Month Archives: December 2011

One builds, and one tears down: This Old House vs The Daily Show

by Family Research Council

December 9, 2011

There’s something interesting going on here. The Washington Post is reporting the top show for conservatives is the long running home improvement franchise, This Old House. Meanwhile, the tops for liberals is the irreverently humorous and oh so snarky, “The Daily Show” (The analysis does not include news, sports or music programming).

Now I don’t lean Jon Stewart’s way politically, but I’ve seen enough of his show to catch the appeal. If you like shooting fish in a barrel, and you already believe conservatives are those unfortunate fish, then Jon’s your guy. He’s in the tear-down business, and supplies a lot of Americans (young people in particular) with what passes for news. Not surprisingly, I’m not one of them.

On the other hand, after Saturday cartoons wrap up, my boys and I will often watch This Old House. Or as they like to call it, “The Man Show.” I’ll never forget the day we were watching the program and my oldest son asked me, “Dad, who are the bad guys?” He’s four, so I didn’t tell him, “Jon Stewart.” Only kidding, Jon.

As anecdotal as media choices may be, the contrast between these two shows is stark indeed. It reminds me of Proverbs 14:1: The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.

I think it says something that out of all the programming choices available, conservatives favor a family-centric, home building show hosted by a genial group of working class dudes. It’s reflective of our values: we’re builders of families, homes and businesses. We’d much rather focus on our own hearths than those on K street, Wall street or Pennsylvania Avenue. We’re not looking for a fight except when one lands on our doorstep, and we’re really not that into politics. We tend to believe the family is the primary vehicle through which good culture is communicated, and have much lower expectations when it comes to government. Please don’t ask me to explain “The Bachelor.” Aside from its obvious nod to sexuality, there is no explanation for such a show.

It’s interesting, too, that of all the programming choices available, our liberal neighbors favor a biting political comedy-entary. (I don’t think that’s a word yet, but it probably should be.) What values is this reflecting? Perhaps: government is the center of public life and the highest of man’s achievements, or maybe, it’s good fun to tear down those who disagree. That’s all conjecture, of course, as I don’t really watch the Daily Show. I can think of plenty of counterexamples in my own life to these extrapolations, but itd be hard to argue that the growth of leviathan doesnt undermine the family. One neednt look further than family formation and fertility rates in Western Europe to see how this plays out.

In any case, I’ve got to go fix some electrical issues at our new old house. I’ll see if my boys want to help.

Hey Google, Don’t Be Evil?

by Robert Morrison

December 8, 2011

Google famously tells the world: Don’t Be Evil. Good idea. There’s a lot of evil going around. Yesterday, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunnis decided to take their dispute with Shi’ites to a higher court when one of these votaries of the religion of peace entered a Shi’ite mosque and blew himself up, killing dozens of others. Evil. Pretty clearcut. But then there’s today’s Google logo. It’s a tribute to the 125th anniversary of Diego Rivera’s birth.

Check it out. I have a terrible confession. I like it. The guy’s art is appealing. His murals of Mexican peasants and industrial workers touch me. I love his bold, bright colors. My hero Winston Churchill said he planned to spend his first thousand years in heaven assaulting canvasses with nothing but the loudest, brashest of colors. So what’s the row about good old Diego? Well, the big Mexican folk artist (big in reputation, and 300 pounds big) was a big Communist. The Rockefellers kind of balked at his May Day mural featuring good old Vladimir Lenin leading the happy peasants and workers through Red Square. Lenin, it should be remembered, whose Communist Party card was Number One, refused to let his mistress play Beethoven piano sonatas for him; he didn’t want them to soften him. Lenin enjoyed, really got a rush out of picking up a telephone in his Kremlin office and ordering a thousand people shot in Vladivostok, 9,000 miles away from Moscow. Okay, so I can’t help liking Rivera’s art, minus Lenin. But here’s a link I felt honor-bound to consult. I doubt you’re going to see Nikolai Getman on the “Don’t Be Evil” corporate logo anytime soon. He’s unknown outside conservative circles. But I hope we will all check out his Gulag Collection. He doesn’t have as many bright colors as Diego Rivera.

Slave labor camps tend to be a bit monochrome. Look at Getman’s haunting paintings of zeks being shot, or forced to work in uranium mines, or even being staked out, Christ-like, on a tree to be attacked by swarms of Siberian mosquitos. So, feeling guilty about Diego Rivera reminded me to check out Nikolai Getman once again. Our heroes will never be the most popular. Their work will never be seen in Rockefeller Center. They will not be offered in exhibits in the National Gallery of Art. Their birthdays will not be celebrated by Google. But here’s a consolation. If you study Nikolai Getman’s Gulag Collection, you’ll have a leg up on not being evil.

The Bible and the Founding of Our Country

by Rob Schwarzwalder

December 7, 2011

FRC’s friend Daniel Dreisbach holds a Ph.D. from Oxford University and a law degree from one of America’s most prestigious law schools (the University of Virginia). He is also a full professor in the Department of Law, Justice, and Society at American University. When Dr. Dreisbach speaks, the academic world listens.

His latest article is titled, “The Bible in the Political Rhetoric of the American Founding,”1 and is published as the lead article in the current edition of the American Political Science Association’s Politics and Religion Journal. Dr. Dreisbach reviews in thorough detail in what ways and how often America’s Founding Fathers used the Bible in their political discourse. Putting it simply, they used it constantly. As he writes in his article, “The Bible and biblical precepts penetrated the core beliefs of many founders and the ubiquitous manifestations of those beliefs in public and private utterances.” In another section of the paper, he observes that the Bible “was also a source of normative standards and transcendent rules to order and judge public life.”

Of course, as Dr. Dreisbach also notes, sometimes the Founders quoted Scripture simply because the broad cultural familiarity with the King James Version. “The nature of political rhetoric,” as he notes, means that sometimes they used biblical phrasing “for literary, rhetorical, or political purposes.”

Yet with that said, there can be no doubt that the teachings of the Word of God had a profound effect on the beliefs and actions of those who created our Republic. “Both influential and ordinary citizens drew on biblical language, ideas, and themes in thinking and talking about the political challenges that confronted them,” Dr. Dreisbach concludes.

Biblical illiteracy is widespread in our time. Still, an acquaintance with the Bible is essential to understanding the foundations of our country and culture. Even more, biblical principles are eternal. They were critical at the nation’s beginning, and remain so today.

To listen to Dr. Dreisbach’s FRC lecture on the Christian roots of America’s founding, click here.


1 “The Bible in the Political Rhetoric of the American Founding,” Politics and Religion Journal, December 2011.

You Will Always be With Me: Fetal Cells Cross Placenta and Stay with Mom for Life

by Cathy Ruse

December 7, 2011

You will always be a part of me, might be a mothers teary farewell when her child goes off to college, but research is showing its quite literally true.

Kathy Ostrowski reports in the Kansans for Life blog on a recent National Public Radio Morning Edition program featuring Science editor Robert Krulwich and his explosive report about fetomaternal microchimerism. According to Krulwich there is increasing evidence that when a woman has a baby, she gets not just a son or daughter, [but] an army of protective cells gifts from her children that will stay inside her and defend her for the rest of her life.

Some interesting points and quotes from the segment:

  • In a teaspoon of an ordinary pregnant womans blood… [are] dozens, perhaps even hundreds of cells… from the baby, according to a Tufts University researcher. Lab studies done over and over and over and over of mother mice with diseases (ovarian, endometrial, and cervical cancers) show that fetal cells rush to the places where theyre needed in the mom.
  • The cells of an unborn child will stay in the mother for decades… essentially forever, said a researcher from Thomas Jefferson University. Theres a lot of evidence now starting to come out that these cells may actually be repairing tissue.
  • A study involving a Boston woman with hepatitis (and a history of five pregnancies) found hundreds of fetal cells at work repairing her liver.

In a culture where children are too often seen as a threat to self, heres an argument that might reach even the hardest heart.

The Pearl Harbor Attack—December 7, 1941: A Date Which Will Live in Oblivion?

by Robert Morrison

December 7, 2011

Defense Sec. Leon Panetta has issued a commemorative message to the survivors of Pearl Harbor. It might better be called Leons Amazing Whodunnit. The secretary waxes poetic, calling the generation that fought World War II the greatest generation and lauding their heroic sacrifice. He thanks them for their courage and steadfastness. This is entirely appropriate.

Theres only one thing missing: Nowhere in Panettas paean to the vets does he mention why this date, which President Roosevelt called a date which will live in infamy, should be remembered. He never mentions that the attack was staged by air and naval forces of Imperial Japan.

Now, if you are a modern Secretary of Defense, you must remember always that America has had a close and cooperative alliance with democratic Japan for more than half a century. You doubtless recall as well that we have U.S. armed forces stationed in various bases in Japan today. You will also want to keep in mind the fact that Japan looks to us for military assistance in the event that North Korea attacks South Korea, or China attacks Taiwan. And we rely on Japan for vital intelligence about movements in Asia.

All of that is well and good. It would have been quite fitting to denounce only the infamy of Japans militarists of 1941. For more than twenty years prior to that dastardly attack, the forces of democracy in Japan were under assault at home. Leaders of Japans parliamentary government were systematically targeted for assassination by young fanatics in the military. Those militants were given encouragement and shelter by these same senior militarists.

No good purpose is served by failing to point these things out. When Saigon fell to the Communists in 1975, the hapless President Ford said this is no day for recriminations.

Ronald Reagan, soon to mount a powerful challenge to Ford, reportedly said: What better day?

So it is today. What better day to recall that on this date in 1941, air and naval forces of the Empire of Japan staged a bloody attack on a nation with whom they were at peace? Failure to point these things out today leads us to underestimate the miracle of our genuine friendship of today.

Former President George H.W. Bush spoke to the U.S. Naval Academy Midshipmen several years ago. He said the most underreported story of the second half of the Twentieth Century was the renewal of close friendship between the American and Japanese peoples. Bush told the Mids they could not imagine the hatred that existed toward all Japanese in the Second World War. As the youngest naval aviator in history, Bush described his plane being shot down by the Japanese over Chichi Jima.

As the waves pushed his inflatable boat inexorably toward that Pacific island, Bush described how he frantically paddled to get away. He knew that captured American fliers were tortured, killed and eaten there. Crying and puking, he said, he thanked God when he saw the submarine USS Finback surface to rescue him.

President Bushs remembrance was of vital importance to those Midshipmen. Within the Brigade of Midshipmen that listened attentively to him that night were several cadets from the Japanese naval academy. Also in attendance were several exchange officers from todays Japanese Navy.

My own family cherishes the friendships we have with foreign exchange officers at the Naval Academy, including those from Japan and Germany. Those nations were our bitterest foes in World War II. We have reached out to our foreign friends, as well as to those Midshipmen who come from newly independent navies of the former Soviet Union.

Peace and reconciliation are sweet rewards of American victories. They are the fruit of peace through strength. Nothing is served, however, by memorial messages that dont memorialize. Amnesia is never a good policy. Mr. Secretary: There is a who in this whodunit!

Glenn Reynolds on the Education Bubble

by Chris Gacek

December 7, 2011

Glenn Harlan Reynolds is a law professor at the Universityof Tennessee. He is also the founder of the Instapundit blog. Professor Reynolds has taken a considerable interest in the skyrocketing cost of higher education and the accompanying debt spiral. He wrote about the topic first in a Washington Examiner column in June 2010 (Higher Educations Bubble Is about to Burst) and then again in an Examiner column in August 2010 (Further Thoughts on the Higher Education Bubble). He also gave a lecture on the topic in the Fall of 2010 at the Clemson Institute for the Study of Capitalism at Clemson University (The Higher Education Bubble and What Comes Next).

At its core, Reynolds thesis is simple. He notes that education costs have risen at multiples of the general level of inflation in the economy. Roughly speaking over the past thirty years, U.S. inflation was about 106%; health care costs increased 251%; and, college tuition costs increased 439%. Next, he borrows the economist Herbert Steins maxim that things that are unsustainable, wont be sustained. These levels of excess cost increases for higher education are so great that they cannot and wont be sustained over time.

This weekend, Professor Reynolds, had another column on this topic in the Washington Examiner. Reynold made a couple of additional points. First, he believes that college loan debt should be subject to elimination in bankruptcy. That is not possible now. Related to this he makes the following recommendation:

For higher education, the solution is more value for less money. Student loans, if they are to continue, should be made dischargeable in bankruptcy after five years — but with the school that received the money on the hook for all or part of the unpaid balance.

Up until now, the loan guarantees have meant that colleges, like the writers of subprime mortgages a few years ago, got their money up front, with any problems in payment falling on someone else.

Make defaults expensive to colleges, and they’ll become much more careful about how much they lend and what kinds of programs they offer. China, which has already faced its own higher education bubble, is simply shutting down programs that produce too many unemployable graduates.

Second, Reynolds argues that it may be time for skilled trades to make a return along with a return of vocational education. (As he writes, We need people who can make things, and its harder to outsource a plumbing or welding job to somebody in Bangalore.)

Ultimately, he argues correctly that the skill that is most needed for young workers now is adaptability. That seems to be clearly correct.

Check out the articles and the lecture, they are worth your time if you have an interest in this topic.

 

Early on a Frosty Mornin

by Robert Morrison

December 6, 2011

I was headed to the hospital where my granddaughters were born. It excited me to think that they were born on my late fathers 101st birthday. My Pop was the Yankee-est of Yankees, born in Brooklyn. He never tired of telling me tales of the Civil War. He was a serious student of Lincolns diplomacy.

I was born in Brooklyn, too, and less than ten miles from the Old Navy Yard where the great Union warship, USS Monitor, had been built. It was the Monitor that defeated the Confederate ram Merrimack in a monumental clash off Hampton Roads, Virginia, March 9, 1862. As Pop taught me, the day before that fateful encounter, the ironclad Merrimack had devastated Union warships blockading the South. The rebels had re-named their seized Union warship the CSS Virginia.

This monster sank the Congress, and the Cumberland the previous day and was bearing down on the vulnerable wooden Minnesota. The day prior to the battle of the Monitor and the Merrimack was the worst single day for the U.S. Navy in its history, prior to Pearl Harbor. If the South succeeded in breaking the Union blockade, then recognition of the independence of the Confederate States of America might rapidly follow and a breakup of the Union would be inevitable. Thats how important it was when that little cheese box on a raft steamed forth to meet the Merrimack.

Most writers record the results of that one-day battle as a draw, noting that the Monitor and the Merrimack both withdrew after hours of face-to-face combat. In reality, however, it was a Union triumph. The Souths super weapon had been checked. The blockade would continue, Europe would not intervene, and the Union would survive.

Strong as I was for the Union, I remembered Lincolns words. He would not play the Pharisee. We should, he said, struggle to be on Gods side.

I thought of all this a lot as I headed South to visit with my beloved family. I could hardly pass a town in Virginia on I-95Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania Courthouse, Petersburg, Richmondwithout having a flood of rich associations from my countrys and my familys history. A great-uncle was taken prisoner by Union forces at Spotsylvania in 1864.

Then, it struck me: My grandchildren, a grandson who turns three this week, and my twin granddaughters born last week, have all been born in Dixie, in the Old Dominion. And I was visiting them early on a frosty mornin. That line from the old tune, Dixie, warmed my heart.

We are told that you cant play Dixie. Why not? When news came to Washington that Gen. Lee had surrendered at Appomattox, President Lincoln spoke to a jubilant crowd from the White House. He leaned out from a balcony window and asked the military banda United States Army bandto play Dixie. He noted that he had always liked that tune. And now that the war was over, or nearly so, the Attorney General had advised the President that Dixie was once again the property of the American people. And those rebel flags surrendered to Gen. Grant were also federal property.

Lincolns son Tad delighted the crowd by excitedly waving a captured rebel flag as his father was speaking.

During my long drives South, I listened to The Personal Memoirs of U.S. Grant. This literary masterpiece was written as the former president lay dying of throat cancer in 1885. The intelligence, candor and goodwill of this great man shines through every line.

Grant was an uncompromising Union man. He offered this message to a West Point classmate, a close friend who had attended Grants wedding, but who in 1862 commanded the Confederate Fort Donelson: No terms except unconditional surrender.

Instantly, Grant became a Union hero. U.S. GrantUnconditional Surrender Grant.

Yet, it was this Gen. Grant who met Gen. Robert E. Lee at Appomattox and sought to protect the Southern chieftains dignity. No word of reproach, no hint of humiliation of his defeated rival was allowed. When Union batteries began a 101-gun salute to celebrate the rebels surrender, Grant ordered it stopped. Cease fire. It was also Grant who, upon learning the rebels were starving, quickly ordered 25,000 rations sent to his former foes.

Too many today fail to recognize Grants gallantry, his almost unbelievable sense of chivalry. No other nation on earth would so treat a defeated rebel chieftain. He was following Abraham Lincolns guidance to let `em up easy.

Grants sense of duty and honor did not end at Appomattox. When President Andrew Johnson, the martyred Lincolns unworthy successor, tried to prosecute Lee for treason, Grant hurried to the White House. He would resign, he told the avenger Johnson, and so would Sherman, if this dishonorable business went any further, Grant said. The willful Johnson backed down.

Of course, we still have vengeful people today. Some journalists persist in calling Lee a traitor, and saying he is unworthy of any honors. Lee never asked for honors. But he surely gave them. One of his professors at Washington College (now Washington & Lee University) denounced Grants nomination for president. The Confederate veteran harangued Lee, the schools president, about Grants drunkenness, Lee fixed him with a cold stare: If you ever say anything like that about Gen. Grant again, one or the other of us will end his association with this college.

The Civil War was a wrenching experience for our country. We can all give thanks that our nation produced such men as Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, U.S. Grant, Robert E. Lee and William Tecumseh Sherman to guide us through that fiery trial. And I am grateful to God for my much-loved Southern friends and family.

Wal-Mart/P&Gs Famly Film Game of Your Life is a Geeky Good Time

by Family Research Council

December 1, 2011

Wal-Mart and P&G release their ninth Family Movie Night film on December 2 at 8 p.m. Eastern on NBC. Game of Your Life follows talented young computer programmer Zach Taylor (Titus Makin Jr.), who has just won a scholarship to attend a video game design program. But the program is exclusive, and half of the students will be eliminated in the first three months. To make it through the first semester, he and a team of fellow students Sara (Dana De La Garza), and the brilliant nerds Phillip (Nathan Kress) and Donald (Adam Cagley) must design a computer game centered on choices and resolution. But when Zach learns that his father is in financial trouble, he has his own choice to make: whether to accept a side consulting job that will take his time away from his project and could hurt his teammates chances of staying in the program.

Game of Your Life features strong acting from Makin and his team. The story is goofy but entertaining, and sure to appeal to the inner gamer in all of us. Parents who want a family-friendly movie for Friday night will also enjoy seeing Back to the Future star Lea Thompson as motherly teacher Abbie.

World Aids Day: A message of hope and behavioral change

by Family Research Council

December 1, 2011

Its World Aids Daya time to unite in the fight against HIV and commemorate those who have died of the disease.

Political parties will vehemently disagree on the precise tactics and funding levels required to address this horrific disease. But in a refreshingly bipartisan event this morning, President Barack Obama made the following comment:

As we go forward, we need to keep refining our strategy so that we’re saving as many lives as possible. We need to listen when the scientific community focuses on prevention.

My good friend Suzanne Taylor just released a film that tells the moving story of the treacherous AIDS epidemic in the African country of Botswana. The Road We Know documents what a small group of college students are doing to encourage prevention.

In Botswana, 1 in 4 people adults has HIV/AIDS. But while the government has done everything the Western world has encouragedlike handing out condoms and offering free testingthe formula has clearly failed.

Desperate for a solution, the government invited a small group of college students to help save their generation with a message of hope and behavior change.

In the films trailer, the student leaders share an upbeat message across the country—a message that sex is good and that abstinence isnt only possible, its life-saving. As President George W. Bush remarked in his 2004 State of the Union Address, Abstinence … is the only certain way to avoid sexually transmitted diseases.

In a 2010 report, UNAIDS could point to a 25 percent drop or more in new infections for young adults ages 15 to 24 in 15 of the most infected nations—primarily due to sexual behavior change. This confirmed that story documented in Botswana was not an isolated trend.

Now thats a message of hope and change. The kind we should all believe in.

To watch the film or host a screening, visit www.theroadweknow.com.

To connect with Evangelical or Catholic AIDS ministries, check out FRCs Real Compassion website at www.realcompassion.org.

Pro-Gay Activist Admits It: Bullying Hysteria May Cause Suicides, Not Prevent Them

by Peter Sprigg

December 1, 2011

Ever since the highly-publicized suicide of a New Jersey college student in September of 2010, pro-homosexual activists have been using the issues of bullying and teen suicide as tools in pursuit of their political agenda, and as rhetorical weapons against those who oppose it. Every time another report surfaced about a suicide by a teenager who identified as or was perceived to be gay, and who had reportedly been bullied, the finger would be pointed directly at conservatives. Bullying causes suicides, we were told, and public expression of conservative political, social, or religious viewpoints concerning homosexuality causes bullying. Affirm homosexual conduct as morally neutral, or more kids will die.

As early as October of 2010, however, experts on suicide prevention were warning that this simplistic approach linking suicides (which are always tragic) to bullying (which is always wrong) could do more harm than good. An article based on an interview with Ann Haas, research director for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, asked, [W]hat if the way were talking about these suicides could actually be encouraging vulnerable young people to copycat the tragic behavior?

A year later, a commentary last month on the website of The Advocate, the nations leading gay magazine, finally admitted that this is a serious problem. David McFarland is interim executive director and CEO of The Trevor Project, which runs a suicide prevention hotline for LGBT youth. McFarland cited the political and cultural benefit from showcasing the health crisis of disproportionate rates of suicide and incidences of bullying that affect LBGT young people. Howeverin an astonishing admissionhe also acknowledged that this tactic has also increased suicide risk.

Got that? Here is a pro-homosexual activist admitting that this tactic (showcasing … suicide and … bullying) has also increased suicide risk (emphasis added).

There are three key problems with the bullying causes suicide theme. The first is that it ignores most of what we know about the causes of suicide. McFarland acknowledges gently that the reasons a person attempts suicide are … complicated, and notes that suicide is closely tied to psychological well-being. Haas was more blunt, indicating to the reporter that underlying mental-health issues … are present in 90 percent of people who die by suicide. In other words, most people who are bullied do not commit suicide. It is mental illnessnot bullyingthat causes most suicides.

However, the second problem with emphasizing the link between bullying and suicide is that, as McFarland states, it can influence someone who is at-risk to assume that taking your own life is what youre supposed to do next if you are LGBT or bullied. Haas made the same point a year ago, warning that publicly identifying bullying as a motive for suicide can mak[e] suicide seem like an understandable, if not unavoidable, culmination of a person’s experience. She added, Suicide is not a rational act. McFarland makes the same point, declaring that we can help avoid making suicide appear like a logical choice.

The third problem, which flows out of the second, is what McFarland refers to as suicide contagion. He warns that the more a story of a particular victim is out there, the more likely one or more people who are at-risk will also attempt suicide. Haas warned, Stories depicting the person who’s died by suicide as very sympathetic can inadvertently encourage vulnerable young people to identify with him or her. In other words, being revered as a martyr in death can appear more attractive than experiencing continuing pain in life.

We should do all we can to help young people with mental illnesswhether homosexual or heterosexualand to prevent teen suicides. And we should do all we can to prevent bullying of any childfor their sexual orientation, appearance, religion, or any other reason. But it is time for homosexual activists to stop exploiting personal tragedies to advance their political agendaespecially in a way that may cause more such tragedies.

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