A PUZZLE:  HOW WELL CAN YOU CONNECT THE DOTS? by Milt Hankins

A PUZZLE: HOW WELL CAN YOU CONNECT THE DOTS? by Milt Hankins

DID YOU KNOW that despite the president and his Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s assertions, Paul Manafort played a primary role in the Trump campaign and the Republican National Convention?

TRUMP TOWER

DID YOU KNOW that Paul Manafort lived in Trump Tower before he became Trump’s campaign manager? [The Daily Beast]

DID YOU KNOW that Paul Manafort “worked for a Russian billionaire with a plan to ‘greatly benefit the Putin Government?'” [Washington, Associated Press, March 23, 2017]

DID YOU KNOW that, according to the Associated Press, Paul Manafort received millions of dollars from Russia to influence American politics and businesses? He drew no salary for his Trump campaign work. 

DID YOU KNOW that Donald Trump said that Paul Manafort “had done a great job” the day after the Republican National Convention? Did Trump know that Manafort was working for a millionaire ally of Vladimir Putin? [Trump speech]

HILLARY CLINTON SPEAKING AT THE LAST PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE

DID YOU KNOW that Roger Stone is “under investigation for what would be his dirtiest trick–colluding with the Russians to defeat Hillary Clinton and to put his friend in the White House?” [Maggie Haberman, The New York Times, March 21, 2017]

DID YOU KNOW that Carter Page, an American oil consultant and “an early foreign policy adviser to Donald J. Trump who was scrutinized by the F.B.I. on suspicion of private communications with senior Russian officials over the summer, was back in Moscow on Thursday.” [Moscow release to The New York Times, December, 2016]

DID YOU KNOW that Representative Devin Nunes (R, Calif), who is running the House Intelligence Committee on the Russian-Trump connection, was a member of President Trump’s transition team?

DID YOU KNOW that Representative Devin Nunes (R, Calif), who is running the House Intelligence Committee on the Russian influence in the 2016 election, told reporters he didn’t know who Roger Stone and Carter Page are? [Nunes interview]

DID YOU KNOW that Representative Adam Shiff, (D, Calif), a ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation, has said publicly that “he has more than circumstantial evidence” that Trump associates colluded with Russia. [Lawrence O’Donnell program, MSNBC News, March 22, 2017]

VLADIMIR PUTIN

DID YOU KNOW that Rex Tillerson, the current Secretary of State and General Mike Flynn, who served as Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor during the transition period and for a short period after President Trump took office, had close relationships with Vladimir Putin and the Russian oligarchs? [various news reports]

STEPHEN BANNON

DID YOU KNOW that “the reclusive mastermind behind President Trump’s nationalist ideology and combative tactics, Stephen Bannon, made his public debut Thursday, delivering a fiery rebuke of the media and declaring that the new administration is in an unending battle for ‘deconstruction of the administrative state.’” [The Washington Post reporting on the Conservative Action Pac conference]

DID YOU KNOW that it is commonly known that Vladimir Putin despised Hillary Clinton and therefore wanted to influence the 2016 election to see that Ms Clinton lost the presidency to businessman Donald Trump? [MSNBC news release]

DID YOU KNOW that President Donald Trump is on record “assert[ing] his desire to draw Russia and the United States closer together as president–building on a long-established track record of Trump’s fondness for the autocratic Russian leader?” [CNN Politics article, “Donald Trump’s Praise for Vladimir Putin” by Jeremy Diamond, July 2016]

DID YOU KNOW that, while he was telling his followers that Hillary Clinton was under F.B.I. investigation,

DONALD TRUMP

Donald Trump [himself] was the subject of an F.B.I. investigation? [released during the House Intelligence Committee Investigation]

DID YOU KNOW that “The U.S. intelligence community concluded in a report released publicly on January 6th, 2017 that Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a massive influence campaign to interfere in the presidential election in favor of Trump?” [MSN article, Max Greenwood in The Hill, March 22, 2017]

Now that you know these facts and assertions, can you connect the dots (the relationships)? Would you say that the Trump administration has some ‘splainin’ to do?

I would.

HOUSE SPEAKER RYAN – A RELIGIOUS HYPOCRITE? by Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox

HOUSE SPEAKER RYAN – A RELIGIOUS HYPOCRITE? by Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox

A PRIESTLY LETTER TO SPEAKER PAUL RYAN FROM

REV. DR. MATTHEW FOX

Dear Speaker and Congressman Ryan,

As a priest who commemorates his 50th year in the priesthood this year (28 as a Roman Catholic and 22 as an Episcopalian), and as your elder, I am writing you this letter because I am worried about your soul.

REPRESENTATIVE PAUL RYAN, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE

We all know you take good care of your body, working out frequently in the congressional gym we taxpayers provide for those in Congress, and that is a good thing. But I am concerned that you are neglecting your soul. It too requires work-outs and practice to stay healthy.

You claim to be a good and practicing Catholic Christian but I have serious doubts that you are. Our Christian beliefs include these words of Jesus after all: “What does it profit a person if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul?” These powerful words are surely important for anyone serving in public office or any other places of responsibility, whether in government or business or church or wherever. Yes, they even apply to your close buddies the Koch brothers, upon whom you depend so fully for your income and ideas and campaigns and job.

You see, another passage that grounds Catholicism and Christianity is found in Matthew 25: “Do it to the least and you do it to me.” Not to mention he golden Rule which is found in Matthew 7:12 and is reflected in some form in every world religion since the time of Hammurabi: “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

Now I want to ask from a spiritual and theological perceptive how you can possibly reconcile these basic teachings of the Gospels with your continued efforts to create budgets for our entire nation that do the following:

1. Threaten to privatize and thereby destroy Social Security for elders and disabled people.

2. Destroy critical health support systems for the sick, handicapped, mentally disabled, and homeless by effectively scuttling Medicare and Medicaid.

THE HOMELESS AND THE POOR

3. Dismantle the EPA so that the rest of God’s sacred creation is imperiled by human narcissism (Pope Francis’ words). Have you not read Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si that teaches everyone–believer and non-believer alike–that we humans are not here to destroy but to support creation for the good of all beings on earth now and in the future? If you have studied this great document–as you must as a thinking believer–where is it to be found in your legislative agenda?

Another Biblical teaching is the warning that we are not to worship idols. But Wall Street is a purveyor of the idolatry of money. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer in that system.

POPE FRANCIS I

Pope Francis has spoken to that truth also when he speaks of the “savage capitalism” and the “god of money” that dominates so much of decision-making in western culture.

Your naked efforts to give more and more tax breaks to billionaires like your supporters the Koch brothers is proof that you have up to now chosen to be on the side of the savage capitalists and the gods of money. Have you no shame? Have you no conscience? Do your faith and Jesus’ teachings mean nothing to you because you are mesmerized by power and the powerful?

WALL STREET

Do you not know–or do you simply not care–that when the uber-rich do not pay their fair share, the struggling poor and middle class must pay from their meager resources to subsidize the rich? And when the uber-rich get still more tax breaks, the poor and middle class are forced to make up the difference?

Meanwhile, until you and your party pay attention at last to these basic issues, I as a Christian priest and theologian can only conclude that you are not at all a Catholic or a Christian but just one more hypocrite flaunting your bogus religion on your sleeve to garner more votes and stay in a cushy job while you sell your soul to the Koch brothers and other Wall Street misers. People who don’t have a clue about the “weightier matters of the Law–justice, compassion, good faith!” (Mt. 23:23) that Jesus preached, and who could not care less.

Jesus has something to say about that too, remember? It was strong stuff. He was speaking to you, Paul Ryan, and your fellow politicians when he said, “Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You who are like whitewashed tombs that look handsome on the outside, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and every kind of corruption. In the same way you appear to people from the outside like good honest men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness….You are the sons of those who murdered the prophets.” (Mt 23.27-28,31).

I hope and pray that you and your fellow politicians, Mr. Ryan, so beholden to the rich and uber-rich, might heed Jesus’ words. And if not, at least do him the courtesy of not invoking his name to justify your lawlessness.

Sincerely in Christ’s name,

Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox

REV. DR. MATTHEW FOX

[The Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox’s communication was described as an “open letter,” and its subsequent publication places it in the public domain.  Illustrations by Pixabay and Google have been added by the Editor. Dr. Fox fully documented his statements in the original text.  Those who wish to see additional documentation and sources Dr. Fox used may contact Columnist with a View (www.columnistwithaview.com) and we will be more that happy to supply that material.  Matthew Fox currently resides in Oakland, California. Formerly a Catholic priest and presently an Episcopal priest, Fox is arguably the most important theologian of our time. He is certainly amongst the most controversial. A spiritual theologian and religious scholar, he has dedicated much of his life to developing/recovering the tradition of Creation Spirituality.] 

EARNING IT by Beth Rankin

EARNING IT by Beth Rankin

Many of you know I lost a husband to cancer. He was born and raised in Nashville and I learned a lot about the way people in the South thought and felt through his family and him. His mom was an orphan, raised by a family in West Virginia. His dad was raised in the mountains of southwestern Virginia. He quit school to join the CCC and after WWII, earned his high school diploma. He worked hard all his life, working their small farm before heading off to work at the Air National Guard. On weekends he also worked for an auction house. He wasn’t an intelligent man, but my father-in-law was one of the Salt of the Earth. His word was his promise. He always did the best he could, for his family and friends and for his community.  He was an ornery old coot in his last years and he definitely earned my love and respect.

We’ve heard it all our lives but here is Merriam-Webster’s explanation:

Definition of respect

1:  a relation or reference to a particular thing or situation <remarks having respect to an earlier plan>

2:  an act of giving particular attention :  consideration

3a :  high or special regard :  esteem

3b :  the quality or state of being esteemed

3c respects plural :  expressions of high or special regard or deference <paid our respects>

4:  particulardetail <a good plan in some respect

Some of us were taught to respect our elders. We learned the Ten Commandments dictate us to Honor Our Father and Mother. This is the 5th Commandment, the first after the four that deal with a person’s relationship with God.  Christian doctrine teaches even if the relationship is abusive, one must learn to love that abuser by forgiving their transgressions or acting kindly towards them or writing a tribute about them or praying for them.

First off, I am not a Christian.  Good thing, because this will not exactly be a tribute. And I don’t think I can pray this one away.

I am Jewish and based on rabbinical interpretation of the law there is no strong requirement to be respectful of an abusive parent. There is, however, a careful examination of respecting the position, not the person. I can live with that.

I am not talking about my parents, by the way. I had issues with them and managed to resolve them and reach understanding. That process was one of respect.

I am talking about another authority figure: our incoming President.

Some of my most conservative friends on Facebook tell me I MUST respect Trump because he will be President. I can not. He has not earned it. Perhaps he will. But when he says things like this, he has dug himself a hole, not only with me but with the majority of voters in this country.trump-5th-avenue

Right now I will respect the office of the President. I will respect it so much that I will continue to hold a high expectation of the role the person in that position holds.  Here are a few quotes about the Office by some of our past Presidents.trumanquote fdrquote

Notice the difference?

By the way, those conservative Facebook friends also believe spanking instills respect. One finally admitted she hated her father for hitting her. Her behavior modified because she wanted to stop getting beaten. That is not respect. That is fear.

It concerns me that the people who support Trump are ones who have had a strong authoritarian parent. They are used to listening to nonsense and accepting it. They are used to shutting down their own reactions to try to keep the peace. I guess that makes them conform to the Christian concepts mentioned above. If only they didn’t express hatred so much.

Meanwhile, the rest of us poor sinners will keep working to remind Trump that he has to rise to meet the responsibilities of the Office. 

Grimace or grin, Helen Thomas said it well. And any President who tries to muzzle the Press will clearly be hiding something.thomasquote

 

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? by L. Milton Hankins

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? by L. Milton Hankins

         “When quacks with pills political would dope us, When politics absorbs the livelong day, I like to think about the star Canopus, So far, so far away,” so wrote Bert Leston Taylor, a not-so-long-remembered humorist, poet, and long-time columnist for the Chicago-Tribune.

          A few weeks back I understood Taylor perfectly.

POLARIZATION

POLARIZATION

          But, you know, it isn’t so much the absorption “of the livelong day,” as the rancid polarization between liberals and conservatives in this country that causes me the greatest concern.  It’s not anything new, actually. The polarization of political thinking in this country has been prominent for at least a century.

THEODORE ROOSEVELT

THEODORE ROOSEVELT

          The rancor between Theodore Roosevelt and his once choice for the presidency William Howard Taft became so pronounced that Roosevelt formed the Bull Moose Party in an attempt to deny Taft a second term.  It worked, but it backfired.  Both Roosevelt and Taft lost to the Democrat Woodrow Wilson.

 

           Out-spoken Republicans who believed that Franklin D. Roosevelt was destroying this country with his peculiar form of socialism tried three times to throw him out of office, but only a cerebral hemorrhage not long after his fourth election to the presidency succeeded.

          Polarization was never more prominent than it was between followers of the “Man from Missouri,” Harry Truman and his opponent elitist Republican dandy, New York Governor Thomas Dewey.

          In none of the above cases, however, with the arguable exception of FDR, was the citizenry so divided and determined as it is today.  So much so, that many people who pay attention to such things wonder if November 9th, the day after Election Day 2016, a socio-political revolution in this country might be sparked.

          As long as I can remember, social, political and religious differences have separated into groups people who see “things” differently.  But never, as long as I can remember, have we seen anger, hatred, revenge and discrimination become real weapons employed against opposed races, gender groups, nationalities, and political parties in this country.

          As a matter of fact, we have reached a boiling point.  We are actually hearing people talk about a possible revolution.  We are hearing politicians threaten a post-election period of non-acceptance of the outcome—threatening the basic principles of our democracy.  We are hearing a call to arms!  We are witnessing the unreasonable and unmitigated murders of police officers who are doing nothing but sitting in their squad cars, minding their own business.

          We are seeing increasing numbers of crimes committed between the races; burgeoning, adamant refusal to accept the rule of law–laws which have been passed to guarantee civility, due process and the rights of individuals who are different for one reason or another.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN

ABRAHAM LINCOLN

          Abraham Lincoln said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”

         He also said “If we do not make common cause to save the good old ship of the Union on this voyage, nobody will have a chance to pilot her on another voyage.”

          If we do nothing more in the next four years, let us work together to build bridges—literally and figuratively.

 

BUILDING BRIDGES

BUILDING BRIDGES

 

 

THIS IS AN EXCITING YEAR TO BE A WOMAN by Susan Grigsby

THIS IS AN EXCITING YEAR TO BE A WOMAN by Susan Grigsby

HILLARY CLINTON SPEAKING AT THE LAST PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE

HILLARY CLINTON SPEAKING AT THE LAST PRESIDENTIAL DEBATE

Why? Because this year, we have an unapologetic misogynist, who has no filter between his brain and his mouth, running for the presidency of the United States of America. We have never before seen a campaign that is as rich in utter bullshit as this one has been, nor have we ever before been given such an exceptional enemy to unite us.

DONALD J. TRUMP

DONALD J. TRUMP

And unite us he has. According to the conservative Chicago Tribune:

An NBC/Wall Street Journal national poll released Sunday showed that women have propelled Hillary Clinton to an 11-point lead over Trump, 48 percent to 37 percent, among all likely voters. Among female voters, Clinton has a 20-point lead over Trump, 55 to 35 percent. Among men, however, Trump still is the preferred candidate, 48 to 45 percent.

In the 13 “battleground” states that could ultimately decide the race, Clinton has a 15-point lead over Trump among women voters, significantly higher than the 5-point lead she held a month ago, according to a new CBS poll. In addition, Trump’s support among Republican women has fallen to 77 percent from 84 percent a month ago.

A new CBS poll, released last Monday, showed a 19-point Clinton lead among women voters.

Clinton’s 19-point lead among female voters, according to CBS, “would be the largest margin for a Democrat among women going back to 1972 when exit polls were first conducted.”

Even more interesting, the CBS poll discovered that news reports about the transcripts of Clinton’s Wall Street speeches are not resonating with the public. Frankly, it seems that the only people who ever wanted to see the transcripts were those who either followed politics closely, or those who repeated what they heard from right-wing radio/television sources. The general public did not appear to be paying much attention. However, that same broader public does appear to pay attention to misogynistic vulgarities.

Eighty-five percent of registered voters have heard something about Trump’s comments, including six in 10 who have heard a lot. On the other hand, half of voters have heard or read something about the transcripts of Clinton’s Wall Street speeches, including just 21 percent who have heard a lot.

More than 1,000 female Christian leaders have signed onto a letter written by Faith in Public Life CEO, the Rev. Jennifer Butler. In her letter, she objects to the support extended to Donald Trump by fellow Christians, as well as to the remarks themselves. 

“The sin of misogyny has caused many of us to experience sexual assault or sexually abusive language that threatened our safety, dignity and well-being,” the group notes in the letter. “Christian leaders cannot condone such violent speech about women as a minor mistake or an innocent attempt to be ‘macho.'”

“Women clergy and lay leaders are alarmed that Trump has dismissed his sexually abusive remarks as mere ‘locker room’ talk, and we are deeply troubled by the emerging evidence of him engaging in the behavior he described on his offensive tape,” Butler said in a press release announcing the letter’s publication. “Trump has not offered true repentance. Congregations must lead the way in denouncing such vile and violent behavior.”

All over the internet, there are stories of women resisting sexual harassment. And fighting back.

BE SURE TO CAST YOUR BALLOT

BE SURE TO CAST YOUR BALLOT