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Bishop restates gay marriage is an endorsement of institution of marriage and "a matter of justice"

[font size=5]Bishop restates gay marriage is an endorsement of the institution of marriage and "a matter of justice".[/font]

The Bishop of Salisbury writes today that "The possibility of 'gay marriage' does not detract from heterosexual marriage unless we think that homosexuality is a choice rather than the given identity of a minority of people. Indeed the development of marriage for same sex couples is a very strong endorsement of the institution of marriage."

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Replying to a letter from Lord Alli of Norbury who requested that Bishop Holtam clarify his position on the issue as a member of the House of Bishops for members of the Upper House, Bishop Holtam stresses that this issue is about justice: “In the current debates it is striking that within the Anglican Communion one of the strongest supporters of same sex marriage is Archbishop Desmond Tutu. From his experience of the racism of Apartheid he sees same sex marriage as primarily a matter of justice.”

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In his letter the Bishop of Salisbury also observes that the church has adapted its approach to marriage in light of social change including the widespread availability of contraceptives so that couples may choose to have children; the acceptance of divorce and possibility of marriage in church after divorce so that not all marriages are lifelong, and the acceptance of couples living together before marriage by a Church that still teaches sexual relationships are properly confined to marriage.

The Bishop then explains to Lord Alli that biblical texts never change but sometimes the interpretation of them develops: “ Christian morality comes from the mix of Bible, Christian tradition and our reasoned experience. Sometimes Christians have had to rethink the priorities of the Gospel in the light of experience. For example, before Wilberforce, Christians saw slavery as Biblical and part of the God-given ordering of creation. Similarly in South Africa the Dutch Reformed Church supported Apartheid because it was Biblical and part of the God-given order of creation. No one now supports either slavery or Apartheid.”

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Read full article.
Posted by markpkessinger | Thu May 30, 2013, 11:45 AM (10 replies)

Some thoughts about the various 'scandals'

I posted this earlier today as a Facebook status update.

Mark Kessinger
2 hours ago

Let's keep a bit of perspective on the three oh-my-God-this-is-worse-than-Watergate 'scandals' that have Republicans and the media clutching their pearls, shall we?

First, Benghazi. No legs. Nor arms, torso or head for that matter. To borrow a phrase from Gertrude Stein, there is no 'there' there.

Second, IRS. It was certainly wrong and indefensible for the IRS to flag for special scrutiny the applications for tax exempt status of groups with the words "Tea Party" or "Patriot" in their names. Appropriate disciplinary action should be taken, and whatever necessary policy changes should be implemented. But beyond that, there has been no evidence whatsoever that this was anything other than inept management at the IRS. When and if there is any evidence that clearly establishes that this targeting policy occurred at the direction of the President, his administration or his campaign, then talk to us about a "culture of corruption" or "culture of intimidation" (or any olf the other ridiculously overblown talking points Republicans have been using). Until then, spare us.

Also, it is worth pointing out that NOT ONE of the organizations whose applications were targeted for such special scrutiny was ultimately denied tax exempt status. Further, it is a myth to suggest that this kind of thing never happened before. The IRS was notorious during the Bush administration for going after groups to which the administration was ideologically opposed. The NAACP was one such group. Another was All Saints' Episcopal Church in Pasadena, CA. whose tax exempt status the IRS tried to revoke after the rector emeritus preached a sermon questioning the morality of the war in Iraq a few days before the 2004 election. So again, spare me the hyperventilating bluster.

Finally, there is the Justice Department's monitoring of telephone and email correspondence of AP reporters. Of the three 'scandals,' this is the one that actually merits a closer look. The Justice Department was investigating a very serious CIA leak. But in doing so, it cast much too wide a net. This kind of action by the Justice Department could potentially hamper the ability of the press to gather information anonymously -- something that is utterly critical to the functioning of a free press. But I fail to see a grand conspiracy here. What I see is well-intended overreach by a law enforcement agency. It needs to be reigned in, to be sure, but don't make more of it than it in fact was. (And ironically, this will likely be the one out of the three 'scandals' that Republicans pay the least attention to.)

It should be more than obvious what is going on here. Republicans, who cannot seem to find among themselves any agenda they can agree upon that appeals to voters, are desperate to drum up a scandal -- any scandal -- to try to smear the President and Democrats. The thing is, there IS room for some serious criticism of this administration -- its continued misguided focus on deficit reduction, the drones policy and the war on whistleblowers to name a few of those areas. But of course, Republicans aren't interested in those at all.
Posted by markpkessinger | Sat May 18, 2013, 09:16 PM (1 replies)

Folks, it just won't do to say "the IRS did nothing wrong" when it has already admitted that it DID

The IRS has admitted that groups whose name contained the words 'patriot' or 'tea party' were improperly targeted for special scrutiny, beyond what some other applicants for tax exempt status received. And the President has condemned that targeting in very strong terms. So it simply doesn't fly for Democrats, here or anywhere else, to insist they didn't. That train has already left that station, and when we Democrats refuse to acknowledge what the IRS has already admitted to, it makes out party look like a bunch of idiots.

From The Washington Post:

[font size=4]IRS admits targeting conservatives for tax scrutiny in 2012 election[/font]
By Zachary A. Goldfarb and Karen Tumulty,May 10, 2013

The Internal Revenue Service on Friday apologized for targeting groups with “tea party” or “patriot” in their names, confirming long-standing accusations by some conservatives that their applications for tax-exempt status were being improperly delayed and scrutinized.

Lois G. Lerner, the IRS official who oversees tax-exempt groups, said the “absolutely inappropriate” actions by “front-line people” were not driven by partisan motives.

Rather, Lerner said, they were a misguided effort to come up with an efficient means of dealing with a flood of applications from organizations seeking ­tax-exempt status between 2010 and 2012.

During that period, about 75 groups were selected for extra inquiry — including burdensome questionnaires and, in some cases, improper requests for the names of their donors — simply because of the words in their names, she said in a conference call with reporters.

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Posted by markpkessinger | Thu May 16, 2013, 09:10 AM (24 replies)

C&L: 'Humane' Force-feeding Begins At Guantanamo Bay

As an American and as a Democrat, I am profoundly ashamed of our country, our party and our President over this issue.

[font size=2 color="gray"]May 06, 2013 02:00 PM[/font]
[font size=4]'Humane' Force-feeding Begins At Guantanamo Bay[/font]
[font color="red"]By Susie Madrak [/font]

I remind you that at least half of the inmates are innocent of any wrongdoing (Afghan warlords turned random people in for the reward money). The wingnuts insist that because some of the men previously released joined al Qaeda to seek revenge, we can't let anyone go! And we can't try the valid cases in U.S. courts because so much evidence has been compromised by torture and would be inadmissible, anyway. Oops!

< . . . >

< . . . >

Twice a day, the 23 most weak are taken into a room. Their wrists, arms, stomach, legs and head are strapped to a chair and repeated attempts are made to force a tube down their noses into their stomachs. It is an ugly procedure as they gag and wretch, blood dripping from their nostrils.

According to international standards,prisoners are entitled to refuse food and drink. But President Obama has ordered the force-feeding.

Without any decisive action or announced intent to change the situation that has driven the prisoners to this point, that order strikes me as highly unethical.

Posted by markpkessinger | Tue May 7, 2013, 04:54 AM (4 replies)

NY Times Editorial: Putting Politics Ahead of Science (Plan B)

[font size=4]Putting Politics Ahead of Science[/font]
[font size=1 color="gray"]By THE EDITORIAL BOARD
Published: May 2, 2013[/font]

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In 2011, the secretary of health and human services, Kathleen Sebelius, overruled the Food and Drug Administration, which had decided, based on scientific evidence, that the pills would be safe and appropriate “for all females of child-bearing potential.” Ms. Sebelius arbitrarily determined that only women 17 and older should have access to the drug.

Then, last month, citing the political nature of Ms. Sebelius’s intervention and finding no “coherent justification” for it, Judge Edward Korman of United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York ordered the F.D.A. to make emergency contraceptives available over the counter to all women, with no age restrictions.

< . . . >

The administration’s continued stubbornness may please some conservative groups critical of the president. But it will hurt girls and women and is bound to undermine Mr. Obama’s credibility when he calls for principled, evidence-based policy-making on other issues, like global warming.

The Justice Department’s legal argument, moreover, is incoherent. In court documents, it claims that Judge Korman’s order improperly interferes with the F.D.A.’s “scientific judgments” pertaining to the drug approval process. But it was Ms. Sebelius’s interference with science that sparked Judge Korman’s ruling in the first place.

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Posted by markpkessinger | Fri May 3, 2013, 05:31 AM (9 replies)

Saw something today that I just cannot get out of my head . . .

. . . It's not the first time I've seen it, nor will it be the last. Indeed, what I saw was a replay of something I've seen probably hundreds of times over the years. The setting may change, and the persons involved may be different, but the dynamic is unmistakeable.

So, I'm on the subway today. Seated opposite me in the car are a young couple, a man and a woman, could be married or just dating, in the midst of a very intense exchange. They're voices are low enough that I cannot make out what they're saying from where I sit. The young woman is seated, her body and head facing straight ahead, her eyes cast downward. She appears to be embarrassed for the two of them; she's clearly uncomfortable, and looks as if she would give just about anything for this little drama to be playing out somewhere -- anywhere -- other than in this public setting. The young man is seated next to her, his body turned towards and leaning into her, crowding her. His head and eyes are staring straight at the young woman, his flushed face less than two inches from hers. He is going on and on about something; although I can't hear his words, I can see the intense energy that is going into his enunciation of them and the pulsating veins in his neck and forehead. There is a menace in the young man's energy towards her; everything about his body language suggests an implied threat of violence, an intent to intimidate. Here and there, she appears to try to respond, although she never turns her head to look at him, and she never allows her eyes to look upwards or outwards, lest she catch the gaze of those around her, but the young man's rant continues. Finally, after the young woman has given up even trying to respond to him, it appears as if he has finished. His body turns to face forward again, his back comes to rest against the back of the set, his arms cross and he turns his head as if to look in the opposite direction from her. A look of relief begins to spread across the young woman's face, and the tension that had gripped her body seems as if it is about to abate. But only momentarily. After no more than 5 or 10 seconds, he's at it again.

As this all continues to play out, I know -- I KNOW -- there is much more, and much worse, that happens between them behind closed doors and out of public view. Inside my head, I am saying to her, "Don't let him do this to you! Don't let anyone do this to you! Drop him like the scum he clearly is!"; and to him, "Who ever told you that you had a right to do that to her or to anybody else?". For a moment, I think about giving actual voice to those thoughts. But no, I reason with myself, they're total strangers, and it isn't my place to intervene. And in any case, I don't know the whole story between the two of them. I pull out my phone and start reading my text messages -- anything to try to ignore what is happpening a few feet away, and to convince myself my conscience is clear. But that little voice continues to nag: "Hmm . . . 'Not my place to say anything' -- sounds a lot like rationalizing your own inaction. How many others whose paths have crossed with this couple have similarly rationalized looking the other way?" My internal debate is interrupted by the sound of a computer-generated, female voice intoning, "This is . . . Seventh Avenue . . .Fifty-Third . . . Street." The couple exits the train, and I am inwardly relieved that the decision of whether or not to speak up has been taken out of my hands, that my little crisis of conscience has been resolved for me. Until the next time, that is. And, barring my own untimely demise, there almost certainly WILL be a next time.

Ultimately, of course, I realize that if I had presumed to say what I wanted to say to this young couple, it might have had the unintended result of making things a whole lot worse for this young woman when the couple got home. But two questions continue to bother me (even though they are both really rhetorical ones): (1) who teaches young men that they are entitled to control, to own, the women they date and/or marry; and (2) who teaches young women that they should ever accept that kind of controlling behavior from someone else?
Posted by markpkessinger | Wed May 1, 2013, 04:57 PM (15 replies)
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