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Religious LIberty in Florida

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The rising tide of anti-Muslim bigotry has reached the floor of the Florida state legislature, which is considering a new law that would bar state courts from considering any "foreign law, legal code or system" in arbitrations in family court, and divorce proceedings. This bill is targeted at Sharia law but Jewish leaders are also worried that it would bar settlements that use beit din in Orthodox Jewish divorce settlements.

When You Sing, You Pray Twice

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St. Augustine is credited with the saying that he who sings prays twice. So, I suspect we will have a quadruplet of orations when the Sistine Chapel Choir joins with the choir of Westminster Abbey at vespers and Masses this summertime in Rome. How fitting that the Abbey Church dedicated to St. Peter will be sending its choir to the See of Peter.

You could see this coming. After he returned from his State visit to the UK, Pope Benedict XVI was reported to have been exceedingly moved by the prayer service at Westminster Abbey, and especially by the extraordinary music. And what was not to love? Here, as a refresher, the Westminster choir and congregation sing Purcell's "Christ is Made the Sure Foundation" as the Holy Father processed up the nave. (Note that the Anglican clergy know all the words!)

The Landscape of the Election

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Yesterday, I mentioned that some pundits on the right have been comparing the current GOP nominating contest to the 2008 primary fight between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. The longer than usual contest in 2008 – recall that Clinton did not concede until after all the primaries! – turned out to actually help Obama: He had an organization in all 50 states, he had introduced himself to voters, and, importantly, as the first African-American candidate with a real chance at winning, he made his a familiar face.

Do You Know Joseph Kony?

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We have witnessed the power of social media with the Arab Spring. Now, a new Youtube video wants to harness the power of social media to make Ugandan guerilla leader Joseph Kony the most famous man in the world, not to honor him but to call attention to the atrocities he has committed and get him arrested. The video is a half hour long, and once you start you will not be able to start. But, take the time. You will not regret doing so.

Teixeira on the Myths about Independents

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Ruy Teixeira has a very informative and smart article up at TNR about "Independent" voters and the myths that surround them. I confess that I have used the term sloppily in the past when a better designation might be "swing voters." But whatever we call them, they are decisive come election time and, as Teixeira demonstrates, part of the political challenge facing the country is that there is no real way for these swing voters to effectively bring about a less partisan, more deal-making political moment.

Best News of the Night: Kaptur Wins!

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Most everyone was watching the GOP primary in Ohio, but pro-life Democrats who care about the unborn, the undocumented, and unions can celebrate the fact that Cong. Marcy Kaptur beat Cong. Dennis Kucinich in a newly configured district that placed the two Dems in a primary fight. At last count, with 84 percent of the precincts reporting, Kaptur had a 24-point win, which is about as decisive as it gets. Kucinich not only abandoned his pro-life position, he became one of the whiniest members of Congress who did much harm to the causes he championed with his antics, his Limbaugh-quality rhetoric, and his puerile policy stances. Those who seek purity in politicians love politicians like Kucinich, but I just see the flipside of Santorum. Give me a sane centrist like Kaptur any day of the week.

Slouching Towards Tampa

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What rough beast, its hour come round at least, slouches towards Tampa to be nominated?

Mitt Romney’s win in Ohio last night was by the slimmest of margins. With 99.8 percent of precincts reporting, he captured 38 percent of the vote to Rick Santorum’s 37 percent, taking only 12,000 more votes than the former senator out of more than one million votes cast. To achieve his victory, Romney had to follow a method that has worked well in other states: Outspend your rival, in Ohio four-to-one, with heavily negative advertising.

This strategy works, but it has two downsides. First, by angering his opponents, he makes it less likely they will drop out of the race. Santorum and Gingrich, in their speeches last night, complained about Romney’s spending and cast themselves as David’s to his Wall Street-backed Goliath. Santorum and Gingrich both know that if they had not been outspent by such a large margin, they would have won states they have now lost. This does not make them more likely to step aside to allow Romney to begin his pivot to the general election any earlier.

James Q. Wilson: RIP

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Two tributes to James Q. Wilson came across my laptop.
This, from Alan Wolfe, at TNR and this one from Father Robert Imbelli at Commonweal.
To those who think that some of us are a bit hysterical when we worry about the intellectual decline in our public discourse, I would only point out that in the past week, the airwaves were drenched with commentary on the passing of Andrew Brietbart but nary a word about James Wilson. Mr. Breitbart's death is certainly a tragedy for his family, especially because he was so young. But, Wilson was a genuine scholar who contributed to the intellectual life of the nation with a brand of highly informed, self-critical conservatism that was worthy of everyone's attention. Breitbart's death was not a tragedy for the intellectual health of the nation; Wilson's was.

What To Watch For Tonight?

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As always, Politico has its invaluable "Ten Things to Watch For" column in anticipation of the voting today. They list "Who Wins Ohio?" first, and I would make that numbers 1-5 because whoever wins Ohio tonight will have the momentum going forward. But, the list is a great prelude for examining what promises to be, per usualy, a frustrating night of reporting as we are told the vote totals when 1 percent of the precincts have reported, a fact that is meaningless to say the least.

The EU & Gaudium et Spes

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When I got to Puerto Rico on my recent trip, I could not find one of the books I had brought and needed to review. So, I spent some time with another book, published in 2008, by Tracey Rowland, an Australian theologian who is Dean of the John Paul II Institute in Melbourne and a woman whose writings in the Tablet I have long admired. Her book, Ratzinger’s Faith: The Theology of Pope Benedict XVI, not only sheds light on the different influences that have shaped Pope Benedict’s thinking over the years, she also provides a great synopsis on the leading strands in twentieth century Catholic theology. I could not commend this book more highly.

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