Family Research Council
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?”
Family Research Council
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.
September 5, 2008
I now have better access to internet. Here is the latest official information on what is happening (in short). The Governor has asked for me to assist in coordinating volunteer food relief. The need is overloading state government resources. Here is our biggest need: mobile food kitchens and food. As of last night at the joint command meeting, which I am now attending, a little under 1/2 of the state was without power. That is changing by the hour, but some areas will be 3-4 weeks before power is restored, especially in South Louisiana.
Beyond food kitchens, basic food staples that can be cooked is needed: beans, rice, meat (with refrigeration truck). Contributions can be sent to PRCCompassion.net.
September 3, 2008
The American Medical Association released a much-discussed report a few months back on the deleterious effects of alcohol abuse on brain development in children, adolescents, and college students. Those effects included a 10 percent smaller hippocampus, the memory and learning center of the brain, as well as damage to the reasoning and decision-making areas of the brain.
In the latest Mapping America, federal survey data illustrate that the first and most fundamental protections against adolescent alcohol abuse are frequent religious attendance and married parents.
September 1, 2008
Unfortunately, I had to cut short what was really shaping up to be a very productive trip to Minneapolis, Minnesota Sunday afternoon in order to return to Baton Rouge for hurricane Gustav that is scheduled to make landfall later this morning. The good news is that several members of the FRC team are still on site to participate in the many events taking place this week and I am confident that they are able to more than cover for me while I am down here taking care of the family and assisting where needed if relief efforts are required.
Before heading south I was extremely encouraged Sunday morning by Pastor Steve Goold and the folks at New Hope Church just outside of Minneapolis where I spoke at two services Sunday morning. New Hope Church is one of the hundreds of churches across the country that is partnering with FRC to make a difference in our nation.
Back to Gustav. Before taking off I checked in with Governor Jindal’s staff in Louisiana and was amazed at how things have changed since Katrina three years ago. Not a single detail has been left unaddressed by Governor Jindal’s team. Of course the Federal response has vastly improved as well. There has also been advance coordination with churches and other non-government entities involved in relief efforts to make sure they were equipped and prepared to handle evacuees and first responders.
Unprecedented preparations have been made, now we pray and just wait out the storm.
August 28, 2008
By the time Nancy Pelosi digs herself out of the hole her abortion comments have gotten her into, she’ll likely have reached some of the crude oil she’s keeping off the market.
In defending her utterly baffling assertion that the “doctors of the Church” never were in agreement on when life begins she now cites some lesser commentary by St. Augustine (Questiones de Exodo), which states, “the law does not provide that the act [abortion] pertains to homicide, for there cannot yet be said to be a live soul in a body that lacks sensation.”
One gets the impression that Pelosi had some vague memory about Augustine on abortion and then some poor staffer had to go digging around the endnotes of Michael Gorman’s Abortion & the Early Church (a pretty reliable little book, I might add). I’m now curious to know if Pelosi ascribes to all of Augustine’s positions, or merely those that appear to be convenient to her. Is it wrong to cry over sad love stories? Must sex always have a reproductive intent? What’s the moral status of concubinage? Is slavery always wrong?
Never mind the fact that Augustine still thought embryonic abortion was immoral (see On Marriage and Concupiscence), and later in life complicated his own earlier views on ensoulment. The fact is that his alleged support for Pelosi is reliant on incomplete, 5th century science. His determination on the soul of the embryo/fetus is based on the empirical determination of science: does the early child in the womb have “sensation”? At the time the answer seemed to be “no.” Now we know, through advances in embryology, that from conception we have a living human being, animated in its self-directed development from the first instant of fertilization.
Apparently Pelosi would rather base her political opinions on the natural philosophy of ancient Romans than on modern science. What’s next, a Medicare Prescription Leach Bill? A Congressional task force ensuring that the American people have their humors in proper balance?
August 28, 2008
Lost in the woods and don’t know which way is north? Should have brought along your cow.
Scientists have published a study reporting that cows seem to detect the Earth’s magnetic field and tend to orient themselves in a north-south direction out in the pasture.
The research team used satellite photos from Google Earth to analyze the orientation of 8,510 cattle at 308 sites around the globe. Examining the photos showed that the cows were more likely to be lined up north-south than to be pointing randomly. Of course this is only a correlation study and there may be many other reasons, such as wind direction or sun direction, for why cows line up the way they do.
Still, the idea of magnetic cows is fascinating. Hikers might want to start taking a cow with them. Besides finding north, when you’re lost you could get milk and cheese.