FRC Blog

A Ghost from Christmas Past

by Tony Perkins

December 4, 2008

The clock in downtown Ponchatoula, Louisiana had not even struck one but like a bad dream from the past the Louisiana ACLU was back haunting city officials with threats of lawsuits if the town’s Christmas Lights Festival included an illuminated cross.

Having served in public office in Louisiana I’ve traveled the state many times and Ponchatoula, the Strawberry Capital, is one of my favorite places. It is a quaint little southern town that most have only seen in the movies, kind of Norman Rockwellish. The downtown area is bisected by train tracks. Main Street is lined with antique stores that attract folks from around the state.

My wife’s family comes from that region of the state where a majority of the people attend church and overwhelmingly identify with traditional values. This is the same area of the state where the ACLU has filed multiple suits against a school board for opening their school board meetings in prayer. The leftist lawyers also sued a local court because a picture of Jesus was in the court house building.

Why is the ACLU so active in this predominately conservative area of the country? The answer is in the federal district court, the Eastern District of Louisiana, which is a hotbed of liberal activism. Ginger Berrigan, the judge who ruled against the Tangipahoa school board on the matter of prayer and whose ruling was later overturned, is the former president of the ACLU in Louisiana appointed to the bench by Bill Clinton in 1994.

This is another example of why the courts matter, even at the lowest level of the federal system. As is the case with so many elected officials operating with tight budgets, Ponchatoula’s mayor, Bob Zabbia opted not to fight the baseless claim of the ACLU for fear of what it might cost.

Tragically, it cost citizens a whole lot more in the end when their elected officials won’t defend their religious heritage and freedoms.

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Change Watch Backgrounder: Tom Daschle

by Family Research Council

December 4, 2008

SECRETARY OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

 

NOMINEE: Thomas Daschle

BIRTH DATE: Dec. 9, 1947

EDUCATION: B.A. in political science, South Dakota State University, 1969.

FAMILY: Wife, Linda Hall Daschle; three children from a previous marriage.

FRC SCORECARD: 107th Second Session: 22%, 108th First Session: 14%, 108th Second Session: 17%

EXPERIENCE: distinguished senior fellow, Center for American Progress; special public policy adviser, Alston & Bird; Senate minority leader, 2003-2005; Senate majority leader, 2001-2003; Senate minority leader, 1995-2001; U.S. Senate, 1987-2005; U.S. House of Representatives, 1979-1986; aide to Sen. James Abourezk, 1972-77; representative for financial investment firm; intelligence officer, U.S. Air Force, 1969-72.

HEALTH CARE EXPERIENCE: Co-wrote one book and a few papers on the subject while with the liberal organization Center for American Progress.

 

Comments on Health Care

Many believe wrongly that we have the best health system in the world … One of the most urgent priorities in this nation is making its health system accessible and affordable for all.” Daschle. Thomas, Paying “More but Getting Less: Myths and the Global Case for U.S. Health Reform,” Center for American Progress, November 2005.

Daschle’s solution lies in the Federal Reserve Board, which has overseen the equally complicated financial system with great success.  A Fed-like health board would offer a public framework within which a private health-care system can operate more effectively and efficiently … Daschle argues that this independent board would create a single standard of care and exert tremendous influence on every other provider and payer, even those in the private sector.”  Excerpt: “Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis,” by Senator Tom Daschle with Scott S. Greenberger and Jeanne M. Lambrew, February, 2008

For the most part, Daschle’s views on health-care policy are predictable for a Democratic politician with long service in the Congress … the toolbox he is looking through is the same one other Democrats are also reaching for: mandates on individuals and businesses to buy or offer coverage; new government-run insurance options for the under-65 population; a national governmental agency offering anyone who wants it to sign up for insurance outside of work; large new subsidy programs; and much more government involvement in determining what is and is not effective medical care … Daschle is no free-market reformer. He believes the solution is to entrust government-run health care to people more trustworthy than HHS bureaucrats or elected members of Congress … In Daschle’s vision, such a board would be charged with making the big and controversial decisions - like what should or should not be covered by insurance plans - without having to answer to the public. Of course, this would be a nightmare scenario for those fearful of government intrusion into the practice of medicine. Once up and running, such a Board would inevitably accrue more power and authority, becoming the choke point for all crucial decisions. And the public would have little recourse to ever undo it.” Capretta, James, “Daschle’s Health-Care Plan,” National Review, August 27, 2008.

 

Pro-Life Record

Taxpayer funding of abortions: June 20, 2000, voted for taxpayer funded abortions on military bases

[Source]

Parental rights/Morning after pill: Voted against a Helm’s Amendment in 2000 that would have prevented taxpayers paying for the morning after pill being distributed to school girls. 

[Source]

Roe v. Wade:

March 12, 2003, voted for a Senate resolution endorsing Roe v. Wade.

[Source]

Partial Birth Abortion: July 25, 2002, Senator Daschle, as Majority Leader, was key on blocking the Partial Birth Abortion Ban coming to a vote in the Senate that year, despite voicing support for the legislation. “(A)bortion rights advocates are counting on the majority leader, Senator Tom Daschle, Democrat of South Dakota, to prevent a bill from coming to the floor. ‘The Senate is our firewall,’ one abortion rights supporter said.”  Hulse, Carl, “An Abortion Bill Passes, But to an Uncertain Fate,” New York Times, July 25, 2002.

Unborn Victims of Violence: March 25, 2004, voted for an alternative to the Unborn Victims Bill, the measure that provides protection and justice for women and children like Laci and Conner Peterson who are victims of violence that would have been far weaker. The measure Daschle backed would deny that the baby had suffered any injuries or death in such an attack.

[Source]

 

Tax and Reporting Problems

Make no mistake, tax cheaters cheat us all, and the IRS should enforce our laws to the letter.” Sen. Tom Daschle, Congressional Record, May 7, 1998, p. S4507.

According to the lead article in today’s Washington Post, Tom Daschle ‘waited nearly a month after being nominated to be secretary of health and human services before informing Barack Obama that he had not paid years of back taxes for the use of a car and driver provided by a wealthy New York investor.’ If President Obama were really serious about ending business as usual, he would immediately withdraw the nomination of someone who was cheating big-time on his taxes and who didn’t level with Obama about the problem at the outset.  [Source] Of course, if he were really serious about ending business as usual, he would never have selected for a major Cabinet position a former senator of no discernible talent who, while he was a senator, enabled his wife to leverage his status to become a super-lobbyist and who on leaving the Senate cashed in his access to his former colleagues for millions of dollars a year.” Ed Whelan, “Limousine Liberal,” NRO The Corner, February 1, 2009. 


Miscellaneous

Senator Daschle supported expanding taxpayer funding of embryonic stem cell experimentation as U.S. Senator. [Source]

Senator Daschle was “disowned” by his Catholic bishop due to his strong anti-abortion stance.

The Senate minority leader and the highest ranking Democrat in Washington has been sent a letter by his home diocese of Sioux Falls, sources in South Dakota have told The Weekly Standard, directing him to remove from his congressional biography and campaign documents all references to his standing as a member of the Catholic Church.” Bottom, J., “Tom Daschle’s Duty to Be Morally Coherent,” The Weekly Standard, April 17, 2003.

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Change we’ve seen before

by Family Research Council

December 4, 2008

The Washington Post reports today that the very impressive e-mail and cell phone number lists that Obama’s political campaign amassed will now be moving over to the White House to be used as an action arm of the Administration to get those who supported Obama during the campaign to defend his policy decisions.  Any potential legality aside I am worried how a President could very easily misuse this technology.  Candidate Obama used this technology to try to shut down media outlets that gave a voice to any dissenters and also used it to falsely malign two writers, Stanley Kurtz and David Freddoso.

The Post article states that the Obama transition team is already using the list to tackle probably the biggest “change” that the Obama Administration is preparing for -  some form of universal healthcare.  President-elect Obama’s choice for HHS Secretary, former Senator Tom Daschle (D-SD), has already had a conference call with 1,000 of the people from the list and also has “met with more than 100 insiders,” though the only two groups the article names are supporters of taxpayer funded abortions, AARP and Families USA.

Mr. Daschle also praises the suggestions from the taxpayer funded transition site Obama’s campaign have set up for comments, “‘We want to make sure you understand how important those comments and your contributions are,’ Daschle says into the camera. ‘Already we’ve begun to follow through with some of the ideas.’ Daschle praises the suggestion of creating a ‘Health Corps’ of volunteers, modeled after President John F. Kennedy’s Peace Corps.”

Actually, someone else thought the Health Corps idea was so great that it was created 35 years ago.

Daschle then closes with a quote reassuring people that facts won’t matter as much as anecdotes - so keep those stories coming in!

Stay tuned for more on the incoming HHS Secretary…

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Christmas is a humbug for Planned Parenthood of Indiana

by Jared Bridges

December 4, 2008

The Christmas season is looking a bit Scrooge-ish for Planned Parenthood of Indiana. They’ve already been visited by two specters in recent days.

Last week (the ghost of Christmas present?), their introduction of “gift vouchers” for abortions didn’t exactly kindle the holiday spirit. This week, invoking the ghost of Christmas Past, Live Action Films introduced an undercover video featuring an “overly-helpful” PP worker who becomes hard of hearing when evidence of rape arises:

LifeNews is now reporting that the worker has been “suspended,” whatever that means. Perhaps Indiana Planned Parenthood needs a visit from the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come…

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Update on the Washington Metro Bus Ad

by Krystle Gabele

December 4, 2008

As mentioned in the November 12, 2008 Daily Buzz, the Washington, DC Metro Transit system has been in some deep heat from riders and onlookers alike for their recent advertisements on the back of buses. The advertisements are a part of the American Humanist Association campaign that says: “Why believe in a God? Be good for goodness sake.”

According to a recent article from The Washington Examiner, the Metro Transit Agency has received such complaints like, “May all your atheist buses break down.” Metro spokeswoman Candace Smith responded to these complaints by saying,

As a public agency, Metro must observe the First Amendment with respect to the acceptance of commercial advertising,” Smith said. “Although we understand that feelings and perceptions will vary among individuals within the community, we cannot reject advertising because an individual, or group, finds it inappropriate or offensive.

Metro spokeswoman Smith said the number of complaints represents a small fraction of its ridership, which averages more than a million trips on buses and trains daily.

Do we think we’re losing customers over this?” Smith said. “I doubt it.”

She said Metro responds to each complaint, urging those who complain to contact the advertiser directly. Or, she said, “They can pony up money for counter advertising.”

It is an attitude like this that sends a clear sign that the Metro does not take note or consider how offensive an advertising campaign can be to their patrons.

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Two Important Pieces from the Washington Times

by Chris Gacek

December 2, 2008

Over the extended holiday weekend, the Washington Times published an editorial and a commentary piece that are well worth reading:

  • The Times editorial appeared on Friday, November 28, and was entitled “Judicial Imperialism.”  First, the paper discusses the worrying ramifications of the recent settlement by eHarmony, a California company, which was forced by the state of New Jersey to offer dating services to gay customers in New Jersey.  Second, the editorial discusses the dangerous and illegitimate effort to have the California Supreme Court thwart the will of the Golden State’s voters and declare its recently-passed marriage amendment unconstitutional. 
  • The commentary piece was authored by Jeffrey T. Kuhner.  His first Sunday opinion column with the Times was published on September 28th.  In Kuhner’s latest, entitled “Obama vs. Pope Benedict,” he recognizes the struggle that may erupt between Mr. Obama and the Pope should the new administration pass the Freedom of Choice Act.  He sets the stage as follows:

Mr. Obama signing the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) “would be the equivalent of a war,” a senior Vatican official told Time magazine last week. “It would be like saying, ‘We’ve heard the Catholic Church and we have no interest in their concerns.’ ”

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In the Midst of Godlessness

by Michael Leaser

December 2, 2008

Walt Disney Pictures and Walden Media are releasing on DVD today their adaptation of the second installment in C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, Prince Caspian. A lesser-known story than that of its predecessor, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian brings the four Pevensie children back to a Narnia 1,300 years older, where the ruling humans have constructed a bellicose society that regards the Christ-like Aslan, if it regards him as all, as no more than a mere myth. In many respects a cautionary tale for our own society about the effects of Godlessness, Caspian also delivers an inspirational message about the effects of Godliness when our heroes and a significant portion of Narnians renew their faith in God (Aslan).

Another notable event in the film is the introduction of Reepicheep the mouse, a character whose name could be listed in any dictionary as a synonym for “valour” and “chivalry.”

Due to the book’s involved backstory, Caspian is the most difficult of the Chronicles to adapt to the screen. The need to rearrange and modify events in the book to accomplish that feat has arguably resulted in a film superior to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, for which the screenwriters adhered to the book’s structure perhaps a bit too religiously. This is forgivable, though, since Lion‘s narrative is more conducive to cinematic interpretation and less forgiving to structural alterations.

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Think You’re Smarter Than a College Kid?

by Brittany Smith

November 20, 2008

Today at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. the Intercollegiate Studies Institute (ISI) released a new study that found most Americans to be civically illiterate.

The study was conducted by giving a random sampling of more than 2500 people a 33 question test on civic literacy. Questions ranged from knowledge about the Declaration of Independence to the economy. The result of the test was that more than 1,700 people failed. The average score overall was 49 percent, which equals an “F” on the ISI scale.

Another disturbing finding of the study was that twice as many people know that Paula Abdul was a judge on American idol than they know that the phrase “government of the people, by the people, for the people” comes from the Gettysburg Address.

Many of the people polled by ISI believe that colleges should be in charge of teaching America’s heritage and history. This includes 73 percent of people in the West, 69 percent in the Midwest, 74 percent in the Northeast and 74 percent in the South. Yet even with this high expectation from the general public many of these institutions are failing to do so. The results show that the average score for college graduates who took this civic literacy exam was 57 percent. Once again, an F on the ISI scale.

Chairman of ISI’s National Civic Literacy Board, Josiah Bunting, III, said of these results; “There is an epidemic of economic, political, and historical ignorance in our country.”

So what do we do with these results? ISI is calling on elected officials, trustees, taxpayers, parents and college administrations to start reevaluating college curricula and looking at new standard of accountability. They are asking, “Do colleges require courses in American history, politics, economics and other core areas?”

David Brooks, columnist for The New York Times and a speaker for the event, said that a knowledge of American history is beginning to be left behind by liberals and conservatives alike. He went on the say that “human beings want stories and history provides that.”

For more on the study and an opportunity to test your own historical knowledge go to www.americancivicliteracy.org or visit ISI’s website at www.isi.org

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