Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category

Pope Francis’ political agenda is finally meeting with substantial resistance. Cardinal Raymond Burke issued a warning to Pope Francis, saying “The pope does not have the power to change teaching [or] doctrine.”

Since becoming pope, Francis has embarked on a liberal political agenda that isn’t well thought out. I wrote about a pair of his disasters in this post. Pope Francis’ closest advisor “castigated conservative climate change skeptics in the United States Tuesday, blaming capitalism for their views.” The other heresy propagated by Pope Francis was the Vatican “officially [recognizing] the state of Palestine in a new treaty finalized Wednesday.”

Based on what we’ve seen thus far, Pope Francis isn’t a man of faith. Instead, he’s apparently a man with deeply held political beliefs.

A staunch conservative and Vatican bureaucrat, Burke had been demoted by the pope a few months earlier, but it did not take the fight out of him. Francis had been backing a more inclusive era, giving space to progressive voices on divorced Catholics as well as gays and lesbians. In front of the camera, Burke said he would “resist” liberal changes — and seemed to caution Francis about the limits of his authority. “One must be very attentive regarding the power of the pope,” Burke told the French news crew.

It’s understandable that a pope would want to sound inclusive. It’s also wrong when it contradicts the teachings of the Bible. It’s one thing to offer forgiveness to repentant sinners. That’s the true nature of forgiveness. It’s another to provide political cover for unrepentant sinners. That’s known as appeasement. HINT: There’s nothing virtuous about appeasement.

Based on this article, Hillary’s attempt to capitalize politically on the Charleston Massacre is failing. Check this out:

Hillary Rodham Clinton delivered on Saturday her boldest remarks yet on race and gun violence, topics that have quickly become some of the most prominent and divisive in the presidential campaign, particularly after Wednesday’s mass shooting in Charleston, S.C.

“It’s tempting to dismiss a tragedy like this as an isolated incident, to believe that in today’s America bigotry is largely behind us, that institutionalized racism no longer exists,” Mrs. Clinton said in a speech in San Francisco. “But despite our best efforts and our highest hopes, America’s long struggle with race is far from finished.”

Invoking President Obama at times, Mrs. Clinton called for a “common sense” approach to gun laws, pledging to take swift action if elected. She did not, however, make clear how she would navigate the divide in Congress that has undercut Mr. Obama’s own efforts to pass gun laws. “The president is right. The politics on this issue have been poisoned,” Mrs. Clinton said. “But we can’t give up. The stakes are too high. The costs are too dear. And I am not and will not be afraid to keep fighting for common sense reforms.”

Mrs. Clinton, it’s easy talking about “common sense reforms” without explaining the details. Who isn’t for common sense reforms of whatever the subject is? The thing about “common sense reforms” without including the reforms’ details is that it sounds like a cheap politician repeating a focus group-tested message. That isn’t a solution. One thing that’s apparent is that Mrs. Clinton isn’t interested in leading.

Will Mrs. Clinton propose a ban on assault weapons like her husband passed? Or will she propose closing the non-existent gun show loophole? Will she propose things like they passed in Colorado and New York? Will Mrs. Clinton propose something entirely different? Proposing gun control legislation will fire up Hillary’s supporters. It won’t solve problems.

The important question that Ed Henry or other journalists with integrity should ask Sec. Clinton is how gun control would’ve made a difference at that church in Charleston last week. If she can’t answer that, then the next question should be why Hillary’s pushing gun control when it wouldn’t have solved anything.

It’s time reporters put Hillary on the spot. Let Hillary know that we’ll reject her if she isn’t offering solutions. Send Hillary the message that we won’t tolerate her chatting about checking off items from her ideological wish list.

This video is one of the most intense, emotional and unforgettable videos I’ve ever seen. I won’t be surprised if I never forget it:

Representatives for the 9 victims of the Charleston church shooting were given the option of making a statement to the confessed gunman. While some representatives chose not to make a statement, the representatives who spoke through their pain and forgave the shooter despite their intense pain. Here’s a sampling of their statements:

“You have killed some of the most beautifulest people that I know,” Felecia Sanders, mother of victim Tywanza Sanders, told Dylann Roof, speaking from the courtroom. “Every fiber in my body hurts … May God have mercy on you.”

The daughter of Ethel Lance, another of the nine victims in the Wednesday night attack at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, had a similar message for the 21-year-old alleged killer, who police believe attended a Bible study meeting at the church, where he was embraced by strangers only to open fire on them for no apparent reason. “You hurt a lot of people,” she said, “But I forgive you.”

“Repent. Confess. Give your life to the one who matters the most, Christ, so He can change your ways no matter what happens to you and you’ll be OK,” said Anthony Thompson, who represented the family of victim Myra Thompson.

Thursday, the nation heard too often from politicians pandering to their political supporters during a time of grief. It’s understatement to say that they disgraced themselves. Hillary Clinton and President Obama were particularly offensive in that respect.

Friday, America heard from the victims’ families. Through their grief, they still managed to live out the things Pastor Clementa Pinckney taught them at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. With their statements, they taught our ‘leaders’ how to lead. Citizens showed us how to unite our nation. Hillary and President Obama failed miserably at uniting the nation.

To be fair, not all political leaders failed in striking a uniting tone. Ben Carson shined in his attempt to be a uniter:

CARSON: The heart of the matter is not guns. The heart of the matter is the heart, the heart and soul of people. This young man didn’t wake up yesterday and suddenly turn into a maniac. Clearly there have been things in his background, in his upbringing that led to the type of mentality that would allow him to do something like this. And one of the things that I think we really need to start concentrating on in this country is once again instilling the right kinds of values, particularly in our young people. We’re so busy giving away all of our values and principles for the sake of political correctness that we have people floating around out there with no solid foundation of beliefs.

Guns aren’t the problem. They’re inanimate objects, capable of inflicting incredible pain or stopping senseless violence. Guns are just the tool of choice used by evil people to destroy human life.

Thankfully, the people representing the victims of this senseless violence understand that. I’d rejoice if our ‘leaders’ figured that out instead of their grandstanding.

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Kirsten Powers’ latest column is, being charitable, misguided:

Pope Francis will release a teaching letter, known as an encyclical, on Thursday that’s thought to be the first in the church’s history to focus on the environment. A leaked version of the document endorses the notion that human activity contributes to climate change and that this menace disproportionately harms the poor.

Many U.S. conservatives are not pleased, believing that that the Vatican is blindly bending to elite opinion and stepping out of its lane. Leave the climate change issue to the politicians, they argue. Some conservative Catholics have expressed concern to me that Pope Francis is pulling a “reverse Galileo” by endorsing science that could turn out to be wrong, thus harming the credibility of the Catholic Church.

Perhaps there should be more concern in the alternative. If the science is correct, then how would the church’s silence in obeisance to conservative climate skepticism enhance its credibility? After all, the American Association for the Advancement of Science announced in 2014 that the scientific consensus that “climate change is happening, and human activity is the cause” is as airtight as the “science linking smoking to lung and cardiovascular diseases.”

Climate change isn’t science. It’s conjecture built on models that don’t use accurate temperature data. The process itself is flawed, too. They don’t use the double blind procedure. That’s the gold standard in scientific testing because it ensures that the person who does the data analysis doesn’t do the data collection or inputting the data.

As for this consensus, it’s overrated when the scientists are corrupt. This is the Hockey Stick graph used in the IPCC’s report:

Here’s the modified hockey stick graph used in a later release of the IPCC report after scientists objected to the first Hockey Stick graph:

Those graphs don’t look like each other. At all. So much for consensus and the airtight nature of the science.

The Catholic Church’s credibility won’t crumble because of Pope Francis’ encyclical. Pope Francis’ credibility, though, is already struggling. Thus far, he seems more like a far left activist than a pontiff.

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I’ve written before about Pope Francis’ trip into the world of climate change. When he was picked to be pontiff, he wasn’t picked to be a delegate to UN climate change events. That hasn’t stopped Francis from throwing the weight of his office behind his ultra-liberal causes:

Pope Francis will this week call for changes in lifestyles and energy consumption to avert the “unprecedented destruction of the ecosystem” before the end of this century, according to a leaked draft of a papal encyclical. In a document released by an Italian magazine on Monday, the pontiff will warn that failure to act would have “grave consequences for all of us”.

Francis also called for a new global political authority tasked with “tackling … the reduction of pollution and the development of poor countries and regions”. His appeal echoed that of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, who in a 2009 encyclical proposed a kind of super-UN to deal with the world’s economic problems and injustices.

I wasn’t aware that Pope Francis had gotten a doctorate in climate science. If he hasn’t gotten that type of degree, perhaps he should stick tradition papal responsibilities like preaching the Gospel and explaining who Jesus Christ is.

The Great Commission and the Great Commandment, which certainly pertain to Christian leaders, instructs those leaders to “preach the Gospel wherever you go” and to “love your neighbor as yourself.” It’s difficult to understand how writing encyclicals about climate change fits in God’s job description for Christian leaders.

“Humanity is called to take note of the need for changes in lifestyle and changes in methods of production and consumption to combat this warming, or at least the human causes that produce and accentuate it,” he wrote in the draft. “Numerous scientific studies indicate that the greater part of the global warming in recent decades is due to the great concentration of greenhouse gases … given off above all because of human activity.”

Perhaps, this is Pope Francis’ attempt to be relevant beyond the church walls. Perhaps he’s just an attention-seeker. Perhaps it’s both. Either way, his upcoming encyclical is based on junk science.

This encyclical doesn’t meet the church’s definition for encyclicals:

From the nature of the case encyclicals addressed to the bishops of the world are generally concerned with matters which affect the welfare of the Church at large. They condemn some prevalent form of error, point out dangers which threaten faith or morals, exhort the faithful to constancy, or prescribe remedies for evils foreseen or already existent.

It’s difficult to see how this encyclical about climate change will highlight the “dangers which threaten [the] faith or morals” of the church or “exhort the faithful to constancy.” This encyclical seems more political than biblical.

It’s bad enough when politicians think that they’re scientists. It’s worse when pontiffs think they’re scientists.

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This story has been bouncing around the internet all week. The progressive left has attempted to use the story to tar Scott Walker. First, here’s what Gov. Walker said:

We signed a law that requires an ultrasound. Which, the thing about that, the media tried to make that sound like that was a crazy idea. Most people I talk to, whether they’re pro-life or not, I find people all the time who’ll get out their iPhone and show me a picture of their grandkids’ ultrasound and how excited they are, so that’s a lovely thing. I think about my sons are 19 and 20, you know we still have their first ultrasound picture. It’s just a cool thing out there.

Naturally, the abortion industry (and that’s just what it is) is outraged:

Walker’s comments drew criticism from pro abortion rights groups. Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards called his remarks “appalling” and said, “Women are very clear that forced government ultrasounds are not ‘cool.'”

First, it isn’t surprising that one of the leaders in the abortion industry is upset. Wisconsin’s law is probably reducing the number of abortions in that state. That means Planned Parenthood’s income has probably dropped. Couple that with the fact that Gov. Walker dried up funding to Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin’s government funding and it isn’t a stretch to think that Gov. Walker is Public Enemy No. 1 in Planned Parenthood’s eyes. Frankly, it wouldn’t be a stretch to think Gov. Walker would occupy the top 5 slots on Planned Parenthood’s Public Enemies list.

This statement is from the Guttmacher Institute:

“Since routine ultrasound is not considered medically necessary as a component of first-trimester abortion, the requirements appear to be a veiled attempt to personify the fetus and dissuade a woman from obtaining an abortion,” researchers at the Guttmacher Institute wrote.

The Catholic Education Resource Center responded with this statement:

“The manipulation of language has long been one of the hallmarks of the pro-choice position,” according to an argument on the Catholic Education Resource Center website. “But with ultrasound, words no longer matter so much: The abstract melts into the concrete and the personal. This powerful emotional appeal will continue to grow as 3-D ultrasound enters the mainstream.”

The truth is that Planned Parenthood is upset that this technology is eating into their revenues. Anybody that thinks that Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice USA or NOW cares about anything more than the income from performing abortion procedures is kidding themselves.

These abortionists care mostly about their income and their industry.

Congratulations to Gov. Walker and the Wisconsin legislature for writing and passing the ultrasound legislation and for defunding Planned Parenthood. They’re true pro-life heroes.

I’ve got news for all the people talking about the new pope in glowing terms. The Vatican has lost its way. Badly:

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican officially recognized the state of Palestine in a new treaty finalized Wednesday, immediately sparking Israeli ire and accusations that the move hurt peace prospects.

The treaty, which concerns the activities of the Catholic Church in Palestinian territory, makes clear that the Holy See has switched its diplomatic recognition from the Palestine Liberation Organization to the state of Palestine.

The Vatican had welcomed the decision by the U.N. General Assembly in 2012 to recognize a Palestinian state. But the treaty is the first legal document negotiated between the Holy See and the Palestinian state and constitutes official diplomatic recognition. “Yes, it’s a recognition that the state exists,” said the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi.

The Israeli foreign ministry said it was “disappointed.” “This move does not promote the peace process and distances the Palestinian leadership from returning to direct and bilateral negotiations,” the ministry said in a text message.

It’s pretty pathetic that the Vatican would recognize the Palestinians without demanding that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state. That isn’t the only mistake the Vatican is making:

Pope Francis’ closest adviser castigated conservative climate change skeptics in the United States Tuesday, blaming capitalism for their views.

Speaking with journalists, Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga criticized certain “movements” in the United States that have preemptively come out in opposition to Francis’s planned encyclical on climate change.

“The ideology surrounding environmental issues is too tied to a capitalism that doesn’t want to stop ruining the environment because they don’t want to give up their profits,” Rodríguez said, according to the Boston Globe’s Crux blog.

As an evangelical Christian, I don’t understand what climate change has to do with a person’s religious faith. It doesn’t have anything to do with the 2 greatest doctrines of the church, the Great Commandment or the Great Commission.

As for Cardinal Maradiaga’s vilification of capitalism, that’s warped thinking, too. It’s impossible to think that Cardinal Maradiaga could fashion a persuasive argument that one economic system is less sinful than another.

Though there isn’t tons of material to base opinions of Pope Francis off of, there’s still sufficient material to say that he’s wading into political issues more than all other popes prior to his papacy in my lifetime. There’s little doubt, too, that Francis is the most liberal pope of my lifetime.

This article offers an opportunity to conduct a thought experiment. First, it’s important to establish a base of understanding:

  1. Several professors put together a panel on the Charlie Hebdo murders; the panel was promoted with the flyer quoted above, which includes the cover of the first post-murder issue, with a “CENSORED” stamp added on top of it. “The flyer was published on the various unit sponsors’ websites and elsewhere on campus.” The event, according to the participants, drew a lot of attendees, and apparently wasn’t disrupted in any way.
  2. But then, after the event, “eight people — four students, a retired professor, an adjunct professor and two others from outside the university — contacted equal opportunity personnel to express concern that the flyer ‘featured a depiction of Muhammad, which they and many other Muslims consider blasphemous and/or insulting.’” The university also got a petition from 260 students and staff members, plus about 45 others, which condemned the flyer as “very offensive” and said it “violated our religious identity and hurt our deeply held religious affiliations for our beloved prophet (peace be upon him). Knowing that these caricatures hurt and are condemned by 1.75 billion Muslims in the world, the university should not have recirculated/reproduced them.”

Here’s the summary of what should be done:

The [Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action] said in its summary for the dean, the poster had “significant negative repercussions.” And given the “large-scale” global protests against the image in question, “the organizers knew or should have known” that their decision to reprint the image “would offend, insult and alienate some not-insignificant proportion of the university’s Muslim community on the basis of their religious identity,” the office added. It said the hurt was heightened by the fact that the insulting speech came from those with “positional power” at Minnesota.

Consequently, the office wrote, “university members should condemn insults made to a religious community in the name of free speech.” Equal opportunity administrators told [John Coleman, dean of the College of Liberal Arts,] that he had the “opportunity to lead in creating an inclusive and welcoming environment for Muslim students by adding your own speech to the dialogue advocating for civility and respect by [college] faculty.”

It’s clear that the highest priority of the “Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action” is to a) create “an inclusive and welcoming environment for Muslim students” and b) to not “offend, insult and alienate some not-insignificant proportion of the university’s Muslim community on the basis of their religious identity.”

My question for Dr. Coleman, the dean of the College of Liberal Arts, is simple. If Dr. Coleman accepts these recommendations, is he prepared to implement these recommendations for people of all faiths?

I’m not proposing that he adopt any of these recommendations. I’m not proposing anything, with the exception of applying the First Amendment consistently and correctly to all University students and employees.

It’s worth noting, though, that radical adherents of Islam react violently when confronted with objectionable depictions of Muhammad but that the vilest representatives of Christianity, aka the Westboro Baptist Church, show up at funerals with disgusting signs. Another thing worth noting is that universities are told to establish “an inclusive and welcoming environment” for Muslims but aren’t told to establish that type of environment for Christians.

Perhaps Dr. Coleman can explain that policy. Perhaps but I’d bet not.

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Just when I thought it was safe to listen to former State Sen. Steve Murphy again, he said something strikingly stupid. Friday night on Almanac’s Roundtable, Indiana’s RFRA law was brought up. Here’s what Murphy said:

I really don’t think nationally that we need any laws like that.

That isn’t just strikingly stupid. It’s frightening that a politician wouldn’t know that Bill Clinton signed RFRA into law in 1993 or that it passed the House unanimously and the Senate with overwhelming bipartisan support. Further, it’s frightening that a politician wouldn’t remember that RFRA was cited by Justice Samuel Alito’s majority opinion in the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision:

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) prohibits the “Government [from] substantially burden[ing] a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability” unless the Government “demonstrates that application of the burden to the person—(1) is in furtherance of a compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.” 42 U. S. C. §§2000bb–1(a), (b). As amended by the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA), RFRA covers “any exercise of religion, whether or not compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief.” §2000cc–5(7)(A).

Simply put, the government can’t force people to act against their religious beliefs unless the government can offer a compelling reason for restricting a person’s religious rights. Even if the government can provide a compelling reason for limiting a person’s religious beliefs, the government’s solution must be “is the least restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental interest.”

Earlier in the segment, Ember Reichgott-Junge said that “the Religious Right” is wise in not introducing RFRA legislation. I’d just recommend Sen. Reichgott-Junge read John Hinderaker’s post about RFRA. Specifically, she should read this part of John’s post:

The hysterical reaction to Indiana’s law can only be described as insane. As we noted here, there is a federal RFRA that governs federal laws, 19 states have their own RFRAs, and ten other states have adopted the “strict scrutiny” standard of the Indiana statute by judicial opinion. Governor Dayton is perhaps unaware that Minnesota is one of those ten states. Hill-Murray Fed’n of Teachers v. Hill-Murray High School, 487 N.W.2d 857, 865 (Minn. 1992); State v. Hershberger, 462 N.W.2d 393, 398 (Minn. 1990).

Remember that these are prominent former DFL state senators. When they’re sworn in, they swear an oath to “support the Constitution of the United States, the constitution of this state and to faithfully discharge the duties of his office to the best of his judgment and ability.” It’s impossible to support the US Constitution if you don’t know what’s in it.

Finally, Sen. Murphy is the guy who said that he wasn’t trying to hide tax increases in his transportation bill. He’s also famous for saying this:

“Everything is fun and games until someone gets an eye poked out, and the governor just poked out my eye by vetoing this bill,” said Sen. Steve Murphy, DFL-Red Wing. “I think that is a clear indication he wants a train wreck at the end of session. He wants the Legislature to fail, and he wants to blame us.”

Steve Murphy and Ember Reichgott-Junge’s ignorance of the Constitution and major Minnesota court cases are frightening, especially considering the fact that the DFL is the party that thinks government is the dispenser of good things. Frankly, these DFL has-beens couldn’t support the Constitution they wore to uphold.

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The Democrats must think that they have to push their fake War on Women meme. This week, it’s TakeAction Minnesota’ Dan McGrath’s turn to push that dishonest meme:

The Hobby Lobby and Harris v. Quinn rulings handed down by the Supreme Court’s conservative and male majority lay bare exactly what they value. And it’s not caring for each other. Nor is it a woman’s right to make her own decisions. Instead, these justices value ever-expanding corporate power at the expense of working people and believe that women, and the professions they lead, are worth less than others. In ruling as they did on two very disparate topics, these five men have launched an assault on women in the workplace. But it’s workers and their families who should be concerned.

In the Hobby Lobby ruling, the conservative majority took the absurd notion that corporations are people one step further. In its earlier Citizens’ United ruling, these justices granted corporations the right of free speech, and thus the ability to spend limitless amounts of money in elections. Now, these same justices have established corporate religious freedom, and the right to refuse women contraception. As the power of corporations expands, a woman’s ability to decide what is in her own best interest is diminished. That this ruling applies to “closely held” corporations means that as much as 52 percent of the American workforce may be affected.

First, I’d love hearing where the First Amendment only pertains to individuals. I still haven’t heard a Democrat point to the part of this text that says the First Amendment’s protections only pertain to individuals:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The First Amendment talks about “the right of people peaceably to assemble.” Otherwise, there’s no hint on whether they thought the First Amendment should apply only to individuals.

What compelling case can Democrats make that the political speech of corporations is less legitimate than the political speech of individuals? Should LLCs with 3 owners be allowed to express their political beliefs but corporations with 50 stockholders be prohibited from expressing their political beliefs? If Democrats think that, why do they think that?

Hobby Lobby simply said that they’d offer insurance that covered 16 forms of contraceptives, not 20. Am I to think that women are incapable of making the right decision in that situation? Further, should I think that women working at Hobby Lobby can’t afford to pay for the other types of contraceptives? After all, they make twice the rate of minimum wage.

What right do women have to have their contraceptives paid for? If I received $10 for each time I’ve heard the left talk about reproductive rights are a woman’s private decision, I’d be wealthy and then some. If it’s that private, then women should bear some of that responsibility.

Finally, why should government tell people that they can’t practice their faith? The First Amendment certainly promises people that government can’t tell them how to practice their faith. That’s one of the biggest reasons why people left Europe.

In Harris v. Quinn the same five justices ruled that workers who provide care to children, the elderly and disabled are only partial government workers and, therefore, can opt out of paying union dues, even if they benefit from workplace protections obtained by a union. While public employee unions are already finding ways to adapt, this is a serious blow to their strength. But it’s an even bigger blow to care providers, 90 percent of whom in Minnesota are women, many of whom are women of color.

In Harris v. Quinn, the Supreme Court said that small business owners have the right to determine who represents them in petitioning the legislature. In fact, the National Labor Relations Act prohibits business owners from belonging to a union. The high court decided that small business owners aren’t public employees, at least in the sense that a PR person for a public agency is a public employee.

This is pure BS:

Homecare is one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy. But the wages these workers earn are paltry. The average wage of non-union caregivers is $9-11 per hour. In Illinois, whose homecare union was the subject of the court case, wages are $13 per hour. By limiting the power of these workers to bargain for better wages and set higher professional standards workers and those they serve lose out. While anyone who depends on a caregiver knows their work is priceless, these five justices are saying that work in the home is less valuable than other male dominated professions.

That’s a non sequitur argument. Child care provider establish their rates independent of government. If they want to negotiate a raise for themeselves, they negotiate with the parents who get the check. They don’t negotiate with the commissioner of Human Services.

If they think that government should spend more money on this assistance, then they petition for higher assistance rates. When they do that, they’re the ones who determine whether they should hire a lobbyist, a trade organization, join a union or just lobby the legislature themselves. That’s their decision alone.

The unions are dishonest in saying the Supreme Court is anti-women. That’s insulting. They aren’t anti-women. They’re just pro-Constitution. The dirty little secret is that unions don’t care about women. They see unionizing them as their best opportunity to gain more political clout.

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