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The Blessing of Separating Church and State

– Alan Garfield

Why would we want to separate church and state? Isn’t religion a positive force in society? Doesn’t it foster ethical behavior and encourage charity? Just think of all the church-run soup kitchens or the moral leadership provided by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

So why would the framers build a wall separating church and state? Why not unite the two and combine their power for good?

Prof. Alan Garfield.

Prof. Alan Garfield.

Of course, the Constitution never explicitly says that there must be a wall separating church and state. But the First Amendment does say that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” In a landmark 1947 decision, the Supreme Court explained that this clause was “intended to erect ‛a wall of separation between church and State’” and that this wall “must be kept high and impregnable.”

What were the framers thinking? Were they opposed to religion? Were they at war with Christmas?

Certainly not. Most were religious themselves.

The framers merely knew their history. And history taught them that combining church and state produces a volatile brew that is good for neither church nor state. [Read more…]

Remembering Simone Veil

Simone Veil. Photo: Marie-Lan Nguyen.

By Frances Novack
Simone Veil, the Auschwitz survivor and France’s Health Minister, died at the age of 89. As Health Minister, she fought for laws that changed the lives of millions and which revealed the power for good an extraordinary woman can wield.   Veil, who passed away on June 30, was a staunch defender of the European project, which promotes integrated economic legislation to make Europe a political union, as well as a key figure in her own country’s reforms focusing on women’s health.  
Deported to Auschwitz with her mother and a sister at l6, Simone Jacob survived the “death march” and became determined to better the world.
After the war, she studied at the famous Institut d’etudes politiques  (Sciences Po)  in Paris, where she met and then married Antoine Veil. She passed the competitive exam to become a magistrate, and was surprised when in 1974, then-Prime Minister Jacques Chirac asked her to be Health Minister.  Here she improved access to contraception and aided people with disabilities.  But her greatest distinction — and fiercest battle — was for passage of the law legalizing abortion in 1975, still called the Veil Law today. Vilified by many — one opponent accused her of wanting to put babies ‘in the oven” — she spoke movingly before the French Parliament, where she  “apologized” for bringing women’s point of view to the virtually all-male assembly, insisting that every abortion remained a tragedy, but that it was necessary. No woman ever makes that decision lightly, she asserted, but women do have to make it.

[Read more…]

GOP Bill: Healthcare Cut for the Disadvantaged, Tax Cut for the Billionaires

Health care and money. Photo: Robin Fischer. Pills, blood pressure cuff, money.

Health care and money. Photo: Robin Fischer.

It’s out. The GOP  Healthcare Bill has been (finally) made public, and it is as bad as we expected. You can read the full text here. Cuts to Medicaid will mean that the 69% of nursing home residents whose stays are funded by Medicaid will no longer be able to remain in nursing homes; removal of funding for Planned Parenthood will cause women who depend on their services will not get the cancer screenings that will save their lives. Millions of people will be uninsured, and even more will get cheap health insurance which doesn’t cover doctors visits, ER visits, medications or mental health services, not to mention health insurance with $10,000 deductibles, and capped benefits. [Read more…]

Congressman Evans: Senate Healthcare Bill Is a Disgrace

Congressman Dwight Evans. Photo: Wikipedia.

Congressman Dwight Evans. Photo: Wikipedia.

Democratic Congressman Dwight Evans (PA-02) released the following statement after Senate Republican Leadership unveiled a draft of their healthcare bill:

Republicans in the House and Senate say Obamacare is collapsing in our communities nationwide; yet today as a response to fix this ‘so called’ crisis, Senate Republican Leadership has released their draft of a bill that does nothing but reduce access to adequate healthcare. As it stands now, the Senate healthcare bill makes extreme cuts to the federal Medicaid program and doubles down on the President’s vow to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obama Care).
[Read more…]

Village View: Bill Cosby trial – and tribulations

Bonnie Squires.

This article was originally published in the Main Line Times. 

The Bill Cosby trial was an international fascination, not just a Philadelphia-Montgomery County-Pennsylvania obsession. I even received a request from a French magazine reporter who was in the region, covering the trial for his readers before he returned to Paris. He forwarded to me a column I had written in the Main Line Times about Cosby’s having received the Marian Anderson Award in Philly some years ago. The French reporter thought I might be able to give him contact information for three people whom I mentioned.

I answered him in French, letting him know that one of the people he wanted to speak with had died, one had left town years ago, and the last one, Coach Gavin White Senior, had retired from Temple.

So I have two distinctly different visions of Bill Cosby, who was once an idol of American television viewers. And film buffs. First there is the Bill Cosby in a Temple T-shirt or sweatshirt who raised awareness nationally — and even internationally — about his alma mater, in North Philadelphia.

Cosby never missed a Commencement, drawing cheers from students, professors, family members of the graduates, and media members alike. He would come early to the robing room, pose for photos with everyone, kibbitz, make us all laugh, and guarantee media coverage for the graduates and for Temple U.

I do believe it was the late Temple University President Peter J. Liacouras who reached out to Cosby and asked him to be the public face of Temple. And when Cosby starred in the most popular television series of his time, “The Cosby Show,” we could not even calibrate the value of seeing Cosby in the show sporting a Temple T-shirt!

In 2010, Cosby was the Marian Anderson award-winner, and at the time I wrote this about the Coz: “He is the consummate performer, successful author, humanitarian, philanthropist, advocate, educator, role model and creative genius. And he and his wife maintain scholarships at many universities, including Temple.”

Now I do not dismiss Andrea Costand’s testimony — or the charges of any of the dozens of other women who claim that Cosby plied them with drugs and then used them sexually when they were totally defenseless.

It’s just that this was not the Cosby whom I used to see on campus, whom I worked with to make the Temple recruitment television ads, who created a riot as he had everyone laughing and feeling good about themselves at whatever Commencement or Temple University event he would appear at. And who constantly would talk with the parents of students, praising them for their sacrifices.

There is only one other time when someone whom I liked and admired a lot turned out to be quite a different person at another point in his life And that person is Ira Einhorn. Now I do not by any stretch of the imagination equate Ira’s having murdered his girl friend Holly Maddox and stuffed her in a steamer trunk in the closet of their apartment with Cosby’s being a sexual predator. No comparison.

When Ira and I were undergraduates at Penn, Ira was a founder of Earth Day, he would sit under a tree and recite poetry. He was impressive. I was Miss Goody two-shoes with my saddle shoes, knowing nothing about drugs or alcohol. And then I lost track of him while I was substitute teaching in Lower Merion Schools while raising my children, and Ira just disappeared. Probably in a pot-filled haze, but I didn’t know it at the time.

Cosby would lecture and write books and exhort men to be responsible fathers.

Each time, though, that one of Cosby’s extensive legal team would be quoted on radio and television as saying, “but the sex was consensual,” I cringed! I would yell out loud! I mean — Cosby is married to Camille, an elegant, intelligent, philanthropist in her own right. And she has stood by her husband, even appearing one time in court in Norristown with him.

There are cynics who would retort, “But she’s staying for the money!” I highly doubt that now that Cosby’s reputation and career have been destroyed, that much money is still coming in. Although re-runs of “The Cosby Show” are probably running around the world.

I thought Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele controlled himself and his team admirably, and his comments at his press conference after the judge declared a mistrial were sober and professional.

We will have to endure the worldwide publicity again at some time in the future. I will try to keep in mind the original vision I had of Dr. Bill Cosby.

Bonnie Squires is a communications consultant who writes weekly for Main Line Media News and can be reached at www.bonniesquires.com. She hosts the weekly Bonnie’s Beat TV show at Radnor Studio 21 and Main Line Television which airs Monday nights at 7 p.m.

Reps. Evans and Fitzpatrick Urged Bipartisan Showing at Congressional Baseball Game

Congressmen Dwight Evans (D-PA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) issued a joint statement encouraging members of both parties to come together after the shooting on an Alexandria, Virginia, baseball field that left five people injured, including Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), the Republican majority whip, who remains in critical condition. At the time, Republican members of Congress were practicing for the Congressional Baseball Game. The shooter, who had professed disdain for Republicans, was killed during an exchange of gunfire. Here is the statement released on the day of the shooting by Evans and Fitzpatrick: [Read more…]

Trump Tax Plan Contains $2 Trillion Error

Money Bag. Photo By Barbara Lock [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo By Barbara Lock

by Christopher Bates

On July 22, 1962, the Mariner I was launched after years of planning and preparation. Its mission, in the midst of the space race, was to conduct a flyby of Venus. Mariner never made it, since it exploded five minutes after takeoff. The reason? A missing dash in the mathematical coding done by NASA. It’s famously known as the “$80 million punctuation error.”

That $80 million is equivalent to a bit more than $650 million today. Still, if any of those scientists are still with us, they can sleep a little better, because their mistake is a drop in the bucket compared to the accounting error in Donald Trump’s budget. [Read more…]