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.