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July 08, 2006

Faith and Politics

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Rod Dreher was much-struck by a recent Barack Obama speech about faith. Obama was apparently intelligent and respectful. He seemed sincere. Might he prove to be the politician who will mend the left/right wound over religion and politics? Rod wrote a touching and thoughtful posting about Obama; many visitors pitched in with thoughtful comments of their own.

I didn't see, hear, or read the speech, but I couldn't resist popping up in the commentsfest with the following:

I dunno, I take a different view of the politics thing than the bunch of you do, I guess. Probably a more facile-y cynical one, but it works for me. It goes this way. They're all (all the pols, all the parties) gaming us. They're all basically driven by a love of power -- why else would they politicians? (Let us not be children about this!) And 90%-110% of what they do consists of gratifying their own egos, putting the screws to us, and sewing up their own careers and statures.

Nonetheless, they're constrained by the knowledge that every now and then enough of us get riled up about their misbehavior and abuse to throw 'em out of office. And that keeps them in a little better line than they'd stay in otherwise. Their well-rewarded job is to run or pretend to run the political side of our country, and so long as they don't mess it up too bad, we tend to let them get away with a lot. After all, we have lives to lead.

It seems to me childish to spend too much time on the search for that one true sincere earnest politician who really isn't like that. I mean, how much heartbreak can you take? And how long can you cling to your naivete, no matter how sweet? It's important to remember that every now and then a worthwhile political person or two comes along and a worthwhile political thing or two happens. But they're soooooo much the exception to the rule that living day to day in the hope of them is like wasting all your energy *trying* to be happy instead of just living your life and relishing the happiness when it does come along. It's self-defeating. Chase happiness and you'll seldom catch it. Stop worrying about happiness, lead life pretty fully, and happiness will likely happen along from time to time.

JFK: power-driven megalomaniac. Cuomo: power-driven megalomaniac. Bush family: I don't know what, exactly, but I don't like them any better.

Maybe Obama is the real thing, maybe not. But why spend too much psychic energy hoping for the best? Even if he's a "good man," the system's liable to crush that out of him anyway. Maybe not! But meanwhile I'll choose to get on with life. Politics is a kind of fun spectacle to check in on from time to time -- but why waste energy cheering one would-be "hero" after another? Unless that amuses you, of course ...

The interesting question to me isn't why things should be like this. Things are always like this. They're just a little more like this than they once were, perhaps.

I blame it on the '60s. The ethos of self-gratification hit our elites hard. They no longer had to pretend to be honor-bound to respect the rest of us, and to respect the system that made it possible for them to ascend so high. No, now they could be out for themselves as nakedly as they wanted. Self-gratification is good, even for the rich, connected, and powerful. So flaunt it! Get away with what you can get away with! Screw everyone else! Ever since, they've been completely irresponsible. Label honor and respect as square and throw them out because you're too cool to be square, and that's what happens.

The immigration issue's interesting to me because it throws into high relief just how much of a split -- and how antagonistic a split -- there is between the elites and America's regular people. The elites want one thing, the people (generally) want another, and the elites are doing whatever they can to stick it to us --- and they seem quite surprised to see us digging in our heels a little over this. It's a genuine Them vs. Us showdown. Now that doesn't come along very often! Whee: what fun! I've run across some people who think that immigration is a flashfire issue -- that it might prompt a real revolt of the masses, and maybe realign the political parties in a major way. Now that's something I can spend a little psychic energy hoping for. Realistically, though? Hmmm...

Christopher Lasch's "The Revolt of the Elites" was right on the money, it seems to me.

Incidentally, if a sincere Christian faith can help some people (including some pols) live more honorable and respectful lives, then let's have more of it. But -- and I'm just wondering out loud here -- couldn't shame and fear accomplish a lot too? I'd love to see our arrogant elites wake up trembling, aware that if they misbehave too badly (and if they lose too much track of the fact that they're supposed to be serving all of us, after all), we'll turn on them, and turn on them hard.

Where politics is concerned, I tend to think that we're better off investing our hope-energy and our faith-energy elsewhere. What I really mean, of course, is that I'm better off doing that. Still, doesn't it seem as though an awful lot of people spend an awful lot of time and energy looking to politics for what politics -- 99.9% of the time, anyway -- can't deliver? (I think many people tend to do this with the arts too -- look to it for what people once looked to religion for.) How can they stand the endless disappointments and heartbreak?

Hoping for "good men" or "good women" from a field like politics -- to which people are attracted BECAUSE THEY LIKE AND ARE TURNED-ON BY POWER -- seems ludicrous to me. (Apologies for the all-caps exasperation.) Looking for a "good" (as in sincere nice-guy) politician strikes me being like expecting film directors to be normal people, only, y'know, with some filmmaking talent. One of the nifty things about the advent of YouTube and its ilk, btw, is that -- like the blogosophere and unlike the actual movie business -- they offer EZ media-distribution outlets for non-megalomaniacs who happen to have some talent. How cool is that?

Hey, someone who knew the filmbiz well once told me that of all the major film directors this person had known over the course of many decades, only two -- Jean Renoir and Jonathan Demme -- had been non-megalomaniacs. So there's hope! But is it anything one should expect? Let alone waste time rooting for? And who cares anyway? Why not instead be glad that some megalomaniacs are making feature films instead of playing with nukes, and then enjoy the occasional good movie that they manage to turn out? But why -- why on earth -- tell yourself that a movie that you liked or that hit you hard emotionally was able to do that because the people behind it are "good people"? Talk about magical thinking ...

Politics in my view should be about conducting the political end of a country's affairs without too many screwups or doing too much damage. Ie., it requires respect -- or at least behaving as though you have respect -- for your country, your country's (and your countrymen's) heritage, its institutions, and its interests. If there are opportunities to make some small tweaks that might prove worthwhile, go for it. But do so reluctantly, for god's sake.

Haven't we learned a thousand times over that the world specializes in rewarding our ambitions with an overwhelming number of unintended -- and often undesirable -- consequences? This is one reason, as far as I'm concerned, to be skeptical of the push for gay marriage. What we have now -- a patchwork of traditional marriage and a lot of other, more makeshift partner-arrangements -- is certainly imperfect. But it works; it serves reasonably well. Reasonably well is pretty good! Is there a great deal of certainty that messing dramatically with such arrangements will work out for the better? If not, why take the chance?

As far as I'm concerned, grand ambitions -- whether of the social-welfare kind or of the making-war kind -- are always to be mistrusted. It never hurts to remember that you're playing with other people's money, and other people's lives. Patooie on all those politicians (and especially on their propagandists and courtiers) who think that the main job of a pol is to make laws. Let's not fall for that baloney. We don't need more laws, we need better ruling-class behavior. The politician I'd vote for would be someone who vowed to pass not a single new law but instead to spend his/her term weeding out and/or fixing some of the bad laws. But, y'know, I'd probably wind up disappointed by this politician too.

So here's the extent of my hopes for politics and politicians: Don't screw up too badly. I couldn't care less if you act out of goodness, idealism and honor, or out of a cross between power-hunger and fear. Just don't screw up too badly.

A great, if only semi-a-propos, Michael Oakeshott quote: "In political activity men sail a boundless and bottomless sea; there is neither harbor for shelter nor floor for anchorage, neither starting point nor appointed destination." Yeah, baby! I want a tough, pragmatic bastard at the helm who has the skills to keep the ship we're all dependent on sturdy and afloat. Because, after all, ships that are badly, ineffectively, or irresponsibly run can and do sink. We don't want that happening. Beyond that, I choose to forget about politics as often as possible, and to spend my time attending to (and reveling in) life's many other sides. As for all those religious hopes that people seem to spill over with? ... Each to their own. In my case I'm off to do some yoga and maybe attend a Vedanta service. But I'm sure as hell not investing those tender and powerful energies in politics.

Michael Oakeshott's genius essay "Rationalism in Politics" can be read here. Wikipedia's entry on Oakeshott is here. Whatever you think about Andrew Sullivan, he's a dazzler when he talks about Oakeshott. Another Oakeshott quote that makes me vibrate with anti-political political pleasure: "I'm a conservative in government because I'm a radical in every other human activity." By "conservative," Oakeshott didn't mean "Republican," btw. He meant (roughly) modest, respectful, and tough. Halfway through a book by the English classical liberal Walter Bagehot, Lexington Green is doing some pleasure-vibrating of his own.

Are we wise to invest our hope-and-faith energy in politics and politicians? Why do so many people have such crazily-exalted expectations for politics and politicians? What's a sensible attitude to take towards the "politics" side of life? And what attitude towards politics and politicians serves you best?



posted by Michael at July 8, 2006


Oh, Michael, you make so much work for me! I agree absolutely with what you are saying. It is just as true here in this tiny village of 350 people as it is in the nation. (If you want a good president, elect a good dogcatcher.) We have no dogcatcher here -- all the dogs are known and scolded by the neighbors when it is necessary.

The previous mayor was a crabby, egotistical, sick old man with very idiosyncratic opinions about the business of the town. But he kept order and respected the old or damaged -- at least protected them. Well, left them alone. Now we have a new female mayor, weak and admiring of wealth and fine clothes, who is dominated by the idle wife of a big time Maine contractor. While the contractor spreads gravel, rakes in the dough, and insists that the tiny village airport get night lights for his convenience, she runs about playing "sim city" in a way that hurts all the little people. She insisted on a "pretty" little pocket park on the highway and the planting of trees everywhere, wants to upgrade everything, and subsequently has encouraged the doubling of fees. Yesterday I discovered that the town clerk is no longer open on Fridays "to save money." This means that she must cram five days' work into four days and there is no one available in case of an emergency in one of our infrastructure systems. The maintenance men, who just got a hefty raise, are around but theoretically not hanging around in the office. There is a move to outlaw "section 8" houses in town because they attract poor and Indian people. A "nuisance" law against old cars and high grass is already in force. How long before a wall around the town seems logical to these people?

People are angry; we share our feelings. No one wants to take on the thankless job of "belling the cat." Everyone is too busy making money while the drought seems at bay. At what point does a person have to intervene? In what way? I'm going to have to read all this stuff to decide.

Prairie Mary

Posted by: Mary Scriver on July 8, 2006 1:11 PM

Joseph Sobran, in his brief introduction to Oakeshott, "Philosopher of Contentment," quotes him as pointing out that:

“To some people, ‘government’ appears as a vast reservoir of power which inspires them to dream of what use might be made of it. They have favorite projects, of various dimensions, which they sincerely believe are for the benefit of mankind, and to capture this source of power, if necessary to increase it, and to use it for imposing their favorite projects upon their fellows is what they understand as the adventure of governing men. They are, thus, disposed to recognize government as an instrument of passion: the art of politics is to inflame and direct desire.”

Posted by: Dave Lull on July 8, 2006 2:53 PM

I dislike Obama because he has falled victim to the dreaded Halle Berry/Malcolm Gladwell/George P. Bush Syndrome. It is a deadly malady that causes racially mixed people to forget completely about their white ancestry and identify solely with the nonwhite part for political or career reasons.

Posted by: Peter on July 8, 2006 3:29 PM

Let's everybody write an essay called "Why I dislike Obama."

Look at this link:

That is various posts from "dailykos" the foremost liberal blog. Take a look. Some samples:

"From the future of our party, Barack Obama..."

"I agreed with Barack Obama's Diary. He still represents the future..."

"Senator Obama, I have the deepest respect for you and great hope as to the future of the Democratic party..."

Blah, blah. 14,000+ hits, not all of them relevant to my point, but you get the point. Senor Kos has declared several times that Obama is "the future" of America/the party/whatever and the meme seems to have stuck. Anyway. When this guy first "hit the scene", his credentials for fame seemed pretty minimal, ie, nonexistent. He may well be qualified to hold the party line in the senate, but a chicken tied up to a corn-encrusted ballot button could do that.

Remember the big Obama quote (wow, 16,000+ hits):

"We coach Little League in the Blue States and yes, we’ve got some gay friends in the Red States."

That has got to be the single lamest sentence in the history of human language. I was a little embarrassed for him when I heard that, but everybody pretended it was quite profound. Good job, Obama. Let's give him a hand.

A look at his less tangible qualifications:
1. White mother/black deadbeat father. The poor guy came from a broken home. Let's give him a hand.

2. Eloquent. If you pretend _real_ hard.

3. Non-threatening. He's a wimpy EAST African. Even cuddly Colin Powell seems more likely to rob us at gunpoint.

4. A walking melting pot. (See #1). There's no WAY this guy or his offspring will band together to turn against you-know-who.

Posted by: onetwothree on July 8, 2006 6:47 PM

I live in Illinois and followed the 2004 Senate election pretty closely. Barack Obama was extremely lucky to win the democratic primary election. He was trailing behind Blair Hull, a highly successful private entrepreneur with some tangible charisma. Then something very funny happened. You see, Blair Hull had been divorced, and the press decided to look into his divorce records. There was a spurious allegation of him kicking his ex-wife once in a dispute, which the press ran with triumphantly. His divorced wife never corroborated the charge, his children, friends, co-workers, and current wife all denied the allegations, but because of the bad press, he lost the Democratic primary.

In the general election campaign, he was pitted aginst Jack Ryan, a very wealthy republican who made his fortune on Wall Street, but had quit his job to teach inner city kids, and then ran for the Senate. But jack Ryan had also been divorced, and his divorce records sealed. The Chicago Tribune and some other organization went to court to UNSEAL HIS PRIVATE DIVORCE RECORDS to hunt for sime dirt. Somehow they got them opened. It turns out Jack and his wife, actress Jeri Ryan, were in a some kind of a sex club once, and Jack asked her to have sex with him there. She refused. In other words, Jack Ryan was submarined by the press for asking his wife to have sex with him. The records were sealed at the request of both parents because they have a young son and didn't want him to find out about their troubles. Such wonderful people, these liberal journalists.

Finally, with no powerful republican wanting to jump into the race in the waning days of the campaign, the republican party brought in Alan Keynes from Maryland, who made a fool of himself with his gaping pie hole before the election. Obama then won the Senate seat, and the press has kissed his ass ever since. He appeared on magazine covers, David Letterman, and I'm sure many other shows. Not one other freshman senator was treated in a similar way. Not even Carol Mosely Braun, who, like Obama, got her law degree at the University of Chicago, and who, like Obama, was black was treated that way. She was such a failure as a senator that she was easily defeated after one term in office.

Barack Obama has never had to seriously debate anyone. Barack Obama has never had to run a tough campaign, or win a general election against a serious opponent. He was a state representative from a majority black district on the south side of Chicago. His claim to fame was helping to push a bill through the Illinois congress which mandated the gathering of racial data in traffic stops, on the spurious claims that black men are unfairly stopped or picked on by the police. BTW, in Chicago, blacks are 35% of the population, but commit 70% of the crime. Hispanics are 25% of the population, and commit 25% of the crime, and whites are 40% of the population and commit 10% of the crime. Over half of the adult black males in Chicago have prison records. If you're a cop, which groups are you going to be looking at? Law enforcement dislikes him, I'll tell you that!

Barack Obama's dad was a muslim. Barack is a muslim name. Barack Obama claims to be a christian, but I sincerely doubt he attended any kind of church before he decided to run for political office. HIs dad left him when he was young. His mom is a hardcore socialist also. She moved him to Indonesia for a while when he was young too--not a lot of churches there. He used to be some kind of socialist organizer on the south side before he got drated by the Emil Philips part of the democratic machine and was elected the the House. I doubt that he is in any way a Christian.

Barack Obama is a complete media creation in my book, for no other reason than he is black and doesn't sound or look like Al Sharpton. But if you take the time to look at his political views and Al's, you will not find a whit of real difference. He is being molded now by the DNC to be a national candidiate. He has speechwriters, pollsters, handlers, the whole bit. What disgusts me about Barack Obama the Media Creation is not the man himself-a mediocre socialist and intellect, but the fawning and buildiup of this guy into something he is not by a supposedly objective Main Stream Media. I've never seen anything like it.

I doubt he will ever be elected president, first of all because he is black, and no one wants to see the country fall apart under black leadership like every other political area they run. Few, if any, foreign governments would take him seriously, even if he were president of the US because he is black. He has never served in the military (and we are in a Forever War, remember?), has no Congressional legislative experience in building coalitions to get legislation passed, and has no foreign policy experience. He has never been a governor of a state either, so he has no executive branch experience. He would be a total bust when looked at seriously and his real past exposed. Not ever gonna happen.

No democrat will ever wrest away the religious vote from the republicans, because the liberals/democrats (the only kind in office now) cater to and fundraise from the extreme liberal wing of the party. Gays, environmentalists, NARAL, the Latino and black Race quota industry, the ACLU, and the list goes on and on. The Christian movement is not just evangelical, but also Catholic and Protestant. The religious issues are stopping or severely limiting abortion, banning gay marriage, getting God back into the public schools and squares, and most importantly, putting conservative judges on the bench. No way the liberals/democrats will ever do this, and all the Christians know it. Sorry Barack and Hillary, you can pray all you want, but they're gone forever, never to return.

Posted by: s on July 8, 2006 9:34 PM

I recall what Mencken wrote about Calvin Coolidge: He had no ideas but was not a nuisance.

Posted by: Peter L. Winkler on July 9, 2006 6:10 PM

I hate cynics. And yet I have stopped voting: so convinced am I that the world of politics is a gigantic con.

I wonder how many others have done likewise?

Posted by: ricpic on July 10, 2006 10:56 AM

I don't really understand your argument Michael. So all (or the vast majority of) politicians are power-mad egomaniacs? So that becomes an argument for ignoring all of politics? By your own admission, the same could be said for film directors, and yet you clearly love and care about the work of many film directors (Altman, De Palma, etc.). Why can't you acknowledge that yes, politics tends to attract egomaniacs, and tends to cultivate their egomania, and yet acknowledge that good can still come from their actions? This country was founded by egomaniacal power-mad politicians, after all--Jefferson, Franklin, Washington, et al. I'm certainly not saying that the current crop is of their caliber, but egomania is not the differentiating characteristic.

Is it really necessary to list the good things in society that have come from good political leadership? Or perhaps I could simply point to the bad things that wouldn't have happened over the last five years had we had different political leadership? The egomania of politicians seems to me to be a pretty poor excuse for not following or caring about politics.

Posted by: Steve on July 10, 2006 1:12 PM

To latch onto a small piece of your rather attrctive mission statement: the reason I tend to favor full gay marriage, decriminalization of pot, and so forth, seems to me far more in line with your skepticism of politics and power than it is opposed. What strikes me so often is the gulf between personal life and public ideology, with the former being, for most people I know, profoundly more civil, nuanced, fair, and sympathetic. Many, many, people who would never dream of insulting a gay coworker or neighbor in all manner of personal ways, are willing to deal them a profound insult when the matter is framed publicly, abstractly. Nor does this dichotomy reflect poorly upon only "conservatives": I can't imagine my left-wing friends in Davis wanting me or other rural/conservative acquaintances to go to jail or pay crippling fines for draconian firearms laws, yet they are willing to defend the very same laws in a public context, and even push for more. So, in my view, pushing for individual freedom in these cases is less a radical political advocacy than it is an attempt to declaw the dangerous ideological thinking to which we are all prone in our more public moments.

Posted by: J. Goard on July 10, 2006 6:09 PM

J. Goard,

The problem with your argument is that very often "private" decisions have social consequences. Society also has a responsibility to protect those who are weaker from those more powerful. Think of professionals who have fiduciary responsibilities by law (doctors, engineers, lawyers ) and societal restrictions on how we treat kids and adolescents who can't really be considered as rational adults.

My opposition to gay marriage, for example, has nothing to do with the realtionship amongst the adults. Marriage is about kids, really. And who thinks these people won't try to have their own biological kids? Problem is, to do that, they have to go outside of their marriage--commit adultery. What kind of a marriage is that? Non-biological parents are six times more likely to abuse their kids than biological ones. Also, what happens when the other partner wants to have biological kids too? Who pays child support when the marriage breaks up, the non-married biological sperm/egg donor, or the ex-spouse? You know that will come up when one income contributor is gone. Also, who thinks that raising what will most probably be a straight kid in a gay household won't matter? I mean, ideally it looks like gay marriage is a okay, that it's their decision, but then we have all these practical problems that impact everybody else. Same with drug users and how legalizing (the) drugs (you use) should be okay.

I don't want to go round and round on this but libertarians generally lack a concrete sense of how life really works, and how the decisions we "privately" make do affect others, and sometimes in very negative ways. I don't consider it a serious philosophy at all. More of a dream land for those who want to smoke pot and chintz on their taxes without fear of getting caught.

The larger the institution or organization, the more it becomes a thing unto itself and the more likely it is to become corrupt. That's why our Founding Fathers wanted a small government. They never foresaw how complex and integrated a modern economy would become (how could they forsee the industrial revolution, for example, and how modern commerce would require such vast and complicated infrastructure?). Or to what lengths and costs a rich country would have to go to have the modern arms to defend itself?

Corruption is an evil which is ineradicable. But it is an evil nonetheless. We do not live in a perfect world, and never will. But that doesn't mean that the world cannot be improved. It just means that nature can't be overturned. We have to work with the way things are. I think that Jefferson said that th price of freedom was eternal vigilance. And that, like so many other things he said, has proved to be true.

Posted by: s on July 10, 2006 8:24 PM

Whew! This post has enough topics for dozens of books, let alone a blog thread. It's difficult to distill one's comments to a few soundbites without severely distorting the thinking behind those soundbites, but here goes.

Let me begin by returning to Michael's closing questions.

1] Are we wise to invest our hope-and-faith energy in politics and politicians?

Wise? Perhaps not, but as citizens of one of most powerful (arguably THE most powerful) countries in the world it is our duty to at least attempt to exert our influence on what is being done in our name at home and around the world by those who have been elected to make those decisions.

2] Why do so many people have such crazily exalted expectations for politics and politicians?

Perhaps because they recognize that so much of what is going on in the political arena will have significant effects on their lives, not to mention the lives of their children (and everyone else on the planet for that matter) for generations to come.

3] What's a sensible attitude to take towards the "politics" side of life?

Follow what is going on, think about the issues, participate in conversations (like this one), write letters to the editor and your elected officials letting others know what you think about important issues and vote based upon your sense of which candidate(s) will come closest to doing what you would if you ran for that same office.

4] And what attitude towards politics and politicians serves you best?

See last answer.

Now, let me comment on to a few other items from Michael's posting.

If we accept the thesis that all politicians are "power-driven megalomaniacs" ... which arguably overstates the case, but for purposes of discussion let's accept it ... we might also think in terms of a relative scale of just how extreme their megalomania may be. Looking at our presidents since JFK I'd argue that George W. Bush (who seems to believe that God has placed him in power) tops the list followed more or less in order by Nixon, Reagan, JFK, LBJ, Clinton, then George H.W. Bush and Carter with Ford trailing the pack. Now we must make judgments about how their actions play out in terms of what they do and who benefits or is hurt by their actions. I suspect history will judge the current Bush and Nixon least favorably, JFK and Clinton (yeah, I know, don't bother) most favorably, Reagan and LBJ mixed but on the positive side, Bush Sr. and Carter mixed with a negative balance, and Ford among the forgotten. Carter will definitely gain admiration for post Presidential activities promoting peace, etc., as may Bush Sr. and, again, Clinton.

As for "blame the sixties" I think you're a decade or so off there. Boomers and the sixties and early seventies were about communalism, peace, love, rock 'n' roll, environmentalism, the civil rights and women's movement. The post-boomer cohort of the late seventies and eighties were what gave us Yuppies, dot-coms and the "it's all about me" ethos of get what you can, however you can get it and screw anybody who gets in your way. Maybe they wore ties and had less flamboyant haircuts, but giving them credit for that mistakes style for substance.

I'm most definitely NOT among the elite but I'd rather see all economic levels enjoy more open immigration and guest worker options, in all directions, rather than having tight borders for the under-classes while the elite and corporate sectors continue to enjoy the benefits of globalization as the under classes are pitted against one another by it.

Gay marriage is huge topic, perhaps worthy of a new and focused discussion. I only hope I see the day when I can attend the legally sanctioned marriage (or civil union with all the legal rights and responsibilities of marriage) of some of the gay couples I know.

Now, on to some of the posted comments:

I liked Prairie Mary's take on local politics in her neck of the wood. It all rings very true.

Peter and s edged mighty damn close to the line of blind racism in its entire ugly splendor. In general, mixed race individuals like Barack Obama seem to "fail to identify with the white side of their ancestry" because so many whites refuse to accept them except as NOT white.

Posted by: Chris White on July 11, 2006 1:01 PM

s (regarding gay marriage),

"And who thinks these people won't try to have their own biological kids?"

Horrors! Even worse, THEY ALREADY ARE!!

"Problem is, to do that, they have to go outside of their marriage--commit adultery. What kind of a marriage is that?"

Two things about this one:
1) Getting a sperm or egg donor is adultery? Tell that to the thousands of straight couples utilizing the same technology.

2) Plenty of adultery in straight couples. Should we deny them the ability to marry?

"Also, what happens when the other partner wants to have biological kids too? Who pays child support when the marriage breaks up, the non-married biological sperm/egg donor, or the ex-spouse?"

I would say whoever the primary income earner is would pay child support, just like in straight marriages. If it's a two-income household, just like around 40% of straight households are, then some kind of situation would be worked out, just like with straight couples.

"Also, who thinks that raising what will most probably be a straight kid in a gay household won't matter?"

It will absolutely have an effect on a straight kid to be raised by gay parents. Some of it may be tough, a lot of it may be enriching. Just like with straight parents.

Posted by: the patriarch on July 11, 2006 3:40 PM


Those couples aren't healthy, they're unable to conceive on their own. The gays are perfectly healthy, they just choose not to have sex that is reproductive. That's like a straight couple going to a doctor and asking for artificial means to have a child because they only engage in oral and anal intercourse. Any doctor worth his salt would laugh them out of his office. Gays, however, are more than happy to corrupt the medical profession by bribing doctors to perform these types of procedures for perfectly healthy people so that they can pretend to be normal.

It would also help your argumeents not to compare gays to the most dysfunctional straight couples, and say gays are just the same. I'm sure its true, but its pretty pathetic and not likely to convince anybody. How come no comparisons to healthy straight couples? Please don't say that none exist, that's ridiculous--plenty do. No, straight married people should not be in a marriage committing adultery--its the fastest way to ruin a marriage. By the way, you can't commit adultery unless you are in a marriage already--kind of a logical non sequitar on your part.

Also, if you think that any straight kid doesn't miss out on anything by having two healthy, straight parents, you are both incredibly ignorant about raising kids and probably gay yourself (not that I care). If the latter is true, I can see how you would probably dismiss the child's interest in favor of your own, as you may not have any kids, and don't know the difference. Anybody who would not try to give their own kids the best start in life they could is just dangerous and irresponsible. Pain and suffering are not of themselves enriching. That's why most sane people try to avoid them.

Posted by: s on July 11, 2006 8:47 PM

"Those couples aren't healthy, they're unable to conceive on their own. The gays are perfectly healthy, they just choose not to have sex that is reproductive. "

Straight, single women get artificially inseminated all the time.

"Also, if you think that any straight kid doesn't miss out on anything by having two healthy, straight parents, you are both incredibly ignorant about raising kids and probably gay yourself (not that I care)."

I'm a straight, happily married man with 3 kids. You're right about healthy parents being an important factor in raising healthy kids. I don't see being gay as inherently unhealthy. You do. Our argument ends there, I guess.

Also, I was not trying to compare gay couples to dysfunctional straight couples. You are the one who bizarrely made the statement that gays would have to commit adultery in order to reproduce. I was merely pointing out that that is not the case at all.

Mostly I object to your method of arguing this point. Just say that you think homosexuality is wrong and therefore gays should not be allowed to marry. I vehemently disagree with that, but at least you would not be trying to validate your position with false statements.

Posted by: the patriarch on July 12, 2006 9:51 AM

Actually, straight, single women do not get artificially inseminated all the time. Most of the artificial insemination is for married couples, as it should be. Those doctors who inseminate single women are just mercenaries who couldn't care less that they are producing a bastard, and are no better than the guys who knock up a woman and take off. Absolutely disgusting. They have no business doing this for perfectly healthy women who "just can't seem to find the right guy".

You're right--you are trying to compare gay couples to normal, straight ones. But since there is such a vast difference between the two, you have to resort to comparing gays to dysfunctional straight couples and say that they are just as screwy, and no worse. You did it again above when you said that perfectly healthy single women get artificially inseminated. Why can't these gals get a man, and do it the right way? Too selfish, I guess. But they are by far the exeption, and not normal at all. What's bizarre is comparing gay "marriage" to normal heterosexual marriage. That's bizarre.

I didn't say homosexuality was morally wrong, I said it was abnormal. I don't really care if the gays themselves are happy and healthy. Its a crummy environment for the kids, and the fact that gays and you fail to recognize that is scary. I can't believe people are such easy prey for pro-gay propaganda. Committing adultery is EXACTLY what these people would have to do to have their own kids. Its another case of the great liberal war against nature which is destined for failure. I'm glad that the Massachussetts Supreme Court is going to allow a ballot measure for amending their state constitution to ban this idiocy. If the regular people are allowed to vote on it, it will go down in flames even in the most liberal states. Then we won't have to worry about it anymore.

Posted by: s on July 12, 2006 1:22 PM

"I can't believe people are such easy prey for pro-gay propaganda."

I'm not east prey, it's what I believe. I don't require you to believe the same, nor would I support legislation that would hinder the pursuit of your beliefs. Your objection to gay marriage is solely due to your personal belief that homosexuality is "abnormal." There are absolutely NO statistics supporting your assertions that kids raised in a gay household would be at a disadvantage. My experience with such kids is that they are indistinguishable from kids raised in straight households. This is merely anecdotal, but until someone does a study (and there may be one I'm not aware of), it's what I have to go by.

"Committing adultery is EXACTLY what these people would have to do to have their own kids."

I'm still at a loss on this one, unless you believe infertile straight couples are committing adultery as well when they utilize fertility methods. As for the "great liberal war against nature," would not that also apply to infertile straight couples? Perhaps God is telling them they shouldn't have kids.

Posted by: the patriarch on July 12, 2006 2:04 PM

And I completely overlooked the obvious. The vast majority of gay couples with kids adopted them.

Posted by: the patriarch on July 12, 2006 2:45 PM

Homosexuality is abnormal. That's not an opinion, that's a fact. Statistically, biologically, sexually, and socially. Sorry to break the obvious news to you, fella.

On the one hand, you say that there is no scientific evidence that straight kids raised by gays suffer, then you offer your completely non-professional and superficial analysis that "they look okay to me". And you say that we should allow it until some study proves otherwise. Is that the approach you would take toward experimental medicines, and a host of other important things, especially where your own well-being is concerned? Of course not! But I guess the kids deserve less. Why don't we study it BEFORE we okay it? And what would be your opinion be if science DID find it harmful? Would you change your mind? I doubt it!

There's plenty of evidence that kids raised by gay couples will turn out worse than those kids who are raised by their own biological parents. Like I said above, adults are six times more likely to abuse and neglect non-biological children. That's a fact. Several studies have shown that. There was also a study done by a pro-gay academic that found that children raised by gays were more likely to experiment with homosexuality, even if straight, than kids raised by straight parents. So I have facts, and I'm sure we'll find out a lot more in the future that casts this silly arrangement in a less appealing light. Also, the kids don't know any better, and are ignorant about what they are missing out on. I wouldn't go by what they say either. I say let's look at the facts, and where the data doesn't exist, let's find out. The preliminary data doesn't look good, and I'm confident it will verify my opinion, or in other words, align with the natural order.

You don't understand or like the fact that gays will have to commit adultery if they want their own biological kids because it is true, and it blows a gigantic hole in your assertion that gays and straights are essentially the same. They aren't.

Most infertile couples use THEIR OWN respective eggs and sperm to conceive artificially. They don't use other people's stuff. They aren't committing adultery at all. What don't you understand about it? Gays would have to get genetic material from someone other than their "spouse". And they will try to have their own biological kids if we allow them the same "rights" as other people. They only adopt now. But I have personally known a couple who cheated on their partners (lesbian, with full support) to get pregnant and have a kid. How bizarre and ridiculous! How abnormal! It happens, and it will happen more if gaydom pushes itself into the mainstream.

Posted by: s on July 12, 2006 8:17 PM

"Like I said above, adults are six times more likely to abuse and neglect non-biological children."

So we shouldn't allow adoption at all? Look, there are no guarantees in life. Hardly anyone is raised in an ideal environment, and people's ideas of ideal are different. Mine would be a loving and supportive household. Period. I've seen that type of household in straight and gay couples.

Of course homosexuality is "abnormal" statistically, meaning the majority of people are not gay. However, that doesn't make it immoral or unnatural, in my opinion. Your main gripe is that gay couples with kids would be reinforcing to those kids the idea that homosexuality is OK, just by living out their lives. I don't have a problem with that. You do. End of discussion.

Posted by: the patriarch on July 13, 2006 10:05 AM

You mean end of your discussion? I'll post the last word then. The state has no business promoting unions or child-rearing arrangements it knows to be inferior to traditional ones, whether single parent, homosexual, or whatever other permutation you can imagine. Just because the world isn't perfect doesn't mean we lower standards. I'm also sick of tiny minorities, gays, liberal judges, ACLU lawyers, corporate chieftans, etc. determining the state of affairs for the rest of us. We have minority rights because we have majority rights, and the majority agreed to those minority rights. We the majority don't want gay marriage. And when we get to vote and enforce our will, it will never happen.

You may think that two people of the same sex engaging in sexual acts that have no reproductive potential isn't abnormal. But it is. And your opinion is held by only a tiny minority of citizens in this country. All I can say is thank God we still have a democracy.

Posted by: s on July 13, 2006 12:58 PM

"You may think that two people of the same sex engaging in sexual acts that have no reproductive potential isn't abnormal. But it is."

Thanks for clearing that up for me.

You see, I believe the state has no business denying people the ability to marry the ones they live, regardless of potential for reproduction.

"I'm also sick of tiny minorities, gays, liberal judges, ACLU lawyers, corporate chieftans, etc. determining the state of affairs for the rest of us."

How would gay people marrying each other determine anything for you? Would it change the way you feel about your spouse (if you are married)? The way you feel about marriage in general? Would it hinder you in any way?

"We the majority don't want gay marriage."

We'll see about that in the coming years. I have every confidence that public opinion will continue to move in the same direction it has been moving the past 40 years, which has been greater tolerance towards homosexuals.

Posted by: the patriarch on July 13, 2006 2:34 PM

"...public opinion will continue to move in the same direction it has been moving the past 40 years, which has been greater tolerance towards homosexuals."

To play the devil's advocate -- societies that come to tolerate and even celebrate homosexuality, tend to be societies that peak and pass from the stage.

They are replaced by ones that are very, very hostile to things that late-civilization liberals celebrate.

Posted by: hugh on July 13, 2006 6:25 PM


The state issues the license. They can set up any restrictions they want. We the prople are the state. Tiny minorities in collusion with activist judges undermine democracy by imposing illegal decisions upon the people through the power of the state, not the power of the people. I don't like tyranny. I like democracy.

We've seen the real attitudes of people as amendments banning gay marriage have been overwhelmingly passed everywhere they have shown up on the ballot. We don't mistake the lies in the media for accurate portrayals of reality. And we are seeing about that right now. And my guess is, if things turn south and life gets harder for people here, you will see a lot less tolerance in the future.

Posted by: s on July 13, 2006 6:55 PM

Michael: Why do so many people have such crazily-exalted expectations for politics and politicians?

Hypothesis: the more you have going for you, the less you project crazily-exalted expectations onto politics and politicians. Religion, too.

...Why, yes, I am a Nietzschean, why do you ask? ;-)

We now return you to our regularly scheduled shoutfest on gays.

Posted by: Jeff in SF on July 14, 2006 5:54 PM

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