There has been no other time in recent American history that has deserved the appellation of American crucible.
A perfect storm of economic, political and international forces has descended on the nation when it has been at its most vulnerable since 1941.
And unfortunately the man in the White House has the presidential stature of a James Buchanan or a Jimmy Carter.
By that I mean, weak, unfocused and without a clue as what to do as the leader of the once free world.
A Middle East that is a tinder box of militant Islam notwithstanding, the most compelling issues have been economic.
The president seems to have slept through the past presidential election, when his party suffered one of the most devastating defeats in American political history.
If his recent proposed budget is any indication, his economic expertise was fostered in some Eastern Marxist school of self-destruction.
After three years of historic deficits that added $4.5 trillion to the national debt the hope was that this reform-minded president had seen the light and was prepared to seriously address the nation’s serious fiscal short-comings.
While the president has been practicing the talk in front of his legendary tele-prompter, his walk was caught on a treadmill of incompetency.
The White House budget–and don’t forget this budget is merely his suggestion because according to the Constitution, all revenue bills must begin in the House–is spilling over with an addition $1.645 trillion in new debt. for 2011, due mainly to Obama’s new surge in spending, which will absorb 25.3% of the GDP.
According to the Wall Street Journal this amounts to more spending in any year since 1945.
Federal debt held by the public–the kind we have to pay back–projects to be at 75.1% of GDP in 2012, which is the highest since 1951.
According to the WSJ in 2007 it stood at roughly half this amount.
I think the president’s ability to accumulate enormous debt proves that his government retail therapy is about to overdose on steroids.
Although the White House trumpets an alleged $2.18 trillion in deficit reduction over the next 10 years, the actual savings are so far out in the future that they appear as a dot on the horizon.
More than 95% of Obama’s alleged savings will occur months after his first term is over and about 65% after 2016.
The WSJ calls this Budget Flim-flam 101.
His budget ignores every recommendation of his own deficit commission.
Its Democratic co-chairman, Erskine Bowles said recently that this budgets goes nowhere near where they will have to go to resolve our fiscal nightmare.
The Obama budget does not cut a red cent from the deficit in the remaining seven months of the current fiscal year.
As for the country’s largest expenditures Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security–the so-called third rails of politics, which account for about 60% of our total budget expenditures, the proposed savings are close to zero.
And if the past is any prologue for the future, I will bet on their never materializing.
Of course Mr. Obama is much smarter than his public performances indicate.
He is a seasoned politician who knows more about getting elected than governing.
His vain attempt at reform and his failed leadership masks the stark reality that all the hard decisions of actual fiscal reform will be left to the House leadership.
They are the ones who will have to clean up Obama’s mess and in the course of their real reform, they might make certain he will win a second term.
Many of the programs that will have to be cut are kin to large groups of vested interests, each with its own team of lobbyists.
As the movie said years ago, there will be blood and it is more than likely it will be Republican blood.
The budget plan now emerging from House Republicans projects $80 billion in cuts immediately and $280 billion over three years, some 20x’s Obama’s plan.
And Obama’s budgets rests on the seriously faulty pillars of a projected 4% rate in annual economic growth, which is far more robust than anything his recovery has produced so far.
His economic projections have as much validity as random numbers tacked to a wall by darts.
His budget also includes more of his favorite things–new taxes.
This poor excuse for economic leadership and control includes almost $300 billion in new taxes on the usual suspects— energy companies, multinationals, and banks,
I wonder how this will affect his 4% annual growth projections.
The sad fact that makes this such a scary situation is that for the last 40-50 years, the nation has changed from one of hard work and responsibility to one of rights and entitlements–often at the expense of the next two or three generations.
As President Obama stealthily waits in ambush, the Republicans’ mettle will be severely tested these next 18 months.
The good news according to WSJ is that most American people want a president who will lead them.
Obama’s abject and cynical failure to heed the warnings of 2010 may help Republicans make their case in 2012.
If they don’t, no one else will!
Anyone know any good jokes? Any good Catholic jokes?
There is something distinctively Catholic about comedy, good humor and story telling.
The 14th century Italian poet, Dante Alighieri referred to the nine circles of Hell in his classic The Divine Comedy.
To the ordinary reader this makes the term comedy seem like a misnomer.
Since the Renaissance comedy has revolved around the banalities of everyday life while tragedy was dealt with heroes in pursuit of honor, love, or patriotism.
Tragic figures maintain their honor but usually die in the process while comic figures lose their dignity but live to tell the tale.
At the heart of all comedy is humor. Humor is a citizen of two worlds.
While it is anchored in this world, humor ultimately looks to the heavens above in anticipation of the next world.
In laughing one must hold his sides while looking upward at the Divine Toastmaster.
Humor can be uplifting, derisive, and bawdy. It can be self-effacing, intellectual, whimsical, and puerile.
It ranges from the clownish pratfalls of a Chevy Chase to the delicate nuances of a Shakespearean witticism.
Chase’s pratfalls on Saturday Night Live probably cost Gerald Ford his re-election. in 1976. In one he nearly killed himself trying to mimic the president in the voting booth.
Chase actually fell off the NBC stage and broke a couple of ribs.
Years later he had to detox at–get this–the Betty Ford Center in California.
What great irony is that!
While laughter is the outward appreciation of life, it involves an inner assent to God’s creation.
To a secular America devoutly religious people seem to lack a sense of humor.
With their visible puritanical resignation to life’s trials, religious people can easily lose sight of the legitimate earthly joys and pleasures that God has designed for them.
With one’s eyes permanently downcast, it is too easy to fall prey to the Manichean trap that condemns all earthly fun in the name of piety and salvation.
A sense of humor is a necessity for one to be a good Catholic.
A church that cannot laugh at itself will not be able to serve its flock properly.
The Catholic sense of humor relies on the thinking and attitudes that make us distinctively Catholic.
A good example might be a joke I chose to tell for speech class when I was in high school.
A little boy, the sixth of nine children was feeling restless at his baby sister’s baptismal.
When he wouldn’t behave, his father sternly warned him: Timmy if you don’t stop it, we wont bring you next year!
Humor is God’s gift to a humanity that takes its pride in large doses.
Laughter is the ontological opposite of pride, which is taking oneself so seriously that it obscures the image of God in the human soul.
One need only be reminded of the fall of man in the Garden of Eden.
The first parents thought that they were God’s equals, only to find out later that the joke has been on them and their descendants ever since.
In The Passion of the Christ, amid the bloody carnage of Jesus’ graphic suffering and violent death, director Mel Gibson flashed back to Jesus as a young carpenter, frolicking with and teasing his mother Mary who revealed her own dry sense of humor.
Gibson’s film was unlike any other depictions of Jesus’ life and death.
Too often filmmakers and the religiously devout are so awe-stricken by Jesus’ Divinity that they forget His humanity.
Life without laughter, even Jesus’ is like a day without sunshine.
Just as human love can reflect Divine love, humor can transcend man’s mortal boundaries and provide a glimpse of God’s Divinity.
Laughter is just the tease, the psychological rush that will prepare God’s faithful servants for an eternal basking in the warmth of His Divine smile.
On his highly popular 1950’s TV show, Life Is Worth Living Series, Bishop Fulton J. Sheen reminded his viewers that humor is really about child’s play.
Jesus told his followers whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Mt. 18:1-4)
He also stressed that unless you become like children, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Mt. 19:13-15) I believe that the face of a laughing or smiling child is a reflection of the face of God.
With a childlike gleam of anticipation in his radiant eyes, Bishop Sheen once ended his program with his fervent prayer that enlisted his audience to look for me in the nursery of Heaven!
Editor’s Note: Please feel free to send your favorite Catholic or religious jokes to my comments page on this post and get your friends to do likewise. Get those endorphins flowing.
At first glance a reader might think I was writing about the so-called religious right, or maybe even the Muslim push to rule America by its repressive Sharia laws.
No, I am writing about liberalism’s 100 years war against the traditional culture of the United States that is as repressive and destructive to the American way of freedom as either of the other two other religious extremes.
Firstly, I must point out that liberalism is not just the anti-religion but a religion unto itself.
The reason I say that is because the basic definition of religion is man and his relationship to a Superior being.
Even the pagan religions bowed to the natural gods of the sun, the moon, the forces of weather and sometimes natural rock formations.
Though primitive in form, they all recognized that they had to show respect for the power and the majesty of nature.
With the coming of Jesus Christ and the foundation of the Christian Church with its long history of schism, separation and fragmentation, by the 19th century the religious instinct had submerged itself in doubt, skepticism and virtual denial.
These organizational traumas gave rise to an atheistic way of thinking that not only denied God of the Jews and the Christians but sought to replace Him with a new religion of man.
For want of a better name, Marxism is that new religion of man, replete with its own orthodoxy, rules, regulations and superior attitude.
And what has been the cost to mankind?
It was Marxism, whose philosophy had emanated from the ashes of 18th century French society, that led to a century of human destruction, unparalleled in the history mankind.
Ever since the proponents of the universal idea of a progressive evolving state that will eventually fade away when the human and secular utopia finally becomes a reality.
The late Father John Hardon, S. J. was a self-taught expert on Marxism.
He first began reading Marx when he was 14 years old.
Members of his family have died under Communism in the profession of their Catholic faith.
He says that the best single source in understanding Communism is the Marx and Engels’ the Communist Manifesto.
When President Obama is attacking the rich, the wealthy and all those who earn more than $250,000 a years, people should be aware that it was Karl Marx speaking through the president.
The Manifesto helped to establish governmental policies that undermine and reduce the human freedom to acquire and retain private property, through the Estate Tax and the Progressive Income tax.
Father Hardon has reduced the collective effect that Marxist thinking to 15 different sections.
Since not all of them relate to the concept of a Marxist religion, I will limit my post to those that fit my Taliban theme.
The best single analysis of Marxism is the encyclical on Atheistic Communism by Pope Pius XI, in which he identifies Marxism as a Utopian Messianism.
According to Marx mankind should look forward to arrival of a Messianic society in this world, which they believe is the highest ideal that mankind can work toward.
In the wake of the election of Barack Obama in 2008, this idea seems to have materialized for commentators like Chris Matthews, and others, who spoke of Obama as being the Messiah who would carry them into their secular Utopia of universal equality and fair play.
But their Marxist Messiah had no connection to God or and after life.
This Messiah had the religious trimmings of a secular saint, who miraculously appeared to lead his Party to the Promised Land of eternal electoral power.
Our time has come cried president-elect Obama.
The left’s messiah had arrived to complete the dismissal of organized religions from the public marketplace and replace them with an autocratic secular philosophy that has no need or want for a God above.
With religious superstitions out-of-the-way, the left was free to speed ahead with their utopian goal of insuring man’s perfectibility on earth.
In truth their thinking is based on the perversion of the religious principle that man’s desire for happiness will be fulfilled on earth in some future generation of history.
Whereas Christianity has taught individual salvation for nearly 2000 years, Marxism teaches the primacy of the group and a more collective idea of humanity than any sort of individualism, which mitigates against the true spirit of Marxist salvation.
With a community organizer in the White House the left has its catalyst for a Marxist praxis and collective unity.
It is no surprise that President Obama cut his bones with the Saul Alinsky machine in Chicago and has tried to apply that thinking to the United States government.
Instead of the pie in the sky, Obama’s Marxism is offering a cake on earth.
The final religious tenet for my purposes has to do with Father Hardon’s 11th principle, which is the Emancipation of Women.
Women have always been the target of any kind of Talibanic faith because they are often more closely identified with religion than men.
Religion supplication flows from their motherly instinct to nurture and serve others.
It was Antonio Gramsci who argued from his Italian jail cell that the most direct way to undermine Christianity and with it–Western Civilization— was through its women.
Strip them of their Catholic faith, mostly through early and promiscuous sex and the Marxists can bring down the entire edifice of Western society.
His ideas have been working their toxic magic for over 80 years.
A main result has been the Feminist Movement, which has risen out of the Marxist ashes of hearth and home to give us an angry and destructive way of thinking that has deprived millions of families of two parents, as well as giving rise to a multi-billion dollar abortion industry over the last 40 years.
Women has not only heeded the Marxist clarion cry to leap off their respective pedestals of dignity and maternal respect, they have outdone their male counterparts in their determined crusade to lower the moral standards of our culture.
Couple the ungodly rage of Feminism with its politically correct storm troopers and you get an English language, so deprived of a fair and honest right of self-expression that is as controlling and a betrayal of freedom as anything found in Afghanistan.
While the American people will never bend to any national dogmatic religion, such as the kind that ruled the Massachusetts Bay Company in the 17th century, it has been primed and readied to accept a secular religion based on a culture that does not just separate religion from state but subjugated it in such a way that its traditional morality has no mooring or anchor in the entire culture.
America’s new Taliban of the left proclaims that Americans should never impose their morality on others while doing the same with their moral prescription.
In rejecting America’s traditional morality its citizens must paradoxically embrace a morality that is even more imposing than anything proposed in this country since the 17th century.
This is the state we are fast approaching and the new liberal American Taliban with its dogmatic Marxism are the ones preparing the cultural chains that will bind us to Karl Marx than any Sharia law could ever do.