- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 14, 2009



Naples (Fla.) Daily News, on President Obama’s approach on stem-cell research:

President Barack Obama has signed an executive order overturning a signature initiative of the Bush administration - an 8-year-old ban on federal funding for research on embryonic-stem-cell lines created after Aug. 9, 2001. …

The weight of opinion among medical researchers is that research based on stem cells - which can develop into any kind of tissue or cell in the body, replacing nerves and organs damaged by disease or injury - is their most promising avenue of inquiry.

President George W. Bush had attempted a compromise in an acrimonious debate over the federal role in stem-cell research. Congress had earlier banned any use of federal funds to create embryos for research; the researchers typically get the days-old embryos from private fertility clinics where the excess embryos were destined to be destroyed. …

With Obama’s order, the government can fund stem-cell research as long as the money isn’t used to create embryos.

Over the past eight years, the research moved into private labs or overseas, where some laboratories made wildly overstated claims of their progress. In a sense, the stem-cell debate is a stalking horse for a much more serious issue – human cloning. Obama called such cloning “dangerous, profoundly wrong” with “no place in our society, or any society.”

Federal funding and federal oversight make it much less likely that a renegade researcher would try.

On the Net:


Herald-Palladium, St. Joseph, Mich., on physician reviews online: Many doctors are not amused by what they are reading on several online sites in which patients post reviews of the care they have received. In many cases doctors have been targets of unflattering comments.

In response, some physicians are asking patients to sign waivers before doctors will agree to offer their services. …

It’s a nice try, but we hardly think the waiver system will really make a dent in heading off this trend. …

Besides, we are not convinced doctors have any right to effectively place a gag order on patients from speaking out. Isn’t it beneficial for other patients to be able to read such reviews? Don’t patients have a right to offer opinions for mass consumption regarding the treatment they’ve received? It’s an interesting question, and one that perhaps the courts will one day sort out.

That said, we can understand the frustration doctors feel, especially if they are unfairly targeted by vindictive patients. One of the unsettling realities of the Internet is that reputations often are trashed anonymously. …

This is the reality of the modern wired world. Doctors, as much as anyone else, are going to have to get used to it.

On the Net:


Chicago Sun-Times, on Rush Limbaugh and the Republican Party: Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele had the audacity the other day to say something less than sterling about Rush Limbaugh:

In what apparently passes for tough criticism of Limbaugh these days, Steele mentioned the obvious: Limbaugh is “an entertainer” whose show can be “incendiary” and “ugly.” …

Limbaugh claims he has no desire to lead the Republican Party. But he has stepped into a vacuum in the party, and as a radio demagogue whose rants can trigger thousand of phone calls to offending politicians from angry fans, he brooks no disagreement.

Neither the Republican Party nor political discourse in this country is the better for it.

As the minority party in Congress, Republicans can and must play an important role in governing America, challenging Obama’s policies and promoting conservative alternatives. …

But Limbaugh isn’t really into complex ideas. He isn’t into listening to people who disagree with him. …

Rush can be a funny guy - sort of like ol’ Uncle Charlie can be funny after he has one too many at the family holiday party and gets all outrageous. The problem is Uncle Charlie is funny for about 10 minutes, then his shtick gets awful old, awful fast.

If you’re a Republican, would you really want your drunken Uncle Charlie as the loud, ranting voice of your party?

On the Net:


The (Nashville) Tennessean, on nationalizing America’s banks: The debate is raging over the approach to struggling American banks, in part because of a much-misused word: nationalization.

Some Republican leaders say that is what the Obama administration is trying to do: a complete government takeover of banks. Obama’s treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, his White House spokesman and others deny it, insisting that they know government officials make bad bankers. …

The biggest mistake would be to let such labeling get in the way of trying to do something about the situation banks are in. A look at the major banks’ balance sheets, even after billions of taxpayer dollars have been handed to them from the Troubled Assets Relief Fund or other programs, should make us consider a variety of options as the nation tries to dig out of a deep recession. …

Rather than paint any federal intervention as “nationalization,” the best course may be to let the administration offer constructive support to keep good banks in business, while the justice system roots out those individuals who are found to have manipulated the system for personal gain.

On the Net:


The Daily Independent, Ashland, Ky., on signing the stimulus bill: President Obama campaigned against earmarks and even boasted that the $787 billion stimulus bill approved by Congress did not include a single earmark. (Not true, some critics say.)

However, in the next few days, President Obama will be asked to sign a $410 billion spending bill that contains a whopping 8,570 earmarks totaling $7.7 billion.

What better way can the new president show just how serious he is about not allowing members of Congress to fund pork barrel projects than to veto this spending bill? However, in this case, a veto may have more serious consequences than the benchmarks.

Many of the benchmarks are of questionable merit: Cricket control in Utah, rodent control in Hawaii, trade centers in Montana and Myrtle Beach, S.C., the list is endless. Even if some of the projects have merit (and we’re sure they do), they avoid normal legislative scrutiny by never being approved or debated by any congressional committee.

The $410 billion spending measure is an omnibus bill, containing all the work Congress failed to do in the waning days of the Bush administration. The bill will fund government operations for fiscal year 2009, which is almost half over. A veto would mean Congress would have to redo work it has already taken lawmakers this long to complete. So, while President Obama will be violating a campaign pledge by signing this bill, he deserves a pass this time. …

On the Net:

https://www.dailyindependent.com/editorials/local–story–064152149.htm l

The Times, London, on talking to the Taliban: On the campaign trail Barack Obama repeatedly said that Afghanistan was a top foreign policy priority. He called for more U.S. troops to be sent there, but also insisted that the present strategy would need to be reassessed comprehensively. In office, he has already begun that reassessment. In an interview … he declared that the United States was not winning the war and suggested there were opportunities to reach out to moderates in the Taliban.

President Obama appeared to be confirming what a growing number of American and British commanders have been saying for months: that a straight military victory is now beyond reach. With General Petraeus commanding the overall strategy, Washington is looking to see whether the tactics he used in Iraq to such effect can be replicated in Afghanistan. A surge in troop numbers, adding 17,000 U.S. soldiers to bolster the record 38,000 already there, is the prelude to splitting moderate Taliban sympathizers from the hard-core leadership that is aligned with al-Qaeda. The aim is to offer military protection against intimidation to villages weary of the fighting while encouraging a political settlement with the Karzai Government. This would break the Taliban’s growing hold over the south, isolate the Islamist extremists and allow the NATO force to concentrate on its original mission, protecting the rebuilding of Afghanistan’s infrastructure. …

On the Net:


San Antonio (Texas) Express-News, on progress in Iraq: No issue was more important to the candidacy of Barack Obama than the war in Iraq. …

And his pledge to remove combat troops from Iraq within 16 months of taking office resonated strongly with the American people.

Making decisions as commander in chief is far different from making promises on the campaign trail. …

Which is why President Obama shouldn’t be concerned about the criticism he is catching from some anti-war activists about the fine print in his recently announced Iraq policy.

That policy, created in consultation with military leaders, will largely remove combat troops over 19 months, not 16 months. …

A 50,000-man residual force will remain in Iraq beyond Aug. 31, 2010, far larger than opponents had expected. …

A decent end to the American intervention in Iraq is now within sight. It would be a foolish and costly mistake to allow the rhetoric of a candidate to hamper a president and jeopardize a positive outcome.

On the Net:


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