Mar 152017

Via Wesley J. Smith:

Now, a proposal is being pushed in the UK to give “rights” to the Frome River. From the SomersetLive story:

The River Frome could soon be capable of bearing the same rights as humans and companies, if proposals to establish a nature rights by-law go ahead.

Sustainable Frome is campaigning to get Frome Town Council to create a new type of by-law which recognises the river as a legal system capable of bearing the same rights as us humans.

The key elements of a nature rights by-law for the river were laid out at a town council meeting last July. These would be:

1. That the river be given appropriate rights stemming from the function of rivers within the wider whole of nature.

2. That local people and the council be granted the power to enforce these rights on behalf of the river. Currently anyone trying to defend the nature of the river has to show sufficient interest in order to bring a case.

3. That the river must not be subordinated to the rights and interests of companies of natural persons, whose property claims must respect the rights of the river.

Now I like Fantasy stories just as much as my favorite genres. Always liked sentient rivers that struck deals in such stories. This is all just fine for fiction.

Now if rivers are sentient and has rights, Old Man River is due some Social Security back payments.

Ol’ man river, that ol’ man river
He don’t say nothin‘, but he must know somethin’
He just keeps rollin‘, he keeps on rollin’ along

Although they might consider all the back taxes rivers must owe since they have the same rights and thus duties as humans.

Nov 102016

I was not a Donald Trump supporter. For the first time since I started voting I not only voted third party, but wrote in a name Michael A. Maturen of the American Solidarity Party. A totally Don Quixote gesture tilting at a ballot box. Still I wasn’t railing over people who were supporting Trump. I have a hard enough time following my own conscience without dictating other people’s consciences.

Still I did feel much relief that Hillary Clinton did not win. That was certainly an upside. My disdain for her and her policies had developed over a much longer time. Still this does not wipe out the reasons I had for opposing now President-Elect Trump.

Still I am giving myself a Trump Reset.

“I didn’t vote for him, but he’s my President, and I hope he does a good job.” — John Wayne

So I am going to attempt to not let what has gone before color everything about a President Trump. To let events unfold and judge them on their merits. To support the good and the true and to call out error (not that my opinions have any consequence). No doubt I will have temptations towards I told you so!. It is not as if people are transformed as they step into being president.

The reality is that like everything we take the hand dealt and make the best of it. I have seen many cries of this being a pro-life win. No doubt Trump’s policies will be more generally pro-life than Hillary’s would be. Not exactly a high bar to exceed, but not something to ignore. I will let events unfold to see if there is actually merit in this. At a minimum the Hyde Amendment will continue. I doubt his priorities regarding pro-life causes will match what pro-lifers want. But like most elections I really want to be wrong.

The biggest thing people have talked about is his possible Supreme Court nominations. I hold this as very important for the most part. But I won’t be fooled again as so many disastrous appointments have come at the hands of Republican presidents. Democrats have the knack to pick justices that if they change at all it is in a more liberal direction. So only time will tell if even a well thought of pick actually stays that way. The Supreme Court like everything in the Federal government has grown more powerful than ever intended. Still I think supporting 40 Days for Life, And Then There Were None, and other direct pro-life groups will bear more fruit than any vote for President because of Supreme Court nominations. We have done this time and time again, yet these groups are helping to convert people and to actually close down clinics. As a both/and kind of guy both avenues are important.

I will be greatly interested in how he directs Religious Freedom issues. It has been quite an awful eight years in this regard on multiple fronts from the government. Trying to transform Religious Freedom into Freedom of Worship as a diminishment. So we will see how quickly he overturns the Obamacare Mandate that is affecting religious institutions right now. This mandate was not required by the law, but was a shameful edict that can be quickly removed.

There were certainly things that candidate Trump found the pulse on regarding his supporters. He tapped into some general problems that do need to be addressed. The economic climate is nowhere near what it should be and the media has maintained a rose-colored glasses filter on it. No doubt the media will find lots of problems in the country after he takes office.

“The Reformer is always right about what’s wrong. However, he’s often wrong about what is right.” G.K. Chesterton

So will he provide actual solutions to what he criticized? Time will tell. I would restate Chesterton’s quip in that also “The Reformer is always right about what’s wrong. Yet rarely right on how to fix it.”

I am certainly not optimistic regarding foreign policy. We have been blundering along for decades, if not more. We have been the literary Bull in the China shop when it comes to the Middle East. Making decisions from our cultural perspective as if you could rubber stamp the same assumptions on other cultures. So much arrogance there and failing to understand the differences and the forces at work along with all the nuances. Give them Democracy and everything is fixed. Still just perhaps Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn has at least some grasp of this and the extent of our blunders.

I will also not be fooled again regarding for example a removal of a government program such as so-called “Obamacare”. Exactly what government programs or parts of government promised to be removed that were. I score zero. Could Obamacare be reduced back to the reforms that were actually needed? I’ll believe it when I see it.

“The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected.” – Illustrated London News (1924) G.K. Chesterton

I see Chesterton quip as pretty much an iron law verified by everything. Still I want to be wrong, very wrong.

So yeah I remain highly skeptical, but I hope not a pig-headed skepticism where evidence to the contrary is rejected out of hand. The Trump Reset I am attempting is to evaluate events as they occur and not to prejudge everything. So I certainly hope him and Mike Pence well and will pray for them as I try to do for any President.

Still I am also reminded how unhealthy the power of the Presidency has become and how much we invest in it emotionally. Instead of acting in our communities we try to put our hope in a person who is going to fix things and get things done. We always want to take the Federal government shortcut to fix everything everywhere.

I found this spelled out very well in Amy Welborn’s post today #NotMyCityCommissioner. Just exceptional writing and not just because I fully agree with it.

Oct 142016

Ross Douthat in a Twitter essay yesterday (21 tweets) said in one tweet. Tweet’s listed here

That’s what there is to see here: Not anti-Catholic “bigotry” (an overused word), but a window into how the Catholic civil war is fought.

This is something that resonated with me as I was already thinking about how anti-Catholic was being overused. Not agreeing with Catholics is not anti-Catholic. No more than not agreeing with atheists or Protestants makes you anti-atheist or anti-Protestant in the pejorative way of reflexive bigotry. They are bigots in the classic sense of “prejudiced person who is intolerant of any opinions differing from his own”. There is pretty much zero-striving towards understanding the arguments of those you disagree with. But there is a lot of that going around. This is not to deny true the existence of true anti-Catholicism.

No they are just fine with Catholics who reject the Magisterium like Biden/Kaine/Kerry. It is Catholics who actually believe and follow the faith they have trouble with on most issues. This is why they shift the terminology of “Religious Freedom” to “Freedom of Worship”.

In C.C. Pecknold’s fine article on The Progressives’ Plot to Change Catholicism he references:

In some ways, the Investiture Controversies of the 12th and 13th centuries never ended. Kings continue to want to bring the Church under their control.

There will always be efforts to bring the Church under control. The Chinese government has their Patriotic churches and John Podesta and others create astroturf groups to project their secular values as the faith of the Church. This is doomed to fail as it historically has always failed. Catholics keep trying to bring the Church under control.

If the Church is merely a human institution as the Church’s critics maintain then it makes perfect sense to try to subvert it to your own message. It is not anti-Catholic to do so, it is just mistaken as to the reality of Christ’s church.

Jul 192016

When it comes to Donald Trumps presidential campaign there are all kinds of theories involving it. One common one is that he was setting this up for Hillary as he previously supported her. Considering his ego, I don’t find that compelling.

What can explain such a badly run campaign on every level? It’s like he is doing everything he can to loose.

Some have conjectured that Trump was never really in it to win, but as a vanity run for self-promotion.

“good publicity is preferable to bad, but from a bottom-line perspective, bad publicity is sometimes better than no publicity at all. Controversy, in short, sells.”
― Donald J. Trump, Trump: The Art of the Deal

I find this theory to fit the facts better, but doesn’t fully account for his ego.

If this explanation has any merit it dawned on me a movie plot that explained everything.

In the plot of Mel Brooks’s The Producers (1967) they hit upon a plot for creating a play sure to fail, while getting seed money from rich old ladies with each promised a substantial take of the profits. So they proceed to write a musical about Hitler while hiring the worst actors possible. Of course it becomes a big hit and their scheme fails in the worst way possible.

So if you wanted to run a failed GOP presidential campaign:

  • Write crazy stream-of-consciousness Twitter feed.
  • Make outrageous remarks during debates and speeches.
  • Praise Planned Parenthood.
  • Appeal to our worst nature and say things that would make Know-Nothings proud.
  • Offer to pay legal bills if fans beat up protesters.
  • Say that the father of a rival candidate helped killed Kennedy.
  • Make policy positions all over the map, that change constantly.
  • No understanding of foreign policy while not doing basic homework.
  • Spending little or no money for political advertisements.
  • This list can go on and on.

Guaranteed to ensure a failed run, except like in The Producers where “Springtime for Hitler” became a hit – so does The Donald. Writing a play so outrageous and in such bad taste was hilarious in The Producers. Not so funny when a equally deplorable script has become the election season.

You can’t make this stuff up.

What scares me is not that he can’t win against Hillary, but that he could. Pundits have been wrong pretty much about every projection regarding his run.

So those in the GOP who were screaming for a “Big Tent”, well we got one full of clowns. A convention turned into a circus. We have gone from “Character counts” to “Character Assassination Counts”. Great way to defeat the despicable morally corrupt Hillary Clinton, by countering at the same level.

Reality was better when you could discern it from satire.

May 182016

While news always trends towards the depressing, it seems like it is just one damned thing after another this year. A presidential election gone insane, a President issuing PC diktats, people trying to get on the right side of history instead of the right side of truth. There is just so much that is unnerving and the pace of the insanity seems unmatched.

Yet as an optimistic-pessimist I can see the bad and the good. The political craziness dissuades me from any utopian vision of politics. If only such-and-such is elected, if only some party has the majority, all the empty lies that sustain the status quo of government bloat and inefficiency. Put no trust in princes.

So much to grip about, and yet to realize that there is no environment where we can not grow in holiness. So these thoughts have been churning away in me and Fr. Dwight Longenecker crystalized these feelings for me.

Why blame the world for being corrupt and venal when I also am too concerned about money and material possessions? Let me simplify my life and seek detachment. Let me live more by faith, be more generous with my money and be happier. Why blame the world for immorality and lust? God grant me the grace to live chastely, to seek purity of heart and innocence of mind, and let Sodom and Gomorrah go where it will. Why blame the world for being duplicitous, manipulative, power hungry and cruel? Instead let me look to my own life and seek always to be transparent in all my doings, concerned only for others and not myself and to never stoop to being manipulative or cruel.

In other words, I want to live local and love local. Let the politicians do their worst. I have a job to do, a life to lead, a Lord to worship and a people to serve. I do not ask of the courage to stand up to the evil in Washington or the world. I simply ask for the courage to stand against the evil in my own life, in my family, my parish and my community. As a citizen I will be involved and vote where I can for local politicians who share my values and principles. As a priest I will seek to serve those who God has given me as my flock and family.

If we seek perfection in the world, first imitate Jesus and grow in perfection via grace – sheer grace. I find it easy to complain about the corruption of government, but want to find another topic to discuss when it comes to my own corruption and moral laziness.

“These things have I spoken unto you, that in me ye may have peace. In the world ye have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” Jn 16:33

So if such tribulations make me ponder my own cross and my own need for Jesus – then Lord help me pick up that cross.

May 102016


““You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel! (Matthew 23:24)

It has always been the case that people will support somebody who personally violates or goes against one of their deeply held beliefs as long as they support another one. That they will go to great extent to suppress that there is any tension at all in their support.

With ex-President Bill Clinton back in the news cycle it is easy to remember his scandalous personal activity as President and before that. Also easy to remember that it was an extremely rare feminist who called him out on his behavior. This certainly did not happen with national feminist groups. Patricia Ireland, then President of NOW, had much harsher words to say about the impeachment proceedings than about Bill Clinton’s scummy actions. Rape victims must be believed unless they are Juanita Broadwick.

If Bill Clinton had ever wavered on abortion, it would have been a totally different story.

I point this history out not as something unique, but as an obvious example of how the support of the “ONE THING” excuses everything else.

Self-deception is also nothing new and anybody who has done any examination-of-self will find obvious examples in our own lives. I don’t have to search far myself to wonder “What the hell was I thinking” and why was I so willing to suppress the obvious (“Shut up conscience”).

The pro-life community is also often capable of this “ONE THING” thinking. Voting for people not because we think they are actually pro-life, but that they promise they will vote pro-life. We believe the panderer when we want to believe the panderer. Being a Floridian Charlie Crist comes to mind.

We also often get “ONE THING” thinking where Supreme Court vacancies become among reason to suck it up and vote for the awful candidate. Not that this aspect isn’t a valid consideration. Voting for the greater good when there are two bad candidates and it is possible to discern this, is perfectly valid. But let us not minimize for a second the evil there is. Maintain your caveats and don’t gloss over them. Advance the greater good by doing good yourself and work to not ever explain away or trivialize evil.

In the spiritual life it is important to do a daily examination of conscience to be able to grow in holiness. Our political lives should certainly be a part of this examination especially as it is one area especially prone to Self-deception. At least I find this true for myself.

This election cycle I have found this more so. There are so many people who will excuse anything for the “ONE THING”. Trump supporters see him achieving for them the “ONE THING” whatever that might be. No facts of his past actions or his constantly changing opinions will put a dent into their support. Trump support is a projection of what they think he will successfully achieve. It just isn’t falsifiable since it was never based on evidence – really despite all evidence to the contrary.

Although I could have written the last paragraph using Hillary’s name instead of Trump and it would have been just a true. They share much in common. Really this election is like an old episode of Mission Impossible. At the end Hillary rips off her mask and it’s Trump, and Trump rips off his mask and he’s Hillary. The major difference is that Hillary in public has more self-control. Hillary is much more coldly calculating.

So this election I will be going full Cervantes and tilting at the voting booth with a write in. I think I dislike Trump all the more since I have to take arguments seriously that Hillary would do more for the common good than Trump. In conscience I can not vote for either of them – ever.

I deeply relate with Mrs Darwin.

… But thanks to Trump virtually clinching the nomination by winning Indiana, I’m freed from the tyranny of the party. I don’t have to identify as a Republican anymore. When someone asks me if I’m a Democrat or a Republican, I can say neither! And for the first time, I can vote for someone I like for president. Who gets my write-in vote? Which person do I actually think would be best suited to run the country? It’s almost overwhelming.

Free, free, I’m free at last.

Picture licensed under Creative Commons Zero (CC0) license.

Jan 182016

Trump is going to make God great again! Take that Christopher Hitchens..

I am sure most people would balk at Donald Trumps “great” relationship in God, but in the service of charity I will try to explore the topic.

So how exactly did Donald Trump develop his great relationship with God? Well few know this but he meets regularly with Joel Olsteen for spiritual direction. Trump maintains both his health and his wealth so this is obvious Olsteenian proof of Trumps great relationship with God.

Trump respects the sanctity of marriage so much he employed this great institution three times. He possibly could respect it even more in the future. In fact while married to Ivana he started a romance with the women who was to become his “second” wife among the pews of a Manhattan church. This also shows that Trump does not find church boring and seeks to reach out. Trump is really a model Christian as he has “married” three models.

Some have doubts about Trump’s humility, but he lists the Bible in front of his own book “The Art of The Deal,” as his favorite book. In his amazing humility today he said “the Bible blows it away”. When first asked about his favorite verse and why he replied.

“I wouldn’t want to get into it because to me that’s very personal. You know when I talk about the Bible it’s very personal.I don’t want to get into it.”

This shows that Trump has a personal relationship with this favorite scripture verse. Although a month later he did manage to come up with a vague reference regarding envy in Proverbs and his aids eventually managed to find one that fits. So The Donald is willing in humility to give us his personal favorite scripture verse despite how personal it was to him.

Proverbs 24:1-2: “Be not thou envious against evil men, neither desire to be with them. For their heart studieth destruction, and their lips talk of mischief.”

Now at first glance this might seem quite an odd choice as a personal favorite. This just proves that Donald Trump has studied the scriptures much more than we have and us willing to go obscure instead of pandering with perhaps John 3:15. In fact today he was at ease referring to “Two Corinthians” instead of “Second Corinthians” showing his fresh look at scriptural references.

Trump is also not afraid to show that he is a renaissance man and talk about art, movies, and scripture comparisons. Here is compares the bible to the Mona Lisa and a movie.

“it doesn’t look as great at the beginning and by the time they see it many, may times they can’t take their eyes off it” — and to watching a “great, incredible movie.”

Another area where it seems Trumps actions are at odds with his great relationship with God is that the Trump Taj Mahal could make history early next year by opening the first strip club inside an Atlantic City casino. He hopes that it would “take off” showing his adeptness with both political language and strip clubs. I’ve heard rumor though that he plans to tithe ten percent of the stripper’s tips to charity. Yeah it will all be mostly dollar bills, but so are the collections in many churches.

Another proof is Trump’s conversion to the pro-life cause. This is an amazing story regarding how he went from being fervently pro-abortion to pro-life. Now he has never mentioned what changed his mind, but it must be a great story and as good as Mitt Romney’s or Charlie Crist’s – oh wait scratch Charlie Crist. I find it amazing how running for President as Republican causes such deep conversions and reflection on previous culture of death views. On same-sex marriage he said “The Supreme Court ruled on it” and previously he had attended a same-sex marriage. This bodes really well for appointments to the Supreme Court just as long as you are not a social conservative in any way. Still he has no definitive comment on “same-sex marriage” proving once again he is so humble as to not give an opinion on an issue of the day.

Trump is also a great ecumenist and is willing to reach out and attack the faith of other Presidential Candidates such as Ben Carson and Ted Cruz “not too many evangelicals come out of Cuba.” No doubt as a Presbyterian he sees the losers competing against him as predestined to loose. Not to mention inter-faith dialogue – or as The Donald calls it “in your face” dialogue like with Muslims. Well actually he has never called it by that term, but I am sure he would approve.

Today Trump said “We’re going to protect Christianity”. Hopefully it is from Donald Trump. Now who would be a good intercessor to pray for Donald Trump? I mean besides St. Jerome.

References and quips:

Oct 152014

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – The leader of Rhode Island’s Catholics suggests voters could write in Mother Teresa or sit out the Nov. 4 election because of a field of candidates he says isn’t “terribly promising” on the abortion issue.

Bishop Thomas Tobin says in The Rhode Island Catholic diocesan newspaper that writing in Mother Teresa in protest would send a signal that some voters want an anti-abortion candidate.

Tobin recently took aim at Democratic gubernatorial nominee Gina Raimondo (ray-MAHN’-doh), who is Catholic, after she won the endorsement of Planned Parenthood and spoke in favor of reproductive rights. Republican nominee Allan Fung also supports abortion rights.

Tobin says it’s a “pathetic spectacle” when Catholic candidates “choose” Planned Parenthood over the church.

He says voters don’t necessarily need to vote for every office or at all. Source

In the runup to the 2008 election I proposed voting for two Doctors of the Church instead in this parody video.

Sep 112014


They’re back, yes it is the Nuns on the Bus part 3 returning like a sequel to a bad horror movie.

This time it’s the Catholic sisters versus the Koch brothers.

That’s one way to look at the upcoming “Nuns on the Bus” tour, which hits the road next week (Sept. 17) for the third time in three years, a month long trip though 10 key U.S. Senate battleground states to campaign against the influence of outside money on politics.

The issue has come to be identified with the wealthy industrialist brothers Charles and David Koch, whose huge contributions to conservative political causes have raised concerns about the role of “dark money” on elections.

The spigot for such undisclosed donations, which can be made by unions as well as corporations, was opened by the controversial 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision. That was followed by another 5–4 ruling in April of this year, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission.

“It’s all about ‘we the people’ standing up against big money,” said Sister Simone Campbell, who heads Network, a Catholic social justice lobby on Capitol Hill that is organizing more than 75 events in 36 cities along the 5,252-mile route.

There is at least this at the end of the column:

(Editor’s note: David Gibson assisted Sister Simone Campbell in writing her memoir, “A Nun on the Bus: How All of Us Can Create Hope, Change, and Community,” which was published earlier this year.)

But hey you know David Gibson is totally subjective. Oh and just by the way he just kind of forgot to mention that the Nuns on a Bus are partially funded by the George Soros “Faith in Public Life”. Yes they are complaining against evil political money if it is donated by conservatives. Although since the Koch brothers support same-sex marriage and abortion you would think Sister Simone would see them more as allies. Still she probably follows the Harry Reid Koch fanaticism.

Still it comes down to the nuns removing the speck from their brothers eye while having their vision obscured by a plank. This is known as the Plank constant, the proportional constant between what you rail against and your own complicity measured in hypocrimeters. So a course a nun partially funded with Soros money who spoke at the 2012 Democratic convention and basically went on a bus tour for them is the perfect representative to speak about wealthy people and their political causes.

In a related story here is one that has not gotten the attention it deserved. Via A Shepherd’s Voice

This week’s _Catholic San Francisco_, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of San Francisco has an important and comprehensive expose of the motivations and funding of ‘Catholic’ homosexualist groups seeking to undermine the Church.

The actual article starts with:

Gay rights money funds archbishop’s critics

Faithful America part of national progressive advocacy network

September 10th, 2014

By Valerie Schmalz

“Many Catholics in the San Francisco Bay Area were surprised by the strong negative reaction to Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone’s decision to give a talk about traditional marriage at a June 19 Washington, D.C., rally organized to support marriage.

_A national online petition from Faithful America and a nationally publicized June 10 letter from 78 politicians and others urged the archbishop to withdraw from the March for Marriage in Washington, D.C. The letter and petition citing “hate” speech by the National Organization for Marriage and the labeling participant Family Research Council as a “hate group” created a media storm and disturbed many local Catholics and pastors.

Most are used to attacks on the archbishop for his strong advocacy of the Catholic Church’s teaching on marriage and family, but the reaction seemed disproportionate to the event – which was a talk at a rally by a Catholic Church leader who has given many talks in support of marriage and family across the country and in the media.

The cause for surprise among Catholics may be they assumed the powerful reaction was spontaneous. Now there is abundant evidence the reaction was both well planned and financed by Faithful America, an organization that is supported directly and indirectly by politically powerful and wealthy men and by grant-making foundations who have devoted millions of dollars to promoting acceptance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) behavior....”

It goes on to detail funding via a flow chart and promises two more parts in this series with the next coming out on September 12th. It is rather rare to see something like this come out in a Diocesan newspaper and it is certainly welcome.

Jan 222014

One of the interesting things about President “selfie” is how all that self-absorption is devoid entirely of self-awareness. Not an unusual connection. He isn’t really a hypocrite when he released a proclamation regarding Religious Freedom Day on 15 Jan, 2014 while eighty plus groups are suing his administration for violating their religious freedom. He has so little self-awareness that he can’t detect such discrepancies and his bubble world does not allow for facts to the contrary.

More evidence of this:

Today, as we reflect on the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, we recommit ourselves to the decision’s guiding principle: that every woman should be able to make her own choices about her body and her health. We reaffirm our steadfast commitment to protecting a woman’s access to safe, affordable health care and her constitutional right to privacy, including the right to reproductive freedom. And we resolve to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, support maternal and child health, and continue to build safe and healthy communities for all our children. Because this is a country where everyone deserves the same freedom and opportunities to fulfill their dreams.

He can use the word “everyone” and the phrase “all our children” with no bothersome nudges of conscience since he has relegated persons in the womb to a status that even Dred Scott did not attempt.

What he is telling persons in the womb is that “If you like your life, you can keep it – period.” That being able to have “the same freedom and opportunities to fulfill their dreams” includes being sliced and diced in the womb.

Hat tip: Creative Minority Report