Where is the Popular Support for Defunding Planned Parenthood?

The head of Planned Parenthood spent yesterday justifying her organization’s providing of abortions to a skeptical House Oversight Committee.  Conservative members of Congress grilled her about subjects ranging from her $600,000-a-year salary to her determination to turn Planned Parenthood into a “kick-butt political organization.”

Planned Parenthood in St. Paul, MN

The hearing went on for almost five hours, but there is one particular claim she made which should anger conservatives across America: that Planned Parenthood is an organization people like.  How could somebody claim popular support for a group of people that deals in body parts from aborted babies?  She must be lying, right?

The shocking thing is that she isn’t.  Americans have not yet woken up to what is going on in their midst, and even these recent videos have not changed that.

The Wall Street Journal, a long-standing home of conservative thought, put it bluntly this week with this headline: “Planned Parenthood Emerges Unscathed From GOP Attacks“.  The article goes on to note that:

At a time when Republicans have been calling for cutting off federal funding to Planned Parenthood and threatening to shut down the government to do so, the new poll found that a strong majority of Americans — 61% — oppose eliminating funding, while 35% support a funding cut off.

…even among people who want to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood, only 27% favored forcing a government shutdown to accomplish the goal.

Conservatives have simply not made the case to the public at large that taxpayer money should not go to lavish salaries and organizations that provide abortions.  When we try to understand why political maneuvers to stop this funding constantly fail, we must reflect on this fact.  Much more work needs to be done to convince the American people on this issue, and only after this task is complete can we hope to convince their elected leaders to follow the path of valuing the dignity of all life.

The entire video of the House Oversight hearing can be found below:

Planned Parenthood to be Investigated by Special Committee

There was an important announcement lost among the headlines about Pope Francis completing his trip to America and John Boehner resigning from his job as speaker and his congressional seat at the end of October – a special House committee will be set up to investigate the Planned Parenthood videos.  This is a welcome step in finding out the truth behind the activities of the largest provider of abortions in America.

(Photo: Charlotte Cooper)

Boehner himself announced the investigation during an appearance yesterday on Face the Nation.  The interview started with a question about the possibility of a government shutdown, and Boehner responded by saying that it would not be happening.  But he also brought up the videos, announced the investigation, and gave us some idea of what it might focus on:

We’ll also take up a select committee to investigate these horrific videos we’ve seen from abortion clinics in several states that really raise questions about the use of federal funds and raise questions about aborted fetuses that were born alive.

Select committees have existed as long as Congress itself, and they are often used to carry out investigations.  These have ranged from whether Missouri should become a state to finding out what actually happened in Benghazi.

With a dozen different videos having been released so far, it is long past time for Congress to protect the sanctity of life and the dignity of this nation by discovering the entire truth behind the disturbing scenes America has witnessed over the past two months.

With Boehner Gone, Will Planned Parenthood be Defuned?

The fight to defund Planned Parenthood took a dramatic turn today as Speaker John Boehner announced he will resign from both his job as speaker and his congressional seat at the end of October.

Boehner had long been in a difficult position.  Ostensibly, Boehner believes in defunding Planned Parenthood.  Yet a government shutdown remains a very difficult tactic to use effectively, and as the media is keen to remind us, conservatives have been 0-for-everything when it comes to sticking to our guns in situations like these.

(Photo: Gage Skidmore)

The next step instead looks to be trying to defund Planned Parenthood through a special kind of budget bill that the Senate cannot filibuster.  That would not ultimately lead to defunding, though, as President Obama would veto any such budget bill and the Senate would be unable to override his veto.

In the medium and long term, whoever takes up the speaker’s gavel after Boehner will find the same set of difficult challenges.

The Planned Parenthood videos are indeed shocking, and the House is right to take action. The impending threat of a government shutdown remains the ace-in-the-hole for the political left, knowing that conservatives have always come out for the worst in such fights.

Yet there are interesting questions in the transition from Boehner to new leadership.  After all, if not on defunding Planned Parenthood, what should conservatives be willing to stand on principle for?  Certainly it was not for Israel and against the Iran deal, and certainly not to defund Obamacare.

Planned Parenthood has killed 61 million babies… set aside the religious arguments for one moment: should our federal government really be invested in killing off future taxpayers?  Bring faith back into the argument… at what time does the bill come due for a nation that is slowly exterminating the future?  What does it say about us when the most precious gift human beings can bestow upon one another — life — is so casually discarded?

It will be a fierce battle to replace Boehner, and the winner of that battle will dictate what happens with defunding Planned Parenthood and other similar priorities in the future.  Let’s hope that in Boehner’s last hurrah, he finds the moral and political strength to do what is necessary.

Pope Shows Support For Lawsuit Against Contraceptive Mandate

We spoke yesterday of Pope Francis making a subtle but unmistakable statement about the importance of religious freedom in America.  That message got a bit more direct today when the Pope made an unscheduled visit to the Little Sisters of the Poor convent located next door to the basilica where he canonized St. Junipero Serra.

The location was no coincidence, as the Little Sisters filed a lawsuit in 2013 to prevent the Obama administration from forcing them to provide free contraception to their employees.  If anyone doubted the connection between the visit and court case, the Vatican made it clear.

“This is a sign, obviously, of support for them,” said Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican Press Secretary.

Pope(Photo: Little Sisters of the Poor)

That support is crucial, because the Little Sisters lost the latest round of their court case just three weeks ago when the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to grant them a rehearing.  Fortunately, five of the judges wrote a strong dissent which may form the basis for a Supreme Court decision going the other way:

The opinion of the panel majority is clearly and gravely wrong on an issue that has little to do with contraception and a great deal to do with religious liberty. When a law demands that a person do something the person considers sinful, and the penalty for refusal is a large financial penalty, then the law imposes a substantial burden on that person’s free exercise of religion. All the plaintiffs in this case sincerely believe that they will be violating God’s law if they execute the documents required by the government.  And the penalty for refusal to execute the documents may be in the millions of dollars.

The Little Sisters continue to refuse to provide contraception while the case is on appeal to the Supreme Court.

Safeguarding the “precious possession” of religious liberty

Speaking at the White House on the first day of his visit to the United States, Pope Francis touched on what has been an area of great concerns for Christians across our nation over the past few years – the right to religious liberty.  As is necessary from a visiting dignitary of his stature, he referred to a domestic problem without directly criticizing his host:

Mr. President, together with their fellow citizens, American Catholics are committed to building a society which is truly tolerant and inclusive, to safeguarding the rights of individuals and communities, and to rejecting every form of unjust discrimination. With countless other people of good will, they are likewise concerned that efforts to build a just and wisely ordered society respect their deepest concerns and their right to religious liberty. That freedom remains one of America’s most precious possessions.

Judging by the actions of the current administration, this was a necessary and pointed reminder.  From forcing businesses to pay for contraceptive coverage to bankrupting companies who refuse to participate in same-sex weddings, it has been increasingly difficult to exercise religious freedom in America without serious consequences.  And the courts have been a mixed bag, with the Supreme Court standing tall in Hobby Lobby but lower federal courts upholding massive fines against businesses refusing same-sex services.  This battle will only continue in the years ahead.

Recognizing Our Jewish Friends and Allies On Yom Kippur

This evening marks the start of Yom Kippur, the final and most important of the Jewish High Holy Days.  The observance this year is particularly poignant given the efforts of Iran – a nation which continues to deny Israel’s right to exist – to acquire nuclear weapons.  This holy day represents an excellent time to reflect on the bravery required of Israel to stand as the only true Democracy in the Middle East in addition to being the homeland for the Jewish people.

So it was a welcome to see the United Nations recognize Israel in some small manner with its first ever traditional Tashlich ceremony, a part of Yom Kippur:

Tashlich, which means “to cast,” is an ancient Jewish ritual in which participants throw breadcrumbs into a body of water symbolically tossing away their sins. The ceremony usually takes place on the first day of Rosh Hashanah, but for the United Nations’s first-ever participation, the day before Yom Kippur worked just as well.

Unfortunately, the U.N. has yet to recognize Yom Kippur or any other Jewish holiday as part of its list of official holidays despite the inclusion of Christmas and both Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha.  Hopefully this official recognition, like much else owed to those Israelis who stand in the face of terrorism every day, will arrive in the year to come.

 

Is Iran already spending its profits from the nuclear deal?

It should come as little surprise that Iranian government, with billions of dollars in additional revenue coming as a consequence of the recent deal regarding its nuclear weapons program, has started spending more money on its favorite pastime – promoting regional instability through Islamist terrorist organizations:

Since the deal was signed, Iran has significantly increased its financial support for two of the largest terror groups in the region that have become political players, Hamas and Hezbollah. In the years before the deal was signed, the crippling sanctions limited this support, which had significantly diminished along with Iran’s economy.

This was a predictable response, and one anticipated in previous analysis of shortcomings of the current deal.  It is a shame that the current administration has given up on sanctions, as the financial restrictions in place were pushing Iran into an increasingly difficult fiscal situation.  Lifting the sanctions and allowing this Iranian windfall creates grave dangers for both America and its allies in the region.

Are Polls Exaggerating the Rise of Secularism?

Any number of recent polls have declared that the number of Americans who believe in God is declining – but how reliable are these surveys?

Even the polling result that has received the greatest attention in recent months needs to be considered critically. This is the headline about Americans becoming nonreligious—a story based on the rising proportion (especially among younger respondents) of Americans who have no or no particular religious affiliation. Careful reporting acknowledges that many of these ‘religious nones’ still believe in God…

It has become difficult for anyone to know when the results are correct and when they are not. News reports present poll results as if they are accurate and factual representations of what the American public believes and does. A more honest report would explain that 90 percent of those who should have been included in the poll were not included.

And this comes in an era of falling response rates and little transparency.  The chase for headlines is more important to many than presenting an accurate picture of faith in America.  Society is always changing, but that does not mean it is inevitably moving away from religious belief.  Those who believe should not be discouraged from having a voice in the public square, either by poll results or by those who rely on them in trying to impose secularism.

Why The Iran Deal Is A Bad Deal

TVCELI’s new white paper on the Iranian nuclear weapons agreement is finally out.  Our conclusions are straightforward:

Much has been said about the alternative to a deal being war, but the true alternative is a better deal — one that is enforceable and with serious consequences — if the Islamic Republic is unfaithful to the agreement. The crippling sanctions bringing Iran to the bargaining table must remain in place. Such a course of action would bolster the confidence of our allies in the region. Iran must recognize further its commitment to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Moreover, a clear policy stance indicating that the United States and NATO are both unwilling to tolerate a mass race for nuclear arms in the region will show Western unwillingness to fight a series of proxy wars under the threat of an Iranian nuclear umbrella. Such a line will be a critical first step in restoring confidence in America’s resolve in the region while offering a free hand in dealing with ISIL, permitting avenues for a UN-brokered peace in Syria while assuring our Turkish allies of America’s commitment to preserving stability in the region and denying Iranians the leverage they have used to force the issue this far.

Feel free to read the rest and share with friends.

The alternative to the Obama-Kerry brokered deal with Iran isn’t war — it’s a better deal, one with teeth that reinforces the realities of nuclear non-proliferation and emphasizes the need for stability in the region.

EMP Solar Blast Nearly Missed Earth in 2012

One of the real dangers about our exposed electrical grid isn’t from terrorists, some of that danger actually comes from perfectly natural events:

The bursts would have wreaked havoc on the Earth’s magnetic field, matching the severity of the 1859 Carrington event, the largest solar magnetic storm ever reported on the planet. That blast knocked out the telegraph system across the United States, according to University of California, Berkeley research physicist Janet Luhmann.

“Had it hit Earth, it probably would have been like the big one in 1859, but the effect today, with our modern technologies, would have been tremendous,” Luhmann said in a statement.

The EMP threat is very real, and still beyond some popularized books and television shows, little is being done on this vitally important issue.  Scientists and threat analysis have already determined that up to 80% of the nation’s population would starve in the event of an EMP strike, whether by a rogue nuclear missive over North America or a solar flare.  The threat is very real with grave consequences — and near misses should be red flags, not sighs of relief.

For pennies on the dollar, we can harden our core infrastructure and protect our families from the threat of EMP from natural events or terrorist action.

TVCELI will continue to keep our education efforts up-to-date and policy makers informed on next steps.

Posted in EMP