Kerry Blasts White House – Again

Senator John Kerry refused to apologize for his remarks telling a group of college students they could either work hard in school or “get stuck in Iraq.” CNN reports on President Bush’s response, “Even in the midst of a heated campaign season, there are still some things we should all be able to agree on, and one of the most important is that every one of our troops deserves our gratitude and respect.”

Kerry was unapologetic, “The White House’s attempt to distort my true statement is a remarkable testament to their abject failure in making America safe,” the Massachusetts senator said. “It’s a stunning statement about their willingness to reduce anything in America to raw politics.”

Former U.S. Senator Max Cleland defended Kerry, “John Kerry is a patriot who has fought tooth and nail for veterans ever since he came home from Vietnam. He has stood with his brothers in arms unlike this administration, which exploits our troops to make a political point and divide America,” Cleland said in a statment.

Kerry fired back in a pointed statement. “I’m not going to be lectured by a stuffed-suit White House mouthpiece standing behind a podium, or doughy Rush Limbaugh, who no doubt today will take a break from belittling Michael J. Fox’s Parkinson’s disease to start lying about me just as they have lied about Iraq.” He further criticized “Republican hacks who have never worn the uniform of our country.”

“If anyone owes the troops in the fields an apology, it is the president,” Kerry said.

Judges Contribute to GOP

Salon.com reports that at least two dozen federal judges appointed by President Bush since 2001 made political contributions to key Republicans or to the president himself while under consideration for their judgeships, government records show. A four month study by the Center for Investigative Reporting finds that 6 appellate court judges and 18 district court judges contributed a total of $44,000 to pols who were influential in their appointments.

The entire report is very revealing:

CIR’s investigation analyzed the campaign contributions of 249 judges who were appointed by President Bush to U.S. District and Circuit courts around the country. While some judges did not give contributions at all in the years leading up to their appointments, others continued to make political donations while their nominations were pending in the Senate.

There are no laws forbidding such contributions. The official Code of Conduct for United States Judges does prohibit political contributions by sitting federal judges.? It does not address donations made by judicial candidates seeking appointment.? However, it can certainly appear unethical.

Catholic Church misses the mark again

United States Catholic BishopsIn a disappointing move, the U.S. Catholic bishops announced that they have drafted new guidelines for ministry to gay people. The bishops’ document affirms church teaching on same-sex relationships, marriages, adoptions by gay couples, but encourages parishes to reach out to gay Catholics who feel alienated by their church.
The document is a lot of nothing, and will do more harm than good.

It says that gay people may benefit from revealing their “tendencies” to friends, family and their priest, but should not make “general public announcements” about it in the parish. We wouldn’t, after all, want good Catholics to know there were people in the parish with “tendencies.”

The New York Times reports that the guidelines recommend baptizing the adopted children of same-sex couples as long as the children will be raised Catholic. However, these same same-sex couples should be denied any type of leadership or ministry positions in the church because their behavior “violates” church teaching. Rev. Thomas G. Weinandy, who worked on the draft, is quoted as saying, “The bishops would like people with homosexual inclinations to really participate in the church, but they don’t want to ‘give scandal.’ If you knew a heterosexual couple were just cohabitating and not married, you wouldn’t let them be eucharistic ministers either.”

True, but the heterosexual couple, or, those with heterosexual tendencies, would have the option to marry.

The document, boldly entitled, “Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination: Guidelines for Pastoral Care,” will be voted on when the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops meets Nov. 13-16 in Baltimore.

Bishop Arthur J. Serratelli of Paterson, N.J., the chairman of the bishops doctrine committee, which wrote the new guidelines, predicts that the document would pass, “My sense is that the bishops will readily embrace it.”

Gay Catholic leaders have their concerns. Sam Sinnett, president of DignityUSA, an organization for gay Catholics, says that there is some “lovely language” in the document, but it essentially repeats all of the “spiritually violent things” the bishops have said in the past that has alienated gay Catholics, “that we are ‘objectively disordered’ and our relationships are intrinsically evil.”

Rev. James Martin, editor of the Jesuit magazine America, said, ““The document expresses the tension in the church between a sincere desire to minister to gays and lesbians, and the reality that many gays and lesbians feel unwelcome in the church by virtue of the church’s teaching.”

The Times article goes on to summarize the bishops’ statements from the past couple of years regarding homosexuality, many of them made in the wake of the pedophilia scandal:

The bishops have issued statements in recent years condemning gay marriage, gay adoption and benefits for gay partners. They have historically been more attuned to gay issues, however, than some of their colleagues overseas. Last year, the Vatican issued an “instruction” saying that men with “deep-seated” homosexual attraction should not be ordained. In its wake, some American bishops commented in their diocesan newspapers or privately to their priests that they did not regard this as a ban on ordaining gay men, and would continue to accept gay candidates on a case-by-case basis.

It would appear the bishops tended to blame gay priests for the abuse of children, and their own inadequate leadership in dealing with pedophile priests throughout history.

The Times article does not mention, nor does it appear the reporter ever asked, how many United States Catholic bishops who would be voting on this document have heterosexual “tendencies,” and how many of these men have homosexual “tendencies.”

Ex-Bush aid David Safavian Gets 18 Months in prison

The Washington Post reports that David Safavian, a former Bush Administration official, former chief of staff of the General Services Administration (GSA), and ex-White House budget office appointee, was sentenced to 18 months in prison Friday. He was “convicted of lying and obstructing justice in connection with the Jack Abramoff influence-peddling scandal that has ensared Republicans.” The paper reports:

Besides the Iraq war, ethics breaches have dominated many Senate and House of Representatives campaigns, allowing Democrats to accuse Republicans of fostering a “culture of corruption” in Washington.

Safavian was described as tearful as he addressed U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman.

The post continues, “In another Abramoff case, Ohio Republican Rep. Bob Ney pleaded guilty on October 13 to illegally accepting trips, meals and other items worth tens of thousands of dollars in return for doing favors for Abramoff and his clients.”

I wonder if President Bush will admit to knowing either Safavian or Ney?

I’d love to know what the international community thinks of our president.

Keith Olberman at MSNBC

If you haven’t yet, you owe it to yourself to spend the next 9 minutes of your life watching or reading Keith Olberman’s commentary at MSNBC. The entire piece is absolutely riveting, a complete condemnation of the Bush Administration and the Military Commissions Act. Among his more pointed remarks:

For, on this first full day that the Military Commissions Act is in force, we now face what our ancestors faced, at other times of exaggerated crisis and melodramatic fear-mongering:

A government more dangerous to our liberty, than is the enemy it claims to protect us from.

Give yourself just 9 minutes.

Teen’s tongue piercing causes ‘suicide disease’

A story off the AP wire describes the case of a teenage girl in Chicago who suffered from stabbing pains in her face that felt “like electric shocks,” lasting anywhere from 10 to 30 seconds each and striking 20 to 30 times a day.? Doctors diagnosed her with trigeminal neuralgia, a nerve disorder sometimes called “suicide disease” because of the excruciating and dispiriting pain it causes.

After trying pain killers and stronger medication, the cure proved more simple: she removed the metal stud from her pierced tongue.? The pain vanished two days later.

These are not the only complications from tongue-piercing, some life-threatening, described in a recent article from the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Michael J. Fox and Republican Panic

Business Wire reports the results of a new national study revealing that American voters support for stem cell research increased after they viewed an ad featuring Michael J. Fox in which he expresses his support for candidates who are in favor of stem cell research.

The study was conducted among 955 Americans by HCD Research and Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion (MCIPO) during October 24-25, to obtain Americans’ views on the stem cell research before and after they watched the ad.

Among the study findings:

  • Among all respondents, support for stem cell research increased from 78% prior to viewing the ad, to 83% after viewing the ad. Support among Democrats increased from 89% to 93%, support among Republicans increased from 66% to 68% and support among Independents increased from 80% to 87% after viewing the ad.
  • The level of concern regarding a candidate’s view on stem cell research increased among all respondents from 57% prior to viewing the ad to 70% after viewing the ad. Among Democrats, the level of concern increased from 66% to 83% and Republicans’ level of concern increased from 50% to 60%. Independents’ level of concern increased from 58% to 69%.
  • The perception that the November election is relevant to the U.S. policy on stem cell research increased across all voter segments, with an increase of 9% among all respondents pre- and post-viewing from 62% to 71%. The Democrats’ perception increased from 75% to 83%, Republicans’ perception increased from 55% to 62% and Independents’ perception increased from 60% to 68% pre- and post-viewing.
  • The advertisement elicited similar emotional responses from all responders with all voter segments indicating that they were “not bored and attentive” followed by “sorrowful, thankful, afraid and regretful.”
  • The vast majority of responders indicated that the advertisement was believable with 76% of all responders reporting that it was “extremely believable” or “believable.” Among party affiliation, 93% of Democrats 57% of Republicans and 78% of Independents indicated it “extremely believable”or “believable.”

We might wonder why Republicans were in such a huff after Mr. Fox made these commercials? Why did Rush Limbaugh, certainly no stranger to prescription medications, attack Mr. Fox and accuse him of going off his medication when he made the commercials?

Republicans are afraid. And rightly so. The study also found:

Republicans who indicated that they were voting for a Republican candidate decreased by 10% after viewing the ad (77% to 67%). Independents planning to vote for Democrats increased by 10%, from 39% to 49%.

The study was conducted among 955 Americans by HCD Research and Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion (MCIPO) during October 24-25, to obtain Americans’ views on the stem cell research before and after they watched the ad.

The tide has turned. Republicans are in a panic. Democrats are poised to win Congress in November.

New Jersey Supreme Court and Gay Marriage

The New Jersey Supreme Court opened the door to gay marriage today.? The ruling stipulates that lawmakers must offer same-sex couples either marriage, or something like it, such as civil unions.? In a split vote, the Supreme Court declared 4-3 that gay couples are entitled to the same rights as heterosexual couples.

Lawmakers have 180 days to draft and pass appropriate legislation.

“Although we cannot find that a fundamental right to same-sex marriage exists in this state, the unequal dispensation of rights and benefits to committed same-sex partners can no longer be tolerated under our state Constitution,” Justice Barry T. Albin wrote for the four-member majority.

Here’s a twist.? The three justices who dissented said the majority did not go far enough.? They demanded full marriage for gays.

Amazing that This Man Is President

Bush at YouTube

With all of the hype about Barack Obama possibly running in 2008, it pays to spend some time considering the current POTUS. I’m amazed that this man actually was elected President of the United States, Governor of Texas, or once owned a major league baseball team. Watch these brief excerpts and laugh, and weep, and then laugh again.? Where have we gone wrong as a nation? How much thought does the electorate put into voting? Contrast President Bush with Obama at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. Weep for the present. Hope for the future.

Barack Obama at the DNC 2004 convention

Ready for your Close-Up, Mr. Obama?

Barack Obama, Tinley Park, ILNews outlets are reporting today that Barack Obama has finally admitted that he has not ruled out a run for the presidency in 2008. This is good news. However, there are quite a few who think 2008 may be too early for Senator Obama.

I was proud and honored to work Sen. Obama’s campaign for election to the U.S. Senate. I met him first at the “Barn” in Olympia Fields, IL. At the time it was easy to approach the then-State Senator, and ask him how he stood on some key issues. First impressions? Then, as now, gold. He spoke to me, not at me.

I have no doubt that Sen. Obama could, can, and will become one of our greatest U.S. presidents. Imagine a U.S. President who can talk to, not down to, the American people. Imagine a U.S. President who can talk to, not down to, the international community, the press. You name it.

And I’m confident that wife Michelle will keep him grounded. She better. I’ve often wondered what his Achilles heel might be. I’m sure the weird-right is wondering as well. But I think he can handle them. With Michelle at his side.

The Greeks spoke of kairos, the right time, the ample time, the perfect moment.

Obama just needs to be himself. He’s remarkable. But himself at the right time, right place.

And not a moment too soon.