The Thoughts and Musings of Tom Allain

If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn't help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we've got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don't want to do it

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(b.1964)

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Archive for April, 2016

The Election Chronicles, Volume 29: Don, If You Want To Run the Country, Here Are the Things You Need to Know

Sunday, April 17th, 2016

Dear Don:

I’m writing you this letter in the hopes that you will learn. I write sincerely hoping you will read this in humility. The Presidency requires some basic understanding of how our nation runs and it’s clear that you’re behind the curve.

Last June you announced your intent to run for President as a Republican even though your party affiliation is questionable. I wrote about this here but let’s face it: Your credibility as a Republican is suspect at best.

Given that, it’s not surprising that your complaining of the process of choosing a candidate is unfounded.

You see, you’re complaint boils down to this: The process of choosing a nominee cheats you and your supporters.

But it really doesn’t. The process is complicated and Byzantine but it’s ultimately intended to put forth a candidate who has the best chance to win the general election.

But more to the point, your remarks point to your ongoing refusal to pay attention to the process of how candidates are chosen. You complain that “this is not a democracy.”

In fairness, you’re right: we are not a democracy. We’re a republic. I know this is complicated, but I’ll make it as easy as I can.

In a democracy voters make all the decisions: all legislation is voted on by all the voters. A republic, on the other hand, elects people (members of congress) who represent us, and they vote on legislation. This makes sense on a few levels. Even back in the 1700s it would have been arduous for every voter to vote on every piece of legislation. But it would be impossible now. Since January of 2015 the 114th Congress has passed 143 laws (out of 9,095 proposed).

But that’s not the only reason. In 1787 and 1788, James Madison, John Jay, and Alexander Hamilton wrote a series of essays we now call the Federalist Papers. They were written under the pen name “Publius.”

The Federalist Paper, Number 10 was written by James Madison and he spoke to this issue. He wrote about the danger of factions and Don, I think you should look closely at this.

James was afraid that a faction would gain enough votes to push this new nation into a bad direction; he recognized that, even before social media, we could get caught up in this “dangerous vice.” He felt that electing representatives (congress) would prevent this.

Don, I’m writing this because you clearly haven’t done your homework on how our nation runs. This has become evident in the last few days when you’ve argued that the delegate selection is rigged.

But, and I say this with all due respect, it isn’t rigged. All political parties make their own rules on how they choose their nominee. When it comes to the Republican Party everyone else running has done their homework and you haven’t. Now that this has been found out, you can’t blame the teacher, you can’t blame the principal, and you can’t blame the school board. You have only yourself to blame.

I pray you don’t become our next President, but if you do, you need to do your homework. You’ll be called to negotiate complex multinational treaties. You’ll be called to meet with other world leaders who have done their homework who will expect that you’ll be able speak with some intelligence and competence. And you’ll be called to make hard decisions where there just isn’t time to “bring you up to speed.”

I know this isn’t easy for you to hear, but you need to stop being lazy. You’ve run your campaign without doing the hard work of learning how to be President. You’ve filled halls with people who like you and you’ve made certain that nobody with hard questions gets anywhere near you. Of the few times where you’ve actually taken questions you haven’t done well (do you really believe that women who have abortions need to be punished?).

We choose a President every four years and we do so with great expectations. We expect a President who will keep us safe but we also want more. We expect a President who has a vision of who we are and where we are going. We don’t want a President who speaks to our worst fears and governs by exclusion.

Don, get to work.

Sincerely,

Tom

The Election Chronicles, Volume 28: According to His Measure, I’m More Successful Than Donald Trump

Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

Donald Trump’s campaign makes several claims. I’ve been fascinated by one: Vote For Me Because I’m Rich. He has essentially said that he can be successful as President because he’s been smart enough to get rich.

But here’s where it gets hard. Don claims to be worth $10 billion but there’s really no way to verify that. Some believe his net worth is half that.

But that’s OK. Let’s take him at his word and believe him when he says he is worth $10 billion.

Many times during his campaign he’s bragged that he started his career with a “small loan” of $1 million from his father. But he won’t tell anyone when he got the loan or how long it took him to pay it back.

In any case, let’s accept the fact that he got the loan shortly after he graduated from college in 1968. Assuming his math and timeline, he has turned $1 million in 1968 to $10 billion in 2016. That’s a gain of 10,000%. That’s impressive.

But let me tell my own story. I’m much younger than Don, and I graduated from Woodbridge Senior High School in 1978. My parents gifted me with an electric razor that was probably worth $35.00

Now don’t think I was cheated. My father was weary of my using his razor and gave me one of my own. And this was long before high school graduations commanded trips to Europe, SUV’s or other lavish gifts. Most of my classmates received gifts of a similar nature and none of us felt cheated.

Fast forward to now. In the 38 years since my graduation I’ve done many things, but now my wife and I are worth about $2 million. This comes from the value of our house, our cars, and the money we’ve saved for retirement. I won’t bore you with the details, but here’s my point:

Donald has increased his value by 10,000%. I’ve increased mine by 57,000%.

Full disclosure: I’ve been blessed. Much of my education at George Mason University, Boston College, St. Patrick’s Seminary, and Catholic University were paid for by my parents, the Stigmatine Fathers, and the Paulist Fathers.

But unlike Donald I’ve never declared bankruptcy. He claims he has never filed for “personal” bankruptcy but his companies have filed four times.

By Donald’s measure, I’m more successful than he is.