Archive for May 18th, 2006

‘Da Vinci Code’ Actor: Bible Should Have ‘Fiction’ Disclaimer

Thursday, May 18th, 2006

Whew-eee!! Did this guy step in it or what? He is going to get seriously blasted from a lot of people about this comment.

If “The Da Vinci Code” was already feeding the flames of controversy with its challenge to the basic tenets of Christianity, actor Ian McKellen managed to pour a refinery tank’s worth of gasoline on the fire on this morning’s ‘Today’ show, asserting that the Bible should carry a disclaimer saying that it is “fiction.” Video: Windows Media or Real Player, Plus audio MP3
Matt Lauer, in his second day “On The Road With The Code,” was in Cannes for the film festival, where the Code will have its debut. It has already been screened to some critics, who have given it decidedly mixed reviews.
As I reported here, NBC reporter Melissa Stark yesterday dipped a timid toe in the sea of controversy when she interviewed Code director Ron Howard, asking how he reacted to the controversy the movie has created . . . for the Church! Sounding more like a sensitivity trainer than a Hollywood director, Howard offered up some ambiguous prose about it being healthy thing for people to engage their beliefs.
Lauer took the bull of controversy more directly by the horns when he interviewed the cast and director Howard today. Said Lauer:
“There have been calls from some religious groups, they wanted a disclaimer at the beginning of this movie saying it is fiction because one of the themes in the book really knocks Christianity right on its ear, if Christ survived the crucifixion, he did not die for our sins and therefore was not resurrected. What I’m saying is, people wanted this to say ‘fiction, fiction, fiction’. How would you all have felt if there was a disclaimer at the beginning of the movie? Would it have been okay with you?”
There was a pause, and then famed British actor Ian McKellen [Gandalf of Lord of the Rings], piped up:
“Well, I’ve often thought the Bible should have a disclaimer in the front saying this is fiction. I mean, walking on water, it takes an act of faith. And I have faith in this movie. Not that it’s true, not that it’s factual, but that it’s a jolly good story. And I think audiences are clever enough and bright enough to separate out fact and fiction, and discuss the thing after they’ve seen it.”
With the camera focused on McKellen, one could hear a distinctly nervous laugh in the background, seeming to come from either actor Tom Hanks or director Howard. McKellen’s stunning bit of blasphemy is likely to test the adage that all publicity is good publicity.

Update: MRC’s Brent Baker has noted that ABC’s World News Tonight has picked up on the story.
Jake Tapper: “Today at the Cannes film festival in France, the creators of the film tried to quell the controversy.”
Tom Hanks: “This is not a documentary. This is not something that is pulled up and says, ‘these are the facts. And this is exactly what happened.'”
Tapper: “Though one actor’s comment seems likely to only inflame matters.”
Ian McKellan on NBC’s Today: “Well, I’d often thought the Bible should have a disclaimer at the front saying, ‘this is fiction.'”
Finkelstein, recently a guest on the Lars Larson Show, lives in the liberal haven of Ithaca, NY, where he hosts the award-winning public-access TV show ‘Right Angle’. Contact him at mark@gunhill.net

GOP Could Lose Congress, White House on Immigration

Thursday, May 18th, 2006

It does appear that this is the issue that will decide if the Republicans stay in power or not. Maybe they’ll get the message in time. Maybe not…

(CNSNews.com) – Many Republicans and some media outlets are praising the immigration proposals outlined by President Bush. But some conservative leaders warned Tuesday that the administration’s insistence on a so-called “guest worker” program for illegal aliens could cost the GOP control of Congress later this year and that the alleged arrogance behind the proposal could put a Democrat in the White House in 2008.
President Bush’s plan, explained in a nationally televised speech Monday night, included a “guest worker” program for illegal aliens and the use of National Guard troops along the border until more Border Patrol agents can be trained and deployed.

Many Republican leaders complimented the president.
“He understands the issue possibly better than just about anyone given his experience as governor of Texas,” Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R-N.Y.) told the New York Sun.
“The President’s plan is a serious and important first step in rebuilding the confidence of the American people that we can secure our border,” Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) told The [Tennessee] Chattanoogan.
But Richard Viguerie — the chairman of ConservativeHQ.com, who is credited with creating the political direct mail industry that helps fund the conservative movement — told Cybercast News Service what the president calls a “guest worker” program is just amnesty for illegal aliens, and that “conservatives feel that they have been insulted by the president.
“He may get his way, but he won’t get it this year. He may get it next year because the conservatives will be so angry at the Republican leadership – starting with the president, but the congressional Republicans also – that I’d be surprised if many, many don’t stay home, turning the congress over to the Democrats,” Viguerie cautioned.
“And, of course, the Democrats, next year, would give the president what he wants because then they’ll be able to govern America for the rest of the 21st Century [with the support of former illegal aliens who had become newly-legalized voters].”
In his “End of Day” daily email newsletter to supporters, former Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer, who now heads the “American Values” conservative advocacy group, summarized the reaction of his constituents to Bush’s proposal.
“I understand the overnight ‘snapshot’ polling data on the president’s proposal was pretty good, but I cannot say the same for the reaction of conservatives,” Bauer wrote. “Your messages to me were overwhelmingly negative, suggesting you view this plan as little more than a ‘dressed up amnesty’ bill.”
Steve Elliott, president of Grassfire.org, an online network of grassroots conservatives with more than one million participants, also believes support for the Bush proposal could cost Republicans in the short and long term.
“If the Senate chooses to resist the voice of the citizens of this country and pass an amnesty bill, there will be repercussions that I think will extend to November and beyond,” Elliott predicted.
Viguerie rejected the notion that Democrats, if they regained control of Congress, could do more damage to the conservative agenda than a less-than-supportive president.
“We can’t go through life living as if the ‘boogey man’ is going to get us, which is what the big-government, left-of-center Republicans are always saying,” Viguerie said. “We’re just sick of that, and I’m just tired of that, being treated like a child … I’ve been hearing that all my life.”
As for conservatives’ ultimate ‘boogey man’ in the coming presidential election, Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), Viguerie rejects that threat, as well.
“We won’t have lost this country if Hillary becomes president,” Viguerie concluded. “It will be those who have betrayed and lied to their supporters. They will bear the responsibility, not those who were true to their principles.”

Bush ‘A.W.O.L.’ on conservative agenda
President Bush continues to insist that his “guest worker” proposal does not offer amnesty to illegal aliens.
“[W]e must face the reality that millions of illegal immigrants are here already,” the president said. “They should not be given an automatic path to citizenship. This is amnesty, and I oppose it.”
Elliott accused Bush of exhibiting a trait more commonly associated with former President Bill Clinton.
“They’re playing with the language,” Elliott said, recalling President Clinton’s famous quote debating the meaning of the word “is.”
“Amnesty is any program that grants legal status to people who are here illegally, whether that’s citizenship or a guest worker program, that’s amnesty,” Elliott insisted. “That’s what the American people call amnesty and the American people oppose amnesty.”
Viguerie believes President Bush’s words and actions on the immigration issue are symptomatic of a larger problem in the administration.
From a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman, to limiting the power of the federal government over religious institutions, to overturning the Supreme Court’s Roe versus Wade decision legalizing abortion at all stages of pregnancy, Viguerie feels Bush has abandoned the conservative agenda.
“Where is he? He’s A.W.O.L. in this,” Viguerie said. “Where are the evangelicals in this administration? Where are the religious right types?
“This president has surrounded himself with long-term, friendly, big-business types,” Viguerie continued. “I just don’t think he’s done anything except what his father did, which was give us lip service.”
Conservatives, Viguerie argued, must shift their focus from changing the minds of Republican leaders to replacing them with individuals who share, and will fight for conservative ideals.
“It’s just time that conservatives focus on building the conservative movement and taking over the Republican Party from those who have hijacked it,” Viguerie said. “We’ve done it before and we can do it again.”

Prolifers Galvanized by ‘Right to Abortion’ Move

Thursday, May 18th, 2006

“The Right to Have an Abortion”. I can’t speak for the international community, mostly because I spend most of my time disagreeing with them, but domestically, the document governing how things work in the U.S. is the United States Constitution.
Now internet search tools and PDF searchable documents are wonderful things. I have used both of these tools to search the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights for the word “abortion”. I must be doing something wrong, because the search always comes back with “…not found”.
Or maybe, just maybe, the word “abortion” doesn’t appear in these documents? Doesn’t that kind of shed some doubt on the theory that a person “has a right to an abortion”?

(CNSNews.com) – A major human rights organization’s decision to consider dropping its neutral stance on abortion — and to promote a “right” to abortion instead — is making waves around the world.
Campaigners are urging prolifers who support the organization to make their views known.
Amnesty International’s existing policy on “sexual and reproductive rights” is that it “takes no position on whether or not women have a right to choose to terminate unwanted pregnancies; there is no generally accepted right to abortion in international human rights law.”
At an international council meeting in Mexico next year, Amnesty International will decide whether to abandon neutrality, declare abortion an international human right, and consequently start advocating for it.
Between now and then, national branches are consulting with members and discussing the proposal. Britain and New Zealand have both already decided to support it.
In Britain, a recent annual meeting of Amnesty International passed a motion supporting the decriminalization of abortion. “The full realization of human rights should be understood to mean that a woman’s right to physical and mental integrity includes a right to (a) information on the risks of abortion (b) legal safe and accessible abortion should she choose to have an abortion,” it said.
AI members at that same meeting also voted down two alternative motions — one saying that the branch “should take no position on the issue of abortion,” and the other saying “the AGM decides to maintain its current neutral policy on abortion … in order to continue supporting the fundamental principal of the right to life of every human person.”
The British and Irish prolife group Precious Life accused the branch of hypocrisy, saying it had “turned its back on human rights, the very thing they have campaigned to protect for over forty years.”
“Abortion can never be described as a ‘right,’ ” the group said in a statement. “Abortion is a needless act of violence that kills babies and hurts women.”
Precious Life is urging AI members to leave unless the group starts campaigning to protect the right to life of unborn children.
Another U.K. campaign group, United for Life, said it had written several letters to AI leading up to the AGM.
Among other points, United for Life’s Chris Mason noted that AI was opposed to capital punishment. Yet, he said, in an abortion the unborn are also sentenced to “the death penalty simply because they exist or because they are disabled.”
In New Zealand, Right to Life spokesman Ken Orr responded to his country’s branch decision by saying it would be a tragedy if Amnesty at an international level adopted abortion as a “human right.”
He noted that the group claimed to support the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states “the child … needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection, before as well as after birth.”
In New York, Austin Ruse of the Catholic Family Human Rights Institute argued this week that AI promoting abortion as an international human right “would be a disaster for the unborn.”
“This kind of change will put the lives of unborn children into the hands of one of the most powerful groups in the world,” he said. “They can throw the weight of the international legal community against the unborn.
“They will bring suits in the national courts and international courts. They will bring small countries before the United Nations and begin shaming campaigns in the New York Times, the London Times and elsewhere.”
Christians in Canada, where the AI branch will hold its AGM next weekend, are also unhappy about the move.
Roman Catholic Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary told the Canadian prolife site LifeSiteNews.com that the proposal for AI to start advocating for abortion was “an ill-conceived and gross betrayal of their mission to campaign for human rights.”
Henry said he personally planned to end financial contributions to AI.
The site also quoted an Evangelical Fellowship of Canada representative as saying the move could have an impact on evangelicals’ support for AI.
In India, Archbishop Oswald Gracias of the Conference of Catholic Bishops said the “much respected” AI had long been “known for protecting human rights of all, more particularly of weaker sections of the society.”
If it made the proposed change, he said, “it would mean that Amnesty International is bidding good-bye to human rights.”

Immigration, Legal Groups Rebuff Mexican Lawsuit Threat

Thursday, May 18th, 2006

Oh look everyone…the ACLU is ready to sue us (the U.S.) to help Mexico. This is getting out of hand when a country can’t even protect it’s own borders. Other countries don’t have this problem. Want to know why? They have closed borders and people get arrested, do jail time and then get deported if they enter illegally. C’mom Mr. Bush and the congress…how hard is this issue to understand?

(CNSNews.com) – The Mexican government is threatening to sue the U.S. government in response to President Bush’s pledge to deploy National Guard troops along the U.S. border, according to an online opinion column.
An immigration reform group responded Wednesday, saying that Mexico should stay out of U.S. domestic policy; and a legal advocacy group said the Mexican government was more likely to secretly fund lawsuits by individual illegal aliens than to challenge the U.S. directly.
Jim Kouri, a security expert and staff writer for TheRealityCheck.org, warned in a column that the Bush administration could face a federal lawsuit over its plan to use National Guard troops to supplement Border Patrol agents.
“A representative from Mexican President Vicente Fox claims that if the U.S. National Guard troops detain illegal aliens crossing the U.S.-Mexico border, the Fox government will file a lawsuit against the Bush Administration in U.S. federal court,” Kouri wrote. “There are some political observers who believe that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is preparing to assist the Mexican government in such a lawsuit.”
Ira Mehlman, media director for the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), told Cybercast News Service that the Mexican government should mind its own business.
“The United States needs to make it clear to Mexico and to every foreign government, that our immigration policy is a domestic matter and that we’re not going to tolerate interference by foreign governments,” Mehlman said. “No country has the right to dictate or make demands when it comes to the domestic policies of the United States, just as we have no right to dictate their policies.”
Tom Fitton, president of the public advocacy law firm Judicial Watch, said it is one thing to threaten a lawsuit and quite another to actually pursue one in court.
“We all say we want to sue. The question is: ‘Can they? And, is there standing?'” Fitton said. “It would be, more likely, a diplomatic issue at that level.”

Mehlman agreed.
“I would doubt that [Mexico] has legal standing, but you never know what kind of creative decisions the courts can come up with or what the ACLU might try,” Mehlman said. “There’s no historical or legal basis for standing when it comes to foreign governments suing the United States over its immigration policies. I’m not even sure that it’s a case that could be taken before the World Court, much less a court here in the United States.”
Fitton believes that “it’s highly unlikely that the government of Mexico would sue directly over the deployment of the National Guard.
“It’s more likely that Mexican nationals would receive legal support, paid for by the Mexican government, if they challenged their detention by the National Guard, or any other new border enforcement that Mexico wants to challenge,” Fitton explained.
“The way Mexican government works is, they fund legal representation for the illegal immigrant community on some of these matters and that’s the likely vehicle for any challenges, if there are any here.”
This is not the first time, according to FAIR, that a Mexican official has reportedly threatened a lawsuit against the U.S. government or one of its citizens.
“Mexican Foreign Minister Luis Ernesto Derbez has threatened the U.S. government and individual U.S. citizens with various lawsuits,” FAIR reported. “When Arizona citizens approved Proposition 200 in November 2004, restricting access to state benefits for illegal aliens, Derbez threatened to sue the State of Arizona in U.S. District Court, disregarding the necessary legal standing.”
Additionally, Derbez threatened to bring legal action against the neighborhood watch-style group known as the Minutemen Project when they began patrolling the southern U.S. border earlier this year.

ACLU criticizes Bush in advance for actions he did not propose
The ACLU published a press release before President Bush’s announcement on May 15th, calling on Congress and the president “to reject any measures that fail to uphold the letter and spirit of our laws and encourag[ing] lawmakers to adopt immigration reform that protects the freedom and privacy of all in America.
“Turning immigration enforcement policy into another military operation is not the answer,” the ACLU wrote. “The president’s proposed deployment of National Guard troops violates the spirit of the Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits the military from getting into the business of civilian law enforcement.”
The Posse Comitatus Act (18 USC 1385) does prohibit military involvement in civilian law enforcement, “except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress.”
\sa240 An analysis of the law by the U.S. Coast Guard notes that in 1981, a companion law was enacted “clarifying permissible military assistance to civilian law enforcement agencies–including the Coast Guard–especially in combating drug smuggling into the United States. Posse Comitatus clarifications emphasize supportive and technical assistance (e.g., use of facilities, vessels, aircraft, intelligence, tech aid, surveillance, etc.) while generally prohibiting direct participation of [Department of Defense] personnel in law enforcement (e.g., search, seizure, and arrests).”
During his presentation Monday night, President Bush seemed to preempt the ACLU’s complaint, calling for 6,000 National Guard members to be deployed along the southern U.S. border, “in coordination with governors.”
“The Border Patrol will remain in the lead. The Guard will assist the Border Patrol by operating surveillance systems, analyzing intelligence, installing fences and vehicle barriers, building patrol roads and providing training,” Bush said. “Guard units will not be involved in direct law enforcement activities — that duty will be done by the Border Patrol.”

Re-Post: CDC: Center for Disease Confusion

Thursday, May 18th, 2006

(AgapePress) – There is no doubt that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is involved in heroics on a daily basis. At the mention of the CDC, the mind conjures up pictures of people in white body suits racing across the world to halt the Ebola virus, sweeping Congressional offices for anthrax spores or carrying dead birds to the lab for studies on the mutations of the bird flu virus.
Click on the CDC Special Pathogens Branch web page, and you will find a long list of deadly and dangerous viruses ready to assault your body and do serious harm. Filoviruses, Hendra Virus, Hantavirus, Nipah Virus … you get the picture. We are lucky to have the CDC.
However, like all people and all organizations built on people, the CDC is not perfect. It is courageous, yes. And it is political, yes.
The Ebola virus is deadly. Thankfully, though, it is an equal opportunity attacker. An Ebola virus can spy any rather ordinary person just walking down the street … and attack. Suddenly you have an epidemic. No politics are involved. We, in turn, attack the virus with full vigor: quarantines, isolation wards, protective gear complete with masks and goggles.
The HIV virus is deadly. Unfortunately, though, it doesn’t need to attack. Instead, it enters the body with a special human invitation through sexual acts that send shivers of ecstasy through a person right along with the virus. Most unfortunately, using sex as its entry portal, the HIV virus … and the long list of over 25 other sexually transmitted infections … is political.
From the very beginning in the 1980s when the HIV virus was first identified, politics took control of the CDC and healthcare systems’ strategies in fighting AIDS. The CDC was beset from all sides. Panic gripped the nation. How would we stop this deadly disease?
Many mysteries surrounded the virus, making the formulation of a public health policy difficult. Yet one thing was crystal clear: men practicing homosexual sex were at risk and in danger.
In the 1980s, the CDC chose a course of action partly medical and largely political. To avoid offending gay activists, it did not invoke its prerogative to close down gay bath clubs and condemn promiscuous and clearly risky sexual behaviors. Instead, it held out its departmental hand with a truckload of condoms, coining the clearly non-medical nor non-scientific term, safe sex.
This satisfied the desires of a country weaned on free sex from the 60s. It also placated a mainstream media that was busily crafting the finer points of politically correct news writing based on redefining and outlawing words that offended liberal sensibilities. Best yet, it delighted free sex advocates who touted the first billboard for Trojan condoms as a modern benchmark of enlightenment.
Twenty years later, we are struggling to deal with a major health crisis that has taken hold of our children. The effects of the free sex revolution have finally forced the CDC to retract promises of safe sex. Yet, the retraction is half-hearted and imbued with politics.
The same mainstream media that sharpens its teeth on the bones of right-wing, radical, religious, fanatical victims it has been throwing to the lions for 20 years cannot be trusted to illuminate the dialogue on sexual behaviors with truth. Even today, journalists continue to describe risky sexual practices with the medically inaccurate term safe sex. “Enlightened” journalists have repackaged promises of safe sex in ambiguous (and politically safe) terminology such as safer sex and protected sex.
Why is this important for the average citizen to understand? Because it is the foundation for confusion based on the use of politics to script a medical response to the medical crisis facing our children — adolescent sex.
What is the politically correct method of talking sex to our children? Unfortunately for our children, the lead agency in politically correct medicine today is an agency that has every reason to know better … the CDC.

Next week — CDC: One Eye Closed
A former elementary school teacher, Jane Jimenez (speakout@fromthehomefront.org) is now a freelance writer dedicated to issues of importance to women and the family. She writes a regular column titled “From the Home Front.” Her work has appeared in both Christian and secular publications. Jane and her husband Victor live in Phoenix and have two children.