How Will I Write About President Elect Trump?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Gage Skidmore https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Gage Skidmore https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/

How am I going to write about President Elect Trump? What standard will I use to determine how I react to the way he conducts his office, moving forward?

I am going to answer that question as clearly as I can because there is so much operatic emotion surrounding this election that I think it’s necessary. I have veered off into the operatic myself.

I did not support either of the candidates in the election just past. I do not support pro abortion politicians and I do not support misogynist, race-baiting politicians with the personal morals of a libertine. That means, de facto, that I did not support either of them.

That’s a fair enough position. But it’s also not an entirely honest description of what happened with me. The truth is, I’ve never been as upset by an election as I was this one. I felt as if this election put me in an emotional vise.

When I thought about Secretary Clinton, the agony of what a baby goes through in an abortion engulfed me. When I thought about then candidate Trump, the horror of being hated simply because you are you that he directed at Hispanic people and women almost overwhelmed me.

My reaction to the things Candidate Trump said about wanting to “date” his daughter, calling women vile names and bragging about sexual assault were so strong that they created a kind of white noise in my mind. Then, when I read the connections between Russia and the DNC hacks and considered the parallel policy changes Candidate Trump was espousing, I pretty much lost it. We’ve had bad presidents before. But we’ve never had one I honestly thought might be a traitor to this country.

I’ve been in meltdown mode since these things happened. Candidate Trump was a lot of things that I cannot abide. But he is the president elect, and he will be the president of my country. To the extent that I am capable, I am going to try my best to write about him with clarity.

I will never support him in any of the things I’ve mentioned. I will oppose him with my last breath on these things.

But I will write about President Trump the same way I wrote about President Obama. When I agree with him, I’ll say so. When I disagree with him, I’ll say that. I am not going to excuse, gloss or pretend when he tries to weasel his way around doing what he should.

For instance, I am highly critical of his reversal of earlier statements on traditional marriage. I am also no fan of his economic ideas. I will oppose him on his treatment of hispanics and women.

I also — and this is a critical factor in what I say and write — do not believe he means the things he says. What that means is that I expect him to change positions as the need suits him and rely on people to forget he did it. That will inform how I write about him.

I am going to back him as hard as I can if he actually nominates pro life justices to the Supreme Court, and — I may be naive for thinking this — but I really think he’s going to rescind the HHS Mandate. But, again, if he tries to weasel out of it at any time in the process — and I’m fairly good at seeing through political weaseling — I’m going to call it, and be hard against it.

So, how will I write about President Elect Trump? I will write about him without hero worship and with the very jaundiced eye of someone who understands politics and who has a long memory. He can’t say one thing on Tuesday and another thing on Wednesday and bamboozle me into forgetting. I’m going to hold him to it.

I will also write about him with the skepticism of someone who is appalled by his behavior in the campaign and the way he has lived his life. I can’t pretend that I think he is a good man. I may be wrong, but right now, I am so negative about him and the kind of person I think he is, that I can honestly say that he scares me.

That said, I hope he manages to govern this country effectively and with justice. He is the president elect. He will be our president for four years. If he does not rise above the campaign he waged to win this office, we are all in very deep waters.

I will write about President Trump without backing off or backing down in my honest assessment of his actions as president. I sincerely hope that I have a lot more to say in support of his actions than in opposition. But whichever way it goes, you can rely on me to say the truth as I understand it without flinching from it or glossing it. I think you deserve that.

 

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You Don’t Burn Crosses on People’s Lawns for Sixteen Months then Expect Them to Forget It

Photo Source: Flickr creative commons by Gage Skidmore, https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/

Photo Source: Flickr creative commons by Gage Skidmore, https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/

I kind of had a meltdown before I wrote this. I’ve been listening to hispanic people I know and love express their grief and terror over this election. A couple of them told me they cried all night election night and that, even though they love our country, they no longer feel as if they know the people they’ve known for years.

I also have a deep personal horror of President Elect Trump’s treatment of women. I don’t really have words for how upset that made me, or how deeply alienated I feel.

Speaking of alienation, I feel betrayed to the core by our Catholic bishops — not, thankfully, my own Archbishop who DID address the attacks on women — because they did not use their teaching vocation to address these terrible things. I am heartbroken by the almost total lack of moral leadership from our bishops on such grave matters as sexual assault and racism.

Add to that my very great fears for this country under the governance of such a man — a man that I sincerely believe may have betrayed this country to a foreign power to get elected — and you get what I wrote here.

Apologies for the rant. I’m going to publish it because, one-sided as it is, I think it raises valid points that need to be discussed.

Here it is folks. Me, in a political rant.

You don’t put on your hood and burn crosses on people’s lawns for 16 months, then just call April Fool, joke’s on you, when you win an election.

America has elected its first Jim Crow president, and — surprise! — at least some of the people he targeted in his long, scorched-earth run to the presidency are refusing to go quietly into the night.

Protests against the prospect of four years of President Trump’s governance are springing up around the country. They are the logical reaction to the way he won.

I have no doubt that, if Secretary Clinton had won, other protestors would be out in the streets, going at her. It was that kind of hate-filled election. But she didn’t win. Or rather, she didn’t win the electoral college. She did win the popular vote.

What that means in real world thinking is that Clinton haters can put away their torches. Their bogeygirl is gone. It also means that President Elect Trump is facing an angry nation in which more voters voted against him than voted for him.

Our president elect tweeted that the protests against him are “unfair.” Then, in what I think is part of his new, “presidential” persona, he put out an upbeat tweet about being glad that Americans were exercising their rights.

I think he’s somewhat right on both counts.

Americans accept the outcome of elections. That is how we do things. If we don’t like the person who wins, we just fight him right down to the wire on the issues where we disagree, and we reload for the next election.

But we always — always — accept the outcomes of our elections.

These demonstrations are, as President Elect Trump said in his “presidential” tweet, Americans exercising their right to free speech. But they are also a reflection of the fact that about half the people are refusing to accept him as their president.

This is a visceral reaction to the first openly Jim Crow, openly misogynist, possibly traitorous president. Mr Trump became President Elect Trump by riding a racist, misogynist, Putin-loving horse into the White House. He ran a hate campaign from top to bottom, beginning with his racist birther claptrap from long before he was an official candidate.

He has plans for hispanics that mimic what Andrew Jackson did to the Cherokees. He belittled women and directed hate speech at them constantly, calling them dogs and pigs, and bragging about committing sexual assault. He announced that he would jail his political opponent, and he benefitted to the tune of a win from the Russian interference in the campaign in the guise of Wikileaks.

So … what’s not to like? Why would anybody be so unfair as to announce that this racist, misogynist, possibly traitorous man is less than what they want in a president?

That’s what President Trump and the people of this nation are facing. He has signaled that he wants to attempt a hard about turn into a more presidential persona. He has also consigned his “outsider” status to the ashcan by putting corporate interests in charge of key parts of his transition team.

In other words, he is already moving to dump much of what he said that got him elected, even as he goes to work using his manifest skills as a consummate marketer and demagogue to charm the people he has taught to hate him into liking him. He wants to govern this country, or at least sit in the White House in comfort without the sound of half the people chanting that no way is he their president drifting across the quiet of his breakfast table.

The problem with his change in persona is that the other half of the people — the ones who put him in office — expect him to keep his promises. He’s got to figure out how to wiggle out of his plans to build walls, deport millions, listen to the people instead of special interests, restore prosperity by taxing the poor to feed the rich, overturn Roe (which he can do, if he wants, btw) and destroying America’s international alliances in favor of Russia without losing the people — including President Putin — who got him here.

The standard political way to do this — and politicians renege on their campaign promises all the time — is to blame the opposition. “Them dastardly jerks on the other side overpowered my righteous fight” line of blather is politics 101.

It’s been working for pro life politicians who really want to keep Roe so they can use it in the next election for decades. It has worked out just great for other immigration demagogues who run hate campaigns, then turn to what they really want to do once they are elected.

Will President Trump be able to pull off the Svengali switch of convincing the people who supported him that his every failure is due to the nefarious and totally defanged Democratic party? After all, he’s only got the White House, both houses of Congress and the majority of state legislatures. How can anyone be so unreasonable as to expect him to succeed in delivering on his promises from a weak position like that?

He will probably pull off the Svengali switch, at least so far as his supporters are concerned. I’ve seen his supporters make up an imaginary Trump who is a good family man, a moral man, a patriotic man throughout this campaign. They have consistently denied every bit of factual evidence to the contrary to keep that faux Trump of their imaginings intact. Given President Elect Trump’s enormous talent as a demagogue, I have no doubt he can continue to convince them that the sun comes up in the west and the moon is made of green cheese for quite some time.

But there is still that other half of the electorate to deal with; the terrified hispanics with smoldering crosses on their front lawns, the women with scars from sexual assault by men like Trump who have degraded, attacked and hurt them. Those folks are not going to be so easy to persuade. They don’t think President Elect Trump is their messiah. They think he’s the spawn of satan.

And that is our misery, America. We have elected our first Jim Crow, openly libertine, misogynist, possibly traitorous president. We have handed him, not only the White House, but a clean sweep of Congress and the majority of state legislatures. That’s the same level of power that the electorate gave Franklin Roosevelt.

Will he use it to overturn Roe v Wade?

How is he going to wiggle out of his racist Jim Crow campaign against hispanics in order to keep the corporations happy with their cheap labor?

Will he continue to degrade women?

Is he going to create an environment in which misogyny and racism are the political/social zeitgeist?

I am all for him overturning Roe. I’m going to push hard to help him do it. I am also going to push hard to stop pro life people from falling for the lies when our pro life politicians try to get out of doing it — and they will. I’m already getting emails talking about how “tough” the fight is going to be, considering the nefarious powers of the opposition.

Remember this, going into the fight: Democratic senators and presidents have managed to get pro choice people on the court even when they didn’t have the majority in the Senate. If pro life politicians can’t manage to nominate and confirm pro life justices with a clean sweep like this, it’s not because of the Democrats, it’s because they don’t want to.

Politicians need abortion. Abortion covers for and excuses everything else they do, at least in the eyes of pro life voters. Without abortion, We the People might start looking at them without the fantasy thinking.

Christians abrogated every Gospel teaching and moral value we claim to believe except abortion in order to put this man in the White House. We have given him the power and the situation where it will be possible in the course of the next four years for him to nominate a Supreme Court that will overturn Roe. I only hope we have the guts to refuse to allow him and the Senate to weasel out now that we’ve given them the power.

As for that other little problem of having elected our first Jim Crow, misogynist, possibly traitorous president, my hope is that Christians will renew their Baptismal vows and stand for the whole Gospel of Christ instead of the pieces and parts of it that fit their politics.

The Christian witness in the larger society was damaged before the election. Now, it’s pretty much trashed.

We destroyed our authenticity as followers of the carpenter from Nazareth in this campaign. We confirmed Christian bashers’ worst estimates of us with our bland acceptance of whatever evil candidate Trump committed. I most emphatically include many religious leaders, including most of our Catholic bishops, in that column.

We sacrificed the Gospels on the altar of political expedience, and by doing that we won the battle of the election and lost the war of converting our society.

America has elected its first Jim Crow, openly misogynist and possibly traitorous president. America’s religious leaders tossed aside every single Christian value except being anti-abortion to support him.

The question is, what do we do now?

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It’s President Trump. What Does That Mean?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons, commercial use attribution license, by Gage Skidmore https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons, commercial use attribution license, by Gage Skidmore https://www.flickr.com/photos/gageskidmore/

What a night. I sat up late, watching the election returns, along with a lot of other people all around the globe. At the end of the evening, it was clear that America’s president elect is Donald J Trump.

Mr Trump was the clear winner in the electoral college, but if this morning’s vote trend continues, Secretary Clinton may end up winning the popular vote. The margin is razor thin, signifying a sharply divided electorate.

Mr Trump signaled a hard turn in his behavior with his acceptance speech. He thanked his opponent in the general election, Secretary Hillary Clinton, for “her service” to our nation. That was a big change in tone compared to what I saw him do in a speech just the night before in which he ranted and raved about how Secretary Clinton belonged in jail. I assume that it’s part of his new “presidential” public personality.

Be that as it may, I am hopeful that he turns out to be a good president for this country. The future of everyone I love is riding on it.

As for me, if he just keeps his campaign promise and actually nominates justices to the Supreme Court who are pro life and who favor religious liberty, it will be enough. We have one vacancy on the court right now. At least one of the sitting justices is elderly and in frail health. What that means is that President Trump may have the opportunity to nominate the justices who will give us a pro life majority on the court. It is possible that Roe might be overturned.

If I could see that happen before I die, it would be a gift.

However, we’ve seen decades of failures of various “pro life” presidents to nominate candidates who actually made pro life rulings once they got on the court. Pro life presidents just can’t seem to do the job of nominating pro life justices whose pro life beliefs will stick. On the other hand, pro choice presidents have a 100% record of nominating people who ultimately support Roe from the court. I don’t know if President Elect Trump will do a better job of nominating than his predecessors, but I hope and pray that he does.

One of the best things about his election is the hope it brings that we may see an end to the legal attacks on Christian business owners and Christian health care workers who do not want to participate in activities such as abortion or same-sex weddings. It would also be a vast relief to see the repeal of the invidious HHS Mandate. Again, I have hope that these are promises that he will keep.

Will President Trump follow through on his promise to build a wall along the border between Mexico and the United States and to deport millions of illegal immigrants? Will he stop immigration into this country from the Middle East? Those promises were two of the reasons why he won this election. However, the first one is highly impracticable and both of them fly in the face of what the big corporations want.

The reason why the illegal immigration problem never changes, even after repeated political campaigns hyping it, is that corporate interests like things the way they are. They want cheap labor in this country and they want cheap labor in Mexico, both.

Congress is pretty much a corporate puppet organization. They seldom bestir themselves to do much of anything except grandstand, pass tax breaks for special interests and the wealthy, create more corporate welfare and enact “reforms” that are laws for and by the corporations and which were often written by corporate entities.

Will a corporate Congress lock up in defense of corporate interests concerning immigration? On the other hand, will President Trump pursue his campaign promises in these matters with the same enthusiasm that he promoted them on the campaign trail? We’ll have to watch and see how this all plays out.

A corporate Congress should make smooth sailing for the massive tax cut to the wealthiest interests which President Elect Trump has promised. I think that is one thing we can count on happening. I say that unhappily. I’ve witnessed here in Oklahoma what bleeding the middle class and working people to give tax cuts to the rich does to an economy.

I think such tax cuts will harm the economy, not help it, for the simple reason that we’ve already transferred an unfair share of paying the costs of our government onto working people. I don’t think they can carry a heavier load. This is ironic, since those are the very people who put President Trump in office, and one of the reasons they voted for him is because they are overburdened economically. Transferring even more of the national wealth to those who are already wealthy will only make things harder on them.

The repeal of Obamacare will probably happen, although I’m not going to hold my breath about seeing President Trump follow through on his promise to replace it with a better plan. I imagine that even the parts of Obamacare that most people agree were good such as making sure that people can get health insurance even if they have health problems will be deep-sixed in service to the insurance companies.

President Trump will be able to follow through on defunding Planned Parenthood, if he wants. But I don’t expect to see him fulfill his promise of paid maternity leave. A plethora of much-needed reforms such as student loan relief and lower higher education costs are now off the table.

I am worried about programs like funding for domestic violence shelters and rape crisis centers, and I imagine equal pay for equal work will never happen. I am honestly quite concerned about having a man who assaults, abuses, degrades and insults women for president. Congress is pretty much a boys’ club, so I don’t expect them to buttress women’s human rights in the face of an abusive president. I also don’t expect protests on behalf of women from our religious leaders.

I look at my granddaughter and I wonder what living in a country governed by a frank and open misogynist will mean to her as a person as she grows up. I also wonder how women who are victims of violence and rape will fare in this new world.

As for international interests, I pray that President Elect Trump revises what he says he is going to do there. I do not want a world dominated by Russia and China. I do not want this country to be dominated by them, either.

I hope with all my heart that President Trump is able to control his behavior and be a good president for us. I pray that I will see an end to abortion before I die. I also hope that he will not create a climate where the degradation of women is even more the cultural norm than it is already.

But whatever he does, he is the President Elect. I wish him and all of us the very best.

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Today We Pick Our Prez. Tomorrow We Move Forward.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Kelly Minars https://www.flickr.com/photos/dokidoki/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Kelly Minars https://www.flickr.com/photos/dokidoki/

Today, We the People engage in the sacred rite of electing those from among us who will temporarily take the reins of government on our behalf.

Their charge, should they win, is to defend the Constitution in whatever office they will occupy. The question of whether or not government of the people, by the people, and for the people will survive will rest partly in their hands.

Notice that I did not say that this question will rest entirely in their hands. It does not. We the People do not live in a dictatorship or a monarchy. We have the privilege and the responsibility of living in the world’s greatest democracy. That means, among other things, that our responsibilities as citizens do not end when we shove our ballot into the machine. It means that our responsibilities to our country begin with voting, rather than ending there.

The burning question of whether or not the Republican nominee for president will “accept” the outcome of the election has been cussed and discussed up and down this land for weeks now. It is a mark of the overall tawdriness of this campaign that such a question can be asked by serious people.

The wider question of whether or not We the People will accept the outcome has been hinted at, but, so far as I know, never addressed with more than tut-tut commentary. Let’s take a moment and consider it now.

I voted early this morning. It was an uplifting experience, primarily because of the large crowds I saw, including many people who were obviously voting for the first time in their lives. I was so proud of them as they wended their way through the line and thoughtfully read their ballots and cast their votes. They were polite, gentle and good people who deserve leadership from their elected officials that considers them and provides for their future.

Based on what I saw, this election will run up a huge turnout, and a lot of the people who will vote in it are folks who don’t go to the polls all that often, or who have never voted before in their lives. What that means is that, if the rest of the country reflects what I saw in my home precinct today, we are seeing a paradigm change in American electioneering, and not from the candidates, but from the voters themselves. It also means that the polls leading up to this election may be based on inaccurate sampling.

I don’t know who is going to win this election, but for someone who has spent much of her adult life dealing with elections, this process is fascinating. So, instead of biting my nails like a lot of other Americans are probably doing, I’m enjoying the intellectual process of analyzing what is happening and why it’s going that way.

We the People are choosing elected officials all up and down the ballot today. I even voted on several school bond issues. I’m in a different position than most people in that I know personally just about everyone on the ballot except the candidates at the top of the ticket who are running for president and vice president. That makes voting decisions easy for me, at least most of the time.

Of course, the election that brought out the crowd this morning was the one that dominates our thinking and has set us against one another for months now. We are choosing our next president. That is a noble enterprise, but this campaign and these candidates have not been noble at all. We’ve all been slimed by this campaign, and it’s going to take a while to get the goo washed out of our minds and hearts.

That’s a long lead up to what I’m really writing about, which is the question of how We the People are going to behave tomorrow. Unless this thing is some form of a repeat of 2000, we will be talking about either President Elect Hillary Clinton or President Elect Donald Trump. No matter which of them wins, half the people of this nation are going to be certain that evil has triumphed. There will be caterwauling and we-wuz-robbed carrying on up and down this land.

We the People have become so polarized and crazy that we routinely reject verifiable facts for thought salad internet gibberish when it conflicts with our political loyalties. I’ve heard some of the most stupid and outrageous nonsense coming out of the mouths of people who I know are intelligent and thoughtful under ordinary circumstances, and I knew from the glassy-eyed anger they were demonstrating that pointing out the massive illogic and fantastical nature of what they were saying would only get me hated and attacked. This, from people I’ve known and loved for decades; people I trust and respect.

This election has created an angry mob mentality that has bled over into our relationships with our family and friends. Absolutist thinking is just about the only thinking that’s being done. Everyone is committed to the notion that everyone else who disagrees with them is going to a fiery hell. We the People have lost our common sense in this election.

I think it’s time we reclaimed it.

No matter who wins today, I am going to accept the outcome of this election and move forward. That is the American way. It is what Americans do.

We’ve been hyped half crazy with Armageddon everything-is-riding-on-this talk to the point that a lot of people actually seem to think that there will be no other chances for our beliefs to prevail if they are not upheld by our boy or girl winning today.

There is a word for this. The word is nonsense.

This is all nonsense.

We live in America. If our candidate fails today, all we have to do is reload and try again next time. Everything that is done can be undone so far as whatever nothing Congress doesn’t do and whatever over-the-top legislating the Supreme Court does. In American government, there are a pa-zillion ways to skin any political cat.

But to exercise those options we’ve got to start using our thinking brains and stop lying to ourselves about reality. Confabulation and pretend will not save the life of one single baby. They will not stop one law legalizing euthanasia. They certainly will not prevent the economic destruction of the working class in this country or keep us out of wars. We need to engage with reality and stop listening to nut jobs and their various manipulative lies. That is the first step toward actually doing something that will save lives.

We need to begin the process tomorrow, by accepting the results of this election.

Then, no matter which of these candidates wins, we need to get our heads out of fantasyland and give some serious thought to how we can best help our country and advocate for what we believe.

I voted today, and it was an uplifting, inspiring experience to see so many of my fellow Americans, standing in line to do that which just about everyone else on this planet wishes they could do: Choose the next President of the United States.

If you haven’t voted, there’s time. Go do it.

If you have voted, be proud of yourself and our wonderful country.

And tomorrow morning, no matter who wins, accept our new president elect with civility and hope.

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The G.O.S.P.E.L. Never Gets Old

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons, public domain

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons, public domain

I’ve posted this before, but I think we could all use it once again.

The truth doesn’t get old and our need for Christ and His Mercy never end. We need that message now and always. Christian life is a life of hope built on the certainty of purpose and meaning that is the Way that leads to eternal life. We have found the Pearl of Great Price, and it is the person of Jesus Christ.

Enjoy.

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Guess Who’s Coming to Our Election!!

Photo Source: Fllckr Creative Commons by Jedimentat44 https://www.flickr.com/photos/jedimentat/

Photo Source: Fllckr Creative Commons by Jedimentat44 https://www.flickr.com/photos/jedimentat/

The American electorate has, in its concentration on the bread and circuses behavior of the two presidential the candidates and the press, pretty much ignored the single most important happening of this election campaign.

That happening is unprecedented in American history. It is also a clear and present danger to our democracy. It raises the specter of treason on the level of Benedict Arnold and a serious threat to the sovereignty of our nation and our freedoms.

The happening I am referring to is the on-going Russian interference in our election process.

I know that the behavior of the candidates, the press and most of our religious leaders would lead anyone to believe that what we are engaged in is an episode of Jerry Springer, but that is a reflection on them, not the business of a free people, choosing their government. Elections are sacred. They are the hallmark of what we are as a people and as a nation.

Elections, when viewed through the prism of direct Russian interference in the process, are as important as the soil on which we stand. This interference is an invasion of sorts, an attempt to seize control of our government and thus of our country. It is as hostile as a military invasion and has the potential to be just as destructive.

Yet We the People ignore it in favor of whatever endless dribble comes from the talking heads on whichever 24-hour news station happens to most closely reflect what we think. We are more focused on a sexting pervert’s latest outrage than we are on a direct and obvious threat to our nation that is as real as a military invasion.

There appears to be little doubt that Russia is behind the hacking of one of the political parties’ headquarters. There also appears to be little doubt that they have “probed” state election boards around the country.

Do you understand that?

A foreign power has interfered in our election in order to attempt to determine who wins. The same foreign power has been “probing” election boards in the various states in a run-up to the election. What are they going do with this ability to hack inside state election boards?

I understand that We the People have been battered into a kind of emotional and mental breakdown by the constant driving and flogging we have been subjected to by the various power brokers in this country. I also understand that supporters of these candidates have been attacked and belittled for doing what is their clear right: Choosing a candidate they believe best reflects their views and supporting that candidate.

I am absolutely appalled by the press characterizations of the people who support Mr Trump as crazy and stupid. They are neither. They are people who have just grievances which have been ignored for far too long.

They are people who have repeatedly overturned Congress from one party to the other, and who have seen that, no matter how they vote, nothing changes. They are the Americans who have paid the price for trendy social and economic tinkering. Many of them are supporting Mr Trump because they see him as the only hope they have of defending their deeply held beliefs in the sanctity of human life and our First Amendment Freedoms.

On the other hand, I am equally appalled by other characterizations of people who support Secretary Clinton as immoral monsters. They are not.

They are people, many of whom have been rejected and battered by our religious establishments to the point that they feel that God hates them. Almost all of them could be converted if we tried to do that instead of confining our interactions with them to fervently damning them to hell. Many of them are supporting Secretary Clinton, despite profound disagreements with her, for the sole reason that they see Mr Trump as a dangerous, possibly unhinged, demagogue whose election would represent a profound threat to the future of this nation.

I am equally appalled by the vacuous excuse for religious leadership we have been given in this campaign. These two candidates provide teachable moments on every single one of the Ten Commandments, the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount. Instead of exercising their responsibility to teach and lead us in moral matters, most of our religious leaders have ham-handedly tried to use their severely tattered moral voice to drive the vote toward whatever candidate they favor. Instead of leading us through the deep waters, they have put their hands on the back of our heads and held us under.

All of this has contributed to the inability of We the People to sort the wheat from the chaff among the unending dirty, dirtier, dirtier-still revelations of this campaign. This campaign has not been a race to the bottom. It has been the bottom, and, due to the outrageous lack of religious leadership, Christians are wallowing there along with everyone else.

This situation is why we have been battered and bamboozled to the point that we overlook and ignore a threat as serious to our nation as the blatant and on-going actions of Russia to take control of our country by affecting the election. But ignoring it only makes it more likely to happen.

People don’t get bit by the snake they see. It is the snake that lies in the weeds unnoticed that injects its poison and kills.

We are ignoring a real and present danger to our nation. It is time we stopped flipping and flapping on the stuff and nonsense fed to us by talking heads and took the reigns of our own consciousness into our own hands. We need to stop this free-fall into blithering idiocy ourselves.

No one is going to help us. No one is going to lead us through to calm and centered thinking.

We must, each one of us on our own, do it ourselves.

I have said before and I will continue to say that following Christ is choosing sanity. The minute you take your eyes off the idols of this world and focus on Him, the fog begins to clear. We are not pawns of an outrageous fate that we cannot control. We are not little nothings that make up percentage points in polling. We are not bound to serve the whim of power brokers who own just about every word we hear and read.

We are eternal souls, made in the Likeness and Image of the living God. We are Americans who have the power to actually chose our own government. We are, of all the people on this planet, the most privileged and the most free.

Choosing Christ over the cacophony of cackling and crowing charlatans who want to influence and control us for their purposes and their gain is the single most freeing thing that anyone can do. It is sanity-making in an absolute way.

Perhaps the most difficult lesson of this campaign is that we must chose Christ on our own, without the leadership of our religious leaders. They have gone off after other gods, in search of political gain. Even though they couch their words in time-worn religiosity, their leadership is political, not moral.

They have ignored the great moral chasms of this campaign. They have not addressed the massive degradation of public morality and private understanding of moral behavior that these candidates have pushed on the people of this nation.

Our religious leaders have stood by while the amorality of this campaign has drug many Christians right down into the slimy pit along with it. In fact, many of these religious leaders have joined in and become part of the offal-slinging crowd themselves.

Meanwhile, our nation itself is facing a cyber invasion that threatens the integrity of the core activity that defines us as a democracy and that ensures our freedoms: The electoral process.

If a foreign power can use computer hacking to jack-hammer itself and its interests into our elections, then we cannot remain free. This country cannot be a sovereign nation if it is taken over by foreign interference in our elections. Any candidate or person who cooperates with this is committing treason. They are throwing our Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and the blood of our fallen soldiers in the dirt.

I know that I am, once again, treading on ground that will immediately get me labeled as an advocate for one or the other of these candidates. My advice to you is to get over that. The fact that the mention of treasonous alliances with foreign powers brings this election and its candidates to mind is a symptom of just how sick this campaign has become and how horrible these two candidates are.

We are bereft of leadership, sheep without shepherds, standing on the abyss of who knows what. But we can choose to back up from the abyss and use our powerful reasoning capacities to think clearly. We can chose to follow Christ and ignore the crowd. We can chose to take a fearless look at the threat we face with this Russian invasion into our electoral process. We can demand an end to the crazy talking-headism that is not news by the simple expediency of switching them off.

We can think for ourselves. We can be sane.

It begins with one simple act.

Chose Christ.

Ignore the rest.

Chose Christ.

Your mind will clear when you do that.

If enough of us do it, we just might save both ourselves and our country.

To read the joint statement of Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence on Election Security about Russian hacking to interfere in our election, go here.

To read about Russian “probing” of state election boards, go here and here. Notice that this is old news. I don’t know how many more state election boards have been hacked since these stories were published.

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Our Vote: Choosing Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Photo Source: Pixabay, cco Public Domain https://pixabay.com/en/presidential-election-usa-politics-1336480/

Photo Source: Pixabay, cco Public Domain https://pixabay.com/en/presidential-election-usa-politics-1336480/

I’ve been praying almost constantly about both the election next Tuesday and its aftermath. This is the first time in my life that an election has actually scared me, but this one does.

No matter who wins next week, this election is not going to end well for this country or for We the People. That is why I’ve decided to write this post. There are things I want to say now, before the election because there will be no purpose in saying them afterwards.

I realize that anything anyone says right now leads to a lot of craziness on the part of those who read it. These two candidates are, each in his or her own way, so execrable that there is no way to talk about either issues or morality without taking on the appearance of backing or attacking one of them.

It is even impossible to speak out against heinous things like sexual assault, misogyny, racism, incest, pornography and abortion without being attacked for advocating for one of these candidates.

Think about that. These two people are so identified with amorality that a discussion of immoral behavior is not possible without people thinking you are using code to attack one or the other of them.

Christians lost this election a long time ago. We have no candidate for president on the ballot next Tuesday. The fact that so many Christians — including, sadly, Christian religious leaders — have gone as nuts as the rest of the country and jumped down into the trough to sling mud with everybody else is a deep sadness in my heart. It is a failure of discipleship at a critical time in our history.

No matter who wins this election, Christians have already lost. More to the point, We the People, have lost. This will not end well. The reason it will not and can not end well is rooted in the touchstone I used for deciding issues and votes when I was in public office, which leads me to what I want to say.

Let me lay the groundwork with a bit of reminiscence.

When I went back into office the second time, I knew that I would face votes and times when even the most compelling issues and interests would collide with the common good. I also knew that decisions would be forced on me and that I couldn’t duck them. I would not have the option of voting for a third party candidate or just not voting at all. It was my job to decide and I had to do it.

It’s easy, in the pressure-cooker of political debate and decision making, to lose sight of who you are and what you believe. No one who has not experienced it can imagine the weight of the arguments and forces that are brought to bear on individual elected officials in an effort to get them to use the power of their office in a certain way. These interests and arguments collide forcefully, and the psyche and emotions of the person who holds the office tend to get crushed in the process.

People lose themselves in public office. They get so turned around and lost that they no longer believe what they believe or think what they think.

I knew all this when I went back into office the second time. I walked in the door fully aware that I was placing myself in an emotional, spiritual and psychological blender.

It’s important, when you are faced with critical decisions, to know what you believe and why you believe it. It is a critical part of keeping your head to have core values and understandings you can anchor your decision-making on as you wend your way through the maze of deciding that is your daily lot.

I think the American people have been put through an emotional, psychological and spiritual blender these past few years that is very much like a slow-mo version of what an elected official experiences. We have been beaten half senseless with a 24-hour news cycle that focuses on the next terrible thing and actively seeks to keep us whipped up in a frenzy of panic and obsession. That’s because they make their money from obsessive viewing, which is why so much of their programming is trash. It’s why they focus on the negative and the vicious, the amoral and the corrupt. Those things grab us at the lowest level of consciousness, they fascinate precisely because they echo our atavistic disorders and fears.

It’s no accident that we are now faced with a choice between two unsavory candidates for office. It is also no accident that many of the people in the electorate are behaving like crazy loons as the election approaches. The American public has been flogged without pausing for years now. We have been ignored and manipulated, disregarded and used; all without conscience or a sense of responsibility on the part of those who are doing it to us.

I have three things I want to share with you as we approach election day and the life after.

First, I want you to know that this is the kind of public discourse and these are the kinds of candidates you get in a democracy which has turned away from God. We are seeing the dawn of our punishment, and it appears that it will be by our own hands.

Second, I want to reiterate that no matter which of these candidates wins, Christians have already lost this election. We lost it a long time ago. Neither of these candidates is fit for the Oval Office. Neither of them is worthy to lead this great nation. But one of them will. And no matter who it is, We the People are going to pay the price for what they do.

Third, I want to share with you the touchstone that I used to anchor all my decision-making when I was in office. I actually had several basic rules, if you want to call them that, which guided me. I wouldn’t use my power to kill anybody and if I had the chance to save lives, I would take it and I would do it, no matter the political cost to me.

That sounds simple — just don’t kill anybody — but it’s not. A lawmaker can kill on a vast scale for generations to come by putting a comma in the wrong place. Also, how tough is it to decide to save a life? In politics, it can be tough. It can get you reviled and attacked. There is nothing that makes people more vicious than when you tell them that somebody they’ve decided is not human enough to be treated as a human is actually a full human person.

That point is pertinent in this election for one reason. The President of the United States has the power to kill on a planetary scale. He or she can, on their own cognizance and in a matter of minutes, kill everything, everywhere. We are considering in this election whether or not we will destroy the carefully-balanced system of alliances that has kept this world out of nuclear war for over 70 years. That is a huge matter. Enormous.

Which leads me to the basic, bedrock criteria I used for deciding on votes. When I found myself in a conundrum that wouldn’t yield, I based my decision on one truth: A just and stable government is always the greater good.

There is no force in this world more capable of doing great harm or great good than government. Government is the collective power of whole nations of people. In this case, it is the collective power of United States of America and all its capabilities and potential.

Will we end up in a depression that makes the 1930s look like a walk in the park? That question will be decided to a great extent by the actions of whomever we elect next week.

Will we be looking at a world where all nations, from Japan to Saudi Arabia, have nuclear weapons at their disposal? That is a question we are voting on next week.

Will we end legal abortion through the courts, or be forced to change tactics and go for a Constitutional Amendment? That question could be decided by whomever we elect on Tuesday.

Will we be vesting the power of government in the hands of the person who is most likely to ensure that We the People live under a just and stable government that is capable of protecting us and providing for the domestic tranquility?

Insofar as governance is concerned — and that is what we are doing, my friends, We the People of these United States are choosing our government — insofar as governance is concerned, a just and stable government is always the greater good.

No other value, privilege or right can possibly be more important than that for the simple reason that all rights, and the worldly protections of all life, flow from a just and stable government.

The single most anti-life vote anyone can cast is to vote against a just and stable government.

The President of the United States has the power to end all life on this planet. He or she has the power to kill on a planetary scale. He or she also has the power to create an international political climate that predicates toward war, even and including world war, or, conversely, to pull us back from that abyss and lead us past the carnage and into peace.

Think carefully about how you vote in this election. And however you vote, pray.

Because after the votes are counted, we will find that, no matter who won, we Christians have already lost.

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Voting is a Moral Act

File Photo

File Photo

My personal religious leader, Archbishop Paul Coakley, gave Oklahoma Catholics one of the few balanced and honest assessments of this upcoming election that I have read from any religious leader.

I am grateful to him for both his courage in saying the truth at this time when people have become so partisan and enraged that they won’t hear the truth, and for his courage in speaking out against sexual assault and violence against women.

Here is Archbishop Coakley’s letter.

Voting is a moral act

Archbishop Paul S. Coakley         October 30, 2016

The presidential debates are now behind us and Election Day is looming large. One of the most common reactions to the astonishing developments of this election cycle is a troubling question: how did we get here? Are these really the best candidates that our nation has to choose from in electing the next president of the United States?

Our major party candidates are both deeply flawed. One has boasted of his ability to grope women at will simply because of his celebrity status. It is never acceptable to demean and commit violence against women! This candidate’s lack of impulse control has been on display in his failure to stay on topic during debates and refrain from offering crass and outrageous statements to reporters, hecklers and even supporters. These are not reassuring qualities for one who might be entrusted with nuclear codes.

The other major candidate has been a tireless advocate for abortion and same-sex marriage. Her inner circle has been caught strategizing an anti-Catholic campaign to undermine adherence to Church teaching among Catholics in order to advance their own short term political gains at the expense of interfering with religious liberty. This candidate has a problem with truth-telling and transparency.

How did we get here? And, what does this mean for our nation? In 1775, one of our nation’s founding fathers, John Adams said, “Public virtue cannot exist in a nation without private virtue, and public virtue is the only foundation of republics.”

We don’t talk much about virtue these days, public or private. That is a big part of our problem. We are witnessing a disturbing lack of public virtue in our national discourse and in the direction that many of our government’s policies and laws are moving. How else can we account for our widespread tolerance of grave challenges to foundational institutions such as marriage and the family, not to mention the sacredness of human life from conception to its natural end?

If this is so, it suggests a failure in private or individual virtue among the citizens of our nation. It was Plato who once described the state as “the soul writ large.” The health of the state, of civil society, of a nation is a projection of the health of the souls and characters of its citizens. If our laws and policies turn a blind eye to the poor, it is because too many of us do the same. All of this is to say that if we find ourselves asking how our nation got here, then we need to look within our own hearts.

During the Maccabean period of Jewish history there was widespread apostasy when the Jews, enamored by the ways of their foreign occupiers, sought to hide the mark of their circumcision. They betrayed their deepest identity as God’s chosen people by being ashamed of the very sign of their covenant with God. Today, we are witnessing a similar apostasy when so many people, believers and unbelievers alike, deny the law written in their hearts by the Creator. Too many people, blinded by sin, make themselves the sole arbiter, lawgiver and judge of what is good and evil, true and false.

This election cycle, perhaps, will serve as a reminder that what we most need is a renewed commitment to the pursuit of virtue, to seek the good and adhere to the truth as inscribed in our hearts by our Creator, elaborated by reason and illumined by Revelation.

Character matters. Unfortunately, as we prepare to go to the polls on Nov. 8 we cannot rely as much on the virtue and character of our presidential candidates as we ought to be able to do.

Still, we have an obligation to vote and our vote ought to be informed by a careful study of the platforms of the parties and the stated positions of the candidates. Voting is a moral act. It ought to be guided by prayer and an evaluation not only of the political, but also the moral implications of our decisions.

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New Study on ‘Sexuality and Gender’ Shakes Assumptions About Transgenderism

Original caption: "Dr. Walter Freeman, left, and Dr. James W. Watts study an X ray before a psychosurgical operation. Psychosurgery is cutting into the brain to form new patterns and rid a patient of delusions, obsessions, nervous tensions and the like." from Saturday Evening Post 1941, pages 18-19. Photo Source Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain.

Original caption: “Dr. Walter Freeman, left, and Dr. James W. Watts study an X ray before a psychosurgical operation. Psychosurgery is cutting into the brain to form new patterns and rid a patient of delusions, obsessions, nervous tensions and the like.” from Saturday Evening Post 1941, pages 18-19. Photo Source Wikimedia Commons. Public Domain.

A new study calls into question the political narratives surrounding trendy treatments for people who say they are transgendered, in particular the unethical practice of dosing children with powerful hormones to suppress their normal physical development.

I wrote this post about it for CatholicVote. 

 

The New Atlantis recently published a studySexuality and Gender, that is sure to earn its authors a place on the secular media hit list.

The study and paper weren’t produced by amateurs, but by Lawrence S. Mayer, MB, MS, PhD and Paul H Hugh, MD.

Dr. Hugh is the University Distinguished Service Professor of Psychiatry and a professor of psychiatry and behavioral science at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He was the psychiatrist-in-chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital and has served as a member of the President’s Council on Bioethics.

Dr. Mayer is a scholar in residence in the Department of Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a professor of statistics and biostatistics at Arizona State University.

He has been published in peer-reviewed journals. His publications include articles in The Annals of Statistics, Biometrics, International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, American Journal of Political Science, New England Journal of Medicine, Journal of the American Statistical Association and the American Journal of Public Health.

I listed these men’s credentials because the conclusions they reached in their research fly in the face of the political narratives that have been put forward by one side of the culture wars. I expect them to be attacked, and I also expect anyone who cites their work to be attacked along with them.

What have they said that’s so worthy of such attacks? Basically, (and it’s a long article that you should read yourself) they debunk several claims in the public narrative about the causes of homosexuality. One apple-cart that they overturn is the “born that way,” explanation for how people develop same-sex attractions.

There is nothing inflammatory per se in what the authors conclude. It is, rather, pretty much what we all have surmised: there are most likely a number of causes that lead to the development of homosexuality, and no one really knows at this point what all of them are. However, the “born that way” narrative does not bear out, at least as a sole explanation.

The authors also address the question of mental health and homosexuality. Their conclusion is that homosexual people suffer from higher rates of mental health problems than their counterparts in the larger community.

Again, it is not possible to say whether these mental health problems are part of an overall mental health dynamic that results in homosexuality, a result of homosexual behavior, or a reaction to prejudice and discrimination that individuals encounter because of their sexuality. It’s a chicken and egg thing, just like the question of what “causes” same-sex attraction.

This research also shows that “gender reassignment surgery” does not result in improved mental health outcomes for those who undergo it. It raises the issue of the high rate of suicide in people who say they are transgender.

The authors don’t say this, but I would guess that the poor mental health results of gender reassignment surgery are mostly due to the fact that it is a barbaric and mutilating procedure that has more in common with yester-years’ pre-frontal lobotomies than legitimate medical practice. (Read the rest here.)

 

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They’re Opening an Abortion Clinic Next to My Parish Church

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons, public domain

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons, public domain

An abortion clinic is opening just a couple of blocks from my church. I wrote about it for the National Catholic Register.

An abortion clinic is opening two blocks from the parish where I go to encounter the Risen Lord in the Holy Eucharist.

Parents will drive the children who attend our parish school past the abortion clinic on their way to class. will drive past the abortion clinic on my way to Mass, as will most of my fellow parishioners. Our parish priests will sleep in a rectory that is a stone’s throw from a place where children die horribly and in great numbers.

This, like just about everything else in the larger world, is all fresh news to me. Everything that was happening outside my circle of illness slipped past me in the long period when I was underwater with cancer and its treatment. I didn’t know much about one of our candidates for president. Then I woke up to discover things that left me aghast and demoralized by the Sophie’s Choice that is forced upon us.

Ditto for this abortion clinic. It happened without me knowing about it. I didn’t watch or read the news during that long convalescence. Once in a while a mass murder would break through to my awareness, but I remained blissfully unaware of the imposition by the laws of commerce of this mass murder on the doorstep of my own church home.

Now that I am aware, my primary fear is that the parish will be overcome by the evil. The satanic influences in our society today have become ubiquitous. They have infected and even taken over some of major social and cultural interactions and events. (Read the rest here.)

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