Monday, May 2, 2016

Daniel J. Berrigan


When I turned to the NY Times this morning, as I do nearly every morning, I was saddened to learn of the death of Father Daniel J. Berrigan. He was a man – a Jesuit – a Catholic Priest – who had an enormous impact on my life and my thinking. And, Father Berrigan had a huge sense of fairness, righteousness and justice.
by Charlie Leck

I was surprised to learn from the obituary that Father Daniel J. Berrigan was born here in Minnesota in 1921 – to a father of Irish descent and a mother of German nationality. He came to my attention in the early sixties while I was struggling about the questions of racial injustice and about the senselessness of our nation’s war in Vietnam. Berrigan spoke boldly and clearly about both of these issues. And certainly, he must be regarded as one of the most important historical figures who early-on condemned the Vietnam war as gruesome, cruel and unnecessary.

Berrigan’s protest against the war was not just an academic matter, but he took to the streets and was willing to defy legal standards in order to awaken the nation to the “unrighteousness” of this war.

For instance, he and his brother, Philip, (also a priest) were arrested in 1967 for stealing draft records in Baltimore and pouring blood upon them. In 1968, Daniel and historian, Howard Zinn, traveled to Hanoi during the Tet Offensive to receive three American airmen who were being held as prisoners of war. After that he stepped up his very visible protests against the war and became a very recognized clergyman against our activities in Vietnam.

Because of Berrigan (and the young William Sloan Coffin, Jr.), I spoke from the pulpit of my church sometime during 1968 against the war and declared that Christians were called by Christ to stand in opposition to such unjust and unnecessary combat. I firmly believed it then and believe it as rigorously today.

Berrigan, however, took his protest to a new level. He accused and charged that America’s churches and synagogues were standing silent in the face of this unjust and unnecessary war.

Beginning in 1968, more and more prominent clergyman, all across America, began to speak up against the war and also joined protestors by marching in the streets, clogging traffic and making it difficult to enter or exit the entrances to federal buildings. I took place in such marches in 1968 and 1969 and Berrigan and Coffin were my constant inspirations.

So, I spent a few silent moments this morning thinking again of the toughness and faithfulness of Daniel J. Berrigan who died at the age of 94.

I recommend the obituary in the NY Times to you.
____________________



Why not become a follower?If you read my blog regularly, why not become a follower? All you have to do is click in the upper right hand corner and establish a simple means of communication. Then you'll be informed every time a new blog is posted here. If all that's confusing, here's Google's explanation of how to do it! If you don’t want to post comments on the blog, but would like to communicate with me about it, send me an email if you’d like.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Looking Presidential


There seems to be a significant amount of criticism of women that is streaming out of the Republican Party; and criticism, in general, about candidates of both gender who do not look presidential. Is looking the part something we’ll need to worry about?
by Charlie Leck

Imagine this if you will: Ted Cruz as Lucifer! He’d be very pale and white skinned, with white hair, red eyes and very yellowed teeth. Two of those upper teeth, one of each side of his mouth, protrude out from his mouth and go nearly halfway down his chin. Blood seeps from his gums. I would say this is not a very presidential look.

Former Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, forced my imagination to create this image of Senator Cruz this morning. I read what he said Thursday about Mr. Cruz…

        “Lucifer in the flesh! I have Democrat friends and Republican friends. I get along
        with almost everyone, but I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch!”

Not the kind of picture one would want to draw in his mind about the primary resident in the White House, is it?

Donald Trump has had a bad habit of painting nasty images in our minds – images of people he doesn’t much care for. Months ago he talked about how very ugly Carly Fiorina was (is)! Now the lady is a candidate to become Vice President if Ted Cruz would happen to win the nomination. The devil she is!

“Look at that face,” Trump said in talking about Fiorina. “Look at that face!”

Trump has also had some unkind things to say about Hillary Clinton. “If Hillary were a man,” he said, “I don’t think she’d get 5 percent of the vote.” Trump then complained that Hillary was playing the “woman card!” Er! What!

“If fighting for women’s health care and paid family leave and equal pay is playing the ‘woman card,’” Hillary responded, “then deal me in!”

Talking about appearances, a Gallup poll that was conducted nationwide shows that 70 percent of women have a very negative view of Donald Trump.

Mr. Trump should talk about ugly, ey? My goodness! With that hair? That artificial sun-bake on his face! Those squinting eyes! That mysterious grin!

Yet, it’s true that Trump talks positively about his own look and appearance, telling a Pennsylvania crowd how handsome and presidential he looks. Donald, the mirror is lying to you!

Oh, my goodness, I’m beginning to play the game myself. Shut my mouth!

What Trump was really saying is that presidents look like men! Well, to this point in history he is correct, but it might be time to change that image. Women have done quite well – thank you very much – leading major nations such as England and Germany.

I find the idea of a female in the White House quite exciting.

Trump, to state the case honestly, is only a hair’s breadth away from winning the nomination. The infamous Ted Cruz – the John Kasich alliance was declared dead yesterday. At least that’s what “Lyin’ Ted Cruz” said. “There is no alliance,” Ted told the media. “What?” That’s how John Kasich’s chief strategist responded when he heard about what Ted said. “I can’t stand liars,” John Weaver said about Cruz.

What we have here, folks, is a failure to communicate! That’s not uncommon with Mr. Trump. Fact checkers have been performing hours and hours of investigations of statements Mr. Trump has made in the last week. He’s made an intense number of misstatements that I am politely not calling lies. This list in this morning’s paper was quite long. Included in the lies (misstatements) is his assertion that his campaign is “totally self-funded.” Indeed, it is not! He’s received more than 12 million dollars in donations.

In climax today, just in case you didn’t see it or read it, here’s what the remarkable David Brooks said in his NY Times column yesterday morning (If Not Trump, What?).

        “Donald Trump now looks set to be the Republican nominee. So for those of us
        appalled by this prospect – what are we supposed to do?

        “Well, not what the leaders of the Republican Party are doing. They’re going down
        meekly and hoping for a quiet convention. They seem blithely unaware that his is a
        Joe McCarthy moment. People will be judged by where they stood at this time.
        Those who walked with Trump will be tainted forever after for the degradation of
        standards and the general election slaughter.”

Not a pretty picture either! Oh, my! Not even Shakespeare could have devised this tragic plot! And we shall have to live it in reality.

Nevertheless, I put my faith is the basic goodness and common sense of the American people! Am I wrong?
____________________


Why not become a follower?If you read my blog regularly, why not become a follower? All you have to do is click in the upper right hand corner and establish a simple means of communication. Then you'll be informed every time a new blog is posted here. If all that's confusing, here's Google's explanation of how to do it! If you don’t want to post comments on the blog, but would like to communicate with me about it, send me an email if you’d like.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Can You Believe It, Charlie?

The writing appears to be on the wall. The 2016 presidential campaign seems to be set. I can’t imagine that either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump will be derailed. They will both be nominated to run for the office of President of the United States by their respective parties. Can you f’en believe it?
by Charlie Leck


Ted Cruz is still acting dopey – and I guess that's because he is! Poor Lyin’ Ted, as Donald Trump has baptized him, is still thrashing around, scamming and praying for enough support to derail the Donald; however, Ted’s body is getting colder and stiffer and he’s done. Bernie Sanders, a remarkable and good, good man, is also finished and layin’ off dozens and dozens of campaign workers.

With all kind consideration to Yogi and his laws of nature and competition (“It ain’t over ‘til it’s over!"), these campaigns are over!

I, frankly, can’t believe it. It is the most remarkable political development in my entire life. Back twenty years ago it would have been more difficult for me to believe that a fella like Donald Trump could run for the presidency that it would have been to imagine a black man would reside in the White House.

Hitch up your pants and make sure you’ve got yer oldest, badest pair of shoes on – cause it’s gonna get muckier and smellier out here in the arena than you ever coulda believed. Yes, sireeebob!

This is a blogger’s dream! (Or nightmare!) Stay tuned! I’ll be writing three times a week between now and Election Day (8 November 2016).

____________________


Why not become a follower?If you read my blog regularly, why not become a follower? All you have to do is click in the upper right hand corner and establish a simple means of communication. Then you'll be informed every time a new blog is posted here. If all that's confusing, here's Google's explanation of how to do it! If you don’t want to post comments on the blog, but would like to communicate with me about it, send me an email if you’d like.

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Craziest Political Maneuvers of My Life Time!

One of my most significant pleasures (maybe it’s even a hobby) since the latter part of the 1960s has been observing national politics and the politics in my home state (Minnesota). I’m intrigued by the strange twists and turns politics takes in America. The last ten years have seen the most horrifying political activities I’ve ever witnessed – even stranger than the paranoiac activity of Richard M. Nixon and the very devious (and, I think, even illegal) manner in which Ronald Reagan ensured his presidential victory over Jimmy Carter.
by Charlie Leck


As for my own state, we’ve had some remarkable national and Minnesota politicians to observe and even analyze as a psychiatrist might – former congresswoman Michel Bachman and former governor and professional wrestler Jesse Ventura. In this time since the late sixties, we've also had some reasonable and stable Minnesota politicians to watch and try to figure out – Senator Eugene McCarthy (a scholar and poet) and his 1968 presidential bid that tore apart the traditional Democratic Party; Hubert H. Humphrey and his catastrophic loss to Richard M. Nixon is that 1968 election; Paul Wellstone’s ultra-liberal (but likeable and popular) tenure in the U.S. Senate; Norm Coleman (a thoroughly non-Minnesotan type of Minnesotan) and his occupation of a U.S. Senate seat for a short time); and now a former nationally-known comedian, Al Franken, getting himself elected, in a rout, to a seat in the U.S. Senate.

And now comes along Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders and Hillary (Mrs. Bill) Clinton. 2016 will be regarded as one of the most baffling, strange and ludicrous years in the history of American politics (it really, really will). So, you are living in a moment that will be regarded as very significant in American history, so shut up and pay attention and enjoy a few laughs, or even a lot of laughs, and guffaws

Neither national party has a monopoly hold on the strangeness, but I do think, if a cake were given to the weirdest political party situation, the Republican take one with double or triple chocolate with a dense filling of amazing, sticky, gooey stuff.

Donald Trump wants to be president of the United States and he has lots of followers who also want him to win his way to that national office. However, there are a lot of big-wigs in the national Republican Party who want him to go away and leave them alone. They have nearly as much distaste for the strange, evangelical Christian U.S. Senator from Texas, Ted Cruz. Together, these two guys, who are pursuing the nomination as the party candidate for the White House, have given the GOP party’s grand masters a heaping big bunch of ulcers.

Now – in the next several weeks – we get to watch how these top-shelf Republican masters will put together a strategy that will not allow Cruz or Trump to walk away from the national convention as the party’s presidential nominee. I’m betting on it and I’m preparing to watch the circus, and especially the clowns, very, very closely.

Donald Trump will not win the party’s nomination! Neither will Ted Cruz! Both are regarded by GOP insiders as losers and weirdos.

But, who will they put up instead? That is the wonderful question and that is what we, who love this kind of stuff, will try to figure out in the next several weeks. Will it be Mitt Romney who was found to be no match for President Obama in 2012? No, I don’t think so. Here, however, is a list of good and loyal Republicans who are very probably under consideration…

  • Paul Ryan (Speaker of the House of Representative and Wisconsin Congressman)
  • Condoleezza Rice (former Secretary of State and well-known scholar of no small proportion)
  • James N. Mattis (former U.S. Marine General and a strong intellectual)
  • Jeff Sessions (U.S. Senator from Alabama with a great deal of insider support)
  • Rick Scott (Governor of the State of Florida)
  • Ben Sasse (U.S. Senator from Nebraska and an early member of the never-Trump movement)
  • Tom Coburn (former U.S. Senator from Oklahoma and a super-conservative who is likable)

There are whispers about each of these loyal Republicans. However, if I were a betting man, I’d put my money on the Speaker of the House. He keeps shouting (perhaps too loudly and too boldly) that he is not a candidate and will not be a candidate; and that’s just the kind of thing good candidates keep saying in these days before the national convention in Cleveland).

I don’t like Ryan and I don’t want him to be President; however, I would not lock myself in my bedroom if he were elected and I wouldn’t threaten to move to some other nation. Now, if Mr. Trump or Mr. Cruz were elected to that high office I would immediately go into a permanent fetal position.

It’s all going to be fun, so sit back and watch; and don’t forget to vote early and often (especially if you’re a Democrat)!

My tax returns have been properly filled out and returned by mail to the Department of Revenue.

Why not become a follower?If you read my blog regularly, why not become a follower? All you have to do is click in the upper right hand corner and establish a simple means of communication. Then you'll be informed every time a new blog is posted here. If all that's confusing, here's Google's explanation of how to do it! If you don’t want to post comments on the blog, but would like to communicate with me about it, send me an email if you’d like.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

What has Mississippi gone and done now?

    The railroad station in 2008. I took this photograph
     on a return visit to Canton, Mississippi. The
     "colored" waiting room where I sat in 1964 was no
     longer there.

Mississippi ain’t one of my favorite states. I’ll tell you that! Mississippi and I don’t get along. There are a number of people, who live in Mississippi, who I just love like crazy. I could tell you about them, man, but that is not the purpose of this blog.
by Charlie Leck

“This is not politics! This is human rights!” Ellen DeGeneres

I’m writing today in support of the Governor of Minnesota, Mark Dayton, who has just banned any non-essential travel to Mississippi by Minnesota government employees on government business matters (except when it is absolutely essential). Governor Dayton, like I and a lot of other people, is very upset about what Mississippi has now gone and done.

Mississippi has passed, and the governor of that state has signed, a stupid bill (Religious Liberty Bill) that allows people with religious objections to deny LGBT people marriage, adoption and foster care services. And that ain’t all (as a Mississippian might easily say)! Residents may also refuse to sell such person any property or services.

This utterly stupid bill will allow churches, religious charities and any private businesses to decline services to people if doing so violates their religious beliefs on marriage and gender.

It’s time to write-off any future travel to Mississippi! It’s time for businesses to rise up and tell Mississippi that this law may cost millions and millions of dollars and many, many jobs for its residents. Mississipians don’t get it: Many corporations are dependent on their good relationships with the gay and lesbian communities.

Mississippi and I have never gotten along. I arrived there for the first time in my life on a Monday morning in 1964 – actually on June 22 – at about 8 o’clock in the morning! The famous old train, The City of New Orleans, dropped me and a few traveling partners off at the railroad station in the city of Canton. As we traveled through the dark night on that train, a number of KKK fellows stopped three young men on a back road between Philadelphia (MS) and Meridian. Those young men (only slightly more than boys) were murdered by the KKK and their bodies were secretly buried where the ungodly organization thought they’d never be found.

But you know this old story of Mississippi Burning! Don’t you?

I spent some awful days down there in that unwelcoming, inhospitable and damned horrible state! (But I’ve written about all of this here before and I needn’t repeat that! If you want to read my Mississippi Blogs, written in 2007, you can begin at…  http://chasblogs.blogspot.com/2007/12/remembering-sixties.html 

I’ve been back to Mississippi a couple of times since that 1964 visit and I don’t like the state a bit more than I did on my first visit.

It’s just that I’m not surprised that Mississippi would pass such a law. It’s the damned strangest state in the nation anyhow, so why wouldn’t it do something like this?

Let’s hope sensible corporations will put the pressure on Mississippi to repeal this law and get rid of it for good.


Why not become a follower?
If you read my blog regularly, why not become a follower? All you have to do is click in the upper right hand corner and establish a simple means of communication. Then you'll be informed every time a new blog is posted here. If all that's confusing, here's Google's explanation of how to do it! If you don’t want to post comments on the blog, but would like to communicate with me about it, send me an email if you’d like.

Friday, April 8, 2016

The Name of God is Mercy!


The Pope – the spiritual and intellectual head of the Roman Catholic Church – is on to something. It comes, I think, from his Jesuit Training. It will, I also think, be good for the church in the long run, but it will cause some tribulation until the dust settles and nervous Roman Catholics see how good this man is for the church and its future.
by Charlie Leck

A new book by the Pope will be released in English very soon: The Name of God is Mercy! How wonderful! How hopeful!

The Pope has already declared this time as a Holy Year of Mercy. I, personally, have always found some sense of belief and faith in the concept of God as Love; and I don’t mean that God is loving, merciful and kind. I mean, fully, that “God is Love!”

Those who can love, show kindness and mercy, give assistance to their friends and the needy, treat the earth with caution and care, they (those who love) can know God.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio, even before he became Pope Francis, has always shown an inclination toward this kind of theology. He has always expressed such deep concern about the desperate need for forgiveness and mercy. For years his ministry was among the poor in Buenos Aires.

This is a Pope who is Christ-like!

He knows that the heart and soul of the message that Jesus brought to us is that we must be merciful and kind in order to know God. These compassionate human traits are so much more important than dogma and complex theology.


How shall we know God? Those who love fully and are merciful in all their ways do not even need to ask the question. They have known God and God is in them.



________________________________

Why not become a follower?
If you read my blog regularly, why not become a follower? All you have to do is click in the upper right hand corner and establish a simple means of communication. Then you'll be informed every time a new blog is posted here. If all that's confusing, here's Google's explanation of how to do it! If you don’t want to post comments on the blog, but would like to communicate with me about it, send me an email if you’d like.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Someone was trying to ruin my stay in Manhattan!


I was in New York City (Manhattan) recently and riding in a cab up the West Side Highway, making my way to lunch at one of my favorite little spots (Arco CafĂ© at 103rd and Amsterdam). I looked east, out of the cab window, (to my right) and saw a long row of tall buildings (apartment houses or condos) and one-after-another of them had the same word scrawled on the front of them in large letters – Trump!
by Charlie Leck

Of course, it’s nearly maddening to think of Donald Trump as President of the United States. I’m having a hard time believing his candidacy is really a serious effort. In other words, did even he think he really deserved to be president of the nation – that he could be a president of the nation – that he would have time in-between his golfing, rapscallioning and primping to be president of the nation?

Donald Trump is not even the kind of guy I would be comfortable having as a next door neighbor, let alone having him as the occupant of the White House. Imagine Donald Trump romping with all the cute little boys and girls at the Easter Egg Affair.

My lunch! My lunch! I thought about my lunch as the cab rolled by the big buildings! Has Donald Ross reached in and ruined my joyfully anticipated lunch at this wonderful Sardinian restaurant?

I’m a bit more relaxed now – a few days removed from the sight of that vile word scrawled across those buildings. It’s apparent that the Grand Old Party is not going to allow Donald Trump to be its candidate. Nor does it seem they’ll even allow the goofy U.S. Senator from Texas (silly Ted Cruse) to run for the office under its banner.

That’s what was behind a major speech by Paul Ryan, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the other day, in which he tried to clear the air about some of the ill-thought-out comments he earlier made about “the poor” and the poor as “takers.” He’s trying to clear the way for a run at the top office in the land. Make no mistake about it!

“There was a time when I would talk about a difference between ‘makers’ and ‘takers’ in our country, referring to people who accepted government benefits… But as I spent more time listening, and really learning the root causes of poverty, I realized I was wrong. ‘Takers’ wasn’t how to refer to a single mom stuck in a poverty trap, just trying to take care of her family. Most people don’t want to be dependent.”
“…I was callous and I oversimplified and castigated people with a broad brush. There is a lot of that happening in America today.”
Yes, Mr. Speaker, there is a lot of “broad brush” talking coming out of the far-right wing of the Republican Party. Welcome, Mr. Speaker, to a place a little more to the center of political thinking. I won’t vote for you in a presidential race, but I won’t threaten to move to Canada if you happen to win. Deep down, I think you’re a reasonable person and that you really do have unselfish concerns for the nation at the heart of your thinking.



Now, sir, how about rethinking the whole business of not looking at the nomination of Mr. Merrick B. Garland to the Supreme Court of the United States? President Obama has very thoughtfully nominated an extraordinary man to take the position. Mr. Garland is brilliant and uncompromising in his defense of the U.S. Constitution. There is no better mind on the current court and he may be the most deserving nomination in the last 50 years.

At its convention in Cleveland this summer, the Grand Old Party will likely end up crowning Congressman Paul Ryan to run for president.

The campaign will be a civil one! Debates will be well worth watching. Democrats will reach deep into Congressman Ryan’s past speeches and he’ll need to admit stupidity and apologize – or, if he doesn’t, he’ll be soundly beaten. The debates won’t be dog and pony shows as the GOP’s current debates are.

And, I won’t develop an ulcer or blow a blood vessel.


And, Donald Trump can go back to managing his apartment houses and I won’t need to constantly be looking at that incredibly stupid hair-do of his.

________________________________

Why not become a follower?
If you read my blog regularly, why not become a follower? All you have to do is click in the upper right hand corner and establish a simple means of communication. Then you'll be informed every time a new blog is posted here. If all that's confusing, here's Google's explanation of how to do it! If you don’t want to post comments on the blog, but would like to communicate with me about it, send me an email if you’d like.