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.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Ann Coulter's Attacks on John Edwards

Ann Coulter is at it again. The Post reports that this time she is attacking John Edwards and is oh so diappointed when it helps his fundraising. Duh, Ann.

Ann is nothing, if not consistent. She has made her fame in attacking the "liberal elite" while looking ravishing doing so. Sadly for her poor readers, it is a the myth that there is a "Hollywood Elite" that controls what the nation thinks. Rather, it is the rich largely Republican owned media companies (that also employer her) that are poisoning the nation's values.

First, let us trace the perception of an elite. The Hollywood elite used to be called the "cultural elite." Prior to that it was the "Liberal elite," which was short hand for the self-styled New York Jewish Liberal Elite - which no longer exists. Of course, knowing this history, when I hear the term "elite" from a Republican, I hear coded anti-semitism - which is buried not too far under the surface in the heartland.

Second, let us settle once and for all the question of an elite that controls what the nation sees and who is responsible for it. Unlike some, who would say that what we see is a response to what the public wants to see, I will concede that there does exist a cadre of media and advertising executives who control what the nation sees and are responsible for much of the trash programming which pollute the airways. The programming we find so objectionable is designed to capture the young male demographic - aged 17 to 29 because they alledgedly spend the money on cars, fast food and movies. All those Levitra, Viagra and Beer ads - this is the target demographic.

More interesting than that, however, is who makes the decision to focus advertising and programming here. It is not the liberal elite that the right wing rants about. The executives that make these decisions are more likely to be Republican donors than liberals. I offer as a case in point one Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox Broadcasting, Fox News and uber Republican donor - recall that he tried to give Newt Gingrich a $5 million advance for his book. Sir Rupert is hardly a raging liberal. If you look at who controls the broadcast networks, the drug companies, the fast food companies and especially the beer companies are controled by members of the Eagle Club. Let me say this another way, the difference between Ann Coulter and Gillian Barberi is less than you would think. They are both blond and both employed by Sir Rupert. Ann, however, keeps her belly button covered. If Ms. Coulter and company are offended for her red state readers, she should not put the blame on any Hollywood elite, but rather should complain to her benefactors at good old Fox Broadcasting.

RECENT: For more on Ann Coulter, here is what they are finding in studies at UVA on Ann v. Adolf Hitler. Go to the quiz they developed here.

Please post your comments.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

How Bloomberg Can Win

In today's Washington Post Outlook section, Ed Rollins and David Broder write about Mayor Michael Bloomberg's possible run at the White House.

They both point out that, unlike Perot, the Mayor will get in the race to win. Let me add to the chorus in speculating how to do that.

One of the keys to a successful run is to run candidates for every House seat. This is a proposal which is also made by the Draft Committee. Why is this important?

Given the electoral math, victory in only one state may throw the election to the House of Representatives. If Hizzoner wins in New York, which is possible, that would be enough. If he wins in New York and in Delaware and in a few of the western states and his compatriots running for the House do the same he can win a few states outright and force other states into non-voting status (since in the House, each state gets one vote decided by a majority of its delegation). This puts all of the small states in play, especially if a few million dollars are used to find and fund candidates who would vote for Bloomberg in the House.

I can't see him winning any other way, as the parties are too strong. Of course, if he wins this way and does not do well in office there will be moves to abolish this method of settling ties, and possibly abolishing the Electoral College as well.

How is he going to martial such a majority?

Many have advised ignoring the hot button issues. Unity08 has a platform which does not even mention Abortion.

I don't recommend this strategy. I recommend facing these issues head on and coming up with positions that will unite the nation from the center. On abortion, this means finding a realistic legal solution to late term abortion and convincing the voters why overturning Roe and criminalizing other abortions would both be bad public policy. Instead, abortion can be discouraged by giving families the kind of tax breaks to constitute a true living wage, even small families.

Dealing with tax reform in general could have high dividends if done from the center. The right wing wants tax reform that makes taxes more noticeable, either a flat tax or the FAIR Tax. I counter that the reverse would be better for the republic. Most people should be spared the headache of filing taxes at all by channeling most tax obligations and tax benefits through the Business Income Tax. Promising to do this won't win any friends for him among right wing policy wonks, but they won't vote for him anyway (unless he hires them), however the vast majority of the population would love to forgoe the annual chore of filing taxes, especially if their paychecks included some form of tax credit every week or two.

Bloomberg might also deal with Social Security. I would recommend to him a twist on personal accounts, which readers of this blog will recognize. Allow personal account holders to direct that some of their funds go to purchase the companies for which they work. Hizzoner got rich by owning his own company. We should all have the same privilege. To make this attractive, have these funds be diverted from the employer contribution and credit such contributions equally rather than as a percentage of income. This also provides a popular incentive for raising or eliminating the income cap, since this would increase the average employee contribution diverted toward employee-ownership (a portion of individual contributions would still go to the kind of index funds the current President proposes). Companies would like this, because they would keep the money and use it to grow the company rather than the government. Employees would like this, because given the size of the funds involved, they would soon control these companies. Proponents of smaller government would like this as well, since employe-owned firms need far less regulation in both workplace safety and product safety. This would also stop jobs from going overseas unless the overseas workers were also owners.

Note that none of these proposals have been endorsed by the potential candidate. However, if he were to adopt them, he may win outright. Note that these are all proposals that will never see the light of day in either of the two major parties. They gore too many sacred cows. This is precisely why we need Michael Bloomberg.

Call Cheney's Bluff

The Washington Post reports on the Vice President's novel approach to violate an Executive Order to comply with the National Archives and Record's Service's rules about reporting classified. Tricky Dick Jr. is claiming that, as the President of the Senate, he is not bound by executive branch regulations.

Call his bluff.

The Senate is the judge of its own rules and I am sure that it has rules about dealing with classified. The Majority Leader must then take it upon himself to order the Sergeant of Arms to enforce those rules. If the rules are inadequate to the task of forcing its presiding officer to behave himself, the majority can be more specific and order compliance. If the presiding officer does not wish to comply, the majority should revoke his security clearance. This might take sixty votes, but with enough popular outrage, sixty votes may be available.

If perchance sixty-seven votes are available we can begin to talk of other matters.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Too Bad for Atheism

In the WaPo's On Faith, there was recently a debate on whether belief in God is wishful thinking or the sign of an innate desire for the divine. I said a few things at the outset but here is what I posted yesterday.

The alternative to believing in the reality of God is believing that He exists only in human speaking. See the work of Daniel Dennett for more on this.

This creates a big problem for atheists.

Why is this a problem? Because if God only exists in language every time you talk about Him furthers His existence.

You can't kill God. Once you talk about Him, He is. Even if He exists outside the universe, which I believe he does, he exists within it because we talk about him (since spirit is an aspect of language).

Why again is this a problem for atheists?

When they talk about not believing in God, that discussion calls the concept into existence. The Soviets tried to kill God. They lost. You can't persecute religion away. You can't tell people not to talk about it. That is like trying to tell people not to talk about sex.

The only way you can kill God, or at least end his existence on earth, is for no one to talk about Him. Fat chance doing that. The conversation on God is the ultimate catch-22. Even the term atheist includes the root for God. This is why some atheists call themselves Brights. However, being bright is also a function of language. No one is really bright independent of their ability to use language. There is no such thing as pure thought without reference to words. Again, the problem is, the language is laden with God talk. There is no escape.