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This will be a long post to wade through, but the issue warrants the length. Our feckless leadership in the war against Ebola can best be understood through history, and a different kind of president.

In the early days of the US Civil War, President Lincoln needed to raise an army, and fast. He could look out of his window and see General Robert E. Lee’s house atop a hill just across the Potomac River in Arlington, VA. To his north, Maryland also wished to secede, and was kept from doing so by force. The nation’s capital was surrounded by forces determined to destroy the union. An army was needed to defend the capital and then preserve the union. Enter, General McClellan.

General McClellan was a dashing figure, filled with bravado, and a damned fine West Point graduate and engineer. He built and outfitted the Grand Army of the Potomac in record time. He wooed the ladies at the homes of the leadership with his assurances of how quickly he would dispatch the rebels and restore the union. But little Mac wouldn’t go out to fight. At the sound, or even the thought of a canon’s roar, he persuaded himself that Lee had him outnumbered at least three to one. The little general’s biggest battles were with Lincoln and the War Department, constantly calling for ever-greater numbers of troops and supplies.

At wits end with a feckless general, Lincoln relieved McClellan with these words:

My dear McClellan: If you don’t want to use the army, I would like to borrow it for a while. Yours respectfully, A. Lincoln.

And so it is today that we have at the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) a feckless bureaucrat in Dr. Tom Friedan. He may well have been a good peacetime administrator, a good little builder as McClellan was, but in the war on Ebola he simply won’t come out to fight. In some respects, he is worse than McClellan. Little Mac was loved by his troops because he had their best interests at heart. He was concerned about casualties in the ranks of those who did the actual fighting, who bore the horrors of war. When McClellan played the blame game, he went after his superiors.

This week a nurse who cared for Eric Duncan in Dallas was herself diagnosed with this dread disease, whose mortality rate has risen to 70%. Reflexively, Dr. Frieden blamed the nurse for “Breach of protocol.” This, despite the fact that CDC’s protocols are so shamefully inadequate as to be be of little value at all. If for no other reason than throwing this nurse under the bus, Dr. Frieden has forever branded himself a coward and compromised his ability to lead others in battle. But there is so much more to Frieden’s appalling ineptitude.

When voices have called for a travel ban on all people coming from the endemic regions in Africa, Frieden scoffed at the idea. He claims that restricting air travel would actually make matters worse by not allowing aid into the country. When repeatedly challenged on that assertion with the counter of having chartered flights for relief supplies and personnel, Frieden just dismisses the idea with the back of his hand. Watch the video interview below before reading on:

To be clear, we need to contrast the levels of protection promoted by Frieden here with what third world doctors are doing in the endemic regions. Consider this typical level of suiting up in Africa:

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Note the use of a buddy system where the outer layers are first sprayed with bleach in order to destroy any virus that may be contaminating the surface. Note how there are layers of protective gear, and that no part of the body is exposed. Now watch the video produced by CNN medical correspondent Dr. Gupta as he demonstrates the frightening inadequacy of a protocol approved by Dr. Frieden.

The juxtaposition of these two levels of protection cannot be overstated, as CNN notes the casualty count among health care workers in Africa who are using the greater level of protection:

There are so many caregivers who’ve become patients. At least 416 health care workers have contracted Ebola, and at least 233 have died, the World Health Organization reports. In Liberia, the worst-affected country, the virus has killed more than 100 medical workers.

And we see that the CDC level of “protection” has gained us two infected nurses from one patient, and who knows how many more cases incubating. At a ratio of two infected healthcare workers per patient, it would be only a matter of months before we lost most of our physicians and nurses in a major outbreak.

And Frieden had the temerity to blame the nurse.

Then there are Frieden’s claims that one cannot contract ebola from sitting next to an infected individual on a bus. This while the airplane traveled on by the second nurse to contract the virus from Duncan (and cleared by CDC to travel with a fever!) is about to undergo its FOURTH cleaning! Yet CDC maintains the fiction that ebola can only be transmitted by direct contact with infected bodily fluids, while not acknowledging that surfaces contaminated by those fluids can maintain viable virus for hours to days, depending on temperature and humidity.

It goes without saying that to the extent Ebola is contained in the cloud of nasal spray in people sneezing on that bus (or anywhere), the virus is indeed airborne in that vicinity, and contaminates whatever surface the droplets land on.

Sneeze

Meanwhile, teams have been dispatched to clean and decontaminate the apartments of Duncan and nurse Pham. An airliner has been quarantined, and the passengers who flew on the next five flights in that plane have been added to a watch list that has risen to hundreds.

All from the index case of Eric Duncan, who lied to get here.

That historical fact must not be allowed to become historical footnote, as self-reporting at airports is the furthest Dr. Frieden is willing to go in order to reduce the viral load entering the United States. Of course any exposed Liberian or other African who desperately seeks entry to the US for treatment will be entirely honest about their exposure status and voluntarily elect to stay home to die.

Just ask Duncan.

Patients can take high doses of tylenol and motrin to knock down a fever, and even if they are asymptomatic, a 21 day incubation means that potentially thousands of infected individuals will come here and spread the disease.

Frieden’s repeated assertion that keeping ebola cases in Africa will not stop the spread (you read that right), while allowing for travel will not increase our risk here (you read that right as well) shows that he is not the doctor for this job. Consider him in his own words:

“The only way we’re going to get to zero risk is by stopping the outbreak at the source… Even if we tried to close the border, it wouldn’t work. People have a right to return. People transiting through could come in. And it would backfire, because by isolating these countries, it’ll make it harder to help them, it will spread more there and we’d be more likely to be exposed here.

So, paying no heed to increasing the viral load here (through unrestricted migration) is the best way to end the problem there.

Not exactly.

And then there is the threat posed by our very porous southern border… A topic for another day.

This nation is witnessing the unpreparedness we have for treating and containing ebola cases here. Our hospitals have been doing a miserable job at containing nosocomial (hospital acquired) infections in general, and antibiotic resistant pathogens in particular. In one study, it was estimated that the 2002 incidence of nosocomial infections was 1.7 million in US hospitals. In the medical literature, physicians and nurses are repeatedly identified as being weak when it comes to hand washing between patients.

When the fundamentals are not habitual, it strains credulity to hear the CDC director repeatedly claim that any US hospital is fully qualified to handle ebola patients. In Texas, the amount of medical waste from Duncan alone piled up with uncertainty and confusion about proper protocol for disposal. Not all hospitals have large autoclaves for the sterilization of the bulk waste generated from the care of even one patient.

It is a sad and scary spectacle to see the CDC Director being taken to task by journalists with a firmer grasp of the threat and how to minimize it than the nation’s top administrator in charge of infectious disease prevention. It is bewildering to consider why the Acting Surgeon General has not weighed in as the chief public health officer of the nation.

In fact, the only medical society to weigh in with the truth has been the Nurses union in Dallas, decrying the lack of protection, protocol, and training. Leave it to the nurses. They’re usually the ones to get the ball rolling on patient advocacy, and this loops us back to General McClellan and the need for us to get rid of the McClellans among us.

We don’t really need a mediagenic CDC Director. We need a fighter. We need someone who may have bumps and warts in their background, but can recognize and speak truth as a matter of habit, who can invite in the nurses union from Dallas and work collegially and rapidly to get a handle on this mess.

Lincoln would go through several incompetent commanders before he found Grant, who was the opposite of pretty boy McClellan. He was rough, and unkempt, a drinker, but he fought tenaciously. When one of McClellan’s sympathizers sniffed that Grant imbibed too much whiskey, Lincoln’s classic response was to find out what whiskey it was so that he might send a barrel to all of his commanders.

Lincoln was a wise man, and was willing to overlook the personal foibles of the commander, so long as the results were favorable in the fight for the life of the nation. It’s time for this nation and this president to get serious and follow that admirable example.

The events of the past three weeks have confirmed for us that we cannot get caught up in dithering over the rights of people to enter this nation while potentially harboring ebola. We need the following immediately:

A ban on all immigration from anyone who has been in the endemic regions for the last three months.

The immediate deployment (to the endemic regions) of 20,000 US troops to build enough ebola treatment and quarantine centers to accommodate by the end of November the case load projected for the end of December (Get ahead before it’s too late to catch up).

A series of quarantine stations offshore for a thirty day stay before American troops and aid workers can be physically repatriated here at home.

Three state of the art isolation and treatment centers here in the US designed and modified to handle treating ebola patients, incinerating waste, and decontamination suites and facilities that are second to none.

A cooperative arrangement between the Gates Foundation and other foundations willing to fund such facilities.

Extensive training in ebola protocols for Emergency Department workers at American hospitals, and the training of three crack treatment teams of physicians and nurses at the proposed specialized treatment centers.

Protocols for the rapid transfer of ebola cases from around the nation to the specialized treatment centers.

Quarantine stations here at home for those who have been potentially exposed to the virus.

Unfortunately for Dr. Frieden, he has thrown his credibility away. We need a new CDC Director, a real physician or scientist and not a bloodless bureaucrat, who can lead the way. We also need a president and congressional leaders who are willing to put aside politics for the sake of the life of this nation.

Without overstating the case, in light of WHO’s assertion that we have until December 1st in Africa before this spirals entirely out of control with 10,000 new cases per week, we may be looking at our last chance to get this right.

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He was a pro-life champion.

He was a great supporter of EWTN and Mother Angelica.

He was a huge booster for Franciscan University.

He was a tireless therapist/spiritual director/advocate for priests in trouble.

He was a lighthouse for fidelity and truth in the faith during the tumultuous 60′s and 70′s.

He was co-founder of Good Counsel Homes.

He was an early and active participant in the Charismatic Renewal.

He was a celebrated author with dozens and dozens of books, tapes, and DVD’s.

He was a co-founder of a reform religious community.

He was a Columbia University educated psychologist.

He was a seminary professor for over 40 years.

He was a spiritual director and sage who was very good to women’s communities.

He was an advisor to bishops from all over the world.

He was an international lecturer.

He was a retreat master without equal.

He walked with Saints John Paul II and Theresa of Calcutta.

He was a television host who boosted countless ministries on his show.

But for all of that, if he could have chosen to be remembered for anything, if any group could lay claim to this man of such broad appeal, he would want to be remembered for this above all things…

He was a good friend to and mighty advocate for the poor and the least among us.

He was a true son of Francis, a true son of the Church.

Father Benedict Groeschel was my professor when I was in the seminary in the late 1980′s. He taught us ascetical theology and gave us spiritual direction on retreat. His classes were in themselves mini-retreats, whose content I have spent a lifetime unpacking. When I left the seminary and told him that I was pursuing biomedical research, and that Columbia University’s post-baccalaureate pre-medical studies was my first step toward the Ph.D. he was delighted that I would be attending his alma mater. I continued to see him every now and then when I hit bumps in the road in the spiritual life. Several years later, when I finished the Ph.D., I drove up to Trinity Retreat House to have lunch with Fr. Benedict and talk about the uncertainties ahead, as well as our son Joseph’s newly diagnosed autism and my deep, deep fears around that whole issue. I was a burnt out mess.

Fr. Benedict came across the room to me with outstretched arms and congratulated me. He then shared that when he finished his doctorate he breathed a sigh of relief because he never had to write another paper again. When he said this I pulled back with an incredulous look, to which he inquired why. I said, “You’re kidding, right?” And he said, “No, why?” I responded that he went on to author 5,000 books! Fr. Benedict just smiled with the knowing twinkle in his eyes. We went in to lunch, and then I spent two hours pouring out my fears for Joseph, my doubts about my capabilities, and how utterly alone I felt, sensing the absence of God.

My old mentor took me through whence I had come spiritually, and then led me through the Dark Night of the Soul. When I was leaving, we exited his room, which opened into his secretary’s office. Fr. Benedict has shelves filled with the books he authored. It was the stock room, in a sense, for the books people purchased online and via mail order. He grabbed a copy of Stumbling Blocks and Stepping Stones, as well as Spiritual Passages and handed them to me. When I said, “Thanks, but I have them at home,” he said in reply, “Take two more!”

He was truly one of a kind. A session with Fr. Benedict could range from side-splitting laughter to dealing with being on the edge of the abyss. Whenever I saw him, he always asked for Regina, and then each of the children by name. He was gracious, and holy. His brilliance and incisiveness could easily be overpowering, had he not tempered them with his quick wit and self-deprecating humor.

When I began doing pro-life work in earnest, Fr. Benedict was there with wisdom beyond description. He mapped out all of the spiritual pitfalls I faced, and helped me avoid them all.

I could tell a number of other stories about Fr. Benedict, and what he did for elderly priests who needed the guidance and support to take them the rest of the way home, of how he was never too busy, never said no. But we’ll let those stories rest with all of those good men who found their way with Fr. Benedict’s guidance.

What will endure, more than anything, was the one great constant in all of our conversations: Fr. Benedict’s love for the poor and the least, his admonition to me that I never forget them and their needs, that they are the living face of Jesus.

A priest who met popes, walked with saints, advised the bishops and cardinals of the Church, and yet craved time with the lowliest in society, because that’s where he felt closest to his God.

I should feel some sorrow at his passing from us, but I can’t. Though I’ll miss him, I’m overjoyed that he now sees face-to-face the God he could only see tangentially as he walked among us.

Yes, I believe that Fr. Benedict went to Purgatory (as he insisted he would), but only to collect a few souls along the way home.

Thank you, Fr. Benedict Joseph, and please pray for us.

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EPierrot-BenY

Wrongful Birth.

It is a legal term rooted in deep narcissism and dressed in the clothing of contract law. Translated, it means some parent didn’t get what they hoped for, or paid for when their child was born. Somebody screwed up and the wrong product was delivered. It’s a form of business and/or medical malpractice.

Wrongful Birth.

The very words reveal the ugly side of human nature, the neurotic side of the human psyche where human fear meets with human failure, and growth becomes a forced issue, and someone has to pay a price for it.

Consider the white lesbian couple in Ohio who ordered sperm from a sperm bank, expecting sperm from a donor with a certain genetic (Caucasian) and personal profile. What they were sent was sperm from a black man, and what resulted was a mixed race baby. Read the story here.

It’s a truly tragic story, and heartbreaking that a child should be born into such poverty of spirit, especially to a lesbian mother who should have learned a thing or two about oppression and survival. Consider the following quotes from the story in Mail Online.

Jennifer Cramblett, 36, claims the mistake has caused her stress and anguish because her family is racist and she lives in a small, all-white Uniontown in northeast Ohio…

Ms Cramblett [sic] she has ‘limited cultural competency relative to African-Americans’ and worries that her daughter Payton will not be accepted in her hometown of Uniontown.

‘Jennifer lives each day with fears, anxieties and uncertainty about her future and Payton’s future,’ according to the lawsuit.

Is it understandable that a woman coming from a family she labels “racist” would also claim to have “limited cultural competency” to raise a mixed race child?

No, it isn’t.

In labeling her family as racist, Ms. Cramblett identifies herself as somehow above it all. That is the necessary precondition for self-education in gaining cultural competence in the raising of her mixed race child. But that, too, begs the question. Why does this child need to be singled out as something other? How, exactly, should she be raised compared to potential future siblings who are white? Is that not itself racist? And then there is the matter of living, “each day with fears, anxieties and uncertainty about her future and Payton’s future.”

Do these lesbians see the world so categorically that they actually think that living, “each day with fears, anxieties and uncertainty about her future and Payton’s future,” is not something every single parent on the planet experiences?

There’s more:

Even simple tasks have become more complicated because Payton is mixed-race, the lawsuit says.

‘Payton has hair typical of an African American girl. To get a decent cut, Jennifer must travel to a black neighborhood, far from where she lives, where she is obviously different in appearance, and not overtly welcome,’ according to the lawsuit.

Again, note the objectification of blacks by this mother. What does it take beyond a universal smile and common courtesy for people of different ethnicities to develop warm and cordial relationships? So what is this woman getting at?

On the one hand, she doesn’t feel culturally competent, then castigates an entire community of color when she brings the child to a hairdresser who can do the child’s hair some justice. And as for traveling out of one’s way? Heterosexuals do it all the time for their children. It comes with being a parent. God forbid she should turn it into a quality mommy-daughter day out.

The article ends with the mother saying that in a few years when her daughter begins school, she may be the only black child in her class in her small, rural town, and this worries her. An indictment of the entire community. But how small-minded can the community be if she and her lesbian partner live there?

For a mother so ostensibly concerned with her daughter being picked on by racist family, tortured by racist classmates and neighbors, failed culturally by her mother, she has chosen to label the little girl a mistake, a wrongful birth, a human who never should have been. All because of a little extra melanin and some different hair.

For all their talk of tolerance, and openness, and inclusivity, and compassion, it isn’t unreasonable to expect gays and lesbians to put their money where their collective mouth is. One would expect a lesbian couple, of all people, to abhor the notion of “wrongful birth,” claiming a genetic etiology for their own orientation as they do.

Pity the child born to such poverty and bigotry.

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Supporting Jill Stanek

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On December 24, 2009 Pro-life nurse/blogger/speaker/activist/apostle, Jill Stanek, gave me the Christmas gift of a lifetime. After having encouraged and even insisted that I start my own blog, Jill promoted it on her own extremely popular blog. See it here.

For those who may not know, Jill was the Ob/Gyn nurse who broke open wide the issue of babies born alive and left to die. Some are from botched abortions, some having severe congenital anomalies. In insisting that this issue come into the light it cost Jill her livelihood as a nurse. If there is anyone more detestable in medicine than a whistleblower, it’s a Christian, pro-life whistleblower. Jill abandoned the peace and economic surety of a solid nursing career to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit into the wilderness of the life issues. Like Peter and the other apostles who left their fishermen’s nets to follow Jesus, Jill left it all behind and never looked back.

In that time, Jill jumped into the emerging world of blogging, recognizing the internet as the new town square for the shrinking global village. She has gathered under her roof at Jillstanek.com every activist, physician, scientist, clergy person with a positive program and promoted their work. She has become a hub of news and information. When Twitter emerged, Jill jumped right on board and has used the medium to mount several successful campaigns against the abortion industry.

All during that time, she has crisscrossed the nation and traveled the globe in her apostolic mission to end abortion and restore a culture of life and a civilization of love. Those of us who do so know the toll this takes on our family lives and on our finances. In all of that time Jill has never asked for support for her blog, and following her example neither have I. However, today Jill has posted on her blog a very modest request for support. Read it here. It is the first time in her blog’s eight years that she has done so. If she’s asking, then there is good reason.

I would humbly ask that those reading this consider lending support for Jill’s ongoing and indefatigable work in ending this horrendous scourge of abortion. Click the link to her site, read her request, consider how incredibly modest her request is (compared to many who always ask for as much as you can possibly afford), and then prayerfully consider your response.

I am only one of many, many people with whom Jill Stanek has been completely generous with her time and resources.

It’s reciprocity time.

God Bless.

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In the debate surrounding the purported link between abortion and breast cancer (ABC link), there has arisen a core of individuals whose demeanor can best be described as zealous. This group has all but abandoned the core scientific principle of allowing themselves to be led, without prejudice, by the preponderance of the scientific data. It is a dangerous tack that they have taken for as scientists we are trained in a method that is meant to protect us, and the public who listen to our informed opinion, from the errors that come with thinking not in empirical terms, but from hewing to outmoded orthodoxies. Scientists and physicians fall into this error time and again, which precludes being open to new information. Currently the abortion breast cancer debate swirling in Australia as one of the chief proponents of this link (Dr. Angela Lanfranchi) is there to give a presentation on the topic. This debate provides us a window into this issue of orthodoxies creeping into the scientific community and taking stubborn hold. The identity of the orthodox wing in this debate, and its machinations, may be surprising.

As the Canadian Nobel Laureate (Chemistry), Dr. John Polanyi, noted:

At the heart of science lies discovery which involves a change in worldview. Discovery in science is possible only in societies which accord their citizens the freedom to pursue the truth where it may lead and which therefore have respect for different paths to that truth.

While Polanyi’s words beg to be taken to heart, the reality behind the denial of the ABC link is rooted in precisely the abuse of intellectual freedom Polanyi abhors. For over a decade in the United States all major medical and cancer societies have adopted the position that there is no link between abortion and breast cancer. They have done so based upon a single workshop conducted at the U.S. National Cancer Institute. Chief Epidemiologist Dr. Louise Brinton, who dismissed the unambiguous data in the literature establishing an ABC link, chaired this workshop. In it only those on her side of the issue were given a voice. Brinton would go on to coauthor a paper six years later that included oral contraceptive use and induced abortion as risk factors for breast cancer. For an excellent update on the state of the international literature in the field, Dr. Joel Brind gives one here.

Far from discredited junk science, researchers all across Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and the Americas continue to do research, publish in peer-reviewed journals, and continue to substantiate the ABC link. Their data, contained in two meta analyses discussed by Dr. Brind, all build on a devastatingly simple biological model that even the data deniers at NCI do not refute.

When a woman becomes pregnant her estrogen levels increase 2,000 times greater than baseline. The immediate effect is a swelling of breast tissue as the number of ductal cells roughly double. These cells are immature, undifferentiated, and cancer-prone. In the latter part of the second trimester and during the third trimester human placental lactogen is produced by the placenta, which matures and differentiates about 85% of the breast tissue from the cancer-prone Type 1 and Type 2 cells to milk producing and cancer resistant Type 3 and Type 4 cells. With breast-feeding and successive pregnancies the remaining 15% of cells are successively transformed to cancer resistant cells.

This is not only true in humans, but has been repeatedly demonstrated in animal models as well.

These facts are not in dispute by either side. Neither are the data showing that women who suffer first trimester miscarriage have no increased risk of breast cancer compared to women who have induced abortion, as their hormone levels never really increase appreciably. Neither in dispute are the data that demonstrate the earlier a woman has a first full term pregnancy, the lower her risk for breast cancer. Neither are the data by Danish epidemiologist Dr. Mads Melbye who discovered a 3% increased risk of breast cancer for every week after week seven of gestation where women have an induced abortion. He found an 89% increased risk of breast cancer after week eighteen in women who have had induced abortions. Melbye, it must be noted, denies the validity of his own statistically significant data.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Melbye, Brinton, and the rest of the NCI coterie deny the validity of their own data (as well as data from all over the globe), data that time and time again substantiate the ABC link. Their sole reason for denying the data in case-control studies (which are retrospective analyses) is the assertion that women who have had induced abortions are more likely to recall them, or report them if they have breast cancer. Dr. Janet Daling who included in one of her studies a test of this putative bias, studied women with cervical cancer and found absolutely no recall bias in her cases or controls. That makes sense because nearly all cervical cancers are caused by human papilloma virus. Janet Daling also publishes with the deniers.

That’s all they have: A disproven assertion, destroyed by one of their own.

That’s all there is behind the attack on results substantiating an ABC link in over seventy peer reviewed papers and two meta analyses. A small group of deniers with a large platform who didn’t give time or fair hearing at the workshop held to address this significant objection to results that cut across nations, cultures, religions, and reproductive practices and belief systems.

So how to explain all of this? The elephant in the room isn’t induced abortion as that which prevents attaining the protective effect of placental lactogen in the latter stages of pregnancy. The issue is the legality of induced abortion and what the frightening specter of breast cancer fifteen or twenty years later might mean. In other words, it’s scientists denying scientific data because of a political agenda. In the words of Dr. Leslie Bernstein who helped run the sham NCI workshop which so many scientific societies have swallowed uncritically:

The biggest bang for the buck is the first birth, and the younger you are, the better off you are….There are so many other messages we can give women about lifestyle modification and the impact of lifestyle and risk that I would never be a proponent of going around and telling them that having babies is the way to reduce your risk. I don’t want the issue relating to induced abortion to breast cancer risk to be part of the mix of the discussion of induced abortion, its legality, its continued availability. I think it should not be part of the argument.

This flies in the face of the freedom so essential to not only pursuing scientific truth, but in keeping the scientific community the free society Polanyi so eloquently proposes. Political orthodoxy has trumped the science and reason of hundreds of epidemiologists all over the globe, in scores of studies. Predictably the deniers will as a last resort point to the religious faith of some, suggesting that people of faith are incapable of adhering to the scientific method and discovering truth. Such orthodoxy prevents the funding by NCI of further studies along the ABC line of investigation, which only hurts women and their families in the long term.

This month, Australians have in their midst a physician and surgeon who boldly proclaims the truth of global discoveries. Can we all be wrong? And should a small band of highly placed scientific truth deniers sell the public on the scientifically heretical idea that there is such a thing as settled science around hotly contested issues? If one’s hypothesis isn’t open to being falsified by further research, then by definition one has exited science and entered the realm of orthodoxy. Such is the political orthodoxy, so truthfully stated by Dr. Bernstein, that has led so very many away from a small mountain of clear and convincing data on an issue impacting hundreds of millions of women who have had induced abortions.

This isn’t how good science is done. It is the very thing of which they accuse us: substituting political orthodoxy for science and reason.

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be-still-know-that-i-am-god

A few thoughts on the growing Ebola scare for my friends and loved ones…

This comes from the heart and mind of a medical microbiologist. Yes, I think that not enough is being done to shut down travel from the endemic areas, and this carries with it the potential for ebola’s introduction here. I also think the American aid workers should have been treated in the hot zone for the same reasons. While ebola is truly frightful, there is no cause for panic at this juncture.

NONE.

PERIOD.

What is needed is vigilance and sound policy decisions. This is the time to call your Congressional representatives. However, I’m seeing plenty of paranoid meanderings from folks who think that Obama wants to unleash ebola on the streets, that “THEY,” whoever “THEY” are, want to wipe out Africans in an attempt to conquer a continent with vast resources.

Look, biological warfare is indiscriminite. To aid an outbreak and shepherd it into a pandemic, thinking it will somehow limit itself to the despised class, is breathtakingly naive. There is a reason why nobody has deployed biological weapons in war. They are the gift that keeps on giving.

IF an outbreak occurs here, we’ll deal with all of the safety measures when that happens. Right now, there are no signs pointing to any outbreak. So let’s just put our trust in the Lord, be vigilant, be proactive and call our politicians regarding restrictions on travel, and in the words of Psalm 46:

“Be still, and know that I am God.”

Breathe.

(It isn’t airborne, either.)

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fatigue

The internet social media sites have lately been swamped with photos and videos of mass executions, raped women, severed heads and blood flowing like a river. A monster has been unleashed on the civilized world once again, but to be fair to Islam, this monster has been seen before. Among some of the many practitioners have been the ancient Greeks, Romans, Caananite cults, Medeival and Renaissance Christians (Yes, Catholics!), Turks, Mongols, Chinese, Japanese, Communists (in Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Soviet Union), etc.

Islam does seem to have a greater degree of recidivism, however.

In all of these episodic spasms of violence, it is not usually the civilization itself, but death cults that well up within them and sweep up many in much the same way ordinary people can find themselves easily swept up in a vigilante mob and doing what hours before would have been unthinkable. Much is the same in the latest spasm of satanic slaughter in the Middle East.

We are alarmed at the persecution of Christians, their wholesale slaughter, and that of rival Muslim sects as well. We are sickened at the sight of their slaughter and want to do something about it.

But what?

Beyond prayer and consciousness raising, what else can be done? The answer is military, but in a war-weary nation that actually helped precipitate this by the sudden withdrawal of our troops (creating the vacuum for ISIS) there is no political will or stomach for another fight. So the answer is what?

A steady diet of these photos will only produce compassion fatigue, the genesis of which is illustrated in the Venn diagram below:

Diagram - Compassion Fatigue

Moreover, there is a legitimate debate about the potentially voyeuristic participation in such atrocity and its effects on the psyche and soul. Such imagery becomes like pornography in requiring ever greater thresholds of depravity depicted in order to elicit arousal. This occurred with the nightly news images during the Vietnam War, which had no greater degree of atrocity than other wars, as the historical record continues to bear. Eventually we became outraged, then numbed, then seized with the desire to move on.

Teddy Kennedy led the defunding, we declared victory and came home. This created the vacuum for Pol Pot and his slaughter of over three million humans in just a few short years. In Iraq, history is repeating itself, and the question is what do we do with these images?

On FaceBook I have joined Deacon Greg Kandra in declaring that I will unfriend anyone who posts these images. I don’t need them on a daily basis, and their abundance will merely desensitize me. In just a few short weeks I have already lost the ability to feel shock and horror. It’s becoming just more of the same, and that’s the real shock and horror.

In a recent blog post, Fr. Dwight Longnecker declared that we dare not look away. I disagree. The real danger is incurring the fate of Lots’ wife, of turning to stone for having looked back.

If we truly care, we’ll act. We’ll actually DO something. That will begin with electing new national leadership and rebuilding our military. Death cults have only ever been stopped by military force, and this one is no exception. However, maintaining our edge means not looking on the horror with unfiltered gaze.

That’s the challenge.

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