Month Archives: August 2011

Al Gore — BYOB*

by Robert Morrison

August 16, 2011

*Bring Your Own Bleeps

Former Vice President Al Gore recently addressed a forum in Aspen, Colorado. He spoke at length about climate. The exposure last year of a number of embarrassing emails and tricks being performed by some of the worlds leading climate scientists did not faze the ex-Veep. Nor, apparently, was he bothered by the UN climate panels mixing up the dates when the Himalayan glaciers would all melt away. They will not all be gone by 2035, after all. (Why liberals would be worried about the Himalayas anyway is a puzzle since uber liberal Thomas Friedman has assured us the world is flat.)

No, Al Gore is angry, enraged really, that there is anyone left on this flat earth who still disagrees with him. Dissent is not dissent, Al says, its denial. Denial is not a river inEgypt. Its like Holocaust Denial. If you disagree with Al Gore, you are a neo-Nazi; you are not to be listened to in polite company.

Ahem. About that polite company: Remember when it used to be, well, polite? I remember when I was a young political activist, we were all shocked at the expletive deleteds that littered the transcripts of the Nixon White House tapes. The embattled Nixon press office thought they might escape censure by putting out expurgated versions of the presidents previously private conversations.

They were sadly mistaken. Tens of millions of Americans who had voted for Richard Nixon were appalled at the ugliness, the foul-mindedness of the man they thought was one of their own. Americans are smart. They can fill in the blanks.

Well, with Al Gore, you dont have to fill in any blanks. The man who was addressing the Choose Civility crowd in Aspen let it all hang out.

[Warning: Liberals speaking in public. Violent imagery, tortured logic, and even worse grammar.]

He rants. He rages. He roars. He seems to think if you holler loud enough, you convince people. Or, at the very least, you intimidate them into silence.

You dont. Millions of Americans are realizing that the climate change racket has been pulling the all-organic, free-range Merino wool over our eyes for a generation. We no longer genuflect when told some product, program, or politician is green.

We still care about our environment. We still want clean air and clean waters. We are still concerned about the world our children will live in.

Its just that we no longer buy into the argument that the EPA knows best.

We no longer think its smart to ban oil drilling offshore here, while subsidizing Brazilians to drill off their coasts. Too many of us have been sold a bill of goods on the virtues of wind turbines. These wind turbines are good for generating electricity anywhere but offMarthas Vineyard, where the liberal elites summer.

Al Gore used to be the adult in the Clinton White House. Bill Clinton was never behind in the polls one day after choosing Al Gore as his running mate in 1992. Perhaps voters thought Al Gore would be the hall monitor for the Oval Office.

Something snapped inside Al Gore. After losing the 2000 Floridarecount. And it was the Supreme Court that did it, too. That liberal templeof Roe v. Wade. How cruel. How bitter.

Gore went off the deep end. He had been raised to be President of the United States. He had put up with eight years of Bill Clintons shenanigans. He had had to sigh through those debates with Texas Gov. George Bush. That dim bulb! And Ws not even a dim Compact Fluorescent Light bulb!

After all that, to lose the election, to have CNN of all outfits, confirm your loss, was so unfair. That margin of votes in Floridais as narrow as a hair on a flea on an elephants backside. It was a measly 537 votes. That was too much for sanitys sake.

If the world is going to go crazy like that, I might as well go crazy, too,Prince Albertsaid to himself. So now, he flies in private jets to climate conferences, is chauffeured from venue to venue, and consoled by other graybeards. He deports himself as that Man Who Would Have Been King.

His profane profundities miss the mark, alas. His howling against outrageous fortune lacks dignity and force. He just bays at the Moon.

Albert, get thee to a nunnery, or at least to a decent library. Read King Lear.

He, too, turned out by ingrates, gone mad upon the heath, could invoke Nature and rail against unjust Fortune:

Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage! blow!

You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout

Till you have drenched our steeples, drowned the cocks!

You sulphurous and thought-executing fires,

Vaunt-couriers to oak-cleaving thunderbolts,

Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder,

Strike flat the thick rotundity o’ the world!

Crack nature’s molds, all germens spill at once

That make ingrateful man!

Those lines were written by Shakespeare four hundred years ago. Now, thats the way to go mad, if you must. And have you noticed all the furs worn by Shakespeare and his characters in that Elizabethan era? A Little Ice Age, perhaps? Dont get Prince Albertstarted. Hell deny you!

Dalrymple Analysis of British Riots in Wall Street Journal

by Chris Gacek

August 15, 2011

Just a quick post last week I mentioned that the foremost writer on the decline of British society is Theodore Dalrymple (pen name). Well, he has published a commentary piece, Barbarians Inside the Gates, in todays Wall Street Journal. It is very good, and I believe it is available to the public (not behind their pay firewall).

Here are a few observations that he makes:

The youth of Britain have long placed a de facto curfew on the old, who in most places would no more think of venturing forth after dark than would peasants in Bram Stokers Transylvania. Indeed, well before the riots last week, respectable persons would not venture into the centers of most British cities or towns on Friday and Saturday nights, for fearand in the certaintyof encountering drunken and aggressive youngsters. In Britain nowadays, the difference between ordinary social life and riot is only a matter of degree, not of type.

And these were among his concluding thoughts:

So several things need to be done, among them the reform and even dismantlement of the educational and social-security systems, the liberalization of the labor laws, and the much firmer repression of crime.


Another Abortion Apologia from the NYT Mag

by Cathy Ruse

August 15, 2011

This weekend the New York Times Magazine published another piece on a favorite topic: aborting one or more children in a multiple pregnancy, known antiseptically to those in the business as selective reduction.

A few years ago it featured Amy Richards first-person account of having two of her triplets killed so that she wouldnt have to shop at Costco and buy big jars of mayonnaise. This piece follows a married woman in her forties, with two young children in grade school, who became pregnant with twins following years of infertility treatments and aborted one at 14 weeks gestation. Apparently Jenny reasoned that:

[T]wins would soak up everything she had to give, leaving nothing for her older children. Even the twins would be robbed, because, at best, she could give each one only half of her attention and, she feared, only half of her love. Jenny desperately wanted another child, but not at the risk of becoming a second-rate parent.

Beyond the revolting illogical pro-choice platitudes (at least she didnt try to suggest there was no baby there; at 14 weeks that child was so well-developed she could move on her own), Jenny did touch upon something close to truth in her machinations; she had a glimpse of the post-modern problem of human commodification:

[W]e created this child in such an artificial manner in a test tube, choosing an egg donor, having the embryo placed in me and somehow, making a decision about how many to carry seemed to be just another choice. The pregnancy was all so consumerish to begin with, and this became yet another thing we could control.

Right. Its the logic of choice, and not even the logical end.

The right to abortion is limitless in this country. You can have a legal abortion at any time, for any reason. Thats a hard truth these Times Magazine pieces help to tell. Dr. Richard Berkowitz ofColumbiaUniversityMedicalCenter, who does this type of abortion, admits what the pro-choice movement would rather hide: that a woman can have an abortion for any reason financial, social, emotional.

You can even have a baby killed over worrying whether youll be able to love her enough.

If the child were given a say, no doubt shed happily give up any love for an ounce of respect and the chance just to keep living.

h/t Kathryn Jean Lopez, The Corner

Book Review: Surprised by Oxford

by Mark Trammell

August 12, 2011

Adrian Rogers, longtime pastor of Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, TN, once said, I wouldnt trust the best fifteen minutes I ever lived to get me into heaven. This simple statement has such a profound truth: our hope is in Christ Jesus. This is a truth that Carolyn Weber, in her exquisitely written memoir, Surprised by Oxford, comes to realize.

Ms. Weber, a native of Ontario, Canada, grew up in a community where the name of Jesus is not included in everyday conversation. Growing up in spiritual darkness, she found herself not only opposed to evangelical Christian beliefs, but categorically annoyed by them. Surprised by Oxford, details her first year of graduate work at Oxford University, a place where she did not expect to find faith in God, but nonetheless, in the words of 2 Corinthians 5:17, became a new creation in Christ.

Surprised by Oxford is captivating, mentally stimulating, and spiritually energizing. Intertwined with thought-provoking quotations from poetry and Romantic literature, Ms. Weber refreshingly exhibits a level of honesty and vulnerability that all readers can appreciate. Evidenced by the boldness of the classmate she affectionately refers to as TDH (tall, dark, and handsome) to share the gospel, Ms. Webers conversion to Christianity is a testament of the ongoing ministry of the Holy Spirit: pointing people to Salvation in Christ Jesus. She allows readers to peer into her thought process, her rational questioning of the existence of God, and her search for truth in a way that can only be rivaled by the great C.S. Lewis.

Carolyn Webers memoir is different from others of its kind. What makes her memoir special is her attention to her post-conversion experience. Sophomorically, many new Christians expect post-conversion life to be nothing but roses and bonbons. Nothing could be further from the truth. Consider the words of John 15:18-20:

18 If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.

Ms. Webers stories are relatable, a quality that enriches the overall quality of her memoir. Her struggles are real. Her relationships with family and friends changed dramatically. She faced persecution in the field of academia, a field that generally associates faith with ignorance. Her ability to overcome these hurdles and literally stand firm for absolute truth, when confronted by old friends and professors shoveling moral relativism, is an encouragement to all believers. The trials she faced, in her relationships and in academia, are not specific to her, but rather a telling reality that, in some respect, all Christians will face.

As I aimed to become a teacher, God made me a student. This quote from Surprised by Oxford is a beautiful summation of the entire text. Its splendor is not derived from any brilliance in diction or syntax; rather it derives from a honest illustration of the sovereignty of God. Surprised by Oxford is the celebration of the grace of God, grace that is available to all those who will accept it. I consider Carolyn Webers memoir a treasure, and recommend it to believers and skeptics alike. Through this beautifully written memoir, it is obvious that Carolyn Weber is an extraordinarily talented storyteller. I am confident that Surprised by Oxford will enrich the lives of readers in generations to come.

Mark Trammell is a Policy Intern at the Family Research Council, and is a 3L at Liberty University School of Law.

A Brave, if Misguided, Mayor

by Rob Schwarzwalder

August 12, 2011

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter is a brave man. Anyone doubting this should watch his 25-minute exhortation to the African-American community of his city.

Nutter, himself black, began his message with a moving call for all Americans to pray for our men and women in uniform. And then: “Now: I’m gonna say some things this morning that many of you from time to time may think, but may not say. It will not be PC.”

The mayor’s message was volcanic in intensity but targeted in its aim: In vivid terms, he described the results of the break-up of the black family. His evaluation is entirely consistent with the research done by FRCs Dr. Pat Fagan, who has found only 17% of African-American youth (less than one in five) live with both married parents. Given that children need parents, there should be little wonder that so many black youth are adrift and moving into lives of crime or promiscuity.

Mayor Nutter took a strong line on thwarting the immediate acts of crime, but spoke eloquently about the need for parents truly to parent their children. Speaking to the young people who are disrupting the city, he said: “If you want all of us — black, white or any other color — if you want us to respect you, if you want us to look at you in a different way, if you want us not to be afraid to walk down the same side of the street with you, if you want folks not to jump out of an elevator when you get on, if you want folks to stop following you around in stores when you’re out shopping, if you want someone to offer you a job or an internship somewhere, if you don’t want folks to be looking in or trying to go in a different direction when they see two or 20 of you coming down the street, then stop acting like idiots and fools out in the streets of the city of Philadelphia. Just cut it out.”

Sadly, the Mayor in April also launched “the Freedom Condom” initiative to combat sexually-transmitted diseases. “The Freedom Condom (is) a LifeStyles Ultra Thin Lubricated inside a blue city wrapper - (it) may be ordered free online at, and also (is being) distributed at more than 100 locations around the city. (It is) easily found via iCondom Philly, the new GPS-enabled iPhone app.”

The Mayor is, no doubt, a sincere man. Yet, logically, he cannot campaign against that which he is subsidizing. The only guarantees against a sexually-transmitted disease are abstinence or, if married, fidelity to one’s husband or wife. Moreover, by distributing condoms to children as young as 11, he is encouraging behavior he knows is dangerous. The fact that some children will be promiscuous does not justify fostering such promiscuity through the distribution of free prophylactics. This is like saying that because some people will become drug addicts, government should provide free, hermetically-sealed bags of heroin on demand.

In addition, the evidence indicates that an increase in contraceptive use actually means a higher level of abortion and disease. Peer reviewed studies in three countries: Britain, Spain, and Sweden demonstrate that an increase in contraceptive use is matched by a rise in STDs and abortions. In a commensurate way, less contraceptive use correlates with fewer abortions. From 1995 to 2002, the rate of contraceptive use here in the U.S. decreased from 64 percent to 62 percent and abortion numbers decreased from about 1.36 million to roughly 1.29 million.

With all of that said, we can still applaud Mayor Nutter for calling on mothers, fathers and children to function as God intended as loving, responsible, respectful families.

Federal Agency Admits Violating DOMA in Conducting Survey

by Peter Sprigg

August 12, 2011

Last months Senate hearing on a bill to repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) featured a clash between Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) and one of the witnesses defending DOMA, Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family.

Minnerys testimony referred to the social science evidence showing children do best when raised by their own mother and father. He referred to one such study in his prepared testimony this way:

In fact, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services explains in its new and exhaustive report, Family Structure and Childrens Health in the United States: Findings from the National Health Interview Survey, 2001-2007, that children living with their own married biological or adoptive mothers and fathers were generally healthier and happier, had better access to health care, less likely to suffer mild or severe emotional problems, did better in school, were protected from physical, emotional and sexual abuse and almost never live in poverty, compared with children in any other family form.

Franken, however, triumphantly noted that in fact, these superior outcomes were associated with nuclear families, defined as one or more children living with two parents who are married to one another and are each biological or adoptive parents to all children in the family. Since the definition made no mention of the gender of the married parents, he concluded that nuclear families could be headed by married homosexual couples, too.

FRCs Tony Perkins, however, noted in his Washington Update that Franken seemed to be forgetting the very law that the hearing was about:

DOMA says, “In determining the meaning of … any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word ‘marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.” Since this was a federal study published by a federal agency based on a federal survey conducted by federal (Census Bureau) employees, its definition of married is bound by DOMA.

I had made the same point in a longer op-ed about this study in February.

Just to be sure, however, I sent an email to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which had published the study. Unfortunately, they confirmed that they had simply ignored the mandate of DOMA with respect to the definition of marriage.

Here, for the record, is the substantive part of their response:

The National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) is conducted under the authority of the National Center for Health Statistics and obtains annual data on various health characteristics (e.g., health status, chronic conditions, disability, access to health care, etc.) of the US noninstitutionalized population. NHIS data are typically obtained via face-to-face computer-assisted interviews using fixed format questions. All NHIS data are based on self reports by respondents who decide for themselves how they wish to answer each question; the interviewer then enters the response on the computer.

Regarding marital status, all household members aged 14 or older are asked if they are now married, widowed, divorced, separated, never married, or living with a partner. NHIS respondents self-identify whether they are currently married, divorced, living with a partner, etc.; they are not asked questions about the type of union (e.g., civil unions, common-law marriages, etc) or date of divorce, whether either the marriage or divorce is legal according to the state they live in, or how long their union has lasted. If NHIS respondents tell us they are married, we accept that response as is. Other than making sure that the data are consistent with the universe (that is, limited to respondents aged 14 or older), no attempt is made by NCHS staff to correct the data. Moreover, the 2001-2007 NHIS did not contain questions that systematically asked about sexual orientation; gay or lesbian respondents, as well as same-sex couples, are contained in the data but are not identified. As a result, the definitions used in sr10_246 (the report on family structure and children’s health) were neutral regarding the gender of parents.

It seems to me that it would be easy enough in the interview process to briefly explain the federal definition of marriage, so that the respondent can reply to the marital status question in a way consistent with the law. Procedures for conducting these interviews should immediately be amended to bring them into conformity with DOMA.

Nevertheless, I will give one round to Franken on this technical point. But the number of nuclear families headed by homosexual couples in this study is likely to be negligible. As Tony Perkins noted in the same Washington Update piece quoted above,

Even if, by chance, the interviewers or authors violated [DOMA], the survey data was collected from 2001 to 2007. During that time (and only from mid-2004 on) there was only one state (Massachusetts) in which homosexual couples could marry.

Furthermore, even married homosexual couples who are raising children are unlikely to fit the definition of a nuclear family. Remember, a nuclear family requires that the married parents are each biological or adoptive parents to all children in the family (emphasis added). Obviously, it is biologically impossible for same-sex partners to each be biological parents of the same children.

Only if a married same-sex couple had jointly adopted all the children in their household would they clearly fit even this studys lawless definition of a nuclear family. However, this is not the most common type of homosexual parenting situation. It is much more common for homosexual parents to bring to their relationships their own biological childrenconceived in previous heterosexual relationships.

Advocates for homosexual parents (and for homosexual marriage) are fond of arguing that children do not need a mom and a dadall they need is two loving parents. But this HHS study, while unfortunately not consistent with federal law in its definition of married parents, still offers no support for that argument.

Households featuring same-sex couples raising children are much more likely to fit one of the other non-nuclear household typesall of which, apart from single-parent families, feature at least two adult caretakers. These include unmarried biological or adoptive, blended, cohabiting, extended, or other families.

All of these family types had outcomes inferior to those of the nuclear family.

Playboy Out of the Porn Business?

by Cathy Ruse

August 11, 2011

This week CBS online reported that Playboy is getting out of the pornography business. According to Jim Edwards of Bnet, the whole commercial porn industry is tanking. He cites Playboys losses of $15 million last year on revenue of just $55 million (down 9 percent from the previous year), as well as the declining revenues of other companies and cable pay-per-view porn.

Wouldnt you just like to gloat? I sure would. That reaction might be misplaced.

As for Playboy, while it will no longer actually make pornography, CEO Scott Flanders says the company is moving into brand management, licensing its name and logos. So it could survive and thrive yet.

And the assumption from every quarter is that the hits to this vile industry are due not to some beneficent cause but to the glut of free porn on the Internet and elsewhere. It could be even worse than that. My friend Donna Rice Hughes, who heads Enough is Enough, believes its not quantity but content: the big industry leaders cant compete with the type of deviant hard-core material that is now available on the Internet.

I hope shes wrong. Whether its big porn syndicates tied in with organized crime or mom and pop amateurs dumping more and more deviant material on the Internet, the heart of the issue is still the same. As Bruce Taylor, the nations most experienced porn prosecutor, told PBS: Its still the same industry. These are a bunch of pimps who make hardcore porn […] by hiring people, turning them into prostitutes, and then distributing illegal obscenity.

The problem is the same, and so is the solution. These people are violating long-standing federal obscenity laws. Prosecute them and convict them. Its deceptively simple. Enforce the law, and the Internet porn industry will decline.

The Social Conservative Review—August 11, 2011 Edition

by Krystle Gabele

August 11, 2011

Click here to subscribe to The Social Conservative Review.

Dear Friends,

This week’s riots in Britain have reminded us that human nature is a volatile thing. As former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher once put it, “The veneer of civilization is very thin.”

Man is a fallen being, yet capable of great nobility of character. The Bible’s teachings about man had an especially profound affect on the Founders as they considered how imperfect men could govern themselves.

Although they affirmed human fallenness, they also affirmed human dignity. If persons are made in God’s image and likeness, then they have value before Him which should be honored by those political powers He ordains to govern them.

Through the Judeo-Christian tradition, human rights are rooted in the moral worth with which a loving Creator has endowed each human life,” writes scholar A. James Reichley, “and social authority is legitimized by making it answerable to transcendent moral law.”

This cannot be understated. Without a grounding in biblical revelation and natural law, which is itself reliant on a belief in communicated transcendent truth, we have no basis for proclaiming human uniqueness and dignity.

Religious liberty is a divine right, immediately derived from the Supreme Being, without the intervention of any created authority,” New Hampshire preacher Israel Evans proclaimed in 1791. The same can be said for the rights to life and property, and the “pursuit of happiness,” as articulated in our Declaration of Independence.

At the Family Research Council, we work to strengthen the veneer of which Mrs. Thatcher spoke through advancing measures that encourage faith, family, and freedom. For the sake of civilization, we believe there can few more important works.


Rob Schwarzwalder

Senior Vice President

Family Research Council

Educational Freedom and Reform


Legislation and Policy Proposals

Government Reform



Health Care


Conscience Protection

Health care reform: Political and Legislative efforts


Human Life and Bioethics


Bioethics and Biotechnology

Euthanasia and End of Life Issues

Stem Cell Research

Marriage and Family


Family Economics

Family Structure



Religion and Public Policy

Religious Liberty

Religion in America




International Economy and Family

Religious Persecution

Sharia law — U.S., foreign

The Courts

Constitutional Issues

Other News of Note

Book reviews

The First Summit

by Robert Morrison

August 10, 2011

I was honored to have my column on the first summit run on National Review Online’s “Corner” blog.

The First Summit

That summit conference, which took place seventy years ago today, included a shipboard church parade and worship service led by Prime Minister Churchill and President Roosevelt.

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