This is a sampling from Bay Area News Group's Political Blotter blog. Read more and post comments at www.ibabuzz.com/politics.
Following in the footsteps of former colleague Pete Stark, Rep. Mike Honda has spoken out on behalf of a National Day of Reason this Thursday, May 2, to counter the government-sponsored National Day of Prayer.
"The National Day of Reason celebrates the application of reason and the positive impact it has had on humanity," Honda, D-San Jose, declared in the Congressional Record last Thursday. "It is also an opportunity to reaffirm the Constitutional separation of religion and government."
The American Humanist Association says support from Honda and Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., is particularly notable this year in light of the recent controversy over the refusal to include secular representation at the official memorial service honoring the victims of the recent Boston bombings.
The group says the National Day of Prayer Task Force's stated purpose to represent "a Judeo-Christian expression of the national observance" is exclusionary.
"Our elected officials dishonor their office and their constituents when they promote and attend divisive events that tell a growing minority of Americans that they aren't worthy of full citizenship," AHA Executive Director Roy Speckhardt said in a news release. "Our secular government has no business endorsing expression of some beliefs while excluding others."
The National Day of Prayer was created in 1952 by an act of Congress to be held each year on the first Thursday of May. The AHA created the National Day of Reason "to celebrate reason -- a concept all Americans can support -- and to raise public awareness about the persistent threat to religious liberty posed by government intrusion into the private sphere of worship."
Stark -- who was Congress' only avowed atheist, and who was unseated last year by fellow Democrat Eric Swalwell -- had issued several National Day of Reason proclamations while in office. Honda describes his religious belief as Protestant Christian.
Lynn Woolsey, phone home.
The former North Bay House member is one of six former members of Congress who are taking testimony at a public hearing this week at the National Press Club on what the U.S. government really knows about extraterrestrial life.
"The Citizen Hearing on Disclosure of an extraterrestrial presence engaging the human race will attempt to accomplish what the Congress has failed to do for 45 years -- seek out the facts surrounding the most important issue of this or any other time," according to the hearing's website.
Besides Woolsey, also plumbing the final frontier's mysteries this week are former U.S. Sen. Mike Gravel, D-Alaska, and former Reps. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md.; Merrill Cook, R-Utah; Darlene Hooley, D-Ore.; and Carolyn Kilpatrick, D-Mich.
The multiday hearing, which started Monday and ends Friday, promises testimony from about 40 researchers and military/agency witnesses and is being live-streamed in English and Spanish -- but it's viewable only after paying a $3.80 subscription.
The event was organized by the Paradigm Research Group -- a UFO conspiracy-theory group in Bethesda, Md., founded by activist Stephen Bassett, which invited the former lawmakers to use their House-honed skills in interviewing witnesses.
The White House in November 2011 answered a pair of petitions seeking disclosure of information on extraterrestrial life -- including a petition launched by Bassett -- by stating "the U.S. government has no evidence that any life exists outside our planet, or that an extraterrestrial presence has contacted or engaged any member of the human race. In addition, there is no credible information to suggest that any evidence is being hidden from the public's eye."
Woolsey, 75, retired last year after 10 terms in the House; she was succeeded by Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael.