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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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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Trump is Unfit to Lead America

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?
Photo Source:  Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. Source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/donkeyhotey/28512617446/

 

The New York times broke a story yesterday that fits the pieces of Donald Trump’s bizarre foreign policy together. It also makes this election about a lot more than issues. It raises an ugly and unthinkable question: Is Mr Trump a Manchurian candidate of sorts?

Let’s talk background. What “pieces” am I referring to?

1. Mr Trump fired the campaign manager who had brought him successfully through the primaries and replaced him with a “professional” campaign manager of the right. This new campaign manager has a well-known background of working for campaigns in the Ukraine.

2. Mr Trump has said that he will truncate our NATO allegiances in favor of allying this country with President Putin and the Russians. Think about that: He’s talking about changing our historic alliances with Great Britain, France, Germany and Italy, and switching — willy-nilly — to allying this country with Russia, presumably at least somewhat against our former allies.

3. He’s blathered so much about his favorable feelings for President Putin that the press has talked about a “bromance” between the two men.

4. Now, according to yesterday’s New York Times article, he fired the campaign manager who successfully brought him to the nomination and replaced him with one of the most dubious of political hacks, who, it turns out, may have been given millions of dollars in cash from — you guessed it — the Russians.

I’ve been appalled ever since I first read about it about his his constant hinting at an incestuous relationship with his daughter, the fact that he put his wife in porn photo shoots, and the way he talks about women.

Christians need to be very careful about endorsing Mr Trump. Other people judge Jesus by the things we do and say, and they will inevitably conclude that our faith is worthless if we excuse behavior like this for political expediency.

There are certain levels of misogyny that Christians can not align themselves with, even indirectly and for what seem to be noble reasons such as the right to life. If they do so, they destroy the integrity of their witness for Christ and besmirch the causes they hold dear.

A man who hints at incest with his daughter and who puts his wife in porn photo shoots and who talks about women the way Mr Trump does has to be an example of one of them. His behavior is anti-Christ and we may not condone it, even indirectly.

Having said that, I want to go back to the points I made about Mr Trump’s foreign policy ideas and his campaign manager’s possible money ties to Putin. The question which comes to mind is simple and straightforward: Did Mr Trump sell this country out to Putin? Is he a Manchurian candidate?

If this story turns out to be true, it raises questions that are even uglier than the questions about Mr Trump’s hatred of women and use of them as sexual things. It raises questions that are worse (if such a thing is possible) than the degradation this nation will suffer if we elect a president who jokes about incest with his daughter and has put his wife in porn photo shoots. The question is, quite simply, is he a traitor to this country?

Is he talking about changing our foreign policy in draconian ways to the harm of this nation because of some nefarious money connection between him and the Russian leadership?

I want to emphasize that I don’t know that this is true. But the story in the New York Times, if it turns out to be true, points toward that being a possible explanation of Mr Trump’s outlandish foreign policy ideas, as well as his “bromance” with President Putin.

I do know that Mr Trump is not only unfit for the presidency, he is unfit for the endorsement or support of any Christian organization. I include in that organizations that are not specifically Christian but which hold Christian ideals.

I understand what I am saying. I know full well the debacle many of our causes face if Secretary Clinton wins this election.

But I am an American. From the top of my fuzzy hair, to the soles of my Okie feet, I love this country.

Mr Trump is unfit at any level to lead America.

 

Note: This post originally contained references to lawsuits filed against Mr Trump alleging that he held sex parties with teen-aged girls. A Public Catholic reader brought this story to my attention, calling that into question. For that reason, I removed references to the articles I had read from this post.

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As the World Gets Crazier and Meaner, Follow Jesus Christ

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Daniel R. https://www.flickr.com/photos/zonadearte/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Daniel R. https://www.flickr.com/photos/zonadearte/

I wrote this post for the National Catholic Register a few weeks back. Since then, the United States Supreme Court has stayed action on forcing girls in public schools to go to the bathroom with boys who identify themselves as transgendered. What this means in the long run, I can’t predict. I will say that unless we convert the culture, we are ultimately doomed to fail in the courts and legislatures.

 

Peoples is crazy. And they are getting crazier.

They are also getting meaner. And more deadly.

California’s euthanasia law locked on recently, allowing medical murder. The support for this law comes from claims that killing people is actually a kindness to them, and those who opposed this killing lack compassion.

New York City’s Commission on Human Rights recently released a “guidance” for employers and landlords, requiring them to learn a new language or be fined $125,000 for accidentally saying the “wrong” thing, and up to $250,000 for saying the “wrong” thing on purpose.

What does it take to fall afoul of this newness in employment behavior? Well, if you accidentally refer to a man who thinks he’s woman with the pronoun “he,” ka-ching! you’re out $125,000. If you do it on purpose, the cost will be $250,000.

However, it’s even a bit more complicated than that. You can’t settle the case by just calling “him” a “her.” There is what amounts to a new, legislated, language to be learned here.

It seems that men who say they are women, or women who say they are men must be addressed by such arcane pronouns as “ze,” and “hir.” Ze is supposed to be the third person singular, while “hir” is the third person possessive.

Also, if you have a dress code that differs between men and women, requiring, say, men to wear a tie, then you’re in for another $250,000.

Employers are required to provide health benefits for “gender affirming care,” and to make “reasonable accommodations” for “individuals undergoing gender transition.”

Then, of course, there’s the bathroom dealio. It appears that women employees in NYC need to adjust to going to the bathroom with any man who decides today that he is, in fact, a woman.

Meanwhile, the United States Departments of Justice and Education have issued a joint letter to public school administrators threatening them with loss of Title IX monies if they do not require little girls to share their bathroom and shower facilities with any boy who says he’s a girl. They are also required to destroy girl’s sports by allowing any boy who says he’s a girl and who wants to play on the girl’s teams to do so.

This little list doesn’t come anywhere near compiling the craziness afoot in our fair land. We all know that the two political parties have coughed up turnips in their presidential nominating process and that Congress has abrogated its duties in what appears to be a permanent commitment to partisan rabble-rousing.

We are aware that our elected officials don’t seem to care about this country except when they are campaigning for re-election, and even then not much. Our political campaigns have devolved down to myopic discussions of nonsense that are almost as crazy as the New York employment rules.

So what are we to do? How do we combat this fall into enforced nihilism, narcissism and flat-out reality-bending from our government?

Here’s how.

We stay the course.

What does staying the course mean?

It means, first of all, that we pray. I think it would be a good thing if we all started praying the Rosary every day. I try to do that, and it helps me a lot.

Then, we read Scripture, go to Mass and go to confession.

However, do not mistake any of those things for action. They are simply putting on the armor of faith so that we can take action.

Action, in a society as fallen as this one, means two things.

Read the rest here.

 

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Election 2016: Skip the Top and Look Further Down the Ballot

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/

Warning: This post is not for children.

 

This is one of those times I don’t care what people call me. If what I’m about to write offends you, and you want to call me names for it, do your worst. Somebody needs to say this.

Publications and organizations who, in the public mind, speak for Christ, need to be very careful about endorsing monsters. This year’s presidential campaign has not given us a choice between black and white, or even between dark gray and lighter gray. It has given us a choice between shades of black.

If you are a person who votes based on your Christian values, then you do not have a candidate in this presidential campaign. Since we are Americans, we need to vote. But we should avoid creating faux versions of the people we are voting for in order to ease our cognitive dissonance about the political situation in front of us.

I’m not going to spend a lot of time dissecting the problems with the Democratic presidential and vice-presidential nominees, for the simple reason that they are not trying to lie about where they stand. They state their pro-abortion, pro-gay-marriage viewpoints, and there is no reason to doubt, particularly in the case of Secretary Clinton, that she means ever single word of it.

In fact, I would go so far as to say that this is one of our major problems in the political fight for the sanctity of human life. Their politicians mean it. They are dedicated to “saving Roe,” and most of them believe right down to the ground that they are “saving women’s lives” with their political activities.

Many of our politicians, on the other hand, just signed a dealio promising to be pro life because that is a requirement for them to get elected. Their commitment to our cause would change the moment their political party let them off the pro-life hook.

I’m not guessing about this. I know it. I’ve seen it. I’ve lived it in my daily life for 18 years as an elected office-holder, and in the years before that when I was the Oklahoma Director for NARAL.

That, more than any other single thing, is why the babies lose behind closed doors. It’s why our issues are always set aside for “more important” issues concerning whatever the tom fool the corporations want today. It’s why pro life advocates do not push for legislation concerning embryonic stem cell research; because the corporations don’t want it. Again, I’m not just blowing smoke here. I know these things.

On top of that, this year we are faced with a presidential campaign that does not give us a pro-life candidate to back. There is no legitimate pro-life voice in this campaign. Let me say that again for those who don’t want to hear it: There is no legitimate pro-life voice in this campaign.

A number of pro life advocates have latched onto Mr Trump’s running mate, Governor Mike Pence of Indiana, as their great hope. I’ve even read a few publications, building up his “Catholic” witness.

I’ve got what might be called a liability when it comes to that sort of political knee bending. I have a memory. I can remember all the way back to last year when Governor Mike Pence sold us out by deep-sixing Indiana’s Religious Freedom and Restoration Act.

I remember when Governor Mike Pence announced that he’d signed Indiana’s Religious Freedom and Restoration Act. According to IndyStar, the law prohibited “state or local governments from substantially burdening a person’s ability to exercise their religion — unless the government can show that it has a compelling interest and that the acton is the least restrictive means of achieving it.”

If he’d had the guts to stick with his action, I’d be writing an entirely different assessment of him today.

This bill is not about discrimination,” he said when he signed the bill with religious people in their full religious garb standing beside him for the photo op. In fact, he went on for a while, making all sorts of sanctimonious pronouncements.

Then, the money changers came calling, and Governor Pence did what his true bosses told him to do. He signed a second bill which gutted the Indiana Religious Freedom and Restoration Act.

There are a lot of names for politicians who crawfish like that, but courageous, honest and sincere are not among them. Neither is a description of a genuine fighter for family and the sanctity of human life.

At the same time, I have an adequate short-term memory. I’ve read that the nefarious internal DNC emails show that top-ranking Dems met with those who want to destroy our religious freedoms and — get this — brain-stormed with them on how to do it.

It is a legitimate position for traditional Christians to say that Governor Pence might be a weak-kneed, untrustworthy and two-faced advocate who has shown that he will deal us away; that we can’t trust him or rely on him and that he will probably do us in behind closed doors, BUT we at least have some hold on him, and at least he’s not out to get us. That would be a truth-based assessment of our situation.

It is also the reality of the choice in front of us. I don’t know, but I believe that Mr Trump chose Governor Pence as his running mate precisely because the corporatists who run both political parties trusted Governor Pence to do their bidding.

I think Governor Pence “earned” the vice-presidency with his willingness to betray us over the Indiana Religious Freedom and Restoration Act. He demonstrated, in a most public way, that he was the corporatist’s boy.

Secretary Clinton had achieved (a dubious achievement in my book) a realignment of corporate money, with a good bit of it, including $ from the Koch Brothers, going into Democratic coffers. And Governor Pence had demonstrated, in a most public way, that he was the corporatist’s boy.

Again, I don’t know, but I think he got where is for betraying us.

Now, let’s talk about the presidential nominees themselves. Again, I’m going to make short work of Secretary Clinton for the simple reason that nothing is in dispute. She is a pro abortion stalwart. When her husband was president, he helped pass the federal Religious Freedom and Restoration Act that her own party has been working behind the scenes to destroy.

What would she do as president? How would her Democratic party shape up on the issue of religious freedom? I honestly don’t know. I don’t think she’s out to get us the way President Obama has been. But she’s a political realist. If the party pressure is strong enough, she might turn and attack religious freedom as her predecessor has.

Mr Trump is not pro life. He has filled out a questionnaire from a major pro-life advocacy group in which he said all the right things. And he switched from being “very choice” to newly-minted pro life.

Now, I’m not saying that people don’t convert on this issue. I’m an example of that myself. But Mr Trump didn’t “evolve” (his word) on the issue until he was in the middle of this presidential campaign and realized that being pro choice was standing in the way of his winning the Republican nomination for president.

I paid a dear price for converting. My own party came within 50 votes of censuring me over it. Mr Trump switched when it was politically necessary and he did so in order to gain the Republican nomination for President of the United States.

He’s not pro life.

He’s also not pro family. I’m a little aghast that voters who support family values can go in the tank for a man who has been married three times, each wife looking like the last, and increasingly younger than him.

I’m flat-out disgusted that anyone who claims the name of Jesus Christ can support a man who talks about women like they are dirt, calling them pigs. But, for us to support a man who repeatedly jokes about having sex with his daughter? How can anyone support that?

Mr Trump has repeatedly made comments to the effect that his daughter, Ivanka, has a “great body” and if she wasn’t his daughter, he’d “date” her. If you can’t figure this out, let me clue you in: Normal men don’t make jokes like that. In fact, normal men would be inclined to punch other men in the face for saying things like that about their daughters.

Then, let’s talk about Mr Trump’s wife, our potential First Lady. Mrs Trump is a former model who has posed nude in a sex scene with another woman. I am not going to link to this article because the photos are pornographic.

According to interviews with GQ, Mr Trump was “eager” for his wife  (who was his girlfriend at the time) to appear in a yet another porno shoot for their magazine. Mr Trump evidently went so far as to allow the magazine to use his own jet as a backdrop for the photo shoot.

I thought about saying that Mr Trump has the personal morals of an alley cat, but that truly does insult alley cats. He jokes about sex with his own daughter, encourages his wife to appear in a pornographic photo shoot, has been married three times, and is pro life for political reasons only.

I’m going to repeat something I said earlier in this post. Those who, in the public mind, speak for Christians, Christianity and even Jesus Christ Himself, need to be very careful about endorsing monsters. They will end up besmirching the name of Christ.

Traditional Christians do not have a candidate in this year’s presidential election. But we are Americans, and we must vote. I think there are legitimate judgements that we can make that could lead us to casting a vote, but we have to do this with our eyes open and without lying to ourselves.

Do not lie to yourself and try to turn these straw men candidates into pro life, pro family pro religious freedom gold. Do not demonize them, and do not deify them. To use a slogan from Alcoholics Anonymous, accept reality on reality’s terms.

I don’t endorse candidates with my writing. That is not why I write. I want to make it as clear as I can that I am absolutely not endorsing anyone in this race.

I think we need to vote as best we can, but with the full knowledge that we’re going to have to watch whoever wins and be prepared to fight them for what we believe. We also need to look further down the ticket for our pro life, pro family, pro religious freedom leaders. Because there are none at the top.

 

Note: I ended up linking to the GQ photos of Mrs Trump, which are the ones Mr Trump evidently solicited the magazine to take. They are the least pornographic of the lot, and do not feature Mrs Trump in sexual behavior with another woman as some of the other photos do. I apologize but it was evidently necessary to let people seem at least a bit of this. If you want to avoid seeing this smut, don’t click on the link “another porno shoot.”

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Pregnant and Diagnosed with Cancer

Breast Cancer Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by crazy_dame https://www.flickr.com/photos/craftydame/

Breast Cancer Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by crazy_dame https://www.flickr.com/photos/craftydame/

These videos tell the story of one young family’s fight with cancer. Mom of the family had cancer, and she was pregnant when she was diagnosed, but the entire family fought the disease, which is how it has to be. Nobody fights cancer alone. God bless husbands and wives who go through this journey with their spouses. They are doing eternity work.

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