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Random Pre - Election Ruminations

Random Pre-Election RuminationsGerry OSheaWe are coming to the end of an election cycle that has engrossed the whole country. Thousands of people waiting in line for up to ten hours just to cast a ballot speak volumes about the high level of engagement in a leadership choice between two white candidates well advanced in their 70’s.It will be over in a few weeks but, in truth, we are not sure of that because, amazingly, the man who is well behind in nearly all the polls says that there can only be one winner - excluding his opponent.The following are some random reflections on happenings since Donald Trump took over the White House in January 2017.Remember the amazing Michael Avenatti. We met him first as Stormy Daniels’ lawyer, advocating for her outside the courthouse where she sued President Trump about hush money payments made by the president to keep their alleged affair quiet.He became a regular commentator on CNN where his keen mind and cogent commentary assured him of a spot am…
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The Catholic Vote

The Catholic VoteGerry OSheaSpeaking at an event co-sponsored by Boston College and St. Anselm College on September 15th, Cardinal Joseph Tobin from the Newark diocese declared that he had no moral problem with people voting for former vice-president Joe Biden in the November election, and he went on to say “I frankly have a more difficult time with the other option.”The cardinal’s misgivings are due mainly to President Trump’s restoration of the death penalty in clear opposition to Catholic social teaching as well as his dismissal of Laudato Si, Pope Francis’ signature encyclical, on protecting the environment. Tobin also identifies with the pope’s statement of disgust at the maltreatment of immigrant children on the southern border with Mexico: “A person who thinks only about building walls and not bridges is not a Christian.”However, a strong body of opinion among the church prelates disagrees with Tobin’s view and, focusing instead on the positions of the two political parties on …

Women and the Irish Revolution

Women and the Irish RevolutionGerry OSheaIn 1893 New Zealand was the first self-governing country to allowwomen over age 21 to vote. The suffragist agitation was a major issue in many countries and a dominant theme in British life at the turn of the twentieth century, but it wasn’t until the 1918 election that women over 30 were allowed to cast a ballot in a general election. Men over 21 were also enfranchised by the same 1918 Act of Parliament in Westminster.Irish women played an important part in the movement for change led by Anna Haslan who, when she was 90 years old in 1918, cast her first vote in a general election in Dublin. She and many of the Irish suffragist leaders were from establishment Unionist families, but Anna’s achievement in voting at a late age after a long struggle was loudly cheered by nationalist leaders in Westminster as well as by Sinn Fein.The Ladies’ Land League (LLL) was set up in January 1881 at the behest of Michael Davitt, the committed Fenian and founde…

Election Questions for Republicans

Election Questions for RepublicansGerry OSheaThere are a few perplexing aspects of President Trump’s plans for re-election that make no sense to many political observers. It is difficult to understand how the president and his re-election team have failed to deal with some core issues and strategies of the campaign.We are not talking about the President changing his views on the prevalence of racism in America or the Black Lives Matter movement, nor are we focusing on his adherence to the discredited trickle-down theory of economic development. Those policies and perspectives are part of the Republican brand for decades. Instead we are questioning their response in areas that are largely non-ideological.The coronavirus epidemic emerged last February with President Trump dismissing the issue as a passing problem and thanking President Xi for his leadership in combating it.However, as the situation worsened in the early months – February and March – he supported the leadership of Dr. An…

Priestly Celibacy

Priestly CelibacyGerry OSheaSt Augustine is recognized as a distinguished Doctor of the Church with learned writings dealing with obscure topics like the Christian idea of three persons in one godhead. However, his pronouncements in the area of sexual ethics have done serious damage to the Christian story.Until his mid-thirties he lived the life of a libertine who, in his own words, “was a slave to his sexual impulses.” He had a concubine who bore him a son. His mother, Saint Monica, pleaded with her son to join the Catholic Church and leave behind his wayward lifestyle. The family was well-off and the matriarch felt her son’s partner should not be a commoner but ought to come from an aristocratic family.Augustine was baptized at age thirty-two and, similar to many converts throughout history, he spent the remainder of his long life as a very committed Christian. He was ordained a priest after his son died and later was appointed Bishop of Hippo where his learned sermons enhanced his …

Trade Unions in America

Trade Unions in America                  Gerry OSheaIn April of last year some of the heads of the country’s biggest banks appeared before the House Financial Services Committee in Washington to address questions about various monetary issues and for a general review of the banking industry ten years after the Financial Crisis.These men – yes, all men – also knew they would face some questioning about their own salaries, all in annual multi-millions, which some members of the committee considered a bit brazen especially after their unimpressive leadership in the banking crisis.Congresswoman Katie Porter from California used her time on the mic to deal with a constituent’s concerns. She explained that a woman, Marie, had contacted her with a very challenging story. She is a single mother working for JPMorgan Chase and earning a post-tax annual salary of $29,100. The congresswoman documented her expenses for food, housing, childcare and the cost of running her 12-year old car.Ms. Porter…

The Irish War of Independence in 1920

The Irish War of Independence in 1920Gerry OSheaAfter the 1916 Easter Rebellion was crushed, Michael Collins, the future leading Irish revolutionary, reportedly said to one of his colleagues as they were marched off to jail that an Irish army should never again directly confront the military might of the British Empire. He promised that the next time they would face England on their terms, not as doomed targets in open warfare.After the Sinn Fein victory in the December, 1918, Westminster elections, the Irish Republican Army (IRA) started a guerilla war, where local battalions of their forces ambushed Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) and British army groups on patrol or just moving from one place to another.While they were very short of weapons, they took advantage of their superior knowledge of the local terrain and used the powerful element of striking first in surprise attacks to inflict serious losses on the enemy before withdrawing to nearby mountains or other safe havens. This war…