FRC Blog

Daily Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

December 29, 2008

Here’s what we’re looking at today.

An Evangelical Bridge Too Far,” David R. Stokes, Townhall.com (December 28, 2008)

The Separation of Church and State - Reloaded,” Christopher Merola, Townhall.com (December 29, 2008)

Euthanasia Comes to Montana,” Wesley J. Smith, The Weekly Standard (December 29, 2008)

Obama’s Abortion Spending Spree” David N. Bass, The American Spectator (December 29, 2008)

New study finds that abstinence pledging teens still have sex,” Michele Johansen and Lexie Tigre, The San Francisco Examiner (December 29, 2008)

Amateurs are trying genetic engineering at home,”Marcus Wohlsen, Phys.org (December 26,2008)

The Long-Term Effects Of Abortion - Where Is The Media’s Outrage?,” Monte Harms, Stand For Life (December 27, 2008)

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Not So Curious

by Family Research Council

December 29, 2008

F. Scott Fitzgerald is renowned for having written the most famous American novel, The Great Gatsby, which closes with one of literature’s best-known lines, “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” In The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, the boat becomes a man becomes a trope, the story of a human being who is born old and who lives his life in reverse, moving through old age, to maturity, to the prime of life, to adolescence, to childhood, and finally to infancy. Benjamin is literally borne back ceaselessly into what for everyone else would be the past. It’s an extraordinary concept, but does it make an extraordinary film?

For Fitzgerald, the futility of holding on to romance, to beauty, to life itself is implicit in every word and gesture. Moments of exquisite beauty fade instantly as they occur and their fatal aura only sharpens the impressions they leave upon the senses. Southern light lends itself to such uses and the decadent — that is, decaying - atmosphere of New Orleans in the 1920s and ‘30s is overripe for such a story (Fitzgerald’s original was published in 1921, and the film bears little relation to it other than the title). Cinematically, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button captures that evanescent beauty in almost every scene; it is a visually sensual movie that recreates its time in nearly every frame.

For all of that beauty, however, the film is an empty vessel, and Benjamin himself is the reason why. Were it not for the fantastic trajectory of his existence, it is altogether unclear why we should care about his life and not altogether clear that he cares about it either. His very being is the work of an artist’s imagination, but he himself seems to lack an imaginative core. He not only experiences life in reverse, he experiences it passively, whether it is piano lessons, his first sexual experience, his first job as a tugboat hand, the second world war, his first real love, fatherhood, and finally, as an infant, death itself.

The film’s recurring phrase, “You never know what is coming for you,” is apt in a manner the movie may not intend. Things happen to Benjamin, but he is not one to go out to meet them. He passes the lives of others in the night, heading the other way. There is occasional poignancy in this passageway, but it is seldom truly evocative. The performances by the leads, Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, contribute to this quality. Blanchett’s porcelain features and royal bearing reinforce a coolness that contrasts starkly with the vibrancy of the film’s black characters, who alone seem real. Benjamin’s own coolness at the death of his adoptive mother, Queenie, played with power by Taraji Henson, seems merely odd. He behaves like a visitor at her funeral, not like a son.

The narrative flashback form used in the film has been done elsewhere, and better, most notably in another tall tale filled with picaresque Southern elegance, Tim Burton’s Big Fish. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’s framing story, like that of Big Fish, features parent-child tension and death-bed revelations, but the stakes in Burton’s film seem far higher and relate integrally to the movie’s meaning. Peter Finch’s character in Big Fish makes his experiences larger-than-life and those experiences mystically grow to assume the size of his telling; Benjamin Button renders his larger-than-life experiences in a way that seems to diminish them, and he follows them into shrinking significance as the film flows on, like Heraclitus’s river.

Take Burton and its genuine romance, over Button and its curious ennui.

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The Ice and the River on Christmas Night

by Robert Morrison

December 26, 2008

This week, almost all of us will join with our families for Christmas Eve services. We will gather in our family circles on Christmas Day to exchange gifts, to sing carols of joy for the newborn King, and to share Christmas dinners at over-laden tables. This is a good thing to do. And while we are mindful of those who are alone at this time of year, the vast majority of us will be surrounded by our loved ones. We will hopefully be able to put aside the cares of the day, of the preceding weeks. Little thought will be given, or even should be given to the bad economic news of recent months, to political woes, or even to wars and rumors of war.

This precious freedom was not a cheap gift. In this country, the freedom to worship, to speak, freedom from want, and freedom from fear were bought dearly. And that challenge was taken up again and again throughout our history. It is being met today in Iraq and Afghanistan, in the skies, and beneath the seas.

We’re often told that it is too bad we do not have more people engaged in the fight to defend faith, family, and freedom in this country. Far too many, we understand, take for granted all the freedoms we were purchased at a high price.

We could always use more volunteers, more generous supporters, more Christian friends praying that we will make wise use of our resources. We, too, pray that we will make a strong case for the independence and integrity of the church and the family when we are confronted in the public square.

Tonight, though, we should thank you, the few who read this message, who pray, and who lead in your churches and communities. We should have more, but we should always be grateful to the Lord for what we have.

General George Washington could certainly have used twice or three times as many troops when he entered the boats on that ice-choked Delaware River on Christmas Night, 1776. He had with him only 2,400 men. They were freezing. They were wet. Many were sick. Many marched with bleeding feet wrapped in rags, leaving bloody footprints in the snow.

If America had had a military draft in 1776, we could have raised a Continental Army truly worth of the name. We would have seen 300,000 young men called to the colors.

But General Washington crossed the Delaware with less than one percent of that number. Yet, his prayers were answered. With that little band, he bought America’s freedom, he saved a continent.

So to you, our little band of friends and supporters, God bless you. We thank each one of you for your steadfastness, for your generous backing, for your availing prayers. We could achieve nothing without God’s favor and your help. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

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Change Watch: Keeping track of the Obama administration

by Jared Bridges

December 23, 2008

What’s in store for the Obama administration? FRC has been keeping track of the president-elect’s nominees with detailed backgrounders. Here’s the list to date:

There will be more backgrounders to come after the new year. Stay tuned to this spot for more additions.

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The Palace and the Stable

by Robert Morrison

December 23, 2008

It was not too many years ago that all milk in this country came from dairy farmers who milked their cows by hand. To go into a dairy barn in winter was to enter a place of peace and warmth. I remember how my Uncle Bill stripped off his coat, even his shirt, to milk the cows on his Connecticut farm.

I thought of that scene in the dairy barn when my wife and I visited Versailles in France. Queen Marie Antoinette liked to play the role of milkmaid. King Louis XIV built that palace as a monument to his own greatness. He may have styled himself the Sun King, but his palace was freezing. In all their portraits the kings and queens of France are draped in magnificent furs. Fur was the foundation of France’s colonial empire in North America. Rich beaver, mink, and, especially, snow-white ermine pelts were brought back to France from Canada. Those furs in the elaborate portraits were not just for show.  Surrounded as those royals were by gold, marble, and fine crystal, they nonetheless lived in a frigid atmosphere. As much as it delights the eye, all that gold was cold.

At this time of year, we celebrate the birth of the King of Kings. But our Lord Jesus was born in no great palace. However exalted such a birthplace might have been, such palaces were death traps. Many of those little princes of France died of pneumonia. No. our Lord was born in a lowly stable. And we believe that baby Jesus was surrounded at his birth by oxen, donkeys, and other farm animals. His birthplace must have been warm and secure.

Our Heavenly Father knows what we need. He knew where to place His only begotten Son that He might be kept warm and safe. There, in that rude stable, nurtured by His loving Mother, with faithful Joseph the Carpenter standing watch, the Christ Child came into our world.

Jesus’ birth is the most important thing that ever happened in this world. God’s Word became Flesh. Jesus came to conquer sin and death. He came to give us forgiveness of our sins that we might live with Him forever. Compared with this incomparable Truth, what is the significance of princes of finance or commanders of armies, of kings and queens, of presidents and prime ministers? Jesus is Lord. That is the Good News we need. It is the Good News we have received.

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Daily Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

December 23, 2008

Here’s what we’re looking at today:

Quality teachers are key to reform, state report says,” Amy K. Stewart, Deseret News (December 23, 2008)

Biden’s ‘Working Families’ Task Force is Misnomer, Conservative Leader Charges,” Pete Winn, CNSNews.com (December 23, 2008)

A Gamble for Obama… And a Risk for Rick Warren, Too,” E.J. Dionne, Jr., The Washington Post (December 23, 2008)

‘Use of abortion pill on the rise’,” Judy Siegel-Itzkovich, The Jerusalem Post (December 22, 2008)

Healthcare Conscience Rule Could Stir Legal Backlash,” Deborah Kotz, U.S. News & World Report (December 22, 2008)

Planned Parenthood Requests $4.6 Billion from Obama Administration,” Pro-Life News (December 23, 2008)

Dept. of Bah Humbug!,” Paul Greenberg, Townhall.com(December 22, 2008)

Abortion as a Test of Conscience and of Campaign Commitment,” Paul Weyrich, Townhall.com (December 23, 2008)

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Has Commercialism Gone Too Far?

by Krystle Gabele

December 23, 2008

Just when you thought the toymakers could not go any further with crazy toys and ensuring children grow up faster, it appears that there is a new version of Betsy Wetsy on the toy market. There is an overwhelming demand at various retailers for this toy. While I do not have anything wrong with dolls (believe me, I once played with dolls), this doll has gone beyond the original design to more realistic childlike qualities.

According to The Washington Post, this new doll has caused a stir amongst many parents, who either find this doll inappropriate or just feel it is another toy that will be fun for their child. However, you might be wondering if this will have any impact on the child.

With 5,000 toys introduced into the market every year, “what happens is that there’s huge competition to get noticed. And what that means to toys is that they get more and more and more and more outrageous,” said Susan Linn, professor of child psychology at Harvard and director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. “This toy is shocking enough that it’s going to be noticed. But at best, this toy is unnecessary. At worst, it’s really gross.”

But Jim Silver, editor of Time to Play, a Web magazine that reviews toys, says children want reality.

By the time they’re 5 or 6, they don’t want a play cellphone, they want a real cellphone,” Silver said. “A baby doll is all about nurturing. So what Mom went through with them, they want to go through with their dolls. And how do you do real potty training without pooping?” Silver said he laughed when he first saw the pooping dolls and wondered if they were necessary. Although he said he has been sworn to secrecy about next year’s new toys, an early peek shows reality is only going to get more real. “You’re going to see the envelope pushed to make baby dolls as real as possible without being offensive in any way.

It appears that the toy makers do not have any decency when it comes to producing age appropriate products. The fact that you have a toy reviewer indicating that the envelope will be pushed some more by the toy makers, you might wonder what will our children will be subject to next.

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Responding to Guttmacher’s Attack

by Michael New

December 19, 2008

Earlier this month, the Alan Guttmacher Institute attacked my September Family Research Council study which documented the effectiveness of state level pro-life parental involvement laws. They claim that my methodology is ‘faulty.’ They also argue that forcing minors to reveal their pregnancy to their parents places teens at risk of abuse.

In my response I document three studies in peer reviewed journals that show that the overall incidence of abortion among minors declines after the passage of parental involvement laws. Additionally,parental involvement laws protect minors in other ways. Parental involvement laws make it more difficult for child predators to use abortions to cover up their criminal behavior.

Furthermore, many minors seeking abortions without their parents’ knowledge are at risk because they are unaware of their own medical history. In my response, I report cases where minors undergoing abortions died because they experienced an allergic reaction to the anesthesia.

It is for these reasons and others that many district attorneys, law enforcement officials, and groups representing crisis pregnancy centers support pro-life parental involvement laws. Here is a link to my full response [PDF].

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Change Watch Backgrounder: Rahm Emanuel

by David Nammo

December 19, 2008

POSITION: CHIEF OF STAFF                                                        

BIRTH DATE: November 29, 1959

EDUCATION:  Emanuel graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 1981, and received a Master’s Degree in Speech and Communication from Northwestern University in 1985.

FAMILY:   Wife, Amy Rule; Three children: Zachariah Emanuel, Ilana Emanuel, Leah Emanuel

EXPERIENCE:  Rep. Rahm Emanuel is currently the White House Chief-of-Staff designate.  He has been a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Illinois’s 5th District since January 3, 2003.  At the beginning of his second term, Emanuel received an assignment to serve on the House Ways and Means Committee, which oversees taxes, trade, Social Security, and Medicare issues.  Additionally, Emanuel was appointed by then House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi to serve as Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2005 and later as chairman of the House Democratic Caucus in 2007.

Emanuel began his career with the consumer rights organization Illinois Public Action.  He worked on Democrat Paul Simon’s 1984 election to the U.S. Senate and in 1989 served as a senior advisor and chief fundraiser for Richard M. Daley.  Emanuel served as a senior advisor to President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 1998, after directing Clinton’s campaign finance committee.  In the White House, Emanuel was initially Assistant to the President for Political Affairs and then Senior Advisor to the President for Policy and Strategy.

After leaving the White House in 1998, Emanuel served as a managing director at Wasserstein Perella (now Dresdner Kleinwort), where he worked until 2002.  During that time, in 2000, Emanuel was named to the Board of Directors of the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (“Freddie Mac”) by then President Bill Clinton.

Abortion Record

Taxpayer Funded Abortion:  Emanuel supports taxpayer funded abortion and co-sponsored a bill that ensured access and taxpayer funding for abortion and abortion providers like Planned Parenthood.  Prevention First Act. H.R.819; http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:HR00819:@@@P

Partial-Birth Abortion:  Emanuel voted more than once against the ban on Partial-Birth Abortion, despite the bill having an exception to save the mother’s life.  Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, H.R. 760, June 4, 2003, http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2003/roll242.xml; S3, Oct. 3, 2003, http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2003/roll530.xml.

Parental Notification:  Emanuel supports allowing teenagers to be transported across state lines to obtain an abortion without a parent’s (or guardian’s) knowledge.  He voted against the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act on two occasions.  The bill would have restricted the interstate transport of minors for the purpose of obtaining an abortion, if by doing so the minor would be evading a home-state parental notice or consent law.  H R 748, April 27, 2005, http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2005/roll144.xml; S 403, Sept. 26, 2006, http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2006/roll479.xml.

Human Embryonic Stem-Cell Research:  Emanuel voted twice to expand federal funding of human embryonic stem-cell research by amending the Public Health Service Act.  Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2007, H.R. 3, Jan. 11, 2007, http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2007/roll020.xml; Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005, H.R. 810, May 24, 2005, http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2005/roll204.xml

Human Cloning:  Emanuel voted against a ban on cloning human beings and supported an amendment to allow human cloning for reproduction and medical research. H.R. 534 (H AMEND 5), Feb. 27, 2003, http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2003/roll039.xml.

Unborn Victims:  Emanuel voted against the Unborn Victims of Violence Act (Laci and Conner’s Law), which proposed to make it an added criminal offense for someone to injure or kill a child in the womb while carrying out a crime against a pregnant woman. H.R. 1997, Feb. 26, 2004, http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2004/roll031.xml.

Emanuel received a 100% rating from the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL). http://www.prochoiceamerica.org/assets/files/final-2007-voting-record.pdf

Homosexuality

Homosexual Marriage:  Emanuel twice voted against a U.S. constitutional amendment defining marriage as one-man-one-woman. H.J. Res. 88, July 18, 2006, http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2006/roll378.xml; H.J.Res.106, Sep 30, 2004, http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2004/roll484.xml

Sexual Orientation Special Rights:  Emanuel voted to add sexual orientation to U.S. civil rights law protecting against discrimination based on sex, race and religion.  The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) would make it unlawful to discriminate against an individual on the basis of actual or perceived sexual orientation, including actions based on the actual or perceived sexual orientation of a person with whom the individual associates or has associated.  H.R. 3685, Nov. 13, 2007,  http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2007/roll1057.xml.

Same-sex Benefits:  Emanuel co-sponsored the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act of 2007, which would extend benefits to domestic partners of Federal employees.  H.R. 4838, http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:HR04838:@@@P

Emanuel received a 100% vote rating from the pro-homosexual Human Rights Campaign. http://www.hrc.org/documents/Congress_Scorecard-110th.pdf

Taxes

Marriage Tax Penalty:  Emanuel voted against the bill that would have permanently removed the Marriage Tax Penalty from the federal income tax code.  The bill would have amended the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to permanently extend the marriage penalty relief provided under the Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001.  H.R. 4181, April 28, 2004, http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2004/roll138.xml.

Immigration

Driver’s Licenses:  Emanuel voted against the Real ID Act, which set minimal security requirements for state driver’s licenses and identification cards. H.R. 418, Feb. 19, 2005, http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2005/roll031.xml.  

Illegal Aliens:  Emanuel voted against the Undocumented Immigrant Emergency Medical Assistance, which would have required hospitals to report (to the federal government) illegal aliens who receive emergency medical treatment.  H.R. 3722, May 18, 2004, http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2004/roll182.xml.

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