Brandon's Notepad

February 10, 2017

Crippled America


This is a short review of Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again, written by Donald J. Trump.

The election is over and Trump has been inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States of America. A lot of people are worried about what he is going to do next. Is he really going to build that wall on our southern border? Is he really going to deport all illegal aliens? What about the Second Amendment? Taxes? Health Care?

The good news is, he’s already told you what he’s going to do. That is, of course, if you’ve read his book. Originally published in 2015 under the title “Crippled America: How to Make America Great Again”, the name was changed in 2016 to “Great Again: How to Fix Our Crippled America”. This book embodies Trump’s platform as a presidential candidate, and it is his play book now that he’s in office. The best part (for everyone’s sake) is that the book actually makes him sound sane.

Want an example? In chapter three, Trump addresses his campaign promise to build a wall along our southern border to help stop the inflow of foreigners entering the country illegally. He starts by describing what he said in his speeches and how the media spun the story to make him look as anti-immigration as possible. He then sets the record straight, firmly stating in no uncertain terms that he is absolutely not against immigration, but is very much in favor of legal immigration. He also covers a bit of history, explaining how Cuba, Mexico, and other countries in Latin America have taken advantage of The United States’ generous reception of immigrants as a way to offload their own countries of undesirables. [Note: I have not fact-checked his claims at the time of this writing, but he references some fairly-specific events that should be easy enough to substantiate.] Moreover, he qualifies his vision of a new great wall with the admission that it will not be a single wall. “It doesn’t have to cover the entire border. Some areas are already secured with physical barriers. In other areas, the terrain is too difficult for people to cross.” (p. 24) In other words, its not really about building a single, massive wall, but about fortifying areas that are completely exposed. He notes that several States have already built walls for this purpose, and that even Mexico has built a wall to prevent immigrants from spilling over its own southern border. As for Mexico paying for the new wall, Trump does not intend to send them an invoice and hope they cough up the cash. It would be more accurate to say that the Mexican economy will pay for it, not the government. That is, of course, unless the Mexican government would like to improve relations with the U.S. Trump is a shrewd businessman and he understands money. It would be foolish to underestimate his knowledge of economics.

It would also be foolish to assume this is a completely accurate, much less, objective treatise on his views and ideas. After all, he wrote the book, so it is by definition a subjective work. In terms of accuracy, I am not implying that he has been dishonest in what he has written, but there are far too few pages in the book to adequately cover the spectrum of decisions and scenarios that he will face in the next four years. He can only hang his hat on campaign promises for so long, especially since he seems bent on fulfilling as many as possible in the first hundred days in office. Trump appears to be very transparent and he likes to keep things simple, but the life and work of the President is anything but simple. And just maybe we should be more concerned about what he hasn’t divulged than about what he has already told us.

Overall, it was a good, informative read, and depending on what kind of voice you use to narrate in your head, it was also entertaining. One of the most interesting bits in my opinion is how he describes his relationship with the media as “mutually profitable” and “two-way”. (p. 11) Someone with a bigger vocabulary might have selected the word “symbiotic”. I think the following excerpt goes a long way in explaining why Trump behaves the way he does:

“I don’t mind being attacked. I use the media the way the media uses me — to attract attention. Once I have that attention, it’s up to me to use it to my advantage. I learned a long time ago that if you’re not afraid to be outspoken, the media will write about you or beg you to come on their shows. If you do things a little differently, if you say outrageous things and fight back, they love you. So sometimes I make outrageous comments and give them what they want — viewers and readers — in order to make a point. […] The cost of a full-page ad in the New York Times can be more than $100,000. But when they write a story about one of my deals, it doesn’t cost me a cent, and I get more important publicity.” (p. 10-11)

Still wondering why he chose Steve Bannon as his Assistant and Chief Strategist?

I read the book just prior to election day. It seemed a little late to post a review, since no one would have a chance to take my recommendation and read it before casting a vote. But now, with the Left in a tizzy over what the orange, Fascist, racist hate-monger (their words, not mine) will do to dismantle Obama’s legacy and posture the United States as the planet’s ultimate and totally self-serving superpower, it seems more appropriate than ever to reveal what he has already told us.

November 13, 2010

Rerum Novarum

Home > Religion > Selected Papal Writings > Rerum Novarum


Rerum Novarum (“Of New Things”), the encyclical published by Pope Leo XIII in 1891, is a hallmark treatise on Catholic social justice. It explicitly supports the rights of laborers and the protection of private property. It describes the duties of workers, employers, the state, organizations such as unions, and Christian institutions, especially the Church. It has been noted that the princples are not new, but that this encyclical applies the traditional views of the Church to a new world, targeting specifically the social products of industrialization and the tenets of Socialism.



  • Both the Catholic Encyclopedia and the Wikipedia entries for Rerum Novarum quote ¶45.
  • Wikipedia also highlights ¶19, ¶20 & ¶22.
  • The Wikipedia entry notes that this document is a clear basis for the positions taken by Bp. Morehouse in The Iron Heel by Jack London, who wrote from the Socialist perspective.


Capital & Labor

  1. Revolutionary change has moved from politics to economics, and the the result is a degeneracy of morals.
  2. This document discusses and defines the rights and duties of the rick and the poor, of capital and labor respectively.
  3. A remedy must be found for the misery that has been imposed on the working class through the elimination of protective organizations (guilds), ungodly laws and the greed of a comparatively small number of rich people.
  4. The socialist answer is based on envy, unjust to both classes, and it distorts the functions of the state.
  5. The public assumption of possessions attacks the interests and motives of wage earners.

The Right to Personal Property

  1. Reason separates man from the animals; therefore, it is fitting and just that permanent possession to satisfy future needs be his right and not only temporary possession to satisfy immediate needs.
  2. Man should be able to own the soil so to thereby plan to meet needs continually. Man precedes the state.
  3. God gave the Earth for use by men and all subsistence comes from its produce, directly or indirectly.
  4. Cultivating the land impresses man’s personality on the fruits of labor.
  5. Denying the rights to the fruits of labor is unjust.
  6. It is commonly understood through reason that the division and private ownership of property is a natural law. This is supported by divine law in the commandment, “Thou shalt not covet.”
  7. These rights are made clearer with respect to the society of the family, which precedes and is therefore independent of the state.
  8. A father must provide for his family and should expect that his personality impressed in his labor be continued. The family precedes community.
  9. It is in grave error that a civil government take control over the family. Socialists replace home with state, against natural law.
  10. The community of goods must be rejected and private ownership of property upheld as a matter of justice.

The Solution

  1. Religion is an integral part of the solution. For the Church to remain silent on the issue would be negligent.
  2. People have different skills and stengths, a diversity that is advantageous to the community when each plays his part.
  3. From sin comes suffering which man must endure. He who denies this or seeks comfort in the world is not realistic and can bring forth worse evils.

Class Conflicts

  1. Classes (capital & labor, rich & working class) are not naturally opposed, but instead rely on each other. Mutual agreement promotes order in society.
  2. Duties binding the proletarian and the worker are enumerated in this paragraph:
    • Workers should do a good job, protect and respect property, maintain peace and order, and not follow men of evil principles.
    • Employers should respect the dignity of the employee, not misuse employee for gain, keep in mind the good of the soul of the employee and not overwork the employee.
    • Profiting at the need of others is condemned. (James 5:4)
    • Since the employed have meager means compared to the rich, they should be protected by the rich owner.
  3. With the afterlife in mind, the Church sets yet higher standards, to bind the classes in friendly cooperation. The suffering of labor too can be redemptive when united with the suffering of Christ. (2 Tim 2:12)
  4. Riches do not guarentee happiness, but more often hinders it (eternally). (Mt 19:23-24, Lk 6:24-25) We will be judged on our use of God’s gifts. Our excesses should be shared out of charity, a Christian duty. (Lk 11:41, Acts 20:35, Mt 25:40)
  5. Poverty and the need to earn a living are not shameful. (2 Cor 8:9) Jesus lived the life of a carpenter. (Mark 6:3)
  6. Virtue is the true worth of a man. (Mt 5:3) Indeed, God welcomes the lowly. (Mt 11:28) This supresses the pride of the rich and gives hope to the poor.
  7. The goal is brotherly love, not just friendship between the classes. We are brothers with a common Father. (Rom 8:17). If this were the goal of all, strife would end.
  8. The Church promotes these things through her teaching.

Christian Institutions

  1. Proven in the past, a return to Christian life, institutions, and principles is the way to heal society.
  2. The Church doesn’t neglect temporal insterests, as morality leads to blessings, restrains greed (1 Tim 6:10), and promotes frugal living.
  3. The Church creates and maintains associations to help relieve poverty. (Acts 4:34) Such giving is voluntary, and thus, piety.
  4. State charity cannot replace Christian charity, as it is void of virtue.
  5. Cooperation of all is needed and the state can play a part.

The State

  1. A ‘state’ conforms to reason, natural law and divine wisdom. A ruler has the power to serve the common good of all classes.
  2. The interests of all classes are equal to the state and neglict of one for another is irrational. Justice is ‘distributive’.
  3. All citizens should contribute, but not necessarily in the same way or degree. The success of society depends on the working class.
  4. The state must safeguard the community and its members, ruling after the example of God.
  5. Public authority under the law should be available to protect the peace, and its limits explicit and kept.
  6. The public authority has a duty to prevent and punish injury, especially that done to the poor.
  7. Protection of private property is a duty of the state.
  8. Strikes injure trade and public interests and may result in violence. The law should remove causes for worker-employer conflicts over time.
  9. The state should protect the interests of mens’ souls. All men are equal in the regard. Trading soul for servitude violates God’s divine rights. (Gn 1:28; Rom 10:12)
  10. Obligation to work should cease on Sundays and Holy Days so that man may worship. (Ex 20:8; Gn 2:2)
  11. Excessive labor is unjust. Man should not be pushed past his limits and should be allowed to rest, body and soul.


  1. Wages are freely agreed-upon. The public authority can help ensure payment for and performance of work.
  2. Self-preservation is natural law. Work is necessary to this end, especially for the poor. Inseparable aspects of work are that it is both personal and necessary. (Gn 3:19)
  3. Hard working conditions are the product of force and injustice. Societies and boards, protected by the state, should help safeguard workers.
  4. A sensible man’s wages should be sufficient to support the family with some left for the future. Private ownership must be protected.
  5. Private ownership promotes class equity. Men having a share in the outcome work harder. Unfair taxation by the state is cruel and unjust.

Associations, Organizations & Societies

  1. Establishment of organizations that aid workers in distress and their widows and orphans, and that provide for the welfare of the young and the old benefits all.
  2. Unions do all of these, and also advance the arts. They should increase in number and efficiency.
  3. Weak men know when to seek aid. Civil society is natural. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10; Proverbs 18:19)
  4. Private societies have a different purpose than public ones and provide advantages to members. A state that forbids the formation of private associations contradicts its own principles.
  5. Associations may be forbidden or dissolved if unlawful, dangerous, or violates individuals’ rights.
  6. Instead of protecting their interests, some (contemporary) state authorities have unjustly hampered Catholic societies and supported others that harm religion and society alike (trend).
  7. Some associations are under the power of ill-principled leaders. Christians must often choose between joining bad organizations or starting their own.
  8. Intrusion by the state into the affairs of an association can kill its spirit and motivation.
  9. An effective association must be guided by firm and wise leaders and to adopt appropriate rules and structure.
  10. Associations must attend chiefly to the religious and moral well-being of its members. (Mt 16:26; Mt 6:32-33)
  11. Responsibilities of offices should be apportioned for the good of the whole, funds administered honestly, disputes settled justly, a continuous supply of work arranged, and sufficient funds set aside to benefit members in need.
  12. Historically, the lives of Christians have been improved through hard work, obedience to rules that promote peace and justice, and brotherly love.
  13. The condition of the working class can be protected and improved by good organizations.
  14. Good unions are of great service and benefit to the spiritually lost.


  1. Last appeal for workers, leaders, and rulers to be mindful of their respective duties and a call for re-establishment of good organizations to combat evil at its roots.
  2. The Church will always be willing to cooperate. Charity is key. (1 Cor. 13:4-7)
  3. Benediction.

March 18, 2010

Conservative Political Movements

Short URL:
Back to My Lists

This is a list of individuals, groups, petitions and other political movements of the conservative bent that have caught my attention over time.

Manhattan Declaration: A Call of Christian Conscience. 2009 conservative manifesto signed by American religious leaders to affirm support for “the sanctity of life, traditional marriage, and religious liberty”. HomepageWikipedia

Catholic Advocate. Advocacy group that encourages “faithful Catholics to actively participate in the political process to support elected officials and policies that remain consistent with the teachings of the Catholic Church.” Publishes in print and hosts online a Congressional Scorecard that rates the voting records of “Catholic” Senators and Representatives on key issues. Fr. Benedict Groeschel has represented this organization in at least one fund drive. Homepage

Shelley the Republican. GOP blogger Shelley Goodman reportedly from Little Rock, Arkansas. Shelley’s main site STR † The Freedom Blog (via Wayback Machine) appears to have been active between November 2005 and June 2011, and there is a Blogger site with the same name with posts from October 2004 through September 2008. Shelley is a fan of the GOP, Sarah Palin, and Chuck Norris, and a strong opponent of Obama, atheism, and (of all things) Linux. There is some suspicion that the site is a parody (Snopes forum). RationalWiki

Tea Party. A decentralized and informal political movement in the United States initially funded by Republican Ron Paul that advocates the reduction of the national debt through cuts in government spending and taxes (i.e. limited government). In general, it avoids addressing social issues. It’s namesake is the Boston Tea Party of 1773.

Create a free website or blog at