September 26, 2008
In case you missed it, Dutch swimmer Maarten van der Weijden won the gold medal in the men’s open-water swim marathon. His win is significant in itself, but even more so because just 7 1/2 years ago he was in a desperate struggle, battling leukemia. He won that battle because of an adult stem cell transplant. The gold medalist is only one of thousands of lives saved by adult stem cells, the only stem cell showing any success with patients.
September 26, 2008
Today was the last day to comment on the proposed Health and Human Services Regulations protecting physicians’ conscience. My commentary on the issue of conscience can be found here.
September 24, 2008
What do the Center for Reproductive Rights have in common with totalitarianism? The suppression of conscience.
In the name of “choice” CRR is asking people to oppose the rights of conscience of those in health care who do not want to have anything to do with abortion or any other procedure or technology which the professional deems immoral.
Rather than being sensitive to the differing conscientious stands that citizens and professionals will be taking on divisive issues, CRR and its allies are pushing to ride roughshod over the consciences of professionals.
This tendency is on the increase in advocacy organizations and needs to be labeled for what it really is … the American form of totalitarianism. In this they join the ranks of those who followed Lenin, Hitler and Mao.
It is time for all, no matter where they stand on the public issues of morality, to at minimum not violate the conscience of anyone. If we lose that we lose one of the foundations of a humane society, and we can forget democracy.
September 24, 2008
The Presidential Volnteer Service Award was bestowed upon a well deserved group of organizations and individuals, including Heartbeat International and Care Net affiliated pregnancy centers, last week. Daily coming alongside women and men in need of emotional, educational, and informational support and services, pregnancy care centers exemplify compassionate outreach across the country. The movement represents unsung servants of care and a model for faith-based efforts.
September 23, 2008
It seems that schools are increasingly employing costly metal detectors in efforts to deter students from bringing knives or other weapons to school, as recent reports from Chicago and Pittsburgh area high schools remind us.
According to the federal survey data described in the latest Mapping America, a much more cost-effective way to prevent suspension and expulsion offenses such as these is an intact married family that worships frequently.
September 18, 2008
Apparently the mysteriously funded Pokers Players Alliance and their lobbyists are ready to celebrate their win yesterday in the House Finance Committee of stopping implementation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. As a public service announcement I thought I should let people know of the venue change.
Subject: LOCATION CHANGE —- Happy Hour Tonight!
There was a miscommunications with the folks at Beck and they double
booked the space they had for us tonight! So don’t go to Brasserie
Beck. We are now meeting at the not so new Bobby Van’s Grille, who were
able and happy to accommodate our happy hour on short notice. We still
have an open bar and food (just without the Belgian flair), and look
forward to seeing you this evening! Sorry for the change.
Again, it at the Grill not the restaurant, 1201 New York Ave NW. We
will have the back room by the bar on the main level.
Greenberg Traurig LLP
From: Urrea, Alex C. (Assoc-DC-GovAffairs)
Sent: Wednesday, September 17, 2008 1:15 PM
To: Urrea, Alex C. (Assoc-DC-GovAffairs)
Subject: Happy Hour Tonight
Please join the IGC and PPA this evening at Brasserie Beck to celebrate
and thank you for our team victory in Committee yesterday.
This will be a “widely attended event” that complies with ethics rules.
Please feel free to invite your office colleagues and co-workers.
So come one, come all to 1101 K St, NW and ask for the PPA Happy Hour.
We will be arriving around 6pm TONIGHT.
Thanks and see you then,
Greenberg Traurig LLP
Let us hope this is as premature as their victory dance after the Republican Platform.
I am curious how exactly a quickly put together “Happy Hour” complies with ethics rules as a “widely attended event?”
September 17, 2008
Congress can sometimes be likened to when your young children try to make you breakfast. There is a flurry of activity trying to obtain the objective but by the time they are finished all you are left with is an unpalatable mess that you (the taxpayer) are left to clean up. At least in the case of your children you can admire their good intentions, not as much with Congress.
In the Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank brought up a new bill (the eighth this Congress) to undermine the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) that was passed overwhelmingly in the 109th Congress. Chairman Franks, working closely with the foreign based Internet gambling industry, crafted his legislation to allow all forms of Internet gambling, except for sports betting, until an Administrative Law Judge with the Federal Reserve Board decides what the definition of “unlawful Internet gambling” should be. Needless to say, that could take years and this is meant to totally gut the effect of the law just passed last Congress. Chairman Frank unsuccessfully sought to divide and conquer the unique coalition of national and state family groups, religious organizations, every major sports association, many major financial organizations and the National Association of Attorneys by granting numerous exemptions. However, the bill still holds the same destructive goal of overruling state laws and opening the door for destructive Internet gambling into people’s homes. Representative Franks’ claimed he was trying to “clarify” the original UIGEA, however considering the time and effort he has put into overturning current law in relation to Internet gambling, his true motives are pretty clear. Chairman Frank’s bill was voted out by the Democratically-controlled Committee and Members of the full House of Representatives need to know to vote against this bill if it reaches the House floor.
Meanwhile in the full House the Democratic Leadership agreed to a vote on energy however avoided the bipartisan H.R. 6566, “American Energy Act,” and instead passed legislation, H.R. 6899, which does nothing to advance America‘s energy concerns. The Democrat’s plan allows for offshore drilling, but only more then fifty miles offshore, where very few oil reserves are known to exist! The drill makes permanent any ban on drilling closer to shore, and also calls for higher taxes on energy producing companies. The Senate is expected to take up either this bill or a similar one, though President Bush has threatened to veto the House bill.
Talking of the Senate, the Defense Authorization bill passed cloture yesterday, meaning the vote will be forthcoming. Hate crimes wasn’t even an issue this time around - clearly the Democrats seeing it too hot a political issue to push right before an election. A number of Republicans (including Senators Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) voted against cloture because Senator Reid refused to allow Senator DeMint’s amendment that would strike Section 1002, and restore the effect of the President’s executive order to ensure all earmarks in committee reports are subjected to a competitive, merit-based review. This would allow agencies to continue funding worthy projects, while stopping wasteful earmarks and directing the tax dollars to real priorities. With the right amount of pressure, Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.) might allow for a vote on Senator DeMint’s amendment.
This brings us to the Queen of Tabloid Television, Ms. Oprah Winfrey. This is the first year Ms. Winfrey has dipped her foot into the political arena by endorsing a Presidential candidate, and she must have liked the feel of it for she is now working to pass legislation she supports. Earlier this week Oprah did a show on S. 1738, “The PROTECT Our Children Act” which she says is being held up by “partisan politics” and she is urging people to call Senators to pass the bill now.
We did some digging for Ms. Winfrey and found out that “The PROTECT Our Children Act” is one of the over 30 bills that Senator Reid combined into one large “Omnibus Bill” in an effort to get passed legislation that while not allowing for ample floor debate on the issues that are within the multitude of bills. If “The PROTECT Our Children Act” alone was brought up today, with no other bills attached to it, there would be no opposition to it and it would be allowed a straight up or down vote. However since it is attached to all these other bills, many of which good people oppose on being wasteful or unnecessary, is why it is controversial.
FRC’s position on the legislation is currently neutral, however if constituents want to support the bill they need to call Senator Reid’s office at 202-224-5556 or e-mail his office here and not the full Congress as Ms. Winfrey suggests, and tell Senator Reid to cut out the partisan games and allow “The PROTECT Our Children Act” passed as a stand alone bill.
If you are wondering what big issues Oprah is tackling today it is “Oscar winner Gwyneth Paltrow reveals how she got her body in fabulous shape! Then, Iron Chef Mario Batali and the 15-minute meal you can make at home!”
September 16, 2008
A recent Hartford Advocate story reported on the shockingly high number of school suspensions in the Hartford, Connecticut school district (19 percent). In the report, Marc Porter-McGee of New Haven-based Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now argues that one of the reasons for the high number of out-of-school suspensions is a breakdown in discipline: “Discipline isn’t something that comes when something goes wrong. It comes through every (contact) an adult has with that student, the expectations that are set and consistency with which they’re set.”
Certainly one of the most effective sources of loving but firm discipline in a student’s life is the family. In the latest Mapping America, federal survey data reveals that one of the most protective factors against school suspensions and expulsions is an intact married family. Another protective factor is frequent religious attendance.
September 10, 2008
All the recent hullabaloo over Gov. Palin’s son with Down syndrome, Trig, has reminded me of an excellent recent book: Worth and Welfare in the Controversy over Abortion, by Christopher Miles Coope.
Coope, a medical ethicist by practice and a philosopher of psychology and language by training, does an interesting job of evaluating the ethics of abortion (writ large, consciously bypassing so-called “hard cases”) by taking a somewhat peripatetic approach, avoiding the dogmatism that often comes from a consciously systematic metaphysics.
Coope admits that he “recently” came to the question of abortion in a serious way. In his youth he considered it some, falling into the secularist camp of Glanville Williams more than anything else. He went on to make a philosophical career without giving the matter much thought. Then:
I dare say the matter never crossed my mind until, many years later, my wife was pregnant with our fourth child. Since she was then well in her thirties she was of course offered ‘the tests.’ Well, who wants a damaged baby? I was, I remember, quite anxious that the chromosomes should carefully be counted. I just refused to consider what if. Distressing choices, I must have said to myself, should not be faced while it was still unsettled whether the question arose. In dedicating the book to the memory of the child in question, my son and good friend Nicholas, who died on the cliffs of Glen Cova while I was writing it, I cannot help but thinking back to these beginnings. I am acutely aware that had ‘the tests’ turned out differently, he might well have been killed by doctors, with my connivance, before he was born. Luck saved him - and me. How many there are who have not been lucky.
Through his recognition of the moral and emotional difficulties inherent in prenatal testing as it exists today-namely in its propensity to lead towards destruction of “damaged” babies-the rather liberal Coope decided to give us a splendid book. Likewise, it is hard to see Gov. Palin’s meteoric rise with Trig at her side and not conclude that her decision to have and to raise a child with Down syndrome has struck a public chord in some way or another. All this leads me to think there is, culturally, more under the surface on this facet of the abortion debate than meets the eye.
September 9, 2008
First, let me thank all of you who have been praying for my family and for all the families of Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Gustav. I also want to thank the churches from around the country that have responded once again by sending much-needed supplies and help. Secondly, let me apologize for not keeping you updated on what has transpired over the last week in Louisiana.
This storm, while not as spectacular as Katrina, impacted more Louisianans and has done extensive damage to homes and businesses in multiple parishes. The Baton Rouge area was one of the hardest hit. Gustav caused much greater damage to Louisiana’s power infrastructure than Katrina did — over two-thirds of Louisiana was without power in the hours after Gustav. Nearly one quarter of the population remains without power, and it could be more than two weeks before power is restored to the entire state.
Being without power doesn’t sound like a big issue, but when it is so widespread it quickly creates a crisis. No electricity not only means lack of refrigeration of food, but also lack of fuel for vehicles. For those few gas stations that were able to acquire generators and pump fuel, the lines in some cases were nearly a mile long. Without power, sewage and water facilities were incapacitated, creating problems for drinking water is some parishes.
This crisis once again gave the Church the opportunity to respond to the real and pressing needs of people, an opportunity they immediately seized. I spent this past week first of all helping PRC Compassion pastors and Gene Mills, the executive director of the Louisiana Family Forum, organize and coordinate the church response. A few days into the crisis, Governor Bobby Jindal asked me to assist the Commissioner of Administration, Angela Davis, in getting food to the hardest hit areas of the state.
Governor Jindal is a friend of mine with whom I worked closely during my time in the legislature when he was the Secretary of the Department of Health and Hospitals. Having the opportunity to work alongside him and his staff in the last several days from sun-up to past sundown, I am greatly encouraged and impressed with his leadership and the dedication of his staff to getting essential relief to the citizens of the state and restoring critical infrastructure.
The rebuilding process is just beginning as officials keep one eye on the Gulf for more potential hurricanes this summer. Please continue to pray for the governor and his dedicated staff. As my schedule allows, I hope to continue to assist when and where needed. For now I am back in the saddle at FRC speaking to a gathering of pastors in New Hampshire and heading to New York to appear on the Lou Dobbs television show. It is only appropriate for me to thank my extremely capable staff, headed by Chuck Donovan, for holding down the fort in my absence.