Thursday, May 17, 2012

News From Ohio--Center of the Known Universe

  Yes folks, my swing state of Ohio is once more taking center stage nationwide as the election season heats up and the chattering class descends on my little ville in da hills, Steubenville, Ohio. 

Obama opened his "official" campaign not far from here and Mitt Romney was right behind him in visiting our beloved valley.

Now it seems we are to be graced by the presence of true genius as the VP comes in person to deliver his own delusional, seemingly insane brand of rhetoric. I really think Joey Biden suffered an internal breakdown of sorts yesterday.

I must urge you, however, to not be discouraged by the first half of this post. Please read on as there are always good things happening here in "Da Ville"!

#MadeInOhio tour: Soft-serve for everyone...

Vice President Joe Biden went for a doubleheader of a foodie adventure on Wednesday evening while campaigning in Ohio. After a day of stumping in the Buckeye State for his #MadeInOhio tour--and verbally pummeling Mitt Romney--the Veep had dinner in Steubenville.  

He visited the Naples Spaghetti House at 329 North Street--a popular stop for politicians to dine--joined by a local family, the Staffilinos. After, Biden indulged his sweet tooth with a stop at a near-by Dairy Queen, where he enjoyed a chocolate-dipped vanilla cone. The Veep treated the mob in the Dairy Queen to cones, too. (Above: The VP hands out vanilla cones)

Obama Foodorama

While campaigning in Ohio last night, Joe Biden stopped at the Naples Spaghetti House where he crossed paths with a Romney campaign spokesman, Ryan Williams, who questioned him about his policies on coal. Mr. Williams discussed his run-in with Mr. Biden with The Politicker.

“I was sitting at a table next to him. One of his staffers seemed to inform the Vice President that I was a spokesperson for the Romney campaign,” Mr. Williams said. “The Vice President mentioned me by name, asked me to come over. I walked over, I shook his hand, he introduced me to his dinner companions, asked me to sit down. I didn’t sit down. … I asked him, I said, you know, Mr. Vice President, it’s interesting that you’re here in coal country today given your staunch opposition to coal. Do you disagree with that?”

Mr. Williams specifically questioned Mr. Biden about a 2007 statement he made claiming coal pollution was more dangerous to Americans than terrorism.

“That’s a fairly irresponsible comment,” said Mr. Williams. “I asked him about that and he seemed to not want to answer the question, so I went back to my table, and sat down and enjoyed my chicken parmesan.”

Following their encounter, Mr. Williams said Mr. Biden left his table and decamped to an adjoining dining room.

“He got up and moved. He was about three feet from me and, after our interaction, he moved into another part of the rest to finish his meal,” said Mr. Williams. “I didn’t go back and approach him after our interaction, we had already interacted and, as my mother taught me, you should never interrupt people during dinner.”
Mr. Williams apparently enjoyed his meal at the Spaghetti House.

“It was delicious. I would recommend that anybody traveling through Steubenville, Ohio should stop by the Naples Spaghetti House and order the chicken parmesan,” said Mr. Williams.

On the upside of the local is the latest story from my hometown Fransiscan University where I have spent some time tutoring and just discussing the moral, ethical, and ideological issues of the day with many of the students there.

Fransiscan University is claiming that Obamacare has forced the school to end its student heath insurance program. The massive health care overhaul, the university says, has led to cost increases that no longer make offering the program a viable possibility.

The Catholic university in Ohio said Tuesday it is being forced to end a student health insurance program over the Obama administration's contraception mandate and costs associated with other provisions of the health care overhaul.

Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, said it has so far excluded contraceptive services and products from its health insurance policy for students and will not participate in a plan that “requires us to violate the consistent teachings of the Catholic Church on the sacredness of human life.”

Read more: Fox News

Please read the following excerpts from the statements and sermons given concerning this important issue. These are men of extreme courage and faith. They deserve to be recognized and applauded for taking this stand against what amounts to nothing less than tyranny and oppression.

From The Herald Star

The Reverend Terrence Henry, TOR, said Friday morning he was prepared to not comply with a new federal mandate requiring employers to provide birth control measures as part of employee health care coverage.

"We will not comply with this new law and will face whatever we have to face. We will cross that bridge when we come to it. But we are drawing a line in the sand that we will not cross. And if we are forced into a compromise there would be no sense for Franciscan University to exist," Terry said.

"First Amendment rights have always had a preferred position in the law. We cannot compromise with the mandate issued by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is a violation of our deepest held beliefs. If we are coerced by the federal government on this issue, then we could be coerced to violate other beliefs. We are facing signs of totalitarianism," Henry continued.

"As Martin Luther King once said, 'An unjust law is out of harmony with the will of God.' This is an unjust mandate. This is not just a Catholic issue. It is an issue for all people. It attacks our basic religious freedom. Some say we should lobby for an amendment. But that would be acknowledging the federal government has the power to decide our religious freedoms. This is a do or die issue for Americans," said Henry.

"The Catholic Church has always been strongest when she is being persecuted. We must remain strong during this attack on the First Amendment and our religious freedom," said Henry.

"We can't compromise on life issues. It is important to know this is not affecting just our religion. It harms all religions in our country where religious freedom is guaranteed by our Constitution," Henry said.

"The so-called 'religious exemption' will likely not protect hundreds of Catholic colleges, schools and organizations, including Catholic hospitals, nursing homes, and social service agencies which serve people regardless of religious affiliation," Henry wrote in the latest edition of the campus newspaper.

Fred Brower, president and chief executive officer of Trinity Health System, said the health care mandate "was problematic for us as a Catholic education."

"We are affiliated with the ministries of Sylvanian Franciscan Health and the health care ministry of the Sisters of St. Francis of Sylvania. The statement by the Obama administration appears to recognize our concerns. And we have seen a statement issued by the president of the Catholic Health Association indicating issues of concern to the organization have been fixed," said Brower.

Monsignor Kurt Kemo, administrator of the Catholic Diocese of Steubenville, said the Catholic Church is under attack because "Catholic employers, will be forced to offer their employees health coverage that includes sterilization, abortion-inducing drugs and contraception"

Kemo told parishioners on Sunday, "The administration has cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our nation's first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty. And as a result, unless the rule is overturned, we Catholics must be prepared either to violate our consciences, or to drop health coverage for our employees. The administration's sole concession was to give our institutions one year to comply.

"We cannot, we will not comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be made second class citizens. We are already joined by our brothers and sisters of all faiths and many others of good will in this important effort to regain our religious freedom. Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build America's cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise and culture, only to have their posterity stripped of their God-given rights," Kemo stated in a letter read at parishes in the 13-county diocese.

"As a community of faith we must commit ourselves to prayer and fasting that wisdom and justice may prevail, and religious liberty may be restored. Without God, we can do nothing; with God, nothing is impossible. I would also recommend visiting to learn more about this severe assault on religious liberty, and how to contact Congress in support of legislation that would reverse the administration's decision," Kemo wrote in his letter to parishioners throughout the diocese.

Bishop Michael J. Bransfield of the Wheeling-Charleston Catholic Diocese issued a statement in early February asking for prayers that wisdom and justice may prevail.

"This ruling confirmed that virtually all private health plans, including those of Catholic hospitals, charities and schools, will be required to include coverage for sterilizations and contraceptives, including abortion-inducing drugs, and almost all individuals will be forced to buy that coverage as a part of their policies," Bransfield said.

"Even those who are not in agreement with the Catholic Church's teaching on the sanctity of human life recognize that this is a radical break with the tradition of religious liberty and respect for conscience rights," Bransfield added.

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