Climate change: 2 Catholic legislators, 2 different points of view

September 24th, 2015 10 comments


Kaine said he was “very, very excited” by “Laudato Si,” Francis’s encyclical on the environment generally and on the need to address climate change in particular — something Kaine places in “an area of fundamental truth.”

“I’m sure he’s not going to opine on whether a carbon tax is better than a cap-and-trade mechanism,” he said. “That doesn’t need to be where he goes — but to say, ‘You know, you guys and everybody in power these days, you’ve got the next generation’s future in your hands, and you don’t want to have to face that question later in life: With the science what it was, and with you having the opportunity to do something about it, why did you choose not to?'”

But Rounds — whose given name is Marion, in honor of the Holy Mother — sees a potential conflict between Francis’s focus on climate change and his oft-repeated calls for greater attention to the poor.

Read more…

Categories: Climate Change, Religion Tags:

Immigrant Catholics: How things once were

September 24th, 2015 6 comments

It hasn’t been that many decades since there was real prejudice towards the Irish and central Europeans immigrants, mainly because they were Catholic.    Remember the days of WASP and what it stood for:  White Anglo-Saxon Protestant.


What a difference a few decades can make. Today, the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of these Catholic immigrants occupy the halls of Congress, governors’ mansions and state legislatures. One of them currently resides in the Naval Observatory. And when the head of the Catholic Church comes to visit, he will be warmly welcomed and hailed by politicians of all parties and all faiths.
Indeed, America has traveled a long road since the days when many native-born Americans regarded Catholic immigrants as an ideological and racial threat.

But it’s also a fitting time to recall how things once were. Pope Francis arrives amid a political season rife with violent rhetoric directed at millions of Catholic immigrants and their American-born children. Much like an earlier generation of newcomers who faced a toxic blend of racial and nativist backlash, today’s Catholic immigrants have found themselves the unwitting subject of an intense debate about the very meaning of what it means to be an American.

Are we still revisiting the same old prejudices, just from other countries?  It seems so.

Categories: General Tags:

Is the US military turning a blind eye to sex abuse in Afghanistan?

September 22nd, 2015 7 comments

From the New York Times editorial:

The incidents of sexual assault on children described by American service members who served in Afghanistan are sickening. Boys screaming in the night as Afghan police officers attacked them. Three or four Afghan men found lying on the floor of a room at a military base with children between them, presumably for sex play.

No less offensive is that American soldiers and Marines who wanted to intervene could not. According to an account in The Times by Joseph Goldstein, they were ordered by their superiors to ignore abusive behavior by their Afghan allies and “to look the other way because it’s their culture.”

The Pentagon’s indulgent, even complicit, attitude toward pedophiles among the Afghan militias that it funded and trained is indefensible, at odds with American values and with international laws Washington has taken the lead in promoting.

Pervasive sexual abuse of children has long been a problem in Afghanistan. It is especially pronounced among armed commanders who control rural regions and hold sway over the population there. The practice is known as bacha bazi, or boy play; powerful Afghan men often surround themselves with young teenagers as a mark of social status.

By instructing American soldiers and Marines not to interfere, even if the incidents occurred on American bases, the Pentagon has chosen — reprehensibly — to sacrifice vulnerable children in order to maintain good relations with the Afghan police and militias it needs to fight the Taliban.

Some American service members who opposed the policy have been disciplined or seen their careers ruined because they fought it. In one case, Dan Quinn, then a Special Forces captain, beat up an Afghan militia commander in 2011 for keeping a boy chained to his bed as a sex slave. The Army subsequently relieved Captain Quinn of his command, and he has since left the military. Now the Army is trying to retire Sgt. First Class Charles Martland, a Special Forces member who joined Captain Quinn in the beating.

Continue at the New York Times.

Where is the press?  Where is the Pentagon?  The military brass turning a blind eye to this kind of reprehensible child abuse is simply unacceptable on all counts.   No human being should be used as a sex slave, especially children.  I don’t give a rat’s ass what the customs are.

Read more…

Categories: sexual issues, War/Military Tags:

Where is the outrage over ” Little Johnny Maple Leaf?”

September 21st, 2015 21 comments

maple leaf

Earlier this school year, a sixth-grader in the gifted-and-talented program at Bedford Middle School in Bedford, Virginia was suspended for one year after an assistant principal found something that looked like a marijuana leaf in his backpack.

The student, the 11-year-old son of two school teachers, had to enroll in the district’s alternative education program and be homeschooled. He was evaluated by a psychiatrist for substance abuse problems, and charged with marijuana possession in juvenile court. In the months since September, he’s become withdrawn, depressed, and he suffers from panic attacks. He is worried his life is over, according to his mother, and that he will never get into college.

The only problem? The “leaf” found in the student’s backpack wasn’t what authorities thought it was — it tested negative for marijuana three separate times.

All of this is laid out in detail by Dan Casey in a column in the Roanoke Times today. While the juvenile court dropped its case against the student after the tests turned up negative, the school system, in a community located midway between Roanoke and Lynchburg, has been far less forgiving. That’s because stringent anti-drug policies in school districts in Virginia and elsewhere consider “imitation” drugs to be identical to real ones for disciplinary purposes.

Depriving a student of an education for a year does have a long-lasting, harmful effect.   It has better be done over something extremely important.  Most codes of behavior within the state speak of placebos–look-alike pills.  A leaf is not a pill.

Kids act silly about things that are forbidden.  So do adults.  I have continually joked that the Prince William County seal looks like it honors the marijuana plant even though I clearly know it does not.

So what if the kid said his maple leaf was “marijuana.”  Where is the harm?  I could even understand if the kid were hauled in and interrogated for an hour and his leaf sent off to some lab somewhere (maybe).  I could understand if his parents were called.  What I don’t understand is the kid being long-term suspended for a year  after the leaf tested negative three different times.

The article in the Roanoke Times is has not been found.  However, there is great coverage in some of the alternative newspapers. covered the entire story as did several other periodicals.

What is the difference in Ahmed and “Johnny Maple Leaf” some might ask.  The difference is the public safety as well as the degree of consequence.   A real marijuana leaf doesn’t have the potential to detonate.  Ahmed’s punishment lasted 3 days.  Johnny’s lasted a year.   Where is the outrage on behalf of Johnny Maple Leaf?

Disclosure:  I have a similar tree in my yard.


Categories: Education/Schools Tags:

Open Thread………………………………………Wednesday, September 2

September 20th, 2015 22 comments

hello september


The leaves won’t be changing for a while.  Right now August is in September.  Soo the skies will turn bright blue and the air will be crisp.  The nights will be cool and at times chilly.

The crickets and jarflies are loud–loud enough to drown you out if you are sitting on your deck.  In the evening, the frogs try to outsing the crickets.  Ants are marching many by many trying to store up food for the winter.

Everything is alive in fall, hurrying to get the last of the warmth and light in before the cold winter sets in.

Categories: General Tags:

The Pope goes to Congress

September 20th, 2015 8 comments

Pope Francis’s address to a joint session of Congress on
September 24, 2015 (10:00 AM ET) will mark a first in the history of the
Catholic Church and United States.

Invited by Speaker John Boehner, a Catholic and product of Jesuit education, Pope Francis will speak to a Congress where over 30% of members self-identify as Catholic and nearly 15% attended a Catholic college or university.  In addition, 55 of the members were educated at Jesuit universities or high schools.  His address to Congress will be an opportunity to invite legislators to reflect on the U.S.’s response to those who are marginalized by poverty and injustice, especially migrants, those plagued by climate change, workers treated unjustly, etc.


First off, I love the Pope.  I think he is a neat man and he behaves, in my opinion, as a man of Christ should.   To me, he has humility, has eschewed much of the opulence and ostentation of the Vatican in favor of a simpler life.  He seems to listen to the real needs of people.


However, I am far too much of a “wall of separation” person to be giving this Congressional address a 100% thumbs up.  I just am not sure that religious leaders should be addressing Congress.   I confess that I would be having a fit if Billy Graham or Jerry Falwell had  addressed Congress during their lifetime.  The Pope is a little different because he is a head of state.


This isn’t my sword to fall on.  The Pope has a good message of brotherly love.  I might not agree with all he says.  ( I don’t expect to) but I don’t believe he has a political agenda.   I will be watching to hear his address.  I know there are those who will boycott.


Does anyone here plan to see the Pope?   How do you feel about him addressing Congress?  Should we be treating him like royalty or just a head of state?  How many of us have Papal fever?  I just admit to having a slight case.
Categories: Religion Tags:

Republican debate lies

September 18th, 2015 54 comments

Several outright lies were told during the debate Wednesday that went unchallenged.  Several of them will have long-lasting fallout if the majority of the people watching believe them.

Trump declared that he knew of a 2 year old who “caught” autism right after receiving vaccinations.  No medical evidence has ever been established regarding vaccinations and autism.   According to the Washington Post opinion:

There were a lot of half-truths and out-right falsehoods peddled at CNN’s Republican debate Wednesday night, but perhaps the most damaging among them was the assertion by Donald Trump that childhood vaccinations cause autism, and others’ skepticism about the safety of the vaccine schedule set out by the American Academy of Pediatrics. It was particularly galling watching two physicians who are president candidates, Ben Carson and Rand Paul, pander when they clearly know better.

Where were the 2 doctors when Trump was making his bold claim?  Carson equivocated rather than just calling BS.  Rand Paul was silent.  Trump told an irresponsible lie.  His opponents who were in a position to challenge him, didn’t.  Shame on all three of them.


Carly Fiorina also  lied.  She challenged to Hillary to watch a fabricated video of a fully-formed baby with kicking legs being dismembered for its brain.  She lost all credibility on that one.  There is no such video of such any such  event.

Shame on her.  She has a lot going for her as a candidate.  I have scratched her off my list because of her lie.  That is not how stem cell research works.

Hopefully, the more reasonable, truthful  Republicans will bump off the wannabes.

Categories: Elections Tags:

Clinics no longer required to have special building codes and hospital rules

September 18th, 2015 9 comments

The Virginia Board of Health voted Thursday evening to reverse hospital-style rules and building codes for abortion clinics, fulfilling a campaign promise of Gov. Terry McAuliffe and delivering a setback to abortion foes.

The amended regulations — if finalized — will no longer require the state’s existing abortion clinics to comply with the inpatient hospital code. Nor would the regulations mandate that the clinics have transfer agreements with hospitals or impose strict construction and design standards. However, future clinics will have to follow parts of the construction code.

“Today’s vote is an enormous step forward in the fight to get extreme politics out of decisions that should be between women and their doctors,” McAuliffe (D) said in a statement. “I applaud the Board of Health for ending this disturbing chapter in our history and for heeding the advice of experts, medical professionals and Virginia women about the best way to provide safe access to health care.”

The move also drew praise from the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia and ProgressVA.

Don’t be mislead.  These TRAP rules and codes were meant to shut down clinics, not make abortion safer.  Hopefully all new clinics, regardless of the type of medical service provided will have to follow codes that make all procedures safer.  Plenty of us have out patient services that are far more invasive and dangerous than abortion.

Good for the State Board of Health for coming to its senses, now Cuccinelli and McDonald are peddling their influence elsewhere.

The thought occurred to me as I created this post that now our local clinic is closing, the protesters will have further to drive.  Please know that the clinic owner always appreciated them being out there.  Protester presence saved her thousands of dollars annually in advertising.

The best way to end abortion is to do all we can to reduce unwanted pregnancy.  Yet, as we speak, members of the Senate and Congress are trying their best to defund Planned Parenthood.  The Hyde Amendment has made it illegal for any federal money to go towards abortion.  Those chasing after Planned Parenthood with pitchforks and torches need to think about the cost of unwanted, unplanned pregnancy.  Birth Control ought to be a national priority.

I have to go write my check to Planned Parenthood.  You can also designate them through

*TRAP* laws = Targeted Restriction of Abortion Providers 


Categories: Reproductive Rights Tags:

I do NOT stand with Ahmed Mohamed

September 17th, 2015 70 comments

Ahmed Mohamed just wanted to impress his teachers with a homemade invention. The story of what happened next has made the 14-year-old from Irving, Tex., the object of national outrage and attention.

Eager to show off to his engineering teacher, Mohamed walked into MacArthur High School on Monday morning with his hastily assembled invention: A digital clock.

Hours later, the ninth-grader was escorted out of the school in police custody after teachers mistook the device for a bomb.

The incident has triggered allegations of racism and made a Texas school district the target of outrage that began online and quickly spilled into the most powerful offices in the land.

As the story spread, along with a photo of Mohamed in a NASA T-shirt and handcuffs, support came flooding in.

He was escorted out in handcuffs, not shot, for God’s sake. My criticism of the school and/or police is that hours later he was removed rather than immediately.

Read more…

Categories: Education/Schools Tags:

The CNN Republican Debate: Cheers and Jeers

September 16th, 2015 8 comments

Let’s keep this short.

A. Name who you think did the best job.

B.  the worst job.

C.  Who gave the best one liner?

D.  Who made the most irresponsible statement?

E.  Who is your least favorite candidate?

No hi-jacking allowed.



Categories: Elections, General Tags: