Month Archives: July 2011

The Mall Mauled

by Robert Morrison

July 8, 2011

The National Mall in Washington is our nations showplace. Its intended to be that centerpiece that we share with millions of our fellow Americans who flock to the capital each year, as well as with tens of thousands of foreign tourists who are drawn to see this Great Republic. I had the honor of taking two young New Zealanders on a trek around the Mall earlier this week. I always enjoy sharing our great monuments with friends new and old. Dr. Sam Bloore and his wife, Julia, were my guests.

I was, frankly, embarrassed by the mess on the Mall. Not just the trash left over, but the torn-up, boarded-up, barricaded mess that theyve made of this great public space.

Everywhere there are Jersey walls, chain-link fences, ugly signs, plastic orange cones.

Is it the fault of this administration? Frankly, yes, it is. I know, I know. People will say that President Obama is hard-pressed. Hes busy driving the unemployment from 9.1% to 9.2%. Hes got three wars where hes trying to lead from behind [their phrase]. Hes heavily engaged in evolving on marriage. Apparently, a 41% out-of-wedlock birthrate is not high enough to produce enough low-income voters who will share the wealth around, so hes working hard to repeal welfare reform and make marriage a total irrelevance.

Cant you conservatives give the poor man a break? Arent you being too partisan?

Not really. It was Democrat Harry Truman, after all, who kept a sign on his desk in the Oval Office: The Buck Stops Here. After 800 days of this administration, however, it is the President of China who keeps a sign on his desk: Your Bucks Stop Here.

When President Reagan took office, the economy was in shambles, too. Fifty-two Americans had been held for 444 days, released only on the day he took the oath. The Soviets were running amok in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Reagan delivered his Inaugural Address from the West Portico of the Capitol, looking out over the magnificent Mall. It was clear and clean, as stern as those days were.

Ronald Reagan made a point of sprucing up our national parks, restoring our sense of civic pride in being Americans. He never bowed to foreign despots. Jimmy Carter had ordered our military not to wear their uniforms in the nations capital. Ronald Reagan required them. The Statue of Liberty was completely refurbished on Reagans watch. He was proud to preside in 1986 over the re-lighting of the torch held high by the Lady in the Harbor.

Once you get past the Jersey walls, there is still a lot to appreciate on the Mall. At the World War II Memorial, Julia Bloore shared with me stories of her grandfathers. One, a Hollander, had to endure Nazi occupation. The other, one of New Zealands always brave solders, became a prisoner of war of the Germans. The experience broke his health. I told these young friends about my dad, how he survived being torpedoed by a German U-boat. These family experiencesthese tributes to our fathersbring us together.

The World War II Memorial has a somber but beautiful display of 4,300 bronze stars arrayed above a reflecting pool. There, my Kiwi friends delicately asked me why it was the United States had waited so longuntil December 7, 1941to enter the Second World War. New Zealand, like Australia, Canada, and South Africa, had declared war on Germany when Britain did, in September, 1939.

I pointed out those stars. Each one represents one hundred American fighting men who laid down their lives in the war. That is mute testimony to why Americans hate war and why we honor those who sacrifice so much for our freedom. Today, hundreds of World War II veterans come to the WWII Memorial, many of them moved to tears. There were twelve million of them then. They are passing on to the last muster at the rate of thousands each day.

At the Jefferson Memorial, we took time actually to read the words engraved on the wall God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are of the Gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed, I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that His justice cannot sleep forever.

The full quote goes on: gave us liberty at the same time. Jefferson did not think it was above his pay grade when life and liberty are endowed. Maybe thats why President Obama keeps saying we are all born equal with inalienable rights, but never mentions Who it is who endows us with those rights. Jefferson had no trouble acknowledging the divine Author of our liberties.

You can get to the Lincoln Memorial from the Jefferson only with difficulty. But its worth the effort. I read the familiar words carved into the stone wall with new solemnity this year: Our Fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation… Will the assault on marriage, the merciless attack on the very notion of fatherhood, make this sentence from the Gettysburg Address incomprehensible to future generations?

The Washington Monument should be first in any tour of the Mall. It was for us. We could not go up to the 555-foot summit. You had to wait until 8 pm for a ticket to ride.

Thats an encouraging note. Washington still commands our respect. I pointed out an aluminum pyramid that tops the Washington Monument. On its East front is engraved Laus Deo. Praise the Lord!

By law, no building in the capital can be as tall as the Washington Monument. That means that the first rays of each mornings sun strike the words Praise the Lord.

I told the New Zealanders about Christopher Hitchens. Hes the British Marxist who became a naturalized American citizen. Ann Coulter points out that liberals loved Hitch when he wrote a book attacking Mother Teresa, hated him when he wrote a book attacking Bill Clinton. But now, all is forgiven. Hitch wrote a book attacking God.

Standing beneath the Washington Monument, you know this is the wrong country to come to if you want a career as an atheizer. A days tour of the monuments reinforces your belief that this country has been blessed by God, and has sought His protection from the beginning. Laus Deo!

URGENT: Contact Chinese Embassy

by Family Research Council

July 5, 2011

FRCs friends at the Jubilee Campaign (http://jubileecampaign.wordpress.com/), which works actively against religious persecution and other evils, have sent out an urgent note about the distinguished Chinese human rights attorney Chen Guangcheng. Chen has worked against the Chinese governments notorious one child and forced sterilization policies. To read more and obtain a sample letter calling for the end of the brutalization of Chen and his family, click here http://jubileecampaign.wordpress.com/2011/07/05/execution-by-any-other-name-the-plight-of-chen-guangcheng/ and send your letter to the Chinese Embassy at: chinaembpress_us@mfa.gov.cn

Ashton Kutchers Tweet Tirade Against the Village Voice on Child Prostitution

by Cathy Ruse

July 5, 2011

Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore are trying to raise awareness about child trafficking and prostitution in the United States and have created a technology task force to create solutions to end human trafficking online. Their blunt slogan is, Real Men Dont Buy Girls, and theyre recruiting celebrities to make this pledge and spread the word. Heres a video from their launch.

Good for them; they could be spending all of their free time (and money) redecorating their homes.

The sleezy yet still influential Village Voice mocked Kutcher saying he wildly inflated the number of girls who are sex trafficked in the United States. That number is notoriously hard to get, but Kutcher and his program are working with NCMEC, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, a source to be trusted. Not only did the Voice play down the problem suggesting, ludicrously, that the number of actual arrests gives some scope of the problem — but Kutcher is right to point to the Voice as potentially part of the problem. Turn to their back pages and see dozens of ads for prostitutes. (They call people like us who support laws against prostitution prohibitionists.)

Good for Kutcher. He slammed the Voice with a tirade of late night Tweets. A sampling:

Hey @villagevoice hows the lawsuit from the 15 year old victim who alleges you helped enslave them going?

Hey @villagevoice speaking of data, maybe you can help me… How much $ did your “escorts” in you classifieds on backpage make last year?

Hey @villagevoice speaking of Data… How many of your girls selling themselves in your classifieds are you doing age verification on?

Hey @villagevoice Find another way to justify that YOUR property facilitates the sale of HUMAN BEINGS

Hey @villagevoice if you want to dispute the online data I’ve collected about the consumption of child porn or the hard facts from NCMEC lmk

Hey @villagevoice REAL MEN DON’T BUY GIRLS and REAL NEWS PUBLICATIONS DON’T SELL THEM

Read more on the Kutcher-Village Voice face-off here.

California Stem Cell Agency Helps Executives, Not Patients

by David Prentice

July 5, 2011

Jack Dolan of the Los Angeles Times takes California’s stem cell agency (California Institute of Regenerative Medicine, CIRM) to task for the exorbitant salaries paid to its executives, while other California agencies cut back and the state wrestles with covering an enormous budget deficit.

Investment banker Jonathan Thomas was elected the new chairman on June 22, beating out cardiologist and entrepreneur Frank Litvack for the position. Thomas will take a salary of $400,000 to serve as part-time board chairman, joining CIRM’s president Alan Trounson ($490,008 salary last year) as two of the most highly-paid state employees.

As the California Stem Cell Report pointed out at the time, political and financial pressure had a great deal to do with Thomas winning the chairmanship, not so much science.

Thomas and others at CIRM have indicated that they are simply misunderstood, and need better public relations. They are advertising for a new public relations director (salary up to $208,520 per year) to help correct their problem. They have also indicated that, despite a decided lack of results from supporting embryonic stem cell and cloning (nuclear transfer, SCNT) research, they will ask the taxpayers of California to pony up more funds for the research after their original $3 billion allotment runs out. Notably, many of their recent stem cell grants aimed at producing results have NOT gone to embryonic stem cells, but to adult stem cells, which are the proven winners for patients.

Dept of Education Creates a College Cost-Comparison Web Tool

by Chris Gacek

July 1, 2011

Ben Wolfgang of the Washington Times has written a useful article about a Department of Education website which contains web tool called the College Affordability and Transparency Center. The site instructs the user to:

Use the options below to generate a report on the highest (top 5%) and lowest (bottom 10%) academic year charges for each sector. Tuition reports include tuition and required fees. Net price is cost of attendance minus grant and scholarship aid. Data are reported by institutions and are for full-time beginning students.

The options are types of schools (e.g., Public, 4-year or above). As Professor Richard Vedder points out the database isnt perfect because schools can game the system a bit by imposing voluntary fees to lower tuition amounts.

That said, it should prove helpful to those seeking further schooling. The Family Research Council is concerned about the effect of college tuition costs and debt on family formation, and tools like this website can assist purchasers of a college education reduce the cost.

Why America Celebrates the Fourth of July”

by Rob Schwarzwalder

July 1, 2011

FRC’s colleague at the Heritage Foundation, scholar Matt Spalding, several years ago wrote a moving piece describing why Americans celebrate our national independence day. At the end of the article, Matt gives a series of quotes from great American leaders on the meaning of the Declaration of Independence and closes with a well-documented summary of what the signers of the Declaration endured during the Revolutionary War. For education, inspiration, and healthy dose of gratitude for the sacrifices of those who have made the enjoyment of our God-given rights possible, read “Independence Forever: Why America Celebrates the Fourth of July.”

Demand Continues for More Human Embryonic Stem Cell Lines

by David Prentice

July 1, 2011

For those keeping count, the NIH embryonic stem cell registry (the list of human embryonic stem cell (hESC) lines approved to receive federal taxpayer funding) now lists a total of 128 hESC lines. Previously NIH Director Francis Collins had been approving lines slowly, but on a regular basis.

Following an initial burst of approvals starting in December 2009 and January 2010 that led to 42 hESC lines approved for federal taxpayer funding. In March 2010 there were 44 hESC lines that had been approved, and in June 2010 there were 75 approved lines.

There were only 93 approved hESC lines on June 3, 2011. But June has been a banner month to approve hESC lines for the federal funding trough. NIH has added a number of new hESC lines, including lines that have various genetic problems.

The current NIH guidelines provide an incentive to destroy more human embryos to make more hESC lines, as was pointed out in filings in the Sherley v. Sebelius federal lawsuit.

Interestingly, a recent Nature Medicine blog makes some of the same exact points as Drs. Sherley and Deisher, that there is continuing pressure for more hESC lines.

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