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Table of Contents

Dr. Thomas Barnett's "Gap v. Core" View of the World is Dangereous

Limits on Bush's Urge to be Preemptive

An Open Request to Shelby Foote

Small Town Life Suffers when there is Rapid Societal Change

Pericles was Right to Question his City's War Time Decision

Television News Commentators should Announce Their Religious or Cultural Orientation

Kerry is not a Good Enough Catholic to Get the Catholic/Christian Vote

Pat Buchanan Missed Bush's Mental Incapacities when Endorsing for President

Would Frequent Local Elections in IRAQ Facilitate U.S. Withdrawal

Did Laura, Barbara, and George H. W. Bush Fulfill their Responsibility to G.W. and the Nation?

Abortion and Gay Marriage are Issues that Argue for Political Process Changes

The Passion of the Christ Provides Images that Make the Catholic Mass Come Alive

What has George Bush Learned in Life?

Can the American Catholic Church Increase Sunday Mass Attendance?

Israel's Future is Being Recklessly Endangered

The Trade Deficit


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Dr. Thomas Barnett's "Gap v. Core" View of the World is Dangereous - Thomas Barnett, a Professor at the Naval War College in Newport R.I., has developed a world view which divides the world into “core” countries and “gap” countries. The core countries are those that have public secularism, strong non religious institutions, globalization, capitalism, and materialism. Core countries have both men and women in the work force and most have birth rates below the replacement rate, in other words declining populations. These countries include all of North America, Oceania, and Europe and in Asia (Japan, China, Russia, and India), in Africa ( only South Africa), and in South America (Brazil, Argentina, Chile, The small islands of the Caribbean, and the Guineas). Gap countries are marked by particular public attachments to religion (mostly Islam), non-globalized economies, and reduced interest in materialism. These countries tend to keep women in the home and they have birth rates above the replacement rate, in other words most have increasing populations. These countries include most of Africa, the middle East, Asian countries with significant Muslim population, and the countries in South America in drug production or drug distribution.

Barnett believes that “core” countries must organize a force to impose “core” values on “gap” countries. This force should in his opinion be composed of a “leviathan” force of attackers followed by an “occupying” force of civil affairs types. He wants the “occupying” force to be composed mostly of “people of color” to take the racial edge off the occupation. Barnett points out the one of the principle tasks of the occupiers will be to build factories that allow the "gap" country to enter the world economy. He points out that the easiest factories to put into a country, just coming into the world economy, are factories, such as shoes and apparel, that need the speed and dexterity of female hands. This means that women must come out of their homes and into factories. Of course, in Islam the culture and religion are strongly in favor of keeping women in the home. Barnett also points out that “gap” countries of excess population growth are going to have to feed people into the “core” to offset their population shortfall. Of course, these “gap” to “core” transferees are likely to bring their Islamic religion with them. Since the “core” countries are generally not Islamic this creates a likelihood of religious/cultural conflict in the "core" countries, similar to Germany's experience with its Turkish immigrants and France's experience with its Algerian immigrants.

In sum, Thomas Barnett has created a program for chaos across the globe. That is “ok” so long as his views do not gain wide acceptance. Unfortunately the opposite is happening. Over the last three years Barnett has formally presented his ideas to Washington policy makers 400 times. Recently Sec. Don Rumsfield issued an order requiring every one star general (or equivalent) to attend one of Tom Barnett’s 90 minute briefings. It is frightening what trouble America might get into as a result of these 90 minute presentations. In addition, any country which can figure out how to have larger families, while keeping family life in tact and inculcating religious beliefs and values, needs to be applauded not denigrated.

In addition, Barnett believes that the rest of the world is willingly paying to support the United State's "leviathan" force by buying US debt in massive amounts. He evidently believes that countries such as Saudia Arabia, Japan, and China are, in the long run, just going to forgive large amounts of US debt as a "thank you" for such excursions as the current Iraq war. He might be mistaken. ... prepared by HVM (12/27/2004)


Limits on Bush's Urge to Act Preemptively - With a mentally limited leader in the White House, it is good that there are many constraints to hold his violent urges in check. These checking factors include: (1) The insurgency in IRAQ which is occupying the attention of nearly 150,000 US troops in country and additional tens of thousands outside of IRAQ in support capacities. With these troops occupied, Bush really doesn't have the manpower to do another major invasion/occupation. (2) The draft is not a popular idea and even a Republican Congress is not likely to authorize it. (3) The budget deficits are huge and the cost of another adventure would ring financial alarm bells. In fact such a surge of spending, without major tax increases, might drop the US debt rating to AA from AAA. (4) Many foreign governments have held firm against "Bush's Preemptions". This resolve does not seem to be waning. (5) The UN was lied to about IRAQ and is unlikely to accept a Bush justifications for a future preemptive war. (6) The US Congress despite its Republican majority has become less amenable to the bellicosity coming out of the White House and will be slow to grant another "green light" for preemption. (7) Bush seems fixated on helping Israel and ignoring the Palestinians. This imbalance is worrisome to other world leaders. They are unlikely to help Bush so long as he is unable to empathize with the suffering Palestinians and so long as his objectivity about Israel is so obviously compromised. (8) American business people in both Europe and the Mideast are finding that Bush's behavior has created a "wall of disgust" which makes it difficult for Americans to do business. The global economy requires that Americans enjoy a high degree of acceptance around the world as they market American goods and services. In sum, it seems that Bush, despite his natural urges, will be less "bellicose" and "preemptive" in his second term.

There are two world leaders that have disproportionate influence over Bush. This is worrisome. These two leaders are using their influence over Bush in an irresponsible and potentially harmful way. The two leaders are Vincente Fox and Ariel Sharon. Sharon continually inflames the situation in the Mideast with no reprimand from Bush. Sharon's behavior might be the triggering cause of another Arab attempt on the US. Fox has prevailed upon Bush to overrule the 9/11 Commission's suggestion that the Mexican border be controlled. Between Sharon inflaming the situation and Fox holding the southern door open, another 9/11 is very possible. The checks mentioned above might be inoperable following such an attack. Bush could be freed to release his "preemptive" urges. .... prepared by HVM on 12/11/2004


An Open Request to Shelby Foote - There are three very interesting, very intelligent American Presidents who had a lot to say about southern secession and the institution of slavery. The three were contemporaries. All three were lawyers, all served in the military, and all three served in Congress before becoming President. Shelby Foote has the skill as a writer, the feel for the cultural forces of the time, and the knowledge of both secession and slavery to succeed. He could create a compelling story (perhaps fiction, perhaps non-fiction) that would illuminate the thoughtful positions espoused by these three Presidents. He could also point out where things might have ended had various alternative scenarios played out. The three are Franklin Pierce, Abe Lincoln, and Jeff Davis - one southerner, two northerners, one Whig turned Republican, two Democrats, all affected by deep personal tragedy. ... prepared by HVM on 11/29/2004

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Small Town Life Suffers when there is Rapid Societal Change - In a time of rapid economic and social change, families need extra "rootedness" and stability. Those are virtues which are particularly present in small communities where people tend to know each other and tend to work and socialize across class lines. This "rootedness" and stability goes a long way to counter the destabilizing coarse and impersonal behavior often found in large cities. However, the variety of economic opportunities in a small community are usually very limited. So when rapid economic change, like America has experienced lately, compels bread winners to change occupations many times in a working career, small town life becomes untenable and migration to the city is required. With modern communication there is no need for the US to stack people up like "cord wood" in cities. The communication backbone of this country can satisfy the higher educational needs, the entertainment needs, and the work oriented communications needs of any family whether they are in a small town or a large city. The government needs to adjust its policies such that employers are encouraged to keep and increase the levels of employment in our smaller communities. How can this be done? (1) When unfortunate events like 9/11 occur, that free up space in a large city. The government should encourage the creation of a park (rather than new high-rise buildings). (2) If a manufacturing concern announces it is pulling its plant out of a small community, the government should offer a subsidy to a city based plant or employer that would be willing to relocate to the small town and employ the displaced workers. (3) The government might offer mining, forestry, and agriculture concerns subsidies if they reduce their utilization of large highly productive pieces of equipment in exchange for more labor intensive methods perhaps using smaller pieces of equipment. (4) Governmental institutions should be spotted around with special attention to improving the situation in small towns. What if the less labor intensive departments of our Federal government (i.e. Education Dept., Supreme Court, or FAA) where spotted around the country in small cities (such as Evansville IN., Springfield MO, Lafayette LA, Waco TX, Spokane WA, Bangor ME, etc.) , so these departments could draw employees from the surrounding small towns. (5) In rural America, there should be voluntary acreage set asides for any family farmer when the price of corn, wheat, and soybeans all fail more than 40% below their prior all time highs for a full month. The set aside would be for the next full crop year. If a family farmer elected to do the set aside, he would get $5,000 for every child below 21 living at home and $5,000 for himself and $5,000 for his wife. The acreage set aside percent would be determined by the US Ag Dept but could not be more than 80% of all tillable acres. The non set aside acreage would have to be farmed to keep the family's farming skills current. The family would have to live within six miles of their farm and the farm would have to contain at least 400 tillable acres to be eligible. The program would tend to increase farm family size particularly in years when crop prices were down. ... prepared by HVM on 11/28/2004

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Pericles was Right to Question his City's War Time Decision - Sen. Bob Graham, the retiring Senator from Florida, was on C-SPAN/2 over the weekend of Nov 14 and told an interesting story about Pericles and a decision in the Peloponnesian War which lead to the destruction of his city. Athens in 415 BC took a decision to attack Syracuse on Sicily with an army and 200 warships. Sicily was an ally of Sparta, Athens' enemy in the war. Sparta looked weak at the time; Athens looked strong. While deploying forces the most capable Athenian admiral, Alcibiades, was relieved of command because he committed a "religious sacrilege". He then decided to transfer his allegiance to Sparta. Nevertheless, the balance of forces around Syracuse favored Athens, but exceptional maneuver by the Spartan general, Gylippas, combined with foolish moves by the remaining Athenian leadership lead eventually to the destruction of both the Athenian sea and land forces nearly 40,000 soldiers and sailors with 200 ships. From that point on Sparta and her allies had the upper hand. Eventually in 404 BC they captured Athens and destroyed that city's defenses. Pericles memorialized this fiasco by saying ... "In war, I do not fear the decisions of my enemies so much as the ill considered decisions of my friends." Senator Graham was induced to recount this story because of the similarities between Athens' decisions then with regard to Sicily and America's decision today with regard to Iraq. It is difficult to say that any lawyer will be missed in Washington, but Sen. Graham, a lawyer, appears to be an exception. ... prepared HVM on 11/17/2004

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Television News Commentators should Announce Their Religious or Cultural Orientation - In this time of unceasing news coming out of the Mideast, which is an area of religious and cultural conflict, it is important that commentators give their hearers a clear idea of their background be it Jewish, Islamic, Christian Arab, or other. A person can be an American but still be influenced by their cultural/religious heritage. This disclosure should not be minimal but rather substantial. Consider two disclosures: "I'm an Arab Muslim born in Jordan but raised in America" versus "I'm an Arab Muslim born in Jordan but raised in this country. I'm now an American Citizen. My sister married a Palestinian and he was killed accidentally by the Israeli Army five years ago while he was visiting his parents in Gaza". Of course, time is critical particularly on TV news shows so perhaps the commentator's disclosure could be handled a scrolling announcement. ... prepared by HVM on 11/17/2004

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Kerry is not a Good Enough Catholic to Get the Catholic/Christian Vote - Senator Kerry did not carry a majority of either Catholics or active Christians. His problem seems to be not so much his particular positions as his open disagreement with the leaders of his own faith. If he had been a Methodist holding the same positions, he would not have been in open disagreement with his church leadership and might have gotten a few more votes from both Catholics and other Christians. Americans generally support the idea of "unspoken contract". In other words, if you say you are "X" and being "X" requires doing "Y", then you should do "Y" or stop saying you are "X". This truth runs directly counter to the preference of many liberal Catholics, who want to call themselves Catholic while holding positions and doing things which are contrary to the clear teaching of the Church. ... prepared by HVM on 11/17/2004

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Pat Buchanan Missed Bush's Mental Incapacities when Endorsing for President - In the end, as the election approached, Pat Buchanan decided to endorse G.W. In his endorsement he failed to discuss G.W.'s severe psychic limitations, if he had his endorsement would have seemed at minimum irresponsible and perhaps irrational. Pat is a strong pro-lifer and he is deeply aware that appointments to the high court are going to play a major role in the coming four years. However, history shows that leaders, who have a demonstrated willingness to twist facts and inflict unneeded pain on others while sending young men off to die unnecessarily, are not suitable for President regardless of other virtues. ... prepared by HVM on 11/17/2004

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Would Frequent Local Elections in IRAQ Facilitate U.S. Withdrawal? - The U.S. claims it wants to install a democracy in IRAQ. The plan includes an attempt nationwide election on one date early in 2005. Instead of attempting such a grand event (which can be easily frustrated by insurgencies acting in just a few places), many small local elections on dates determined locally could be held to elect local councilmen and delegates to the national parliament. A ratio of one local councilman for every 10,000 people and one national assemblyman for each 5 town councilman. In large cities councilman from multiple electoral districts would serve together on the city council of the whole city even though the councilmen were elected on different dates. Each 50,000 person district would elect 5 local councilman and one national assemblyman. At first, the elections should be held every 90 days. Over time the length of time between elections should be extended eventually to two years. The initial 90 day period is designed to force frequent elections that will serve to teach the citizens and election officials the electoral process. If elections are staggered on different dates across Iraq, the national assembly would have a gradually rotating membership which would lessen the effects of dramatic events on the eve of any national election which might spook people and cause wholesale changes in the assembly. The advantages of emphasizing local elections are (1) it allows the local religious leaders and the organizations associated with the local mosque to play an important role providing a safe place to hold the election, they would have a stake in the success of the election and elected candidates, and would resist attempts to disrupt a local process; and (2) the U.S. would be unable to compromise and corrupt the outcome of the election by manipulating the national government in Baghdad. U.S. leaders might be tempted to manipulate the process because of the oil and because of Israel's interest in how Iraq behaves. With the temptation to manipulate frustrated, a clean, fast withdrawal of U.S. troops could be arranged. ... prepared by HVM on 11/17/2004

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Did Laura, Barbara, and George H. W. Bush Fulfill their Responsibility to G.W. and the Nation? - The three members of the Bush family who had the most knowledge of the peculiarities of George W. Bush where his wife and his parents. These three people knew about all the handicaps and psychological baggage G.W. was carrying; they knew of his propensity for excess, his lack of intellectual curiosity, his excessive desire to be a "good old boy", his history of inflicting pain with no sense of guilt, and his internal rigidity. Enough of this was on the public record for Dr. Justin Frank to write a very insightful book Bush on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President. This book shows that G.W. was(is) unsuited psychologically for the tasks every President must face. If Dr. Frank can build such a case from the public record, the close family members should have been able to do the same, particularly with their additional knowledge of G.W.'s handicaps. Of course, with most families one might argue that no close family member knew for sure what type of personality was needed to make a good president; after all most families haven't read up on the duties of the President or lived in the White House. But in the case of the Bush family knowledge of the psychological needs of the President was known through first hand experience; George H. W. Bush had served as President.

What steps should a family take to discourage one of their own from seeking employment obviously unsuited given that person's known limitations? It is impossible to set out hard and fast rules. If the employment sought is inappropriate because the person is not coordinated enough or educated enough to perform successfully in the desired job, then good natured advice is all that is needed because the person's attempt will simply lead to failure. If, on the other hand, the employment sought gives the person the power of life and death over others and if that person has a psychological or physical limitation (or both) that make such employment inappropriate then major steps must be taken to discourage, divert and block the person from gaining such a powerful position. It is apparent that Laura, Barbara, and George H.W. did not take any of the steps they should have taken to discourage, divert and block G.W. from seeking the Presidency. G.W. when he was running Texas set a record for executing prisoners on death row; as President, he failed to read a report lying on his desk which warned that terrorist might fly airplanes into buildings in the US, he has managed to get nearly 10,000 American soldiers either killed or maimed in the Middle East while reducing the popularity of America around the world, and he has allowed his personal friendship with Vicente Fox to frustrate understandable desires by Americans to control illegal immigration.

Self knowledge is also a factor here. G.W. had a conversion experience of sorts when he was 40. This experience should have caused him to do some major introspection. Evidently this period of intense introspection did not occur. If it had occurred G.W. would have become more self aware and much more in touch with his personal strengths and weaknesses. This knowledge would have led him to seek employment more suitable to his personality, perhaps in sales, perhaps in public relations where his personality would benefit him but where decision making was not a significant component. All people must do enough self examination so they know the difference between jobs or positions they might actually obtain and the jobs or positions that they should hold for their own good and the good of those around them. As pointed out elsewhere, lawyers have the verbal skills to gain a lot of important positions, but the stultifying influence of legal training makes it inappropriate for these people to actually hold most of these positions. ... prepared by HVM on 11/10/2004

N.B. - At some point, particularly if he continues in his Christian orientation, G.W. will have his conscience pricked by God and deep introspection will ensue. At this point, G.W. will begin a long hard mental slog through the failures of his life. His wife, Laura, will be sorely tested during this process. When G.W. considers the deaths (and injuries) his IRAQ policy has caused, his psychic pain will be intense. In Japan when an airliner goes down the President of the airline company visits the family of every person that died. Perhaps, once G.W. is truly sorrowful for his behavior, he should begin visiting the families of those that have been killed in IRAQ. These visits may not help the families, but they will help G.W. deal with his inevitable grief. ... final note added by HVM (11/14/2004)

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Abortion and Gay Marriage are Issues that Argue for Political Process Changes - The American Catholic Church, following the lead of Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis, has decided to put Catholic Pro-Choice politician in the "dog house" and has even suggested that Catholics would be committing sins if they supported a pro-choice politician. Since the Catholic Church represents 30% of the population across the country, this is a huge restriction particularly for millions of voters who wish to support a liberal agenda politically. They can't hope to compete successfully in most Democratic primaries, and they can't develop influence in the party because they can't support most of the successful candidates in the Democratic Party.

But these people are entitled to a viable outlet for their political urges and the people who have created these restrictions for them have a duty to help develop outlets for liberal Catholics to be both good Catholics and successful liberal politicians. Exactly how the American bishops might facilitate the needed reforms is not clear. Indeed which reform should be supported is equally unclear. (1) American Catholics could work toward automatic run off balloting where voters pick a first, second, and third choice while voting, and the election board's computers would sort out which candidate would get more than 50% and ultimately win as various candidates were eliminated round by round. Such a system would allow a third party, such as LIBERAL LIFE PARTY, to successfully win some offices in some districts. (2) A full blown change to a parliamentary system, such as recently occurred in New Zealand, with proportional legislative representation, might be more difficult to implement, but such a system would take the teeth out of the judiciary (because in such a system both the executive and the judiciary are truly subordinated to the legislative) so huge changes such as Roe v. Wade couldn't be imposed on society without legislative approval. .... prepared by HVM 11/8/04

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The Passion of the Christ Provides Images that Make the Catholic Mass Come Alive - The Eucharist Prayer that the priest says provides the central focus of the Catholic Mass. The Eucharist Prayer begins as bread and wine are placed on the altar. The priest prays asking that God find the coming sacrifice acceptable. The priest then recalls the events preceding Christ's death says the words of consecration which Christ used at the Last Supper. These words, as promised by Christ, convert the bread and wine to the body and blood of Christ himself. Then the priest offers not bread and wine to God the Father but rather he offers the newly transubstantiated body and blood of God's son Jesus. The priest then reminds God of the sacrifice which his son endured for man's sins on the Cross and asks that God have mercy on the assembled group of believers. Finally the Eucharistic Prayer leads to Communion in which the faithful receive the Body and Blood of their Savior. This allows the communicant's body to become intimately combined with his Savior's body. If during the Mass a member of the faithful thinks of The Passion of the Christ the sense of Christ's sacrifice becomes overwhelming, the reciprocal feeling of personal sinfulness becomes equally strong, and the words of the Eucharist Prayer become much more profound and moving. ... prepared by HVM (11/8/04)

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What has George Bush Learned in Life? - Pres. Bush has an MBA from Harvard, has run various businesses, has been governor of a state, and has been a officer in the National Guard. This experience should have prepared him well for certain of his presidential duties, but did it?

After being in office for only a couple of month's Bush agreed with India to encourage America companies to transfer over three million telephone service jobs to English speaking Indians. This decision was made even though America was slipping into a recession of uncertain severity and had already experienced over the last twenty years the loss of millions of manufacturing jobs. This move meant the loss of 2% of all American jobs in exchange for some nebulous benefit (i.e. the offsetting China's economic strength in Asia through the bolstering of India's economy).

Immediately after the attacks of 9/11 Bush grounded every domestic airliner for several days. This had the effect of shutting down not only the airline industry but much more. In fact he shut down 10% of a continental economy (e.g. rental cars, lodging, resorts, tourist, etc.). There is no question that there was a need to stop people from gaining control of our airliners and flying them into buildings, but that doesn't require grounding all airliners, it requires putting a couple of armed guards at every cockpit door. Armed guards could have been arranged by putting National Guard men with pistols in the first couple of seats on each flight. In the Harvard MBA program students are taught to take necessary corrective action but to avoid actions that cause unnecessary harm to the smooth functioning of their entity, be that a corporation or a unit of government.

During Bush's administration various high ranking advisors pointed out that certain policies were likely to lead to disastrous consequences. Gen Eric Shinsiki, the four star in charge Army personal planning, pointed out that at least 250,000 and preferably 300,000 would be needed to police IRAQ and guard its boarders once the heavy units had conquered the country. Paul O'Neill, the Secretary of the Treasury, pointed out that the huge tax cuts proposed by the White House would cause large budget deficits and probably a sharp decline in the value of the dollar. These pieces of advice proved to be truthful but Bush's response was to demand the resignation of both men. In the Harvard MBA program students are taught in their organization theory classes to honor and promote those who tell the truth not demand their resignations.

America's National Guard and Reserve contain most of the soldiers with the skills needed for "nation building" (e.g. military police, civil affairs, reconstruction, etc.). These units also contain the skills needed to get US towns working again after floods, fires, tornadoes, or hurricanes. This organizational structure necessarily means that foreign "nation building" efforts conducted by the US can either be long term and of very limited scope or short term and of grander scope. They can't be both long term and of grand scale. Today IRAQ has put so much pressure on this limited group of soldiers that re-enlistments are running at only 27% and some units ordered to IRAQ see 30% or 40% of their members failing to report for duty. The Pentagon has taken drastic steps to stem the loss of these soldiers by placing "stop loss" orders on those who reach the end of their agreed enlistments. It appears that no one in the Pentagon did even minimum planning to determine how long the needed "nation building" forces would realistically be deployed. It is also clear that many state governors are going to be rebuilding, retraining, and restoring morale to their National Guard units for years perhaps decades to come.

Bush's biography indicates he has familiarity with the National Guard, macro economics, organizational theory, etc. for a man with such a background to screw up so often would indicate one of the following: an intention to injure his country and fellow citizens or a lapse of mental capacity. It can't indicate mere negligence because repeated failures all of which are injurious, indicate a consistent causative agent, such as mental illness, or intention to harm, etc. (Recently this author began reading Bush on the Couch by Dr. Justin Frank. This book makes it clear that Bush's failures are probably the result of mental deficiencies rather than a desire to do intentional harm.) ... prepared by HVM (11/8/04)

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Can the American Catholic Church Increase Sunday Mass Attendance? - The typical American Catholic parish gets about one third of the adult parishioners to show up for Sunday Mass. The other two thirds don't come regularly. The cause of this has been hard to pin down. Masses are fairly short, the people are generally friendly, the sermons while lacking great oratory are pleasant enough. But still Catholics don't come to Mass. Why? Perhaps the problem lies in their personal sense of unworthiness. If they think about the words of the Consecration at Mass, they have to be reminded of the greatest sacrifice in all history. The sacrifice of Christ on the Cross as expiation for sin. If they think at all, they realize that they have sin in their lives. In many cases they have a lot of sin with a lot of denial. Perhaps they are unable feel the good feelings of celebration, which the modern "music filled" Mass is designed to engender.

The reason one can speak about "a lot of sin", and "a lot of denial", is the under utilization of the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession). The typical American parish has between 1000 and 2000 adults, but most parish priests hear between 5 and 10 confessions per week. This Sacrament was designed by Christ to help people deal with sin. Of course, the other side of that coin is the tide of guilt which accompanies the long term failure to confess. In any group of Catholics you can find 50% or more who have not gone to Confession in 6, 10, or 12 years. Many times these are the same people who have engaged in: sharp business practices, used pornography, failed to visit old and infirm relatives, utilized birth control, misused alcohol, cheated their employees, cheated their employers, encouraged a friend to get an abortion, etc. These people say to themselves "my sins, if they are sins at all, are venial sins so I don't need to go to Confession". This is denial. They are actually afraid of hearing from the priest that their sins are serious.

It is ironic, but very possible, that the Church may only increase attendance at Mass by first encouraging Catholics to go to Confession. The Church teaches that Confession is only required when one has committed a mortal sin. However regular Confession is encouraged because of the grace that accompanies the Sacrament and the pastoral advice which is given before absolution. Perhaps the best way to remind people of their sinfulness would be to announce before communion at every Mass - "Those that have not been to Confession in the last six months should do a particularly careful examination of conscience before receiving the Holy Eucharist"? It is most important that this admonition be delivered at funeral Masses, marriage Masses, Christmas Masses, Easter Masses and any other Mass likely to attract occasional Catholics.... prepared by HVM on 10/9/2004

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Israel's Future is Being Recklessly Endangered - The Bush administration has decided to invade the Arab Middle East and attempt to install Western liberal ideas at the point of a gun. The Arabs are in an uproar because these liberal ideas operate against major strictures of the Koran. If Bush is re-elected, he is likely to push beyond Iraq into Iran and Syria and perhaps Saudi Arabia and the Sudan. If he does this, he is going to need many more soldiers. He may be forced to demand that the Republican Congress re-institute the draft.

There are 1.2 billion believing Muslims in the world. These Muslims will rally, as the Iraqis have, and will begin fighting the Americans. The US will face inevitable defeat and withdrawal. When that day comes, the Americans may want to cut off all involvement likely to inflame the indigenous people, and that termination of involvement could include America's commitment to Israel.

This tendency to cut off Israel will be stronger or weaker depending upon two things (1) how many people in the Bush administration end up being "fingered" for having spied on the US for Israel, and (2) how even handed and forthcoming Israel has been in its dealings with the Palestinian people's legitimate aspirations (e.g. self government, joint management of Jerusalem, the wall, the right of return, etc.). The things Israel could lose are: its nearly unlimited access to American military technology, the foreign aid and loans that the US gives Israel which it uses to buy military equipment and prop up its economy, the special tax treatment Americans enjoy on the interest from Israel bonds, the protection the US has been granting Israel by vetoing anti Israel resolutions in the UN's Security Council, and the "blind eye" which the US has used to view Israel's nuclear weapons programs. Israel might be able round up enough support from the world's Jews to keep the country going, but it is unlikely that approach would work for more than a few years. The Bible says that "the truth will make you free", once the American people wake up to the truth of Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Israel they could very well decided to set themselves totally free of this messy region. The risks to Israel's future are great and real... prepared by HVM on 9/29/30

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The Trade Deficit - Philip Giraldi, a former CIA Officer and currently an international consultant, reported in The America Conservative (9/27/04) that American businesses have never experienced such difficulty selling their goods and services into Western Europe and the Middle East, where successful boycotts against US products have been organized. All this despite the recent weakness in the dollar designed to help the sale of US products overseas. Years ago in neighborhood stores shopkeepers would post a sign which read "The Customer is Always Right". If America is going to pursue globalization, America's leaders must remember that it is important to keep our customers happy. America's "customers" announced they were unhappy with the administration's plan to invade IRAQ, so their disinterest in our products should be no surprise. One wonders if G. W., a Harvard MBA, ever considered the negative impact that the war in Iraq might have on our balance of payments. ...... prepared by HVM on 9/27/2004


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This page hopes to bring a common sense, old fashioned view to today's news. The comments displayed on this page were prepared by Hugh V. Murray, who can be reached at hvm@aol.com