"A government big enough to give you everything you want is strong enough to take away everything you have."

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Obamacare case ruling

is expected around 10am.  I'm hitting refresh every few minutes.  I hope it comes through before I have to leave the house...

A little bit of a sick feeling.  We shall see...

Sunday, June 24, 2012

October Baby DVD and a special bonus

I heard about this and thought it was too good an opportunity not to share.  The movie October Baby is coming out in September and is now available for prebuy (is that a word?). For every prebuy copy purchased through Family Christian Stores (at only $13.99) they will donate an additional copy to a local pregnancy resource center.  Now that's a great deal!

I think this movie is well worth seeing, and who knows how God could use it in the life of a woman or couple experiencing a crisis pregnancy.  I encourage you to look into it this opportunity if you can!  

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Religious Liberty, Part II

This article from National Review Online about a sexual orientation discrimination case in New Mexico is a must read.  In the case, an Albuquerque photography studio run by a husband/wife team declined to provide photography for a same-sex commitment ceremony based on the religious beliefs of the owners.  The state's Human Rights Commission found Elane Photography guilty of discrimination based on sexual orientation in 2008, and last month the state's Court of Appeals upheld this ruling. According to the Court, the studio provides services to the public and therefore has no free speech protections under the First Amendment.

I think this ruling represents a grave threat to religious liberty.  As the article points out, photography is a highly personal, creative, and artistic pursuit that is entirely different from the services of a restaurant or department store.  And art has long been recognized by the courts as a personal form of expression protected under the First Amendment.  In fact, in their initial e-mail request for photography services, the lesbian couple asked for a photographer to help "celebrate" their commitment ceremony.  Clearly, forcing a photographer to lend her artistic skill to celebrate something to which she has a conscientious objection is nothing less than government coercion and a violation of the photographer's right of free speech.  And for that matter, would it not be in the lesbian couple's best interest to find a photographer that was supportive of their ceremony, assuming that their goal was to get the best photos possible of the event?  What couple would want someone taking pictures of their wedding who was compelled to do so against her will?  There is little doubt that the couple bringing the suit could have easily found a first-rate photographer who would gladly have helped to celebrate their ceremony, but instead they chose to pursue a political agenda that involved trying to shutter a business whose owners disapproved of their lifestyle choice.  In fact, this whole case provides support for my previous argument that the push for same-sex marriage is really about forcing societal approval of homosexuality. 

The logical result of this ruling is to effectively bar all individuals with traditional religious beliefs (Christians, Jews, and Muslims, to name a few) from the wedding photography business, since they cannot in good conscience celebrate same-sex marriage.  And, as the article notes, what about writers, videographers, graphic designers, clothing designers, and others?  Logically, under this decision they would also be forced to enter into contracts to offer their services on behalf of causes with which they disagree.  Already, in Kentucky a T-shirt company has had legal action brought against it for refusing to make shirts for a gay pride parade.  If this ruling holds, discrimination laws in certain cities would force marketing agencies to work for political organizations like the Communist Party USA.  If free speech means anything at all, it should mean that individuals and businesses have the right to make their own decisions when it comes to personal and creative services governed by private contracts.  And no one should be forced to use their marketable skills on behalf of a cause that violates their conscience.  If this ruling stands, it is a severe blow to both freedom of religion and freedom of speech.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Religious Liberty, Part I

This morning I was listening to the radio broadcast of Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk program.  The guest was Kelly Shackelford, the president of the Liberty Institute which provides legal defense for attacks against religious liberty.  Shackelford was talking about the case of the Mojave Desert Memorial Cross, which was constructed more than 75 years ago in the middle of the desert to honor veterans of World War I.  The ACLU sued to force the removal of this memorial -- since we all know what a threat to our Constitution this is! -- and a lower court and a court of appeals both agreed with the ACLU that it was unconstitutional.  During the appeals process, the court ordered the deeply offensive cross to be covered with a bag and chain so that no one who happened to be passing by in the middle of the desert would be subjected to looking at anything that could be construed as a religious symbol.  Eventually, the case made its way to the Supreme Court, where the memorial was upheld as constitutional in a 5-4 decision.  After the Supreme Court's decision, some brave champions of the Constitution tore down and stole the monument.  An exact replica was quickly constructed, but the Obama Administration has refused to allow it to be put up despite the Supreme Court's ruling and despite the pleas of numerous veterans' organizations across the country, since the legal proceedings apparently have not yet been officially closed.  This is just one of many attacks by the ACLU and the Freedom From Religion Foundation against veterans' memorials and other public displays that include religious symbols, with the goal being the complete of eradication of religious expression in the public square. 

Although it is sad that so many judges, as well as the Obama Administration, have bought into an interpretation of the Constitution which is completely contrary to the intentions of the Founders and which threatens our fundamental First Amendment freedoms, it is encouraging to hear that groups like the Liberty Institute are fighting back and winning some key victories.  It is also a warning about the importance of defeating Obama in November.  If Obama gets the chance to appoint even one additional Supreme Court Justice, then all hope of winning most of these religious liberty cases is gone for probably decades.  I realize that there is some concern about the type of justices Romney would appoint as well, but his public statements as well as his website make clear that he believes in the concept of original intent and does not believe unelected judges should impose their policy preferences from the bench.  And conservatives would at least have hope of influencing his nominating decisions, unlike Obama's.  This issue alone should be sufficient reason for every conservative to cast a vote for Mitt Romney in November.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Headline Mix-Up?

In April 2012, this was Bloomberg Businessweekly's cover:

(This with the official unemployment rate above 8%, real unemployment well into double digits, anemic and slowing economic growth, soaring gas prices, a deficit near $15 trillion, and huge majorities of Americans believing the country is on the wrong track.)

A month later, this was Bloomberg Businessweekly's cover:

I'm fairly certain this magazine mixed up its headlines.  The first picture was supposed to go with the second headline.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Presidential Election Predictions

The 2012 election season is starting to heat up, and I have once again prepared my predictions for the outcome of the presidential election.  Obviously, it's still very early, and I will be updating my predictions map periodically over the next several months.  I have also made preliminary predictions for the U.S. Senate races, but these are even more subject to change because in some cases the nominees have not even been chosen yet.  At some point I will make predictions for the 2012 governor's races as well, and possibly the U.S. House races.

Here are the links:
Presidential Electoral College Predictions
U.S. Senate Predictions

UPDATE: I have now added links to my presidential, Senate, and governor election predictions on the left side of the blog.  As I update my predictions over the next few months, I will update these links as well so they will stay current.  So check back now and then for changes!

Eric Holder and Gay Parenting

These two topics are unrelated, by the way....

I have ranted against Attorney General Eric Holder many times on this blog.  I think he is nothing more than a corrupt, incompetent, race-obsessed political hack, and it is a disgrace that he occupies one of the most powerful governmental positions in this country.  Finally, in the wake of Holder's utter failure to seriously address the Fast and Furious scandal and the unprecedented leaks of classified information that are apparently coming from the White House, several prominent Republican in Congress, including Senator John Cornyn from Texas who sits on the Justice Committee, have called for Eric Holder's resignation.  Senator Cornyn lays out the reasons why Holder should resign clearly here.

I also want to follow up on the lengthy essay I published on the topic of same-sex marriage last month.  One of the issues I discussed with Some Dude in the comments to that essay was the question about how children do growing up in homes with same-sex parents compared with children being raised by both of their biological parents.  Some recent studies have claimed that there is no difference, and supporters of same-sex marriage have seized on these studies to argue that since children do not need a father and a mother to thrive there is no reason to give special recognition to traditional heterosexual marriage for the sake of the children. 

However, two studies published on June 10 in the Social Science Research journal, which is apparently a well-respected scholarly publication, raise serious questions about these claims.  One study, authored by a professor at Louisiana State University, found that previous research studies that claimed children raised by same-sex parents do just as well as children raised by married heterosexual parents were flawed and that the data from those studies was insufficient to support their claims.  The other study, authored by a professor from the University of Texas, found that children raised by lesbian parents fared worse on 24 out of 40 key developmental outcomes, and that children raised by gay parents fared worse on 19 out of 40 key developmental outcomes.  The children of gay and lesbian parents fared better on no developmental outcomes.  This study also compared other types of family structures.  The study's conclusion is that "children appear most apt to succeed well as adults—on multiple counts and across a variety of domains—when they spend their entire childhood with their married mother and father, and especially when the parents remain married to the present day.”

I have found a number of helpful articles online that provide more information and analysis of these studies.  They include an article from Fox News by Dr. Keith Ablow and a National Review article by Charles C.W. Cooke.  And legal expert Ed Whelan, also of National Review, discusses the implications of these studies on the ongoing gay marriage debate in three very helpful articles here, here, and here.  Of course, studies must be taken with a grain of salt and no one study can definitively prove anything.  But these studies are important in debunking the claim being advanced by many gay marriage advocates that science definitively proves that it makes no difference to a child whether he is raised by a mother and a father, two fathers, or two mothers.  Ultimately, my belief in the importance of fathers and mothers is not based on any study.  It is based, first of all, in my belief in God's Word and the creation order and marriage institution God established.  It is also based on the fundamental realities of biology and the clear differences between genders and between fathers and mothers.  And finally, it is based on the experience of thousands of years of culture and the mountains of evidence that demonstrate that children do best when raised by their married biological parents.

UPDATE: Another great article from National Review analyzing the recent gay parenting study and comparing it to other gay parenting studies published in recent years.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Good Guys Won!

Tuesday's governor recall election in the state of Wisconsin has been called the second most important election in 2012, and I do not believe this was an overstatement.

Scott Walker is the epitome of everything that people say they want in a political leader.  He took immediate action to address the state's massive $3.6 billion budget deficit which he inherited from his predecessor.  He came up with a plan to balance the state's budget without raising taxes and convinced the state legislature to pass it.  He courageously stood by his principles and did not back down, despite massive public protests and unfavorable polling. 

Walker's plan brought him into direct conflict with the state's public employee unions.  I wrote more about the corrupt influence of public employee unions on government and Walker's reasonable efforts to curb their power here and here.  Essentially, public employee unions have the power to force state employees to pay dues, which are then used to elect the unions' favored politicians (usually Democrats).  Those politicians, in turn, use their power to negotiate highly favorable contracts on behalf of those unions who funded their campaigns.  Michael Barone has memorably called public employee unions "a mechanism by which every taxpayer is forced to fund the Democratic party."  This vicious cycle explains why state and local government union employees make, on average, 45% more in total compensation than similar employees working in the private sector.  Walker took direct aim at this wasteful, corrupt system by proposing that government union employees pay a larger percentage of their health insurance and pension costs (still a much smaller percentage than most non-government employees), limiting collective bargaining rights of public unions for non-wage benefits of their members, and preventing unions from forcing state and local employees to pay dues.

It has now been well over a year since Walker's reforms took effect, and the evidence clearly shows they have worked.  He succeeded in eliminating that multi-billion dollar budget deficit without raising taxes.  In fact, the state's most recent budget showed a $154 million budget surplus!  Under Walker's responsible fiscal leadership, the state's economy has begun to create new jobs again.  By reducing the power of the teachers' unions, school districts around the state have saved millions of dollars and avoided sizable layoffs.  And membership in public employee unions declined significantly in the year following enactment (45% decline in AFSCME membership, per the Washington Post), suggesting that given the choice many people prefer not to be in a union at all.  These positive results have helped to change the opinions of Wisconsin voters.  Walker and his reforms were initially very unpopular in the state, but multiple polls leading up the recall election yesterday indicated that a clear majority of voters approved of Walker's job as governor and specifically of his collective bargaining reforms.  This explains why Walker's Democratic opponent almost completely stopped talking about the labor issue in the weeks leading up to the final recall vote.

In contrast to Walker's common sense solutions, the tactics of his pro-union opponents were radical and thuggish.  All the Democrats in the state senate left the state entirely to try to shut down the democratic process.  Protestors surrounded and occupied the state capitol building in Madison for months on end, shouting vile things and waving signs comparing Walker to Hitler.  So many physical threats were leveled against Republican legislators that many of them had to get police protection for their homes and businesses.  Huge numbers of teachers walked off their jobs for days and weeks at a time, shutting down schools and creating huge headaches for working parents.  And then there were the endless recalls.  The unions spent close to $100 million, first by turning a state supreme court election into a partisan drama by running a candidate who promised to legislate from the bench and overturn Walker's collective bargaining law passed by duly elected representatives of the people.  They then spent big bucks on a primary and special election to attempt to recall several Republican members of the state legislature, not for any corruption or crime while in office, but merely out of political disagreement.  A few months later, they got the necessary number of signatures to force another primary and another special election to attempt to recall Governor Walker, elected barely a year and a half earlier, and a few more Republican legislators.  Once again, the recalls were purely based on political disagreement.  For the entire year and a half period spanning all this political drama, the voters of Wisconsin were subjected to non-stop partisan rancor, campaigning, and get-out-the-vote efforts.  The unionists have literally torn the state apart.  No wonder that in the final recall election yesterday, nearly 70% of voters according to exit polls said that they believe recall elections should never be permitted or should only be permitted in the case of clear malfeasance or corruption in office.  Talk about an electorate sick of partisan politics!

I am thrilled about the outcome of this election because the good guys won.  And that doesn't seem to be something that happens much in politics these days.  Scott Walker took on one of the most powerful political interest groups in the state on behalf of the taxpayers, didn't back down in the face of some of the most extreme thuggery I've seen in politics, and ultimately won the fight because of his courage and persistance.  His success sends a powerful message to politicians everywhere that standing on principle doesn't have to be a political loser, and that elected officials don't have to kowtow to powerful special interests and go with what is easy and politically expedient in order to win elections.   (As further proof of this, the voters of San Jose and San Diego also approved initiatives limiting the power of public unions on Tuesday.)  It also sends a message that gutter politics and intimidation tactics do not always win the day.  There are still many people in this country that care about spending and deficits and will support a candidate of fiscal responsibility.  I hope this will embolden other politicians to challenge the public employee unions that are threatening their states with insolvency.

I stayed up late to watch Governor Scott Walker's speech on Tuesday night (delayed due to Barrett's refusal to concede until a couple of hours after the race was called by the networks).  The first words out of Walker's mouth (after an acknowledgement of the enthusiastic crowd) were these: "First, I want to thank God for His abundant grace."  I could hear the emotion in his voice as he spoke these very personal words, and also the next words as he thanked his wife and teenaged sons for their support.  I too felt surprisingly emotional as I heard these words.  Governor Walker and his family have been through hell over the past year and a half.  Wisconsin has been through hell over the past year and a half.  I am so thankful that God's grace sustained the governor, his family, and his supporters through this painful experience.  His grace apparently also enabled Walker to be incredibly gracious toward his political opponents in his speech, which was completely devoid of partisanship.  He said that he was the governor of all residents of Wisconsin and that he was going to work hard to bring the deeply fractured state back together.  When Walker mentioned Barrett's name and the crowd starting booing, Walker held up his hand for silence.  I guess I need more of God's grace because I wasn't feeling very forgiving and generous towards the union goons that have been so hateful toward Walker and his supporters.  I felt hungry for revenge.  I wanted to see Walker rub his big victory in their faces.  But deep down, I know that Walker's approach is right, both from God's perspective and from a practical standpoint.  It is rare indeed to find a politician who combines such incredible backbone with such a soft spoken, gracious attitude toward his enemies, and I hope that Walker has a political future beyond Wisconsin.