Michael Bindner's DC Blog

In this blog, I discuss DC politics and other issues of import to local government. I have posted several essays from my book, Musings from the Christian Left, on blog entreies dated June 2004.

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Location: Alexandria, Virginia, United States

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

NCR's Person of the Year | National Catholic Reporter

NCR's Person of the Year | National Catholic Reporter by MSW.  MGB: This was a good choice, since unlike the bishops, he was not willing to undo health care for his own agenda or to affect the election.

G. Lee Aikin for Better Government: A FAMILY HISTORY OF LABOR ACTIVISM

G. Lee Aikin for Better Government: A FAMILY HISTORY OF LABOR ACTIVISM: MY BIOGRAPHY, Prepared for Unite Here, Local 25 (hotel and restaurant workers), with an emphasis on labor oriented aspects of my life experi... is why Lee Aiken needs to run for Council for Phil's seat.

G. Lee Aikin for Better Government: SAVE LOWER INCOME TAXPAYERS & BUSINESS

G. Lee Aikin for Better Government: SAVE LOWER INCOME TAXPAYERS & BUSINESS: In the process of running for office, the most disturbing issue I have discovered is that our elected officials failed to keep track of and ... about DC tax rates. Also a must read.

G. Lee Aikin for Better Government: DC People Overpay for Years as Council Neglects In...

G. Lee Aikin for Better Government: DC People Overpay for Years as Council Neglects In...: Testimony at Comm. On Finance & Rev. (Jack Evans, Chair), January 9, 2012, regarding B19-512, the Age-in-Place and Equitable Senior Citizen ... is a must see.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

To do list for Statehood

Robert McCartney considers prospects for statehood in today's Washington Post. This is a good analysis, mainly because it deals with the two main obstacles. Linking those obstacles is what it will take to get this issue moving. If we need prisons and our neighbors fear commuter taxes, than the solution is to work out a deal for all commuter taxes to go to Virginia and Maryland to house our felony convicts, any District mental patients transferred to these states for institutional care and for bridge work on the Potomac and Anacostia rivers (which benefit commuter traffic).

There are two other things DC must do for statehood. The first is to redraw the lines of the residual District of Columbia in HR51. Right now, it includes the entire National Capital Service Area and the military bases in DC. It should not, because there are people who live on those bases who would be entitled to vote under the 23rd Amendment and because locating that area outside the new state would forever lose the leverage of the ability to tax that income (to house our prisoners and asylees). The related task is to have the President appoint an administrator for the National Capital Service Area to work out an annual reimbursement for providing District services to that area - and to pay the District back for all those years when there was no agreement (as required by the Home Rule Act). The candidate who comes out in front on that issue will be considered a hero - and Fenty is a fool for not pursuing this issue 3 years ago (it was discussed in his transition team). Hopefully, Vincent Gray will not be deterred from raising this issue loudly.

The final thing that must happen is for Statehood advocates to get over their pathological fear of discussion retrocession. It is time to include within HR51 language giving Maryland the opportunity to support retrocession or petition for retrocession. Inserting this language defeats the Republican argument that retrocession is the solution to the District's problems. In essence, to put this language in defeats their argument by giving them what they want - consideration of retrocession. Maryland has been long opposed to any such step, so it is an easy give. We could even ask them to consider it now to get the this issue out of the way. Indeed, all of what I have suggested could be done now (with the exception of redrawing the lines of the residual District), before a statehood bill is even considered.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Myth of White Supremacy Falls to Science

In the past few weeks, it has been revealed that non-African humans have a common genetic heritage with Neanderthals that is not present among those who have never left Africa (where Homo Sapiens evolved). Neanderthal man is a lesser species of Human - of lower intelligence, possibly pre-linguistic and of lesser emotional control with a less developed frontal lobe. This kind of blows the theory of white superiority out of the water. The hybrid is not as strong (watch sports lately?), more prone to violence and uncontrolled emotion, has unsightly body hair and is more prone to skin cancer. Indeed, the whole moral concept of Original Sin may describe the flaws in the character of hybrid humans rather than an endemic part of human nature - although Africa seems to have been infected with it by white colonization.

This should upset the whole basis for white priviledge - or rather should it into the perspective of a permanent inferiority complex which the white race can never live down - but only interbreed itself out of. This would only pollute the master species, of course, with lesser DNA - but it is a better alternative to true homo sapiens engaging in genocide against the rest of the planet (including African Americans, who are also polluted genetically by interbreeding with white slave owners).

What amazes me most is that no one else seems to have raised this point in reaction to the latest scientific news. I say most of this with tongue firmly in cheek - though not entirely. There are still people who regard the white race as God's gift to the planet. The new genetic analysis should prove that this is not the case - that there is no justification by white racists for any such claims when we are, in fact, the product of intermarriage with an inferior species.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Christian Left: White Racial Superiority Disproven - Our Neanderthal Past

The Christian Left: White Racial Superiority Disproven - Our Neanderthal Past

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Gay Marriage and Catholic Charities

The Council of the District of Columbia is in the process of enacting legislation establishing same-sex marriage within its borders. No church is required to celebrate these unions (although undoubtedly, some will), however if they are employers, they must cover gay spouses as if they were straight spouses. The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington has threatened to close up shop on Catholic Charities in D.C. if it must cover these spouses.

There has been quite a bit of blowback on this, with many posting rather nasty things about the Church on the Washington Post blogs on the story. Is it deserved?

Some of it is bigotry, however I think some of it is deserved, since it is a response to bigotry by the Church's leadership.The Church itself is not just the hierarchy. It includes the priests (some of whom are gay - possibly up to half according to survey research) and the people (many of whom have a gay child, sibling, parent or cousin).

I think the underlying reason for the hierarchy's opposition is not because they would have to compromise their beliefs, but because by the District opening up the door on marriage, they will face internal pressure to re-examine the issue - something they are loathe to do.The question of whether the Church is being bigoted should be examined in how it treats heterosexual spouses of those married in non-religious ceremonies. In terms of Church doctrine, these marriages are as illicit as a gay marriage (although, in truth, sacramental marriage results when the people concerned promise fidelity to eachother, not when the priest says the magic words). If the Church really has a problem providing benefits to people in illicit unions, it should object to providing benefits to spouses not married in a Christian ceremony.

Since it does not make such distinctions, and indeed should not be able to do so under law, it stands to reason it should also respect the civil law regarding gay marriage as an employer, and that failure to do so is bigotry.In prior days, Catholics rallied around the Church leaders, even when they were wrong. We don't do that any more, since most of us are a bit more free thinking than we used to be, having utilized Catholic education, including a fine collegiate system.

Sorry, Archbishop Wuerl, but I won't back your play this time. I also will withhold future contributions to Catholic Charities if you do anything to diminish services. I suspect there are other Catholics who will do likewise.

As gay marriage becomes recognized more and more, probably due to an eventual Supreme Court decision affirming the overturning of Proposition 8 in California (since the 9th Circuit will undoubtedly rule against it), many of us will demand that the Church actually celebrate gay unions (which, I suspect, is what the Archbishop is really afraid of).

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Election postmortem

As anyone with a television, newspaper or Internet connection knows, Republicans have captured governorships in Virginia and New Jersey, for the first time since the civil war, a progressive candidate has beaten the conservative in the 23rd congressional district of New York, and gay marriage was stopped by referendum in Maine (barely), while medical marijuana was enacted there.

In Virginia, the election was not even close as newly registered young and African American voters stayed home. Even though, at the last minute, the Catholic Church engaged in a full-court press on values issues, primarily abortion, this was not an issue that was highlighted by the winning candidate. Indeed, the Governor of any state has little to say about abortion, since Roe v. Wade quite correctly bars state action on this issue beyond regulating late term abortions (because who is and who is covered under law is quite properly a federal civil rights question under the 14th Amendment and because until someone is given legal recognition, their interests cannot constitutionally be considered by the state - which is why women have a right to privacy in obtaining abortion services in the first trimester until and unless Congress moves the date). Sadly, the voters that stayed home and the Catholics who voted for the Governor-elect will find that his economic policies will not benefit either them or the unborn.

In New Jersey, the result was surprisingly close, given the outgoing Governor's unpopularity. In both cases, the race was not decided on hot button social issues, but rather on the competence of the opponent. There was not victory for values based conservatism in either race. Indeed, in the only race where ideology and values were the focus of the race, the conservative candidate was beaten in a race which should have been an easy Republican victory. While that says as much about the nomination process as the race, it still provides a lesson on what the Republican Party needs to do to stay alive. From what I have heard about conservative preparations for 2010, however, this lesson seems lost on them. In the short run, what NY-23 means is another Democratic vote for health care. It almost makes me hope that this one vote is the margin of victory in the House of Representatives.

The fact that the election was close is actually quite telling. Five years ago, when citizen votes against gay marriage were more common and were largely a reaction to actions by the Mayor of San Francisco when he took constitutional interpretation into his own hands by performing gay weddings, the margins were much bigger. They are steadily growing smaller and as older, more conservative voters "age out," will likely go the other way.

More importantly, they show why it is not good for governments to put individual rights up to a vote. Luckily, the federal constitution can be used - and has been used - to overturn such folly - as it did when Colorado voters passed a constitutional amendment prohibiting gay rights legislation. This amendment was overturned by the federal courts because it was precipitated by malice towards gays and lesbians (such malice is hardly a Catholic virtue - indeed there is nothing in canon law which mandates or even allows legal discrimination against gays and lesbians). These precedents are being used in an effort to overturn California's Proposition 8 and I have every confidence that this challenge will succeed and be applied to all 31 instances where state constitutions were used to define marriage as being between a man and a woman. As I have said elsewhere, this misquote of scripture originates in the Genesis myth (and Catholics do now believe the story is mythical, not factual) and was used by Jesus not to condemn gay marriage but to affirm the equality of women within marriage.

When I was in marriage preparation with my soon to be wife, we were taught that neither the Priest nor the state make the marriage, rather the sacrament is performed by the two people getting married. It is only recognized by the state and witnessed by the Priest (and congregation). I was taught the same thing in Catholic High School. Aside from bigotry and a quaint (and unscientific) view of sexuality by a celibate clergy, I see no reason why this teaching does not apply equally to homosexuals. Indeed, if we wish homosexuals to listen to the Church regarding spiritual matters, we must listen to them when they inform us of how their sexuality occurs to them - especially if we are counseling monogamy. Telling young people that they are disordered leads many of them to suicide and equating promiscuous and monogamous sex leads some to situations where they acquire HIV. To a very real extent, our blood is as much on our hands as when society allows abortion (if not more so).

When (not if) the federal courts mandate gay marriage, I would hope that the Church celebrates them as a comfort to the families, since weddings (unlike marriages) are about the families letting go of their child (or parent) in favor of the new spouse. It is better that this letting go happen in the protective embrace of the Church, which can then use the occasion to counsel monogamy and fidelity in these relationships (which would be countercultural). Opting for gay marriage as a lesser thing actually damages marriage as a concept more than celebrating marriages would. Indeed, domestic partnership is not a good substitute for the Sacrament of Matrimony.

The Maine election also shows that, even if the public does not agree, the elected legislators in "blue states" are coming around to marriage equality. This has implications for when marriage restrictions are overturned by the federal courts. With Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco as Speaker of the House, I cannot foresee any amount of backlash that will lead to a congressionally initiated constitutional amendment overturning such a ruling. Such an amendment could only come by constitutional conventions called by the states. If blue state assemblies cannot be counted on to ratify such an amendment (or even call the convention), there is no stopping marriage equality.

This issue was also important in the Attorney General's race in Virginia. I still find it troubling
that the Attorney General-elect has vowed to fight for the obviously federally unconstitutional amendment to the Virginia Constitution which prohibits legal arrangements which simulate marriage, since he must vow to uphold the federal constitution. Of course, I think the closest he will be able to get to such a defense is joining in an Amicus Curie brief when this issue finally gets to the Supreme Court. I doubt he will even be able to write it (although from what I have heard of his legal skills, I hope he is the one to write it since I do not wish him success in such an endeavor).

Lastly, the easy passage of medical marijuana in Maine is also telling on the general prospects for conservatism. With the sexual revolution, marijuana use was a harbinger of the 60s (which actually began in 1959 in terms of cultural transformation according to a new book on the subject). If conservatism were really on the march, this effort would have failed. As opponents of such measures rightly point out, this is a toehold on general legalization and the end of their war on drug users generally. Just thought I would point that out to take some of the wind out of their sails after last night.