Saturday, July 31, 2010

"Why can't two people who love each other and are in a long-term, committed relationship get married?"

One of the questions I heard at the NOM rallies this week in St. Paul, St. Cloud and Rochester was, “Why can't two people who love each other, and are in a long term committed relationship be able to get married?"

Good question, but first let’s define what advocates for same-sex marriage mean by long-term, committed and marriage.

According to a brand new study of 566 gay couples by the Center for Research on Gender & Sexuality at San Francisco State University the majority defined committed long term relationships as allowing for sex with outsiders.

Is sex on the side how Americans define marriage? Is that how you define your own marriage? I think not.

And, how do children fair when the parents have sex outside of marriage?

Don’t be fooled by this dubious trap. (However, I don't believe that most of the people who ask this question realize they are advocating for marriage with sex on the side.) Never-the-less, the next time you are asked this rhetorical question, make sure to ask how they define the terms and then quote the study.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Big, big, bucks spent in govenor's race.

It's interesting that the big, big money is being spent by two DFL candidates for governor -- Mark Dayton and Matt Entenza. They've spent over $3 million and $4 million respectively in the primary which has ten days to go.

It says they have a ton of money and are willing to spent it to be elected governor which pays around $120,000.

It suggests the power and prestige of being governor is much more important than the millions of dollars they are spending.

Press ignores Pastors at National Organization for Marriage rally

With strong support from the pastoral community, including the St. Paul Archdiocese, the Church of God in Christ and Bethlehem Baptist in Minneapolis, the National Organization for Marriage held a rally for marriage at the St. Paul Capitol.

The pastors, virtually ignored by the press, included Pastor Bob Battle (left) of the Church of God in Christ, Father Michael Becker (bottom) of the St. Paul Arch Diocese, Pastor Sam
Crabtree (below) of Bethlehem Baptist in Minneapolis and Pastor Brad Brandon.

Pastor Bob Battle spoke to equality and civil rights saying, "Civil rights, as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. proclaimed, are rooted in the natural law. People of every faith and every community can rally around the truth written on the human heart and visible to reason.

And the right of children to have both a mother and a father.

"Unions of husbands and wives are uniquely good and uniquely necessary to the common good. These are the unions that make new life and carry up into the future an embody the idea that children have the
right to the love of both a mother and a father.

The African American church is firm and steadfast on the biblical principle of one man, one woman marriage."

Now I know that some in the press were impressed by the strong support of the Catholic Church, yet for some reason, refused to report it along with the remarks of the other pastors that stood for marriage. Conversely, coverage of the counter rally included pictures and quotes from the clergy.

I believe this bias is do to the fact that it's hard to stereotype pastors, and their denominations as hateful, mean-spirited homophobes.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

What issues are Americans concerned about? Economy, ethics and corruption, health care, and taxes.

What issues are Americans concerned about? According to a Rasmussen Poll, number one, not surprisingly, is the economy at 85%. Next is government ethics & corruption at 72%. Then health care 70%. Then taxes at 66%. Interestingly, terrorism and national security came in 7th at 57%.

Rasmussen notes that interest in taxes has jumped 10 points from May.

The number of U.S. Voters who view the issue of Taxes as Very Important has jumped 10 points from May to its highest level ever in Rasmussen Reports tracking. Still, Taxes rank fourth on a list of 10 issues regularly tracked by Rasmussen Reports.

The economy (85%), government ethics and corruption (72%), and health care (70%) are the top three issues....

Just below government ethics and corruption is the issue of health care, with 70% of voters placing this issue at the top of the list.....

Sixty-one percent (61%) of voters nationwide now expect the cost of health care to go up under the new health care reform law, the highest level of pessimism measured since the law was passed in March. Most want the law repealed.

The tax issue will continue to rise in importance if Congress lets taxes rise with the expiration of the Bush tax cuts.

I think it's interesting that ethics and government corruption are very important to people; rated number 12. While terrorism is way down the list.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The importance of the family in the economy.

Here's an interesting piece by Joel Kotkin at the family and the importance it plays in the economy and in the minds of Americans.

He looks at its role in the economy.

Americans, with good reason, increasingly distrust the big, impersonal forces that loom over their lives: Wall Street, federal bureaucracy, Congress and big corporations. But the one thing they still trust is that most basic expression of our mammalian essence: the family.

Family ties dominate our economic life far more than commonly believed. Despite the power of public companies, family businesses control roughly 50% of the country's gross domestic product, according to the research firm Some 35% of the Fortune 500 are family businesses, but so too are the vast majority of smaller firms. Family companies represent 60% of the nation's employment and almost 80% of all new jobs.

And despite the glowering about impersonal corporate agriculture and the overall decline in the number of farms since the 1950s, almost 96% of the 2.2 million remaining farms are family-owned. Even among the largest 2% of farms, 84% are family-owned. The recent surge in smaller, specialized farming may actually increase this percentage in the future.

It reduces the likelihood of poverty.

Family life also often determines the economic success of individuals--something widely understood since the controversial 1965 Moynihan Report linked poverty among African-Americans to the decline of intact family units. Today more than half of black children live in households with a single mother, a number that has doubled since the 1960s, and they are much more likely to live in poverty than non-blacks. When you consider intact African-American families the so-called "racial gap" diminishes markedly.

The confluence between upward mobility and strong family networks remains extraordinary not only among African-Americans but among all groups. Only 6% of married-couple families live in poverty, and most of them, like previous generations of newcomers, are likely to climb out of that state. "Families," suggests Nobel Prize-winning economist James Heckman, "are the major source of inequality in American social and economic life."

The family continues to be importance to Americans.

Yet despite these predictions, our mammalian instinct to trust family first has remained very strong. Some 90% of Americans, notes social historian Stephanie Coontz, consider their parental relations close.

And younger generation view the family as important.

And then we have to consider the new generation. The millennials, note researchers Morley Winograd and Michael Hais, are very family-oriented. Indeed three-quarters of 13-to-24-year-olds, according to one 2007 survey, consider time spent with family the greatest source of their own happiness, rating it even higher than time spent with friends or a significant other. More than 80% think getting married will make them happy, and some 77% say they definitely or probably will want children.

Anyone looking into the future of the country’s economy cannot do so without considering the continued importance of the family. Americans' most important decisions--where to move, what to buy, whether to have children--will continue to revolve largely around the one institution most can still trust: the family.

Good Bye to Freedom of Religion?

The following piece from Catholic Online applies to all people of faith, not just the Catholics to whom it is addressed. It underscores the consequences of elections for good or ill... in this case, for ill. It should especially energize conservative Christians as Faithful Voters in the upcoming elections - faithful to vote, based on their faith.

Obama Moves away from 'Freedom of Religion' toward 'Freedom of Worship'?

MFC has been alerting people for months to the fact that it's not just taxes and the size of government that are at stake in this election, but due to pending legislation to legalize same-sex marriage in Minnesota, the very definition and survival of marriage here is at stake as well.

However, as the above article makes clear, it's not even just marriage and the vision for a limited, constitutional government that are at stake; it's the freedom even to express our faith in the public square when it's not politically correct - about marriage or any other subject - that's at stake.

Don't take Freedom of Religion, as conceived by the framers of the Constitution, for granted. If we do, we may well lose one of the foundational principles our nation was formed to establish in the first place.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Is Civil Disobedience Next?

I think most people, who take their faith seriously, have experienced prejudice and religious bigotry in the public square. (Yes, the public square is full of christophobes.)

If not because they've been verbally abused for expressing a biblical worldview outside of their place of worship, then because they believe the revisionist lies about separation of church and state and are too scared to speak out.

Sadly, for many their fear is subconscious, muzzling their testimony and keeping them on the sidelines, holed up in their church.

But why should it matter that Christians are being told to shut-up in the public square? We still have our bible studies and can go on missions trips to third-world countries.

Clearly, it matters to the unborn, God's design for marriage, the family, the environment, fiscal responsibility, feeding the poor, the epidemic of pornography and the size of government - to name just a few. In fact, can you think of anything that would not benefit from the inclusion of a biblical worldview?

There are other voices however, who understand the consequences of this pervading bigotry and fear and, if not checked, wonder if civil disobedience is next.

CLICK HERE to watch a video from Chuck Colson and the Manhattan Declaration.

Washington elite opinion versus rest of country - definitely more liberal and out of touch.

Politico has put out with interesting polls on the views of Washington elites and the rest of the country. Not surprisingly Washington elites are way out of touch with the rest of the country.

As Gary Bauer notes below the mindset of these elites is also decidedly liberal.
The popular insider media outlet Politico recently conducted two polls to measure the attitudes of most Americans compared to those of Washington’s beltway elites.
It found that 49% of Washington elites felt the country was on the right track, and 44% of Washington elites felt the economy was on the right track. But folks outside of Washington felt very differently: 61% of the general population felt America was on the wrong track, and 65% felt the economy was on the wrong track. Here are some other interesting findings:
  • 68% of Washington elites said the Tea Party was a fad that would fade over time, while only 26% of the general population agreed with that statement.

  • 64% of Americans outside of Washington felt that government ethics is a very important issue, while 49% of D.C. elites felt the same – a difference of 15 points.

  • There was a 16-point gap on taxes, with 53% of Main Street Americans believing that the issue of taxes is very important, compared to just 37% of D.C. elites.

  • There was a 17-point gap on immigration – 53% of Main Street Americans felt immigration was a very important issue, while only 36% of Washington elites shared that view.

  • The biggest gap came on the importance of family values. While 62% of Main Street Americans considered family values to be a very important issue, only 23% of D.C. elites felt the same way.
Politically, there is a yawning gap between Washington and the rest of the country. When asked about the 2010 congressional elections, Washington elites overwhelmingly favored Democrats – 53%-to-26%, while Americans outside of Washington were evenly divided. Looking ahead to 2012, D.C. elites supported Barack Obama 56%-to-28%, while the rest of America favored a Republican candidate by five points.

The problem with Washington is that politicians and policy makers live and work in such a cloistered environment that groupthink quickly sets in. Most watch the same TV shows, read the same newspapers and attend the same cocktail parties. When they hear the same opinions over and over again, they make the mistake of assuming that everyone shares that view.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Gazing into the future of ObamaCare -- Look at Massachusetts.

Washington Post and Newsweek economics columnist Robert Samuelson has written an article on the experience of Massachusetts with state mandated and regulated health care. ObamaCare was modeled after it and therefore Samuelson says it can give us a picture of how the federal government plan might play out.
If you want a preview of President Obama's health-care "reform," take a look at Massachusetts. In 2006, it enacted a "reform" that became a model for Obama. What's happened since isn't encouraging. The state did the easy part: expanding state-subsidized insurance coverage. It evaded the hard part: controlling costs and ensuring that spending improves people's health. Unfortunately, Obama has done the same.

Like Obama, Massachusetts requires most individuals to have health insurance (the "individual mandate"). To aid middle-class families too well-off to qualify for Medicaid -- government insurance for the poor -- the state subsidizes insurance for people with incomes up to three times the federal poverty line (about $66,000 in 2008 for a family of four). Together, the mandate and subsidies have raised insurance coverage from 87.5 percent of the non-elderly population in 2006 to 95.2 percent in the fall of 2009, report Sharon Long and Karen Stockley of the Urban Institute.

Improved access to health care are negligible:

People have more access to treatment, though changes are small. In 2006, 87 percent of the non-elderly had a "usual source of care," presumably a doctor or clinic, Long and Stockley note in the journal Health Affairs. By 2009, that was 89.9 percent. In 2006, 70.9 percent received "preventive care"; in 2009, that was 77.7 percent. Out-of-pocket costs were less burdensome.

Emergency rooms are as crowded as ever:

But much didn't change. Emergency rooms remain as crowded as ever; about a third of the non-elderly go at least once a year, and half their visits involve "non-emergency conditions." As for improvements in health, most probably lie in the future. "Many of the uninsured were young and healthy," writes Long. Their "expected gains in health status" would be mostly long-term. Finally -- and most important -- health costs continue to soar.

Aside from squeezing take-home pay (employers provide almost 70 percent of insurance), higher costs have automatically shifted government priorities toward health care and away from everything else -- schools, police, roads, prisons, lower taxes. In 1990, health spending represented about 16 percent of the state budget, says the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation. By 2000, health's share was 22 percent. In 2010, it's 35 percent. About 90 percent of the health spending is Medicaid.

Not controlling costs of health care:

State leaders have proved powerless to control these costs. Facing a tough reelection campaign, Gov. Deval Patrick effectively ordered his insurance commissioner to reject premium increases for small employers (50 workers or fewer) and individuals -- an unprecedented step. Commissioner Joseph Murphy then disallowed premium increases ranging from 7 percent to 34 percent. The insurers appealed; hearing examiners ruled Murphy's action illegal. Murphy has now settled with one insurer allowing premium increases, he says, of 7 to 11 percent. More settlements are expected.

The scapegoats are the same - insurance companies:

Attacking unpopular insurance companies is easy -- and ultimately ineffectual. The trouble is that they're mostly middlemen. They collect premiums and pay providers: doctors, hospitals, clinics. Limiting premiums without controlling the costs of providers will ultimately cause insurer bankruptcies, which would then threaten providers because they won't be fully reimbursed. The state might regulate hospitals' and doctors' fees directly; but in the past, providers have often offset lower rates by performing more tests and procedures.
Efforts to move further away from the market approach aren't working:

A year ago, a state commission urged another approach: Scrap the present "fee-for-service" system. The commission argued that fee-for-service -- which ties reimbursement to individual services -- rewards quantity over quality and discourages coordinated care among doctors and hospitals. The commission recommended a "global payments" system to force hospitals, doctors and clinics to create networks ("accountable care organizations"). These would receive flat per-patient payments to promote effective -- not just expensive -- care. Payments would be "risk adjusted"; sicker patients would justify higher payments.

But the commission offered no blueprint, and efforts to craft consensus among providers, consumer groups and insurers have failed. State Senate President Therese Murray, an advocate of payment change, has given up for this year. "Nobody is in agreement on anything," she told the Boston Globe.

Similar forces will define Obamacare. Even if its modest measures to restrain costs succeed -- which seems unlikely -- the effect on overall spending would be slight. The system's fundamental incentives won't change. The lesson from Massachusetts is that genuine cost control is avoided because it's so politically difficult. It means curbing the incomes of doctors, hospitals and other providers. They object. To encourage "accountable care organizations" would limit consumer choice of doctors and hospitals. That's unpopular. Spending restrictions, whether imposed by regulation or "global payments," raise the specter of essential care denied. Also unpopular.

Obama dodged the tough issues in favor of grandstanding. Imitating Patrick, he's already denouncing insurers' rates, as if that would solve the spending problem. What's occurring in Massachusetts is the plausible future: Unchecked health spending shapes government priorities and inflates budget deficits and taxes, with small health gains. And they call this "reform"?

The answer? Move towards a market based system which gives individuals greater power and responsibility over their own health care decisions. Certainly, government has a role to play. But as a referee or umpire rather than making health care decisions for individuals.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Kersten columns does very good job of pointing out dangerous implications of legalizing homosexual marriage in Minnesota.

Katherine Kersten in her Star Tribune column lays out the threat to Minnesota religious liberties and freedom of conscience posed by legalizing homosexual marriage in our state.

She notes that all the DFL and Independent candidate Tom Horner supports legalizing homosexual marriage.

Is same-sex marriage just over the horizon in Minnesota? Many say yes. A suit to legalize it has been filed in Hennepin County, and a slew of bills on the subject were introduced in the last legislative session. All the Democratic candidates for governor -- along with Independent Tom Horner -- endorse gay marriage.
And then she goes into the actual consequences of homosexual marriage will affect all of us.

Same-sex marriage would transform American law and social life. That's because it's grounded in a radical idea: that male-female marriage, an institution rooted in human biology and intended to create the best setting to beget and raise children, is just irrational bigotry.

The implications of this revolutionary notion are far-reaching, and many are unforeseeable. But one thing is certain: If adopted, it will put government on a collision course with religious institutions and believers, and it's a sure bet government will win.

Male-female marriage is a foundational tenet of all the major world religions, including Christianity, Judaism and Islam. If gay marriage becomes government policy, people who believe that kids need both a mother and a father will be treated with the contempt formerly reserved for racial bigots.

If you think I'm exaggerating, listen to Mark Dayton, who may be Minnesota's next governor. In 2004, he told a crowd of gay-rights activists that people who support a constitutional amendment to protect male-female marriage are "the forces of bigotry and hatred" who "spew hatred and inhumanity," according to the Star Tribune.

Today, we're already seeing the implications played out elsewhere:

•If gay marriage becomes law, churches and religiously affiliated organizations may be denied tax exemption, on grounds that their beliefs are "contrary to public policy." The threat is "credible" and "palpable," according to Robin Wilson, a law professor at Washington and Lee University. In New Jersey, for example, a Methodist ministry had to fight government officials to defend its tax exemption for a facility after declining to allow two lesbian couples to use it for civil union ceremonies.

•Some faith-based charities may have to stop providing social services. Catholic Charities in Boston -- which specialized in adoptions involving hard-to-place kids -- had to give up adoption after gay marriage began in Massachusetts. Religiously affiliated hospitals, rehabilitation centers and homeless shelters that get government contracts or deal with Medicaid and Medicare may be similarly threatened.

•Public employees may be disciplined or dismissed if they refuse to approve of homosexual acts. Recently, for example, a professor who taught Catholic theology at the University of Illinois was fired after a student accused him of hate speech. The professor had written in an e-mail that Catholic theology teaches that "sexual acts are only appropriate for people who are complementary, not the same," and had said he agrees with this view.

•In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Christian Legal Society at the University of California, Hastings, College of the Law could be denied status as a registered student group because it holds that the only rightful form of sex is between a man and woman within marriage -- a view that violates the school's nondiscrimination policy on sexual orientation. The ruling may sound the death-knell for orthodox Christian, Jewish and Muslim campus groups.

•Small-business owners could be liable under discrimination laws if they decline to provide goods or services in contexts that violate their beliefs -- providing wedding photography at a same-sex marriage, for example. Boards that license professionals, including psychologists and social workers, may require approval of same-sex marriage for licensure or admission to professional schools.

In California in 2008, we saw what's in store for traditional-marriage supporters who stand up for their beliefs. Same-sex marriage activists there vandalized property, targeted jobs and defaced houses of worship. Here in the Twin Cities, leaders of the recent Gay Pride celebration also refused to tolerate dissent. They went to court in an unsuccessful attempt to bar a lone Christian evangelist from handing out Bibles in the public park where their event took place.

She also notes the over the top views of Mark Dayton regarding marriage amendment supporters:

If you think I'm exaggerating, listen to Mark Dayton, who may be Minnesota's next governor. In 2004, he told a crowd of gay-rights activists that people who support a constitutional amendment to protect male-female marriage are "the forces of bigotry and hatred" who "spew hatred and inhumanity," according to the Star Tribune.

She does a good job of pointing out that tolerance is a one way street with many homosexual marriage advocates.

In its early years, the gay-rights movement marched under the banner of tolerance. No more. Activists are demanding conformance with and approval of their agenda, and are punishing those who dare to disagree.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Many gay couples negotiate open relationships

We have always known that legalizing homosexual "marriage" would do more than just allow homosexuals to marry. It would completely redefine marriage.

A new study of 566 gay couples in the San Francisco area reveals that HIV prevention should include gay men in so-called committed, long term relationships because most of them have agreed that it's healthy, and good for the relationship, to have sex on the side.

Now you know the real meaning behind the phrase "two loving individuals in a long term, committed relationship."

San Francisco Chronicle
Merridith May
July 16, 2010
They call them "San Francisco relationships."

"A term coined by the local gay community, it's defined as two men in a long-term open relationship, with lovers on the side.

A new study released this week by the Center for Research on Gender & Sexuality at San Francisco State University put statistics around what gay men already know: Many Bay Area boyfriends negotiate open relationships that allow for sex with outsiders.

After studying the sexual patterns of 566 gay male couples from the Bay Area for three years, lead researcher Colleen Hoff found that gay men negotiate ground rules and open their relationships as a way to build trust and longevity in their partnerships.

"I don't own my lover, and I don't own his body," he said. "I think it's weird to ask someone you love to give up that part of their life. I would never do it."

"So much of the HIV prevention effort is aimed at a different set - men in dance clubs or bathhouses having anonymous sex," she said. "HIV prevention might want to expand its message to address relationships; we have to look at risk in a greater context."

In her study of gay couples, 47 percent reported open relationships. Forty-five percent were monogamous, and the remaining 8 percent disagreed about what they were."


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Big hairy audacious goals - that's what Republicans need.

Republicans are banging on Obama for every bad thing that's happening in our country. Just as the democrats did when the republicans were in power.

Some suggest that's all that's necessary to regain power. Keep saying we're not the other guy. Fred Barnes suggests that's not enough. Ultimately, people need to know what you believe and stand for and want to do.

He writes in recent Weekly Standard column:
For Republicans, the Road Map authored by congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin is the most important proposal in domestic policy since Ronald Reagan embraced supply side economics in the 1980 presidential campaign. It’s not only the freshest, boldest, and most comprehensive Republican thinking, it’s also the most relevant. If Republicans adopt the Road Map as their basic ideological blueprint, it offers them the prospect of a landslide in the midterm election this year, followed by victory in the presidential election in 2012.

For sure, that’s a lot of weight for a policy statement drafted by a 40-year-old House member to bear. But the Road Map is perfectly timed to deal with the crises of the moment: economic stagnation, uncontrolled spending, the deficit and long-term debt, soaring tax rates, health care, the housing problem, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid.

Yet Republican leaders are wary of endorsing it, and for understandable reasons. The Road Map is sweeping and politically risky. It would overhaul popular programs like Medicare, relying on individuals to make decisions now made by government. Democrats are already attacking it. When Ryan delivered the weekly Republican radio address in late June, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi put out a press release under the heading, “Republicans Make Key Advocate of Privatizing Social Security and Ending Medicare Their Spokesman on Budget.”

It reminds me of what Jim Collins, author of "Good to Great" and "Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies" wrote. In the latter book, one of the keys to success of great companies is they had audacious goals. I think that applies to other organizations, including political parties.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Recession is equal opportunity recession. Big wake up call to the wealthier.

Here's an interesting analysis of who are the most affected by the deepest recession since World War II. Everyone has been hit but it seems those hit the hardest or it's at least been the most impacted are the rich. The housing and stock market crash has hit the rich big time.

Robert Samuelson says the recession has hit everyone:
It has been the most egalitarian of all the 11 recessions since World War II. In various ways, it has touched every social class through job loss, pay cuts, depressed home values, shrunken stock portfolios, eroded retirement savings, grown children returning home -- and anxiety about all of the above. The Great Recession (as it is widely called) has changed America psychologically, politically, economically and socially. Just how will be examined and debated for years. Here comes a booming cottage industry of scholars, pollsters and pundits.
And it's probably been most impactful on the higher income folks. The housing bust and stock market downturn has hit them big time and changed their thinking and behavior.
Another theory -- more powerful, I think -- is that the Great Recession, though jarring to almost everyone, has been most disruptive and disillusioning to those who were previously the most protected. It punctured their cocoons so unexpectedly that they became more cautious and fearful, whereas those who even in good times faced job loss and income shifts (many blacks, the young and the poor) were less surprised. One legacy of the Great Recession is that insecurity and uncertainty have gone upscale. People feel more exposed. They tend to plan for the worst rather than hope for the best. Their reluctance to make major purchase commitments (a new car or home) validates their pessimism by retarding recovery.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The battle is joined. Pro-homosexual marriage judge goes after DOMA.

The battle over marriage in our nation was taken to another level with the ruling by a federal judge in Boston that the federal law defining marriage as one man and one woman is unconstitutional.

Professor Hadley Arkes says the judge's reasoning was weak.

Judge Tauro accomplishes this task by essentially presupposing the most decisive points that he should have been obliged to establish in an argument. A good third of the judge’s opinion was spent in showing all of the benefits that would be denied to spouses of same-sex couples in the federal government. They would be denied those benefits simply because Congress, which has the sole authority to legislate the federal code, stipulated that every reference to marriage in that code would be a reference to a legal union of a man and a woman. And yes, the consequence of that stipulation in the meaning of marriage does mean that no companion of the same sex can have the standing of a spouse to receive benefits in the form of retirement, pension, medical care, to the extent those benefits are conferred on spouses and members of the legal “family.”

But to compile the litany of benefits foregone is not to make the case that they have been withheld wrongly, without justification. An argument must be supplied. Judge Tauro wanted to argue that the withholding of benefits was illegitimate because the distinction between a marriage composed of a man and a woman, and a marriage composed of people of the same sex, is an illegitimate, unjustified distinction. For Judge Tauro that distinction treats differently people who are in the same situation — i.e., people who claim to be married, as indeed they may claim right now under the laws of Massachusetts.

I find it curious that advocates argue there is no rational basis for defining marriage as one man and one woman. Ignored are the facts that children do do better with their mother and father. That homosexual unions are notoriously unstable and don't provide a good environment for raising children. That society's weaken and decline when the sexual mores are loosened. That homosexual behavior is inherently unhealthy and granting it marital status is putting the state's stamp of approval on unhealthy activities. All conveniently ignored.

Expect another shot at marriage when the federal judge hearing the challenge to Prop 8 in California comes out with his expected pro-homosexual marriage ruling shortly. These decisions will no doubt help make marriage a political issue in the fall's elections across the country.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Financial Flim Flam - We've learned nothing from the Wall Street debacle

Chuck Colson is right. Our leaders have apparently learned nothing from the financial crisis, and consequently the financial reform bill pending in the Senate fails to address the real problems, foremost of which is America's abandonment of the biblical principles that restrain reckless behavior.

Read Colson's commentary or download the audio here.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

An articulate case for why Obama's fiscal policies are bad for the economy.

Here's a very readable case by economist Allan Meltzer for why President Obama's fiscal policies are bad for the economy. If he's right we're in for more or continuing tough times.
The administration's stimulus program has failed. Growth is slow and unemployment remains high. The president, his friends and advisers talk endlessly about the circumstances they inherited as a way of avoiding responsibility for the 18 months for which they are responsible.

But they want new stimulus measures—which is convincing evidence that they too recognize that the earlier measures failed. And so the U.S. was odd-man out at the G-20 meeting over the weekend, continuing to call for more government spending in the face of European resistance.

The contrast with President Reagan's antirecession and pro-growth measures in 1981 is striking. Reagan reduced marginal and corporate tax rates and slowed the growth of nondefense spending. Recovery began about a year later. After 18 months, the economy grew more than 9% and it continued to expand above trend rates.

Two overarching reasons explain the failure of Obamanomics. First, administration economists and their outside supporters neglected the longer-term costs and consequences of their actions. Second, the administration and Congress have through their deeds and words heightened uncertainty about the economic future. High uncertainty is the enemy of investment and growth.

Most of the earlier spending was a very short-term response to long-term problems. One piece financed temporary tax cuts. This was a mistake, and ignores the role of expectations in the economy. Economic theory predicts that temporary tax cuts have little effect on spending. Unless tax cuts are expected to last, consumers save the proceeds and pay down debt. Experience with past temporary tax reductions, as in the Carter and first Bush presidencies, confirms this outcome.

Another large part of the stimulus went to relieve state and local governments of their budget deficits. Transferring a deficit from the state to the federal government changes very little. Some teachers and police got an additional year of employment, but their gain is temporary. Any benefits to them must be balanced against the negative effect of the increased public debt and the temporary nature of the transfer.

The Obama economic team ignored past history. The two most successful fiscal stimulus programs since World War II—under Kennedy-Johnson and Reagan—took the form of permanent reductions in corporate and marginal tax rates. Economist Arthur Okun, who had a major role in developing the Kennedy-Johnson program, later analyzed the effect of individual items. He concluded that corporate tax reduction was most effective.

Another defect of Obamanomics was that part of the increased spending authorized by the 2009 stimulus bill was held back. Remember the oft-repeated claim that the spending would go for "shovel ready" projects? That didn't happen, though spending will flow more rapidly now in an effort to lower unemployment and claim economic success during the fall election campaign.

In his January 2010 State of the Union address, President Obama recognized that the United States must increase exports. He was right, but he has done little to help, either by encouraging investment to increase productivity, or by supporting trade agreements, despite his promise to the Koreans that he repeated in Toronto. Export earnings are the only way to service our massive foreign borrowing. This should be a high priority. Isn't anyone in the government thinking about the future?

Mr. Obama has denied the cost burden on business from his health-care program, but business is aware that it is likely to be large. How large? That's part of the uncertainty that employers face if they hire additional labor.

The president asks for cap and trade. That's more cost and more uncertainty. Who will be forced to pay? What will it do to costs here compared to foreign producers? We should not expect businesses to invest in new, export-led growth when uncertainty about future costs is so large.

Then there is Medicaid, the medical program for those with lower incomes. In the past, states paid about half of the cost, and they are responsible for 20% of the additional cost imposed by the program's expansion. But almost all the states must balance their budgets, and the new Medicaid spending mandated by ObamaCare comes at a time when states face large deficits and even larger unfunded liabilities for pensions. All this only adds to uncertainty about taxes and spending.

Other aspects of the Obama economic program are equally problematic. The auto bailouts ran roughshod over the rule of law. Chrysler bondholders were given short shrift in order to benefit the auto workers union. By weakening the rule of law, the president opened the way to great mischief and increased investors' and producers' uncertainty. That's not the way to get more investment and employment.

Almost daily, Mr. Obama uses his rhetorical skill to castigate businessmen who have the audacity to hope for profitable opportunities. No president since Franklin Roosevelt has taken that route. President Roosevelt slowed recovery in 1938-40 until the war by creating uncertainty about his objectives. It was harmful then, and it's harmful now.

In 1980, I had the privilege of advising Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to ignore the demands of 360 British economists who made the outrageous claim that Britain would never (yes, never) recover from her decision to reduce government spending during a severe recession. They wanted more spending. She responded with a speech promising to stay with her tight budget. She kept a sustained focus on long-term problems. Expectations about the economy's future improved, and the recovery soon began.

That's what the U.S. needs now. Not major cuts in current spending, but a credible plan showing that authorities will not wait for a fiscal crisis but begin to act prudently and continue until deficits disappear, and the debt is below 60% of GDP. Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wisc.) offered a plan, but the administration and Congress ignored it.

The country does not need more of the same. Successful leaders give the public reason to believe that they have a long-term program to bring a better tomorrow. Let's plan our way out of our explosive deficits and our hesitant and jobless recovery by reducing uncertainty and encouraging growth.

NRO - Obama on Marriage: Bigot or Liar?

Certainly, progressives are giving Obama a pass. I would add that progressives are acting like hypocrites as well.

June 30, 2010 4:00 A.M.

National Review Online

Robert P. George

Obama on Marriage: Bigot or Liar?

Like Sherlock Holmes’s dog that didn’t bark in the night, liberals have been strangely silent about Obama’s comments on marriage.

It has become a matter of orthodoxy among progressives that those who believe that marriage is properly defined as the union of one man and one woman are guilty of bigotry.

There is a problem, however: Barack Obama has assured voters that he believes marriage to be the union of one man and one woman — not two men, two women, or some combination of more than two people. As Donald Trump rather pointedly noted after the Miss U.S.A. pageant, President Obama’s position on the definition of marriage is identical to the position stated by California beauty queen Carrie Prejean.

So what do progressives think? Has the president embraced bigotry? Or has he lied to the American people about his position on what marriage is and how it should be defined?