Sunday, November 30, 2014

Advent Reflection

"In the season of Advent, as we recall Christ’s Incarnation at Christmas, we are reminded to be prepared for Christ’s coming. In the Gospel for the First Sunday of Advent this year, Nov. 30, Christ tells us his disciples “to be on the watch.”

“You do not know when the Lord of the house is coming,” Jesus says. “May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.” We remember that Christ is coming whenever we celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. In the Holy Mass we are made present to the sacrifice at Calvary, and to the joy of Christ’s glory in heaven. But we also remember that Christ will return, and we remember to watch, to be vigilant, to wait for him, and to be prepared...

"Since ancient times, Christians have faced the east during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass to remember to keep watch for Christ. Together, the priest and the people faced the east, waiting and watching for Christ. Even in Churches that did not face the east, the priest and people stood together in the Mass, gazing at Christ on the crucifix, on the altar, and in the tabernacle, to recall the importance of watching for his return. The symbolism of the priest and people facing ad orientem—-to the east—-is an ancient reminder of the coming of Christ...

"The symbolism of facing together, and awaiting Christ, is rich, time-honored and important. Especially during Advent, as we await the coming of the Lord, facing the east together—even symbolically facing Christ together at the altar and on the crucifix—is a powerful witness to Christ’s imminent return. Today, at a time when it is easy to forget that Christ is coming—and easy to be complacent in our spiritual lives and in the work of evangelization—we need reminders that Christ will come...

"“Be watchful!” says Jesus. “Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.” We do not know when the time will come for Christ’s to return. But we know that we must watch for him. May we “face the east,” together, watching for Christ in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and in our lives."

--Bishop James Conley, Diocese of Lincoln, Nebraska

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A Few Thoughts about Immigration and Executive Amnesty

I just wanted to share a few of my thoughts about our nation's current immigration crisis and President Obama's unprecedented Executive Order issued last Friday granting instant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants here in the United States. First of all, I agree with Republican and Tea Party leaders and with the majority of my fellow Americans that this unilateral executive action taken by our president represented an unconstitutional abuse of his authority. The president's job is to enforce laws approved and passed by Congress, not to make up his own laws as he sees fit. (There is one exception to this: Unconstitutional laws passed by Congress, such as ObamaCare, should not be enforced but repealed, if they are not struck down by the courts.) Immigration reform and legislation is a matter for our elected representatives in Congress, who are the real lawmakers. For the umpteenth time since his administration began nearly six years ago, President Obama has exceeded his powers in order to foist his socialist agenda on our nation without our consent. He must be held accountable for violating his oath of office. I think Congress is overdue to begin talk of impeachment.

I am also rather unhappy that our good Catholic bishops have voiced approval for President Obama's unlawful course of action. They have the best of intentions, and they are concerned that those millions of people who are in our country illegally receive needed care and assistance, along with the opportunity for a better life, in line with Catholic social thought and biblical teaching about welcoming the stranger, caring for the least of our brethren, and not oppressing the alien. But I would respectfully submit that our bishops' approach to this complex issue is slightly flawed. The undocumented immigrants who pour across our southern border each day are for the most part deeply religious, hardworking, and otherwise law-abiding individuals whose chief goal is to find productive employment in order to support their families back home. Many of them do end up making a lasting positive contribution to our nation. However, such a large barrel is definitely going to contain some bad apples as well. So while grating privileges of citizenship to deserving aliens, this blanket amnesty is also making some criminals and gang members citizens of the U.S. It's a double-edged sword. By approving President Obama's illegal decree, our bishops undermine their own respect for the rule of law while accomplishing little for the immigrants themselves. There are many Catholic charitable organizations who are already fulfilling the Gospel mission by reaching out to these people at the local level regardless of their immigration status. Having the federal government confer instant citizenship on them with no questions asked is irresponsible and unecessary. In addition, making illegal immigrants instant citizens on a par with natural-born citizens and legal immigrants is unfair to the latter two groups of people.

Furthermore, our bishops do not seem to understand the real reasons for the president's action, which have nothing whatsoever to do with justice and compassion for immigrants. President Obama's unconstitutional edict was driven purely by political considerations in line with his own socialist agenda: its sole purpose was to add millions of new Democratic voters to the United States so that Hillary Clinton can be elected president to succeed him. Although cloaked that way, this illegal Executive Order was not designed to advance the welfare of the illegal immigrants themselves. President Obama has by now amply demonstrated that he doesn't care about the poor or about anyone else in this country who is struggling financially; his only concern is to protect the major corporate interests that back his presidency. And those interests, including Planned Parenthood, Monsanto, and the big pharmaceutical and insurance industries, are also backing Hillary Clinton's candidacy for president in order to retain their grip on U.S. politics and the economy.

There is no question that our immigration system has become an unwieldy bureaucracy that is in dire need of reform. Bureaucratic red tape alone has been a major factor contributing to the boom in illegal immigration. But granting millions of illegal immigrants automatic, unconditional, and permanent citizenship through executive fiat is not the proper way to begin resolving the situation. Our Catholic bishops themselves for years have been championing a comprehensive immigration reform proposal that includes addressing the root causes of mass migration to the U.S. from Mexico and Central America, as well as offering immigrants who came here illegally a legal pathway by which they can earn citizenship over a period of time. Although I may not fully agree with every aspect of this proposal, I do support it as a wise and common-sense approach to the complicated problem of illegal immigration. Our bishops should stick to their proposal and not hail with delight every move by our federal government that seems to advance their cause, much less a move that violates the Constitution and certain basic principles of justice.

I also think that more attention should be paid to the role of NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement, signed in the 1990s by President Clinton) and multinational corporations in the illegal immigration boom that has been affecting our country for the last twenty years. Big companies love cheap labor, and they can get lots of it when national borders are porous and immigration laws are weak or not enforced. If it is to be long-lasting and effective, immigration reform must be sufficiently farsighted to include structural reform of the global economy based on principles of justice and charity for all involved, as Benedict XVI spelled out in his 2009 encyclical Caritas in Veritate. Thus the U.S. must also work together in a spirit of community with other countries and international organizations to address the root causes of its illegal immigration problem.

For now, I fully support Congress doing all in its power to halt the implementation of President Obama's latest assault on our Constitution, and to hold the president accountable for abusing his authority yet again. He is a dangerous tyrant, so a real effort should be made in the near future to impeach him and remove him from office for the good of our country.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Quote of the Day

"Let us seek to live in a way that is always worthy of our Christian vocation."

--Pope Francis

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

ElectionWatch 2014: Eight Seats...Maybe Nine?

As of mid-November, the historic 2014 midterm elections are now behind us--at least for the most part. Nearly all of the close House, Senate, and gubernatorial races have now been decided. Republicans have secured 244 seats in the House of Representatives compared to 186 for the Democrats, with the outcome of five House races still pending. And just a few days ago, Republican challenger Dan Sullivan was declared the winner of the Alaska Senate race, defeating Democratic incumbent Mark Begich; thanks to this victory, Republicans have now picked up eight seats in the Senate, bringing their total to 53 compared to 46 for the Democrats. The one remaining inconclusive Senate race in Louisiana is now being hotly contested, with Democratic establishment incumbent Mary Landrieu desperately attempting to defeat Republican challenger Bill Cassidy; the two candidates will face off in a special runoff election on Saturday, December 6.

Successfully withstanding a massive and all-time record barrage of big money, big lies, and big media from corrupt Democratic incumbent politicians, Republican and Tea Party candidates for the House, Senate, and state governorships alike fared extremely well in this election, their spectacular tidal wave of victories driven mainly by public outrage over ObamaCare and the hunger for a return to traditional Judeo-Christian religious and moral values as the bedrock of sound national governance. Although some of the really close races such as the Virginia Senate election and several House races have tipped in favor of Democrats, this simply reflects the fact that Democratic candidates across the country did their utmost to keep public opinion on their side and crush their upstart Republican and Tea Party rivals. So yes, they have managed to pull a few victories from the jaws of defeat, but not to worry: The corrupt Washington establishment has already been shaken to its core by the Tea Party revolution of 2014, and its days are numbered. With the right kind of changes on the horizon, we the people of the United States can look forward with reasonable hope to better days and a brighter future for our once-great country.

Although badly shaken two weeks ago, the corrupt establishment is not quite dead yet and is still eager to snag one final victory in particular. Polls now being fed to us by the mainstream media indicate that the Louisiana Senate race between Cassidy and Landrieu is extremely close. Does that sound familiar? Polls released prior to November 4 showed numerous Senate and several gubernatorial races extremely close, and they were all wrong, probably even deliberately biased, so it's reasonable to wonder whether the latest polls of the Senate race in Louisiana can be trusted. I believe that such flawed and deceptive polls from the mainstream media can be used, and are being used, as a method of psychological warfare on behalf of Democratic establishment candidates to convince Republican and pro-life voters that their efforts are all in vain because the Democrats are probably going to hang on anyway. Given what just happened in the general elections, it's reasonable to assume that Bill Cassidy may be more popular than the big media would like to admit, and more popular than their polls show. I think that, in spite of everything, he still has a good chance of defeating Mary Landrieu. That said, predicting the future is a notoriously tricky business, so I'm not going to predict the outcome of this particular race. I'll just wait and see what happens, pray for a good result, encourage all Louisianans to give Cassidy their vote, and wish him the best.

The historic 2014 elections represented a tremendous achievement for the Tea Party movement in the United States despite a concerted effort by the Washington establishment to discredit and defeat it. Just a few weeks ago, it seemed unlikely that Republicans would pick up the six additional seats necessary to regain control of the Senate. Now they have picked up eight, and if Cassidy wins in Louisiana, they will pick up one more for a total of nine new seats. That will be a nice bonus if it happens. But if it doesn't, the Louisiana Senate race will become merely a footnote in the story of the mold-breaking elections of 2014--a hard-fought and hard-won battle by a teetering yet still desperately tenacious establishment Goliath that was losing the political and cultural war for America's future.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Quote of the Day

"The Lord never says that the Kingdom of God is a spectacle. It is a celebration! But that is different. Certainly it is a beautiful celebration. A great celebration. And Heaven will be a celebration, but not a spectacle. However, our human weakness prefers the spectacle...

“When one thinks of the perseverance of many Christians, who struggle to raise their family - men, women - who care for children, care for grandparents and arrive at the end of the month with only half a euro, but who pray, there is the Kingdom of God, hidden, in the holiness of daily life, everyday holiness. Because the Kingdom of God is not far from us, it is near! This is one of its features: it is close to us everyday...

"It is up to us to to let it grow in us, without boasting about it. Let the Spirit come, change our soul and carry us forward in silence, in peace, in tranquility, in closeness to God, to others, in worship of God, without spectacle.”

--Pope Francis

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

ElectionWatch 2014: We Did It!

Defying widespread expectations of a close election contest, the Congressional and gubernatorial elections of 2014 resulted in a landslide victory for the Republican Party and were a major step forward for the Tea Party movement in its quest to take over Washington politics. As of this writing, Republicans had picked up an additional seven seats in the Senate, going from 45 to 52, regaining control of that house of Congress for the first time since 2006; moreover, Republicans had slightly expanded their majority in the House of Representatives from 232 to 244 seats. As a result of these electoral gains, Republicans now have their largest Congressional majority since the 1940s. Furthermore, Republican (and Tea Party) incumbents held on to state governorships in Florida, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, New Mexico and several other states, while new Republican candidates scored gubernatorial victories in the traditional Democratic strongholds of Illinois, Maryland, and Massachusetts.

Personally, I was surprised and delighted by the news of this spectacular victory. Like many other observers, I was completely misled by the apparently inaccurate and biased polls conducted by the mainstream media showing all of the key Senate and gubernatorial races extremely close. As a result, my expectations were about ten percentage points to the left of the true public opinion. For two months, I predicted that Republicans would pick up only three to five seats in the Senate; that they would hold their own in the House; and that they would lose one or two state governorships. My predictions were based not just on the flawed polling data but on the tenacity of the corrupt Democratic political establishment in Washington and on all the big money, big lies, and big media they were employing so relentlessly in their bid to dupe the voters into keeping them in power. I was also aware of the potential for vast voter fraud in a close election and knew that Democrats would not hesitate to exploit this technique to their advantage wherever possible. Corrupt and dishonest Democratic politicians have used all these dirty tricks to win election or re-election in 2008 and 2012, so I didn't want to get my hopes up again for this election, only to be disappointed once again. Of course, it's true that the midterm elections of a president's second term traditionally result in major defeats for the president's party (this happened less dramatically in 2006 during the Bush administration), but given the times we are in now, I wasn't about to fall back on electoral tradition.

On the evening of November 4, as I flipped around to various AM radio stations to find out what was happening, I found the early news reports mixed and inconclusive. Republican Governor Rick Snyder had won re-election in Michigan; Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen had narrowly won re-election in New Hampshire; several key Senate races and the Wisconsin governor's race were undecided. Nothing significant seemed to be happening; apparently, we were in for a repeat of 2012 at the Congressional and gubernatorial levels. Snyder's re-election was the proverbial tip of the iceberg, but I didn't realize that at the time. One Libertarian commentator was dubbing the whole election event "a big yawn" and saying, "Democrats win, Republicans win, nothing really changes." Although I was disappointed, this was exactly the result I was anticipating. "Oh well," I thought, "I guess I was right on." I went to bed expecting no change in the status quo.

The next morning, I went to CNN's website with some apprehension to check the news. The headline was "RED AMERICA" across a map of the continental U.S. almost solid red; the subheading read, "Republicans seize Senate, gaining full control of Congress." I was stunned. "We did it!" I shouted. "We took over the Senate!" I could hardly believe what I was saying. I was never so glad to be wrong in all my life. I was even more blown away when I read the full story and learned that nearly all of the Republican and Tea Party incumbents and challengers had won handily: Joni Ernst, Thom Tillis, Tom Cotton, Cory Gardner, Shelley Moore Capito, Steve Daines, Mia Love, Scott Walker, John Kasich, Rick Scott, and so on and so forth. It was nothing short of a massive political earthquake for the Obama administration, a clear repudiation of its ongoing project to "fundamentally transform" America into a socialist paradise. The election results were all the more dramatic and rewarding given that the corrupt establishment did its absolute utmost to prevent such an astounding upset from ever occurring under President Obama. Planned Parenthood even spent a record $20 million in key races to retain its pro-abortion majority in the Senate. So much for that concerted endeavor. The establishment's worst nightmare has now become inescapable reality: the balance of power in Washington has shifted decisively into Republican and Tea Party hands.

Why did this election go the way it did? The answer can be summed up in one word: ObamaCare. Just as in the similar midterm elections of 2010, the American people were angry with President Obama and his Democratic cronies for betraying their trust, lying to them, and saddling them with an unjust, immoral, unconstitutional, and unaffordable socialized healthcare system that kills the unborn, attacks their religious liberties and moral conscience rights, restricts their healthcare options, and further burdens our struggling economy. The main difference between 2010 and 2014 is that ObamaCare is now in effect and the majority of American individuals and families are directly suffering from its negative consequences. They want this disastrous pork-barrel law repealed in its entirety and replaced with sound healthcare reform legislation that respects their God-given rights and allows decisions to be freely made at the local level.

And that's all because--despite the glib pronouncements of career politicians, celebrities, and mainstream media pundits--most Americans still hold traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and values in accord with the natural law and the wisdom of the Founders. They believe that America is (or at least ought to be) a Christian country, and they reject the godless ideology of radical secularism being shoved down our throats by President Obama and activist judges. They believe abortion is wrong and should be further restricted if not outlawed altogether. They believe that marriage is the union of a man and a woman and should be legally defined that way. They believe that religious liberty is sacred, that they have a moral right in conscience to refuse to participate in objectively immoral acts, and that no government law may interfere with either. They believe in limited, effective government and fiscal responsibility, not in a bloated bureaucracy with unlimited spending and unsustainable debt. They believe in a free-market economy with limited regulation, not wholesale government takeover of the private sector. They believe in equal opportunity for everyone regardless of race, gender, or background. And they believe that our borders should be secured and our immigration system properly reformed. These are the religious and moral values of Middle America, and these are the values that decided the election of 2014. It was a victory for the American people and their much-maligned, attacked, and ridiculed traditional values whose demise (to paraphrase Mark Twain) have been greatly exaggerated.

As the old Latin saying goes, Vox populo, vox Deo: The voice of the people is the voice of God. I believe that this election was a powerful manifestation of God's Will for our country: God shouting through a megaphone, if you will. In His great mercy, I think He has a better future in store for us and doesn't want our nation to keep going down the tubes as it has been thanks to our corrupt and dishonest establishment leadership. He is giving America a chance to get back on track and become a great nation once again. And not even President Obama can prevent that from happening if it is God's Will.

It was my earlier predictions for this election that turned out to be right on target. Six months ago, in my first ElectionWatch post for this series, I opined that the 2014 election season "promises to be just as exciting and historic, if not more so, than the elections held four years ago." In my second, I wrote that the nomination of Joni Ernst was "an indication, albeit an early and a small one, of what is probably going to happen this November when we the American people go to the polls: We're going to take back the Senate!" I added that "on the whole the desperate efforts of establishment politicians to cling to power will fail to hold back the wave of national rebellion now gaining momentum... We are going to elect (and re-elect) a slew of Tea Party candidates to state governorships as well as the U.S. House and Senate--citizen statesmen and women of religious faith and moral principle who will strive to return our country to greatness by governing in accordance with the law of God and the Constitution of the United States as the Founders intended." All of this has now come true, with the Tea Party revolution of 2014 meeting or even exceeding my original expectations.

However, this election was not just a landslide victory for the Republican Party and the Tea Party movement. It was also a victory for the weakest and most defenseless among us--the millions of innocent unborn Americans hidden in their mother's wombs. We owe it to them and to our nation's future to protect their inalienable right to life and put an end to the unspeakable tragedy of legalized (and now taxpayer-funded) abortion. Now that we have a pro-life majority in both houses of Congress, including many who have pledged to cosponsor and pass the Life at Conception Act, the time is ripe to move forward with this excellent legislation that guarantees legal protection, and thus a chance at life outside the womb, for all unborn Americans. When passed, the Life at Conception Act will do just that: by defining that human life begins at conception, it will overturn Roe v. Wade legislatively and end the horror of legalized abortion in America once and for all. Way back in 1983, President Ronald Reagan prophesied that such legislation would someday pass Congress, "and you and I must not rest until it does." So let's honor his legacy by remaining firmly committed to ensuring Congressional approval of the Life at Conception Act. This should be the first priority of the new Congress.

As the saying goes, our newly elected and re-elected senators, representatives, and governors definitely have their work cut out for them. Six years of President Obama have taken their toll on our country, and we can't expect all our problems to be resolved immediately, especially with two years of his disastrous presidency still to go. However, our Republican and Tea Party leaders now have a clear mandate from the voters, and they know what they must do: outlaw abortion, repeal ObamaCare, protect marriage and religious liberty, cut taxes, approve the Keystone XL pipeline, shrink the government, balance the budget, secure our borders, and hold President Obama accountable for his egregious abuses of power. We the people have spoken; now our elected representatives must act. As the baton is passed to the next generation of American leaders, let's keep them and our country in our prayers as the next Congress moves forward with the challenging but much-needed work of reform. And no matter what happens along the way, let us never forget that Divine Providence is watching over our country. In the words of a famous anthem, "Let this be our motto: In God is our trust."

Go Tea Party! And may God bless America!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Quote of the Day

"Twenty-five years ago, on November 9th, 1989, the Berlin Wall fell, which for so long divided the city in two and was a symbol of the ideological division of Europe and of the whole world. The fall happened suddenly, but it was made possible by the long and arduous efforts of so many people who have fought, prayed and suffered for this, some even to the point of sacrificing their lives.

"Among those, the saintly Pope John Paul II had a lead role. Let us pray so that, with the help of the Lord and the collaboration of all men and women of good will, a culture of encounter may continue to spread, capable of bringing down all the walls that still divide the world, and that never again will innocent people be persecuted and even killed because of their beliefs and their religion. Where there is a wall there is a closure of the heart. We need bridges, not walls!"

--Pope Francis

Monday, November 3, 2014

Quote of the Day

"The remembrance of the dead, the care for graves and prayers of repose are a witness of the confident hope, rooted in the certainty that death is not the final word on the human fate, since man is destined to a life without limits, which has its roots and its fulfillment in God."

--Pope Francis