The Common Good

God's Politics

The Morning News: Wednesday Nov. 9, 2011

New regulations increase accountability and boost quality in Head Start programs. Economic statements from the GOP presidential contenders. "Occupy" groups plan march from New York City to Washington, D.C. Our expensive, expanding nuclear weapons complex. Evangelicals call for nuclear cutbacks. Mississippi rejects abortion amendment. Ohio repeals anti-union law. And is Occupy Wall Street overshadowing itself?

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Justice Delayed? Death Penalty for California Salon Massacre May Mean Waiting for a Generation

Tony Rackauckas, Orange County District Attorney, held a press conference to announce his intent to seek the death penalty for Scott Dekraai, who killed his ex-wife and seven others at Salon Meritage in Seal Beach on Oct. 12.
“There are some cases that are so depraved, so callous, so malignant that there is only one punishment that might have any chance of fitting the crime," said Rackauckas. “When a person, in a case like this, goes on a rampage and kills innocent people in an indiscriminate bloody massacre, I will of course seek the death penalty.”

He added, “This is the only way our society can get anything approaching justice for the victims, their families, the town of Seal Beach, and the larger community.”

If justice means putting Dekraai on a gurney and executing him, the victims, their families and everyone else hoping for that outcome should face the cold hard fact that they are in for a long wait.

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Six Reasons Why Mississippians Said No to "Personhood"

In January, I sat in the lobby of a Washington, DC hotel with a group looking for ideas on how to defeat Personhood. My advice, partly, based on my experiences with races in the South, polling data and my personal knowledge as a native Mississippian was to assume its passage, run a singularly grassroots operation and craft a campaign that would look beyond Election Day. Fortunately, I did suggest a flexible campaign with data collection and growth capacity in case the unexpected happened and defeating the measure came into play.

The unexpected happened. Mississippians defeated "Personhood" driving a stake in the heart of a movement that was planning on sweeping, state by state, through the nation.

Why did they lose in arguably the most conservative state in the Union? Why did the anti-Personhood forces win a majority of the vote in Mississippi?

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Christian Perspectives on Social Justice Issues: Abortion

Yesterday (Nov. 8), Mississippi voters defeated Ballot Measure 26, "the Personhood Amendment," which would have granted the status of legal person to a fertilized egg. The measure effectively would have outlawed abortion in all circumstances within the state, deeming it murder. It would have made the protection of the mother's life a criminal offense, if that protection risked the life of the fertilized egg.

There were lots of points of controversy over this measure. It was so extreme that even the Catholic Bishops denounced it. For me the most haunting question was this: "Who would it harm most?" My conclusion: families -- especially poor ones. When mothers -- especially poor ones -- die of complications in childbirth, families fold.

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Human Circles of Protection: 16, 23, 24 is the Combination to Guard the Needy Against Budget Cuts

On November 23, the Congressional Super Committee appointed to reduce the national deficit must decide where to cut $1.2 trillion from the federal budget.
Many of their proposed cuts the Super Committee is contemplating strike fear in my soul -- a visceral forboding of injustice.

That's because the proposed billion-dollar cuts will affect after school tutoring programs, job training for unemployed adults, Head Start and child care programs, energy grants that help low-income families afford heat and many other programs that benefit the least of those among us.

It is for this reason that many organizers, parents, students, community leaders and people of faith will assemble across the nation at noon (in every time zone) on November 16 to form human circles of protection around the buildings of organizations and agencies that have dedicated their lives to helping the poor and are in jeopardy of losing essential funding from the federal government.

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The Top 10 Stories of November 9, 2011

Quote of the day.
"We are taking care of people who are most in need at a time they're far away. We've had some soldiers deployed four and five times." - Father Donald Rutherford, U.S. Army chief of chaplains, on the role of military chaplains. 
(Catholic News Service)

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Dr. Billy Graham at 93: "The Father's Love," This Child's Gratitude

In the photograph, Dr. Graham is seated in a wooden chair, dressed casually in dungaree-blue slacks, an open-collar shirt and red sportcoat, and he looks straight ahead, his face in profile to the camera lens. “America’s Pastor,” as he is often called, is looking into the distance, to a place out of frame – his gaze fixed on something we cannot see.

I cherish that photograph of Dr. Graham for myriad reasons, but perhaps most importantly because it reminds me of the gift of vision – spiritual vision – to see things that are not of the physical realm. A sacred and holy perspective. An orientation of the heart and mind that looks beyond itself, to the More.

A vision of faith – the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not yet seen – and colored by grace, mercy and divine love.

Dr. Graham has such a vision – a mighty gift he has shared with the world for more than six decades. A gift he imparted to me as a child, sitting in the balcony of an old auditorium at Yale University in my native Connecticut in the mid-1980s, watching him preach during one of his famous crusades.

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Links of Awesomeness: Tuesday Nov. 8, 2011

Flying rhinoceri. Wordless storytelling. A religious culture of hip. And much more.

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The Afternoon News: Tuesday Nov. 8, 2011

Oppression is not a state right. OpEd: Twenty-five years after Reagan's "Amnesty Bill," conservatives should support increased immigration. A new survey says strong majority of Americans would be better off if our distribution of wealth were more equitable. Environmental activist Bill McKibben says surrounding the White House on Sunday was an "historic step" in stopping the Keystone XL pipeline. Obama mulls siding with Christians, environmentalists or the unions in tar sands debate. And nearly a third of U.S. homes are underwater (figuratively.)



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The Morning News: Tuesday Nov. 8, 2011

Human trafficking and sex slavery thrives in the U.S. and abroad. Census Bureau measure more Americans living in poverty. Debate brews over new method of measuring poverty. Poll finds voters deeply torn. Faith important in 2012 presidential election, but skepticism about Mormonism remains. Health tab for climate change: $14 billion. What do the Copts mean for Arab Spring?

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