Month Archives: January 2010

Is Obama Caving on the Manhattan KSM Trial?

by Chris Gacek

January 29, 2010

The New York Daily News reported last night (Thursday, 1/29/2010):

The White House ordered the Justice Department Thursday night to consider other places to try the 9/11 terror suspects after a wave of opposition to holding the trial in lower Manhattan.

The dramatic turnabout came hours after Mayor Bloomberg said he would prefer that they did it elsewhere and then spoke to Attorney General Eric Holder.

Well, the dam appears to be breaking on ostensibly what is the easiest of the Jack Bauer War issues facing the Obama Administration: that is, where to try KSM. I say ostensibly because the matter of where to try KSM will not be as easy it may seem.

All this being said, there are all sorts of conflicting stories about whether or not this will happen. See Jack Fosters piece at NRO.

According to the Daily News account four options are being considered all in New York State: 1) Governors Island (near Manhattan and Brooklyn); 2) West Point, N.Y.(U.S. Military Academy); 3) Newburgh, N.Y.(Stewart Air National Guard Base); and 4) Otisville, NY (Federal Correction Institution).

Why wont this be so easy? First, leaving aside Governors Island, these communities will go crazy in opposition. Even Governors Island may not leave New Yorkers feeling warm and fuzzy. Second, a civilian trial will still be a disaster. Think Slobodan Milosevic turning the Hague into a circus for a year. Enormous damage will be done to the national security. Third, the cost will still be enormous. Fourth, what civilian will risk his or his familys well-being to sit on the jury? Can the jurors identity be protected?

I guess the good news is that they can always move the trial back to Guantanamo. Didnt KSM already plead guilty before a military commission down there and ask to be executed? Oh, I forgot, he was given the mass-murdering-jihadist-criminal-procedure-do-over-and-mulligan.

So, how long does Eric Holder have left as Attorney General?

The Power of One: How One Woman’s Initiative Saved the Lives of 1500

by Family Research Council

January 29, 2010

A few weeks ago I had a truly edifying conversation with a Mrs. Slyvia Slifko, who helped to found Image Clear Ultrasound (ICU) in Akron, Ohio.

In 2004, after working for a number of years in a pregnancy resource center, Sylvia wanted to offer pregnant mothers considering abortion the opportunity to see their developing baby in ultrasound. Recognizing that location was critical Sylvia hoped to find an RV or van for a mobile sonogram unit. In a very short period of time and thanks to a generous donor, a number of pieces came together to make Sylvias hope a reality, including the purchase an RV, a sonogram machine, and the help of a retired MD and part-time Sonographer.

Since that time ICU has enabled women who dont have access to sonograms but do have questions about the life in their womb this priceless opportunity, for free. In the process, as many as 1500 abortions have been averted. To hear this inspiring story in her own words, listen to Sylvias interview on FRCs weekly radio show.

And to learn more about Sylvias work or how you to do similar work in your locality, visit her website.

The Challenge of the Challenger

by Robert Morrison

January 29, 2010

My good friend Tom McClusky had the wit and the heart to remind us all of Ronald Reagans speech on the occasion of the Challenger disaster in 1986. Tom circulated the video clip of Reagan speaking to the nation that very night.

The morning had been clear and cold—in Washington as it was in Florida. I was working at the U.S. Department of Education then. We were all watching on TV as the rocket launched the Space Shuttle into the skies over Cape Kennedy. We were more interested in this flight than in many shuttle flights because a teacher was on board. In fact, we had seen Krista McAuliffe and her fellow astronauts in the elevators of F.O.B. 6—our departments office building. Thats because NASA occupied the top three floors of our building.

I remember the sickening, sinking feeling we all felt that day. It was almost like the time that President Kennedy was shot in broad daylight. We instantly thought of the millions of schoolchildren across the country who had been watching in their classrooms. Would they be scarred the rest of their lives by this horror broadcast in dying color?

No they would not. Nor would we. Thats because that very night, President Reagan came on national television to comfort, console, and communicate with all Americans. His stately words and reassuring demeanor calmed a nervous people. He was a tough Irish cop soothing us and telling us to come in off the ledge. Here is what he said that frigid night.

The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honored us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for the journey and waved goodbye and “slipped the surly bonds of earth” to “touch the face of God.”

In just hours, the pall of gloom was lifted and the nation strode forward, resolved, and encouraged.

What a contrast to President Obamas State of the Union Address, or to his speech at the Fort Hood memorial service, or, for that matter, to his Inaugural Address. Two million people came to Washington for that great and historic event. What did he say to them? I cannot recall.

This is not a partisan commentary. It is not because Reagan was a conservative Republican and Obama is a liberal Democrat that I find the words of one powerful and moving and the other incredibly insubstantial.

John F. Kennedy was a liberal Democrat, but no one who heard him could forget Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country. Facing the dread prospect of nuclear war over endangered access to West Berlin, Kennedy said: Any spot is tenable if brave men will make it so. These are not googled quotes. Kennedys words are engraved on our memories. And when he was cut down, it was Daniel Patrick Moynihan, another liberal Democrat, who said: Whats the use of being Irish if you dont know the world will one day break your heart?

Middle of the road Republican Everett Dirksen provided the indispensable votes for the passage of the great Civil Rights Act of 1964. Dirksen said then: Nothing is so powerful as an idea whose time has come.

For those of us who love politics, there is a love of ideas. And those ideas are best expressed in unforgettable words. Is it only because we who love words best love the Word most?

Jon Favreau is President Obamas 28-year old speechwriter. He has been idolized by TIME Magazine as one of Americas 100 most powerful. Worse, hes been lionized by People as one of Americas most beautiful. Its not quite as bad as the worshipful praise heaped upon his chief. But it hasnt done him any good. He is paid $172,000 a year as a wordsmith. What enduring words has he smithed?

Question: Can anyone remember anything this youngster has written? The State of the Union Address is barely 48 hours old. It was embargoed lest a syllable of its deathless prose leak out to a waiting world. It was received with rapt attention by the Vice President and Speaker, and interrupted a hundred times by applause. OK, most of the applause came from his Amen corner; still, it was lusty applause.

But what did he say that any of us can remember? Liberals grumblingly conceded that Reagan was a Great Communicator, as if that was all there was to his connection with the American people. Reagan, in his Farewell Address, demurred, saying he had the privilege of communicating great ideas.

What great idea did President Obama communicate on Wednesday night? I will not quit! Is that it? Hold the mallets. Hold the chisels. House the marble.

Spindrift is a wonderful word. It describes that frothy combination of sea and salt and strong wind that scuds along the crest of the waves in a storm. Spindrift is a part of the lore and life of the sea. When the waters calm, however, spindrift disappears. It evanesces. Like the words of Barack Obama.

The State of Our Union

by Robert Morrison

January 28, 2010

OK. Ill admit it. I skipped the Presidents State of the Union Address last night. Its not the first time Ive done that. Since I have to be up before five to get to the pool on time, I decided not to lose sleep over Barack Obama. And, with the wonders of technology, I knew I could get it all online. Which I did, over a strong cup of morning coffee.

I managed to see Justice Alito mouthing the wordssimply not true when the President totally mischaracterized the Supreme Courts latest ruling on free speech and campaign finance. Alito was so right. His silent dissent thundered through the House Chamber. If this President is going to make a charade of the State of the Union, there are obviously others skilled at the game of charades, too. How proud I am that I worked to get him confirmed.

Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) could have used a cup of coffee last night. Whats this business of yawning through the Expected Ones shining moment? Is Sen. Reid trying to get himself replaced? I would like to have seen Sen. Reid in an ambush interview in the corridors right after the Address. Sen. Reid: Do you think we should be taxed to provide civilian lawyers for Abdulmutallab and the 9/11 killers? It should be most interesting to see how Reids colleagues respond to Sen. Lindsay Grahams (R-S.C.) amendment to deny any federal funds for civilian trials for terrorists. My guess is theyll run like scalded dogs from that one.

Last night carried me back more than twenty years. My wife and I had a family tradition once wed put our kids to bed. After a shower and shampoo, Kate would settle in to a comfortable chair in front of the fireplace. Together, wed watch President Reagan. One mishap occurred, however, as Kate stroked the family cat that was nestling peacefully in her lap.

When I heard Ronald Reagan appeal for the lives of unborn childrenin those most dignified, most august surroundingsI let out a whoop! It was like a Super Bowl touchdown. But Grindl the Cat was startled and jumped up, scratching my beloveds arm in the process. Grindl drew blood. Kate was mad at me. She said Id overreacted. Why cant you just watch the speech and not react like a crazy man, she demanded as she raced to disinfect the wound. I felt terrible. I begged her to forgive me. Soon she did.

That was 1987. Next year, 25 January 1988, Kate, Grindl, and I watched the State of the Union Address once more. Once again, Ronald Reagan spoke about the right to life. Heres what he said:

Well now, we come to a family issue that we must have the courage to confront. Tonight, I call America—a good nation, a moral people—to charitable but realistic consideration of the terrible cost of abortion on demand. To those who say this violates a woman’s right to control of her own body—can they deny that now medical evidence confirms the unborn child is a living human being entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Let us unite as a nation and protect the unborn with legislation that would stop all federal funding for abortion—and with a human life amendment making, of course, an exception where the unborn child threatens the life of the mother. Our Judeo-Christian tradition recognizes the right of taking a life in self-defense.

But with that one exception, let us look to those others in our land who cry out for children to adopt. I pledge to you tonight, I will work to remove barriers to adoption and extend full sharing in family life to millions of Americans, so that children who need homes can be welcomed to families who want them and love them.

Ronald Reagan did not consider the fate of millions yet unbornthat beautiful phrase used by George Washington and all our best Presidents sincebeneath his notice, outside the realm of those Americans for whom he felt responsible. Reagan knew there could be no discussion of the State of the Union without recognizing that sacred union of the living, the dead, and the yet unborn.

On hearing the President of the United States pronounce these words, I jumped up. YES, I yelled! Ra-a-a-oo-rr said Grindl, once again taking fright. And once again scratching my dear Kates arm! This time I was really in trouble. Poor Kate was bleeding and I was the cause.

It took a day or two and some flowers for me to make amends for that one. It didnt help when I tried to explain that her brother jumps up and down when Washingtons Huskies score. Its a man thing. Sometimes, we just cant control ourselves. And besides, I said, The marriage counselor would probably tell you to leave the cat in the basement during the State of the Union Address. Oooh! Bad thing to say when youre long-suffering wife is long suffering.

Well, Grindl the Cat is gone. We found his ashes last summer, neatly boxed and packed away in our basement, nine years after the movers placed them there. We gave his remains a proper burial in the back yard.

Ronald Reagan is long gone, too. And so are his moving appeals in the State of the Union Address for the lives of millions yet unborn. We have not heard such eloquence since 1988. I have not cheered a State of the Union Address since then, either. Isnt it time to cheer again?

Go Directly to Nerves, Do Not Pass Pluripotency

by David Prentice

January 28, 2010

A new report published online in Nature describes how Stanford scientists turned mouse skin cells directly into nerve cells, without any intermediate stem cell step. Starting with mouse skin cells in the lab dish, they added three nerve-specific genes using viruses. According to senior author Marius Wernig, the “induced neuronal cells” are fully functional.

We actively and directly induced one cell type to become a completely different cell type. These are fully functional neurons. They can do all the principal things that neurons in the brain do. That includes making connections with and signaling to other nerve cells.”

Wernig’s group took a page from Yamanaka’s book in discovering the right mix of factors to add. They started with 19 genes expressed in neural tissue, testing various 5-gene and 3-gene sets until finally narrowing down to just three genes that worked to convert the skin fibroblasts to neurons. The change took a week with an efficiency of almost 20 percent, faster and better than the reprogramming seen with iPS cells. Wernig said:

We were very surprised by both the timing and the efficiency. This is much more straightforward than going through iPS cells, and it’s likely to be a very viable alternative. That means reprogramming doesnt only go backward, but can occur in any direction. If you extrapolate from this, you could probably turn any cell in your body into any other cell if you just know the right factors.

Wernig and his colleagues are now trying to do the same direct reprogramming with human cells and Stanford has applied for a patent on the process.

In 2008, Doug Melton’s team at Harvard used a similar technique to directly reprogram adult mouse pancreas cells, turning them into insulin-secreting beta cells. That cell reprogramming was accomplished within the bodies of the mice by infecting their pancreas with viruses containing three transcription factors; the newly-formed beta cells could ameliorate hypoglycemia in the mice. In his Nature paper, Melton noted that the new direct reprogramming method

suggests a general paradigm for directing cell reprogramming without reversion to a pluripotent stem cell state.”

Commenting on the latest Stanford results, Melton thought it was a major advance because it used cells that could be easily obtained from a person, and takes a more direct route to changing cells than Yamanakas iPS cell method, which creates undifferentiated embryonic-like stem cells.

Instead of trying to turn them back into pluripotent stem cells and then make those into differentiated cells, hes short- circuiting that process and saying lets go right from one readily available cell to another cell of interest.

Perhaps the most significant fact is that the cells make the change without first becoming a pluripotent type of stem cell, like an embryonic stem cell. Given that pluripotent stem cells are notoriously difficult to control, bypassing that step with direct reprogramming becomes an extremely attractive method to transform cells.

Quick Take on State of the Union

by Rob Schwarzwalder

January 28, 2010

There were times during last night’s speech when reality seemed suspended: The President’s evident sincerity and earnestness were undermined by the caustic laughter that occasionally greeted his comments. At other times, silence met his words. And, in media theory courses across the land, analyses will be done of the number of times he looked to the Republican side of the aisle - he seemed far more concerned with the GOP responses to his remarks than those of his own party. Maybe the spectre of another Joe Wilson moment (“You lie!”) had him jumpy.

More seriously, I wonder if his desperation to be liked is compelling him to try to woo his skeptics. Of course, he won’t succeed.

It is hard not to like President Obama, at least the persona he projects in such settings as the State of the Union Address. He seems so reasonable.

Yet his policies are those of a man of the Left. It is as though he believes empathy is a substitute for substantive compromise, or that by virtue of patiently listening he can lull his opponents into political somnolence.

The speech, like the Obama presidency, was interwoven with unintended ironies:

** Mr. Obama calls for unity and patriotic oneness but simultaneously calls for open homosexuality in the military in a time of war. He knows this will go nowhere, but throws the political bone to the homosexual lobby anyway. Why? Because he can say he tried (placating a key part of his base) while bearing no real consequence (the measure lifting the ban on gays in the military won’t succeed and so, given the relative inattention of the American people to this issue in a time of economic

crisis, there will little political price to pay for Democrats in November).

** He insists on taxpayer-subsidized abortion, resists litigation limits against health care providers and persists on wanting to micro-manage Americans’ medical care but urges Republicans to share with him their ideas about health reform - as though they have not already done so myriad times!

** He is all over the map on taxes, calls for yet another commission on entitlement reform (as if the several essential steps were not obvious, especially after many other such reform bills, panels, studies, commissions, select committees, etc.) and rewrites the economic history of the past decade —- and does so with such seeming intensity that one wants to join him in the land of political make-believe.

The President needs to come to terms with some basic realities: People aren’t stupid. Politicians aren’t children. Civility doesn’t mean acquiescence. And facts are stubborn things.

FRC Pledges to Oppose President’s Proposals to Sexualize the Military, Socialize Child Care and Penalize Married Couples

by JP Duffy

January 28, 2010

Washington, D.C.- Family Research Council President Tony Perkins released the following statement in response to President Obama’s first State of the Union Address:

At a time of enormous economic challenge, two on-going wars in which Americans are fighting and increased terrorist threats to Americans at home, President Obama seems untethered from that reality as he called on Congress to force the military to allow open homosexuality. As a veteran of the Marine Corps, the timing of the President’s call in the midst of two wars shows that he is willing to jeopardize our nation’s security to advance the agenda of the radical homosexual lobby.

The military is a warrior culture for a reason: Our service members wear the uniform to fight and win wars, not serve as liberal social policy guinea pigs. The sexual environment the President is seeking to impose upon the young men and women who serve this country is the antithesis of the successful warfighting culture and as such should be rejected.

Tonight the President also proposed expanding the Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit which would only benefit families if: both parents work, a single parent works, or one parent works and the other is in school. In other words, it completely discriminates against families with stay-at-home parents, who wouldn’t see a penny from this plan. The President’s plan further drives a wedge between parents and children as it would encourage parents to place their children in government approved day-care rather than encouraging one parent to stay home and personally care for their off-spring.

This new socialized child care proposal comes on the heels of a proposed major marriage tax penalty included within the President’s health care bills. A tax penalty on married couples only serves to discourage couples from marrying while encouraging societal instability through cohabitation and divorce.

If this administration cared about getting families back on their feet, it would double or triple the across-the-board child tax credit and let parents decide how to spend the money. For many, it may be all the incentive they need to stay home and care for their kids.

We applaud Governor Bob McDonnell for calling for a land in which ‘innocent human life is protected.’ There is no more innocent life than that which is carried in a mother’s womb, and the Governor’s call is not only right in itself but is also clearly in line with the convictions of the American people, who overwhelmingly oppose the President’s proposal to use our hard earned dollars to pay for abortion coverage in his health reform plan.

Family Research Council pledges to work with our allies and the thousands of families we represent to oppose the President’s plans to socialize child care, sexualize the military, and penalize married couples through a government takeover of the U.S. health care system.”


Massachusetts, Senator-elect Brown, and Jack Bauers War

by Chris Gacek

January 26, 2010

Last week I wrote a blog post on Barack Obamas conduct in what I called Jack Bauers War. That is the war being conducted directly against the jihadists. In the week since then we have discovered more disturbing information about the Obama administrations performance in this conflict. For example, Jeffrey Kuhner of the Washington Times asserted on his weekday radio show that it is now well-known that the underwear bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was questioned for only 50 minutes before he was read his Miranda rights. This is true. See the Wall Street Journal article affirming these facts.

I argued that these Jack Bauer war issues are a political acid that are badly damaging Barack Obama and the Democratic Party.

The national security issue has been mentioned as one that Scott Brown ran on but MSM reporting has not placed it as a first-tier issue in Massachusetts. However, in Jamie Glazovs interview with national security attorney and former prosecutor, Andy McCarthy, in Frontpage Magazine, we read the following (my emphasis):

McCarthy: …. The Brown campaigns internal polling told them something very interesting. While its true that healthcare is what nationalized the election and riveted everyones attention to it, it was the national security issues that put real distance between the two candidates in the mind of the electoratein blue Massachusetts of all places. Sen.-elect Brown was able to speak forcefully and convincingly on issues like treating our jihadist enemies as combatants rather than mere defendants, about killing terrorists and preventing terrorism rather than contenting ourselves with prosecutions after Americans have been killed, about tough interrogation when necessary to save innocent lives. Martha Coakley, by contrast, had to try to defend the indefensible, which is Obama-style counterterrorism. It evidently made a huge difference to voters.

Similarly, the brilliant American-Israeli columnist for the Jerusalem Post, Caroline Glick, picked up on this as well. She made note of Robert Costas National Review interview (1/19/2010) with Eric Fehrnstrom, the Brown campaigns senior strategist. Fehrnstrom made the following points about the national security issue:

On the issues, people talk about the potency of the health-care issue, but from our own internal polling, the more potent issue here in Massachusetts was terrorism and the treatment of enemy combatants, says Fehrnstrom. Health care, he says, was helpful in fundraising, but it was the campaigns focus on national security in the final week that he believes helped to give voters another issue to associate with Brown…. (2nd paragraph from bottom)

Wow. KSMs trial in NYC; the undie bomber trial’s in Detroit; moving / releasing Gitmo prisoners. These are wounds that wont stop bleeding.

December 2009 «

» February 2010