Month Archives: January 2011

Genetic Associations

by David Prentice

January 20, 2011

A recent paper suggests that there may be a genetic link between friends, that is, you may associate with others based on similar genetic patterns. The paper, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that even when controlling for genetic likeness due to sex, age, race or common ancestry, groups of friends had apparent genetic similarities at two genomic locations, one at a gene encoding the dopamine D2 receptor, DRD2, and the other at a cytochrome gene, CYP2A6. Whether this is a real genetic tendency is disputed in the genetics community. But this most recent news does highlight the almost weekly reports of genetic associations with various behaviors. While genetic associations with disease have better data, behavioral genetics is on less firm ground.

Ronald Reagans First Inaugural: January 20, 1981

by Robert Morrison

January 20, 2011

President Ronald Reagan took the oath of office thirty years on the West Front of the Capitol thirty years ago today. Reagan wanted his Inauguration to symbolize a break with the past. This most outspokenly conservative president believed that the journey West had been the most significant part of our national character. He had himself taken New York editor Horace Greeleys advice: Go West, Young Man.

As he looked out on that fine, clear afternoon, he spoke of the scene before him:

This is the first time in history that this ceremony has been held… on this West Front of the Capitol. Standing here, one faces a magnificent vista, opening up on this city’s special beauty and history. At the end of this open mall are those shrines to the giants on whose shoulders we stand.

Directly in front of me, the monument to a monumental man: George Washington, Father of our country. A man of humility who came to greatness reluctantly. He led America out of revolutionary victory into infant nationhood. Off to one side, the stately memorial to Thomas Jefferson. The Declaration of Independence flames with his eloquence.

And then beyond the Reflecting Pool the dignified columns of the Lincoln Memorial. Whoever would understand in his heart the meaning of America will find it in the life of Abraham Lincoln.

Unlike todays leaders, Reagan was in no doubt about American exceptionalism. He thought an overweening government threatened Americas exceptionalism. He said so plainly:

Now, so there will be no misunderstanding, it is not my intention to do away with government. It is, rather, to make it work — work with us, not over us; to stand by our side, not ride on our back. Government can and must provide opportunity, not smother it; foster productivity, not stifle it.

If we look to the answer as to why, for so many years, we achieved so much, prospered as no other people on Earth, it was because here, in this land, we unleashed the energy and individual genius of man to a greater extent than has ever been done before.

Reagan went to Hollywood as a young man. There, he built a career and a family and a modest family fortune. He came to understand that under liberal tax laws, it made no sense to work harder, to make that extra movie, or host that extra few TV programs if Washington was going to claim all that income in higher taxes.

Liberal Speaker of the House Tip ONeill thought Reagan terribly selfish for his opposition to higher marginal tax rates. And Tip thought he was about to unleash a decade of greed upon the country. Reagan thought a man could be counted as truly liberal who gave away his own money, not if he voted to have the government take away his neighbors money. Reagan was extremely generous with his own money. In the decade of the 1980s, under his leadership, we saw an unprecedented avalanche of private charitable giving.

We also saw some terrible scandals on Wall Street. But why is it a reflection on Reagans conservatism when liberals on Wall Street commit abuses? Even recently, we saw that most of Bernie Madoffs victims were charter members of that same Hollywood left that thinks every other business and industry is crooked. When called upon to invest their own money, these Hollywood liberals beat a path to the quick, if shady, buck.

Speaker Tip ONeill held the seat in the House of Representatives that young John Kennedy had occupied until 1953. Young Jack was inaugurated as President on this day fifty years ago.

Its a matter of historical fact that Reagan the President never criticized President Kennedy. He had too much respect for all our great history to do that. And he was wise enough to know that millions of those who had voted Jack into office became Reagan Democrats by 1980.

Perhaps thats why Reagan, on this day in 1981, sought to unify the country by quoting not one of his fellow Westerners, not some conservative political icon from the 1950s, but a Patriot from Boston, the beloved hometown of Tip ONeill and Jack Kennedy:

Dr. Joseph Warren, President of the Massachusetts Congress, said to his fellow Americans, “Our country is in danger, but not to be despaired of…. On you depend the fortunes of America. You are to decide the important questions upon which rests the happiness and the liberty of millions yet unborn. Act worthy of yourselves.”

We are today at the halfway point of a radical new administration. What is most amazing about this administration is what a sharp departure it is from the America of both Jack Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. Its time again to act worthy of ourselves.

Im Pro-Life Because…

by Robert Morrison

January 20, 2011

Im pro-life because Thomas Jefferson was. Whats that, you say? Jefferson never spoke about abortion. Of course not. Surgical abortion was so dangerous prior until about 1800 that it killed the mother as well as the unborn child. But Jefferson was assuredly pro-life.

The care of human life and happiness is the first and only legitimate object of good government, he wrote when he was president. They had a balanced budget then, because the president had his priorities straight. In 1774, young Jefferson had written the god who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time. That was his ringing phrase in the Summary View of the Rights of British America. God gives us life; God gives us liberty. Pretty clear. Later, of course, Jefferson would give us his best lines: …all men are created equal, they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Under the misrule of Roe v. Wade, 52 million Americans have been denied their inalienable right to life. It is, as it has been from the beginning, wholly illegitimate. Jefferson thought there should be more Americans, not fewer. When he purchased the Louisiana Territory, he said there would be room enough on those fruited plains for Americans to the hundredth generation.

Im pro-life because Benjamin Franklin was. Well, if you were the tenth son of your father, youd probably be pro-life, too. Franklin, we know, was not always chaste. He had a child out of wedlock. And he immediately brought him into the family circle, where he raised his son as his own. When that son also had a son out of wedlock, Benjamin loved and cherished this grandson and kept him close to his heart. I dont recommend this as a way of enlarging a family, but it is surely a pro-life sentiment to love and guide your flesh and blood. Franklin, too, welcomed more Americans. In 1762, before we were even a nation, he calculated what our population might be one hundred twenty years thence.

He predicted that America would be home to 162 million people in 1882. The U.S. Census of 1880 showed Old Ben to have been off by less than one percent! When Dr. Franklin served in Paris, he rode out in his carriage to see the first manned ascent in a hot-air balloon. Fashionable French women fainted to see the balloon rise high above Versailles. (Well, maybe it was those tight corsets or those heavy hairpieces.) Four hundred thousand Frenchmen had come out to see the great event. Someone in the crowd was skeptical, however. They asked Dr. Franklin of what practical use the manned balloon was. With a twinkle in his eye, the most practical man in the world replied: Of what practical use is a newborn baby? Now, thats pro-life!

Im pro-life because George Washington was. He spoke often of his hopes for America, for millions yet unborn. He noted, in words that were not included in his First Inaugural, but which revealed his heart, that he and Martha had not been blessed with children.

One of Washingtons successors seems to think of childrenat least those born out of wedlock as Franklins son and grandson wereas punishments. Washington knew that children are a blessing from the Lord, and said so. Washington looked West, as Jefferson did, so that America could have room to expand, room to become the haven for the oppressed of many lands. No one comes to America to do away with their unborn children.

In signing the Constitution, Washington joined with the childless James Madison in seeking the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity. Now, just who might these men have been thinking about if they did not have children of their own? Us. They thought of us as their posterity. Pro-lifers care about our posterity. We welcome every child in life and work to see them protected in law.

Im pro-life because Lincoln was. He rejoiced that Americas population was growingeven in the dreadful days of civil war and slaughterLincoln welcomed the swelling chorus of the Union. He had put the slavery issue in this context: Nothing stamped in the divine image was sent into the world to be trod upon. FRC welcomed President Obama to Washington with those words and this most civil and respectful question: Are not unborn children so stamped?

Im pro-life because Ronald Reagan, my great chief, was pro-life. In fact, Reagan was the first president to use the term pro-life. He wasnt just anti-abortion, as the liberal media constantly said. He understood that being pro-life inspired us to oppose abortion and euthanasiaas well as standing up to an evil empire that killed to keep itself in power.

It was Reagan who said abortion is a great wound in the soul of America.

And, yes, Im pro-life because, more than any of these, Jesus is pro-life: I came that they might have life and have it abundantly. His Word tells us therefore choose life.

Do we need a better reason?

Obamas De-Regulation Proposal Boob Bait for Corporate Bubbas

by Chris Gacek

January 20, 2011

The late Daniel Patrick Moynihan, United States Senator from New York, characterized presidential candidate Bill Clintons endorsement of welfare reform as boob bait for Bubbas. More specifically, Clinton had promised to end welfare as we know it. Moynihan saw it for the deceptive ploy that it was: a cheap way to act tough and win votes from more conservative working class voters.

As I see it, yesterday in the pages of the Wall Street Journal Barack Obama offered his own cynical reform proposal by throwing his army of regulators under the bus for a news cycle. President Obama and his new crony capitalist fixer, chief of staff Bill Dailey, offered up some boob bait for corporate Bubbas: a toothless proposal to eliminate needless bureaucracy while making big business feel like someones listening.

I heard one reporter on the Wall Street Journals internet video channel, The News Hub, assert that the symbolism of the presidential proposal was more important than whether it accomplished anything. Somehow it signaled that he is moving to the center. Are you kidding? I want to see the nitty gritty details that make up this marshmallow not hear about meaningless symbolism.

Apparently, the President signed an executive order on Monday requiring that federal agencies ensure that regulations protect our safety, health and environment while promoting economic growth. It ordered a government-wide review of the rules already on the books to remove outdated regulations that stifle job creation and make our economy less competitive. Wow, nobody ever thought of this before.

This is laughable. There are thousands upon thousands upon thousands of pages of regulations, and the Obama Team is just going to go in and remove the outdated regs that stifle job creation.

This makes me wonder how many hundred attorneys are working on this project? Because it would take hundreds of attorneys a very long time to evaluate the entire body of regulations and determine whether they are overlapping, burdensome, or costly. Who is running this project? What is his or her name? What are the deadlines for producing a list of executive orders, regulations, and statutes that need to be changed or eliminated.

Dont hold your breath waiting for the answer. Mondays White House effort was almost completely public relations driven. Sure, there may be a few show piece regulations that are rescinded, but all this is intended to give cover to one of the largest onslaughts of regulation ever attempted by any administration. Talk of reforming the bureaucracy and government 2.0 while exploding the scope and cost of regulations, thats the way to get ready for 2012.

This is serious business for the White House because its heavy handed medical reform law, investment-killing financial reform law, and environmental regulations, to name a few, may have crushed the hopes for business investment to fuel a re-election needed economic recovery. As Elizabeth Williamson aptly notes in her Wall Street Journal story on the Obama initiative:

Business leaders say an explosion in new regulations stemming from the president’s health-care and financial regulatory overhauls has, along with the sluggish economy, made them reluctant to spend on expanding and hiring. Companies are sitting on nearly $2 trillion in cash and liquid assets, the most since World War II.

Yes, business is on strike waiting to see the result of the next election, and small businesses, the engine of hiring, appear to be in the bunker wating for November 2012. They are voting with that $2 trillion, and Mr. Obama isnt winning this race.

City of Hope Does 10,000th Adult Stem Cell Transplant

by David Prentice

January 19, 2011

Adult stem cells continue to improve health and save lives around the world. One of the pioneering sites, City of Hope in Duarte, California, has now done its 10,000th adult stem cell transplant. It is one of the first transplant sites in the world to reach this milestone. The 10,000th transplant was for a patient with advanced leukemia, who received stem cells from an unrelated volunteer donor who was a compatible match.

City of Hope currently performs nearly 500 adult stem cell transplant procedures each year, and has helped the method evolve into a gold standard treatment for several diseases. Over 50,000 adult stem cell transplants are done each year around the globe, with approximately 57% using the patient’s own adult stem cells, and 43% using donor adult stem cells. Adult stem cell transplants are also moving beyond cancer treatments to published success treating patients for spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, heart damage, and many other conditions. Adult stem cells save lives now.

Genetic Abnormalities in Embryonic Stem Cells

by David Prentice

January 7, 2011

A study just published in the journal Cell Stem Cell has highlighted the erratic and abnormal nature of pluripotent stem cells such as embryonic stem cells, and the inherent danger of such cells for clinical applications. The new study found significant genetic abnormalities in human pluripotent stem cells, including embryonic stem cells and induced pluripotent stem cell lines. The team identified regions in the genome that had a greater tendency to become abnormal in pluripotent cell lines.

According to lead author Louise Laurent:

We found that human pluripotent cells (hESCs and iPSCs) had higher frequencies of genomic aberrations than other cell types. We were surprised to see profound genetic changes occurring in some cultures over very short periods of time.”

Genetic aberrations have been strongly associated with cancers. They found that the degree of abnormality differs more between hESC lines than hiPSC lines, and that the reprogramming process was associated with deletions of tumor-suppressor genes, whereas time in culture was associated with duplications of oncogenic genes.

Previous studies have documented numerous genetic and chromosomal problems with embryonic stem cells, including a substantial number of pluripotent cell lines with full and partial chromosomal aberrations. This new study used a high-resolution molecular technique called “single nucleotide polymorphism” (SNP) analysis, allowing the researchers to check genetic changes at more than a million sites in the human genome.

Preview of ProLife Con: Lila Rose

by Krystle Gabele

January 7, 2011

On January 24, FRC will be holding ProLifeCon. We have several amazing speakers lined up to discuss the issues impacting the pro-life online community.

Lila Rose, President of LiveAction, is one of our featured speakers, and I am excited to hear about her experiences exposing corruption and illegal activity within Planned Parenthood. Lila is also a recipient of a Life Prize from the Gerard Health Foundation and Young Leader Award from the Susan B. Anthony List.

Lila is a graduate of UCLA. When Lila was 15, she founded Live Action, which uses new media to educate and mobilize people from across the country to demand accountability from the abortion industry and human rights for the unborn. Since Live Action was founded, Lila has gone undercover to expose the illegal activity occurring within Planned Parenthood through the Mona Lisa Project. With many of her videos surfacing, several state investigations have occurred and Tennessee passed legislation to stop funding Planned Parenthood. Below is one of Lila’s videos from the Rosa Acuna project:

Our World is Upside Down

by Chris Gacek

January 6, 2011

Accuracy in Medias interview with Melanie Phillips, the British author, known for her book, Londonistan, is tremendously thought provoking. The interviewer, Roger Aronoff, discusses her latest book, The World Turned Upside Down: The Global Battle over God, Truth, and Power, in this interview. Aronoff writes of her:

Among the issues most important to Ms. Phillips, are the breakdown of the family, the obsession with multiculturalism, the phenomenon of radical Islam coming into Britain and not being dealt with properly, and Israel, of which she is a passionate supporter.

In the interview Phillips makes this point about the driving beliefs of the Left:

The higher up the social and educational scale you go, particularly people who have been educated in universities in the last decade or two, you find that they are people who are much more likely to have a highly ideological view of the world, to be anti-America, anti-West, anti-capitalism, and to havemost importantlyno idea what truth and objectivity actually are. They disdain the whole notion of truth and objectivity, and theyre the people who are the most vicious and venomous towards Israel, a subject I care about very deeply.

Paradoxically and suicidally all these animosities leave the Western intellectual open to tolerance of Isamists. They seem motivated by something like the enemy of my enemy is my ally. Anybody who hates capitalism, the United States, and Israel cant be all bad. Consequently, Sharia law is treated with an acceptance and promotion that no Christian could ever dare to expect for his beliefs:

…in Britain, weve given a lot of ground to sharia law. Were turning a blind eye to it. So we are tolerating, in Britain, for example, polygamy. We are giving welfare benefits to polygamous households. We are tolerating, and even tolerating, sharia courts. Now, sharia courts, they are courts which do not recognize a superior law of the land, and, consequently, we have the terrible phenomenon developing in Britain of parallel jurisdictions in which British Muslim women, who are British citizens, are effectively being forced to live under a rule of law administered informally within their communities which makes them into second-class citizens. One cannot have that.

Well, hopefully that will be prevented in the United States, but the same nihilistic forces are at work here that are working to destroy political freedom and Western values in Britain.

* * *

Phillips analysis also points to what is perhaps the most suicidal aspect of modern life in the secular West: its embrace of a demographic self-annihilation. Birth control and abortion have led to the depopulation of the advanced industrialized societies. This is no news flash. It has been known for many years to demographers. Pat Buchanan popularized these trends long ago in his 2002 book The Death of the West (see Rod Drehers short review).

There is not abating this development: for example, in 2008 Japan had more deaths than births, so said a report that countrys health ministry.

At what point does the right of a society to survive outweigh the right to privacy in American judicial parlance? Couldnt there be a compelling public interest in survival that outweighs the rights announced in Griswold v. Connecticut (contraception) or Roe v. Wade (abortion). Is the answer to merely allow immigration to the point that a society no longer recognizes itself?

The Japanese have chosen not to allow immigration and to have population aging and decline. Their beloved culture is self-destructing, but it appears better to continue to allow abortion.

Now that is a world turned upside.

It’s Still Just Me”

by Rob Schwarzwalder

January 5, 2011

Today John Boehner became Speaker of the House of Representatives. As the cheers and hoo-rahs poured forth from the House floor and the visitors’ gallery, the new Speaker smiled and said quietly, “It’s still just me.” Then he began his formal speech.

In an era when government has grown to almost imponderable proportions and pretense, it is nice to have someone in a senior leadership position who remembers where he is from and that political power is, however long in life-years, objectively very brief.

There are scores of new Members of Congress. Around the nation hundreds of new state legislators are being sworn-in as well. There is much to celebrate about this: The transfer of partisan power whose peacefulness we take for granted; a recent election that gave much cause for social conservative rejoicing; and the prospect of a more serious commitment to constitutional governance.

Yet —- as Isaiah 40 reminds us —- in God’s sight, “nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are regarded as a speck of dust on the scales … He it is who reduces rulers to nothing, Who makes the judges of the earth meaningless.”

In other words, political power is fleeting. When politicians recognize this —- as it seems John Boehner does —- a humbler, wiser, less arrogant government might well ensue. This will be especially true if the new Speaker, and all public servants, recall God’s words about where true power lies:

To whom then will you liken Me, that I would be his equal?” says the Holy One.

Lift up your eyes on high

And see who has created these stars,

The One who leads forth their host by number,

He calls them all by name;

Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power,

Not one of them is missing. (Isaiah 40:25-26)

Preview of ProLifeCon

by Krystle Gabele

January 5, 2011

ProLifeCon is right around the corner on January 24. I hope you will be able to join us at ProLifeCon and hear from some amazing speakers. Not to mention that this event will allow you to meet other pro-life internet activists throughout the country as well.

[caption id=”attachment_4634” align=”alignright” width=”109” caption=”Image originally from JillStanek.com”][/caption]

Jill Stanek, who runs JillStanek.com, is one of our featured speakers and emcee at ProLifeCon. I’m excited to see and hear Jill speak again, as she is enthusiastic about pro-life causes. Jill is also a 2008 recipient of a Life Prizes award.

Jill served as a registered nurse in the Labor and Delivery Department at Christ Hospital in Illinois, and it was her commitment to her faith that led her to risk her job, reputation, and friendships to stop the practices of abortion. While as a nurse at Christ Hospital, Jill discovered that abortions were being committed at the hospital and babies were being aborted alive to die without medical care. After the hospital refused to stop the practice of abortion, Jill exposed the hospital’s practices and became a national figure to protect the unborn. Since then, Jill has testified before the Judiciary Constitution Subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives.

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