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Showing posts from December, 2021

Perspectives on Irish Unification

  Perspectives on a United Ireland                 Gerry OShea A few months ago, my son-in-law, Jimmy Frawley, who lives in Dublin, brought two of his children, aged 10 and 15, on a weekend trip to Belfast. He wanted them to become acquainted with a part of the island that they had never visited and knew little about. Jimmy had read positive comments about the tours provided by the Black Taxi service, and, on arrival, he engaged one at the train station to provide a trip around Belfast. They were lucky to get a talkative and knowledgeable guide who showed the main sites of interest with stops at murals and drawings representing the culture of both traditions in the divided city. His script was balanced and fair. However, towards the end of the hour-long tour he mentioned that his brother and uncle were shot at by Republicans back in the troubled 1980’s. Coming to the end, my son-in-law asked him whether he thought that a United Ireland would happen after the border poll promised

The Crisis in American Democracy

  The Crisis in American Democracy              Gerry OShea William Shakespeare, widely regarded as the world’s greatest dramatist, frequently focuses on how the unbridled aspiration for power and aggrandizement leads to tragic consequences. Lord Acton’s famous dictum that all power corrupts is confirmed in many of his plays with an abundance of shady deals and compromised principles. Of course, democracy, the concept that political power resides with the people, didn’t come to the fore for nearly two hundred years after Shakespeare’s time. However, the overwhelming drive to get to the top remains a vibrant theme of modern politics. Shakespeare’s tragic character, Macbeth, makes no bones about his motivation in words that still resonate today, “I have no spur to prick the side of my intent only vaulting ambition.” Donald Trump can’t abide being a loser. He must win to salve the insatiable demands of his ego. In a Commencement address in the Naval Academy in 2018 he declared that,

Poverty in America

  Poverty in America                 Gerry OShea I recall a philosophy professor from County Mayo, Fr. Brian Dunleavy, teaching a class on the subject of mistakes in reasoning, more formally called the logical fallacies. He explained that we all tend to think in a way that supports the conclusions we want to arrive at. We are inclined to explain our lives in terms that enhance our own standing and prejudices. This convenient thinking, a universal human tendency, is called rationalization. I thought of Dunleavy when I read a Pew Research Study recently showing that most wealthy Americans believe that “poor people today have it easy because they can get government benefits without doing anything in return.” Now there is not a scintilla of evidence supporting this demeaning assertion, but it does provide a convenient justification for disregarding the travails of the poor. The Pew study highlights a real weakness in the capitalist culture and in the educational system in America. It

Speaker McCarthy

  Speaker McCarthy            Gerry OShea Kevin McCarthy, the Republican leader in the House of Representatives and a very ambitious man, sees himself on the cusp of a major positive  career move. He wants Nancy Pelosi’s job as Speaker, and the current betting suggests strongly that he will take over from her after the mid-term elections in November.  Recent voting for governor in Virginia and New Jersey seems to confirm that people are moving away from the Democratic Party, dissatisfied with rising prices for utility bills as well as in the supermarkets and gas stations. More than that, the mid-term elections, following compelling past precedents, will likely show a significant swing away from the party in the White House. And the Pelosi Democrats are already working with a tight lead that only allows a slight slippage before losing their majority.  Republicans in some states have gerrymandered the constituency boundaries for their own electoral benefit. One independent expert