OCTOBER MEETING CANCELLED FOR PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE
OLE ANTHONY TALKS ABOUT EVANGELICALS NOVEMBER 10
WINTER SOLSTICE DINNER ON DECEMBER 8
PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE PREEMPTS OCTOBER MEETING
When we rescheduled our meeting date a couple of months ago, we forgot to take note of the Presidential debates. As October 13 approached, regrets were phoned to us by those who wanted to hear and see the third and last Bush/Kerry debate. Faced with the possibility of a minimal turnout, we tried to inform everyone that the political debate had taken precedence to our program of “How I became a Humanist.” We trust no one was inconvenienced by the cancellation. Future meetings will definitely take place on the second Wednesday of the month.
Effective reform requires accountability. It is a sad story. High hopes, low achievement. Grand
plans, unmet goals. My administration will do things differently.
--George W. Bush,
Were the presidential debates worth the 4 l/2 hours invested in them by those of us who watched all three? My own opinion is a qualified yes. They were hard-hitting; they most assuredly raised the temperature of the campaign; they almost certainly roused partisans of each camp to put more effort into getting out the vote. On substance, am I being overly critical or too generous in giving them an overall rating of “C”?
It seems to me that rhetorical flourishes were more often evidenced by the candidates than a willingness to discuss the most important issues to be confronted over the next quadrennium. It was not altogether the candidates’ fault. The questions, I thought, could have been formulated better and follow-up questions should have been more frequently asked when a candidate was being evasive. Among the issues that were totally elided or only skimpily addressed were:
million people have been displaced from their homes and tens of thousands slain
in the ethnic cleansing underway in the
the Iraqi mess Bush offered only more of the same and Kerry claimed that he
would get our European friends and the U.N. involved. Nobody except the Neocons, Bush and his coterie of followers believes the
current strategy is working to bring about an orderly and democratic
--Why was the debate of the Patriot Act and other infringements of our rights so parsimonious? Is the electorate so single-minded on the need to curb the terrorist threat that our freedoms have become small change?
--Neither candidate, in my opinion, dealt honestly with the looming fiscal crisis. Bush promised to halve the current $413 billion budget deficit without new taxes and without substantial cuts in existing programs but rather relying on higher GDP growth to provide the additional revenues. Unrealistic, says the Congressional Budget Office, which estimates a $4 trillion deficit over the next ten years even with a higher average yearly growth rate than experienced over the past four years. As for the estimated $2 trillion deficit that would be opened in the Social Security trust fund by his proposal to divert a percentage of current payments to personal investment accounts, Bush had nothing at all to say. Kerry, by contrast, promised to revoke the tax reduction given to persons earning more than $200,000 a year. (That of course would depend on a Congress that, on current estimates, is likely to remain Republican dominated.) Few economists seem to believe that even so this would suffice to pay for his more generous health care plans and at the same time reduce the deficit by half by the end of the next presidential term.
--Both candidates expressed support for more training programs for workers with jobs sent abroad and Kerry was almost resoundingly protectionist when he threatened to “level the playing field” by taxing multinational corporations at higher rates and penalizing outsourcing—a nod to the trade restrictionists in the Democratic party but, in my opinion, not a sincere commitment to doing anything terribly effective.
--The environment figured only in a minor way in the debates. Since the environmentalist vote is pretty much in Kerry’s pocket there was little incentive, presumably, for him to stir the pot (for many industrial workers protecting the environment comes at the expense of jobs) and Bush was not eager to dwell on his sorry record.
--Gun control got scant attention. Kerry mentioned his support for extending controls on the sales of assault weapons. Bush pretty well skipped the issue. Let’s hope for better luck four years hence!
We will meet on November 20, the
second Wednesday of the month, at
Ole’s Trinity Foundation consists of 400 Christians, 100 of
whom live communally in a rundown section of
hear what Ole has been up to lately. There
are plenty of hoaxers out there to have kept him busy.
go to www.trinityfi.org/press/latimes01.html) Incidentally, the New
Yorker recently featured a piece on a Prosperity Gospel evangelist
Our pre-meeting dinner will held at Johnny Carino’s Italian Restaurant at 5900 South Hulen (right hand side going south) across the street from Luby’s. Dinner time:
Our annual Winter Solstice dinner will be held on December 8 at the West Side Unitarian Universalist Church. For more details see the December Newsletter.
REMINDER: Please remember to bring a can of food for the needy.
BOARD MEETING: Our quarterly meeting will be held immediately after the speaker’s presentation.
YOUR OFFICERS AND HOW TO REACH THEM
Chairman: Don Ruhs,
Vice Chair & Newsletter Editor: Jim Cheatham, 1582 CR 2730, Glen Rose 76043; 254-797-0277; firstname.lastname@example.org
Treasurer: Dolores Ruhs (address same as Don Ruhs)
Immediate Past Chair & Webmaster:
DEATH PENALTY WEIGHED FOR TEEN-AGE MURDERERS
Supreme Court on October 13 debated the morality and propriety of states’
executing murderers who killed at age 16 or 17—a punishment that is carried out
in few places outside the
TOO IMMATURE FOR THE DEATH PENALTY?
1993 a 17-year old
of terrorism suspects continue to be unjustly held at
ILLEGALLY TRANSFERRED OUT OF
the CIA’s request, the Justice Department drafted a confidential memo that
authorizes the agency to transfer detainees out of
GOP GROUP CHALLENGES ‘DON’T ASK, DON’T TELL’
national organization of gay Republicans filed suit in federal court in
BRAZILIAN ACTIVISTS DECRY ABORTION RULING
health-care providers and government-sector unions in
U.N. PANEL DEBATES CLONING TREATY
U.N. has begun debating two drafts of a cloning treaty:
One would ban all human cloning, the other cloning of babies but
allowing embryo research.
CIVIL RIGHTS PANEL’S DRAFT CRITICIZES BUSH
A draft prepared by the staff of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and circulated on the internet asserts President Bush “has neither exhibited leadership on pressing civil rights issues nor taken actions that matched his words.” Bush is criticized for civil rights failures in education, voting, gay and lesbian issues, affirmative action, housing, environmental justice, racial profiling and hate crimes. It concludes by saying, “Failing to build on common ground, the Bush administration missed opportunities to build consensus on key civil rights issues and has instead adopted policies that divide Americans.” Needless to add, the final report will be much more muted. (NYT)
EX-PHARMACIST SAYS HE DIDN’T WANT TO SIN
A former Wisconsin pharmacist claims that he refused to fill a college student’s prescription for birth-control pills or transfer it to another pharmacy because he did not want to sin. The state Department of Regulation and Licensing accuses the Pharmacist, Neil Noesen, of unprofessional conduct for not transferring the prescription. His attorney claimed any disciplinary action would violate his 1st Amendment rights.(AP)
CHURCH AND STATE
TAKE TWO TABLETS…
did Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott take up the mantra of deposed Alabama
Judge Roy Moore? At a
recent news conference discussing the U.S. Supreme Court’s plan to decide a
dispute over displaying the Ten Commandments at the Texas Capitol, Abbott
engaged in thoroughly misleading and irresponsible hyperbole about the
potential effect of the justices’ ruling “I hope and believe the United States Supreme
Court is not going to force agnosticism upon the people of this state and this
country,” Abbott said. …He
absolutely knows that the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits
the Supreme Court from imposing either religion or non-religion on the populace. He absolutely knows that, regardless
of which way the high court goes on the
NONPROFITS UNDER SCRUTINY BY IRS
About 60 charities, churches and other tax-exempt groups are being investigated for possibly breaking federal rules that bar them from participating in political activity, the IRS said October 29. Such violation would threaten their tax-exempt status, the IRS said. The IRS committee set up to look into possible violations by tax-exempt groups has found 60 cases that merit scrutiny. The disclosure from the IRS came a day after Julian Bond, chairman of the NAACP, said the IRS was investigating his group after he criticized President Bush in his July 11 keynote to the NAACP’s annual convention. An IRS “fact sheet” notes: “Even activities that encourage people to vote for or against a particular candidate on the basis of nonpartisan criteria violate the political campaign prohibition.” (AP)
FALWELL CAMPAIGNS FOR BUSH AT SBTC
LABOR DEPARTMNET FUNDS MORE FAITH
U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao announced in late August she was making $5,808,823 in grants to Workforce Investment Boards to partnership with local “faith-based and community organizations.” The Labor Department press release said: “The grants will enable local faith-based and community organizations to cultivate long-term partnerships with the public workforce system to help disadvantaged individuals—including limited English-speaking workers—to enter, succeed and thrive in the workplace.” (Freethought Today)
CATHOLICS FUNDED TO PREACH ABSTINENCE
President Bush has granted $2.4 million to a program of the Catholic Diocese of Orlando—which has had trouble with its own unabstemious priests—to preach abstinence to area teens. “ThinkSmart” will receive funding over the next three years from the Department of Health and Human Services The grant money will be used to start after-school clubs, dubbed Students Today Aren’t Ready for Sex.” (Freethought Today)
SUIT AGAINST RELIGIOUS DOMINATION OF DIRECTTV
A complaint has been filed with
the FCC on behalf of the Secular Coalition for
RELIGION IN THE NEWS
DIOCESE AGREES TO PAY $9 MILLION SETTLEMENT
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Davenport agreed to pay $9 million October 28 to settle 37 claims of sexual abuse by priests. The settlement averts a potentially embarrassing series of trials over the church’s handling of abuse claims dating back 50 years or so. (AP)
FORMER MINISTER ADMITS TO MOLESTING DAUGHTERS
former minister has been sentenced to 36 years in prison following disclosure
of his behavior by his adult daughters on The
Oprah Winfrey Show. The
CHURCH REPORT URGES APOLOGY FOR GAY BISHOP
Anglican report issued October 18 urges Episcopal Church leaders to apologize
for consecrating openly gay V. Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire last
November. In response, the
Anglican church assembled the Lambeth
Commission to find a way to reconcile the division in the church’s leadership. Fort Worth Bishop Jack Iker said the report’s findings show a way forward for the
2.3 million- member
AN AFRICAN THEOLOGY FOR AFRICAN ANGLICANS
Anglican bishops say they are considering establishing a theology that conforms
to the continent’s culture, including prevailing beliefs against same-sex
unions. The bishops
will weigh proposals to build new theology institutions to train its priests in
theology consistent with African culture, according to Nigerian Archbishop
TOP OF THE NEWS
SINCLAIR SHOWS ONLY PART OF ANTI-KERRY FILM
mounting political, legal and financial pressure, Sinclair Broadcast Group
backed away from its plan to broadcast a film attacking Kerry’s
CHARITIES PROTEST GUIDELINES SET AFTER 9-11
Government guidelines put in place after the 9-11 attacks to stop the funding of terrorists are threatening legitimate philanthropic and humanitarian efforts worldwide, claims the Washington-based Council on Foundations representing more than 2,000 foundations, charities and corporate grant makers. “These unrealistic, impractical, costly and potentially dangerous guidelines, while technically voluntary, are nevertheless having a chilling effect on non-governmental international activities,” wrote Rob Buchanan, who directs the council’s international programs. (AP)
WEALTH GAP BETWEEN MINORITIES AND ANGLOS GROWS
enormous wealth gap between Anglo families and African-Americans and Hispanics
grew larger after the most recent recession, a private analysis of government
data finds. Anglo households had
a median net worth greater than $88,000 in 2002, 11 times more than Hispanics
and more than 14 times that of African-Americans, the
ACCESS TO MORNING-AFTER PILL STIRS DEBATE
year, the FDA denied one drug company’s request to
sell its brand of emergency contraception to anyone.
Now Barr Pharmaceuticals has submitted a second proposal—to sell its
Plan B brand to people 16 and older but to require anyone younger than that to
consult a physician. The company
said it expects a FDA decision next year.
Over-the-counter sales have received support from the
HARVARD TEAMS TO PURSUE CLONING
separate teams of Harvard scientists are preparing to produce cloned embryos
for disease research. If granted
permission by the university’s ethical review board, the Harvard scientists
would be the first to clone human cells in the
APPROVED STEM CELLS’ POTENTIAL QUESTIONED
All of the human embryonic stem cells available to federally funded scientists under President Bush’s three year-old research program share a previously unrecognized trait that fosters rejection by the immune system and diminish their potential as medical treatments, new research indicates. A second study has concluded that at least a quarter of the Bush-approved cell colonies are so difficult to keep alive, they have little potential even as research tools. “This study appears to point out yet another flaw with the President’s policy”, said Sean Tipton of the Coalition for the Advancement of Medical Research. “It means that cells are unlikely to be useful for medical purposes. Richard Doerflinger of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops retorted that the new finding could not justify expanding the research arena. “It’s throwing good money after bad, but here the cost is not in money but in nascent lives.” (WP)
ENVIRONMENT IN THE NEWS
Politicians will not make the right environmental decisions from the top—like being tougher about
the cars on the road—until they know that more than 50 percent of their constituency will back
them, so it does come back to you and me. Native Americans used to make decisions based on
how it would affect seven generations ahead. How many of these politicians who vote against
environmental protection are thinking of their children? Their grandchildren? Either they are
stupid or they do not care about their children.
AMPHIBIAN SPECIES VANISHING
Amphibians are rapidly becoming threatened worldwide, a new study of the world Conservation Union shows. “What we’re seeing here is completely unprecedented declines and extinctions,” said Simon N. Stuart, lead researcher of the study. “Where amphibians proceed, others may follow, possibly us also.” The researchers reported that 1,856 species, 32.5 percent of the known species of amphibians, are “globally threatened,” meaning they fall into the international Union for the Conservation of Nature’s categories of vulnerable endangered or critically endangered. By comparison, 12 percent of bird species and 23 percent of mammal species are threatened. (AP)
BIG ARCTIC PERILS SEEN IN GLOBAL WARMING
four-year study of warming in the Arctic shows that heat-trapping gases from tailpipes
and smokestacks around the world are contributing to profound environmental
changes, including sharp retreats of glaciers and sea ice, thawing of
permafrost and shifts in the weather, the oceans and the atmosphere. The study commissioned by eight nations
with Arctic territories, including the
NASA ENVIRONMENTAL EXPERT CRITICIZES BUSH ON GLOBAL WARMING
A top NASA climate expert who twice briefed Vice President Chaney on global warming has criticized the administration’s approach to the issue and has said that a senior administration official told him last year not to discuss dangerous consequences of rising temperatures. The expert, Dr. James E. Hansen, Director of the Goddard Institute of SpaceStudies, says the Bush administration has ignored growing evidence that sea levels could rise significantly unless prompt action is taken to reduce heat-trapping emissions from smokestacks and tailpipes. He claims that President Bush’s climate policy, which puts off imposing binding cuts in such emissions until 2012, was likely to be too little too late. “Delay of another decade is a colossal risk.” (NYT)
Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib. By
this book Seymour Hersh, a thorn in the side of U.S.
governments for three decades, has blended articles he wrote for the New Yorker with new material to render a
stinging indictment of the Bush administration’s detention policies at Abu Ghraib,
Guantanamo and elsewhere
Although his information is based on anonymous sources, almost all is
attributed to an individual whom he describes by position or experience in some
way. As can be inferred
from the numbers of former generals and admirals openly backing Kerry for
president, the top echelon of the
interrogations of prisoners at
Before all this became public, repeated complaints about what was happening were made to senior administration officials by the International Red Cross, human rights groups, a number of CIA and military officers, and even by a group of Pentagon lawyers. When photographs and videos of the torture at Abu Ghraib fell into the hands of Mr. Hersh and an American television station last April, Mr. Rumsfeld first brushed the issue aside, then professed himself shocked. Mr. Bush denied all knowledge and blamed some bad apples.
investigations have been launched. None
has blamed any senior official.
Asked about the clear evidence of widespread torture, Mr. Bush said
“the instructions went out to our people to adhere to the law.”
He later declared that “freedom from torture is an inalienable human
right” and the
It is this brazenness which amazes Mr. Hersh, a man who has spent a lifetime exposing the deceptions of politicians. And yet even for such a veteran reporter, there is something puzzling, even terrifying, about Mr. Bush. When he denies, or just ignores, a fact, is he lying, or does he simply say whatever he finds convenient, and then comes to believe it? Mr. Hersh asks the question, but he cannot answer it. (Economist magazine)