Statement on SB 8

The 87th Legislature passed Senate Bill 8, the so-called “Texas Heartbeat Act”. I find myself in a torn state regarding this bill.

First, I sincerely believe in the sacredness of the whole human life—the “whole life movement” is a fair bucket that I fit into. On that front, reducing abortion is a good thing.

Second, that being said and in accordance with looking holistically at the whole life, Texas still supports capital punishment, will not expand Medicaid access, does not support working parents through family-leave, maternity/paternity policies, and is actively pushing COVID policies that are opposed to the common good. (Though, to be fair, they did expand Medicaid to new months from 60-days postpartum to a full six months in this session). SB 8 places restrictions on abortions without address any of the societal structures that promote abortion. The CDC has incomplete-yet-best-we-have data on abortions that detail the self-reported reasons women have sought an abortion. By restricting access to abortion without addressing the structure that puts women into difficult situations, we are increasing back-alley abortions.

Without breaching confidentiality, from my campus ministry days, I realize the fear, pressure, and panic that can occur with an unexpected pregnancy.

While I believe the world would be better without abortions, I want a world where children are celebrated, women are supported, men are responsible, those that need financial or material help get it—that’s a world where abortion makes a lot less sense. I reject the hypocrisy of those who fly a pro-life banner, yet reject attempts to create stronger societal structures to support humanity.

Lastly, I object to the enforcement mechanism in the bill. It is a novel idea—trying to provide enough cover to avoid the Supreme Court—where the State has no enforcement power. There’s no crime or criminal process. Only a civil process and the State or officers of the State are prohibited from executing it. This allows anyone to sue anyone as the way to enforce this. I think this is a dangerous can of worms.

If anything I’ve seen in the last couple of years is I do not trust nor want the general population of people to attempt to enforce things themselves. Between neighbors fighting neighbors over HOA rules to a few men chasing down a Black man and killing him because they thought he was up to no good, I do not foresee anything healthy, productive, or good to society coming about through this mechanism.

I hope efforts like “Pro-Life Whistleblowers” stop. I figure they have a lot of poor data after efforts like the TikTok creator who created an iOS shortcut to fill in random information.

I realize this position makes me too conservative for most of my non-church friends and makes me too liberal for a lot of my church friends. I share this primarily to present a different perspective than the general conservative or general liberal views that I’ve been seeing thus far.

Happy Independence Day! 🇺🇸

Today, we celebrate our nation’s birthday. Before country, God is my first sovereign and following that I have a deep love for our country.

The American Experiment, 244 years after the Declaration of Independence, is still ongoing and still a work in progress.

The declaration made by the thirteen colonies is a declaration that we continue to make—”we hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

Thomas Jefferson, who penned these words, had many faults. All those who signed the Declaration in 1776 had faults. All of us who lived under the country formed by these words have faults.

The American ideal is one where we do not accept these faults. The American ideal demands that we work through them and past them.

“That all men are created equal.” Even in 1776 as we proclaimed it to be self-evident, it was not realized. When they said “men”, men are to whom rights were extended. White men, actually, and property owners at that. In the last 244 years, we have continued to shed away boundaries and distinctions that have separated us from stating that “all men are created equal” and living that all people are created equal.

Next month, we celebrate 100 years of women having the constitutional right to vote. Last February, we celebrated 150 years since race was no longer a factor—though it took us far too long after that to realize that constitutional amendment in a substantial way across the land.

Today, we continue our struggle making the American Ideal a reality. We are dealing with long-brewing inequality that still exists in our society. For many, this has been a daily experience. For many others, they may never have realized it existed. This is a difficult time—but that is not a bad thing. For us to best honor our heritage, we have to continue pushing to realize our Declaration of Independence, which means continuing the American Revolution. The battle against England has long, long been settled, but the battle to rise above ourselves to be better, to be the shining city on a hill that serves as the beacon of democracy and governance to all.

I love this country. I firmly believe that being an American and striving for these ideals make me a better person (and a better Catholic). That love of country does not mean there are not faults in America nor does it mean that I accept these faults. My love demands that I take an honest account of where we stand in our American Experiment, to utilize our self-evident rights that we have etched into our Bill of Rights, and to push to make this country better for my children and grandchildren than the one I’m in today.

If I can’t look at this country honestly, if I can’t hear the experiences of others and see the flaws that we still have, if I fail to heed the least of our brothers and sisters—both citizens and those outside our borders who believe this land is the land of hope and opportunity, then there is no way for me to make this country better for myself, my family, or my fellow citizens.

Texas Won't Help

Texas will not be resettling refugees in the new fiscal year, Gov. Greg Abbott told federal officials Friday.

Source: Gov. Greg Abbott Says Texas Won’t Resettle Refugees In 2020

Governor Greg Abbot is not opting Texas into the federal refugees settlement program. Under President Trump, the program changed to require specific opt-in by local officials. After 40+ states opted-in, Texas became the first to opt-out.

I’m very disappointed in our state, in particular our governor. The same day that he celebrates how strong Texas’ economy is, he announces Texas will not opt-in because we have too many needs at home.

We must not create and maintain this fear in “the other”—those who are homeless or those who are being settled into the Unites States. Texas can do better.

NPR Interviews George W. Bush

Bush has dedicated billions to combat AIDS in Africa and recently traveled to the continent. If nothing had been done about the pandemic during his time in office, he said, “I would’ve been ashamed.”

Source: George W. Bush Calls Foreign Aid A Moral And Security Imperative

I was not a huge fan of President Bush while he was in office. I think his Iraq policy was extremely problematic and one we will be dealing with for sometime. The Patriot Act and his post-9/11 war against terrorism as an abstract created a dynamic of how we view and interact with authority that we will be realizing the negative effects of for some time (hello, United, using police to remove passengers from a plane).

All that said, I like him post-presidency and it is striking his interview with NPR compared to the current administration​ so far.

Worth the read and per Morning Edition on air this morning, there will be more on other topics discussed during the interview dropping during the day.

Election is Still Raw

Shouting match erupts between Clinton and Trump aides

The Washington Post covered a usually mundane post-election event at Harvard where the various political players of the campaigns get together to discuss what went right, what went wrong, and lessons learned.

This cycle wasn’t as mundane. The emotions are much more raw still on the losing side while the winning side lacks the decorum normally shown post-election.

I’m still amazed at the pot-shots being taken at the media in all of this. In addition to “locker room talk”, the media was accused of taking Trump literally when he was really engaging in “dinner party talk”, which apparently is when you talk out of your ass at a dinner party without any real knowledge of a subject while acting like an authority. I need to check Urban Dictionary on that one. I try to stick to sounding authoritative on things I know while being clear on things I’m assuming, guessing, or trying to recall from hazy recollection.

Of course, that was part of the beauty of the winning campaign. Provide a show that the media will report on despite lack of substance (immediately following Trump’s campaign announcement) to gain traction, then accuse the media of lying which energizes a segment of the population who is frustrated while introducing additional seeds of doubt for anything the media says. Then, anything the media says negatively about Trump is easily dismissed by the segment he’s energizing and the continued train wreck keeps him above the fold all day every day.

If media outlets actually conspired against him and agreed not to cover his campaign–or simply cover it with equal time to the other candidates–he wouldn’t have been the force he was.

Clinton’s campaign lost the election by playing the game without heart while Trump’s campaign won by lighting the game on fire, sticking it up on YouTube, and letting it go viral.

Those of us who wanted to use data to take the pulse of the election (versus thinking that a few yard signs mean anything, says the guy whose street in Texas had a dozen Clinton signs and one Trump sign) learned a good lesson that data trends change all the time. The methodologies used aren’t perfect and change because they were found lacking.

FiveThirtyEight noted one imperfection in the polling: the lack of accounting for educational differences when weighting the results, which may have resulted in the state polling numbers failing, particularly in the states assumed by many to be in Clinton’s camp.

In the end, I hope this spectacle has an end so we can focus on the impact of policies.

President Trump

This isn’t what I was expecting. There was no way Trump would win. He’s not going to win the primary. He did? He’s not going to win the general. But, he did.

I’m not sure how to proceed. If I lived in a vacuum and “Clinton” and “Trump” were just random names, I would say that while I disagree with the President-Elect on this or that, it’s important to respect the Office and important to work together toward a better America.

We don’t live in a vacuum. We have heard a lot from Trump. Being charitable, he’s been very loose with facts. He has mocked people with disabilities. He claimed to sexually assault women—and then play it off as “locker room talk”, as if the language used was the problem, not that bragging about grabbing women without permission, whether or not he was lying about it to impress an Access Hollywood reporter. He broke tradition and has yet to release his tax returns. What little bit was leaked out after deep investigation by the media suggests that his strong business sense that he campaigned on may not be sound. He claimed to give large amounts of money to charity while failing to providing any information to support the claim. After researching nearly 500 charities that he may have donated to, a reporter found extremely little to support that he’s given at all, much less to the level described.

For all of this extra work that the media has done, a public service given the lack of previous disclosure never serving in public office before, Trump has been extremely vocal about his hatred of the media. While they have flaws too, the four estate is an integral part of the American experiment. They are afforded the first amendment for a reason. Sadly, the media’s rapid attention to the train-wreck that is Trump and his campaign, from day one, propelled him. He plays people into thinking the media is corrupt while using them to get attention himself.

I could go on and on and on about his temperament, careless words, his tweetstorms, his absolute lack of class, and so on. It would just be too depressing to keep going.

None of our presidents have been perfect, but they all have generally been more honorable than not. I could trust them to think through the decisions before them and, while they might be different than what I would do in their shoes, I could still look up to them as the example of a leader. We say how we shouldn’t look at athletes as role models—they’re just really talented as a sport. Presidents are elected from across our country after an extremely long campaigning process, that includes being chosen as the flag-bearer of their party.

You’re right. Bill wasn’t always a great role model. His adulterous ways and his attempts to hide it did not live up to the expectations of the office. I’m not sure if they were worth impeaching him, but it’s incredible that the party that sought Bill’s impeachment nominated and led our country to choosing a man with a longer list of affairs, a list of sexual assault accusations that he said he would sue now that the election has past, multiple bankruptcies, with an open fraud suit before him. Let’s not question if his loose accounting between his foundation, campaign activities, and his personal checkbooks violated any FEC rules.

I want to support the President. I want to have an open mind. I want to be able to teach my daughters to respect the office while being able to respect the man in the office. I can’t do that when he’s talks about his success as a sexual predator who brags about walking into women’s dressing rooms. I can’t do that with a failure to offer a real apology for the actual actions and some sense of regret.

Oh, there’s so much. I haven’t begun to question if he would dismiss my daughter’s abilities because they are of Mexican heritage. Of the rage he inspires in his following that he does nothing to tame or direct toward positive action. He claims to want to bring us together after using and promoting incredibly divisive language. Of conflating so many issues and being incredibly causal on causation based on invalid facts.

A month ago, we were wondering if his VP pick would stay on the ticket with him or if his party would try to replace him because of the severity of what he said on tape. Today, we’re making plans for him taking the role of leader of the free world.

He brings out the worst in people with no attempt to help transform that for the greater good. He doesn’t take anger and outage to transform it into positive action. He takes anger and outage, encourages it, and unleashes it.

In 71 days, he will be our president. I truly hope Trump uses this time to demonstrate how he’s truly better than everything he’s presented himself to be.