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.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Links for 04/29/16 | National Catholic Reporter

Links for 04/29/16 | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: Catholic and non-Catholic businesses treat ethics as aside issue, along with equal opportunity and tax compliance.  A real examination of ethics in business would get real Marxian, real fast, addressing both wages structures and the impact of trade.  Employers would find any graduate schooled in such subjects unhireable.



AfD is a fascist organization - which is why - although other Germans condemn it - no one is going out of their way to challenge them too much - or to say bad things about Trump.  Pity, because the only way fascism ever succeeds is when people try to talk around it rather than standing up to them.



In the world of real capitalism, anyone who invested solely in Puerto Rican bonds deserves the haircut that they are going to get, although anyone who is Puerto Rican who did invest poorly should be held almost harmless by the U.S. Treasury.  Until Puerto Rico stops paying bondholders, no bill will pass - and even then, it will be a less then optimal bill unless the President and the Senate Democrats play hard ball.

Dear Secretary Clinton: A Catholic appeal to the next president | National Catholic Reporter

Dear Secretary Clinton: A Catholic appeal to the next president | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: Immigration reform should be a top priority, but it should be much different than the last Senate bill.  Take the punitive measures out. Many undocumented workers have been trafficked.  Even before a bill, start a national push to give them the appropriate visas, enlisting local law enforcement in finding where trafficked workers are and reaching them with the good news.



There are already two tax systems - and the one paid by small business uses the personal income tax rates, which could be lower or higher, depending on revenue size.  Tax reform should get rid of  the business income tax and replace it with a value added tax, both a Goods and Services Tax for domestic discretionary spending (civil and military) and a Subtraction VAT for social services (replacing payroll taxes, most personal and corporate income taxes) and enacting an income and inheritance surtax for those with higher incomes.  Part of this reform should include a huge increase in the child tax credit, which should be distributed, not as an end of the year windfall, but as a large increase in pay for families with children. Now that would be pro-life.



Also on abortion, Clinton should tell the truth - the the pro-life/pro-choice duopoly is playing politics with Supreme Court appointments at the same time that seven justices (including Kennedy, Alito and Roberts) consider Roe to be settled law.  Most appellate judges think the same way, as do most lawyers.  Those who say that Roe was wrongly decided are simply outside the mainstream.  Any solution to the abortion controversy will exclude first trimester embryos (they are not yet fetuses) and will look quite a bit like the status quo.  She should promise massive assistance to Down Syndrome children and their parents and the pro-life side should consider that a win, fold their tents and go home.  And they should forget about going after birth control.  Catholic teaching on this ignores the science of embryology and should be discussed no more.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Links for 04/28/16 | National Catholic Reporter

Links for 04/28/16 | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: Boehner provides a unique insiders view of the candidates. If I were Cruz, I would not be happy. The most interesting part was the possibility that Biden may be used to break an unlikely Democratic deadlock. I am not sure how Biden v. Trump would be. There would certainly be plenty of gaffes (and I love the VP).



Cardinal Wuerl is dancing the fine line between defending the old order and supporting the new one, which is more of contextual than a formalistic view of morality. The moral order is a created concept - and how we know it is an individual enterprise, even inside Church teaching. That infallibility was not mentioned in the Exhortation is a good thing.



The selection of Fiorina shows how desperate he is to get the women's vote and how likely that may be with Trump alienating women right and left.

Trump's Foreign Policy Speech Channels Lindbergh, Wilkie and Nixon: Yikes! | National Catholic Reporter

Trump's Foreign Policy Speech Channels Lindbergh, Wilkie and Nixon: Yikes! | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: The Republican Party is in deep trouble.  Its candidate is a walking cult of personality and a proto-fascist who thinks that branding fixes all, that the Big Lie works.  Sadly, it does on occassion.  Luckily, Lincoln was correct, you can't fool all of the people all of the time.  I can visualize his budget now.  Revenue will be expanded to include "Tribute" from Europe.  Like that's going to fly.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Links for 04/27/16 | National Catholic Reporter

Links for 04/27/16 | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: Many religious voters are authoritarians and a billionaire campaigner appeals to those instincts, provided he is standing in solidarity with them rather than treating them how he treats his workers - which is a huge danger in the unlikely event he wins.  As for gay wedding cakes, abortion Trap laws and contraception - these issues are or will be done by June with none of them likley to allow conserative religious voters to save face after their previous losses.



MSW's link to Mark Silk is bad.  Use this one. http://religionnews.com/2016/04/26/trump-reed-abortion-republican-platform/  I agree with Silk that it is refreshing that Trump is telling the truth on some of these social issues, particularly Trans bathroom use (which is already being litigated - NC will be quickly and quietly acknowleding that their is void). Authoritarians will give him a pass, which is most of his and Cruz's voter base.  In reality, Trump is socially liberal, but sees no problem in sealing the deal for President by stretching the truth.  Some people live by shame and brand, others by guilt and consciences.  Trump is the prior.  I suspect on Sanders is the latter in this race.



Shafer is more timely than MSW gives him credit for, as he has announced his VP pick, Carly Fiorina, just today.  Trump's most likely pick is Cruz (who should have picked Rubio or Kasich in exchange for one of their delegates), although if he needs a few hundred, Trump migh pick Rubio in exchange for enough delegates for a first ballot victory.  As for the Democratic side, Warren and especially Sanders have to be considered - the latter to make Sanders behave for the rest of the race (and be rewarded for doing so) and to make him more compliant on the platform.

The I-95, Northeast corridor primary: Trump and Clinton romp | National Catholic Reporter

The I-95, Northeast corridor primary: Trump and Clinton romp | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: On the Republican side, Kasich and Cruz need to both lose Indiana to solidify Trump's path to victory. Trump is only late in understanding that he must have delegates who are for him - they only have to obey the voters in the first and sometimes the second ballot - which is how Cruz or Romney can win. If Trump clenches a first ballot victory, its over - although Cruz has eaned the right to write the platform - so expect the usual right-wing socially conservative drivel.



On the Democratic side, Sanders essentially released a statement saying he knows he can't win, will play nice and looks forward to having a large role in writing the Democratic Party platform. This is good for both unity and because Hillary really has little to say on the issues beyond the fact that she is qualified and will protect women's rights. We will see if she remembers what I told her about the right to life movement being a scam.



Voter turnout in a primary race that is essentially over says nothing about the general election and more about down ballot races in the primary. Pennsylvania will be an easy win for Hillary, even with pro-life women going for Trump (and that might not even happen, since Trump used to be proudly pro-choice and Clinton's Super PAC has the tape of him saying so. What we consider lying he considers good marketing. The voters are smarter than that. He's going down.

Links for 04/26/16 | National Catholic Reporter

Links for 04/26/16 | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: Victims are attracted to authoritarians to save them because they have lost touch with how to save themselves.  The Donald is just spoiled by being the kind of capitalist who expects obedience and thinks he is exercising leadership.  When he does not get it, he whines.



There is more than one kind of Methodist and I don't think Clinton and Warren are the same kind or are that driven by their religious convictions vs. their economic convictions - which are really different.  Buddy Hackett had an amazing piece about Methodists, but its not for a family newspaper.



We are now pretty much at the point where we need to convention plan in earnest.  Part of that plan is deciding just how much of the Platform Sanders gets to write and how much would be embarrassing if it were included.  Its going to take some negotiations and they have to be quick, since Sanders is going to continue his speaking tour through California (and the tour is not relevant if he is not an active candidate - Cali is where Socialist campaigns go to die, even in the Green Party).

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Donald & the Walmart Moms | National Catholic Reporter

The Donald & the Walmart Moms | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: I saw the Rhode Island speech while wating for an appointment yesterday. The Donald was his usual pathetic and fascist self.  The reason the WalMart mom's love him so is that he speaks as an authoritarian, which means they resume competence and authority.  He has neither.  He is the master of the Big Lie, a fascist tool.  Let us hope that Mr. Lincoln was right - you can't fool all of the people all of the time.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Links for 04/15/16 | National Catholic Reporter

Links for 04/15/16 | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: The meme about exiling Churchill's bust is so easily believed by the right wing because they prejudge  Obama - aka prejudice aka bigotry. How people feel about him on this meme is a good way to take their racist temperature.



Interesting stuff on Harriet Tubman.  Rachel Maddow has a piece on how the $20 bill had significance at many times in her life, including the fact that she requested and received an increase in her Civil War military pension from $13 to $20.



The opposition to bailing out Puerto Rico is both corrupt and racist, as we seem to be riffing on that theme today. I still think PR should take the bill by the horns and start defaulting on the vulture capitalists.

The limits of pacifism | National Catholic Reporter

The limits of pacifism | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: The ulitmate way to achieve passivism is world unity - starting with economic unity, moving to a common belief in human rights and lastly political unity.  Economic unity needs to happen on the company level, with employee and union owned multinational corporations and cooperatives giving equal ownership rights to employees on both sides of the border (say one new share each month) and payroll which provides an equal standard of living to all workers, no matter where they are.  Eventually, this will lead to economic parity and justice - which will help us avoid future wars - although gangs and nations of thugs will always require force to put them down, like any other rabid animal.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Links for 04/22/16 | National Catholic Reporter

Links for 04/22/16 | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: The "outsider" candidates remind me of people who want a constitutional convention for whatever reason.  They think that state legislators will heed their call, blissfully unaware that in most congressional districts, the member of Congress and the state senators and assembly members all serve on the same partisan committee.  The delegates serve their too.



The South Carolina falls on due process grounds, both by requiring registration for no compelling purpose (also, while feds can demand this, states cannot) and by making someone responsible for another's action.  People try to do that to parents and it is never allowed.  Corruption of blood goes both ways in the Federal Constitution.



Lets hope that the Cuban negotiations don't turn the Catholic Church into some kind of official church of Cuba (something Catholic prelates often desire, even now) rather than simply having the right to be left alone and to provide education and social services.  Viva!

Father Sirico Goes to Congress | National Catholic Reporter

Father Sirico Goes to Congress | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: That Fr. Sirico is invited to be an expert on anything shows that P.R. and funding is more important than truth.  As for Laudato Si', infallibility, even of the Magisterium, is not invoked because it does not exist and the Pope will not continue that little exercise in papal relativisim.  On the economic side, Sirico is wrong about knowledge and climate change - we can actually calculate the externalities that are left off the price.  We can then compute the amount of the carbon tax to add to prices, making prices an acurate measure once again.  This is what governments do.  Whether they should do so or go with a value added tax instead is a matter for tax experts like me, not Koch sponsored idiots like Sirico.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Links for 04/21/16 | National Catholic Reporter

Links for 04/21/16 | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: Petri's analysis is spot on on Syria, however one must as the question of when it is mandatory to go to war to stop a genocide? Syria has already bombed itself back to the stone age - and boots on the groud will help - but must they be American?  What is needed is a boundary redrawing and the installation of King Abdullah of Lebanon into Damascus - however that will likely require a military solution and the withdrawl of Assad (and the destruction of Daesh/ISIL).  Even the peace negotiated by Wesley Clark for Yugoslavia requred American and Russian military power.



The Solidarity Festival is a good start and a good example of boots on the ground activism.  Of course, the ideal is worker ownership so that the abuses mentioned here do not occur at all.



When Vigano came to America, I was hoping he would very publicly go after the bishops who ignored the Dallas Accords and whose actions around denying politicians the Eucharist bordered on sedition (which could have led to demotion of the Nuncio to Apostalic Delegate).  The evidence is that some bishops were removed, but not quickly enough and it is rumored that Vigano was protecting rather than removing them.  At least the use of Communion as a political weapon has stopped.  This Pope won't let it ever be restarted.  As for attacks by the secularists against the Church, all Valarie Jarrett did was give the bishops an opportunity to make fools of themselves (and with the bishops,their Republican friends) - they are the ones who took the bait and ran with it.  At least the latest Supreme Court action will end that bit of unnecessary controversy once and for all.  The best thing for the next Nuncio to do is to get certain bishops out of bed with the Republican Party, if that is not too much to ask.

Review: Kaveny's Prophecy Without Contempt, Part II | National Catholic Reporter

Review: Kaveny's Prophecy Without Contempt, Part II | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: The connection of goodness to material wealth by the Puritans is the start of the prosperity gospel and its later day prophet, Donald Trump, whose denomination evolved from the Puritans.  My people became Quakers and set out for Providence, generations later becoming Disciples of Christ, where some of my cousins are still a strong pressence.  The Disciples are interesting, because their goal is to duplicate the theology and practice of the early Church (according to the Bible of course - they don't quite get to pre-biblical Christianity and its explicit communism).  We don't all like the Glorious Revolution, as some of us have Plantagenet and Tudor ancestry and could have been called upon rather than the Oranges.  On the Jeremiad, unless it is used as a tool to perfect religion, rather than just civil society, it rings hollow. Of course, the best use of it in American history has been the Abolitionist Movement (and civil rights), the worst the self-serving pro-life movement, to which the bishops seem to flock for their own purposes (although at least they don't become rich or gain political office fundraising for it)

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Review: Kaveny's Prophecy Without Contempt | National Catholic Reporter

Review: Kaveny's Prophecy Without Contempt | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: The Spirit of Prophesy must be grounded in love or there is no point to it, whether it be love of country or love of your fellow religionists.  It is always based on present controversy, but is written in the future tense - both describing what will happen if it is not heeded and what life will be like once it is - in the Jewish tradition in "the day of the Lord."  Revelation was not about Rome, it was about the Gentile Church and was written by a Judaizer who seems to have come out on the wrong side.  Interestingly, we are waiting for his predictions to come true, though they have nothing to do with our time, or any other future period.



Any analysis of prophesy should be grounded in the ancient experience of it and move from there, including the time of the Apostles.   Some form of God should be intimately involved with it, however a large bit of it should discuss how the Church is performing.   It should, of course, take into account modern thought.  Not everyone has a problem linking the enlightenment with the Christian tradition.  Indeed, its easy.  The Thomistic and Aristotelian models of free will depend on the fact that in no place in the world is the attractive Good entirely revealed - which leaves each individual free to act.  The collection of those individuals must either resolve into the general will or the democratic will, with the general will being unanimous and the democratic will requiring force.



Having grounded in traditional moral philosophy and religion, we can move to the present day.  Whether harsh discourse is a good thing or not is a matter for prophesy to resolve.  Will it move us forward or will it lead us to death?  Are the harsh voices speaking in Christ or are they glorifying their own egos?  Do they speak truth or are they seeking favor, as the pro-life cause does?  What do they say about the Church?  If they love the Church, they must speak out when it commits error.  Most importantly, what do the modern prophets say about the poor?  Note that this is not the province of the educated - prophesy is gift, not something you get with a degree.  You know who has the gift by their fruits - by what they say.  If it is true, they are authentic.  If they lie, it will be clear.



The Internet has allowed many to be prophets, from established writers like MSW to freelancers like your not-so-humble servant. Some prophets run for President, like Bernie Sanders, while others, like Pope Francis, call us to holiness in a way no pope has done since St. John XXIII (holiness and loyalty to the Magisterium are two very different things, thus sayeth the Lord).  Those most holy put themselves on the line, like the Barrigan brothers and Archbishop Oscar Romero, who paid with his life for the gift or prophesy and received a martyr's crown

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Links for 04/19/16 | National Catholic Reporter

Links for 04/19/16 | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: Poverty statistics do not include income transfers.  The children are poor, but are likely not hungry.  Of course, to keep the children fed, individual economic activity stays under the table.  Switching from Food Stamps and TANF to an enhanced child tax credit will allow the underground economy to come out without anyone being in danger of losing benefits.  Of course, this may require ending the failed experiment of P.R. as a tax free zone, since federal taxes are better able to handle the tax load required.  Of course, the first thing they need to do is stop paying vulture capitalists, who will then demand the control board that is sorely needed.



Today is the day in New York.  Some private polls show Sanders is closer than the public polls show.  If the Sanders are smart, and they are, there have likely been a lot of independents reregistering as Democrats of late.  If that is the case, this will almost be like an open primary.  If we don't know who won in 12 hours, its a win for Sanders because he close.  In that case, California, here we come!



Pius VII is interesting (I had to look him up).  His relationship with the United States is probably a first as is his advocating republican government and democracy - although he did not advocate it enough to use it in the papal states.  He seemed to be able to adapt to the changing winds of politics with Napoleon, although some may criticize him for not earning a martyr's crown.  What is disappointing is that he did not stand strong against the forces of reaction in the Church in reference to the Inquisition and the Index.  Still, I wonder how he would deal with our evolving understanding of homosexuality and gay marriage. Would he affirm what most civilized governments are finding or stick to the old ways?  An interesting question.

What to make of the forced resignation of Tony Spence | National Catholic Reporter

What to make of the forced resignation of Tony Spence | National Catholic Reporter by MSW. MGB: Like anybureaucracy, the bishops want the Church to present a united front against LGBT rights.  The problem for them is, the Church itself - the people of God - does not agree. It will only get worse for them as Catholic families seek the blessing of the gay marriages of their children, siblings and parents.  Priests will seek the married life, sometimes in pairs, with or without return to the laity (some will certainly bless such unions) while younger people avoid ordination at all and seek the married life.  Sadly, there are those who equate being gay with being a child abuser, which is not at all the case.  Openy gay priests are no threat to anyone.  It is estimated that half the priests are currently gay, so the bishops are particularly sensitive about this issue, but in a bad way.  What we are seeing is both fear and sour grapes. Neither is worthy from those who claim to speak for Christ.  Their consistent message of bigotry and stupidity is worse than failing to keep up a united front.