Thursday, December 8, 2016

Complicated Dreams

Today I watched this video, where, in the words of the media Rick Santorum told a DREAMer "Get out of my country, and blame your parents."

Of course, if you actually listen to Santorum's words, that's not exactly what he said (but of course that doesn't matter to the media). His response was more nuanced than that, but before he had time to explain more he was cut off. I would like to have heard his whole response, as this is not a situation that can be handled by a sound bite.

I feel sorry for Rick Santorum, because he actually tries to have conversations where he dialogues with detractors and honestly tries not to impose one "side" of the issue. This was one of the reasons why I thought he would have made a good president. Sadly, the media, and the nation at large, seem to have little patience for this, but wants to pigeon hole public figures into some simple good/bad position they can tweet. The result of this are candidates like President Obama and president elect Trump.

DREAMer refers to a certain demographic of illegal aliens - those who were taken to the US as children and have grown up or are growing up in this country. They represent an interesting moral problem, which has reared its head throughout history, without satisfactory solutions.

As children, the DREAMers themselves are not responsible for committing any crime. Yet their presence here is illegal. They make the case that this is "their country" because they have known no other, and because they are members of American society. On the other hand, it doesn't change the fact that as illegals they have not been contributing income taxes, jury duties, military service, voting, etc.

So do we enforce the law as written, and deport them, or do we ignore the law and show clemency. Either decision creates a situation of injustice, because of the injustice originally committed upon them. Let's look at some similar moral issues and how they have been resolved.

When slavery was ended there was discussion about whether the ex-slaves should be sent back to Africa. In a sense, this would rectify the situation of them having been forcibly removed from their native lands in Africa. Yet, by the time of the Civil War most of those enslaved had been born on and grown up on American soil. Many had bloodlines, intermingled with that of white Americans, and for most there was no record of where they should go back to anyway. It not only was an unworkable solution, it would create a further injustice on a people so badly used.

We have the reverse situation today, where some people think that whites in America should pay reparation to the blacks because of the injustice of slavery. But again, nobody alive today is responsible for those acts, so extracting payments would be a further injustice.

Consider the case of Israel. The Palestinians point out that their land was taken from them after World War II and given to Jews unjustly. But the Palestinians of today are not the ones who had their land taken, and it would be impossible to determine who should get what land. Conversely, the citizens of Israel are not the ones who did the taking, and also wold have nowhere to go should their land now be seized. Israelis point out that they have contributed to their country and made it the only free state in the area. Once again, evicting the Israelis would not solve the original problem.

Or consider the case of the "snowflake babies" - embryos created via IVF and frozen. They are now not wanted, or in some cases have nowhere to justly go to be born. If they are thawed most of them will die, and if they remain frozen the situation is simply deferred. And if they are thawed and implanted, that creates additional injustices, such as the violation of a couple's marriage vows, and the denial of the right of these children to their parents. Pope John Paul II remarked "there seems to be no morally licit solution regarding the human destiny of the thousands and thousands of "frozen" embryos which are and remain the subjects of essential rights and should therefore be protected by law as human persons."

I can think of dozens more situations that fit this same pattern. An injustice has been done, and there is no way to "undo" it without further injustice. So what do we do with DREAMers? I think it's important that we recognize that they are, in fact, law breakers, but also realize that they are not responsible for their current situation. I think it's good that they are speaking up, and putting their position in the lime light. The problem indeed has no "perfect" solution, but like every such issue we must find some measure of justice tempered with mercy.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Is Trump Your President?

Of course he is. He won the election to be president of your country, an election in which you voted. You don't like the current president? Welcome to the club. I did not like Obama, either Bush, Clinton, and a few others. I don't like Trump either. The media is stunned at how Trump could have been elected. The left says it's because most Americans are racist, misogynistic deplorables. The right says it's because Trump listens to the voice of the people.

Both are deluded by their own propaganda. This is anecdotal, but most of the people I know who voted for Trump didn't like him, and still don't. They merely found Clinton's criminal activity and her complete arrogance and disdain for the American people to be so distasteful they voted to stop her. The real winner of the election is "not Hillary." But Mike, you say, didn't Trump win the primary? Doesn't that mean that Republicans wanted Trump? In my opinion, Republicans voted for Trump for one of two reasons. 1) He was rude or 2) The media published stories about him daily. Let me explain.

1) The other candidates tried to play nice. Trump was the bully in the room. A lot of people I know thought a bully was the only way to push back at the bullying of conservatives that had been going on for the past 8+ years.

2) They say the only press is to be ignored. Trump was in the news day after day. Some say that Hillary coordinated some of that because she thought she could beat him the easiest. Maybe so, maybe not. But seeing his name in the news every day sure helped to make the public aware of him.

So, what can we expect from Trump as president? I know what he's promised to do, and what the right says he will do, and what the left says he will do. The truth is... not much. Here's why.

Although the Republicans have majorities in both the house and senate, they have a slim majority (54% in the house, 51% in the senate). It takes more than that to get things done (by design). For instance, Trump will nominate constitutional-minded Justices to the Supreme Court. It only takes 41 senators to block that. If past performance is any indicator, not more than maybe one or two democrats will ever break from what their party tells them to do. Republicans, on the other hand, will easily jump the fence. We've seen this on every major vote in the past 8 years. With Trump in the white house you can bet the Democrats will dig in their heels even more.

So, no SCOTUS justices - we'll live with a reduced court. Same with the budget. It takes more than a simple majority to do almost anything, and that's not going to work. The only way congress will get bills passed is to compromise with the Democrats, and as I've said, the Democrats are not a compromising bunch at the best of times.

So we're going to see two years of not getting things done, followed by the senate, and maybe the house, going to the Democrats because the idiots who voted for Trump don't understand how government works. Then 2 years of Trump vetoing every bill and then a Democratic party sweep in 2020.

That's how I see it at this time. I pray that I am wrong, because I'd like to see this nation heal after the divisiveness of the past eight years, but I think the haters are gonna continue to hate.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

But are they innocent?

Source: New Brunswick Patch
No charges will be filed in the Oct. 29 punching attack of Emily Rand. Rand, a 19-year-old, was punched by a man at a party at Rutgers. She sustained brain bleeding, a skull fracture and a concussion. As of Wednesday night, Rand's breathing tube has been removed, but she remains on an oxygen drip and a feeding tube. Rand is still having trouble speaking but will begin therapy on Thursday.

No charges will be filed in the Hillary Clinton email scandal.  The investigation looked into whether Clinton violated the Espionage Act of 1913 by allowing national defense information to be “lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed” through “gross negligence.” Clinton team emails have now ended up in the hands of Julian Assange — a man who lives sequestered in an Ecuadorian embassy — and in the hands of detectives in the Anthony Weiner sexting case.

Dear Rioters

So I'm reading all sorts of stories about people rioting. Even in my son's high school there are people who were so devastated they had to stay home, or were crying, or cursing at people. This is an election, people. I don't like the outcome either, but the proper way to deal with it is to work with people, not hate them.

Remember the election of 2008? Democrats controlled all three branches of government. Remember all the vandalism, massive protests, people leaving the country, setting fire to things in the streets after president Obama won? No? That's because it didn't happen. Our nation was not the mess it is now. But president Obama wasn't horrible, like Trump, and so why should there have been riots? Let's take a look.

You're rioting why? Because Trump is a misogynist? If it is true, what difference, at this point, does it make (to coin a phrase). Do you honestly think the president has the power to force women into slavery? No. The worst that this means is that he is an embarrassment to the office. And we've had misogynistic presidents before (think bill Clinton). I don't recall riots when Clinton was elected.

Are you rioting because Trump is anti-LGBTQ? Look again. If it is true, what difference, at this point, does it make? We have three branches of government, and the president is only one. And we've had anti-LGBTQ presidents in the past (think Barack Obama in 2008). I don't recall riots when president Obama was elected.

Are you rioting because Trump is racist? Didn't we just get through eight years of a racist, divisive presidency, and weren't you voting for a woman who talked about those needy Latinos, and those blacks who will never succeed, who are "super predators"?

Are you rioting because Trump is anti-Obamacare? It's one single bill out of literally tens of thousands. Wake up and realize that this is a democratic republic and most of your fellow voters are against it too. As an experiment it has been found wanting. Like all government programs written by corporations it funnels money effectively from the taxpayers to those corporations. But what if Obamacare went away today?  Yes, some people would lose coverage, but others would get coverage who don't have it now. Of the people Obamacare promised to save, millions are still uninsured. We can do better, and at a lower cost than $8,000/head. Instead of rioting, why don't you think about solutions? Before Obamacare we had the highest level of health care in the world. And I don't recall you rioting about it.

Are you rioting because Trump wants to enforce immigration laws? I don't recall you rioting when those immigration laws were being enforced by any other president (think Reagan). And if you don't like the immigration laws, you are free to lobby or vote to have them changed. Unless you are in the country illegally, this does not affect you. And if you are, again, realize that you are breaking the law NOW - you just haven't been caught and convicted. That's like rioting because you were speeding and a cop says he wants to enforce the speed limit.

As I see it, you are rioting because you didn't get what you wanted. You have not had any rights taken away. On the other hand, had Clinton, not Trump, won, you could not have said the same. Clinton vowed to force taxpayers to fund unlimited abortion (including partial birth abortion) in violation of their religion, the consciences, and the first amendment. She vowed to remove second amendment protections. Her vice presidential pick wants to change senate rules so that checks and balances would be removed to give Clinton the power to overhauls the supreme court by a single vote. Clinton and Kaine both told Christians their religion had to change, and Kaine went so far as saying Catholics would be banned form the US if they didn't change their beliefs. Note that these are not positions conservatives fear she might have had, these are articulated points of her campaign.

That loss of basic human rights and freedoms would have been something to riot about. And yet, had Clinton won, I don't think there would have been rioting, because the people who would lose those rights would fight for them in congress and in the courts. Of course, we'll never know, so what difference, at this point, does it make?

We won't even get into the massive corruption, fraud, and crime that Clinton is involved in. As I have said, I don't second guess investigators, prosecutors and grand juries, because they have access to evidence and we don't. But in this case, the evidence is all public, and has not been denied or debunked. In fact, the emails are digitally signed and are authentic.

And yes, you can Snopes a lot of these stories and be told they are wrong, but go back and listen to the words in context, look at the original emails - they are not wrong - they fit a pattern of contempt for , well, just about everyoe. Stop relying only on sources that believe what you believe and start looking at primary sources.

The fact is, this country has existed for 240 years, through all different kinds of presidents. It has checks and balances, and the voice of the people. One man does not (and should not) have the power to destroy it. As I see it, history has a way of correcting things, and if the pendulum is swinging one way it's because it was pushed too far the other way.

So calm down, and make peace with your neighbor. Instead of cursing your representatives, sit down and dialogue with them. Let's make American great again (sincerely spoken).

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

State of the Kingdom

On this election day I thought I'd look not at the state of the nation, but on the state of the kingdom, aka the Catholic Church. With Pope Francis appointing some "left leaning" cardinals, a lot of people are worried about the shepherds and the flock. So I decided to look into the matter.

Frankly folks, the Catholic Church is in bad shape.

I've been doing research into the policies and history of the leadership (aka bishops). By my reckoning less than ten percent of its them (more like eight percent, but I'm rounding) are actually faithfully standing by Jesus Christ. The vast majority profess to be Catholic, but under duress they bow to the laws of the state over following Jesus Christ. Another ten percent of bishops openly deny the faith and are more concerned about public opinion and their own popularity than God's law. In fact, the Pope himself is in this category!

And worst of all, another roughly eight percent of bishops have completely betrayed the faith, openly speaking out against Christ in exchange for government money. Yep, it's the end of the church. With things like this going on, I'm not sure I can even remain Catholic.

Oh wait, I got my dates a little mixed up. Those figures are from 33 AD. Jesus I trust in you.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Red Fish, Blue Fish

This is a wake up call to those voters holding their noses and voting for either Clinton or Trump to "block" the other candidate. No, I'm not going to call you names. I'm not even going to think you're a bad person - even if you're going to vote for Clinton. Everyone is entitled to vote their conscience.

But this is my blog, and I am entitled to a political rant every now and then, and today is "now." I'd like to talk to you about how to get out of the mess that we are in now, where we feel we have to "hold our noses" just to vote.

I'll start things off with a quote:
"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself largess out of the public treasury. After that, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits with the result the democracy collapses because of the loose fiscal policy ensuing, always to be followed by a dictatorship, then a monarchy."
-- Elmer T. Peterson
Peterson was thinking merely in economic terms, but let's think about it in terms of the republic our founding fathers founded.

We have an embarrassing wealth of candidates to vote for who promise to uphold the values we cherish - life, liberty, property. There are (at least, and in no particular order):
Feel free to comment with others if you have a favorite I missed.

Any one of those candidates would be a better choice, in terms of our nation's values, than either Clinton or Trump. But we will not vote for them. Some will not vote because none of these candidates is "proven" in terms of holding a high office in the federal government. Others will find problems with some minor aspect of their platform - economics, or foreign policy. Still others will not vote for them because they don't know enough about them - that's your fault, by the way - the information is out there - if you wait for the main stream media to feed you data you are a pawn.

But many will not vote for them because they "can't win." Think about that...

If you won't vote for the candidate you feel is best, how can you expect to ever get that candidate in office?

We have kicked the ball so far down the road that our "hope" is to elect a single leader who will appoint unelected officials who will then fix the laws made by the people we voted for. Think about that. This is the real fruit of our iniquity, of years of voting for prosperity instead of freedom, of compromise with evil instead of opposition. It's been said, and rightly so, that abortion exists in this country with the approval of Christians. Think about it - if all of the 260 million Americans who say they are Christian voted only for pro-life candidates we would not have one Planned Parenthood in the nation.

But instead we say "well, he kills babies, but look at what he'll do for the economy!" or "he's pro-life but what if he gets us into another Gulf war?" Certain things should be non-negotiable, but we are willing to negotiate if it means higher prices at the pump or maybe the chance to live another 10 years.

This is why we will soon have a dictator. Maybe not Clinton or Trump, but soon. I don't know if it'll be a Red dictator or a Blue dictator, but a dictator he or she will be. Let's hope we get Cincinatus instead of Hitler. I'm not optimistic.

What Would Hillary Do?

Source: Wikipedia
In his interview on EWTN last night Donald Trump criticized Hillary Clinton for her high-level staff members who mocked Catholics and evangelical Christians. “She should apologize. I think she has to do more than apologize. You know, that’s her thinking. That’s her staff.”

Around the Catholic interwebs there are various reactions, with a fair amount of people saying that Trump is lying about the emails or about Clinton's opinion of Catholics and evangelicals. Trump is not "lying" about the emails. You can claim WikiLeaks is lying about them, but I don't see Podesta or the others implicated coming up with evidence to the contrary, and they would be the ones to do so.

As for Clinton's opinion being different from those of her staff, what do you think would happen to a staff member who said disparaging things about blacks, or gays? Yes, it's speculative, but I bet they'd be fired on the spot and Clinton would be quick to distance herself from their position. In this case, her silence (and the lame defense by Tim Kaine) indicate that she doe not disapprove of their remarks.

And perhaps Podesta is right, in an ironic fashion, when he says Catholics "throw around 'Thomistic' thought and subsidiarity' and sound sophisticated because no one knows what the hell they're talking about" - Clinton's views are the antithesis of subsidiarity (emphasis mine):
1883 Socialization also presents dangers. Excessive intervention by the state can threaten personal freedom and initiative. The teaching of the Church has elaborated the principle of subsidiarity, according to which "a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to co- ordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good."

1885 The principle of subsidiarity is opposed to all forms of collectivism. It sets limits for state intervention. It aims at harmonizing the relationships between individuals and societies. It tends toward the establishment of true international order.
But Clinton and her staff can show open disdain for Catholics and evangelicals (and "needy Latinos") with impunity, because she knows they will vote for her no matter what she says about them, no matter what crimes they think she has committed, no matter what abominations she supports, as long as she promises to "help the poor."

As I've said before, there is no grace in forcing other people to do "good works" (assuming you consider the kind of works Clinton would force people to do as "good"). Or, in the words of Penn Jillette:
"Helping poor and suffering people yourself is compassion.  Voting for our government to use guns to give money to help poor and suffering people is immoral self-righteous bullying laziness."
Trump famously said "I could shoot somebody and still not lose voters" - and maybe that would be true hypothetically, but it's pretty much literally true that Clinton can kill and not lose voters (think Benghazi and abortion, to name just two instances where her hands are bloodied with the deaths of others).