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Items filtered by date: Thursday, 07 November 2019

When preparing the 2016 Democratic Party platform, the drafting committee promised: "We will do everything we can to protect religious minorities and the fundamental right of freedom to worship and believe."

But in the final text, Democrats substituted a broader term -- "freedom of religion." After all, critics of Hillary Rodham Clinton were attacking her occasional references to "freedom of worship," as opposed to the First Amendment's defense of the "free exercise" of religion.

"Freedom of worship" suggested that religious doctrines and traditions were acceptable, as long as believers remained inside their sanctuaries. "Freedom of religion" language would have implications for evangelists, educators, artists, doctors, soldiers, business leaders, social activists, counselors and other citizens in public life.

Thus, gadfly candidate Beto O'Rourke stepped into a minefield when he answered this question during a CNN town hall on LGBTQ issues: "Do you think religious institutions -- like colleges, churches, charities -- should lose their tax-exempt status if they oppose same-sex marriage?"

O'Rourke drew cheers and applause with his quick response: "Yes. There can be no reward, no benefit, no tax break, for anyone or any institution, any organization in America, that denies the full human rights and the full civil rights of every single one of us." As president, he added, he would "stop those who are infringing upon the human rights of our fellow Americans."

This stance would draw a different response from many other Democrats.

"Journalists should ask O'Rourke and every other Democratic candidate how this policy position would affect conservative black churches, mosques and other Islamic organizations, and orthodox Jewish communities, among others," argued law professor John Inazu of Washington University in St. Louis, writing for The Atlantic. "It is difficult to understand how Democratic candidates can be 'for' these communities -- advocating tolerance along the way -- if they are actively lobbying to put them out of business."

Meanwhile, this O'Rourke statement will remind religious leaders of the U.S. Supreme Court's Obergefell v. Hodges decision affirming same-sex marriage. During oral arguments, Inazu noted, a representative of the Obama administration admitted "the tax-exempt status of Christian colleges and universities who hold traditional views of marriage was 'going to be an issue.'"

Everyone knows "Democrats are not likely to lose the votes of black Christians and Latino Catholics and Muslims, since the Trump administration is making no real efforts to reach out to them," said Inazu in an interview. "What is more important is what other Democrats say when responding to O'Rourke."

Appearing on CNN, Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, warned that O'Rourke's stance would mean "going to war with not only churches, but also mosques and organizations that don't have the same view of religious principles as I do." The openly gay Episcopalian added: "If we want to talk about anti-discrimination law for a school or an organization, absolutely they should not be able to discriminate."

Front-runner Elizabeth Warren's press office also rejected O'Rourke's remarks, in statements to several news organizations.
So far, responses from other Democrats "will not be of much comfort to the many Americans who are concerned about religious liberty issues at this time," said Inazu. "O'Rourke may have offered a far-left stance that others will reject, but other Democrats are offering a familiar left-of-center stance."

After all, in its recent resolution praising "religiously unaffiliated Americans," the Democratic National Committee rejected threats from religious conservatives based on "misplaced claims of 'religious liberty.'" That text also said "the religiously unaffiliated demographic represents the largest religious group within the Democratic Party, growing from 19% in 2007 to 1 in 3 today."

The primaries are just ahead, and everyone knows candidates say wild things while appealing to niche voters, noted David French, a Harvard Law School-trained religious liberty specialist. He is senior editor at TheDispatch.com, a new website appealing to #NeverTrump conservatives.

"Right now, Democrats have to focus on all those white, secular, online progressives ... who are extremely hostile to small-o orthodox religion," he said, reached by telephone. But party leaders also know they "have in their coalition the least religious and the most religious cohorts in American life. ...

"There is that coalition of woke Democrats, but there are also millions of African American churchgoers. ... That's an issue Democrats will have to deal with sooner or later."

Terry Mattingly

Published in Politics
Friday, 08 November 2019 17:46

Guest Editorial: Impeach Him! Heck Yes!

I have a degree in Political Science, and I am a card-carrying Libertarian. I've been studying politics and political history for the past 30 years. My specialty is U.S. Presidents.
That said, I hope that the House of Representatives impeaches Trump. Let me tell you what will happen next!

1. The House can pass articles of impeachment over the objections of the Republicans and refer to the Senate for trial.

2. The Senate will conduct a trial. There will be a vote, and the Republicans will vote unanimously, along with a small number of Democrats, to not convict the President. Legally, it will all be over at that point.

3. However, during the trial, and this is what no one is thinking about right now, the President's attorneys will have the right to subpoena and
question ANYONE THEY WANT!

That is different than the special counsel investigation, which was very one-sided. So, during the impeachment trial, we will be hearing testimony from James Comey, Peter Strzok, Lisa Page, Bruce Ohr, Glenn Simpson, Donna Brazille, Eric Holder, Loretta Lynch, Christopher Steele, Hillary Clinton, John Brennan, James Clapper, and a whole host of other participants in this whole sordid affair and the ensuing coverup activities.

A lot of dirt will be dug up; a lot of truth will be unveiled. Finger pointing will occur. Deals will start being made, and suddenly, a lot of democrats will start being charged and going to prison. All this, because, remember, the President's team will now, for the first time, have the RIGHT to question all of these people under oath – and they will turn on each other. That is already starting.

4. Lastly, one more thing will happen, the Senate will not convict the President. Nothing will happen to Trump. Most Americans are clueless about political processes, the law, and the Constitution. Most Americans believe that being impeached results in removal from office. They don't understand that phase 2 is a trial in and by the Senate, where he has zero chance of conviction. Remember, the Senate is controlled by Republicans; they will determine what testimony is allowed -- and *everything* will be allowed, including: DNC collusion with the Clinton campaign to fix the election in favor of Hillary, the creation of the Trump dossier, the cover up and destruction of emails that very likely included incriminating information.
They will incriminate each other for lying to the FISA court, for spying and wiretapping the Trump campaign, and for colluding with foreign political actors, especially George Soros.
After the Senate declines to convict the President, we will have an election, and Trump will win. It will be a backlash against democrat petulance, temper tantrums, hypocrisy and dishonesty.
Even minorities will vote for Trump, because, for the first time, they will see that democrats have spent 2+ years focused on maintaining their own power, and not doing anything at all about black murders in Chicago, homelessness, opioids, and other important issues that are actually killing people.
And, we will spend the following four years listening to politicians and pundits claim that the whole impeachment was rigged.

So let's move on to impeachment.

Hyram F. Suddfluffel, PhD,
(Political Science)

Published in Sun Bay Editorials

Planning an accessible family vacation doesn’t have to mean sacrificing fun or your family’s budget. There are so many easy ways to save money while traveling with a family, and so many accessible options to make traveling with children who have special needs less stressful. So before you begin booking flights or searching for hotel rooms, think about using these budget-friendly tips to plan a stress-free vacation for your family.

Save Stress and Money By Renting a Vacation Home

Planning a staycation can be just as enjoyable and saves you more money than traveling out of state. Vacation rentals in Fort Myers can get you close to fun local attractions while providing many of the comforts of your own home. If you have baseball fans in your family, vacation rental homes near San Carlos Lakes or San Carlos Park will be your best bet, so you can have easy access to spring training fields for either the Boston Red Sox or the Minnesota Twins. Having the extra comforts of a vacation home can help all children feel more relaxed, but children with special needs can especially benefit from that home-like structure when dealing with the additional stresses of vacationing. Plus, if you are trying to save money, access to a kitchen will allow you to prepare budget-friendly meals, too.

Pack Daily Essentials to Avoid Any Added Expenses

Unexpected purchases, such as bottles of sunscreen or extra clothing, can put a damper on your vacation budget. To avoid the time, hassle, and expense of those extra shopping trips, parents should put together a packing list to make sure they have everything they need to keep little ones happy and healthy. For toddlers and babies, this means bringing a bag or backpack full of daily essentials, such as diapers, medicines, and perhaps even a change of clothing for each child and each adult. To make carrying all of these supplies more simple and stylish, think about picking up a cute diaper bag that you won’t mind carrying as your children get older. That way you will always be prepared with snacks and anything else your family needs during vacation activities, without racking up additional budget expenses.

Cut Costs When Shopping for Travel-Friendly Snacks

Every parent knows that bringing your own snacks and food on vacation can help save some serious money. With access to a kitchen in your vacation home, you can prepare healthy, low-cost meals, and you can use grocery-saving tips to keep those food costs even lower. Write out a vacation meal plan, include any special diet needs for your children, and be sure to stick to the items on your shopping list so you can stick to your travel budget. When filling those diaper bags and backpacks with snacks, look for healthy options that will satisfy the pickiest of eaters. Snack bars and pita chips are perfect for preventing hunger-related meltdowns and can easily fit into any family budget. If you do plan on dining out with your family during your travels, consider sharing your meals to save on costs.

Look for Accessible Family Fun That’s Also Affordable

Planning a vacation when your child has special needs can take some extra effort, especially when it comes to planning family-friendly activities. Providing your child with a quiet space to relax in after exciting vacation activities can definitely help, but if you need additional advice you can reach out to a special needs family vacation planning organization, such as Autism on the Sea, to book accessible family fun. If you are planning on staying in Florida, you are also in luck when it comes to finding accessible vacation activities and attractions. From coast to coast, there are countless parks and attractions with activities for children with special needs.

With a little patience and planning, you won’t have to stress out about taking a vacation with your children. For families that include children with special needs, finding budget-friendly travel options can be as simple as doing online searches to find special discounts and accomodations. Planning ahead of time will allow you to focus on having fun on your next family trip

Published in Outdoor

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