Thursday, April 23, 2009

OutFront Minnesota's day at the Capitol

I had some interesting encounters at the legislature today. I was there lobbying on a wide variety issues which happened to be the same day OutFront Minnesota has their annual lobbying day.

I had some respectful, but passionate encounters with individuals who recognized me and came over to talk. (Someone even wanted their picture taken with me.) Which I'm fine with and all for. The public rhetoric by some homosexual activists is name calling and platitudinal statements not rational discourse.

A couple of grandparents came up to me and said how great their grandkids were doing with their two moms, one of whom is their daughter. I asked them if kids don't need a mom and dad. He said, no two parents of whatever sex is what's important. I said that's interesting. All one has to do is visit the state prison to find that 85% of the prisoners didn't have a father in their lives suggests other wise. Having a mom and a dad is essential for the existence of the child so to with their upbringing.

He also said that homosexuals are born that way. I said where is the evidence for that statement. After three or four repeated requests he couldn't cite the studies but he'd send it to me. (My view is there isn't a gay gene but that individuals may have a predisposition towards homosexuality which poor family or lack of an adequate relationship with a particular parent may trigger.) I noted that even if there's a biological basis, an individual always has a choice as to the behavior they engage in.

I also was engaged by a liberal baptist pastor and the parents with a homosexual son. The pastor of course couldn't find any example in the Bible for the endorsement of homosexual marriage though he did throw out the usual example of David and Jonathan and their relationship. I pointed out there's a difference between same sex love which is fine and a good thing and same sex sex which is not a good thing in addition to being unhealthy. People often confuse the two. So too with David and Jonathan's example.

The pastor also said it was wrong for me to attempt to impose my religious views on other people through the laws. It violated the separation of church and state. I responded that I thought it was hypocritical for him to say it was wrong for me to promote views consonant with my views in the legislature but not for him to promote his religious based views. I think he had one of those "ah ha" moments.

The mom told me it was hurtful when I opposed equality for her son regarding marriage. I said I find it hurtful to me when she attempts to redefine such an important institution in society which will harm so many people. (I think the appeal to personal hurtful is generally an emotional, manipulative technique.) I also said that the issue wasn't marriage equality, because nothing was preventing her son from getting married now. The difference was they were seeking to redefine the whole institution of marriage to something much different not just seek access to it. The father, though he didn't agree, said I made a fair argument.

I frankly enjoy interactions of people I disagree with when they seek to engage in a rational discussion of the issue. The more this can occur the better for all concerned.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Are you pro-life, veteran, gun owner, anti-tax, pro-marriage? If so, you are fertile ground for becoming a right wing extremist and even terrorist.

As most people are aware, the Homeland Security Department released a paper saying that right wing extremism is a growing terrorist threat in this country. The bad economy coupled with such sentiments as anti-tax, second amendment rights, frustrated veterans, pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, and anti-government concerns raise the specter of persons associated with these causes becoming involved in right wing terrorism.

The report was roundly criticized by conservatives and the chair of House Homeland Security Committee, democrat Rep Bennie Thompson who said he was "dumbfounded" that the report was issued. "This report appears to raise significant issues involving the privacy and civil liberties of many Americans - including war veterans."

The connection is clear; if you hold traditionally conservative views on many issues, you are fertile ground to be exploited for right wing terrorism activity. At a time of growing frustration and concern among conservatives about the expansion of government by President Obama and Congressional leaders, the report only adds fuel to the fire.

Certainly, extremists can come from either the left or the right. But the report suggests links between individuals who hold traditional conservative views on a wide range of issues and possible terrorist threats. This is not only foolish and unnecessarily provocative. Especially so coming from a government agency responsible for addressing terrorist. And of course liberal Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano only made matters worse by defending the report.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Endorse homosexuality or lose your religious liberties.

I've always thought the biggest threat to religious liberties in the United States is the aggressive homosexual movement. They intend force people to accept or endorse homosexual behavior or else lose their businesses, churches, and/or free speech.

A recent Washington Post article gives a number of examples of homosexuality trumping religious freedom.
Faith organizations and individuals who view homosexuality as sinful and refuse to provide services to gay people are losing a growing number of legal battles that they say are costing them their religious freedom.

The lawsuits have resulted from states and communities that have banned discrimination based on sexual orientation. Those laws have created a clash between the right to be free from discrimination and the right to freedom of religion, religious groups said, with faith losing. They point to what they say are ominous recent examples:

-- A Christian photographer was forced by the New Mexico Civil Rights Commission to pay $6,637 in attorney's costs after she refused to photograph a gay couple's commitment ceremony.

-- A psychologist in Georgia was fired after she declined for religious reasons to counsel a lesbian about her relationship.

-- Christian fertility doctors in California who refused to artificially inseminate a lesbian patient were barred by the state Supreme Court from invoking their religious beliefs in refusing treatment.

-- A Christian student group was not recognized at a University of California law school because it denies membership to anyone practicing sex outside of traditional marriage.

"It really is all about religious liberty for us," said Scott Hoffman, chief administrative officer of a New Jersey Methodist group, the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association, which lost a property tax exemption after it declined to allow its beachside pavilion to be used for a same-sex union ceremony. "The protection to not be forced to do something that is against deeply held religious principles."

And let's be clear; this is about behavior not the individual. When persons identify themselves as gays and lesbians they are by definition identifying themselves by what they do -- same sex sexual behavior. It's not an immutable trait one can observe. It's a behavior which is demonstrably unhealthy.

Certainly, people who identify with homosexuality should have the same first amendment and legal protections under the law. But not special protections based on their behavior. And that's what they are now demanding of society and individuals.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The best child care? A stay at home mom not a state regulated child care center.

In the Minnesota legislature, the latest initiative or fad having folks on the left falling all over themselves promoting is early childhood education. Currently, in the state legislature there's a major push to expand state regulation to private day care centers and preschool programs. They want to institute state rating system, PC curriculum, etc., etc.

All of this begs the question is early childhood, out of home child care, the best thing for children? I believe the answer is clearly no. While some parents are no doubt forced through circumstances to use day care programs, for many it's a desire or want not a need. Now the state is entering the arena with the goal of incentivizing and encouraging more out of home care. (When was the last time there was a state initiative to encourage parents to provide their own at home child care?)

Of course, the early childhood industry trots out their studies saying how beneficial it and the growing need for ever more expensive child care programs. I recollect the last numbers were $11,000 or $13,000 per year, per child. The question wasn't whether this was good or cost effective but rather where can we get the money.

However, the massive studies I've seen, from Canada, Stanford, Berkley, Georgia, etc. on preschool and day care programs are quite clear that such programs are a detriment to a young child's emotional and social development. And any academic improvements generally disappear by the fourth grade. Yet we march along, driven by ideology, not reality.

I came across this refreshingly, candid WSJ interview with radio talk show host Laura Schlessinger who makes the case for stay at home moms as the way to go for young children. Laura is part of the social counter-revolution aimed at doing what's really best for children not
what adults want and then say it's best for children.

The Wall Street Journal: When did you get the idea to write about this topic?

Dr. Schlessinger: Probably about 25 years ago. I'm very open about this issue because I've been on both sides of this choice. For a long time, I was a career woman and that was it. I didn't want to have a baby. But I kept feeling as if something was not there. Then one day, I was watching PBS Nova, and a one-hour program they showed on the creation of a life. I just broke down. At that time, I was 35 and had already had my tubes tied. But in that moment, I realized what was missing: this womanly part of me. So I got married, struggled a bit to get pregnant and finally made it happen after a surgery. The feeling of your baby taking nourishment from your body for the first time is amazing, and it remains the most touching moment of my life. So that was the genesis of the book -- my transition into motherhood.

WSJ: You're very insistent that mothers should stay at home as full-time moms for the sake of the child. But given our current economic crisis, is that feasible for couples who may require two salaries to make ends meet?

Dr. Schlessinger: Of course this is a huge concern right now with money issues being so tight. But what I have discerned is that people of modest means have been able to handle what's going on far better than people who are used to having a lot of stuff; it's the people who put their life's worth into products, and not people, that are probably the most shell-shocked.

One thing I've been happy as peach pie about -- because I'm all about the children and the happiness of a woman because that makes the happiness of the home -- is that nannies, day cares and babysitters are all collapsing, which is forcing moms and dads to raise their children at home. I've gotten a huge surge of mail and calls from people who didn't make the choice to be at home with their kids, but are just now realizing how wonderful and beautiful it can be. A home should be more than just a place to park yourself after a frenzied day of too much work. So even though there's less cash, people seem to be happier.

WSJ: What do you tell women who are hesitant to leave their jobs?

Dr. Schlessinger: You know how when you try to quit smoking you chew gum? You replace one thing with another because it distracts you. What I would tell these women is that they're spending too much time thinking about what they have to give up, and feeling angry about not being valued. Look at me -- I made the transition from being a powerhouse to being at home, folding laundry. What they need to do is find value elsewhere. I tell these women to look in their children's eyes. When your husband comes home, wrap your body around him at the door and look at his eyes. What people need to learn is that it's not about the drudgery of housework -- it's about being at home for all of those incredible moments that make your life more valuable than the person who replaced you at work. No one can replace mom. Kids who don't have moms suffer a lifetime.

I have been attacked incessantly for supposed hypocrisy concerning this issue of child care; I couldn't possibly have done all the things required of my career without neglecting my son. Well, those critics are just plain wrong Read an excerpt from "In Praise of Stay-at-Home Moms"

WSJ: What questions should working mothers ask themselves when deciding whether to quit their jobs and become stay-at-home mothers?

Dr. Schlessinger: The nut questions should be: Do I feel fulfilled as a woman? Do I feel like my husband's girlfriend? Do I feel like I have touched the soul of my kids? Those will help you decide.

WSJ: Where do stay-at-home dads fit into the picture?

Dr. Schlessinger: I recommend that during the first three years, the mom should be at home because all of the research shows that the person whose body you come out of and whose breast you suck at, at that stage, really needs to be the mom -- unless she's incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial. After that, flip a coin.

WSJ: At what point do you advise mothers to go back to work?

Dr. Schlessinger: The answer is never. One woman asked me the other day when I think mothers should be home, and I told her, "Whenever your kid is at home." When [my son] Deryk started kindergarten, it was from 8 to 3. So I arranged to be on the air from 11 to 2. That was it. He always had a mom. Quite frankly, my mom was one of the least warm mommies out there. Nonetheless, when I came home from school, she was always there and it made me feel safe.

WSJ: What about the women who can't choose their hours?

Dr. Schlessinger: Well, everyone's capable of it. For everything in life, you have to make a priority list. This must be done. If we truly believe in something and cherish it, we find a way to make it happen. Women go from making seven-figure salaries to staying at home, and things just start to be less important. I remember once our house burned down, and another time there was an earthquake in L.A. and I'll tell you, this family [of mine] never had so much fun. My kid was still little so we played "Sorry" and card games and laughed and giggled and told stories -- none of which costs money. Families across the nation are starting to discover that it's the smallest things in life that make you smile. You don't have to work 9 to 7. If your priority is to raise your child, it's not just a matter of making sure they don't get killed or have food to eat. The question is, "Do you want them to learn what's moral and of value from your perspective?"

WSJ: Do you think it's possible for a working mother to raise a smart, successful child?

Dr. Schlessinger: I didn't write this book about working moms. I wrote it in praise of stay-at-home moms. It's a wonderful choice, but to be absolutely truthful, having been on both sides of this mentality, my heart hurts for what these women miss and what their children miss from them. No argument, no criticism. My heart just hurts -- because when you get those pudgy arms around your neck, and being told you're someone's lullaby -- the fact that a woman would miss that is so, so sad.

WSJ: At the end of your book, you provide a list of Web sites stay-at-home moms can consult for further insight and advice. How important is this part of stay-at-home motherhood these days?

Dr. Schlessinger: I think that social networking is something that all moms who made the choice to make a house into a home should engage in, so they can find other women with similar values, arrange play dates for their children and just generally support one another. There's a particularly wonderful group called Mom's Club that consists of women helping each other out and networking all over America. They also get involved with charity work, so it's not just women sitting around having cupcakes, whining about their day. The kind of thing I would not suggest is using the Internet to put out information about your family, which is kind of dangerous these days.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Want to discredit President's faith-based initiative? Appoint anti-Catholic director with homosexual Human Rights Campaign Fund.

Want to discredit the President's faith-based initiative without actually eliminating it? Appoint an anti-Catholic director from the homosexual activist group Human Rights Campaign Fund. Seriously, that's exactly what President Obama has done.

According to a Fox News story:

A representative of a national gay rights group who was appointed by President Obama to a White House advisory council this week once described Pope Benedict XVI and some Catholic bishops as "discredited leaders" because of their opposition to same-sex marriage.

Harry Knox, director of the religion and faith program at Human Rights Campaign, a Washington-based gay rights group, lambasted the prelates in a gay newspaper last month for their support of Proposition 8, the successful November ballot measure that made same-sex marriage unconstitutional in California.

Knox told the Bay Area Reporter that the Knights of Columbus, the Catholic fraternal service organization, were "foot soldiers of a discredited army of oppression" for their role in the campaign, saying the group "followed discredited leaders," including bishops and Pope Benedict.

Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA, an organization for gay Catholics, who has worked closely with Knox, called Knox a strong supporter of Catholicism who acknowledges the good works of the church.

"But I think he also represents a valid viewpoint in criticizing the Catholic bishops' efforts to sustain continual oppression in this country," she said, adding that they have been the primary financial backers of measures to block the human rights of gay couples. "The bishops have done a lot of damage to our communities, and [Knox's] presence in that circle brings a much needed voice."

Knox is among the 25-member advisory council that is part of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

Some wonder whether the choice of Knox was simply a replay of the Warren-Robinson inauguration prayer situation. Then Warren was invited to pray; gays were upset so homosexual Bishop Robinson was invited to pray at another event. In this instance, Tony Dungy was invited to be a part of the council so then Knox was invited to head it up.

Some have accused Obama of appointing Knox to deflect criticism from liberal groups after he invited former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy to be part of the council. Dungy, an evangelical Christian, supported efforts in Indiana to ban same-sex marriage in 2007. He declined Obama's offer, citing scheduling conflicts.

However Bill Donahue, head of the Catholic League points the incongruity of the analogy if that was the case.

"The counter to Dungy is Harry Knox," Donahue said. "But you don't counter a man with traditional beliefs with an anti-Catholic bigot. It's not a moral equivalent."

What ever happened the President's faith based initiative will have no credit, if not negative credibility if there is such a thing, with millions of Americans.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Ethical relativism, deception, and manipulation all present in Iowa Governor's statement on Iowa Court decision mandating homosexual marriage.

Here's the response of Iowa Governor Chet Culver to the Iowa Supreme Court's decision imposing same sex marriage on the 3 million people of Iowa. I found it unusually manipulative, deceptive and disingenuous.

Previously, Culver said he didn't support same sex marriage and my recollection is he said a constitution amendment was a route to address an adverse court decision. He is now singing a very different song.

He's telling Iowans that
“I have carefully reviewed the Iowa Supreme Court’s unanimous decision on civil marriage and discussed it with the Attorney General.

“Let me begin by saying that I recognize that the issue of same-gender civil marriage is one that evokes strongly held beliefs and strong emotions both for and against. These beliefs and feelings need to be respected. I hope that the views of those on all sides will be treated respectfully and will not be subjected to name-calling or fear-mongering, but instead will lead to rational discussion.
“At the outset, I want to emphasize that the question before the Iowa Supreme Court was one of civil marriage only — a state-recognized legal status constituting a civil contract. Civil marriage always has been, and will continue to be, separate from religious marriage that takes place in churches and places of worship.

He's telling everybody to stay calm and be respectful. I certainly think that's appropriate, but I suspect the implicit message is don't get worked up on this issue, especially those who want to take political action to reverse the Court's decision.

Also, he's sending the message, implicitly if not explicitly is "there are fundamentally different forms of marriage, religious and civil. We can, therefore, change marriage civilly if we don't like the man and woman model." While civil marriage may treat the entrance and exit of marriage differently than religious groups but the fundamental nature of marriage, between a man and a woman, are the same under both. He's subtly saying that's not necessarily true.

“As I have stated before, I personally believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. This is a tenet of my personal faith. The Iowa Supreme Court’s decision has, in fact, reaffirmed that churches across Iowa will continue to have the right to recognize the sanctity of religious marriage in accordance with their own traditions and church doctrines. The Supreme Court’s decision does not require that churches recognize marriages between persons of the same gender or officiate over such unions. The Court does not have, nor should any court ever have, that kind of power over our religious lives. Our churches and places of worship are free to decide for themselves, as they were before, who may enter the sacred covenant of marriage. As the Supreme Court’s decision states, 'The sanctity of all religious marriages celebrated in the future will have the same meaning as those celebrated in the past.’

In this paragraph, the Governor's confusion and relativist, postmodern mindset comes through. He personally believes marriage is between a man and a woman. It's linked to his "personal faith". His view of marriage doesn't count in this instance. In fact, he's willing to support a view is diametrically opposed to his own -- same sex marriage. For him, truth is relative. What's true for me maybe not be true for you. He and President Obama are in full agreement on this point. What's interesting is he then supports a view which is opposed to his personal view. This highlights the moral and ethical relativism epidemic in society. Faith is private, personal and should have little to no bearing on public actions. Of course, in Christianity that is no faith at all. James writes that "faith without works is dead."

He then says churches should have the right to "recognize the sanctity of religious marriage in accordance with their own traditions and church doctrines." I wonder whether he really believes this. If he does then he'll allow the practice of polygamy since Muslims and off shoots of Mormonism support polygamous marriage.

Through a subtle slight of hand Culver seeks to marginalize believers in traditional marriage. Implicit in the idea is "religious, man/woman marriage is fine as long as you do it in your church. In fact, we'll let you do it in your church. But to say society should recognize it is another thing."

He's trying to sidestep the question of whether the nature of marriage is rooted in our humanity and the created order not the will of the legislature and the courts. This former view is not only verified by the special revelation of the Scriptures (One believes the Bible, because it's truth not because I simply like it or was brought up believing it.), but also general revelation/reason. We look at the biological and genetic nature of people. How people flourish and do well in life. (There's a mountain of research to verify the importance of a mother and a father in a child's life.) Life, reality point to the truth of marriage between a man and a woman not persons of the same sex.

“Yet, the Supreme Court of Iowa, in a unanimous decision, has clearly stated that the Constitution of our state, which guarantees equal protection of the law to all Iowans, requires the State of Iowa to recognize the civil marriage contract of two people of the same gender. The Court also concluded that the denial of this right constitutes discrimination. Therefore, after careful consideration and a thorough reading of the Court’s decision, I am reluctant to support amending the Iowa Constitution to add a provision that our Supreme Court has said is unlawful and discriminatory.

Here Culver bows before the great wisdom of the justices of the Iowa Supreme Court. He's saying in effect "In their wisdom the Justices of the Iowa Supreme Court have discerned that the drafters of the Iowa Constitution meant to grant homosexuals marriage rights. Because of their wisdom, I'm now reluctant to support amending the Iowa Constitution. In fact doing so would mean supporting something which is 'unlawful' and 'discriminatory' and nobody wants to do that." Thus supporters of a marriage amendment are trying to do something unlawful and discriminatory. Another effort by him and the Court to stigmatize supporters of traditional marriage. I don't have trouble guessing where he would have stood on the1857 Dred Scott decision in 1857 in which the US Supreme Court ruled that blacks were property and had no rights and the legislature had no power to restrict the spread of slavery. The Court said it so accept it.

“As Governor, I must respect the authority of the Iowa Supreme Court, and have a duty to uphold the Constitution of the State of Iowa. I also fully respect the right of all Iowans to live under the full protection of Iowa’s Constitution.

Here Culver suggests he, and by implication the people of Iowa, need to accept the Court's view, because the Court has a higher wisdom on just what the Iowa Constitution says regarding marriage. And of course if one really respects the "right of all Iowans to live under the full protection of Iowa's Constitution" they'll also support the Court's decision. A manipulative technique directed at supporters of traditional marriage and a marriage amendment.

“I urge Iowans who hold beliefs on all sides of this issue to exhibit respect and good will. Our state faces many serious challenges. We are in the midst of a serious economic recession. Tens of thousands of our fellow Iowans are without work. We have suffered the worst natural disasters and most difficult recovery our state has ever faced. We must join together and redouble our efforts to work toward solutions that will help Iowans in this time of uncertainty. That is where, I believe, my focus and energies should lie.
Then he tries to change the subject by saying we have more serious issues to deal with than protecting the foundation institution of society - marriage between a man and a woman. He's in essence saying, "If you get too worked up and work to reverse the Court's decision, you're really distracting the state from more important things."

“Let us not lose sight of the fact that we are all Iowans, all neighbors, united in the promise and faith of a brighter future for our state. Let us all work together toward that common goal.”

Culver's comments highlights everything which frustrates people about too many politicians. In the desire for power or keeping power, truth and morality are cast aside. Or I should say are attempted to be. Ultimately, true prevails but not without pain and suffering along the way.