47 Republican Senators’ Letter to Iran: Here It Is.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by DonkeyHotey https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by DonkeyHotey https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/

The letter that 47 United States Senators sent to the government of Iran is below.

This letter has set off something of a firestorm and a potential Constitutional crisis. A massive number of people have signed a petition demanding that the signatories be prosecuted for treason amid questions of whether or not the Senators broke the law.

Meanwhile the senators who signed the letter and the president are standing firm. The news is that the letter will “not derail the agreement.”

Here is the letter in full. You can read the petition here.  There is a legible list of the senators who signed the letter at the bottom.

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton

Copyright: Rebecca Hamilton

4 the-letter-senate-republicans-addressed-to-theHere, from CNN,  is a list for Republican senators who signed the letter. Those who did not sign it are also listed.

Here is the full list of who signed:

Senator Tom Cotton, R-AR

Senator Orrin Hatch, R-UT

Senator Charles Grassley, R-IA

Senator Mitch McConnell, R-KY

Senator Richard Shelby, R-AL

Senator John McCain, R-AZ

Senator James Inhofe, R-OK

Senator Pat Roberts, R-KS

Senator Jeff Sessions, R-AL

Senator Michael Enzi, R-WY

Senator Michael Crapo, R-ID

Senator Lindsey Graham, R-SC

Senator John Cornyn, R-TX

Senator Richard Burr, R-NC

Senator John Thune, R-SD

Senator Johnny Isakson, R-GA

Senator David Vitter, R-LA

Senator John A. Barrasso, R-WY

Senator Roger Wicker, R-MS

Senator Jim Risch, R-ID

Senator Mark Kirk, R-IL

Senator Roy Blunt, R-MO

Senator Jerry Moran, R-KS

Senator Rob Portman, R-OH

Senator John Boozman, R-AR

Senator Pat Toomey, R-PA

Senator John Hoeven, R-ND

Senator Marco Rubio, R-FL

Senator Ron Johnson, R-WI

Senator Rand Paul, R-KY

Senator Mike Lee, R-UT

Senator Kelly Ayotte, R-NH

Senator Dean Heller, R-NV

Senator Tim Scott, R-SC

Senator Ted Cruz, R-TX

Senator Deb Fischer, R-NE

Senator Shelley Moore Capito, R-WV

Senator Bill Cassidy, R-LA

Senator Cory Gardner, R-CO

Senator James Lankford, R-OK

Senator Steve Daines, R-MT

Senator Mike Rounds, R-SD

Senator David Perdue, R-GA

Senator Thom Tillis, R-NC

Senator Joni Ernst, R-IA

Senator Ben Sasse, R-NE

Senator Dan Sullivan, R-AK

Here is the list of those who didn’t sign: 

Senator Lamar Alexander, R-TN

Senator Susan Collins, R-ME

Senator Bob Corker, R-TN

Senator Dan Coats, R-IN

Senator Thad Cochran, R-MS

Senator Jeff Flake, R-AZ

Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-AK

 

 

President Obama’s 2013 Statement on Nuclear Iran Deal

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Official White House Photo.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Official White House Photo.

This is the statement President Obama’s made on the agreement with Iran in November of 2013. The six-month timeline has drug on a bit further than he predicted.

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Outrage Over Racist Video Rolls. Everybody Apologizes.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Allison Meier https://www.flickr.com/photos/astrozombie/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Allison Meier https://www.flickr.com/photos/astrozombie/

Outrage over the video of Oklahoma University fraternity partiers singing a racist video is rolling forward.

The only people not apologizing are those voicing outrage and some people are apologizing and expressing outrage, both at once. African American students express hurt and betrayal.

“These are the same people who are shaking my hand after I score a touchdown,” one football player said. An African American alumnus of this fraternity said that watching the video was “like getting punched.”

The two young men who have been identified as participants in this video have received death threats via twitter and Facebook. They have both been expelled from the school. A protest is being planned at the Dallas home of one of the young men.

The plot thickened when one of the young men who has been identified as a participant in singing the racist chant, Parker Rice, said that the chant had been taught to members of the fraternity. That moves the issue from the behavior of a few young men to a question of the behavior of the entire fraternity.

As I said in an earlier post, the Greek system at OU is almost a separate university within the larger university community. There are bigger questions about that system which need to be addressed than just this one video.

“I hope they think long and hard about what they’ve done,” OU’s president David Boren said of the young men. “They won’t be back,” he added, referring to his decision to expel the two students, “not while I’m president of this university.”

Here are the apologies of the one of the young men and the family of the other.

Parker Rice:

I am deeply sorry for what I did Saturday night. It was wrong and reckless. I made a horrible mistake by joining into the singing and encouraging others to do the same. On Monday, I withdrew from the university, and sadly, at this moment our family is not able to be in our home because of threatening calls as well as frightening talk on social media.

I know everyone wants to know why or how this happened. I admit it likely was fueled by alcohol consumed at the house before the bus trip, but that’s not an excuse. Yes, the song was taught to us, but that too doesn’t work as an explanation. It’s more important to acknowledge what I did and what I didn’t do. I didn’t say no, and I clearly dismissed an important value I learned at my beloved high school, Dallas Jesuit. We were taught to be ‘Men for Others.’ I failed in that regard, and in those moments, I also completely ignored the core values and ethics I learned from my parents and others.

At this point, all I can do is be thoughtful and prayerful about my next steps, but I am also concerned about the fraternity friends still on campus. Apparently, they are feeling unsafe and some have been harassed by others. Hopefully, the university will protect them.

For me, this is a devastating lesson and I am seeking guidance on how I can learn from this and make sure it never happens again. My goal for the long-term is to be a man who has the heart and the courage to reject racism wherever I see or experience it in the future.

Thank you for your consideration of my deepest apologies for what I did.

From the parents of Levi Pruitt:

As parents of Levi, we love him and care for him deeply. He made a horrible mistake, and will live with the consequences forever. However, we also know the depth of our son’s character. He is a good boy, but what we saw in those videos is disgusting. While it may be difficult for those who only know Levi from the video to understand, we know his heart, and he is not a racist. We raised him to be loving and inclusive and we all remain surrounded by a diverse, close-knit group of friends.

We were as shocked and saddened by this news as anyone. Of course, we are sad for our son – but more importantly, we apologize to the community he has hurt. We would also like to apologize to the – entire African American community, University of Oklahoma student body and administration. Our family has the responsibility to apologize, and also to seek forgiveness and reconciliation. Our words will only go so far  – as a family, we commit to following our words with deeds.

To our friends and family, thank you for your kind comments and prayers. They are very comforting in this difficult time.

We ask that the media and public please respect our family’s privacy as we come together to heal and determine next steps.

This is a video of an interview of an African American alumnus of this same fraternity.

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History of the Crusades: Richard the Lionheart, Genius and Virtue

 

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons, public domain

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons, public domain

I am aware that there are Islamic teachings which lead to a more peaceful application of that faith. I think that the interpretation referenced here is an accurate depiction of of the application of Islamic teachings of a thousand years ago. It also seems that it is still relevant to Islamic extremists today.

I want to emphasize that this video discusses events which happened almost over a thousand years ago. The reason I am posting it here is to correct the inaccurate  history of the Crusades which is being used in the popular media to attack and degrade Christians and Christianity.

Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/publiccatholic/2015/03/history-of-the-crusades-richard-the-lionhearted-defeats-saladin-1192/#ixzz3U6W1vnQn

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Here’s the Racist University of Oklahoma Fraternity Video

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by xploitme https://www.flickr.com/photos/45928872@N08/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by xploitme https://www.flickr.com/photos/45928872@N08/

The racist University of Oklahoma fraternity video that’s been in the news is below.

The video was released by the campus group Unheard. Unheard is working to increase African American presence at OU. They sent a 12-page letter of grievances to OU’s President Boren earlier. President Boren said that he agreed with most of the grievances. He was already working with Unheard to implement many of their suggestions before the video surfaced.

The University of Oklahoma has a long-standing divide between “the Greeks” and “independent” students. The Greeks are, in many ways, a separate university, and a law unto themselves.

I don’t believe this video reflects the attitudes of most of the larger student body or faculty at OU. However, it clearly reflects the attitudes of this fraternity. Also, African Americans are underrepresented in the university student body and faculty. I believe that is what President Boren is working with Unheard to change.

Sigma Alpha Epsilon’s national leadership closed the OU chapter.  I hope that, in addition to facilitating the reforms which Unheard is advocating, President Boren will consider a thorough investigation into the Greek system at OU.

Here’s the video.

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Mr President, Whatever Happened to the People’s Right to Know?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Official White House Photo.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Official White House Photo.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu gave a powerful and inspiring speech before a joint session of the United States Congress last week.

The single most compelling thing about this speech was his commitment to Israel. I would give anything if American elected officials actually cared about America the way that he so obviously cares about Israel.

Prime Minister Netanyahu came before Congress to speak on behalf of Israeli interests. He told us that Israel would stand alone if it had to, but that the days when Jews silently and obediently marched into the gas chambers were over. Jews would defend themselves. He underscored this by bringing Elie Wiesel, the well-known survivor of the Holocaust, to sit in the gallery while he spoke.

The primary concern he raised during his speech was about a possible agreement between the United States and Iran concerning nuclear development in Iran. He is opposed to this agreement on the grounds that it not only will not stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons, it actually facilitates them in doing this.

President Obama went nuts in a public way in his opposition to the invitation to Prime Minister Netanyahu. He felt — rightfully so — that the invitation was a partisan jibe at the White House by a Republican Congress. What he forgot is that he doesn’t have a vote in Congress. Congress can invite whomever they want to address them. The prez has nothing to say about it.

There was the usual tut-tutting in the press, most of it appearing to have been fed to it by the White House. Several members of the Obama Administration gave interviews trying to cast the speech as oh-so-damaging to America’s interests. Then the prez got 50 members of Congress to boycott the speech, making themselves look like party hacks in the process.

I believed at the time and I still believe that the reason the White House was so upset was that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s speech could very well have served the purpose of drawing the American people into the debate. I don’t think the prez cares all that much what Congress thinks, since Congress has consistently proven itself to be completely indifferent to matters of governance.

I think the president of the United States was upset because there was a possibility that the people of the United States might become informed about this potential agreement and voice opinions of their own. I also think that much of the press were his allies in trying to keep the people from hearing this speech. In other words, I don’t think his objective was Prime Minster Netanyahu talking to Congress. I think the president — and his hacks in the press and Congress — objected to the fact that the American people would hear him do it.

Think about that for a moment. The press is allied with the government to keep the people uninformed, because the President doesn’t want the American people meddling in their own government. That’s what I’m saying.

I’m going to stop this analysis at this point and take it up again tomorrow. I think the comments I’ve made about the run-up to the speech itself and the situation in Washington are enough for us to chew on today. They strike to the heart of the American malaise.

What are you feelings about this?

1. Has Congress abdicated its responsibility and allowed the president to govern as an elected dictator?

2. Do you wish that American elected officials cared as passionately about America as Prime Minister Netanyahu cares about Israel?

3. Was the president angry about the speech because he didn’t want the American people to hear a viewpoint that opposes his plans for this agreement with Iran?

4. Is the press colluding with the White House in keeping the American people in the dark about the agreement?

Those are serious questions. I want you to think them over before we move to the questions raised by the speech itself. We’ll talk about what Prime Minister Netanyahu said tomorrow.

 

History of the Crusades: Richard the Lionhearted Defeats Saladin 1192

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by http://maps.bpl.org

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by http://maps.bpl.org

I am aware that there are Islamic teachings which lead to a more peaceful application of that faith. I think that the interpretation referenced here is an accurate depiction of of the application of Islamic teachings of a thousand years ago. It also seems that it is still relevant to Islamic extremists today.

I want to emphasize that this video discusses events which happened almost over a thousand years ago. The reason I am posting it here is to correct the inaccurate  history of the Crusades which is being used in the popular media to attack and degrade Christians and Christianity.

Read more: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/publiccatholic/2015/03/history-of-the-crusades-richard-the-lion-heart-vs-saladin/#ixzz3TzPYt5J8

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Day Off. Back Tomorrow.

I’m overwhelmed with Mama stuff, as well as two deaths of long-time friends this weekend.

I’ll try to get back with a post tomorrow.

In the meantime, be nice to one another.

The Popes and the Sister Speak Against the Death Penalty

Our popes have spoken with a consistent voice against the death penalty. I agree in general with Pope Francis’ comments on life sentences. Life sentences should be reserved for capital crimes and people who simply cannot be allowed to walk free because that would endanger the public safety. However, I do not support ending life sentences altogether. 

My favorite line in these videos is when St Helen Prejean said, “Gospel of Jesus stretches us.”

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Republic of Korea https://www.flickr.com/photos/koreanet/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Republic of Korea https://www.flickr.com/photos/koreanet/

Pope Francis on the death penalty and life sentences.

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Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons by Tadeusz Gorny

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons by Tadeusz Gorny

Pope Benedict XVI on the death penalty, as well as in favor of marriage.

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Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Don Lavange https://www.flickr.com/photos/wickenden/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Don Lavange https://www.flickr.com/photos/wickenden/

Sister Helen Prejean on the death penalty and the crucifixion.

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Catholic Bloggers Unite Against the Death Penalty. This Catholic Blogger Says Wait a Minute.

The map is from 2012. Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by m01229 https://www.flickr.com/photos/39908901@N06/

The map is from 2012. Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by m01229 https://www.flickr.com/photos/39908901@N06/

I’m always the outlier. No matter what the question, as soon as the crowd starts yelling Huzzah!! I’m the one standing slightly aside, saying “wait a minute now.”

I guess that means it’s no surprise that I’m the one saying “wait a minute now” about Catholic bloggers joining together in opposition to the death penalty. Not, mind you, that I favor the death penalty. And I certainly support Catholic bloggers getting together in support of Church teaching. I think that kind of initiative is long overdue.

My “now, wait a minute” in this instance is based on those confounding truths that reality often imposes on idealism when public policy is the question. This reality is multifarious, and I’m mentally and physically tired this morning. So I’m going to abandon long-winded explanations and number my thoughts. Here we go.

  1. Any question of public policy has to be decided based on one object: A just and stable government is always the greater good.
  2. There are people who cannot be allowed loose in the larger population. To do so would be to ignore government’s responsibility to provide for the public safety.
  3. The death penalty is not usually necessary to achieve this aim of a just and stable government in advanced societies which are capable of keeping people locked up.
  4. Innocents are convicted of crimes, including capital crimes, that they did not commit.
  5. When innocent people are executed by the state, the death penalty becomes an egregious wrong. It not only does not provide for the public safety, it abrogates it in this instance.
  6. Thus the death penalty is not necessary in most instances in advanced societies, and in the case of innocents who are wrongly convicted, it is a grave moral injustice.
  7. However, (you knew this was coming, right?) if, for whatever reason, it is not possible to keep killers off the streets, then the death penalty becomes a necessity. (Go back to point one.)
  8. Also, there are instances, when murderers murder for political or philosophical reasons, where incarceration may be a means and method for them to spread their murderous politics and philosophy further and enlist others to murder in the name of that politics or philosophy.
  9. Certain members of Boko Haram/ISIS/Islamic Brotherhood/Taliban/etc fit the criteria of number 8. Certain Bolsheviks fit the description of number 8 at earlier points in history.
  10. When people in our prisons use their prison time to enlist fellow prisoners in a murderous pact which they then unleash on the civilian population once they are freed, then simply incarcerating these people becomes a violation of point number 1.
  11. What to do? Do we use the death penalty selectively on people who murder for politics or philosophy? That is a dangerous business which will — I guarantee it — be abused. Once you allow government this type of power to selectively kill, government will — once again, I guarantee it — get around to using it on anyone who annoys those in power.
  12. We must, as a matter of guaranteeing point number 1, think clearly and without our usual social lies about points 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 when constructing laws about the death penalty.

This numbered list is my way of saying, “now wait a minute” about the death penalty. I oppose the death penalty. So far as I know, I am alone among the Catholic bloggers in having the votes and the scars to prove my opposition to the death penalty. In addition to questions about the death penalty, I have had to vote on many laws that changed the lives of millions of people. It is an awesome thing to hold that kind of power in your hands. It changes how you look at questions like this.

I oppose the death penalty within the parameters of the basic principle that a just and stable government is always the greater good. I oppose the death penalty so long as opposition to the death penalty does not endanger the public health and safety. I oppose the death penalty whenever there are just alternatives. In practical terms, that means I oppose the death penalty in almost all circumstances in Western society.

But I know full well that there are situations that make the death penalty necessary. I’m on record in support of the death penalty for Jihadi John. My reasoning has nothing to do with the horror of his crimes. I am calling for the death penalty for Jihadi John for two reasons. One, allowing him to live in prison leads to the recruitment of other murderers. Two allowing him to live in prison makes him a living martyr, an on-going symbolic reference point for those of his murderous philosophy.

Jihadi John, and all of ISIS, commit crimes that are not just crimes against the persons on whom they inflict them. They commit crimes that are crimes against the structure and fabric of civilization and humanity as a whole. That is what a crime against humanity constitutes. It is a crime that attacks the bedrock of human civilization and that destroys and diminishes all of humanity in a real and rending way.

I believe that those who commit crimes against humanity, in particular the leaders, figureheads and mouthpieces of such crimes, should be put to death. I also think that their bodies should be consigned to the sea in unmarked locations. They deserve no monument, no memoriam.

I am opposed to the death penalty. I am one of the few death penalty opponent bloggers who has actually voted against the death penalty in my role as an elected official and taken the hits that go with that action. When I say that I oppose the death penalty, I mean it, and I can prove that I mean it. However, I have to say “wait a minute” when we talk about a mindless and blanket end to the death penalty in all circumstances.

A just and stable government is always the greater good. Thumb through history, look around the world, and you will see what happens and how many innocent people die when governments are unjust and unstable. Unjust, unstable government is a killer on a mass scale. Given modern communication and weaponry, unjust and unstable government is a scythe, mowing down whole populations in short periods of time.

For that reason, when I consider blanket responses to questions of public policy, I am often forced to say, “Wait a minute …”

The death penalty is no exception.


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