Friday, August 31, 2012

Rape and abortion

Here's a good commentary on the issue of whether rape is a valid reason for an abortion brought to fore by the Todd Akin controversial comment.  It's addressed in this commentary by John Stonestreet
But there’s something about this whole event, and especially its aftermath, that has troubled me enough to comment: how Akin’s stance on abortion in cases of rape or incest has been all mixed together with his comments about rape itself. That needs to be addressed and clarified, especially in light of the embarrassment otherwise pro-life candidates have shown about their own views on abortion in cases of rape or incest.

Look, I quickly join my voice with the legions of others that despite our intentions, we should never use this phrase “legitimate rape” again. No rape is legitimate; all rape is devastating, evil, and dehumanizing. I also join with others in condemning the profoundly unscientific idea that a woman’s body prevents pregnancy in cases of rape.

Mr. Akin was apparently drawing from an old pro-life argument that the trauma of rape somehow makes female victims far less likely to conceive a child. But research by the Journal of American Obstetrics and Gynecology suggests that the incidence of rape-related pregnancies is about 5 percent. That may sound like a low percentage, but that translates to more than 32,000 rape-related pregnancies every year. That doesn’t sound rare to me, especially when what hangs in the balance are at least 64,000 moms and babies who bear the image and likeness of God.

Clearly the first lesson to be learned is, we need to know our facts. This is true whether we’re talking about abortion or something like evolution. We’re too quick to jump to an argument or quote some statistics simply because it seems to work for our cause at that time. And that creates a huge problem when those stats or facts change with new data. Plus, this points directly to the second lesson we should learn from this whole fiasco.

Let me explain.  Akin was being asked about abortion in cases of rape and incest. His position, which he went on to clarify later, is that abortion should be illegal in cases of rape or incest because it creates a second victim from the initial evil act. But he jumped out with a pragmatic argument for what is essentially a moral dilemma.

Even if his argument about rape pregnancies being rare was true, though clearly it wasn’t, the frequency of rape-related pregnancies has nothing to do with whether aborting a baby in cases of rape is right or wrong. The fundamental moral question, as my friends at Pro-Life Training Institute often point out, is “what is the unborn?”

If the unborn is a distinct, whole, living human being, then abortion is always taking of innocent life. Abortion in cases of rape and incest is creating a second victim of what is already an evil, terrible dehumanizing crime.
Well said.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Paul Ryan indicts Obama Administration for its failed policies and derilection of duty

In a powerful speech at the Republican convention, Paul Ryan indicted the President Obama and his administration for derilection of duty.

He recognizes the bad economic hand dealt Obama when he came into office.
President Barack Obama came to office during an economic crisis, as he has reminded us a time or two. Those were very tough days, and any fair measure of his record has to take that into account. My home state voted for President Obama. When he talked about change, many people liked the sound of it, especially in Janesville, where we were about to lose a major factory.
 Yet then he noted the wide gap between what Obama promised and the reality of where things are at.
A lot of guys I went to high school with worked at that GM plant. Right there at that plant, candidate Obama said: "I believe that if our government is there to support you. this plant will be here for another hundred years." That's what he said in 2008.
Well, as it turned out, that plant didn't last another year. It is locked up and empty to this day. And that's how it is in so many towns today, where the recovery that was promised is nowhere in sight.
Right now, 23 million men and women are struggling to find work. Twenty-three million people, unemployed or underemployed. Nearly one in six Americans is living in poverty. Millions of young Americans have graduated from college during the Obama presidency, ready to use their gifts and get moving in life. Half of them can't find the work they studied for, or any work at all.
Then he asks can we expect anything different if President Obama is given another four years based on what he's done with the first four years.  Chronicling Obama's track record, he gives a resounding no.
So here's the question: Without a change in leadership, why would the next four years be any different from the last four years?
The first troubling sign came with the stimulus. It was President Obama's first and best shot at fixing the economy, at a time when he got everything he wanted under one-party rule. It cost $831 billion- the largest one-time expenditure ever by our federal government.

It went to companies like Solyndra, with their gold-plated connections, subsidized jobs, and make-believe markets. The stimulus was a case of political patronage, corporate welfare, and cronyism at their worst. You, the working men and women of this country, were cut out of the deal.

What did the taxpayers get out of the Obama stimulus? More debt. That money wasn't just spent and wasted- it was borrowed, spent, and wasted.

Maybe the greatest waste of all was time. Here we were, faced with a massive job crisis - so deep that if everyone out of work stood in single file, that unemployment line would stretch the length of the entire American continent. You would think that any president, whatever his party, would make job creation, and nothing else, his first order of economic business.
But this president didn't do that. Instead, we got a long, divisive, all-or-nothing attempt to put the federal government in charge of health care.

Obamacare comes to more than two thousand pages of rules, mandates, taxes, fees, and fines that have no place in a free country.

The president has declared that the debate over government-controlled health care is over. That will come as news to the millions of Americans who will elect Mitt Romney so we can repeal Obamacare.

And the biggest, coldest power play of all in Obamacare came at the expense of the elderly.

You see, even with all the hidden taxes to pay for the health care takeover, even with new taxes on nearly a million small businesses, the planners in Washington still didn't have enough money. They needed more. They needed hundreds of billions more. So, they just took it all away from Medicare. Seven hundred and sixteen billion dollars, funneled out of Medicare by President Obama. An obligation we have to our parents and grandparents is being sacrificed, all to pay for a new entitlement we didn't even ask for. The greatest threat to Medicare is Obamacare, and we're going to stop it.
...It began with a financial crisis; it ends with a job crisis.

It began with a housing crisis they alone didn't cause; it ends with a housing crisis they didn't correct.

It began with a perfect Triple-A credit rating for the United States; it ends with a downgraded America.

It all started off with stirring speeches, Greek columns, the thrill of something new. Now all that's left is a presidency adrift, surviving on slogans that already seem tired, grasping at a moment that has already passed, like a ship trying to sail on yesterday's wind.

President Obama was asked not long ago to reflect on any mistakes he might have made. He said, well, "I haven't communicated enough." He said his job is to "tell a story to the American people"- as if that's the whole problem here? He needs to talk more, and we need to be better listeners?

He notes the incessant excuses and blame shifting, ignoring how his actions have added to the problem.

Ladies and gentlemen, these past four years we have suffered no shortage of words in the White House. What's missing is leadership in the White House. And the story that Barack Obama does tell, forever shifting blame to the last administration, is getting old. The man assumed office almost four years ago- isn't it about time he assumed responsibility?

In this generation, a defining responsibility of government is to steer our nation clear of a debt crisis while there is still time. Back in 2008, candidate Obama called a $10 trillion national debt "unpatriotic"- serious talk from what looked to be a serious reformer.

Yet by his own decisions, President Obama has added more debt than any other president before him, and more than all the troubled governments of Europe combined. One president, one term, $5 trillion in new debt.

He created a bipartisan debt commission. They came back with an urgent report. He thanked them, sent them on their way, and then did exactly nothing.

Republicans stepped up with good-faith reforms and solutions equal to the problems. How did the president respond? By doing nothing- nothing except to dodge and demagogue the issue.

So here we are, $16 trillion in debt and still he does nothing. In Europe, massive debts have put entire governments at risk of collapse, and still he does nothing. And all we have heard from this president and his team are attacks on anyone who dares to point out the obvious.

They have no answer to this simple reality: We need to stop spending money we don't have.
What's Romney's and Ryan's plan for during things around?
After four years of government trying to divide up the wealth, we will get America creating wealth again. With tax fairness and regulatory reform, we'll put government back on the side of the men and women who create jobs, and the men and women who need jobs.

We have a plan for a stronger middle class, with the goal of generating 12 million new jobs over the next four years.College graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going with life. Everyone who feels stuck in the Obama economy is right to focus on the here and now. And I hope you understand this too, if you're feeling left out or passed by: You have not failed, your leaders have failed you.

None of us have to settle for the best this administration offers- a dull, adventureless journey from one entitlement to the next, a government-planned life, a country where everything is free but us.

Listen to the way we're spoken to already, as if everyone is stuck in some class or station in life, victims of circumstances beyond our control, with government there to help us cope with our fate.

It's the exact opposite of everything I learned growing up in Wisconsin, or at college in Ohio. When I was waiting tables, washing dishes, or mowing lawns for money, I never thought of myself as stuck in some station in life. I was on my own path, my own journey, an American journey where I could think for myself, decide for myself, define happiness for myself. That's what we do in this country. That's the American Dream. That's freedom, and I'll take it any day over the supervision and sanctimony of the central planners.
 Their guiding principles.
Each of these great moral ideas is essential to democratic government- to the rule of law, to life in a humane and decent society. They are the moral creed of our country, as powerful in our time, as on the day of America's founding. They are self-evident and unchanging, and sometimes, even presidents need reminding, that our rights come from nature and God, not from government.

The founding generation secured those rights for us, and in every generation since, the best among us have defended our freedoms. They are protecting us right now. We honor them and all our veterans, and we thank them.

The right that makes all the difference now, is the right to choose our own leaders. And you are entitled to the clearest possible choice, because the time for choosing is drawing near. So here is our pledge.

We will not duck the tough issues, we will lead.

We will not spend four years blaming others, we will take responsibility.

We will not try to replace our founding principles, we will reapply our founding principles.
The work ahead will be hard. These times demand the best of us- all of us, but we can do this. Together, we can do this.
There's certainly no guarantee that a Romney and Ryan Administration will be successful.  My concern is, is there time and the will in the nation to turn the ship in the right direction quickly enough.  Unless we aggressively move in another direction, we'll still go off the financial and economic cliff we're facing.

The difference as I see it President Obama's approach is only accelerating the rush to a crisis while Romney and Ryan are proposing we take the steps necessary to avert this looming crisis.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Is liberalism facing a crisis?

Here's an interesting article on the crisis of liberalism by Charles Kesler of the Claremont Institute.
Some elements of liberalism are inherent to American democracy, but the compound, the peculiar combination that is contemporary liberalism, is not. Compounded of the philosophy of history, Social Darwinism, the living constitution, leadership, the cult of the State, the rule of administrative experts, entitlements and group rights, and moral creativity, modern liberalism is something new and distinctive, despite the presence in it, too, of certain American constants like the love of equality and democratic individualism. Under the pressure of ideas and events, that compound could come apart. Liberals' confidence in being on the right, the winning side of history could crumble, perhaps has already begun to crumble. Trust in government, which really means in the State, is at all-time lows. A majority of Americans opposes a new entitlement program—in part because they want to keep the old programs unimpaired, but also because the economic and moral sustainability of the whole welfare state grows more and more doubtful. The goodwill and even the presumptive expertise of many government experts command less and less respect. Obama's speeches no longer send the old thrill up the leg, and his leadership, whether for one or two terms, may yet help to discredit the respectability of following the Leader.
 We all were surprised with the seemingly, surprising collapse of communism and the Soviet Union when in fact it was crumbling from within.  Maybe the same is true with liberalism.  We shall see.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Ritchie biggest loser in court decision on ballot titles

The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that the decision of Secretary of State Mark Ritchie did not have the authority to substitute his ballot titles for the Minnesota Marriage and Photo ID amendments for those supplied by the state legislature.
Ritchie changed the title for the marriage ban from "Recognition of Marriage Solely Between One Man and One Woman" to "Limiting the Status of Marriage to Opposite Sex Couples." He rewrote the photo ID title from "Photo Identification Required for Voting" to "Changes to In-Person & Absentee Voting & Voter Registration; Provisional Ballots." 
The biggest loser in this case is Secretary of State Ritchie.  His actions trying to bias the amendment titles was rejected.  His credibility also took a hit.  The Secretary of State is responsible for overseeing our voting system.  That's a critically important, nonpartisan, impartial role.  Yet he clearly attempted to use his office to bias the outcome of the ballot questions. 

His public statement regarding the Court's decision retained a degree of self justification. 
As for Ritchie, he issued a brief statement saying in part: "I thank the Supreme Court for its prompt action on this legal challenge to the law first passed by the state Legislature in 1919, affirmed in 1981, directing the secretary of state to title proposed constitutional amendments." He urged voters to read the complete text of the proposed amendments on his office's website.
 This certainly will be an issue if he chooses to run for re-election in 2014.

It should be noted that Attorney General Lori Swanson was also supportive of his activities when she signed off on his title language changes.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Who's the real Thomas Jefferson? Barton and his critics.

There's been a debate in evangelical circles between David Barton and a number evangelical historians.  It revolves around a book Barton wrote on Thomas Jefferson titled, "The Jefferson Lies: Exposing the Myths You've Always believed about Thomas Jefferson."  His book was published by Thomas Nelson, an evangelical publishing firm.  The controversy led them to pull his book from distribution.

Barton isn't backing down.  He points out that his claims are heavily documented.  Glen Beck is a fan of Barton and recently had him on his TV show.  Barton showed how much of the documentation for his book was pulled by Nelson before publication.

Another point of controversy was Barton's view that Jefferson opposed slavery even when he owned slaves.  Barton says the laws of the time restricted his ability to free his slaves.  He explains his views here.

I haven't had a chance to dig into all the criticisms of his book, so I can't say how much is basically a disagreement on the interpretation of historical facts.  I suspect most of it is. 

I think this sort of debate is healthy.  If David needs to tighten up or clarify his conclusions, this will allow him to do so.  On the other hand, this debate may well expose some of the faulty, revisionist assumptions made by modern historians on the actual beliefs of Thomas Jefferson.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Move over Michael Moore for Dinesh D'Souza

Michael Moore made a big splash when he went after President Bush using documentary/movies shown in movie theaters. 

Well, conservative writer, author, speaker Dinesh D'Souza with the help of "Schindler's List" producer Gerald Molen has turned the tables by coming out with a documentary/movie on President Obama entitled, "2016".  It seeks to chronicle the deep seated beliefs, motivating ideology of our current president.  Beliefs, D'Souza, are at odds with most Americans.

Thomas Sowell, economist and columnist, gave this critique of the film:
Years, and sometimes decades, pass between my visits to movie theaters. But I drove 30 miles to see the movie 2016: Obama's America based on Dinesh D'Souza's best-selling book, The Roots of Obama's Rage. Where I live is so politically correct that such a movie would not even be mentioned, much less shown.

Every seat in the theater was filled, even though there had been an earlier showing that day, and more showings were scheduled for the rest of the afternoon and evening. I had to sit on a staircase in the balcony, but it was worth it.

The audience was riveted. You could barely hear a sound from them, or detect a movement, and certainly not smell popcorn. Yet the movie had no bombast, no violence, no sex and no spectacular visual effects.

The documentary itself was fascinating, as Dinesh D'Souza presented the story of Barack Obama's life and view of the world, in a very conversational sort of way, illustrating it with visits to people and places around the world that played a role in the way Obama's ideas and beliefs evolved.
 Sowell notes the unique, Third World perspective D'Souza brings to the film.
Dinesh D'Souza's own perspective, as someone born in India who came to America and became an American, provided a special insight into the way people from the Third World often perceive or misperceive the United States and the Western world.

That Third World perspective is Obama's perspective, D'Souza demonstrates in this documentary, as in his book — and it is a perspective that is very foreign to that of most Americans, which may be why some believe that Obama was born elsewhere.

D'Souza is convinced that the president was born in Hawaii, as he claims, but argues that not only Obama's time living in Indonesia and his emotionally charged visits to his father's home in Africa, have had a deep and impassioned effect on his thinking.

The story of Barack Obama, however, is not just the story of how one man came to be the way he is. It is a much larger story about how millions of Americans came to vote for, and some to idolize, a man whose fundamental beliefs and values are so different from their own.

For every person who sees Obama as somehow foreign there are many others who see him as a mainstream American political figure — and an inspiring one.

This D'Souza attributes to Barack Obama's great talents in rhetoric, and his ability to project an image that resonates with most Americans, however much that image may differ from, or even flatly contradict, the reality of Obama's own ideological view of the world.
 What does D'Souza say is President Obama's worldview, ideology?
The Third World, or anti-colonial, view is that the rich nations have gotten rich by taking wealth from the poor nations. It is part of a much larger vision, in which the rich in general have gotten rich by taking from the poor, whether in their own country or elsewhere.

Whatever its factual weaknesses, it is an emotionally powerful vision, to which many people have dedicated their lives, and for which some have even risked their lives. Some of these people appear in this documentary movie, as they have appeared throughout the formative phases of Barack Obama's life.

The Reverend Jeremiah Wright is just the most visible and vocal of a long line of such people who played crucial roles in Obama's evolution. When Jeremiah Wright thundered about how "white folks' greed runs a world in need," he captured the essence of the Third World or anti-colonial vision.
Sowell's ringing endorsement has piqued my interest.  It's impact?  I suspect most people seeing it will already be inclined not to support Obama, so it won't probably impact most Americans.  However, it may motivate many people to get more involved as the election moves towards the home stretch.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sex, rape, sodomy, and abortion

Seems like sex, rape, sodomy, and abortion are a subplot in this election cycle.

First, there were Missouri US Senate candidate Todd Akin's extremely controversial comments on rape.

Second, the story about Duluth Minnesota Representative Kerry Gauthier's oral sodomy with a 17-year-old boy at a Minnesota rest area.

Third, the Democrat national convention will apparently feature pro-abortion leaders as speakers in an effort to gain women voters.

And now, a Drudge Report posted story from Weekly Standard is pulling in Minnesota US Senator Al Franken and comments he's reported to have made about rape when a writer for Saturday Night Live back in the 1990s.

Sounds like a soap opera.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Paul Ryan: Pragmatic Conservative?

Romney's VP pick Congressman Paul Ryan is vilified by the Obama campaign and the left as a right wing extremist.  The idea of course is to cause the public to be fearful of him.  How conservative is he? 

Michael Tanner of the more libertarian Cato Institute has an interesting take on Ryan.
Democrats clearly want to paint Ryan as an unbending ideologue who refuses to compromise and is unwilling to work with his opponents. Already Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod has taken to calling Ryan a “right-wing ideologue” and “quite extreme.” President Obama himself refers to Ryan as “the ideological leader of Republicans in Congress.”

It’s impossible to deny that there has been an ideological component to Ryan’s career in Washington. He has been an articulate spokesman for the idea of smaller, less costly government, and he is perhaps Congress’s best-known advocate of entitlement reform. There is no doubt that in his heart he prefers markets to government control.  But any effort to paint him as an inflexible ideologue runs up against his demonstrable tendency toward pragmatism.

Throughout his time in Washington, Ryan has been the classic “half a loaf” type of conservative. Time and again, he has shown that he is willing to compromise and take far less than he had originally sought, as long as he is moving incrementally in the direction he wants to go. You won’t find Ryan on the short end of any 434-to-1 votes.
He concludes by saying:
All of this means that Ryan is not really the government-slashing savior envisioned by some conservatives. It also means that he is not the ideological hard-liner portrayed by some liberals. He is, in fact, likely to disappoint his conservative backers on occasion. But he may also be able to work across party lines to really change the disastrous course we are now on.
Ronald Reagan comes to mind.  He was viewed as a conservative.  But through his work as a union rep in Hollywood, he learned the art of compromise and making a deal.  Looks like Ryan maybe cut out of that mold.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

When the US Constitution isn't worth the paper it's written on.

Is America facing a constitutional crisis?  Maybe not on the surface but just below the surface we are.  How so?  Many elites, opinion makers and others no longer respect the idea that the constitution limits the power of the federal government.  This was brought home to me during the debate over the constitutionality of the Obamacare mandate that all people must buy a product in the market - health insurance.  Of course, if the government can mandate we buy health insurance what's to preclude their ability to force us to buy and affirmatively do lots of other things.

Why this disrespect for the constitution?  There's an interesting article in the "Claremont Rview of Books" by John Marini entitled, "Abandoning the Constitution."
America still has a written constitution, but it is nearly impossible, theoretically or politically, to comprehend the distinction between the government and the Constitution. Therefore, it is difficult to conceive of any rational limits on the power of government that can be derived from the Constitution. The theoretical foundations of social compact theory have been so undermined as to make constitutionalism obsolete as a political theory. The Progressives insisted that rights and freedom could not be understood as natural or individual, but social and dependent upon historical development. 
The reason for the problem?  We've lost sight of natural rights and replaced them with the evolutionary notion that history is changing and the fundamental principles aren't constant but changing.
Established on the foundation of natural rights, constitutionalism has been steadily undermined by the acceptance of the new doctrine of History.
Along with this comes a hostility to religion and representative government to chart our course and replace it with the rational, administrative state.
Progressives were confident that the replacement of natural right (philosophy) by History would make it possible to establish the conditions for the replacement of politics and religion by an uncoerced rational society. Political life and religion must vanish to enable the perfecting of economic and social conditions through the establishment of the new social sciences, thereby opening up the possibility of complete freedom, or individual self-fulfillment. The coming into being of the rational or administrative State is possible, and necessary, only at the end of History, when the rule of the philosopher or statesman can be replaced by the rule of organized intelligence, or bureaucracy. 
Frankly, the debate over which direction our nation will take is the underlying theme of the presidential election.  Maybe not be at this intellectual level but it's certainly there.  More government or less.  Freedom or security through welfare state (which as we're finding out is a false security at best.)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Divisions in the Obama Campaign

Here's an interesting article on the Obama campaign and the apparent deep divisions between the players.  It comes from Politico, not a bastion of conservatism, which gives it more credibility.
President Barack Obama’s campaign team, celebrated four years ago for its exceptional cohesion and eyes-on-the-prize strategic focus, has been shadowed this time by a succession of political disagreements and personal rivalries that haunted the effort at the outset.

Second-guessing about personnel, strategy and tactics has been a dominant theme of the reelection effort, according to numerous current and former Obama advisers who were interviewed for “Obama’s Last Stand,” an e-book out Monday published in a collaboration between POLITICO and Random House.

The discord, these sources said, has on occasion flowed from Obama himself, who at repeated turns has made vocal his dissatisfaction with decisions made by his campaign team, with its messaging, with Vice President Joe Biden and with what Obama feared was clumsy coordination between his West Wing and reelection headquarters in Chicago.

The effort in Chicago, meanwhile, has been bedeviled by some of the drama Obama so deftly dodged in 2008 — including, at a critical point earlier this year, a spat that left senior operatives David Axelrod and Stephanie Cutter barely on speaking terms — and growing doubts about the effectiveness of Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

The e-book, produced as part of a two-month reporting project that included interviews with two dozen current and former members of Obama’s team, illuminates how the mood and character of the 2012 reelection effort is flowing from the top — with Obama’s own personality and values shaping his campaign just as powerfully as he did four years ago.

This has produced a campaign being animated by one thing above all. It is not exclusively about hope and change anymore, words that seem like distant echoes even to Obama’s original loyalists — and to the president himself. It is not the solidarity of a hard-fought cause, often absent in this mostly joyless campaign. It is Obama’s own burning competitiveness, with his remorseless focus on beating Mitt Romney — an opponent he genuinely views with contempt and fears will be unfit to run the country.
 Looks like the consequences of being in and wanting to keep power or gain more of it.  The idealism is gone.  And the pressures are building because of a bad economy, unpopular policies and prospects for winning are not bright.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Are free sterilizations of 12-year-old girls coming to Minnesota without parental consent or knowledge thanks to Obamacare?

Is free sterilization of 12-year-old girls without their parents' knowledge or consent coming to Minnesota?  Outlandish statement or clear and present danger?  Turns out it could possibly be the latter given the new Obamacare mandate with free contraceptives and current Minnesota law which effectively precludes parental involvement from contraceptive decisions of their minor children.  While this news report mentions Oregon it raises the question of whether this would apply to Minnesota as well.
Thanks to an Obamacare regulation that took effect on Aug. 1, health care plans in Oregon will now be required to provide free sterilizations to 15- year-old girls even if the parents of those girls do not consent to the procedure.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius finalized the regulation earlier this year.
It says that all health care plans in the United States--except those provided by actual houses of worship organized under the section of the Internal Revenue Code reserved for churches per se--must provide coverage, without cost-sharing, for sterilizations and all Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptives to “all women with reproductive capacity.”
In practical terms, "all women with reproductive capacity" means girls as young as about 12. That, according to the National Institutes of Health, is when girls usually start menstruating...

Thus, the regulation issued by the Health Resources and Services Administration said: "Non-grandfathered plans and issuers are required to provide coverage without cost-sharing consistent with these guidelines in the first plan year (in the individual market, policy year) that begins on or after August 1, 2012. ... All Food and Drug Administration approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity."

HHS said nothing about restricting the provision of these free "preventive services" to women who were 18 or older, or 21 or older, or even 15 or older. The regulation simply said "all women with reproductive capacity."

However, states have varying laws on the age of consent. took a look at Oregon and its rule of consent for sterilization--one of the free services required by the Obama administration's regulation.
The situation could be even worse in Minnesota where state law allows a minor girl, with no age restriction, to make decisions regarding contraception without her parents' knowledge or consent.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Romney's bold conservative choice for VP - Should elevate the debate and draw lines more distinctly between Obama and Romney.

It's interesting reading the take on Romney's pick of Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin as his vice president running mate.  Liberals think it's great because Ryan is so conservative.  Conservatives are pumped up because Romney added a favorite of conservatives to the ticket.

I saw Minnesota Public Television's "Almanac" segment, recorded before the announcement, which talked about who Romney might pick.  The moderate/liberal university talking heads said Romney needed to pick a moderate to appeal to moderates.  Romney did the exact opposite.

Who's right?  As one person said on Almanac, people will ultimately decide based on the presidential candidates not the VPs.  But I think Ryan will have an indirect effect which will be important for the Romney ticket.  First, it will energize the conservative base which has harbored suspicions about Romney's conservative bonafides.  Ryan will excite his conservative base.
And second, it will draw the lines more sharply between Romney and Obama in the campaign. I think that will elevate the debate.  I think Obama campaign will be on a search and destroy mission because he really has nothing to run on which a majority of the American people like, e.g. state of economy and Obamacare.  So they'll trash Ryan and by association Romney for Ryan's budget plans.  However, this will focus attention on the state of the economy and the tremendous danger facing the US financially with its enormous debt and deficits, for which Obama's seemingly only answer, at best, is raising taxes.
I found John Fund's take on Ryan interesting.  In a column entitled, "Smart Democrats should be worried."  He points out some things I didn't know about Ryan.  For one, he repeatedly won a democrat district in southern Wisconsin by wide margins not by running from his conservative fiscal views but by explaining them.  When he did that, the people agreed with him.
First, if Ryan is an extremist and his proposals are so unpopular, how has he won election seven times in a Democratic district? His lowest share of the vote was 57 percent — in his first race. He routinely wins over two-thirds of the vote. When Obama swept the nation in 2008, he carried Ryan’s district by four points. But at the same time, Ryan won reelection with 65 percent of the vote, meaning that a fifth of Obama voters also voted for him.

Ryan has pointed out to me that no Republican has carried his district for president since Ronald Reagan in 1984. “I have held hundreds of town-hall meetings in my district explaining why we have to take bold reform steps, and I’ve found treating people like adults works,” he told me. “All those ads pushing elderly woman off the cliffs don’t work anymore if you lay out the problem.”
Second, Democrats know that Ryan has Reaganesque qualities that make him appealing to independent, middle-class voters. Take the cover story on Ryan that the Isthmus, a radically left-wing Madison, Wis. newspaper, ran on him in 2009. “Ryan, with his sunny disposition and choirboy looks, projects compassion and forcefully proclaims dedication to his district,” the story reported. “And he’s proved he is not unyieldingly pro-corporate, as when he recently joined in condemnation of AIG ‘retention’ bonuses.”
Third, Ryan’s ideas aren’t that novel or scary. The idea of “premium support” for Medicare, which would change the program’s one-size-fits-all policy to a private-insurance model with public options, was endorsed by a bipartisan commission appointed by Bill Clinton back in the 1990s. Late last year, Ryan announced a new version of his proposal with a new partner signing on: Democratic senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, who first achieved political prominence as an advocate for seniors.

Four, Ryan puts Wisconsin and its ten electoral votes in play. Polls have shown that President Obama holds a five to seven point lead in Wisconsin — significant, but much less than Obama’s 14-point margin in 2008. With Ryan on the ticket, polls show the race is dead even.

Five, if Republicans were looking for a superior candidate, they’ve found it in Ryan. His maiden speech as the GOP vice-presidential candidate was perfectly pitched:

We won’t duck the tough issues . . . we will lead!

We won’t blame others…we will take responsibility!

We won’t replace our founding principles . . . we will reapply them!

Echoes of Ronald Reagan at his best.

Ryan was judged to have already had the better of President Obama in televised exchanges on Obamacare. His debate with Joe Biden this October might well be remembered as cruel and unusual punishment for dim vice presidents. Recall that Sarah Palin fought a much more engaged Joe Biden to a draw in their 2008 vice-presidential debate.

Six, as Democratic consultant Joe Trippi acknowledged today on Fox News, Ryan will bring in a flood of donations from overjoyed conservatives and tea-party members. Romney had a problem with energizing the GOP base. That problem is now solved, and that will make it easier to pump up conservative turnout.

Democrats will no doubt try to make Paul Ryan into a younger version of the devil they’ve tried to paint Mitt Romney as. But they should worry about fighting a campaign on fundamental issues in a weak economy. That’s precisely how Jimmy Carter, the last Democratic president to run for reelection during hard times, wound up losing so badly that it not only cost Democrats control of the U.S. Senate but damaging the liberal brand for years afterwards.
As for the Carter/Reagan campaign.  Carter led up until the final two weeks and then lost in landslide.  I've always felt the race is Romney's to lose.  We'll have to see if that's the case.

Monday, August 13, 2012

MFC isn't supporting a candidate in State Senate District 33 Republican Primary Race between Doepke and Osmek, contrary to previous posting on Doepke's website.

It was brought to my attention last week by a Star Tribune reporter that Connie Doepke, current state representative in 33B and now candidate for state Senate, had listed MFC as a supporter of her on her webpage.   In fact, we aren't supporting a candidate in the Senate District 33 race.  Based on responses to our questionnaire, we're remaining neutral.

Here's a link to the press release we put out.

I contacted her campaign at the end of last week and they removed us from their supporter listing.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Will 2012 be a landslide?

Here's an interesting even provocative column by Professor Paul Rahe and his take on the upcoming presidential election.  He thinks it could well be a landslide if Romney runs a good campaign.

This is a surprising or maybe wishful thinking take on the election if you consider the polls with President Obama either neck and neck or slightly ahead of Governor Romney.  Yet he thinks the problems with the welfare state are being laid bare by Obama's bald overreach with Obamacare and other actions and comments.  There's a groundswell of reaction ready to break forth.

Rahe likens the coming changes to the unforeseen fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union,
When I read Nate Silver, Sean Trende, Charlie Cook, Jay Cost, and the others who make a profession of political prognostication, I pay close attention to their attempts to dissect the polling data and predict what is to come. But I also take everything that they say with a considerable grain of salt. You see, I lived through the 1980 election, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the collapse of the Soviet Union, and I was struck at the time by the fact that next to no one among the political scientists who made a living out of studying presidential elections, communism in eastern Europe, and Sovietology saw any of these upheavals coming. Virtually all of them were caught flat-footed.

This is, in fact, what you would expect. They were all expert in the ordinary operations of a particular system, and within that framework they were pretty good at prognostication. But the apparent stability of the system had lured them into a species of false confidence – not unlike the false confidence that fairly often besets students of the stock market.

There were others, less expert in the particulars of these systems, who had a bit more distance and a bit more historical perspective and who saw it coming. The Soviet dissident Andrei Amalrik wrote a prescient book entitled Can the Soviet Union Survive 1984? Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn predicted communism’s imminent collapse, and Daniel Patrick Moynihan suspected that the Soviet Union would soon face a fatal crisis. They were aware that institutions and outlooks that are highly dysfunctional will eventually and unexpectedly dissolve.
 He thinks our "administrative entitlements state" is reaching a similar crisis point.
In my opinion, none of the psephologists mentioned above has  reflected on the degree to which the administrative entitlements state – envisaged by Woodrow Wilson and the Progressives, instituted by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and expanded by their successors – has entered a crisis, and none of them is sensitive to the manner in which Barack Obama, in his audacity, has unmasked that state’s tyrannical propensities and its bankruptcy. In consequence, none of these psephologists has reflected adequately on the significance of the emergence of the Tea-Party Movement, on the meaning of Scott Brown’s election and the particular context within which he was elected, on the election of Chris Christie as Governor of New Jersey and of Bob McDonnell as Governor of Virginia, and on the political earthquake that took place in November, 2010. That earthquake, which gave the Republicans a strength at the state and local level that they have not enjoyed since 1928, is a harbinger of what we will see this November.

He sees Obama ahead in the polls but his support is "a mile wide and a quarter of an inch deep."  And it's something Romney can easily exploit if he runs a good campaign.

Yes, Barack Obama is ahead in some polls. And, yes, it looks like a neck-and-neck race. But that is because the President is spending everything that he has right now in a desperate attempt to demonize Mitt Romney, and it is because Americans are not yet paying attention. Obama’s support is a mile wide and a quarter of an inch deep.

Of course, if Romney were a corpse as yet unburied on the model of Bob Dole and John McCain, he would lose. If you do not all that much care whether you win or not, you will lose. But Romney wants to win. He is a man of vigor, and he has a wonderful case to make. He is a turn-around artist, and this country desperately needs turning around. Barack Obama has no argument to make. He can only promise more of the same -- yet another stimulus and higher taxes on the investing class. All that Romney has to do if he wants to win is to make himself presentable, and that should not be hard. He is handsome, tolerably well-spoken, and accomplished. If, in the debates, he stands up to the President, he will seem the more presidential of the two – and that will do the trick, as it did in 1980.

The question that everyone will pose to himself on the first Tuesday in November is this: “Do I want four more years of this?” And Romney can drive it home: “Do you want four more years of massive unemployment? Do you want four more years of food stamps? Do you want to lose the job that you have? Do you want to be out of work when you get out of college? Or do you want to see this country get moving again? Barack Obama took his shot – the stimulus bill, Obamacare, and Dodd-Frank. And where has it left us? With the most anemic recovery in the history of this country!”
 What does Romney need to say and do?
Romney can go on to speak of Obamacare. He can point to the corruption that Barack Obama brought from Chicago to Washington. He need only mention Solyndra and sound the theme of crony capitalism. Romney can also point to the President’s systematic misuse of the executive power – to defraud the salaried employees of Delphi and the bondholders of General Motors and Chrysler, to gut the welfare reform passed by New Gingrich and adopted by Bill Clinton, to let school systems out of No Child Left Behind, to sick the IRS on political enemies, to force people into unions, to encourage voter fraud, to deprive Catholics and other Christians of the free exercise of their religion. The list is long.

When the American people pause to pay attention, they will not vote for four more years of misery, four more years of corruption, four more years of lawlessness, four more years of race-baiting, and they will certainly not vote to embrace Obamacare.
If Romney wants to win really, really big, there are three things that he needs to do. 
 The three things he needs to do?
First, he needs to tie his argument for paring back the administrative entitlements state back to first principles – back to the origins and purpose of government – and he needs to assert the necessity to return to limited government. What I am saying here is that he needs to occupy the moral high ground, to defend free enterprise not only as efficient but as right and just, and to criticize "spreading the wealth around" and taking from Peter to pay Paul as shameful and unjust. Politics is ultimately about justice, and justice should be his theme.

Second, he needs to force Obama to make errors. To this end, he needs to get under the President’s skin. He did this to Newt Gingrich in Florida, and it worked like a charm. Obama is even vainer than Newt, and he cannot stand mockery. Moreover, he hates Romney with all the resentment that phony intellectuals ordinarily harbor for successful businessmen. The gentler the mockery in this case, the lighter the touch, the more devastating it will be. Romney’s theme should be that the poor fellow is just not up to the job and that he should be left free to spend all of his time doing what he really enjoys -- playing golf. The SuperPACs may be able to carry the ball on this.

Third, when the debates come, he should do a Newt Gingrich. When one of the pundits asks a really stupid question that is of interest only to the credentialed elite (and this is inevitable), he should disembowel the man, asking him how he could waste the time of the American people on a matter of this sort when we are on the verge of a second recession and millions are looking for work. In the debates, the trick is to show strength – and nothing shows strength like a dramatic gesture of this sort. He might even find an opportunity to do this to Obama himself. It would be a knock-out blow. At some point, Romney needs to set aside his natural caution and timidity and go for the jugular.

In the meantime, you should not be afraid. This is going to be fun, and our margin of victory is going to be large.
 Is he corrrect?  We'll find out in three months.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Cohabitation: "largest unrecognized threat to the quality and stability of children’s family lives"

While it's not talked about that much, cohabitation has grown dramatically in recent decades and years.  Many see it as a way to test drive a relationship before getting marriage.  In fact, doing so only moves a person farther away from the intended goal - a stable, happy marriage.

As the below chart points out, cohabitation has been on a steady rise since 1960.  Going from 1.1% of couples living together to 11.6% in 2010.

Cohabiting relationships are less healthy for the individuals cohabiting and for the children living in those household.  Cohabiting is now rivaling divorce as the biggest threat to a child's well-being.  Not that divorce is less of a problem.
According to Professor Brad Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project, “the rise of cohabiting households with children is the largest unrecognized threat to the quality and stability of children’s family lives.” As he notes in his report Why Marriage Matters: Thirty Conclusions from the Social Sciences, in the last half of the 20th century, “divorce was the event most likely to undercut the quality and stability of children’s family lives.” However, today children are more likely to spend time in a cohabiting household than to see their parents divorce.
Reasons cohabiting is bad for kids?
Much of the risk for children in cohabitation stems from the high rate of instability among these couples. A 2007 study shows that roughly two-thirds of unmarried parents separate within five years after having a child, and only about one in five of these couples end up getting married within that timeframe. In contrast, more than 80 percent of married couples will still be together within five years of their children’s births.

Children in cohabiting families also do not reap the same benefits as their peers born to married parents. On average, these children fail to perform as well academically, exhibit more behavioral problems, have poorer health, are at greater risk for abuse, and are more likely to be sexually active as teens. They don’t fare much better financially than children in single-parent homes either, meaning they are far more likely to be poor.

Tragically, cohabitation and particularly unwed births occur more often among low- and moderately educated Americans. The poorer outcomes for children born outside of marriage, including higher poverty, mean that these children and their families, already with limited resources, are now doubly disadvantaged compared to their more highly educated peers who overwhelmingly wait until marriage to have children. This trend is creating a “two-caste society” divided along the lines of marriage and education.
What's best for kids?  Intact, biological, married family.  That's why we seek to protect this standard in our state laws.
As Wilcox points out, “The intact, biological, married family remains the Gold Standard for family life in the United States. Children are most likely to thrive, economically, socially, and psychologically, in this family form.”
Marriage benefits society as a whole, producing individuals who are more likely to thrive. Higher rates of cohabitation and fewer marriages mean that more children will fail to reap the benefits this institution provides.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Obama works to gut work requirements in federal welfare laws.

The Left is at work again in the Obama Administration's efforts to gut work requirements in federal welfare laws.  Of course, what the president can't do legislatively, e.g. change the law, he's doing administratively.

Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation notes:
In 1996, a Republican Congress drafted a welfare-reform law — Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) — that for the first time established meaningful work standards for welfare recipients. President Clinton reluctantly signed this legislation.

Ever since, Democratic leaders have attempted — unsuccessfully — to repeal welfare’s work standards, blocking reauthorization of TANF and attempting to weaken the requirements.

Unable to eliminate “workfare” legislatively, the Left now acts contrary to the law and employs a bureaucratic maneuver to gut the work requirements. The Obama administration claims authority to grant waivers that allow states to skirt these requirements. 
Rector notes that the public overwhelmingly favors work requirements so the Left and Obama Administration has to make changes stealthily.
This hostility to workfare is deeply at odds with the public’s view. A recent Rasmussen survey reveals that 83 percent of adults favor work requirements. Only 7 percent oppose them.

Recognizing such strong support for work requirements, liberals historically used camouflage tactics: They publicly praised workfare while seeking to murder it behind the scenes. The Obama administration has adopted this “talk right, govern left” strategy.

Humorously, Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius even asserts that the administration abolished the TANF work requirements in order to increase work.

This is false.
The Obama administration claims authority to overhaul every aspect of the TANF work provisions (section 407), including “definitions of work activities and engagement, specified limitations, verification procedures and the calculation of participation rates” — in other words, the whole work program. Sebelius’s HHS bureaucracy declared the existing TANF law a blank slate on which it can write any policy it chooses.

Because HHS granted itself total authority to change any aspect of the work standards, the agency will not be bound by its state-by-state waiver approach in the future.
The endgame, in effect, is expanding the welfare state and dependency on government as widely as possible.
Moreover, HHS has made it clear that it will not accept waivers for new conservative policies. The agency’s guidance states that it will not approve policy initiatives that are “likely to reduce access to aid.” Translation: HHS will oppose any policy that reduces welfare caseloads....

Obama’s goal is to “spread the wealth” by massively increasing the welfare state. The federal government currently runs more than 80 means-tested welfare programs. Roughly a third of the population receives benefits from one or more of these programs. (These figures do not include Social Security or Medicare.) Total welfare spending in 2011 came to $927 billion.

Last month, only three of these programs included any type of work requirement. Now that number is two, since Obama ended welfare reform as we know it.
More government, more government dependency, and more dysfunction in society.  That's the fruit of their efforts.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

"It's the culture, stupid."

The above title is a take off on the Clinton era, campaign mantra, "It's the economy, stupid."  To win election, his campaign zeroed in on the economy which was weak back in 1992.

Well, I'd say that ultimately "It's the culture, stupid", because that's where the values, ideas and cultural qualities necessary for a strong economy are learned and cultivated.

Here's an interesting piece by Richard Cohen, following up on Romney's comments about culture and the economic state of the Palestinians versus Israel.  He points out how in Hungry the Jews rose to prominence in less than a century despite starting at zero earlier in the 19th century.
Before the Jews of Hungary were emancipated in the 19th century, they were not permitted to own land. By the end of the century, they were on their way to owning fully one-fifth of Hungary's large estates and were hugely successful in business and the arts. The Jews of Germany had a similar history. They comprised many if not most of the country's lawyers, doctors, composers, playwrights and scientists, and were so astonishingly successful in business that while they were just 1 percent of the population, they were 31 percent of the richest families. What did it? Was it nature (Jews were smarter) or nurture (Jews had a certain culture)? Here's my answer: I don't know.

I do know, though, that if you eliminate what would certainly be condemned as a racist explanation -- Jews as inherently smarter than non-Jews -- then you are left with culture: There was something in the Jewish experience -- 1,000 or so years of persecution and being shunted into dishonorable occupations such as money lending -- that prepared Europe's Jews for the onset of capitalism. Countless books have been written to explain this phenomenon, which continues to this day with Israel's intellectual domination of its region. In his new book, "The Future of the Jews," Stuart E. Eizenstat provides an example: "Between 1980 and 2000, 7,652 patents were registered by Israelis in the United States." The figure for the entire Arab world? 367.

The cultural difference between Israel and its Arab neighbors is so striking that you would think it beyond question. But when Mitt Romney attributed the gap between Israel's economic performance and the Palestinians' -- "Culture makes all the difference," he said in Israel -- the roof came down on him. PC police the world over raised a red card, giving him demerits for having the temerity to notice the obvious. Predictably, Saeb Erekat, chief Palestinian negotiator and a member of the executive committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, denounced the statement as "racist." It was, of course, just the opposite.
 He rightfully points out some of the disadvantages Palestinians start with.
This is a complicated matter. It's true that the West Bank is under Israeli occupation and parts of Gaza have been pounded into rubble. It is also true that for years the Palestinians benefited from jobs in Israel. It is true that a good many educated Palestinians live in the diaspora, but it is also true that the early diaspora consisted of Palestinian Christians fleeing Ottoman repression. (There are about 500,000 Palestinians in Chile.)
But then goes on to point out the cultural problems facing them.  Culture embodying not just the arts and so forth but also education and political structures.
Still, for all the caveats, the Arabs themselves recognize that they have a cultural problem. The Arab Human Development Report of 2002 singled out three "deficits" of Arab society that are "obstacles" to progress. One was the lack of political freedom; another was the narrow knowledge base; and the last, the status of women. All of these vary across the region -- Saudi Arabia's women are forbidden to drive -- but nowhere in the region are women as free as they are in the West or, for that matter, Israel. In all of vast Arabia, about half of the potential workforce is poorly or indifferently educated.

This hubbub about culture may seem esoteric, but it is really very important. The tendency to hold the Arabs blameless for their own culture is part of the predilection to hold them harmless for the lack of peace agreement with Israel. The Israelis have much to account for, but they are not alone in this matter and they are not the ones who have over and over again rejected peace plans. The adamant refusal to hold the Arabs accountable infantilizes them -- a neocolonialist mentality that is, in the end, simply insulting.

The book that Romney cited for his views on Arab culture, David S. Landes' "The Wealth and Poverty of Nations," goes further than I would in blaming the Arabs for their own difficulties, and it was written long before the Arab Spring. But it is a vigorously written attack on the sort of thinking that blames the West for all that ails the East and for disregarding indigenous cultural problems. Landes is particularly tough on the Muslim societies of the Middle East for the plight of women -- a cultural phenomenon that does not exist in Islamic Asia but does, just for the record, among Israel's extremely Orthodox Jews.

Romney could have been more diplomatic and eschewed shorthand explanation of what ails Palestinian society -- he might also have acknowledged Palestinian achievements -- but he identified what are, indisputably, two problems. The first is that of culture. The second is the reluctance to discuss it.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

"Growing Up With Two Moms:The Untold Children's View"

That's is the title of a piece written by Robert Oscar Lopez on the impact of being raised by two lesbian women.

It's a very thoughtful piece which basically conveys the impact of a same-sex relationship serving as the formative role modeling influence in his life.  The take away?  Kids need their moms and their dads.

Here are some of his thoughts.
Quite simply, growing up with gay parents was very difficult, and not because of prejudice from neighbors. People in our community didn’t really know what was going on in the house. To most outside observers, I was a well-raised, high-achieving child, finishing high school with straight A’s.

Inside, however, I was confused. When your home life is so drastically different from everyone around you, in a fundamental way striking at basic physical relations, you grow up weird. I have no mental health disorders or biological conditions. I just grew up in a house so unusual that I was destined to exist as a social outcast.

My peers learned all the unwritten rules of decorum and body language in their homes; they understood what was appropriate to say in certain settings and what wasn’t; they learned both traditionally masculine and traditionally feminine social mechanisms.

Even if my peers’ parents were divorced, and many of them were, they still grew up seeing male and female social models. They learned, typically, how to be bold and unflinching from male figures and how to write thank-you cards and be sensitive from female figures. These are stereotypes, of course, but stereotypes come in handy when you inevitably leave the safety of your lesbian mom’s trailer and have to work and survive in a world where everybody thinks in stereotypical terms, even gays.

I had no male figure at all to follow, and my mother and her partner were both unlike traditional fathers or traditional mothers. As a result, I had very few recognizable social cues to offer potential male or female friends, since I was neither confident nor sensitive to others. Thus I befriended people rarely and alienated others easily. Gay people who grew up in straight parents’ households may have struggled with their sexual orientation; but when it came to the vast social universe of adaptations not dealing with sexuality—how to act, how to speak, how to behave—they had the advantage of learning at home. Many gays don’t realize what a blessing it was to be reared in a traditional home.

My home life was not traditional nor conventional. I suffered because of it, in ways that are difficult for sociologists to index. Both nervous and yet blunt, I would later seem strange even in the eyes of gay and bisexual adults who had little patience for someone like me. I was just as odd to them as I was to straight people.

Life is hard when you are strange. Even now, I have very few friends and often feel as though I do not understand people because of the unspoken gender cues that everyone around me, even gays raised in traditional homes, takes for granted. Though I am hard-working and a quick learner, I have trouble in professional settings because co-workers find me bizarre.

In terms of sexuality, gays who grew up in traditional households benefited from at least seeing some kind of functional courtship rituals around them. I had no clue how to make myself attractive to girls. When I stepped outside of my mothers’ trailer, I was immediately tagged as an outcast because of my girlish mannerisms, funny clothes, lisp, and outlandishness. Not surprisingly, I left high school as a virgin, never having had a girlfriend, instead having gone to four proms as a wisecracking sidekick to girls who just wanted someone to chip in for a limousine.
Fundamentally, we're created, wired male and female. And kids ideally do best when their mom and dad are in their lives.  Certainly, doesn't guarantee success, but it's the ideal society should point to.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Mainline Protestant Denominations in Decline

Here's an article documenting the decline of the major mainline Methodist and Presbyterian denominational groups.
The United Methodist Church has continued to decline in the United States of America, according to reports released by all but four of the denomination's 59 conferences.

According to the reports, in 2011 the UMC suffered a decline of nearly 72,000 members, with 18 conferences reporting membership losses of 2 percent or more.

Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion & Democracy and a practicing Methodist, told The Christian Post that he did not feel confident in the survival of the UMC in America.

"Methodism in the U.S. has lost membership every year since 1964. It has lost over 4.5 million members. There is nothing in its U.S. policies that can or will reverse the decline in the near future," said Tooley.

"My own local church is a very typical U.S. United Methodist congregation. It is selling its Sunday school building for lack of people and finances."
The mainline Presbyterians are also in decline.
The United Methodist Church is not the only mainline Protestant denomination suffering from declining membership in the United States.

In June, the Presbyterian Church (USA) Office of the General Assembly released statistics on the denomination showing that the denomination's membership had dipped below 2 million. The downward trend for PC(USA) meant that since 2000, the denomination had lost 20 percent of its membership.

Regarding the decline, Dr. Sheldon W. Sorge, pastor to Presbytery for the PC(USA) Presbytery of Pittsburgh, told The Christian Post that the decline was part of the overall decline in Christian church affiliation in America.

"There are many reasons for this decline, including for mainline Protestants a birthrate well below the threshold of maintaining population," said Sorge. Among American conferences, eleven U.S. conferences increased in worship attendance and five conferences gained members.
What will turn things for these denominational groups?  Returning to their roots and a vital, living Christian faith.
Tooley believed that the growth of United Methodism abroad, especially in Africa, would come to influence the theology of the American UMC.

"The African churches now have over 4.2 million members and have been growing at over 200,000 members a year. They have the same evangelistic spark that made Methodism America's biggest and fastest growing church in 19th century America," said Tooley.

"I think there will be a turn around when the African influence begins to reshape the now U.S. based seminaries and church agencies."

...Regarding why the United Methodist Church in America is declining, Brunstetter said that he believes the UMC "has lost some of its evangelistic zeal."

"The heart of Methodism is having a vital heart relationship with God through Jesus Christ which effects a love for people and concern for unjust conditions," said Brunstetter.

"While the Methodist church embraces all kinds of churches at different points along the spectrum, I believe the future of our church is our embrace of that sound theology that got us started, one that I am unapologetic for."
 If the Presbyterians or Methodists embrace the redefinition the marriage, which is the burning issue for some in these denominations,  that will only lock in their decline and mean their eventual demise.  The Presbyterians appear on the road to doing this while the Methodist church may well move in the other direction given the growing influence of African, Asian and Latin America Methodists.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Tipping point? Obama, gay "marriage" and African American clergy.

The announcement a couple months ago by President Obama that his thinking on marriage had "evolved" to support for redefining marriage to encompass same sex persons is having an impact in the African American community.  African American clergy in Minnesota and nationally are rising up and speaking out against Obama's change of position on a critical moral and social issue.
The Rev. William Owens, Jr., head of the "Mandate for Marriage" initiative and son of the Rev. William Owens, Sr., the founder and president of the Coalition of African-American Pastors (CAAP), told The Christian Post about the growing importance of the issue at an event on Tuesday.

"It's only going to increase because the very core of America is founded upon Judeo-Christian beliefs. That's debatable to some people but you can't do away with history," said Owens, Jr.

"When you begin to take on those core values you begin to take on what's the core for America. So when more and more begin to realize what is getting ready to happen, it's going to have to become an issue if we want to save our country."

Owens, Jr., made these remarks while part of a press conference held by CAAP at the National Press Club in D.C. The Rev. Owens, Sr., gave the opening remarks and answered questions from the audience.

"The time has come for a broad-based assault against the powers that be that want to change our culture to one of men marrying men and women marrying women," said Owens, Sr.

Other speakers at the event included Bishop Janice Hollis, presiding prelate for Covenant International Fellowship of Churches in Philadelphia; Bishop Charles G. Nauden of Holyway Church of God in Christ of Southern California; and the Reverend Dean Nelson, vice chairman of the Frederick Douglass Foundation.
I think this could have significance far beyond President Obama's change of heart.  Coupled with the Democrat party's office endorsement of same sex "marriage" these actions could impact Obama's re-election prospects but also the traditional political alignment of the African American community with the Democrat Party.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Obama message to business owners on health care, contraceptive mandate: Violate your religious convictions or shutdown your business.

The Obamacare mandate that all individuals and businesses pay for contraceptives, abortificients, and sterilization went into effect today, August 1st.  Businesses which fail to pay for the mandate will face a $100/day fine per employee.
The HHS “preventive services” regulation mandates that nearly all health insurance plans in the United States must offer sterilizations, contraceptives, and abortion-inducing drugs free of charge; businesses and individuals who buy health insurance will subsidize those products and services even if they are opposed to them on religious grounds. Businesses and individuals who do not purchase health insurance will have to pay a penalty tax to the federal government....

The “preventive services” regulation was finalized in February and is part of the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”).  Under Obamacare, businesses with more than 50 full-time employees must provide their employees with health-care coverage or face a fine of about $2,000 per worker per year.

If a business chooses to not comply with the HHS mandate by continuing to provide their workers with insurance that does not cover the specified preventive services, they would be subject, under the health care law, to a penalty of about $100 per day per worker.
This is a major attack on religious freedom in our nation.  It forces everybody to subsidize the sexual revolution which of course has been an unmitigated disaster.

Rather than backing off President Obama and his administration is charging full steam ahead.  One more issue which should energize social conservatives for the November elections.