Category Archives: News

To Trump or not to Trump – Notre Dame’s Question

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I have a few thoughts regarding the issue about Notre Dame publicly considering not inviting Donald Trump for a commencement speaker.   Here’s a link to a Washington Post article.

Here are a few excerpts from the article.

Notre Dame University may not extend an invitation to President-elect Donald Trump to this year’s graduation, a move that would break with a decades-long tradition of inviting presidents in their first year to deliver the main commencement address at the South Bend campus…

University President John Jenkins said the 2009 commencement featuring President Obama was a “political circus” that he is loath to repeat at this year’s ceremony…

“My concern a little bit is that, should the new president come, it may be even more of a circus,” he added.

This is the strongest valid point I believe Notre Dame has in taking this position.    I think it’s proper and valid to assess whether or not the speaker is being a major distraction and somehow affecting what should be a celebration of the graduates.    With as politically divided as this country is, it is probably reasonable to believe that people would not be so courteous as to not protest or take the new President’s presence as some personal affront to them.

I have a couple issues with this, but I also understand the reality.   My issues are (1) people should grow up and be respectful, and this shouldn’t be a concern to begin with, (2) I have a real question as to whether or not this is really an honest conclusion on the part of John Jenkins.    Is he prepared to say that, going forward, no Presidents will be invited under the current political environment?    If so, then fine.   But I can’t help but suspect that had Hillary Clinton won, she would be invited to speak.   I can’t know that, but I strongly suspect it.  (3) Why did Notre Dame so adamantly stick to their guns on this in Barack Obama’s first year?    They knew it would be a circus, at least from the standpoint of being a Catholic Institution.    Now, having said all that, if this is a new policy where Notre Dame says that going forward, we just want the day to be about our graduates and our politics are toxic and from this day forward no President or President-Elect will be invited, well, then that’s not a problem.

 

And then there is this:

“I do think the elected leader of the nation should be listened to. And it would be good to have that person on the campus — whoever they are, whatever their views,” Mr. Jenkins told The Observer, the student-run publication of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s.

 

This is hogwash.     At least the “whatever their views” part.   This is an academic institution, but it irks me to no end that these Catholic higher institutions consider discourse of ideas to be a higher calling than their own Catholic identity whenever that discourse of ideas runs afoul of Catholic teaching.    I have no idea with the idea that we should listen courteously to Barack Obama talking about general topics, or religion-neutral policies, whether I agree with his perspective or not.    I take great issue with having Catholic doctrine openly challenged on a Catholic campus.   And it is a perfectly reasonable position, if someone holds very public views expressedly contrary to Catholic Doctrine (not just differences in preferred opinion), to not invite any person – regardless of status or position – who holds those views.

 

Finally:

Conservative cardinals and bishops opposed the invitation of Mr. Obama at the time, citing his views on abortion which run contrary to church teaching. Prominent alumni also lobbied the school to disinvite the president.

Mr. Jenkins has expressed disapproval with the president-elect’s stance on immigration.

 

Eight years ago, Notre Dame ignored Bishops and Priests and expressed that the god of Academia reigns Supreme, and they had to know it would rankle people.   But now, there is no such dilemma.   Yes, it’s true that Trump is controversial, has said some things that are not all that nice, and has in the past held views contrary to Catholic views.   But as a candidate, and so far as a President-Elect, he has taken positions that can only be described as pro-religious freedom, pro-life, and simply not contrary in any way to Catholic doctrine.     Yes, it’s true that there is all sorts of disagreement about how to deal with immigration, and we need to have that debate.   And there is a real moral component to that, but there is room for disagreement.

In the end, I understand where the folks of Notre Dame are coming from.    I just wish I could really believe them.   They do not have a history where I trust that this isn’t just another response by sore-loser, snowflake-ridden, progressive academia presented as something else.

 

 

The Power of the Purse – Use it

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While this occurred in May 2016, I only recently became aware of action taken in Tennessee where Republicans finally grew a spine and used their brains to fight against anti-Christian and immoral social progressivism.

We often get myopic about how we can combat the things going on around us, leading to a feeling of helplessness and despair.   While we all know that we can pray and trust in God, we often act as if that’s an afterthought rather than our first line of defense.    God works in strange ways and in uncertain timelines, so us mere humans can sometimes get the feeling that our prayers are not heard if they are not immediately answered.   It’s a somewhat natural reaction, which is why faith and trust are often sheer acts of will as opposed to nice and comfortable emotional joyrides.   I sometimes contemplate the little chicken-and-egg type of sayings, like “I pray because I trust.  I trust because I pray.”   Well, which is it?    It’s both, of course.   I sometimes wonder if the very reason for a seemingly unanswered prayer is either because I didn’t trust enough that God would or could grant my request, or if He needs to test me by fire a little bit – force me to continue to trust even without getting exactly what I want.

So, while it is certainly fine that relying on prayer is a welcome myopia, at least as one of the actions we need to take, we often fail to use our brains in finding other ways to make a difference.

Let’s focus on some of the social issues around us and how we seem to never gain any ground – and in fact we always seem to lose ground.    Whether it’s abortion or same-sex marriage, or whether it’s the new pet of the progressive left, transgender issues (or definition of what gender is, period) we seem to really rely on elections, laws, and Supreme Court decisions.    If we lose an election at the federal level then, well, there’s nothing we can really do.  Worse yet, there seems to be this reluctance to actually stand up for anything when we do have the chance to do it out of some fear of losing power.    We continue to trade moral issues away out of some argument that this will preserve our power so we can do good in other areas.   It’s not exactly the wisdom of Solomon.   It’s the fear of a miser.

Lawmakers in Tennessee disagreed earlier this year.   And it’s a great example of using the power you have to impact behavior.

Here is a story on the subject:  Link to article

Notably, from the article, the bill

Bans UT from spending state funds “to promote the use of gender-neutral pronouns, to promote or inhibit the celebration of religious holidays, or to fund or support Sex Week,” most of which had already occurred.

What happened here is that the UT-Knoxville “office of diversity and inclusion” went off the rails of what they consider to be diverse and inclusive.   Which isn’t particularly surprising.    Many of these kinds of offices in Universities (as well as corporate America and government offices) long ago went off the rails.    And until now most of the response has been “if you don’t like it, don’t go there.”   Fair enough, but it’s also hypocritical.   These are entities that receive public funding (i.e. tax dollars) and the people making these arguments would be the first to go apoplectic if someone on staff uttered the words “Merry Christmas.”

The office of diversity and inclusion apparently believes that banning all gender-specific pronouns like “he”,”she”,”him”, or “her” so as not to offend anyone struggling with gender identity.   They also picked and chose acceptable and unacceptable religious holidays to make any sort of reference to, and they hosted what can only be called a completely offensive and inappropriate “Sex Week.”

So, the funding arm of the state Congress in Tennessee finally grew a pair and said “enough.”   All funding to that morally bankrupt department goes to actually helping minority students pay for school.    It was the right move, and a good move.   One hopes that either this entire office goes away completely or it rediscovers its actual purpose – which is to actually promote real diversity, encourage dialogue – not just liberal mantras – and be fully inclusive (including Christians and those who want to use boy pronouns to talk about boys.)

I hope this helps set precedent and embolden other legislative bodies.   We can push back – we don’t just have to accept cultural decay.   We might not be able to do it everywhere, but we can do it in a lot of places.   It’s time to use all the tools at our disposal.

The Fall of Elites and Persecution

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One of the things that has been evident throughout the year 2016, if one follows current events, is what seems like a sudden backlash against globalization.    The anti-elite/anti-globalist position is not new, but the sentiment has largely continued to be contained.   Those coming forth with an anti-globalism message have always been treated as something of a fringe group of extremists.

This isn’t entirely unfounded, to be perfectly honest.   The most ardent anti-globalists are found on both ends of the left/right spectrum.   The reasons are often completely different, so it’s not that both sides are envisioning the same utopian solution to the problem, but there is an alignment on sentiment.

For 60 years or so, the progressive elites managed to plod consistently along in their efforts to open borders, open trade, and incorporate a migration of progressive social norms and beliefs across regions of the world.    Many promises were made on all fronts about how wonderful it all would be.   Wars would cease, there would be a chicken in every pot, but no one person would have more than a few, and no one person would be without.  We could all have everything.

But eventually, the mask on these things falls away.   Underlying the very tenets of all of this was an anti-capitalism masked as a new kind of better capitalism.   Unknown to many was the subtle fascism that was taking place.    I don’t mean jack-booted thug reactionary fascism (which is more an eventual result of trying to maintain the status quo than an actual element of fascism itself) but the coordination and even co-ownership of government and corporations.    This includes more and more governmental aspects of the business world, over-regulation, over-taxation, partnership between government and the private sector and all that comes with it.    When this becomes predominant, the government can control and dictate all aspects of economic life, and in many ways our daily life.    Even when not directly controlling ownership interests, the quid pro quo aspect of allowing company mergers to create monopolies while relentlessly punishing independent small businesses has staggering implications.

The promise of free trade has strong capitalistic sentiments around it, but this too comes with major issues.    It requires all actors to cooperate on an equivalent level.  It also requires our government to not foolishly export the dollar and risk an inflationary backlash.   This care has not taken place, as the country’s debt skyrockets and the trade deficit looms.   We continue to export the dollar, hoping and praying it doesn’t suddenly get sent back to us in droves.

At the same time, progressives escalated all sorts of changes to social norms.  If the elites are not openly anti-Catholic or anti-Christian, they consider those who hold fast to certain beliefs as unworthy of any serious consideration.    The escalation in normalization of abortion, gay marriage, transgenderism comes with it the establishment of human rights tribunals that are now openly challenging traditional moral beliefs as thought crimes or hate crimes.   The message has been that such beliefs are hateful and not to be tolerated.   It’s OK to think those things to yourself in the privacy of your bathtub, but leave it there or face prosecution.

It seemed that until 2015 people were either ignorant, apathetic, or too frightened to push back on these continued developments.    During 2016, we have seen an amazing upheaval of the emboldened who have had enough.    More surprisingly is that this upheaval now counts among its ranks not just the marginally disaffected or the extremist wings of left and right, but an ever-growing element of the population that realizes that they are not extreme and are now being labeled as such because they don’t want to just continually move along with the ever-changing lines of what is considered appropriate decorum.   They have had it with political correctness.   They are sick of being labeled as racist or hateful because they have some sense of standard or principle.   They are tired of a good capitalistic system being completely perverted, and then the failings of the perversions being blamed on capitalism itself.   They are tired of government/corporate partnerships gaining monopolistic power and shutting down competition (crony capitalism).   People are tired of failed promises around free trade while there is no attempt to secure national borders.   People are tired of elitist, immoral, self-righteous, philosophical thinkers who have never worked a day in their lives telling us how to live, what to think, and what to say.

And so, Brexit happened.   And in many places in Europe there is discontent.   And populism arises.   And Donald Trump happens.

Don’t misunderstand me – not all of these developments are necessarily good.    Some may be good, some may be dangerous.    We are in a time where people have had enough and are now reacting.  Mini-political revolutions could eventually lead to real revolutions.   Nobody wants violence and bloodshed.   Nobody wants dicatatorships.   All these things are possible.

But why is it possible?   Because the elitists thought they had it all figured out and they pushed, and they pushed, and they pushed.   In many cases, they waited until they shaped the opinions of the majority so that they could maneuver with the tide.    But progressives are never happy, and they are not good at being patient.   When things don’t go their way, they do not always take it real well.   That’s because they know what’s good for us.   They are also emboldened by some success, which can lead to overreaching their mandate.

An overreach beyond where the public is at, along with evidence of actual failures now impacting the daily lives of the people, is what has happened in the last decade or so.   And now, people are pushing back.

And the elites don’t like that one bit.

Whenever someone starts to lose the grip of power, they seldom just let it happen.   There are scapegoats, they will lie, they will double-down, and they will fight.    We are in a perilous time.    The elites are coordinated, they are in all the highest levels of numerous governments, they control the central banks and the courts (I am not speaking of “control” in the conspiratorial sense, just in the sense of the reality of who is in what positions around the globe – these are almost all globalists and proudly and publicly so).

So, who is their scapegoat?

Perhaps there will be a number of scapegoats, but it really is quite simple.   Barack Obama considers those clinging to God and guns to be an enemy of progressivism.   This is a glib and simple summary of who can be expected to be the targets of elitist ire.

The unrest is out of the bag.   It will not be quelled naturally.   Not just in the United States, but globally, drastic measures will need to be taken by the elites or they will risk losing all they have worked to accomplish.   God only knows what those drastic measures will be.   But if you are not falling in line with their Credos because you actually have a moral base, and if you believe in your First and Second Amendment rights, then it’s highly likely that you will be a target.

It remains to be seen how that will happen, and how dramatically.   But keep your eyes open.

Infiltrating the Church – Democrats Steal a Page – or 80 – From the Communists

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In the sepope-hillaryemingly endless dump of Wikileaks documents – many that should give any voter great pause about what kind of person they are supporting in Hillary Clinton even in the absence of continued additional revelations – is the nugget that we heard about for a short time and got a few Catholics riled up until the next e-mail dump distracted us.

It is indicative of our AD&D age that we can’t seem to focus on a horrid thing that has been uncovered for more than a day.   I mean, seriously, if Watergate happened today it wouldn’t even be a lead story in today’s news cycle.   There would be somebody who brings it up, the partisans would argue that this is just politics, a few people would yell at each other on TV, and within two days we’d be on to the next thing.    The numbers of scandals that have occurred since the Bill Clinton years and have continued to this day make the Watergate scandal look like a bouncy house on the White House lawn.    That analogy probably makes no sense.   This makes it perfectly apt in today’s political environment, because that makes no sense either.

Let me provide a link for your memory.

“There needs to be a Catholic Spring, in which Catholics themselves demand the end of a middle ages dictatorship and the beginning of a little democracy and respect for gender equality in the Catholic Church,” Sandy Newman, president and founder of the progressive nonprofit Voices for Progress, writes to Podesta in an email titled “opening for a Catholic Spring? just musing.”

In response, Podesta assures Newman to rest easy for he and his progressive pals have already created organizations explicitly designed to infiltrate the Catholic Church with progressive ideology, though he cautions that the time may not be right for full revolution — just yet.

“We created Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good to organize for a moment like this. But I think it lacks the leadership to do so now. Likewise Catholics United. Like most Spring movements, I think this one will have to be bottom up,” Podesta writes.

A scholar at the Left-wing Center for American Progress emailed Podesta in 2011 bashing then-Fox News CEO Roger Ailes for his Catholic Faith.

“It’s an amazing bastardization of the faith,” John Halpin wrote to Podesta, and Jennifer Palmieri, now the communications director of the Clinton campaign. “They must be attracted to the systematic thought and severely backwards gender relations and must be totally unaware of Christian democracy.”

Palmieri, agreed.

“I imagine they think it is the most socially acceptable politically conservative religion,” she wrote. “Their rich friends wouldn’t understand if they became evangelicals.”

 

To the non-religious among us, this may not seem like a major issue.   But this is a huge issue.   It’s actually quite unbelievable, while unfortunately being entirely believable.

Everyone wants to focus on the bigotry and insults – that people are Catholic or not based not on beliefs, but to impress their friends, be socially acceptable, and for political reasons.   That’s insulting, sure.   And to call the devout Catholics backwards and in the same sentence berate evangelicals is head-shaking as well.

But the most incredible admission here is that two faux Catholic groups have actually been started for the explicit purpose of influencing the moral teachings of the Church for entirely secular and political reasons.   I cannot overstate how diabolical this is.   This should be utterly disqualifying to any person of any religion.   We cannot reward leaders who view our Nation, founded upon Judeo-Christian values, with this kind of disdain.

I know this was in the news, but I want to challenge all the Christians to not forget this.   Over the next three weeks we will see continued mudslinging and Wikileaks drops and debates.   But this is not and should not be a dead issue in our minds even if the news cycle treats us like we have the attention spans of gnats.

Any political system or Party that actively works to undermine the Church is by definition an antichrist.  (Not THE Antichrist – but an antichrist).   Sounds harsh, I know, but we need to call a spade a spade.   It is well known that Communists actually sent men to be seminarians for the express intent of infiltrating the Church.   (e.g. See this book and this wiki page).

We have long accepted that this is self-evident evil.    If we do not come to grips with the fact that today’s progressive Democrats are in the same bed as the Communists, then we simply don’t want to see what is self-evident evil in our own American political class.   The tactics may differ (or who knows – maybe not.   It wouldn’t surprise me at all if we someday find that some seminarians have been encouraged to enter the Priesthood in order to further political liberalism) but the intent is the same.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph – Pray for us.

 

The Faux Righteousness of NBC

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One of the interesting things to come of this Presidential election isn’t a bad thing.    While the entire process seems like – as a coworker put it – one big garbage fire, there’s a certain satisfaction that comes with the realization that the Emperor is not wearing any clothes.    All the revelations about how horribly insipid all aspects of society seem to be is not pretty, is not comfortable, and ultimately may be somewhat catastrophic to life as we know it.    But if all the world is built on lies and corruption, then what good is all of this anyway?   Better to present what it is, tear it down, and build it back up again the way it’s supposed to be.

There are direct revelations, and then there are those where one needs to contemplate a few things and put the pieces all together.   The political-media complex has been unearthed for what it is in the  Wikileaks e-mails.   Newsflash:  Democrats hate Christians, the media hates Republicans, and they collude together to impact the outcome of elections and promote a secular agenda.    WOW!   Who ever woulda guessed!?   Um, yeah.   Most of us.   But until it was laid bare, it was surmising an opinion based on circumstantial evidence and logic, which could be easily enough met with denials to convince the apathetic among us that it was all imagined.    No more is this the case.

Alas, the breadth of all this is vast.   So, let’s focus on one of the aspects of the release of the tapes by NBC from a “hot mic” episode in 2005.    Unless you’ve been in a coma with earplugs in for the last week, you know about the derogatory language Trump was picked up saying on a leaked video.    And I’ve already discussed the fact that NBC and the Clinton campaign held the tape until now, which basically means they don’t care about anything but themselves and their political chances.   Otherwise they would have done the right thing and released it during the primaries.

But forget about all that for now.   Let’s focus on the sheer and laughable response by NBC.    Let’s lay it all out in context:   in 2005 Trump was picked up having this discussion with Billy Bush.   Billy, a “reporter” for Access Hollywood played along like a good Hollywood sex-driven lunatic would be expected to do.    He laughs with the Donald, engages in his own commentary (reports are that NBC edited the tape to minimize for the public Bush’s part of this, but that he had a lot more to say) and encourages a woman to hug Trump after the conversation took place.    For ELEVEN years, this behavior was known by NBC.   In the meantime, Billy Bush kept his job on Access Hollywood, and ultimately was promoted to the Today show.

Not only that, but NBC – who I repeat, knew about this tape – put Donald Trump on the air and made oodles of money from The Apprentice.   Word has it that in both the cases of Bush and Trump, there are many cases of crass and rude language.   And you know what?   I would bet that if all the media personalities on NBC had all their “hot mic” or edited segments released, we would find very few sinless people there.   And I am willing to bet that the pattern of behavior with respect to sexual commentary is constant.

But now that we’re in the world of politics, the tape has been released.   Remember, NBC could have released this months ago.  In doing so, they decided that the “common good” for the country outweighed sacrificing one of their own.   They have managed to avoid a lot of scrutiny implicating them on enabling this kind of behavior by rewarding it.    But now that the tape is released, well BY GOD, THAT BILLY BUSH NEEDS TO BE PUNISHED!    It’s stupid, it’s sickening, and it’s irrational.

Listen, I didn’t even know who Billy Bush was before this.   Don’t really care on a personal level that he’s suspended.   In a morally upright universe, both Bush and Trump would have been told that it’s unacceptable behavior and they should try to find another network.    But none of that happened.   So to fake moral outrage now is so disingenuous that it reveals only that the folks at NBC are hypocritical, political, and not wearing any clothes.

Trump and Bush are symptoms of the problem.   NBC is the problem.   Or, more accurately, part of the system that is the problem.

Paul Ryan’s Conscience and Politics

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I’ve spent a lot of time on Politics here lately, for a blog called “Catholic Diatribes.”   In my opinion, everything in life can be, and indeed should be, viewed from a lens of faith.   It need not be the only lens, but it should be part of the equation.   In our world, but in particular the country of the United States, we are overly consumed with politics.

Politics can be very difficult to be viewed through a lens of faith.   And even when attempted, two people can come to startlingly different conclusions.   I won’t re-hash the debate about how a good Catholic can vote for Hillary, but I’ve discussed it before.   I never have, and will never understand, how a person of faith can ever support a pro-abortion candidate, among other problematic moral issues.

I do think there is a legitimate struggle with Catholic and other Christian voters who do not plan to vote for Hillary, but who also cannot move all the way to the idea of voting for Trump.    While I’ve argued here that no matter how much it may stink, we have no other reasonable option.    It might be different if there were a viable third party candidate who extols the virtue we all seek in our public servants from  a Christian worldview.    That candidate does not exist, at least not in any of the four top candidates who are picked up by the polls.    And if you aren’t even registering, the you realistically do not exist and casting a vote there is no different than a no-vote.

So, ignoring the Christians (I exhibited great restraint not putting quotes around that, but still couldn’t not mention that I had great restraint, so I guess it’s only a bit of restraint) who are voting Hillary, we have those who are voting Trump, not voting at all, or voting for a Third party candidate.    I’ve heard some people say they are voting Gary Johnson “just to send a message.”   Egad.   This is stupid if you are a social conservative.   Because the only message that says is that you want social issues removed as issues from the GOP platform.   People need to think a little bit about the message they are actually sending before they do it.

Things get trickier when you move to Catholic politicians who actually are Catholic.  Take Paul Ryan.    As a bit of an aside, one of the things that really bothers me is how personal everyone seems to take things that politicians say, do, and how they vote.    Paul Ryan is a good man.   He is a man of faith, and he is a man of character.   Now, he ticks me off sometimes because I think he tries to find a viable political solution while maintaining certain principles, and I think he’s doing what he thinks is right.   But I don’t always agree with him that he’s right.   In fact, there are many times I don’t agree with him.    But is he the kind of person I want in Congress?   Absolutely.

Paul Ryan is a man of legit faith, in my opinion.   We Christians should not demonize him over budgetary policy and tax policy.   We Christians should push back with issue-oriented arguments, but still muster respect for him.   As Speaker of the House, he has a lot of responsibility, and I trust that he does things that he believes are in the best interests of the country.   I don’t always agree that it actually is, and I am sick of compromise in many areas.    And I’l get angry with him from a logistical level.   But I don’t hate the man, and neither should anyone else.

Most recently, Paul Ryan has attempted to walk the tightrope between not supporting Trump while not unendorsing Trump.   I think if we look at this from the Christian perspective, we can be honest and understand the desire to do this.   Despite my continued call to vote for Trump, it is not because of anything particularly favorable towards the man.   It is entirely due to the worse alternative, and the fact that I must judge my choice at this point not on character but on a presumption that the probability he will do certain things I align with far outweighs the probability that the other will do anything at all that I align with.   And, in my opinion, a man like Paul Ryan should have the clarity of mind to say exactly that.    I understand not wanting to campaign with Trump.    But most certainly he is smart enough to find a way to make this situation work.

Politically speaking, it is my belief that his attempt to navigate this situation is, at best, not helpful to his cause (which is keeping the House Republican) and is at worst an unmitigated disaster.    There are very few people who are going to vote for down line GOP candidates because Paul Ryan has told people to distance themselves from Trump.   It’s just not a realistic expectation.    However, there is a great possibility that anyone who distances themselves from Trump will get a bunch of “kiss my you-know-what’s” from his ardent supporters and jeopardize their races.    Paul Ryan’s move here, which may have been both principled and a political strategy, is simply a horrible mistake and could prove costly.

If it’s costly, I suppose they’ll blame Trump.   It’s not as though Trump is helping matters and he could certainly handle this better.   But Ryan had to know going in that Trump doesn’t care who he chastises.   This may be an immature response, but it is not unexpected, which still places the ultimate culpability on Ryan for kicking the dog in the first place.

I empathize with Ryan.   I am sure it is difficult being asked to not only support verbally, but to also campaign with someone who you find distasteful.   It is a moral dilemma.    But there had to be a better way of navigating this.   That horse has left the barn, which is regrettable.

 

The Hypocrisy of Feigned Shock

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It’s almost impossible to keep up with all the problematic moral issues completely flooding the Presidential campaign.   And with each issue, there are multiple facets to what is being discussed.    It is not only about the shocking sin of the day, and who did it, it’s also about who’s casting the stones and who is “shocked and disturbed” by the new revelation of the day.

Today I’d like to address a different aspect of the lewd Trump/Bush tape from 2005 that was unveiled to the world last Friday.   You know, because we need to be fully informed on every piece of dirt on everyone.

While there is rightful disgust at the words of Trump on the recently released video, let’s also contemplate the fact that this information was known and purposefully held for maximum political benefit.  The self-righteous indignation from those complicit in NOT making this available a year or more ago is pathetic.  These people wanted Trump to win the Republican nod, not for good of country or process, but for their own gain.   If they truly believe he is dangerous and would bring harm as President, then they had a duty to inform well before a month before the election.

Secondly, this was clearly held until the Wikileaks drop, which is damning to Hillary on her dishonesty regarding private versus public beliefs and illegal coordination between her campaign and Super PACs.

And we all play along and allow the manipulation.   It’s all a game.   Hillary doesn’t care one iota about what’s best for the country, or you, or me.  She cares about Hillary.

And Trump is demeaning and obnoxious.  Agreed.  I’m still mad at my fellow Republicans for making him the guy I need to compare to Hillary (who is demonstrating how horrible of a candidate she is by not running away with this).  But enough of the hand-wringing sanctimonious BS.

We get the leaders we deserve.  And quite frankly,  we deserve it.

New Release: Election 2016 (Rated R)

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OK, in honor of the politics of 2016, I’ll start my entry today in a crass manner:  Anyone who has previously questioned whether or not our entire culture is a floater in the toilet has since just thrown up their hands and accepted it by now.

I find it difficult to believe anyone witnessing the debacle of today’s politics and the morally bankrupt candidates we’ve selected to run for the highest office in the land to be emblematic of anything other than a complete reduction of all standards to the basest of levels.

So, I won’t really get into the contents of the Trump Video from 2005, and whether or not he’s said other disturbing things during the off-TV moments of The Apprentice.   I mean, if we’re all being honest, does it actually really surprise anyone?   It’s shocking and disgusting, but is there really anyone out there that didn’t already know the guy we’re talking about wasn’t an f-bomb dropper and more than willing to engage in the crudest of what has now been labeled “locker room talk?”   (And, unfortunately having been a jock in my younger years, I can attest to the fact that he’s not wrong.   Yes, the words are about what is legally assault, which is horrible, and is still plenty of what you might hear in a locker room on any given day.   It’s not excusing it and it doesn’t speak well of anyone speaking that way, but it is reality.)

I won’t list the litany of counter-examples of Hillary being a completely disgusting human being in her own right, by dropping every curse word in the book at those charged to protect her, in talking about the American flag, in talking about mentally disabled children.   Again, if anyone is really honest does any of this really surprise us?   It’s always shocking to actually read and hear, but we long accepted that our two nominees are morally bankrupt human beings.

Mainly, the whole thing is just sad.   As a coworker of mine phrased it, “I think we all can agree that this whole thing is just one big garbage fire.”   He will vote Hillary.   I will vote Trump.   But on that statement, we have agreement.    And neither of us will vote for our selected candidates because we like them.    We just dislike the other one more.

I have written of my intent to vote Trump, and I have stated that, in my opinion, it is the clear moral choice to vote Trump.   I do not retract these words, I still feel strongly about that, and I will have no issue with voting Trump.    None of that means I like the man, and none of that means that I don’t wish I had another reasonable option.    The fact is, there is no viable alternative for me.   Even if I embraced the fantasy that voting for the next best viable option (Gary Johnson) I cannot do it anyway, because on the issues where I am hopeful that Trump will actually handle correctly Gary Johnson is as bad – if not worse – than Hillary.   Even the fourth best option, Jill Stein, is left of left on moral and cultural issues.    In order to find any person that remotely appeases my conscience I need to find someone that 99.99% of the population has not even heard of.   And that means it is an utterly wasted vote.   No, I need to settle on Trump.    I don’t think I even need to point out why it can never be Hillary, but briefly stated:  she’s every bit as morally bankrupt (and I even think more so) than Trump is.   And even if some disagree with me on that, it’s like arguing whether the mold on the side of the cheese is more edible than the mold on the top of the cheese.   So, we’ve long moved past the character issue as something us Christians can rely on.   I don’t say this glibly.   It really sucks to not be able to respect either candidate in any way.    But that’s the reality we’re in.     So, I simply need to find any light I can to separate the two of them.    And in the end, there was one question at the second debate that provides that separation.  When questioned on the Supreme Court Appointments, Clinton proudly said she would appoint justices that upheld Roe vs. Wade,  Marriage Equality, and a litany of other litmus tests.    She even claimed Trump would appoint justices that would not uphold these rulings (which she presented negatively).   Trump did not argue with her, and instead doubled down on appointing justices in the mold of Antonin Scalia.

Now, many have claimed that Trump is liberal on social issues and is not a “real” pro-lifer.  And it’s true he doesn’t often openly address the issue if not asked about it.   He has responded in a pro-life manner when asked, and I agree that it’s a bit iffy just how committed to the cause he personally is.    But here’s the thing:   even if the impetus for appointing justices in the mold of Scalia are because of 2nd Amendment Rights, Freedom of Speech, etc.  then the byproduct of that is that those justices are FAR MORE likely to also favor freedom of religion, freedom of conscience, and challenge Roe vs. Wade, among other things.    They will be FAR MORE willing to rule in favor of state’s rights than to allow federal government infringement when unnecessary.

If there is no other issue that separates them, this is still a clear moral choice.   Perhaps not with respect to the person, but with respect to how that person will govern.

As I have stated elsewhere, “I know with certainty the evil the one will do.   I hope with uncertainty the good that the other will do.   And to me, that makes it an obvious choice.”

Really, I can’t say it enough:  This election sucks.

If Charlie Johnson is correct about things to come, the whole thing actually doesn’t even matter.   But I still feel called to fight and care anyway.   Maybe I shouldn’t worry about it, but I think it behooves us all to fight the fight until there is no more fight to win or lose, either way.

Us Catholics – and all Christians – seem to be in a bit of a tight spot be being forced to support a guy who has said the things he’s said.   I don’t think we need to feel that way if we keep our wits about us.   There really can be nobody of any repute that can call us hypocritical of voting for Trump.   Anyone who claims that is being disingenuous.   I think the balancing act we need to work out is making it clear why we “support” him, and also making it clear why we’re not necessarily thrilled with it.   There is no reason to defend his wrongdoings, and yet we can also support his election based on everything I wrote about here.  Also, it’s important to note that regardless of what happens, we ultimately must accept that God’s plan is playing itself out.   God’s plan may seem either obvious or utterly ridiculous, but we really have nobody to blame but ourselves for Him doing what He needs to do.   Had we stood up against the cultural rot we’re soaking in long ago, we wouldn’t have the choice between these two candidates, who are not just flawed but grossly so.

One wonders, though…  if THIS is the Year of Mercy, what in the world is in store for us when the year ends on November 20?    Egad.

My Debate Wish List

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I guess it would be too much to ask that either Trump or Clinton lead off the debate with a Rosary.   Or a salute to Our Lady of Guadalupe.   So, I guess I’ll need to keep my wish list to things more temporally satisfying.

Before I even start, I’ll tip my hand.   I cannot in any case ever, ever, ever see myself voting for Hillary Clinton.   Never ever.   Ever.   There is zero common ground I have with her on issues of morality, but then extending beyond that we have no common ground on any of the other temporal matters at hand, either.   I find her entirely and utterly despicable.   Or, to use her word, deplorable.   I won’t say she’s unredeemable (another of her words, which is not actually a word) because God can do anything, and in fact Christ redeemed us all if only we accept that redemption.    But she labeled a number of Americans with that word as well, which further speaks to her character.

Having tipped my hand, I suppose I need to do what everyone else feels compelled to do, and to make it clear that I don’t really like Trump either.    I find it somewhat fascinating that people always feel the need to be apologetic and squeamish about supporting a candidate.   I am neither apologetic, nor am I squeamish.  I have a choice to make here, and I’ll make it, and I won’t apologize for it.   If I am perturbed by anyone, it’s the other voters who ultimately gave me this choice.    I did not vote for Trump in the Primary, and he was never my favorite or even close to it.

But I can’t change that, so I can either throw a tantrum and not vote, under the delusion that he’s as bad as Hillary, or I can vote third party under the delusion that either of those nutjobs are any better (OK, I suppose that wasn’t charitable.   This is a Catholic blog and I suppose I should be more careful.   On the other hand, I’m not supposed to lie, so I’m in a conundrum.   So I’ll keep the comment and you can feel free to judge me.).  Or I can suck it up and be an adult and recognize that I have only one choice to make.   And since I’m forced to choose between these two, I choose one and will not apologize in any way for it.    It doesn’t mean I’ll defend him on everything, it means that I think he’s imperfect but still a lot better than the alternative.

And so, there it is.   Full disclosure on my feelings.

So, with that, here is my wish list:

  1. In Trump’s opening remarks, he paints the backdrop for the entire debate.   That while Clinton spent the last week resting and rehearsing every detail and every scenario, and turning herself into a robotic and programmed policy wonk who is incapable of authenticity, he spent the last week traveling around and meeting with every day Americans.    That he didn’t rehearse at all, except to talk about some things that might come up in the debate.   That he didn’t have stand-in Hillary practice.   So, in the next 90 minutes, the American people are going to hear my real, unrehearsed, authentic thoughts.   It may not be finely tuned and rehearsed, and he may not have decided to memorize and encyclopedia’s worth of details on every issue under the sun.   As President, he will have trusted advisers to provide all the details, while his job is to stay big picture and provide direction.     And so on.    Basically, he needs to set the entire debate up in his favor so that every time she throws out statistics and facts and policy, he can engage where comfortable but always have a default response of “you did a nice job of memorizing in the last week there.”    This will use her strength against her and sow doubt.    He doesn’t need to beat her on facts and figures if he can create a sense that whenever she goes there it’s just not authentic and not what the voters care about.     He may or may not win that argument with the high-brow intellectuals, but he will win it with typical Americans who have proven that they simply don’t care about all these details.   They are no watching the debate to find out who knows more about the issues.   They just aren’t.   That is a bit sad, but true.    It caused me angst during the Republican debates.    Trump clearly doesn’t know as much about policy as many others on stage.   And yet, he won the nomination.    Trump just needs to find a way to equalize that advantage so that he keeps people unimpressed by the know-how, and makes it about stature and personality.
  2. I want to see a 5-minute coughing fit from Hillary about 45 minutes in.    Maybe prompting Trump to offer her a glass of water.    I am not wishing for a major medical event, let me be clear.   I just want coughing.   It would provide entertainment value, it would be incredibly embarrassing for her, and quite frankly I think something as goofy as that with 100 million people watching would simply be her death knell.   Politically speaking.    I suppose this isn’t particularly charitable of me either.
  3. I want to see Trump wear a tie-pin that clearly says “Les Deplorables.”
  4. I want to hear Hillary Clinton say the words “radical Islamic terrorism.

To be perfectly honest, I think we’re just living in sad times where, as a friend of mine said, this whole thing is just one big garbage fire.    I think I’m well past the point of hopefulness that the process, at least this year, actually is redeemable.

So, I can choose to stew in bitter disgust, or I can at least try to enjoy it.   Admittedly, it’s kind of like enjoying the view of the ocean while on the deck of the Titanic.

 

Charlotte’s Web

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If one pays attention to the world about, it is often apparent that there is a strange dichotomy in place, nearly side by side.   It’s that old traditional saw about the battles between good and evil, it’s the wheat and the weeds, etc.    Sometimes, it’s the crucifixion and resurrection – something good somehow coming from something bad.

Charlotte has suddenly been thrust into the darkness of civil unrest following another police shooting.    It matters not that the police officer was black, all that matters is that the victim was black.   It seems we are now in a state where chaos will be triggered no matter what the circumstances.   Here is the image of Charlotte America now sees:

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To be clear, I do not know what happened.   I don’t know if the shooting was justified or unjustified.   I don’t know if the victim was truly a victim because no gun was involved, or if he was in fact a criminal who threatened the officer with a gun, reaping what he sowed.   What I do know is that I don’t know, and what I do know is that few, if any at all, of the protesters know at this point, either.   The police department is being criticized today for not releasing the video of the incident.   I don’t know enough about it to judge it myself, but I am nearly certain that we have reached a level of discord that the video could clearly show an man pointing a gun directly at police and there would still be people ignoring it, so that they can use this unfortunate circumstance to do harm to others.

And yet, I read another article today about Charlotte’s boom in seminarians.

Here are a couple excerpts from the article.

“For the first time in its 44-year history, the Diocese of Charlotte has 24 men in formation in three seminaries. A contributing factor to the record number of seminarians this year has been the establishment of a minor seminary in Charlotte, St. Joseph’s College Seminary.”

“Under the steady and orthodox leadership of Bishop Peter Jugis the diocese has fostered a strong devotion to the Eucharist. Just this past weekend Charlotte hosted its 12th Eucharistic Congress.  15,000 people participated this year, many arriving early Saturday to join in the annual Eucharistic Procession through the streets of downtown Charlotte.”

Now, the article I linked to tends to think it’s all about Traditionalism.  That’s OK.   I don’t disregard the fact that those who prefer a Traditional Liturgy will tend to be more orthodox.   I do think it’s a mistake to equate orthodoxy with Traditionalism.   I consider myself entirely orthodox when it comes to submitting to the magesterial teachings of the Church, while considering certain elements of worship as preferences.   I think we fight too much about things that are preferences.   But I digress.

The reason I point out the article is as a juxtaposition of the anger and hatred on display right now.   In the heart of it is the following picture of Charlotte:

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I’m often reminded of the stories of hope during World War II, even among those in concentration camps or those threatened with that possibility.    The images above and those stories serve as a reminder to us that we are a world in constant opposition.   God wants us, and  the Devil wants to take us away from God.   Evil manifests itself in countless ways.   But no matter how much darkness there seems to be, and no matter where you are and what is happening, God has pockets of light.   A little light can break through a lot of darkness.

The men above are the men who can help heal Charlotte.