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Re-Districting: Mixed News


At first blush, the census numbers bode ill for the Democrats. Traditionally Republican states like Texas, which picked up four congressional seats, and Arizona, Georgia, Utah and South Carolina, all of which gained a single new seat, showed significant growth, and Democratic leaning states like Massachusetts and Illinois lost a seat and New York lost two.
But, much of the growth in Texas, Nevada, Arizona and Florida comes from Latinos who tend to vote Democratic, a trend that will only increase if the GOP sustains its harsh anti-immigrant stance and nominates anti-immigrant bigots like Sharron Angle. Indeed, according to the Cook Report, of Texas's four new seats, two are expected to go to Democrats and two to Republicans. The biggest, most significant, trend in the next decade will be the "purplization" of Texas. In twenty years it will be blue. Whatever short term gains the GOP might reap will be outweighed in the long-term gains of Democrats unless the GOP comes to reason on immigration. And, that is about as likely as Bishop Olmsted inviting the administrators of St. Joseph's Hospital to his Christmas party.

USA: 1; Mitch McConnell: 0


Sixty-seven senators voted to invoke closure on the START Treaty yesterday, the same number needed to ratify the agreement that will reduce nuclear warheads and guarantee a restoration of inspections of Russian missile sites.

The vote is a victory for common sense in the conduct of foreign affairs and a defeat for the "Never give a win to Obama no matter what" stance adopted by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Episcopal Failure in Phoenix


Bishop Thomas Olmsted has ordered St. Joseph Hospital to cease calling itself Catholic because it failed to abide by a series of ultimatums he issued previously. As well, the hospital chapel will no longer be able to reserve the Blessed Sacrament on premise nor hold Masses there.

I wrote about this mess earlier this week. I am glad to see that at least today the bishop mentioned God and not just canon law.

The decision comes after negotiations between Bishop Olmsted and Catholic Healthcare West, which runs the hospital in question. None of us knows what went on in those negotiations but if the bishop's public statements are any guide, it was less of a discussion than an interrogation.

We know something else about the entire sad episode. It represents a failure on Olmsted's part of the highest order. When discussions like these end up being conducted by press conference and in the pages of the local newspaper, the local bishop has failed to lead.

Giving ultimatums is not leadership. Giving ultimatums is what those who have failed to lead resort to in desperation.

UConn Set To Break Record


It is not often that you wake up knowing that news will be made that day, but tonight we know news will be made. The UConn women's basketball team is set to break the all-time record for most consecutive wins by an NCAA team in any sport. The record is currently held by the UCLA men's basketball team during the years of John Wooden.

In Connecticut, you will see signs that read "Geno is God" a reference to the UConn coach, Geno Auriemma. You will discover thousands of people attending women's basketball games. The Women Huskies are the talk and toast of the Nutmeg State. It is quite remarkable.

It is also quite new. If you do not think government has the power to change the life of a culture, recall that Title IX, which required equal funding for women's athletics at colleges and universities, was only passed in 1972. That is within our lifetime, a large and increasingly wide avenue for women's equality has opened up, providing young women with opportunities and life lessons that had previously been reserved for men.

One more thing. If you have never watched a game of UConn women's basketball, be prepared. They are really, really good.

Silk on Military Chaplains after DADT


The always wise and balanced Mark Silk has a good post that explains how the military chaplains should show the same sense of balance in a military without DADT as the First Amendment jurisprudence would commend.

Of course, we all have our problems with First Amendment jurisprudence which resembles goulash, but Silk is right to resist the more extreme interpretations of what the repeal of DADT does and does not mean for military chaplains.

DC's Most Influential Catholic


The Washington Post has a long profile of National Security Adviser Tom Donilon, an alumnus of Catholic University. Donilon, whose brother is the communications director of the Archdiocese of Boston, may not be the highest-ranking Catholic in Washington, but he may be the most influential.

Donilon was a professor of mine in 1981 when he taught a course on presidential election politics. He is very smart, very comprehensive in his analysis of any given topic, deeply read as well as widely read (they are not the same thing) and super funny. As the article details, he also is pointing the country towards some of the long-term foreign policy challenges that were neglected woefully by the neo-cons in the Bush administration.

USCCB & The 111th Congress


As the 111th Congress comes to a close, The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has to ask if their current methods for trying to influence the nation’s political system are working. And if they are honest, they will admit the answer is “no” and begin re-thinking how they can help build up a more just society.

Just this past Saturday, Republican senators, joined by a handful of conservative Democrats, blocked consideration of the DREAM Act. The bishops lobbied for the measure but there was nothing like the effort they expended on behalf of the Stupak Amendment-language on restricting abortion funding last year. In the event, they lost that vote too. Those were the two biggest issues on which the bishops weighed in this year and they lost both.

Yahoo Watch:


Over at, which is now home to the blog "the American Papist," they list their top ten reasons for hope coming out of 2010.

Poor Pope Benedict: His fine, foundational speech at Westminster Hall and the "Pope Visit to England" only merited #7 on their slot. (Oddly, the accompanying video only has shots of the Pope in Scotland, not England, but not matter.)

#9 is a true winner, "Tea Party and Subsidiarity" although from my reading of the Tea Party, they miss the fact that subsidiarity is a two way street, requiring action at the lowest level of government possible, but demanding it at higher levels when lower levels fail to act. At least the accompanying video is on the mark, showing shouting, angry white people.

But, the number one reason for hope? The 2010 elections. That's right, the Speakership of John Boehner is greater cause for hope among Catholics than anything else. Yeesh.

Ross Douthat & the New Evangelization


In his essay today at the New York Times, Ross Douthat discusses two important new books on the role of religion in American culture. And, though he does not employ the phrase, he makes the case for the New Evangelization. He writes about the happy consequences of faith, the increase in altruism, etc. But, the Christian faith will only flourish when it is grasped as true, not when it is seen to be sociall beneficial. That is why we need a New Evangelization. Not to protect "traditional marriage." Not to engender altruism. But, because we believe the admittedlty outrageous claims of our faith are true.

Dems Backing Off Religious Outreach?


This artilce by Tiffany Stanley at The New Republic highlights one of the principle difficulties afflicting the Democrats today: After Obama's 2008 victory, they have paid little or no attention to closing the "God Gap." The article is a must-read for anyone engaged in Democratic Party strategy. America may not be a "Christian nation" but it is a nation of Christians and the Dems ignore religiously motivated voters at their peril. Even more important than outreach, religiously motivated voters must be considered when framing the Dems' message.


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In This Issue

August 28-September 10, 2015


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