Month Archives: January 2009

Daily Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

January 13, 2009

Here’s what we are reading this morning:

Evening Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

January 12, 2009

Here is what we are reading this evening:

Obama May Need Environmental Waivers for Spending

by Chris Gacek

January 12, 2009

A recent Los Angeles Times article makes clear that President Obama’s enormous stimulus/spending plan may run into a huge GREEN roadblock - the nation’s environmental laws and, in particular, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  NEPA was signed into law on January 1, 1970, and as Wikipedia puts it: “NEPA’s most significant effect was to set up procedural requirements for all federal government agencies to prepare Environmental Assessments (EAs) and Environmental Impact Statements (EISs). EAs and EISs contain statements of the environmental effects of proposed federal agency actions.”  If significant environmental effects are found, the government has to propose adequate ways of mitigating the harms to be caused by the project.  Spending vast sums on construction, roadway, and other infrastructure projects are certainly going trigger NEPA reviews. 

To spur jobs Governor Schwazenegger is attempting to clear environmental hurdles to various road projects that he believes “would give the state a $1.2 billion economic boost and create 22,000 jobs over the next three years.” The Governator wants to bypass environmental objections to get the projects moving.  In doing so, he “has infuriated the Sierra Club and other groups with such proposals and with a letter he sent to President-elect Barack Obama last week asking that federal environmental reviews be waived on the highway projects.” (my emphasis)

As I read this, Schawarzenegger wants the Obama administration to waive the NEPA requirements.  California’s request here is understandable, and if President Obama wants his stimulus explosion to effect the economy quickly, the Congress, the president, and the primary federal agencies for each “action” may need to waive these laws.  Otherwise, each project could get bogged down.  As Schwarzenegger noted, ” ‘What is important here is not to have projects ready [ ] three years from now, which can happen with the environmental approvals and other kind of red tape that you go through.’”

Having some familiarity with NEPA and related laws, I was beginning to wonder how its requirements were going to be met if the Obama Administration decided to seek a crash building & spending program.  Well, the article from California makes it abundantly clear that environmental regulation of the stimulus spending is going to be a real problem that the Congress will probably have to address statutorily.

Change Watch Backgrounder: Susan Rice

by Family Research Council

January 12, 2009

POSTION:U.S AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS

NOMINEE: Susan Rice

Born: Washington, DC. November 17, 1964

Family: Husband,  Ian O. Cameron, and two children.

Occupation: Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy, Global Economy and Development at the Brookings Institute

Education: D.Phil. (1990), M.Phil. (1988), Oxford University; B.A., Stanford University, 1986

Clinton White House: Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs (1997-2001); Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for African Affairs, the National Security Council, the White House (1995-1997); Director for International Organizations and Peacekeeping, National Security Council (1993-1995)

Abortion

Various interest groups and lawmakers issued statements today reacting to Barack Obama’s six-person national security team. Three advocacy groups for women weighed in positively on the three female nominees: Sen. Hillary Clinton, Dr. Susan Rice and AZ Gov. Janet Napolitano: Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards, National Organization for Women president Kim Gandy and Emily’s List’s Ellen Malcolm.”

Throughout her extensive career in international affairs, Susan Rice has consistently affirmed the responsibility to address the burdens of poverty around the globe and their impact on global health. In addition, she understands the important role the United Nations plays in promoting and protecting women’s health around the world, especially in developing countries. Susan Rice is a passionate and committed advocate for poor women and families around the world. We expect that she will work effectively with other countries to fulfill the UN’s development agenda, including the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) on maternal health, gender equality and AIDS reduction.” - Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards.

Reproductive health (abortion) is clearly and openly mentioned in the MDGs as a critical component of improving maternal health globally. The fifth of eight Millennium Development Goals is to improve maternal health. Two targets make up that goal: reduce by 3/4 the maternal mortality rate; and, according to the United Nations site about the MDG campaign, ‘achieve universal access to reproductive health care.’ This target clearly states, ‘an unmet need for family planning undermines achievement of several other goals.’”  [source]

Genocide

At an interagency teleconference in late April, Susan Rice, a rising star on the NSC who worked under Richard Clarke, stunned a few of the officials present when she asked, ‘If we use the word ‘genocide’ and are seen as doing nothing, what will be the effect on the November [congressional] election?’ Lieutenant Colonel Tony Marley remembers the incredulity of his colleagues at the State Department. ‘We could believe that people would wonder that,’ he says, ‘but not that they would actually voice it.’ Rice does not recall the incident but concedes, ‘If I said it, it was completely inappropriate, as well as irrelevant.’” Power, Samantha. “Bystanders to Genocide.” The Atlantic September 2001.

History demonstrates that there is one language Khartoum understands: the credible threat or use of force. After Sept. 11, 2001, when President Bush issued a warning to states that harbor terrorists, Sudan — recalling the 1998 U.S. airstrike on Khartoum — suddenly began cooperating on counterterrorism. It’s time to get tough with Sudan again …After swift diplomatic consultations, the United States should press for a U.N. resolution that issues Sudan an ultimatum: accept unconditional deployment of the U.N. force within one week or face military consequences. The resolution would authorize enforcement by U.N. member states, collectively or individually. International military pressure would continue until Sudan relented… If the United States fails to gain U.N. support, we should act without it. Impossible? No, the United States acted without U.N. blessing in 1999 in Kosovo to confront a lesser humanitarian crisis (perhaps 10,000 killed) and a more formidable adversary.” Rice, Susan, Lake, Anthony and Payne, Donald. “We Saved Europeans. Why Not Africans?The Washington Post. October 2, 2006. 

On Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY), nominee for Secretary of State, her potential counterpart at the State Department

On MSNBC’s “Tucker” yesterday, one of Sen. Barack Obama’s top foreign policy aides, former assistant secretary of state for African Affairs Susan Rice, said of Clinton’s 3 am phone call TV ad, ‘Clinton hasn’t had to answer the phone at three o’clock in the morning and yet she attacked Barack Obama for not being ready. They’re both not ready to have that 3 am phone call.’”  [source]

Miscellaneous

During Bill Clinton’s second term, Rice played a major role in the decision to refuse Sudan’s offer to hand over Bin Laden. According to Richard Miniter, author of Losing bin Laden, Rice persuaded Sandy Berger to turn Sudan down because she doubted its credibility and was offended by its human rights violations. But our ambassador to Sudan argued far more sensibly for calling Khartoum’s ‘bluff.’ Mansoor Ijaz, who was involved in the negotiations with Sudan provides the same account. No doubt, Rice will urge Obama (in the unlikely event he needs urging) to rush into talks with Iran and Syria notwithstanding any reservations about their credibility and human rights records, on the theory of ‘why not; how can it hurt?’ But when offered the opportunity to take out the world’s leading terrorist — as opposed to appeasing rogue terrorist supporting states — Rice drew the line.” [source]

Judge Lederman’s Top Ten List: Bad Arguments for Homosexual Parenting

by Peter Sprigg

January 12, 2009

After seven years of working on the issue of homosexuality at the Family Research Council, I think I have a pretty good sense of the arguments that pro-homosexual activists use in support of their agenda, such as affirmation of homosexual parents and same-sex “marriage.” Even when those arguments are made well, they are unconvincing-but when they are made poorly, it just leaves me shaking my head.

One example of this phenomenon-bad arguments made badly-got a lot of attention recently. That was the Newsweek cover story on “The Religious Case for Gay Marriage,” penned by the magazine’s religion editor Lisa Miller. It was so poorly researched and poorly reasoned that Miller should lose her job for it-not because she is in error, but because she is incompetent. Some political writer posting on a blog might get away with the kind of sloppiness Miller showed-but a “religion editor” writing a cover story should not be allowed to. Family Research Council President Tony Perkins and I wrote in detail about the Newsweek story on December 9.

Another example of a bad pro-homosexual argument badly made drew less attention, in part because of timing. On November 25-just two days before Thanksgiving-a Miami-Dade County judge in Florida, Cindy S. Lederman, issued a ruling declaring that state’s law barring homosexuals from adopting children to be a violation of the Florida constitution. The ruling came despite the fact that in 2004, the federal courts rejected a similar challenge to the same law. Lederman’s 53-page decision can be found here.

I am no longer surprised when a judge merely regurgitates the arguments typically offered by pro-homosexual activists, instead of engaging in an open-minded and thoughtful analysis. Such regurgitation is exactly what was done by the judges who voted to legalize same-sex “marriage” in Massachusetts, California, and Connecticut. But when a judge does not just explain away the evidence against the pro-homosexual position, but essentially denies that it even exists, then you know that the fix was in from the start.

Let me explain how the debate over homosexual parenting usually plays out, and how Judge Lederman went even beyond the normal pro-homosexual talking points.

One of the key arguments in favor of allowing homosexual parenting usually goes something like this: “There’s no proof that children raised by homosexuals do any worse than children raised by heterosexuals.” That they are able to make this claim with any degree of plausibility is due to only one fact-virtually all of the studies that have been conducted specifically of homosexual parents have suffered from such grave methodological flaws that they cannot be said to provide definitive “proof” of much of anything, one way or the other.

It is extremely difficult to get a truly random sample of the homosexual population, simply because that population is so small. The best surveys show that only about two percent of the population identifies as homosexual or bisexual (and only about one percent of couples sharing households). Therefore, scholars doing research on homosexuality often have to rely on “convenience samples”-for example, by advertising for study participants in publications catering to homosexuals. In the case of homosexual parents, it seems likely that those whose children are suffering serious problems would be less likely to volunteer, while those who do volunteer may be motivated by a desire to prove a point, and put only their best foot forward. Such a sample is likely to yield a more positive picture of homosexual parents than a truly random sample would.

Going hand-in-hand with the “no proof” claim is the “no differences” claim-the assertion that the research shows “no differences” between children raised by homosexuals and those raised by heterosexuals. Yet this claim has been decisively refuted by a source whose credibility on the issue is enhanced by her clear lack of bias against homosexuals-namely, the militantly pro-homosexual researcher Judith Stacey. Her 2001 article in American Sociological Review (with co-author Timothy J. Biblarz) conclusively refutes the “no differences” claim, noting that the research actually shows that children of lesbians are more likely to engage in homosexual behavior, daughters of lesbians are “more sexually adventurous and less chaste,” and lesbian “co-parent relationships” are more likely to break up than heterosexual marriages. Stacey does not consider these differences to be problematic, but others will certainly disagree. In essence, Stacey’s article confirms that advocates and many researchers themselves have been simply lying when they make the “no differences” claim.

Lederman’s decision mentions the Stacey and Biblarz article in a footnote, and notes her pro-homosexual position, but it fails to even mention the significance of the article in refuting the “no differences” claim. Instead Lederman merely repeats the discredited claim, declaring, “These reports and studies find that there are no differences in the parenting of homosexuals or the adjustment of their children” (p. 37 of the decision). Yet she goes even further. After repeating the (discredited) claim that there are “no differences,” she goes well beyond the narrowly defensible claim that the research provides “no proof” of negative outcomes, and instead makes a sweeping assertion that “based on the robust nature of the evidence in the field, this Court is satisfied that the issue is so far beyond dispute that it would be irrational to hold otherwise.”

To call the evidence “robust” on this matter is an exaggeration that should be embarrassing even to the pro-homosexual activists themselves. A detailed literature review of 49 studies on homosexual parenting reported:

Some major problems uncovered in the studies include the following:

Unclear hypotheses and research designs

Missing or inadequate comparison groups

Self-constructed, unreliable and invalid measurements

Non-random samples, including participants who recruit other participants

Samples too small to yield meaningful results

Missing or inadequate statistical analysis

Lerner and Nagai found at least one fatal research flaw in all forty-nine studies. As a result, they conclude that no generalizations can reliably be made based on any of these studies. For these reasons the studies are no basis for good science or good public policy.

Lederman’s own account of the testimony of one witness for the petitioner, however, contradicts the “no differences” claim in at least one crucial area-namely, the sexuality of young people raised by homosexual parents. Lederman notes on p. 17 that “one study revealed that female children raised by lesbians were more sexually active” and also said that “children raised by lesbian mothers expressed openness to considering same sex attraction.” But the witness, English psychologist  Michael Lamb, reportedly dismissed these findings as representing merely “a lesson in promoting tolerance” and showing that “children raised by lesbians are less strictly tied to sexual roles and rigid applications of sex roles.”

The principal case against homosexual parenting, however, is not based so much on the limited, methodologically deficient studies of homosexual parents as such. Instead, it is based on inferences to be drawn from two other bodies of research that are, indeed, “robust” in their findings. One is the evidence that homosexuality itself is associated with high levels of a number of pathologies-sexual promiscuity, sexually transmitted diseases, mental illness, substance abuse, domestic violence, and child sexual abuse. The second is the overwhelming body of evidence showing that in general, children do best when raised by their own biological mother and father who are committed to each other in a lifelong marriage. When these two bodies of evidence are juxtaposed upon each other, they provide more than sufficient reason for alarm about deliberately placing children with homosexual parents (for example, through foster care or adoption). Let’s look at these two factors individually.

Pro-homosexual activists usually do not deny that homosexuals have higher physical and  mental health risks-the evidence is simply too overwhelming. In fact, one of the most succinct summaries of those risks can be found on the website of the pro-homosexual Gay and Lesbian Medical Association. Here are some of the GLMA’s warnings about homosexual men:

That men who have sex with men are at an increased risk of HIV infection is well known . . .”

Gay men use substances at a higher rate than the general population, and not just in larger communities such as New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.”

Depression and anxiety appear to affect gay men at a higher rate than in the general population.”

Men who have sex with men are at an increased risk of sexually transmitted infection with the viruses that cause the serious condition of the liver known as hepatitis.”

Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) occur in sexually active gay men at a high rate.”

Although more recent studies have improved our understanding of alcohol use in the gay community, it is still thought that gay men have higher rates of alcohol dependence and abuse than straight men.”

Recent studies seem to support the notion that gay men use tobacco at much higher rates than straight men . . .”

Problems with body image are more common among gay men than their straight counterparts, and gay men are much more likely to experience an eating disorder such as bulimia or anorexia nervosa.”

[H]uman papilloma virus [HPV] … infections may play a role in the increased rates of anal cancers in gay men.”

Although the health risks for lesbians are not as dramatic as those for homosexual men, they are still significant:

Lesbians have the richest concentration of risk factors for breast cancer than any subset of women in the world.”

Lesbians have higher risks for many of the gynecologic cancers.”

Research confirms that lesbians have higher body mass than heterosexual women.”

Research also indicates that lesbians may use tobacco and smoking products more often than heterosexual women use them.”

Alcohol use and abuse may be higher among lesbians.”

Research indicates that lesbians may use illicit drugs more often than heterosexual women.”

Since the evidence is so overwhelming, the usual explanation offered by pro-homosexual activists for the mental health problems (and sexual risk-taking, which leads to physical health problems) of homosexuals is to blame society’s negative attitudes toward homosexual conduct. For example, the GLMA list offers this explanation for higher rates of depression and anxiety among lesbians: “Lesbians have been shown to experience chronic stress from homophobic discrimination.”

However, instead of offering this stock answer (“Homophobia made me do it!”) to the mental health problems of homosexuals, Judge Lederman baldly denied that such problems exist at all, declaring that “expert witnesses” had shown that “homosexually behaving individuals are no more susceptible to mental health or psychological disorders that their heterosexual counterparts” (p. 10).

Yet a detailed footnote (footnote #8, p. 14) giving actual statistics shows a completely different story. For example it states that rates of “major depression” are more than twice as high among homosexual men than among heterosexual men (17% to 8%). Rates of smoking are 47% higher among bisexual men than among heterosexual men (28% to 19%; rates for homosexual men are not given), and 77% higher among lesbians than among heterosexual women (23% to 13%). Rates of alcohol dependency are 42% higher among homosexual and bisexual men than among heterosexual men (9.2% to 6.5%), and more than three times higher among lesbians than among heterosexual women (9% to 2.7%). Rates of drug dependency are two and a half times higher among homosexual and bisexual men than among heterosexual men (7.5% to 3%), and more than three times higher among lesbians than among heterosexual women (5% to 1.5%). “Suicide attempts” are twice as high among homosexual men as among heterosexual men (5.6% to 2.8%), and they are more than twice as high among lesbian or bisexual women as among heterosexual woman (11% to 4.5%). Meanwhile, the “lifetime history of suicide attempts” (presumably measured in a different study) is more than three times as high among homosexuals as among heterosexuals (14% to 4.5%).

It may be that we should not place too much weight upon the specific statistics cited in Footnote 8, because they include several illogical anomalies, perhaps resulting from the conflation of data from different studies. For example, the data on “major depression” report that the rate for “men” (5%) is significantly lower than the rate for both homosexual and heterosexual men (17% and 8%, respectively)! On the other hand, the data for “smoking” indicate that the rate for “men” (36.4%) is higher than the rate for both bisexual and heterosexual men (28% and 19%)-it hardly seems likely that the population of homosexual men (omitted from the list) would be large enough to raise the total figure so dramatically. On the female side in the smoking category, the rate listed for “women” (23%) is the same as that listed for lesbians, but significantly higher than that listed for heterosexual women (13%), even though the latter are the overwhelming majority of all women.

The mere fact that such manifest absurdities were included in the decision demonstrates the carelessness and incompetence of Judge Lederman. But even when taken with a substantial grain of salt, the data certainly provide no support whatsoever for her claim that “homosexually behaving individuals are no more susceptible to mental health or psychological disorders that their heterosexual counterparts.”

In fact, the internal contradictions of Judge Lederman’s opinion are illustrated by the fact that she later abandons the “no more susceptible” claim, citing another expert witness on page 14 as concluding that “the average rates of psychiatric conditions, substance abuse and smoking are [emphasis added] slightly higher for homosexuals than heterosexuals” (though rates that range from 42% to 233% higher, as indicated in Footnote 8 on the same page, would seem to be more than “slight” differences). Instead of denying the differerences altogether (as on p. 10), Lederman shifts to another argument, suggesting that there are other demographic groups that also have higher rates of “psychiatric conditions, substance abuse and smoking” than the general population, including “American-Indians,” “the unemployed,” and “non-high school graduates.”

This comparison, however, is flawed because homosexual conduct is not an innate characteristic like race, an involuntary characteristic like unemployment, nor a socioeconomic characteristic like educational attainment. It is a behavioral characteristic, defined by the voluntary choice to engage in specific behaviors, namely sexual acts with people of the same sex.

By way of comparison: if the research shows that women are more likely to get breast cancer than men, that cannot logically be taken as proof that women are inherently inferior to men, because one’s biological sex is an innate and involuntary condition. On the other hand, if research shows that cigarette smokers are more likely to get breast cancer than non-smokers, such a finding can logically be taken as evidence that not smoking is better than smoking, because smoking is a voluntary behavior with demonstrable negative consequences.

Much of the homosexual rights movement as a whole rests on deliberate obfuscation of this point. That is, it rests on the effort to portray homosexuality (falsely) as an innate characteristic like race or sex, instead of as what it is-a voluntary behavior, like smoking, that has clear negative consequences.

When it comes to the findings that children do best when raised by their own, biological mother and father who are committed to one another in a lifelong marriage, most pro-homosexual activists do not try to deny the overwhelming evidence. Instead, they generally will point out that most of the studies on which this conclusion is based involve comparisons with single-parent families or divorced families, rather than with homosexual couples as such.

Judge Lederman, however, was not content to dismiss this evidence as not being directly relevant, the way most pro-homosexual activists do. Instead, she dismissed it altogether. Citing Dr. Lamb for authority, she declares that “researchers once believed that traditional families provided the best environment for children. As the research developed, however, the notion was proven to be flawed …” (p. 15). She concludes her summary of Lamb’s testimony with two other statements, also false, stating that “the assumption that children need a mother and a father in order to be well adjusted is outdated and not supported by the research,” and making the absurd claim that “there is a well established and generally accepted consensus in the field that children do not need a parent of each gender to adjust healthily” (p. 18).

The truth is exactly the opposite. For instance, the non-partisan think tank Child Trends surveyed the literature and found, “An extensive body of research tells us that children do best when they grow up with both biological parents in a low-conflict marriage.” To the argument (often advanced by homosexual activists) that it is merely having the support of two parents that matters, Child Trends added, “Children growing up with stepparents also have lower levels of well-being than children growing up with biological parents. Thus, it is not simply the presence of two parents, as some have assumed, but the presence of two biological parents that seems to support children’s development.”

In similar fashion, Lederman denies that homosexual partnerships are more unstable than heterosexual marriage-then includes a footnote showing exactly the opposite. Footnote #4 on p. 11 cites one study (apparently from Europe) showing that “same sex couples in civil unions” had break-up rates 41 % higher than married heterosexuals (3.8% to 2.7%), while “same sex couples not in civil union” [sic] had rates more than three times higher (9.3%). It cites another study from Sweden in which the break-up rates for “gay male registered partnerships” were 75% higher than for married heterosexuals (14% to 8%), and the rates for “lesbian registered partnerships” were two and a half times higher (20%). She also cites an old (1970) study that showed that just in the first two years of a relationship, the break-up rates for “gay men” were four times higher than for married heterosexuals (16% to 4%), and the rates for lesbians were five and a half times higher (22%).

I won’t even go into the blatant religious bigotry expressed by Judge Lederman, who dismissed the testimony of two experts for the state on the basis of their having written for religious publications. James A. Smith, Sr. of the Florida Baptist Witness has already written on that aspect of Lederman’s decision here.

Lederman’s decision was not only poorly reasoned, but poorly written, being riddled with non sequitirs and punctuation errors. Take this passage on whether homosexuality is a mental disorder, for example: “Today, Dr. Berlin reports that leading professionals agree that homosexuality defines one’s same sex attraction only. [?] According to the witness, homosexuality was removed from the DSM because the evidence of [for?] it’s [sic] classification as a disorder did not justify the conclusion.”

While Judge Lederman’s decision was a comedy of errors, it is no laughing matter. One can only hope that this atrocious decision will be overturned on appeal.

SCHEDULED HEARING DATES

by Family Research Council

January 9, 2009

Here are coronation hearing dates for some of President-elect Obama’s nominees. For more details such as times please go here. To watch the hearings as they are happening tune into CSPAN.org

Tom Daschle, nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services

Hearing date: January 8th, 2009

Location: Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee

Hilda L. Solis, nominee for Secretary of Labor

Hearing date: January 9th, 2009

Location: Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee

Hillary Rodham Clinton, nominee for Secretary of State

Hearing date: January 13th, 2009

Location: Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Steven Chu, nominee for Secretary of Energy

Hearing date: January 13th, 2009

Location: Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee

Arne Duncan, nominee for Secretary of Education

Hearing date: January 13th, 2009

Location: Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee

Peter R. Orszag, nominee for Director of the Office of Management and Budget;

Robert L. Nabors II, nominee for Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Hearing date: January 13th, 2009

Location: Senate Budget Committee

Shaun Donovan, nominee for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

Hearing date: January 13th, 2009

Location: Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee

Thomas J. Vilsack, nominee for Secretary of Agriculture.

Hearing date: January 14th, 2009

Location: Senate Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee

Lisa P. Jackson nominee for Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency; Nancy Helen Sutley, nominee for Chairman of the Council on Environmental Quality. Hearing date: January 14th, 2009

Location: Senate Environment and Public Works Committee

Eric Shinseki, nominee for Secretary of Veterans Affairs

Hearing date: January 14th, 2009

Location: Senate Veterans Affairs Committee

Peter R. Orszag, nominee for Director of the Office of Management and Budget;

Robert L. Nabors II, nominee for Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget.

Hearing date: January 14th, 2009

Location: Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee

Ken Salazar, nominee for Secretary of the Interior.

Hearing date: January 15th, 2009

Location: Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee

Susan E. Rice, nominee for Representative to the United Nations

Hearing date: January 15th, 2009

Location: Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Eric H. Holder, nominee for Attorney General of the United States

Hearing date: January 15th, 2009

Location: Senate Judiciary Committee

Mary Schapiro, nominee for Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission; Christina Romer, nominee for Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors;

Austan Goolsbee and Cecilia Rouse, nominees to be Members of the Council of Economic Advisors;

and Daniel Tarullo, nominee to be a Member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

Hearing date: January 15th, 2009

Location: Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee

Janet A. Napolitano, nominee for Secretary of Homeland Security

Hearing date: January 15th, 2009

Location: Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee

Daily Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

January 9, 2009

Here’s what we’re looking at today

Change Watch Backgrounder: Arne Duncan

by David Nammo

January 8, 2009

ARNE DUNCAN

POSITION: Secretary of Education

BIRTH DATE: Nov. 6, 1964

EDUCATION:  Magna Cum Laude, Harvard University, Sociology Degree, 1987

FAMILY:  Wife, Karen (Australian-American) and two children.

EXPERIENCE:  Arne Duncan was born and raised in the Hyde Park, Chicago area.  He attended University of Chicago Laboratory Schools.  He was accepted to Harvard University, where he was co-captain of Harvard’s basketball team and was named a first team Academic All-American.  Mr. Duncan played professional basketball in Australia after graduation from 1987-1991, where he also worked with children who were wards of the state.

Duncan moved back to Chicago in 1992  and directed the Ariel Education Initiative, a program to enhance educational opportunities for students on Chicago’s South Side.  In 1998, he began working for the Chicago Public Schools and in 2001, Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley named Duncan as the Chief Executive Officer. 

[source]

No Child Left Behind

Duncan has called for more flexibility in the No Child Left Behind school accountability law, but does not intend to scrap the initiative entirely.
[source]

Gay High School

Arne Duncan approved a proposed gay-friendly Chicago Social Justice High School - Pride Campus.  The school would have been committed to affirming homosexuality in adolescents, have been publicly subsidized and included homosexuality-affirming curricula.  

[source]

Comprehensive Sex Education & Playboy

Chicago Public Schools adopted a comprehensive sex education curricula called passed the Family Life and Comprehensive Sexual Health Education policy in 2006, under Arne Duncan’s leadership.  The policy was crafted in coordination with the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health, according to the Windy City Times, a pro-homosexual website.   

The Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health, a leading group promoting comprehensive sex education, held its Spring 2006 fundraiser at the Playboy mansion.

Comprehensive sex education” is education-speak for sex education curricula that, among other things, teach students subversive views of sexual conduct, abortion, and homosexuality. Here are some of the topics covered in typical comprehensive sex ed curricula:

  • Provides values-based education and offers students the opportunity to explore and define their individual values as well as the values of their families and communities
  • Includes a wide variety of sexuality related topics, such as human development, relationships, interpersonal skills, sexual expression, sexual health, and society and culture
  • Includes accurate, factual information on abortion, masturbation, and sexual orientation
  • Provides positive messages about sexuality and sexual expression, including the benefits of abstinence
  • Teaches that proper use of latex condoms, along with water-based lubricants, can greatly reduce, but not eliminate, the risk of unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV
  • Teaches that religious values can play an important role in an individual’s decisions about sexual expression; offers students the opportunity to explore their own and their family’s religious values
  • Teaches that a woman faced with an unintended pregnancy has options: carrying the pregnancy to term and raising the baby, or carrying the pregnancy to term and placing the baby for adoption, or ending the pregnancy with an abortion

[source]

Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC)

Duncan worked in promoting the Annenberg Challenge, a radical education group formerly run by Barack Obama and Bill Ayers.   The CAC’s agenda flowed from Mr. Ayers’s educational philosophy, which called for infusing students and their parents with a radical political commitment, and which downplayed achievement tests in favor of activism.

[source 1, source 2]

Charter and Failing Schools

Duncan has earned praises from some quarters for his support of charter schools, his willingness to close failing schools, his support for greater student accountability, and his promotion of merit pay for teachers.

[source]

Record of Success

During Duncan’s tenure at Chicago Public Schools, the system spent the second highest amount per individual student in the nation yet only showed a very small improvement improved test scores.

[source]

Evening Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

January 8, 2009

Here’s what we’re looking at tonight:

Tales of Chemical Abortion in the New York Times

by Chris Gacek

January 8, 2009

 

On January 5, 2009, the New York Times carried an article (“For Privacy’s Sake, Taking Risks to End Pregnancy” by Jennifer R. Lee and Cara Buckley) describing the fact that many Dominican women in New York City are aborting using the anti-ulcer drug, misoprostol (Cytotec).  Misoprostol is also the second drug in the FDA-approved abortion regimen of mifepristone (RU-486 or Mifeprex) and misoprostol.  Using misoprostol alone is a practice that is widely found in Latin American nations because misoprostol is cheap and available in pharmacies while mifepristone is either expensive, restricted in distribution, or both.  (From some quick web research: RU-486 does not appear to be approved in many Latin American nations; it isn’t even approved in Canada.)

Access to RU-486 is tightly controlled in the United States, but misoprostol is sold in drug stores as an anti-ulcer medication for people who take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS).  In New York City “women can obtain the pills either through pharmacies that are willing to bend the rules and provide the medicine without a prescription or by having the drugs shipped from overseas.”

The RU-486 regimen was developed so that mifepristone could chemically end the pregnancy’s development while relying on misoprostol to then bring about the violent uterine contractions needed to expel the “products of conception.”  With misoprostol-only abortions the mifepristone-related chemical action does not occur, and abortions, like those reported in the article, depend primarily on termination based on contractions and expulsion.  Because of the dual action, RU-486 abortions are more effective than misoprostol-only abortions, but even they fail 3-5% of the time.

To their credit, Lee and Buckley do note that misoprostol abortions have “side effects” that “can be serious, and include rupture of the uterus, severe bleeding and shock.”  The article also quotes a doctor who has studied misoprostol abortions in New York City where “he saw a lot of Dominican immigrants with incomplete abortions in the emergency room.” 

Of course, this is the pattern that we at FRC, along with doctors from the American Association of Pro Life Ob/Gyns (“AAPLOG”), have observed.  We analyzed RU-486 adverse event reports obtained from the FDA via the Freedom of Information Act.  Many chemical abortions do not complete themselves and women are forced to seek out emergency room care while they are tremendously sick.  Blood loss can be significant sometimes requiring transfusions.

Instead of portraying these abortions as events that end the life of a human being while abusing the bodies of the women who have them, chemical abortions are portrayed in a benign light in the article.  But the reality is much different. 

For more on RU-486 abortions and the drug’s U.S. approval, download Politicized Science: The Manipulated Approval of RU-486 and Its Dangers to Women’s Health.

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