August 08, 2003


Journalism or press release? I link--you decide. Check out this story--it's about some union-funded effort to help illegal aliens move about the country, and about granting them amnesty and making citizenship easier for them to attain. But the story, which is entirely about the status of illegal aliens, never once uses the word "illegal." When it refers to legal status, it uses the more innocuous "undocumented immigrants." Illegal, by a better-sounding name. It never uses the word "aliens" either, and nowhere will one find any discussion of the possible flaws in the AFL-CIO sponsored effort, which one of the participants helpfully describes as a way to build a political power base.

Which, to the reader, should constitute an "Aha!" moment. The "freedom ride" isn't really about the "immigrants" at all--it's about cementing them to a fixed political point on the compass. And given the union's involvement, it's a sure bet that that point is on the left. It's really all about the Democrats. Ordinary Americans don't like them anymore, so why not turn millions of law-breakers into new Americans who will like them. Who cares it might just make it easier for criminals and terrorists to slip in, too.

The Dems have done this kind of thing for years, but post 9-11 it's just one more illustration that they don't understand national security as anything other than a political issue, one to be ignored when possible and exploited when useful. Ditto for immigration policy, tax policy and scores of other issues--no principles, just politics and power. And it's one more illustration that the media is manifestly on the Democrats' side.

Posted by B. Preston at 04:47 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


Today is InstaPundit's second birthday. Happy birthday to the blogosphere's Grand Central Station! Today also happens to be my 33rd.

August has always been a tough month for a birthday. When I was in school, my siblings didn't like my birthday because it meant we would soon head back to the world of teachers and lectures and algebra and all that. Football two-a-days started up in the heat of August, as did cross country. Tough month to do those sorts of things. Historically, August hasn't exactly been the best time to be around. It's always hot. Nixon resigned in August. We nuked Japan--twice--in August. It was a justified act, but nonetheless still a controversial one. And there isn't a single holiday in the entire month of August. July has a great holiday, and so does September. But August has to be content to bask in their glory.

So August may not be everyone's favorite month, and as I get older it's less of a favorite of mine too. But today's my birthday, so we'll probably go out and eat some sushi or something, and I may get a new computer game. Any recommendations?

Posted by B. Preston at 12:14 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack


Some think the passengers stormed the cockpit, took control of the plane and accidentally crashed it. Others think the US military actually shot it down, and the Bush administration is covering it up. It's a nonsensical allegation, as nearly everyone agrees that shooting down Flight 93 would have been prudent given its likely target, the White House, and the fact that three other planes had already hit their targets earlier that morning. According to an analysis of the cockpit voice recorders, the hijackers brought it down once the passengers rebelled.

Citing transcripts of the still-secret cockpit recordings, FBI Director Robert Mueller told congressional investigators in a closed briefing last year that, minutes before Flight 93 hit the ground, one of the hijackers "advised Jarrah to crash the plane and end the passengers' attempt to retake the airplane."

Jarrah is thought to have been the terrorist-pilot because he was the only of the four hijackers aboard known to have a pilot's license.

Mueller's description was disclosed in a brief passage far into the 858-page report to Congress. Previous statements by FBI and other government officials have been ambiguous about what occurred in the cockpit.

The same cockpit recording was played privately in April 2002 for family members of victims aboard Flight 93, and the FBI also provided them with its best effort at producing an understandable transcript.

While some relatives of the Flight 93 heroes insist the passengers actually broke into the cockpit, a point on which the FBI remains circumspect, that doesn't change the fact that one hijacker is heard ordering the terrorist pilot to crash the plane. So we have a smoking gun, at least on the question of a shoot-down--it didn't happen. One more lefty conspiracy theory put to rest.

Posted by B. Preston at 10:06 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack


Our northern cousins are quickly becoming the most authoritarian state in the western world. If you say something in Canada that's politically incorrect, it can cost you your job, and soon it will be a crime.

If it can happen there, it can happen here. We already have "hate crime" laws just waiting for expansion and abuse. We already have the ACLU poised to attack all public manifestations of Christianity wherever it finds them. We may soon lose the fundamental meaning of marriage, our culture's most basic and necessary institution. And we already have a Supreme Court that looks at international law to determine what our own Constitution should say.

Posted by B. Preston at 09:05 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack


Lileks has really been hitting everything out of the park this week. Take today's Ahnuld bleat:

Listened to much radio commentary today on the Arnie candidacy, and as usual there was much lamenting and rending of garments on the ironclad right; he’s not this, he’s not that, he said this, he sleeps with a Shriver, etc. I am always mystified by people who would rather die pure than live with imperfections. Every candidate will always disappoint, somehow. Any candidate with whom you agree 100% is probably unelectable. If your bumpersticker says DON’T BLAME ME, I VOTED FOR AYN RAND I'm not particularly impressed . ‘Cause she’s dead and none of that stuff is going to happen. Doesn’t mean we can’t keep the ideas in play, but if you don’t vote because no candidate vows to privatize the sewage systems and disband the Food and Drug Administration, don’t come crying to me when your marginal tax rate hits 71 percent.

Ever since Ahnuld's stunning announcement, I've kicked around thoughts of who would like him, who wouldn't, who would support him, etc. I have to admit that though I'm pro-life and anti-gay marriage, Ahnuld would probably get my vote if I lived in Crazyfornia. Would I prefer the conservative Tom McClintock? You bet. Do I think he'll win? Um, no. Yes, he's well-known out there and without Ahnuld in the race he'd have a shot, but let's face it--Ahnuld is running and if you've seen that footage of him registering for the ballot you already know he's the 800-pound well-cut gorilla in the race now. The ladies at the registration office were taking pictures of the guy as he asked for his paperwork. They were smiling and giggling and carrying on like it was the prom and they were all lining up to dance with him. The guy is arguably the most popular actor in the world, has a great rags to riches story, actually chose to become an American, and is just cool. Ahnuld for governator.

The blogosphere's Mark Twain also grand-slammed the Episcopaleans' new bishop. Forget the gay part for a minute--Bishop Gene Robinson is a divorced father, having left his family to "follow his heart," as too many addle-brained say these days. The man left his family for sex, yet the Episcopalean church deems him worthy enough to make him a leader. What part of 1 Timothy 3--the chapter that lays out the qualifications for church leadership--do they not understand? Or have the Episcopaleans just discarded the verses they don't like? That's what cults do. And churches that have become politicized into apostasy. Anyway, Lileks says it better than I:

The guy left his wife and kids to go do the hokey-pokey with someone else: that’s what it’s all about, at least for me. Marriages founder for a variety of reasons, and ofttimes they’re valid reasons, sad and inescapable. But “I want to have sex with other people” is not a valid reason for depriving two little girls of a daddy who lives with them, gets up at night when they're sick, kisses them in the morning when they wake. There's a word for people who leave their children because they don't want to have sex with Mommy anymore: selfish. I'm not a praying man, but I cannot possibly imagine asking God if that would be okay. Send them another Dad, okay? Until you do I'll keep my cellphone on 24/7, I promise.

Robinson lives his entire life outside the teachings of scripture, yet his church not only thinks that's okay, but they chose to honor him for it. Somehow because he's gay (mumble that's also not exactly encouraged in the Bible mumble mumble) he can get away with infidelity, abandonment, you name it. Whatever. The PoMos have their own church now. Or, they have another one.

MORE: Go read Spoons too. He squashes girly-man Tim Noah like a little bug, links to a Ferarri piece that bats Katy Couric like a hapless kitten and lands one on Andrew Sullivan too.

MORE: On the other hand, serial liar Robert Scheer backs Ahnuld. That's a problem.

MORE: So why do I, a conservative Republican, an evangelicon, support Ahnuld for gov? Is it just the (R) after his name? Well that is part of it, but not all of it. If you changed the (R) into a (D), would I still support him? First, Ahnuld does have a degree in economics and has turned his muslces into a global empire, so he's not entirely clueless when it comes to handling money. But about that (R)--can you imagine what it must have been like for him all these years to be married to a Kennedy yet be a Republican? Imagine what family reunions must be like for him--everyone else, to a man, woman, child and pet is a Democrat down to the very cells in their blood. Ahnuld is the lone Republican there, and you know he must have taken a lot of grief for it. Can't you just imagine old Teddy sidling up to the Terminator and harranguing him over those horrible right-wing fascists, that moron Bush and his irresponsible tax cuts, the immoral war, etc etc. Yet faced with that, Ahnuld remains a Republican. That says something about him. He may not have much in common with an evangelicon like me, but when it comes to choosing between me and the wackos that pervade the Democrats, Ahnuld decides leaning right is better than leaning left, even though doing so has undoubtedly made family life less than comfortable over the years.

Are there things I'd like him to see differently? Of course--lots. He's almost a Democrat on policy, but not quite. He's hawkish, and seems pro-business and ready to take on the unions--those stances put him at odds with most Dems. And he chose to associate himself with the GOP side of the aisle, and his candidacy will probably bring Californians around to take a second look at the GOP as a whole. And he has a very good chance of winning, and doing well after he wins.

Posted by B. Preston at 08:47 AM | Comments (4) | TrackBack


Check out the 2004 campaign bumber stickers from our radical friends at

* Bush Lied - Thousands Died | IMPEACH BUSH NOW! * Gore 50,999,897 - Bush 50,456,002 | RE-DEFEAT BUSH! * Bush & Cheney Got Rich | DID YOU? * The Dixie Chicks Were Right!

These people are beyond parody, and they just never seem to learn from their past debacles. I would like to know exactly what the Ditzie Chicks were "right" about, though. I mean, they were right that Bush is from Texas, but other than that?

Posted by B. Preston at 07:55 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 07, 2003


I've chided President Bush for being less than reliably conservative, but on the other hand can you imagine any other politician for whom this would inspire anything other than laughter? A Bill Clinton action figure? I guess that depends on the meaning of "action." That's one toy that's not suitable for minors. Even John-who-by-the-way-served-in-Vietnam Kerry couldn't pull off an action figure without it looking, well, French. Who'd want that? Al Gore's would probably be slightly more lifelike than he is, but would take five minutes to say a single sentence. "" No thanks. John Edwards--instead of carrying a cool gun or sporting a pilot's helmet, he'd have a power tie and a big thick briefing folder. Howard Dean's would say something weird, then say he never said it, then say that he regretted saying it. Bob Graham's action figure would claim that the other action figures are all hiding something (but decline to say what that something is), and then miscount how many other action figures there are. Al Sharpton's would incite riots and falsely accuse all the other action figures of various crimes, then accuse all the others of being racist. Carol Mosely-Braun's would just be boooooring, and a bit off. Joe Lieberman's would denounce all the other action figures for being too violent. Yup, only GWB could have an action figure that actually looks cool.

Well, maybe there is one other pol who could pull it off...

Posted by B. Preston at 03:54 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

August 06, 2003


Lovell "Artie" Wheeler, roughly 61 years old, sits in solitary confinement somewhere in the Baltimore jail system. He was arrested at his place of work on July 1st on an anonymous tip. That same day his home in East Baltimore was ransacked by 60 or so heavily armed Baltimore SWAT team members and police, and his 72-year-old wife was handcuffed while they took books and videos and, well, anything they wanted. According to Mrs. Wheeler, they took all of her identification, and several thousand dollars cash. On July 3rd, Mr. Wheeler's bail was set at $2 million. Mrs. Wheeler hasn't been able to visit her husband of 24 years since that day--she would have to produce ID to get to see him, and she claims the police still have anything she could have used for identification.

Solitary confinement...a huge bail. You might think Wheeler had been arrested for plotting a terrorist strike, or for murder or something equally heinous, but you would be wrong. The original charges ranged from explosives possession to illegal firearms possession, but those charges have since been dropped. Now he is charged with reckless endangerment, a charge that at least makes some sense--Wheeler reportedly had 80 pounds of black powder stored in his house. He also manufactured firearms there. While possessing black powder is legal, the police say his black powder was improperly stored, a situation that could have led to an explosion and multiple casualties in the houses surrounding his. But they didn't know that until they used an axe to chop through the front door on suspicion of other crimes which seem to have fallen apart. The private manufacture of firearms is quite legal in Maryland. He was apparently using the black powder to make bullets, which is also legal. So though he was arrested, his wife terrorized and his home torn apart, he doesn't seem to have actually broken any laws. The search warrant the police used to enter his house has been sealed. But he's still in solitary, and still facing a bail so high that he'll never be able to pay it. He'll be in jail until the state says he won't be, pure and simple.

All this for a reckless endangerment charge? Well, here's where the story takes an even weirder turn. The Wheelers are vocal white supremacists. They make no apologies for it, and often and loudly use various epithets to describe anyone who isn't white. They're not what most of us would call good company.

Anyone who has read this blog for any length of time knows I am no racist. They should know that I despise racism--I think it is born of ignorance, fed with fear and grows into an irrational and immoral hate for which there is no excuse. But is being a racist illegal? Should being a racist land you in jail? Is being a racist--even an old racist who seems to have acted within the law--sufficient grounds to keep a man in solitary confinement for weeks on end while the authorities decide which charge they can get to stick to him?

I don't think so. I don't like Wheeler's racism one bit, but he has the right to be one so long as he doesn't hurt anyone, and he hasn't hurt anyone. I can't imagine a reason that the blue-collar Wheeler's bail is set so high when most violent criminals get bail of $100,000 or less in Baltimore. I can't imagine a reason other than his own protection that would justify putting an old man, even a hateful one like Wheeler, in solitary confinement for more than a month now. Being hateful isn't a crime, last time I checked. Even so-called "hate crime" laws mandate that an actual crime be committed before one's hate becomes actionable. And why do the police still have Mrs. Wheeler's personal identification and other effects, when she has neither been charged nor arrested at all? Something doesn't add up here.

My guess is the anonymous tip that started this thing was a vendetta of some sort--somebody overheard him say something racist and decided to get him, or perhaps he actually said something that someone else found scarry. Then the police overreacted, and are now scrambling to put some kind of case together that justifies his treatment. Thus come the rumors that he intended to start a race war. But the man isn't exactly in his prime, so that seems far fetched. It seems to me that Wheeler has spent more than a month in jail without any cause other than being a) a racist and b) a gun manufacturer who improperly stored his black powder. Only the latter should put him legal jeopardy, and justifies neither the excessive bail nor the solitary confinement.

I'll keep following this story to the extent that I'm able. The local press isn't talking much about it, and the only sources who seem to be following it now are racist outfits I'd rather not read nor link and have no credibility as far as I'm concerned. But I'd like to know why the city of Baltimore seems to think a nasty old man who makes guns is more of a threat than a street punk who steals guns, deals drugs and kills anyone who gets in his way.

UPDATE: Wheeler is going to have a tough time becoming a cause celeb. For one thing, he's a racist. For another, he's a gun enthusiast (to most lefties, the second is just as bad as the first). For a third, he was supposed to have a hearing today on reducing his bail, but he managed to miss the transport van to the courthouse. It's hard to gin up a "Free Lovell" campaign when the guy can't manage to make hearings that might actually free him.

But seriously, the charges against him are possession of gunpowder without a license and storing gunpowder in something other than its original shipping container. Those hardly justify $2 million bail and 5+ weeks in solitary confinement.

Posted by B. Preston at 11:28 PM | Comments (19) | TrackBack


The guys at Newsmax were emailed some great exclusive photos here:

Contrary to what some in the major media have reported, not all the jets found were from the Gulf War era.

The Russian made MiG-25 Foxbat recovered by U.S. Army troops in the pictures, is an advanced reconnaissance version never before seen in the west and is equipped with sophisticated electronics warfare devices.

...The advanced electronic reconnaissance version found by the U.S. Air Force is currently in service with the Russian air force. The MiG is capable of flying at speeds of over 2,000 miles an hour or three times the speed of sound, and at altitudes of over 75,000 feet.

The recovery of the advanced MiG fighter is considered to be an intelligence coup by the U.S. Air Force. The Foxbat may also be equipped with advanced Russian and French made electronics that were sold to Iraq during the 1990s in violation of a U.N. ban on arms sales to Baghdad.

UPDATE:Though the article didn't say the exact version, the aircraft is definitely a newer Foxbat D variant with side-looking airborne radar, and may even be the newest Foxbat D, the MiG-25RBSh. It's hard to tell exactly which one, which may be why Charles Smith left that out.

UPDATE:Read the comments to see where reader Keven Murphy proved me wrong. It's definitely a di-electric panel, not a SLAR antenna. That means it's definitely a Foxbat B, and may be a RBT or RBF or a similar custom upgrade. I still trust Charles Smith's sources for the find being important for intel.

The Pentagon officially downplaying it to the press as a generic "Cold-War era" MiG-25 is completely misleading, since the later variants are still active in the Russian inventory. The White House actually downplayed the entire story earlier.

Half the airframes in our own inventory are "cold-war" aircraft, including the F-15. The modernization programs are what matter, and it looks like this one had upgraded radar and electronics that we've never had the chance to disassemble and inspect before. It may sound strange, but the Russians would be in heaven if they somehow obtained a 50-yr old B-52 to inspect. It's all about the electronics. The capture of our high-tech EP-3E Aries II sure made the ChiCom PLAAF happy, even though the base P-3C Orion is a "cold-war" airframe.

For those that aren't familiar with Charles R. Smith, he's not really just another guy at Newsmax. He's sort of a poor man's Bill Gertz and keeps on top of all sorts of military and intel issues on his Softwar website. He's an expert with using the Freedom of Information Act to expose political abuse regarding those topics.

Posted by Chris Regan at 01:00 PM | Comments (13) | TrackBack


'Why should the State know who marries whom?' he exclaimed. 'Of course, if living together and not registration is taken as the test of a married state, polygamy and polyandry may exist; but the State can't put up any barriers against this. Free love is the ultimate aim of a socialist State; in that State marriage will be free from any kind of obligation, including economic, and will turn into an absolutely free union of two beings. Meanwhile, though our aim is the free union, we must recognize that marriage involves certain economic responsibilities, and that's why the law takes upon itself the defense of the weaker partner, from the economic standpoint.'

It seems the demise of Communism has been greatly exaggerated. The above may sound like libertarian (if you remove the refs to socialist states) or mainstream liberal thinking, but it is actually a direct quote from a Soviet debate on the abolition or marriage. The speaker was the USSR's public prosecutor, an advocate of abolition, and obviously a Communist. Marriage was one of the first targets of Soviet social engineering when Lenin overthrew the Czar:

When the Bolsheviki came into power in 1917 they regarded the family, like every other 'bourgeois' institution, with fierce hatred, and set out with a will to destroy it. 'To clear the family out of the accumulated dust of the ages we had to give it a good shakeup, and we did,' declared Madame Smidovich, a leading Communist and active participant in the recent discussion. So one of the first decrees of the Soviet Government abolished the term 'illegitimate children.' This was done simply by equalizing the legal status of all children, whether born in wedlock or out of it, and now the Soviet Government boasts that Russia is the only country where there are no illegitimate children. The father of a child is forced to contribute to its support, usually paying the mother a third of his salary in the event of a separation, provided she has no other means of livelihood.

At the same time a law was passed which made divorce a matter of a few minutes, to be obtained at the request of either partner in a marriage. Chaos was the result. Men took to changing wives with the same zest which they displayed in the consumption of the recently restored forty-per-cent vodka.

That the American Law Institute's principles regarding marriage echo the old USSR's, and that "mainstream" liberal writers like Michael Kinsley advocate abolishing marriage in the name of ending the argument over gay marriage, should give gay marriage proponents some pause. It won't--they'll remain ignorant of this connection, or bury it, or toss it off as coincidence--but it should.

(hat tip Blog)

Posted by B. Preston at 12:36 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

August 05, 2003


“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main…” John Donne, Meditation XVII

“We’re living in a society!!!”
--George Costanza, whenever someone is rude or otherwise uncivilized toward him

In the words of John Donne, and to a lesser extent those of Seinfeld’s George Costanza, are the sum and total of my philosophy regarding politics, and maintaining a social order. My understanding of morality springs from another source, but as most of you don't accept it discussing it will only turn you off, so I won't except as it bears directly on marriage. No one is an island, and the actions of one more often than not will have repercussions down through time that affect others. As members of a society, we must attempt to accommodate one another’s differences, learn from our own weaknesses, find happiness but at times compromise our own desires for the good of the culture around us. And the more selfish our desire, the more likelihood that it should either find positive expression or be submerged. This sounds harsh, even draconian, but I do not mean it that way at all. On the contrary, the more we allow selfishness to run free is the more we end up needing government to rein in the consequences, eventually making us less free.

Extramarital sex is an obvious example. Either premarital or adulterous, sex outside the bonds of marriage can have repercussions far beyond one night’s surrender to passion. It can result in contracting a deadly or disfiguring, or merely embarrassing, disease. Girls and boys too young to drive legally are physically capable of procreating, and often do, leading to mistrust and discord in families and the creation of a new life who will offer constant testimony to a moment of weakness. Or will be summarily aborted, leading in many cases to a lifetime of painful emotional scars for the young mother who never was, and death for the innocent infant. Men with a wife and family who engage in extramarital sex can produce bastard children with other women, leading in many cases to the destruction of the marriage, the alienation of the man from his legitimate children, long drawn-out court fights over who gets what and whom, and the creation of a new life that will live as a symbol (for some) as trust violated and vows broken, and two women who are suddenly single mothers. One night’s passion can cause all this damage. Further, years down the road it can affect the dating and marital relationships of the children on both sides of the transgression. A daughter may harbor mistrust of all men, or see sex as nothing more than a full contact sport; a son may see in his father’s example a reason never to marry, or to abuse the trust of all women who show him love. And on and on, into more generations. All from one night’s passion. Government has to step in when the not yet adult sire cannot afford to support the girl who will never be his wife but will always be the mother of his child. Government has to step in to decide what the married adulterer has to pay to his betrayed wife to support their children. Government ends up right in the middle of a family in ruins, all from one night’s passion. And if the father doesn’t pay what the state says he must, the state will hunt him down and force him to. All from one night’s passion.

No one is an island. Your choices will affect others, whether you intend it or not, and whether you ever realize it or not.

You choose a career path. It pays well, or not so well, and your family’s social status is affected. You choose a church, or choose not to go to church, and your family’s attitude toward religion is affected. You choose to drink or smoke, and those around you are affected to one extent or another. To this day I don’t touch alcohol because I grew up knowing a bad example—a talented man who had a knack for landing dream jobs and drinking himself right out of them. To me alcohol is the enemy of sanity, because I knew one very bad example. His choices affected his family, and his example has affected my own choices, which affect my family. The actions of a drunken man reverberate long after his death.

So what has all this got to do with gay marriage? you ask. No one is an island. One of the most consistent arguments in favor of allowing gay marriage is that, given the relatively small number of gays in society and the fact that only a subset of that number actually wants to marry, no matter how untraditional an arrangement they choose they will never have sufficient numbers to affect the marriages of straight couples. And while it is true that gay marriages would have little effect on existing marriages, it is highly likely that gay marriage as a social reality would have lasting effects on marriages to come, both gay and straight. For starters, laws will have to be changed to allow one man to marry another, or one woman to marry another. In and of itself that is a radical departure from thousands of years of marital norms. Laws will have to be changed to deal with the dispensation of property and tax status and family relationships and estate planning and a host of other things that are today taken for granted as falling into the domain of marriage as understood since the dawn of our civilization. Our understanding of genealogy will undergo a major revision. In a world where gay marriage will be legal, it will be possible for a little boy to grow up after two or three or more generations of women only, and if he wasn’t adopted he will most likely be the product of in vitro fertilization—there will be father out there somewhere. How will we deal with that father legally? What if he wants to have a fatherly relationship, with a father’s legal standing in every way? Will we allow him to “marry” into the family, creating a tripartite marriage? Why not? Where do we draw the line? What will make that line stay where we draw it? What will the little boy call his mother’s wife’s mother’s wife? How will growing up in such a family affect him mentally, emotionally and spiritually? And how will all this affect his relationships later on? Allowing gay marriage will further confuse the already twisted landscape of modern marriage.

Another line of pro-gay marriage thought expresses itself in outrage. The unfairness of recognizing only man-woman marriages just grates on those who feel alienated, and somehow diminished, by it. But outrage by itself is no rational argument. I find myself outraged that so many want to change the basic social order to accommodate so few without carefully weighing the potential costs and benefits, but with those who stand on the other side of the fence my outrage counts for nothing. Why should gay marriage proponents’ outrage count for more than mine? Some will say that because gays and lesbians understand the issue from the inside, their outrage means more, but that’s a value judgment. My side is banned from making easy value judgments—gay marriage proponents simply won’t accept the value judgments I make. Why should I accept theirs? As a married man, I also understand the issue “from the inside.” But the conclusions I reach are polar opposites of those reached by gay marriage supporters. How are we to resolve this dispute in a pluralistic constitutional republic?

We have two ways open to us—the people or the courts. Gay marriage proponents have by and large chosen the courts. Using the right of privacy, or the right of equal protection under the law, or whatever legal weapon they can come up with, they take to the courts to find a sympathetic judge to hand them marriage rights by fiat. This line of action will have unintended consequences, though. In using fairness or equal protection, gays may win marriage rights for themselves—and others. What will stop the courts having once redefined marriage to include same-sex unions from going on to recognizing multi-party unions in the future? By what principle will the one union find acceptance and the other remain forever banned? Some argue that the polyamory movement is too small today to mean much, and so shouldn’t worry us. But until a decade ago the same was said of the gay marriage movement—it was very much a fringe activity. Look where we are today.

What would polyamory mean to marriage? To the vast majority of married couples today, polyamorous unions will have little or no effect. But as Stanley Kurtz and others argue, polyamory will eventually bring about the end of marriage as a meaningful concept. No one is an island. The changes that are wrought in law to accommodate gay unions today, and polyamorous unions tomorrow, will affect all marriages that follow in one way or another. How? It’s impossible to say exactly what form the changes will take, but they will come. If gays succeed in persuading the courts to reshape marriage to suit them, polyamory is inevitable, and will bring with it sweeping changes to the way future generations perceive marriage, its purpose and its meaning.

I have mentioned in passing the definition of marriage, and in the preceding paragraph the purpose and meaning of marriage. What is marriage? What is it for? It is clear from thousands of years of history that marriage is not exclusively about the immediate feelings of romance and physical intimacy that most of us take for granted as marriage’s raison d’etre. Those feelings can and often do change, even die. They are too subject to forces beyond our control—our health, our finances. For most of history, men and women had little or no say in whom they married. Their parents or their tribe chose their mate, and whether love or hatred bloomed between them the pairing was meant to last for life, and was meant to produce the next generation. Its purpose was to give society a basic framework and a way to understand one person’s relationship to another. Marriage was intended to order and perpetuate the society, to rid it of incestuous relationships and the defects that often resulted, and to establish relationships between individuals and groups and the society as a whole. Polyamorous marriage has never been the West’s ideal form. The first Judaeo-Christian reference to marriage is in Genesis 2:24, which states “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Many of you do not accept the Bible as anything other than a book—that is your right. But that is the earliest Western definition of marriage, written some 5,000 years ago, and it lurks in our society’s understanding of family. One man, one woman, and their children. But, you say, the Bible is filled with people who didn’t live up to this and God seemed to be fine with it. On its face, this is true statement—nearly every man in the Bible from Abraham to David and beyond, up to the New Testament in the Christian view, practiced polygamy. David, whom God called a man after His own heart, had many wives. He even murdered a good man to get one of them. His son Solomon had a thousand wives. God never struck them dead for it. But a careful look at their families shows that their polygamist route did them and their country great harm. David’s son Absalom rebelled, and even overthrew him for a while, and rivalries between the children of his various wives plagued the royal house. Solomon’s wives led him into idolatry, and this eventually split Israel into two kingdoms. Abraham’s use of a concubine to produce a son led to friction with his wife, and ultimately he had to banish the servant and his son in order to please his wife. Wherever there is a story of polygamy in the Old Testament, there is always some level of discord that results. So while the majority of the Bible’s men violated the original definition of marriage, their history tells us why that definition was set as it was. It is the ideal.

No one wants to go back to the system of arranged marriages, at least in our society. Many societies still practice this form of “courtship,” but it is dying out in the developed world and that’s a good thing. But what is not dying out is the primary meaning and purpose of marriage, which is first and foremost about children. Yes, sterile or aged men and women can and do marry, as do younger couples who can but have no intention of raising children, but they are the exception and not the rule. Generally speaking, men and women who are of childbearing age marry and in due time produce children. Marriage is meant first and foremost to protect those children. From whom? From the rest of us, or to be more specific, to protect children from the state and from everyone else outside the marriage. Strong, healthy marriages give the state or other parties no reason to intervene or interfere. Strong, healthy marriages most often produce strong, healthy children who go on to produce strong, healthy marriages and more strong, healthy children. The stronger our marriages, the less need there is for the state to codify the legal ramifications of marriages gone wrong, or to decide where the children will live or who ends up with which property. Strong marriages keep the state further away than arm’s length; weak marriages keep the state right in our faces, and open the door to interference from relatives and friends and others, however well-meaning they might be. The welfare state and its disastrous effects on inner-city family is exhibit A. The inner city sees both the lowest levels of marital stability and the highest levels of government involvement in family life. Crime, drug abuse, and domestic violence all plague the areas most where marriage is weakest. The government in most cases owns the housing, pays the rent, buys the food, and puts the clothes on everyone’s backs. Fathers are almost entirely absent from the scene, and marriages are practically unheard of. Is this what we want?

Gay marriage proponents use the Loving case, which struck down anti-miscegenation laws, to show that the Chicken Little predictions that marital skies would fall proved untrue. For once, I agree with them, so much so that my own marriage is interracial. But it’s an irrelevant point. Anti-miscegenation laws were based on racial bigotry and deserved to be taken away (by democratic means would have been preferable to judicial fiat, as it would have been an expression of the popular will). The definition of marriage as a male-female relationship is an ideal meant to point the way to stable and healthy families and society. It should remain as it is, else we risk losing it entirely. In fact, we should do what we can to strengthen marriage, making divorce more difficult and re-instituting infidelity as a legal vector to the extent that it is a violation of a contract. People who knowingly interfere in someone else’s marriage should be subject to civil action.

Finally, gay marriage proponents argue that marriage will make gay men more monogamous, which would in turn lead to more stable relationships and help curb the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Evidence? There is none. Study after study shows that men, left to our own devices, are more prone to promiscuity than women. In turn, women have a stabilizing or even civilizing effect on men and our sexual mores. In marriages that don’t include women, how is this apparently hard-wired fact supposed to manifest itself? The presence of a lethal disease, spread most readily by unprotected gay sex, has had little long-term effect on gay male sex habits. Anonymous gay encounters never entirely went away, and seem to be back on the rise, even with AIDS as a permanent part of the landscape. How will marriage improve the situation? Gay marriage proponents simply assert that it will. I assert that it probably will not. Who is right? We can look at what the existing data tells us, or we can experiment with marriage with the possibility of destroying it. Those are our choices.

No one is an island. I keep beating on that point because it’s true. Gay marriage isn’t likely to affect my marriage or yours. But it will change the legal definition of marriage, and it will change the culture’s perception of the purpose and meaning of marriage, and will change how the society relates to marriage in terms of morality and law. The choices we make with regard to gay marriage today will affect our society for generations to come, possibly forever. Whether we like it or not.

MORE: Well, here we go--the tripartite family has already arrived. And yes, if you scroll up to the post above the one linked, that's my quote at the end of it.

Posted by B. Preston at 12:33 AM | Comments (28) | TrackBack

August 04, 2003


Somebody please, please do justice to this old fart's exit rant.

He thinks Bush is the weakest president in 50 years!?!?! Let's see--the last two Dem presidents, off the top of my head, one let terrorists take over Iran without so much as a whimper, the other let Osama bin Laden run amok for 8 years with no more response than a few expensive laser-guided firecrackers--but ol' Fritz thinks Bush is the weak one. Fritz is a walking argument for term limits. And I'm sure the geezer who erected the Confederate flag over South Carolina also thinks everyone else is whistlin' Dixie too.

Good bye and good riddance, Fritz. Once a sheethead, always a sheethead.

Posted by B. Preston at 10:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


President Bush has been brilliant on the war front but less than stellar here at home. On issue after issue--school choice, steel tariffs, agriculture bills, affirmative action, spending in general--his administration has sold out the principles of limited government that put him in office.

It's a conundrum I started worrying about last summer, when the administration essentially accepted global warming as fact. George Will wrote recently that

George W. Bush may be the most conservative person to serve as president since Calvin Coolidge. Yet his presidency is coinciding with, and is in some instances initiating or ratifying, developments disconcerting to four factions within conservatism.

Will goes on to list those four factions and how each has in turn been sold out by the Bush administration. To Will's objections I would add another, which has been the administration's unwillingness or inability to use the bully pulpit and use the political capital it builds as a result of successfully waging the war. Judicial nominations and the necessary but thus far not requested expansion of the military are but two areas where the Bush team could play to its strengths and use the presidency to its advantage to give conservatives something other than the war to cheer about. It could get behind Washington DC mayor Anthony Williams' call for school vouchers in the district, and by enlisting Williams’ and Sen. Diane Feinstein's support, could even look bipartisan in the process. But on these issues the administration is at best half-hearted, most often silent and at worst working against conservative principles. What's going on?

It comes down to two basic Bush administration misunderstandings. First, that while the war is the single biggest issue motivating most conservatives, we don't focus on it to the exclusion of everything else. And second, the Democrat opposition not only doesn't focus on the war to the exclusion of everything else, but it wants everything else to crowd out the war in the voting public's consciousness. The Democrats will be happiest when the war is over, regardless of the outcome.

Both issues are related, and should demonstrate to the administration that just because we're in a war for survival doesn't mean there isn't time for partisanship or for moving our domestic agenda. Indeed, it would be the ultimate irony if we focused so hard on the foreign aspects of the terror war that we forget to protect our culture and institutions here at home. But that's exactly what is happening. Marriage is under assault--where is the President? The right of Christians to hold public office is under assault--where is the President? The right to be judged on the content of your character as opposed to the color of your skin is under assault--where is the President? On school choice, tort reform, free trade--where is the President?

He is fighting the war, to the exclusion of everything else save taxes, thinking that that single issue will be enough to keep him afloat domestically. That's not an idle theory on my part, by the way. It's a fact. Here's how I know.

Last summer, I began to worry about the steady stream of conservative sellouts. I struck up a conversation about it with someone very close to the administration. I will not identify this source, only to note that this person is close to the President and ideologically similar to him. I asked this person why the administration seemed content to sell out its conservative principles so often and so easily? Why it seemed to give up and let Ted Kennedy write its bills without a fight? The reply was both revealing and a little disheartening.

Essentially, the source (who was not speaking for the President, but whose ideas are similar to his) said that we could sort out all of the liberal vs. conservative arguments after the war, but that during the war the President was focused on building consensus and didn't want to pick too many partisan battles. This response told me that the Bush administration isn't as conservative in principle as I had previously thought. It meant that for the sake of a few days or weeks' peace with the left, the administration was willing to do lasting damage to both the country and the conservative cause. It also told me that the administration has underestimated its domestic opposition. And for all his accommodation, according to a recent New York Times article, grass roots Democrats just despise him more—even more than his father, and more than Ronald Reagan.

Since the Afghan campaign began, the Democrats have been seized with indecision. The party is split between ultra-doves, doves, dovish hawks and a few lonesome hawks, and those factions agree on very little when it comes to the war. At the extreme end are people like, who early on published conspiracy theories alleging that 9-11 was a Bush plot to make himself dictator for life, and you have to go all the way to Zell Miller or Joe Lieberman before you find a Democrat who speaks rationally about the war and the need to wage and win it. But while the Democrats are very much divided on the war, they are united in not just opposing but hating President Bush. They are in many ways a party looking for a reason to exist, and hating Bush seems to be the one reason nearly all of them can agree on. The Bush administration, not sensing this early on, caved to the Democrats on a range of domestic issues in the hope that it would bring them around and forge a workable unity on the war. That worked for a while, and last fall's vote to authorize the Iraq action was as bipartisan as could be expected. But last year's elections gave the GOP more power on Capitol Hill, pushing the Democrats into a corner. Moderate voters broke right, hardening the Democrats to the left. The haters, in the persons of Reps. Nancy Pelosi and Dennis Kucinich and former governor Howard Dean, now dominate the party's public face. They charge scandal where there is none, and cry for impeachment for 16 truthful words that didn't change anything. They are not serious about the war, but are serious in their blind hatred for Bush and seem willing to say or do nearly anything to get him out of office. With the President's own conservative base demoralized by a string of sellouts, they may succeed--especially if the war is less of an issue next year.

Had the Bush administration known just how low its opposition could sink, it would probably have handled things differently over the past 18 months. It would have caved in less often, it would have fought harder for its core ideals and for its judicial nominations, and would have acted more forcefully as the rightful leader of domestic policy. It would have no problems with its conservative base.

There is still time to turn things around. The Democrats have offered no viable alternative and conservatives and moderates will probably have nowhere else to go in 2004, so if we vote we will vote for the President's re-election. If we vote. At this point, whether his base votes for him with enthusiasm or not at all is about the only thing President Bush seems to have to worry about. But he should start to worry about it nonetheless. He did lose the popular vote in 2000, after all. Winning without his base in 2004 may be less a sure thing than he seems to think.

Posted by B. Preston at 10:25 AM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

August 03, 2003


I will write a response to the comments in the original post below, some time in the next day or so. I had intended to do it this weekend, but real life has intruded. Hopefully it is nothing serious, but a thing or two have kept me from being able to focus and do justice to the topic. Suffice it to say that I'm happy the comments thus far have remained civil. Gay marriage is and will for a long time be a wrenching issue--watch the unfolding turmoil in Canada and the Episcopal church if you don't believe me. But hopefully thoughtful people can discuss it without resorting to gutter tactics. So far everyone here has.

MORE: I think this Maggie Gallagher quote says it all--

The problem with endorsing gay marriage is not that it would allow a handful of people to choose alternative family forms, but that it would require society at large to gut marriage of its central presumptions about family in order to accommodate a few adults' desires.

Her entire article is a must-read.

Posted by B. Preston at 09:17 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack