Tag Archives: Pope Francis

MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN? THIS ELECTION SEASON I’D SETTLE FOR MEDIOCRITY.

drumpf

 

Earlier today I blew up on Facebook. I called friends who generally share my views stupid and those who don’t stupider. Much of my heartfelt enmity is the result of the rise of Drumpf.

Why do I refer to him as Drumpf? You can thank John Oliver for that.

Immediately after my viewing of this episode I downloaded the Chrome extension that converts Drumpf to Drumpf (I have found I can’t even type the actual name here without it undergoing the transformation) on stories in my browser. It is one small consolation to see this at work in the headlines and stories I see on Slate, Huffington Post, Rolling Stone, and elsewhere, even on sites that lean farther right.

I deplore the lowlghts from all the 2016 campaigns. Our Presidential  electoral process is in the gutter, dragged there by Drumpf who has been joyfully joined there by Marco Rubio  who questions the size of Drumpf’s penis; by Ted Cruz simply being Ted Cruz; by Jeb Bush forced to defend charges of being a mommy’s boy; by Ben Carson, who fell in while sleep walking; by John Kasich, who destroyed any possible claims of being a moderate by defunding Planned Parenthood; and by the millions of presumably sentient human beings who listen to all the crazy talk about immigrants and an out of control government who couldn’t pass a U.S. citizenship/civics test if it were an open book exam and the original Declaration of  Independence and Constitution were splayed in front of them.

Holding them hostage there are David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremicist groups armed to the teeth courtesy of the National Rifle Association, crazed Evangelicals who believe Drumpf somehow possesses better Christian bona fides than the Pope when The Donald is probably more likely to provide a quote from a Smokey Stover comic book than from II Corinthians when asked about his favorite Bible passage.

Let us not forget the Secret Srvice which somehow has improved its training to the point that a reporter who wanders 10 inches outside the designated journalist area at a Drumpf rally is strong armed when only a few months ago intruders inside the White House grounds stole President Obama‘s favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe before being hustled to the requisite nearby mental hospital for observation.

Oh I’m not forgetting the Democrats. Their participation is in somewhat shallower waters near the curb cutouts that allow wheelchair crossing rather than in the middle of the block, but where the H2O is equally putrid. This time it is not so much the candidates themselves…Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton …hurling invectives at each other so much as it is the so-called BernieBros who have been accused of ugly misogynistic characterizations of the other camp while feminist icons Like Gloria Steinem, though using politer language, are equally sexist in how they portray young female Sanders enthusiasts.

And from these nominal Progressives come the enabling threats to withold their vote from the nominee should he or she not be the one they love to death at this moment. Enabling threats because by doing so they will practically guarantee that our next President will have a bulbous red nose, bizarre multi-colored makeup, a fright wig,  and will be making nonsense noises as he struts around the circus ring. Of course all but Drumpf will need to be fitted for this outfit.

Accompanying this flotsam down the gutter where it will eventually empty into the stream that will make the water supply of Flint, Michigan seem utterly pristine by comparison are various pundits, analysts, economic gurus, and the like offering opinions that may be parsley, rosemary, or thyme, but most certainly not sage.

Perhaps the only good that is coming from this is Spotlight. No, not the latest Oscar winning film but the harsh relentless glare focused on the entire Presidential nominating process that places premiums on a candidacy that begins within weeks after the prior election and is fueled by endless speculation, pollmongering profiteers, the need to fill cable TV news with anything but substance, and the proliferation of web sites whose sole purpose is to promulgate lies, denigrate anyone with opinions different from theirs, and disregard anything remotely likely to benefit the America they all profess to love but which they incessantly subject to virtual domestic violence while declaring their fealty between bruising blows.

Super Tuesday is an agglomeration of primaries in states and American Samoa which would be significant just for the sheer numbers of opportunities for voters to express their choices were it not for the media telling us that the issues have been decided by the primaries/caucuses already consigned to history in Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina and whch have a combined poulation dwarfed by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania whose own 2016 primary is not until April 26, a date by which the names of many former candidates will be not even a memory and which may represent only the merest possibility of ultimate success to the horses (asses) still in the race.

All this makes the Swiftboating of John Kerry in 2004 look more like the highest level of forensic debate by comparison.

Oh, hell. I’ll admit it. I, too have awkwardly stepped off the curb and fallen into the slime. But the murky waters are deep and I really can’t swim so I am about to drown in this torrent I am now a part of.

In splashing around for survival I might occasionally send splurges of nastiness into the open mouths of others, but they were there first voluntarily.

IS THAT A NUKE IN YOUR POCKET OR ARE YOU JUST HAPPY TO SEE ME?

treaty

On the heels of the just announced agreement with Iran on its nuclear program, negotiated by China, Russia, Germany, France, England, and, of course, the United States, comes praise for the diplomatic efforts of President Barack Obama.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/02/iran-deal-obama-legacy_n_6996586.html

In that framework of a final agreement, which is to be reduced to its legal language by June, Iran is to scale back its nuclear program signficantly and a series of inspections and safeguards will be implemented to ensure compliance.

Earlier this year Obama took major steps to normalize relations between the U.S. and Cuba after more than a half century of rancorous discourse, travel taboos, economic sanctions, and assassination plots.

In the ongoing battle against climate change—the most difficult part being the intransigence of conservatives to even acknowledge the problem as something to seek resolutions to—last November Obama announced a bilateral agreement with China in which that nation works to reduce emissions.

This triumvirate of accomplishments… an Axis of Non-Evil?… certainly is more worthy of Nobel Peace Prize scrutiny than anything Obama did prior to being honored with that award in 2009, the year he entered office.

Of course the praise for this feat is near universal in this country as Congress rejoices that, with the threat of Iran nukes eliminated, it can finally pare the Defense budget to a reasonable level that will still allow for our security as a nation.

Oh, I wish. Republicans right and righter (no left in that Party) are vociferous in their condemnation of the pact and issuing vague threats…well, not so vague…to attempt to dismantle it. They seem to be in utter defiance of the Benjamin Franklin adage

There has never been a good war, nor a bad peace.

They seem determined to commit war on Iran no matter the cost.

One can reasonably express skepticism that Iran will fail to keep its bargain or that the inspection process will somehow fail or that, just maybe, instead of nukes Iran has the largest garage in the world with a battalion of Ted Kaczynskis producing pipe bombs to be mailed to each American household.

But, it does not matter what the terms of the agreement are nor how staunchly they can be enforced. Were Iran simply to surrender all nuclear materials it possesses, with Geraldo Rivera hosting the biggest live TV event since the opening of Al Capone’s vault so the world can bear witness, these critics speak and act as if nothing will satisfy their concerns short of bombing Iran into submission.

Will there be strict compliance with this agreement should it go into effect? How the hell do I or anyone know that. And strict compliance means Iran builds no nuclear weapons. But, absent strict compliance, is there some basis for forecasting whether it’s true and clear goal…preventing Iran from raining nukes down on Israel, the U.S. or any other nation..is achieved?

Well look at this list of treaties dealing with limiting nuclear arms.

  • Treaty of Tlatelolcol           1967
  • Treaty of Rarotonga          1985
  • Treaty of Bangkok             1995
  • Treaty of Pelindaba           1996
  • Treaty of Semipalatinski    2006
  • START I                             1991
  • SALT I                                1972
  • ABM Treaty                        1972

Some of these treaties have expired of their own accord. Others experienced the withdrawal of at least one of the signatories including the United States.

From a technical viewpoint, have all these treaties been upheld while in effect? I don’t know and I don’t care. The principal purpose of each and every one of these diplomatic coups was to avoid mushroom clouds that were killing people.

Since there have been none of these mushroom clouds appearing with the intent of killing large numbers of humans since August 9, 1945, I look at them as a success. Not unequivocably so, but the expiration and/or violation of any of them has not resulted in catastrophe.

But we all know that prior to this basic agreement’s inception, there was  a wide call among the neocons to just go ahead and bomb Iran as the primary preferred pre-emptive action to be taken.

Here on Moyers and Company Robert Perry scores the pre-agreement commentary by such as John Bolton, Thomas Friedman, and Joshua Muravchik that appeared in either the Washingtton Post or the New York Times. Friedman actually advocated for arming ISIS to help thwart Iran while the other two were all in for the U.S. to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities.

http://billmoyers.com/2015/03/30/nyt-publishes-call-bomb-iran/

Bolton continued the contrived warmongering of the Bush Administration of which he was a part (also getting paychecks from Reagan and Bush I as part of his resume) by ignoring or lying about some basic facts. Here  he is taken to task for doing so by Jon  Schwarz.

https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/04/04/factual-errors-john-boltons-bomb-iran-op-ed-new-york-times-care/

And there are even commenters on a Post-Gazette editorial who extend their record of inane insanity by urging us to have war with Iran now rather than waiting until later.

http://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/editorials/2015/04/05/Iran-s-framework-Negotiators-deserve-a-chance-to-finish-the-details/stories/201504040026

Iranians seem to be pretty damned happy.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/02/iranians-celebrate-nuclear-deal-tehran

Surprisingly that grumpy old red state conservative Pope Francis not only spoke favorably of the deal but had the temerity and audacity to do so during his annual Easter address. According to many folks in this country promoting peace is not very Christian.

Alas, no matter the outcome of this deal, thwarted by Congress or not, observed fully by Iran or not, unilateral destructive action by Israel or not, this small step towards peace will remain that. Just one small step for man, but forever leaping into war for mankind.

Because, indeed, because they have seduced My people, saying, ‘Peace!’ when there is nopeace—and one builds a wall, and they plaster it with untempered mortar

Ezekiel 13:10

TRUE COMPASSION, OR PLAYING FAVORITES?

The biggest news story this week was about Miley Cyrus ending her engagement to whatever nonentity she had been dragging around. Oooooops! I guess that honor really goes to the election for the latest pope, now called Pope Francis

Personally I have about as much interest in who is pope as I do in who serves as treasurer for the city of Zelienople. I won’t go into the whys and wherefores of that willful disinterest as I’ve already been accused of having hate coursing through my veins due to it. Suffice it to say that, as a non-Catholic, whatever he does is entirely unlikely to have the least little influence on my life.

Another notable news item in the past day or so was the announcement by Senator Rob Portman (R.-Ohio) that he now supports gay marriage, the only GOP Senator to take such a public stand. It turns out he has a personal reason for doing so in that he learned a year or so ago that his son is gay. Thus Portman was able to see the essential humanity involved noting that gays should be able to enjoy just such a stable and happy and prosperous marriage as he and his wife have had for over twenty years.

Young Miley aside, I do see a connection between these latter two tales.

Pope Francis, from Argentina, has been hailed as a champion of social justice, dedicated to eliminating poverty. Yet it is abundantly clear that no one should expect any alteration of his views on contraception and gay marriage. (He’s agin ’em!)

To my way of thinking not only are access to contraception and the ability to marry…gay or straight…a matter of social justice, in many ways the existence of poverty is inextricably woven into these sexual issues.

In November of 2010 a startling revelation was that Pope Benedict had given at least some approval for the use of condoms in fighting AIDS, particularly in Africa, where the disease runs rampant. Yet there is some ambiguity present which gives pause to the notion that this form of contraception has been given blanket approval.

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/24/world/europe/24pope.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

In Africa with the AIDS epidemic it is difficult to fight poverty. As a report from the UN notes:

The economic impact of HIV/AIDS presents huge challenges. While the causality between poverty and HIV is not clear, it is certain that HIV pushes households and individuals into poverty. While many illnesses create catastrophic expenditures which can result in poverty, HIV/AIDS is among the worst because its victims are ill for a prolonged period of time before they die, and many are the chief household income earners.

http://www.un.org/wcm/content/site/chronicle/home/archive/issues2011/hivaidsthefourthdecade/impactofhivaidsoneducationandpoverty

So while Pope Francis will…we are told…use the influence and power of the Catholic Church to fight poverty and serve the “people”, what good will that do if he does not recognize and support the basic humanity of people regardless of sexual orientation and help poor people have the means to not only prevent the horrible destruction of HIV-AIDS but to give them a chance to escape the poverty that results from too many babies they are unable to care for.

He cannot be a true seeker of social justice if he picks and chooses like this.

Likewise Portman is perfectly content to allow gay marriage, but only because HIS son is gay. What if his son were not? He would still be maintaining his prior stance opposing such unions.

Matthew Yglesias of Slate views this conversion thusly:

I’m glad that Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio has reconsidered his view on gay marriage upon realization that his son is gay, but I also find this particular window into moderation—memorably dubbed Miss America conservatism by Mark Schmitt—to be the most annoying form.

Remember when Sarah Palin was running for vice president on a platform of tax cuts and reduced spending? But there was one form of domestic social spending she liked to champion? Spending on disabled children? Because she had a disabled child personally? Yet somehow her personal experience with disability didn’t lead her to any conclusions about the millions of mothers simply struggling to raise children in conditions of general poorness. Rob Portman doesn’t have a son with a pre-existing medical condition who’s locked out of the health insurance market. Rob Portman doesn’t have a son engaged in peasant agriculture whose livelihood is likely to be wiped out by climate change. Rob Portman doesn’t have a son who’ll be malnourished if SNAP benefits are cut. So Rob Portman doesn’t care.

http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2013/03/15/rob_portman_and_the_politics_of_narcissism.html

So I guess this indicates Portman cannot visualize about or empathize with the woes that beset so many millions of families unless someone close to him shares these woes. Are not the people receiving “entitlements” or lacking health coverage, etc. deserving of the same compassion and rational thought and analysis as Portman applied to gays due to his son?

Again this is where the one in power is playing favorites and not applying his alleged compassionate principles equally across the board.

At least in Portman’s case there is at least some chance this selectivity will benefit Americans.

As for Miley I suggest Match.com.