Month Archives: March 2009

Let’s Honor “Jemmie” Madison!

by Robert Morrison

March 20, 2009

James Madison’s birthday came around this week. We might have celebrated with ice cream, which his beloved wife, Dolley, first served at a Presidential Inauguration in 1813. March 16th was not attended with the kind of celebration we used to accord George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. Nonetheless, this 5-foot, 4-inch founder was a giant whose memory deserves to be honored. Sadly, all of our greatest Presidents seem to have been submerged in the indigestible stew we now call Presidents Day. Despite this, we should all be grateful to little “Jemmie” Madison.

Madison was a leader in establishing religious liberty for Americans-and this “lustre of our country” (his beautiful phrase) made America a beacon for the oppressed of many lands. In the nineteenth century, America was treasured as a refuge for Catholics, Baptists, Lutherans, and Jews. Even today, Christian Arabs, Cuban and Vietnamese Catholics, Hispanic Pentecostals, Russian Jews, and many other peoples have found America a safe haven.

Madison’s leadership succeeded in bringing Jefferson’s vision of a free republic with complete religious freedom to their beloved Virginia. Jefferson had introduced his bill to establish religious freedom in 1779. Then, in the midst of our revolution, Virginia was still in danger of British invasion. The Virginia General Assembly did not act on Jefferson’s bill until seven years later. By 1786, with peace and independence secured, Madison could successfully carry the legislative fight for his best friend, Jefferson. The Sage of Monticello was away in France at the time. Separated by the Atlantic, the two corresponded regularly, and Jefferson congratulated his friend on their mutual success. All Europe, he reported, had received the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom with approval. Well, all enlightened Europeans, anyway.

Madison soon turned to Philadelphia. There, the lessons he learned in the fight for religious freedom helped him to see that in a multiplicity of factions lay liberty’s guarantee. Just as in Virginia, the many denominations of Christians helped ensure the religious liberty of all.

Madison had stood firmly against Patrick Henry’s attempt to have Virginia’s government tax all citizens for the maintenance of Christian ministers and teachers. Henry understood that republican government could not survive without religious support. Madison’s famous Memorial and Remonstrance of 1785, however, warned against allowing the state to determine who should be recognized as Christian and who should be eligible for state disbursements. Madison’s arguments proved persuasive to Virginia’s burgeoning Baptists-who sought nothing from the state but freedom to preach and teach.

Many of today’s atheizers see Madison as a natural ally in their determination to rid the public square of all vestiges of the Christian religion. Madison and Jefferson, they argue, supported the highest of high walls of separation between church and state. Where Jefferson and Madison declined, in their four terms as President, to proclaim days of Thanksgiving and fasting, atheizers see their own anti-religious views affirmed.

The atheizers have more trouble explaining away Madison’s famous churchyard debate with James Monroe in January, 1789. At Hebron Lutheran Church, near Charlottesville, Virginia, James Madison stood for three hours in the cold to appeal for the votes of Christian citizens in “that nest of Dutchmen [Germans].” Madison must have impressed the Lutherans with his soft-spoken sincerity and with his commitment to religious liberty. He was described as always the best prepared in any debate.

Arch separationists today would have us believe that we violate the First Amendment whenever politicians seek support from Christian citizens. But Madison won that election and proceeded from that snowy churchyard to New York. There, he joined the First Congress and wrote the First Amendment.

It is clear that Madison would have opposed federal grants and contracts going to churches as churches. The fact is that both Madison and Jefferson wanted a federal government vastly smaller, far more limited in scope and powers, than what we see today.

They would both have been appalled at the mountain of debt now threatening to crash down on us and our posterity.

Assuming, however, that Madison and Jefferson could be enlisted to support a broad system of federal grants and contracts, it is highly doubtful that they would have refused funding only to those organizations that are faith-based. In fact, Jefferson specifically authorized federal funds for missionaries to the Kaskaskia Indians. Those missionaries’ efforts for health, agriculture and literacy among the tribes would benefit all Americans.

So, today, we have faith-based organizations which have been permitted to compete with secular groups for federal funds. The faith-based groups have been advised, wisely, to incorporate as charitable, tax-exempt institutions which stand apart from churches and synagogues.

President Obama has signaled his willingness to let this program survive, but his projected changes may make it unrecognizable-and unworkable. His denial of the faith-based groups’ right to hire from among their own adherents while maintaining their organizational independence and their creedal integrity may mean that only those with views congenial to this administration will be funded.

This begins to sound like the very situation Madison remonstrated against in his great Memorial and Remonstrance. We may have a government friendly to religion only if that religion is friendly to a particular President’s objectives.

Can’t we just bring back Kilborn?

by Michael Fragoso

March 19, 2009

For those of you keeping track, there has been a recent bevy of digital ink spilt on the Jon Stewart- Jim Cramer kerfuffle.  At about the same time I chimed in, Mark Hemmingway at National Review gave us an excellent run down on this feud and the larger Stewart comedic bait-and-switch.  Wunderkind Ben Shapiro presented a similar anti-Stewart brief over at Big Hollywood.  Tucker Carlson has presented his insider’s testimony about Stewart as pseudo-pundit.  And the always enjoyable Jon Last has been following the business with a matter-of-fact and correct read on Stewart’s soporific lack of funny.  Furthermore, the CEO of NBC Universal, Jeff Zucker, has gone on the attack, calling Stewart’s hit job “absurd.”

A friend of mine reminds me that amidst all of this Jon Stewart-as-comic-or-pundit talk it would be best if we kept one neologism in mind: “clapter.”  About a year ago Reader’s Digest ran an interview with Tina Fey.  Like Stewart, Fey is about as mired in leftist politics as they come; unlike Stewart, Fey happens to be funny.  During the interview, Fey was asked what pleases her more, applause or laughter.  She responded,Laughter. You can prompt applause with a sign. My friend, SNL writer Seth Meyers, coined the term clapter, which is when you do a political joke and people go, ‘Woo-hoo.’ It means they sort of approve but didn’t really like it that much. You hear a lot of that on [whispers] The Daily Show.“  From the mouths of Democrats. 

 

Blogosphere Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

March 19, 2009

Here’s some of the buzz from the blogosphere today.

Daily Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

March 19, 2009

Here’s some news clips we are looking at today.

Blogosphere Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

March 19, 2009

Here’s some of the buzz from the blogosphere today.

Daily Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

March 18, 2009

Here is a glimpse into today’s Washington Update.

  • U.S. Declaration
  • The Cloakroom
  • Hooked

Here is some of the stories we are looking at today.

Who’s the Real Bully?

by Robert Morrison

March 18, 2009

President Obama’s omnibus spending bill contains many odd line items. Here’s one: $1.2 billion for what the bill calls “anti-bullying” curricula. One may wonder when it became the federal government’s responsibility to protect our children from the schoolyard bullies. In my long ago high school, the Boys’ Leaders Club stopped bullies from even getting started. And if they didn’t succeed, there was always Mr. Martinell’s “board of education,” firmly applied to the seat of the pants.

Ever since the horror of Columbine High School in 1999, and the mass murders on campus at Virginia Tech several years ago, worried parents have been trying to find answers to why some students “snap” and attack their classmates with murderous violence.

 

In some cases, it may be because they’ve been taunted, teased, bullied. But what has been a perennial parental concern about schoolyard violence has now been hijacked by the gay lobby. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the huge Washington, D.C.-based gay lobbying outfit has initiated a campaign to have our public schools declare themselves Welcoming Schools. In the pursuit of this warm welcome, HRC wants all schools in America to affirm the gay lifestyle.

Part of the “anti-bullying” curriculum HRC is touting nationwide has been the assignment of such books as “Sissy Duckling” and “King and King.” “Sissy Duckling” is described as a book whose “characters challenge gender norms.” “King and King” features one young prince charming who fails to find an eligible princess and pledges his troth instead to another man.

A column by Katherine Kersten in The Minneapolis Star-Tribune exposes the real agenda behind these so-called anti-bullying curricula. Mrs. Kersten points out that the Welcoming Schools program hardly addresses the traditional targets of schoolyard bullies-kids of a different race or ethnicity, kids who are undersized, overfed, and that staple of child antagonism, kids who wear glasses. Instead, the curriculum is heavily weighted on the subjects of anti-gay, anti-lesbian stereotypes

There should not even be a bullying problem in Minneapolis. Don’t these kids listen to Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion? Whatever became of “Minnesota Nice?”

Mrs. Kersten quotes a parent from Minneapolis’ Hale (elementary) School. Arbuc Flomo is with the Coalition for Parents’ Rights. Mr. Flomo says the curriculum is “a direct slap in parents’ faces.” Flomo cites examples of the curriculum’s typical style of instruction: “I used to think, but now I know…” Every “now I know” statement rejects what parents teach and affirms the new politically correct lessons. Mr. Flomo sees the curriculum as an assault on the parents’ moral code.

In one rigged “exercise,” first graders are instructed to put together a puzzle to form families. Except they can’t form traditional units of Mom, Dad, and children. They are forced to form families with same-sex adults and their children. “Students will find that they must create some families with adults of the same gender.”

Notice the must. This is not education. It’s heavy-handed indoctrination. The Hale School principal, Bob Brancale, said the Welcoming Schools curriculum would be implemented “regardless of the personal issues of parents or staff.” Remember when we learned that principal was spelled with an “a” because the school principal was your pal? Whatever became of school administrators as public servants?

These impressionable little children are supposed to repeat the received wisdom from their anti-bullying instructors. And what if they resist? Is there a better definition of bullying than this? Here we see paid agents of the state forcing kids to regurgitate the approved liberal line on homosexuality. The kids are in that classroom by force of law. Mandatory attendance laws govern their presence in those classrooms unless their parents can afford private schools or unless they have the courage, determination, and the time to home school.

Barack and Michelle Obama have just placed their darling girls in Sidwell Friends, a very tony private school in Washington, D.C. At the same time he sends his girls to school in a 10-car caravan with Secret Service protection, the President is allowing Congress to cut the D.C. Opportunity Scholarships-vouchers—that have allowed some 1,700 Washington poor kids to attend private schools in the nation’s capital. But don’t worry, when two of those poor kids have to leave Sidwell Friends, they’ll have a nice, welcoming, gay-indoctrinating public school to attend instead. And if they still have to worry about real schoolyard bullies, maybe the Obamas will invite their children’s former classmates over to play on the new White House playground.

The War against CNBC (and Free Speech) Escalates

by Chris Gacek

March 18, 2009

            You can’t say the FRC blog isn’t timely.  Over the past two weeks my colleague Michael Fragoso and I have written on this blog about the emerging position of CNBC as a major, national news source and the adverse impact of that development on the Obama administration.   

            This state of affairs escalated enormously over the weekend after CNBC’s Jim Cramer was slapped silly on Jon Stewart’s Comedy Central program last Thursday.  Stewart is part of the Democrat-Left-Borg collective that hurtles through space attempting to bludgeon those who oppose their agenda into abject submission.  (For an excellent analysis of Stewart’s completely dishonest attack on CNBC’s Rick Santelli read this post by Dan Gifford on the Big Hollywood blog.)

            Stewart has been on television for years, but I don’t recall that he ever attacked the integrity of CNBC before.  Of course, CNBC never before pointed out that the Obama economic program was failing miserably.  Therein lies the difference.  When was the last time Stewart viciously sandbagged a Lefty guest while declaring his righteous outrage?  Answer: [Hear crickets chirping] Never happened.

            In short, we have entered an unparalleled time in which the Hollywood-media-“news”-industrial-complex makes little or no attempt to pretend that it is not advancing the socialist, anti-family, anti-church agenda of the Left.  Where will Barack Obama be tonight?  On the Jay Leno show, I believe.  The alliance begun during the presidential campaign appears to grow stronger daily.

            In the last couple weeks The Politico (www.politico.com) has published a series of extraordinary stories describing planned attacks originating from the White House and Leftist activist groups targeting political enemies. Read this piece as an example.  As such, it was not surprising that Tony Blankley observed here in today’s Washington Times that the atmosphere in Washington has become incredibly poisonous and ugly.

            Well, folks, about two months down and forty-six to go.  It’s going to get interesting.

Washington’s Omie o kiru

by Family Research Council

March 17, 2009

A U.S. Senator talks of honorable suicide for well-heeled executives who have received company bonuses and then benefited from bailout money from the taxpayers. Armed guards are posted outside the insurance giant AIG to protect its employees from an angry public. The President declares himself outraged at corporate excess. Larry Summers, the Obama Administration’s top economic adviser, says the same. Thus our national economy is fast transforming into a giant kabuki play, or more precisely a sewa-mono, a domestic drama in which theft and suicide are classic themes.

What is becoming of this nation if it is not the puppeteering of what should be an economy of risk and reward where, with reasonable regulation for health, consumer disclosure, and mitigation of monopolies, the government steps back and allows customers and investors to act on opportunity and react to failure? The greed of some private sector actors is real enough, but the umbrage of many political actors rings hollow. Can we recover the bonuses paid to executives who could not keep their businesses profitable? Why, government has made unprofitability the test of whether certain businesses, like certain mortgagees, get aid.

Here is a simpler idea: anyone who receives government bailout aid, direct or indirect, or benefits from a no-bid government contract of any kind, forfeits their right as individuals to donate to federal political campaigns for a period of five years. That would have some genuine impact on this Kabuki cycle

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