Monday, January 28, 2013


1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, honor a fallen brother with a 21 gun salute on Forward Operating Base Brassfield-Mora--posted in "Military & Defense" -- There are 4 to 8 million of these war weapons now in U.S. homes, according to one of its industry spokesmen.

Where did this come from?  It seems we are being blind-sided by a 21 States onslaught of laws designed to protect assault weapons, not the children and others who are being killed by them.  In the latest round of this reactive lawmaking, we have the “Michigan Firearms Freedom Act.”   The most recent mass killings in Newtown, Conn. have provoked a revulsion against military-style weapons in the public’s hands.  Even though there’s still no federal weapons control law to vote on in the U.S. Congress, the gun lobby is already mobilized.  This Michigan law, which has just passed out of committee for a vote on the floor, will prohibit any federal controls on guns and assault weapons “manufactured” [including factory assembled] in our state.  Yet since 2009, legislators in at least 21states have introduced their own version of the Firearms Freedom Act…”  As mass killings march on, the gun industry is all about legislative blowback.
ALEC - One of many legislation creators
Who’s responsible for the initiation and writing of this bevy of cloned laws?  State Senator Phil Pavlov is the primary sponsor named in this Michigan bill.  Where did he get this bill?  As a fellow Catholic, and supporter right to life, it wouldn’t seem he’d spearhead the cause of protecting assault weapons {the U.S. Bishops since 2004 have declared they should be banned}.  I hope to find a proper way to ask him.

And because this seems to be a mounting problem--laws written by think tanks [ALEC experience in New Hampshire mirrors ours] for mass production & distribution on many issues--we need to suggest a new law, state and national, as a remedy—the Transparency in Legislation Act. 

This act will require that the questions be answered: who, or what organization, initiated the bill, who researched it, who wrote its language.  The idea is similar to the disclosure of who sponsors the sports team, TV program, or advertisement.  The origin should be written plainly for all to see, and printed in the public record of the legislature, newspapers, internet.  Who are the corporate, foundation, institute, or union backers of our lawmakers and their laws?  Going further we’d require that that those who promote laws, expecting to be the beneficiaries, are made to state their strategies for a bill’s projected outcomes.  These can then be publicly debated and independently investigated.  And the question must always be asked-- Is this bill really meant to be enacted for a practical change in law, or just an advertising gimmick meant to energize / enervate the body politic, while distracting from essential moral and political issues?

he U.S. Congress has the Congressional Research Service which does some study of issues & legislation, but on a limited inside need-to-know or request-of-information basis.  State legislatures don’t have any consistent system for such investigation, while batches of laws are being pressed through by powerful interests.  Many times, not even the lawmakers themselves know the details of the impact these laws will have—and the public is being left totally in the dark. Maybe our members of Congress and Statehouse should wear jumpsuits emblazoned with names of their sponsors, as NASCAR race drivers do.
This system of corporations and institutes getting together to write our laws through proxy legislators has got to change, or democracy is dead.  Our standard must be, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Jn  8:32   Knowing the truth, in its completeness, is what gives Christians, and all Americans, the ability to choose life and real active freedom.
Pilate's question, "What is truth?"
Illumination by Kathy Brahney
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More on American Legislative Exchange Council, better known as ALEC—One of the sources of pre-written state laws, on a national scale.

Monday, January 21, 2013


This from the “Beyond Vietnam” speech was made one year to day, before he was assassinated, April 4, 1968.  One can listen to it online.
He continued to speak against the three headed monster, war-poverty-racism.  This excerpt below is taken from a lecture series given by Dr. Martin Luther King, the last Nov.- Dec. he was alive, in 1967.  It was carried by Canada’s CBC as part of their yearly Massey lectures—and is still not well known in the USA.  He refers to the Vietnam War, but from then till now, there’s always been a”present war.”
Now it should be incandescently clear that no one who has any concern for the integrity and life of America today can ignore the present war. 
            As if the weight of such a commitment were not enough, another burden of responsibility was place upon me in 1964: I cannot forget that the Nobel Prize for Peace was also a commission—a commission to work harder than I had ever worked before for “the brotherhood of man.”  This is a calling which takes me beyond national allegiances, but even if it were not present, I would yet have to live with the meaning of my commitment to the ministry of Jesus Christ.  To me the relationship of this ministry to the making of peace is so obvious that I sometimes marvel at those who ask me why I am speaking against the war.  We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for the victims of our nation, and for those it calls enemy, for no document from human hands can make these humans any less our brothers and sisters.
{Full series of 5 lectures available in the book, "The Trumpet of Conscience" from local library or Amazon}
Not always celebrated--Martin Luther King Jr is arrested in Montgomery Alabama, 9-4-58--Photo by  Bettman-Corbis
He publicly confronted war as partner to racism and poverty, and therefore ever more courageously risked death, at the hands of those who’ve always believed more in war than the truth of the Bible.  And it appears that every year that passes since his assassination, the chickens of violent wars are coming home to roost.
Instead of compassion, racial justice, the Beloved Communtiy, and the Merciful Jesus, we now have a Remington .223 caliber Bushmaster AR-15 rifle, and/or Glock 9 mm hand guns--Dispassionate Death Dispatchers. What images does society adore; what messages are preached far & wide?  So what can go through your mind when you’re killing kids you’ve never before met, in rapid fire?
We like to think of ourselves as a Christian nation—but this is the real central premise, whether with assault rifle or nuclear bomb: I have the right to kill with mass precision to preserve my person, my self-interests.  Good Christians, meet the anti-Christ.  {If we really believed in Jesus Christ we’d have an Army of None, and no assault weapon glorification proliferation.}

One of Ande McCarthy's wax paper Christmas stars--Dec 2012
hrist has come to lead us in the opposite direction than this worldly wisdom wielder’s “self preservation is the prime directive.”  This tremendous gift, the way of Jesus, comes down to us from Old Testament to New.  “Thou shalt not kill,” is perfected in Jesus, “love your enemy, pray for them that persecute you.”  Our society with its specialization service industries, consumerism, weaponry, and community fragmented in a deluge of individualized mass-media, to experience this love of Jesus, needs to make a further clear commitment, “Thou shalt not pay for, or enable, others to do your killing.” 
April 15 Tax Day should become a day of discernment, a day to cut out the fatted calf of justified violence, and dedicate our first fruits to creative endeavors which nourish justice and peace.
Dr. Martin Luther King calls us to follow Jesus in the prayer and practice of nonviolent love of friend and enemy—not an easy teaching, but our true Gospel commission.  As Dr. King said,  We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering.  We will meet your physical force with soul force.  Do to us what you will, we will still love you.  We cannot in conscience obey your unjust laws. Non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as cooperation with good.

At March on Washington, August, 1963

 Illumination by Kathy Brahney

Monday, January 14, 2013


The autumn leaves of banking.  Failure of proper investment in our community.  Chase megabank tries to sell its plush  main office riverfront property in Port Huron, October 2010.  Then for a short time sub-lets a portion to an orthopedics office, now gone.  The County Jail to the south of it, and the YMCA seen to the north are now empty lots.

A recent business news item brought back to mind why my wife and I have recently gone through the hassle of moving our checking account from a local [JP Morgan] Chase bank, two blocks away, to Eastern Michigan Bank, closest branch downtown about two miles distant [but on our regular route to work and church].  The service at Chase on Garfield St. had always been personal and competent, but they are part of our very problematic national financial system.  The recent headlines read, Top JPMorgan [Chase] exec joins London Whale winning firm.”

Our local bank, for all its good personality and convenience, is part of a global dog-eat-dog financial industry crapshoot.  This particular article reports that the CEO, who’d been leader of the Chase division {proprietary trading desks} losing $6 billion in “credit derivative” bets in 2012, is now jumping ship.  He’s landing on deck of one of the very hedge funds that won big in the bets against our Chase bank money.  Mr. Jes Staley’s gain, our loss.  And Jamie Dimon, captain of the ship, still commands the Morgan Chase helm.
A little more history on recent financial industry permutations is helpful.  JP Morgan, one of the top speculator “investment banks,” had in 2000 swallowed up the Chase Manhattan retail & commercial banking national chain.  Using the Chase accounts as leverage, JP Morgan was enabled, by the Gramm-Leach-Bliley legislation of 1999, to vastly increase its speculative quest for bank profits.  This super-bank is the largest in the U.S. by assets at present, and has formed one of the largest hedge fund units in the U.S., and is the second largest public company in the world.  It’s become too big to fail, but already has, being party to the U.S. taxpayers $700 billion bailout of all the big banks in the financial speculative disasters of 2008.
What are individual account holders, wanting to act conservatively and responsibly, to do in the face of such gross fiscal abuse of the public trust?  Ultimately we should organize to require government regulation that would break up these financial mega-institutions, and regulate the smaller units so that they would operate for the public good.  The goal: real long term investment in the country, instead of micro-second speculative trading for the sole purpose of profit-taking.  The hi-tech money changers have turned our national banks into a den of thieves.  Yet to return to the ideas of small banking, noblesse oblige, and progressive taxation of the rich is a difficult task, an uphill battle.

ne can begin the work of getting financial institutions to take the interests of everyday people seriously by everyone beginning to move their money out of the big banks.  There is a website, Move Your Money, dedicated to this campaign.  Small local banks and credit unions that will use our money to foster local growth, and avoid risky mega-ventures, can be found.  Money placed there is more likely to work for our friends and neighbors. The more money withdrawn from the coffers of those who’d maximize their profits at the expense of everyone else, the better--a redirection of funds back to the basic needs of a working inventive America.

It takes some personal time and dedication to close out an account at your mega-bank, and open it at one more local, what with debit cards and automatic payments and deposits details.  But it’s a practical way to start changing the high-roller corporate bank culture.  Most local banks / credit unions are so good at being full service, that boycotting the big ones is no loss in convenience, and may help create a more rational equitable financial system in which America’s money is working more for all of us.

Returning violence for violence multiplies violence,
adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness:
only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


It is true that even small banks and credit unions, to varying degree, are dependent on larger financial systems for security and movement of funds, but that is a complex issue for further study.  Good resources that outline our problematic financial institutions are the books,

The Big Short, -- by Michael Lewis

13 Bankers,     -- by Simon Johnson

Enough,          -- by John Bogle

Available at your local library – a conservative investment.

An additional inditement of JP Morgan Chase Bank arrives today 1-15-13
Interesting presentation of Glass Steagall Act, replaced in 1999, as a hindrance to money's best interests--written in 2003 before the crash.

Sunday, January 6, 2013


Where did this come from, this tragedy of twenty six, teachers and kids, shot down in an elementary school?  All particular details are yet unknown, but the answer will include a simple theme: violence rules—its proper use is heroic {the deranged also think so}.  Even from my bucolic 1950’s middle class parochial-schooled childhood, I know some of the roots of this story.

We’re taught from the earliest age, Cowboys and Indians, war games around the neighborhood—the mythology of the violent hero.  Glamour, accomplishment, self-sacrifice of the fighter gone down in a hail of bullets, while inflicting ultimate damage on the enemy---at first just your boyhood friends, and you’ll all wake up the next day to play again.

 A darker superhero has emerged. “Forgive us our trespasses and we forgive those who trespass against us,” has been banished from this adaptation, misusing the words of the “Our Father.”
Later more serious violent video first-shooter rated M [“mature”] pre-training for possible real war.  Real damage still only expected to the enemy, blood spilled far away on the other side of the remote control screen, by avatar, drone, or other high-tech armament.  But the damage, inside of the violence recruit, is already being done, well before any enlistment.  Induced mental illness of dehumanization, desensitization corrupts first the soul of the victimizer, before it also bodily devastates the victim. 
One of the many new anti-heroes -- named "Deadpool"
Glorification of violent heroes through most of our TV and movies, the training for war mentality—Pope John Paul II termed it the “culture of violence.”  The nonviolent unconditional, merciful love of Jesus, along with the compassion of Buddha and the mercy of the Koran, is trashed daily in our media.  There is a small nod to random acts of kindness, and a giant adoration of those who readily kill for a righteous cause when called upon—organized violence.  After the vicarious immersion, and then training and experience of killing {by our armed services, or drug mafia, or survivalist militias, or NRA} we expect a return to normalcy and family values.
It’s time for gun owners and gun dis-owners to come together and declare that guns in the public domain should never be designed, owned or stockpiled for the purpose of killing people.  If one chooses to own a gun it is to shoot game—provide meat for the table.  The idea of the homeowner armed to the teeth against robbers, outlaws, abusive government agents, terrorists, minions of the police state, and/or whomever else might come to the door, only perpetuates the pervasive bad attitude that one must always be prepared to dominate and to kill.
Yet Jesus our supreme savior hero, servant-commander, exhorts us to “Love one another as I have loved you.”  And “love your enemy, pray for those that persecute you.”  His kingdom, household, and private property are all, not of this world.  So for our protection what do we need? "If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me.” Mt 16:24   Put away the sword, and the glorification of the sword.
his weekend we celebrate the coming of the Magi, their society’s 1%, with their precious gifts, to worship the lowly child savior, born in a stable.  A voluntary divestiture!  What message does that bring to our world’s 1%, and our entire country, the richest people in the history of our planet?

 “On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.” (Matthew 2:11; icon taken from:

Illumination by Kathy Brahney

For more on the new dark superhero of comics and video games --

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