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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
    • Gay Games Symposium July 21, 2014
      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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    • Quote of the Day December 6, 2016
      You can often see where a president-elect is going by his nominations to high positions in his forthcoming administration. Across over a dozen crucial posts, Mr. Trump has chosen war hawks, Wall Streeters (with a former Goldman Sachs partner, Steven Mnuchin, as his pick for Treasury Secretary) and clenched teeth corporatists determined to jettison life-savin […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Michael J. Bayly)
    • At Standing Rock and Beyond, Celebrating and Giving Thanks for a "Historic Decision" December 5, 2016
      Following is the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe’s statement on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' decision to not approve an easement (permit) that will allow the proposed Dakota Access Oil Pipeline to cross under Lake Oahe.Today, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that it will not be granting the easement to cross Lake Oahe for the proposed Dakota Ac […]
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    • Had One of My Church Dreams Last Night: An Advent Meditation December 3, 2016
      Had one of my church dreams last night. Church dreams are, for me, often painful ones involving tears (the impossibly distant altar I can see from high in the eyrie at the back of the church to which I've been consigned, but which I cannot reach at communion time). Or, they are the opposite, ecstatic ones involving singing and a gladdened heart.Last nig […]
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    • #NotNormal: Choosing Normalcy As the Not-Normal Prevails December 2, 2016
      This is what the end of democracy looks like pic.twitter.com/MmnUHE56AE— CJ Werleman (@cjwerleman) December 1, 2016In what is becoming an increasingly dark moment of global history, due to the determination of economic elites to pick one last time over the carcass of a defunct late-capitalist economic system built on the exploitation of the many to put more […]
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      My current blog is called the way ahead.
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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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    • President Trump November 10, 2016
      A very short reflection:Still absorbing the shock of the recent US elections - reflecting, meditating, praying for light and inspiration. Dark days ahead for Gay people in the US? Not to mention people of color, Muslims, Latinos?However, a number of commentators whom I respect have set some of my fears to rest.For any who are interested, here is Russ Baker a […]
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    • Pope Francis disappoints again December 8, 2016
      As I've often posted here before, Pope Francis is not a liberal but a conservative. Recently, he told the press that women would *never* be allowed to be priests in the church. Now he has reaffirmed the Vatican's ban on male priests being gay.The Pope Just Approved A Very Troubling Document On Gays And PriesthoodThe Vatican has reaffirmed its posit […]
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Cardinal Dolan’s Neocon Cheerleader

Originally posted at Talk to Action.

Since Pope Benedict announced his resignation  only one of the potential successors  (Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi) offers hope for a more moderate papacy. So while conservatives are unlikely to be disappointed, prominent American Catholic neo-con Michael Novak is rooting for Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York.  Indeed, if Novak’s one man dream team were to ascend to the Chair of Saint Peter, neo-conservatives like Novak would have the ability influence world events beyond their wildest dreams.  

And if Novak’s dream comes true it would certainly involve the kind of  state-based faith and buccaneer capitalism I have written a lot about.  As typical of many American neocons, Novak began his political odyssey on the Socialist Left but over time, lurched over to the neoconservative Right.  But he is still a revolutionary in search of a revolution.

Novak is a hyper-libertarian when it comes to money but leans towards collective state power on individual morality. And yet there is something profoundly hypocritical about complaining about any state -role in economics while advocating state directed and enforced neo-orthodox Catholic morality. When it comes to business it’s “laissez-faire”, but individuals including (maybe especially) non-Catholics should be coerced into Novak’s neo-Catholic orthodoxy by the long arm of the law.

We should remember that neo-conservatism is built upon a three-legged stool of nationalism (as opposed to patriotism); laissez-faire capitalism (as opposed to the New Deal legacy variety); and religious orthodoxy (as opposed to religious neutrality). It is with this in mind that I must wonder about Novak’s recent cheerleading for Cardinal Dolan to become the Church’s next pope.

While Novak did not mention Cardinal Dolan by name it isn’t difficult to figure out who he wants running things from Vatican City. The neocon “philosopher” has declared, “it’s time for an English speaking candidate to be considered for the post.” After this was pointed out to Cardinal Dolan in a recent interview, with the added proviso “Novak was also referring to the cultural contribution a U.S. Pope could make acting as a crossroads between European and Hispanic cultures” Dolan replied, “Novak is a very intelligent person and what he says always makes sense.”  

For all of his jovial outward appearances, Gotham’s prelate is a vicious culture warrior. For example, when the Opus Dei bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Robert Finn, was taking heat from the group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), he joined Bill Donohue and the Catholic League in waging a scorched earth campaign against them, designed to drain it of money while scaring potential victims from cooperating with SNAP.  Novak, it should be noted, serves on the Catholic League’s Board of Advisors, along with other Catholic neocons. The Cardinal has also gone to war against the Affordable Care Act while blunting Catholic criticism of GOP Congressman Paul Ryan’s Ayn Rand, libertarian-inspired budget plan.

While Dolan might be the neconservative’s man, Novak’s cheer leading for him is about more than the papacy.  

It is no secret that neo-conservatism has taken a big hit since the debacle of the Iraq War and the halcyon days of  the Bush administration.  Indeed, some of the more pointed criticism of the 2003 invasion has come from the Vatican. Beyond that, much to neocon chagrin even the Papacy of Benedict XVI has denounced the libertarian economics favored by the likes of Robert George, George Weigel and Mr. Novak himself.

Short and sweet:  having a pope who speaks their language sure would help the Catholic necons rebound out of the doldrums.

Cardinal Dolan, Bain Capital, and Archbishop Romero

Originally posted at Talk to Action.

The Republican Party is putting a Catholic face on the kick off of the Romney-Ryan campaign for the White House.  The face is none other than Cardinal Timothy Dolan, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops who will give the closing prayer at the Republican convention in Tampa.

While Dolan’s appearance broadly implies that  he supports Romney’s candidacy, it serves as a distraction from something the Republicans would rather we not know; or if we do, forget; and for those of us who will never forget, help ensure that we are never heard.  Thirty years ago Mitt Romney sought the financial backing of those who bankrolled the murder of priests, nuns and an archbishop.

When we see the face of Timothy Dolan at the GOP presidential nominating convention, there are other faces we also need to see:


These are the faces of four Catholic nuns murdered by El Salvadoran right-wing death squads in 1982.

And these:
The the faces of six Jesuit priests and two of their young assistants murdered by similar thugs.

And finally this face:

Archbishop Oscar Romero, who simply called for an end to the senseless killing.

These other Catholic faces are the faces of Catholicism at its very best: seeking justice for and reaching out to the marginalized with love and compassion.

But as Cole Stangler and Ryan Grimm recently reported for the Huffington Post when Mitt Romney sought start-up funds for Bain Capital, he went to the people who most benefited from, and perhaps most responsible for their murder.

In 1983, Bill Bain asked Mitt Romney to launch Bain Capital, a private equity offshoot of the successful consulting firm Bain & Company. After some initial reluctance, Romney agreed. The new job came with a stipulation: Romney couldn’t raise money from any current clients, Bain said, because if the private equity venture failed, he didn’t want it taking the consulting firm down with it.

When Romney struggled to raise funds from other traditional sources, he and his partners started thinking outside the box. Bain executive Harry Strachan suggested that Romney meet with a group of Central American oligarchs who were looking for new investment vehicles as turmoil engulfed their region.

The GOP presidential contender cannot, however, plead ignorance of his backers’ unsavory past:

Romney was worried that the oligarchs might be tied to “illegal drug money, right-wing death squads, or left-wing terrorism,” Strachan later told a Boston Globe reporter, as quoted in the 2012 book “The Real Romney.”  But, pressed for capital, Romney pushed his concerns aside and flew to Miami in mid-1984 to meet with the Salvadorans at a local bank.

As Stangler and Grim further reported, “The Central Americans provided roughly $9 million — 40 percent — of Bain Capital’s initial outside funding” adding, “they became valued clients.”

Prominent among these “valued clients” were members of the Salaverria family whose connections to the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA), founded by death-squad leader Roberto D’Aubuisson were established not only by Stangler and Grim, but by The Boston Globe and Los Angeles Times.

Before their execution, the four Maryknoll sisters were raped and tortured. Their bodies were then buried in a shallow grave. The six Jesuits were also tortured before they were murdered and left in the courtyard of their residence to serve as a warning to others who dared speak out against injustice and violence. Archbishop Romero was gunned down while saying Mass.

Cardinal Dolan and those on the Catholic Right who now bless the Romney campaign are depending on our forgetting the faces of the victims of Mitt Romney’s original investors.