On Privatizing Marriage

Marriage is society’s primary institutional arrangement that defines parenthood.
–Jennifer Roback Morse

The idea of marriage privatization is picking up steam. And it makes strange bedfellows.

There are old-school gay activists suspicious that state marriage is a way for politicians to socially engineer the family through the tax code. There are religious conservatives who are upset that a state institution seems to violate their sacred values. Don’t forget the libertarians for whom “privatize it” is more a reflex than a product of reflection.

But they all agree: it would be a good idea to get the government out of the marriage business. Principle, it turns out, is pragmatic.

First, let’s disentangle two meanings for one word that easily get confused. When we say “marriage,” we might be referring to:

A. a commitment a couple enters into as a rite or acknowledgment within a religious institution or community group (private); or

B. a legal relationship that two people enter into, which the state currently licenses (public).

Now, the questions that follow are: Does the government need to be involved in A? The near-universal answer in the United States is no. But does the government need to be as involved as it is in B? Here’s where the debate gets going.

I think the government can and should get out of B, and everyone will be better for it. This is what I mean by marriage privatization.

Some argue that marriage is “irreducibly public.” For Jennifer Roback Morse, it has to do with the fate of children and families. For Shikha Dalmia, it has to do with the specter of increased government involvement, a reinflamed culture war, an…


Franklin Graham jumps into ban on ‘How Great Thou Art’


Franklin Graham, the president and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, is warning Christians they must stand up for their beliefs or their religious freedoms will be lost.

He was commenting on Facebook about a Mississippi high-school band that was barred from performing the traditional hymn “How Great Thou Art” in their halftime show Friday night.

The hymn was regularly sung by George Beverly Shea at the opening of Billy Graham’s evangelistic events for nearly six decades.

“If ‘How Great Thou Art’ is banned, does that mean ‘God bless America’ is off limits as well? And probably Lee Greenwood’s … ‘God Bless the USA’ too?” Graham wrote. “I guess any other name except our Lord’s would be acceptable in a song for the band!”

He continued: “What are we allowing to happen here? We’re going to have to stand up for the faith or we’re going to lose every freedom we have as Christians. Remember, it begins with just one person, but it takes all of us – praying, living out our faith, and standing firm.”

The Rankin County School District told the Brandon High School band it could not perform the hymn due to an order by U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves prohibiting “prayer, religious sermons or activities in any school sponsored event,” Fox News reported. Reeves ruled in July that the district violated a 2013 agreement in a case brought by a student who complained of Christian meetings on campus. The judge ordered the district to pay $7,500 in fines in July for allowing a Christian minister to pray at an awards ceremony.

School Board President Ann Sturdivant told the Clarion Ledger newspaper in Jackson, Mississippi, that because of the court order, the board “had no choice” but to bar performance of the hymn.

“Forged in Faith: How Faith Shaped the Birth of the Nation 1607-1776″ documents America’s Judeo-Christian foundation

Reeves wrote in his order that schools “owe a duty to all students to refrain from conduct which gives the appearance of advocating a particular religion.”

“In fairness to and protection of all, they must remain neutral. This same duty is owed to the parents who submit their children to the protection of educators, entrusting that they will sharpen their academic minds.”

The judge, whose decision was posted online by the American Humanist Association, said there were even more allegations. The school also allowed the Gideons to hand out Bibles to students.

The American Humanist Association represented the student who objected to the prayer by Rev. Rob Gill, a pastor of a local Methodist church.

The judge also threatened to fine the school $10,000 should there be another occurrence.

Consequently, the band director informed students they would not be able to perform the halftime show after months of preparation.

“When I picked the halftime show in late February of last year it was with full administrative support, but the Rankin County School Board has decided that we are not allowed to perform the half time show due to recent court rulings,” the email from band director Tim Cable said.

Friday night, however, the community sent a message to the judge, as Fox News commentator Todd Starnes reported.

“During halftime of Friday night’s game – a lone voice began to sing the forbidden song,” he wrote.

“Then sings my soul, my Savior God to Thee,’ the singer sang.

Graham picked up the story.

“It began with just one person. After Brandon High School’s band was unbelievably banned from performing ‘How Great Thou Art’ at half-time during Friday night’s season opening football game, some in the crowd decided they weren’t going to just sit by and take it. There was a hum, and then one person stood and began singing. Then one by one, hundreds of people stood up in the stadium and together they sang the ‘forbidden’ song – ‘How Great Thou Art.’ Good for them!”

Starnes said it was clear the people thought “a message had to be sent to the likes of Judge Reeves.”

Brittany Mann told Starnes she witnessed the moment of defiance.

“We were just sitting there and then one by one people started to stand,” she said. “At first, it started out as a hum but the sound got louder and louder.”

Man described it as a “truly incredible” moment to watch hundreds of people singing together in the stadium.

“At that moment I was so proud of my town – coming together and taking a stand for something we believe in,” she said. “It breaks my heart to see where our country is going — getting farther and farther away from the Christian beliefs that our country was founded on.”

Starnes commented: “Oh what a sight it must have been – as hundreds and hundreds of people stood together and with one voice – sent a message to Judge Reeves.

He said the “time has come to put an end to their cultural jihad.”

“I hope the Rankin County School Board will reconsider its decision and allow the marching band to resume performing ‘How Great Thou Art,’” he said.

“And should Judge Reeves make good on his threat to financially punish the school district, I will personally pay the $10,000 fine.”


The War over Hayek’s Intellectual Legacy: A Response to John Gray

According to British philosopher John Gray, economist F.A. Hayek failed to grasp the fundamental inefficiency of capitalism, held to an ahistorical theory of business cycles, misunderstood the Great Depression, and offered policy recommendations that would have been disastrous had any government listened.

Gray offers these critiques in the July 30 issue of New Statesman, in an article on the life, intellectual achievements, and mistakes of the renowned Austrian economist and Nobel laureate. Gray even claims that Hayek’s greatest intellectual rival, John Maynard Keynes, was the better economist of the two.

Gray’s analysis is full of problems.

Hayek on the Impossibility of Central Planning

Gray begins by writing that while Hayek was right in his critical analysis of socialism and central planning, he failed to realize that the same criticisms apply to the market economy.

According to Hayek, central planning is doomed to fail because of the natural limits of human knowledge. For him, the main function of the market system is to provide a method for the fast and efficient transmission of information between individuals, which facilitates economic cooperation. This is possible thanks to the free and unrestricted interaction between supply and demand that forms market prices. The variations in their values immediately signal to entrepreneurs which goods or services and production processes are likely to be more profitable investments. (Hayek elaborates these ideas in his famous essays “Economics and Knowledge” and “The Use of Knowledge in Society.”)

Hayek’s criticism of socialism is based on this theory of the market as a system for the transfe…


Russian media: U.S. ‘economic apocalypse’ in September



Friday’s American stock market provided further evidence of instability in the nation’s economy, and even as financiers fear a possible fiscal disaster in September, there has been little coverage among U.S. media.

But the state-run media of Russia is warning of what it calls America’s “economic apocalypse.”

The Russian news service Sputnik, an agency launched by Russia’s state-owned Rossiya Segodnya in 2014 to “target global audiences with its non-mainstream take on world events,” predicts doom for the American economy next month.

In a recent article, Sputnik cites several economists warning of catastrophe.

It continues: “Most of the experts agree that all the optimistic data like record earnings on Wall Street and a surging dollar is just disguising fundamental cracks, and the collapse of historic proportions will happen within few months, starting in the U.S.

“No wonder such forecasts, and there are dozens, from professional economists leave U.S. and the world dizzy and shivering in fear and helplessness, just what one would probably feel if the actual apocalypse was coming.”

September 2015 has become the focal point of warnings and speculation because of a strange confluence of events.

These include:

  • The seven-year, biblical Shemitah cycle ends Sept. 13
  • The European Organization for Nuclear Research begins a controversial experiment
  • Pope Francis arrives at the White House on Sept. 23 and will make an unprecedented address to a joint session of Congress the next day
  • The fourth and last “blood moon” in the tetrad occurs on Sept. 28, on the biblical Feast of Tabernacles

With temporal, spiritual and economic events lining up for next month, some pastors are urging Christians to be prepared, warning they cannot rely on most American media outlets to report the truth.

Carl Gallups, a pastor, former law enforcement officer and author of the upcoming book “Be Thou Prepared,” observes: “With the onslaught of predicted ominous events scheduled to occur in or around September of this year, as well as the actual scheduled events possessing possible prophetic overtones, a lot of people certainly are tuned in to the end of this year with a laser focus. Sadly, it sometimes seems the Russian media is more reliable and eclectic in its reporting than is the American media. Given the fact that the United States media often seems loathe to report on anything biblical or Christian in nature, unless it is excoriating or marginalizing them, this should not surprise us.”

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Gallups says the Russian media’s focus on September may reflect a political and even religious agenda. After all, he notes, “Russia and Putin have made a big deal lately about the infusion of ‘Christian influence’ in Putin’s ‘new’ Russian culture.

“As to the reliability of Russia’s speculation that something catastrophic is going to happen in America this fall, and particularly this September, I suppose their conjectures are [as] good as any. I doubt that they have any special prophetic insight into these matters. Unless they have some sort of covert plans to attempt to be a part of a ‘self-fulfilling prophecy.’ I certainly would not put that past them at all.”

Pastor Mark Biltz of El Shaddai Ministries, the discoverer of the “blood moons” phenomenon and the author of “Blood Moons: Decoding the Imminent Heavenly Signs,” lambastes the American press for ignoring what he believes are critically important developments.

“In reading these articles, I find the common denominator to all of them is that the American media is clueless,” he told WND.

Biltz says Christians should be especially watchful after Sept. 14, which he says begins a new biblical seven-year cycle.

“According to biblical history, the seven year cycle of plenty followed by a seven year cycle of famine began on Rosh Hashanah or the Feast of Trumpets. If we have a financial catastrophe this fall, it could well be that we have entered into one of the most significant biblical seven year cycles of human history.”

Biltz believes one of the most significant signs “this could be the beginning of the last week of Daniel’s prophesied 70th week,” is a report the United Nations will impose a Palestinian state in September. Following the agreement with Iran, France has begun pressuring the United States to reverse its previous opposition to a resolution in the United Nations Security Council establishing a Palestinian state.

When would the resolution be brought before the entire United Nations? The most likely scenario is after the beginning of the next session of the United Nations General Assembly – which begins on Sept. 15, during Rosh Hashanah. What’s more, the upcoming session of the U.N. General Assembly will be the 70th session in the organization’s history.

Biltz argues: “Right now, France is working on a proposed resolution which would give formal U.N. Security Council recognition to the Palestinians, would declare that a divided Jerusalem is the capital of both Israel and a Palestinian state, and would set the 1967 borders as the baseline for future negotiations which would establish the final borders between the two nations.

“If the U.N. pushes this peace agreement recognizing a Palestinian State on Rosh Hashanah in particular, then woe to those nations who have signed on. As it declares in the book of Joel 3:2, ‘I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land.’”

Biltz urges Americans to especially be vigilant during the crucial time of September 2015.

“We need to be watchman that are aware of the signs of the times. This has the potential to be one of the most auspicious signs yet!”

Gallups also thinks Christians should be especially watchful at this time.

“When we see the convergence of prophetic signs around us – those in the near future and those that have already taken place, I don’t see how a legitimate student of the Word of God can deny the uniquely prophetic times in which we are living. The Middle East is aflame with terrorism, most of it directed squarely upon the church and Israel – undeniably two of God’s primary witnesses to the end times’ world.

“When you add to this mix the fact that the biblically prophesied last days’ Israel is back in the land and now is in possession of Jerusalem and surrounded by vicious enemies on every side, daily breathing out destructive threats against her, how can one miss the signs of the times?”

Gallups believes Biltz is right to ascribe significance to the confluence of events in September surrounding the final “blood moon” of the tetrad.

“On top of everything else, we also have the undeniable convergence of the blood moon cycle and the Shemitah year – both of which culminate in September. It remains to see whether those occurrences are harbingers of prophetic things to come – but we shall soon know.”

Gallups urges Christians to be cautious and prepare themselves for any occurrence, rather than expecting one specific event.

“I admit that there are many amazing things happening in the world around us, many of which are converging this fall, I also acknowledge that ultimately the Lord is on His throne – Jesus Christ is still in charge – ‘In Him all things hold together.’ This is the balance I keep … be prepared always. There is a biblically balanced and spiritually mature manner in which we must live in the midst of these prophetic days.”

Author and Bible teacher Jonathan Cahn in the message posted to YouTube is calling for a period of national prayer and repentance leading up to the pivotal month of September.

He also issued a new warning about a “desecration” that often precedes judgment and is already present in American society. He calls for Christians to prepare for persecution and get ready to stand for God in a coming period of strife that will increasingly be devoid of “gray areas” or middle ground.

In the video, he says his main theme continues to be that of judgment visiting America. This will bring a “shaking” in the financial and economic realms. These tremors may spread beyond the economic realm.

The harbingers of coming judgment that Cahn first wrote about in 2012 in his New York Times-best-seller, “The Harbinger,” have continued long past the writing of that story, he said. The Tree of Hope, a spruce or cedar that in the Bible symbolizes a nation’s strength, was planted at Ground Zero in New York following 9/11 but it withered and died. It was finally uprooted on Passover 2014.

The new office tower built to replace the Twin Towers opened earlier this year only to have the first tenants overrun by an infestation of vermin.

But one of the most critical harbingers for America is its relationship with Israel, Cahn said.

“The relations between America and Israel are at its worst. This is a dangerous sign for America. America is now pressing for a deal that Israel says will put Israel in danger. That is also ominous,” Cahn said. “All these things: Israel, the harbingers, the apostasy, the Shemitah, all these things are converging, and we need to take heed now.”

Jonathan Cahn’s clarion call to repent and return to God is well known, but what about the man himself? Where did he come from and how did he rise from obscurity to a Christian voice heard by millions? WND has produced a new documentary film, “The Harbinger Man,” that answers these questions and more. Pre-order your copy now.

He said he gave dates in his book, “The Mystery of the Shemitah” to show that God often works, especially in economic matters, according to the seven-year cycle given to Moses as Mount Sinai and recorded in Deuteronomy.

While this is something “to be aware of the signs of the times,” the bigger issue for America is that judgment is imminent. The U.S. clearly “crossed a line,” he said, with the Supreme Court decisions on abortion, removing prayer from schools and most recently in its arrogant redefinition of the God-given covenant of marriage.

“The first caution is, God doesn’t have to do anything. He is sovereign. He doesn’t have to work according to our understanding, He is beyond our understanding. Nothing has to happen in September or the autumn. It could be very uneventful,” Cahn said. “And if nothing happens, well then, what will we do? We will praise God, we will be bold for the Lord, we will spread the gospel, we will stand as witnesses for God and we will glorify His name.”

See Jonathan Cahn’s collection of wildly popular books and films in the WND Superstore!

Watch Jonathan Cahn’s 18-minute YouTube message in its entirety below:



Chinese birth tourism in U.S. strong

(Rolling Stone) Peter and Ellie Yang, by all outward appearances, are living the Beijing dream. They have a condo in an up-and-coming area, a white Honda that Peter keeps immaculate and a rambunctious one-year-old son, Xiongxiong. They wear brand-name jeans and own separate iPhone 6s. On holidays, they go to Sanya — “China’s Hawaii” — as well as Hong Kong and Japan. On weekends, they eat out and take hikes in the Fragrant Hills outside Beijing. It’s enough to make them the envy of many. But when Ellie found out she was pregnant in 2014, Peter said he wanted to have their second child in America. “It’s for him to get a good education,” Peter says. “But it’s also for us — to find business opportunities and to make friends. Chinese who do this tend to be well-connected.”

Peter began researching maternity hotels that operate within the underground birth tourism industry. He chatted with sales agents and scanned large photos on forums like LA Fat Dad, USA Baby DIY and America Baby Home. One option was staying in a single-family home, rented solely to birth tourists, but moving into a close-knit residential community as part of a rotating cast of pregnant Chinese felt risky. Renting an apartment in San Francisco, as some of their friends had done, was less expensive and lower profile, but Peter didn’t know anyone there. At last he and Ellie agreed on a “middle of the road” option — a 16-room hotel in suburban Los Angeles for $20,000.


Sheriff: Drug cartels control U.S. soil near Phoenix

(BREITBART) Thursday on Fox News Channel’s “Your World With Neil Cavuto,” Pinal Co., AZ Sheriff Paul Babeu said drug cartels armed with AK-47’s “control many areas on American soil” noting that they are only 30 miles from Phoenix.

Babeu detailed touring the border yesterday with Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson and said, “We flew him in our helicopter, showed him the drug smuggling routes, the actual caves—these cartel scouts live on top of mountains, 30 days at a time. And how on mountain top to mountain top, over a 50-mile swath of land, and this is only 30 miles from Phoenix.”

He continued, “This is literally an unsecured border. We have cartels that think they own the place. They control many areas on American soil and this how they freely move billions of dollars of drugs and hundreds of thousands of illegals into our country.”


“Hitler Didn’t Snub Me — It Was Our President”

Each week, Mr. Reed will relate the stories of people whose choices and actions make them heroes. See the table of contents for previous installments.

James Cleveland “Jesse” Owens famously won four gold medals, all at the 1936 games in Berlin, Germany. But in the hearts of Americans who know their Olympic history, this African American man did more than win races: he struggled against racism.

At the time of Owens’s death in 1980 at age 66, President Jimmy Carter paid this tribute to him:

Perhaps no athlete better symbolized the human struggle against tyranny, poverty, and racial bigotry. His personal triumphs as a world-class athlete and record holder were the prelude to a career devoted to helping others. His work with young athletes, as an unofficial ambassador overseas, and a spokesman for freedom are a rich legacy to his fellow Americans.

Carter’s words were especially fitting in light of an unfortunate fact in Owens’s life: unforgivably, a previous American president had given him the brush-off.

Born in Alabama in 1913, James Owens at the age of nine moved with his family to the town in Ohio that bore his middle name, Cleveland. His first school teacher there asked him his name. With a deep Southern twang, he replied “J.C. Owens.” She heard “Jesse,” so that’s what she wrote down. The name stuck for the next 57 years.

Jesse could run like the wind and jump like a kangaroo. He broke junior high school records in the high jump and the broad jump. In high school, he won every major track event in which he competed, tying or breaking world records in the 100-yard and 220-yard dashes and setting a new world record in the broad jump. Universities showered him with scholarship offers, but he turned them all down and chose Ohio State, which wasn’t extending track scholarships at the time.

Imagine it. You come from…


Coulter jabs Bill O’Reilly: ‘Good God, he’s stupid’



Call it a looming clash of the titans, but conservative author, attorney and all-around firebrand Ann Coulter hit back hard at Bill O’Reilly’s characterization of the 14th Amendment, calling out “The O’Reilly Factor” Fox News star as “stupid” in a couple of tweets that followed his interview with Donald Trump.

Trump, in an interview with O’Reilly, insisted his platform of dumping the “anchor baby” provision from U.S. immigration policy would in fact prove both legal and viable. “Anchor baby” is a term used to describe the children of people who enter the country illegally with the purpose of having a son or daughter who would then be granted American citizenship.

O’Reilly, however, cited the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and said otherwise.

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“That’s not going to happen because the 14th Amendment says if you’re born here, you’re an American,” O’Reilly said. “And you can’t kick Americans out. The courts would block you at every turn. You must know all that.”

Trump, citing his legal team, said simply: I think I can.

“I think you’re wrong about the 14th Amendment,” Trump said. “And frankly, the whole thing with ‘anchor babies’ and the concept of ‘anchor babies,’ I don’t think you’re right about that.”

But O’Reilly was vehement, ultimately claiming: “I can quote it. You want me to quote you the amendment? If you’re born here, you’re an American. Period. Period.”

The Fox host later added: “You are not going to be able to deport people who have American citizenship now. And the federal courts will never allow mass deportations without due process for each and every one. And do you envision federal police kicking in the doors in barrios around the country, dragging families out?”

But Trump held his ground on the citizenship issue.

“Bill, I don’t think that they have American citizenship,” he said. “And if you speak to some very, very good lawyers — and I know some would disagree, but many of them agree with me — you’re going to find they do not have American citizenship. We have to start a process where we take back our country. Our country is going to hell.”

That’s where Coulter kicked in.

In a tweet picked up by Mediaite, she wrote: “Just got off a plane and my email feed is exploding with denunciations of Bill O’Reilly for interview w/ @realDonaldTrump on ‘THE FACTOR.’”

She then followed with this Twitter message: “Sorry for delay. O’Reilly: ‘YOU WANT ME TO QUOTE YOU THE AMT? IF YOU’RE BORN HERE YOU’RE AN AMERICAN. PERIOD! PERIOD!’ #GoodGodHesStupid.”



Coulter followed with a scathing opinion piece posted at WND that pointed to the false narrative that’s been making the media waves, including at Fox News, about the history and intent of the 14th Amendment. In it, she cites her own research on Supreme Court precedence, cited in her recently released “Adios, America” book and concludes: “Our history and our Constitution are being perverted for the sole purpose of dumping immigrants on the country to take American jobs. So far, only Donald Trump is defending black history on the issue of the 14th Amendment. Fox News is using black people as a false flag to keep cheap Third World labor flowing.”




Will Robots Put Everyone Out of Work?

Will workplace automation make the rich richer and doom the poor?

That could happen soon, warns Paul Solman, economics correspondent for PBS NewsHour. He’s talking to Jerry Kaplan, author of a new book that seems to combine Luddism with fears about inequality.

PAUL SOLMAN: And the age-old fear of displaced workers, says Kaplan, is finally, irrevocably upon us.

JERRY KAPLAN: What happens to people who simply can’t acquire or don’t have the skills that are going to be needed in the new economy?

PAUL SOLMAN: Well, what is going to happen to them?

JERRY KAPLAN: We’re going to see much worse income inequality. And unless we take some humanitarian actions, the truth is, they’re going to starve and live in poverty and then die.

PAUL SOLMAN: Kaplan offers that grim prognosis in a new book, Humans Need Not Apply. He knows, of course, that automation has been replacing labor for 200 years or more, for decades, eliminating relatively high-paying factory jobs in America, and that new jobs have more than kept pace, but not anymore, he says.

I haven’t read Kaplan’s book, but you can get a sense of the issue from this video.


The  fear is that, unlike the past when displaced workers could learn new skills for a different industry, advanced “thinking machines” will soon fill even highly skilled positions, making it that much harder to find a job that pays a decent wage. And while the Luddite argument assumes that the number of jobs in an economy is fixed, the fear now is that whatever jobs may be created will simply be filled by even smarter machines.

This new spin sounds different, but it’s essentially the same old Lu…


Is the Car a Menace or a Miracle?

The “automobile” moves itself, but it also moves us. Our cars carry us along the road of human progress not just by making us freer but by making us cleaner, healthier, and better fed.

Does such a claim strike you as strange?

In our own time, cars are seen as causing pollution, as well as making us lazy and fat. Consider how many of us drive our cars to the gym, where we exercise by walking or running, two activities often replaced by driving. But if you think about what the car replaced, it’s easy to see how the car is another example of what Don Boudreaux calls being “cleaned by capitalism.”


How has the car, which is so vilified as a producer of pollution today, made our lives cleaner?

Before the car, transportation required animals, mostly horses. Horses, of course, produce pollutants. What we in the modern, car-centric world easily lose track of is how dirty and smelly a world of horse-driven transportation is. Cities, in particular, were full of horse urine and manure, the stench of which could be overwhelming. Those by-products of transportation were no less polluting than what comes out of the exhaust pipe of a car or truck.

What we in the modern, car-centric world easily lose track of is how dirty and smelly a world of horse-driven transportation is. 

To understand the scale of the problem of horse-related pollution, consider historian David Kyvig’s observation:

The idea of self-propelled carriages had long fascinated American inventors, not to mention the carriage-using wealthy classes. Given the problems of highly-polluting horse-drawn vehicles, especially in congested urban areas, a cleaner-running automobile had great appeal. In 1900 in New York City alone, 15,000 horses dropped dead on the streets, while those that lived deposited 2.5 million pounds of manure and…