A Tale of Two Rabbis

My friend David Blankenhorn has been exploring the role of doubt in civil society:

“I am not saying that persons who are rarely troubled by doubt aren’t civil, or can’t be civil. I know from personal experience that this isn’t true.  Nor I am saying that doubtful people are always civil; again, I know that this is not true,” Blankenhorn writes.

“But for the doubting person . . . civility is like oxygen.  It’s personally necessary.  Why?  Because without it, I can’t get what I need.”

What does the doubting person need? “The wisdom of the other. . . As a doubting person, civility is more than being nice.  Civility is part of what allows me to eat what I must eat and drink what I must drink.”

Blankenhorn seems to be preoccupied primarily by the lack of doubt shown by opponents of gay marriage, not the lack of doubt demonstrated by gay marriage supporters.  For years though, David has fought the tendency of his fellow liberals to dismiss and demean the insights of conservatives. For years, he successfully crafted a movement for marriage that set political ideology to one side and allowed good people to think new thoughts about marriage together.

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Farewell Optimism; Hello Hope

In Illinois, a dramatic story is unfolding: the supposedly slam dunk case for gay marriage in the lame duck suddenly stalled-out and failed. The state senate was supposed to be in session on Friday, passing gay marriage. Instead, the senate suddenly adjourned.

The sponsor of the gay marriage bill was still saying late on Thursday she hoped the Senate would reconvene and vote to pass gay marriage on Tuesday.  Perhaps.

But according to Fox News’s political editor Mike Flannery, Illinois Senate President John Cullerton’s spokesman said that even though Democrats control the Senate currently, and will increase their margin when the new Senate opens up on January 9 to 40 to 19, “without Republican votes, they’re unable to get gay marriage” passed.

Illinois Review asks “Is it possible that Downstate Democrats end up defeating the Chicago Liberals’ plans?”

I do not know what will happen in Illinois; deep in blue states dominated by one party, the Democrats, its going to be extraordinary if we can succeed in blocking gay marriage. Well, extraordinary things happen every day.

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A Christmas Message from Maggie Gallagher

“What’s your favorite Christmas song?”  my sister, who is not a Christian, asked me.

Christmas was always and extraordinarily joyous season in my home growing up, even after my mother left the Catholic faith and my father drifted in that direction.

I revel in all that some deride as excessively pagan trappings of the season: glittery Christmas wrapping paper, butter cookies, red-nosed reindeers, a riot of Christmas lights!

“But what does it all mean to you without Christ?” my high school boyfriend, a Baptist convert asked me back then and I spontaneously broke out into a chorus of “city sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style, in the air there’s a feeling of Christmas!”

I couldn’t understand my faithful boyfriend’s puzzlement, back in my atheist days. I only knew, then, that even people without an explicit faith can sense the sacred and rejoice in it.

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Hollywood Searches for God

Welcome back!

Since you and I last conversed, there’s been an election.

The Republicans, hungry as never before to defeat a mediocre president, failed to unseat him.

Four marriage amendments lost at the ballot for the first time.

People are flailing around angry, hurt, disappointed and yes, scared.

I fell silent because I feel strongly this is a time for thinking hard.

Watching GOP elites–including Ann Coulter bless her!–blame the GOP defeats on social issues is so sad and comically stupid that I have a hard time engaging in that debate.

Mitt Romney ran on economic issues.  He and his surrogate Karl Rove spent not a dime of the almost one billion dollars they spent on ads touting Romney’s socially conservative views on life or marriage.  Pres. Obama’s new assault on religious liberty went mostly unmentioned, for fear it would be turned into a debate on contraception.  The impending battle at the Supreme Court to constitutionalize gay marriage went unmentioned.  The fact that the Obama mandates will fund drugs that can cause abortions went unnoticed.

So in our two-party system, one party went all in on pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, pro-government mandates on religion.  The other party fell silent, in response, and tried to run on the promise that “economic competence”– limited government, lower spending, no new taxes— would restart the economy.

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Why I’m Voting For The Maryland DREAM Act

The latest polls in the conventional swing states show a close race, with neither Mitt Romney nor Barack Obama clearly ahead. Yet they also show a surprising number of formerly solid blue states now within Romney’s reach.

The rust belt is creakily swinging, according to new polls in Wisconsin, Michigan and even Pennsylvania, where a Franklin and Marshall poll released on Halloween has Obama up by just 4 points, within the margin of error, and under 50 percent.

But what surprised me the most are the new polls from Minnesota and Oregon (my home state).

Take Oregon first, which has not voted for a Republican candidate for president since Ronald Reagan’s landslide in 1984.

Two separate polls of likely voters released in late October show Obama at the 47 percent mark — with Romney at either 41 percent or 42 percent. Obama is under 50 percent and Romney is within or almost within the margin of error. And undecided voters break 2-1 for Romney when pushed.

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Letter to an Aging Conservative: Love, Death and Dinesh D’Souza

When the news broke that Dinesh D’Souza, the mastermind behind the hit movie “Obama: 2016”, would step down from the presidency of King’s College because he engaged himself to a young woman before legally filing for divorce from his wife of 20 years, I was more sad than angry.

I would not be writing to you about any of this except for the peculiar defense that Dinesh himself made of his own actions, and the light it sheds on the state of all our marriage vows, especially within Christian communities.

A little background:

Dinesh D’Souza graduated from Dartmouth the year after I graduated from Yale. I never knew him well, but all of us Yale conservatives were cheered by the upstart founders of the Dartmouth Review, who as a group have gone on to great prominence.

No media star flew higher than Dinesh’s (unless maybe it was his fellow Dartmouth Review alum Laura Ingraham).

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The Language of Stigma

This week I gave a talk at Morgan State University on gay marriage.

At the end of our panel, Kieffer Mitchell, a Maryland state legislator who voted for gay marriage, said he was grateful for the civility of the panel, that he knew good people who were on both sides of the issue, even people in his own family.

That’s one America. That’s the America both he and I want to live in.

But after the debate was over, an audience member was not satisfied with that ending. She stood up and pronounced an anathema on me.

A gay reporter who identified the woman as the Rev. Meredith Moise, co-chair of Baltimore Black Pride, caught her rebuke this way:

“As a student, a former student and alumni of this beloved university, having said this to this man (Mitchell), whose family shed blood and died for the rights of all people is anathema. And shame on you,” she said. “And for you to support it and propagate hate in the black community. Shame on you. No human being has the right to divide people of African blood on this issue. We will remain one people.”

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End of Men

Have we reached the end of men?

Hanna Rosin in her new book by that title wants both the right and the left to let go of the myth of female powerless.

To my surprise it’s a book very worth reading (you can buy it here).

To the right Rosin says surrender chivalry, let go your obsession with how the sexual revolution hurts women, and admit that there are no natural roles for men and women.

To the left she says: admit that women are powerful, not victims any longer.

In fact, she says we are on the verge she says of a  new matriarchy, as a global economy sheds manufacturing jobs, women in control their sexuality and fertility, now  take advantage of new educational opportunities that lead to the service and government jobs dominating the new economy.

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The Romney Fumbles

Let me begin with a prediction: Mitt Romney will be the next president of the United States.

Why? Because I cannot believe the people of the United States will re-elect a sitting president who has spent so much of their money to achieve so little visible result.

But polls are showing it’s close, very close, and that Romney starts the fourth quarter slightly behind or dead even with a failed president.

The conventional wisdom is that social issues are the problem for the GOP coalition.

Ann Romney, bless her loyal wifely heart, became a living example of this convention when she was asked by a Davenport Iowa TV station if she supports gay marriage.

She said, “I’m not going to talk about the specific issues.  I’m going to let my husband speak on issues.I’m here to really just talk about my husband and what kind of husband and father he is.”

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Porn and the Yale Professor

My first honest reaction to the new memoir by recent Yale graduate Nathan Harden was shock.

Not shock at the sexual shenanigans he relates in Sex and God at Yale, but shock that America is still so good a country that it can produce brilliant young men innocent enough to be capable of shock when exposed to a systematically degraded sexual culture.

Honestly, at first glance, Yale’s sexual culture as described by Harden is not that different than it was over 30 years ago, when I was an undergraduate: Co-ed bathrooms, one-night stands, not even the remotest hint of advice on where all this urgent young desire is supposed  to lead, not one hint from the highly educated grownups that civilization knows anything about how to choose a sexual self, no rules but the one law of consent, no hint of an erotic ideal capable of inspiring a great culture.

Oh, yes we were told to wear a condom if you don’t want to get diseased or pregnant. But should you want to get pregnant or not?  Even on that question Yale, which represented the most advanced intellect our civilization has to offer, appeared to have no clue.

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