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Contributor Heidi Schlumpf

On this, Nienstedt is Right


Archbishop John Nienstedt is not my favorite bishop. In 2006, he wrote an article in the diocesan newspaper in New Ulm where he was the bishop at the time about the movie “Brokeback Mountain,” which he described thusly: “The story is about two lonely cowboys herding sheep up on a mountain range. One night after a drinking binge, one man makes a pass at the other and within seconds the latter mounts the former in an act of wanton anal sex.” Funny, I never expected to find the words “wanton anal sex” in my diocesan newspaper. And, when he retires, Nienstedt should not try his hand at penning movie reviews.

Election Time: WA-Senate


UPDATE (10/25): In most close Senate races this year, as election day nears, the races have tightened, a trend that has helped the Democrats who were lagging in the polls. But, in Washington state, this trend has helped Republican candidate Dino Rossi in his effort to unseat Democratic incumbent Patty Murray. The RCP polling average has Murray up by only 2.2 percentage points, well within the margin of error of all the polls that go into that average. awards Sen. Murray an 85% chance of retaining her seat, largely because although the margins are small, she holds a consistent lead in all polls.
President Obama made a campaign appearance for Sen. Murray, as the Pacific Coast states are among the few places where the President is convincingly popular. And, GOP independent groups have poured money into the race reaizing that they need to win Washington state or California is they want to take the Senate. I still rate this rate too close to call.

Yahoo Watch: Family Research Council


The folks at the Family Research Council aren't stupid, just borderline evil. They have a new ad out against Cong. Tom Perriello, a progressive Democrats from Virginia. (Shameless plug: I have an article about Perriello's race coming out in the new print edition of NCR.) The FRC ad is clever, but what the hell does any of it have to do with "the family"? The FRC is one of the groups that gained a lot of traction when the Moral Majority closed its doors in the late 1980s - the Christian Coalition was the other. Indeed, Falwell said he thought FRC founder Dr. James Dobson would be his most likely successor as the face of the religious right. Falwell would always make a moral argument to defend his positions - you could agree or disagree, but he understood he was not an expert on government or arms control but a pastor.

Q & A: Bishop Jaime Soto


This week at Q & A we are looking at the contributions of Pope Benedict to the life of the Church. This examination is prompted by the release of a new book about the Pontiff from the USCCB, Pope Benedict XVI: Essays and Reflections on His Papacy. It is natural that Americans tend to look at the Pope's contributions through the lens of our national experience, but I wanted to also see how the Pope is contributing to the life of the Church beyond our borders. So, today, we have comments from Bishop Jaime Soto of Sacramento, who attended the meeting of the Latin American bishops' conference (CELAM) at Aparecida, where the Pope gave a memorable address. Bishop Soto's comments amplify the earlier observations of some of our contributors this week.
The question: How has Pope Benedict contributed to the life of the Church?
Bishop Soto:

Foreign Money in US Campaigns


The Chamber of Commerce is catching hell for allowing foreign companies to put their cash into U.S. political campaigns. The Chamber has targeted several prominent Democrats, including Rep. Tom Perriello from Virginia, Joe Sestak in Pennsylvania, and others. They have said they will spend $75 million, an amount that dwarfs the resources of even the best fundraisers in Congress.

The Chamber denies that it is using foreign money for its campaign ads, that it keeps foreign dollars segregated from domestic, political accounts. But money is fungible, which leads to an irony. Last summer, when the Capps Amendment was introduced to allow insurance companies to segregate funds used for abortion services from funds they got from the federal government, conservatives objected, noting that money is fungible. Now, it is the Democrats who point to the fungible quality of cash to blast the Chamber of Commerce.

Election Time: FL-Governor


Florida may have turned temporarily blue for the 2008 presidential election, but the state remains decidedly reddish in hue. It has controlled the governor’s mansion in Tallahassee for more than a decade as well as both houses of the legislature. Since 1996, when the GOP took control of the Florida House (it had taken the Senate four years earlier) the number of Democrats serving in Tallahassee continued to plummet, although 2006 saw Democrats re-take some seats, but not enough to win control of either chamber in the state house.

Control in Tallahassee matters especially this year because of the re-districting that will occur once the Census results are in. Currently, Democrats do not have a seat at the table, but if they can win the governorship, they would be able to influence the process. Not only will the congressional lines be redrawn, but Florida is likely to gain two congressional seats so the district maps will be especially important.

Obama & Sambi


Yesterday, the President received the Diplomatic Corps at the White House, including the Nuncio from the Holy See, Archbishop Pietro Sambi. I suspect that this photo will cause a few blood vessels to burst in the wacko conservative blogosphere and I wonder if Glenn Beck suspects the President and the Archbishop of secretly planning some kind of conspiracy.


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