Only a truly powerful group of ideological dogmatists, well-funded by our wealthiest citizens, could redefine American democracy, unscrupulously steal the sovereignty of the American people, and obscure the belief in the progressive economic values subscribed to by The Constitution’s Framers.
Friedman/Hayek’s Chicago School of economics is a laissez faire, capitalist ideology parasitic by nature. Our Founding Father’s fought a revolution, created a Federal Constitution, state constitutions, a bi-cameral legislative Congress, The Bill of Rights, the executive branch headed by the president, and a judicial branch headed by the SJC, to protect us from this evolving parasite. Their knowledge of the failures of past experiments in democratic-republican governments compelled them to issue forewarnings that would survive 231 years. Madison said:
The instability, injustice, and confusion, introduced into the public councils, have, in truth, been the mortal diseases under which popular governments perished….”
– James Madison, The Federalist. Barnes and Noble Classics. p52 brilliance of the ideology is that like any bug that causes disease, it adapts.
Success is what matters to its Friedman School adherents, not popularity. They don’t measure their success in polling data. Whether people agree with their belief that social programs should be privatized or abolished, that departments of the federal government that protect the environment should be shuttered, does not matter to them. That a majority agree with progressives on the issues, does not matter to them. The parasitic neoliberal, Friedman economic model embeds itself in our government and unscrupulously redefines the language of our Constitution. Freedom has become a word that connotes Friedman Capitalism. When the government makes use of its economic regulatory powers and when it properly conducts the oversight of Wall Street, it is infringing on freedom.
The Orwellian nature of this parasitic ideology is so blatant, yet people have an historical amnesia when it comes to American History, so it’s easy to change the meaning of the ubiquitous words of our republic, like the word freedom, which actually has nothing to do with corporations and money, but is defined as the right to do what one pleases, except when it infringes on another’s right to freedom.
The retail industry, corporations, and workers now have an economic relationship that closely resembles feudalism. The peasant retail workers do all the work and get paid minimum wage. They are only given less than 40 hours so benefits are not provided. Upper Management probably gets full time hours and benefits. They are the feudal agents who keep the peasants labor production high. The feudal lords are the folks sitting 60 stories above the real world. They are the CEO’s, CFO’s, COO’s who rake in millions of dollars while their workers struggle to stay financially stable.
These corporate feudal lords are more powerful than the people; they sponsor the government that is supposed to be the most powerful institution in the country since it represent the voice of the people and God. Vox populi, vox dei. The voice of the people is the voice of God. Yet our Congresspeople mute the voice of the people. They are puppets of their corporate contributors. Alexander Hamilton writes:
The power of the head of the nation was commonly too weak, either to preserve the public peace, or to protect the people against their oppression of their immediate lords.
Later in The Federalist, he states:
A government ought to contain in itself every power requisite to the full accomplishments of the objects committed to its care, and to the complete execution of the trusts for which it is responsible; free from every other control but a regard to the public good and to the sense of the people.
It is blasphemy when neoliberals talk about “shrinking the federal government so that it can fit down the sink.” We fought wars and spilled blood to to save a government for the people, by the people, and of the people. The Revolutionary War and the Civil War began when the blood of Massachusetts’ men were shot and killed.
Anyone who talks about shrinking the role of the Federal Government, is euphemistically talking about ending our democratic-republic–ending the sovereign power of the people.
How did this e
Since the election of Reagan, the first neoliberal who was able to manipulate the people into voting against their own economic interests, the middle class has slowly disappeared, now we listen for the sound of the death knell of the middle class.
Reagan cut taxes for the wealthy, cut federal funding to social programs, fired 11,000 airline workers who were on strike, fighting for fair wages and benefits. Reagan fired all of them. That was the first big blow to unions. All across the country, organized labor is under attack. The neoliberals want to turn us into their feudal peasants. The students of Friedman seek to take away the power of the mult
Trsump appealed to white people by scapegoating people of color and people who pray differently. The Trump Campaign stayed away from issues whenever possible. Their campaign was emotive, striking racist tones, instilling fear, and promoting hate. Trump’s message was the opposite of Obama’s, but appealing to fear and hate and other base human emotions is something that Hillary did not understand.
The only progressive candidate of late to understand that politics is won by appealing to the voter’s emotion rather than his stance on issues is President Obama. Aware that once a candidate politically categorizes oneself, enemies are created–passionate enemies–and aware that Americans were exasperated with hyper-partisanship, Obama’s rhetoric often cited principles that all Americans share–he espoused a message of unity. President Obama allowed the pundits to argue and define his political philosophy.
Speaking of ideological categorizing, for the sake of simplicity, I will refer to the aforementioned parasitic, purist capitalism that currently threatens our democratic-republic by the name most folks presently refer to it as: neoliberalism.
Neoliberalism’s biggest success in the judicial branch of our government happened under Chief Justice Robert’s conservative Supreme Court’s “Citizens United v FEC” decision. Charles and David Koch own one of the wealthiest privately held corporations on the planet with Koch Industries, and are surpassed only by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet in wealth. The Koch Brothers and their likeminded corporate cohorts ensured that the SJC would side with the neoliberal agenda in the Citizens United decision. So personally invested in the decision’s outcome that the Kochs not last only donated money, but deployed their own Koch Industries attorney, Ted Olson, to argue their neoliberal position.
Those neoliberal positions do not reflect any of the American principles lain out by our Founding Fathers. Show me one document that does not prove neoliberalism antonymic to American values.
Koch and his neo-liberal cohorts believe that the government should not invest in social programs the benefit our most vulnerable citizens; they do not believe that the wealthy should pay a higher percentage of taxes; and they believe that the departments of the federal government that regulate corporate greed should be abolished. The Federal Government keeps corporations in check through federal oversight and through regulatory practices. Neo-liberals want the government to serve corporations, rather than corporations serve government. (Hamburger, Tom. “The Koch Brother’s Impact on America’s Political System.” Opinions. The Washington Post. [15 January 2016] https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-koch-brothers-impact-on-the-american-political-system/2016/01/15/6a3694aa-b579-11e5-9388-466021d971de_story.html Accessed 28 August 2017)
The Citizens United decision has infected our federal election process with the parasitic, neoliberal ideology. Our candidates are no longer responsive to the needs of their consituents–they are responsive to the needs of their corporate sponsors. The spirit of Alexander Hamilton would be vexed to find that our democratic-republic had been highjacked by the greedy and self-interested men and women of our day:
A government ought to contain in itself every power requisite to the full accomplishments of the objects committed to its care, and the complete execution of the trust for which it it responsible; free from every other control but a regard to the public good and to the sense of the people.
– Alexander Hamilton. The Federalist (New York: 2006) p. 165
Neo-liberals seek the destruction of any component of the federal government that doesn’t protect their private property and mthe source of most of their wealth, international trade. Social programs that benefit the poorest citizens are socialist–in the neoliberal myopic political mindst hey receive no benefits from an educated, economically hopeful hoi polloi. Neoliberals rebuke social programs as sources of higher taxes, rather than a public good necessary for societal stability.
Yet if neo-liberals are to refer to those who believe in a progressive taxation system in which the wealthy pay more in taxes, while the poor benefit from the redistribution of wealth, then they must call the Framers of the Constitution socialists as well. Alexander Hamilton writes:
…make it a fixed point of policy in the national administration, to go as far as may be practicable in making the luxury of the rich tributary to the public treasury, in order to diminish the necessity of those impositions, which might create dissatisfaction in the poorer and most numerous classes of society. Happy it is when the interest which the government has in the preservation of it own power, coincides with a proper distribution of the public burthens, and tends to guard the least wealthy part of the community from oppression! (Boldness mine) (Ibid. p. 192)
Perhaps the parasitic neo-liberal ideology has infected our collective knowledge of history. The men who founded this country were some of the most progressive men of their day.
Our Founders believed that the power of the federal government made up of the people should be more powerful than any other institution, including corporations, and that when the federal government failed to do so, the state governments were compelled to protect individual liberty. If the states and federal governments ultimately failed to protect individual liberty, then they believed in the people’s right to rebel.
The Founders believed that the government had a role in taking care of its most vulnerable citizens. And they believed in a progressive tax system in which the wealthy paid their fair share of taxes, so that society could continue to progress. Neo-liberalism is un-American to the core. Progressivism is the ideology this country and its constitution was built on.
It is disappointing that we have strayed so far from the core principles of our country. One cannot blame one party, one branch of government, or one politician. “The fault lies in our stars.”
The Founding Fathers, cognizant that a well-educated and civically engaged citizenry committed to their role as the guardians of the rights enumerated in The Constitution, cautioned us against the dangers lurking in abeyance in a democratic-republic. Our Founding Fathers were erudites who studied the failed democratic-republics of Greek antiquity and The United Provinces. Their words traveled the great expanse of time to admonish us of the of the propensity for democratic-republics to fail, especially when folks who expect the protection of the Bill of Rights fail to understand the inherent responsibilities indissoluble from those rights.
Ben Franklin warned that “those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Yet we have consistently chosen security over freedom.
John Adams was aware that if American citizens reneged on their duty to assiduously pursue truth and knowledge that our national prognostication was grim. Adams knew education to be so important to our democratic-republic that in writing the Massachusetts Constitution, he enshrined public education as a right guaranteed to all of The Commonwealth’s citizens. In 2017, Massachusetts remained the best school system in the country. It is not a statistical anomaly that Massachusetts also has the lowest abortion rates, and the lowest divorce rates.
Many Conservatives will not vote for progressive candidates because of their pro-life stance. Most progressives believe that abortion is a necessary evil, but progressives are sensible enough to understand that conservative laws that make abortion essentially illegal in states like Texas, have not only failed utterly, but have driven abortion underground, putting the mother’s life at risk. Conservative policies have failed in reducing abortion.
The most progressive state in the Union found a way to greatly reduce abortion rates. The only successful policy at reducing abortion rates is a strong public school system that does not ignore the biology of their students. Progressives sometimes want the same thing as conservatives–accept our progressive policies actually work.
Thomas Jefferson said, “education and democracy are interdependent.” He went on to say, “Education being necessary to its [democracy’s] success, a successful democracy must provide it.”
When millions of Americans are deceived by the country’s biggest con-artist to vote for him because he will make “America great again”; when people of color and people who pray differently are scapegoated by the Trump Campaign as the cause of all the Trump voter’s problems; when a candidate of inherited wealth who has refused to pay workers in the past is able to swindle the deluded working class to vote for him; there is a problem with the education system in this country.
In the Federalist Papers, John Hamilton, apprehensive about the American Experiment, wrote:
In Republics, persons elevated from the mass of the community by the suffrages [votes] of their fellow-citizens, to stations of great preeminence and power, may find compensation for betraying their trust…Hence it is, that history furnishes us with so many mortifying examples of the prevalency of foreign corruption in republican governments.
Hamilton’s prescient words have become a harsh reality.
We have a president who, in the middle of a nationally televised debate, asked our greatest adversary, Russia, to commit acts of espionage against the United States. He did not hesitate to seek foreign influence to promote his self-interest. And self-interest will always be Trump’s great motivator. He has not served his fellow man a day in his life.
Once again, the blame for this disaster falls on this country’s sovereign power: The People.
His campaign should have imploded after he asked a foreign enemy to get involved in our electoral processs. And The Trump Campaign’s collusion with Putin and Russian Intelligence is even more egregious than we realized. Much of his inner-circle served Putin’s interests. Some like Paul Manafort committed treason against our country by aiding Russia in its occupation of our ally, Ukraine.
Trump’s Secretary of State has had many business dealings with Putin, and he received the Order of Friendship Award from Putin.
Donald Trump’s own son attempted to discredit the Clinton Campaign by meeting with a Russian lawyer who claimed to have damaging information about Clinton. This lawyer is connected with the Russian Government.
Trump avails Putin’s interests, and sews conflict amongst our steadfast NATO allies who contributed to the downfall of The Soviet Empire. Yet with the election of Trump, Putin has successfully divided the West between The US and Europe. He has divided his enemy and weakened us.
The world and progressives worldwide resent us right now. A president commits an acts of treachery, yet the streets are empty of Americans who are either apathetic or victims of weapons of mass distraction.
I understand the desire to “shape shift” into an Ostrich and bury your head in the sand for the next few years. I still feel like I am in a surreal state when I see President Trump on CNN.
Are we going to allow the incompetence, treachery, and greed become acceptable behavior for The President? History will judge us as the generation that stood idly by during the American decline. Or they will judge us as the collective voice of revolution–a voice that says that it is morally reprehensible to have an incompetent, malignant narcissist in the Oval Office? Will your voice join the chorus of voices that say our democratic-republic needs to be protected, if not by Congress, if not by the state legislatures, if not by the SJC, then by the people, which is where the sovereign power of this country lies.
Our Founders believed that when liberty and national security are threatened, that we have the right to rebel. Alexander Hamilton wrote in the Federalist Papers:
Projects of usurpation cannot be masked under pretenses so likely to escape the penetration of select bodies of men, as of the people at large. The Legislatures will have better means of information; they can discover the danger at a distance; and possessing all the organs of civil power, and the confidence of the people, they can at once adopt a regular plan of opposition, in which they can combine all the resources of the community. They can readily communicate with each other in the different states; and unite their common forces, for the protection of their common liberty.
States no longer have the military power to oust a tyrant, but progressive states and cities have consistently ignored Trump’s executive orders. For example, Massachusetts has not pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord, despite Trump pulling the Federal Government out of the deal. In sanctuary cities like Boston, illegal immigrants are protected from being rounded up and deported.
Thomas Jefferson, and the other aforementioned Founding Fathers were sagacious statesmen who were well-aware of the potential pitfalls in our experiment in democratic-republicanism. They predicted that this democratic dysfunction would happen at some point. They consistently direct us to rebel when the government no longer is conducive to the interests of the people.
Honor the people who are responsible for the genesis of a nation based on God-given natural rights. Practice dissent wherever and whenever you can. Fight back against the forces that seek to destroy our democratic-republic.
Ed Flynn grew up and still lives in South Boston, one of the neighborhoods that make up our District 2. He shares the collective values of our diverse district of Bay Village, Beacon Hill, Chinatown, The South End, and South Boston. And that is I will vote for him on November 7, 2017
come rain, sleet, or snow.
This is one of the most important elections in recent memory. There was a time when coaching youth sports, participation in neighborhood associations, and service to one’s country was a requisite to running for public office.
Only one candidate running has consistently demonstrated his devotion to our nation and our community. Ed Flynn is a combat veteran who served in the Navy for 25 years. He is a member of City Side Neighborhood Association, South Boston Citizens’ Association, and coaches youth sports. Furthermore, he is an active parent at the Josiah Quincy School in Chinatown. Massachusetts is one of the only Constitutions in the world that guarantees public as a right. Ed Flynn’s commitment to the right to public education is unwavering, and he has a personal stake in our education system as the parent of a student in the one of Boston Public Schools.
Only one candidate has experience promulgating our collective values into effective public policy. Ed Flynn worked for five years in the Department of Labor where he fought to improve labor conditions, expand access to health care, and increase the federal minimum wage.
Ed Flynn believes Boston’s diversity to be one of its greatest strengths, and with District 2 being such a diverse district, it is imperative that we elect someone who celebrates Boston’s diversity. I am voting for Ed Flynn because he will represent the core values of this diverse district. I am voting for Ed Flynn because he spent his entire adult life serving his country and his community. I am voting for Ed Flynn on the September 26 Primary Election and the November 7 General Election. He earned my vote because he is man of strong moral fiber who has dedicated his life to serving our country and our district, and he will be the independent, progressive voice we need in City Hall.
There is no room for equivocal statements when neo-nazis are marching through our cities. Sure, they have the right to freedom of speech, and I know that the message of love and unity will always defeat the message of hate and division in the marketplace of ideas. So give these philistines their march with their worn out, hateful ideas. But in response to these marches a large number of people who subscribe to a philosophy of unity and love will be there to counter-protest.
Before recent events, I would expect any president of the United States to unequivocally support the counter-protestors and their sacrifices, including the acknowledgment of the counter-protestor who lost his life for his belief in love and unity.
I would expect any president to expound on his abhorrence of all hate groups, particularly the recently active hate groups of white supremacists, neo-nazis, and Klansmen. I expect The President to extol their message as one of hatred and division, and an extremist view with no place in mainstream politics.
Instead, Trump blames both sides. The President equated white supremacists with folks who believe in a tolerant America with its deep roots in pluralism and diversity. Then he amends his previously callous remark with a delusion: “the alt left [which doesn’t exist] is also to blame.” If prior to this tragedy in Virginia, one didn’t see that the alt right and white supremacists make up Trump’s base, it is now painfully visible.
For example, At a press conference about infrastructure spending, three days after neo-nazis took to the streets of Charlottesville, VA, The President was given ample opportunity to condemn David Duke and disavow the support shown to him by white supremacists, and neo-nazis.
He came back to the podium as if he were going to answer the question, “Do you, Mr. President, disavow support from nazis?” Alas, he approached the podium to say he would sign the manufacturing bill inside (the evasion and criticism of the free press by Trump is alarming–it’s a tactic employed by despots). As he walked away, he was once again asked by a forceful voice that caused all other questions and sounds to fade into background noise: “Do you disavow the support you receive from white supremacists?” President Trump clearly heard the question, and his shaking head, and nervous body language betrayed his attempt to pretend that he wasn’t listening. He walked away.
He walked away from the moral leadership that presidents of the United States have assiduously displayed time immemorial: President Bush’s appearance at ground zero, FDR’s fireside chats, President Obama’s response to the Sandy Hook Shooting and the Boston Marathon Bombing.
We allowed a person to become president who has never once shown the propensity to serve his fellow man or his country or honor its timeless traditions and principles, but has instead shown the proclivity to wrap himself in the American Flag only to serve his own base interests. The only consistency in Trump’s moral life is his consistent racism.
He was sued by the federal government for racial discrimination for steering African Americans away from his properties; he has tried with some success to ban folks from certain Muslim majority countries from entering the United States; he has made asylum to the United States more difficult to obtain (a process that was already nearly impossible to get through) and that many of these folks aided the United States in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. Furthermore, Trump’s father was arrested after marching in a parade-turned-riot in which two Italians were killed by KKK members and sympathizers. The flyer passed around that no doubt induced Mr. Trump to march was thoroughly anti-Italian and anti-Papist (anti-Catholic).
And we are aware of the words that have come out of President Trump’s own mouth: of Mexican undocumented workers, he said “they’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists”; at the Republican National Jewish Conference, he stated, “Is there anybody that doesn’t renegotiate deals in this room? This room negotiates them — perhaps more than any other room I’ve ever spoken in.”
His fallacious comment that equated inner-cities to war zones, enraged my neighbors and me–a lifelong resident of the inner-city. First of all, our inner-cities, like Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and New York City are bastions of the American melting pot. I participate in Caribbean Day, Dorchester Day, Saint Anthony’s Feast, and Saint Patrick’s Day, and, even though I’m an Irish kid originally from the Irish Projects (Old Harbor a.k.a. Mary Ellen McCormick), I learned about my brothers’ and sisters’ culture. Yes, I refer to my fellow Bostonians as brothers and sisters, and they refer to me the same way–Boston is a brotherhood/a sisterhood. It is not a war zone. Nor are America’s other great cities.
Certain issues will exist in any densely populated neighborhood, particularly neighborhoods that are home to those struggling socioeconomically. But Trump doesn’t understand these complexities. For Trump, the “inner city war zone” comment was coded racism to his white supremacist base. Trump does not care about demeaning us and patronizing the inner city folks (particularly black folks) who actively struggle on a daily basis to make these cities function–these cities that are not war zones but proud symbols of American diversity and pluralism.
Trump has failed to provide us with any moral guidance. Yes, speech is protected under the 1st Amendment, but before Trump, the moral leadership in this country, especially with the election of a black man as president, caused people to keep their ignorant, racist beliefs hidden. Folks turned to the Obama Campaign with such passion and hope that we spoke of a post-racial age. Not until Trump won the presidency did these “brave” men come out from hiding (my neighbors didn’t unfurl their Trump campaign sign until the day after Election Day). The people look to the president for moral leadership.
The inaction and equivocal moral statements of this president in the wake of Charlottesville, VA will have devastating ramifications for this country’s race relations. The event has proven that there is a vacuum of moral leadership right now, which will lead to racial and societal breakdown. Please, all you brave Americans, do not stop resisting this message of hate with the message of love and unity. Pankaj Mishra in the The New Yorker in “Václav Havel’s Lessons on How to Create a Parallel Polis”:
The “power of the powerless,” he argued, resides in their capacity to organize themselves and resist “the irrational momentum of anonymous, impersonal, and inhuman power.
– Mishra, Pankaj. “Václav Havel’s Lessons on How to Create a Parallel Polis.” 8 February 2017. Accessed 20 August 2017. http://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/vaclav-havels-lessons-on-how-to-create-a-parallel-polis
In 414, an entire community of Jews were violently assaulted by Christians to the point of extinction. This atrocity, like so many other other atrocities, stemmed from ignorance. Catholics based their faith, and excused their egregious behavior towards those of other faiths, with their comprehension of the early Christian Church, and the Nicene Creed. However, the Nicene Creed was created under the auspices of Emperor Constantine–a man who was not even baptized when the Creed was written. Emperor Constantine no longer tolerated other faiths; nor did he tolerate various thoughts (heresies) within the Christian Church. To this demagogue who created the much of Catholicism’s dogma, a “heresy” endangered his unified Roman Empire, and his mind must be expelled.
The early Church was made up of Jews who were followers of Christ. They practiced Jewish rituals, went to Temple, and adhered to Jewish Scripture. Even later on, after Constantine promulgated the Edict of Milan, Jews and Christians began sharing rituals once again, just as the early Jews who followed Jesus did.
Constantine turned Christianity into the religion of state, and adopted the Cross as his military banner, and thus made Christianity a religion of power–a religion of state. This presaged the schism
between Judaism and Christianity. A schism that led to the deaths of millions of Jews.
Constantine had a “celestial vision” in the night’s sky that if he and his army cross the Milvian Bridge and cross the Tiber and into Rome with the Cross of Jesus as their unifying symbol, Constantine would be victorious. The Cross was to be formed by a spear and a traverse bar. It was to become a symbol not only of Christianity, but of state power represented metaphorically by the spear.
It is more likely that the well-educated, politically astute (a man just as politically astute the contemporary political geniuses Karl Rove, David Plouffe, and David Axelrod) Constantine saw that upon crossing the Rubicon and Tiber and entering Rome, that he would need a passionate base to secure his position. Although not in the majority, Christians provided Constantine with the political strength he needed to maintain control of Rome:
They were a minority, but a well organized one. And no claimant had the allegiance of a majority. Fierce Christian devotion to a conqueror whose miraculous conversion proved the truth of their faith would have made Christians powerful political allies. – James Carroll, Constantine’s Sword. New York: Mariner Books, 2002, p 182
Realizing that the sudden conversion to Christianity may jeopardize the good will he had amongst his pagan troops and followers, he met with his sole adversary, Licinius, and they issued the Edict of Milan, which granted religious freedom to pagans, Jews, and Christians.
Referred to as “man’s free choice”, one can already see the sprouting seeds of the Enlightenment, and dare I say, it divined that one day men and women would accept and fight for God’s Natural Laws and the freedom and rights inherent in those laws. e.g., freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of speech.
Many, Romans–Romans with the progressive human characteristics of unity, hope, and love–had that innate desire to relate to other cultures. Our early progressives felt the innate desire to relate to their Jewish kin. Once again Christians found their Jewish roots and began practicing the rituals of their mother religion–the rituals that Jesus practiced.
How could that be sinful? Yet Constantine saw this as a danger to the unification of the empire and issued the Nicene Creed:
The decree signals the success Jews were having in attracting Christians to their culture and calendar. Moreover, the decree was prompted by a widespread Christian wish to maintain a lively connection with the Jewish origin of faith in Jesus. (Ibid. p. 185
But Constantine, now proving himself a demagogue who passes and abolishes laws according to how these laws will benefit him and his quest, not just to unify the Empire, but to unify the Empire under his name, passed a law that restricted Jews from proselytizing (an act that Jews are not well-known for–attraction to the faith is their preferred method of propagation).
Therefore, Constantine and the Cross permanently separated the religions of Judaism and Christianity. These religions might have been inseparable if not for the ignorance of the historical context of Jesus and for The Emperor Constantine. After all, Christ and his followers did not alter their Jewish Rituals and beliefs.
Constantine became the sole ruler of the empire. The dogmatist in political matters became the dogmatist in religious matters. Constantine was not baptized; yet he set the Church’s policy for 1700 years. And that policy was not decided by Catholic Intellectuals, but by a dogmatist who wasn’t baptized, and who merely sought to unify his empire.
It is important to emphasize that this need [for Constantine to answer the questions debated in The Church since Jesus’ Day], which has so dominated Roman Catholicism that even now the Church cannot break free from it, was first defined not by the Lord, a Jew who identified with dissenters; nor by his apostles, who did not hesitate to differ from one another; nor by his successor bishops who defended interests; nor by evangelists who produced not one version of the Jesus story but four … but by an all-conquering emperor for whom one empire had come to equal one religion. (Ibid. p. 189)
We say the Nicene Creed weekly at Mass. The words of the Emperor Constantine. It has taken a Jesuit Pope, Pope Francis, to finally see the sin in uttering a politically motivated doctrine for the Church set by an Empire, who though not baptized, took it upon himself, and himself only to set the dogma of the Church.
Prior to Pope Francis, The Catholic Church finally made an attempt to amend the doctrinal past that caused the Church as an institution to behave so contrary to the words of Christ by promulgating Vatican II. Historically, the Church has often been at odds with the sagacious words and actions of Christ. As the Roman Catholic Church, would the Church perpetuate the Roman Empire or perpetuate the words of Christ?
O’Malley [Reverend and Georgetown University Professor] says a theme of the documents was reconciliation. In keeping, they allowed for Catholics to pray with other Christian denominations, encouraged friendship with other non-Christian faiths, and opened the door for languages besides Latin to be used during Mass. Other new positions concerned education, the media and divine revelation. – Jordan G. Teicher, “Why is Vatican II so Important?” Religion. NPR (10 October 2012) Retrieved from http://www.npr.org/2012/10/10/162573716/why-is-vatican-ii-so-important Accessed on 18 August 2017
Constantine corrupted our faith. Jesus demonstrated that dissent was a universal good. His acts of protest and dissent mark some of the greatest stories in the New Testament, i.e., the turning over of the tables in the Temple used for the marketing of goods. Dissent is the application of the greatest gift that God gave us: the gift of human reasoning. Jesus wanted there to be questions meditated on by rigorous minds like Augustine and other intellectuals. Jesus wished his theology of unity, love, hope, and, yes, of dissent, to be questioned and studied by erudites of various backgrounds. And most importantly he taught that when dissent is suppressed by a tyrannical demagogue, it would lead to the brainwashing (the removal of rationality, the gift of reason, and the love that we feel towards those with whom we disagree) and the mass hysteria of whole nations of people, as a way for those to pervert Christianity and promulgate hate, as we saw in the death camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau
Now we have a Pope who truly understands that human reasoning is God’s greatest gift to man–a Pope who truly wants his bishops to think, and even his flock to think. He is the anti-demagogue. The antipode to Emperor Constantine. He wishes the Church to go back to the days when regional bishops had greater responsibility and participated in the development of Catholic teaching. As one who refers to himself as a Jesuit Catholic Jewish Deist, and as follower of Jesus, not just the Jesus of the Bible, but of the historical Jesus whom we so often over-looked, we cannot base our faith on the words of a power-thirsty, greedy, and very fallible man. Why should Emperor Constantine have the final say in a religion that worships a man who denied Satan’s offer of empire, power, and riches, and instead wondered the dessert for 40 days?
Pope Francis yesterday gave an address to the profoundly divided Synod on the Family in which he confirmed his plans to decentralise the Catholic Church – giving local bishops’ conferences more freedom to work out their own solutions to the problems of divorce and homosexuality … One statement in particular horrified the conservatives. Francis told them that ‘the sense of faith impedes the rigid separation between the Teaching Church and the Learning Church, because the flock possesses its own “sense” to discern the new roads that the Lord reveals to the church… – Damian Thompson, “Pope Francis is now effectively at war with Vatican” The Spectator (18 October 2015) Accessed on 16 August 2017
Pope Francis’ radical belief that a layperson can have astute observations about the Catholic Faith, and that the The Holy Spirit can be revealed in the adept reasoning of a layperson, seem to be radical beliefs only within the institution of the Catholic Church.
Many prophets of Christ have appeared even in recent history, and they were blessed with the Holy Spirit in their rhetorical skills. MLK and Bobby Kennedy come to mind. They too, like the Jesus that they not only worshipped, but tried their outmost to live their lives as he would, suffered execution as Jesus did. But the Holy Spirit within them lives eternally.
Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people will get to the promised land. And I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord. – MLK Speech to garbage workers on 3 April 1968
Martin Luther King Jr. was slain by a bullet fired in hatred the next day on 4 April 1968. Like many other prophets he presaged his own untimely death. These words came earlier in the same speech and are just as meaningful:
Now, what does all of this mean in this great period of history? It means that we’ve got to stay together. We’ve got to stay together and maintain unity. You know, whenever Pharaoh wanted to prolong the period of slavery in Egypt, he had a favorite, favorite formula for doing it. What was that? He kept the slaves fighting among themselves. (Ibid.)
Now, what does all of this mean in this great period of history? It means that we’ve got to stay together. We’ve got to stay together and maintain unity. You know, whenever Pharaoh wanted to prolong the period of slavery in Egypt, he had a favorite, favorite formula for doing it. What was that? He kept the slaves fighting among themselves. (Ibid.)
Jesus died on the Cross and while resurrected blessed us with the gift of the the eternal Holy Spirit, and thus his message of unity, strength, hope, and love is eternal.
The message of Jesus is antonymic to hate or fear. We can not stand idly by as fascists take to the streets with their malfeasant message of hatred and tribalism. We cannot allow any more pogroms under our watch. As long as we have that eternal Holy Spirit within us, or for those who can’t relate to that statement, as long as the power of love keeps us moving as a hopeful people towards the removal of a tyranny based on bigotry and hatred, and instead towards unity and love, we will not stop, we will not falter, we will not quit until the light drives out the darkness.
“I’ve seen the needle and the damage done” sings Neil Young. We can relate to that verse. Due to overdoses, A whole generation of young men and women are dead, dying, lost. I have lost so many family members and friends to this insidious disease. Collectively, we shed a sacred river of tears. Today, I thought of the congregation of friends and family who have succumbed to addiction.
When it comes to a social issue that has resulted in the death of some of the kindest, loving, and gentle souls whose acquaintance I was blessed to make, I am duty bound to ask why this epidemic has gotten so out of control–I am duty bound to research and explore, and find some answers.
And I’m not writing this article for MD’s and PhD’s (yet they should not consider this a snub, and, if solicitous of the research, should continue reading). I am writing this for you: the addict, the addict’s friend, the addict’s family member. And if I start to lose your attention because of my choice of words or my citing of research, please be confident that in the end, you will understand what I have to say.
Please believe in your ability to produce a positive change in society. Your questions, answers, and experiences matter to me, and matter to the lives you spare when your share your story of how faith, hope, and love saved your life and ordained you with a serenity that a superficial high just cannot compare to.
Always remember what our goal is here: we are trying to figure out why all our friends are dying to a vicious disease–a disease that, if we’re being honest, wants to kill me, wants to kill your loved ones, or wants to kill you.
Already some of you have open-and-closed my research. “Addiction is a progressive disease that if left untreated results in death.” I agree with that statement, and so doesn’t the American Medical Association. But addiction is not a unique psychological illness. There are social/environmental causes that precipitates the disease.
One need only compare the rates of addiction in The United States with that of other countries.
It is highly unlikely that everyone with the biological trait that makes addiction more probable, somehow ended up in the United States.
Something precipitates addiction in American society, whether it is political or sociological/social psychological. There is an anomaly in the United States that leads to the highest rates of addiction in the world. The answers to the question, “Why have I lost so many people to this disease?” is closer to being answered when we discover these anomalies.
Let’s take a look at the political anomalies. The United States has a political system that requires candidates to consistently raise money. A congressperson is required to raise $15,000 a week to hold on to his or her seat. That money is not coming from you or me. It is coming from the pharmaceutical lobby. (Aliyah Frumin, “How much does it cost to win a seat in Congress? Well, if you have to ask…” Hardball with Chris Matthews. MSNBC. Retrieved from http://www.msnbc.com/hardball/how-much-does-it-cost-win-seat-congre Accessed on 17 August 17)
So far this year, the lobbyists for the pharmaceutical industry have spent $1,657,260,107 on bribing your federally elected representatives to pass laws that benefit the pharmaceutical industry (retrieved from OpenSecrets.org on 9 March 2017).
Money has a harmful influence on our government, but senators like Senator John McCain witnessed the greed and harm that infected our federally elected politicians. Senator McCain pushed for limits on the amount of money special interests could donate (or legally bribe) to our elected representatives. With Senator Feingold, he promulgated legislation that would limit soft money contributions to campaigns.
The conservative Supreme Court’s Decision in the Citizens United v. The FEC now allows corporations to donate limitless amounts of cash to Super PAC’s. Super PAC’s ostensibly do not coordinate with campaigns, but folks with no official role in the campaign act as the mediators between the campaigns and their Super PAC’s. After the nomination process the DNC and RNC act as the mediators. Essentially, since Citizens United, bribery of federal officials is a legal act.
Why is this important to the issue of addiction? The money donated to campaigns by Purdue Pharma, for example, have had devastating affects on the opiate epidemic. Purdue Pharma, “greased the wheel” for FDA approval. And at the time, there were no laws prohibiting companies like Purdue Pharma from enticing doctors and medical professionals from prescribing certain drugs. In Democracy’s Edge, Frances Moore Lappé writes:
…consider that throughout the 1990’s, pharmaceutical manufacturers poured more than $108 million into campaigns for federal candidates and their parties while the Food and Drug administration approved twice as many drugs in half the time it used to take to review them…hundreds of people have died while taking drugs that were later pulled from the market.
– Lappé, Frances Moore. Democracy’s Edge. Jossey-Bass. 2006. p. 59
The 90’s was the OxyContin Era. It led many people to heroin, and heroin has led to fentanyl–an opiate 100% stronger than morphine.
Did the prescribing Doctor tell people how addictive OxyContin is and how tolerance increases, which requires one to take a higher quantity to feel the same effect? It is doubtful. These drugs were pushed on medical professionals by pharmaceutical industries. According to Forbes Magazine:
The FDA approved the medication in 1995 and it soon took off. By 2003 OxyContin sales hit $1.6 billion as the drug helped drive a huge nationwide spike in opioid prescribing. At its peak in 2012, doctors wrote more than 282 million prescriptions for opioid painkillers, including OxyContin, Vicodin and Percocet – nearly enough for every American to have a bottle. (Chase Peterson-Withorn, “Fortune of Family Behind OxyContin” Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/chasewithorn/2016/06/29/fortune-of-family-behind-oxycontin-drops-amid-declining-prescriptions/ accessed on 9 August 2017)
Let’s discuss the corrosive proclivities that exist in the social psychological make up of American society–a pervasive sense of hopelessness in the souls of most American addicts presupposes a sort spiritual malady. The genesis of this spiritual malady begins at a young age. We are exposed to commercials and advertisements that darken our souls with the belief that happiness is an external search. We seek money and material goods more than we seek peace, happiness and serenity, which can only be found in the deepest recesses of our minds.
The Jesuits at BC High taught me that happiness requires that we commit acts of justice–we must be “men for others”. And I never feel more fulfilled while engaging in acts of justice–particularly social justice.
And acts of economic justice are necessary to combat the socioeconomic factor in the addiction epidemic. Neoliberalism began with Reagan, and continued with Clintons and the DLC who sought to turn the Democratic Party into a fiscally conservative party.
The middle class has slowly disappeared. No jobs, the inability to take care of one’s family, the rampant hopelessness, all lead to drug use. (Carl Latkin, PhD.; Aaron Curry, PhD; Wei Hua, MD, MS; Melissa Davey MPH, CHES; “Direct and Indirect Associations of Neighborhood Disorder with Drug Use and High Risk Sexual Partners” American Journal of Preventative Medicine Vol. 32 Issue 6 (2007) http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0749379707001110 Accessed on 16 August 17
The United Nations has been able to quantify the happiness of each country. The countries that are the most happy are Norway, Denmark, Iceland, and Switzerland. What do these countries have in common: universal healthcare, union membership of 80-90%, free day care, good schools, lack of corruption in business and governance. (Retrieved from http://worldhappiness.report/ed/2017/) Essentially these countries learned–a long time ago, at around the same time we were unlearning it–that the economic power of the United States came from the strength of the middle class created by the Keynesian economic model. FDR used this model as the basis for promulgating social security and medicare.
Our friends that have succumbed to this diabolical disease are not just the victims of their genetic make up. They are the victims of a society the values money and materialism over human life. Our society is based on the lie that materialism and self-interest are the traditional traits of American Society. This is an egregious lie.
Corporations have reduced us to consumers who seek happiness through external means. When we seek happiness externally we are bound to feel the pain of an inconspicuous oppression. Corporate greed and the milieu it has created has formed a society of demoralized citizens. This demoralization of our society is the reason we have lost so many friends. Rebellion is not antonymic to The Constitution and Declaration of Independence. Are we going to fight back, or will we continue to allow the demoralization of society by corporate America? If we don’t do something about corporations that make drugs like OxyContin getting away with killing our friends, we ourselves our sinners.
MLK beautifully writes of Aquinas’ view of human law: “An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust…”
The current tax plan benefits the wealthy and corrupt, avaricious American corporations. Some of these corporations caused the Great Recession. Why would conservatives, who now control every federal branch of the government with the help of their their most dependable demographic, the Christian Right, give away much needed revenue, which serves to positively reinforce egregiously unethical corporate behavior? The Obama Administration’s morally sound decision to save many ordinary citizens’ from further financial hardships by the promulgation of a stimulus package that included stipulations, i.e., the money had to be used for loans to America’s businesses saved the national economy, and, which in turn, saved the international capitalistic system brought to brinksmanship due to the promulgation of the neoliberal agenda by Reagan, Clinton, and W Bush: the deregulation of Wall Street and the shift away from government oversight towards a Laissez Faire economic model.
How anyone justifies supporting a tax plan which increases taxes on the folks who saved corporate America’s ass, while an already wealthy corporate, which never stopped its malfeasant behavior, including pushing Citizens United–their successful coup of our government. It’s now their government. Their coup ensures that Congress and the White House are controlled by conservatives who espouse Friedman Economics. Hence, we have a tax bill written by the candidates who which will eliminate subsidies for Obamacare, the poorest citizens continue to suffer and die due to right wing values.
People who call themselves a Christian, yet support a bill that is antithetical to Jesus’ teachings, are either completely ignorant to the teachings of the Divine Being whom, as a Catholic, I consider the Son of Man/The Son of God commit blasphemy when
Bill of Rights were born out of God’s Natural Law. We have a right to them. And indeed our Founders believed natural law comes from God, just as Aquinas did. John Quincy Adams writes:
,The highest glory of the American Revolution was this: it connected in one indissoluble bond the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.
Jesus, Aquinas, and The Founders sought not to divide us into factions; instead they sought to unite us under God’s Natural Law. Trump and his supporters iniquitously seek to divide us at home according to skin color, and to divide the world into the Muslim World and the West. It is a complete deviation of Catholicism, Christianity, and American Principles. Why are Trump’s critics so incensed? They are vexed that Trump and those who support him deviate so acutely from our national principles, especially when so many have fought and died for those principles.
Two wars are often cited when one speaks of men and women making the ultimate sacrifice for our natural rights bequeathed by God: The Revolutionary War and World War II. And then there are folks, who blasphemously wrap themselves in the American flag while harboring the most hateful, racist beliefs. They have not the faintest notion of what that flag represents.
They voted for a man who is antonymic to the principles that those Americans died protecting. In dying, the heroes of our nation hoped to make eternal a country rooted in God’s great, sacred, and undeniable rights–they made the ultimate sacrifice for the American values that are now under attack. The Preamble to the Constitution states:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that ALL men are created equal. That they were endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. – Thomas Jefferson
Trump does not subscribe to these fundamentally Christian and American beliefs. He has spurned equality by avouching ubiquitous racist and sexist rhetoric. Trump demonstrates his disregard for the right to life with his tax breaks to the wealthy and a vindictive drive to destroy the American Affordable Heath Care Act (Obamacare).
Obamacare has saved the 50,000 American lives (retrieved from https://www.ahrq.gov/sites/default/files/wysiwyg/professionals/quality-patient-safety/pfp/interimhacrate2013.pdf on 3 August 2017)
Even if one argues the semantics of the previously cited research, it is accurate to say that many Americans diagnosed with cancer prior to Obamacare often declared bankruptcy, sold their homes, and their possessions, just to stay alive. Obamacare keeps people in their homes, prevents people from selling their possessions, and allows them to focus on getting treatment, without worrying about securing the money necessary to pay for treatment.
Yet Trump is lobbying Congress to repeal this law without anything to replace it. Millions would lose their health insurance coverage. The Consitution guarentees the right to life; nowhere does it say that you have an undeniable right to life, if you have Blue Cross and no pre-existing conditions. His tax breaks and bloated military budget take from the “least of these” and give to those who have plenty, while ignoring our natural right to life.
Trump demonstrated on multiple levels his disdain our most sacred democratic right: the right to vote. Before his election, he cried that the system was rigged. As an excuse for losing the popular vote by 3 million votes, and as an excuse for not uniting the country after such a divisive election, he fabricated a narrative that our election was highjacked by “illegals.” Overwhelming evidence proves that he is lying to the American people when he claims that millions of illegals voted.
The highjacking of this election occurred when Trump treacherously colluded with the Russian government to damage his opponent. He has demonstrated his scorn for the sacred right that is an essential component of any healthy democracy. It is our natural right and the people’s sovereign power to elect their leader without undue, outside influence.
Every president should respect and revere God’s Natural Law set forth in both the Constitution and Christianity. Donald Trump, who constantly attacks our most sacred democratic institutions and ignores our most deeply held beliefs, such as the election process and the right to life; whose treacherous use of Russian intelligence to influence the election, which was nothing short of a coup; is antonymic to God’s Natural Law, The Constitution, and Christianity.
Paul Adams Jr.