Gohmert (R-TX) who elected this guy?

July 15, 2014

During a speech on the House floor Friday, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) compared the surge of unaccompanied migrant children to soldiers invading France during World War II. Criticizing President Obama’s request for Congress to provide $3.7 billion in emergency funds to process the deportation proceedings of more than 52,000 children, mostly fleeing violence in Central America, Gohmert asked Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) to “use whatever means” like troops, ships of war, or taxes to “stop the invasion.”

“Even with $3.7 billion that’s requested, there’s no way for what’s being called for is going to stop the invasion that’s occurring,” Gohmert said. “That’s why I’m hoping that my governor will utilize Article 1, Section 10, that allows a state that is being invaded — in our case more than twice as many just in recent months, more than twice as many than invaded France on D-Day with a doubling of that coming en route, on their way here now under Article 1, Section 10, the state of Texas would appear to have the right, not only to use whatever means, whether it’s troops, even using ships of war, even exacting a tax on interstate commerce that wouldn’t normally be allowed to have or utilize, they’d be entitled in order to pay to stop the invasion.”

Article 1, Section 10 of the Constitution provides that “[n]o state shall, without the consent of Congress, . . . engage in war, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay.” The fact that this provision contemplates a state making “war,” however, strongly suggests that the framers were thinking about military invasions when they drafted it — not that they were concerned about an “invasion” of children.

Gohmert also suggested that the state of Texas should send National Guard to the border to secure the border, citing the time that President Woodrow Wilson sent General Pershing into Mexico to pursue Pancho Villa who had killed Americans. “I’m not advocating an invasion into Mexico,” he added. “I’m advocating strongly we stop the invasion into the United States.”

Most of the unaccompanied children who have been apprehended are under the age of ten. Evidence shows that violence, rather than any kind of immigration benefit is driving kids out of Latin America. These kids often come into the country with little more than the phone number of a distant relative in the United States.

Gohmert’s comments are consistent with other statements that he has recently made about these kids. He most recently claimed that the President wanted the emergency funds to bankrupt the country and “turn America blue.” He has also stated, “we don’t know what diseases they’re bringing in.”
And you wonder why we can’t get things done.

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Not ONE more

May 28, 2014

Limited edition t-shirt

Sen. Klobuchar’s bill is called the Protecting Domestic Violence and Stalking Victims Act, and it works in two key ways:

  1. It would add stalkers to the group of people prohibited from buying guns, which already includes the severely mentally ill and violent criminals.
  2. It would prohibit all domestic abusers from buying guns, including dating partners — not just spouses.

 

As we saw this weekend, and far too many times before, women are too often the target of gun violence. Driven by misogyny and enabled by lax or non-existent gun laws, gunmen like the shooter near Santa Barbara channel their rage into shooting women.

We can do more to put an end to horrific crimes like this. We can do more to save women’s lives. We can declare #NotOneMore.

Please send an urgent message to your senators now:

 

Why we vote the way we do

May 18, 2014

Why we vote the way we do

Frightened by Christians

May 16, 2014

Padresteve Has it right. We should question not only our faith (Go ahead God doesn’t mind a bit) But all those who quote a verse of scripture with no thought of what it means or what is behind it.

Padre Steve's World...Musings of a Progressive Realist in Wonderland

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“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Mahatma Gandhi

I expect that this article might make some people uncomfortable but it is something that I need to write.

I am a Christian. I am a Priest and I am a Navy Chaplain. But for the most part I am afraid of Christians. There are many reasons for this. Some are more general in the way I see Christians treat others; their own wounded as well as non-believers, the political machinations of pastors and “Christian” special interest groups masquerading as ministries.

But most of why I am afraid is because what I have experienced at the hand of many Christians, some of whom I had counted as friends many of whom are pastors, priests or chaplains. To experience rejection or being shamed by people that you thought were friends that you…

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Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi

May 10, 2014

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This will be my last post on the subject of The blood sport of American Politics for a while which will give you a good six months to recover and go on to something else for a while. I will say this at the outset I hope (and want to believe ) that most of my readers are good Americans who want the best for their families, their neighbors and most of all for our country.

We also know that for the past 5 years our government in Washington D.C. has been dysfunctional. I fully expect that the political out of power to do everything to make the party in power look bad. That’s just the “game” is played. However when you go to vote (as I hope you do this next time) Remember these few things and who you may want to represent your government.

We had a government shut down (by the way I sent Senator Ted Cruse a bill for 24 Billion dollars or your behalf!)

While the house of representives control the purse strings . In this past sessions. They have refused to pass any “jobs, jobs, jobs” bill to help their own people!

Anything to do with helping the county to get out of this recession has not been on their radar. Here in Indiana, Governor Mike Pence (we have a long history-he refused to help any of his constituents with their pressing needs while in congress and now does the same thing as Governor. (If the winds blow in the right direction he will try to run for President ) And why did he get elected? People don’t pay attention and don’t get involved. In reality, Hoosiers should look at the brand of Republican leadership Governor Pence and supermajorities in the legislature have brought to our Statehouse.

Mike Pence’s economic policies are hurting local communities and Hoosier families, while he’s spent most of those 15 months in office championing a divisive social agenda that only tells certain citizens they’re not welcome in the Hoosier State.

Indiana’s household income is lower than it was 10 years ago, women make 73 cents on the dollar for what every man makes in our state and the tax burden for Hoosiers is rising. That’s an economy that isn’t working in Indiana.

In most states in which there is a Republican Governor and a controlling Republican party in power. Voter rights have been restricted to the point that only the very “right people” will get a say in who will get elected!

In our Supreme court we have had by a slim majority rule that “Money talks” and that few who get decide which is called Oligarchy! You don’t get a say! Today’s multinational corporations function as corporate oligarchies with influence over democratically elected officials. So if you are out of work or working at a minimum wage job like Wal mart of other service oriented jobs. You can see that it’s their bottom line that their interested in.

And Congress won’t take up the needs of the many “minimum wage” While in the twenty fourth century In The Wrath of Khan (1982), Spock says, “Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.” So when these politicians come around or you see copious televisions for this candidate My advice is “follow the money“! See who want to buy your next politician.

So while congress dithered (read for the most part The house of Representatives) voted more than 50 times to repeal your right to have affordable health care for you and your family (BTW theirs is provided by you as a taxpayer-so why shouldn’t you have health care also?). They refused to grant women equal pay for equal work. They allowed the government to shut down while they continued to receive their $174,000 .

This time around you will hear Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi which is a conspiracy in search of a conspiracy. It will be all laid as usual at the foot of the president and his team. But here’s a spoiler alert. What you won’t be told ( so you can say I told you here first). Why Benghazi was allow to happen was the House of Representatives refused to fund the necessary materials and manpower to provide for the safety of those killed! What kind of people would do that? The same kind who have treated our President with a lack of respect and regard. Don’t think racism is dead. It’s alive and kicking in Washington D.C.

   

  

Constitutional amendment needed now to take back our government

May 2, 2014

SJ Res 19 would directly answer decisions like Citizens United and McCutcheon by restoring the ability of Congress and the states to regulate the raising and spending of money on elections.

16 states and more than 550 towns and cities around the country are already on record in support of a constitutional amendment to restore Government By the People. On ballot initiative after ballot initiative, when put to a vote by the people, three quarters of voters support adoption of an amendment.

We now have a bill that will be voted on in the Senate THIS YEAR — and we all have to step up right now to make sure it passes.

The Evolution of Intelligence

April 18, 2014

 

… is directly equivalent to the evolution of Matter, the Universe itself.

If we accept the basic simplicity of the definition of intelligence as being capable of making a decision or choice, then even the first non standard quantum event was an intelligent act.

Viewed this way, intelligence clearly does not mean what too many commentators really mean by intelligence. Which is, of course, only “human intelligence”.

The problem with the anthropocentric view (that intelligence is only something which is visible in our own species) is that it mystifies intelligence and gives grounds for such metaphysical nonsense as belief in a “soul”. After all, if intelligence is something which magically only appears at our level, then who knows what other little miracles might have happened in the same vein.

Anyone who has kept pets knows that intelligence is a continuum. The Chicken is more intelligent than the worm (just!). The Hamster is more intelligent than the chicken. The Rat more intelligent than the Hamster. Horse more than Rat. Dog slightly more than Horse and Chimpanzee much more than Dog. And then there’s us.

My conjecture is that the continuum is literally synonymous with THE continuum. Intelligence didn’t start in organic matter. It is simply the ability to make a choice. The very first quantum event was a choice. Pretty limited one, but a choice nonetheless.

And a first consequence of that:-
is that the Evolution of the Universe IS the Evolution of Intelligence.

A second consequence is that it becomes clear how intelligence is the organising force of the universe. Not – initially at any rate – in the omniscient God sense. More the dumb rules of mathematics. Structure falls out of the laws governing information.

We like to think of our intelligence as being superior to that of all else we have so far surveyed. And it is – in degree only. In principle, however, it is no different, no better and no worse than the intelligence exhibited by all objects in the universe. What is most significant about our level of intelligence is that we are the first species on our planet to have attained the level at which we are capable of designing our own successors. A species whose intelligence will be at least as advanced on our own as ours is in regard to the chimpanzee, possibly much much greater still.

Every advance in material organisation represents an advance in the intelligence of the relevant system.

For possibly the first third of the life (to date) of the Universe, that increase in structure and local density of information was an entirely inanimate process. Apart from the choices made were, with quantum exceptions, the inevitable consequences of a chain of events. Not really choices at all, the only element of choice being at the tiniest quantum level, where particles can decide to be here and now or there and then.

The average choices made at the quantum level was so highly predictable that inanimate matter makes virtually no choices at all. It is pretty dumb. Anything it does is the direct and inevitable consequence of a chain of events.

At a certain key stage, however, matter acquired the ability not merely to react to information (the 2nd level of intelligence: the 1st level being the mere ability to create information (the result of any choice must yield information)) but to process it. i.e. to convert the incoming information into new and different information.

That probably constitutes the most fundamental definition of Life.

And, as I’ve explained in detail elsewhere, the unifying feature of all Life is that all living things do something, the purpose of which is to continue living. They Pursue a goal.

When matter acquires the ability to pursue a goal, the intelligence has become animate.

Still, admittedly, at a low level, but now the intelligence is capable, at least, of locating or identifying a nutrient and ingesting it.

Organic evolution has begun. And pretty soon there are organisms who have taken the next leap in intelligence. They can identify other organisms as having pre-processed the nutrients they need and that ingesting those organisms is a more cost-effective way to pursue the common goal.

Now that is actually quite a sophisticated computation. Yet we hadn’t even evolved the chartered accountant! It was a messy system. Bit hit and miss, but essentially the design was achieved by accident. One of the original organisms was a bit odd and had this tendency to eat anything it could get its pseudopods around, including its siblings. Remarkably, it thrived and divided into many others like itself, who all thrived and so on. The result:- a slightly improved survival algorithm.

And so on. We can even identify major development stages in intelligence, all of which, initially at least, must have conferred significant survival advantages over the first members of a species to adopt them.

Possibly the next step was the first level of co-operation. Two or more single celled organisms got together and, as a result, either were able to avoid a predator or were jointly able to obtain nutrition that neither could have managed alone.

That path leads ultimately to the sponges, who remain, to this day, colonies of individuals. Not many of whom have so far aspired to moral philosophy or even chartered accountancy. Nevertheless, the sponge is a considerably more intelligent design than the humble amoeba.

After co-operation, we get Specialisation. Some cells sacrifice their autonomy in order to make themselves capable of performing only a narrow range of functions, but doing them very well. In compensation for their sacrifice, the other cells in the organism feed and nurture them.

Here come skin, teeth, eyes, ears, hands and feet etc. All of which increase the information processing abilities of the organism, so it is becoming, at each step, more and more intelligent than its predecessors.

The rest, as they say, is history. Emergence onto land, differentiation into hunters and hunted, protecting your young in eggs, then carrying them within, then protecting them even after birth. Hunting, scavenging or defending yourselves in packs. Development of social hierarchies and dominance cultures. Learning to use tools. Walking upright. Mastering Fire. Building Weapons and Homes. Creating Language. Creating Empires. Creating technology. Creating the Web.

It’s a very clear progression. It clearly has impetus and direction. The common thread is the development of ever greater levels of intelligence, to the stage where we can usefully talk of intellect – that level of intelligence which is capable of discussing itself. But make no mistake, this level does not exist in isolation from all that has gone before. They are simply simpler manifestations of the ability to make decisions. And they stretch all the way back to the beginning of time.

Matter is evidently intent on organising itself. That it can do so only by virtue of the unmitigated randomness of the Universe is the hardest lesson – at least psychologically – that many human beings will ever have to digest. But until it has been digested, too many of our species will retain the arrogant and destructive view that “we” are somehow “special” and that, as a consequence, we can do what we like to whom we like and never worry too much about the consequences.

Technically, its true of course. We are sufficiently evolved to be able to make decisions to do anything we can imagine. And our imaginations are amazing.

The question is, have we evolved enough to make intelligent decisions? Which, of course, begs the question.

What are the intelligent decisions?

Big Bang? No Big Deal! by Fr. George W. Rutler

April 9, 2014

A well written thought out piece

Facebook Apostles

Big BangFROM THE PASTOR
March 30, 2014
by Fr. George W. Rutler

The Belgian priest and physicist, Monsignor Georges Lemaître died in 1966 after receiving news that his theory of the birth of the universe—what he called the “hypothesis of the primeval atom”—had been confirmed by the discovery of cosmic microwave background radiation. Albert Einstein was slow in coming around to Lemaître’s hypothesis of an expanding universe, now popularly called the “Big Bang”—a term that was first meant in subtle mockery, but then he commended it to further research. Just weeks ago, scientists published evidence of the almost instantaneous expansion of all matter from an infinitesimal particle. The scale and volume of this stuns the human mind, but at least if the mind cannot grasp this, it can acknowledge it, along with the fact that there was no time or space before that “moment.” It fits well with the record in…

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Birth control and Anarchy

March 30, 2014

During oral arguments Tuesday about the validity of Obamacare’s mandate, Justice Elena Kagan cleverly echoed Justice Antonin Scalia’s past warning that religious-based exceptions to neutral laws could lead to “anarchy.”

“Your understanding of this law, your interpretation of it, would essentially subject the entire U.S. Code to the highest test in constitutional law, to a compelling interest standard,” she told Paul Clement, the lawyer arguing against the mandate for Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood. “So another employer comes in and that employer says, I have a religious objection to sex discrimination laws; and then another employer comes in, I have a religious objection to minimum wage laws; and then another, family leave; and then another, child labor laws. And all of that is subject to the exact same test which you say is this unbelievably high test, the compelling interest standard with the least restrictive alternative.”

Kagan’s remarks might sound familiar to the legally-trained ear. In a 1990 the majority opinion in Employment Division v. Smith, Justice Scalia alluded to the same examples of what might happen if religious entities are permitted to claim exemptions from generally applicable laws. He warned that “[a]ny society adopting such a system would be courting anarchy.”

“The rule respondents favor would open the prospect of constitutionally required religious exemptions from civic obligations of almost every conceivable kind,” Scalia wrote in the 6-3 opinion, “ranging from compulsory military service, to the payment of taxes, to health and safety regulation such as manslaughter and child neglect laws, compulsory vaccination laws, drug laws, and traffic laws; to social welfare legislation such as minimum wage laws, child labor laws, animal cruelty laws, environmental protection laws, and laws providing for equality of opportunity for the races.”

Indeed, Clement picked up on the reference.

“If you look at that parade of horribles — Social Security, minimum wage, discrimination laws, compelled vaccination — every item on that list was included in Justice Scalia’s opinion for the Court in Smith,” he said.

Kagan also echoed Scalia’s argument in Smith that judges are not qualified to evaluate the “centrality” of beliefs to a faith, or the “validity” of interpretations brought forth by individuals seeking exemptions from the law.

“You cannot test the centrality of a belief to a religion, you cannot test the sincerity of religion,” she said. “I think a court would be, you know — their hands would be bound when faced with all these challenges if your standard applies.”

The case in Smith brought by two men who lost their jobs for using peyote, which they said was part of a Native American ritual, and were subsequently denied unemployment benefits by Oregon.

If Scalia had the final word, the owners of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood probably wouldn’t have had much of a case against the birth control rule. But Congress responded to Scalia’s opinion by passing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act in 1993, which sets strict scrutiny standards for any law that substantially burdens a person’s exercise of religion. That’s the law that endangers the contraceptive mandate — and it’s the basis under which Scalia  appeared to lean against the government’s position during Tuesday’s oral arguments.

Do we want the United Corporations of America?

March 27, 2014

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Hobby Lobby doesn’t want to cover its employees’ birth control on company insurance plans. In fact, they’re so outraged about women having access to birth control that they’ve taken the issue all the way to the Supreme Court.

I cannot believe that we live in a world where we would even consider letting some big corporation deny the women who work for it access to the basic medical tests, treatments or prescriptions that they need based on vague moral objections.

But here’s the scary thing: With the judges we’ve got on the Supreme Court, Hobby Lobby might actually win.

The current Supreme Court has headed in a very scary direction.

Recently, three well-respected legal scholars examined almost 20,000 Supreme Court cases from the last 65 years. They found that the five conservative justices currently sitting on the Supreme Court are in the top 10 most pro-corporate justices in more than half a century.

And Justices Samuel Alito and John Roberts? They were number one and number two.

Take a look at the win rate of the national Chamber of Commerce cases before the Supreme Court. According to the Constitutional Accountability Center, the Chamber was winning 43% of the cases in participated in during the later years of the Burger Court, but that shifted to a 56% win-rate under the Rehnquist Court, and then a 70% win-rate with the Roberts Court.

Follow these pro-corporate trends to their logical conclusion, and pretty soon you’ll have a Supreme Court that is a wholly owned subsidiary of big business.

Birth control is at risk in today’s case, but we also need to worry about a lot more.

In Citizens United, the Supreme Court unleashed a wave of corporate spending to game the political system and drown the voices of middle class families.

And right now, the Supreme Court is considering McCutcheon v. FEC, a case that could mean the end of campaign contribution limits – allowing the big guys to buy even more influence in Washington.

Republicans may prefer a rigged court that gives their corporate friends and their armies of lawyers and lobbyists every advantage. But that’s not the job of judges. Judges don’t sit on the bench to hand out favors to their political friends.

On days like today, it matters who is sitting on the Supreme Court. It matters that we have a President who appoints fair and impartial judges to our courts, and it matters that we have a Senate who approves them.

We’re in this fight because we believe that we don’t run this country for corporations – we run it for people.