Thursday, September 24, 2015

Last Call For Pope On A Hope

Pope Francis's remarks to Congress were, quite frankly, a challenge to do and be better people than they are now.  Makes sense, it would after all take a miracle for Congress not to be filled with amoral, greedy sacks of crap.  

Here I think of the political history of the United States, where democracy is deeply rooted in the mind of the American people. All political activity must serve and promote the good of the human person and be based on respect for his or her dignity. "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." If politics must truly be at the service of the human person, it follows that it cannot be a slave to the economy and finance. Politics is, instead, an expression of our compelling need to live as one, in order to build as one the greatest common good: that of a community which sacrifices particular interests in order to share, in justice and peace, its goods, its interests, its social life. I do not underestimate the difficulty that this involves, but I encourage you in this effort. 
Here too I think of the march which Martin Luther King led from Selma to Montgomery fifty years ago as part of the campaign to fulfill his "dream" of full civil and political rights for African Americans. That dream continues to inspire us all. I am happy that America continues to be, for many, a land of "dreams." Dreams which lead to action, to participation, to commitment. Dreams which awaken what is deepest and truest in the life of a people. 
In recent centuries, millions of people came to this land to pursue their dream of building a future in freedom. We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners. I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descended from immigrants. Tragically, the rights of those who were here long before us were not always respected. For those peoples and their nations, from the heart of American democracy, I wish to reaffirm my highest esteem and appreciation. Those first contacts were often turbulent and violent, but it is difficult to judge the past by the criteria of the present. Nonetheless, when the stranger in our midst appeals to us, we must not repeat the sins and the errors of the past. We must resolve now to live as nobly and as justly as possible, as we educate new generations not to turn their back on our "neighbors" and everything around us. Building a nation calls us to recognize that we must constantly relate to others, rejecting a mind-set of hostility in order to adopt one of reciprocal subsidiarity, in a constant effort to do our best. I am confident that we can do this. 
Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War. This presents us with great challenges and many hard decisions. On this continent, too, thousands of persons are led to travel north in search of a better life for themselves and for their loved ones, in search of greater opportunities. Is this not what we want for our own children? We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation. To respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal. We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome. Let us remember the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." 
This Rule points us in a clear direction. Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves. In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us. The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.

And the best part is a week from now, the federal government will be shut down because not a single frigging Republican actually listened to the man.

Welcome To Wakanda, Mr. Coates

You guys know I love comics, and I love Ta-Nehisi Coates's writing, so when you put the two together, things get incredible.

Ta-Nehisi Coates can be identified in many ways: as a national correspondent for The Atlantic, as an author and, as of this month, as a nominee for the National Book Award’s nonfiction prize. But Mr. Coates also has a not-so-secret identity, as evidenced by some of his Atlantic blog posts and his Twitter feed: Marvel Comics superfan. 
So it seems only natural that Marvel has asked Mr. Coates to take on a new Black Panther series set to begin next spring. Writing for that comics publisher is a childhood dream that, despite the seeming incongruity, came about thanks to his day job. “The Atlantic is a pretty diverse place in terms of interest, but there are no comics nerds,” besides himself, Mr. Coates said in an interview.
His passions intersected in May, during the magazine’s New York Ideas seminar, he interviewed Sana Amanat, a Marvel editor, about diversity and inclusion in comic books. Ms. Amanat led the creation of the new Ms. Marvel, a teenage Muslim girl living in Jersey City, based on some of her own childhood experiences. 
“It was a fruitful discussion,” he recalled. 
After that event, Marvel reached out, paired Mr. Coates with an editor, and discussions about the comic began. The renewed focus on Black Panther is no surprise. Created in 1966, he is the first black superhero and hails from Wakanda, a fictional African country. 
“He has the baddest costume in comics and is a dude who is smarter and better than everyone,” said Axel Alonso, the editor in chief of Marvel. The character not only adds to the diversity of Marvel’s comics; he will do it for their films too: Black Panther is set to make his big-screen debut next year in “Captain America: Civil War,” followed by a solo feature in 2018.

I will pre-order the hell out of this, and I cannot wait to get my hands on the series.  Congratulations to Coates and to Marvel as well.

Online And On Point

I know I've given Alison Lundergan Grimes a deservedly hard time for being a terrible Senate candidate and losing to Mitch the Turtle by 16 points, but she's still Secretary of State and in charge of running elections, and on-line voting registration for Kentucky is a big, big deal.

Kentuckians will be able to register to vote online, possibly in time for the next presidential election, Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes announced Tuesday. 
Standing outside the League of Women Voters’ Louisville office, Grimes touted the “transformational change” as a way to generate more registered voters in the state. Grimes said funds for the project are available through the federal Help America Vote Act, and her office estimated the program’s cost at $45,000. 
Grimes said the initiative has support from past Kentucky secretaries of state, the Presidential Commission on Election Administration and the Republican National Lawyers Association. Twenty-three states currently offer online voter registration, and five others and the District of Columbia have passed such measures but have not yet implemented them, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

This is again, a big deal here and Grimes gets a lot of credit.  Easy, on-line voting registration will be too late to help for the state races this year, but could play a part in turnout for 2016's Presidential, Senate, and House contests here.

Kentucky’s move toward an online voter registration system comes after a similar measure, House Bill 214, failed to get a Senate committee vote in this year’s session. HB 214 cleared the House on a 92-3 vote. 
The Kentucky State Board of Elections, which Grimes chairs, crafted an administrative regulation enacting an online voter registration portal, which cleared the Administrative Regulation Review Subcommittee on a 4-3 vote in July, according to a report by the Lexington Herald-Leader. 
“We actually made sure in the event our General Assembly stalled as sometimes they often do, we were prepared,” Grimes said. “This is an initiative that the voters of Kentucky are demanding, and it’s made its way through the administrative regulation process, now effective law. Kentucky can’t wait any longer. We’re finally entering the 21st century as it relates to election administration thanks to the diligence and hard work of my staff and the State Board of Elections.”

The one downside is that should Grimes lose to Republican Steve Knipper in November, I'm betting Knipper will immediately shelve the project.  Republicans don't want more people voting, ever.  They lose when that happens, and even Kentucky Republicans are smart enough to know that.

Something that makes it easier to vote?  No way.


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