1. Democrats Inch Right on Abortion: Even Nancy Pelosi is open to dissent. But that approach carries risks of its own.

By Fred Barnes, executive editor of the Weekly Standard, The Wall Street Journal, August 31, 2017, Pg. A15

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said in May that the Democratic Party should not require its candidates to support the right to an abortion. “This is not a rubber-stamp party,” she told the Washington Post. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer agreed.

In July Rep. Ben Ray Luján of Texas, the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, told the Hill he would be open to funding pro-life candidates in 2018 House races. California Gov. Jerry Brown said on “Meet the Press” that candidates’ positions on abortion “should not be the basis for their exclusion.”

We’ve heard this talk before about a “big tent” party. What’s new is the sudden emphasis on accepting antiabortion Democrats as candidates and funding their campaigns. Last year this was not in Democrats’ plans. The Democratic platform took a rigid pro-choice position that called for taxpayer funding of abortions. The advocacy group Naral Pro-Choice America was thrilled, calling it “the best ever for reproductive freedom.”

That was before Donald Trump had won the presidency with a boost from traditionally Democratic voters.

Yet while easing up on pro-life candidates may soften the Democrats’ image as the party of abortion, it brings at least two troubles of its own.

The first is an increasingly bitter debate inside the party.

The other problem is the political landscape. It’s changed. For decades Democrats skillfully used the abortion issue to tar pro-life Republicans as enemies of women’s health, among other unsavory things. Republican candidates were on the defensive and not very good at it. Many wished the issue would fade away.

Today the roles are reversed.

As a coalition party of liberal identity groups, Democrats have few options on social issues. Minorities, gay people and immigrants will erupt should their interests be threatened. Tinkering with the party’s image on abortion was less risky. But it doesn’t offer much of a reward either.


2. The human rights holocaust of North Korea.

By Dr. Matthew Daniels, Chair of Law & Human Rights at the Institute of World Politics, The Washington Times, August 31, 2017, Pg. SR15

For decades, the North Korean regime has been systematically annihilating segments of its own population. More specifically, the North Korean regime has been engaged for decades in the supreme human rights offense of genocide — the deliberate attempt to exterminate entire racial, ethnic or religious groups.

The actions of the North Korean government are tantamount to genocide in two specific cases.

First, the North Korean regime has an official policy of exterminating mixed-race children in the name of an ideology of North Korean “racial purity.” This is carried out through both forced abortions and infanticides motivated by a deep-rooted disdain for ethnically mixed children, in particular those of Chinese descent. Sources even suggest that forced abortions may be carried out on all pregnant women who are repatriated from China on the assumption that the father of the child could be Chinese — and without asking the mother about whether or not that is the case.

Second, the North Korean regime similarly practices a policy of extermination against Christians. If identified by the government, Christians and their families are sent to labor and extermination camps, never to return. This is because Christians — like Jews in Nazi Germany — are officially regarded as enemies of the state and agents of the United States.

This cannot be allowed to stand by the international community if it is to avoid repeating the failures of history in Nazi Germany, Serbia, Rwanda and Cambodia. We need to galvanize world opinion now for action to end the human rights holocaust in North Korea.


3. Domesticating the Divinity. 

By George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow of Washington, D.C.’s Ethics and Public Policy Center,, Crisis Magazine, August 30, 2017

Self-sufficiency—the forgetting of our dependence on the Lord and on the Lord alone—is a perennial temptation for all those who share in the spiritual heritage of Israel. In this twenty-first century, we are no less tempted to domesticate God, and thus to sink into a shallow religious indifference or insouciance, than were our biblical ancestors. In his recent, striking pastoral letter, “Unleash the Gospel,” Archbishop Allen Vigneron of Detroit reflects on this in discussing the roots of the contemporary crisis of faith.

Two factors creating today’s crisis of faith are familiar to most of us: “scientific fundamentalism,” which asserts that the only path to truth is through the empirical scientific method and the natural sciences, and “secular messianism,” which imagines the world to be perfectible by human agency alone. Archbishop Vigneron identified a third factor impeding or corroding faith today, “moralistic therapeutic deism.” He writes:

“This term was famously coined by two sociologists to describe the amorphous set of religious beliefs to which many American young people subscribe. This belief system is moralistic in that it emphasizes moral behavior, vaguely defined as being nice, kind, pleasant, respectful, responsible, and so on. It is therapeutic in that it envisions God as on call to take care of problems that arise in our lives, but not otherwise interested in us nor holding us accountable for our choices. It is deistic in that it views God as having created the world but not personally involved in it. Such views fall short of the Christian understanding of God, who does hold us accountable, who gave his Son for us to save us from the devastating consequences of sin, and who desires to be deeply involved in our lives.”

There are signs all around us of Christian communities domesticating God by trimming their doctrinal and moral sails to the prevailing mores of the postmodern West. It is a temptation against which the Catholic Church, and especially its ordained leaders, should be constantly vigilant.


4. Yes, Paul Ryan Can Be Pro-Capitalist and a Catholic: The House speaker wants to increase economic growth. What could be more progressive than that? 

By Michael R. Strain, Director of Economic Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute, Bloomberg, August 29, 2017, 10:30 AM

At a nationally televised town hall last week, Paul Ryan was asked how he upholds the Catholic Church’s teaching that we should help the poor. Ryan, a Catholic, answered that his emphasis on economic growth, upward mobility and opportunity for all is how, as House speaker, he puts that teaching into practice.

It is always a good time to remind progressives that economic growth is the best antipoverty program the world has ever seen. If you want to put a few hundred extra dollars in the pockets of the poor each month, then by all means redistribute that money from the rich. But it was economic growth, not income redistribution, that gave billions of people enough food to eat, moved children from squalor into classrooms, treated illness with antibiotics, and substantially reduced child mortality rates around the globe.

As recently as 1970, more than one-quarter of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty, surviving on less than $1 a day. Three and a half decades later, only 1 in 20 people did — an 80 percent reduction. Poverty has continued to fall over the past decade. Income per head in India has doubled in the last 10 years. China has boomed. Africa is growing.

Economic growth has done this. The spread of the free-enterprise system has done this.

Important though it is, public policy should focus on more than the aggregate growth rate. Programs specifically targeted at the poor are needed. And Ryan, who clearly takes seriously his duty to the poor, has for years been a leader in pushing new anti-poverty policies. For example, his plan to increase the Earned Income Tax Credit — a key part of our safety net — is a very good one. (It’s also one that many progressives support.)

My point here is not to offer an unqualified defense of the speaker’s policies. 

But the implication that the speaker’s policies are incompatible with his faith takes things too far. Catholics are obligated to exercise judgment about how best to make manifest their special consideration of the poor. U.S. Catholic bishops offer guidance on specific proposals. While Catholics are asked to give weight to that guidance in forming their own views, it is properly thought of as a resource, not as a binding moral teaching.

This is a good arrangement for several reasons, not the least of which is that the Catholic faith is a faith much larger than politics.