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.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Marching Season: Roe v. Wade

Today is the second part of Marching Season in Washington, the annual street fight over abortion rights, birth control and their recent unlikely cousin, stem cell research. The Republican Party has got themselves a winner on this won. Happiness for a fundraiser is an issue which will never be resolved. There is no better form of job security in our nation's capital. Fundraising on this issue is more stable than feeding at the defense teet, since you can always find an enemy. I see no desire from either party to find a solution which both sides can live with. This is why I am toying with the idea of forming a Christian Libertarian Party (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Christian_Libertarian/).

Where is the center? you may ask. First, it is time to recognize that the whole "life begins at conception" is based in papism rather than medical or even historical catholic ethics. Life begins at gastrulation, where the cells of both parents are fully active in the development of the child. Before that point, the male DNA is simply going along for the ride. I did not exist until I was as much the son of my father as of my mother. Examining the science and ethics behind this position pretty much ends any objection to either stem cell research or artificial birth control base on anything more than papal fiat. For more on this, go to http://www.geocities.com/xianleft_michael/Contraception.html

This leaves us with a dilemna, one faced by many Christians on this issue - some of whom have succumbed to the Republican siren song (while some others are so firmly pro-choice as to almost favor abortion) - what do to about life after gastrulation.The first question is whether Roe is good policy. Given how a citizen is defined in the 14th Amendment to the Constitution - birth or naturalization, Roe seems inevitable. Given the 14th Amendment's transfer of authority on civil rights issues from the states to the federal government, overturning Roe is not an option. If there is a solution to this issue, it must come from the national government. This matter was settled by the Civil War and the Civil Rights movement. It is why both the rights of criminals and the rights of minorities (racial and sexual) are before the federal courts rather than state legislatures. Those conservatives who wish otherwise are trying to refight the Civil War. It is not really activist judges they object to, but rather federal authority in this area. It is the oldest debate in this country. Try as they might for change in this area, it ain't happening. For more on Roe, go to http://www.geocities.com/xianleft_michael/RoevWade.html

Now, what can Congress do? It can do quite a bit more than it is doing now. It could even go so far as to redefine the begining of citizenship under the 14th Amendment, although Republicans know that if they go too far on this issue they go back to minority status so fast it would make Tom Delay's head spin. A reasonable place would be to rely on the reverse of the standard legal definition of death, the end of cardiac function. If Congress were to define citizenship at the start of cardiac function it would most likely avoid riots in the street. Further, there are ethical arguments for symetry on this issue as being the best that can be hoped for. Whether this is good policy is another question. Most abortion providers engage in this ugly practice because the alternative for many women and girls is self-induced or black market abortion. Richer women and families will simply travel to a jurisdiction where abortion is legal, either an "abortion state" if Roe is overturned or an abortion country if it is not. Any attempt to restrict travel for this purpose would be clearly unconstitutional and would require the kind of police state that almost none of us want.

The Christian Left comes down differently on this issue. We seek the empowerment of youth and families to be able to afford a child - and to limit the amount of time parents are responsible for that child. If a 16 year old gets pregnant in this day and age it is usually her parents who are actually pushing the abortion on her. It should not be their problem. Rather, she and the father (provided it is not a relative) should be given the wherewithall to raise the child and still puruse their futures. Likewise, no family should have to face the painful choice of whether to kill their child or eat. This is the modern equivalent of sacrificing children to Baal for a good harvest. Rather, there should be a gauranteed income for all families that is sensative to family size. This is truly a Leftist solution - although I advocate for an income that is hidden within the wage for work or training rather than a direct tax benefit or transfer. For more on this go to the following:
http://www.geocities.com/xianleft_michael/abortion.html
http://www.geocities.com/iowaequity/SocialSecurityCrisis.html
http://www.geocities.com/iowaequity/taxreformproposal.html

Finally, the Church must accept its accountability as a causal agent for abortion. Its rampant condemnation of teen sexuality, which is counter-evolutionary, causes young women to seek abortion rather than the shame of an unplanned pregnancy. Its failure to more strongly preach against the dangers of wealth and its establishment of an elite high school system have produced a generation of entitled youth who think nothing of terminating a pregnancy. The Church has it within its power to offer both marriage and income to young couples who create a child. It is a sin of ommission that it has not exercised that power.

That's my opinion, what's yours?

Thursday, January 20, 2005

The Iraqi Insurgency - What is their motivation?

After a bloody day of terrorism in Iraq, I ask myself - what interests do the terrorists have in stopping the election? It seems they are taking sore loserism to a new height, since the Sunni's have no chance of ever gaining majority control in Iraq again. It can't be that. Is it that they blindly want to embarass the United States, because to them we are the great Satan? Possibly, although if this is their motive they are shooting themselves in the foot to spite their toes. I think the most likely hypothesis is that they are seeking a return of Baathist tyranny as part of some plan put in place by the old regime. This is at least worthy of investigation. If this is the case, it is yet another war crime to be laid at the feet of Sadam Hussein. I suggest that if this is the case, that Sadam be tried not by the Iraqis, but by the United States military for continuing war crimes. In essence, we should announce that Sadam will be held responsible for the insurgency with his life. If the insurgency wants to play the hostage game, it may be time to up the ante.

I offer this for your debate - if anyone is reading. I have also offered this to the White House, where at least an email clerk will read it and refer it for response. It is a novel enough question to be noticed, so watch the www.whitehouse.gov web site for a response. How's that for a headline for Al Jazeria, White House Considering Holding Sadam Responsible for Insurgents. This is one urban legend that might do some good if it stops the insurgency. I also suggested to the White House that Iraq be partitioned and that the Iraqi, Iranian and possibly the Turkish Kurds be allowed their own nation (as I suggested on this blog earlier this week).

So, is anyone out there?

Monday, January 17, 2005

MLK Day - Reflections on Reparations

I have written on Reparations on my web page at http://www.christianleft.net/SocialPolitics/RacialPolitics.html.

I posited that the federal government's responsibility for reparations was limited, the debt for slavery being cancelled by the blood of the dead in the Civil War - although reparations are needed for the Jim Crow policies begun by President Wilson and lasting for half a century until the civil rights movement. Of course, for those the Democratic Party should apologize. The case is somewhat different for state governments, especially to the extent that some of its citizens are unrepentent racists.

That was then. I now have something new to say on the matter. The reason for reparations is quite simple, it is so that the crime never happens again. The reparations for the Japanese served the purpose of invalidating the Supreme Court ruling allowing the internments. The reason Arabs cannot be rounded up in the same way is that for all intents and purposes the Congress has said that the internment of the Japanese was wrong. If it had not been for reparations we might be seeing a repeat of the 1940's. If something disasterous happens in Washington this week, Ashcroft or Gonzalez cannot simply round up an entire ethnic population citing Korimatsu. If it attempts to, the Arab community can point to reparations as an invalidation of that sad precident.

What has this to do with reparations for slavery? Two things: prison labor and peonage. While post-incarceration slavery is constitutional, and is in fact practiced at the state and local level, it remains wrong, especially given the energetic efforts on the part of some prosecutors to enforce African-American drug users and dealers.

Peonage is a major problem, present in not only the African American but also in the Latino community. Many workers are kept in virtual bondage, either through company store policies or as the result of trafficing deaths. The occurance of these conditions is not trivial, especially in the South. Peonage often occurs with the assistance of the local sherrif and the negligent enforcement of the U.S. Department of Labor.

The bottom line is, reparations are necessary not so much to repair the prior evil but to stop the current evils of prison labor and peonage. Given this purpose, the much needed apology demanded for slavery seems not so extreme. In fact, it is an essential first step down a road which leads to repeal of our draconian drug laws and the restrictions against giving decent behavior to the recently released, the ending of those provisions in TANF which continue to break up families (its time to give benefits to fathers) and enforcement of those provisions of law which are supposed to prevent working conditions more familiar in the third world or the nineteenth century.

For more information, go to:
http://www.christianleft.net/SocialPolitics/DrugsMentalHealthCrime.html
http://www.christianleft.net/SocialPolitics/EducationWelfare.html
http://www.christianleft.net/GlobalJustice/Fight4Justice.html

Marching Season in Washington: The Inauguration and the Anniversary

It is January in our nation's capital, which means marching season is almost upon us. George W. Bush is about to be inaugurated for his second term, with protesters expected from all sides of the left. Two days later the anniversary of Roe v. Wade will bring out its annual collection of protestors, pro and con. Like its counter-part in Northern Ireland, we can expect a lot of heat and not very much light out of this year's marching season.

With the President's inauguration will come both the loyal Bushies, many of whom are already here working in government or the military and a vast collection of causes from the left. The leftists will include those who disputed the election of George II, war resisters, anti-capitalists, AIDS and gay marriage proponents, pro-choicers and the occassional DC statehood activist. They will not be offering an olive branch. Their goal is to disrupt the festivities just enough to gain a share of the air-time surrounding the event. The spectre of Seattle looms on the horizon, so a few well placed acts of vandalism may accomplish what they seak (except then the story becomes the vandalism rather than the message - which feeds the perception that liberalism is a marginal cause). As an interesting aside, the big story may have well been a hotel strike. If any strike would have been perfectly timed to combine economic and political objectives, this one was it (of course, it could still happen if the rank and file reject the proposed contract).

There is so much going on with this topic, I have split the post up into several smaller articles. Read on and comment.

Inauguration Notes: The Bushies

Prominent among the Bushies is the religious right. Here you will find many who have come to town for both the inauguration and the Roe anniversary. Many of them are former Democrats who believe that legalized abortion is a cancer on the nation, demanding the retribution of angry God. They are also scandalized by a perceived decline in morals - as evidenced by the open acceptance of gay relationships in popular culture, as well as the saturation of sexual immorality on the airwaves and cable networks. I will deal with abortion below. As to popular culture, I don't quite believe that this generation is any more sexually active in either orientation than any that precedes it. The greatest generation did its share of whoring on leave, as did the doughboys who went "over there" in the first war.

What has changed is the empowerment of women, who expect the same sexual freedom as their male counterparts, the economic disempowerment of youth - so that horny teenagers and twenty-somethings who would have been married a century ago now simply fornicate because they cannot afford to live independently, and the magnification of all of this in the entertainment industry - which did not invade our homes until the invention of television (except in baudy literature, which has existed as long as writing). I discussed the media in my last article (see below) and I discuss how to empower youth on my web page at http://www.christianleft.net/21stCentury/Careers.html. In short, it is time to shift support of our youth from their parents to their prospective employers.

The right is also joined by its own elite, the wealthier types who care less about its social agenda (unless they make money manipulating it) and more about securing the economic gains of conservatism, including large military contracts and tax benefits for corporations and wealthy taxpayer/bondholders (who would rather receive more in interest than they pay in taxes). If you want to know more about how I would deal with the wealthy, go to http://www.christianleft.net/FiscalPolitics/economicstimulus.html.

I will talk more about militarism below.

Marching Season in Washington: Anti-bushies, gays and anti-capitalists

Most vocal among the left this year will be those who believe that the 2000 and 2004 election results were illegitimate. However nasty the dirty tricks may or may not have been, I have little sympathy for sore losing (and I and my 1 year old were out working the polls on election for John Kerry, thank you very much). The fact is, the premise behind both campaigns was flawed. Campaigns which seek to win on the margins tend to have marginal results. The Republicans have dominated the White House of late by reaching out to both their base and to the center, albeit by using divisive issues. If the Democrats had seriously contested Arkansas and Missouri and had addressed the concerns of red state voters at large, we would not be having this conversation. The overall strategy had John Kerry be the nominee. To indulge in my own bout of sore-loserism, General Clark would have done better in the red states (Baby Catie and I campaigned for him in the Virginia primary). If the Democrats are ever to regain the majority, it must reach out to the center, which is why we are having this conversation on the role of the Christian Left. For a Christian Left perspective on why Gay Marriage is necessary - and not just before a judge but before a priest, go to http://www.christianleft.net/SocialPolitics/GayRights.html.

I read in last week's Washington Post that the inaugural committee is planning on stiffing the District. This is nothing new for conservatives, who seem to think that District taxpayers somehow gain by federal domination and abuse. For more information on this, go to http://www.christianleft.net/DC/DCFinance.html and scroll down to the paragraphs on a legacy of broken promises.

Many will have an economic agenda against capitalism. I am not in favor of marching as a way to overthrow capitalism with something that is likely worse. I prefer to hijack the main domestic issue of the second Bush term, Social Security reform. If the Left were to insist that this lead to employee ownership and control rather than just an investment stream from multi-national corporations they might enter the debate more constructively. For more on what's in it for the Left in doing so, go to http://www.christianleft.net/21stCentury/unionowned.html for a discussion on corporate structure and economic assumptions and to http://www.christianleft.net/21stCentury/PayEquity.html for a discussion of pay equity.


Inauguration Notes - the War

The other vocal group from the left will be protesting the War in Iraq. Some of these will be socialists who actually admire the stalinism of Sadam Hussein. I have no respect for this position. Sadam was both a tyrant and an idiot and he deserved to go down. This is not to say that I agree with the way Mr. Bush has handled the war. He has put the American army in the role of imperialist occupier, largely based on a neo-conservative agenda in search of an enemy to justify the continued existence of the defense establishment. For those who hold this position, I will be with you in spirit as I sit in a dentist chair having a filling replaced. The Bush position is predicated on the untenable assumption that there is such a thing as an organic Iraq. Iraq is three peoples, the Kurds, the Shii and the Sunni. Rather than impose nation-hood upon these people, they should be offered the choice of independence or unification with those of similar culture and beliefs. It is past time for the Kurds of Iraq, Iran and Turkey to be given a common state, either on their own or within Iraq, Iran or Turkey. The Shii should be offered the same choice, independence, federation in Iraq or unification with the Islamic Republic. As to the Sunnis - we need not go where we are not wanted. If they truly desire to live in a Baathist dictatorship, then we should allow young Mr. Assad to accomodate them. The other alternative is to leave the whole matter at the feet of the Hashemite throne. King Abdullah of Jordan will be seen as an honest broker in this situation in a way that George Bush will never be. My web page on Iraq also deals with this situation, as well as the limits of the U.N. and the problems with American militarism. Go to http://www.christianleft.net/WorldPeace/Iraq.html for more on this topic.