Month Archives: October 2009

In the Know…

by Krystle Gabele

October 7, 2009

Here’s some articles of interest for today.

Living Will Suicide Was Lawful, Says UK Coroner Inquest

by Cathy Ruse

October 7, 2009

Last week I mentioned the tragic death of a depressed young woman who drank antifreeze and presented a Living Will forbidding treatment to save here. According to a Coroners Inquest this week, the doctors who let poor Keri Wooltorton, 26, die acted lawfully:

Doctors who allowed a young British woman to die in hospital after she swallowed poison and declared her intention to commit suicide acted lawfully, according to the findings of an inquest this week. Under the provisions of the Mental Capacity Act 2005, the coroner’s inquest ruled that doctors had no choice but to allow the woman to die after she had written a letter saying she did not want to be saved.

Read the full story here.

For a Peace Prize: George H.W. Bush

by Robert Morrison

October 7, 2009

We are approaching the twentieth anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall. That year, 1989, deserves to go down in history with 1648, the end of the Thirty Years War in Germany, 1815, the fall of Napoleon, 1914, the outbreak of the Cataclysm we know as World War I, and with 1945, the end of World War II that led to the tragic division of Europe. The Heritage Foundation this week presented an important conference on the Fall of the Wall and its meaning today.

I want to focus on just one portion of that vital conference: the Reunification of Germany.

Ambassador Klaus Scharioth. the urbane and witty diplomat assigned to Washington by the Federal Republic of Germany, paid fulsome tribute to the United States for helping his country achieve reunification. He thanked Americans for the 60 million young servicemen and women who had helped to protect Germany from Soviet aggression for forty-five years. I was stunned to hear that amazing figure. That heroic and generous contribution by America is not something we need to apologize to anyone for.

Ambassador Scharioth also noted how the Hungarians and Czechs helped greatly to bring down the Wall. The liberalizing communist regimes in those countries had opened their gates to East Germans desperate to escape the Workers Paradise in the Soviet puppet state behind the Iron Curtain. The ambassador recalled the important work of West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who never wavered in his devotion to reuniting his beloved land. Most of all, Ambassador Scharioth credited President George H.W. Bush with steadfast support for bringing down the Wall and peacefully reuniting Germany.

The former President is famously modest, perhaps too modest. As a boy, his dad, Prescott Bush, used to quiz him on his report card. How are we doing in claims no more? The elder Bush, a U.S. Senator from Connecticut, was referring to the portion of his sons prep school report that gave a high mark to any young lad who claims no more than his share of attention. Young George always scored high in claims no more.

Consider the world of the 1980s. For some of those years, millions of people in the U.S. and Western Europe really feared that Ronald Reagan would stumble into World War III. They watched films like The Day After, a made-for-TV, made-for-terrifying-us-all movie that purported to show the after-effects of a nuclear war in Kansas.

Yes, by 1989, when George H.W. Bush took office as President, the fears of nuclear war had largely abated, thanks to President Reagans steady strategy of peace through strength. But there were still tensions. The Berlin Wall symbolized those tensions.

It took infinite skill and tremendous presence of mind to manage the end of the East-West confrontation that had been a daily fact of life since 1945. George Bush had that skill, that courage, that much-lampooned prudence.

If, in 1988, candidate George Bush had said: Id like to preside over the Fall of the Berlin Wall, the peaceful reunification of Germany, her incorporation into NATO as a free and democratic state, and I propose to do all of this without firing a shot, without alienating our allies or breaking relations with the Soviets, the reaction would have been one of stunned silence. The gray beards and chin strokers of the chattering classes would have pronounced Bush a madman. Alarmed, they would have said: Hes even worse than Reagan!

Yet, the magnitude of Bushs achievement is there. He managed all that so calmly, so prudently, that it seemed the most natural and unavoidable of conclusions.

Britains staunch Margaret Thatcher did not want Germany reunified. Francois Mitterrand did not want a new great power to challenge Frances preeminence in Europe. The Soviets did not want it. The Poles did not want it. Even the West German Socialists did not want it.

So, how did it happen? America supported her stalwart ally. President Bush backed up with American resolve Chancellor Helmut Kohls yearning for unity. And he did so for the most American of reasons: We had given our word to the Germans and the world for forty years. When the time came to end the division of Germany, the United States would be there. The time came in 1989.

For this, President George H.W. Bush clearly deserves a Nobel Peace Prize. They have been given for far, far lesser achievements. As we celebrate twenty years of peace in the heart of Europe, as we recall that two world wars were fought in the heart of Europe, we can all be grateful to the skillful statecraft, the personal modesty, and the honoring of promises that characterized the brilliant diplomacy of this very American hero.

2009 Nobel Prize for Chemistry

by David Prentice

October 7, 2009

The 2009 Nobel Prize for Chemistry goes to Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, Thomas Steitz and Ada Yonath, for their work on the structure and function of the ribosome. The DNA code in the nucleus of our cells has to be translated into proteins for a cell to survive and grow. The DNA code is copied into short segments (messenger RNA) and ribosomes serve as translation factories to read the code and manufacture the appropriate protein that a cell needs. Each ribosome is a huge molecular complex of dozens of proteins. Ramakrishnan, Steitz and Yonath completed the mammoth task of mapping the position for each and every one of the hundreds of thousands of atoms that make up the ribosome. They also generated generated 3D models that show how different antibiotics bind to the ribosome.

How Long Has Marriage Been the Union of a Man and a Woman? Scientists Say4.4 Million Years

by Peter Sprigg

October 7, 2009

Some people believe that religious dogma is the only reason why anyone opposes same-sex marriage. Those who believe the human race began with Adam and Eve, and that their relationship was Gods model for marriage, believe marriage should be between a man and a woman. But those who dont believe in the Bible, who think Adam and Eve are a myth, and who dont accept a Christian view of the human person, have no reason to believe marriage is an opposite-sex union. Right?

Wrong. They should take a look at a front-page article in the Washington Post about the newest claim by evolutionary scientists. The scientists believe that a primate skeleton found in Ethiopia is that of a human ancestorone that lived 4.4 million years ago. Almost at the end of this long piece, the article describes what C. Owen Lovejoy, an anthropologist at Kent State University, says about the social organization of this species:

The males, he argues, pair-bonded with females. Lovejoy sees male parental investment in the survival of offspring as a hallmark of the human lineage.

So, how long has marriage (i.e., pair-bonding) been a male-female union? About four million, four hundred thousand years, if this secular scientist is to be believed. And what was its purpose? To insure male parental investment in the survival of offspringsomething which the advocates of same-sex marriage contend is now no longer necessary.

And what will we be discarding, if we change the definition of marriage from being a union of a man and a woman? Only a hallmark of the human lineage.

Marriage is not merely a religious institution, nor merely a civil institution. It is, rather, a natural institution, whose definition as the union of male and female is rooted in the order of nature itself. And it doesnt take a Bible to prove it. In this case, evolutionary theory points to the exact same conclusion.

Washington Post:

Ardi’ May Rewrite the Story of Humans: 4.4 Million-Year-Old Primate Helps Bridge Evolutionary Gap (see third-to-last paragraph)

Interview with Leslie Carbone

by Krystle Gabele

October 6, 2009

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the Americans for Prosperity Defending the American Dream Summit. While at this event, I had the opportunity to meet with Leslie Carbone, who used to serve as the Director of Tax Policy at FRC. Leslie just published a book, Slaying Leviathan: The Moral Case For Tax Reform, and it is a great examination of tax policy from a moral perspective. Below is the interview:

KW: Could you tell me why you decided to write Slaying Leviathan?

LC:

I wrote my book to help people understand why progressive taxation, and the wealth redistribution that it supports, are morally, as well as economically, hazardous.

KW: What do you think is the number one problem with the current tax code?

LC:

There are so many problems with the tax code, and they all feed on each other so much, that I find it impossible to pinpoint one primary problem, one single bullet. I think that what’s wrong with progressive income taxation can be summed up in three, overlapping, problems: It’s unwise, unjust, and immoral. It’s unwise because it actually diminishes prosperity, rather than enhancing it. It’s unjust because it perverts the function of the government it supports; as our Declaration of Independence asserts, civil government is established to secure our rights, but progressive taxation, and redistributionary spending, actually violate our rights. Finally, it’s immoral: It’s immoral because it discourages the virtuous behavior that creates wealth while it sanctions vices like resentment, because it diminishes economic—and thus moral—freedom, because it fosters immoral social behavior (such as cohabitation and divorce) and their attendant social pathologies, and because it inserts the government into the family’s or the individual’s moral decision-making process, giving the government a moral power it shouldn’t have.

KW: In the book, you mentioned that there is a moral reason for tax reform. Since there seems to be zero transparency at the government level about where our taxes directly go, do you think that this lays out the case for full transparency by the government?

LC:

I’m all in favor of government transparency, and part of the problem with our leviathan state is that it’s so big, and spends so much money, that nobody can keep track of it all. So I’d say that restoring the federal government to its proper, limited functions, as enumerated in Article I, Section 8, of our Constitution (that ingenious document) and reducing taxes to what’s necessary to pay for those functions would go a long way toward making it easier for us to fulfill our duty as citizens of a republic to watch what our government is doing.

KW: Would you favor a flat tax or the fair tax?

LC:

Either would be an enormous improvement over the byzantine mess we have now, and I’m looking forward to the day when we have a robust public debate about which kind of fundamental tax reform we want. My book lays out and analyzes the various options for tax reform, but it doesn’t take a firm position in favor of any particular plan. I did that on purpose. My book is intended to help make the case for fundamental tax reform, and to inform a coming debate over what that reform should look like. We’ve seen recently, with the bank bail-out and the “stimulus” package (to pick just a couple of examples) what happens when we rush a “solution” through without adequate public debate. So rather than say, “Here’s the problem, and here’s the solution,” I’m trying in my book to say, “Here’s the problem; let’s talk about and make sure we fully understand it, and next let’s talk about how we want to come together as Americans to solve it.”

KW: Do you feel the tax code punishes families and if so, could you elaborate on the ways our current government can fix this?

LC:

Sure, there are the specifics, like the marriage penalty, which actually punish some people for getting and staying married. But, to pick just a couple of examples, our current tax code hurts families by suppressing prosperity, making it harder to support a family, and by steering families into government-sanctioned choices (e.g. home ownership through borrowing, via the mortgage deduction) rather than leaving them properly free to decide on their own financial priorities. We really need fundamental tax reform to address these problems; piecemeal fixes just don’t work.

KW: I read another tax reform book two months ago by two experts at Cato Institute entitled, Global Tax Revolution, and the authors recommended abolishing the corporate and income taxes. Do you think that this will keep more businesses in the United States?

LC:

Absolutely, taxes discourage whatever is taxed; that includes maintaining a business.

KW: Lastly, there seems to be more corruption in Congress, and recently, Congress has voted for pay increases, giving the Architect of the Capitol a pay raise, and providing more money to fix the House buildings. Do you feel that there needs to be more reform within our government to help make them more accountable to the taxpayer?

LC:

Our Founders understood the corrupting tendency of power, and we as citizens of the republic they created must try to understand it too. I fear that it’s a little naive to expect government to reform itself. We are responsible for our government; we’re they’re boss, and we need to hold them accountable to us. “Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”

God + Two Parents = Frequent Adult Religious Attendance

by Michael Leaser

October 6, 2009

In the latest Mapping America, the General Social Surveys show that adults who attended religious services at least monthly as adolescents and grew up in an intact family are significantly more likely to attend religious services monthly or more frequently as adults than are those who attended less frequently and whose family of origin was non-intact.

In the Know…

by Krystle Gabele

October 6, 2009

Here’s some articles of interest for your morning.

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