From The Moderate Voice:
In retrospect, we should have seen it coming. No, not just yet another challenge to John Boehner’s always wavering authority as House Majority Leader, this one another threatened government shutdown over Planned Parenthood funding, but his anguished demeanor amidst the smiles and jubilation during the triumphant visit this week of Pope Francis to Washington.
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From Jon Perr at Perrspectives:
The 2016 Republican presidential field is shocked--shocked!--that frontrunner Donald Trump refused to correct a questioner insisting President Obama is a Muslim foreigner. Recalling one of the finest moments for the GOP's 2008 nominee, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) revealing explained, "This happens to all of us. It happened to John McCain. You have to push back."
But in 2012, none of the GOP's best and brightest pushed back when their man Mitt Romney casually played the Birther card.
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Jack Jodell at The Saturday Afternoon Post sees lions dens. He ties Pope Francis at Congress with Bernie Sanders at Liberty University.
Conservative James Wigderson, who had been enthusiastic about Scott Walker, believes he knows why the campaign shriveled, crumbled, and blew away.
It was big news when corporate executives actually got prison time for deliberately sending contaminated peanut butter in for processing. Kids got sick. People died. Ted McLaughlin at jobsanger writes about a lonely hero in all that mess, a whistle-blower who worked hard to bring culprits to justice.
Vincent at A wayfarer's notes is a creative writing genius. He constructs wonderful walks through the countryside of the mind and invites us with him. He applies his talent explaining how difficult it is to write when there is too much to write about. Unbelievably, he makes writing about writing entertaining and enlightening. It's another of his colorful walks. How does he do that?
One of the irritations in the life of a believer in any religion is the occasional arrogant reasoning used in defending it from non-congregants. PZ Myers, writing for Pharyngula, has been willing to ridicule the quality of some attacks on religion. Now he takes on a few arguments against atheism by an Oxford professor. I once expressed my own reasoning, or lack of it, in believing as I do. It largely amounted to a personal confession of limitation. In the end, I lack the capacity to sustain an alternate way of looking at existence.
"We know that no religion is immune from forms of individual delusion or ideological extremism."
From US News & World Report:
While delivering the first address from a pontiff to a joint meeting of Congress on Thursday, Pope Francis touched on topics ranging from the plight of immigrants to climate change and the death penalty.
Many of his comments were lightly delivered and unlikely to elicit much controversy, though the reaction might be different if they were given by another world leader.
Case in point: Toward the beginning of his address, Francis alluded to religious extremism, noting that "no religion is immune" from it. His full quote as prepared for delivery:
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From The Patriot-News:
Is there a difference between a "white supremacist" and a "white nationalist?" Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler, believes there is but others don't.
Members of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives argued Thursday over whether or not Metcalfe invited a white supremacist to speak at a hearing on a bill to make English as the official language of the state.
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From The Hill:
The Senate on Thursday rejected a short-term spending bill that would defund Planned Parenthood, thwarting the opening move by Republican leaders to avoid a government shutdown on Oct. 1.
Senators voted 47-52 on ending debate on the short-term continuing resolution, well short of the 60 votes needed. The legislation would have funded the government through Dec. 11.
The vote divided Republicans, with eight of them breaking ranks.
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From Associated Press:
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia on Tuesday criticized judges who believe the Constitution is a "living" document, saying they amount to policy makers who are rewriting it and making moral decisions for the entire country about same-sex marriage and other issues. He also referred to this summer's same-sex marriage ruling as "extreme."
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It was May 15, 1972. George Wallace had just been shot. It would either be an assassination or an attempted assassination. Whether Wallace would live was still unknown.
President Richard Nixon talked with his advisors, Robert Haldeman and Charles Colson. The shooter was in custody and was, at that moment, being interrogated by police. President Nixon ordered his two assistants to bring Deputy Director of White House Communications, Ken Clawson, into the investigation of the Wallace shooting.
Put a call in immediately to Clawson, or somebody. Somebody do something, to the effect that the first reports from the interrogation indicate that a McGovern/Kennedy person did this, you know what I mean?
Everything's under control. Rumors are going to flow all over the place. Put it on the left, right away. Can you do that? Who can you put it to, and how can you get it out?
- President Richard Nixon, on tape, May 15, 1972
Throughout the rest of the conversation, the three continued to conspire to put out false reports that the would-be assassin had confessed to having been recruited and put into place by prominent Democrats.
It is hard for me to think about President Nixon without considering an ethical pattern that includes, but extends beyond, Watergate. Their reaction to the shooting of a Presidential candidate was an assassination as political opportunity. They could put out a false report implicating political opponents.
It is not difficult to hear the echo of that ethic amplified in more recent history. After the September 11 terrorist attacks of 2001, word went out from the office of the Vice President. Richard Cheney wanted evidence, and wanted it now, that the attacks had been ordered and orchestrated by the dictatorship that was then in control of Iraq.
The any-means-necessary order had to have contributed to the torture techniques that were then put into play.
Torture has never advanced investigation in search of truth. Those tortured can be counted on to say anything to put a stop to pain. Thousands of false leads put leaf-in-the-forest mathematics into play, as valuable time is wasted following blind alleys.
But, as history shows, torture is very effective at obtaining false confessions. The right confession by any means would have satisfied the Cheney demand.
I wonder how the Nixon inner circle would have responded to temptation had they managed to take control of interrogation techniques after the Wallace shooting.
Another thread can also be found woven into the fabric of the 1972 Nixon transcript. Repeatedly, the three conspirators talk about justification. Liberals would be sure to blame the assassination, if it turned out to be an assassination, on conservatives. After all, they had always done it throughout history. We must do it to them first.
Be sure to pin the assassination, just like they tried to pin the assassin...Look. Why don't we play the game a bit smarter for a change.
They pinned the assassination of Kennedy on the right wing, the Birchers. It was done by a Communist and it was the greatest hoax that has ever been perpetuated.
And I respectfully suggest, can't we pin this on one of theirs?
- President Richard Nixon
Even as a youngster, I read many theories about the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and Senator Robert Kennedy. Some did indeed speculate about right wing, communist, organized crime, government, and other groups. I do not recall any false confessions or other planted evidence designed to implicate conservatives, or any rumors of such planted evidence.
What I have noticed in online conservative dialogue, in lunch break conversation, in internet comments, is a sort of circular ethic. We know the enemy would do horrible things to us. We know this because we would do horrible things to them. So we have to do horrible things to them before they act against us.
Anyway, we have training camps growing where they want to kill us.
That's my question: When can we get rid of them?
The question to the Republican candidate is still shocking, but not surprising. Also not surprising was the agreement of so many who support the candidate, or the unwillingness of the candidate to disown the reasoning:
Muslims want to kill us. How can we get rid of them?
The shrinking Republican base is approaching a point at which traditional ideological conservatives, at least those with whom I speak, may soon find themselves uncomfortable and unwelcomed. A different, more virulent conservatism is taking hold. It is less classically ideological than it is nativist.
I hope the discomfort of my friends is not my own wishful thinking. I disagree with fellow citizens on voting rights for minorities, on science denial, on torture, and on the social obligation we have toward one another. These are life and death issues and some sad souls have journeyed far to the right.
I hope for limits in their journey.
Our species has always faced the temptation of drawing lines of hatred. We have often changed our vision of those on the other side of those lines from that of human beings into that of abstractions, into "them." It is the logic embraced by much of what has come to be called "the base."
I pray and hope my friends do not go so far down into that dark, dark abyss that they find themselves deep in the blood soaked logic of religious and ethnic division that has stained so much of human history:
The perceived necessity of doing unto them before they do unto us.
This is our evaluation 5 years ago today.
As criticisms of criticisms go, it doesn't even rise to a slap on the wrist. Democrats in California have launched a biting attack ad about Republican Senatorial candidate Carly Fiorina. They are now subjected to some fact checking.
Voters first became acquainted with Fiorina when she offered her Valley Girl evaluation of Senator Boxer's hair: "So yesterday!"
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From The Washington Post:
Food safety advocates say a guilty verdict in a rare federal food-poisoning trial should send a stern warning to anyone who may be tempted to place profits over people’s welfare.
More than five years after hundreds of Americans got sick from eating salmonella-tainted peanut butter, the top executive in the company that owned the Georgia plant where it was made was convicted Friday of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, wire fraud and other crimes related the nationwide outbreak in 2008 and 2009.
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From Ryan at Secular Ethics:
Until recent times, theists have been able to rely on the public to oppose gay marriage for religious (God says no) or just-so (It’s just wrong) reasons. Now that many religious people have come to accept gay marriage either because they see nothing wrong with it or because they do not want to impose their religious beliefs on others, theists who oppose gay marriage have lost much of their support. And now that people in general–and young people in particular–expect better arguments than “just because,” these theists have had to try to engage with the secular world on its own terms.
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If you read European news websites at all, you know that for at least a couple of weeks they've been thoroughly fixated on the wave of Syrian refugees entering and crossing Europe (or trying to do so) to escape the civil war in their own country. European popular reactions range from welcoming to threatening, while national governments are going every which way, arguing among themselves about which countries should take how many people, and in some cases (notably Hungary) actively trying to stem the flow.
Rather than throwing around words like "hordes" and "flood" "and "siege" as sensationalist websites are prone to do, let's look at some hard numbers.
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From Human Voices:
We think we're rational, but we're not. It's too easy to be optimistically or pessimistically irrational. It's too much fun and we have plenty of help, particularly if we watch or read or listen to the news, if we watch television or read magazines. If we look at cartoons, if we read editorials. If we are immersed in advertising -- and we are.
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On September 15, 1963, the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama was bombed by white supremacist terrorists. Four black girls, Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robinson and Carol Denise McNair were killed that day more than 50 years ago. The bombing was a testament to the vile oppression of white racism taken to extreme and violent levels.
Fast forward to June 17, 2015. A young white male gunman named Dylan Roof opens fire in the Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, South Carolina. Nine people were killed, most of them women, all of them black. Cynthia Marie Graham Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lee Lance, Dewayne Middleton-Doctor, Tywanza Sanders, Daniel Simmons, Sharonda Coleman-Singleton, Myra Thompson and South Carolina senator Clementa C. Pinckney were all tragically murdered.
Between these two events, and many others that have occurred in and around the timeline, it’s clear as day that racism, when taken to the limit, can and will produce tragic consequences.
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The U.S. is offering new details about its plan to ease the Syrian refugee crisis by significantly increasing the number of worldwide refugees it will take in over the next two years.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says the U.S. will accept 85,000 refugees from around the world next year, up from 70,000, and the number will rise to 100,000 in 2017.
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From The Iowa Statesman:
Republican presidential candidate former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee threw in a couple of attacks on President Obama over the weekend. First, he released a statement critical of the president’s nomination of the first openly gay head of a U.S. military branch, then he responded to the president’s decision to invite LGBTQ “rights” and pro-abortion activists to the White House reception to honor Pope Francis later this week.
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From The Hill:
The pope has become a political football.
Republicans want to use Pope Francis’s visit to Congress this week — the first ever by a pontiff — to highlight their opposition to abortion rights.
Democrats, meanwhile, hope the pope will lend new momentum to their efforts to address climate change, reform immigration law and win public approval for a nuclear deal with Iran.
Papal experts say Francis’s address to a joint session of Congress on Thursday is unlikely to fit wholesale into either party’s agenda, though they expect it to be more of a headache for Republicans
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From The Des Moines Register:
It would be unconstitutional to disqualify a Muslim from the presidency because of religion, Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz said Sunday.
“You know, the Constitution specifies there shall be no religious test for public office and I am a constitutionalist,” the Texas senator said during the taping of “Iowa Press” at Iowa Public Television.
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