For most former Presidents, their lives after the White House are pretty quiet. They write a memoir, give some graduation speeches, maybe take up a humanitarian cause or painting. But George H.W. Bush is not willing to go so quietly. Today, he brought in his ninetieth year by skydiving, a tradition he has now carried out eight times. He no longer has the use of his legs, but this is America, and in America, people do not let such things get in the way of skydiving. The President skydived in tandem with Sergeant 1st Class Mike Elliott, a former member of the Golden Knights, the Army’s parachute team. So Happy Birthday, Former President George H.W. Bush. Take an extra skydive for the rest of us ... Discuss
It's a wonderful day in Maine -- in fact, nice enough for a parachute jump.
Not since 1899 has the House Majority Leader lost a re-election vote, and never has one lost to such an unlikely challenger. In fact, yesterday's historic upset is more or less unique in any sort of political race in U.S. history. The race in Virginia's 7th Congressional District pitted the well-funded, established Eric Cantor, who had been almost a shoe-in to take John Boehner's spot as House Speaker, against a little-known Tea Party candidate named Dave Brat. A college professor with plenty of academic credentials, Brat managed to fuel a perceived mistrust of Cantor's politics and pitted himself as being more committed to the conservative cause, a stance which evidently made up for the giant disparity in their funding. Brat won by a margin in the double digits, unseating a household name in American politics before anyone outside of Virginia had decided to take him seriously. His campaign manager turned 23 in May. By any measure, it's an impressive feat.
"I think this is a scale eight earthquake. I think it will shock the Washington establishment; it will shock the House Republicans," former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told CNN. And he's probably right, but just what it all means is a matter of debate right now. It's a huge, much-needed boost for the Tea Party, and a few pundits are also speculating that this will put any hope of immigration reform on life support. At this point, the only certain takeaway is that nothing in politics can ever be taken for granted ... Discuss
Want to be President in 2016? According to a new poll, your odds for winning are going to be much better with some military and business experience, and being an evangelical Christian won't hurt (21% of responders said they'd be more like to vote for an evangelical). The same poll shows that experience is now more of a liability than it has been in the past, with 30% of Americans saying they'd be less likely to vote for someone with "many years" of Washington experience, while just 19% said they'd be more likely to vote for such a person.
But the big negatives for a person running for the Oval Office are a little less work-related. 22% of Americans say they'd be less likely to vote for a candidate who had smoked weed, and 52% said they'd be less likely to vote for a candidate who'd had an extramarital affair. But the biggest black eye is atheism. 53% of responders say they'd be less likely to vote for an atheist, with only 5% saying they'd be more likely ... Discuss
Controversial Christian conservative Dinesh D'Souza has entered a guilty plea in a case involving the violation of some political campaign financing laws. The case in question involves allegations that he made illegal contributions to a New York Republican senatorial campaign, donating through "straw donors" to avoid state-mandated contribution limits. Although D'Souza had originally denied the claims and accused the administration of "selective prosecution," his surprise admission today is expected to to reduce the charges leveled against him.
D'Souza rose to prominence as a conservative author (he wrote 2007's What's So Great About Christianity?) and a harsh critic of President Barack Obama. As the author of The Roots of Obama's Rage and its film adaptation, 2016: Obama's America. He also had a brief, controversial stint as the president of King's College.
His sentencing will occur at a later date ... Discuss
Today, the Supreme Court finally weighed in on the hotly debated Town of Greece VS. Galloway case, determining that public meetings can start with "religion specific-prayer" (i.e. "In Jesus' name ..."). The case started in the little town of Greece, New York, where city officials have been starting meetings with prayer for some time. A few people in the town took issue with the practice, and the case has been boiling ever since, with both sides saying their religious rights are on the line. The Supreme Court's 5-4 majority sided with Greece, saying that Town Hall meetings can start with prayer—falling in line with both public support and the White House. It does not, however, square away with the views of Justice Kagan, who offered a strongly worded dissent:
...Greece's Board did nothing to recognize religious diversity: In arranging for clergy members to open each meeting, the Town never sought (except briefly when this suit was filed) to involve, accommodate, or in any way reach out to adherents of non-Christian religions. So month in and month out for over a decade, prayers steeped in only one faith, addressed toward members of the public, commenced meetings to discuss local affairs and distribute government benefits. In my view, that practice does not square with the First Amendment's promise that every citizen, irrespective of her religion, owns an equal share in her government.
If James Woods wins Arizona's Congressional District 5, then he'll be the nation's first Congressman to openly campaign as a humanist. He would also be the first blind member of Congress in over a century, having lost his eyesight to a MRSA infection seven years ago. Regarding his views, Woods says that "Humanism requires that we treat everyone with dignity and respect. That we stand up for equality. That we govern compassionately. That we listen to what people need. We need to shift toward progressive Humanist values to address human suffering."
His campaign is a long shot, seeking to unseat incumbent Rep. Matt Salmon. Also, running as an atheist in America remains a dicy prospect. A study by Gallup found humanists to be America's "most unelectable group," with only 54 percent of voters saying they'd be willing to even consider an atheist presidential candidate. And that's saying nothing of a study from the University of Minnesota, which found atheists to be America's most mistrusted minority group, ... Discuss