CIA, FBI, NSA All Agree. The Russians Hacked Our Election.

Is Vladimir Putin helping Donald Trump win the race for President of the United States? This caricature of Donald Trump was adapted from Creative Commons licensed images from Michael Vadon's flickr photostream. This caricature of Vladimir Putin was adapted from a Creative Commons licensed photo from the Russian Presidential Press and Information Office available via Wikimedia. This background was adapted from a Creative Commons licensed photo from Jeff Ruane's Flickr photostream. The Russian symbol was adapted from a photo in the public domain available via Wikimedia. This bodies were adapted from a Creative Commons licensed photo from The U.S. Army's Flickr photo stream. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/28512617446/

Is Vladimir Putin helping Donald Trump win the race for President of the United States?
This caricature of Donald Trump was adapted from Creative Commons licensed images from Michael Vadon’s flickr photostream. This caricature of Vladimir Putin was adapted from a Creative Commons licensed photo from the Russian Presidential Press and Information Office available via Wikimedia. This background was adapted from a Creative Commons licensed photo from Jeff Ruane’s Flickr photostream. The Russian symbol was adapted from a photo in the public domain available via Wikimedia. This bodies were adapted from a Creative Commons licensed photo from The U.S. Army’s Flickr photo stream. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/28512617446/

Why all the flap about whether or not President Trump’s campaign for the presidency was backed by Russian hacking? Who cares if this hostile foreign power influenced our election?

Didn’t President Trump say it wasn’t true?

Didn’t President Putin jump in and defend President Trump and say it wasn’t true? (Which was the first time in my long life that I remember a Russian president defending an American president. Just sayin’.)

Didn’t Jullian Assange say it wasn’t true?

Didn’t the alt right go all wacko crazy and start ad hominem attacks on people who thought it might be true?

Didn’t Fox News go off after another report and so completely muddy the issue that a lot of people forgot the real report?

Why then, you have it. No problemo. No Russian hacking of the election. No President Quisling.

After all, these people are known for always telling the truth. Right?

I mean, President Trump would never tell a lie. He’s as honest as Abe. He’s totally forthright and transparent about everything. Right?

And he has no motivation for lying about this. None. Zero. Zip. Nada. Right?

Here, for those of you who are willing to read through it, is a link to the actual joint CIA/FBI/NSA report in which they unanimously agree that the Russians hacked the DNC in the recent election and that they did it in order to elect the man who won, President Trump.

This is not the “dossier” everyone is talking about. That’s a different document which has not been vetted by the CIA/FBI/NSA. It was put together by a former M16 officer in British intelligence named James Steele.

The document I’m referring to was released jointly by the CIA-FBI-NSA. They state that all of these agencies are in unanimous agreement that the Russians hacked our election for the purpose of electing Donald Trump.

I would love to publish the whole document here, but it’s 25 pages long and that would take too much band width.

You can read it yourself, and I encourage you to do so. I also encourage you to make a copy of it and keep it. I think it’s likely that this report is going to be suppressed by the Trump administration, and that the people who helped author it will lose their jobs.

The first victim of the Russian hacking was the American people’s right to chose their own leader. The second victim is likely to be America’s intelligence community, which may very well be gutted. After all, President Trump’s main response to the report — other than his usual denials — was to praise President Putin and then threaten an “investigation” of those who authored the report.

At no time did he express dismay or concern about our national security in the face of this violation of our democratic process.

Here are the main findings from the report. Remember: It is a unanimous joint report by the FBI/CIA/NSA. Remember also that the heads of these agencies have stood by this report despite enormous political pressure to recant.

You owe it to your country to read it in full.

Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent US Elections

ICA 2017-01D 6 January 2017

Key Judgments

Russian efforts to influence the 2016 US presidential election represent the most recent expression of Moscow’s longstanding desire to undermine the US-led liberal democratic order, but these activities demonstrated a significant escalation in directness, level of activity, and scope of effort compared to previous operations.

We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments.

  •  We also assess Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him. All three agencies agree with this judgment. CIA and FBI have high confidence in this judgment; NSA has moderate confidence.
  •  Moscow’s approach evolved over the course of the campaign based on Russia’s understanding of the electoral prospects of the two main candidates. When it appeared to Moscow that Secretary Clinton was likely to win the election, the Russian influence campaign began to focus more on undermining her future presidency.
  •  Further information has come to light since Election Day that, when combined with Russian behavior since early November 2016, increases our confidence in our assessments of Russian motivations and goals.Moscow’s influence campaign followed a Russian messaging strategy that blends covert intelligence operations—such as cyber activity—with overt efforts by Russian Government agencies, state-funded media, third-party intermediaries, and paid social media users or “trolls.” Russia, like its Soviet predecessor, has a history of conducting covert influence campaigns focused on US presidential elections that have used intelligence officers and agents and press placements to disparage candidates perceived as hostile to the Kremlin.
  •  Russia’s intelligence services conducted cyber operations against targets associated with the 2016 US presidential election, including targets associated with both major US political parties.
  •  We assess with high confidence that Russian military intelligence (General Staff Main Intelligence Directorate or GRU) used the Guccifer 2.0 persona and DCLeaks.com to release US victim data

ii

This report is a declassified version of a highly classified assessment; its conclusions are identical to those in the highly classified assessment but this version does not include the full supporting information on key elements of the influence campaign.

obtained in cyber operations publicly and in exclusives to media outlets and relayed material to WikiLeaks.

  •  Russian intelligence obtained and maintained access to elements of multiple US state or local electoral boards. DHS assesses that the types of systems Russian actors targeted or compromised were not involved in vote tallying.
  •  Russia’s state-run propaganda machine contributed to the influence campaign by serving as a platform for Kremlin messaging to Russian and international audiences.We assess Moscow will apply lessons learned from its Putin-ordered campaign aimed at the US presidential election to future influence efforts worldwide, including against US allies and their election processes.

 

 

 

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As Long as the Democrats are the Party of Abortion, They Deserve to Lose

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Daniel Lobo https://www.flickr.com/photos/daquellamanera/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Daniel Lobo https://www.flickr.com/photos/daquellamanera/

Now for a little palate cleanser.

I wrote this before either of my latest posts about President Elect Trump. But, publishing being what it is, it showed up after they came out.

Whatever the order of their publication, I think the summation of all these posts is that I’m thoroughly disenchanted with both political parties.

I’ve talked about converting the Democratic Party before, and what I’ve said seems to fall on deaf ears. Most pro life people just don’t seem to hear me when I say it’s the only real political action we can take that will work to convert this culture.

On the other hand, whenever I criticize the Republicans for their crazy policies and behavior, some fool always pops up to tell me I am not pro life and am going straight to the infernal regions. That reached it’s peak a few months ago when I was told that I was not only not pro life, but not even a real Catholic. Why? Because I directly quoted then candidate Donald Trump and linked to several of his unquotable-because-it’s-too-vile comments.

This came from someone who has stood up with me at press conferences, fighting for pro life legislation. But … evidently party loyalty and Trump trump reason.

The truth is, neither of these political parties is worthy of holding power in this great nation. They are both corrupt. And neither one of them gives a care about you and me. The public reaction to the constant stonewalling and overall bad governance we have received at the hands of both parties played a huge part in the emotional meltdown that drove the Trump campaign.

I’ve reached a point where I despair that We the People will ever wake up. Our predilection for looking for someone on a white horse to save us from the exploitative practices of the Rs and the Ds has led us into following anyone who yells loudly enough and will say things we want to hear. We follow these demagogues, even when they are clearly amoral reprobates and compulsive liars.

Meanwhile, the Democrats continue down the road of same-old, same-old. They just won’t open the party up to pro life people. In fact, they do everything they can to drive us away.

Where will it end?

What do you think?

Here, from the National Catholic Register, is my discussion about the Democratic Party’s closed door policy against pro life Democrats.

Recently, Democrats for Life sent me an email asking for money to help a pro-life Democrat who was in a run-off in Louisiana for the United States Senate. I donated money to the guy. It wasn’t much money, but it represented my best wishes and fading hope that we can one day reclaim the Democratic Party for life.

I didn’t pay attention to what happened after that, so it was a while before I learned that the Democrat lost to the Republican in this race, and it was a while after that before I looked into it to see what happened. It turns out that the Democrats practically abandoned their own pro-life candidate — which is emblematic of why so many Christians turned out at the polls in November to vote for a presidential candidate whose moral life might have disqualified him in another era.

These Christians felt compelled to vote for what was essentially the lesser of two evils. The reason they ended up backing Donald Trump was that they honestly (and with good reason) felt that Hillary Clinton was bound to continue the invidious attacks on them and their ability to practice their faith without government harassment that was so aggressively promoted during the Obama administration.

The behavior of the national Democratic Party leadership in the election in Louisiana underscores and upholds that fear.

The United States Senate is almost at a tie, with the number tipping by what before the election was a slender balance of one or two votes in favor of the Republicans. What that means is that there is a lot of raw power swaying first one way and the next in every single electoral battle for every single seat in that legislative body.

The election in Louisiana did not stand to tip the balance decisively. It would, rather, have narrowed the margin to one vote, instead of two. The Democrats, if they had gone to bat for the pro-life Democrat on the ticket in Louisiana, had the chance to run up their total to 49 senators.

But winning that senate seat would not have helped them oppose defunding Planned Parenthood. If the Democrats had gained that Senate seat, they would not have gotten a vote to buttress their war on the unborn.

Rather, they would have gotten a vote to strengthen the war they should be fighting, which is for the safety of America in the face of legitimate concerns about treasonous activity. They would have gotten another vote to keep the social programs such as Social Security and Medicare together. They would have gotten another vote on committees and the floor in key situations involving the breadbasket issues that the party should be focused on.

But, sadly, the Democratic Party is not focused on those breadbasket issues. It has become an outpost for those who equate abortion with feminism and claim that legal abortion is all there is to women’s rights. It has also, due to the direction in which President Obama has taken the party, become the think tank and the political leadership for official, governmental attacks on religious freedom in general and the Catholic Church, in particular.

A pro-life Democrat, even in a closely-balanced United States Senate, was so unwelcome, so antithetical to the true focus of the leadership of this once great party, that they did not lift a finger to help one win this important election.

The Republicans plowed into that senate race intending to win it. They put their money and their mouths behind their candidate. The Ds, at least the Ds at the DNC, sat the thing out. (Read the rest here.)

 

 

 

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Congressman John Lewis, Donald Trump, Martin Luther King Day and the One Question That Matters

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by US Embassy, New Delhi. https://www.flickr.com/photos/usembassynewdelhi/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by US Embassy, New Delhi. https://www.flickr.com/photos/usembassynewdelhi/

It’s Martin Luther King Day, and one of the heroes of the Civil Rights Movement has issued a new call to action.

Congressman John Lewis remembers the day the police rioted on Selma bridge during the Civil Rights movement. Congressman Lewis was beaten by the police during this melee.
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Congressman John Lewis testifies against the confirmation of President Elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Attorney General of the United States, Senator Jefferson Sessions. Senator Sessions was previously refused confirmation as a federal judge because of his racism.

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Congressman John Lewis says that he will not attend President Elect Trump’s inauguration because President Elect Trump was put in office with Russian interference in our election. He adds that President Elect Trump is not a “legitimate” president.

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President Elect Trump fired back at Congressman Lewis with one of his usual trashy tweet attacks. Here’s our President Elect’s response to Congressman John Lewis:

Congressman John Lewis should spend more time on fixing and helping his district, which is in horrible shape and falling apart (not to……mention crime infested) rather than falsely complaining about the election results. All talk, talk, talk – no action or results. Sad!

Notice that he did not bother to address the serious question of Russian interference in his election, but instead launched a red-herring attack on Congressman Lewis. This is typical. He does it so much it’s almost become an intelligence test for those who read his crude commentary. If you go off after the President Elect’s latest red herring and abandon the issue, you’re probably not too smart.

Fox News defended President Elect Trump with it’s own red herring reply. This time, they are trying to claim that the issue at hand is whether or not Congressman Lewis is sacrosanct and may not be criticized; not whether or not our president elect is a Russian quisling. I bolded the statement where they tacitly admit that President Elect Trump lied in what he said about Congressman Lewis’ district. This is a small point, since President Elect Trump lies like a sociopath, which is to say that he lies constantly.

In 1965 John Lewis was beat up on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama by a local regime of racist cops enforcing the unjust laws of segregation. Lewis has since become a member of Congress, representing a district in Atlanta.

As a Congressman his views are subject to analysis and criticism, as are the views of every other member of Congress.

But as an “icon” of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950’s and 1960’s he is not subject to contradiction or criticism. He is John Lewis. He speaks. You listen. And you hear his words in respectful silence, save for occasional mutterings of affirmation.

You may not disagree when John Lewis speaks from his lofty perch of icon. His word, as civil rights icon, is final.

John Lewis was interviewed by Chuck Todd on Friday for Meet The Press, and said he would not be attending the inauguration of President-elect Trump on Friday because Trump’s election was interfered with by Russia and therefore Trump would be an “illegitimate” President.

Evidently that is the rule Democrats and opponents of Donald Trump seek to impose on the rest of us. Democrats are not unanimously joining Lewis in declaring Trump illegitimate, but they are aghast that anyone, even Donald Trump, would be so bold as to backtalk to John Lewis.

Anybody who has witnessed the two year long Presidential campaign would have predicted Trump would object, and he did.

Trump tweeted “Congressman John Lewis should finally focus on the burning and crime infested inner-cities of the U.S. I can use all the help I can get!”

That may or may not be true of Lewis’ actual district, but Trump’s point about the dysfunctional and dangerous districts in some predominantly African American communities certainly is true. One only has to look at Chicago and Baltimore, just to name two, to see the truth in Trump’s retort.

However, Trump obviously did not get the memo about John Lewis. Democrats and liberals are using his reaction to Lewis to fundraise, and stoke outrage that Trump would dare come back at Lewis.

Are we getting ready to inaugurate a Russian quisling as our president? That is the only question that matters.

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JFK vs Trump: Who Wins?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by US Embassy New Delhi, https://www.flickr.com/photos/usembassynewdelhi/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by US Embassy New Delhi, https://www.flickr.com/photos/usembassynewdelhi/

This is worth a look. It’s President Kennedy’s first press conference.

We were deep in the cold war when this press conference occurred. Now, we’re about to inaugurate a president whose electoral efforts benefitted greatly from Russian hacking.

Claims that the Russian hacking and the subsequent release of embarrassing emails concerning President Elect Trump’s opponent had no effect on the outcome of the election are specious nonsense. Given the small margin with which he won key electoral states, they were crucial to his win.

He spent months aggressively denying that the Russians were behind the leaks and attacking anyone who disagreed with him about it. He even called on Congress to “investigate” those who brought proof of the fact that the Russians had done this to America. He praised the Russian president repeatedly throughout his campaign. He publicly called on the Russians to continue the hacking. He even praised the Russian president in the direct context of these cyber attacks on our nation.

He has given every indication that he intends to repay this Russian favor by changing American policy in ways that are favorable to the Russians. He has behaved like a man who is not only guilty, but who doesn’t much care if we know he’s guilty.

There is no issue that even begins to rise to the level that this does. It obviates any other discussion about our President Elect.

A hostile foreign power interfered in the election of our president and, given how close the vote was in key states, may very well have supplied the vote difference by means of the information they released. The candidate that they tried to elect won and has, from the beginning of his candidacy, publicly and consistently courted the favor of this foreign power.

President John Kennedy was a war hero who won the Silver Cross. Our current president — who has never worn the uniform — has said that Senator John McCain, who was a prisoner of war during Viet Nam and who suffered torture during that imprisonment which has left him with permanent disabilities, is not a hero.

As for the two press conferences, President Kennedy talked about actual issues and real actions. He was courteous and refrained from bullying and name-calling, even of his political opponents. His analysis of Congress’ reaction to his legislative agenda was strong, but courteous. He directly answered questions in detail. He also dealt with criticisms of his administration from American citizens with a serious, thoughtful reply, expressed with respect.

There was a brief question at the end about how to handle things if the president was incapacitated. This has an eery feel, looking back.

The press was able to get into substantive questioning with him and get real answers. There was not one demagogic soundbite in the entire press conference, just a clear, respectful and intelligent question and answer session between the President of the United States and the press corp.

The contrast between the abusive, arm-waving, braggadocio behavior we witnessed earlier this week couldn’t be more stark. It’s not just an illustration of how far we’ve sunk in the quality of our presidents. It also illustrates how degraded and crude we have become as a people.

The America of 1961 would not have tolerated behavior like President Elect Trump’s from anyone in public life, including entertainers. Of course, part of the problem is that President Elect Trump behaves far more like an entertainer than he does a president.

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Repent, Believe in the Gospel and Walk with Christ in 2017

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Art4theGloryofGod https://www.flickr.com/photos/4thglryofgod/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Art4theGloryofGod https://www.flickr.com/photos/4thglryofgod/

2016 was an annus horribilis.

It was also a turning point, for me personally, for Christianity in America, and for America herself.

Here’s hoping that 2017 is a better year, a year in which we take advantage of the second chance it offers us to renew our faith and our faithfulness, to go back to Jesus and away from following the little g gods of this world.

If we turn back to Him, then no matter what happens in 2017, it will be a bonum annus.

I wrote about this for the National Catholic Register. Here is part of what I said.

If there ever was a year I was glad to see kicked to the curb, 2016 was it.

I think of it as the year of cancer. It was, largely, a lost year. Thanks to the drugs and the tune-out thing of sickness, I don’t even remember big parts of it.

I remarked to a lifelong friend that my precious granddaughter was born in 2016, and one of my sons got married, giving us a wonderful new daughter. She answered that I really would have had a good year, if it hadn’t been for the cancer.

That’s a little bit like saying that if it hadn’t been for the iceberg, the Titanic would have had a great crossing. Nope. So far as I’m concerned, 2016 was the year of cancer and an execrable presidential election in which, no matter who won, We the People lost.

New Year’s Eve felt like relief to me.

Life goes on, one day falling unnoticed into the next without remark or notice. We grow up, grow old and move toward death in a seamless glide that makes the changes seem inconsequential. For our sanity, we must find ways to draw lines, to mark spots on our long passage through the years where we pause, take notice of what’s happening, and begin again.

New Years’ Day is one such place. The old year passing and the new year beginning are in reality just theoretical constructs we humans have given ourselves to aid our understanding of what our lives are about. We need places to begin again. We need second chances, new beginnings and the hope of fresh starts.

I felt relief when 2016 slid into history. It was like a load lifted. It signaled the end of the year of cancer and the beginning of a hopeful new epoch in which I can get stronger and move into whatever is left of my life without the baggage of the time just past.

It meant something to me, and it gave something to me. It gave me the promise of a new beginning, a page turned, a painful passage done and done.

That is the magic of second chances. It is the power of hopeful beginnings.

It is exactly what every Christian possesses each day they live and on into eternity. T. S. Elliot wrote that being a Christian means that we never have to say goodbye, not even when someone dies. That is true. As King David said of his dead son, “I will go to him.”

All Christians know this hope, this power of eternal life that lifts us out of the mire of our finiteness. But we sometimes lose sight of the fact that this transcendence is ours now, as we plod through our days in this world.

Christianity is the message of limitless new beginnings, of second chances for the asking. It is the hope — the Hope — of never having to say “there is nothing I can do.”

For Christians, there is no fate in which things are “written” before they’ve happened. There is no karma that comes back and bites us from our past. There are actions and consequences, and there is forgiveness and second chances. Christians never have to wallow in the ugly, sin-spotted misery of their failures from the past. They can — always — begin again in Christ. (Read the rest here.)

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Is President Elect Trump Gaming Us?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by PingPing https://www.flickr.com/photos/pingping/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by PingPing https://www.flickr.com/photos/pingping/

Are President Elect Trump and his erstwhile campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, gaming all of us?

I kinda think they are.

Here’s the dealio.

President Elect Trump is doing his run-up to the oath-taking in much the same way that he did his cruel little game show, The Apprentice. You know, he called in a bunch of people and waved a “job” in front of them, then made them jump through hoops while he sat there like a little lord of the universe and either “fired” or “hired” them.

It was a sadistic show with a sadistic premise. And millions of people grooved on its sadism.

Now, we’re getting a re-run of the same show, only this time the “jobs” in question are cabinet positions and high-level postings within our government and President Elect Trump’s upcoming administration. Just like in his television show, President Trump calls in lots of candidates and puts them through various hoops in a kind of elimination finals. He parades them in front of the press and gets a fix of having people grovel before him. Then, he moves on.

I was talking about this shoddy way of doing business with friends a week or so ago and one of them remarked that they thought the Donald was using these “meetings” as a way of polling each contender for government office with the public. They think that our President Elect runs potential candidates for positions in his administration up the media flagpole of media and then watches to see how the public reacts.

That’s an interesting idea, and it probably has a bit of truth to it. But there are other factors in everything our President Elect does which I think we’re going to have to consider when interpreting his behavior going forward.

Foremost among them is the simple and obvious fact that he’s a cruel man. And he’s a vengeful man. And he cannot abide any slight to himself.

I think the latest expression of his cruelty is the very public dog and pony show he’s been running concerning the position of Secretary of State. Given the dark shadow of nuclear weapons, this is a position of some importance to our continued survival as a species. It also will have a lot to say about whether or not President Trump ends up spilling our children’s blood in an unnecessary war.

But, once again, President Elect Trump has played it like another episode of his sick little television show. Only this time, he’s gone over the top with it in order to settle a grudge.

Do you remember how he behaved after he got the Republican nomination? Remember the nasty little game he played with House Speaker Paul Ryan about how he was “considering” whether or not to endorse him? That was payback for Speaker Ryan’s refusal to endorse candidate Trump earlier, when the nomination was still a bit undecided. It was candidate Trump, playing his nasty little pay-back game and showing himself to be what he is.

I didn’t keep up with the campaign early on because I was occupied with my own life. But evidently Governor Mitt Romney opposed candidate Trump’s bid for the presidency rather vigorously.

So, everyone was tres surprised when President Elect Trump trotted out Governor Romney for consideration for Secretary of State. But there they were, smiling for the cameras, with Governor Romney looking like a puppy dog, shaking and twittering in his eagerness to please, doing the public grovel before the man he’d critiqued a few months before.

Then, just to make things spicy, Kellyanne Conway took to Twitter and the airwaves, going on about how many tweets she’d gotten from Trump’s followers denouncing the idea of Secretary of State Romney.

Now Mrs Conway has, especially since the big win in November, said things about President Elect Trump that are basically fawning in their admiration and support. She’s toed the Trump line so hard that I’ve lost faith in her willingness to part company with him if he deep-sixes pro life behind closed doors — which I am pretty sure he’s going to do.

There was a time when I regarded Mrs Conway as the canary in the pro life mineshaft. I thought that if/when President Trump sold us out, she would go at him over it and thus let us know what had happened. But I’ve put that idea away.

I’ve watched her behavior since the election, and it’s verging more and more to the role of flattering court sycophant. Just for the record, that’s what I expect to see a lot of, going forward, because I think that’s what our new president elect demands.

To get back to Governor Romney, for some reason Mrs Conway jumped off the Trump ship and began berating the Governor publicly. It appeared for all the world that she was going against President Elect Trump.

Now, I’m not stupid. I knew that wasn’t the deal. I mean, just think about her “reason” for opposing Governor Romney for Secretary of State. It had nothing — and I mean absolutely nothing — to do with what is good for this country. Nope. She said that Governor Romney had “hurt” President Elect Trump during the campaign. That was her reason.

The ridiculous reason Mrs Conway gave for opposing Governor Romney’s nomination was straight out of the Henry VIII Court Sycophant’s Playbook. None of this added up.

Meanwhile, the dummies in the press were going all agog about the “fight” inside Trump transition headquarters, the breakdown among his team over Governor Romney. As if.

Here’s what I think is happening. I think that President Elect Trump wanted big time payback against Governor Romney for his behavior during the campaign. One thing I’m sure of about our president elect is that he’s into petty score-settling.

I think the consideration of Governor Romney is phony. I think President Elect Trump gets off on making people who opposed him come groveling.

I also think that the dealio Mrs Conway is doing with the press is a deliberate thing, a planned act, to, you know, turn the knife a bit. I think they’re gaming us.

I also think it’s not the first time we’ve been gamed and it certainly will not be the last.

Our President Elect is a cruel man.

Sexual assault is cruelty. Going into the dressing rooms at a Miss Teen America pageant and oogling and humiliating the underage girls as they stand there without clothes is cruel. Grabbing people and ramming your hands up inside them against their will, or as he put it, “grabbing their p——“ is cruel.

Terrifying millions of people with the threat of breaking up their families is cruel. Racism is cruel. His television show was cruel.

He is cruel.

And the way he’s auditioning people for his administration is just another act in the crude, trashy way that he uses power to practice his cruelty.

I have no idea why anyone would want to be in the Trump administration. I can’t imagine allowing my name to be associated with his in any way. I wrote blog posts during the campaign when I didn’t feel like writing at all for the express purpose of making it clear that I did not support him. I did that because I do not want my grandchildren looking back on this time and being ashamed of their grandmother.

It made me sad at first that people grooved on this sadistic man’s sadism. It kind of scared me that he had activated the absolute worst in so many people. This is not a leader who appeals to the angels of our better nature. This is a man who inspires hatred, misogyny, racism and cruelty.

It scared me at first when I contemplated what this man is going to do with the Justice Department. His candidacy has already degraded the people of this country, including the Christians. Once the fear of him locks in — and it will — I have no idea how low we will sink.

All that scared me.

But no more.

For some odd reason, this sick little game with Governor Romney and the idiotic way the press has fallen for it shut down my apprehensions. In order to fall into the trap of President Elect Trump’s cruelty, you’ve got to be a bit soft in the head. Your ambition must override your ability to see what is in front of you.

Governor Romney did not have to go trotting over to that interview. He could have said no.

If they want to keep their dignity and their integrity, a lot of people are going to have to start saying no. It’s easy, really, once you get started. Just remember who you’re dealing with.

Are President Elect Trump and campaign manager Kellyanne Conway gaming us?

I think they are.

A lot of people like these cruel games. They’re going to keep watching and grooving on it and allowing it to make them meaner and crueler themselves.

But not me.

And I hope, not you.

We can do what Governor Romney should have done. We can say no.

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Should President Elect Trump Repudiate His KKK Endorsement?

KKK cross burning, Gainesville GA, December 31, 1922. Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ku_Klux_Klan

KKK cross burning, Gainesville GA, December 31, 1922. Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ku_Klux_Klan

 

Note: It appears that the Trump Campaign has repudiated the KKK endorsement. Go here.

 

To what extent are political candidates responsible for the actions and beliefs of organizations that endorse them?

That question is pertinent to today’s political discussions because that old bugaboo of America’s nightmares, the Ku Klux Klan, has not only endorsed President Elect Trump, it evidently plans to hold a victory parade celebrating his win. Given that the KKK is not just any organization, but a group that carried out organized terror tactics, including lynchings and murder by other means, in a large swath of the country for generations, this is more than disturbing to any thinking American.

I don’t think anyone would be taking this so seriously if President Elect Trump had run a different kind of campaign. He engaged in race-baiting, female-baiting and over-the-top hate rhetoric throughout his campaign. We have all heard the tape of him bragging about committing sexual assault and we’ve all seen the testimony of a number of women saying he did this to them. President Elect Trump is not a nice man. His rhetoric and behavior are adequate testimony to that.

That fuels the reaction to the KKK’s enthusiastic endorsement of President Elect Trump. It raises the question in a lot of minds as to whether or not the KKK is correct in their assessment of what is going to happen to our country under his governance. It also provides those who oppose President Elect Trump with another way to attack him.

But the truth is that all sorts of organizations and people endorse political candidates, each for their own reasons. If the candidate seeks the endorsement of a group, then it’s fair to say that the candidate at least has some affinity with that group’s goals and purposes. Even then, it would be a mistake to say that the candidate absolutely agrees with that organization’s goals and purposes and will allow him or herself to be dictated by them.

I have not seen anything which indicates that President Elect Trump actively sought the endorsement of the KKK. He has not repudiated it, which, given the horror that this organization’s history raises in the minds of so many Americans, is a mistake.

Elected officials do not repudiate every errant endorsement they receive. It’s bad business to insult people when you don’t have to, and it would also be exhausting to list all the things you are not for. It’s usually better to just proceed with your job and let your work speak for itself. That may well be what President Elect Trump intends to do about the KKK.

However, the KKK is different from other organizations. It symbolizes America’s darkest failure as a democracy. It speaks of a time when a self-styled terrorist organization committed vigilante executions and other terror tactics at will, with no response from law enforcement. In fact, members of law enforcement frequently held membership in this organization.

For that reason, I think that it would be wise for President Elect Trump to disavow the KKK’s endorsement. The North Carolina GOP has already done so. The KKK is not like other organizations. It is America’s nightmare. It is especially important to repudiate the KKK given the kinds of policies our president elect has espoused and the campaign he ran to get elected.

However, even if he does not repudiate it, the KKK’s endorsement does not mean that President Elect Trump agrees with their beliefs. So far as I know, he did not seek their endorsement. He simply has not repudiated it.

In this case, I am going to do what people keep telling me I should do. I am going to wait a see if we witness a return to vigilante terrorism under the guise of the KKK in this country. A march to celebrate the election results is not a lynching. On the other hand, a march to celebrate election results by people who advocate lynchings is a chilling message.

I’m going to say it again: President Trump should repudiate his endorsement from the KKK. But even if he doesn’t, it would be a mistake at this point to assume that he will, as president, support a return to their brand of vigilante terrorism.

 

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Trump Lost the Election and Won the Presidency. What Does That Mean?

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Mobilus in Mobili https://www.flickr.com/photos/mobili/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Mobilus in Mobili https://www.flickr.com/photos/mobili/

I said a few days ago that President Elect Trump won the electoral college but lost the popular vote in what was essentially a tied election. Now, I’m going to take that back.

This election was not tied. It was close, but decisive. Secretary Clinton’s margin in the popular vote has risen to over a million votes and, as the paper ballot absentees are being counted, keeps going up. We’ve only had a few “minority” presidents (presidents who win the electoral college and lose the popular vote) and most of them were a near miss in the popular vote. But this margin isn’t a near miss.

A million vote margin is not a tied election. It’s a decisive win.

What I’m saying is that President Elect Trump lost the election. He lost it soundly, thoroughly and absolutely. But he won the presidency.

I have questions as to the mechanics of how this happened. One of those questions is whether or not the paper absentee ballots are as far out of line with the machine votes as it seems. That can happen, but usually doesn’t, at least not to the extent that this seems to be.

I’ve read comments that Secretary Clinton’s margin of victory in the popular vote is “unprecedented” in elections where the electoral college elects instead of the people. That is both true and not true.

It is true that no other candidate in our history has ever lost by this many votes and still become president. But Rutherford B Hayes managed to win the electoral college and lose the popular vote by a quarter of a million votes in a time when our nation’s population was only 50 million people and quite a number of states that are now in the union were still either territories or no man’s land.

So, it’s not accurate to say that this situation is “unprecedented,” at least so far as the numbers are concerned. However, when President Hayes was elected, we were not at war with anybody, including ourselves. There was no question as to President Hayes’ loyalty to this country, no interference in the election by a hostile foreign power that is run by a cold-blooded dictator bent on domination.

The situation is far different today. America is not officially at war, but we are heavily engaged in a hostile and dangerously violent world environment. America is at war with itself. We are so divided that we are coming close to being ungovernable.

And last, but certainly not least, the Russians did hack the DNC and use the emails they got to influence this election on behalf of the man who ended up with a big electoral vote win and strong popular vote loss. The Russians compromised our election process, and they did it out front and big time.

The Russian government has now admitted that they were in contact with candidate Trump’s campaign during the election. These facts raise all sorts of questions, none of them pleasant to consider.

To get back to vote totals, no one in our history as a nation has ever won the electoral vote and lost the popular vote by over a million votes. But, given the difference in America’s population between now and earlier in our history, the overall percentages in this margin have happened, at least once before. However, in that instance, the electoral vote was much closer and thus a more accurate reflection of the will of all the people.

We’ve had four minority presidents, including one who was seated by the House of Representatives.

President John Quincy Adams was seated by the House of Representatives after both he and his opponent failed to reach the required number of electoral votes. This put the election in the House of Representatives, and even though Adams lost the popular vote by 38,000 votes, the House elected him president.

Rutherford B Hayes was elected president by one electoral vote, even though he lost the popular vote by a quarter-million vote margin. President Benjamin Harrison won the electoral vote and lost the popular vote by 90,000 votes.

President George W Bush was the only president ever put in office by the Supreme Court. He won the electoral vote by one vote, when the court awarded Florida to him, but he lost the popular vote by half a million votes.

In the election we’ve just finished, Secretary Clinton suffered a clear loss in the electoral college, but is ending up with a historic win in the popular vote. A number of presidents have been elected with both an electoral college win and a popular vote margin significantly smaller than the one she holds.

What I’m saying is that President Elect Trump lost the election. It’s as plain as that. But he also won the presidency.

He’s been making claims that, if the popular vote had mattered in winning, he would have run a different campaign and won the popular vote. I have no doubt that he’s telling the truth that his campaign — and his positions on issues — would have been different if he had needed the popular vote to win.

President Elect Trump’s beliefs appear to be entirely situational. I think that what he says on any given day is a function of what he needs to say to get what he wants and how his personal pique and desire for vengeance is running.

If I’m wrong about this, it will prove itself out in the years ahead. If he turns out to be a steady-eddy, do-what-I-promised and use-my-powers-for-the-common-good kind of president, we’ll know it.

The suspense of just how bad or good he will be in office is going to end. If he betrayed this country to the Russians, we will probably be able to see that betrayal manifest itself in policies which benefit the Russians. If he really does bring back prosperity to the working and middle classes and restore us to our post World War II greatness, we’ll know that, too.

If he builds walls, stops the in-flow of immigrants across our southern border and casts out all illegal immigrants, we’ll see it happen. If he stops immigration into this country from the Middle East, it will be apparent.

If he defunds Planned Parenthood and nominates for-real pro life justices to the Supreme Court who overturn Roe v Wade, we’ll know he did it. If he loses that famous three-in-the-morning temper and launches rockets instead of tweets, I imagine somebody will tell us.

Of course, there are other things that may be more difficult to see. Will he use his powers to take vengeance on his enemies? Will he engage in profiteering for himself and his friends? Will he audit his enemies’ taxes and have the FBI investigate them? Will he turn the hacking of computers and release of private emails on newscasters, political opponents, and people who just get under his skin?

Most of these things will be hidden in the fog of lies, bad reporting and confusion that surrounds any president. If he actually does them, I imagine that fear will also become a big factor and fawning will replace critiquing in our newsrooms.

We the People have a new president elect, and he is markedly not a president elect for all — or even most — of us. President Elect Trump’s challenge is simply to do a good job and not be the total jerk that he has been throughout his adult life, including and most especially in his campaign for president. If he does that, the very frightened American people will be so surprised and relieved that they’ll fall all over him in gratitude.

He is going to have to dig down and find a whole new persona if he wants to lead this country. He’s got a lot more fences to mend than he has walls to build.

He’s a skilled performer and marketer. The question is, can he use these talents to persuade the people of this country to follow him? He’s about to learn that winning an election is just the beginning. What comes after is the tough part.

His major impediment to success as president is himself. He has convinced a large portion of the people he has to govern that he doesn’t believe in anything except doing what’s right for Donald Trump. Many of them appear to think that, if he’s talking, he’s lying, and many also believe  that he not only doesn’t care about them, he actively hates them.

He’s got to convince a big percentage of these people that they’re wrong. Because winning the presidency and losing the election won’t cut it, going forward. All that gives him is a chance — a very good chance — to earn the trust of the people by being a good president, or, failing that, making people believe he’s a good president, even if he’s not.

He may be able to get there. He’s the most successful political manipulator I’ve ever seen. But he’s got it do.

And We the People are going to get to watch him try.

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Bishop Anthony Taylor Says It All

Photo Source: Arkansas Diocese

Photo Source: Arkansas Diocese

Bishop Anthony Taylor, the Bishop of Arkansas, wrote a letter to his flock that I think we all should read.

I knew Bishop Taylor back when he was Father Taylor here in Oklahoma City. He stood in press conferences beside me when I demanded that the House leadership allow a vote on pro life legislation. He was a powerful support for the Day of Prayer to End Violence Against Women. He was a signatory of a letter signed by the priests of our priest council saying they would go to jail rather than deny services to hispanic people.

This last was in response to one of Oklahoma’s own Jim Crow Against Hispanics laws — which I opposed with every ounce of energy I had — that were passed in a move to demagogue against Hispanics/illegal immigrants. Among other things, this particular law made it a crime to aid such people in any way, including helping them in desperate situations such as accidents.

I was proud to be Catholic when the priest council of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City unanimously signed a letter saying that they would be priests for everyone, and were willing to go to jail, if that was necessary, rather than fail as shepherds. Father Anthony Taylor signed that letter.

One of his first acts as Bishop of Arkansas was to write a powerful pastoral letter on immigration. Now, he’s written a letter to his flock that I think everyone should read.

Bishop Taylor’s letter directly addresses some of the things that hispanic friends have said to me; that this election was a repudiation of them as human beings, and that they can not see how people they know and have trusted could do this. As one man said, “I don’t know the people I’ve known for so many years.” Only a bishop who understands the heart of beleaguered people could write with this sensitivity.

I am particularly grateful to Bishop Taylor for including a statement about the misogynist attacks on women that were a hallmark of the President Elect Trump’s campaign rhetoric. I know that there are a lot of women who feel very much as many hispanic people do; that the acceptance of the hate-language aimed at them by our President Elect is a repudiation of them as people and human beings. It is particularly scalding for Christian women such as myself when their religious leaders turn a deaf ear to such vicious and degrading attacks on the female.

I was disappointed that the recent conference of bishops did not choose to address the sins of misogyny and sexual assault as a group. I hope that other bishops will at least attempt to remedy this on a one-to-one basis in their own dioceses.

Here is the letter.

Bishop addresses presidential election

Bishop Anthony B. Taylor released the following statement to the people of the Diocese of Little Rock regarding the 2016 presidential election on Friday, Nov. 11, 2016.

En Español

Many of us have experienced the recent presidential election as a mixed blessing. We are relieved that President-elect Trump opposes abortion and plans to nominate anti-abortion justices to the Supreme Court. Indeed, many people voted for him for that very reason. But we are also dismayed by his divisive rhetoric.

The purpose of this letter is to remind all of us that this election has not changed the mission of the Church in Arkansas. We believe in the right to life and the dignity of the human person from conception to natural death and at every stage in between.

Particularly painful was the treatment of women and Hispanics during this campaign. Pro-life is more than just anti-abortion. Pro-life includes respect for women, a special concern for the poor and vulnerable, and in the present context respect for the rights of immigrants and the need for comprehensive immigration reform.

First, I would like to reassure our Hispanic parishioners that while much of the campaign rhetoric was disrespectful and indeed openly hostile, you should realize that most Americans harbor no ill will against you and might have voted differently except for the issue of abortion or perceptions about the economy.

True, some people voted with hostile intent and the Church calls such people to set aside their fears and open their hearts to welcome you.

Others focused on your undocumented status and based their vote on what, from a Catholic perspective, is an excessively narrow concept of the rule of law, but with no real hatred against you. My message to you today is to trust in the Lord, who will continue to protect us and guide us going forward, if we will just listen to him.

Second, I would like to invite all of us to redouble our efforts to make our parishes a place of welcome, where all of God’s children feel safe and valued. I feel proud when people tell me that their parish is a place where they truly feel at home. I would like to encourage you to continue to do all in your power to get to know your fellow parishioners and try to help them with their needs.

And since immigration has resurfaced as such a divisive matter in today’s politics, I invite you to re-read my 2008 pastoral letter on the human rights of immigrants. Eight years have gone by, but nothing has really changed … and I might add, Church teaching hasn’t changed either. It is very important that you be truly informed as our nation deals with this issue going forward.

I am grateful that we will soon have a president who has promised to name Supreme Court justices who are opposed to abortion. Let us support President-elect Trump in this matter and other areas where his efforts promise to benefit the common good. And let us be the voice of the voiceless in areas where our advocacy can make a difference, especially in the lives of the poor and vulnerable among us.

Sincerely in Christ,
+Anthony B. Taylor
Bishop of Little Rock

– See more at: http://www.dolr.org/article/bishop-addresses-presidential-election-results#sthash.VcKvMRQY.dpuf

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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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