FRC Blog

Arrested Illinois Gov. Blagojevich and Embryonic Stem Cells

by David Prentice

December 10, 2008

As a sidelight, here is a brief history of arrested Illinois Gov. Blagojevich’s moves to promote human embryonic stem cell research and cloning, starting with his own slush fund for the research in 2005.

July 2005—Executive order to set up $10 million fund

August 2005—Gov. Blagojevich sends a letter to scientists in Missouri, where debates are raging over embryo research and cloning, inviting them to move to Illinois.

March 2006—He removes legislative oversight of his embryonic stem cell research program.

July 2006—Blagojevich again uses his executive power to fund embryonic stem cell research, over the objections of the Illinois legislature.

Blagojevich says he won’t let a lack of legislative support keep him from spending tax money on what he considers a vital need.”

August 2007—Blagojevich finally gets the Illinois legislature to pass a bill authorizing human embryonic stem cell research and cloning.

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If NAE’s Rich Cizik Doesn’t Speak for Them, Who Does He Speak For?

by Tony Perkins

December 10, 2008

The president of the National Association of Evangelicals, Leith Anderson, has been trying to reassure the association’s board and members that the NAE hasn’t left the reservation on the issues of life and marriage. The reason? Because NAE’s vice president for governmental affairs left the reservation - a long time ago!

In a recent interview with NPR’s “Fresh Air,” Cizik stated he voted for President-elect Obama and said, “I think it’s (faith) very important, but it is not the factor nor should it be [when voting]…” Cizik said the same thing about issues like life: “It’s possible for me to disagree with a candidate on high-profile issues and still believe that on a basis of character or philosophy he is the better of two candidates.” When asked by the host, Terry Gross, if his efforts to identify with younger voters and their priorities had caused him to change his view on gay marriage he said, “I’m shifting, I would have to admit.  In other words I would willingly say I believe in civil unions.  I don’t officially support redefining marriage from its traditional definition, I don’t think.”

This revelation should not come as a surprise. This is the risk of walking through the green door of environmentalism and global warming - you risk being blinded by the green light and losing your sense of direction. How else can you explain enthusiastic support for what will probably be the nation’s most pro-abortion, anti-family president in our nation’s 232 year history?

The question, however, remains. If Cizik does not speak for the NAE, as the Rev. Anderson has said, why is he on Capitol Hill representing NAE and claiming to speak for Evangelicals? Is it possible for a human being to come with a disclaimer?

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Newsweek, or Opinion Weak?

by Peter Sprigg

December 10, 2008

Newsweek has declared war on marriage. That is the only way to interpret its publishing a lengthy cover story by Lisa Miller that rehashes a laundry list of unoriginal arguments in favor of same-sex “marriage.” There are so many logical and theological errors in this piece that we felt it deserved a detailed, point-by-point rebuttal. FRC’s President, Tony Perkins, and Vice President for Policy, the Rev. Peter Sprigg, collaborated in preparing this piece

 

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If FOCA is passed, then Catholic Hospitals are in Danger of Closing

by Krystle Gabele

December 9, 2008

This morning, I read an article in The Washington Examiner about how the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) would be a huge threat to Catholic health care systems, not just in Maryland, but around the nation. 

Barack Obama has pledged the very first thing he would sign into law would be legislation aimed towards making abortion legal throughout the pregnancy and place the burden on taxpayers to cover this horrific procedure.

With this type of legislation being possibly enacted, many bishops are considering closing Catholic hospitals.  At a recent general meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Chicago Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Paprocki said, “We may need to consider taking the drastic step of closing our Catholic hospitals entirely.”  In Maryland, there are eight hospitals that would be threatened, including St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson, which is nationally renowned for their cardiac care center.

According to our own government affairs department here at FRC, Maryland, along with six other states has legislation similar to FOCA.

In Maryland , FOCA-type legislation has been on the books since 1991.   According to Planned Parenthood’s Alan Guttmacher Institute, the abortion rate in the United States DECREASED nine percent since 2000 to 19.4 abortions per 1,000 women of reproductive age in 2005.  By contrast, the state of Maryland in 2005 produced a rate of 31.5 abortions per 1,000 women of reproductive age, an INCREASE of eight percent since 1991.”

Hopefully, Congress will use common sense and not pass such a detrimental piece of legislation that would threaten quality medical care straight across the board.

 

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Higher Education’s Broken Business Model

by Chris Gacek

December 8, 2008

    Jay Ambrose has written an important column about a recent study publicizing the skyrocketing costs of higher education.  Ambrose’s article discussed the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education’s recent report, “Mearusing Up 2008”.  “Measuring Up” makes it clear that the higher education business model is broken - like a lot of American institutions, it seems.  These hard realities are underscored by the current economic downturn.

    From 1982-2007, college costs increased 439% while median family income went up only 147%.  Of course, such numbers are always subject to various adjustments and corrections, but that it is a huge disparity that reflects what we have all observed.  College costs are out of control. The New York Times has also discussed the report here and here.

    Ambrose notes that some leaders in the educational establishment want more government money, but he correctly points out that “government assistance and student loan programs have contributed to the inflationary spiral at these institutions already, supporting them in their bad, old ways and keeping them from needed reform.”  There is a great deal of truth in this observation.

    Finally, Ambrose reiterates a point made by Charles Murray of the American Enterprise Institute, and with which I agree, that a major restructuring of college education may be in the offing.  It may be time for us to consider training professionals - like accountants, financial advisers, software engineers, nurses - with a combination of online education and apprenticeships.  A larger point is this:  the universal four-year liberal arts education may have become economically untenable given the debt levels students are being forced to bear post-graduation.  If the federal government would like to do something, it should construct aid programs that force colleges to compete for federal aid monies and students based on affordable tuition prices and cost containment.

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Change Watch Backgrounder: Eric Holder, Jr.

by Family Research Council

December 8, 2008

POSTION: ATTORNEY GENERAL

NOMINEE: Eric Holder, Jr.

Born: New York City, Jan. 21, 1951.

Family: Wife, Dr. Sharon Malone, and three children.

Occupation: Partner in the Washington, D.C., law firm Covington & Burling

Education: Doctorate from Columbia Law School in 1976

Judicial appointment: President Reagan nominated Holder for associate judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia in 1988; served five years.

Clinton White House: Nominated by President Clinton in 1993 for U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, a position he held for four years; appointed Clinton’s deputy attorney general in 1997.

Hate Crimes

Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder testified in support of the legislation, indicating that it would strengthen federal-state law enforcement capabilities without encroaching upon state responsibilities. He also denied the claim, made by some federal officials in the past, that the federal law enforcement agencies would be overwhelmed if the bill were passed to include new hate crime categories prohibiting bias crimes based sex, sexual orientation and disability.” NOW website, June 7, 1999

Prosecution of Porn Peddlers

Some civil libertarians worry that Eric Holder will be inclined to continue the Bush administration’s crusade against pornography. They cite a June 1998 memo in which he told U.S. attorneys that obscenity prosecutions should focus on “cases involving large-scale distributors who realize substantial income from multistate operations and cases in which there is evidence of organized crime involvement” but added that “cases involving relatively small distributors can have a deterrent effect.” The Clinton administration’s actual track record in this area, however, consisted almost entirely of cases involving child pornography. “We continue to make these [child porn] cases a priority,” Holder says in the memo. Social conservatives often complained that the Clinton administration was not interested in taking on pornography made by and for consenting adults. We probably can look forward to hearing such complaints again under the Obama administration.”  [source]

Elian Gonzalez Fiasco

Mr. Holder said his agents were heavily armed when they entered the house because they had ‘intelligence that the possibility existed there were guns in the house. We had to make sure our people were protected and they were in a position to protect people within the house. I don’t know if there were any guns in the house. I don’t know if they found any guns. We had to deal, however, with the intelligence we had that we got from local sources and make sure everybody was adequately protected.’ Apparently no guns were found.” (Jerry Seper and Clarence Williams, “Holder Defends Sudden Raid For Elian,” The Washington Times, 4/24/00)

Bill Clinton’s Presidential Pardons

Holder played a major role in the decision to grant clemency to 16 former members of the Puerto Rican terrorist group the Armed Forces Of National Liberation (FALN). “Holder …has played major roles in the probe of Democratic funny-money in the 1996 elections, the Sexgate scandal and the recommendation to President Clinton on whether to free FALN terrorists from jail. A list of FALN documents withheld from Congress shows that many memos on the FALN clemency decision went directly to Holder, while Reno’s role was minimal.” (Brian Blomquist, “Ailing Reno Yielding Reins Of Justice,” New York Post, 12/15/99)

As deputy attorney general under President Clinton, Mr. Holder reviewed the last-minute pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich.” (Jim McElhatton, “GOP Hits Another Obama Adviser,” The Washington Times, 6/13/08)

Second Amendment

As Deputy Attorney General, Holder was a strong supporter of restrictive gun control. He advocated federal licensing of handgun owners, a three day waiting period on handgun sales, rationing handgun sales to no more than one per month, banning possession of handguns and so-called ‘assault weapons’ (cosmetically incorrect guns) by anyone under age of 21, a gun show restriction bill that would have given the federal government the power to shut down all gun shows, national gun registration, and mandatory prison sentences for trivial offenses (e.g., giving your son an heirloom handgun for Christmas, if he were two weeks shy of his 21st birthday). He also promoted the factoid that ‘Every day that goes by, about 12, 13 more children in this country die from gun violence’—a statistic is true only if one counts 18-year-old gangsters who shoot each other as ‘children.’ (Sources: Holder testimony before House Judiciary Committee, Subcommitee on Crime, May 27, 1999; Holder Weekly Briefing, May 20, 2000.) After the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the D.C. handgun ban and self-defense ban were unconstitutional in 2007, Holder complained that the decision “opens the door to more people having more access to guns and putting guns on the streets.” [source]

US Attorney Mixed Record?

Eric Holder gets good national press, but some of those who know something about his activities in DC know better. As a lackluster local US Attorney, he not only sat on information concerning police and water department corruption, his staff regularly signed off on excessive police overtime to keep cops friendly to the prosecutors. Holder was also instrumental in getting law changes that made jury trials more difficult for certain defendants.” - Progressive Review, 1998

One of Holder’s predecessors, Joseph DiGenova, says, “When you have corruption staring you in the face, and you fail to act, you should resign. You can’t worry about judgeships or your next job. And this from former city auditor Otis Troupe: “For years, in audit after audit, and in newspaper article after newspaper articles, we have established fact patterns that constitute crimes. And in all but a handful of case, nobody did anything in the prosecutor’s office.” - Progressive Review, 1997

As US Attorney, Eric Holder was the guy who indicted Dan Rostenkowsi and was responsible for his eventual conviction.

Waco

There have been questions about his role in the Justice Department’s conduct in Waco: “The federal prosecutor who raised questions about a possible Justice Department cover-up in the Waco standoff was abruptly removed from the case along with his boss, according to a court filing made public Tuesday.
Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder recused U.S. Attorney James W. Blagg in San Antonio and assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Johnston in Waco, Texas, from any further dealings in criminal or civil proceedings related to the siege.
Holder appointed the U.S. attorney in a neighboring district as a “special attorney to the U.S. attorney general.” Michelle Mittelstadt, September 14, 1999, Associated Press,

Miscellaneous

His firm, Covington and Burling, lobbies for the NFL and was a major player in the passage of the Internet Gambling bill.  Eric Holder did not play any part in those negotiations.

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In the Second Week of Advent, Newsweek Gave to Me…

by Michael Fragoso

December 8, 2008

Via the Corner, there is this profoundly misleading piece from Newsweek on marriage and the Bible.  In it, Lisa Miller attempts to go through the Bible bit by bit, showing how “Biblical” marriage is a ridiculous construct that no reasonable person would want-polygamy in the Old Testament, and Pauline prudishness in the New.  In the end, we should just adopt the Bible’s narrative of “inclusion” to be good Christians and accept same-sex marriage. 

Just to take one of her points: are self-described “Biblical” Christians bound to the polygamy of the Patriarchs?  Of course not.  In the 10th Century, Aelfric, Abbot of Eynsham, was asked to translate the first seven books of the Bible by his king into what is now known as Old English.  In his preface to the Book of Genesis he expresses his unease at such a task, worried that those who do not understand the canons of Scriptural Interpretation might misunderstand facts of the Old Testament.  Certain Biblical actions followed “the customs of the age” but were robustly condemned by the contemporary Church and had been since its inception, such as the polygamy of the Patriarchs or the attempted sacrifice of Isaac.  Aelfric notes that those who hear these stories should not be allowed to dwell on the literal actions of the Patriarchs, but rather on the educative functions: such as polygamy as representing the fecundity of the Church, or the sacrifice of Isaac prefiguring Christ on the cross.  Instead, he feared, any powerful Saxons who had this read to them by an unthinking priest-as the non-clerical classes were largely illiterate at the time-would see Genesis as a license to commit polygamy or engage in human sacrifices, against the expressed teachings of their Church, but with an apparent “Biblical” mandate. 

Likewise, all of Miller’s “novel” objections to St. Paul’s famous “It is better to marry than to burn” line* or questions about Christ’s evident chastity have been answered countless times throughout Christian history, but that doesn’t stop her from making them as if she’s done something terribly groundbreaking in the process.

Frankly, dealing any more with Miller’s specifics would not be at all fruitful.  She elides much of the New Testament, and her history is reliant on the quotably wrong Stephanie Coontz.  Where does one begin to answer imputations that King David was a homosexual?  How can one comprehend-let alone respond to-an argument that first apparently admits Christ’s virgin birth and then proceeds to equate the Holy Family to “Jesus has two (Immaculate) Mommies”?  The Bible is simply a weapon-at-hand for her preferred policy ends.  She’s the sort of person Aeflric was worried about. 

*It is worth noting that even here Miller’s translation betrays a prejudice.  She takes St. Paul to mean “burn with passion.”  Perhaps.  He also might mean “burn [in Hell].”  The early Fathers were divided on the issue, as were many prominent glossators.  It’s funny how the inconvenient, morally absolute reading-found in King James, among other translations-doesn’t get picked up by Miller. 

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