Month Archives: November 2011

Lincoln at GettysburgAnd Us

by Robert Morrison

November 18, 2011

We already know who the featured speaker at the Gettysburg Address Sesquicentennial will be. Organizers of this one hundred fiftieth celebration have asked President Obamatwo years ahead of 2013—to lead the list of distinguished Americans expected to commemorate President Lincolns immortal words, delivered November 19, 1863. Event planners must be assuming that Mr. Obama will be re-elected. It would be awkward, wouldnt it, to have him be the lead speaker if he has been defeated for office?

Well, awkward fits. President Lincoln went up to Gettysburg by train the afternoon before the cemeterys dedication. He tried to get some sleep that night, but revelers kept him up with their drinking and singing. The party atmosphere that prevailed in Gettysburg at that time was worse than awkward; it was ghastly. Lincoln seems not to have noted it.

Nor did he mind being asked merely to deliver some appropriate remarks. The President of the United States, the commander-in-chief of the greatest armies and navy this country had ever assembled, the Great Emancipator himself, was given only a secondary role in the ceremony. It reminds us of the story of Lincoln greeting an old friend from Illinois. The visitor expressed surprise that the nations leader should be blacking his own boots. Whose boots should I black, Lincoln asked humorously.

I have been to Gettysburg dozens of times. I never tire of seeing that battlefield and walking through that National Cemetery, that hallowed ground. I took scores of students there on field studies. I made a point always of having them join hands atop the monument to the 20th Maine Regiment, the unit commanded by Col. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain.

Chamberlains men were running out of ammunition on Little Round Top as the 15th Alabama Regiment charged that critical point. If the rebels succeeded, they would be able to mount cannon on that high point and rake the entire Union left. Chamberlain ordered his men, mostly Maine fisherman and lumberjacks, to fix bayonets and counter charge their foes. The Alabamians had never tasted defeat until that moment.

The 20th Maine monument is not like many of the others at Gettysburg. Rich, powerful Northern states like New York and Pennsylvania, erected grand memorial palaces in the post-war years to tell the world what their sons had done.

Southerners, stricken by defeat and poverty, nonetheless, dug deep into their pockets to erect the most moving tributes to the sons of the Lost Cause who died at Gettysburg. My great great Uncle Jonas Lipps survived that battle, and a dozen others, only to die in a Union prison camp at age 24.

The 20th Maine monument is most moving in its simplicity. It is made of cheap stone. Those Mainers were just fishermen and loggers, after all. Still, it touches something deep in our hearts. It was for just such menand their descendants—that President Lincoln carried on this great peoples struggle. He said it was not just a war for the present, but for a vast future.

I take inspiration from Lincolns words on that great dedicatory occasion. He finished his brief 272-word address saying this nationunder Godwould have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth.

We are engaged today in a great cultural clash, more protracted and more wrenching in many ways than even that civil war. For many in our national leadership, including President Obama, the fate of millions yet unborn is merely matter of constitutionally protected choice. Their lives, their yearning to breathe free, is a matter of no special concern to this administration. In fact, under Mr. Obamas health care law, the destruction of the millions of unborn children will proceed with government financial support.

In Lincolns time, the federal government was pledged to return runaway slaves to their owners. Only with Emancipation did that policy officially end. He said it most eloquently: Nothing stamped in the divine image was sent into the world to be trod upon. I have had the privilege this fall of seeing ultra-sound images of my grandchildren, twins stamped in that divine image. Their right to be is not above our pay grade.

I appeal to President Obama: Dont wait until 2013; go to Gettysburg now. Mr. President, you should seriously study Abraham Lincolns words and his principles. Lincoln always said he would not play the Pharisee. He would not impute to himself all righteousness. He had vast sympathy for others points of view. But he knew and he said that if slavery was not wrong, nothing is wrong. We know that if abortion is not wrong, nothing is wrong.

To protect life at its most vulnerable has always been right. In doing so, we must try to win over our opponents. To achieve this, we should remember Lincolns modest stand. He did not claim that the Lord was on his side: I am not at all concerned about that, for I know that the Lord is always on the side of the right. But it is my constant anxiety and prayer that I and this nation should be on the Lords side.

Coattails Still Count

by Robert Morrison

November 18, 2011

Theres a theme being played out on some radio talk shows: Just nominate any minimally acceptable candidate for president, so long as he (or she) is not scary, and that candidate will cruise to victory, pulling in a strong House and Senate majorities. The formidable Charles Krauthammer has been offering a variant of this notion. He says voter intensity doesnt count. Every vote is equal in the voting booth.

As well intentioned as these intelligent callers and commentators are, they are wrong. Voter intensity is everything. It determines who shows up at those voting booths. Krauthammer and others perceived a strong conservative tide that swept away thousands of liberals in the 2010 elections. The country is moving conservative, they say.

The country is more conservative than liberal, to be sure. All polls show that about twice as many Americans count themselves conservative as liberal. But that does not assure that the GOP wins the next election.

Turnout is everything. One year ago, 42% of eligible voters cast ballots in the off-year elections. That is the highest turnout for an off-year election since 1966. That was very good. And those voters handed victories to hundreds of pro-life, pro-family candidates, for which we thank God.

President Obama was elected in 2008 when 62% of eligible voters turned out. That was the strongest turnout since 1960. (And, given the fact that 18-year olds could not vote in 1960, the last presidential election may be the greatest turnout of the modern era.)

The difference between the 2008 and 2010 electorates is a huge one20%. This is where voter intensity comes in. If people are not excited about this election, all bets are off.

And excitement must come from enthusiasm for the head of the ticket. Vice presidential candidates dont excite voters. Tippecanoe and Tyler, too were elected, but it was William Henry Harrison who won the votes. The late Geraldine Ferraro was a most interesting addition to the 1984 ticket, but she was unable to gain for Fritz Mondale any of the groups she was supposed to appeal to. Reagan beat Mondale-Ferraro among women, Catholics, Italian-Americans, New Yorkers, and even voters in Geraldines own Queens congressional district.

A story from my New York political days will illustrate. Manny and Vinnie were politicians in the City in the tumultuous year of 1932. The country was in the depths of the Great Depression. New York Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt was running against the hapless Herbert Hoover. Even without public opinion pollsthen in their infancyeveryone expected FDR to crush President Hoover.

Manny the Zone Leader in Brooklyn was fending off Vinnies complaints:

Roosevelt, Roosevelt, Roosevelt. Hes gettin all the money. We all know hes gonna win. If this election goes on another two weeks, Roosevelt will carry Canada! I need some money for my race for Alderman!

Manny the Zone Leader replied: Vinnie, relax. Go down to Sout Ferry and watch the ferry boat come in. Two hunderd yards out, she revoises her propellers and comes into the ferry slip nice and slow. And when she does, she brings in all that gobbage from the bottom of the bay wit her. Vinnie, Franklin D. Roosevelt is YOUR ferry boat!

Ronald Reagan carried in thousands of federal, state and local candidates with him in 1980. George W. Bush was able to bring in many, especially in Ohio in 2004, where marriage was on the ballot. Tens of thousands more voters showed up for that race, including the Amish who had never voted before.

President Obama is carefully working to excite his strongest supportersliberals, unions, environmentalists, gays, pro-choice activists, minorities, and women. His task is made harder with unions, minorities, and women because they have been hard hit by his terrible economic policies. Still, union leaders will sing his praises.

President Harry Truman was thought to be a sure loser in 1948. He had defections from his Democratic party. Strom Thurmond ran as a Dixiecrat, promising to maintain racial segregation. Former Vice President Henry Wallace ran on the far left as a Progressive. His campaign promised to make nice with the Soviets and was run by Communists.

The Republican nominee that year was calm, dignified, intelligent, and articulate. He had the united support of the business community. New York Gov. Thomas Dewey was described by Theodore Roosevelts tart tongued daughter Alice as the little man on the wedding cake. Still, Dewey was such a prohibitive favorite that the Gallup organization stopped polling in early October. Calm and steady, Dewey acted as if he was already president.

The Chicago Tribune was so confident of the result that they published an early edition with the headline: Dewey Defeats Truman. History books show an ebullient Harry brandishing that newspaper.

Turnout is everything. And nothing generates a big turnout like excitement for the top of the ticket. Anyone who tells you otherwise needs to take a ride on the Staten Island ferry.

A List of Books on China

by Chris Gacek

November 18, 2011

The United States just agree to place 2,500 Marines in Australia as a signal to the Chinese that even the Obama Administration recognizes, perhaps dimly, that something is amiss in Asia and the Pacific. (See the informative AP story that seems to be doing some chest thumping for the Administration.) In any case, China is in the news, and, as we know, its One Child Policy is a brutal offense to human rights whose enforcement requires the sort of intrusive police state that seems to get little attention in the American press. That is merely one type of oppression which the Chinese people face. The Washington Times has been running a series of articles from a new book, Bowing to Beijing: How Barack Obama is Hastening Americas Decline and Ushering A Century of Chinese Domination, by Brett Decker and William Triplett II. If you are doing some Christmas book shopping for someone who has an interest in China, take a look at Brett Deckers useful list of Ten Books You Need to Read about the Chinese Threat.

Reagans Favorite Sign: Hes Old But hes Cute

by Robert Morrison

November 17, 2011

A glittering panel was assembled this week on Washingtons EYE Street, the home of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). They had come to discuss Ronald Reagans career in the movies and how that influenced his political life. Before Reagan, people asked: How can an actor be president? After Reagan, people recognized his joke: How can you be president if you havent been an actor?

The panel was chaired by Politicos John Harris. He led off by telling the 40-50 attendees that he graduated from high school in 1980 and cast his first presidential vote in 1984. Mr. Harris was too tactful to mention that it probably wasnt cast for RR. Thats OK, 59% of the votes cast that year were cast for the Gipper; he carried 49 states.

The panelists included NBC News Andrea Mitchell, ABC News Sam Donaldson, former White House Chief of Staff Ken Duberstein, and, of course, former Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) Dodd left the Senate in January to assume the presidency of the MPAA. I counted one likely vote for President Reagan of the five panelists. Fair and balanced.

Sen. Dodd was most charitable. He spoke of having gone to the White House early one morning for a meeting. The night before, President Reagan had lost the Louisville debate to challenger Walter Mondale. Fritz even got a baseball bat from his admirers in the press titled The Louisville Slugger. Dodd expected to find Reagan down in the mouth, or at least tired.

Not at all, Dodd said. The president was bright-eyed and chipper, greeting him by name and offering him coffee and Danish. It was then, Dodd said, that he learned in politicsas in the moviespresentation is everything. Indeed.

Andrea Mitchell described going to the De-Militarized Zone in Korea with Reagan.

There, at one of the flashpoints in the Cold War, North Korean Communists had built a phony village with happy peasants supposedly enjoying the good life in the Workers Paradise. (All those workers villages were so paradisiacal they had to have barbed wire around them to keep out the starving stooges of Wall Street.) She tweaked one later famous GOP president when she said Reagan looked over the DMZ with binoculars, from which he had carefully taken off the lens covers. What do you see, reporters wanted to know. It looks like a Hollywood back lot, but not as important, Reagan jibed.

Ken Duberstein said it was true that Reagan learned lessons in the impact of taxation on economic activity in Hollywood. It was not just that it didnt pay him—the king of the B moviesto make more movies when he was taxed at the rate of 91 cents of every dollar he earned. Reagan was a wealthy man. He could afford not to make another oat burner Western.

Reagan realized then that when he passed up more movies, the ticket sellers, ushers, popcorn vendors, cameramen, make-up ladies, and a host of other workers lost work, lost opportunities to realize their dreams.

Most of the members of the Screen Actors Guild are people youve never heard of and who may make one or two movies a year. They are the thousands of non-stars who love being a part of Hollywood. These folks elected and re-elected Ronald Reagan president of the Screen Actors Guild seven times. He was genuinely loved by the SAG members.

And it was for them that he went to bat when Communists tried to take over Hollywood in the 1940s and 50s. (Ronnie! Come back! Theres no term limit for SAG president!)

Sam Donaldson was almost glowing in his praise of Reagan the Performer. Sam looks wonderful. Tall and narrow as a rake, he still has that same foghorn baritone with which he used to bellow hostile questions as President Reagan. He described Reagans classic putdown of President Jimmy Carter in their only 1980 debate. Carter unleashed a withering attack on Reagan the Right Wing Reactionary, grimly reciting a barrage of charges against his affable, smiling opponent. Instead of a Dan Quayle, rabbit-in-the-headlights look, Reagan aw shucks-ed him. There you go again. Yes, by this time, the country was very tired of the increasingly shrill Carter.

Sam didnt mention his famous trip to the Kremlin with President Reagan in 1988. In Saint Catherines Hall at a grand state luncheon with Gorbachev and the entire Soviet politburo, Sam glowered at the president.

Who eez zat man, ze one looking at Reagan wiss such an evil look, one Russian asked author Edmund Morris. Oh, thats just Sam Donaldson. Hes a reporter, a thorn in Reagans flesh. The atheist Russian asked for a translation of that unfamiliar term. Ach! We wood say hes a splinter on Reagans a__.

Ken Duberstein noted that President Reagan never put his nose in his briefing books when traveling in the limousine. He knew it meant a lot to people who had come out, sometimes waiting for hours, just to see him. He made a point of making eye contact and waving with them all.

One older lady in Connecticut carried a sign: We loved you in the Knute Rockne Story, but more in the White House. She was referring to Reagans most famous movie, where he played dying football hero, George Gipp. Two hundred thousand people had come out to Notre Dame to see Reagan and Pat OBrien when that movie was first released.

Thats my second favorite sign, the President told Duberstein. The Chief of Staffs question, inevitably, was: OK, Mr. President, what was your favorite sign?

Reagan winked: The one that young cheerleader at Ohio State held up: Hes old but hes cute!

He was more than that: He was old but courageous. When he visited Moscow, he jumped out of his limousine and waded into the crowd at the citys famous shopping district, the Arbat. The Secret Service nearly had heart failure. The Russian people mobbed Ronald and Nancy. The KGB began pushing, shoving, and kicking their own people away. This was the same outfit that had arranged the shooting of the Pope, that had doubtless supplied the plastic explosive the IRA used in their attempt to kill Margaret Thatcher.

Here was President Reagan fearlessly moving among them.

I drafted a letter for President Reagan one time when I worked for him at the U.S. Department of Education. I wrote if we dont teach phonics to our children, I fear that the rising generation will lack the essentials of literacy. Barely an hour later, the approved draft was back on my desk. Circled in red was that phrase: I fear that…

In the margin was this note: This president has concerns. He has no fears.

That was twenty-five years ago. Those words inspire me still.

A Promise and A Debt

by Rob Schwarzwalder

November 17, 2011

According to today’s Wall Street Journal, a homosexual activist named John Becker owes Marcus Bachmann’s counseling practice $150 for failing to cancel two counseling appointments. Becker disputes this, asserting that he canceled the appointments on time and therefore owes nothing. As a result, Bachmann has told the gay rights organization “Truth Wins Out,” under whose auspices Becker secretly filmed an interview session with a Bachmann counselor in an effort to get anti-homosexual comments on tape (Becker failed; the counselor was tasteful and helpful throughout) that he will turn the bill over to a collection agency unless it is paid forthwith.

Bachmann, whose wife is running for the presidency and is therefore a target of activists who oppose his views on traditional marriage, argues that “it’s not the amount of money. For us, it’s the principle.” Imagine that: a business owner standing up for his staff and himself, using legal means to do so, and insisting that since Becker “signed a contract that stated he would pay for no-shows,” that Becker be held to account.

All I know of the case is what the Journal reports. If Becker is telling the truth - that he canceled his meetings in an appropriate time-frame - let him prove it. If he’s not, let him pay what he owes.

This is not a “petty and vindictive campaign of harassment and threats” against “Truth Wins Out,” as the group’s director, Wayne Besen, asserts. It’s about responsibility, keeping one’s word, and paying what is owed. “A promise made,” wrote the poet Robert Service, “is a debt unpaid.” Enough said.

The Social Conservative Review: November 17, 2011

by Krystle Gabele

November 17, 2011

Click here to subscribe to the Social Conservative Review.

Dear Friends:

November is National Adoption Awareness Month, which is why FRC was proud to host Ryan Bomberger last week for his lecture, “Adoption: Be the Hope.” Ryan was himself adopted and, with his wife, has adopted two children. You can watch his moving presentation here. To learn about the pro-life, pro-adoption ministry of Ryan’s Radiance Foundation, go to

One of the most daunting obstacles to adoption is its up-front cost, which can be as much as $40,000 per child. Although the federal adoption tax credit is very helpful, it does not cover what can be, for families of ordinary means, a great financial challenge.

It’s for that reason that the adoption ministry Lifesong (a member of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability) has set-up a program to help churches develop adoption funds. An adoption fund is a designated line-item in a church’s budget that helps church members pay for their adoption costs, either through a direct financial gift or low-or no-interest loan. As the beneficiaries of one such fund, my wife and I are eternally grateful for the generosity and selflessness of God’s people in helping us adopt our three children.

To learn more about adoption and related ministries, go to FRC’s, through which you can link to many organizations helping children at home and abroad.


Rob Schwarzwalder

Senior Vice President

Family Research Council

P.S. Dr. Pat Fagan, Director of FRC’s Marriage and Religion Research Institute (MARRI), has just released the second annual “Index of Belonging and Rejection.” The Index rank-orders the states and the 25 largest cities by the strength of belonging in their family, showing that less than 50 percent of American children reach adulthood having grown up in an intact married family. Click here to download the report.

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

To read about the latest advances in ethical adult stem cell research, keep up with leading-edge reports from FRC’s Dr. David Prentice, click here.

Women’s Health

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

Judicial Activism

Other News of Note

Book reviews

D.C. Abortions, Taxpayers, and the Unborn

by Family Research Council

November 16, 2011

The Washington Post reported Monday on Congressman Darrell Issas (R-CA) proposed bill regarding theDistrict of Columbia. The legislation would allow D.C. to meet a long hoped-for goal of spending its tax dollars without Congresss approval once the budget has been approved by the city council and mayor. The bill includes language that would preclude tax dollars from funding abortion in D.C., except to save the life of the mother or in cases of rape or incest.

This provision is hardly surprising, given the language present in the existing federal Continuing Resolution and the stipulations of the Hyde Amendment which prevents federal funding of abortion through the Labor Health and Human Services bill.

What was actually surprising was the language with which the Post framed the conversation regarding potential and current D.C. law concerning taxpayer-funded abortions. Ben Pershing, the author of the blog post, writes that Rep. Issas bill would prohibit D.C. from spending its own taxpayer funds to pay for abortions for low-income women and notes that Mayor Grays spokesperson, Linda Wharton-Boyd, describes existing D.C. law as a prohibition on using local dollars for abortion [emphasis added].

Pershing is attempting to frame Rep. Issa’s bill as big government intrusion and D.C. local decision-making as small government, as though that were the larger moral argument at hand. But the fact is that this struggle is less about the origin and control of tax dollars and more about citizen rights of conscience regarding the bodily sovereignty of the unborn. Funding for abortion must not proceed from any public treasury if the government controlling body retains any interest in protecting the consciences of its citizens.

A path to renewal

by Family Research Council

November 15, 2011

In Saturdays New York Times, Columbia professor Jeffrey D. Sachs made the rather audacious claim, that [t]he young people in Zuccotti Park and more than 1,000 cities have started America on a path to renewal. [emphasis added]

To give Sachs and the entire Occupy movement the benefit of the doubt, we might try to view the chaos, mayhem, rape, murder, and general slovenliness as unfortunate distractions from this intended renewal.

Hypothetically, Ivy League professors, Occupyers, and conservative policy makers should be able to agree on a few points: Our great country needs renewal. We can tangibly mark American renewal or decline by measuring things like high school graduation rates and childhood poverty.

But our suggested paths towards renewal differ. Sachs calls for a vast influx of spending on education and other domestic programs. Occupiers held up a myriad of signs calling for jobs, justice, education… and weed.

But the facts seem to lead us down a different patha path that values family stability, over government-funded programs. The FRCs Marriage & Religion Research Institute is poised to release its Second Annual Index of Family Belonging and Rejection, this Thursday. The Index delves into the statistical details behind the bold claim that family structure actually matters to a childs education and success.

Robert Frost once wrote about two paths in a yellow wood. Our paths towards renewal obviously diverge. At the moment, the path toward family stability is the one less traveled by. Taking it could make all the difference.

To attend Thursdays event, please register here.

The Power of a Name

by Family Research Council

November 15, 2011

Last week my brother and sister-in-law welcomed a new little lady. Sweet little Bella was an extra special gift and surprise because her parents, who have two young boys, were expecting another little boy but instead delivered a beautiful little girl much to their delight! Bella, of course, means beautiful in Italian. And a beauty she is.

I have always believed that a persons name holds significance. Some people of faith even believe that God is so intimately involved in the creation of persons and their lives that He names his sons and daughters. Some parents entrusted with the life of a child prayerfully seek to discern the name of the precious life entrusted to them.

Sadly, this is not the case in India where disturbing gender biases haunt and hurt many women; this is played out even in naming little girls. A few weeks ago the Huffington Post ran a story about hundreds of young women who received the terribly sad name Unwanted at birth. It is horrifying to imagine a parent cruel enough to name a child Unwanted. only because the baby is a she.

Thankfully these young women are finding their true identify and part of that process involves changing their names. The Huffington Post reported that More than 200 Indian girls whose names mean unwanted in Hindi have chosen new names for a fresh start in life.

Why are these girls unwanted?

The plight of girls in India came to a focus after this year’s census showed the nation’s sex ratio had dropped over the past decade from 927 girls for every 1,000 boys under the age of 6 to 914.

Such ratios are the result of abortions of female…, or just sheer neglect leading to a higher death rate among girls. The problem is so serious in India that hospitals are legally banned from revealing the gender of an unborn fetus in order to prevent sex-selective abortions, though evidence suggests the information gets out.

Part of the reason Indians favor sons is the enormous expense of marrying off girls. Families often go into debt arranging marriages and paying for elaborate dowries. A boy, on the other hand, will one day bring home a bride and dowry. Hindu custom also dictates that only sons can light their parents’ funeral pyres.

In the eyes of God eyes no child is ever unwanted. Every creature is inherently chosen (and loved) by the very fact that she is freely and lovingly made by a Creator who could have chosen not to create her. I hope that during this re-naming process the beauties in India are able to discover their true identity as daughters of a loving Creator.

Rich Lowry on Obama’s “Lazy Americans”

by Rob Schwarzwalder

November 15, 2011

Rich Lowry, editor of National Review and one of the clearest thinkers writing today, has written an excellent comment about President Obama’s disparaging remarks about the American people and their “laziness” and “softness.’ More offensive than Mr. Obama’s patronization is the accusation itself: That Americans are unwilling to work, to try, to take risks. What bunk - to use the Latin phrase, “circumspice:” look around. What one sees is a nation that, in roughly 235 years, has created an economic engine unlike anything previously known in world history.

Ironically, as Lowry points out, extreme environmental activists are deterring our capacity to build and grow. These folk are essential to the very coalition upon which Mr. Obama depends for his political viability. Odd, since had the EPA existed in 1783, the restrictions it would have imposed would probably have made Connecticut the farthest reach of our continental expansion.

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