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Cath Dems Whale on Santorum

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I suppose it is not really "news" that the group Catholic Democrats has decided to come out swinging against former Sen. Rick Santorum. In a press release yesterday, the group said Santorum "had among the worst voting records in the US Congress on issues related to the Catholic social justice tradition and the family, despite his efforts to portray himself as a 'pro-family' Catholic who is concerned about poverty."

Catholic Democrats looked at Santorum's ratings from both the Catholic social justice group NETWORK and the Children's Defense Fund, and found his rankings were lower than even most other Republicans. Graphs of the rankings can be found here.

The BBQ Test

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There is an old chestnut in politics: An election will be won by the candidate with whom the voters would most like to go to a BBQ. Reagan over Carter. Papa Bush over Dukakis. Clinton over Papa Bush. Bush fils over Gore. The idea is that a successful candidate needs to come across as comfortable in his or her own skin, and someone with a common touch, someone who can, in Clinton’s famous phrase, “feel your pain.”

Mitt Romney has a problem with the BBQ test. He is so highly scripted and, in those few instances when he speaks extemporaneously, he says things your neighbor wouldn’t. For example, “corporations are people” and “want to bet $10,000?” Yesterday, in an attempt to establish something resembling empathy, he asserted that “I know what it’s like to worry whether you’re going to get fired. There were a couple of times I wondered whether I was going to get a pink slip.” Of course, as the son of a multi-millionaire, even if Mr. Romney had been fired, the consequences from such an event would be different from what they would be for you or me. If he lost his job, that did not mean he was going to lose his health insurance or his house.

How Objectionable is Michael Voris

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I was surprised when, after I wrote about the Archdiocese of Detroit's announcement that they had not given permission to "Real Catholic TV" to use the designation "Catholic," that many acquaintances were completely unfamiliar with the show and its host, Michael Voris' ouevre.

I admit, it is not easy to watch. But to give you some flavor of this man's ugly rantings, here is one of his segments on the Jews:

Silk on Evangelicals and the GOP Race

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Life is filled with dangers, but there is one danger that Professor Mark Silk need never fear: being charged as an example of the adage that a little learning is a dangerous thing. Silk has been studying the role of religion in American politics in greater depth and with greater precision than almost any acdemic I can think of. He has the capacity, which I utterly lack, of being patient enough to pore over the cross-tabs on polling data to ferret out key kernals of information. And so, readers are advised to go to his blog Spiritual Politcs and see some of his revent posts on the role of religion in the NH primary, good news for Romney in polling of evangelicals in SC, and Silk's takedown of a recent their put forth by a less learned member of the press corps at the Washington Post. Good, good stuff.

Kudos to Obama on Immigration Change

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Last week, the Obama administration proposed to change the means by which undocumented spouses and children of U.S. citizens get a waiver from the rule that imposes a ten-year penalty on those who entered the country illegally. Currrently, the waiver must be applied for abroad and the waiting time to receive can run for months. (90 percent of the waiver applications are granted.) The rule change would allow undocumented spouses or children to apply for the waiver here in the U.S., cutting down the amount of time needed to return to the country from which the person emigrated from months to days.

The change is humane and should be endorsed by everyone. Keeping families together would be precisely the kind of thing you would think would appeal to pro-family Republicans. Cong. Lamar Smith, chait of the House Judiciary Committee, however, took a moment from repeating the GOP's refrain that the President is engaged in "class warfare" to say this about the change: “Who is the president batting for — illegal immigrants or the American people?” Nice.

Re-Structuring the Pentagon

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President Obama went to the Pentagon for a press conference on premise last week to announce a strategic overhaul of the nation’s military. There is much to commend, and much about which to worry, in the President’s proposals even though we got only the broad outlines. The specifics will doubtlessly contain more worries, but that is the nature of specifics, and they will argue for themselves as the President tries to implement his strategic vision.

Interfaith Service for Dr. King

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The good people at NETWORK called my attention to an interfaith prayer service, January 16, 2012, from 3-5 p.m. at historic Shiloh Baptist Church here in Washington. The service is sponsored by "Faith Advocates for Jobs" and will focus on Dr. King's deep and abiding commitment to workers and workers' rights, a commitment that led him to Memphis to help plead for better working conditions for that city's sanitation workers and where he was assassinated.

In our own day, those sanitation workers would be dismissed by some as "government employees" and some politicians would deny their right to collectively bargain for better wages and better working conditions. But, Dr. King knew better. This will be a great moment to remind the nation that Dr. King's legacy extended beyond the cause of civil rights: He understood that justice is a multi-facted jewel in the crown of a civilized people.

The sermon will be preached by the Rev. Dr. James Forbes, senior pastor emeritus at Riverside Church and the famed Shiloh Baptist choir will sing. For more information, contact Faith Advocates for Jobs at 202.525.3055.

The Good News & The Worry

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This morning's unemployment report brought more good news as the unemployment rate dropped to 8.5 percent and the economy added a robust 200,000 new jobs, mor than analysts had anticipated. Of course, the economy is not out of the woods yet, and unemployment is still too high, but everything seems to be moving in the right direction. This is good news for the country and it is very good for President Obama's re-election prospects.

The worry is that the extent to which the economy becomes less of an issue, other issues, more susceptible to nastiness, will return. We will hear more of the "he apologizes for America" nonsense. We will hear more about the liberal courts. We will hear more about the "war on religion." And, the danger does not only come from the right. From the left, if there is less focus on the economy, there will be more focus on libertarian social policies and the "war on science."

The real economy can help or harm real people, so I am delighted it is improving. But, I confess I was looking forward to an election defined by a choice between Keynes and the Austrians.

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August 29-September 11, 2014

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