Month Archives: April 2011

State of the 2011 Session in Review: Idaho

by Ian Frith

April 19, 2011

Since the Adjournment of Idahos 2011 legislative session on April 7th, a wide spectrum of adjectives have been used to describe this years proceedings. Governor Otter called it very succesful, while Senate Democrats called the session the worst in their collective memories. Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis said it was a difficult session among some of the worst economic times in memory and Representative Erik Simpson summed it up by quoting Charles Dickens: “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.”

From a pro-life and pro-family perspective it is easy to agree with the Governor and call Idahos 2011 session very successful indeed. According to Julie Lynde, Executive director at Cornerstone Family Council, Governor Otter signed every piece of pro-life legislation that crossed his desk. And many of those measures were quite significant.

Fetal Pain

Idaho joined Nebraska and Kansas as the third state to prohibit late term abortions (in this case 20 or more weeks) based upon an unborn childs ability to feel pain. This is a huge step toward upholding the value of all life, and in reinforcing the humanity of the unborn child. At least 12 other state legislatures are advancing similar measures. (See the Fetal Pain state map here).

Prohibiting Abortion Coverage in Obamacare

With the passage of S 1115, Idaho ensured that abortion will not be covered in health plans created through the Health Exchange instituted in Obamacare. Seven other states have passed this same law (AZ, LA, MO, MS, TN, UT, VA) and at least 17 other states have introduced similar measures. The passage of this bill ensures that the current law in Idaho, which prohibits abortion coverage in all health insurance plans, will not be jeopardized by Obamacare.

In addition, a resolution was passed (HCR 23) which removed a dangerous Health and Welfare Medicaid rule that could be used to fund teen abortions and potentially circumvent existing parental consent laws.

Not only was unborn life further protected by the legislature this year, but life was also protected until natural death with the passage of S 1070 prohibiting physician assisted suicide.

Fiscally speaking it was also a productive session. Governor Otter was an active proponent of a bill that was passed to balance the budget without raising taxes and several educational reform bills removing collective bargaining for teachers, instilling a merit-based pay system, and shifting allocation of school funds toward technology.

Very successful seems to be an adequate description of this years session, though it is easy to see how some might disagree. Perhaps Senate President Pro Tempore Brent Hill sums it up best of all when he says: History will tell if this session was a great accomplishment or failure. Anyone who claims we haven’t accomplished much wasn’t paying attention.

On the Presidents Easter Prayer Breakfast Comments

by Rob Schwarzwalder

April 19, 2011

To an eclectic group of religious leaders[1], President Obama spoke movingly today at the White House about the meaning of Easter:

The humility of Jesus washing the disciples feet. His slow march up that hill, and the pain and the scorn and the shame of the cross. And were reminded that in that moment, he took on the sins of the world — past, present and future — and he extended to us that unfathomable gift of grace and salvation through his death and resurrection. In the words of the book Isaiah: But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. This magnificent grace, this expansive grace, this Amazing Grace calls me to reflect. And it calls me to pray. It calls me to ask God for forgiveness for the times that Ive not shown grace to others, those times that Ive fallen short. It calls me to praise God for the gift of … His Son and our Savior.

Remarkable: A pretty clear presentation of the Gospel from a man who arguably is Americas first post-modern President. He even quotes from Isaiah 53, a prophetic passage that describes vividly the suffering of the coming Messiah.

Heres what he said about the Bible:

… in the middle of critical national debates, in the middle of our busy lives, we must always make sure that we are keeping things in perspective. Children help do that. A strong spouse helps do that. But nothing beats Scripture and the reminder of the eternal.

Hes right. Yet Mr. Obamas reading of Scripture seems highly selective. In a speech to the Evangelical Leftist Jim Wallis Call to Renewal conference in 2006, heres what then-Sen. Obama said:

Which passages of Scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is ok and that eating shellfish is abomination? How about Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount - a passage that is so radical that it’s doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application? So before we get carried away, let’s read our Bibles. Folks haven’t been reading their Bibles.

This statement trivializes serious biblical interpretation. Mr. Obamas apparent philosophy of exposition is that no one can ever say with any real authority thus saith the Lord since, one is left to assume, the Lord said so many obscure, grim, and evidently impracticable things. The Bible according to Mr. Obama becomes a Rorschach blot to which we each bring our own meaning. This is particularly troubling in a President who frequently invokes the Bible in his speeches, often to justify his political stances.

The reality, of course, is that the Old Testament civil code was intended only for theocratic Israel. The ceremonial rituals of Israels religious worship were representative, and fulfilled in Christ. The moral law, however, is constant from Genesis through Revelation. The Sermon on the Mount is Jesus intensification of the Law of Moses, intended to demonstrate both the way His followers should treat others and the inability of fallen men to practice perfectly Gods standards which is why they need the Savior.

President Obama persistently refuses to acknowledge the personhood of the unborn child. He is the strongest advocate for the homosexual agenda ever to work in the Oval Office. His position on religious liberty is captured by the notion that faith is best expressed within the walls of a church, but is taken outside those walls only at the legal peril of the faithful (and if the Employment Non-Discrimination Act were enacted into law, profound intrusions by the state within those four walls would happen, as well).

It is good to read the Presidents expression of Christian faith. Now if he would search the Scriptures and apply them, as appropriate, to public policy, many believers would sing Amazing Grace with even greater gratitude this coming Resurrection day.


[1] The guest list ran the spectrum from the respected Evangelical leader Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City to Nancy Wilson, moderator of the aggressively homosexual Metropolitan Community Churches.

 

Fact Checking the Fact Checker

by Family Research Council

April 19, 2011

Last week on the day that the House and Senate were set to take a vote on defunding Planned Parenthood, Christianity Today writer Tobin Grant authored a fact checking piece on the debate over tax funding for Americas primary abortion provider. The author dedicated much of the article to fact checking one of Family Research Councils pieces about the abortion giant.

Grant quoted a recent alert (the alert was actually from Family Research Councils sister organization FRC Action) that stated Income from abortions constitutes 37 percent of [Planned Parenthoods] total profit Grant wrote that this statement was false.

In this case, the statement should have been more explicit to read: Income from abortions constitutes 37% of Planned Parenthood health clinic revenue. According to Planned Parenthoods latest annual report, health clinic income was $404,900,000. The Planned Parenthood website indicates that abortions cost between $350-950, depending on method and location. If one were to use $450 as a very low estimate for abortion cost, revenue of 332,278 abortions would equal $149,525,100, which would be roughly 37% of the clinic revenue. So, when it comes to revenue from Planned Parenthood clinics, and not including government funding and other sources of donations, a huge percent of its revenue comes from abortion.

Grant additionally quoted FRC Actions statement in the same alert that The abortion giant performed fewer than 20,000 other services in the last year. The fewer than 20,000 other services is referring to primary health care clients, as indicated in Planned Parenthoods latest fact sheet. The number of clients reached for these basic health needs is a very small percentage of Planned Parenthoods services. In the words of Susan Wills writing for the American Thinker, this number reflects an insignificant part of the total of 11.4 million services nationwide. Additionally, Planned Parenthoods overall service reports are not transparent and lead to confusion and deception. A former employee of Planned Parenthood has stated that service-counting was manipulated by a system called bundling. In other words, if a woman visited a clinic once but received 12 months of family planning, the clinic would bundle and tally this as 12 services. On the other hand, if the office visit was for abortion care, three visits related to one abortion would be counted only once.

Therefore, the service numbers are not accurate but rather communicate misinformation and downplay abortion.

The remainder of Grants article is spent trying to nuance other dark facts about Planned Parenthood, including the reality that out of all services for pregnant mothers, 97.6% are abortions or that Planned Parenthood does no mammograms as they recently have claimed or that the organization made over $85 million in profits in 2008.

Grant does not mention the fact that Planned Parenthood fosters statutory rape according to the release of recent undercover videos. The videos show at least some of Planned Parenthood affiliates accepting human trafficking as a legitimate enterprise according to these same videos. Nor does he point out that similar undercover videos show that, again, at least some, Planned Parenthood clinics are willing to accept donations by people who want the money to pay for the abortion of minority babies.

No statistical slicing-and-dicing should diminish this sad reality nor that abortion harms the mother, and deprives society of the gifts of the unborn, nor the indisputable fact that Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of abortion in the nation. While we accept any attempt to ensure our statements are accurate, it would be helpful if a similar effort were made to an abortion business so plagued by unethical mis-conduct and misleading claims.

College Debt Will Soon Exceed Credit Card Debt at 1 Trillion Dollars

by Chris Gacek

April 18, 2011

In case you missed this dubious milestone, student loan debt exceeded credit card debt for the first time last year according to a recent New York Times story. CNN has also reported on this topic.

It appears that student load debt will top 1 trillion dollars this year — an enormous sum. As Lauren Asher, president of the Institute for College Access and Success, noted, Things like buying a home, starting a family, starting a business, saving for their own kids education may not be options for people who are paying off a lot of student debt.

The current system is unsustainable as tuition increases continue to rocket upward faster than the rate of inflation.

Michelle Rhee Finds an Excellent Defender

by Chris Gacek

April 15, 2011

The work of the former D.C. School Superintendent, Michelle Rhee, has been under concerted attack since she left office. Rhee antagonized the teacher unions and created powerful institutional and ideological enemies. A couple of recent studies have attacked her tenure in office. Paul Peterson, director of Harvards Program on Education Policy and Governance, released a report for Education Next whose results were summarized in a Washington Times article he authored.

Peterson presents the following paragraphs of analyses:

In my report … I put to one side data from the Districts own assessments now subject to cheating allegations. Instead, I consider the performance of District students on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), a low-stakes test for which incentives to cheat are minimal, as the performance of no student, teacher or school is identified and about which no cheating allegations have been raised.

….

Gains are not enormous in any one year, but over time, they add up. In 2000, the gap between the District and the nation in fourth-grade math was 34 points. Had students gained as much every year between 2000 and 2009 as they did during the Rhee era, that gap would have been just 7 points in 2009. Three more years of Rhee-like progress and the gap would have been closed. In eighth-grade math, the gap in 2000 was 38 points. Had Rhee-like progress been made over the next nine years, the gap in 2009 would have been just 14 points, with near closure in 2012. In fourth-grade reading, the gap was 30 points in 2003; if Rhee-like gains had taken place over the next six years, the gap in 2009 would have been cut in half.

There is more valuable analysis by Peterson that makes the entire article worth reading. It points to the critical fact that true educational reform will be difficult and met with considerable opposition by entrenched interests.

 

Like a Pistol Shot at Lincoln Cottage

by Robert Morrison

April 15, 2011

I was furiously scribbling notes as author James Swanson lectured last night at the Lincoln Cottage. He was speaking about his wonderful new book, Bloody Crimes: The he Chase for Jefferson Davis and the Death Pageant for Lincolns Corpse. The room was filled with listeners paying rapt attention as the sun set over the home where Abraham Lincoln drafted the Emancipation Proclamation. Last night was the anniversary of Lincolns assassination in 1865. One year ago, I was at the Newseum, also taking notes as James Swanson lectured on his earlier book, Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincolns Killer.

It should be clear I am a great admirer of this writers work. But in his lecture, Swanson offered an observation that stunned me as much as if he had fired John Wilkes Booths bulldog derringer above our heads:

He said: I regard Thomas Jefferson as the biggest hypocrite in American History.

What a terrible statement. And worse, the audience members nodded their approval of this stunning statement. From the Obama stickers proudly displayed on most of the newer luxury cars in the parking lot, I knew this was a pretty liberal crowd.

My first response to James Swanson, this serious Lincoln scholar is that Abraham Lincoln didnt think that. Lincoln said this:

All honor to Jeffersonto the man who, in the concrete pressure of a struggle for national independence by a single people, had the coolness, forecast, and capacity to introduce into a merely revolutionary document, an abstract truth, applicable to all men and all times, where it continues to stand as a rebuke and a stumbling block to the very harbingers of reappearing tyranny and oppression.

If the Great Emancipator thought that, it might be worthwhile to know why. Young Thomas Jefferson was distraught when fellow delegates to the Second Continental Congress cut out of his draft of the Declaration of Independence a stinging indictment of King George III. The king had repeatedly vetoed colonial attempts to end the African Slave Trade. Jefferson told Franklin his draft had been mutilated.

Jefferson didnt stop there. As a congressman, he offered an amendment that would have banned slavery from all U.S. territory west of the Appalachian Mountains. That bill failed by just one vote. Heaven itself was silent in that awful moment, Jefferson later wrote in anguish.

It wasnt a total loss, however, The Northwest Ordinance did pass Congress and it did contain a ban on slavery north of the Ohio River. But the failed Jefferson measure was far more extensive than even this great charter of freedom.

Jeffersons only book, Notes on Virginia, was published while he served as our ambassador in France. In it, Jefferson denounces slavery as tyranny, as a school for tyranny that corrupts the slaveholder as much as it debases the slave. Jefferson argues powerfully that slavery is morally wrongand tells us he trembles for his country when he reflects that God is just and His justice cannot sleep forever. [It should be candidly admitted that Jefferson also introduces some of the worst language on racial differences in this book. Decades later, black inventor and author Benjamin Banneker took Jefferson to task for these writings, and rightly so.]

Still, in the Notes on Virginia, Thomas Jefferson tells us, almost as an aside, that Northerners though they have few slaves among them, are great carriers of slaves to others.

Lincoln surely had read those words. They are chilling. Jefferson does not morally condemn his northern countrymen, but we should all know what his terrible words mean.

William Wilberforce campaigned for twenty years to get rid of the Slave TradeJefferson called it that execrable trafficin the British Empire. Jefferson fully supported his efforts.

The film Amazing Grace shows Wilberforce standing on the dcck of the slave ship Madagascar. He tells Londoners that this ship left West Africa with six hundred slaves and arrived in the British West Indies seven weeks later with only two hundred slaves surviving.

The worst Southern plantation in the bondsmans two hundred fifty years of unrequited toil could not have written such a record of horror. Novelist Patrick OBrien has his famous Captain Jack Aubrey respond to teasing from his best friend Stephen Maturin that Lucky Jack is getting fat. You know I cant swim here, Stephen, these are slave waters.

What does that mean? It means the slave traders regularly threw overboard living and dead Africans—and the sharks gathered.

This is what they call the horrors of the Middle Passage. Those were not Southerners manning those slave ships. They were Yankees from New England.

Reading those words, Lincoln would have known they were true. This is doubtless why, Lincoln, almost alone among Northern men, never plays the Pharisee. He is not self-righteous in his opposition to slavery.

Jefferson the President urged Congress to move early to ban the Slave Trade. In one of the unfortunate compromises necessary to gain ratification of the Constitution, Congress had to wait twenty years from adoption to ban the African Slave Trade.

President Jefferson in December 1806 called upon Congress in his State of the Union Message to act and act soon. Dont wait until January 1, 1808, he pleaded. Pass the ban now so that slave ships will not even start for America if they know they will arrive after the cutoff date.

Jefferson denounced the Slave Trade as a violation of the human rights of unoffending Africans. That is the strongest anti-slavery language used by any president prior to Abraham Lincoln.

And it inspired both Lincoln and the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Douglass honored Jefferson and powerfully quoted him, saying one hour of American slavery was worse than all the ages of British oppressions.

Yes, it is true that Jefferson failed to free the nearly two hundred human beings he held in slavery throughout his long life. Monticello was deeply in debt and Jefferson was unable to extricate himselfas the Great Washington had donefrom the serpents coils.

When I took our many FRC interns to Monticello for years, I would stand on Mr. Jeffersons lawn and make the point that George Will was wrong. Thomas Jefferson lived as free men ought to live, Will famously wrote. No, I would say, John Adams lived as free men ought to live. He never freed his slaves because he never had any.

Still, I honor Jeffersons memory as the man who powerfully taught us all why slavery was wrong, and who banned the African Slave Trade.

My question to James Swanson and to those pleasant folks chatting over wine and cheese at Lincoln Cottage is this:

If Thomas Jefferson was a hypocrite for denying two hundred human beings their inalienable right to liberty, what are we when every day in America we deny three thousand human beings unborn children—their right to Life?

O Moody Tearful Night—April 14-15, 1865

by Robert Morrison

April 15, 2011

Author James L. Swanson could not have chosen a better place, a better time to discuss his wonderful book, Bloody Crimes: The Chase for Jefferson Davis and the Death Pageant for Lincolns Corpse. He appeared last night on the anniversary of Lincolns assassination at the Lincoln Cottage, located on the grounds of Washingtons Soldiers Home. This beautifully restored Victorian summer home was a refuge for Abraham, Mary, and Tad Lincoln for three summers1862, 1863, and 1864while they occupied the White House. They first sought quiet and solitude there following the death of their beloved 11-year old son, Willie.

James Swansons book is a gem. He takes us on the long, last mournful way of the Lincoln Funeral Train throughout its 1,600-mile journey from Washington to Springfield.

Even for many of us Civil War buffs and Lincoln students, Swansons book is a goldmine of information. With a novelists keen eye for detail, Swanson even takes us behind the scenes in the White House as the autopsy is conducted on the presidents 64 body. Skilled surgeons take out his brain. Weighing it, they are surprised to find it is of normal size. The author doesnt like Mary Lincoln much. Swanson details her irrationality, her extravagant grief, her grasping for money, and the fact that she never comes out of her darkened room for the funeral, or even to view her husbands embalmed body.

We are there at the train station early on the morning of Friday, April 21st as the body of the slain president is escorted from the Capitol where it had lain in state. It was Lincoln who decreed that the Capitol dome should be completed, despite the fiery trial of civil war, as a symbol of Union. Philip Reid had been a slave when he showed architects and builders how carefully to uncrate the Statue of Freedom. By an Act of Congresssigned by Abraham LincolnPhilip and all his black brothers and sisters in the capital were free when that 19-foot statue was finally raised to the pinnacle.

We can almost hear the hissing of the locomotive and see the jets of steam cover the tracks as they lift the presidents coffin onto the special train. It is decorated with flags of the Union, with the presidential seal, and with black crepe. Waiting for his fathers coffin to be brought on board is the smaller coffin of Willie, the Lincolns 11-year old son whose body rested in Oak Hill cemetery for the past three years.

One million Americans viewed Lincolns body as it wended its way home. Seven million came out to lay flowers on the tracks and to watch, hat in hand, as the presidential train passes by. Nothing like this had ever happened in America before. It was as if the entire North had come out to weep and mourn for the first president to be assassinated. They wept as well for the three hundred fifty thousands soldiers in blue who had died defending the Union. Those soldiers and their surviving brothers gave their commander-in-chief the name Father Abraham. They also gave him their votes in 1864.

Swanson describes the progress of the funeral train as a ribbon of flame spooling out across the land.

James Swanson not only gives us a loving and heartbreaking picture of the Lincoln Funeral Train, he also brings Confederate President Jefferson Davis back from the dead and may single-handedly rescue him from obscurity.

The author challenged his Lincoln Cottage audience to consider America in 1858, just two years before the meteoric rise of Illinois Star of the West. If Americans had been asked to guess who the next president would be in 1858, Sen. Jefferson Davis of Mississippi would not have seemed a dark horse. West Pointer, hero of the Mexican War, outstanding Secretary of War, Congressman and Senator, Davis had traveled extensively in the North and was respected throughout the Union.

But Jefferson Davis had also demanded a federal slave code for the territories. When Northern anti-slavery men refused that demand, first the Democratic Party broke up, then the Union itself was put in mortal danger.

Our hearts are engaged for Jefferson and Varina Davis as their beloved son Joe falls from a porch at the Confederate White House in Richmond. Jeff, Jr., the little boys brother, cries out in anguish: but God will not wake Joe. That was 1864. Imagine what a wrenching experience it must have been to order the evacuation of Richmond a year later, and leave your sons body behind.

Varina Davis comes through as a true Southern lady, faithful, brave, and intelligent. She supports her husband loyally. Never does she embarrass him, as poor unstable Mary Lincoln repeatedly does Abraham.

When federal troopers finally capture Jefferson Daviss fleeing party of thirtyhe once had thousands in his entouragehe is subjected to gross indignities. By this time, Lincoln has been dead for two weeks. Instantly, despicable lies spread throughout the country: Davis has been taken prisoner dressed in womens clothes. Vengeful President Andrew Johnson stands by as Jefferson Davis is taken to Fort Monroe.

Might this bad mans malice toward one actually have saved Daviss life? We know that many embittered Southerners revered Robert E. Lee and blamed Jefferson Davis for their defeat. And theres a good case for that idea. Swanson informs us that two hundred people were lynched in the North for gloating at Lincolns death. Might there have been even more in the South who hated Davis?

Daviss dignity in captivityand his rage at being manacledwon him respect North and South. He soon became a martyr to the Lost Cause. His wifes tireless efforts to free him bore fruit in 1867.

Swansons book gives us Daviss long life after Appomattox. Its an amazing American story. Daviss train trip as a frail old man elicits an overwhelming outpouring of emotion in the South. He was manacled for us, is the sign on his train.

Swanson tells us he is a Lincoln man through and through and in this, his loving tribute to the Lincoln Funeral Train, he certainly proves it. But he shows that you can love and revere Lincolns memory and still respect Jefferson Davis.

I never before had such respect for the man who was described by Sam Houston as cold as a serpent and proud as Lucifer. Swanson does give us more than a hint of the great issues that led to 620,000 American deaths. When Jefferson Davis is urged to head for Texas to continue the rebellion, he says he cannot go through his home state of Mississippi. Every Negro in the state knows me, he tells his fellow Confederates. For sure, the former slaves knew him as a kindly, Christian man.

But the fact that they would readily turn him over to Federal forcesand he knew thatproves that slavery was hardly the positive good for black people that John C. Calhoun and his successor Jefferson Davis said it was. Lincoln had demolished that line of argument. Though volumes have been written to prove the good of slavery, Lincoln said, but we seldom see a man seek the good of it by becoming a slave himself.

James Swanson in this excellent book, and in his earlier work, Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincolns Killer, gives us a vivid portrait of those tumultuous times. The Civil War Sesquicentennial on which we are embarked commemorates the 150th anniversary of those defining days. James Swansons work is indispensable. He takes us through that moody, tearful night of the Lincoln assassination and beyond.

The Social Conservative Review: April 14, 2011

by Krystle Gabele

April 14, 2011

Dear Friends,

In 2009, Barack Obama appointed then-Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to be Secretary of Health and Human Services. This was a troubling pick for conservatives, given her support for abortion-on-demand and support from abortion giant Planned Parenthood. Since her appointment, Sec. Sebelius has justified these concerns, as she has advocated for federal funding of abortion, abortifacient drugs and stem cell research using human embryos.

Yet there is a significant bright side to Sec. Sebelius’ departure from Topeka: Former Senator Sam Brownback, a champion for life, is now Governor of Kansas. And what a difference that has made.

Yesterday, Gov. Brownback signed legislation that “strictly limits abortions after 22 weeks based on the fact that fetuses can feel pain beginning after the 21st week of pregnancy” and another measure, “the Abortion Reporting Accuracy and Parental Rights Act,” which “requires minors who seek abortions to obtain consent from both parents and places certain prohibitions on late-term and partial birth abortions.”

Kathleen Sebelius would have fought these bills from their introduction. Sam Brownback not only signed but celebrated them.

To those who say that Christians should withdraw from political engagement and concentrate on private acts of charity or work solely with church or ministry groups, consider Sam Brownback and his allies in the Kansas Legislature.

These bills are part of a larger legislative mosaic that is building, gradually but steadily, a culture where the personhood of the unborn child is being recognized in law and in the American conscience.

Does political engagement bring complete resolution of every problem? No. But political action can make a decisive, if incremental, difference in a host of areas — most importantly those involving the sanctity of life from conception until natural death, the dignity of marriage, and the centrality of religious liberty to American public life.

Elections matter. Just ask Sam Brownback — and, in years to come, the children whose lives are saved through the bills he just signed into law.

Sincerely,

Rob Schwarzwalder

Senior Vice-President

Family Research Council

P.S. Be sure to read FRC President Tony Perkins’ Daily Caller op-ed on the budget crisis, Planned Parenthood, and the effects of abortion. To learn more about Planned Parenthood’s assault on the American family, read, “Planned Parenthood—What Every Parent, Teacher, Woman, Community Leader and Elected Official Needs to Know,” by FRC’s Director of the Center for Human Dignity, Jeanne Monahan.


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Truth Gets its Pants On

by Robert Morrison

April 14, 2011

Mark Twain famously said a lie can go halfway `round the world before truth gets its pants on. Maybe its time for truth to get out of bed. Novelist Gore Vidal created a minor stir twenty years ago with his claim that President James Buchanan was a same-sexer. Vidal has only been capable of minor stirs. Serious students of American history might be tempted to toss Old Public Functionary to the wolves. After all, poor Buchanan, the only bachelor president, is almost universally regarded as our worst president.

But what was ridiculous twenty years ago becomes a serious problem when the Internet explodes with salacious gossip about our U.S. presidents. Pornographer Larry Flynt unburdened himself to the trashy British tabloid, The Daily Mirror, promising to tell all about American presidents who were less than faithful to their marital vows. Britains gutter press loves nothing better than a sex scandal, unless its a sex scandal that reflects badly on the Yankees.

This perpetual muckraking is intended to do one thing: De-legitimize America in the eyes of the world and in the eyes of her own people. Its just one more way for the left to show that America is not exceptional, not all that special after all.

We should not cover up the real scandals in our history. Oliver Cromwell said he wanted to be painted warts and all. He cared about truth. Too many in the popular culture today, however, have taken the opposite approach: They paint major figures in our countrys history with their wartsthats all.

There have been sex scandals in the White House. The first of these came to light after President Harding died in office. He was alleged, credibly, to have had an affair with a woman not his wife, and to have brought his mistress into the residence. Pathetic, but then most of Hardings administration was pathetic.

Harding pursued naval disarmament to the applause of all the sophisticates of his day. Had he survived a bit longer, he might have beaten Barack Obama to a Nobel Peace Prize. But that wrong-headed policy would twenty years later result in tens of thousands of American and Filipino deaths because the U.S. Navy was stripped of its strength in the Pacific. Isnt that more scandalous?

After Harding, we know that President Kennedy carried on serial adulteries in the White House. These liaisons were unknown during his lifetime and cast discredit on his memory when first revealed in the 1970s. But Kennedy the president took this nation to the Moon, introduced historic Civil Rights legislation, and wisely lowered taxes. Unlike Harding, he has great achievement to weigh in the balance.

Lyndon Johnson was also known to be casual about his marital vows. His White House tapes have been described as a slow-motion suicide note. One of themin which a high school lady frienda fetching blonde— is being encouraged to come around to the back entrance of the LBJ Ranchis hilarious. The C-SPAN announcer solemnly intones that

Miss Betty Bodacious, or whoever, is meeting with the president to discuss his anti-poverty work. No doubt.

I passed over Franklin Roosevelt. His wife Eleanor enjoyed the company of lesbians if she was not a lesbian herself. FDR jokingly referred to Eleanors pals as she-males. In the last year of the war, he was obviously dying. His daughter Anna arranged some meetings in the White House and on board the presidential train with the sympathetic and tender woman who had been FDRs mistress during the First World War. FDR was in this ladys company when he died at Warm Springs, Georgia sixty-six years ago this week. Eleanor—initially angry with their daughter—became more forgiving. She may have recognized that by closing the door to marital intimacy with her husband, she was not wholly innocent herself.

Then, we have the notorious case of Bill Clinton. He and Hillary had appeared on Sixty Minutes the night of the Super Bowl in 1992. They acknowledged his straying, but gave viewers to believe that was all in the past and should stay buried there. It didnt.

When on January 21, 1998, the morning edition of the Washington Post revealed that a 21-year old intern, Monica Lewinsky, had been involved in a long-term affair with the President of the United States in the Oval Office, Americans were shocked, angered. And we had every right to be. Clintons White House staff, many of them, thought he would be forced out of office that very week. That is what should have happened.

But the Speaker of the House decreed otherwise. He told his partisans that if they stretched the investigation and impeachment out until the November elections, their party would win forty seats in the House. Soon, Americans expressed their disgust with these tactics and rejected the Speakers party at the polls. Instead of picking up forty seats, the House Majority was shaved by five, and the Speaker was bounced out of his chair.

He should have been. For he ignored the grievous danger to American national security the scandal represented. Throughout the Arab world, the controlled news media harped on Clintons Jewish mistress.

Egyptian journalist Mohammed Wahby told Jim Lehrer on PBS Newshour that the scandal was very dangerous in his part of the world, that Islamists would conclude that the U.S. was morally bankrupt and easy prey to jihadist attacks. Saddam Hussein took advantage of Americas distraction to kick out UN arms inspectors that February, just weeks after the scandal broke. Osama bin Laden declared war on the U.S. that same month, but few noticed.

Some of the other, older supposed sex scandals hardly bear notice. But we must, because the media has a way of insinuating lies into the hearts and minds of our people. The most egregious of these has to do with President Lincoln, whom Larry Flynt and other muckrakers think was homosexual. You cannot libel the dead, but you can betray your countrys memory. Thats what this false tale does.

Lincoln shared a bed with Springfield friend Joshua Speed. And with an army officer at the Soldiers Home in Northwest D.C. These muckrakers sneeringly insinuate from this that there was something homoerotic in this arrangement. There wasnt. Lincoln also shared his bed with New York Gov. William Seward on a political trip in 1848. He slept with dozens of fellow lawyers as he road the circuit in Illinois. Its what they did then.

Proof there was nothing salacious in these beddings is provided by liberal historian Doris Kearns Goodwin in her award-winning book, Team of Rivals. Dr. Goodwin notes that in December, 1864, Lincoln named James Speed his attorney general. He sent a letter to the Senate saying: I know James Speed, but not so well as I know his younger brother Joshua, with whom I shared a bed for three years in Springfield. If there had been anything slightly questionable in such an arrangement, Lincoln would hardly have given such ammunition to his political opponents on the Senate Judiciary Committee, then, as now, a brood of vipers.

Some of our presidents were fools. Some were wise men. Some heroes, like John F. Kennedy, were flawed men, who failed to uphold their vows. But in all, five out of forty-four presidents involved in infidelity is an amazing record. No European monarchy and no certainly no Third World dictatorship can come close to that record. We are not perfect, but ours is still the Great Republic. And we have abundant reasons to thank God we live in America.

Why Elections Matter

by Rob Schwarzwalder

April 13, 2011

In 2009, Barack Obama appointed then-Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius to be Secretary of Health and Human Services. This was a troubling pick for conservatives, given her support for abortion-on-demand and support from abortion giant Planned Parenthood. As an advocate for federal funding of abortion, abortifacient drugs and embryonic stem cell research, among other things, Sec. Sebelius has justified these concerns.

Yet there is a significant bright side to Sec. Sebelius’ departure from Topeka: Former Senator Sam Brownback, a champion for life, is now Governor of Kansas. And what a difference that has made.

Yesterday, Gov. Brownback signed legislation that “strictly limits abortions after 22 weeks based on the fact that fetuses can feel pain beginning after the 21st week of pregnancy” and another measure, “the Abortion Reporting Accuracy and Parental Rights Act,” which “requires minors who seek abortions to obtain consent from both parents and places certain prohibitions on late-term and partial birth abortions.”

Kathleen Sebelius would have fought these bills from their introduction. Sam Brownback not only signed but celebrated them.

To those who say that Christians should withdraw from political engagement and concentrate on private acts of charity or work solely with church or ministry groups, consider Sam Brownback and his allies in the Kansas Legislature. Were these bills the final word in the battle for life? No. They are part of a larger legislative mosaic that is building, gradually but steadily, a culture where the personhood of the unborn child increasingly is being recognized in law and in the American conscience. For the children whose lives will be saved through these measures, they are nothing less than critical.

Does political engagement bring complete resolution of every problem? No. But political action can make a decisive, if incremental, difference in a host of areas — most importantly those involving the sanctity of life, the dignity of marriage, and the centrality of religious liberty to American public life.

Elections matter. Just ask Sam Brownback.

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