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The Candidacy of Joe Biden

The Candidacy of Joe BidenGerry O'Shea
Electability is the core driving force of democratic politics. In the final analysis winning at the ballot box is all that matters. Losers tell election stories; winners wield political power.
Ask George McGovern or Al Gore or John McCain - three fine candidates but none of them was successful on their big day at the polls. The principled McGovern was pigeonholed as supporting a far-left agenda and he only carried one state, Massachusetts, against the hawkish Nixon in 1972. Twenty eight years later the talented but straitlaced then vice-president Al Gore was leading in a close race with Bush 43, but he made the mistake of distancing himself from his boss, the lascivious but well-liked Bill Clinton, and he lost by a few hundred votes. In 2008 John McCain, a war hero with the common touch, was favored against a first-term black senator from Illinois until he chose a political airhead from Alaska as a running mate and he lost.
How electable is Joe …
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The Irish Industrial Schools and the Carrigan Report

The Irish Industrial SchoolsGerry O'Shea
One of the most disturbing stories during the first 100 years of Irish independence centers on the maltreatment of children in industrial schools.
It is ten years this summer since the Ryan Commission reported in detail on the disturbing catalogue of abuse inflicted on poor children in industrial schools who had nobody to speak for them, nobody on their side. These schools existed up and down the country until the 1970's. Among the better-known locations were Letterfrack in Galway, Artane in Dublin and Upton in Cork.
Almost 30,000children, nearly all orphans or truants or offsprings of unmarried mothers, were convicted as criminals and confined in these institutions by courts that just wanted them out of their sight.
The Ryan Report relates that in all these places, which were paid for by the state, children were humiliated and told they were worthless, somehow deserving of their pitiful plight. In a haunting sentence Ryan writes "chil…

Looking Ahead to the 2020 Presidential Election

Looking ahead to the 2020 Presidential ElectionGerry OShea
There is a silliness about the claims of some of the candidates for the Democratic nomination when they assert that they are in the best position to win back blue-collar workers in the Midwest who voted for Donald Trump in 2016. They claim that Hillary Clinton just did not connect with these voters; she failed to address their issues or to appeal to their emotions as Mr. Trump did successfully.
So those voters will have four years of experiencing this presidency before it comes to casting the next presidential ballot. I am sure they will be influenced by how they and their families benefited from Trump's policies on taxation and healthcare, and these important matters will influence whether or not they want a continuation of the present regime. No need for Democratic pandering; let them make their judgment based on how their concerns were dealt with since 2016.
Also, the Democratic candidates won't be worrying about chas…

Democracy in Northern Ireland - Past and Present

Democracy in Northern Ireland Gerry O'Shea
If we identify a functioning democracy as a political system where the principle of majority rule prevails, then Northern Ireland has a sad and unfortunate history.
Decades of agitation resulted in a 1914 Home Rule Bill passing in Westminster that yielded some limited powers to a government in Dublin. Irish nationalists celebrated this new proposal, seeing it as a first step to a fuller system of self-rule.
However Unionists, who were strong numerically in the province of Ulster, virulently opposed any involvement with a Dublin government because they feared that Home Rule would inevitably lead to Rome Rule, and they also viewed the majority Catholic culture as inferior to what the Protestant Ascendancy had to offer.
They organized and trained a large and determined militia and imported big quantities of arms from Germany warning the British Government that they were willing to fight with guns and bombs any effort to implement the Home Rule B…

Gays and the Catholic Church

Gays and the Catholic ChurchGerry OShea
Thomas Aquinas, the famous Dominican priest and theologian, promoted natural law as a sound basis for ethical teaching. This approach followed the great Greek thinkers and in particular Aristotle who used human reason alone to deduce binding rules of moral behavior.
Major problems have arisen as a result of the limitations of this natural law thinking when dealing with sexual morality. It was central to Pope Paul V1's controversial 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae which banned the use of condoms or the contraceptive pill even for married Catholics, basically because, following Aquinas' model, the moral order dictates that one may not stymie or interfere with the natural procreative purpose of sex.
This papal edict was disregarded by almost 90% of Catholic couples as impractical. It has the distinction of being the first Vatican encyclical honored, in Shakespeare's words far "more in the breach than in the observance."
In the late …

The European and Local Election in Ireland in May 2019

The European and Local Elections in IrelandGerry OShea
The recent European and Local elections held in Ireland on May 24th provided some interesting and significant results in both parts of the island.
The Sinn Fein vote in the North held well in the nationalist community there, but in the South the party dropped about a third of its support, shedding close to half its representatives in local councils and failing to hold two of its three seats in Europe.
This collapse was not anticipated by the pundits and led to widespread speculation about why so many voters abandoned the party.
It was Mary Lou McDonald's first election as leader of Sinn Fein after decades of Gerry Adams at the top. He registered very well with Republican voters because of his close association with the revolution in the North. Adams claims controversially that he was never a member of the IRA but he certainly had the whiff of cordite which drew credibility from a significant number of nationalists in every consti…

Moral and Pragmatic Considerations about Healthcare in America

Moral and Pragmatic Considerations about Healthcare in AmericaGerry OShea
The provision of health care in any society has a strong moral component. Who gets treated in hospitals and clinics and who pays the bill lead inevitably to ethical considerations.
The famous Hippocratic Oath, clearly including a moral dimension, instructs doctors not only to protect their patients from disease but also from "harm and injustice."It also warns physicians not to prey on patients' vulnerability for their own gain.
The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 asserts a universal right to adequate health care for citizens of every member country. In recent times the American Medical Association, which previously resisted government interference in their domain, has come out for the right of all citizens to comprehensive health care.
In addition polls show that between 65% and 75% of Americans, including 51% of Republicans, favor a system of health care for everyone as a right. Wh…