24 thoughts on “News/Politics 8-27-18

  1. And yet a judge thought it would be a good idea to grant bail……

    https://www.wsbtv.com/news/local/atlanta/duo-tied-to-new-mexico-compound-planned-attack-on-grady-hospital-documents-show/820684695

    “Channel 2 Action News has learned about a planned terror attack on Grady Memorial Hospital.

    Channel 2’s Lauren Pozen was at the hospital in downtown Atlanta looking over newly-filed court documents from prosecutors that name the hospital as a possible target, as well as some other big-name institutions

    Investigators say they learned about the plot from 11 children who were rescued on the property. The remains of a 12th child, a 3-year-old boy from Clayton County, were also found on the property.

    The children told investigators that Siraj Ibn Wahhaj and his partner, Lany Leveille, intended to “confront corrupt institutions or individuals”.”

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  2. Not so fast…….

    Looks like someone doesn’t want to pay their “fair share”….

    https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/irs-treasury-move-to-thwart-blue-state-tax-evasion-schemes

    “Remember when California, New York, Connecticut, Maryland, and New Jersey moved to counteract the GOP’s 2017 tax law, claiming the bill unfairly targets states that are primarily left-leaning?

    Well, the IRS and the Treasury Department this week rolled out a counter-counterattack. Their new rule that “targets legislation in those states that would allow taxpayers to claim a charitable deduction for state and local tax payments above the $10,000 limit set in the tax cuts passed by Congress last year,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

    In other words, the IRS is saying “nope” to a rash of state laws designed to circumvent the limit on deductions for state and local taxes.

    “Congress limited the deduction for state and local taxes that predominantly benefited high-income earners to help pay for major tax cuts for American families,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “The proposed rule will uphold that limitation by preventing attempts to convert tax payments into charitable contributions.””

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  3. Damned either way, due to bad laws.

    http://reason.com/archives/2018/08/23/trumps-campaign-finance-catch-22

    “Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, has pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance rules—those malleable laws that regulate how much of their own money Americans can spend to voice their political views, and that require citizens to report to the government their political associations. Cohen admitted to two felonies: knowingly and willfully facilitating an illegal corporate contribution and making an illegally large campaign contribution, in each case by arranging hush money payments to women who claim to have had extra-marital affairs with Trump. Cohen says he did so under the direction of “a candidate”—obviously Trump—and for the purpose of “influencing the election,” a very important phrase in all this.

    Democrats in Congress are already talking with renewed enthusiasm about impeachment, while a bevy of commentators on both the left and right now consider it a fact that, as John Podhoretz puts it at Commentary, “the President committed a felony.” We can reasonably guess why Cohen pleaded guilty—the fraud and tax charges against him could have left him in prison for most of his remaining life. By pleading guilty, it now appears he’ll be sentenced for just a few years. But leaving aside what Cohen pleaded to, are the alleged campaign finance violations really a crime?

    Back in 2013, Antonin Scalia made a remarkable admission at oral argument in the Supreme Court when he said, “this campaign finance law [the Federal Election Campaign Act] is so intricate that I can’t figure it out.” Three years before that, a group of former Federal Election Commission (FEC) chairmen (including this author) warned the Court, in an amicus brief in the famous Citizens United case, that, even leaving aside specific prohibitions, the growing complexity of campaign finance law threatened free speech and political participation: “There are now unique and complex rules imposed by [the Federal Election Campaign Act] on 71 distinct entities,” the former chairmen wrote. Further, they noted that the government also had unique regulations for 33 different forms of political speech.

    In 2005, while presiding over the trial of a Democratic Party fundraiser accused of filing false campaign finance reports, federal judge Howard Matz told the FEC witness who was attempting to explain the reporting requirements:

    “[T]o set up this regimen at the FEC, with the reporting consequences, and the transferring at least for accounting purposes of moneys, and the distinctions that some of the witnesses testified to before the jurors, I’m confident that the jurors—I would be surprised if any single juror could follow that extremely complicated evidence. I think it would be a lot more comprehensible to read the Internal Revenue Code from start to finish than to figure out some of the evidence that was issued on the Federal Election Commission requirements.”

    Increasingly, campaign finance laws now illustrate the classic situation where the government can always get you for something—it’s just a question of what they’ll get you for.”
    ———————–

    “Now we can see the dilemma the Trump campaign faced. It could pay with funds from outside the campaign, risking prosecution for failing to use campaign funds or file reports. Or it could pay with campaign funds, risking prosecution for an illegal diversion of campaign funds to personal use. “Heads I win. Tails you lose.” Such are our complex campaign finance laws.

    The best interpretation of the law is that it simply is not a campaign expense to pay blackmail for things that happened years before one’s candidacy—and thus nothing Cohen (or, in this case, Trump, too) did is a campaign finance crime. But at a minimum, it is unclear whether paying blackmail to a mistress is “for the purpose of influencing an election,” and so must be paid with campaign funds, or a “personal use,” and so prohibited from being paid with campaign funds.

    Normally, given this lack of clarity, we would not expect a prosecutor to charge those involved with a “knowing and willful” violation, which means a criminal charge with possible jail time. Typically, at most a civil fine for an unintentional violation would be the response. But prosecutors may be using a guilty plea from Cohen as a predicate for going after the bigger fish, and our simultaneously vague, sometimes contradictory, and incredibly complex campaign finance laws give them that opening.”

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  4. I blame Twitter. 🙂

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/aug/25/skim-reading-new-normal-maryanne-wolf

    “Look around on your next plane trip. The iPad is the new pacifier for babies and toddlers. Younger school-aged children read stories on smartphones; older boys don’t read at all, but hunch over video games. Parents and other passengers read on Kindles or skim a flotilla of email and news feeds. Unbeknownst to most of us, an invisible, game-changing transformation links everyone in this picture: the neuronal circuit that underlies the brain’s ability to read is subtly, rapidly changing – a change with implications for everyone from the pre-reading toddler to the expert adult.

    As work in neurosciences indicates, the acquisition of literacy necessitated a new circuit in our species’ brain more than 6,000 years ago. That circuit evolved from a very simple mechanism for decoding basic information, like the number of goats in one’s herd, to the present, highly elaborated reading brain. My research depicts how the present reading brain enables the development of some of our most important intellectual and affective processes: internalized knowledge, analogical reasoning, and inference; perspective-taking and empathy; critical analysis and the generation of insight. Research surfacing in many parts of the world now cautions that each of these essential “deep reading” processes may be under threat as we move into digital-based modes of reading.

    This is not a simple, binary issue of print vs digital reading and technological innovation. As MIT scholar Sherry Turkle has written, we do not err as a society when we innovate, but when we ignore what we disrupt or diminish while innovating. In this hinge moment between print and digital cultures, society needs to confront what is diminishing in the expert reading circuit, what our children and older students are not developing, and what we can do about it.

    We know from research that the reading circuit is not given to human beings through a genetic blueprint like vision or language; it needs an environment to develop. Further, it will adapt to that environment’s requirements – from different writing systems to the characteristics of whatever medium is used. If the dominant medium advantages processes that are fast, multi-task oriented and well-suited for large volumes of information, like the current digital medium, so will the reading circuit. As UCLA psychologist Patricia Greenfield writes, the result is that less attention and time will be allocated to slower, time-demanding deep reading processes, like inference, critical analysis and empathy, all of which are indispensable to learning at any age.

    Increasing reports from educators and from researchers in psychology and the humanities bear this out. English literature scholar and teacher Mark Edmundson describes how many college students actively avoid the classic literature of the 19th and 20th centuries because they no longer have the patience to read longer, denser, more difficult texts. We should be less concerned with students’ “cognitive impatience,” however, than by what may underlie it: the potential inability of large numbers of students to read with a level of critical analysis sufficient to comprehend the complexity of thought and argument found in more demanding texts, whether in literature and science in college, or in wills, contracts and the deliberately confusing public referendum questions citizens encounter in the voting booth.”

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  5. @9:23 Not surprising. Who wants to go to church where you can hear snide comments about your political party, politician or candidate? If our pastor was a never-Trumper, the disgust would show from the pulpit. It certainly showed when he supported Cruz. The open military zeal in the congregation is bad enough. I am thankful for our military and other government employees, but that’s not why I go to church. :–/

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Drudge headline….

    “Stocks Smash Records on New NAFTA”

    https://www.cnbc.com/2018/08/27/us-stocks-to-open-higher-after-powell-signals-further-rate-hikes.html

    “Stocks jumped on Monday as the United States and Mexico drew closer to a deal on NAFTA. Investors also digested reassuring comments from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell on the central bank’s policy-tightening path.

    The Nasdaq Composite climbed 0.6 percent to an all-time high, breaking above 8,000 for the first time, as Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Alphabet. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 214 points as Caterpillar outperformed. The S&P 500 gained 0.6 percent to hit a record high with materials and financials as the best-performing sectors.

    “The market has been buffeted with a lot of headwinds lately, and the biggest one is trade,” said Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B. Riley FBR. “If you were to take trade out of the picture, you would have a smoother ride higher in this market.”

    CNBC reported, citing a Mexican official, that trade talks between the U.S. and Canada had concluded and a NAFTA announcement could come later on Monday.

    The comment comes after Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said Sunday both countries were close to resolving key differences on trade. This would pave the way for a new deal between the two longtime trade partners. “We’ve continued making progress,” Guajardo said.

    President Donald Trump later tweeted that a deal with Mexico was “looking good.”

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  7. ________________________________

    … One of the first truths I learned in covering the abuse scandal in the early 2000s is that the left-right framework is fairly useless as a guide to understanding matters. Conservative prelates like Cardinal Law covered up, as did liberal prelates like Archbishop Rembert Weakland (who used church money to pay off his gay lover). If you decide that the only bad guys are those on the other side, you commit yourself to believing all manner of lies to maintain that fiction. …

    ….

    “We shouldn’t believe Vigano because he’s obviously pursuing a personal vendetta.”

    It is undeniable that Vigano has personal motive to strike out at his enemies within the Curia. Benedict XVI had put Vigano in charge of governing the Vatican, including cleaning up the scandal-plagued Vatican Bank. When Vigano started uncovering corruption and making a stink about it, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the No. 2 figure in Benedict’s Vatican, had Vigano removed and exiled to Washington, against his will. Benedict accepted this decision (the Guardian‘s Paul Vallely tells that story here). Bertone is an archvillain in the Vigano statement of the weekend. There can be no question that Vigano is striking back at him — but again, motive is beside the point. Are the allegations true?

    “Vigano calls on the Pope to resign. He’s pursuing a coup to advance his own career in the Vatican. Who can believe him?”

    Vigano is 77 years old, and retired. His career is over. Whatever he stands to gain from this statement, career advancement is not among them.

    ….

    Again: if the allegations are false, you say, “They’re false.” But that’s not what the Pope said. At all. If the Pope thinks he can ignore Vigano as he has ignored the dubia cardinals, he is gravely mistaken.

    In fact, all of these prelates named by Vigano should respond to his extremely serious charges. When charges as explosive as these are leveled by a man who was in Vigano’s senior position within the Vatican apparatus, they cannot be ignored. Silence speaks volumes.
    __________________________________

    Liked by 2 people

  8. And on the coverage:

    https://www.getreligion.org/getreligion/2018/8/27/archbishop-vigans-explosive-testimony-is-dismissed-as-conservative-attack-on-pope-francis

    August 27, 2018

    Archbishop Vigano’s explosive testimony dismissed as new conservative attack on Pope Francis

    Julia Duin

    ___________________________

    Just when you think the wheels have come completely off the ongoing Catholic sexual abuse story, it goes to the next level. …

    … Ross Douthat, a New York Times columnist, tweeted that the document implicates 17 cardinals (I counted 23), two popes, four archbishops and three bishops.

    As tmatt pointed out yesterday, different media are reading this different ways. Still, others at the Times attacked the messenger, portraying it as yet another battle between church liberals and conservatives. …

    … Where has this reporter been in the past few months? Those of us who’ve been following this stuff know these accusations line up with what a lot of us have been suspecting for a long time. …

    As GetReligion has been stressing, this is a story with at least three crucial levels of moral and doctrinal conflict.

    Back to the Times. So this is just an inter-church rivalry by “conservative Catholic outlets?” You think Viganò did this for fun? He’s fallen on his sword.

    But this appears to be the prevailing opinion at the NYT, judging from staff writer Elizabeth Dias’ tweets on Viganò. The majority of those leaving comments politely tell her off. …

    … The Washington Post offered more balanced fare and did a service for other media by actually contacting Viganò to confirm he wrote the letter.

    … “Speaking to reporters traveling back to Rome with him from Dublin, the pope said his lack of comment was ‘an act of faith’ in people reading the document. ‘Maybe when a bit of time has passed, I’ll talk about it.’ ”

    Seriously? When “a bit of time has passed?” You don’t have that luxury, Francis. Why didn’t you just deny the letter’s allegations? Perhaps Rome is waiting to see if Archbishop Vigano has copies of crucial documents.

    … Let’s sum up three crucial accusations in this letter:

    1. Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl’s repeated assertions that he didn’t know the charges against McCarrick are an utter lie, as Viganò told him more than once.

    2. No matter how one spins the three-level sexual abuse crisis, “homosexual networks” are a major part of this story.

    3. Francis has known about McCarrick’s predilections since at least June 23, 2013, when Viganò told him about it. …
    ________________________________

    Liked by 1 person

  9. On McCain:

    News
    Sen. John McCain: Known as a veteran but also a man of quiet faith

    https://religionnews.com/2018/08/25/sen-john-mccain-known-as-a-veteran-but-also-a-man-of-quiet-faith/

    __________________________________

    … “For a few moments in his own campaign stop, he defended his opponent,” Mansfield recalled in a January 2018 interview. “He, like Reagan, has no problem speaking kindly of the other side and in personal terms.” …
    ____________________________________

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Re: the article about people wanting to go to church with others of the same political persuasion, and Debra’s comment –

    I happen to know that there is a mixture of political views in my church, from quite liberal to libertarian or moderate to quite conservative. But I only know these things from posts and comments on Facebook, not from any conversations at church. We don’t seem to discuss politics at church, which is a good thing.

    In my old church, it seemed to be assumed that we were all conservative. There may have been other views among us – probably were – but the assumption was that Christians are mostly conservatives. But even there, politics was not discussed from the pulpit. (Btw, I do not consider preaching against abortion, or about other “social issues”, to be political.) And if it were discussed at a pot luck or some other fellowship time, there was no rancor or argument.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. We’re also a bit of a mix, though probably mostly conservative — but we also do not really ‘do’ politics, thankfully. Applications from sermons can be made on the issues, of course. But you’d not even know an election was afoot every 2-4 years.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. ———-

    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/trump-nafta-announcement-mexico-trade-deal-today-live-updates-2018-08-27/

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  13. THIS is CNN.

    https://dailycaller.com/2018/08/27/cnn-new-mexico-compound-struggled/

    “CNN is being slammed for running a less-than-critical headline about the radical New Mexico compound family being accused of training children to commit school shootings.

    CNN wrote on Sunday that the family “struggled with life off the grid,” and noted in the article that one neighbor of the family remembered seeing “one of the men tenderly wip[ing] the nose of a crying child.”

    Prosecutors allege that the compound men, including the son of prominent Imam Siraj Wahhaj, were training children to commit school shootings and that the children were living in “filthy” and “appalling” conditions. Furthermore, the remains of Wahhaj’s missing 3-year-old grandson were found on the compound.

    CNN got a significant amount of backlash for the article and accompanying tweet that focused on the family’s “struggle” rather than the sickening allegations against them.”

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  14. Michelle is right. This is something that can have ramifications on Christianity and the ‘church’ as a whole (and yes, the Roman Catholic Church is within the historic Christian fold, though i’d agree the already off-kilter doctrine is showing no signs of righting itself and is, under this pope, appearing almost ready to fall off the cliff altogether).

    One of the stories I read said that there are far more gay priests than most of us have even thought — and it is shocking the way sexual activity among the priesthood (even among ‘consenting’ adults) is being winked at (if one can believe what’s being said of what is going on). How can they live with themselves?

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  15. Which is why a better way to be praying for the Roman Catholic Church right now may be for the church’s humility, repentance and drastic reform — and a willingness to clean house and re-examine how things got to this point — rather than for destruction.

    And then it’s in God’s hands however he chooses to deal with the mess.

    But yes, it reflects on Protestants in many people’s eyes as well, like it or not.

    We should not take any pleasure in what is unfolding.

    Liked by 3 people

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