Month Archives: August 2011

Washington Posts Ombudsman Goes Populist

by Robert Morrison

August 25, 2011

I read in a recent issue of the Washington Post that the newspapers future is being firmly staked on going populist. (I scan the Post, dear reader, so you dont have to.) The column ran on the editorial page of the capitals hometown paper, so it must be important. The writer was Patrick Pexton. Ive never heard of this estimable fellow before, but Mr. Pexton is identified as the Ombudsman for the Post.

Now, an Ombudsman is someone hired by a newspaper to keep it fair, balanced, and not easily swayed. Ombudsman is a Swedish word, imported into our country by those dear Social Democrats who flock to book-signings by Garrison Keillor and who like to think of themselves as populists, not liberals. They think that taxing the people to keep NPR on the air is just another example of good government. Ombudsmen are people who cheer when they see you putting out your re-cycling bin. Shoveling public monies for their pet projects is something they regard as populist, a shovel-ready project if ever there was one.

I was intrigued by the idea of the Washington Post going populist. Does that mean that former Post editor Ben Bradlee will hold his 91st birthday party in, say, Williamsburg or Annapolis, instead of where he held his 90thin the plus chic Ile de Re, off Frances Atlantic coast? (What, Ben, has Marthas Vineyard become passe?)

Mr. Pexton assures us that the Post cant be a liberal or a conservative [newspaper]. It must be hard-hitting and scrappy and questioningskeptical of all political figures and parties.

Uh, the Post is not a liberal newspaper? You may have heard of this weeks earthquake in Washington. Nature herself must have hiccupped at the bald assertion that the Post is not a liberal paper. Is the Leaning Tower of Pisa leaning left or right? Well, it depends on where you stand. But everyone knows it leans.

Heres a little readers test of the Washington Posts self-proclaimed populism. Which of the following groups gets called in the Post what it calls itself: The Peoples Republic of China, the old Soviet Union, al Qaeda, Islamic Jihad, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Muslim Brotherhood, Marriage Equality, or the Pro-Life Movement?

The Posts Ombudsman may want to be populist, but not that populist. National Public Radio (NPR) caught a lot of flak from its liberal listeners when it dared to use the term pro-life.

NPR has an Ombudsman, too, a gentleman named Edward Schumacher-Matos. Last year, Mr. Schumacher-Matos wrote:

I checked with NBC, CBS, CNN, the Associated Press, the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Philadelphia Inquirer and not one of them uses the terms “pro-choice” or “pro-life.”

We call them pro-abortion rights and anti-abortion rights because it’s the right to abortion that we’re talking about,” said Linda Mason, CBS senior vice president of news and in charge of standards. “What does pro-life mean? That leaves people scratching their heads.”

In their world, abortion is of course a right. And we should be taxed to pay for it, as we are under ObamaCare. So CBSs Linda Mason wouldnt dream of calling us pro-lifers we call ourselves. For them, abortion is not just a right; its a rite.

One of the reasons so many groups known to us simplistic types as terrorists get called, with all due respect, by the name they call themselves, is that they have a record of kidnapping journalists they dont like. They murdered the Wall Street Journals Danny Pearl and held FOX News Steve Centanni hostage until he agreed to renounce his Christian faith on camera.

Non-violent pro-lifers simply march on Washington every January 22nd We pray and sing and call for laws to protect innocent human life. Hundreds of thousands of us have come for thirty-eight years to petition for the redress of this grievous grievance.

Still the liberal media scratch their heads. Violence is not an option for pro-lifers. But registering, voting, and speaking out are options for us. Sometimes, we even get to laugh. Like when we read that the Washington Post is not liberal, but populist.

The Social Conservative Review: August 25, 2011

by Krystle Gabele

August 25, 2011

Click here to subscribe to The Social Conservative Review


Dear Friends,

The central irony of Christian citizenship is that no country will find better citizens than those willing to defy its laws if those laws demand a loyalty to the state greater than that owed to the God of the Bible. As Declaration of Independence signer and Princeton president John Witherspoon put it,

Another reason why the servants of God are represented as troublesome is, because they will not, and dare not comply with the sinful commandments of men. In matters merely civil, good men are the most regular citizens and the most obedient subjects. But, as they have a Master in heaven, no earthly power can constrain them to deny his name or desert his cause.

In other words, to be good citizens in time, Christians must be ever mindful that they belong to an eternal kingdom.

Political engagement by Christians is, at a foundational level, unavoidable. If you pay taxes, if you serve in the military, if you get a driver’s license, if you sign a property deed, if you have medical or life insurance, if you turn on the shower or pay a heating bill, what you are doing is in some way touched by government regulation and law.

This engagement does not need to be consuming, of course. Not everyone is called to be equally active in the public square. However, the other extremes — of passivity and pretending politics neither matter nor really exist, or of withdrawal and despair after one’s (false) expectations are dashed — are a matter of either an impoverished grasp of Scripture or, worse, mere religious pretense, not fidelity to the Bible. Never to vote, never to speak, never to defend those without a voice, the weak and powerless and helpless, is to accede to evil.

Do good unto all men,” writes Paul the Apostle (Galatians 6:10). This is a charge with an active voice. Christians cannot fulfill this command unless, in the public arena, we stand for truth with a gracious but undauntable spirit. Our fellow citizens, and our country as a whole, deserve no less.

Sincerely,

Rob Schwarzwalder

Senior Vice President

Family Research Council

P.S. What is the status of conservatism in America? Family Research Council’s Senior Fellow for Family Empowerment, Ken Blackwell, appeared on CNS News August 12, 2011 to discuss the conservative movement in our country today.


Educational Freedom and Reform

Homeschooling

Legislation and Policy Proposals

Government Reform

Regulation

Waste/Fraud/Abuse

Health Care

Abstinence

Conscience Protection

Health care reform: Political and Legislative efforts

Homosexuality

Human Life and Bioethics

Abortion

Bioethics and Biotechnology

Euthanasia and End of Life Issues

Stem Cell Research

To read about the latest advances in ethical adult stem cell research, keep up with leading-edge reports from FRC’s Dr. David Prentice, click here.

Women’s Health

Marriage and Family

Adoption

Family Economics

Family Structure

Media

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Religion and Public Policy

Religious Liberty

Religion in America

Secularism

International

Israel

International Economy and Family

Religious Persecution

Sharia law — U.S., foreign

The Courts

Constitutional Issues

Other News of Note

Book reviews


Click here to subscribe to The Social Conservative Review

A Growing Consensus on Regulatory Strangulation

by Chris Gacek

August 23, 2011

It seems that many observers have come to the conclusion that the regulatory state is wildly out of control. Today, Senator John Barrasso pointed out in a Washington Times column that President Obamas regulatory review has only caused one regulation to nullified. It was an EPA rule that treated spilled milk like an oil spill. Barrasso also noted that since the start of the year, the administration has proposed 340 regulations at a cost of more than $65 billion to job creators. He then points to two rulemakings that will be incredibly costly: 1) the first is an EPA rule targeting utility companies; 2) the second is literally unprecedented and regulates mileage for medium- and heavy-duty trucks. Looming in the distance is EPAs ozone rule which will be the single most environmental regulation in history. Needless, to say jobs will be lost, businesses destroyed, wealth annihilated, and families crushed economically as no jobs are created.

Next to Barrassos is a column by Richard Rahn who offers a suggestion for a statutory change that might help. He argues that before any regulation (not just major ones) is promulgated by any government department (including theIRS) or independent agency, the department or agency must have done a competent, complete and independent cost-benefit study. His proposal also contains an innovative proposal for allowing the public to sue and stop a regulation if they can show that its costs exceed its benefits.

If we are going to curb the excesses of the regulatory state we are going to have to many more ideas like Rahns (i.e., aggressive, non-deferential to agencies), but the most important steps we can take are to repeal the statutes that give sweeping regulation-making powers to government.

Economic policy has been measured in terms of consumption, government spending, investment, and monetary policy for many years. We have reached the point where more precise measures of regulatory burden are going to need to be developed and added to this mix if we are to have an accurate idea of the nations true level of economic activity and potential for growth.

Back to School, Executive Style

by Rob Schwarzwalder

August 23, 2011

The annual American migration to schools of all kinds begins in earnest next month. So it might be a good time to consider the educational bona fides of those aspiring to be our President.

Several of them (Obama, Romney, Huntsman) are Ivy Leaguers. That’s fine, but a degree from a “prestige” school is no guarantee of character, conviction or competence.Clearly, Mr. Obama will be the nominee of the Democratic Party. Occidental, Columbia, and Harvard Law: An impressive list. Yet the current crop of Republican contenders has a wide educational background:

  • Texas Gov. Rick Perry hails from Texas A&M, where he served as both a member of the Corps of Cadets and a yell leader at sports events.
  • Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, while not formally a candidate, might well become one. She graduated with a degree in communications with an emphasis in journalism from the University of Idaho after a varied undergraduate career that took her as far as Hawaii.
  • Businessman Herman Cain went to a historically black college, Morehouse, before getting a graduate degree from Purdue.
  • Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann: Winona State (Minnesota), the O.W. Coburn School of Law at Oral Roberts University; and William and Mary for a post-graduate law degree.
  • Newt Gingrich went to Emory and Tulane, where he received his Ph.D.
  • Ron Paul, M.D., went to Gettysburg College in his native Pennsylvania before graduating from Duke University School of Medicine.
  • Pennsylvania native Rick Santorum stayed local for his BA (Penn State), MBA (Pitt) and JD (Dickinson).

So, other than an interesting exercise in trivia, what’s my point? Simply that in a country as diverse and educationally rich as ours, it’s good to know that a non-Ivy League President —- like, perhaps, Eureka College grad Ronald Reagan —- can emerge from the people and do rather well.

WSJ: Britains Chief Rabbi on the Riots—Causes and Solutions

by Cathy Ruse

August 22, 2011

Here is an interesting piece from Saturdays Wall Street Journal.

Rabbi Jonathan Sacks posits that it is the breakdown of the family and, even more fundamentally, a turning away from its Judeo-Christian faith, that has created a moral crisis in the West of which the London riots are a symptom.

I do not agree with everything he says (when he calls the rioters victims and says its not their fault, that is a bridge too far for me), but his broader argument for the moral reinvigoration that a return to religion can bring to society, and its necessity in bringing about a common good, is persuasive.

An interesting quote from the end of the piece:

One of our great British exports to America, Harvard historian Niall Ferguson, has a fascinating passage in his recent book Civilization, in which he asks whether the West can maintain its primacy on the world stage or if it is a civilization in decline.

He quotes a member of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, tasked with finding out what gave the West its dominance. He said: At first we thought it was your guns. Then we thought it was your political system, democracy. Then we said it was your economic system, capitalism. But for the last 20 years, we have known that it was your religion.

NIH Approves More Embryonic Stem Cell Lines, While Adult Stem Cells Treat More Patients

by David Prentice

August 19, 2011

For those keeping track, late yesterday NIH Director Francis Collins approved four more human embryonic stem cell (hESC) lines for the embryonic stem cell registry. The four newest approvals are sold by the company BioTime, Inc., which had two other hESC lines approved June 2, 2011. Details of the embryo destruction and hESC derivation (including from siblings) were published by ESI and Sydney IVF workers in 2007, around the time that ESI abandoned its schemes for therapies based on hESC. BioTime subsequenctly acquired ESI in 2010.

The total number of approved hESC lines is now 132, after a push of approvals earlier this year at NIH. While NIH continues to waste more taxpayer funds on destructive embryo research, adult stem cells are the only stem cell treating patients, with more and more published evidence accumulating every week. Published scientific evidence over the last few months shows effectiveness of adult stem cells in helping patients with angina pain, aggressive multiple sclerosis, enlarged hearts, systemic sclerosis, and creating new windpipes, to name just a few examples of adult stem cell successes.

Adult stem cells remain the gold standard for actual patient treatments.

A Lot of Nerve, Directly

by David Prentice

August 18, 2011

Scientists at Harvard today have published a new report in the journal Cell Stem Cell, showing that ordinary fibroblasts can be directly converted into functioning motor neurons. Starting with easily-accessible mouse fibroblasts, a common cell type found in connective tissue and skin, they added a set of genes that induced generic neuronal specialization, as well as a set of genes specific for a specific nerve type, the spinal motor neuron. The initial combination of eleven genes directly converted the fibroblast cells into specific neuronal cells. In the end, a set of seven genes added to common fibroblast cells was sufficient for direct conversion to functional spinal motor neuron cells. The converted cells not only looked like neurons, but showed a gene expression pattern similar to normal spinal motor neurons, were electrically active like normal nerve cells, and could form connections in the lab dish with muscle cells and stimulate muscle contraction. When injected into developing chicken embryos, the converted cells took up normal residence in the spinal cord.

The group verified that the formation of the spinal motor neurons was due to direct conversion, and did not go through any stem cell intermediate stage. They also showed that human fibroblasts could be directly converted into functional spinal motor neurons using a set of eight neuronal genes. The ability to make specific neurons directly from common adult cells, in an ethical manner, could allow production of patient-specific cells for study of specific motor neuron characteristics, disease susceptibility, and potential drug therapies. There has been a spate of papers showing direct conversion of normal cells to nerve cells. This new paper makes the eighth paper in the last three months. That’s a lot of nerve!

Women Increasingly Sexually Exploited By Media

by Family Research Council

August 18, 2011

A study released earlier this week by sociologists at the University of Buffalo shows an area where men and women are NOT equal: oversexualization in the media. “Opportunity Objectification? The Sexualization of Men and Women on the Cover of Rolling Stone” reveals that women have become increasingly overly-sexualized by the media over the last few decades whereas men are not increasingly viewed in this demeaning and harmful way.

This is a “lose-lose” in that not only does the oversexualization of women have negative ramifications for a healthy understanding and anthropology of the dignity of women, and ultimately lead to exploitation of women and girls with such as things as child pornography and sex trafficking, but it is getting worse and worse as time goes on.

For more information you can read the study here.

The Beginning of Wisdom

by Robert Morrison

August 18, 2011

Millions of American school children are preparing to go back to school this week.

I rebel against it. Growing up inNew YorkState, we never had to think about school until Labor Day. Of course, we had to stay in school until the third week in June. Still,

I remember that about the third week in August, the weather would turn. There would be a marvelous crispness in the mornings. You felt like going back to school refreshed and ready to take on new challenges.

Next year is the fiftieth anniversary of the Supreme Courts banning the New York State Regents Prayer. I remember it still:

ALMIGHTY GOD:

WE ACKNOWLEDGE OUR DEPENDENCE UPON THEE

AND BEG THY BLESSINGS UPON US,

OUR PARENTS, OUR TEACHERS, AND OUR COUNTRY.

Years later, a colleague of mine at the U.S. Education Department commented on the late, great Regents Prayer: It never helped anybody, but it never hurt anybody, either, said this thoughtful Southern friend. I considered this sincere Christians words seriously. Never helped anybody? But wait, it helped me.

What that Regents Prayer taught an unchurched youth like me was that there was a power above even the Empire State of New York and we acknowledged our dependence upon that Higher Power.

Without acknowledging that Higher Power, is it any wonder many powerful people today worship the State? In government they move and breathe and have their being.

That prayer also taught me to respect my parents, my teachers, and my country. Was that a bad thing?

Finally, it taught me that it was from a very important Person that all our blessings flow. Who else gets called Thee?

The High Court struck it down in 1962. You cant have a state agency like the Regents composing a prayer. That is the very essence of establishment of religion. So, out it went.

I think of that prayer today, as we read of aFloridayouth who may spend the rest of his days in prison because he was plotting to bomb his public high school. Would you care to speculate on how many school shootings there were in 1962? How many murders in schools? How many bombings?

My own childrens schooling was very different. Each morning, I dropped our son and daughter off atCalvaryLutheranSchoolnear our home inSilver Spring,Maryland. They would troop into class under an archway whose capstone proclaimed:

THE FEAR OF THE LORD IS THE BEGINNING OF WISDOM

When she was a second grader, our daughter got a Childrens Bible Story Book for Christmas. But in March, she said we had fallen behind in reading the daily verses and stories. I apologized and said it was because I was getting home too late from the Education Department. She and her brother were already in bed.

She replied, Why dont you read to us while were driving to school? I explained that it would be too dangerous to take my eyes off my driving. OK, she rejoined resourcefully, well take turns reading the stories. When we come to a word we dont know, well spell it out and you can say what it is. So we did that. Within a few weeks, we had completely caught up.

My childrens reading scores went through the roof that year. But all one hundred twenty three children atCalvaryLutheranSchoolwere reading on grade level then. And, when a liberal neighbor teased me about our engaging in white flight by sending our kids to a private school, I told him that 85% ofCalvarys kids were minority students. I didnt have to ask him what was the minority percentage in his kids Gifted and Talented program.

This is not a new phenomenon. In 1787, the Marquis de Chastellux visited thePennsylvaniafrontier. In the same year that our Constitution was framed, this distinguished French nobleman marveled how youngsters would emerge from rude pioneer cabins speaking Elizabethan English. They could all handle a firearm and they could read the King James Version of the Bible.

To educate a man without improving his morals, wrote Theodore Roosevelt, probably the most learned president since Thomas Jefferson, is to educate a menace to society.

When he left home for Harvard, T.R.s own father advised him to attend first to his own character, then to his physical wellbeing, and only then to his intellectual development. And Greatheartas the senior Theodore Roosevelt was knownwas paying his sons tuition.

My friend Dan Struble is president of MontreatCollege(his excellent back-to-school column can be read here). He knows that the purpose of education is just about jobs. Dan does not agree with James Carvilles famous rant, Its the economy, stupid! Instead, Dr. Struble could give us the English poet Wordsworth:

The world is too much with us; late and soon,

Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers.

So, as we prepare for the opening of a new school year, lets remember where we get our daily bread, from whom all blessings come, and what is the beginning of wisdom.

An Arab Europe?

by Rob Schwarzwalder

August 18, 2011

In The National Interest, respected historian Walter Laqueur has posed a most somber question: Is Europe headed for what he calls “a slow death?” Dr. Laqueur outlines several possible scenarios, concluding that “the scenario most likely to happen and least likely to succeed: a bit of reform and a bit of business as usual. The richer countries will help the poorer ones to muddle through. It may work this time, but it is unlikely to be sufficient to deal with the next crisis.”

Dr. Laqueur, who is Jewish, knows something about Europe: As a teenager, he managed to escape just before the Holocaust began in earnest. Both of his parents died in it. In addition, his academic credentials are formidable: director of a program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, professor at both Brandeis and Georgetown university, and visiting professor at Harvard, Chicago, Johns Hopkins, and Tel Aviv universities.

His analysis is sobering: “The outlook is bleak. But it is also true that nil desperandum, never say die, is a better guide to action than the violent changes in mood about the future of Europe that we have witnessed over the years.” Well, that’s true, to a point: Hopelessness is no catalyst for confidence.

Yet hope not grounded in reality is mere wishful thinking, and Dr. Laqueur‘s analysis disinvites realistic hope. But perhaps the most intriguing sentence in his article is this one: “Given its demographic weakness,Europe will need immigrants.”

Indeed: According to the official Website of the European Union, here is what the continent is facing in coming years:

  • the average number of children per woman, which stands at 1.5 children in the EU whereas the population replacement level is 2.1. The rate projected by the EU for 2030 is 1.6;
  • the decline in fertility (“baby crash”) which followed the baby boom is the cause of the large proportion of 45-65 year-olds in Europe’s population, and poses a number of problems in terms of pension funding;
  • life expectancy (which rose by eight years between 1960 and 2006) could continue to increase by a further five years between 2006 and 2050 and would thus result in a larger proportion of people surviving to the ages of 80 and 90 an age when their health situation can often be delicate;
  • immigration (1.8 million immigrants into the EU in 2004, 40 million in 2050 according to Eurostat’s projections) could offset the effects of low fertility and extended life expectancy.

Put simply, Europeis running out of indigenous people. No economic plan, however, artfully crafted or bravely implemented, will substitute for the failure of Europeans to replenish their population. As Bret Stephens wrote recently in The Wall Street Journal,Europes demography also prevents reform … The demographic balance … will change only when younger Europeans decide that children, plural, are worth having. What that will take, only a faith in future prosperity and in God can provide.

Such faith seems substantially lacking. Unless something dramatic occurs to alter the mindset of its young and childless, Europe will grow based only on immigration - and, given that virtually all of this immigration will be from Islamic countries, it will, thereby, cease being the Europe we have known.

Not all observers are worried. Justin Vaisse, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Center on the United Statesand Europe, argues that the threat of “Eurabia” is dramatically overstated, that Muslims are assimilating intoEurope and that the prevailing problem is one of racism, not religion or culture.

Let us hope he is right. A Europe in which Islam is dominant is a troubling phenomenon. Only a small minority of Muslims are terrorists or authoritarians. Yet as evidenced by Iran, Taliban Afghanistan, and the fundamentalist-leaning Muslim states in countries as diverse as Malaysia,Pakistan, and Nigeria, when Islamists seize power, they use it and dont easily give it up.

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