Thursday, March 26, 2009

On Declining to Attend

From Carlos at Casorosendi

Wednesday, March 25, 2009
James Schall

A young friend of mine in Philadelphia’s St. Charles Borromeo Seminary sent me a column by Charles Krauthammer (photo) entitled “Morally Unserious in the Extreme.” Krauthammer there reacts to the President Obama’s signing the document overturning stem-cell research restrictions. Krauthammer knew that these so-called “restrictions” were, when spelled out, actually incentives for scientists to find more reasonable and ethical procedures to accomplish the very same purposes, which in fact they were doing. Most normal people recognize that “research” predicated on infant deaths has something seriously wrong with it, even if they do not know why. But evidently the president either does not or will not see this fact.

Krauthammer is withering in his analysis of the incoherence of the president’s actions and the reasoning that he presents. We are becoming used to a president who says one thing and does another. As the Canadian journalist David Warren has said, “The president declared that he is against human cloning. This was, typically for him, a rhetorical manoeuvre, belied by his deed. For what can a promise to prevent human cloning mean, when his decision opens the door wide to just such eventualities?”

Yet on life and morality issues, the president is consistent in deed. He ever ends up on the death or aberrant side of things. His record, both voting and rhetorical, all along suggested that he would. In this area, he is consistent.

But what was particularly interesting in Krauthammer’s column was the account of his being invited to the White House to witness the signing. He was on the President’s Bioethics Council, so he was familiar with the ins and outs of the issues. Krauthammer notes that George Bush had given a nationally televised speech on the stem-cell issue that was “the most morally serious address on medical ethics ever given by an American president.” Mr. Obama shows little of this moral seriousness.

Krauthammer speculates on the reason why he was invited. Apparently, he (Krauthammer) does not object to using cell lines from “discarded embryos in fertility clinics.” This somewhat questionable moral position led President Obama to assume that Krauthammer might be sympathetic to the signing. If someone of that journalist’s stature were there (Krauthammer also holds a medical degree from Harvard), it would cast an aura of legitimacy over this most dubious presidential decree.

Krauthammer’s dissection of the White House’s calculation is something that particularly drew my interest. As I thought about it, the scene reminded me of something. Of course, it was the famous case in the “Apology of Socrates.” We read it every semester in my class at Georgetown. The local rulers commanded Socrates to cross to the island of Salamis to pick up a certain Leon, an admiral. He was to be returned and executed for failing his duty in a naval battle.

Athenian law required that bodies of the dead (they were not interested in stem cells in those days) were to be returned for proper burial. The episode has a kind of prophetic import. By commanding Socrates and four other gentlemen to go over to pick up Leon, the authorities sought to implicate them in the executions. Socrates’ participation would implicitly make the act seem moral.

Socrates thought the trial that had condemned Leon was illegal. Athenian citizens had to be tried individually, not in a group, as had happened in this case. When the other four came to collect him to go over to grab Leon, Socrates told them to go on. In a famous phrase, he tells us that instead “he went home.”

That is, Socrates would not participate in such an illegal act. He further states that he would have been himself killed for this refusal had the current rulers not fallen from power. So he lived a few years longer, until his next trial, the one we all know about.

Krauthammer, with no reference to Socrates in mind, says of the White House invitation, “I declined to attend.” He gives his reason: “Once you show your face at these things, you become a tacit endorser of whatever they spring.” After seeing what the president signed, he added, “My caution was vindicated.”

Now I am not suggesting that Charles Krauthammer is Socrates. But in declining this presidential invitation, he is a man who stands in a certain tradition. He would prefer to stay home rather than be associated with something as morally dubious as the stem cell action. And, if I might extrapolate, this refusal is what civilization is about.

It is about Socrates’ “It is never right to do wrong.” If you refuse to go along, as Socrates eventually discovered, you pay the consequences. But in paying them, you stand for what is right, what is civilized. That is why in our current situation Charles Krauthammer’s words should be remembered: “I declined to attend.”

Rev. Fr. James Schall, S.J., is a professor at Georgetown University, and one of the most prolific Catholic writers in America. This article was published originally in The Catholic Thing

Thanks Carlos,

Friday, March 20, 2009

Tax on Bonuses

My thoughts are this:

1. If congress can tax these bonuses what makes it impossible for them to tax us at 90%.

2. This is a distraction from the real banditos, Congress and in particular, Chris Dodd,(who took the largest campaign donation to any politician from AIG)who wrote the bill he never read, then lied and said he didn't put the words in about bonuses,
and had to retract that statement. Dodd's Steve Urkel explaination "Did I do that" ain't cutting it.

3. Why don't we ask the congress to tax themselves for their bonus this year, which, like the bailout went into effect at night in the dark, when no one was watching.

4. This shows now that the Congress of the United States can not, will not, honor a contract even if they wrote it.

5. Liddy who is getting only a dollar a year for his work at AIG should resign saying, "I quit, take this job and shove it. You put me in this job, with everything that was in the bill and now those of you who wrote it and voted for it are now in hypocritical indignation at me?"

6. And lastly, being a Duke fan, father-in-law of a Duke graduate, and resident of North Carolina, by not picking Duke in the final four the president once again show his lack of foresight. In his statement Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski said, "The economy is something that he should focus on, probably more than the brackets."

I seem to remember Clinton saying "It's the economy stupid..."

House to vote on 90 percent tax for AIG bonuses...

AP… WASHINGTON – The House is scheduled to vote today on a bill that would levy a 90 percent tax on bonuses paid to employees with family incomes above $250,000 at companies that have received at least $5 billion in government bailout money.

"We figured that the local and state governments would take care of the other 10 percent," said Rep. Charles Rangel of New York, chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee.

Rangel said the bill would apply to mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, among others, while excluding community banks and other smaller companies that have received less bailout money.

House Democratic leaders unveiled the bill as the head of embattled American International Group Inc., which has received $182 billion in bailout money, testified about $165 million in bonuses paid out in the past week to about 400 employees in its Financial Products unit.

Edward Liddy, who was brought in last year by the government to run AIG, told a House subcommittee Wednesday that the company was contractually obligated to pay the bonuses but that some of the recipients have begun returning all or part of them.

Liddy said that on Tuesday, he had "asked those who have received retention payments in excess of $100,000 or more to return at least half of those payments." Some have "already stepped forward and returned 100 percent," he added.

Lawmakers rushed to the microphones after word of the bonuses was leaked out by the government over the weekend. Bills were quickly drawn up in both the House and Senate to impose heavy new taxes on them.

The top two members of the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday announced a bill that would impose a 35 percent excise tax on the companies paying the bonuses and a 35 percent excise tax on the employees receiving them. The taxes would apply to all companies receiving government bailout money, but they are clearly geared toward AIG.

President Barack Obama, who took office just under two months ago, told reporters Wednesday that his administration was not responsible for a lack of federal supervision of AIG that preceded the company's demise.

But Obama added, "The buck stops with me."

Obama said his administration was consulting with Congress on creating a new "resolution authority" to seize giant institutions like AIG — including all their toxic assets — whose collapse in normal bankruptcy could cause calamity in the financial markets.

Republicans have pointed their criticism at Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, questioning how much he know about the bonuses in advance and efforts by the administration to stop them. And they complained anew about being locked out of discussions earlier this year when Democrats decided to jettison a provision in the economic stimulus bill that would have revoked the payments.

"The fact is that the bill the president signed, which protected the AIG bonuses and others, was written behind closed doors by Democratic leaders of the House and Senate. There was no transparency," said Sen. Charles Grassley of Iowa, the senior Republican on the Senate Finance Committee.


Oath of Office for Representatives


The oath of office required by the sixth article of the Constitution of the United States, and as provided by section 2 of the act of May 13, 1884 (23 Stat. 22), to be administered to Members, Resident Commissioner, and Delegates of the House of Representatives, the text of which is carried in 5 U.S.C. 3331:

“I, AB, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

I posted this just in case they forgot.

Dieu le Roy!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

13 firms receiving federal bailout owe back taxes

They aren't worried about it though, they use the same tax company as Turbo Tax Tim Geitner.

AP – United States Attorney General Eric Holder, left, shares a moment with Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., prior … WASHINGTON – At least 13 firms receiving billions of dollars in bailout money owe a total of more than $220 million in unpaid federal taxes, a key lawmaker said Thursday.

Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., chairman of a House subcommittee overseeing the federal bailout, said two firms owe more than $100 million apiece.

"This is shameful. It is a disgrace," said Lewis. "We are going to get to the bottom of what is going on here."

The House Ways and Means subcommittee on oversight discovered the unpaid taxes in a review of tax records from 23 of the firms receiving the most money, Lewis said as he opened a hearing on the issue.

Perhaps if these tax cheats paid their taxes there wouldn't be a need for bailout problems.


Obama Signs Deal for Post-Presidency Book

Damn! He hasn't even been president 6 hot months and he is already making plans to author a fiction book.

Thursday, March 19, 2009 10:18 AM

President Barack Obama already has a job lined up after his presidency: writing another book.

The best-selling author reached a new book deal a few weeks before his inauguration. A financial disclosure report released this week shows Obama amended his agreement with Crown Publishing Group to deliver a new nonfiction book after he leaves office.

Obama also approved an abridged version of his book, "Dreams From My Father," suitable for middle-school or young adult readers. The publisher is giving him a $500,000 advance for that. Obama didn't say how much his deal for the new nonfiction book might be worth.

Obama received nearly $2.5 million in book royalties last year.

The deal was first reported by The Washington Times.


Monday, March 9, 2009

Embryonic stem cell research signed into the legacy of death...

WASHINGTON , Associated Press– President Barack Obama on Monday cleared the way for a significant increase in federal dollars for embryonic stem cell research and promised no scientific data will be "distorted or concealed to serve a political agenda."

Obama signed the executive order on the divisive stem cell issue and a memo addressing what he called scientific integrity before an East Room audience packed with scientists. He laced his remarks with several jabs at the way science was handled by former President George W. Bush.

"Promoting science isn't just about providing resources, it is also about protecting free and open inquiry," Obama said. "It is about letting scientists like those here today do their jobs, free from manipulation or coercion, and listening to what they tell us, even when it's inconvenient especially when it's inconvenient. It is about ensuring that scientific data is never distorted or concealed to serve a political agenda and that we make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology."

He said his memorandum is meant to restore "scientific integrity to government decision-making." He called it the beginning of a process of ensuring his administration bases its decision on sound science; appoints scientific advisers based on their credentials, not their politics; and is honest about the science behind its decisions.

Fulfilling a campaign promise, Obama signed the order that on stem cell research that supporters believe could uncover cures for serious ailments from diabetes to paralysis. Proponents from former first lady Nancy Reagan to the late actor Christopher Reeve had pushed for ending the restrictions on research.

Obama paid tribute to Reeve, calling him a tireless advocate who was dedicated to raising awareness to the promise of research.

Obama's action reverses Bush's stem cell policy by undoing his 2001 directive that banned federal funding for research into stem lines created after Aug. 9, 2001.

The president said his administration would work aggressively to make up for the ground he said was lost due to Bush's decision, though it can't be known how much more federal money will be spent on the research until grants are applied for and issued.

"Medical miracles do not happen simply by accident," Obama declared.

Embryonic stem cells are master cells that can morph into any cell of the body. Scientists hope to harness them so they can create replacement tissues to treat a variety of diseases — such as new insulin-producing cells for diabetics, cells that could help those with Parkinson's disease or maybe even Alzheimer's, or new nerve connections to restore movement after spinal injury.

House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, criticized Obama, saying in a statement that the president had "rolled back important protections for innocent life, further dividing our nation at a time when we need greater unity to tackle the challenges before us."

Bush limited the use of taxpayer money to only the 21 stem cell lines that had been produced before his decision. He argued he was defending human life because days-old embryos — although typically from fertility clinics and already destined for destruction — are destroyed to create the stem cell lines.

The Obama order reverses that without addressing a separate legislative ban, which precludes any federal money for the development of stem cell lines. The legislation, however, does not prevent funds for research on those lines created without federal funding.

Researchers say the newer lines created with private money during the period of the Bush ban are healthier and better suited to creating treatment for diseases.

Obama called his decision a "difficult and delicate balance," an understatement of the intense emotions generated on both sides of the long, contentious debate. He said he came down on the side of the majority of Americans who support increased federal funding for the research, both because strict oversight would prevent problems and because of the great and lifesaving potential it holds.

"Rather than furthering discovery, our government has forced what I believe is a false choice between sound science and moral values," Obama said. "In this case, I believe the two are not inconsistent. As a person of faith, I believe we are called to care for each other and work to ease human suffering."

Obama warned against overstating the eventual benefits of the research, but he said his administration "will vigorously support scientists who pursue this research," taking another slap at Bush in the process.

"I cannot guarantee that we will find the treatments and cures we seek. No president can promise that. But I can promise that we will seek them actively, responsibly, and with the urgency required to make up for lost ground," he said.

It's a matter of competitive advantage globally as well, the president argued.

"When government fails to make these investments, opportunities are missed. Promising avenues go unexplored," Obama said.

But the president was insistent that his order would not open the door to human cloning.

"We will develop strict guidelines, which we will rigorously enforce, because we cannot ever tolerate misuse or abuse," Obama said. "And we will ensure that our government never opens the door to the use of cloning for human reproduction. It is dangerous, profoundly wrong, and has no place in our society, or any society." PHILIP ELLIOTT

Forget about creating jobs. No matter what the anti-christ says, it is just a matter of time before we start cloning body parts. In that way he can take credit for creating life too. Satan always has his parody.

God is the only Creator.

Cross posted from Le Fleur de Lys Too