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Showing posts from February, 2022

Is America Heading for a Second Civil War?

  Is America Heading for Another Civil War?           Gerry OShea A few months ago three retired military generals warned about the prospect of a breakdown of the American system of government after the 2024 presidential election. They fear that in a contested result “some might follow orders from the rightful commander in chief while others might follow the Trumpian loser  - - -  and a military breakdown could lead to civil war.” In a recent poll conducted by the Institute of Politics in Harvard, 35% of voting-age Americans under 30 place the odds of another civil war at 50% or higher. Instability and cynicism have permeated the political system in the United States. Collective suggestion far outstrips individual conviction in choosing party affiliation.  In repeated surveys around 70% of Republicans still believe that Donald Trump won the presidential election. The former president’s top lawyers, led by Rudy Giuliani, claimed widespread fraud in the November contest. They wen

Identity Issues in Northern Ireland

  Identity Issues in Northern Ireland            Gerry O’Shea   I recall reading a report about the strength of the different tribal identities in Northern Ireland. It was written by an English sociologist and was published at the height of the Troubles in the 1980s. In one part of her study she spoke to hundreds of people waiting at bus stops. Her question to them centered on how conscious they were about the ethnic identity of the other people in the bus line. The interviewees were almost unanimous in conceding that they were indeed cognizant of the background of other bus users, and they had their own ways of deciphering which of the two communities they belonged to. I found this very surprising because they all shared the same color and physical features. When I mentioned the findings to people from Northern Ireland living in New York, their responses strongly affirmed the sociologist’s findings. I thought of that research when I read the results recently of the Northern Iris

Mixing the Political with the Legal

  Mixing the Political and the Legal             Gerry O’Shea When the imperatives of the law clash with the dynamic push and pull of power politics, the result is often an unseemly public mess.   In the 2000 presidential contest Vice-President Al Gore and George W. Bush ended up within a few hundred votes of each other in Florida, and the overall national result hinged on the declaration from Miami. Complicating matters, the Governor of that state was Mr. Bush’s younger brother, Jeb, and Katherine Harris, the secretary of state charged with ensuring an impartial election, served as co-chair of the Bush for President election committee. The electronic result favored Bush by a whisker, but Gore called for a hand recount. Young readers may not remember the heated controversy about “hanging chads” in punch card ballots while the whole counting system clogged up. The Supreme Court expressed a strong preference for a local resolution for the controversy, but eventually, they agree

Child Abuse and the Papacy

  Child Abuse and the Papacy                 Gerry OShea The recent 190-page report commissioned by the Munich archdiocese found Emeritus Pope Benedict complicit in covering up cases of child abuse where predator priests were allowed to continue in pastoral work after their corrupt actions were known.  This papal debacle brings to mind the famous Danish writer Hans Christian Anderson’s story about the Emperor whose arrogance was revealed when he walked naked in a parade. The tale began when two swindlers, posing as weavers, promised to supply the Emperor with magnificent clothes which, however, would only be visible to those subjects who were wise and perceptive. They set up looms and finally announced that the emperor’s suit was ready.  The “tailors” mime that they are dressing him in gorgeous attire and he struts off proudly to lead a big parade. His subjects cheer him on because to do otherwise would mark them as stupid, but a child, shocked at the sight of the naked leader,