Monday, January 23, 2012

The Mormon position on abortion

It's a sin not a crime and life does not begin at conception.

Abortion Is Considered “Revolting Sin” by Church

Recent developments in the United States affecting abortion have occasioned an important statement by the First Presidency. Following two years of deliberation, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the individual states may not forbid a woman to have a medical abortion during the first six months of pregnancy. The First Presidency issued the following statement:
“In view of a recent decision of the United States Supreme Court, we feel it necessary to restate the position of the Church on abortion in order that there be no misunderstanding of our attitude.
“The Church opposes abortion and counsels its members not to submit to or perform an abortion except in the rare cases where, in the opinion of competent medical counsel, the life or good health of the mother is seriously endangered or where the pregnancy was caused by rape and produces serious emotional trauma in the mother. Even then it should be done only after counseling with the local presiding priesthood authority and after receiving divine confirmation through prayer.
“Abortion must be considered one of the most revolting and sinful practices in this day, when we are witnessing the frightening evidence of permissiveness leading to sexual immorality.
“Members of the Church guilty of being parties to the sin of abortion must be subjected to the disciplinary action of the councils of the Church as circumstances warrant. In dealing with this serious matter, it would be well to keep in mind the word of the Lord stated in D&C 59:6, ‘Thou shalt not steal; neither commit adultery, nor kill, nor do anything like unto it.’
“As to the amenability of the sin of abortion to the laws of repentance andforgiveness, we quote the following statement made by President David O. McKay and his counselors, Stephen L Richards and J. Reuben Clark, Jr., which continues to represent the attitude and position of the Church:
“‘As the matter stands today, no definite statement has been made by the Lord one way or another regarding the crime of abortion. So far as is known, he has not listed it alongside the crime of the unpardonable sin and shedding of innocent human blood. That he has not done so would suggest that it is not in that class of crime and therefore that it will be amenable to the laws of repentance and forgiveness.’
“This quoted statement, however, should not, in any sense, be construed to minimize the seriousness of this revolting sin.”
As to when life begins, the only scripture we have on the subject is found in Genesis 2;
And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. 

A Mormon's view of the view of the 20th Century also available via PayPal for $10 - PayPal account

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Conservatism vs liberalism through the years

Conservatives vs. liberals historically.

The Declaration of  Independence
“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, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

First paragraph makes it clear that it reflects the liberal view: equality of opportunity and affirms the purpose of government which derives its power from the people and exists for the purpose of protecting their rights; safety and happiness.

Conservatives are more concerned with government protection of commerce; an important function but only as it exists for the purpose of ensuring the citizen’s rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Modern conservatives see the “rights to life” as only pertaining to anti-abortion and not to rights to health after birth. Conservatives see corporations as having all the rights of people without the concomitant responsibility.

The Revolutionary war.
Liberals brought it about.
Conservatives remained loyal to the king.

The Bill of Rights.
Conservatives, called Federalists then, opposed the bill of rights. Liberals or Anti-federalists insisted on a promise of it before approving the original constitution. Basically the Bill of Rights articulated individual and human rights.

Women’s right to vote.
“The opposition to women's suffrage in the United States included organizations like the National Organization Against Women's Suffrage and women like Helen Kendrick Johnson. In New York, upper class women who thought they had a behind-the-scenes voice often opposed suffrage because it would dilute their influence. At first the anti-s let the men do the talking, but increasingly they adopted the mobilization techniques pioneered by the suffragists. The antis easily won the 1915 New York State referendum, using the argument that women voters would close the saloons. But the suffragists won the 1917 referendum, arguing that the saloons were Germanic (at a time when Germany was hated); the Tammany Hall machine in New York City deserted the antis as well. Nationwide, male voters made the decision and the opposition was led by Southern white men (afraid that black women would vote), ethnic politicians (especially Catholics whose women were not allowed a political voice) and the liquor forces (who realized correctly that most women would vote dry”

Lend Lease – the program to provide equipment and supplies for the governments fighting the Nazis.
The American position was to help the British but not enter the war. In early February 1941 a Gallup poll revealed that 54 percent of Americans were unqualifiedly in favor of Lend-Lease. A further 15 percent were in favor with qualifications such as: "If it doesn't get us into war," or "If the British can give us some security for what we give them." Only 22 percent were unqualifiedly against the President's proposal. When poll participants were asked their party affiliation, the poll revealed a sharp political divide: 69 percent of Democrats were unqualifiedly in favor of Lend-Lease, whereas only 38 percent of Republicans favored the bill without qualification. A poll spokesperson also noted that, "approximately twice as many Republicans" gave "qualified answers as...Democrats."

Opposition to the Lend lease bill was strongest among isolationist Republicans in Congress, who feared that the measure would be "the longest single step this nation has yet taken toward direct involvement in the war abroad." When the House of Representatives finally took a roll call vote on February 9, 1941, the 260 to 165 vote fell largely along party lines. Democrats voted 238 to 25 in favor and Republicans 24 in favor and 135 against.

The vote in the Senate, which took place a month later, revealed a similar partisan divide. 49 Democrats (79 percent) voted "aye" with only 13 Democrats (21 percent) voting "nay." In contrast, 17 Republicans (63 percent) voted "nay" while 10 Senate Republicans (37 percent) sided with the Democrats to pass the bill.

Actually the aid was already happening. Roosevelt did it without approval from Congress. The aid, arguably, prevented an Axis victory and the end of freedom.  A collateral and important benefit was the end of the depression and proof of the Keynesian theory.

Integration of the armed forces – Order signed in 1948
Truman signed Executive Order 9981, which states, "It is hereby declared to be the policy of the President that there shall be equality of treatment and opportunity for all persons in the armed services without regard to race, color, religion, or national origin."

Opposed by the conservatives and most of the officers and noncommissioned officers in the  armed forces.  I personally experienced the integration of the 82nd Airborne in 1951 and it was ugly.

Integration of the in schools in 1954.
Violently opposed by the conservatives

The right to an equal education had been granted to African American students in 1954 by the United States Supreme Court, when it ruled that segregation was illegal. Unfortunately, three years later, many African Americans were still being forced to go to separate and inferior schools. African Americans also still suffered under "Jim Crow" laws that forced them to use separate public facilities from whites. Especially in the South, city buses, restaurants, hotels, public bathrooms and even public water fountains were segregated.

In spite of the repression, courageous African Americans, as well as some equally gallant whites, challenged segregation. These freedom fighters met resistance from segregationists at every turn. The segregationists fought back not only in the court room, but on the streets, hurting and even killing African Americans and other supporters who spoke up for equality.  A republican governor blocked a group of black students from entering a previously all white school.

September 23, 1957 was no ordinary school day for Elizabeth Eckford and eight other African American teenagers in Little Rock, Arkansas. Little Rock Central High School, like many schools across the country, was segregated. Only white students were allowed to attend. But the Supreme Court had ruled that segregation, or the legal separation of blacks and whites in public facilities, was illegal. And these nine students, who would be known as The Little Rock Nine, would be the first African Americans to attend Little Rock's Central High.

As they drove toward the school that morning, the students knew what awaited them--an angry group of white protesters. Just a few weeks before, the nine had walked past just such a crowd to the high school's entrance. That morning, Arkansas National Guardsmen had turned the nine away, and, along with police, stood by while the mob pelted the black students cars with stones, assaulted them, and threatened their lives. But even though they were scared, the nine hadn't given up. Like many of the figures in what came to be known as the Civil Rights movement, they would keep trying.

The right to an equal education had been granted to African American students in 1954 by the United States Supreme Court, when it ruled that segregation was illegal. Unfortunately, three years later, many African Americans were still being forced to go to separate and inferior schools. African Americans also still suffered under "Jim Crow" laws that forced them to use separate public facilities from whites. Especially in the South, city buses, restaurants, hotels, public bathrooms and even public water fountains were segregated.

The civil rights movement in general:

This has been a knockdown, drag out fight from the beginning with probably the clearest delineation of liberal vs conservative. As recent as the late 1960s, blacks, particularly in the south were prohibited from voting, eating in white restaurants, staying in white hotels and living in white neighborhoods. For an American younger than 55, it may be hard to believe how black people and, in some parts of the country, latinos were treated.  I witnessed it. Every step forward for gaining access to the advantages that whites had was resisted by the GOP (Eisenhower and Nixon excepted).  White conservatives had their own vernacular: Martin Luther Coon,  MLK day was called “nigger day,” Federal Bureau of Integration, etc.  Speaking out in favor of equal rights by a cop was risking ostracization.  There was no doubt in the conventional wisdom of the right that the communists were behind the civil rights movement and that the NAACP was a communist front organization.

The great crash and the Glass-Steagall Act.
In spite of the overwhelming evidence that the financial crash was caused by a speculation binge that involved commercial banks over-extending themselves with their clients’ money in a totally unregulated market, conservatives opposed passage of such legislation as  The Glass Steagall Act, also known as the Banking Act of 1933, that would regulate such activity.  In addition, the legislation set up the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation which protected deposits by individuals

Social Security.
This was passed over the resistance of the conservatives.

Passed over the objection of the conservatives using their mantra of fear like in this ad featuring future president Ronald Reagan.

Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938.
As early as 1904, liberals had been trying to keep children out of the work place but it was always opposed by business and their conservative friends in the legislature. In 1938, as part of the new deal, child labor laws were enacted, along with other labor standards were passed as part of Roosevelt’s New Deal. The act was opposed by republican and its provisions have been under attack since.

Minimum wage.
Conservatives have opposed every increase in the minimum wage.

Air pollution .
Government has been aware of deadly pollutants since the early forties and efforts to deal with it have been resisted by polluting businesses and their conservatives in the government from the start.  Los Angeles had a fair public transportation system in the forties but it was systematically dismantled by friends, in government, of the auto, oil, and rubber industries. A good mass transit system is vital to cleaner air.

The current recession.
This recession is a direct result of wall street practices that were made possible by dismantling of the Glass - Steagall Act and concentration of wealth at the top engendered by tax cuts for the upper income groups.  This, along with the oil wars, all supported by conservatives, is the reason for a dangerous deficit.

Efforts to apply Keynesian economics in an effort to stimulate the economy, even though they were proved effective in the thirties, have been resisted and marginalized by the use/threat of the filibuster by conservatives. The conservatives (republicans as currently being lead), have stated that their number one objective is making Obama an one-term president.  In other words, his failure is more important than reviving the economy.

Today, the reactionary Teaparty has taken over the GOPhonies and would destroy social security through privatization, turn Medicare into a voucher system, abolish the AFCA, Obamacare, and return to the Bush era economics which is destroying the middle class through elimination of any workers rights and increased accumulation of money at the very top at the expense of the consumers - the middle class.

In conclusion.
Looking back over the years, it is difficult to see one thing that the conservatives have accomplished or advocated that has been good for the people of the United States.  To me, the primary value of the conservative politicians in our history was to provide a mass of inertia, a crucible, as it were, through which progressive ideas and movements have to pass in order to become public policy.

It’s perhaps symptomatic that the one vote against a declaration of war by congress after Pearl Harbor was cast by Jeanette Rankin, a conservative republican from Montana!