Month Archives: February 2009

Daily Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

February 23, 2009

Here’s what we are reading today.

1984 One Better

by Family Research Council

February 21, 2009

Reading George Orwell’s masterpiece all over again provides fresh insights into the natural rebellion of the human will, frail as it is, against totalitarianism of every stripe. It also reminds one how many different stripes the totalitarian tiger wears. The United States at the present day is a long way from a totalitarian reality, but Orwell’s novel is a healthy reminder that one thing every impulse to total power has in common is a consummate skill at evoking the existence of a permanent enemy or crisis. The benefit of all-encompassing power is security purchased at the price of liberty.

In the polarized lens of the Left, this permanent enemy as evoked by conservatives was the war on terror. For the new cultural Left now in power, the “enemy” is capital and the imminent crisis or “catastrophe” is economic disaster. There are many ways to get to overweening government control. In one scene late in 1984 between Orwell’s hero, Winston, and his nemesis in “the Party,” O’Brien (English novelists always liked Irish-surnamed villains), this exchange occurs:

Winston: “But how can you [the Party] control matter? You don’t even control the climate or the law of gravity? And there are disease, pain, death … ”

O’Brien silenced him with a movement of the hand. “We control matter because we control the mind.”

Today’s champions of unlimited government, oddly enough, do claim they can control the climate and they have plenty of access to young minds, which begs the question, if government could control the climate, would one wish it to?

School Choice is Key to Parental Involvement in Education, not Punishment

by Peter Sprigg

February 21, 2009

A Kentucky state legislator, Rep. Adam Koenig, has introduced a bill that would impose fines on parents who don’t attend parent-teacher conferences. [Source]

Rep. Koenig is certainly right that parental involvement in their children’s education is important, but this hardly seems the right way of encouraging it.

It might be better to use a carrot, rather than a stick. Instead of imposing on parents we should be empowering them, by expanding school choice. That could include magnet schools, charter schools, vouchers, tax breaks for private schools, and support for homeschooling. Giving parents real choices about their children’s education would be more effective that just forcing them to show up for a meeting.

A law like this (if adopted) would seem to be a case of the government punishing people simply for not being very good parents. We should be wary of any policy that involves the government interfering with the autonomy of the family in that way-by deciding what it thinks a “good” parent is, and punishing people who don’t live up to the government’s standard.

Obviously, government has to intervene when parents abuse their children, by beating them, for instance, or neglect them by failing to feed and clothe them. But missing a parent-teacher conference hardly seems to rise to that level. Koenig reportedly compared the fines to those imposed on parents who fail to insure that their children attend school. But we shouldn’t be treating parents like children by making the parents go to school.

On a practical level, it should be noted that face-to-face parent-teacher conferences are not the only means of communication available between parents and the school. They can use the phone, email, or even handwritten notes to and from the teacher. For families with two working parents or with younger children at home, or for single parents, it may be very difficult to find time to go in for a parent-teacher conference, yet they may still be very involved in their children’s education. We simply shouldn’t impose a one-size-fits-all solution.

2.20.09

by Robert Morrison

February 20, 2009

We’ve all seen the bumper stickers. They are a somber black with white numbering: 1.20.09. They appeared shortly after George W. Bush was re-elected in 2004. In one sense, they were reassuring. Those who hated Bush-and they were intense-were indicating their willingness to wait for the end of his constitutionally prescribed term. The real crazies wanted to impeach him. Some members of the loony Left wanted something even worse.

It’s now just one month after the day longed for by millions. I’ve been struggling to recall anything said in that Inaugural Address. I remember the day-cold and clear. I recall the wonderful crowds-millions of people, cheerful and hopeful. At least 1.8 million folks came to the National Mall and not one person was arrested. God bless them.

Still, it is strange, isn’t it, that we cannot recall any ringing phrase, any soaring statement from that long-awaited day of days?

Memory failed, so I checked the text online. Yes, it was there, that odd formulation:

We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture…” This was perhaps the first time in American history that Muslims preceded Jews in such a ceremonial listing.

Why is this significant? Perhaps it is because this nation was founded by Protestants deeply imbued with the Hebrew Scriptures. For the Pilgrims and Puritans, for the Anglicans and Quakers, many of whom were literate in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, the Jews were no strangers. Jews came to colonial America early. They were admitted to Dutch New Amsterdam in 1655, long before America became an independent nation.

Over a century ago, President Theodore Roosevelt congratulated the Jewish community on 250 years in America. He made an exception to his rule against such letters, he said, because of the extraordinary suffering of the Jewish people in Russia, Eastern Europe, and in other parts of the world.

T.R. loved American history. Like President Obama, he studied at Harvard and at Columbia. But he seems to have drunk more deeply from the streams of America’s storied past. President Roosevelt wrote to the Jewish organizing committee:

The celebration of the two hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the settlement of the Jews in the United States properly emphasizes a series of historical facts of more than merely national significance. Even in our colonial period, the Jews participated in the upbuilding of this country, acquired citizenship, and took an active part in the development of foreign and domestic commerce. During the Revolutionary period, they aided the cause of liberty … During the Civil War, thousands [of Jews] served in the armies and mingled their blood with the soil for which they fought.

Why did President Obama give priority of place to the Muslims over the Jews? To be sure, America does extend the rights of full citizenship to all. America does recognize the right of all to freedom of worship. But when in 1790 President Washington became the first leader in history to recognize the Jews as equal fellow citizens, he also spoke of the need for all to obey the laws of this great new republic. His Letter to the Hebrew Congregation at Newport pledged the United States to “give to bigotry no sanction, to persecution no assistance.” One hopes all Americans-including Muslims — will read this vital letter.

Was President Obama’s odd formulation just a figure of speech? Or does it portend something else? Israel has just elected Benjamin Netanyahu as Prime Minister. He has vowed never to allow Iran to possess nuclear weapons. President Obama has vowed to talk directly to the Iranians without preconditions. Ahmadinejad has responded to the President’s extended hand by launching a satellite, proving to the world that if Iran does develop a nuclear weapon, his Islamic Revolutionary regime has the means to deliver it-to Jerusalem, or to Washington, D.C.

The Psalmist tells us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. America was the first nation in the world to recognize the State of Israel. President Harry Truman, a strong Democrat, overrode the objections of his Secretary of State, the great George C. Marshall, in doing this. Truman regarded Marshall as the greatest man in America. Yet he was willing to risk Marshall’s resignation rather than to abandon Israel to five invading Muslim armies.

Does President Obama know this history? Does he appreciate the meaning of Washington’s letter? Or will his promised message of change mean a change in America’s relationship with the Jews at home and abroad? These are heavy tidings to ponder just one month into the new era.

Steering the Elephant

by Robert Morrison

February 20, 2009

Some governors might reject funds,” blared the headline in USAToday. The story detailed the fact that about $144 billion of the huge $787 billion “stimulus” package President Obama signed this week will go to the states.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) was not one of those governors, most of them Republicans, who were leery of the gift horse Washington was promising their states.

Still, Gov. Patrick said the $9 billion slated for the Bay State would “not be a panacea.”

Not a panacea, but maybe a Pandora’s Box. South Carolina’s Gov. Mark Sanford is head of the Republican Governors Association. He warns about the impact of programs funded by this sudden windfall from Washington. “You get this huge slug of money. It funds programs for a couple of years, and then what? You get it started, you get a constituency established, and then we’re supposed to yank the rug out from under people when the federal money runs out?” Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) echoed Sanford’s concerns: “It’s not fair to Alaskans,” she said, “to create programs that won’t be sustainable.”

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) pointed to the “mile long strings” attached to the federal funds. Those strings may prove to be chains in the long run. Some of the funds will go for bridges, roads, tunnels, and other important and lasting parts of the infra-structure. Too much of it will for wasteful projects. The “stimulus” has been likened by columnist George Will to “drowning by fire hose.”

One part of the federal funding jumps out at pro-lifers: Medicaid funding. In seventeen of our states, tragically, taxpayers are forced to pay for abortions. Will this new wave of federal funding result in more money for abortion in the states? How terrible it would be if this attempt to “jump start” economic recovery were to help kill America’s future generations.

Even as we fight to preserve the Hyde Amendment that bans federal funding for abortion, the fact remains that monies are fungible. Americans recognize that if some Wall Street fat cats are being bailed out by taxpayers, it won’t do to say that their executive retreats to some posh watering holes were paid for by corporate funds, not taxpayer dollars. Americans understand how the executives simply take the money from one overstuffed pocket and jam it into the other. The same is true for state-mandated abortion funding. If the feds don’t fund abortions directly, they free up money in state budgets for this misuse of funds.

The other danger of these strings attached is that the states will lose their proper relationship to the federal government. James Madison and the other Framers gave us a system of checks and balances. Powers were separated at the federal level-legislative, executive, and judicial-but they were also divided between federal and state governments. This recovery package threatens seriously to uncheck those checks and unbalance those balances.

I vividly recall when I reported for duty at the U.S. Department of Education under the Reagan administration. I was assigned to a career civil servant for orientation. Dr. Ed was a highly intelligent, highly motivated, and thoroughly liberal bureaucrat. Dr. Ed took me to each of ten offices at USED. At each, he underscored his points by telling me that he and his fellow “educrats” could not possibly be responsible for all the nonsense in the nation’s classrooms that conservatives complained about. “We only provide seven percent of all education funding,” Dr. Ed told me over and over, “just seven percent!”

I followed Dr. Ed like a lamb for that first week. But when orientation was over, I told him a lesson my dad had taught me. “Pop” was in the Merchant Marine and had sailed off to India. There, he saw how the mahouts train their elephants. The mahout is a little fellow who weighs just seven percent of what the elephant weights, but he has a stick with which he prods the elephant behind the ears. With that stick, the elephant soon learns to go where the little mahout sends him.

That’s the way it is with federal funding. Except that now, our federal mahout has a much bigger stick with which to prod our fifty state elephants.

Blogosphere Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

February 20, 2009

Here’s some of the buzz from the blogosphere today.

  • Do you own a human embryo?,” Rebecca Taylor, Mary Meets Dolly The New Mexico State Senate just passed a stem cell research bill that would allow scientists to destroy embryos left over from IVF Treatments, in addition to considering an embryo property.
  • The Mandate Trap,” Philip Klein, AmSpecBlog With the talk of health care reform being addressed shortly in Congress, this article is worth reading, especially since it discusses the ramifications of the possibilities of government ran health care.
  • If It Moves, Tax It,” Doug Mataconis, Below The Beltway With the recent passage of the Stimulus bill, you might wonder how much will be left in your pockets. Now, it seems that the Secretary of Transportation is considering adding a tax based on how much you drive. I guess the title of this post is true, “If It Moves, Tax It.”
  • The Omnibust is coming! The Omnibust is coming!,” Tom McClusky, Kitchen Table Blog The Omnibus Bill is due to arrive next week in Congress, so beware of the pork and federal funding of research involving human embryos.

Daily Buzz

by Krystle Gabele

February 20, 2009

Here’s what we are reading today.

Change Watch Backgrounder: Kathleen Sebelius

by Family Research Council

February 19, 2009

POSITION: HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY

NOMINEE: Kathleen Sebelius

Born: Cincinnati, Ohio, May 15, 1948

Family: Husband, K. Gary Sebelius, and two sons.

Occupation: 44th Governor of Kansas

Education: B.A. Trinity Washington University, Master of Public Administration degree from the University of Kansas.

Work history: Jan 2003-present, Governor of Kansas (term-limited, term ends Jan 2011)

1994-2002, Kansas Insurance Commissioner

1987-1994, Member of the Kansas House of Representatives

1977-1987, Director of the Kansas Trial Lawyers Association

1975-1977, Aide with the Kansas Department of Corrections

ON HEALTH CARE

We are stronger as a nation when our people have access to the highest-quality, most-affordable health care.”

[Source]

We know that caring for our children, so they have a healthy and better start in life, is what grownups do. A large majority of the Congress are ready, right now, to provide health care to 10 million American children, as a first step in overhauling our health care system.”

Retrieved on February 10, 2009 from: [Source]

ON ABORTION

Sebelius has been endorsed by Planned Parenthood and they have conducted fundraising activity on her behalf.

Reviewing the record of Gov. Sebelius when she served in the Kansas House of Representatives, it is difficult to find a single instance, either in a procedural or substantive vote, where she acted in a manner that would afford unborn children the maximum protection. In the 1980s and 1990s then- Representative Sebelius voted to weaken or eliminate even such modest measures as parental notification, waiting periods and informed consent.
As governor, she twice has vetoed bills attempting to protect the health and safety of women by more tightly regulating abortion clinics.”

[Source]

I think for me and a lot of other people there are certain inalienable rights established for a person, but those are not applied in utero.”

[Source]

In April 2007, Sebelius hosted a private reception for infamous abortion doctor George Tiller and his staff at the governor’s mansion.

[Source]

Vetoed the Comprehensive Abortion Reform Act as unconstitutional because it would allow court orders to be written to help prevent second and third term abortions.

[Source]

ON SAME-SEX MARRIAGE

Sebelius did not support an amendment to the Kansas Constitution that made same-sex marriage in the state unconstitutional saying, “‘I don’t think we need a constitutional amendment, and particularly a constitutional amendment that goes far beyond the bounds of that law.”

[Source]

MISCELLANEOUS

Conflict with her Faith

The Governor’s constant support of abortion prompted the unusual step of Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas to publicly inform Governor Kathleen Sebelius that she should refrain from taking Communion until she publicly repudiates her support for abortion rights.  The Archbishop wrote:

The spiritually lethal message, communicated by our governor, as well as many other high-profile Catholics in public life, has been in effect: The church’s teaching on abortion is optional! . . I hope that my request of the governor, not to present herself for Holy Communion, will provoke her to reconsider the serious spiritual and moral consequences of her past and present actions.’”

[Source]

Lifetime Grade of “D” as Governor

Every year the CATO Institute rates the nation’s governors on tax and spending issues in their states.  Every year she has been eligible Governor Sebulius has received a “D” grade: 

Kathleen Sebelius has supported tax increases during her tenure, but she has also supported a number of pro-growth tax cuts. In 2004, she proposed a temporary increase in the sales tax rate that has turned out to be permanent, and more recently she has supported cigarette tax increases. However, Sebelius has also supported an impressive list of business tax cuts, including reductions in corporate income taxes, unemployment compensation taxes, and business property taxes.  She has also supported repeal of the estate tax and repeal of the corporate franchise tax, which is being phased out by 2011. With these cuts, the governor has made Kansas more attractive for business investment. It is on spending where Sebelius dragged down her grade by presiding over per capita budget increases averaging about 7 percent annually since 2003.” CATO Fiscal Policy Report Card on America’s Governors: 2008. [Source]

No Deal on This New Deal

by Tony Perkins

February 19, 2009

In a cedar chest at my home is a woolen thermal shirt. This is not just any thermal shirt; it is a part of history and a reminder. The shirt was a government issue, given to my grandfather. As a young man during the Great Depression, he worked with the Civilian Conservation Corps planting trees, building parks, and working on other public conservation projects. My grandfather earned a dollar a day.

The debate still continues among economists as to whether or not those vast public works projects that President Roosevelt launched through the CCC and the Works Progress Administration (WPA) along with other government spending helped end the nation’s worst economic crisis.

Regardless, FDR’s New Deal and the opportunities that it offered were significant to the many struggling families who were unemployed during a time when unemployment stood at almost 25%. Between 1935-1943 over 8 million Americans were on the payroll of the WPA alone.

FDR’s actions were controversial as he took the counterintuitive approach  promoted by English economist John Maynard Keynes to increase government spending during hard economic times. They called it “priming the pump.” FDR’s efforts led to a radical and lasting expansion of the power and reach of the federal government.

Parallels have been drawn between the New Deal and the present government response to the financial crisis - but there are vast differences. The stimulus measure signed by President Obama this week, which according to estimates by the Congressional Budget Office will cost about $1.3 trillion, will, according to the President, preserve or create 3-4 million jobs. Keep in mind that adjusted for inflation this stimulus measure will probably cost 3 times what the New Deal cost.

The overall cost of government spending designed to revive the economy will go even higher as the President announced a mortgage bailout this week that could cost up to another $250 billion dollars.

There is a vast difference between spending government money to create short-lived public works jobs and expanding the size and scope of federal agencies and directly bailing out bad mortgages. It may sound simplistic, but a government inspired hand up is much different than a government handout, and the implications will be lasting and far reaching, not only on the size of government but also on the American ethic.

The effect of FDR’s economic philosophy was so pronounced that 30 years later in 1971, President Richard Nixon said “We’re all Keynesians now.” The impact of this present economic approach is even more powerful — so much so that before it has even been implemented, a recent cover story of Newsweek declared: “We are all Socialists Now.”

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