Maine Writer

Its about people and issues I care about.

My Photo

I enjoy writing!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Speaker of the House candidate evidently can't "speak"

Are Republicans about to elect a Speaker of the House who can't speak?

Republicans want to create a brahaha about Hillary Clinton, but they're putting their House "speaker" focus on the wrong person to talk about their obsessive muckraking of the issues. If Republicans believe they can undo Hllary Clinton's presidential candidacy, they'll soon hire the wrong person to do the speaking. "We put together a special Benghazi committee,....she's 'untrustable'",says the potential speaker, a man who obviusly can't speak.  (McCarthy calls Hungary "Hungria". Clearly, he never took "geo-grahia", .in school.)

Congressman Kevin McCarthy wants to be House Speaker, but his "speaking" is un-understandable

In fact, McCarthy quickly revealed the farce of the Benghazi committee.  It was created to undermine Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's presidential candidacy. Republicans don't care about facts, unless the information perpetrates their muckraking.  

McCarthy, the man who wants to be the "Speaker" of the House, spoke the truth today to Fox News. He said the Benghazi committee was created to undermine Secretary Clinton and to create her as a person who is "untrustable"?  I'd say Congressman McCarthy is "un-understandable". (Wow! How will Fox News defend this McCarthy truth? They're media is so into perpetrating lies, they just "can't handle the truth").

In fact, there's no more information to learn about the sadly deadly attack in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, unless the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) chooses to reveal something new. Inserting my own side bar here, why has no one ever told us, during all these useless investigations, about why it was that Ambassador Stevens left the Embassy in Libya to travel to Benghazi, in the first place? No one has ever answered that question. Ambassador Stevens left the US Embassy for a reason. He didn't go out on a daily exercise regimen. Yet, no one has explained what he was doing in Benghazi.

Additionally, there are no email messages in Hillary Clinton's home server with damaging information. She didn't give any information to anyone who was unauthorized to receive her email.  (General David Petreaus, on the other hand, gave intelligence information to his mistress, Paula Broadwell. He didn't even have a court martial.)

Republicans are doing a dangerous dance by continuing to play political games with our government  They invent issues, like trying to shut down the government, because they don't want to fund Planned Parenthood?  Oh paaaaleeze! Republicans have been shutting down the government at every chance they get and it's always backfired on them. Nevertheless, they've created turmoil, regardless of how their useless energies have damaged our international credibility or hurt our nation's internal interests. People depend on government, but Republicans just don't care.

Governor Bobby Jindal, Republican of Louisiana, gave the label of "stupid party" to his political colleagues. Well, guess what? As the Republican President, Ronald Reagan said, "there you go again...".  Indeed, Republicans handed Hillary Clinton’s embattled campaign a gift after months of damage over the former Secretary of State’s use of a private email server.

Kevin McCarthy, the House majority leader and a candidate to replace John Boehner as Speaker of the House, credited the House Benghazi Committee with lowering Clinton’s poll numbers, a gaffe that undermines Republicans’ claim that the committee is a nonpartisan investigation. (Anybody who believes that certainly deserves to be card carrying members of the "stupid party".)

“Everybody though Hillary Clinton was unbeatable, right?” McCarthy said in an interview with Fox News. “But we put together a Benghazi special committee, a select committee. What are her numbers today? Her numbers are dropping. Why? Because she’s untrustable. But no one would have known any of that had happened, had we not fought.”

Nevertheless, regardless of how Congressman McCarthy wants to create un-understandable narrative about Hillary Clinton, the job he is seeking as Speaker of the House requires for him to "speak".  Moreover, the Speaker of the House must also lead.

If Congressman McCarthy can't speak, then he will become the laughing stock "Saturday Night Live" caricature of all Republicans.  

Obviously, Congressman McCarthy is unqualified to be Speaker of the House.  He can't even correctly pronounce the name of foreign countries, like "Hungria". 

McCarthy's un-understandable speaking abilities, will never be able to lead our US House of Representatives.

House Republicans must be on notice tonight. They need to find another candidate to be Speaker of the House.  

In fact, the Republcians must find a person who can pass a 4th grade geography test, and put an end to the witch hunts called "Benghazi" and the non news "email news", plus keep the government open.  

I nominate retiring Ohio Congressman John Boehner for the job. 

Labels: , , , ,

Vladimir Putin evaluates risks benefits of Syrian intervention

Interesting development with Russia's leader (czar) Vladimir Putin now directing air strkes to intervene in war town Syria.

Official: Russia conducts first airstrike in Syria - reports CNN

Russia has conducted its first airstrike in Syria, near the city of Homs, a senior U.S. official told CNN Wednesday . U.S. missions are continuing as normal, reports CNN. The upper house of the Russian parliament has given President Vladimir Putin approval to use the Russian air force in Syria, according to state media.

Russia's President and self appointed Czar Vladimir Putin

In my uninformed position, Russia's president has decided the deteriorating Syrian situation has put the evil President Assad's leadership at risk. Obviously, Putin doesn't want to be put on trial by an international court for the support of wars crimes against humanity, after Syria's President is hanged for murdering his own people and driving half of the nation's population into refugee camps.

Image result for Assad
Syria's evil President Assad - half of his nation's population is now living in refugee camps

If the outcome of Russia's interventions are to reduce the evil ISIS (self declared Islamic State) growth and, in so doing, eliminate Assad, then his strategy will put him back on the international stage as a "hero come lately". In fact, it's rather brilliant international politics for Putin to finally intervene on behalf of blocking any more carnage in the Middle East related to ISIS and the Syrian refugee humanitarian disaster.

Isn't it ironic to see President Putin doing evil to his equally "evil" colleagues. "Evil is as evil does" or "it takes one to know one" come to mind when trying to explain how it is President Putin has finally acted like the "clean up hitter" in a baseball game. In fact, Putin may well hit a proverbial grand slam.  He'll allow air strikes into Syria to take out ISIS training in Assad's nation.  In my opinion, Putin will eventually remove President Assad for incompetent leadership and, probably, even broker a Middle East peace accord. Then, if he can only fix his Russian economy, he could finally bring Russia into the 21st century as a real, not in name only, world leader. Nevertheless, as a trained KGB operative, we will rue the day when Putin takes the spotlight on the world's center stage.

Labels: , ,

Monday, September 28, 2015

In God We Trust and the Congressional Prayer Caucus

In our nation, our laws are rooted in the Ten Commandments, as written in the Old Testament. A marble relief of Moses adorns a portico into the House Chamber. President Eisenhower included the words "under God" in our Pledge of Allegience to the American Flag. "In God We Trust" is embedded in our currency.  US Presidents put their hands on a Bible when they're sworn in by the Chief Justice of the Surpeme Court. Therefore, it makes perfectly good sense for the Congress to host a prayer caucus.

Moreover, President George Washington attended Episcopal church services at St. Paul's Trinity Chapel in New York City. This lovely historic landmark is a National Historic Site. It's located at the end of Wall Street. It's especially sacred since it survived the collapse of the World Trade Center, on September 11, 2001.

St. Paul's Church Trinity Chapel in New York City
President George Washington attended services here.

In fact, it makes sense for Congress to host a prayer caucus. When the President of the United States ends nearly every speech with the words, "God Bless America", those words must be supported by actions.  Even Pope Francis invoked this blessing during his September 2015 visit to the US.  

Just because taxpayers fund the cost of the Prayer Caucus is no excuse to criticize the intention. Our Bill of Rights guarantees freedom of religion for everyone. This freedom certainly includes the members of the US Congress. 

Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., established the caucus in 2005 and it now includes about 90 members of the House, nearly all Republicans, one U.S. senator and one paid staff member.

In addition to putting aside their political differences and uniting in prayer for our nation, members of the Congressional Prayer Caucus work together engaging the legislative process to protect free exercise for Americans of every faith or no faith, reports USA Today. Some recent issues Prayer Caucus Members engaged in include reinforcing religious freedom for all faiths in the military, supporting and protecting the autonomy of churches and faith based organizations, and working to ensure every American is free to live according to their beliefs, without fear of punishment by the government.

An outside non-profit organization supports the Prayer Caucus efforts, just like many other caucuses. The Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation operates out of a Chesapeake, Va., building owned by Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., founder of the caucus.

Thank God the Congress has a prayer caucus. 

As a nation, we need a moral compass and a spiritual political soul. It's invaluable and well worth paying for.

Labels: , , , ,

Sunday, September 27, 2015

What Putin knows about evil ISIS and how will he help to destroy them?

Although the French government announced the destruction of an evil ISIS training camp in Syria, the intelligence for this successful air attack had to have been received from highly reliable sources. I suggest this air strike was given a path to success because Russia was fully complicit in allowing it to happen. In other words, Russia's President Putin, obviously, allowed evil ISIS to conduct training in Syria, but then, he decided to destroy it.  

France did the job.

In fact, Putin admitted in an excellent 60 Minutes interview, with Charlie Rose, that his government knows everything about what's going on in the Ukraine because of his network of informants. Well, in my opinion, Putin's "network" of informants extends beyond the Ukraine. It's evident Russia knows all about what's going on in Syria, as well as in the Ukraine and other countries, too.  

It's difficult to believe this successful ISIS destruction would've happened without Russia's knowledge and, supposedly, support.

PARIS — Six French jet fighters targeted and destroyed an Islamic State training camp in eastern Syria, President Francois Hollande said Sunday, making good on a promise to go after the group that the president has said is planning attacks against several countries, including France.

The airstrikes were the first in Syria by France as it expands its mission against IS.

“The camp was totally destroyed,” Hollande said Sunday after arriving at the United Nations, before the start of a major development summit and the U.N. General Assembly bringing together world leaders.

“We’re sure there were no casualties” among civilians, he added.

The French president’s office announced the strikes, without details, in a statement hours earlier.

“Our nation will strike each time our national security is at stake,” the statement said.

Hollande told reporters the strikes on the training camp, and others to come, were aimed at “protecting our territory, cutting short terrorist actions, acting in legitimate defense.”

Hollande said more strikes “could take place in the coming weeks if necessary.” The targets were identified in earlier French reconnaissance flights and with information provided by the U.S.-led coalition.

French President Francois Hollande ordered an airstrike against Islamic State militants Sunday morning as national defense. (What nation or team of informants led to this specific strike?)

France has carried out 215 airstrikes against ISIS extremists in Iraq as part of the U.S.-led coalition since last year, the Defense Ministry said earlier this month. 

But it previously held back on engaging in Syria, citing concern over playing into Assad’s hand and the need for such action to be covered by international law. (Putin has no respect for international law.)

Officials now evoke “legitimate defense” as spelled out in the U.N. Charter to support strikes in Syria.

France has already been attacked by extremists claiming ties to ISIS. Hollande, who has ruled out sending ground troops into Syria, has cited “proof” of plans for attacks on France and the growing danger to Syrian civilians, with a large chunk of the population fleeing in a massive exodus.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls said France was going after ISIS “sanctuaries where those who want to hit France are trained.”

The goal of the strikes is to “slow, break, stop if possible the penetration of Daesh,” Gen. Vincent Desportes said on the iTele TV station, using the Arabic acronym for IS.

During the Charlie Rose interview, Vladimir Putin used charm to try to disarm the questions he didn't particularly like, but it didn't work. Although Putin spoke knowledgeably during the interview, he also didn't tell us anything we don't already know. 

To end, Putin knows a lot about what's going on in Syria with President Assad and evil ISIS. When Putin decides it's time for Assad to go, the evil Syrian dictator will be gone. Assad, who's disastrous leadership has been responsible for the evacuation of half of his nation's population, will eventually wind up with a mysterious illness, or some other unforeseen mishap.

When Putin appeared on 60 Minutes, he was showing the world that he is in charge of what's going on in Syria. If America wants ISIS destroyed, then Putin is likely the evil dictator to do the job by calling on his network of intelligence.  

Quite likely, it's not coincidental to have Putin appear on 60 Minutes, the day before his scheduled speech at the United Nations in New York City, on Monday September 28, while France announced the destruction of an ISIS training camp in Syria.  

Labels: , , , , ,

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Pope Francis is the reflection of divinity on earth - breaks down institutional barriers to faith

Pope Francis is motivated by people in need and, in so doing he has touched all of us by his extraordinary humanitarian actions. He is building bridges to the people.

God Bless Pope Francis

Indeed, the brilliant charisma pouring forth from Pope Francis during his US visit has consumed the media's attention. 

His message of love and inclusiveness has overcome even the polarizing American political story about the resignation of the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, John Boehner. 

Pope Francis has attracted people to him like a brilliant magnet because he has sent Americans a message about love and inclusion, regardless of a person's circumstances.  

It's impossible to follow Pope Francis, and witness how millions of people are sharing his charisma, without reflecting on the spiritual deity he represents, as God's ambassador to humankind.

Pope Francis has transcended the rules and regulations dictated by organized religions. Beyond summoning the faithful to worship in concrete churches, where liturgies are prepared, rehearsed and repeated thousands of times, Pope Francis asked us to, also, take our faith into the world.  

There's a Buddhist appeal to how Pope Francis extends his love.

In general, Buddha means “Awakened One,” someone who has awakened from the sleep of ignorance and sees things as they really are. A Buddha is a person who is completely free from all faults and mental obstructions. –Introduction to Buddhism  

There should be a new English word created to describe how Pope Francis has brought God's light into our ordinary human world. He opened the doors of the strict doctrines embedded in Roman Catholicism to allow light to shine on those trying to live faithful lives. In my opinion, Pope Francis has infused a Buddhist awakening into the doctrines of Roman Catholicism.

In spite of a grueling human schedule during his Thursday through Saturday visits to Washington DC, New York City and Philadelphia, Pope Francis has summoned the energy required to reach out to everyone, regardless of their personal status, in the three cities. He said God is visible in beauty. As a matter of fact, I've observed how Pope Francis, himself, becomes more beautiful as he grows in his role as Pontiff.  He's probably the most beautiful when he asks us to please pray for him. Moreover, if we can't pray for him, he requests us to send good wishes and thoughts his way. Yes, he awakens our Buddhist inner selves and summons us to raise our eyes to heaven.

Pope Francis has certainly awakened the American quest for a spiritual renewal. Although Pope Francis prepares to leave. after experiencing an astoundingly successful US visit, his spirit will remain for many years. He blessed our US White House, our President and his family, our nation's Capitol, our political systems, our St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City and our shrine to the tragedy of Ground Zero. He ended his visit with an energetic tribute to the family in Philadelphia, including a Mass at the City of Love's Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul.  His speech about families was a capstone of energy, love, theology and humor.

Although Pope Francis worked within the walls of our institutions during his visits, his magnetism extended beyond the marble, concrete and beautiful stained glass windows of the Cathedrals. 

There's no English word I know today to adequately describe the magnetic appeal of Pope Francis to the millions of Americans who were blessed to be "in the shadow of St. Peter". These throngs of the faithful included people of different religions and political persuasions. They came together, to see Pope Francis, because he is a reflection of divinity on earth.

In my opinion, Pope Francis lives the light of God's love. We must follow the request he asks of us. Let us pray for him, because he has extended a brilliant ray of God's love to us.  

Labels: , , , ,

Friday, September 25, 2015

Massive outpouring of love for Pope Francis is startling

Although Pope Francis said he didn't intend to bring a political message with him to his American visit, there's no doubt about the impact he has had on the salient issues of our day. 

Pope Francis has educated people about our responsibility to protect our home on earth from deterioration and to care for people, regardless of who they are or where they come from.

Pope Francis lays a white rose at Ground Zero in New York City

And.....taaadaaa.....politicans must realize how people listened. They can't help but pay attention to the spiritual renewal Pope Francis is raising in America....among ordinary people who "get" the message of hope, dreams and love.  

Pope addresses 20,000 at Madison Square Garden!

Let's dare cynical politicians to deny the momentum created by Pope Francis, during his extraordinary US visit.  

Americans are thirsty for the message Pope Francis is delivering, but politicians are slow to open their eyes and ears. 

Does this sound familiar..?  Seems like there were politicians in the time Jesus lived on earth who had the same response to the messages in the Gospel.  People "got it" at the time when Jesus spoke, but politicians did not.  

Yet, 2000 years later, the politicians are all dead and the message Jesus preached lives on.

As former Governor Jennifer Granholm of Michigan, a Democrat and Roman Catholic, said, "I hope the Pope's messages (of inclusiveness and helping the poor) transcends politics."

Pope Francis brought a message of hope and love to America. In response, the population came to see him, by the untold tens of thousands. They are reciprocating his love in brilliant numbers.  

It's evident that America has flooded Pope Francis with love like they were finally finding a reservoir for pent up spiritual desire.

Surely, all politicians have been jolted by the outpouring of the American response to Pope Francis and our embrace of his enlightened messages, filled with hope and love. It really doesn't matter if politicians are left, right or center. Pope Francis has startled everyone with his spiritual charisma.

Obviously, many politicians are mystified, as is the cynical press, about how Pope Francis has galvanized so many thousands of people at a time when Americans are entrenched in zealous and destructive partisanship. It's probably safe to say, there are some right wing zealots who are waiting for the Pope to leave so they can resume negative politics and regressive public policies, as ususal.  These wrong minded right wing T-party zealots don't care about the Pope's message. These "stupid party" elected Republican officials want to take over government so they can destroy our right to petition government in support of the common good.

(Just a point of information, I'm wondering how Pope Francis would be received in Russia? I dare the Czar Despot Dictator Vladimir Putin to invite Pope Francis to visit Moscow. Not funny, but worth wondering about.)

God Bless Pope Francis. He asked all of us to pray for him. 

It's a humbling experience to pray for a Pope. Yet, if prayers fuel the Pope's passion to help the poor, underprivileged and marginalized, then we must respond to his request. 

Indeed, Americans apparently need Pope Francis and his hopeful messages, as much as the Pontiff appears to desire our prayers, on his behalf. 

Labels: ,

Pope Francis invoked Dorothy Day friend to Pierre Maurin

Pope Francis invoked Dorothy Day friend to Pierre Maurin

It was an honor for my family to be invited to participate with thousands who attended the Pope's appearance in Washington DC. 

Here is a transcript of the speech Pope Francis gave:

I am most grateful for your invitation to address this Joint Session of Congress in “the land of the free and the home of the brave”. I would like to think that the reason for this is that I too am a son of this great continent, from which we have all received so much and toward which we share a common responsibility.

Each son or daughter of a given country has a mission, a personal and social responsibility. Your own responsibility as members of Congress is to enable this country, by your legislative activity, to grow as a nation. You are the face of its people, their representatives. You are called to defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good, for this is the chief aim of all politics. A political society endures when it seeks, as a vocation, to satisfy common needs by stimulating the growth of all its members, especially those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk. Legislative activity is always based on care for the people. To this you have been invited, called and convened by those who elected you.

Yours is a work which makes me reflect in two ways on the figure of Moses. On the one hand, the patriarch and lawgiver of the people of Israel symbolizes the need of peoples to keep alive their sense of unity by means of just legislation. On the other, the figure of Moses leads us directly to God and thus to the transcendent dignity of the human being. Moses provides us with a good synthesis of your work: you are asked to protect, by means of the law, the image and likeness fashioned by God on every human face.

Today I would like not only to address you, but through you the entire people of the United States. Here, together with their representatives, I would like to take this opportunity to dialogue with the many thousands of men and women who strive each day to do an honest day’s work, to bring home their daily bread, to save money and – one step at a time – to build a better life for their families. These are men and women who are not concerned simply with paying their taxes, but in their own quiet way sustain the life of society. They generate solidarity by their actions, and they create organizations which offer a helping hand to those most in need.

I would also like to enter into dialogue with the many elderly persons who are a storehouse of wisdom forged by experience, and who seek in many ways, especially through volunteer work, to share their stories and their insights. I know that many of them are retired, but still active; they keep working to build up this land. I also want to dialogue with all those young people who are working to realize their great and noble aspirations, who are not led astray by facile proposals, and who face difficult situations, often as a result of immaturity on the part of many adults. I wish to dialogue with all of you, and I would like to do so through the historical memory of your people.

My visit takes place at a time when men and women of good will are marking the anniversaries of several great Americans. The complexities of history and the reality of human weakness notwithstanding, these men and women, for all their many differences and limitations, were able by hard work and self- sacrifice – some at the cost of their lives – to build a better future. They shaped fundamental values which will endure forever in the spirit of the American people. A people with this spirit can live through many crises, tensions and conflicts, while always finding the resources to move forward, and to do so with dignity. These men and women offer us a way of seeing and interpreting reality. In honoring their memory, we are inspired, even amid conflicts, and in the here and now of each day, to draw upon our deepest cultural reserves.

I would like to mention four of these Americans: Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton.

This year marks the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, the guardian of liberty, who labored tirelessly that “this nation, under God, [might] have a new birth of freedom”. Building a future of freedom requires love of the common good and cooperation in a spirit of subsidiarity and solidarity.

All of us are quite aware of, and deeply worried by, the disturbing social and political situation of the world today. Our world is increasingly a place of violent conflict, hatred and brutal atrocities, committed even in the name of God and of religion. We know that no religion is immune from forms of individual delusion or ideological extremism. This means that we must be especially attentive to every type of fundamentalism, whether religious or of any other kind. A delicate balance is required to combat violence perpetrated in the name of a religion, an ideology or an economic system, while also safeguarding religious freedom, intellectual freedom and individual freedoms. But there is another temptation which we must especially guard against: the simplistic reductionism which sees only good or evil; or, if you will, the righteous and sinners. The contemporary world, with its open wounds which affect so many of our brothers and sisters, demands that we confront every form of polarization which would divide it into these two camps. We know that in the attempt to be freed of the enemy without, we can be tempted to feed the enemy within. To imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take their place. That is something which you, as a people, reject.

Our response must instead be one of hope and healing, of peace and justice. We are asked to summon the courage and the intelligence to resolve today’s many geopolitical and economic crises. Even in the developed world, the effects of unjust structures and actions are all too apparent. Our efforts must aim at restoring hope, righting wrongs, maintaining commitments, and thus promoting the well-being of individuals and of peoples. We must move forward together, as one, in a renewed spirit of fraternity and solidarity, cooperating generously for the common good.

The challenges facing us today call for a renewal of that spirit of cooperation, which has accomplished so much good throughout the history of the United States. The complexity, the gravity and the urgency of these challenges demand that we pool our resources and talents, and resolve to support one another, with respect for our differences and our convictions of conscience.

In this land, the various religious denominations have greatly contributed to building and strengthening society. It is important that today, as in the past, the voice of faith continue to be heard, for it is a voice of fraternity and love, which tries to bring out the best in each person and in each society. Such cooperation is a powerful resource in the battle to eliminate new global forms of slavery, born of grave injustices which can be overcome only through new policies and new forms of social consensus.

Politics is, instead, an expression of our compelling need to live as one, in order to build as one the greatest common good: that of a community which sacrifices particular interests in order to share, in justice and peace, its goods, its interests, its social life. I do not underestimate the difficulty that this involves, but I encourage you in this effort.Here too I think of the march which Martin Luther King led from Selma to Montgomery fifty years ago as part of the campaign to fulfill his “dream” of full civil and political rights for African Americans. That dream continues to inspire us all. I am happy that America continues to be, for many, a land of “dreams”. Dreams which lead to action, to participation, to commitment. Dreams which awaken what is deepest and truest in the life of a people.

In recent centuries, millions of people came to this land to pursue their dream of building a future in freedom. We, the people of this continent, are not fearful of foreigners, because most of us were once foreigners. I say this to you as the son of immigrants, knowing that so many of you are also descended from immigrants. Tragically, the rights of those who were here long before us were not always respected. For those peoples and their nations, from the heart of American democracy, I wish to reaffirm my highest esteem and appreciation. Those first contacts were often turbulent and violent, but it is difficult to judge the past by the criteria of the present. Nonetheless, when the stranger in our midst appeals to us, we must not repeat the sins and the errors of the past. We must resolve now to live as nobly and as justly as possible, as we educate new generations not to turn their back on our “neighbors” and everything around us. Building a nation calls us to recognize that we must constantly relate to others, rejecting a mindset of hostility in order to adopt one of reciprocal subsidiarity, in a constant effort to do our best. I am confident that we can do this.

Our world is facing a refugee crisis of a magnitude not seen since the Second World War. This presents us with great challenges and many hard decisions. On this continent, too, thousands of persons are led to travel north in search of a better life for themselves and for their loved ones, in search of greater opportunities. Is this not what we want for our own children? We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation. To respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal. We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome. Let us remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (Mt 7:12).

This Rule points us in a clear direction. Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves. Let us help others to grow, as we would like to be helped ourselves. In a word, if we want security, let us give security; if we want life, let us give life; if we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities. The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us. The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.

This conviction has led me, from the beginning of my ministry, to advocate at different levels for the global abolition of the death penalty. I am convinced that this way is the best, since every life is sacred, every human person is endowed with an inalienable dignity, and society can only benefit from the rehabilitation of those convicted of crimes. Recently my brother bishops here in the United States renewed their call for the abolition of the death penalty. Not only do I support them, but I also offer encouragement to all those who are convinced that a just and necessary punishment must never exclude the dimension of hope and the goal of rehabilitation.

In these times when social concerns are so important, I cannot fail to mention the Servant of God Dorothy Day, who founded the Catholic Worker Movement. Her social activism, her passion for justice and for the cause of the oppressed, were inspired by the Gospel, her faith, and the example of the saints.

How much progress has been made in this area in so many parts of the world! How much has been done in these first years of the third millennium to raise people out of extreme poverty! I know that you share my conviction that much more still needs to be done, and that in times of crisis and economic hardship a spirit of global solidarity must not be lost. At the same time I would encourage you to keep in mind all those people around us who are trapped in a cycle of poverty. They too need to be given hope. The fight against poverty and hunger must be fought constantly and on many fronts, especially in its causes. I know that many Americans today, as in the past, are working to deal with this problem.

It goes without saying that part of this great effort is the creation and distribution of wealth. The right use of natural resources, the proper application of technology and the harnessing of the spirit of enterprise are essential elements of an economy which seeks to be modern, inclusive and sustainable. “Business is a noble vocation, directed to producing wealth and improving the world. It can be a fruitful source of prosperity for the area in which it operates, especially if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good” (Laudato Si’, 129). This common good also includes the earth, a central theme of the encyclical which I recently wrote in order to “enter into dialogue with all people about our common home” (ibid., 3). “We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing, and its human roots, concern and affect us all” (ibid., 14).

In Laudato Si’, I call for a courageous and responsible effort to “redirect our steps” (ibid., 61), and to avert the most serious effects of the environmental deterioration caused by human activity. I am convinced that we can make a difference and I have no doubt that the United States – and this Congress – have an important role to play. Now is the time for courageous actions and strategies, aimed at implementing a “culture of care” (ibid., 231) and “an integrated approach to combating poverty, restoring dignity to the excluded, and at the same time protecting nature” (ibid., 139). “We have the freedom needed to limit and direct technology” (ibid., 112); “to devise intelligent ways of… developing and limiting our power” (ibid., 78); and to put technology “at the service of another type of progress, one which is healthier, more human, more social, more integral” (ibid., 112). In this regard, I am confident that America’s outstanding academic and research institutions can make a vital contribution in the years ahead.

A century ago, at the beginning of the Great War, which Pope Benedict XV termed a “pointless slaughter”, another notable American was born: the Cistercian monk Thomas Merton. He remains a source of spiritual inspiration and a guide for many people. In his autobiography he wrote: “I came into the world. Free by nature, in the image of God, I was nevertheless the prisoner of my own violence and my own selfishness, in the image of the world into which I was born. That world was the picture of Hell, full of men like myself, loving God, and yet hating him; born to love him, living instead in fear of hopeless self-contradictory hungers”. Merton was above all a man of prayer, a thinker who challenged the certitudes of his time and opened new horizons for souls and for the Church. He was also a man of dialogue, a promoter of peace between peoples and religions.

From this perspective of dialogue, I would like to recognize the efforts made in recent months to help overcome historic differences linked to painful episodes of the past. It is my duty to build bridges and to help all men and women, in any way possible, to do the same. When countries which have been at odds resume the path of dialogue – a dialogue which may have been interrupted for the most legitimate of reasons – new opportunities open up for all. This has required, and requires, courage and daring, which is not the same as irresponsibility. A good political leader is one who, with the interests of all in mind, seizes the moment in a spirit of openness and pragmatism. A good political leader always opts to initiate processes rather than possessing spaces (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 222-223).

Being at the service of dialogue and peace also means being truly determined to minimize and, in the long term, to end the many armed conflicts throughout our world. Here we have to ask ourselves: Why are deadly weapons being sold to those who plan to inflict untold suffering on individuals and society? Sadly, the answer, as we all know, is simply for money: money that is drenched in blood, often innocent blood. In the face of this shameful and culpable silence, it is our duty to confront the problem and to stop the arms trade.

Three sons and a daughter of this land, four individuals and four dreams: Lincoln, liberty; Martin Luther King, liberty in plurality and non-exclusion; Dorothy Day, social justice and the rights of persons; and Thomas Merton, the capacity for dialogue and openness to God.

Four representatives of the American people.

I will end my visit to your country in Philadelphia, where I will take part in the World Meeting of Families. It is my wish that throughout my visit the family should be a recurrent theme. How essential the family has been to the building of this country! And how worthy it remains of our support and encouragement! Yet I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without. Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family. I can only reiterate the importance and, above all, the richness and the beauty of family life.

In particular, I would like to call attention to those family members who are the most vulnerable, the young. For many of them, a future filled with countless possibilities beckons, yet so many others seem disoriented and aimless, trapped in a hopeless maze of violence, abuse and despair. Their problems are our problems. We cannot avoid them. We need to face them together, to talk about them and to seek effective solutions rather than getting bogged down in discussions. At the risk of oversimplifying, we might say that we live in a culture which pressures young people not to start a family, because they lack possibilities for the future. Yet this same culture presents others with so many options that they too are dissuaded from starting a family.

A nation can be considered great when it defends liberty as Lincoln did, when it fosters a culture which enables people to “dream” of full rights for all their brothers and sisters, as Martin Luther King sought to do; when it strives for justice and the cause of the oppressed, as Dorothy Day did by her tireless work, the fruit of a faith which becomes dialogue and sows peace in the contemplative style of Thomas Merton.

In these remarks I have sought to present some of the richness of your cultural heritage, of the spirit of the American people. It is my desire that this spirit continue to develop and grow, so that as many young people as possible can inherit and dwell in a land which has inspired so many people to dream.

God bless America!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Welcome Pope Francis - benvenuto, bienvenidos

Washington (CNN) Pope Francis immediately dove into the whirlpool of U.S. politics on Wednesday, using his first direct address to the nation to weigh in on deeply divisive issues including climate change, Cuba, and immigration as he was greeted by exuberant crowds packing the streets of Washington.

The pontiff, Pope Francis, lived up to his reputation for blunt talk at a welcoming ceremony at the White House, introducing himself as the son of the kind of "immigrant family" on which America was built -- a clear reference to the controversy swirling around millions of undocumented people in the country.

Speaking in English, the Argentine-born Francis also said he was ready to listen to the "hopes and dreams of the American people" and to offer guidance to those charged with shaping the nation's political future "in fidelity to its founding principles."

And in comments that could antagonize Republicans, Francis endorsed President Barack Obama's efforts on climate change and rebuilding ties with Cuba, after more than half a century of estrangement.

Incredibly, less than a century ago, it would've been difficult (maybe impossible) to believe that the Pope in Rome would be invited to speak to a joint session of the US Congress.  

In fact, when John Kennedy successfully ran for President in 1959-60, the issue of the Pope influencing American public policy was a hot campaign issue. Republicans were saying, at that time, the Pope would unduly influence the Catholic Kennedy.  

Incredulously, today, Pope Francis was welcomed to Washington DC by the US Republican Congress and greeted by the first African American President of the United States. Amazing.

President Barack Obama and Mrs. Michelle Obama greeted the Argentinian Pope who is visiting Washington DC during a state visit. This unlikely set of circumstances can be considered a saintly miracle. Nevertheless, the spiritual dimension notwithstanding, the message Pope Francis made today wasted virtually no time in a welcome narrative of nice flourishes. He spoke directly to the hot button issues of immigration and climate change.  

Pope Francis and President Obama agree about two important issues. Both support immigration reform and the welcome of immigrants to America. Likewise, they believe climate change, global warming or the scientific term of the day for melting polar ice caps, is a  problem for the safety of our planet "home earth".  

Who knew, a century ago, that a Roman Catholic Pope in Rome would be invited to speak to the American people about public policies? Moreover, Pope Francis was welcomed by an African American President, with his beautiful wife and family at his side.  

Here is some of what the Pope said:

" seems clear to me," (said Pope Francis) "...that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation. When it comes to the care of our 'common home', we are living at a critical moment of history. We still have time to make the changes needed to bring about “a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change”.

Faithful Christians are believers in miracles. Roman Catholics, particularly, are taught that divine intervention can be the result of a person's sanctity and prayer.  

I'm a believer that Pope Francis has brought a miracle to Washington DC. In fact, he accepted an invitation by a Republican Congress to meet an African American President and exert a spiritual influence with many elected politicians who will not agree with his message about Cuba, immigration reform (path to citizenship) or climate change.

Perhaps, Pope Francis has already performed the first miracle on his inevitable rise to the spiritual realm of sainthood.

Labels: , , , ,

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Retired General Petraeus created egregious mistake

General David Petraeus somehow received a supportive Congressional hearing today, because he apologized for giving confidential information to his mistress. Yet, what Petraeus did was egregious and any other military person would've been court martialed for giving classified information to mistress, Paula Broadwell.

Paula Broadwell accessed confidential information for personal gain

There's certainly duplicity in how General Petraeus was received, compared to how Congress is responding to Secretary Hillary Clinton's yawning and daunting email issues.  

How is it General Petreaus is getting a pass on his behavior, while Mrs. Clinton continues to be put on the defensive, when she didn't do anything wrong?

Mrs. Hillary Clinton kept a secure email account separate from her official State Department server. Her two emails caused a ridiculous brouhaha because she happened to communicate using both accounts. So what? In the Petraeus transgression, the relationship involved the transfer of confidential information in a compromising way, whereby the recipient intended to use the opportunity to sell her book. There's obviously a big difference between Mrs. Clinton's benign email servers and how General Petraeus gave his mistress information to be used for her personal gain. Surely the General knew how Paula Broadwell, his mistress, was intending to sell her story.  

Moreover, if Petraeus became too involved with Broadwell, beyond the book, there was also a high risk of the liaison story being published post the biography she was reporting. 

Frankly, it's distasteful, to say the least, to write about Mrs. Clinton's email non-news alongside a salacious story about the General and his mistress. Nevertheless, the General received a pass from Congress on his clearly wrong minded and immoral behavior. Yet, at the same time, Mrs. Clinton is held to a higher standard for a much less offensive communication exchange. This comparisom must be made, because the duplicity is clearly unacceptable.

General Petraeus made an egregious mistake.  

Mrs. Clinton, in contrast, served our nation heroically as the First Lady of Arkansas, as First Lady of the United State, as a US Senator and as Secretary of State. She's qualified by education and experience to be the leader of the free world.  Having two email servers is certainly no reason to prevent Mrs. Clinton from become president of the United States.