Tuesday, January 15, 2019

The Dogma Lives Loudly Within

If someone were to have told me a year ago that many if not most American Catholic bishops disagreed with Church teachings enumerated in the Catechism of The Catholic Church, I wouldn’t have believed it. After the revelations of 2018 regarding Cardinal McCarrick, the Pennsylvania grand jury report, and the Archbishop Vigano testimony, however, there can be no doubt. And I’m sad to say that even more sickening revelations will likely come in 2019 since several other state attorneys general are investigating many dozens of bishops— and so is the US Justice Department.

Archbishop Vigano
After being born Boston-Irish-Catholic-Democrat in 1951, I remained a Democrat until 1993 when I dropped out during the first year of the Clinton Administration after realizing that pro-abortion and pro-homosexual biases had been so closely woven into the fabric of the party that I could not in good conscience remain. In 2002, The Boston Globe, which I read every day at the time, broke the homosexual priest scandal and I nearly dropped out of the Catholic Church as well. I didn’t, however, because, to paraphrase Senator Diane Feinstein: The dogma lives loudly within me.

The Globe didn’t call it a homosexual priest scandal. That’s what I called it then and still do while the Globe consistently calls it a pedophile priest scandal. The USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) calls it that too — even after 2004 when the study it commissioned, The John Jay Report, returned overwhelming evidence that it was indeed a homosexual priest scandal. Officially called The Nature and Scope of the Problem of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the United States, the study concluded that 80% of the sexual abuse victims were post-pubescent males. The perpetrators were clearly homosexual priests but the USCCB would not admit that. They still don’t, but some bishops and other clergy are finally breaking ranks after the sordid revelations of 2018.

Divisions within my Church will widen in the coming year as lay people in the pews are forced to choose sides. One or more of several possible scenarios will unfold: A dozen or more state attorneys general in New York, Michigan and elsewhere may call press conferences detailing hundreds, even thousands of sexual assaults by priests and bishops. What if the press conferences come weekly? What if they coincide with still another Supreme Court confirmation battle over a Catholic nominee? Fence-sitting will become increasingly uncomfortable for parishioners.

Many expect liberal Associate Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg to announce retirement after her most recent cancer surgery. If she does, President Trump will likely appoint US Circuit Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett to replace her. It was at Barrett’s Circuit Court confirmation hearing that Diane Feinstein said: “the [Catholic] dogma lives loudly within you, and that is a concern.” Democrat Senator Dick Durbin asked her: “Do you consider yourself an orthodox Catholic?” Barrett’s confirmation will make the raucous Kavanaugh hearings of last year seem tame by comparison.

At the Kavanaugh hearings
We haven’t seen this level of anti-Catholic bigotry since John Kennedy ran for president in 1960. I was in the fourth grade then at St. William’s School in Tewksbury, Massachusetts, and I remember wondering — what was wrong with being a Catholic? For the next four decades or so, anti-Catholicism subsided but now it’s back, among Democrat senators at least. It’s okay to be a Catholic in government as long as you support abortion like Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, John Kerry, Patrick Leahy, Dick Durbin, Susan Collins, Sonia Sotomayor, and several others do, but if you live by Catholic teachings you’re an “extremist.”

Left-wing Democrat Senators Kamala Harris and Mazie Hirono last week accused Brian Buescher, another Catholic Trump nominee for district court judge in Nebraska, of belonging to an organization that held “extreme positions.” That organization, the Knights of Columbus, supports marriage only between a man and a woman and is against abortion. Though I’m not active beyond monthly monetary contributions, my name is on K of C roles which makes me an “extremist” too. The “extreme positions” in question are basic teachings of the Catholic Church which bishops are responsible to uphold, but most don’t.

A few like Bishop Olmsted of Phoenix warn pro-abortion Catholic politicians not to approach the communion rail to receive the Eucharist. Catholics in the pews can only assume that most bishops don’t take Catholic Church teachings on abortion or homosexuality seriously. As I wrote in a previous column, I’ve heard only two homilies on abortion at weekly masses in Maine New Hampshire, and Massachusetts over the past thirty years. How many have I heard about homosexuality? Despite the enormous media attention given to the issue over that time, I’ve heard only one — and that, ironically, from former Portland, Maine Bishop Richard Malone whose present flock in Buffalo, New York is clamoring for his resignation. He’s under investigation there for protecting homosexual priest abusers. Federal investigators have been asking questions about him here in Maine as well.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Left & Right January 2, 2019

Newspaper publisher Mark Guerringue again sits in the left chair and we begin with Trump's wall. The producer asks us if the wall is built without funding from Mexico, will it hurt Trump's reelection chances in 2020. I say no. If he gets a wall at all, or part of one, it would be good for him. If he loses this standoff with the Dems and doesn't get funding for his wall, that will hurt him badly.

Mark agrees and cites Bush 41's "No New Taxes" pledge as a comparison. Should Trump not get his wall, he could be in trouble for reelection.

We go to Mitt Romney's op-ed in the Washington Post critical of Trump's character. I contend that if Romney's move portends decay of Trump's Republican support in the Senate, that could spur the new Democrat House to begin impeachment proceedings because the likelihood of finding Trump guilty in the Senate might increase.

Again, Mark agrees. He thinks Trump a terrible person and Republicans who support him sell their souls. He says Democrats will be forced to impeach. I contend that Democrats are driving the impeachment investigations, not being forced by circumstances.

Mark cites former Trump Attorney Cohen's testimony about payoffs to women with whom Trump had affairs as impeachable offenses. I disagree, citing Alan Dershowitz and suggesting that Trump's base knows what he's like and supports him anyway because he gets things done. Mark interrupts, suggesting that no one should be supportive of Trump because he's a terrible person and I should be more critical of him.

I contend the Meuller Investigation exists to divert attention from Obama officials spying and interfering in the 2016 election against Trump and Trump's base sees it that way -- that cooperation between mainstream media and Democrats drives Meuller's efforts. Mark calls that another conspiracy theory. I point out that no evidence of collusion between Trump and Russia has come out because there isn't any. Mark says we don't know because there's an investigation going on and we have to wait for results -- and to talk about it is pointless.

Mark cites the Trump Tower meeting, but gets riled and interrupts when I try to comment on the meeting that he brought up. Things get contentious and Mark asks to change the subject.

Mark brings up global warming and a NASA report citing that 97% of climate scientists say human activity is mostly responsible for global warming. I dispute that claim and remind Mark that we have had many heated discussions about this in another forum. I had previously cited thousands of other scientists who refute the 97% "consensus." He derides those scientists as funded by petroleum interests and therefore not reliable.

Again he gets riled up that I still don't agree with his global warming claims and interrupts me when I offer conflicting evidence. It goes on that way for several minutes until nearly the end of the show.

Monday, January 07, 2019

Do Democrats Want Open Borders?

Our government is divided over border control and so is our country. At least a thousand people a day are apprehended at the Mexican border. Some days it’s more than three thousand. More than twenty million people live here illegally. Some claim it’s double that. Most Democrats and not a few Republicans would make them all legal if they could. Conservatives accuse them of wanting open borders. They vehemently deny that but then advocated allowing the recent caravan of “asylum seekers” from Central America (and elsewhere) to enter and await court hearings on individual cases which take years to process.

Citing a Gallup poll, The Washington Examiner claimed last month that 158 million people worldwide want to come to the United States. Democrats criticize President Trump for being too restrictive of illegal immigration, asylum seekers, refugees, and the rest but when asked how many of the millions who want to enter America should be allowed in, they dodge the question. Meanwhile, they continue to advocate for whatever migrant group is dominating the news cycle and call anyone who would seal the border “racist” and “xenophobic.”

Ellison is Vice Chairman of the Democrat Party
So, what can we conclude? That they’re against any limits? It would seem so, but for Democrats to state that openly would be political suicide. While claiming to support border security, they defend sanctuary cities and sanctuary states that harbor illegal immigrants including criminals. They want to abolish ICE — Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Speaker Nancy Pelosi calls a proposed border wall “immoral.” Many Americans consider support for these contradictory positions incongruous, disingenuous, and deceptive.

Portland, Maine homeless shelters are full of African “asylum seekers” who came over the Mexican border and made a beeline for Maine. The Portland Press Herald blames President Trump in a Sunday editorial last week, but should perhaps blame itself. In story after story, the paper has been extolling the “benefits” of people coming to Portland from all over the world, legally and illegally, for years. Benefits for migrants of all kinds are obvious: cash, food, housing, medical care, education, and so on.

Why are they coming to Maine? A previous PPH article states: “because the city and state are among the few that offer shelter and financial assistance to the immigrants while their asylum cases are being processed.” Mainers who pay for this chafe while the Press Herald lectures them about the wonders of diversity and multiculturalism. In the paper’s online edition, comments are disabled for most of the stories because whenever they’re enabled, hundreds of Mainers voice their frustration.

Open-borders activists calling themselves “advocates” have spread the word around the world: You don’t have to cross a desert and hop a fence or wade the Rio Grande to sneak into the United States anymore, although many still do that. If you can make it to the US/Mexican border, just say the magic words: “I need asylum” and border guards will let you in, then send you anywhere in the country you want to go, including Maine. “About three or four families from African countries such as Angola and the Democratic Republic of Congo arrive at Portland’s Family Shelter each week after crossing the southern U.S. border, according to David MacLean, the city’s social services director,” in the Press Herald two weeks ago. MacLean is evidently in touch with “advocates” in Texas who send them north.

Much of liberal media portray legal and illegal migrants as oppressed, impoverished, desperate, starving, or otherwise deserving of taxpayer assistance. Many conservative outlets point out criminal and terrorist elements masquerading as refugees and playing on America’s heartstrings. A similar media duality exists across Europe and the result is political turmoil on both continents.

Ordinary Europeans and Americans watch reports of healthy-looking, fairly well-dressed crowds of people who don’t look desperate at all. They’re not starving; many are overweight and carry cell phones. Are the millions coming northward on both sides of the Atlantic really “refugees” and “asylum seekers?” Some probably are. Most probably aren’t. They’re simply seeking better jobs and welfare benefits.

Ordinary Europeans and Americans have been watching all this for years. In 2010, I flew down to our Mexican border to see for myself. After observing the chaos on our side of the fence for five days and talking to border patrol guards, I came away convinced that we need much stronger border security than the flimsy bits of wall that any reasonably fit person could easily scale. I wrote about all that here and here.

More recently I’ve watched video of Africans in overloaded boats heading to Italy and Spain and wasn’t surprised when Italians elected a government promising to turn those boats back. Last spring I spent a few days in Barcelona and visited ports in Italy and France. At every port, I saw hundreds of African men aggressively hawking cheap trinkets to tourists all day long. The same was true at the inland city of Florence, Italy. They were everywhere.

Immigration will likely remain the most divisive issue in the western world through 2019.

Monday, December 24, 2018

2019? More Of The Same, Maybe Worse

This is the week many writers make predictions for next year. There was a time when I wanted to know what would happen tomorrow, next week, next year, but not anymore. It’s one day at a time for me now. Worrying about the future increased my anxiety so much that it interfered with daily functioning. The bumper sticker proclamation: “One Day At A Time” is good advice. The Creator divided our existence into day and night and designed us to require sleep every evening, then instructed: “Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” He taught us to pray by saying, “Give us this day our daily bread,” and not, “Make everything okay next year.”

If I continue sucking oxygen throughout 2019 I think we can expect times of joy and sorrow, sunny days and rainy days, restful nights, and sleepless nights. That’s how life has been for me so far and it will likely continue. If I knew of tragedies to come I would start dreading them now and that would diminish my enjoyment of today.

In 2018 there was plenty of consternation. Division between Donald Trump’s “deplorable” base and virtually everyone else in America deepened considerably. Would anyone be surprised if that continued? The stock market plummeted through December. Will it go lower still? There are lots of predictions but no one knows, really. How many times over the past two years did our mainstream media tell us that something President Trump said, did, tweeted, was suspected of, or was accused of was the last straw — that he’d really sunk himself this time and the American people would not tolerate him any further? Every week at least, every day at times, even several times a day. Should we expect that to continue? I don’t know why it wouldn’t.

There are over twenty Democrats and a few Republicans playing coy about running against President Trump in 2020. So far, only one Democrat has unequivocally announced his candidacy and his name is Castro. All will be guests on the Sunday morning talk shows and cable channels throughout 2019. All will express how horrified and appalled they are with Trump and offer themselves as alternatives. Expect Republicans like soon-to-be-former Ohio Governor John — my-father-was-a-mailman — Kasich, and soon-to-be-former Senator and aptly-named Jeff Flake, to continually repeat that they are not Donald Trump and do not resemble him in the least.

Will anyone be surprised if all the Democrats repeatedly call Trump a racist, xenophobic, transphobic, sexist liar? I won’t. Although nearly all criticized every president who ever sent the US soldiers into a Middle Eastern country, will they criticize Trump for pulling them out? That’s already started. How many will promise to abolish ICE? Most? Some have already, but will more make the pledge? When they’re subsequently asked if they support open borders, will they deny it? Of course, but only half of America will believe them. They’ll all promise to deport illegal alien criminals, but will any of them come out against sanctuary cities and states that harbor them? I doubt it.

Former Portland, Maine Bishop Malone
Catholics were shocked again and again through 2018 at the extent of corruption among US bishops and cardinals accused of covering up and/or perpetrating sexual abuse of altar boys and seminarians. Will there be more such reports in 2019? It’s very likely, considering that over a dozen state attorneys general are investigating hundreds of dioceses around the country. That’s in addition to federal RICO investigations going on nearly everywhere. FBI agents have been asking questions at my Portland, Maine diocese. Have they been to yours too? Just last week Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan found sexual abuse allegations against five hundred more Catholic clergy than what the Chicago Diocese had reported.
Cupich and McCarrick
Chicago Cardinal Archbishop Blase Cupich was appointed to the job upon recommendation by disgraced former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick according to testimony last summer by Italian Archbishop Vigano. “Regarding Cupich,” Vigano wrote, “one cannot fail to note his ostentatious arrogance, and the insolence with which he denies the evidence that is now obvious to all: that 80% of the abuses found were committed against young adults by homosexuals who were in a relationship of authority over their victims.” Following that bombshell, Pope Francis appointed Cupich to run the worldwide meeting of bishops in Rome in February to investigate clerical sex abuse! That should be interesting. Archbishop Vigano has called for Pope Francis to resign. Will he? No one knows.

As if all that weren’t bad enough, Patriots fans have to watch legendary quarterback Tom Brady show his age while realizing there’s no one on the bench capable of filling his shoes. Will 2019 see the Patriot dynasty coming to an end? The horror! I don't want to think about it.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Left & Right December 19, 2018

We begin with a question from the producer about Trump's wall. I favor shutting down government if it's not funded. Gino doesn't.

I read a June 2016 tweet from former Obama campaign manager and advisor David Plouffe which said: "It is not enough to simply beat Trump. He must be destroyed thoroughly. His kind must not rise again."

I content that this tweet sums up all the shenanigans by the Obama Administration that transpired during the 2016 campaign and continuing to this day by the Deep State: The Democrat campaign to destroy Donald Trump. We then discuss the dodgy dossier compiled by the Hillary campaign and used by the FBI under Obama. It gets contentious. Gino talks over me almost constantly, especially when I'm making points painful to the left.

Gino points out how much turnover there has been in the Trump Administration vs Obama and Bush in their first two years and lists those who have resigned or been fired. He claims Trump isn't draining the swamp so much as he is the swamp.

I bring up unrest in Europe, especially France, but also the UK, Belgium, and the Netherlands -- that it started because of French President Macron's measures purported to mitigate climate change according to the Paris Accords, but the spread to encompass other issues. I contend that the EU is threatened because of widespread immigration, legal and illegal, that is unpopular with ordinary Europeans but popular with elites. I point out similarities with issues in America in light of the border wall debate here.

Gino claims I want a more authoritarian country like Russia, like Turkey. I deny that because I'm pointing out the civil unrest in Europe over immigration, etc. that I favor dictatorship. He brings it up again. I deny it again.

We discuss the murder of Khashoggi in Turkey. I point out his association with the Muslim Brotherhood as a reason he was killed and we should continue our alliance with Saudi Arabia against Iran, the bigger threat. Gino defends Iran, while I point out its terrorist activities across the region in response to Gino's question.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Smelling Christmas

More than a dozen Christmas carolers were gathered in the lobby of the Cumberland County Jail as I was leaving last week after conducting a Bible study. No one may go beyond the lobby without first passing through a metal detector and the Reverend Jeff McIlwain, the jail’s chaplain, was shepherding them through. All appeared to be about my age and were emptying their pockets of keys, coins, cell phones, and taking off belts with metal buckles. All were in good spirits.

Christmas carolers used to be a common this time of year and I have fond memories of joining with them and singing around my neighborhood every year. I don’t remember who organized it but we had little booklets with lyrics and notes for all the traditional, faith-based carols like “The First Noel”; “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” and many others. We’d stand in the snow outside each house and sing two or three before moving on to the next house where owners would appear in the window, smiling. We did the same thing in Lovell when the local UCC Church organized it. Houses are much scattered in Lovell and we were carted around on a hay-filled trailer pulled along slowly by a pickup truck.

I would be a good singer if it weren’t for my voice, and I mercifully allowed others to drown me out as we trekked around the neighborhood. It put me in the Christmas spirit and I was reminded at the jail how much I missed it. These days, however, it's mostly smells that bring Christmas memories back to me and balsam is one of them. My wife has been snipping branches from fir trees near our home, after which our grandchildren have been cutting the needles off with scissors and sewing them into little pillows. 

The smell of oil-based paint also reminds me of Christmas. That is probably unique to me but possibly shared by my surviving siblings because one year my mother and father decided to put the Christmas tree in our basement. Their idea was to watch us come down the stairs and look at our faces when we first saw our presents under the tree. That way they wouldn’t have to get up before dawn the way we kids always did. They put the basement off limits to all eight of us on Christmas morning until we had gone to Christmas mass and eaten breakfast. For weeks before the big day, my father spruced it up down there by painting the concrete walls and floor. The smell of oil-based paint is getting about as scarce as Christmas caroling these days, but when I occasionally get a whiff of it that Christmas memory still comes flooding back.

The smell of melting plastic does the same thing and here’s why: My mother disappointed us all one year when she brought home a box containing a reusable Christmas tree. It wasn’t even green; it was silvery. It had a central pole into which holes had been drilled and it was propped up on a stand. Into the holes, we inserted “branches” of graduated lengths — long ones around the bottom and progressively shorter ones going around up to the top. Branches were painted silver and adorned with tinsel. Beneath the tree and shining upward was an electric light focused through a rotating, four-colored wheel so the tree would change from red to green to blue to I-forget-what-color. After someone inserted a bulb with a higher wattage, the rotating plastic lenses slowly melted, hence the smell.

I never thought it would happen but I gradually came to like that tree. I even preferred it to the real, balsam-fir trees most people had. On my paper route, I’d see traditional Christmas trees in every picture window of every house on Boisvert and Euclid Roads in our town of Tewksbury, Massachusetts. Returning home in the dark of late afternoon in time for supper, I admired the changing colors on the silver-tinseled branches of that fake tree in our picture window. And, it was easier to take down after New Year’s Day when everyone in the neighborhood took down their trees.

Many dragged their old trees down to the sand pit at the end of Euclid Road where we kids often played. During winters when there wasn’t enough snow on the nearby sledding hill we sometimes played hide-and-seek down there. My favorite hiding place was under a pile of those dried-up and discarded Christmas trees. No one could ever find me as I lay there enjoying the sweet fragrance of dried balsam. The needles smell different when they’re dry and that distinct smell — still pleasant — continues to remind me of good times playing with friends in that old sand pit.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Buried With Bush

“Have they buried him yet?” I kept asking last week. Observances of former President George H.W. Bush’s death seemed to go on forever. For a week or more, media were completely dominated by commemorations of his passing. Services held in Maine, Texas, Washington, DC, and elsewhere were extensively covered. Very few stories have that much staying power in America’s public consciousness anymore, so why was it so hard to finally put old George to rest and move on?

It was a combination of factors, I think. He was the last president from the World War II generation, or “The Greatest Generation,” as NBC’s Tom Brokaw called it. When former senator, presidential candidate, and fellow WWII vet Bob Dole paid his respects to Bush, he had to be assisted to stand from his wheelchair in order to salute. Very few of that generation remain with us and soon they will all be gone. Not only will they be put to rest, but so, we fear, will the values by which they lived.

To them, family, church, and country mattered most. Not everyone from that era lived by those values but no one disputed them as ideals. Today there is no general agreement on any of them. Bush was married for more than seventy years. That he loved his wife and was loved back by her no one doubted. Except when he lay in state at the Capitol, most remembrances were held in churches where his extended family — and it is extensive — participated. The final theme dominant in the wall-to-wall coverage was his service to country beginning in WWII and continuing through his presidency.

Five current and former presidents were seated in the front row at Bush’s service in Washington. Of those, all but Trump remain in their original marriages, but lies and coverups of marital infidelities led to the impeachment of President Clinton — and may for President Trump as well. Last week’s release of data from the Mueller investigation prompted soon-to-be US House committee chairmen to salivate over the prospect of impeaching Trump for alleged campaign finance violations in the form of payoffs to two professed mistresses. It’s likely that many presidents have been unfaithful and some biographers have documented their infidelities. The same is true of kings, queens, and other past leaders, but publication was usually delayed until after they died. Not anymore.

Most dictionaries still define family as: “a group consisting of parents and children living in the same household,” but that description is now disputed by many calling themselves “progressives.” They see traditional family as a source of oppression, a haven for “the patriarchy.” Homosexual and transgender activists tend to agree and work to broaden the definition to include almost any grouping of human beings wishing to address themselves as such. If we haven’t reached that point already, most children will soon be born into a collection of people not comprised of a mother, a father, and children.

Churches are in steep decline across America as well with some predicting that soon the majority of us will be “unchurched.” That’s already true in many “progressive” regions. Religions we used to consider “mainstream” have sanctioned marriage between two men or two women. After over two thousand years, even the Roman Catholic Church is making noises in that direction since the election of Pope Francis in 2013. A preliminary statement emerging from a Synod of Bishops on the family in 2014 called “Relatio post disceptationem” hinted at a relaxing of Catholic teachings on homosexuality and divorce. Prominent bishops attending the synod, however, condemned that document and claimed that most bishops wished to preserve traditional teachings. In the four years since divisions within the Catholic Church have only deepened.

As for devotion to country, many Americans calling themselves “progressives” dispute the very concept of the nation-state, of national sovereignty, and of national borders. They support abolishing ICE, which stands for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. They marched in Washington, DC recently chanting “No borders! No wall! No USA at all.” Democrat leaders deny they support open borders while consistently blocking serious efforts to control illegal immigration or funding for a wall on our southern border.

Not only is there widening disagreement about family, church, and country, it seems we cannot even agree on who is a man or who is a woman. More and more “progressive” psychologists, clerics, and politicians are insisting that homosexuals are born that way but men and women are not. People who consider such notions crazy place themselves in danger if they voice their opinions. They could lose their jobs, be forced to undergo “sensitivity training” which some would call brainwashing, and they could be charged with a “hate crime.”

Buried along with George H.W. Bush, we fear, were the values of the generation that produced him. What comes next, no one knows.