Haste is necessary for this transition to go smoothly, on the economy and national security especially.

But President-elect Obama’s transition team is acting fast to signal
changes they plan to make as soon as possible on a wide variety of
issues where he can sidestep the legislative process.

“There’s a lot that the president can do using his
executive authority without waiting for congressional action, and I
think we’ll see the president do that to try to restore the — a sense
that the country is working on behalf of the common good,” [transition
chief John Podesta] said.

That goes back to the debate over what constitutes “the common
good”, a point many US bishops addressed in their clarifications of
Church teaching on human rights in a civil society.

While that AFP article mentions embryonic stem cell research, this KNX piece is more revealing about that effort to use executive privilege to fulfill some controversial campaign promises.

The Washington Post reported Sunday that a team of about
four-dozen Obama advisers have been working on the review of existing
executive orders, to identify regulatory and policy changes Obama could
implement soon after his inauguration on a wide range of issues that
also include climate change and reproductive rights.

Abortion. There it is. Pro-life Americans were hoping he may
re-consider or moderate his extreme position on abortion, and listen to
some of the pro-life Christian groups that worked hard to get him
elected. This does not bode well for them.

The paper said that team is consulting with liberal advocacy groups, Capitol Hill staffers and potential agency chiefs.

No conservative advocacy groups?

In some instances, Obama would be quickly delivering on
promises he made during his two-year campaign, while in others he would
be embracing Clinton-era policies upended by President Bush during his
eight years in office.

This is swift.

Obama has already signaled, for example, that he intends
to reverse Bush’s controversial limit on the federal funding of
embryonic stem cell research — a decision that scientists say has
restrained research into some of the most promising avenues for
defeating a wide array of diseases, such as Parkinson’s.

That’s the smokescreen advocates of embryonic stem cell research
have been using to get public support. It has significant negative
reasons for concern, and has produced no success yet, aside from the
whole moral argument over using human beings in their earliest
developmental life. Scientists know other, moral stem cells (like chord
blood and adult skin cells) hold great promise and have already
produced successes. This is about misinformation, and profit for the
biotech industry disinterested in the moral argument over using and
discarding what are medically and scientically known to be small human
beings.

Bush’s August 2001 decision pleased religious
conservatives, who have moral objections to the use of cells from
days-old human embryos, which are destroyed in the process.

Whether they are hours old, days old, or months old, they are human
beings from the moment they’re conceived. One of the tactics to make
these processes (and abortion) more acceptable to the public is by
de-humanizing the vulnerable, starting with changing the way we refer
to them.

Speaking of abortion…

Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood
Federation of America, says the new president is also expected to lift
a so-called global gag rule barring international family planning
groups that receive U.S. aid from counseling women about the
availability of abortion, even in countries where the procedure is
legal.

And so it begins. This will require an ongoing public debate over
the great social, moral issues of our day, using clear language and
engaging reason. Don’t be discouraged. Be ready to ’speak truth to
power’, and be patient in trying to break through an entrenched
resistence to truth.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....