Month Archives: September 2011

Americas First Peacetime Flag

by Robert Morrison

September 8, 2011

My friend, Dick Libby, is a vexillologist. He studies flags. Dick worked for years to correct the version of the Shaw flag that flies over the heads of thousands of schoolchildren and tourists in our old State House in Annapolis, Maryland. I call this handsome banner the Shaw-Libby flag, since Dick Libby spent more time getting it right than even the redoubtable Col. Shaw did.

As we await the presidents speech to Congress this week, its worth thinking of that Shaw-Libby flag again. As Dick points out, this flag was Americas first peacetime flag.

How so? It was flown in Annapolis when Congress met there in late 1783. It was the flag that Gen. George Washington saw when he came to this historic town to resign his commission. He wanted to make a great symbolic gesture by returning his power to the source of his authority: the representatives of a free and peaceful people.

Today, our presidents approval rating is sinking. The Washington Post reports that the Obama administration which began with such high hopes is finding it harder to sustain those hopes. Congress can take little comfort from the presidents failing numbers. Americans tell pollsters they like Congress even less.

Its worth considering what things were like in 1783. Gen. Washington had just had to face down an incipient mutiny in the Continental Armys winter headquarters in Newburg, New York. The officers and men of the army had gone without pay, without promised lands, for years. They were restive. Some of their number wanted to march on Congress and demand that body keep its commitments. At the point of a bayonet.

Gen. Washington had come into their discontented ranks uninvited. He moved dramatically to the front of the hall and addressed the grumbling officers. This time, he could see that his appeals for good order and discipline were not calming the troubled waters. Washington had never considered himself a powerful orator, like Patrick Henry, like John Adams.

So he fished in his pockets for a letter, a message from a sympathetic Member of Congress which he said would put the case better. Opening the letter, he found he could not read it. As the men shuffled their feet, His Excellency searched for his eyeglasses.

Most of his officers had never seen their Commanding General wear spectacles before.

Washington, noting their murmurings said simply: Gentlemen: You will excuse me, for I have grown not only gray, but nearly blind in the service of our country.

Those quiet words were more moving to these veterans of many battles than any great orators ringing declamation. Many of the men wept openly. They had been through those battles with him and had seen him risk his life again and again.

So now, with peace assured, Gen. Washington rode into Annapolis to return his power to the source of that powerthe elected representatives of the sovereign American people. Then, as today, the U.S. economy was grinding to a halt. Then, as now, the republic was drowning in an ocean of debt. Then, as now, many people held Congress in contempt.

You mustnt give up power, your Excellency, some of his young aides pleaded. You must seize authority for the sake of our country. Washington firmly rejected this course.

I cannot act, he said sternly, the People must act.

But, sir, they protested, the People do not understand how close to collapse we are.

Unmoved, Washington answered: The People must feel an evil before they can see it.

Just in time, We the People acted. We fashioned a free republic through what young Alexander Hamilton called a miracle of reflection and choice. In time, too, we ratified a new Constitution and elected George Washington our first president.

Americans today arefeeling the evil. We feel the pain in the long lines unemployed. We pray for them, even as we are concerned we may be next in line. We feel the anguish of small business owners trapped in red tape who cannot freely hire new workers or offer new goods and services.

With all that bedevils us, all that threatens to disunite us, its important to reflect that we have come through hard, hard times before.

Today, there are journos who want to distract Americans by finding theos (theocrats) under every bed. They feel that if they can just frighten Americans with the theocrat scare, their side yet cling to power.

These journos might have been even more shocked had they read Gen. Washingtons orders to his army at the outset of the Revolution. With the British bearing down on them on Long Island in 1776, His Excellency wrote:

The fate of millions yet unborn will depend, under God, on the conduct of this army.

What? Talking about millions yet unborn? Talking about the army being under God?

How could we ever let such a theocrat lead us from that point of danger to that solemn ride under Americas first peacetime flag, the Shaw-Libby flag?

We did. By Gods grace we did. Let us pray we will yet be able to seek Gods aid in passing through our own distracted times. I thought of this when I flew the Shaw-Libby flag at my Annapolis home this week.

President Obama: Haunted by Sir Winstons Ghost?

by Robert Morrison

September 6, 2011

Its safe to say our relations with the British have probably never been worse in our lifetimes. Recall that just before he went to London and bowed to beheaders, the newly inaugurated President Obama let it be known he had returned the bust of Winston Churchill to the British Embassy. He might as well have tossed it out of the Oval Office into the snow.

Then, he gifted Her Majesty with, what else, recordings of all his speeches. He followed that up with the amazingly thoughtful gesture of bestowing on Prime Minister Gordon Brown a $29.95 collection of DVDs of Hollywoods greatest films. Mr. Brown is doubtless enjoying them now, in his retirement, if he can get an adapter.

The Special Relationship fostered so carefully by the World War II alliance of Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt is in tatters. The Obama State Department is happy to tell us that Britain is no more special to us than any of the other 192 countries in the UN. (Of course, President Obama is known to think the U.S. itself is no more exceptional than Britain, or even Greece.)

It was fairly easy to be the new broom sweeping clean back in 2009. Now, however, as Rev. Wright might say, Obamas chickens are coming home to roost. Along with his sagging approval numbers is coming increasing disrespect. Rep. Maxine Waters is asking permission from her constituents to take the president to the woodshed. Former backer Peggy Noonan briskly calls him a loser on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal and asks aloud if he might just be snakebit.

The worst example of dissing the commander-in-chief, doubtless came from leftist Bill Maher. He told a nationwide audience, in an obscenity-laced routine, that he had been hoping for a president who would shoot the BP executives after the disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

A short review of our Special Relationship might be in order. When Churchill crossed the U-boat infested North Atlantic seventy summers ago in the HMS Prince of Wales, he forged an alliance that lasted through World War II, the Cold War, all the way into the hills of Tora Bora, in Afghanistan and the oilfields of Basra in Iraq. Churchill, it was said in that 1941 First Summit, felt as if he was going to meet God Almighty. FDRs son told the British Prime Minister his father thought him the greatest man in the world.

Following Roosevelts death and V-E Day in 1945, Churchill nimbly befriended Harry Truman. In fact, it was President Truman who invited the defeated ex-Prime Minister to Fulton, Missouri, the next year. Churchills Iron Curtain speech at Westminster College on March 5, 1946, made headlines around the world.

Returning to Number 10 Downing Street, Churchill welcomed in 1952 the election of his old wartime comrade Dwight D. Eisenhower as president. True, Britains Prime Minister was less entranced with Ikes Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles. Hes the only bull I know who carries his china shop with him, Winston said bitterly. But he took care not to break ranks with President Eisenhower, a man who was revered on five continents.

Ikes successor, John F. Kennedy, might have had reason to shun Sir Winston, now in retirement. After all, his father, Joe Kennedy, bitterly attacked Churchill as the man responsible for World War II and blamed Winston personally for the death of his eldest son, Joe, Jr.

As president, John F. Kennedy rose above all that. In the last months of his life, in June, 1963, he named Churchill an honorary American citizen, the first such distinction granted since Lafayette. He marshaled the English language, said JFK at the Rose Garden ceremony, and sent it into battle. During the Berlin Crises and the Cuban Missile Crisis, President Kennedy had no stronger supporters than the British.

With Lyndon Johnson, we have the first tear in the fabric of friendship. When Sir Winston died in 1965, LBJ let it be known that he would decline to attend the state funeral in London. Instead, he sent Chief Justice Earl Warren. Johnson reacted with bitter sarcasm to press inquiries as to why, if he declined to go himself, he would not at least send Vice President Humphrey:

I may have made a mistake by asking a Chief Justice to go and not asking the Vice President. I will bear in mind in connection with any future funerals your very strong feelings in the matter and try to act in accordance with our national interest.

Of a previous death in London, that of King Charles I, it was said: He nothing common did or mean upon that memorable scene. Lyndon Johnson did nothing common or mean, either, but only because he stayed home. Queen Elizabeth saved our honor then by inviting former President Eisenhower to be her personal guest.

Ronald Reagan revived the Grand Alliance. He and Margaret Thatcher were fast friends.

When Ronald Reagan became the first U.S. President to address the British House of Commons in 1982, he took care to wear a Royal Air Force tie. It was a visual reminder of Churchills tribute to the brave young fliers of the RAF: Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few.

As we look back on the years of our lives, its interesting to note that all of Churchills greatest American friends FDR, Truman, Ike, JFK and Ronald Reagan died honored and loved by the people of this Great Republic, as well.

Just four years after he was hailed as a Caesar at his 1964 nominating convention, LBJ found he dare not show his face at his partys convention in Chicago. Even his chosen successor, the hapless Hubert Humphrey, was hit by human excrement thrown by protesters and tear-gassed in his hotel by responding police as he claimed the mantle of party leadership. And who remembers Lyndon Johnsons funeral?

I do not predict and certainly do not hope for such a fate for President Obama, or even believe he is snakebitten. I dont think he has had just a run of bad luck. Nor do I think in my soul that hes being haunted by Sir Winstons ghost. Just dont tell Bill Maher who founded BP—British Petroleum: It was Winston Churchill.

Dead Baby Jokes at Planned Parenthood: Not Funny, Give Us Back Our Tax Money

by Cathy Ruse

September 6, 2011

Abby Johnson has opened a window to the world inside Planned Parenthood, the nations abortion giant, and its disgusting, worse than imagined.

If you dare, read on:

Abby Johnson Recalls: Planned Parenthood Alarm Was 2229 (BABY)

It took a few weeks before I got the alarm code to our clinic. I guess it takes that long for them to trust you. I remember getting the code and feeling shocked. The code was 2229. That seems innocent…until they told me what it spelled out…BABY. Really. Wow. We were really joking about that…our alarm code was mocking the murder of children.

A few weeks later I was introduced to our freezer in the POC (products of conception) lab. This was the freezer that held the fetal tissue until the biohazard truck came for disposal. I found out the name for that freezer…the nursery. Again, that was a joke. How had that become a joke?

Read the rest at Life News.

Those Were the Weeks that Were

by Robert Morrison

September 2, 2011

That Was the Week That Was was a BBC satire show of decades ago. It set the pattern for many American imitators. I almost feel the past two weeks have been a satire of reality. The last week in August seems like it was a month ago. We began normally enough. With Congress out, the commute in to Washington was eased. Then, on Tuesday, August 23rd, the East Coast shuddered through the strongest earthquake since 1897. Happily, there were no reported deaths or serious injuries. And most property damage was limited. In Washington, the foundations of the Washington Monument seemed more seriously damaged than was originally thought. And the National Cathedral lost some portions of its century-old towers. Theyre stringing netting inside the Gothic structure as a precaution. The stained glass windows of that magnificent edifice contain a fragment of Moon rock. It would not do to have the Moon land on worshipers.

I was on the sixth floor of my building when Earthquake Elvis started—a whole lotta shakin goin on. Out we go, by the stairs, I yelled to co-workers as I made for the exits. Those twelve flights of stairs never seemed so long. The next day, I was mildly chided for doing the wrong thing. Earthquake Advisories from Janet NapolitanoBig Sissay youre supposed to stay inside your building in the event of earthquake. But the local news acknowledged that a decade after 9/11 there is no way to persuade folks to stay inside.

We had just recovered from after-shocks when Hurricane Irene, blew in over the weekend. Downgraded to a tropical storm, she hit the Metro area hard enough. My home in Annapolis was one of the 750,000 customers without power. Not just for a few hours, but for days. We had summoned our son home from Marylands Eastern Shore, where the storm was forecast to be most intense. Salisbury might flood and lose power, we heard. So home he came.

As it happened, he was on hand to help us pitch a 12-foot limb that had fallen into our backyard. It was like Scottish gamestossing the caber. Others in our neighborhood would spend the week without power as crews chain-sawed huge uprooted trees. Now, just days later, the street is all spruced up, if not oaked or mapled.

Once the earthquake aftershocks were over and power had been restored, life could return to some semblance of normal, we thought. My wife and I sat down to watch a movie. The windows were open to receive cool breezes, the first time in days the night air was not being torn by the roaring of generators. Ah, peace and quiet returns.

Brrr-rrr-ring! The phone seemed more insistent than usual. A robo-callfrom the Anne Arundel County Police and Emergency Services. Wed never received such a call before.

The call was to inform us that one Bonrick Lee Barksdale had escaped from the District Court Building while awaiting extradition to North Carolina. The caller said he was armed and dangerous.

Off went the TV; we closed and locked the doors and windows. The robo-call advised us if Mr. Barksdale should come rapping at our door to call 9ll.

As my friend, Sig Swantstrom, a former SWAT team member, likes to say: When seconds count, the police are only minutes away. We listened to helicopters and sirens wailing in the cool night air. Our house is pretty secure, especially since we had new deadbolts installed. But I had taken Sigs advice. This soft-spoken, calm and deliberate law enforcement veteran and his friends at Texas Republic Firearms Academy hope to persuade all Americans to take seriously their Second Amendment rightsand responsibilities.

With the morning light, our neighbor told us her teenage son had already learned that Mr. Barksdale had been apprehended by police. The neighbor boy learned all of this on Facebook.

We also learned that Barksdale had been able to overpower a female security guard from a contract firmnot even a city or county police officerwho had been assigned to accompany him to his hearing. The Baltimore Suns website noted: The authorities in North Carolina wanted Barksdale on numerous charges including kidnapping, attempted 1st degree rape, first degree sex offense and robbery among other charges.

How was it that such an accused perpetrator, with a previous record of escape attempts, had been placed in a situation where he could easily overpower a hired security guard and take her weapon? Does this record convince us we should put our family members lives in the hands of the authorities?

I was prepared if Mr. Barksdale came rapping at our door. He was described as armed and dangerous. I wanted him to know: So was I.

Chinese Gendercide: An Unqualified Wrong

by Rob Schwarzwalder

September 1, 2011

The Associated Press reportsthat Chinas one-child policy (is) a surprising boon for that nations girls.

The remarkable story notes that Since 1979, China’s family planning rules have barred nearly all urban families from having a second child in a bid to stem population growth. With no male heir competing for resources, parents have spent more on their daughters’ education and well-being.

Only later in the piece do we learn the following:

With the arrival of sonogram technology in the 1980’s, some families no longer merely hoped for a boy, they were able to engineer a male heir by terminating pregnancies when the fetus was a girl.

It is gendercide,” said Therese Hesketh, a University College London professor who has studied China‘s skewed sex ratio. “I don’t understand why China doesn’t just really penalize people who’ve had sex-selective abortions and the people who do them. The law exists but nobody enforces it.”

To combat the problem, China allows families in rural areas, where son preference is strongest, to have a second child if their first is a girl. The government has also launched education campaigns promoting girls and gives cash subsidies to rural families with daughters.

Still, 43 million girls have “disappeared” in China due to gender-selective abortion as well as neglect and inadequate access to health care and nutrition, the United Nations estimated in a report last year.

Yin Yin Nwe, UNICEF’s representative to China, puts it bluntly: The one-child policy brings many benefits for girls “but they have to be born first.”

As Science Magazine writer Mara Hvistendahls Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls and the Consequences of a World Full of Men documents, the U.N. Population Fund has provided funding such that, in total, 160 million Asian women have been aborted in recent decades.

My colleague Tom McClusky, Sr. Vice-President at FRC Action, has noted that the Obama Administration not only reinstated funding for UNFPA, the UN agency that subsidizes and gives cover to Chinas repugnant policy but also increased said funding to $50 million a year.

The result, in China, has been very simple if profoundly dangerous: As CBS News reports, China simply has too many men. As noted on 60 Minutes, The one-child policy is 25 years old, so the first generation is just now reaching marriage age, and for China that’s a big problem because it is estimated that as many as 40 million of its young men could spend their lives as bachelors.

The aborted girls are persons, endowed by God with the right to life. Killing them, either due to a desire for a male child or because the coercive policy of the Communist state demands it, is immoral, an offense against our Creator and our fellow human beings. To suggest that the lives of the girls who have survived this slaughter have been improved is to lend an artifice of moral justification to gross evil.

Can we be glad some Chinese women now have college degrees? Sure. But not at the expense of millions of lives.

Exercise Builds More Bone, Less Fat with Adult Stem Cells

by David Prentice

September 1, 2011

Canadian scientists have published data that indicate exercise stimulates adult stem cells to form bone instead of fat. The scientists used a mouse model to study exercise effects on adult bone marrow stem cell and blood production. Using treadmill-conditioned mice, they found that aerobic exercise triggers adult stem cells to become bone more often than fat. The bone environment provides better conditions, called a “niche”, for adult blood stem cell development. When the mice were sedentary, the stem cells tended to form fat, which impairs blood production in bone marrow cavities.

Dr. Gianni Parise, senior author on the study, said:

The interesting thing was that a modest exercise program was able to significantly increase blood cells in the marrow and in circulation. What we’re suggesting is that exercise is a potent stimulus — enough of a stimulus to actually trigger a switch in these [adult] stem cells. Exercise has the ability to impact stem cell biology. It has the ability to influence how they differentiate.”

The results were published online before print in The FASEB Journal.

Previous studies have shown that exercise can increase the number of muscle adult stem cells, the number of new brain neurons from adult stem cells, and the number of neural adult stem cells.

Shaving by Candlelight

by Robert Morrison

September 1, 2011

Did that 12-foot limb from the oak in my back yard actually fall on my head when Irene blew through? I have never before agreed with an editorial in the Washington Post. This time, though, I have to agree with them: the Washington regions utility companies deserve kudos for the way they handled the hurricane/tropical storm.

Yes, if youd been watching the Weather Channel, youd probably figure that the Battle of Armageddon would be childs play compared to the punch Nature had in store for us.

For nearly a week, the TV stations hyped the coming hurricane. By the time the storm actually hit, Irene had been downgraded to a Category One tropical storm. Still, she was bad enough.

Did I mention we had an earthquake last week, too? Say, how come they dont name earthquakes the way they do storms of wind and rain? Let me suggest to the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey that they name earthquakes for Al Gore, Prince Charles, and some of the planets more famous Greens.

When the earthquake came, I was at work in Washington. In the days approaching the tenth anniversary of 9/11, we may be a bit apprehensive in the nations capital. Remembering that Sec. Janet Napolitano was looking out for us was not necessarily reassuring.

Once wed figured out wed been hit by Nature and not terrorists, it was better. But cell phones soon proved useless. It was a good time to remember prayer. Praying for your loved ones comes naturally when you do it every day.

Days later, the storm knocked out power to some 750,000 people in our region. My neighborhood in Annapolis became truly neighborly with the power outage. The lights were out barely five minutes before Gordon, my next-door neighbor, was knocking on our door. He offered to let us plug in to his generator for the fridge and the sump pump that keeps our basement dry. And each morning before dawn, Gordon would be there, politely informing us hed have to go down for a half hour to re-fuel the generator.

John lives several houses away. Before this, wed only waved, but in a friendly way. We respected his privacy. Now, John swung his big SUV around the cul-de-sac, offering to get gas for each of us to power the generators. He refused all our attempts to reimburse him.

I wish I could say that storms and natural disasters always bring out the best in people. Our married daughter reported that her new neighborhood in Virginia was quite friendly, with most folks bringing their grills out onto front lawns and making a cookout of the food that wasnt going to stay refrigerated once they lost power.

But as she ventured forth to find ice, it wasnt too good to see the woman leaving the local Wal-Mart tightly grasping the last eighteen bags of ice in the store. Hunting for a Laundromat for two hours when youre pregnant with twins cannot be much fun, either, but at least it gives you a chance to re-charge your cell phone.

People are supposed to understand that when you come to an intersection and all the traffic lights are out, you should take turns entering. When one heedless fellow in a truck just barreled through at 55 mph, our normally quiet and reserved daughter yelled out: HEY, ITS NOT YOUR TURN! For the next hour, she was treated to her 2 12 year old repeating Its not your turn! at the top of his voice. It shows us how little ears are always listening.

Some merchants rose to the occasion. Our daughter reports that a young woman at Starbucks took pity on her when she arrived, somewhat bedraggled after hunting ice and a Laundromat. The coffee lady came to her table with a special cookie treat for our grandson. Their local Panera stayed open throughout the storm. Our loved ones joined the throngs that sought their only hot meals there. With long lines snaking out the door the morning after the storm, the Panera staff worked the line, taking orders and cheering harried diners.

Our Annapolis home suddenly became a strange place in the dark. Going to early bed by candlelight, my wife and I had to take care to avoid tripping over extension cords. We slept in back rooms. The neighborhoods many generators made the place sound like the starting line at the Indianapolis Speedway.

When, after four days, the power was finally restored, we rejoiced. It was like finding that lost coin. Some 3,800 utility crews had descended on Anne Arundel County from all over the country. It reminds us that we are connected to each other by more than just power lines. It is also a reminder of how blessed we are to live in the United States, where access to electrical power is the norm, not the exception.

Historic Annapolis Foundation wants us all to be proud of our 320-year old city.

I am proud to live in a town where George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison shaved by candlelight. But Id prefer shaving by the light of an historic incandescent light bulb. Thanks to BG&E, and may God bless the hard-working crews who labored through the storm and through the nights to bring back power to the people.

Chocolate Helps Your Heart

by David Prentice

September 1, 2011

Scientists have published evidence that eating chocolate can decrease risk of heart disease. The paper analyzed and combined the results of seven separate studies, involving over 114,000 participants. Results indicated that high levels of chocolate consumption might be associated with a one third reduction in the risk of developing heart disease. The scientists also note that more studies are needed to determine whether it is actually the chocolate consumption or some other factor that they didn’t analyze, that was responsible for the increased heart health. The studies looked at the consumption of dark chocolate as well as milk chocolate, chocolate drinks and other chocolate confectionaries.

Dr. Oscar Franco, senior author on the study, said:

Chocolate may be beneficial, but it should be eaten in a moderate way, not in large quantities and not in binges. If it is consumed in large quantities, any beneficial effect is going to disappear.

The analysis was published in the British Medical Journal, as an open-access study; that means you can read the paper for free (but the chocolate costs extra.)

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