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.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Letter to the Nuncio regarding Bishop Paprocki denying Eucharist to Senator Durbin

Your Excellency.

The actions of Springfield bishop Paprocki regarding Senator Durbin cannot stand.

Firstly, when St. Paul wrote in Corinthians regarding unworthy reception of Eucharist, he was referring to non-belief in the Sacrament itself, not any idea of mortal sin.

Second, Dignitas Humanae does not require Catholic politicians to turn secular nations into Catholic ones.

Third, this matter, in genenral, was discussed by the American bishops in the guise of the McCarrick commission and the positioin announced by Bishop Paprocki violate that collegiality.

Fourth, while the Congress can, under the 14th Amendment’s enforcement provisions, dictate the stage at which abortion, which is protected because the unborn life is not legally recognized, becomes infanticide, where that life is, (requiring sanctions on both mother and doctor), such language was not added to the bill in question, making the subjectd legislation unconstitutional, or at least apparently so. Neither was there any notion of compromise, which would include a living wage of $1000 per child per month via some kind of tax rebate payable with wage, as mandated by Pope Pius XI in Casti Connubii 119-122. That there are political options makes the Bishop’s action inappropriate at the very least and shows that the position of some American bishops is partisan Republicanism, which is a scandal that your Excellency must address.

Fifth, because the Bishop is using the Eucharist to punish the Senator for what the Senator rightly believes is upholding his oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution, the action of the bishop amounts to Sedition in fact, although not dejure as the Sedition Act has expired.

Sixth, this is not the first time that this bishop has put his fealty to party before his duties to Christ. I ask you to please take appropriate action and remove his office, as he is unfit for Ordination. Please do not simply transfer him to Rome or your dilomatic corps. The Holy Father has enough problems with the Curia without adding Bishop Paprocki to the mix.

Yours in Christ,

Michael Gerard Paul Bindner



Friday, February 16, 2018

Hey, Michael Sean!: Food baskets come with a Gilded Age moral lesson

Hey, Michael Sean!: Food baskets come with a Gilded Age moral lesson: https://www.ncronline.org/news/opinion/distinctly-catholic/food-baskets-come-gilded-age-moral-lesson MGB:_This budget is more than dead on arrival, FY19 appropriations have already been passed. Doing so largely mitigated the damage that could have been caused by the tax cut, but it is the spending that will cause jobs, not the tax cut. If the nation is insane enough to keep the GOP in office, there may be later spending cuts which will lead to a recession, but if we keep spending until Democrats can raise taxes again, there will actually be economic growth (mostly because the Democrats traded letting defense cuts pass to get domestic spending).



The tax system is ripe for reform, not just by raising rates on the rich but by removing the more from the tax roles, transferring this tax payment to consumption taxes (the income taxes of workers are essentially a hidden consumption tax), including a subtraction VAT which contains a credit of $1000 per child per month paid with wages, that living wage that Catholic social teaching not only favors, it mandates some form of distribution like that. Having such a credit can result in an end to SNAP, so no food boxes would be necessary. About 74% of abortions would not be necessary either.



People on SNAP do eat badly. This is because the amounts are under what is needed to buy food. Entitlements were cut so that when AFDC was turned to TANF, states would not simply switch to SNAP to take care of the job resistant (these are now either abandoned from the rolls or steered to disability). SNAP is now is even worse for people who need cash (everyone) to buy toilet paper or diapers, so they are forced to trade their cards for fifty cents on the dollar. Including a cash grant is much more essential than a box of food, which many SNAP recipients already get from local food pantries.



Sadly, much of that food is donated from super markets when it has reached the expiration debt (although some of this is simply sent to minority neighborhood stores for sale in food deserts). SNAP is not charity, it is justice, but if it were charity it would disgraceful in in paucity. Food pantry boxes often contain food that is or is about to spoil. Matthew 25 says that when we feed the hungry, we are feeding the Lord. Boxed excess food is often second rate. Is that what we would truly feed Jesus? Are we giving the sacrifice of Cain, which was not accepted and caused him to kill his brother who did give a good offering? Give people money instead and more heavily regulate the quality of food in poor neighborhoods.



Full disclosure. I spent much of last year using pantry food to supplement my disability income. If I am forced to stop drawing from my IRA because of value loss, I will be doing so again, so I know how bad the food can get, not through any malice but because everything donated is distributed (even if it should be composted). I cannot imagine the government doing better.



Conservatives believe we must punish the poor (not a Christian attitude) because if we suppor them (or rather if you suppor us), we will lose the incentive to go and invent the next version of the Internet, join the military and be shot at by the Taliban or simply be there to give you your morning coffee because you are too stupid to use an espresso machine or too lazy to clean it with each use. A servant economy depends on having poor people to be servants. Suffering is seen as a way to enforce conformity to society’s worthies (like our billionaire President).



Giving people a tax cut for each child will take people out of the labor force and allow them not fear poverty If they chose to work in a theater or library or sell hot dogs at the ball park. It may require higher prices to pay the taxes and any higher minimum wage (since no one should have to work for peanuts just to get a child tax credit, but that uncovers the problem with a sane economy that serves everyone, rich people are cheap, entitled and resentful of the poor. It is still hard for the rich to gain the kingdom of God, not (just) in Heaven, but in the earthly kingdom on earth (Thy kingdom come).


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Catholic Idols?

Before Mass on Sunday, I was making my way to my pew and came across an old Latina woman kneeling before a statue of Mary with a look of rapturous love on her face. If Mary herself had been walking by, she would have likely admonished the woman for giving worship to a graven image. Of course, what Mary knew came from the teachers of her time and was not far removed from the exile, where much of Judaism was codified, including the part about graven images. It may have originally come from the a meditating Moses on Mt. Horeb, however the reality of that encounter is lost to time, save for what could be an altar with twelve pillars that has been found at the foot of the mountain. Legend has it that Moses heard a voice, but it could have been his own thinking, which is good news for the woman at Mass who is merely violating a suggested moral dictum. There seems to be something in humans that wants a visible icon for worship and or veneration. The Monstrance is such an image. It meets a human need, but it delivers no grace until its contents are ingested. Still, if it gives people hope to get to the next world, it cannot be a bad thing, even if we contradict ourselves by allowing it.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Another Catholic Voice in the Public Square – February 2018 edition

It was disappointing, but not unexpected, that this bill went down to defeat.  I have no doubt it was meant to, because a successful abortion bill would have to be bipartisan and that would be the end of the game for the use of abortion as a way to get out Republican and Democratic voters.  I have already blogged about this issue in response to the coverage by National Catholic Reporter at   https://www.ncronline.org/news/politics/pro-life-leaders-decry-senate-failure-pass-20-week-abortion-ban  

First of all, with Pence presiding, they could evoke the Nuclear Option and passed with 50 votes. This was choreographed, and Dolan is playing his part. The last thing the USCCB wanted was a win because a win would have ended the issue and forced the bishops to call poverty an intrinsic evil (which it is). These procedures are incredibly rare, but if this bill is fixed correctly the issue could be ended with the right references to the Constitution. 
Second, this bill could have been made constitutional by tying it to the enforcement power of the 14th Amendment and by including standard exceptions for rape, incest, threat to life (already in the bill) and threat to health when the fetus is doomed to be stillborn (needs to be added). It would also have to consider all abortions after 20 weeks to infanticide, with penalties on the mother as well. Equal protection under law requires it and those who don’t understand that need to find a new issue. One final thing, an excepted abortion must be limited to induction or Cesearean or required fetal pain elimination. 
Third, a bill to settle the issue would need to increase the Child Tax Credit to $1000 per child per month, which is what the USDA says it costs to properly raise the child, although it could be varied if states paid part and only up to local cost. There few abortions in any trimester if the GOP acedes to this, of course, this is where they start talking about people taking individual responsibility. How is that pro-life if such a requirement causes three-quarters of all abortions?

Calling The Susan B. Anthony Fund a pro-life organization rather than a Republican front group, especially given its propensity to go after pro-life Democrats (especially after the Affordable Care Act passed), is outrageous.  Citing the Washington Times as anything but a Republican Rag is not something that should be done if you are speaking for the entire parish.

The women's rights issue is settled as long as you wish to regulate abortion as a medical procedure, which the bill did, rather than using Congressional power under the 14th Amendment to grant personhood to the unborn constitutionally (which is the only way that matters in Court and Congress) and which exposes women who procure abortions at that stage in pregnancy to a charge of infanticide.  Attempts to have it both ways are a great way to elect Republicans, but the deaths of millions of fetuses are as much on your hands for not seeking a real solution.

The Old Testament law on abortion includes mandating it if adultery is suspected (Num 6) and the penalties for loss of a fetus demonstrate that the unborn child was considered property, not a person, whose death could be punished with a cash payment.  Pre-Roe abortion law was in that class.  It was only because Roe considered such behavior to be what it was, an attempt to regulate female fertility, that abortion could be banned.

A deal is easily made in Congress.  The parameters seem to be 20 weeks on the right (throwing first trimester and early second trimester fetuses under the bus) and viability. Assisted viability without long term complications at 25 weeks is probably the end point of any negotiation, except neither side is willing to negotiate.  It would end the issue, cost too much campaign cash and too much volunteer time on both sides.

That Mrs. Clinton did not, as I recommended to her and to President Obama (who followed my advice through my friend Alice Germond), cite the campaign nature of the debate (as if any Democratic woman would vote against her) is what helped lose the election, although recent disclosures from Black Lives Matter show it is more that she did not do enough for that vote and that she was being punished for her husbands mandatory minimums probably had more to do with her loss than any debate points on Partial Birth Abortion or the countless letters from bishops in the Midwest on the issue. Catholics did not win it for Trump. BLM lost it for Clinton in Detroit, Philly, Milwaukee and Cleveland. Still, supporting Trump and his racism cries to Heaven for Vengence.

I would not call women's healthcare a constitutional right because providing it is done as a matter of positive law.  The only way it can be considered a right is that if health care is provided to an eligible women, that denying her reproductive health is an interference with a positive right being granted, which would be unconstitutional sexual discrimination, even if Republicans get away with it.  Federal abortion funding is only provided under the exclusions in the Hyde Amendment and I am sure that it is not what VOT (almost sounds like VOTE, how unfortunate) was referring to.

Regarding the list of "Facts:"

The right to life in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments is limited to governmental action.  For instance, if state welfare agencies decided that after the fifth child, Medicaid beneficiaries were required to have abortions, or if you executed a pregnant woman, that would be a violation of the right to life. China has mandatory abortion. We do not.  For the same reason, mandating birth control in a criminal proceeding, which has been done, or limiting the amount of TANF benefits you can get if you have additional children, which is the law as passed by Gingrich and signed by Clinton, is probably unconstitutional.  While the pro-life side did object to this provision, its objections have died out, which is shameful.  If you want to defend life, start there with the lives you don't particularly want to defend.

Funding for Planned Parenthood does not result in funding for abortion, unless of course you consider the unscientific view preventing a blastocyst from attaching is abortion.  It is not.  A blastocyst contains undifferentiated cells inside of the thoroblast, which is not a part of the child and is eventually delivered as the placenta.  The stem cells are not a person until they begin to organize, this being evidence some kind of organizing energy, force or soul.  Taking cells out a a thoroblast does not harm the eventual child.  After gastrulation, limbs are missing.

The sexuality of a human being is decided both by genetics and whether epigenetic events take place.  We are not sure how gender dysphoria occurs or why some children are born with intersexed genitalia, but research continues and that fact that these things are naturally occurring, and should be respected when these children decide how to live out their GOD-given sexuality is beyond question.  The Church should not interfere with the latter.

Until the thoroblast and stem cells are separated, the development of the zygote is known to be controlled by the maternal genes.  Gastrulation is the first time the male contributions have any say in the development of the child.  That is not theory, but scientific fact.

74% of abortions are financial. 5% are health related (although I suspect that quite a few therapeutic abortions would have occurred to those who hurriedly received an elective abortion. The difference are women who are not sociopaths, but who unthinkingly chose abortion for sociopathic reasons. Nothing the movement has ever said will stop them from such a course and the movement's inability to get behind a $1000 per month child tax credit shows that there are plenty of sociopaths on the Republican side as well.  There is no more sociopathic view than to be pro-life but to deny the need to help all families with children have a middle-class income just because they don't want to pay a bit more in taxes, and certainly no more than they can afford.

That the law contains restrictions on using women's health money is beyond question.  The assertion that all funds are fungible toward abortion is just plain wrong.  There are two OMB circulars relating to financial management by non-profits grantees.  If you think PPUSA offices are not meeting their requirements, even in the face of audit evidence that the really are, make a complaint to the sponsoring agency but quit lying about it in the public square.  The two circulars are A-110 and A-133.  Read them yourselves. Consult a real lawyer before for you repeat calumny about PPUSA.
https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Circular-110.pdf
https://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/whitehouse.gov/files/omb/circulars/A133/a133.pdf

The question of why women get abortions and why doctors provide them is fundamental  PBS Frontline did a special Emmy-winning episode called The Abortion Clinic where one of the doctors explained that they get into this grim task not because they like it but because they know that the alternatives for these women are bad care or self-induced abortion.  Anyone who is sure they know how evil these doctors are should watch the episode. https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/twenty/watch/abortion.html

Has this newsletter made a difference? That depends.  If you wish to justify your side, then yes. But you are not speaking for all of the parish who can have faith-filled positions and disagree with you, as I have.  I suggest posting all of your pieces on either the parish site or on your own and allow comment, including a box to check designating one is a member.  Dialogue is necessary on this issue or it will be continually categorized as an election year screed.  When that is successfully done, Catholic votes tend to match votes in society at large, as they did in 2008.  It is only by letting us all speak and respond that we might approach not only the truth, but a common strategy to eliminate abortion by eliminating the need for it.

I am still surprised that the March on Washington did not receive its own issue.  I commented extensively at http://xianleft.blogspot.com/2018/01/roe-v-wade-45-years-later-debate.html