Monday, August 27, 2012


          The reality                                                                     The propaganda

Click on blue higlights for further information

To warn us that we are constantly menaced by illegal immigrants, a new group has formed in the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.  This vocal cadre of 10 within thousands of ICE employees has grabbed headlines by complaining that their own agency is not being strict enough bringing actions against immigrants, and they’ve launched a lawsuit against their own bosses to prove it.
“NumbersUSA, a group that advocates for reduction of immigration, is funding the lawsuit on behalf of Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents opposed to current policy. The suit goes after two key Obama policies on immigration: prosecutorial discretion to focus on criminals and repeat offenders, as well as deferred action for undocumented young people.”  *

Outside of the question of political nature of this lawsuit, pushing the hot-button immigration issue in this election season, and whether a super-PAC like Karl Rove’s Crossroads America might be funding NumbersUSA [nobody knows where the super-PAC money goes], there are the questions of common sense, Gospel charity, and the continued contribution that immigrants legal & illegal make to our society. 
On common sense, a friend of the family who works for ICE recently expressed his opinion that most of his coworkers think that this in-agency lawsuit group is a minority going way overboard, and that enforcement has to be focused and sensible.  You can’t go after everyone that’s here illegally, even if you had four times the agents, while spending even more on drones and spy camera balloons for our border patrols [dejavu Port Huron's "mooned" balloon? --some to be recycled from Afghanistan] .  And do we need to do this in this time of drastic across-the-board federal budget cuts?  Other ICE agents I know, from my church including my brother, approach their jobs logically, and with compassion.

At a family wedding this summer, a guest described to me his being a mechanic maintaining two large farm operations.  The Mexican and Guatemalan farm laborers he worked alongside, he supposed were undocumented.  With the language barrier they were somewhat hard for him to get to know, but were indispensable workers, and some had become valued friends.   He believed his boss was paying them fair wages, and providing just working conditions--after not being able to find local laborers to employ.
Immigrants built this country, and they are still vital contributors to its structure, and our daily bread.  That doesn’t impress Roy Beck, founder of NumbersUSA who seems a rational advocate for his cause of more impenetrable borders, apparently disclaiming those who would use hate language against immigrants.  He finds Gospel charity impractical in this instance.  "There's no question that the gospel is pretty radical, but that's just not the way the world works," he said. "Whenever we've had peaks of high immigration, the most vulnerable in our society have been the ones to suffer."  What causes the suffering is not addressed.  There’s routinely a struggle across borders between rich and poor.
Bought & paid for with U.S. drugs & weapons dollars -- violence based market, made in the USA
ext week we’ll look at a wave of violence, drugs, weapons, and militarized war on drugs, that is currently driving refugees into the U.S. from Mexico --- and at the movement in Mexico that comes now to the USA, pleading for an end to the violence.  It’s led by Javier Sicilia, a Mexican Catholic poet and professor, who lost his 24 year old son in the crossfire.

Background stories on Javier Sicilia, and link to his current caravan from Tijuana to Washington, D.C.  ---  Please consider joining in some way.

For more on Roy Beck --


 The Good Samaritan "after Van Gogh"
Illumination by Kathy Brahney

Monday, August 13, 2012


Please click on blue links for full articles

Syrian rebel  battles with Syrian government forces--Rastan in Homs province--Jan 31, 2012 AP photo

Syrian army tanks T-72 are seen in the al-Midan area in Damascus on July 20, 2012

The nonviolence of Arab Spring is confronted by its addicted older brother in the cold hard weapons market of death that is Syria.  Whether it was elements within the demonstrators, or President Assad’s troops firing first, {and how many have been massacred by armed insurrectionists, vs. government reactionary forces, since} the only clear message is that violence has staged a coup.  The outside nations of interest have another proxy battleground on which to exert their influence, and sell their weaponry.  Arab Spring is nipped in the bud, demonstrations and dialogue shrink back as impracticalities, and the reality of cold & hot wars is re-established.

So the U.S. repeats it’s Mideast mistakes.  We would topple Assad because he is axis-of-evil friend of Iran, and/or is a dictator {as in Qadaffi, & Saddam}. The Syrian rebels open a lobbying office in Washington D.C., the CIA helps funnel arms to the rebels.  The rebels themselves are 80% Sunni {—and Syria accepted more refugees from our war in Iraq than any other country}.   Many Syrian Sunni rebels are partial to Al Qaeda [as they were in Iraq].  We now back these rebels because our current #1 enemy of the day is President Bashar al-Assad, who is allied with the Shiites of Iran [himself a member of a similar religious group, the Alawites].  Our Syrian freedom fighter rebels are almost certain to turn firepower against us whenever opportune.

"Syria was a major staging area for Sunni jihadis (attacking U.S. forces) in Iraq," he said. "Many of these networks are still in place in Syria. These are elements that view Shi'ites as heretics and Alawites as even more heretical." Reporting by TomHeneghan--Reuters, 12-23-11  These are the guys we are helping arm against Assad.

aradoxically the Iraqi government [a Shiite majority] which we recently went to great trouble to help install, supports President Assad’s effort to stay in power, and is quite sympathetic to Iran.  “… Iraq who has long-cautioned for neutrality and a centrist position on Syria, rejected the Arab League’s call for Assad to step down, and said others should ‘not interfere’ in Syria’s affairs.”  From Al Arabiya News Chanel-- July 25, 2012

A recent NYT oped, Syria is Iraq, points to the big problem with our recent actions in Iraq.    Because of both U.S. incompetence and the nature of Iraq, this U.S. intervention triggered a civil war in which all the parties in Iraq — Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds — tested the new balance of power, inflicting enormous casualties on each other and leading, tragically, to ethnic cleansing…   The author, though promoting our eventual role there as a “well-armed midwife” managing Iraq’s transition, has admitted that this birth canal of war was a terrible graveyard.  Iraq does not see the U.S. “midwife” as pro-life. 
2006 estimate of "probable excess mortality"of Iraqis since our 2003 invasion--only study done by professional epidemiologists--Johns Hopkins' University Bloomberg School of Public Health--Please read overview article.

f course Shiite and many other Iraqis were glad to see the Sunni, Saddam Hussein, go.  He’d persecuted them and fought eight years of bloody war against Iran {with some help from the U.S.} in the 1980’s.  Strange bedfellows--a game of musical beds.  The leadership of Iran is fundamentally Shiite for many decades [after deposing our secular friend the Shah], and certainly supports the new Shiite authorities of Iraq. To make things more complicated, both Syria & Iran back the Hezbollah group in Lebanon against Israel.

'ARMS FLOW TO SYRIA’ [International Herald Tribune, France]

We will never buy real respect and influence or security with our weaponry.  Not in Syria, not in Iraq, not in homeland USA.  Whack-a-mole politics with bombs & guns never wins.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. indicates the one Good News hope that leads out of this hole, "I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality... I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”

Egypt's Tahrir Square

More references on the intrigue in Syria
New York Times video on Syria--updated
 and it's related video -- Smugglers in Support of Syria  

While we're on border problems, how about this?--
     May, 2011- Israel's border breached from Syria by nonviolent protesters as part of Arab Spring.

Illuminations by Kathy Brahney

Sunday, August 5, 2012


We approach August 6, 2012-- celebration of the Transfiguration of the Lord Jesus * --with measured steps up a mountain of misunderstanding.  The Son of God reveals himself in all his glory, full of the divine light of  mercy and overwhelming love He has preached and shown in His healings.  The three apostles present still don’t understand (want to stay in a cloud), nor do we, two thousand years later.

On this same August 6th two terrible events have occurred in recent history, which demonstrate the depth of our hard-hearted rejection of the message and person of Jesus--who is our Light against the darkness.  
Little Boy--first Atomic Bomb--Dropped on Hiroshima, Aug. 6, 1945--Boston Globe source

Kemmler's electric chair--or facsimile
Lesser known is the story of the execution on this day in 1890 of the first person to die in the electric chair, William Kemmler.  The state of New York introduced this new method to kill a murderer.  Though advertised as a most modern technology it took multiple shocks from a dynamo that needed to be restarted to finish off Mr. Kemmler—sensationally reported as a ghastly affair.  {The book Empires of Light gives full description and context}.  This should have given pause to capitol punishment proponents, and some people did protest, but the culture of death for criminals by “humane methods” persists over 100 years later.

Unfortunately, a local Port Huron hero of that era, Thomas Edison, the world’s greatest inventor, was involved in manipulations to make sure this new form—execution by electricity—occurred as grim spectacle.    The current used was AC [that favored by Westinghouse] and Edison championed DC for widespread household use.  AC could now be discredited as too dangerous, and execution by electric chair termed, “to be westinghoused.”  So went the Edison strategy.   The father of the light bulb, failed though to prevent the more utilitarian AC from becoming our common power source, and the power that lights our cities has extinguished the lives of thousands of U.S. prison inmates.

Representation of slightly more modern version of electric execution, from film "The Green Mile"

The second terrible perversion of power and light occurred this day August 6th 1945 massacring a civilian population of Hiroshima Japan, in the name of victory over enemies and saving our troops lives.  {The book Hiroshima by John Hershey tells some of the grim, still not often told story—Bob Tighe who was a member of our BWPC, and Fr. George Zabelka, who was chaplain for the Enola Gay plane that dropped the A-bomb, were Michigan people I’ve known, there soon after as GI’s, and collaborate the total destruction.}
Hiroshima, autumn 1945--two lone figures walking--Boston Globe source
There is historical debate about what was really necessary.  There is no question that a weapon of mass destruction without precedent was introduced into the world, in this way radical evil was served, and that Jesus’ teaching to love your enemy was violated.  A blast of superhuman light and power was embraced as more trustworthy, than the light of truth revealed by God in the life death and resurrection of God’s beloved Son.

Fr. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy has written an essay on the theme above.  Please read. 

In it we find:

 If the spirit of homicidal violence had but one victim in human

history, it would be no less monstrous, grotesque and perverted.

 The satanic is not fundamentally discerned by statistics. Indeed,

 statistics can dull empathic sensibilities that expose critical


  Nor is God a calculator of statistics.  Forgive 70 times 7 is the measure.  We wrestle

 here on earth with the dark angel that advertizes a culture of preemptive death and

 despair.  Jesus our Transfigured Light shows us the only way to drive out these


On July 22, 1456, Crusaders defeated the Turks at Belgrade. News of the victory reached Rome on August 6, and Pope Callistus III placed the feast of the Transfiguration on the Roman calendar the following year.
We seem to always want to attribute victory in war, and justice executed by death, to our faith in the One who said, “Father forgive them they do not know what they do,” as He died on the cross. 

Have we yet listened to, or even heard, the voice of the U. S. Catholic Bishops, spoken in their “ The Challenge of Peace” pastoral letter of 1983 ?
             After the passage of nearly four decades and a concomitant growth in our understanding of the ever growing horror of nuclear war, we must shape the climate of opinion which will make it possible for our country to express profound sorrow over the atomic bombing in 1945.  Without that sorrow, there is no possibility of finding a way to repudiate future use of nuclear weapons…”

Hiroshima bomb aftermath--excavated years later

Transfiguration by Raphael