Month Archives: October 2010

Miniature Human Livers with Adult Progenitor Cells

by David Prentice

October 31, 2010

Researchers at Wake Forest have used two types of adult progenitor cell to form miniature functioning livers in the laboratory.

The research will be presented today at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases. To construct the liver pieces, the scientists stripped all of the cells off of animal livers, then seeded the remaining collagen skeleton with human liver progenitor (precursor) cells and human endothelial cells (which line and create blood vessels.) The remade liver construct was grown in a bioreactor in the lab, and after a week demonstrated human liver tissue growth and function.

Senior author Shay Soker noted:

We are excited about the possibilities this research represents, but must stress that we’re at an early stage and many technical hurdles must be overcome before it could benefit patients”

The bioengineered human livers made from adult cells could have utility for drug testing as well as transplantation.

Soker was part of the team that previously generated functional bladders for patients and found multipotent adult stem cells in amniotic fluid.

Anonymous Pentagon Sources Answer Question They Refused to Ask

by Peter Sprigg

October 30, 2010

Heres how an article in the Washington Post today began:

A majority of active-duty and reserve service members surveyed by the Defense Department would not object to serving and living alongside openly gay troops, according to multiple people familiar with the findings.

The surveys results are expected to be included in a Pentagon report, due to President Obama on Dec. 1 … .

The sources who leaked this information, or the reporter who wrote it, or both, are highly biased in favor of the pro-homosexual position on this issue. How can I tell? Because I have seen the survey, and it never asks, Would you object to serving and living alongside openly gay troops?

FRC will soon be releasing a more detailed analysis of the weaknesses of the two surveys (one of service members and one of their spouses). But ever since the surveys were announced and their contents wereagainleaked, we have been criticizing them for failing to ask the most fundamental question of allDo you believe that the current law on homosexuality in the armed forces should be repealed? Instead, the surveys (and the entire study by the Comprehensive Review Working Group) have been premised on the idea that the law will be repealed, and they seek to determine only how such a change should be implemented.

The military is a hierarchical, command-based structure. Therefore, when the Congress, the Commander-in-Chief, possibly the courts, and ones immediate superiors all say that you must serve and live alongside openly gay troops, to object is not an option. You either obey, or you leave.

On that point, the story goes on to say:

Some troops surveyed - but not a majority - objected strongly to the idea of serving with gays and said they would quit the military if the policy changed . . .

Is this how they concluded that a majority … would not object? Its certainly a relief that a majority would not leave, because our armed forces would be destroyed if that happened. But if even ten percent were to leave (as one earlier poll suggested), it would have a devastating impact on our military.

Check frc.org for our more detailed critique of these surveys in coming weeks.

Legislating from the Bench is Not Judicial “Independence”

by Rob Schwarzwalder

October 28, 2010

Today is the 223rd anniversary of the publication of the first of what became known as The Federalist Papers. Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay, intellectual luminaries whose brilliance shines across the years, produced 85 treatises on the newly-proposed Constitution.

The Federalist Papers were designed to persuade their fellow citizens that a Constitution that defines, empowers and constrains the federal government was worth enacting. They succeeded in their project.

In our time, we are confronted by judges who believe the Constitution is not the carefully crafted text the Founders gave us but, rather, political putty onto which they can impress their personal beliefs and political vision. As Thomas Jefferson predicted, the Constitution has become, for those believe in legislating while presiding in a court, “a mere thing of wax in the hands of the Judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they please.”

Defenders of the activist courts claim that those who wish to constrain judicial overreach want to erode the independence of the judiciary. To the contrary:

  • When a judge overturns the result of a state ballot election vote declaring what we have always known - that marriage is between a man and a woman;
  • When a judge says that the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional;
  • When a judge believes she has the expertise to scrub multiple academic studies, not to mention the whole history of the Armed Forces’ warrior culture, in order to declare that military service for homosexuals is a “right,” and;
  • When a panel of judges declares that same-sex marriage is a constitutional “right,”

those rejecting the right of judges to make such rulings are attacking not an independent judiciary but that judiciary’s willful rejection of that which it is sworn to uphold, the Constitution itself.

An independent judiciary does not mean judges should be untethered from the nation’s charter text, becoming laws unto themselves, legislating at will through the vehicle of judicial edicts. It means that when a judge or panel of judges rules consistent with the original meaning of the Constitution, they should not be bullied into unconstitutional jurisprudence. This is why federal judges have lifetime appointments; from the early days of the Republic, such appointments have been viewed as safeguards against political pressure.

In our time, many judges have become bullies, insistent on imposing their will upon our system of representative self-government and the people themselves. Thus, Justice Scalia’s assertion that the Constitution “means what it meant when it was written” is a shocking, retrograde, near-barbaric affront.

With the men who gave us The Federalist Papers, let us stand for an independent judiciary —- independent from political shoving and pulling, but never independent from that which gives the judges themselves the right and power to serve: The Constitution.

Theodore Roosevelt and the Bully Pulpit

by Robert Morrison

October 27, 2010

The Roosevelt family in 1903Today is Theodore Roosevelts birthday. T.R. was much beloved in his own day, but he has caught some flak recently. In many ways, it is true, Roosevelt was not a conservative.

He ran, after all, on the Progressive party line in 1912.

That Bull Moose candidacy was arguably T.R.s worst mistake. By splitting the vote between himself and Republican William Howard Taft, T.R. let Woodrow Wilson come in as a minority President. Many of the disasters of the twentieth century, including the rise of Hitler, can fairly be laid at Wilsons feet.

Theodore Roosevelt pushed for a number of laws that we constitutional conservatives would not challenge today. Do we disagree with the Pure Food and Drug Act? We certainly must disagree with a Food and Drug Administration that approves lethal, abortion-producing drugs like RU-486 and Ella. But the basic premise that our food and drugs should be safe for human consumption is not one that we would want to do away with.

Child labor laws have been too stringently enforced. Young people need to have experience of the work place from co-op programs and the like. But few of us constitutional conservatives would like to see 10-year olds going down into the coal mines.

T.R. called the White House a bully pulpit and used it brilliantly. He was arguably the first pro-family President, as we moderns might use that term. Thats because as President, Roosevelt followed the Census data on marriage, childbirth, and divorce. He spoke out publicly and powerfully on the need for strong marriages. He knew that a breakdown in family life had terrible consequences for the nation.

He knew from painful firsthand experience how disastrous for a family it could be for the father to fail in his responsibilities. T.R. and his large and loving family had the tragic duty of institutionalizing his only brother, Eliott.

When T.R. preached in favor of the strenuous life, and attacked the malefactors of great wealth, it can too often read today like a socialist screed against income and entrepreneurs.

But the personal side of T.R.s life gives us clues to his public persona. Eliott Roosevelt had succumbed to alcoholism. He spent his life running with the socially prominent Four Hundred, the cream of New York society. This was the smart set of people whom T.R. said were living lives of ignoble ease.

Imagine you are trying to dry out, you are making a concerted effort to reform your life and care of your family. You take your young daughter with you as you drop in to your Manhattan club, for just a minute. You only want to retrieve a document.

Because the gentlemans club has a rule that says No Women allowed, you ask your daughter to wait on the fashionable front steps. But once inside, you succumb and become insensible from drinking. And your ten-year old daughter, Eleanor Roosevelt, waits on the front steps for hours as the sun sets over your life and your familys hopes.

It was this kind of painful personal experience that made T.R. a reformer. We can and must reject many of T.R.s enthusiasms. He even tried, as President, to force the Government Printing Office to adopt simplified spelling. Congress wisely slapped him down on that one. T.R. did not support Prohibition. Do we? T.R. did support womens suffrage. Dont we?

Theodore Roosevelt was one of the most restless and probing minds ever to occupy the White House. He was surely a Hamiltonian in his belief in energy in the executive. Had we ever had a more energetic President?

Days before he left the White House in 1909, he issued orders that required army officers to be physically fit. They would be required to be able to ride fifty miles in three days. Some desk-bound officers complained T.R. was unreasonable, that it was all well and good for a President to issue such an order since he didnt have to comply with it.

Immediately, T.R. took up the challenge. He set out with some close friends to ride fifty miles in a single day. His company of horsemen rode all the way to Warrenton, Virginia. There, he made a speech to the thrilled schoolchildren, patted heads all around, and spurred his horse for the return trip. He made it back to the White House, riding over Capital streets made hazardous with ice and sleet.

We have to wonder what Theodore Roosevelt would make of President Barack Obama. He would surely approve of a black man occupying the Oval Office. He would certainly be proud that a fellow Harvard man had attained the Presidency.

But what would T.R. think of Barack Obamas inviting Hip Hop millionaire Jay-Z to sit in the Presidential chair in the White House Situation Room? What would he think of the President of the United States using his bully pulpit to endorse the anti-woman, anti-family, pimp and ho subculture represented by Jay Z and his ilk?

Theodore Roosevelt would be much more likely to line up with Stanley Crouch, Thomas Chatterton Williams, and other black writers who have been courageous enough

to denounce President Obamas hanging with these artists. Surely, these gangsta millionaires fit T.R.s definition of malefactors of great wealth.

We can join the sharp critique of the Progressivesthen and now. But lets remember:

Theodore Roosevelt is on Mount Rushmore for a reason.

Paul the Progressive Octopus is Dead!

by Robert Morrison

October 26, 2010

Sad news has come in from Germany. Paul the Octopus is dead. He had gained world-wide attention for his uncanny ability to pick winners in the World Cup soccer match-ups. He was only 2 12 years old and seems to have died of natural causes.

Paul was a Progressive, of course. How can I tell? Octopuses are highly intelligent. They have eight arms. Theyre well-equipped by nature for taking our wallets. European outlook. Soccer fan. A perfect fit.

Ive often wondered why liberals and conservatives dont have animal mascots, just like Democrats and Republicans do. The famous donkey and elephant symbols came from the talented pen of Thomas Nast, a nineteenth century cartoonist. Its hard to believe it, but Nasts animal symbols date only from the 1870s. Abraham Lincoln and U.S. Grant, the first two Republican presidents, never ran with the elephants.

Nast also portrayed the Democrats of New York Citythe powerful and dreaded Tammany Hall political machineas a tiger. Tigers have big appetites. It took a lot of graft to keep those Tammany Hall Democrats satisfied. Lots of stimulus projects were gobbled up.

Nast was a genius and a true artist. He had, though, an unfortunate habit of vilifying the Irish. For all his championing of black freedmenwho needed his help—he sank to a regrettable bigotry with Catholics and immigrants. Thats a good thing for us to avoid today.

Nasts portraying Republicans as elephants is not too surprising. Its fun to see the comical pachyderms running in a circle at the circus. Theyre great big strong beasts, basically benign. I mean, do you know anyone whos mad at elephants?

Theodore Roosevelt was—at least in 1912, when he was denied nomination to a third term by the Republican Party. It was then that TR ran as a Progressive. The party was better known as The Bull Moose Party. Thats because Theodore shook off an assassination attempt. It takes more than that to kill a bull moose, he said.

That was one of the most colorful additions. Liberal Republicans in the nineteenth century were known as Mugwumps. Thats because, one wag said, their mugs were on one side of the fence and their wumps were on the other. Liberal Republicans today are called RINOsRepublicans in Name Only. They dont seem to mind the designation as Rhinos. And they add to the political zoo.

Independents today dont have the imagination that Teddy Roosevelt had. Take Ross Perot, for example. His independent bid in 1992 was the strongest of any since Roosevelt in 1912. Maybe he should have run with a Texas armadillo as a mascot.

When we look at todays TEA Party, we note they dont have a mascot. Theyre still working mostly within the Republican Party, so Id imagine theyre some kind of elephant. They sure dont take direction from the Ring Master of the Circus.

Maybe their mascot should be a woolly mammoth. We may see a woolly mammoth herd stampeding next Tuesday.

Lets pause a moment to pay respects to Paul the Progressive Octopus. They say he died at age 2 12 from natural causes. Maybe so. But I think he expired from overeating. You cant go on and on grabbing everything in sight with your eight arms and consuming it. Itll kill a political movement as fast as it kills an octopus. Its only natural.

What They Wont Tell You About Abortion webcast

by Family Research Council

October 25, 2010

Tomorrow night, October 26th at 9:00 p.m. ET, Students for Life will host a short audio webcast on ella, the abortion drug, What They Wont Tell You About Abortion.

Family Research Council is co-sponsoring the event, as well as Concerned Women for America, LifeNews and the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute.

Speakers include Kristan Hawkins from Students For Life, Wendy Wright from Concerned Women for America, Dr. Angela Lanfranchi from the Breast Cancer Prevention Institute, and me. I will be discussing the ella pharmacy education campaign.

To register and/or for more information visit the registration page.

Gucciones Legacy

by Rob Schwarzwalder

October 22, 2010

Bob Guccione, founder of Penthouse magazine, has died. His pornography empire was built upon a premise: The viler and more graphic, the better.

News reports tell us that his publications featured every imaginable form of deviancy capable between human beings. I will not use this space further to describe the horror —- I use that word most intentionally —- that Guccione brought to thousands of young women and to those who viewed his debasing exploitation of them.

Yet in the stories about his life, his obituaries in the mainstream media give us a remarkable window into the way the secular Left thinks about such things as truth, decency, and honor.

National Public Radio tells us that Guccione kept pushing the limits of porn and getting edgier.

The Washington Post seems almost celebratory: According to its obituary, Guccione revolutionized the adult entertainment industry.

And the New York Times argues that Guccione broke taboos and outraged the guardians of taste, to which it might as well have added, and good thing, too.

None of these obits describe what Guccione wrought as wrong, cruel, deviant, the very essence of cultural debauchery. To do so would imply objective moral standards exist. To affirm this belief would be an affront to the sensitivities of our age.

Let me see if I have this straight: We can be edgy —- i.e., prurient and self-destructive —- when it comes to sex. We cannot be edgy —- i.e., honest and straightforward —- about what is good and right.

As to the New York Times phrase, the guardians of taste: Yes, the vast majority of the American people, sickened by seeing young women used for perverse sexual pleasure in the most vivid and shocking of ways, do have a sense of guardianship toward obvious assaults on human dignity.

This is not about taste or edginess. Its about whether or not women are made in the image of God. About whether some things are right and others wrong, and about whether liberty can be reduced only to issues of privacy and consent, while excluding virtue and restraint.

If we lose our virtue, and as a society, were well on our way, moral chaos will reign. Widespread personal moral collapse leads to social disintegration, which leads to desperate pleas for order and security. Whereby a dictator arises, and liberty is lost.

Family Research Councils friend Pat Trueman has written, To equate the free and robust exchange of ideas and political debate with commercial exploitation of obscene material demeans the grand conception of the First Amendment and its high purposes in the historic struggle for freedom. It is a misuse of the great guarantees of free speech and free press.

Gucciones career was based on the abuse of women and the misuse of liberty. He gained much that the world has to offer: Great wealth, sexual wantonness, a massive art collection, etc. But what, in eternity, has he lost?

In the Military, Racial Integration and Sexual Liberation Are Not the Same Thing

by Peter Sprigg

October 22, 2010

Mark Thompson has posted a piece on Time magazines Swampland blog regarding the possible overturning (which he considers inevitable) of the current law against homosexual conduct in the military.

Such a radical change in military policy is hardly inevitable. Legislation to repeal the law is on life support following last months Senate vote to block it, and Judge Virginia Phillips muddled ruling that the law is unconstitutional ignored so much existing precedent that it is unlikely to be upheld.

Thompson, however, has delved into the archives of military history and relates findings about how African Americans were integrated within the armed forces without major difficulty. He concludes that the integration of homosexuals would take place just as smoothly.

One key difference, of course, is that blacks had long been eligible to serve in the military, but had served in segregated units. In contrast, homosexuals have always been considered ineligible for military service at all. (The popular misnomer Dont Ask Dont Tell misleads many into believing that active homosexuals are currently welcomed by the military as long as they stay in the closet. The truth is the oppositethe 1993 law mandates, with very limited exceptions, the discharge of any servicemember who has engaged in, attempted to engage in, or solicited another to engage in a homosexual act or acts.)

Furthermore, Thompson simply assumes the answer to two critical threshold questions:

1) Is being gay like being black?

2) Is sexual conduct relevant to military effectiveness?

The logical answer to #1 is no. Homosexuality is a behavioral characteristic; being black is a superficial matter of skin color. The racial integration of the military was successful precisely because it proved that the behavior of black soldiers did not differ from that of whites. But with homosexuality, a difference in behavior is what defines the issue. Do not be fooled by vague references to sexual orientation as though it were an innate characteristicwhat homosexual activists now seek is the right to continue engaging in homosexual acts while in the military .

Homosexual activists compare sexual orientation to race in order to obscure the important differences between sexual attractions, behavior, and self-identification. Only the attractions are, like race, involuntary; but none of these elements of sexual orientation are (like race) inborn, immutable, innocuous, and in the Constitution. The 1993 law which homosexual activists seek to overturn is focused on homosexual conduct, and treats attractions or self-identification as relevant only because they are evidence of a propensity or intent to engage in homosexual acts.

So does the military have a legitimate interest in regulating the sexual conduct of its members? The answer has always been yes, with respect to heterosexual conduct as well as homosexual. Adultery, for instance, remains a crime in the military, at a time when the civil law has long since become indifferent to it. As Congress found in 1993, high standards of morale, good order and discipline, and unit cohesion … are the essence of military capability, and there is no doubt that sexual conduct can threaten those standards and harm that capability.

Sexual tension, sexual harassment, and sexual assault are problems that exist among heterosexuals in the militarybut those problems would increase if homosexuals were allowed to serve, because it would be impossible to separate homosexuals the way that men and women are separated in their most intimate settings (showers, sleeping quarters, etc.). Increased health problems among homosexuals (in particular, dramatically higher rates of sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV among men who have sex with men) would pose a direct challenge to military readiness.

The analogy to the racial integration of the military, even if it had any validity, would apply only to the concern that homosexuality in the military would damage recruiting and retention of personnel. But those are only two out of the nine likely negative consequences of repealing the current law that were identified by Col. Robert Maginnis in the FRC booklet Mission Compromised. The others are:

  • Damage to unit effectiveness.
  • Health consequences with high cost.

  • Threats to freedom of those who morally object to homosexuality.
  • Special protections for homosexuals.
  • Taxpayer-funded benefits to homosexual partners of servicemembers.
  • Possibility of costly new living arrangements to protect privacy.
  • Changes to military law and regulations regarding sexual offenses.

The argument that, as the gay newsmagazine The Advocate recently declared on its cover, Gay is the New Black, is one that most blacks resent, and that simply cannot stand up to serious scrutiny.

No Integrity at White House Science Office?

by David Prentice

October 22, 2010

Nature blogs notes that the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has been sued because they have failed to put forward recommendations to ensure scientific integrity in government, as directed by a Presidential memo. The recommendations are getting close to a year-and-a-half past due.

The Presidential memorandum issued March 9, 2009 says:

Within 120 days from the date of this memorandum, the Director shall develop recommendations for Presidential action designed to guarantee scientific integrity throughout the executive branch”

Back in June 2010, already a year past due, presidential science adviser John Holdren had said the report would be delivered “in the next few weeks.” Maybe the dog ate the homework. Seems there’s a little lack of integrity in the science office.

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