Archive for November 13th, 2008

November 13, 2008

Republican child, liberal school

“Inclusion”? Heh:

Catherine Vogt, 14, is an Illinois 8th grader, the daughter of a liberal mom and a conservative dad. She wanted to conduct an experiment in political tolerance and diversity of opinion at her school in the liberal suburb of Oak Park.
She noticed that fellow students at Gwendolyn Brooks Middle School overwhelmingly supported Barack Obama for president. His campaign kept preaching “inclusion,” and she decided to see how included she could be.
So just before the election, Catherine consulted with her history teacher, then bravely wore a unique T-shirt to school and recorded the comments of teachers and students in her journal. The T-shirt bore the simple yet quite subversive words drawn with a red marker:
“McCain Girl.”

Want to guess the result? One classmate suggested “she be ‘burned with her shirt on’ for ‘being a filthy-rich Republican.’ ” Irony? Median household income in Oak Park is nearly $60,000 and the median home value is more than $230,000, according to the Census Bureau.

Another excellent argument for home-schooling.

November 13, 2008

Is Newt right?

Newt Gingrich:

“The Republican Party right now is like a midsize college team trying to play in the Superbowl. . . . It is pretty hard to say our losses were because of John McCain’s campaign. McCain performed way above plausibility compared to where the Republican president was in the polls. We have to look honestly at what went wrong.”
Gingrich . . . said his main concern was the rise of what he called the “modern left,” which just a few years ago was thought to be moribund in this country but now looks alive and kicking.Gingrich said the fundraising capacity of the left in the last election proved astonishing and far outstripped what Republicans were able to gather. “The modern left has gotten that large,” Gingrich said.

I think Newt is conflating separate phenomena. The Left is currently more organized, more energized and more active than the Right, but this is the fruit of eight years of Bushism. The conservative base is still out there, but Democrats have fed on the profound public loathing of Bush — the worst U.S. president since Nixon — to leverage an anti-GOP trend.

November 13, 2008

Random adults, again

How many times do I have to repeat this? Surveys of “random adults” on political topics are meaningless and misleading.

November 13, 2008

‘Patently unnatural’

In an earlier thread, I talked about how the tendency to delay marriage — part of a materialist/careerist culture I call “middle-classness” — undermines “family values.” A commenter directed me to an article in which Rebecca Teti addresses the same subject, repeating a reader’s observation:

The average first marriage now involves a 25-year-old bride and a 27-year-old groom. As an old natural-childbirth instructor, I’m intrigued by how patently unnatural that is. God designed our bodies to desire to mate much earlier, and through most of history, cultures have accommodated that desire by enabling people to wed by their late teens or early twenties.

Middle-classness effectively requires that marriage be delayed past the prime childbearing years. Demographers will tell you that, worldwide, peak fertility for women is 16 to 24. And during the Baby Boom, this was true for American women. Using the Census Bureau’s International Database to find age-specific fertility, we see that in 1960 — just past the 1957 peak of the Baby Boom — the numbers (expressed as births per 1,000 women in each age group) looked like this:

Age 15-19: 89.1
Age 20-24: 258.1
Age 25-29: 197.4
Age 30-34: 112.7
Age 35-39: 56.2
Age 40-44: 15.5
Age 45-49: 0.9
Total fertility rate (TFR): 3.6495

TFR is the average number of lifetime births per woman at the current rate. In 1960, the typical American woman would bear 47% of her children before reaching age 25. Now, compare this to the numbers for 1980 and 2000:

Age 15-19: 54.1
Age 20-24: 115.1
Age 25-29: 112.9
Age 30-34: 61.9
Age 35-39: 19.8
Age 40-44: 3.9
Age 45-49: 0.2
Total fertility rate (TFR): 1.8395

Age 15-19: 57.3
Age 20-24: 112.1
Age 25-29: 112.6
Age 30-34: 85.2
Age 35-39: 35.9
Age 40-44: 7.1
Age 45-49: 0.3
Total fertility rate (TFR): 2.0583

So, we see that in 20 years after 1960, TFR declined 49.5%. Over the next 20 year, it increased by 11.9% (mainly due to the addition of Hispanic immigrants, who have much higher fertility rates than non-Hispanics).

If we compare 1960 and 2000, what really stands out is the dramatic decrease in childbearing by women under 25. Birth rates for those 15-19 declined by 36%, while births for those 20-24 declined by 57%.

There is a common myth that goes something like this: “Well, OK, so we’re putting off parenthood a few years. So what? We’ll make up for it later.” In terms of overall fertility, however, the numbers answer: “Oh, no you won’t.”

As demographers say, “Fertility delayed is fertility denied,” and you see that, comparing 1960 and 2000, fertility declines in every age bracket — down 24% among women 30-34 and down 36% among women 35-39, for example. Even a woman’s chance of giving birth to a “miracle baby” past age 40 was higher in 1960 than it is now, despite all the scientific advances in fertility treatments. And despite the sharp decline in birth rates for those under age 25, births to women ages 15-24 still account for 41% of total fertility.

This is the cruel arithmetic of the culture of death — otherwise known as middle-classness.

November 13, 2008

Transgender 8th-graders?

Rocky Horror Middle School:

In sixth grade, the school counselor called Michelle to tell her that the other kids were teasing M.J. and that it was only getting worse. “They were concerned because she was being open about who she was. The way she acted, the way she dressed,” Michelle explains. That’s when she knew that it wasn’t a phase, and it wasn’t a “problem.” This was who M.J. was.
In Loveland, Colorado — population 61,000, 92 percent white and heavily evangelical Christian — Michelle didn’t know what to expect when she began to work with the school to facilitate her daughter’s transition from a boy to a girl. At first, it was difficult. The school “freaked out when I told them,” Michelle says. “When we started with M.J.’s transition, I was envisioning riots.” And so Michelle became an advocate for transgender people — those who identify as a gender different from the one assigned at birth. Michelle organized trainings for the faculty and staff and prepared “cheat sheets” in case any of their students asked prying questions.
But on the first day of school, nothing happened. No flood of calls, no angry protests, and no bullying. Michelle was “happy and shocked” that M.J.’s classmates seemed to get it.

Reason No. 784,263 to Home School!

I understand Lou Reed’s going to re-make one of his old classics: “Take a Walk on the Child Side.” (Ba-da-boom!)
Teachers first began to suspect there might be a problem in fifth grade, when the boy’s talent-show performance was lip-syncing to a Judy Garland record. (Ba-da-boom!)
The other parents got suspicious when he brought “Hello Kitty” pajamas to the sleepover. (Ba-da-boom!)
While other kids carried their books to school in a backpack, he took his in a Gucci bag. (Ba-da-boom!)
When the Cub Scouts went on a hike, he was the only boy complaining, “These heels are killing me!” (Ba-da-boom!)
November 13, 2008

Bill Ayers coming to DC

No, not to work in the Obama administration, but to hustle books at Georgetown Law School (an event sponsored by the old commie front group National Lawyers Guild). Hat tip to Michelle Malkin.

November 13, 2008

Ted Nugent on a rampage

He’s got you a stranglehold, baby:

Conservative leaders and thinkers such as Newt Gingrich, Jed Babbin, Governor Jindal of Louisiana, Thomas Sowell, Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin, Governor Sarah Palin and others need to turn up the heat and bring this less government, more individual freedom and strong national defense revolution to a boil. It is time.
My specialty is making Fedzilla punks squirm and turn into a puddle of sweat and drool. Therefore, in the spirit of famous butt kickers Generals Chesty Puller and George Patton, I say we launch an attack on all fronts. Uncle Ted hereby declares it is open season on RINOs. No bag limits or permits required. Conservative ideas, arguments and votes are the weapons we will use. Hunt them down and shine a blazing light on these RINO turncoat cockroaches. Zero in the “we the people” crosshairs of your voting assault weapon and aim for the RINO pumpstation. Double tap center mass. Whack em and stack em, track em and hack em, pack em and give em no slack. Let’s do to the RINO beasts what we did to the passenger pigeon.

Pssst, Ted: Ever hear of a guy named David Brooks?

(Cross-posted at AmSpecBlog.)

November 13, 2008

What are we conserving?

Pete Vere, co-author of The Tyranny of Nice, discusses the conservative project:

Looking back at the debate that arose from America Alone, [Mark] Steyn presents two ideas in his book. The first is that western civilization is collapsing from a plummeting birth rate. The second is that radical Islam has moved in fill the void.
The ensuing debate has focused on Steyn’s second point, to the detriment of the first. Everyone is talking about the danger to western civilization posed by radical Islam. Yet we’ve forgotten about the danger we pose to ourselves. The plummeting birth rate – and the near extinction of the natural family unit – is by far the greater threat. What’s the use of fending off the terrorists of today, when we’re allowing ourselves to degenerate into the barbarians of tomorrow. Will there still be a western civilization to defend tomorrow? . . .

(Read the whole thing.) Again, here is the interesting use of “we.” As a father of six, I can hardly be implicated in the collapse of the birth rate. Pete is a Canadian Catholic layman and, as he is surely aware, Catholic teaching about the family is widely ignored by nominal Catholics, so that there is today relatively little difference between the Catholic and Protestant birth rates. Catholic teaching forbids divorce, and young Catholics are avoiding divorce . . . by avoiding marriage. They are not, however, avoiding sex, and pre-marital fornication is commonplace.

Of course, we Protestants have nothing to boast about in this regard. Even among “conservative” evangelicals, pre-marital fornication seems to be winked at nowadays. The fiery young evangelist Joshua Harris has talked about how the “dating” mentality often turns church youth groups into sort of teenage singles meetups, so that you need a scorecard to keep track of who’s cheating on whom, who’s broken up, etc.

Many factors contribute to this phenomenon, but one especially deserves condemnation: “Christian” parents who discourage their children from marrying. I Timothy 4:

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
Forbidding to marry . . .

The appearance of this shameful and sinful — indeed, one might say, satanic — prejudice against marriage in “Christian” culture has gone almost unnoticed. There are many Christian parents who, if their daughter came home from college and announced she was a lesbian, would be “understanding.” But if their daughter came and announced she was going to drop out of college and get married . . . oh, the horror! The disgrace!

Too many Christian parents have succumbed to the prejudice of middle-classness: The belief that the object of life is to be middle class, and that the life that is not middle class is not worth living. Middle-class people have college degrees, they have careers, they work in offices, they raise their children in single-family homes on suburban cul-de-sacs, where everyone over age 16 has his or her own late-model automobile.

This kind of middle-classness is economically incompatible with marrying young and having lots of babies, and so middle-class parents discourage their children from even thinking about marriage before they’ve graduated college and established careers with 401(k)s and full health benefits, etc. Such is the zealousness with which this attitude is inculcated that, if you talk to college kids today, it is hard to avoid the impression that they believe it is illegal to get married before receiving a bachelor’s degree.

I used to participate in a Christian courtship discussion board where there would frequently be questions from kids who would begin by saying, “I’m a sophomore in college and I’m wondering what to do about this problem with a girl I’m interested in . . . .” And my response would often be to say, “Well, why don’t you get married?” To which the reply was always, “We aren’t ready” or “We can’t afford to get married.”

We can’t afford to get married. Think about that sentence. What does it cost to get married? My wife and I got married at the county courthouse. The blood test and the license were the only costs. But once people are infected with the prejudice of middle-classness, they believe they can’t get married unless they have a wedding that would make Princess Di envious.

I’ve got a 19-year-old daughter, and if she flew off to Vegas next week for a wedding at the Elvis Chapel, I’d be a happy father. If she and Romeo then set up housekeeping in a tiny basement apartment somewhere, struggling to pay the bills while they finished school, OK — what’s wrong with a little hardship? And if she then got pregnant, and Romeo had to quit school and join the Marines — well, just call me “Grandpa”!

This trend of delaying marriage and childbearing helps undermine the bond between generations. Which grandmother can be more involved with her grandkids, the 45-year-old or the 65-year-old? But if motherhood is delayed until age 32, grannies will more generally be feeble than vigorous.

While I very much encourage ambitions of upward mobility, these ambitions ought not become temptations to sin, which is what happens when middle-class prejudice causes people to imagine that the only life worth living involves that big house on the suburban cul-de-sac with 1.7 children. Must everyone live like that?

Studies show that the average American kid today becomes sexually active at age 17, while the median age at first marriage is now 26. This is what I call the “fornication gap.” And if Christians wish to close the gap, abstinence education can’t be the only answer. If you’re going to tell teenagers to save sex for marriage, don’t you think that marriage should at least seem like a possibility? To a 15-year-old, age 26 seems like a million years in the future — one of those science-fiction years, like when we were kids and watched space shows set in some impossibly far-off date: “Space, 2012!”

Evangelical Christians often talk about “stepping out on faith,” but when it comes to their children’s lives, many of them want everything planned as a can’t-miss secular proposition. The end result is that parents end up being the worst enemies of the marriage culture.