Odds and ends number 83

Subtitled, the post-election edition.

I have a number of items I collected over the last few weeks that I figured I would end up getting to after the election. Well, the election is over so now I can clean out the e-mail box with this handy feature.

Despite Donald Trump’s stated defense of Planned Parenthood (coupled with his vow to defund it) and shaky position on abortion, the head of the pro-life group Created Equal was pleased with the election results and their efforts in securing them.

“Now, we must hold our new president-elect accountable for his promises to defund Planned Parenthood, pass a 20-week ban, and nominate a Constitutionalist to the U.S. Supreme Court,” said Created Equal’s Mark Harrington.

Defunding Planned Parenthood will be a battle since Congress controls the purse strings and a Republican majority couldn’t get the job done in this edition of Congress. And as a reminder: they are funded through September 30, 2017 – the end of the federal fiscal year. Passing a 20-week ban and getting a pro-life SCOTUS justice will also be difficult with 48 Democrat Senators, although eight of them may want to keep in mind that Trump won their state and they are up for re-election two years hence. (In 2018 Democrats face the same minefield Republicans did this time: 23 of 33 Senate seats at stake are held by Democrats, along with two “independents” who caucus with the Democrats.) But I suspect the pro-life side will be disappointed with a President Trump; however, I never thought he would be President either so he may shock us all.

Another group angling for a payoff is my old friends at the American Alliance for Manufacturing, who are begging:

President-elect Trump and Congress must come together on much needed investment that will put Americans to work building and repairing our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. Stronger trade enforcement to address China’s massive overcapacity and a crackdown on countries trying to circumvent U.S. trade laws can boost manufacturing jobs.

Factory workers were more than a prop in this election. Now’s the time to deliver for them.

The signs are there that Trump may be their kind of President: we know he’s more hawkish on trade, and he’s planning on making it possible for up to $1 trillion in private-sector infrastructure investment over the next decade. But it takes two (or more) to tango on trade, so progress on that front may be slow. And the union-backed AAM may not be happy with the infrastructure plan if it doesn’t feature union-friendly rules and prevailing wage regulations. (Maybe this is a good time to repeal the Davis-Bacon Act? I doubt Congress has the guts to.)

But if you thought AAM wanted a tougher stance on trade, this diatribe came from Kevin Kearns, head of the U.S. Business & Industry Council:

Trump’s antagonists (on trade) are Wall Street institutions, multinational corporations, major business organizations, academic economists, editorial boards, business journalists, opinion writers, bloggers, and the generally knowledge-free mainstream media. All are opposed to Trump because they are wedded to a false, outdated “free trade” dogma, which has decimated the working and middle classes.

On Capitol Hill, a minority of Democrats and majority of Republicans are partial to the same free-trade theories. Speaker Paul Ryan admitted as much in his remarks on the election victory, noting that Trump alone had recognized the dire plight of average Americans.

I found it interesting that the LifeZette site has as its editor-in-chief Trump ally (and radio talk show host) Laura Ingraham. But this was the real payoff of the Kearns piece for me:

Trump must impose a Value-Added Tax of 18-20 percent applicable at the border to all imports. Over 150 of our trading partners use such taxes to make American exports pricier in their home markets. We should reciprocate.

So anything we import becomes 18 to 20 percent more expensive? Yeah, that will end well.

Another item in the election hopper was some attempted reform from another guy who I’ve oftentimes cited on my website, Rick Weiland. A “trifecta of reform” his group successfully put on the South Dakota ballot went 1-for-3 the other night. Measures for redistricting reform and non-partisan elections failed, but South Dakota voters narrowly passed a sweeping campaign finance reform package the state’s Attorney General said “may be challenged in court on constitutional grounds.”

Personally, I would have been fine with the two that failed in a broad sense – as a Maryland resident, I know all about partisan gerrymandering and would be interested to see how non-partisan elections pan out. (The duopoly would have a fit, I’m sure.) But this campaign finance reform was a bad idea from the get-go, and it tips the Democrats’ hand on how they would attack the Citizens United decision. One controversial facet of this new law would be a $9 per registered voter annual appropriation to pay for this public financing - such a law in Maryland would be a required annual $35 million appropriation from our General Fund. (The fund Larry Hogan used in his successful 2014 campaign was built with voluntary donations via a checkoff on income tax forms; a checkoff that was dormant for several years but was restored last year.)

And instead of “democracy credits” as this amendment proposed, a better idea would be one I believe Ohio still uses: a tax deduction of up to $50 for political donations. But I’m sure soon a South Dakota court (and maybe beyond) will be ruling on this one.

I also received some free post-election advice from the creators of iVoterGuide, which is an offshoot of a small Christian group called the Heritage Alliance (not to be confused with the Heritage Foundation.)

Pray specifically for the appointment of Godly people as our newly elected President selects his Cabinet and closest advisors.  Pray that the Administration, Senate and House will work together to honor life and liberty as set out in our constitution by our founding fathers.  Pray for ALL elected officials to humble themselves and seek God’s will for our nation.  We need to repent, individually and as a nation, and turn from policies contrary to God’s word.

Pray for unity and peace.  Our country is deeply divided. Christians must truly start loving our neighbors as ourselves so that there can be a spiritual awakening.  Now is not a time to gloat but to turn our hearts continually toward God so we can be examples of His love and work toward reconciliation and unity.  Pray for all nations, as a new stage is being set both nationally and internationally.

I think I can handle that. Oddly enough, this was also a subject of our Bible study prayer group Wednesday – maybe one or more of them is on this e-mail list, too. As for iVoterGuide, what they need is a larger state-level base as Maryland and Delaware aren’t among the handful of states they cover (it’s mostly federal.)

As iVoterGuide‘s executive director Debbie Wuthnow concludes, “we ask you pray about how God wants you to be involved in retaining the freedoms He has so graciously granted us.” I suspect I’m going in the right direction here but one never knows what doors open up.

I was originally going to add some energy-related items to this mix, but I think I will hold them until later this week for a reason which will become apparent. There’s one other subset of items I’m going to have fun with tomorrow – I would consider them odds but not ends. And so it goes.

Speaking up for the unborn

There is a group out there called Created Equal that has piqued my interest since they fight for those who truly have no choice because their right to life is denied to them by their mother’s decision to abort her pregnancy. Based out of Columbus, Ohio, they realize that ground zero for their fight will be later this month in Cleveland at the Republican National Convention, so they embarked on a short tour of Ohio to gather support.

The release Created Equal put out about it reminded me again why I’m here on Delmarva, which at least has a little common sense.

On June 16-17, #OperationRNC conducted a state-wide tour of Ohio. Troy Newman of Operation Rescue, Rev. Patrick Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition, and Mark Harrington of Created Equal were joined by other Ohio pro-life leaders in Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton, Toledo and Cleveland.

Three of the four media coverage items they used were from Toledo: two from television and one by The Blade, which is Toledo’s primary newspaper. (Not to be confused with the Washington Blade, an LGBT-centric publication.) As it was described by The Blade, there were 20 on the pro-life side and 30 on the pro-abortion side. I suppose that’s only fair since Toledo has long since ceded itself to the whims of the Democrat Party and their Planned Parenthood outlet is downtown, not in the suburbs where more of the conservatives live.

But what did the Created Equal side want?

Activists are requesting that $540,000,000 currently given to Planned Parenthood be redirected to 13,000 federally licensed health clinics which provide true comprehensive women’s health care. These clinics provide a greater variety of services and choices to women than Planned Parenthood and are not under federal investigation.

The DNC is calling for a repeal of the Hyde Amendment and instead include the funding of abortion on demand in their party platform. Pro-lifers need to counter by demanding that the GOP defund Planned Parenthood.

So we are not advocating here for overturning Roe v. Wade nor telling Texas to advise the Supreme Court to butt out of their business as they tried to prevent the very coat-hanger, Gosnell-style abortions I thought the pro-choice crowd was also trying to prevent by enhancing standards for facilities where abortions are performed. (Wasn’t the pro-choicers’ mantra “safe, legal, and rare” abortions? They had their wish in Texas.)

All they are asking at this point is to defund an organization that has many (but not all) locations performing abortions, and instead distribute the money to those that provide more comprehensive women’s health services. Given the figures stated, each local organization would receive an average of about $41,000 – for a group like the Eastern Shore Pregnancy Center, that would be a huge boost in enabling them to do more services. (Assuming, of course, they would wish to collect government money – many self-respecting providers make a point of refusing it.)

While Donald Trump has said he will defund Planned Parenthood, he’s in the camp of them not necessarily being the enemy. From February:

Yes, because as long as they do the abortion I am not for funding Planned Parenthood but they do cervical cancer work. They do a lot of good things for women but as long as they’re involved with the abortions, as you know they say it’s 3% of their work, some people say it’s 10%, some people say it’s 8%, I hear all different percentages but it doesn’t matter. As long as they’re involved with abortion, as far as I’m concerned forget it, I wouldn’t fund them regardless. But they do do other good work. You look at cervical cancer. I’ve had women tell me they do some excellent work so I think you also have to put that into account but I would defund Planned Parenthood because of their view and the fact of their work on abortion.

Sorry, I’m not convinced that defunding Planned Parenthood wouldn’t be a bargaining chip for Trump - I was much more comfortable with the pro-life stance of most of the remaining GOP field. Remember, in practically every community PP serves there are other entities providing similar, if not overlapping, services. So why should PP get so much from taxpayers?

Being pro-life is a stance that should unite libertarians and social conservatives: protecting the right to life is not only the Christian thing to do but is also the ultimate in liberty. Indeed, being a parent is also a responsibility but if one isn’t ready to take it on there are other options available which preserve the unborn baby’s life. At least one political party should do even more to relate these irrefutable facts.

Exploiting the weakest link

February 22, 2016 · Posted in Cathy Keim, Delmarva items, National politics, Politics, State of Conservatism · Comments Off 

By Cathy Keim

Michael and I have both written about the Planned Parenthood (PP) undercover videos that showed that PP was selling baby body parts for profit. At first it seemed that the sheer horror of the videos might spur our politicians to defund PP, but that soon fizzled when Democrats blocked it. The Republicans punted since nothing is worth the risk of shutting down our government, not even the dehumanizing practice of selling baby parts.

Instead, David Daleiden and another pro-life activist, Sandra Merritt, who were posing as buyers of fetal tissue in the undercover investigative videos, were indicted by a Texas grand jury for this spurious offense:

(O)ne felony related to tampering with a governmental record and a misdemeanor count related to buying human tissue. The felony charge was in reference to the use of a fake ID. If convicted, Daleiden faces 20 years in prison while Planned Parenthood officials face no legal consequences for their actions.

So how can Daleiden be charged for pretending to buy fetal tissue, but Planned Parenthood is not charged when they clearly admit on the videos that not only do they sell fetal tissue, but that they alter the abortion procedures to obtain more valuable baby parts?

Pro-life groups, led by Senior Vice President of Operation Rescue Cheryl Sullenger, are asking that a special prosecutor be appointed to investigate because:

“There is now a pattern in Houston of District Attorney Devon Anderson’s office covering up abortion-related crimes,” she told LifeNews.

“In 2013, another Anderson-controlled grand jury failed to indict Houston abortionist Douglas Karpen, who was accused by three of his former employees of murdering babies born alive during shoddy late-term abortions by twisting their heads or slashing their throats. Photographic evidence provided to me showed injuries to large aborted babies that was consistent with those claims. Operation Rescue has good reason to believe that evidence was never presented to that grand jury,” Sullenger explained.

In addition, Lauren Reeder, a prosecutor in the Harris County District Attorney’s office, has been identified as “a non-compensated ‘Director’ on the 990 Tax Form for 2014 filed by Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast,” according to Steven Ertelt, writing at LifeNews.com.

While it has not been verified whether Reeder participated in the case, it still shows a potential bias in the department.

Finally, it was revealed that attorney Chip Lewis, who represented Houston abortionist Douglas Karpen before the grand jury, donated more than $25,000 to District Attorney Anderson’s re-election campaign.

I will certainly be keeping an eye on this investigation and perhaps the voters in Harris County, Texas, might want to consider voting out Anderson the next time they have a chance.

But what can we do in the meantime? I am glad you asked because I received this email today from Eric Scheidler, one of the organizers of Protest PP, which explains the “weak link” in the abortion industry.

Among the hundreds of hours of undercover footage that David Daleidan and his team released last summer, there was one bit of footage that didn’t get the publicity it deserved. At a National Abortion Federation conference in 2013, abortion provider Renee Chelian was caught on tape discussing the problem of disposing of aborted babies’ bodies. Chelian told the story of how her abortion facility was thrown into disarray when she lost her contract with a medical waste company. She tried everything to dispose of the remains of the babies she was killing, including duping a pet crematory to burn them up. At one point she had 5 months worth of fetal remains in rented freezers! Her takeaway? “We are all one incinerator away, or one incinerator company away from being closed.”

Created Equal, a pro-life group, noticed this weak link and decided to set up #ProjectWeakLink aimed at targeting the waste removal companies that are hired by Planned Parenthood facilities across the nation. The project is starting with Stericycle, the major medical waste service provider for PP. You can go here and sign the petition asking Stericycle to stop working with PP.

Created Equal is also asking that you contact Stericycle CEO Charles Alutto and tell them to stop disposing of medical waste for Planned Parenthood. You can reach Alutto at 847-607-2004 or calutto@stericycle.com.

I had a phone call from a young lady at Created Equal and she also requested that if anyone is near a Planned Parenthood facility and they see a medical waste truck on site, to please take a picture of the truck and send it to Created Equal along with the date and location as they are trying to find out who else is servicing Planned Parenthood facilities.

The culture of death is unrelenting its attack on life, but we can take positive action to resist. Pray for David Daleiden, Sandra Merritt, and their lawyers as they prepare their defense against these charges. Take part in #ProjectWeakLink, and pray that hearts will be changed and lives saved as abortion is exposed for the great evil that it is.

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