President Trump issued an Executive Order on religious liberty today, the National Day of Prayer:
EXECUTIVE ORDER PROMOTING FREE SPEECH AND RELIGIOUS LIBERTY
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, in order to guide the executive branch in formulating and implementing policies with implications for the religious liberty of persons and organizations in America, and to further compliance with the Constitution and with applicable statutes and Presidential Directives, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Policy. It shall be the policy of the executive branch to vigorously enforce Federal law’s robust protections for religious freedom. The Founders envisioned a Nation in which religious voices and views were integral to a vibrant public square, and in which religious people and institutions were free to practice their faith without fear of discrimination or retaliation by the Federal Government. For that reason, the United States Constitution enshrines and protects the fundamental right to religious liberty as Americans’ first freedom. Federal law protects the freedom of Americans and their organizations to exercise religion and participate fully in civic life without undue interference by the Federal Government. The executive branch will honor and enforce those protections.
Sec. 2. Respecting Religious and Political Speech. All executive departments and agencies (agencies) shall, to the greatest extent practicable and to the extent permitted by law, respect and protect the freedom of persons and organizations to engage in religious and political speech. In particular, the Secretary of the Treasury shall ensure, to the extent permitted by law, that the Department of the Treasury does not take any adverse action against any individual, house of worship, or other religious organization on the basis that such individual or organization speaks or has spoken about moral or political issues from a religious perspective, where speech of similar character has, consistent with law, not ordinarily been treated as participation or intervention in a political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) a candidate for public office by the Department of the Treasury. As used in this section, the term “adverse action” means the imposition of any tax or tax penalty; the delay or denial of tax-exempt status; the disallowance of tax deductions for contributions made to entities exempted from taxation under section 501(c)(3) of title 26, United States Code; or any other action that makes unavailable or denies any tax deduction, exemption, credit, or benefit.
Sec. 3. Conscience Protections with Respect to Preventive-Care Mandate. The Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Labor, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall consider issuing amended regulations, consistent with applicable law, to address conscience-based objections to the preventive-care mandate promulgated under section 300gg-13(a)(4) of title 42, United States Code.
Sec. 4. Religious Liberty Guidance. In order to guide all agencies in complying with relevant Federal law, the Attorney General shall, as appropriate, issue guidance interpreting religious liberty protections in Federal law.
As per our report last night that following the expiration of the litigation freeze, Puerto Rico’s creditors had filed a barrage of lawsuits against the insolvent Commonwealth a bankruptcy was imminent, moments ago Puerto Rico’s governor announced the commonwealth will request bankruptcy protection of a portion of the island’s $70 billion in debt, setting up a showdown with Wall Street firms owed billions of dollars, in what will be the largest-ever U.S. municipal debt restructuring and further complicating the U.S. territory’s efforts to pull itself out of a financial crisis.
The Puerto Rico restructuring would be far larger than Detroit’s record-setting bankruptcy, with little to no details how long a court proceeding would last or what cuts would are imposed on bondholders. The island’s financial recovery plan covers less than a quarter of the debt payments due over the next decade.
Cited by AP, Gov. Ricardo Rossello said Wednesday that a federal control board overseeing the island’s finances has agreed with his request to put the debts before a court. He told reporters that he has requested that the U.S. territory’s federal financial oversight board commence a Title III proceeding under last year’s Puerto Rico rescue law known as PROMESA. Title III is an in-court debt restructuring process similar to U.S. Bankruptcy.
Distinguished Mr. President of the Republic of Poland!
Eminences and Excellencies!
Honorable Ladies and Gentlemen!
With great and profound emotion, gratitude and joy, I learned the news that, on the occasion of my 90th birthday, with the honorary patronage of the President of the Republic of Poland, high representatives of the state and ecclesial authorities of Poland will meet for a scientific conference on the theme: “The concept of the State in the perspective of the teaching of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger / Benedict XVI”.
The chosen theme brings together state and ecclesial authorities to dialogue about an essential question for the future of our Continent. The clash between radically atheistic conceptions of the State and the emergence of a radically religious state in the Islamist movements, leads our time into an explosive situation, the consequences of which we experience every day. These radicalisms urgently demand that we develop a convincing conception of the State that sustains the clash with these challenges and can overcome them.
In the travail of the last half century, with Bishop-Witness Cardinal Wyszyński and with Pope Saint John Paul II, Poland has given humanity two great figures, who not only reflected on this question, but have brought to it their own suffering and lived experience, and thus they continue to point the way to the future.
With my cordial gratitude for the work that their Excellencies propose in this circumstance, I impart to them all my paternal blessing,
Strong, strong content warning for the above video. Remember when Bishop Barron and Mark Shea were celebrating how Catholic left wing comic Stephen Colbert was? Go here to read about it. Well model Catholic Colbert delivered an unfunny and obscene rant against Trump this week that stands out among the hate filled screeds that have dominated left wing commentary since the election of Trump. Humor is hard, hate is easy.
Toast offered by President Jackson, April 13, 1830
Another tale in the ongoing annals of Trump Derangement Syndrome. Let me say at the outset that I doubt if Donald Trump knows all that much about Andrew Jackson. Like most Americans, his knowledge of American history is superficial. Most politicians fit into this category. Certainly Obama, who didn’t know how to pronounce medical corpsman and Joe Biden who recalled television addresses by Franklin Delano Roosevelt were in that category. I regret this, but such ignorance is not considered newsworthy unless the politician displaying ignorance is Donald Trump or some other Republican.
Trump in an interview with the Washington Examiner’s Salena Zito, mused that if Andrew Jackson had been born a little bit later perhaps he could have stopped the Civil War. Go here to read about the interview. In the interview Trump fully displays his limited knowledge of history especially in regard to the Civil War. Trump finds the parallels between himself and Jackson flattering and was attempting to play up his knowledge of Jackson and fell on his face while doing so. The media has been having a field day with this, hauling out historians to denounce Trump. What has been missed is that Trump was correct on his main point.
Andrew Jackson, born in 1767 ,was a veteran of the American Revolution, something that marked him for life. When the Declaration of Independence was issued, he was picked to read it aloud to his largely illiterate frontier community. Both of Jackson’s brothers fought in the War and died in it. He served in the militia and at the age of 13, as a POW, refused to shine a British officer’s boots and received a saber cut on his forehead for his defiance. Like most Americans who fought in the Revolution, his service inspired in him a deep love for the new nation he had helped to create. For all his days he was an ardent American patriot and a defender of the Union. His steadfast stance against nullification during the Nullification Crisis of 1832 was completely in character as was his threat to lead an American army against South Carolina if it seceded and to hang every secessionist he could get his hands upon. Although he was pro-slavery, I have no doubt that if he had been alive at the time of the Civil War he would likely have fought for the Union. His state of Tennessee was divided during the war with East Tennessee being a hotbed of Union sentiment. The man who considered himself the political heir of Andrew Jackson, Andrew Johnson, was the only Southern Senator to stand by the Union. His admirers called him Young Hickory, and in that I think they were absolutely correct. In his love for the Union he shared with Jackson a sentiment that would override all sectional allegiances. Abraham Lincoln understood this aspect of Jackson. He had spent his entire political life fighting the political party founded by Jackson, yet in his office during the Civil War, he had an engraved portrait of Jackson hanging over his fireplace. If Jackson had been President in 1860 I have no doubt that he would have taken action to militarily quelch secession. Whether he would have been successful is another question. However if Jackson had been there secessionists dreaming of a peaceful withdrawal from the Union would have realized that this dream was a delusion.
Sandro Magister explains our “low-intensity” Pope:
The most updated diagnoses of the religious phenomenon in the West converge in defining it as “low-intensity.” Fluid, with no more dogmas, without binding authorities. Highly visible, but irrelevant in the public arena.
Even Catholicism is reshaping itself this way. And the pontificate of Francis is adapting in a spectacular way to this new phenomenology, in its successes and in its limitations.
As a good Jesuit, Jorge Mario Bergoglio instinctively goes along with the signs of the times. He is not even trying to stem the growing diversification within the Church. On the contrary, he is encouraging it.
He is not responding to the cardinals who submit “doubts” to him and ask him to bring clarity.
He is giving free rein to even the most reckless opinions, like those of the new general of the Jesuits, the Venezuelan Arturo Sosa Abascal, according to whom it is not possible to know what Jesus really said “because there were no recorders.”
And he himself has been telling some whoppers, without any fear of toppling the fundamental articles of the Creed.
Last March 17, during an audience at the Apostolic Palace, to explain what he means by “unity in difference” he even said that “inside the Holy Trinity they’re all arguing behind closed doors, but on the outside they give the picture of unity.”
On April 19, in a general audience Saint Peter’s Square, he said that the death of Jesus is a historical fact but his resurrection is not, it is only an act of faith.
On April 4, in a homily at Santa Marta, he said that on the Cross “Jesus made himself devil, serpent.”
And these are only the latest of a not-small collection of reckless statements, which however glide away like water on marble, without effect on public opinion both Catholic and not, for which this pope continues to be popular in part because he will say anything, with tranquility.
(I originally posted this back in 2009. Old Hickory is back in the news because of President Trump’s musings upon him. As a result I decided to repost this.)
I have never liked President’s Day. Why celebrate loser presidents like Jimmy Carter and James Buchanan, non-entities like Millard Fillmore, bad presidents, like Grant, with great presidents like Washington and Lincoln? We have had other great presidents, and one of them, although Republican as I am I bridle on bestowing the title upon him, was Andrew Jackson. No one was ever neutral about Old Hickory. He is described as the father of the Democrat party. Actually, both major parties owe their existence to him. The Whig party, the main ancestor of the modern Republican party, was founded in opposition to Jackson’s policies.
PopeWatch has long been convinced that the key to understanding Pope Francis is looking at his life in Argentina. George Neumayr looks at one part of his life in Argentina;
The “boss” to whom Pope Francis referred is Esther Ballestrino de Careaga. He has described her as a “Paraguayan woman” and a “fervent communist.” He considers her one of his most important mentors. “I owe a huge amount to that great woman,” he has said, saying that she “taught me so much about politics.” (He worked for her as an assistant at Hickethier-Bachmann Laboratory in Buenos Aires.)
“She often read Communist Party texts to me and gave them to me to read. So I also got to know that very materialistic conception. I remember that she also gave me the statement from the American Communists in defense of the Rosenbergs, who had been sentenced to death,” he has said. Learning about communism, he said, “through a courageous and honest person was helpful. I realized a few things, an aspect of the social, which I then found in the social doctrine of the Church.” As the archbishop of Buenos Aires, he took pride in helping her hide the family’s Marxist literature from the authorities who were investigating her. According to the author James Carroll, Bergoglio smuggled her communist books, including Marx’s Das Kapital, into a “Jesuit library.”
“Tragically, Ballestrino herself ‘disappeared’ at the hands of security forces in 1977,” reported Vatican correspondent John Allen. “Almost three decades later, when her remains were discovered and identified, Bergoglio gave permission for her to be buried in the garden of a Buenos Aires church called Santa Cruz, the spot where she had been abducted. Her daughter requested that her mother and several other women be buried there because ‘it was the last place they had been as free people.’ Despite knowing full well that Ballestrino was not a believing Catholic, the future pope readily consented.”
These biographical details throw light on the pope’s ideological instincts. Yet many commentators have ignored them, breezily casting his leftism as a bit confused but basically harmless.
“I must say that communists have stolen our flag. The flag of the poor is Christian,” he said in 2014. Such a comment would have startled his predecessors. They didn’t see communism as a benign exaggeration.
It is not Germany that will turn Bolshevist but Bolshevism that will become a sort of National Socialism. Besides, there is more that binds us to Bolshevism than separates us from it…. I have always made allowance for this circumstance, and given orders that former Communists are to be admitted to the party at once. The petit bourgeois Social-Democrat and the trade union boss will never make a National Socialist, but the Communist always will.
Dennis Prager examines why Communism is not as hated as Nazism. The answer really is quite simple: the West is infested with people in influential places who regard Communism as basically a mistaken ideology for people who have their hearts in the right place. They view the goals of Communism as laudable even if their methods were mistaken. Marx is regarded as a serious philosopher rather than a bad economist whose writings were seized upon by disgruntled intellectuals to justify seizing power and using police state methods to keep themselves in power. Nazism is regarded as an abomination and its adherents banished to the fringes of society. Marxists hold academic seats throughout the Western world. The Pope has literally said that some of his best friends were Communists. Can anyone imagine that he would dream about saying the same thing of Nazis, even though there were more than a few Nazis and Nazi sympathizers in the Argentina of his youth and young adulthood?
Perhaps it all comes down to the fact that racism is considered akin to original sin in the contemporary world, while hating people for economic reasons is considered noble. Until we recognize that such hate is two sides of the same ugly coin, the world will continue to risk repeating the errors of the last century in this one.
President Trump proclaimed today as Loyalty Day and the port side of our politics went crazy on twitter, the above photo allegedly from the Ivanka Trump Loyalty Day Collection being one sample. Go here to read all about it. The problem is that May 1 has been Loyalty Day by Federal law starting in 1955 and all Presidents since, including Obama, have proclaimed it to be such. Go here to read my post on Loyalty Day in 2014. Trump Derangement Syndrome is not merely a political brickbat, but it is a real phenomenon, and it would be pointed out as such if so many of the chattering classes in reporting, the professions, academia and entertainment were not deeply in the throes of it.
The Pope is busily dispensing some of his patented mercy again to faithful Catholics:
Pope Francis spoke critically again of the faithful who have a strong embrace of Catholic doctrine, resorting to pejorative terms he has often used such as hypocritical and phariseeism.
“You cannot be more restrictive than the Church herself,” he told a lay association gathered Thursday morning at the Vatican, “nor more Papist than the Pope.”
Addressing the Congress of the International Forum of Catholic Action in the Synod Hall, the pope told participants he wanted them to be out among the people and that there is a need for “active mercy.”
The theme for the association’s three-day gathering was “Catholic Action is mission, with all and for all.”
“Do not be border police,” he told the conference.
“Please, open the doors,” Pope Francis stated, “don’t administer Christian perfection tests because you will only promote a hypocritical phariseeism.”
He also warned Thursday against trying to clericalize the laity.
Compelling laypeople into a vocation because they perform valued service to the Church instead leaving this to the Holy Spirit “worries me,” Pope Francis said, according to the Catholic Herald. “Do not clericalize!”
The pope spoke negatively as well about “proselytism or coercion,” the Herald report said, “which goes against the Gospel.”
“It makes me really sad to see people who are in ministry – lay, consecrated, priests, bishops – who are still playing the proselytism card,” he stated. “No! It is done through attraction. That is the genius phrase of Pope Benedict XVI.”
The notion of working to convert others to the faith is something he has repeatedly criticized previously.
“That has nothing to do with proselytism,” he said of low priest numbers in Germany. “By proselytism, you will not gain vocations … ”
He defined proselytism as “the poaching of those with a different faith, like with a charity organization who poaches members. Then many young people come, who do not feel called, and ruin the Church.”
The pope stated in October that “there is a very grave sin against ecumenism: proselytism. We should never proselytize the Orthodox!”
Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
Today is the Feast Day of Saint Joseph the Worker and Victims of Communism Day. Pius XII instituted the feast in 1955. In 1949 he issued the Decree Against Communism which excommunicated all Catholics collaborating with Communist organizations.
In a message to the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, Pope Francis makes clear that what really makes his blood boil is libertarianism:
Finally, I cannot but speak of the serious risks associated with the invasion, at high levels of culture and education in both universities and in schools, of positions of libertarian individualism. A common feature of this fallacious paradigm is that it minimizes the common good, that is, “living well”, a “good life” in the community framework, and exalts the selfish ideal that deceptively proposes a “beautiful life”. If individualism affirms that it is only the individual who gives value to things and interpersonal relationships, and so it is only the individual who decides what is good and what is bad, then libertarianism, today in fashion, preaches that to establish freedom and individual responsibility, it is necessary to resort to the idea of “self-causation”. Thus libertarian individualism denies the validity of the common good because on the one hand it supposes that the very idea of “common” implies the constriction of at least some individuals, and the other that the notion of “good” deprives freedom of its essence.
The radicalization of individualism in libertarian and therefore anti-social terms leads to the conclusion that everyone has the “right” to expand as far as his power allows, even at the expense of the exclusion and marginalization of the most vulnerable majority. Bonds would have to be cut inasmuch as they would limit freedom. By mistakenly matching the concept of “bond” to that of “constraint”, one ends up confusing what may condition freedom – the constraints – with the essence of created freedom, that is, bonds or relations, family and interpersonal, with the excluded and marginalized, with the common good, and finally with God.
Other than the diplomatic debacle of Germany attempting to tempt Mexico to engage in a hopeless war with the US if America and Germany went to war which led to the Zimmerman Telegram, Imperial Germany had no plans to invade the US, having more than it could handle in Europe and the Middle East. However, plans had been drawn up to invade the US from 1897 to 1903 at the request of the Kaiser who was perturbed at the growing global influence of the US.
The first plan written by a German naval Lieutenant envisaged a naval war of the east coast of the US with raids against American east coast naval bases.
After American victory in the Spanish-American War, the plan was revised to include German troop landings and occupation of Boston and New York.
A third and final plan concentrated on bringing America to the negotiating table by seizing Puerto Rico and establishing a naval base there and polished up the ideas of invading at Boston and New York. The plan noted that none of this could be undertaken unless Germany enjoyed peace in Europe.