It wasn't a normal Sunday in Catholic pulpits across America, as priests faced flocks touched by sorrow and rage after the release of a sickening grand jury report packed with X-rated details about decades of sexual abuse by clergy. At St. Thomas More Catholic Church in Decatur, Georgia, Father Mark Horak said he half expected empty pews, but was thankful that the faithful came to Mass. He openly addressed the crisis and urged the laity to speak out. "We should not be afraid to demand, of our leadership, fundamental reform," he said, wrapping up his homily, which was posted online. "Don't be afraid to demand it. But do it with love. Do it with love. Maybe with some anger mixed in -- but do it with love. Please." But something extraordinary happened in another Mass that day, according to a wrenching series of Twitter posts by Susan B. Reynolds. Reynolds is a Catholic studies professor at nearby Emory University's Candler School of Theology. One of her research topics: religious rites in the context of suffering. Reynolds posted about something that happened at the Mass she attended Sunday. After a sermon similar to Horak's, with the same appeal for the laity to act, "a dad stood up," she wrote. "'HOW?' he pleaded. 'TELL US HOW.' His voice was shaking and determined and terrified. His collared shirt was matted to his back with sweat," wrote Reynolds. "Jaws dropped. My eyes filled with tears. ... This is a big, middle-of-the-road parish in a wealthyish Southeast college town. In such contexts, it's hard to imagine a more subversive act than doing what that dad just did." One parishioner muttered, "Sit down." But the priest listened, and this unusual dialogue continued for several minutes. "I have a son," said the dad. "He's going to make his first communion. What am I supposed to tell him?" The posts by Reynolds exploded on social media on a day when many Catholics were posting commentaries on what their priests did, or didn't, say on the Sunday after the Pennsylvania grand jury report. Many Catholics were pleased that priests were candid and frustrated. Others were disappointed to hear bureaucratic "PR talk." Some were furious that all they heard was -- to use one common image -- "crickets." The wave of online reactions to "a simple plea by an angry dad" showed the depth of the pain many Catholics are feeling, said Reynolds, reached by phone. She received notes from friends about similar confrontations -- in Mass or afterwards -- in other parts of the country. In addition to her academic work, she said, "I am a mother and a Catholic. I am both of those things. I am a lifelong Catholic and this is what I do. ... This dad had the courage to stand up and speak for all of us." The drama continued the following day, when Pope Francis released a letter to the "People of God" about the grand jury report. "The heart-wrenching pain of these victims, which cries out to heaven, was long ignored, kept quiet or silenced. But their outcry was more powerful than all the measures meant to silence it, or sought even to resolve it by decisions that increased its gravity by falling into complicity," he wrote. "The Lord heard that cry and once again showed us on which side he stands. ... If, in the past, the response was one of omission, today we want solidarity, in the deepest and most challenging sense, to become our way of forging present and future history." The pope's letter -- after a painful silence -- declined to commit the church establishment to specific reforms or pledge that bishops and cardinals who hid crimes would suffer consequences, including being removed from ministry. The pope didn't name names or announce any resignations. He pledged that the church would repent, without saying how this would happen. People in the pews, said Reynolds, are listening and watching to see what their leaders are willing to do. Some are fed up. Some are ready to take action on their own. Something needs to happen. "Even the most faltering attempt to speak or to act is better than nothing, in a situation like this," she said. "Silence is not where you begin, with something this painful. Silence is what kills. Silence followed by more silence will be profoundly wounding."
If you've ever wondered how Russia became America's most fearsome enemy, long after that country gave up Communism, gulags, forced starvations and mass murder (all of which liberals were cool with), the answer is: This crackpot idea came from the same woman who blamed a "vast right-wing conspiracy" for Monica Lewinsky. The Russia conspiracy is classic Hillary, as detailed in my new book, "Resistance Is Futile!" Throughout her long and blemished public career, Hillary has always blamed her troubles on bad people conspiring against her. When her husband's mistress, Gennifer Flowers, stepped forward as Bill Clinton was running for president in 1992, Hillary blamed a former gubernatorial opponent of her husband, who "has now spent the last two years doing everything he can to try to get even, and it's a sort of sad spectacle." Bill later admitted to the affair. When Hillary callously fired long-serving White House travel office employees to make room for her friends' travel business, she responded to the public outcry by accusing the head of the travel office, Billy Dale, of embezzlement. To continue the charade, her husband's government criminally prosecuted Dale. The jury acquitted him after about three minutes of deliberation, but Dale was left jobless and nearly bankrupt. When Hillary's health care bill went down in flames, hurting the Democrats and leading to the first Republican Congress in 40 years, she blamed the media for having "bought into the right-wing attack." (You know how the media slavishly repeat conservative talking points.) As mentioned above, when her husband was caught for the millionth time molesting the help, Hillary blamed a "vast right-wing conspiracy." When DNA proved the story was true, she blamed the fuss in the media on "prejudice against our state" -- meaning Arkansas. "They wouldn't be doing this if we were from some other state," Hillary said. Even The San Francisco Chronicle hooted at that one. When she lost to Obama in 2008, she blamed the media's rampant sexism. In fact, a ham-handed liar like Hillary could only have survived in politics as long as she did thanks to the media's devotion to her. Quiz: When the Democratic National Committee's emails popped up on Wikileaks in July 2016, embarrassing her campaign and enraging Democrats, would Hillary: A) Apologize to Bernie Sanders for the DNC's horrible mistreatment of him; B) Demand an accounting of the inept computer security measures at the DNC; Or C) Invent a story about Russia conspiring against her? Answer: C. Russia had to become the next Linda Tripp, a mysterious enemy undermining our heroine. Hillary's campaign manager Robby Mook launched the Russia conspiracy theory on the eve of the Democratic National Convention on ABC's "This Week With George Stephanopoulos" -- because who better to ask the tough questions than a former top aide to Hillary's husband? Mook explained: "Well, what's disturbing about this entire situation is that experts are telling us that Russian state actors broke into the DNC, took all these emails and now are leaking them out through these websites. ... And it's troubling that some experts are now telling us that this was done by -- by the Russians for the purpose of helping Donald Trump." Stephanopoulos may not have burst out laughing, but, at the time, every serious journalist in America did. Right up until Trump drove liberals mad by winning the election, Hillary's Russia conspiracy theory was scoffed at throughout the media. A New York Times story described Mook's claim as an "eerie suggestion of a Kremlin conspiracy to aid Donald Trump." It was, the Times reporters said, a "remarkable moment." Even at the height of the Cold War, such an accusation had never been leveled by one presidential candidate against another. And yet, the Times dryly observed, Mook had cited nothing more than unnamed "experts." Los Angeles Times reporter Mark Z. Barabak also pointed out the unnamed "experts" and noted that Mook's "allegation" served two political purposes. It tainted Trump's boast that he'd get along with Russia and "also served the added benefit, from Clinton's perspective, of distracting from internal party divisions over the emails." Russian scholars and cyber-security experts dismissed the harebrained claim: "Experts: Hard to prove Russians behind DNC hack" -- USA Today "Why the Kremlin might not be the fan of Trump that it's said to be" -- The Christian Science Monitor A month later, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi held a conference call with nervous Democrats, urging them to push the Russian conspiracy theory and also to put out the word that "the Russians" might have altered the content of the emails. President Obama took the alleged Russian hacking so seriously that he told Putin to "cut it out." It was only after disaster struck and Trump won the election that the media decided maybe there was something to that Russia business, after all. As described in the book "Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton's Doomed Campaign," two days after the election, Hillary's communications team met for hours "to engineer the case that the election wasn't entirely on the up-and-up. ... Already, Russian hacking was the centerpiece of the argument." The entire Russian collusion gag was invented to assuage the potty pantsuit's embarrassment at having lost a second election that was fixed for her to win. In the two years since the media guffawed at Mook's claim, the public has been presented with no new evidence. All that's changed is that the media suddenly decided to demand that we all believe it.
"If anyone is looking for a good lawyer," said President Donald Trump ruefully, "I would strongly suggest that you don't retain the services of Michael Cohen." Michael Cohen is no Roy Cohn.
Tuesday, Trump's ex-lawyer, staring at five years in prison, pled guilty to a campaign violation that may not even be a crime.
Cohen had fronted the cash, $130,000, to pay porn star Stormy Daniels for keeping quiet about a decade-old tryst with Trump. He had also brokered a deal whereby the National Enquirer bought the rights to a story about a Trump affair with a Playboy model, to kill it.
Cohen claims he and Trump thus conspired to violate federal law. But paying girlfriends to keep past indiscretions private is neither a crime nor a campaign violation. And Trump could legally contribute as much as he wished to his own campaign for president.
Would a Democratic House, assuming we get one, really impeach a president for paying hush money to old girlfriends?
Hence the high-fives among never-Trumpers are premature.
But if Cohen's guilty plea and Tuesday's conviction of campaign manager Paul Manafort do not imperil Trump today, what they portend is ominous. For Cohen handled Trump's dealings for more than a decade and has pledged full cooperation with prosecutors from both the Southern District of New York and the Robert Mueller investigation.
Nothing that comes of this collaboration will be helpful to Trump.
Also, Manafort, now a convicted felon facing life in prison, has the most compelling of motives to "flip" and reveal anything that could be useful to Mueller and harmful to Trump.
Then there is the Mueller probe itself.
Twenty-six months after the Watergate break-in, President Nixon had resigned. Twenty-six months after the hacking of the DNC and John Podesta emails, Mueller has yet to deliver hard evidence the Trump campaign colluded with Putin's Russia, though this was his mandate.
However, having, for a year now, been marching White House aides and campaign associates of Trump before a grand jury, Mueller has to be holding more cards than he is showing. And even if they do not directly implicate the president, more indictments may be coming down.
Mueller may not have the power to haul the president before a grand jury or indict him. After all, it is Parliament that deposes and beheads the king, not the sheriff of Nottingham. But Mueller will file a report with the Department of Justice that will be sent to the House.
And as this Congress has only weeks left before the 2018 elections, it will be the new House that meets in January, which may well be Democratic, that will receive Mueller's report.
Still, as of now, it is hard to see how two-thirds of a new Senate would convict this president of high crimes and misdemeanors.
Thus we are in for a hellish year.
Trump is not going to resign. To do so would open him up to grand jury subpoenas, federal charges and civil suits for the rest of his life. To resign would be to give up his sword and shield, and all of his immunity. He would be crazy to leave himself naked to his enemies.
No, given his belief that he is under attack by people who hate him and believe he is an illegitimate president, and seek to bring him down, he will use all the powers of the presidency in his fight for survival. And as he has shown, these powers are considerable: the power to rally his emotional following, to challenge courts, to fire Justice officials and FBI executives, to pull security clearances, to pardon the convicted.
Democrats who have grown giddy about taking the House should consider what a campaign to bring down a president, who is supported by a huge swath of the nation and has fighting allies in the press, would be like.
Why do it? Especially if they knew in advance the Senate would not convict.
That America has no desire for a political struggle to the death over impeachment is evident. Recognition of this reality is why the Democratic Party is assuring America that impeachment is not what they have in mind.
Today, it is Republicans leaders who are under pressure to break with Trump, denounce him, and call for new investigations into alleged collusion with the Russians. But if Democrats capture the House, then they will be the ones under intolerable pressure from their own media auxiliaries to pursue impeachment.
Taking the House would put newly elected Democrats under fire from the right for forming a lynch mob, and from the mainstream media for not doing their duty and moving immediately to impeach Trump.
Democrats have been laboring for two years to win back the House. But if they discover that the first duty demanded of them, by their own rabid followers, is to impeach President Trump, they may wonder why they were so eager to win it.
Patrick J. Buchanan