April 25, 2008
Now and again a great writer comes along and hits the nail on the head by vividly describing a particular problem or social ill. Well, Quin Hillyer, associate editor for the Washington Examiner and a senior editor of The American Spectator, has written a terrific article illustrating how bad broadcast TV programs have become: the level of indecency, vulgarity, and nastiness on TV just seems to grow more intense daily with no abatement in sight. Combined with a Vesuvius-like eruption of indignation, Hillyer gives a stunning description of one show he saw while waiting to catch a basketball game. Hillyer then launches the equivalent of an anti-p.c. nuclear bomb: a call for all decent Americans to proudly demand censorship of the public television airwaves.
His battlecry made me wonder whether censorship is even the correct word for taking adolescent trash like the show he describes off the air. Isnt there some minimal qualitative level to which a piece of art must attain or pretend to attain before a grandiose term like censorship can be applied to said programs eradication ?
Quin, excellent analysis with a terrific bonus rant thrown in. I salute you and hope the game was worth the wait.
April 25, 2008
Last week, the Associated Press reported the story that a Yale University art student over a nine-month period had artificially inseminated herself, self-induced repeated abortions and saved the blood to showcase in her senior performance art project.
In the media blitz that followed, it was soon revealed that the student had feigned both the pregnancies and miscarriages. The entire project is an art piece, a creative fiction designed to draw attention to the ambiguity surrounding form and function of a womans body, said Helaine Klasky, a university spokeswoman.
Yale officials went on to issue the following statement, “Had these acts been real, they would have violated basic ethical standards and raised serious mental and physical health concerns.”
We would agree with Yale’s statement that the reported project would have “violated basic ethical standards and raised serious mental and physical health concerns.” Reflecting on the artistic interpretation of the project though, one could view this student’s purported experiments with her body for her art as “choice” to the nth degree. The pro-abortion movement would like for women to have the complete “freedom” to do what they would like with their bodies for their own individual purposes, regardless of the harms it may cause to them or others. In an effort to avoid pregnancy, anything goes including repeated drug-induced abortions or miscarriages with poorly regulated drugs which can disrupt women’s regular cycles, and disregard for resultant physical and psychological consequences.
In the end, it was not so much the ambiguity surrounding form and function of a womans body that was highlighted, but rather clarity that the project operated within a vacuum of a misplaced notion of both freedom and true choice; devoid of care for the woman, the bond between a mother and her child, and the miracle of the beginning of life.
April 24, 2008
Senator Hillary Clinton made news during a recent TV interview when she was asked what her reaction would be if Iran attacked Israel with nuclear weapons. She left little ambiguity:
I want the Iranians to know that if Im the president we will attack Iran, Clinton said. In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them.
As a friend of Israel, I am glad to see strong support expressed for that nation. Hopefully, this will clarify the thinking of the radical clerics who control Iran. That being said, Senator Clintons remarks address only part of the problem.
It is true that Iran might someday lob several of its new missiles at Israels cities after they have been armed with nuclear warheads. That would devastate Israel and might kill tens or hundreds of thousands depending on the size of the devices exploded. But missiles can be traced back to their launch points within seconds, and devastating Israeli not American retaliatory attacks would be launched against Iran within hours. Thus, Iran might effectively destroy Israel, but Persian civilization would almost certainly come to an end that day.
Given the assured devastation that would follow is it likely that Iran would go down that path? The real problem lies in the possibility that the Iranians or North Koreans or Pakistanis might allow a non-state terrorist organization to have a nuclear device that would be smuggled into Israel or downtown Manhattan with no trace-back being possible.
When a smuggled bomb goes off against whom do you retaliate? Should there be an announced policy of deterrence simultaneously directed at all rogue regimes? Something like: Alright, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan if an American city is attacked with nuclear weapons, there will be swift retaliation against all of you.
It was in light of this problem that the eradication of Saddams Iraq regime was so important, for the United States eliminated one of the more significant states that had a long track record of working with and harboring international terrorist organizations. Things have been difficult in Iraq since 2003, but we clearly have one fewer terror accomplice state to worry about now.
Mrs. Clinton has started an important public discussion, but it is astounding that in the six years since 9/11 very little has been done by the United States government to advance our thinking about multi-level deterrence in an age of jihadist and state-sponsored terror. This is especially surprising if one can remember the prodigious body of work that grew out of the Cold War addressing the problem of deterring nuclear war. Entire institutions like the Rand Corporation were created to examine those dire threats. Deterring Soviet nuclear attack was taken seriously.
Unless I have missed something, there has been no similar effort since 9/11. Perhaps, the three presidential candidates can follow-up on Senator Clintons remark by telling us how they plan to deter the use of nuclear weapons against Israel, Europe, or the United States by an alliance, coalition, or temporary partnership of jihadists and nuclear capable states.
April 23, 2008
Sad news came over the weekend that Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo had departed this life for the next. He is likely best known as the head of the Pontifical Council on the Family, but before being appointed to that post, he was a Catholic bishop in Columbia, and head of the conference of Catholic bishops of Latin America. In those roles, he was a fearless champion of orthodox Christianity, most famously in leading Vatican efforts to correct the mistakes of liberation theology. His life was threatened multiple times, and he escaped assassination attempts on several occasions only through the Lords grace.
He was appointed a Cardinal at a very young age 46. Thus, he was one of the longest serving of the Cardinals. When he came to the leadership of the Pontifical Council on the Family about 20 years ago, he convened successive meetings to examine the latest knowledge in demographics, sex education, morality, and bioethics. He also began the practice of holding World Meetings of Families every 3 years.
One of his achievements was producing the Lexicon. This book, by multiple authors, examined ambiguous and debatable terms regarding family life and ethical questions that anti-life and anti-family forces use internationally to advance their agenda.
Cardinal Lopez Trujillo was a leader not of Catholics only, but of all people of good will who support the natural family founded upon the marriage of one man and one woman. He enthusiastically supported the pro-family efforts of non-Catholic Christians, and collaborated with them, and with religious believers of other faiths, in the great work of promoting and protecting the family. His leadership will be sorely missed.
April 22, 2008
Last week in its e-newsletter, eHarmony published an article promoting high-risk promiscuous behavior and “one night stands.” Over the weekend, my wife and I wrote an op-ed published by Worldnetdaily.com responding to “Navigating the One Night Stand.” We have received many supportive emails from other eHarmony couples hoping that eHarmony would issue an apology.
Last night, eHarmony released a statement retracting the article and apologizing to its readers. We fully accept the apology and are greatly encouraged that the statement calls the article “completely inconsistent” with the relationship service that they offer to their members.
After posting the Worldnetdaily.com op-ed, I did more research on Dr. Neil Clark Warren, founder of eHarmony. I found that he has made past statements opposing sex outside of marriage. An article from the May 18, 2005 edition of USA Today noted Dr. Warren’s opposition to premarital sex because it “clouds decisions” in dating relationships. I believe that eHarmony can continue to expand its market and maintain its brand name reputation by holding firm to the values that have made it so successful.
eHarmony’s members would further benefit by a conversation about why this behavior is “inconsistent” with the company’s mission statement. For example, Dr. Warren could explain his opposition to sex outside of marriage and engage in a dialogue with his readers about the dangers associated with pre-marital sex and cohabitation. Cohabitation has been a stealth killer of marriage on two levels. Cohabitation is a cancer at the front end by diverting tens of millions of people from getting married at all. There were 21 million never married Americans in 1970 but three times as many in 2006. Those who cohabit are 50% more likely to divorce than those who never live together. The “Navigating the One Night Stand” article encourages this pattern. However, thorough marriage preparation with an inventory test and mentorship by an older couple can provide an amazing 97% track record of success. Mike and Harriet McManus are a couple leading the way to reverse these troubling statistics. Mike and Harriet are founders of Marriage Savers and authors of the new book Living Together: Myths, Risks, and Answers. They would make excellent contributors to the eHarmony advice website.
Some of eHarmony’s readers may not agree with Dr. Warren’s stance on premarital sex - but I think they would appreciate and respect eHarmony for remaining grounded in its determination to fulfill its mission to “help couples achieve stronger, healthier and happier marriages.” Premarital sex does exactly the opposite by undermining - and yes - “clouding decisions.” Promoting the healthiest and most beneficial outcome which is abstinence until marriage would help eHarmony make great strides toward achieving the goals of their mission statement.
However, most importantly, I thank eHarmony for recognizing its mistake and making it clear that they wish to remain in the values-matching service business.
April 17, 2008
The Institute for American Values just released a groundbreaking report this week called “The Taxpayer Costs of Divorce and Unwed Childbearing” [PDF]. Using very conservative calculations, the study estimates that fragmented families cost the American taxpayer at least $112 billion a year. Put another way, over the last five years American taxpayers have spent $500 billion on the war in Iraq and $560 billion on broken families.
April 16, 2008
There has been a flurry of attention in recent weeks over the revelation that a female-to-male transgender (that is, a person born female who now self-identifies as male) is currently pregnant. Although she had her breasts removed and took male hormones (which allowed her to grow a beard), this woman chose not to have her sexual organs altered as part of her transition to manhood. Still possessed of a uterus, this individual has now become pregnant by artificial insemination. Both as the butt of jokes and as a pop culture phenomenon (as certified by an appearance on Oprah), this person has been widely referred to as the pregnant man.
We owe a debt of thanks, therefore, to Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby for pointing out the obviousthat Tracy LaGondino, who now uses the name Thomas Beatie, is not, in fact, a man at all, but a woman with a serious psychiatric problem known as Gender Identity Disorder. The sensation surrounding this pregnancy should remind us yet again of the ironyand utter absurdityof the claims of the homosexual and transgender movement. They would have us believe (on no evidence whatsoever) that homosexuality is genetic, fixed at birth, and immutable; while our sex, which is written in the chromosomes of every cell of our bodies, is malleable and can be changed at will.
April 15, 2008
In the last week a story from England has gained considerable notoriety due to the troubling questions it raises about the political neutrality of searches conducted by Google, the internet search behemoth. In March 2008, Englands Christian Institute (the Institute) informed Google U.K. that it wished to place this ad (see below) to promote its pro-life papers when Google visitors searched for abortion service websites:
In an e-mail dated March 19, 2008, Google U.K. denied the Institutes request to place the advertisement on pages producing abortion-related search results. Google stated that it denied placement because Google policy does not permit the advertisement of websites that contain abortion and religion-related content. Additionally, Google noted that it retained the right to exercise editorial discretion when it comes to the advertising we accept on our site.
No further explanation was given until April 10th, when Google U.K.s media office issued the following comment: We only allow ads that have factual information about abortion.
Googles insulting comment speaks volumes about the companys prejudices. My quick review of papers posted on the Institutes website found studies that thoughtfully combined Christian Biblical teaching, Christian ethical analysis, accurate discussion of scientific facts, and reasonable public policy conclusions. For example, the 76-page study on the Morning-After-Pill is very well reasoned even if does not come to the same conclusions Googles staff would reach about the ethics of using emergency contraception.
Well, this story will continue to develop because the Institutes attorneys wrote to Google informing them that the companys actions violate the U.K.s Equality Act of 2006. Apparently, that law prohibits religious discrimination in the provision of a good, facility or service, and the Institutes attorneys believe its actions fall within protections afforded by the law. If courts in the United Kingdom interpret such laws in a manner similar to the way an American court would, the Institute probably has a good case.
This will be an important legal contest for the United Kingdom should it go to court. If Christian organizations can be banned from advertising on pages produced by specific search terms then freedom of speech on the internet is in grave danger. If push comes to shove, Google may find that millions upon millions of Christian web users can take their searches elsewhere, and Googles stock price has already lost around $300 from its 52-week high.
April 11, 2008
I am not quite sure what has gotten into Dick Armey these days, but he sure is grumpy. He opened fire this week on a proposal that we have floated calling upon the White House to establish a Family Czar to revive an initiative first undertaken by Ronald Reagan.
Armey not only misses the target on almost every point, his facts are wrong, including his claim that I endorsed a Republican presidential candidate that he opposed. I didnt endorse; my role at FRC is not to elect presidents, but to shape policy and that is exactly what we are proposing with the idea of a Family Czar.
Armey mistakenly claims we are calling for the creation of more government intrusion into the lives of Americas families. Like Mr. Armey, I have a legislative record that is solidly conservative, for limited and smaller government. I hold to my conservative credentials and our proposal reflects them. Mr. Armeys disregard for the importance of strong families is shocking. If we are willing to create issue-specific White House policy coordinators, some of whom the media has deemed czars, is it too much to ask the government to recognize the value of the family and our need to strengthen rather than usurp it?
Ronald Reagan understood the fact that America as a country could be no stronger than its families; that is why he had a quasi-family czar in domestic policy advisor Gary Bauer. That is why in 1987, by executive order 12606, President Reagan pushed the traditional family to the forefront in Washington by requiring government agencies to consider the impact their policies would have on families before issuing them. The measure was designed to block intrusive federal action and slow the growth of government. Among the orders strong provisions was a requirement that federal agencies ask whether a planned action helps the family perform its functions, or does it substitute governmental activity for the function?
When families prosper the nation prospers. Unfortunately, President Clinton rescinded the executive order when he took office. Efforts to pass the measure through Congress during Mr. Armeys watch were unsuccessful. Had it succeeded there is little doubt the gains of the Left would have been braked not accelerated.
Working off the language of President Reagans Executive Order 12606, I wrote and passed The Family Impact Statement legislation in my home state of Louisiana. I am convinced it will be a valuable tool in the hands of a true conservative like Governor Bobby Jindal, and I think it would be a good step for a White House committed to the traditional family unit. Calling on government to consider the impact of its proposals on the family, whether it is the strength of the marital commitment, the rights of parents to raise their children as they see fit, or the familys budget, is a conservative idea. But to give it life, the family must be given priority. Im not wedded to the term Family Czar, and the images it unintentionally evokes certainly give Mr. Armey a bone to pick, but he can rest assured we support solutions that push authority and financial resources back to the smallest government of all, the home.
April 11, 2008
Inner-city Catholic schools are rapidly vanishing, according to the Thomas B. Fordham Institutes new report, Who Will Save Americas Urban Catholic Schools? Since 1990, 1,300 Catholic schools have closed, displacing 300,000 students and costing taxpayers $20 billion to absorb these students into public schools. These closures have had little to do with performance and much to do with Catholics leaving the inner cities for suburbia.
The report calls on parishioners, philanthropists, and others who recognize the quality educational option Catholic schools can provide, even to non-Catholics, to support these inner-city schools directly and through development and marketing plans that will ensure Catholic schools remain a vibrant and valuable player in American education.