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I am not a know nothing.

July 31st, 2017 No comments


“I am not a Know-Nothing – that is certain. How could I be? How can any one who abhors the oppression of negroes, be in favor of degrading classes of white people? Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we began by declaring that ‘all men are created equal.’ We now practically read it ‘all men are created equal, except negroes.’ When the Know-Nothings get control, it will read ‘all men are created equals, except negroes and foreigners and Catholics.’ When it comes to that I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty – to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrisy.” Abraham Lincoln letter to Joshua Speed , August 24, 1855. https://www.nps.gov/liho/learn/historyculture/knownothingparty.htm, accessed July 30, 2017

Republican Congress vs. Republican President 

July 29th, 2017 No comments


Donald just signed a law containing provisions limiting his power to conduct foreign policy. In 1867 Radical Republicans in Congress, with a veto proof majority, passed the Tenure of Office Act over President Johnson’s veto, restricting him from firing and hiring cabinet members. Though Johnson was Lincoln’s Vice President he was not a committed Republican, and he opposed Congressional Republican’s plan for Reconstruction. When Johnson fired Secretary of War Stanton anyway, Congress impeached him and failed to remove him from office by a single vote. Hmmmm…..
Congress’ Message to Donald Trump is Tough

“Tragic Prelude”

July 27th, 2017 No comments

Most of us in my generation are familiar with this image as the cover of rock band Kansas’ first album “Kansas.” (1974). It is a mural on the second floor of the Kansas State capitol titled “Tragic Prelude” by John Steuart Curry. (1942) It depicts the abolitionist struggle known as “Bleeding Kansas” that preceded the Civil War in the 1850s. I cannot imagine a more quintessentially American image.

Fanaticism, breakdown, and a much darker future…

July 26th, 2017 No comments

Governor Jerry Brown discusses political polarization. NPR Morning Edition 7/25/17


“We listened to a variety of opinions from a variety of points of view. And some of the folk on the left said, oh, you can’t talk to oil companies. Are you talking to the Chamber of Commerce? Are you talking to the Farm Bureau? That’s just horrible.

“And then on the other side, The Wall Street Journal and some of the Republican activists said, you’re a Republican. You can’t vote for something that a Democrat would support. Well, both of those, in my view, are forms of political terrorism that are conspiring to undermine the American system of governance.”

“I would say history tells us that we need to find consensus. We need to swallow our own pet thoughts and build coalitions. That’s the nature of parliamentary democracy, American democracy. And we’re getting away from that. And the end product is always fanaticism, breakdown and a much darker future.

Original Article

Death from above…

July 18th, 2017 No comments

Trump warns we need to watch out for flying bags of dope. I never even dreamed that could be a threat. Good thing we have people watching out for this stuff…

 

Trump says Mexico wall needs to be see-through to stop ‘sacks of drugs’ hitting people on the head

The proposed wall along the US-Mexico border must be see-through to prevent people being hit on the head with sacks of drugs, Donald Trump has said. The US President estimated “anywhere from 700 to 900 miles” of barricades were needed between the two countries, with mountains and rivers providing “natural barriers” along the rest of the 2,000-mile frontier.

Evangelical Fundamentalism and Catholic Integralism in the USA: A surprising ecumenism

July 15th, 2017 No comments

Which feeling underlies the persuasive temptation for a spurious alliance between politics and religious fundamentalism? It is fear of the breakup of a constructed order and the fear of chaos. Indeed, it functions that way thanks to the chaos perceived. The political strategy for success becomes that of raising the tones of the conflictual, exaggerating disorder, agitating the souls of the people by painting worrying scenarios beyond any realism.

Religion at this point becomes a guarantor of order and a political part would incarnate its needs. The appeal to the apocalypse justifies the power desired by a god or colluded in with a god. And fundamentalism thereby shows itself not to be the product of a religious experience but a poor and abusive perversion of it.

 

LA CIVILTÀ CATTOLICA

Editor-in-chief of Antonio Spadaro S.J. La Civiltà Cattolica , Presbyterian pastor, Editor-in-chief of the Argentinian edition of Marcelo Figueroa L’Osservatore Romano In God We Trust. This phrase is printed on the banknotes of the United States of America and is the current national motto.

The Car of History by Franzoni. Clock by Simon Willard*

July 8th, 2017 No comments

How can we know who we are and where we are headed if we don’t know where we came from? How can we call ourselves patriots if we know little of our country’s past?[1]

[1] David McCullough, 1776, [E-book] 1st edition (Simon & Schuster, 2005), chap. 1.

*Clio, the godess of history. In Statuary Hall, US Capitol, Washington, DC. This was the first chamber of the House of Representatives.

God Save Our American States

July 4th, 2017 No comments

“A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.”

The Mystic Chords of Memory

July 3rd, 2017 No comments

In one of those interesting coincidences of history, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both passed on the same day: July 4, 1826. It was exactly 50 years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, which they both had worked to create.

In 1776, both men were bound by the task before them, the intricacies and dangers of declaring independence from Great Britain. Both had served on the committee that drafted the Declaration, though Jefferson did most of the writing and Adams, along with Benjamin Franklin, offered amendments. During much of their lifetimes after, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were fast friends.

The only cloud on their friendship was that they disagreed profoundly about politics. This did not seriously affect their friendship until both became involved in presidential politics. By an eccentricity of the Constitution as originally written, when Adams narrowly defeated Jefferson for the Presidency in 1796, Jefferson became his Vice President. Their political differences made a working relationship impossible. Jefferson believed that Adams and others of like mind, particularly Alexander Hamilton, were actively working to destroy the country; to turn it into a monarchy. Adams, for his part, believed Jefferson’s ideas to be dangerously radical. Jefferson was intent on steering the country in a more liberal direction, to the point if necessary of a new revolution.

In 1800 Jefferson again ran for President against Adams. It was a vicious campaign. In those days people did not campaign for the Presidency but allowed proxies to speak for them. Jefferson’s followers described Adams as having a “hideous hermaphroditical character, which has neither the force and firmness of a man, nor the gentleness and sensibility of a woman.” In return, Adams’ men called Vice President Jefferson “a mean-spirited, low-lived fellow, the son of a half-breed Indian squaw, sired by a Virginia mulatto father.” And worse.[i]

The election nearly broke the country, and when the Federalists reluctantly surrendered the outcome to Jefferson, Adams, on his last day in office, filled the Federal judiciary with Jefferson’s enemies, and then left town before Jefferson could be inaugurated. Their friendship seemed hopelessly damaged. In fact, they did not communicate again for over ten years.

Dr. Benjamin Rush of Philadelphia, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, worked through those years for a reconciliation between the two men who he called “the North and South Poles of the Revolution.”[ii] In the end Jefferson learned through Rush that despite their differences Adams still professed affection for him. Subsequently a letter correspondence was begun that spanned the remaining years of their lives. Adams wrote to Jefferson in 1813, “You and I, ought not to die, before We have explained ourselves to each other.”[iii] Their relationship once again blossomed into an intimate friendship.

What had separated these two men was an absolute certainty of the correctness of their own political ideas and a disregard for those of the other. The disregard in the end deteriorated to the point where each could only perceive the worst in the other. For the sake of their political ideas they allowed themselves, in a sense, to discount each other’s humanity. History is littered with countless similar episodes. In 1775, on the eve of the American Revolution, Benjamin Franklin wrote to his former friend William Straham, “You and I were long Friends : You are now my Enemy, and I am, Yours, B Franklin.”[iv]

The story of Adams and Jefferson is fitting for this Fourth of July, because our country is more divided now than at any time since the Vietnam era, and perhaps even since the eve of the Civil War. It is rather obvious that what these men hated was not each other, but each other’s ideas. We too have seen our civil society tattered by the collision of incompatible ideas. It is a clash of ideas, as this episode demonstrates, as old as the country itself.

For the most part our differences have, rather than leaving us weaker, been the bedrock of our strength as a people. There was only one occasion when the conflict of ideas became so hardened as to be insurmountable, and that occasion resulted in the Civil War. It should serve as a lesson that if we become unmovable in our self-righteousness we put the entire American experiment at risk. In 1800, Adams’ and Jefferson’s rivalry put the country at risk, but in the end a reluctant compromise saved the country. It was the inability to compromise that led to the opposite result in 1861.

Jefferson noted this as he assumed the Presidency after the bitter election of 1800. In his inaugural address, he was conciliatory.

[E]very difference of opinion is not a difference of principle. We have called by different names brethren of the same principle. We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists. If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it.[v]

He noted that though there was fierce disagreement it was over how best to serve the country. Americans need to remember that those who are our political opponents have the best interests of the country at heart, even if they seem woefully misguided. When we begin to deny the other the same love of country we have, then we reach the impasse we are in.

The United States, in some ways, has always been a diverse nation. As time has passed the nation has become ever more diverse, often through painful struggle. But the wisest among us recognize that diversity is our source of strength. We bring to the table every point of view, every culture, every religion, every ethnicity. Each brings a unique strength to what unites us: our devotion to enact the principles of the Revolution as expressed in our founding documents. And though there are those who fear more inclusion, we have become very skilled at celebrating diversity.

What we are not good at is celebrating our unity. As we rejoice in our differences we have lost sight of what binds us together. That is our humanity. If each of us can come to see that those we oppose politically are not our enemies but our friends, we can survive through these trying times, as we have in the past. In the end, what brought Adams and Jefferson back together was the recognition that they both loved the country, even if they could not agree on how best to express that love.

I leave you with the inaugural quote of another President in a time of deep division, on the eve of a cataclysm he could not prevent.

We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.[vi]

I wish the best celebration of independence for all who love the United States, no matter the beat of our different drums.

[i] Kerwin Swint, “Adams vs. Jefferson: The Birth of Negative Campaigning in the U.S.,” Mental Floss, September 9, 2012, 1, accessed July 2, 2017, http://mentalfloss.com/article/12487/adams-vs-jefferson-birth-negative-campaigning-us.

[ii] Benjamin Rush, “To John Adams from Benjamin Rush, 17 February 1812,” National Archives: Founders Online, September 17, 1812, accessed July 2, 2017, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Adams/99-02-02-5758..

[iii] John Adams, “John Adams to Thomas Jefferson, 15 July 1813, with Postscript from Abigail Adams to Thomas Jefferson, [ca. 15 July 1813],” National Archives: Founders Online, July 15, 1813, accessed July 2, 2017, https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/03-06-02-0247.

[iv] Benjamin Franklin, “From Benjamin Franklin to William Strahan, 5 July 1775,” National Archives: Founders Online, accessed July 2, 2017, http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Franklin/01-22-02-0052.

[v] Thomas Jefferson, “Thomas Jefferson First Inaugural Address,” The Avalon Project at Yale Law School, accessed July 2, 2017, http://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/jefinau1.asp.

[vi] Abraham Lincoln, “First Inaugural Address of Abraham Lincoln,” The Avalon Project at Yale Law School, accessed July 2, 2017, http://avalon.law.yale.edu/19th_century/lincoln1.asp.

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