It’s all been done before – so why is Jenner such a big deal?

Not that I have a whole lot of choice based on all the media attention, but the story of Caitlyn Jenner rebranding herself as a woman after 65 years of being Bruce and winning the Olympic decathlon in 1976 seems to be worth writing about today.

Ironically, a simmering story underneath the headlines around the time of Jenner’s gold medal victory was the story of Renee Richards. Her name has been dimmed somewhat by the passage of time, but in the late 1970s she became a symbol of the struggle between the sexes as a former man who had the gender reassignment surgery and therapy, then competed on the women’s tennis circuit. So the world of celebrity has already been touched by this procedure, and I found it interesting that the premier athletic achievements in the lives of these two former men occurred around the same time. The Grantland story by Michael Weinreb also came well before the Jenner saga became public, and points out how others who chose to change their gender (as much as one can, anyway) were inspired to do so by Richards.

Yet a lot has changed in nearly forty years. Instead of derision and having opponents walk off the court in protect, Jenner is being embraced and rewarded for her “courage.” I suppose it’s simply the byproduct of making one’s sexuality and gender preference a public spectacle and milking it to enhance your athletic talents for another 15 minutes of fame – so you get a guy like Michael Sam, who was thought at best to be a fringe NFL prospect, becoming the most talked-about 7th round pick to ever be placed on a practice squad. (After being cut twice by NFL teams, now Sam is trying out for the Montreal Alouettes of the CFL.) Without looking them up, can you tell me the names of any of the other 7th round picks from 2014?

Similarly, Jason Collins came out as gay at the tail end of a long NBA career which ended earlier this season. While his statistics weren’t Hall of Fame material, you would have thought he was the second coming of Michael Jordan when he came out. For all we know his “courage” may be enough to land him a place in the Basketball Hall of Fame where his career stats would leave him short.

Unfortunately, those breaking the preference barrier haven’t exactly been what Jackie Robinson was to major league baseball; instead, they have had career tracks more like Moses Fleetwood Walker, who actually integrated major league baseball in 1884. (A catcher, he played at the time for the Toledo Blue Stockings in their one and only season in the American Association, then a major league. So he’s a little more familiar to those of us from northwest Ohio.)

Jenner, though, has become a symbol of something. I’m just not sure if it’s courage, the milking of past fame into making a statement – after all, if he was a welder from Pittsburgh and not an Olympic athlete, no one would be putting his female alter ego on the cover of a magazine – or, simply a sign of our times.

One answer could be gleaned from this piece by Nate Jackson of the Patriot Post, as he looks at the Jenner story from a moral and religious perspective:

Leftists don’t care about Bruce “Caitlyn” Jenner; they care about an agenda to remake our culture without good or bad, right or wrong, up or down – and most certainly without God. To them, Jenner is merely a tool who normalizes aberration. Leftists are tired of feeling guilty, so, instead of turning to their Creator, they glory in their brokenness. Dysfunction becomes virtue.

Meanwhile, the Left has duped more than half the American public into thinking homosexuals make up a far bigger part of the population than is true. Therefore, Americans are left to conclude as they checkout at the supermarket next to all those tabloids that Jenner is perfectly normal.

I would hope that most Americans don’t think Jenner is normal, because he’s not. Nor will I apologize for saying so. The vast, vast majority of people are pleased with their gender and have no intention of changing it, so why is the exception to the rule the one being admired?

Since he is my Patriot Post editor, perhaps I should give Nate the last word:

We shouldn’t worship Jenner. We should pray for him, for he needs his Creator’s healing redemption.

I agree.

The steep learning curve

Over the last few months I’ve given a little bit of attention to the campaign Ben Carson is running for President. He was one of the earliest informal entrants, in part because of a grassroots campaign that began after he spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast in 2013.

But his cause has been sidetracked by something he said on CNN the day after he announced his exploratory committee. It was in regard to same-sex marriage, which Carson opposes, but what came out of his mouth had to make all but the most ardent Carson supporters cringe. I wrote about the original comments in the Patriot Post last week. In that article I predicted that Ben’s vow to drop the issue wouldn’t last long; sure enough, he took to social media to again revise and extend his remarks.

Being a political neophyte, he doesn’t know that this will now be his defining issue, and that’s a shame. Odds are, though, that not only will this question dog Carson through the remainder of his campaign – however far it goes – but it will become a hot topic at any and all GOP presidential primary debates. As I point out at the Patriot Post, you won’t catch them asking Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton about the poorly-performing inner-city schools or any of a number of other failures of the present administration, but any time they can set up a social issue “gotcha” question they will take the opportunity. Consider how Maryland Democrats tried to trap Larry Hogan on social issues in the 2014 gubernatorial campaign – Hogan eluded their efforts and won.

What’s funny about all this is that, for the most part, I agree with Carson’s stance on the gay marriage issue. Civil unions are just fine with me, but when you co-opt the term “marriage” that becomes a problem. I still define marriage as between a man and woman, but insofar as the legalities of being “married” I think civil unions can easily be made equal. Yes, it should be a state issue, but the problem is that most states have been browbeaten into accepting gay marriage by the courts and not necessarily a groundswell of support – look how close the General Assembly vote in Maryland was and ask yourself if there was broad, overwhelming support for the issue. It took a politically motivated change of heart from Barack Obama and presidential election turnout to push the issue over the top – had the referendum been on the 2014 ballot it may well have repealed the law.

Yet we went through all that to pass a law which has affected fewer than 30,000 people based on this assumption:

The 23% increase in the number of marriages between 2012 and 2013 (to 40,456) is thought to be largely attributed to the legalization of same-sex marriages that went into effect on January 1, 2013 in Maryland.

Using my public school math, that’s about 8,000 same-sex marriages performed in 2013, with likely a somewhat smaller figure in 2014 as the most dedicated couples probably tied the knot right away. How many would have gone the civil union route if it were available?

Here’s the problem as I see it, with Maryland a significant microcosm of the nation as a whole. It’s been said by John Adams that:

Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

While it is the Creator’s job to judge and not mine, I think I have a pretty keen sense of the obvious that we are in a society full of “human passions unbridled by morality and religion.” More recently, the late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan coined a term for this decline: “defining deviancy down.” In either case, the question about whether we are indeed “a moral and religious people” is getting more and more open by the day when you consider that, at the time Moynihan wrote his piece, the question of gay marriage wouldn’t have come up because it was such a fringe concept. (That was barely two decades ago, by the way.)

But the genie is out of the bottle now, and standing for a Biblical-based morality on many subjects is considered out of step to opinion leaders in the press. Those who appeal to values voters should expect the same sort of trap questions as they continue on with their campaigns.

The silly season

Normally on Thursday night I write a piece for the Patriot Post. But this week my editor came to me and said that the news was so slow I had the week off. Basically they’ve covered their fill of Ferguson and the Islamic State, and it’s sucked most of the oxygen out of the news cycle. It’s all about people behaving badly these days, I suppose.

And I think the general public senses that as well. I’ve seen a number of exasperated people on social media being grateful for a football or baseball game to take them away from the news cycle. Even if it was a Philadelphia blowout over the Steelers last night, it was three hours people could more or less escape and talk about something else for a change.

It’s times like these I’m glad I don’t do wall-to-wall politics. Last night I did my penultimate Shorebird of the Week for 2014, as their season is rapidly coming to a close. Tomorrow I will have another record review and Sunday I review my other blog. Some may call it filler, but I consider it sanity. Indeed, we live in interesting times.

I don’t often get writer’s block but it’s worth pointing out I have done and redone this opening set of sentences three times. Mentally I think we just all need a break from the two top stories, particularly Ferguson. We need to remember that one man is dead, another scarred for life, and dozens who made their livelihoods from affected businesses have taken a financial blow as well. Yet there’s not really a political solution to the problem because it’s more a question of culture and upbringing: the ending of Michael Brown’s short life was the compounding of multiple bad decisions on his part. And they came not just on the day of the incident, but for hundreds of days prior and perhaps his whole life.

I don’t profess to be any sort of expert on raising children, but the one I was most involved with is married and has a steady job working with mentally challenged individuals. I can guarantee she and I don’t always see eye-to-eye on political issues, but she seems to have a good sense of right and wrong and a solid work ethic, so if I had anything to do with that I’m grateful to have helped out. If only all children were given that same direction and desire.

I’ll return with political direction and desire over the coming weeks, but for now it’s a couple easier days. Sometimes it helps to just start freeform to deal with writer’s block.

AC Week in review – July 27, 2014

Thought I was missing something this morning. Oh well, it gave my previous post a little time to breathe.

Actually, I had a busy week outside the AC realm – actually, outside the entire realm of writing. Running around for the outside job will do that to you.

Fortunately, my slack was picked up around the AC world. Take, for example, the news that Volkswagen’s new SUV will be made in America – more specifically, at the Chattanooga plant that just became unionized via the back door. So it’s good news for the plant and perhaps better news for American consumers, even those residing locally as we have a relatively new Volkswagen dealership.

While German-based VW brings more production to America, though, others are considering the opposite move. AC colleague Ed Braxton reveals one reason why in his look at high domestic business tax rates, but the practice of tax inversion has led to a call from the Obama administration for “economic patriotism.” (I got to expand on this a little bit on the Patriot Post as well.)

But whether it’s Volkswagens coming in or businesses moving out, infrastructure remains a concern. Barack Obama’s recent stop in Wilmington was the site of his unfortunate Malaysian Flight MH17 comment, but it was originally intended as the backdrop for a new infrastructure initiative and announcement of an upcoming summit on the subject, all thanks to the I-495 bridge debacle.

(When you think about it, though, we really have to give credit to those up in Delaware who discovered the issue and are addressing it. You may recall a couple other interstate bridge collapses in recent years with tragic results.)

Next week should be a more fruitful week, although Washington will soon be in vacation mode. I’m sure I can find something to write about.

Sound advice for me and my fellows

As many of you know, I write regularly for the Patriot Post. As such, I’ve been a longtime subscriber to their various releases and today editor Mark Alexander wrote a piece called “The GOP’s Fratricidal Threat to Liberty.” And while I disagree with his premise to some degree – because he seems to blame the TEA Party movement for recent failures moreso than the “Establishment” pushback, something I would reverse – the overall point about unity is a good one, and it got me to thinking about how things are going in Maryland.

Back in November I was crucified for a particular post, but in light of recent events I want to quote from what I said then:

Now you can trust me when I tell you this “erstwhile contributor” to Red Maryland has had many differences with them over the years. But I have to say that they are an important piece of Republican politics in this state, for better or worse. I would have more respect for those running the Lollar campaign if they pointed out the differences between their guy and the other Republicans running than I do with their spending time worrying about what a group of bloggers thinks. If you disagree with Kline’s assessment (of your campaign), prove him wrong and step up your game.

Indeed, I think the Lollar campaign has stepped up. But more to my point, there are some who are taking a victory lap over the eviction of Red Maryland from the pages of the Baltimore Sun. It’s well worth noting a particular timeline of events: I wrote my piece on November 6, the Red Maryland – Baltimore Sun partnership came out November 20 (on the eve of the MDGOP Fall Convention), and their endorsement of Larry Hogan was made official December 12. So the endorsement was made after the Sun hired them.

Also worth mentioning is this part of Red Maryland‘s rationale on choosing Hogan:

No doubt there will be, in some circles, the gnashing of teeth over our endorsement, much like there was for our 2010 endorsement of Bob Ehrlich. However, we will continue to ascribe to the Buckley Rule and support the most viable right candidate who can win. (Emphasis in original.)

Gnashing of teeth – check. But there’s another issue at play here, and it has nothing to do with who is on what payroll.

There are only a handful of conservative political blogs in Maryland; perhaps no more than a dozen really cover the state well on a regular basis. As I said back in November, I have had many differences with Red Maryland and probably will lock horns with them on a number of future occasions. There’s no doubt we see the limits and overall merit of the Buckley Rule differently.

But I do agree with the need for the Eleventh Commandment. There has to be a change in philosophy among all of us – instead of trying to be the “tallest midget in the room” (as a Red Maryland stalwart is fond of saying) by needlessly savaging political and online opponents, we should be the ones who support each other in the overall uphill climb. On the whole, we’ve lost a valuable platform because of mistakes made by those who tried to be that tallest midget, ones for which they were called out. Hopefully a lesson is learned out of all this; and I don’t doubt Red Maryland will still have a part to play going forward. Just remember, folks: perception is reality.

As I see in my perception, each and every one of us who toil in this field can complain all we want and write 24/7/365 about the mess that is Maryland politics, but if we don’t strive to educate and motivate our readers into supporting good conservative candidates from around the state we’ve done nothing but waste our time. (Okay, a few of us may be paid for advertising, consulting, and other favors, but that’s peanuts.)

I may not necessarily agree with Red Maryland or Jackie Wellfonder about their belief that Larry Hogan is the best candidate for governor, but if he wins on June 24 it’s our job to help him win on November 4. I can tell you from experience that it’s a rare ballot indeed where a Democrat is more conservative than a Republican, and looking at the top of the Maryland ticket this year won’t be one of those rarities. Trust me, it’s not like I’ve never had to put my ego aside because my choice in the primary lost. But I sucked it up, buttercup, because I understood what was at stake.

To me, the end game is to elect conservatives, and if we elect GOP moderates we either convince them they should become more conservative or find a better primary opponent for the next go-round. As Alexander said, we will still agree with them on 80 percent or more of the issues.

To finish, let me quote Alexander but add just a couple words:

The internecine warfare in the (Maryland) GOP (blogosphere) may be good for cornering constituents and emptying their wallets, but it is most assuredly and demonstrably NOT good for advancing Liberty.

If I have a legitimate beef with a candidate – and there’s at least one I’ve been disappointed in so far – I’m reserving the right to say so. But the events of the last couple weeks should remind us all we have a ton of work to do and these misadventures are too much of an ill-timed idle diversion.

A great change

Some of you who have stuck with this website through thick and thin know I also moonlight on the side for a website called the Patriot Post. Each week my editor Nate sends me a story idea (or two or three) which I turn into one of the articles in the week’s Digest, which used to come out every Friday.

But one recent change now means the Digest comes out three times a week as it added elements formerly found in what were known as the Brief and the Chronicle, which came out Monday and Wednesday, respectively. So today’s edition was the Monday Digest.

The other change which was made was to their website, which now allows each individual article to be looked up rather than having to go through the whole thing to find my piece. (It’s not like I don’t know what I wrote, although at times it’s edited judiciously due to events which may have happened after I sent in my draft.) So it’s with pleasure I can now steer you to the piece I wrote for Friday’s Digest, but was bumped to today thanks to all that went on in Syria. (It wasn’t necessarily time sensitive.)

So for those who have asked what I do for that newsletter, on occasion I just might share with you some of my better posts. But I would also encourage you to read the rest of it because there’s 30 or so people like me who do the job of putting it all together, with no advertising and only the support of freewill donations which mainly go to pay their full time staff and keep their lights on. (All that is probably cheaper in Tennessee, where the Patriot Post is based.)

And because I tend to write on the same subject a number of times over a long period – Nate and I have sort of a running joke about how often I’ve written something about the Chevy Volt, for example – having the individual article links available will eventually make my job there easier, as I’m sure it will for the other writers as well. I know I’ll be taking advantage of it as I can.

And now for something completely different…

I’m rarely linked by Len Lazarick and the Maryland Reporter website, but I can’t help but think that some of the impetus behind this piece he wrote came from something I penned just the other day. Certainly I’m not crying plagiarism, I just thought the timing was pretty good as he had an opportunity to make a point along the same lines as mine. Great minds think alike?

But Len probably noticed as well that, having been to several events where Charles has spoken, I can testify that he has a compelling manner that plays well with an audience. David Craig is a nice guy but I almost see him as the Mitt Romney of the race – and we all know how Mitt fared once he got out of his primary.

There’s also some other questions turning in my mind about the top-ticket race, and over the next few days I’ll see how I can answer them. Be looking.

 

Odds and ends number 69

It’s not meant to be a weekly Saturday fixture, but thus far in 2013 it was worked out that I’ve done an O&E post each Saturday. (I have to look the prior one up to see what number I am on – can’t duplicate the series, you know.) So once again I have a boatload of items which deserve anything from a sentence to a few paragraphs, but not enough for a full post by themselves.

First of all, the news is full of angst over the Sandy Hook massacre, mainly because the knee-jerk reaction has been: we need more gun laws. But MDYR president Brian Griffiths called Governor Martin O’ Malley’s new gun provisions just simple posturing:

Instead of introducing supporting meaningful proposals that would actively reduce gun crime, O’Malley has decided to sign on to proposals that will have only one meaningful impact: to inhibit the ability of law-abiding Marylanders to purchase and possess firearms.

Yet I suspect one proposed Maryland gun law will go nowhere. Delegate Pat McDonough is slated to introduce “The Criminal Gun Control Act,” which, as he terms, will:

…prohibit any offender convicted of a criminal act involving a gun from receiving any form of early release.  This proposal would include parole, probation, or good time early release credits.  The bill would also disallow a plea bargain.

After claiming 40% of all Baltimore City gun murders were perpetrated by felons with previous gun law violations, Pat added:

The solution to gun violence is not to destroy the Constitution and law abiding citizens’ rights to bear arms.  Politicians are hypocrits (sic) when they attack good citizens and pass laws that benefit criminals like early release.

I thought, though, there was already an extra five years tacked on to a sentence for committing a crime with a gun. Perhaps someone in the judicial system can clue me in on why that’s not effective.

Meanwhile, Maryland Shall Issue is more succinct and to the point:

Respectfully tell those you speak with that you are against Gun Control in all its forms. You do not need to pick the magazine limits, or discuss the definition of so-called “Assault Weapons.” You must make your representatives understand that all Gun Control must be off the table.

Compromise is not possible when it comes to fundamental rights. Our lawmakers must be told that we will not willingly give up any of our rights. They will need to take them from us.

Maryland faces elections in 2014. Make sure they know we will remember who stood for our rights, and who wanted to deny your fundamental right.

Of course, when the chips are down and government has overstepped their bounds, there is the option of non-compliance, a route that Patriot Post editor (and one of my few bosses) Mark Alexander is vowing to take.

I hereby make this public declaration: In keeping with the oath I have taken in the service of my country, I will “support and defend” Liberty as “endowed by our Creator” and enshrined in our Constitution, “against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” Accordingly, I will NOT comply with any defensive weapons ban instituted by executive order, legislative action or judicial diktat, which violates the innate human right to defend self and Liberty, as empowered by “the right of the People to keep and bear arms.”

After all, wasn’t it Hillary Clinton who said “we have the right to debate and disagree with any administration?” Last time I checked, inalienable rights endowed by our Creator trumped laws which violate same.

Now it’s time to turn to another issue where our state government is failing us: economic growth and opportunity. I talked about one aspect of this the other day, but Change Maryland and Chairman Larry Hogan also had some suggestions for Martin O’Malley on rebuilding Maryland manufacturing:

Since 2007, Maryland lost 20% of its manufacturing employment base, the 10th worst decline in the country.  Over 26,000 manufacturing jobs vanished during that time.

“It is unacceptable that the state’s most powerful elected officials do nothing with numbers as clear and convincing as these,” said Hogan.”These are the results you get when economic development is nothing more than cherry-picked pie charts and bar graphs in the Governor’s power point demonstrations.”

Just over a year ago, (New York’s) Governor Cuomo forged a three-way agreement with the senate majority leader and assembly speaker on executive proposals to cut taxes and create jobs in advance of the 2012 legislative session.  The corporate income tax rate for Empire State manufacturers was cut to 6.25%.  Maryland’s rate is 8.25%. New York’s decline of year-over-year manufacturing jobs is 1.4%, less than half of Maryland’s decline during the same period.

Hogan urged that, like so many other areas where O’Malley has followed Cuomo’s lead, a tax cut for businesses should be considered. Yet the advocacy group stayed on O’Malley this week like white on rice, also condemning his bloated budget:

This budget increases spending 4% over last year, to a record $37.3 billion, and does nothing more than continue the spend-and-tax governing that Martin O’Malley feels will further his political objectives.

Nowhere in this budget document is any mention made to helping Maryland’s blue collar workers and other regular working people. However, we’re all told to wait for some undefined sales and gas tax increase later on that will hit poor people the hardest.

Missing is any understanding whatsoever on how to bring jobs and businesses back to Maryland.

Hogan had more criticism for the Governor:

Martin O’Malley also showed again today in the budget briefing slide show for reporters why he is the most partisan governor in America, lauding the President for wanting to raise the debt ceiling and blaming in advance the U.S. House of Representatives for any largess that may not come Maryland’s way.

Martin O’Malley only wishes he had a debt ceiling, but unfortunately for hard-working Maryland families he has to raise taxes and fees on an almost annual basis to maintain the wish list he calls a budget. The $37.3 billion docket proposed for FY2014 is the largest in Maryland’s history and is a far cry from Bob Ehrlich’s last budget in FY2007 that totaled $29.6 billion. (Ehrlich’s last budget, by the way, was 12% higher than the $26.4 billion tab the previous year, in FY2006.) Up 4 percent from last year, O’Malley speaks of “cuts” but those cuts are only in his fantasies because the budget is 26% higher than it was seven years ago and up 41% from FY2006 levels. For most of the rest of us, we’ve not seen a 41% increase in our salaries since 2006.

It’s worth pointing out on the whole job creation issue that small businesses across the country fret about the impact of government, with the results of a new survey by the advocacy group Job Creators Alliance pointing this out.  Taxes were the number one issue, with fully one-quarter of the 600 small businesses survey placing it atop the list. Add in the effects of Obamacare and government regulations, and the response swells to nearly half of those surveyed.

The group was pessimistic in its assessment, stating:

As America’s small business owners look forward at 2013 they do so with a great deal of concern about the obstacles Washington is placing in their path. As the engine of job creation, pessimism among small business owners does not bode well for job growth this year.

Lest we forget, 7 to 8 percent unemployment seems to be the “new norm.” Of course, if they untied the hands of the energy industry we could do a lot better. (That includes Marcellus Shale, Governor O”Malley, but not your pipe dream of offshore wind.)

But to get jobs, we need a better educational system and that means giving parents a choice in where to send their child for their education. National School Choice Week begins next Sunday, but no local organization on Delmarva has yet stepped up to participate in an event. (There are 22 in Maryland, but all of them are on the Western Shore. No events are planned in Delaware or on the eastern shore of Virginia.)

As it turns out, my fiance made the choice to send her child to a private, faith-based school. It’s good for her, but it would be even better if money from the state was made available to cover her tuition and fees. Years ago I volunteered for a political candidate whose key platform plank was “money follows the child” and I think it makes just as much sense today.

So that’s yet another wrapup and cleaning out of the e-mail box. We’ll see if I go four Saturdays in a row next week.

A guest Christmas message

Normally I have kept monoblogue dark on Christmas Day, choosing to invest the time with family and friends instead of here on my website. But this year I decided to feature a link to this message from my Patriot Post “boss” Mark Alexander. Read and enjoy.

 

 

Will Maryland have its own Proposition 8-style fallout?

It makes headlines when a private business is the subject of mass support for its position or, conversely, suffers damage for unwittingly taking a stand, but another political weapon with the potential for negative results is a campaign to bring those who signed the petition bringing gay marriage to the November ballot here in Maryland out into the open. To that end, 110,000 of those names were linked by the Washington Blade, a news outlet catering to the capital’s LGBTQ population. (Oddly enough, my name isn’t on the list and I signed it early on. Maybe I’m registered under my initial rather than my full middle name.)

Anyway, writer Ann Miller equates this tactic to “bullying” and she may be right insofar as certain areas are concerned. I don’t think it will be as much of a concern in this region because, as I perused the Wicomico County names I noticed a number who I believe are Democrats as well as the usual cadre of GOP people I know. I have little doubt that Wicomico County will stand for traditional marriage between a man and a woman, perhaps by as much as a 4-1 or even 5-1 margin. But in other portions of the state those who decide to take matters into their own hands may target individuals or businesses which stand for traditional marriage and against demeaning the institution.

Every so often I’m reminded of what happened in California when Proposition 8, the ballot initiative to overturn the state’s legislatively-passed gay marriage law, won at the polls. The Heritage Foundation put together a well-documented list of incidents which occurred when pro-gay marriage supporters took matters too far into their own hands. While the measure was a electoral victory for supporters of traditional marriage, it also may serve as a cautionary tale for Maryland backers who may be reluctant to express their support based on an implicit threat of violence or harm to their business or personal lives. Again, that’s more likely to occur in areas where feelings may be stronger for gay marriage than in more rural areas like this.

I would hope cooler heads will prevail in Maryland and the issue can be decided on its merits. But the PC police will certainly be out in force trying to push the pro-gay agenda – just notice the outsized coverage of the Chick-Fil-A “kiss-in” which equated the event with the pro-traditional marriage gatherings that drew thousands to many locations.

One key difference in Maryland’s election law, though, may head off part of the threat. According to the state Board of Elections, campaign disclosure is not required until the fourth Friday preceding the general election – by my reckoning, that would be October 12. So there’s only a few weeks where the initial donors would be known.

Yet there is another aspect of the law which troubles opponents as well. The companion group trying to preserve traditional marriage in Maine makes this point:

(If the measure promoting gay marriage passes, a) new, redefined version of marriage would be the only legally recognized definition of marriage in Maine. Citizens, small businesses and religious organizations would not be allowed to let their beliefs determine their decisions, and they would find themselves in legal trouble if they do not comply with the new law.

I wrote an item about this scenario in a recent Patriot Post Digest:

The obvious question, then, is what the values of Chicago (and Boston) are. Perhaps they match those in British Columbia, where Lee and Susan Molnar, a couple who formerly operated a bed and breakfast, were fined $4,500 by the province’s Human Rights Tribunal for refusing to rent a room to a same-sex couple in violation of their Christian beliefs. The Molnars have since left the business rather than compromise their values.

It seems to me the only ones who aren’t allowed to follow their conscience are Christians who believe in traditional values.

I look at it this way: with choice comes responsibility.

I’ve been told for a long time that people can’t help who they are attracted to – whether that’s a genetic thing or learned behavior is somewhat of a question, but one we can’t answer yet. I happen to be attracted to women but a small minority of men are attracted to other men – in all other respects we seem to have the presence of both an X and Y chromosome in common. Perhaps it’s part of God’s plan, if you believe in that sort of order in the midst of chaos.

Regardless, there is a choice made by certain men and women who fall in love with those of the same gender. You can be perfectly happy with your choice of a life’s mate and you can set up most of your legal affairs in such a manner that you can live as if you were husband and wife. But in my belief system (and that of thousands of other Marylanders) you can’t be married to someone of the same gender. If the definition of marriage is changed in such a fashion, where does it stop? What if two men want to be married to two women and to each other? It’s not fair that they can’t enjoy wedded bliss like couples do, or so they would say.

I’m not crazy about civil unions, but when that option is offered the radical gay lobby says that’s not good enough. It has to be marriage or nothing. Well, an all-or-nothing approach hasn’t yet convinced a majority of voters and hopefully Maryland will be among those who continue that streak in November.

This fight will probably be as bitter as the Presidential election, but through most of America’s history we have put these things behind us. The question is whether 2012 will be another example of this or an election like 1860, the results of which led to the War Between the States.

A cultural war can have casualties, too.

A statement of Christian support

I saw this in my e-mail today and I’m now indirectly a part of it in two respects.

The Patriot Post has opened up a petition to show support for Chick-fil-A and over 6,000 have signed up. That’s all well and good, and I added my name to the list.

But the other interesting part is the “read more” afterward. Once I read the first sentence I said to myself, “that looks familiar.” Indeed, it was part of their Digest last week, and the article in question just so happens to be one of my contributions (although slightly edited from the original as the PP editor added the part about Louis Farrakhan and tweaked some wording here and there. He also changed the title, but that’s okay.)

It’s one of those jobs I do each week that doesn’t get noticed because I don’t get a byline there; however, that’s really not the point. I truly enjoy being part of a team of a couple dozen from around the country who work on that publication every week. But I thought you folks here might be interested to know that little tidbit and connection.

Now sign the petition and perhaps I’ll see you on Wednesday at Chick-fil-A.

Losing the war on poverty

Many of you know this, but some don’t: one of my tasks when I’m not working on this site is to contribute content to the Patriot Post. On Friday they ran a slightly edited version of something I wrote for them as a featured article. The purpose of today’s post is to expand on these remarks, which I rarely do for these assignments – maybe I should do so more often.

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Income Redistribution: Losing the War on Poverty

It costs us nearly $1 trillion a year between federal and state entities, but the vast redistribution of wealth that is government’s preferred solution for equalizing outcomes is doing nothing of the sort. Instead, it’s created two distinct but politically powerful groups: 1.) A permanent underclass comprising a vast group of indentured servants who pay little to nothing in taxes but who get just enough handed to them by the American sugar daddy to stave off rioting in the streets, and 2.) The government employees and contractors who hand out the largess.

Since the so-called “Great Society” was launched under President Lyndon Johnson, the poverty rate has fluctuated in a relatively narrow range between 10 and 15 percent. As a whole, Americans are far wealthier with more material goods than they were at the start of Johnson’s “War on Poverty,” but those at the lower end of the income scale are still deemed to be in need of assistance by those who believe they know best. According to a recent Cato Institute study, government spending on poverty programs now amounts to nearly $20,000 per person. This means that, on the average, a “poor” family of four benefited from almost $80,000 in government spending last year — certainly enough to qualify as a middle-class income if it were earned.

Of course, America’s poor aren’t living in a manner one generally envisions as indicative of a middle-class income. The various forms of welfare that federal and state governments distribute pass through many hands before finally reaching recipients. This creates a long list of those who like the programs and want to see them expanded. And since Barack Obama has turned many millions of Americans into government dependents, making any sort of meaningful cut will be a politically dicey prospect should Mitt Romney win this November.

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I try to keep these under 300 words or so given that I have to share space with many others who also lend their talents to this internet publication. But here I can write as many words as I wish.

What floored me was the vast waste cited in the Cato study. Yes, I realize it’s a libertarian-leaning organization and their method of coming up with this figure was simply adding up all the spending they considered “welfare” and dividing it by the number of people the government says live beneath the poverty line. So they probably fudged the figures to some extent, but I would hazard a guess that when all is added up it can be legitimately be claimed the federal and state governments still spend our median household income of roughly $50,000 per household on those who are poor. But they don’t receive $50,000 worth of benefits, do they?

There have always been people who live in poverty and squalor, although squalor as defined in our country might be a godsend to those living in the most wretched farflung corners of the world. This is why we have so many immigrants (legal and illegal) coming here, as America is still thought of as the land of opportunity. The question has become what opportunities are out there.

Yet those in the generation of our grandfathers who were considered poor were also ones who worked hard. Take as an example the Eastern Shore, which for generations has depended on two key sources of income: agriculture, including the growing and processing of chickens, and seafood, most generally crabs, oysters, and the like. A half-century ago most worked in those industries, with a few of the more affluent and industrious creating a merchant class to service the needs of these workers who needed to buy groceries, clothing, or other basic material goods. I’m guessing you didn’t have a whole lot of slackers and layabouts around here.

Over the last thirty years things have changed. Sure, the local economy still runs on the bounties of the land and the Bay, but now those who became affluent in the large cities come here to either spend their vacation time or to retire. So we have a third key industry many have become dependent on locally, but it’s perhaps the least reliable one because people need disposable income with which to enjoy their leisure. If they don’t have the money, we on the Shore go back to life circa 1962. The problem is that the work ethic which used to permeate the Shore (and most of the rest of America, for that matter) seems to have declined as people became accustomed to a modern lifestyle. It’s been aided by the welfare state.

We all know that if welfare went away tomorrow there would be rioting in the streets. But the question is whether the riots would be led by those who were suddenly left without their monthly checks and food stamps or by those government workers who unexpectedly find themselves without a job. Based on what we saw in Wisconsin my money (what little I have) is on the latter. I know charities would work hard to find a way to fill in the gaps for the truly poor if welfare disappeared, but it seems that, once established, government programs go on forever.

Maybe the problem with poverty is that we consider it a problem to be solved. The most charitable among us have always stopped to help those who cannot help themselves, but once the concept was created that government would step in and make it all better, the number who gave of themselves dwindled. It was now someone else’s mess to take care of, and the idea of poor but too proud to accept government-sponsored relief faded into obscurity. Instead, we now openly advertise for more food stamp recipients like they’re just another consumer commodity. We’ve gone from having to stand in line to get voucher coupons to spend at the store to having just another card to swipe because it reduces the “stigma” of being on the dole.

I believe we as a nation are approaching the crossroads. Either we cut back and restore ourselves to greatness or we follow in the footsteps of long-lost empires like Rome or ancient Greece. It pains me to say this, but in 2012 America it really is no more than bread and circuses. Sadly, it may not be up to us to change that but we have to at least try.

By the way, I have some ideas to address this. Watch this space and the monoblogue Facebook page (which you really should ‘like’) for more on that project.

Gingrich returns to school

My latest commentary, this time on Patriot Post. I took my reporter’s hat and added more of my opinion…

At one time in his life Newt Gingrich was at home in the academic world, perhaps even moreso than he ever was politically. On Tuesday he selected the small town of Salisbury, Maryland and the campus that he claimed gave birth to the Contract With America to begin a new phase of his Presidential campaign.

Gone were the big banners, the line of welcoming politicians, and the press entourage which followed him from stop to stop when he was the leading anti-Romney in the 2012 Presidential race. Instead, if it weren’t for the small “Newt 2012” logo buried in a corner of the campus flier announcing “An Afternoon With Newt Gingrich” you may not have even known he was still in the race. He didn’t even charge the College Republicans $50 for a picture at the small gathering he held with them afterward.

(continued at Patriot Post…)