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    • Gonna Stick My Sword in the Golden Sand September 15, 2014
      Gonna Stick My Sword in the Golden Sand: A Vietnam Soldier's Story has just been released. The title comes from a stanza of the gospel traditional, Down by the Riverside, with its refrain--"Ain't gonna study war no more." Golden Sand is a bold, dark, and intense retelling of the Vietnam experience through the eyes of an army scout that is […]
      Obie Holmen
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      I am pleased and honored that the UCC has asked me to moderate a symposium during the games entitled Queer Christians: Celebrating the Past, Shaping the Future. [[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]
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    • Two Exceptional Singers Take a Chance on the "Spirit of the Wind" February 25, 2017
      This evening for "music night" at The Wild Reed I share something very special: the recent collaboration of legendary singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie and Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq. Both women are past Polaris Music Prize winners, and the two teamed up to create the new recording “You Got To Run (Spirit Of The Wind)” as part of the second- […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Michael J. Bayly)
    • Something to Think About . . . February 23, 2017
      Related Off-site Links:Police Remove Last Standing Rock Protesters in Military-style Takeover – Julia Carrie Wong (The Guardian, February 23, 2017).We Have to Keep Fighting: Water Protectors Vow Continued Resistance to #DAPL as Main Camp is Evicted – Democracy Now! (February 23, 2017).Standing Rock is Burning – But Our Resistance Isn't Over – Julian Bra […]
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      My current blog is called the way ahead.
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    • Christmas at Litmanova December 29, 2016
      The Marian Shrine of Litmanova, Slovakia.Christmas 2017A forest chapel at the Slovakian Marian shrine of Litmanova.Stunning painting of the Sacred Heart inside the forest chapel.
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    • Not Our President November 16, 2016
      To hear the simplistic denial of those who scream out with naiveté “give Trump a chance” as they condemn others engaged in selfless protest against a certain political and social tsunami in the making, is to ignore his life-time public embrace of policies that tens of millions reject as not just destructive, but evil per se. They are not mistaken.Those in st […]
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    • Another World is Neccessary: Anarchism, Christianity and the Race from the White House July 30, 2008
      I’ll be presenting at the upcoming Jesus Radicals conference in Columbus, Ohio. My session (on the relationship between Church and State) will be on Friday afternoon. If you’re in the area, drop by. I’d love to meet some of the folks who frequent this site. Here’s the info: August 15-16, 2008 St. John’s Episcopal 1003 W Town Columbus, OH [...]ShareThis […]
      Mark Van Steenwyk
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    • Out in the yard February 25, 2017
      Walking around the yard with the cats ...Here's Lucy standing on a bunch of flower petals blown off the plum trees by the recent storms ...Here's some of the wet cardboard I use to staunch the leaks from the roof of the garage when it rains - hanging it out to dry ...Some periwinkles ...Gretel keeping me company ...The orange tree still has a few o […]
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Cardinal Burke Frenzy – Another Failure of the U.S. Media

As most already know, preceding the national conventions, “a high volume” of “positive media coverage … propelled Trump to the top of the Republican poll.” After the nominations became official, “Clinton and Trump’s coverage was virtually identical in terms of its negative tone. ‘Were the allegations surrounding Clinton of the same order of magnitude as those surrounding Trump?’” asks Thomas E. Patterson in a report from Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy.

While there is enough blame regarding 2016 polling to go around, as regards the Catholic vote, the Washington Post led with “Donald Trump has a massive Catholic problem” followed by the New York Times “Clinton Challenges Trump for a Traditional Republican Bloc, White Catholics.”

Both inferred that Pope Francis had an effect on U.S. Catholics that was detrimental to Trump. Both ignored that the PRRI polls (here and here) upon which they based their reporting showed that although Clinton led, support for Trump by white Catholics exceeded both the total electorate and white voters in general. Other polls reported that nearly two-thirds of Catholic registered voters are white and that “the IBD-TIPP daily tracking poll  – rated by Nate Silver as the most accurate national poll of the last presidential cycle in 2012 – consistently pointed to a Trump win among Catholics.” Continue reading

Betsy DeVos’s Mudsill View of Public Education

My Talk to Action colleague Rachel Tabachnick has been doing yeoman’s work in explaining Betsy DeVos’s long-term strategy for decimating universal public education. If you haven’t I strongly urge you to read her work, here, here, and here. DeVos, President Trump’s choice for Secretary of the Department of Education, is not there to strengthen that governmental agency but essentially, to destroy it. Indeed, her motives have been clear for a long time. DeVos’s family related philanthropies are longtime funders of Christian Right projects, particularly in the area of school privatization. Politico reports that DeVos has said her work in education is intended to “advance God’s kingdom.”

DeVos’s approach is one of the contemporary mindset that mixes libertarianism with the Christian Right agenda that has become dogma for contemporary conservatism. To that end, they claim that their approach is “liberty.” But another great American had a different term for it: Mudsill.

In a stunningly awful performance at here confirmation hearing before a select U.S. Senate committee, DeVos displayed an incredible lack of familiarity with basic terminology of educational principles. As senator after senator cross-examined her she exposed herself as a person unfit for her position.

Normally, this would be grounds for a president to withdraw her nomination. But it may be that she may be precisely the type of department head desired by many modern conservatives. DeVos has no interest in strengthening public education but in eviscerating it.

As Rachel Tabachnick observed:

[Dick] DeVos and his wife Betsy had already spent millions promoting voucher initiatives that were soundly rejected by voters. Pro-privatization think tanks had concluded that vouchers were the most politically viable way to “dismantle” public schools; the DeVoses persevered. Dick DeVos introduced his 2002 Heritage Foundation audience to a covert strategy to provide “rewards or consequences” to state legislators, learning from the activities of the Great Lake Education Project (GLEP) initiated by Betsy DeVos. Vouchers should be promoted by local “grass roots” entities and could not be “viewed as only a conservative idea.” DeVos added, “This has got to be the battle. It will not be as visible.”

There may be more than just an outright hostility towards public education at play here. Indeed, this is nothing less than libertarianism on steroids. I would suggest that this belief in private education is part of a more hierarchical, oligarchic conservatism. Contrary to the popular notion that conservatism is about independence it is in actuality more about creating a less knowledgeable working class.

As I have written in an earlier post:

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines a “mudsill” as 1. a supporting sill (as of a building or bridge) resting directly on a base and especially the earth; 2. a person of the lowest social level). The economic theory gets its name from an 1858 defense of slavery by South Carolina Senator James Henry Hammond.

“In all societies that must be a class to do the menial duties, to perform the drudgery of life,” Hammond declared. He further argued that this perennial underclass is necessary for the rest of society to move forward. He said that this class requires “a low order of intellect and but little skill. Its requisites,” he said, “are vigor, docility, fidelity.” Hammond insisted that such a class is necessary to support “that other class which leads progress, civilization, and refinement. It constitutes the very mud-sill of society and of political government; and you might as well attempt to build a house in the air, as to build either the one or the other, except on this mud-sill.”

This view of economics and government brings us back to the origins of the Mudsill theory, which was primarily a justification of slavery that, in turn, is the root of modern libertarianism. “Mudsillism” allows for the select few to use other human beings to generate wealth without providing just compensation. And although we don’t call it that, Mudsillism is resurgent in America as wages are stagnant or in decline despite the increases in worker productivity. Increasingly, average Americans work longer and harder while shareholders and executives are rewarded far beyond their contributions. And personal indebtedness to financial institutions replaces wages that, in turn, replaces liberty with dependence. Indeed, if libertarian economics were to prevail, the result would be local theocracies, restricted education, and the hierarchical economic castes.

And restricted education is a cornerstone element of Mudsillism. This is so self-evident that in a speech given in September 1859 Abraham Lincoln identified this threat. In that address Lincoln got right to the point:

By the “mud-sill” theory it is assumed that labor and education are incompatible; and any practical combination of them impossible. According to that theory, a blind horse upon a treadmill, is a perfect illustration of what a laborer should be–all the better for being blind, that he could not kick understandingly. According to that theory, the education of laborers, is not only useless, but pernicious and dangerous. In fact, it is, in some sort, deemed a misfortune that laborers should have heads at all. Those same heads are regarded as explosive materials, only to be safely kept in damp places, as far as possible from that peculiar sort of fire which ignites them. A Yankee who could invent strong handed man without a head would receive the everlasting gratitude of the “mud-sill” advocates.

Lincoln went on to attack Hammond’s Mudsill-based opposition to universal education. He observed, “According to that theory, the education of laborers, is not only useless, but pernicious and dangerous.” But Lincoln did not fear an educated working class. Indeed, he boldly enunciated what would become a core belief of contemporary liberalism, stating, “In one word Free Labor insists on universal education.”

Lincoln knew that in the absence of universal education, access to better knowledge and skills is a privilege accorded to the few who can afford to buy it, and that the result was greater economic inequality. This means that a greater segment is suited to only the most menial tasks. Doing away with public education is one of the surest ways to ensure that most less-affluent Americans become that “blind horse upon a tread-mill.”

And indeed privatization does make for a more ignorant working class. It doles the ability to think critically and make complex decisions. As a recent post in Bob Somerby’s Daily Howler website indicated, DeVos’s methods have had catastrophic results. Her methods were applied in the state of Michigan. And since those methods were introduced in 2002 student performance results dropped like a rock.

Let us heed Lincoln’s warning. What Betsy DeVos advocates is neither liberty nor freedom. It is not even an improvement in delivering educational services. It is instead, Mudsill – a direct route to making the American worker be nothing more than “a blind horse upon a treadmill.” But more importantly, it is precisely why Betsy DeVos has no business being the Secretary for the U.S. Department of Education.

How Much Does Trump Owe Pope Francis Now?

“Evangelicals helped Trump in states he was mostly going to win anyway. Catholics? Now we’re talking about Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. And that was the election.”

White Catholics voted 60% for Trump while he received only 46% of the national popular vote.

“Trump won the highest percentage of Catholic voters (52%) for a Republican candidate since 2004. White Catholics supported Trump by a wide, 23-point margin (60% to 37%). Both white and Latino Catholics cast more ballots for Trump than for Romney in 2012.”

Despite much inaccurate reporting, every poll that included the respondent’s religion conducted during the campaign showed Catholics choosing Trump at percentages higher than the general electorate. (See also here, here and here.)

Evangelicals “went overwhelmingly for Trump, but that was also true in 2012 when they weren’t even sure Romney was Christian. They aren’t the swing voters. Catholics, on the other hand, were plus-2 for Obama in 2012 and plus-7 for Trump this year.” Continue reading

Informed about sex abuse of disabled children, Pope Francis did nothing

At least 22 children were sexually abused by two priests at a school for youths with hearing disabilities in Argentina, an investigating prosecutor said Monday.

Police arrested 82-year old priest Nicola Corradi, 55-year-old priest Horacio Corbacho, and three other men last week. They are accused of sexual and physical child abuse at the Antonio Provolo Institute in northwestern Mendoza province ….

Corradi earlier had been accused in Italy of sexually abusing students at the Provolo Institute in Verona, a notorious school for the deaf where hundreds of children are believed to have been sexually assaulted over the years by two dozen priests and religious brothers ….

The association of Provolo victims in Italy wrote to Pope Francis on December 31, 2013, asking for assistance for the victims there, saying they still received no form of solidarity or support, even after the Vatican concluded they had been abused in 2012 ….

[I have deleted a sentence as it was later confirmed as inaccurate and the Washington Post article I cited has been removed. However, the rest of this article is accurate.] The Provolo group provided the AP with the letter from the Vatican dated February 5, 2016, in which the Vatican said it had forwarded the request to the Italian bishops’ conference, saying it was up to them to investigate.

“Words fail. It is appalling and heartbreaking that Corradi was not stopped by Pope Francis or by other Church authorities. Corradi’s presence at the school in Mendoza was no secret,” said Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of BishopAccountability.

“Thanks to the Church’s inaction, Corradi appears to have been able to replicate exactly the grotesque situation he enjoyed in Verona – a ring of child molesters in charge of utterly defenseless children who could neither hear nor speak. If the allegations are true, the pope must accept responsibility for the unimaginable suffering of these new victims.”

 

(Betty Clermont is author of The Neo-Catholics: Implementing Christian Nationalism in America and “Duped by the Media on Pope Francis, Progressives Wonder How Republicans Get Elected.”)

With an Estimated $17B in Assets, Pope Francis Creates a “Day of the Poor”

The Vatican’s securities, commercial real estate and bank accounts are estimated at $16-18 billion, its bureaucrats are still engaged in financial fraud, corruption and possible money laundering and most of the donations to the pope for charity are withheld from the poor.

On Nov. 20, Pope Francis created an annual observance for a “Day of the Poor.” In an interview broadcast that same evening, he declared, “One must always struggle for a poor Church for the poor, according to the Gospel.”

An April 2015 article in the Italian financial news, Il Sole 24 Ore, stated the assets – securities, commercial real estate and bank accounts – of all the Vatican departments and offices combined “by a conservative estimate” would be around 15-17 billion euro (approx. $16-18 billion). No outsider can be sure because Pope Francis hides almost all his fortune from any independent audits or disclosures. Continue reading

Catholic Bishops Doing a Happy Dance – For Now

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), “looks forward to working with President-elect Trump to protect human life from its most vulnerable beginning, [a] commitment to domestic religious liberty, ensuring people of faith remain free to proclaim the truth about man and woman [anti-transgender dogwhistle], and the unique bond of marriage that they can form …. We are firm in our resolve that our brothers and sisters who are migrants and refugees can be humanely welcomed without sacrificing our security.”

Much of this echoes the Vatican’s statement that “points of dialogue” with Trump will include “internal [domestic] subjects such as religious freedom, Catholics’ commitment and attention to the most vulnerable bands of society.”

Martin R. Castro, chairman of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, recently stated: “The phrases ‘religious liberty’ and ‘religious freedom’ will stand for nothing except hypocrisy so long as they remain code words for discrimination, intolerance, racism, sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, Christian supremacy or any form of intolerance.” Continue reading

Vatican Will “Dialogue” with Trump on Anti-Gay and Anti-Women Issues

Pope Francis’ right-hand man, Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin, said on Thursday that “points of dialogue” between the Vatican and Trump will include peace and “internal [domestic] subjects such as religious freedom and Catholics’ commitment and attention to the most vulnerable bands of society.”

“Religious freedom” is the euphemism justifying anti-gay discrimination. “Most vulnerable” is a common phrase used in anti-abortion rhetoric. Continue reading