September 29, 2010

Obama’s Cites GOP’s Intent to Cut Education Spending; Press Ignores Its Meteoric Current Year Rise

USDeptOfEducLogo0910In New Mexico yesterday and probably in several other appearances, President Barack Obama criticized the House Republicans’ Pledge to America on several fronts. To me, only because I tend to look at the real numbers during most months, his most obviously off-base critique had to do with federal education spending (as carried at Jake Tapper’s Political Punch blog at ABC):

Obama said the Republicans would to cut education spending by 20 percent in order to pay for some of the tax breaks, a charge House Republicans say is inaccurate.

Tapper is one of the few establishment media reporters left who isn’t afraid to question liberal authority, but he missed a golden opportunity to dig into facts that might have left him wondering why the Republicans are being so timid.

According to the September 2009 Monthly Treasury Statement (go to Table 3 at the link), the Department of Eduction spent $53.4 billion during fiscal 2009. This year, projecting the August 2010 total of $81.6 billion for another month, it will probably come in at about $89 billion.

Does anyone have any idea what marvelous benefits have come about as a result of the current year’s 65% or more increase in spending? Neither do I.

Cutting this year’s spending by 20% next year would still leave the Department of Education spending about $70 billion per year — still over 30% above fiscal 2008. Again, for what tangible benefit?

Jake Tapper and others in the press could easily have and definitely should have checked out the numbers yours truly did, and didn’t. C’mon, people. Stop taking transcription and do a little work, why don’t you?

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

In Coverage of Latest Court Ruling, AP Continues Press Tradition of Stem Cell Obfuscation

StemCellsIt is truly remarkable to observe how press outlets continue to misreport and misinform the public in the area of stem cell research.

One of the latest examples came yesterday at the Associated Press. In a report covering a court ruling on government funding of embryonic stem cell research (ESCR), the AP’s Nedra Pickler completely failed to acknowledge that there are any other kinds of stem cells. Every single use by Pickler of the terms “stem cell” or “stem cells” has no modifying adjective, except the very first, whose modifier is “embryonic.”

It’s as if there are no other avenues besides ESCR for “scientific progress toward potentially lifesaving medical treatment.” In fact, Pickler’s less-informed readers would have no reason to believe that there is any form of stem cell research besides ESCR. The reality, which will be shown later for the umpteenth time, is that non-embryonic stem cells, often referred to as adult stem cells, have already shown that they can do virtually everything embryonic cells can with far less potential for side effects and, of course, no loss of human life. The word “adult” does not appear in the AP report.

Here are several paragraphs from Pickler’s pathetic piece, which also includes a deeply deceptive quote (is there any other kind?) from Obama White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs (bold is mine):

Court OKs US-funded stem cell research for now

An appeals court ruled Tuesday that government funding of embryonic stem cell research can continue for now.

The U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington granted the Obama administration’s request to allow the funding from the National Institutes of Health while it appeals a judge’s order blocking the research.

The administration had argued that stopping the research while the case proceeds would irreparably harm scientific progress toward potentially lifesaving medical treatment.

U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth had blocked President Barack Obama’s research funding guidelines because he said it’s likely they violate the law against federal funding of embryo destruction.

A three-judge panel of the appeals court issued an unusually quick decision, a day after hearing arguments over whether the funding could continue while it considers the case. The court also said it would expedite the case.

Researchers hope one day to use stem cells in ways that cure spinal cord injuries, Parkinson’s disease and other ailments. Opponents say the research is a form of abortion because human embryos must be destroyed to obtain the stem cells.

… “President Obama made expansion of stem cell research and the pursuit of groundbreaking treatments and cures a top priority when he took office,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said in a statement after the ruling. “We’re heartened that the court will allow NIH and their grantees to continue moving forward while the appeal is resolved.”

The bolded sentence above is false. Let’s take it one item at a time.

Adult stem cells have already been used to treat spinal cord injuries. Here’s one example that was recounted in testimony this month before the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations:

The first example Dr. Peduzzi Nelson gave was that of Silvio, who was quadriplegic after a spinal cord injury at the base of his neck, “AIS Grade A”. Grade A is considered the worst, indicating a “complete” spinal cord injury where no motor or sensory function is preserved in the lower body. Silvio was left with no movement of his legs and minimal movement of his fingers. At 2 years after injury, and after intensive rehabilitation failed to lead to an improvement, he received his own nasal adult stem cells and partial scar removal.

Today Silvio can maintain a standing position and wave without help. With a walker and short braces, he can walk over 30 feet without anyone helping him. He can now move his fingers, which he could not do before.

Silvio’s improvement is astounding. Usually only 5% of AIS Grade A patients improve in grade if a treatment is given at 1 year or greater after spinal cord injury. But using adult stem cells for treatment, Silvio is not an isolated case.

Adult stem cells have successfully treated Parkinson’s disease (Life News; February 16, 2009):

Scientists have published a paper in a medical journal describing the results of the world’s first clinical trial using autologous neural stem cells for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease. A leading bioethics watchdog says the results show more money should be put behind adult stem cells.

UCLA researchers published their results in February issue of the Bentham Open Stem Cell Journal which outlines the long term results of the trial.

“We have documented the first successful adult neural stem cell transplantation to reverse the effects of Parkinson’s disease and demonstrated the long term safety and therapeutic effects of this approach,” says lead author Dr. Michel Levesque.

The paper describes how Levesque’s team was able to isolate patient-derived neural stem cells, multiply them in vitro and ultimately differentiate them to produce mature neurons before they are reintroduced into the brain.

The team was able to inject the adult stem cells without the need for immunosuppressants. Unlike embryonic stem cells, adult stem cell injections don’t cause a patient’s immune system to reject the cells.

The adult stem cells were highly beneficial for the patient involved in the study.

Are the AP and Nedra Pickler going to quibble over whether the two instances cited represent “cures,” when the ESCR cupboard is utterly bare of success stories such as these?

As to other ailments, several years ago, Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life wrote that “ASCR has produced treatments for more than 73 medical conditions, including brain cancer, breast cancer, type I diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, spinal cord injury, osteoporosis, and stroke damage.” The number is probably higher now.

Advocate Don Margolis’s web site lists well over 50 categories of diseases and conditions that have been improved and/or cured with adult stem cells.

At some point, the oh-so-cute obfuscation of the press stops being funny. That’s the point where people who could be gaining knowledge they could use to help themselves or their loved ones get desired treatment for chronic diseases and conditions are kept unaware because of consistently irresponsible journalism. I would suggest that we’re really close to being there, i.e., we’re not far from the point where people will be needlessly suffering and perhaps even dying because they are being kept in the dark by an establishment press that is all about ESCR uber alles while continuing to ignore and/or downplay available adult stem cell progress and treatments.

Graphic found at LifeNews.com.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Latest Pajamas Media Column (‘GM-PAC? GOP Should Just Say No — But They Won’t’) Is Up

Filed under: Business Moves,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:22 am

GovernmentMotors0609It’s here.

The sub-headline:

Supposedly conservative politicians can’t possibly defend their acceptance of political contributions from GM’s political action committee.

It will go up here at BizzyBlog on Friday (link won’t work until then) under a slightly different title after the blackout expires.

____________________________

On Saturday, friends and fellow TIB broadcasters Matt, Mark, and I discussed GM’s political contributions and its PAC’s GOP recipients, including Eric Cantor ($2,000); Roy Blunt ($5,000); Dan Coates ($5,000); and Ohio’s own alleged champion of free enterprise and small government, Rob Portman ($5,000).

During the lively conversation (all three people involved were alive, so it WAS lively), I was informed that I’m just about the only person making an issue out of this.

Well, though I would have expected more attention than what I’ve seen to this point, I’m not totally alone.

At the Atlantic, David Indiviglio’s answer to his own question (“Should We Be Outraged That GM Has Resumed Political Giving?”) is “no”:

Such political giving should not be permitted. The U.S. government is majority shareholder of GM. It controls the company. This effectively means GM is providing non-dividend money to select decision makers of its biggest shareholder.

… If nothing else, it would likely have been wise for GM to encourage its employees to give to political campaigns on their own, instead of through the PAC, until the government no longer owns a majority share in the company so avoid the seeming conflict-of-interest.

The riposte, which Indiviglio notes, is that GM’s PAC is a collection of employee contributions and that the money doesn’t actually come from the company itself — an argument that almost never comes up in news coverage of other companies’ PAC contributions. The column addresses that issue, but suffice it to say that it takes a leap of faith to believe that Ron Bloom and the car-czar clan in Washington aren’t involved in directing the GM PAC’s money, or that Uncle Sam’s shadow doesn’t loom large over contribution decisions the PAC makes.

At the Christian Science Monitor, unlikely ally Robert Reich is also opposed:

Last time I looked, you and I and every other U.S. taxpayer owned a majority of GM. That means some of the money we’re earning as GM owners is being used to influence how we vote in the upcoming mid-term election.

To put it another way, we taxpayers are paying some people (GM executives) to tell us how we should vote for another group of people (House and Senate candidates) who will decide how our taxes will be used in the future.

… Since TARP, suspicions about big government in cahoots with big business have fueled angry tea partiers on the right and despairing cynics on the left. GM’s crass disregard for the spirit if not the letter of the law continues to fuel them.

Yours truly had a column about the too-comfortable relationship between Big Gov and Big Biz back in February.

Judicial Watch’s Tom Fitton raises an interesting parallel at the Washington Examiner:

Now it should go without saying that a company that is owned and operated by the government has no business making campaign contributions to members of Congress, no matter how the company tries to spin it. But this is exactly the kind of suspicious, shady and corrupt arrangement we can expect now that the government has decided to meddle so obtrusively into the private sector.

I checked with a spokesman for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), another “private” corporation funded and controlled by the federal government. He told me that CPB does not have a PAC.

… “General Motors, Chrysler and Citigroup are just three of the biggest bailout recipients who have continued to remain politically active, through their political action committees, federal lobbying or direct donations to the pet projects of lawmakers.”

There has also been a bit of a ruckus in some election races:

Those who got contributions tend not to be facing highly competitive races — suggesting these are mostly relationship-maintenance dollars. But some are engaged in competitive races, and for them the money is causing headaches.

Since the government still owns 60 percent of GM, angry challengers to four members — (Ike) Skelton (D-Mo.); Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), a longtime champion of the auto industry; Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.), a conservative Blue Dog; and Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) — are demanding that they return the money to the auto giant’s PAC.

Blog attention has indeed been pretty light. A Google blog search done at 8 a.m. ET on ["General Motors" "political contributions"] came back with about 40 items. Of course, that’s pending a possible PJM Instalanche (noted for Mark’s benefit :–>; Update: Here it is).

Here are some who have weighed in. Most of them don’t specifically note that GM’s PAC directs money collected from employees:

  • Sweetness & Light — “It’s not like GM is one of those evil corporations that Mr. Obama and the Democrats insist should be prevented from contributing to political campaigns. GM is owned by ‘the workers.’”
  • Bungalow Bill’s — “General Motors has no business making political contributions when they can’t account for every dime of tax payer money in repayments to the taxpayers.”
  • The Truth About Cars — “A government owned company (is) using taxpayers’ money to ‘contribute’ to politicians to help them get re-elected, and the main beneficiaries are the people who saved your company with more taxpayer money.”

As they say, developing ….

Positivity: USCCB pro-life chairman issues statement on upcoming Respect Life month

Filed under: Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 6:48 am

From Washington:

Sep 28, 2010 / 03:03 pm

In light of the upcoming Respect Life Month of October, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston issued a statement on what he perceives to be the greatest threats to human dignity in society, calling on Catholics to work towards transforming culture “into one that welcomes every human person.”

Cardinal DiNardo, who serves as chairman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, opened his remarks on Sept. 28 by stating that with “each passing year, the need for personal and public witness grounded in God’s boundless love for each and every human being grows more urgent.”

“With over one million innocent children dying from abortion each year, the plague of abortion remains embedded in our culture. It is encouraging to see the continuing decline nationwide in the number and rate of abortions – due in large part to fewer teens becoming sexually active, and to growing recognition of the humanity of the unborn child.”

“Yet the loss of even one child,” he noted, “and the pain experienced by the child’s mother and father in the aftermath of abortion, should impel us to redouble our efforts to end legal abortion, and to ensure that every pregnant woman has whatever help she needs to turn away from this heartbreaking choice.”

“In many areas of public policy, the rift continues to widen between the moral principles expressed by a majority of Americans and the actions of government,” the cardinal continued.

For example, although “Americans oppose public funding of abortion by wide margins,” he said, in “March of this year, Congress passed a health care reform law that allows for federal funding of abortion in some programs and could pressure millions of Americans to help subsidize other people’s abortions through their health care premiums.”

Go here for the rest of the story.

Dems Practicing Their Chavista Tactics

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 12:23 am

Here in Ohio (more at Riehl World View):

And out west in Oregon (more here):

BizzyBlog flashbacks (November 2008): Remembering –

The “Or what?” answer is what I always thought it was.

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UPDATE: Instapundit — “I blame the Administration’s extremist, eliminationist rhetoric.”

UPDATE 2: An ID in Ohio? (via RightOhio) –

GOPpossibleCoffeeAttacker0910GOPpossibleCoffeeAttackerWithTed