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Democrats ready to make further abortion concessions

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The pressure by abortion opponents appears to be paying off as House Democratic leaders signaled that they were prepared to make further changes to their health care bill.

Generally speaking, Democrats had argued that the health care legislation would make no change to existing federal laws regarding how tax dollars could be used to pay for abortions.

Return of the Perotistas

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The fastest growing part of the electorate are neither the Dems nor the Republicans. It is independent or unaffiliated voters. And, among all the soothsayers and talking heads tonight, the one thing to look for is how these independents vote tonight.

I base my analysis on my experience of working on a campaign in Connecticut’s second congressional district, where independents hold the balance of decision in the electorate. Whoever wins them will win the election as there are neither enough registered Democrats or Republicans to carry the district. It is a classic swing district.

Which is not to say that all independent voters are necessarily swing voters. A large chunk of them are more properly identified as Perot voters. This slice of the electorate is deeply suspicious of all elites and specifically of big government, big business, big unions. They are well represented at the Tea Party protests. They usually vote Republican except when the GOP has been in power for too long and then they respond easily, albeit somewhat uncritically, to the mantra “It’s time for a change.” I suspect some people voted for Perot in 1992 and Barack Obama last year, but not many.

Nature makes us kinder, more social

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In a set of recent experiments, researchers at the University of Rochester in New York monitored the effects of natural versus artificial environments, and found that nature makes us kinder and more caring.

"Previous studies have shown the health benefits of nature range from more rapid healing to stress reduction to improved mental performance and vitality," says Richard Ryan, professor of psychology, psychiatry and education at the University of Rochester, and co-author of the study, published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

"Now we've found nature brings out more social feelings, more value for community and close relationships. People are more caring when they're around nature," he says.

The effect doesn't necessarily hinge on daily hikes through fields and woods as much as it does paying attention to the natural elements we encounter every day. "It's about stopping and smelling the roses as opposed to passing them by while thinking of your next meeting," says Ryan.

The Eternal Now

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There are many hazards to working in the media: ego, self-indulgence, profit vs. creativity. But the biggest may be a certain loss of perspective, as the business chases after the newest new thing, convinced history is no guide and nothing is as it used to be.

Two articles in the Los Angeles Times are a quaint reminder that, wait-a-minute, human beings are always human beings and things really don’t change all that much.

\"We, though many, are one ...\"

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"We, though many, are one ..." --Rom 12:5

I like the little stickers they give you at the polling place for showing up to vote. I wear mine all day, glad I got to participate.

The common good is one of the basic social justice principles, and I apply this to ballot issues that may not affect me directly but serve the general good. Retired seniors do this when they support school bonds or sales tax initiatives for projects they won't benefit from personally but that are good for the community.

Down to the wire

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Voters in many locales and states are going to the polls today. In my little corner of democracy we vote on a city measure to ban smoking in all public areas and whether or not to renew a 1/8 cent sales tax to support county law enforcement. I don't expect too much media attention in my hometown.

The election in Maine won't be as quiet. Voters there are being asked to vote yes or no on Question 1, which reads: "Do you want to reject the new law that lets same-sex couples marry and allows individuals and religious groups to refuse to perform these marriages?"

Saint of the Day, Nov. 3

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Saint of the Day, Nov. 3

Nov. 3 is the feast of St. Martin de Porres.

Treasure Chest, the great Catholic comic book, introduced Blessed Martin de Porres to parochial school students in 1956. They ran a shorter version of the same story after his canonization in 1962.

Another children's story of St. Martin de Porres was illustrated by his fellow Dominican, the famous scissors artist Sr. M. Jean Dorcy.

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April 11-24, 2014

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