Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Natural Family Planning: An Audio Primer

Here's a nifty radio interview from the "Vital Signs Weekend" vault -- an enjoyable 10-minute conversation with Denny Hartford and Fertility Care Practitioner Gerianne Jensen. Just click on the title of this post to go to the Real Player audio file.

What's Going On in Missouri?

Here is an excellent review by Judie Brown of just what's happening in the Missouri cloning/stem cell debate. You'll find here concise and relevant reasoning based on the facts rather than media hype. So, check it out.

John Kerry Knocks American Troops in Iraq (Video)

Check out this shameless shot taken at American military and ask yourself why the MSM has virtually ignored what should be a widely reported action.

Once More on Amendment 423

One of the most popular spots on the Vital Signs Blog the last few days has been a post I did back on September 22nd about Stop OverSpending Nebraska and Amendment 423 which the organization advocates. It makes sense to again highlight that link so that people (besides the folks finding the article via the search engines) can refresh their understanding. This is especially the case after a few weeks of scare tactics and really distorted commercials launched by opponents of the measure.

Amendment 423 will simply require politicans "to live by the same standards that families, individuals, and businesses have to live by everyday." Specifically, Amendment 423 will limit the growth of government spending to the rate of inflation plus population growth each year.

This means that that property taxes will not have to rise like is being claimed in those persistent (but prevaricating) ads. Indeed, the measure is very much like the "Taxpayer Bill of Rights" (TABOR) that has been such a success in Colorado since 1992...so successful that the governor there credits it as one of "primary reasons Colorado weathered the recession better than many other states."

As stated by proponents of 423 to the compilers of the Nebraska Voter Information Packet, "businesses will want to come to where they will not be endangered by excessive taxation. Colorado’s experience in the first decade after TABOR was enacted was that job growth surged at almost double the rate of the previous ten years. For the past 14 years, the American Enterprise Institute has consistently ranked Colorado’s economy first in the nation."

Here is a combination fact sheet and "myth buster" page from the web site hosted by SOS (Stop OverSpending) Nebraska. I think you'll find it, at the least, illuminating.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Why Do Homosexuals So Despise Marriage?

...This week - dateline Trenton New Jersey... where a unified panel of seven judges agreed that illegitimate sexual unions should be made equitable under law to that of monogamous married persons. Without the consent of the governed these tyrants in black robes sat in judgment of healthy families across the universe and demanded that New Jersey residents accept immoral construction of sexual unions as the equal basis for families and family life in their recreated sexual, liberal, utopia.

With utter contempt for God, and for the voters of their state the New Jersey seven unanimously said that all who live in the confines of its borders must fundamentally agree to the moral premise, that what the Bible terms perversion, the voters should call healthy.


But why? What's the real goal of the activists, the judges, and the radicals who seek to subvert a moral world view?


The answer is simple, no longer satisfied with practicing the unspeakable perverse sexual pleasures that their hearts seek in private bedrooms, they wish to be able to do so in public. They are also suffering from such immense guilt over the actions of their sexual behaviors because they know inherently that the actions they perform are in fact unhealthy - that they will go to any means necessary to try and shut down the voices in their heads that tell them it is wrong.


They wrongfully believe that the guilty voice within them is an echo of a prudish state that seeks to limit their freedoms. They wrongfully believe that the judgment they feel is emanating from "bible thumpers." And what they fail to ever admit is that the voice that condemns them the loudest, is never a human voice - but in fact the voice of their own conscience informed by the truth of the God who created them...


Read the entirety of this very lucent, very logical and very biblical commentary by Kevin McCullough right here.

Fighting "Earmark" Spending is A Campaign Winner

So, why aren't Republicans, those who so regularly claim to represent the party of fiscal responsibility, making the opposition to "earmark" spending and other "pork barrel" projects a primary goal of their work in Washington?

This article from Human Events gives you the lowdown.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Why Vote Republican Next Week?

Yes, we're all disgusted with the compromises, the false promises and the lack of toughness we've seen in way too many Republicans these last several years. And yes, we're re-dedicating ourselves to making these fake conservatives responsible for their failure to represent our interests.

But, do we want Nancy Pelosi as the next House Majority Leader? Of course not. So, expect genuine conservatives to come through with the goods next week...even if those we work to elect don't always do so themselves.

And for a reminder of the positives that have occurred with this Congress with the G.O.P. in control, read through this not-unimpressive list compiled by Mona Charen.

The Scandal in the Catholic Church that the Press Doesn't Cover

Here's just one in a terribly long series of cave-ins to the culture of death by supposedly Catholic institutions.

In this particular case, it involves Georgetown University creating a faculty chair for...choke..."human rights" in the name of an ACLU, pro-abortion zealot (who still retains all the authority of a Catholic priest!), Fr. Robert Drinan.

Here's the whole sad tale as told by Life Site.

EU Parliament: Be Careful of the Russian Bear

Two days ago, members of the European Union Parliament passed a resolution (nonbinding) which encouraged member nations to give "serious thought" to their relations with Russia and forego making decisions based only on economic criteria. In other words, Russia's worsening record regarding freedom issues, human rights, general corruption and threatening actions towards others should give pause to EU states who deal with Russia.

According to Radio Free Europe, "the parliamentarians voiced concerns over what they called the increasing intimidation, harassment, and killing of journalists, and other people critical of the Russian government."

False Religions Okay to American Judges; It's Only Christianity They Want Eliminated

Here's a disturbing report from the Thomas More Law Center --

A three-week intensive indoctrination into the Islamic faith by a California public school district was allowed to stand by the U. S. Supreme Court last week. A California federal trial court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals had earlier ruled that such indoctrination was constitutional.

The Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, outraged by the obvious double standard in the application of the Establishment Clause jurisprudence by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which has held “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance unconstitutional, but allows this kind of Islamic instruction in public schools, had requested that the Supreme Court review the case.


The materials used by Byron Union School District seventh graders stated, “From the beginning, you and your classmates will become Muslims.” Students were instructed to accept as “fact” that Jihad is “a struggle by Muslims against oppression, invasion, and injustice,” and to accept as “truth” that the Koran “is God’s word as revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.” Students were taught the five duties (Pillars of Faith) all Muslims must fulfill and were required to complete a project for each duty, including fasting, in order to pass.


According to Richard Thompson, President and Chief Counsel of the Law Center, “This three-week course was for the most part propaganda that could be used to unwittingly recruit home grown terrorist. Nevertheless, some public schools are allowing this kind of religious instruction under the guise of diversity instruction.”


Impressionable twelve-year-old students were required to take Islamic names, wear identification tags that displayed their new Islamic name and the Star and Crescent Moon. Students also were handed materials that instructed them to “remember Allah always so that you may prosper,” and memorized and recited the “Bismillah” or “In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate,” which students also wrote on banners that were hung on the classroom walls. Students also had to memorize parts of Islamic prayers and verses from the Koran.


Thompson continued, “No federal court would have permitted a class where public school students were taught to ‘become Catholics’ for three weeks, selected a saint’s name, wore identification tags that displayed their new name and a Crucifix, and engaged in Catholic religious practices. Here, however, students were subjected to Islamic religious indoctrination and propaganda and the courts turned a blind eye. The Supreme Court missed an opportunity to demonstrate that the Establishment Clause is to be applied the same to all religions and is not just a weapon to be used only against Christians...”

Read the rest of this story here.

Look Who's Supporting the South Dakota Abortion Ban

Among the level-headed citizens who think it's wrong to kill childern in utero and who therefore support the measure on South Dakota's ballot which would ban abortion, is a woman who used to commit abortions there!

Check out this LifeNews story for more but go right here to view the video ad itself.

Nicaraguan Congress Votes Against Abortion: Will the President Sign the Bill?

This A.P. report about the Nicaraguan Congress voting to make abortions illegal is clearly slanted -- like usual, the giveaway is in the first paragraph -- but it is nevertheless a story which encourages those who yet desire some semblance of moral sanity to return to our hemisphere.

For instance, this news story should resemble the following:

Preborn Children Finally Receive Legal Protection

Nicaraguan lawmakers today signalled that the end to the barbarous period in which abortionists preyed on women and their preborn babies may be in sight as they passed a bill outlawing these dangerous and immoral acts of violence. The Congress also voted to increase the penalties on those who defy not only nature (and now the law) by continuing to commit such heinous crimes.

But, alas, the days of such coverage, at least by the organs of the mainstream press whose ardor for abortion has been so strong for over 40 years now, falls most definitely in the "Fat Chance" department.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

What Happens to the "Extra" Embryos?

Here, from a "Vital Signs" radio program, is a 90-second audio answer to this very important question.

Eliminating The Sexual Barriers of...Bathrooms?

Sexual perversions are rapidly becoming the darling "civil right" of the MSM, judges, government bureaucrats and, of course, Hollywood. In a post on the Dawn Patrol entitled, "Loo-nacy," Dawn Eden describes a ruling of the Manhattan Transfer Authority in which the transgendered can now use whatever bathrooms they want.

Like we needed another reason to avoid public lavatories. I guess Mom's advice still rings true --"Just hold it till you get home."

The Left's Weird Penchant for Complementing Cuba

Over at Luis M. Garcia's blog (Garcia is the author of Child of the Revolution), he made this wonderfully wry observation about yet another irrational complement to Castro's Cuba...

The good news about those Havana blackouts


The World Wildlife Fund has just unveiled its 2006 Living Planet Report, which looks at the impact human activity is having on wildlife.

Very commendable. Except that the report has concluded that Cuba is probably the only country in the world with “sustainable development”.

The rationale? One of the report’s authors, Jonathan Loh, cited the country's high literacy rate, long life expectancy … and the fact that Cuba has a “surprisingly” low consumption of energy.

Nothing surprising there - at least in relation to energy use.

The fact is that under the Castro regime the electricity system doesn’t work, public transport is virtually non existent, private cars are restricted to officials and tourists, air conditioning is a rarity, and what little heavy industry was in place during the 1970s and 1980s disappeared completely following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

So, no energy equals no pollution equals sustainable development.


“Of course,” Mr Loh added, “this doesn’t mean Cuba is a perfect country …”

Shady Brook Farms Not Only Sells Turkeys -- They Are Turkeys!

In this Concerned Women for America story, you'll learn that not all of the "Shady Brook Farms" turkeys have feathers. This is a striking example of the left's extreme intolerance, unfairness and fear of contrary opinions.

It is also an example of why you should make sure your family Thanksgiving meal excludes products from "Shady Brooks Farms."

In fact, you might send Cargill (owner of the subsidiary) a little note registering your concern about their high-handed promotion of homosexual marriage. The company's mailing address is Cargill, Inc. PO Box 9300 Minneapolis, Minnesota, 55440-9300. Their phone number is 1 (800) 227-4455. Or, you could use the company's web page form for e-mail contact. That page is where I mailed the following:

Dear Cargill,

This is just a quick note to 1) protest the arrogant, unfair and
unconstitutional firing of Luis Padilla because of his entirely reasonable and unintrusive support of Virginia's amendment protecting traditional marriage; and 2) to entreat you to restore to Mr. Padilla his job while insuring that the Cargill officials who acted so coercive and unjustly be firmly reprimanded.

Until these things are done, please know that I will enthusiastically pass the word that "Shady Brook Farms" turkeys (as well as other Cargill products) would be best left off one's Thanksgiving shopping list.


Sincerely,


Denny Hartford
Omaha, Nebraska

Russia's Irreligion Is Killing Her

Chuck Colson has an incisive column today about how the irreligious worldview of Russian Communism has doomed the country.

According to a recent Los Angeles Times article, Russia “has lost the equivalent of a city of 700,000 people every year since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.” We’re talking about the population of San Francisco or Baltimore—a grim reminder of how fruitless some worldviews can be.

If demographic trends hold steady, Russia’s population, which stands at 142 million today, will drop to 52 million by 2080. At that point, according to Sergei Mironov, the chairman of the upper house of the Dumas, the Russian parliament, “there will no longer be a great Russia . . . it will be torn apart piece by piece, and finally cease to exist.”


Mironov isn’t alone in his fears. Russia’s demographic crisis raises “serious questions about whether Russia will be able to hold on to its lands along the border with China or field an army, let alone a workforce to support the ill and the elderly...”


...What’s more, last year there were 100,000 more abortions than births in Russia. And many women who want children can’t have them: “[A]n estimated 10 million Russians of reproductive age are sterile because of botched abortions or poor health...”

The rest of the article is here.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A Closer Look at the “Morning After” Pill

I recently wrote this brief review of the "morning after" pill to send out to the LifeSharer team of Vital Signs Ministries. I thought I'd pass it along to our blog visitors too. As I say in the conclusion, please pass the word.

A Closer Look at the “Morning After” Pill

"There are women who swallow drugs to stifle in their own womb the beginnings of a man to be -- committing infanticide before they even give birth to the infant."
Minucius Felix, Octavius (2nd Century)

“Moreover, those, too, who give drugs causing abortion are deliberate murderers themselves,

as well as those receiving the poison which kills the fetus."
St. Basil the Great, Canon 188 (4th Century)

"They drink potions to ensure sterility and are guilty of murdering a human being not yet conceived. Some, when they learn that they are with child through sin, practice abortion by the use of drugs. Frequently they die themselves and are brought before the rulers of the lower world guilty of three crimes: suicide, adultery against Christ, and murder of an unborn child."
St. Jerome, Letter to Eustochium 22:13 (4th Century)

These are only a few of the statements from the early Church fathers explaining how evil and tragic were decisions to abort a pregnancy through the use of drugs. There are others. And, of course, though the practice of abortion in those eras was primarily through the abuse of such poisonous drugs, the early Church followed carefully the teaching and example of Jesus in strictly condemning all abortion.

It is in the light of the Bible’s commands regarding justice, mercy, the prohibition of murder, the special protection afforded to children, the specific proscriptions against abortion in the Law and so on as well as the instruction of the faithful martyrs of the Church that we in the 21st Century must evaluate the use of such drugs as those going under the terms “Plan B,” the “morning after” pill, and “emergency contraception.” Let’s do so by quickly reviewing two basic questions.

What are the drugs in the “morning after” pill and how do they work?

The “morning after” pill consists of a much higher dosage of the same hormones normally found in so-called “birth control” pills -- hormones that have a very powerful effect upon a woman’s system. The primary purposes of these drugs are to prevent a woman’s ovulation and to inhibit the passage of sperm after sexual intercourse. However, scientific studies have distinctly shown that these hormonal drugs have yet another effect – one that acts after conception when “breakthrough” ovulation has occurred and the sperm has successfully impregnated the egg. This particular effect of the hormone stops the embryo from implanting in the uterine wall. And remember, science couldn’t be clearer that a human being is conceived at the moment of fertilization, not at the later event when the little person attaches to that safe and nutritious haven from which his/her subsequent development continues. Furthermore, even in those cases where the embryo does manage to implant, these potent drugs have the devastating effect of shrinking the endometrium of the uterine wall from its normal thickness (5 to 13 millimeters) to barely over 1 millimeter! With this “pantry” near empty, the tiny, fragile person doesn’t have enough oxygen or food to survive.

So, make no mistake about it -- “birth control” pills and the much more powerful “morning after” pills are abortifacients. Despite all of the hype…despite all the distorted use of language in which they are described…and despite the fact that these drugs usually act as genuine contraceptives, these powerful hormones sometimes do cause abortions.
And, by the way, depending upon which specific application of the “morning after” pill a woman uses, the dosage of these powerful hormones is the equivalent of 4, 8, 10 and even up to 40 times the dosage of a daily “birth control” pill!

These then are the drugs that the FDA recently approved to be sold over the counter -- even to a minor! Imagine how the “morning after” pill, perceived as a simple and cheap (less than $30) escape from the undesired consequences of sexual activity, is going to effect the lifestyles of Americans. Think of the bad decisions which will be made because of the lack of involvement of a parent or doctor, not to mention the tremendous damage done because women naively bought the Planned Parenthood lie; namely, that “emergency contraception” has nothing to do with abortion.

What will be the impact of the “morning after” pill?

The shift in American lifestyles could be very dramatic, serving as the next, sad stage of the sexual revolution with even more of the attendant problems. After all, the “morning after” pill is being loudly hailed as a safe, easy, private, and responsible way to continue sexual activity without any of the hassles. And the applause for the drug comes from powerful sources: the mainstream media, government, educators, Hollywood, Planned Parenthood and, no doubt about it, sexual players who are looking for easier “scores.” (It hardly is a stretch to visualize how back seat Lotharios are already making the offer of the “morning after” pill a persuasive part of their pitch.) Add to these false promises the calamitous lie that “emergency contraception” has no connection to abortion and it is easy to perceive how widely and enthusiastically the temptation will be embraced.

Indeed, in several places where the “morning after” pill has already been available, exactly what common sense would expect to happen has -- increased sexual promiscuity with the resultant rises in sexually transmitted disease and emotional trauma.

The false promise that “emergency contraception” provides freedom from consequences is dangerous in another important respect; namely, women’s long term health. We already know some of the effects that these powerful drugs have on women. They range from nausea, headaches and abnormal bleeding to more serious complications like severe pain, shortness of breath, eye disorders and more. And yet because of the liberals’ pressure on the FDA, the agency has now approved the drug for widespread, unsupervised use despite the dearth of scientific studies aimed at discovering what long-term health problems might result in the use of these incredibly potent, unnatural chemicals!

Much more could be said and I encourage you to pursue the topic by contacting such excellent sources as the Family Policy Network, the Christian Medical and Dental Society, the Family Research Council, CareNet, and others. But you’ll find that the basic elements of the issue are clear…and very important. Whatever misleading term is used…whatever scientific facts are denied or obscured…whatever hype is generated in its favor by the powers to be…the “morning after” pill is a plan for individual and societal disaster. Pass the word.

"For those who conceal sexual wantonness by taking stimulating drugs to bring on an abortion wholly lose their own humanity along with the fetus."
Clement of Alexandria, Pedagogus (2nd Century)

Michael J. Fox's Disinformation Ad

From the Family Research Council comes this brief commentary on the Michael J. Fox "World Series pitch" for a Missouri cloning bill...

In pursuit of cures, scientists have continued to press for the fastest routes--ignoring every ethical caution sign in their path. But news from the University of Rochester Medical Center suggests that researchers are now running into lethal roadblocks. Steven Goldman, a neurology professor at the Center, found that using human embryonic stem cells in the brains of Parkinson's patients may cause deadly tumors.

In the journal Nature Medicine, he wrote that his team injected human stem cells into rat brains to cure symptoms similar to Parkinson's disease. While the cells helped to stabilize the disorder, they also caused growths that ultimately killed the rats.

In Dr. Goldman's words, "The behavioral data validate the utility of the approach. But it also raises a cautionary flag and says we are not ready for prime time yet."

How ironic, then, that Parkinson's spokesman Michael J. Fox appeared before millions during a World Series TV break talking about the Missouri cloning initiative. He was featured on an ad about the state's cloning bill saying, "Senator Talent opposes the expansion of stem cell research. He wants to criminalize science that gives us a chance..." But the issue in Missouri is about human cloning, not stem cell research. The only accurate thing Fox said is that what Missouri does, matters to millions of Americans.

Voters who believe in real cures should follow a compassionate course that helps the sick and protects the unborn.

The American Family: Rest In Peace?

"Douglas Besharov, a sociologist with the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington-based think tank, said it is difficult for the traditional family to emerge unscathed after three and a half decades of divorce rates reaching 50 percent and five decades out-of-wedlock births.

'Change is in the air,' Besharov said in a recent interview with the State Department journal called US Society and Values. 'The only question is whether it is catastrophic or just evolutionary.'


He predicted that cohabitation and temporary relationships between people were likely to dominated America's social landscape for years to come.


'Overall, what I see is a situation in which people -- especially children -- will be much more isolated, because not only will their parents both be working, but they'll have fewer siblings, fewer cousins, fewer aunts and uncles,' the scholar argued. 'So over time, we're moving towards a much more individualistic society.'


(Source: Maxim Kniazkov, For First Time, Unmarried Households Reign in US, Yahoo News, AFP, October 15, 2006) -- Hat tip: World Congress of Families.

More Repression of Christians in Belarus

ASSIST News Service has a penetrating and comprehensive report here detailing the seizure by the Belarusian government of New Life Church in Minsk. The story also describes the subsequent hunger strike of church members, the large prayer meetings, and the history of Alexander Lukashenka's vengeful actions against Christianity.

Germany Goes Its Own Way in Criminalizing Home Schools

Germany has been one of the loudest voices for solidarity and uniformity in the European Union but it makes an exception over the matter of home schooling. Fines, jail terms and forced transport of children to government schools have become increasingly in vogue for an administration that refuses to allow "the emergence of parallel societies based on separate philosophical convictions."

Here is World Net Daily's take on this sad (and scary) situation.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Belarusian Cows Flee Totalitarianism: Looking for Greener Grass in Free Poland

All creatures great and small yearn for free air to breathe...even if it takes the bold courage to swim their way to liberty. That's exactly the case with a huge herd of cows that, over the last several months, have dared the currents of the Bug River to escape Alexander Lukashenka's repressive Belarus and make it into Poland.

The cows, none of whom made any public comment on why they left (Belarus has strict punishments for those voicing criticism of the government and its officials), traveled illegally without authorized visas.

In roughly this same time period, Polish border guards have deported over 2,000 illegal emigrants coming into the European Union from other countries, including the Ukraine, Russia and Communist Belarus. But this is the first time they've been asked to perform the thankless task of deporting livestock.

Poland’s chief veterinarian Krzystof Jazdrewski was reported to have said the cows were most likely looking for better grazing land. However, I contend that it was the poverty, corruption and increasing tensions produced by Lukashenka's police state that drove the "mad cows" westward across the river.

Furthermore, Jazdrewski contends that in such herds there is usually one leader "and if the leader goes somewhere, the rest of the herd follows." The Belarusian KGB, upon reading this report, began extensive inquiries designed to discover just who this "leader" was, who were his principal contacts outside Belarus, and what pressures could most effectively be brought to bear upon him.

The Polish veterinarians, border officials, and a few "enlightened" journalists tried to convince the cows to swim back across the river to Belarus but, as the news reports said, "the animals didn’t want to go back home." In fact, upon learning what was in store for them, the cows broke and ran.

Only about 50 of these political refugees have been captured as yet and, alas, returned back across the border where an uncertain but possibly ominous fate awaits them.

Here's the Radio Polonia story.

Feeling Down? Why Not Call the Euthanasia Clinic?

London law professor Lewis Wolpert accepts the idea of euthanasia for the terminally ill who knowingly choose it. That's unfortunate and, of course, reveals his very truncated understanding both of the inherent sanctity of life as taught in the Scriptures and of the great difficulty in opening Pandora's Box "just a little bit."

Nevertheless, Professor Wolpert draws a definite distinction between those kinds of cases and those encouraged by groups like the Swiss euthanasia clinic, Dignitas, who are promoting what they call the "marvellous possibility" of assisted suicide to people who are sick, people who are mentally ill, and even people who are depressed.

This Telegraph (U.K.) article is an informative read, one that shows that the next terrible stages in the culture of death are already upon us.

Putin as Comedian?

According to updates from Radio Free Europe, Vladimir Putin is in a spot of trouble on the eve of a Russia/European Union summit conference in Lahti, Finland. For instance, Kommersant, the Russian "online newspaper", commented yesterday that President Putin has a sense of humor...but only when he's dishing it out towards others.

The comment came after Putin was overheard disparaging Israeli President Moshe Katsav (who has recently been accused of sexual harassment) when Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (shown here shaking hands with Putin) came to call. Immediately after the press was ushered out -- but before the press microphones were turned off -- Putin jokingly praised the sexual prowess of Katsav. "Say hi to your president," said Putin. " He turned out to be quite a powerful guy! Raped 10 women! We're all surprised. We all envy him!"

In typical fashion, Putin's aides completely denied the quotation until informed there was a taped record of it. Oops. After that, the aides simply dismissed it as a mere joke.

But again, mean jokes like this seem to be okay to Putin if he is the comic delivering them. But it's a much different story when he is the butt of the joke. Case in point: after Putin called for increasing Russia's birthrate earlier this year, journalist Vladimir Rakhmankov dubbed the president, "Russia's phallic symbol." Crude, yes; but certainly less repulsive than joking about being envious of a serial rapist. But because Rakhmankov had been on record as opposing several elements of Putin's political agenda, he is now on trial for "insulting a representative of the state." As they say, comedy all depends on who slips on the banana peel.

And, in one more matter about Vladimir Putin's regime (this one very un-funny), Radio Free Europe reports that after the meeting with Putin, the Israeli Prime Minister had a stark message to Russian Jews -- "Pack your bags" and move to Israel!

This call, of course, comes on the heels of repeated Israeli concerns over Iran's nuclear program and the presence of Russian-made weapons in the hands of Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon. Israeli Cabinet Secretary Yisrael Maimon told reporters that Russian authorities have agreed to exercise greater "supervision over arms exports" in response to Israeli complaints, which the Israeli authorities backed up, by the way, with plenty of evidence. (Russia had previously denied that its arms exports to countries such as Syria could find their way to third parties.) At any rate, Olmert believes that Russia is definitely not the place for Jews to find a safe and free haven and encouraged Israel to be their new home.

Cost Containment = Care Containment?

It is significant that this story is in USA Today's "Money" section because money is certainly a prime mover of the modern euthanasia movement. Though the matter is often replete with distorted euphemisms like "death with dignity," "quality of life," and "prolonging the dying process," it is, in fact, the sheer weight of the expenses of health care for the elderly infirm (as well as young victims of accidents, AIDS, and other debilitating diseases) that often tip the scale in favor of euthanasia for social engineers.

For instance, this story describes how different are the costs of "end-of-life care" in Miami , Florida as opposed to Portland, Oregon. The key factors being (as the writer of the article obviously desires her readers to understand) the more enlightened views of the West Coast about such things as physician-assisted suicide and so-called "futile care."

The author of the article, as I suggested earlier, makes her own opinions pretty clear; namely, that the answer to the "cost containment = care containment" problem is to simply... provide less care. The savings can then be used in better ways -- say, like having government become an ever larger "nanny state" to provide more perks for the rest of us...even those that refuse to work, save and make wise choices.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Your Girls Have Nothing Decent to Wear for Halloween? Here's Help.

Claire and I aren't much on Halloween. In fact, in past years, we have decorated our windows with fall items along with large, colorful letters spelling out, respectively, "Happy Reformation Day - October 31" and "Have a Wonderful All Saints Day -- November 1."

But for those of you who must deal with costumes for parties and trick or treat outings (especially for those of you trying to escape the immodest and inappropriate costumes being sold for girls), I couldn't suggest a better source of information and assistance than Kathryn's post over at Suitable for Mixed Company.

The Pro-life, Pro-family AMERICA'S PAC Needs Some Help

Hermain Cain and his colleagues have created in AMERICA'S PAC excellent strategies and educational tools geared to communicate the benefits of the conservative political movement for Americans of all colors and creeds. For instance, AMERICA'S PAC radio and print spots are absolutely first-rate. (You can hear them on the AMERICA's PAC website right here.)

But AMERICA'S PAC is looking for our help to keep their message consistent and comprehensive. Their effectiveness in the last election suggests that they well deserve that help.

Again, please check out the AMERICA'S PAC site right here to learn how you can become a part of the team.

Judges Help Abortion-Minded Young Women Evade Florida Law

When Florida voters approved an amendment to their state constitution in 2004 requiring a minor girl to notify her parents prior to undergoing a surgical abortion, they probably didn't know that the fine print which included a “judicial bypass” would practically negate the very purpose of the law.

Indeed, since July of last year when the new law went into effect, 94% of those minors asking for a judge's permission to keep their parents out of the loop while they go ahead and destroy their preborn children (514 out of 548) have received the go ahead.

Can you remember the days when judges enforced the law instead of evading it. Can you recall those old-fashioned ideas that Americans cherished and fought for like the sanctity of life, the sanctity of the home and the democratic process? Lord, have mercy.

Here's the story from the St. Petersburg Times.

Political Murders Continue in Russia

There's been yet another political assassination in Russia. This time it was Dmitri Fotyanov, shown here at left. Fotyanov, a candidate for mayor in the far eastern Russian town of Dalnegorsk, was gunned down just three days before a runoff election.

With this latest act of violence, I thought it important to also revisit the high-visibility murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya (picture at lower right) and draw from it (and these other crimes) the proper alarm about what is happening under Vladimir Putin's corrupt government. Here are a few articles about the killing of Politkovskaya from, respectively, the Washington Post, Time, the international edition of Der Spiegel, and a particularly good piece by Stephen Brown for FrontPageMag.

Since 2000, state officials have increasingly stifled the freedoms of press and speech which had just begun to flower in Russia. And those freedoms aren't the only precious thing in danger. In this same time span, more than 20 journalists have been killed.

And the count grows more terrible still.

To illustrate, here is a quick description of the 46 of the politically oriented murders in Russia since 1994. That's right, 46!

In recent years, reporters and opposition political leaders have also been silenced by murder in Belarus and the Ukraine.

Oh, yes; the specter of Communist thuggery is still very much alive in the world. Do not...I repeat, do not trust these guys.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Voting With a Clear Conscience

...Suppose a candidate came forward and said, “I support terrorism.” Would you say, “I disagree with you on terrorism, but what’s your health care plan?”

Of course not.


Rather, you would immediately consider that candidate as disqualified from public office. His position, allowing the killing of the public, is radically inconsistent with public service.


So it is with abortion. Abortion is no less violent than terrorism. Any candidate who says abortion should be kept legal disqualifies him/herself from public service. We need look no further; we need pay no attention to what that candidate says on other issues. Support for abortion is enough for us to decide not to vote for such a person.


Pope John Paul II put it this way: "Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights -- for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture -- is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination" (Christifideles Laici, 1988).


A call for human rights while claiming authority to take away the most basic right – life – from unborn children is “false and illusory” precisely because if government can take away rights from some humans, then those rights aren’t human rights at all. Such a politician, in other words, is saying that rights like health care only belong to some humans, not to others.


If a politician cannot respect the life of a little baby, how is he or she supposed to respect yours?...


This superb application of spiritual responsibility comes from Fr. Frank Pavone of Priests for Life in a really terrific article entitled, "Ten Easy Steps to… Voting with a Clear Conscience." The article (which would make an absolutely first-rate e-mail or pass-around piece) is located on the Priests for Life website.

(Note: I was alerted to Fr. Pavone's article earlier today by Fr. Damien Cook, the fairly new Director of Pro-Life Activities for the Omaha diocese. Fr. Cook spoke at a luncheon banquet hosted by the Business and Professional People for Life and he openly admitted taking liberally from Fr. Pavone's article in his talk. Not a bad move. Any of us, even non-Catholics like myself, would do well to season our pro-life presentations with Fr. Pavone's clear and challenging remarks.)

Planned Parenthood Covers Its Tracks

Dawn Eden over at her Dawn Patrol blog pointed out a really fine article about how desperately Planned Parenthood hides from the public the organization's racist, elitist origins. The article appeared in the Louisiana State University campus newspaper and was written by LSU student, Emily Byers. Good job, Emily!

"Human Rights" Organization Gives Highest Honor to Abortion Activist

Here's an example of how "human rights organizations" too frequently ignore the most cruel, unnatural and unjust human rights abuse of all.

Nebraska Voter Information Packet: An Indispensable Citizen Resource

If you are a Nebraska citizen of voting age, you most definitely need to carefully read through the Nebraska Voters Information Packet. Here it is, the most thorough, fair-minded voter information guide you'll find and especially valuable for those who care about the moral/social issues that so many candidates try to dodge.

In addition to using the sidebar at the left of the VIP page to find positions of the candidates, I would urge you to pay attention to the information provided about amendments and initiatives. For instance, regarding Initiative Measure 421 about Video Keno, the VIP siccinctly states:

A vote “FOR” will amend the Nebraska County and City Lottery Act to authorize the use of video keno gaming devices.

A vote “AGAINST” will not cause the Nebraska County and City Lottery Act to be amended to authorize the use of video keno gaming devices.

But the creators of the VIP (very diligent and principled) go further and provide you with more information about the measure as gleaned from both supporters and opponents of the measure. I found particularly interesting this passage from those who, like myself, oppose 421.

"Keep the money in Nebraska” is what the supporters say. But opponents quote a study by Ernest Goss, Ph.D., Creighton University done for the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce 2002. His research showed that just one casino in Omaha would result in a 66% increase in Nebraska gambling losses and take $62 million more out of the State’s economy than is leaving now.

About the lid on state spending (Initiative Measure 423), there was this explanation:

A vote “FOR” will amend the Nebraska Constitution to impose a state spending limit based upon a calculation involving previous appropriations, the inflation rate and population change in Nebraska.

A vote “AGAINST” will not amend the Nebraska Constitution to impose such a state spending limit.


But again, the really useful information comes from the material gleaned from the supporters and opponents of the lid. Example --

What the measure actually says is rather simple. The state government will not be allowed to spend more money than it currently does with built in adjustments for inflation and population growth.

Supporters, including Nebraska Taxpayers (www.netaxpayers.com) say that property taxes will not have to rise and that the idea has been presented before here in Nebraska in other forms. They quote the governor of Colorado saying their state’s measure (TABOR) has been a success.
..

...The governor of Colorado said their TABOR (“ Taxpayer Bill of Rights" adopted there in 1992.) plan was one of the "primary reasons Colorado weathered the recession better than many other states."


Businesses will want to come to where they will not be endangered by excessive taxation. Colorado’s experience in the first decade after TABOR was enacted was that job growth surged at almost double the rate of the previous ten years. For the past 14 years, the American Enterprise Institute has consistently ranked Colorado’s economy first in the nation.


I personally find this argument convincing and, for other resaons as well, plan to vote for this spending lid.


The Nebraska VIP site even has sample ballots to help make your trip to the voting booth easy as pie. Again, you'll find the site right over here.

Montana Election Law Used to Stifle Religious Expression...Even Inside the Church Building!

This from the "I Bet You Never Thought This Kind of Thing Could Happen in America" File:

Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund filed a notice of appeal today in federal court for a case involving a Baptist church accused of violating Montana election law because it did not report to the government when it spoke out on the state’s marriage amendment.

“Churches should not be punished for speaking out on important social issues of the day. After all, that’s a big part of what churches do,” said ADF Legal Counsel Dale Schowengerdt. “We are appealing the district court’s decision in this case because the Constitution should never be construed to require cumbersome reporting requirements in order to exercise First Amendment rights.”


Montana’s commissioner of political practices, Gordon Higgins, asserted that because the church decided to support the state’s marriage amendment initiative, the church “became an incidental political committee under Montana law, with corresponding reporting obligations” (www.telladf.org/news/story.aspx?cid=3702). The leftist group Montanans for Families and Fairness, which filed the complaint against the church, apparently disbanded, and the complainant left Montana.


“The complaint filed against the church was a politically motivated attack designed to muzzle marriage supporters,” said Schowengerdt. “The law is so extreme that it can be triggered by ‘anything of value’--even a penny spent on the church electric bill. Once triggered, the law demands that the church register with the state, comply with comprehensive reporting requirements, and jump through state-mandated organization hoops, as would a political committee.”

Read the rest of this account at the Alliance Defense Fund website.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

On Harry Reid's Crimes, the Democrat's Silence, and the One-Sided View of the "Culture of Corruption"

Very few in the MSM are talking about Harry Reid...but Brent Bozell doesn't run with the herd. Check out his excellent column.

Missing Branches on Darwin's Tree of Life

Darwin called his theory "descent with modification." The phrase reflected Darwin's belief that all organisms are modified descendants of a common ancestor that lived in the distant past. The only illustration in Darwin's book The Origin of Species shows the "tree of life" pattern one would expect to find in the fossil record if his theory were true. The common ancestor would come first, as a single species at the base of the tree. Minor differences among individuals would appear first, and these differences would eventually increase until one species had become two or more.

Differences among species would then grow until some species became so different they would be classed as separate genera; genera would diverge to become separate families, families would diverge to become separate orders, and so on. Eventually differences would become so great that where there had originally been one major division or "phylum," there would now be two. Today there are several dozen animal phyla. The major ones include the nematodes (roundworms), annelids (earthworms and leeches), mollusks (clams and snails), arthropods (lobsters and insects), echinoderms (starfish and sea urchins) and chordates (fishes and mammals).


If Darwin's theory were true, then a long accumulation of minor differences must have preceded the major differences we now see among the animal phyla. As Darwin himself wrote, before the different phyla appeared there must have been "vast periods" during which "the world swarmed with living creatures" (
Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species, Sixth Edition. New York: D, Appleton, 1890, Chapter Ten, p. 83).

In the fossil record, however, most of the major animal phyla appear fully formed at the beginning of the geological period known as the Cambrian, with no fossil evidence that they branched off from a common ancestor.

Darwin was aware of this, acknowledging in The Origin of Species that "several of the main divisions of the animal kingdom suddenly appear in the lowest known fossiliferous rocks." He called this a "serious" problem which "at present must remain inexplicable; and may be truly urged as a valid argument against the views here entertained" (Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species, Sixth Edition. New York: D, Appleton, 1890, Chapter Ten)


Read the rest of this article, "The Scientific Controversy Over the Cambrian Explosion" created by the Center for Science and Culture/Discovery Institute, right here.

A Double Standard in Dealing with Religions

Dennis Prager is "old school." More specifically, he is a throwback to a time when morality mattered, when religious values were honored, and when common sense was...well, much more common than it is today. In other words, Dennis Prager is a man whose sage advice should be listened to very carefully.

In this column, Prager takes a keen look at the double standards used by media reps, government bureaucrats, judges (and other liberals) in treating Christianity and Islam. Very instructive.

The New York Times Distorts History (As Well As The Present)

Of course,

...if you refuse to recognize the scientific realities regarding the humanity of preborn babies;

...if you refuse to acknowledge the barbarity of partial-birth abortion;

...if you deny that parents should have any role in the decisions about their children's sexual activity, birth control and abortion;

...then you certainly won't be bothered about the deliberate, agenda-driven distortion of the historical record.

Read this LifeNews story about the latest travesty of the New York Times. (well, maybe not the latest; after all, they put out an edition this morning.)

Monday, October 16, 2006

Free Theater of Minsk Brings Repressed Voices to America

Here's an interesting story featured on the web site of Radio Free Europe about the Free Theater, a Bealrusian troupe that just had its first American appearance. The actors in this company have paid a stiff price for their championing of artistic and political freedom as the repressive forces of Communist Belarus have come against them with increasing severity.

But the voices of justice are finally beginning to be heard around the world and the artists in the Free Theater are proud to be a part of that challenge.

Strict Interpretation of the Constitution? What a Concept!

Arguing that liberal judges in the past improperly established new political rights such as abortion, [Antonin] Scalia warned, "Someday, you're going to get a very conservative Supreme Court and regret that approach."

"On controversial issues on stuff like homosexual rights, abortion, we debate with each other and persuade each other and vote on it either through representatives or a constitutional amendment," the Reagan appointee said.


"Whether it's good or bad is not my job. My job is simply to say if those things you find desirable are contained in the Constitution," he said.


Here's the CBS News report on Scalia's debate with ACLU president Nadine Strossen.

Pro-Abortion Arguments From A Conservative Source

In going through the Town Hall columns today, I read a fellow who I've only read a time or two before. He is Burt Prelutsky, an author, arts critic and successful writer for television. I haven't cared for his stuff and so he has been one of several there that I skip over without remorse. However, the title of his column today ("The Religious Left") attracted me and I'm glad I read his piece if only to pass along a warning; namely, one has to be careful to scrutinize even those opinions coming from seemingly conservative sources. In this case, the reader who appreciates the strong pro-life convictions of Town Hall columnists like Ann Coulter, Chuck Colson, Brent Bozell, Star Parker, Herman Cain, Marvin Olasky, Jennifer Roback Morse, Cal Thomas, Michelle Malkin, et al must endure the ridiculously naive creed of Mr. Prelutsky. He writes:

...The fact is, I have nothing against Christian fundamentalists. Mainly, I disagree with them on the issue of abortion. But I don’t think that those in the Pro-Life movement are evil, whereas I think those on the other side, those who promote 13 and 14-year-olds having abortions without parental consent, are.

I dislike abortions as a method of birth control, but I think they’re a necessary evil. I’ve heard that upwards of 50 million have taken place since the Roe v. Wade decision. If there’s an upside to that sad statistic, it’s that 50 million unwanted babies weren’t born. That’s an awful lot of kids, most of whom would never be loved, never be adopted -- 50 million kids, a good number of whom would grow up to fill America’s future quota of rapists, pedophiles, and serial killers...


Very bad logic. Very bad philosophy. And a very bad advertisement for Town Hall whose e-mail pitches for financial support are aimed (primarily) at folks who find abortion morally repugnant.

Town Hall should begin to exercise better judgment in this area. For instance, remember my pointing out the other day Kathleen Parker's acceptance of abortions -- when they are "early" enough? She too, as you know, is a Town Hall columnist. And, though I greatly appreciate many of the other national columnists they feature, it is their "big umbrella" philosophy that will keep me from ever answering their calls for financial assistance.

But if Town Hall should be wary, so most definitely should you and I be too. For the "conservative movement" is always in danger of being co-opted by those who care more for their money purses than they do their moral principles. For goodness sakes, how many times do we have to be led down the primrose path before we get hip to how we are being exploited? How many politicians, honored guests at our pro-life banquets and recipients of our enthusiastic endorsements in voter's guides, will continue to give us the weakest, most compromising efforts when they are actually in Washington?

No, you can never let your guard down. And, even when reading a generally conservative source such as Town Hall columns, diligence in discernment is ever the order of the day.

Friday, October 13, 2006

A Hero's Last Moment

May God grant Michael Monsoor's family "the peace that passes understanding." And may He move us all to consider the price that freedom, friendship and faith sometimes requires.

"Tuning Up Your Baloney Detector: Learning to Think Critically"

That's the intriguing topic that Denny Hartford discusses with Probe Ministries' Sue Bohlin in a fun, free-wheeling conversation that you can listen in on right now. You'll find it in the "Vital Signs Weekend" radio vault right here.

In that all-too-quick ten minutes, you'll hear two Christian friends talk about the role of the Bible in a thinking Christian's life, the importance of the right kind of fellowship, and the particular virtues of the Probe Ministries web site. Give it a listen.

“Take it to the Bank: Saving Umbilical Cord Blood for Stem Cell Cures”

On Thursday, October 19, the Nebraska Coalition for Ethical Research is bringing Babies for Life founder and president, Gerry Sotomayor (M.D. OB/GYN) to Omaha to explain how easy it is to save cord blood and to review its amazing life-saving benefits.

The program is entitled “Take it to the Bank: Saving Umbilical Cord Blood for Stem Cell Cures” and will be held at the Thompson Alumni Center (66th and Dodge) on the University of Nebraska-Omaha campus. The event begins with light hors d’oeuvres at 6:30 pm with the program at 7:15 pm.

It is free and open to the public but advance registration would be helpful by calling NCER at 402-690-2299.

ESCR Scientists Admit Failure But Find Another Rationale To Contine Experiments

Thanks to Fr. Jerry Novotny's LifeIssues.net weekly update, I was alerted to a very enlightening article by Peter J. Smith from last month's LifeSite News. I encourage you to read the entire text of the article. In fact, you may even want to pursue the links to related stories which appear at the end. BUt, for those of you in a "quick surf" mode, here's an excerpt:

Scientific researchers are now beginning the tedious task of altering the public’s expectations of the aims of human embryonic stem-cell research, deviating from the primary goals of providing stem-cell therapies to cure diseases. In what amounts to a bait and switch, these researchers, no longer promising immediate theoretical cures for a myriad of diseases desired by a desperate public, are now justifying the research by claiming that human embryonic cells are instead marvelous research tools for investigating the mechanisms of disease rather than actively curing them.

According to the New York Times, a number of scientists continuing medical research on human embryos admit that the inherent difficulties of developing stem-cells from human embryos for therapeutic use place any cures - if possible in the first place - years down the road. Instead these researchers want to switch the primary focus from therapies to drug research or learning about diseases through embryonic stem cell experiments.


“Many of us feel that for the next few years the most rational way forward is not to try to push cell therapies,” said Dr. Jessell, a neurobiologist at Columbia University Medical Center in New York. Dr. Jessell hopes that embryonic stem-cell research will yield drugs for neurodegenerative diseases within the next five years, conceding that a long time must pass before stem-cell based therapies will be considered effective.


Another neurobiologist at Columbia University Medical Center, Dr. Henderson admitted, “We all thought cell therapy first, then many of us realized there were a lot of hurdles to be crossed before that.”


“Stem cell biology is just a rubric that applies to many things going on in biology,” said John D. Gearhart, a stem-cell expert at Johns Hopkins University. “I personally feel that the beauty of these cells is that we’ll learn a lot about human biology and disease processes, and that that information will be more important than the cells themselves.”


However, this latest admission validates the conviction of many scientists and bioethicists who have opposed embryonic stem-cell research on the grounds of the dearth of evidence proving any practical possibility of obtaining the promised cures from embryonic stem cells. Instead embryonic stem-cell research is seemingly being exposed as a playground for scientists pushing this new front in human experimentation...

Free Love Has Its Price

At first glance, Kim Bresnehan, 36, is attractive and vivacious. She has the confidence of a woman who has run her own business and travelled the world. You'd never guess that her friendly personality hides a great sadness and a sense of emptiness - what she calls a 'baby-shaped hole' - in her life.

Her story is a cautionary tale of teenage naivety and carelessness. A symptomless and silent disease she has no memory of contracting ultimately led to the destruction of her marriage and has apparently ended her dreams of having a family.


Kim doesn't know when, but at some point during her teenage years, she was infected with chlamydia, the most commonly diagnosed sexually transmitted disease in Britain.


It has left her infertile, a tragedy which has blighted her life since it was diagnosed in her early 20s.


Her harrowing story will be all too familiar to the tens of thousands diagnosed with this infection every year. In 2005, 110,000 new cases were recorded, and the numbers are rising, particularly in the 16 to 24 age group. Such is the scale of the problem that Boots has announced it is to launch a national chlamydia screening service and will start selling testing kits for £25 from next month.


Read the rest of this Daily Mail (U.K.) story right here.

Only Those Who Haven't Been Aborted Can Sign Petitions

Here's an interesting article originally from the Wall Street Journal but conveniently reprinted over at the Catholic Education Resource Center. It is a clever satire on the Ms. Magazine petition ploy and it is written by a woman who is anything but your typical pro-life advocate.

Indeed, Julia Gorin is a young Jewish writer/blogger/comedienne/Russian emigrant/activist/New Yorker/pit bull owner whose work extends from standup routines, op-ed columns, TV appearances, articles in as diverse publications as Penthouse and Jewish World Review, her own blog, speaker at political events, and more.

Like I said, she's anything but your typical pro-life advocate.

A Particularly Nasty Political Ad Smears Pro-Life Congressman

Here's one of the many examples of dirty politics going round this time of year. It's a nasty TV commercial running against pro-life Congressman Don Sherwood from Pennsylvania which portrays him as heartlessly desiring the deaths of a young man, a middle-aged woman, and a little girl. Why? Though Sherwood has voted for increased funds going to adult stem cell research, he's voted against the immoral (and unproductive anyhow) "research" that kills human embryos.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Preparation for Persecution

Before they persecute you, they paint you as being a malevolent menace to society.

Marvin Olasky describes the bold new moves by the MSM to portray Christians as wild, weird and wickedly dangerous.

"Porker" Republicans Know No Shame

Staring into the abyss of minority status in Congress, Republicans signaled dedication to pork barrel spending before recessing for midterm election campaigning. Behind closed doors, the GOP's King of Pork dressed down the party's leading foe of earmarks. In the open, the last bill passed before the election was filled with carefully hidden pork.

In a caucus of Republican senators, 82-year-old, six-term Sen. Ted Stevens charged that freshman Sen. Tom Coburn's anti-pork crusade hurts the party. Stevens then removed from the final version of the Defense Department appropriations bill Coburn's "report card" requiring the Pentagon to grade earmarks. The House passed, 394 to 22, the bill, stripped of this reform and containing some 2,800 earmarks worth $11 billion. That made a mockery of a "transparency" rule passed by the House earlier this year, supposedly intended to discourage earmarks...


Not ticked off yet? Then read the rest of Bob Novak's column roasting these villains.

"Facing the Giants" Scoring Well...Except With Secularized Critics

Whether you've seen the movie or not, you may be interested in the phenomena represented by the new film, "Facing the Giants." After all, it's not everyday that a genuinely Christian film is made. Nor is it a common occurrence that such a film gets a national release in theater chains, scoring nearly $3 million in less than two weeks.

And still more unique, "Facing the Giants" is a movie created by a local church.

Here's the official web site of the film.

Here is a short article dealing with the strange fact that the Motion Picture Association of America required "Facing the Giants" to bear a "PG" rating because of its evangelistic elements.

Now, of course, an overtly Christian film can expect to be panned by the Hollywood powers that be and by most MSM movie critics. And it has been. But how does one explain the condescending dismissal of "Facing the Giants" found over at Christianity Today? The review there is bad enough but just to make sure you get the message that "Facing the Giants" is a sophomoric, unrealistic religious tract, they print excerpts from several others who pan the film, including some from what they tell us represent the 73% of professional film critics who gave a "thumbs down" to the flick. What's the deal here?

Well, it's not really out of character for CT to pull this kind of stunt. After all, for many years now, CT has loved playing the role of the hip, sophisticated cosmopolitan who clearly outclasses his cloddish, fundamentalist cousins. Therefore, a film made by a Baptist church that openly presents the gospel, one that doesn't pay homage to style, subtlety, nuance, suggestion, complexity and the host of other cinematic buzz words that CT reviewers like to use in talking about real movies, was bound to embarrass these guys.

Shame on them. The team behind "Facing the Giants" wasn't trying to be Bergman or Fellini (Thank the Lord!). They were trying to use the arts to honor God, to encourage Christians, and to interest non-believing moviegoers to consider the life-changing power in the gospel of Christ. And, bless their hearts; they did so with great skill and success. For CT (and the other religious curmudgeons they cite) to ignore those essential facts and instead focus on the differences between the film and the "regular" Hollywood tripe was petty and sadly misdirected.

So...

If you're the kind who does like reading about movies, let me recommend the following who give "Facing the Giants" a much fairer, more respectful hearing. One. Two. Three. And, last but not least, Four. Check 'em out.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Looking for Change?

The Vital Signs Blog is introducing today a brand new feature -- one which we believe will greatly enhance and expand its usefulness to web surfers like yourself.

It is a topical index, located a little ways down on the left sidebar, which will allow you to pursue a particualr area of interest. We may tweak it a little bit in the days to come but I think you'll find it quite helpful.

In addition, the switch of this blog to the new beta format that Blogger started offering seems to have included an improvement on their old search capabilities. Very Nice. That too should be a nice help, allowing a visitor to use a single word or phrase to bring up posts of a very specific nature.

We have a couple more improvements in mind for Vital Signs Blog and, of course, we will keep you "posted" on them as they arrive. Thanks for making us a regular spot in your internet travels.

American Courts Again Fail To Protect the Innocent

Here's a couple disappointing stories dealing with abortion and the courts. One concerns surgical abortion, the other abortion by chemical poisons -- but both underscore the irrationality, injustice and wickedness which underlies the motivation to get rid of innocent and helpless human beings.

* The Supreme Court rejects a bid to re-open Doe vs Bolton.

* A federal judge decided that an Ohio law limiting (not outlawing) the sale of the dangerous abortion drug, RU-486 was unconstitutional.

Sigh.

Embryonic Stem Cell Research Remains a Dead End

The use of embryonic stem cells for medical treatments has not only proven unpromising but, according to some scientists working in the field of stem cell research, the practice is actually counterproductive. From Australia, where the debate is raging over cloning, comes this news story.

Professor James Sherley
[shown at left], a researcher in the field of adult stem cells, is one of a series of experts in Canberra to lobby MPs ahead of a conscience vote on whether a ban on therapeutic cloning should be overturned. Prof. Sherley, from Boston's Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), today said scientists had failed to reveal problems with embryonic stem cells that would prevent them being used in humans.

The unique feature of embryonic stem cells that allowed them to turn into any cell of the body, known as pluripotency, created a problem when researchers injected them into tissue, Prof Sherley said.
“When you put them in an environment where they can grow and develop, they make lots of different kind of tissues,” Prof Sherley said.

“This tumour formation property is an inherent feature of the cells.
And all you have to do is simply inject them into an animal tissue – this happens at very high efficiency. And although some might say we can solve the tumour problem down the road, that's equivalent to saying we can solve the cancer problem and we may, but that's a long time coming...”

Goodbye "Smith"

As you know, I was troubled by the whole setup of the new CBS drama, Smith. Indeed, I wrote this post about it a couple of weeks ago which was even eventually published in Omaha's single newspaper. But it looks like Smith may not be troubling me (or anybody else) any more. After just three episodes, CBS has yanked it off the air, using the Tuesday evening slot instead for re-runs of other shows.

Now, mind you, CBS isn't using the word "canceled" yet -- that sounds so terminal; but neither have they suggested when, if ever, they might try to at least air those expensive episodes already filmed.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Hey Big Spenders! Spend a Little Time with...True Conservatives.

Will the spending orgy of George Bush and the G.O.P. (and the accompanying neglect of social issues) result in such a tide of disaffection from conservative voters that Democrats will regain control of Congress? Bruce Bartlett fears that very scenario may well come to pass.

Top Ten Democratic Sex Scandals

Two wrongs do not make a right. And sinful behavior from Mr. Foley or anyone else can never be excused just because "everybody else is doing it."

With this being said, however, it is instructive to note how radically different the mainstream media treats scandalous actions -- depending on the political party affiliation of the alleged miscreants. Therefore, to rekindle your memories, take a gander at Human Events' "Top Ten Democratic Sex Scandals" and you'll quickly realize how little hay was made about them by the MSM.

10. Sen. Daniel Inouye. The 82-year-old Hawaii Democrat was accused in the 1990s by numerous women of sexual harassment. Democrats cast doubt on the allegations and the Senate Ethics Committee dropped its investigation.

9. Former Rep. Gus Savage. The Illinois Democrat was accused of fondling a Peace Corps volunteer in 1989 while on a trip to Africa. The House Ethics Committee decided against disciplinary action in 1990.


8. Rep. Barney Frank. The outspoken Massachusetts Democrat hired a male prostitute who ran a prostitution service from Frank’s residence in the 1980s. Only two Democrats in the House of Representatives voted to censure him in 1990.

7. Former Sen. Brock Adams. The late Washington Democrat was forced to stop campaigning after numerous accusations of drugging, assault and rape, the first surfacing in 1988.


6. Former Rep. Fred Richmond. This New York Democrat was arrested in 1978 for soliciting sex from a 16-year-old. He remained in Congress and won re-election—before eventually resigning in 1982 after pleading guilty to tax evasion and drug possession.


5. Former Rep. John Young. The late Texas Democrat increased the salary of a staffer after she gave in to his sexual advances. The congressman won re-election in 1976 but lost two years later.

4. Former Rep. Wayne Hays. The late Ohio Democrat hired an unqualified secretary reportedly for sexual acts. Although he resigned from Congress, the Democratic House leadership stalled in removing him from the Administration Committee in 1976.


3. Former Rep. Gerry Studds. He was censured for sexual relationship with underage male page in 1983. Massachusetts voters returned him to office for six more terms.

2. Former Rep. Me
l Reynolds. The Illinois Democrat was convicted of 12 counts of sexual assault with a 16-year-old. President Bill Clinton pardoned him before leaving office.

1. Sen. Teddy Kennedy. The liberal Massachusetts senator testified in defense of nephew accused of rape, invoking his family history to win over the jury in 1991.

Can You Be Against Abortion But Still Pro-Choice?

Father William Saunders is dean of the Notre Dame Graduate School of Christendom College and pastor of Our Lady of Hope Parish in Sterling, Virginia. This practical article, "Against Abortion, But Pro-Choice?" was originally written for the Arlington Catholic Herald.

Genuine Health Care NaProTECHNOLOGY®

Published in the spring edition of The Forum, Sr. Renée Mirkes (OSF, PhD) has written an excellent review of Natural Procreative Technology, the remarkably effective system of monitoring a woman's gynecologic system that has been developed by our good friend and heroic pro-life physician, Dr. Thomas Hilgers from the Pope Paul Institute.

This approach (NaProTECHNOLOGY®) emphasizes genuine health care rather than the all-too-common practices in gynecological practice involving powerful drugs which only mask problems that then go untreated. You can read this article right here.

Elderly Patients Used for Experimentation in Israel

...At least four doctors at Hartzfeld and Kaplan became known as geriatrics experts on the basis of research allegedly based on illegal experiments. Some doctors submitted articles to medical journals in Israel and abroad on the basis of the experiments, which appear to have provided a foundation for their professional and academic advancement.

The Health Ministry report found that doctors violated the law by experimenting on patients who either did not provide consent or were not mentally capable of providing consent. Some of the experiments did not have any medical or scientific benefit, and some were conducted even though senior doctors warned that they were illegal and unethical...


Here's a preview of the next terrible stage in medicine, the experimentation on live human beings without their knowledge or consent. What the Allies properly viewed as wicked science following World War II, Western culture is now moving towards in headlong, headstrong fashion.

But after all, we've accepted the most gruesome brutality and murder towards preborn human life and we've broken the formerly unthinkable strictures regarding human engineering. We've even embraced euthanasia as a positive good.

So why not tempt a holy God in Whose image we were created just a little further by using the elderly as previous scientists used lab rats?

Friday, October 06, 2006

The Congressional Scandal the MSM Is Ignoring

Follow the money.

Chuck Colson looks at the maleficent wheeling and dealing of "Papa Pork" Murtha and asks why on earth reporters aren't interested in this tale of wickedness and woe.

You'll have to hold your nose while you read this piece...but do read it.

20th Century Fox Acknowledges Religious Audience

Sharon Waxman, writing for the New York Times, explains how Hollywood has suddenly become aware of a very profitable audience it had begun to leave behind:

...Hollywood took another step toward America's vast and apparently growing Christian audience on Tuesday, as 20th Century Fox unveiled a new division, FoxFaith, that will release up to a dozen religious-oriented films each year.

Many of the films, with budgets ranging from about $3 million to $20 million each, will be released straight to DVD. But the studio said that at least six a year would be released nationally in theaters by an independent distributor working with Fox, starting on Oct. 6 with "Love's Abiding Joy," a western based on the novel by the Christian writer Janette Oke about a couple facing the trials of life on the American frontier.


"What we're trying to do is create great movies that are story-driven, that happen to tap into Christian values," said Simon Swart, the general manager of Fox's North American home entertainment division.


The move reflects the growing weight of evangelical Christians in popular culture. It is the latest in a series of incremental steps taken by Hollywood studios in recent years to capitalize on the Christian audience...


Read the rest of this article here.

What Ms. Magazine Will NOT Publish

Kathleen Parker has a column here dealing with the move by Ms. Magazine and others to make abortion hip. I print below part of Parker's commentary. However, I also must point out the very disappointing (and very dangerous) conclusion of the article, one in which Parker severely compromises her argument and brands herself as terribly naive and inconsistent. Be sure and read that portion too.

First, the well founded part of Parker's column...

...On Wednesday, Smeal told MSNBC's Tucker Carlson that abortion is "a medical procedure, that's obvious."

Actually, it's not obvious. Abortion certainly involves medical personnel and equipment, but the result is something more than merely medical. It is also human — or more to the point — inhuman.


To put an accurate face on abortion would require something that strict pro-choicers refuse to acknowledge: That abortion really has three faces — that of the mother, the father, and that of the ... what do we call it? Fetus is so South Park these days. How about the quirky "products of conception from your termination"?


That's how hospital administrators a few years ago in Glasgow, Scotland, labeled the post-abortion remains from Nicola McManus, who had induced the miscarriage of her nineweek-old "baby," as I prefer to call it, upon taking the RU486 "abortion pill."


McManus was startled to discover the remains in a jar resting on a shelf in her hospital room. Her outrage at the careless hospital staff brought tears and the sort of statement Ms. & Co. prefer not to hear: "Women need more counseling before abortions, not less," said McManus. "I will never get over what happened to me."


A nine-week-old fetus, for the record, has a heartbeat, a closed circulatory system, a respiratory system, eyes, ears and brain function. She can't go shopping yet, but she can squint, swallow, move her tongue and make a fist. She is not, in other words, "just a clump of cells."


The problem with petitions and "I Had An Abortion" T-shirts, such as those hawked by Planned Parenthood, is that they trivialize the deeply emotional and spiritual consequences many women suffer. They also deny girls and young women access to the nobler feminist position that knowledge is power...

And now the sad and irrational concession...

...Now for the painful disclaimer I hinted at above. It begins with "Nevertheless," and ends with "I am reluctantly pro-choice." The very bottom line is that abortion ultimately is a personal decision. That said, I favor far stricter limits than most pro-choicers, beginning with "six weeks and time's up."

I figure 42 days is enough time for a gal to figure out whether she's up for motherhood. It's not a perfect solution, but it's a sane remedy to appalling recklessness.


As I differ with pro-choicers, I also differ with pro-lifers who insist that once abortion is outlawed, hearts and minds will follow. It is more likely that abortion will continue, but will become more dangerous and even more hideous...

Sigh.

How can the killing of a preborn boy or girl be "more hideous" depending merely on the time when he or she is destroyed? Why is an early murder better than a later one?

As she shows in the early part of this article, Parker sees through the silliness of feminist language designed to de-humanize the fetus. Why then does she herself fail so miserably to follow through with the scientific reality and moral relevancy regarding the humanity of the tiny child from conception on?

I fear that Kathleen Parker, one of the well-established conservative voices over at Town Hall, may be trying to sell what she believes to be a new compromise measure. But it is one that the pro-aborts would never accept anyway. And it is one that pro-lifers must not accept -- at the peril of surrendering their foundational ethos.