Monday, September 11, 2006

Was There Peace During the Clinton Administration?

Many Americans have very busy lives and pay little attention to the news, especially foreign affairs.

Some hold President Bush responsible for the current situation in may have the impression that it was the Bush Administration's policies in Iraq. Most Americans love peace and hate war. They hope that if we withdraw from Iraq terrorists will leave us alone. But this ignores the many times America has been attacked before the war in Iraq.

It's difficult to fix the exact date that we've been at war with Islamic fanatics. Was it support for Israel in 1967 during the Six Days War? Perhaps it was when President Carter withdrew support for the Shah of Iran, which led to the rise of Ayatollah Khomeini. Carter's weak response to the Iranian hostage situation led Iran to conclude that America was a paper tiger. After a failed rescue attempt Khomeni said "America can't do a damn thing."

See: America Can't Do A Thing by Amir Taheri

Whatever the date, it was long before September 11, 2001. Whether Al Qaeda was in Iraq before the Iraq War is a debatable point. We have been at war with Islamic Fascists for a long time. That they are there now is not. There is no question that they are there now.

The terrorist menace grew increasingly worse during the Clinton administration and the attacks were never responded to effectively. Below is a partial list of the attacks just during Clinton's term in office. The following is a list is from:

* January 25, 1993: Mir Aimal Kansi, a Pakistani, fired an AK-47 into cars waiting at a stoplight in front of the Central Intelligence Agency headquarters in Virginia, killing two CIA employees.

* February 26, 1993: Islamic terrorists try to bring down the World Trade Center with car bombs. They failed to destroy the buildings, but killed 6 and injured over 1000 people.

* March 12, 1993: Car bombings in Mumbai, India leave 257 dead and 1,400 others injured.

* July 18, 1994: Bombing of Jewish Center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, kills 86 and wounds 300. The bombing is generally attributed to Hezbollah acting on behalf of Iran.

* July 19, 1994: Alas Chiricanas Flight 00901 is bombed, killing 21. Generally attributed to Hezbollah.

* July 26, 1994: The Israeli Embassy is attacked in London, and a Jewish charity is also car-bombed, wounding 20. The attacks are attributed to Hezbollah.

* December 11, 1994: A bomb explodes on board Philippine Airlines Flight 434, killing a Japanese businessman. It develops that Ramzi Yousef planted the bomb to test it for the larger terrorist attack he is planning.

* December 24, 1994: In a preview of September 11, Air France Flight 8969 is hijacked by Islamic terrorists who planned to crash the plane in Paris.

* January 6, 1995: Operation Bojinka, an Islamist plot to bomb 11 U.S. airliners over the Pacific Ocean, is discovered on a laptop computer in a Manila, Philippines apartment by authorities after a fire occurred in the apartment. Noted terrorists including Ramzi Yousef and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed are involved in the plot.

* June 14—June 19, 1995: The Budyonnovsk hospital hostage crisis, in which 105 civilians and 25 Russian troops were killed following an attack by Chechan Islamists.

* July—October, 1995: Bombings in France by Islamic terrorists led by Khaled Kelkal kill eight and injure more than 100.

* November 13, 1995: Bombing of OPM-SANG building in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia kills 7

* November 19, 1995: Bombing of Egyptian Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan kills 19.

* January 1996: In Kizlyar, 350 Chechen Islamists took 3,000 hostages in a hospital. The attempt to free them killed 65 civilians and soldiers.

* February 25 - March 4, 1996: A series of four suicide bombings in Israel leave 60 dead and 284 wounded within 10 days.

* June 11, 1996: A bomb explodes on a train traveling on the Serpukhovsko-Timiryazevskaya Line of the Moscow Metro, killing four and unjuring at least 12.

* June 25, 1996: The Khobar Towers bombing, carried out by Hezbollah with Iranian support. Nineteen U.S. servicemen were killed and 372 wounded.

* February 24, 1997: An armed man opens fire on tourists at an observation deck atop the Empire State Building in New York City, United States, killing a Danish national and wounding visitors from several countries. A handwritten note carried by the gunman claims this was a punishment attack against the "enemies of Palestine".

* November 17, 1997: Massacre in Luxor, Egypt, in which Islamist gunmen attack tourists, killing 62 people.

* January 1998: Wandhama Massacre - 24 Kashmiri Pandits are massacred by Pakistan-backed Islamists in the city of Wandhama in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

* February 14, 1998: Bombings by Islamic Jihadi groups at an election rally in the Indian city of Coimbatore kill about 60 people.

* August 7, 1998: Al Qaeda bombs U.S. embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Nairobi, Kenya, killing 225 people and injuring more than 4,000.

* August 31 – September 22, 1998: Russian apartment bombings kill about 300 people, leading Russia into Second Chechen War.

* December 1998: Jordanian authorities foil a plot to bomb American and Israeli tourists in Jordan, and arrest 28 suspects as part of the 2000 millennium attack plots.

* December 14, 1998: Ahmed Ressam is arrested on the United States–Canada border in Port Angeles, Washington; he confessed to planning to bomb the Los Angeles International Airport as part of the 2000 millennium attack plots.

* December 24, 1998: Indian Airlines Flight 814 from Kathmandu, Nepal to Delhi, India is hijacked by Islamic terrorists. One passenger is killed and some hostages are released. After negotiations between the Taliban and the Indian government, the last of the remaining hostages on board Flight 814 are released in exchange for release of 4 terrorists.

* January 2000: The last of the 2000 millennium attack plots fails, as the boat meant to bomb USS The Sullivans sinks.

* August 8, 2000: A bomb exploded at an underpass in Pushkin Square in Moscow, killing 11 people and wounding more than 90.

* August 17, 2000: Two bombs exploded in a shopping center in Riga, Latvia, injuring 35 people.

* October 12, 2000: AL Qaeda bombs USS Cole with explosive-laden speedboat, killing 17 US sailors and wounding 40, off the port coast of Aden, Yemen.

Top Democrats have written a letter to ABC threatening to withdraw the network's broadcast license in response to the TV movie "Path to 9/11" because it shows that that the Clinton Administration's response to these attacks were weak and ineffectual. These same thugs are quick to cry "Censorship!" whenever a conservative raises objections to a controverial film or book.

The historical record is undeniable. President Clinton and his Administration never responded effectively to these attacks. They were treated as isolated incident and crimes. How could a movie be faithful to the truth and portray anything else?

President Clinton was quick to take credit when things did occasionally go right. Ahmed Ressam had planned to blow up Los Ingeles International Airport on December 31, 1999. The attack called the 'Millenium Plot' was thwarted by an alert female Customs agent during a routine inspection. Despite the claims of President Clinton, customs officials were given no special warning to be on alert at that time.

It was police in the Philippines who thwarted the 'Bojinka' plot to kill Pope John Paul II and destroy eleven U.S. airliners over the Pacific Ocean. President Clinton tried to take credit for this too. He played no role whatsoever in uncovering this plot.

The Democrat Party has changed sice the days of Presidents Roosevelt, Truman and Kennedy. While many Republicans disagreed with their policies and decisions, hardly anyone questioned their detrmination to protect our nation from its' enemies. But times have changed. The modern day Democrat Party's reputation for being weak on national defense is well deserved.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Be Leery of the Anti-War Movement

Catholic teaching directs us to avoid war and work for peace. However, it does not require pacifism. Nations have a right to defend themselves against unjust aggressors. Also to be against war, does not require that we align ourselves with various anti-war movements, which often have other agendas.

True patriots who desire the good of their country can disagree with one another on a wide range of issues. Patriotism does not mean defending the policies of the administration in power. Nor does it require supporting war when your nation is in conflict, but it certainly excludes aiding the enemy or rooting for your country’s defeat in war, unless your nation is truly evil such as Nazi Germany or the Communist Soviet Union.

In the ancient Chinese book on military strategy called The Art of War, Sun Tzu says:

There are four matters in which concord may be lacking. When there is discord within the country the army can not be mobilized. When there is discord in the army it can not take the field. When there is lack of harmony in the field the army can not take the offensive. When there is lack of harmony in battle the army can not win a decisive victory.

America’s enemies realize that war that a big part of war is psychological They seek to win by breaking our will. Osama Bin Laden said that he was encouraged to attack America when we pulled out of Somalia. In May of 1998, ABC reporter was able to interview Osama. John Miller asked Bin Laden to describe the situation when your men took down the American forces in Somalia. Bin Laden answered:

After our victory in Afghanistan and the defeat of the oppressors who had killed millions of Muslims, the legend about the invincibility of the superpowers vanished. Our boys no longer viewed America as a superpower. So, when they left Afghanistan, they went to Somalia and prepared themselves carefully for a long war. They had thought that the Americans were like the Russians, so they trained and prepared. They were stunned when they discovered how low was the morale of the American soldier. America had entered with 30,000 soldiers in addition to thousands of soldiers from different countries in the world. ... As I said, our boys were shocked by the low morale of the American soldier and they realized that the American soldier was just a paper tiger. He was unable to endure the strikes that were dealt to his army, so he fled, and America had to stop all its bragging and all that noise it was making in the press after the Gulf War in which it destroyed the infrastructure and the milk and dairy industry that was vital for the infants and the children and the civilians and blew up dams which were necessary for the crops people grew to feed their families. Proud of this destruction, America assumed the titles of world leader and master of the new world order. After a few blows, it forgot all about those titles and rushed out of Somalia in shame and disgrace, dragging the bodies of its soldiers. America stopped calling itself world leader and master of the new world order, and its politicians realized that those titles were too big for them and that they were unworthy of them. I was in Sudan when this happened. I was very happy to learn of that great defeat that America suffered, so was every Muslim. ...

It was the bodies of American soldiers being dragged through the streets that led many Americans to want to pull troop out of Somalia that we had entered because of a humanitarian crisis. Somalia is now a failed, stateless country and a breeding ground for terrorism.

The enemy was also able to effectively use the anti-war movement to defeat the United States in Vietnam. Colonel Bui Tin fought against Americans for the People’s Army of Vietnam (North Vietnam). In an interview about the war in the Thursday August 3, 1995 edition of the Wall Street Journal he spoke about how important the anti-war movement was in helping them to defeat the United States in the Vietnam War. He said:

Every day our leadership would listen to world news over the radio at 9:00 a.m. to follow the growth of the American antiwar movement. Visits to Hanoi by people like Jane Fonda and former Attorney General Ramsey Clark and ministers gave us confidence that we should hold on in the face of battlefield reverses. We were elated when Jane Fonda, wearing a red Vietnamese dress, said at a press conference that she was ashamed of American actions in the war, and that she would struggle along with us.

Colonel Tin realized, as did George Washington, that military victories were not as important as breaking the will of the enemy:

Our losses were staggering and a complete surprise. Giap later told me that Tet had been a military defeat, though we had gained the planned political advantages when Johnson agreed to negotiate and did not run for reelection.

General Võ Nguyên Giáp was a North Vietnamese four star general and leader of a guerilla group under Hồ Chí Minh.

Ion Mihai Pacepa was acting chief of Romania's espionage service. He is the highest-ranking intelligence officer ever to have defected from the former Soviet bloc. According to Pacepa, the KGB helped to organize a conference in Stockholm to condemn America's aggression, on March 8, 1965, as the first American troops arrived in South Vietnam.

The KGB financed the World Peace Council. Yuri Andropov ordered Romesh Chondra, the Chairman of the World Peace Council, to create the Stockholm Conference on Vietnam as a permanent international organization to aid or to conduct operations to help Americans dodge the draft or defect, to demoralize its army with anti-American propaganda, to conduct protests, demonstrations, and boycotts, and to sanction anyone connected with the war. The Stockholm Conference was staffed by Soviet-bloc undercover intelligence officers and received $15 million annually from the Communist Party. This was in addition to the $50 million a year they received from the Soviet Union.

The Romanian DIE (Ceausescu's secret police) helped the The World Peace Council to distribute propaganda throughout Western Europe which helped to contribute to the virulent anti-American sentiment there today.

In speaking of Senator John Kerry's role in the anti-war movement, Pacepa said:

As a spy chief and a general in the former Soviet satellite of Romania, I produced the very same vitriol Kerry repeated to the U.S. Congress almost word for word and planted it in leftist movements throughout Europe. KGB chairman Yuri Andropov managed our anti-Vietnam War operation. He often bragged about having damaged the U.S. foreign-policy consensus, poisoned domestic debate in the U.S., and built a credibility gap between America and European public opinion through our disinformation operations. Vietnam was, he once told me, 'our most significant success'.

Pacepa says

“I can no longer look at a petition for world peace or other supposedly noble cause, particularly of the anti-American variety, without thinking to myself, "KGB….. As far as I'm concerned, the KGB gave birth to the antiwar movement in America. In 1976, Andropov gave my own Romanian DIE credit for helping his KGB do so.”

Another Soviet defector, Stanislov Lunev, tells the same story in the book 'Through the Eyes of the Enemy':

The GRU and KGB helped fund just about every antiwar movement and organization in America and abroad... What will be a great surprise to the American people is that GRU and KGB had a larger budget for antiwar propaganda in the United States than it did for economic and military support to the Vietnamese.

Today anti-war critics exaggerate U.S. war crimes and prisoner abuse at Guantanomo Bay , charge abuses of the Patriot Act, claim that Bush lied about weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), despite the fact that the Clinton Administration and many other foreign intelligence services thought that Sadddam Hussein had WMDs.

Does this mean that every person who opposes the war in Iraq is an unpatriotic Communist? Obviously not, but it should make us skeptical of the leftist propaganda that is transmitted by a press corps who despises President Bush.

It is not patriotic to jump to conclusions and believe the worst about your country on the basis of news reports by biased propagandists in the media who are too willing to let themselves be used. An example of this recently were a series of doctored pictures out of Lebanon that were used by the Reuters news service. It took bloggers to discover that the photos had been altered and Reuters was forced to pull them.

It should also give us pause about with whom we align ourselves, even in supporting good and noble causes. There are unintended consequences to war. There are also unintended consequences to supporting the anti-war movement. The America pullout of Vietnam led to religious persecution, the killing of many innocent people and a refugee problem of enormous proportions. It also caused destabilization in the region that led to the “Killing Fields” in Cambodia. It is estimated that Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge killed between1.2 or 3 million people in Cambodia. This is one reason why the Vatican, which was opposed to the original invasion of Iraq, has now called for more nations to send troops there.

Some people oppose the war in good conscience, but others, including many leftists in America and Europe, hate America and want to see her defeated.

For more information see:

Interview: Osama Bin Laden by ABC reporter John Miller

Following Ho Chi Minh: The Memoirs of a North Vietnamese Colonel by Bui Tin (1999):

Kerry’s Soviet Rhetoric by Ion Mihai Pacepa, National Review Online, February 26, 2004

How Democracies Lose Small Wars: State, Society, and the Failures of France in Algeria, Israel in Lebanon, and the United States in Vietnam by Gil Merom

Why the Strong Lose by Jeffrey Record

Reuters Doctoring Photos From Beirut August 5, 2006

Left-Wing Monster: Pol Pot by John Perazzo August 8, 2005

Boat People


Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Patriot Act

On March 9, 2006, President George W. Bush signed the USA Patriot Improvement and Reauthorization Act. The Patriot Act, as it is commonly known, allows intelligence and law enforcement officials to share information. It allows law enforcement to use the same tools used against drug dealers and other criminals. The bill strengthens the Justice Department so that it can better detect terrorist cells and disrupt terrorist plots, and it brings the law up to date with new technologies. The legislation also includes toughens penalties for attacks on mass transportation systems and commercial aviation.

Law enforcement now has new tools to combat threats. Before the Patriot Act was enacted law enforcement organization were legally prevented from sharing vital information with one another. The Patriot Act helped to break down the legal and bureaucratic walls which prevented intelligence officers from sharing information with criminal investigators, to help them connect the dots before a terrorist strike.

The Patriot Act corrected certain double standards. Before the Patriot Act, law enforcement could not use the same tools investigative tools that they use to track a drug dealer's phone contacts to track terrorist's phone contacts. It was legal to obtain the credit card receipts of a tax cheat, but not to trace the financial support of an Al-Qaeda fundraiser.

Before the Patriot Act, the law did not account for new communications technologies such as e-mail, voicemail, and cell phones. For example, a subpoena to wiretap had to be obtained for each phone instead of being attached to a person. So if a terrorist could switch from one cell phone to another to avoid a wiretap. Now law enforcement can use what is called a "roving wiretap", the same tool they use to track drug dealers.

The Patriot Act allows law enforcement, with court authorization, to monitor data such as numbers called on a phone or to track web sites visited by the terrorist. It allows Internet service providers to disclose customer records voluntarily to the government in emergencies involving an immediate risk of death or serious physical injury. If a person’s computer has been hacked they can now request the assistance of law enforcement to monitor trespassers on their computers.

The Patriot Act makes it illegal to run an unlicensed foreign money transmittal business. This was necessary because terrorists didn’t use traditional financial institutions. They transfer money through informal networks which makes the money difficult to trace. Under the Patriot Act, U.S. banks, securities brokers and dealers and certain cash businesses are required to file Suspicious Activity Reports for a wider range of financial transactions. The new bill also increased penalties for financing terrorism and made it easier to seize terrorists’ assets.

The new Patriot Act created an Assistant Attorney General for National Security. This brings national security, counterterrorism, counterintelligence, and foreign intelligence surveillance operations under a single authority in the Justice Department.

The Patriot Act has been a success in preventing further acts of terrorism since it was first enacted in October 2001. Since then, the Patriot Act has helped law enforcement break up terror cells in Ohio, New York, Oregon, and Virginia. It has also helped in the prosecution of terrorists or their supporters in California, Texas, New Jersey, Illinois Washington, and North Carolina.

Due to political pressure after September 11, 2001, most Democrats voted for the original Patriot Act, signed into law by President Bush on October 26, 2001. The Act passed in the Senate by a vote of 98 to 1, and in the House of Representatives by 357 to 66.

But many of these same Democrats now oppose the Patriot Act. They claim the Act is an attack on our civil liberties. Their claims about the infringement of civil liberties are exaggerated and extreme. Since the Patriot Act was first enacted, there has not been a single verified abuse of any of the Act's provisions. The Patriot Act simply allows commonsense principles to be used in combating terrorism while at the same time safeguarding our civil liberties. The new and improved Patriot Act, signed in March, adds 30 new significant civil liberties provisions.

Key provisions of the Patriot Act almost expired last year, when Senate Democrats along with four liberal Republicans attempted to filibuster a proposal to extend the Patriot Act. Republicans warned that allowing the current provisions to expire could have devastating consequences. After a vote last year, in which the Republican majority fell seven votes shy pro-life the 60 votes needed to overcome the Democrats’ filibuster, Senator Harry Reid, the Democrat Minority Leader boasted, "We killed the Patriot Act" at a political rally. The crowd erupted in cheers.

The recent terrorist plot that was thwarted in England reminds us that we face real enemies who are determined to kill us. The Patriot Act is helping to keep America safe while at the same time respecting our civil liberties. It is not a matter of trading our civil liberties for the security. A balance can and must be attained. The Patriot Act maintains that balance.

Protecting national security is the ultimate pro-life issue. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, as part of its teaching on the Fifth Commandment in paragraph #2265 states the following:

Legitimate defense can be not only a right but a grave duty for one who is responsible for the lives of others. The defense of the common good requires that an unjust aggressor be rendered unable to cause harm. For this reason, those who legitimately hold authority also have the right to use arms to repel aggressors against the civil community entrusted to their responsibility.

The Patriot Act is one of many vital programs to protect national security that the leaders of the Democrat Party in the House and the Senate oppose. Others include the data mining program, the detention of enemy combatants at Guantanomo Bay, and the surveillance of foreign terrorists. Thus, in my judgment, the Democrats and a handful of liberal Republicans are unfit for leadership. If Democrats take over the House of Representatives and/or the Senate in November, America will be more vulnerable to attack. A Democrat victory will embolden the terrorists and the effects will reverberate throughout the world.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Promote Marriage to Reduce Poverty

Ten years ago welfare reform legislation was passed by the Republican Congress and signed into law by President Clinton. The legislation established work requirements and caps on benefits. This legislation finally acknowledged that there was indeed a link between poverty, fatherless families, children born out of wedlock and the decline of the work ethic. Since the passage of this legislation in 1996, child poverty among African-Americans has fallen to its lowest level in history. There are 1.5 million fewer children in poverty today, but many problems remain and marriage is the unfinished business of welfare reform.

Daniel Patrick Monihan was among the first government leaders to recognize and address the negative consequences of welfare dependence and the dissolution of the family. In 1965, Moynihan was the Assistant Secretary of Labor in the administration of President Lyndon Johnson. Moynihan was a committed liberal, but he came to be skeptical of the ability government programs to solve the problem of poverty. He published a report that noticed a disturbing trend in the black community in America. Despite desegregation and efforts to ensure equal opportunity, welfare dependence was on the rise among blacks, Moynihan and his fellow researchers pointed to the disintegration of family as a major cause.

Moynihan called for upholding the “social ideal” in public policy which was the married two-parent family. As Moynihan said, “The principal objective of American government at every level should be to see that children are born into intact families and that they remain so.”

Here is part of the prophetic warning from the Moynihan Report:

“Indices of dollars of income, standards of living, and years of education deceive.… The funda­mental problem…is that of family structure. The evidence…is that the Negro family in the urban ghettos is crumbling. A middle-class group has managed to save itself, but for vast numbers of the unskilled, poorly educated, city working class the fabric of conventional social relationships has all but disinte­grated.… So long as this situation persists, the cycle of poverty and disadvantage will continue to repeat itself.” [1]

Unfortunately, his words have proved all too true. When the Moynihan Report was released, one out of four black children was born to an unwed mother. As late as 1970, marriage was still the norm in the black community. In 1970, 64 percent of all black adults over 18 were married. And that num­ber was not dramatically lower than it was in the general population at the time, which was 72 per­cent. But by 1980, only 51 percent of black adults were married, and by 2004 that had dropped fur­ther to 41 percent. Today, two out of three black children are born outside of marriage. During the 1970s we saw the percentage of children born to unwed African-American mothers jump from 35 percent to 55 percent. The problem of single parenthood is not limited to the African-American community. The out-of-wedlock childbearing rate is at 25 percent for whites, 45 percent for Hispanics, and 68 percent among blacks.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan was a prophet, but as with many prophets, his message was not very welcome at the time and went largely unheeded. An acrimonious debate followed the Moynihan report. Many misread the report as “blaming the victim.” The charge was unfair. Moynihan clearly indicated the role that slavery and discrimination had played in harming the black community. Moynihan discussed joblessness and discrimination facing blacks, especially men. He noted the growing gap between girls and boys in terms of education and money earned. (Girls, as they are now, were doing much better). He talked a lot about the lack of education, the high rejection rate from the military, high crime rates, but also on the victimization experienced by blacks in that period. Finally, he commented on the role of the family.

The criticism focused on his remarks about the dissolution of the black family. Despite the criticism, Moynihan kept writing and talking about the problem of the collapse of the family, particularly within African-American com­munities, but increasingly within all ethnic groups, but most liberal social scientists were intimidated. They avoided further research on the topic, for fear of being labeled as racists. They avoided describing any behavior that could be construed as unflattering or stigmatizing to racial minorities. Some claimed that the disintegration of the family was a result of low wages and high unemployment among black men. But as wages went up, particularly in the 1950s and ’60s, this is exactly when the black family started to disintegrate and out-of-wedlock childbearing rose.

The Moynihan Report was not debated as much as it was disparaged and ignored. The “debate” began a paralysis of political correctness that continues, to some extent, to this day. The disintegration of the family as a root cause for the inability to rise from poverty was largely ignored until the 1990’s. Now even liberals will occasionally venture to talk about the problem. For example, in 1996 Hillary Clinton wrote, “Every society requires a critical mass of families that fit the traditional idea, both to meet the needs of most children and to serve as a model for other adults who are raising children in difficult settings. And we are at risk of losing that critical mass today.” [2]

Dr. Wade Horn is the Assistant Secretary for Children and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Dr. Horn was recently at a conference on new strategies for reducing poverty at the University of North Carolina. Former Senator John Edwards was the moderator of the conference, and after his talk on why marriage is important in the context of anti-poverty strategies, he remarked, “I agree with everything that Wade Horn just said.” And then he added, “And that really, really worries me.” It probably worries him since most liberals still are hesitant to talk about the problem fearing criticism from fellow liberals who are still inclined to regard criticism of single parent families as antiquated, even bigoted.

Until recently, social theorists and government operated on the principle that the only distinguished the poor from the middle class was the amount of money they had. So, they though, if you just provided money to the poor that would solve the problem. It was a very appealing policy since it didn’t require confronting issues of family structure and other social problems. Forty years of experience has shown us that this approach not only doesn't work, it has been disastrous, trapping generation after generation in a cycle of poverty.

Some social scientists proposed other solutions, which took family structure into account, but they found it very difficult to eliminate financial disincentives to marry within the existing system of welfare benefits.

One approach tried by Congress and various Presidents were initiatives aimed at reducing out of wedlock births and single parenthood. But these initiatives focused mostly on providing birth control, which tended to increase sexual activity outside of marriage and led to increased pregnancies that ended in either abortion or more non-marital births. At the same time increased benefits were given to single parents that created an incentive which encouraged single parenthood.

It is difficult to eliminate negative incentives to marriage while at the same time maintaining the social safety net. What makes it so difficult is that you phase out benefits as people do better financially. Marrying a partner who works means adding an extra earner to the family. Adding the extra earner means that benefits are phased out more quickly. If there was no social safety net, there would be a financial incentive to marry, but if getting married means a loss of benefits than adding the extra earner is not much help. Starting in the 1960’s, it’s almost as if government told poor people to stop getting married. Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) guaranteed a woman a lifetime entitlement to cash as long as she had a dependent child. But she was told if you work or marry someone who is working your benefits will be cut off.

One of the goals of the 1996 welfare reform legisla­tion was to increase the proportion of children who grow up in healthy two-parent families, and it is not possible to accomplish that goal simply by shifting single mothers from welfare into work. Many of the union formation trends are moving in the wrong direction. They are shifting away from stable mari­tal unions toward less stable non-marital unions. Moreover, these trends are becoming deeply en­trenched among young adults.

One of these trends is unwed childbearing: 1.5 million children were born out of wedlock in 2004, which is an all-time high. There has been a steep and recent increase in the proportion of women in their ’20s having unwed births. These years used to be the prime marrying years for women. But now women in their ’20s are forgoing marriage and hav­ing babies on their own, and there has been a cul­tural shift that supports this trend, once women are past the teen years. This is not a teen pregnancy problem; only about 14 percent of these non-marital births occur to girls under 18. It is really a crisis in the relationship of young adults, and primarily low-income young adults.

A second trend is the rise in cohabiting unions with children. Over 40 percent of cohabiting households today include children. Some cohabit­ing parents plan to marry; others have no plans to marry; still others are thinking about marriage. But what we can say with confidence is that cohabiting unions are not like marital unions. They are more likely to break up over a shorter period of time, more likely to involve infidelity, and more likely to pose risks of domestic violence, child abuse, and the like. So again, if the goal is healthy two-parent families, this is a troubling trend.

The third trend is what researchers call multiple partner fertility: people have children with more than one partner. And here again there is a stark contrast between the unmarried and the married couples. In almost 60 percent of unmarried couples who have a child together, one or the other partner has a child from another relationship. But in almost 80 percent of married couples who have a child together, neither partner has a child from another relationship. Many problems arise for children due to this new trend. It is more difficult to enforce or establish paternal responsibility, there is more likely to be conflict within the current rela­tionship, and there can be difficulty in trying to navigate past relationships and co-parenting. The man who is most likely to be committed to a specific child is the man who is the biological father of that child. It is most likely to be a step-parent or boyfriend that abuses a child than a biological parent.

What the trends of unwed childbearing, cohabitation and multiple partner fertility have in common is the loss of the social norm of a family which begins with a marriage between a man and a woman who then have children.

Since the 1996 welfare reform legislation there has been some good news and some not so good news. The good news is out-of-wedlock births have declined. In the African-American community in 1995, the per­centage of black children born out of wedlock hit a record 70 percent. It has dropped every year since then, and although not huge drops, it is now at about 68 percent. A study by the late Paul Offner in Social Science Quarterly documents the decline in unwed motherhood among poor teens, and it dem­onstrates that the decline is at least in large measure the result of provisions in the 1996 law.[3]

The bad news is that we are in danger of losing the idea of marriage as an important social institution in America. Accord­ing to the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future survey, more than half of high school seniors agree with the statement “having a child out of wed­lock is experimenting with a worthwhile lifestyle and not affecting anyone else.” According to another survey, close to 60 percent of 15–17-year-old teen­age girls approve of unwed childbearing. That figure rises to 73 percent among teen girls ages 18–19. In 1995, 43 percent of adult blacks were mar­ried, and today 41 percent are married. Why should it be that the out-of-wedlock birth rate among teens is dropping, but we are not seeing an increase in marriage? We have convinced people that it is a bad idea to have a child in your teens. However, we have not con­vinced them that it is a good idea to be married before you have children.

On March 26, 2006 the Washington Post ran an article by Joy Jones who was teaching a class career exploration class for sixth-graders at an elementary school in Southeast Washington. She was pleasantly surprised when the boys talked about the importance of being good fathers. She assumed they hoped one day to marry and raise a family, but with further discussion she discovered that the boys had no intentions to marry. One boy in the class explained why. He said "Marriage is for white people." Yet according to Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, Ph.D., the Co-Director of the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University, recent ethnographic studies show the ideal and aspiration to marriage remains very strong for women in communities with low marriage rates. The problem is that most see the ability to achieve married parenthood as beyond their grasp.

Many young wom­en tend to be pickier about the man they would marry than about the man they would have a child with. So we see this split between marriage on the one hand and parenthood on the other. We have to begin to bring the two together. Going forward, the most important goal of welfare reform is to reestab­lish the norm and the achievable possibility of mar­ried parenthood.

We have established the idea that if you have children, you have the responsibility of working and supporting those children. The next step is to establish the norm of married parenthood—that is, if you want children, you should be prepared to form a healthy and stable marriage first.

Dr. Horn recommends reading Kathy Edin’s book, Promises I Can Keep, on young single mothers in urban areas. This book shows that poor mothers want what most other women want in society. Most of them want to be married, to have a house in the suburbs, two kids, a dog, and a minivan. The problem is that they have absolutely no practical plan to get there. We need to find opportunities to intervene with a positive and instructive message that will help young women to see the ideals and design a path­way to accomplish those ideals. The earlier we intervene, the better.

The second thing that we learn from this book, unequivocally, is that these women very much want to have children. Children are the center point of their lives. Liberals complain about lack of access to birth control. This is completely irrelevant. The mothers have all the birth control they could want, they know all about it, but they are having children because children are absolutely essential to their vision of what they want to be and to their life fulfillment. The problem is that they have the sequence mixed up.

Most middle class, couples generally begin by forming an attachment to each other, followed by commitment, followed by marriage, and then hav­ing children. In low-income groups today, that sequence has been reversed and the couple starts by having a child, then the mother seeks commit­ment—not necessarily to the father of the child. He may not what she considers marriageable material. Then, she ultimately seeks marriage perhaps 10 or 15 years down the road. This is a matter of attitude and per­ceptions. These young women do not see that sequence as in any way abnormal. Most peo­ple, liberal or conservative, can see that that sequence is a disastrous one. But we do not com­municate that message to the young women who need to hear it.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan said “The decline of marriage is a terrible thing and I don’t have any idea what to do about it.” But I think there is a lot we can and should do to promote marriage.

1.) We must promote chastity. Chastity is not just a religious virtue. There are good secular reasons for it as well. Abstinence before marriage is the best way to avoid an early unwed pregnancy. Young women who avoid sexual activity before marriage are more likely to finish their education and gain decent employ­ment. If they can do these things they are more likely to find a suitable marriage partner.

2.) We need more marriage education programs before marriage. Marriage programs can begin to teach young people about how to form and sustain healthy relation­ships. These programs could begin as early as middle school, in order that kids will have the skills, knowledge, and ability to build a foundation for future marriage. Young people need to learn what constitutes a suitable marriage partner. We can help young people to seek marriage partners who are of good character, reliable, faithful and who intend to marry. We need to help young women realize that having a strong, committed rela­tionship with the father of that child will be the key to the success of that child. We also need to spread the word about how marriage helps men. They live longer. Their work effort increases. Their earnings increase as their work effort increases and they mature in marriage. Not everyone can be helped by marriage education programs, but the over­whelming majority of the couples that are having children out of wedlock can and should be helped.

3.) We can also reach couples in fragile fam­ilies, cohabiting, or otherwise in a romantic rela­tionship, who want to marry and have the capacity to form healthy marriages to acquire the skills and tools and knowledge to do so. Today the popular culture creates unrealistic expectations about what marriage is and what it entails. If people’s expectations are too high they become overly selective. This may drive more people toward cohabitation, particularly as “trial marriage.” And unfortunately the more trial marriages you have, the less likely you’re going to have a marriage that these marriages will last. Studies have also shown that people who live together before marriage are more likely to get divorced.

We need to provide programs that young woman people information about life skills planning, marriage, and relationship skills. The program could begin by asking about their life goals and plans. Most of them would have pretty conventional life plans. We could then encourage them to build the skills to achieve those plans. Most women will want children. Obviously they don’t want their children to be poor. We might then say tell them that a child that is born and raised outside of marriage is seven times more likely to be poor than not. What may seem like common knowledge to most people is something many poor people can’t relate to because it is outside of their experience within their local community. We need to talk with them about where they want to go and what sequence of choices they need to make so they are able to give their children all they hope for them.

4.) Faith based initiatives promoting marriage need to be encouraged. As Christian values have declined, we have seen a decline in marriage. Those who attend church are much less likely to become pregnant outside of marriage. Young people who go to church, it not only has a positive impact on them, but they actually have a positive effect on their peers. Dr. Wade Horn’s Healthy Marriage Initiative is building coalitions of pastors and other faith-based groups to come together around this issue in their local communities. Many pastors feel overwhelmed by the problem. It’s very diffi­cult to stand firm on this issue if two-thirds of your parishioners have had children out of wedlock. Pastors need to support one another. Government also has a role to play in promoting healthy marriages.

5.) Young people need help in finding good marriage partners. Too many young people are unable to meet the members of the opposite sex in their local social net­works who would make good marriage partners. Virtually every society helps to match young men and women for the purposes of marriage and parenthood.

6.) When we speak of these issues we should avoid the use of the term “committed relationship and use “marriage” instead. If we’re afraid to use the word, we shouldn’t be surprised if the institution disappears.

7.) As Moynihan said, “the principal objective should be to see that more children are born into intact fami­lies and remain so.” Dr. Wade Horn oversees $46 billion, part of a $2 trillion federal budget. $100 million of this is spent to fund the Healthy Marriage Initiative. This amounts to one penny spent to support marriage for every $15 we spend to support single parenthood. He suggests that we need to integrate the idea of marriage into all of the social programs that support low-income families. It’s not the amount of money that is so critical. It is recapturing the idea that marriage is fundamental to the social good, and encouraging healthy marriages is an important objective of gov­ernment policy.

8.) Help should help men to become more attractive as marital part­ners. Job skills education and job training should be incorporated into marriage preparation programs.

9.) We can promote apprenticeship. In the last several decades is that the age at which men reach a higher earnings level has gone up and the age of sexual activity has gone down, so there is a big gap between when young people are having lots of sex and the time when they can really afford to have children. Young men are not making enough money to from families. Apprenticeship helps young people develop positive relationships with responsible who can share their wis­dom and who can encourage young people to prepare for the future.


In 1992 there was a popular television show in which the main character, Murphy Brown, played by the actress Candace Bergen, had a child which she planned out of wedlock. On May 19, 1992 Vice President Dan Quayle criticized the show’s producers promoting out of wedlock child birth and ignoring the importance of fathers. Most liberals were enraged and attacked Quayle in the media viciously. But Barbara Dafoe Whitehead wrote an article in The Atlantic entitled “Dan Quayle Was Right”.[4] The popular culture is as hostile as ever to marriage and responsible parenthood. One popular show, Friends, portrays a youthful mating culture where people just exchange sex partners.

Dan Quayle was right when he criticized the popular culture and it’s attitudes toward marriage and fatherhood. Daniel Patrick Moynihan was right when he said that marriage matters and family matters. What Moynihan said about the black family now pertains to all families. Marriage is important not only as an expression of the love and affection that two people have for each other, but also because it is critical to the common good in our culture and society. The main problem behind out-of-wedlock childbearing and the decline of marriage is a matter of attitudes.

Marriage is the unfinished business of welfare reform. The new provisions of the Tempo­rary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) are a good start. For the first time, federal tax dollars are being spent to focus on helping couples form and sustain healthy marriages. This is a dramatic shift in social policy. Just ten years ago it was impolite to even use the word “marriage,” and now $100 million in the federal budget is dedicated to promoting and encouraging marriage, but much work is yet to be done. It starts with each one of us daring to challenge “politically correct” ideas that have damaged our society. The dissolution of the family has led to a lack of self esteem in men,increased alcohol and drug abuse and all their attendant problems. It has burdened women either with the guilt of an abortion or the hardships of single parenthood. Most of all, it has deprived children of a stable family consisting of a loving mother and loving father who are married each other and are ready to demonstrate unconditional love for their child. The child has a right to this love from the moment he or she is conceived in the womb. The child deserves care from both of his parents throughout their childhood and adolescence and love from both for the rest of his or her life. Most parents who make the sacrifices required of love experience that they are repaid in many ways that can never be counted.

[1]Office of Policy Planning and Research, U.S. Department of Labor, “The Negro Family: The Case for National Action,” March 1965, at (August 2, 2006).

[2]Hillary Rodham Clinton, It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us (New York: Touchstone, 1996), p. 50.

[3]Paul Offner, “Welfare Reform and Teenage Girls,” Social Science Quarterly, Vol. 86 (June 2005), pp. 306–322.

[4] Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, “Dan Quayle Was Right,” The Atlantic, April 1993.

For more information see:

‘The Collapse of Marriage and the Rise of Welfare Dependence’by Jennifer A. Marshall, Robert Lerman, Ph.D., Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, Ph.D., Hon. Wade Horn, Ph.D., Robert Rector Heritage Lecture #959 August 15, 2006 (Delivered May 22, 2006)

'Marriage Is for White People' by Joy Jones Washington Post, March 26, 2006

‘Dan Quayle Was Right' By Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, The Atlantic, April 1993


Friday, September 01, 2006

The Beheading of John the Baptist

The image above and the article below is from the Web Gallery of Art:

LUINI, Bernardino
(b. 1480, Luino, d. 1532, Milano)

Tempera on panel, 51 x 58 cm
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

Until 1793 the painting was attributed to Leonardo da Vinci. Then it was recognised as the work of his Lombardian follower, Luini.

The absence of biographical information on this painter makes a reconstruction of his cultural background somewhat difficult, although his airy perspective constructions would certainly suggest a link with the Venetian school.

Luini was a prolific artist of easel paintings, mostly of religious subjects, with which - as this Herodias reveals - he arrived at a type of classicising painting, rich in chiaroscural intensity, the prelude to an almost North European-style pathos.

The biblical source for the painting is Matthew 14:6-11 or Mark 6:21-8, where the daughter of Herodias danced for her stepfather, Herod, on his birthday. As a reward he promised her anything she wanted and, prompted by her mother, she chose the head of Saint John the Baptist, which she then carried to Herodias on a silver charger. The daughter subsequently became known in literature as Salome, and the theme was memorably treated in the nineteenth century by Richard Strauss and Oscar Wilde amongst others.

The painting was restored in 1977.