Sleepy Easter round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesI thought my day would be busier, but it’s settled into a relaxing mode that makes enticing just a wee bit of blogging.  So that’s what I’m doing here — a wee bit of blogging.

First on the agenda is a freaky “pigs flying” moment from MSNBC.  NewsBusters caught a panel on the Chris Hayes show, including a writer from the far-Left Nationexpressing some queasiness about the way in which gay rights activists have been targeting individuals.  I’m sure the MSNBC/Nation crew will recover quickly from this brief lapse into sanity, but it sure does make for interesting reading.

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Pat Sajak has his own subtle comment about pressure from gay right’s activists.

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Sultan Knish on the moral vacuum of Progressive morality.

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I cited David Archibald this morning for his chilling look at the potential famine dogging Egypt’s heels.  I’m citing him this afternoon because of his trenchant post about solar activity and the scientific community’s resolute refusal to acknowledge the data lest it clash with their anthropogenic global warming narrative.

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I think there are few students of Tudor history who don’t prefer Queen Elizabeth I to Mary I.  Elizabeth was charismatic, beautiful, witty, and one of the first people in history to hold that a person’s religious beliefs should be private.  By contrast, Mary, although personally kind and warm, was lumpy, unattractive, often pitiable, and religiously fanatic.  It was she who brought auto de fe to England in her effort to turn back the Protestant reformation.  She succeeded only in creating martyrs and died knowing that her attempts to reinstate Catholicism had failed.  For her sake, though, I hope that there is a conscience afterlife and that she is enjoying the spectacle of a liberal Church of England denuding itself of parishioners even as the more stringent Catholic church witnesses an increase in its numbers.

My personal history helps me understand why the C of E is failing, despite abasing itself ever more before every Leftist social and political trend.  Although I grew up in a non-religious household, when it came to Passover, my family went all out.  We did the entire Passover in both Hebrew and English, complete with every ritual.  Even as children, we were expected to participate fully.  When I was an adult and far from home, a friend invited me to her family’s Passover.  They were reform.  The ritual was conducted in English, although the language wouldn’t have mattered, because no one was paying attention.  There was no reverence for this ancient celebration of the world’s first slave revolt.  I was bored and dismayed.  My feeling then, as it is now, is “If you’re going to be religious, be religious.  Unless you invest religion with meaning, why bother?”

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Occasionally, the New York Times shows why people still respect its writing.  At the very bottom of a movie review, where it sums up the reason the movie is given a specific rating (e.g., PG or R), the Times has this to say about Make Your Move:  ”‘Make Your Move’ is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). Language, drug and sexual references, brief violence and prurient tap dancing.” “Prurient tap dancing?” Is that Fred Astaire I hear rolling in his grave?

Gay marriage, taxes, and the law of unintended consequences

Gay-flowerLast year was a triumphant year for gay marriage in California.  That means that this year, for many newly wed gay couples, April 15 was the first time they filed their taxes as married couples.  I have it on very good authority that many of these newly nuptialed couples are extremely unhappy now that they’re dealing with the infamous marriage penalty.

Considering how politically powerful gay men have become, could gay marriage lead to lower taxes?

And while we’re talking about taxes, Bill Whittle offers a sensible tax policy, one that would give all citizens a stake in America, while ending the current policy of taxing the producers right out of existence:

Flat taxes, once I understood how they worked, were one of the stepping stones on my way to conservativism. Twenty years ago, a brilliant conservative managed to explain to me how an across the board 10% sales tax would work. When he first told me about it, I got ruffled, pointing out that this was regressive tax that would hurt poor people. He shook his head sadly at my ignorance and explained that the most that poor people would get taxed, if they spent every penny they had, would be 10%, which is a reasonable amount to pay to have a stake in this country. (This was 20 years ago, before 51% of Americans paid nothing at all.) Moreover, he said, the bulk of taxes would come from those who aren’t poor, because middle class and rich people buy more. Everyone buys staples, but it’s the classes above the poverty line who have always — as a practical matter — bought into the American dream.

A 10% tax wouldn’t be high enough to deter high income spending, especially if there were no other taxes, so middle and upper class Americans would have an incentive to invest in the economy through purchasing goods. In the meantime, a 10% sales tax might be high enough to encourage a poor person to save more, rather than to buy inessential products, helping the poor person to stay solvent.

Certainly, a flat sales tax (or any flat tax) would be cheaper to administer than our current tax system. If it unleashed a rising tide of prosperity, it would bring in more revenue. On the other hand, if it brought in less revenue, it would stop rampant government spending (this was also before debt ceiling wars).

Bottom line:  Anything more simple and more fair than what we have now is a better tax system.

We don’t have a “gay mafia,” we have a “gay Soviet”

Gay StalinI’m not a Bill Maher fan, but he occasionally shows an intellectual honesty that makes it worthwhile to keep an eye on him.  Last week, he exposed Leftist hypocrisy about racism, when he got Leftist guests to denounce “racist” pronouncements from Paul Ryan, only to reveal that he was quoting Michelle Obama.

On Friday, in the wake of the Mozilla scandal (firing its brilliant and effective CEO for the fact that, in 2008, he supported the same view of marriage that Obama and the Clintons claimed to support), Maher once again went off the reservation.  In discussing the furor against Eich, he came out with what must be, to the Left, an unpleasant truth about the strain of thuggery that runs through the gay professional class:

During the online-only post-show segment, Maher, 58, asked his panel of contributors about their thoughts on the tech wizard’s decision to step down as Mozilla’s CEO after facing backlash for supporting a California same-sex marriage ban effort in 2008.

“I think there is a gay mafia,” Maher said. “I think if you cross them, you do get whacked. I really do.”

Let me add some specificity to Maher’s thought.  We already know that organized ideological thuggery took Eich down, but I’d like to focus on the mentality that drove the anti-heretic hunt.  CNET, which covers the tech world, has a post about the Eich resignation.  What struck me about the CNET article was a comment from the man who started it all — a man who said that, if only Eich had announced that the re-education had been successful and then kept his mouth shut, then everything would have been okay (emphasis mine):

The wildfire that brought Eich down was sparked in part by Rarebit developers Hampton Catlin and Michael Lintorn Catlin, who as married gay men took Eich’s politics very personally, removed their app from the Mozilla Marketplace, and called for Eich to apologize or resign.

Hampton Catlin on Thursday, though, called Eich’s resignation “the worst kind of victory.”

“We never expected this to get as big as it has, and we never expected that Brendan wouldn’t make a simple statement. I met with Brendan and asked him to just apologize for the discrimination under the law that we faced. He can still keep his personal beliefs, but I wanted him to recognize that we faced real issues with immigration [sic] and say that he never intended to cause people problems,“ Catlin said in a blog post Thursday. “It’s heartbreaking to us that he was unwilling to say even that.”

Translated:  If only Eich had recanted, publicly apologized for all gay suffering throughout America (because up until a decade ago, no one had even thought of gay marriage), and then kept his mouth shut , our kapos would have released him from the gulag and given him tacit permission to hold his beliefs, as long as he never acts on them in any way in the future.

Keep Catlin in mind as I walk you back about 70 years in time, to the mid-20th century in the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War.  Boris Pasternak, a truly courageous intellectual (unlike America’s modern “intellectuals” who march in lockstep with the powers that be), lived his life with incredible bravery under Soviet tyranny.  That bravery included writing Dr. Zhivagoan indictment of the Soviet system.  The Soviets, naturally, refused to publish the book, but it did get published in Italy and, from there, spread throughout the West.

The CIA, in one of its more intelligent moves, decided to smuggle the book right back into the Soviet Union believing, correctly, that it would enable Soviet citizens to see what their government withheld from them, both in terms of reading material and in terms of a free society centered on the individual, not the state.

That’s a fascinating piece of Cold War history, isn’t it?  I know about it because the WaPo has written an article about the CIA’s Zhivago operation.  And in the WaPo article, I found this (emphasis mine):

In Washington, Soviet experts quickly saw why Moscow loathed “Doctor Zhivago.”

In a memo in July 1958, John Maury, the Soviet Russia Division chief, wrote that the book was a clear threat to the worldview the Kremlin was determined to present.

“Pasternak’s humanistic message — that every person is entitled to a private life and deserves respect as a human being, irrespective of the extent of his political loyalty or contribution to the state — poses a fundamental challenge to the Soviet ethic of sacrifice of the individual to the Communist system,” he wrote.

Once, we were a country that used its government to advance the notion that “that every person is entitled to a private life and deserves respect as a human being, irrespective of the extent of his political loyalty or contribution to the state.”  Now, we’re a Soviet nation, in which private citizens are told that they must publicly recant their heresies or be destroyed.

So, while Maher’s on the right track, he picked the wrong organization.  Yes, there’s thuggery involved, which is a mafia tactic.  But unlike the mafia, which was just in it for the money, the new Soviet is in it to subordinate the individual and his beliefs entirely to the will of the Leftist state.

Nor is this thuggery a fringe movement.  While I am very honored here at the Bookworm Room to have gay readers who understand that the safest place for all individuals (regardless of race, color, creed, gender indentification, sexual orientation, etc.) is in a nation that leaves the individual alone, I can tell you that every one of my Leftist friends on my “real me” Facebook, gay or straight, applauds the gay Soviet’s successful thuggery against Eich.  These Facebook friends are, without exception, affluent, educated, successful, and vocal, and they think it’s a great thing that a productive man who has never once been accused of fomenting any discrimination in the workplace was the target of an attack aimed at destroying his livelihood.

This time, it was the non-governmental Leftist collective that acted, but you know they were thinking how much better it would be if they could just outlaw opposing thought. Why convince someone that your position has merit when you can more easily destroy them, which has the useful feature of sending a strong message to any other heretics out there?

Let me end this post as I always do:  I think the state should get out of the marriage business, leaving it for religious and private organizations to determine what meshes with their doctrine and values.  The state should recognize civil unions in whatever way the state believes will best suit its ends.  And when I speak of the state, I don’t speak of a grand Soviet, centralized state, run by Barack Obama, Valerie Jarrett, and Eric Holder.  I mean the state speaking through the ballot box, both in direct citizen initiatives and through elected representatives.

Traditionally, the state’s ends included children and economic stability.  In a greenie run world, where humans are the devil, maybe the state would do best to encourage only those unions that are incapable of producing even more environmentally destructive children.  Then, it’ll be the heterosexuals struggling for legal recognition of their evil child-producing mating.

Considering how meaningless marriage has become, I hereby withdraw any opposition I’ve ever had to gay marriage

Playland at the Beach fun houseFor an almost 80 year run that ended only in 1972, Playland at the Beach was San Francisco’s Coney Island.  Beginning in 1928, and subject to a few minor changes over the decades, Playland settled into the form known to City residents through its final days:  it had roller coasters, the camera obscura, a merry-go-round, and the famous Fun House, home of Laughing Sal (who now lives at the Musee Mecanique).

At its peak, Playland was a vital entertainment hub. It was bright and shiny and fun and funny. The roller coasters and the Fun House were state-of-the-art entertainment. The latter boasted a giant barrel roll; rocking, moving floors; air vents to blow up girls’ skirts; long, wavy slides; spinning floors; wavy, distorted mirrors, and all the other accoutrements of 20th century amusement park culture. You can get a sense of Playland’s attractions from this clip from 1973′s Damsel in Distress, featuring Fred Astaire, George Burns, and Grace Allen:

I went to the Fun House several times in the late 1960s and very, very early 1970s. There was still a musty magic to the slides, mirrors, vented floors, and, of course, Laughing Sal, but mostly the Fun House was a drab, depressing place. For starters, it was filthy, clotted with five decades worth of grime, made sticky from a nice Pacific Ocean salt overlay. All of the attractions were rickety. I always had the lowering suspicion that the moving, rocking sidewalk would suddenly buckle, either throwing me into the air or dropping me into some damp, spider-ridden basement.

playlandfunhouse620x618The Fun House’s clientele was no longer made up of a cheerful amalgam of families, young couples, and children old enough to go there on their on. Instead, it was overrun by screaming, usually overwrought children. It wasn’t bright and shiny. It was less Disney and more Lord of the Flies. We children ran around frantically, evidencing a grim determination to have fun in this hallowed San Francisco amusement park, a bleakness captured nicely in the picture to the right, which was taken shortly before the Fun House closed for good.

I was always delighted with the offer of a trip to the Fun House (I really liked the idea of Playland at the Beach), but I was even happier when it was finally time to go home. I invariably left there tired, dirty, overwhelmed, and both depressed and demoralized. The only magic left was the patina of age, which I was too young then to appreciate.

Sara Gilbert And Linda PerryPerhaps because my brain is wired a bit differently, I thought of Playland at the Beach when I saw this headline: “‘Roseanne’ Alum Sara Gilbert, Rocker Linda Perry Wed.” I have no idea who Sara Gilbert and Linda Perry are, so I was unexcited by their wedding (although I naturally wish them many happy years together).

Thinking about it, it occurred to me that, even if I had known who they are, I probably still would have found the headline uninteresting. Looking at the state of modern marriage, I can no longer articulate a good reason to care about other people’s weddings and subsequent married life.

Just as the Playland I knew was a faded, dirty, broken-down relic of its past, barely hinting at its former grandeur, so too is marriage today leached of the meaning that once gave it such preeminence in Western society. Historically, marriage has been an extremely important event, both at the individual and the societal level, controlling as it did sexuality, paternity, and property.

Up until our very modern era, before a girl got married, she was (in theory, at least) a sexually uninitiated child under her parents’ care. Marriage was her entry into the adult world: she left her parents; her faith and her state both encouraged her to have sex (with her husband); and she began producing and raising the next generation. For centuries, even millennia, the wedding was the single most transformative event in every woman’s life. It marked a profound change in her standing in society, from child to woman.

Victorian wedding photoWhile men weren’t necessarily the sexual innocents their wives were supposed to be, marriage was an equally life-changing event for them. They might not have been virgins, but their previous sexual relations were illicit, carried out with prostitutes or lusty widows. Any children that resulted from these relationships were not supposed to be acknowledged. They were bastards without legal rights, and the man’s obligation to care for these children was a personal decision, rather than something mandated by law or religion.

By marrying, the man got unfettered access to sex, with his church’s and his state’s approving imprimatur, and he got children that were presumptively his, with all the legal and moral responsibilities that entailed. The man’s carefree bachelor days were over, and his days of maturity and responsibility began. If he wanted to be assured that his wife’s progeny were indeed his, he’d better be a good husband.

Marriage’s centrality in pre-21st century society wasn’t just about questions of sexuality and paternity unique to heterosexual relationships. It was also an important economic relationship. For rich people, it meant the blending of fortunes or even of nations. For poor people, it meant that the man and woman formed an economic unit, with the man laboring outside of the house to bring in food or goods, and the woman laboring inside the house (and in the garden), to enable the man to work and to do whatever it took to stretch his earnings as far as possible.

In America’s past, a healthy society depended on the marriage partnership. It regularized sexual relations (and paternity issues), creating social stability and slowing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. It also increased men’s economic opportunities, thereby enhancing America’s potential economic growth, which operated to everyone’s benefit.

No wonder marriages were celebrated, not just by the participants, but by society at large. Add in the fact that traditional religions sanctify marriage, elevating it from a social and economic relationship into a covenant before God, and it’s easy to understand marriage’s preeminent position throughout Western history, generally, and American history, specifically.

Nowadays, every one of those reasons for marriage is gone. Sex is unrelated to marriage. Childbearing is controlled by birth control, abortions, and fertility rituals . . . er, fertility treatments. Paternity is determined by genetic tests. Economically, marriage is a good thing, but the state will step in and help the mother and children out if the father decides that all the responsibilities that flow from impregnating a woman are just too burdensome and too little fun. Only people who have a middle class aversion to poverty and welfare enter into marriage for economic reasons. Religions still support marriage’s importance, but many congregants seem more interested in the party than the sacrament.

Sexy wedding dressAnd of course, there’s modern divorce. Marriage isn’t a permanent commitment; it’s a relationship experiment that is easily shucked. It’s a very good thing that we no longer live in a time when only death would part a couple, leaving married people (usually women) at the mercy of abusive, insane, or absent spouses. It’s not so good a thing that we now live in a time when people divorce simply because they’re bored and want the thrill of a new relationship. (And yes, I have known people to divorce for just that reason.)

Modern marriage no longer serves any of its necessary societal functions. It’s a relic, just like the Fun House I knew as a child was a relic. What once was shiny and central to American life has become a peripheral excuse for a frenetic party. The couple standing at the altar have already had sex (with lots of people), they (with financial help from taxpayers and employers) are controlling the woman’s fertility, and they’re making financial decisions irrespective of their marital status. Societal changes, mass media, and the vast wedding industry have ensured that modern American wedding is primarily about the right dress, the beautiful cake, and the most viral wedding video.

All this means that the LGBTQ crowd is arriving at the party when the party’s already over. Looking back on my Fun House experience — high expectations in advance, followed by a disappointing reality when faced with a dusty ghost from the past — I actually feel sorry for those same-sex couples rushing to take part in an event that’s long past its heyday. As a society, we haven’t quite reached the point of Miss Havisham presiding over her long-gone wedding feast, but the decay is setting in.

The end of Playland at the Beach

The end of Playland at the Beach

Modern American marriage has become a form without substance . . . a Fun House without the fun. Given that reality, why should we care that the LGBTQ crowd is flocking to catch the tail-end of the party? Let them have their last dance as the lights dim and the tables are littered with dirty plates and half-filled glasses.

For those Americans who have a religious commitment to marriage, they should go and have that religious ceremony and live their married life in accordance with God’s commandments. And for those Americans who subscribe to the belief that the children’s well-being is best served in a stable, heterosexual relationship, they should get married (in a church, synagogue, temple, or mosque, or before a registrar) and they should stay married for the children’s sake. For everyone else, the caravan has already passed on and it’s probably long past time for the dogs to stop barking.

Friday afternoon round up (and Open Thread)

Victorian posy of pansiesLots of good stuff today, so I’m going to dive right in.  As always, these aren’t in any particular order, so you may find interesting things buried halfway down the list.

I’ve made the same point before, but I still like to see it come from Daniel Hannan and Jonah Goldberg:  Nazis came from the Left, not from the right.  Incidentally, I still like the way I phrased it, which was that we should get rid of the archaic Left/Right or Fascist/Communist/Capitalist language and, instead, look at political systems in terms of Statist versus Individualist forms of government.  The world’s most famous bad guys, no matter the name they gave themselves, land on the statist side.  America, before Obama, was more individualists, as she was when she went around the world freeing people from statists calling themselves Communists, Fascists, Nazis, Military Juntas, Muslim Fundamentalists, etc.

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One of the things that distinguished George Bush was that he was a good manager — proving that he got something useful out of his stint in Harvard Business School. He surrounded himself by efficient, knowledgeable people who reflected well on this country’s competence, even if one didn’t agree with its policies. The opposite is true for Obama. He is a terrible manager who surrounds himself with people who know as little as he does.

Obama’s conduct is typical for an insecure person. He needs to surround himself with ineffective sycophants who say nice things to him and who don’t threaten him with their greater talents and skills. Obama gave the game away a long time ago when he announced, “I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director.” Genuinely smart — and mentally healthy — people don’t actually say things like that.

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One of the things that drives me crazy about the Left’s insistence on bypassing parents to give young girls access to the birth control pill is the fact that it’s not just about sex (and the Left uses sex to bribe girls away from the nuclear family). It’s also about how high risk pills are. California kids can’t get their ears pierced without permission, but girls can easily get pills that are associated with strokes, blood clots, breast cancer and, now, multiple sclerosis. The Pill is a very dangerous medicine, but it’s so wrapped up in Leftist feminist politics, no one is willing to say “no” simply on safety grounds.  The fight about the Pill on moral grounds is a good fight.  The fight about the Pill on health grounds should be a winning fight — but nobody’s doing battle there.

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Two excellent views about Putin’s escapades: Terresa, at Noisy Room, harks back to the Nazi notion of Lebensraum.  Paul Rahe, at Ricochet, thinks Putin is a fool, trying to relive the glory days of the Cold War but, in fact, reaching far beyond Russia’s actual, very limited, economic abilities, not to mention exposing Russia to the very real risk of a Chinese takeover. Fool or madman, the one thing we know with certainty is that Putin’s policies will destroy many lives, both inside and outside of Russia.

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My sister lives in Oregon. After the millions it spent on its Obamacare exchange, she ended up signing up the old-fashioned way: by paper. The only question is how long the media can keep the prestidigitation going, so that people don’t realize that they’re on the losing end of a shell game.

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Colleges across America: “Due process? We ain’t got no due process. We don’t need no due process! I don’t have to show you any stinkin’ due process!”

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Jonah Goldberg nicely analyzes something that we’ve been talking about here, which is the speed with which the gay marriage debate has gone from the fringe to “you’d better accept it or else.” As many famous people have learned to their cost, one of the most effective techniques for moving the debate forward without regard to the merits is the GLAAD & Friends tactic of “nice little place/career/life you’ve got here. . . . Shame if something happened to it.”

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Roger L. Simon issues a call to arms: Take back Hollywood. It drives culture and, to the extent conservatives jumped off the entertainment bus, we’ve left the lunatics in the driver’s seat.

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The IRS scandal continues unabated. Those who think it’s been addressed and repaired have been flim-flammed yet again. Moreover, if you follow the money to public servant corruption, that may go a long way to explaining why our bureaucracy, which is supposed to be studiously apolitical, has thrown its immense power to the Democrats, the political party owned by the government workers’ unions.

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I really, really like Allen West. Here he is with a vivid, but emotion-free, summation about both Common Core’s academic weaknesses and the madness of Obamacare mathematics.

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My bet without doing any research is that, if you studied political identity in the military, you’d see that the military is still more conservative than the population as a whole. What you’d also see, though, is that every subsequent new batch of enlistees is more liberal than the one that came before. Remember, the new enlistees are young and Democrats have marketed themselves successfully to the young.

We know that young people in the general population are souring on Obama as job prospects dim.  Military enlistees have a job, but there’s still the possibility that they too will sour.  To the extent that Senate Democrats refused to increase veteran’s benefits, the very minimal chatter I’ve seen amongst the few young enlistees who are Facebook friends is that they are feeling hostile to the Dems right about now.

Thursday round-up and Open Thread

Victorian posy of pansiesFor reasons that make no sense to me, in the past week my daily readership has almost trebled. I suspect a bot has targeted my site but, when I allow myself to pretend that it’s actual people checking out my site, I feel really quite good. And now let’s see if I can make all of my real and robotic readers feel good with some interesting links:

It turns out that I’m not the only one who has noticed that the only thing exciting the Left right now, from Obama on down to the most insignificant Facebook user, is gay marriage. Syria? Sad, but boring. Ukraine? A little scary, so best ignored. North Korea? Really scary, so best ignored. Economy? We have a Democrat president, so we pretend it’s good. But gay marriage? Wow! That’s a hot issue, so hot that it should be the administration’s most pressing issue, the states’ most pressing issue, and social media’s most pressing issue.

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Putting gay marriage aside, what sensible people should be excited about is the fact that the current administration has deliberately chosen to subvert the law and to use supposedly non-partisan administrative agencies (most notably the IRS) to destroy the current administration’s political opponents. Bradley A. Smith spells it out, and there are smoking guns everywhere. Unfortunately, true believers on the Left are just going to look at that evidence and say, “Well, that’s the way it’s supposed to be.” They’d do that even if Lois Lerner got her immunity and spilled the beans.

Few on the Left have Democrat Prof. Jonathan Turley’s insight or integrity:

And what we’ve been seeing is the shift of gravity within that system in a very dangerous way that makes it unstable, and I think that’s what the president is doing. I think that we’ve become a nation of enablers. We are turning a blind eye to a fundamental change in our system. I think many people will come to loathe that they remained silent during this period.

Incidentally, I wonder if Mr. Smith has been reading my blog. To conclude his masterful summary demonstrating administration complicity with the IRS, he wrote this:

In 1170, King Henry II is said to have cried out, on hearing of the latest actions of the Archbishop of Canterbury, “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?” Four knights then murdered the archbishop. Many in the U.S. media still willfully refuse to see anything connecting the murder of the archbishop to any actions or abuse of power by the king.

If that seems familiar to some of you, I wrote the same thing (although at greater length) back in May 2013.

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Hillary Clinton spoke in Florida yesterday to defend Obamacare. For a good analysis, go here. The short version is that she’s adopting the Democrat party line, which is that Obamacare is slightly flawed, but should be fixed, not undone. I’ll just chime in quickly with a little extra info that may explain why many people will be inclined to save, not jettison it: the venue at which she spoke was a massive annual medical technology convention. The wealth concentrated there — wealth created because Obamacare has mandated computerizing all medical records — probably equals the wealth of several small and mid-sized countries. Exhibitors weren’t just giving away pens and mouse pads. They were giving away Kindle Fires and other fancy swag. Follow the money….

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I love it when my politics and my dieting efforts converge: No Girl Scout cookies for me this year. The Girl Scouts are absolutely free to continue their leftward drift. I just don’t have to help fund it. If I had my own personal Marine Sergeant Major monitoring my diet, none of this would be an issue.

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Just a reminder that if you want a bird’s eye view of probable election results, check out Scott Elliott’s Election Projection. Working on a state-by-state basis, he has amassed a vast and highly accurate database of predicted election outcomes.

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North Korea is one seriously scary place. It’s scary inside, because it is a vast, brutal concentration camp. I mean, think about it: It’s so bad that the UN has actually taken time off from persecuting Israel to castigate North Korea for a few days.

It’s also scary outside because it’s got a vast armory of conventional weapons aimed at South Korea, and a probable armory of nuclear weapons aimed at God knows where. Andrew Keller recommends actually enforcing sanctions against it, so that the West is no longer complicit in propping up this government. (Our excuse for propping it up, starting with Madeleine Albright, is always that we’re preventing mass starvation. We haven’t done anything of the sort.  The NoKo government just takes the money, buys caviar, and lets the people starve anyway.) My only worry with Keller’s recommendation is that North Korea is not the kind of country that will go down easy. It seems to me that one of its last gasp efforts will be to take large parts of the world, or Asia, down with it.

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I don’t understand why people are so fussed about reliably Left-leaning Ronan Farrow winning a journalism award after only two days on air at MSNBC. After all, Barack Obama won the once-prestigious Nobel Peace Prize, not because he actually did anything on the job, but simply because he got hired. Eric Wemple illustrates that in the modern journalism world, everyone is good enough, smart enough and, gosh darn it, entitled to endless accolades and awards.

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Eric Holder was briefly hospitalized for chest pains, but seems to be okay. I wonder if he had a panic attack, which can mimic a heart attack. He’s got a lot of balls in the air now, and it must be nerve-wracking to keep them spinning. You know what I mean: Urging state Attorney General’s to refuse to enforce their own state laws regarding gay marriage; arranging for gun-running into Mexico, and then having to cover it all up; hiding administration documents about everything from the IRS to Benghazi; working to turn felons and illegal aliens into registered voters; and so on. I’d be stressed too with all of that on my plate.

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In a typically thoughtful, detailed post, Daniel Greenfield examines Obama’s decision to put America into a forced retreat from the world stage. His last paragraph reads like the final epitaph for a once great nation:

Post-American America exists to destroy itself. Until that changes, it has nothing to offer the world except membership in a suicide pact.

Obama’s despicable role in the Ukraine (or, rather, his absence of any role, other than some meaningless Kabuki theater) perfectly illustrates how he’s got America crawling away on her hands and knees, with her national butt nicely poised in the air for some final kicking.

The Left assured us in 2008 that the world would be a better place without all that nasty American influence. The world’s citizens are discovering what you and I already knew: The world is a much less nice, stable, safe place without an American influence. Moreover, the Left’s talk of compassion was a fake.  For example, even as apocalyptic scenes play out in Syria, the Left manifestly doesn’t care.

When it comes to same-sex marriage, the Civil Rights Act cannot trump the First Amendment *UPDATED*

Gay-flowerI find irritating gay marriage supporters’ reliance on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to justify their contention that religious individuals cannot opt out of actively participating in gay marriage ceremonies.  They contend that the Act mandates that (1) a Christian baker, who welcomes gays seeking all other baked goods, must bake a gay-themed wedding cake; (2) a Christian photographer, who would happily take pictures of a gay birthday party, must photograph a gay wedding; (3) a Muslim florist, who would be delighted to sell bouquets to a gay couple, must bedeck a church with flower arrangements for a gay wedding; and (4) an orthodox Jew who owns a small hotel, and who doesn’t quibble at all when same-sex couples check into a room where they have privacy, must host a gay wedding in his reception hall.

I contend that these activists are dead wrong about the scope of the Civil Rights Act.  While, the Civil Rights Act s a virtuous law, it cannot trump the First Amendment.  I’ve made a handy-dandy chart outlining why I believe this to be the case (click on image to enlarge):

Bill of Rights versus Civil Rights Act 1

My usual disclaimer about my views regarding same-sex unions:  It is not semantic quibbling to say that I support civil unions but do not support same-sex marriage. While a religious organization can perform a marriage, it cannot perform a civil union. Civil unions are solely the state’s provenance. Leaving civil unions to the state and marriage to religion perfectly preserves the separation of church and state. (And as always, irony abounds here, because it is the Left that routinely sets up a hullabaloo about even the most minute intersection between church and state.)

If I had my way, I would remove marriage from the government’s vocabulary and make all unions — whether they are heterosexual or same-sex relationships — “civil unions.” States can then promote whatever unions they deem most beneficial for individuals, for children, and for society as a whole, while religious individuals and institutions need not worry that they will be targeted because they hew to the traditional definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman (or women).

People running the entire gamut of the gender-orientation spectrum — as recently defined by Facebook — manifestly believe that it’s important to get the state’s imprimatur on their relationships.  (This makes sense, since most of them are Left-leaning statists, who worship at the Big Government shrine.)  Civil unions joining together various sexual identity configurations (opposite sex, same sex, etc.) would give every American equal access to the benefits and burdens (economic, legal, and social) of a state-sanctioned relationship.  What civil unions would not do is force a direct confrontation between church and state.

The recent Obamacare abortion kerfuffle should warn people that a Progressive government won’t have second thoughts about forcing such a confrontation.  In 2008, when California had its Prop. 8 gay marriage referendum, I first raised my concern that gay marriage would result in a head-on collision between church and state.  A Progressive scoffed at this, telling me that, even though abortions are legal, the government has never gone toe-to-toe with the Catholic Church.  He was taken aback, and had no response, when I pointed out that the Catholic Church doesn’t provide, or withhold, abortions; it simply speaks against them doctrinally.  The Church does, however, marry people, and that leaves open the possibility that a gay couple will sue the church for refusing to perform a marriage service.

Mine was a good argument then, and it’s a better argument now.  With Obamacare, our Progressive-run federal government is forcing religious institutions and organizations be actively complicit in abortion by mandating that they fund abortifacients (and birth control) through “health” insurance.  (It’s “health” insurance, of course, only if the very act of becoming pregnant is a disease — which is funny when you think about it, because feminists in the 1960s and 1970s were outraged at a male patriarchy that treated pregnant women as if they were fragile and sick.)

I welcome your comments regarding this post.

UPDATE:  A lawyer I know commented that the Commerce Clause gives the federal government the power to legislate any type of commerce related activities.  (Sounds like a familiar argument, right?)  My response was a simple one:  The Commerce Clause represents a power that the People granted to the federal government.  The First Amendment represents an right inherent in each individual that the federal government (in theory) may not touch.  It seems to me that, especially when a law is narrowly drawn, the First Amendment, which states the People’s inherent rights, must trump the Commerce Clause, which merely reflects a power the People granted the government under contract.

 

Wednesday afternoon quick hits (and Open Thread)

Victorian posy of pansiesIt’s raining!!!  In California, that’s cause for celebration.  Rain in Marin doesn’t mean it’s raining elsewhere, but it certainly matters to use Marin-ites — we have our own reservoir system, so we’re wholly dependent on local rainfall.  Ironically, the rain is slowing down our major yard renovation, and we have to get that renovation down before April 1, when rationing kicks in (and rationing will happen unless we get enormous amounts of rain).  Sigh.  To ever silver lining, there seems to be a cloud.

***

Since I’m on the subject of weather, here’s a two-fer about the grand hoax that is climate change. The first, from American Thinker, provides compelling evidence that every single carbon centered computer model about the climate has proven to be wrong. Not just sort of wrong, mind you, but absolutely, completely, super-duper wrong. Climate theorists are now blaming volcanoes for the warming failure, but they’ll blame anything, won’t they? If you have a non-falsifiable doctrine, you can always blame external forces for your doctrine’s inevitable failure.

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I’ve also got three great articles about Israel. The first looks as all the wonderful things going on in Israel despite the world’s efforts to squash that tiny, brilliant nation. The second looks at the grotesque hypocrisy that sees gay rights advocates champion Palestinians at the expense of Israel. The third looks as the fact that Israel stands poised to save Syrians, the rest of the Middle East, and perhaps the whole world, from the unfathomable danger of a nuclear Syria.

***

Traditionally in America, a state attorney general is sworn to uphold the laws of the state. After all, if the AG doesn’t do that, what’s his purpose? He’s there to represent and ensure the stability, reliability, and credibility of the law.  If he doesn’t carry out that task, he just becomes another functionary in a banana republic. And that banana republic status is precisely what U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder dreams of, for he has instructed state AG’s to ignore any law that supports traditional marriage.

***

I’ve written here frequently about the lunacy that is the modern American college or university. This is a subject that exercises me a great deal because I have two children heading towards college in the next few years. As many Americans do, I’m deeply offended by the cost of college, especially the cost of the once prestigious liberal arts colleges back East. It’s insane to spend or borrow $250,000 so that your child can move into your basement and become a barista. In a changing world, colleges have actually changed in the wrong direction.  They’ve turned away entirely from educating young people to become useful and productive citizens.

What colleges have done, instead, is train youngsters to become lunatics, which is my second reason for being upset about modern American higher education. Last week, Bruce Bawer warned about a lunatic Leftist at Harvard. This week, Chicks on the Right warns about a whole cadre of potentially violent lunatic Leftists as Dartmouth. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that this collection of young people expensively unmoored from reality comes from deep within the fever swamps of the gay rights movement.

I’ll say here what I always say: I believe that the government should stay out of people’s bedrooms. I believe that gay people should be free from discrimination, harassment, violence, etc. I believe that the heart loves where it will. But let’s get real here: These loony-toonz aren’t about gay rights.  They are about using the gay agenda as a wedge issue to destroy America as a free-market, individual-centered society, and to replace it with a hard-core centralized government and a socialized economy. I wonder if these “idealists” have any inkling that, when/if they’ve finally achieved their agenda they’ll meet the same fate that leading-edge revolutionaries always experience, whether in 18th Century France, or Russia, or China:  The new statist government identifies them as troublemakers and kills them first.

***

My sister lives in Oregon, a state that has as its primary goal the creation of happiness. We’ve talked before about the fact that a state can impose “happiness” only if it first has the right to define “happiness.”  The reality, is that there’s only a slender likelihood that the state bureaucrat’s idea of what constitutes “happiness” is the same as your idea.  Moreover, if not everyone is happy — and no one can ever be — the situation is ripe for constant revolution. Still, Oregon tries. The libertarians on the Eastern side are constantly besieged by the statists on the Western, coastal side, who have turned Oregon into one of the most heavily regulated, and least economically successful, states in America. (For more on happiness, at a deep, philosophical level, rather than at a pop-culture, “everything is free” level, check out Happiness Is a Serious Problem: A Human Nature Repair Manual.)

***

And finally, knowledge that I gleaned in my youth catches up with the present. I’ve written before about my years at Berkeley, when I socialized with ultra-Leftist professors who lived in lavish houses in the Berkeley hillside, all of which seemed to be tended by Hispanic maids and Japanese gardeners. These effete, armchair revolutionaries enjoyed their Marxism because they lived on the straining back of the servant class.

That was a long time ago, but one modern-day Leftist has finally admitted that, yes, needing servants is precisely why the Leftist idle rich are so gung-ho about illegal immigrants:

As a friend of mine said after watching that, “If a conservative of any stripe were to insinuate undocumented workers were all gardeners, landscapers, and hotel workers the race card would have been played before he could even finish the sentence.”

The Left is wrong about AZ’s proposed law, but religious freedom supporters might have to boycott the Super Bowl to make that point

Gay marriage wedding cake photo by Giovanni Dall'Orto, 26-1-2008.I’ve mentioned gay marriage once already today as the latest non-issue to roil the left even as the world around us crumbles (a la the 1930s), the American military is reduced (a la the 1930s), and tyrannies are rattling their sabres (a la the 1930s).  Overnight, the same liberal who have been remarkably quiet about the Obamacare debacle, uprisings in Ukraine and Venezuela, the flat economy, etc., have found a new cause:  Arizona, they scream, is poised to enact the next generation of Jim Crow laws, in the form of Senate Bill 1062, an amendment to Arizona’s existing Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

This Jim Crow claim, which gained instant traction amongst America’s Progressive class, is flat-out wrong as a matter of law and fact.  Nevertheless, presumably in the foolish hope that it can appease the Left into backing off from its ongoing effort to destroy football, the Super Bowl committee is using economic blackmail against Gov. Jan Brewer, promising to pull the upcoming Super Bowl from Arizona if she signs the bill.  To the extent that the Left is using the Super Bowl as a cudgel against religious freedom, it may be time for supporters of traditional marriage to use their own economic pressure against the Super Bowl.

Better people than I have examined the proposed law, so I won’t rehash it.  Without addressing the proposed law’s specifics, though, it’s still possible to show the falsity of the Jim Crow comparison.

First, no mainstream American religion has ever had racial discrimination as a core religious doctrine.  All traditional religions, however, have heterosexual marriage as a central tenet of the faith.  To the extent Southern racists claimed Christianity as their justification for separating the races, all that they could point to was their own twisted interpretations of the Bible, a document that never concerned itself with racial discrimination.

Heterosexual marriage, however, is something quite different.  The Catholic Church elevates it to one of the seven sacraments, and all other traditional religions enshrine marriage between a man and a woman (or several women).  What this means is that the Southerners in times past who asserted their right to Jim Crow laws had no protected First Amendment right.  The contrary is true today:  Those people who will benefit from the proposed Arizona law have a strong First Amendment right that cannot simply be thrown aside.

Second, the Jim Crow laws were actual laws, relying on the state’s coercive power.  In other words, they represented government action discriminating against American citizens.  The Arizona law, however, does  not advocate any type of segregation or discrimination.  It simply says that Arizona’s government cannot use economic coercion, not to mention the threat of imprisonment, to force Arizona citizens to engage in religiously offensive activity.  There are also safeguards is the act:  The protesting citizen must show that he is acting consistently with his faith and that he has a track record of being faithful.

Jim Crow laws meant that the government was discriminatory and coercive in a matter that did not implicate religion.  By contrast, the proposed Arizona law narrows the range of situations in which the government can be discriminatory and coercive against people of faith.

Third, the Jim Crow laws mandated that Southern citizens refrain from providing goods, services, or jobs to blacks, or they mandated that those goods, services, or jobs, if provided, must be provided in the most limited, demeaning way possible.  The proposed Arizona law not only does not mandate any conduct, it’s also extremely narrow in scope.  It says only that genuinely religious people cannot be forced to participate actively in a specific event that clashes with their faith.  It’s worth keeping in mind here, as Eidolon so beautifully explained, that up until just a few years ago, every mainstream Democrat politician in America (including Obama and the Clintons) rejected gay marriage, a position consistent with all known human history.

Super Bowl ArizonaI have no doubt that Gov. Brewer is going to cave to Leftist pressure because of the economic risk that the Super Bowl will pull out of Arizona.  That seems to be the ultimate leverage, right?  But supporters of traditional marriage — or supporters of a religious individual’s right not to participate in a ceremony that mocks his beliefs — actually have an even bigger stick than the Super Bowl.  Just as the Super Bowl can boycott Arizona, believers in religious freedom can boycott the Super Bowl.  I mean, it’s a great game, but sometimes we have to subordinate pleasure to principle.

America’s lousy media and lousy sense of proportion

A couple of days ago, I wrote a lengthy post in which I argued that, during Democrat presidencies, the media constantly elevates non-essential information to top status, thereby keeping America’s attention away from the fact that things are going badly wrong.  During Republican administrations, the press focuses exclusively on hard news, always reported to the administration’s detriment.

Today’s Drudge Report perfectly exemplifies what’s roiling the world (Putin) and what’s roiling the media and the Left (a proposed Arizona law that would allow people who practice traditional religions to refuse to provide their services to gay weddings, which they see as a direct affront to their faith):

Drudge 2-26-14

The bizarre juxtaposition is even more apparent if you look at the Drudge Report on a smart phone:
photo

They’re rattling sabres in a way that presages another Cold War or, worse, a hot war, while our chattering class is incensed that traditional religionists don’t want to be driven into bankruptcy because, while they do not want to be active participants in what is to them a deeply offensive event.

The American media has found its fiddle, even as the world burns down around our ears.

The coming constitutional clash between traditional religion and homocentric secularism

Gay marriage wedding cake photo by Giovanni Dall'Orto, 26-1-2008.Matt Lewis nails the core issue when it comes to the LGBT crowd’s demands that shopkeepers engage in acts contrary to their religious conscience:

But let’s be honest about something else. This is really a surrogate battle. A much bigger one is coming.

[snip]

The reason conservative Christians are fighting this fight today is because it’s a firewall. The real danger, of course, is that Christian pastors and preachers will eventually be coerced into performing same-sex marriages. (Note: It is entirely possible for someone to believe gay marriage is fine, and to still oppose forcing people who hold strong religious convictions to participate — but I suspect that is where we are heading.)

Think of it this way. If you were a congregant in a church, wouldn’t you expect the pastor to marry you? Why should you be treated different?

Any pastor — if he or she wants to maintain the church’s tax status, that is — had better grapple with this now.

Whether the analogy is fair, or not, refusing to officiate a gay wedding can just as easily be called “denying service.” And it will predictably also be compared to the bad old days of Jim Crow — where racist Christians opposed interracial marriage (until the courts struck down state laws prohibiting biracial marriage).

Gay rights and religious liberty are on a collision course.

I’m too lazy to go through my archives now, but long-time readers will know that I’ve been saying this for years.  In fact, just three years ago, I made precisely this argument using lawyer logic and the example of England:

I have said all along that the main problem with the gay marriage debate is that, by creating an entirely new bottom line (gay marriage) we’re going to see two bottom lines crash into each other.  You see, traditional male/female marriage meshed nicely with the vast majority of traditional religious norms.  Gay marriage, however, does not mesh with traditional religion.  While Progressive churches and synagogues have opened their doors to gay marriages, more traditional ones, especially the Orthodox Jewish faith and the Catholic Church, have not done so.

When I’ve raised this concern to people, they scoffed.  One liberal told me that, even though abortions are legal, the government has never gone toe-to-toe with the Catholic Church.  He looked a bit taken aback, and had no response, when I pointed out that the Catholic Church doesn’t provide, or withhold, abortions; it simply speaks against them doctrinally.  The Church does, however, marry people, and that leaves open the possibility that a gay couple will sue the church for refusing to perform a marriage service.

Others, while acknowledging that my point has a certain intellectual validity, say that it will never happen.  I’m not so sure, especially after reading a story out of England involving a Pentecostal couple who were told that, as long as their religion held that homosexuality is not acceptable behavior, they could not foster needy children:

A Christian couple morally opposed to homosexuality today lost a High Court battle over the right to become foster carers.

Eunice and Owen Johns, aged 62 and 65, from Oakwood, Derby, went to court after a social worker expressed concerns when they said they could not tell a child a ‘homosexual lifestyle’ was acceptable.

The Pentecostal Christian couple had applied to Derby City Council to be respite carers but withdrew their application believing it was ‘doomed to failure’ because of the social worker’s attitude to their religious beliefs.

The couple deny that they are homophobic and said they would love any child they were given. However, what they were ‘not willing to do was to tell a small child that the practice of homosexuality was a good thing’.

What’s relevant to this post is that the judges explicitly held that homosexual rights trump religious rights:

Lord Justice Munby and Mr Justice Beatson ruled that laws protecting people from discrimination because of their sexual orientation ‘should take precedence’ over the right not to be discriminated against on religious grounds.

Admittedly, Britain does not have a First Amendment.  However, as I noted above, First Amendment or not, our government bars, and (when Mormons are involved) actively prosecutes, polygamy.  It does so despite the fact that polygamy was official doctrine for the Mormons and is official doctrine for the Muslims.  Likewise, although Voodoo is recognized as a religion, we don’t let practitioners engage in animal sacrifice.  In other words, First Amendment or not, the government will interfere in religious doctrine if it runs completely afoul of a bottom-line American value.

If gay marriage is deemed Constitutional, we suddenly have two conflicting bottom-line values — gay marriage and religious freedom.  I’m not predicting how this will turn out.  I’m just saying that, if I was the Catholic Church or an Orthodox synagogue, I’d start having my lawyers look at this one now.

I’m not usually a great strategist or long-term thinker, but it was easy to see this one coming. It’s not about homophobia. It’s about a clash between faiths: traditional religion versus homocentric secularism.  The traditionalists have people who will willingly martyr themselves for their faith, while the secularists have people who will cheerfully force martyrdom on others.  It remains to be seen (a) which is the more powerful impulse and (b) which resonates more strongly with Americans.  Sadly, if I had to bet money on this today, I’d put my money on the secularists, who long ago successfully co-opted America’s cultural institutions:  the news media, the entertainment world, all public primary schools, all colleges and universities, reform Jews, Presbyterians, and Episcopalians.

Happily married man comes out as gay — and stays happily married

Gay men at San Francisco street fairGrowing up in San Francisco during the 1960s, I have very fragmented memories of an older time, when women still wore gloves, and both men and women wore hats.  Most of my solid, coherent memories start kicking in with San Francisco’s Summer of Love, which very quickly turned into its winter of degradation.  During those formative years (from about ages 6 though 16), it was common for me to see people tripping on sidewalks, lying in filth, and vomiting all over themselves.  I was also routinely assaulted and insulted by the smell emanating from these Flower Children.  Ick.

By the mid-1970s, hippies were passé in San Francisco.  The new “in thing” was the gay scene.  The libertarian part of me thought it was a wonderful thing that men and women (but mostly men) could love freely, without being afraid that they would be humiliated, beaten, ostracized, or imprisoned.  Even as the gay lifestyle flowered in San Francisco, we heard stories about gays being imprisoned in Soviet Russia for no other crime than the fact that they were gay.

Nevertheless, even though I appreciated the gay liberation movement, I was revolted by the movement’s excess.  The drug use, nudity, orgies, etc., were too reminiscent of the hippies.  I already knew the price people paid for excess.  After AIDS came along, and the stories really broke about what was going on in the bath houses, I wasn’t surprised.

When I tried to explain to people my sense of repugnance about the gay lifestyle, what I always fell back on was the fact that this type of hedonism couldn’t be good — not for society and not for the individual.  In addition, I was offended by the lack of intimacy.  Getting naked with a stranger and having drug-fueled sex is not intimacy.  Getting to know someone, loving them, sharing the highs and lows of life together, understanding what makes them tick, wishing them well — those are the ingredients for intimacy.  The gay lifestyle I saw around me was aggressively opposed to those “mundane” relationship attributes.

Growing up and working in San Francisco, I was able to see that, to too many gays, their choices have always been, first and foremost, about sex.  Without exception, every person I knew from high school who came out of the closet instantly embraced a package deal.  It wasn’t just that they selected their partners from their own sex.  It was that they suddenly only went to gay movies, had gay porn magazines in their household, hung out only with gays, and voted gay . . . which meant an increasingly hard Left political agenda.  They were no longer “Larry, a teacher and father who happens to have a male partner.”  Instead, “they were a gay man named Larry who happens to teach on the side and is proud to raise his kid in a same-sex parent home.”

This obsessive focus on sex left little room for anything else.  As the 70s and 80s demonstrated (and as is becoming true again today for a young generation of gay men), brief, intense, drug-heightened sexual encounters were like meth for the brain.  Why have a stable, loving relationship with anyone when you could go to the bathhouse, or just walk down the street, and be a sexual endorphin junkie getting hit after hit?  Even those men I knew who were in stable relationships with long-term partners weren’t monogamous.  Instead, their relationships were still about having sex with as many men as possible — provided that they shared dinner with the same man every evening.

Growing up, seeing the hippies and their drugs and orgies, and then the gays and their drugs and orgies, what I figured out was that sexual pleasure, while delightful, is not the same as the pleasure of a life shared with someone else.  We can decide what we want to have as the center of our relationships:  the sex or the intimacy.  If it’s the sex, it had better be damned good and be damned good all the time because you’ve probably got nothing else to fall back on.  If it’s the intimacy and the stability, sex is important, but much less so.  If the sex isn’t good, or isn’t good all the time, or isn’t even there at all, there may be many compensations that keep the relationship pleasurable.

All of the above is an introduction to a most amazing post from a couple of years ago, written by the proprietor of a humor blog called “The Weed.”  (H/T:  Earl.)  Its proprietor, Josh Weed, came out of the closet at this site, but in a most unusual way:  he is a gay man, happily married to a woman and, most unusually for one of these “out of the closet” confessions, he plans to stay that way.  The reason he is able to recognize his sexual attraction to men, while maintaining a stable, loving — and, yes, sexual — relationship with his wife is because of his priorities:

The truth is, what people are really asking with the above question is “how can you be gay if your primary sex partner is a girl?” I didn’t fully understand the answer to this question until I was doing research on sexuality in grad school even though I had been happily married for almost five years at that point. I knew that I was gay, and I also knew that sex with my wife was enjoyable. But I didn’t understand how that was happening. Here is the basic reality that I actually think many people could use a lesson in: sex is about more than just visual attraction and lust and it is about more than just passion and infatuation. I won’t get into the boring details of the research here, but basically when sex is done right, at its deepest level it is about intimacy. It is about one human being connecting with another human being they love. It is a beautiful physical manifestation of two people being connected in a truly vulnerable, intimate manner because they love each other profoundly. It is bodies connecting and souls connecting. It is beautiful and rich and fulfilling and spiritual and amazing. Many people never get to this point in their sex lives because it requires incredible communication, trust, vulnerability, and connection. And Lolly and I have had that from day one, mostly because we weren’t distracted by the powerful chemicals of infatuation and obsession that usually bring a couple together (which dwindle dramatically after the first few years of marriage anyway). So, in a weird way, the circumstances of our marriage allowed us to build a sexual relationship that is based on everything partners should want in their sex-life: intimacy, communication, genuine love and affection. This has resulted in us having a better sex life than most people I personally know. Most of whom are straight. Go fig.

Josh also realized something really important, which is that nobody can ever have it all, something that’s especially true for gays:

One of the sad truths about being homosexual is that no matter what you decide for your future, you have to sacrifice something. It’s very sad, but it is true. I think this is true of life in general as well. If you decide to be a doctor, you give up any of the myriad of other things you could have chosen. But with homosexuality, the choices seem to be a little bit more mutually exclusive.  If you are Mormon and you choose to live your religion, you are sacrificing the ability to have a romantic relationship with a same-sex partner. If you choose a same-sex partner, you are sacrificing the ability to have a biological family with the one you love.  And so on. No matter what path you choose, if you are gay you are giving up something basic, and sometimes various things that are very basic. I chose not to “live the gay lifestyle,” as it were, because I found that what I would have to give up to do so wasn’t worth the sacrifice for me.

(You should really read the whole thing, which includes the way his Mormon parents accepted his sexuality while helping him focus on the things that matter in life.)

I am not suggesting that every gay person must replicate Josh’s decision to acknowledge his sexual attraction to men, but nevertheless commit to a relationship with a woman.  I’m simply suggesting that the gay milieu too often denies men and women the choice to have a traditional heterosexual relationship.  With its relentless emphasis on sexual identity and sex, the LGBTQ lobby puts enormous pressure on young men and women who self-identify as LGBTQ to abandon the notion of traditional intimacy in favor of a lifestyle focused solely on sexual preferences and, by extension, sexual pleasure.

The fact is that, as Josh shows, people’s sexuality is malleable, and our pleasure centers are surprisingly adaptable.  Many people can consciously choose one lifestyle over another — or, as I think happens with many young LGBTQ people — be bullied into one lifestyle over another.

Anyway, coming as I do from a background that left me with a deep distrust of hedonism, I was very impressed with Josh’s (and his wife Lolly’s) coming out post and think it is an interesting addition to the discussion about the LGBTQ community and the lifestyle choices its members make.  It’s especially interesting given that the 9th Circuit will soon be hearing arguments about the constitutionality of a California law that makes it impossible for religious people to help willing gays voluntarily transition away from the gay lifestyle.

Wednesday stuff, for want of a better word

My day is not proceeding as planned.  Grumble, grumble, grumble.

But I still found some good stuff out there:

For all the criticism aimed at him for daring to defend his nation from nuclear annihilation, Netanyahu successfully shifted the paradigm — not far enough, but it’s movement in the right direction.

Apparently 25 years or so is all it takes for New Yorkers to forget the horrors of Progressive government.  I know this is unfair to the small, smart minority that didn’t vote for de Blasio, but I hope that New York goes to hell in a hand basket very quickly (kind of the way Hollande’s France or Mugabe’s Zimbabwe did).  That seems to be the only way in which people invested in liberalism learn lessons.  (And sadly, sometimes, even the worst that can happen isn’t bad enough.)

Here are Seven devastating facts about Obamacare that you should memorize and politely slip into conversation whenever you find yourself trapped in conversation with those who still believe it’s a winner.

Jonah Goldberg suggests that the Republicans might want to be there for Tea Partiers because, ultimately, Tea Partiers are there for the Republicans.

And two from Keith Koffler.  The first is about Obama’s fraudulent conduct with regard to his “changing” views on gay marriage, and the second is about his administration’s fraudulent conduct regarding Obamacare.

I think it’s important that we stop using the word “lie.”  In the context of politics, we tend to think of a “lie” as an after-the-fact cover-up (“I did not have sexual relations with that woman”). What Obama has done, repeatedly, is to commit fraud.  Fraud is a very specific legal animal.  Here’s as good a definition as any, culled from a fairly recent California case:  “The tort of deceit or fraud requires: “(a) misrepresentation (false representation, concealment, or nondisclosure); (b) knowledge of falsity (or ‘scienter’); (c) intent to defraud, i.e., to induce reliance; (d) justifiable reliance; and (e) resulting damage.” (Engalla v. Permanente Medical Group, Inc. (1997) 15 Cal.4th 951, 974, 64 Cal.Rptr.2d 843, 938 P.2d 903, internal quotation marks omitted.)  Fraud is not a lie.  It’s much worse than a lie because you’re not just protecting yourself; you’re deliberating setting out to make others rely on you to their detriment.

And of course, Sebelius seems charmingly insouciant about the fact that your private information could end up in the hands of felons that Obama’s government has hired to collect that private information:

Marriage’s open frontiers in America

A few days ago, I commented about a profound problem with the Supreme Court decision striking down DOMA:  before DOMA, we had a societal consensus that marriage was between one man and one woman.  During DOMA, we had a law that said marriage was between one man and one woman, even as the societal consensus broke down.  Post-DOMA, we have nothing.  There are no boundaries, and there is nothing to stop a “loving” marriage based upon bestiality, incest, pedophilia, polyamory, etc.  The boundaries are gone.

In addition, the demands on government will change substantially with this “new frontier” approach to marriage.  A friend of mine who knows all things military sent me this email:

The other thing I’ve been thinking about is how recent Supreme Court decisions have rendered marriage and family meaningless. For instance, if I were a young private or PFC in the military I would find another guy to get married to (contract marriages between service members are nothing new. It’s a great way for two otherwise unattached people to get free money for being married). Getting married is often the best way for service members to get themselves out of crappy barracks life so I could marry a male service member from another unit and move into my new house. We would not even have to be gay to do it. Then we could run around with as many women as we wanted and essentially be room mates and get paid a basic housing allowance (x2) for being married. If I were caught in some kind of adultery situation (hard to prove usually) I would simply state that I and my life partner are straight and though we are married we do not sleep together. Further, who is to judge how we choose to run our family/household? Anything goes according to the Supreme Court and if two gay men can get married why can’t two straight ones?

So that’s two of us figuring out that Anthony Kennedy’s decision creates tremendous societal problems.  Can we add three of us or four of us?  Yes, we can!

I don’t want to tread upon copyrights, so let me just direct you to Michael Ramirez’s post-DOMA cartoon and Terminal Lance’s post-DOMA cartoon (warning:  ever so slightly risque).  They both make the point perfectly, one with regard to society at large and the other with special focus on the military.

Andrew Klavan is right that we need to view this as a Democrat “squirrel” moment, one in which the Democrat powers that be distract their sometimes mindless constituents from more important issues such as the economy, or the fact that Syria is imploding, Egypt is on the verge of imploding, and Turkey is working towards imploding.  However, we cannot ignore the legal ramifications flowing from the Supreme Court’s rulings, because these ramifications can become very expensive very quickly.

If nothing else, the end of DOMA is one more reason that the tax code and IRS should be done away with and a flat tax instituted.  After all, the current tax code gives married couples distinct benefits, with an eye to advancing a stable, two-parent family.  Since that’s now out the window, we better revisit where all those tax benefits are flowing.

Thoughts about torture and our self-referential president

I finally got around to watching Zero Dark Thirty, the film about the decade-long hunt for bin Laden.  Before it came out, conservatives were concerned because the White House gave the filmmakers unprecedented access to information about the hunt and about the actual hit on bin Laden.  This opened up the possibility that (a) the movie would betray America’s security secrets and (b) the movie would become a pro-Obama piece of political propaganda.

I don’t know whether the first fear was realized, but the second certainly wasn’t.  Those who claim that the movie supports using torture to obtain information are correct.  The movie opens with audio of phone calls from people trapped in the Twin Towers, and then shifts to a torture site somewhere vaguely Middle Eastern looking.  The torturer is a CIA man.  The person being tortured is a money man for al Qaeda.  Having heard that audio, you are not sympathetic to the al Qaeda guy.

Because of the CIA’s torture tactics, the man gives them useful names.  This happens repeatedly, with al Qaeda members getting hung in chains, hit, subject to water torture, deprived of sleep and human dignity, etc., and eventually revealing names and phone numbers.  The movie makes it clear that they are not being tortured for fun.  They are being tortured to get them to yield information about their, and other people’s, role in killing 3,000 Americans.

The film also makes the point that this information is necessary.  Every so often, after showing CIA interrogations aimed at drawing out a little more information about al Qaeda, the film breaks in with news reports about the Khobar Tower bombing, or the London bombing, or the Islamabad Marriott bombing.  The implication is that it’s vitally necessary for the CIA to crack open al Qaeda’s notoriously closed infrastructure.

The CIA operatives in the movie are dismayed when the situation in Washington changes, making “enhanced” interrogation techniques impossible.  As one says when his boss demands that he get information, if they ask someone in Gitmo, he’ll just get lawyered up and the lawyer will pass on the question to al Qaeda, which can then use it to their advantage.  The only “anti-torture” argument in the movie is a 30 second or so snippet of President Obama saying torture is “not who we are.”

That’s not who we are?  What a funny way to frame a rather more fundamental argument:  Are we, as a society, willing to have our public servants use torture for certain limited purposes?  That’s the question, and the movie answers with a definitive “yes.”  If using torture will get information that can save hundreds, thousands or (G*d forbid) millions of lives, torture is not just appropriate, it’s necessary.  We don’t torture for pleasure or “to make a point,” we do it to save lives.

As for Obama’s that’s “not who we are” statement, I was struck then, as I always am, by how self-referential Barack and Michelle are.  They were at it again in Africa.  Michelle, the spoiled darling of a middle-class Chicago family, said that she’s just like the Senegalese (and before that, she was just like youths in Chicago’s worst ghettos).  I know she’s striving for empathy, but it just ends up looking narcissistic.

Obama is worse, though, because he is America’s official spokesman.  While in Senegal, the press asked him about his response to the Supreme Court’s decisions opening the door for national gay marriage.  (By the way, I like Andrew Klavan’s take.)  Obama, of course, approves.  Not only did he say that, he used the question as an opportunity to talk about gay rights as human rights.  This is actually an important thing, because gays are subject to terrible abuse in both Muslim and Christian Africa.  No matter how one feels about gay marriage or homosexuality, the torture, imprisonment, and murder gays experience throughout Africa is a true crime against human rights.

With the gay marriage question, Obama — who is the greatest orator since Lincoln, right? — had the opportunity to make a profound statement about basic principles of human dignity.  Instead, he embarked upon a wandering rumination about his feelings and his thoughts:

The issue of gays and lesbians, and how they’re treated, has come up and has been controversial in many parts of Africa. So I want the African people just to hear what I believe, and that is that every country, every group of people, every religion have different customs, different traditions. And when it comes to people’s personal views and their religious faith, et cetera, I think we have to respect the diversity of views that are there.

But when it comes to how the state treats people, how the law treats people, I believe that everybody has to be treated equally. I don’t believe in discrimination of any sort. That’s my personal view. And I speak as somebody who obviously comes from a country in which there were times when people were not treated equally under the law, and we had to fight long and hard through a civil rights struggle to make sure that happens.

So my basic view is that regardless of race, regardless of religion, regardless of gender, regardless of sexual orientation, when it comes to how the law treats you, how the state treats you — the benefits, the rights and the responsibilities under the law — people should be treated equally. And that’s a principle that I think applies universally, and the good news is it’s an easy principle to remember.

Every world religion has this basic notion that is embodied in the Golden Rule — treat people the way you want to be treated. And I think that applies here as well. (Emphasis added.)

No wonder that the Senegalese president Mackey Sall had no compunction about delivering a smackdown to the American president. And I do mean a smackdown, since he told Obama that he was a hypocrite to say that every culture has its own way of doing things, and Obama totally respects that, it’s just that the American way is better:

These issues are all societal issues basically, and we cannot have a standard model which is applicable to all nations, all countries — you said it, we all have different cultures. We have different religions. We have different traditions. And even in countries where this has been decriminalized and homosexual marriage is allowed, people don’t share the same views.

Obama is a petty mind with a bully pulpit.

In which I pretend to be Thomas Sowell and offer short takes on today’s headlines

I freely admit that I will never be as brilliant as Thomas Sowell, either in my analytical abilities or in my writing quality.  That doesn’t mean, though, that I can’t borrow his technique of writing the occasional post that consists of one or two sentence thoughts about interesting subjects.  So, I am for his style, even if I lack his substance.

As I understand it, striking down DOMA means that marriage in America is no longer defined as being between one man and one woman.  More than that, it’s no longer defined as anything.  In pre-21st century America, it was understood to be one man and one woman, but now those common understanding is gone.  It seems to me that the feds better act quickly to define marriage as a relationship between two consenting adult humans.  Otherwise, the door is open to polygamy, incest, bestiality, or NAMBLA- and sharia approved marriages with children.

Earl Aagaard forwarded to me a wonderful comment a friend of his made with regard to Obama’s disastrous efforts to engage with Russian President Putin regarding Edward Snowden, currently hanging out with impunity in the Moscow airport:  “It seems that Barack Obama, not content with losing the war on terror, is also trying to lose the Cold War.

I have to admit that I haven’t read closely any of the news articles about Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to revitalize the Middle East peace talks.  All I can think is that trying to get the Palestinians to agree to a two-state solution is a fool’s errand — and John Kerry is most certainly a fool.

I was saddened, but not surprised, to see that the Senate passed the Immigration bill (all 1,200 unread pages of it), including 14 “yes” votes from Republicans.  I have only two hopes now.  I hope that every Senate Republican who voted “Aye” gets killed in the primaries and I hope that House Republicans figure out that they can vote “no” on the bill by pointing to the fact that, as written, it destroys American jobs, both by drastically increasing the pool of legal, low-income workers and by blending with ObamaCare to give employers the incentive to fire current workers (for whom they must buy insurance or pay a fine) in favor of amnestied workers (who don’t fall under ObamaCare).  I just know, though, the Republicans are going to be sufficiently stupid to sell this as fear of too many Hispanics.  Raaacists!!

We’re having a heat wave here in temperate Northern California.  Oh. My. G*d!  It must be global warming.  We’re all going to die!  Oh.  Wait a minute.  Never mind.  I just remembered that it’s June and we’ve had a heat wave in the Bay Area every June since my earliest memories in the 1960s.

There’s a saying that one should never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.  There’s also a saying that even a stopped clock is right twice a day.  If Obama was merely stupid, one would think that, in his approach to foreign policy, he’d occasionally get things right.  But he never does.  Think about his instincts:  With the Iranian revolution, when he should have given moral support to the opposition, he was silent.  During the Egyptian Arab Spring, when he should have supported and then gently eased out our ally, Mubarak, he was silent.  He found his voice again with the Muslim Brotherhood, whom he supported — so much so that, now that ordinary Egyptians and, especially Coptic Christians in Egypt, are figuring out that they went from a bad secular government to a much worse theocratic government, Obama has fallen silent again.

Obama pulled us out of Iraq, where we had won, before we had a chance to consolidate a democratic infrastructure.  Iraq is now becoming an Iranian satellite and falling into a dystopian Islamic anarchy.  In Afghanistan, Obama didn’t even wait until we won.  He announced that we had lost and would be leaving soon, and by the way, would the Taliban please refrain from killing Americans and instead sit down with American politicians to negotiate the terms of our defeat.

Of course one can’t forget Libya, where we helped destroy a neutral (which is what Qaddafi had become) and replaced the power structure with a toxic, anarchic combination of the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda.  That chicken came tragically home to roost on September 11, 2012, when al Qaeda killed four Americans in Benghazi.  Then there’s Syria, where Obama sat by the sidelines when he could have helped a democratic movement against Assad’s dictatorship, but decided to provide support only when the democratic movement had morphed into — yes, again — a toxic, anarchic combination of the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda.  One starts to get the feeling that Obama likes the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda, despite their clearly expressed goals of world jihad, with Israel as target No. 1 and America as target No. 2.

Obama’s bestest friend in the international world is Turkey’s Erdogan, who is doing his damndest to turn secular, functional, democratic Turkey into another totalitarian dictatorship.  Meanwhile, he’s alienated Russia’s Putin so much that Putin gleefully rubs America’s nose in its helplessness with regard to the gallivanting Snowden.

My conclusion:  It cannot be random that Obama gets it wrong every time.  This isn’t stupidity.  It is malice.

Speaking of Snowden, I’m still sticking with my first instincts:  Snowden did ordinary Americans a favor by revealing that the federal government is a spy state, and one that could easily tip into being like the East German Stasi.  That he did something important, though, doesn’t mean that his motives were good.  This is an anti-American man who was either working for a foreign power (probably China) from the get go, or who, having gotten his hands on America’s national security secrets, didn’t hesitate one moment when it came to selling out America.  He’s not a hero.  He’s a villain who incidentally did something helpful.

Do any of you feel like being epigrammatic?  If so, please chime in.

California Progressives commit one of the best inadvertent puns I’ve ever seen

The one thing you can count on with Progressives is that anything that happens in Washington, D.C. — any legislation, any election, and any legal decision — is a reason to go out and beg for money.  Within hours of the Supreme Court decision that effectively strikes down Prop. 8, making gay marriage legal in California, a group called “Courage Campaign” sent out an email begging for money and, in the process, created one of the funniest inadvertent puns I’ve seen in a long time:

VICTORY! Now let's leave no gay behind

If you haven’t caught what makes it so funny, here’s a hint: read the very first line aloud:

VICTORY! Now let's leave no gay behind2

Hat tip: Sadie

The fundamental unconstitutionalism of Obama’s presidency

Much has been made of Obama’s statement that the gun rights crowd should stop worrying, because Obama contends that he is “constrained” by the system the Founders put in place.  If you don’t read his actual words with great care, it sounds as if he’s saying he’s contractually constrained — or, to put it in political language, he’s constitutionally constrained.  Without actually listening to him, we assume he’s saying, “Stop worrying, because even I understand that the Constitution stops me from grabbing your guns.”

The reason that there’s been such an uproar, though, is because that’s not what he’s saying.  Here’s the entire statement:

You hear some of these quotes, ‘I need a gun to protect myself from the government.’ ‘We can’t do background checks because the government is going to come take my guns away.’  Well, the government is us. These officials are elected by you. They are elected by you. I am elected by you. I am constrained, as they are constrained, by a system that our Founders put in place. It’s a government of and by and for the people.

That short paragraph breaks down into three distinct thoughts:

Thought one:  Crazy gun rights nuts fear the government.

Thought two:  People elect their government.

Thought three:  Those who are elected “are constrained by a system that our Founders put into place.”

Obama’s nasty language (and it is nasty, to the extent it calls at least 50% of Americans paranoid and ill-informed) says two things that are wrong.

The first wrong thing Obama’s implication, in thoughts two and three, that politicians are charged with taking care of our Constitutional rights.  That’s bass ackwards.  We are charged with taking care of our Constitutional rights — they’re natural rights, inherent in us, and the Second Amendment exists to make sure that if too many elected officials forget that those are natural rights, and begin to think they’re merely legislative rules that legislators can change, we can rid our country of these politicians’ tyranny.

The second wrong thing, which is more subtle, is that Obama is implying in thoughts two and three that, if a sufficient number of Americans elect anti-gun politicians, that majority overrides the constitution.  What he says in those last five sentences (“the government is us,” “you elect yourselves,” “the election is for you”) is that, if a majority of people elect politicians who support an unconstitutional idea, those politicians get to move forward enacting that idea irrespective of the Constitution.  That is a staggering misreading of the Constitution and the Gettysburg Address.

All of which gets me back to gay marriage and abortion, not because I’m specifically concerned with gay marriage and abortion, but because I’m concerned about the Constitutional implications when the Left takes on gay marriage and abortion.  First, neither is in the Constitution.  In 1973, Supreme Court justices used an emanation of a penumbra based upon an inference to find a “constitutional right to abortion” in the first trimester, with that individual woman’s right decreasing steadily until the third trimester, when the viable fetus became the state’s responsibility.

Since 1973, that trimester by trimester calculation has been abandoned so completely that a Planned Parenthood representative felt comfortable telling the Florida legislature that it was okay to “continue” an abortion if the baby manages to emerge alive.  In some places, that’s called murder.  Indeed, that’s why Kermit Gosnell is being tried for murder.  In Planned Parenthood’s world, however, his work was constitutionally legitimate.

As for gay marriage, it’s being cast as an inchoate civil right because no one can contend the Founders thought about it.  They certainly knew about abortion, although they made no mention of it, but they definitely didn’t consider the possibility of gay marriage.

In the Founders’ time, marriage was thought to be only one possible thing:  the joining of man and woman.  If the Constitution had made mention of it (which it didn’t), that it is what it would have meant.  The Left, though, is now recasting marriage as the uniting of two people who love each other.  The Founders would have been surprised.  In those days, after all, marriage was still very much a business proposition, one that gave a woman children and the assurance of care for those children, and one that gave a man the right to his wife’s financial estate, and the promise of progeny to inherit that combined estate.  If a marriage included love, such as John and Abigail Adams had, or George and Martha Washington enjoyed, that was a pleasant byproduct of a sexual and economic transaction sanctified by religion and sanctioned by the state.

The Obama administration has already used ObamaCare as a bludgeon by which to force conservative religious organizations to sponsor abortion. Before, those organizations preached against it; now, they’re being forced to pay for it.

What happened with abortion matters because the same thing is happening with gay marriage.  During the gay marriage debate’s first iteration, when California’s Prop. 8 was on the ballot, and before ObamaCare, we were promised that there was no way that the State could force religious institutions to perform gay marriages.  “After all,” said Prop. 8 opponents airily, “the state doesn’t force churches to perform abortions.”  Well, in Obama world — secure in his sufficient majority — the State does force churches to perform abortions.

The same will be true with gay marriage.  People dismiss the fact that religious institutions in other countries have been forced to perform gay marriages, or been punished for not performing gay marriages. Those countries, they say, don’t have a constitution.  We know, though, that this constitutional argument is meaningless in Obama’s America.  Last year, his administration made clear that it is unconstrained by Constitutional concerns.  And last week, Obama explained why:  if he feels he has the power, that power overrides the constitution.

At least now we know where we stand.

The question is whether, by 2014, we can convince a majority of American voters that their constitutional rights are at risk and that, even if they agree with the Obama plans so far (abortion, gay marriage, gun control), they may not like the next plans he has lined up down the road.  If I were Obama, I’d go after the 4th and 5th Amendments next.  After getting Americans to understand this comes the harder task:  keeping their focus all the way through 2016.

The problem when it comes to educating Americans is that these ideas are so horribly complex.  They don’t reduce to a poster.  It’s not going to resonate with most Americans to see a poster of a sad priest being forced to perform a gay marriage ceremony.  They’ll probably just say that the priest deserves to suffer because his organization once turned a blind eye to pedophiles.  (Under that standard, of course, the University of Pennsylvania should be razed and the earth sown with salt.)

When the liberals in my world catch hold of the fact that I don’t support gay marriage, they attack me as a homophobe.  I’m really not.  What I am is someone deeply concerned by the Constitutional implications of a mad rush to create implicit constitutional rights where none existed before, and then to use those inferred rights to destroy explicit ones.  They should be just as concerned.  If they want gay marriage as a Constitutional right, they should amend the Constitution, rather than trying to destroy it.  For all they know, they may be the next in line when the Obama state turns its destructive beam on yet another constitutional right.

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.

Charles Krauthammer has been reading Bookworm Room about gay marriage

That post title is, of course, a wild leap of faith.  But there’s no doubt but that Dr. Krauthammer has come to exactly the same conclusion I’ve been trumpeting forever at this blog:  making gay marriage a civil right protected by the Constitution will cause a headlong crash into the First Amendment’s promise that government will leave religious doctrine and practice alone.

I’m going to quote myself from March 2009, long before gay marriage got to the Supreme Court:

As you know, one of my main reasons for supporting Proposition 8, which amended the California constitution to define marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman, was because I believe that move to redefine marriage has the potential to put the State and religion organizations — especially the Catholic church — into a head-on collision.

Liberals, when confronted with this notion, will often argue that, while the Catholic Church objects to abortion, that’s never created a constitutional crisis.  What they ignore is the fact that, while the church is not in the business of providing abortions, it is in the business of providing marriages.  It also ignores the fact that abortion is a legal right, not a constitutional one, while gay marriage proponents have been framing it in the opposite way:  they say gay marriage as a constitutional, rather than a mere legal right.

Keep in mind that, for Catholics, marriage isn’t just a white dress, cake and Mendelssohn’s wedding march.  Instead, it’s a sacrament.  A basic tenet of the religion is the joining of man and woman before God.

So imagine this scenario:  Two men go to the local Catholic parish and demand that it marry them.  The priest, sympathetic to their love for each other, nevertheless states that he cannot, at a purely religious level marry them.  The men turn around and sue the Church for violating their Constitutional rights.  Suddenly, the judicial system is called upon to examine doctrinal issues to determine whether they mesh with Constitutional issues.  It’s a scary scenario for anyone who takes seriously the principle that government may not interfere with religious doctrine.

The only thing that’s changed now is that, thanks to ObamaCare, which requires that Catholic institutions pay for birth control and abortifacients, the Obama administration has already managed to create a Constitutional crisis with regard to abortion.  I hadn’t seen that one coming back in 2009.

Mark Steyn may have written his best column ever — this one about fairness and gay marriage

I know I’ve said before that this or that column is Mark Steyn’s best column ever, but this time, I think he’s really done it — the best column ever.  Why?  Because he’s perfectly managed to reveal the faulty reasoning behind a couple of liberal arguments.  What he does is point out that liberals engage in faulty reasoning when they play everything off the backdrop of America’s Jim Crow laws — laws that were aberrant and out-of-step with the entirety of human history:

If the Right’s case has been disfigured by delusion, the Left’s has been marked by a pitiful parochialism. At the Supreme Court this week, Ted Olson, the former solicitor general, was one of many to invoke comparisons with Loving v. Virginia, the 1967 case that struck down laws prohibiting interracial marriage. But such laws were never more than a localized American perversion of marriage. In almost all other common-law jurisdictions, from the British West Indies to Australia, there was no such prohibition. Indeed, under the Raj, it’s estimated that one in three British men in the Indian subcontinent took a local wife. “Miscegenation” is a 19th-century American neologism. When the Supreme Court struck down laws on interracial marriage, it was not embarking on a wild unprecedented experiment but merely restoring the United States to the community of civilized nations within its own legal tradition.

[snip]

Yet, beyond the Court, liberal appeals to “fairness” are always the easiest to make. Because, for too much of its history, this country was disfigured by halfwit rules about who can sit where on public transportation and at lunch counters, the default position of most Americans today is that everyone should have the right to sit anywhere: If a man self-identifies as a woman and wants to sit on the ladies’ toilet, where’s the harm? If a woman wants to be a soldier and sit in a foxhole in the Hindu Kush, sure, let her. If a mediocre high-school student wants to sit in a college class, that’s only fair. American “rights” have taken on the same vapid character as grade-school sports: Everyone must be allowed to participate, and everyone is entitled to the same participation ribbon.

In just two pithy paragraphs, Steyn has clearly revealed the fallacies underlying the relentless Progressive demand that we have a “fair” society.  These demands are at odds with tried-and-true, universal principles such as “equal protection under the law,” justice, and biological reality.

Again, I’ll say that this does not mean that the various states, in order to further socioeconomic goals, should not extend to two-party gay partnerships the same benefits and burdens it confers on two-party straight partnerships.  Those are legitimate state goals.  What is not legitimate is to pervert human history and to deny reality.

In France, anti-gay marriage voices emerge — from gays

Yesterday, I posted about the differences between gay sex (which is none of my business, so you can do what you like) and gay marriage (which is a significant state institution that cannot be treated in a libertarian way).  I was not arguing against gay marriage, per se, although I do have different ideas than most about ways in which committed same-sex partners can confirm their status so as to ensure equal treatment under the law.

Out of France, though, comes a group that is strongly opposed to gay marriage.  That’s a dog bites man sentence.  What makes it a man bites dog story is the fact that this group is made up of gays, who believe that gay marriage is wrong, that it is at odds with gay culture, and that it is inconsistent with the core nature of marriage:

If you read French, you can learn more about this group here. And then, because I don’t read French, feel free to come back to this post and tell us what they say.

Found it on Facebook: gay marriage is not a libertarian value

One of my Facebook friends posted the following:

Almost libertarian

The libertarian in me agrees with a lot of the post.  I’d like government to stop playing nanny to people.  It would make for smaller, cheaper, and less intrusive government, not to mention more individual freedom and personal responsibility.

But, as the Sesame Street song used to say, one of these things is not like the other one:  gay marriage.

I’m not arguing against gay marriage in this post.  I just want to point out that it doesn’t belong in list of “rights” on the poster, because it’s not a personal behavior.  To be equivalent to the other points on the list, the first question should read as follows: “Don’t like homosexual sex?  Don’t engage in it.”

The fact is that marriage is not a private act or behavior, it’s a public one and one, moreover, in which the state has a significant interest.  Stable marriages are good for a state and the children of those stable marriages are a necessity for a country’s future.  Analogizing gay marriage to other individual acts that can be done in the privacy of ones own home or on ones own property or in a private club is a false equivalence.

Having said that, if the state feels that gay marriage is a virtue that will benefit society, the state can then advance gay marriage.  (Or, if it takes my advice, get out of the marriage business, leaving marriage to religious institutions, and legislating civil unions that provide the greatest benefit for the state.)  Just don’t pretend that gay sex and gay marriage are the same thing, because they’re not.

Incidentally, if that was my poster, I would have added one more thing:  “Don’t like guns?  Don’t own one.”

Sheldon Adelson: Put aside social conservativism to reclaim America

I promise that this post will be about what Sheldon Adelson had to say in an interview with Alana Goodman of Commentary Magazine.  Before I get there, though, I need to begin with a little story of my own.

Readers of my newsletter know that I had lunch last week with seven other conservative women here in Marin.  We had all found each other more or less by accident, not because any of us in Marin have proudly worn our conservativism in the open (our kids would be ostracized if we did), but because we listened for the little clues in their words that hinted at a conservative orientation.  We then risked exposing ourselves by asking, “Uh, are you by any chance  . . . um, you know, conserva-mumble, mumble, mumble?”

That shyness, of course, was before the last election.  Since the 2012 election, we’ve all made a vow to each other to be more open about our political identity and to challenge liberals who lead with unfounded conclusions that demonize conservatives and their beliefs or that confer saintly virtues on Obama and his cadre.

Interestingly, the eight of us were a microcosm of conservative views, ranging from fiscally conservative but socially liberal conservatives all the way to both fiscally and socially conservatives.  Our common denominator, of course, was fiscal conservativism. Dig deeper, and there were two other common denominators:  an abiding belief in the Constitution’s continued relevance to modern America and a fierce devotion to individual liberty.

Where we differed was (a) gay marriage and (b) abortion.  With regard to abortion, we did have one overarching point of agreement, which was that abortion is not a federal issue and should therefore be returned to the states.  When it came to gay marriage, all of us were willing to recognize gay unions, but we differed about whether the answer is to declare gay marriage the law of the land or, instead, to preserve marriage for religious institutions, while making civil unions across the board (both straight and gay) the law of the land.  As regular readers know, I hew to the second view, which acknowledges human relationships and state goals, without interfering in any way with religious freedom.

I walked away from the lunch realizing as clearly as I ever have that the strong fiber weaving us together is fiscal conservativism and individual liberty.  The frayed strands at the edges are what are commonly called “social issues.”

The Democrats, recognizing that the quickest way to shred a piece of fabric is to tear at the frayed edges, rather than to try to destroy the sturdy center, worked hard during the election to blow the gay-marriage and abortion dog whistles.  As the race in Missouri showed, social conservativism is a political landmine that routinely explodes in the face of struggling Republican candidates.  Todd Akin could have won that race if he hadn’t been asked about abortion.  When thinking about Akin’s repulsive and misinformed answer, which provided a solid Progressive rallying cry, don’t forget Richard Mourdock. His experience proves that, even if Akin had given a principled pro-Life answer, he still would have been pilloried and destroyed.

I’m a big believer that, when it comes to social issues, culture drives politics, rather than politics driving culture.  For the past forty years, social liberals have been planted very firmly in the driver’s seat.  They have infiltrated both media and education, which has given them the chance to shape a generation’s social views.  They have sensitized this generation’s ears so that the dog whistles most people under 55 hear the loudest aren’t “debt” or “fiscal cliff” or “responsibility,” but are, instead, “women haters,” “homophobes” and “racists.”

What this cultural transformation means is that, in the short term, conservatives can win on the fiscal side (and, possibly, on the individual liberties side) because people haven’t been deafened by decades of dog whistles on those subjects.  Until we take back the culture, though, which we do exactly the same way the Left did — namely, a slow march through the culture — we will invariably lose on social issues.  Significantly as the most recent election shows, losing on social issues inevitably means losing on all issues.

Now, finally, have established my premise about the way in which social issues invariably play against conservatives in national elections, I can get to Sheldon Adelson’s interview in Commentary Magazine.  For purposes of this essay, Sheldon Adelson is important for three reasons.  First, he is a conservative who is willing to put his money where his mouth is (unlike Warren Buffet, a true-to-form liberal who wants to put other people’s money where his mouth is).  The second reason Adelson is important is that, after his emergence as a money-player in this election, the Left has worked as hard to demonize him as they did to demonize the Koch Brothers and Mitt Romney.  And the third reason is that Sheldon Adelson agrees with me that conservatives cannot win on social issues:

For someone whose name and face were a regular staple of the election coverage, the public does have many misconceptions about Adelson. His liberal social views rarely received media attention during the campaign season, though he’s certainly never hidden them.

“See that paper on the wall?” he asked, gesturing toward a poster with rows of names on it. “That is a list of some of the scientists that we give a lot of money to conduct collaborative medical research, including stem cell research. What’s wrong if I help stem cell research? I’m all in favor. And if somebody wants to have an abortion, let them have an abortion,” he said.

[snip]

Adelson has not said whether he will use his influence to try to change the GOP internally. But he does believe social issues cost the Republicans the last election.

“If we took a softer stance on those several issues, social issues, that I referred to, then I think that we would have won the most recent election,” he said. “I think people got the impression that Republicans didn’t care about certain groups of people.”

You should definitely read the whole interview.

Adelson is precisely what my self-admitted conservative friends are:  fiscally conservative, socially fairly liberal, very receptive to legal immigration (because a nation, for health, national security, and economic reasons should control its own borders), and supportive of Israel.  What’s funny, though, is that Adelson is also pretty close in actual outlook to all the upscale, white collar liberals I know who reflexively vote Democrat because of the conservative issues.  These people are also fiscally conservative in their own lives; they what their country safe and fiscally sound for their children; they like immigrants but recognize that illegal immigrants pose risks both for American citizens and legal, Green Card immigrants; and they like Israel’s values.

The problem at the ballot box is that, after forty years of Leftist indoctrination, these educated liberals are unable to harmonize their values with their politics.  Despite recognizing the wisdom of fiscal management in their own homes, they think a state can survive indefinitely by spending more than it takes in; despite training their children in self-reliance, they believe that we should destroy self-reliance in “the poor”; despite believing that people should be able to protect themselves and their homes, they are embarrassed when their country tries to defend itself; and despite admiring a pluralist, democratic society, which is what Israel is, they bemoan the plight of the poor Palestinians who have allowed their (now sovereign) territory to devolve in a crazy mix of anarchism and Islamic fundamentalism.

What makes this cognitive dissonance possible for white collar liberals is their unswerving allegiance to unlimited abortions and (of late) to gay marriage. Just as fiscal conservativism, the Constitution, and individual freedom bind conservatives of all stripes together, so too do abortion and gay marriage (with a soupçon of illegal immigration) bind together Progressives of all stripes.  We cannot entice Progressives to fiscal conservativism if we insist on a purity test for abortion and gay marriage.  It’s just not going to happen.  And here’s the kicker:  abortion and gay marriage become moot issues if our nation collapses entirely under the weight of debt or if our walls our breached by Islamists or if we become “tuberculosis central” because we cannot assert even a modicum of polite control over our borders.

As a parent, I hew socially conservative, so those are values I want to advance.  But I’m a pragmatist who recognizes that the ballot box isn’t the place to make it happen.  The ballot box is how we manage issues of sovereignty (including national security and border control) and fiscal health.  Our social institutions are where we make headway on social issues.  If we can keep those lines from crossing, we can be a resurgent conservative political party and, eventually, a somewhat more traditional America, one that preserves the best and healthiest social policies of the past and the present.

 

Getting outside of the bubble: taking liberal arguments seriously

Paul Scott challenged us to look at what Eric Garland, a Progressive blogger, has to say and to take it seriously as a way to win the White House.  Paul is right — we cannot make a convincing argument unless we know what our opponent in the argument believes.  Insulting Paul doesn’t make us stronger.  Rather than spin around in our own fish bowl, we have to look at what others are saying, correct their misconceptions, and either challenge or concede to their arguments head-on.

In that spirit, I’m taking a serious look at Eric Garland’s post.  I’m not giving anything away here when I say that, having weighed it carefully, I’ve found it wanting.

Eric might also want to look seriously at conservatives, since he seems to be have accepted several canards propounded by the media and other liberal sources.  In that regard, I would remind him that the Wheel of Political Fortune has tended to rotate in roughly eight year cycles:  Reagan’s conservativism got 12 years (counting Bush); Clinton’s Progressivism got 8 years; Bush’s compassionate conservativism got 8 years; and Obama is now getting his 8 years.

Whether Obama will also get his own addendum years, as Reagan did with Bush Sr., remains open to question.  Americans are a generous and forbearing people, but unless Obama significantly improves the economy, or significantly re-educates Americans so that they lower their economic and employment expectations, Obama’s next four years may be the Democrats’ last four for a while.

Let’s start with Eric’s contention that he is the kind of voter that Republicans seek:

  • My family lineage goes back to the MAYFLOWER, BOAT ONE!!! (Garland family of New England-> John Adams -> Howard Alden -> Plymouth colony ->KINGS OF MUTHAF***IN’ ENGLAND)
  • I am a heterosexual, married to the super Caucasian mother of my two beautiful children who are, inexplicably, EVEN WHITER THAN I AM.
  • I am college educated (Master’s degree!) and affluent.
  • I am a job creator and small businessman.
  • We pay a lot of taxes! Every year!
  • I grew up in a rural area and despise laziness!
  • Having started my own business, I have complained at length about the insanity of federal, state and local bureaucracy – and its deleterious impact on the innovative small businessman.
  • I currently live in the suburbs in a historically Red state.

I’m not sure Eric is the perfect specimen he thinks he is.  Or rather, he’s the perfect specimen only if you accept his rather ugly view of conservatives.

Family lineage:  As a first generation Jewish American conservative, I was unaware that the Republican party had admissions criteria based upon 1950s WASP country club rules.  To the contrary, the Republican party, unlike the Democratic party, does not classify people by race, religion, or country of national origin.  Instead, it seeks values voters.  As I use it, and as the the conservatives I know use it, the term “values voters” should be understood to encompass constitutional values such as individual liberty; market-based capitalism; small, affordable government; freedom of speech; freedom of worship; etc.  In other words, the oldies, but goodies.  These are values intrinsic too all Americans regardless of the divisive victim identities that the Democrats and Progressives have sought to impose on the American body politic since the 1960s.  We understand that people like Eric can’t help their boring lineage.  They are still welcome amongst conservatives.

Sexual orientation and race:  By boasting repeatedly about his, and his family’s, whiteness and heterosexuality, Eric sounds a little too much like a candidate for the KKK (which was, as his high education level surely informs him, a Democrat connected party).  Eric’s obsession with his race and sexuality highlights the Democrat/Progressive habit of parsing Americans into sexual and racial boxes.  Honestly, we conservatives really don’t care about those archaic, eugenicist classifications.  What we do care about are shared values, tied to the Constitution.  I know bunches of gays, whites, Jews, Asians, Blacks, and Hispanics (and whatever other little boxes Progressives like to check) who believe in limited government.

What all conservatives have figured out is that, once government gets big enough (and ours certainly has gotten that big), it can start picking winners and losers.  That’s good for the winners.  Unfortunately, as Jews, Gypsies, Gays, Communists, and the mentally disabled discovered in Nazi Germany; as Kulaks discovered in Soviet Russia; and intellectuals and glasses-wearers discovered in Pol Pot’s Cambodia, if a Big Government identifies you as a loser, you’re pretty much dead.  The smaller the government, the less risk for minority groups.  Ideally, as the Founders perfectly understood, one wants a government that’s big enough to protect all of its citizens, but not one so big that it does what Eric does:  parses them into “in” groups and “out” groups, and then punish the “out” groups.

College educated and affluent:  It’s great that Eric and his family are college educated and affluent.  I’m sure his mother is very proud.  It may come as a surprise to Eric that many conservatives are educated too. And almost as many conservatives have spent many years trying to unlearn the Left wing pap that made up that education.

The real world doesn’t put the same premium on the Ivory Tower that the Ivory Tower puts upon itself.  Womyn’s Studies contribute little to intellectual attainment or economic betterment.  And if you’ve got an MBA predicated on Keynesian economics — well, you’re about to see that economic view take a hit in the real world, just as it did when Roosevelt put it into effect (with the Depression massively worsened under his aegis), or when Europe put it into effect with its now-collapsing soft-socialism, and as America will see play out as the Harvard-educated Obama continues to pick winners and losers in today’s economy.

The secret that hasn’t yet infiltrated the Ivory Tower is that governments are slow, inefficient, and corrupt.  They analyze data inefficiently, apply their analyses unfairly, and then pervert the market (using taxpayer money) to prop up their so-called “winner’s” failures.  Today’s education, which is directed at creating a Leftist man, rather than a broadly educated man, is nothing to boast about.

A job creator and small businessman.  Again, that’s great.  Conservatives believe that job creators and small business people should support conservative values, because lower taxes, fewer regulations, and less government control (not no government control, but less) enhance small businesses and create more jobs.  We find bewildering the number of small business owners who willingly vote for politicians who impose ever greater burdens upon them, stifling their building to thrive and grow.

Pays lots of taxes:  Eric sounds almost enthusiastic about those taxes.  One wonders if he’s ever asked himself if the government makes better decisions about spending that money than he does?  I’m sure Eric doesn’t quarrel — and neither do I — with government spending it on core government functions that all civilized nations support, such as national security, roads, public health, etc.  I wonder, though, if he’s thought seriously about the economics and morals of taking stimulus dollars and deciding which businesses, interests, and individuals should get special treatment using American tax dollars.  Likewise, I wonder if he’s ever considered the wisdom of tethering people more and more tightly to welfare by taking dollars out of the market and then having the government channel those same dollars to people rendered unemployed by the deleterious effect high taxes have on jobs.

Rural and not-lazy.  Again, good for Eric.  Republicans like rural, not-lazy people.  Republicans also like suburban or urban not-lazy people.  Basically, Republicans like people who are willing to put some energy into living their own lives, rather than sitting back complacently, waiting for a hand-out.

Complained about bureaucracy:  It’s rather peculiar that Eric hates bureaucracy, but still supports Obama and his Democrats.  This headline explains my bewilderment:  “Obama Administration Proposes 6,125 Regulations And Notifications In Last 90 Days.”  Why would someone who dislikes the burdens of a large bureaucracy vote for the candidate whose promise is to increase government interference in and control of every aspect of our lives?

Red Stater:  I bet Eric likes living in a Red State.  His taxes aren’t as high as they could be (try living in Blue California), and he’s not dealing with the failed economies that plague the Blue States (have I mentioned California?).  In other words, Eric is living well thanks to Red State, conservative values voters, who have supported lower taxes and more individual freedom.  It’s ironic and sad that his current goal is to reduce the entire United States to a wacky economic combination of Detroit (bankrupt), California (bankrupt), Illinois (bankrupt and corrupt), and other blue stated wonders, filled with “smart” people and big debt.  It’s not just the states that are bankrupt.  Bankrupt states produce bankrupt individuals.

(Thinking about this makes me kind of sad that I didn’t pursue my original law school goal of becoming a bankruptcy attorney.  It seemed like such a great idea during the recession that existed when I was started law school.  As the Reagan economy improved, through, I rethought things, and went for general business litigation.  Now would be a good time to be a bankruptcy attorney.  Take a firm like Wadhwani & Shanfeld, for example, which clearly started as a two attorney enterprise, and now has five offices scattered throughout meatless-Monday Southern California.  That’s the great thing about America — there’s always a silver lining for someone.  Also, I like that firm because it’s quite clear that the founders are from different cultural/racial backgrounds, but they came together to create a successful all-American enterprise.  Woo-hoo!)

But back to my main point….

Per Eric’s definition, the modern Republican party would desperately like to look like the old Democrat KKK, which utterly fails to explain why it celebrates extraordinary people and politicians such as Mia Love, Marco Rubio, Allen West, Herman Cain, Bobby Jindal, and other Americans who are concerned more with values than with little boxes on government survey forms.

Eric reveals his blinkered view of conservativism when he claims he is a prize of the type conservatives seek.  It’s nice that he pays taxes, creates jobs, is educated, works hard, and lives in a Red State, but he’s flattering himself a little too much.  It isn’t what he is taxes and education that matter, when it comes to elections, it’s what he believes — and honestly, his beliefs aren’t so hot.  What Eric believes leads down a single road:  higher taxes; fewer jobs; continued Leftist educational indoctrination; higher welfare and food stamp rolls; a population made up of disparate groups all vying to be crowned “biggest victim”; and Red States joining their Blue compatriots in bankruptcy and corruption.

Perhaps if Eric could see beyond his Jon Stewart, New York Times, MSNBC definition of conservatives, he might realize that the conservative ideology offers him and others a great deal more than he ever imagined, without interfering too greatly with what I assume are his core values.  Let’s take his critiques of conservatives one at a time:

Science - One of the reasons my family is affluent is that my wife and I have a collective fifteen years of university education between us. I have a Masters degree in Science and Technology Policy, and my wife is a physician who holds degrees in medicine as well as cell and molecular biology. We are really quite unimpressed with Congressional representatives such as Todd Akin and Paul Broun who actually serve on the House science committee and who believe, respectively, that rape does not cause pregnancy and that evolution and astrophysics are lies straight from Satan’s butt cheeks. These are, sadly, only two of innumerable assaults that the Republican Party has made against hard science – with nothing to say of logic in general. Please understand the unbearable tension this might create between us and your candidates.

As far as I can tell, in the last election, it is a sad truth that the Republican party managed to field a few idiots, such as Todd Akin, Tom Smith, and Roger Rivard, who are genuinely ignorant, in a very mean-spirited way, about rape.  Otherwise, though, Republicans are like other Americans, in that they understand that horrors of rape and the morally difficult consequences that result from rape.

Thus, conservatives recognize that rape is a terrible thing, one that becomes a permanent, damaging part of a woman’s psyche.  What some pro-Life conservatives say, though, is that this purely an evil act may nevertheless have resulted in something good:  an innocent life.  To them, it would compound the evil of rape if it was followed by the murder of an innocent.  They are not unsympathetic to the rape victim, they just believe that, in the balance, two wrongs don’t make a right.

I’m not agreeing or disagreeing with them, because the topic deserves a post on its own.  I’m simply saying that candidates such as Paul Ryan, Richard Mourdock, Joe Walsh, and John Koster have set out a moral position that has nothing to do with science.  In the same way, there’s nothing science-related about Barack Obama’s repeated willingness to oppose a bill that would have required physicians to care for late-term babies that, rather than being aborted as planned, end up living.

The question of an innocent life within a full-realizedwomen is one of morals, not science, and it’s a profound cognitive error to conflate the two.   Also, I can’t resist adding that, when it comes to idiots, the Democrats have managed to field quite a few of their own cranks, crackpots, gaffe-meisters, and other mean-spirited, ignorant people.  The difference between Democrats and Republicans is that, while the Republican idiots didn’t get elected to office, the Democrat idiots did.

Climate - Within just the past 18 months the following events have come to our attention: a record-breaking drought that sent temperatures over 100 degrees for weeks, killing half the corn in the Midwest and half the TREES on our suburban property – AND – a hurricane that drowned not New Orleans or Tampa or North Carolina but my native state of VERMONT. As an encore, a second hurricane drowned lower Manhattan, New Jersey and Long Island. The shouted views of decrepit mental fossil Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma that this is a fraud perpetrated on the American people by evil, conspiring climate scientists is belied by such events and is looking irresponsible to even the most skeptical.

I’m always amazed at the way supposedly educated people confuse correlation and causation.  The one does not imply the other.  That is, just because we’re seeing impressive climate events at the same time that most Americans drive cars doesn’t mean the two are related.

Most conservatives willingly acknowledge climate change.  Indeed, they’ll go further than just focusing on the changes that took place since Al Gore, in the early 1970s, was convinced that the earth would soon freeze over.  They’ll concede that the earth’s climate has been changing non-step since the earth first came into being.

Where conservatives differ with the self-identified scientifically brilliant climate change crowd is in believing (a) that human activity can change climate and (b) that warming is a bad thing.  (The picture below is of Greenland, which was once Green and sustained significant Viking colonies.)

With regard to human activity, conservatives admit that humans can affect the environment, most notably with pollution.  Most conservatives believe that they are the earth’s stewards and that this stewardship requires acting responsibly so that we do not make filthy the world around us, or carelessly destroy nature’s bounty.  We do not believe, though, that the climate change crowd has adduced sufficient evidence to show that today’s bad weather is human-kind’s fault.  News about Climategate, or the profound errors regarding Himalayan glaciers, indicates that we are right to be suspicious.  (Regarding glaciers, for example, we know that they’ve advanced and retreated relentlessly for most of the earth’s lifespan.)

And with regard to the apocalyptic view of warming, those of us reasonably conversant with history know that a global warming trend is good for humans.  It increases the growing season, releases more water (which is essential to all human existence), and makes available more land on which to grow food.  For example, the periods both before and after the mini-Ice Age were good ones for human development.

A few more things to throw into the mix:  We know that it’s only since Victorian times that people have been keeping accurate weather records, which means that we’re basing a lot of conclusions on only 150 years of data.  We know that the computer models on which much climate hysteria is based have frequently proven wrong.  And we know that many of the problems we’ve seen from hurricanes have happened, not because hurricane are worse (and after all, our records are only 150-200 years old), but because we have very dense coastal populations.  It’s like the difference between a fatal car crash involving one passenger and a crash involving seven:  it’s the same crash, but the mortality rate in the second instance is seven times greater.

Healthcare - My wife and I are quite familiar with America’s healthcare system due to our professions, and having lived abroad extensively, also very aware of comparable systems. Your party’s insistence on declaring the private U.S. healthcare system “the best in the world” fails nearly every factual measure available to any curious mind. We watch our country piss away 60% more expenditures than the next most expensive system (Switzerland) for health outcomes that rival former Soviet bloc nations. On a personal scale, my wife watches poor WORKING people show up in emergency rooms with fourth-stage cancer because they were unable to afford primary care visits. I have watched countless small businesses unable to attract talented workers because of the outrageous and climbing cost of private insurance. And I watch European and Asian businesses outpace American companies because they can attract that talent without asking people to risk bankruptcy and death. That you think this state of affairs is somehow preferable to “Obamacare,” which you compared ludicrously to Trotskyite Russian communism, is a sign of deficient minds unfit to guide health policy in America.

Eric’s analysis about the US healthcare system works only because he is relying on the WHO metric –that is, he’s looking at access, not quality.  I’m not going to beat this horse here, because I don’t have to.  Scott Atlas’ masterful The Worst Study Ever explains the difference between socialized and American medicine, as well as the flaws in the WHO study.  More than that, he does so concisely and in terms even the well-educated can understand.

There’s no doubt that the pre-ObamaCare American system was inefficient and needed improvement.  Turning it into England’s National Health Service, however, which serves the young and healthy sort of well, but is bad news for others, is not the way to reform American medical care.

War - Nations do have to go to war sometimes, but that Iraq thing was pretty bad, to put it mildly. Somebody should have been, I dunno – FIRED for bad performance. Aren’t you the party of good corporate managers or something? This topic could get 10,000 words on its own. Let’s just leave it at: You guys suck at running wars.

Eric might want to explain what happened in Libya, which was Obama’s war:  Why did we go in, how much did we spend, and what did we get for the money, aside from some murdered Americans, including the first U.S. Ambassador killed since 1979?  Eric might also want to look into the skyrocketing deaths on Obama’s watch in Afghanistan — deaths that are wasted, because we already know that they will be followed, not by victory, but by retreat.  Lastly, Eric might want to contemplate that, since 1900, most of the wars in which America got involved started on a Democrat’s watch:  WWI (Wilson), WWII (Roosevelt), the Korean War (Truman), the Vietnam War (Kennedy and Johnson), and the war in Libya (Obama).  Perhaps having a stronger hand at the helm might have avoided those wars in the first place.

Deficits and debt - Whenever the GOP is out of power, it immediately appeals to the imagination of voters who remember the Lyndon Baines Johnson (!) administration and claim that the Republican alternative is the party of “cutting spending” and “reducing the deficit.” The only problem with your claim is that Republican governments throughout my entire 38 year life (Reagan, Bush 41, Bush 43) have failed to cut spending and deficit and debt EVEN ONCE. I hope you understand that your credibility suffers every time you promise one thing for three decades and do the EXACT OPPOSITE. Egads – if you actually were the party of fiscal responsibility – you might win our votes despite your 13th century view of science!

I’ve got to agree with Eric — the Republicans have been stinky at fiscal responsibility.  Really stinky.  The only ones who have been worse are the Democrats.  James Taranto nailed it in his column explaining that, right up until the Tea Party got serious about the deficit, the only thing that the Republicans did was to temper Democrat spending:

Deficit hawkishness was the main strain of postwar Republican conservatism until the Goldwater movement of 1964. When lefties long for the “mainstream” Republicans of yore, this is a large part of what they have in mind. A conservatism that cares only about balancing the books not only fails to challenge the encroachment of the welfare state but actively aids it by taking political pressure off the left.

Here’s how politics would work in a world in which deficit hawks dominated the Republican Party: The Democrats would propose a new entitlement. Some Republicans would oppose it, but once it was clear it was going to pass, they would drop their opposition and push for tax increases instead.

It’s a win-win for the Democratic left. They not only fulfill their ideological goal of ever-expanding government, but they get the political credit for doling out benefits and they shift the blame to Republicans (or at least share it with them) for the concomitant tax increases. Conservatives are reduced, to paraphrase Newt Gingrich, to acting as tax collectors for the welfare state. With Republican cooperation, Democrats can be the party of generous benefits and low taxes. Lyndon B. Johnson dramatically expanded the former while reducing the latter.

The current strain of conservativism, birthed by the Tea Party, is small government conservativism.  The Big Tent has room for social conservatives, but the real press here is what got Reagan into office on his second run for the presidency:  shrinking the federal government.  As Taranto explains in the article quoted above, talking about shrinking government is easier than actually shrinking government, but the focus is still on restraining growth, not just on figuring out a way to pay for it.

Eric’s attitude — which is that Republicans are wastrels, so I’ll vote for the party that’s even more irresponsible with taxpayer money — is a classic example of cutting of ones nose to spite ones face.  Eric should be demanding more small government conservativism, not retaliating against Republican profligacy by opening his checkbook even wider for infinitely worse Democrat profligacy.

The bottom line in the rational world, and one that Eric, as an educated man and businessman, should know well is simple:  over the long term, you cannot spend what you don’t have.  When your spending outruns your earning by too great an amount, you have very limited choices:  continue to spend yourself into bankruptcy, which is the Obama choice; cut your spending, which is the Tea Party choice; and earn more money, which is what Obama contends is his choice, one made by using the government’s taxation powers.  Where Obama errs is that it is impossible to close the gap by taxing the rich.  Instead, by killing the goose that lays the golden egg, Obama’s approach will merely accelerate the bankruptcy.

Gay marriage - As the child of Baby Boomers who got divorced (as was the fashion!) in the 80s and 90s, and for whom 50% of my friends had their homes broken by divorce in the critical years before age 18, I sure am unsympathetic to your caterwauling bullshit that “gays will destroy the sanctity of marriage.” Perhaps if everyone in your generation didn’t take the period of 1978 – 1995 to start surreptitiously banging their neighbors and coworkers, only to abandon their kids because “they just weren’t happy,” I would take your defense of marriage more seriously. The institution of Middle Class suburban marriage was broken by the generation of aging white Baby Boomers who populate what is left of the Republican Party, so your defense is wrongheaded and disingenuous. And moreover, as someone who got called “faggot” about 127 times a day from the years 1985 through 1991 – guess what – I grew up to be pretty good friends with actual homosexuals, whose sexual orientation is usually the least significant thing about them. The Republican perseveration on homosexuals as any sort of threat consigns them to history’s trough of intellectual pig dung.

Eric errs (again!) in assuming that, because conservatives haven’t embraced gay marriage, they hate gays.  Not so.  As with abortion, this is a complicated issue that sees a clash of differing liberties.  As I’ve written often, “marriage” has two distinct components:  religious and civil.  When church and state were one, that wasn’t a problem; when they parted ways, with the Constitution guaranteeing that the government would stay out of the religion business, the potential for conflicts arose.  As we’ve seen with the ObamaCare contraception/insurance mandate, when the government issue edicts that conflict with doctrine, the Constitution is directly implicated.  So too with “gay marriage.”  It’s extremely easy to posit a situation in which a church refuses to marry a gay couple, which then sues the church, claiming that it violated their civil rights.

My suggestion, and I think it’s a good one, is for the government to get out of the marriage business and into the civil union business.  It is then free to define civil unions however it wishes:  male/female, female/female, male/male, goat/cow, etc.  The state’s concern would be “What’s good for the state?”  Considerations would be population replacement or control, economics, stability, etc.  This would leave marriage as a purely religious union.

Frankly, if there wasn’t such a mad rush towards gay marriage, people would be able to step back for a moment and contemplate what their goals are and what the potential pitfalls are.  I don’t have a problem with ensuring that committed gay couples obtain the same civil benefits (and burdens) as other committed couples.  I do have a problem with a pell-mell rush into changing an ancient institution in such a way that it creates a certain clash with faiths, in such as way as to lead to a serious Constitutional crisis.  Am I anti-gay?  No.  I am pro-civil rights, pro-religion, and pro-Constitution.  But in all the rush, nobody is listening to people like me.

Meanness- Your party is really mean, mocking and demonizing everyone who does not follow you into the pits of hell. You constantly imply – as Mitt Romney did in his “47% speech” – that anybody who disagrees with you does so not by logic or moral conviction, but because they are shiftless, lazy parasites who want “free stuff” from “traditional Americans.” Wow, you guys managed to follow up a stunning electoral defeat with insulting the very people you wish to attract for a majority in the political system! Brilliant! You are losing elections because being angry and defensive and just-plain-mean is more important than being smart and winning elections – and thus you deserve everything happening to you.

First all all, mean is not an argument; it’s simply an ad hominem insult, and deserves little consideration.  In the spirit of finger pointing, here are few examples of mean from the other side of the aisle.  I’m too lazy to find links, but anyone wishing to do so can easily find examples:  Conservatives are lambasted as Nazis, racists, homophobes and misogynists.  It’s mean to call them those names.  Israel, the only true liberal democracy in the autocratic, totalitarian, antisemitic, anti-Christian, homophobic Middle East, is routinely castigated as a Nazi, apartheid state that deserves to be destroyed.  That’s mean too.  During the Bush presidency, Democrats characterized Bush as a Nazi, as Hitler, as a chimpanzee, as a murder, and as an idiot.  That’s not very nice.  Barack Obama spent his entire 2012 political campaign ginning up class resentment against rich people or, as I like to call them, employers.  That’s not nice.  Obama’s Occupy movement raped women, attacked people, defecated all over the place, brought barrels of human waste into buildings, rioted, destroyed public property, and harassed people in their own homes.  That’s mean too.

I hope that I have established to Eric’s, and everyone else’s, satisfaction, that calling people names is (a) a game that both sides can play and (b) completely pointless in terms of moving the ball from one side of the debate to the other.

Oh, and by the way, it’s really nasty to call your opponents in the argument “A-holes.”

If you want to know exactly where you failed in 2012, and will continue to fail, here it is. Look you assholes, I’m as traditional an American as it gets, and I do not “want free stuff.”  I am a taxpayer, and ALWAYS HAVE BEEN. I got my first job – dragging bags of cow manure, horse feed and fertilizer around a farm store – when I was 12. I started my first company when I was 28. I have followed the vast majority of the rules set out for middle class white males (for good and for ill.) And if it weren’t bad enough that your policy positions are a complete clusterfuck for the reasons I lay out in great detail, you manage to follow up the whole exercise with insulting me, my wife, and my friends of every stripe who didn’t vote for your political party – all of whom are hard-working, taxpaying, job creating, law abiding, great AMERICANS of EVERY COLOR AND CREED.

In my experience, people revert to obscenities and crude insults only when they’re boors or when they have no ideas — or both.  Eric has a few good points (Republicans need to spend less), but mostly, he wallows in myths, canards, and insults.  In that last paragraph quoted, when he drops the pretense of facts and objectivity (all of which are easy to counter), he reveals his true self:  he is not a serious or a decent person.  He is, instead, a bully.

Having escaped my bubble and carefully examined Eric’s arguments, I understand both where he’s coming from and where he is going — and I can’t say I like either his point of origin (an ideological location I once shared) or his ultimate destination.  Eric argues from ignorance and heads to obsolescence.  Let us hope that, in the coming years, his world view does not prevail.