Sunday, April 29, 2018
“As legislation on taxes continues to be debated this week and next, may all members be mindful that the institutions and structures of our great Nation guarantee the opportunities that have allowed some to achieve great success, while others continue to struggle. May their efforts these days guarantee that there are not winners and losers under new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all Americans.”
It is believed that this statement on the floor of the House is what caused Speaker Paul Ryan to terminate Father Patrick Conroy from his position of House Chaplain, a job he'd held since 2001. Ryan had warned the priest - "Padre, you becoming too political".
And surely, we all can agree that this outrageous prayer by the Father is in opposition to everything Christianity teaches. That's sarcasm in case you don't recognize it. It is, in fact, exactly what Jesus taught but not so much what American evangelicals believe these days.
So, Ryan fired the Chaplain, something that has never been done before in America's history and not only does he fire him, but he did so without consulting the rest of the House or giving any particular reason for why Conroy had to go. It is truly bizarro times we live in.
I suspect it had to do with those conservatives I mentioned. I think they were sick of a Jesuit priest being their spiritual leader. They want one of their own in that position.
"A little more fire and brimstone and judgment, please."
Even conservative Catholics probably believe a Jesuit is too socially compassionate for them.
One of the representatives said he wanted the next Chaplain to be a family man, with a wife and children. So much for considering another Catholic.
And Ryan, as always, caved before their demands. It was one more cowardly act he could perform on his way out the door. Why not? His "legacy" is already hopelessly compromised.
I'm not standing up for Father Conroy for religious reasons. I don't even think Congress should have chaplains. I think our representatives are fully capable of seeking their own spiritual guidance without the taxpayers paying for it. But if chaplains there must be, they should serve on a rotating basis with all religions and denominations represented. Yes, even Muslims, gasp!
It is just one more sign of the hyper-partisanship that has taken over our country when a Chaplain is fired for no reason except politics.
Friday, April 20, 2018
I am no James Comey fan by any means. I believe his horrendous judgment in reporting the re-opening of the Clinton investigation right before the 2016 election (an investigation that turned out to be nothing) significantly impacted that election and foisted Donald Trump off on America. (Of course, he had help from both the Russians and misogyny.) He should have followed Department of Justice protocol and not inserted himself in the campaign. Or if he felt duty-bound to report that Hillary was under investigation, it would have only been fair to report the same about Donald Trump. But he put his finger on the scale and here we are.
Having said all that, I think he is aware that his actions were momentous for his country in a very negative way and I do truly think he is horrified and fearful of the behavior of the man he helped put in the White House.
Comey had worked with other presidents and while I'm sure he disapproved of some of their actions, they weren't egregious. Not like Trump, whom he has watched cross every ethical and moral boundary, who scorns the Rule of Law, who has tried to destroy our most respected institutions, like the FBI, the Justice Department, the courts. Trump shouts loudly via Twitter whom he thinks should be prosecuted and jailed with no evidence whatsoever, ignoring due process. This includes his political opponents. He acts more like the Dictator of a Banana Republican than a president of the United States. None of this is normal.
Comey has testified before Congress and Robert Mueller's investigation. He has written a book - A Higher Loyalty - and set out on a book tour to try to explain his interactions with the Trump administration. Is he seeking to undo some of the damage he has caused? Probably, but it is too little, too late.
Nevertheless, I believe Comey is head and shoulders above Trump in the honesty and sincerity departments so I see him as a another soldier in the foxhole in the war against Trump. Neither of us believes in impeachment, at least for now. Comey thinks the American people should get the opportunity to correct their mistakes via the do-over of an election. I'm a little less sure that the country will survive two more years of Trump but I'm equally afraid of Mike Pence's (who was our governor in Indiana so I know him firsthand) quietly devious Christianity. He wouldn't make waves like Trump but his policies would be equally as abhorrent.
Comey and I, along with many others, are trying to raise the alarm about Trump. For the time being, at least, that makes us friends.
Friday, April 13, 2018
Just for fun, let's say you're a detective. You investigating some serious crimes that have been committed. You have two suspects. Naturally, as part of your investigation, you have extensive background and criminal history checks done to give you some insight into who the perpetrator is most likely to be.
Guy One is about a clean as anyone can get. He married his college sweetheart and there has never been a breath of scandal to indicate that either one has ever cheated on the other. Guy One appears to be a loving, hands-on father to his children. He has a low-key and self-deprecating sense of humor.
So far as we've ever heard, his financial background is exemplary. He pays his bills. He's never filed bankruptcy. He has no conflicts in his business life. We know all this because he released his tax returns.
Guy One has never been sued so far as we know - not by creditors, employees, old girlfriends or anyone else.
He is judicious in his decision-making, perhaps a little too much so.
Guy One provided a stable work environment for his employees and most of them stuck with him. When they did leave, it wasn't because of bad blood. None of his staff has ever been indicted for any crime.
Although he may curse in private, in public, he is always conscious that he serves as a role model and talks in such a way that parents don't have to be embarrassed to have their children hear him.
He has never been charged, indicted or convicted of any crime.
He is respectful, even of his opponents.
Okay, now we come to Guy Two. He has five children from three marriages. He cheated on all his wives . He's been accused of having affairs with adult film stars and Playboy Bunnies shortly after his wife gave birth. Now he is also accused of paying those women off to keep their mouths shut.
He's been sued over 3,000 times - by creditors and employees and students in his university and investors. He often wins because he uses threats by his attorneys and bullying and money to outlast his litigants.
His sense of humor is cruel. He engages in childish name-calling. He enjoys demeaning people he doesn't like...and even people he does like. No one walks away from him with their self-respect intact. His offices are chaotic and confusing. His rate of turnover is huge and most often the people who leave feel diminished by their service to him. Several of his business associates have been charged with crimes. Some of them have pleaded guilty.
His finances an intertwined mess. He uses his office to enrich his business. He's been accused of working with the mob and taking money from Russian oligarchs and other dictators and their banks. He's filed bankruptcy multiple times. We would know more if he released his taxes as he promised he would
He makes spur of the moment decisions that are not well-thought-out and often ago against the advice of his advisers, even though he himself has very little experience. What he does have is an ego the size of Russia. He likes strongmen better than advocates for democracy. He changes his mind on important issues from one day to the next.
He is a pathological liar. He says whatever he wants to say with no regard for the truth. His language is vile. He talks about "shithole countries" and grabbng women by the pussy and "son-of-a-bitches" and "fuckers".
Okay, so here are our two generic suspects. Just based on this background, would be be biased in favor of one being the lawbreaker than the other? Of course, you would, any rational person would.
But you notice I used the term rational because the right-wing of this country looks at this research and believe the exact opposite. It is the squeaky clean Guy One who belongs behind bars for having pulled off the most outrageous plot of all times and evidently luring thousands of people, hell, tens of thousands of people that would to have been involved in on it with him.
It is Guy Two - the liar, the cheater, con man, who the conservatives see as their hero and anyone who doesn't agree is a traitor.
It is a topsy-turvy world we live in.