Month Archives: January 2010

Dont Be Afraid to See What You See

by Robert Morrison

January 12, 2010

This week marks the 21st anniversary of President Reagans Farewell Address to the Nation. Its especially appropriate to recall it today, for the wisdom he shared, for the good feeling he evoked. There are many parts to the address I could recommend. I especially liked the part where he warned about a loss of national memory. He wanted Americans to remember their history. If we forget what we did, we will forget who we are.

One part of that January 11, 1989 address jumps out at usor should. That decade began with great tension between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Reagan was heavily criticized. Liberals feared he would get us into a war. They feared World War III. They didnt want him to take tough action against the Soviets and their aggression. They nearly wilted when he called the Soviet Union an evil empire. Yet, at the end of the decade, the Cold War was over. The tensions had eased. And everyone breathed a great sigh of relief. President Reagan had a warning here too:

We must keep up our guard, but we must also continue to work together to lessen and eliminate tension and mistrust. My view is that President Gorbachev is different from previous Soviet leaders. I think he knows some of the things wrong with his society and is trying to fix them. We wish him well. And we’ll continue to work to make sure that the Soviet Union that eventually emerges from this process is a less threatening one.

What it all boils down to is this. I want the new closeness to continue. And it will, as long as we make it clear that we will continue to act in a certain way as long as they continue to act in a helpful manner. If and when they don’t, at first pull your punches. If they persist, pull the plug. It’s still trust but verify. It’s still play, but cut the cards. It’s still watch closely. And don’t be afraid to see what you see.

Dont be afraid to see what you see. How many times have we recently heard people from the current administration referring to Abdulmutallab as the suspect, or the accused. They say he allegedly tried to bomb the incoming Northwest Flight 253 on its final approach to Detroit.

Allegedly? Do we think someone else put explosives in his BVDs? Can you imagine this announcement in an airport waiting area? Please watch your carry-on luggage closely and if anyone tries to give you anything to take on boardor puts something in your underwearmake sure to report it to security.

This administration is afraid to see what it sees. President Obamabelatedly in the view of many of usacknowledged last week that we are at war with Al Qaeda. If thats the case, then why is Abdulmutallab being given a government-paid lawyer and being allowed to clam up? Before that, he was singing like a canary.

Ronald Reagans combination of strong defense and clear-eyed diplomacy brought us all safely through the dangers of the 1980s. The left wing supporters here and in Europe were frozen in terror. Thats why they wanted a Nuclear Freeze. But Reagans firm hand on the tiller brought the ship of state safely into port. Let us all pray that our beloved nation will not have to re-learn those lessons. If were really at war, lets not be afraid to see what we see.

Some Observations about Sarah Palin’s New Career

by Chris Gacek

January 12, 2010

The news came yesterday that Sarah Palin has agreed to become a commentator on the Fox News Channel. I agree with Andrew Breitbart (Big Hollywood) that Sarah Palin could become a cultural force via TV on a par with Oprah Winfrey. Palin just connects with large numbers of people in a way that very few people do.

Palin could become the sower of the seeds of a conservative counter-cultural revolution if she proceeds wisely. That said, there are dangers for Palin. Jennifer Harpers column for todays Inside the Beltway (Washington Times, 1/12/2010) quoted John Tantillo, a New York marketer who invented the title The OReilly Factor for Fox News. Tantillo made the critical observation yesterday that the Fox-Palin partnership is brilliant while noting, ….the most important thing is for the network to let Sarah be Sarah. She is a natural brand that people recognize and like instantly. They should just let her be herself.

He continued, It would be very unwise if Sarah Palin went too New York or too Hollywood or too Washington in her new role. Shes got to avoid that. The reason people like her is that they can relate to her. She doesnt need a lot of flashy stuff. And, if she starts to get too fancy her audience is going to think shes become one of them. You know. The media.

Tantillo is exactly correct. The question is where can Palin eventually produce high-quality programming in which she will not be undermined, either deliberately or unintentionally, by her producers and executives. I can recall the disastrous run that talk-show host Dr. Laura had when she went to TV. Working in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago or Washington would be disastrous for Palin.

After thinking about this for a while, I have concluded that Palin has to base her operations in Nashville. Nashville contains a community of the highest quality musicians, producers, and technicians. Consequently, producing high-quality television there would be no problem.

More important than the technical capabilities available in Nashville is the nature of the artistic community that lives there. I have been told that something like 10% of Nashvilles music industry is focused on Christian contemporary and traditional gospel recording. That is where I think Palin could find a large number of sympathetic executives, producers, and technicians who could produce her shows while remaining loyal to her and her evangelical, conservative values and vision. I dont think a similar community exists in either Hollywood or New York.

In an age of jet travel, theres no reason Palin couldnt still spend much of her time in Alaska, but her natural base nationally is in the South. And, if that isnt enough Tennessee doesnt have an income tax.

Funerals, Domestic Partners, and the Meaning of Marriage

by Peter Sprigg

January 11, 2010

On January 5, both houses of the Rhode Island legislature overrode (by large margins) Gov. Donald Carcieris veto of a bill that would have given “domestic partners” the authority to make funeral arrangements for one another. Providence Journal columnist Bob Kerr was one who took the governor to task (Carcieris heartless, but not surprising piece of work, November 13, 2009).

Toward the end of this article, Kerr says “if you could let me know exactly what traditional marriage is I’d appreciate it.” Perhaps as good a definition as any is that offered by scholar David Blankenhorn in his 2007 book, The Future of Marriage. He writes:

In all or nearly all human societies, marriage is socially approved sexual intercourse between a woman and a man, conceived both as a personal relationship and as an institution, primarily such that any children resulting from that union are—and are understood by the society to be—emotionally, morally, practically, and legally affiliated with both of the parents… . It also reflects one idea that does not change: For every child, a mother and a father.”

Kerr says, “I always thought it [marriage] was a lasting commitment between two people who love each other.” This sentence describes marriage but it does not define it. To say this about marriage, and conclude that same-sex relationships can be marriages too, is somewhat like saying, “An automobile is a wheeled vehicle of transportation—and therefore a bicycle is an automobile, too.”

In the scope of human history, “love” is a fairly recent addition to most people’s concept of marriage. Many cultures have practiced arranged marriages in which “love” is not a prerequisite, yet no anthropologists would suggest that these are not “marriages.” Even “commitment,” while desirable in marriage, is not a requirement for it. Some people who divorce lack commitment, but it does not mean that their marriage never existed.

No, the one essential, irreducible characteristic necessary for marriage is the presence of both a man and a woman. Some cultures have allowed polygamous marriages with more than one man or woman, but never less than one of each.

The reason why the marriage of a man and a woman is privileged over all other human relationships, and treated as a social institution rather than as a purely private liaison, is because it is the only relationship capable of naturally reproducing the human race. This is an essential social function, without which society cannot survive. The male-female union is the one absolutely necessary relationship.

Of course, not every opposite-sex couple has children, or intends to. But it is a mistake to base the definition of marriage on the reasons why individual couples choose to marry. The real issue is why society treats marriage as a public institutionand the answer is because of its role in the procreation and rearing of the next generation.

This legislation was largely prompted by a man named Mark Goldberg and his frustrations following the death of his partner Ron Hanby. These circumstances were sadand almost unique. Few people die without having any living family members (family being defined as people related by blood, marriage, or adoption) to make decisions regarding their remains. It is a cliche in the legal profession that hard cases make bad law. This was a hard caseand made, unfortunately, for a bad piece of legislation. To deal with a situation like Mark Goldbergs by creating an entirely new, quasi-marital, legally recognized domestic relationship (domestic partners) under state law is like swatting a bee with a hammer.

Gov. Carcieri is absolutely right in saying such laws lead to an incremental erosion of marriage. We have seen exactly that process unfold in the states that have moved (either judicially or legislatively) toward redefining marriage in recent years.

Ironically, the explanation for why Bill S 0195 is unnecessary is found in the text of the bill itself. It delegates decision-making authority regarding funeral arrangements to a domestic partner only [t]o the extent that there is no funeral services contract in effect at the time of death for the benefit of the deceased person. In other words, people in same-sex relationships already have the ability to delegate to their partner decision-making regarding their funeral arrangementssimply by preparing a funeral services contract. Such a contract completely does away with any need for a blood relative to make decisions, and indeed overrides any choices that a relative might attempt to make.

If gay rights activists really want to help people like Ron Hanby and Mark Goldberg, they should work at educating people how to complete a funeral services contractnot exploit a tragic situation to create a Trojan horse for the redefinition of marriage.

Noonan: People Who Don’t Care About Us

by Chris Gacek

January 7, 2010

It seems so long ago now, but Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal wrote a terrific commentary piece before Christmas entitled The Adam Lambert Problem. In it Noonan discusses the alienation and sense of pessimism that Americans now have about the primary institutions of this nation.

She opines that the national disquiet isnt only about money, jobs, health insurance and material security. Noonan writes, Americans are worried about the core and character of the American nation, and about our culture.

For those of you lucky enough to not know much about Adam Lambert go to Wikipedia or read Noonans description:

This was behind the resentment at the Adam Lambert incident on ABC in November. The compromise was breached. It was a broadcast network, it was prime time, it was the American Music Awards featuring singers your 11-year-old wants to see, and your 8-year-old. And Mr. Lambert came on andagain, in front of your children, in the living room, in the middle of your peaceful eveninguncorked an act in which he, in the words of various news reports the next day, performed faux oral sex featuring S&M play, bondage gear, same-sex makeouts and walking a man and woman around the stage on a leash.

People were offended, and they complained. Mr. Lambert seemed surprised and puzzled. With an idiots logic that was nonetheless logic, he suggested he was the focus of bigotry: They let women act perverse on TV all the time, so why cant a gay man do it? ….

Enough said about the former American Idol finalist, but the background sets up Noonans theme of alienation:

It is one thing to grouse that dreadful people who dont care about us control our economy, but another, and in a way more personal, thing to say that people who dont care about us control our culture. In 2009 this was perhaps most vividly expressed in the Adam Lambert Problem.

Here Noonan seems entirely correct. While there used to be an unwritten pact by the artistic elites and the entertainment-industrial complex to refrain from assaulting American families in their homes, that norm is rapidly breaking down. And the sorts of folks who run Comcast-GE-Universal-Disney-CBS-whatever dont care about staying in their boxes. Now they are going to make you watch smut (and pay for it) on your TV and in your house, on your new TV-iphone-GPS-camcorder, and on whatever else they can force on you. Lets be honest: unless something changes it is only a matter of time before basic cable has soft porn and then real porn on it. The FX channel is only a stones throw away now.

And, yet the libertarian conservative political class in Washington doesnt get what Noonan does that there is political gold in the hills for the political leaders who understand that being free entails not being compelled to buy things that offend us morally. Why is that? Too many political contributions from the cable industry probably.

But note this: NONE of the libertarians who founded this country would have disagreed with the proposition that freedom rests on the ability to reject morally objectionable ideas and art. Anything less is tyranny. A mans house is his castle, Mr. Otis observed.

Perhaps, it will take a woman, a mother, to ride this political horse to victory someone like Sarah Palin or Michelle Bachmann. When shes ready, she should call Peggy Noonan to write the speech. There is a nation waiting to hear it.

Anti-Christianity: Exhibit A

by Robert Morrison

January 6, 2010

For those of us who have to read the Washington Post, it can often be a trial. We are used to having our political, economic, social, and foreign policy principles trashed on a daily basis. We know that the Post considers us poor, uneducated, and easy to command. Our hometown paper regards us Christians as, at best, interlopers here. One of the prime examples I cite was the cartoon done by the late Herblock. He depicted anti-abortion demonstrators as decidedly declasse. The woman bearing a placard looked mean-spirited and frowsy. But at least she was a woman. The man in the cartoon wore a ragged black frock coat, a broad-brimmed hat, and nasty little granny glasses perched on his long and disapproving nose. Here was the best part: in the pocket of down-at-the-heels preacher was a snake. Oh my. How very tolerant the tolerance troopers are.

For sheer leer and sneer, however, youd be hard-pressed to top the Posts TV critic, Tom Shales. Shales has made a career of looking down his nose at just about everything that we cherish. They are the beliefs of tens of millions of us from outside-the-Beltway (and tens of thousands inside-the-Beltway, too) Shales came down like the big ball in Times Square this new year on Brit Hume.

The former FOX News anchor, now a senior commentator, had the temerity to recommend to Tiger Woods that he get right with Jesus. Oh, the humanity! Oh, the horror! Shales thought Hume was dissing all the Buddhists in the world by stating Christianity offered forgiveness and redemption that exceeded that of other faiths. And he said itgaspon camera.

Okay, Mr. Shales. Lets talk about Christian forgiveness. Id like to take you to the Lincoln Memorial. There, the words of the majestic Second Inaugural are inscribed on the wall. President Lincoln offered this thought about the slavery issue that had convulsed the country through four long years of civil war: It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged.

Where do you think that judge not phrase came from? Was it a saying of Buddha? Or Mohammed? Or might it possibly have been found in Matthew, Chapter 7, verse 1, and offered by You Know Who?

Frederick Douglass was the first black man ever invited to an inaugural reception at the White House. Unlike today, where the uninvited get in, guards tried to keep President Lincolns guest out. When the President saw Douglass after he had climbed through the window, he hailed him. Theres my friend Douglass. He motioned for the champion of black Emancipation to come to the head of the line. He asked for Douglass opinion of the Address. Mr. Lincoln, it was a sacred effort.

What? Sacred efforts undertaken on the Capitol steps? Wasnt Lincoln attempting to shove religion down Americans throats? If Tom Shales had been there to report on that scene, would he have carped: He doesnt really have the authority, does he, unless one believes that every Christian by mandate must proselytize? Was Lincoln trying toshudderproselytize?

How else could Ulysses S. Grant treat Robert E. Lee and his ragged rebel hosts with such tenderness, such dignity, at Appomattox? What else could explain Lincolns policy of letting `em up easy than an understanding of forgiveness and redemptionas taught in the Christian Scriptures?

I am not saying Lincoln and Grant were evangelists. Or born-again Christians. But at their best they lived and acted in a world formed by biblical ideals. They wereas millions of Americans then and nowshaped by scriptural truths.

If Brit Hume had gone to Thailand and there told a TV audience that Buddhism was inadequate, there might be room for protest. If he had confronted the Dalai Lama and urged him to give it all up, there might be room for Shales haughty harrumphs. But Brit was reaching out in a most tender-hearted way to a man whom he admired greatlywhom we all admired greatly. Brit was offering Tiger Woods balm in Gilead. You can enter the Kingdom of Heaven with thatand even pass through airport security.

Wash Post Editors Smear Candidate for His Conservatism

by Cathy Ruse

January 6, 2010

On Monday the Post endorsed the Democratic candidate for the Virginia Senate seat vacated by Attorney General-elect Ken Cuccinelli. No news there. But in the process the editors took the opportunity unfairly to smear the other candidate, Steve Hunt, a Republican who previously served on the Fairfax County School Board. The vote is January 12th.

While claiming it is his views on transportation funding that make Hunt the wrong man for the job, whats really got their goat —- judging from the amount of ink they spill —- is Hunts principled and heart-felt social conservatism. They cite a letter he wrote to high school principals in 2005 suggesting that, on the issue of homosexuality, students be given information not only from those promoting the homosexual lifestyle as natural and positive but from other perspectives, such as from those in the ex-gay community. Here is an excerpt from Hunts 2005 letter:

My challenge to you is to ensure that the students are presented with all of the facts and the spectrum of perspectives. I know that many schools in Fairfax County have brought in guest speakers to talk about homosexual and transgender issues. It is my understanding that these have been speakers that have spoken in favor of the homosexual life style. The remaining viewpoints have been missing from the discussion. Allowing students to make decisions based after hearing only one side of an issue is more indoctrination than discourse.

There is a local group called Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays & Gays (PFOX at www.pfox.org). Regina Griggs is the PFOX Executive Director and can be reached at Pfoxmom@pfox.org or 703-360-2225. She has offered to speak or provide speakers from the Ex-Gay perspective. As you might imagine, her perspective is one of great love and concern since she has people very close to her that are living in the homosexual lifestyle. (Click here to read letter in full.)

Unquestioningly respectful, the letter informed the principals about a resource of which they might otherwise not have been aware. But the School Board issued a statement critical of Mr. Hunt, calling his letter an unauthorized, unilateral recommendation of changes to the school systems instructional materials and programs. (Click here for School Boards statement) Hunt explained that he was not trying to change curriculum and apologized to all concerned. (Click here for Hunts response.)

The Post editors also make fun of Hunt for remarks he made at a meeting of the School Board which they characterize as a soliloquy about his regrets in losing his virginity before marriage and about which they quip: As the kids might say: Too much information. Their use of a childish idiom is apt, for theyre acting like children: Steve Hunts comments were part of his remarks on abstinence education — he was, as the kids might say, just keeping in real. Their taking him out of context and trying to make him look like an oddball is nothing more than a childish prank.

Persecution for the Brit Hume Witness

by Peter Sprigg

January 6, 2010

The liberal blogosphere has erupted in outrage over comments by Fox News analyst Brit Hume on Fox News Sunday (which he reiterated to Bill OReilly on Monday) suggesting that Tiger Woods life might improve if he were tobrace yourself!become a Christian. Specifically, when asked for 2010 predictions, Hume said:

Tiger Woods will recover as a golfer. Whether he can recover as a person I think is a very open question, and it’s a tragic situation for him. I think he’s lost his family, it’s not clear to me if he’ll be able to have a relationship with his children, but the Tiger Woods that emerges once the news value dies out of this scandal — the extent to which he can recover — seems to me to depend on his faith. He’s said to be a Buddhist; I don’t think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. So my message to Tiger would be, ‘Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.’”

That anyone should be surprisedlet alone shockedwhen a Christian recommends Christianity is itself perhaps an illustration of the depths to which our society, the media (and perhaps American Christianity) have fallen. But shocked they are. Darts of derision should be aimed at Hume, declares the Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales. First off, apologize. You gotta.

Apparently, Humes apologetics require an apology not just because he violated the well-known constitutional principle of the separation of church and television (?), but because he expressed his heretical disbelief in the scientific theory that all religions are equally valuable and effective.

Several things should be pointed out here. First of all, the depth of Woods Buddhism is questionable. When asked directly in a videotaped interview with Reuters in 2008,

Are you a practicing Buddhist? Woods replied, Umm . . . I practice meditation. Thats something that I dosomething my mom taught me over the years. Referring to his Buddhist mother, he added that we have a thing we do each and every year, we always go to temple together. So to call Tiger Woods a Buddhist is like saying that a person who prays and goes to church once a year is a Christian. I think most practicing Christians (and probably most practicing Buddhists) would have a higher standard.

However, even if we assume that Mr. Woods identifies enough with Buddhism to take offense at Humes commentshould he? Has Brit Hume slandered Buddhists by mischaracterizing their theology? Not really. Barbara OBrien, author of Barbaras Buddhism Blog, admits, Mr. Hume is right, in a sense, that Buddhism doesnt offer redemption and forgiveness in the same way Christianity does. Buddhism has no concept of sin; therefore, redemption and forgiveness in the Christian sense are meaningless in Buddhism.

Buddhism is a religion of works, in contrast to Christianity, which is a religion of faith and of grace. Woods himself showed his understanding of this in the same Reuters interview, saying:

In the Buddhist religion, you have to work for it yourself, internally, in order to achieve anything in lifeand, in Buddhism, set up the next life. But its all about what you do and the internal work. So, thats one thing [my mothers] always preached is you have to work for everything in your life, and you get out of it what you put into it.

The problem is, if Tiger Woods now gets out of this life what hes put into his moral life, hes in a heap of trouble. Buddhism is not tolerant of sexual libertinismeven Barbara the Buddhist Blogger agrees that its fairly plain that Mr. Woodss conduct has been falling short of the Third Precept. If Buddhism is true, not only is there no redemption for him in this life, but because of reincarnation, Woods will be paying a price in the next life as well. According to Eerdmanns’ Handbook to the Worlds Religions, in Buddhism, [G]ood works automatically bring about a good rebirth, bad works a bad one.

Brit Hume was simply, and accurately, pointing out the difference between this Buddhist view and the Christian one. Another book on comparative religions notes that in Christianity, [W]hen the commandments are broken and sin is committed, the believer has recourse by repenting and receiving absolution by the Christ who atoned for sin (1 John 1:9). No such recourse is available to the Buddhist.

So it would appear that Brit Hume was accurate in his description of both Buddhist and Christian theology. But did he still do something wrong in suggesting that Woods should accept Christ? The Posts Shales thinks so, asking indignantly, [I]s it really his job to run around trying to drum up new business? He doesnt have the authority, does he, unless one believes that every Christian by mandate must proselytize?

The word proselytize is usually used pejoratively and sometimes with an implication of coercion. But the dictionary definition is simply, to induce someone to convert to ones faith. By that definitionyes, Mr. Shales, it is his job and he does have the authority. According to the Bible, both (the job and the authority) were given by Jesus to his followers shortly before he ascended into heaven. Christians call it The Great Commission:

Go therefore and make disciples of [i.e., proselytize] all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you … (Matthew 28:19-20a, NASB)

Brit Hume has every right to share his faith on television, and he should be commended for doing so, not condemned for it. Tiger Woods, of course, has an equal right to tell Brit Hume to go jump in a lake. Everyone else should lay off.

But Woods would do better to listen to Humes counsel, and heed it.

Mr. President, Leadership is Not an Option

by Rob Schwarzwalder

January 5, 2010

Franklin Roosevelt is not a hero of mine. Arguably the father of today’s big government and a president who never let the Constitution get in the way of his political agenda, FDR summoned a weird confection of Leftists, liberals and disaffected, vulnerable citizens to obtain election to the presidency no less than four times.

His legacy has led to serious problems in the courts, the economy and the way Americans understand their federal government. Yet there is still much to admire about the Democratic Roosevelt - the way he heartened Americans with his optimism, the masterful manner in which he spoke to the hopes and fears of ordinary people, and even his unabashed invocation of the God of the Bible in times of national need.

FDR was also nothing if not decisive. He did not dawdle in times of crisis. For better or ill, he acted. People knew that they had a leader in the White House.

Knowing he was nearing death, he jettisoned starry-eyed Vice President Henry Wallace for sharp, crisp and purposeful Harry Truman. When we entered World War II, he shelved the New Deal and put his full energies into winning the conflict, even appointing Republicans as secretaries of War and Navy. And when eight German spies were found in the U.S., they were not tried in civil court. They were taken before a military tribunal appointed by FDR himself; six were hung, one imprisoned for life, and the eighth sentenced to 30 years. The time between when the spies landed and the hangings: less than two months.

Mr. Roosevelt’s most recent successor could learn a thing or two from him. Barack Obama took three months to decide on adding to America’s troop level in Afghanistan. It took him three days to reassure a shaken public that his national security team would work to better safeguard the country from terrorist attacks.

On health care, the President seems content with getting something —- anything —- as long as it is slapped with rubric of reform and contains federal funding for abortion. He has not led in crafting the legislation. He has led only in demanding a finished product, and then too often, and when legislative deadlines have been missed, he has done nothing about it.

There have been moments when Mr. Obama seems to understand he is not a global citizen or a national academic-in-chief. When, early last year, he ordered American sharpshooters to kill the pirates who had seized U.S. sailors, he rightly won plaudits, including from my organization, the Family Research Council. But these moments have been more incidental and dramatic than consistent and dependable.

In the name of caution, he dallies. For the sake of consideration, he procrastinates. On behalf of prudence, he dissolves into quietude.

One thing is sure,” said FDR. “We have to do something. We have to do the best we know how at the moment.” Is this a perfect way of addressing crises? Certainly not, especially if the “something” that is done is animated by emotion and directed by panic. But upon obtaining the best counsel possible, the job of a President is to act quickly and firmly when urgency requires it.

Time is a luxury upon which the security of the United States cannot wait. Al-Qaeda, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the tyrants of North Korea and their assorted allies in the international fellowship of evil know this. Do you, Mr. President?

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