Mind and Destiny

“I make no pretension to patriotism. So long as my voice can be heard ... I will hold up America to the lightning scorn of moral indignation. In doing this, I shall feel myself discharging the duty of a true patriot; for he is a lover of his country who rebukes and does not excuse its sins. It is righteousness that exalteth a nation while sin is a reproach to any people.”- Frederick Douglass

Location: Delhi, N.Y., United States

The author and his webmaster, summer of 1965.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Justice Denied

George Zimmerman disregarded a police dispatcher's request that he await the arrival of police.  Instead, he was pursued and shot Tryvon Martin an unarmed African-American teenager.  Zimmerman acted like a police officer, judge and jury, who had decided the youth’s guilt.

More recently, Eric Garner died after police put him in a chokehold while arresting him for selling loose cigarettes on the sidewalk in Staten Island.  Garder repeatedly insisted that he couldn’t breath, but an officer continued the choke hold as he lay on the ground.  A Staten Island grand jury decided not to indict that police officers in Garner’s death. 

Police Officer Darren Wilson gunned down 18 years old Michael Brown, who was unarmed in Ferguson, Missouri.  Dr. Michael M. Baden, the former chief medical examiner for the City of New York, conduct a separate autopsy.  He insisted the bullet that entered the top of Michael Brown's skull was "likely the last of bullets to hit him."  It suggest that the teenagers head was bent forward when the bullet fired by officer Darren Wilson caused the fatal injury.

Police in Cleveland responded to a call in a local park, where twelve-year-old 12-year-old Tamir Rice had been playing with a realistic looking air soft pellet gun.  Within three seconds of driving up to him in that park, one of the officers shot and killed the child.

Police in suburban Madison, Alabama stopped 57 year old grandfather Sureshbhai Patel after somebody reported a stranger walking through the neighborhood.  He was in Madison to visit family members.  One of the officers slammed him to the ground, which left Mr. Patel paralyzed.  That officer was charged with felony civil rights abuse.

In Pasco, Washington a police officer shot an unarmed man who had been throwing rocks at him.  As Antonio Zambrano-Montes ran away he was shot 17 time.  No one has been charged in that killing. 

Last January in Inkster, Michigan, Floyd Dent was pulled over and beaten by local police.  The beating resulted in a fractured eye socket and broken ribs.  The tape of that beating surfaced a few weeks ago.  The video shows the police officers in the Inkster station house attempting to spray Floyd Dent’s blood off their clothes and hands.  The officers exchanged fist bumps apparently celebrating how well the arrest and beating had went.  Dent’s attorney claims that his client was still bleeding, and in need of medical attention as the officers were congratulating each other.  One of the officers has been charged with felony mistreatment of the prisoners, and charges against Dent erased.  

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Sole Searching

Freddie Gray was a 25-year-old native of Baltimore, who was arrested by the police, and a week later he died.  The Department of Justice is investigating the events that led to his death and President Obama has offered his thoughts to the family and friends of Freddie Gray who are appropriately looking for answers while at the same time making clear there is no excuse for violence.  He has noted that events in Baltimore called attention to the urgent need throughout our country to build trust between communities and their police.  
He urged: “We have some soul-searching to do.  This has been going on for a long time.  This is not new, and we shouldn’t pretend that it’s new.  The good news is that perhaps there’s some newfound awareness, because of social media and video cameras and so forth, that there are problems and challenges when it comes to how policing and our laws are applied in certain communities and we have to pay attention to it.
“If our society really wanted to solve the problem, we could -- it’s just that it would require everybody saying: ‘This is important, this is significant.’  We don't just pay attention to these communities when a CVS burns, and we don’t just pay attention when a young man gets shot or has his spine snapped.  We should be paying attention all the time because we consider those kids our kids, and we think they’re important and that they shouldn’t be living in poverty and violence.”
Those are the reason President Obama is committed to promoting policies that would make a difference on unemployment, poverty, and other serious social challenges that continue to afflict too many communities across our country.
He is also working with police departments and community leaders to implement recommendations from his Task Force on 21st Century Policing to help build trust between communities and law enforcement while maintaining public safety.  From adopting new technologies to build trust to prioritizing de-escalation and avoiding provocative tactics to enhancing officer safety and wellness, these recommendations can begin to build a culture of trust that is needed to promote safety and justice in every community and for every individual, no matter who they are.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Demanding Answers

The Mayor of Baltimore, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake noted: “Our community is very clear, they demand answers and so do I.  I still want to know why the policies and the procedures of transport we’re not followed.  I still want to know why none of the officers called for immediate medical assistant despite Mr. Gray’s apparent pleads.”

Baltimore law enforcement is trying to suggest, that maybe something happened in the vehicle, when the fatal injury most likely occurred prior to Gray being placed in the vehicle.  What happened in the actual take down?  Was there some kind of cervical vertebrae fracture in the take down that led to the paralysis?

Exactly how Freddie Gray suffered the fatal spinal cord injury while in police custody remains unclear.  Six officers have been suspended, that includes the three initial officers on bicycles, the driver of the transport van and two other officers.

Police haven’t addressed the issue of why they chased Freddie Gray to begin with.  The Police Union has sited a law that allows them to engage a suspect.  But, the problem is that they’re referencing a Supreme Court ruling in the case of the United States versus Jones which talks about being able to engage a suspect in a high crime area.  

The problem with that is the court decision speaks to reasonable suspicion to detain and not probable cause to arrest.  In the Freddie Gray case, he was arrested, and a knife isn’t necessarily enough to arrest a person.

Baltimore officials should be focused on ensuing their police conduct themselves in a way that doesn’t end up with the murder of a black suspect.  If people are concerned about violence in their communities, they’ve got to direct it at the source of that violence, and unfortunately police violence is too widespread.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Reserve Sheriff Deputy

Reserve Sheriff Deputy Robert Bates has apologized to the family of Eric Harris, who was killed when Bates allegedly mistook his gun for his Taser.  Bates admitted grabbing his gun thinking it was his Taser and pulling the trigger.  Bates is recorded as saying: “Oh my God, I shot him. I’m sorry.”

The family of Eric Harris is calling for an independent investigation, and since he was an African-American I understand their skepticism.

Bates’ training records have raised questions, because The Tulsa World newspaper has cited unnamed sources alleging Bates was given credit for field training he never did and firearms certifications he never received.

The issues of what his training was or should have been, and what his assignment was on the day of the shooting are crucial.  As a member of the violent crime division, Bates knew or should have known that the use of deadly force was possible because he was armed with both a Taser and gun.

These things are going to be presented to a jury, and speak to the likelihood that he knew or should have known that an accident could happen.

The greatest thing Robert Bates may have going for him is that at 73-year of age, he has no criminal history, and come across as someone who would never intended to commit a crime.  Good intentions are not going to bring Eric Harris back.  That is the reason Bates has been charged with manslaughter in the second-degree, as a reckless mistake that he should have known better and should have used greater care.

Eric Harris is dead, and the state isn’t going to accept Bates’ good intentions as an excuse to dismiss culpability in this case.  The state may not excuse his behavior but a jury is likely to.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Fastest Growing Markets

New trade deals are important to both our economy and our values.  Middle-class economics requires that America does best when everyone gets their fair shot, does their fair share, and plays by the same set of rules.
Our government must make sure our economy lives up to those values, especially after a financial crisis brought about by recklessness and greed.  We live in a world where our workers have to compete on a global scale.  Presently, the global economy’s rules are different, and the playing field isn’t level.  That’s the reason America needs to be involved in rewriting the rules of the global economy.
Past deals haven’t live up to our expectations, but trying to stop a global economy at our shores won’t work.  We need to be involved in reshaping the rules of the global economy to benefit our workers.  If we don’t China will write those rules, we could see more communities, where manufacturing plants close down, and jobs dry up.
When President Obama took office, his administration started thinking about how to revamp trade in a way that works for American workers.  He has been negotiating a trade partnership in the Asia-Pacific, which is home to the world’s fastest-growing markets.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership, has significantly stronger provisions for workers and the environment, and unlike in past agreements, they’re enforceable.  Once you’re a part of the partnership, there are actually consequences, if you violate your responsibilities.  Since, the TPP would include Canada and Mexico, it will also fix a lot of what was wrong with NAFTA.
President Obama insists: “So this isn’t a race to the bottom, for lower wages and working conditions.  The trade agreements I’m negotiating will drive a race to the top. And we’re making sure American workers can retool through training programs and community colleges, and use new skills to transition into new jobs.
“If I didn’t think this was the right thing to do for working families, I wouldn’t be fighting for it.  We’ve spent the past six years trying to rescue the economy, retool the auto industry, and revitalize American manufacturing.  And if there were ever an agreement that undercut that progress, or hurt those workers, I wouldn’t sign it.  My entire presidency is about helping working families recover from recession and rebuild for the future.  As long as I’m President, that’s what I’ll keep fighting to do.”

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Hottest on Record

Around our planet last year was the Earth’s warmest year on record.  Fourteen of the 15 hottest years on record have all fallen in the first 15 years of this century.  This problem that can’t wait for the next generation to solve.  It has serious implications of stronger storms, and longer droughts and wildfire seasons.
Our executive branch of government is committed to doubling the pace at which we cut carbon pollution.  For the first time China has committed to limit their emissions.  And, there’s new hope, that the world will finally reach an agreement to prevent the worst impacts of climate change before it’s too late.
The Obama administration has been working with cities and states to build more resilient infrastructure and restore natural defenses like wetlands.
In the Florida Everglades, the sea levels have risen, and salty water from the ocean is flowing in.  Saltwater harms freshwater wildlife and endangers a fragile ecosystem.  These saltwater flows threatens the drinking water of more than 7 million Floridians, and economic impact poses risks to Florida’s $82 billion tourism industry.
The Everglades has already received $2.2 billion in restoration efforts.  Nevertheless, President Obama has proposed another $240 million this year to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which supports restoration across our country. 
A report shows that for every dollar invested in the National Park Service generates $10 for the economy.  In 2014, almost 300 million visitors to our national parks spent almost $16 billion and supported 277,000 jobs.  Obviously, protecting our national parks is one of the smart thing to do for our economy.  The Obama administration has set aside more public lands and waters than any administration in history.
The step the Obama administration has been taking is already making a difference.  Americans are using more clean energy than ever before.  We are number one in wind power.   Last year our country generated 20 times more electricity from sunlight than we did in all of 2008.  We’re wasting less energy, with more fuel-efficient cars that save people money at the pump, and more energy-efficient buildings that save money on your electricity bills.  More clean energy, improved energy efficiency can help us avoid the worst effects of climate change down the road.  However, we also have to prepare for the effects of climate change that we’re already too late to avoid.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Without Incident

Baltimore, Maryland is the latest city to come under the glare of the national spotlight concerning the death of Freddie Gray.  The Baltimore Sun reports that there are four separate investigations underway.  The Justice Department has opened a civil rights investigation.

Baltimore police have released the names of the six officers suspended with pay involved in Gray’s arrest.  Baltimore has already paid $5.7 million in court judgments and settlements in more than 102 lawsuits alleging police misconduct since 2011. 

The problem that we’re seeing early on in case is the issue of transparency.  Freddie Gray may have possibly suffered a serious injury when the police took him down.  A video tape shows, that the position of his body as the police dragged him from the sidewalk to the paddy wagon, Gray’s legs are very limped, and the position of his neck suggests a possible injury to the cervical area of his neck. 

The video tape shows Freddie Gray asking for help as two police officers seemed to be putting too much pressure on his neck, and turning a deaf ear to his pleas.  Freddie Gray is dead and the police have claimed that he was arrested without incident.  

The erosion of trust between law enforcement and the African- American community has reached epidemic proportions, because the police have demonstrated that they can’t be trusted even when they’re caught in a lie.

Someone from law enforcement needs to say why they arrested Gray in the first place.  That alone might restore a little bit of trust between the community and law enforcement.

People are calling for peace, however law enforcement is already out of control.   Nationwide, many citizens believe, calls for peace should be directed at law enforcement, because they’re the ones who are murdering unarmed civilians in the streets.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Elizabeth Warren’s Agenda

Although, Senator Warren isn't running for president, she has advocated many policy proposals.
According to George Zornick, if Elizabeth Warren ran for president, her campaign would likely involve how to restructure the financial sector in a less dangerous and more productive way.
Zornick wrote: “Her ideas fit into four basic categories: first, getting tougher on bad financial actors, particularly big banks, and presenting them with actual legal accountability for malfeasance.  Second, Warren outlined how to change the basic structure of the country's largest financial institutions so their very existence doesn't threaten the economy nor taxpayer money via inevitable bailouts.  Third, she outlined how to change tax policies that incentivize financial risk-taking and instability.  And finally, Warren called for tougher regulations on the shadow-banking sector that was a huge contributor to the 2008 crash and which remained largely untouched by Dodd-Frank.”
Warren called for congressional action to allow the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to police the auto-loan industry, which it is largely prohibited from doing in the Dodd-Frank legislation that created the bureau.  Warren said: "the auto-loan market looks increasingly like the pre-crisis housing market" and that immediate oversight is needed.
Senator Warren advocated a bill that would cap the deposits, liabilities, and assets of large financial institutions. Senators Sherrod Brown and Ted Kaufmann proposed an amendment to this affect to Dodd-Frank, but it failed. Warren also called for reinstatement of the Glass-Steagall division between commercial and investment banking, and for limits on the Federal Reserve's ability to provide emergency lending to big banks. 
She believes: "Rules are not the enemy of markets.  Rules are a necessary ingredient for healthy markets, for markets that create competition and innovation.  And rolling back the rules or firing the cops can be profoundly anti-market."

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Misinformed or Unreasonable

According to a new CNN/ORC poll, for the first time since May 2013, more Americans say they have a positive impression of how President Obama is handling the presidency.  Now, 48 percent approve of the way he’s handling the job, while 47 percent disapprove.  Obama's numbers are also on the rise at the same time the public gives the economy the highest ratings of his presidency.  The poll found 52 percent described our economy as very or somewhat good, while 48 percent call it very or somewhat poor.

A few months ago a poll had showed that 54 percent of Americans disapproved of Obama’s handling of the economy.  These polls suggest that many remain either misinformed or unreasonable, because our unemployment rate is lower, than it was before the 2008 financial crisis.  Last year, about 10 million uninsured Americans finally gained the security of health coverage.  Obamacare has provided 54,000 new jobs, and health care inflation rate is at its lowest in 50 years.
Have people just realized that in February our economy added 295,000 jobs, and our unemployment rate was 5.5 percent?  For the 5th straight year, our economy had produced 200,000 private sector jobs a month.  Since 2010, the manufacturing  sector of our economy added roughly 800,000 jobs.

America is number one in oil and gas production, and we’re also number one in wind power.  Every three weeks, we are bring online as much solar power as we did in all of 2008.
More of our children are graduating than ever before, and schools have prepared our children for a more competitive world.  Today, our younger students have earned the highest math and reading scores on record.  Our high school graduation rate has hit an all-time high, and more Americans have finish college than ever before.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

NYC Marathon Training Schedule

NYC Marathon training schedule for runners that have completed a half marathon and have a very busy agenda on Monday mornings.

Week                      Tues.    Wed.   Thur.   Fri.    Sat.   Sun.     Mon.               Total 
April 28-May 4     3           6          3           6         3        6          rest                  27
May 5-11                 3            6         3          6         3        7           rest                  28
May 12-18              3            6         3            6        3       8          rest                  29
May 19-25              3            7         3            7         3       9          rest                  32
May 26- June 1     3            7          3           7         3       10         rest                  33 
June 2-8                 3            7          3           7         3       7          rest                  30
June 9-15               3            7          3           7         3        11         rest                 34   
June 16- 22           3            7          3           7         3        7          rest                  30   
June 23-29            3            7          3           7         3       12         rest                 35 
June 30- July 6     3            7          3           7         3        7          rest                 30  
July 7- 13                3            7          3           7         3       13         rest                 36
July 14- 20             3             7          3           7         3       7          rest                 30 
July 21-27               3            7          3           7         3       14        rest                  37
July 28- Aug. 3      3            7          3            7        3        7         rest                  30
Aug. 4 - 10              3            7          3            7        3        15        rest                 38
Aug. 11- 17              3            7          3            7        3        7          rest                 30
Aug. 18- 24             3            7          3            7        3        16       rest                  39
Aug. 25-31              3            7          3            7        3        7          rest                 30 
Sept. 1-7                  3            7          3            7        3        17        rest                 40   
Sept. 8- 14              3            7          3            7        3         7         rest                 30
Sept. 15- 21             3            7          3            7        3         18       rest                 41
Sept. 22- 28            3            7          3            7        3         7        rest                 30 
Sept.29- Oct. 5       3            7          3            7        3         19       rest                 42
Oct. 6- 12                 3            7          3            7        3         7        rest                 30 
Oct 13- 19                3            7          3            7        3         20      rest                 43 
Oct. 20- 26              3            7          3            7        3         7        rest                 30 
Oct. 27 - Nov. 1       3            7          3            7       rest     26.2    REST             46.2  

There are no makeup days required on this schedule, because every other week those 30 miles of running in a week actually serve as makeup training.  If your body is hurting or if you have a lot of work to do the scheduled 30 mile run weeks are built in to provide makeup opportunities for the previous week in which the long run is increased.

Those weekly runs also provide a rest between weeks in which the milage is decreased thereby lessening the chance of injury, as well as, insuring that you’ll feel strong at the end of the marathon.   

Monday, April 20, 2015

Paying Their Fair Share

Independent Senator Bernie Sanders has noted: “There’s something profoundly wrong when 99 percent of all new income generated in this country goes to the top 1 percent, when we have lost 60,000 factories since 2001 and millions of decent paying jobs.”

I agree with Senator Sanders, that every Democratic and Republican candidate for president needs to be very clear regarding how they’d go about expanding the middle class by creating the millions of decent paying jobs, and whether or not they’d insist that the very wealthy individuals and very profitable corporations begin paying their fair share in taxes.

According to Sanders the real unemployment in America isn’t 5.5 percent, it’s 11 percent.  He claims that many American voters want to know how we’re going to raise wages of those people, who are now earning $7.25 an hour.  And, they want to know how we’re dealing with climate change and how we’re going to reverse climate change by moving to sustainable energy. 

There are also a lot of white working class America, who can’t afford to send their children to college.  They don’t have health care and although they vote Republican they don’t believe in the Republican agenda of giving tax breaks to billionaires, while cutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. 

Furthermore, Senator Sanders explained: “I think the President and Secretary Kerry have done a very good job in making it clear that A; we want to make sure that Iran does not get a nuclear weapon but B; what we have got to do is everything possible to prevent another war on the Middle East.”

Bernie Sanders insists that President Obama and John Kerry deserve credit for trying to negotiate an agreement that prevents Iran from getting the bomb and yet does it in a way without a war.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Loretta Lynch’s Nomination

Recently, President Obama strongly admonish the Senate for stalling the nomination of Loretta Lynch to be our next attorney general.  If confirmed, Lynch would be the first African-American woman to lead the Justice Department.
We’ve had the longest wait for a nominee to lead the Justice Department in three decades.  It’s been 160 days since Obama nominated her on November 8th, and the delay in her confirmation is the longest since Ronald Reagan nominated Edwin Meese for the post in 1984.
Obama told reporters:"Enough. Enough.  Call Loretta Lynch for a vote, get her confirmed, let her do her job.  This is embarrassing.  There are times where the dysfunction in the Senate just goes too far.  This is an example of it."
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is holding up Lynch's nomination as leverage to push Senate Democrats to drop a filibuster on an unrelated anti-human trafficking bill.  Democrats object to that measure because it contains an abortion provision. McConnell won't bring up Loretta Lynch’s nomination for a vote until that dispute is resolved.
The Republican majority in the Senate has yet to offer a timeline as to a possible vote on Lynch's confirmation, and Eric Holder continues to serve as attorney general.
Mitch McConnell's office insisted that the majority leader is working to resolve Lynch's nomination.  And, Republican and Democratic leaders in the Senate maintain they are working towards a resolution on the sex-trafficking bill.
Minority Leader Harry Reid has appeared to share McConnell's optimism.  He announced:"Ms. Lynch's nomination will not remain in purgatory forever."  
But for all the optimism, the Senate wrapped up its business for last week, without dealing with Lynch's nomination.  President Obama noted, that no one can articulate a reason beyond political gamesmanship as to why she has not been confirmed.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Trade Promotion Authority

President Obama congratulated Senators Wyden and Hatch for putting together bipartisan framework for Trade Promotion Authority.  Trade Promotion Authority isn’t the same as a trade agreement, it simply provides a structure whereby when a trade agreement is presented, it can move forward more quicker and not get bogged down.
The structural framework is exceptional, because for the first time there are requirements for enforceable labor and environmental provisions.  The framework gives attention to issues like human rights.  In many ways, it’s the most far-reaching Trade Promotion Authority that Congress has ever considered.

The first trade agreement that would be present under the Trade Promotion Authority would be the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP.  Ninety-five percent of the world’s fastest-growing markets are going to be in Asia.  Our negotiators needs to help shape the rules so that our businesses and workers can compete in those markets.  If we don’t participate China will set up rules that will give an significant  advantage to Chinese workers and Chinese businesses.

If America doesn’t participate, over the next 20-30 years, we’ll be unable to protect our businesses from discrimination, our agricultural products will be excluded, and high tariffs could prevent us from competing fairly.  For example, our ability to maintain intellectual property protection on the Internet wouldn’t be a level playing field.

The Obama administration want’s to negotiate an agreement with strong enforceable labor, and environmental provisions, that’s good for both the economy and is the right thing to do.

Companies, who want low-cost labor, have already left America, and we’re already at a disadvantage.  The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, Obama is proposing would strengthen our ability to force other markets to open.
Resistance to a new trade agreement would be a ratification of the status quo.  Japan is one of the negotiators of the deal.  A lot of Japanese cars have been purchased by Americans, but very few Chryslers, GM and Ford cars are being purchased in Japan.  The current situation isn’t working, and being opposed to opening up the Japanese market for more American autos or beef doesn’t make any sense.
We can’t stop a global economy at our shores.  We’ve got to make sure we’re writing the rules so that we get a level playing field.  When we do, products made in America and services provided by American firms are the best in the world.

Friday, April 17, 2015

North Charleston

A video, recorded by a witness, shows Officer Michael Slager firing his gun eight times as Walter Scott runs away after being stopped for a broken taillight.  Scott, who was unarmed, was struck five times.  The video of the shooting prompted the city of North Charleston to take responsibility for what happened.  Unlike the mayor of Ferguson Missouri, North Charleston’s mayor apologized to the Scott family, and officer Slager was charged with murder and fired from the police force.
However, according to law enforcement data on stops that didn’t lead to an arrest or a ticket, North Charleston police stopped African Americans almost twice as often as whites between July 2007 and February of this year.

Another resident of North Charleston is accusing officer Slager of abusive police behavior.  Unlike Scott, Julius Wilson has survived.  He claims, that he was “tased” by police after they had stopped him over a broken taillight and arrested him.  Wilson was yanked out of his car because he kept demanding they explain why they were arresting him.  Once, Wilson was submissive on the street, officer Michael Slager used a Taser on him.
Wilson is suing Slager, the city, and the police department over the incident, which was captured on police dashcam showing Slager using a Taser on a man while the man was face-down on the pavement after being arrested.
Micah King, a 30 year old black resident claimed that he’d been stopped by police four times this year.  He admits one incident was legitimate: "I was speeding.  But every time, I found myself outside and getting my car searched.  For what?"
Several agencies are investigating Scott's killing, but some people are wondering whether this tragedy will lead to a larger probe of the North Charleston community, as was the case in Ferguson.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Everyone Agrees

Republican Senator Corker, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee agreed to a compromise bill will reduces the review period to 30 days.  Initially, the review process was 60 days.

President Obama agreed not to unilaterally lift mandated sanctions against Iraq, while Congress is in the process of reviewing the Iran nuclear deal.  He’s no longer threatening to veto Corker’s bill.  The revised bill moved some of the Democrats who were holding out from approving the bill, because they considered the process had become a partisan fight.  The Foreign Relations Committee has unanimously passed a revised bill that would give Congress the right to approve or reject the Iran deal. 

Democratic Senator Ben Cardin, who is a member of the Foreign Relations Committee reported: “I’ve been talking to the President over the last 10 days that we’ve been negotiating.  He made it clear that he wanted to sign a bill, but there were fundamental problems in Corker’s bill.

“I negotiated changes that took out of the bill, certain certifications, that probably would have prevented a negotiated agreement.  Congress is the one who imposed the sanctions and only Congress can release the sanctions or modify them permanently.

“Everyone agrees that to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear weapon state the best way to do it is through diplomacy.  This agreement will prevent any votes on the merits of the agreement until after it’s completed in June, and then it has to go through the normal process which means, a 60 vote threshold in the Senate.

“This agreement will not be based upon trust, it’s going to be a based upon provisions that prevent Iran from having a breakout capacity for a nuclear weapon within a short period of time.  It’s verifiable and sanctions can be reimpose if they start breaking this agreement.”

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

A Very Difficult Task

On 4/13/15, Secretary of State John Kerry briefed Congressional leaders about the Iran nuclear deal.  He’s attempting to convince them not to undercut the agreement.

Kerry said: “We hope Congress will listen carefully and ask the questions that it wants, but also give us space and the time to be able to complete a very difficult task, which has high stakes for our country.

Republican Senator Corker, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee is pushing a bill, that would require a 60-day hold before the president can ease sanctions on Iran.  President Obama promised to veto the bill but Corker claims to have enough votes to override a veto.

Laicie Heeley of the Center of Arms Control and Non-Proliferation explained: “I think as the days have gone on since we saw that the administration reached this agreement and the agreement really went far beyond what people expected.

“As the days have gone on, the debate has become more and more partisan and we see it really evolving here to a point where Senator McCain is calling Secretary Kerry delusional.  So we’ll see what happens in the committee tomorrow but a lot of Democrats are seeing that this is becoming a partisan fight and they are not quite so interested in it.”

President Obama noted: “You know, when I hear some like Senator McCain recently, suggest that our Secretary of State, John Kerry, who served in the United States Senate, a Vietnam veteran, who’s provided exemplary service to this nation, is somehow less trustworthy in the interpretation of what’s in a political agreement than the Supreme Leader of Iran -- that’s an indication of the degree to which partisanship has crossed all boundaries.”

Except for Senator Schumer, Senate Democrats have fallen off in their support for Corker’s legislation. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Supreme Court Ruling

In a 1985 the Tennessee versus Garner, the United States Supreme Court ruled that police can’t shoot fleeing felons.

There is video footage of North Charleston officer Michael Slager firing eight shots at the back of African American, Walter Scott following a traffic stop.

That video evidence resulted in Slager being charged with murder in the death of Scott as he fled following a traffic stop.  The video also showed Slager returning to where he fired shots to pick up an object the size of taser and dropping it near Scott’s body.

Attorney Benjamin Crump pointed out: “The narrative is always the same, ‘I felt fear of my life, I felt threatened, that unarmed person reached for my gun,’ and America continues to accept this narrative over and over again from every police department across the country.

“And when is America going to start to challenge these narratives?  But for this video, it would have been accepted again.  It was accepted in Michael Brown... It was accepted in every case of a police shooting of an unarmed of color that you can think of.  When are we going to challenge this?”

“We have Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old in Cleveland, Ohio that’s on video... So, hopefully, finally now, America is going to say, ‘We’re not just going to take the police version as the gospel.’”

Slager shot Walker Scott in the back eight times, and lied about what happened.  Apparently, he dropped the taser near the body to plant evidence, but he also lied about having giving the victim CPR, when he didn’t even turn the body over to get Scott’s face off the ground.

Most Americans haven’t admitted to themselves, that this is an issue about racial hatred, police misconduct, and sometimes jury decisions that cover up homicides. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Jewish Constituency

New York Senator Chuck Schumer is in line to become the Senate's Democratic leader in 2017.  He is a staunch supporter of Israel, and represents a large Jewish constituency, many of whom have expressed concerns about the framework of the proposed Iran nuclear agreement.
That nuclear agreement is strongly opposed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as, congressional Republicans, who believe that a split among Jewish voters on the Iran nuclear agreement will allow them to make inroads within a political group, which usually votes heavily Democratic.
There is little chance that the Republican controlled Congress will vote to lift the sanction, but President Obama could meet Iranian demands for sanctions relief by unilaterally waiving them during his tenure.
Sanctions relief is the primary reason for Iran to make the concessions on its nuclear program outlined in the framework agreement.  Iranian President Hassan Rouhani warned, that his country would "not sign any deal unless all economic sanctions are lifted on the same day of the implementation of the deal."
That is contrary to the framework provisions spelled out by international negotiators, and the Obama administration's statement that it would take at least six months to undo the sanctions after completing an agreement.
The White House has made its concerns about the Corker-Menendez legislation very clear in discussions with Democrats on Capitol Hill.  President Obama has warned that congressional action on the bill, known as the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, could disrupt the fragile negotiations still underway.
Maryland Democratic Senator Ben Cardin has replaced Senator Robert Menendez as the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee after Menendez was indicted on corruption charges.  Cardin has been among the bill's potential Democratic supporters trying to find a way to bridge the gap with the White House.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Don’t Forget

Don’t forget, fifteen of the nineteen perpetrator on 9/11, were Saudi Arabian Sunni Muslims.  None were Shiites from Iraq or Iran.  

Sixty percent of the people in Iraq were Shiites, and 20 percent were Sunni.  Removing Saddam Hussein was a victory for Iran, because his regime had kept the pro-Iranian Shiite majority repressed.  Iraq disintegrated into a Sunni-Shiite war that has spread instability throughout the region.

Prior to the Iraq invasion, Nancy Pelosi the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee and Democratic Senator Bob Graham the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee were briefed extensively on the intelligence leading up to the vote to give Bush the power to invade Iraq.  Nothing in that intelligence indicated that Iraq was an imminent threat to America.  Pelosi and Graham, who had the most intelligence at their disposal voted against the Iraq War Resolution.  Only one of the 22 Senators, that voted against that resolution was a Republican.

The Iraq War cost has reached $2 trillion, but an additional $2 trillion will be needed to care for our 32,000 casualties.  Our debt to the families of 4,400 troops that were killed will never be paid.

Chief UN arms inspector Hans Blix had insisted: “The White House maintained 100 percent certainty that the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction existed based on zero percent evidence.”

Legendary CIA field officer, Robert Baer pointed out: "The problem is the White House didn't go to the CIA and ask, tell me the truth, it said give me ammunition."

Baer concluded: “We’ve lost the ideological war, but we can normalize relations in the Middle East, by bringing Iran to the negotiating table, and implementing U.N. Security Council Resolution 242.  If Israel closes the settlements in the West Bank, they’ll find themselves in a position where they don’t have to bomb Gaza.

“The nuclear weapons is a red herring in this conflict with Iran, because the Iranians are not going to build and test a bomb, because there would be an international embargo and sanctions, which would cause Russia and China to back away.  A nuclear bomb is just a way to get us to the negotiating table...  If the Iranians wanted to commit suicide, they could have done it long ago by starting a war in the Gulf with the United States. And they’re not going to start a war with Israel either.”

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Surprising Offers

After 9/11, the U.S. and Iran worked together in Afghanistan to defeat the Taliban and rebuild the Afghan government.  The Iranians had been fighting the Taliban long before we were.  James Dobbins was Bush’s special envoy to Afghanistan and met with the Iranians several times a day.  In the fall of 2001, during our military campaign in Afghanistan, Iran cooperated on the ground providing vital information and worked alongside the U.S. to establish the government of Hamid Karzai.

Dobbins was surprise to learn that Iran was prepared to participate in a program to assist the creation of a new Afghan national army under U.S. leadership.  The Iranians were prepared to house, clothe, equip and train as many as 20,000 recruits as part of a broader American led effort.  They proposed that their army would collaborate with American leadership in a joint program to train the national Afghan army.

Another, surprising offer was that the Iranians wanted to expand that dialogue to other issues.  They were ready to discuss the Middle East peace process with the Palestinians. Bush’s special envoy, Dobbins and Hillary Mann the Iran and Afghanistan specialist at the National Security Council were amazed, when Bush announced in his State of the Union Address that Iran was part of the axis of evil.

In May of 2003, Iran suggested cooperating with the US on its nuclear program, stabilizing Iraq and helping with counter-terrorism throughout the Middle East, which implied recognition of Israel.  In exchange Iran asked for a security guarantee, which included a commitment to disavow all intentions of regime change, along with an abolishment of sanctions, and recognition of Iran’s legitimate security interests in the region.  The Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and former President Khatami were active in the drafting of the proposal.

After 9/11, the American people responded to fear by voting for Bush in 2004.  The Iranian people, also responded to the fear of being attacked by the most powerful military on earth by replacing their moderate President Khatami with a hard liner.  Both Bush and Ahmadinejad were bellicose hard liners, who couldn’t solve problems in a rational, and mutually beneficial manner.

Last year, in Mosul 30,000 Iraqi mostly Sunni troops turned and fled in the face of 800 ISIL fighters.  Last week, twenty thousand Iranian Shiite militiamen fought ISIL, and recapture Tikrit with the American air support.  Mosul is their next objective.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Hateful Discrimination

The Oneonta Star published the following letter to the editor, that John B. Webb of Cooperstown had submitted.

“Friday’s lead article about Messrs. Seward and Lopez being at odds over budget bills was disquieting for a number of reasons, not because they are at odds with each other, but because they are both at odds with so many voters.

“I refer specifically to Mr. Seward’s claim to have been involved in the blocking of a bill by Republicans that would give tuition assistance to undocumented immigrants.

“Evidence abounds regarding the plight of those immigrants, and in particular, their children whose illegal status is not their doing and who, in reality, would be the beneficiaries of this bill.  It is widely known but all too often little recognized that these young people work hard in school, just as their parents work hard to earn a living in this country.  They learn English, they excel in their classes, they have goals for success that, if achieved, would make them important contributors to this country’s prosperity.  As it stands, however, upon completion of high school, they are forced to abandon those goals, because they cannot afford to attend our public schools of higher education that are intended for all people.

“By their actions, Mr. Seward and his cronies, for all practical purposes, are intentionally thwarting the efforts of these young people to become educated and productive members of our society, indeed full-fledged citizens.  It is a case of outright and hateful discrimination.  To whom is Mr. Seward pandering on this issue?  Certainly not to well-informed economists, or educators, or to the vision of an America that we know and love.”

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Strict Limitations

President Obama pointed out: “This framework would cutoff every pathway that Iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon.  Iran will face strict limitations on its program, and Iran has also agreed to the most robust and intrusive inspections and transparency regime ever negotiated for any nuclear program in history.  So this deal is not based on trust, it’s based on unprecedented verification.

“Many key details will be finalized over the next three months, and nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed.  But here are the basic outlines of the deal that we are working to finalize.

“First, Iran will not be able to pursue a bomb using plutonium, because it will not develop weapons-grade plutonium.  The core of its reactor at Arak will be dismantled and replaced.  The spent fuel from that facility will be shipped out of Iran for the life of the reactor.  Iran will not build a new heavy-water reactor.  And Iran will not reprocess fuel from its existing reactors, ever.

“Second, this deal shuts down Iran’s path to a bomb using enriched uranium.  Iran has agreed that its installed centrifuges will be reduced by two- thirds.  Iran will no longer enrich uranium at its Fordow facility.  Iran will not enrich uranium with its advanced centrifuges for at least the next 10 years.  The vast majority of Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium will be neutralized.

“Today, estimates indicate that Iran is only two or three months away from potentially acquiring the raw materials that could be used for a single nuclear bomb.  Under this deal, Iran has agreed that it will not stockpile the materials needed to build a weapon, even if it violated the deal.

“For the next decade at least, Iran would be a minimum of a year away from acquiring enough material for a bomb.  And the strict limitations on Iran’s stockpile will last for 15 years.

“Third, this deal provides the best possible defense against Iran’s ability to pursue a nuclear weapon covertly -- that is in secret.  International inspectors will have unprecedented access not only to Iranian nuclear facilities, but to the entire supply chain that supports Iran’s nuclear program.  From uranium mills they provide the raw materials to the centrifuge production and storage facilities that support the program.

“If Iran cheats, the world will know it.  If we see something suspicious, we will inspect it.  Iran’s past efforts to weaponized this program will be addressed.”

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Resolving Threat Peacefully

International diplomats have announced they've come up with the framework for an agreement to reduce Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98% and significantly scale back its number of centrifuges.  In exchange, the world’s major powers at the negotiating table, the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, and China would lift sanctions that have crippled the country's economy.
For the United States and Iran, who are two countries with a long history of strained relations, the negotiations took on an added significance, because until two years ago, they hadn't talked with each other officially for nearly four decades.

President Obama insists: "It is a good deal, a deal that meets our core objectives.  This framework would cut off every pathway that Iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon.  If Iran cheats, the world will know it."

Obama noted: “So this will be a long-term deal that addresses each path to a potential Iranian nuclear bomb.  There will be strict limits on Iran’s program for a decade.  Additional restrictions on building new facilities or stockpiling materials will last for 15 years.  The unprecedented transparency measures will last for 20 years or more.  Indeed, some will be permanent.  And as a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran will never be permitted to develop a nuclear weapon.

“In return for Iran’s actions, the international community has agreed to provide Iran with relief from certain sanctions.  Our own sanctions, and international sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council.
“This relief will be faced as Iran takes steps to adhere to the deal.  If Iran violates the deal, sanctions can be snapped back into place.  Meanwhile, other American sanctions on Iran for its support of terrorism, its human rights abuses, its ballistic missile program, will continue to be fully enforced.

“Now, let me reemphasize, our work is not yet done.  The deal has not been signed.  Between now and the end of June, the negotiators will continue to work through the details of how this framework will be fully implemented and those details matter.

“If there is backsliding on the part of the Iranians, if the verification and inspection mechanisms don’t meet the specifications of our nuclear and security experts, there will be no deal.  But if we can get this done, and Iran follows through on the framework that our negotiators agreed to, we will be able to resolve one of the greatest threats to our security and to do so peacefully.”

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

Military Advantage

According to the New York Times, President Obama said, that he’s absolutely committed to making sure Israel maintains a military advantage over Iran.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is critical of the deal that the Obama administration and five other world powers made with Iran to halt that country's nuclear ambitions.  In exchange, Western powers would drop sanctions that have hurt the Iran's economy.
Obama insists: "But what I would say to them is that not only am I absolutely committed to making sure they maintain their qualitative military edge, and that they can deter any potential future attacks, but what I'm willing to do is to make the kinds of commitments that would give everybody in the neighborhood, including Iran, a clarity that if Israel were to be attacked by any state, that we would stand by them.
“That should be sufficient to take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see whether or not we can at least take the nuclear issue off the table."
The negotiated frame work would require Iran reduce its centrifuges from 19,000 to 5,060, thereby limiting the extent to which uranium necessary for nuclear weapons could be enriched.  The talks over a final draft are scheduled to continue until June 30.
Netanyahu and Republican critics in Congress have complained that Iran won't have to shut down its nuclear facilities and that the country's leadership isn't trustworthy enough for the inspections to be as valuable as Obama says they are.
Obama pointed out: "In fact, you could argue that if they are implacably opposed to us, all the more reason for us to want to have a deal in which we know what they're doing and that, for a long period of time, we can prevent them from having a nuclear weapon."

Monday, April 06, 2015

Historic Understanding

President Obama provided the following information regarding the deal, he’s attempting to make with Iran.
“This week, together with our allies and partners, we reached an historic understanding with Iran, which, if fully implemented, will prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon and make our country, our allies, and our world safer.
“This framework is the result of tough, principled diplomacy.  It’s a good deal, that meets our core objectives, including strict limitations on Iran’s program and cutting off every pathway that Iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon.
“This deal denies Iran the plutonium necessary to build a bomb.  It shuts down Iran’s path to a bomb using enriched uranium.  Iran has agreed that it will not stockpile the materials needed to build a weapon.  Moreover, international inspectors will have unprecedented access to Iran’s nuclear program because Iran will face more inspections than any other country in the world.  If Iran cheats, the world will know it.  If we see something suspicious, we will inspect it.  So this deal is not based on trust, it’s based on unprecedented verification.
“And this is a long-term deal, with strict limits on Iran’s program for more than a decade and unprecedented transparency measures that will last for 20 years or more.  And as a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran will never be permitted to develop a nuclear weapon.
“In return for Iran’s actions, the international community, including the United States, has agreed to provide Iran with phased relief from certain sanctions.  If Iran violates the deal, sanctions can be snapped back into place.  Meanwhile, other American sanctions on Iran for its support of terrorism, its human rights abuses, its ballistic missile program, all will continue to be enforced.
“As I said this week, many key details will need to be finalized over the next three months, and nothing is agreed to until everything is agreed.  And if there is backsliding, there will be no deal.
“Here in the United States, I expect a robust debate.  We’ll keep Congress and the American people fully briefed on the substance of the deal.  As we engage in this debate, let’s remember—we really only have three options for dealing with Iran’s nuclear program: bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities—which will only set its program back a few years—while starting another war in the Middle East; abandoning negotiations and hoping for the best with sanctions—even though that’s always led to Iran making more progress in its nuclear program; or a robust and verifiable deal like this one that peacefully prevents Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.
“As President and Commander in Chief, I firmly believe that the diplomatic option—a comprehensive, long-term deal like this—is by far the best option.  For the United States.  For our allies.  And for the world.
“Our work -- this deal -- is not yet done.  Diplomacy is painstaking work.  Success is not guaranteed.  But today we have an historic opportunity to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons in Iran, and to do so peacefully, with the international community firmly behind us.  And this will be our work in the days and months ahead in keeping with the best traditions of American leadership.”

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Framing an Agreement

International diplomats have announced they've come up with the framework for an agreement to reduce Iran’s stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98% and significantly scale back its number of centrifuges.  In exchange, the world’s major powers at the negotiating table, the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, and China would lift sanctions that have crippled the country's economy.
President Obama announced:  "It is a good deal, a deal that meets our core objectives.  This framework would cut off every pathway that Iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon.  If Iran cheats, the world will know it."  

Iranian state television broadcast Obama's speech live, something many Iranians described as unprecedented.

For the United States and Iran, who are two countries with a long history of strained relations, the negotiations took on an added significance, because until two years ago, they hadn't talked with each other officially for nearly four decades.

Secretary of State Kerry reported: "I think there was a seriousness of purpose.  People negotiated hard.  It was tough, very intense at times, sometimes emotional and confrontational.  It was a very intensive process, because the stakes are very high, and because there is a long history of not talking to each other.  For 35 years, we haven't talked with the Iranians directly like this."

Kerry emphasized: "And if we find out at any point that Iran is not complying with the agreement, the sanctions can snap back into place.”  If a final deal is reached with Iran, the removal of any sanctions against Tehran will come in phases.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif noted that "mutual mistrust" had been a serious problem in the talks.

A Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear program will be written between now and June 30.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Religious Freedom Laws

Gov. Mike Pence has pledged to "fix" Indiana's controversial religious freedom law, so that it doesn’t allow discrimination against gays and lesbians.
He is responding to the significant backlash Indiana has faced since he signed the law, which his supporters claimed would allow businesses to turn away LGBT customers.
Pence is responding to intense criticism from major corporations like Apple, Walmart and tech giant Salesforce against Indiana's law and similar measures advancing in at least a dozen other states this year.  The NCAA, which is set to host its men's basketball Final Four in Indianapolis, announced it’s considering moving the events elsewhere in the future.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest insists, that Pence has tried to "falsely suggest" that Indiana's law simply mirrors a federal religious freedom law signed by President Bill Clinton.
He also noted: "We see business leaders saying that they are reluctant to do business in a state where their customers or even their employees could be subjected to greater discrimination just because of who they love."
"That's not fair.  It's not consistent with our values as a country that we hold dear.  And I think that's what has provoked the strong outcry, and I think it's what has provoked the previously defiant governor to consider a position of changing the law."
A year ago, Indiana Republicans introduced a proposal to amend the state's constitution to ban same-sex marriage.  Governor Pence has repeatedly insisted that the law was never intended to allow discrimination against anyone, however in its original form, the law could be used as a legal defense to discriminate against someone on the basis of sexual orientation.
Initially, Pence got some backup from potential 2016 presidential contenders Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, Bobby Jindal and Ted Cruz, who rushed to defend the Indiana law.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Mike Pence

Signing Indiana’s controversial religious freedom law wasn’t the first miscalculation that Mike Pence has made.

On 1/29/10, President Obama accepted an invitation from Congressman Pence to address the Republican House retreat in Baltimore.

Pence asked: “Now last year, about the time you met with us, unemployment was 7.5 percent in this country.  Your administration and your party in Congress told us that we’d have to borrow more than $7.5 billion to pay for a so-called stimulus bill.  It was a piecemeal list of projects and boutique tax cuts.  All of which had to be passed or unemployment would go to 8 percent, as your administration said.  Well, unemployment is 10 percent now, as you well know.”

President Obama pointed out that when he was sworn in, everyone was hoping, that unemployment would remain in the 8 percent range.  That number was based on the estimates made by both conservative and liberal economists because at that point, all of the data wasn’t in.

America lost 650,000 jobs in December 2008.  Surely, Republicans couldn’t hold Obama’s policies for those lost jobs.  An additional 700,000 jobs were lost in January, the month Obama was sworn in.  He shouldn’t be held accountable, for those lost jobs, because he was in office for only a week.  On February 13th, the Recovery Act was passed by Congress and the 650,000 jobs lost in that month wasn’t a consequence of Obama’s policies.  In fact, the job losses from that recession prove to be much more severe in the first quarter of 2009, than anybody had anticipated.

Obama informed Rep. Pence: “I think we can score political points on the basis of the fact that we underestimated how severe the job losses were going to be.  But those job losses took place before any stimulus, whether it was the ones you guys proposed or the ones we proposed, could ever have taken into effect.”

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Mary L. Moubray

The Oneonta Daily Star recently published the following letter that was submitted by Mary L. Moubray. 

“Good heavens!  I cannot believe that here we are in the year 2015 and we’re still being subjected to people’s ignorant rants about homosexuality!  I am referring to Jerry Kabat’s opinion in your paper on March 26.

“Does he even know Jim Koury?  I am guessing not, due to the horrible things he said about such a wonderful human being as Jim.  And how in the world can anyone compare smoking to homosexuality?  When did someone appoint Jerry Kabat to be God?  My religion has taught me that only God has the right to judge and condemn. How about living in the New Testament and abiding by the teachings of Jesus, with love and peace and leave the judging to God?  ‘He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone.’ John 8:7”


About 20 years ago, I realized that there wasn’t a logical reason to oppose same sex marriage, and began to suspect that some places of worship contribute to higher rates of suicide among gay and lesbian youth.  After 50 years of marriage, I’ve concluded that it would be terribly unfair to deny the benefits and happiness that marriage can provide to those of a different sexual orientation.

Versions of golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you,” is shared by 21 world religions.  This rule is also referred to as the ethic of reciprocity and is arguably the most essential basis for the modern concept of human rights.

Robert Reich wrote: “The greatest conflict of the 21st century is between; those who believe in science, reason and logic and those who believe that truth is revealed through scripture and religious dogma.”

The truth revealed through scripture is subjective truth predicated by one’s faith.  By definition faith is belief in God, and in the doctrines and teachings of religion.  Faith is the antithesis of skepticism, distrust and objective truth.  I’ve become distrustful of most religions, because they stifle freedom of thought, and blind the righteous to the role faith plays in perpetuating human conflict.

Religious zealots have claimed our Constitution was divinely inspired.  In fact, our  founding fathers signed a Constitution that allowed only white, male, literate, land owners to vote.