Archive for the ‘Donald Trump’ Tag

Political Empathy and Wisdom (and the Absence Thereof)   2 comments

On the Duty of a President of the United States to Be the Consoler-in-Chief

May we praise those elected officials and candidates for elective office who act wisely and with empathy as we condemn those who act to the contrary.  And, when the time to decide for whom to vote arrives, may we reckon wisdom and empathy as credit to those who possess them, just as we properly lambaste and vote against those who lack them.

I realize that empathy is not a constitutional requirement for Presidents of the United States, but I also argue that voters the right to insist upon it.  Presidents with whom I have generally agreed with with whom I have generally disagreed have mastered the role of Consoler-in-Chief.  In the wake of a hurricane in New Orleans, Louisiana, Lyndon Baines Johnson carried a flash light one night and knocked on doors, to greet his fellow citizens in distress.  Ronald Reagan consoled the nation after the explosion of the Challenger.  He used Peggy Noonan’s words, of course, but he had empathy.  Besides, Presidents have had speech writers for a long time.  Bill Clinton was a fine Consoler-in-Chief after the terrorist attack on the federal building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  Barack Obama led the congregation in “Amazing Grace” at Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Charleston, South Carolina, after the racist shooting there.  Excelling as Consoler-in-Chief used to be a standard part of being the President of the United States.

Donald Trump is a self-absorbed and immature little man.  He should think about the country and the world first, not about himself.  The contrast between he and Joseph Biden is stark.  Biden, who has buried his first wife and some of this children, understands grief.  When he says he knows grief, he speaks accurately.  He also speaks with empathy.  Biden looks presidential.  He is already the Consoler-in-Chief.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 28, 2020 COMMON ERA

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“The Buck Stops Here.”   Leave a comment

Above:  Former President Harry Truman Posing with His Famous Sign

Image in the Public Domain

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Who remembers when Presidents of the United States accepted responsibility for the actions of their administrations?

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 18, 2020 COMMON ERA

Posted May 18, 2020 by neatnik2009 in Political Statements 2020

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Dr. Fauci, Public Servant   Leave a comment

Dr. Anthony Fauci is a dedicated public servant, an expert in public health, and a teller of the truth.  He is a teller of uncomfortable and inconvenient truths.  He seeks to save as many lives as possible.  Fauci deserves as much support and praise as possible, especially during the Coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic.

Donald Trump and his lackeys in some media outlets oppose Fauci.  Trump wants Fauci fired.  Rush Limbaugh and others are trying to discredit the good doctor.  Trump would be happiest if only sycophants surrounded him as he evades his responsibility for his decisions.  This tendency works against the common good.

I sympathize with the desire for the pandemic and social distancing to end.  I want many people to be able to get back to work immediately, but safely.  When governments lift necessary disease-related restrictions prematurely, diseases return.  I also want public policy to have its roots in objective reality and to be responsible regarding human lives.  Is that too much to ask?

I hope not.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 13, 2020 COMMON ERA

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Governance and Rhetoric, Responsible and Irresponsible, in the Age of COVID-19   Leave a comment

The following statement should never be controversial, but it is, unfortunately.

NO PUNDIT OR PUBLIC OFFICIAL SHOULD CONTRADICT THE BEST EVIDENCE OF MEDICINE AND PUBLIC HEALTH DURING THIS PANDEMIC.

Yet some do.  This week, a Congressman from Alaska, addressing elderly people, dismissed Coronavirus as a “beer virus.”  Donald Trump, after having initially dismissed the threat of COVID-19, has continued to contradict medical and public health experts and to lie about related matters, from treatments to his own documented track record.  He knew about the threat in January and February, but dismissed it.  Recently, however, he has insisted that he has always taken the threat seriously.

As John Adams said during a trial in the 1770s,

Facts are stubborn things.

This is especially true in times of recording technology.

Besides, what passes for Trump’s character is unseemly, racist, nativistic, xenophobic, and unfit for public office, especially during a crisis.  He likes to claim credit for what he has not done and to evade responsibility for what he has done.  He dislikes objective reality, fosters a cult of personality, thinks that people should be loyal to him (not the United States and its Constitution), prefers dictators to democratic leaders, and encourages objectively false conspiracy theories.  The man is a threat to the United States of America and the world.  The Constitution works only when people in a position to make it work act to make it work.  I, a Consitutionalist, call upon people to act accordingly.

This is a time at which we Americans should be able to trust what the President of the United States says.  Unfortunately, we have Il Duce with bad hair.

I live in Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, a unified government.  (The City of Athens merged with Clarke County.)  When Mayor Kelly Girtz releases a video message (available on YouTube), I believe him, for he bases his statements and decisions on objective reality.  The unified government is consulting medical and public health officials then taking their advice.  My local government is governing as it should–responsibly–during this pandemic.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 21, 2020 COMMON ERA

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Feast of Alfred C. Marble, Jr. (April 4)   Leave a comment

Above:  The Flag of The Episcopal Church

Photograph by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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ALFRED CLARK “CHIP” MARBLE, JR. (APRIL 4, 1936-MARCH 30, 2017)

Episcopal Bishop of Mississippi then Assisting Bishop of North Carolina

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If ever there was a saint who understood that the work of reconciliation is the work of evangelism, it was Chip Marble.

–Bishop Anne Hodges-Copple, Diocese of North Carolina

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The Episcopal Church has a rule of waiting for about half a century before adding someone to its calendar of saints.  The denomination also makes exceptions to that rule, but it does let a considerable amount of time pass, even in those cases (Jonathan Myrick Daniels and Martin Luther King, Jr., mainly).  I understand why such rules exist for denominational calendars of saints.  This, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, is a hobby, however.  I am ready, willing, and able to engage in nearly instantaneous canonization.

Alfred Clark “Chip” Marble, Jr., for whom civil rights and economic justice were essential elements of faith, became an Episcopal priest.  He, born in Oreonta, New York, on April 4, 1936, studied at the University of Mississippi, The School of Theology of the The University of the South, and the University of Edinburgh.  Our saint, ordained to the Sacred Order of Deacons in 1967 then to the priesthood the following year, served in five congregations in the Diocese of Mississippi, as well as at the student chaplaincy at the University of Mississippi.  Marble also spent eight years as the Assistant to the Bishop of East Carolina, B. Sidney Sanders (in office 1983-1996).

Marble joined the ranks of bishops in 1991.  He served under Bishop Duncan Montgomery Gray, Jr. (1926-2016), as the Bishop Coadjutor of Mississippi from 1991 to 1993.  Then Marble succeeded Gray as the Bishop of Mississippi, serving for about a decade (1993-2003).  Our saint, after retiring, served as the Assisting Bishop of North Carolina from 2005 to 2013.  He served under Michael Curry, then the Bishop of North Carolina, and currently the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church.

Throughout his ministry Marble worked for justice for the poor as well as for racial reconciliation.  As the struggle for civil rights expanded to include legal equality (per the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America) for homosexuals, Marble opposed discrimination against them, too.  He also advocated for immigrants, a frequently despised and scapegoated population.

Marble conducted much of his work for reconciliation in Greensboro, North Carolina.  He worked with the Beloved Community Center and the National Association for the Advancement for Colored People (N.A.A.C.P.).  Our saint also helped to found and lead the Greensboro Faith Leaders Council, an interfaith and interracial organization.  Furthermore, Marble helped to establish the Greensboro Truth and Reconciliation Commission (2004-2006), which sought the truth about and reconciliation regarding the “Greensboro Massacre” of November 3, 1979.  On that date members of the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi (or, as Donald Trump would say, as he did of violent white supremacists in 2017,

some very fine people),

killed some protesters and wounded others.  All-white juries acquitted the killers.

(Really, if one chooses not to resist describing white supremacists, especially criminally violent ones who use chants such as, “The Jews will not replace us,”, in such glowing terms, is one not far gone, morally?)

Marble, aged 80 years, died in Greensboro on March 30, 2017.  His wife (Diene), their two children, and other relatives survived him.  Our saint, surrounded by family, died at home.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

FEBRUARY 3, 2020 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINTS ANSKAR AND RIMBERT, ROMAN CATHOLIC ARCHBISHOPS OF HAMBURG-BREMEN

THE FEAST OF ADELAIDE ANNE PROCTER, ENGLISH POET AND FEMINIST

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALFRED DELP, GERMAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST AND MARTYR, 1945

THE FEAST OF JEMIMA THOMPSON LUKE, ENGLISH CONGREGATIONALIST HYMN WRITER; AND JAMES EDMESTON, ANGLICAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF SAMUEL DAVIES, AMERICAN PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

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God of compassion, you have reconciled us in Jesus Christ, who is our peace:

Enable us to live as Jesus lived, breaking down walls of hostility and healing enmity.

Give us grace to make peace with those from whom we are divided,

that, forgiven and forgiving, we may be one in Christ;

who with you and the Holy Spirit reigns for ever, one holy and undivided Trinity.  Amen.

Genesis 8:12-17, 20-22

Psalm 51:1-17

Hebrews 4:12-16

Luke 23:32-43

Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 737

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Feast of Pedro Arrupe (February 28)   2 comments

Above:  Logo of the Society of Jesus

Image in the Public Domain

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PEDRO ARRUPE GONDRA (NOVEMBER 14, 1907-FEBRUARY 5, 1991)

Advocate for the Poor and Marginalized

Superior General of the Society of Jesus

Pedro Arrupe comes to this, A Great Cloud of Witnesses:  An Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days, via Father Joe Nangle, OFM, writing in Jim Wallis and Joyce Hollyday, eds., Cloud of Witnesses (2005).

Pedro Arrupe Gondra, born in Bilbao, Spain, on November 14, 1907, was a Basque, like St. Ignatius (of) Loyola (1491-1556), the founder of the Society of Jesus.  Arrupe, who joined the Jesuits in 1927, studied medicine in Madrid.  He continued his studies overseas, starting in 1932, when the Spanish Republican government expelled members of the Society of Jesus.  Our saint arrived in Japan, as a missionary, in 1938.  He, ordained to the priesthood in St. Marys, Kansas, in 1936, held a doctorate in medical ethics.

Arrupe understood the relationship between the Gospel and societal responsibility; he absorbed the message of various Hebrew prophets regarding exploitation of the poor and the marginalized.  Our saint, arrested as an alleged spy in December 1941, spent 33 days in prison.  Then he returned to his duties as master of novices for the Jesuit mission to Japan.  He, living on the outskirts of Hiroshima, joined his colleagues in serving as first responders after the U.S. nuclear bombing of the city on August 6, 1945.  Of the 150 people to which Arrupe and company tended, 149 survived.  Arrupe, regardless of where he was, recognized Jesus in “the least of these.”  This attitude helped him in his work, regardless of his title and duties.  Our saint became the Superior of the Jesuit Japanese Province in 1958.  From 1965 to 1983, he served as the Superior General of the order.

Vatican II was reshaping the Roman Catholic Church.  That Council coincided within a movement within Roman Catholicism in Latin America to defend the poor and the exploited, not military dictatorships that preyed on civilians.  The teaching of the divine preference for the poor informed this shift.  Arrupe challenged Christians, including his brother Jesuits, to defend “the least of these,” as Jesus would have had them do.  In a revolutionary age in the Church, our saint supported Liberation Theology, but only to a point.  Arrupe insisted on the primacy of the Gospel over political revolution.  He also shielded the Society of Jesus from attacks from more conservative quarters of the Roman Catholic Church.  As Jesuit priests and bishops, including Father Rutilio Grande (1928-1977) and Archbishop Oscar Romero (1917-1980), joined the ranks of martyrs at the hands of brutal dictatorships, Arrupe continued to support he cause for which they died.

Arrupe, being an intellectually and spiritually honest Christian, also defended the rights of refugees.  He, affected by the plight of Vietnamese boat people, founded the Jesuit Refugee Service in 1980.  Our saint insisted,

Saint Ignatius called us to go anywhere where we are most needed for the greater glory of God.  The spiritual as well as the material need of more than 16 million refugees throughout the world today could scarcely be greater.  God is calling us through these helpless people.

Arrupe, who said that

the love of God which does not issue in justice is a farce,

resigned as Superior General in 1983.  He had suffered a stroke in late 1981, and a Papal appointee had served as interim Superior General.  Our saint, forced to use a wheelchair, died in Rome on February 15, 1991.  He was 83 years old.

The cause for Arrupe’s beatification and canonization opened officially on February 5, 2019.

Attempting to read the minds of dead people can easily become an act of great folly.  In this case, however, I know what Arrupe would say about the global refugee crisis in 2019.  I do not have to guess what he would think about Donald Trump’s policy of separating families at the U.S.-Mexican border.  Neither do I have to guess what our saint would say about Trump’s recommendation to shoot asylum seekers in the legs.  I do not have to guess what Arrupe would say about government policies that enrich the wealthy and keep the impoverished poor.

Pedro Arrupe was a prophet.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 5, 2019 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF DAVID NITSCHMANN, SR., “FATHER NITSCHMANN,” MORAVIAN MISSIONARY; MELCHIOR NITSCHMANN, MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND MARTYR, 1729; JOHANN NITSCHMANN, JR., MORAVIAN MISSIONARY AND BISHOP; ANNA NITSCHMANN, MORAVIAN ELDRESS; AND DAVID NITSCHMANN, MISSIONARY AND FIRST BISHOP OF THE RENEWED MORAVIAN CHURCH

THE FEAST OF CYRIACUS SCHNEEGASS, GERMAN LUTHERAN MINISTER, MUSICIAN, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF BLESSED FRANCIS XAVIER SEELOS, GERMAN-AMERICAN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF HARRY EMERSON FOSDICK, U.S. NORTHERN BAPTIST MINISTER AND OPPONENT OF FUNDAMENTALISM

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Almighty God, whose prophets taught us righteousness in the care of your poor:

By the guidance of your Holy Spirit, grant that we may

do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly in your sight;

through Jesus Christ, our Judge and Redeemer, who lives and reigns

with you and the same Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

Isaiah 55:11-56:1

Psalm 2:1-2, 10-12

Acts 14:14-17, 21-23

Mark 4:21-29

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), 736

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A Statement of Political Principles for These Times   1 comment

(AND FOR ALL OTHER TIMES, TOO)

No political party should become a cult of personality.

In a republic, nobody should be above the law.

Respect objective reality at all times.

Do not bear false witness.

One should accept responsibility for one’s actions.

No President of the United States should have business-related conflicts of interest while in office.

No President of the United States should behave as a bully.

No President of the United States should speak or write of political opposition as treason.

No President of the United States should question the freedom of the press, even supposedly in jest.

No President of the United States should sow chaos and bigotry.

No President of the United States should disregard science.

No President of the United States should seek to win politically by dividing the public.

No President of the United States should encourage or pressure a foreign government to interfere in a U.S. election.

No President of the United States is more important than the United States.

No President of the United States should be slow to condemn neo-Nazis then express regret over having issued such a condemnation.

Here I stand; I will not say or write otherwise.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 26, 2019 COMMON ERA

Posted September 26, 2019 by neatnik2009 in Political Statements 2019

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Nobody Should Be Above the Law.   Leave a comment

The following two statements are principles I affirm:

  1. Nobody should be above the law, and
  2. Mercy should temper justice.

In other words, sometimes mercy on a person, such as a battered woman, should mitigate how one handles a technical violation in the judicial system.  Making someone more of a victim is unjust.

Even though Boo Radley attacked Bob Ewell in defense of the children, the sheriff made the correct decision by declaring that Ewell fell on his own knife.

Justice also conquers cynical abuses of power and dismissal of objective reality as “fake news” and of honest, legal investigations by men of sterling character as “witch hunts.”  In the United States of America, nobody should be above the law.  The legal theory of the President as a unitary executive above the law, which found a home in the White House during the administration of George W. Bush, thrives again.  The theory is inherently specious.

Nobody should be above the law, but, practically speaking, some people are.  I refer to cases that tug at the heartstrings–cases in which arresting and/or prosecuting people would be to victimize victims further–but to the powerful who, through their perfidy and corruption, damage lives and societal and political institutions, who undermine republics, and seek to evade the proper consequences of their actions.

In the United States, a sufficient number of people can hold them to account via constitutional and legal means.  May they do so.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 25, 2019 COMMON ERA

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Contemptible   Leave a comment

Donald Trump is contemptible.  His contempt for the freedom of the press is old news.  His racism, xenophobia, misogyny, and nativism are also old news.  Now they are fresh news because of some more tweets directed at women of color (almost all of them native-born citizens, so how can they go back where they came from?) who disagree with him.  Trump thinks that real Americans agree with and support him.  “Real Americans, ” then, are a minority population.

I know the feeling of hearing that I am allegedly not a real American–not a real patriot, at least.  As I have written at this weblog, the administration is not the nation-state.  There is a higher loyalty–adherence to the highest ideals, such as toleration of peaceful dissent.  Official violations of that high ideal in the United States is at least as old as the Sedition Act of 1798.  Political labeling of the other side as unpatriotic, un-American, et cetera, is both old and current.  It is especially rampant during wartime, when peace activists become targets of jingoisitic attacks.  I take great offense at all suggestions that my peaceful dissent makes me less American, un-American, less patriotic, or unpatriotic.

I am convinced that, if Trump thought Congress would pass a modern-day counterpart to the Sedition Act of 1798, which criminalized, among other things, criticism of the President, he would push for it then sign the bill into law.  (Trump does like dictators, after all.  Life for him would be easier if he were one.)  Lindsey Graham would vote for the bill, too.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 15, 2019 COMMON ERA

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Oh, the Irony!   Leave a comment

Chris Thile, host of Life from Here (formerly A Prairie Home Companion), said that the only soft and tender thing to come out of the City of New York was Donald Trump’s ego.  That soft and tender ego has long been on display.  Recently, when certain members of United States team at the Women’s World Cup expressed their opinions of him and said they would reject any invitation to visit the White House, the Big Blustery Baby criticized them for their lack of respect.  The irony was rich!  Trump has risen to high office primarily on his policy, which I summarize in the Anglo-Saxon expression,

Up yours.

No politician who builds campaigns on contempt (in Trump’s case, xenophobia, nativism, racism, et cetera) has a moral right to complain when people have contempt for him.  (Being the target of contempt comes with public office.  One who cannot stand the heat should stay out of the kitchen.  As Harry Truman said, anyone who wants a friend in Washington, D,C., should get a dog.) Trump could change his personality and respect people, but I am not holding my breath; I would die of asphyxiation.  He is reaping what he has sown and continues to sow.

I want the following statement to be clear:  I respect many people (including politicians) with whom I usually disagree.  I am a student of history; I respect many deceased people with whom I usually disagree.  Respect is something a person earns by having proper character.  As much as I have much respect for many people (living or deceased) with whom I usually disagree, I have little or no respect for many people (living or deceased) with whom I usually agree.  I strive to avoid being a partisan hack.

Here endeth the lesson.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 7, 2019 COMMON ERA