Thursday, March 26, 2009

Dumbing Down Marriage

Being able to buy a $500,000 house on fabricated and blown up income figures with no money down....... a perversion of the American dream of homeownership. Getting paid $15MM for employment that helped cause failure at major financial institutions.....a perversion of the American work ethic. Assaulting the institution of marriage so as to eviscerate it of any meaning whatsoever..... a perversion of the American social fabric.

And assaulting the very idea of marriage is exactly what is occurring at every turn. Consider just four examples from the past week:

1) New data shows more than 40% of American babies were born out of wedlock. This staggering figure continues a twenty-year growth trend in children starting life from the outset in incomplete families.

2) Most, if not all, dictionaries, now provide multiple definitions for “marriage.” Their stated goal is to reflect cultural usage rather than to create it.

3) The same-sex marriage battle continues in California in spite of the passage of Proposition 8 in November. Gay activists have already begun mobilizing for another referendum if the state's Supreme Court allows Proposition 8 to stand.

4) Two Pepperdine University law professors published an article in Time this week, arguing that the government should get out of the marriage business altogether.

These four examples join what has become a siege on the very notions of family and marriage in America. Much like Vicksburg in 1863, where residents dug tunnels to survive the daily bombardment from Union cannons and hid food to try to outlast the severed supply lines, marriage and family today live in a fixed state of defense and survival, clinging to what little sustenance they can find in a culture almost exclusively hostile to them. From the defective idea of “same-sex marriage,” to the increasing disregard for marriage as the birthplace for children, and to a malformed desire to make marriage contractual and disposable at will, family and marriage stand battered and bruised by a ceaseless bombardment of attack.

Sadly, in the not too distant future, we will experience the painful chaos borne by those in our nation who claim to “broaden” our understanding of marriage. In fact, these folks dumb down the very concept of marriage so as to gut it of meaning altogether. The resulting chaos, if the trend continues, will wreak havoc on children who will consistently find themselves unable to give and receive love in appropriate ways, unable to form deep bonds of intimacy and long-term commitments, and unable to provide a stable setting for future generations. This chaos comes from the increasing pressure in our culture to define the ideas of marriage and family by purely individual desires rather than by socially meaningful and viable ones.

Such positions fail to recognize that our culture has a huge interest in encouraging and supporting healthy marriages, much moreso than it ever did to encourage or support home-ownership. The nuclear family provides the basic building block of stability for the culture, doing so in an almost unseen way. The family structure holds our society together much like the threads holding the individual squares comprising a quilt. Without those threads, we become a mere collection of squares, chaotically strewn across the landscape. That collection may be many things, but it is not a cohesive whole; nor is it a quilt.

As Helen Alvare has shown, the family is a place of love, a place where attentive, secure, and sacrificial love can develop. Through that love, marriage is characterized by an openness to life and bringing new life into the world. As such, marriage becomes a family where children learn to give and receive love. If that kind of love is not experienced as a child in a family, it becomes increasingly difficult to develop those abilities as one matures. Moreover, a family provides the long-term commitment necessary to raise slow-maturing human lives. Government clearly should encourage that behavior. Healthy citizens are made and raised in marriages and families, and economically stable citizens live in those same marriages over the long haul.

The evidence uniformly demonstrates that children who do not benefit from a two-parent home face greater odds in life's most basic tasks. They are more likely to develop substance abuse issues, more likely to land in the criminal justice system, and less likely to complete their education. The social costs of government's endorsing merely tolerable, as opposed to encouraging best, marriage and family behaviors are enormous. With good reason, family advocates remind us that if a person gets three things right in life (finish high school, get married after the age of 20, and wait to have babies until married), there is an 8% chance of their living in poverty sometime during their life. Get one or more of those wrong, and there is a 79% chance of your living in poverty at some point in your life.

Moreover, the government has a large, vested interest in encouraging what is best for children rather than merely blessing what is tolerable or what is accepted as the lowest common denominator. To fail to encourage settings which are best for children invites further cultural chaos and deterioration. For example, the ever-rising tide of out-of-wedlock births will likely have a continuing snowball effect as each successive generation becomes less able than the one before it to provide stability and security for its own children.

Marriage is a gift, something to be cherished and nurtured. Marriage and family are among God's greatest gifts to us. Marriage provides a bedrock for our society, an underlying foundation of stability for children. However, marriage is not a right, something to which each of us is entitled, any more than home-ownership is a right. Not everyone is designed for marriage. Marriage may be a gift, but it is not the only gift, nor is it a gift absolutely intended for everyone.

The total union, commitment, and fidelity of a marriage between a man and a woman is a beautiful thing when done well. Is it always done well? Of course not. But that does not mean that the government or our society should therefore dumb down the definition of marriage to bless any configuration an individual might desire. Nor should we continue to stand and applaud the trend toward incomplete homes and fatherless children in the name of feminism and women's rights. The stakes simply are too high, for all of us.


Palestine victim of Arab betrayal

INTERNATIONAL donors pledged almost $4.5 billion in aid for Gaza earlier this month. During the past few years it has been very painful for me to witness the deteriorating humanitarian situation in that narrow strip where I lived as a child in the 1950s.

The media tends to attribute Gaza's decline solely to Israeli military and economic actions against Hamas. But such a myopic analysis ignores the problem's root cause: 60 years of Arab policy aimed at cementing the Palestinian people's status as stateless refugees to use their suffering as a weapon against Israel. As a child in Gaza in the '50s, I experienced the early results of this policy. Egypt, which controlled the territory then, conducted guerilla-style operations against Israel from Gaza. My father commanded these operations, carried out by Palestinian fedeyeen (Arabic for self-sacrifice).

Back then, Gaza was already the front line of the Arab jihad against Israel. My father was assassinated by Israeli forces in 1956. It was in those years that the Arab League started its Palestinian refugee policy. Arab countries implemented special laws designed to make it impossible to integrate the Palestinian refugees from the 1948 Arab war against Israel.

Even descendants of Palestinian refugees who are born in another Arab country and live there their entire lives can never gain that country's passport. Even if they marry a citizen of an Arab country, they cannot become citizens of their spouse's country. They must remain Palestinian even though they may have never set foot in the West Bank or Gaza.

This policy of forcing a Palestinian identity on these people for eternity and condemning them to a miserable life in a refugee camp was designed to perpetuate and exacerbate the Palestinian refugee crisis. So was the Arab policy of overpopulating Gaza. The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, whose main political support comes from Arab countries, encourages high birthrates by rewarding families with many children. Yasser Arafat said the Palestinian woman's womb was his best weapon.

Arab countries always push for classifying as many Palestinians as possible as refugees. As a result, about one-third of the Palestinians in Gaza still live in refugee camps. For 60 years, Palestinians have been used and abused by Arab regimes and Palestinian terrorists in their fight against Israel.

Now it is Hamas, an Islamist terror organisation supported by Iran, that is using and abusing Palestinians for this purpose. While Hamas leaders hid in the well-stocked bunkers and tunnels they prepared before they provoked Israel into attacking them, Palestinian civilians were exposed and caught in the deadly crossfire between Hamas and Israeli soldiers.

As a result of 60 years of this Arab policy, Gaza has become a prison camp for 1.5 million Palestinians. Both Israel and Egypt are fearful of terrorist infiltration from Gaza - all the more so since Hamas took over - and have always maintained tight controls over their borders with Gaza. The Palestinians continue to endure hardships because Gaza continues to serve as the launching pad for terror attacks against Israeli citizens. Those attacks come in the form of Hamas missiles that indiscriminately target Israeli kindergartens, homes and businesses.

And Hamas continued these attacks more than two years after Israel withdrew from Gaza in the hope that this step would begin the process of building a Palestinian state, eventually leading to a peaceful, two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. There was no cycle of violence then, no justification for anything other than peace and prosperity. But, instead, Hamas chose Islamic jihad. Gazans' and Israelis' hopes have been met with misery for Palestinians and missiles for Israelis.

Hamas, an Iranian proxy, has become a danger not only to Israel but also to Palestinians as well as to neighbouring Arab states, which fear the spread of radical Islam could destabilise their countries.

Arabs claim they love the Palestinian people, but they seem more interested in sacrificing them. If they really loved their Palestinian brethren, they would pressure Hamas to stop firing missiles at Israel. In the longer term, the Arab world must end the Palestinians' refugee status and thereby their desire to harm Israel.

It's time for the 22 Arab countries to open their borders and absorb the Palestinians of Gaza who wish to start a new life. It is time for the Arab world to truly help the Palestinians, not use them.


In Praise of Black Conservatives

No word is more overused in public discourse today than 'courage.' A loyal viewer hailed CBS for its courage in producing Swingtown, the now defunct series detailing the sexual infidelities of married couples in the 70s (bedhopping on network TV — what a daring concept). Sean Penn was dubbed courageous for his nauseating Oscar acceptance speech, as are most liberal entertainers who spew left-wing tripe before adoring audiences.

But if going verbally against the (real or perceived) grain of public opinion defines courage, then should we not salute those black Americans who are not celebrating the presidency of Barack Obama? Black Americans who didn't vote for Obama are statistically insignificant, though we harbor that sliver of hope that Michael Steele will be the one to attract the masses of black voters that Clarence Thomas, Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice never did. Nonetheless, they can inspire us — with American rationality numbed by Obama-mania, soon we may all be black conservatives.

Just before the election, profiled Joe Hicks, a conservative radio host in Los Angeles. Hicks also heads a nonpartisan think tank that focuses on issues of race in society. He numbers among the fewer than 1 in 10 black voters who supported the McCain/Palin ticket. He is one of those described as “the marginalized of the marginalized.” A proud liberal for much of his life, when he came out as a conservative, he heard the familiar calls of 'Uncle Tom,' 'Traitor' and 'Sellout' from his colleagues.

Certainly some black conservatives were torn between their ideology and their racial identity, wanting to be part of history in electing Barack Obama. Former GOP Congressman J.C. Watts expressed his indecision and we all know how Colin Powell opted — but then was he ever a conservative in the first place?

Dena, who I met through a conservative website, was never undecided. She is a black single mother who, like Hicks, lives in Los Angeles. She proudly supported McCain/Palin (which, in LA, is brave in itself). Also like Hicks, she was a liberal for much of her life. She desperately wants more for herself and her son. She would love to be married someday, though in the meantime she relies on her own grit and determination and the support of friends and her church to help her through tough times. She reveres Dr. King's memory and one of her greatest recollections is of having once seen Rosa Parks. Not only does President Obama not factor into her unwavering optimism, she can't stand the guy, mainly for his stances on abortion and increasing dependency on the federal government, referring to him merely by his first and third initials.

If Joe Hicks and Dena — and Alan Keyes and Larry Elder and Star Parker and Thomas Sowell — don't amount to profiles in courage, they certainly earn points for marching to their own beat. Conservatism has never been chic, but now with Obama it is all but marginalized and black conservatives are often more reviled than their white counterparts. They are perceived as betraying the legacy of the Civil Rights Movement and, thus, their own people. Few were offended that Clarence Thomas was portrayed as a lawn jockey in editorial cartoons. Even moderate Republican Condoleeza Rice was graphically depicted in Civil War-era stereotype for her loyalty to President Bush and barely an eyebrow was raised. Certainly knowing that our nation's major parties are both headed by black men should make Americans proudly aware of our progress, but that fact has yet to resonate. It's still Barack Obama's moment. Say what you will about them, black conservatives have little to gain personally by standing on conviction. In the words of Joe Hicks, “If I wanted to be on the winning side, I'd be sitting here telling you how great Obama is.”

More here

EU rules to abolish part-time British firemen

The extension of the European Working Time Directive will force the majority of firefighters, who are part-time, to choose between their day job and covering for the emergency services. Even the time they are on call is calculated by Brussels as part of their working week. Around 90 per cent of Britain is protected by retained firefighters.

The Chief Fire Officers' Association has warned that the Fire Service "could not function effectively" and predicts that 13,200 retained firefighter posts will be regulated out of existence by the EU.

The Conservative Party, which is opposing the change, has predicted that council taxes will also have to rise sharply as local authorities will be forced to pay more permanent rather than part-time staff. The Tories have warned that the tax on band D properties could rise by between £59 to £167-a-year.

Last week the Daily Telegraph reported that patients face a significant increase in waiting times for operations because "insane'' European rules mean doctors' hours will be cut so much by the 48-hour week rule that they will not be able to cope.

Fire chiefs have warned that they too will not be able to cope as they are the only ones in Europe who depend so heavily on part-time workers.

David Dalziel, Secretary of the Chief Fire Officers Association in Scotland, said: "The potential loss of the individual opt-out in the UK would have catastrophic effects." In Scotland there are only 76 full-time stations, compared with 248 part-time.

Mr Dalziel added: "These men and women provide the national resilience and emergency response to natural and man made disaster, major incidents and other emergencies crewing two out of every three fire stations in the country. They hold other jobs in their local communities and also provide around 120 hours availability every week of the year to deliver a local fire and rescue service. Any adverse impact on that would expose this country to an unacceptable level of risk."

Philip Dunne, the Tory MP who chairs the Commons All-Party Parliamentary group on rural services, said that his Shropshire constituency was typical of rural Britain with only three of the 23 stations manned by full-time firefighters.

He said: "This European decision threatens to leave residents of many areas in Britain, particularly rural areas, without fire fighting protection. It's putting lives at risk. The UK is the only country in Europe to have fire protection provided by part-time paid firefighters. So other EU countries are not concerned by this problem."

Caroline Spelman, the Shadow Local Government secretary, said: "This will be yet another blow to rural services. Lives will be put at risk through reduced fire cover, and the fire levy on council tax will have to rise even more."

Glyn Morgan, chief executive of the Fire Officers Association, said: "There is a widespread fear that these EU changes will potentially have an adverse impact on safety and lead to reduced fire cover particularly in remote and rural areas where nearly all the firefighters are retained."

In North Wales there are 550 retained – or part-time – firefighters who hold down full-time jobs while still making themselves available to fight fires in their communities. Dorset has 26 fire stations, but only eight fire engines are manned by full-time crews. The other 33 are manned by retained firefighters, who usually have full-time jobs but spend up to 120 hours a week on call in their homes or workplaces.



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 readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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