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, February 15, 2008

The Archbishop and the Senator from New York

The AP reports that San Antonio, Texas Archbishop Jose Gomez objects to a campaign appearance by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton at St. Mary's University, which is sponsored by the Diocese (and therefore partly his personal property) due to her pro-choice stance on abortion.

As I have said previously regarding another Archbishop's statements, it appears that his Excellency does not get it.

A pro-choice position is not an endorsement of abortion per se, but a realization that using the criminal law to prohibit abortion is not the right approach. If Senator Clinton were going to the campus to advise a group of pregnant coeds to terminate their pregnancies in order to complete their educations and advance their careers, the Archbishop would have a point. That is not the case, however. She may bring up abortion - in fact she has to in light of this controversy. Hopefully she will remember our conversation last year at this time regarding how some use this issue for political gain with no intent on resolution. If she were to do so, there might be some news in this campaign that we could use - although I don't expect it.

Let me reiterate one thing. The issue is not whether abortion should be made legal. It already is and the current lineup of the Supreme Court indicates it will be for the foreseeable future (Alito and Roberts supported Kennedy's position in the partial birth abortion decision rather than the Scalia/Thomas concurrence which advocated overturning Roe, thus Roe still has a 7-2 majority). States will not get the chance to pass abortion bans any time soon - nor the chance to repeal existing bans that were on the books when Roe was decided.

The legal question is not the morality of abortion, but when and how it can and should be regulated. Overturning Roe would also overturn Federal preeminence in civil rights law, basically putting citizens at the mercy of their state legislatures - which is a violation of republican government (majority rule with minority rights). It would also be ineffective, as women and girls would travel to abortion states for the procedure in much the same way they travel to counties where it is available.

The only way to constitutionally restrict abortion would be to grant citizenship rights to the child. Doing so in the first trimester is dicey - since it would turn every miscarriage into a public event and endow the child's survivors with a tort for its loss. While most such torts would not be successful, giving lawyers an entre' into this issue can hardly be in the best interest of either society or medicine. If you think malpractice rates for OB's are high now, just wait to see what happens if the fetus becomes a legal person.

As I have said several times, the best cure for abortion is the empowerment of women and girls to both say no to sex and to have the economic power to care for the child regardless of circumstance, while still having the ability to pursue an education and a career and the assurance that the child can do so without having to rely on the parents for financial support.

Considering the Church's ownership of probably the largest private educational complex on the planet and its influence with Catholic business owners and shareholders (who could be excommunicated for not providing a family wage), perhaps there are other avenues than GRANDSTANDING which could be used to fight abortion.

(On a technical note, most reported abortions are actually miscarriages - not elective procedures - so the statistics on how many children have been lost to abortion are way off since most of them were DEAD ALREADY).

Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Cultural Conservative Vote

There are conservatives and then there are conservatives.

There are fiscal conservatives who believe in balanced budgets or tax cuts (you can't believe in both, I believe in the former). There are libertarian conservatives who believe in less government regulations and taxes (for me, it depends, as I believe in minimizing regulations unless they function to prevent bad behavior - such as racial or sex discrimination or producing unsafe products or waste).

There are religious conservatives who believe in traditional moral teachings and rituals. (I am a no on the first and yes on the second - so I believe in Tridentine Gay Weddings).

Then there are the "cultural conservatives." These believe in authoritarianism, very traditional morality and may in fact yearn for the days when certain people knew (or still know) their place. These are the folks that would not have their child marry certain people, mostly with darker skin. They believe in the right to not rent an apartment or sell a home to someone whose morality they do not approve of or won't hire certain people because they might file a discrimination complaint (for the likely reason that the conservatives feel they have a right to denigrate those who they feel are below them - in other words their parents didn't teach them civilized matters because there parents didn't HAVE civilized manners). These are the folks who favored Pat Buchanan in the Reform Party until he nominated an African American woman to be his running mate. These are the folks who carry the signs that say "God Hates F@gs."

Quite a few cultural conservatives hide behind the illegality of immigration are cultural conservatives (although not all anti-immigrant folks are in that category to be sure). There were enough of them in the GOP, however, to have me be very comfortable leaving in the 1990s. For now, I am back and supporting Mike Huckabee. When he was the leader of the Southern Baptists in Arkansas, he did not support the more culturally conservative types, which earned him the criticism of being one of my people - a Christian leftist. I don't think that the Governor will pander to these folks to win the nomination - at least I hope not. I know people who no longer support Ron Paul because he has, in the past, not disassociated himself from certain neoconfederate supporters of this stripe. I also hope that John McCain will likewise resist the urge to pander.

I believe that either McCain or Huckabee has a chance of winning in November without pandering to these folks. It is a pity Romney seemed to, since he is largely better than that.

There are more than a few listeners of a certain rotund talk radio host from Kansas City who are of that cultural stripe, and that same host seems to have no problem with their association with him.

For Rush and for all those cultural cultural conservatives whose attitudes I have identified above, I have a message:

We don't need you to win in November. Don't let the door hit you in the @$$ on the way out.

Now that

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

The Holloway Case

I have been silent on the diappearance of Natalee Holloway to date, but the recent airing of a hidden videotape of Joren Van der Sloot provokes some reaction.

My first reacton was and continues to be that this not what I would consider a story of national import. Rather, it is a story of national voyuerism, which is why I have withheld comment. I am commenting now because this incident has lessons for parents, young people and the law.

The only bright spot in this affair is the impact it is likely to have on the parents of teenage girls sending their daughters off on class trips. No matter how responsible your daughter is, don't do it. The more responsible girls actually have a worse time of it, since if they are letting lose for the first time, they are likely to poison themselves with alcohol, which is likely what happened here (unless some evidence can be found that Natalee was slipped a Ruffee (the date rape drug)). 18 year old girls should not be going on such trips, especially if they have never been exposed to alcohol. If you must send your kid on such an excursion, make sure they know how to drink safely. Trusting them not to drink in a tropical paradise where drinking is legal or enforcement lax is irresponsible.

As to the case of our young punk who thought he did nothing wrong, and the million young punks like him, it is no sign of masculinity to have sex with a girl who is drunk. Not only don't gentlemen do such things, but it is considered rape. Since we know from his statements that his goal was to have sex with Natalee in her drunken condition, he should at least be charged with attempted rape. Since her body was not found, murder cannot be charged, since there will never be any proof that she was alive when her body was disposed of. What we do know is that obstruction of justice occurred when the police were not called to pick up the body. Perjury likely occurred as well in the investigation. Natalees body was not treated respectfully, which is also a crime. Finally, if it can be proven than Joran was buying her drinks in order to make her more amenable to his rape attempt, he can likely be charged with manslaughter since these drinks caused her death - and God help him if he slipped her something else. If he needs sex that badly, he will likely get plenty of it in prison - although I don't think he will like it.

Now, about the justice system itself. No trial is likley necessary to determine that Joran is a drunken scumbag. He should likely have been subjected to mandatory treatment for his alcoholism and general amoral attitude before this incident ever occurred - as should many in his shoes. In a just world, he would be given the opportunity to plead guilty by reason of insanity with part of his punishment confinement in a mental institution for the minimum term for attempted date rape, if not involuntary manslaughter and some form of restitution to Natalee's family as a condition of release. Of course, knowing that he will be in a jail cell in Aruba as somebody's wife may a prevertedly just outcome in this case (not that I am advocating such treatment, however the spectre of it should give this punk some pause).

Monday, February 04, 2008

Jail Bush, Vote McCain?

Thinking about the positions of the Senator from Arizona, one cannot help but notice his continued oppossition to many of the positions taken by the current administration in the War on Terror - especially regarding torture and the treatment of prisoners of war.

I am sure somewhere in the Adminstration, there are calculations afoot as to personal culpability and the possibility of jail time, including war crimes trials at the Hague.

Looking at the likely winners tomorrow or next November, there have to be a few people who are a bit afraid of John McCain, possibly more so than any of the other candidates.

Why not fear Clinton or Obama? It is likely that neither of these candidates, if elected, will risk the ire of the right by launching into a punative investigation of the prior administration. Given Obama's message of unity, I doubt he will ship Bush and Cheney off to the trial they so richly deserve. Additionally, no one in the defense establishment will likely open up to either of them about what they have seen in the past seven years.

Not so with John McCain. My guess is that, if elected, he will ask the right questions and people will volunteer the right information. If this happens, a standup guy like McCain will pursue the matter and some people are going to jail.

It is no wonder many Bush surrogates are lining up behind Mitt Romney. I wonder if any promises have been made regarding ignoring the recent past?