By Charlie Johnston
As this decade began, every leftist leader in America – and most of the world – was pointing to Venezuela under the guidance of strongman Hugo Chavez, as the icon of what we should all aspire to become. They were downright fawning over how Chavez had shown how a “just” society could take root and prosper. Of course, as with every socialist dictatorship, it was not long before Chavez’ worker’s paradise became a horrifying, dystopian nightmare…people eating stray dogs and cats in a desperate effort to survive, parents selling their children into prostitution for the same reason. Rather than a worker’s paradise, Venezuela became a zombie apocalypse. None of the leftist celebrities I know of acknowledged how terribly wrong they were. Instead, they continued to espouse the glories of socialism while steering clear of the stark example of its latest victim, Venezuela – once, perhaps, the most prosperous country in Latin America. Being a leftist, I guess, means never having to say you’re sorry, no matter how many victims are brutally sacrificed to your good intentions.
Righteous revolutionary fervor has finally taken hold in Caracas, Venezuela. Hordes of socialism’s latest victims, who were promised paradise and instead given starvation, have risen up to overthrow their politically correct overlords and tormentors. The United States and 13 other countries have recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as acting president of the nation. Embattled president Nicolas Maduro, successor of the late Hugo Chavez, threatens retaliation against opponents and the diplomats of those nations which have recognized Guaido. Both Russia and China seek to prop up Maduro by warning the U.S. not to interfere. They are protecting their investment, having bankrolled Venezuela’s descent into socialist tyranny.
Perhaps a political stalemate, backed by muscle from Russia, China and Turkey, might tighten down the lid a little longer, but this boiler is getting ready to blow – not just in Venezuela, but around the world. You can only bully and batter people in the name of “fairness” for so long before the battered rise to their own defense. France, Germany and England are reeling under the assault of unlimited immigration, mostly from Muslim sharia-law types. Germany’s response is to post warnings to citizens where not to go if their own citizens want to avoid rape and muggings. England’s response is to have police prosecute Brits who complain while protecting Muslim grooming gangs that target young girls. France’s response is to raise taxes, particularly on gasoline, for “fairness” – brutalizing the lower classes who need gas to get to work.
Italy has taken a cue from many of the Eastern European nations who have just said, “No!” Most of the Eastern Europeans were under the yoke of totalitarian “fairness” regimes in living memory – and are not about to sign up for round two, whatever the European Union (EU) may think.
Just a few years ago, most of the elites thought that, by this time, all the nations of the west would have morphed into mere soviets (a soviet is a local subordinate governing body of a larger central authority) of a globalized governing caste. The elites are still pursuing this goal with increasingly shrieking resolve, while the peoples of the west are starting to refuse to bend the knee. It is astounding to me that the elite have recruited so many young people and suburbanites to advocate for their own oppression, but I don’t think it is going to be enough for them in the end, as low-information types figure out the governing elite is coming for them, too. But boy, we have a battle of massive proportions just up the road a piece. Unlike some of the more apocalyptic types out there, I do not believe this to be the beginning of the end. We have, however, reached the end of the beginning.
One of the wonderful things about my extensive travels throughout the US in the last decade is that, whenever I see a place in a movie or TV, or when I read about it in a novel, I have usually been there or very near…and can picture it and the people I met there in my mind. `The downside is that every time there is a tragedy, the same thing is true. Grief is far less abstract when you know many people in the place where tragedy strikes.
Five people were killed in a bank robbery at the SunTrust Bank in Sebring, Florida Tuesday. I gave a presentation there a few years back. My coordinator checked and told me none of those who were involved in setting up the presentation were among the victims, but it hit hard for me. There is no town I have been to that was more reminiscent of “Mayberry,” the small town where everyone knows and cares about each other. The families of the victims were housed in the hotel at which I stayed while I was there, a lovely inn between two lakes that still uses real keys. I never set foot in the bank where it happened, but I did use it twice as a convenient turn-around spot when I was out getting supplies.
Charlottesville, Virginia; San Fernando, California; Sutherland Springs, Texas…the wildfires north of Ventura, California and in Santa Rosa; flooding in Baton Rouge; Hurricane Harvey in Houston (which is practically my home away from home)…the ambush shooting of police in Baton Rouge a few years ago happened at a gas station where I got supplies several times, just a few blocks from where I made camp during my pilgrimage. I hate looking at the site of tragedy and recalling when I was at that spot. Yet tragedies seem to be multiplying dramatically throughout the world. How I long for the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart! Please pray for all those who suffer and grieve – and for all those who will suffer and grieve in this insane new world we have wrought.
I always knew the road to hell was paved with good intentions. I have been startled to find it lined with massive crowds cheering each other on to their own doom. New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo pushed for and attained a bill for blatant infanticide…no restriction allowed on abortion, to be available without question or counsel until the very second of birth. All New York cheered and lit up buildings in pink in celebration. Peter Singer, an Australian “moral philosopher and ethicist” who taught at Princeton University, argued strongly several years ago in favor of giving parents the “right” to execute their child anytime up to its first birthday. Give him a few months and he may finally have a taker for that proposition in New York. Lord help this poor world if, in the Storm, God requires that every drop of blood drawn by the abortionists’ knives be repaid with blood drawn by His terrible swift sword.
Cuomo identifies as “Catholic.” I am waiting to see what his Bishop does, if anything, about this. Two Bishops from other Dioceses have said he should be excommunicated. That is good – and safe. Only his Bishop or the Pope could actually excommunicate him, though. I am not optimistic. Active predatory homosexuality, infanticide…real palpable evils are rarely confronted directly by Church authorities these days. It seems officials only act with dispatch to discipline those who are orthodox, want to go to Latin Masses, oppose all the LBGTQRST# nonsense, or teenagers with the audacity to wear MAGA hats. The best of our leaders rarely protect us with any vigor from the cultural wolves on the prowl: the worst have defected over to the side of the wolves. Is it any wonder that attendance at World Youth Day, usually counted in the millions, has collapsed this year to only about 150,000? The Vatican hopes that will swell to 500,000 for the final Mass, which would bring it all the way up to 1/12th of the 6 million who attended World Youth Day in Australia just a decade ago. The new, relevant, Catholic Church of “do your own thing because everyone’s going to heaven, anyway, if there is such a thing, you superstitious rubes” is shedding adherents fast. When you don’t believe anything in particular, you’ll fall for everything in general.
There are some very good things going on in the pro-life movement. I don’t write as much as I would like about them because I am somewhat involved in a lot of the initiatives and I do not want to prematurely disclose confidential information I gain through my work. The Health and Human Services Department (HHS) has been busily working to get rid of contracts it has for baby body parts. If it completely sheds these contracts (almost all of which were mounted during the Obama administration) it would almost certainly put two or three more baby body parts companies out of business (Many would probably like to move to New York now to get better intact late-term “specimens”). You already know that the 5th Circuit ruled that Texas CAN refuse to provide Medicaid reimbursements to Planned Parenthood (PP) while appeal is pending – and Texas has done so. In the multitude of cases PP has against David Daleiden and his Center for Medical Progress (CMP), things are not going well for PP these days. It keeps trying to keep everything in darkness, but except for federal judge William Orrick, most of the other courts involved are not going along with them. An Oakland Federal Judge just ordered PP to turn over a sheath of documents on fetal tissue “donations” it was trying to keep confidential in the civil case. At issue is whether PP illegally profited from the sale of fetal tissue and actively tried to maximize profits. Meantime, in the criminal case brought by California’s Atty. General (who held his election victory party at a Planned Parenthood facility) the AG had tried to keep the videos in the preliminary hearing from being aired publicly, but the judge has said no (though he did not add that “Democracy dies in darkness” as PP and the California AG want and the Washington Post, curiously, does not object to despite it being their slogan in the Trump era).
I have been involved in the pro-life movement for four decades now, but the dirty little secret is that most of the supposed pro-life organizations are ineffective social clubs, riven with internal rivalries. They will sacrifice accomplishment for making splashy statements every time. Daleiden and I hit it off right from the start because he was determined to accomplish something – and built his case brick by brick, never sacrificing substance for a splashy headline. I want to take down PP and all the other baby death camps around the country, not bask in how pro-life I am – and that requires real work, fortitude, and effective strategy and tactics. There are four major pro-life groups in the country I completely respect and trust to work to end these atrocities. They are Daleiden’s CMP, Texas Right to Life (which is bigger and more effective than the national organization), the Susan B. Anthony List, and Lila Rose’s LiveAction. I am pleased to be in regular, direct contact with three of these four organizations – and they are moving the chains for our cause. They are not splashy, but they are moving with tidal power. It is great to work with pro-life organizations that are doing real and heavy lifting. I have added links to each of them under the “menu” dropdown section at the top right of this site. If you get a hankering to donate to a pro-life organization that actually accomplishes something, all of these are good. I know from personal experience.
Then we turn to the Covington kids – Catholic High School children who attended the March for Life. They were assaulted by a radical black group which pelted them with names so vicious and vulgar I will not repeat them here. The kids just kept their cool and started chanting school cheers. Unsatisfied with this, an American Indian activist named Nathan Philliips marched up into their faces while beating his drum. Some malefactor published a snippet that just showed Phillips beating his drum in the face of one of the teens, who kept smiling and not responding throughout.
It was off to the races. The establishment media immediately attacked and condemned the kids for disrespecting this “tribal elder” who was also a Vietnam Veteran, supposed to be a Recon Ranger. Some supposedly mainstream figures tweeted wishing for the kids death, that they be burned, and that their houses be destroyed. Some others doxxed them – giving out their real names and addresses to facilitate violence against them. After all, the kids were Catholic, they were pro-life, and many were wearing MAGA hats, so they had to be evil personified. Then the rest of the story came out with the full video of the events.
The kids were victimized by two radical groups, the Black Hebrew Israelites, which shouted racial and vulgar taunts at the kids for over an hour – while the kids did NOT respond in kind, just took it and sang school chants. I put up the full hour and 45 minute video not because I think you should watch it, but lest you doubt me you can see for yourself. The American Indian, Nathan Phillips, was in the Marines during the Vietnam era, but did not serve overseas. He was not a recon ranger, but a refrigerator mechanic (or as Kurt Schlichter hilariously calls him, a “Frigidairecon Ranger.”) He never received a single promotion during his four years, went AWOL three times, and received a general discharge. He later tried to sacrilegiously disrupt and turn a Catholic Mass into chaos. The simple truth is that these Catholic teens handled themselves with remarkable grace and forbearance throughout this ugly attack on them. The establishment media’s narrative started collapsing within hours of its release. Many apologized, many more just doubled down. Apparently if you are Catholic, pro-life, or a Trump supporter, you deserve it. One low-life tried to justify it all by comparing a MAGA hat to a swastika. Really?! Donald Trump is like Adolf Hitler?! To cut taxes, regulations, support border security, revoke imbalanced trade agreements is just like vivisecting most of the countries of Europe and murdering more than 10 million Jews, Gypsies, Catholic Priests, Russians, Poles, and disabled people, men women and children in cold blood?! are morally equivalent to the left?!
Combine this with Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), and Diane Feinstein (D-CA) objecting to federal nominees because they are Catholic, in defiance of the Constitution’s command that there shall be no religious test imposed to hold office. Then combine it with the war state and federal governments are waging against all people of faith who actually live it – punishing and bankrupting small businesses that gladly serve all people, but refuse to participate in ceremonies that violate their religious beliefs. You no longer have mere persecution against Catholics, Jews and other Christians. This is the first stage of pogroms against all people of Judeo-Christian faith. I can understand it with Harris and Hirono: they have become the very image of fascist tyrants – and fascist tyrants always target religion for destruction or corruption, for it is ever the greatest danger to their tyrannical rule. I am, however, a little surprised at Diane Feinstein, a Jew. Some of her ancestors have been on the receiving end of vicious pogroms. I would have thought she would have been a bit more hesitant about joining one herself. Perhaps like Andrew Cuomo, she doesn’t actually practice her faith, but merely uses it as a prop to collect the votes that enable her real faith – amassing raw power to force everyone to do what she says.
What was really hideous was how many conservatives immediately jumped on the bandwagon of hate against these kids. Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard. I know, I know, calling him a conservative is a stretch these days. But the National Review jumped in, as did the March for Life to condemn the kids. Most (but not all) have apologized. Worst of all, the kids’ Bishop, Roger Joseph Foys, was Johnny-on-the-spot to condemn the kids and threaten them with expulsion. When the narrative fell apart, the Bishop said they would conduct an investigation (watching the stinking video is all the investigation needed to know that these were Catholic kids who were assaulted and needed their leaders to have their backs, not toss them to the wolves). Bishop Foys has since issued an apology – but it does not satisfy me. In it, he says that the original statement of condemnation was “…made with good will based on the information we had.” Hogwash. The information was available, but the Chancery was too eager to toss the kids to the media wolves to take the time to see what the facts were before issuing a blanket condemnation. Even after the facts became known, it took almost a week for the Bishop to issue this mealy-mouthed apology that took no responsibility for getting the facts before firing at people he is supposed to guide and defend. Incredibly, the Bishop complains that he was bullied and pressured into bullying the kids. He has taught these kids (and a lot of other Catholics) that if an ugly charge is made, too many of our leaders will jump to please the mob before considering real evidence of whether the Catholics involved need correction or support. And if they get it wrong, they will grudgingly apologize while spending most of their time explaining why their dereliction of sacred duty is not really their fault. And so, already rocked by scandal, credibility in tatters, another Bishop gives Catholics more reason to abandon confidence in their leaders – and their Church.
I know that we ultimately have to oust those clerics who are making war on the faith and the faithful. But for the great majority of the Bishops who actually believe, but are too timid to live their sacred duty to defend the faith and the faithful, please step up to the plate or leave. You have sat too long for any good you have been doing here lately.
For those clerics who DID wait to determine the facts and then spoke full-throatedly in defense of these Catholic kids, I thank you. As a friend of mine sometimes says, “May your tribe increase!” (And that right soon.)
So ends Part I of this piece…you might say this is the end of the beginning of the piece. It is so long and, in many ways, I think, foundational, that I will give the rest to you the day after tomorrow. We have a tough year ahead, maybe several tough years. It is time to throw off childish things, to gird our loins and to make our stand. Time to “Joan up!” as we often say here. You cannot make anyone else be faithful, but you can be faithful yourself. Living it full-throatedly and well, both with charity and resolve, will inspire others to do the same.
Right now, we are in a situation similar to that depicted in Mel Gibson’s movie, Braveheart. (In this analogy, I speak of the movie’s version of events, not the actual history. It is not that Gibson did violence to the actual history; rather, our knowledge of the actual history is very sketchy. Gibson took what was actually known and then filled in a whole lot of blanks. Probably ¾ of the movie is blanks filled in by what should have happened, when we aren’t sure what actually happened.) Our hierarchy is like the Scottish nobles; filled with many deeply corrupt self-seekers, with most of the actually noble dominated by the corrupted. Even Robert the Bruce, who Wallace followed, betrayed him badly once. Wallace could not become king, but he could be true to his call to be faithful to the people of Scotland. In doing so to his death, he somehow filled Robert the Bruce and many other nobles with real nobility – the determination to serve their people rather than exploit them as fodder for their own narrow ambitions.
Part of our call is to support our noble Bishops – and to help our timid Bishops recollect that, above all things, they are Apostles of the Living Christ, successors in an unbroken line from those first Apostles. They are not primarily administrators, orators, fundraisers, politicians, or even theologians (though each of those things can be helpful in living their call.) When any of those things become ends rather than means to live that call, it perverts their way.