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Note to Readers

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Dear Readers,
Friday at 6 a.m. I will board a flight for my annual pilgrimage to Puerto Rico where I celebrate my birthday each year with old family friends, the most beautiful beaches in the world, lots of mofongo, pernil, whole fried snapper, pio nonos, and enough rum punches and margaritas to challenge the strongest of livers! I shall be bringing my computer but have two books to read and review, a major lecture to write, and I hope not to be checking the news overly much. Put differently, the blog is going on vacation for a few days too. I will likely post on the results of the Arizona and Michigan primaries next Wednesday and, God willing, will arrive back in Washington that same evening and be back with my regular blogging schedule next Thursday, March 1.

And, if you think I am ambivalent about Obama's "accommodation," that is nothing compared to the ambivalence I feel about turning - gulp! - 50!

U.S.: Secular or Christian?

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Rosalind Helderman, in this morning's Post, looks at the battle over the role of faith in politics. The article focuses on some of the things Rick Santorum has said on the campaign trail that are sure to raise eyebrows, but have only come to light now that the spotlight has shown on him more closely. One thing is obvious, although no one in the GOP can bring themselves to admit it: It is true that American society and culture are more deeply religious than other Western democracies, but it is also true that our constitutional system is decidedly secular. And, Mr. Santorum is never going to acknowledge that these twin poles of religioisty and secularity have co-existed as well as they have only because in America, religion is viewed in a distinctly Protestant way, as an essentially private matter, between the individual and God.

Two From WaPo

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Yesterday, Ruth Marcus had a great op-ed about the political, and cultural, divergence between Democratic activists inside the Beltway and Democratic voters outside the Beltway. It is clearly part of this White House's calculation that they must side with the inside-the-Beltway crowd if only to guarantee strong fundraising numbers but that, at times, as in the recent controversy over religious liberty, that calculation hits a bump.

And, this morning, E.J. Dionne has a great op-ed on the continuing slander thrown at President Obama that he is somehow un-American. This abuse, sadly, often comes from religious leaders, most recently Rev. Franklin Graham. Even those religious leaders who oppose certain policies the president has proposed should be mindful of their rhetoric lest they feed this hatefulness that is itself quite un-American.

The GOP's \"B\" Team

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The way we Americans conduct our presidential campaigns leaves much to be desired. We sell candidates with TV ads the way we sell Doritos, except that the company that makes Doritos takes out ads proclaiming the deliciousness of its product, not attacking the Lays potato chips as cancer-causing, un-tasty snacks. We sit through debates that often focus on soundbites and stupidities. And, our mainstream media, needing to convey complex issues in “TV time” (in “TV time” five minutes is an eternity), abets the superficiality with which the contemporary candidates are forced to confront issues.

Remembering Don Giussani

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For many, today is George Washington's Birthday. But, for a smaller number of us, today is the day on which Don Luigi Giussani was called home to God. I have never formally been a member of Communione e Liberazione, but I can say of Giussani's books what I can say of precious few other books - they changed my life, opening a window into our Catholic faith that I had not known of previously and through which I have since viewed our Church. Just today, someone said to me, "You are so CL!" which I took as a great compliment. I am not a person given to regrets, but I do regret that I never had the chance to meet this man who has so profoundly touched the life of the Church and so many of the flock.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and may perpetual light shine upon him.

Henneberger Nails It

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In this morning's Washington Post, Melinda Henneberger looks at the shifting sands in the contraception debate and how that debate is being put to good fundraising use by the Democrats and women's groups. There is this strange symbiotic relationship that has developed between pro-choice and pro-life groups and you can see it on the cable shows and in the fundraising appeals. Most voters are focused on jobs and the economy. Most candidates, especially the Republicans, desperately want to talk about anything but contraception. But, they have no one to blame but themselves for te narrative that has emerged and the USCCB must tread carefully lest it appear to be over-playing its hand and tying its wagon to any particular partisan horse.

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