Month Archives: December 2009

Theyll be Home for Christmas

by Robert Morrison

December 18, 2009

While the U.S. is drawing down forces in Iraq and building up, by some 30,000, our troops in Afghanistan, thousands of American soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guard are returning to the homeland. Thanks to Operation Welcome Home Maryland, those who come into Baltimore-Washington International airport will not come home alone.

Theyll be greeted by dozens of people from the local community, many of them former service members themselves. Some of these older veterans can tell sad stories of returning from Vietnam to a cold and sullen airport arrival. No more. Operation Welcome Home is determined to give our all-volunteer servicemen and women the homecoming they deserve.

Incoming flights are posted on the organizations website—-www.operationwelcomehomemd.org. Greeters are invited to bring goodie bags of food, water, and other favors from home. When the uniformed service members come through those arrival gates, many are stunned to see the reception committee yelling, cheering, applauding, and playing Im proud to be an American on iPods. To be hugged by total strangers is an unusual experience, to say the least.

But they are not total strangers. They cannot be total strangers. For those who have worn the uniform, no one in the military will ever again be a total stranger. Perhaps watching the made-for-TV series, Band of Brothers, can explain that all-too-bloodless term unit cohesion. It might better be called the Bond of Brothers.

The most shocking thing about Fort Hood is that an obvious traitor in our midst was allowed—for reasons of political correctness—to move freely among our troops. Someone at the highest levels should pay with his stars for allowing such a hostile environment to exist.

Our best young soldiers and sailors today say without hesitation Id take a bullet for my brother. Many of them, sadly, have done just that. No one should ever take a bullet from a traitor in the ranks.

This week, thankfully, hundreds of veterans from Iraq have passed through BWI. Theyre given special Christmas cheer as they come home in time for the holidays. They are all volunteers. And the ones who welcome them home are all volunteers, too. Its another reminder that Liberty is the most precious gift under our tree and that we are the land of the free because of the brave.

Does “FTC” Mean “Clueless” ??

by Chris Gacek

December 18, 2009

With all the big health care news going on this week one could not be blamed for missing the news that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has filed suit against Intel, the computer chip maker, for anti-competitive practices. This news left me scratching my head. Of course, it is possible that Intel is crushing its competitors with horrible business practices, but, as the Wall Street Journal notes, it isn’t so obvious. Chip prices decrease now at staggering rates, and it is not clear that Intel is selling their chips below cost, the lodestar of anti-competitive behavior.

More to the point is this: has anyone at the FTC noticed that we are in a crushing recession and that Intel is one of the very few bright spots in the American economy? I guess not. To an outsider Intel appears to be engaged in fierce competition while fighting off regulators using antiquated anti-trust tools.

The Europeans have recently fined Intel a massive amount, but this strikes me as being part of a emerging trade pattern in which EU authorities use their trade laws to cripple America’s leading tech companies. Of course, the U.S. government appears oblivious to this strategm. Microsoft has been the most visible punching bag for the Euros.

Bottom line: perhaps, our government would do better laying off our job creating industries and firms until the unemployment rate — the “U-6” rate which is the broadest — goes from 17% to half that amount. How’s that for a deal?

Gluing Bones Back Together with Adult Stem Cells

by David Prentice

December 17, 2009

Doctors in the U.K. have used a man’s own adult stem cells mixed with a collagen paste to repair his fractured leg. Andrew Kent broke his leg in five places including a compound fracture, while rock climbing, when a large boulder fell on his leg. After three operations, the bones were still not setting and the wound became infected. Mr. Kent was told that he was likely to lose his leg. The bones were broken so badly that traditional surgery failed. Orthopedic surgeon Anan Shetty offered an alternative. He took some of Mr. Kent’s bone marrow adult stem cells, mixed them with a new collagen gel called Cartifill to make a paste, and caulked the fractures with the mixture. Then the leg was fixed in a metal cage to gently squeeze the bones together. Six months later, the leg can hold weight and the fractures are healing. According to Dr. Shetty:

This is an amazing technique. He won’t be able to run for about a year, but after 18 months his bones will have healed completely. I’m sure he’ll be able to go back and rock climb again.”

The Cartifill collagen gel was invented by Professor Seok Jung Kim, a South Korean orthopedic surgeon, and has also been used in trials with adult stem cells to repair torn cartilage in the knee.

Previous research with adult stem cells has seen great success at healing non-healing fractures, even getting patients out of their wheelchairs in some cases.

Media Paints Pope as Sympatico with Environmental Extremists

by Cathy Ruse

December 17, 2009

News reports on Pope Benedicts recent statement on the environment left out significant quotes relating the Churchs grave misgivings of the modern environmental movement. True, the Pope supports efforts to promote a greater sense of ecological responsibility — but only those that would safeguard an authentic human ecology and thus forcefully reaffirm the inviolability of human life at every stage and in every condition, the dignity of the person and the unique mission of the family, where one is trained in love of neighbour and respect for nature.

For a good analysis of how the mainstream media is spinning the Popes World Day of Peace message — and for important quotes you wont read elsewhere — see John-Henry Westens editorial in LifeSiteNews.com.

To read the Popes full World Day of Peace Message click here.

Media Matters Nixonian Defense of Kevin JenningsHe Is Not a Crook

by Peter Sprigg

December 16, 2009

Several weeks after radical homosexual activist Kevin Jennings was appointed to head the Office of Safe & Drug Free Schools in the Department of Education, FRC released a detailed paper listing seven reasons why Mr. Jennings is unfit for this post. One of those seven charges was, By his own account, Jennings failed to protect the safety of a homosexual student he once counseled when working as a teachera student who told Jennings (according to Jennings own account) that I met somebody in the bus station bathroom and went home with him.

Even though Jennings himself issued a statement in September admitting, I should have handled the situation differently, the liberal website Media Matters seems determined to keep arguing that Jennings did nothing wrong. In particular, they have focused on the very narrow issue (which has been raised by Jennings own account of the incident) of whether Jennings might have violated mandatory reporting laws, which impose a legal requirement upon teachers to report suspected sexual abuse of minors to the authorities.

Media Matters appears to be operating on the assumption that consensual sexual relations between a teenaged boy and a much older adult man can only be considered abuse if they violate statutory rape lawsthat is, if the teen is below the legal age of consent, which in Massachusetts is 16. Media Matters claims to have located the actual boy (now a grown man) involved in the incident, and to have proven that he was 16 years old at the time. This is the very thin reed on which Media Matters is resting its defense of Jenningsan argument, in essence, that the boy was 16 so everythings OK!

Yesterday, they attacked a new video about Jennings that FRC recently released. I would point out that in the narration of the film (as Media Matters even quoted), we said the boy was “believed to be 15 or 16.” But, as was carefully documented in our June paper, the source of the information that the boy was 15 wasKevin Jennings! How do we know he said this? There is a recording of his voice saying that the boy was 15. Jennings has told other versions of the story in which he says the boy was 16, but the fact that his several versions of this story are mutually incompatible proves only one thing with absolute certaintyJennings is a liar (or to put it more generouslyhe has fictionalized the story for dramatic effect). And Jennings has refused to answer questions or clarify the inconsistencies in his accounts of the incident.

As to the mandatory reporting issue—if Jennings believed (even wrongly) that the boy was 15 (as he has been recorded saying he did), then Jennings clearly acted in willful disregard of the mandatory reporting law. The boy that Media Matters claims to have found also says he did not actually have sex with the man he met in the bus station. But Jennings clearly believed he did have sex—otherwise, why would he have told the boy (again, according to his own account), “I hope you knew to use a condom”? And why would the boy himself have responded, Why should I, my life isnt worth saving anyway? (this line is the dramatic highlight in Jennings recounting of the story). Again, the issue here is not what the boy didit is what Jennings believed, what action Jennings took based on those beliefs, how Jennings has described those actions, and what those actions and words reveal about Jennings own ethical standards and commitment to the safety of Americas schoolchildren.

Its also important to note is that the age requirements in the mandatory reporting law do not specifically track the age of consent in the statutory rape law. A teacher is required to report any “abuse” of a child who is under eighteennot just one under sixteen. Now perhaps Jennings believed (and perhaps legal authorities would even agree) that a consensual act by a teen above the age of consent could not be considered “abuse,” but that is a matter of judgment. The mere fact that a child is 16 does not mean that mandatory reporting laws do not apply.

All of what I have said applies even if we accept at face value Media Matters’ claim to have found the actual boy in the incident and his claims regarding his age and what happened. Of course, if this was a legal case, the witness would have to come forward and testify in open court and be cross-examined, not hide behind a cloak of anonymity. Family Research Council, by contrast, has used only publicly available writings, documents, and sources in everything we have said about Jennings.

One final pointMedia Matters quotes one writer who describes psychologist Paul Cameron as founder of the Family Research Council. Camerons organization is called the Family Research Institute, and Dr. Cameron has never been affiliated with Family Research Council.

Its an easy mistake to make, given the similarity in the namesbut its nevertheless a careless one for a column that bears the heading, FactCheck.

Reality Strikes Again in U.S. Foreign Policy

by Rob Schwarzwalder

December 16, 2009

The steel-cold eyes of Vladimir Putin have a way of unnerving his opponents. When one of those happens to be the President of the United States, the latter might well feel a bit shaken.

Following their meeting, Mr. Obama reported, On areas where we disagree … I don’t anticipate a meeting of the minds anytime soon. Welcome, Mr. President, to the real world.

This must be jarring for the former community organizer, whose utopianism was his presidential campaigns stock-in-trade. Shortly before his election in November 2008, he told a Missouri audience that We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.

Earlier his campaign, he went so far as to assert that we can build a form of the kingdom of God on earth (he later disavowed this). This kind of language prompted University of Chicago law professor Richard Epstein to argue that during the 2008 campaign, then-Senator Obama presented an elusive utopian vision of hope and change.

I am asking you, implored candidate Obama, to stop settling for what the cynics say we have to accept. Let us reach for what we know is possible: A nation healed. A world repaired. An America that believes again. And, as political commentator Dana Milbank imaginatively perorates, still be home for dinner. This was what candidate Obama promised during the campaign. Elusive, indeed.

Americans are not the only skeptics. Polish journalist Marek Magierowski calls the Presidents foreign policy a mirage. Regarding Mr. Obamas Nobel Peace Prize, Gideon Rachman of Britains Financial Times commented, While it is OK to give school children prizes for ‘effort’ — my kids get them all the time — I think international statesmen should probably be held to a higher standard.

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, scholar Eric Cohen comments of Mr. Obamas approach to policymaking:

Brimming with confidence in his abilities and certain of the rightness of his views, he has undertaken a wildly ambitious agenda at home and abroad. He will bring peace between Arab and Israeli, wean Iran from its nuclear ambitions, restructure the international financial system, set us on the path to the abolition of nuclear weapons, reconcile Islam and Christendom, and end global warming, while introducing universal health care at home and bringing the country out of the deepest economic crisis since the Great Depression.

Happily, Mr. Obama seems to be getting a bit mugged by reality. In his Nobel speech, he spoke forcefully about the intransigent reality of human conflict:

We will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations — acting individually or in concert — will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified … I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: Evil does exist in the world.

For words like this, George W. Bush was burned in effigy and hated deeply. But they are words an Americana President must speak if he is to be true to his most fundamental duty: As Commander in Chief, to defend America in the face of the evil. As President Bush reminded us, good and evil are present in this world, and between the two of them there can be no compromise. Its good to see his successor, chastened by the stern authoritarianism he found when visiting Russia and China and the overt threats of Iran and North Korea, is adopting his predecessors outlook.

As Benjamin Kerstein writes in the December 15 edition of The New Ledger:

… no messianic political movement can withstand its encounter with power for very long. Political messianism is inherently uncompromising, absolutist, and obsessed with perfection and the possibility of perfection. As such, it cannot survive politics itself, which is, for the most part, the exact opposite of all of those things. Political messianism must either compromise and thus cease to be messianic or collapse.

Yet Mr. Obama would be, perhaps, less surprised by his tepid welcome from Americas erstwhile partners and the failure of his international charm offensive if he would go back to the very beginning of our nation.

Americas Founders had a decidedly cautious view of the possibilities of the way government conducted policymaking at home and abroad. The reason was there much more wary view of human nature. If men were angels, no government would be necessary, wrote James Madison, the person perhaps most singly responsible for the original text of the Constitution. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary.

Madisons leeriness of governments possibilities was rooted in his essentially biblical worldview. As there is a degree of depravity in mankind which requires a certain degree of circumspection and distrust so there are other qualities in human nature which justify a certain portion of esteem and confidence. Republican government presupposes the existence of these qualities in a higher degree than any other form, he observed.

In other words, human fallenness permeates human nobility and dignity. Thus, Madisons conclusion: Be careful of what you expect of government; without intentional virtue of character, mans innate depravity will surmount his ability to govern himself wisely or well.

Madisons Federalist colleagues Alexander Hamilton and John Jay shared his view. Hamilton wrote of the folly and wickedness of mankind and of human nature as it is, without flattering its virtue or exaggerating its vices … men are ambitious, vindictive, and rapacious. Jay talked the dictates of personal interest and said men swerve from good faith and justice.

We must take human nature as we find it, warned George Washington. Perfection falls not to the share of mortals. Does this mean we should all be glum, unmoved by the possibility of a brighter tomorrow for ourselves or our children?

No: We should strive to live up to the demands of our Founders that we should be people of such character that we can govern ourselves wisely, mindful that our limitations as sons of Adam are endemic to our nature as human beings. This mindfulness should keep us politically humble, aware that under God and with His help and guidance, we can do great things but that on earth, heaven will never be ours.

We cannot change human nature anymore than we can change the rotation of the earth. We can ennoble our hearts and dignify our conduct in the context of being finite and fallen, achieving a great measure of ordered liberty and economic opportunity, justice in our courts and safety on our streets.

The President called on us to sustain what he called a fundamental faith in human progress as the North Star that guides us on our journey. This faith is unmerited by the witness of the past century, which he himself sited in his Oslo speech.

Rather, as our Founders, taught us, it is belief in the God of the Bible and reverence for Him, informed, in part, by an ongoing recognition of our own innate fallibility, that enables us to do good, pursue justice and create a society in which hope is tempered by the bracing knowledge of human sin.

Our foreign policy can be honorable if conducted consistent with our convictions and institutions, animated by the pursuit of our vital security interests and pursued commensurate with our belief in the principles of human dignity and freedom.

But foreign policy is the application of principles and interests with care, intelligence and prudence. It will not take us to some cosmic destination. And therein, Mr. President, lies a rub we can never eradicate this side of the institution of Gods kingdom.

What Happens in Vegas…

by Peter Sprigg

December 15, 2009

Prostitution has long been legal and regulated in the state of Nevada, but a technicality in the lawa health code requirement for cervical exams to check for STDshad prevented males from serving as prostitutes. The states board of health has now lifted that barrier (by allowing urethral exams as well), and Bobbi Davis, owner of a brothel called the Shady Lady Ranch, plans to add male prostitutes to her stable of sex workers (in the words of the Las Vegas Sun).

The principal opposition to this step came from an odd sourcethe lobbyist for the Nevada Brothel Owners Association, George Flint, whom the Sun describes as a former Assemblies of God minister. Flint went on record despite the fact that, as the Sun reported, the [brothel] industry has previously tried to avoid any controversy.

Flint apparently worries that homosexual male hookers will give the industry a bad name. Weve worked hard for years to make the traditional brothel business in this state socially acceptable [and] something we can be proud of that most Nevadans accept. That struck me as one of the most bizarre quotes of the yearbut apparently there are at least a few hundred people in Las Vegas who agree, since the Suns online poll showed 475 readers (84% of those voting) affirmed that brothels are socially acceptable, while only 85 (15%) disagreed.

Flints specific concern is the risk of transmitting HIV between prostitutes and clientssomething that he claims the traditional brothels have been effective at preventing. Now were getting into an [area] that doesnt enjoy the same track record.

This does not mean that there has never been homosexual prostitution in Nevada. The female prostitutes have long been free to accept either male or female clients, according to the report, and male prostitutes will have the same right.

This raises serious questions about gender equity, however. If a Christian psychologist or a fertility doctor is not free to turn away a homosexual client for fear of discrimination charges, how can a homosexual male prostitute be allowed to turn away a female client? Isnt that discrimination, too? On the other hand, if you require them to take all clients, then maybe that would effectively mean that only bisexuals can work as prostitutes in Nevada. Wouldnt that be discrimination, too?

Such are thickets in which the sexual revolution and political correctness entrap us. In the meantime, if you want to know how to get to Las Vegasjust climb in a handbasket and travel toward the heat as far as you can go.

Las Vegas Sun: New era: Health authorities open brothels to male prostitutes [with poll]

Two American Idols, One Celebration of Christmas

by Rosalind Bergen

December 15, 2009

The Carrie Underwood Christmas Special aired last week. I was looking forward to it. I put on my fuzzy slippers, dropped a couple of extra marshmallows into my hot cocoa, and snuggled up in front of the TV. I couldnt wait to hear her sing my favorite Christmas song, O Holy Night. I reached for the Kleenex box. One must be prepared for tears, especially when she hits that ever-famous note toward the end: Diviiiiiiiiiine. I was like a kid at Christmas, bursting with anticipation.

So, you can imagine my shock, sitting there on the floor in my living room, staring at the TV, mouth agape, at the opening of the Carrie Underwood Christmas Special: Miss Underwood rises from under the stage in a throne-like chair, smoke swirling and lights flashing. Shes clad in skin-tight, black leather from head to toe. I didnt know hair spray could get hair that high? I didnt know Christmas was about Carrie Underwood. Male dancers (wearing only pants yikes and matching, black leather, of course) flanked her on all sides. They all started dancing… err, more like flailing, all over the stage. The song she sang (though, is it technically a song if it lacks a discernable melody?) was no more a Christmas song than fruitcake is cake.

I grabbed the remote and hit OFF. Sigh. Speaking of fruitcake… I trot off to the kitchen. I figure Ill have better luck getting into the Christmas spirit with a slice of grandmas fruitcake. And thats not sayin much. Sorry, Grandma.

But, Christmas is about rejuvenation and re-birth, and last night, I got my second chance. I was on the treadmill at the gym, of all places, barely eeking out that first mile. (One too many marshmallows, apparently). There were about eight TVs on the wall, each broadcasting a different channel. Lets see, what can I watch to help me reach mile two? TV one: news. Pass. TV two: news. Pass. TV three: …whats this? I see a church sanctuary, brightly lit with candles and adorned with wreaths and garland. A gospel choir is swaying back and forth. I see Jennifer Hudson belting something out at a microphone. Could it be? I scrambled for my headset so I could listen. Theyre singing, Silent Night!

Alleluia! Throughout the next forty-five minutes, I was delighted by one traditional, Christmas carol after the next. No self-glorification or self-aggrandizement. No dance choreography. Not even any Rudolf. Only the beautiful singing of the old, great Christmas carols and hymns. Only the celebration of love, giving and family. At one point, during an interview before a song, Jennifer Hudson tells us, Jesus is the light of the world. Now this is a Christmas Special. I was invigorated. I looked down at my treadmills screen. Five miles?! I havent run five miles in at least five years! (Okay, a decade, at least).

Thank you, Jennifer Hudson, for producing an appropriate, traditional Christmas special. In an age where Christmas decorations are stripped from public buildings, and citizens are forced to take down nativity scenes displayed in their yards, I know I speak for many when I say, I appreciate you remembering Christ in Christmas. And thank you ABC (did I actually say that?) for your bravery in broadcasting Hudsons show. And P.S., Miss Hudson, the note you struck in Diiiiiiiiiivine, was far more beautiful than Carrie Underwoods ever could have been.

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