Sunday, November 25, 2007

Advice to Young Men: Do Not Marry, Do Not Have Children

Marriage is a foundation of civilized life. No advanced civilization has ever existed without the married, two-parent family. Those who argue that our civilization needs healthy marriages to survive are not exaggerating. And yet I cannot, in good conscience, urge young men to marry today. For many men (and some women), marriage has become nothing less than a one-way ticket to jail. Even the New York Times has reported on how easily "the divorce court leads to a jail cell," mostly for men. In fact, if I have one urgent piece of practical advice for young men today it is this: Do not marry and do not have children.

Spreading this message may also, in the long run, be the most effective method of saving marriage as an institution. For until we understand that the principal threat to marriage today is not cultural but political, and that it comes not from homosexuals but from heterosexuals, we will never reverse the decline of marriage. The main destroyer of marriage, it should be obvious, is divorce. Michael McManus of Marriage Savers points out that "divorce is a far more grievous blow to marriage than today's challenge by gays." The central problem is the divorce laws.

It is well known that half of all marriages end in divorce. But widespread misconceptions lead many to believe it cannot happen to them. Many conscientious people think they will never be divorced because they do not believe in it. In fact, it is likely to happen to you whether you wish it or not.

First, you do not have to agree to the divorce or commit any legal transgression. Under "no-fault" divorce laws, your spouse can divorce you unilaterally without giving any reasons. The judge will then grant the divorce automatically without any questions.

But further, not only does your spouse incur no penalty for breaking faith; she can actually profit enormously. Simply by filing for divorce, your spouse can take everything you have, also without giving any reasons. First, she will almost certainly get automatic and sole custody of your children and exclude you from them, without having to show that you have done anything wrong. Then any unauthorized contact with your children is a crime. Yes, for seeing your own children you will be subject to arrest.

There is no burden of proof on the court to justify why they are seizing control of your children and allowing your spouse to forcibly keep you from them. The burden of proof (and the financial burden) is on you to show why you should be allowed to see your children.

The divorce industry thus makes it very attractive for your spouse to divorce you and take your children. (All this earns money for lawyers whose bar associations control the careers of judges.) While property divisions and spousal support certainly favor women, the largest windfall comes through the children. With custody, she can then demand "child support" that may amount to half, two-thirds, or more of your income. (The amount is set by committees consisting of feminists, lawyers, and enforcement agents - all of whom have a vested interest in setting the payments as high as possible.) She may spend it however she wishes. You pay the taxes on it, but she gets the tax deduction.

You could easily be left with monthly income of a few hundred dollars and be forced to move in with relatives or sleep in your car. Once you have sold everything you own, borrowed from relatives, and maximized your credit cards, they then call you a "deadbeat dad" and take you away in handcuffs. You are told you have "abandoned" your children and incarcerated without trial.

Evidence indicates that, as men discover all this, they have already begun an impromptu marriage "strike:" refusing to marry or start families, knowing they can be criminalized if their wife files for divorce. "Have anti-father family court policies led to a men's marriage strike?" ask Glenn Sacks and Dianna Thompson in the Philadelphia Enquirer. In Britain, fathers tour university campuses warning young men not to start families. In his book, From Courtship to Courtroom, Attorney Jed Abraham concludes that the only protection for men to avoid losing their children and everything else is not to start families in the first place.

Is it wise to disseminate such advice? If people stop marrying, what will become of the family and our civilization? Marriage is already all but dead, legally speaking, and divorce is the principal reason. The fall in the Western birth rate is directly connected with divorce law.

It is also likely that same-sex marriage is being demanded only because of how heterosexuals have already debased marriage through divorce law. "The world of no-strings heterosexual hookups and 50% divorce rates preceded gay marriage," advocate Andrew Sullivan points out. "All homosexuals are saying . . . is that, under the current definition, there's no reason to exclude us. If you want to return straight marriage to the 1950s, go ahead. But until you do, the exclusion of gays is simply an anomaly - and a denial of basic civil equality."

We will not restore marriage by burying our heads in the sand; nor simply by preaching to young people to marry, as the Bush administration's government therapy programs now do. The way to restore marriage as an institution in which young people can place their trust, their children, and their lives is to make it an enforceable contract. We urgently need a national debate about divorce, child custody, and the terms under which the government can forcibly sunder the bonds between parents and their children. We owe it to future generations, if there are to be any.


Ending race dependency

Believe it or not, we have come a long way regarding race in America. Though blacks have gone from being discriminated against in the law to being victimized by laws intended to help them, there have been positive changes. Ward Connerly, head of the American Civil Rights Institute, hopes to make more changes next November - by breaking black Americans free from the chains of dependency. Racial preferences are "the last thing that connects black people to the era when blacks were dependent on the government," Connerly told me earlier this month.

With an eye toward nailing the coffin shut on black victimization by the government, he is calling his Election Day 2008 campaign, "Super Tuesday for Equal Rights." On that day, he is hoping for a victory over racial preferences in referendums in Nebraska, Arizona, Colorado, Missouri and Oklahoma. According to Connerly, victories on these ballots could mark "the end of an era."

Connerly is in a good position to make such grand claims and have such high hopes. Whereas Election Day 2006 was a widespread wipeout for Republicans, he was a rare winner that day. His Michigan Civil Rights Initiative received an affirmative from 58 percent of voters to amend the state constitution to prohibit state and local government "from discriminating against or granting preferential treatment to any individual or group based on race, sex, color, ethnicity or national origin in the areas of public employment, public contracting and public education."

He won despite a barrage of ridiculous and desperate attacks. A radio ad from One United Michigan asked, "If you could have prevented 9/11 from ever happening ... would you have?" It continued, "If you could have prevented Katrina ... what would you have done?" Then, "On Nov. 7, there's a national disaster headed for Michigan ... the elimination of affirmative action." The ad argued that a "yes" on the referendum would issue a "no" to equal opportunity for women and minorities. In truth, Connerly's effort is all about equal opportunity. It is about ending discrimination against white males, and ending the stigmatization of blacks as victims.

As we head into 2008, Connerly sees a convergence of factors pointing toward a time of real transition for America. Barack Obama, whose interracial parents could not have gotten married in some states a few decades ago, is a serious Democratic contender for president. Blacks and whites alike see the power of Oprah Winfrey. Bill Cosby, in his book with Alvin F. Poussaint, "Come On People: On the Path from Victims to Victors" (Thomas Nelson, 2007), encourages individual responsibility and "no more excuses." Cosby and Poussaint point out that in 2002, there were 1.2 million black-owned businesses in the United States, which marked a 45 percent increase in five years.

More than ever, this is a land of opportunity. Fifty years ago this fall, we needed the 101st Airborne to get black children into their Little Rock, Ark., high school. America has "come so far," Connerly tells me. "And now the rollback against government victimization of blacks may soon be complete." That would be quite the Super Tuesday.



John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt's campaign to expose the power of Washington's Israel lobby through the promotion of their book, "The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy," has now completed its tour of Britain, with more sinister consequences than they perhaps realize.

The two professors are adamant that they bear no hostility to Israel, and that both Israel and America would benefit from the removal of the lobby's control over their relationship. Their concern for Israel's wellbeing will be appreciated by its citizens, but what should we Brits make of them?

This is not an incidental question. "The Israel Lobby " was first published in the London Review of Books, and Britain has a strong and vigorous anti-Zionist campaigning movement, which has managed to persuade several British trade unions to support a boycott of Israeli goods. Mearsheimer and Walt may have written about America, but their book leaves its imprint on Britain.

The professors have strongly rejected the frequent accusation by their critics that they are merely mainstreaming the core idea of modern anti-Semitism: that Jews, in whatever form, conspire to control governments, provoke wars and so on. They insist that the Israel lobby in America is "only doing what other special interest groups do, but doing it very much better."

The problem on this side of the Atlantic is that British politics lacks anything approaching the American system of openly declared political lobbies; a similar, AIPAC-style operation in Westminster would not just influence policy, it would also subvert fundamental democratic mechanisms.

This has not stopped people from making similar claims about pro-Israel influence in Britain. In 2003, Labour MP Tam Dalyell claimed that former prime minister and party leader Tony Blair was unduly influenced by a "cabal of Jewish advisers."

More recently, Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Tonge claimed that "the pro-Israeli lobby has got its grips on the Western world... its financial grips." Those who assume that Zionism has a global reach and unlimited power cannot but assume that what they now "know" - thanks to Mearsheimer and Walt - is done in Washington must have its equivalents in London, Paris and elsewhere.

So the might of Jewish organizations is inflated, conspiracies imagined, to fill the gap between the reality of a Jewish community trying to do its best for Israel, and the fantasy of politicians and prime ministers bowing their knee to the power of the almighty Lobby.

And what does this power consist of? The most recent evidence presented concerns a debate that was held at the Oxford Union in October, on the question "This House believes that one-state is the only solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict."

To argue for the motion, three well-known advocates of the Palestinian cause. And to argue against it, amongst others, Norman Finkelstein, author of The Holocaust Industry and Beyond Chutzpah, and hardly known as a supporter of Israel. When several people informed Luke Tryl, the President of the Oxford Union, that Finkelstein was not normally considered an advocate for Israel, Tryl withdrew the invitation, sparking the predictable claims that this was evidence of the lobby silencing one of Israel's critics.

How do Finkelstein's supporters know that the Israel lobby was behind Tryl's change of mind? Because Tryl, in an email to Finkelstein, revealed that, "Many people expressed concern that the debate as it stood was imbalanced and people felt that as someone who had apparently expressed anti-zionist sentiments that you might not be appropriate for this debate. I tried to convince them otherwise but was accused of putting forward an imbalanced debate and various groups put pressure on me. I received numerous emails attacking the debate and Alan Dershowitz threatened to write an Oped attacking the Union. What is more he apparently attacked me personally in a televised lecture to Yale."

Had Finkelstein originally been billed to speak FOR the motion, nobody would have objected and the debate would have gone ahead as planned; as in fact happened at the Union in May of this year, when he spoke, ironically enough, for the motion that "This House believes the pro-Israeli lobby has successfully stifled Western debate about Israel's actions." He has already been invited back for 2008. Three invitations to the Oxford Union in two years: so much for being "stifled." Finkelstein made his name writing about the finances of Holocaust compensation. (He should try getting a book about Saudi funding for terrorism past the British libel courts to really feel what it means to be silenced.)

In Britain at least, Israel gets more media coverage than any other ongoing overseas story. The case against Israel is frequently aired in the mainstream media and debated at the conferences of Britain's biggest trade unions. The idea that critics of Israel are in any way gagged is absurd. Yet British anti-Zionists see themselves as holders of a hidden truth, struggling against a mighty and terrifying conspiracy to silence them, and now they have confirmation from the highest levels of American academia. If there is a Jewish conspiracy, it is remarkably ineffective.



By Jeff Jacoby

The Federalist Society is the nation's leading forum for conservative and libertarian thinking about the law and its impact on public policy. Its members include Supreme Court justices, law school professors, and more than 40,000 practicing attorneys and law students nationwide.

Yet in many precincts on the left, the organization has long been regarded as a mysterious and somewhat sinister right-wing cabal. Democratic Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois, for example, has warned that "membership in the Federalist Society" and its "secret handshake" have become the keys to the judicial kingdom.The Federalist Society, thundered The Nation in 2001, "benefits big business, it's anti-egalitarian, it shuts plaintiffs like the poor and disabled out of the courts." Its members "lack compassion, working to support favorite sons like gun manufacturers and HMOs." (Actually, the Federalist Society does not bring lawsuits and never takes stands on political issues.)

After President Bush nominated John Roberts to the Supreme Court two years ago, The Washington Post ran a Page 1 story on his ties to the group. "Roberts Listed in Federalist Society '97-98 Directory," the headline noted darkly. "Court Nominee Said He Has No Memory of Membership." Why a nominee's involvement with a legal debating society should be problematic wasn't clear, but as the story observed, "many Democrats regard the organization with suspicion."

That suspicion came in for some razzing here last week, when the Federalist Society marked its 25th anniversary with a black-tie gala in the capital's vast Union Station. Master of ceremonies Theodore Olson, the former solicitor general, mischievously congratulated the 1,800 guests on having made their way to an "intimate, clandestine gathering of the secretive Federalist Society."

When Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito took the podium, he recalled the early 1980s, when members of the Washington, D.C., chapter would meet over lunch at the Empress, a local Chinese restaurant.

At the first meeting he attended, Alito said, he was greeted by a colleague who remarked sheepishly: "This is like meeting someone at a bordello." Those bordello days are a distant memory now. The guest list at Union Station was a who's who of the conservative legal establishment. On hand were senators, judges, legal scholars, former attorneys general -- but also such liberal lions as Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the Ninth Circuit US Court of Appeals and Nadine Strossen, president of the American Civil Liberties Union. The dinner speakers included President Bush, who spoke about judicial confirmations, and not one but three Supreme Court justices -- Alito, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas. (I attended the event as a guest of the law firm of McCarter English.)

The Federalist Society got its start at Yale Law School in 1982, when a handful of conservative law students banded together to challenge the prevailing liberal orthodoxy on campus. The group's second chapter formed at the University of Chicago Law School, where its faculty adviser -- the future Justice Scalia -- had no inkling of the success that was to come. "I never imagined that there would be a chapter at every major law school in America," Scalia told the Union Station audience. "We thought we had planted a wildflower in the weeds of academic liberalism. Instead it was an oak."

The Federalist Society's remarkable growth and impact attests to the power of its ideas -- above all, that the state exists to preserve freedom, that limited government and separated powers are essential to American constitutional democracy, and that judges have a duty to interpret the law, not invent it. The organization flexes its muscle not through lobbying or endorsing judicial nominees, but through something even more potent: standing for principles and defending them in open and robust debate.

"There was a time when we thought that intellectual ferment was on the left and the right was brain-dead. The Federalist Society played a major role in reversing that assumption," says Walter Dellinger, a Duke University law professor who headed the Office of Legal Counsel and was acting solicitor general during the Clinton administration. It is one of a slew of testimonials that appear at the Federalist Society website, most of them from luminaries on the left.

At a time when so much of what passes for public discourse is poisonous and extreme, the Federalist Society's commitment to fostering dialogue and intellectual diversity is a priceless resource. "The ultimate good desired is better reached by free trade in ideas," Oliver Wendell Holmes famously observed long ago. "The best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market." Why then do so many liberals persist in bad-mouthing the Federalist Society? Perhaps because they fear that Holmes was right.


Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


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