The Political Establishment, Crony Capitalism, and the Christian West: Steve Bannon is the key to deciphering what to make of Trumpian policy

Many people are trying to explain the national phenomenon which carried Donald Trump into the White House. It’s true that his election signaled a revolt among the non-coastal voters and these voters regard Washington as broken. But why exactly did this unusual candidate resonate? I’d submit that the vast majority of his most fervent supporters couldn’t even fully answer this. Typically the answer to this sort of question would best be revealed in a candidate’s past words and actions, a history that helps one understand exactly their governing philosophy. But Trump isn’t typical and a coherent political past doesn’t exist. He has changed his mind many times and has never had the need to take action in the arena of politics. This leaves many befuddled trying to understand this new Trumpian philosophy. What direction exactly is this administration going to take us? What is their view of America’s position among other nations? How does the White House understand the role of Christianity in the world?

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The best way to make sense of these questions is by focusing on a man other than Donald Trump. Sometimes we must ignore the attention Trump naturally draws and see the big picture. Let us shift our attention to Steve Bannon, Trump’s current Chief Strategist and recent campaign chief executive. He is painted by the mainstream news as a racist, nationalist scumbag. The left’s argument can be persuasive, even to conservatives, especially when one is familiar with some questionable episodes in his past, the antagonistic manner his former website (Breitbart) has been run, the fact he has respected-by-conservative enemies such as Ben Shapiro, and, truthfully, his general scumbag appearance. But the mainstream media is shallow, offering only sensational headlines, and this is why the opinions of many seem to be of equal measure. Don’t be fooled, Steven Bannon is a man of depth in almost every way. While indeed controversial, the man is smart with well thought out philosophies and he has Trump’s ear. Mr. Bannon is well decorated, so to say: he is a Navy veteran, graduated from Virginia Tech, holds a masters degree in National Security Studies from Georgetown, received an MBA from Harvard Business School, worked as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs, was an executive producer in Hollywood (boasting 18 films), was CEO of Affinity Media (after he persuaded Goldman Sachs to invest in them), and, until recently, was the CEO of Breitbart News. Steve is also a practicing Roman Catholic.

“If you read Bannon’s Vatican speech, what you meet is a man almost obsessed by concern for the fragility of freedom and peace in our fallen world. Someone consumed by care for the vulnerable among us, and unafraid to confront their powerful oppressors. Steve is tough, like the sheepdogs described in American Sniper—tough enough to defend the defenseless. He once joked about learning from Lenin, but Bannon won’t break eggs to make human omelets, as Lenin did. No, he will break the omelet-makers—the Islamists and globalists who recklessly threaten the innocent…So if you’re committed to genuine Catholic social teaching—to peace, open markets and the sanctity of human life, Steve’s your man.

-Jason Jones, The Steve Bannon I know

While the ascent of Mr. Bannon may put liberals in hysterics, it’s the Republicans who should brace for impact. As you will soon read, Mr. Bannon DGAF about party politics. With Steve as strategist, it is clear there is a new philosophy in town and Republicans might need to rethink all the positions they have been told by the establishment is gospel. Bannon takes issue with Republican politicians, labeling most as crony capitalists and blaming them for the dire situation we find ourselves in. His opinions and insights carry particular weight since he was a banking insider himself for many years. While we still aren’t positive what policy forms these opinions will take, an attractive argument can certainly be made that it is good to have the comfortable establishment shaken to its core. What we have had for decades clearly doesn’t work for the majority of the country anymore. Many who voted for Trump are in agreement with Bannon: it’s time to rethink everything: trade, labor, the middle class, social policy, national sovereignty, our Christian roots, and the government working for us rather than the other way around.

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Liberal outrage after Trump picked Bannon for White House staff

So what exactly does Steve Bannon think? What is the prevailing philosophy in the White House? Briefly: Fixing a collapsed western economy and culture with a focus on the roots of Judeo-Christian-oriented capitalism, strengthened by economic nationalism, to regain the fruits of which we have taken for granted…and are losing. Less-briefly: the best insight we have right now can be gathered by a conference Mr. Bannon headlined at the Vatican in 2014. In it, he repeatedly discusses the importance of the “Judeo-Christian” underpinnings of the West and the importance of the Church in society. He discusses what caused the crisis in 2008, the reasons voters are revolting, and the problems we face in a series of discussion questions. Buzzfeed posted the entire transcript recently but it is quite long and I contend that a lot of people who might otherwise be interested have avoided it for this reason. Below is some of what I think readers of this blog will find most interesting. Quotes are in order but for full context please read entire transcript. Emphases mine.

Human Dignity Institute Conference, Vatican, Summer 2014

[Steve Bannon:] I want to talk about wealth creation and what wealth creation really can achieve and maybe take it in a slightly different direction, because I believe the world, and particularly the Judeo-Christian west, is in a crisis…and it is a crisis both of capitalism but really of the underpinnings of the Judeo-Christian west in our beliefs.

…100 years ago, at the exact moment we’re talking, the assassination took place in Sarajevo of Archduke Franz Ferdinand that led to the end of the Victorian era and the beginning of the bloodiest century in mankind’s history…There was trade, there was globalization, there was technological transfer, the High Church of England and the Catholic Church and the Christian faith was predominant throughout Europe of practicing Christians. Seven weeks later, I think there were 5 million men in uniform and within 30 days there were over a million casualties.

That war triggered a century of barbaric — unparalleled in mankind’s history — virtually 180 to 200 million people were killed in the 20th century, and I believe that, you know, hundreds of years from now when they look back, we’re children of that: We’re children of that barbarity. This will be looked at almost as a new Dark Age.

But the thing that got us out of it, the organizing principle that met this, was not just the heroism of our people…really the Judeo-Christian West versus atheists, right? The underlying principle is an enlightened form of capitalism, that capitalism really gave us the wherewithal…That capitalism really generated tremendous wealth. And that wealth was really distributed among a middle class, a rising middle class, people who come from really working-class environments and created what we really call a Pax Americana…And I believe we’ve come partly offtrack in the years since the fall of the Soviet Union and we’re starting now in the 21st century, which I believe, strongly, is a crisis both of our church, a crisis of our faith, a crisis of the West, a crisis of capitalism.

We’re at the very beginning stages of a very brutal and bloody conflict, of which if the people in this room, the people in the church, do not bind together and really form what I feel is an aspect of the Church Militant [TSP: so traditional, oh my!], to really be able to not just stand with our beliefs, but to fight for our beliefs against this new barbarity that’s starting, that will completely eradicate everything that we’ve been bequeathed over the last 2,000, 2,500 years.

I think that you’re seeing three kinds of converging tendencies: One is a form of capitalism that is taken away from the underlying spiritual and moral foundations of Christianity…

I see that every day. I’m a very practical, pragmatic capitalist. I was trained at Goldman Sachs, I went to Harvard Business School, I was as hard-nosed a capitalist as you get. I specialized in media, in investing in media companies, and it’s a very, very tough environment…So I don’t want this to kinda sound namby-pamby, “Let’s all hold hands and sing ‘Kumbaya’ around capitalism.”

But there’s a strand of capitalism today — two strands of it, that are very disturbing.

One is state-sponsored capitalism. And that’s the capitalism you see in China and Russia. I believe it’s what Holy Father has seen for most of his life in places like Argentina, where you have this kind of crony capitalism of people that are involved with these military powers-that-be in the government, and it forms a brutal form of capitalism that is really about creating wealth and creating value for a very small subset of people. And it doesn’t spread the tremendous value creation throughout broader distribution patterns that were seen really in the 20th century.

The second form of capitalism that I feel is almost as disturbing, is what I call the Ayn Rand or the Objectivist School of libertarian capitalism. And, look, I’m a big believer in a lot of libertarianism…However, that form of capitalism is quite different when you really look at it to what I call the “enlightened capitalism” of the Judeo-Christian West. It is a capitalism that really looks to make people commodities, and to objectify people, and to use them almost

The other tendency is an immense secularization of the West…especially millennials under 30, the overwhelming drive of popular culture is to absolutely secularize this rising iteration.

That call converges with something we have to face, and it’s a very unpleasant topic…jihadist Islamic fascism. And this war is, I think, metastasizing far quicker than governments can handle it.

That war is expanding and it’s …, unfortunately, something that we’re going to have to face, and we’re going to have to face very quickly.

So I think the discussion of, should we put a cap on wealth creation and distribution? It’s something that should be at the heart of every Christian that is a capitalist — “What is the purpose of whatever I’m doing with this wealth? What is the purpose of what I’m doing with the ability that God has given us, that divine providence has given us to actually be a creator of jobs and a creator of wealth?”

And so I think we are in a crisis of the underpinnings of capitalism, and on top of that we’re now, I believe, at the beginning stages of a global war against Islamic fascism.

[the following quotes are parts of responses to various questions]

If you look at the leaders of capitalism at that time, when capitalism was I believe at its highest flower and spreading its benefits to most of mankind, almost all of those capitalists were strong believers in the Judeo-Christian West. They were either active participants in the Jewish faith, they were active participants in the Christians’ faith, and they took their beliefs, and the underpinnings of their beliefs was manifested in the work they did.

…the middle class, the working men and women in the world who are just tired of being dictated to by what we call the party of Davos. A group of kind of — we’re not conspiracy-theory guys, but there’s certainly — and I could see this when I worked at Goldman Sachs — there are people in New York that feel closer to people in London and in Berlin than they do to people in Kansas and in Colorado, and they have more of this elite mentality that they’re going to dictate to everybody how the world’s going to be run.

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Photo taken moments after popping a motorcycle wheelie leaving his Goldman Sachs job

I will tell you that the working men and women of Europe and Asia and the United States and Latin America don’t believe that. They believe they know what’s best for how they will comport their lives. They think they know best about how to raise their families and how to educate their families. So I think you’re seeing a global reaction to centralized government

…we believe in the benefits of capitalism…However, like I said, there’s two strands of capitalism that we’re quite concerned about.

One is crony capitalism, or what we call state-controlled capitalism, and that’s the big thing the tea party is fighting in the United States…The tea party in the United States’ biggest fight is with the the Republican establishment, which is really a collection of crony capitalists that feel that they have a different set of rules of how they’re going to comport themselves and how they’re going to run things. And, quite frankly, it’s the reason that the United States’ financial situation is so dire…we’re the voice of the anti-abortion movement, the voice of the traditional marriage movement…

…middle-class and working-class people — they’re saying, “Hey, I’m working harder than I’ve ever worked. I’m getting less benefits than I’m ever getting through this, I’m incurring less wealth myself, and I’m seeing a system of fat cats who say they’re conservative and say they back capitalist principles, but all they’re doing is binding with corporatists.” Right?

… there’s a relatively obscure agency in the federal government…called the Export-Import Bank…it was a bank that helped finance things that other banks wouldn’t do. And what’s happening over time is that it’s metastasized to be a cheap form of financing to General Electric and to Boeing and to other large corporations. You get this financing from other places if they wanted to, but they’re putting this onto the middle-class taxpayers to support this.

General Electric and these major corporations that are in bed with the federal government are not what we’d consider free-enterprise capitalists. We’re backers of entrepreneurial capitalists. They’re not. They’re what we call corporatistthe fight you’re seeing is between entrepreneur capitalism and the people like the corporatists that are closer to the people like we think in Beijing and Moscow than they are to the entrepreneurial capitalist spirit of the United States.

The 2008 crisis, I think the financial crisis — which, by the way, I don’t think we’ve come through — is really driven I believe by the greed, much of it driven by the greed of the investment banks…traditionally the best banks are leveraged 8:1. When we had the financial crisis in 2008, the investment banks were leveraged 35:1…That made the banks not really investment banks, but made them hedge funds — and highly susceptible to changes in liquidity. And so the crisis of 2008 was, quite frankly, really never recovered from in the United States…

And one of the reasons is that we’ve never really gone and dug down and sorted through the problems of 2008. Particularly the fact — think about it — not one criminal charge has ever been brought to any bank executive associated with 2008 crisis. And in fact, it gets worse. No bonuses and none of their equity was taken… I think you need a real clean-up of the banks balance sheets.

I think you really need to go back and make banks do what they do: Commercial banks lend money, and investment banks invest in entrepreneurs and to get away from this trading — you know, the hedge fund securitization, which they’ve all become basically trading operations and securitizations and not put capital back and really grow businesses and to grow the economy…the underpinning of this populist revolt is the financial crisis of 2008. That revolt, the way that it was dealt with, the way that the people who ran the banks and ran the hedge funds have never really been held accountable for what they did…

…it’s incumbent upon freedom-loving people to make sure that we sort out these governments and make sure that we sort out particularly this crony capitalism so that the benefits become more of this entrepreneurial spirit and that can flow back to working-class and middle-class people.

[QUESTIONER:] …What was the feeling on Wall Street when they bailed out the banks? How should Christians feel about advocating or being against that?

[Back to Bannon:] I think one is about responsibility. For Christians, and particularly for those who believe in the underpinnings of the Judeo-Christian West, I don’t believe that we should have a bailout…it was a lot of misinformation that was presented about the bailouts of the banks in the West.

Middle-class taxpayers, people making incomes under $50,000 and $60,000, it was the burden of those taxpayers, right, that bailed out the elites. And let’s think about it for a second. Here’s how capitalism metastasized, is that all the burdens put on the working-class people who get none of the upside. All of the upside goes to the crony capitalists.

The bailouts were absolutely outrageous, and here’s why: It bailed out a group of shareholders and executives who were specifically accountable…

One of the committees in Congress said to the Justice Department 35 executives that they should have criminal indictments against — not one of those has ever been followed up on… there’s a sense between the law firms, and the accounting firms, and the investment banks, and their stooges on Capitol Hill, they looked the other way.

So you can understand why middle class people having a tough go of it making $50 or $60 thousand a year and see their taxes go up, and they see that their taxes are going to pay for government sponsored bailouts…and that is what I think is fueling this populist revolt.

It’s all the institutions of the accounting firms, the law firms, the investment banks, the consulting firms, the elite of the elite, the educated elite, they understood what they were getting into, forcibly took all the benefits from it and then look to the government, went hat in hand to the government to be bailed out. And they’ve never been held accountable today. Trust me — they are going to be held accountable.

[QUESTIONER:] What do you think is the major threat today, to the Judeo-Christian Civilization? Secularism, or the Muslim world?

[Back to Bannon:]  I certainly think secularism has sapped the strength of the Judeo-Christian West to defend its ideals.

If you go back to your home countries and your proponent of the defense of the Judeo-Christian West and its tenets, often times, particularly when you deal with the elites, you’re looked at as someone who is quite odd. So it has kind of sapped the strength.

[Talking about a different topic now] When Vladimir Putin, when you really look at some of the underpinnings of some of his beliefs today, a lot of those come from what I call Eurasianism; he’s got an adviser who harkens back to Julius Evola and different writers of the early 20th century who are really the supporters of what’s called the traditionalist movement, which really eventually metastasized into Italian fascism…

I’m not justifying Vladimir Putin and the kleptocracy that he represents, because he eventually is the state capitalist of kleptocracy. However, we the Judeo-Christian West really have to look at what he’s talking about as far as traditionalism goes — particularly the sense of where it supports the underpinnings of nationalism — and I happen to think that the individual sovereignty of a country is a good thing and a strong thing. I think strong countries and strong nationalist movements in countries make strong neighbors, and that is really the building blocks that built Western Europe and the United States, and I think it’s what can see us forward.

[QUESTIONER:] …How should the West respond to radical Islam and not lose itself in the process?

[Back to Bannon:]  I believe you should take a very, very, very aggressive stance against radical Islam.

…If you look back at the long history of the Judeo-Christian West struggle against Islam, I believe that our forefathers kept their stance, and I think they did the right thing. I think they kept it out of the world…

And I would ask everybody in the audience today, because you really are the movers and drivers and shakers and thought leaders in the Catholic Church today, is to think, when people 500 years from now are going to think about today…ask yourself, 500 years from today, what are they going to say about me? What are they going to say about what I did at the beginning stages of this crisis?

Because it is a crisis, and it’s not going away. You don’t have to take my word for it. All you have to do is read the news every day, see what’s coming up, see what they’re putting on Twitter, what they’re putting on Facebook, see what’s on CNN, what’s on BBC.

Prevailing political philosophy has just shifted monumentally in the White House. Your thoughts? ☩

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Reminded Why I Left

Unable to make it to my normal parish (where yesterday would have marked the Sixth Sunday after Epiphany), yesterday I assisted at Mass for the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time at the church much, much closer to my house. Oh, how nice that drive is! Why did I ever give up such a convenient drive? Answering my question, the enjoyment of the six-minute commute was quickly neutralized for many reasons.

I was driving home from out of town Sunday morning which required me to fulfill my Sunday Obligation at the aforementioned parish because they offered an evening Mass. I won’t name this parish because it is irrelevant. But at one time I was a member of this parish only to leave it in search of a more worthy liturgy (Heb 12:28) and less banal, more Catholic-sounding homilies.

I entered the round, carpeted, suburban church a bit early. I figured the time saved on the drive could be put to good use with a rosary. Unfortunately, the tabernacle (which is pushed to the side of the sanctuary) had its view mostly obstructed by a mock Door of Mercy decorated by children. Not discouraged, I continued according to plan. Then, apparently spoiled by churches which try to maintain sacred silence in both the nave and sanctuary over the past couple years, I had to battle the distraction of a literal band practice taking place in the choir area inches away from the tabernacle (interestingly, the Door of Mercy wasn’t obstructing the view of those ‘performing’). I wish to point out that these people (a couple I know) are very nice and well-intentioned. I know a few members from this parish read this blog so I want you to be clear on this :). But it’s not easy to pray when there’s two guitars being strummed and a full drum kit being banged! Were we preparing for a protestant service or the Holy Mass? Were rosaries even allowed in here I jokingly thought to myself (hey, I was distracted).

Then the Mass began.

I won’t bother with writing about the unfortunate liturgy that was offered. It was as-expected. What wasn’t expected was the shockingly inappropriate political commentary that popped up.

Before the penitential rite, the pastor suggested that “because of how the election turned out” we need to call to mind what has happened to us as voters, asking for God’s mercy. It didn’t end there.

It’s a shame that this pastor chose not to properly form the conscience (since they, he alludes, are ill-formed) of his congregation by focusing on the meaning of the propers for this Sunday–and most others–because they offered some rich scripture:

Reading 1 Mal 3:19-20a

Lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven,
when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble,
and the day that is coming will set them on fire,
leaving them neither root nor branch,
says the LORD of hosts.
But for you who fear my name, there will arise
the sun of justice with its healing rays.

Gospel Lk 21:5-19

[…]“Before all this happens, however,
they will seize and persecute you,
they will hand you over to the synagogues and to prisons,
and they will have you led before kings and governors
because of my name.
It will lead to your giving testimony.
Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand,
for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking
that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute.
You will even be handed over by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends,
and they will put some of you to death.
You will be hated by all because of my name,
but not a hair on your head will be destroyed.
By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”

Instead he repeated the common platitudes officially sanctioned by popular culture about “fear” and “hate” in his commentary on the outcome of the election. He treated us to a story about how he worked with many Latino families earlier in his career and how many of them are likely scared because of who was elected president (even though about a third of them voted for Trump). He told us how now it’s likely that millions of people will now lose their health insurance! Apparently he did not get the memo that Obamacare has resulted in less people insured and higher insurance premiums for those who are. He also must not be aware that the very Roman Catholic Church that employs him sued the government over Obamacare, along with other Catholic organizations in the United States. It’s too bad Cardinal Dolan, Little Sisters of the Poor, and other Catholics were not in attendance to be reminded about their apparent need for penitence by this thoughtful pastor.

I need not explain the many problems a Catholic faces with president-elect Trump because I have written about it many time on this blog. But one sure wonders, if Hillary were elected, would this sandal-wearing priest have struck the same tone over the woman who has extreme positions on abortion (including it being funded by tax payers), family issues, and the sovereignty of the Church in America. Was he even aware that this candidate’s campaign managers set up fake Catholic groups in attempt to weaken the American Church? Did this priest care about any of this or the legitimate concerns of the American faithful? I’ll bet not, especially since as long as I have known this priest, I haven’t witness him tackle one difficult issue.

But wait, there’s more! Then the priest actually asked for a show of hands to see who voted for Trump and who voted for Hillary! I sat, utterly shocked. Should I get up and leave this unfortunate display? Should I say something out loud to rebuke his behavior? Should I wait to let him hear my mind in the narthex?. I decided not to do any of these things. He has proven to be unresponsive in the past to concerns and anything said directly would likely be unproductive and self-serving. I decided instead, in agreement with my neighbor (a choir member at this parish), to write the bishop. And apparently, according to the same neighbor, other members will likely write the bishop after what they witnessed from this weekend. Here is a part of what I wrote:

Your Excellency,

I was at Mass last night at [typical suburban parish] in [whiteupperclassville]. Despite living in [whiteupperclassville], my family almost never goes to [typical suburban parish] because of events similar to what I’m about to describe (along with their liturgy). There are many other local young families that drive out of their way on Sunday for the same reasons.

Rev. [He’sWithHer] opened the Mass by suggesting we need the penitential rite for what happened in our country over the past week. He went on to suggest that the outcome of the election was deeply problematic for Catholics and we need to reorient ourselves in the wake of this. Then during his homily [I explain what was just explained]. Would he have addressed any of those problems if the election outcome was different? Probably not, because he, along with way too many of his colleagues, refuse to address topics that are not in line with what popular culture thinks.

Your Excellency, I (and many, many other in your diocese) have had enough of this nonsense. Please address it. Also, please address many of the liturgical matters that plague various parishes on a regular basis.

Thank you very much for reading this.

Asking for your blessing,

[TSP]
Did you experience anything similar following the election? Let’s keep praying for the wonderful young priests coming out of the seminary right now, that they one day are finally able to change things for the better. ☩

Election 2016 and the Inability to Control Appetites

It is notable the large role uncontrolled sexual behavior has played in this election. While Secretary Clinton’s apparent desires doesn’t seem to be for sex, it seems she lusts for money and power. These longings probably lead to her seeming passivity towards her husband’s gross infractions which range from infidelity all the way to accusations of literal rape.

Disordered understandings of sexual nature lead to bad action. These bad actions damage not only the soul but also the body, mind, and lives of the bad actors (along with those around them). This is what happens when people attempt to break the natural law that permeates the space-time of our universe. We don’t break these moral laws, we break ourselves against them.

That’s why it’s amazing to see people who likely have impressive control over most aspects of life–leading to positions such as President of the United States for example–have such an inability to control certain other desires. Seeing people with so much to lose, people who have the abilityto do so much good in their position, risk everything on satisfying temporal sexual pleasure shows the strength of man’s fallen nature. With the expanding embrace of moral relativism and, more specifically, the anything-goes, judge-not attitudes towards sexual activities.

Last weekend we were reminded of how someone in the powerful, influential, and prominent position of Hillary Clinton can be brought down by the inability to control one’s passions. This time it was the husband of her longtime aide and friend Huma Abedin, Anthony Weiner. His inability to be faithful to his wife, or just stop sending Weiner pix (hey, that’s his name!) to women has the potential of bringing down a presidential candidate.

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Since the ‘sexual revolution’, the West has been spoon-fed a lie: That fulfilling any sexual wishes “liberates” the individual. But it would seem those who seek liberation through these pleasures are always end up slaves to their passions and ultimately broken by their choices. If only we had a way of knowing this…oh, look, the Roman Catholic Church has a blueprint already:

…self-denial, sound judgment, and self-mastery – the preconditions of all true freedom.
-CCC 2223

Of course none of this will ever become a learning opportunity to discuss on mainstream platforms. People will continue behaving–and ruining lives–like this with the blessing of popular culture. That is, until it’s exciting (and profitable) to make scandal out of it.☩

Forget the election chaos, focus on the Kingdom

It seems that this election is speeding up the continuation of our spiral into chaos, anger, and fear in this country. It’s a scandal that conservative-minded people, especially those who seek stability for religious freedom, must vote for a man who is known to express remarkably vulgar sentiments and often seems insincere with his recently acquired conservative positions.

Even worse is that the other option is a person who goes beyond simply speaking of these sentiments by actually seeking to ruin women (and one child) who have come out as sexual assault victims in order to gain political power and wealth. This along with the desire not only for abortion on-demand  up until the moment of birth but also to have tax payers foot the bill. A vote for this option would also be voting in favor of what is essentially a referendum if one is okay with even less transparency in the executive branch and what would likely be a level of corruption that no past presidential administration comes close to matching.

It’s true that voting for the “lesser of two evils” is something that genuinely does need to be considered every election cycle. This is something we do every day in small and big ways. Similar to the situation Aron Ralston found himself in when got his arm trapped under a boulder while hiking alone (and depicted in the movie 127 Hours), it sometimes makes sense to go through pain if you know it increases the odds of a better outcome. Aron cut his arm off with a pocket knife and successfully avoided death.

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But there is a point where the “lesser of two evils” argument breaks down. While I’m not suggesting we are at this point with our two options (as it can be argued), I’m suggesting that political conservatives be careful not to ignore how close it is approaching. At a certain point it’s like arguing if we should vote for the person who murdered 20 people or the one who murdered 18 people. Eventually there will be a line crossed where it makes sense to simply not accept the choices before us.

Alas there is (and always will be) hope despite these dark times. The good news it that we are “resident aliens” in this representative democracy. Our true home is with our Father who art in heaven. And we answer to our sovereign king Jesus Christ whose monarchy spans the universe. Ultimately we have hope for an outcome that rests beyond what happens after this election. The Adversary wants us to submit to anxiety and fear so we lash out, make bad decisions, and are overcome by the world and the political systems that reside within it. Don’t.

Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!” He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. -Mt 8:24-26

What to make of what’s going on? Well, our country is divided more than ever, people care more about politics than principles, we are a post-Christian nation, and the only institution we have that can match the corruption of our politics is our mainstream news media. All we can do as individual Christians is evangelize, pray, and fast.

No one knows what will happen on November 8 or what will happen after that. What we do know is that we are not made for this world. We are made for heaven. This world is simply the ship that takes us there and as long as we stay aboard through daily conversion, faith in Christ, and the frequent reception of the sacraments of Confession and Communion we will one day reach the outcome that no political election can satisfy.☩

WikiLeaks Suggests Anti-Catholicism in Clinton Campaign

UPDATE 10/12: Clinton campaign leader discusses with left-wing activist about creating a revolutionary “Catholic Spring” among American Catholics

In an email exchange recently uncovered via WikiLeaks, we are offered a glimpse of what Hillary Clinton’s Campaign thinks about Catholics. The exchange is between John Podesta (Chairman of Clinton Campaign), Jennifer Palmieri (Director of Communications for Clinton Campaign), and John Halpin (Center for American Progress).

From: John Halpin
To: John Podesta <john.podesta@gmail.com>; Jennifer Palmieri
Sent: Mon Apr 11 18:55:59 2011
Subject: Conservative Catholicism

Ken Auletta’s latest piece on Murdoch in the New Yorker starts off with the aside that both Murdoch and Robert Thompson, managing editor of the WSJ, are raising their kids Catholic. Friggin’ Murdoch baptized his kids in Jordan where John the Baptist baptized Jesus. Many of the most powerful elements of the conservative movement are all Catholic (many converts) from the SC and think tanks to the media and social groups. It’s an amazing bastardization of the faith. They must be attracted to the systematic thought and severely backwards gender relations and must be totally unaware of Christian democracy.


Excellent point. They can throw around “Thomistic” thought and “subsidiarity” and sound sophisticated because no one knows what the hell they’re talking about.

Jennifer Palmieri <JPalmieri@americanprogress.org> wrote: I imagine they think it is the most socially acceptable politically conservative religion. Their rich friends wouldn’t understand if they became evangelicals.
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