Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Stuff of Dreams and Fairytales

22 years ago, on the plain of Salisbury at the ancient site of Stonehenge, (while sightseeing with his mother), a young airman (then stationed in England) met an even younger lady from KC Missouri who was then attending classes in the Netherlands and was sightseeing through England. They struck up a conversation that continued through the day and into the evening hours. They stayed together the next day as the young woman agreed to retrace her trip back through Bath and then on to London on the train where the two separated but agreed to remain in contact.

2 1/2 years later, at the invitation of the now sergeant, the young lady, having returned to the states, agreed to a visit in Abilene, Texas where the man was now stationed. She brought her mother on the trip.

The next day they all travelled to San Angelo to meet the rest of the young man's family and on a creek west of town as the sun was setting, shared their first kiss.

2 1/2 years later, a long time, because though devilishly handsome (well, at least devilish) the young man was not too bright, he asked the young lady to marry him.

Owing no doubt to a momentary lapse of reason, she said yes.

After 17 years (today) and two kids, she thankfully, has not regained those senses and the man (not so young anymore) yours truly, remains more madly in love than when that first kiss was shared.

Eight Dem Senators Defend the Right to Filibuster Climate Change

From TPMDC. Would that they did it because a) the science is far from settled and b) it's expensive and c) will only serve to prolong the nation's/world recession...

When President Obama submitted a budget that predicted passage of a revenue-raising climate change bill, hopes rose that Congress could successfully rein in carbon emissions this year.

But a cap-and-trade climate bill is almost certain to be filibustered by Republicans -- and in a letter delivered to the Senate Budget Committee yesterday, eight Democratic senators joined 25 Republicans to defend the GOP's right to set a 60-vote margin for passing emissions limits.

"We oppose using the budget process to expedite passage of climate legislation," the senators, including eight centrist Democrats, wrote in their missive.

Using the procedure of budget reconciliation, which would allow a climate change measure to become law with 50 votes while preventing filibusters, "would circumvent normal Senate practice and would be inconsistent with the administration's goals of bipartisanship, cooperation, and openness," the 33 senators wrote. (more)

Britain is fighting a war – and we are too soft on our enemies

From the Telegraph. Evidence that despite British Muslim involvement in terrorism the government would rather cover it up to avoid "further inflaming Islamist sensitivities.."
Whew! Good thing we don't live in Britain, that stuff could never happen here, right? Yeah, right...and the latest budget didn't have any earmarks..
There is good evidence that Britons are waking up and calling their government to task for its shortcomings. Let's pray its not too late...

...After senior officers confirmed last year that British Muslims were fighting with the Taliban in southern Afghanistan, it was revealed that RAF Nimrod surveillance planes monitoring Taliban radio stations were surprised to hear insurgents speaking in strong Yorkshire or Midlands accents.

More recently, officers based at the main military base at Lashkar Gah revealed that they had found British-made components in roadside bombs used to attack coalition forces in southern Afghanistan, sent to Helmand by Muslim sympathisers in Britain. This week three British Muslims, part of a terrorist cell whose leader was convicted of plotting to kidnap and behead a British soldier on video, were jailed at the Old Bailey for supplying equipment to the Taliban and al-Qaeda.

The active involvement of radical British Muslims in the Afghan insurgency has led senior officers to claim that they are engaged in a "surreal mini-civil war" in Afghanistan. And yet, for all the compelling evidence that British-based Islamist radicals are actively participating in a jihad against Britain and its coalition allies, the Government, together with those who have opposed our involvement in the War on Terror from the start, seems determined to give the Islamist radicals the benefit of the doubt.

Even when incontrovertible proof is found that British Muslims are aiding and abetting the enemy in Afghanistan and elsewhere, the Government's instinct is to try to cover up their involvement, for fear of further inflaming Islamist sensitivities...

Obama's Concerning Lack of Principle

From VersusPolitics. A good article on the lack of principle in Obama's administration:

While we’re still very early in President Obama’s first term, one stark difference between the current President and the previous one is becoming clear. While President Bush was painted as an ideologue, President Obama has shown a concerning lack of principle in his first few weeks by endorsing contradicting ideas in multiple policy arenas.

I praised the President this week for his support of teacher merit pay and school vouchers. In the budget bill signed this week, however, is a provision to hamper the school voucher program in D.C. Does the President support school choice and competition? Does he realize that the omnibus budget sends a contradictory message?

The President says he wants to create jobs, but he supports tax proposals that will hurt businesses, and he’s supporting increased regulations in various sectors. The first act he signed in office was the Fair Pay Act, which makes employers more vulnerable to lawsuits. He’s also promising the unions support for Card Check.

He wants to protect struggling manufacturing sectors like the automobile industry, but he’s supporting environmental restrictions and requirements that only make manufacturing more expensive, and the idea of outsourcing more attractive.

In foreign policy, he wants to restore alliances with other nations, but he has been ambiguous in supporting trade protectionism. He has criticized the war in Iraq, but he’s basically carrying out the same strategy, and is calling for a counterinsurgency effort in Afghanistan.

Perhaps the most clear example of contradiction was the President’s executive order this week to overturn the embryonic stem cell ban. The omnibus budget, which the President signed, contains a provision that bans federal spending for research of destructive human embryonic stem cells. Essentially, the President’s announcement this week was a publicity stunt.

Charles Krauthammer, a member of the President’s Council on Bioethics, criticized the President for a lack of seriousness on the issue. Krauthammer’s view of President Obama’s approach creates a contrast with an account I heard from another member of the Council on Bioethics, who remembered meeting with President Bush to discuss the issue of embryonic stem cell research. This Council member said that President Bush had spent significant time considering the issue, and that the President spoke articulately in a way that demonstrated an understanding for the science and ethical questions surrounding it. Quite a difference....(More)

Something to Crow About

As many of you know I am a weather guy. For the last 23 1/2 years I have attempted to "discern the will of God" (that's what the Taliban accused the Afghan meteorologists of doing- calling them wizards and disbanding the met service when they took over. But I digress..) Ihave been part of Air Force Weather since 1985.

My love of weather can be traced to the many stories of thunderstorms that my pilot dad used to share with me at my repeated requests. I think my interest in weather was also encouraged by the fact that I grew up in west Texas in a town called San Angelo. San Angelo was built at the junction of the Concho river and others yet still on the edge of the desert. Though a number of dams create some semblance of lakes they often suffer in the inevitable dry spells and the "river" which I grew up a mere block from, would often be shallow enough you could walk across. Hurricanes for San Angelo were a looked forward to event as it was the only way to fill up the lakes.

Thus, everyone talked about the weather and celebrated the rains when they came, so that the cotton fields would survive. There used to be a tradition that when it rained the local newspaper ("The Standard Times") mascot (a rooster) would be shown in the morning paper as crowing. Rain is a big deal in Texas. Especially in San Angelo.

Well Austin has suffered it's own drought of late. We are about 25 inches shy of where we are normally as far as rainfall goes. So bear with me as I take this moment to "crow" about our rainfall over the lst three days:

Date Precip
03/12/2009 1.61
03/13/2009 0.50
03/14/2009 0.26

Totals : 2.37

As an aside, I am a member of the CoCoRaHS. CoCoRaHS is an acronym for the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network. CoCoRaHS is a unique, non-profit, community-based network of volunteers of all ages and backgrounds working together to measure and map precipitation (rain, hail and snow). By using low-cost measurement tools, stressing training and education, and utilizing an interactive Web-site, our aim is to provide the highest quality data for natural resource, education and research applications. We currently operate in many states across the country.

Are you a fellow weather geek/fanatic? If you are interested in joining CoCoRaHS you can follow the links for more information.

Obama Signs Law Banning Federal Embryo Research Two Days After Signing Executive Order to OK It

So, is it ignorance (did the president not know about the Dickey-Wicker amendment) or is he playing politics again- (throwing red-meat to teh left but hiding behind the law) Anybody like toventure a guess? While it appears that this is some good news at first glance (continuing a sound Bush policy) one thing for sure is you probably won't see this news as a headline anytime soon... - On Wednesday, only two days after he lifted President Bush’s executive order banning federal funding of stem cell research that requires the destruction of human embryos, President Barack Obama signed a law that explicilty bans federal funding of any "research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death.

"The provision was buried in the 465-page omnibus appropriations bill that Obama signed Wednesday. Known as the Dickey-Wicker amendment, it has been included in the annual appropriations bill for the Department of Health and Human Services every fiscal year since 1996.

The amendment says, in part: "None of the funds made available in this Act may be used for—(1) the creation of a human embryo or embryos for research purposes; or (2) research in which a human embryo or embryos are destroyed, discarded, or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death." (more)

Found in Section 509 of Title V of the omnibus bill (at page 280 of the 465-page document), the federal funding ban not only prohibits the government from providing tax dollars to support research that kills or risks injury to a human embryo, it also mandates that the government use an all-inclusive definition of “human embryo” that encompasses any nascent human life from the moment that life comes into being, even if created in a laboratory through cloning, in vitro fertilization or any other means.

“For the purposes of this section,” says the law, “the term ‘human embryo or embryos’ includes any organism … that is derived by fertilization, parthenogenesis, cloning, or any other means from one or more human gametes or human diploid cells.” (The entire verbatim text of Section 509 of the omnibus spending law is reprinted at the bottom of this article.)

Friday, March 13, 2009

FBI raids office of D.C. CTO, Obama appointee

From Politico:

Federal agents this morning are searching the office Washington, D.C.'s Chief Technology Officer.
The search of the office at 1 Judiciary Square is part of "an ongoing investigation," said a spokeswoman for the FBI's D.C. Field Office, Lindsay Gotwin, said.

She said two men, Yusuf Acar and Sushil Bansal, had been arrested.

Acar is an information security officer who was also, according to online requests for proposals, responsible for contracting. Bansal is listed on the city's procurement website as the CEO of the Advanced Integrated Technologies Corporation, which was awarded two technology contracts last year worth a total of $350,000.

The Washington Post and WTOP Radio report that the men are being held on bribery charges.

Administration's Budget Forecast a Lie

From NBC’s Ken Strickland

It was obvious to most Capitol Hill insiders why President Obama wanted Republican Judd Gregg as a member of his cabinet: He's one of the sharpest money-minds in Congress.

But instead of getting Gregg's counsel within the administration, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner found himself today of the receiving end of Gregg's fiscal conservative wrath.

In a hearing before the Senate Budget Committee Gregg dressed down Geithner with facts, figures, and charts. While always keeping his cool, the exchange was somewhere between a mother's scolding, a drill sergeant's questioning and an attorney's cross examination.

In his opening statement, Gregg politely called the administration's budget forecast a lie. "The argument that it cuts the debt in half in four years is, ahh, is truly spurious," he told Geithner.

President Obama himself gives Gregg's comments a sense of stinging credibility. When the president introduced Gregg as his nominee for Commerce Secretary last month, he said Gregg is known for is fiscal discipline.

"He shares my deep-seated commitment to guaranteeing that our children inherit a future they can afford," Obama said.

Today, the president's compliment of Gregg turned into an attack on Geithner. Gregg said the budget is essentially "putting on our children's backs a debt they can never get out from underneath."

He added pointedly, "I think we're putting at risk not only our children's future, we're clearly putting at risk the value of a dollar and our ability to sell debt."

When Gregg withdrew his nomination, he said he and the administration were "functioning from a different set of views on many critical items of policy."

Gregg's opening monologue today would indicate that was a gross understatement.
"The argument that this budget doesn't have tax increases [on everyone] is, I think, an 'Alice in Wonderland' view of the budget," he said.

He challenged the budget's math on cutting the debt: "When you take the deficit and quadruple it and then you cut it and half, that's like taking four steps back and two steps forward. That's not making any progress; you're still going backwards."

Gregg questioned why any foreign country would continue to buy up U.S. debt: "Because if I'm in the international marketplace, and I'm looking at this budget, I'm saying to myself, ‘Where's the discipline? Where's the containment?' There isn't any." (more)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

U.S. Jet Shoots Down Iranian Drone Over Iraq (Updated)

Nice shot. From Wired:

An American fighter jet shot down an Iranian drone as it was flying over Iraq, U.S. military sources in Baghdad tell Danger Room.

Details of the previously-unreported shoot-down, which occurred last month, are still sketchy. But we do know that American commanders have long accused Tehran of supplying weapons and training to all sorts of Iraqi militant groups. Shi'ite militias fired Iranian rockets at U.S. troops in Iraq, according to the American military; Sunni militias allegedly used Iranian armor-piercing bombs to reduce U.S. vehicles to ribbons.
In early 2008, however, the torrent of Iranian weapons into Iraq slowed to a trickle, the U.S. said. And now, the new Obama administration is looking for ways to reach out to the Tehran regime -- dangling invitations to international conferences, and offering promises of renewed relations.

Which means the drone incident comes at a particularly sensitive time. (more)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

House Speaker Issued Unprecedented Demands for Military Aircraft and Wasted Taxpayer Resources with Last Minute Cancellations

How's that "change" thing working for ya?

Judicial Watch, the public interest group that investigates and prosecutes government corruption, announced today that it has obtained documents from the Department of Defense (DOD) detailing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's multiple requests for military air travel. The documents, obtained by Judicial Watch through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), include internal DOD email correspondence detailing attempts by DOD staff to accommodate Pelosi's numerous requests for military escorts and military aircraft as well as the speaker's last minute cancellations and changes. The following are a few highlights from the documents, which are linked in full below:

  • In response to a series of requests for military aircraft, one Defense Department official wrote, "Any chance of politely querying [Pelosi's team] if they really intend to do all of these or are they just picking every weekend?...[T]here's no need to block every weekend 'just in case'..." The email also notes that Pelosi's office had, "a history of canceling many of their past requests."

  • One DOD official complained about the "hidden costs" associated with the speaker's last minute changes and cancellations. "We have...folks prepping the jets and crews driving in (not a short drive for some), cooking meals and preflighting the jets etc."

  • The documents include a discussion of House Ethics rules and Defense Department policies as they apply to the speaker's requests for staff, spouses and extended family to accompany her on military aircraft. In May 2008, for example, Pelosi requested that her husband join her on a Congressional Delegation (CODEL) into Iraq. The DOD explained to Pelosi that the agency has a written policy prohibiting spouses from joining CODEL's into combat zones.

  • Documents obtained from the U.S. Army include correspondence from Speaker Pelosi's office requesting an Army escort and three military planes to transport Pelosi and other members of Congress to Cleveland, Ohio, for the funeral services of the late Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones. Pelosi noted in her letter of August 22, 2008, that such a request, labeled "Operation Tribute" was an "exception to standard policy."

  • The documents also detail correspondence from intermediaries for Speaker Pelosi issuing demands for certain aircraft and expressing outrage when requested military planes were not available. "It is my understanding there are no G5s available for the House during the Memorial Day recess. This is totally unacceptable...The speaker will want to know where the planes are..." wrote Kay King, Director of the House Office of Interparliamentary Affairs. In a separate email, when told a certain type of aircraft would not be available, King writes, "This is not good news, and we will have some very disappointed folks, as well as a very upset [s]peaker."
  • During another email exchange DOD staff advised Kay King that one Pelosi military aircraft request could not be met because of "crew rest requirements" and offered to help secure commercial travel. Kay King responded: "We appreciate the efforts to help the codel [sic] fly commercially but you know the problem that creates with spouses. If we can find another way to assist with military assets, we would like to do that."

read it all here

President Obama's clumsy, smirky staff is sinking him

I'm not sure the entire blame can be placed on the staff. I mean, Obama is in charge, right? But it's an interesting article with some great lines (e.g. "that chaotic pig rut of a stimulus package")showing that concerns with the administration runs from right to left...
From Salon and Camille Paglia, (my favorite lesbian/atheist/feminist writer):

Yes, free the president from his flacks, fixers and goons -- his posse of smirky smart alecks and provincial rubes, who were shrewd enough to beat the slow, pompous Clintons in the mano-a-mano primaries but who seem like dazed lost lambs in the brave new world of federal legislation and global statesmanship.

Heads should be rolling at the White House for the embarrassing series of flubs that have overshadowed President Obama's first seven weeks in office and given the scattered, demoralized Republicans a huge boost toward regrouping and resurrection. (Michelle, please use those fabulous toned arms to butt some heads!)

First it was that chaotic pig rut of a stimulus package, which let House Democrats throw a thousand crazy kitchen sinks into what should have been a focused blueprint for economic recovery.

Then it was the stunt of unnerving Wall Street by sending out a shrill duo of slick geeks (Timothy Geithner and Peter Orszag) as the administration's weirdly adolescent spokesmen on economics. Who could ever have confidence in that sorry pair?
And then there was the fiasco of the ham-handed White House reception for British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, which was evidently lacking the most basic elements of ceremony and protocol. Don't they read the "Iliad" anymore in the Ivy League? Check that out for the all-important ritual of gift giving, which has cemented alliances around the world for 5,000 years.

President Obama -- in whom I still have great hope and confidence -- has been ill-served by his advisors and staff. Yes, they have all been blindsided and overwhelmed by the crushing demands of the presidency. But I continue to believe in citizen presidents, who must learn by doing, even in a perilous age of terrorism. Though every novice administration makes blunders and bloopers, its modus operandi should not be a conspiratorial reflex cynicism.

Case in point: The orchestrated attack on radio host Rush Limbaugh, which has made the White House look like an oafish bunch of drunken frat boys. I returned from carnival in Brazil (more on that shortly) to find the Limbaugh affair in full flower. Has the administration gone mad? This entire fracas was set off by the president himself, who lowered his office by targeting a private citizen by name. Limbaugh had every right to counterattack, which he did with gusto. Why have so many Democrats abandoned the hallowed principle of free speech? Limbaugh, like our own liberal culture hero Lenny Bruce, is a professional commentator who can be as rude and crude as he wants. (more)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Some Final Thoughts on Stem Cells

A few articles to put some further perspective on the so-called stem cell good news:

First, over at MereComments they highlight some actual truth telling at the NY Times:

However, the president’s support of embryonic stem cell research comes at a time when many advances have been made with other sorts of stem cells. The Japanese biologist Shinya Yamanaka found in 2007 that adult cells could be reprogrammed to an embryonic state with surprising ease. This technology “may eventually eclipse the embryonic stem cell lines for therapeutic as well as diagnostics applications,” Dr. Kriegstein said. For researchers, reprogramming an adult cell can be much more convenient, and there have never been any restrictions on working with adult stem cells.

For therapy, far off as that is, treating patients with their own cells would avoid the problem of immune rejection.

Some perspective on the truth of Obama's decision over at WSJ:

..."Moderate" Mr. Obama's policy is not. It will promote a whole new industry of embryo creation and destruction, including the creation of human embryos by cloning for research in which they are destroyed. It forces American taxpayers, including those who see the deliberate taking of human life in the embryonic stage as profoundly unjust, to be complicit in this practice.

Mr. Obama made a big point in his speech of claiming to bring integrity back to science policy, and his desire to remove the previous administration's ideological agenda from scientific decision-making. This claim of taking science out of politics is false and misguided on two counts.

First, the Obama policy is itself blatantly political. It is red meat to his Bush-hating base, yet pays no more than lip service to recent scientific breakthroughs that make possible the production of cells that are biologically equivalent to embryonic stem cells without the need to create or kill human embryos. Inexplicably -- apart from political motivations -- Mr. Obama revoked not only the Bush restrictions on embryo destructive research funding, but also the 2007 executive order that encourages the National Institutes of Health to explore non-embryo-destructive sources of stem cells.

Second and more fundamentally, the claim about taking politics out of science is in the deepest sense antidemocratic. The question of whether to destroy human embryos for research purposes is not fundamentally a scientific question; it is a moral and civic question about the proper uses, ambitions and limits of science. It is a question about how we will treat members of the human family at the very dawn of life; about our willingness to seek alternative paths to medical progress that respect human dignity.... (more)

And from NRO some badly needed perspective on the implications of Obama's shortsighted decsion:

...Unlike the bills Bush vetoed, however, Obama’s action did not replace the existing policy with another set of boundaries grounded in a different ethical calculus.

Instead, Obama eliminated the Bush policy and then took the unusual and provocative step of also rescinding Bush’s 2007 executive order providing support for alternative sources of stem cells — an order that in no way limited embryonic stem-cell research and need not have been retracted.

Having lifted these restrictions, Obama put no rules or boundaries of any kind in their place, instructing the scientists at the National Institutes of Health to do so on his behalf over the next few months.

Obama’s executive order makes no mention of any moral qualm about the destruction of human embryos — whether left over from fertility treatments or created especially for experimentation, including human embryos created by cloning.

The last time NIH scientists were tasked with developing rules for embryo research, in 1994, they returned with proposals so permissive that Bill Clinton felt compelled to reject them. There is no reason to think the NIH will be any more circumspect this time, but President Obama unfortunately has given us considerable reason to think he will not reject even the broadest possible mandate for the exploitation of nascent human lives. With this week’s executive order, Obama has not so much staked out a position in the embryo debate as dismissed the debate itself as unnecessary.

The embryo debate is among the first real tests of our commitment to the equal protection of every human life in the age of biotechnology. The quandaries of this age will only grow more vexing and complicated. But scientific advances in recent years — especially the development of alternative sources of embryonic-like cells that do not necessitate the destruction of human organisms — appear to offer us a way around the test.

President Obama has turned his back on those advances. He has needlessly and clumsily forced a choice between the promise of progress and the respect for life, and has gone out of his way to ensure that we fail the moral test put before us. Let us hope this failure proves reversible in time and does not set the tone for science policy in the years to come.

But All the Other Kids Like It!

Mainstream American media applaud our government's approval to fund the destruction of embryos for stem cell research. According to a U.S. News & World Report article, headlines have been filled with glowing praise.

(Insert snarky tone of voice here)

Now, why should we not laud a juggernaut government's efforts? After all...."It's not only a matter of what's right in terms of research and cures for cancers and diabetes. It's also a matter of what's smart in strengthening the economy with new jobs in science and research and medicine," said Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington). more...

And as Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) said yesterday, "To create jobs in an industry that's growing is an imperative." more...

So, let me get this straight. We are to kill embryos so those who have made it past abortifacient drugs and have escaped the murder of abortion that is increasingly protected by our government can get a paycheck.

Seriously, who's running this country? Has George Carlin come back from the dead? I apologize for the following offensive epithets, but I am reminded of his routine about getting out of an airplane in a disaster. "I’ll go around the fat guy, step on the widow’s head, push those children out of the way, knock down the paralyzed midget, and get out of the plane where I can help others."

Monday, March 9, 2009

UPDATED: Connecticut moving to regulate the Catholic Church?

An update by BeetleBlogger and belatedly posted here:

Connecticut Democrats are in full retreat as public gets wind of proposed bill—thousands descend on Capitol to protest

Let's hope and pray that more and more of the public becomes aware of the dangers facing all of us in this battle and continues to make it's voice heard...

Frightening events in Connecticut. I'm sure we will we see more and more of this type of thing unfortunately. H/T to Hot Air

According to the First Amendment and the Establishment Clause, the government has no business dictating to religious organizations how they should structure themselves. In Connecticut, though, some lawmakers seem to have skipped over the Constitution. A new bill will require Catholic parishes and dioceses — and only Catholics — to organize their parish leadership in a way that pleases the Connecticut legislature (via The Corner):
The Lawlor-and-McDonald-controlled Judiciary Committee has introduced Raised Bill 1098, a bill aimed specifically at the Catholic Church, which would remove the authority of the bishop and pastor over individual parishes and put a board of laymen in their place. You can read Rep. Lawlor’s defense of this bill, Bridgeport Bishop William Lori’s response and more here.
We need as big a turnout as possible for the public hearing on Wednesday, especially from non-Catholics. As Ben Franklin told the Founders while they were signing the Declaration of Independence, “either we hang together or we will all hang separately.” Legislators need to understand that this bill is an attack on everyone’s religious liberty

(more here)

NCAA Expands March Madness To Include 4,096 Teams

Two headlines over at the Onion caused me to laugh out loud, and that qualifies as funny in my book and makes them worthy of passing on.

The above headline was followed by this blurb:

Online universities and bible colleges will be among the thousands of teams vying to prove they are the best in the nation. more»

Then there was this:

Son-Of-A-Bitch Mouse Solves Maze Researchers Spent Months Building

A Few Laughs- Because man, could we ever use them...

Who Will Shield Us From Science?

Obama Aims to Shield Science From Politics

thus reads the headline over at the Washington Post

the first paragraph seems to continue this train of thought..

When President Obama lifts restrictions on funding for human embryonic stem cell research today, he will also issue a presidential memorandum aimed at insulating scientific decisions across the federal government from political influence, officials said yesterday.

And I think to myself, would that it were true. Then we could have both sides of the so-called global warming argument. We might hear of the hundreds of other scientists who doubt its cause or its existence and thus save ourselves the billions of dollars proposed to fight this windmill.

Or perhaps we would hear that there is not one scientific study that conclusively indicates that anyone is "born" a homosexual. and then I wake up...

The second paragraph goes on:

"The president believes that it's particularly important to sign this memorandum so that we can put science and technology back at the heart of pursuing a broad range of national goals," Melody C. Barnes, director of Obama's Domestic Policy Council, told reporters during a telephone briefing yesterday. ..

Who makes those national goals? The government. Science and technology are firmly ensconced in pursuing national (political) goals and will always do so when offered money (grants) to do so.

And then I went back to the headline: Obama Aims to Shield Science From Politics

And I wonder, who will shield us from science?

Excellent article over at And Sometimes Tea about this. Stop in and have a read.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Answering Advocates of Gay Marriage

A paper over at the Catholic Education Resource Center is a nice summary of arguments against gay marriage. Interestingly one of the writers is gay. Neither is Catholic nor in full agreement with the Church's teaching on the matter which is made clear in the disclaimer on the site. Still, the writers are intelligent enough to recognize the dangers of redefining marriage. H/T to Beetle Blogger.

The summary make some key point in the whole debate. One, that gay relationships are already supported by most of the economic and legal benefits given to common-law couples or could be, which makes me suspicious of the true motive behind redefining marriage as something more akin to an assault on Christians rather than a plea for equality.

Second I think it does a pretty good job of describing the dangerous cultural and societal implications inherent in redefining marriage.

Third it defines the whole thing accurately, I think, as a massive human experiment, one whose consequences if wrong would wreak havoc on our children and our society.

Click on the claim for the rebuttal.

Claim 1: Marriage is an institution designed to foster the love between two people. Gay people can love each other just as straight people can. Ergo, marriage should be open to gay people.

Claim 2: Not all straight couples have children, but no one argues that their marriages are unacceptable

Claim 3: Some gay couples do have children and therefore need marriage to provide the appropriate context.

Claim 4: Marriage and the family are always changing anyway, so why not allow this change?

Claim 5: Marriage and the family have already changed, so why not acknowledge the reality?

Claim 6: Children would be no worse off with happily married gay parents than they are with unhappily married straight ones.

Claim 7: Given global overpopulation, why would anyone worry about some alleged need to have more children in any case?

Claim 8: Marriage should change, whether it already has or not, because patriarchal institutions are evil.

Claim 9: Gay marriage has had historical and anthropological precedents.

Claim 10: Banning gay marriage is like banning interracial marriage.

Claim 11: The case for gay marriage is more "poignant" than the case against it.

Claim 12: Gay marriage is necessary for the self-esteem of a minority.

Claim 13: Anyone who opposes same-sex marriage is homophobic.

Claim 14: Exceptions could be made for religious communities that disapprove of gay marriage, or religious communities could simply add their rites to those of the state.

Claim 15: To sustain an "ethic of caring and responsibility," we must include gay people in every institution.

Claim 16: Norms of any kind at all are discriminatory.

Claim 17: Almost everyone believes in equality. How can we have that if gay citizens are denied the same rights as other citizens?

Claim 18: Winning the struggle for gay marriage is important for the cause of gay liberation.

Claim 19: What about majority rule in democratic countries?

Claim 20: But gay people are a small minority. Allowing them to marry would mean nothing more than a slight alteration to the existing system and would even add support for the institution. What's all the fuss about?

Conclusion Endnotes

There's nothing wrong with homosexuality. One of us, in fact, is gay. We oppose gay marriage, not gay relationships (which are already supported by most of the economic and legal benefits given to common-law couples and should be supported by all).

Most people assume that heterosexuality is a given of nature and thus not vulnerable to cultural change, that nothing will ever discourage straight people from getting together and starting families. But we argue — and this is important — that heterosexual bonding must indeed be deliberately fostered by a distinctive and supportive culture.

Because heterosexual bonding is directly related to both reproduction and survival, and because it involves much more than copulation, all human societies have actively fostered it (although some have also allowed or even encouraged homosexuality in specific circumstances). This is done through culture: rules, customs, laws, symbols, rituals, incentives, rewards, and other public mechanisms. So deeply embedded are these, however, that few people are consciously aware of them.

Much of what is accomplished in animals by nature ("biology," "genetics," or "instinct" ) must be accomplished in humans by culture (all other aspects of human existence, including marriage). If culture were removed, the result wouldn't be a functioning organism whether human or non-human. Apart from any other handicap would be the inability to reproduce successfully. Why? Because mating (sexual intercourse), which really is largely governed by a biological drive, isn't synonymous with the complex behaviours required by family life within a larger human society.
So how could marriage be harmed by adding a few gay couples? A good question, especially when you consider the deplorable state of marriage right now, which has been caused by hedonistic and irresponsible straight people.

Marriage is a complex institution. It must do several things (and, from an anthropological and historical perspective, fostering the emotional gratification of two adults is the least important).

It must foster the bonds between men and women for at least three reasons: to encourage the birth and rearing of children (at least to the extent necessary for preserving and fostering society); to provide an appropriate setting for children growing to maturity; and — something usually forgotten — to ensure the co-operation of men and women for the common good.

Moreover, it must foster the bonds between men and children, otherwise men would have little incentive to become active participants in family life. Finally, it helps provide men with a healthy masculine identity based on a distinctive, necessary, and publicly valued contribution to society — fatherhood — especially when no other contribution is considered acceptable.

Without public cultural support for a durable relationship binding men, women, and children, marriage would initially be reduced to nothing more than one "lifestyle choice" among many — that is, it could no longer be encouraged in the public square (which is necessary in a secular society).

In fact, doing so would be denounced and even challenged in court as discrimination — the undue "privilege" of a "dominant" class, which is a breach of equality as defined by Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms. But discrimination in this case should be allowed — and could be under the Charter — in view of the fact that marriage, as a universal institution and the essential cultural complement to biology, is prior to all concepts of law.

In short, redefining marriage would amount to a massive human experiment. Some experiments work, it's true, but others don't. Remember that an earlier experiment, changing the divorce laws, set in motion social forces that would not be evident for forty years. This new experiment would be unprecedented in human history, and yet we haven't taken the time to think carefully about possible consequences. Instead, we've allowed emotion to sweep aside all other considerations.

How the Homosexual Agenda Threatens Our Freedoms

From the JournalistaChronicle a review of some of the forms of intimidation already occuring:

(1) Go to jail for “hate speech.”

If a “Human Rights Commission” finds that you have made public statements that “incites hatred” against homosexual persons, you may go to prison. Ultimately, even ministers of the gospel will not be exempt. [I assume they are referring to global orthodox angelicism since that is where I found the article, but I think that would also apply to those teaching at other churches as well]....

...Just three weeks ago in Philadelphia eleven people belonging to a Christian evangelistic group called “Repent America” were arrested for singing hymns and carrying signs (”Homosexuality Is Sin; Christ Can Set You Free”) at a homosexual celebration called “Outfest.” They were charged with “ethnic intimidation” under Pennsylvania’s “hate crime” law (”sexual orientation” and “gender identity” were added to the law this past summer). This, along with a charge of “criminal conspiracy,” and other trumped-up charges, could result in a prison sentence of up to 47 years.

(2) Lose your job for not supporting “coming out” celebrations at work or for “discriminatory” speech outside of the workplace.

That’s right, you can even be fired from your job for statements made outside your place of employment. Chris Kempling, a public school teacher and guidance counselor in British Columbia, Canada, was suspended for one month, without pay, for writing allegedly “discriminatory and derogatory statements against homosexuals” to a local newspaper. What kind of terrible statements did Kempling write? Things such as: “Gay people are seriously at risk [of sexually transmitted disease], not because of heterosexual attitudes but because of their sexual behavior”; and “Homosexual relationships are unstable, ‘gay’ sex poses health risks and many religions consider homosexuality immoral.”

(3) Be fined and pay heavy legal fees for daring to criticize, or not supporting with your business, homosexual practice.

Two incidents in Canada give a good indication of where things are headed. Canadian print shop owner Scott Brockie was ordered to pay a fine of $5000 because he refused to print homosexual advocacy materials for the Canadian Gay and Lesbian Archives.

(4) Have your children taken away from you if you teach them “homophobic” ideas.

In 2003 Dr. Cheryl Clark was ordered by a Denver Circuit Court judge and later in 2004 by the Colorado Court of Appeals not to say anything to her adopted daughter that her ex-lesbian partner might construe as “homophobic.” In California potential foster parents who express disapproval of homosexual practice are disqualified from foster care.

Read the entire article here.

The "single most common objection to the Faith today"

H/T Insight Scoop:

For those of you with that philosophical bent you might enjoy
this from Peter Kreeft's address, "A Philosophical Refutation of Reductionism," which was presented to the Hawaii International Conference on Arts and Humanities last year:

Ronald Knox once quipped that "the study of comparative religions is the best way to become comparatively religious." The reason, as G. K. Chesterton says, is that, according to most "scholars" of comparative religion, "Christianity and Buddhism are very much alike, especially Buddhism."

But any Christian who does apologetics must think about comparative religions because the most popular of all objections against the claims of Christianity today comes from this field.

The objection is not that Christianity is not true but that it is not the truth; not that it is a false religion but that it is only a religion. The world is a big place, the objector reasons; "different strokes for different folks". How insufferably narrow-minded to claim that Christianity is the one true religion! God just has to be more open-minded than that.This is the single most common objection to the Faith today, for "today" worships not God but equality.

It fears being right where others are wrong more than it fears being wrong. It worships democracy and resents the fact that God is an absolute monarch. It has changed the meaning of the word honor from being respected because you are superior in some way to being accepted because you are not superior in any way but just like us. The one unanswerable insult, the absolutely worst name you can possibly call a person in today's society, is "fanatic", especially "religious fanatic".

If you confess at a fashionable cocktail party that you are plotting to overthrow the government, or that you are a PLO terrorist or a KGB spy, or that you molest porcupines or bite bats' heads off, you will soon attract a buzzing, fascinated, sympathetic circle of listeners.

But if you confess that you believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, you will find yourself suddenly alone, with a distinct chill in the air.

Here are twelve of the commonest forms of this objection, the odium of elitism, with answers to each.
Read the entire essay over at the Catholic Education Resource Center site

Reid, Pelosi Swearing Match Over Omnibus

From CBS News/Politico;

Politico: Heated, Profane Exchanges Took Place Between Democrats After Spending Bill Didn't Reach 60 Votes In Senate

...Filling 1,132 pages, the sprawling bill is really nine bills in one, covering more than 12 Cabinet-level departments and agencies that represent the heart of the domestic budget this year, as well as U.S. contributions to global health and foreign aid programs overseas. The total cost represents a nearly $20 billion, or 5 percent, increase over the Bush administration’s spending requests for many of the same accounts.

Rather than engage in veto fights last fall, Democrats opted to postpone action until Obama took power in January. Reid’s dilemma has been that to win over Republican support, he had to be willing to allow votes on amendments. But to meet Friday’s deadline, he had to be prepared to kill whatever the GOP offered so that the measure didn’t have to go back to the House for further consultation. Thus, some otherwise popular initiatives, such as increasing funding for Native-American health programs, were scuttled. And Democrats had to rally behind sometimes embarrassing earmarks that had been negotiated between the two chambers back in December. ..(more)

Tea Party Anyone?

From the Washinton Times and

...Enough. Last Friday, thousands of Americans turned out to protest reckless government spending in the pork-laden stimulus package, the earmark-clogged budget bill, the massive mortgage-entitlement program and taxpayer-funded corporate rescues.

Contrary to false left-wing blog smears that the hastily planned impromptu events were "Astro-turfed," the crowds were packed with first-time grass-roots activists. They were people with families and day jobs whose usual definition of "community organizing" involves neighborhood yard sales or their kids' soccer matches. They were members of the silent majority who decided to be silent no more.

Enough. These "Tea Party" protests spanned the sunny Santa Monica pier to the icy streets of Chicago and Cleveland to rain-drenched Atlanta, overflowing the grounds of the St. Louis Gateway Arch, with massive turnouts in Greenville, S.C., and crowds of several hundred each in New York City and Washington, D.C., and all points in between. Like those who demonstrated before them in Seattle, Denver, Mesa, Ariz., and Overland Park, Kan., two weeks ago, the Tea Party participants held homemade signs that said it all: "Your mortgage is not my problem"; "Liberty: All the stimulus we need"; "No taxation without deliberation." ...

American Tea Party coverage over at Pajamas TV

EL SEGUNDO, Calif., March 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Internet TV media company Pajamas TV has been monitoring the recent Tea Party protests across the U.S. under its "American Tea Party" initiative and has extensive video coverage of the events on its website at
Furthermore, photos of protests that took place on Friday, February 27 in Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Hartford, Houston, Kansas City, Nashville, New York, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Orlando, Philadelphia, Sacramento, San Diego, Santa Monica, Seattle, Springfield, Mo., St. Louis, Tulsa and Washington, D.C. can be viewed at:
Pajamas TV is keeping a schedule of upcoming protests, interviewing organizations and individuals involved, and gathering photos and videos from various events. The current schedule shows seven upcoming Tea Party protests for this weekend.
On Friday, March 6 a protest is scheduled in Salt Lake City, Utah. On Saturday, March 7 protests are scheduled for Monterey, Calif., Green Bay, Wis., Lafayette, La., Harrisburg, Pa., Pembroke Pines, Fla., (South Florida) and Olathe, Kan.
To view the complete schedule of Tea Party protests at Pajamas TV, visit: To view the home page for Pajamas TV's "American Tea Party" initiative, visit:

Tea Parties? What Tea Parties? Predictably, Established Media Coverage of Tea Party Protests Is Sparse

From NewsBusters:

Coverage of "tea party" protests in various cities around the country (this March 4 Pajamas Media press release, HT to FreeRepublic, cited 22 locations on February 27 and seven this weekend) has been sparse to non-existent, especially at major establishment media outlets...

...Looking at this weekend's coverage thus far, a 10:15 a.m. Google News search on "tea party" for March 7-8 (in quotes, sorted by date with duplicates included), returned only 47 items (the over 1,500 results claim at the top of the first page of the results is wrong; scroll to the bottom to see that there are only 5 pages of results). Roughly a quarter of them are unrelated to the protests; most of the rest are from local publications and TV stations results. One exception is Michelle Malkin's column ("The Wealth Battlefield") in the Washington Times.
As if you didn't know already: With the exception of a one-paragraph blog post at the New York Times, searches at the Washington Post and the Times on "tea party
" (not in quotes) indicate that there was no coverage of the protest events.

Maybe the tea partiers should have told the press that they were holding Iraq War protests

Fallacy of Mean- A Response to the "Ethical Middle Ground" of Embryonic Research

Earlier I posted the article from the LA Times on the Obama Administration's plan to reverse the Bush Policy on embryonic stem cell research and a couple of responses from CMR and Georgetown blog.

Over at In the Light of the Law there is another response on the "fallacy of the mean," i.e. that when faced with choosing between two opposed options, a middle course is best. H/T Insight Scoop.

..."Sure, if I'm trying to decide between having two scoops of ice cream, and having none, I might choose to have just one. But that's about as far as "the mean" approach gets a bloke.

Example, some folks believed that no Jews should be gassed. Hitler thought that they all should be gassed. Should one offer to split the difference, and gas just half of them? Don't like Nazi analogies? Okay. . .

Some Founding Fathers thought slavery should be protected throughout the country, others thought it should be made illegal everywhere. So they compromised, and made half the States slave, half free. We all know how that one turned out, don't we?

I believe that no embryonic human being should be experimented upon, let alone killed. The Obama administration believes that they all can be treated so. Reese suggests we settle our differences by only experimenting on and killing "the extra ones". How one squares Reese's compromise with the absolute prohibition against deliberately taking an innocent human life (Evangelium vitae, 57) I have no idea.

And yes, I know they're (almost certainly) "going to die anyway", and not like you or I are "going to die anyway." But that does not mean that these tiny people should die by my hand, or with my dollars.As we look for a way out of Complication No. 658 that follows in the wake of separating sex from procreation, we're going to need better options than 'just-kill-some-of-them'.