John Kerry’s Iran Letter

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WASHINGTON — The recent letter from 47 Republican senators to the leaders of Iran is an “irresponsible” gambit that breaks with more than two centuries of U.S. foreign policy history, Secretary of State John Kerry argued Wednesday in a hearing on Capitol Hill.

The letter, organized by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), concerns the ongoing negotiations between the U.S., several of its partner nations and Iran aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear program. The letter claims to offer a basic lesson in how the U.S. Constitution works, and warns leaders in Tehran that any deal that results from the negotiations will not necessarily be binding, could be modified at any time by Congress and might be discarded entirely by the next president.

The letter — which actually features a number of errors regarding the Constitution — has been widely seen as an attempt to sabotage the ongoing talks by eroding Iranian leaders’ trust in the United States.

Kerry, testifying before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Wednesday, said he viewed the senators’ letter as a shocking, unprecedented attempt to circumvent the nation’s commander in chief.

“My reaction to the letter was utter disbelief,” Kerry said when asked about it by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.).

“You write to the leaders in the middle of a negotiation — particularly the leaders that they have criticized other people for even engaging with or writing to — to write then and suggest they were going to give a constitutional lesson, which by the way was absolutely incorrect, is quite stunning,” he went on.

Kerry noted that presidents often do create binding agreements with foreign governments on all manner of issues without congressional approval.

“This letter ignores more than two centuries of precedent in the conduct of American foreign policy,” said Kerry, adding that the suggestion that lawmakers would be willing to undo any presidential agreements “risks undermining the confidence that foreign governments in thousands of important agreements commit to between the United States and other countries.”

“It purports to tell the world that if you want to have any confidence in your dealings with America, they have to negotiate with 535 members of Congress,” he said. “That is both untrue and a profoundly bad suggestion to make.”

Kerry had more to say, but committee Chairman Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) cut the secretary off, chastising Kerry for delivering a “speech.” Corker himself did not sign the letter.

Kerry replied that he wasn’t delivering a speech.

Cotton has said he does not want any deal with Iran unless it involves complete abandonment of the nuclear program. He stood by his position Wednesday with an op-ed in USA Today, declaring that it was his responsibility to make Iran aware that Congress would not necessarily back an agreement.

“If the president won’t share our role in the process with his negotiating partner, we won’t hesitate to do it ourselves,” Cotton wrote.

Michael McAuliff covers Congress and politics for The Huffington Post. Talk to himon Facebook.

WASHINGTON — The recent letter from 47 Republican senators to the leaders of Iran is an “irresponsible” gambit that breaks with more than two centuries of U.S. foreign policy history, Secretary of State John Kerry argued Wednesday in a hearing on Capitol Hill.

The letter, organized by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), concerns the ongoing negotiations between the U.S., several of its partner nations and Iran aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear program. The letter claims to offer a basic lesson in how the U.S. Constitution works, and warns leaders in Tehran that any deal that results from the negotiations will not necessarily be binding, could be modified at any time by Congress and might be discarded entirely by the next president.

The letter — which actually features a number of errors regarding the Constitution — has been widely seen as an attempt to sabotage the ongoing talks by eroding Iranian leaders’ trust in the United States.

Kerry, testifying before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Wednesday, said he viewed the senators’ letter as a shocking, unprecedented attempt to circumvent the nation’s commander in chief.

“My reaction to the letter was utter disbelief,” Kerry said when asked about it by Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.).

“You write to the leaders in the middle of a negotiation — particularly the leaders that they have criticized other people for even engaging with or writing to — to write then and suggest they were going to give a constitutional lesson, which by the way was absolutely incorrect, is quite stunning,” he went on.

Kerry noted that presidents often do create binding agreements with foreign governments on all manner of issues without congressional approval.

“This letter ignores more than two centuries of precedent in the conduct of American foreign policy,” said Kerry, adding that the suggestion that lawmakers would be willing to undo any presidential agreements “risks undermining the confidence that foreign governments in thousands of important agreements commit to between the United States and other countries.”

“It purports to tell the world that if you want to have any confidence in your dealings with America, they have to negotiate with 535 members of Congress,” he said. “That is both untrue and a profoundly bad suggestion to make.”

Kerry had more to say, but committee Chairman Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) cut the secretary off, chastising Kerry for delivering a “speech.” Corker himself did not sign the letter.

Kerry replied that he wasn’t delivering a speech.

“This is a statement about the impact of this irresponsible letter,” Kerry said. “I think you have to ask what people are trying to accomplish. The author of the letter says he doesn’t want these agreements to be made.”

Cotton has said he does not want any deal with Iran unless it involves complete abandonment of the nuclear program. He stood by his position Wednesday with an op-ed in USA Today, declaring that it was his responsibility to make Iran aware that Congress would not necessarily back an agreement.

“If the president won’t share our role in the process with his negotiating partner, we won’t hesitate to do it ourselves,” Cotton wrote.

Michael McAuliff covers Congress and politics for The Huffington Post. Talk to himon Facebook.

http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/pfaw-calls-rnc-cancel-hate-group-funded-israel-trip

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The American Family Association can best be defined as a group of American Fundamentalist Christian Troublemakers!

http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/pfaw-calls-rnc-cancel-hate-group-funded-israel-trip.

Tupelo Liberal Spotlighting The Dark Side Of Tupelo, MS

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On yesterday’s broadcast of the “Today’s Issues” radio program, American Family Association president Tim Wildmon voiced his displeasure with those “ignorant people” who claim that Islam and Christianity are both “peaceful religions.”

As Wildmon sees it, Christianity is very obviously a peaceful religion while Islam very obviously is not and so anyone who attempts to equate the two does so either out of ignorance or intentional deceit because, unlike the Quran, there is nothing in the Bible that calls for non-believers to be put to death.

“The Quran has explicit admonitions or instructions for followers of Allah to do violence and harm against the infidel,” Wildmon fumed. “There’s nothing like that in the Bible, that tells the Christian to go out and decapitate the infidel”:

This makes us wonder if Wildmon has ever read the Bible, especially Deuteronomy 13:6 If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods that neither you nor your ancestors have known, 7 gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), 8 do not yield to them or listen to them. Show them no pity. Do not spare them or shield them. 9 You must certainly put them to death. Your hand must be the first in putting them to death, and then the hands of all the people. 10 Stone them to death, because they tried to turn you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 11-Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and no one among you will do such an evil thing again.12- If you hear it said about one of the towns the Lord your God is giving you to live in-13 that troublemakers have arisen among you and have led the people of their town astray, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods you have not known), -14 then you must inquire, probe and investigate it thoroughly. And if it is true and it has been proved that this detestable thing has been done among you, 15- you must certainly put to the sword all who live in that town. You must destroy it completely, both its people and its livestock. 16- You are to gather all the plunder of the town into the middle of the public square and completely burn the town and all its plunder as a whole burnt offering to the Lord your God. That town is to remain a ruin forever, never to be rebuilt.

– See more at: http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/tim-wildmon-insists-there-nothing-bible-calling-infidels-be-put-death#sthash.qN746EcI.dpuf

Christian Right Undermines Marriage Equality With Religious Supremacism

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Article by Frederick Clarkson, PRA, Oct. 29, 2014. Re-posted to In Perspective by Al Bratton, Nov. 11, 2014.

Link: http://www.politicalresearch.org/2014/10/29/christian-right-undermines-marriage-equality-with-religious-supremacism/

Part 1.

As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., once said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” That vision of history’s progression has been well illustrated by the past year’s landslide of advances for marriage equality.  And as we move closer to a more just society, the nature of the opposition is revealed in the nature of the backlash.

“The Christian Right has been operating on multiple fronts to stop—or at least limit—the scope of the advance of marriage equality, including seeking to enable business owners, civil workers, and elected officials to openly discriminate against LGBTQ couples by co-opting the progressive principle of religious liberty.   The most dramatic example of this is in Mississippi, where recently passed Religious Freedom Restoration Act authorizes just such discrimination by businesses—and is being challenged in federal court.”

“As the case proceeds, we may hear more about one of the most remarkable marriage equality victories in the landslide of federal court victories this year. General Synod of the United Church of Christ v. Cooper.”

“The United Church of Christ, whose origins go back to Plymouth Rock, won a stunning victory for both marriage equality and religious liberty when they overturned North Carolina’s ban on same-sex marriage. The federal judge ruled (PDF) that the state could not criminalize the role of clergy in solemnizing the same-sex unions of members of their congregations. “It is clear,” U.S. District Court Judge Max Cogburn declared, “ … that North Carolina laws … threatening to penalize those who would solemnize such marriages, are unconstitutional.”

“Judge Cogburn’s ruling underscores that religious liberty is only possible in the context of religious pluralism—in which all religious and non-religious points of view have equal standing under the law. It also helps to clarify that when Christian Right leaders talk about religious liberty—they often really mean theocratic religious supremacism.”

“Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, took to the airwaves after the filing of UCC’s suit to claim that the church is not really Christian, and that those who support gay rights don’t have the same rights as conservative Christians—because ‘true religious freedom’ only applies to ‘orthodox religious viewpoints.’” ”

**********************************************

Part 2.

“Perkins’ blunt statements are a sobering reminder that theocratic factions of the U.S. Right have long sought to regain the religious and political hegemony they lost when the Constitution was ratified in the 18th century.  The arc of the moral universe is not bending their way, and demagogues like Perkins are abusing the idea of religious liberty to beat down people with whom they religiously and politically disagree.”

[…]

“We didn’t bring this lawsuit to make others conform to our beliefs, but to vindicate the right of all faiths to freely exercise their religious practices,” said Donald C. Clark Jr., general counsel of the United Church of Christ.”

“The historic wins for marriage equality and our willingness to seek justice through the courts,” said president Michael D. Castle of the Alliance of Baptists, “not only places us as a leading witness for justice, but also allows the Alliance of Baptists to offer a powerful and prophetic witness to a Christian faith where love always trumps fear, and where the welcome of Jesus always trumps hate and archaic religious dogma.

“The Alliance of Baptists—progressives who fled the fundamentalist takeover of the Southern Baptist Convention in the ‘80s— and the Central Conference of American Rabbis signed onto the UCC suit as co-plaintiffs, along with a number of individual clergy from a variety of religious traditions.”

“Depriving rabbis of the freedom to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies in North Carolina,’ Rabbi Steven Fox, Chief Executive of the Conference stated, ‘stigmatizes our religious beliefs and relegates many of our congregants and community members to second-class status.'”

“’There is no more central tenet to our faith,’ added Fox and several other Reform rabbis in the wake of the Windsor decision of the Supreme Court last year, ‘than the notion that all human beings are created in the image of the Divine, and, as such, entitled to equal treatment and equal opportunity… Thanks to the Court’s decision, the federal government will now recognize these marriages as well, while still respecting the rights and views of those faith traditions that choose not to sanctify such marriages.’

“No one speaks for all of Christianity, let alone all people of faith. But there are certainly authentic spokespeople for religious liberty. Let’s not allow the Christian Right to drown them out or shout them down.”

Christians Freak Out After City Subpoenas Sermons in Anti-HERO Lawsuit | Houston Press

Christians Freak Out After City Subpoenas Sermons in Anti-HERO Lawsuit | Houston Press. article debunking cal thomas dj artiicle

In a tone-deaf moment of legal strategy, the City of Houston last month sent local pastors critical of the city’s anti-discrimination ordinance sweeping subpoenas for notes and sermons.

The move comes in a lawsuit challenging the City of Houston for throwing out a petition from anti-HERO (Houston Equal Rights Ordinance) Christians that sought to repeal the law and put it to a ballot referendum. In their vociferous opposition to the ordinance, which bans anti-gay discrimination (with an exemption for religious organizations), religious-right groups were most riled up about the provision allowing transgender people barred from a restroom to file a complaint with the city. In circulating their petition, the group — led, in part, by Jared Woodfill, former Harris County Republican Party chairman — claimed that the ordinance threatens “the physical and emotional safety of our women and children!”

But last month’s subpoenas by the City of Houston, which only came to light this past week when attorneys filed a motion to quash the request, weren’t lobbed at any of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the city. The subpoenas targeted pastors who have been vocal critics of the anti-discrimination ordinance, including Hernan Castano, Magda Hermida, Khan Huynh, Steve Riggle, and David Welch.

And the subpoenas were far reaching. Among other documents, the city asked the pastors to turn over records related to…

— Mayor Annise Parker, City Attorney David Feldman, HERO or any HERO drafts, and any copies or drafts for the petition to repeal the ordinance
— Anything related to “the topics of equal rights, civil rights, homosexuality, or gender identity”
— Any language related to restroom access or “any discussion about whether or how HERO does or does not impact restroom access”
— Communication with anyone at the religious right group Alliance Defending Freedom, which has criticized the ordinance
— AND (here’s the kicker) “all speeches, presentation, or sermons related to HERO, the Petition, Mayor Annise Parker, homosexuality, or gender identity prepared by, delivered by, revised by, or approved by your or in your possession.”

On Tuesday, Feldman took a tough stance when he talked to the Chron‘s Katherine Driessen. Feldman (neither he nor the mayor’s office returned our calls) referred to a video that surfaced this summer, showing Welch, pastor of Bear Creek Church and director of the Houston Area Pastor Council, leading his flock through the anti-HERO petition signature-gathering process. “If someone is speaking from the pulpit and it’s political speech, then it’s not going to be protected,” Feldman told the daily.

Cue the religious right backlash, and claims from the Alliance Defending Freedom – which is representing the pastors, and has asked a judge to quash the city’s request – that the City of Houston, led by its first lesbian mayor, is infringing on the rights of religious groups. Attorney General and frontrunner for governor Greg Abbott asked Feldman to “immediately withdraw” the request. The Chron’s editorial board, which has supported the equal rights ordinance, called the subpoenas “Orwellian.” U.S. Senate blowhard Ted Cruz jumped in, saying Mayor Parker “should be ashamed.”

Russel Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission,wrote: “A government has no business using subpoena power to intimidate or bully the preaching and instruction of any church, any synagogue, any mosque, or any other place of worship. The pastors of Houston should tell the government that they will not trample over consciences, over the First Amendment and over God-given natural rights.”

Feldman and Parker have since softened their tone (sort of), blaming the overly-broad subpoena on one of Houston’s highest-priced law firms, Susman Godfrey, L.L.P., which is helping represent the city in the anti-HERO lawsuit and apparently filed the subpoenas. And on Wednesday, Feldman narrowed the subpoena to any communications the pastors had specifically regarding the petition process.

The Horror Before the Beheadings

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by Rukmini Callimachi, Oct. 25, 2014, NY Times.

As a human rights advocate, I want to share this moving human interest story with the Tupelo Daily Journal readers.–Al Bratton, ABratt’s Perspectives

Callimachi: “The hostages were taken out of their cell one by one.

In a private room, their captors asked each of them three intimate questions, a standard technique used to obtain proof that a prisoner is still alive in a kidnapping

James Foley returned to the cell he shared with nearly two dozen other Western hostages and collapsed in tears of joy.” […]

link

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/26/world/middleeast/horror-before-the-beheadings-what-isis-hostages-endured-in-syria.html

Louie Gohmert: Gays Shouldn’t Serve In The Military Because Massages Will Make Them Vulnerable To Terrorism | Right Wing Watch

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So This Is What Some People Call Christianity? Louie Gohmert. I would call it the “Christian-Right Taliban On Parade!”

What a Damn Joke on Mankind!

Read more Link: Louie Gohmert: Gays Shouldn’t Serve In The Military Because Massages Will Make Them Vulnerable To Terrorism | Right Wing Watch.

 

 

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