Month Archives: February 2014

The Social Conservative Review: February 13, 2014

by Krystle Gabele

February 13, 2014

Click here to subscribe to the Social Conservative Review for the latest in pro-family news.


Dear Friends,

Joergen Kristiansen likely is not a familiar name. Maybe it should be.

Mr. Kristiansen is the deputy mayor of a community called Krisitansand (yes, I know, the alliterative possibilities are endless). He is also a courageous man who posted a “picture on Facebook showing him holding a plastic doll that is a likeness of an unborn baby at 12 weeks of pregnancy to make a point about how abortion takes the life of a tiny baby.”

The inception of life remains a beautiful and profound source of wonder. FRC’s Dr. David Prentice, recognized as one of the world’s leading cell biologists, recently wrote that “Since the first umbilical cord blood stem cell transplant over 25 years ago, over 600,000 cord blood units have been stored away around the globe for future lifesaving transplants.” Cord blood stem cells have been used to treat myriad patients, from tiny children to ailing adults.

Joergen Kristiansen and David Prentice speak different languages, have different backgrounds, and even live on different continents. But they stand as one in the battle for the sanctity for life. I hope you will join all of us at FRC in standing with them.

Sincerely,

Rob Schwarzwalder
Senior Vice President
Family Research Council

P.S. Be sure to watch FRC’s Dr. Pat Fagan discuss his fourth annual “Index of Belonging and Rejection,” a compelling study of marriage and family in the U.S., here.


Educational Freedom and Reform
Homeschooling

Legislation and Policy Proposals

College Debt

Government Reform
Regulation

Waste/Fraud/Abuse

Health Care
Abstinence

Health care reform: ACA/Obamacare

Homosexuality

Abortion

Bioethics and Biotechnology

Euthanasia and End-of-Life Issues

Stem Cell Research
To read about the latest advances in ethical adult stem cell research, keep up with leading-edge reports from FRC’s Dr. David Prentice, click here.

Human Trafficking

Marriage and Family
Adoption

Family Economics

Family Structure

Media
Pornography

Religion and Public Policy
Religious Liberty

Religion in America
Check out Dr. Kenyn Cureton’s feature on Watchmen Pastors called “The Lost Episodes,” featuring how religion has had an impact on our Founding Fathers.

Secularism

International
Israel

International Economy and Family

Religious Persecution

The Courts
Constitutional Issues

Other Issues

Book Reviews

Law and Disorder

by Leanna Baumer

February 11, 2014

Over the weekend, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Department of Justice (DOJ) will now recognize any same-sex couple as married for DOJ purposes, regardless of whether their state of residency recognizes their union. DOJ’s guidance officially published Monday mirrors similar announcements made by other federal agencies in the months since the Supreme Court ruling in United States v. Windsor. In these memos, agencies have adopted rules moving beyond the deference to state laws demanded by Windsor and towards a new federal standard that equates same-sex unions with natural marriage.  

While scholars continue to criticize the Windsor ruling for its faulty reasoning and conclusions about the motivation for seeking to protect natural marriage in public policy, the legal framework of Windsor does require the federal government to recognize same-sex unions in the 17 states with laws recognizing such relationships. What Windsor does not require is federal action to undermine and upend the policy in the 33 other states that define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

In fact, the Majority in Windsor reasoned that a key fault with previous federal policy on marriage was that it caused inconsistent legal recognition of marriage in states, with state law and federal law coming to differing conclusions about the status of a same-sex couple. Yet, now DOJ and other rogue agencies are constructing the “contradictory marriage regimes” that “[diminish] the stability and predictability of basic personal relations the State has found it proper to acknowledge and protect” and that were condemned by the Court.

The current federal posture allows some couples to live as married for many federal purposes while state law continues to view them as unmarried for state purposes. The DOJ’s announcement yesterday continues this confusion and perpetuates the very reality Windsor condemned.

The ultimate irony of this weekend’s announcement came not just from the substance, but also the timing.  While the Administration trumpeted the need for respect, tolerance, and deference to diversity in the context of Russian laws governing marriage, the Administration decided respect, tolerance, and deference to differing opinions on marriage was not actually important back home. Rather than honoring the legal boundaries now at work in the post-Windsor world, the Department of Justice has decided that shutting down democratic debate over marriage matters more than fidelity to the rule of law. 

Ronald Reagan and the Bible: “Rock on which our Republic Rests”

by Robert Morrison

February 7, 2014

It came up again this week as I was preparing for an FRC radio interview: What to say about President Reagan’s faith, especially in a week when his 103rd birthday coincided with the annual Congressional Prayer Breakfast?

Well, President Reagan used his remarks at the 1983 Prayer Breakfast to announce his Proclamation of the Year of the Bible. Clearly, the participants at that long ago breakfast were happy to hear this good news. Just as clearly, the atheizers and the cultured despisers of religion were unhappy. It was too much mixing of church and state to their taste.

Even so, President Reagan held firm. He never wavered in declaring that:

the Old and New Testaments of the Bible inspired many of the early settlers of our country, providing them with the strength, character, convictions, and faith necessary to withstand great hardship and danger in this new and rugged land.

He even went on to quote President Andrew Jackson in his own. Jackson had said the Bible is “the Rock on which our Republic rests.” Jackson was the first president of the modern Democratic Party, the man most associated with building a powerful political movement that embraced millions of immigrants, especially Irish and German refugees fleeing tyranny abroad.

Many of these new Americans were Catholics and some were Jews. But they came here yearning to breathe free and hoping to avail themselves of the religious, civil, and economic freedoms that America even then afforded.

Reagan’s proclamation quotes Abraham Lincoln’s words about the Bible.

There could be no more fitting moment than now to reflect with gratitude, humility, and urgency upon the wisdom revealed to us in the writing that Abraham Lincoln called “the best gift God has ever given to man … But for it we could not know right from wrong.”

In early 1983, the American economy was still in deep distress. The “malaise” of Jimmy Carter’s failed policies was still being felt in the workplace, the offices, and factories of a recovering nation. Unemployment was still at 10% and inflation had not yet been brought under control.

Many of the atheizers and liberals carped that the President of the United States had, or ought to have, more important things on his mind than proclaiming a Year of the Bible.

Take U.S.-Soviet relations, they said. Why, Reagan has not even met with his Soviet “counterpart,” the ruler of the Communist Party of the USSR. President Reagan was too polite to lecture these editorial writers that he had no Soviet counterpart. He was the constitutionally chosen leader of a great Republic. He had won almost 44 million votes in a free and open election. The ruler of the USSR had been unanimously chosen by Communist Party delegates who were responsible to no one except the Communist Party.

Instead of a political science lecture, however, on the essential differences between a free country like America and the Soviet Union holding all its Captive Nations behind the Iron Curtain, Reagan deflected critics with humor.

How can I meet the Soviets when they keep dying on me?

Looking back on 1983, that long ago Year of the Bible, we can note some interesting events.

  • President Reagan addressed the nation in March of that year to announce his Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI). Critics jumped on it and said it was dangerous and wouldn’t work. They called it “Star Wars” to show their contempt. Reagan didn’t mind: He knew Americans loved the Star Wars movies and readily identified the Soviets with the bad guys in the movies.
  • Reagan spoke in March to the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) and warned them not to turn a blind eye to “the machinations of an evil empire.” He only used that term once. He never said the USSR was that evil empire. But the next day, in Moscow, the Communist editors of Pravda and Izvestia exploded in rage, charging him with labeling the Soviet Union with those “provocative” words. Deep in the bowels of the GuLAG, the Soviet slave labor system, prisoners read of Reagan’s words and took heart. They excitedly tapped out the words “evil empire” on plumbing pipes. Finally, an American president gets it, they said to each other.
  • In September, the Soviet Union shot down a straying civilian jet liner, Korean Airlines Flight 007. All 269 passengers and crew of the unarmed aircraft were murdered in cold blood. Throughout the West, liberals feared Reagan would use this as his pretext for a war with the USSR. Reagan exercised amazing restraint, using the shoot down as an occasion for closing Soviet consulates and tightening the screws of his economic boycott. But he had the grim satisfaction of letting the world see the Russian bear as it truly was—with teeth and fangs bared.
  • One month later, President Reagan ordered U.S. forces to liberate tiny Grenada from Soviet-backed Cubans and homegrown Communists. The Caribbean island nation was only 1/10 the size of Rhode Island, but its 100,000 residents, most of them black, greeted the American troops ecstatically. They blessed the Americans for their new-found freedom. In this short, successful, nearly bloodless campaign, Reagan disproved the idea that Marxism was a “historic inevitability.” Leonid Brezhnev had proclaimed: What we have, we hold. Reagan thought otherwise.
  • Also in October, 1983, the U.S. economy turned the corner. Job creation began to pick up robustly. Inflation had come way down. The economic indicators all started to show healthy signs of recovery. Reagan joked that his friends could put “egg on their faces and go to their Halloween parties as liberal economists.” The Reagan recovery that began in October 1983 lasted until October 2008—a quarter century of prosperity.

Secular scholars, of course, will laugh at the notion that President Reagan’s Proclamation of a Year of the Bible had anything to do with any of these favorable events in our nation’s life. Let them laugh. God laughs, too. He laughs his enemies to scorn.

Why World War I?

by Robert Morrison

February 7, 2014

World-renowned scholar George Weigel addressed a large gathering at Washington’s elegant Mayflower Hotel last night. The biographer of Pope John Paul II spoke on the approaching Centenary of the outbreak of World War I. That struggle consumed some twenty million combatants’ lives and even more, twenty-one million, of non-combatants. Think of any of the mass movements—especially violent mass movements—of the past century, and we can see their origins in the 1914-1918 catastrophe. Winston Churchill had prophesied that the wars of peoples would be far more terrible than the wars of kings. So this one proved to be. Describing bombing cities from the air, shelling cathedrals and universities from railroad cars, using poison gas against defenseless troops huddled in fetid, rat-ridden trenches, strangling enemies with naval blockades, or sending women and children to the bottom of the ocean with torpedoes, Churchill said the only depths of savagery not plumbed by the rulers of  “civilized” Europeans were cannibalism and torture. And these, Churchill ruefully wrote, were not employed only because they were not found useful.

Weigel, a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, delivered the William B. Simon annual lecture in a polished style and with a thorough mastery of the literature. And there will be a Lusitania hold of new books on the Great War, as evidence of Europeans’ keen interest. They follow World War I with the same avidity and intensity that Americans show for the Civil War.

From the unresolved issues of this war, and from its most uneasy Armistice and dispiriting Paris Peace Conference, we can see the origins of Communism, Nazism, pan-Arabism, Islamism. The attempts to counter or contain these “isms” can be seen in the League of Nations and its successor body, the UN.

Zionism and the British Balfour Declaration of 1917 that promised a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine were given a great boost by the exigencies of this vast struggle. Britain needed the help of Jewish troops in the Mideast and Jewish supporters at home and in the U.S.

George Weigel is strongest where the conventional historians are weakest: He shows how the collapse of religious authority contributed to the breakdown of comity among nations, neighbors not loving, but deeply hating neighbors. He described a sorrowful scene where the College of Cardinals assembled in Rome in September 1914. A German Cardinal said to his brothers, “I hope no one will talk of war.” His Belgian counterpart shot back: “I hope no one will talk of peace.”

Neutral Belgium had been that summer overrun by the Kaiser Wilhelm II’s troops and the world was shocked by the atrocities German soldiers committed. The mercurial Kaiser  had once urged his soldiers to play the Hun, and the Hun they soon became in Western eyes. “The Rape of Belgium” was said to be the inevitable result of the Germans’ avowed policy of shrechlichheit (frightfulness).

Weigel described the previous century’s philosophies that had taken the place of religious commitment in a Europe once known as Christendom.

Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” evolutionary doctrine was translated into Social Darwinism. Germans adopted this view of nature “red in tooth and claw” as they demanded their own “place in the sun.”

Not content with colonial expansion, Germany’s Kaiser soon began to view the Japanese as a racial threat. He coined the term “the Yellow peril.” Even fellow Europeans were seen in racial terms as Slavs and Latins began to be described by pseudo science and eugenics as lower orders of humans. Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche notoriously said “God is dead” and substituted for Him the “will to power” of the Super Man, or Ubermensch. A great blond beast, remorseless and irresistible, was the ideal. Again, Germany’s famous institutions of higher education promoted the idea of Weltmacht oder niedergang (a stark choice of world power or decline).

These same universities had given rise to German Higher Criticism, which immersed words of Holy Writ in an acid bath of skepticism.

So, why? We will see oceans of ink on the Who, What, Where, When, and How of the Great War. We will all go a long way to Tipperary for answers. But George Weigel firmly locates the WHY of the First World War in the 1983 Templeton Address by a Russian Nobel Prize Laureate. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn told us why this Cataclysm of Western Civilization happened. It happened because “Men have forgotten God.”

This writer was led to faith by the works of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn.

Is this the Sort of Person You Want to Run the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice?

by Chris Gacek

February 6, 2014

The radicalism of the Obama Administration never ceases to amaze us, does it? This was brought home this week by Mark Levin’s extended discussion of “President Obama personally nominating a former cop killer’s lawyer, Debo Adegbile, to head up the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice.” Please listen to the introduction Mark gives to his February 4, 2014 program by discussing this horrifying potential appointment.  Follow this link.

Remember also that Mark Levin was the chief of staff at the Department of Justice to a United States Attorney General, Ed Meese. He knows a great deal about the Department of Justice.

Brandon Darby has written a succinct background article on Adegbile who, as an attorney, fought to save Mumia Abu-Jamal from the death sentence and continued imprisonment. Abu-Jamal was convicted of killing a Philadelphia police officer, Daniel Faulkner, on December 9, 1981. This was a completely cold-blooded killing.  But, later, “Free Abu-Jamal” was the cry of the Left and Hollywood for years and years. It worked. His death sentence was made impossible.

Even the worst criminals are entitled to a defense under our legal system. However, that does not mean that the lawyers who choose to do that work are worthy of holding highly trusted positions of authority in our government. Do we want this man reviewing the policing activities of law enforcement agencies across America for violations of federal civil rights laws? Do you want him overseeing discipline policies in local schools? Clearly not.

Chuck Canterbury, the President of the Fraternal Order of Police, an organization representing 330,000 police members, wrote this scathing letter of protest to the President on January 6th expressing his organization’s outrage about the nomination. If you want to learn a more about the case go to the website created and maintained by Officer Faulkner’s loving widow, Maureen.

Folks, this nomination does not have to succeed. Spend an hour or two learning about the case, and consider calling the offices of your two United States Senators. Hopefully, this nomination will fail demonstrably, but we can’t be passive and assume it will happen.

FRC’s Peter Sprigg Testifies Against Maryland Senate Bill 212

by FRC Media Office

February 4, 2014

Below are the remarks that Peter Sprigg, FRC’s Senior Fellow for Policy Studies, delivered before the Maryland State Senate’s Judicial Proceedings Committee


Testimony in opposition to Senate Bill 212
Peter Sprigg
Senior Fellow for Policy Studies, Family Research Council
Resident, Montgomery County, Maryland

Maryland State Senate, Judicial Proceedings Committee
February 4, 2014

I urge you to oppose Senate Bill 212

This bill caters to anyone who is “transgendered,” a broad umbrella term that includes transsexuals (people who have had sex-change surgery), anyone who has changed or is changing their public “gender identity” (regardless of whether they have had surgery or hormone treatments), transvestites (people who dress as the opposite sex on an occasional basis for emotional or sexual gratification), and drag queens and drag kings (people who dress as the opposite sex for the purpose of entertaining others).

It should be opposed by anyone who believes in freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of conscience and religion, and a free market economy. Here are some reasons why:

  • The bill would increase government interference in the free market. It would substitute the judgment of the state for that of the employer regarding what qualities or characteristics are most relevant to a particular job.
  • Gender identity” is unlike most other characteristics protected in civil rights laws. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 bars discrimination based on “race, color, national origin, sex, and religion.” The first four of these are included largely because they are inborn, involuntary and immutable. (Religion, while voluntary, is explicitly protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.) Transgender behavior meets none of these criteria.
  • The bill would lead to costly lawsuits against employers. In the case of public employers (which are explicitly covered by the bill), such a law could lead to large settlements being paid at taxpayers’ expense.
  • The bill would undermine the ability of employers to impose reasonable dress and grooming standards. The bill professes to protect such standards. However, it requires that such standards be consistent with the employee’s chosen and variable “gender identity.” This effectively forbids employers from using the most fundamental standard of all—that people be dressed and groomed in a way that is culturally appropriate for their biological sex.
  • The bill would violate the privacy of others. Because transgender status is not dependent on having “sex-change surgery,” SB 212 would allow some biological males (who claim to be female) to appear nude before females (and vice versa) in bathrooms, locker rooms, and showers. (Previous versions of comparable federal legislation included an exemption for “shared shower and dressing facilities in which being seen unclothed is unavoidable.” There is no such exemption in this bill.)
  • The bill would mandate the employment of “transgendered” individuals in inappropriate occupations. For example, under this bill, employers in the area of education and childcare would be denied the right to refuse to hire transgendered individuals, even if they consider such persons to be confusing, disturbing, or inappropriate role models for children and young people.

Please vote “no” on Senate Bill 212.

Conservatives: Keep Calm and Carry On

by Rob Schwarzwalder

February 4, 2014

It is political sport to write endlessly (and often gleefully) about perceived schisms in the two major parties. Following are but a few examples of recent such articles:

Scenes from the Republican Civil War,” Eleanor Clift, Daily Beast

The Democratic Party’s Civil War,” Jacob Heilbrunn, The National Interest

The GOP’s Growing Divide,” Eugene Robinson, Washington Post

The Emerging Democratic Divide,” Josh Kraushaar, National Journal

Republican Party seems as divided, angry as ever,” Steve Peoples, Associated Press

Angry Liberals in America,” Daniel Greenfield, The Jewish Press.com

The parallelism of these headlines is comic, but also revealing: Discord sells papers and draws viewers. And such headlines are sure to continue, because comprehensive unanimity within political parties is as likely as Harry Reid joining the National Federation of the Grand Order of Pachyderm Clubs.

Political successes almost invariably are transient, and partisan discord is inevitable. Contention and politics are intertwined, not necessarily because the contenders are obnoxious but because convictions run deep. Thus, competition becomes rigorous and “civil wars” break out.

In 1937, a persistent has-been named Winston Churchill wrote a book called, Great Contemporaries. In his chapter on Spain’s King Alfonso XIII, Churchill penned this: “Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities, because, as has been said, ‘it is the quality which guarantees all others’.”

Conservatives need to remember Churchill’s admonition. We stand for principles immune to erosion and beliefs too resilient to be abandoned. Grounded in divine revelation and affirmed by our consciences, they are bequests to us not from any state or politician but from our Creator.

Political victories usually are both impermanent and incremental, but the ongoing nature of our struggle is a poor reason to walk away from it. To do so is merely to hand over the future of the country to those with an agenda we can never accept and a program we must never endorse.

Within three years of the publication of Great Contemporaries, Churchill became Britain’s Prime Minister. He was followed by the socialist Clement Attlee, and decades later by Margaret Thatcher who was succeeded a few years after her tenure by Tony Blair. Wins, losses, ups and downs. But if the struggle for “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” is worth anything, we must be undaunted by defeat and undeceived by victory.

Courage, in pursuit of the right and good and true, eternal things whose relevance to public policy is constant, is what counts.

Chaplain Garland White, Preaching to a Free Richmond

by Robert Morrison

February 4, 2014

Georgia Planter Robert Toombs was determined never to break up the family of one of his slaves, but when he received into service young Garland White; he may have realized that his entanglement with the “peculiar institution” had already involved him in the breakup of a black family. Garland White was just ten when he was prepared for sale further South. Garland’s mother Nancy wept as the boy was taken from his home Northwest of Richmond, Virginia, and sold to Robert Toombs.

Toombs went on to become a prominent Georgia politician, serving as a Whig in the U.S. House of Representatives. His close political ally, Rep. Alexander Stephens (Whig-Georgia) also formed a friendship with an Illinois Whig, Rep. Abraham Lincoln. Although he opposed the Mexican War, which many Northern “conscience” Whigs opposed, as well, Toombs was an unapologetic defender of slavery. He once bragged on the floor of the U.S. Senate that he would take his property into any Northern state and would “call the roll of his slaves in the shadow of the Bunker Hill monument.” Few words could have inflamed his Northern opponents more. Robert Toombs’ roll of slaves would be missing one trusted and confidential servant, however. Garland White took flight to Canada and freedom in 1860.

And when Lincoln was elected President of the United States in November, 1860, Georgia Senator Robert Toombs urged the Southern states to secede from the Union. He resigned his seat in the U.S. Congress with a powerful speech in which he said: “We want no negro equality, no negro citizenship; …and as one man [we] would meet you upon the border with the sword in one hand and the torch in the other.”

Despite his brilliant mind and his eloquent oratory, Toombs was passed over for president of the new Confederate States of America because, it is generally accepted, of his serious drinking problem. Nonetheless, he was chosen as the Confederacy’s first Secretary of State. In that capacity, he was a standout in the small circle of advisors to Jefferson Davis, named as head of the provisional C.S.A. Almost alone among the leading secessionists, Toombs warned Davis not to attack Fort Sumter, the federal installation in the harbor of Charleston, S.C. He said:

Mr. President, at this time it is suicide, murder, and will lose us every friend at the North. You will wantonly strike a hornet’s nest which extends from mountain to ocean, and legions now quiet will swarm out and sting us to death. It is unnecessary; it puts us in the wrong; it is fatal.”

Toombs lived to see his prophetic words come true. The deeply divided North rallied to the flag once Fort Sumter was attacked.

Meanwhile, Garland White in Canada watched all this with mounting excitement. He very early offered his services to carry arms for the Union, but was initially rejected. Lincoln’s administration was concerned for the loyalty of slaveholding Border States — Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, and Delaware. And many of the white troops from Northern states like New York, Ohio, and Illinois were openly voicing their opposition to “fighting for the negro.” For war Democrats, the watchword was “The Union as it was and the Constitution as it is.” They would vocally oppose any move to make the Civil War an Abolition War.

Abolition leader Frederick Douglass loudly denounced the policy of excluding black troops from the Union ranks. We were good enough to fight for General Washington, he said, why aren’t we good enough to fight for General McClellan? How long can we continue this life-and-death struggle with one arm — he called it memorably “Uncle Sam’s sable arm” — tied behind our back?

By 1863, with the Emancipation Proclamation in effect, the Lincoln administration threw off all restraints and began vigorously recruiting black troops. Garland White, now the pastor of a African Methodist congregation in Toledo, Ohio, threw himself into the effort. He helped enlist the Twenty-Eighth Regiment of the U.S. Colored Infantry and soon was serving as its chaplain.

In 1864, the 28th Regiment joined the Army of the Potomac in the siege of Petersburg. This was the final chapter in the Union assault on Richmond. An ingenious plan to blow a giant hole in the rebel breastworks was brought forward by Pennsylvania coal miners serving in the Union ranks. They dug a long tunnel and filled it with explosives. The huge blast they set off was the greatest explosion to that point on the North American continent, and it could be heard twenty-two miles away in Richmond, the Confederate capital.

Desperate to take advantage of the momentary opportunity to end the war, Gen. Meade ordered the 28th Regiment to advance toward the giant crater the blast had created. But knowing they faced certain death, black soldiers of the 28th asked Chaplain White to write to their families and tell them they died bravely fighting for the Union.

Chaplain White would return to his hometown of Richmond. This time, he would enter the city as a free man in the company of his fellow Freedmen of the 28th. With the fall of Richmond on April 2, 1865, a dramatic scene occurred. Bruce Levine’s Fall of the House of Dixie picks up the thread:

White thrilled to “the shouts of ten thousand voices” celebrating liberation on the streets of the former Confederate capital. Black men and women gathered around him, urging him to speak, and so he did: he “proclaimed for the first time in that city freedom to all mankind.”

Prof. Levine continues:

As White stood in the street, trying to take it all in, an older woman approached him and asked his name, his birthplace, and the name of his mother. When he had answered all her questions, she quietly informed him that “this is your mother, Garland, whom you are now talking to, who has spent twenty years of grief about her son.”

It was in Richmond in 1775 that Patriot leader Patrick Henry had cried out: “Give me Liberty or give me Death!” Now, ninety years later, many a soldier in the 28th U.S.C.T. had received his liberty, only to be given death in the crater. Nonetheless, their sacrifice made possible this tender mother-and-son reunion, and the reuniting of many a family broken up by slavery.

In this Black History month, we can reflect on the importance of the church, the pastors, and the faith of Americans of all races as a powerful force in the reunion of our divided land. May that prove as true for our future as it was in our past.

Obamacare: America’s Personal, Political, and Economic Wrecking Ball

by Chris Gacek

February 3, 2014

The Weekly Standard links to a revealing local TV story on the reactions of employees at a Pittsburgh-area auto body shop to the health care coverage they will be receiving under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). If anyone thinks we have seen the worst of the personal, political, and economic effects of Obamacare, they are kidding themselves. For viewers who have been following the ACA’s implementation, the most salient issues were present cognitively, but to see these devastating forces at work in real lives in a brief video is powerful.

The employees at this small business agreed that they cannot afford the new coverage. Most harmful will be the substantial increases in deductibles and co-pays. Most people are aware of the substantial increases in deductibles, but the co-pays (including “co-insurance”) are another major problem. The substantial increases in the mere price of a visit to a doctor would be uncomfortable but tolerable. But as one website notes regarding the cheapest plan, “Bronze Plans are designed so that insurance companies will pay 60% of covered healthcare expenses with the remaining 40% to be paid by consumers.” There is an annual limit on out-of-pocket expenses set at $6,350, and it seems clear that many people will be paying that maximum amount annually. That will be something new to them.

That is not the way the old plans worked in terms of total exposure for employees. As this becomes clearer, it is hard for me to see how the ACA will survive unless the GOP saves it.

If I had a hammer and a sickle

by Robert Morrison

February 3, 2014

Last week’s passing of folk singer Pete Seeger was duly noted in the nation’s prestige press. Most stories noted that the 94-year old had been a major force in the revival of folk music in America. He had indeed. And many of us enjoyed his singing. Referring to Pete’s endless political involvements, the media decorously referred to him as an “activist,” a progressive.

But, as Grove City College’s tireless researcher, Dr. Paul Kengor, reminds us here: Pete Seeger was a lifelong Communist. It took Pete more than half a century to express any reservations about Josef “Uncle Joe” Stalin.

The 26-year rule of the Iron Man (stalin in Russian means “man of steel”) was punctuated by the sounds of bullets in the back of millions of skulls. Western people knew this, or sensed it.

Britain’s irrepressible Lady Astor, the first woman ever elected to the House of Commons, once confronted Stalin in the Kremlin, asking him bluntly: “How long are you going to keep killing people?” All of Stalin’s henchmen, those Communist apparatchiki who managed to survive his relentless purges, froze in place. Uncle Joe, however, seemed nonplused. He simply continued drawing on his pipe and said in his soft voice: “As long as it is necessary.”

It remained necessary until the day—March 5, 1953—that Stalin died. Stalin’s contribution to the history of man’s inhumanity to man is best remembered in the innocuous name of GuLAG, the Russian acronym for “State Administration for Camps.” Those camps were spread out throughout the twelve time zones of the USSR. Some of the portals of the GuLAG were no bigger than a telephone booth. Some of the camps where millions perished were larger than France.

Nobel Prize winning author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn gave the world the incontrovertible evidence of Stalin’s crimes against humanity in his massive, three-volume work, The GuLAG Archipelago. For his boldness in speaking truth to power, Solzhenitsyn was arrested by the KGB, hauled back through what prisoners called “the gates of hell” in Moscow, and threatened with his life and the lives of his wife and beloved sons. He told his KGB interrogators that they could take his life, and even his family members’ lives. His evidence would be presented. It was already in the hands of his publishers in Paris.

Instead of killing him, the Soviet rulers decided to kick him out, and let his family go with him. They reasoned that the West would soon grow tired of this stern moralist, this prophetic visionary, this Christian witness. And soon we did. Or at least the chattering classes soon tired of him.

But everyone who could read TIME, Newsweek, or The New York Times in 1974 knew about Solzhenitsyn’s brave stance against Stalin and the GuLAG—and against Stalin’s heirs then still in power in the USSR.

Pete Seeger surely read about the crimes of Communism, and not in right-wing journals, either, but in the approved publications of the liberal Left. It would be another 33 years before Pete could bestir himself to utter a word of criticism of Stalin. By that time, the USSR had imploded and even the Russians were publicly speaking of Stalin’s “empire built on bones.”

Solzhenitsyn had described Communism succinctly as “atheism with a knife at your child’s throat.” I knew that that was certainly true for the Russian dissident writer himself, but last year I read Anne Applebaum’s massive documentation of the Communist takeover of Eastern Europe.

This honest liberal details unsparingly the crushing out of all forms of religious, civil, political, social, scientific, and artistic freedom in that vast area “from Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic.” Churchill pointed to an “Iron Curtain” that the Man of Steel had brought down.

Anne Applebaum’s book of that title confirms virtually everything that Solzhenitsyn had said in the GuLAG. She even relates the story of the last non-Communist premier of Hungary. Leaving Budapest for a weekend visit to Switzerland, the unfortunate official was told to submit his resignation at once. Only then would his beloved son be allowed to join him in exile in the West.

Communism: Atheism with a knife at your child’s throat.

Ron Radosh is another honest chronicler of American Communism. A “red diaper” baby himself, Radosh was raised by Communists and lived for decades in the Communist orbit in America.

Ron Radosh’s gentle rebuke to his former banjo teacher, Pete Seeger, is titled “The Red Warbler.” That’s an inside joke, folks. One of the great dramatic moments in the history of anti-Communism in this country came in 1948 when members of the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) were grilling former New Dealer, Alger Hiss. The suave, elegantly thin Ivy Leaguer Hiss denied under oath even knowing Whittaker Chambers.

Chambers, an ex-TIME Magazine editor, was the rumpled, portly “witness” who accused Hiss of having provided him with Top Secret State Department documents for transmittal to the USSR in the 1930s.

HUAC questioners, seeming to lighten up on Hiss, asked him about his hobbies. He acknowledged he was a birder. And he brightened up when he spoke of having once seen a very rare bird in Washington’s Rock Creek Park—a prothonotary warbler.

That was the very incident that Chambers had alerted committee members to in secret session. It was that rare bird that established the truth of what Whittaker Chambers had been saying. And that bird sent Hiss to prison, not for espionage, but for perjury.

Pete Seeger managed never to have to say he was sorry. One of my favorite Pete Seeger songs is the tune he crooned about the USS Reuben James. This U.S. Navy destroyer had been sunk by a Nazi U-boat in October, 1941. “What were their names/tell me what were their names/Did you have a friend on the good Reuben James” was the song Pete and his comrades sang—urging the American people to abandon their neutrality and enter World War II against Hitler’s Nazi menace.

All very appealing—except that just months before, prior to Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union—Pete and his pals were agitating against American involvement in the “imperialist war.” That’s because Stalin was then an ally of Hitler.

Pete was nothing if not nimble. He could pick and strum and sing like a warbler. And when the Communist Party required it, he could turn on a dime. Or is that a

kopeck?

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