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Random Thoughts on Gay Marriage

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 6:18 pm - March 31, 2013.
Filed under: Gay Marriage,New Media,Random Thoughts

A college classmate recently posted on Facebook about gay marriage.  And when I found myself weighing in, I offered a response a bit longer than I had anticipated.  It’s organized as are most of my post, more in the form of random thoughts, but since I took some time crafting it, I thought I would share with with you, slightly amended with links added:

As perhaps the only gay person on this thread, I must note that I have long been decidedly ambivalent on gay marriage, in part because many gay marriage advocates seem more interested in winning the culture wars than in promoting the institution and in part because of my studies of myth, psychology and anthropology and the longstanding human recognition of the importance of sex difference.  And marriage rituals of every culture (see van Gennep) are based upon bringing together individuals from different groups.

In my grad school paper for my Native American class, I researched the legends of the berdache, or two-spirit.  Many cite the berdacge tradition as an example of cultures which accept and embrace homosexuality and same-sex relationships.  And while many American Indian tribes recognized same-sex marriages, they all required one partner in such a union to live in the guise of the other sex.  Thus, if one man married another man, one would wear men’s clothes and go hunting with the “braves” while the other would have to wear women’s clothes and live as a “squaw.”  The one who lived as a woman could not go hunting with his same-sex peers nor could he participate in activities, rituals etc reserved for his biological sex.

Sex difference in short has long been inherent to the notion of marriage.

That said, I believe, states should — at minimum — recognize gay relationships as civil unions.  And perhaps the ideal would be for the state to simply call monogamous relationships “civil unions” (for all people) and let churches, synagogues, private individuals, etc. call them marriage — or whatever they want. (more…)

Magnanimity in the marriage wars

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 12:18 pm - March 31, 2013.
Filed under: Civil Discourse,Gay Marriage

In a thoughtful piece yesterday in the New York Times, Ross Douthat contended that the view Andrew Sullivan offered on gay marriage in the 1990s “has carried the day almost completely.

That argument, much different from the one the one-time New Republic editor has offered in the current century, held that “far from being radical, gay marriage was more likely to be stabilizing, ‘sending a message about matrimonial responsibility and mutual caring’ to gays and straights alike.

Let us hope that message emerges from the current debates on state recognition of same-sex marriage.  Indeed, many same-sex couples who have elected marriage (and even many who have not) have lived that message, forsaking all others looking after their spouses in sickness and in health.  They provide examples of mature relationships between adults of the same sex and evidence that gay man and women are capable of the same kind of commitment our straight counterparts have shown.

Douthat, however, laments that as gay marriage advocates seem to be winning the argument, they aren’t conceding any points to defenders of traditional marriage:

A more honest, less triumphalist case for gay marriage would be willing to concede that, yes, there might be some social costs to redefining marriage. It would simply argue that those costs are too diffuse and hard to quantify to outweigh the immediate benefits of recognizing gay couples’ love and commitment.

Such honesty would make social liberals more magnanimous in what looks increasingly like victory, and less likely to hound and harass religious institutions that still want to elevate and defend the older marital ideal.

But whether people think they’re on the side of God or of History, magnanimity has rarely been a feature of the culture war.

Read the whole thing.  The debate on gay marriage is not entirely pathetic.

Would be nice if partisans on both sides of the debate could acknowledge the points their adversaries make.

This is news?!?!

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 9:51 pm - March 30, 2013.
Filed under: Obamania

It was on Yahoo!’s home page so it must be:

Screen shot 2013-03-30 at 6.47.48 PM

Does America’s future look like this?

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 10:45 pm - March 29, 2013.
Filed under: Debt Crisis,Depression 2.0,Economy

France’s President Hollande is determined to confiscate wealth; mere constitutions and courts can’t stop him:

French President Francois Hollande declared on Thursday that companies would have to pay a 75 percent tax on salaries over a million euros after his plan for a “super-tax” on individuals was knocked down by the constitutional court…

Irony alert:

On the defensive, with his approval ratings in tatters, Hollande acknowledged he had failed to anticipate the crisis dragging on for so long…

Gee, I anticipated it, from 6,000 miles away. I’m not very smart, I just understand that no country can tax its way to prosperity.

Moving along – It seems that in the wake of Cyprus, a top European official accidentally told the truth:

Monday March 25 – Markets took fright after the head of the group of eurozone finance ministers indicated that the Cyprus rescue could be a template for similar situations…

…Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch finance minister, told Reuters…”If the bank can’t [survive], then we’ll talk to the shareholders and the bondholders…and if necessary the uninsured deposit holders”…

“Talk to” means “take from”, of course. A chorus of other top officials swiftly denied it was true and said, “Because, shut up.” Which means they’d do it again in a heartbeat; after all, one of their top bankers once confessed that lying to the public was part of his job.

UPDATE April 4: A top Italian banker says yes, actually, taking from the depositors is acceptable.

Grappling with Health Issues

Posted by Bruce Carroll at 5:56 pm - March 28, 2013.
Filed under: 2014 Elections,Carolina News

I realize that this whole “almost ran for Senate” thing is going to get old and I’m the last one to beat a dead horse.  But someone suggested today that I write some stuff about the experience that might be interesting for other people to read.  And there are some things I touched on (a bit) during the radio show that I didn’t include in the “official” blog post.  Also, need I remind anyone, a blog is supposed to be for crap like this.

 


GayPatriot Report – March 27 edition

One of the other big reasons for not tackling the Senate campaign is my health; the majority of which deals with my decade-long struggle with clinical depression.  Again, this isn’t breaking news — I’ve discussed it on the blog here in the past. 

However, everyone of a certain age still remembers how mental health issues derailed the Vice Presidential candidacy of Thomas Eagleton. (And no, I haven’t had electric shock treatments!).  More recently, former US Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. seems to have dealt with depression to some extent – as well as criminal legal problems.

The fact of the matter is — I’m not sure I will ever be “cured” of my depression.  I had a really bad turn in 2010 which resulted in my life changing in ways I couldn’t imagine.  This is very personal stuff to discuss, folks, and not fodder for a political campaign — in my opinion.

Anyway, despite having my medication adjusted in 2010 – I still have bad days.  Well, I’d have to imagine one cannot have a “bad day” if one is running for public office.  And my brain doesn’t cooperate with me now — Lord only knows what it would have had in store for me.  And what people would have thought about those “bad days.”

As I mentioned on The GayPatriot Report last night, our mental healthcare system is a total mess.  Since I’m not running for public office, I can even call it a clusterfuck.  Thankfully, I have only had to personally be involved at a primary care level — but my previous corporate job (also mentioned on the radio) involved obtaining an in-depth knowledge of the mental health system in the USA.  Did I mention it SUCKS?

Read this book: Crazy: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness.  It involves a much more serious case of mental health than I could ever imagine dealing with.  But I witnessed glimpses of this in my job.  We treat our seriously mentally ill citizens in this country in our prison systems.  That’s messed up.

I also mentioned last night on the radio show my struggles with back pain.  There probably isn’t a day where I can sit in a chair longer than 20 minutes without being in pain the rest of the day.  I have worsening arthritis in my lower spine.  And yeah, that also sucks.

(more…)

The Obama Economy: Rearranging the Deck Chairs

Over the summer of 2012 and during the last few months of the presidential campaign, a number of us watched the changing employment numbers and labor statistics with an increasing sense of skepticism.  The lamestream press would dutifully report the administration’s numbers and note that the unemployment number was going down slightly, but anyone who looked into the numbers quickly realized that the only reason the numbers ever went down was that with each successive report, the number of people in the workforce kept shrinking.  And so things have continued throughout the first few months of 2013.

Tuesday on his Twitter feed, Bruce linked to this article by Mortimer Zuckerman in the Wall Street Journal, which once again confirms what many of us have come to believe about the Obama economy:

The Great Recession is an apt name for America’s current stagnation, but the present phase might also be called the Grand Illusion—because the happy talk and statistics that go with it, especially regarding jobs, give a rosier picture than the facts justify.

The country isn’t really advancing. By comparison with earlier recessions, it is going backward. Despite the most stimulative fiscal policy in American history and a trillion-dollar expansion to the money supply, the economy over the last three years has been declining. After 2.4% annual growth rates in gross domestic product in 2010 and 2011, the economy slowed to 1.5% growth in 2012. Cumulative growth for the past 12 quarters was just 6.3%, the slowest of all 11 recessions since World War II.

And last year’s anemic growth looks likely to continue. Sequestration will take $600 billion of government expenditures out of the economy over the next 10 years, including $85 billion this year alone. The 2% increase in payroll taxes will hit about 160 million workers and drain $110 billion from their disposable incomes. The Obama health-care tax will be a drag of more than $30 billion. The recent 50-cent surge in gasoline prices represents another $65 billion drag on consumer cash flow.

And that’s just the beginning of the article.  Read the whole thing if you want to feel even more depressed about the state of the economy than you felt already.

But that’s not even the whole story.  Tuesday when I was driving to lunch, I heard Tom Sullivan discussing “America’s Disability Scam Crisis.”  The facts of the disability crisis are alarming enough as it is, but even more surprising was that the facts which inspired the discussion on the Tom Sullivan show were first reported by NPR.   Scott Johnson at Powerline noticed and wrote up a post about it entitled “NPR goes Rogue.”

The NPR story linked above is quite long, but it focuses largely on the fact that since Clinton signed “welfare reform” into law, more and more people have been going on to disability and the disability rolls have grown to unsustainable levels.  It also mentions  the fact that many lawyers and doctors have found a lucrative business focusing on disability cases.

And it gets even worse.  As the NPR story reports: “signing up for disability benefits is an excellent way to stay hidden in one key way: People on disability are not counted among the unemployed.”  The story continues: (more…)

The Decision: No Senate Run

Posted by Bruce Carroll at 10:57 pm - March 27, 2013.
Filed under: 2014 Elections

If you don’t want to listen to the entire show (see post below), I’ll cut to the chase — I have decided not to run for United States Senate in 2014.

I mostly spoke about my life and background as well as the process of due diligence that I undertook to see what it would take to run a campaign.  The support I received from the conservative grassroots was nothing short of amazing.  I will never forget the organic excitement that my musing created.  God works in mysterious ways, folks.  I’ve seen it.

The bottom line is that my partner John and I made a mutual decision that we didn’t want our entire lives invaded in a way that we couldn’t control.  On the show tonight, I discuss the fact that a gay leftist activist harassed me at my place of private employment in 2005 shortly after this blog was born.  My job was in jeopardy for a while then and other people at my company of employment were threatened.

The magnitude of those type of attacks would only have increased exponentially had I chosen to move into a role seeking public office.  The Gay Left concerns me the most; I’ve witnessed good people’s lives and families destroyed over public policy differences. They are beyond the pale.

However, my team had planned to run a guerilla-style campaign that would have upset others as well — those who have made a career and money in politics in South Carolina.  I wanted to run as a “citizen-legislator” but the system is not made for that anymore.

Finally, the week after CPAC, I noticed this unmarked van casing our house for over two hours.  We tried to confront them, but they drove away. I have no idea who it was or what their intent was, but it got me thinking more seriously.

IMG_0486

When all is said and done, all I have in my life is my privacy, integrity, family and property.  I am just not strong enough of a person to put all that on the line for a high-risk gamble against a sitting United States Senator.

I hold out hope that someone else in my state is braver than I am.

-Bruce (@GayPatriot)

DECISION ON US SENATE RACE – TONIGHT AT 9PM EASTERN

Hello good folks.  My apologies for not blogging here since CPAC.  As mentioned on this blog, I have been seriously considering running for United States Senate in 2014 from the state of South Carolina.

Tonight, I will discuss my decision on a special edition of The GayPatriot Report at 9PM Eastern on The 405 Radio Network.

LISTEN HERE LIVE — USE THE PLAYER IN RIGHT SIDEBAR!

I may write a blog post for tomorrow, but I wanted to make the announcement in my actual voice tonight.

Feel free to call in after about 9:20PM!  877-297-8022.  Happy to take calls and discuss my decision.

Also… I plan to talk about this breaking news item.  And laugh out loud.

-Bruce Carroll (@GayPatriot)

Our pathetic debate on gay marriage

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 12:18 pm - March 27, 2013.
Filed under: Civil Discourse,Gay Marriage,Random Thoughts

A post (and the ensuing comment thread) my friend David Boaz linked today on Facebook reminded me why I have been so reluctant in recent days to re-enter the gay marriage fray.

For many years, particularly when I was in college and law school and working in Washington, D.C.’s public policy sector, I read widely about a great variety of issues, including social issues like marriage and child-rearing.  Conservative organizations presented much solid research on the social benefits of traditional marriage and the damaging effects of divorce.

I had always wondered why so few advocates of gay marriage looked at that research on traditional marriage in order to suggest that it could be applied to same-sex unions as well.  I am only aware of one group which has done so and blogged about it here.

In the current debate, instead of acknowledging the social conservatives’ broader point, all too many advocates merely repeat their slogans about “fairness” and “equality” while badmouthing anyone who would dare disagree with them, calling them “haters” –even going so far as to label hateful those who, like James Taranto, believe the Supreme Court should uphold “Proposition 8 and leave . . . the matter for the states to decide.

And whereas the gay left have engaged in name-calling (if you don’t believe me, just check your Facebook feed), the social conservative opponents of gay marriage have been little better.  Which brings me to David’s link, leading to his own post where he takes aim at “Jim DeMint, former senator and future president of the Heritage Foundation” for attempting in a USA Today op-ed to link “family breakdown” and “welfare spending” to state recognition of gay marriage.

Yes, there is considerable evidence that welfare spending undermines the family unit  – and is bad for children.  And there is also considerable evidence that divorce is bad for children.  But, Mr. DeMint, like many social conservatives making similar arguments, fails to show how state recognition of gay marriage is bad for children.  Or for society.  The former Senator, as David puts it, just makes his case “with a sleight of hand.” (more…)

Alas no more than a perfunctory post on gay marriage (just yet)

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 6:09 pm - March 26, 2013.
Filed under: Gay Marriage,Prop 8,Random Thoughts,Writing

I had hoped today to post something about gay marriage, given the oral arguments before the Supreme Court. I had even outlined the piece I’d like to write, addressing the issue of jurisdiction, believing, as I do, that this is an issue best left to the legislatures, but recognizing some of the constitutional concerns (i.e., standing) which could lead the court to overturning Prop 8 without granting a federal “right” to state recognition of same-sex marriage.

And I wanted to distinguish the liberty issue from the state recognition issue.  If the California constitutional provision (in question) deprived individuals of the freedom to marry rather than just one of state recognition of those unions, the court should strike down the law.  But, marriage can exists (indeed, long has existed) independently of the state.  And individuals can and do live as married couples without state recognition.  Indeed, in California, many gay couples call themselves married and live freely even without the state sanctioning their unions.

All that said, this are issues which I would rather address in a more thoughtful manner.  And since I have made writing my epic my top priority, I chose to work on that before turning to the blog.  That effort today was a bit more challenging than I had anticipated.  And I had to struggle with one section.  And I have a sense that this part may require significant revision–and perhaps a few changes in story line.

The point being that writing-wise, now I feel completely drained (even more so than I have on previous days when I put in a similar effort on the book).  And now I have to start preparing for a Seder tonight, so lack the time to give this issue the attention it deserves.  Will share with you though an exchange I just had with a Facebook friend when I replied a posting he offered just as I started writing this:

HE: Marriage equality [sic] seems pretty popular. Why wasn’t Prop 8 repeal on the ballot way back in 2012?
Unlike · · 17 minutes ago ·
You like this.

ME: My point exactly, well, except for calling it “marriage equality.”

ME: Even if the Court upholds Prop 8, [California] voters will overturn it in 2014. And it won’t even be close.

In other words, the state of California will recognize same-sex marriages, either in 2013 by judicial fiat — or, in 2014 via popular initiative.

As our readers surely have guessed, I would prefer the latter.

Cyprus in our hearts

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 4:48 pm - March 26, 2013.
Filed under: Debt Crisis,Depression 2.0,Economy

“Cyprus in your Heart” is the tourism slogan of the small Mediterranean nation of Cyprus. It is a member of the Eurozone. Perhaps you’ve seen headlines, the last couple of weeks, about its banking crisis. This post is to sum up a few points about it.

  • The Europeans plan to resolve the crisis with yet another bank bailout.
  • This bailout is different. For the first time, bank customers (depositors) will be hit with losses. “Small” or “insured” depositors under 100,000 Euro will be left alone; but over that amount, depositors could lose 20%, 40% or more of their money in the bank.
  • That’s important. It’s a dangerous precedent. It means that “money in the bank” isn’t all that safe. Not in Europe; and if you believe a similar crisis could happen in the U.S. eventually, then not here.
  • They were originally going to hit even the depositors under 100,000 Euro. That would have been an even more dangerous precedent. Thank God, the Cypriot parliament refused.
  • The Russians are quietly furious with Europe, over all this. Cyprus had been sort of the Russians’ Cayman Islands or Switzerland; the Russians’ banking haven. Russian depositors may be hard hit (although some say that the clever Russians had already withdrawn their money).
  • Also, Cyprus has a strategic location near Turkey and Israel, and important natural gas fields. So Russia and the EU both want it as their satellite. The Europeans were determined to keep Cyprus from withdrawing from the Euro.
  • *IF* this outcome means that Cyprus stays with the Europeans (rather than the Russians – and I’m not sure if it does mean that, in the long run), it’s probably good for Israel.
  • But for now, Cyprus will be hit with a severe depression, as its “Russian banking tourist” industry is gone, probably forever.

These developments have the Cypriots up in arms, feeling like their futures have been stolen. A few pictures here.

This all goes to the importance of money as a social contract. People put their trust in money as the basis for trading with each other, in all kinds of ways. If people’s bank accounts are violated – and/or, if the value of money is violated – then people feel hurt and disoriented, because a key social contract has been violated. I may say more about that in a future post.

Anti-gun campaign update

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 12:50 pm - March 26, 2013.
Filed under: Gun Control,Second Amendment

Nothing can be sustained at peak intensity. As the anti-gun hysteria whipped up by the Obama administration recedes a bit, so does the public’s support for gun restrictions. From CBS (via HotAir):

Currently, support for stricter gun control laws stands at 47 percent today, down from a high of 57 percent just after the [Sandy Hook] shootings. Thirty-nine percent want those laws kept as they are, and another 11 percent want them made less strict.

Of course, Joe Biden still doesn’t get it. From one of his appearances last week:

Tell me what the burden is that you have to buy three clips with 10 rounds versus one clip with 30. The cost is the same. What is the burden?

The burden, Mr. Vice President, is that you might die, if you have to stop and reload while defending yourself – or your daughter, let’s say – from multiple assailants. Think of a gang assault in an inner city, or for that matter, government agents storming your home illegally. Both are extreme situations, but that’s WHY people have guns: for the emergencies.

It’s clear that Biden understands neither self-defense nor freedom. Self-defense is a natural right, and government is (supposed to be) our employee, not our master. The People should not have to justify, to the likes of Slow Joe Biden demanding “Tell me…”, their choices about arming themselves.

Rather, Biden (or government in general) should have to strictly justify all burdens and restrictions that it wants to put on ordinary citizens’ arming themselves. I’m not saying that government can’t justify at least some of them; but it’s the People who should be demanding “Tell me…”, and Biden who should be scrambling to answer.

CPAC: who was best?

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 1:49 am - March 26, 2013.
Filed under: Conservative Ideas,CPAC

Bruce – C’mon, you were there, who did you like?

We slow-witted non-Tweeters need to know. Folks, let’s hear your thoughts in the comments!

(Updating this post with more CPAC speakers, as I watch ‘em and like ‘em.)

My Unrecognizable Democratic Party

The title is from Ted Van Dyk’s recent column. He’s a lifelong Democrat. As a former Democrat myself, who left in the early Naughties[1], I was intrigued. Read the whole thing, of course. A few highlights:

Mr. Obama was elected in 2008 on the basis of his persona and his pledge to end political and ideological polarization…On taking office, however, the president adopted a my-way-or-the-highway style of governance. He pursued his stimulus and health-care proposals on a congressional-Democrats-only basis. He rejected proposals of his own bipartisan Simpson-Bowles commission, which would have provided long-term deficit reduction…He opted instead to demonize Republicans…

No serious attempt—for instance, by offering tort reform or allowing the sale of health-insurance products across state lines—was made to enlist GOP congressional support for the health bill…

Faced with a…GOP House takeover [in 1995], President Bill Clinton shifted to bipartisan governance. Mr. Obama [in 2011] did not...

…I couldn’t have imagined any one of the Democratic presidents or presidential candidates I served from 1960-92 using such down-on-all-fours tactics [as Obama did in 2012]. The unifier of 2008 became the calculated divider of 2012. Yes, it worked, but only narrowly, as the president’s vote total fell off sharply from 2008…

In 1965, Lyndon Johnson had Democratic congressional majorities sufficient to pass any legislation he wanted. But he sought and received GOP congressional support for Medicare, Medicaid, civil rights, education and other Great Society legislation. He knew that in order to last, these initiatives needed consensus support…

…former Democratic presidents would…know today that no Democratic or liberal agenda can go forward…if presidential and Democratic Party rhetoric consistently portrays loyal-opposition leaders as having devious or extremist motives….

Nice to see a Democrat who can admit it; a Democrat who remembers the party we used to know.

[1]As the party went insane over Gore-Bush, Iraq and more.

UPDATE: Even David Brooks, the New York Times’ notion of “conservative” who was so impressed by the crease in Obama’s pants in 2008, is starting to get it.

The progressive [Democrat] budget in the House seems to have been written by people hermetically sealed in the house of government. They work in government. They represent public-sector workers. They seem to have had little contact with private-sector job creators… while Republicans may embarrass on a daily basis, many progressives have lost touch with what actually produces growth and prosperity.

So, are we big 10th Amendment People now?

So, as I’ve said before, I’m mostly agnostic on gay marriage (I believe the entire institution should be left to personal/familial/community/religious devices and the government should remove itself entirely from the argument lock-stock-and-barrel). That said, you can’t be gay—well, or even straight it seems—in the United States today, according to the media, and not be completely and obsessively consumed by the issue (and, natch, your opinion can only be “FOR!”).

And since SCOTUS is hearing it this week, I suppose I might as well poke a stick into the monkey cage:

If we’re supposed to oppose DOMA on states’ rights grounds, should we then oppose the effort to overturn Prop 8?

Discuss.

-Nick (ColoradoPatriot) from HHQ

UPDATE
Excellent point made (and I don’t just say this because I have several captions vying for his “Best of” category) by VtheK from the comments:

This country would be so much better off if people cared as much about fiscal responsibility and economic growth as they do about giving same sex couples a piece of paper signed by a bureaucrat to legitimize their coupling.

Speaking of which, I think the time has come to push for polygamy. If gender doesn’t [matter], what’s so damned magical about the number 2?

(As for the first part, I have made this exact point many times myself, and I have much more to say about Viking’s second point, which perhaps I will anon…)

Sluggish economies

Posted by Jeff (ILoveCapitalism) at 5:28 pm - March 25, 2013.
Filed under: Debt Crisis,Depression 2.0,Economy

This is a nice illustration of the point that a large government debt and a sluggish economy go together:

Hat tip, David Houle at Seeking Alpha. The “EM” means, a whole bunch of Emerging Markets economies.

The picture shows that the higher-debt countries tend to have lower growth; the lower-debt countries tend to have higher growth. I would argue that the direction of causation is mostly that policies of high government spending, high deficit and high debt will burden an economy, slowing its growth.

But one could argue for at least some causation in the other direction: if a country is low-growth to begin with, it will be higher-debt, just because it can’t grow out of its debts as easily. My counter-argument is that it almost doesn’t matter: The picture suggests that, once your country is stuck in a high debt / low growth mode, adding more debt (or Keynesian “stimulus”) just makes you Greece.

Tales of the Obama Economy: Do-it-yourself and make-your-own

Lately I’ve noticed more and more posts from people on Facebook about how to do a, b, or c yourself or to make your own x, y, or z.  It could be that my personal social network overlaps more with the “crunchy” demographic which shops at the local food co-op and Whole Foods, but it could be a larger social trend.  I think it is a little of both, but I’m curious to see if other GayPatriot readers have noticed the same thing.

In the past three years or so, I’ve started learning to make many more kinds of things for myself than I had in the past.  Most of the stuff I make for myself has been foods that I used to buy at the store, and the transition originally occurred because I wanted to have a healthier diet.    I was a tolerable cook before, but I depended on lots of store-bought staples.  But the more I’ve learned to do for myself, the more I’ve wanted to learn how to do, as well.  I’d say that while I was originally motivated by a concern for health, as time has gone on, I’ve also been motivated by the increased sense of independence in learning how to make things I used to buy, by the ability to control my own ingredients, and by the opportunity to be able to make better quality foods than I would have bought in the past and still have a cost savings.

Although I started with food, I’ve also made some of my own household cleaning products, and I’ve considered making my own personal care items, as well.   I have a friend who makes and sells her own deodorant and is thinking of making other products, as well. But there’s no need to stop there.  When television stations switched from analog to digital broadcasting, I built my own digital TV antenna using coat hangers and a 1×4 using plans I had found online.

One of my favorite websites to browse in the last few years has been Ana-White.com which contains hundreds of build-your-own plans for furniture.  The site, which is maintained by a self-described “homemaker” in Alaska, was originally called “Knock Off Wood” because it started with home-built knock-offs of items found at stores and in catalogs.  I’ve not attempted building any furniture yet, but I would like to try doing so at some point in time.

I haven’t taken the time to research this topic yet in depth, but it’s my belief that part of what we’re seeing with this trend is a reaction to the Obama economy.  As people worry more about their finances, frugality and independence become more important–at least for a certain segment of the population.  During the Great Depression, these kinds of household arts were quite common, partly out of necessity and frugality, but also partly because the population wasn’t quite as urbanized.   Store-bought items were  both a rarity and a luxury.  I don’t see it as a coincidence that make-your-own and do-it-yourself projects are proliferating these days, much as they did during the Depression years.

What do other people think?  Have you noticed this trend, as well?  Have you made such changes personally?  Are there items that you used to buy at the store that you’ve started making for yourself?

Misadventures in Multicultural Studies Indoctrination

Jeff’s post the other day about the questionable workshop at Brown University came to mind recently when I saw a very far-left Facebook friend link to this article by a professor named Warren Blumenfeld who had just retired from a position as a professor of education at Iowa State University.  The article contains the professor’s reflections and gives voice to both his lamentations and his indignity about those students who took his class who were not won over to his worldview and who had the temerity to announce that fact in their final papers.

The course was entitled “Multicultural Foundations in Schools and Society,” and Blumenfeld describes it in the following terms:

I base the course on a number of key concepts and assumptions, including how issues of power, privilege, and domination within the United States center on inequitable social divisions regarding race, ethnicity, socioeconomic class, sex, gender identity, sexual identity, religion, nationality, linguistic background, physical and mental ability/disability, and age. I address how issues around social identities impact generally on life outcomes, and specifically on educational outcomes. Virtually all students registered for this course, which is mandatory for students registered in the Teacher Education program, are pre-service teachers.

In other words, this is a required course in “multicultural studies” indoctrination.  If the course were voluntary, it would be a slightly different situation, but as a required course, it amounts to an example of the sort of thing that conservatives can easily point to as illustrating the left-wing biases of academia.

Professor Blumenfeld is particularly alarmed by the case of two female students who tell him quite boldly that the course has not changed their socially conservative Christian worldview:

On a final course paper, one student wrote that, while she enjoyed the course, and she felt that both myself and my graduate assistant — who had come out to the class earlier as lesbian — were very knowledgeable and good professors with great senses of humor, nonetheless, she felt obliged to inform us that we are still going to Hell for being so-called “practicing homosexuals.” Another student two years later wrote on her course paper that homosexuality and transgenderism are sins in the same category as stealing and murder. This student not only reiterated that I will travel to Hell if I continued to act on my same-sex desires, but she went further in amplifying the first student’s proclamations by self-righteously insisting that I will not receive an invitation to enter Heaven if I do not accept Jesus as my personal savior since I am a Jew, regardless of my sexual behavior. Anyone who doubts this, she concluded, “Only death will tell!”

Now while we might question the wisdom of both students in advertising the heresy represented by their beliefs so boldly in a graded assignment,  I think we might also be heartened by their courage in being true to their faith, even if we do not agree with all of the particulars of their worldview.

The professor, however, is shocked and appalled, and the rest of the essay is his attempt to reconcile–through reference to one leftist theory and tract after another–what he calls “our campus environment, one that emboldens some students to notify their professor and graduate assistant that their final destination will be the depths of Hell.”  Notice his word choice, there.  The problem is with the “campus environment” which “emboldens some students.”  It seems like a foreign idea to this professor to think that a university could be a place for the free and open exchange of ideas, especially those ideas that are unpopular.  I trust we will not find him quoting Voltaire or Jefferson anytime soon.

No, instead what we get is a description of and a reflection on a course that sounds like it could have been lifted straight from  the pages of Paolo Freire’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed, albeit with a more contemporary reading list.  While the professor uses the (more…)

Update on SC Senate Race

When the grassroots effort began which led to me strongly considering a challenge to Lindsey Graham for US Senate in 2014 — I promised that I would conduct my efforts in a transparent manner through social media.

I’ve been relatively quiet about my decision making process this week.

That was by design. After the enormous reception I received at CPAC, my team of advisors and I thought it best that we keep a lower profile this week.

This has allowed us to do the quiet due diligence that we need in order to make a final decision on whether to enter the race.

I promised that there would be a decision by mid-April, and there still will be.

I’d just ask everyone’s patience with me as I consult with my family, friends and members of the conservative grassroots that I respect dearly.

Thanks and have a great weekend.

-Bruce

Watcher of Weasels — Nominations March 21 2013

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 9:43 pm - March 21, 2013.
Filed under: Blogging,Conservative Ideas

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