Trump Signs Order to Build Border Wall

One way to bypass Customs; crossing the Rio Grande from Mexico Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Brian Ralphs https://www.flickr.com/photos/birdbrian/

One way to bypass Customs; crossing the Rio Grande from Mexico Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Brian Ralphs https://www.flickr.com/photos/birdbrian/

President Trump signed an executive order today to build a wall on the border between the United States and Mexico. I haven’t read this order, but I question whether or not he can do this without legislation from Congress, since it involves what sounds like direct apportionment of monies and lawmaking.

Presidential executive orders are supposed to be directives concerning the enforcement and interpretation of existing law. The Supreme Court has ruled that they may not step over into actual one-man lawmaking.

This is often a fine point, and it may not matter here. There may very well be a statute on which President Trump has hung this order. However, even if there is, I am wondering how the wall will be built without Congressional appropriations.

As I said, I can’t find the order to read it directly, so what I’m saying is just a guess on my part. The president may very well have all these bases covered.

Even if that is true, I would remind Public Catholic readers that this is a massive amount of power for any president to exercise in this way. It is essentially a legislative action taken by the president alone, without Congress. It is, even if it stands legally, lawmaking by the president.

Conservatives have decried this advancing power of the presidency for a long time now. I wonder if they will reverse their opinions and support this sort of thing now that they like what the President is doing. Whether you support the president’s actions or not, it is still a move toward an elected dictator, rather than the division of powers which has served to keep us free for over 200 years.

In another executive order, the president did something to require that Federal laws concerning immigration will be obeyed, on penalty of losing Federal grant monies. Again, I haven’t seen a copy of the order, so I’m taking the White House press statements at face value.

However, I believe that anything that curbs business interests’ desire to hire the cheap labor of illegal immigrants would be far more effective at reducing the influx over the border than any wall. I think people cross the Rio Grande into this country in search of security from oppressive regimes and jobs.

From The Hill:

President Trump on Wednesday signed two executive orders on immigration, including one that directs federal agencies to begin construction of a wall on the border with Mexico, his signature campaign promise.

Trump signed the actions during a visit to the Department of Homeland Security as his aides met in the White House with two top Mexican cabinet officials, according to the Associated Press.

One of the orders signed by Trump calls for the construction of “a large physical barrier on the southern border,” according to White House press secretary Sean Spicer.

The other order deals with immigration enforcement and ends the “catch and release” policy that quickly returned border crossers back to Mexico instead of arresting and processing them for deportation. The policy was a fixture of the Bush administration and was later reinstated on an informal basis by former President Barack Obama.

“Federal agents are going to unapologetically enforce the law, no ifs, ands or buts,” Spicer said.

The immigration actions also seek to withhold visas from countries to make sure they take back people in the U.S. illegally who are found to have broken U.S. laws. It would also strip federal grants from “sanctuary” cities and states that do not enforce federal immigration laws.

“We’re going to strip federal grant money from the sanctuary states and cities that harbor illegal immigrants,” Spicer said.

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Trump Announces Massive Investigation Into “Voter Fraud.”

Photo Source: White House web site file photo.

Photo Source: White House web site file photo.

This is a small example of the kind of thing I feared when I made comments about what President Trump was going to do when he got control of the Justice Department.

President Elect Trump responded to calls for a recount (which worked out just fine for him, btw) of a couple of states’ votes in the November election by unleashing a whole trope of fantasy charges that there were “millions” of people who voted illegally in said election.

There was not one shred of evidence for these claims. He just made it up.

He didn’t seem to see that this buttressed the calls for a recount, but then, that kind of linear thinking doesn’t often come into his actions when he feels threatened. He has a well-worn track record of immediately going to the bully and the lie when something challenges his grandiosity.

As events unfolded, the recount upheld his win in the states in question and the popular vote tilted further and further against him. At that point the “millions of illegal” voters lie became a way to protect his threatened ego vs a vs losing the popular vote.

It appears that our president will do just about anything to protect his ego. He is so easy to bait that movie stars at awards ceremonies can do it, claims about the number of attendees at his inauguration can do it, comedians can do it. In fact, just about anybody or anything that challenges his ego can bait him out.

Lying is his first tactic when he’s challenged. Personal attacks on whomever has challenged him follow shortly. That would be disgusting in any person, much less a president of the United States, but if it ended there, it would be bearable in a there-he-goes-again kind of way.

But it doesn’t end there. He has a history of threatening and launching lawsuits; using his money to try to drive those who offend his ego down. He showed just how convoluted and determined his desire for the big get even was with the game he and Kellyanne Conway played with Governor Mitt Romney over the position of Secretary of State. This sadistic little set piece also signaled that he was going to use his power as president to play these nasty little games.

Now, President Trump has control of the Justice Department. Before his first week in office is over, he’s announced that he wants to use this power to launch a massive “investigation” into his fantasy claims of millions of illegal voters. 

This kind of misuse of government investigative powers to push forward a lie has been done before by crazy heads of state in other countries. We are not the first people to elect a mad King George kind of leader. Every one of those countries suffered as a result of this bad leadership, some of them catastrophically so.

Use of the Justice Department is a brute exercise of the brute power of government. Using it this way, to investigate a self-serving, ego-salving lie, is a clear mis-use of power. It has a chilling effect on the whole country. It will almost certainly redound onto Hispanics and other people that we’ve decided it’s ok to hate.

I don’t think this is the last or anywhere near the worst mis-use of the Justice Department for the purposes of feeding and supporting President Trump’s easily threatened ego. I think we’ve just seen the beginning of the big get evens backed by the brute force of government.

Some people just aren’t smart enough to take yes for answer. And our braggart president with his fragile ego appears to be one of them.

 

 

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President Trump Withdraws USA from Pacific Trade Deal

Flickr Creative Commons by  Neil Ballantyne https://www.flickr.com/photos/neil_ballantyne/

Flickr Creative Commons by Neil Ballantyne https://www.flickr.com/photos/neil_ballantyne/

President Donald Trump withdrew America from the Trans-Pacific Partnership earlier this week.

One of the more interesting facets of this was the high praise heaped on him by the Teamster’s Union for taking this action.

Here is a bit of what Teamster’s President Hoffa said:

“Today, President Trump made good on his campaign promise to withdraw the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. With this decision, the president has taken the first step toward fixing 30 years of bad trade policies that have cost working Americans millions of good-paying jobs.

“The Teamsters Union has been on the frontline of the fight to stop destructive trade deals like the TPP, China PNTR, CAFTA and NAFTA for decades. Millions of working men and women saw their jobs leave the country as free trade policies undermined our manufacturing industry. We hope that President Trump’s meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on Jan. 31 opens a real dialogue about fixing the flawed NAFTA.

“We take this development as a positive sign that President Trump will continue to fulfill his campaign promises in regard to trade policy reform and instruct the USTR to negotiate future agreements that protect American workers and industry.”

Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.

Maybe the Democrats have ignored Labor for too long.

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44th March for Life is this Friday. Be There or Be Square.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Art4TheGlryofGod by Sharon https://www.flickr.com/photos/4thglryofgod/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Art4TheGlryofGod by Sharon https://www.flickr.com/photos/4thglryofgod/

The 44th Annual March for Life will take place in Washington, DC this Friday.

Kellyanne Conway, senior counsel to President Trump, will headline the speakers list. Also speaking will be Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Benjamin Watson, tight end for the Baltimore Ravens, Abby Johnson, Karyme Lozano, Eric Metals and Bishop Vicent Matthew, Jr.

The march will begin at 11:45 am with a musical opening, followed by a rally and the actual March for Life at 1 pm.

There will be Silent No More testimonies at 3 pm.  Marchers will then have the opportunity to visit their Senators and Representatives in their offices.

For more details, go here.

Be there or be square!

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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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