Did Pope Francis Protect A Priest Who Abused Young Boys?

Pope Francis is under fire. He’s been accused of covering up aberrant sexual behavior of a high ranking member of the Catholic Church even after the priest was sanctioned by Francis’ predecessor, Benedict. The accusation comes from another priest who is an opponent of the pope. Some are questioning the intentions of the accuser.

Since he became pontiff, Francis has assured his worldwide flock that sins of priests perpetrated against children would be reckoned with. But what does this mean? In most developed countries sexual abusers are ostracized on the spot and stripped of their positions, if not prosecuted.

Apparently Francis’ plan is to ask for forgiveness and play down the increasing number of crimes that are being reported. But now, in the light of the aforementioned accusation, the pope’s plan may not pan out. The sexual abuse revolution throughout the world has begun to embrace the young boys who were abused by clerics for centuries. And, long-time Catholics want more than lip service.

Crimes against women are despicable, and brave women are identifying offenders every day. The objective is not money or fame. Rather these women want their sisters to know what they experienced years and even decades earlier, and to ensure that abuses end immediately.

In the case of the Church, pedophilia has been running rampant as more and more boys/men are coming forward to tell their horror stories. What makes actual abuse so gut wrenching is that supposed “men of God” used their positions and spiritual influence to obtain sexual favors.

And so the question now being asked is how could the Church allow known predators to continue to be priests while they were raping young boys? Why would Catholic pastors, bishops, cardinals and maybe even popes transfer pedophiles to new locations where they could continue to sate their warped libidos?

Pope Francis has said, or at least strongly suggested, he will deal with this scandal. Perhaps he misjudged the scope of the problem, or maybe he believes the reputation of the Church is more important than admonishing evildoers under his employ.

Francis’ plan, directly and implicitly, refers to the priests who covered up the abuses and moved offenders to different locations. From his latest comments the pope seems to think that this group should be forgiven and receive another chance. This follows because allegations indicate he may be part of the problem.

The dilemma is that Francis cannot bring to task the priests that relocated offenders if he also did the same thing. Forgiveness and “letting bygones be bygones” will not be acceptable in the current environment. The Church will need to do much more to end this multi-century crime wave.

If Francis covered up an offense, and an abuser was relocated and committed similar crimes, the pope is culpable. What would ensue is anyone’s guess, but, for sure, Francis’ administration will be under severe distress and many will call for his resignation.

Francis is charming and many people lauded his ascension. My question is what has he done differently than previous popes? Is he just an extension of the past and antiquated dogma and tradition, or a real reformer? We may never know because now Francis is part of a scandal investigation.

 

Trump Has Proven That He Cannot Lead America

New York Times columnists are having a field day bashing Trump. The president deserves to be treated this way, in spite of some positive results. Most notable are the bull market and some promising prospects relating to trade.

Yet I still scratch my head and wonder how a person like Trump could have gotten elected in the first place. Most New Yorkers knew of his reputation beforehand, as he frequently popped up in gossip columns that documented his questionable relationships with women and the sleazy manner in which he conducted business. Frankly I’m ashamed of the president for not changing his ways and for the suffering and gnashing of teeth he has caused. He has not risen to the office that he now holds.

I hoped Trump would tone down his act. This was a naïve expectation on my part. How could anyone expect a publicity hound, a megalomaniac to mellow after being elected to the most powerful position in the world?

I tried to rationalize Trump’s outrageous behavior to others and myself over the past two years by repeating that he promised to do things to improve the country, and he was accomplishing much. But, it’s not working for me anymore.

His vision is still admirable. He rightly has pointed out that too many countries around the world have lost respect for the US even as we protect them and shower them with foreign aid. Regarding trade, I certainly didn’t know that China has tariffs of 10% on US goods, Europe 5%, Canada 5%, even as US tariffs are 3%. Who made these idiotic deals before Trump took office?

And with immigration, Trump has exposed the missteps of the past. How could our leaders allow 15 million illegal aliens into the country over the past few decades? Why weren’t average Americans aware that these people cost our government (and the taxpayers) over $100 billion annually, net of their contributions? They would have objected. This is money that could have been used to correct social injustices in America. Multiply $100 billion times 20 years, and you can see how much has been frittered away.

Who knew the FBI was out of control? Leaking confidential information and unable to dole out justice fairly has been revealed in our most important police force. It’s shameful that so many of the leaders of the agency would be forced to resign or fired for inappropriate and even illegal behavior. Trump, unprofessionally, has exposed the warts of a once pristine government operation. Note: The problems with the FBI are predominately with the leadership not the rank and file agents.

And finally, Trump has recognized that Washington is a great swamp. Congress people and their staffs are among the most detested individuals in the country. Why you ask? Trump has shown us that maintaining their power and their seats and is their only concern. He has exposed corruption and hypocrisy. One regret is that Trump has not encouraged the implementation of term limits in Congress.

Trump had many things going for him as he assumed the presidency, but he is a sore winner. More and more Americans, even those who voted for him have had serious second thoughts. To be fair, the press has been merciless and elicited aggressive responses from the president, and he takes the bait every time. To his credit, Trump has fought back and pointed out the improprieties of the news establishment in the country. America does not need a partisan press corp. It needs fair and balanced reporting. Every major newspaper has morphed into a series of op-ed pieces. Facts enable Americans to vote wisely.

Liberals have really gone off the deep end in their endless criticisms of the president and conservative perspectives. Bastions of free speech like Berkeley do not allow conservative discourse on campus. Liberals are moving further and further left and now support outright socialists. Socialists have a right to exist and speak their minds but why would any American forsake the chance to excel and be prosperous? Exceptionalism and capitalism can be beneficial to both haves and have-nots.

I’m saddened that Americans are no longer able to have and express different opinions. I want to be conservative. You are a liberal. Fine. You won’t be able to change my mind, and I yours. Why can’t we talk intelligently and find productive solutions to our mutual problems?

I can’t wait for 2020, when we will have the opportunity to oust Trump who is so responsible for the chaos in the country. I only can hope that individuals like Nikki Haley and Mitt Romney step up and challenge Trump in the primaries before the partisanship in the country gets any worse.

Scandals Will Impact Trump’s Reelection

Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen’s travails could be the straws that break the camel’s back. Not because they can attest that Donald Trump broke the law, which is speculative at best. Rather, Trump supporters have to be asking themselves why their leader has terrible judgment. How could he possible trust these two sleazy characters?

Robert Mueller, the special counsel, has been posting some impressive wins and has indicted a whole slew of Trump minions (seven). Unfortunately for Mueller, none of his investigations have proven that Trump colluded with Russia to influence the elections in 2016, the original mandate of the special counsel.

I wrote in an earlier blog that it’s highly improbable that Trump could have orchestrated a comprehensive and massive conspiracy with the US’s mortal enemy. Candidate Trump didn’t have the stature before the election or the brainpower to actually conduct such an operation. Unlike Richard Nixon, neophytes surrounded him. These people were not savvy enough to conspire in such a grand manner.

It’s clear that the Trump team, as in every campaign, was trying to find dirt on Hillary Clinton. This is not an illegal activity. No way Trump would have been able to conduct clandestine meetings with Putin or his spymasters to influence the election and hurt Clinton. Americans should not believe for one second that a real estate developer and his amateur advisors could actually pull this off.

Paul Manafort is a con artist, a thief and a liar. He committed bank fraud, chiseled lenders, stole money from acquaintances and spent it on his lavish lifestyle. He was a lousy crook who was bound to trip over his own feet and be thrown into jail for decades. But none of his crimes had anything to do with the elections and occurred long before Trump’s campaign for the presidency. Yet, Trump said he admired Manafort for defying the special counsel. Really?

Because Manafort is facing a long prison sentence, prosecutors have great leverage over him, if he actually knows of serious crimes committed by Trump. We should all be reassured that Manafort will sing to save his ass, if he knows something.

Cohen is a different story. The feds don’t have any leverage over him because he’s already coped a plea for a few years of prison time. Like all prosecutors, Mueller is ready, willing and able to offer leniency if someone is prepared to give up a larger fish.

Cohen was responsible for making payments to two women who had been with Trump to buy their silence. The principal charge, which seems like a real stretch, is that Trump made the payments to ensure these women would not negatively impact his campaign. And therefore the payments are effectively campaign contributions that should have been disclosed. There are experts on both sides of this controversy. Whether Trump committed a campaign violation may need to be adjudicated in court.

The  indictments (outlined by the New York Times) of people who worked for Trump is going to impact the election even though none of their crimes rise to a high level. Rich Gates pleaded guilty to financial fraud and lying to investigators. Alex van der Zwan pleaded guilty to lying to investigators about conversations with Gates. Richard Pinedo pleaded guilty to identity fraud. Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. about conversations with the Russian Ambassador. And George Papadopolous pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. Public outrage over these nickel an dime offenses are dwarfed by the most obvious comparisons to Watergate (breaking and entering) and the much more serious offenses of Bill Clinton (lying under oath).

Yet Trump haters, in particular the liberal press, will continue to magnify the crimes of this group of people that over 95% of Americans never heard of before the events of the past few weeks.

And certainly, Democrats will push to impeach Trump if they overtake the Republicans in the House. The odds of attaining a 2/3 vote in the Senate are highly improbable at this point. But the crimes revealed about most of the indicted parties do not rise to the high crimes and misdemeanors standards that would justify impeachment. And, other than paying hush money to an exotic dancer and a Playboy Playmate, Trump has not done anything to warrant such severe action by his adversaries.

But the implications to the 2020 presidential election are growing. The power of the press, especially when it’s so intent on destroying a politician, is very great. Trump is going to be seriously damaged by these sideshows. Ironically, the much more serious accusations about election interference have gone nowhere up to this point.

Trump is vulnerable in his own party and could very likely be challenged by another Republican in the impending primaries. His judgment and leadership is being fairly called into question. He’s a deeply flawed man with character that is not fitting of a US president.

Please see my blog post relating to a possible challenge to Trump by Nikki Haley (https://softballpolitics.com/2018/08/21/nikki-haley-the-alternative-to-trump-in-2020).

 

Nikki Haley: The Alternative To Trump In 2020

After many conversations with friends and acquaintances of all political persuasions, it’s become obvious that more Americans every day are beginning to appreciate President Trump’s efforts to improve the country. However many of the same people are frustrated, disgusted and resentful of the president’s demeanor and style. Frankly, on too many occasions, the man has been an embarrassment to his constituents.

What conservative America needs is a president who is generally in synch with Trump’s policies relating to immigration, trade, foreign policy, economics, regulations and smaller government. Challenging a sitting president, on the other hand would require a daring assault by a brave and determined conservative candidate.

Just imagine the support a moderate female conservative would receive in 2020. A person who is a proven leader, an administrator and diplomat, is what our country needs.

I believe Nikki Haley is the right person for America.

By way of background, Haley is 46 years old. She is married and has two children. Haley is of Indian descent and is a converted Protestant. She graduated from Clemson University with an accounting degree.

Haley is currently the Ambassador to the United Nations. She was the first female and Indian governor of South Carolina. And Haley was a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives. She was considered as a vice presidential running mate by Mitt Romney and Donald Trump.

Haley has been a restrained supporter of President Trump but has publicly disagreed with him on several issues. She criticized candidate Trump for not immediately disavowing the support of the Klu Klux Klan, and the president’s ban on Muslims.

Haley was the first significant woman in the Trump administration and was confirmed 94-6 by the Senate.

Over the years Ambassador Haley has taken strong stands on a plethora of important issues. They included:

 

-Taking down the Confederate flag outside the South Carolina State Capital building

-Anti-tax initiatives

-Restraint of abortions

-Enforcement of immigration laws

-Israel security and relocation of American Embassy to Jerusalem

-Support of voter IDs

-Death penalty for a 21 year-old murderer who killed 6 women and 3 men in an African American church

-Fought against the Muslim ban

-In favor of strong sanctions against Russia relating to Crimea and influencing US elections

-Denunciation of Hezbollah for terror activities over many years

-Support of strong sanctions against North Korea

-Support of gay rights

-Support of strong sanctions against the treachery of Iran and its nuclear program

 

During her relatively short career, Nikki Haley has taken on substantive positions that have rounded out her resume and involve domestic and foreign policy issues. Additionally she has entered the political fray when she deemed it necessary, defying Trump and other politicians. In 2016 Haley responded to President Obama’s State of the Union Address by saying that he “often [has] fallen far short of his soaring words.”

The road to the Republican presidential nomination will require yet another perfect political storm. Continuing appreciation of Trump’s agenda and economic success, coupled with a resounding recrimination of his un-statesman-like persona, self-aggrandizement, and totally un-American political tactics are keys to the success of a presidential primary challenge.

The table is set for this storm as Trump has failed to realize that his petty battles with members of both parties, all critics and other world leaders is not the path to another term in office.

As mentioned, challenging a sitting president of the same party is a daunting task. But Trump has changed all the rules. Yet his efforts on so many fronts domestically and internationally have been “trumped” by his horrible demeanor and belligerent political tactics.

It’s time for a change, a woman in the White House, a sensible yet strong conservative that can redeem American’s reputation. We need a leader who will tactfully and aggressively use America’s unsurpassed military and economic strength in leading the world in the 21st Century.

Nikki Haley is the perfect candidate for this reformation.

Economic Sanctions: The New Weapons Of Mass Destruction In The 21st Century

The Cold War pitting the Soviet Union against the US has morphed into a new type of conflict. No longer are the two major superpowers overtly concerned with a global nuclear war and the launch of hundreds of MIRV missiles (multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles that can carry up to 16 nuclear bombs). Such a confrontation would surely mark the end of humanity, as we know it today.

However, there are several other nations that have developed limited nuclear arsenals, or are in the process of doing so. They include China, Great Britain, France, Israel, Pakistan, India, North Korea and Iran. The odds of less sophisticated countries developing or buying a nuclear bomb grows every day. Nuclear proliferation is in bloom, and the procurers of this deadly technology are in many cases not nations that can be trusted.

Why do smaller, less powerful nations covet nuclear weapons? Pakistan and India have weapons that they use to threaten each other. It’s a new-day mutual destruction arrangement between two mortal enemies.

Israel has nuclear weapons that will enable it to defend against an attack by one or more Arab nations that regularly threaten its existence. Although Israel does not flaunt its nuclear capabilities, its enemies are convinced that the Jewish State would respond with nukes if assaulted. The standoff between Iran and Israel has exacerbated nuclear risk in the region.

Next to North Korea, Iran’s motivations to build nuclear weapons are the most troublesome. For some reason the previous US administration decided to give Iran a road map to a nuke. Supposedly it will take a decade, or so, for Iran to develop a deliverable bomb. Why should the global community trust that Iran would act responsibly if it possesses such a weapon?

Every day Iran threatens Israel and Sunni regimes. A nuke would afford it opportunities to dominate the region using even more coercion and military strength.

North Korea’s aspirations are to gain status in the world and escape the control of China. As a dirt-poor country the leaders believe this will be a fruitless effort without the possession of a nuclear weapon. Based upon history, North Korea cannot be trusted to own deadly weapons.

President Trump has been actively dealing with Iran and North Korea. Hopefully he will convince both countries to denuclearize. Their specific regions and the international community will breathe easier if the president is successful.

Since the US does not use its nuclear power to manage relations around the world and seldom applies military action, how can it administer the peaceful coexistence of nations throughout the world?

Ronald Reagan employed the most effective strategy to deal with the Soviet Union without engaging in a conventional or nuclear war. By using the unparalleled strength of the American economy, he was able to bludgeon the Soviets to do his bidding. The same strategy would be effective against any rogue nation today including Russia and China. Economics are the new weapon of mass destruction of the 21st Century.

The US must combat aggressive behavior with severe economic sanctions, penalties that disrupt domestic economies. In the 80s Reagan pumped up the Cold War by greatly increasing military spending. The Soviets followed suit and effectively went bankrupt.

Wisely the US has initiated sanctions against Russia in response to recent aggression in the Ukraine and Russia’s meddling in our elections.

Because Russia is so dependent upon its energy industry, sanctions that directly or indirectly impact this industry are extremely effective. They include focused attacks against energy companies and their managements, disruption of oil and gas activities and the imposition of banking restrictions that impact the flow of dollars into and out of Russia.

Many people say that China is going to overtake the US economically. This is likely if we continue trade policies employed by past administrations. But China exports about $550 billion to the US annually. This number represents about 25% of its total exports. Any disruption of this trade from sanctions and/or tariffs will cause economic chaos in China. Factories will close, companies will furlough employees and GNP growth will be hampered.

The skeptics say that China can retaliate. The problem with this faulty perception is that the US only exports $120 billion to China each year. This amount is much less than what is going in the opposite direction, and a very small part of our industrial output.

In Iran, the president has imposed harsher economic sanctions to force the country to renegotiate the nuclear treaty. Iran’s currency has devalued by 80% recently, it has massive shortages of all commodities and Iranians are protesting every day against the tyrannical rule of the ayatollahs. The current regime is under great duress at this time and appears to be vulnerable to dramatic change. New sanctions will serve to make the situation direr.

Trump must convince Kim Jong-un that the US will secure his regime and his future and bring economic prosperity to the country, but he must give up the nukes. If Kim hopes to rule his country for another 30+ years, he must make a deal with the US.

The US has the most powerful military in the world. It also has the most powerful influence over the world economically. It should use the latter to avoid violence and impose itself on nations that act badly.

Zero Tariffs Proposed By Trump Would Boost The US Economy

Zero tariff transactions worldwide should be a high priority of the Trump administration. So says Stephen Moore, Arthur Laffer and Steve Forbes in an op-ed piece in the New York Times. They characterize zero tariffs as the equivalent of Ronald Reagan’s efforts with Russia to mutually reduce nuclear weapons.

Following are some basic facts that are germane to Trump’s endeavors to level the playing field for US manufacturers and exporters. Hopefully you will appreciate that liberals and the press have been incorrectly critical of the president’s negotiation of new trade agreements.

It’s important to note that the flow of trade can be materially impacted by tariffs imposed by one country on another country. Fees are set at a rate that artificially makes domestic products more competitive with imported goods. A $20,000 automobile exported to another country may be subjected to a 10% tariff or $2,000. The price of the vehicle accordingly will increase to $22,000 to consumers. This could greatly improve the sales of similar vehicles manufactured domestically.

There are other types of nontariff barriers to exports. They include foreign companies stealing patents, subsidies afforded to state-owned enterprises (exporting countries may provide financial aid to enable domestic companies to compete with exporters) and currency manipulation. In the latter a country may drive down its currency so its exports are more competitive abroad. The Chinese are notorious for all of these predatory practices.

The Council of Economic Advisors has indicted that the average American tariff is 3.5%, while the average European tariff is 5%, China is nearly 10% and the world average is about 10%. A zero world tariff would afford American exporters a significant advantage. The derivative benefit is that US companies would increase exports, which would positively impact employment in the US.

The greatest impediment to zero tariffs is China. As mentioned earlier, it wields the highest tariff rates and uses other types of nontariff devices to give its domestic companies an unfair competitive edge.

Some have criticized the efforts of Trump against China. They should keep in mind that China sold $505 billion of goods to the US, and the US sold $129 billion to China, in 2017. The US has a distinct advantage in a trade war because it can impose tariffs on far more of Chinese exports to the US than US exports to China.

Trump should continue to be very aggressive in his negotiations with China. A short-term trade conflict in the short run could yield very great benefits in the long run.