Sunday, January 31, 2016

4th Sunday of Ordinary Time: Will We Reject Jesus?

In the first reading, we read of Jeremiah recalling what God told him. God knew him before he was born. This verse is popular in the pro-life movement. God knows us before we were even conceived. This means that He has planned us (Psalm 139:13). He from all eternity thought of you and me and allowed us to be (John 1:3). Life is sacred. From conception to natural death, all life is sacred an d must be protected.  This first readings should remind us that God has a plan for each of us (Isaiah 49:1,5, Jeremiah 29:11).

Our existence is not a mistake or simply a consequence of reproductive acts between a male and a female.  There is something much more deeper than meiosis and mitosis taking place as the fertilized egg develops. Like with Jeremiah, God tells us to "gird" the loins or 'man up/woman-up.' We must do what He asks of us and not let let this world crush us.  The world will hate us because of God, but we must not give up (John 15:18). Proudly we must sing of God's salvation as today's Psalm tells us.

It is in the Lord where we take refuge.  He will deliver us and never let us be put to shame though some will mock us (Psalm 50:15, Psalm 50:15). The Lord is indeed our rock and stronghold (Psalm 78:35). He will rescue us from the wicked. Our lives belong to God. We depend on Him for our existence.  Our lives must proclaim the salvation and joy of the Lord.  We do this by using the gifts God gives us as the second reading tells us.

God gives us gifts.  Not everyone gets the same gifts (1 Peter 4:10).  However, even if we have these gifts or all of them but have no love, then the gifts mean nothing.  St. Paul tells us,

"If I speak in human and angelic tongues,but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy, and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing."  

How true are these words! If I can speak all the languages on Earth, know all the theology, science etc in the world, know all the Bible, Catechism, Church's teachings by heart etc, but do not have love, then all that knowledge, all that ability means zero, nada, zilch.  It is love that gives substance to these gifts because God is love (1 John 4:8).  In this year of Mercy, this second reading should speak to us much more. Many times we see clergy, religious and lay with all kinds of gifts who have foul personalities. They may be judgmental, rude, arrogant and nasty; this is not Christianity.  This is not what God wants. If love is not present; if mercy is not present, then they are wasting their time. These people are like clashing cymbals that make noise but have no substance.

Finally in the Gospel, we continue from last week's Gospel. Jesus reveals that Isaiah was referring to Himself. The Jews present took issue with this and asked, "Isn't this the son of Joseph?"  Jesus then reminds them that God sent Elijah and others to those who were poor and the pariahs of the time (1 Kings 17:7-16). He also reminds them that a prophet is not welcomed in his own land. Sometimes we try hard to work in a parish and get no support. This has happened to me many times.  Even online, there are some Catholics who do not support me and try to stifle my evangelization. They see it as a 'competition' of sorts. We as prophets will not always be welcomed even among our own.  However, we must not let this crush us as we read in the first reading. We must march on forward preaching the Gospel of love and mercy; reminding the world that God is Father before He is judge (Matthew 9:13).  Not everyone will take a liking to this.

Like Jesus, you will be attacked and possibly driven away.  The people wanted to hurl Jesus down a hill. The message of Christ and mercy is not easy to take for some. Today we have some who attack Pope Francis seeing him with suspicion as he was reminds us what the washing of the feet rite on Holy Thursday is all about. It is not a moment to take in nostalgia of the past or to remind ourselves that priests are men (Mark 7:13, Colossians 2:8).  The washing of the feet is a sign of service, love, mercy and inclusion. Jesus washed the feet of those who walked the world, got dirty but decided to come to Jesus for forgiveness.

Will we reject Jesus and try to toss Jesus over the cliff who is found in the poor, in men, women, children; the elderly, the gay, the Muslim, Jew etc?  Let us not reject Jesus and serve Him in others. Let us spread the Gospel with love, not fanaticism or legalism. Let us sing the song of salvation and remind the world that Jesus came for everyone and calls everyone back home in His heart.  May Jesus Christ be praised.


Friday, January 29, 2016

Reporters Who Exposed Planned Parenthood's Fetal Parts Business Indicted

I am sure you have heard the saying, "payback is a b....."  Well, this seems to be the case now with David Daleiden and his fellow reporter who were both indicted on felony charges and are facing up to 20 years in prison. Their crime?  Secretly recording Planned Parenthood employees speaking about selling fetal tissue, creating false ID, fake company and buying fetal tissue.  The Pro-Life community is up at arms over this.  Moreover, the prosecutor involved is on the board of Planned Parenthood. Requests for her and her office to recuse themselves from the case went on deaf ears.  It seems clear that the charges are in retaliation to the attention given to Planned Parenthood over the videos and the Congressional hearings that followed.

Lawyer for Daleiden describes the charges without substance.  They are most likely an attempt to intimidate David and the Pro-Life movement.  It is scary to think that investigative reporting may become illegal if these charges go through. The charges are an attack against journalism.  In many instances, this sort of investigative journalism was used to discover scams and other problems in government and private companies.  Moreover, what is troubling is that Planned Parenthood got scott free from their illegal sale of fetal tissue. Their supporters claim that the organization did nothing wrong, but this prosecutor claims David bought fetal tissue, which is illegal.  The question is: If Planned Parenthood sold no tissue, then how did David buy it from them?

We need to pay close attention to this case as it affects us in many ways, not just in the pro-life movement.  Throughout the nation, minorities have complained that prosecutors have let cops free after hard evidence has been presented that they did not follow proper procedure and a life was taken. If prosecutors can easily set up a case in favor of their bias, then justice cannot exist.

Here are some tweets on the issue:


Thursday, January 28, 2016

Fox News - 7th #GopDebate

The 7th GOP debate just took place with someone missing, Donald Trump.  Trump voiced his concerns that Megyn Kelly was a moderator and refused to participate in the debate unless FOX News removed her. They did not, so he did his own event to raise money for veterans. It seems that this action hurt the debate as only 12 million viewed it as opposed to 25 million when Trump was on the debate in August of 2015.

The undercard debate had a new addition, Jim Gilmore. He along with Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee and Carly Fiorina debated. Each repeated their positions on a variety of topics and did not make any new impacts on popularity.  In the main event, Rubio did pretty well along with Rand Paul.  Ted Cruz was attacked by several politicians on his 'amnesty descrepancies.' A video was even played by the moderators showing Cruz's contradictions. Ironically, though not present, Trump was soaring in popularity on social media. He 'won' the debate in that sense.


'Atheism Is Stupid' Book Discount Coupon Code

St. Thomas Aquinas wrote his famous Quinque Viae offering arguments for the existence of God. While many of the points he made are dated and have been addressed by the philosophers and scientists of today, they are still great arguments to build new ones from which reflect today's knowledge.

My book, 'Atheism Is Stupid' uses science, philosophy, theology, history and other academic sources in order to refute many of the commonly used arguments in favor of atheism.  This book will empower theists and will bring atheists to question atheism.  Make no mistake, this book is not an 'apologetics' book using the Bible to defend the Bible.  This book is an academic work based on a popular blog series and my own life experience with atheism as an atheist.

It even has some atheists in panic mode. They have rushed to post fake reviews on Amazon in order to discourage avid readers from purchasing the book and have even falsely reported genuine reviews.

In honor of Aquinas, I will be offering a discount.  
You can order the book at:

enter the code S9QSL9XP to take $5.00 off the list price. 

The discount code will work until 11:59 PM EST on the Presentation of the Lord February 2, 2016.  So you have six days to get the book at the discounted price!  

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Abe Vigoda Dead At 94

Abe Vigoda, known for his 'sad face' and role of 'The Godfather' as 'Salvatore Tessio' as well as 'Detective Phil Fish' on the sitcom 'Barney Miller' has passed away at the age of 94. He died in his sleep in Woodland Park, New Jersey at the home of his daughter Carol Vigoda Fuchs. He was of Russian-Jewish descent.

Vigoda was a broad way actor who rose to fame. His role on 'The Godfather' was a boost. He played the role of 'Tessio' who was a childhood friend of 'Vito Corleone.' The character would later be 'sent to swim with the fishes' after it is learned that he betrayed the 'Corleone' family in favor of the 'Barzini' family after 'Vito Corleone' chose his son 'Michael' played by Al Pacino to head the 'family business' instead of 'Tessio.' After the movie, he starred in the comedy 'Barney Miller' until 1982 when he left the show. Shortly afterwards, 'People Magazine' made a mistake when it reported that he had died.

On his website,, Vigoda kept running with the mistake announcing his death in 1982 with a meme with two X's on his eyes.  May he rest in peace.


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Priest Slapping Children

There is a video being posted on Facebook and other social media which shows what looks like a Catholic priest in green ordinary time vestments slapping kids upside the head, pulling their hair and even kicking them.  The video is extremely disturbing and even has the 'Friendly Atheist' scratching his head.

Before Vatican II, the rite of Confirmation was administered with a slight tap on the face of the confirmandi. However, this was abolished.  What this priest is doing in this video is disgusting.  This is not a rite of the Catholic Church!  It is child abuse.  If anyone recognizes this priest (if he really is a Catholic priest), please contact the police and the local bishop.  This man needs to be arrested for child abuse and endangering the welfare of a child.  He is clearly mentally ill.


Monday, January 25, 2016

Blizzard 2016 Jonas

A monster blizzard named 'Jonas' by weather authorities hit the north east on Saturday bringing in record snow fall in many areas. New York City had about 27 inches recorded. The storm shut down the city and brought worry to many in New Jersey who live near the shore.

After the storm, many residents of New York and New Jersey complained of the poor response by the city.  Manhattan, particularly the wealthy areas, was plowed instantly.  However, other boroughs, especially in areas where the poor live did not see one plow until today. Moreover, DiBlasio decided to keep schools open despite little MTA service and un-plowed streets making it impossible to drive and even park.

Residents took to the media and social media to voice their complaints by posting photos and video. The poor performance by the administration of New York City comes at a time where the City Council voted to increase their salary and that of the mayor by 40% which is an injustice in my opinion. They do not deserve an increase period.

Neil Degrasse Tyson vs 'bOb' - Flat Earth Rap Battle

Here is an interesting post.  Puerto Rican and African American astrophysicist Neil Degrasse Tyson is having a 'rap' battle of sorts.  A rapper named 'Bob' tweeted some strange tweets claiming that the Earth is Flat. He posted theories and 'evidence' that comes from conspiracy theorists and seems convinced it is factual.  Well, Dr. Tyson took to task and corrected his ideas prompting 'Bob' to make a 'diss' rap against the astrophysicist.  In a twist, Dr. Tyson had his nephew respond with a 'diss' rap of his own defending his uncle.  The entire exchange is unbelievable and hilarious.  Note: the idea of the 'Flat Earth myth' comes from and was propagated by an atheist.   

Here are the links to the rap battle:  

Here is the original exchange on Twitter regarding the 'Flat Earth theory:'


Sunday, January 24, 2016

3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Jesus Restores

The readings today tell us of the beginning of the New People or the New Covenant.

In the first reading, we given a description of Ezra before an assembly of men, women and those children who are old enough to understand. Ezra opens a scroll and read to the people the Law. He then explain it to them. The people responded "amen amen" showing that they agreed with the content of the scroll and Ezra's explanation. What was going on here was the restablishment of the covenant after Israel was in exile. After Babylon was defeated, The king of Persia, Cyrus ordered that the Jews could leave freely.  They left and rebuilt the temple and the walls of the city of Jerusalem (Ezra 6:15-17,  Nehemiah 6:15).  Since the Jews were exiled, they lost track of the Law of Moses and what the Lord had revealed to their ancestors. Ezra's task as priest was to remind the people of the covenant and restablish the rules.  This reading ties in with the Gospel.  Without the Law, the Jews had no order or purpose. They became the slaves of other nations. Similarly, without God's law in our hearts, we become slaves to the world and all its vices (Romans 6:16). This is why we must abide by God's law as we read in the Psalm today.

God's word or His laws are Spirit and life. They are not just words on a stone tablet or paper (2 Corinthians 3:6).  These words are life itself. They are perfect and refresh the soul. Since they come from God, we can trust them (2 Samuel 7:28). God is not a deceiver (Numbers 23:19). He only wants what is best for us (Psalm 34:19). We must do our best to remain in God's law so that we can live in His grace and reach perfection (John 15:10).  This is why God left us His Catholic Church which is the body of Christ with Christ as her head as we read in the second reading (Colossians 1:18).

In the second reading, we are told that the body of Christ or His Church, is composed of many parts just like the human body. However, these parts, though different, form the ONE body of Christ. This is why the Catholic Church is the one and only true Church of Christ.  She is ONE. Christ can only have ONE body just like we each have one body. There cannot be 'churches' of Christ (Ephesians 4:5).  Only one Church is His Body and that Church is the Catholic Church. In this Church, all are one and equal (Galatians 3:28). While each one of us are different, we are One in Christ.  So "whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons.. we were all given to drink of the One Spirit." Each one of us has gifts given to us by God that we must put to work in order to spread the Gospel (1 Peter 4:10). Not everyone can do the same thing. One of us may teach, another may be a student. One of us may have the gift of healing, while another may have the gift of tongues or preaching. Regardless of what gift we have. The gift that we have does not make us better than anyone else. Like an organ in the body, it has its own function which is necessary to keep the entire organism of the human body alive. The Church is the New Covenant which was signed, sealed and delivered in the blood of the Lamb (Matthew 26:28, Hebrews 13:20). Jesus in the Gospel will speak to the crowd just as Ezra did.

In the Gospel, Jesus comes back to Nazareth where He grew up. As was His custom, He went to the synagogue on the sabbath day. While there, He read from the scroll of the prohet Isaah the passage found in Isaiah 61 which reads, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to captives
and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free,and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord."  After reading this, He returns the scroll and tells the people present that "Today this Scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing." By saying this, Jesus confirms that He is the one who was sent to restore all things, including sight to the blind and glad tidings to the poor. Like Ezra, Jesus speaks before the people of Israel and reads from the Law (in this case, Isaiah). This is telling us that Jesus is restoring the covenant by making it new. The Law is no longer ink on paper. It is a living person; the Son of God walking among us (humanity) (Galatians 3:24).  It is in Jesus that we find perfection, unity and joy. Let us continue to listen to Jesus speak to us. Let us continue to remind ourselves that we must follow God's law so as to live happily and with purpose. May Jesus Christ be praised.      


Friday, January 22, 2016

Rain, Sun or Blizzard: March For Life 2016 Unstoppable

Under the brutal cold and onset of possibly the biggest blizzard on record, Pro-Life marchers gathered at the nation's capital to protest the evil called abortion. Despite the cold and snow, there was a considerable mass of people present, though smaller than last year.  Nevertheless, the majority of those present were young people from all walks of life.  There were people present from every religion, even atheists and feminists. They all united under the cause to protect human life in all its stages of development.

Unfortunately, I was not able to attend due to my scheduling and obligations. However, I was with my brothers and sisters in spirit and prayer; supporting them on social media.  Presidential candidate Carly Fiorina was present and spoke to the marchers.  Fr. Frank Pavone, Cardinal Sean o' Malley and many others were present as well.  As usual, a few hateful pro abortion protesters stood on the sidelines trolling the participants. They were drowned out by the cheerful prayers, songs and chants from the pro-life marchers.

Kudos to those brave soldiers for life!  God will reward you for bearing the weather to call for the protection of all human life in all its stages of development!

Here are some photos and tweets of the event which was a success once again despite the inclement weather.


Thursday, January 21, 2016

Pope Updates Feet Washing Rite

The Holy Father Pope Francis has issued a decree (Decreto della Congregazione per il Culto Divino e la Disciplina dei Sacramenti sul Rito della “Lavanda dei Piedi”, 21.01.2016) signed by Cardinal Sarah making changes to the "Feet Washing" rite on Holy Thursday.

It says:

Original Italian:
Lettera del Santo Padre al Prefetto della Congregazione per il Culto Divino e la Disciplina dei Sacramenti sul Rito della “Lavanda dei Piedi” nella Liturgia della Messa in Cœna Domini, 21.01.2016
Al venerato Fratello
Signor Cardinale ROBERT SARAH
Prefetto della Congregazione
per il Culto Divino e la Disciplina dei Sacramenti
Signor Cardinale,
come ho avuto modo di dirLe a voce, da qualche tempo sto riflettendo sul Rito della “Lavanda dei piedi”, contenuto nella Liturgia della Messa in Cœna Domini, nell’intento di migliorarne le modalità di attuazione, affinché esprimano pienamente il significato del gesto compiuto da Gesù nel Cenacolo, il suo donarsi “fino alla fine” per la salvezza del mondo, la sua carità senza confini.
Dopo attenta ponderazione, sono giunto alla deliberazione di apportare un cambiamento nelle rubriche del Messale Romano. Dispongo pertanto che venga modificata la rubrica secondo la quale le persone prescelte per ricevere la Lavanda dei piedi debbano essere uomini o ragazzi, in modo tale che da ora in poi i Pastori della Chiesa possano scegliere i partecipanti al rito tra tutti i membri del Popolo di Dio. Si raccomandi inoltre che ai prescelti venga fornita un’adeguata spiegazione del significato del rito stesso.
Grato per il prezioso servizio di codesto Dicastero, assicuro a Lei, Signor Cardinale, al Segretario e a tutti i collaboratori il mio ricordo nella preghiera e, formulando i migliori auguri per il Santo Natale, invio a ciascuno la Benedizione Apostolica.
Dal Vaticano, 20 dicembre 2014
[00085-IT.01] [Testo originale: Italiano]

"The reform of the Holy Week, by the decree Maxima Redemptionis nostrae mysteria of November 1955, provides the faculty, where counselled by pastoral motives, to perform the washing of the feet of twelve men during the Mass of the Lord's Supper, after the reading of the Gospel according to John, as if almost to represent Christ's humility and love for His disciples.
In the Roman liturgy this rite was handed down with the name of the Mandatum of the Lord on brotherly charity in accordance with Jesus' words, sung in the Antiphon during the celebration.
In performing this rite, bishops and priests are invited to conform intimately to Christ who 'came not to be served but to serve' and, driven by a love 'to the end', to give His life for the salvation of all humankind.
To manifest the full meaning of the rite to those who participate in it, the Holy Father Francis has seen fit to change the rule by in the Roman Missal (p.300, No. 11) according to which the chosen men are accompanied by the ministers, which must therefore be modified as follows: 'Those chosen from among the People of God are accompanied by the ministers' (and consequently in the Caeremoniale Episcoporum No. 301 and No. 299 b referring to the seats for the chosen men, so that pastors may choose a group of faithful representing the variety and unity of every part of the People of God. This group may consist of men and women, and ideally of the young and the old, healthy and sick, clerics, consecrated persons and laypeople.
This Congregation for Divine Worship and the Disipline of the Sacraments, by means of the faculties granted by the Supreme Pontiff, introduces this innovation in the liturgical books of the Roman Rite, recalling pastors of their duty to instruct adequately both the chosen faithful and others, so that they may participate in the rite consciously, actively and fruitfully".

As expected, so-called 'Traditionalist' bloggers have taken to their blogs to voice their wrath and attacks against the Holy Father.  Blogger 'Rorate Caeli' wrote on his blog:

[New Catholic: Two comments on historical matters. (1) This is one of the signs of irreformable acts by Francis. Since the beginning of his pontificate, his main supporters, including Cardinal Maradiaga, have insisted that the Pope wanted his reforms to be so great and symbolic no successor of his could ever overturn them. This is surely one example. (2) What is most tragic is to see the very same impulses that imploded Anglicanism imposed on Latin Church decades later. These impulses are not only untraditional -- which may be an advantageous characteristic in the Pope's mind -- but counterproductive. Unless the intention is to destroy the soul and strength of the Church, weaken Her even more, and to sow doubts on the immutability of symbolic explanations for the Male Priesthood in the Catholic Church. Surely that is not what was intended and what was sought. Surely not!]

The changes allows the washing of the feet of women, men, children, the elderly, clerics, religion and possibly non-Catholics/Christians since the decree says, "both the chosen faithful and others."  This change reflects the call to mercy that Pope Francis has focused on since the onset of his pontificate and this year of mercy.

In the rubrics it says,

"After the Homily, where a pastoral reason suggests it, the Washing of Feet follows. The men who have been chosen (viri selecti) are led by the ministers to seats prepared in a suitable place. Then the priest (removing his chasuble if necessary) goes to each one, and, with the help of the ministers, pours water over each one's feet and then dries them."

The word 'viri" is masculine and can mean men as in males or human beings in general, i.e MANkind, HuMAN, all MEN.  Traditionalists believe that only men should have their feet washed since Jesus did choose 12 men.  However, since the word 'viri' can mean both male(men) and humanity in general, then the rubric does implicitly allow for women and children to have their feet washed during the Mass of the Last Supper.

Pope Francis is using this change as a symbolic gesture showing that he is welcoming all just like Christ did. This is the purpose of the rite. We are called to wash one another's feet regardless of gender or background. Traditionalists who believe the rite only pertains to males missed the point Jesus was trying to make in the washing of feet.  Remember, the Last Supper washing of the feet was an example of what the apostles had to do. Naturally, they would have found themselves in scenarios that are not identical as the supper, so imitating the washing to the letter would not make sense.

 "Rorate Caeli" and others do not have an argument in this case since Pope Francis clearly stated that participants must understand the meaning behind the washing of the feet. This means that the rite was not changed to accomodate feminists or water down Catholicism. Those who are chosen must know what they are getting into beforehand.

I must admit, I do have mixed feelings about this as many will take it out of context just like "Rorate Caeli" and others have.  However, since the decree specifically states that pastors have to inform the participants on the meaning of the rite, then I am at ease.  I think Jesus would approve of this since he was inclusive and merciful. The rites of the Church are meant to feed us spiritually.  They are not meant to be habits that we blindly imitate. If a Catholic is worried about whose feet is being washed rather than why the feet are washed, then this Catholic is not internalizing the message.  He or she is not growing spiritually and is focusing only on the externals just like the Pharisees. As one of my instructors from the Oratory wrote in his book On the Lord's Appearing, "Tradition is the living faith of the dead, traditionalism the dead faith of the living."

We must be careful not to become like the Pharisees who were living a dead faith based on rigid understanding and implementation of rules rather than absorbing the spirit of them. Moreover, the Pope has the power of the keys to change or leave things the as is. "Rorate Caeli" and others who think like him do not understand theology nor Catholicism.  Perhaps it may be time for them to leave the Church and start their own just like Luther did if all they are going to do is complain, disparage and slander the Pope and adhere to nostalgia, rather than work on their salvation and that of others.


Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Planet Nine in Solar System?

Evidence seems to point to an undiscovered planet beyond the demoted planet Pluto.  Caltech researchers believe there is a giant planet which orbits 20 times farther than the and takes about 20,000 years to make a full revolution. The planet is believed to be 10 times the size of Earth.  Dr Konstantin Batygin and Mike Brown used mathematical modeling and simulations to make the discovery. However, no empirical evidence has been presented that shows the planet in it natural form.  The news was revealed in The Astronomical Journal: Evidence For A Distant Giant Planet In The Solar System

Some astronomers believe Pluto may be a satellite or former satellite of this newly discovered planet. For centuries, cultures have speculated that a large planet existed outside of the visible Solar System. This object has been called 'Nibiru' or 'Planet X.'  Ideas have circulated that ancient aliens live on this planet and visited Earth when their planet was closer to the Sun. These ideas are of course part of the human imagination and no evidence exists supporting the stories. However, this will not stop so-called 'Ancient Astronaut Theorists' from taking this news story and running to the wind with it.

In any event, the discover is amazing and shows how little we know of our own 'backyard,' the Solar System.



Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Alleged Pee Drinking Gay Priest Spotted

Alleged pee drinking gay priest, Peter Miqueli who resigned before Christmas 2015 after accusations rose from some of his parishioners at St. Francis de Chantal that he was stealing money to fund a gay lifestyle with hunky Keith Crist was spotted at his home in New Jersey.  Miqueli has been the focus of an investigation by some lay faithful at the Bronx parish of St. Francis de Chantal.  They accuse him of having a boyfriend-for-pay, stealing money to support him and himself as well as other abuses.  See:

Miqueli was spotted at a New Jersey home that is in his name. Neighbors also claim that his boyfriend-for-pay Keith Crist has also been seen entering the home.  They have voiced their disgust at the presence of this 'man of God' and wish that he would leave as his presence is disgracing their community. Miqueli was seen leaving a store with power ball tickets, possibly looking to win the over one billion jackpot; so much for living a modest life as Pope Francis has called for.   He was also spotted driving a luxury car; another violation of what the Pope has been calling for in regards to how priests should live and what canon law states.

  • Can. 276 §1. In leading their lives, clerics are bound in a special way to pursue holiness since, having been consecrated to God by a new title in the reception of orders, they are dispensers of the mysteries of God in the service of His people.
  • Can. 282 §1. Clerics are to foster simplicity of life and are to refrain from all things that have a semblance of vanity.
  • Can. 285 §1. Clerics are to refrain completely from all those things which are unbecoming to their state, according to the prescripts of particular law.
  • §2. Clerics are to avoid those things which, although not unbecoming, are nevertheless foreign to the clerical state.

I have remained as objective as I can on this matter; however, the accused priest is looking more and more guilty of what parishioners have been accusing him of despite the archdiocese of New York not finding anything off in regards to the parish's finances.  The home that is allegedly his and was bought with parish money is indeed owned by him, see:  Moreover, the address used for the purchase of the home is that of the Catholic Church (St. Frances Cabrini) where Miqueli previously was assigned to, see:  It is unfortunate that the archdiocese of New York is more concerned about finances than the spiritual life of this priest.  Not one word was given regarding his alleged homosexual behavior which seems to be well supported with evidence.  


Monday, January 18, 2016

Ted Cruz: 'New York Values'

During the Republican debate, Ted Cruz offended New  Yorkers by describing them as having 'New York Values.'  He insinuated that New Yorkers are slanted towards the left and have no 'real values.'  Donald Trump shot back at him reminding everyone of the values seen on 911 and that Cruz's comments were offensive.  Trump is correct.  The Daily News immediately took to the presses posting an image of the Statue of Liberty flipping the middle finger at Ted Cruz.

Many pundits are calling Cruz's comments as an embarrassment and blunder.  Governor Cuomo and others came out attacking Cruz for his comments.  It seems that Ted Cruz is anti-New York or extremely ignorant. The majority of the state is Republican!  Those liberals Ted Cruz is obsessed with are mostly found in New York City.  Upstate, the majority of counties ARE Republican.  In fact, Republican mayors have been elected in New York City showing that no such liberal faction controls the city in regards to voting.

Most likely, Cruz's stupid comments will hurt him in April when New York is set to vote in the primaries.  I applaud Donald Trump for defending New York.  No disrespect to Texas, but Pope Saint John Paul II dubbed New York City as the capital of the world because of its importance.  Texas is just a state with possibly the most obese people in the states and most uneducated.  Many refuse to accept evolution.  Texas cannot compare to my home state New York.  


Fourth #DemDebate

The fourth Democratic presidential debate took place last night. Each candidate spoke on healthcare, the economy and social issues.  They argued over healthcare with Sanders pushing for a better healthcare plan that includes all and is more affordable.  Clinton accused Sanders of wanting to start from scratch and said that would be a big mistake.  The arguments, formulations and so forth would further delay universal healthcare for all Americans.

On the economy, each candidate presented their ideas which were very similar. However, Sanders pushed for free college and other ideas that resemble socialism.  He also wants to increase taxes.  O' Malley argued that he has more experience at implementing change due to his terms as an elected official.  At one point of the debate, Sanders became annoyed with the moderator Andrea Mitchell when she asked about Bill Clinton's sex scandal. On social issues,

Sanders stated that he would have police officers made accountable whenever they violate the law or kill unarmed individuals.  He believes that the department of Justice should handle such scenarios, not local prosecutors.  For the most part, the debate showed three candidates who often did not answer the question directly and attacked on another.  Clinton and Sanders often went at it taking on a contrarian role.  At times, O'Malley tried to redirect the debate towards attacking Republicans.  


Sunday, January 17, 2016

2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time: The Wedding

Today's readings are about evangelization.

In the first reading, Isaiah says that he will not be silent for the sake of Zion and Jerusalem.  He has to give witness to God. The people of God are a glorious crown, a royal diadem. These people will be united to God as a young man marries a virgin; as a bridegroom his bride.  This reading reminds us that the Church is the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:25-27).  At the end of time, this bride will marry the bridegroom who is Jesus (Revelation 21:2). Those in humanity who united to the Church and remained faithful will be restored (Romans 8:22, Acts 3:21).  Their link with God which has been severed or weakened by sin will be repaired. Before all of this happens, we must proclaim God's deeds to all the nations as the Psalm tells us (Matthew 28:19 ).  This is evangelization.

We must sing to the Lord and anounce His salvation to all the Earth.  It is in our love and our joy that we attract others to God (Philippians 4:4).  If we are people with gloomy faces looking to fulfill and obligation, then people will not seek anything in us or from us (Matthew 6:16, Sirach 25:23). However, if we shine bright with God's grace; with God's Good News, then why will seek it as well because everyone wants to be joyous, not miserable. This is why the Holy Spirit was sent to us and gives us distinct gifts as we are told in the second reading.

The same and One Spirit gives different gifts to each of us. He gives different forms of services, but they are all rendered unto the Lord. They all come from God (Nehemiah 9:20, John 20:22). Some may have the gift of wisom and expression of knowledge.  Others may have the expression of faith, healing, mighty deeds, propchecy, discerning of spirits and tongues. While different, each gift serves a person. The gifts of tongues is speaking in a way that everyone understands.  It is not gibberish or sounds that make no sense as our friends in the Pentecostal sect believe the gift of tongues is.  Speaking gibberish does not spread the kingdom of God.  It brings about mockery from the heathen. We must put the gifts God gives us to use in promoting the Gospel (Psalm 68:18, Acts 5:32). For now, I am using websites, social media, radio podcasts, Google hangouts and books to do this. I also do street evangelization. God may change this in the future and have me do something else. What gifts did God give you? How does He want you to spread the Good News? These gifts are meant to promote God, not ourselves or our agenda. We sometimes see blogs out there or certain personalities who use their gifts to preach gossip or attacks against the Pope and our bishops calling them 'wicked' or 'modernists.'  This is not of the Holy Spirit. These kinds of messages are demonic which seeks to undermine the Catholic Church and cause doubt (1 Peter 5:8). Moreover, we must not envy the gifts of others (Galatians 5:26). Not everyone is supposed to evangelize in the same manner. Be happy that God has entrusted you with a gift and mission.

Lastly in the Gospel, we read of Christ's first miracle which came as a result of Our Lady's intercession. Jesus and Mary are at a wedding feast. This shows us their humanity. Being of God does not mean we have to be stiff, rigid stoics who do not enjoy life (Ecclesiastes 9:7). Everything about God is a joyous occasion, a feast. Moreover, we are told that the wine ran out. Mary tells Jesus and He responds in a blunt manner, "Woman, how does your concern affect me? My hour has not yet come."  Despite this direct responds, Mary tells the serves, "Do whatever he tells you.'  We see here how Mary brings Jesus to perform a miracle before the time set showing the intercessory power Mary has. She pleads for us at the right hand of her Son Christ.  Jesus then performs the miracle of transforming jars of water into the best tasting wine. This reading not only shows us Mary's intercession, Christ's power and a wedding party; it is a reminder of the first reading.  God is going to marry His people; the Church (Revelation 19:7; 21:9). This is what the Catholic Church has her eyes on: the wedding feast of the Lamb and herself.  Let us pray to the Holy Spirit to tell us what to do and how to do it.  Let us ask Him to give us the gifts and means to do this.  While we do our work of evangelizing, let us never forget Mary who intercedes for us.  May Jesus Christ be praised.


Friday, January 15, 2016

Norm of the North Movie

I just watched Norm of the North with my nephew.  The movie was pretty good.  It is about a polar bear named Norm who can speak to human beings.  However, when Norm and his friends learn that a real estate company is planning to ship homes to the arctic in order to populate it, he goes on a mission to save his home. While on the mission, he learns that his grandfather who long ago went on a mission was captured by the villain, Mr. Greene.  Guided by his friend Socrates and accompanied by lemmings,  Norm embarks to New York City to search for his grandfather. 

While there, he passes off as a mascot helping Mr. Greene promote his homes at the arctic idea. Norm also learns that Mr. Greene is the puppet of a board which seeks to capitalize on the environment. After rescuing his grandfather, he goes to inform Pablo who is the one financing the project and who has no idea how his money is being used.  The movie has a lot of action, violence and other things which may offend some parents.  

Overall, the move is good and was clearly made to show awareness of global warming and the affects human beings have on the environment.  If you do not subscribe to the science on environmental issues, then this movie is not for you.  Nevertheless, it teaches kids to work to solve problems and fight for causes that they follow.  The best lesson is that it promotes concern for our world and the importance of preserving natural environments and the species they contain.  

Thursday, January 14, 2016

2nd #GopDebate on Fox Business

The second Republican debate on Fox Business was held. The undercard featued Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum.  Rand Paul opted out of the debate.  In this debate, each candidate did extremely well.  Huckabee came out strong speaking for the common man while Santorum was very passionate about the family, keeping America safe and the economy.  Fiorina focused on attacking Clinton and even made an indirect remark saying she loves to spend time with her husband which was interpreted as an attack against Bill Clinton.  In this under card debate, I think Santorum did well.  However, each candidate did pretty good.

In the main event debate, we saw Trump's and Cruz's 'bromance' dissolve as both went at it over Cruz's eligibility to run for president since he was born in Canada. The crowd booed Trump's insistance on the issue while Cruz fought back saying he will not take legal advice from Trump while Trump resonded that Cruz needs to ask his Harvard professors.  Trump did pretty well in this debate and I believe he won.  He was much better prepared and stood ground when attacked.  Marco Rubio and Chris Christie also went at it after Rubio attacked Christie for supporting many of Obama's ideas.  Christie shot back saying that Rubio told Bush that someone adviced him to attack him and said that that 'someone' "whispered" to Rubio the same advice. Rubio also went after Cruz's flip flopping at the senate.  Carl Carson was not strong in this debate and hardly spoke. He simply made some wise crack statements causing laughter and did not engage upon his own platform. Kasich did well as well, but did not 'tango' with the other candidates.  Bush did much better in this debate than in previous ones. However, he has failed to really set up a shining moment. Trump was strong and came across as a realist. He and Cruz had another moment when Cruz attacked New Yorkers saying they had no values and that no conservatives come from there.  Trump defended New York citing the heroism demonstrated on September 11, 2001.


Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Obama's Final State of the Union Address

President Barack Obama has just given his last State of the Union Address.  He was followed by the Republican response by Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina.

The address was more of a farewell and call to unity rather than an actual state of the union.  Obama stressed that both sides of the aisle must work together.  He highlighted the accomplishments under his administration and stressed that more can be done if Americans worked together. In attendance were people of many walks of life, including and surprisingly Kim Davis, the clerk who was jailed for denying same-sex couples marriage licences.  Muslims were also present including two nuns of the Sisters of the Poor who have been in conflict with the federal government after 'Obamacare.'

Next to the First lady, Michelle Obama, was an empty seat representing those who were killed due to gun violence.  In the speech, Obama made indirect remarks against Trump and Cruz.  He also addressed many of the issues right-wing Americans have criticized him over, including the online assault against the young boy Mohammed who build a clock and was arrested for it at school. Obama stated that the name calling and attacks on the boy made America look bad in the global stage.  He also jabbed at those who deny climate change by stating that decades ago no one denied Sputnik was orbiting Earth which led to the United States going to the Moon in 12 years.

The speech was a mix of many things. The main point was to call all sides together, focus on the accomplishment and continue to work together to keep America going strong.  Governor Haley responded by stating that under Obama, the United States has not improved. However, she also included the Republicans as being culpable of the state of the Union as well and attacked Trump indirectly. Haley mentioned what Republicans can do to make America better and made the emphasis that they will protect and enforce the Constitution, in particular, freedom of religion and gun rights.

Here is the text of Obama's final speech at the Capital building:

President Obama's 2016 State of the Union Address
Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, my fellow Americans:
Tonight marks the eighth year I've come here to report on the State of the Union. And for this final one, I'm going to try to make it shorter. I know some of you are antsy to get back to Iowa.
I also understand that because it's an election season, expectations for what we'll achieve this year are low. Still, Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the constructive approach you and the other leaders took at the end of last year to pass a budget and make tax cuts permanent for working families. So I hope we can work together this year on bipartisan priorities like criminal justice reform, and helping people who are battling prescription drug abuse. We just might surprise the cynics again.
But tonight, I want to go easy on the traditional list of proposals for the year ahead. Don't worry, I've got plenty, from helping students learn to write computer code to personalizing medical treatments for patients. And I'll keep pushing for progress on the work that still needs doing. Fixing a broken immigration system. Protecting our kids from gun violence. Equal pay for equal work, paid leave, raising the minimum wage. All these things still matter to hardworking families; they are still the right thing to do; and I will not let up until they get done.
But for my final address to this chamber, I don't want to talk just about the next year. I want to focus on the next five years, ten years, and beyond.
I want to focus on our future.
We live in a time of extraordinary change — change that's reshaping the way we live, the way we work, our planet and our place in the world. It's change that promises amazing medical breakthroughs, but also economic disruptions that strain working families. It promises education for girls in the most remote villages, but also connects terrorists plotting an ocean away. It's change that can broaden opportunity, or widen inequality. And whether we like it or not, the pace of this change will only accelerate.
America has been through big changes before — wars and depression, the influx of immigrants, workers fighting for a fair deal, and movements to expand civil rights. Each time, there have been those who told us to fear the future; who claimed we could slam the brakes on change, promising to restore past glory if we just got some group or idea that was threatening America under control. And each time, we overcame those fears. We did not, in the words of Lincoln, adhere to the "dogmas of the quiet past." Instead we thought anew, and acted anew. We made change work for us, always extending America's promise outward, to the next frontier, to more and more people. And because we did — because we saw opportunity where others saw only peril — we emerged stronger and better than before.
What was true then can be true now. Our unique strengths as a nation — our optimism and work ethic, our spirit of discovery and innovation, our diversity and commitment to the rule of law — these things give us everything we need to ensure prosperity and security for generations to come.
In fact, it's that spirit that made the progress of these past seven years possible. It's how we recovered from the worst economic crisis in generations. It's how we reformed our health care system, and reinvented our energy sector; how we delivered more care and benefits to our troops and veterans, and how we secured the freedom in every state to marry the person we love.
But such progress is not inevitable. It is the result of choices we make together. And we face such choices right now. Will we respond to the changes of our time with fear, turning inward as a nation, and turning against each other as a people? Or will we face the future with confidence in who we are, what we stand for, and the incredible things we can do together?
So let's talk about the future, and four big questions that we as a country have to answer — regardless of who the next President is, or who controls the next Congress.
First, how do we give everyone a fair shot at opportunity and security in this new economy?
Second, how do we make technology work for us, and not against us — especially when it comes to solving urgent challenges like climate change?
Third, how do we keep America safe and lead the world without becoming its policeman?
And finally, how can we make our politics reflect what's best in us, and not what's worst?
Let me start with the economy, and a basic fact: the United States of America, right now, has the strongest, most durable economy in the world. We're in the middle of the longest streak of private-sector job creation in history. More than 14 million new jobs; the strongest two years of job growth since the '90s; an unemployment rate cut in half. Our auto industry just had its best year ever. Manufacturing has created nearly 900,000 new jobs in the past six years. And we've done all this while cutting our deficits by almost three-quarters.
Anyone claiming that America's economy is in decline is peddling fiction. What is true — and the reason that a lot of Americans feel anxious — is that the economy has been changing in profound ways, changes that started long before the Great Recession hit and haven't let up. Today, technology doesn't just replace jobs on the assembly line, but any job where work can be automated. Companies in a global economy can locate anywhere, and face tougher competition. As a result, workers have less leverage for a raise. Companies have less loyalty to their communities. And more and more wealth and income is concentrated at the very top.
All these trends have squeezed workers, even when they have jobs; even when the economy is growing. It's made it harder for a hardworking family to pull itself out of poverty, harder for young people to start on their careers, and tougher for workers to retire when they want to. And although none of these trends are unique to America, they do offend our uniquely American belief that everybody who works hard should get a fair shot.
For the past seven years, our goal has been a growing economy that works better for everybody. We've made progress. But we need to make more. And despite all the political arguments we've had these past few years, there are some areas where Americans broadly agree.
We agree that real opportunity requires every American to get the education and training they need to land a good-paying job. The bipartisan reform of No Child Left Behind was an important start, and together, we've increased early childhood education, lifted high school graduation rates to new highs, and boosted graduates in fields like engineering. In the coming years, we should build on that progress, by providing Pre-K for all, offering every student the hands-on computer science and math classes that make them job-ready on day one, and we should recruit and support more great teachers for our kids.
And we have to make college affordable for every American. Because no hardworking student should be stuck in the red. We've already reduced student loan payments to ten percent of a borrower's income. Now, we've actually got to cut the cost of college. Providing two years of community college at no cost for every responsible student is one of the best ways to do that, and I'm going to keep fighting to get that started this year.
Of course, a great education isn't all we need in this new economy. We also need benefits and protections that provide a basic measure of security. After all, it's not much of a stretch to say that some of the only people in America who are going to work the same job, in the same place, with a health and retirement package, for 30 years, are sitting in this chamber. For everyone else, especially folks in their forties and fifties, saving for retirement or bouncing back from job loss has gotten a lot tougher. Americans understand that at some point in their careers, they may have to retool and retrain. But they shouldn't lose what they've already worked so hard to build.
That's why Social Security and Medicare are more important than ever; we shouldn't weaken them, we should strengthen them. And for Americans short of retirement, basic benefits should be just as mobile as everything else is today. That's what the Affordable Care Act is all about. It's about filling the gaps in employer-based care so that when we lose a job, or go back to school, or start that new business, we'll still have coverage. Nearly eighteen million have gained coverage so far. Health care inflation has slowed. And our businesses have created jobs every single month since it became law.
Now, I'm guessing we won't agree on health care anytime soon. But there should be other ways both parties can improve economic security. Say a hardworking American loses his job — we shouldn't just make sure he can get unemployment insurance; we should make sure that program encourages him to retrain for a business that's ready to hire him. If that new job doesn't pay as much, there should be a system of wage insurance in place so that he can still pay his bills. And even if he's going from job to job, he should still be able to save for retirement and take his savings with him. That's the way we make the new economy work better for everyone.
I also know Speaker Ryan has talked about his interest in tackling poverty. America is about giving everybody willing to work a hand up, and I'd welcome a serious discussion about strategies we can all support, like expanding tax cuts for low-income workers without kids.
But there are other areas where it's been more difficult to find agreement over the last seven years — namely what role the government should play in making sure the system's not rigged in favor of the wealthiest and biggest corporations. And here, the American people have a choice to make.
I believe a thriving private sector is the lifeblood of our economy. I think there are outdated regulations that need to be changed, and there's red tape that needs to be cut. But after years of record corporate profits, working families won't get more opportunity or bigger paychecks by letting big banks or big oil or hedge funds make their own rules at the expense of everyone else; or by allowing attacks on collective bargaining to go unanswered. Food Stamp recipients didn't cause the financial crisis; recklessness on Wall Street did. Immigrants aren't the reason wages haven't gone up enough; those decisions are made in the boardrooms that too often put quarterly earnings over long-term returns. It's sure not the average family watching tonight that avoids paying taxes through offshore accounts. In this new economy, workers and start-ups and small businesses need more of a voice, not less. The rules should work for them. And this year I plan to lift up the many businesses who've figured out that doing right by their workers ends up being good for their shareholders, their customers, and their communities, so that we can spread those best practices across America.
In fact, many of our best corporate citizens are also our most creative. This brings me to the second big question we have to answer as a country: how do we reignite that spirit of innovation to meet our biggest challenges?
Sixty years ago, when the Russians beat us into space, we didn't deny Sputnik was up there. We didn't argue about the science, or shrink our research and development budget. We built a space program almost overnight, and twelve years later, we were walking on the moon.
That spirit of discovery is in our DNA. We're Thomas Edison and the Wright Brothers and George Washington Carver. We're Grace Hopper and Katherine Johnson and Sally Ride. We're every immigrant and entrepreneur from Boston to Austin to Silicon Valley racing to shape a better world. And over the past seven years, we've nurtured that spirit.
We've protected an open internet, and taken bold new steps to get more students and low-income Americans online. We've launched next-generation manufacturing hubs, and online tools that give an entrepreneur everything he or she needs to start a business in a single day.
But we can do so much more. Last year, Vice President Biden said that with a new moonshot, America can cure cancer. Last month, he worked with this Congress to give scientists at the National Institutes of Health the strongest resources they've had in over a decade. Tonight, I'm announcing a new national effort to get it done. And because he's gone to the mat for all of us, on so many issues over the past forty years, I'm putting Joe in charge of Mission Control. For the loved ones we've all lost, for the family we can still save, let's make America the country that cures cancer once and for all.
Medical research is critical. We need the same level of commitment when it comes to developing clean energy sources.
Look, if anybody still wants to dispute the science around climate change, have at it. You'll be pretty lonely, because you'll be debating our military, most of America's business leaders, the majority of the American people, almost the entire scientific community, and 200 nations around the world who agree it's a problem and intend to solve it.
But even if the planet wasn't at stake; even if 2014 wasn't the warmest year on record — until 2015 turned out even hotter — why would we want to pass up the chance for American businesses to produce and sell the energy of the future?
Seven years ago, we made the single biggest investment in clean energy in our history. Here are the results. In fields from Iowa to Texas, wind power is now cheaper than dirtier, conventional power. On rooftops from Arizona to New York, solar is saving Americans tens of millions of dollars a year on their energy bills, and employs more Americans than coal — in jobs that pay better than average. We're taking steps to give homeowners the freedom to generate and store their own energy — something environmentalists and Tea Partiers have teamed up to support. Meanwhile, we've cut our imports of foreign oil by nearly sixty percent, and cut carbon pollution more than any other country on Earth.
Gas under two bucks a gallon ain't bad, either.
Now we've got to accelerate the transition away from dirty energy. Rather than subsidize the past, we should invest in the future — especially in communities that rely on fossil fuels. That's why I'm going to push to change the way we manage our oil and coal resources, so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet. That way, we put money back into those communities and put tens of thousands of Americans to work building a 21st century transportation system.
None of this will happen overnight, and yes, there are plenty of entrenched interests who want to protect the status quo. But the jobs we'll create, the money we'll save, and the planet we'll preserve — that's the kind of future our kids and grandkids deserve.
Climate change is just one of many issues where our security is linked to the rest of the world. And that's why the third big question we have to answer is how to keep America safe and strong without either isolating ourselves or trying to nation-build everywhere there's a problem.
I told you earlier all the talk of America's economic decline is political hot air. Well, so is all the rhetoric you hear about our enemies getting stronger and America getting weaker. The United States of America is the most powerful nation on Earth. Period. It's not even close. We spend more on our military than the next eight nations combined. Our troops are the finest fighting force in the history of the world. No nation dares to attack us or our allies because they know that's the path to ruin. Surveys show our standing around the world is higher than when I was elected to this office, and when it comes to every important international issue, people of the world do not look to Beijing or Moscow to lead — they call us.
As someone who begins every day with an intelligence briefing, I know this is a dangerous time. But that's not because of diminished American strength or some looming superpower. In today's world, we're threatened less by evil empires and more by failing states. The Middle East is going through a transformation that will play out for a generation, rooted in conflicts that date back millennia. Economic headwinds blow from a Chinese economy in transition. Even as their economy contracts, Russia is pouring resources to prop up Ukraine and Syria — states they see slipping away from their orbit. And the international system we built after World War II is now struggling to keep pace with this new reality.
It's up to us to help remake that system. And that means we have to set priorities.
Priority number one is protecting the American people and going after terrorist networks. Both al Qaeda and now ISIL pose a direct threat to our people, because in today's world, even a handful of terrorists who place no value on human life, including their own, can do a lot of damage. They use the Internet to poison the minds of individuals inside our country; they undermine our allies.
But as we focus on destroying ISIL, over-the-top claims that this is World War III just play into their hands. Masses of fighters on the back of pickup trucks and twisted souls plotting in apartments or garages pose an enormous danger to civilians and must be stopped. But they do not threaten our national existence. That's the story ISIL wants to tell; that's the kind of propaganda they use to recruit. We don't need to build them up to show that we're serious, nor do we need to push away vital allies in this fight by echoing the lie that ISIL is representative of one of the world's largest religions. We just need to call them what they are — killers and fanatics who have to be rooted out, hunted down, and destroyed.
That's exactly what we are doing. For more than a year, America has led a coalition of more than 60 countries to cut off ISIL's financing, disrupt their plots, stop the flow of terrorist fighters, and stamp out their vicious ideology. With nearly 10,000 air strikes, we are taking out their leadership, their oil, their training camps, and their weapons. We are training, arming, and supporting forces who are steadily reclaiming territory in Iraq and Syria.
If this Congress is serious about winning this war, and wants to send a message to our troops and the world, you should finally authorize the use of military force against ISIL. Take a vote. But the American people should know that with or without Congressional action, ISIL will learn the same lessons as terrorists before them. If you doubt America's commitment — or mine — to see that justice is done, ask Osama bin Laden. Ask the leader of al Qaeda in Yemen, who was taken out last year, or the perpetrator of the Benghazi attacks, who sits in a prison cell. When you come after Americans, we go after you. It may take time, but we have long memories, and our reach has no limit.
Our foreign policy must be focused on the threat from ISIL and al Qaeda, but it can't stop there. For even without ISIL, instability will continue for decades in many parts of the world — in the Middle East, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, in parts of Central America, Africa and Asia. Some of these places may become safe havens for new terrorist networks; others will fall victim to ethnic conflict, or famine, feeding the next wave of refugees. The world will look to us to help solve these problems, and our answer needs to be more than tough talk or calls to carpet bomb civilians. That may work as a TV sound bite, but it doesn't pass muster on the world stage.
We also can't try to take over and rebuild every country that falls into crisis. That's not leadership; that's a recipe for quagmire, spilling American blood and treasure that ultimately weakens us. It's the lesson of Vietnam, of Iraq — and we should have learned it by now.
Fortunately, there's a smarter approach, a patient and disciplined strategy that uses every element of our national power. It says America will always act, alone if necessary, to protect our people and our allies; but on issues of global concern, we will mobilize the world to work with us, and make sure other countries pull their own weight.
That's our approach to conflicts like Syria, where we're partnering with local forces and leading international efforts to help that broken society pursue a lasting peace.
That's why we built a global coalition, with sanctions and principled diplomacy, to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. As we speak, Iran has rolled back its nuclear program, shipped out its uranium stockpile, and the world has avoided another war.
That's how we stopped the spread of Ebola in West Africa. Our military, our doctors, and our development workers set up the platform that allowed other countries to join us in stamping out that epidemic.
That's how we forged a Trans-Pacific Partnership to open markets, protect workers and the environment, and advance American leadership in Asia. It cuts 18,000 taxes on products Made in America, and supports more good jobs. With TPP, China doesn't set the rules in that region, we do. You want to show our strength in this century? Approve this agreement. Give us the tools to enforce it.
Fifty years of isolating Cuba had failed to promote democracy, setting us back in Latin America. That's why we restored diplomatic relations, opened the door to travel and commerce, and positioned ourselves to improve the lives of the Cuban people. You want to consolidate our leadership and credibility in the hemisphere? Recognize that the Cold War is over. Lift the embargo.
American leadership in the 21st century is not a choice between ignoring the rest of the world — except when we kill terrorists; or occupying and rebuilding whatever society is unraveling. Leadership means a wise application of military power, and rallying the world behind causes that are right. It means seeing our foreign assistance as part of our national security, not charity. When we lead nearly 200 nations to the most ambitious agreement in history to fight climate change — that helps vulnerable countries, but it also protects our children. When we help Ukraine defend its democracy, or Colombia resolve a decades-long war, that strengthens the international order we depend upon. When we help African countries feed their people and care for the sick, that prevents the next pandemic from reaching our shores. Right now, we are on track to end the scourge of HIV/AIDS, and we have the capacity to accomplish the same thing with malaria — something I'll be pushing this Congress to fund this year.
That's strength. That's leadership. And that kind of leadership depends on the power of our example. That is why I will keep working to shut down the prison at Guantanamo: it's expensive, it's unnecessary, and it only serves as a recruitment brochure for our enemies.
That's why we need to reject any politics that targets people because of race or religion. This isn't a matter of political correctness. It's a matter of understanding what makes us strong. The world respects us not just for our arsenal; it respects us for our diversity and our openness and the way we respect every faith. His Holiness, Pope Francis, told this body from the very spot I stand tonight that "to imitate the hatred and violence of tyrants and murderers is the best way to take their place." When politicians insult Muslims, when a mosque is vandalized, or a kid bullied, that doesn't make us safer. That's not telling it like it is. It's just wrong. It diminishes us in the eyes of the world. It makes it harder to achieve our goals. And it betrays who we are as a country.
"We the People."
Our Constitution begins with those three simple words, words we've come to recognize mean all the people, not just some; words that insist we rise and fall together. That brings me to the fourth, and maybe the most important thing I want to say tonight.
The future we want — opportunity and security for our families; a rising standard of living and a sustainable, peaceful planet for our kids — all that is within our reach. But it will only happen if we work together. It will only happen if we can have rational, constructive debates.
It will only happen if we fix our politics.
A better politics doesn't mean we have to agree on everything. This is a big country, with different regions and attitudes and interests. That's one of our strengths, too. Our Founders distributed power between states and branches of government, and expected us to argue, just as they did, over the size and shape of government, over commerce and foreign relations, over the meaning of liberty and the imperatives of security.
But democracy does require basic bonds of trust between its citizens. It doesn't work if we think the people who disagree with us are all motivated by malice, or that our political opponents are unpatriotic. Democracy grinds to a halt without a willingness to compromise; or when even basic facts are contested, and we listen only to those who agree with us. Our public life withers when only the most extreme voices get attention. Most of all, democracy breaks down when the average person feels their voice doesn't matter; that the system is rigged in favor of the rich or the powerful or some narrow interest.
Too many Americans feel that way right now. It's one of the few regrets of my presidency — that the rancor and suspicion between the parties has gotten worse instead of better. There's no doubt a president with the gifts of Lincoln or Roosevelt might have better bridged the divide, and I guarantee I'll keep trying to be better so long as I hold this office.
But, my fellow Americans, this cannot be my task — or any President's — alone. There are a whole lot of folks in this chamber who would like to see more cooperation, a more elevated debate in Washington, but feel trapped by the demands of getting elected. I know; you've told me. And if we want a better politics, it's not enough to just change a Congressman or a Senator or even a President; we have to change the system to reflect our better selves.
We have to end the practice of drawing our congressional districts so that politicians can pick their voters, and not the other way around. We have to reduce the influence of money in our politics, so that a handful of families and hidden interests can't bankroll our elections — and if our existing approach to campaign finance can't pass muster in the courts, we need to work together to find a real solution. We've got to make voting easier, not harder, and modernize it for the way we live now. And over the course of this year, I intend to travel the country to push for reforms that do.
But I can't do these things on my own. Changes in our political process — in not just who gets elected but how they get elected — that will only happen when the American people demand it. It will depend on you. That's what's meant by a government of, by, and for the people.
What I'm asking for is hard. It's easier to be cynical; to accept that change isn't possible, and politics is hopeless, and to believe that our voices and actions don't matter. But if we give up now, then we forsake a better future. Those with money and power will gain greater control over the decisions that could send a young soldier to war, or allow another economic disaster, or roll back the equal rights and voting rights that generations of Americans have fought, even died, to secure. As frustration grows, there will be voices urging us to fall back into tribes, to scapegoat fellow citizens who don't look like us, or pray like us, or vote like we do, or share the same background.
We can't afford to go down that path. It won't deliver the economy we want, or the security we want, but most of all, it contradicts everything that makes us the envy of the world.
So, my fellow Americans, whatever you may believe, whether you prefer one party or no party, our collective future depends on your willingness to uphold your obligations as a citizen. To vote. To speak out. To stand up for others, especially the weak, especially the vulnerable, knowing that each of us is only here because somebody, somewhere, stood up for us. To stay active in our public life so it reflects the goodness and decency and optimism that I see in the American people every single day.
It won't be easy. Our brand of democracy is hard. But I can promise that a year from now, when I no longer hold this office, I'll be right there with you as a citizen — inspired by those voices of fairness and vision, of grit and good humor and kindness that have helped America travel so far. Voices that help us see ourselves not first and foremost as black or white or Asian or Latino, not as gay or straight, immigrant or native born; not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans first, bound by a common creed. Voices Dr. King believed would have the final word — voices of unarmed truth and unconditional love.
They're out there, those voices. They don't get a lot of attention, nor do they seek it, but they are busy doing the work this country needs doing.
I see them everywhere I travel in this incredible country of ours. I see you. I know you're there. You're the reason why I have such incredible confidence in our future. Because I see your quiet, sturdy citizenship all the time.
I see it in the worker on the assembly line who clocked extra shifts to keep his company open, and the boss who pays him higher wages to keep him on board.
I see it in the Dreamer who stays up late to finish her science project, and the teacher who comes in early because he knows she might someday cure a disease.
I see it in the American who served his time, and dreams of starting over — and the business owner who gives him that second chance. The protester determined to prove that justice matters, and the young cop walking the beat, treating everybody with respect, doing the brave, quiet work of keeping us safe.
I see it in the soldier who gives almost everything to save his brothers, the nurse who tends to him 'til he can run a marathon, and the community that lines up to cheer him on.
It's the son who finds the courage to come out as who he is, and the father whose love for that son overrides everything he's been taught.
I see it in the elderly woman who will wait in line to cast her vote as long as she has to; the new citizen who casts his for the first time; the volunteers at the polls who believe every vote should count, because each of them in different ways know how much that precious right is worth.
That's the America I know. That's the country we love. Clear-eyed. Big-hearted. Optimistic that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word. That's what makes me so hopeful about our future. Because of you. I believe in you. That's why I stand here confident that the State of our Union is strong.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.

Here is the Republican response:

“Good evening.
“I’m Nikki Haley, Governor of the great state of South Carolina.
“I’m speaking tonight from Columbia, our state’s capital city. Much like America as a whole, ours is a state with a rich and complicated history, one that proves the idea that each day can be better than the last.
“In just a minute, I’m going to talk about a vision of a brighter American future. But first I want to say a few words about President Obama, who just gave his final State of the Union address.
“Barack Obama’s election as president seven years ago broke historic barriers and inspired millions of Americans. As he did when he first ran for office, tonight President Obama spoke eloquently about grand things. He is at his best when he does that.
“Unfortunately, the President’s record has often fallen far short of his soaring words.
“As he enters his final year in office, many Americans are still feeling the squeeze of an economy too weak to raise income levels. We’re feeling a crushing national debt, a health care plan that has made insurance less affordable and doctors less available, and chaotic unrest in many of our cities.
“Even worse, we are facing the most dangerous terrorist threat our nation has seen since September 11th, and this president appears either unwilling or unable to deal with it.
“Soon, the Obama presidency will end, and America will have the chance to turn in a new direction. That direction is what I want to talk about tonight.
“At the outset, I’ll say this: you’ve paid attention to what has been happening in Washington, and you’re not naive.
“Neither am I. I see what you see. And many of your frustrations are my frustrations.
“A frustration with a government that has grown day after day, year after year, yet doesn’t serve us any better. A frustration with the same, endless conversations we hear over and over again. A frustration with promises made and never kept.
“We need to be honest with each other, and with ourselves: while Democrats in Washington bear much responsibility for the problems facing America today, they do not bear it alone. There is more than enough blame to go around.
“We as Republicans need to own that truth. We need to recognize our contributions to the erosion of the public trust in America’s leadership. We need to accept that we’ve played a role in how and why our government is broken.
“And then we need to fix it.
“The foundation that has made America that last, best hope on earth hasn’t gone anywhere. It still exists. It is up to us to return to it.
“For me, that starts right where it always has: I am the proud daughter of Indian immigrants who reminded my brothers, my sister and me every day how blessed we were to live in this country.
“Growing up in the rural south, my family didn’t look like our neighbors, and we didn’t have much. There were times that were tough, but we had each other, and we had the opportunity to do anything, to be anything, as long as we were willing to work for it.
“My story is really not much different from millions of other Americans. Immigrants have been coming to our shores for generations to live the dream that is America. They wanted better for their children than for themselves. That remains the dream of all of us, and in this country we have seen time and again that that dream is achievable.
“Today, we live in a time of threats like few others in recent memory. During anxious times, it can be tempting to follow the siren call of the angriest voices. We must resist that temptation.
“No one who is willing to work hard, abide by our laws, and love our traditions should ever feel unwelcome in this country.
“At the same time, that does not mean we just flat out open our borders. We can’t do that. We cannot continue to allow immigrants to come here illegally. And in this age of terrorism, we must not let in refugees whose intentions cannot be determined.
“We must fix our broken immigration system. That means stopping illegal immigration. And it means welcoming properly vetted legal immigrants, regardless of their race or religion. Just like we have for centuries.
“I have no doubt that if we act with proper focus, we can protect our borders, our sovereignty and our citizens, all while remaining true to America’s noblest legacies.
“This past summer, South Carolina was dealt a tragic blow. On an otherwise ordinary Wednesday evening in June, at the historic Mother Emanuel church in Charleston, twelve faithful men and women, young and old, went to Bible study.
“That night, someone new joined them. He didn’t look like them, didn’t act like them, didn’t sound like them. They didn’t throw him out. They didn’t call the police. Instead, they pulled up a chair and prayed with him. For an hour.
“We lost nine incredible souls that night.
“What happened after the tragedy is worth pausing to think about.
“Our state was struck with shock, pain, and fear. But our people would not allow hate to win. We didn’t have violence, we had vigils. We didn’t have riots, we had hugs.
“We didn’t turn against each other’s race or religion. We turned toward God, and to the values that have long made our country the freest and greatest in the world.
“We removed a symbol that was being used to divide us, and we found a strength that united us against a domestic terrorist and the hate that filled him.
“There’s an important lesson in this. In many parts of society today, whether in popular culture, academia, the media, or politics, there’s a tendency to falsely equate noise with results.
“Some people think that you have to be the loudest voice in the room to make a difference. That is just not true. Often, the best thing we can do is turn down the volume. When the sound is quieter, you can actually hear what someone else is saying. And that can make a world of difference.
“Of course that doesn’t mean we won’t have strong disagreements. We will. And as we usher in this new era, Republicans will stand up for our beliefs.
“If we held the White House, taxes would be lower for working families, and we’d put the brakes on runaway spending and debt.
“We would encourage American innovation and success instead of demonizing them, so our economy would truly soar and good jobs would be available across our country.
“We would reform education so it worked best for students, parents, and teachers, not Washington bureaucrats and union bosses.
“We would end a disastrous health care program, and replace it with reforms that lowered costs and actually let you keep your doctor.
“We would respect differences in modern families, but we would also insist on respect for religious liberty as a cornerstone of our democracy.
“We would recognize the importance of the separation of powers and honor the Constitution in its entirety. And yes, that includes the Second and Tenth Amendments.
“We would make international agreements that were celebrated in Israel and protested in Iran, not the other way around.
“And rather than just thanking our brave men and women in uniform, we would actually strengthen our military, so both our friends and our enemies would know that America seeks peace, but when we fight wars we win them.
“We have big decisions to make. Our country is being tested.
“But we’ve been tested in the past, and our people have always risen to the challenge. We have all the guidance we need to be safe and successful.
“Our forefathers paved the way for us.
“Let’s take their values, and their strengths, and rededicate ourselves to doing whatever it takes to keep America the greatest country in the history of man. And woman.
“Thank you, good night, and God bless.”



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