Monday, October 27, 2008

Obama on abortion

In the 1990s the Christian right took possession of religion in American politics with the result that anyone who does not want to overturn Roe v. Wade or criminalize abortion is called “pro-abortion.” But putting women and doctors behind bars would do nothing to help either the unborn or born children.

Here is an editorial I wrote that appeared in the Newsleaders, which gave me permission to post it here. It was headlined,
“An Obama win could result in fewer abortions than a McCain win.”

“How in good conscience can you vote for Obama?” asked a Catholic friend. We were talking about abortion. This is my answer to her question.

I am pro-life, and that’s why I’ll vote for Barack Obama. Back in the days when McCain led my list of honorable Republicans, I admired his positions on the environment, on torture, and on Bush’s tax cuts for the rich. But to win the presidency he took right-wing positions opposed to his original ones.

Pro-life promotes the common good. McCain’s preference for unregulated markets and his shift to cutting taxes for millionaires and billionaires threaten funding for public services such as education and infrastructure that corporations don’t provide. Severe economic inequality threatens national well-being on many fronts, even national security.

Pro-life cares about children. Tax cuts for the fabulously wealthy leave children with poor child care, poor health care, poor education, and poor prospects for the future. A quarter of America’s children live in poverty.

Pro-life opposes killing. John McCain supports Bush’s war in Iraq, despite all the evidence that Iraq never was a threat to Americans. Warrior McCain’s only criticism of the war is that we should have killed more effectively. And he maintains that Islamic terrorism is “the transcendent challenge of our time,” a sure recipe for more stupid and costly military ventures. America’s job is to “defeat evil,” says McCain, which a conservative intellectual says “would make George Washington cough out his wooden teeth.”

Pro-life promotes public health. The Bush administration systematically undermines laws and regulations that protect the air, water, and soil needed for all life. To court the right wing, McCain chose as his running mate a woman known for her aerial shooting of wolves and her far right position on global warming.

Pro-life means more than keeping a fetus alive, because life does not end at birth. Pro-life cares about the death penalty, war, and torture, about economic justice, health care, and sustainable living to protect the planet, about reducing gun violence, all issues on which Republicans have a more shameful record than Democrats.

Obama’s positions on foreign policy and on several domestic issues do not match mine exactly, but I will vote for him because he demonstrates greater intelligence, integrity, and judgment than McCain.

Obama supports “doing everything we can to avoid unwanted pregnancies” and he got that into the Democratic platform, but the Republican platform has no abortion-reduction language. Statistics from the Guttmacher Institute showed that states giving more aid to families show a 20 percent lower abortion rate than other states. Such help for poor women would be undercut by McCain’s economic policies. For these reasons, an Obama win could result in fewer abortions than a McCain win.

Criminalizing abortion would not end them—some studies show it would not reduce their number at all—and prosecuting women and doctors for abortion would only add weight to the pro-choice side. Furthermore, it would cause more deaths as desperate women would submit to unsafe abortions. Besides that, it would simply kick the controversy back to the states where it could fester longer and more bitterly.

Abortion is wrong, but as Bernard Evans asserts in Vote Catholic?: Beyond the Political Din, the Judaeo-Christian tradition teaches that our public policies should promote the common good, and its persistent theme has been the charge to uplift the poor. John XXIII said that a country’s prosperity should be measured by its “distribution of goods according to norms of justice.” In other words, not abortion, but social justice should be the governing issue for those of us who vote our conscience.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Blog Index

I am elated because Peter Ohmann finished my blog index (Look right below "Blog archive"). Two brothers Ohmann, Peter, a college student, and Tony, a high school student, have been my computer geeks for about a year. They know how to navigate the technology jungle required for a website and blog. It’s so pleasant having smart young people to depend on.

I hope you have as great a time as I did perusing my index to read essays I posted in the past. Now you can just click on titles that interest you and up come my essays. Then click “comments” to respond, or click on the contact button on my website.

The index isn’t finished yet, because it doesn’t include posts of the last two months. We’ll get to it, but the recent ones are easy to access anyway. Maybe you’ll want to request topics or make other suggestions.

Here is the link to Victoria Moran’s interview of me, an Internet radio show:

Friday, October 17, 2008

Riane Eisler

At the Women and Spirituality conference in Mankato I was motivated to return to a recurrent theme in my writing—the global shift from POWER OVER to POWER WITH.

Keynoter at the conference was Riane Eisler, social scientist, recipient of many awards, and author of the international bestseller The Chalice and the Blade, as well as many other articles and books. She is one of the authors I credit for my realization of the power shift needed, as she puts it, from domination to partnership. I read Chalice and Blade many years ago, but I plan to reread it as well as dive into her latest book, The Real Wealth of Nations.

It corrects Adam Smith’s exclusive focus on unfettered markets in his The Wealth of Nations; Eisler includes the life-supporting activities of households, communities, and nature to sum up the real wealth of nations. The GDP (Gross Domestic Product) features not at all, or very little, the caring work performed disproportionately by women, but their work is absolutely essential to it.

A few of us were fortunate to attend a luncheon with Riane Eisler, and that’s when I saw her activist strain as she worked to ensure that her vision has legs in the real world. I intend to contribute to her effort by spreading understanding of her thoroughly researched insights. We need to seize this opportunity of our nation’s financial crisis to build a more caring, equitable, and sustainable economic system.

April 5, 2009
For an indictment of Republicans and Democrats, of past and present American governments despoiling our entire financial system, watch
Rob a bank.
Bill Moyers interviewed Bill Black, the man who uncovered the S & L scandal and is author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank is to Own One. The transcript is also available at transcript.

I got several emails in response to this video, reacting strongly to it.

April 6.
I’ve been getting more feedback on the Moyers interview with Bill Black. One supplied the URL for another Moyers-economist interview a while ago. At American Oligarchs you’ll see Simon Johnson, whose message closely intertwines with Black’s.
One hopeful note from his statements: He said the IMF (International Monetary Fund) does NOT agree with the insider financial elites who got us into this mess. This bodes well because the IMF was given new power and new funds at the G-20 summit.

Gary Younge, a columnist in The Nation, pointed out that the media hullabaloo over AIG bonuses sends the wrong message. It says we envy the rich. That’s not it. It’s about injustice, not envy.
We need to focus on the system that lets the wealthy enrich themselves at the expense of the middle class.

What to do? That’s the response from some. I think Obama sincerely wants to hear from ordinary people. If we communicate with political leaders, I hope our message reaches him through the din of noise echoing in the beltway. If you have good ideas for how to do that, clue us in, please.