Friday, October 31, 2008

Proposition 8: What Should We Teach Little Children?

This YouTube video includes a pledge card signed by a kindergartener at the request of his teacher in the Hayward Unified School District.



Let's be clear: There is absolutely nothing wrong with teaching young children to be tolerant and to protect those who might be vulnerable to bullying. In fact, there's everything right with that. But early childhood indoctrination and conditioning about sensitive matters that should be taught at home? That's something else altogether.

This little video highlights several questions:

1. Can there be any doubt that the public schools are already teaching kindergartners about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues? That is clearly what is going in the Hayward district, with the assistance of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, whose name appears on the pledge card the little boy signed.

2. Is there any doubt that such education is taking place without parental consent, as is authorized by Education Code Section 51933, discussed in my post below?

3. Does anyone doubt that if "marriage" is redefined as including same-sex unions, schools will, in accordance with that same statute, also teach the very youngest children that same-sex marriage is equal to a marriage between a man and a woman?

4. Does anyone doubt that parents will have nothing to say about that, and that the organizations pushing for such education want it that way?

Vote "Yes" on Proposition 8. You'll help preserve parental rights regarding the education of their children, and you'll put some brakes on the efforts of overzealous gay rights activists.

Update: Related news story here.

OLDEST HEBREW TEXT DISCOVERED AT SITE OF KING DAVID'S FORTRESS

In what is being hailed as one of the most important archaeological find in Israel since the Dead Sea Scrolls, Israeli archeologists Yossi Garfinkel and Sa'ar Ganor of Hebrew University have discovered the oldest Hebrew text ever found. The five-line text is written in ink on a pottery shard, written in Proto-Caanite letters separated by lines. (Proto-Caanite is the script used to write Hebrew prior to the destruction of the First Temple and the Babylonian Exile. Use of the so-called "Assyrian script" in which Hebrew is written today began after the return of Jews to the Land of Israel from the Babylonian Exile.)

Carbon-14 dating and chemical analysis of the pottery found at the site show that it dates from between 1,000 and 975 B.C. – the time according to tradition of King David's reign. If the dating is correct, the shard predates the Dead Sea Scrolls by about 1000 years.

The writing on the shard seems to be a letter sent from one person to another and archaeologists have still not deciphered it completely. Preliminary analysis shows that it contains the words "king" (melech), "judge" (shofet), and "eved" (slave), but the terms seem to be parts of names, as in "Achimelech" or "Evedel" (lit. "King's brother," "Servant of God").

The find was made at what Israeli archaeologists believe to be King David's front-line fortress in his war against the people of Pleshet, commonly called the Philistines. The site overlooks the Valley of Elah, the site where a young David, according to tradition, slew the giant Philistine warrior Goliath with the sling of a well-aimed stone. Read more about the find at Israel National News.

HEADLESS OBAMA SUPPORTER CANVASSES RURAL NEW YORK PRECINCT!

Residents of Sleepy Hollow told The Hedgehog Blog that they were unable to identify the Obama campaign worker. "They're all either headless or pumpkin heads," one citizen explained.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Obama Worries Joe the Plumber About Israel As Well As Taxes

Samuel J. Wurzebacher, aka "Joe the Plumber," apparently is not a one-issue voter. When a visitor from Florida at a GOP rally in Ohio told "Joe" that in his view, "a vote for Obama would be a vote for the death of Israel," Wurzebacher responded, "I'll go ahead and agree with you on that."

This did not please Fox News anchor Shepard Smith, who interviewed Wurzenbacher on air and tried to pin him down on why he thought that a vote for Obama was a vote for the death of Israel. Poor Joe the Plumber, who probably wishes in retrospect that he had never won overnight fame from his question on taxes to Obama, responded that he primarily was influenced by Obama's declared intention to meet with the leaders of Iran without preconditions. Wurzenbacher told Smith that he did not consider himself to be a foreign policy expert, whereupon Smith scolded him for the implications of his statement, implying to my ears that Wurzenbacher's rhetoric might cause a fervent supporter of Israel to commit violence to stop Obama's election. You can hear the entire exchange here, and judge for yourself.

There is no question that Smith made Wurzenbacher look bad on the air. Had he asked me, I would have said that saying a vote for Obama is a vote for the death of Israel is hyperbole, not the least because I believe the Holy One, Praised Be He, has his own plans for Israel, which not even Barack Obama can disrupt. However, I would have pointed out that friends of Israel certainly should be concerned about the following matters:

1. Obama's 20-year close relationship with the virulently anti-Zionist Reverend Jeremiah Wright, and his membership in Reverend Wright's church. This is a clergyman who has repeatedly attacked the Jewish State from the pulpit, characterizing its acts of self-defense as terrorism. Somehow Obama apparently missed those sermons. This is a church that printed guest editorials by Hamas leaders in its church bulletin.

2. Obama voted against a resolution in the Senate that would have declared Iran's Revolutionary Guard to be a terrorist organization. He has defended his vote by voicing the fear that such a declaration, designating a unit of Iran's "armed forces" to be a terrorist organization, might be interpreted by the George W. Bush Administration as Senate approval of an attack on Iran. However, Argentina and Interpol have indicted leaders and members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard for the 1994 bombing of the Buenos Aires Jewish Community Center, as reported here in November 2007, and Smith's own Fox News reported in October 2007 that the former head of Argentine intelligence had said that the order for the bombing came from the highest levels of the Iranian government.

3. Obama is advised on Middle East affairs and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by former U.S. envoy and negotiator Dennis Ross, and former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk, the same folks who brought you the Oslo Accords. These American Jews are well-meaning men who surely believe they have Israel's best interests at heart, and just as surely have supported policies and measures that have proven disastrous to Israel. At their feet one may reasonably lay partial responsibilty for the resurrection of Yassir Arafat and the PLO after its exile in Tunis; the Al Aksa Intifada; the withdrawal of Israel from Gaza; and the subsequent takeover of Gaza by Hamas. Currently they support territorial concessions that would place all of Israel within rocket and artillery range of Palestinian terrorists. Of course, they have like-minded colleagues in Israel, but that does not mitigate the danger their viewpoints pose.

4. According to Amir Taheri, writing in the New York Post, Reverend Jesse Jackson declared in a speech at the World Policy Forum in Evian, France that the election of Barack Obama would change American foreign policy by ending "decades of putting Israel's interests first," and that the "Zionists who have controlled American policy for decades" would use their clout. Gee, I wonder what he meant by that.

5. Then there is the close relationship of Senator Obama to virulent anti-Israel activists, such as Rashid Khalidi and former Weatherman terrorists Bill Ayers and Bernadine Dohrn, as discussed on this blog yesterday.

All-in-all, Mr. Smith, I believe that a pretty strong case can be made for the concern voiced by Joe the Plumber, even if he overdid it. Indeed, no less astute an observer than Caroline Glick, columnist for the Jerusalem Post and the senior fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at Frank Gaffney's Center for Security Policy, told me and other Jewish bloggers, in an blogger interview sponsored by One Israel and reported on this blog here, "Any American Jew who votes for Obama is sticking a finger in the eye of the Jewish people." So Joe the Plumber may be right again.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

How Does Jewish Tradition View Proposition 8? Look at the Midrash for the Story of Noah, This Week's Torah Portion!

In Jewish tradition, the weekly Torah portion always has special significance for the week in which it is read. Therefore it is undoubtedly not coincidental that election day, Tuesday, November 4, the day that Proposition 8 appears on the ballot in California, falls out in the week of Parshat Noach, the Torah portion that relates the story of Noah and the Flood. The Midrash tells us, twice in fact:

"Rabbi Huna said in the name of Rabbi Yosef, 'The generation of the Flood was not wiped out until they wrote marriage documents for the union of a man to a male or to an animal.'"--Genesis Rabbah 26:5; Leviticus Rabbah 23:9.


"I know, we should have voted 'Yes' on Prop. 8. I guess we missed the boat on that one."

Proposition 8 and California's Schoolchildren: A Primer on Falsehoods

(Welcome, Hugh Hewitt readers! You'll want to see this new YouTube video as well.)


Perhaps the most hotly-debated question about Proposition 8 is the measure's impact on schoolchildren. If Proposition 8 fails, will young children be taught that same-sex marriage is equal to traditional marriage? Opponents of Prop 8 have adamantly -- and falsely -- claimed this will not happen.

The fact is, Prop 8's leading opponents have been very public for a long time about their goal of teaching schoolchildren about gender orientation at very young ages. What is worse, they have openly promoted strategies for overcoming or circumventing parental objections to such teaching. It is foolish to believe they will not use the same approach to teaching children about same-sex marriage.

Why this matters

When it comes to private sexual practices generally, I've long been attracted to the view of English actress Beatrice Campbell: "I don't care what [people] do, so long as they don't do it in the street and scare the horses." My work colleagues and friends, and anyone who really knows me, know that I consider their personal lives to be just that: personal. All my friends, gay and straight, know I support them in seeking personal happiness. I support California's already very expansive laws providing for domestic partnerships, which, in Family Code Section 297.5, guarantees to registered domestic partners "the same rights, protections and benefits . . . as are granted to and imposed upon spouses."

But marriage is different, and so is teaching schoolchildren.

Most seven year-olds still need to learn how to sit up straight and cover their mouths when they sneeze. Kids don't need the schools teaching them about gender orientation -- an arcane and confusing subject to even the most precocious children -- before they have even thought about their own sexual identities.

Besides, if we are going to start teaching six year-old children that same-sex marriage is the same as traditional marriage, that's a decision that should be made by the people, not by four of the seven judges on the California Supreme Court.

The law on teaching schoolchildren about marriage

Misinformation about just what California's Education Code says about marriage has been flying around the internet and on television and radio ads by the No On 8 campaign. There is no doubt, however, what the Education Code requires as to teaching about marriage and families. Here's an excerpt from the key statute, Section 51933:


(b) A school district that elects to offer comprehensive sexual health education pursuant to subdivision (a), whether taught by school district personnel or outside consultants, shall satisfy all of the following criteria:

. . .

(7) Instruction and materials shall teach respect for marriage and committed relationships.
(Emphasis added.) According to the California Department of Education's website, 96% of California school districts provide sexual health education that places them under Section 51933's requirements. Can anyone reasonably deny that if Prop 8 fails, the instruction about "marriage" this statute refers to will include same-sex marriage?

What Prop 8's leading opponents have said about parental rights

The response to these concerns from from Prop 8's leading opponents has been that Prop 8 has nothing to do with schools. Amazingly, even the State Superintendent of Public Education has filmed a television ad promoting this falsehood.

Think about it: If the State Supreme Court has defined marriage to include same-sex unions, and schools are required to teach about respect for "marriage and committed relationships," well, it seems pretty obvious that from kindergarten on, kids will be learning about same-sex marriage, doesn't it?

But it gets worse. The other response from the No On 8 group has been that parents can simply "opt out" of instruction about gay marriage. This is another deception. The same people who make that claim have argued forcefully that no opt-out rights exist, as long as the instruction is part of "diversity education" encompassing gender orientation. They've even made their case in court.

Regarding opt-out rights, an organization called the California Safe Schools Coalition published A Question & Answer Guide for California School Officials & Administrators. The Coalition's Steering Committee includes The California Teachers Association, Equality California, American Civil Liberties Union chapters throughout California, State Senator Sheila Kuehl, and other prominent backers of No On 8 who have already raised millions of dollars to oppose the measure.

Here's one of the questions and answers:

Can parents 'opt out' of their children's participation in school programs that discuss sexual orientation and gender identity?

State law explicitly provides that “instruction or materials that discuss gender, sexual orientation, or family law and do not discuss human reproductive organs or their functions” is not subject to the parental notice and opt out laws. Thus, where issues of sexual orientation or gender identity are raised in school programs other than HIV/AIDS or sexual health education, such as programs designed to encourage respect and tolerance for diversity, parents are not entitled to have notice of or the opportunity to opt their children out of such programs. California law does not support a broad parental veto regarding the contents of public school instruction.
(Emphasis added.) Translation: If you are a California parent and think you have the right to opt your second-grader out of story time because the teacher is reading the students a book about a prince who marries a prince, you should think again. As long as story time is part of a program "designed to encourage respect and tolerance for diversity," you have nothing to say about whether your child participates. You won't even hear about the book unless your child comes home and mentions it to you.

The California Safe Schools Coalition also published on its web site a "Question and Answer Guide to California's Parental Opt-Out Laws." The Guide's goals include helping educators who are promoting "tolerance and diversity" to circumvent the opt-out laws, as evidenced by this question and answer from that guide:
Do parents have a constitutional right to prevent their children from receiving education in public schools on subjects they disapprove?

Almost never. Parents have filed a number of court cases seeking to prevent public schools from teaching their children controversial literature or subjects . . . and have lost virtually every case. Courts have held that so long as the public school curricula are secular and reasonably related to educational goals, parents do not have veto power over the content of public school instruction. . . . Schools may wish to excuse students from non-essential activities (such excusing a Jehovah's Witness student from a Valentine's Day party) but are not legally required to excuse students from curricular activities such as . . . diversity education. The interests of the school and student in education outweigh parents' interests in preventing their children from being exposed to ideas that conflict with religious traditions.
Here's the guide's concluding paragraph:
[By] carefully articulating the purpose and content of diversity education programs, schools can both fulfill their legal duty to ensure a safe and nondiscriminatory school environment for all students, and also avoid violating parents' notice and opt-out rights.
(Emphasis added.) So, you see, it's all a matter of how the schools set up their program. If they do that right, parents have no voice. The next time you hear a No On 8 spokesman tell you that parents need not worry about their kindergarteners being taught about same-sex marriage, think about the Question and Answer Guide to California's Parental Opt-Out Laws.

(Somewhat curiously, the Question and Answer Guide seems to have disappeared from the Safe Schools Coalition's web site. An e-mail correspondent sent me the Question and Answer Guide on October 23. By October 26, as I am writing this post, the guide no longer appears on the internet. The now-defunct URL is here.)

Proposition 8 raises serious and controversial issues. Instead of continually dissembling about the real facts and the law, it's time for the opponents of Prop 8 to get serious about addressing those issues.


And about telling the truth.

UPDATE: An e-mail correspondent, Richard, writes:

"Lowell: Regarding your article . . . . Apparently the Coalition had something to hide so they also removed the Guide from the above URL. They may be unaware that www.archive.org maintains an archive of billions of web pages for the past 10-15 years. Here is the archived web page's URL:

http://web.archive.org/web/20070710011100/www.casafeschools.org/OptOutQA.pdf

"I doubt that the Coalition can get web pages removed at archive.org."

If Obama Wins, the Left-Dominated Media Will be the Real Victors

Not in living memory has the mainstream media so openly and actively supported one candidate in a Presidential election. This is so evident that even liberal pundits such as former Clinton White House Press Secretary Dee Dee Myers have written about the obvious pro-Obama media bias. Back in July, Ms. Myers observed in an article for Vanity Fair:

The Project for Excellence in Journalism, which evaluates more than 300 newspaper, magazine, and television stories each week, found that from June 9 (after Obama had wrapped up the Democratic nomination) until July 13, Obama was more prominently covered every single week. During one particular week, July 7–13, McCain was a significant presence in 48 percent of the stories—but Obama met that mark in 77 percent of the pieces. Similarly, the Tyndall Report, a media monitoring group, found that Obama received substantially more media attention.
I can only imagine what the gap must be like this week, as Obama continues to meet with world leaders and adoring crowds, while the mere presence of media’s biggest and brightest stars stamps each and every event as important!

Of course, the disparity only increased as the campaign wore on. However, while the strategic objective of electing Barack Obama President remained unaltered, the tactics changed. Now the media, who had once idealized John McCain as the anti-Bush Republican, turned on him like a jilted lover, alleging that the consistent conservative had somehow changed his philosophy and character. Here is an excerpt from the report of The Project for Excellence in Journalism about news media coverage in the six weeks between the conventions and the final Presidential debate:

Press treatment of Obama has been somewhat more positive than negative, but not markedly so.

But coverage of McCain has been heavily unfavorable—and has become more so over time. In the six weeks following the conventions through the final debate, unfavorable stories about McCain outweighed favorable ones by a factor of more than three to one—the most unfavorable of all four candidates—according to the study by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.

For Obama during this period, just over a third of the stories were clearly positive in tone (36%), while a similar number (35%) were neutral or mixed. A smaller number (29%) were negative.

For McCain, by comparison, nearly six in ten of the stories studied were decidedly negative in nature (57%), while fewer than two in ten (14%) were positive.

Yet the campaign to elect Barack Obama was not restricted to the news media. Continuing and even amplifying a trend that has been evident throughout the George W. Bush Administration, the entertainment media joined the anti-Republican frenzy. Readers of the Los Angeles Times comic page are treated to a daily dose of anti-GOP propaganda courtesy of Doonesbury. Usually one or two other comic strips either promote Barack Obama, or criticize John McCain, George W. Bush or the Republican Party as well. Saturday Night Live was unable to constrain its Obama worship to Saturday night only, and instituted a Thursday night special for the closing weeks of the election campaign. Hollywood then joined in, with the first movie ever ridiculing a sitting President of the United States. Courtesy of Oliver Stone, "W" is suppposedly an understanding and sympathetic psychological study of how George W. Bush became a failed President, as if a meaningful evaluation of a Presidency can be made even before the President leaves office.

Nonetheless, one may have to award the Pulitzer Prize for unabashed advocacy journalism to the Los Angeles Times, after all. Back in April, Los Angeles Times reporter Peter Wallsten wrote an article about Senator Obama's close relationship with Rashid Khalidi, a history professor, sometime advisor to the Palestinian Liberation Organization, and full-time apologist for Palestinian terrorism. Wallesten highlighted the fact that Senator Obama delivered a toast in honor of his friend Khalidi at a going-away dinner sponsored by the Arab-American Action Network (AAAN) (which was founded by Khalidi), on the occasion of Khalidi's departure from Chicago in order to assume his prosent post as the Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University. (This endowed chair functions as Columbia's official contribution to anti-Zionism.) As one would expect, the gala evening, with Senator Obama in attendance, quickly became, in the words of Gateway Pundit, a "classic Jew bash." In Wallsten's words, as the story appeared in the Los Angeles Times on April 10, 2008:

At Khalidi's 2003 farewell party, for example, a young Palestinian American recited a poem accusing the Israeli government of terrorism in its treatment of Palestinians and sharply criticizing U.S. support of Israel. If Palestinians cannot secure their own land, she said, "then you will never see a day of peace."

One speaker likened "Zionist settlers on the West Bank" to Osama bin Laden, saying both had been "blinded by ideology."


This story has returned to prominence, but only on conservative blogs, in recent days because Gateway Pundit learned in an interview with Peter Wallsten that the Los Angeles Times has a video of the Khalidi farewell party, but has refused to release it! It is not hard to understand why. A column about Khalidi by Fred Siegel and Sol Stern, which ran in the New York Sun, discloses that the commemorative book at the AAAN farewell dinner was filled with testimonials not only from Senator Obama, but the left wing anti-war group Not In My Name, the Electronic Intifada, and the ex-Weatherman domestic terrorists Bernadine Dohrn and Bill Ayers. Truly, the AAAN dinner for Rashid Khalidi was a left-wing gathering for the ages. The video may well show Obama, Khalidi, Ayers and Dohrn all celebrating together in enraptured comradeship.

As Gateway pundit concludes, "It's hard to imagine that the LA Times would hold onto a video of Sarah Palin praising an anti-Semitic radical and former PLO operative...
But, that is today's mainstream media." Indeed.

Yet the real danger from the present Presidential election is not just that the press was in the tank for Obama. We have lived with unrelenting anti-conservative media bias for at least 8 years. The real danger is that the media will finally realize their power, that they can deliver the White House, or a veto-proof majority in Congress, or in short order the U.S. Supreme Court, to the Democratic Party Left.

They will not be content with that triumph. They will want to repeat it again and again, and make sure it is enduring. Very quickly the Left will act to regulate and muzzle the one media sector that it has consistently failed to dominate, talk radio. Recently, Democratic Senator Jeff Bingaman declared his support for reinstating the Fairness Doctrine. Once the Fairness Doctrine is back in place, with its practical effect confined to talk radio, left-wing domination of the mass media will be complete. Conservatives will still have a refuge on the web, but content regulation of blogs may follow.

The same pattern has held sway in Israel for decades. In ownership and editorial policy, the major daily newspapers (Ha'Aretz, Maariv, Yediot Acharonot) are either far left or at best center left. The sole exception is the English-language Jerusalem Post, which has little impact within Israel. Radio and television broadcasting stations are operated by a government agency, and the agency's bureaucratic ranks of on-air personalities, journalists and writers are a bastion of left-wing political opinion, even when a Likud nationalist government is in power. Benjamin Netanyahu was practically treated as a public enemy by the government broadcasters throughout his premiership. Religious settlers are nearly always portrayed as evil personified, while Israel cannot be too generous in territorial concessions to the Palestinians. The Israeli press and broadcast media would have one believe that the only obstacle to peace and brotherly love between Jews and Arabs is Israel's refusal to roll its borders back to the 1949 ceasefire lines.

The most outrageous example of law has been used to maintain media bias in Israel is the fate of Arutz Sheva (Channel 7)--Israel National Radio. For two decades, beginning in 1973, Israeli left-wing peace activist Abie Nathan operated a pirate radio station, the Voice of Peace, which broadcast from a ship in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea. He was fawned over by the Israeli media, which treated him as a folk hero. However, when Arutz Sheva adopted the same ship-borne pirate radio strategy to promote its right-wing nationalist perspective, successive Israeli Labor Party governments did everything in their power to shut down the station, including criminal prosecution. In February 1999, the Knesset (which then had a rightist coalition majority) passed a law legalizing the operation of Arutz Sheva and absolving it of any criminal liability for earlier illegal broadcasting. Incredibly, left-wing litigants challenged the law before the leftist-dominated Israeli Supreme Court, which struck the law down! Today, one may listen to Arutz Sheva only over the internet, which is the only outlet that the Israeli Left has not found a means to control or legally suppress.

And that, my friends, is what I fear we have to look forward to, when the American liberal media fully realizes its power to control U.S. elections and policy.

Proposition 8 and Civil Rights: Is There A Parallel?

On this video, Dee Garrick, who marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, says no: "It's not about civil rights. Racism was about civil rights. This is about society, our future and our children."

Watch and see if you agree with Ms. Garrick.



Update: Here's a related report: "Over 1000 Congregations Represented, Black & Hispanic Clergy Hold Press Conference To Say YES on 8, "Our Children Have Civil Rights Too." One of the highest ranking African American religious leaders in California and in the country has endorsed YES on Prop 8."

Sarkozy Describes Obama Approach on Iran as "Utterly Immature"

According the Israeli left-wing newspaper Ha'Aretz, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has been sharply critical of Senator Barack Obama's position on re-engagement with Iran. Sarkozy has voiced his criticisms only in closed forums in France, but according to a senior Israeli government source, reports that have reached the Israeli government indicate that Sarkozy views the Democratic Party presidential nominee's stance on Iran as "utterly immature" and comprised of "formulations empty of all content." Sarkozy is described as very concerned that an Obama Administration would break up what has been a united front on Iran, maintained by the five permanent member of the U.N. Security Council and Germany. According to the senior Israeli source, Sarkozy fears that Obama might "arrogantly" ignore the other members of this front and open a direct dialogue with Iran without preconditions.

Is this the same Obama who is supposedly going to restore American standing in Europe? Were the implications not so serious, one might engage in some Schadenfreude at the thought that European leaders will reap what they have sown by not more publicly supporting the Bush Administration in recent years.

As for the description of Obama's Iran policy as "formulations empty of all content," no phrase could more aptly summarize Obama's campaign positions in general.

Monday, October 27, 2008

DEAN BARNETT (1967-2008)

Dean Barnett, the creator of Soxblog; former writer at HughHewitt.com; and later a regular contributor to the Weekly Standard; died today after a long battle with cystic fibrosis. Please read Hugh Hewitt's eulogy for Dean here. We will miss him. Boruch Dayan HaEmet (Blessed be the True Judge).

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Comic Relief: California's Proposition 8 and "Party A and Party B"

For those who missed this video when I first posted, here it is again:

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Fred Thompson: Worth Watching

Friday, October 24, 2008

Proposition 8: Comic Relief


Many who read this blog will immediately appreciate this graphic.

SHAS Decides Not to Join Kadima Coalition, Making New Israeli Elections Likely

The Sefardic Torah Guardians Party (popularly known as "SHAS," based on its Hebrew initials) decided this morning that its 12-member Knesset faction would not join a coalition government led by Kadima Pary head and present Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. As reported in the Jerusalem Post, SHAS balked on the issue of Jersusalem, stating that it would not join a new government without a commitment from that government not to negotiate the unity of Jerusalem with the Palestinian Authority.

This reversal leaves Ms. Livni, the prime minster designate, with the choice of either forming a narrow and unstable 66-seat coalition government, or holding new elections. It was formerly widely expected that the nationalist Likud Party, led by former Prime Minister Benyamin ("Bibi") Netanyahu, would emerge from new elections as the largest Knesset faction, giving Netanyahu the first shot at forming a new government. However, recent polls have shown Likud and Kadima in a dead heat. Kadima Party members and potential coalition partners reportedly are advising Ms. Livni to seek new elections.

Pending new elections Ehud Olmert would continue to serve as Prime Minister of Israel, barring criminal indictment or some unforeseen event.

Pittsburg Mugging Story Was A Hoax, Police Say

Yesterday I posted a story entitled "Robber Carves 'B' on Face of McCain Campaign Worker," which recounted how a mugger had carved the initial B on the face of a 20-year old, female McCain campaign worker, after seeing a McCain bumper sticker on the victim's car. Pittsburg police now report that the story, which had been reported by WTAE TV ThePittsburgChannel.com, was a hoax, made up by the campaign worker. She has been charged with making a false report to police.

I have removed the original story from this blog. I apologize to our readers.

The Authentic Jewish Position On Proposition 8

If one were to rely on the Los Angeles Times for one's knowledge of Judaism (which, I am afraid, is the case for many Californians, including many Jews), one might assume that Jewish religious leaders enthusiastically oppose Proposition 8, the Protection of Marriage Amendment. Indeed, that is the position of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, an organization that nominally is made up of rabbis from all Jewish denominations, but to which few Orthodox rabbis belong, and in which still fewer actively participate. It is dominated by the Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist strains of Judaism, who dictate its policy pronouncements.

"Strains" is a particularly appropriate word in this context, because opposition to Prop. 8 strains traditional Jewish values on marriage beyond the breaking point.

For the view of authentic Torah Judaism on same-sex marriage, based on the written and oral Torah (as opposed to current "progressive" societal fashion), I strongly recommend a column entitled "Marriage Matters," written by Rabbi Avi Shafran, the Director of Public Affairs of Agudath Israel of America, which appears on Cross-Currents, a website that publishes the opinions and observations of a talented repertory company of knowledgable and articulate Orthodox Jewish writers. Rabbi Shafran notes that the rabbis of the Talmud deal explicitly with the subject of same-sex marriage, and "consider a society that 'writes marriage documents for men' to be endangering its very existence."

While Augudath Israel of America is an advocate for the viewpoint of "haredi" Judaism, centered in the yeshiva and Chasidic world, on this issue Rabbi Shafran's column states the position of the entire spectrum of Orthodox Judaism, including the centrist Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

JEWISH PRESS ENDORSES MCCAIN


The Jewish Press, a New York-based Jewish newspaper that reflects the views of American Orthodox Jews, has heartily endorsed Senator John McCain for President.

Proposition 8: Who Are The Haters?

Here's a story about one family's experience with the tactics of No on 8 supporters. All this arose from a yard sign a family placed in its front yard.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Proposition 8: "I Do"

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

California's Proposition 8: Open Season On Mormons?


[Dear readers: The following is an excerpted version of a piece at Article VI Blog, where I also post.]

____________

"Open season on Mormons." Does that sound like an exaggeration? Read on. If you're like me, you'll be amazed and disgusted at the attacks on people of faith who are only expressing their religious consciences through the ballot process, and are doing so in the most all-American ways: Grassroots organizing and small financial donations.

The LDS Church and Proposition 8

According to the 2007-2008 Almanac of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the "Church") there are about 770,000 Church members in California. In a letter dated June 29, 2008, the Church's leaders asked members to "do all [they] can to support [California's Proposition 8] by donating of [their] means and time to assure that marriage in California is legally defined as being between a man and a woman."

Proposition 8 would enshrine the traditional definition of marriage in the State Constitution. Traditional marriage had been the only kind recognized in California since 2000, when another statewide ballot initiative passed with 61% of the vote. In May 2008, however, by a 4-3 vote, the California Supreme Court held Prop 22 unconstitutional, thus opening the door to same-sex marriage in the Golden State.

By amending the Constitution, Prop 8's supporters hope, once and for all, to settle the issue in California.
A coalition of religious groups, including all the Catholic Bishops in California, virtually all the Evangelical churches, the Orthodox Rabbis, and many others, are supporting Prop 8 with grassroots volunteers and financial donations from their members. The Mormons, however, are most visible because of their geographic distribution and lay ministry, which lend themselves very well to grassroots organizing.

Unfortunately, Prop 8's opponents, having achieved through the courts what they could never have achieved by the ballot box, have now chosen to attack not the ballot proposition, but its supporters. And because California Mormons have been so prominent in the "Yes On 8" campaign, they have become the chief target. Here's a report on some ways in which that personalized opposition has manifest itself.

Smearing Prop 8 Donors Because They Are . . . Mormons?

Maggie Gallagher at National Review Online points us to this Daily Kos post, which she calls "disgusting." (I must agree.) Here's the key excerpt:

[T]he No on Prop 8 folks told me recently that the "Protect Marriage" campaign has raised $30 million dollars--over half of it from the Mormon Church. Now, I have nothing personally against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. . . .

But when the church and its members invest millions of dollars in an attempt to write discrimination into my state's constitution . . . there will be hell to pay.

So what am I asking you to do?

Some distributed research.

There is a list of a bunch of Mormon donors to the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign (in case that one goes down, here's a mirror with slightly worse formatting.

Here's what I'm asking for:

This list contains information about those who are big donors to the Yes on 8 campaign--donors to the tune of at least $1,000 dollars. And, as you can see, there are a lot of them. It also indicates if they're Mormon or not.

If you're interested in defeating the religious right and preserving marriage equality, here's how you can help:

Find us some ammo.

Use any LEGAL tool at your disposal. Use OpenSecrets to see if these donors have contributed to...shall we say...less than honorable causes, or if any one of these big donors has done something otherwise egregious. If so, we have a legitimate case to make the Yes on 8 campaign return their contributions, or face a bunch of negative publicity.

There are a crapload of donors on this list--so please focus on the larger ones first. $5,000 or more is a good threshold to start with.

Feel free to use Lexis-Nexis searches as well for anything useful, especially given that these people are using "morality" as their primary motivation to support Prop 8...if you find anything that belies that in any way...well, you know what to do.

If you find anything good, please email it . . . .

Here's the bottom line for me: if someone is willing to contribute thousands of dollars to a campaign to take away legal rights from some very dear friends of mine, they had damn well make sure their lives are beyond scrutiny--because I, for one, won't take it lying down.
Translation: If you are a Mormon and you donate to Prop 8, thousands of strangers will try to smear you, in the hope of intimidating you and others into not exercising your right to freedom of speech.

In other words, they want to silence you.

I wonder what level of care and caution the "distributed researchers" will apply to their efforts? Will they be sure that any embarrassing information they find about Mormon donors is accurate? Don't bet the farm on that one, folks.

And About That Web Site that Makes This Possible?

In his exhortations to smear and embarrass Mormon donors to Prop 8, the Daily Kos post relies heavily on a web site that is deceptively named "Mormons for Proposition 8." The casual reader might think the site favors Prop 8, but he would be wrong.

This is a site, run by members of the Church who oppose Prop 8 and who are unhappy about the Church's support for the ballot measure. The site's purpose? Identifying members of the Church who have donated to Prop 8 by posting the names of all donors to Yes On 8 and asking readers to identify those who are Mormons.

In what I consider a monument to sophistry, the site's sponsors have claimed it is "neutral." That would be funny if it were not such an outrageous lie. Just review the site for 2 or 3 minutes and decide for yourself whether that is true. While you're at it, look at the "FAQ" page and ask yourself if the answers given are sincere, or disingenuous and downright snide.

(By the way, I donated $1,000 to Yes On 8, and although some helpful soul has identified me on this list as a Mormon, I see lots of individuals on the list whom I know to be members of the Church, but who haven't been identified yet. Obviously, the supporters of "Mormons for Proposition 8" need to work harder.)

A lawyer friend e-mailed the site's sponsors:

Disclosure of religious association is a matter of constitutional protection and a privilege held by the congregant against disclosure. (Church of Hakeem v. Superior Court, 1 Cal. App. 3d 184 (1980)). Your forced outing to intimidate others would be a violation of civil rights if committed with the color of authority. That you are private and anonymous doesn't make what you are doing any more commendable.
Make no mistake: These people want to shine the spotlight on Mormons who donate to Yes On 8. By doing so, they hope to discourage Mormons from donating by exposing them to smear efforts like those urged by the Daily Kos.

In other words, these people are just like the Daily Kos writer: They no doubt consider themselves very progressive, but nevertheless want to silence their opponents in the public square.

That sounds an awful lot like this political system.

Harassing Members of A Church - Because of Their Membership

Apart from those repulsive efforts, how else is the opposition to Prop 8 playing out in the lives of ordinary Mormons? Well, here's a story you won't read about in the mainstream news media. I received it in a private e-mail:

This weekend we have stake conference. [Ed.: A "stake" is a geographic unit of LDS congregations, and is the rough equivalent of a Catholic diocese.] Our stake conference always begins with a stake temple session on Friday or Thursday night. Early Friday morning I received a call from the second counselor in our bishopric to let me know that there would be numerous protesters outside the temple, and to remind everyone to stay calm and to drive carefully. The beautiful Oakland Temple is located right across the bay from San Francisco, very close to the city of Berkeley. Apparently the opposition to proposition 8, the amendment that seeks to make marriage in CA between a man and a woman again, has realized the deep involvement of the [LDS] church and begun to protest right outside of the temple and harass temple patrons. The fastest way to get to the temple from our house is to take the 680 freeway, but the exit is a bit tricky. The off ramp is extremely short and straight uphill. You then make an almost blind left turn, an immediate right and another left into the parking lot.

As we approached the off ramp, I realized there would be trouble. There was a backup onto the freeway from cars stalled on the off ramp. As we moved forward inches at a time, we realized this was due to a large group of loud protesters who were standing on both sides of the street, yelling, screaming and waving signs. When we got to the top of the offramp, ready to make our turn, one protester jumped out right in front of our car. It took my husband all his self control to carefully maneuver around him to the left and proceed to the temple. I tried not to listen to all they were shouting at us, but I was shaking as I got to the temple front door.

Several of the sisters, especially the ones driving on their own, were crying . . . .
Another e-mail correspondent tells me the Oakland police did not respond to requests for help.

Keep in mind: Not everyone in the Church actively supports Prop 8. There is no way the Prop 8 protesters at the Oakland temple knew whether or not the members they were harassing had anything to do with the Church's efforts in support of the measure. They were harassing those people simply because they were Mormons.

As one of our readers notes, "It is more than a little frightening how much the Left is so much enamored with the tactic of attacking the messenger rather than engaging the substantive issues."

Yes, it is.

_____________

Full disclosure: I am a Prop 8 grassroots worker myself. My wife is Deputy Communications Director for the Yes On 8 Campaign. She had no awareness of this post prior to my publishing it, and the views expressed here are my own.

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Obama Campaign Refuses to Debate Republican Jewish Coalition

Although Senator Barack Obama says that as President he would meet without preconditions with the leaders of Iran, apparently his campaign does not feel similarly about the Republican Jewish Coalition. As reported in the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, the Obama campaign has decided that advisers and representatives of the Democratic nominee for president will no longer debate officials from the Republican Jewish Coalition. The Jewish Journal reports:
This prohibition led Wednesday to the canceling of a debate scheduled for Sunday at Valley Cities Jewish Community Center in Van Nuys organized by the Council of Israeli Community in Los Angeles. Larry Greenfield, California director of the RJC, said he still plans to show up. His counterpart, former Rep. Mel Levine, who is a Middle East adviser for Obama, will not participate in what would have been his fourth debate with Greenfield.
"Mere Rhetoric" contends that this incident is a replay of a tactic that the Obama campaign has pursued with Jewish public affairs organizations throughout the country.

Apparently, the Obama campaign, despite its lead in the polls, is concerned about its inability to maintain the usual Democratic Party advantage with Jewish voters, and somehow has determined that the appropriate tactical response is to avoid debates in front of Jewish audiences. The Jewish Journal article notes, "Only one Democratic presidential candidate since the 1920s has received less than 60 percent of the Jewish vote—President Carter in 1980—and polls from the American Jewish Committee and Gallup show Obama grasping for that minimum mark of support."

So much for bipartisan dialogue.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Prop 8 video of the day: Your Rights

I'll be posting these at least once a day for the next seven days. Here's the first one:



If you are persuaded by this video, send it to others who are still studying the issue.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I'm not sure Obama is helping himself in this Joe the Plumber thing

Here he is, mocking the guy whose honest question Obama foolishly answered honestly. The pro-Obama crowd laughs.

Don't Blame Capitalism for the Economic Collapse

In a column in the Washington Post, entitled "Don't Blame Capitalism," Peter Schiff, the President of Euro Pacific Capital, argues that government largely caused the current crisis in the financial markets, and, more ominously, that the "remedies" currently being pursued by government threaten to prolong and deepen the downturn. As market forces act to deflate the credit bubble, created by government policies, the government is stepping in to reinflate it, Schiff notes:

"First came the Treasury's $700 billion plan to purchase mortgage assets that no one in the private sector would buy. Now it has recapitalized banks to the tune of $250 billion, guaranteeing loans between banks and fully insuring non-interest-bearing accounts. Policymakers say that absent these steps, banks would not be able to extend loans. But given our already staggering debt burden, perhaps more loans are not the answer. That's what the free market is telling us. But the government cannot abide solutions that ask for consumer sacrifice.

"Real credit can be supplied only by savings, so artificial steps to stimulate lending will only produce inflation. By refusing to allow market forces to rein in excess spending, liquidate bad investments, replenish depleted savings, fund capital investment and help workers transition from the service sector to the manufacturing sector, government is resisting the cure while exacerbating the disease."


Schiff concludes with a warning that "Binding the country to a tangle of socialist ideals will seal our fate as a second-rate economic power."

I think he is right? How about you?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Same-sex marriage in California: Party A and Party B

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Proposition 8: A conversation-starter

Watch this video and share it if you like it:

Our Future Under President Obama

Barack Obama:
"'Your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn't it?' the plumber asked, complaining that he was being taxed 'more and more for fulfilling the American dream.'

"'It's not that I want to punish your success. I just want to make sure that everybody who is behind you, that they've got a chance for success too,' Obama responded. 'My attitude is that if the economy's good for folks from the bottom up, it's gonna be good for everybody ... I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody.'"

Monday, October 13, 2008

Same-Sex Marriage and the Public School Curriculum

Here's the "Yes on 8" ad based on the Parker v. Hurley case, which I discuss below.



The question: Is it appropriate and desirable for public schools to be teaching second-graders that same-sex marriage is just like any other marriage? I don't think so, but I am just one voter. I do think that the question is not one for the courts, but for the people.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Columnists Clash Over the Hearts and Minds of Jewish Voters

Over at the Jerusalem Post, Jonathan Rosenblum, who writes from the perspective of the fervently Orthodox Jewish community, examines the reasons for support of Obama from younger Jewish voters, and finds them wanting. He sees only danger in Obama's naive belief in the power of words when dealing with the enemies of both the United States and Israel, such as Hamas and the Iran. Commenting on the call from Jewish-American comedienne Sarah Silverman for young Jewish voters to travel to Florida to convince their grandparents ("Bubby and Zaide") to vote for Obama, he concludes:

So an Obama presidency would likely result in an Israel living within indefensible borders and in the crosshairs of a nuclear Iran. Bubbie and zaidie should tell their progeny that in Jewish tradition wisdom flows from the elders to young, not vice versa.

New Republic Editor Martin Peretz makes the case for Obama in another Jerusalem Post column, entitled "There Are Reasons Why There Are So Few Jewish Republicans." The respective arguments of the two Jewish writers make for an interesting comparison, and I encourage our readers to draw their own conclusions. However, my impression was that Mr. Peretz uncharacteristically engages in the ad hominem attacks that typify the Left; basically, he argues that Jews reject the GOP because it is, in his words, "the camp of ignorance and bias. It is against science; it is against tolerance; it is against egalitarian law; it is against the tradition of the prophets; it is against religious and intellectual liberty; it is hypocritical."

His basis for reassurance regarding Obama's support for Israel comes down to "Trust me [trust Peretz, not Obama]." Quoting Joe Biden, who said, "I would never, ever have joined this ticket were I not absolutely sure Barack Obama shared my passion [for Israel]," Peretz concludes, "That goes for me, too. And I'm a stickler on this, even a bit fanatical."

I actually do not doubt that both Joe Biden and Barack Obama believe that they have Israel's best interests at heart. The problem is, as Rosenberg points out, that good intentions are no substitution for bad policy. Bill Clinton no doubt thought that he had Israel's best interests at heart. As Rosenberg notes, "The last time an American president [Clinton] made solving the conflict a high priority, Israel ended up with the Aksa intifada and open warfare."

Friday, October 10, 2008

Jewish Community Leader Morris Amitay Endorses McCain

Morris J. Amitay is a prominent Washington, D.C. attorney, the former Executive Director of AIPAC--the American Israel Political Action Committee--and the founder of Washington PAC, another pro-Israel political action committee. In this column published at JTA, he endorses John McCain based on Senator McCain's foreign policy experience and views.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

A McCain ad that is bound to produce much caterwauling

But backed up by facts that Senator Obama does not want to respond to:



Have fun sending this to everyone you know. Especially undecided voters.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Temple-Era Inscription Found, Reading "Son of the High Priest"



Palestinian leaders frequently make the claim that there never was a Jewish Temple on Har HaBayit, the Temple Mount, now the site of the Al Aksa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock. They also insist that there never even was a Jewish commonwealth in the Land of Israel. Yassir Arafat famously made the claim at Camp David in 2007. In March 2007, Sheikh Taysir Tamimi, the Palestinian Authority's Chief Justice, and the person considered the most important Palestinian Muslim cleric after Muhammad Hussein, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, said in an interview:

"Israel started since 1967 making archeological digs to show Jewish signs to prove the relationship between Judaism and the city and they found nothing. There is no Jewish connection to Israel before the Jews invaded in the 1880's," said Tamimi.

"About these so-called two Temples, they never existed, certainly not at the Haram Al- Sharif (Temple Mount)," Tamimi said.

The only problem is that those Jews who never lived in the Land of Israel left behind a lot of litter. The archaelogical evidence that Sheikh Tamimi insists has never been found actually fills museums.

The most recent spectacular archeological find is a fragment of a limestone sarcophaghus, bearing the inscription "ben HaCohen HaGadol," meaning "son of the High Priest," in Hebrew letters so clear that any 7-year old yeshiva student could read them. (See photo above.) The sarcophaghus apparently once held the remains of a son of the High Priest of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, one of the two Jewish Temples that the Palestinians say never existed. Because the portion of the sarcophaghus that would have contained the name of the deceased has not been found, scholars cannot identify to whom it belonged. They estimate that it came from the late Second Temple period, between 30 and 70 C.E.

Archaeologists discovered the fragment in the course of excavations north of Jerusalem. According to the story in the Jerusalem Post:
Pools and cisterns, public and residential buildings, and agricultural installations that range in date from the end of the Second Temple period to the early Islamic period have been discovered during the course of the excavations. The area is associated with the tribe of Benjamin where the priests resided during the Second Temple period.

The fragment apparently was moved from its original location approximately 1,000 years ago and was used in the construction of a later Muslim building that was erected atop the ruins of the houses from the Second Temple period.
That last note shows the motivation behind the lies of Palestinian leaders, including their Muslim clerics. Around the world, Muslim conquerors demolished the holy places of the religions that preceded them, building mosques on those sites. Sometimes they simply converted the existing buildings into mosques, as one sees in the spectacular Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, which was built between 532 and 537 C.E., as a Byzantine cathedral, by Emperor Justinian, and was converted into the Ayasofya Mosque when Constantinople was conquered by the Ottoman Turks in 1453.

Of course, the Romans had already destroyed the Second Temple on the Temple Mount before the Muslim armies under Caliph Omar seized Jerusalem from the faltering Byzantine empire in 636. Omar was kinder to the Christians whom he had conquered, and to whom he offered security for their churches and worship, than he was to Jerusalem's Jewish remnant--his treaty with the Christians expressly continued the existing ban against Jews residing in Jerusalem. Omar and his successors constructed the mosques on the Temple Mount, which remained under Muslim rule until June 1967, when it was captured by the Israeli army. The Israelis promptly returned custody of the top of the Temple Mount to the Muslim Waqf, which rewards Israel by publicly denying the Jewish connection to the Land of Israel.

The only problem is that their lies keep being disproved by the facts on the ground, or, more accurately, the facts in the ground.

Monday, October 06, 2008

CBS News: African Americans and California's Proposition 8

Here's an evenly-balanced CBS News story on African-American voters and Proposition 8:



It's an interesting addendum to my post below. In this report, as I watch people wrestle with the same-gender marriage issue, the highly-charged nature of the debate over Prop 8 is clear to see.

ALL RIGHT, YOU WALL STREET NINNIES AND BANKS, STOP PANICKING! [SLAP!] CALM DOWN, THINGS ARE NOT THAT BAD.

First you financial geniuses bought, sold and traded all sorts of derivatives and credit insurance instruments that you didn't understand (no one did, including the issuers). That did not stop you from collecting huge fees and shamelessly justifying your unconscionable income by claiming you wore the mantle of financial prophecy.

Now things are getting a bid rough and you panic, even with Uncle Sammy stepping in to bail you out. Stop it! [Slap!] Get yourself together. Calm down. It's not that bad.

You know all those sub-prime mortgages behind the CDO's you either bought or guaranteed. Well, there are still real houses there, built on real land, which means there is some real value, probably more than 60-70% of the loans on those properties. It's not a total loss. The Dow is now down about 30% from its all-time high of 14,280. There are shares in solid companies that are now priced as bargains. Lenders, there are solvent people and businesses out there, who are financially responsible and need loans. Lend money to those borrowers, and they will perform, they will pay on time and they will make you money. Let's get some perspective, folks.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

The Presidential Campaigns on same-sex marriage: The Mainstream View

Here's a video excerpt from the Palin-Biden debate, in which both Sarah Palin and Joe Biden state unequivocally that neither presidential campaign supports any redefinition of marriage.

As I noted in my post below, it's very hard to make John McCain out to be a bigot on this issue. It is much harder, I think, for Prop 8 opponents to make Barack Obama and Joe Biden out to be bigots.

With both presidential campaigns opposed to same-sex marriage, it seems to me that if you vote for Prop 8, you are not an "extremist," or a bigot, or a homophobe. You agree with both presidential candidates, and you are in the mainstream of American thinking on the issue.

video

UPDATE: I haven't run this down yet, but as I expected, Obama's campaign is backfilling. Reportedly they are saying that although he opposes same-sex marriage, he opposes Prop 8 for reasons specific to that measure.

No matter. The point is that Obama opposes a redefinition of marriage. That takes the "extremist" and "bigot" cards away from Prop 8's opponents.

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Saturday, October 04, 2008

John McCain on Proposition 8 and related issues

Senator McCain gave an "exclusive written interview" to The Washington Blade, a gay newspaper. The whole thing is worth a read. Some excerpts:
Blade: What is your position on California's Proposition 8, which would ban same-sex marriage there?

McCain: As I did in my home state of Arizona, I support the effort in California to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman. However, the people of California will ultimately decide this issue, and I’ll of course respect the decision of the voters.
If supporters of Prop 8 are bigots, then John McCain is a bigot. I think the "John McCain's a bigot" case is a tough one to make.

Other relevant comments:
Blade: What are your views regarding the Defense of Marriage Act? Do you think DOMA devalues the relationships of gay citizens?

McCain: As a Republican, I am a strong advocate for federalism. States should be able to decide as many issues as possible. That’s certainly the case on the definition of marriage. My home state of Arizona shouldn’t be compelled to recognize a marriage from California or Massachusetts. Those states can decide that issue by themselves.

However, at the same time, my own view is that marriage should be reserved for a man and a woman. That’s what I supported in Arizona. I realize this is a controversial issue and we must conduct this debate in a way that respects the dignity of every person.

Blade: What is your view of attempts to pass a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage? Do you think repeal of all of DOMA would prompt Congress to strongly consider and possibly pass a constitutional ban on gay marriage?

McCain: I voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2004 and 2006. I continue to oppose such an amendment today, because as I’ve explained this should be a state matter, and not one for the federal government — as long as no state is forced to adopt some other state’s standard.

Blade: Regarding adoption by same-sex couples, you have been quoted as saying you don’t believe it’s appropriate. Can you elaborate?

McCain: I hope my comments are not misinterpreted. I respect the hundreds of thousands of gay and lesbian people who are doing their best to raise the children they have adopted. As someone who adopted a child, Cindy and I know better than most couples the amazing satisfaction that comes from providing love to an unwanted child. I believe a child is best raised by a mother and father because of the unique contributions that they make together to the development of a child.

At the end of the day, this isn’t an issue the president deals with. I’m a federalist, and this is an issue reserved to the states in our system of government.
Those sound like pretty mainstream positions to me.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Jackie Mason Responds to Sarah Silverman On Jews Voting for Obama

Recently Sarah Silverman, the lovely but foul-mouthed comedienne, made a promotional spot for The Great Schlep. The Great Schlep is a campaign to have young Jews fly to the key election State of Florida, to visit their grandparents and persuade them to vote for Barack Obama. The theme of Ms. Silverman's pep talk to my junior co-religionists is that those Jewish grandparents would normally be voting for the Democratic candidate, and are hesitating in this case only because they are closet racists and because Obama has an Islamic name.

Jackie Mason does not suffer either fools or politically correct entertainers lightly, and Ms. Silverman would seem to qualify on both counts. For a good laugh, listen to what Jackie has to say, here.

Hugh Hewitt and CNN's John Roberts on Gov. Palin

This is very much worth the 8 minutes it takes to watch:



Notice John Robert's defensiveness and general lack of understanding about the difference between "mentioning" a politician's gaffe and making the gaffe part of the national discussion.

(HT: Hugh Hewitt.)

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Same-sex marriage is about more than "I do"

Bill May's San Francisco Chronicle Op-ed

Bill May is chairman of Catholics for the Common Good, "a nonpartisan Catholic organization focusing on issues related to the social teachings of the Catholic Church." He has written this piece in the San Francisco Chronicle today. It's a short, well-written summary of the key reasons to support California's Proposition 8. Mr. May begins:
Marriage in California isn't just about the rights of loving and committed gay couples. If that were the issue, Proposition 8 wouldn't be on the state ballot. All Californians respect the right of gay couples to live the lifestyle they choose and to enjoy the same legal protections of every citizen. California's laws, including our expansive domestic partnership statutes, already provide every legal right to gay couples that are provided to married spouses.

The California Supreme Court's ruling last May gave birth to a broader perspective on same-sex marriage, and that is how it affects the rest of society. That's why Proposition 8 is on the ballot, and that is why we are working hard to pass it.
Read the whole thing. May's op-ed is brief; he lacks the space to go into much detail, but every point he makes can be substantiated.

California's Education Code Section 51890 and Parker v. Hurley

For example, May refers to a 2007 federal court decision arising out of Massachusetts. The case is Parker v. Hurley. By 2007, Massachusetts had been living for four years with a 2003 decision by that state's Supreme Court, which, like California's high court, had discovered that same-sex marriage is a right under that state's constitution.

In Parker, a teacher had taught a second-grade class using a book telling the story of a prince who married another prince, rather than a princess. Some parents complained, asking to be allowed to opt out of such instruction until their children were in the seventh grade. When the school district refused, the parents sued in federal court.

They lost. The opinion of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit is right here. It is 43 pages long, but if you read pages 5-11 you will see described the very situation that many concerned California voters and parents fear will occur in our state.

Why? Because like Massachusetts, we have a statute, Education Code Section 51890, which requires:
(1) Pupils will receive instruction to aid them in making decisions in matters of personal, family, and community health, to
include the following subjects:

. . .

(D) Family health and child development, including the legal and
financial aspects and responsibilities of marriage and parenthood.
It is not difficult at all to imagine California schools using the "two princes" story, or one like it, for second-graders here, just as the story was used in Massachusetts.

In fact, the Los Angeles Unified School District has already passed a resolution opposing Proposition 8. If, like me, you wonder why a school district would take a position on a ballot proposition that seeks to define marriage, you might also worry that LAUSD will engage in the same kind of instruction that the Massachusetts school district did in Parker v. Hurley. After all, Education Code Section 51890 does require California schools to teach children about marriage, from kindergarten forward.

Consider the Consequences

These are real concerns, held by responsible, thoughtful, compassionate people who care about what their children are taught, and when it is taught to them. When you see proponents of Prop 8 called "extremists," think about Parker v. Hurley and ask yourself: Is it "extreme" to be concerned about such laws and such court decisions? Is there any reason not to expect similar instruction in California public schools, and similar results from California courts?

A video interview with the parents in the Parker case is here. Watch it and see if you think it's outlandish to believe that without Prop 8, such battles will be part of our future in California.

The fact is, if Proposition 8 is not passed and the California Supreme Court's decision is allowed to stand, there will be consequences. This is undeniable. What also seems certain is that we cannot be certain what those consequences will be. The Parker v. Hurley scenario is only one possible consequence. We'll post about some others in the coming days.