By Charlie Johnston
The Russian Collusion Hoax is dead. A very hostile and partisan team of prosecutors was unable to find anything they were willing to put their necks on the line for in formal accusations against Pres. Donald Trump. Even so, Congressional Democrats and the establishment media are determined to play political alchemists, hoping to turn the lead of the Mueller Report into electoral gold. As I write this, I think House Democrats are ordering that Atty. Gen. William Barr stand on one leg and cluck like a chicken or they will demand his resignation. It has gotten that absurd.
It is not just because they are obsessively delusional that Democrats and the establishment media are determined to resurrect this dead horse in some new iteration. They are trying to provoke a fight. Quite bluntly, after a nearly three-year snipe hunt for which there was never any evidence or basis, the aggressors are deeply fearful that now the hunt turns on them – and there is profound evidence and basis that many top Democratic and some Republican officials committed desperately serious crimes that will land them substantial prison terms. They have decided that the best defense is to try to sow chaos in order to obscure and distract the general public from the men behind the curtain who orchestrated this attempted coup. That is why you have all the chaotic Congressional hearings and breathless news shows trying frantically to sound the refrain, “Orange Man Bad.”
The reality is the left knowingly attempted a coup. Though Trump took office as president, it was the Obama bureaucracy that has continued to hold sway over most of the levers of government at the federal level. Their vigorous effort to bring down the lawful government failed badly, up to this point, so now they are trying to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. If they don’t, prison looms for many, and the destruction of their dreams of authoritarian power over the folksies of the country looms for all the left.
At this stage, the left is signaling that they will have civil war rather than stand down from their criminally hostile aggression. The best-case scenario is that they are frantically trying to sow chaos to give them bargaining power to negotiate a stand-down that will not call any of their leaders to account. If that were to happen (it won’t) it would not avoid war but only delay it – and only for a very short time, for it would prove to the left that normal people no longer have the will to hold criminals in politics – even treasonous coup-plotters – to account. Then there will never be an end to such aggression until the people of the nation are forced to stand forth and stop it by force. This month is likely to be dispositive. Either the left will stand down and accept reality – or we will degenerate into a terrible strife of war with those who were once our brothers. Gird your loins.
All the conservative media wrote that the California Supreme Court’s halting of the criminal prosecution of David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt until it could review the issues in the case, was a victory for pro-lifers. That is a reasonable interpretation, but an uninformed and, ultimately, incorrect one. The order to halt came on Good Friday, April 19, at about half-past three o’clock Pacific Time.
For the three weeks before Easter, depositions in the criminal case had been being taken by both sides. These depositions are taped and under oath. Without going into detail of what was said in the depositions, Daleiden had been telling me as it unfolded that it was an unmitigated disaster for Planned Parenthood (PP) and their business partners. The witnesses for PP were confirming, under oath, all the criminal behavior the Center for Medical Progress (CMP – Daleiden’s umbrella organization) had alleged – and more. Further, several of PP’s witnesses had previously testified before Congressional Committees – and some material in the depositions contradicted what they had said there. That means that they perjured themselves either before Congress or in their depositions.
It struck me that job one for PP would now be to keep these taped depositions out of the public record. The formal preliminary hearing was scheduled to begin on Monday, April 22. Once it began, it would be near impossible to keep these taped depositions out of the public record – and that would likely be the end of PP’s case and the beginning of federal criminal prosecution of PP. All through Holy Week, I was telling Daleiden I thought that the California legal system was going to come up with some surprise that would protect PP’s now badly exposed flanks. Sure enough, at about 3:30 on Good Friday, the proceedings were halted indefinitely by the California Supreme Court.
The reality is that, so long as the California legal system thought it could get Daleiden and Merritt, everything was full speed ahead. When it became clear that this was almost certainly going to be PP’s Waterloo, then the California Supreme Court put an indefinite halt to all state proceedings. This was not to finally give fairness to Daleiden and Merritt, but to protect PP and its allies.
It may not work out, though. The US Dept. of Justice has reportedly been quietly investigating PP and some of its allies. Certainly both Senate and House Committees have held investigative hearings. Either the Justice Dept. or the Senate Judiciary Committee (or both) could subpoena the depositions. If they do, it won’t be the end of the atrocity of abortion in this land, but it will be the beginning of the end of PP and many of its allies.
I have always been terrified of “groupthink.” It is not just that I believe it leads you into some dangerous ruts and logical loops. Rather, I believe that opposition between honorable opponents creates a sort of dynamic tension that produces better results than if any one entity just got its way.
When I was doing politics I recognized I was primarily an ideologue. Even so, I often told my allies how important the contributions of establishment types were. Ideologues focus on issues, establishment types focus on the mechanism of getting legislation passed. I noted that if everyone were like me, nothing would ever get done because we ideologues all tend to be stubborn. If everyone was like the establishment, lots would get done but it would all be bland and meaningless. One of the compliments I valued most came from a member of a Republican Governor’s staff. We were good friends and working intensely on a particular project. When we broke for lunch he told me, with a teasing grin, “You know, Charlie, I have never been able to figure out whether you are the most pragmatic ideologue I have ever met or whether you are the most ideological pragmatist.” I chuckled and said that some mysteries, like the pyramids, will never be completely solved.
I first started contemplating this seriously when I was in grade school, fascinated by Abraham Lincoln and the prelude to the Civil War. I was shocked by the radical abolitionist John Brown’s use of murder, plain and simple, to advance his goals. In fact, his terrible raid set back the abolitionist cause. And yet, the radical nature of some of the abolitionists brought pressure to bear on Lincoln and others to stay steady for the cause – even though radical abolitionism could never have ended slavery, itself. Meantime, the concrete achievements Lincoln was slowly accomplishing restrained the radicals from blowing up their own cause. It was an intense and intensely divided time. I often think that Lincoln’s uniquely complex personality was a gift to all of us from God, for almost no other personality could have guided us safely through those shoals to peace on the other side. But Lincoln’s could not have, either, without the dynamic tension the Radical Republicans to the right of him and the loyal Democrats to the left of him provided.
If a car had a gas pedal and no brakes, it would get started easily enough only to end in a crash. If it had brakes and no gas pedal, it would never crash – but it would never get started either. Let us give thanks for the honorable people who serve as gas pedals to our inertia or as brakes to our irrational exuberance. God has a plan. It includes all people of good will. The problem in modern society is not that there is too much division, but that there is not enough honorable division. Make sure not to lump in those who honorably disagree with you with those who are just destructive, shrieking hysterics.
Everybody in Catholic circles is talking about the Open Letter accusing Pope Francis of heresy, signed by some prominent scholars and clergy. Various factions seek to have his election declared invalid, his pronouncements declared heretical, or to assert that everything he does is altogether right and true, a secret plan that will ultimately act to the benefit of the Church and the faith.
While it is loud and divisive, I think there is a very healthy dynamic tension going on among the various groups of partisans. You all know that I accept the Papal election that chose Francis to be valid, even as I think Pope Francis has failed badly to defend the faith, spending way too much time on political matters outside the scope of his authority while speaking offensively in non-magisterial settings and ambiguously in formal such settings. He promotes known abusers and those who openly oppose the faith while suppressing those who hold fast to Scripture and the Magisterium. I am clearly not a fan of Pope Francis.
While I agree with all who say the Holy Spirit inspires those who elect a Pope, I firmly disagree with those who argue that the Holy Spirit actually chooses the Pope. This would be to deny the free will of the Cardinal electors. Some have thought that means I think most of the Cardinal electors, this last time, ignored the inspirations of the Holy Spirit. Honestly, I don’t believe that, either. Actually, I think the Holy Spirit was largely silent at this last election.
God writes straight with crooked lines. If we had had a holy Pope dedicated to the truth of Scripture and the Magisterium once more, like St. John Paul or Benedict XVI, all the bad actors would have remained carefully hidden and the cancer would continue to grow silently at the heart of our Church. Having a Pope who seems to share the bad actors’ priorities has drawn all those actors out into the open. We know who they are – and this was accomplished without violating anyone’s free will. The experiment with modernity has left the Church’s moral authority in tatters. For all the fur and feathers being torn inside, no one outside the Catholic Church much cares what the Church has to say about anything these days. It is no longer regarded as a serious moral guide by people or institutions outside the Church – just a deeply corrupt refuge for scoundrels and knaves. That was, most emphatically, not the case under the previous few Popes. This time I think it pleased God to reveal to us how deep the rot has gone – not for our destruction – but that we might see clearly to excise the rot.
Whether for good or ill, I regard Pope Francis as a genuine rarity – a “lame duck Pope.” The Church’s moral capital has been largely squandered. I don’t pay attention much to what he says at all these days…and I won’t unless he speaks directly and formally on a matter that affects the fundamentals of the faith. If he says something shocking or offensive, well, so what else is new? If he says something encouraging or orthodox, that aggravates me all the more, for it is almost always prelude to him doing something deeply challenging – such as naming someone from the Wuehrl-McCarrick axis to a high position of authority. God has already accomplished much through this Pope (even if most of it has been the revelation of ongoing scandal). I have no enthusiasm for attempting to depose him. While his actions are subject to accountability by the Bishops, I do believe his person is accountable only to God. So he will remain until he has accomplished all (whether negative or positive) intended by God. But he will not be the last Pope.
Some argue that he has stacked the College of Cardinals with men in his own image, naming a lot of unworthy second-raters in hopes of extending his modernist revolution beyond his tenure. I won’t argue with that – but I expect the orthodox Cardinals will be a bit more forceful in the next conclave than they were in the last. Even the second-raters are going to have to contemplate: do they really want to extend the irrelevance in the world and the internal degeneracy and division this period has wrought? I trust God knows what he is doing – and I appreciate, even when I disagree with, those who are calling the Vatican’s policies to account.
At the end of this era – and it will end – each of us will have to face whether we lived fidelity to Scripture and the Magisterium in our daily lives or not. Every generation faces its challenges of faith. This is ours. I will neither join those who want to declare Francis invalid, depose him, or argue that he is entirely right in all he does. I pray that he will live in harmony with God’s call before he dies, but I will just stick to the next right step under God in my daily life, knowing that I will have to account to God for all the choices I make.
Late this month I will head out to visit areas and give some presentations. I will be on the road from late May until late July – all in areas east and south of Colorado. I will recuperate a little and then head back out west and south beginning in mid-September.
In presentations, I will speak of “A Pilgrim’s Lessons for the Pilgrimage Before Us.” As has been standard, I will talk for about an hour and then engage questions and conversation after that. Every place I go, I will spend a couple of days, so I can visit more closely with those who organize my visits and perhaps visit a few places of interests such as local religious orders, pregnancy crisis centers, or any place that is doing good work. I want to focus in our private meetings on some basic plans for upholding each other, communicating, and defending good people of faith if it gets seriously ugly – as it very well might.
If you want to host a presentation, contact my assistant, Mary Lapchak, at email@example.com. In some ways, scheduling will be a bit trickier this time. Some friends have provided a car for me to travel with instead of flying. I like that a lot. I can carry some things that are essential. On the other hand, putting together the schedule will be more like a jigsaw in determining the route.
To host a visit, you need to provide a $350 stipend for me while I am there and provide housing. If it is at a home, I need good internet access and a period of privacy each day. (I often take a nap – and almost always take a nap before a presentation). A hotel is fine, just keep it a basic or mid-level. I really don’t like super luxury hotels as I find them pretentious and usually inconvenient. (If I get up in the middle of the night and want a cup of coffee, I like there to be a machine that does not demand $15 from me for the privilege.) Comfort Inns, Ramadas, Best Westerns and such are very comfortable to me. The only thing I ask is NO Motel 6. I like homey places, and their sterile minimalist rooms have an institutional feel that annoys me – I never sleep well there.
We have gotten off to a good start. Just check in with Mary at firstname.lastname@example.org, then work out the details with her. I look forward to seeing you all. Together, we will see these times through and a resurrection of real Christian solidarity and communion with each other.