Distinctly Catholic

Obama Holding His Own with Blacks & Latinos


According to a new survey, President Barack Obama continues to receive high marks from both African-American and Latino voters. His numbers among Latinos are down slightly from 2008: Then, he received the votes of 67 percent of Latinos according to exit polls, but the new survey only shows him taking 64 percent. That downturn, however, comes before what you can expect will be some hard-hitting ads about the increasingly virulent anti-immigration stances of the various GOP candidates. Key states such as Colorado, Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, North Carolina and Florida may all depend on how well Obama does among Latinos.

HHS, Plan B & Scientism


Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius yesterday overruled the Food and Drug Administration’s decision to make Plan-B, the morning-after pill, available without a prescription to any woman of child-bearing age. Sebelius’s decision is a victory for common sense and it is not, as it is being portrayed, a defeat for science. It is only a defeat for scientism, the reduction of science to that status of an ideology, an "ism."

Plan B is currently available without a prescription to any woman aged 17 or over. Anyone younger than that needs a prescription. The FDA’s recommendation would have allowed girls as young as 11 to purchase the drug in any drug store without any parental consent or doctor’s prescription. “There is adequate and reasonable, well-supported, and science-based evidence that Plan B One-Step is safe and effective and should be approved for nonprescription use for all females of child-bearing potential,” FDA Administrator Margaret Hamburg said in a statement.

+Nichols Criticized over Civil Unions' Comments


Archbishop Vincent Nichols is being attacked by some conservative catholics for remarks he made regarding civil unions for same-sex partners, according to a report at vatican Insider.

This is silly. The Archbishop did not endorse civil unions, which are already the law of the land, but he insisted that they allow some of the objectives sought by those seeking same-sex marriage in the UK and are, in his estimation, a preferable alternative to changing the legal definition of marriage. More importantly, how is what Abp Nichols said different from what then-Abp, now Cardinal, William Levada endorsed when, as Abp of San Francisco, he worked out a compromise with the city government regarding the extension of health care and other benefits to same sex partners? Levada and the city agreed that those who work at agencies that receive government funds can name anyone they want to receive benefits, provided that person lives with them legally. It can be an unemployed cousin, a retired aunt, or a same sex partner.

War on Religion?


Rick Perry has launched a new ad that claims he will end what he calls "Obama's war on religion." Given Perry's sometimes tenuous grasp on the facts, I suppose we should all be grateful that he did not accuse Obama of renewing the Hundred Years war. But, as I have warned previously, again and again, the narrative that Democrats are hostile to religion is alive and well and the administration should not feed that narrative by doing something really stupid on conscience exemptions.
Here is the video of Perry's ad.

American Life League's High Priestess


The American Life League recently sent out a fundraising appeal that renews its attack on the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), the anti-poverty program administered by the United States. Of course, no one should write a check to the American Life League unless they begin to abide by the best-practices recommended for non-profits, as I wrote about here.

Most of the multi-page appeal merely repeats the charges against CCHD that the American Life League has leveled in the past. But something in the third to the last paragraph jumped off the page at me. Judie Brown, the high priestess of the American Life League, writes, “Please know this, at the time of my writing this letter to you, the CCHD has publicly responded to criticism by defunding only two of the groups in our report – both of which were confirmed to still be doing months later exactly what we found seven months ago! What other evidence do we need?”

That tagline – "What other evidence do we need?” sounded eerily familiar. In the 14th Chapter of the Gospel of St. Mark, we read of the trial of Jesus:

Obama at Osawatomie


There was a lot to like, but also something missing, in the President’s much-touted speech in Osawatomie, Kansas, a location chosen because of the President’s desire to echo the sentiments expressed by President Theodore Roosevelt in his “New Nationalism” speech in the same small town more than a century ago. Indeed, the choice of location demonstrated more than any quotes ever could, two key facts that the President needs to emphasize as he begins his re-election big. First, Obama is no radical and, second, today’s Republican Party is a far cry from Teddy Roosevelt’s Republican Party.

Peretz on Defending Israel From Its Right-Wing Jews


Marty Peretz has been a friend of mine for a long time and I have learned most of what I know about Zionism from him or from books he has recommended to me. Many people dismiss Marty because, as one of the leading controversialists of his time, he has said some things that are, well, provocative. Others have criticized his handling of the New Republic although, I would submit, he has kept that magazine more relevant to serious discussions on the left than any of its competitors and has continued to produce outstanding journalism, and give outstanding journalists their start in the business, since he bought the magazine in the early 1970s.

Today, at TNR, he has an essay that demonstrates something about Marty that many people miss amidst the controversy: He is deeply learned. His essay on the challenges Israel faces from its own rightwingers is so smart, so full of knowledge and insight, and, yes, provocative, I mark it down as one of my top ten favorite essays of the year. You can read it here.

Immigrants & Taxes II


I do not normally respond to comments. It is my belief that once I have said what I have to say, it is best to let the combox take on a life of its own. I am delighted when readers debate each other there. I am even delighted when readers just rant at each other. The exchange of opinions is a good thing per se, even when it is accompanied by the throwing of rhetorical elbows.

But, last week, I wrote a post about immigrants that both examined the results of a new Pew study and suggested that it would be helpful if the Congressional Budget Office could calculate what effects comprehensive immigration reform would have on extending the solvency of both the Social Security and Medicare trust funds. The comments of Professor Carmen Nanko-Fernandez on that post are such that they deserve a response.

Germany, WaPo & Mauriac


Yesterday's Washington Post Outlook section had an article by Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff on the role of Germany in Europe, as it relates politically and economically to the crisis over the Euro-zone and its finances. Yes, the discussion is about Germany's role in the continent's economy, but that discussion has a deep undercurrent of concern about Germany's historical role in Europe.

It brought to mind the famous quip of Francois Mauriac: "I love Germany so dearly, I hope there will always be two of them."


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In This Issue

May 19-June 1, 2017