Category archives: Change Watch

Change Watch: John Kerry, Secretary of State

by Family Research Council

January 29, 2013

POSITION: Secretary of State

NOMINEE: John Kerry

Born: Aurora, Colorado, December 11, 1943.

Family: Second wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, two daughters and three stepsons.

Occupation: Lt. Governor of MA 1982-1985; Senate 1985-present. Chairman, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations 2009-present.

Education: Yale University (1966) and Boston College Law School.


SANCTITY OF HUMAN LIFE

On Roe v. Wade and promoting abortion

Kerry: “I respect their views [Catholic Bishops]. I completely respect their views. I am a Catholic. And I grew up learning how to respect those views, but I disagree with them, as do many. I believe that I can’t legislate or transfer to another American citizen my article of faith. What is an article of faith for me is not something that I can legislate on somebody who doesn’t share that article of faith. I believe that choice, a woman’s choice is between a woman, God and her doctor. And that’s why I support that. Now I will not allow somebody to come in and change Roe v. Wade. The president has never said whether or not he would do that. But we know from the people he’s tried to appoint to the court he wants to. I will not. I will defend the right of Roe v. Wade.” Source: New York Times, Third Bush-Kerry Debate Transcript Oct. 13, 2004.

Supports using federal taxpayer money to pay for abortion

Q: Senator Kerry, suppose you are speaking with a voter who believed abortion is murder and the voter asked for reassurance that his or her tax dollars would not go to support abortion, what would you say to that person?

Kerry: “I would say to that person exactly what I will say to you right now. First of all, I cannot tell you how deeply I respect the belief about life and when it begins. I’m a Catholic, raised a Catholic… But as a president, I have to represent all the people in the nation. And I have to make that judgment. Now, I believe that you can take that position and not be pro- abortion, but you have to afford people their constitutional rights. And that means being smart about allowing people to be fully educated, to know what their options are in life, and making certain that you don’t deny a poor person the right to be able to have whatever the constitution affords them if they can’t afford it otherwise. That’s why I think it’s important. That’s why I think it’s important for theUnited States, for instance, not to have this rigid ideological restriction on helping families around the world to be able to make a smart decision about family planning.” Source: Washington Post, Second Bush-Kerry Debate Transcript Oct. 8, 2004.

Rights of Conscience

Voted against the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act that would have protected employers’ rights of conscience from the HHS mandate.

On the Motion to Table (Motion to Table Blunt Amdt. No. 1520 to S.Amdt.1730), Respect for Rights of Conscience Act, Roll Call 24, March 1, 2012. Source: Senate.gov

Parental Consent on issues of abortion

Voted against stopping ne’er-do-well adults taking minors across state lines for an abortion: S.Amdt 4335 to S.Con.Res. 70, Roll Call 08-S71, March 13, 2008. Source: Senate.gov

Voted against parental notification of minors who get out-of-state abortions: S.403, Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act, Roll Call 06-216, July 25, 2006. Source: Senate.gov

On taxpayer funding of abortion

Voted for increasing taxpayer funding for destructive embryonic stem cell experimentation:  S.5/H.R. 3, Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, Roll Call 07-127, April 11, 2007. Source Senate.gov

Voted for increasing funding to Planned Parenthood and similar clinics by $100 million:  S.Amdt. 244 to S.Con.Res 18, Appropriation to expand access to preventive health care services, Roll Call 05-75, March 17, 2005. Source: Senate.gov

Supports subsidizing international abortion agencies

S.Amdt. 2719 to H.R. 2764, Roll Call 07-319, September 6, 2007. Source: Senate.gov

Supports full funding for the United Nations Family Planning Fund (UNFPA)

(Evidence shows UNFPA subsidizes coercive abortions)

S. Amdt. 2708 to H.R. 2764, Roll Call 07-320, September 6, 2007. Source: Senate.gov

MARRIAGE AND HOMOSEXUAL AGENDA

Voted against the Marriage Protection Amendment: S.J.Res. 1, Roll Call 06-163, June 7, 2006. Source: Senate.gov

Opposes the Defense of Marriage Act:

Kerry: “My vote against [DOMA] — which some predicted would cost me reelection in 1996 — is among my proudest votes as a United States Senator…But my job in 2011 isn’t to feel good about my vote — or to boast that fifteen years later, I’m vindicated when at last an American president now agrees that DOMA is unconstitutional.” Source: Boston Globe 

Voted in favor of the Federal Hate Crimes Act: 

Thought crimes amendment to the Department of Defense Authorization that would establish federal “hate crimes” for certain violent acts based on the actual or perceived race, religion, disability, gender identity or sexual orientation of any person. S. Amdt. 3035, Roll Call No. 07-350, September 27, 2007. Source: Senate.gov

Supports special rights for homosexuals

Kerry co-sponsored S.811 the so-called “Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2011.” Source: Govtrack.us

Supports legislation that results in the shutting of Christian adoption agencies

Kerry co-sponsored S. 1770 in the 112th Congress which seeks to change the parameters of adoption placement so that agencies that continue to prioritize homes with a mother and father would be forced to close Source: Thomas

Supports redefining marriage and removing the ability of states to protect from redefinitions

Kerry co-sponsored S. 598 in the 112th Congress which seeks to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act and redefine “spouse” for federal purposes. Source: Thomas

MISCELLANEOUS

Kerry’s Top Ten Flip-Flops: Senate’s role in Iraq war, wartime funding, Israeli security fence, the Patriot Act, death penalty for terrorists, releasing strategic oil reserves, affirmative action, free trade, and No Child Left Behind. Source: CBS News

Kerry Insults U.S. Troops: Kerry told a California audience on Monday: “Education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. And if you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.” Source: Washington Post

Divisive Among Veterans: Following his service in Vietnam, John Kerry helped lead the controversial anti-war group Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), a group that condemned America’s conduct in Indochina and who was seen by some veterans as serving pro-Viet Cong interests. According to FBI accounts, Kerry was present at a 1971 VVAW meeting in Kansas City where the assassination of politicians was discussed.

Source: Washington Post, also WorldNetDaily

Change Watch: Chuck Hagel, Secretary of Defense

by Family Research Council

January 29, 2013

POSITION: Secretary of Defense

NOMINEE: Chuck Hagel

Born: North Platte, Nebraska, October 4, 1946. (1961-08-04)

Family: Second wife, Lilibet Hagel, two daughters.

Occupation: Sergeant, US Army 1967-1968 (awarded Combat Infantry Badge, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, Army Commendation Medal and two Purple Hearts); co-founded Vanguard Cellular, President of the McCarthy Group LLC and CEO of American Information Systems Inc. Senate 1996-2007. Served on the Committee on Foreign Relations, Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, Select Committee on Intelligence and Committee on Rules and Administration.

Education:Brown College and University of Nebraska, Omaha


SANCTITY OF HUMAN LIFE

Opposes Abortion Except in Life of the Mother Cases and Opposed Taxpayer Funding

I am pro-life with one exception — the life of the mother. I oppose taxpayer funded abortions. We must promote adoption and support the strengthening of American families. I will vote with and support the pro-life movement,” Hagel said in a piece of 1996 campaign literature, according to the Omaha World Herald.

As I looked at those numbers, if I want to prevent abortions, I don’t think those two exceptions are relevant,” Hagel said, according to the Omaha paper.

Voted against overseas military abortions..

Click here to view his voting record as U.S. Senator.

Parental Consent on issues of abortion

Voted for stopping ne’er-do-well adults taking minors across state lines for an abortion: S.Amdt 4335 to S.Con.Res. 70, Roll Call 08-S71, March 13, 2008. Source: Senate.gov

Voted for parental notification of minors who get out-of-state abortions: S.403, Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act, Roll Call 06-216, July 25, 2006. Source: Senate.gov

On taxpayer funding of abortion

Voted against increasing taxpayer funding for destructive embryonic stem cell experimentation:  S.5/H.R. 3, Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act, Roll Call 07-127, April 11, 2007. Source Senate.gov

Voted against increasing funding to Planned Parenthood and similar clinics by $100 million:  S.Amdt. 244 to S.Con.Res 18, Appropriation to expand access to preventive health care services, Roll Call 05-75, March 17, 2005. Source: Senate.gov

Opposed subsidizing international abortion agencies

S.Amdt. 2719 to H.R. 2764, Roll Call 07-319, September 6, 2007. Source: Senate.gov

Opposed funding for the United Nations Family Planning Fund (UNFPA)

(Evidence shows UNFPA subsidizes coercive abortions)

S. Amdt. 2708 to H.R. 2764, Roll Call 07-320, September 6, 2007. Source: Senate.gov

Supports Expanding Taxpayer Funding for Abortions in the Military

On January 14, 2013, Hagel sent a letter to Barbara Boxer assuring her he would “fully implement all laws protecting women service member’s reproductive rights” and that they would be “afforded the same reproductive health care options as women in the civilian population.”

MARRIAGE AND HOMOSEXUAL AGENDA

No Vote” on the Marriage Protection Amendment: S.J.Res. 1, Roll Call 06-163, June 7, 2006. Source: Senate.gov

Voted against the Federal Hate Crimes Act:

Thought crimes amendment to the Department of Defense Authorization that would establish federal “hate crimes” for certain violent acts based on the actual or perceived race, religion, disability, gender identity or sexual orientation of any person. S. Amdt. 3035, Roll Call No. 07-350, September 27, 2007. Source: Senate.gov

Apologized for “Aggressive Gay” Remark, supports DADT repeal

The Omaha World-Herald reported in 1998: “Ambassadorial posts are sensitive, Hagel explained. ‘They are representing America,’ he said [in an interview]. ‘They are representing our lifestyle, our values, our standards. And I think it is an inhibiting factor to be gay — openly aggressively gay like Mr. Hormel — to do an effective job.’”

Then, Dec. 2012: “My comments 14 years ago in 1998 were insensitive. They do not reflect my views or the totality of my public record, and I apologize to Ambassador Hormel and any LGBT Americans who may question my commitment to their civil rights. I am fully supportive of ‘open service’ and committed to LGBT military families.”

Fully Supports Military Benefits for Homosexual Couples

In his January 14, 2013 letter to Barbara Boxer, Hagel reiterated his support for repealing DADT and promised he would “do everything possible to the extent permissible under current law to provide equal benefits to the families of all service members.”

MISCELLANEOUS

Urged “direct, unconditional, and comprehensive talks with the Government of Iran

Criticized GOP Senators seeking to Repeal Healthcare as Irresponsible

Called Pentagon Budget “Bloated”

From a September 2011 interview: “The Defense Department, I think in many ways, has been bloated,” he responded. “So I think the Pentagon needs to be pared down.” 

Opposed Sanctions in Countries including Iran, North Korea, Libya, Cuba and Syria

Hagel did not sign a letter to the EU calling on it to designate Hezbollah a terror group       Hagel defended this by saying, “I didn’t sign on to certain resolutions and letters because they were counter-productive and didn’t solve a problem.”

In 2006, Hagel referred to the Israel lobbyists as the “Jewish lobby Hagel said, “The Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here… I have always argued against some of the dumb things they do because I don’t think it’s in the interest of Israel.”

Hagel opposed the ultimately successful troop surge in Iraq

Change Watch: Dr. Donald Berwick, Administrator, Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services

by David Prentice

July 7, 2010

POSITION: ADMINISTRATOR, CENTER FOR MEDICARE AND MEDICAID SERVICES (CMS)

NOMINEE: Donald M. Berwick

BIRTHDATE: 1946 in New York City, NY

EDUCATION:

B.A., Harvard University

M.P.P., John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University

M.D. 1972, Harvard Medical School, Harvard University

FAMILY: wife Ann (Greenberg) Berwick; father of four children (two sons and two daughters)

EXPERIENCE:

President and Chief Executive Officer, Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI)

Clinical Professor of Pediatrics and Health Care Policy, Harvard Medical School

Professor of Health Policy and Management, Harvard School of Public Health

Associate in Pediatrics at Bostons Childrens Hospital

Consultant in Pediatrics at Massachusetts General Hospital

Liaison to the Institutive of Medicines Global Health Board and serves on the governing council

1991-2001 Chair of the National Advisory Council of the Agency for Healthcare Research and

Quality

1995-1999 Chair of the Health Services Research Review Study Section of the Agency for Health

Care Policy and Research

1990-1996 Vice Chair of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force

1987-1991, Co-founder and Co-Principal Investigator for the National Demonstration Project on

Quality Improvement in Health Care (NDP)

Member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences

AWARDS:

2005 Honorary Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire

2004 Inducted as Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in London

2002 Award of Honor from the American Hospital Association

2001 Alfred I. DuPont Award for excellence in childrens health care

1999 Ernest A. Codman Award

ON RATIONING AND SINGLE PAYER SYSTEMS

The decision is not whether or not we will ration care—the decision is whether we will ration with our eyes open.”

[Source]

You plan the supply; you aim a bit low; historically, you prefer slightly too little of a technology or service to much too much; and then you search for care bottlenecks, and try to relieve them.”

[Source]

Limited resources require decisions about who will have access to care and the extent of their coverage. The complexity and cost of health care delivery systems may set up a tension between what is good for the society as a whole and what is best for an individual patient…Hence, those working in health care delivery may be faced with situations in which it seems that the best course is to manipulate the flawed system for the benefit of a specific patient…rather than to work to improve the delivery of care for all.

[Source]

If we could ever find the political nerve, we strongly suspect that financing and competitive dynamics such as the following, purveyed by governments and payers, would accelerate interest in the Triple Aim and progress toward it: (1) global budget caps on total health care spending for designated populations, (2) measurement of and fixed accountability for the health status and health needs of designated populations, (3) improved standardized measures of care and per capita costs across sites and through time that are transparent, (4) changes in payment such that the financial gains from reduction of per capita costs are shared among those who pay for care and those who can and should invest in further improvements, and (5) changes in professional education accreditation to ensure that clinicians are capable of changing and improving their processes of care. With some risk, we note that the simplest way to establish many of these environmental conditions is a single-payer system, hiring integrators with prospective, global budgets to take care of the health needs of a defined population, without permission to exclude any member of the population.

[Source]

Rational healthcare stakeholders are eroding a common good, simply doing what makes sense to them individually. In the short term everyone wins, but in the long term, everyone loses. … Healthcare is not entitled to everything it has, and it is surely not entitled to everything it can get.

[Source]

If I could wave a magic wand…health care [would be] a common good—single payer…health care [would be] a human right—universality is a non-negotiable starting place…justice [would be] a prerequisite to health—equity is a primary quality goal.

[Source]

ON THE FREE MARKET AND CAPITALISM

Fifth, please dont put your faith in market forces. Its a popular idea: that Adam Smiths invisible hand would do a better job of designing care than leaders with plans can. I do not agree. I find little evidence anywhere that market forces, bluntly used, that is, consumer choice among an array of products with competitors fighting it out, leads to the health care system you want and need. In the US, competition has become toxic; it is a major reason for our duplicative, supply-driven, fragmented care system. Trust transparency; trust the wisdom of the informed public; but, do not trust market forces to give you the system you need. I favor total transparency, strong managerial skills, and accountability for improvement. I favor expanding choices. But, I cannot believe that the individual health care consumer can enforce through choice the proper configurations of a system as massive and complex as health care. That is for leaders to do.

[Source]

At the individual level, I dont trust incentives at all. I do not think its true that the way to get better doctoring and better nursing is to put money on the table in front of doctors and nurses. I think thats a fundamental misunderstanding of human motivation. I think people respond to joy and work and love and achievement and learning and appreciation and gratitude-and a sense of a job well done. I think that it feels good to be a good doctor and better to be a better doctor. When we begin to attach dollar amounts to throughputs and to individual pay, we are playing with fire.

[Source]

Berwick complained the American health system runs in the “darkness of private enterprise,” unlike Britain’s “politically accountable system.” The NHS is “universal, accessible, excellent, and free at the point of care — a health system that is, at its core, like the world we wish we had: generous, hopeful, confident, joyous, and just”; America’s health system is “toxic,” “fragmented,” because of its dependence on consumer choice.

[Source]

In the United States, those hundreds of insurance companies have a strong interest in not selling health insurance to people who are likely to need health care. Our insurance companies try to predict who will need care, and to find ways to exclude them from coverage through underwriting and selective marketing. That increases their profits. Here, you know that that isnt just crazy; it is immoral.

[Source]

ON REDISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH

You could have protected the wealthy and the well, instead of recognizing that sick people tend to be poorer and that poor people tend to be sicker, and that any health care funding plan that is just, equitable, civilized, and humane must must redistribute wealth from the richer among us to the poorer and less fortunate.

[Source]

YouTube video of quote from speech

ON BRITAINS NATIONAL HEALTH SERVICE (NHS) AND NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR HEALTH AND CLINICAL EXCELLENCE (NICE)

There is less progress in some areas…such as in specialty access, cancer outcomes, patient-centeredness, life expectancy and infant mortality for socially deprived populations.

[Source]

I am romantic about the NHS; I love it. All I need to do to rediscover the romance is to look at health care in my own country.

[Source]

The National Health Service is one of the truly astounding human endeavors of modern times.

[Source]

We think nationalized health care was a wise choice in 1948 and that it remains so now.

[Source]

NICE is not just a national treasure, he says, it is a global treasure.

[Source]

NICE is extremely effective and a conscientious, valuable, and importantly knowledge-building system. The fact that its a bogeyman in this country is a political fact, not a technical one.

[Source]

I hope you will never, ever give up what you have begun,” said Berwick. “I hope you realize and affirm how badly you need — how badly the world needs — an example at scale of a health system that is universal, accessible, excellent and free at the point of care — a health system that, at its core is like the world we wish we had: generous, hopeful, confident, joyous and just. [Source]

Some background on Britains system…

Michael Tanner notes that, NICE, however, is not simply a government agency that helps bureaucrats decide if one treatment is better than another. With the creation of NICE, the U.K. government has effectively put a dollar amount to how much a citizens life is worth. To be exact, each year of added life is worth approximately $44,305 (30,000). Of course, this is a general rule and, as NICE chairman Michael Rawlins points out, the agency has sometimes approved treatments costing as much as $70,887 (48,000) per year of extended life. [Source]

Dr. Milton R. Wolf notes that, Britain’s higher cancer mortality rate results in 25,000 more cancer deaths per year compared to a similar population size in the United States. But because the U.S. population is roughly five times larger than the United Kingdom’s, that would translate into 125,000 unnecessary American cancer deaths every year. This is more than all the mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles, cousins and children in Topeka, Kan. And keep in mind, these numbers are for cancer alone. America also has better survival rates for other major killers, such as heart attacks and strokes. [Source]

Robert M. Goldberg writes, It may not be joyous or just or configured correctly, but for nearly every disease, particularly cancer, stroke, and heart attacks, Americans live longer and healthier than the English because of better care. Americans spend less time in the hospital, have fewer doctors, and see doctor’s less often per capita than people in Great Britain. In the past two years the number of people waiting over three months to see a doctor in the NHS has increased by 50 percent. Productivity of the NHS — which was Berwick’s principal mission — declined 2.5 % over the past five years. Last year it cut primary care services and wound up with a 2 billion pound surplus. The NHS spent the money not on patients but on equipment, bonuses, and consultants in an end of the year rush. Meanwhile hospital-acquired infections in the UK remain as high as ever while they decline in “toxic” America. [Source]

Change Watch: Elena Kagan—Supreme Court Nominee

by Family Research Council

May 10, 2010

POSITION: Supreme Court nominee

NOMINEE: Elena Kagan

Born: April 28, 1960

Occupation: Dean of Harvard Law School and Charles Hamilton Houston Professor of Law at Harvard University.

Education: BA summa cum laude, Princeton University, 1981; MPhil, Worchester College, Oxford, 1983; JD magna cum laude, Harvard Law School, 1986

Clinton White House: 1995-1996 associate counsel to the President; 1997-1999 deputy assistant to the President for Domestic Policy; 1997-1999 deputy director Domestic Policy Council.

NOTE: From 1986 to 1987 Ms. Dean Kagan served as a judicial clerk for Judge Abner Mikva on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. From 1987-1988 she also served as a judicial clerk for Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Dean Kagan briefly served as a staff member for Michael Dukakiss presidential campaign. During the summer of 1993 she served as Special Counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee to work on the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

HOMOSEXUAL ISSUES

Gays in the Military

Last year candidate Barack Obama repeatedly opined that students should have military service opportunities on campus. However, President Obama’s nominee for solicitor general, Harvard Law School Dean Elena Kagan, believes the military should be barred from campus. In fact, she fought all the way to the United States Supreme Court, trampling on students’ constitutional rights all the way there, in order to deny qualified students the opportunity to serve our country … Kagan’s staunch ideological opposition to the military and providing qualified students the opportunity to serve puts her well outside of the mainstream. Even Bill Clinton, who dodged a military draft during Vietnam, signed the law Kagan opposes, the Solomon amendment, with overwhelming congressional and public support.

Solomon, simply put, seeks to facilitate voluntary military service by asking colleges and universities to allow students to meet with military recruiters on campus and to participate in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). Schools whose policies or practices obstruct students from taking part are ineligible for federal funding.

Yet, Kagan, who has categorized the law as “immoral” at a 2003 Harvard student forum, argued in support of the position of the Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights, the so-called FAIR coalition, claiming elite schools have a right to taxpayer largesse while simultaneously barring the military - a radical view the Supreme Court unanimously struck down … Yet, leftwing views like Kagan’s still disparage the sacrifices our military makes and cause real, quantifiable harm to students and to our nation at taxpayer expense. According to Harvard’s annual financial statements, the school received $473 million of our hard-earned dollars during the 2003-4 school year, while FAIR, with Kagan’s help, won an injunction against the military in the Third Circuit. Harvard took another $511 million during the following school year and, for 2005-6, $517 million more as the Supreme Court heard and rejected FAIR’s claims.

Even Ruth Bader Ginsberg, a former American Civil Liberties Union lawyer and centerpiece of the liberals’ high court coalition, couldn’t find a way to justify these spurious, anti-student claims and recognized Congress’ ability to condition taxpayer spending. Flagg Youngblood, Solicitor General Flimflam, The Washington Times, January 30, 2009.

Hate Crimes

Believes courts should support hate crime laws and that when reviewing regulations of speech, courts could evaluate motive directly, they could remove the lions share of the First Amendments doctrinal clutter. Elena Kagan, Private Speech, Public Purpose: The Role of Government Motive in First Amendment Doctrine, 63 U. Chi. L. Rev. 413, 516 (1996).

In her 1993 University of Chicago Law Review piece, she wrote that proposed regulations on hate speech and pornography failed to adhere to the fundamental First Amendment principle of viewpoint neutrality that the government cannot favor certain private speakers or viewpoints over others. Her 1996 article on government motive in First Amendment cases has been cited more than 115 times an enviably high number for a secondary source. In that article she declares that the application of First Amendment law is best understood and most readily explained as a kind of motive-hunting. David Hudson, Jr., Solicitor-general nominee: impressive First Amendment resume, FirstAmendmentcenter.org.

On Opposing Religious Institutions Involving Themselves In Pregnancy

As a young law clerk, Kagan, 49, once penned a memo saying it would be difficult for a religious organization to take government funding to counsel teenagers about pregnancy without injecting some kind of religious teaching. When a Senator asked her about the memo, Kagan did not hesitate to distance herself from its views, saying she had fresh eyes two decades later. I looked at it, and I thought, That is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard, she said. Michael Sherer, Solicitor General Elena Kagan, Time, April 13, 2010.

On Questioning of Presidential Nominees

Kagan herself has called for the Senate to use confirmation hearings to engage nominees in meaningful discussion of legal issues. In her 1995 review (62 U. Chi. L. Rev. 919) of Stephen L. Carters The Confirmation Mess, Kagan argues that the critical inquiry that the Senate should conduct on a Supreme Court nominee concerns the votes she would cast, the perspective she would add (or augment), and the direction in which she would move the institution. Kagan draws as the fundamental lesson of the Bork hearings … the essential rightnessthe legitimacy and the desirabilityof exploring a Supreme Court nominees set of constitutional views and commitments.

Although Carters book and Kagans review focus heavily on Supreme Court nominees, they also address DOJ nominations (especially Clintons 1993 nomination, subsequently withdrawn, of Lani Guinier to be AAG for Civil Rights), and Kagans view of the Senates role applies fully to those (and other executive-branch) nominations. That, of course, is hardly surprising, as the case for careful scrutiny of the legal views of DOJ nominees, even if combined with greater deference to the president, seems widely accepted. Ed Whelan, Obamas SG Pick Elena Kagan, NROs The Corner, January 7, 2009.

On Lack of Experience

Kagan may well have less experience relevant to the work of being a justice than any justice in the last five decades or more. In addition to zero judicial experience, she has only a few years of real-world legal experience. Further, notwithstanding all her years in academia, she has only a scant record of legal scholarship. Kagan flunks her own threshold test of the minimal qualifications needed for a Supreme Court nominee. Ed Whelan, Supreme Court Nominee Elena Kagan, NROs Bench Memos, May 10, 2010.

On Being a Washington and Obama Administration Insider

There is a striking mismatch between the White Houses populist rhetoric about seeking a justice with a keen understanding of how the law affects the daily lives of the American people and the reality of the Kagan pick. Kagan is the consummate Obama insider, and her meteoric rise over the last 15 yearsfrom obscure academic and Clinton White House staffer to Harvard law school dean to Supreme Court nomineewould seem to reflect what writer Christopher Caldwell describes as the intermarriage of financial and executive branch elites [that] could only have happened in the Clinton years and that has fostered the dominant financial-political oligarchy in America. In this regard, Kagans paid role as a Goldman Sachs adviser is the perfect marker of her status in the oligarchyand of her unfathomable remoteness from ordinary Americans. Ed Whelan, Supreme Court Nominee Elena Kagan, NROs Bench Memos, May 10, 2010.

Goldman Sachs Ties

Solicitor General Elena Kagan was a member of the Research Advisory Council of the Goldman Sachs Global Markets Institute, according to the financial disclosures she filed when President Obama appointed her last year to her current post. Kagan served on the Goldman panel from 2005 through 2008, when she was dean of Harvard Law School, and received a $10,000 stipend for her service in 2008, her disclosure forms show. Matt Kelly, Possible Supreme Court pick had ties with Goldman Sachs USA Today, April 27, 2010.

Opposition by Liberals

Liberal legal scholars and experts stepped up their attacks Friday on Elena Kagan as a potential Supreme Court nominee, hoping to dissuade President Obama from selecting her in the last few days before an expected announcement early next week. A group of four law professors Friday morning published a piece at Salon.com criticizing Kagan, Obamas solicitor general, for hiring too few women and minorities when she was dean of Harvard law school. Liberal attorney and blogger Glenn Greenwald who has taken Kagan to task for her views on executive power and been the chief organizing force behind criticism of Kagan promoted the column on his Twitter account and kept up a drumbeat against Kagan… .Ive devoted everything I can to making the case against Kagan before Obama chooses, precisely because I know that once he makes his selection, the overwhelming majority of progressives and Democrats will cheer for her even if they have no idea what she thinks or believes, Greenwald said… .Prominent liberal legal scholar Erwin Chemerinsky made that very point this week in an interview. The reality is that Democrats, including liberals, will accept and push whomever Obama picks, said Chemerinsky, founding dean of the University of California-Irvine law school. Obviously, liberals hope that Obama will pick someone more from the left than the center. It cant be that Republicans pick conservatives and Democrats pick only moderates. John Ward, Liberal activists intensify attacks on Kagan as court pick nears, The Daily Caller, May 7, 2010.

Change Watch: Chai Feldblum, Commissioner, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

by Jacob Wolf

November 17, 2009

Nominee for Commissioner, Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

NOMINEE: Chai Feldblum

BIRTH DATE: c. 1959

EDUCATION: B.A. in Ancient Studies and Religion, Barnard College, 1979. J.D. from Harvard Law School, 1985.

FAMILY: Lives with a same-sex domestic partner, Georgetown Law Professor Nan Hunter. Previously lived in a nonsexual domestic partnership with three other women who pledged to care for each other.

EXPERIENCE: Professor of Law, Georgetown Law School; Director of the Law Centers Federal Legislation and Administrative Clinic; Co-Director of Workplace Flexibility 2010; law clerk for First Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Frank M. Coffin; law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun; legislative counsel to the AIDS Project of the ACLU, 1988-1990; Human Rights Campaign Fund, 1986-1987.

Equal Employment Opportunities Experience: Was the lead drafter for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and the ADA Amendments Act of 2008. Has written numerous articles and books on the subject of employment, but only on the subject of homosexuals in the workplaceno writings on other minorities other than the disabled.

Homosexual Agenda

Same-sex Marriage

Signatory of the petition Beyond Same-Sex Marriage, which reads in part:

  • We hope to move beyond the narrow confines of marriage politics as they exist in the United States today.
  • Feldblum openly admitted to supporting polygamy, arguing that committed, loving households in which there is more than one conjugal partner and queer couples who decide to jointly create and raise a child with another queer person or couple, in two households should be recognized as loving families.
  • Thoughts on conservatives: the entire legal framework of civil rights for all people is under assault by the Right, coded not only in terms of sexuality, but also in terms of race, gender, class, and citizenship status and they are generating an agenda of fear, retrenchment, and opposition to the very idea of a caring society.
  • Marriage should be one of many avenues through which households, families, partners, and kinship relationships can gain access to the support of a caring civil society.
  • Our vision is the creation of communities in which we are encouraged to explore the widest range of non-exploitive, non-abusive possibilities in love, gender, desire and sex. http://www.beyondmarriage.org/full_statement.html

On Homosexuality

Feldblum believes that ones identity as a gay person would have little real meaning if you were consistently precluded from having sex with your same-sex partner. She also argued in her writings that an evangelical Christian hotel owner who asked homosexual patrons to not have sex in his establishment would be engaging in discrimination. Felblum continued with her pro-homosexual agenda by stating, I believe that heterosexuality and homosexuality are morally neutral characteristics (similar to having red hair or brown hair), and I believe that acting consistently with ones sexual orientation is a morally good act…And, in making the decision in this zero sum game, I am convinced society should come down on the side of protecting the liberty of LGBT people. Chai Feldblum, Moral Conflict and Liberty: Gay Rights and Liberty, Becket Fund, n.d. http://www.becketfund.org/files/4bce5.pdf.

Gay sex is morally good,” Feldblum said. “Now you may think that might be a little crazy to go out there and say gay sex is good. But think a second. Society definitely believes that heterosexual sex is good. Right. Heterosexual sex within a certain framework — marriage — I mean, you can’t get more dewy-eyed and romantic in this society about how wonderful that is…”If you’re not being cynical for the moment, I think that does reflect a correct understanding that sex is often a basic building block for intimacy and that intimacy and connections within couples and within families are integral building blocks for a healthy society.” Chai Feldblum, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uOghvpWTl_U.

Sexual License vs. Religious Liberty

Feldblum founded the Moral Values Project, which states that the following are immoral activities: when transgender people are not assisted in living in the gender of their choice; when intersex infants are subjected to genital surgery; or when young women are denied effective contraception — our society is not living up to its important moral values. Chai Feldblum, The Moral Values Project, The Moral Values Project, 2005. http://www.law.georgetown.edu/moralvaluesproject/.

Was the lead drafter for ENDA, which she would be responsible for enforcing if she is confirmed to the EEOC. When questioned on the rights of Christians hiring employees of their choice, Feldblum stated Gays win; Christians lose. Thomas Peters, Chais ENDA vs. Religious Liberty, American Principles Project, October 26, 2009. http://www.americanprinciplesproject.org/blogs/chais-enda-vs-religious-liberty.html.

Similarly, Feldblum, when questioned about how she would decide when religious liberty and homosexual rights conflict, she would have a hard time coming up with any case in which religious liberty should win. Obamas EEOC pick, Chai Feldblum: Sexual liberty wins in conflict with religious liberty, Alliance Defense Fund, September 14, 2009. http://www.alliancealert.org/2009/09/14/obama-picks-chai-r-feldblum-for-eeoc-commission/.

Defined the battle plan for homosexual activists in the fight for equality: As a practical matter, changing the publics perception of the morality of gay sex and of changing ones gender may ultimately be necessary to achieve true equality for LGBT people… Obamas EEOC pick, Chai Feldblum: Sexual liberty wins in conflict with religious liberty, Alliance Defense Fund, September 14, 2009. http://www.alliancealert.org/2009/09/14/obama-picks-chai-r-feldblum-for-eeoc-commission/.

Domestic Partnerships for All

In perhaps her most radical paper, Chai Feldblum nonsexual domestic partnerships should be respected and supported by the State, and benefits should extend to them and believes these tax-supported partnerships can consist of people who are merely really good friends. Other excerpts from the article include:

  • Moreover, to the extent that the struggle for marriage equality focuses solely on achieving the right to marry because that is what a pure equality discourse calls for, the movement will also miss the chance to make a moral case for supporting the range of other creative ways in which we currently construct our intimate relations outside of marriage. And that would be as much of a missed opportunity as would be the lost opportunity of convincing the general public of the moral equivalence of gay and heterosexual sex . . .
  • I believe homosexuality is as morally neutral as heterosexuality and, moreover, I believe gay love embodies the same moral goods as heterosexual love. My agenda would be for the rest of the country to believe those things as well.
  • It is unfortunate that society fails to acknowledge the wide array of non-marital intimate social structures that we as humans have ingeniously constructed to negotiate and make sense of the world.
  • Revealing that she is unsure about how she would decide in regards to the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston being forced to grant adoption to same-sex couples: the state should be permitted to withhold tax exempt status, as in the Bob Jones case, from a group that is clearly contrary to the state’s policy. But to go further and say to a group that it is not permitted to engage in a particular type of work, such as adoptions, unless it also does adoptions for gay couples, that’s a heavier hand from the state. And I would hope we could have a dialogue about this and not just accusations of bad faith from either side. Chai Feldblum, Gay is Good: The Moral Case for Marriage Equality and More, Moral Values Project, 2005. http://www.law.georgetown.edu/moralvaluesproject/Library/Papers/Feldblum_Gay_is_Good_Marriage.pdf.

Abortion

Clerked for Justice Harry A. Blackmun, the author of the infamous Roe v. Wade decision, which allowed for the universal right to abortion in the United States.

Patrick Reilly of the Cardinal Newman Society said about Feldblum that the news of Feldblums nomination is especially noteworthy for Catholics given the EEOCs recent infringement on Catholic Belmont Abbey Colleges religious liberty by claiming it discriminated against women when it removed contraceptive coverage from its employee health insurance plan…If confirmed by the Senate, Feldblum would serve on the EEOC for five years and could decide cases related to abortion. Steven Ertelt, Obama’s Pro-Abortion Nominee to EEOC Panel, Chai Feldblum, Faces Opposition, LifeNews, October 21, 2009. http://www.lifenews.com/nat5594.html.

Authorship

Feldblum has authored or contributed to the following books: The Moral Values Project: Deploying Moral Discourse for Gay Equality; The Federal Gay Rights Bill: From Bella to ENDA; Rights & Wrongs: Morality in the Gay Marriage Debate; Moral Conflict and Liberty: Gay Rights and Religion; The Right to Define One’s Own Concept of Existence: What Lawrence Can Mean for Intersex and Transgender People; Gay is Good: The Moral Case for Marriage Equality and More; Gay People, Trans People, Women: Is It All About Gender?.

Change Watch: Keeping track of the Obama administration

by Krystle Gabele

November 17, 2009

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

Additionally, you can go to FRC Action’s web site to read more about the Obama Administration.

Change Watch: Dr. Regina Benjamin, Surgeon General of the United States

by David Prentice

September 9, 2009

POSITION: SURGEON GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES

NOMINEE: Regina Benjamin

BIRTHDATE: October 26, 1956 in Mobile, Alabama

EDUCATION:

B.S. Xavier University of Louisiana

M.D. 1984, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Atlantas Morehouse School of Medicine

M.B.A. Tulane University, Freeman School of Business

FAMILY: never married; no children

EXPERIENCE:

Completed residency in family practice at the Medical Center of Central Georgia

1987 Founded the Bayou La Batre Rural Health Clinic in Bayou La Batre, Alabama;

rebuilt after Hurricane George, Hurricane Katrina, and extensive fire damage

1995 Elected to the American Medical Associations board of trustees

1996-2002 Board Member, Physicians for Human Rights, Physicians for Human Rights Advisory Council

1998 Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights

2000 National Caring Award (which was inspired by Mother Teresa)

2006 Papal honor Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice from Pope Benedict XVI

Served as President of the American Medical Association’s Education and Research Foundation

Named by Time Magazine as one of the “Nation’s 50 Future Leaders Age 40 and Under.

President of the Medical Association of Alabama

Appointed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Donna Shalala to the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Act Committee and to the Council of Graduate Medical Education, and also a member of the “Step 3 Committee

ON ABORTION

But the Alabama country doctor also backs Obama’s position on reproductive health issues, a position that potentially could put her at odds with the Catholic Church.

Like him, she believes that this is an issue where it is important to try and seek common ground and come together to try and reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, White House spokesman Reid Cherlin said. As a physician, she is deeply committed to the philosophy of putting her patients’ needs first when it comes to providing care.

The White House declined to say whether Benjamin supports a woman’s right to an abortion, but sources close to her selection say she does.

Source

White House spokesman Reid Cherlin said, however, that Benjamin “supports the president’s position on reproductive health issues.

Obama supports abortion rights and public funding of contraception and sex education.

Cherlin continued: “Like him she believes that this is an issue where it is important to try and seek common ground and come together to try and reduce the number of unintended pregnancies. As a physician, she is deeply committed to the philosophy of putting her patients’ needs first when it comes to providing care.

Benjamin also was a board member for Physicians for Human Rights, an international group that has advocated access to safe abortions in its investigation of human rights conditions in some countries.

[Source]

Benjamin served as member of Board of Directors of Physicians for Human Rights, which specifically advocates for abortion rights in its Global Health Action Campaign program:

The freedoms include the right to participate in decisions about ones health, including sexual and reproductive freedom…

[Source]

Safe Pregnancy and Safe Abortion as Human Rights

Initiative of Center for Reproductive Rights

…is a collaborative effort with groups including CARE, Physicians for Human Rights, and the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University.

[Source]

Dr. Benjamin served as a member of the AMA Board of Trustees

The Board of Trustees oversees and approves policies of the AMA.

ON ABORTION

The Principles of Medical Ethics of the AMA do not prohibit a physician from performing an abortion in accordance with good medical practice and under circumstances that do not violate the law.

Physicians should not feel or be compelled to require minors to involve their parents before deciding whether to undergo an abortion. The patient, even an adolescent, generally must decide whether, on balance, parental involvement is advisable. Accordingly, minors should ultimately be allowed to decide whether parental involvement is appropriate.

from: Code of Medical Ethics 2004-2005: Current Opinions with Annotations, AMA Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs, American Medical Association; p. 4-5

Genetic selection refers to the abortion or discard of a fetus or pre-embryo with a genetic abnormality. In general, it is ethically permissible for physicians to participate in genetic selection to prevent, cure, or treat genetic disease.

from: Code of Medical Ethics 2004-2005: Current Opinions with Annotations, AMA Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs, American Medical Association; p. 41

viewer: [Source]

ON TREATMENT DECISIONS FOR SERIOUSLY ILL NEWBORNS:

Care must be taken to evaluate the newborns expected quality of life from the childs perspective. Life-sustaining treatment may be withheld or withdrawn from a newborn when the pain and suffering expected to be endured by the child will overwhelm any potential for joy during his or her life.

from: Code of Medical Ethics 2004-2005: Current Opinions with Annotations, AMA Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs, American Medical Association; p. 97

ON CLONING

While the pluralism of moral visions that underlie this debate must be respected, physicians collectively must continue to be guided by their paramount obligation to the welfare of their patients. In this light, cloning-for-biomedical-research is consistent with medical ethics. Every physician remains free to decide whether to participate in stem cell research or to use its products.

from: Code of Medical Ethics 2004-2005: Current Opinions with Annotations, AMA Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs, American Medical Association; p. 53

Two potentially realistic and possibly appropriate medical uses of cloning-to-produce-children are for assisting individuals or couples to reproduce and for generating tissues when the donor is not harmed or sacrificed.

from: Code of Medical Ethics 2004-2005: Current Opinions with Annotations, AMA Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs, American Medical Association; p. 55

ON HEALTH CARE

These are trying times in the health care field. And as a nation, we have reached a sobering realization: Our health care system simply cannot continue on the path that we’re on. Millions of Americans can’t afford health insurance, or they don’t have the basic health services available where they live.

It should not be this hard for doctors and other health care providers to care for their patients. It shouldn’t be this expensive for Americans to get health care in this country. And, Mr. President, thank you for putting health care reform at the top of your domestic agenda.

[Source]

Change Watch: Eric Lander, Co-Chair, President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST)

by David Prentice

August 7, 2009

POSITION: CO-CHAIR, PRESIDENTS COUNCIL OF ADVISORS ON SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY (PCAST)

APPOINTEE: Eric S. Lander

BIRTH DATE: February 3, 1957 in Brooklyn, New York

EDUCATION:

A.B. in Mathematics, Princeton University, 1978

D.Phil. in Mathematics, Rhodes Scholar, Oxford University, 1981

FAMILY: Wife-Lori Weiner; three children-Jessica, Daniel, David

FRC SCORECARD: NA

EXPERIENCE:

1993-present Professor of Biology, MIT

Professor of Systems Biology, Harvard Medical School

2003 Founding Director, The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard

1990 Director, Whitehead Institute/MIT Center for Genome Research

1986, 1989 Fellow, Member, Whitehead Institute, Cambridge, MA

1984,1989 Visiting Scientist, Associate Professor, Dept of Biology, MIT

1987-1990 Associate Professor of Managerial Economics, Harvard Business School

1981-1986 Assistant Professor of Managerial Economics, Harvard Business School

Member, National Academy of Sciences

Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Member, Institute of Medicine

http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/genomics/lander.html

http://www.hhmi.org/biointeractive/genomics/lander_career.html

ON EMBRYONIC STEM CELLS

Leonard Zon, a Harvard stem cell scientist who knows Lander and Varmus and has followed Holdrens career, said the three men are likely to recommend more federal support for embryonic stem cell research, and budget increases for the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. agency that backs the bulk of basic science conducted at academic institutions.

I know theyre very enthusiastic about stem cell biology, Zon said.

[Source]

Among Participants and Attendees at President Barack Obamas Signing of Stem Cell Executive Order and Scientific Integrity Presidential Memorandum

[Source]

Young scientists, who might have been hesitant to enter the promising field, no longer need to worry about funding, said Eric Lander, founding director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and cochairman of a presidential scientific advisory council.

I think it sends an extraordinary message to young scientists today - that this nation will back them,” he said from Washington, where he attended Obama’s signing and speech.

[Source]

Lander is a renowned stem-cell researcher at MIT, a world-class university that stands to get even more federal funding, thanks to Obama’s stem-cell move. An MIT spokeswoman says the university takes conflict-of-interest precautions when its faculty serve in government positions - but added that it won’t recuse itself from funding opportunities related to Obama’s decision.

[Source]

ON CLONING

Eric Lander, a leading figure at the HGP and a biology professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the United States, said human cloning is “impossible” and “absolutely wrong.”

He said scientists cannot produce human beings, nor should they try to change human beings. He added that HGP is designed to understand the human genome, not to change it.

Many scientists warn of horrific consequences if anyone tries to apply the techniques used to create ‘Dolly’ the sheep for producing cloned people.

Cloning involves enormous risks and is inefficient. There are many other natural ways of helping infertile women give birth. Mankind does not need to clone itself, Lander said.

[Source]

ON GENETIC TESTING

Look, there are a small number of things that are destiny. A small number of genetic certainties where you can say the baby, God forbid is, gonna have some terrible disease that we can’t do anything about. But most of the genetic information that’s encoded in the human DNA is not about certainty.

It’s about the fact that perhaps when she grows up she’ll have twice the risk of diabetes. That’s not good but it’s not a disaster. I think, as a parent, that you have to add this long list of maybe’s that genetics is gonna potentially give you to a much longer list of worries that every parent has had since there were parents.

[Source]

Genomic science is dramatically widening the scope for understanding cancers, but breakthrough cures should be expected within generations, not years, says Eric Lander, one of the leading scientists in this field.

[Source]

ON THE NEW BIOLOGY AND LIFE

Modern biology is undergoing a revolution that will fundamentally leave our understanding of life so changed that we won’t be able to remember how we used to think about life before that point.”

[Source]

Change Watch: Dr. Francis Collins, Director, National Institutes of Health

by David Prentice

July 11, 2009

POSITION: DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH (NIH)

NOMINEE: Francis S. Collins

BIRTHDATE: April 14, 1950 in Staunton, Virginia

EDUCATION:

B.S. in Chemistry, 1970, University of Virginia

Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry, 1974, Yale University

M.D. 1977, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

FAMILY: wife Diane L. Baker; two daughters from previous marriage

EXPERIENCE:

2009 Founded Biologos Foundation, to address the tension between religion and science

2007 Presidential Medal of Freedom for contributions to genetic research.

2006 Published book The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief

1993-2008 Director of National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI)

1989 Identified gene for cystic fibrosis

1984-1993 Faculty position at University of Michigan

1981-1984 Fellow in Human Genetics at Yale Medical School

1978-1981 Residency and Chief Residency in Internal Medicine, North Carolina Memorial Hospital, Chapel Hill

Member of the Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences

Physician volunteer in a rural missionary hospital in Nigeria

Member of the Obama transition team

ON GENETIC MANIPULATION OF HUMANS

I would say the idea that we go in and begin to manipulate our own germ-line gene pool is something that, unless very, very strong argument can be brought forward to the benefit and the theological and philosophical positives, is something we shouldn’t do.

[Source]

The notion that we could eventually take charge of our own evolutionary state and improve ourselves is a chilling one for most people, and especially, I think, for people of faith. The idea is that we would re-engineer the human race by deciding which features we would like to improve upon, such as making ourselves smarter and stronger. But who’s going to decide what’s an improvement? I think any kind of activity where we systematically change our very nature jeopardizes our relationship with God, who I believe was intent on creating humankind in our current state.

The notion of altering DNA that’s going to get passed to future generations, and is of uncertain consequence, does not measure up to most people’s standards of ethical acceptability. It certainly doesn’t measure up to mine.

[Source]

ON GENETIC PRIVACY and NONDISCRIMINATION

It is a great pleasure for me to be standing here today, a day when Congress has finished its work on the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) of 2008 and is sending it to the President for signature. This is a great gift to all Americans. It will make it safe for Americans to benefit from the medical results of the Human Genome Project, in which they invested so much. It will make it safe to have their genes examined without fear that they may be discriminated against in employment or health insurance. This is a great day. …

Finally, I want to thank President Bush, who has been a strong supporter of legislation to protect individuals from genetic discrimination for many years. When he came to visit NIH last year, he called on Congress to send him a bill that he could sign. And now, with the passage of this legislation, I look forward to that day soon when he gives all Americans the protection they need to freely participate in genomic medicine. …

This is a momentous day. Thank you, members of the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives, for giving a wonderful gift to the American people: protection from genetic discrimination.

[Source]

Passage of GINA can be credited to extensive efforts by literally hundreds of scientists, patients, lawyers, health care providers, and legislators spanning a decade. However, Francis Collins reasoned arguments that the American public should not have the fruits of the Human Genome Project used against them were of singular importance. The accomplishment of the protections GINA affords serve as a testimony to the good one individual can create in a system that to many seems hopelessly mired in competing interests.

[Source]

ON GENETIC TESTING AND ABORTION

He is also concerned about prenatal diagnosis in the fast-approaching time when the major disease-causing genes are easily detected. He cited with trepidation one survey that showed 11 percent of couples would abort a fetus if they knew it carried a gene for obesity. No such gene has been found; it was a study designed to probe where couples would draw the line. It is difficult to say you can’t abort, but for overall cultural mores, you run into problems, Dr. Collins said. It’s the classic slippery slope. You have a gray scale going from diseases like Tay-Sachs disease that cause death in early childhood all the way to the other end of the spectrum with abortions for sex selection, which most people would say is a misuse of technology. In between is a gray zone. Where do you draw the line? Another problem is that genetic risk assessment does not give absolutes, but instead gives probabilities. It may tell you that you have an 80 percent chance of getting Alzheimer’s disease or a 70 percent risk of diabetes, for example. Do you abort a fetus based on a risk rather than a certainty? Dr. Collins asked.

He said he wondered how much genetic information a couple should be entitled to. If people can learn everything that science can tell them about fetuses, he wonders, Will that move us toward homemade eugenics? He worries also that those who have money and resources will try to have the perfect baby, by aborting fetuses with genetic defects, and those who are poor will have to take what they get, creating a sort of genetic underclass.

[Source]

ON EMBRYONIC STEM CELL RESEARCH

and CLONING (SOMATIC CELL NUCLEAR TRANSFER)

ABERNETHY: Not far behind, says Collins, is the development of drugs for Alzheimer’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease, asthma and diabetes. Collins is also a strong supporter of stem cell research, and he thinks there’s a way to do this that, for him, removes the moral objections to destroying a human embryo. Collins favors what’s called somatic cell nuclear transfer, in which the nucleus of an egg is replaced by the nucleus of, for instance, a cell of skin.

Dr. COLLINS: Now that is very different in my mind, morally, than the union of sperm and egg. We do not in nature see somatic cell nuclear transfer occurring. This is a purely manmade event. And yet somehow we have attached to the product of that kind of activity the same moral status as the union of sperm and egg. I don’t know quite how we got there.

[Source]

Do you believe that personhood begins at conception?

You mean, is that when we get a soul? Now we’re into theology, and it’s an area where science isn’t really going to give you an answer. The only thing that science can say is that whatever line you draw between the fusion of sperm and egg and the birth of the baby is somewhat arbitrary. On the other hand, that doesn’t prove that the soul exists right at that moment of fusion. Identical twins do not have the same soul, yet they started out as the same union of sperm and egg.

You’re a born-again Christian who suggests that therapeutic cloning could be acceptable. Some other devout people consider it fundamentally immoral. What do you see differently?

There is a difference between doing research on an embryo that was generated by sperm and egg coming together, which is the way human beings are created, versus the very bizarre laboratory phenomenon of taking a nucleus from a skin cell or the udder cell of a sheep and putting it into an environment that takes it back in time to its stem cell state. In public discourse, they’re both called embryos. Even though the somatic cell nuclear transfer approach is a very different biological phenomenon, in many people’s minds it has been all blurred together. As a result, we’ve really missed out on a chance for a much more thoughtful, nuanced discussion, and we’re still trying to recover from that.

[Source]

In the book, Collins also defended research on existing embryonic stem cells, though he has expressed opposition to purposely creating them for research. Collins was present during the signing of an Executive Order by President Obama that reversed the government’s ban on funding stem-cell research back in March.

[Source]

So I think one thing we ought to do is, sort of, tone down the rhetoric and try to get our scientific facts straight. So stem cells— theres lots of different kinds of stem cells. The kind that I think many people are most concerned about are the ones that are derived from a human embryo which is produced by a sperm and an egg coming together. The way you and I got here.

There are hundreds of thousands of those embryos currently frozen away in in vitro fertilization clinics. And it is absolutely unrealistic to imagine that anything will happen to those other than theyre eventually getting discarded. So as much as I think human embryos deserve moral status, it is hard to see why its more ethical to throw them away than to take some that are destined for discarding and do something that might help somebody.

But as a scientist — I would say we are currently not making as much progress as we could if we had access to more of these stem cell lines. The ones that are currently available for federal funding is a very limited set and they clearly have flaws that make them hard to use. But you know what? I think that kind of stem cell research is actually not the part thats going to be most interesting.

The part thats really showing the most promise is to take a skin cell from you or me and convince that cell, which has the complete genome, to go back in time and become capable of making a liver cell or a brain cell or a blood — cell if you need it to. Thats reprogramming. Thats called [somatic] cell nuclear transfer in the current mode. And yet people still refer to those products as an embryo. Well, theres no sperm and egg involved here.

[Source]

It is a classic example of a collision between two very important principles. One is the sanctity of human life and the other is our strong mandate as human beings to alleviate suffering and to treat terrible diseases like diabetes, Parkinson’s, and spinal-cord injury. The very promising embryonic stem-cell research might potentially provide remarkable cures for those disorders. We don’t know that, but it might. And at the same time, many people feel, I think justifiably, this type of research is taking liberties with the notion of the sanctity of human life, by manipulating cells derived from a human embryo.

[Source]

Stem cells have been discussed for 10 years, and yet I fear that much of that discussion has been more heat than light. First of all, I believe that the product of a sperm and an egg, which is the first cell that goes on to develop a human being, deserves considerable moral consequences. This is an entity that ultimately becomes a human. So I would be opposed to the idea of creating embryos by mixing sperm and eggs together and then experimenting on the outcome of that, purely to understand research questions. On the other hand, there are hundreds of thousands of such embryos in freezers at in vitro fertilization clinics. In the process of in vitro fertilization, you almost invariably end up with more embryos than you can reimplant safely. The plausibility of those ever being reimplanted in the future — more than a few of them — is extremely low. Is it more ethical to leave them in those freezers forever or throw them away? Or is it more ethical to come up with some sort of use for those embryos that could help people? I think that’s not been widely discussed.

[Source]

Yeah, it’s called cloning, which is a very unfortunate term because it conjures up the idea that you’re trying to create a copy of that human being. And at this point, you’re doing nothing of the sort. You’re trying to create a cell line that could be used to substitute for something that a person desperately needs. It would only become a cloned person if you then intentionally decided to take those cells and reimplant them in the uterus of a recipient woman. And that, obviously, is something that we should not and must not [do] and probably should legislate against. But until you get to that point, it’s not clear to me that you’re dealing with something that deserves to be called an embryo or deserves to be given moral status.

[Source]

I would argue that the immediate product of a skin cell and an enucleated egg cell fall[s] short of the moral status of the union of sperm and egg. The former is a creation in the laboratory that does not occur in nature, and is not part of Gods plan to create a human individual. The latter is very much Gods plan, carried out through the millennia by our own species and many others.

From: Francis S. Collins, The Language of God (Free Press, NY), 2006; p. 256

I have two problems with cloning. The most apparent one is the safety concern. There will be carnage of unimaginable consequence if we attempt to clone human beings right now. Everything we know about every animal species for which cloning has been attempted indicates that only a tiny percentage give rise to live births that survive for more than a few days. Most of them result in miscarriages, birth defects, and newborn deaths of uncertain cause. Puzzling and troubling outcomes occur when you try to convince DNA from a differentiated cell that it’s actually an embryo again. It is unacceptable, given all of that data, to contemplate the cloning of a human being at the present time.

But of course, even if the safety issues were solved, would human reproductive cloning be an acceptable practice? It wouldn’t be for me. I believe that human beings have come into this world by having a mother and a father. To undertake a different pathway of creating a human being is a profound departure from the normal state of things. I have yet to hear a compelling argument for why we need to do that.

[Source]

Like virtually everyone else, I am strongly opposed to the idea of human reproductive cloning. Implanting the product of human SCNT into a uterus is profoundly immoral and ought to be opposed on the strongest possible grounds. On the other hand, protocols are already being developed to convince a single cell that has been derived from SCNT to be converted into a cell that senses glucose levels and secretes insulin, without going through any of the other steps of embryonic and fetal development. If such steps can result in tissue-matched cells that cure juvenile diabetes, why would that not be a morally acceptable procedure?

From: Francis S. Collins, The Language of God (Free Press, NY), 2006; p. 256

ON THE GENETICS OF HOMOSEXUALITY

An area of particularly strong public interest is the genetic basis of homosexuality. Evidence from twin studies does in fact support the conclusion that heritable factors play a role in male homosexuality. However, the likelihood that the identical twin of a homosexual male will also be gay is about 20 percent (compared with 2-4 percent of males in the general population), indicating that sexual orientation is genetically influenced but not hardwired by DNA, and that whatever genes are involved represent predispositions, not predeterminations.

From: Francis S. Collins, The Language of God (Free Press, NY), 2006; p. 260

ON ETHICS, SCIENCE POLICY, AND SOCIETY

First of all, it would be a mistake to simply leave those decisions to the scientists. Scientists have a critical role to play in such debates, since they possess special expertise that may enable a clear distinction of what is possible and what is not. But scientists cant be the only ones at the table. Scientists by their nature are hungry to explore the unknown. Their moral sense is in general no more or less well developed than that of other groups, and they are unavoidably afflicted by a potential conflict of interest that may cause them to resent boundaries set by nonscientists. Therefore, a wide variety of other perspectives must be represented at the table.

From: Francis S. Collins, The Language of God (Free Press, NY), 2006; p. 270-271

Change Watch: Kevin Jennings, Assistant Deputy Secretary for the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools

by Family Research Council

June 8, 2009

POSITION: ASSISTANT DEPUTY SECRETARY FOR THE OFFICE OF SAFE AND DRUG FREE SCHOOLS

NOMINEE: Kevin Jennings

Born: Winston-Salem, N.C.

Occupation: Executive Director, and founder, of GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network.

Education: graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College

View of Christians

Addressing a church audience on March 20, 2000 in New York City just days before “Fistgate” GLSEN Executive Director Kevin Jennings offered a stinging (and quite intolerant) assessment of how to deal with religious conservatives:

Twenty percent of people are hard-core fair-minded [pro-homosexual] people. Twenty percent are hard-core [anti-homosexual] bigots. We need to ignore the hard-core bigots, get more of the hard-core fair-minded people to speak up, and we’ll pull that 60 percent [of people in the middle] … over to our side. That’s really what I think our strategy has to be. We have to quit being afraid of the religious right. We also have to quit … I’m trying to find a way to say this. I’m trying not to say, ‘[F—-] ‘em!’ which is what I want to

say, because I don’t care what they think! [audience laughter] Drop dead! It should be noted that GLSEN and Jennings make heavy use of the words “respect” and “tolerance” in their public rhetoric and in descriptions of their programs. [Source]

GLSEN and Fistgate

GLSEN, which promotes homosexual clubs and the homosexual lifestyle in high schools, middle schools and grade schools and is the driving force behind the annual “Day of Silence” celebration of homosexuality

The most notorious education scandal involving homosexual activists is a GLSEN sponsored conference that occurred on March 25, 2000, dubbed Fistgate by conservatives. Three homosexual activists employed by the Massachusetts Departments of Health and Education led a youth workshop titled What They Didn’t Tell You about Queer Sex & Sexuality in Health Class part of the annual Boston-GLSEN Teach Out conference held at Tufts University. The Queer Sex session, advertised to youth only ages 14 to 21, was attended by Massachusetts family advocate Scott Whitemen, who taped it while standing in the back of the room.

In the workshop, instructor Michael Gaucher, prompted by a teen’s question, verbally guided the students on the mechanics of fisting a homosexual slang term for a sadistic sex act in which a man inserts his hand and arm into another person’s anal cavity.

Another instructor, Margot Abels, said fisting often gets a really bad rap, and described it innocuously as an experience of letting somebody into your body that you want to be that close and intimate with. Abels and Gaucher also guided the students on techniques

of oral sodomy and lesbian sex. [Source]

On Statutory Rape

In his own writings and books listed on the GLSEN [Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network] Website, I’ve reported, Kevin Jennings has given tacit nods of approval to sex between young teens and adults, (Linda) Harvey told WND. In addition to that, the writings and books, many of which I’ve read and are incredibly graphic, seem to

normalize early teen same-sex sexual behaviors. [Source]

Excerpts: Winning the Culture War speech, presented by Kevin Jennings at the Human Rights Campaign Fund Leadership Conference March 5, 1995

If the Radical Right can succeed in portraying us as preying on children, we will lose.

In Massachusetts the effective reframing of this issue was the key to the success of the Governor’s Commission on Gay and Lesbian Youth.

We immediately seized upon the opponent’s calling card— safety—and explained how homophobia represents a threat to students’ safety by creating a climate where violence, name- calling, health problems, and suicide are common. Titling our report ‘Making

Schools Safe for Gay and Lesbian Youth,’ we automatically threw our opponents onto the defensive and stole their best line of attack. [Source]

GLSEN: Kindergartners as Targets

During a celebration of National Ally Week, Tara Miller, a teacher at the Faith Ringgold School of Arts and Science in Hayward, Calif., passed out cards produced by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network to her class of kindergartners. The cards asked signers to be an ally and to pledge to not use anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) language or slurs; intervene, when I feel I can, in situationswhere others are using anti-LGBT language or harassing other students and actively support safer schools efforts. [Source]

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