FRC Blog

Change Watch Backgrounder: Thomas J. Vilsack

by David Prentice

January 23, 2009

POSITION: SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE

NOMINEE: Thomas J. Vilsack

BIRTH DATE: December 12, 1950 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

EDUCATION:

Bachelor’s degree 1972, Hamilton College in New York

J.D. 1975, Albany Law School

FAMILY: Wife Christie Vilsack; two sons, Jess and Doug

FRC SCORECARD: NA

EXPERIENCE:

Of Counsel, Des Moines office of Minneapolis-based law firm Dorsey & Whitney, May 1, 2007

Candidate for President, Nov 30, 2006-Feb 23, 2007

Governor of Iowa, 1998-2005

Iowa State Senate in 1992

Mayor of Mount Pleasant, Iowa in 1987

ON ABORTION

A Catholic who supports abortion rights”

I oppose abortion, personally. I don’t like abortion. I believe life does begin at conception.”

[source]

Vilsack vetoed a waiting period for abortions and signed a health insurance regulation law without the right to sue he had sought.

[source]

ON CLONING AND STEM CELLS

Several years ago we limited medical research involving nuclear cell transplants [cloning] at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics. At the time we never dreamt that new treatments dependent upon such transplants would be developed so quickly. Well, they have been, and as a result we should revisit our ban on nuclear cell transplants. We should remove the restrictions and allow life saving treatments to be administered to Iowans here in Iowa rather than forcing them to leave our state.”

From 2006 state of the state address

[source]

[NOTE: there have been no treatments developed from nuclear transplant cloning, or from embryonic stem cells; no stem cells have even been obtained from nuclear transfer cloned human embryos.]

Scientists should pursue embryonic stem cell research”

New discoveries require us to think differently and approach things differently,” Vilsack said. “Several years ago we placed on a ban on certain types of medical research involving nuclear cell transplants because we never dreamt the treatments resulting from that research would develop so quickly into life-saving treatments, but they have.”

[source]

 [NOTE: no treatments have been developed using embryonic stem cells, and no clinical trials have yet been approved by the FDA or any foreign regulatory body.]
[Update: the FDA has now approved Geron to begin experiments on patients using embryonic stem cells, starting in the summer of 2009.]

ON HOMOSEXUAL SPECIAL RIGHTS and SAME-SEX MARRIAGE

In April 2000, the legislature repealed Vilsack’s order banning discrimination in state employment against gays lesbians, and transexuals; Vilsack vetoed that and in the fall 22 legislators sued, charging he exceeded his powers-a state judge declared Vilsack’s order invalid.

[source]

I don’t think you necessarily have to redefine marriage to do it. A civil union set of rights would honor that,” Vilsack said. “Marriage is already defined and we don’t need to change it.”

[source]

The Constitution should not be amended to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

[source]

Hosted Governor’s Conference on LGBT Youth. (Feb 2006)

[source]

ON GLOBAL WARMING

… We’ve been ignoring global warming. We’ve been saying it’s not a problem or, … we don’t think it’s scientifically proven. Well, the reality is, the rest of the world knows it’s a problem and we can’t provide any moral leadership until we recognize it’s a problem.”

[source]

The government should regulate greenhouse-gas emissions.

[source]

MISCELLANEOUS

Vilsack was abandoned at birth and placed in a Roman Catholic orphanage. He was adopted in 1951 by Bud and Dolly Vilsack, who raised him in the Roman Catholic faith.

In 2005, Vilsack established Heartland PAC, a political action committee aimed at electing Democratic Governors. In the first report, he raised over half a million dollars.

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Lutherans are for Life

by Robert Morrison

January 23, 2009

I knew the late Richard John Neuhaus when we both served on the national board of Lutherans for Life. As is widely known, Richard began his public ministry as a Lutheran pastor, serving in a mostly black congregation, St. John the Evangelist, in a poor neighborhood in Brooklyn. From there, Richard Neuhaus became a national leader in the civil rights movement, even marching at Selma with Dr. King. It was as Father Neuhaus, a Catholic priest, that Richard coined the famous phrase “welcomed in life and protected in law” to describe our pro-life goals for unborn children. Richard-may God bless his memory—never wavered in his defense of life. He said we were enlisted in the pro-life movement when we were baptized. Amen!

I thought of him yesterday as I attended a worship service at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Alexandria. Dr. Gerald Kieschnick came all the way from the headquarters of The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod in St. Louis to deliver a powerful and moving sermon for life. It meant a great deal to us here in Washington as we face the dread prospect of all three branches of our U.S. Government united to promote the slaughter of the innocents. In fact, Immanuel’s young Pastor Esget used a Reformation-era woodcut of Herod’s soldiers wielding swords against the soft flesh of babies. It was the cover of the church bulletin.

Dr. Kieschnick is the president of the Missouri Synod, a 2.4 million-member church body with more than 6,000 congregations nationwide. His presence among us showed his determination to stand firm on God’s Word, “though devils all the world should fill…”

Interestingly, Immanuel also welcomed a pleasant young man from the Washington advocacy office of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), Andrew Genszler. ELCA has been the largest Lutheran denomination in this country, with more than 5 million members. Many of the good folks in ELCA-pastors and people-are strongly pro-life. But the denomination itself is pro-choice. Worse, ELCA co-owns a Chicago hospital called Christ. It was there that nurse Jill Stanek discovered little victims of live-birth abortions who had been placed in the broom closet in cold metal pans-there to gasp out their young lives in the darkness. Jill held these suffering children as they died, praying for them and singing to them. For her pains, Jill was fired by the administrators of this hospital. As we now know, a famous former Illinois state senator heard her testimony but would not agree with Jill that these dying newborns should be welcomed in life or protected in law.

Andrew Genszler certainly seemed sincere in saying that his large denomination would oppose the so-called Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) as “too extreme.” Such opposition, should it be expressed publicly and strongly, could be a great help. Genszler said ELCA is committed to “reducing abortions.” Our legislative team, however, thinks fatal FOCA is not the most immediate threat to life. They think an incremental strategy of federal funding for abortion and inclusion of abortion in the stimulus package, in national health care are the more real and present dangers.

I certainly hope ELCA will weigh in against these threats, too. During this grand Inaugural week, however, I recalled John F. Kennedy’s eloquent words: “Civility is not a sign of weakness and sincerity is always subject to proof.” I am glad my fellow Lutherans greeted the ELCA representative with civility. ELCA should prove its sincerity by stopping abortions at a Chicago hospital called Christ. We would all then bless them for this act of justice and mercy.

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If you want a friend in Washington, get a GOP

by Family Research Council

January 23, 2009

If you have been reading Tony’s Daily Updates then you know we have been less then happy that the U.S. Senate Republicans have for the most part been making themselves comfortable to be in the Minority for a looong time. They have largely been silent on a number of President Obama’s more controversial nominees, ensuring that the millions of American citizens they represent also have no voice in the U.S. Senate. For those displaced citizens a new website now gives everyone a chance to vote for who will be the White House Farmer

You Can Vote For White House Farmer

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Wisconsin has three residents in the running so far to be recommended as the White House farmer, if President Obama decides to create that position.

Several groups are behind the campaign to have the Obama family plant an organic garden on the White House grounds for use by the first family and also for food pantries that could use some of the produce.

Plans call for the nominees submitted as of January 31st to be narrowed to the top three vote-getters, who will be recommended to the president for the job.

Wisconsin residents among the 20 people nominated include Claire Strader of Troy farmer dog.jpgCommunity Farm at Troy Gardens in Madison, Dela Ends of Scotch Hill Farm near Brodhead and Steve Haak of the Haak Family Farms in Belleville.

On the Net: www.whitehousefarmer.com

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

Since the position does not actually exist maybe you might just want to make your voice heard on what kind of dog the Obama’s should get.

If President Obama needs someone to train the new dog on how to roll over, I know quite a few Senators who can help.

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What Exactly is the Mexico City Policy?

by Family Research Council

January 23, 2009

I’m amazed with the number of people, on both sides of the abortion issue, in the media and definitely in Congress who have no understanding of what the Mexico City Policy is and does. I recently did an NPR interview where the obviously biased reporter asked me a number of “questions” that showed both a bias and a lack of knowledge in the policy. At a House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing in October of 2007 a number of witnesses (including Joana Nerquaye-Tetteh, former executive director of Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana) who support the overturning of the Mexico City Policy had to actually admit ignorance of the policy during the hearing after some intense questioning from Republicans on the Committee.

First a little background. The Mexico City policy was first implemented via a memorandum by President Reagan in 1984 at a United Nations population conference in Mexico City, thus the name Mexico City policy. Prior to President Reagan’s actions American policy on paper was to never promote abortion overseas, however in practice US tax dollars directly supported organizations which advocated and performed abortion. It remained in effect until 1993 when President Clinton rescinded the Mexico City policy on January 22, 1993 for the entirety of his tenure in office. On January 22, 2001, President Bush issued a memorandum restoring the Mexico City policy.

In as little words as possible, the Mexico City policy halts U.S. family planning funds from going to foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that perform abortions or “actively promote” abortion as a method of family planning in other countries.

What does this mean? Under the Mexico City Policy for an NGO to be “actively promoting” abortions means they provide advice and information regarding the availability of abortion or encourage women to consider abortion; lobby a foreign government to legalize or make more available abortion; or conduct a public information campaign regarding the benefits and/or availability of abortion.

That is what NGO’s can’t do. What they CAN still do under the Mexico City Policy is provide referrals for abortion in cases of rape, incest, or where the mother’s life would be endangered if the unborn child were carried to term; and treat injuries or illnesses caused by legal or illegal abortions, i.e., post-abortion care. The argument that the Mexico City Policy is in actually a “global gag rule” is pure and utter nonsense - unless you actually believe that abortion, killing the child in the womb, is a form of family planning.

The effect of President Obama rescinding the Mexico City Policy is that now millions ($461 million in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2008) of dollars are taken away from family planning groups that do not promote abortion, and delivered into the hands of organizations that are the most militant in promoting abortion as a population-control method - especially in countries that find abortion objectionable on moral grounds.

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Daily Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

January 23, 2009

In this edition of the Daily Buzz, we will not only include what we are reading, but a blog roundup from yesterday’s Blogs 4 Life.

Here’s what we are reading today.

Blog Roundup from yesterday’s Blogs 4 Life and March For Life.

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President Obama’s abortion statement

by Family Research Council

January 22, 2009

President Obama released his first official statement on abortion as an occupant of the Oval Office today

On the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we are reminded that this decision not only protects women’s health and reproductive freedom, but stands for a broader principle: that government should not intrude on our most private family matters. I remain committed to protecting a woman’s right to choose.

While this is a sensitive and often divisive issue, no matter what our views, we are united in our determination to prevent unintended pregnancies, reduce the need for abortion, and support women and families in the choices they make. To accomplish these goals, we must work to find common ground to expand access to affordable contraception, accurate health information, and preventative services.

On this anniversary, we must also recommit ourselves more broadly to ensuring that our daughters have the same rights and opportunities as our sons: the chance to attain a world-class education; to have fulfilling careers in any industry; to be treated fairly and paid equally for their work; and to have no limits on their dreams. That is what I want for women everywhere

On first blush, it is nothing new - it follows a pattern in these statements from defenders of Roe v. Wade and its progeny in that it: 1) makes no effort to establish that the Supreme Court was and is properly vested with the power to create and enforce such a “right”; 2) uses the catchphrase “right to choose” without specifying what is being chosen, why there is a right to it, and especially why there is a right to choose something that should not be chosen so often; and 3) links this spurious right with things that most Americans do agree are right and good, particularly equal opportunity for women.

The statement’s “equality” language is meant to dress a mean act of destruction with the high fashion of principle.  The reality of tension and conflict between men and women at all levels is real and serious, within every venue of life.  As to why the ability to abandon the life the two sexes have created to the tender mercies of the abortionist is a guarantor of equality, rather than an abdication of responsibility, the statement does not say.  The small body of a child rests lifeless in this struggle between the sexes.  It is so sad and unnecessary, as the lives of millions of accomplished men and women who both faced their responsibilities and fulfilled their careers attest.  This does not mean the feminist struggle lacks import in the area of reproduction; it surely does.  It only means that abortion is not the answer.  More likely, it is a major part of a very wrong answer.

Where Mr. Obama’s statement is notable is that he repeats the latest of the catchphrases, “the need for abortion,” which was offered up in the 2008 Democratic platform.  It becomes his phrase in a new way now.  For one, it means this issue is not above his pay grade anymore.  There is a “need for abortion.”  If that is so, this practice is in every way distinct from something morally objectionable or inherently wrong.  Who would speak of a “need for human trafficking”?  A “need for child abuse”?  A “need for prostitution”?  There are indeed many sorrows in this Vale of Tears that the law, for prudential reasons, does not address.  Non-obscene pornography for one, perhaps.  But no one but the most radical people speaks of these evils as things for which there is a “need.”

President Obama says he wants to reduce the need for abortion.  But if it is essential to women’s equality, why reduce it?  His policies, deferred today for a few hours, weeks, or - we hope - months, will certainly promote and increase the abortion rate.  Today’s statement says that “we are united in our determination … to support women and families in the choices they make” on this issue, irrespective of “our views.”  Either that is a very presumptive editorial “we” or a very elastic use of the word “support.”  It probably means public funding for both maternity care and abortion.  But most Americans oppose tax funding of abortion.  We as a nation are not “united” in this matter, though President Obama may seek to force a new unity upon us with the chains of appropriations law. 

The best hope is that this portion of his statement is rhetoric.  That he, or other Democrats in Congress who retain some respect for the Hyde Amendment and similar provisions that have kept a wall of conscience between the citizenry and this bloody trade, may yet have a change of heart and allow only those who will death, Planned Parenthood and its friends, to fund death.  Common ground so blood-soaked is not a place where men and women can stand together.  Virtues die in such soil.

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Blogs for Life Video

by Jared Bridges

January 22, 2009

In case you missed it this morning, posted below is the full video of the 2009 Blogs for Life conference. In the coming days, we hope to have the individual speeches segmented, but until then, here’s the entire three hours:

[If you’re reading this via RSS, please visit the site to view the video. You’ll need the the Flash Player, of course.]

It was a great conference with good turnout both online and in person this year, and I’d like to thank all the speakers and attendees who made this year’s event one of the best we’ve had to date. Again, here’s the lineup:

Introduction - emcee Jill Stanek

Peter Shinn and Major Samuel Mosteller, Pro-Life Unity

Shaun Kenney, Executive Director, American Life League

Danny Glover, Blogger/Journalist

Michael New, Ph.D., University of Alabama

Charmaine Yoest, Ph.D., President, Americans United for Life

22 Weeks film preview

Chris Gacek, PhD., J.D.(FRC) and Martha ShupingM.D.

Michael Illions, Conservatives with Attitude!

Amanda Carpenter, Townhall.com

Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kan)

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash)

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Blogs 4 Life Recap from Twitter

by Krystle Gabele

January 22, 2009

In case you missed Blogs 4 Life, there is a great way for you to read (in 140 characters or less) about the event. The Twitter hashtag #B4L has gained some considerable traction today.

Here’s the list of those Twitter-ing from Blogs 4 Life.

Hopefully, you will be able to join the fun next year as we commemorate March for Life 2010 and Blogs 4 Life 2010.

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Blogs for Life 2009

by Jared Bridges

January 22, 2009

The 2009 edition of Blogs for Life is nearly upon us, and the schedule begins tomorrow at 8:30 a.m. as follows:

8:30-8:35: Introduction - emcee Jill Stanek

8:35-8:50: Peter Shinn/Major Samuel Mosteller, Pro-Life Unity

8:50-9:05: Shaun Kenney, Executive Director, American Life League

9:05-9:20: Danny Glover, Blogger/Journalist

9:20-9:35: Michael New, Ph.D., University of Alabama

9:35-9:50: Dr. Charmaine Yoest, Ph.D., President, Americans United for Life

9:50-10:00: Break [22 Weeks film preview]

10:00-10:15: Chris Gacek, PhD., J.D.(FRC) /Martha ShupingM.D.

10:15-10:30: Michael Illions, Conservatives with Attitude!

10:30-10:50: Amanda Carpenter, Townhall.com

10:50-11:10: Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kan)

11:10-11:30: Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash)

if you’re unable to join us in person at 801 G St. NW, you can view the live webcast at this link.

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Change Watch Backgrounder: Timothy Geithner

by Family Research Council

January 21, 2009

POSTION: TREASURY SECRETARY

NOMINEE: Timothy Geithner

Born: Brooklyn, New York, August 18, 1961.

Family: Wife, Carole M. Sonnenfeld, and two children.

Occupation: Partner 9th president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. In that role he also serves as Vice Chairman of the Federal Open Market Committee

Education: M.A. in international economics and East Asian studies from Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies in 1985

Clinton White House: Geithner joined the Department of Treasury in 1988 and worked in three administrations for five Secretaries of the Treasury in a variety of positions.  He was deputy assistant secretary for international monetary and financial policy (1995-1996), senior deputy assistant secretary for international affairs (1996-1997), assistant secretary for international affairs (1997-1998). He was Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs (1998-2001) under Treasury Secretaries Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers. In 2002 he left the Treasury to join the Council on Foreign Relations as a Senior Fellow in the International Economics department. At the International Monetary Fund he was director of the Policy Development and Review Department (2001-2003)

NOTE: “An examination of the record of IMF and World Bank performance in developing countries shows that, far from being the solution to global economic instability and poverty, these two international institutions are a major problem. For one thing, their lending practice deters growth because the money they loan removes incentives for governments to advance economic freedom, and breeds corruption. For these reasons, the vast majority of recipient countries have been unable to develop fully after depending on these institutions for over 40 years.”  Ana I. Eiras, “IMF and World Bank Intervention: A Problem, Not a Solution.” Heritage Foundation.  September 17, 2003.

On the 2001 and 2003 Tax Cuts

Nominee Geithner has little published on his view of how the tax cuts during President George W. Bush’s Administration helped the economy or if they should be repealed.  During the campaign, candidate Obama vowed to repeal the popular tax cuts - though it appears that might now be delayed:

Aides to President-elect Barack Obama suggested on Sunday that he wouldn’t immediately implement a pledged rollback of tax cuts for the top tier of American income earners, because of the worsening economic outlook… During an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Obama economic adviser William Daley suggested that the incoming administration would reconsider whether to quickly increase taxes for Americans earning more than $250,000 per year… David Axelrod, an Obama political strategist who was recently named as one of the president-elect’s senior White House advisers, also suggested during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday” that Obama was considering delaying the tax increase, but he did not elaborate.

In that appearance, and another on ABC’s “This Week,” Axelrod publicly confirmed that Geithner was slated to head the Treasury Department, pending formal nomination and approval by the Senate… Axelrod declined to answer questions about Geithner’s role in some recent policy decisions made during the financial crisis, including one not to provide federal aid to Lehman Brothers. He said Geithner has served as “an early warning system in terms of the need for greater regulation, and has been ahead of the curve on a lot of these issues.” Cam Simpson, “Obama Aides Suggest Rollback of Bush Tax Cuts Could Be Delayed,” Wall Street Journal, November 23, 2008.

On the Current Financial Crisis and Financial Bailouts

Timothy Geithner, 47, has had a seat at the table since the credit crisis erupted in August 2007 and eventually sparked the deep economic downturn the nation is facing now. As a result, at least until his confirmation hearing, he’ll be criticized for having a major role in a government response that hasn’t always instilled confidence in financial markets - even if it prevented a wider financial meltdown.  As the Fed’s man on Wall Street, Mr. Geithner was a key architect of the $30 billion bailout to prevent the bankruptcy of Bear Stearns Cos., leading to charges the government was stoking moral hazard. He shaped the Fed’s lifeline to investment banks that followed, and was among the officials involved in assessing the implications of the troubles around Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Lehman Brothers Holdings, American International Group and numerous other firms (from Wachovia to Citigroup) that have come under market pressure.” WSJ Blog, Who is Timothy Geithner? November 21, 2008

Personal Tax Negligence

Obama said Wednesday that the disclosures that Geithner had failed to pay $34,000 in taxes between 2001 and 2004 were embarrassing, but added that Geithner’s “innocent mistake” shouldn’t keep him from taking the helm of the new administration’s urgent efforts to revive the economy. Several Republicans agreed that Geithner would get Senate approval and said their party had little appetite for a partisan fight at a precarious time for the economy.” Associated Press, “Geithner slowed, not stopped by tax problems,” January 15, 2009

I have a new story on what is, for some senators at least, the most frustrating thing about Treasury Secretary-designate Timothy Geithner’s tax problem: Geithner can’t explain why he did it. Members of the Senate Finance Committee know Geithner failed to pay self-employment taxes during his time at the International Monetary Fund. They know the IMF had repeatedly informed Geithner, as it had all its employees, of his obligation to pay that tax. They know Geithner signed documents saying he would pay the tax. And they know Geithner accepted IMF reimbursement for Social Security and Medicare taxes that he had not, in fact, paid. Geithner paid part of his obligation after a 2006 Internal Revenue Service audit, and the rest of it after he was nominated to become treasury secretary. In all, he paid $42,702 in back taxes and interest.  But why did Geithner, who had been a high-ranking official at the Treasury Department before joining IMF and would go on to head the New York Fed, make those mistakes?  Senators got a chance to ask him in person last Tuesday after committee leadership broke the news to them in a hastily-called meeting …”Since their meeting with Geithner was the first time that most senators had heard of the problem, their questions were not terribly detailed; several of the queries were along the lines of “What were you thinking?” And Geithner’s answers were not terribly satisfying. “He can’t offer a specific reason,” says another source familiar with what went on at the meeting. “He doesn’t really have an answer. He just didn’t know.”  Byron York, Geithner Can’t Explain His Failure to Pay Taxes, NRO The Corner, January 19, 2009.

Miscellaneous

If successfully confirmed by the U.S. Senate and if Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee Charlie Rangel (D-NY) refuses to step aside, that would mean the two people most responsible for crafting U.S. tax policy will both be admitted tax cheats, both claiming “lack of knowledge of the law” as an excuse.  [source]

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