Daily Archives: September 27, 2016

The Collapse that May not Matter

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

We are in Germany this week and I think I mentioned here that I wasn’t going to watch the first presidential debated between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. If I didn’t say it here I’m sure that I did on my Facebook or Twitter feeds, but whatever. 

Honestly I wasn’t planning on watching it but we were up late with friends following a great day at the Nuremberg Trial Museum in Nuremberg and at Oktoberfest in Munich. Now I know that many people were planning to drink heavily as they watched the debate, but I didn’t. In fact, by the time I got to my room I had drank enough and it was almost time for the debate to begin. So I turned on my television to BBC and watched it, and unlike what I predicted either here or on my social media outlets, there was a debate, the only problem was that only one candidate really showed up, and that person was not Donald Trump, it was Hillary Clinton. Trump spent about 20 minutes repeating GOP boilerplate rhetoric that I am not sure he even believes before he transformed himself before the eyes of the nation into a charicature of an evil circus clown. 

But not only did Trump not show up for the substantive issues he came across as an evil circus clown like you would see in some B grade horror movie that was so bad that it went directly to video. It was sad to watch, especially because I spent 32 years of my life as a Republican and worked for the Ford campaign before I could even vote. I never believed that the GOP could sink to this level and I’m sure that if they were alive today that both Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater would repudiate everything that Donald Trump advocates. Even Richard Nixon might disown Trump if he were still alive and I cannot think of any President in recent times more malignant than Tricky Dick. That’s how bad Trump is. All he lacked were the clown shoes, a Bozo nose, a copious amount of white makeup, and a machete to complete the picture. 

Sadly, I was not surprised. I have stated many times that I believe that Trump is both a narcissist and a sociopath who has no ability to empathize with anyone and whose only concern is his bottom line. He demonstrated those lack of character traits in abundance last night and today. Caught in lies about the Iraq War and his Birtherism, he continued to lie and say that he was being “unfairly treated.” Nailed by Clinton on his profiting from the housing collapse that cost so many Aericans their homes, businesses, and jobs he smugly said “that is business.” He demonstrated not a shred of feeling or empathy for many of the people who lost their homes, businesses, or jobs in the crash of 2008, and who now misguidedly support him. Confronted on his incredibly malicious treatment of women he didn’t have the decency to apologize, instead he continued to attack them. 

His performance in the debate was sad, it showed a lack of preparation and hubris that would be disastrous for the nation and the world if he is elected. It showed that for all of his bluster that he is an empty suit with no capacity for critical thinking, dealing with policy, or leading. It revealed that he cares not a wit for his supporters or for that matter the affairs of hard working people in general. He is a sociopath who has a complete lack of empathy. 

When I went to Dachau and Nuremberg this week I could not help to be reminded that evil exists. I know a lot about the Nazi system, and when I stood by the dock that housed the Nazi war criminals in Saal 600, the courtroom when the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials were held, I could not help to remember the words of Gustave Gilbert, an America Army psychologist who worked with the defendants in the major war crimes trials. Gilbert struggled to understand the nature of evil until he spent time with all of the defendants. Then it dawned on him. None of the defendants had tha capacity for empathy. It was the one think that they all had in common. Gilbert wrote after the trials that “evil is the absence of empathy.” 

Today we face a man who is the nominee of a major party who shows that lack of empathy on nearly a daily basis. The man frightens me. In a normal year he would not have gotten through the primaries, but this is not a normal year, these are not normal times, and many of his supporters are not normal people. As Trump said last year he “could murder someone and his supporters would not abandon him.” Sadly, despite everything that Trump has said and done, many of his supporters will support him unto the last into Trump’s “Gottdamerung” where at the minimum he shatters the GOP, and if he wins would likely destroy the country in order to save it. 

So anyway, from Munich, I am yours.

Have a great day and night. 


Padre Steve+

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The Importance of Now


Friends of Padre Steve’s World

Just a short thought while I am traveling in Germany. We live in very unsettled times and when that happens people are often filled with anxiety usually concerning things that they cannot control. I understand that completely, yet there is a time to live in the moment and savor friends, family, the love of a spouse, the warmth of a dog that adores you, a drink with friends, and the exploration of new places.

In our world people ask questions. As James Spader’s character in Boston Legal rightly observed:

“Some people see things as they are and ask why? Others see things as they never were and claim mad cow.” 

I am not an economist, I am a historian and I while I do understand some things about economic theory and history, and I am certainly no expert on markets. Like many I do get concerned when I see the stock markets around the world crashing, not so much for the rich people who are losing inflated stock value, for the rich almost without exception seem to do well in times of such turmoil, in fact they often do better because governments value their business expertise and depend on them to get countries out of the mess. But I worry more for the possible effects that this could have on small business owners, the middle class and the poor. I do get concerned for the middle class who have money invested in the markets through their 401k’s and retirement programs, as well as the poor who could lose their jobs if the companies that they work for tank.

There are so many variables; interest rates, oil prices, housing prices, and employment rates just to name a few. There are also the factors of what is happening in China and other big yet developing markets which can have ripple effects, or even tsunami-like affects across the globe depending how bad things get. There are so many other things going on in the world economy dealing with Greece the EU and the Euro, Russian rumblings in Eastern Europe and the Ukraine, the rise of ISIL and the potential threats to oil producing countries in the Middle East, things going on with vast refugee migrations as well as economic, political, and potential viral epidemics in African countries which frankly most Americans, Europeans and Asians until they reach our shores, and then my God there’s Donald Trump.

All of these things are so troubling on so many levels, and why shouldn’t they be. Not only are we looking at potential economic chaos, but there is climate change and its effects on endangered wildlife like the Virgin Island Screech Owl and the Fresno Kangaroo. Who knows what could be next?

So in light of this worldwide uncertainty I can recommend a number of things. Look at your investments, take a look at history because it always has lessons, or follow the immortal advice of John “Bluto” Blutarsky: “My advice to you is to start drinking heavily.”

But that being said, no matter how bad things are and how much worse they could get it is far more important to live in the moment with those that you love and care about in the now, not the future that we have so little influence over. As Danny Crane (William Shatner) told Alan Shore (James Spader) in Boston Legal:

“Let me tell you something. When you got polar ice caps melting and breaking off into big chunks and you got Osama still hiding in a cave, planning his next attack, when you got other rogue nations with nuclear arsenals, and not to mention some wack-job, home-grown that can cancel you at any second and when you got…mad cow, now gets high priority. And when you’re still on the balcony on a clear night, sipping scotch with your best friend, now is everything.”


Padre Steve+


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