Trump Invites Netanyahu to United States

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/

President Trump invited Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu to visit Washington, DC next month as part of a phone conversation between the two world leaders that was described as “very warm.”

The two did not discuss whether or not the United States would move its embassy to Jerusalem. This has been a point of contention for a while now. Former President Obama refused to move the embassy, saying that the move to lead to more violence in the region. Former Secretary of State John Kerry has said that such a move could lead to “an absolute explosion” of violence in the area.

According to the Christian Science Monitor, Israeli security forces are reported to also have expressed concerns about such a move. The same article states that “a number of Arab ambassadors to Washington have met with Trump advisers and warned them of the possible consequences” of moving the embassy to Jerusalem.

President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu also discussed the international nuclear deal with Iran and the Palestinian peace process.

For more information, check out the Christian Science Monitor. 

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Remember Two Things: Human Dignity and the Common Good

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons. http://www.presidencia.gov.ar/

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons. http://www.presidencia.gov.ar/

“I ask everyone with political responsibility to remember two things: Human dignity and the common good.” Pope Francis

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President Trump’s Inaugural Address: What Did He Say?

Photo Source: White House web site file photo.

Photo Source: White House web site file photo.

Rather than pre-read, parse and digest it for you, I’m going to publish President Trump’s full speech and let you read it and think it through for yourselves.

Here, without edits of any sort, is what he said:

Chief Justice Roberts, President Carter, President Clinton, President Bush, President Obama, fellow Americans, and people of the world: Thank you.
We, the citizens of America, are now joined in a great national effort to rebuild our country and to restore its promise for all of our people.
Together, we will determine the course of America and the world for years to come.
We will face challenges. We will confront hardships. But we will get the job done.
Every four years, we gather on these steps to carry out the orderly and peaceful transfer of power, and we are grateful to President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama for their gracious aid throughout this transition. They have been magnificent.
Today’s ceremony, however, has very special meaning. Because today we are not merely transferring power from one administration to another, or from one party to another — but we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the American People.
For too long, a small group in our nation’s Capital has reaped the rewards of government while the people have borne the cost. Washington flourished — but the people did not share in its wealth. Politicians prospered — but the jobs left, and the factories closed.
The establishment protected itself, but not the citizens of our country. Their victories have not been your victories; their triumphs have not been your triumphs; and while they celebrated in our nation’s capital, there was little to celebrate for struggling families all across our land.
That all changes — starting right here, and right now, because this moment is your moment: it belongs to you.
It belongs to everyone gathered here today and everyone watching all across America. This is your day. This is your celebration. And this, the United States of America, is your country.
What truly matters is not which party controls our government, but whether our government is controlled by the people. January 20th 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again. The forgotten men and women of our country will be forgotten no longer.
Everyone is listening to you now.
You came by the tens of millions to become part of a historic movement the likes of which the world has never seen before. At the center of this movement is a crucial conviction: that a nation exists to serve its citizens.
Americans want great schools for their children, safe neighborhoods for their families, and good jobs for themselves. These are the just and reasonable demands of a righteous public.
But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists: Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge; and the crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.
This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.
We are one nation — and their pain is our pain. Their dreams are our dreams; and their success will be our success. We share one heart, one home, and one glorious destiny.
The oath of office I take today is an oath of allegiance to all Americans.
For many decades, we’ve enriched foreign industry at the expense of American industry; subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military; we’ve defended other nation’s borders while refusing to defend our own; and spent trillions of dollars overseas while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay.
We’ve made other countries rich while the wealth, strength, and confidence of our country has disappeared over the horizon.
One by one, the factories shuttered and left our shores, with not even a thought about the millions upon millions of American workers left behind.
The wealth of our middle class has been ripped from their homes and then redistributed across the entire world.
But that is the past. And now we are looking only to the future. We assembled here today are issuing a new decree to be heard in every city, in every foreign capital, and in every hall of power.
From this day forward, a new vision will govern our land.
From this moment on, it’s going to be America First.
Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs, will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs. Protection will lead to great prosperity and strength.
I will fight for you with every breath in my body — and I will never, ever let you down.
America will start winning again, winning like never before.
We will bring back our jobs. We will bring back our borders. We will bring back our wealth. And we will bring back our dreams.
We will build new roads, and highways, and bridges, and airports, and tunnels, and railways all across our wonderful nation.
We will get our people off of welfare and back to work — rebuilding our country with American hands and American labor.
We will follow two simple rules: Buy American and hire American.
We will seek friendship and goodwill with the nations of the world — but we do so with the understanding that it is the right of all nations to put their own interests first.
We do not seek to impose our way of life on anyone, but rather to let it shine as an example for everyone to follow.
We will reinforce old alliances and form new ones — and unite the civilized world against radical Islamic terrorism, which we will eradicate completely from the face of the Earth.
At the bedrock of our politics will be a total allegiance to the United States of America, and through our loyalty to our country, we will rediscover our loyalty to each other.
When you open your heart to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice. The Bible tells us, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.”
We must speak our minds openly, debate our disagreements honestly, but always pursue solidarity.
When America is united, America is totally unstoppable.
There should be no fear — we are protected, and we will always be protected.
We will be protected by the great men and women of our military and law enforcement and, most importantly, we are protected by God.
Finally, we must think big and dream even bigger.
In America, we understand that a nation is only living as long as it is striving.
We will no longer accept politicians who are all talk and no action — constantly complaining but never doing anything about it.
The time for empty talk is over. Now arrives the hour of action.
Do not let anyone tell you it cannot be done. No challenge can match the heart and fight and spirit of America.
We will not fail. Our country will thrive and prosper again.
We stand at the birth of a new millennium, ready to unlock the mysteries of space, to free the Earth from the miseries of disease, and to harness the energies, industries and technologies of tomorrow.
A new national pride will stir our souls, lift our sights, and heal our divisions.
It is time to remember that old wisdom our soldiers will never forget: that whether we are black or brown or white, we all bleed the same red blood of patriots, we all enjoy the same glorious freedoms, and we all salute the same great American Flag.
And whether a child is born in the urban sprawl of Detroit or the windswept plains of Nebraska, they look up at the same night sky, they fill their heart with the same dreams, and they are infused with the breath of life by the same almighty Creator.
So to all Americans, in every city near and far, small and large, from mountain to mountain, and from ocean to ocean, hear these words:
You will never be ignored again.
Your voice, your hopes, and your dreams will define our American destiny. And your courage and goodness and love will forever guide us along the way.
Together, We will make America strong again.
We will make wealthy again.
We will make America proud again.
We will make America safe again.
And yes, together, we will make America great again. Thank you. God bless you. And God bless America.
Source: CNN
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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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Yes. The President-Elect was Gaming Us.

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 wrote a post a while back in which I asked whether or not President Elect Trump was gaming the American populace with his manner of doing his cabinet appointments.

I focused specifically on the little set piece that he and Kellyanne Conway were playing with Governor Mitt Romney over the position of Secretary of State. I posited that President Elect Trump and Mrs Conway were using the position of secretary of state as a way of publicly humiliating Governor Romney and making him bow before the Trump.

I based this on the rather obvious observation that President Elect Trump is a cruel, petty and vengeful man who enjoys putting his foot on the back of people’s necks.

It turns out that the answer to the question I posed is that yes, the President Elect was gaming us, and Mrs Conway was helping him. The new Secretary of State is not Governor Romney. He is what Okies call an Oily. Given President Elect Trump’s cabinet appointments, I think the American people should go to school about oilies, and indeed what happens when this industry takes over a government. An excellent case study would be to look at little old Oklahoma.

But, more on that later. It’s enough for now to say that President Elect Trump and Mrs Conway were indeed gaming the press and the American people with a rank exhibition of the use of power to get a little bit of stunningly petty sadistic payback. This is the man who will soon have control of the Justice Department and the CIA.

Get ready.

For those who don’t remember, here’s the run-up from my previous post:

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. (To read the rest, go here.)

 

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The Pope has Spoken and I Accept It.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Aleteia Image Department https://www.flickr.com/photos/113018453@N05/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Aleteia Image Department https://www.flickr.com/photos/113018453@N05/  Aleteia

 

I’ve been standing on the sidelines, watching the hate-Pope-Francis movement tear into the fabric of the Church with destructive glee for a long time now.

I have absorbed the meaning of the venomous comments, malicious misinterpretations of what he says and deliberate destructiveness without remarking on it. I’ve been silent, hoping it would run its course and wear itself out, that the obsessed people who are focusing their internal rage on Pope Francis would find another target.

But that is not happening. In fact, the disrespect and hatred directed toward the Holy Father appear to be growing. It is even overtaking Catholics who normally are more rational.

This began as the usual projections of angry people who are trying to deal with their mental health issues by turning a hapless public figure into the object of what they hate about themselves. It has morphed into a growing push to convince people to ignore and vilify the pope in favor of whatever bishop, priest or lay blogger lights the internal fires of self-deification that burn inside them.

Given that, I’ve decided that I need to take a public position of my own. I want, as I usually do, to make it clear where I stand. I don’t want anyone to be confused about me and my loyalties.

I am standing with the pope.

Schismatic individualism has overtaken and is destroying simple faithfulness in many quarters of our Church. Catholics of every sort are taking it on themselves to proclaim that they will not accept the authority of the pope to govern this Church.

They are justifying this outrageous behavior by vilifying Pope Francis, using what appear to be deliberate misquotes of what he has said. They juxtapose this with other misquoted teachings from earlier popes to “prove” their point. They weave tangled skeins of canon law, misquoted papal statements, footnotes and endnotes, like a spider, spinning a web to catch its prey.

The leaders of the rageful faithful movement range from cardinals who should know better, to priests who also should know better, to bloggers looking for something inflammatory to say that will spin their view meters. The wayward cardinals and priests enjoy a kind of tribal adoration from the pope-haters.

In this upside down world, criticizing one of them results in a wave of insults and claims that the person who did the criticizing is a every kind of lowlife imaginable. This is usually followed with attempts to silence the person by attempting to get their publisher to fire them or stop publishing their work. All this is done in the name of “protecting” the Church.

The core problem here, is, as the core problem with human failings always is, a matter of sin. In our society today, slander, lying and amorality are as acceptable to most professional Christians as they are to nihilists, atheists and satanists. It just depends on who is doing it.

Atheists, nihilists, satanists and professional Christians alike loudly proclaim that what they are doing is righteousness. They are equally committed to the idea that anyone who disagrees with them is subhuman trash that they can treat any way they want.

The sole difference seems to be that when professional Christians paste a bandaid of pious self-righteousness over the oozing slime of sin and proclaim that it is, in fact righteousness, they choose a bandaid that quotes canon law or Scripture. That way, they “prove” that what they are doing is of Christ.

I have been convinced for a very long time that satan is active in our society in a way that he never dared to be in years past. Time was, satan triumphed by convincing people that he didn’t exist. Now, he’s taking off his mask and coming right out front in satanic masses and satan worshipping.

At the same time, he has, it seems to me, taken over our public discourse. There is no sin which is unacceptable to professional Christians if it is committed by someone they want to support. The election just past proved that rather decisively.

We kicked God to the curb in the name of God.

It doesn’t surprise me in the least that the newest object of hatred and vilification is Pope Francis. After all, who else has the authority, the moral and prophetic voice, to speak against an utterly amoral, the-biggest-and-the-meanest-make-all-the-rules zeitgeist? Who else besides the pope can correct this plunge into the pit by a whole society?

There is no one except the pope who can do this.

The pope is, as he has always been, satan’s great nemesis. He is the Vicar of Christ. He is Peter.

A good deal of the anger I’ve seen directed at Pope Francis is the anger of people who have been called on their sins which they have no intention of giving up. When Pope Francis speaks of the poor, the disenfranchised the littlest of these, he gets hit and hit hard by those whose real god is their politics.

These people have conflated Jesus Christ with their politics for so long, they have fallen so deeply into the sin of this idolatry, that when they hear the Gospels spoken by the Pope, they don’t change. They condemn the pope.

The latest hook to hang pope hatred on appears to be Amoris Laetitia. I was too sick to read when this was published, and, to be honest, I haven’t bothered to read it since. I think the reason I haven’t read it is because of all the crazy carrying on about it.

I opposed the notion of opening the Eucharist to people who had not been allowed to take it up until now. I wrote about it quite a bit during the synods on the family.

But I was wrong.

Here’s how I know I was wrong.

The Holy Spirit told the first Peter in a dream that the free gift of eternal life was open to all of humanity and not just the Jews. This was a revolutionary thought at the time. A lot of people, including Peter himself, had, based on their own reasoning, held the opposite opinion. But the Holy Spirit instructed Peter, and Peter instructed the faithful and that was that.

Pope Francis is Peter. He is not saying that Christ should be shut away and shared only with a special few who come to him trailing incense and wearing lace. Pope Francis is saying, like the first Peter, that Jesus in the Eucharist will be available to more of the people that He made, the people that He came to save.

That, my friends, is just as consistent with the Gospels as the prior way of doing things was. I believe that it is a new revelation for our times, an extension of the Covenant of grace.

I don’t believe this because I have had a vision or dream like Peter did. I believe it because Peter has said it.

Pope Francis is Peter. He is the fisherman.

I am a pew-sitting sinner who does not decide who may or may not partake of the Eucharist. I am simply blessed and grateful that I can go forward and encounter the Risen Lord in the Eucharist myself.

I do not have to make these decisions. I don’t even have to worry about them.

All I have to do is follow Christ and Him crucified. It is not my job to determine who gets to take the Eucharist. It is my job to make sure that I don’t walk past Lazarus.

The pope has spoken, and I accept it.

If you want to find me, it will be easy. I’ll be standing with the pope.

 

 

 

Above Photo, courtesy of Aleteia

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