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Norbert Bufka

Author  ·  Historian  ·  Bufka Books

Published Articles, Letters, and Blogs

We are living in the “best” and “worst” of times

Charles Dickins began A Tale of Two Cities with, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” This is a good way to describe our current political life in the United States. Democracy is alive and well in this ongoing experiment in self-government begun in 1776. Women are gathering in protest and rallies not seen for nearly 100 years. Voters have been coming out in record numbers in the special elections that have taken place since the election of Donald Trump as president in 2016. Record numbers voted in the 2018 elections and brought about many changes in leaders and governance. In Michigan voters approved a non-partisan approach to redistricting.

Donald Trump is the worst President in my lifetime. I wrote before the election on October 2, 2016 that he was unfit for office because he is a bully, lacks intellectual curiosity and knowledge, cannot maintain attention to anything more than a fewm minutes, and has total disregard for the meaning of words. He lies constantly. His time in office has proven beyond a doubt the truth of my words in 2016.

The House of Representatives impeached him in 2019 but the Republican controlled Senate voted him not guilty on both Articles: abuse of power and obstruction of Congress. Only Republican Senator Mitt Romney had the courage and integrity to vote guilty on Article 1.

Now President Trump is wasting no time in punishing those in government who testified against him in the House hearings on impeachment, adding more weight to the argument that he is inept for office. Then he began using his constitutional power to pardon by granting pardons to white collar crminals, many of whom have been associated with Trump.  He is constantly telling us by word and example that he is supreme ruler of this country without any restraints or accountability.

He must be stopped. Let’s keep the momentum going through the elections in November and elect responsible people who are concerned about the Constitution, our form of government, and the common good of our country.

 

Benedict XVI is retired and not the Pope

Pope Benedict XVI retired in 2013, the first time a pope did such in over 600 years. There are no guidelines for him to follow. But it seems to me that once he left the papal office, he should keep his mouth shut or make only general comments about issues in the Church. To do otherwise is disruptive, especially when we consider the deep division in the Roman Catholic Church and many traditionalists support him. He is the co-author of a book in which he says the Church must not allow married men to be priests, although after the book was announced, he said he wanted his name off as an author. He still claims however that the Church must retain the celibate model of priestbood, even though priests were allowed to marry for nearly the first 1200 years of Christianity.  Why then did he allow Anglican married priests to become Catholic and continue their ministry? Why then is a priests allowed to be married in the Eastern rite of the Catholic Church?

Did Pope Benedict’s statement invluence Pope Francis in his just released letter on the Amazon (Querida Amazonia)? In this letter he did not open the door to married men being ordained priests in the Amazon as the Synod on Amazon wanted. On the other hand he did not close the door on married priests nor women deacons.

The Church needs to be open to possibilities, not boxed in by worn out tradition and human precepts.  In keeping with Pope Francis’ teaching, he wants the whole church to engage in discernment regarding ordained ministry and not make a decision for one area of the Church.

Impeachment of President Trump

Impeachment of President Trump

Impeachment is the formal accusation of “treason, bribery, high crimes and misdemeaners”by a public official. At the federal level this is reserved to the House of Representatives. Geral Ford said that impeachavble offenses are whatever the House says they are. So President Trump was impeached.

The Articles of Impeachment are then sent to the Senate for a trial with the Chief Justice presiding. The Constitution does not spell out how this is to be done. As in a crmminal trial, arguments are presented in support of the Articles and others argue against them. Upon a two-thirds majority vote of those present, the impeached person is removed from office.

So President Donald Trumpt was impeached but he was not removed from office. The civil courts can still bring charges against him after he leaves office. He is not immune from prosecution.

As my wife and I were returning from a visit to relatives in Illinois on MOnday January 24, 2020, we listened to the defense lawyers present their case for the President in the impeachment trial. I was shocked and dismayed to listen to Ken Starr say that abuse of power was not an impeachable offense. I remembered the trial against Bill Clinton, in which he was the Independent Counsel for bringing the charges against Clinton. He said then the primary charge was “abuse of power.” He didn’t say on Monday that he changed his mind. His speech was very hypocritical.

 Then distinguished Harvard professor Alan Dershowitz proclaimed that Trump was acting properly if he thought his re-election was necessary for our national security. This is an unbelievably vacuous argument.  There isn’t a politician now or in the past who does not believe his election is in the national interests. This argument does not fly in a democracy, where the people decide who will govern.

The Senate vote on the two articles of impeachment was not surprising. Mitt Romney announced in advance he would vote “guilty” but no other Republicans followed his lead.

It disturbs me immensely that Trump is our president not because of his political views but because he is corrupt, immoral, and narcissistic. What realy scares me however is the number of people who support him, despite his ineptness.  And our Representatives and Senators do not have the courage and integrity to recognize evil when it is staring them in the face.

Let’s work hard to elect a real president in November.

Bishops have duped Catholics

The United States Conference of Catholic bishops(USCCB) , has sold its moral authority and credibility to the right-wing politicians in this country. We are paying for that with a president who is the opposite of moral leadership. The situation is reminiscent of the Catholic Church and other Christians supporting Hitler in Germany in the 1930’s.

Ever since the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade in 1973, the bishops have been focused on overturning the decision and have shown they are willing to work with the devil to get this accomplished. In their quadrennial statement on faithful citizenship, they once again called abortion the “pre-eminent” issue in our country. The bishops of Kansas and Missouri reported that in their recent meeting with Pope Francis, he agreed with them that abortion is the “pre-eminent” issue, despite the Pope’s constant reminder that there are many other life issues.

CatholicVote.org is capitalizing on this leadership sellout. It “identified 199,241 Catholics in Wisconsin who’ve been to church at least 3 times in the last 90 days,”according to a New York Times article by Thomas Edsall.  A third of them are not registered to vote.  CatholicVote obtained this data through a morally questionable process called geofencing. They will use this information to target them to register and vote for Trump. Brian Burch of CatholicVote said this “is barely a glimpse” of what  the group is doing.  “There’s much we can’t report,” Burch wrote in an eemail on January 29, 2020.

In 2016 it was reported that 40% of Catholics voted for Trump. This is precisely the fault of the bishops who have failed to give sound and consistent moral teaching.

Catholic leaders again sold out to the right-wing in allowing Trump to speak at the March for Life rally on January 24. Tom Roberts, executive editor of NCR,  said it succinctly, “On Jan. 24, the most glaring intellectual disconnect, a display of moral dissonance that an Orwell would have been hard-put to imagine, was in full view on the National Mall. Thousands of Catholics, encouraged by more than a few bishops, joined the throng hailing President Donald Trump as a pro-life savior….The selling of the Church’s moral authority is complete.”

Trump will be using his appearance at the March for Life gathering in DC as a rallying point for Catholics to vote for him. Yet Trump has proven himself to be anything but a model of Christian values. He is narcissistic, the entithesis of the compassion called for by Jesus. He demeans people he doesn’t like or who don’t agree with him, in contrast to jesus’ constant befriending non-Jews and the outcasts of society. He glories in abusing women in contrast to Jesus’ close relationship with women.

Do not be fooled by pseudo-Catholic voices.  Check out what they do as well as what they say.

 

 

Jesus was a socialist - the disciples were communists

In Matthew 25, Jesus urges the people to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsy, shelter the homeless, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, take care of the sick, and visit those in prison. In Acts 2:44-45, the disciples “had all things in common”.

It is not a good idea to impose modern terms like socialist and communist on the words of the Bible, because these are modern words, but the message is very clear that we are to take care of those in need. Yet our political leaders who claim to be Christian act as if they never heard of these words. The want to deny help to people because the people in need have brought it on themselves, they profess, and don’t deserve our help. This is totally contrary to the words of jesus and the way the early Christians lived.

So let’s not be afraid of candidates who want to help poor people, provide better educational opportunities, make sure everyone has access to good health care, and make our infrastructure safe and workable. These are neither socialist nor communist ideas. They are acts of social justice. The better all people are, the better will be our country.

 

 

Geofencing is n invasion of privacy

Many people complain or are concerned abut government intrusion into one’s personal lives, but private companies are doing the same thing without you even noticing it.  they are able to capture information from your cell phone and use it at the time to send you an ad or save the data for later contact with an ad. This is done through a process called geofencing. I looked it up and found a company promoting itself as “THE LEADERS IN GEOFENCING”. Its home page says:

No company in the industry offers a more targeted approach with household IP extension & cross device targeting across 98% of the web’s publishers. Our proprietary Geofencing process creates a virtual fence over your store, a competitor’s store, or even key neighborhoods. We then deliver your ads to any device that enters your geofence, PLUS capture device ID’s so you can retarget them later when they’re at home, work or play.

Our Geofencing technology is so precise, we reach shoppers inside a store or even at live events. Once they have entered your Geofence, consumers are served your ads on both apps & browsers. This targeting will help capture your customers on a more personal level by providing them with special offers that apply to their current location.

You and I have no idea when some company is doing this but a Catholic organization is proudly doing this inorder to support Trump for re-election. The group is called Catholic vote.org.  they geofence a church and then capture data from the cellphones of churchgoers, and then send ads to those devices.

So, while you are in church praying, this company may be invading your privacy so it can send you pro-Trump ads.  This is an added incentive to make sure your cell phone is turned off before you get to the parking lot!

Read more about it in an article in NCR by Heidi Schlumpf

 and another by Michael Sean Winters. Then spread the word by talking abut it or sending the links to others.

New Year's Resolution

It is traditional to make some resolutions for a new year and it is also traditional to break them before thened of January. There is one resolution however that I urge you to make and keep. This is a very important election year.

President Donald Trump is running for reelection and the Republican party is forbidding anyone to run against him in state primaries. The Democratic Party candidate is our only hope for a different president when January 2021 rolls around.

Because of the ineptness of Trump on all grounds (see previous blog posts), it is imperative we elect a Democrat in the fall. In Michigan it will be easier to vote in all elections because of the Amendment passed in2018.  Anyone can register to vote even on the day of election. Anyone can choose to obtain an absentee ballot and vote before election day. You need to contact the clerk of your residence to do both of these. If you are not registered to vote,please do so as soon as practicable. Tell the clerk you want an absentee ballot and learnd the procedure to make sure you actually get one in October in advance of the November election.

So my proposed resolution is this:

I will do everything I need to do so I can vote in the November election.

These steps might include:

Register to vote.

Study the candidates and issues

Get an absentee ballot.

Actually vote.

 

1984 has arrived

George Orwell’s book, 1984 became public on June 8, 1949. It depicted a country run by Bib Brother and the Party. In the book this was a leftist organization and all readers thought that the threat of government control would be the product of the political left. Orwell described a country in which 15% of the people belonged to the Party and were blindly loyal to it. They didn’t care about the 85%, called proles. Orwell described them, “All that was required of them was a primitive patriotism which could be appealed to whenever it was necessary to make them accept longer working-hours or shorter rations. In a way, the world-view of the Party imposed itself most successfully on people incapable of understanding it. They could be made to accept the most flagrant violations of reality, because they never fully grasped the enormity of what was demanded of them, and were not sufficiently interested in public events to notice what was happening.”

The Ministry of Truth altered the past and current news so that both the Party member and the proletarian would “tolerates present-day conditions partly because he has no standards of comparison”  and will believe that they are well off. But it is important to change the past and the news to protect the inffalibility of Bib Brother. “To change one’s mind, or even one’s policy, is a confession of weakness.”

Reality is in the head and the Party makes the laws of nature.

 

This was scary enough when reading it back in the 1950’s and 1960’s but it is rapidly becoming reality. I believe that this book is the playbook of Donald Trump. He expects 100% loyalty from everyone, he accepts no compromises or disagreements with what he says or does. He is infallible, in his mind. He has said he is the Chosen One. He even asked the Secretary of the Interior to tellt the Weather Bureau to change its report on a hurricane so when Trump’s said Alabama was in the path of the hurricane, he would appear to be right.

Trump has denied saying things even though he have been recorded. He says something is good when it is bad, such as calling Putin a friend when all know Putin cannot be trusted. Trump is trying to circumvent and disregard laws because he is above the law.

If Trump is reelected, we can be assured there will be more efforts to make himself Bib Brother and turn our democracy into a dictatorship.

In 2008 I wrote an oped column for the midland lpaper in which I charged President George W. Bush as trying to be Big Brother. He favored and signed into law the Patriot Act which infringed on human rights inorder to protect national security. The Republican Party tried to get a marriage amendment passed and have tried to overturn Roe. V. Wade for several decades. Those efforts pale in comparison to what our current president is doing and wants to do. He has resurrected a plan for a police force accountable only to him, reminiscent of Hitler’s Gestapo.

He denies climate change and withdrew from the Paris Agreement on climate and has directed the government to do nothing about it. He favors destroying our natural resources for the sake of making money. He has no moral values and treats immigrants seeking asylum with despicable plans. He wanted to ban all Muslims from entering the country or those here from leaving and returning.

The country described in 1984 is becoming a reality and it is no joke. Please get a copy of the book and read it yourself and spread the word about what Trump is doing to our country.  Keep in mind too that all those who support him are complicit in this destruction of our democracy.

 

 

Let there be peace on earth

 

With Christmas day now a memory, it is still important to reflect on the meaning of this day. Peace and harmony are at the heart of all the major religions, especially Christianity, whose source is called the Prince of Peace. . Unfortunately these sentiments are often lost in our everyday lives, even during this time of year. We destroy peace and harmony through environmental degradation, gun violence and acts of terror, fueling fear, and extreme ideologies.

Environmental Degradation

One of the ways we destroy harmony is through environmental degradation – the destruction of our land and the pollution of the air and water. We know that global warming is a reality but many choose to deny the human contribution to that warming. In a letter about our world, The Care of Our Common Home (Laudato Si),  Pope Francis emphasized that we have a responsibility to take care of each other and everything in the world. Yet we are largely responsible for the environmental degradation that exists all over the world-  pollution of our air, water, and land and adverse climate change. All of our human actions have caused disharmony with adverse effects especially on the poor. We are heading for global suicide, he said on his flight back from Africa in 2015.

Terrorism

Acts of terror have been occurring all over the world including the United States. Many of the perpetrators have been members of ISIS, giving reason for some to demean Islam and its adherents, but we must avoid this kind of . language. It is unfair and contrary to our American ideals of innocent until proven guilty.  Our president is a primary leader of demeaning Muslims.

we have our own brand of terrorism right here in this country under the name of mass shootings. A mass shooting is any incident in which four or more people are killed or injured by gunshot.  A gun proponent sent me information about how statistically low is the number of victims of gun shootings, but I would challenge him on the basis of this question. “How would you react if the victim was your child or grandchild?” I think the response might be quite personal rather than saying, “oh, it was all right. He was only one of .01% .”

Fear

Fear has been shamefully promoted by our leaders, especially after 9/11/01. As a result, fear clutches the hearts of so many people that it is nearly impossible to arrive at reasonable solutions or courses of action in the face of these mass shootings and other problems. It would be well for us to remember the words of President Franklin Roosevelt, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” “Be not afraid”, or similar words, are the most common phrase in the Bible. Unfortunately, our president loves to fuel fear in his audience.

Extreme ideologies

An extreme ideological stance guides so many people who are unwilling to compromise. They see compromise as a sign of weakness. They defend their positions as if they have been given to them directly by God.

Asubset of extreme ideologies is religious fundamentalism, which occurs in all the major religions. Any religion, which preaches and practices intolerance, hatred, and/or murder is not authentic and should be curtailed. Authentic religion is about helping each other in need, as the letter of James (1:26) says,  “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”

Let’s rise above the fears and ideologies so that we can work towards peace and harmony in our country and world. This work begins with you and me in our everyday living

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

 

A version of this blog appeared in the Midland Daily News on December 20, 2015.

 

Our president is mentally unstable

In 2016, I wrote in an op-ed column in the Midland Daily News that Trump was unfit for office. My claim was not based on his policies but rather his mental state and character. He was unable to focus on anything longer than a few minutes, he seldom read anything, and he did not listen to advice from others, especially those whoo disagreed with him.  Speaking in complete sentences with a coherent thought was a challenge to him.

His time in office has shown very clearly that my claim in 2016 was accurate. In fact, he has far surpassed all my claims of ineptitude. It is now certain that he has a mental illness. This was made clear to me when I looked up the definition of a sociopath after a friend alerted me to that condition.

Trump asserted after one of the mass shootings that the shooter was mentally ill and therefore we should have a register of all who are mentally ill. Besides being a totally preposterous idea, if such a list were made, he would be the first one on it.

In early December 2019 mental health professionals wrote an open letter to Congress urging them to be aware of Trump’s fragile mental health. They declared his condition to be Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or more popularly extremely low narcissistic self-esteen.

. This is why he seeks constant affirmation from people around him and denounces anyone who refuses to do so. He demands absolute loyalty and thinks this is part of his constitutional right.

The House prepared to Articles of Impeachment and on December 18, the House approved both articles. Interestingly, the Republicans in the House offered no defense of the President’s character or actions. They only vilified the \democrats for the impeachment. Now it will go to the Senate for a trial with Chief Justice John Roberts presiding.  A simple majority vote is enough to find him guilty, but a two-thirds majority vote is required to remove him from office. This should be a no-brainer, but the Republicans in the Senate are such sycophant’s that they lack the courage to stand up to this president. They would rather let our democratic republic fall into the hands of a self- appointed autocrat rather than preserve and protect the constitution.

In 1967 the states approved the 25th Amendment in which the Congress can declare a president unable to serve because of his disability. This is another no-brainer but both houses of Congress would need a two thirds vote to remove him based on disability. this option hasn’t been given any serious considereation.

Three psychiatrists, Yale Medical School Professor Dr Bandy Lee, George Washington University Professor Dr John Zinner, and former CIA profiler Dr Jerrold Post said  that with impeachment, “Donald Trump has the real potential to become ever more dangerous, a threat to the safety of our nation.” 350 mental health professionals signed on in support of their statement.

They recognise Mr Trump is exhibiting “definitive signs of severe pathology of someone who requires an advanced level of care” and who “meets every criterion of lacking a rational decision making capacity”. Our president is not just telling lies, he is delusional.

This statement by mental health professionals must not be dismissed as just another point of view. To do so denies the science of mental health and falls into the rants of our president that he is a stable genius and must not be opposed.  Only he can resolve the issues facing our country, he says.

All of this confirms that the process must proceed and he must be found guilty in the Senate. Otherwise, he will be claiming his innocence and blaming the Democrats of an unlawful impeachment probe.  And unfortunately, his base will eat that up and give them another reason to re-elect him in November.

We must not allow this to happen.

Source:

“350 health professionals sign letter to Congress claiming Trump's mental health is deteriorating dangerously amid impeachment proceedings”, Independent, Dec 5, 2019.

 

 

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