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.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Another Catholic Voice in the Public Square – January 2018 edition

Veritas Splendor was St. John Paul’s attempt to rescue the conservative doctrines of Bl. Paul IX and Saint Pius X from irrelevance.  It is true that we don’t create truth, however every generation creates its understanding of truth in the language of the time.  Truth is certainly not preserved for all time just because a Roman Pontiff in history does not like how doctrine continues to develop. 

One area where both Popes Pius endeavored to stop the march of understanding was the Eden myth.  There are those who claim that Darwin’s Origin of the Species cannot be true because it requires that we change how we understand the Eden story, which was not taught to Abraham as family history or proclaimed by God to Moses but adapted from the Sumeric Myth (which had multiple gods, each defeating the god before in the seven days of creation). The Church’s current response is to say that the Eden story happened to our first homo sapiens parents, whomever they were.  This attempt is probably the lamest thing to come out of Rome since 1950. 

The Declaration of Independence was based on natural rights in the Deistic/Enlightenment sense, not a Romanist Natural Law Sense.  Any attempt to introduce the latter is pure fiction and an abominable lie.

The Eden story is not about disobedience, as St.  Augustine taught.  It was,  and is, a story of blame.  The serpent convinced Eve to blame God for not letting her know the sins of others (the knowledge of their evil that would make them like gods). Adam then blamed Eve for giving him the apple and Eve blamed the serpent.  The Crucifixion of our Lord is operative not because it satisfies an act of disobedience but because God feels the emptiness of human sin and blame and replaces it with empathy and forgiveness. Our salvation is realizing that God took on being us because we could not take on being Him.

Sadly, the popes have not had the courage to take on a new paradigm for either Eden or Calvary, but it must happen because it is a true discovery.

Human complementariness comes as part of nature. Homosexuality is also found there, so referring to creation myths in an evolutionary world is simply adding story to a search for truth.  The Male and Female passage is fine for heterosexual weddings and to argue for a much larger child tax credit, say one that matches what the USDA says is required to raise a child, or $1000 per month with pay.  Anyone who says that parents must take responsibility for paying to raise their children without support should be drummed out of the Pro-Life movement. Now that would require courage from the Voice of Truth.

Gay weddings could also continue the promise of being open to raising children.  Indeed, many gays and lesbians entering gay marital unions already have children from marriages that were a lie because they were based on giving the other a sexuality they did not have.  Gay couples and individuals often have the burden of raising children, or potentially do, as tragedy requires them to raise the children of family members or love has them seek adoption. (It is Calumny to assume they would be abuse parents, by the way). For lesbians, there is even a scientific way to become a mother (one or both partners), regardless of the fears of the CDF in Dignitas Personae that such actions are unnatural and even elitist (which they are not if everyone has the same health care).  To say that this is not true is an insult to step-parents and adoptive parents everywhere.  May St. Joseph forgive you.

The fashionable thing among Catholic reactionaries is to repeat what then-Cardinal Ratzinger said about homosexuality being against the natural order.  He said that because if homosexuals were differently ordered, there would be no justification for not celebrating gay weddings in the Catholic Church, and in that time there was a movement going that way full speed ahead.  Of course, his Natural Order is a sophistry created as a sin eater to absorb the guilt or even the harmful effects of sin because God, it His perfection, cannot be harmed by anything.  There is no natural order, there are individual acts which hurt or do not hurt individual people, alone or in groups. 

Ratzinger’s conception ignores two sets of facts, one, that homosexuals have unique biology, from their affectations to the size of the hypothalamus to the discovery that an epigenetic event may occur in the first trimester of pregnancy that produces homosexuality in men.  The other facts can be gathered by just asking gay people what made them gay or whether they always were? It will not take many conversations to discover that the latter is the case and that it is the height of pride and arrogance for us to tell them what they need to do for salvation when we will not believe them when they state this basic fact.  At a human level, the anti-gay movement is guilty of much bad and sinful behavior, but this instance is the worst of all.  Shame on you.

There are a great many teachings on sexual continence that apply as equally to gay and straight people. Appetites should be restrained. Fornication should be avoided, both not because they offend God, or even because they offend others, but because they harm the self. Individuals know whether pre-marital cohabitation and sex are common law trial marriage or promiscuity.  Indeed, they have a better handle on this than more conservative Catholics and an asexual clergy with its own set of attachment disorders (who should no longer be the last word in Catholic sexuality). 

If we are serious about helping gays with promiscuity, we will make the Sacrament of Matrimony publicly available to them as society has (and as some priests probably have or will in private).  Marriage is a joining of families and the opposition to gay Catholic Weddings deprives families of this opportunity to celebrate two people promising fidelity before God (the priest is but the witness), confident that they will function sexually with each other and raise and children sent their way. If that does not sound like a definition of sacramental marriage, consider retaking marriage preparation.

Worrying about the sexuality of others takes us back to the Eden myth and wanting to desire to know the evil done by others and judge it.  Don’t.  The relevant part of the Gospel is the procedure for Fraternal Correction.  It is invoked when someone harms YOU, not your sense of propriety, which is not based on love.

Abortion existed in great numbers before 1973.  Only economic means can stop it. Pray for conversion by pro-lifers that they may see that and abandon the worship of Mammon.

I doubt that only PPUSA sells research tissue.  I suspect most hospitals ask mothers to donate in the case of miscarriage as well.
Marylanders don’t select Democrats for abortion or gay marriage, but because we are the most aware voters on economic justice issues due to our educations in preparation for government service.  Using abortion as a wedge issue, especially Roe, is perpetuating the fraud that Roe can be overturned if we elect people like Donald Trump or George W. Bush president.  The reality is that both Bush appointees and one of his father’s voted against overturning Roe when they had a chance.

The race will be happy when we end the desire for the knowledge of Evil and let others live in peace.


Monday, January 22, 2018

Roe v. Wade, 45 years later: Debate continues amid surprises, stagnation

https://www.ncronline.org/news/justice/distinctly-catholic/roe-v-wade-45-years-later-debate-continues-amid-surprises
MGB:_The March for Life is one of the reasons for stagnation in the right to life movement. Of course, there is no stagnation in Republican fundraising, get out the vote activities or in its relationship with a slim majority of Catholic bishops. They have the movement exactly where they want it, serving their interests so that they can continue to fight for the rich.

The movement itself is scherotic because it is based on the notion that Roe should be overturned and the issue returned to the states. That will never happen. The federal judiciary will never give up the power to review state legislation on due process and equal protection grounds, nor should it. While many Catholic conservatives don’t like what that means for gay rights, gay marriage and birth control, the days of Catholic power in public morality are gladly over BECAUSE of the right to privacy. No more Catholic mob rule.

State regulation would be convenient. The movement could mouth a right to life while punishing abortion as bad medical practice, rather than infanticide. Roe forces the right to life movement to accept the fact that punishing abortion as infanticide means women go to jail. That it won’t go there because of the optics shows the extent the movement is a sham.

The movement likes to pat itself on the back for what it does for women in crisis pregnancies, but the test of the movement is what it does once the pregnancy is over and people are faced with crisis childhoods because of poverty. It is here that a significant portion of the conservative men in the movement talk about being accountable for your own children and not picking their pockets to help fund the children of the poor, although popes from Leo XIII to Pius XI (who was very clear about it) to Benedict XVI that the state should do exactly that. Again, as long as movement men take that position, the movement is a sham.

Trump is just another Republican. He at least told the truth, before they caught him, about women going to jail if abortion were banned on personhood grounds. If Hillary had attacked the movement and his hypocricy rather than trying to justify partial birth abortion, which is illegal, she might not have done so poorly with the Catholic vote. Reactionaries are fine with their leaders ebracing the big lie and in looking the other way at his foibles, some of which may land him in jail. The movement has its share of reactionaries who like their King Donald, his madness and all.

While Archbishop Taylor’s commitment to a seemless garment is admirable, as well as his witness against a bloodthirsty Attorney General, his actions and remarks smack of sour grapes, which are unbecoming in any bishop but seem all too common of late. On capital punishment itself, if the alternative is solitary confinement for the rest of your life then the state is the cause of death for the convicted (and only dangerous sociopaths should ever get such a sentence). It matters not to me whether the state kills their sociopaths slowly or quickly, although prisoners like to get it over with.

Shame on the alderman who tried to use health care for the poor to pander to their bases. Sour grapes, even in response to sour grapes, is poor governance. The bad old days of Catholic hospitals excluding gay spouses are over and CHA is a force for good, especially in dealing with Bishops who pander.

I don’t oppose the unborn. I would give their families money, would ban all but induction abortions after the first trimester and all abortion save life and health at 25 weeks by having Congress declare them to be persons. I oppose the Republican party because they won’t do these things, largely because it would end the issue and ruin their fundraising and GOTV with the movement. I also oppose the Bishops who join their little game.

As a Democrat Catholic, this seems a strong position. I need not indulge the pro-life movement in their attempt to use the unborn in an argument about federalism just because it makes regulating abortion easier. If they wish to talk about the unborn people, they need to face the equal protection implications. Pick a date where abortion is infanticide and there is a willingness to apply the appropriate penalties, knowing that any time before that the unborn are not legal people and state regulation of abortions is interfering with women’s health care. There are better ways to protect life, just as there are better ways to help alcoholics and addicts than criminalizing drugs. That the pro-life movement is unwilling to dialogue on such ways is the extent of its irrelevance. It is not my job to save them from themselves, even though I have tried.


The Reactionary Mind by Corey Robin

This is second edition of this book, subtitled Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Donald Trump. As Antifa diagrams the war against fascism at the ground level, this book explains it from the top.  Part 1 is a Primer on Reaction. The private life of power is its desire for an ordered society, where the best and most creative are naturally at the top and there can be no talk of democracy, socialism or revolution (the book limits itself to the late eighteenth century and beyond). Reactionaries, conservatives and counter-revolutionaries are the same thing. Their existence comes because there has been change. When there is little revolution from the left, the right stagnates or sits on prior glories.

While the gay marriage debate is essentially over, it has become an organizing principle on the right. Indeed, there were no amendments defining marriage as between a man and a woman until San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome decide (rather correctly in hindsight) that his constitutional oath required he perform such marriages, with cameras running.  Before then, the issue was ignored as Catholic and other hospitals quietly denied access to long time companions to their dying partners. Conservativism triumphed without raising a fuss (my example).

Reactionaries also have a thing for violent militarism. It is their ideal crucible to judge worth, although of late winning in capitalism is its surrogate. It is as if they all deeply admire the Guardians in Plato’s Republic (again, my example) and feel that they are the only ones worthy to rule.

Part Two looks at Europe’s Old Regime Reactionaries (pardon the redundancy). Hobbes was the first reactionary studied (as long as there has been despotism, hierarchy or individualists, there has always been reaction). He battled the Democratals and defended Charles I of England. This did not go so well, as my Uncle Charles lost his head. Anyone who has taken history or political science is familiar with the Leviathan and the harsh state of nature. What they don’t know (private to Michael Sean Winters, pay attention) was that the Democratals claimed (as I do) that divinely given freedom of will implied a divine right for the people to rule, not the king.

I suspect that because there was no one Democratal leader who is remembered, people ignore the theory, which is essence of the modern enlightenment and continues today, with a balance between the collective rights of democracy and the individual right to choose one’s path. Either way, it is a question of natural rights, not natural law. The one does not require the other, and certainly not in the forms that reactionaries wish to impose, whether they be political or ecclesiastic. I sometimes think that conservatives are afraid that God is Ogre to be placated rather than a savior whose only interest is our happiness, with justice for us, not from us. Indeed, obligations from God would be on the conservatives, not the revolutionaries (my illustration). Hobbes places moral superiority with those with wealth or power, who have the natural right to rule. I suspect he would prefer the Ogre, especially if it kept the peasants in line.

Next is Edmund Burke. (I reviewed a book called Burke’s Politics in my undergraduate Political Theory Class. Burke’s writings and speeches seemed more situational than comprehensive because he was a working parliamentarian). While he is best known for his service to Crown and Country and his opposition to the French Revolution, Robin draws on his economic writings to make his points on reaction and value. While others have deemphasized the Speenhamland arrangements as parliamentary, Robin still believes it to be a subject of Burke’s thoughts on scarcity. The Speenhamland magistrates had drawn up a minimum wage system during a food crisis that not only supported the workers but was sensitive to their family size and debts. Indeed, one could argue that the current tax system is less generous, because while it takes $1000 per month to feed, house and care for a single child according to USDA estimates (which does not include daycare), the new tax bill provides roughly twice that for the entire year (again, my example). Burke would have no such regulation of wages. He would fit into the Freedom Caucus rather nicely.

Theoretically, the market sets prices for goods sold and goods and services purchased, however both Adam Smith and Burke admit that it is the capitalists who set prices, thus rewarding risk and acknowledging wealth, power and the favor of law. Of course, the first capitalists, as often as not, were of aristocratic background. We can consider Trump a modern noble. He certainly has taken advantage of law, particularly bankruptcy law, as well as his inherited wealth.

Burke also wrote on the value of his own service in terms of a pension, comparing his accomplishments to those of noble lords who had title and did nothing aside from venting from the cheap seats (the House of Lords). He almost got to the point where providing value was what led to value, but he could not throw away a life of justifying royal and noble privilege, even to justify a higher pension. I see Reaction is essentially loyalty over truth. I don’t seem them ever espousing any kind of standard labor hour regime, where base pay is equalized, and other allowances include dividends for getting a degree or allowances for family size. Still, we need to give them something new to oppose.

Next, we have Nietzsche, the Marginalists and the Austrians. All of these acknowledge the superior role of capitalists and wealth over the economy, rather than working with models depending on free market assumptions. Progress comes from capitalists, not workers. Concentrated wealth creates and controls innovation. Invention does not come from the shop floor (and if you look at most modern compensation agreements, it hardly comes from the research department because the CEO gets the rewards rather than the inventors, who instead get a higher salary but not big and continuing bonus for racking up patents, at least not the engineers I know).

Part 3 brings us back to the U.S. and into the mind of Ayn Rand. My friend Carl Milsted did a good job of Objectivism on his Holistic Politics web page. Corey and Carl do come to the same conclusion about this second-rate philosopher who depended more on Nietzsche than Aristotle (as she claimed), brings with her all of his elitism. Of course, she does create the architype of succeeding through bullshitting, which the American CEO class has perfected in its drive toward high personal compensation, most especially one Donald J. Trump.

Next, we go to Goldwater and the development of right wing victimhood, which Nixon perfected. Beyond it all is the continuing justification for inequality. While it always comes in the guise of celebrating the capable, those that are capable are usually white. Anyone who doubts that there is such a thing as white privilege should read this chapter a few times. Privilege has become victimhood for most (although I would argue most were not that capable anyway).

The Neocons march in as if on que. Robin could have mentioned the Defense Guidance Cheney wrote for Bush or his ready-made plan for the war in Iraq, but he sticks as much to the pundit intelligentsia who were almost pining for war when the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union vanished into the New Year, with Clinton cutting defense and talking peace. Then 9-11 happened and the chicken hawks thought that maybe the national will be rescued and America would recognize its imperial dreams. Bad Republican management of the war, which was not much better under Obama, nipped that pipe dream in the bud. For me, the irony became thick when people came back from war, they did run for office…as Democrats. They were part of the 2006 wave that made Nancy Pelosi Speaker and Harry Reid majority leader (again, my example). So much for war as a reactionary virtue.

Antonin Scalia, of recent memory, is next. He is called an affirmative action baby, probably because his colleagues put up with his nonsense, although there is now a version of Originalism that everyone can abide by, although they rule about the same way as before. Whether his Federalist Society friend, Neil Gorsuch, follows in his footsteps in reaction to privacy rights and the Fourteenth Amendment is still open, although I suspect the new Justice will follow Kennedy with time.

Lastly, we come to the Dealmaker-in-Chief, who seems to be way above his paygrade. Indeed, his shoot from the hip deal making this past weekend leaves the government shut down as his stiff convinces him to backtrack on what was agreed to. It seems he was also not much of a fan of due diligence in his dealings with the Russians, which may yet lead to his ouster. He wrote at one point about going after countries that launder money for our enemies. Irony? He claims he is not a fascist, but there are parallels with Hitler on both the Big Lie and, oddly enough, his obsession with decorating his buildings. For him, image is value. He thinks his name adds more than the workmanship of his Chinese labor force. Sadly, he may be right, which is why he won the election.

We are left with the madness of King Donald. I should not throw stones. Like Trump, I am a genius who does not sleep a lot (unless I take my meds). The difference is, I got my bipolar II diagnosis. What about Trump? You have to wonder what was in the medical file Trump’s Navy Flight Surgeon did not talk about or even share with his patient. Of course, there is no Deep State. Nothing stays hidden for long.

The author asks whether Trump will follow through on an agenda (of course, if his agenda is to undo the first black president, he is surely trying) or face a fresh call for revolution. At this writing I am finishing my client list of employee-owned firms whom I will be offering a much more cooperative, democratic and, indeed, socialistic way to operate. Is the current tired old reactionary script good enough to counter a call for workers to (democratically) control the means of consumption? including consuming management and government services (which the reactionaries may like)? We shall see. I expect Trump will soon have his hands full with Robert Mueller and his own demons and his reactionary party does not have the moral strength to rescue us from Trump’s battle with either, as they assume that his financial worth gives him moral worth. Pity that.


Monday, January 08, 2018

ANTIFA, The Anti-Fascist Handbook by Mark Bray


Bray was asked to write this book a month after Black Bloc protestors shut down Milo Yiannopoulos when he tried to spew his poison at U. Cal. Berkley last February. He was also planning to name undocumented students on the campus in his presentation and the University felt powerless to stop him. The Black Bloc was not so powerless and the disruption led to the cancellation of the event. This followed the prior fall and summer where anti-fascist protestors disrupted Trump events on a regular basis.

Fascism is hard to define as it is not a particularly intellectual pursuit. It thrives on racism, anti-Semitism, anti-feminism, anti-gay and with Milo and Trump, anti-immigrant organizing. Haters like this are not the smartest tools in the shed, from the Neo-Nazi KKK member, the idiots who persist in the belief that Obama was not born in Hawai’i, including the Idiot in Chief whose presidency seems to be solely about undoing everything Obama did, ignoring the fact that Obama pulled us out of the fires of 2008. The ANTIFA does not listen to people, it silences them, both from self-defense and because once these idiots gain power, the unthinking masses seem to follow them as they did in Germany and as they do now with Trump.

I suspect the strongest clue that one is a fascist is that the ANTIFA takes notice and works to disrupt your hate speech, which is still banned in some countries. If you a police chief and Black Lives Matter is protesting your headquarters, there may just be a problem of racism among your officers. Fascism is based on fear and fearing that someone might be armed is not reason to shoot them until you see a weapon. Any officer who can’t hold their fire until then is too much of a coward to protect and serve the public.

I am ancestrally Roma on my father’s side (may mother’s father’s side is descended from Plymouth and Jamestown, like Obama Bush and not like Trump. To say that my people in Europe are friendly to ANTIFA is a profound statement, especially in Italy. When we perceive danger, we tend to respond. If that happens here (although I am sure our people in New York have probably bought Trump ten times over), we will respond here.

The book starts with the lead-up to World War II and the inadequacy of the resistance in stopping the fascists, who did not take power by revolution. They maneuvered their way into it and were largely accepted by the masses in the right ethnic majorities. It would take too much space to describe the resistance during the war, but after the war it came about sporadically when Fascists started to organize and Jewish veterans in England would not let them hold their demonstration. They kept standing in their way until their own infighting doomed that particular outbreak. That was the pattern through the early 2000s and that is the pattern now. It is what works, with new tools such as Doxing (putting names to faces on the Internet and sending their employer the pictures) as well as traditional physical resistance, from blocking entrances to trains to marching routes.

There are a whole lot of tools in the shed and a serious discussion on why the are used. Anyone interested in helping or who things ANTIFA goes too far should buy the book. Bray seems to know everyone, from England to Greece to Syria (although his knowledge may be from secondary sources, which you can find on this blog).

The book also relates to the socialist nature of ANTIFA, although all anti-fascists are not socialists. Black Lives Matter is not a socialist organization but it is anti-fascist. Fascists do seem to be tools of capitalism, using racism, et al to keep the order need to operate the economics of worker, consumer and citizen domination. Finding a workable socialism is one way to solve the fascist problem permanently, not just the Scandinavian version, which retains the capitalist elite, or state capitalism, which is a form of fascism, but something more cooperative. The way to get there is not to wait for state action but to Occupy Capitalism. As frequent readers know, I have a whole blog on how to do that which you can easily Google using my name. The other solution is to dispense with the advantages of whiteness. Having a permanently coddled group standing ready to vote for Fascists like Trump is not healthy for the growth of society. Cooperative socialism that looks for talent wherever it may be rather than among the socially favored is one way. Making the majority aware that what it clings to is a myth is the other. It’s why we march.