FRC Blog

Daily Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

January 6, 2009

Here’s what we’re looking at today.

Obama Nominates Four To Senior Justice Posts,” Carrie Johnson and Robert Barnes, The Washington Post (January 6, 2009)

Church vandalism heats up gay marriage debate,” Jessica Garrison, The Los Angeles Times (January 5, 2009)

Less than 10% believe abortion should be legal, unfettered,” Charlie Butts, OneNewsNow (January 6, 2009)

Embryonic Stem Cell Research Funding Backers Likely to Use Obama, Congress,” Steven Ertelt, (January 5, 2009)

Maitland-based Liberty Counsel advances views on religious freedom through the courts,” Satta Sarmah, Orlando Sentinel (January 5, 2009)

USCIRF: Religious liberty in Iraq marked by ‘severe abuses’,” Tom Strode, Christian Examiner (January 6, 2009)

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Viacom-Time Warner Cable Cut Deal for Price Increases

by Chris Gacek

January 6, 2009

Last week, cable giant Time Warner “negotiated” a deal to keep showing Viacom’s channels after December 31, 2008.  As a Los Angeles Times article indicated the companies were battling hard with Viacom threatening to turn off kid’s shows to get their money:

Viacom had purchased newspaper advertisements, featuring a tearful Dora the Explorer, and placed an on-screen crawl on its channels to alert viewers to the impending programming blackout. The ads encouraged viewers to complain to Time Warner Cable.”

“The tactic worked — parents reported having to soothe children who were upset over the prospect of not being able to watch their favorite shows on Nickelodeon, including ‘SpongeBob SquarePants.’” 

Emotional blackmailers of children - in which circle of Hell did Dante place such scoundrels?  Not a pleasant one I’ll bet.

Well, of course, Time Warner capitulated and agreed to a 12% increase for the Viacom channels.  Under the old agreement, for example, Viacom received about 32 cents per subscriber per month from cable operators for MTV.  If you didn’t want MTV - tough.  Time Warner carries Viacom channels into 13.3 million houses, so one-third of a dollar per month per subscriber ain’t chicken feed.

Unfortunately, the mechanism to protect consumers from such price increases, manipulation of children, and unwanted purchases of cable channels is not in place.  What would that be?  It is having the power to refuse to purchase and pay for cable channels. 

This episode points to the need for consumer choice in cable TV channel selection.  If cable subscribers had that power - - SpongeBob SquarePants would probably be the one who would need some serious consolation right now after many adults turned him off and pocketed the change.

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Change Watch Backgrounder: Gov. Janet Napolitano - UPDATED

by Constance Mackey

January 5, 2009


NOMINEE:  Janet Napolitano

Born: New York City, November 29, 1957

Occupation:  Governor of Arizona  - elected in 2002 and again in 2006

Education: Santa Clara University and law degree from University of Virginia

Political Career:  While a partner in the Phoenix law firm Lewis and Roca LLP, Napolitano served as attorney for Anita Hill when Hill testified against the Supreme Court nomination of Clarence Thomas.  Appointed by President Bill Clinton as U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona, she then ran for and won the position of Arizona Attorney General in 1998 where she focused on consumer protection issues and general law enforcement.

Abortion:  “I am committed to women’s reproductive rights.  Current protections must not be eroded, and we must continue to fight to provide Arizona women with the support they need in making decisions about their own bodies.  Thus, I am pro-choice.”

Campaign web site, , “Issues” Sep 9, 2002

Napolitano vetoed every piece of abortion legislation that came across her desk - seven pro-life measures in total including a partial-birth abortion ban as well as a bill to strengthen parental consent requirements.  She refused to sign measures to make sure taxpayer funds do not pay for abortions for state workers.  As Governor she vetoed a bill that would allow women to know that an unborn baby will feel pain during an abortion procedure.  She vetoed a bill in 2004 that would have allowed women to receive information about abortion’s risk and alternatives that abortion businesses sometimes withhold from women considering abortions.  In addition, she vetoed a measure that would have protected pro-life pharmacists from being forced to dispense drugs that could cause abortions.

Appointment of Judges:  “Governor Napolitano defends appointment of judges even though the system never throws anyone out.” “Governor Napolitano is quoted in the Yellow Sheet defending the system of merit selection in Arizona’s larger counties, which allows the governor to appoint judges instead of requiring them to run for election.  They are only required to run for re-election, but it’s impossible to vote them out at that point since they have no name recognition from having never run a real campaign.”….”It is impossible to get rid of bad judges with merit selection, and the governor is able to appoint her political flacks like former legislator Bill Brotherton who has little relevant legal experience; his background consists mainly of Democrat political activism.  Three of Napolitano’s 15 or so judicial appointments have been gay, considering this (20%) is significantly higher than the proportion of gays in the general population, it is clear that Napolitano is able to pursue her own political agenda in the appointment of judges.  Instead of getting judgeships based on real merit, political leftists are able to get judgeships based on their leftwing ideological connections to Napolitano.” [source]

Napolitano’s Appointees:  As Governor, Janet Napolitano has embedded pro-gay rights and pro-abortion activists throughout her administration.  One example is Bryan Howard, who was appointed as a member of the governor’s Commission on the Health Status of Women and Families.  The Planned Parenthood Federation of America awarded Howard their highest honor for leadership for his role as CEO of Planned Parenthood of Arizona.  In his acceptance speech, he said the following: “I am proud of what I have accomplished and how we’ve accomplished it.  I am proud that more mothers and babies survive the perils of pregnancy.  I am proud that more families celebrate a new addition rather than regret it.  And I am proud we are helping more young people to experience their sexuality in a healthy, thoughtful way, whether they are gay, straight, bisexual or transgendered.”  According to the Planned Parenthood account, Howard’s “advocacy on behalf of reproductive rights has led to significant progress for women and families in Arizona, including Governor Janet Napolitano’s rejection of federal abstinence-only funding.” [source]

Law enforcement:  As Secretary of Homeland Security the Governor’s future performance can best be judged by her record on the issue of immigration in a border state.  She used her veto power on some key bills to cut benefits for and the flow of illegal aliens into the state.  Some of those bills included one denying in-state tuition and day care for illegal aliens and one allowing local authorities to enforce immigration law.  She vetoed a bill making English the official state language. She went directly up against Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s successful border operations and developed a new task force headed by the Department of Public Safety concentrating on illegal felons with outstanding warrants.  Her mantra in dealing with the illegal immigration problems in her border state has been, “Security and immigration are the federal government’s responsibility.”

While she has complied with allowing the border fence to be built, she has been unenthusiastic about its success.  Last year, Ms. Napolitano reached a deal with Mr. Chertoff to make driver’s licenses more secure under a federal program known as REAL ID, but in June she signed a bill refusing to put the standards in place, calling the program an unfinanced federal mandate.  She was a vocal critic when Congress failed to pass legislation last year revamping immigration law and has also backed proposals favored by some immigrant advocacy groups, including a temporary worker program and ‘a strict and stringent pathway to citizenship’ for illegal immigrants already here that would include learning English and paying fines.  But last year she also signed into law sanctions against employers who knowingly hire illegal workers and later complained when the Bush administration withdrew the bulk of the National Guard from the Mexican border earlier this year, as it had planned.”  Randal C. Archibold, New York Times, November 20, 2008


Defending Marriage: Gov. Janet Napolitano of Arizona announced her opposition this week to a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, according to The Arizona Republic. While Napolitano made it clear that she believes marriage is a union between a man and a woman, she is not in favor of the proposal and finds it unnecessary at this time. Napolitano said, “I don’t think the constitutional amendment is necessary. The voters of Arizona will have a chance to decide this. Personally, I’m going to oppose it. We already have a statute that defines marriage. The courts have already said the statute is constitutional(The Advocate) .”


Miscellaneous: In 1991, Janet Napolitano, then a well-regarded partner in the law firm of Lewis & Roca, LLP, served as the attorney for law professor Anita Hill when Hill testified against U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas.

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Daily Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

January 5, 2009

Here’s what we’re looking at today:

For Privacy’s Sake, Taking Risks to End Pregnancy,” Jennifer Lee and Cara Buckley, New York Times (January 4, 2009)

If This Isn’t Slavery, What Is?,” Nicholas D. Kristof, New York Times (January 3, 2009)

Broken promises: Knowledge can help protect teens,” Editorial, The Salt Lake Tribune (January 4, 2009)

Mohler: Newsweek ‘biblical case for gay marriage’ falls flat,” Jeff Robinson, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Towers (January 5, 2009)

Walk for Life West Coast Launches Post-Abortion Billboard, Pro-Life March Coming,” Steven Ertelt, (January 2, 2009)

Still Fighting,” Russ Pulliam, World Magazine (January 17, 2009)

Conservatives back Blackwell as RNC chief,” Ralph Z. Hallow, The Washington Times (January 5, 2009)

Girls Need a Dad and Boys Need a Mom,” Janice Shaw Crouse, (January 5, 2009)

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Daily Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

December 31, 2008

Here’s what we’re looking at today.

Roland Burris Watered Down Abortion-Infanticide Law Barack Obama Refused to Fix,” Steven Ertelt, (December 30, 2008)

Most Neb. lawmakers favor abortion ban,” Associated Press (December 30, 2008)

ACLU Taking Act One to Court,” MSNBC (December 30, 2008)

Lots of Flawed Arguments About Gay Marriage,” Conor Friedersdorf, (December 31, 2008)

Abstinence pledges are having an effect!,” Michael Landauer, The Dallas Morning News (December 30, 2008)

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Virginity Pledge Study “Misses the Boat” on Abstinence Education

by Moira Gaul

December 30, 2008

The Rosenbaum study comparing the sexual behavior of “virginity pledgers and nonpledgers” is a distraction from increasingly effective risk avoidance, or abstinence-centered, health prevention programs. Such programs are not the same as virginity pledge programs, and have stronger foundations in behavioral change than such pledges. The implication that this study should discredit federally funded abstinence programs for youth misses the boat from a behavioral science standpoint.

There are important ways in which abstinence programs are different from “virginity pledge” presentations. In order to accomplish behavior change or have a person successfully practice a specific behavior, precursors affecting that behavior have to be influenced. These include things such as knowledge as well as attitudes and intentions towards the behavior. The theoretical construct viewed as having the strongest effect on practicing a behavior is “self-efficacy.” Self-efficacy is the belief of a person that he or she can actually practice the behavior - the belief that they can actually do it successfully. Abstinence education programs teach skills in communication and refusal and impart additional information to youth for example about healthy relationships, goal setting, disease prevention, and social responsibility. All these elements serve to better equip youth, thus increasing self-efficacy. Collectively they provide a holistic health message helping youth to navigate the practice of sexual abstinence until marriage. Additionally, the longer the duration of the intervention or program, the more the health message, information, and skills imparted are reinforced. Such important program content cannot be adequately summed up and delivered during a short-term or one-time presentation. And if youth do slip on this behavior, the abstinence programs provide a sound foundation for returning to the practice of abstinence, whereas virginity pledges can leave one feeling as though there is utter failure for a return to the behavior.

Scholars are still building an evidence base for this relatively young field of abstinence education health promotion/disease prevention programs. Studying what is most successful within abstinence curricula to determine the best prevention practices would be a better use of research time and funding. Guiding youth away from high-risk behaviors which act to the detriment of both their physical and emotional health needs to be at the forefront of prevention strategies.

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When in Doubt

by Robert Morrison

December 30, 2008

I remember the scene clearly. It was the first time I’d ever fired a weapon. It was March, 1969, in Cape May, New Jersey. Our Coast Guard recruit company was banging away at the targets. Some of the fellows in Lima 74 were actually in the “butts,” a sheltered trench, where they strained at the lines to haul the heavy padded targets up and down to mark the points where we had hit our marks.

We had been thoroughly trained in range safety by our demanding boot camp company commander. He was Boatswain’s Mate Chief Clarence Ward Hollowell, of Hopewell, Georgia. Chief Hollowell was loud and profane. He would occasionally march into our squad bay in the middle of the night and give us “a white tornado.” That’s when he’d pull all the sheets and pillow cases off our racks, turn over everything, and order us to clean it all up in five minutes.

At first I thought this middle aged man from the Georgia piney woods would be a cartoon version of a southerner. His pot bellow protruded over his Coast Guard belt buckle. He bellowed at us while keeping his coffee mug grasped tightly in his hand. He was always threatening to jack ammonia. Who, I asked my mostly New York and New England bunkmates, was this Jack Ammonia? A Louisiana recruit helped with a translation: “Jack them on you. Demerits, you fool,” he drawled. And if you got too many demerits, you could be kicked out of Chief Hollowell’s Lima 74 company.

I soon learned that media images of southerners were wrong. Chief Hollowell was certainly rough on our black and Hispanic fellow recruits. And we’d all look around in consternation as he came into the squad bay roaring “Knives! Knives!” None of us had a knife. They’d all been confiscated. Only with some help, again from the rebels, did we realize the Chief was calling for Recruit Nieves, a Puerto Rican. Yes, the Chief was rough on the minority recruits because he was rough on all of us. He was one of the hardest and fairest men I’ve ever known.

Our first day on the range was one of excitement and anticipation. Most of us were city boys and suburban kids. Even though we’d been field stripping our M-1 rifles since our first week in boot camp, we had never fired them, or any rifle.

We were banging away at the targets. Beyond the butts, was the Atlantic Ocean. Any bullets that missed the targets would go out to sea. The area had been well marked off as dangerous. There were red buoys. There were radio announcements broadcast on the channel all boaters monitored in those days. All nautical charts contained “Notice to Mariners” warnings: Live Fire Area: Keep Out.

So, it was surprising when above the din we heard Chief Hollowell bellowing out: “Cease fahr! CEASE FAHR!” When we didn’t respond quickly enough to suit him, he brought his swagger stick down on my neighbor’s rifle with a resounding THWACK! When we had all gone silent, the Chief yelled above the wind and the waves: “When ah say cease fahr, ah mean CEASE FAHR!  Are yew peepul idiots?”

He saw how puzzled we all were. (We were out there, after all, in obedience to his orders.) With his swagger stick, he pointed out to sea. “Don’t you peepul see thet?” he demanded.

We strained and saw on the horizon a tiny white triangle. It might have been a sail. It might have been the superstructure of a tanker. It was hardly discernible. It must have been five miles out, far out of range of our rifles.

We are th’ Yew-nited States Coast Guard, men. We are the life savers. Thet maht be hyoo-man lahf out there. Yew don’t take a chance when hyoo-man lahf is at stake. Yew give it every benefit of the doubt.”

No, Chief Hollowell never took a chance where human life was concerned. We were all E-1s then, Seaman Recruits. Chief Hollowell was an E-7, Chief Petty Officer. And none of us then thought the protection of human life was above our pay grade.

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Daily Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

December 30, 2008

Here’s what we’re looking at today.

For Good Self-Control, Try Getting Religious About It,” John Tierney, New York Times (December 29, 2008)

Rights of Conscience Live Blog - TODAY!,” Mason Votes (December 30, 2008)

Arizona Lawmakers Likely to Submit New Abortion Bills With Napolitano Leaving,” Steven Ertelt, (December 29, 2008)

Fate unclear for Liberals backing anti-abortion cause,” Gloria Galloway, The Globe and Mail (December 30, 2008)

Premarital Abstinence Pledges Ineffective, Study Finds,” Rob Stein, The Washington Post (December 29,2008)

Public Schools Change Young Evangelicals’ Values,” Phyllis Schlafly, (December 30, 2008)

Stem cells aren’t embryonic anymore,” World Magazine (December 27, 2008)

An honest Messiah,” Andree Seu, World Magazine (December 27, 2008)

Grace at work,” Wayne Greene, Tulsa World (December 21, 2008)

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Daily Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

December 29, 2008

Here’s what we’re looking at today.

An Evangelical Bridge Too Far,” David R. Stokes, (December 28, 2008)

The Separation of Church and State - Reloaded,” Christopher Merola, (December 29, 2008)

Euthanasia Comes to Montana,” Wesley J. Smith, The Weekly Standard (December 29, 2008)

Obama’s Abortion Spending Spree” David N. Bass, The American Spectator (December 29, 2008)

New study finds that abstinence pledging teens still have sex,” Michele Johansen and Lexie Tigre, The San Francisco Examiner (December 29, 2008)

Amateurs are trying genetic engineering at home,”Marcus Wohlsen, (December 26,2008)

The Long-Term Effects Of Abortion - Where Is The Media’s Outrage?,” Monte Harms, Stand For Life (December 27, 2008)

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Not So Curious

by Family Research Council

December 29, 2008

F. Scott Fitzgerald is renowned for having written the most famous American novel, The Great Gatsby, which closes with one of literature’s best-known lines, “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” In The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, the boat becomes a man becomes a trope, the story of a human being who is born old and who lives his life in reverse, moving through old age, to maturity, to the prime of life, to adolescence, to childhood, and finally to infancy. Benjamin is literally borne back ceaselessly into what for everyone else would be the past. It’s an extraordinary concept, but does it make an extraordinary film?

For Fitzgerald, the futility of holding on to romance, to beauty, to life itself is implicit in every word and gesture. Moments of exquisite beauty fade instantly as they occur and their fatal aura only sharpens the impressions they leave upon the senses. Southern light lends itself to such uses and the decadent — that is, decaying - atmosphere of New Orleans in the 1920s and ‘30s is overripe for such a story (Fitzgerald’s original was published in 1921, and the film bears little relation to it other than the title). Cinematically, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button captures that evanescent beauty in almost every scene; it is a visually sensual movie that recreates its time in nearly every frame.

For all of that beauty, however, the film is an empty vessel, and Benjamin himself is the reason why. Were it not for the fantastic trajectory of his existence, it is altogether unclear why we should care about his life and not altogether clear that he cares about it either. His very being is the work of an artist’s imagination, but he himself seems to lack an imaginative core. He not only experiences life in reverse, he experiences it passively, whether it is piano lessons, his first sexual experience, his first job as a tugboat hand, the second world war, his first real love, fatherhood, and finally, as an infant, death itself.

The film’s recurring phrase, “You never know what is coming for you,” is apt in a manner the movie may not intend. Things happen to Benjamin, but he is not one to go out to meet them. He passes the lives of others in the night, heading the other way. There is occasional poignancy in this passageway, but it is seldom truly evocative. The performances by the leads, Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett, contribute to this quality. Blanchett’s porcelain features and royal bearing reinforce a coolness that contrasts starkly with the vibrancy of the film’s black characters, who alone seem real. Benjamin’s own coolness at the death of his adoptive mother, Queenie, played with power by Taraji Henson, seems merely odd. He behaves like a visitor at her funeral, not like a son.

The narrative flashback form used in the film has been done elsewhere, and better, most notably in another tall tale filled with picaresque Southern elegance, Tim Burton’s Big Fish. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’s framing story, like that of Big Fish, features parent-child tension and death-bed revelations, but the stakes in Burton’s film seem far higher and relate integrally to the movie’s meaning. Peter Finch’s character in Big Fish makes his experiences larger-than-life and those experiences mystically grow to assume the size of his telling; Benjamin Button renders his larger-than-life experiences in a way that seems to diminish them, and he follows them into shrinking significance as the film flows on, like Heraclitus’s river.

Take Burton and its genuine romance, over Button and its curious ennui.

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