Dispatches > Quick Takes

Quick Takes

Issue: "Scorched-earth politics," Sept. 7, 2002

Posing for the family portrait

How is the institution of the family faring in today's "sophisticated" culture? Family Portrait, a 224-page report from the Family Research Council, uses both statistics and polling data to paint, as FRC president Kenneth Connor describes it, "a disturbing portrait of family disintegration."
For instance, between 1960 and 2000, the birthrate for married women decreased by 43 percent. By 2000, one of every three babies was born outside marriage, and one out of four children lived with single parent. Cohabitation has gained in popularity: In 1970, just over half a million couples cohabited; by 2000, 4.7 million unmarried couples were living together. The FRC plans to release the report on Sept. 16 at the National Press Club, with a panel discussion on the political and cultural impact of its findings.

More accountability

The tidal wave of coverage of corporate accounting scandals and demands for more corporate accountability may have unexpected dividends. The Capital Research Center, which studies the crossroads of philanthropy and politics, will go online this month with a new edition of its report Patterns of Corporate Philanthropy. The report's author, Christopher Morris, says he expects a "huge increase" in corporations posting their tax returns and corporate giving data on the Internet.
Using old-fashioned paper tax returns and online data, CRC's number-crunchers found that the longtime trend-corporate funding of big-government advocacy groups-is at an all-time high. In 1998, the most recent year for corporate giving data, over $45 million of the $57.5 million that corporations gave to nonprofit advocacy groups went to groups promoting big-government policies. ExxonMobil and Cigna were the "best" corporate givers to pro-market charities, with a grade of B. Five corporations earned an F-the government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, J.P. Morgan & Company, May Department Stores, and Merrill Lynch.

Hear no evil

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Is the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy making its way to the Boy Scouts? Scout officials in Milwaukee are trying such a policy, and Jessica McBride of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that their goal is to adhere to the national Boy Scouts ban on gays, while also following the United Way's anti-discrimination rules.
Local officials will remove a scoutmaster only if they learn that he is a homosexual. "It's not like we're trying to discover it or make it an issue," Michael Childers, local Scout executive, told the paper. Ms. McBride reports that the group collects $650,000 from the United Way, which is its largest donor. Gregg Shields, a national Boy Scouts spokesman, told her that only a few councils had made such deals and that the Scouts were not concerned.

A word from the sponsors

The Opie and Anthony backlash continues. WNEW in New York fired the two "shock jocks" after they coaxed a couple to have sex in St. Patrick's cathedral. The firing came after the Federal Communications Commission acknowledged it was considering revocation of WNEW's license. But advertisers may be the ones who ensure a long wait in the unemployment line for the former broadcasters. The Boston Beer Company, makers of Samuel Adams, apologized for promoting its products on the show. And The New York Post quotes a broadcast executive who says "many advertisers ... won't go near them."

Waste of paper

SUV drivers who see parking tickets on their windshields should not immediately be alarmed: The "ticket" may only be anti-SUV propaganda from leftist environmentalists. The New York Times' Aaron Donovan reports that members of the group Earth on Empty have taken up the practice of placing fake parking tickets on SUV windshields to chide owners of the politically incorrect vehicles. "Think about it," says a typical fake ticket. "Why do you need such a HUGE car? This is not a militarized zone." The ticket also tries to shame the driver for "polluting more than your fair share." The group especially targets large SUVs like the Ford Excursion and Expedition, the Toyota Land Cruiser, and the Dodge Durango.
The group prints its Web address on the fake tickets and receives some responses from angry SUV owners, Mr. Donovan reports. "We are a family of six with three dogs," wrote one "violator." "What else should we drive? Three cars?" Another pointed out the relative safety of large vehicles compared to the tiny cars that environmentalists want Americans to drive. "You have no idea why I drive the vehicle I have," he wrote. "Maybe, just maybe, it's because my wife and myself have lost a son in an accident and want my family to be safe. Try losing a child."

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