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Election Time: Turnout

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Yesterday, on our way home from Mass, four young people stood by the side of the road holding up enormous signs. One was hand-painted on a sheet and said “Vote Today.” Maryland has early voting at select areas. The other sign was professionally imprinted – and there were two more identical signs at the next intersection. “We Got Your Back President Obama!” those signs read.

Prince George’s County is a majority-minority county, and when you drive around on Sunday at midday, you see a lot of black folk and a lot of Latinos coming home from church. These signs were on this road, and at that intersection, by design. In the event, there are very few contested seats in Prince George’s County. Sen. Barbara Mikulski is going to win in a walk, Congressman Steny Hoyer does not face serious opposition and, according to a new poll out this morning, incumbent Gov. Martin O’Malley is opening up a wide lead in his race for re-election.

Blast From the Past: John Winthrop

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Earlier this morning, in my post about Michael Gerson's article, I mentioned John Winthrop's "city on a hill" metaphor to which Ronald Reagan added the adjective "shining."

Of course, that city would not have been very "shining" for us Catholics if Winthrop had his way. Here, from 1629, he explains why so many of his fellow Puritans were prepared to set out for Massachusetts Bay:

It will be a service to the Church of great consequence to carry the Gospell into those parts of the world, to helpe on the comminge of the fullnesse of the Gentiles, and to raise a Bulwarke against the kingdome of Ante-Christ which the Jesuites labour to reare up in those parts.

So, the anti-Catholic, pro-Protestant biases of American culture are as old as American culture itself.

Yahoo Watch: James Dobson

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James Dobson has been a critical leader among the religious right for some years now and he has all the subtlety of a chain saw. His organization, Focus on the Family, and its offshoots, do more to spread the conservative Christian creed than any other and have since the Moral Majority folded shop in the late 1980s. Indeed, when someone asked Jerry Falwell who would carry on the torch of the Moral Majority, he did not point to fellow minister Pat Robertson but to the layman Dobson.

Archbishop DiNoia, O.P. On New Vocations

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Archbishop J. Augustine DiNoia, O.P., gave a conference at the Provinicial Chapter of the St. Joseph Province last June on the subject of new vocations to that province. Those who are unfamiliar with the archbishop may recall his giving the homily at the Red Mass earlier this month here in Washington. Those familiar with him, will be unsurprised by the eloquence and the passion of his conference. It is available online here.

2004 Replay?

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At Politico this morning, Jonathan Martin and Alex Isenstadt argue that the political map likely to result from the upcoming midterms will look a lot like the map the 2004 elections yielded, with Democratic gains in the South and rural Midwest over the past two election cycles, headed back to the GOP. The red v. blue map will look as it did before the nation soured on the presidency of George W. Bush.

Three Random Corrections

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A couple of articles on today's "Morning Briefing" and Maureen Fielder's article about the anachronism of the College of Cardinals warrant a comment.

First, in the story "Vatican Pitbulls Make Cardinal" Mary Hunt writes about then-Bishop Donald Wuerl unfortunate experience in Seattle where he was given special authority over certain areas of church life at the expense of Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen. She wrotes that the uproar in Seattle cause the Vatican to pull back and to transfer Wuerl. In fact, it was not just local opposition in Seattle that caused the Vatican to reconsider its attack on Hunthausen. Cardinal John O'Connor was nobody's liberal but he recognized the restrictions against Hunthausen as a threat to the entire episcopacy and vocally supported a protest by the entire bishops' conference. He gets at least some of the credit for ending that scandal.

Gerson, O'Donnell & the First Amendment

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Christine O’Donnell now claims that she thought she had bested her opponent Chris Coons in their discussion of the Constitution, during which she asserted that the separation of church and state was not found in that founding document. To be sure, the phrase “separation of church and state” does not appear in the text of the First, or any other, Amendment, but it is there. As Michael Gerson writes in this morning’s Washington Post, the real problem is that O’Donnell “seems unmotivated by any strong, developed views of the Constitution.” Ya think?

Q & A: Stephen Schneck on Texas-Gov

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This week at Q & A, I asked the participants in last week's panel on the Catholic vote to pick a race they think is really interesting and write about it. As mentioned previously, you can find a video of that panel here.

Professor Stephen Schneck was not on the panel, but as the Director of the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies, he was the sponsor. Today he looks at the governor's race in Texas.

Stephen Schneck: Governor Rick Perry (R) of Texas is going for a history-making third term. It’s increasingly looking like he’ll succeed, with polls now showing about a ten point lead over Democratic challenger Bill White, the popular former mayor of Houston.

Perry got to this point by playing a tricky game, dancing enough with the Tea Partiers to co-opt their momentum and marginalize their fringe—but disentangling himself from their clutch in time to keep enough independent moderates and Texas Latinos in play. Only an unprecendented turnout by Latino voters could disrupt Perry’s endgame at this point.

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February 27- March 12, 2015

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