Supreme Court justice. That is what is at stake in this election."

    "Throughout my career, I've been a consistent and strong supporter of reproductive justice, and have consistently had a 100% pro-choice rating with Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America.

    "When South Dakota passed a law banning all abortions in a direct effort to have Roe overruled, I was the only candidate for President to raise money to help the citizens of South Dakota repeal that law. When anti-choice protesters blocked the opening of an Illinois Planned Parenthood clinic in a community where affordable health care is in short supply, I was the only candidate for President who spoke out against it. And I will continue to defend this right by passing the Freedom of Choice Act as president."

    And where does Joe Biden stand on this issue? He co-sponsored the Freedom of Choice Act in the 102nd and 103rd congresses. "FOCA would overturn hundreds of state laws on the books that limit abortion."

    Here's what I'm seeing: when Obama or Biden (or Pelosi, for that matter) are addressing a general audience, they talk about wishing to bring down the number of abortions, provide alternatives, etc. They also "helpfully" suggest expanding access to contraceptives, but we'll leave that aside for now.

    When, however, Obama or Biden have a pro-choice audience, they are unabashed in their support for abortion-on-demand. (Can you imagine, for instance, Barack Obama or Joe Biden telling Planned Parenthood - which receives huge amounts of federal funding - that they should begin encouraging their patients to carry their children to term?)

    Nor is this double-talk confined to the democrat higher ups (though even their practice of it should give us pause), the specter of Roe v. Wade being repealed is regularly used, up and down the party line, to intimidate people - and women especially - into voting for a democratic candidate. I showcased a classic example of these scare tactics a week or so ago at the DNC convention itself.

    Back to my main point: in order to truly make a case before the entire American people that the DNC has changed its views on abortion, their Presidential candidate must be willing to repudiate the support of radical pro-abortion lobbies and interests. If he cannot do that, then this change in the DNC platform remains a classical case of politicians and political party wanting to have it both ways.

    Sadly, it's all the same for the present and future victims of abortion.

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    Thursday, September 04, 2008

    Poll: Catholics and the 2008 Presidential Election

    (This poll was conducted pre-Palin:)

    These are the head-to-head ballot questions"

    • Among religiously-active Catholics likely to vote, McCain has 49%, Obama has 42%, 9% are undecided. Bush ultimately won this cohort in 2004 56%-43%.
      Among Evangelical or Born-Again Christians likely to vote, McCain leads Obama 61% - 34%, with 5% undecided. Bush won this cohort in 2004 66% - 32%.
    • While McCain currently edges out Obama with religiously active Catholics, he is still well short of the mark accomplished by Bush in 2004. McCain’s margin among Evangelical or Born-Again Christians is still significant if a bit lower than Bush’s final totals.

    There are four issues which have the potential to significantly impact the current voting intentions of voters of faith. [Read them here.]

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    AmP Poll: Did Sarah Palin change your vote? {updated}

    {updated 12:00pm - see below}

    And as always, feel free to link to this poll (the wider sampling the better!) and discuss your response in the comment box below.

    update: due to a request, I've added a fifth voting option to the poll (basically "undecided").

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    Wednesday, September 03, 2008

    Palin takes center stage (and wows) {updated}

    {updated 10:45pm - see below}

    I just finished watching Sarah Palin's speech at the Republican National Convention (click here for text).

    I was very impressed. She held herself well, came across as confident and forceful, and delivered some of the best one-liners in a night of memorable one-liners. The audience ate it up and couldn't stop cheering. The dems are reaching.

    I think she compliments the McCain ticket very well.

    What are your thoughts?

    update: Joseph Bottum notes the lack of explicit references to abortion in her speech.

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    Question: is Sarah Palin pro-contraception?

    AmP reader Nicole raised the question, but the evidence I've been able to find so far is shaky.

    The only source directly claiming Palin is pro-contraception that I've been able to find is an Anchorage Daily News article from 2006 (underlining mine):
    In 2002, when she was running for lieutenant governor, Palin sent an e-mail to the anti-abortion Alaska Right to Life Board saying she was as "pro-life as any candidate can be" and has "adamantly supported our cause since I first understood, as a child, the atrocity of abortion."

    Palin said last month that no woman should have to choose between her career, education and her child. She is pro-contraception and said she's a member of a pro-woman but anti-abortion group called Feminists for Life.

    "I believe in the strength and the power of women, and the potential of every human life," she said.
    So far I've not been able to find a single corroborating source for the claim that she is pro-contraception.

    CNA, reporting on Feminists for Life's reaction to the news that Sarah Palin was the GOP VP-pick, quotes their President as saying the following:
    Palin’s beliefs mesh well with Feminists for Life’s goal of “systematically eliminating the root causes that drive women to abortion” and “doing so through women centered solutions.” The vice presidential nominee explained that she believes “no woman should have to choose between her career, education and her child.”

    While Palin, a non-denominational Protestant, is anti-abortion, she is in support of contraception, a position that lies beyond the scope of FFL’s mission, [FFL President] Ms. Foster said.
    Now, point #2: Palin appears to be pro-abstinence education.

    There is, for instance, this response to a questionnaire she answered in 2006:
    Question: Will you support funding for abstinence-until-marriage education instead of for explicit sex-education programs, school-based clinics, and the distribution of contraceptives in schools?
    Sarah Palin: "Yes, the explicit sex-ed programs will not find my support."
    The original source for this response has been taken down, but is still in the Google cache.

    So... Sarah Palin is against teaching and distributing contraception in educational settings but is for contraception in general? How does that match up? Is she for teaching abstinence but, if that fails, allows resorting to contraception, especially within marriage? Sadly, that might be the most likely explanation.

    In any case, I think it's an important question to ask, and as I've said, the public record is shaky, at best.

    ... is there more to the story?

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    Obama ad "slams McCain on abortion rights"

    A not-so-surprising move, even though the Obama campaign is denying a causal connection between pro-life Sarah Palin's selection and these new pro-abortion ads:

    Barack Obama has launched a broadside against John McCain’s opposition to abortion rights and moved one of the most divisive issues in modern American politics to the airwaves on a large scale for the first time in this presidential campaign.

    Obama’s new radio ad, airing widely in at least seven swing states, tells voters McCain “will make abortion illegal.” It’s airing as McCain courts female voters with the addition of the staunchly anti-abortion governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, to his ticket. (Politico)

    This is a sadly typical scare tactic used against women voters when an election starts to get heated. It is, however, very interesting to see Obama bringing up the abortion issue himself. Previously the topic has been somewhat of an embarrassment for him because of his well-known extreme views on the issue
    Obama appears to campaign in a careful, planned manner, therefore it would not surprise me that because of his decision to not select Hillary as his running mate (and before it was known that McCain would pick Sarah Palin), he is now attempting to re-attract Hillary supporters by reminding them that the democratic party remains the party for abortion-on-demand.
    So much for all that talk we've been hearing from certain front groups about the democratic party moderating their position on abortion to attract values voters.

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    Zogby poll: Catholics like Palin

    The numbers:
    A Zogby Interactive online poll of likely voters conducted in the aftermath of the announcement of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as Sen. John McCain’s running mate reports that most respondents believe the Palin pick will help McCain, as do Catholic respondents in particular.

    At a rate of 54 percent, Catholic respondents believe McCain’s choice of Palin would help the Republican ticket, while 31 percent believe it would hurt the campaign. Seven percent believed it would not make a difference. (CNA)
    Consider this an open thread for the recent Palin stories. I'll update it with any notable links that get sent to me or dropped in the comment box over the course of the day...

    Previous stories on Palin here.

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    Tuesday, September 02, 2008

    Palin's Pregnant Daughter

    Most of you have probably heard the news, which broke over the labor day weekend.

    Fr. Z has a post on how the media is using this as an opportunity to criticize, of all things, abstinence education.

    Diogenes, meanwhile, wins the "so obvious we all probably would have missed it" award:

    Congratulations, Sarah Palin. You've got the New York Times talking-- on page 1, above the fold-- about whether it's wise for a mother of growing children to hold a demanding full-time job. Somehow I don't think a liberal Democratic candidate could have accomplished that.

    Congratulations, Bristol Palin. You've got the Boston Globe worried about out-of-wedlock pregnancies.

    Exactly. Suddenly these issues are important to liberal media-types, and now they are quickly adopting positions opposite to their usual ones, because ... they want to criticize the conservative veep pick.

    I guess this is another example of people trying to claim moral values in an election year.
    On a parallel, but not unrelated note, Brian Saint-Paul looks into the embarassing lack of vetting and forethought that is evidenced by these Palin details emerging so soon after her public selection.

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    In Philadelphia, McCain meets with Cardinal Regali

    I received this tip the day it happened, but for some reason forgot to post it. Now the media knows:

    Republican presidential candidate John McCain is in Philadelphia, but his campaign staff is saying little about what he is doing.

    McCain met with Cardinal Justin Rigali at the Catholic leader's home on Monday afternoon. (source)

    The meeting was about 25-30 minutes. Cardinal Rigali recently made the AmP radar for his involvement in Pelosi-Gate where, as the chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, he helped issue the initial response to Pelosi on behalf of the American bishops.

    So what did he and McCain talk about? It's anyone's guess.

    McCain also took time to privately meet with Archbishop Charles Chaput about a month ago.

    (How many bishops has Obama met with privately so far...? None, to my knowledge.)

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    Monday, September 01, 2008

    Report: Biden risks refusal of Holy Communion

    An important historical note. It remains to be see if the point becomes contemporized (underlining mine):

    Scranton native Sen. Joe Biden would likely feel at home any day of the week in Northeast Pennsylvania. Well, any day except possibly Sunday.

    The Most Rev. Joseph F. Martino, bishop of Scranton, has strongly supported refusal of Holy Communion for politicians who campaign for or vote in favor of abortion rights.

    When asked whether the Democratic vice presidential candidate would be refused Communion should he tour the region, the diocese held firm to its past statements.

    “I will not tolerate any politician who claims to be a faithful Catholic who is not genuinely pro-life,” Bishop Martino said in a pastoral letter Sept. 15, 2005, and reiterated this week.

    “No Catholic politician who supports the culture of death should approach Holy Communion,” Bishop Martino said. “I will be truly vigilant on this point.”(Scranton Times)

    Also, Chris Korzen, executive director of Catholics United, makes an unwelcome appearance in the article:
    Chris Korzen, executive director of Catholics United, said Mr. Biden’s leadership on issues like health care and economic justice “constitute a policy that’s consistent with human life.”

    He said ending abortion is an important theological issue for Catholics, but he questioned whether criminalizing abortion was the correct public policy to achieve that. “I think we need to start asking different questions,” Mr. Korzen said.
    Who, exactly, in this debate has ever claimed that criminalizing abortion is the Catholic position? Removing the legal right to abortion-on-demand is not equivalent to prosecuting everyone who procures an abortion.

    But of course, one shouldn't expect Chris Korzen to stay on topic.

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    Liberals already going after Palin

    {post updated, 12:35pm}

    Perhaps taking the cake is Daily Kos trying to claim that Palin's fifth child, who has down syndrome, is actually Palin's daughter's child. Give the story some time to sort itself out, I'd say.

    Also, a particularly glaring example of bias from MSNBC:

    From the very first moment that John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin for his Republican running mate was announced, the MSNBC news network was engaged in a deliberate attempt to smear the Alaska governor, according to Fox News host Bill O'Reilly.

    During Friday night's edition of "The O'Reilly Factor," the Fox anchor displayed MSNBC's "breaking news" graphic, which ran the message, "How many houses does Palin add to the Republican ticket?" (see picture here.)
    And the feminist bloggers? "Crap."


    Meanwhile: $10 Million Woman: Palin a Hit with GOP Donors

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    Friday, August 29, 2008

    McCain chooses pro-life Sarah Palin for veep

    The Associated Press says its a lock (as does everyone):

    John McCain tapped little-known Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to be his vice presidential running mate, two senior campaign officials told The Associated Press on Friday.

    A formal announcement was expected within a few hours at a campaign rally in swing-state Ohio.

    Palin, 44, is a self-styled hockey mom and political reformer who has been governor of her state less than two years.

    update: Some quick facts:

    • She has an 80-90% approval rating in Alaska, the most popular governor in America
    • She's been described as a "crackerjack governor, a strong fiscal conservative and a ferocious fighter of corruption, especially in her own party."
    • A lifetime member of the NRA, she also has a son in the army
    • She appears to be a "non-denominational protestant"
    • She aimed "to reduce general fund spending by $150 million" in Alaska
    • She belongs to Feminists for Life
    And Palin is not just pro-life politically, she is also amazingly and joyfully pro-life personally, and not only because she has five kids (ph/t: SBA):

    In April of this year, Sarah Palin give birth to her fifth child, Trig, who was born premature with Down Syndrome. Recent statistics show that in the U.S., approximately 90% of Down Syndrome diagnoses end with the mother choosing abortion. Palin on her family’s reaction to the diagnosis, in her own words:

    “We knew through early testing he would face special challenges, and we feel privileged that God would entrust us with this gift and allow us unspeakable joy as he entered our lives. We have faith that every baby is created for good purpose and has potential to make this world a better place. We are truly blessed.” (April 18, 2008, Anchorage Daily News)

    [Read more from the SBA statement.]

    The "Draft Sarah Palin for VP" blog is going crazy. MM has a play-by-play.

    update: some helpful links...

    update 3 (finally managed to get a photo of her family on the blog succesfully - sheesh!):

    There's a huge glut of information flooding the net right now on Palin. Here's some of the best:

    I thought this point especially good: "[Palin as VP] makes me trust McCain's judgment much more than I would have if he had gone for Romney, Ridge, or Lieberman. Brownback or Pawlentey would have signaled "more of the same." But Palin? That's "change." - Eric Pavlat

    I'm also thrilled to see, based on the visitor count today, and the increased number of email tips and links I'm receiving (thank you!), as well as the record-high activity level in the comment boxes (awesome!) ... that papists and other readers are beginning to treat AmP as the one-stop newsblog where they can discuss and stay up-to-date on (usually up-to-the-minute) the most important stories in American politics, the Catholic faith, and the intersection of same.

    Thank you, let's keep a good thing going, and get it better.

    update 5: on the evangelical side...

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    Thursday, August 28, 2008

    Noted: McCain to announce veep pick at noon on Friday

    Politico has the story and Todd M. Aglialoro has some useful odds listed for the top contenders.

    update: Tim Pawlenty? Early word is that he's the pick, and a good one.

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    Wednesday, August 27, 2008

    Flashback: A democrat explains faith & abortion

    In the past few days, AmP readers have been forced to suffer through reading, re-reading, and even trying to make sense of Pelosi's rambling, garbled explanation of the Catholic Church's teaching on abortion.

    And although I hate to ask you to do something similar once again - this is very important, I think.

    Give this statement a read and see what you think:

    [Question: Why do you hold a pro-choice position on abortion?]

    Answer: "... Even within our own [Catholic] church, there’s been debates about life, you know, from, from “Summa Theologica,” Aquinas, and 40 days to quickening and right to, you know, you know, Pious IX, animated fetus doctrine and so on. So this—the, the, the decision’s the closest thing politically to what has been the philosophic divisions existent among the major confessional faiths in our country. And that’s why, I think, that’s why I’ve come to the conclusion some long time ago, over 25 years ago, that is the—it is the [pro-choice] template which makes the most sense."

    Sounds familiar, doesn't it? It sounds very similar to Pelosi's recent comments. Only this isn't Pelosi...

    It's Joe Biden, Barack Obama's Vice-President selection.

    John-Henry Weston editorializes:

    The August 24 Meet the Press interview with Nancy Pelosi which has received condemnation from Catholic leaders around the nation is little more than a repeat of Biden's own comments on Meet the Press last year. The massive reaction from the Catholic hierarchy against Pelosi's theologizing on abortion should also be applied to Biden.

    I don't mean to get off-topic: Pelosi is currently in the hot seat. But let's not lose sight of the fact that her untenable position is, sadly, shared - in one form or another - by many currently-active politicians.

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    Joe Biden claims to be "totally consistent with Catholic social doctrine"

    Not to be skipped! Carl Olson at Insight Scoop has an excellent post on Joe Biden and his Catholic Faith.

    Since I've got my hands full with Pelosi-Gate right now, I'm very happy to turn this coverage over to Carl.

    update: Curt Jester points out that even biased scorecards put Joe Biden at only ~50%!

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    Monday, August 25, 2008

    Link: Catholics Against Joe Biden

    A solid crew of guys have put this blog together in a short time frame, but already have it stocked full of relevant content (remind me again how Joe Biden's selection was supposed to attract Catholics?).

    Go visit, bookmark and please consider promoting. See my first post on Joe Biden here.

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    Saturday, August 23, 2008

    The Biden Rundown

    Obama has announced his running mate:

    "Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama introduced Sen. Joe Biden to the nation as his running mate Saturday, telling supporters that he is "a leader who is ready to step in and be president." (CNN)

    I'll admit to getting the text message this morning. I was interested. Now I can unsubscribe.

    In another report, the radioactive phrase about Biden appears:

    "[Biden is] a Roman Catholic..."

    • pro-abortion (36-75% rating by NARAL, 0% by National Right to Life Committee)
    • supports the nomination of pro-Roe v. Wade supreme court justices
    • pro-allowing minors to cross state lines for abortions, and against telling their parents
    • pro-embryonic stem cell research
    • pro-contraceptives (but supports some abstinence education)
    • against making harming an unborn fetus a criminal penalty
    • against-partial birth abortion (unlike Obama)

    Except for being less extreme than Obama regarding partial birth abortion, Biden holds basically the same positions, but as a Catholic. He also accepts "on faith" that life begins at conception, while still remaining pro-abortion.

    Now, let's quickly sweep through the reactions to Biden's selection, from good-to-bad.

    The best analysis I've read thus far is from Canon Lawyer Edward Peters (relation):

    Barack Obama’s selection of Joseph Biden as his running mate is sure to provoke questions about Biden’s eligibility for holy Communion under canon law. Hoping to get out ahead of things, I’m suggesting that we start by asking the right questions, well.

    One need not be a Catholic in good standing to be President or Vice President of the United States, but one must be a Catholic in good standing to receive holy Communion from the Catholic Church.

    [Read on.]

    For a Catholic perspective, that's your one-stop read.

    I can't say I'm pleased with the Catholic News Service's introduction of Biden and discussion about his Catholic faith. On the one hand, they do admit in the first paragraph that Biden supports abortion, but immediatly add that Biden "has been an ally for the church’s public policy interests." Such a claim, however, cannot be logically true when you've already noted Biden is pro-abortion. Unless somehow protecting unborn human life is not part of the church's public policy interests. I'll leave you to read the rest of their treatment, but I have other reservations as well.

    Chris Korzen of "Catholics" United has issued a press release supporting Biden's selection. I have serious questions about Korzen's sincerity when he says that his organization "refuse[s] to water down our [Catholic] faith in service of partisan politics." That's simply unbelievable coming from someone with such a partisan background. I'll talk more about this in a future post. (update: I talk about it here.)

    CNN's "expert" analysis, meanwhile, plays things safe, claiming that "Biden gives Obama old-school cred", and also:

    So how does Biden help Obama politically? Biden is Roman Catholic. There are nearly 70 million Roman Catholics in the United States, about 20 percent of the electorate, and they can tip the balance in a close contest.

    Now what a naive, narrow observation to make.

    Moving farther to left (prettymuch to the brink, in matter of fact), the feminists:

    Biden has a not-so-hot record on choice. He says he supports Roe v. Wade, but is not really interested in expanding access to low-income women.

    It continually frightens me to see what some people aren't satisfied with regarding abortion access.

    So there's the lay of the land, as I see it now.

    What are your thoughts? Open thread time...

    update, day 2 reactions:

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    Friday, August 22, 2008

    Update: Obama and the Born Alive Protection Act

    It's easy to get "link fatigue" with this story, so if you can only read one post about it, read this one:

    update, corrected link: "Stick to the Obama/Born Alive talking points" - Jill Stanek


    Dawn Eden has also been covering the story intensely.

    (Okay, so I cheated - that's two links. I couldn't help myself.)

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    Thursday, August 21, 2008

    Zogby poll: Obama losing ground among Catholics

    The numbers from the latest Zogby poll:

    Support among Catholics in July: 47%

    Support among Catholics in August: 36%

    Change: -11%

    Ph/t: InsideCatholic.

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    Wednesday, August 20, 2008

    "The Case Against Barack Obama" booksigning

    I just returned from a DC-area booksigning with the author of this book, David Freddoso. It's a hot one that has reached the top-5 on the New York Times and top-10 on the bestsellers lists:

    Having covered the media reporting on Barack Obama for almost a year at this point, it is continually surprising for me to see how many troubling stories available on the public record (which are now presented in this book) have never before received any significant attention by the mainstream media.
    I found this book to be a straightforward, informative read, with well-documented sources and footnotes. I don't hesitate to recommend it as the one-stop resource to learn about Obama's actual political track record.
    Related: Read Freddoso's editorial in today's Wall Street Journal: "Obama Played by Chicago Rules."

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    AmP Poll: Would you vote for a pro-choice Vice President?

    Today's AmP Poll:

    And as always, feel free to link to this poll (the wider sampling the better!) and discuss your response in the comment box below.

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    How long can Obama ignore it?

    A quick check in with point-woman Jill Stanek might yield an answer:
    An insider tells me Obama's camp is going "ape sh**" over all this.
    More basic question: how long can the media ignore the story?

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