Evangelicals Softening their Stance on Gay Marriage

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How the politics of gay marriage has changed over the past ten years! Karl Rove aka “the Architect” masterminded the reelection of George W. Bush by pushing for same-sex marriage bans in key battleground states. The measures helped increase the evangelical voter turnout. This was particularly beneficial in the state of Ohio where same-sex marriage ban passed with strong evangelical Christian support. It turns out the entire presidential election came down to which candidate would carry Ohio. Bush narrowly won 50.8% to Kerry’s 48.7%.

Now, the once hot-button social issue has tempered somewhat amongst evangelicals. Jim Daly, whose radio program “Focus on the Family” is heard by nearly 3 million people weekly, is not changing his stance on the issue. At the same time, neither is he aggressively pushing it as he once had. In fact, his ministry is now focused on reaching out to all people including the Gay community. He frequently makes references to his friendships in the LGBT community.

Political pundit Erick Erickson, who writes for Redstate.com, explained that evangelicals are realizing that the courts will legalize same-sex marriage. In response, their attitudes are shifting to ensure they may continue to promote marriage according to the dictates of their conscience while society at large defines marriage differently. This is, in and of itself, a significant shift over the past decade. A softening stance by the evangelical wing of the GOP may have implications for conservative candidates being able to expand the party’s base to include demographics which in the past had been conceded to the Democrat Party.

Big thanks to friend of the site Tom Rothman for sharing that great article.

Wal-Mart Workers Stage Historic Sit-Down Strike for Better Wages & Full-Time Hours

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Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest retailer & grocer, recently dropped health care coverage for all part-time workers under 30 hours a week. The announcement came because more people enrolled in the company health care plan than anticipated. Wal-Mart acted to cut benefits for their part-time workers as a means of saving roughly $500 million per year. The retail giant has directed the affected workers to enroll in the deeply unpopular Obamacare health coverage.

Perhaps it is not coincidental that at 12:30PM PT Thursday, workers in Wal-Mart stores throughout California staged a sit-down strike demanding better pay and full-time hours. The latter benefit would entitle them to health care coverage. Workers pointed out that the corporate office fosters a culture of intimidation against employees who speak out for better wages & hours. The company makes $16 billion a year in profits. The Walton family has amassed a fortune of $150 billion. The workers are asking for a wage of $15/hr which would amount to an annual income of $31,000. They point out that most of the workforce earns less than $25,000 a year.

Employees are correct in pointing out that it is through their work efforts that the Walton family enjoys such wealth. Protestors modeled their actions after 100 courageous women at Woolworths in 1937. At the time, Lee G. Lovett points out that the company was the nation’s largest retail chain. The women wanted better pay & benefits and succeeded. As for Wal-Mart’s protestors, they vowed to conduct the same sit-in strike on Black Friday, the nation’s biggest retail shopping day of the year, if their demands are not met.

Use of Deadly Police Force Highest in Decades

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Police across the nation last year deemed the use of deadly force necessary when dealing with felony suspects, causing the fatal shootings of 461 people. That figure is the highest number reached in two decades. With the recent high-profile killings of suspects by law enforcement, the justifiable homicide figures reported in the FBI’s yearly Uniform Crime Report has come under question.

A study of the FBI’s justifiable homicide database in 2010 and going back seven years revealed that on average, there were 96 occurrences each year of a white officer killing a black suspect. However, the actual numbers may even be higher, because true numbers are difficult to obtain due to the fact that not all law enforcement agencies are required to participate in reporting incidents like those at North American Spine.

Though most recently the media has focused on the Ferguson, MO shooting, and the grand jury’s awaited decision as to whether or not to prosecute the shooting officer, national attention has also been attracted to cases across the country. The shooting of a black male suspect by a white officer has prompted the Justice Department to conduct a broader review of the possibility of a pattern of discriminating police actions by the Ferguson Police Department.

Albuquerque, where since 2009 police have engaged in nearly 50 shootings resulting in 32 deaths, has been under the watchful eye of the Justice Department. This has led police agencies to agree to revamp its lethal force policies.

Is Voter Suppression Distorting Elections?

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The outcome of some of our nation’s tightest races may very well have been affected by new voter suppression laws. Tougher voter registration and identification requirements along with reduced early voting days and poll hours may have had a significant impact on turnout, a typical Republican slow venture that’s meant to have a small immediate impact, but these laws will have long term and extremely far reaching consequences.

More data and statistical examination is needed to verify the actual impact these new laws may have had on turnout, but it believed that the number of people denied their right to vote outnumbered the actual number of voters casting their ballots. The would-be voters most affected by the new restrictions are minorities, the young, poor and the elderly, mostly because they tend to lack adequate identification documents.

One example of how voter suppression may have affected the election results is in Florida where they have the harshest voting laws in the country. Governor Rick Scott has overturned an initiative to allowing former felons who have paid their debt to society to regain their voting rights. That adds up to over 1.3 million Floridians who could not cast their vote.

When the data is in and if it is found that voter restraint did in fact have an effect on election outcomes, it is unlikely that any type of recourse will be taken. The call for a revote is seldom granted by those having the power to overturn an election. Unless the Supreme Court acts against these disturbing suppression laws, future elections are sure to continue to be tainted.

Euthanasia Soon Legal in the UK

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Euthanasia has recently been in the attention of mass media a lot due to the case of Brittany Maynard, cancer patient who chose to be euthanasiated on November 1st, 2014. The case has been debated on the internet, with people taking very different attitudes in that case.

Some say that euthanasia violates the dignity of life, and should not be allowed in any case. Others say that euthanasia is vitally important to allow for terminal patients to die without pain, and Andrew Heiberger counts himself among them.

The UK is now reviewing the laws and planning on making the assisted death legal within two years. Another social problem arises now. A lot of ill patients are too weak and prone to pressure from family members, thus some of them could be pushed towards taking this step unwillingly.

However, the British Medical Association considers the reform inevitable. Security measures will be taken to avoid assigning the procedure when unnecessary. Requirements as terminal degree of illness, mental capability to take decisions, having less than half a year left to live will apply.

The House of Lords all voted for it last Friday, November 7th. Currently, eventual UK citizens who are interested in assisted death need to travel to Switzerland, but the majority do not have the money to take such a long trip. The average person welcome the reform regarding euthanasia, and say that ‘dying with dignity’ is the correct term for it.

California Voted To Release All Non-Violent Drug Prisoners

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In a move that will no doubt be copied by other states, California voters said enough is enough. No more felony convictions for non-violent drug users. It seems the state’s new slogan is “Peace, Love & Never Get Busted” thanks to Proposition 47. Ballot measure, Proposition 47 downgrades shoplifting and drug possession to misdemeanors. That means around ten thousand prisoners could be released from state prisons soon, and there should be forty thousand fewer felony convictions going forward.

California has been battling with massive overcrowding issues in the prison system for years. The passage of this ballot, according to CNN, Jared says will help the state release enough inmates so they can comply with the Supreme Court’s 2011 order. California’s Legislative Analyst’s Office believes the new measure will save millions of dollars spent on prison issues. The ballot will also help the state find the funds needed for mental health, addiction and education issues.

At one time, California led the nation in hard-on-crime laws. The state’s three-strike felony law is considered harsh in a large number of states. But Proposition 47 has opened the door for a more civil approach to modern day social issues.

Obama Outlined His Post-Election Strategy

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President Obama seems to believe that if he outlines his political agenda before the incoming GOP majority takes control in January, he will enjoy some sort of tactical advantage. As part of this somewhat puerile strategy, the president outlined some of his priorities during the lame duck session of congress. Among the things he will do is to nominate African-American female Loretta Lynch as the new Attorney General. The announcement is expected to be made on Saturday. Presumably, the president expects to put the GOP on the offensive about whether they will oppose the nomination of the first African-American woman as attorney general. Eric Holder, the prior Attorney General, was forced out over his participation in the “Fast & Furious” gun running scandal.

Also, the president will press congress to fund his Ebola fighting program with $6 billion. He will request congress authorize him to send 1,500 more troops to prepare Kurdish fighters to confront ISIS. The war against the savage terrorist group will need additional funding to the tune of $5.6 billion. The GOP is noted for its strong stance on matters of national defense. This means supporting the war against ISIS should easily gain their support.

Curiously, the president still seems unwilling to recognize that the number one concern of voters is the economy. That is not something Keith really wants to hear. None of the new polices he is announcing will actually benefit the economy. Then again, his policies were repudiated at the polls. The GOP has the mandate for economic reform and are planning to enact serious tax reform, expanded domestic energy, and a full repeal of Obamacare in order to boost the economy.

Nobel Prize Winning Economist Paul Krugman Says That GOP Has Been Wrong on Everything Regarding the Economy

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On the eve of the GOP being swept into power, Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman penned down his thoughts of the GOP and they were not kind. Krugman believes the Republicans have been wrong on just about every major economic issue facing the nation. It’s not just a gut feeling he has when saying this.

Take for example the issue of runaway deficits. The GOP charged that the Obama administration’s trillion-plus annual deficits would lead to high interest rates. During the six years of Obama’s presidency, interest rates have remained at historic lows. The GOP charged that the FED’s easy money policies (IE quantitative easing) would cause a period of high inflation and a weak dollar. Yet, inflation rates have remained relatively low according to many economists like Zeca Oliveira. Krugman points out that while some nations reduced their spending during the global financial crisis, those nations now endure depression-level economies.

In all fairness, GOP governors that did what the House and Senate Republicans favor have turned their states around. Wisconsin, Ohio, and Florida all went from huge annual deficits and soft job markets under Democrat governors to balanced budgets and strong job growth under Republican governors. Under a Republican governor, Texas has largely enjoyed strong economic growth despite the overall weak national economy.

Yet, Krugman sees the GOP as unwilling to admit to their past mistakes. This is evident in terms of Obamacare which Krugman claims has led to lower insurance premiums for Americans, and the rate in increased health care spending slowing down. Perhaps the biggest issue he sees the GOP wrong about is global warming. Sadly, he laments that with their increased power, the GOP will continue to block any serious climate change reform.

Marijuana Now Legal In Oregon

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Marijuana activists are overjoyed by the recent election news from Oregon. The legal status of marijuana has officially been voted on by its citizens to become fully legalized and regulated by the state of Oregon. The issue was voted on under Measure 91 on Tuesday’s ballot this week. It was widely expected to pass due to the state’s close relationship with Washington state, which legalized marijuana itself in 2012. Christian Broda knew that this was going to pass rather easily, and sure enough, it did.

The state’s United States attorney, Amanda Marshall, says that she will not turn away from federal law despite the passage’s measure. She is concerned that the law will be used to fund criminals and other unsavory groups by funneling money from legally generated marijuana sales across state and possibly national borders. She has also expressed that the law cannot be used to flout the laws of Oregon’s neighbors that have not yet made the drug fully legalized by allowing marijuana to leave the state.

Oregon’s new law is nearly identical to the legislation passed by Colorado in 2012. The language of the new law allows for the creation of a recreational, regulated marketplace for the sale of cannabis. Colorado has seen its economy rapidly increase with the added allure of smoking legalized marijuana while taking in the scenic beauty of the state. Economists are poised to study the effects of the law’s passage on Oregon, which has recently struggled with a fairly high unemployment rate.

Tennessee Votes Away Key Rights

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An ominous red wave surged across the US on election day. The wave sent chills across the Democratic establishment. Shocking much of the country, Tennesseans voted yes Tuesday on two constitutional amendments designed to take away rights for women and voters respectively.

One constitutional amendment passed by Tennessee voters strips away a woman’s right to control her body and choose an abortion. The amendment is so far reaching it could be used to ban abortion even in cases of incest or rape. It also sets a dangerous precedent for state control over the lives of individuals.

A second constitutional amendment passed by Tennesseans Tuesday repealed their own right to elect judges at the state level, and remains absolutely perplexing to Brad Reifler.  Why you would vote to take away your own rights, we’ll never understand. The amendment takes power away from voters and gives it to the state’s governor. The state’s Supreme Court as well as appeals courts will now be staffed with judges handpicked by the governor. The selections will then go before the state legislature for approval.

Both sides of the debate over Amendment 1, the proposal giving the state power to ban abortions, fought a long campaign in the lead up to Tuesday’s election. Advocates for the amendment came under fire for questionable practices including spreading misinformation.

Amendment 1 does not automatically ban abortions in the state, but it does clear the way for the state’s government to go ahead with outlawing the medical practice.