Tag Archives: United States

U.S. taxpayers pay $3 billion to United Nations budget

Secretary of State John Kerry, United States Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power (center) and United States National Security Advisor Susan Rice
National Security Advisor Susan Rice, United States Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power, Secretary of State John Kerry

CNS News has the story on how much we give the United Nations.

Excerpt:

American taxpayers will once again be liable for more than one-fifth of the United Nations’ regular budget next year, as well as more than one-quarter of the much-larger peacekeeping budget – a total of approximately $2,957,000,000.

[…]U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power tweeted her congratulations to the U.S. team involved in committee haggling over the budget – or what she described as “tough negotiations to secure more fair UN budget to slow growing costs & take steps to streamline UN ops.”

[…]There are 193 U.N. member-states. When decisions are made on the U.N. budget, the U.S. has the same (one) vote as does every other member, despite the size of its contribution. America’s 22 percent contribution comes with no more weight in the budget process than the 0.001 percent paid by the lowest-assessed nations.

We’re paying the bill, but other nations – often with gross human rights abuses – are calling the tunes. What kinds of tunes are they calling?

Well, they are promoting abortion, for one.

Life News explains:

The United Nations’ treaty monitoring body for the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) ignored the pro-life laws of four countries under review during its recent 55th session and strongly urged the countries to change their laws or policies on abortion, despite the fact that the treaty does not mention abortion.

And the United Nations is very concerned with promoting gay rights, too.

Life Site News explains:

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon promised that homosexual and transgender rights would advance at the United Nations despite the strain it will cause within the organization and between states.

[…]“This is not just a personal commitment, it is an institutional commitment,” he said, promising that he would “continue to fight” and that he would be the “first of many” Secretary Generals to take up LGBT rights, as part of the UN’s “sacred mission” to promote human rights.

Now for those who are more concerned about fiscal issues than social issues, you shouldn’t like the United Nations either.

Here’s a column by Claudia Rossett in The Tower:

The results range from Security Council paralysis to watered-down resolutions that too often fail to solidly reflect U.S. interests. This has not been helped by U.S. policies outlined by President Obama when he told the UN General Assembly in 2009 that “No one nation can or should try to dominate another nation” and “No balance of power among nations will hold.” Far from taking this as an inspiration to live in brotherly peace and fill the communal pot, some of the more opportunistic UN member states appear to have received it as an invitation to grab whatever they can get. Russia and China have been ever more aggressively pursuing anti-American interests, including increasing engagement with terror-sponsoring Iran and actively preventing action to stop the atrocities in Syria. Following a spate of Security Council sanctions resolutions meant to stop Iran’s rogue nuclear program, in 2006, 2007, and 2008, the Council has not produced another since 2010. When civil war engulfed Syria starting in 2011, Russia blocked Security Council action for more than two years, until finally, in Sept., 2013, the U.S. deferred to a Russia-brokered deal to relieve Syria’s Assad regime of its chemical weapons in exchange for effectively shoring up Syria’s President Bashar Assad—and allowing the killing to continue unabated.

In the General Assembly, U.S. money has similarly not bought friendship. On the contrary, U.S. funding has fostered an entitlement culture, in which the U.S. is not only taken for granted as a cash dispenser, but also systematically denounced and defied. Nations deeply hostile to the U.S. have made an art of twisting the UN system, flush with U.S. resources, for their own aims. A prime exhibit is Iran’s current three-year chairmanship (2012-2015) of the so-called Non-Aligned Movement, which with 120 members is the second-largest voting bloc in the UN General Assembly. At the UN’s New York headquarters, the largest voting bloc, the Group of 77, with 133 members, is currently chaired by Bolivia—where the anti-American government maintains close ties to Iran.

The practical results of such arrangements can be found in the annual reports submitted by the State Department to Congress on “Voting Practices in the United Nations.” The most recent report, released last April and covering 2012, records that of all General Assembly resolutions put to a vote, fewer than half the UN member states—just 42.5 percent—aligned themselves with the U.S. For votes on resolutions the State Department judged “important,” the coincidence of countries voting with the U.S. was even lower: a mere 35.4 percent.

We’re not getting good value for money here… we’d be better off using that money on our own military and military alliances, e.g. – NATO.

And if you care most about foreign policy, well… the United Nations is still not for you.

Claudia Rossett reports on that in Forbes magazine:

Founded in 1945 to promote global peace, human dignity and freedom, the United Nations is celebrating its 70th anniversary — with a parade of dictators. The ceremonies will peak on Monday, at U.N. headquarters in New York, when the General Assembly opens its annual debate with a lineup starring the presidents of such notorious tyrannies as China, Russia, Iran and Cuba.

[..]Monday’s opening of the U.N. general debate will also feature the despots who bestride such countries as Belarus, Turkmenistan, Zimbabwe, Kazakhstan, Qatar, Ethiopia and Gabon.

[…]Today, according to the rankings of Washington-based Freedom House, more than half the U.N.‘s 193 member states are only partly free, or not free at all. During the entire general debate, a six-day marathon of speeches, from Sept. 28 – Oct. 3, all members get a 15-minute turn (though some take more) on the main stage.

What’s historic, however, is the procession of high-profile despots planning to appear in person in Monday’s starting lineup, including Russia’s Vladimir Putin, China’s Xi Jinping and Cuba’s Raul Castro… [M]aking his third appearance at the U.N. general debate, comes Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani, clutching the freshly minted Iran nuclear deal and fronting as head of state for Tehran’s terror-sponsoring tyranny run by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

That’s right. The United States is handing billions of taxpayer dollars to an organization that has large numbers of dictators calling the shots. It’s really time to cut off funding for this corrupt, anti-American organization. But that will never happen while the Democrats are in charge. Think of that when you are voting next November.

The miracle of Squanto’s path to Plymouth

"The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth" by Jennie Augusta Brownscombe (1914)
“The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth” by Jennie Augusta Brownscombe (1914)

God’s providence in action, as reported by Eric Metaxas in the Wall Street Journal.

Full text:

The story of how the Pilgrims arrived at our shores on the Mayflower—and how a friendly Patuxet native named Squanto showed them how to plant corn, using fish as fertilizer—is well-known. But Squanto’s full story is not, as National Geographic’s new Thanksgiving miniseries, “Saints & Strangers,” shows. That might be because some details of Squanto’s life are in dispute. The important ones are not, however. His story is astonishing, even raising profound questions about God’s role in American history.

Every Thanksgiving we remember that, to escape religious persecution, the Pilgrims sailed to the New World, landing at Plymouth Rock in 1620. But numerous trading ships had visited the area earlier. Around 1608 an English ship dropped anchor off the coast of what is today Plymouth, Mass., ostensibly to trade metal goods for the natives’ beads and pelts. The friendly Patuxets received the crew but soon discovered their dark intentions. A number of the braves were brutally captured, taken to Spain and sold into slavery.

One of them, a young man named Tisquantum, or Squanto, was bought by a group of Catholic friars, who evidently treated him well and freed him, even allowing him to dream of somehow returning to the New World, an almost unimaginable thought at the time. Around 1612, Squanto made his way to London, where he stayed with a man namedJohn Slany and learned his ways and language. In 1618, a ship was found, and in return for serving as an interpreter, Squanto would be given one-way passage back to the New World.

After spending a winter in Newfoundland, the ship made its way down the coast of Maine and Cape Cod, where Squanto at last reached his own shore. After 10 years, Squanto returned to the village where he had been born. But when he arrived, to his unfathomable disappointment, there was no one to greet him. What had happened?

It seems that since he had been away, nearly every member of the Patuxets had perished from disease, perhaps smallpox, brought by European ships. Had Squanto not been kidnapped, he would almost surely have died. But perhaps he didn’t feel lucky to have been spared. Surely, he must have wondered how his extraordinary efforts could amount to this. At first he wandered to another Wampanoag tribe, but they weren’t his people. He was a man without a family or tribe, and eventually lived alone in the woods.

But his story didn’t end there. In the bleak November of 1620, the Mayflower passengers, unable to navigate south to the warmer land of Virginia, decided to settle at Plymouth, the very spot where Squanto had grown up. They had come in search of religious freedom, hoping to found a colony based on Christian principles.

Their journey was very difficult, and their celebrated landing on the frigid shores of Plymouth proved even more so. Forced to sleep in miserably wet and cold conditions, many of them fell gravely ill. Half of them died during that terrible winter. One can imagine how they must have wept and wondered how the God they trusted and followed could lead them to this agonizing pass. They seriously considered returning to Europe.

But one day during that spring of 1621, a Wampanoag walked out of the woods to greet them. Somehow he spoke perfect English. In fact, he had lived in London more recently than they had. And if that weren’t strange enough, he had grown up on the exact land where they had settled.

Because of this, he knew everything about how to survive there; not only how to plant corn and squash, but how to find fish and lobsters and eels and much else. The lone Patuxet survivor had nowhere to go, so the Pilgrims adopted him as one of their own and he lived with them on the land of his childhood.

No one disputes that Squanto’s advent among the Pilgrims changed everything, making it possible for them to stay and thrive. Squanto even helped broker a peace with the local tribes, one that lasted 50 years, a staggering accomplishment considering the troubles settlers would face later.

So the question is: Can all of this have been sheer happenstance, as most versions of the story would have us believe? The Pilgrims hardly thought so. To them, Squanto was a living answer to their tearful prayers, an outrageous miracle of God. Plymouth Colony Governor William Bradford declared in his journal that Squanto “became a special instrument sent of God” who didn’t leave them “till he died.”

Indeed, when Squanto died from a mysterious disease in 1622, Bradford wrote that he wanted “the Governor to pray for him, that he might go to the Englishmen’s God in heaven.” And Squanto bequeathed his possessions to the Pilgrims “as remembrances of his love.”

These are historical facts. May we be forgiven for interpreting them as the answered prayers of a suffering people, and a warm touch at the cold dawn of our history of an Almighty Hand?

America is truly a blessed nation. Why this story is not taught in all the schools of the nation is beyond me.

Happy Independence Day 2015!

The Stars and Stripes
The Stars and Stripes

The Declaration of Independence

Here’s the complete text of the Declaration of Independence here.

And now let’s take a look at an article at The Federalist which talks about what the Declaration of Independence tells us about the character of America.

It says:

The Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson famously wrote, was “intended to be an expression of the American mind.” Although not intended as such, it was also an expression of the American character. Woven throughout the text are insights into the minds and virtues of those Lincoln called the “once hardy, brave, and patriotic, but now lamented and departed race of ancestors” who fought for the independence we still enjoy.

This aspect of the Declaration of Independence receives scant attention from scholars and citizens, yet it must be understood. The theory of government elaborated in that text presupposes the existence of citizens who know how to govern themselves and are willing to assert their rights. The American character is the unstated premise of the argument, without which the theory, though still true, doesn’t work in practice.

So, what’s the American character?

What sets us Americans apart is that we do not merely declare for liberty. We staunchly stand for it. To be an American is not only to know that you are born free, it is to have the courage to defend your freedom. This admirable aspect of the American character is evident in the fifth grievance the Declaration levels against the king.

It reads: “He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing, with manly firmness, his invasions on the rights of the people.” The king acted as monarchs are wont to do. Our forefathers, although they were subjects, did not take his abuses passively. They resisted—with manly firmness.

Today, King George III is long gone. Our representative houses are no longer dissolved at will (although they have unconstitutionally been declared to be in recess). Our rights, however, are still encroached upon, whether by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services or the Environmental Protection Agency. Thankfully, courageous Americans still push back, like the Green family, who challenged Obamacare’s abortifacient mandate, or the Sacketts, who fought the EPA’s effective seizure of their property.

No charter of liberties or Constitution—not even one handed down by God himself—could ever, on its own, protect the rights of the people. James Madison, the father of our own Constitution, was not so foolish as to place his trust in mere “parchment barriers against the encroaching spirit of power.”

In Federalist No. 57, Madison takes up the question of “what is to restrain the House of Representatives from making legal discriminations in favor of themselves and a particular class of the society?” His answer: “the genius of the whole system; the nature of just and constitutional laws; and above all, the vigilant and manly spirit which actuates the people of America—a spirit which nourishes freedom, and in return is nourished by it.”

The 56 men who signed our Declaration of Independence set the example for their fellow countrymen and for future generations. They did not simply proclaim the universal rights of man. They also pledged “to each other, our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” And they meant it. Twelve served as combat commanders during the Revolutionary War. Five were captured and imprisoned by the British. Seventeen lost part of their fortunes.

America is not a country for servile men and women. We not only have a right to be free, but a duty to be free. For “when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.” Free as we are, we have no liberty to choose despotism—even if it is sugarcoated, as it is today, with material comfort and license.

[…]Two centuries later, the American character endures, battered and bruised though it may be. It has been corroded by the Progressive faith in government, the sixties ethos of “if it feels good, do it,” and the mindlessness and vulgarity of pop culture. But we can still readily discern among many Americans the habits of mind and the virtues of a free people. For this, we should be grateful on this Fourth of July.

To love liberty means to be willing to stand up for liberty, and that can mean something as simple as 1) not voting for bigger government just because they are handing out money to you and 2) not voting for bigger government because they are letting you do immoral things.

Standing up for liberty means standing up for your own personal responsibility. It means looking primarily to yourself for earning a living. It means choosing to behave morally so that you don’t create a situation where you need the government to bail you out of your own immoral decisions with someone else’s money.

Let’s celebrate our heroes for Memorial Day

Leslie Sabo
Leslie Sabo

Here’s a story of heroism from Investors Business Daily.

It says:

Leslie Sabo was killed during the Vietnam War’s 1970 Cambodian Campaign. He was nominated for the Medal of Honor, but the records were lost until a veteran rediscovered them in 1999. In 2012, Sabo’s widow received the nation’s highest military award on his behalf, the 249th for Vietnam.

Sabo’s platoon and another had been ambushed from all sides by a large and well-entrenched force of communist soldiers.

He repeatedly attacked and killed enemy soldiers, was wounded by a grenade as he shielded a comrade, and then was fatally shot as he provided covering fire for a medevac helicopter.

“His indomitable courage and complete disregard for his own safety saved the lives of many of his platoon members,” said the Medal of Honor citation. “Spc. 4 Sabo’s extraordinary heroism and selflessness, above and beyond the call of duty, at the cost of his life, are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, Company B, 3rd Battalion, 506th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division, and the United States Army.”

Leslie Jr. was born in 1948 in Kufstein, Austria, where his well-to-do family had moved after the Soviet occupation of Hungary at the end of World War II, leaving almost everything behind.

They moved to America when he was 2. They lived in Youngstown, Ohio, and then Ellwood City, Pa.

Leslie Sr., a lawyer in Hungary, retrained as an engineer, and both parents taught their two remaining sons (another was killed by a bomb during the war) patriotism for their adopted country.

Here are some more details from the Army web site:

4 Leslie H. Sabo Jr. distinguished himself, May 10, 1970, in Se San, Cambodia, while serving as a rifleman in Company B, 3d Battalion, 506th Infantry, 101st Airborne Division.

Members of B. Co. were ambushed by a large enemy force. While conducting a reconnaissance patrol, 22-year-old Sabo, charged an enemy position, killing several enemy soldiers. Immediately thereafter, he assaulted an enemy flanking force, successfully drawing their fire away from friendly soldiers and ultimately forcing the enemy to retreat.

When a grenade landed nearby a wounded comrade, Sabo picked up the grenade threw it away while shielding his buddy with his own body, thus absorbing the brunt of the blast and saving the man’s life.

Seriously wounded by the blast, Sabo, nonetheless, retained the initiative and single- handedly charged an enemy bunker that had inflicted severe damage on the platoon. He received several serious wounds from withering automatic weapons fire in the process. Despite being mortally injured, he crawled towards the enemy emplacement and, when in position, threw a grenade into the bunker. The resulting explosion silenced the enemy fire, but also ended Spc. 4 Sabo’s life.

He gave his life to save his friends.

Check out some of my Medal of Honor posts:

God bless our soldiers, airmen and sailors!

The global shift away from marriage and child-bearing

Nicholas Eberstadt explains what’s happening to marriage and parenting, in this Wall Street Journal article.

I just want to pull out the parts that seem interesting.

Why is it happening?

All around the world today, pre-existing family patterns are being upended by a revolutionary new force: the seemingly unstoppable quest for convenience by adults demanding ever-greater autonomy. We can think of this as another triumph of consumer sovereignty, which has at last brought rational choice and elective affinities into a bastion heretofore governed by traditions and duties—many of them onerous. Thanks to this revolution, it is perhaps easier than ever before to free oneself from the burdens that would otherwise be imposed by spouses, children, relatives or significant others with whom one shares a hearth.

People are rejecting responsibilities, expectations, and obligations because they are selfish.

When he talks about Europe, he offers an explanation for this:

Now consider Europe, where the revolution in the family has gained still more ground. European demographers even have an elegant name for the phenomenon: They call it the Second Demographic Transition (the First being the shift from high birth rates and death rates to low ones that began in Europe in the early industrial era and by now encompasses almost every society). In the schema of the Second Demographic Transition, long, stable marriages are out, and divorce or separation are in, along with serial cohabitation and increasingly contingent liaisons. Not surprisingly, this new environment of perennially conditional, no-fault unions was also seen as ushering in an era of more or less permanent sub-replacement fertility.

According to Eurostat, the European Union’s statistical agency, the probability of marriage before age 50 has been plummeting for European women and men, while the chance of divorce for those who do marry has been soaring. In Belgium—the birth-land of the scholars who initially detected this Second Transition—the likelihood of a first marriage for a woman of reproductive age is now down to 40%, and the likelihood of divorce is over 50%. This means that in Belgium the odds of getting married and staying married are under one in five. A number of other European countries have similar or even lower odds.

Europe has also seen a surge in “child-free” adults—voluntary childlessness. The proportion of childless 40-something women is one in five for Sweden and Switzerland, and one in four for Italy. In Berlin and in the German city-state of Hamburg, it’s nearly one in three, and rising swiftly. Europe’s most rapidly growing family type is the one-person household: the home not only child-free, but partner- and relative-free as well. In Western Europe, nearly one home in three (32%) is already a one-person unit, while in autonomy-prizing Denmark the number exceeds 45%. The rise of the one-person home coincides with population aging. But it is not primarily driven by the graying of European society, at least thus far: Over twice as many Danes under 65 are living alone as those over 65.

“Perenially conditional, no-fault unions”. That means that either party can leave at any time, for any reason.

Who is hurt most when marital stability declines?

Kids:

Our world-wide flight from family constitutes a significant international victory for self-actualization over self-sacrifice, and might even be said to mark a new chapter in humanity’s conscious pursuit of happiness. But these voluntary changes also have unintended consequences. The deleterious impact on the hardly inconsequential numbers of children disadvantaged by the flight from the family is already plain enough. So too the damaging role of divorce and out-of-wedlock childbearing in exacerbating income disparities and wealth gaps—for society as a whole, but especially for children. Yes, children are resilient and all that. But the flight from family most assuredly comes at the expense of the vulnerable young.

And the elderly:

That same flight also has unforgiving implications for the vulnerable old. With America’s baby boomers reaching retirement, and a world-wide “gray wave” around the corner, we are about to learn the meaning of those implications firsthand.

In the decades ahead, ever more care and support for seniors will be required, especially for the growing contingent among the elderly who will be victims of dementia, or are childless and socially isolated. Remember, a longevity revolution is also under way. Yet by some cruel cosmic irony, family structures and family members will be less capable, and perhaps also less willing, to provide that care and support than ever before.

I did a quick search for pro-marriage policies and came across an article from USA Today. The author wanted to bash a legislator’s pro-marriage ideas, and to do that she found a single mother to quote who disagrees with pro-marriage policies.

Look:

Indianapolis mother Amanda Louden, 46, has seen parenthood from both married and unmarried standpoints.

She had three sons with her former husband, deciding to marry to be traditional about it and for the convenience of everyone having the same last name. Louden later divorced her husband and had another son with her then-boyfriend.

And she says she doesn’t think marriage made that much of a difference in raising her children.

“It’s really an oversimplification to say that single parenting is bad,” Louden said. “Intact families where both parents are involved in their children’s lives, that’s good. I’m in favor of that. But let’s not demonize families that don’t have that. It’s demonizing people who are doing whatever they can.”

The father of her youngest son didn’t seem ready or interested in a live-in family role, she said. He became less involved and eventually stopped visiting.

Louden is now raising four sons on her own as a single mother. She disagrees that children with married parents are somehow automatically “better” than hers.

If we are serious about marriage, we are going to have to change attitudes like that. We have to get used to responding to people who say that marriage doesn’t matter with real, peer-reviewed evidence. Broken families arise when people think that there are no best practices that should affect their decision making beyond “follow your heart”. Following your heart get no disapproval at all from the culture. Young people often don’t have friends who will challenge them when they are about to make a bad decision. Young people will often seek out peers who agree with them, and avoid parents and other responsible adults who disagree. Peer-approval – that’s how disasters happen. The only way to stop people from messing up their lives is to tell them before they mess up their lives – and that means breaking through “follow your heart” as gently and effectively as possible.

One reason why so many marriages break up is recreational premarital sex.

CNS News explains:

The seeds of this sexual maturity are sown in early childhood, when a child’s married parents model faithful love of each other, guide him or her through modesty to a criteria of selecting a spouse and courting the right young man or woman, eventually leading to marriage and a family of their own. Without this guidance—without married parents who have modeled a healthy, monogamous relationship since the child’s birth—children generally get lost in pre-marital sex, leading to multiple sexual partners before marriage, in turn leading most into cohabitation and later divorce or permanent single parenthood. The culture has lost its sense of sexual morality.

[…][M]ost people do want marriage for themselves and for society; unfortunately, most have severed the connection between premarital chastity and later marriage stability, not knowing that the more sexual partners before marriage the greater the likelihood of divorce.  Ninety-five percent of those whose only sexual partner ever is their spouse are still in their first marriage after five years. This figure drops to 62 percent for women who had one sexual partner other than their husband (before they married), and drops down further to 50 percent for those who had two such sexual partners before marrying their husband.

Therefore, if the nation wants stable marriage, we first must reinvest in shepherding youth to be chaste.  This has become more and more difficult for parents as the sexual principles of radical feminism and sexual autonomy pervades our courts, schools, colleges and media, and sadly, even to some extent in our churches.

Yes, in our churches.

But there’s more to restoring marriage than just confrontation at the one-on-one level. From a policy point of view, we should be voting for policies that promote marriage and child-bearing within marriage. I think we should be giving rewards to married couples who stay together and have children, not to people who want to try any other crazy arrangement that isn’t as good for kids. Not every association of people is as stable and healthy as marriage, and the government shouldn’t be treating these alternatives as we treat the real thing.

You can look over a list of pro-marriage policy ideas here.