Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Planned Parenthood had "most difficult year ever" and losing government funding.

Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards told supporters in a Thanksgiving note that this has been “the most difficult year in our history".

Why's it been so difficult?

They're losing public monies and had a string of bad PR setbacks.
In February an historic amendment to defund Planned Parenthood passed overwhelmingly in the U.S. House, but was ultimately defeated in the Democrat-controlled Senate.

Immediately prior to the votes on that amendment, the pro-life organization Live Action had released several devastating undercover videos showing Planned Parenthood employees aiding sex traffickers and covering up the sexual abuse of minors...

According to the SBA List State by State Scoreboard, Planned Parenthood has lost over $61 million from 9 states after they cut tax-based funding to the abortion giant. The states include Florida, Indiana, Kansas, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin.

In the wake of these defunding efforts, numerous Planned Parenthood clinics have been forced to shutter their windows in several states.

Another blow hit Planned Parenthood in September when Congress announced an investigation into the abortion organization over alleged sex-abuse cover-ups and the mishandling of federal funds.

And former Planned Parenthood employees are reviewing the inner workings of the organization.
Topping the cake has been the increasing number of former Planned Parenthood employees who have crossed lines and begun to speak out against the abortion giant. Some of these individuals, such as Abby Johnson, Ramona Trevino, and Sue Thayer have proven to be highly effective spokespersons for the pro-life cause.

Another former Planned Parenthood worker, Catherine Anthony Adair, penned a column that appeared just this week in the Washington Examiner, titled “Planned Parenthood lies about itself.“ Adair writes that during her time spent with the abortion organization, she was not encouraged to focus on prenatal care to pregnant women, or providing counselling, or on providing basic health care services to women.

“Instead, I spent my days urging women to terminate their pregnancies. My superiors constantly reminded me of our abortion-centered business model: abortions first, everything else came second.”

Adair says she knows that many people are “fooled” by Planned Parenthood’s “sound bites and statistical manipulations” that make the organization sound like it is “pro-woman.”

“It is pro-abortion. It does not stand for women. It stands for ending our pregnancies. Women are treated as commodities, not as human beings.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Good news. Abortion clinic in Regions Hospital closes down.

A couple of days ago, Regions Hospital in St. Paul announced it was closing down it's abortion clinic.

The hospital said it is stopping doing abortions for business reasons. Pro-lifers say protests and negative publicity also entered into the decision.

Either way, it's closing is a good sign. Abortions are down in Minnesota and public attitudes are shifting against abortion.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Big player in embryonic stem cell research bails out.

One of the biggest companies currently involved in embryonic stem cell research is getting out.

This was a major surprise and may impact the future of embryonic stem cell research.

story posted on LifesitesNews notes:
Out of nowhere the Geron Corporation announced last week it was not only halting the first clinical trial of embryonic stem cell treatment on humans but getting out of the embryonic stem cell business altogether.

To understand how big a blow to the embryonic stem cell industry this was, you first must know it was Geron that funded the University of Wisconsin Madison’s original research back in 1995, which resulted in the first cultures of embryonic stem cells. It was Geron that started this whole mess.

Geron went on to comprise one-third of the triune that controlled which company or university got access to embryonic stem cell lines, along with the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

In its position of power Geron grabbed the “exclusive commercialization rights” to the three most lucrative areas of embryonic stem cell research if treatments are ever found – spinal cord injury, heart disease, and diabetes.

Geron’s juggernaut culminated last year with the FDA’s first approval of embryonic stem cell treatment on human spinal cord injured patients, “triggering a wave of ebullience from scientists, investors and patient advocates,” according to the California Stem Cell Report.

...In all, Geron invested 15 years and a whopping $150 million into embryonic stem cell research.

Only to abruptly dump it? What a difference a year makes. The value of Geron’s stock in the past year has fallen 70%, and since last week’s announcement it has only sunk lower. It is laying off 38% of its workers.
Why are they getting out?
But I am not alone in sensing something more is afoot. One speculation, according to Science Magazine:

The development of induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, which are adult cells genetically reprogrammed to resemble embryonic ones, means that Geron’s exclusive licenses may be worth less.

Or worthless, hopefully – obsolete. iPS cells are skin cells thought to have the same ability as embryonic stem cells to grow a variety of ways 1) without the controversy; and 2) without the potential for rejection, since iPS cells come from a patient’s own body and not someone else’s, such as cells from embryos.

Another possibility, quoting ABC News:

“This company would not walk away from this trial in the absence of an unexpected complication or safety concern, if there was any evidence that it was working,” said Dr. Daniel Salomon, associate professor in the department of molecular and experimental medicine at the Scripps Research Institute in San Diego.

I spoke with Dr. David Prentice (pictured right) of Family Research Council today. Dr. Prentice is an expert in the field of stem cell research.

Dr. Prentice also speculates something went wrong with the spinal cord trials, which will eventually come to light if true.

“Note the phrase that always shows up,” said Dr. Prentice, “that there are no ‘serious‘ adverse events,” a red flag he thinks.

This is true. Quoting the Associated Press: “So far, the treatment… has been tolerated well without any serious side effects, the company said.”

...Dr. Prentice suspects Geron’s embryonic stem cell department has become a “hot potato” it will now find difficult to dump. The very fact it is halting embryonic stem cell research for economic reasons makes it economically unappealing to buyers.
What impact will this have on embryonic stem cell research in general?
Some say Geron’s decision may have dealt a death knell to embryonic stem cell research altogether, “wonder[ing] whether the field of embryonic stem cell research has been abandoned in the U.S. completely,” according to ABC.

That may be true of investors, but there’s always government funding,
i.e., money belonging to you and I.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Pope, AIDS, and Sex Education

Pope Benedict released a lengthy statement to African Catholics addressing a wide range of topics. From husbands and wives to children and the elderly. Ecology. Migration. Globalization. Church practices and so forth. Out of 170 plus paragraphs, addressing different issues, the media of course zeroed in on his discussion of AIDS and the need for morally responsible behavior, e.g. abstinence and fidelity. Of course, this a huge issue in Africa and certainly is an appropriate topic to address.

Here's what he said on the topic:
72. Serious threats loom over human life in Africa. Here, as elsewhere, one can only deplore the ravages of drug and alcohol abuse which destroy the continent’s human potential and afflict young people in particular.[113] Malaria,[114] as well as tuberculosis and AIDS, decimate the African peoples and gravely compromise their socio-economic life. The problem of AIDS, in particular, clearly calls for a medical and pharmaceutical response. This is not enough, however: the problem goes deeper. Above all, it is an ethical problem. The change of behaviour that it requires – for example, sexual abstinence, rejection of sexual promiscuity, fidelity within marriage – ultimately involves the question of integral development, which demands a global approach and a global response from the Church. For if it is to be effective, the prevention of AIDS must be based on a sex education that is itself grounded in an anthropology anchored in the natural law and enlightened by the word of God and the Church’s teaching.
He says the problem "clearly calls for a medical and pharmaceutical response. This is not enough, however: the problem goes deeper. Above all, it is an ethical problem." He's absolutely correct. Most, all of our social problems are ethical at their core.

And practically, to prevent AIDS what's needed is "sex education that is itself grounded in anthropology anchored in the natural law and enlightened by the word of God and the Church's teaching." While the Pope is talking in the context of Catholic sex education and the Church, those teaching sex education in our public schools could learn something from his comments. They could appropriate and look at sexuality and sex "grounded in an anthropology anchored in the natural law." Show there's a meaning and purpose to sex. It's not a leisure sport where we can make up the rules as we go along.

Pope Benedict is to be highly commended for bringing to the fore, once again, the ethical dimension of society's problems.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The grisly face of the abortion industry.

The attorney general of Michigan shut down two abortion clinics following an investigation which arose after the remains of 17 aborted babies were found in a dumpster in early 2010.

The investigation found that the abortion clinics were run by unlicensed medical professionals.

This link to the story shows a picture of the remains of the aborted babies. It's another reminder of what abortion is all about.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Some legislators say it's "obvious" we should fund a new stadium with new gambling monies. I don't think so.

There was an opinion piece in the Star Tribune signed by a handful of state legislators who support expanding gambling by building new casinos at the horse tracks.

The title for the piece is: "It's obvious: Fund stadium with racinos"

I don't think it's so obvious when you look a bit closer at what they're proposing.

For one it's definitely a tax increase contrary to their assertion it isn't. The revenues that will be coming to the state from new taxes.

Second, much of the money raised will be coming out of main street. Some might come from the existing casinos but certainly large amounts will be coming from more and new gambling. (If you question this, ask yourself why Burger King, Wendy's and McDonald's build restaurants right next to each other. It's so they can attract more people. The same is true with car dealerships. It's a not a zero sum game.)

Third, it will increase the social problems and pathologies which accompany the tens of thousands of Minnesotans will gambling problems. The answer isn't, "Well, let the problem gamblers get help"; help after they've already lost their life savings, stolen money to feed their habit, lost their families, or so forth. The problems of gambling addiction affect us all. Studies show the cost significantly outweigh the benefits.

Does Minnesota want to become the Las Vegas of the Midwest? I don't think so.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Stunning indictment of Obama's $800 billion stimulus -- hurts growth of economy and piles up more debt.

Here's the head of the Congressional Budget Office Doug Elmendorf testifying before the US Senate regarding the economic effects of the economic stimulus package triumpeted by President Obama and passed on Congress a few years ago. Elmendorf said that the net effect of the $800 billion stimulus package in ten years will be negative. In other words, if Congress had done nothing the economy would be in a better place in the long run.

The effects are even worse because of the interest we'll be paying on the increasedl debt for years to come.

The reason for the stimulus was a quick boost to the economy which certainly hasn't been much of a boost. It really typlifies the problem with our Washington DC political culture. A short term mindset ignoring the long range impact of their actions. Plus irresponsible use of other people's money.

Ultimately, these are deeply moral problems. Our political culture, which also reflects back on the general culture, is acting without restraint and responsibility. This can't and won't go on forever. Just as we can't defy the law of gravity, we can't deny the laws of economics and finance. As the old muffler commercial said, "You can pay now or you can pay later." We're opting for the second alternative which will only make things more painful.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Corporate welfare. Tax breaks for some corporations and not for others.

It's stunning that GE didn't pay a dollar of federal taxes on profits of over $14 billion.

According to a
Weekly Standard story:
General Electric, one of the largest corporations in America, filed a whopping 57,000-page federal tax return earlier this year but didn't pay taxes on $14 billion in profits. The return, which was filed electronically, would have been 19 feet high if printed out and stacked.
Congressman Paul Ryan says this points out the need for tax reform. Close loopholes and lower the tax rates for all businesses rather than picking winners and losers.
"GE was able to utilize all of these various loopholes, all of these various deductions--it's legal," Ryan said. Nine billion dollars of GE's profits came overseas, outside the jurisdiction of U.S. tax law. GE wasn't taxed on $5 billion in U.S. profits because it utilized numerous deductions and tax credits, including tax breaks for investments in low-income housing, green energy, research and development, as well as depreciation of property.

...Ryan used the data point to underscore the irrationality of the corporate income tax code. He also contrasted GE with UPS to make the point that the corporate income tax code doesn't make sense. "UPS paid a 34 percent effective tax rate," while its biggest foreign competitor, DHL, paid a 24 percent tax rate, Ryan said.

This highlights the lobbying power of some to benefit themselves by ingratiating themselves to those in power whether Republican or Democrat.
The problems with the corporate taxes occur because "Republicans and Democrats, both parties, sit in Congress and they're picking winners and losers," Ryan said. The solution, according to the Wisconsin congressman: "Get rid of those loopholes and lower tax rates by a corresponding amount. Don't lose revenue, but for every loophole you pull out, and deny a company from being able to get this little carveout, you can lower the rates so we can be more competitive with our competitors overseas. We want to stem the bleeding of jobs going overseas, of foreign companies buying U.S. companies and taking headquarters overseas."
In this instance, GE benefitted from some policies liked by those on the liberal side of the aisle -- low income housing and green energy.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Unionization of child care. Follow the money.

Governor Dayton issued an order for a vote of child care providers on whether they want to unionize. State Senators say the action is clearly illegal because state law gives the governor no such authority.

The state's largest unions have been pushing for this for some time, because it will expand their power and financial resources.
Two of the state's largest unions, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees and Service Employees International Union, have spent years attempting to unionize child care workers and now will launch a full-blown persuasion campaign that could be met by legal action from opponents.

Dayton's executive order stops well short of the mandated unionization that some governors have ordered and which unions here sought. Nevertheless, it touched off strong reactions among Senate Republicans.
Beyond being an effort to further politicize the raising of young children, it's arguably a violation of state law.
"There is nothing in Minnesota law that provides the governor with the power to do the things he says he is going to do," said Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prairie.

"The real question for us is: What do you do with a governor who won't follow the law? ... We are going to do everything in our power to make sure he is not able to proceed. We think it's against the law."

Dayton said that even if child care workers vote to unionize, those who don't wish to belong will be able to opt out. Union membership would be voluntary, he said, and no one would be forced to pay dues.
What's interesting in the story is Dayton says a yes vote only allows the unions to "meet and confer" with state officials and "would not usurp the legislature's power". Why do they want the power to just meet? I'm told it will mean lots of money added to their coffers.
But Dayton and administration officials say a yes vote would simply give AFSCME nd SEIU the right to represent those workers in meetings with state agencies. The unions would be allowed only to "meet and confer" with state officials and would usurp the Legislature's power of the purse, they said.
Who would vote? Those receiving government monies. Another example of government strings attached to receiving tax dollars.
Of the state's 11,000 licensed child care workers, only 4,300 are registered to accept children whose families receive child care subsidies. That means the election will be open to fewer than half the child care workers in the state.

Dayton said his executive order will not affect any child care providers that do not take state subsidies because "they are operating their own businesses outside the realm of government."

Monday, November 14, 2011

"60 Minutes" on predatory gambling aka video gambling

Here's the "60 Minutes" story on predatory gambling. It's a very revealing story on the nature of the video gambling and how politicans see it as easy money for more government spending. This is a story all policy makers should watch before embracing more predatory gambling as the solution to their budget shortfalls.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Gambling winnings isn't about luck but mathematics

Here's a discussion about the addictive qualities of video gambling and how the brain works. The video gambling industry takes advantage of this. They arrange the games so there's a greater likelihood people will keep playing. Of course, this is devastating for people with gambling problems. Again taken from a "60 Minutes" follow up story on predatory gambling which is what video gambling is.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

States become addicted to gambling just like individuals.

Here's an interview with an individual who knows people who are personally addicted to gambling and analogies it to states which become addicted to gambling dollars for revenue purposes.

This is an important message which Minnesota legislators need to hear when contemplating expanding gambling to pay for a new Vikings football stadium.

It's an excerpt from a broader story on gambling aired on "60 Minutes" this past January.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Church attendance and political ideology among Republicans and Democrats

Gallup polling gives insights into the religious and ideological make up of the Republican and Democrat parties. Democrats are less likely to go to church than Republicans and more liberal.

polling found that 52% of Democrats seldom or never go to church. 27% weekly and 20% said nearly every week or monthly. That compares to 38% of Republicans who never go to church, 40% who go weekly and 21% go weekly or monthly.

46 percent of Americans say they seldom or never went to church, while 20 percent said they went to church nearly weekly or monthly, and 33 percent said they went weekly.

On political philosophy, among all Americans, 42% identify themselves as conservative and only 21% liberal, which is a two to one difference. Since 2008, conservatives gained 2 percentage points while liberals lost one point.

The parties are not surprisingly also split on political ideology. Among Democrats, 20% say they're conservative, 42% moderate and 37% liberal. Among Republicans 68% say they're conservative, 26% moderate and 6% liberal.

The thing that surprises me is liberals aren't the largest segment among Democrats. It's those who identify themselves as moderate. And not so suprising is there's movement to the right nationally

Monday, November 7, 2011

Funding stadium with predatory gambling donors is fantasy football Bernie Madoff style.

The push to fund a new stadium with new predatory gambling donors is on. Ideas bandied about are a block E casino in downtown Minneapolis, racinos at the horse tracks and expansion of electronic pulltabs in bars and restaurants. I think the assumptions underlying use of gambling is it's the easiest way to raise taxes. Least pain for legislators.

Problem is it will cause the most pain to society. Predatory gambling, and by that I mean electronic forms of gambling, is dependent on creating on more gambling addiction and encouraging more people to go into debt. So in fact, it's the tax increase which will maximize pain for individuals with gambling addictions and increase the enormous social costs to society.

Think of it from a product liability perspective. If we new a product in the store was making making 50 or even 100 people very sick we'd immediately pull that item from the selves. Well, here we have a product, predatory gambling which is significantly harmful to thousands of people, tens of thousands of people. And what do we do? We don't pull it from the shelf instead we encourage more poeple to use it. Kind of puts things in perspective.

Here's a release we sent out on the issue.

“Funding Viking Stadium with predatory gambling dollars is fantasy football, Bernie Madoff style”

Group says expanding predatory gambling will drive Minnesota families deeper into debt and create thousands of new gambling addicts.

Minneapolis – Tom Prichard, President of the Minnesota Family Council (MFC), today said proposals to fund a new Vikings’ stadium with predatory gambling monies would be a disaster for the state.

“The governor’s suggestion that we fund a new Vikings’ stadium with predatory gambling dollars is fantasy football, Bernie Madoff style,” said Prichard. “It will only drive more Minnesota families deeper into debt, and create thousands of new gambling addicts.”

Governor Dayton has rejected use of a sales tax increase in Ramsey County as the means of funding a new stadium and instead is suggesting that expanding video or electronic gambling might be the best way to go.

“Predatory gambling is a failed business product. It’s built on personal debt and addiction. For the state to pay for a new Viking’s stadium with predatory gambling dollars means the state will be preying on the citizens it’s supposed to be protecting,” added Prichard.

The eminicity of the gambling addiction problem is shown by a study out of our neighbor Wisconsin. A
2011 report found that average gambling debt of the over 14,000 people who called a Wisconsin problem gambling help line was nearly $44,000. It’s estimated that 338,000 people, nearly 7% of Wisconsin’s population are problem or compulsive gamblers.

“Expanding predatory, electronic gambling, the most addictive form of gambling, would be a social disaster for Minnesota,” concluded Prichard.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Minnesota congressional delegation lines up as expected on pro-family issues.

The Family Research Council's scorecard on legislative votes lined up as expected on Congressional votes so far in 2011. They considered 10 votes in the House and 7 votes in the Senate.

Senators' Franken and Klobuchar received zeroes. Representative Walz scored a zero in the House. Colin Peterson scored a 60%. Reps Kline and Paulsen scored 90% and Bachmann 100%. Ellison and McCollum received 10%. The vote Ellison and McCollum scored correctly according to FRC was a continuing resolution that included funding for DC abortions and planned parenthood.