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Showing posts from January, 2018

President Trump's First Year Gerry O'Shea

President Trump's First YearGerry O'Shea
In Michael Wolff'srecent acclaimed book "Fire and Fury" the author asserts that a sense of chaosand confusion pervades the Trump White House. He writes that mayhem anddisorganization prevail in the Oval Office where the leader of the western world makes the big and important decisions.
Wolff compares the President's rants and rambling tweets to the sophomoric utterances of a needy teenager. Important decisions are made based on the advice of the last person who has his ear, and he may well change his mind peremptorily on any issue.
President Trump also has a major problem with credibility. The Washington Post identified over two thousand times that the president told untruths since assuming office. So, statements or promises from the White House are viewed skeptically, even by members of his own party. Shakespeare's words in "Macbeth" convey this sense of confusion and disarray: "Nothing is but what is …

The Morality of the 1916 Rising

The Morality of the 1916 Rising Gerry O'Shea
When County Kerry Bishop David Moriarty condemned the Fenians after their abortive rebellion in 1867, his critique of the organization was in line with Catholic teaching at the time. The Church opposed the use of violence to achieve political ends and took a strong stand against membership in oath-bound societies like the Fenians. "Hell is not hot enough or eternity long enough for them" was Moriarty's harsh and intemperate condemnation of the men who led the Fenian Brotherhood. John Mangan, his episcopal successor in Killarney in 1916, was also dismissive of the Easter revolution in Dublin because he claimed that the leaders were "evil-minded men affected by Socialistic and Revolutionary doctrines".
The rebellion in Dublin was led by members of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), a rebadged version of the Fenians, which was also proscribed by the Catholic Church because it too was a secret oath-bound revolutio…

Nobody Cried Stop

country achieved independence in 1922. Nobody Cried StopGerry O'Shea
I recall clearly a shocking conversation that I had about twenty years ago with a fine man from Tralee about the Christian Brothers' Industrial Schoolin that town. He recalled that some of the boys confined in the industrial school attended classes with him in The Green, the Brothers'local high school. He remembered that when the final bell rang to end the school day they would bolt for their living quarters because if they tarried at all they claimed they would be beaten.
My other memory of that conversation is much more disturbing. He told me thatlocal people would sometimes hear screams at night from the Industrial School. As a teenager he was surprised by this and asked his father, who worked as a laborer in the town, what was going on to cause such nocturnal cries. His father replied that such matters were beyond his ability to deal with and that his son was better not talking about them - a very under…

Trump Conservatism

Trump ConservatismGerry O'Shea
During the recent presidential campaign, Mr. Trump sought to distance himself from the hard-line conservatives in his own party by reminding voters that he was the candidate of the Republican Party and not the Conservative Party. In addition, on two vital progressive issues, he promised not to cut Medicaid and that his tax proposals would primarily benefit "ordinary" working people.
Some Trump apologists explained that his scatterbrain statements about building walls and punishing women who had an abortion and other far-out proposals would fade away when he actually achieved power. They confidently predicted that modern sophisticated people like his daughter and son-in-law would exert a strong moderating influence.
All wishful thinking, unfortunately, because in issue after issue Mr. Trump has emerged as the most right wing president in recent memory. Here is his record to date.
Can you ever remember a Republican candidate for any major office …

Gay priests

Gay PriestsGerry O'SheaJanuary 2018
About 4% of people in America are homosexuals, but the figure for priests is estimated at about 33%. It is ironic that while so many priests are homosexual, most leaders of the Catholic Church speak very negatively of the gay lifestyle.
Jesus had very little to say about any sexual issue, and there is no record that he ever addressed questions about homosexuality - in fact there is no word for it in Aramaic, the language he spoke.
The church's thinking was clearly set down in the Middle Ages by Thomas Aquinas, a brilliant Dominican priest, whosewritings are still the basis for theology programs in most Catholic seminaries.
Belief in Natural Law ethics is central to Thomism. Female and male genitals are designed by God for one purpose only, procreation. In this thinking, any other kind of copulationis gravely sinful. Aquinas considered homosexual behavior by men or women to be seriously depraved. He wrote that only bestiality was more morally re…

Trump Populism

Trump Populism Gerry O'SheaJuly 2017

Donald Trump has created consternation, especially among Republicans, as he veers away from some of the traditional orthodox positions of the Party in favor of populist rhetoric that has won him the nomination. Populism can be understood as a set of beliefs that highlight the neglect of and disregard for the hopes and fears of broad swaths of the population by elites who take care only of their own interests.
Mr. Trump's core constituency seems to be drawn from white males with low achievement in formal education. One study showed that a stunning 80% of these blue collar workers voted for Trump in the primaries. They believe that he listens to their stories and understands their disgust at being left behind, many of them earning less than they did twenty years ago. They resent that the elites of both Parties seem to dismiss their concerns.
Let's look at two of the populist themes that Trump has been dealing with and making vague promises …

Global Warming

Global WarmingGerry O'Shea     February 2017
The title of this article will put many people off - climate change is viewed as involving very complex issues and few people want to hear about disappearing coral reefs or the impact ofthawing permafrost on the heating of the planet. It is much easier to espouse an opinion on how to deal with the dictators in Syria or North Korea or to take a stand on that famous wallon the Mexican border.
Most people are engaged with day-to-day issues that impact their lives - taxes, prices in the supermarket and the effectiveness of our educational system. However, in this context we need to consider the longer-term effects of our behavior and the policies that our government pursues. American Indian wisdom urges us to take responsibility for how our actions or inaction affect people's lives "seven generations" from now.
Americans are divided on the reality and seriousness of global warming. More than 95% of climate scientists are clear th…

American Pragmatism and the Healthcare Crisis

American Pragmatism and the Health Care CrisisGerry O'SheaJuly 2017
The American way of solving problems is often spoken of as pragmatic. In this approach the truth of any idea is determined by its practical outcomes. Every proposal is viewed not through the prism of some theoretical principle or dogma but is judged solely on its actual impact on people's lives.
Consider the American health care system and, for now, leave aside any consideration of ideology and assess the way we deal with this vital issue strictly from a pragmatic viewpoint where only results matter.
The annual per capita spending for health care in the United States comes to $9451, but about 40 million people have no coverage of any kind. After all that spending, you might expect that American life expectancy of 79 years would be at the top of the international ratings. Not so. In our nearest neighbor, Canada, where everybody is covered at a cost of $4608 per person, longevity is 82 years.
A few more examples hig…

Introduction to Book on 1916 Rising

By Gerry O’Shea
Speaking in his native Wexford in 1914, John Redmond was loudly cheered when he pointed to the successes of the Irish Parliamentary Party which he led in Westminster. "Let us remember," he said, "that we are a free people. We have emancipated the farmers; we have housed the agricultural laborers; we have won religious liberty; we have won free education . . . we have laid broad and deep the foundations for national prosperity, and finally we have won an Irish parliament".
The 1912 Home Rule Bill, which was the basis for Redmond's enthusiasm, was indeed a major success for constitutional progress. The Bill promised a parliament in Dublin with two chambers that would be responsible for legislating in limited but important areas for the whole island. It would, however, be subject to the imperial parliament in Westminster in foreign policy and in most areas of taxation. London would also maintain control of the Royal Irish Constabulary for…

The limitations of Military Power

The Limitations of Military PowerGerry O'Shea
General DwightEisenhower led the Allies to victory over the Nazis in the Second World War. Later he was elected president twice, in 1952 and 1956. In his farewell address to the American people in January 1961, before President Kennedy took over in the White House, he warned about the growing power of what he called the military-industrial complex. He feared that the clout of the big armaments corporationscombined with a powerful and ambitious military establishmentcould lead America into a state of senseless permanent war.
America's defense spending is larger than the next seven countries in the world combined. We have by far the most sophisticated weaponry and the best-trained personnel. Politics is always about power and certainly, the United States, the country with the most tanks and rockets, has a significant advantage in international power games.
The tragedy of 9/11 demanded some commensurate revenge against those who finance…