A New Can Of Worms
19 July 2003
 
Jewish-Indian Political Alliance

AtlanticBlog's William Sjostrom comments on a Washington Post piece on a US Indian and Jewish political alliance. Both of their homelands are, essentially, at war with militant Islam.

I pick up on this because candidate for US Senate Chirinjeev Kathuthria of Illinois is, of course, Indian. Part of his rationale for running is to bring fresh blood into the IL GOP. While jews have begun to leave the Democrat party in recent years over the Democrats poor treatment of Israel, I wonder if Kathuria's candidacy could accelerate that process in Illinois -- if he chooses to court the Jewish community. The domestic political angle is not unheard of because as pointed by the Post, these two groups did come together to defeat Cynthia McKinney (D-GA).
18 July 2003
 
A New Look for A New Can of Worms

I'm still playing with the settings. For example, I'd like the links in the right column to be smaller. I'd also, as I grow my blog, like to give the two or three of you who read this a chance to comment on my posts. But, this is new, new can of worms.

My hope is that this bigger, cleaner look will cut down on my poor editing. I have a tendency to post & publish and not thouroughly edit my posts. My bad. Hopefully, they'll be more obvious when I preview my posts.

The title remains the same because of the content. As the director of the Illinois Policy Institute, I'm pretty limited on what I comment upon. I can't very well ponder Leo Strauss or foreign policy at a state based think tank. Nor, should I use the Institute to comment on politics in Illinois. That's a can of worms that I just don't want to open, thus the name of my blog. This is where I go to offer my own unedited opinion.

If you wonder if there is a difference between posting my opinions here versus posting my opinions at the Institute's website, let be the one to tell you there is. At the Institute I have donors and a board of directors -- who are also donors. Here at blogspot, it's free. No one is paying for this space and I can still use this to cross promote the Institute. This way, my donors and directors are actually getting something for free and I am getting my own personal outlet. I believe this to be the purpose of blogging in the first place.




 
No more Post & Publish

I'm making too many errors...
 
How To Occupy a Country

Alexander Casella offer the US some lessons of history when it comes to occupying a country:

"With time running short and for want of a comprehensive occupation policy, the US authorities in Iraq are now rediscovering the wheel, namely reactivating the local police and paying the salaries of former soldiers. It is possible, just possible, that had these measures been advertised and taken three months ago, the US would be in a far better position than it is today in confronting a situation of increased insecurity."


 
The Balanced Budget Paradigm

From EconoPundit Steve Antler's comments on Hoover and FDR we get an interesting insight on state fiscal matters.

The post, which comments on a TNR piece critical of Howard Dean's, -- via Asymmetrical Information -- fiscal policies.

Dean raises the balanced budget to the level of a 'fetish' notes the article. Raising taxes and cutting spending during an economic recession was Herbert Hoover's strategy and it only made matters worse. FDR, adds Antler, did the same thing until WWII came along.

Raising taxes and cutting spending are exactly what states are do under Balanced Budget Amendments. Governor Blagojevich's budget did this in Illinois -- and he is not the only one as a number of other states followed suit. It didn't work for Hoover and it won't work for Illinois, but the balanced budget paradigm continues to drive government growth around the country. Here is how it works:

During good economic times state legislatures are able to increase spending because of concomitant growing revenues while claiming to balance the state budget. More revenue in means more revenue out. When the economy begins to sputter and revenues drop off, a "budget crisis" ensues.

"The more revenue out," from the good economic times becomes the budget baseline during the economic downturn. Now, in order to balance the budget, politicians are forced to either cut spending, to the chorus of special interests screaming, "your cutting essential services!," or raise taxes to make up for the "lost revenues." This is the built in spending bias resulting from balanced budget amendments.

The procedural solution to the problem are Tax and Expenditure Limitation Acts during good economic times. They don't allow spending growth beyond population growth plus inflation. Require a 2/3 or 3/4 vote to raise taxes and return excess monies to voters -- as Colorado did during the 90's to the tune of about $1 billion.

The substantitive solution is to elect a better class of politicians. I know I'm dreaming here... of course.


17 July 2003
 
U.S. judges keep TRO in place blocking Nevada tax package

Sort of good news for those of us who believe in the democratic process.

What's interesting is that the federal court was hesitant to challenge the Nevada Supreme Court on overturning a TEL Amendment (it takes a 2/3 vote to raise taxes in Nevada) in favor of the substantive article pertaining to adequate school funding.

I'm not claiming that these two examples are apples and apples, but does anyone really believe that any federal court would hesitate to overturn a state court on issues pertaining to civil rights? Here's how the AP wrote it up:

"John Eastman, a lawyer from the Claremont Institute Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence arguing on behalf of legislators who opposed the tax increases, said the state Supreme Court ruling"eviscerated"the Nevada Constitution and created a"mess."

"The Nevada Supreme Court can't just act without any regard for due process,"Eastman said."We just can't dispense with provisions of the constitution that are inconvenient."

Judge Pro interrupted Eastman at one point to say,"Your problem is with the Nevada Supreme Court and your direct appeal is to the U.S. Supreme Court."


Now that we're talking tax hikes, I bet the left discovers state's rights.


 
Obligatory Comment on Mark Steyn's Column

Mark Steyn is probably the most linked to guy in blogdom. But, the man is just priceless:

"But here’s a much more pertinent question than whether BUSH LIED!!!!!!!!!!!!!: how loopy are the Democrats? One reason why the President, in defiance of last week’s Spectator, is all but certain to win re-election is the descent into madness of his opponents. They’ve let post-impeachment, post-chad-dangling bitterness unhinge them to the point where, given a choice between investigating the intelligence lapses that led to 9/11 and the intelligence lapses that led to a victorious war in Iraq, they stampede for the latter. Iraq was a brilliant campaign fought with minimal casualties, 11 September was a humiliating failure by government to fulfill its primary role of national defence. But Democrats who complained that Bush was too slow to act on doubtful intelligence re 9/11 now profess to be horrified that he was too quick to act on doubtful intelligence re Iraq. This is not a serious party. " (emphasis added)

This paragraph is one of those simple, obvious truths that you only wish you had thought of.
 
John Cox Uncensored


Eric Zorn's great profile of John Cox in today's Chicago Tribune is a must read.... And so is this. It is the unedited version of the interview on Eric Zorn's website.

The interview really capture John's energy and his commitment to the conservative cause. Not that I needed to be reminded, John is heavily involved with the Illinois Policy Institute.




 
New Tax Hike Spurs 4 Casinos To Seek Shorter Hours

According to Gambling Magazine, four casinos are seeking to get around paying 70% on their margins -- as part of the Governor's effort to balance the budget. It turns out regulators may stand in their way, but this is still a good illustration on how raising taxes inhibits the market.

Companies and individuals will work to keep the tax burden low. For individuals, it often means not working as much. For companies there are a number of stratgies for avoidings taxes, shorter hours (not working as much) is just one. Moving to another state is another.

Low rates mean more compliance and a more efficient economy, that aids everyone.


 
Topinka vs. Blagojevich

Crains' Business reports that popular State Treasurer Judy Barr Topinka will take on popular Governor Rod Blagojevich.

"Illinois State Treasurer Judy Barr Topinka says she's going to take the governor up on his challenge and ask for a legislative override on cuts he made to her office staff."

Judy Barr Topinka is popular, but I don't know if this is worth cashing in on her political capital for. Sure, she may win the battle, but could lose the war further damaging the IL GOP, which she currently heads.

"Everyone elese is tightening their belts, why shouldn't she," will be EVERYONE's line.




 
Philip Morris Bankruptcy Concerns Hit Market

From Bloomberg.com: U.S.: "The latest ruling by an Illinois court has renewed concern Philip Morris USA may be forced into bankruptcy if a $12 billion deposit, required to appeal a $10.1 billion verdict for misleading smokers, gets reinstated."

I can hear the pillars at the State Capitol shaking....
 
Yellowcake Fever Grips the Swamp

Yellowcake fever has infected the swamp this summer and it has been a long time since I've seen something this trumped up seize the chattering classes. The Wall Street Journal today cites the National Intelligence Estimate in an attempt purge the contagion.

They do a better job than the White House has been doing:

"We're reliably told that that now famous NIE, which is meant to be the best summary judgment of the intelligence community, isn't nearly as full of doubt about that yellowcake story as the critics assert or as even CIA director George Tenet has suggested. The section on Iraq's hunt for uranium, for example, asserts bluntly that "Iraq also began vigorously trying to procure uranium ore and yellowcake" and that "acquiring either would shorten the time Baghdad needs to produce nuclear weapons."

Regarding the supposedly discredited Niger story, the NIE says that "a foreign government service reported that as of early 2001 Niger planned to send several tons of 'pure uranium' (probably yellowcake) to Iraq. As of early 2001, Niger and Iraq reportedly were still working out arrangements for this deal, which could be for up to 500 tons of yellowcake. We do not know the status of this arrangement."

That foreign government service is of course the British, who still stand by their intelligence. In the next paragraph, the NIE goes on to say that "reports indicate Iraq also has sought uranium ore from Somalia and possibly the Democratic Republic of the Congo." It then adds that "we cannot confirm whether Iraq has succeeded in acquiring uranium ore and/or yellowcake from these sources."


It is probably too late for the President's defenders to say anything. The President at some point may -- I still doubt this thing will last into the Fall -- have to come out and address this issue at length.

Saddam Hussein had chemical weapons, we know that from their use. We have a long history of Saddam Hussein seeking biological weapons -- some from the US, even -- yet we still do not know what happened to them. We know the Saddam was seeking to build nuclear weapons -- as is every other major player in the region (i.e. Iran & Syria). Finally, we know the guy was a sponsor of terrorism in Israel (money for homicide bombers), and that Saddam attempted to assasinate a former President. Obviously, he was a threat. France, Russia, Germany, Cuba, the United Nations, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn have readily conceded these facts in the run up to the war. They just didn't agree, for political reasons, with the US doing something about it.

I don't see a problem, here.

We have not found the smoking gun, yet the preponderence of evidence exists to allay any doubts. Sure, as each piece of evidence is pulled from some Iraqi's scientist's pumpkin patch a Norwegian nerd is able to cast a doubt on that one piece. Taken as an islolated incident, the nerd might have a point, but when you add it all up not even Johnnie Cochran could have saved Saddam. The Administration should make that case and put the ball back in the critics court.
16 July 2003
 
Saddam-bin Laden Link

The Center for Security Policy has the story on their home page today.

Not a lot gets by Frank.
 
Philip Morris Appeal Bond Nightmare

An Illinois Appellate Court says a state court judge lacked the authority to reduce the appeal bond size in the Philip Morris class action case in Madison.

Remember this one? Where the trial bar went after Philip Morris over Marlborough Lights not being "light" enough even though everyone admits that the cigarrette was never marketed as healthier.

If Philip Morris is forced to pay a $12 billion appeal bond they may be forced into bankruptcy thus throwing the entire tobacco master settlement agreement (MSA) with the states out the window. It will mean the end of Philip Morris' share of the shakedown paid to the states every year....Legislators will be jumping out of windows; tough decisions will have to be made; cats and dogs sleeping together.... Oh the humanity! ... Part of me would love to see the MSA scuttled. It's has become nothing more than a liberal feeding trough. However, this is no laughing matter.

Companies that employ people with families should not have to face a bankruptcy judge so they can afford to get their day in court. The tort system in this country cost every man woman and child in this country $721 in 2001 and that cost is expected to rise to $1,000 over the next two years. Surely, that meets the definition of a regressive tax. Where are the liberals? Oh, yeah, they're the one's earning a living off the settlement money by telling us how we can't eat oreos, anymore.
 
US Senate Candidate Chirinjeev Kathuria

Friend of the Illinois Policy Institute Chirnijeev Kathuria has a nice profile today in the Suburban Chicago Daily Herald. He announced his candidacy, but has yet to formally launch a campaign.

He spoke at a Wednesday Meeting (Leave Us Alone Coalition meeting hosted by Grover Norquist every week in DC) and actually got an ovation, from what I heard. As a Indian-American and a practicing Sikh -- complete with beard and turban -- so few in Illinois are really taking him seriously. He does however, have an opportunity if he runs a smart campaign to surprise a lot of people in Illinois, around the country as well the world.

It could be a 10 man race and Chirinjeev could bring new voters into the mix from the Indian and Asian communities in Illinois. Having any kind of base will help. Like Chirinjeev says about his family, "We're Indians, so we're all doctors," he could be a potent fundraiser on top of his personal wealth.

I've spent some time with him and he has great ideas about taking free market ideas to the next level. He reminds me a little of John Cox, a member of the Institute's board (a reeeeaaallly close friend of the Institute, and me), because like John, Chirinjeev believes in ideas. Any one close to Illinois politics knows that "idea" is a four letter word. Traditionally, we send people to Washington to divvy up the pie, not grow it.

Illinois conservatives would do well if either John and/or Chirinjeev emerged as long term players in Illinois politics. I wish them well on the campaign trail.


 
Does Andrew Sullivan Need to Lighten Up?

Andrew Sullivan, still my first and favorite blog, writes today about the "Fiscal Wreckage" of the Bush Administration -- ie. the glass is half empty...

For starters, adding $2 trillion to the national debt might not be that important in the long run if Michael Boskin is right that deficit watchers are underestimating the positive fiscal impact of tax deferred savings vehicles that hold some $3 trillion in assets. As Boomers begin to retire and draw down their 401k's, these monies will be taxed as regular income. Boskin's case is controversial, but there are undoubtably many truths in it.

EconoPundit Steve Antler points to how bad it would be without the Bush fiscal stimulus. Apparently, it could be worse -- albeit I don't suggest that be the President's re-election campaign slogan...So yeah Mr. Sullivan, the argument that the Dems. would be doing worse does have evidence to support it and should hold some water.

Finally, The Wall Street Journal (subscription required) today points out that:

"By far the biggest chunk (53%) of the deficit is due to the slower economy, which has caused federal revenues to fall faster than anyone expected. From a Clinton-era peak of 20.8% of GDP, revenues are now expected to fall this year to about 16.3%. The average over the past 40 years has been about 18%, which suggests that revenue will bounce back up once the economy does.

This revenue collapse has three causes: a decline in capital gains revenue, in corporate tax receipts and in personal-income tax receipts. All three of these boomed in the late 1990s, personal taxes in particular as income growth and stock-option realizations pushed more and more taxpayers into the higher Clinton tax brackets.

The key to regaining that revenue is getting the economy growing once again, which is what the Bush tax cuts are designed to do. They've already helped the stock market, though that won't pay off in higher tax revenue (from capital gains and options) for another year or two.

As for spending, not even Howard Dean disputes that military spending had to rise after September 11. During Bill Clinton's extended holiday from history, military spending fell to pre-World War II levels as a share of the U.S. economy (3% in 2000). It has since risen by about 1% more of GDP a year, still well below the 6.2% that was reached during the Reagan military buildup of the 1980s. The battle of Iraq is a one-time cost that will also make defense spending seem larger than it is on a long-term basis.

The cause of the deficit that is far less justifiable has been the Bush-era boost in non-defense domestic spending. This has also climbed by something like 1% as a share of GDP since 2001, with the White House acquiescing to huge spending increases on education, transportation, homeland security and of course the gluttonous farm bill."


Andrew Sullivan is correct in stating that no conservative is happy with the Washington's prolifigate domestic spending. He's right. I know because I go to the meetings. However, as Iraq spending fades into the past and the economy picks up steam many of his concerns should fade as well. Also, while the deficit is big, it is also important to point out that the deficit as a percentage of the economic pie is still low.

The message here isn't that the esteemed Mr. Sullivan is wrong; it is that Mr. Sullivan could use a good dose of optimism...
 
10 Real Lies Told About Iraq

Via Instapundit... Porphyrogenitus is essentially asking a very intriguing question. If President Bush lied about the Niger Uranium, then what were all the others doing when they said Iraq would take 500K troops; the Arab street would rise up against us; the war in Iraq would distract from the war against terrorism; and on and on and on???

The Bottom Line
It's summer and we really don't have much to talk about.

 
State Education Leaders Criticize Blagojevich's Budget cuts

According to today's Suntimes the Governor is being criticized by the right people -- the education establishment.

Illinois ranks 20th in the country according to the Fed's National Center for Educations Statistics in overall per pupil spending in 2001. Illinois ranks 39th in per pupil spending in the classroom during that same year. Does anyone really believe the fault lies with Governor Blagojevich?


15 July 2003
 
The Latest from the ILLINOIS POLICY INSTITUTE

Illinois is of dual minds on free trade. Our ever shrinking manufacturering base is very much against trade -- especially with China (which I don't mind so much). On the other hand, agriculutre exports are critical to Illinois and NAFTA is critical to that -- as is a future free trade pact with Chile.

In this instance, high fructose corn syrup, is a double whammy. The product is both grown and refined (ie. manufactured) in Illinois.
 
One Long Entry

The MCI Government Markets entry is the longest I've ever attempted. I've had to go back and correct some typos -- which I reserve the right to do.

It will be a long time before I do anything that long, again.
 
The MCI Government Markets and GSA Flap
a former public relations manager weighs in

One way to ensure that taxpayers suffer both financially and physically (through the Air Traffic Control system & DoD networks) is to let the unions and monopoly phone carriers use the political process to strip MCI from competing for government contracts. Federal Times Online updates us on the latest on MCI Government Markets coming under assault by competitors and unions seeking to punish 63,000 workers for the sins of a few at the top (the very thing unions are supposed to stand for).

As a former public relations manager for MCI Government Markets, I take a very personal interest in this. I very much believe that the hardworking people of this division are a) are being unfairly maligned and used as political fodder and b) they have very, very high ethical standards.

As we said in a letter to General Services Administration (GSA) Administrator Stephen Perry last month this is nothing more than payback from the Communications Workers of America and Verizon. Moreover, from a policy perspective, the wrongdoer's at MCI have been punished and disbarment will do long-term harm to the competitive bidding proces. This is because nothing more than a politicization of the process is being attempted here, and that politiczation threatens a process that has saved the federal government (thus the tax payer) billions. By politically punishing MCI in this way we are opening the door to these kinds political campaigns across the board. Having worked with the GSA for more than a year while at MCI, you can bet that's what they fear. They want nothing to do with this precedent.

Second, the $750 million fine imposed by the SEC is about what MCI will bring in on the FTS2001 contract to provide data, voice and Internet services to government agencies over the life of the contract. I know that $750 million was the minimum amount of the contract, and that when I left MCI WorldCom in 2000 government agencies were getting some hypercompetitive rates. Since then, more competitors have been added to the contract. A contract, by the way, that MCI must compete to provide services. It is not easy money and it is a highly competitive framework. In addition, under the MAA contracts to provide local services, of which Verizon is a competitor, local incumbent carriers, like Verizon, will -- if they are not already doing so -- be able to compete with Sprint, MCI and AT&T (who has been added by some agencies) for long-haul services under FTS2001. This contract only gets you in the door.

Third, MCI Government Markets are part of the solution at MCI, not the problem. A) there is integrity, Government Markets has loads of it (Instead of having their lawyers out front, MCI should have Jerry Edgerton, the division senior vice president, telling HIS story.) When I worked there, I recall walking the halls looking for a story to tell the press and hearing Government Markets management wondering out loud what management in Jackson was doing (one of the reasons I got out because I was an outsider, I reported through Corporate not Government Markets). They didn't trust the "billionaires in Jackson" (WorldCom headquarters). That's because they weren't part of that culture.

B) MCI Government Markets has its own corporate culture different from the rest of the company. Why? Because their client (the government) has in many instances standards that far exceed civlian networks because of the mission critical nature of the work (ie. defense communications, Air Traffic Control and the Postal Service). Furthermore, in the government contracting arena many of your best workers are former government employees, especially with regard to the Dept. of Defense. Many of whom are veterans or military brats. Someone should point that out to the political class currently waging jihad against the company. Moreover, MCI Government Markets is physically separated from the company and has been allowed to develop as its own phone company within a phone company in order service its own specialized clients. Richard Thornburgh needs to take a tour.

C) The executives in the Government Markets division at MCI were the ones who developed the business at the old MCI 20 to 25 years ago (I forget how long). They have consisently gone out on a limb with their personal assurances to clients and the goverment markets press that the company would exceed expectations. And the GSA, in its review of Government Markets, has said they have done just that -- exceeded requirements. Government Markets management were not going to let that record be ruined by Jackson, and because they were successful Jackson largely left Goverment Markets alone.

Finally, these contracts by the government are awarded through a competitive process, not out of political favoritism -- that is what CWA, Verizon and other competitors are using against the company -- politics. My educated guess is that Government Markets was awarded the cell phone contract in Iraq because they have done similar work in Bosnia and other hotspots (I recall providing remote cell phone service in Thailand, too; but am unsure). Often what is done in this situation is that the American firm outsources and works with indigenous companies on the ground. The local company does the network, while -- in this case -- MCI does the backoffice stuff.

The critieria in awarding all of these contracts involve past practices, best value and cost. These are measurable critieria, unlike the complaints of the competitors and CWA.


 
Good News, Bad News

Greenspan Speaks (link requires Subscription) before Congress reports the Dow Jones Newswire...

"Delivering a semiannual report on monetary policy to Congress, Mr. Greenspan said the sluggish economy should gain speed in coming quarters, propelled by resurgent stock markets and a "heavy dose" of tax cuts and federal-spending increases.

Still, the Fed chairman said policy makers aren't inclined to take any chances. The Federal Open Market Committee "stands ready to maintain a highly accommodative stance of policy for as long as it takes to achieve a return to satisfactory economic performance," Mr. Greenspan said in prepared testimony to the House Financial Services Committee."


In addition, Greenspan suggested that it will be at least until 2005 until the Fed considers raising rates. This is because, "...the economy "could grow at a solid pace for some time before generating upward pressure on inflation," according to a Fed report to Congress.

This is good news if you are a fan of President's and business should respond positively. However, not all is peachy in the biz. community. Greenspan said that businesses were stricken with a, "sense of pervasive caution," in the wake of 2001, 2002 business scandals. We need to get over it. If you are honest and you have integrity you should have nothing to fear.

On the political side, David Broder's latest op-ed points to the perceived weaknesses of the Bush Administration -- namely that Iraq is becoming a quagmire (where have we heard that before?) and the habitual slow economic recovery. Greenspan probably helped the latter, the former however is part of a longer, tougher war that, unlike Vietnam, we just can't pull out of when the going gets tough. We pull out, the war will be brought back to our shores, again.

Iraq may prove tougher than we anticipated, but there is no going back as I discussed yesterday.





 
Gangs Use Scooters to Get Around

I wonder if the Kingpins ride Vespas?

It's gotta' be a sight to behold...

14 July 2003
 
Douglas Hurd in the FT

Hurd is saying what I've been thinking for awhile:

... "Yet we cannot afford to fail. The Americans pulled out of Somalia; after many years the British abandoned the mandate in Palestine. That outcome is inconceivable in Iraq, given its importance and the commitment of both governments. We are condemned to succeed. It follows that even those who opposed the war must support the effort to win the peace - in particular the two strands of policy that offer the best hope of progress."

In the US opponents of the war want to hang the President for 16 words in the State of the Union Speech, which a WSJ Op-Ed today points out were true. Seeking to turn Americans against the war is a dangerous gambit from which to run for office. If the American people are fooled into believing that this war was somehow unjust and -- it follows in my mind -- that the US would then withdraw in the face of very limited Iraqi opposition, then we become the paper tiger that Osama bin Laden claimed we were. This is a dangerous game, indeed.

Osama bin Laden cited our lack of will in Vietnam, the first Gulf War, Bosnia and Somalia to argue that Americans were weak and that muslims extremists could take us on successfully. Opponents of this Administration are seeking to prove bin Laden right. This is a nasty fire that the Democrats are stoking. As we see in today's Chicago Tribune, Democrats in the running for the IL US Senate nomination in 2004 are bidding up their anti-war credentials. If they keep it up, they are going to get someone killed.


13 July 2003
 
Steyn on Sodomy

Mark Steyn, fastly becoming my favorite columnist, addresses issue du jour -- same sex marriages.

First he addresses one of my lingering questions about gay marriages. Why?

"Alas, my own taste in gays is hopelessly old-fashioned. I've hung around the theater most of my adult life, and I love the likes of Cole Porter and the eccentric English composer and painter Lord Berners. These are the fellows who thought homosexuality was one of those things ''Too Good For The Average Man,'' in the words of Lorenz Hart's sly lyric--too special for the masses. These days, the gay movement insists it's as average as any man, if not more so. Watching the two chubby gays being wed by a gay vicar on the steps of the courthouse in Vancouver the other day, Cole Porter would have wondered what on earth was the point of being homosexual."

Next, Steyn addresses religous implications. The fastest growing religions in the world are also the most strict -- militant Islam, Evangelical Christians. The market place -- in this case the market for religion -- is making the decision on homosexuality despite the best intentions of our cultural arbiters:

"Those congregational attendance statistics tell their own story: Nobody needs a religion that licenses one's appetites. So thriving churches will increasingly exist in opposition to establishment culture. And thus the revolution comes full circle: gayness celebrated at the heart of society, and traditional Judeo-Christian morality relegated to the shadows, even though followers of the latter vastly outnumber those of the former."

I understand the gay community's desire to be accepted by mainstream society. I sympathize with it, in fact. It really isn't an important issue to me, but I do realize it is a very important issue to many. I believe, however, that ramming it down people's throats will lead to a backlash and further divide elites in our society from the masses. That's a very poor recipe.

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