Tuesday, August 31, 2010

More Democrat Recession Figures

Democrat Congress responsible for recession

Jumping in the Pool:

A large National Debt data is also something that Democrats like to blame President Bush for. However, examining our debt as a percent of our GDP shows the truth again. This number sounds complicated, but in fact it is pretty simple. "Our debt as a percent of our GDP" simply means that if our GDP is $100 and our debt is $60, then our "debt as a percent of our GDP" is 60%. From 2001-2007 (when Republicans left office), the percent of our debt grew from 57.4% to 65.6%, or 8.8% (around 1.2% a year). Though the number did rise, you must take into account 9/11, the devastation from Hurricane Katrina, and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Further, from 2005-2007, it slowed to an average of .5% per year, which means it may have began to go down in the near future.

Then Democrats took office. In their first full year in office, the debt as a percent of GDP rose 4.6%, from 65.6% to 70.2%. The next year was even more astounding, as the percent rose 15.9%, to 86.1%. So far this year, the percent is up another 5% to 91.1%....

There is much more including some helpful charts.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Omar Khadr Was Not Tortured

Omar Khadr Was Not Tortured | The Weekly Standard

In a motion to suppress Khadr’s confessions, Khadr’s lawyers claimed Khadr was: “forced into various ‘stress positions’ and left there for many hours on end”; “suffocated until he passed out, revived, and then suffocated again”; “terrorized by barking dogs while his head was covered by a plastic bag tied tightly around his neck, making it hard for him to breathe”; “doused with freezing water and left cold and shivering”; forced to “urinate on himself” during lengthy interrogations; temporarily blinded by a technique called “light pushing”; “beaten by interrogators who shackled his hands and feet together”; “abused until he could not stand”; and “used by military police as a human mop to wipe his own urine and pine oil off the floor of an interrogations chamber.”

This is awful.

There is just one problem: It never happened.

The cause of the deficit

Randall Hoven at American Thinker writes: Iraq: The War That Broke Us -- Not

Hoven looks at the costs of the Iraq War and the tax cuts. Were they what drove the deficit up so high? How much did that war cost?

The correct answer to my question, according to the Congressional Budget Office, is $709 billion. The Iraq War cost $709 billion. Why Carville, Bilmes, and Nobel-winning economist Stiglitz thought the answer was $3 trillion is anybody's guess. But what's a 323% error among friends?

The CBO breaks that cost down over the eight calendar years of 2003-2010. Below is a picture of federal deficits over those years with and without Iraq War spending.

Sources: CBO and U.S. Statistical Abstract (see below).

Just for grins, use the above chart to dissect Christopher Hayes' statement that our current and future deficits are caused by "three things: the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Bush tax cuts and the recession."

Two of those three things -- the wars and tax cuts -- were in effect from 2003 through 2007. Do you see alarming deficits or trends from 2003 through 2007 in the above chart? No. In fact, the trend through 2007 is shrinking deficits. What you see is a significant upward tick in 2008, and then an explosion in 2009. Now, what might have happened between 2007 and 2008, and then 2009?

Democrats taking over both houses of Congress, and then the presidency, was what happened.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Glenn Beck Event

An eyewitness account of the "Restoring Honor" event at the Lincoln Memorial from Paul at PowerLine.

Bookworm on Beck event coverage

Bookworm looks at the morning after media coverage of the Glenn Beck Event at the Lincoln Memorial.

Marriage Backgrounder

A backgrounder on marriage may be found at MercatorNet. Topics include:

  • Why Western culture has privileged marriage
  • Why homosexual relationships disadvantage children
  • Is contemporary marriage “shot to hell” anyway?
  • Who should decide: judges or voters?
  • Is denying homosexuals the right to marry discriminatory?
  • An uncertain future for marriage

About those "occupied territories"

From The American Thinker, Ted Belman writes about which laws Israel is breaking in occupying the West Bank. Or more precisely, not breaking.

Israel is accused of occupying the West Bank and Gaza. In fact, these territories are described as "the occupied Palestinian territories." Not only are they not occupied in a legal sense, but also, they are not "Palestinian" lands in a sovereign sense.

The Forth Geneva Convention (FGC) is a treaty among signatory states that are called High Contracting Parties (HCP). It regulates the obligations of one HCP, who occupies the land of another HCP. It defines the terms "Occupying Power" and "Occupied State." Thus, this convention does not apply to the territories because they were not the land of any HCP. They have never been the land of an HCP. Prior to 1967, Jordan was in occupation of these territories, just as Israel is currently in occupation. Jordanian sovereignty over these lands was never recognized, and ultimately, Jordan relinquished any claims over them. The FGC was never applied when Jordan occupied the land, and it shouldn't be applied now that Israel does.
According to David Matas, an international lawyer of considerable repute.... Matas notes that "the Geneva Conventions on the Laws of War do not recognize the legal possibility of the occupation of a people, only the occupation of the territory of a state." A Protocol to these conventions does recognize such a possibility, but Israel is not a signatory to it and is thus not bound by it.

It must be clearly understood that Israel's occupation is not illegal, and the U.N. has never claimed it to be. In fact, Resolution 242 permits Israel to remain in occupation until they have an agreement on "secure and recognized borders."

The Palestinians have no greater claim to a state than any minority group in any other state that wants a state of its own. The Basques and the Kurds come to mind. No one is demanding that they be given statehood.

The anti-Zionists argue the settlements are illegal and rely solely on the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which provides that the occupying power is prohibited from transferring civilian populations to occupied territories. They say that the prohibition against transfer includes a prohibition against encouragement to settle. The matter has never been put to a court for interpretation or determination. But the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) advises "that this provision was intended to prevent a practice adopted during the Second World War in which certain powers transferred portions of their populations to occupied territories for political and racial reasons or in order, as they claimed to colonize those territories."
The anti-Zionists reject the notion that the proscription is against only forced transfers and argue that the FGC proscribes inducement to move as well. But how can there be a crime of inducement when the person committing the act, the settler, has done nothing wrong? How can you be guilty of a crime by inducing someone to do something which is not a crime? Furthermore, this inducement would be a war crime on an equal footing with genocide. The equation is ludicrous. And if the settlers settle of their own volition and not due to inducements, what then? Also, it is impossible to prosecute an occupying power. So what individuals would be held responsible?
Matas opines, "The interpretation defies the ordinary understanding of criminal responsibility where the person committing the act is the primary wrongdoer and the person inducing the act is only an accessory."

Matas concludes, "There is all the difference in the world between forcible transfer, the offence of the Geneva Convention, and voluntary settlement, even where the settlement is encouraged" (by are merely providing inducements). [...] "Transfer is something that is done to people. Settlement is something people do."

Friday, August 27, 2010

The "Screw the Court" Constitutional Amendment

Dafydd at Big Lizards offers:

The "Screw the Court" Constitutional Amendment

I would love to see the following offered on January 3rd, 2011, in the 112th Congress of the United States, as an amendment to the U.S. Constitution:

Section 1. State definition of 'marriage':

The power to declare the legal definition of marriage within any State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe is reserved to such State, territory, possession, or tribe.

Section 2. Federal definition of 'marriage' and 'spouse':

In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word 'marriage' means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word 'spouse' refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.

Section 3. Powers reserved to the states:

No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex, or more than two persons, that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Love and Marriage

A piece by philosophy professor (associate) Stephen J. Heaney at Mercator.net:

Religions may bless marriage, but they did not invent it. Because it involves such profoundly important human realities, it is no surprise that sex and marriage have religious significance. But sex and marriage have existed as long as there have been human communities.

If we accept the misdefinition of marriage using non-essential characteristics as the complete story, it would be impossible to reject same-sex marriage. Given the whole truth, however, it is impossible to accept it. No matter how superficially similar they are to real marriages, same-sex relationships cannot function as marriages.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Historical basis of marriage

B. Daniel Blatt at Gay Patriot finds something in his dissertation research that has some bearing on the news:

I read this in Carl Kerényi’s The Heroes of the Greeks:
We are told that [Kekrops] discovered, as it were, the double descent of human beings, that they come not only from a mother but also from a father. He founded the institution of marriage between one man and one woman, which was to be under the protection of the goddess Athene.
Legend held Kekrops to be the first king of Attica (Athens).

Further evidence that marriage is an institution based on sex difference. This is not to say that it always must remain so, but a reminder that sex difference, to borrow an expression, is at the “historical core” of the ancient (and honorable) institution.

If we seek to expand its definition so that it encompasses same-sex relationships, let’s not tinker with the cultural record by pretending that it has always been a mere union of loving individuals. State recognition of same-sex marriage represents a real social change. And that change should not be treated lightly nor dismissed casually as some judges have been wont to do.

I find it interesting that Marriage is under Athene, not Aphrodite or Hera.

Why the opposition to Islam?

Jay Tea at Wizbang looks at the reasons for opposition to Islam on the part of many Americans.

There is something visceral, something deeply passionate, about the opponents' sentiments that surprises a lot of people. In others, it is entirely understandable. But in either case, it's hard to put into words.
Here's my theory, that most people find hard to verbalize.

America was founded on Judeo-Christian principles and tenets. ("Ju-DAY-o! Ju-DAY-AY-AY-o! Judeo-Christian, what de hell is dat?") Sorry, folks... What that means is that when we think of "religion," we tend to think of it in terms of Christianity or Judaism, and see it through that prism.

Christianity is pretty much separated from politics, at least in the way most of the world thinks. We don't have a "Christian" party or official state church, and only the mercifully-few tiny fringe wants to have the government enforce Christian tenets and rules. We have taken to heart the "separation of church and state" to heart in an intrinsic sense when it comes to Christianity. There are Christians in government -- hell, they dominate -- but they are hardly unified and stand solidly on both sides of most issues.

To most Americans, there is a firm wall between faith and politics. The two influence the other, but it is almost strictly an internal struggle. Those who talk about the religious right as an "American Taliban" only go to show just how utterly full of shit they are.

Judaism is a bit closer to extending their faith beyond the purely theological. "Jewish" has multiple meanings. It's a faith, it's a culture, it's a race, it's a floor wax, it's a dessert topping. (OK, maybe not the last two.) There are Jewish atheists and Jewish Christians. (That last group -- "Jews for Jesus" -- tends to piss off Jewish Jews. I know of two in particular.) Israel is a Jewish nation, but accepts all three definitions of "Jew."

And then there's Islam. It's a faith, like Judaism and Christianity, but it's a lot more besides. In its truest form, it's a "one-stop shopping" that covers religion, social structure, economics, politics, foreign relations, law -- everything that we all take for granted as being apart from "religion."

It's those other, "non-religious" aspects that are part and parcel of "Islam" that cause the objections. That generate such fierce pushback, such staunch resistance.

That is what we speak of when we talk about the "fundamental incompatibility" between Islam and the West. The religious aspects of Islam -- no problem. We got plenty of weirdos already who believe plenty of crazy things. We got Mormons, we got Scientologists, we got Pastafarians, we got god-hating Atheists, we got tree-worshipping Gaeans, we got Wiccans. We can handle Muslims.

It's all the other baggage that comes with Islam that causes the problems. All the other baggage that tries to worm its way in under the "religion" exception.

To us, that's a form of "bait and switch." We're saying, "hey, practice your religion, but all that other crap you're trying to foist off on us -- that's not religion. We already have our own politics, legal system, social structure, economics, and whatnot."
So, back to James' question. What do I think about this trend for locals to resist the establishment of mosques in their neighborhoods?

Two things. First, in most cases, these are local issues, and will most likely be settled locally.

Second, for nigh on a decade we've heard the incessant whining about the "anti-Muslim backlash" that is just around the corner, as hate-filled, intolerant Americans rise up and do unspeakable things against individual Muslims as revenge for the actions of others who proclaim to share the same faith. If "we're going to make trouble for you in zoning hearings" is the worst, then my faith in the fundamental fairness and decency of the American people is, indeed, well founded.

How Good is Judge Walker's Evidence?

From MercatorNet,

And there's a lot of activity in the comments.

Memory Holes Need to be Deeper

Big Peace features a piece by Sun Tzu on the hidden pages (now either hidden better, or removed entirely) about the "Sharia Index Project". Because of the labile nature of web pages, Big Peace has PDF files of the pages. Now, anyone can put together a spoof page and save a PDF of it. I have free software on my laptop that'll let me do that very thing.

Nevertheless, the post, Something to Hide? Cordoba’s Hidden Website Disappears After Big Peace Exposé

George Will on Israel

George Will writes in the Washington Post: Skip the lecture on Israel's 'risks for peace'

In the intifada that began in 2000, Palestinian terrorism killed more than 1,000 Israelis. As a portion of U.S. population, that would be 42,000, approaching the toll of America's eight years in Vietnam. During the onslaught, which began 10 Septembers ago, Israeli parents sending two children to a school would put them on separate buses to decrease the chance that neither would return for dinner. Surely most Americans can imagine, even if their tone-deaf leaders cannot, how grating it is when those leaders lecture Israel on the need to take "risks for peace."
The creation of Israel did not involve the destruction of a Palestinian state, there having been no such state since the Romans arrived. And if the Jewish percentage of the world's population were today what it was when the Romans ruled Palestine, there would be 200 million Jews. After a uniquely hazardous passage through two millennia without a homeland, there are 13 million Jews.

In the 62 years since this homeland was founded on one-sixth of 1 percent of the land of what is carelessly and inaccurately called "the Arab world," Israelis have never known an hour of real peace. Patronizing American lectures on the reality of risks and the desirableness of peace, which once were merely fatuous, are now obscene.

Obama ‘With His Poll Numbers Dropping’

One item taken as a sign of media bias is the apparent double standard according to which side gets tagged with which labels. One discrepancy is the use of labels like "conservative" and "liberal". The Heritage Foundation is labeled "conservative" for user reference, but the Brookings Institution passes without a label.

Ron Futrell looks at when the media felt the need to tag a president with "his poll numbers dropping" and when it didn't. Media Furiously Spinning for Obama ‘With His Poll Numbers Dropping’ - Big Journalism.

Certainly, there has not been equal treatment by the media when comparing the poll numbers of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Obama’s numbers are plunging faster than the economy itself, faster than W’s and faster than anybody could’ve ever imagined at this point. The activist old media is building up Obama, while his public numbers are takin’ a terrific tumble. It’s blatant. We all see it, we all know it.

It’s also subtle.

The line in the title of this column was used often in stories about George W. Bush. “With his poll numbers dropping….” You could add just about anything you want after that, and usually the media did:
  • “With his poll numbers dropping President Bush addressed the media today.”
  • “With his poll numbers dropping President Bush welcomed the Prime Minister of Great Britain today.”
  • “With his poll numbers dropping President Bush participated in the annual Easter Egg Roll at the White House today.”
I remember that line well because I removed it many times from scripts when it was not relevant. I left it in when it was. Just because the AP put something in a script didn’t mean that I had to read it.

I’m still waiting to hear that line used relative to the Cold Hearted Social Engineer in the White House.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

About the Ground Zero Mosque

Big Journalism fact-checks the AP's fact-checking.

AP’s Deputy Managing Editor for Standards and Production, Tom Kent, sent this “guidance” out to his colleagues, with inputs from Chad Roedemeier in the New York bureau and Terry Hunt in Washington: “We should continue to avoid the phrase ‘Ground Zero mosque’ or ‘mosque at Ground Zero’ on all platforms. (We’ve very rarely used this wording, except in slugs, though we sometimes see other news sources using the term.) The site of the proposed Islamic center and mosque is not at Ground Zero, but two blocks away in a busy commercial area. We should continue to say it’s “near” Ground Zero, or two blocks away.”

Interestingly, among those who formerly used the now-proscribed descriptor “Ground Zero mosque” is none other than Feisal Abdul Rauf, its imam and chief promoter. He called it that even though the proposed venue has always been two blocks away from the World Trade Center site.
It behooves us, therefore, to do a fact check on AP’s “fact check”:
AP: “A New York imam and his proposed mosque near ground zero are being demonized by political candidates — mostly Republicans — despite the fact that Islam is already very much a part of the World Trade Center neighborhood. And that Muslims pray inside the Pentagon, too, less than 80 feet from where terrorists attacked.”
THE FACTS: “Demonized” is a loaded term that denigrates the criticism Republicans and a growing number of Democrats – including Sen. Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader – have properly made of the site of the Ground Zero Mosque and, in some cases, of its Imam. The issue is not whether Muslims pray in proximity to Ground Zero – or the Pentagon’s equally hallowed ground. Rather, it is whether they and the facility in which they pray are dedicated to the promotion of the seditious, anti-constitutional program of Shariah. If so, it is a problem. If not, not.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Meese on Prop. 8 ruling

Short version: He doesn't like it.

Edwin Meese III - Prop. 8 ruling ignores precedent, evidence and common sense

By refusing to acknowledge binding Supreme Court precedent, substantial evidence produced at trial that was contrary to the holding and plain common sense, the ruling exhibits none of the requirements of a traditional decision. This opinion is arbitrary and capricious, and its alarming legal methodology and overtly policy-driven tenor are too extreme to stand.

Regardless of whether one agrees with the result, structurally sound opinions always confront binding legal precedent. Walker's is a clear exception because the U.S. Supreme Court has spoken on whether a state's refusal to authorize same-sex marriage violates the equal protection and due process clauses of the 14th Amendment. In 1972, Baker v. Nelson, a case over whether Minnesota violated the Constitution by issuing marriage licenses only to opposite-sex couples, was unanimously thrown out on the merits, for lack of a substantial federal question. The Supreme Court's action establishes a binding precedent in favor of Proposition 8. But Judge Walker's ruling doesn't mention Baker, much less attempt to distinguish it or accept its findings.

During a trial, litigants from both sides introduce various types of evidence, including witness testimony, documentary evidence and legal opinions that involve "judicial notice" of certain well-known or legally controlling facts. Sound judicial opinions consider the facts and evidence on both sides of an argument, apply them fairly to the dispute at hand and determine which legal cases are on point.

Yet Walker's opinion pretends that the voluminous evidence introduced on the side of Proposition 8 does not exist. It neither acknowledges nor attempts to distinguish the writings of renowned scholars presented at trial in support of Proposition 8, including that of anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss, history professor Robina Quale and social scientist Kingsley Davis. It ignores the writings of legal giant William Blackstone and philosophers John Locke and Bertrand Russell. It even refused to address the fact that Congress, in the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, defined marriage as the "legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife."

Despite ample evidence introduced into the record that only a union of a man and woman can produce offspring (as if that needs proof), Walker's opinion denied the relevance of that biological fact. That difference has been the main reason civilization recognized the uniqueness of marriage as between a man and woman, and why courts have repeatedly relied on that common-sense truth.

Despite voluminous evidence and common sense pointing to the contrary, the judge also declared that opposite sexes were never part of the "historical core of the institution of marriage"; "evidence shows conclusively that moral and religious views form the only basis for a belief that same-sex couples are different than opposite-sex couples"; traditional marriage is an "artifact"; and, also without reference to the monumental evidence to the contrary, that it is beyond "any doubt that parents' genders are irrelevant to children's developmental outcomes."

These assertions appear in the opinion's "findings of fact" section, yet they are not facts. These "findings" derive from arbitrary and capricious non-analysis and are forcefully contradicted by evidence in the court record. No appellate court should allow the ruling to stand.

Having ignored everything courts typically rely on in making sound judgments, Walker concluded that Proposition 8 was enacted "without reason" and demonstrates "a private moral view that same-sex couples are inferior to opposite-sex couples [and are] . . . not as good as opposite-sex couples." Nothing in Proposition 8 supports such conclusions, particularly since California law grants same-sex couples all the benefits and protections that apply in traditional marriage.

People can differ on whether, as a matter of policy, states should allow same-sex marriage. The robust debate on that topic should not be short-circuited by judicial fiat.

Yet, according to the federal district court, Americans such as President Obama, Vice President Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the majority of members of Congress and the 7 million Californians who voted for Proposition 8 are all bigots who have "no rational reason" to oppose gay marriage.

Even the usually liberal U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has reservations about immediately implementing Walker's exercise in judicial social engineering. A three-judge panel of the court issued a stay late Monday to prevent California's law from being cast aside before a panel can fully review the matter. It was right to do so. The rule of law demands more careful consideration of this important issue than Walker's decision delivered.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Judge Walker and CDD

Gay Patriot deems Judge Walker clueless about the history of marriage.

While Judge Walker is right about one thing in his discussion of marriage, but dead-wrong about another:
Race and gender restrictions shaped marriage during eras of race and gender inequality, but such restrictions were never part of the historical core of the institution of marriage. . . . Gender no longer forms an essential part of marriage; marriage under law is a union of equals.
“Miscegenation” laws prohibiting marriages between individuals of different races were a statutory invention. The historical (as well as literary, see, e.g., Othello) record is full of such marriages.

Sex difference, however, has always been at the core of the definition of marriage – long before governments recognized such unions. If you don’t believe me, I suggest you study the marriage rituals of any culture; you’ll find that each treats the bride and groom differently.

Or, look at the cultures which have recognized same-sex unions. They either called them something other than marriage or required that one spouse live in the guise of the opposite sex — at a time when sexual roles were far more stratified that they are today. In Native American cultures (called either berdache or Two-Spirit), that meant that in male-male unions partner not only had to dress like a woman, but perform or social roles as well.

The Native American culture is frequently cited as an example of a culture recognizing same-sex marriage. What this is evidence of is a culture that based sex differentiation on something other than genitalia.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Questions about Same-Sex Marriage

Dafydd at Big Lizards offers some responses to questions asked by supporters of SSM: Big Lizards: “The Distinction Goes Sub Silentio”

The Question is, of course, "If you applaud the courts overturning anti-miscegenation laws in Loving v. Virginia, how can you decry the courts overturning anti-gay-marriage laws in Perry v. Schwarzenegger? Doesn't everyone has the right to marry the person he or she loves?"

(Answer: No, no more than everyone has the right to be the most popular person on campus.)
Paul [Mirengoff at PowerLine blog] answers the question as would a lawyer, oddly enough:
Loving v. Virginia did not implicate the definition of marriage. The largely regional ban on inter-racial marriages was not founded on the belief that such unions cannot be marriages under the nearly universal understanding of what a marriage is (i.e., between a man and a woman). Rather, the ban was based on the notion that, although it is possible for blacks to be married to whites under that understanding -- just as it is possible for blacks to sit on the front of a bus -- such marriages represented an undesirable mixing of the races.

The decision in Loving no more changed the definition of marriage than allowing James Meredith (a black) to attend the University of Mississippi changed the definition of "student," or requiring the lunch counter at Woolworth's to serve blacks changed the definition of "customer." But recognizing a marriage between two men (say) changes the definition of "wife" (say). [And changing the definition changes the concept itself. --DaH]....
...nobody in his right mind can argue that there is no intrinsic or essential distinction between men and women. Any parent knows that boys are worlds apart from girls; any human being knows (excepting only hermits who have never met anyone of the opposite sex) that women and men think differently, react differently, argue differently, take revenge in different ways, hate differently, and yes, love differently.

Marriage has always been, by definition, the union of opposites -- man plus woman (or some number of women); the synthesis is more than the sum of its parts. Thus, same-sex marriage is logically inconceivable... like a monochrome checkerboard, a coin with only one side, or a debate between proponent and proponent: By its very nature, marriage requires at least one member of each sex, or else it isn't a marriage... it's just a partnership or merger.

Get it?

I see nothing wrong with sexual, emotional, and financial partnerships of all sorts; enjoy! But such unions that involve only one sex are not marriages -- and redefining the word "marriage" won't change that fact.

If you call a cow's tail a leg, how many legs does she have? Four, of course, because calling a tail a leg doesn't make it one.

In another post, Dafydd writes:

I do not support a putative "right" to legally marry anybody one "loves", without exception or qualification. Marriage comes with a host of restrictions that bind everyone:
  1. You cannot marry a person without his or her consent.
  2. You cannot marry your sibling, your parent, or your close cousin.
  3. You cannot marry a child.
  4. You cannot marry multiple people at once (group marriage).
  5. You cannot marry someone who currently is already married (bigamy).
  6. And... you cannot marry a person of the same gender as you.
That last restriction applies equally to heterosexuals; consider two old biddies, best girlfriends, both widowed, and both completely straight, but who want to marry for the financial benefits. Sorry, ladies, you cannot. We forbid you to abuse the legal status of being married.
...marriage is not a private affair; it's a public, communal celebration and societal endorsement of a relationship; it says, "This is a special relationship that we, in this state, believe is better than other types of relationships. Thus, to encourage this type of relationship, we will reward it above and beyond other relationships." Given that description, state citizens have the right to decide what particular types of relationships we will so celebrate and endorse.

We can decide how close a relationship must be in order to put that person off limits. We can decide how old a person must be to get married. If we so choose, we can decide to allow polyamorous marriage. And if we so choose, we can decide to allow SSM; but by the same token, if we choose -- which we have done -- we can likewise decide to disallow it. And until and unless we have the same legal infrastructure anent marital rights for gays as we had the 1940s-1960s anent civil rights for blacks, no damned court has the power to overturn the people's law and make its own law.

If it did have that power, then America would no longer be a constitutional republic... we would instead be a kritarchy, ruled by unelected, robèd lords with lifetime tenure.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Obama the Homophobe

From the San Francisco Chronicle: Prop. 8 judge makes strange charge

A federal judge in San Francisco ruled Wednesday that President Obama is a bigot. And not just the president. Joe Biden as well, and Hillary Rodham Clinton and Sandra Day O'Connor. And maybe you, too.
This was a strange ruling. The U.S. Supreme Court decided in 1971 that an identical challenge to the traditional definition of marriage was meritless. Nor has the Supreme Court ever suggested that its 1971 decision was wrong. Wednesday's ruling relied primarily on a constitutional doctrine that forbids laws having no conceivable rational purpose or no purpose except to oppress a politically unpopular minority group. After a lengthy trial, the judge found that the people of California must have adopted the traditional definition of marriage because of moral or religious contempt for homosexuals and their relationships.
Until very recently, same-sex marriage was unknown in human history, and it is opposed today by many progressive leaders, like Obama and Clinton. Can this be explained only by irrational prejudice or religious zeal? No. Only unions between men and women are capable of producing offspring, and every civilization has recognized that responsible procreation is critical to its survival. After the desire for self-preservation, sexual passion is probably the most powerful drive in human nature. Heterosexual intercourse naturally produces children, sometimes unintentionally and only after nine months.

Without marriage, men often would be uncertain about paternity or indifferent to it. If left unchecked, many men would have little incentive to invest in the rearing of their offspring, and the ensuing irresponsibility would have made the development of civilization impossible.

The fundamental purpose of marriage is to encourage biological parents, especially fathers, to take responsibility for their children. Because this institution responds to a phenomenon uniquely created by heterosexual intercourse, the meaning of marriage has always been inseparable from the problem it addresses.

Homosexual relationships (and lots of others as well), have nothing to do with the purpose of marriage, which is why marriage does not extend to them. Constitutional doctrine requires only one conceivable rational reason for a law, and the traditional definition of marriage easily meets that test.
Recently, a few states have begun to experiment with same-sex marriage. Maybe this will work out well, and the more cautious states eventually will catch up. But some experiments fail. Our democracy allows different states to change their marriage laws and to abandon experiments that don't succeed. But if this judge's ruling is upheld on appeal, that will be that, and every state will be forced to conform, for good or ill.
Here is a roundup of commentary The Chronicle has published.

David Boies: One of those most invidious of the state-sponsored discriminations against gays and lesbians is the prohibition of same-sex marriage. http://sfg.ly/d67zD4

Maggie Gallagher: Same-sex marriage is a government takeover of an institution the government did not make, cannot in justice redefine and ought to protect. http://sfg.ly/aOsQW2

Debra J. Saunders: Although Prop. 8 opponents style themselves as champions of tolerance, they've chosen judicial fiat over the surer route of persuasion. http://sfg.ly/aswF8N

Jeremy Adam Smith: This this new civil rights struggle has something to teach us all about the value of commitment and family. http://sfg.ly/c1Xlxa

Brian S. Brown: The basic civil rights of millions of Americans to govern themselves taken away by judge. http://sfg.ly/9l4OV7

Hank Plante:The governor who vetoed same-sex marriage legislation twice now announces he is in support. http://sfg.ly/bOBz66

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Why is the state involved in marriage at all?

From Ed Morrissey at Hot Air, a question I've been asking for over a year now: Why is the state involved in marriage at all?

Really, if we didn't have marriage in this society, why would we have to invent it? Wouldn't some contractual arrangement work as well? Maybe a "Chapter M" corporation? Do we really need a specialized arrangement for sharing goodies between two people?

...Townhall’s David Harsanyi offers the argument that government involvement may do more harm than good to the institution, and results from a historical mistake in the first place. Time to get on with the divorce, Harsanyi insists:
In the 1500s, a pestering theologian instituted something called the Marriage Ordinance in Geneva, which made “state registration and church consecration” a dual requirement of matrimony.

We have yet to get over this mistake. But isn’t it about time we freed marriage from the state?

Imagine if government had no interest in the definition of marriage. Individuals could commit to each other, head to the local priest or rabbi or shaman — or no one at all — and enter into contractual agreements, call their blissful union whatever they felt it should be called and go about the business of their lives.
I don’t think that this is an easy path to adopt, it’s going to be the eventual solution. Not only does it take government out of people’s private lives, it also means an end to a divisive and essentially meaningless debate — and it protects houses of faith and ends a potential government interference in matters of religion.
We would do much better to require people to create partnership contracts in the civil context than get marriage licenses for issues like property sharing, access to family, and so on. If people want to live together and share their lives to that extent, it’s healthier and much less confusing later to have those issues expressly spelled out in an agreement up front, just like any prenuptial agreement today. If two people don’t want to go that far in formalizing their relationship, then they shouldn’t be considered married anyway — and shouldn’t get access to “palimony” and have debates over oral contracts, and so on. If you don’t get it in writing, it doesn’t exist, in the context of personal partnerships.

Then, if people want to get “married,” they can go to the institutions that actually care about marriage: churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, and so on. Marriage can be a private, faith-based recognition of a sacramental relationship that exists outside of the civil context entirely, and houses of faith can set their own requirements as to what it means and who can participate — just as they do now. Not only does that protect the sanctity of actual marriage much more than a government, but it also means that government has no way to poke the camel’s nose of intervention into the religious tent, as it were, to force houses of faith to conduct marriages that violate their tenets in the name of fairness. Divorcing marriage from the state and dissolving the partnership between government and religion benefits the latter more than the former.

Let government define and enforce contract law, not marriage. If we don’t follow that path, people will shortly become very unhappy about the eventual government definition.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Comments on a pro SSM clip

This can be found on YouTube:

Some comments:

So when a religion declines to change its practices, it won't be denigrated and compared with a White Supremacist group that refuses to perform interracial marriages.

Hmmm... Ocean Grove Camp had its tax exemption on its pavilion because it claimed the pavilion was "open to the public". But does "open to the public" mean "open for any use any member of the public cares to make of it"? What if someone wanted to have a Spam cook-off in a parked belonging to a nearby mosque? Do the owners have any grounds to object?

‎"The case was based on discrimination laws, not gay marriage." Oh, you mean like equal protection and 14th Amendment law, cited in the Walker decision?

"Catholic Charites of Boston ... could have refused to take Federal funds, but they opted just to shut down their adoption services" I'm sure they were swimming in money, and could have easily kept the service going without Federal funds. Oh, well. I'm sure someone else will take up the slack.

Now, what we may need to address is, why have civil marriage in the first place? Why not abolish it and let the churches have it? Indeed, if marriage is a religious institution, and we're supposed to be keeping Church and State separate, maybe it's time we quit having the government endorse a religious institution.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Prop 8 overturned

Prop 8 has been overturned for now. It will be appealed to the 9th Circuit. It may make it to the Supreme Court.

I'm thinking, if the Proposition stays overturned, maybe the next initiative should be one stating that marriage is a purely religious institution, and the State of California does not support a civil version, on First Amendment establishment grounds.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Pew Rates the Press

A poll from Pew Research Center shows some interesting numbers. Press Accuracy Rating Hits Two Decade Low: Overview

Just 29% of Americans say that news organizations generally get the facts straight, while 63% say that news stories are often inaccurate. In the initial survey in this series about the news media’s performance in 1985, 55% said news stories were accurate while 34% said they were inaccurate. That percentage had fallen sharply by the late 1990s and has remained low over the last decade.
Press Criticism Now More Bipartisan
Stories often inaccurateJul 07 %Jul 09 %Change
R-D Gap+20+10
Tend to favor one side
R-D Gap+27+17
Too critical of America
R-D Gap+10+27

Partisan Views of Leading News Outlets
TotalRepDemIndR-D Gap
DK / Can't rate21221823
Fox News%%%%
DK / Can't rate20152121
DK / Can't rate33313233
Network TV%%%%
DK / Can't rate21221823
NY Times%%%%
DK / Can't rate21221823
DK / Can't rate44484340
Wall St. Journal%%%%
DK / Can't rate55295656

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Why the honest discussion won't happen

Eugene Volokh looks at why... “A Discussion [About Race] … Around … Water Coolers” just isn't going to happen.

I certainly agree that it would be good for people to discuss racial issues in a truthful, mature, and responsible way. But I’m pretty sure that discussing such issues around “water coolers” is pretty dangerous advice, at least if one really wants a discussion in which people aren’t afraid to air their views.

1. To begin with, any arguments that some might see as racist could lead to complaints and even lawsuits about a supposedly “racially hostile work environment”; and while such lawsuits are hard for plaintiffs to win, no employer wants to have to fight them, and no employee should want to have his speech be the subject of such suits.
2. Moreover, statements that could be seen as involving race-based generalizations could be later introduced as evidence of racial animus in a discriminatory discharge/demotion/failure to hire/failure to promote case, if the speaker has a role in the hiring process. Recall the Alan-Betty exchange: When Alan is later discharged, and sues for race discrimination, he argues that Betty had some role in the discharge decision, and that Betty’s statement is evidence that she likely discriminated against him based on race.

Again, it’s not clear that such a statement would lead to a victory in court; the jury might not find it probative enough, and in any case it might in some situations be seen as insufficient evidence under the “stray remarks” doctrine. But the risk is sufficient, I think, that many an employer will immediately discipline Betty for her statement, and that at the very least people like Betty would be reluctant to express their true views, either at work or elsewhere.
3. Finally, this isn’t just a matter of liability: Allegedly racist comments can yield bad publicity for the employer, can waste a huge amount of employer time and energy on internal investigation and discussion, and can cause morale problems that interfere with productivity. Even without the risk of litigation, many people have long been cautious about talking about matters that their listeners might feel strongly about a deep and personal level — race, religion, politics, sexuality, and more. Nonetheless, it seems to me that the risk of vast liability has been an important factor in dramatically increasing the cost of expressing one’s candid views about race (especially at work), and in deterring people from expressing those views.

4. What strikes me as most interesting about this phenomenon — other than the practical unsoundness of President Obama’s suggestion — is that the very fight against discrimination and prejudice that the President is trying to promote in his statement has made it much harder to have candid discussions about race. We see the same happening in some measure as to candid discussions about sexual orientation. (The early phases of the gay rights movement also made it socially easier to have such candid discussions, but as sexual orientation discrimination law is beginning to follow the path of racial discrimination law, such discussions are becoming more professionally and legally perilous.) That might be an inevitable and acceptable consequence of that fight. But I don’t think that we can ignore it, and suggest that more discussion — at least around the water cooler — is going to help solve the problem.

Without fathers

Dafydd at Big Lizards looks at marriage and fathers in his post: “A Quick Chip to Patterico...”

In a post today, my old blog-boss Patterico argued the inarguable and obvious point that children raised without fathers were more likely to suffer a number of significant drawbacks in life than children raised in an intact home with a mother and father.
Patterico is spot on; I couldn't have said it better. And I'll give you another generalization that is equally true: Children raised without fathers tend to have a difficult time being fathers -- and a difficult time being firm without being cruel, being assertive without being aggressive, and balancing immediate desire with long-term planning.

And children raised without mothers tend to have a hard time empathizing with others, dealing with women, sharing and caring, and showing real love and affection. So it's a terrible shame when government policy encourages marriages that shun either fathers or mothers.

But he doesn't agree with Patterico in every particular:

Alas, Patterico seems not to have thought this last point through to its logical conclusion... for there is another issue besides crime and welfare that is driven by the Left's desire to sever the sacred bond between male and female in American and Western society; and last time we talked about it, he was all for the radical and progressive transformation being shoved down our throats.