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Showing posts from 2020

Socialism in American Elections

  Socialism in American Elections               Gerry OShea Prior to the November election, all the polls in Florida predicted a very tight race. They were wrong because President Trump won the state with plenty to spare. These results were among the first to be announced and they were buttressed by declarations from Texas   where the Democrats had run a very ambitious and expensive campaign, only to come in a distant second. Exit interviews at various polling stations in both states revealed that large numbers of Hispanic voters, especially with Cuban and Venezuelan backgrounds, had voted for the incumbent, President Trump. The Republican campaign had repeatedly warned that voting for Joe Biden and, especially, Kamalla Harris, amounted to support for the socialism of Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez – both long dead but who cares about a detail like that when emotions are being stirred. Democrats knew that the old Cuban emigrants were committed conservatives, suspicious of any candi

Divisions in the Catholic Church in America

  Divisions in the Catholic Church              Gerry OShea The Catholic Church in the United States is in the throes of a major crisis. About 900,000 members leave the church every year. This accumulated leakage has led to no less than 13% of the American population identifying themselves as former Catholics. No doubt, the sexual abuse crisis where clergymen took advantage of their power by engaging in sexual behavior with young boys and girls is the principal reason for the exodus of so many Catholics from the family religion that they grew up with. The abuse by trusted religious adults did untold harm, but even worse, was the widespread cover-up by prelates stretching all the way to the papal chair. This crisis is ongoing as witnessed in the recent Vatican report on the egregious behavior of Theodore McCarrick, who was finally defrocked by Francis, the suspension of Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, who is accused by two former parishioners of sexual attacks, and Fr. George R

A Major Challenge for Mr. Biden

  Mr. Biden’s Leadership Challenge            Gerry OShea King Solomon is presented in the bible as the epitome of wisdom. The story goes that God gave him the opportunity to ask for whatever gift he deemed most important, and he did not choose wealth or grandiosity, as most leaders would, but pleaded instead for the gift of wisdom. One biblical story shows how well the king understood human nature. Two women were brought before him claiming motherhood of the same baby. Each made emotional pleas that the baby was hers. Solomon called for his sword proclaiming that he would divide the child and give each one half. At this, the real mother objected and offered to let her opponent have the baby rather than allow the death of her child. Needless to say, Solomon banished the phony mother. President Joe Biden, a practicing Catholic who is well-versed in the two Testaments, will have to pray for Solomonic insights when he considers how to deal with serious accusations of illegality agai

The Gaelic Revival

  The Gaelic Revival                  Gerry OShea The growth of nationalism was a dominant theme in 19 th century Europe, culminating in the successful unification movements in Germany and Italy, ending with capitals in Berlin and Rome.   The new nation-state was defined by ethnic and language congruence among the citizenry, leading to near-homogeneity among the vast majority of people in each country. For instance, in Nazi Germany in the 1930’s Jews and Roma gypsies did not qualify as German nationals, and thus they became lesser people, identified as sub-humans who could be maltreated and much worse. This kind of xenophobia throughout Europe played a major part in the genesis of two disastrous world wars. The 19 th century was also the apex of the colonial era where all the major European countries had extended their power mostly to faraway territories in Africa, Asia and South America. Great Britain, the king of the colonialists, had expanded its authority to so many place

The Catholic Church and the Presidential Election

  The Catholic Church and the Election             Gerry OShea The Pope Francis wing of the Catholic Church is happy with the Biden victory. The pope called the president-elect to congratulate him on his win and to wish him well in his plans to promote a progressive agenda. By all accounts they had a warm discussion about the crucial importance of addressing climate change and refugee issues. In the recent election most members of the hierarchy in the United States strongly favored President Trump who boasted that no previous president could match his espousal of issues dear to the Catholic Church, specifically his positions on abortion and religious freedom. Francis’ priorities as eloquently set forth in his encyclicals Laudato Si and Fratelli Tutti stress a much wider moral agenda. He highlights three issues that require urgent attention and which rarely figure in Republican talking points or indeed in Sunday sermons. The pope stresses that the climate crisis is worsening b

Election Postmortem

  Election Postmortem               Gerry OShea President Clinton’s political guru James Carville’s oft-repeated statement of election wisdom that “it is the economy stupid” was deemed not to apply in advance of this year’s presidential election. How could any other issue supersede a raging virus that was causing nearly a thousand deaths a day, with every poll showing that most people blamed President Trump’s incompetent handling of the crisis? Amazingly, exit polls on election day revealed that the COVID crisis was rated third on the scale of importance by voters. Racial division showed at second and at the top again, number one, came the economy. About a week before election day the Federal Reserve Board announced that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) had expanded at a record 33.1% in the third quarter. This was welcomed like manna from heaven by President Trump and all Republican candidates. They argued that this never-before-achieved growth rate was proof that conservative Re

The Catholic Church and Irish Independence

  The Catholic Church and the Irish Independence Movement        Gerry OShea The Penal Laws in Ireland were designed to bully Catholics and other Protestant dissenters into accepting the “true faith” as proclaimed by the English monarch. By the late 1790’s these laws had drifted into abeyance, and in 1795 the leaders in Westminster agreed to the construction of a seminary in Maynooth where aspirants for the Catholic priesthood could be trained. This was a momentous political decision with consequences that extended throughout the 19 th century and beyond. Prior to the development of Maynooth, priests were prepared for their work in European seminaries, especially in Spain and France, where revolutionary thinking was in vogue. They returned to serve in Ireland only to be further radicalized as they were chased and harassed by the authorities to prevent them from ministering to the people. The new college in Maynooth changed all of that. Priests and especially bishops gradually be

Problems with American Democracy

  Problems with American Democracy               Gerry OShea In 1831 Alexis de Tocqueville came from France to America to examine the workings of the prison system in what was the first country to revolt successfully against colonial rule. He was intrigued by the experiment here in democracy and conceded that the Republican form of self-government seemed to work while failing to get traction anywhere in Europe. Alexis came from an aristocratic family and because his parents were viewed as hostile to the French Revolution they were imprisoned in Paris during The Reign of Terror. Still, he lauded the stress on equality in the United States but, true to his family origins, he worried how all this democratic power in the hands of commoners would work out for the prosperous aristocracy, which he felt was still essential for a stable political system. De Tocqueville worried about what he called “the tyranny of the majority.” He imagined that the mass of poor people could overwhelm the

Random Pre - Election Ruminations

  Random Pre-Election Ruminations                  Gerry OShea We 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 c