This blog started out as a companion piece to my book, Musings from the Christian Left (excerpts of which can be found in the July 2004 link) and to support a planned radio show. Now, its simply a long term writing project from a Christian Left Libertarian perspective (meaning I often argue for liberty within the (Catholic) Church, rather than liberty because the church takes care of a conservative view of morality.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Links 06-30-16 by MSW in NCR

https://www.ncronline.org/blogs/distinctly-catholic/links-063016  by MSW. MGB: When Conservative Christians say religious liberty, they mean religious power for their own authoritarian style of democracy. They think nothing about dumping on the Muslims. This is not hypocrisy, its worse then that. It's putting group identity before God.

I suspect the no votes from the left were about the control board and its likely undemocratic ways. After Flint, what could go wrong? As for the right, pure campaign contributions - they were bought and paid for.

Pat Summitt was the best. I had hoped she would coach my daughter, whose mother works for the University and who is getting tall like her maternal grandfather. Alas, it is not to be. There is no higher praise than wanting your kid to be coached by someone, because you are admitting they are a better version of you. May she rest in peace.

Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Nate Silver by MSW in NCR

https://www.ncronline.org/blogs/distinctly-catholic/matthew-mark-luke-john-and-nate-silver by  MSW.  MGB: Nate Silver's computer analysis simply duplicates a careful eyeballing of the most reliable polls in each state. Generally, you throw out the really partisan Republican ones, like Rasmussen, which are more push poll than scientific measurement device. Just by looking at the last poll in late October of 2012, I came up with the same state by state for the POTUS (I did not bother with the House and Senate). Sadly, the world is not beating down my door.

As Nate and I will both tell you, it is too early to tell who will win. The election will not be held today. The debates have not happened. If you want to offer odds, my odds-on pick is that someone will convince Trump that he will be killed in the debates and that he should beg off. He can only do worse. Of course, his ego won't let him do that, so I will be looking at the early November results after the last debate to see whether Trump will win any states at all. It may be Hillary's to lose, but it is Trump's to be driven into the ground.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Puerto Rico legislation passes Senate | National Catholic Reporter

Puerto Rico legislation passes Senate | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: I suspect that if there had been no bill, the Archbishop would have counseled the Commonwealth government not to pay the creditors first - nor is it likely that a judge would give that order. Solidarity gave them a position of strength, which is why the creditors finally realized that this was their best bet.

Links for 06/29/16 | National Catholic Reporter

Links for 06/29/16 | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB:I will join you in praising Lori. If any matter is pro-life, it's climate change. If only he looked at higher child tax subsidies in the same way.

Cupich is right and the right-wing ChurchMilitant, which is more authoritarian than Catholic, is wrong about both the NRA and I suspect, Muslim religious freedom.

Trump is no more likely to win than Romney was. The GOP leadership got in bed with the authoritarians long ago, even in the grass roots. Unless a huge number of Bernie people vote for Trump (and I don't see that at all), Hillary has this - probably more securely than the Main Stream Media would ever want to admit in late June.

Four challenges for the pro-life movement | National Catholic Reporter

Four challenges for the pro-life movement | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: I would have voted with the majority on the Court and against the law in Texas because it clearly did not meet the undue burdens test established by O'Connor and supported by Kennedy. This case never had a chance. It was the pro-life movement "looking busy." As for MSW's rationale for voting with the minority - that these should be state decisions - the answer is absolutely not, never, no. Equal protection matters have the last call in federal court for a reason. States are horrible in protecting the rights of minorities, especially women - and by minorities, I mean people not favored by the upper crust of society, regardless of numbers. Whites are likely soon a minority in the South, but they have found a way to keep power. Men are a minority, same thing. Federal common law should tilt towards the less powerful - and that is not those who favor abortion legislation. This attitude that states should be dominant on this issue must be excised from the pro-life movement for the simple reason that no justices believe it - not even Thomas. And shame on Alito and Roberts for voting on ideological and religious grounds rather than on the law and precedent.

I agree on the Washington State case that capitalists have no conscience rights, provided individual clerks are not forced to do something they object to (if only that were true with everything in business). Of course, I also believe that the evidence demonstrates that life begins at gastrulation, so there is nothing morally objectionable about Plan B. The issue is, of course, past its prime. Last I checked, Barack Obama is not running for the White House and Hillary does not need wedge issues to get liberal, and even conservative, women to vote for her.

The Democratic Party Platform is an interesting development. With a female candidate and a very strong NEA/NOW delegate base, it is not surprising - which means it does not mean much. Of course, I wonder about the pro-life Democrats. Their hearts are pure but they are no more welcome in the movement than any non-Republican. They need to strongly highlight economic measures to prevent abortion rather than hoping for the impossible dream of the state using the criminal law to somehow limit it. Monday's decision essentially put most of those issues into stone - the only one open being an effort by Congress to pass a law on abortion resetting the personhood limit - but that likely won't be in the first trimester or even anytime that the fetus could be born but still require life long supportive care. A law that says 28 weeks is essentially ratifying the status quo - and the pro-life side would hate that because it would kill fundraising. The pro-choice side would too.

I am not sure Cuomo has had his shots, so kissing Donohue is out of the question. That LifeSiteNews and Bill are against gay sex, which is always for pleasure/unity (sex for domination is not, technically speaking, consensual homosexuality). They don't like that as a motivation for straights either. Too bad. It is in our DNA and we will keep doing it. Efforts to stop it have never worked. Even regulating it with marriage has had dubious effect. As far as using genetic tests to abort, you can't. Epigenesis is not genetic, its an adaptation that is likely but not certain due to genetics and it happens late enough in the first trimester to make gays and lesbians safe from gender selective abortion. LifeSiteNews is another group that should be demanding more money for families. They don't. They are obsessed with thwarting sex for pleasure (an evolutionary trait). The different route for the pro-life movement, however, is to accept and celebrate sexuality (even and especially teen sex - as some teens abort so as not to be found out as sexually active) and fund every family, young or old, whenever a new child is born, to the tune of $1000 per child per month through tax credits to employers distributed with payroll. I doubt the movement has the courage to do that - even to the extent of convincing their supporters to go along. While it would be nice if the bishops adopted a wage hike for every new child, without waiting for tax law changes, I am not going to try to hold my breath until they do. Sadly, there is no bang for the bucks from donors for standing up for people who need more income.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Links for 06/28/16 | National Catholic Reporter

Links for 06/28/16 | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: I suspect that if P.R.'s government promised to ignore any order to pay the hedge funds first, they would change their tune quickly - or if the Court stayed any orders while the legislation was pending. Debtors always have the upper hand, if they are only bold enough to use it.

The rule of law means that how we make policy is important - whether it is abortion or immigration. The ruling was not on the merits of immigration but on presidential power. The last immigration bill was no gem. It was way too punitive. The Democrats, when they return to power next year, need to do an immigration bill that is not at all punitive and has a much shorter path to citizenship. It's time to kick some sand in the GOP's face. These thing happen in God's time - and sometimes the time has to be right.

Splenda may cause cancer if you overuse it. Water is a great drink. I have found that the best way to deal with weight gain and clothing is to update my wardrobe - although low carb diets work too - but that is another higher power thing.

Nothing on SCOTUS? I am shocked.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Links for 06/27/16 | National Catholic Reporter

Links for 06/27/16 | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: I am not surprised that a Democrat is shilling for the vulture capitalists. It's why I feel the Bern. As for July 1st, its only a deadline for the people who want money from Puerto Rico. I somehow don't care about them.

I would rather that idiots like Pilon speak out so that we know not to put them on any commissions studying sexual doctrine and can avoid them in Confession. He has a right to his opinion - just as those of us who want more action from the left. The truth will win out, as I imply in my comments from this morning.

The Monsignor's life would be easier if Francis did not speak off the cuff, probably because people tend to start asking embarrassing questions about Catholic doctrine, like I did this morning in my comments. (MSW: Call your office). The Pope's comments on the validity of marriages where one party is willing to leave if they are made unhappy are correct in how we define marriage - although I suspect they are the reason to end a marriage rather than call it void from the start.

Pope Francis does it again! | National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis does it again! | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: There are three motives for sex which are wired in our DNA through evolution: procreation (since the first sexual organisms), domination (mammals) and pleasure (benobos). Any natural law based morality must take this into account or it is simply circular reasoning. The fact that both our evolution likely comes through benobos (who really like sex - of all kinds) and that gay sexuality seems a regular instance of epigenesis means both sex for pleasure and homosexuality are natural - and all natural things are a gift from God. Indeed, that last sentiment was leading straight to gay marriage, leading St. John Paul and Cardinal Ratzinger to say, quite incorrectly, that homosexuality was disordered. That all depends on whether you accept the natural order as something besides a CDF sophistry. I do not.

The welcoming thing about the latest from Cupich and Francis is that contrary views to the disordered hypothesis (which is wrong) can now be discussed - and not just pastorally. Saying we will only deal with the pastoral solution is still allowing error in our doctrine. Allowing that challenges the notion that we have doctrine at all, or that it is to protect the status quo - as the atheists like Dawkins, Dennett and Hitchens (God rest his soul) indicated. Let's strike a blow for rationality in natural law and honor our benobo ancestors by accepting that sex for pleasure is both right and good. (The rest of us already know this, by the way).

Friday, June 24, 2016

Links for 06/24/16 | National Catholic Reporter

Links for 06/24/16 | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: There is not practical difference between the Center and the Action Fund except tax id numbers. What was said still represents what they believe, in general terms.

Trump 1.0 was about getting the nomination. Trump 2.0 is yet to be revealed. The Donald says his prior proposals are just suggestions, but how he said it is as important as what he said. I don't see how he can walk this one off.

Milbank did not talk about how we need a high energy campaign, but how much is at stake for those of us of semetic origin. At least he has not started talking about gypsies.

The old joke is that the Catholic Church is real and true because we have survived the bishops trying to destroy it for 2000 years (or 1900 at any rate). Because the issue was presidential power, particularly this president, I am not shocked at the lack of reaction. I'd give it a week until some of the good guys speak.

The British still have Britannia in the Commonwealth. Expect efforts to beef it up as an organization.

DAPA and Brexit: Is the Left up to the challenge? | National Catholic Reporter

DAPA and Brexit: Is the Left up to the challenge? | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: This election will be a demonstration of Donald Trump's manifest unfitness for office (or even the CEO position in his own company). It is good that David Cameron resigned, as the Brexit vote was as much about his austerity regime as it was the E.U. Of course, the problem is the Tories as a whole, not just Cameron. The Brits were only half in the E.U. as it was, having never adopted the Euro - not that the Euro without a continent-wide debt and income tax regimen was any good thing. This is a wake up call for the continent, who needs its own Hamilton.

We dodged a bullet in 2014. The immigration bill was not the one we needed. It was much too punitive and I am glad it did not pass. The challenge of both gun control and immigration reform is to win in both houses of Congress and pass real progressive legislation - one with courage on guns and no punitive measures on immigration.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Links for 06/23/16 | National Catholic Reporter

Links for 06/23/16 | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: I still like my religious liberty point the best - that the Church wants religious power, not religious liberty. As for the ACLU case, I offered my reasons both the day it was mentioned hear and today - that there are some cases where the hierarchy is simply wrong about the morality of what must be done and that not doing so is cowardice, not piety.

One should never assume safety when dealing with one's own children. Never. Still, Archbishop Cupich does a good job in showing we are trying to get there. I don't know who I would give the red hat to first, Cupich or Gregory. How about both/and.

Actually, NARAL is what the NRLC and the USCCB is to the GOP. California will be California, even with a Catholic governor. The people in the bowels of HHS who are in charge of state compliance are not political appointees. They will find some way to make sure the law is enforced and they don't care about NARAL.

Anti-Catholic bigotry at the Center for American Progress | National Catholic Reporter

Anti-Catholic bigotry at the Center for American Progress | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: Actually, in the world of issues, this is a small one and one in no danger of going anywhere. It is coalition moment, as you pointed out - which is exactly what the right to life movement is for the conservative side. CAP joining with the ACLU won't affect the outcome of the case.

A few details do need to be addressed. First, Medicare and Medicaid pay the hospital, not the patient - which is why we have a Hyde Amendment. If the patient got the check, he would be responsible for the entire bill instead of it being paid in full. Relatedly, the equipment is actually paid for by overhead, all of which is funded by public and private reimbusements and other bills - no one fundraises for an MRI or cotton swabs.

You must understand, for a significant minority of people, abortion is just a medical procedure without a second life involved - especially in the first trimester. The rest of us don't agree but most think it is not an earth shattering issue. They are probably right.

Where the Church really gets it wrong are in those cases where the woman does need the procedure - not just when the fetus or embryo is already dead (a normal miscarriage - although the procedure is called an abortion) - but when the pregnancy could kill the mother or when the child is doomed to never be born and an earlier termination - even if by induction - would be healthier than the risk of a later birth. It is at this point that the bishops moan about not playing God, but doctors do that all the time when the prolong life.

Finally, as I said yesterday, the reality is that for late term abortions, the Church has too choices. Allow women to go to abortion clinics that do late term procedures, which are violent, or deliver the baby, baptize it and maybe adopt it out if it is simply a Downs baby. The moral cowardice of the hierarchy does actually result in those procedures which make for such great posters in the March for Life. They could stop these but they won't. Cowards. Abortion, like poverty, will always be with us. The question is how do we want them to happen?

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Links for 06/22/16 | National Catholic Reporter

Links for 06/22/16 | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: The main and only question on DAPA is not how we feel about immigration - or even how the justices feel about it. It is whether it is within the discretionary power of the President to not enforce the law for a certain class of people rather than taking cases in order with no special provisions. That is a question both of equal rights and of presidential discretion, not on whether the populace approves of immigration or not.

Archbishop Gonzalez is calling on solidarity in dealing with the current crisis in Puerto Rico. This comes as the Supreme Court makes it clear that the island is not dually sovereign and is therefore a colony. While Puerto Ricans in the United States (and for that matter, Anglos in Puerto Rico with a U.S. address) have full political rights, the mother island does not. It needs that help right now as the Control Board suggests potentially difficult changes - even as it tries to secure the island's future.

The key to understanding the Fortnight for Freedom is that is bemoans not a loss of religious liberty (the Church can teach what it wants), but religious power - even over non-Catholics in its employ (whose religious liberty rights they are actually wanting to abuse). Gone are the days where the people in the pews back the play of the bishops. That is probably a good thing - because very bad things happen under the rubric of Catholic religious power - and I am not even talking about child abuse. Luckily, the Sisters will stop them now before they do any real damage (especially on health care).

Mark Gehring gives us the good news on individual bishops who stand up for diversity. Of course, Atlanta would be one of these as Wilton Gregory knows a thing or two about being the target of discrimination. He should have a red hat. Props too for mentioning Sr. Carol and her role on the ACA. As I predicted, she is on point when it is needed - this time with the ACLU suit (which has zero chance, by the way - although for late term abortions I would rather see an induced birth with a baptism at a Catholic hospital than butchery at a clinic that does late term procedures). Bravo for mentioning Bishop Lynch of Orlando as well. The problem with bemoaning the loss of religious power is not only that it divides the conference, but that it is fighting for something that should not be on the agenda anyway. Moral power is what we need from the Church, not a valuable place for it in the Republican coalition with its annual publicity stunt, which only keeps people out of Mass the Independence Day weekend.

I am pleased that the Newman Center to be sponsored by Notre Dame (which is joyful enough on the whole Obama degree flap) but that it will be run by an experienced litigator who is now a priest - indeed one of the best and brightest of both worlds. Expect honesty over dogma and a much better memorial to Blessed John than that provided by the Cardinal Newman Society. It is grand that they are including music in their outreach instead of having it be an after-thought. It will be a great home-away from home for the Fighting Irish doing a semester in Ireland.

Can we stop the Constitutional idolatry? | National Catholic Reporter

Can we stop the Constitutional idolatry? | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: Where to begin?! I could just say stick to theology and leave the constitutional analysis to lawyers and political scientists, but you have a right to an opinion on amending the Constitution. It's in the document in two places - the First Amendment and Constitutional Convention Clause in Article V.

I guess we can start with the Fortnight for Freedom. The bishops are whining because Valerie Jarrett set them up and they took the bait. Obama is not running and contraception is all but settled. They need to let go of the bone. Of course, the larger issue is that they want religious power, not religious freedom, including the power of moral scorn (which their members would echo - like that's happening ever gain). This power carried some weight in the 1950s. (It's probably why Lenny Bruce is dead). Thankfully, the Court found everyone else had a superior right to tell the Church where to get off and the Bishops look like white racists who can't get over the loss of their southern manhood to civil rights. Its pathetic and should stop.

The Constitution does expand, by the way. Gay marriage was found to exist in the basic right of marriage under Loving v. Virginia. Moral scorn against gays can no longer stop it and should not stop ENDA. That is also where we got a right to abortion - which resides in due process, not in the emination of penumbras of the Ninth Amendment - which is the right to be left alone in one's private decision making - a zone where legislators have no place passing laws. Of course, on abortion, Congress can move the bar and make recognized life begin at 28 weeks. Anything before that and you are protecting a fetus that cannot life outside the womb, either at all or without long term complications. You also lose abortion as an issue because no one gets out the vote or sends money to an issue that is solved.

Congress could actually ban assault weapons. States certainly have the power to and one just did - and the Court went along with it. They just don't have the votes in the House and Senate. Like abortion (on both sides), legislators are afraid that gun rights voters will primary them if they show sanity. That is a voter problem, not a constitutional problem and it ain't necessarily so. As for muskets - the modern day equivalent is the AR-15 - or the M-16 and members of the militia - the National Guard - have them. There is no need for anyone else to. You could collect most, if not all, guns as a public safety measure - even without warrant - and it would be constitutional, but the voters would be pissed. Like I said, it's a democracy problem, not a constitutional problem.

Everyone talks about getting rid of the Senate and the Electoral College, but it is hard to imagine Texas and Arkansas in the same national - or even regional government (that's constitutional too, by the way) without giving states and equal vote in one house. The problem is more likely that we need more robust regions with their own taxes (I suggest a VAT), regional caucuses and regional vice president to run most domestic affairs. Only the regional VAT would require a constitutional amendment. Congress could do everything else - indeed, the President can do a lot of it now. The advantage here is that one state cannot stop all action in all regions - although a minority party might - depending on the rules of the regional Senate caucus. Nothing can be done about a stupid majority, of course, except replacing it by election.

This is the point of veneration of the constitution. Most people who care like the rules the way they are. They were not only agreed up (and not even unanimously), but continue to receive agreement - at least among elites who could do something about changing it. The reason we don't have Article V conventions, by the way, is that the same party committees that elect the members of Congress and the Senate also elect the members of the state assembly. There will be no convention or 1000 amendments blooming.

This is not unlike most of our major credal dogma (exempting the pelvic stuff, which is natural law based and therefore based on understanding). Most of it is seen as true because we agreed upon it and continue to agree upon it. We have no proof either way. That is not possible when talking about God. I am not saying that the Constitution is like God, but the belief's are held on the same basis - mass agreement. Where agreement is flagging (like on pelvic issues, especially contraception), doctrine, or even dogma, cannot exist forever. One are where there is dogmatic movement is on the Crucifixion and what it accomplished. The St. Anselm angry God view is yielding again to the Augustinian view that God cannot be bribed. That is especially true in this era, but the hierarchy is as slow to act as those who keep the Constitution in place. Questions?

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Links for 06/21/16 | National Catholic Reporter

Links for 06/21/16 | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: The small enterprise model buys into the Calvinist notion that if only the poor had initiative, they would not be poor. Making a few dollars as an Avon lady is one thing. Running a real business of any size takes education, which is vastly more expensive than setting up a small enterprise - both here and in the third world.

As I said earlier this afternoon, the Trump phenomenon is authoritarian. Racism does not bother authoritarians - but there aren't enough of that ilk for Trump to win the White House - and possibly not even a single state. Of course, people may be secretly authoritarian in the voting booth, but I doubt enough of them will - especially the women. Donald Trump may love women, but by and large they don';t love him.

Is it even legal to give away and assault rifle? ATF, call your office. Hopefully, this craven partisanship will signal an end to this yahoo's career.

Can Trump win? | National Catholic Reporter

Can Trump win? | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: It's not that Trump can win this, it's that Hillary can lose it by beating herself. I think she learned her lesson in 2008, so this is not likely. There is unlikely to be an indictment unless it is of her webmaster - and that is not usually done except for a serious breach of security. Unless Jill Stein lowers Hillary's number in states she should win, which is higly unlikely, Hillary has the momentum.



The odds are that Trump will likely keep making gaffes until election day. He would have to have three gaffe free debates and that is more unlikely than Hillary having one gaffe.



There is a strain in conservative ideology that thinks government should be run like a business. This strain is why people want billionaires like Ross Perot, Michael Bloomberg or Mitt Romney. The problem is that the extreme example of this strain is Donald Trump. This desire has the whiff of authoritarianism - the ability to force things to be done without the usual politics. Again, Trump is the extreme example. Luckily, we have never actually seen this in practice. Ike was the closest as a military general (some of our 19th Century generals were abject failures) - and he had heart attacks, the job was so stressful for him. Of course, generals are used to the give and take of Congress and the bureaurcracy. Executives are not. That Trump is not is apparent with every time he opens his mouth. While anything is possible with an open microphone, I suspect that this will be a wipe out like Nixon in 72 or Reagan in 80.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Links for 06/20/16 | National Catholic Reporter

Links for 06/20/16 | National Catholic Reporterby MSW. MGB: Cancelling the meeting with bondholders is not a bad thing if it puts pressure on the Senate to pass the House bill. If the Governor wanted to meet with bondholders, it would happen, so maybe some of the bondholders are having second thoughts. Cancelling the meeting is appropriate hardball.

I swear that bluster form idiots like Trump probably ruin more good intelligence operations, if only because the FBI Director has to make clarifications to stop mob violence by Trump's little fascists.

There is a new conservatism and it is all Donald Trump and his reactionary supporters (with their reactionary party). Conservatism is about slow change. The new conservatism is Clinton, not anyone in the GOP. I disagree that the party of the soul must be center-right. The center-left or the extreme left is a good place for it. As for rituals Thanksgiving dinner, the modern version is a recent creation - just as Christmas is (the latter was traditionally a Bachanalia, even in Christian times. In the end, it is the Church who should unite us as a community of souls. That it is more difficult to do so in the age of Trump should clue some on the right that this is also the age of Francis.

Hats off to Bishop Estev for representing and for saying the word gay. Lets hope the drum beat shuts up the people who believe their own circular reasoning on sexuality so they can start dealing with the real world. And kudos for going after the guns.

Cupich is correct and that lessening hatefulness helped give rise to the gay marriage movement and the reaction by Cardinal Ratzinger, also of the CDF, that gays are disordered (without pointing out that the natural order is a philsophical construct - it does not really exist - if you disagree, point to it - Heaven, Hell, Heck, the mind of God (can't be that because then God could be damaged) - only in the minds of the CDF and its adherents does it live).