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Electing the Unelectable


As I sit here writing about the election in the USA, I know that it is not going to turn out well.

It may seem that I feel hopeless, or depressed, but I’m not. The people of the United States have chosen and as we learn more about the candidates they sink lower in our estimation. That is, both the candidates and the people who inexplicably chose them.

Is anyone really surprised at this? Not many people who I know are surprised. I know many African-Americans who have never felt America was safe for them. I know many Muslims who have lived here a long time, but have never seen the inside of their American neighbors’ home. I know Christians who feel we are “brainwashed” when we talk about many Muslims being good people, who feel that refugees and immigrants are at least taking their jobs and that most will be admitted to the country with no screening.

My friends here in the States seem angry and unwilling to listen to reason or experience different from the voices of pundits who seem to control their thoughts by way of the airways.

So, what will be the outcome of the Election 2016? It would be a start if both candidates humbly sought forgiveness for their wrongdoing from the American people, and settled down to learn how to govern with transparency. This would be one of those miracles we pray for!

But, even the people who begin to govern with bright hope seem to finish in a quagmire of disillusionment. Maybe having no expectations is better than having high expectations like we did when Obama was elected.

Ending on a note of hope!

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election,_2016

 

 

 

 

New York Jews Blast De Blasio Over AIPAC Speech


The Third Way

A group of prominent Jewish leaders in New York have sent a letter to the city’s new mayor, Bill De Blasio sharply criticizing him for the fawning and kowtowing speech he secretly made to AIPAC. It’s short and to the point–AIPAC doesn’t speak for these Jews and, I’ll add, AIPAC doesn’t speak for most Jews or Israelis. It’s high time these people, who are not only causing immense harm to Palestinians but are also determined to lead Israelis over a cliff and US Jews to the end of the era of our history most free of anti-Semitism were confronted in no uncertain terms. They have money and hate, and nothing else. They represent no one but themselves.

Here is the letter:

View original post 302 more words

The Hazards of Speaking Up for Palestine


Security Barrier between Israel and West Bank/...

Security Barrier between Israel and West Bank/Palestine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve told my story before, how I grew up unreservedly Christian in the United States and accepted the importance of Israel in our (Christian) lineage and prophecy.

When I met a Nazi prison camp survivor during my college years, I was overcome with emotion. He was sitting across from me at a “dish-to-pass” we held each week at the Messianic congregation I attended in Philadelphia.

These were the years when the JDL (Jewish Defense League) was threatening to attack Messianic congregations in Philadelphia. Each Sunday, as we worshiped in our little storefront building on Chestnut Street, danger was palpable.  Heads would cautiously turn towards the front door each time it opened during the sermon, wondering what to expect.

I counted it a privilege and honor to be a part of my Jewish friends’ suffering for their rights to worship as they wished.

For years, I never questioned my high view of Israel. Meeting a Jewish person was, for me, like meeting a celebrity, because they were “God’s Chosen”.

The first time I realized others in the world didn’t support Israel in the same way that Americans did was in Indonesia. A good friend asked us why America always sided politically with Israel against the Arab world.

I hadn’t realized there were sides.

This was the first step in my education which continued as we traveled across the world and then returned home to host international students who held very different opinions from traditional American views.

This was especially clear as we discussed international issues with our Arab students, especially the one from Palestine.

We selected Ahmed because he listed his home as the “West Bank“, and we wanted to learn about him.

His stories were wildly different from the beatific scenes we associated with Israel. Were they possibly true? We began to read up on this area and ask questions. One book was unforgettable, “Blood Brothers”, by Brother Elias Chacour.   http://www.amazon.com/Blood-Brothers-Dramatic-Palestinian-Christian/dp/0800793218

Blogs were written about life in Israel contrasting it with the very poor conditions behind a wall separating it from the West Bank/Palestine.

I wanted to see for myself, so Jon and I took several trips to visit our Palestinian students, and then met Palestinian Christians who told the same stories about Israeli abuses.

When one is meeting a diverse (Christian, Muslim, educated, working class) group of people and all writers from that area are telling similar stories you cannot afford to dismiss their story lines as fantasy.

So, I resolved to return home as an advocate for the Palestinians to tell their stories. I am not

Bantustans, Palestine 2006

Bantustans, Palestine 2006 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

anti-Israeli, but I will not cover up what they do.

It hasn’t been popular to speak up for Palestinians, but I’ve had it easy.

Others, like Steven Sizer, who has a prominent place in the UK, has his way of life threatened.

Read on:

Stephen Sizer: Craig Murray Responds to anti-Semitism Allegations.

Christians, Romney and Deception


Cover of "The Kingdom of the Cults"

Cover of The Kingdom of the Cults

Thanks for staying with me through our move and resettling despite my not writing. We’re in Virginia now, and adore the area where we’re living. It’s called “Horse country” and we’re surrounded by horse and cattle farms and beautiful scenery.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about the peculiar “congruence” that has occurred in our country as Christians have become enthusiastic advocates for a Mormon as President, while just a few years ago, Mormonism was clearly considered as a cult by Evangelical Christians.

I remember the days when electing a Catholic as President struck fear (illogically) in the hearts of Evangelical people; Fear that the Pope would exert too much influence on our country.  Before the 2008 election and even now, there certainly has been tremendous fear of Islamic Jihad entering the Oval Office.

Recently, The Billy Graham Association, representing a spiritual leader whom I have always admired for his sensible moderate views, took down from its website, a reference to Mormonism as a cult. What changed? Perhaps someone, possibly Billy’s son, Franklin, did what was necessary to make Mitt Romney more acceptable for voting Christians.

What’s behind this extreme shift in view among Evangelicals who have a history of conservatism?  Now, they stand with the candidate who takes genuinely conservative positions…even if he is a member of a cult. Confusing.

I’ve heard two key phrases repeated often: “We are not electing a Pastor, but a President”and “We are electing the lesser of two evils”. Always, I hear this about voting against Obama and for Romney.

But, why Romney?

Christians used to believe that people in cults were deceived, and if Mormonism is a cult, what has changed? This really troubles me. If Christians are about to choose someone to the highest office in our land who has been deceived in believing in a “cultish” religion (see the link below)… then how easily could he be deceived in other matters? We can assume that he will gather other Mormons around him as spiritual advisers as Presidents of other faiths have done. Consider this.

How did we arrive at this place, where a majority of Christians are clamoring for a Mormon to lead them out of troubled waters? Out of all the possible GOP candidates, how could Mitt Romney rise to the top?

I would suggest two things: Extreme fear and loathing of our current President Obama may have clouded discernment, and the peculiar rise of Romney’s fellow Mormon Glen Beck*, popular pundit formerly from FOX News, and spokesperson for Christian Conservatives has softened Christian attitudes toward Mormonism.

Our nation has had all sorts of Presidents with varying beliefs, including cults such as “Masons”. I don’t fear for our Nation if we choose a Mormon as a President.   But, the important difference is that Christians have chosen so clearly to stand with him and against President Obama, and I believe, for some, it is because of issues that have become idols to them:

Abortion, Gay marriage, Patriotism/ethnocentrism and Economic well-being seem to have taken over as priorities for us, rather than God and His Kingdom.  For Christians, this is the slippery slope, and falling for a candidate simply because he upholds these values is dangerous. It is a good time to consider instead, what are true “Kingdom” values.

We can and must develop a heart of love for Romney and Obama, but pray for God’s wisdom before voting for either one.

“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other
than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!”
Galatians 1:8

Here is the website for Walter Martin’s book, “Kingdom of the Cults“. This is the book many of us studied in Bible Doctrine classes to learn the definition of a “cult”.  I’d urge you to read the section on Mormonism.

http://www.waltermartin.com/cults.html

Obama Vs. Romney: Does God Have a Choice?


Obama Vs. Romney: Does God Have a Choice?.

Why Not Require a Photo ID to Vote?


ALEC CROW - 21st Century Disenfranchisement

ALEC CROW – 21st Century Disenfranchisement (Photo credit: DonkeyHotey)

It seems such a simple thing to most of us with money, a College ID, a Driver’s License, or a Passport.  When I first heard about this I honestly thought it was a “no-brainer”.  “Of course people should present their ID’s to vote, how else will they prove who they are?”

As I thought about it, though, I realized how out of touch I was with many people in America. There are people without health insurance, driver’s licenses, or any type of identification.

Here’s a list of states and how much it costs to obtain an ID in each of them:
 http://dmvanswers.com/questions/419/How-much-do-state-ID-cards-cost

I checked the internet to see if it’s possible to get a free ID in order to vote. It is. However: few poor people have access to the internet.  Here’s what I found when I pulled up the website from the

State of Wisconsin as an example:

“Due to the need to provide a birth certificate and/or other documents to receive a DOT-issued ID, individuals should start the process of obtaining a statutory identification well in advance of an election at which they wish to vote.  You may also consult our pamphlet on how to get a free state ID card.”

Below is an example of how this works out for one elderly lady in PA.

http://news.yahoo.com/legal-challenge-pennsylvania-voter-id-law-begins-court-194640777.html

Effectively, this results in marginalizing a large segment of our society; the elderly, the poor, the disabled, many of whom will have no access to their birth certificate, little opportunity or time to access a computer, no child care  or transportation to get to a DMV, or no money to buy an ID.

But what about fraud? Won’t we have illegal aliens voting, and people voting more than once?

I refer you to this excellent article from Pro Publica:

Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About Voter ID Laws

A local resident casts her vote at a polling station in Sandy Springs, Ga., on March 6, 2012. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

by Suevon Lee
ProPublica, July 23, 2012, 4:51 p.m.

July 24: This post has been updated and corrected.

Voter IDs laws have become a political flashpoint in what’s gearing up to be another close election year. Supporters say the laws — which 30 states have now enacted in some form — are needed to combat voter fraud, while critics see them as a tactic to disenfranchise voters.

We’ve taken a step back to look at the facts behind the laws and break down the issues at the heart of the debate.

So what are these laws?

They are measures intended to ensure that a registered voter is who he says he is and not an impersonator trying to cast a ballot in someone else’s name. The laws, most of which have been passed in the last several years, require that registered voters show ID before they’re allowed to vote. Exactly what they need to show varies. Some states require a government-issued photo, while in others a current utility bill or bank statement is sufficient.

As a registered voter, I thought I always had to supply some form of ID during an election.

Not quite. Per federal law, first-time voters who registered by mail must present a photo ID or copy of a current bill or bank statement. Some states generally advise voters bring some form of photo ID. But prior to the 2006 election, no state ever required a voter to produce a government-issued photo ID as a condition to voting. Indiana in 2006 became the first state to enact a strict photo ID law, a law that was upheld two years later by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Why are these voter ID laws so strongly opposed?

Voting law advocates contend these laws disproportionately affect elderly, minority and low-income groups that tend to vote Democratic. Obtaining photo ID can be costly and burdensome, with even free state ID requiring documents like a birth certificate that can cost up to $25 in some places. According to a study from NYU’s Brennan Center, 11 percent of voting-age citizens lack necessary photo ID while many people in rural areas have trouble accessing ID offices. During closing arguments in a recent case over Texas’s voter ID law, a lawyer for the state brushed aside these obstacles as the “reality to life of choosing to live in that part of Texas.”

Attorney General Eric Holder and others have compared the laws to a poll tax, in which Southern states during the Jim Crow era imposed voting fees, which discouraged the working class and poor, many of whom were minorities, from voting.

Given the sometimes costly steps required to obtain needed documents today, legal scholars argue that photo ID laws create a new “financial barrier to the ballot box.”

Just how well-founded are fears of voter fraud?

There have been only a small number of fraud cases resulting in a conviction. A New York Times analysis from 2007 identified 120 cases filed by the Justice Department over five years. These cases, many of which stemmed from mistakenly filled registration forms or misunderstanding over voter eligibility, resulted in 86 convictions.

There are “very few documented cases,” said UC-Irvine professor and election law specialist Rick Hasen. “When you do see election fraud, it invariably involves election officials taking steps to change election results or it involves absentee ballots which voter ID laws can’t prevent,” he said.

One of the most vocal supporters of strict voter ID laws, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, told the Houston Chronicle earlier this month that his office has prosecuted about 50 cases of voter fraud in recent years. “I know for a fact that voter fraud is real, that it must be stopped, and that voter id is one way to prevent cheating at the ballot box and ensure integrity in the electoral system,” he told the paper. Abbott’s office did not immediately respond to ProPublica’s request for comment.

How many voters might be turned away or dissuaded by the laws, and could they really affect the election?

It’s not clear.

According to the Brennan Center, about 11 percent of U.S. citizens, or roughly 21 million citizens, don’t have government-issued photo ID. This figure doesn’t represent all voters likely to vote, just those eligible to vote.

State figures also can be hard to nail down. In Pennsylvania, nearly 760,000 registered voters, or 9.2 percent of the state’s 8.2 million voter base, don’t own state-issued ID cards, according to an analysis of state records by the Philadelphia Inquirer. State officials, on the other hand, place this number at between 80,000 and 90,000.

In Indiana and Georgia, states with the earliest versions of photo ID laws, about 1,300 provisional votes were discarded in the 2008 general election, later analysis has revealed.

As for the potential effect on the election, one analysis by Nate Silver at the New York Times’ FiveThirtyEight blog estimates they could decrease voter turnout anywhere between 0.8 and 2.4 percent. It doesn’t sound like a very wide margin, but it all depends on the electoral landscape.

“We don’t know exactly how much these news laws will affect turnout or skew turnout in favor of Republicans,” said Hasen, author of the recently released The Voting Wars: From Florida 2000 to the Next Election Meltdown. “But there’s no question that in a very close election, they could be enough to make a difference in the outcome.”

When did voter ID laws get passed — and which states have the strictest ones?

The first such law was passed as early as 2003, but momentum has picked up in recent years. In 2011 alone, legislators in 34 states introduced bills requiring voters show photo ID — 14 of those states already had existing voter ID laws but lawmakers sought to toughen statutes, mainly to require proof of photo identification.

The National Conference of State Legislatures has a helpful breakdown of states’ voter ID laws and how they vary.

(National Conference of State Legislatures)

Indiana, Georgia, Tennessee, Kansas and Pennsylvania have the toughest versions. These states won’t allow voters to cast a regular ballot without first showing valid photo ID. Other states with photo ID laws offer some more flexibility by providing voters with several alternatives.

What happens if a voter can’t show valid photo ID in these states?

These voters are entitled to a provisional ballot. To ensure their votes count, however, they must produce the mandatory ID within a certain time frame and affirm in person or writing they are the same individual who filled out a temporary ballot on Election Day. The time limits vary: They range anywhere from up to three days after the election (Georgia) to noon the Monday after the election (Indiana).

Are there any exceptions to the photo ID requirement?

Yes. Indigency or religious objections to being photographed. But these exceptions don’t automatically grant a voter the ability to cast a regular ballot: In Pennsylvania and Indiana, voters will be given a provisional ballot and must sign an affidavit for their exemption within the given time frame. For a more specific breakdown of all exceptions, see this state-by-state summary.

Why is the Justice Department getting involved in some cases?

Because of Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which requires that states with a history of discrimination receive preclearance before making changes to voting laws. Texas and South Carolina passed strict photo ID laws in 2011 but were refused preclearance by the DOJ, which argued that these laws could suppress turnout among minority voters.

Texas went to court recently seeking judicial preclearance from a federal district court; a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia is expected to issue a decision by the end of the summer. South Carolina heads to oral arguments in the same court in September.

Are there any other legal challenges to such laws currently in the works?

The ACLU has filed a lawsuit to prevent the Pennsylvania voter ID law, signed into law by Republican Gov. Tom Corbett in March, from taking effect. The lawsuit claims that elderly, disabled, low-income people and the homeless, plus married women who have changed their names, transgender individuals, and students who have photo IDs that don’t list an expiration date, will find it difficult to obtain proper ID before the November election.

In the latest development, the DOJ has now launched an investigation into Pennsylvania’s photo ID law. As first reported by Talking Points Memo, the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division sent the state’s chief election official a letter Monday afternoon requesting 16 separate items, including the state’s complete voter registration list, any documents supporting the governor’s prior assurance that “99 percent” of the state’s eligible voters already have acceptable photo ID, any papers to prove the state is prepared to provide registered voters with ID cards free of charge upon oath or affirmation, and any studies that inform state officials of the “demographic characteristics” of residents who lack valid voter ID.

The DOJ letter states it needs these documents within 30 days to evaluate the state’s compliance with Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which forbids voting practices that discriminate on the basis of race, color, or membership in a language minority group.

Have any states attempted to enact strict voter ID laws but so far been unsuccessful?

Yes. In Wisconsin, two judges have blocked enforcement of the state’s photo ID law. An appeal in one case won’t be heard until after the November election. Meantime, Democratic governors in Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire and North Carolina have vetoed strict photo ID bills passed by their Republican-led legislatures last year.

Are there other voter ID laws in effect that ask for but don’t necessarily require photo ID?

Yes. In these so-called “non-strict photo ID states” — Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, Idaho, South Dakota and Hawaii — individuals are requested to show photo ID but can still vote if they don’t have one. Instead, they may be asked to sign affidavits affirming their identity or provide a signature that will be compared with those in registration records.

Why has there been such a recent surge in voter ID legislation around the country?

This report by NYU’s Brennan Center for Justice cites primarily big Republican gains in the 2010 midterms which turned voter ID laws into a “major legislative priority.” Aside from Rhode Island, all voter ID legislation has been introduced by Republican-majority legislatures.

Republican figures have championed such laws. For instance, Mike Turzai, majority leader of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, recently praised the state’s legislative accomplishments at a Republican State Committee meeting last month. “Voter ID, which is gonna allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania, done,” he said.

A spokesman for Turzai, Steve Miskin, told ProPublica that Turzai was “mischaracterized” by the press. “For the first time in many years, you’re going to have a relatively level playing field in the presidential elections” as the result of these new laws,” Miskin said. “With all things equal, a Republican presidential nominee in Pennsylvania has a chance.”

Correction: An earlier version of this story said Texas went to federal court to challenge the DOJ’s denial of preclearance. In fact, Texas filed a lawsuit seeking preclearance from the federal district court two months before the DOJ announced its decision. Also, some states require a government-issued photo that does not have to come from the federal government as first detailed.

http://www.propublica.org/article/everything-youve-ever-wanted-to-know-about-voter-id-laws

________________________________________________________________________________

Who will this law affect? Check this link: National Poverty Center | University of Michigan.

Are these the people who would vote for the Republicans who are proposing this law or the Democrats who are proposing Universal Health Care to cover them?

Sadly, this appears to me to be an attempt to manipulate a law to prevent hundreds of thousands from fulfilling one of their lawfully granted American rights.

Or, maybe the GOP remains simply ignorant and unaware of the needs of the disenfranchised, as I was. That sounds about right.

They still have time to catch up…but this ID Law needs to be defeated.

Democrat. Jewish. Still Voting for Obama.


We’re disappointed too…for one of the same reasons Emily Hauser mentions in her article in the Daily Beast.  Read on.

Democrat. Jewish. Still Voting for Obama. – The Daily Beast.