Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2018

The Seventh Generation Principle

The Seventh Generation Principle                          Gerry O'Shea The Seventh Generation Principle conveys a core belief of Native Americans. It states that in every serious decision we make at all levels of society, we should give priority to considering how it will impact our descendants, seven generations into the future. The Republican 2018 budget involved massive tax breaks that almost entirely benefited corporations and rich people. It was sold to the public on the bogus assertion that the huge advantages for the rich would gradually trickle down to help ordinary workers and the poor. Who would pay for this massive budgetary giveaway as well as for increased military spending of around 750 billion dollars?   Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury Secretary, assured the nation that "not only will this tax cut pay for itself but it will pay down the debt as well." This rationale for tax cuts goes back to the Reagan years; they call it supply-side economics

Nationalism in Dublin and Paris

Nationalism in Dublin and Paris             Gerry O'Shea The recent rugby match in Dublin between the All Blacks and Ireland provided a vibrant example of one dimension of Irish nationalism. All 52,000 seats in the Aviva Stadium were sold out well in advance. The game was billed as a titanic struggle between the legendary New Zealanders, number one in the world and never beaten in all their previous visits to Dublin, against a promising and ambitious all-Ireland national team, captained by a charismatic Belfast man and rated number two internationally. It was a ferocious game of rugby played at breathtaking speed and   with fierce intensity, and the Irish crowd, indeed the whole nation, aided by the excellent television coverage, cheered every move by the men in green shirts. With twelve minutes remaining the Irish were deservedly ahead by seven points, 16 to 9. Still the vaunted visitors were pressing and everybody knew that a try and conversion would tie the game and

The Two Popes

The Two Popes                       Gerry O'Shea Shortly after taking over from Pope Benedict in March, 2013, Francis was asked his opinion on homosexuality and, in particular, on gay priests. He responded with a rhetorical question: "Who am I to judge?" This answer reflected a popular sentiment because most people are comfortable with a live-and-let-live approach to life and are often resentful of individuals or institutions - including the Vatican - that endeavor to instruct them how to behave. However, his response did not find favor with a strong rump of conservative clerics and lay people who felt that the pope's job is precisely to make moral judgments and to   provide direction especially on controversial issues. His predecessor, Benedict, left no doubt about his belief that homosexuality is an intrinsic moral evil, an objective disorder that is incompatible with the priestly vocation. Plenty judgment there! In Benedict's early years teaching i

Just Imagine

Just Imagine!            Gerry O'Shea Join me in a trip to la-la land. Dream with me that instead of the Electoral College our president is elected by popular vote and Hillary Clinton is in the White House. Imagine what the Republican leaders would be saying if she was complaining   every day about the media, dubbing it the enemy of the people, a mischievous trope suggesting that CNN and reputable newspapers like the New York Times are trying to thwart the wishes of the majority of the people. Would these Republican leaders allow her to assert her innocence of any culpability when one of her extremist followers sends a pipe bomb to the offices of CNN? Think for a moment of the loud guffaws from Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham if any Democratic president stated publicly that she "fell   in love" with the North Korean tyrant Kim Jong Un, boasting that Kim had written her "a beautiful letter." Just imagine the condemnatory rhetoric such language wou

The 1918 Election in Ireland

The 1918 Election in Ireland                                       Gerry O'Shea The armistice ending the First World War was signed on November 11th 1918. Shortly afterwards the British Government called a general election for December 14th, and the results of that election one hundred years ago changed Irish history, leading directly to the Anglo-Irish Treaty and the establishment of an independent government in Dublin.   After achieving Home Rule, John Redmond , the Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP) leader, urged Irishmen to support the British war effort. For him, Ireland was part of the Empire and was thus duty bound to stand behind   British war policy. Young Irishmen responded positively, some driven by the payments accruing to their poor families, while many others were motivated by a youthful sense of adventure. Patrick Pearse, James Connolly and their comrades urged Irishmen not to enlist in the British army and instead to focus on gaining freedom for their ow

Sovereignty and the Brexit negotiations

Sovereignty and the Brexit Negotiations                   Gerry O'Shea Sovereignty was at the heart of the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations that took place in London in the fall of 1921. Who would exercise political power in the proposed new state? The Irish delegates, led by Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins, wanted complete freedom from Great Britain, but Lloyd George and his colleagues demanded limitations on the power of the emerging new government in Dublin. In particular, they insisted that members of the new parliament would take an oath of allegiance to the English monarch. This limitation on Irish sovereignty whereby Irish revolutionaries who had sworn allegiance to an Irish republic would have to sign a document stating their subservience to the Crown was the main cause of the disastrous civil war in Ireland in 1922 and 1923. The issue of Irish sovereignty is still at the heart of the Brexit negotiations that have engulfed the British leadership since their

The Plight of the Poor in America

The Plight of the Poor in America              Gerry O'Shea George W. Bush, a Republican, ran successfully for the presidency of the United States   as a compassionate conservative in 2000 and 2004. The leadership he provided in Washington for disbursing more than 40 billion dollars to sub-Saharan African countries to help them deal with the scourge of AIDS shows that his electoral rhetoric was sincere. The present Republican leadership has moved much further Right, making no claim to compassion in dealing with the poor at home or abroad. It is ironic that such hard-heartedness dominates an administration led by Donald Trump, who, before he ran for the presidency, expressed moderate views on many issues, including the need for a healthcare program that covers all citizens. Hard-line conservatives dominate the policy discussions in all areas of the Trump administration, from treatment of the children of immigrants to taxation and budgeting to services for the poor and i

Majority Rules!

Majority Rules - Really!       Gerry O'Shea In the presidential election in 2000 Al Gore won the popular vote but he lost the election. We had a similar story in 2016 when Hillary Clinton polled close to three million more votes than Donald Trump and again came in second. The Gore and Clinton defeats had enormous consequences for the country. Think the disastrous invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the current daily chaos in the White House. Why not simply have a majority rule system, the candidate who gets the highest number of votes wins, which is what most people understand by democracy? In the late 18th century as America was asserting its freedom from Great Britain, the Declaration of Independence stated that "all men are created equal," but   the revolutionary leaders didn't really mean these words in their clear meaning because, to begin with, non-whites and women were not included. In addition, the American revolutionaries also gave considerable credi