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The Dartmouth Debate

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All the challenges facing the different candidates were on full display at last night’s debate at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. Nor are the problems merely issues of bad debate prep, although some of the candidates could use better preparation to be sure. Each candidate faces a slightly different challenge in these forums and none of them except Newt Gingrich seems to rise to the occasion.

Gingrich was not only the first candidate to garner spontaneous applause for one of his answers, when he attacked Ben Bernanke and the press in a single breath. He also was the first candidate to interject himself forcefully and without being asked a question into a discussion of the effects of the European debt crisis, showing not only a command of the issue, adding something the previous candidates had neglected, but showing himself as the kind of guy who is willing to be pushy, to be assertive and combative when needed. It was very effective. Perhaps Gingrich was a bit overly flush with his awareness that he was again doing well for he went a tad far in suggesting that Chris Dodd and Barney Frank go to prison.

The Abortion Debate Continues

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Over at CatholicMoralTheology.com, they have begin a discussion on the one year anniversary of the gathering at Princeton to discuss abortion. That event included everyone from Peter Singer to John Finnis, and most everyone in between and the on-going discussion, by such serious thinkers, is an important one. These issues strike deep in our culture and we must wrestle with them.

HHS Awards to Catholic Groups

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The Administration for Children and Families at the Department of Health and Human Services announced a large number of grants to organizations that help support poor and vulnerable families and especially focus on responsible fatherhood, a cause that has been near and dear to President Obama's agenda. Among the recipients, three jumped out: Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Trenton received $555,330; Wichita Catholic Charities received $1.4 million and the Archdiocese of Hartford, Connecticut's Catholic Charities received $800,000. Maybe all those anti-Catholics in the Obama Administration we keep hearing about were asleep at the wheel on this, but I think, as in all things, the story is more complex: The Administration is willing to work with the Catholic Church, and the Catholic Church needs to work with the Administration, on areas of mutual concern. Now, if only we can get the Administration to live up to its commitment to liberalism and provide adequate conscience exemptions....

Preferential Option for the Poor: What's That?

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At this weekend's Values Voter Summit, former Sen. Rick Santorum was asked if he agreed with the Catholic Church that public policy should reflect a preferential option for the poor. Santorum seemed unfamiliar with the phrase, which is odd seeing as it has been a staple of Catholic social teaching for more than a generation. Details, with video, are here on the Faith in Public Life website.

The Perriello Lesson

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The Washington Post this morning has an article by Rosalind Helderman entitled “Jobs-bill vote may put senators in tight spot.” Tonight, the U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote on President Barack Obama’s jobs plan and while the Democrats know they do not have the votes to overcome a Republican filibuster, it is also unclear if they can get all the Democrats on board.

Democratic senators, especially those facing difficult re-election prospects, may be unwilling to vote for a bill that is not going to pass anyway if the end result is that their opponents next year can paint them as too close to Obama, whose shrinking popularity has many Democrats worried. On the other hand, if they vote with the Republicans, these wavering Democrats make it impossible to run against the Republicans as the obstructionists. As Helderman writes, “That is likely to be a dynamic that will prove problematic for Obama and Senate leaders in coming months.”

Kissling Is Wrong Again

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Frances Kissling may be my least favorite co-religionist. She has made a career vaunting her credentials as a courageous woman, challenging the hierarchy of the Church, seemingly unaware that in a culture that is already fiercely anti-authoritarian and which champions dissent in any form, her stance is not precisely one that merits the adjective courageous. The fact that her moral views track so neatly with the ambient secular culture's views suggests that any claim to a prophetic stance is also beyond her reach. She has become, to borrow a phrase from Cardinal George, a chaplain to the status quo.

Say What?

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This morning, at the corner store, I noticed phone cards for sale, one of which read: "CABAL - CentroAmerica."

"Cabal" is a uniquely British word. It started as an acronym for a group of British Lords who were determined to bring down the government of the Earl of Clarendon. Clifford (a Sir, not a Lord), Ashley, Buckingham (a Duke), Arlington and Lauderdale were the leaders and lent the first letter of their names to the word we now use to suggest any secretive conspiracy...or Central American phone cards.

Religious Bigotry & Mitt Romney

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I have been warning this would happen. Over the weekend, the Rev. Robert Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas and a leading light in the Southern Baptist Convention, disparaged former Gov. Mitt Romney on account of his religion, saying that Mormonism is a cult and that Christians should vote for fellow Christians instead of for Mormons. Jeffress made his remarks after introducing his buddy, Texas Gov. Rick Perry at the Values Voter Summit, which was organized by Tony Perkins and his Family Research Council.

But Was He a Witch?

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FreedomWorks, the Tea Party group that supported a series of challenges to incumbent GOP senators in 2010, has disclosed that intends to back the campaign of Richard Mourdock against incumbent GOP Senator Dick Lugar. Lugar ran afoul of the Tea Party because of his votes to confirm Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan as well as his decision to vote for the TARP legislation that President Bush proposed as the financial crisis hit.

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July 18-31, 2014

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