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, October 29, 2010

Endorsing Ron Fisher in VA08

Anyone who reads my blogs knows that I put much of the blame for the current recession on bankruptcy reform in the middle of the last decade and the reform's author, Virginia's 8th District Congressman Jim Moran. I will not be supporting Jim this year and feel that to do so would be to endorse his actions and their result.

Voting for the Republican is not an alternative. Patrick Murray does not seem to have an economic thought of his own - as his web site rather faithfully echoes the Republican Promise to America (which would only make things worse and would certainly not lead to the reversal of bankruptcy reform - when that is exactly what is needed to reset the economy).

This would seem to leave us between a rock and a hard place - luckily this is not the case. There is a progressive alternative - Virginia Independent Green candidate Ron Fisher. Capt. Fisher is a retired Navy submariner, who served as both a ships executive officer on four boats and in submarine logistics for Admiral Hiram Rickover. Since retirement, he has been in the non-profit world and has run a firm which does fire safety. As important to him as the election is why he is running, which is laid out on http://wethepeoplenow.org/ His main positions are laid out on the site and in the following list. Although he is not Catholic, his commitment to both peace and human dignity are very much in line with Catholic social teaching - much more so than either of his opponents - as you can see for yourself:

1. End U.S. wars and occupations, reduce annual Military-Industrial Complex (MIC) spending by 90% (about $900 billion) and have the MIC support a peaceful, Green Economy with no layoffs
a. Initiate an immediate unilateral cease fire in Afghanistan and Iraq. Halt all U.S. drone attacks, covert operations and military actions all over the world.
b. Provide massive relief efforts and implement "Marshall Plans" in countries harmed by the U.S. using in part goods, commodities, and foodstuffs produced in America to count as reparations.
c. Reprogram all current war appropriations for withdrawal and peaceful purposes. Suspend all military and financial aid to Israel. Cease all foreign military sales.
d. Close all overseas U.S. bases and facilities.
e. Bring all US troops and government contractors home, some of whom would provide support for a new WPA, CCC, Peace Corps, Americorps, go to college, return to their old jobs, serve in the State National Guards, etc.
f. Convert existing military contracts and foreign military sales to green, peaceful purposes, for example, building firefighting aircraft instead of bombers and fighter aircrafts.


2. Phase out nuclear weapons worldwide and other offensive weapons

3. End the so called "war on terror" and treat terrorist acts as criminal acts.

4. Provide public and private sector employment opportunities for all at living wages in meaningful work, mainly providing the necessities of life. This will also provide customers for all businesses and will rapidly grow the economy.

5. Reform Wall Street, the Federal Reserve and Banks
a. Enact a Tobin tax-sales tax on Wall Street now
b. Freeze all foreclosures and evictions for 5 years
c. Seize the Federal Reserve and make zero % interest loans directly to states, manufacturers and small businesses and build 1,000 hospitals, 100,000 miles of high speed and light rail, rebuild and modernize infrastructure, water and sewage systems, etc.
d. Recoup at least $5 trillion of the over $23.7 trillion provided or committed to financial institutions
e. Seize large, insolvent financial institutions and make them into government owned contractor operated (GOCO) entities
f . Outlaw trading of credit default swaps, derivatives, adjustable rate loans/mortgages, naked short sales and unregulated hedge funds.
g. Limit interest rates to 4% on all secured mortgages and loans and 6% on unsecured loans, retroactive to the origination of the mortgage or loan.
h. Re-implement the equivalent of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933.

6 Provide comprehensive Medicare (single payer) health care and enhanced Social Security for all and improves the effectiveness and reduces the cost of Health Care


7 Build and operate a modern, comprehensive, nationwide, rail based transportation/transit system


8 Reform and reorganize Congress
a. End the control that corporate executives, special interest groups exercise over your public servants with campaign contributions, job offers and hoards of lobbyists.
b. End the control that political party officials and congressional leadership exercises over our public servants with funds for elections and committee assignments.


9. Protect civil rights and enforce the rule of law

10. Provide meaningful, publicly supported pre-k through college education and vocational training for all for life.


11. Enhance environmental protection


12. Reform criminal justice systems


13. Provide humane, fair and constitutional immigration policies, practices and legislation


14. Provide progressive income and property taxes on individuals and businesses with high thresholds and generous deductions for worthwhile causes. Do not extend tax cuts for the wealthiest.


15. Reform corporation legislation, policies and practices

16. Adjust government spending

17. Reform election systems

Responding to Fr. Scalia - part 4 - Encourage

Fr. Paul Scalia finishes his four part series on same sex attraction in the Arlington Catholic Herald by addressing the Encourage Apostolate to the families and friends of gays and lesbians. He maintains that families must show fidelty to both love of the person and the truth. You can read the piece at
http://www.catholicherald.com/detail.html?sub_id=14158

This is probably the most damaging article of the series, because it encourages the kind of support that gay and lesbian family members don't need, counseling against supporting such events as adoptions and weddings. This is exactly the wrong message for both families and gay and lesbians children. Indeed, he counsels against supporting the "homosexual lifestyle" while advancing the theory that there is no such thing as being a "homosexual person." He has it exactly wrong - there is no monolithic gay lifestyle - just like there is no "heterosexual lifestyle." In each sexuality, there are people who are promiscuous, people who are celibate and people who are married. Many opponents of gay rights assume that promiscuity and homosexuality go hand in hand when they do not - and that the only valid alternative is radical chastity (with the unspoken assumption that the priesthood should be considered). Life in the 21st Century shows that this is complete and utter nonsense.

The answer to promicuity must include marriage, mostly because this is what people chose for themselves. When people chose to be married and are heterosexual, it is a cause for celebration and the joining of families, who gather to witness the creation of a new family unit which on some level excludes the family of origin. Whether the Church likes it or not, legally gay and lesbian couples will have the same rights to family creation - and the truth be told they already have that right, which is to commit themselves to each other and before God.

Much of the controversy over gay marriage comes when families follow the bad advice of Fr. Scalia and the Church and resist this commitment - especially in times of extremis. Catholic hospitals are among the worst offenders in honoring the express wishes of gay and lesbian people as to who can exercise family rights - although thankfully the law is catching up with the culture to overturn such nonsense. While Virginia is among the most recalitrant in this matter - refusing to even recognize privately executived legal arrangements that resemble marriage as part of the Virginia Constitution - such refusal is blatantly unconstitutional under the contracts clause of the Federal Constitution, as well as recent rulings overturning the Defense of Marriage Act and California's Proposition 8.

This leaves families in a difficult position if they follow Fr. Scalia's advice. In essence, they will soon have to chose whether to agree with the Church or the law at a time when the law is more respectful of the dignity of the human person, while the Church is putting itself in the role of persecutor (even if it thinks it is being persecuted - it is not).

The way for the Church to support the families of gay and lesbian individuals - and my family is one such family - is to help us in celebrating these relationships. Such relationships are a welcome alternative to a promiscuous lifestyle and should be encouraged. They are on the whole nurturing, fulfilling and show themselves to be a manifestation of God's Love. Indeed, it is an act of unforgiveable offense against the Holy Spirit to not see this Love in action, which gay marrieds display for all to see. Indeed, this is a sin worse than any imagined sin related to the consumation of the sexual act in a homosexual marriage (which is not sinful at all).

Fr. Curran responds to the bishops on abortion

As I stated in a previous article, the Virginia Catholic Conference mentions abortion as an intrinsic evil issue to be addressed in considering who to vote for. Apparently, this is part of a nationwide discussion - one joined by Fr. Charles Curran, who challenges whether abortion is the primary intrinsic evil, given that there is some doubt about when ensoulment occurs. You can read how National Catholic Reporter covered his talk at http://ncronline.org/news/politics/curran-how-bishops-challenge-abortion-laws-flawed.

I disagree with Curran, who quotes St. Thomas Aquinas on ensoulment. So far, neuroscientists have not found the kind of "soul" that Aquinas would expect. Biologists have found, however, that after gastrulation, the developing embryo seems to be acting intentionally toward an end in a way that is not present before that point. Under an Aristotelean, this seems to be evidence of a vital force or soul. This would mean that abortion is wrong, but not artificial birth control or stem cell research.

Curran talks about giving the woman the benefit of the doubt on the abortion question. I don't see this as a question of doubt, but rather as a question of feasibility. It is simply not possible to regulation first trimester abortions where the fetus is recognized as a legal person without investigating every miscarriage - which society would reject. Giving fetuses status would also impact malpractice in this area in such a way as to force obstetricians to not treat first trimester pregnancies at all. Carving out exemptions would simply make any abortion law moot, so such a law would not be practical. Indeed, one could argue that a right to life is meaningless until independent life is possible - at least with assistance. Week 23 seems to be the best marker in this case - although this has nothing to do with ensoulment but instead with the ability to enjoy the right granted.

The Virginia Catholic Conference on Election 2010 - a Response

The Virginia Catholic Conference issued an electoral letter, which can be found in the Arlington Catholic Herald at http://www.catholicherald.com/local_news/detail.html?sub_id=14138

Many of the questions posed and issues raised are important, although some of these issues should have been raised earlier in the election cycle - when questions could be asked of the candidates. It is a bit too late in the home stretch.

Sadly, many of the issue raised are not electoral at all. Indeed, they reside in the judicial realm, not the political. Candidates who say the right things in this regard are pandering to Catholics rather than promising to do anything for our agenda.

An example of such a question is educational choice. In Virginia, the Byrd Amendment is part of the Commonwealth's Constitution. While the legislature may move forward to repeal the amendment, the best strategy is to challenge it in Federal Court on equal protection grounds. While this will take some time and will eventually lead to a fight with the teachers union about funding Catholic Schools, dealing with the constitutional issue must still be the first act of the play. The second act may be to promise access to the unions in our Catholic School system if public money is available - thus turning a potential adversary into a friend. Indeed, it is scandalous and a bit heretical for the Church not to be taking such a tack, since historically it has been friendly to the Union movement. Indeed, the teaching Magisterium of the Church as embodied in the recent encyclical Caritas in Veritate is still pro-labor.

Relying on equal protection for some things mean we must respect it in other things. This includes the question of marriage. The current venue for this debate is in the Federal Courts and the battle is all but over. Some in the Church have criticized the decision in Perry v. Schwarzenegger as saying that morality has no place in law. This is not actually what was said. What was said is that moral bias has no basis in law. A natural law case can be made for marriage equality, given that marriage is the instrument for both forming new family units and leaving the family unit of birth. Scripture specifies that when one is married, one leaves their family and clings to their chosen spouse. This was true in Genesis and is echoed by our Lord in the Gospel. While family remains the central feature of how society is organized, the rights to form a family must be available to all - none must be bound forever to their family of origin. Fecundity is not the issue here. Canon Law specifies that it is not a requirement for marriage in the Catholic Church. Indeed, priestly sanction is not ultimately required, as the couple marries eachother, with the priest acting as witness. This is as true for gay marriage as it is for heterosexual marriage.

Questions of life are most important, as the Bishops state - however if all candidates are publicly pro-choice, one must go deeper into their platforms on this issue. If their economic policies do not include an option for the poor, as is required in Catholic teaching, then the balanced must be tipped toward those candidates who do. In this election, this would disqualify any who adhere to the Promise to America from receiving Catholic support.

The question of the legality of abortion is mostly outside the realm of electoral politics, having been decided at the Supreme Court level. While federal legislation is certainly possible to extend the protection of law to the unborn, appeals to overturn Roe v. Wade judicially are not electoral in nature. The responsiblity for proposing such legislation lies with the proponents of life, however such legislation has not been forthcoming and likely will not be, since it would require compromise on the issue of when life begins in order to deal with the realities of equal protection under law. Abortion can no longer be outlawed as a medical procedure - it can only be outlawed to the extent that the unborn individual is recognized under law and given the full protection of criminal law. To date, the prospect of putting mothers who obtain abortions in jail has prevented such action, as well it should. Additionally, the prospect of the police power being extended to investigating every miscarriage shocks the conscience - however not doing so can only be accomplished to limiting legal protection to the second trimester - essentially turning a blind eye to 3,600 abortions a day.

The other complication is malpractice. Generally, when a patient dies, a malpractice suit is possible. Putting the unborn into the realm of legal personhood put the medical care of all first trimester children at risk, since it is likely that they will not been seen until the possiblity of miscarriage has passed. If the law makes excpetions in either the area of police investigation or miscarriage, it has created such a loophole as to be ineffective, which law cannot be. If compromise is made, however, the vast majority of the pro-life base will reject it. The onus is on the pro-life movement to deal with these exceptions, not with publicly pro-choice politicians. Until there is a bill, there is no issue - electoral or otherwise.

Questions of intrinsic evil are often not in the legislative realm at all. For example, laws against adultery, an intrinsic evil as well, are not enforced and have been repealed in most places. This should be kept in mind when considering how to vote on moral issues.

Catholic Democrat's Voters Guide

Catholic Democrats has a voter's guide out for the election. In it they compare the relevant part of faithful Citizenship with Democratic accomplishments over the past two years and the current Republican Promise to America. You can see it here at http://www.acatholicpledgetoamerica.org/voters_guide.html

The guide is entirely generic, unlike what you would think in a voter's guide. For example, it says nothing about local races and candidates. This is not to say that it is not useful in local elections. It is certainly useful if you hear the usual screed from the pulpit about voting "pro-life", as it makes the point that there is not much in the Republican's Promise about ending abortion through the criminal law (which this Diarist and many Catholics don't favor anyway). It is very useful if your local Republican candidate echoes the party line on economics - which is the case in the Virginia suburbs. It is not so useful in DC, where the Republican candidate for Delegate's entire campaign is the showing of dead fetus pictures in her campaign ads.

What seems to be a universal thread is that the Republicans have not done their homework on most economic or social issues and say nothing of import to Catholic voters, Democratic or not. While progressives can fault Democrats for not going far enough in the last few years on our issues, Catholic Democrats does show that they are at least in the ball game, unlike the Party of No.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pro-life voting with 3 pro-choice candidates

What's a pro-life voter to do when all three candidates have declared themselves to be pro-choice? This is the choice in the 8th District of Virginia. Even Republican nominee Col. Patrick Murray claims to be pro-choice, although he said in the primary that he did not like Roe v. Wade. In this, he seems like Gov. Sarah Palin, who when asked by Katie Couric what she did not like about Roe had no answer. This is likely the case because most Republican politicians don't give the actual issue much thought, beyond making sure they say the right thing in the primaries in order to pander to pro-life voters. Once the base is satisfied, so is the mention of abortion on the candidate's web page (a seemingly universal phenomenon this election cycle in at least Nevada, Delaware and Virginia - and I suspect most places). If the electorate is pro-life, they issue may get lip service in the general election, to be forgetten the day after the election. I doubt that the level of understanding of the constitutional issues in Roe is very high among most politicians on either side - although I suspect the Democrats might be a bit more informed on the nuances of the decision. If anyone can find any mention of Roe on Mr. Murray's site, they win a prize. See for yourself at http://murray4congress.com/issues/

Be that as it may, in order to not seem outside the mainstream of the 8th District, Mr. Murray claims to be pro-choice. The incumbent, Democrat Jim Moran, is decidedly pro-choice and quite a bit more familiar with the nuances of Roe and the ethical issues involved. He is sincere in his beliefs, as is Independent Green Ron Fisher. Neither candidate is pandering. Since Capt. Fisher is not a viable candidate, I will limit my analysis to Congressman Moran.

If the stated policy on abortion is the same, does this mean that the pro-life voter must stay home? Hardly. More important than the stated position on abortion is the impact the candidates' parties and positions will have on the actual incidence of abortion. This is always the case, actually. Profession matters much less than effect in the real world. That is how God will judge us - on what comes from our actions rather than on what we say we believe. "By your fruits ye shall know them (Matt 7:16)."

Where does each candidate come down on this key factor of the seemless garment of life. In such an analysis, any Republican, including Col. Murray, is suspect. The positions on his site fairly well reflect the current positions of his party, which promises entitlement cuts. Republican policy in this area includes preservation of life time limits on welfare. It does not take much imagination to realize that this restrict leads to abortion by TANF recipients (or at least the use of artificial birth control). Tax cuts to the wealthy, which the Colonel supports and the incumbent does not, are likely to lead to further pressure to cut aid to the poor - leading them into the arms of their local Planned Parenthood office.

It seems that a true pro-life voter must put Republican coalition politics aside and continue to vote Democrat (as many did in 2008, for exactly the same reasons).

This makes Jim Moran the best candidate in VA-08 from a pro-life point of view (and don't let your priest tell you otherwise). Indeed, if he says that one must vote pro-life - it means that a vote for Moran is required, given the commitment of Col. Murray to choice and to Republican economic policies.

Responding to Fr. Scalia - part 3 - Courage

In part 3 of Fr. Paul Scalia's series on same-sex attraction in the Catholic Herald, he describes the Courage Apostolate, which he is the chaplain of in the Arlington Diocese. You can read the article at http://www.catholicherald.com/faith/detail.html?sub_id=14059

Courage is a place where gay and lesbian Catholics can go if they desire support in following the Church's teachings on same sex attraction, which are proported to be based on natural law. As I have written previously, I disagree on the natural law justification of the Church's teachings -at least as far as natural law which is not bound by the teaching authority of the Church (i.e., with the answers coming before the inquiry).

Be that as it may, the Courage Apostolate is probably a good thing - if only for the support it offers. Too often, gay teens face the moral question of homosexuality alone - or through pure condemnation without support. This leads many teens to take their own lives. This is less likely in a supported envirnoment. I am still uncomfortable with the Apostolate offering access to Restorative Therapy - which is fairly well discredited in the scientific mainstream - since such therapy has as its basis old theories that say homosexuality is an acquired condition rather than an innate one (which is not the case at all). For more on the biology of homosexuality, see today's Salon for an interview with homosexuality expert Simon LaVey at http://www.salon.com/books/feature/2010/10/24/simon_levay_gay_brain/index.html.

Fr. Scalia cites the higher incidence of alcoholism and addiction among gays, however alcoholism itself is mostly a genetically caused predisposition. It is no more caused by homosexuality than is the propensity to write left handed. Addiction can be acquired as a coping mechanism, but not because someone is gay, but because someone is dealing with the externally imposed shame of being gay.

Let me say that again. The coincidence of addiction and homosexuality is likely not because of any relation between the two, but because of how people react to being told they are disordered or abnormal. It is equally valid to conclude that absent the Church's persecution of gays and lesbians, they would be any more drawn to addictive substances than promiscuous heterosexuals - and even these might not be as likely to indulge in such behaviors absent externally imposed shame.

As I have stated previously, the Church can teach about being moral and homosexual and that teaching would likely be good if it focused on avoiding promiscuity and waiting for the right partner, rather than using people as objects of physical pleasure. First, however, it must accept that being gay is natural for some people - not chosen or conditioned - and that gay marriages can function with the same unitive value as heterosexual marriages. Indeed, the sex act is a small part of heterosexual marriage - at least after the first few years - as any parent will tell you. As many gay people have children within their relationships (either from a prior heterosexual relationship or by inheritance from a sibling), they can testify to the same thing.

One day, I predict a non-celibate clergy celebrating gay marriages. I suspect that this will occur within a generation. The fact that a four part series is being dedicated to this issue shows that there is resistance to change - which also testifies to its inevitability.

Responding to Fr. Scalia - Part II

Fr. Paul Scalia released the second of his four part series in the Catholic Herald on same sex attraction two weeks ago. I am just now getting a chance to blog about it. You can read his article here http://www.catholicherald.com/opinions/detail.html?sub_id=14034, where he denies that homosexuality is genetic, and even if genetic permissible. He then mentions Reparative Therapy and denies that there is such a thing as a homosexual person, rather than a homosexual disorder. He does all this under the guise of a natural law analysis.

In contrast, in today's Salon, Simon LaVey, the foremost researcher on the causes of homosexuality, gives an interview regarding his new book, "Gay, Straight, and the Reason Why: The Science of Sexual Orientation" LeVey pretty much demolishes the contention that homosexuality is a chosen behavior. See the entire interview at http://www.salon.com/books/feature/2010/10/24/simon_levay_gay_brain/index.html

To be natural law as philosophy understands that (and this is thc claim Fr. Scalia is making), one must take into account the natural sciences. Of course, the natural law Fr. Scalia believes in is not the one where facts are more important than authority. Fr. Scalia could never argue outside the bounds the Church gives him, which means his conclusions must be suspect.

Homosexuality can be biologically determined without being genetic and likely can no more be cured than it can be caused. (Psychologists believe that people became gay by stages and could be recruited -serious scientists no longer believe this to be the case - nor do they take seriously attempts at Reparative Therapy).

This is not to say that there is not an appropriate way to behave while gay or lesbian. The Church has much to teach anyone regarding responsible sexuality within the context of loving relationships - preferably permanent marital ones. How we respond to sexual urges is in some way culturally bound. Marriage was formerly a property arrangement, with women as the property. It is no longer thus, largely due to the teachings of Christ - although some Christians have resisted this over time.

With legal recognition of gay marriage will eventually come sacramental recognition - albeit with some degree of kicking and screaming by the hierarchy. This will largely come at the insistence of the faithful who wish the charism of sacramental marriage for their gay children (and parents). Marriage is what happens when you leave the family of origin and start a new family. It severs prior familial relationships (which is why arguments about chosing to marry a relative are a canard) and transfers those rights to the new spouse. Weddings are the opportunity for families to mark that event - preferably within the life of the Church. The hierarchy can run - but it can't hide.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fire Jim Moran

The threshold question in any political campaign is whether the incumbent should be fired and why. As this is a Catholic social justice column, there must be a social justice reason to fire the incumbent in question, Jim Moran.

While Jim has had some personal problems over the years, he has worked through them and they are no cause for his ouster.

He should be fired because if he is not, the District is de facto endorsing the current state of affairs in the bankruptcy law, which Jim Moran wrote - including the provision that prevents cram-downs for residential first mortgage loans in reorganziation. This reform removes the option for the poor that is predominant in Catholic Social teaching and is ample reason to remove the incumbent in Virginia's 8th District.

The lack of cram down authority meant that a judge could not reduce the value of the mortgage backed securities that back the loan, so that they would never lose money. That led to models which turned into a feeding frenzy for investors - which led to a freeding frenzy of home loans to people who could not afford them - the liar loans that allowed anyone with a post to buy a house. Too many buyers led to a huge bubble in housing prices - leading to more and more exotic loan products. While at several stages, many people should have known better (and some did, making billions of dollars in the process), the whole feeding frenzy can be traced back to the former Mayor of Alexandria, Virginia's willingness to carry the financial sector's water (and receive some special consideration on his own finances in the process).

If voters in Alexandria, Arlington and Reston - having been told this - still desire to have Jim continue to serve then they accept the taint of this action and the consequences of it - the destruction of the national and world economies. I am unwilling to accept that taint, or vote for Jim another time.

I won't vote for the Republican challenger either, since he would be no different on bankruptcy reform. Instead, I will vote for the progressive alternative, Virginia Independent Green Candidate Ron Fisher. I urge everyone else in the District to do so too.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Plight of Italy's Romany - my letter to Obama

The Washington Post reports on persecution in Italy in today's issue. This prompted me to write the President. My letter is below:

I write this as a Roma Sinti American regarding the plight of my people in France and Italy at the hands of local and national government.

I ask that you officially protest what is essentially a baldly racist policy, as demonstrated by the remarks of Milanese Vice Mayor Riccardo De Corato, as reported in today's Washington Post. He is only echoing the remarks of his prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, who is no friend of the Romani people.

My people sufferred much under the Holocaust. Indeed, most surviving Sinti - the nationally German Romany - are likely assimilated American citizens. We still, however, feel for our Abruzzesi brothers and sisters, as well as refugees from other European states who fled to Italy under persecution and whose needs as refugees have not been met.

The treatment of the Romany in Europe is the great unreported civil rights story in the West. Please use the power of your office to address our plight, including changing any residual anti-Romany immigration policies still on our books and offering asylum.

Thank you for addressing this issue.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Fr. Scalia, Carl Paladino, and the message of gay marriage

In the Arlington Catholic Herald, Fr. Paul Scalia (son of the Associate Justice) rehashes current Catholic doctrine on same sex attraction and how both the action and the attrraction is disordered but the person is to be cherished. You can read it yourself at http://catholicherald.com/opinions/detail.html?sub_id=13998. Meanwhile, a tape has surfaced where Carl Paladino, Republican candidate for NY Governor, is addressing Hacidic Jews about why he opposes legalizing gay marriage because of the message it send our children about homosexuality (although he claims not to be bigoted).

They both miss the point. While it would be comforting to accuse both of malice, I suspect they hold none. Instead, ignorance is their fault - as well as bad logic.

The message legalizing gay marriage sends to youth is the point of doing it - and that message is far superior than the message sent by Paladino, Scalia and the Church. One's sexuality is an intrinsic part of personhood. To call that sexuality disordered sends the message that the person is flawed. The Catholic explanation of how the universe appears to be ordered is a human creation - a sophistry - designed to support a traditional view of marriage. If gays and lesbians are wonderfully made and sexuality (with all its messiness) is a gift from God, then gay sex can no longer be considered sinful within the confines of a marital relationship. What is stopping the Church from realizing this is fear - both fear of offending older members of the faithful and fear of God. I suspect that the tolerance of older Catholics is being underestimated here. More importantly, the theology which attributes homophobia to God is flawed - for it assumes a God who has a personal stake in human morality rather than a God who gives us the gift of morality for our own happiness. I prefer to worship the latter - within the Church. If you know Jesus, you know he falls in category 2 as well.

The message of legalizing gay marriage to youth is that they are wonderfully made. They are not disordered. God has not cursed them nor will society reject them. It also sends them the message that permanent relationships are better than transitory ones - and that they should save themselves for someone they love rather than engaging in random hook-ups (with the assumption that both are equally disordered). If marital gay sex is not disordered, than the Church actually CAN send a message to gay youth to wait for love. Of course, the Church needs to also rethink how it teaches about masturbation for the same reason, but that is another topic. The point is, driving a teen to suicide because he believes he is disordered and will never find love is hardly protecting the child.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The Ultimate First Strike Weapon

Cross posted from Open Salon:

First of all, let me say that I have no knowledge that the weapon system I am about to describe exists. As far as you know, this is only a thought experiment by an ex-cold warrior. If it does exist, we would not know about it, because it violates various strategic arms treaties with the Soviet Union (who technically, don't exist anymore). The classification on such a system would be so high, few would know about it. It would also be highly classified to avoid the budget debates which turn good ideas into mediocre aircraft - like the B-1 bomber - which had to make so many compromises its performance is limited.

This system takes advantage of everything we have learned in the current war - so it could be put in the future category - although because the technology behind it is already in the field one could assume it is deployed elsewhere.

Ready for it? Here it is.

A remotely piloted, hypersonic bomber with stealth technology, air-to-air defense capability with an air launched cruise missile payload.

If we did have a Soviet enemy, defending against this system would keep them up at night. In fact, Russian defense planners are not stupid, so if the thought of this did not keep them up at night, it is now.

The only real question is, does it already exist?

The part of me that likes toys hopes it does. The part that likes peace and survival prays that it does not.

Have a nice day.

Tonite's Show - Education Reform

Recently, the DC Mayor's election hinged on attitudes toward school reform in the Nation's Capital. Meanwhile, the documentary "Waiting for Superman" follows families trying to get their kids into private schools. I addressed the topic of school reform, both in DC and elsewhere, in my book, Musings from the Christian Left. We will talk about all of this and take phone calls with your ideas at 646-200-3496. My education reform chapter is already on this blog here.