Congress Passes Violence Against Women Act

Includes the provisions covering LGBT women and immigrants and expanding the jurisdictions of Native American tribal courts to crimes committed by non-Indians. Not a moment too soon.

President Obama is expected to sign the bill.

Hillary Clinton Is Running for President, OK?

It is time to stop pretending to be surprised at reports that Clinton is running for president. “Hillary will be our next president and she will be a great one,” [campaign donor Angelo] Tsakopoulos said last weekend at a private California banquet, the Greek Reporter says. "I talked to her husband, and he confirmed it. She will run.” He even had campaign staffing specifics, saying his daughter, Eleni Tsakopoulos-Kounalakis, will be a Clinton aide during the campaign.

As additional persuasion, see this timeline of Barack Obama’s dance toward campaigning.

I’m going to go on record now and say that if Clinton runs, we’ll have to invent a new word for “landslide”.

Only Two Authorities

On inauguration day, Mark Driscoll published this tweet:

Praying for our president, who today will place his hand on a Bible he does not believe to take an oath to a God he likely does not know.

My mental response when I read this was unprintable, but the Rev. Emily C. Heath, blogging at The Huffington Post, is, fortunately, much more gracious:

If Barack Obama says he is a Christian, if he confesses his faith in Christ, that’s where the conversation ends. The same is true for George W. Bush, or Franklin D. Roosevelt, or even Mark Driscoll.

There is a difference between saying to someone “my understanding of Christian faith is different from yours on this issue” and saying “we don’t believe the same thing, so you must not be a Christian.” I often disagreed with George W. Bush’s actions, and struggled to reconcile them with my understanding of Christian faith, but I refused to speculate on the sincerity of his faith. That’s not my place. And I’ve had it done far too often in my life to turn around and do it to others.

Four More Years

The people of the United States have, by both the popular and electoral counts, re-elected Barack Obama to be our President. Congratulations to the President on a successful campaign; I will watch his second term with considerable interest.

In other election news the Republican party lost some elections because of inaccurate and insensitive rape commentary, Wisconsin elected the country’s first openly-gay Senator, Maine, Maryland, and Washington voted to legalize gay marriage while Minnesota rejected a constitutional amendment to the contrary, and Colorado and Washington voted to legalize marijuana for recreational use.

Pre-Blaming it on the Gays

However much damage Hurricane Sandy turns out to do, we’ve already got someone claiming it’s [almost] all the fault of our country’s persistent rebellion against God as exemplified by the fact that we haven’t… I don’t know… killed all the gay people?

In a wordy and occasionally rambling blog on his website, chaplain John McTernan seems to link Hurricane Sandy (and a number of other recent weather-related trends and natural disasters) on LGBT people and President Barack Obama’s recent backing of marriage equality. While most of McTernan’s wrath is directed at Obama, he has some choice words for GOP candidate Mitt Romney, too.

So I guess we can let them live as long as we don’t let them get married.

How Team Obama Justifies the Killing of a 16-Year-Old American

It baffles me that more people—like roughly everyone—aren’t angry about this.

Obama Mandates Anti-Trafficking Measures

Good for the President:

The order, which came as part of an effort Obama announced in remarks on Tuesday to the Clinton Global Initiative in New York, bars federal contractors, subcontractors or their employees from engaging in trafficking-related practices such as misleading recruitment, charging recruitment fees or destroying an employee’s identification documents.

Michelle Obama Kills it at the DNC

It really was an impressive speech. I found myself agreeing with nearly every word, even when I knew the sentiment was shorthand for policies I oppose.

I came away chiefly thinking about how much I like Barack Obama the man, despite disagreeing with nearly every aspect of his governance.

Thanks to Dave McCall for the link and prompting me to include it here.

"It Would Be Hypocritical to Pretend Civility"

Rick Warren has canceled his planned repeat of 2008’s moderated forum between the two front-running presidential candidates, despite favorable circumstances:

“The forum was praised for its unique format and fairness,” Warren said Wednesday while announcing a decision not to hold the forum. “Also, the TV networks were eager to cover it again since it garnered one of the largest viewing audiences of that election. I talked with both campaigns about the possibility of doing it again, and they were both favorable to participating.”

Warren cites a pattern of incivility that has marked the campaigns of both Romney and Obama. Props to Warren for turning down what I assume would have been significant revenue from the TV rights, but I’m not sure I like his alternate plan:

“The constitution doesn’t just guarantee your freedom to worship; it guarantees you freedom from government intervention in you daily living out what you believe. That’s why we’ve chosen to host a civil forum on religious freedom in September instead of the presidential forum. It’s a fight for the constitution, not a personality.”

On the one hand, I’m a big fan of religious freedom, and Warren does plan to invite representatives from all three Abrahamic religions, but I don’t know that I buy into his belief in “widespread attempts to redefine the First Amendment”.