Tag Archives: Trump

Lent and the Return

This is now fairly deep into Lent and it is also near the time of the time change when we will all spring forward an hour, and most of us will find our waking a bit cruel for a while.. The Wednesday that is the seventh of March I spent  some time working on a gutter system and I have been otherwise preoccupied with a variety of little things but I am also aware that it is Lent — deeply aware that it is Lent although not as deeply as I might like to be. President Donald J. Trump gave his first address to the Joint Session of Congress on Mardi Gras and did not mention that the next day was Ash Wednesday nor that the Louisiana delegation had to neglect a major regional holiday to be present there and absent from Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday commitments at home. It is not that I recommend such recognition as a Federal Duty but then again I do not recommend scheduling such an event on Mardi Gras. So that is how my Lent really began — although I left off watching the speech at my parents house and went to a friend’s house for a last glass of sherry and a last slice of King Cake before midnight. But there was a dissonance between what I wanted and had on my mind and what the national scene was doing.Now the party of carnival season is truly over and my life is Lenten although not in every ideal sense. Perhaps not very holy but very austere in some ways.

Amid the other duties, noise and goings-on of life I am going over one of my unpublished novels. I wrote it online and printed two copies several years ago. So this set of marginalized, copy editors marks and other small and medium size changes are the first writing done on paper. For me writing novels has always been objectively better than self amputation, maintaining street heroin, or robbing convenience stores. But it probably feels much worse and is less rewarding.

However, it keeps my natural effervescent and exuberant qualities in check.  But the point of all this is that if ever one feels unable to control one’s giddy inner child then writing long novels can be excellent therapy…. However, most readers probably are not afflicted with excessive joy.

Nor is is impossible see that Washington faces real and austere challenges. A recent email from the White House says.

It’s been seven years since Obamacare was passed, and now, more than ever, we are seeing the harmful effects of this disastrous law.

Obamacare has led to higher costs and fewer health insurance options for millions of hard-working Americans. Independent analysis found 41 states faced higher average healthcare deductibles last year, with 17 states facing double-digit rate increases. Nearly one in five Americans have only one insurer offering Obamacare exchange plans.

In just the past year, Obamacare premiums have increased by 25 percent on the typical plan and coverage choices have dropped by 28 percent as insurers have left the market.

Things are only getting worse. This past year, nearly 20 million American citizens opted not to get healthcare insurance, with 6.5 million paying the penalty and millions more asking for a hardship exemption from the penalty.

Now, not nearly everyone will agree with Trump’s tone and take on this issue but I am relieved that he is trying to end the individual mandate. We all have sacrifices to make for America to make it and those sacrifices are Lenten enough in nature to deserve some thought in that regard. I think Catholics often have a variety of struggles as regards Lent. But it is a time to try and take our medicine with or without sugar to make it go down. America could use a little Lent just now.

I went to mass the morning of the first day of this Lent and received my ashes for Ash Wednesday. There was quite the crowd at church at St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church.  I am very much aware of all that I am not doing for Lent and all that it might be better for me to do.

In the distant times when elves abounded on Middle Earth….
Actually no that is in no sense descriptive or proper — but a long time ago — I did a lot of penance and then at other times I did a lot during Lent . Then in recent years I have more often than not failed to give up anything for Lent. I have lacked the generosity of spirit necessary to add another sacrifice to the wearisome burdens of my daily life and the lacks I feel so keenly. But I have received the Ashes and kept a decent fast. There was another period in my life when I was often in a blur and sometimes forgot what day it was and violated fasts publicly in a huge way in Catholic towns on a few occasions. My sin there was running around in a chaotic state rather than consciously breaking a fast. But this year I did give up something for Lent — nothing huge and not smoking which anyone who hangs out with me lately would be likely to suggest but I did give up something.

Back in the days when I often prayed for hours alone or in a chapel AND wore a knotted cord that bit my flesh in secret AND gave way more in alms than a normal percentage AND volunteered for lots of ministries that few wanted and some everyone did — Back then I found it easy to add on a Lenten Penance. Lately, as I aim at catching the bottom rung of the safety ladder hanging out of purgatory in the knick of time any sacrifice seems heavy. But I have small ministry in the church and it seems fitting. So as I went for Ashes I decided I would do something. I also have noticed that since Mass was early and I had a priest who is not a real brander and stainer in his approach I once again have fading ash syndrome by the time I get out into the world — that is good and bad. The pros and cons go beyond this little post. But I have Fading Ash Syndrom in both Ash Wednesday pictures here, quite a few years apart. I sometimes envy those with Strong Ash Condition late in the day. But I used to wear a cross a whole lot all the time and it sometimes irked me. Now I am an annual fading ash guy.

A Fading Ash Guy scheduling in his liturgical ministry in a busy week. Life brings us places we did not expect to be posting almost undetectable ash crosses and musing about minor penances. I am not the publican or the pharisee in the famous parable of Jesus. Maybe I am the guy not mentioned in the parable who would like longer phylacteries and a more lawful beard, a little more booze and gold and a little more repentance. Beware of being lukewarm we are warned. Those who know me would say there are parts of my psyche that always run very hot and others very cold. But perhaps the lukewarm has found much of the central region.

While I certainly know that my flesh shall turn to dust it is less clear how much I will repent and believe the Gospel this Lent. But Lent does not depend solely on me. God is God however unworthy or indifferent I may be….

 

 

There is a lot going on in my life and yet not so much as to justify spending a blog only on what is going on in my life. Problems with Mexico, Russia, North Korea and Iran are not figments of our national imagination. We must address real challenges each day as a country — we must sober up from the carnival atmosphere of the election and do some good in the world. That can mean doing some good for ourselves as well. For example,  I think it’s time for everyone to realize that North Korea is able to withstand even the very most brutal diplomatic tongue-lashing. I don’t mean to trivialize the problem but maybe they know we dislike their weapons program by now…. Sobriety and a little fasting from delusion is in order. There is a real fact that our secrets are out in the world and the White House leaks like a sieve and the Academy Awards handed the Best Picture award to the wrong movie first.

I would like to thank the academy, my parents and everyone — but I am not receiving an Oscar. On the other hand, that may not have much to do with getting to give those speeches anymore…
Also not important for determining who is crowned in a huge international pageant. Steve Harvey crowned the wrong woman not long ago. these are little things compared to the open prey our secrets and promises to one another have become but they are not extremely small things. We see a continuity to our national political life. We could use a little Lent.

I have a suggestion for major televised award shows, go ahead and use whatever approach prevented these messes in the 20th century. Maybe don’t just fumble along like idiots on your program’s biggest moment. Just saying….

Then maybe we can run our country with some sobriety as well. I have been remembering two serious older Americans now deceased this week. I have been remembering Justin Jesss Spiehler the grandfather of my nieces and nephew. His obituary from years ago is linked here.  But in the spirit of such memories, I spent a few days this Lent looking for and not finding a report of the decease of Judge Marcus Broussard, known as Buddy Broussard, a jurist and attorney in Abbeville. I hesitate to post his name first although I knew him. He and I were for a few years the only two active, dues-paying members of Mensa in Abbeville. I knew his son as well and he was friends with my maternal grandparents. I look forward to seeing the kind of character I knew in those men come to the fore — they weren’t perfect but they were good solid Americans I admired, are we?

This month I am on schedule for ministry at early morning mass. I hope to keep a holy Lent there in Church but I hope to return from church with a little Lent to bring to my country as well.

The Trump Presidency: What ifs, Wherefores and Whens

The Trump Presidency has yet to begin and yet there is plenty to say about it. The place where it all plays out is as significant as anything else. It is not controvertible that there is something new and different about this campaign and transition. the remainder of the Presidency may not yet be set in stone. But a great deal is determined already. The cite of the transition at trump Tower, the enormous paid staff, the close cooperation with the NYPD. These all make this transition memorable.

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As for as determining what will happen next there are snippets of information here and there. There are guesses and conjectures and a good number of reports as well based on some kind of presumably hard evidence.

The truth is that Trump is already a powerful and influential man and his election allows him to merge the new political power with a body of private power. The fame he has attained and the wealth he oversees may pose special challenges but they do not interfere with his capacity to make the transition any more than they facilitate that transition.  What else do we know about what is going on in the tower?download-2

 

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Trump has appointed Mike Pence to oversee the transition since he removed Chris Christie.  He may or may not have named his son-in law to an advisory role and may or may not have asked for him to get security clearance. He does seem to have appointed General Flynn as  National Security advisor and Stephen Bannon as Chief Strategist in the new administration. He has appointed Rience Priebus as Chief of Staff. The combination of Bannon as right wing bloglord and Priebus as former head of the establishment RNC strikes people as a compelling tension built in. It is reported that Giuliani and Romney — both household names in the GOP world are on the shortlist for Secretary of State. But others have been mentioned.   There are signs that Capitol Hill is gearing up to work with the Trump administration. 

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There are also reports that Paul Ryan will not work as majority leader to create a Deportation Force. Many cities have been clear that they will continue to operate as Sanctuary cities. in addition protest continue across many areas of the United States of America. So the Trump Tower does resemble a fortress these days in more ways than one. But there is a sense that he will be coming in from a position and base that he has secure himself and he seems well able to do so. download-5

 

I myself am hopeful that this can be a time for America to do some soul searching which many of my fellow citizens on the left have been eager to discuss. But I do not think the fact that America has chosen a privately rich and powerful man as  Chief Magistrate, President and Chief Ex

ecutive of our republic is anything to apologize for — it makes plenty of sense to me. Those aspects of his life are not enough but they do not detract in themselves. But I have heard many people imply that the opposite is true– that his wealth is a handicap that cannot be overcome. 

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download-7I think that the country realizes that there are many challenges to be faced in the world and America must face them. I think Americans realize the very urban Trump Tower is the site of a political revolt in large part centered in midsize cities, small towns and the true rural parts of the country. Many Americans realize  that the Democrats presence in Congress is historically small.

Trump will make a difference. He already has made a difference and there will be many things for me to criticize as time goes on but for the moent he is setting a tone that needs to be set and revealing a great deal to our nation and society that needs to be revealed. There is still a good bit up in the air and there will be a leadership election after Thanksgiving — yet some of the team seems to be set. The defeat of the Hillary ticket and her plurality (or possible majority) in the popular vote have also sent ripples across the face of the pond of American feminism. There are many voices addressing these energies directly and some voices addressing these issues more subtly.

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For those awaiting possible deportation there is a great deal of a sense of urgency. But for those inclined to consider policy there is much yet to know about the number involved and the nature of the deportations which a President Trump may enforce.

Likewise there is discussion as to what a wall on our border with Mexico will look like. How will such a wall be built and how will it function? The details can matter a great deal to many people.
It willl be interesting to see if Newt Gingrich gets a place in the administration. He has at least one part of his portfolio which would give a different spin to Trump’s desire to Make a America and unrivaled super power — he seems to share my belief in the desirability of space colonization. I think such a goal could enoble and improve Trump’s agenda. Trump’s view on space are not entirely clear but have received attention in places like this, this and this.

This is a  time of big change and space is one of the areas where big change is possible. It is also a basis for justifying real suffering . If one believes as I do that real colonization is possible. If, like me, one has labored in that vineyard. There is a Mars series on National Geographic Channel just now starting up. I posted this picture as my largely mute criticism of the plans it demonstrates:
15078648_10211213163866355_1169294305110545054_nI will not get into its interpretation here. I will only say colonization needs a different paradigm than we have been discussing. But space has been in discussions and communication here, here and here for example.   trump is aman hungry for glory, triumph and growth and Space colonization offers a hard, challenging and dangerous chance for all three. But it is in my view a necessary risk. We will see if someone can make that case to the President -Elect. The issues that I plan to look at with Trump in mind in coming posts include: immigration reform, American cultural identity, space issues, growth, sexual politics and business culture as well as the threats of ISIS and other extremist  Islamist groups. But I don’t have to govern the country right now. The GOP knows that it soon will have govern the country and they are trying to get ready to do so.

 

President Elect Trump and Others

The race is over, the great duel of personalities and ideas which makes up a race for the United States Presidency has ended. Donald J. Trump has been elected President. Hillary Clinton has conceded and President Obama has promised to facilitate the transfer of power.  Something calamitous could happen but we can expect that it  will not and we will see a new administration in real distinction to the old one. There was a vigorous campaign and the electorate spoke within the constitutional mandate.   I did not vote for either one of them but I did vote. I am happier that Trump won than I would have been with Hillary’s victory. But over all my election cycle involved few victories.

Trumps new era comes on the heels of the extremely contentious race. It comes on the heels of a Presidency that was distinguished by a confrontational and intransigent style of executive power. Even now he has not yet taken office peacefully, But  the tone has been set. We will see if all the acrimony of recent months will yiled to the machinery of constitutional transition.

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Beside the victory of Trump and other candidates three important things happened yesterday: First, there was a high turnout election in some places that have not seen such a high turnout in a long time. Second, there was a realigning election that allowed the working class people of America to stand out and be heard. Third, White people in America revealed their potential power as a voting bloc. A Nick Anderson Cartoon posted all around Facebook spoke to the importance of turnout.

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But there was more going on than simply getting voters to the polls to express their feelings and concerns. America is seeking a new way forward. There are many who are deeply disappointed today and some who are elated but all have been through a great deal. I hope that this is the start of a great and worthy time. For America, it may well be, perhaps not so much for me. I did not vote for Trump myself. But I am a White, rural American who has worked hard and has very little. I could hear the echoes of my own voice in his movement. I voted early but I went to what would have been my polling place on Election Day and took some pictures.

 

There was a lot on the ballot yesterday. Even within the big story of Trump’s election there were many stories that made up the whole. The night was a late one for me and although I voted for Chris Keniston of the Veterans party — I was relieved.  Keniston got 1,880 votes in Louisiana. Trump got 1,178,004 vote and won the sate’s electoral votes. In addition all of the key speeches by Trump, Clinton and Obama have seemed reassuring to me. I had read through my Huffington Post  and Politico free subscriptions and my paid Washington Post and Daily Advertiser subscriptions and visited Real Clear Politics. I had communicated with a huge number of people about the political situation — and although I was not sure who was going to win as a result of my own research I did tend to believe the predictions that Hillary would win. I also found some other interesting things in the polling data before the election, what is below is among what I got from my Politico emails.:

Despite pre-election polls showing neither candidate poised to win a majority of the vote on Tuesday, a 55-percent majority thinks the winner of the election “has a mandate to take the country towards the vision they spoke about during the campaign,” while 23 percent don’t think the winner will have a mandate. Another 22 percent aren’t sure.

The Morning Consult/POLITICO Exit Poll was conducted October 18 – November 8, 2016 among 9,704 early/Election Day Voters. The interviews were conducted online and the data were weighted to approximate a target sample of registered voters based on age, race/ethnicity, gender, educational attainment. The results have a margin of error of +/- 1 percent. Morning Consult is a nonpartisan media and technology company that provides data-driven research and insights on politics, policy and business strategy.

Trump won a compelling mandate to seek immigration reform, to enhance our position in world trade, to seek to renew the economy in blighted America and to abolish the current version of political correctness. What else he won a mandate to do is not all that clear. We also seem almost certain to make it out of the Obama administration without a violent revolution, a civil war or the assassination of a President or Presidential candidate. That is for me a real achievement we can take some pride in. Bad times may be ahead as may critical posts in this blog but there is a lot to rejoice in today as well.

There were some clues that this might happen that I posted on Facebook but not here:   Including a reference to a fairly late Post-ABC Tracking Poll showing Trump at 46%, Clinton 45%, as Democratic enthusiasm dipped in the final month of the race. But the Republicans have also kept control of the US Senate, the US House of Representatives and majority of the  branches in the States. Whether Trump is ready to lead a powerful party or not — he is in a position to do so. I posted one joke about the candidates (authored by me) during the whole campaign season that was in the spirit of the cheap and derisive tone of the campaign — this is it:

Secretary Clinton: “I have always believed that if a man will not take off his pants suddenly and in odd situations he cannot be trusted. ”

Trump: “That is a horrible idea you got from the Muslim Mexican Media feminist elite you sold your soul to…”

As for my  day after point of view: What was on the Louisiana  ballots can be accessed here. I voted for Charles Boustany for Senate who came in third. Kennedy and Campbell will be in the runoff.  I voted for Marilyn Castle for Supreme Court who lost to Jimmy Genovese in a field of two. I voted for Scott Angelle who is leading in a race for the Third Congressional District. I voted for Mike Francis who won a seat on the Public Service Commission outright in a filed of three decent candidates. So one candidate I voted for  was a  vote I knew could not win, two lost and one won outright and one made the runoff.

Lundi Gras bonfire & Boustany meeting 012

Dr. Boustany and I at a town hall meeting. This was several years ago.

I also voted on Constitutional Amendments.  I voted to improve the Registrar of Voters standards and that passed — I won. I voted to give Universities more  fiscal autonomy that failed  — I lost.  I voted against eliminating the deductability of Federal Income tax
on state taxes the, change failed — I won. I voted for more tax protection for the surviving spouses of LEOs and troops killed on active duty and that passed — I won. I voted to reform the rainy day fund, the change passed — I won.  I voted for a deficit correction plan, the change failed — I lost.

So I do not have a host of victories to celebrate but I do have hope for a Trump Presidency to make things better. I have concerns about China and Mexico. I have concerns about sexual politics. I have concerns about the nature of our system But I am happier with Trump than I would have been with Hillary.