Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sarcasm Rebound

I find it hilarious that in an article calling people stupid for their band names, the authors tell the band Def Leppard to "save people the energy of mocking you," but then illustrate the post with a shot from the made-for-VH1-so-bad-it's-good "Hysteria, the Def Leppard Story" and not the actual band. Hey Cracked guys: This is the band.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The "civil rights" fallacy.

There's an internal contradiction in position of gay marriage supporters who insist that marriage is a civil right, but claim that civil unions not called marriage but affording full marriage benefits are not sufficient. Is it the "rights" you want, then the rights you should get - why should you care what they're called? The answer, of course, is that what they want is to be considered "normal," so they want to their relationships called the same thing that "normal" relationships are called. By insisting on the name, you're changing from a negative right to a positive right - you want to force others to have to call you married, no matter what their consciences tell them to do.

Neither am I convinced by the argument that two gay people married doesn't affect whether my husband and I get divorced. It's my kid that I'm worried about, the culture she's going to grow up in. I want her to grow up and get married to a husband she loves so that she can experience having children of her own. I want to have the legal right to teach her morality and to express a preference for heterosexual marriage within the strictures of my conscience and faith without having her public school teachers undermining me. I want children in need of adopting to have the opportunity to be placed in a home with a mother and a father. I want religious-based adoption services to be able to express a preference for heterosexual married couples without being shut down (see: Catholic charities in Massachusetts).

Definitionally, marriage cannot be between two people of the same gender. Marriage is between a man, a woman, and God. Homosexual behavior is forbidden by God. So that's where the religious people are coming from. Calling a state-sanctioned homosexual union a "marriage" is an affront to their beliefs. That's not negotiable for people of faith. But I think they do a disservice to the cause of religion in general by stopping there, because the fact is, a lot of people hear you say "God" and go, "that doesn't apply to me." I think religious people should do better explaining why marriage should be between a man and a woman in secular terms when appealing to secular people. Otherwise, they are going to think that your statement of faith is merely arbitrary bigotry and they're going to become even more prejudiced against believers.

I think there are purely secular reasons for allowing the state to define marriage as between a man and a woman. The state has a HUGELY compelling interest, I would say primary interest, in its own self-preservation. Procreative unions are necessary both for the continuation of the state and the continuation of the state-as-we-know-it. Husband/wife led families can raise children who are knowledgable and comfortable with the idea of procreative unions of their own. Can gay people raise heterosexual children? Of course, but if you're talking about incentives, pushes, that could make the next generation engage in reproductive unions occur earlier and more frequently. With birth rates falling to below replacement rates in industrialized nations around the world, I think the governmental differentiation between hetero- and homo-sexual unions passes legal muster. It makes a hell of a lot more sense to me than other government social engineering plans (see: mortgage interest deduction).

I also see danger in expanding the definition of marriage because it is susceptible to being defined out of existence. I don't have a problem with the state recognizing heterosexual marriages that will not result in children because of the enforcement problem - bad enough for the state to interfere with one's uterus, but God help us when it starts burrowing up into the ovaries to take a peek before issuing licenses. But if definitionally non-reproductive unions are permitted that are called "marriage," protected by law from having people express any preferenecs contrary to those unions, but conferring all the same benefits, that 1) dilutes the benefit to the state that accrues by favoring heterosexual marriage and 2) in doing so, places a higher calculus on legal reasons, as opposed to procreative reasons, when determining whether to bond. I don't think even the gay marriage activists can deny that allowing two people of the same gender to "marry" requires a radical cultural shift from any kind of understanding of "marriage" that has existed in the past. The nonmarried will feel like suckers for not marrying, for example, their college roommates to get in-state tuition as a married spouse, because everyone knows that you just sign a piece of paper and get benefits. Unlike heterosexual marriages, there is no accompanying risk of children to offset that legal benefit.

I see the defining out of existence thing happening with "human" rights. Animal rights people who want to grant some limited rights to chimpanzees as our nearest human relatives (see: France), and then how it's a violation of animal rights to eat meat at all, even though humans have been doing so since the dinosaurs (that's a Sarah Palin joke), but purportedly serious people think that robots and plants should have rights too (see: "flowers shouldn't be decapitated needlessly" people - which, flowers don't have heads, those are really their reproductive organs you're cutting off when you pick a bloom, but that's not somewhere you really want to go, do you?). And then human rights mean nothing, people wonder why we treat chimps any different than babies, and actual human fetuses aren't entitled to everything because we're all the same and we eat meat, so why should that matter. Ditto animal-human hybrids geneticists work to create in the name of medical research. WTF? Conclusion: You start defining things away from their essential meanings, and then your definition no longer means anything and the meaning itself is devalued.

I hate the way these gay "rights" debates have created and calcified divisions in our society. These debates always seem to presuppose that, for example, I am a heterosexual because I am wholly fulfilled in a relationship with a man, notwithstanding that there are extremely few men and probably a very few women with whom that could be the case. There are so many ways for human beings to be intimate with each other, sexually, emotionally, psychically. But if one kind of intimacy is stimulated by one kind of situation, you have to jump into the gay box or the straight box or the bi-box. If you enjoy/need emotionally intimate relationships with girlfriends, even physically affectionate relationships, then you're a lesbian, even though you may not want those same girlfriends touching you certain places (I'm thinking of Anne Shirley's "bosom friends" - people don't touch each other the way they used to). And because I don't get out much, I'm thinking of Dumbledore and Grindelwald - here we've read about this faceted, intense, tumultuous, and meaningful relationship between the two men, but then here comes J.K. Rowling months later saying "Dumbledore is gay" and now we're not thinking about the relationship in its uniquely fascinating ways, we're thinking (I'm thinking) oh, Dumbledore likes male members in a certain portion of his own anatomy, throw him in the queer box, now we know where to put him.

Everything about today's debate reduces human relationships to orifices and appendages. I think it's sad.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The end of bigotry? Um, no.

I'm interested to see how the newly dominant leftists will disclaim their bigoted fringe. Expressions of racism on the left (for example, the Clarence Thomas hearings) haven't been seen as part of the Democratic mainstream because of the Democrats explicit focus on promotion of minority issues. Pro-border enforcement Republicans get unfairly tarred as racists because there are some racists that support enforcement and there is no real focus on minority issues in the Republican platform (because the focus is on equality of opportunity for all people, not particular groups). What will the Democrats do if the American mainstream starts to believe that the Democratic agenda is a mere pretext for anti-Christian bigotry?

The Christianist popular front began with the Romney strategy. Then it morphed into Prop 8, funded by $20 million of Mormon money. The leadership of the LDS church has every right to do this; but equally gay people and their families now have every right to highlight the Mormon church as an enemy of civil rights and of gay people everywhere. This will be decried as bigotry. But gays are not fighting to remove the civil rights of Mormons; but Mormons have successfuly campaigned to remove the civil rights of gays.

. . .

Gay people have every right to regard the Mormon church hierarchy as a mortal enemy.

This today from everyone's favorite anti-Israel gay gossip conspiracy blogger at the Atlantic, to whom I will not link. Note how he admits his own bigotry and then doubles down, justifing bigotry as a political counter-tactic and proclaiming that the faith leaders of millions of Americans are his mortal enemies.

There are undoubtedly anti-Christian bigots. There are, in all likelihood, Democrats, the party most overtly concerned about the separation of church and state. Their platform provides no cover for this particular expression of bigotry. But does the Democratic mainstream want us to believe they're all engaged in a battle against "The Christianist Front"? I'm very interested to see how the mainstream left deals with its bigoted fringe.

87% of Americans self-identify as Christians. Letting Andrew Sullivan set the tone of Democratic governance is not, I'm guessing, going to serve the Democratic party well electorally.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes Yes Yes!

Obama-voting Althouse asks the exact right question:

So who are the frontrunners for 2012?

That's the wrong question. The right question is: What can Republicans do to make us want them again?

And I'm going to put the "lameness" tag on this post in anticipation of the answer: Sit back and wait for the Democrats to screw up.

We need to make the case for our candidates and our message and start doing it now. Human beings aren't perfect, politicians especially, but we need to not only keep the supporters we had, but convince MORE people.

Sarah Palin, I'm looking at you. She's one of our most promising up-and-comers, but after her public filleting we're going to find a way to get more people on her/our side. This is going to take discipline.

It feels like morning in July.

It's going to be a very long day. The Republican party needs to rebuild the brand, making the most of the current retreat to build its strength back up and get ready for our next moment of opportunity. We're going to have to be smart about it.

Knives out for Obama is not going to work, not for awhile. The fact is, Obama doesn't need us. He's got the votes, the House and Senate, and the "mandate." For right now, let's let him have it. We believe in conservative principles because we know that's what leads to the best results for Americans. Let's let America see the full effect of the policies of the left now that the Obama/Reid/Pelosi Democrats don't have the political cover of "ooh the nasty Republicans wouldn't let us HELP you." It will be easier to take power from the Dems if we let them self-destruct.

We know so little about Obama, but there's one thing we know for a fact: Obama wants to be popular, but he'll always take the path of least resistance. Obama wants us right now, to prove his bipartisan unity credentials, but he doesn't need us. If we send the message that he cannot win us over, he will not try. We won't help ourselves by undermining what little power over public opinion we may still have. And ultimately, being seen as not trying to tear him down will add to our credibility and hasten the day when power will shift back to us.

In shaping the new party, we need to get past ideology and back to values. Ideology is too flimsy a tentpole for the big one we need. We can't all agree on the best way to achieve a good, safe, prosperous country, but we need to make sure that American knows that those are our goals. We don't believe in, for example, free trade or free markets for their own sakes, we believe in them because as a practical matter, these policies work to actually help people. America doubts our motives.

We need better candidates. Drumming the non-ideologically "pure" out of the party isn't going to help us. We're better off with Peggy Noonan with us than against us. Intra-party wars aren't going to help. I don't want to see the hinted-at Romney vs. Palin bloodbath. Let's not let the Democrats win this war through attrition.

Finally, we need to build a better grassroots, with the aim of getting our message out no matter what the media does. The MSM knows its got egg on its face for its campaign coverage, and it's going to try to regain credibility by picking at its newly annointed. There are those on the left who believe that the media is biased against them, and the media's newfound "integrity" is going to add fuel to that fire. We need to build a culture that marginalizes and dissipates the power of the old media. Turning off the TV seems like a good place to start. Any kind of information monopoly needs to be busted. The more channels of information everyone has, the better it is for us because our message is better.

I'm relieved that the election is over. We know where we stand. We don't need to lose anymore soliders fighting this one. We lost. All of our resources need to be put into making ourselves better, because America is going to need us, and probably sooner than it thinks.