Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Pro-Gay Marriage Reader - A Constitutional Perspective

The Constitutional Case for Same-Sex Marriage ||

A strong argument that, while acknowledging that the libertarian notion that the best deal would be for the government to get out of the marriage business, also acknowledges the Jim Crow-like 2-tier marriage system is here and needs to be dealt with. Marriage for me, but not for thee, it argues, is not how things should be until the government gets completely out. Perhaps its most powerful argument, however, is that "[b]y outlawing same-sex marriage, the states are essentially forbidding religious institutions to marry whom they with."

The Moral and Constitutional Case for a Right to Gay Marriage ||

The Chairman of the libertarian-think tank the Cato Institute argues that "equal protection of the law" applies to homosexual/same-sex couples as well. Levy says that no compelling reason why the government sanctions marriage for heterosexuals and not for homosexuals has been given. Additionally, he argues that reasons to ban same-sex marriage - it would weaken the institution of marriage - isn't helped by that very ban, and offers legal suggestions to strengthen conservatives beloved institution.

The take-away from both articles:

The strongest case, it seems, for the pro-same-sex marriage crowd is to argue that banning gay marriage is a violation of the "equal protection of the law" granted in the 14th Amendment. Also, both writers are libertarians it seems they really wish - Levy uses the term "regrettably" - the government didn't get involved in marriage in the first place.

Bonus: Can We Really Get The Government Out of Marriage?

A piece giving a historical overview of the government's involvement in marriage, including property, taxes, and all sorts of benefits and protections, and acknowledges that "marriage licenses" are relatively new in human, or at least Western, history.

Bonus: When Did Laws Denying Same-Sex Couples Marriage Licenses Become Unconstitutional?

Another history lesson. This time, it answers when denying marriage licenses to gays became unconstitutional.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Put Hetero-Sexual Marriage on Every Ballot and See If It Passes

In an otherwise useless article, comedian Dean Obeidallah says that we should put man-woman/traditional marriage on the ballot and see if it passes:
So I say forget putting a question on the ballot about legalizing same-sex marriage. I propose we put a question on the ballot in each state asking voters whether straight marriage should be legal. I think there is a good chance straight marriage might not pass in every state (especially in those with high divorce rates such as Nevada, Maine and Oklahoma).
I'm against gay marriage--and straight marriage too || CNN

The Anti-Gay Marriage Reader - Written by Gays

Reasons to Oppose the Institution of Marriage ||

A progressive argument from a faction within the LGBT movement against the institution that, in their view, is the tool of power and privilege. Rails against pro-gay marriage proponents who want a slice of the imperialist pie.

The Libertarian Case Against Gay Marriage || Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo is a Rothbardian, atheist, and openly gay man. He is also one of the leading thinkers in the American libertarian movement and the anti-war right. Here he reminds gays that like its heterosexual counterpart, gay marriage existed before the state intervened in the marriage realm; and argues that gay marriage will hurt gays.

The take-away from both articles:

Both a hardcore old-school progressive and libertarian agree: in the early days of the gay rights movement, "[the prospect of freedom—not only from traditional moral restraints but from legal burdens and responsibilities—is part of what made homosexuality appealing." The modern gay rights movement is far from its anti-state roots on this issue. Somewhat ironically, old-school progressives are more for "limited government" on this issue than conservatives are.

Great Idea: Put "traditional" man-woman marriage on the ballot.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Former Reagan Official: Bain Capital less likely to exist in a free-market

( -- Bain Capital, the company Republican Presidential Candidate spearheaded for XX years, is a product of years of a rigged crony capitalist system, not true free-markets, says former Reagan budget director David Stockman.

[Editor's Note: The link is, admittedly, from an article published in October 2012.]

Senate Select Intelligence Committee views "Real-Time Film" of 9/11 Attacks on Benghazi

Washington ( -- After a long, near-five hour wait, the Senate Select Intelligence Committee emerged from their first closed hearing with intelligence officials on Thursday evening (November 15, 2012) tight-lipped. But of what they could say, the committee acknowledged that they did view a rendition of events put together by the National Counter-Terrorism center.

"We saw a real-time film put together by NCTC of exactly what happened," Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) said Thursday evening.

For almost four hours, members of the committee held a closed hearing with intelligence officials. Scheduled witnesses included Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, acting CIA director Michael Morrell, FBI Deputy Director Sean Joyce, Undersecretary of State for Management Pat Kennedy, and National CounterTerrorism Center Director Matthew Olsen.

All but one member of the Senate Select Intelligence Committee was in attendance at the closed hearing Thursday evening, Feinstein said, but did not name who.

"I’m not going to tell you what questions were asked or what answers given. This is just the first step in the inquiry," Feinstein said.

But Feinstein announced that the committee will hold another two full hearings, when members of Congress come back to work, presumably after the Thanksgiving holiday, and said she anticipates a public hearing to "make our findings that can be unclassified released."

"I think it was a good hearing," Feinstein said. "I think it gave us an idea as to the depth and breadth of this future areas to question. We have just to continue to do so and plow through this until we believe we have enough information."

Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) said that he learned that "mistakes were made" and that "we got to learn from that."

"Our membership asked some very hard and very tough questions of our witnesses today and were going to continue to do that at our subsequent hearings Mrs. Chairman outlined," Chambliss said.

Chambliss praised the "professionalism" of all who were involved in the hearing, namely, the "men and women who are in the intelligence committee and who are in the armed services who were involved here obviously as well as the State Department."

"There were some very heroic acts that took place," Chambliss said. "That does not in any way minimize obviously the fact that we lost four Americans."

General David Petraeus is scheduled to testify Friday morning. To her understanding, General Petraeus went to Tripoli and interviewed many of the people involved. Additionally, she said the purpose of the closed hearing was Benghazi and she was not willing to comment on the FBI investigation.

When asked if she could say when the Intelligence Comittee obtained the film "to help us with the timeline of what they knew and when they knew it." Feinstein didn't comment on when the film was put together, but noted that the film was a "composite" created from "a number of sources."

"It is real time," Feinstein said, adding that it does begin from before the incident started and goes through the "incident and the exodus."

When asked whether Ambassador Stevens was in the film, Feinstein again didn't comment.

While she did not comment on whether the version of events she learned Thursday held up to the version presented by the Obama administration shortly after the Sept. 11 attacks or if what she learned called into question some of the talking points being raised at the time, she avoided answering those questions not based on the confidentiality of the matter but because there are three more hearings ahead and she doesn't "have all the information" she needs.

However, she said that "a lot of light" was shown on what happened on September 11, 2012 at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi.

"One of the things that we want to do is give any real opinions or analysis because we dont have all the facts," Feinstein said.

"We are in effect fact finding," she continued.

When asked if the CIA asked for back up from Special Ops units in the region and in Europe, she was informed on what "assets were there and what assets were not there" in Benghazi.

[Editor's Note: This is previously unpublished news]

How Rome Ruled

Rome ruled through a very small elite group and through alliances with local kings and leaders. The Romans controlled political, economic, and military structures to benefit themselves at the expense of others. Imperial theology contributed to this domination system. This theology, with appropriate rituals, claimed that Rome and the emperor ruled at the will of the gods. Rome's emperor manifested their presence, will, and benefits on earth.

The Gospel is a counter-narrative that helps its audience to live a counter-cultural, alternative existence in the midst of such claims and commitments. The Gospel asserts that it is God's world, not Rome's (Matthew 11:25; 28:18); that God's reign and presence are manifested in Jesus, and not in the emperor (1:23;4:17); that God's blessings extend to all people, not just the elite (5:3-12); that Jesus, not Rome, reveals God's will.
Warren, Carter. "The Gospel According to Matthew." Introduction. The New Interpreter's Study Bible: New Revised Standard Version with the Apocrypha. By Walter J. Harrelson. Nashville: Abingdon, 2003. 1746. Print.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Things President Obama Has Done Better Than Bush

President Obama is a lot better at drone strikes:
The London-based TBIJ reports that under President Obama CIA drones strikes in tribal parts of Pakistan have occurred at a rate six times faster than his predecessor George W. Bush in parts of Pakistan, as of December 2012. That rate was about once every five days during his first term.

From 2004 to 2013, there were 365 drone strikes. Out of those, 313 were under the Obama administration.

Under President Obama, 2,152 people were reported killed, of whom 290 were civilians. By contrast, 438 people were killed under President Bush, of whom 182 were civilians.

Under Bush, more children were killed by drone strikes (112) than under Obama (64) in his first term.

The 300th drone strike occurred under President Obama in early December 2012. The first drone strike to occur under his watch was just three days into his presidency, which is reported to have killed 12 civilians.
 President Obama is a lot better at deportation:
-Although President Obama supports setting a path to citizenship for many illegal immigrants, his administration deported a record 1.5 million of them in his first term.
-In addition, the latest data released by the government in recent days show that an unprecedented 409,849 people were deported for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.
The increase from the previous year occurred despite policy changes ordered by Obama to reduce the deportations of otherwise law-abiding illegal immigrants.

-Roughly 55 percent, or more than 225,000 people, deported in the past year were convicted of crimes such as drug offenses and driving under the influence. Immigration officials note that they deported nearly twice as many convicted criminals as in the year before Obama took office. That year, in 2008, criminals made up about a third of all deportations.
 President Obama is a lot better at running up the national debt:
-According to the treasury department’s count, the debt has grown $5.3 trillion since Obama took office in 2009, compared to $4.9 trillion in Bush’s eight years. (Politifact, September 2012)

-“Less Than Two Months Into President Obama’s Second Term, New Numbers Show The National Debt Increased By More Than $6 Trillion Since He Took Office. It’s The Largest Increase To Date Under Any U.S. President.” (Mark Knoller, “National Debt Up $6 Trillion Since Obama Took Office,” CBS News, 3/1/13) 

-Under Obama, The National Debt Has Increased By $6.1 Trillion, From $10.6 Trillion To $16.7 Trillion – An Increase Of 57 Percent. (US Department Of The Treasury,, Accessed 3/13/13)

President Obama is a lot better at running trillion-dollar deficits:

-“All The Trillion-Dollar Deficits Have Taken Place Under President Obama.” “The federal government ran up a $293 billion deficit in the first quarter of fiscal 2013, which ended Dec. 31, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated Tuesday. The government’s fiscal year starts on Oct. 1st. At this pace, the deficit would be on pace to top $1 trillion for the fifth-straight year in 2013. All the trillion-dollar deficits have taken place under President Obama.” (Eric Wasson, “First-Quarter Deficit Was $293 Billion, CBO Says,” The Hill, 1/8/13) 
[Editor's Note: This list will be updated every once in a while until the end of President Obama's second term, and whenever some clever reporter reveals an interesting fact about the two presidents.]

Obama: There Is No Debt Crisis

Obama: There is No Debt Crisis || ABC News

GOP Response ||

I didn't know this: “All The Trillion-Dollar Deficits Have Taken Place Under President Obama.”

Obama, The Puppet Master

Great Excerpts that I resonate with from a great POLITICO article:
~President Barack Obama is a master at limiting, shaping and manipulating media coverage of himself and his White House."

~Former Clinton Press Aide: “The White House gets away with stuff I would never have dreamed of doing."

~"The president has shut down interviews with many of the White House reporters who know the most and ask the toughest questions. Instead, he spends way more time talking directly to voters via friendly shows and media personalities. Why bother with The New York Times beat reporter when Obama can go on “The View”?

~"Obama boasted Thursday during a Google+ Hangout from the White House: “This is the most transparent administration in history.” The people who cover him day to day see it very differently."

~"“The way the president’s availability to the press has shrunk in the last two years is a disgrace,” said ABC News White House reporter Ann Compton, who has covered every president back to Gerald R. Ford."

~"One authentically new technique pioneered by the Obama White House is extensive government creation of content (photos of the president, videos of White House officials, blog posts written by Obama aides), which can then be instantly released to the masses through social media. They often include footage unavailable to the press...But I don’t blame the White House for doing it, because networks and newspapers use them. So the White House has built its own content distribution network.”

~"His 2012 opponent, Mitt Romney, was equally adept at substance-free encounters with reporters."

~"They are more disciplined about cracking down on staff that leak, or reporters who write things they don’t like."

~"Conservatives assume a cozy relationship between this White House and the reporters who cover it. Wrong. Many reporters find Obama himself strangely fearful of talking with them and often aloof and cocky when he does."

~"Obama himself sees little upside to wide-ranging interviews with the beat reporters for the big newspapers — hence, the stiffing of even The New York Times since 2010."

~"The super-safe, softball interview is an Obama specialty"

~“This administration loves to boast about how transparent they are, but they’re transparent about things they want to be transparent about,” said Mark Knoller, the veteran CBS News reporter. “He gives interviews not for our benefit, but to achieve his objective.”

~* They are also masters of scrutiny avoidance. The president has not granted an interview to print reporters at The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, POLITICO and others in years. These are the reporters who are often most likely to ask tough, unpredictable questions.

~* While White House officials deny it is intentional, this administration —like its predecessors — does some good old-fashioned bullying of reporters: making clear there will be no interviews, or even questions at press conferences, if aides are displeased with their coverage.

~“The goal is not to satisfy the requester, but doing what is necessary to get into people’s homes and communicate your agenda to the American people.” -Jen Psaki, Former Obama Campaign Press Secretary
Obama, The Puppet Master || POLITICO

Monday, March 18, 2013

Obama No George W. Bush on Drones

President Obama is reported to have said last Tuesday during a private meeting with the Senate Democratic Conference that he is no Dick Cheney on drones -- and according to data compiled by The Bureau of Investigative Journalism he isn't quite George W. Bush either.

The London-based TBIJ reports that under President Obama CIA drones strikes in tribal parts of Pakistan have occurred at a rate six times faster than his predecessor George W. Bush in parts of Pakistan, as of December 2012. That rate was about once every five days during his first term.

From 2004 to 2013, there were 365 drone strikes. Out of those, 313 were under the Obama administration.

Under President Obama, 2,152 people were reported killed, of whom 290 were civilians. By contrast, 438 people were killed under President Bush, of whom 182 were civilians.

Under Bush, more children were killed by drone strikes (112) than under Obama (64) in his first term.

The 300th drone strike occurred under President Obama in early December 2012. The first drone strike to occur under his watch was just three days into his presidency, which is reported to have killed 12 civilians. Ironically, President Obama was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize not long afterward. Submissions for the Nobel Peace Prize were due by Feb. 1, 2009 -- just days into the Obama first term.

The Dick Cheney reference was reportedly a reference to the the lack of oversight under his predecessor's administration.

"This is not Dick Cheney we're talking about here," according to two Senators who POLITICO reports did not want to be named. Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) is reportedly to have brought the issue to the President, and the President assured Democratic Senators that he's more open to transparency than Bush.

Numerous Democratic lawmakers on both the House and the Senate side of Congress have recently demanded more information from the White House on the administration's drone policy.

Last week, eight House Democrats led by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) sent a letter to President Obama asking for more details on the administration's drone policy.

On the Senate side, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) voted against the confirmation of Obama's now-CIA Director John Brennan, for not releasing legal memos pertaining to drones. Rockefeller himself raised the issue in a hearing last week as well, as POLITICO reports.

And of course, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) raised the issue of drones strikes on American citizens in a historic filibuster earlier in March.

Print Media is 'More Undermanned and Unprepared to Cover Stories'

The report identifies six major trends in 2013, as follows:

1. Americans are noticing the effects of a decade of newsroom cutbacks:  More men than women -- and more well-educated and higher-income Americans -- have stopped turning to a news outlet because it no longer provides them with the information they had come to expect. With reporting resources cut to the bone and fewer specialized beats, journalists’ level of expertise in any one area and the ability to go deep into a story are compromised.

6. Hearing about news stories from friends and family, whether via social media or actual word of mouth, leads to deeper news consumption. A majority of Americans seek out a full news story after hearing about an event or issue from friends and family, a new Pew Research survey finds. For nearly three-quarters of adults (72%), the most common way to get news from friends and family is by having someone talk to them, either in person or over the phone. And among that group, close to two-thirds (63%) somewhat or very often seek out a news story about that event or issue. Social networking is now a part of this process as well: 15% of U.S. adults get most of their news from friends and family this way, and the vast majority of them (77%) follow links to full news stories.
 News Industry 'More Undermanned and Unprepared to Cover Stories' | CNS News

Sunday, March 17, 2013

30 years, 8,269 laws, and none prevented our current state of economic affairs

This should give you some pause the next time a politician advocates passing a law for the benefit of the American people.

According to a 2012 report from USA Today, Congress passed only 61 laws at the time of the article's publication (August 14-15, 2012), and could possibly be the least productive congress since 1947.

Here's a chart and following it is my take on those numbers:
Fewer laws have been passed by this Congress than by any other in the last 65 years. Number of laws passed each year by Congress since 1947:

2012: 61; 2011: 90; 2010: 258; 2009: 125; 2008: 280; 2007: 180; 2006: 313; 2005: 169; 2004: 300; 2003: 198; 2002: 241; 2001: 136; 2000: 410; 1999: 170; 1998: 241; 1997: 153; 1996: 245; 1995: 88; 1994: 255; 1993: 210; 1992: 347; 1991: 243; 1990: 410; 1989: 240; 1988: 473; 1987: 240; 1986: 424; 1985: 240; 1984: 408; 1983: 215; 1982: 328; 1981: 145; 1980: 426; 1979: 187; 1978: 411; 1977: 223; 1976: 383; 1975: 205; 1974: 404; 1973: 245; 1972: 383; 1971: 224; 1970: 505; 1969: 190; 1968: 391; 1967: 391; 1966: 461; 1965: 349; 1964: 408; 1963: 258; 1962: 484; 1961: 401; 1960: 417; 1959: 383; 1958: 620; 1957: 316; 1956: 638; 1955: 390; 1954: 492; 1953: 288; 1952: 339; 1951: 255; 1950: 481; 1949: 440; 1948: 511; 1947: 395

Source: House Clerk's Office

30 years, 8,269 laws passed, and none of them prevented the housing crisis, the decline of the dollar, gave us Federal Reserve transparency, undid the money monopoly at the Fed, prevented war, limited executive power. (I start counting 30 years at 1977 and end at 2007--when the housing crisis was really evident.)

Will any law passed in 2012 and beyond the article's publication date prevent the next crisis? Limit executive power? Decentralize economic power?

Monday, March 4, 2013

Bill Maher Real Time 'The Israelis Are Controlling Our Government'

Bill Maher points out that Chuck Hagel received so much opposition from right-wing Republican senators, even though he is a right-wing Republican that voted for the Iraq War, Afghanistan War, the PATRIOT act, and Department of Homeland Security -- and yet Republicans still didn't want the guy as Department of Defense Secretary.

"He's a right-wing republican and that's not good enough?" Maher asked.

Two explanations immediately come to mind: (1) The Maher explanation: Republicans filibustered Obama's nominee for Defense Secretary simply because he's Obama's nominee, and (2)You just aren't allowed to question Israel. (Other explanations do come to mind)

I always wanted to know from Hagel although he voiced criticism against certain policies and yet he always voted with the Republican party on the above-listed issues will he always go along with Obama's policy despite having personal objections to the policy.

This raises serious issues if you don't like Obama's policies. Why would you confirm a Secretary of Defense who spent all his political career going with the flow?

Hagel's criticism's, of course, do deeply trouble Republicans because they are out of line with Republican foreign relations orthodoxy. Why should the guy who is critical of establishment policy--which ironically is generally shared by the President--be put in the position to make policy and influence policy?

WCF Chapter One "Of Holy Scripture" Sunday School (Sept.-Oct. 2021)

Our text for Sunday School (also "The Confession of Faith and Catechisms") Biblical Theology Bites What is "Biblical Theology...