Friday, August 31, 2012

Sufi shrines attacked in Libya


Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Unseen Class War That Could Decide The Presidential Election

Joel Kotkin for those of you into the 99 v 1 percent frame.  It’s a little more complicated than that….

Obama’s core middle-class support, and that of his party, comes from what might be best described as “the clerisy,” a 21st century version of France’s pre-revolution First Estate. This includes an ever-expanding class of minders — lawyers, teachers, university professors, the media and, most particularly, the relatively well paid legions of public sector workers — who inhabit Washington, academia, large non-profits and government centers across the country.

This largely well-heeled “middle class” still adores the president, and party theoreticians see it as the Democratic Party’s new base. Gallup surveys reveal Obama does best among “professionals” such as teachers, lawyers and educators. After retirees, educators and lawyers are the two biggest sources of campaign contributions for Obama by occupation. Obama’s largest source of funds among individual organizations is the University of California, Harvard is fifth and its wannabe cousin Stanford ranks ninth.

Like teachers, much of academia and the legal bar like expanding government since the tax spigot flows in the right direction: that is, into their mouths. Like the old clerical classes, who relied on tithes and the collection bowl, many in today’s clerisy lives somewhat high on the hog; nearly one in five federal workers earn over $100,000.

The Unseen Class War That Could Decide The Presidential Election | Newgeography.com

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Is America Blessed by God? | First Things

Nice column on American Exceptionalism over at First Things:

Is America Blessed by God? | First Things

American Exceptionalism a concept I’ve always associated with Jay Lovestone (via Wikipedia),

When he returned to the US, Lovestone was forced to pay for his insubordination and was expelled from the party – ostensibly not for challenging Stalin, but for his support of Bukharin and the Right Opposition and for his theory of American exceptionalism, which held that capitalism was more secure in the United States and thus socialists should pursue different, more moderate strategies there than elsewhere in the world. That contradicted Stalin's views and the new Third Period policy of ultra-leftism promoted by the Comintern.

A left outlook that I think History’s shown Lovestone right, and explains the outlook of a good many Chicago leftists and the hopes they placed in Barak Obama.

CBS News on Romney and Doing business the Mormon way - Illinois Review

Check it out…..

In case you missed it, check out the CBS News clip below. FYI: Gail King is Oprah's best friend. Charlie Rose is one of the most liberal people in the news. Hard to believe they aired this.

CBS News on Romney and Doing business the Mormon way - Illinois Review

Friday, August 24, 2012

More than 2,200 hospitals face penalties under ObamaCare rules

I’m expecting lists of Hospitals to be penalized to be out soon (over the weekend).  I’m betting many providers serving lower income communities.  Very poor policy that will hurt patients and quality of care.

A provision of ObamaCare is set to punish roughly two-thirds of U.S. hospitals evaluated by Medicare starting this fall over high readmission rates, according to an analysis by Kaiser Health News.

Starting in October, Medicare will reduce reimbursements to hospitals with high 30-day readmission rates -- which refers to patients who return within a month -- by as much as 1 percent. The maximum penalty increases to 2 percent the following year and 3 percent in 2014. 

Doctors are concerned the penalty is unfair, since sometimes they have to accept patients more than once in a brief period of time but could be penalized for doing so -- even for accepting seniors who are sick.

More than 2,200 hospitals face penalties under ObamaCare rules | Fox News

Update:  Here’s a link with all Hospitals in the US and their penalties.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Owen Jones: Getting rid of George W. Bush wasn't enough. The US remains a bully

A left take, but the observation sound enough.  UU’s quite silent too.  At least those of the blogging sort.

If it was happening under the Bush presidency, the opposition would be vociferous and widespread. But while there were 52 such strikes in Pakistan in eight years of Bush, there have been over 280 in three and a half years of Obama. Numbers have soared in Yemen and Somalia, too. Two months ago, former US President Jimmy Carter described drone attacks as a "widespread abuse of human rights" which "abets our enemies and alienates our friends". He's not wrong: the Pew Research Center found just 7 per cent of Pakistanis had a positive view of Obama, the same percentage as Bush had just before he left office.

But, in the West, Obama can get away with acts that Bush would rightly be pilloried for. Indeed, he seems to think it's all a bit of a laugh: in 2010, he jokingly threatened the Jonas brothers with a Predator drone strike if they came near his daughters. How droll, Barack.

Owen Jones: Getting rid of George W. Bush wasn't enough. The US remains a bully - Commentators - Opinion - The Independent

Afghanistan: CUT LOSSES

Michael Yon repeats his time to bail column.  Not sure I agree, but sure wish there was some debate and Congressional hearings.

On 21 January 2012, I published the following, and wish to reiterate today:

Time to Leave Afghanistan

This war is going to turn out badly. We are wasting lives and resources while the United States decays and other threats emerge.  We led the horse to water.

Importantly, there is no value in pretending that Pakistan is an ally. We should wish the best of luck to the Afghans, and the many peaceful Pakistanis, and accelerate our withdrawal of our main battle force. The US never has been serious about Afghanistan. Under General Petraeus we were starting to gain ground, but the current trajectory will land us in the mud.

The enemies will never beat us in Afghanistan.  Force on force, the Taliban are weak by comparison.  Yet this is their home.  There is only so much we can do at this extreme cost for the many good Afghan people.  We must reduce our main effort and concentrate on other matters.  Time to come home.

Sincerely,
Michael Yon

Afghanistan: CUT LOSSES

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Why President Obama rarely talks about the war | Shadow Government

Why President Obama rarely talks about the war | Shadow Government

So have UUs near I can tell.

That Sheep Goat Judgement

A post script to a comment I left on a post by Dan Harper.

 PS I will ad this though. We had a lay sermon a few weeks ago. The speaker quoted Matthew 25:31–46 on the judgement day and the sheep and the goats.

It was pretty clear the sheep were democrats and favored cooperation and collective action. The goats were tea partiers and stubborn individualists. Of course the tea party goats went to hell. (Universal Salvation has its limits.)

 My thought as a tea partier sitting through this sermon was wow, UUs/Political Liberals sure quick to make themselves Christ and divvy up the goats and the sheep.

 Second thought was we tea partiers really do favor collective organization better than many liberals. We just don’t want a Shepard dictating the collective behavior, and instead prefer the free association of sheep and goats alike, all pursuing their own happiness. That free associations sans shepherds yields the best collective.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

George Will: Why doom has not materialized - The Washington Post

Will on forty years of dooms day talk.  Those of us who lived through this should reflect.

George Will: Why doom has not materialized - The Washington Post

A Reason for Liberal Hate? No Diversity - By David French

French writes,

Over at Ricochet, Paul Rahe writes “How Hatred Became a Liberal Value.” His piece is well worth a read (I particularly liked his reminders of liberal calls for “civility” and the “hate is not a family value” bumper stickers so popular a decade or so ago), but I’ve got my own idea: no diversity. The heartland of American leftism is less intellectually diverse than any large conservative community in the United States. The entire cities of New York, San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. are less politically diverse than your average Evangelical megachurch.

A Reason for Liberal Hate? No Diversity - By David French - The Corner - National Review Online

The Chair of my Church’s Social Justice Committee asked me to start a group for UU Conservatives.  I asked why and she said partners of some members avoid Church because of the perceived political Liberalism/Progressivism.  We’re not on the face of it an intellectually diverse lot although I think one need not scratch deep to find plenty of surprising diversity.

So I have.  Four takers so far, and we’ll start with the materials used at GA.

Chicago's Friday night Butcher's Bill

2 dead, 18 wounded in overnight shootings across city

The start of the weekend's shooter watch.  People bet now on the numbers killed / shot each weekend.

Muslim Brotherhood 'Crucifies' Opponents, Attacks Secular Media

H/T  The Investigation ProjectLast week in Egypt, when Muslim Brotherhood supporters terrorized the secular media, several Arabic websites—includingArab NewsAl Khabar News,Dostor Watany, and Egypt Now—reported that people were being "crucified."

Here's a google translation from the Egypt Now link. These are leftists and secularists getting attacked.
He also stressed correspondent Sky News Arabic in Cairo that the demonstrators belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood crucified opponents of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi naked on the trees in front of the presidential palace, while torturing others. was also closed other demonstrators from Brotherhood doors Media Production City in the October 6, and assaulted on media celebrity. chanted these during the demonstration against the prime channel Lafraain Tawfiq Okasha and call them to "inform the remnants corrupt," and attacked a number of them on the editor of the seventh day media Khaled Salah. Witnesses said that groups of members of the Muslim Brotherhood and arrived in the number of buses and private cars carrying banners attacking the "Media sedition." The dividing themselves into these groups took each block entry and exit to and from the city of production

 ما أكد مراسل سكاي نيوز عربية في القاهرة أن متظاهرين ينتمون إلى جماعة الإخوان المسلمين صلبوا معارضين للرئيس المصري محمد مرسي عرايا على الأشجار أمام القصر الرئاسي، بينما يتم التنكيل بآخرين. كما أغلق متظاهرون آخرون من الإخوان أبواب مدينة الإنتاج الإعلامي في منطقة 6 أكتوبر، وقاموا بالاعتداء على إعلاميين مشهورين. وهتف هؤلاء خلال التظاهرة ضد رئيس قناة الفراعين توفيق عكاشة ومن يسمونهم بـ "إعلام الفلول الفاسد"، واعتدى عدد منهم على رئيس تحرير صحيفة اليوم السابع الإعلامي خالد صلاح. وقال شهود عيان إن مجموعات من أعضاء الإخوان المسلمين وصلوا في عدد من الحافلات والسيارات الخاصة رافعين لافتات تهاجم "إعلام الفتنة".
The Brotherwoods Twitter link is @ikhwan. Tweet and let them know we read these reports.

Update from National Journal which finds the story and Urban Legend.  This Crucifixtion in Yemen though looks awfully real.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Quds Day News

A clip from Ali Alfoneh Iran News email;


  • Quds [Jerusalem] Day reports:
    • Ahmadinejad addresses the Tehran Friday prayer prior to the Quds [Jerusalem] Day rally:
      • "Today, it is clear to everyone that Zionism is counter to human perfection and the human society. It is the main agent of decay of nations. A corrupt, corrupting, and inhumane minority opposed to divine values is organized and is cohesively resisting all those divine values... For at least the past four hundred years, a small number of Zionists have imposed the highest costs to human society... The Zionists took over the world leadership when they began dominating the government of the United States... A small number are behind the scenes of changing administrations in the United States. All the main centers of power in the world, all powerful governments of the world, the main centers, banks and the global wealth and the main media of the world are in the hands of the Zionists. They use all these [instruments] to destroy cultures, values, nations and existence of countries. Wherever there is vast moral decay, wherever there is war, sedition and killing, the Zionists and Zionist companies are behind it..."
      • "The Westerners should know and should open their ears. It is not just the Arab Spring. The beginning is Arab, but a human spring is on the way, so is the 'Western and American' spring which will soon start, thanks to divine benevolence..."
      • "The Westerners are trying to create a new Middle East, and so are we. It will certainly take shape, but thanks to divine benevolence and help from the nations, in the new Middle East, there would be no trace of the United States and Zionists."
    • Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami addresses the prayers at Tehran Friday prayer:
      • "Today, the slogan of 'Death to America,' and 'Death to Israel' of yours is the sign of support to the oppressed in the face of the unjust..."
      • "To begin with, I must say that the Jewish minority who live in our country, abide by the laws and themselves say that they participate at the Quds [Jerusalem] Day rallies, are separate from the Zionists... The characteristic of the Zionists is that in their past record, killing and killing the devout is registered. The Zionists have engaged in so many crimes and have killed so many people that the stain of dishonor will never be cleansed from history... A famous Western journalist in his book on the crimes of the Zionists has written that the Zionists brutally tortured Palestinian refugees, would skin them alive, would cut their stomachs, would rape the girls and cut their breasts... Deeds of the Zionists show that their nature is mixed with inhumane deeds... The Zionists do not abide by international agreements..."
      • "About the Jews, the Quran urges [the Muslims] not to disclose their secrets to aliens..."
      • "Unfortunately, the heads of some Islamic states not only do not despise the Zionists, they consider the Zionists their masters... We have precise information that some of the heads of states of Islamic countries urged the Zionists to attack Lebanon..."
      • "The Quran says, 'use force' against the Zionists in order to direct them to the path of truth..."

Standing on the Side of Love tongue-tied

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Floyd Corkins

So did blather like this spark this?

 Maybe we've slung that word hate a bit much?

Maybe it's time for Standing on the Side of Love to join the signatories here?

Chicago's Shootings Didn't Happen In a Movie Theater, But It's Still the World's Deadliest City

Cord Jefferson writing in Chicago Now,

I emailed Chicago Tribune crime reporter Peter Nickeas to ask him how the lack of attention given to Chicago's violence makes him feel. President Obama, I pointed out, had visited Aurora and made calls to the Oak Creek temple members just after the respective shootings. But his last visit to Chicago, on a weekend in which seven people were killed and 35 wounded by gun violence, was for a wedding and a round of golf. Here's what Nickeas wrote

Chicago's Shootings Didn't Happen In a Movie Theater, But It's Still the World's Deadliest City

Follow the link for the response from Nickeas.  We’re just numb to it.  Including the Prez.

Khamenei: Zionist regime will disappear from map

via Khamenei: Zionist regime will di... JPost - Iranian Threat – News

They mean it.

Jerusalem bound Scuds on a mural in Saddam's palace in Baghdad.  I took it in Spring 2008.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Wednesday that he was confidant "the fake Zionist (regime) will disappear from the landscape of geography,” Iran's Mehr News Agency reported. 

Khamenei made the comments during a meeting with veterans of the Iran-Iraq War.
"The light of hope will shine on the Palestinian issue, and this Islamic land will certainly be returned to the Palestinian nation," Khamenei was quoted as saying. 

Earlier on Wednesday Brig.- Gen. Gholamreza Jalali, the head of Iran's Passive (civil) Defense Organization and a former commander of the Revolutionary Guards, during a speech ahead of Al-Quds Day, an anti-Israel event initiated by Iran, said that in order to liberate Palestine there was no other option but to destroy Israel. 

"[Al-Quds Day] is a reflection of the fact that no other way exists apart from resolve and strength to completely eliminate the aggressive nature and to destroy Israel," Jalali said, according to a report by Iran's ISNA news agency. 

The report was also picked up by other news outlets including Mashregh News, which is affiliated to the Revolutionary Guards. 

Al-Quds Day is an annual Iranian anti-Zionist event established in 1979 by Ayatollah Khomeini and which falls this year on August 17. Iran also seeks to export the event to other Muslim countries.





Monday, August 13, 2012

Egyptian authorities ban popular history book on Middle East - Books - Ahram Online

One of the best things we can do for the Arab Spring is condemn bad moves like this.

The Egyptian Print Censorship Authority has banned the import of A History of the Modern Middle East by eminent academics William L Cleveland and Martin Bunton, now in its 12th edition.

Khaled Fahmy, chair of history at the American University in Cairo (AUC), said that he received an email from the university informing him that the book he had requested for his modern Arab history course had been banned from entering the country. The short email did not give any reasons for the ban

Egyptian authorities ban popular history book on Middle East - Books - Ahram Online

2012: Suddenly, A Historic Election? | Via Meadia

Walther Russell Mead on Romney’s selection of Paul Ryan.  Mead gives the best description I’ve read of the competing visions, and the Democrat’s “Blue State Model”: the ideal from of society referenced here,

For the Obamians, this is the ideal form of society. The apparent creaks and strains of the last thirty years — rising income inequality, stagnating real wages, economic volatility — are the result of policy errors rather than historical forces. Bad, selfish people have dismantled the regulations and controls that kept a healthy middle class economy in place and like Toad of Toad Hall in The Wind in the Willows, reckless rich nincompoops have driven the national economy — and the blue social model — into the ditch. President Obama’s goal is to bring back the good old days, and make them better yet. His methods are classic tools of the progressive movement of the twentieth century and he believes that there is much, much more than government can do to make our country richer and our society more just.

The Republican challengers will be attacking this vision head on. They will be arguing that the blue social model is driving us all into the poorhouse. The costs of the entitlement state are relentlessly escalating. Regulatory capture means that the federal agencies supposed to protect the public from the plutocracy end up serving the plutocracy: crony capitalism rather than enlightened public administration is what happens when the state becomes too powerful and too large. They will be arguing that the way out of our present economic stagnation is to unleash the powers of enterprise and competition.

To President Obama, this sounds like the worst kind of anti-FDR, anti-New Deal reactionary Republicanism — Taft rather than Eisenhower. When the President denounces tax cuts for the rich as “trickle down” economics and as the cause of our problems rather than solutions, he means it. Romney and Ryan, he will charge, want to take us back to the individualistic economics of the Roaring Twenties, policies that in his view were directly responsible for the Great Depression, just as their revival under George W. Bush brought on the Great Recession.

2012: Suddenly, A Historic Election? | Via Meadia

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Whining and complaining post « Yet Another Unitarian Universalist

A good post with no apology needed from Dan. 

While he and I disagree on much, he had much good advice for my Church while he was with us.  Reforms we still practice.

My kids remember his sermon on Emerson.  A great American forever known in my family now as the pencil guy.

A sound Professional organization an important part of a sound community of clergy.  (Right after solid Theological schools).

I fear short comings in far too many of our Clergy that may be preventing us from growing.

UU’s should be paying attention to you here Dan:

Whining and complaining post « Yet Another Unitarian Universalist

The Guardian: Hillary Clinton on Syria: use of chemical weapons is a red line

Tough talk... not sure this Administration would back it up. She said a Red Line for the World. That may be cover to hide.


Wednesday, August 08, 2012

What We Mean By “Transformation” or UUism as an inscrutable faith

Good post, but it might more simply be said as: we’ve become an inscrutable faith.

We toss our words like “transformation” and it’s just damn hard to figure out what we mean.
 
A UU Rev writes a longish post expressing her discontent, but I’m still at a loss by what others meant by it.

Maybe UU Churches stagnating for the simple reason no one understands what the heck too many UU Preachers mean.

Not Peacebang of course, who leads the charge here.
What We Mean By “Transformation” | PeaceBang

Darwin’s Ghost | Religion and Other Curiosities

Peter Berger writes…..

Survey data show that large numbers of Americans are creationists of the most robust sort. This kind of religion tends to wither or at least be modified with the spread of higher education. Barring some dramatic catastrophies falling on American society, one would not predict a rosy future for creationism (quite apart from the fact that the federal courts are barring it from the schools). But I think it would be a mistake to simply attribute its prevalence to lack of education. Underlying it is another intuition, which has nothing to do with evolution or the age of the earth: The perception of the distinctive and sacred dignity of every human being. In the famous debate between William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow at the “monkey trial” of 1925 (which humiliated Bryan and traumatized American Evangelicals for decades), Darrow was right in showing up the implausibility of a literal reading of the Bible. But on a deeper and finally more important level, Bryan was right—and it is a good thing that Evangelicals are getting over the trauma.

Darwin’s Ghost | Religion and Other Curiosities

Some how I think that underlying intuition trumps Science.

Iranian hostages in Damascus traveled via Revolutionary Guards’ travel agency: report

They didn’t sound like Shi’ite pilgrims to me.

“Everyone on this trip was either a Guard or a Basij militia. This wasn’t a regular tour group,” said an employee of the tour agency that organized the trip.


The tour operating company Samen Al Aemmeh, is not open to the public and solely caters to members and families of Guards or the Basij militia.

 
The company is also a subsidiary of Samen Al Aemmeh Industries, one of Guards’ largest umbrella groups, which is under sanctions by the United Nations Security Council and by the U.S. Treasury for its alleged role in missile building and Iran’s controversial nuclear program.


The reason for the 48 men’s journey, at the height of some of the most violent clashes in Syria, is not yet clear. But sources told WSJ that the men were all active members of the Revolutionary Guards Corps (ICRG), on a mission to train Syrian forces in counterinsurgency methods, as Syrian forces fight a decisive battle in Aleppo.

Iranian hostages in Damascus traveled via Revolutionary Guards’ travel agency: report

Chicago Chick-fil-A Kiss-In Protesters "Chalk" Homeless Street Preacher

Not sure which side of Love these fellows stand on. Not a side I'd find myself on for sure though.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

World Organization for the Defense of Human Rights reports a Russian General killed in Syria

Via their facebook page.

URGENT, 07-08-2012: A Russian general and a translator working for the Russian army in Syria have reportedly been killed in an unsuccessful Russian army operation with ASSAD forces to take over a regime security centre previously captured by the resistance. The general was apparently an advisor to the Syrian Minister of Defense and to the Syrian army. The Russian General's name is Vladimir Petković. The information was obtained from confidential documents giving details of the Russian intervention in Syria. A gross evidence of Russian involvement in the war against Syrian people !
Photo: URGENT, 07-08-2012: A Russian general and a translator working for the Russian army in Syria have reportedly been killed in an unsuccessful Russian army operation with ASSAD forces to take over a regime security centre previously captured by the resistance. The general was apparently an advisor to the Syrian Minister of Defense and to the Syrian army. The Russian General's name is Vladimir Petković. The information was obtained from confidential documents giving details of the Russian intervention in Syria.A gross evidence of Russian involvement in the war against Syrian people !

Saturday, August 04, 2012

Human Shields عصابات الأسد تستخدم المدنيين دروع بشرية

Via OSyria
 عصابات الأسد تستخدم المدنيين دروع بشرية و تسرق المحلات و البيوت في طريقها وتجبر الناس للهتافات المؤيدة لبشار الاسد
Documentary Evidence of Crimes Against Humanity committed by Syrian Dictator Bashar Assad Assad gangs using civilians as human shield

Al Jazeera: Has Syria become the UN's proxy battlefield?

The Statement of Conscience on Creating Peace placed much hope on International Cooperation and intervention to resolve conflicts just like Syria's. The failure of the UN here ought to cause UUs to reflect on that model. SOC's need to be reviewed in subsequent General Assemblies. That review ought to be built into them. It's the only way to integrate these statements into the life of Churches and UUism. Otherwise they disappear.


Friday, August 03, 2012

Say Chick Fil A One More Time

Kind of a startling image for a Unitarian Universalist Minister to share on facebook.



Nuff said really....

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Health Care in MA Is Bad Omen for Obamacare | Via Meadia

Too my way of thinking, a truly Progressive Health Care Reform creates abundance of supply that really drives down costs; not restrictions on demand and prices. (Think Hill-Burton grants in 1948 to fund more Hospital Construction.  That was the GOPs response after defeating Truman’s Nat Health Insurance plan.) Cost Controls and the resulting shortages exactly where Massachusetts is headed per Via Meadia below. 

The States truly are our Laboratories and we can thank the citizens of the Commonwealth for putting their care out on a limb for the rest of us to see with this experiment.  Endless pain my bet for the ugly outcome.

Opponents of the Affordable Care Act predict the law will play out in four steps:

  1. Put government in charge of healthcare.
  2. Be shocked by rising costs.
  3. Begin micromanagement and cost controls.
  4. Endless pain.

Massachusetts, the model for the federal law, seems to have moved to step three, with a vote set this week on measures to contain runaway healthcare spending. We’ll see if step four is next.

Health Care in MA Is Bad Omen for Obamacare | Via Meadia

Want to clear a room quick?


I wonder what God does to clear a room? A tweet from Rick Warren.
Rick WarrenVerified
‏@RickWarren
Following

"Want to clear a room in Hollywood quickly? Start talking about God.For better or for worse,it’s a taboo conversation"Mark Ruffalo

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

'Sister Wives': Christine Admits She Doesn't Trust Her Fellow Wives (VIDEO)

I’ve never watched the show.  I just stumbled across a news story explaining Utah wasn’t going to prosecute any members of the caste for polygamy (a felony in Utah).

'Sister Wives': Christine Admits She Doesn't Trust Her Fellow Wives (VIDEO)

As far as I can tell, Unitarian Universalism has no theology of marriage to guide us on this one.  We did once and were pretty vocal about it.

I’d argue a marriage between one man and multiple women inherently harmful to women.  Marriage involves power and this kind of marriage inevitable grants a man a harmful amount of power over these women.

I understand the Libertarian case though that maybe Government best stay out of these arrangements.  Also the pragmatic case that probably caused Utah to sit it all out.

But what in the world does a UU faith which rambles on about marriage equality and hate have to say?  Rev Dan Harper once told me we UUs have no theology of marriage.  If that’s the case, how do we judge?

Exclusive: Obama authorizes secret U.S. support for Syrian rebels | Reuters

This should have been public. It should have been in consultation with Congress. It’s probably not enough, and enough to counter the Islamists. 

Obama's order, approved earlier this year and known as an intelligence "finding," broadly permits the CIA and other U.S. agencies to provide support that could help the rebels oust Assad.

This and other developments signal a shift toward growing, albeit still circumscribed, support for Assad's armed opponents - a shift that intensified following last month's failure of the U.N. Security Council to agree on tougher sanctions against the Damascus government.

The White House is for now apparently stopping short of giving the rebels lethal weapons, even as some U.S. allies do just that.

But U.S. and European officials have said that there have been noticeable improvements in the coherence and effectiveness of Syrian rebel groups in the past few weeks. That represents a significant change in assessments of the rebels by Western officials, who previously characterized Assad's opponents as a disorganized, almost chaotic, rabble.

Exclusive: Obama authorizes secret U.S. support for Syrian rebels | Reuters

Explaining the Millennial Meltdown

Ties in nicely with Boy in the Bands post on commuting distances.

Well now the future, for a good number of younger Americans, has boomeranged. They find themselves un- or underemployed in cities without the great number of churches that our metropolises once boasted of.

Twenty- and early thirty-somethings don’t have cars or a lot of money and so they are staying put, more or less. They are certainly moving around within a much smaller radius than their predecessors. Community is easier to foster because, in these new straitened times, community is basically the people you’re stuck with.

That these folks find church relatively less useful than their parents should not come as a great surprise.

Explaining the Millennial Meltdown

Emanuel declines to explain efforts for Accretive Health - chicagotribune.com

A preview of some of the heavies Democrats going to bring with them in a politicized health care system.  Heavy hitter bill collectors from Accretive Health…

As the Minnesota mess was brewing, Accretive, which earns money by handling the financials for hospital systems, was touted as a local success story by Emanuel and his allies. Emanuel toured the company's LaSalle Street offices in March as it was in line to receive about $6 million in tax-increment financing. And Accretive already was benefiting from millions of dollars in city grants being given to Chicago Career Tech, a retraining facility for unemployed city residents that sent graduates to the company.

The undated letter started with an indication from Emanuel that it was a follow-up to a phone conversation Emanuel had with Swanson. In the letter, Emanuel acted as a go-between of sorts for Accretive founder and CEO Mary Tolan.

He reminded Democrat Swanson of his heavyweight status in the party they share, noting that he had been senior adviser to then-President Bill Clinton and chief of staff to President Barack Obama.

Emanuel declines to explain efforts for Accretive Health - chicagotribune.com

On birthday visit, Obama should tour city’s killing fields - Chicago Sun-Times

Sun Time’s Carol Marin suggest the Prez visit Chicago’s killing field.  Little that Obama’s done has surprised me and his Presidency much as I expected.  I am surprised he hasn’t been home much.  It could help Chicago a lot I think just by showing his face in the community a bit.

In the blocks surrounding the president’s exquisite home, a stone’s throw from 51st and Kenwood, bullets fly.

Just three blocks away on June 27, a 21-year-old man was shot in the chest. Just streets away on April 14, there was an aggravated battery with a gun.

Six blocks to the west on May 28 there was a fatal shooting. (Check the Sun-Times’ Chicago Under Fire map at www.suntimes.com/news/violence).

Further south where Michelle Obama grew up, near 75th and Euclid, there was more of the same.

At 78th and Constance on July 15, a 21-year-old was shot in the head and died. Earlier this year there was a shooting homicide at 74th and Merrill, another at 78th and Yates and multiple shootings on East 71st.

This is where the first lady once could play on a summer afternoon. Sasha and Malia could not do so now.

According to the Chicago Police Department, through July 22 of this year there have been 293 homicides in the city, compared with 224 in the same period last year, an increase of 31 percent

On birthday visit, Obama should tour city’s killing fields - Chicago Sun-Times

Two Views of Preston Bradley for CC

A link for Chalice Chick with some nice descriptions of Preston Bradley: Two Views of Preston Bradley

Also, this on Bradley’s influence on Day Time soap operas through Irna Phillips,

Phillips said that as a young woman she gained strength from the soothing radio ministry of Chicago preacher Preston Bradley. As a tribute to him, she constructed The Guiding Light around the fictional Reverend John Ruthledge, and in the show's first decade, Rev. Ruthledge always left a lamp burning in his study overnight, as a beacon or "guiding light" for friends, family, and strangers. The program premiered on radio on 25 January 1937, came to television in 1952, lost its The in 1977, and aired Monday through Friday on CBS until 2009, making it the longest-running program in any genre of broadcasting. Rev. Ruthledge faded away in the mid-1940s.

Now which UU Minister today could inspire a hit TV show?