New visitors center will document religious heritage
Documentation of the Christian heritage of the United States will be restored, at least partly, to a new $600 million Capitol Visitors Center in Washington which earlier had been scrubbed of references to the religious faith and influences of the Founding Fathers. WND reported several weeks ago when it was revealed that the center, with acres of marble floors and walls, photographs of Earth Day, information about an AIDS rally and details about industry, would not include America's Christian heritage. The plans drew objections from members of Congress and even drew an inquiry from Chuck Norris about whether he could help fix it.
The new 580,000-square-foot center, mostly built underneath the grounds just east of the U.S. Capitol to protect the scenic views of the historic building, is about three-quarters the size of the Capitol itself, has exhibition galleries, theaters, a 550-seat cafeteria, gift shops and myriad other features. But according to members of Congress, the project run by the office of the architect of the Capitol was on course to lack a full picture of the U.S.
Rep. J. Randy Forbes, R-Va., organized a letter eventually signed by 108 members of Congress expressing concern the historical content simply was inaccurate. Now he's announced that the Committee on House Administration and the Senate Rules and Administration Committee have agreed to include references to the nation's religious history in the new project. "Historical buildings like the Capitol Visitor Center are there to tell the story of our nation. When religious history is removed from these displays, the American public is not able to observe an accurate depiction of our nation's story," said Forbes. "We are pleased that the Committee on House Administration and Senate Rules Committee have acknowledged this important part of our nation's history and have agreed to correct the omission of historical religious content in the Capitol Visitor Center."
He continued, "Thousands of visitors will walk through the Capitol Visitor Center each day, and the efforts of the Congressional Prayer Caucus and the 108 Members of Congress that have joined in this issue will enable those visitors to experience an accurate depiction of our nation's heritage." He said among the changes that have been approved are:
* References to the nation's motto will be clarified so that visitors don't misunderstand it to be "E Pluribus Unum" instead of "In God We Trust."
* That the words "In God We Trust" be engraved in stone in a prominent location within the Capitol Visitor Center and that the panel describing the engraving include the proper recognition of this phrase as the national motto.
* That the Pledge of Allegiance be engraved in stone in a prominent location within the Capitol Visitor Center.
The members of Congress had expressed concern the center was delivering inaccurate and incomplete information, including the omission of the national motto and mistakes regarding Christian church services held in the actual Capitol as well as the excising of references to "religion, morality, and knowledge" in the Northwest Ordinance.
According to Forbes, officials also have agreed to the research and development of a permanent religious history display and have agreed to make every effort to erect the display as soon as possible.
Revisionist attempts to remove God and Christianity from America's history in Washington have been documented by WND's coverage of the work of Todd DuBord, the former pastor at Lake Almanor Community Church in California. He now serves as a special chaplain for Chuck Norris' organizations. Dubord was leading trips of tourists to Washington and nearby areas to review the nation's Christian heritage when he started noticing what appeared to be a deliberate campaign to remove references to the Bible and Christianity.
He revealed when tour guides at the U.S. Supreme Court building called depictions of the Ten Commandments the "Ten Amendments," and he followed up by disclosing a number of other apparently related efforts to wipe Christianity from U.S. history, including efforts at Jefferson's Monticello, where tour guides told him they were unable to talk about the religious influences there. He later documented how officials at the Washington Monument had placed a replica of the 100-ounce solid aluminum capstone, which is inscribed with the Latin "Praise Be to God," so that visitors could not read the words and a resulting investigation by the National Park Service prompted a change in that procedure. His large body of research, including documentation and photographs, now has been assembled on his website, NationalTreasures.org.
WND also has reported on efforts to make history politically correct, such as calling Europeans' arrival in North America an "invasion," for the 400th anniversary of the Jamestown Settlement last year, even though the first goal of those sent out to America was to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Forbes also has worked with the Congressional Prayer Caucus, whose members' signatures were among those on the letter, to restore "references to our religious heritage in the past." Officials running the Capitol also have tried to strip the mention of God from flag-folding ceremonies at veterans' funerals and previously attempted to edit "God" from congressional flag certificates, which are statements issued with flags that have been flown over the Capitol.
Forcing homosexual acceptance on little kids in California
A California school system refuses to say what action, if any, it will take after it received complaints about a kindergarten teacher who encouraged her students to sign "pledge cards" in support of gays.
During a celebration of National Ally Week, Tara Miller, a teacher at the Faith Ringgold School of Arts and Science in Hayward, Calif., passed out cards produced by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network to her class of kindergartners. The cards asked signers to be "an ally" and to pledge to "not use anti-LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) language or slurs; intervene, when I feel I can, in situations where others are using anti-LGBT language or harassing other students and actively support safer schools efforts."
The school has acknowledged that the exercise was not appropriate for kindergartners. Parent Adela Voelker, who declined to be interviewed in depth for this report, said she was furious when she found her child's signature on one of the cards. She said she contacted a non-profit legal defense organization specializing in parents' rights. Meanwhile, a school board member, Jeff Cook, says some type of action should be taken. "We have a general rule that all instruction should be age appropriate, and this clearly was not," said Cook, who has served on the school board for five years.
Val Joyner, a school district spokeswoman, told FOXNews.com in an e-mail that when deciding what to teach on this subject matter, educators "gather materials from community agencies and other education groups" and that "the materials have grade level indicators which help determine what is age-appropriate." The district said the pledge cards were intended for middle school and high school students. Asked last week if the district planned to take action against Miller, Joyner said she would have to look into the incident. On Thursday she told FOXNews.com that she did not have an answer for the question and that she would no longer be doing any media interviews.
Joyner said in an e-mail that Miller, the teacher, "planned to teach students how to become an ally and conflict-mediation through various activities." She added that the district doesn't advocate for a specific cause and/or lifestyle, and it has "no curriculum for gay, lesbian and transgender lifestyles." The district employs a "Professional Learning Specialist: Equity," who is in charge of gathering material and helping teachers decide what should be taught on the subject matter.
Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, the group representing Voelker, said parents at the Faith Ringgold School weren't notified of what was going to take place in the classroom. He said that teaching students as young as pre-school about gay, lesbian and transgender issues is common in California, but that there are "all kinds of material the average parent could find highly objectionable or potentially harmful" to their children. When asked if the school district did anything wrong, he said, "possibly," but he declined to go into detail or say whether Voelker would sue the district.
Dacus would not comment specifically on whether children who signed the pledge could be held responsible if the school determined that they were not honoring it. He said they are minors and there are certain degrees of limited liability, but from a psychological and emotional perspective, it's a whole different ballgame. "[There is] tremendous peer pressure put on children to accept a pro-homosexual philosophy and attitude," Dacus said.
Meanwhile, opponents of gay marriage are up in arms over the incident, which occurred as California voters prepare to vote Tuesday on Proposition 8, which would overturn the state Supreme Court's ruling legalizing gay marriage. "How do you teach a 5-year-old to sign a pledge card for lesbian, gay and transgender issues without explaining what transgender and bisexual is?" asked Sonja Eddings Brown, a spokeswoman for Protect Marriage California.
Obama rips U.S. Constitution
Faults Supreme Court for not mandating 'redistribution of wealth'
Seven years before Barack Obama's "spread the wealth" comment to Joe the Plumber became a GOP campaign theme, the Democratic presidential candidate said in a radio interview the U.S. has suffered from a fundamentally flawed Constitution that does not mandate or allow for redistribution of wealth. In a newly unearthed tape, Obama is heard telling Chicago's public station WBEZ-FM in 2001 that "redistributive change" is needed, pointing to what he regarded as a failure of the U.S. Supreme Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren in its rulings on civil rights issues in the 1960s.
The Warren court, he said, failed to "break free from the essential constraints" in the U.S. Constitution and launch a major redistribution of wealth. But Obama, then an Illinois state lawmaker, said the legislative branch of government, rather than the courts, probably was the ideal avenue for accomplishing that goal. In the 2001 interview, Obama said:
If you look at the victories and failures of the civil rights movement and its litigation strategy in the court, I think where it succeeded was to invest formal rights in previously dispossessed people, so that now I would have the right to vote. I would now be able to sit at the lunch counter and order and as long as I could pay for it I'd be OKIn his top-rated national radio show today, Rush Limbaugh reacted to the tape. The Constitution, he said, "most certainly does spell out things it must do on your behalf. He understands it. He just doesn't like it." "He's talking about giving things to people," Limbaugh said. "This is perverted. Some people call this radical. I call it perverted. "To me, ladies and gentlemen, the Constitution is a gift from God. It's not a disappointment; it's a blessing," he said.
But, the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and of more basic issues such as political and economic justice in society. To that extent, as radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn't that radical. It didn't break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution, at least as it's been interpreted, and the Warren Court interpreted in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. Says what the states can't do to you. Says what the federal government can't do to you, but doesn't say what the federal government or state government must do on your behalf.
And that hasn't shifted and one of the, I think, tragedies of the civil rights movement was because the civil rights movement became so court-focused I think there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalition of powers through which you bring about redistributive change. In some ways we still suffer from that.
Limbaugh cited unrepentant terrorist William Ayers, with whom Obama has had a relationship for many years, as well as Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the former pastor under whose teaching Obama attended church for two decades. Ayers has stated his Weather Underground didn't accomplish enough in the bombings on the U.S. Capitol and other locations, and Wright has called on God to d*** America. "I'm beginning to wonder just who taught whom," Limbaugh said. "How much did Obama teach Ayers, Jeremiah Wright. Obama didn't have to hear what Jeremiah Wright was saying, Obama may have half written those sermons."
The change sought by Obama, however, simply couldn't be accomplished through court action, the Democrat said in the 2001 interview. "The court's not very good at it," he said. "I'm not optimistic about bringing about major redistributive change through the courts. You know, the institution just isn't structured that way." "You start getting into all sorts of separation of powers issues, the court . engaging in a process that essentially is administrative," he said.
A commentator on the website American Thinker said Obama "wishes to scrap the limits placed on government powers because they get in the way of his redistributive schemes." "What powers are we talking about? Private property rights for one. Since property is distributed 'unequally' in Obama's world, policies must be shaped and laws passed to deal with that situation."
GOP presidential candidate John McCain's campaign stated the tape proves Obama is too liberal for the White House. "Now we know that the slogans 'change you can believe in' and 'change we need' are code words for Barack Obama's ultimate goal: 'redistributive change,'" said McCain-Palin senior policy adviser Doug Holtz-Eakin.
But the Obama campaign called the statements just another distraction. "In this interview back in 2001, Obama was talking about the civil rights movement - and the kind of work that has to be done on the ground to make sure that everyone can live out the promise of equality. Make no mistake, this has nothing to do with Obama's economic plan or his plan to give the middle class a tax cut. It's just another distraction from an increasingly desperate McCain campaign," spokesman Bill Burton said.
However, reaction to Obama's comments reached around the globe. In the Telegraph newspaper of London, Toby Harnden said the 2001 remarks are consistent with Obama's recent statement to the now iconic Joe the Plumber in Ohio, that "when you spread the wealth around it's a good thing for everybody." "Although his remarks were heavily analytical and academic," Harndon said of the 2001 interview, Obama "spoke warmly of the notion of redistributing wealth, suggesting that there were other vehicles that the courts to achieve it."
Limbaugh commented, "We know Joe (the Plumber) got Obama to reveal himself." But what would be next? "Would he quote Marx? Would he demand change in the spirit of the Soviet Union? Would he ask us to have Constitution-burning parties?" Limbaugh said.
Limbaugh contended, however, that the "redistribution" was just a distraction. "It's part of a process where the government confiscates private property and uses it to secure their own power. It's not about fairness," Limbaugh said. "They buy votes with the money they confiscate." He continued, "Redistribution is the least frightening part of socialism. What comes after and before is what shocks like a Taser."
The weblog Right Pundits.com said, "In other words, he sees our money as belonging to the government. He wants to take our money and he will decide how to spend it."
We Don't Need Another War on Poverty
The last one was a disaster
Do our cities need another War on Poverty? Barack Obama thinks so. Speaking before the U.S. Conference of Mayors this June, the Democratic standard-bearer promised to boost spending on public schools, urban infrastructure, affordable housing, crime prevention, job training, and community organizing. The mayors, joined by many newspaper editorial pages, have echoed Obama in calling for vast new federal spending on cities. All of this has helped rejuvenate the old argument that America's urban areas are victims of Washington's neglect and that it's up to the rest of the country (even though most Americans are now metro-dwellers) to bail them out.
Nothing could be more misguided than to renew this "tin-cup urbanism," as some have called it. Starting in the late 1960s, mayors in struggling cities extended their palms for hundreds of billions of federal dollars that accomplished little good and often worsened the problems that they sought to fix. Beginning in the early nineties, however, a small group of reform-minded mayors--with New York's Rudy Giuliani and Milwaukee's John Norquist in the vanguard--jettisoned tin-cup urbanism and began developing their own bottom-up solutions to city problems. Their innovations made cities safer, put welfare recipients to work, and offered kids in failing school systems new choices, bringing about an incomplete, but very real, urban revival.
Yet this reform movement remains anathema to many liberal politicians, academics, and journalists, who have ignored or tried to downplay its achievements because it conflicts with their left-of-center views. The arrival on the scene of Obama, a former Chicago community activist and the first presidential nominee in recent memory to rise out of urban politics, has given these back-to-the-future voices their best chance in years to advance a liberal War on Poverty-style agenda. As the nation debates its future in the current presidential race, it's crucial to remember what has worked to revive cities--and what hasn't.
The original War on Poverty, launched by the Johnson administration in the mid-sixties, was based on the assumption that Washington had to rescue American cities from precipitous--indeed, catastrophic--decline. It's important to remember that the cities themselves helped propel that decline. Political machines had long run the cities, and they imposed increasingly high taxes and throttling regulations on employers and often entrusted key government agencies, including police departments, to patronage appointees. The cities' industrial might protected them from serious downturns for a time. But as transportation advances beginning in the 1950s enabled businesses to relocate to less expensive suburbs or newer Sunbelt cities, and did so just as a generation of poor, uneducated blacks from the rural South began migrating to the urban North, the corrupt and inefficient machines proved unable to cope with the resulting economic and demographic shock. Urban poverty worsened (even as poverty was shrinking dramatically elsewhere); crime exploded; public schools, dominated by reform-resistant, inflexible teachers' unions, became incubators of failure, with staggering dropout rates for minority students; and middle-class city dwellers soon followed businesses out of town. Some industrial cities, scarred further by horrific race riots during the sixties, crumbled into near-ruins.
Yet the War on Poverty's legislative architects ignored the cities' own failings and instead embraced the theories of left-wing intellectuals, who argued that the external forces arrayed against the poor, such as racism or globalization, were simply too overwhelming to address on the local level. "Officials and residents in urban communities are losing control of their cities to outside forces," warned urban planners Edward Kaitz and Herbert Harvey Hyman in their book Urban Planning for Social Welfare. "Cities are relatively powerless." The answer was federal intervention. Columbia University's Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward gained an influential following among policymakers by arguing that an unjust and racist nation owed massive government aid to the poor and mostly minority residents of struggling cities. Further, to compel those residents to work in exchange for help, or even to make them attend programs that might boost self-reliance, was to violate their civil liberties.
The War on Poverty, motivated by such toxic ideas, transformed welfare from temporary assistance into a lifelong stipend with few strings attached. As everyone knows, welfare rolls then skyrocketed, increasing 125 percent from 1965 to 1970 alone, and an entrenched generational underclass of poor families emerged. Typically, they lived in dysfunctional public housing projects--many of them built as another battle in the War--that radiated blight to surrounding neighborhoods. The federal government created a series of huge initiatives, from Medicaid and Head Start to food stamps and school lunch programs, that spent billions of dollars trying to fight urban poverty. And then, to attack the "root causes" of poverty (whatever they were), the feds spent billions more on local social-services agencies, which ran ill-defined programs with vague goals like "community empowerment" that did nothing to alleviate poverty.
Despite years of effort and gargantuan transfusions of money, the federal government lost its War on Poverty. "In 1968 . . . 13 percent of Americans were poor," wrote Charles Murray in his unstinting examination of antipoverty programs, Losing Ground. "Over the next 12 years, our expenditures on social welfare quadrupled. And in 1980, the percentage of poor Americans was--13 percent."
These programs did, however, produce a seismic shift in the way mayors viewed their cities--no longer as sources of dynamism and growth, as they had been for much of the nation's history, but instead as permanent, sickly wards of the federal government. In fact, as the problems of cities like Cleveland and New York festered and metastasized, mayors blamed the sickness on the federal government's failure to do even more. Norquist recalled a U.S. Conference of Mayors session held in the aftermath of the 1992 Los Angeles riots. "There was almost a feeling of glee among some mayors who attended: finally the federal government would realize it had to do something for cities."
Even as tin-cup urbanism prevailed, however, some mayors began arguing for a different approach, based on the belief that cities could master their own futures. The nineties became an era of fruitful urban-policy experimentation. For instance, well before the federal welfare reform of 1996, various cities and counties, most notably Giuliani's New York and Norquist's Milwaukee (encouraged strongly by Wisconsin governor Tommy Thompson), not only set limits on welfare eligibility for the programs that they administered for the feds but also pursued a "work-first" policy that got able-bodied welfare recipients back into the workplace as swiftly as possible. Welfare rolls plummeted--in New York City, from 1.1 million in the early nineties to about 465,000 by 2001--and childhood poverty numbers decreased.
State and local legislators, often prodded by inner-city parents, also sought new ways to provide urban minority kids with a decent education. In Milwaukee, a former welfare mother, enraged that her children had no option other than the terrible public schools, helped push a school-voucher bill through the Wisconsin state legislature, letting disadvantaged students use public money to attend private schools. Most states passed laws enabling private groups to set up charter schools unencumbered by many of the union-backed rules found in public school systems, such as restrictions on firing lousy teachers. Today, some 4,300 charter schools, many in big cities, educate 1.2 million kids nationally--and most are performing, studies show, better than nearby public schools.
The era's most impressive urban reform improved public safety. Under Giuliani and his first police commissioner, William Bratton, New York City famously embraced Broken Windows policing, in which cops enforced long-dormant laws against public disorder, fostering a new climate of respect for the right of all citizens to use public spaces. The nineties' NYPD also introduced computer technology that tracked and mapped shifting crime patterns, so that police could respond quickly whenever and wherever crime spiked upward, and new accountability measures to ensure that commanders followed through. Crime in New York has plummeted 70 percent since the implementation of these reforms--double the national decline. Other cities that have adopted similar policing methods, from Newark to East Orange, New Jersey, to Raleigh, North Carolina, have had big crime turnarounds., too.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, OBAMA WATCH (2), EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when blogger.com is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.