From Two Fronts, Hopeful News

It hit me today, seeing headlines in The New York Times for the second day in a row about profoundly good news, that with all the problems and gloom polls show Americans correctly perceive that we have much to be thankful for. No, this is not happy talk, no list of blessings for the holiday. I just want to draw your attention to two bright lights -- good news in Iraq and the fact that scientists are now able to draw stem cells without destroying embryos.

In a movement termed the Awakening, citizens of Iraq have -- in year five of living in war -- pulled back from civil war and chosen reconciliation instead. Together Sunni and Shiite, with the help of U.S. forces, are improving security in their neighborhoods and battling the influence of al Qaeda together. Yes, millions are still displaced and have not returned to their former homes, but many have. It is progress by any description. There is no guarantee, but since violence is being rejected by great numbers of Iraqis we can hope there is a chance that political gains will follow military progress.

The news about potentially life-saving stem cell therapy is huge. Scientists have now taken skin cells and, by adding genes, made cells that could be turned into any kind -- for heart, brain or bones. That we can possibly move past the political battle over embryos and research, an issue that pits many in the pro-choice community (favoring the potential cures for Parkinson's and other diseases) against many more in the pro-life community, not to mention one party against the other, is something for everyone to cheer. Watching Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) have to turn against his own was always too much to bear, or worse, seeing the Reagans pitted against the Bushes ... ouch. Before we had terrorism to worry about and fear, we spent the pre-9/11 months laser-focused on some big speech Bush gave about stem cell research. It seems like such a dreadfully political exercise now. Who knew it could become meaningless so quickly?

I will close with another cheerful reminder -- remember bird flu? Take it off your list ... at least for now.

And Happy Thanksgiving.

***

Got any thankful thoughts to share? Or questions to ask? Why don't you ASK A.B. -- join me for my weekly Q & A video posts by sending useful, interesting and entertaining questions to askab@thehill.com.