Still a tad jet-lagged, suffering from a surprising bout of insomnia, and slowly rolling through the tasking that accumulates over a two week period when one leaves the country.
And attempting to get over the heartbreak of finding that the country has gone to hell in a handbasket while I was away.
More on that in a moment.
I want to first give a big public thank you to my guest bloggers who stepped in nicely and kept things interesting here while I was away. I'm most grateful for their contributions and have extended an offer to our newest members of the guest blogging family to continue their postings. Hats off to each of them for their stepping up. I am most appreciative.
Europe was surprisingly beautiful in spots, surprisingly dingy in others and not surprisingly inspirational in most areas. The weather served to be a nuisance, causing the cancellation of our ports of call in Monaco and Venice, the latter a two day event, some of this occurring while Sandy was pummeling the Northeast, activity that lessened somewhat the vociferousness of our complaints.
My hope in the coming days is to post some detail about the trip along with pics I think you'll find interesting.
But let's deal with the major news, at least briefly.
The re-election of Barack Hussein Obama is a surprise to me. I honestly thought a Romney win was in the bag. His loss caught a number of us on the right off guard. I had been confident of Obama's upending for some time. Regular readers might recall this wager I took on with Robert Agouri of A Work in Progress back in December and so there was no surprise when I found the following in my in-box this past Thursday, an offering from Robert to share with my readers:
In the spirit of bipartisanship, of reaching across the aisle and across the border, Rick and I undertook a bet on your recent Presidential election which my pick fortunately (for me and the world) won.
Thus, our host Rick now owes some charities some dough and here are the 5 I have chosen:
The Terry Fox Foundation (If you've never heard of him, look him up. The greatest Canadian.)
Friends of Veterans Canada (self-explanatory and appropriate, a few days before Remembrance Day)
The Montreal Canadiens Foundation (Rick considers me a "secular humanist" but my religion is actually The Habs)
The Washington Redskins Foundation (Throwing our host a bone)
Daily Bread Food Bank of Toronto (Toronto is my adopted city)
Despite all the tumult and bickering, here is a sincere wish your politicians will set aside their differences and come together to lead your country with courage and vision.
And here's to Rick, we agree on nothing but that doesn't have to mean we can't be friends.
Friends we are and will remain and I join him in his wish for leadership with courage and vision.
I paid my debts gladly, knowing that our wager will result in a small amount of people benefitting and that is a good thing coming as a result of what I consider a very bad thing, Obama's re-election.
Much has been written and will be written as to reasons for what's taken place but one of the most poignant for me, and dead-on in my view, comes from Dennis Sevakis, and more accurately, from Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s Harvard commencement address of June 8, 1978:
It is almost universally recognized that the West shows all the world a way to successful economic development, even though in the past years it has been strongly disturbed by chaotic inflation. However, many people living in the West are dissatisfied with their own society. They despise it or accuse it of not being up to the level of maturity attained by mankind. A number of such critics turn to socialism, which is a false and dangerous current.
But should someone ask me whether I would indicate the West such as it is today as a model to my country, frankly I would have to answer negatively. No, I could not recommend your society in its present state as an ideal for the transformation of ours. Through intense suffering our country has now achieved a spiritual development of such intensity that the Western system in its present state of spiritual exhaustion does not look attractive.
However, in early democracies, as in American democracy at the time of its birth, all individual human rights were granted because man is God’s creature. That is, freedom was given to the individual conditionally, in the assumption of his constant religious responsibility. Such was the heritage of the preceding thousand years. Two hundred or even fifty years ago, it would have seemed quite impossible, in America, that an individual could be granted boundless freedom simply for the satisfaction of his instincts or whims. Subsequently, however, all such limitations were discarded everywhere in the West; a total liberation occurred from the moral heritage of Christian centuries with their great reserves of mercy and sacrifice. State systems were becoming increasingly and totally materialistic. The West ended up by truly enforcing human rights, sometimes even excessively, but man’s sense of responsibility to God and society grew dimmer and dimmer. In the past decades, the legalistically selfish aspect of Western approach and thinking has reached its final dimension and the world wound up in a harsh spiritual crisis and a political impasse. All the glorified technological achievements of Progress, including the conquest of outer space, do not redeem the Twentieth century’s moral poverty which no one could imagine even as late as in the Nineteenth Century.
I can conclude, to the chagrin of many I'm sure, that moral poverty is to blame for what took place on November 6. More particularly spiritual poverty. A poverty born from the abandonment of looking to God for wisdom and guidance and direction. A poverty that leads to far too many looking to government for their sustenance and needs and that has led to the re-election of Barack Hussein Obama.
We need to pray for this country. And there's no better a prayer I've found than that offered in this letter to the President by Archbishop Dolan, the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops:
Dear President Obama,
In my capacity as President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, I write to express my congratulations on your re-election as President of the United States.The people of our country have again entrusted you with a great responsibility.The Catholic Bishops of the United States offer our prayers that God will give you strength and wisdom to meet the difficult challenges that face America.
In particular, we pray that you will exercise your office to pursue the common good, especially in care of the most vulnerable among us, including the unborn, the poor, and the immigrant.We will continue to stand in defense of life, marriage, and our first, most cherished liberty, religious freedom.We pray, too, that you will help restore a sense of civility to the public order, so our public conversations may be imbued with respect and charity toward everyone.
May God bless you and Vice President Biden as you prepare for your second term in service to our country and its citizens.
Sincerely yours,Timothy Cardinal DolanArchbishop of New YorkPresidentUnited States Conference of Catholic Bishops