Sunday, December 20, 2009

Jesus: "Happy Holidays" Is Just Fine, Folks

This was passed along to me in an e-mail. It was a change of pace from the other forwards I get on subjects such as these. By the way, I believe the reference to someone having a conniption over the Bush White House's "Happy Holidays" cards is rooted in fact.

Letter from Jesus about Christmas

It has come to my attention that many of you are upset that folks are taking My name out of the season. How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be most easily understood by those of you who have been blessed with children of your own. I don't care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate My birth, just GET ALONG AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

Now, having said that, let Me go on. If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn't allow a scene depicting My birth, then just get rid of a couple of Santas and snowmen and put in a small Nativity scene on your own front lawn If all My followers did that there wouldn't be any need for such a scene on the town square because there would be many of them all around town.

Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a holiday tree, instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all trees. You can remember Me anytime you see any tree. Decorate a grape vine if you wish: I actually spoke of that one in a teaching, explaining who I am in relation to you and what each of our tasks were. If you have forgotten that one, look up John 15: 1 - 8.


If you want to give Me a present in remembrance of My birth here is my wish list. Choose something from it:


1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know: they tell Me all the time.

2. Visit someone in a nursing home. You don't have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.


3. Instead of writing the President complaining about the wording on the cards his staff sent out this year, why don't you write and tell him that you'll be praying for him and his family this year. Then follow up... It will be nice hearing from you again.


4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can't afford and they don't need, spend time with them. Tell them the story of My birth, and why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your arms and remind them that I love them.

5 . Pick someone that has hurt you in the past and forgive him or her.

6. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless? Since you don't know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile; it could make the difference.


7. Instead of nitpicking about what the retailer in your town calls the holiday, be patient with the people who work there. Give them a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren't allowed to wish you a "Merry Christmas" that doesn't keep you from wishing them one. Then stop shopping there on Sunday. If the store didn't make so much money on that day they'd close and let their employees spend the day at home with their families


8. If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary -- especially one who takes My love and Good News to those who have never heard My name.

9. Here's a good one. There are individuals and whole families in your town who not only will have no "Christmas" tree, but neither will they have any presents to give or receive. If you don't know them, buy some food and a few gifts and give them to the Salvation Army or some other charity which believes in Me and they will make the delivery for you.

10. Finally, if you want to make a statement about your belief in and loyalty to Me, then behave like a Christian. Don't do things in secret that you wouldn't do in My presence. Let people know by your actions that you are one of mine.

Don't forget; I am God and can take care of Myself. Just love Me and do what I have told you to do. I'll take care of all the rest. Check out the list above and get to work; time is short. I'll help you, but the ball is now in your court. And do have a most blessed Christmas with all those whom you love and remember :

I LOVE YOU,

JESUS

Monday, December 14, 2009

Woods Saga Reminds Us of Domestic Violence Double Standard

In response to Christine Flowers's fine piece highlighting the disparity with which many treat female-on-male violence as opposed to male-on-female violence, I wrote to her, and a later version of it ran in the Philadelphia Daily News on December 9:

http://www.philly.com/dailynews/opinion/20091209_Letters__Christine_s_right_about_domestic_violence.html

I THANK Christine Flowers for her op-ed on Elin Nordegren and Tiger Woods.
Though we don't know what did and didn't happen, it's sickening to see all the responses saying that violence is deserved (or even humorous) if the recipient is male. More than 250 studies indicate that women initiate domestic violence against men approximately as often as the reverse occurs.

Too many people don't treat it seriously enough, arguing that men are usually stronger and bigger, but this difference often works to women's advantage, as men are told never to strike a woman (some say "even in self-defense"), giving abusive women the idea that they have carte blanche. Domestic violence is not about size, strength, or gender.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Woman Smeared for Helping the "Wrong" Type of Animal

For the Thanksgiving season's prime example of hypocrisy, we look at the silly furor that followed a New England woman's good deed towards a much-maligned creature. Lyndsey Medeiros, of Rehobeth, Massachusetts, had rescued a turkey from ending up deceased and stuffed on someone's table. She named her new friend "Jerry" and then realized he had a cataract problem. So, just as people might do for a cat or dog, Medeiros opted for surgery, but needed a little financial assistance to do so.

Well, out of the alleys came nasty comments from people completely up in arms that someone would adopt a turkey, let alone that anyone would contribute to helping with surgery. It highlights the extremely inconsistent way we deal with animals. I doubt anyone would be suggesting we kill Milo the cat or Scruffy the dog to feed a hungry family, but this is exactly the "solution" many numbskulls took the time to write.

The only reason the image of having a turkey in one's house as a pet would strike anyone as bizarre is because people aren't used to it. I sponsored an Indonesian child through Childreach a few years ago (contrary to the claim that animal-lovers don't also care about human beings), and was told that, when I write letters or send pictures to him, I should avoid sending any photos of someone lovingly holding a pet, because their culture views animals differently from ours. In other words, they would find it bizarre that anyone here would take an animal into the home, and raise him/her lovingly as a pet -- including cats and dogs -- because they're not used to it. Now, if we adopted the philosophy of Jerry's critics, the fact that Indonesians think we're crazy for caring about some animals means we shouldn't be doing it.

The more I think about this, the more I realize HOW hypocritical Jerry's critics are. I'd bet that few to none of these people give to the homeless. I'd also bet that a good number of them would gladly donate if someone's newly rescued cat or dog needed eye surgery, and the total could go two or three times $2,600. I'd ALSO bet that most of them have flat-screen TVs or swimming pools or three-hundred-dollar jackets. Chances are, nobody gave them any crap about spending all that money when they could have been using it to feed the hungry and to house the homeless. Fine.

But then this woman adopts an animal they don't personally deem worthy of our compassion, and all of the sudden they start "caring about the homeless." Hard to believe.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Tofurky Day

Yeah, Dawg: http://www.tofurky.com/

Monday, November 9, 2009

Happy Anniversary, BeneGram.

Yay, blog. Way to go. You don't look a day over zero.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween

My two favorite holidays of the year are Independence Day and Halloween. I usually shake my head with befuddlement when I hear about parents or schools "doing away with" Halloween because of its supposed pagan origins. The pagans also gave us the idea for a Christmas tree; let's see if those parents and schools hold true to their principles in a couple of months.

Some dislike Halloween's backdrop, citing "horror stories" (tee hee!) about people wearing fake knives "through" their hearts or dressing up as scary monsters in front of children, but Halloween doesn't have to be about that at all.

I'm 36, and I've gotten dressed up just about every year. Wanna know my costumes? A painter, a baker (a few times), a turtle, a cockroach (a friendly-looking one), Bert from SESAME STREET, a train engineer, a scarecrow, a farmer, and, last year, Joe the Plumber (my first political costume). Not a frightening get-up in the bunch (unless, perhaps, you're a crow).

It's not a holiday for everybody, of course, but many people like having fun with it, putting together a costume, trying to guess who everyone else is supposed to be, bobbing for apples (in the pre-H1N1 years), and going through cornfield mazes. See, folks? No need to sacrifice a chicken for Satan at all in order to enjoy All Hallow's Eve.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Goose, Gander: The Media's Selective Outrage; Racism vs. Legitimate Criticism

Published today in The Philadelphia Inquirer. It appeared much as I sent it in, and so I will provide it for you here:

http://www.philly.com/inquirer/opinion/20090922_Letters_to_the_Editor.html?viewAll=Y&text=

For eight years, the most despicable things were said about President George W. Bush, who was slammed as a liar, a moron, a Nazi (or Hitler himself), and Satan. All who reelected him in 2004 were dismissed as idiots.

Did R. Danielle Egan ("Racism underlies rage at Obama presidency," Wednesday) or Tony Auth (cartoon, Thursday) decry these attacks with equal zeal? Did they balk when people portrayed Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as a Stepin Fetchit character, joked about giving Bush more pretzels so he would choke to death, or prayed that Vice President Dick Cheney would suffer one final heart attack?

Is this what we have to look forward to for the next 3 1/2 years? Anyone who points out ACORN's shenanigans, disagrees with massive government spending (from both parties), or questions changes in health care is being called a racist. This is a blatant attempt to change the subject and to intimidate decent people into remaining quiet.

Are there racists in this world? Yes, too many of them, and they come in all colors. But suggesting that any criticism of President Obama is racially based is utterly reprehensible.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Eight Years.

Many, many people have their personal 9/11 stories. Here are mine.

-- Just hours after the attacks, I began thinking of the man who operates a convenience store near my house. I had interviewed him for a research paper I was working on in college -- one that contrasted the management and operation styles of local convenience stores. Because he is of Middle-Eastern descent, I started to worry that some violent, terribly misguided goofball would show up and begin starting some trouble. I headed up that way.

When I arrived, there were only a few customers in the store, and the man's wife was returning from a pharmacy across the street, where she had purchased a portable television (no doubt to keep abreast of the incoming news). I was unsure of how, exactly, I was going to suggest that they close down their store or take similar precautions without coming across as insulting or needlessly alarming.

The customers had all left, and I was about to say something when the man said, "Did you want anything? Because we're about to close." I sympathetically told him he was probably doing the right thing, and then made my exit.

-- On that September 11, there was a blood drive scheduled at a nearby church, one at which I had planned to donate that day, anyway. Well, in part because of the news flooding in throughout the day, and the Red Cross pleading for help, by the time I got there the place was packed. A local school group was in line -- whether or not they would have been there under normal circumstances I do not know -- and the queue weaved up the stairwell and out the door. I hadn't gotten near the front of the queue when a volunteer said, "Sorry. We've had so many people come in that we're out of supplies."

Probably a problem they wish they had every day, huh?

Monday, August 24, 2009

With All Due Respect to Kool and the Gang

A letter of mine appeared today in The Philadelphia Inquirer:

http://www.philly.com/inquirer/opinion/20090824_Letters_to_the_Editor.html?posted=y&viewAll=y#comments

It was trimmed; here, for thoroughness's sake, is my original letter in its entirety:

The argument that "ladies' nights" actually benefit men is ludicrous. Straight men go to bars and clubs mostly to eat, drink, and meet women; straight women go mostly to eat, drink, and meet men. Their goals are the same, so why should one group have to pay and not the other?

Furthermore, how do women feel, knowing that the bar is "stocking" the singles' bars with women as though they were fish in a trout pond?

Comparisons of ladies' nights to "kids eat free" or "senior early-bird specials" are fallacious, since most people get to be kids and senior citizens eventually, whereas most of us spend our lives as just one gender or the other.

What if a yoga class or crafts store allowed men to shop there at huge discounts? Women, rightfully, would be furious. Likewise, bars, clubs, car washes, and golf courses should treat everybody the same.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Joke About Poisoned Wine: "Disgraceful;" Joke About Assassinating Bush: "High Five!"

I see now that Rachel Maddow and the kind folks (he said charitably) at Media Matters are losing their [stuff] over Glenn Beck's stupid little joke last week. On his show, he pretended to share some wine with a cardboard cutout of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. In one brief moment, he says, "By the way, I put poison in your -- no..."

The whole "sketch" was rather dopey, and I certainly doubt that I would have made the little "poison" joke, even if Speaker Pelosi were not in government. But to hear Media Matters tell it, you'd think Beck had designed a T-shirt with Pelosi's face shown in a shotgun's crosshair, or gave out directions to her grandchildren's grade-school classrooms. It was a dumb little joke that he made clear right away was such by "retracting" it.

Here's the question: was the left up in arms when Al Franken, at the 2004 Republican National Convention, joked about helping Al Qaeda to assassinate President Bush?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=loVTU-ASWZA

That's hardly the only such example of someone on the left "joking" about something bad happening to Bush/Cheney/Rice/etc., not even to mention the "Nazi"/"Satan" double standard that's also especially illuminated these last few weeks. But I ask this sincerely (sort of): If anyone has proof of MM or similar left-wing groups expressing outrage on the level of what is being expressed now, I'll applaud them for their consistency. I won't stay up waiting, though.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Agitator Beautifully Scrutinizes the Two Faces of Jon Stewart

I don't know who The Agitator is, but (s)he has Jon Stewart pegged perfectly, including his careful selection of when to be Mr. Kill You with a Smile with his guests, and when to fawn. This is smack on:

http://www.theagitator.com/2009/08/04/cash-for-clunkers-is-a-huge-success-pause-for-laughs-or-why-the-daily-show-just-isnt-funny-anymore/

"Stewart’s interviewing skills are suffering, too. When he interviews people he disagrees with, he can be brilliant. When he interviews Democrats, he tends to sound like he’s hosting The Chris Farley Show."

Score.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

EMBRYO a Thorough, Airtight Work

Some months ago, I finished reading Embryo: A Defense of Human Life, put out by Princeton University's Robert P. George and the University of South Carolina's Christopher Tollefsen:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0385522827/ref=cm_rdp_product.

The book is thorough, airtight, and painstakingly researched in its presentation of the facts that human embryos, considered mere "balls of cells" or "potential human beings" by many people, are, in fact, "actual human beings with potential."

Those who support the destruction of human embryos -- specifically, for the purposes of stem-cell research -- have persistently argued that those who describe embryos as human beings are merely foisting their religious ideology or personal views on the rest of the populace, but George and Tollefsen make little to no reference to God or any sort of religion or religious belief throughout their work, instead presenting the facts of embryology (citing numerous embryology texts already in existence) and carefully picking apart the various arguments that have been put forth over the years by the pro-ESCR lobby. As someone who makes no claims of having inside information on what or who created us, I can tell you that the authors' arguments will convince the most confident atheist as well as the most devout believer. Further arguments are made as to what should be done with those human embryos currently trapped in a cryogenic limbo in fertility clinics.

Embryo is a good resource for those who'd like some more scientific substance in their defense of human embryos, and might give those who support embryonic research a little something to think about -- namely, that most of the people who oppose it really aren't anti-cure Luddites who wish to see more people suffering and dying from disease.

Monday, July 20, 2009

And That's the Way It Is

The sad passing of Walter Cronkite led me to a sidebar thought on CBS News, who went from Edward R. Murrow...to Walter Cronkite...to Dan Rather...

...

...

... to Katie Couric.

FOOEEEEZH.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Obama Gets One Right -- But Also Kills Animal :-(

Feel free to fill in your hackneyed expression about blind squirrels eventually finding a nut, but I agree with the President's decision to expand benefits for same-sex couples. People should not be denied health benefits because of their sexual orientation.

I disagree, on the other hand, with Obama's swatting of a fly during a recent interview. BeneGram is an animal-friendly place, dude. Perhaps someone should acquaint President Obama with the humane Bug Vacuum®: http://la.indymedia.org/news/2009/06/228277.php.

I've got one, though the easiest way to capture a critter and release him/her outside, unharmed, is to use a drinking cup (just not one you drink from) and a piece of paper.

1. Wait for insect to land on surface.
2. Gently entrap insect with cup.
3. Being careful to avoid harming insect's legs, slide piece of paper between cup and surface.
4. Escort insect outside.
5. EMANCIPATION.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Janeane Garofalo Talks Like an I-D-I-O-(tea)

My unfashionably belated thoughts on the April Tea Parties and the media coverage thereof:

I reeeeeeeally used to dig Janeane Garofalo. Back during her stand-up days. I loved how she would cover red-carpet award-show previews while wearing a sweatshirt and jeans. So counter to the rest of the night she was. Very cool and unpretentious. She struck me as the college friend you could always count on to go to a Breeders concert with, and then talk about the show at 2:26 in the morning in a diner.

That was long before her highly public plunge off the deep end, of course, with the most recent exhibit for the prosecution being her appearance on Countdown with Keith Olbermann, who'd probably cordially invite the Menendez brothers on if he believed they'd spend their time ripping into Dick Cheney.

“Let’s be very honest about what this is about,” Garofalo spewed. “It’s not about bashing Democrats, it’s not about taxes -- they have no idea what the Boston tea party was about -- they don’t know their history at all. This is about hating a black man in the White House. This is racism straight up. That is nothing but a bunch of teabagging rednecks.”

(And this person earlier had the privilege of interviewing the late Elliott Smith, whereas I didn't. Grrr.)

Mind you, she didn't say there might be a few loop-jobs in the crowd, as there typically are in any huge gathering. She smeared every last American who was there.

Ignoring, for the time being, anyway, the 319th "tea-bagging" reference offered to America by CNN and MSDNC combined*, one watches with astonishment her allegation. I'm not sure which is worse: the idea that she'd sink this low for lack of anything else to say, or the possibility that she sincerely believes her own donkey-poo. Is this what we have to look forward to for the next three-and-a-half years? Every person who criticizes (or even questions) White House policy, or complains about rampant spending (by both parties) will be called a racist, obstructionist, bigoted playa-hatah?

Word that all tea-party attendees are nothing more than hateful racists was probably at least a mild surprise to the many African-Americans there -- not that you could fairly expect CNN to mention that they were.

* Or maybe I won't. I mean, seriously? You're doing this on your cable news channels? I'm trying to picture John Chancellor giggling like a frat-boy while making sex references in his commentaries...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Two Ways to Help ALL Victims of Domestic Abuse

For the past few years, I have gone to local libraries and domestic violence centers to distribute literature for two national organizations: Stop Abuse for EVERYONE (www.safe4all.org) and The Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men and Women (www.dahmw.org). Both are fine organizations that understand that neither violence nor victimhood has a gender. The most common scenario presented with respect to DV involves a violent male battering his wife or girlfriend, but there is much evidence demonstrating that women often initiate (that's a key word) abuse against their male partners. Indeed, this study indicates that, within heterosexual relationships in which only one partner is engaging in violence, the woman is the violent party 70.7% of the time:

http://pn.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/full/42/15/31-a

I mention the word "heterosexual" to point out that a disturbing level of violence also occurs within the gay-and-lesbian community, another facet that is overlooked when we only consider the "man beats woman" scenario. We do female victims of abuse no favors by ignoring male victims. Some DV shelters are fair and will assist any victim who walks through the door, but far too many ignore, ridicule, and harass male victims. I ask you for your help in two ways.

First, please look at and sign a petition that was introduced by DAHMW:

"For decades domestic abuse has been looked upon as a social problem of violence against women by men. Battered women's advocates and others concerned about domestic violence have created and funded over 2000 non profit agencies across the country that help victims. For more than 20 years these agencies have specialized in offering a full spectrum of services to what has been considered the traditional victims of domestic violence, women and children. Yet society has changed a great deal since we first became aware of the violence that goes on behind close doors. Men are now stay at home dads, some do the cooking, cleaning, laundry, change diapers, give the kids their baths and food shop...all the things that were unheard for men to do back in the 1950's and 60's when we first started recognizing the social problem of domestic violence. Women have changed quite a bit also. Many work outside the home, some hold high powered jobs and others run cement mixers. Women are also doing things that were unheard of in the 50's & 60's. They also get violent with their spouses/boyfriends and children. Our current system that offers supportive services to victims of intimate partner violence, everything from obtaining a court order to keep victims safe to clothing and transitional housing, for the most part, still runs under the antiquated notion that 95 - 98% of domestic abuse victims are women abused by men. This means that services for men abused by women or other men in same sex relationships are nearly non existent in these federally funded shelter programs. If you believe that federal and state funded domestic violence victims shelter programs should be mandated to support any victim and give them them same opportunities and services regardless of their gender, age, able-ism, ethnicity, religious beliefs or race etc. please sign our petition."

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/2/domestic-abuse-victims

Second, you can support this organization just by surfing the Web, at no cost to you. The folks at GoodSearch will donate to DAHMW with every search you make on its site. Go to www.goodsearch.com, and enter "Helpline Men" in the "Who Do You Goodsearch For?" box, and then search away. Thank you.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

BeneGram's 2009 Final Fourcasts

WOMEN: Connecticut, Oklahoma, Stanford and Louisville. UConn over OK in the final. (UPDATE: Yay! Another 4-for-4 prediction!)

MEN: Louisville, Oklahoma, Pittsburgh, Memphis. Louisville over OK in the final. (UPDATE: Pshaw! A 0-for-4 prediction.)

I should point out that I had all four teams right in the 2005 women's Final Four (except I didn't have Baylor winning it all), and I had three of four teams right in the 2003 men's Final Four (the exception being Syracuse, who took the whole thing). I point that out not because it foreshadows future success, but rather because it'll probably never happen again. For amusement purposes only. BeneGram is not responsible for any action taken after reading the predictions herein. Enjoy the Dances.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

World Turns Clocks Forward; Obama Turns Calendar Back Eight Years

Well, on Saturday night/Sunday morning, most of us moved our watches up an hour for Daylight Moving Time. (It doesn’t save anything. It’s like Fake Time. If we all want more sunlight, let’s all just get up earlier. Bah…)

Then, on Monday, Obama was partying like it’s 2001, expanding federal funding for embryonic stem-cell research, all the while polishing the same tired talking points from when this issue was first hitting the fan eight years ago -- talking points that were never true to begin with. Many in our oh-so-evenhanded mainstream media got credit for the assist. I like to think that even many who support ESCR were nauseated by the hyperbolizing going on over the past few days, with comments that “we’re finally going to have science in this country” and “opening the door to hope that had been closed for so many years.” (All those thousands of people who’ve been treated successfully with adult stem cells must have thought for a split second that their improved conditions were just a really nice dream.)

Stunningly, not only did Obama expand the funding of embryo-destructive research, but he also rescinded Bush’s executive order 13435, which had mandated funding of research into “alternative” sources of stem cells. We know that we might as well remove the quotations around the word “alternative,” as advancements with induced pluripotent stem cells – meaning skin cells coaxed at reverting to an embryonic-like state – are coming just about every week, and researchers keep finding easier and more efficient ways of making it work.

Meanwhile, the success stories just keep on comin’ with adult stem cells, such as the story this week of the young man who is regaining feeling in his chest and foot after receiving an injection of umbilical-cord stem cells in Peru. A dirt-bike accident left had left him paralyzed from the neck down. Not anymore:

http://www.victoriaadvocate.com/news/local/story/415974.html

(Thanks to Don Margolis (www.donmargolis.com) for linking to this story first.)

But remember: a patient with Parkinson’s or juvenile diabetes multiple sclerosis or a spinal-cord injury being successfully treated with anything other than embryonic stem cells simply doesn’t qualify as science, right? This kid can feel the lower half of his body again, and his blood pressure has stabilized, but if no embryonic human beings are destroyed we’re still “in the Dark Ages.” Right, mainstream media?

These exciting stories come from the kinds of promising, completely non-controversial research to which Obama gave lip service during his Monday press conference -- precisely while signing something that revoked President Bush’s executive order to study that research. Millions will support stem-cell research unless embryos are destroyed. Evidently, Obama will support stem-cell research ONLY IF embryos are destroyed. What a unifier.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Conveniently Brand-New Call for Unity

This letter of mine appeared in The Philadelphia Daily News on Feb. 25.

I keep hearing this call for unity and bipartisanship. Oddly, the plea for us to all get along just so happened to coincide with President Obama's inauguration. Somehow I doubt that Democrats were this eager to "agree to disagree" when it was the GOP controlling the White House and Congress. No, then they were pledging to "stand up to Bush."

I'm also reminded of the classless louts who decided to "put their differences aside" and show their "unity" by shamefully booing President Bush on Inauguration Day, and making obscene gestures at his helicopter as he left.

As much as people disagreed with President Bill Clinton, I just can't seem to remember people flipping him off while Bush was being inaugurated eight years ago.

Unity and bipartisanship are great things. Less great is the Democrats' gross misunderstanding of those two words. Contrary to what they believe, "bipartisanship" doesn't mean silencing all who disagree with you.

This time, left on the cutting-room floor was my point that even "if these dolts can’t even show respect to Bush for one day – which they should – then how about showing respect to President Obama by not marring his ceremonies?" Instead, it became a pep rally.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

It's About TIME

Perhaps I'm on a little roll here. Over the years, I've had letters/op-eds published in The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Kansas City Star, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, (most recently) The Washington Times, and several other publications. I'm happy to say that I broke new personal ground in one of the weeklies, as Time published my response to a cover story from a fortnight ago...

"Perhaps if Alice Park had interviewed even one opponent of embryonic research, her article would not have lacked so many important facts. Adult (nonembryonic) stem cells, dismissed by Park as 'less versatile,' have already treated thousands of actual human patients in the fight against conditions like juvenile diabetes -- a disease mentioned anecdotally by Park. Different types of adult stem cells (there are several) can be used for different situations; we do not need a one-size-fits-all cell that can become anything."

Trimmed for space purposes (I presume) was this part:

"President Bush’s federal funding limits to those stem-cell lines already in existence – a policy also implemented by the European Union – emphasized less controversial methods, such as the process of inducing adult cells to revert to an embryonic-like state. His policies did not hinder science; they helped it to advance."

Let's hope a couple million pairs of eyes, at least, look at the part that DID get published...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Just Another February Day

Happy Valentine's Day to those of you who have a special someone to spend it with. While you're staring at each other across the candlelit table, remember those who've spent every February 14 of their quiet lives alone. There are those who've just suffered through a divorce and those who are finding themselves without someone for the first time in a while, but there are also those for whom romance and dating and true love have always been mere widespread rumors. Some are teenagers; some are inhabiting college dorm rooms; some are in their 40s or 50s. Keep them in mind on this day, and you will treasure what you have more.

On that note, here are some nifty YouTube tracks:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tY7Sfavc50o

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=57cs8dntLyg

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jU6z-bKWZy0

More posts to come in the next week...

Monday, January 19, 2009

With Sincere Appreciation for George W. Bush

UPDATE: The following update of mine appeared in the Jan. 20, 2009 edition of the Washington Times. As the changing of the guard takes place at Pennsylvania Avenue, there will be no paucity of words about the man who has been the White House’s most famous occupant since 2001. Since many will typify the less-than-complimentary view that some hold towards him, perhaps some space can be spared for genuine gratitude.

Thank you, President George W. Bush, for your actions and guidance during and after September 11, 2001 -- the most shocking ter rorist attack on our nation’s soil. Years before, I had read about sports commentator Jim McKay, who, prior to going on the air with the tragic news of the 11 Israeli athletes being slain at the 1972 Summer Olympics, had to keep that horrible secret to himself. I was reminded of McKay as you quietly internalized the sudden news of the attack while you were spending time with schoolchildren, in what should have been a pleasant respite from your executive duties. You would later be derided for your demeanor there – including, ridiculously, for the book you were reading to the students -- by people who would perhaps have preferred you to have terrified everyone in the room by screaming bloody vengeance with your fist hoisted to the ceiling.

Even though many wanted The War on Terror to begin on September 12, military action was deliberate rather than hasty and ill-prepared. And you did the right thing by stressing to Americans that our enemies should be identified by their ideology, not their race. Leading by example, you visited a mosque in your painstaking efforts to differentiate between the radicals who committed the atrocities and the hundreds of millions of peace-loving Muslims living here and abroad.

Thank you, President Bush, for not allowing science to be divorced from ethics. In 2001, you struck a balance on embryonic stem-cell research, limiting the millions of federal funding towards that field of study to those stem-cell lines already created, from human embryos already destroyed. You also devoted generous amounts of funding to studying adult stem cells -- which have already treated thousands of actual human patients -- and signed an executive order for more study of “alternative” methods of obtaining stem cells. Your opponents mischaracterized your view as “religious,” and reviled your policy as “anti-science” (or, worse, as “anti-cure”), but the positive results speak otherwise. A little more than a year ago, scientists successfully reprogrammed ordinary adult cells to an embryonic-like state – one of the “alternative” methods you had outlined. Many researchers are now turning away from embryonic research and toward these induced pluripotent cells – for reasons of both ethics and practicality. Your policy di d not impede research; it helped it to advance.

Thank you, Preside nt Bush, for what you’ve done for Africa. You initiated a bipartisan program that allows more than a million Africans to receive HIV antiretroviral drugs free of charge. You allocated billions in humanitarian aid in the fight there against AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, poverty, and hunger, earning you praise from activist-rockers Bob Geldof and Bono, who may or may not agree with your foreign policy, but nonetheless hold Africa close enough to their hearts that they see you as a champion for their cause.

Your successor, Barack Obama, said in one of his television ads that the question should not be whether we’re better or worse off now than we were four years ago, smugly adding, “We all know the answer to that.” It was part of the centerpiece of his campaign: disparaging you. And yet you’ve been nothing but gracious w hile preparing to hand over the reins to someone who fashioned his presidential run around being your polar opposite.

When you, yourself, were running in 2000, you explained that great leaders and decisions are made by principle, not polls. That can be a dangerous philosophy to embrace, when the nightly news includes continual updates on your approval numbers (more often, oddly enough, when they’re down than when they’re up…hmm). Many, indeed, will be sneering and cheering as you head back to Crawford, Texas. But more than you might realize are thanking you sincerely today, just as I am.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Keith Olbermann Perpetuates Oft-Repeated Lie

...not that the Bag of Air at MSDNC is any stranger to having things wrong. Remember: this is the same man who was on THE TONIGHT SHOW a few years ago to rip President Bush's stance on embryonic stem-cell research by arguing that the human embryos in question are not fertilized (get thee to a seventh-grade biology book).

Well, on his Jan. 6 edition of COUNTDOWN, KO ripped legal and policy analyst Tom McClusky during his nightly, idiotic, partisan "Worse/Worser/Worst Person in the World" routine. McClusky has sided with those who, according to Olbermann, "interfered" in Michael Schiavo's bid to have his wife Terri clinically starved and dehydrated to death in 2005, over the pleas from Americans that they should -- ready for this? -- "stop their cynical manipulation of this beleaguered family."

K. Here's a little update for those who, while the Schiavo ordeal was transpiring, were a.) trapped down a well, b.) bouncing on the surface of the moon, or c.) Keith Olbermann.

The -- ah-- "beleaguered" family members of Terri Schiavo are the ones who wanted her to live and for the government to intercede to try to save her life. Her father, mother, sister, and brother wanted her to continue to receive food and water. It was her husband -- who was already planning to start a family with another woman -- who wanted her to "go." No evidence was ever provided with regard to a wish of Terri to be "let go" except for hearsay -- which was called into question by contradictory comments Michael made to others.

Furthermore, it was only after they did starve and dehydrate her that her brain functions ceased; before that she was not brain-dead but rather brain-damaged. These are not arbitrary phrases; they are medical terms with medical criteria, and so those who assert that she had been "brain-dead" prior to that are either ignorant or intentionally trying to mislead.

Those who pillory the brave people who attempted to save Terri Schiavo's life conveniently leave out that disability-rights groups were among those protesting the planned ending of her life – perhaps because they don't consider them as worthy a target as the so-called “religious right.” One doesn't need to be religious or a Republican to be outraged and horrified by the Terri Schiavo case -- but, of course, one DOES need to be religious or a Republican to get on Olbermann's list.

To learn more about Terri's story, head right to the source, her real, actual family: www.terrisfight.org. Beleaguered they may be -- but most often by the despicable likes of Keith Olbermann.