April 13, 2016

The South shall rise again? Only this time it is not African American slaves, but members of the LGBT community who are the targets of prejudice and discrimination. North Carolina’s law preventing local governments from passing anti-gay legislation, and requiring people to use bathrooms according to the sex listed on their birth certificates, is one of many attempts to discriminate against gays and transgender people. So far, in reaction, Bruce Springsteen has cancelled a concert, and Paypal has cancelled plans to build a $3.6 million global operations center in NC. Other businesses are following these examples. The Tennessee legislature is considering legislation similar to that in NC. In Mississippi, the governor has signed a “religious liberty” law that uses religion as an excuse to discriminate against LGBT people. A similar bill passed the Georgia legislature, but when the NFL said they would not consider having a Super Bowl in Atlanta, and Walt Disney threatened to not film in the state, the Governor vetoed the legislation.

Georgia, Alabama and other states have passed voter identification laws that have the effect (and purpose) of limiting voting by minorities.

Other states in the old Confederacy have legislated onerous requirements for women to get abortions, based on misinformation about women’s health care.

Ancient prejudices, superstitions, and ignorance still hold large parts of the country from entering the modern world.

Pope Francis “gets it.” In a message titled Amoris Laetitia (Latin: “The Joy of Love”), he encourages clergy to be sympathetic and welcoming to gays, single parents, and cohabiting unmarried couples. Francis is not rejecting Catholic doctrine which emphasizes celibacy, and sees the procreation of children within a marriage of a man and a woman as the only justification for sex. He does see, however, the need to recognize the unique situations common in the modern world, to be less judgmental and more tolerant.

New York represents (almost) all the marbles for the Democratic candidates. Whoever wins the primary there on April 19 has a good chance to win the nomination in Philadelphia in July. Smart money is on Hillary who is 10 points ahead of Bernie in recent polls in NY, and is way ahead in delegates.

After Trump’s loss in Wisconsin last week, some people say that Cruz has finally stopped Trump’s march to the nomination. New York’s primary looks like it will be a walk for The Donald, but he has failed to expand his base beyond about 30% in the Republican Party. It is increasingly likely that no one will have the 1237 delegates needed to win the nomination by the time the Republican Convention meets in Cleveland. In a brokered convention, anything could happen.

“The man in the hat,” identified as Mohamed Abrini, one of the alleged perpetrators of the March 22 bombings in which 35 people were killed in Brussels, has been caught. About 18 others have been arrested in recent weeks in connection with the attacks in Paris and Brussels. Others are still being sought. One thing that is becoming obvious is the need for greater coordination of police across the European Union and the U.S.A. One the positive side, many believe that the recent attacks in Europe are a sign that ISIS is losing the initiative in the Middle East, and is resorting to desperate measures.

Ancient History: Bill Clinton’s impeachment as President of the United States in 1998 started as an investigation of Clinton’s extra-marital affairs by Republicans anxious to diminish his popularity and political power. The case in the House of Representatives was led by the Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, who was recently charged by federal prosecutors with sexual abuse of at least four boys while he was a high school gym coach. He pled guilty last year to illegal monetary transactions to pay off one of his victims to remain silent. He replaced the previous Speaker of the house, Bob Livingston, who resigned during the impeachment hearings when his own marital infidelities became known. Livingston, in turn, had replaced Newt Gingrich, who also had ethics issues, including extramarital affairs. Clinton was acquitted in his trial in the Senate, and ended his Presidency with the highest popular approval rating of any departing President since Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

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