Friday, August 31, 2007

Today's Posts

Hillary's Freudian Slip-Up

Communist China's Cruel Persecution of Christians: Just One Case Example

Created in the Image of God But Living in the Brave New World

Thinning Kangaroos, No. Thinning Kids, Yes. -- Princeton's Barmy Bioethicist Is At It Again.

AP Story Shines a Light on China's Forced Abortion Policy

Can Any of These Guys Ride the Reagan Horse?

Hillary's Freudian Slip-Up

In the cesspool that Washington has become, truth and clarity still manage to bubble to the surface on occasion.

As Senator Hillary Clinton intensifies and refines her spin, deception, and self-aggrandizement, she inadvertently slipped up in a big way and revealed a truth that will doom her campaign and her party’s chances to reclaim the White House in 2008.

Last week, while campaigning in New Hampshire, Senator Clinton said, “It’s a horrible prospect to ask yourself, ‘What if? What if?’ But if certain things happen between now and the election, particularly with respect to terrorism, that will automatically give the Republicans an advantage again…”

Said comment was immediately attacked by some of her Democratic rivals for the White House. Why? Because they don’t want the voters of America to be reminded that when it comes to terrorism, the Republican candidates are much more willing to do whatever it takes to protect the homeland...

For the rest of Douglas MacKinnon's insightful (and sobering) column, go right here.

Communist China's Cruel Persecution of Christians: Just One Case Example

Do you still think of Communism as that reasoned economic philosophy that your university professor dreamed of? Or perhaps the stirring cause served by "idealists" like John Reed, Leo Trotsky and Che Guevera? Maybe your vision of Communism isn't really material but is more of an ethereal counter-balance to such villains as Joe McCarthy, J. Edgar Hoover, and Ronald Reagan.

However, if you dare, take a look at this one case...just one clear picture of what we know are hundreds of thousands similar to it that reveal the realities of what Communism produces; cruelty, injustice and the extremes of social repression.

Shuang Shuying, a 77-year-old Beijing resident, was sentenced to two years in prison this February for defending human rights and insisting on practicing her religion.

Already in poor health, Shuang endured severe torture whilst incarcerated, causing her weight to plummet from roughly 110 pounds down to just 73 pounds. Shuang has also lost her vision while serving her sentence, leaving her unable to recognize her visiting son. She was left to rely on her limited hearing to communicate.

Shuang's father, Shuang Deli was executed for being an anti-revolutionary in 1949 when the Chinese communist regime took power and confiscated the family's property. The family was made to witness his death. Before the family was able to claim the body, they had to pay for the bullet. History seemed to repeat itself following Shuang's first marriage, as her husband was sentenced to 20 years in a labor camp for being an anti-revolutionary.

To extricate her from the poverty brought about by having her assets taken and family members imprisoned, Shuang married a man named Hua Zaichen. The couple had two boys and one girl. In 1957, Hua was also sent to a labor camp and imprisoned for 20 years. Shuang was forced to raise the children without a father. During the Cultural Revolution, officials demanded that she divorce her imprisoned husband, but Shuang refused. For her disobedience, Shuang was beaten while hanging naked from a pillar by local authorities and made to kneel on a triangular frame.

Shuang's son, Hua Huiqi, became a Christian in 1990. Because of his involvement with the church, he was often followed and beaten by police. Shuang worried about her son's safety, so she accompanied him to his church. Shuang began to learn about Christianity and was later baptized in 1992. Since then, Shuang turned her dwelling into a boarding house for fellow Christians who came to Beijing appealing for their rights. Her service attracted police surveillance and continued harassment.

Because Shuang's house was very close to Tiananmen Square, officials viewed at as a politically defiant dwelling. When Beijing authorities won their bid to host the 2008 Olympic Games, they dismantled Shuang's home claiming that it hurt the "New Beijing, New Olympics"—the slogan chosen for the Games. The family was transferred to another suburb and detained in a facility known as "Guanjiakeng." The police supervised the family 24 hours a day, and frequently beat them...

Read the whole story here in the English-language edition of the Epoch Times.

Created in the Image of God But Living in the Brave New World

Over on you can (and you should!) read the full text of the superlative commencement speech delivered by Dr. Leon Kass to St. John's College, in Annapolis, Maryland last spring. Dr. Kass, physician, philosopher, professor and the former chairman of the President Bush's Council for Bioethics, presents a learned, stirring moral exhortation that all Americans would do well to heed.

Drawing from Aldous Huxley's Brave New World, William Shakespeare's The Tempest, and the dramatic new developments in genetic engineering, Dr. Kass effectively bears down on the central question of what it means to be created in the image of God. It is a terrific, compelling speech, one you might want to copy off and pass around to those you care about.

...The greatest moral challenges headed our way do not in fact come from hate-filled fanatics threatening death and destruction. They come rather from well meaning scientists and technologists offering life, pleasure, and enhancement. They are the by-products of modernity’s noble and humanitarian quest to conquer nature for the relief of man’s estate. They are, in a word, the challenges of bioethics, challenges to our humanity arising from burgeoning new technological powers to intervene in the bodies and minds of human beings...

...Human nature itself lies on the operating table, ready for alteration, for eugenic and psychic "enhancement," for wholesale redesign. In leading laboratories new creators are confidently amassing their powers and quietly honing their skills, while on the street their evangelists are zealously prophesying a post-human future. For anyone who cares about preserving our humanity, the time has come to pay attention.

Some transforming powers are already here. The Pill. In vitro fertilisation. Bottled embryos. Surrogate wombs. Cloning. Genetic screening. Genetic manipulation. Organ harvesting. Mechanical spare parts. Chimeras. Brain implants. Ritalin for the young, Viagra for the old, Prozac for everyone. And, to leave this vale of tears, a little extra morphine accompanied by Muzak...

...Defensible step by defensible step, we are getting used to our own transformation. To conquer infertility or to improve the genetic make-up of our children, we are becoming comfortable with turning procreation into manufacture, looking upon our children less as gifts to be treasured, more as products to be perfected. To conquer disease, we are becoming comfortable treating human embryos as a natural resource or allowing commerce in human tissues and organs, looking upon embodied life not as a mystery to be respected but as a mere instrument of our will.

To augment our achievements, we are becoming comfortable with drug-enhanced athletic or academic performance, accepting the divorce of deed from doer and achievement from human effort. To acquire endless lives with ageless bodies for ourselves, we are becoming comfortable ignoring the risks to our souls and the need to give way to the next generation. To the extent that we come to accept as normal what is in fact perverse, we shall have lost the ability to see how we have been diminished. Dehumanised thought paves the way for a dehumanised world.

Dehumanised thinking is encouraged not only by technological transformations of our humanity but also and more fundamentally by scientific efforts to explain it away. An increasingly unified approach to human biology -- evolutionist, materialist, determinist, mechanistic, and objectified -- combining powerful ideas from genetics, developmental biology, neuroscience, and evolutionary psychology, is deliberately attempting a revolution in human self-understanding.

Evolutionary theory denies our special standing among the animals: since all animals are finally in the same business -- individual survival, for the sake of perpetuating their genes -- we are said to be simply a more complicated model for getting the job done. Materialist explanations of vital, even psychic, events leave no room for soul, life’s animating principle.

Deterministic and mechanistic accounts of brain function banish speech about human freedom and purposiveness. A fully objectified and exterior account of our behaviour diminishes the significance of our felt inwardness. Feeling, passion, awareness, imagination, desire, love, and thought are, scientifically speaking, equally and merely "brain events".

Never mind "created in the image of God": what elevated humanistic view of human life or human goodness is defensible against the belief, trumpeted by biology’s most public and prophetic voices, that man is just a collection of molecules, an accident on the stage of evolution, a freakish speck of mind in a mindless universe, fundamentally no different from other living -- or even non-living -- things?

What chance have our treasured ideas of freedom and dignity against the reductive notion of "the selfish gene," the belief that DNA is the essence of life, or the teaching that all human behaviour and our rich inner life are rendered intelligible only in terms of neurochemistry or their contributions to species survival and reproductive success?

Will we be able to respond to the practical dangers of the Brave New World and the theoretical challenges of the Bold New Biology? Everything depends on whether we can, first of all, recognise the dangers they pose and then discover the errors of their ways...

Thinning Kangaroos, No. Thinning Kids, Yes. -- Princeton's Barmy Bioethicist Is At It Again.

Wesley J. Smith comments on the irony (no, that's way too mild a word for it) of infamous Princeton bioethicist Dr. Peter Singer's opposition to thinning the overpopulated kangaroo herds in Australia while maintaining his enthusiasm for thinning the ranks of "problem" humans.

AP Story Shines a Light on China's Forced Abortion Policy

"Speaking out for the baby"

Wow. That was the sub-heading at the conclusion of this abortion-related article that confirmed it to be quite different than what is usually served up by the mainstream media on the subject. I urge you to read through it too and see if you agree.

The specific issue under consideration is forced abortion, the horrendous human rights abuse with which Communist China targets her own citizens. But the story isn't done by Focus on the Family or National Review; it is a report done by the Associated Press and is published, in this case, at MSNBC.

Like I said -- wow.

Here are the first few paragraphs:

Qian'an, China - Yang Zhongchen, a small-town businessman, wined and dined three government officials for permission to become a father. But the Peking duck and liquor weren’t enough. One night, a couple of weeks before her date for giving birth, Yang’s wife was dragged from her bed in a north China town and taken to a clinic, where, she says, her baby was killed by injection while still inside her.

“Several people held me down, they ripped my clothes aside and the doctor pushed a large syringe into my stomach,” says Jin Yani, a shy, petite woman with a long ponytail. “It was very painful. ... It was all very rough.”

Some 30 years after China decreed a general limit of one child per family, resentment still brews over the state’s regular and sometimes brutal intrusion into intimate family matters. Not only are many second pregnancies aborted, but even to have one’s first child requires a license.

Seven years after the dead baby was pulled from her body with forceps, Jin remains traumatized and, the couple and a doctor say, unable to bear children. Yang and Jin have made the rounds of government offices pleading for restitution — to no avail...

Can Any of These Guys Ride the Reagan Horse?

Ronald Reagan was beloved by conservatives because he was "right" in all three areas of critical concern to the group -- the moral issues, the fiscal issues, and the national defense issues. Indeed, his leadership on all of these fronts was energetic, sincere and remarkably effective. Why then hasn't there been someone among the current crop of Republican presidential candidates to carefully follow Reagan's lead or, at least, to convince the public that they can really pull it off?

Tony Perkins from the Family Research Council speaks to this problem in this brief Wall Street Journal Online video interview. It is entitled, "Not Living Up to Reagan," and you can find the clip on this page.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Today's Posts

Christianity: What's To Be Afraid Of?

Things the Media Hasn't Got Round to Telling Us Yet # 683: Most Scientists Do Not "Warm" to Global Warming Hysteria

That Rarest of Birds, the White-Breasted Pro-Life Democrat

EU President: Europe's Relationship with Russia Tied to "Quality of Democracy"

The Larry Craig Case: Another Sad Example of Media Hypocrisy and Selective Judgment

Christianity: What's To Be Afraid Of?

The liberals' irrational fear of religion and especially their utter lack of gratitude for the blessed fruits of American culture created by Christianity are the subjects of a fine article printed yesterday by the Catoosa County News (Georgia). Entitled "Fear Itself: The Inexplicable Phobia towards Christianity," its writer is historian and blogger Jeff O’Bryant.

O'Bryant's ongoing comments on culture and politics can be found at In both the linked article and at the blog, I think you'll find invigorating reading.

Things the Media Hasn't Got Round to Telling Us Yet # 683: Most Scientists Do Not "Warm" to Global Warming Hysteria

Sshhh. Don't tell Al Gore but...

...A July 2007 review of 539 abstracts in peer-reviewed scientific journals from 2004 through 2007 that found that climate science continues to shift toward the views of global warming skeptics.

Here's the piece from the web site of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. (Hat tip/ Drudge Report)

That Rarest of Birds, the White-Breasted Pro-Life Democrat

Is there really such a thing as a pro-life Democrat politician any more? And, if so, do we need a Jim Fowler to take us back into the lonely wilderness to see how such a rare bird lives?

Well, maybe not. For as scarce a creature as the pro-life Democrat politician is, Tom McFeely has found a few of them in Washington. They're flying low, no doubt about it, and they're often flying into dangers set up by their own party, but they are there and Mr. McFeely describes their plight in this very interesting article in the National Catholic Register.

So what is it like serving as a pro-life Congressional Democrat in the current Democrat-controlled Congress?

“We’re back in the majority,” said Rep. Bart Stupak of Michigan, the Democratic co-chairman of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus. “And now suddenly the fact that I’m a pro-life Democrat … it’s back to making life real difficult for me, let’s put it like that.”

Stupak said that he has been punished for his views. Language that he sought to have included in a couple of recent bills, on matters unrelated to pro-life issues, was stripped from the bills, without any explanation being given to him.
Said Stupak, “A couple of people have told me it’s because I have pro-life views, some of the pro-choice committee chairs and subcommittee chairs – no matter how reasonable the language was – will not help me.”

According to Stupak
[photo at left], he faced similar problems after being first elected to Congress in 1992, during the last period that the Democrats controlled the House. He says the party leadership at the time blocked him from serving on the Energy and Commerce committee, because it oversees the subcommittee that deals with abortion-related legislation...

Stupak said he coordinates “all the time” with Chris Smith about pending bills and other areas where joint action can advance the pro-life cause. As well, the Democratic members of the Congressional Pro-life Caucus meet regularly among themselves and periodically caucus together with the much larger contingent of pro-life Republicans. Stupak said that there are around 30 pro-life Democrats who participate in the pro-life caucus.

The bipartisan caucus also sponsors educational seminars to raise awareness of pro-life issues among all congressmen. “One we did a few years ago that I thought was quite successful was Silent No More, with ladies who had abortions in their youth and the pain they feel,” he said. “We try to make members – both ‘life’ and ‘choice’ members – aware of some of the issues.”...

Pro-life Democrats comprise a significant minority among the 232 Democrats in the House. According to David O’Steen, executive director of National Right to Life, the number of reliably pro-life votes is in the upper teens, ranging as high as the upper 30s on some pro-life issues.
Along with Stupak, O’Steen named Collin Peterson and Jim Oberstar of Minnesota, Mike McIntyre of North Carolina, Lincoln Davis of Tennessee, and Alan Mollohan of West Virginia, and Gene Taylor of Mississippi as some of the leading Democratic pro-lifers in the House.

In contrast, according to National Right to Life’s tracking of Senate voting records, there is only one reliably pro-life Democratic Senator: Nebraska’s Ben Nelson...

EU President: Europe's Relationship with Russia Tied to "Quality of Democracy"

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said on Wednesday the strength of the EU's ties with Moscow depended on the quality of democracy in Russia.

European Union countries and the United States have accused Russia of rolling back democracy by stopping anti-Kremlin protests this year in the build-up to a parliamentary election in December and a presidential election in March.

Asked how tension between Russia and the EU could be eased, Barroso told Le Figaro daily in an interview: "The fact that our relations aren't good does not mean that our strategy is bad.
"It can mean that this country is experiencing internal problems. We must first remain firm in our ... respect for human rights," he said on the newspaper's Web site.

Barroso said it was "strange" that in a country where security forces were so strong, so many journalists were killed and the murderers not arrested.

"The quality of the relation we will have with Russia will depend on the quality of democracy in Russia," Barroso said...
( Source: Croatia's's English language version)

The Larry Craig Case: Another Sad Example of Media Hypocrisy and Selective Judgment

There is something more than a little bizarre with the latest Washington feeding frenzy over Sen. Larry Craig. Don't get me wrong. I think what Sen. Craig did in the men's bathroom in Minneapolis was gross and sleazy. But is it really worthy of the press attention it has received this week? I just can't imagine a Democratic member of Congress being subjected to the same treatment if the facts, as we know them so far, were identical...

Sen. Craig would have been better advised to remain silent on his sex life, but the media hypocrisy in this affair is at least as troubling as Sen. Craig's.

On the one hand, the media generally regards sexual orientation as a private matter, moreover one that is morally neutral. But because Sen. Craig is a conservative, although not someone who has had a history of gay-bashing, the media have had no qualms about violating his privacy. Indeed, Craig's home newspaper, the Idaho Statesman, spent five months delving into the senator's sex life.

Sen. Craig's political career is probably over. The abuse of power, however, was not Sen. Craig's but the media's, who pick and choose whose privacy they will violate on a partisan basis.

Read the entirety of Linda Chavez' column here.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Today's Posts

"Battles Are Ugly When Women Fight" -- C.S. Lewis Trumped by Modernity

How Does God Spell "Success"?

Sneaking Into Town

Rick Pearcey on the "Religion" of Diversity

Is "God's Warriors" Enough to Create a CNN Backlash?

Risky Behavior Indeed: 20 Million Condoms Recalled

"Battles Are Ugly When Women Fight" -- C.S. Lewis Trumped by Modernity

First, and simply, I suggest that there is no manly virtue in causing or intentionally allowing the inherent beauty and charm of young womanhood to be grievously disfigured by physical and psychic wounds of war. Nor is there any moral imperative that obliges an infant daughter to surrender her mother for long deployments or forever, as a dead crew"man" on the USS Cole, for example – whose former C.O. later said, "...we didn't have women; we had sailors." Thus, he expressed the modern diversity doctrine’s “gender-blindness.” Perhaps the Christian sage and veteran soldier, C. S. Lewis, had something relevant in mind when in The Chronicles of Narnia, "Father Christmas" instructs Lucy not to fight in the battle, because "battles are ugly when women fight."

(Significantly, the popular Narnia film’s director was uneasy about audience response to such a “sexist” statement, so he simply revised it, to: “…battles are ugly.”)

Let’s consider a question, unasked and unanswered in behalf of the American body politic by the predominantly male Congress that integrated all federal military academies in 1976: "By what high principle might honorable, kind and loving men encourage and enroll women in the armed forces to kill and be killed on their behalf?

What respectable criterion (if any) of national and personal manhood is expressed by men's dependence on women to confront and kill mortal enemies – for the protection, safety and comfort of able men at ease? Boys and girls, juveniles, depend on their mothers to guard and protect them; but we men?...

Navy Captain (Ret.) Robert H. Miller writes a compelling piece (with a lot more to think about even than this provocative opening) which is printed in full at Reasoned Audacity, the fine conservative blog hosted by Jack & Charmaine Yoest. That essay, and Jack's intro to it, is right here.

How Does God Spell "Success"?

CPC counselor, Jeannie Vogel, has some wise and winning words applicable for all Christian pro-lifers in this article published in At The Center.

Sneaking Into Town

You've perhaps heard of the flap going on over in Aurora, Illinois, over the most sordid, sneaky and sinister "business" of all moving into their town. I'm talking, of course, about Planned Parenthood who is bringing to Aurora not only their promotion of dangerous sexual practices but also their surgical and chemical abortionists.

Well, near to the action there is Illinois pro-life advocate, Jill Stanek, who brings us up to speed in this World Net Daily article about just how sneaky PP was in securing their site. In fact, Jill's blog post right here offers even more detailed documentation.

Rick Pearcey on the "Religion" of Diversity

"Diversity" is one of secularized America's favorite pretended absolutes. God has been declared dead to public life, including learning, so something has to take His place. Human beings and human societies, atheist or otherwise, cannot operate without a center of gravity.

"Diversity" is making a go of it. A host of freethinking worshippers have bowed the knee, in the name of education, the group, "my truth," tolerance, and humility. Some apparently do not realize that diversity without unity leads to chaos. It is anything but a strength...
(Rick Pearcey, "If Diversity Is King")

Read the rest of Rick Pearcey's engaging and profound essay over at Pro-Existence.

Is "God's Warriors" Enough to Create a CNN Backlash?

The next time you're in an airport (or a coffe shop, or a doctor's waiting room, or a service station, etc.) and are forced to endure a CNN television broadcast, remember Christiane Amanpour's diabolical hit piece, “God’s Warriors.” It just might make make you angry enough to do something -- something sensible and relevant, like telling (or writing) someone in authority that you would rather not be forced to view CNN in their place of business.

Therefore, 1) to remind you of just what Amanpour's dangerously distorted "documentary" was all about, read Joseph Puder's article, "Christiane's Nonsense Network," over at FrontPage Magazine; and

2) to remind you of how to go about registering your calm complaints to people that matter concerning CNN's annoying omnipresence, look again at this Vital Signs Blog post, "Air Travelers: CNN's Captive Audience," from September 2006.

Risky Behavior Indeed: 20 Million Condoms Recalled

Uh...about that insistence that condoms are the most effective means of combatting AIDS in Africa, did you notice the recall of 20,000,000 of them because they failed to meet several standard tests for strength, pressure and so on? Other elements in this story are bribery, corruption and fraud with a South Africa government bureaucrat and two directors of the manufacturing company (makers of such appropriately named condom products as "Randy Rat") under arrest.

Though loudly touted to be the means of "safe sex," innumerable studies over many years show that condom use does not eliminate the very dangerous health risks of sexually transmitted diseases -- and that's even when the condoms have passed such scrutiny as that required by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

In fact, the FDA openly admits in the relevant section of their web site -- There's no absolute guarantee [that you won't contract a STD] even when you use a condom. But most experts believe that the risk of getting AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases can be greatly reduced if a condom is used properly. In other words, sex with condoms isn't totally "safe sex,"but it is "less risky" sex.

Yeah, thanks. This isn't much comfort for the legion of folks who trusted the advice of government, school officials, peers and media and used condoms in their casual sexual patterns -- only to discover their bodies had yet been infected with any one of a number of non-curable STDs.

This kind of advice always reminds me of those altruistic hippies in the 60s who instructed novice mind travellers in how to take "less risky" LSD trips or how "responsible" drunks try to drive slow and avoid interstates or busy intersections on their drive home from the party, making it "less risky" that they might kill innocent people on the way.

No, dangerous behavior should be honestly, forcefully and repeatedly called what it is. Political and moral opinions aside, objective standards of science and medical health require the candid admission that intimate contact (especially when there is exchange of bodily fluids) creates risks of contracting STDs. And these risk factors multiply exponentially when the activity is promiscuous (many partners) or even when only one of the partners has a record of promiscuity.

With all this said then, it hardly needs mentioning that a South African boy and girl depending only on a "Randy Rat" to keep them safe are in very big trouble indeed.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Today's Posts

This Just In: Legal Ethics Ain't What They Oughta' Be

Have You Had Your Lucianne Latte Today?

"There Are Red Lights All Over" This Hillary Funding Situation

Pro-Life "Declarationist" Michael Moriarty Endorses Fred Thompson

Judge Usurps Legislature; Let's Planned Parenthood Have It's Way

Another Catholic Church Leader Leaves Amnesty International Over Abortion

This Just In: Legal Ethics Ain't What They Oughta' Be

Tom Finnigan posts the following over at The Heritage Foundation's Policy Blog, alerting us to what looks like an interesting story (but one you won't be able to get to unless you're registered).

In today’s New York Times, Adam Liptak has a good article about how judges protect and empower lawyers. He writes, “Judges favor complexity and legalism over efficient solutions, and they have no appreciation for what economists call transaction costs. They are aided in this by lawyers who bill by the hour and like nothing more than tasks that take a lot of time and cost their clients a lot of money.”

The legal profession is self-regulating, and judges are determined to protect it in a way that no other professions enjoy. The article mentions several examples. A New Jersey appeals court recently decided that lawyers are blameless even when they know their clients are pushing baseless lawsuits to harass the other side.

Not immune from vainglory, judges also love “public interest” cases that afford them the opportunity to weigh in on the grand issues of the day. Even some judges recognize this problem. Dissenting from a supposed “free speech” decision that involved a college newspaper article from 1997 and a trivial amount of money, one judge wrote: “this is not a case that should occupy the mind of a person who has anything consequential to do.”

Have You Had Your Lucianne Latte Today?

Always relevant, comprehensive and up-to-date in her links to today's news stories, Lucianne Goldberg and her crack team are also quick with the hip, frequently humorous intros to those links that help provide the sanity check we all need while surfing through the craziness of modern culture.

For instance, in today's "Must-Reads" section, you'll see:

* Idaho Senator Pleads Guilty After Airport Arrest
Scroll down for foot signals. Did you know about foot signals?
We didn't know about foot signals

* Washington Post, Other Newspapers Won't Run
Opus' Cartoon Mocking Radical Islam

Had no problem ridiculing Jerry Falwell a week earlier

* Bill Clinton to Be Interviewed by Oprah
Warning to diabetics...stay away

and more.

So, check it out and get in the Lucianne habit. It will be one of the tastiest parts of your day.

"There Are Red Lights All Over" This Hillary Funding Situation

Speaking of the unusual pattern of big-money donations coming out of 41 Shelbourne Ave in Daly City, California, Kent Cooper, a former disclosure official with the Federal Election Commission, said "There are red lights all over this one."

And big-money it is:

Six members of the Paw family, each listing the house at 41 Shelbourne Ave. as their residence, have donated a combined $45,000 to the Democratic senator from New York since 2005, for her presidential campaign, her Senate re-election last year and her political action committee. In all, the six Paws have donated a total of $200,000 to Democratic candidates since 2005, election records show...

...It isn't obvious how the Paw family is able to afford such political largess. Records show they own a gift shop and live in a 1,280-square-foot house that they recently refinanced for $270,000. William Paw, the 64-year-old head of the household, is a mail carrier with the U.S. Postal Service who earns about $49,000 a year, according to a union representative. Alice Paw, also 64, is a homemaker. The couple's grown children have jobs ranging from account manager at a software company to "attendance liaison" at a local public high school. One is listed on campaign records as an executive at a mutual fund...

Read the rest of this intriguing story at the Wall Street Journal Online right here.

Pro-Life "Declarationist" Michael Moriarty Endorses Fred Thompson

"Whoever does occupy the White House will not overturn Roe v. Wade, nor will he or she put the dictatorial Supreme Court in its place.

"However, I will personally vote for Mr. Fred Thompson and help his campaign as best I can, but I don't believe his entrance into this campaign ever carried enough pro-life commitment to do the job that has to be done. In addition, since the Republican Party has been so corrupted by the Nixon/Kissinger years, such corruption is too profound for one Republican as President to overcome.

"Contained in the human rights paragraph of the Declaration of Independence, the one beginning 'We hold these truths to be self-evident,' are the very essential ingredients to the meaning of America. Anything that veers or attempts to deny the self-evident truths contained therein is to my mind un-American. Therefore the Clinton Democrats, better known as Progressives, and the Giuliani Republicans, Progressives incognito, both have, to my mind, become profoundly disloyal to the meaning of their own birthplace.

"As a Declarationist, I declare unequivocally that all men are created equal. They are not gestated as possible candidates for abortion. They are no more eligible for abortion than African Americans are automatically eligible for slavery.

"The fundamental rights contained in that human rights paragraph are 'inalienable.' Nothing a Progressive Clintonite can say or do will ever re-write the human rights paragraph of the Declaration of Independence. No dance that Rudolph Giuliani may want to perform around his 'strict constructionist' alibi for not really being pro-abortion, none of his high stepping can re-write his proven record as a pro-abortionist."

(Emmy and Golden Globe winning actor Michael Moriarty in his recent endorsement of fellow Law & Order star Fred Thompson for President.) (Note: you may want to re-read this Vital Signs Blog post from last January for a bit of background: "Michael Moriarty Sounds Off on the Supreme Court, Eugenics, Abortion and a Whole Lot More.")

Judge Usurps Legislature; Let's Planned Parenthood Have It's Way

U.S. District Judge Ortrie Smith [photo at right] has temporarily blocked a new Missouri law designed to require abortion clinics to meet the same standards as other outpatient surgery centers. Once again, a helpful, just and common-sense law (duly and responsibly passed by legislators) has been blocked by the action of one man.

Guys, the founding fathers didn't draw it up this way.

Naturally, Planned Parenthood was "very pleased" with the ruling. But Jane Drummond, director of the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, said the judge's order could put the health of women at risk.

"We are concerned that blocking this law will endanger the health and safety of women. But she added, "We are encouraged that the judge has set the preliminary injunction hearing so quickly so that we have a full opportunity to present our evidence."

Here's a brief report.

Another Catholic Church Leader Leaves Amnesty International Over Abortion

As the Telegraph (U.K.) reports, Cardinal Keith O'Brien has written to the Scottish director of Amnesty International, "The recent decision by the International Council of Amnesty International to support the decriminalisation of abortion and to defend women's access to abortion has forced me to reconsider my membership of this noble organisation.

"As a matter of conscience and with great sadness I have decided to resign from Amnesty International having first joined as a student and supported it over many decades.

"Throughout my priestly ministry and more recently as Archbishop and Cardinal I have shown my desire along with my Church to defend life in all its aspects."

Cardinal O'Brien recently outraged pro-abortion zealots by comparing the U.K.'s abortion rate to "two Dunblane massacres a day," referring to the crazed killings at a Scottish primary school in 1996 which left 18 dead. He has also dared the political-correctness of our day by strongly warning Catholic voters and politicians of the severe spiritual consequences of supporting abortion, an illustration of which you can see in this previous Vital Signs Blog post. Thus, the Cardinal's resignation from Amnesty International is simply a continuance of his pro-life principles and an excellent example for the rest of us.

Therefore, before the dust settles on this latest important defection from its ranks, why not send another letter and/or e-mail along to Amnesty International urging them to immediately change their new (and remarkably counter-productive) stand. You can look at any one of these previous Vital Signs Blog posts for contact information and hints at what to put in your letter. One; two; three; four; etc. Thanks.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Today's Posts

The Sexual Revolution: Where Are the Winners?

Learning the Real Lessons of Vietnam

Scientific Discourse vs Advocacy

D. James Kennedy Formally Retires

Government Education: Spending A Lot More...And Getting A Lot Less

Global Warming: Are The "Cures" Worth It?

Grand Jury Indictment for Dr. Death's Lawyer (Democrat Politician Geoffrey Fieger) for Illegal Campaign Conspiracy in Behalf of John Edwards

Embryonic Stem Cells Repair Human Heart? Not Hardly

The Sexual Revolution: Where Are the Winners?

A store in Los Angeles “does a brisk online business selling ‘Child Pimp and Ho Costumes’ for Halloween.” It’s not children who are buying them—it’s parents buying them for their children. And parents are also buying “Shopping Ho” T-shirts for their toddlers and fishnet stockings for their 8-year-olds.

Two self-identified “women’s studies feminists,” Melinda Gallagher and Emily Kramer, start a group that “hosts parties where women disrobe and bump and grind in order to ‘explore, express, and define sexuality for themselves.’” Other young feminists “have equated ‘dancing at a strip club’ with ‘volunteering at a women’s shelter’ in its potential to ‘radicalize’ women in a positive way.”

Meanwhile, the head of the National Organization for Women, Kim Gandy, refuses to take a decisive stand on the popular Girls Gone Wild videos when asked, snapping, “I think they should [take their clothes off on camera] if they want to! What does that have to do with feminism?”...

Alarmed? You should be.

But these are the fruits of feminism, just a few of the natural consequences that occur when an entire culture rebels against decency, responsibility, religion, and yes, even standards of self-interest.

The paragraphs above, however, come from an excellent Breakpoint article written by Gina Dalfonzo exploring the themes of Wendy Shalit’s new book, Girls Gone Mild: Young Women Reclaim Self-Respect and Find It’s Not Bad to Be Good. I posted an entry here in July linking you to Mona Charen's review of the same book but Dalfonzo brings out a few points that are particularly right-on. Check it out.

Learning the Real Lessons of Vietnam

One of the "must-reads" from this last weekend certainly has to be Mark Steyn's "Withdrawl Recalled," published in the Opinion section of the New York Sun. It begins...

George W. Bush gave a speech about Iraq last week, and in the middle of it he did something long overdue: He attempted to appropriate the left's most treasured all-purpose historical analogy. Indeed, Vietnam is so ubiquitous in the fulminations of politicians, academics and pundits we could really use anti-trust legislation to protect us from shopworn historical precedents. But, in the absence thereof, the President has determined that we might at least learn the real "lessons of Vietnam."

"Then as now, people argued the real problem was America's presence and that if we would just withdraw, the killing would end," Mr. Bush told the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention. "Many argued that if we pulled out there would be no consequences for the Vietnamese people. A columnist for The New York Times wrote in a similar vein in 1975, just as Cambodia and Vietnam were falling to the communists: 'It's difficult to imagine,' he said, 'how their lives could be anything but better with the Americans gone.' A headline on that story, date Phnom Penh, summed up the argument: 'Indochina Without Americans: For Most a Better Life.' The world would learn just how costly these misimpressions would be."

I don't know about "the world," but apparently a big chunk of America still believes in these "misimpressions." As The New York Times put it, "In urging Americans to stay the course in Iraq, Mr. Bush is challenging the historical memory that the pullout from Vietnam had few negative repercussions for the United States and its allies."

Well, it had a "few negative repercussions" for America's allies in South Vietnam, who were promptly overrun by the north. And it had a "negative repercussion" for the former Cambodian Prime Minister, Sirik Matak, to whom the U.S. Ambassador sportingly offered asylum. "I cannot, alas, leave in such a cowardly fashion," he told him. "I never believed for a moment that you would have this sentiment of abandoning a people which has chosen liberty ... I have committed this mistake of believing in you, the Americans." So Sirik Matak stayed in Phnom Penh and a month later was killed by the Khmer Rouge, along with the best part of two million other people. If it's hard for individual names to linger in The New York Times' "historical memory," you'd think the general mound of corpses would resonate...

The rest of this edgy, important article is here.

Scientific Discourse vs Advocacy

Noel Sheppard posts this item over at

NASA's James Hansen, whose work is continually exposed as shoddy while he refuses to share data gathering techniques and computer codes used for such things with others, has been criticized by a contributing scientist to the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as moving "dangerously away from scientific discourse to advocacy."

What has drawn the ire of Andrew Weaver, a physicist at the University of Victoria who works on the dynamics of the polar ice caps, are recent statements by the Goddard Institute for Space Studies chief that oceans could rise as much as 82 feet in the next hundred years due to global warming.

Bear in mind that the IPCC's most recent report downgraded its expectations for such sea level increases to less than two feet...

...Of course, lost upon Hansen - and, quite frankly, the entire global warming alarmism crowd - is that if oceans were indeed so much higher three million years ago before man was emitting so much carbon dioxide, it seems quite specious to suggest that man is responsible for today's warming and sea level rise.

Yet, there was a more telling segment of this article that even further demolished the "debate is over," "the science is settled" nonsense that alarmists like soon-to-be-Dr. Al Gore and his not so merry sycophants continue to disingenuously espouse:

"Certain positive feedback effects, as well as recent data on the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, were not included in the IPCC's report. 'Because of the cumbersome IPCC review process, they exclude recent information,' Prof. Hansen says, 'so they are very handicapped.'"

That's correct, James, and the point that skeptics all around the world have been making for years: the IPCC is INDEED handicapped, and DOES exclude MUCH recent information, not just that which supports your views.

D. James Kennedy Formally Retires

Dr. D. James Kennedy, senior pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church has formally retired. Dr. Kennedy, 76, suffered a cardiac arrest four days after preaching his last sermon (a Christmas Eve service) and has since been unable to return to the pulpit.

“We thank the Lord for His faithfulness to my father over nearly one-half century, through the impact this church has made in the lives of people in this congregation and community and the influence he has had on countless individuals around the world through radio and television,” said daughter Jennifer Kennedy Cassidy.

And we say a hearty amen.

For more on this story, go to the formal press release. It has more details, several moving tributes to Dr. Kennedy's superb ministry, and the plans for the church's future.

Government Education: Spending A Lot More...And Getting A Lot Less

...Our presidential candidates sense the danger of this dumbing down of American society and are arguing over the dismal status of contemporary education: poor graduation rates, weak test scores and suspect literacy among the general population. Politicians warn that America's edge in global research and productivity will disappear, and with it our high standard of living.

Yet the bleak statistics — whether a 70 percent high school graduation rate as measured in a study a few years ago by The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, or poor math rankings in comparison with other industrial nations — come at a time when our schools inflate grades and often honor multiple valedictorians at high school graduation ceremonies. Aggregate state and federal education budgets are high. Too few A's, too few top awards and too little funding apparently don't seem to be our real problems....

What are those problems? And what are the priority targets for remedying them? Read the rest of this brief Victor Davis Hanson article.

Global Warming: Are The "Cures" Worth It?

In case you missed it, here is a link to Michael J. Economides' trenchant Human Events column from last week entitled "Propaganda as Journalism." It's a good one.

...I am not a climate expert and I am perfectly willing to accept that global warming is happening. But the writer, Sharon Begley, did not even bother to really distinguish between global warming, an occurrence that has demonstrably happened over and over again in earth’s history, something that the climate experts are debating, and the politically loaded anthropogenic part. Make no mistake. The latter is far more salient to the Gores of the world and it is an undisguised, ideologically driven, full frontal attack on American and developed world lifestyles and the energy industry.

Had the writer attempted even remote due diligence, just by asking some of the 800 “authors” of the IPPC report to produce just one reference, she would discover that there is not one paper in the peer reviewed heat transfer or thermodynamic literature that shows the causal relationship between the presumably observed and, especially, forecasted global warming and the increased CO2 at the 300 parts per million levels. Correlation does not prove causation. That’s what I thought until now. I am even willing to accept that global warming can cause enhanced CO2 in the atmosphere by reducing the solubility of the gas in the oceans. But the other way around is what is at issue...

...First, oil companies should love the rhetoric of global warming. They would be watching with glee. If the public is conditioned to believe in alternatives such as wind at $200 per barrel of oil equivalent or solar at $1,000, if taxes are supposed to force conservation while the public uses more and more energy, guess what gift is handed to those that manage oil and gas. The reason we use those energy sources is not because of some ideological propensity. They are the easiest and cheapest to use. The profits margins of oil companies will soar in a preposterously legislated remedy-global-warming future. Environmentalist silliness will strengthen the presumed devils all the while preventing the market to develop into real technologies and alternatives. Solar and wind will never do that.

Second, while slogans and magazine articles lament what they consider to be a looming catastrophe, other than saying oil, gas and coal are bad for you, they are not really suggesting what else can be done because if they did they would quickly find the insurmountable costs. Unless committing economic suicide is what’s in their mind. If the recent virtual economy hiccup can cause the problem that it did, imagine what a forced energy supply disruption will mean for the world...

Grand Jury Indictment for Dr. Death's Lawyer (Democrat Politician Geoffrey Fieger) for Illegal Campaign Conspiracy in Behalf of John Edwards

The former attorney for assisted suicide physician Jack “Dr. Death” Kevorkian has been indicted by a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Michigan for alleged crimes relating to fundraising for the 2004 presidential campaign including violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act, making false statements and obstruction of justice.More...

Kevorkian attorney Geoffrey Fieger, 56, of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., his law partner Vernon Johnson, 45, Birmingham, Mich., conspired to make more than $125,000 in illegal campaign contributions to the 2004 presidential campaign of U.S. Senator John Edwards.

As alleged in the indictment, returned on Aug. 21 and unsealed Friday, Fieger and Johnson are both attorneys and officers of the Michigan law firm Fieger, Fieger, Kenney & Johnson, P.C., of Southfield, Mich., and have both been practicing law for more than 20 years.

The indictment charges that, unbeknownst to Sen. Edwards’ campaign, the defendants caused more than 60 persons, known as straw donors, to make contributions in the then-maximum allowable amount of $2,000 per donor, contributions which were actually paid for by the Fieger firm rather than the named donors. The indictment alleges a conspiracy that continued from March 2003 through January 2004...

The indictment states that Sen. Edwards’ campaign was unaware of Fieger and Johnson’s actions. Sen. Edwards and his campaign staff have cooperated fully with this investigation. Fieger says he had no role in his firm’s campaign contributions.

The 10-count indictment charges Fieger and Johnson, together in some counts and Fieger alone in the remaining counts, with conspiracy; causing the Edwards Campaign to unwittingly make false statements; making illegal campaign contributions in the name of another; and making illegal campaign contributions from a corporation.

Fieger was also charged with obstruction of justice. The maximum penalty for each charge of conspiracy, false statements, and illegal campaign contributions is up to five years in jail and a $250,000 fine. The maximum penalty for the obstruction of justice charge is up to 10 years in jail, with the same maximum fine.

In 2005, federal agents raided Fieger’s law offices, taking payroll records and other financial documents including campaign materials and ticket stubs for an Edwards fundraiser.

On Aug. 15, a lawsuit Fieger had filed against the U.S. Department of Justice was dismissed by a federal judge. Fieger had claimed that the DOJ was unlawfully investigating the campaign contributions of his firm’s employees. Fieger had accused federal agents and prosecutors of terrorizing his employees in an effort to learn who they had voted for in the 2004 presidential election and their voting records. He claimed the Bush Administration was using antiterrorism efforts to seize his employees’ financial records.

Last month, the Michigan Supreme Court had reinstated a formal reprimand against Fieger for likening three judges to Nazis while he was hosting a 1999 Detroit-area radio show, saying that Fieger’s remarks were “vulgar and crude”. The court rejected Fieger’s claim that his remarks were constitutionally protected.

In 1998, Fieger unsuccessfully challenged incumbent Republican Michican governor John Engler, running as a Democrat. ..

Embryonic Stem Cells Repair Human Heart? Not Hardly

Here is a classic case of how a headline can misinform, even mislead the reader who doesn't carefully read the story itself.

The headline emblazons this amazing breakthrough, "Embryonic Stem Cells Repair Human Heart," but the story itself proves the headline a clear lie for the experiments in question have not involved humans at all. Indeed, one of the lead researchers himself explains that he harbors some doubts that the procedure will ever be effective...with any "patients" besides rats, that is.

Take a look.

The lying headline is bad enough but the opening isn't much better from this Health Day News (via Yahoo) story. -- "Experiments in rats show that human embryonic stem cells can repair damaged heart muscle, improve heart function and slow the progression of heart failure." One naturally assumes we're talking about people here, especially given the headline. But the reader who bothers to go on discovers a much different picture. A few relevant excerpts are printed below and I ask you to note especially the statements in bold.

Using stem cells to repair damaged hearts is something that appears promising, but so far it has been fraught with problems. Previous experiments have shown that it is possible to create heart cells from embryonic stem cells. However, most of these cells do not become heart muscle cells, and many don't survive once transplanted into a damaged heart.

"We found a way to increase the survival of these cells," said lead researcher Dr. Charles Murry, director of the Center for Cardiovascular Biology and Regenerative Medicine at the University of Washington, in Seattle.
Murry's team created a "survival" cocktail that prevented the cells from dying. The treated cells were then implanted in rats that had had their hearts damaged to simulate a heart attack. "If we prepared our cells in this cocktail and transplanted them, we could get virtually 100 percent of the rats to have human heart muscle grafts in them," Murry said...

The study shows that growing heart muscle in an injured heart is possible, Murry noted. "In patients who had suffered a heart attack, if we were able to re-muscularize their heart with stem cell-derived heart muscle cells, this should prevent them from developing heart failure," he said. "The rub is that the rat is not a person."

Murry thinks that while the finding is promising, it needs to be confirmed in larger animals such as sheep or pigs, because their hearts beat slower. Rat hearts beat 450 times a minute, while the human heart beats about 70 times a minute. "So, there may be problems that were not predicted with the rat model," he acknowledged...

"The other issue is whether these cells will survive over a long time and how efficiently are they grafted in with the neighboring cells," Chien said. "In addition, because rat hearts beat so fast, they are resistant to arrhythmias. When you put this into an animal with a slower heart rate, would there be arrhythmias over the long term?"

"Clinical applications are many years away," Chien said. "But this is an important step."

There may be other flaws in these experiments which will come out in time. This has frequently been the case with other seeming "breakthrough studies" which prove to be more hype than high quality science. But this story is noteworthy for the outright lie represented in the headline; the begrudging acknowledgment it eventually makes about the experiment not being valid for sheep or pigs (let alone human beings); and for the galling attitude shown by Dr. Murry who refers to his rats as "patients" but shows no sensitivity towards the human embryos who are callously destroyed to provide the cells for his experiments.

"The rub is that the rat is not a person," indeed.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Today's Posts

Jon Bruning Impresses Omaha Pro-Life Audience

"The Rise of the Fantasists" -- But Frightening Realities Keep Getting in Their Way

Uzbekistan Government Persecuting Christians...Still

Christian Persecution Intensifies in Eritrea

Fairness Doctrine 101

Norman Rockwell, Call Your Office.

It's Not Enough, Rudy. It's Just Not Enough.

A Comprehensive Culture of Life Ethic is "Novel Theory" to Liberal Journalist

Jon Bruning Impresses Omaha Pro-Life Audience

I apologize for only now getting around to blogging about Jon Bruning’s appearance a couple of days ago at the quarterly luncheon sponsored by Omaha’s Business and Professional Persons for Life over at the Venice Inn. Naturally, Bruning, Nebraska’s Attorney General for five years now and a fellow who established a solid pro-life record during his 6 years as a state senator, was well-received by the group. In fact, BPPL’s President, John Kellogg, noted that the turnout for the luncheon was the best it had been in a long while. That, in itself, is perhaps a notable indication that Senator Chuck Hagel, despite his own pro-life record, may have a formidable foe if he decides to run for re-election against an already declared Bruning.

Bruning is a Lincoln Southeast and UNL Law School graduate whose pro-life convictions, he himself admitted, have evolved considerably from his carefree college days. In fact, in answer to a question about the origins of his pro-life views, Bruning candidly admitted that he hadn’t thought seriously about abortion (and many other things for that matter) until he fell in love and started to think about family and the values he wanted to represent to his children.

He also explained that he is a prime example of how critically important pro-life education efforts are, specifically citing pro-life friends and mentors, visual presentations such as those being offered to our area by Virtue Media, lobbyists and constituents, and educators like UNL Law School's Rick Duncan, a pro-life activist who Attorney General Bruning referred to as one of the best thinkers he has ever encountered.

Bruning, actually ahead of Hagel in the public opinion polls, owes much of his early lead to his aggressive actions against child molesters and other bad guys who endanger and corrupt Nebraska’s citizens (“I fight for innocence every day and I love my job!”). But his responsiveness to citizen complaints, his efficiency in running the A.G. office, his energy, and his pro-life credentials (he took the handoff from Don Stenberg and fought diligently to secure the partial-birth abortion ban) are also strengths that the public has found impressive.

Bruning did not do any overt campaigning that afternoon. Chuck Hagel was never mentioned nor any of his actions or positions criticized. Bruning addressed the group simply as our attorney General, asking for our assistance to make his job effective (“Why did you act on the ____ case, people ask me. Because somebody called me!”) and promising to keep the powers of his office moving towards enforcement of Nebraska’s laws (“Hey; we got guys with badges and guns. Give us a call and we’ll be glad to help.”).

Thus, in the end, Jon Bruning’s talk (and q and a session afterwards) made for as effective a political appearance as a “non-political appearance” can be. After all, he’s no rookie at this game. And with his demeanor, his honesty, his conservative positions and track record, he showed himself as not just a force to be reckoned with but, quite possibly, a U.S. Senator to depend on.

"The Rise of the Fantasists" -- But Frightening Realities Keep Getting in Their Way

As the cliche goes, "A conservative is a liberal whose been mugged by reality." Like most cliches, this one exposes a larger truth. Namely, people often base their views on their fantasies of how the world should be than on the reality of how the world actually is.

Following this line, the September 11, 2001 attacks can be seen as a large-scale mugging. After the attacks, the same American people that had ignored the threat of totalitarian Islam since the Iranian revolution first categorized the US as the Great Satan back in 1979, acknowledged the danger and recognized it was at war. The overwhelming majority of Americans supported President George W. Bush when he said that the US would fight to destroy all global terror organizations and take down the regimes that sponsor them.

But even before the fires were put out in Lower Manhattan, voices from two quarters were already claiming that the US should stay in Dreamland. First, there were the radical leftists like Susan Sontag and Michael Moore who wrapped themselves in the banner of the human rights of the wretched of the Earth. They claimed that al Qaida was simply giving Americans their comeuppance for dominating the world through McDonalds and Levis.

Next there were people like former presidents Carter and Bush's national security advisors Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft, assorted university professors, and CIA analysts who wrapped themselves in the banner of realism. They claimed that American support for Israel is what brought the Islamic world to hate the country and kill thousands of its citizens by flying hijacked airplanes into buildings. In both cases, the fantasists ignored completely Osama bin Laden's declarations that his goal is to conquer the world in the name of Islam. They disregarded the political and cultural milieus marked by inexhaustible envy towards the West and the US that gave ris
e to al Qaida and its sister organizations. Rather than acknowledge the reality of real war with real enemies, both camps of fantasists argued that instead of slaying these twin dragons, the US should appease them by serving them Israel for lunch...

Do read "The Rise of the Fantasists" by Caroline B. Glick in its entirety over at Jewish World Review. It is an excellent wake-up call.

Uzbekistan Government Persecuting Christians...Still

Four years after being severely pressured by the authorities, the small Baptist congregation in Khalkabad near Pap in the eastern Namangan Region (Uzbekistan) is again facing harassment for meeting without compulsory registration. Local Baptists told Forum 18 News Service that police raided successive Sunday services on 29 July and 5 August. In the wake of the raids, church member Nikolai Zulfikarov - who hosts services in his home - could face criminal trial with a possible sentence of up to five years' imprisonment.

Baptists told Forum 18 that a case was launched against Zulfikarov under Article 216 of the Criminal Code, which punishes "illegal organisation of a social or religious organisation". Cases are also being prepared against others present at the services, as well as Baptists from the city of Fergana who travelled to Pap to try to find out why cases were being brought...

For more details on this situation as well as other instances of government harassment and persecution of people of faith and conscience, check out Forum 18 right here.

Christian Persecution Intensifies in Eritrea

Christians in Eritrea confirmed yesterday that a pastor in Asmara who disappeared 11 days ago remains missing. Pastor Leule Gebreab of Asmara's Apostolic Church failed to return home to his family on August 12. "His wife is greatly distressed about his disappearance," a local source told Compass Direct News. Gebreab, 35, is married with two children.

In a separate development, Eritrean authorities issued an ultimatum to Catholic church leaders on August 16, ordering that all the church's schools, clinics, orphanages and women's vocational training centers be turned over to the government's Ministry of Social Welfare and Labor.

More than 2,000 Eritrean Christians remain locked up and subjected to severe torture for their religious beliefs. A Kale Hiwot Church pastor and 20 members of his congregation arrested in the town of Dekemhare in late May and early June have yet to be released from custody...

Fairness Doctrine 101

Stuart Epperson, the Chairman of Salem Communications Corporation, has a Town Hall column which you should print off and keep for ready reference. It gives a clear, concise definition of the Fairness Doctrine as well as a brief description of its history and juxtaposition to the U.S. Constitution. Very helpful.

Norman Rockwell, Call Your Office.

The New York Times' Roberta Smith gushes over a Swiss art exhibition in an article that's full of decadence, sophomoric rebellion, meaningless words and phrases, and finally with The Emperor Has No Clothes type of madness. The exhibition and the fawning review (both all too typical of the age) demonstrate as clearly as anything that modern culture has blown its brains out.

In this summer of international art exhibitions in Europe, unanimity among viewers and critics has been rare. But the grand retrospective for the American sculptor Robert Gober at the Schaulager museum here is drawing a chorus of superlatives.

Large and impeccably installed, this exhibition winds through the Schaulager’s vast ground floor and basement galleries as it follows the 30-year development of Mr. Gober’s fraught, gender-bending, body-oriented form of protest sculpture. The survey includes around 60 sculptures and as many drawings, prints and photographs, and also recreates two complex installations, requiring running water. It is amazing to realize that Mr. Gober is only 52...

...One work here consists of a white plastic crate filled with green apples and set on an old wood stool, with a melted Winchester rifle draped across its top like the body of Christ in a Wild West Pietà. Another is a recent version of his mute, fixtureless sinks, this one suggesting Huckleberry Finn filtered through Magritte: its backsplash morphs into a worn white fence, and a robin’s nest with three blue eggs sits in the basin.

Mr. Gober stands at the forefront of a generation that emerged in the 1980s and devised new ways to fuse the personal and the political, the accessible and the mysterious. His art is a sometimes subtle, sometimes furious protest against what might be called delusions of normalcy; the sexual, racial and religious prejudices these delusions engender are examined at their point of origin, the childhood home....

...His art includes things as seemingly innocuous as hand-laminated sheets of plywood, as monstrous as a hand-painted cereal box 80 inches tall and as quietly incendiary as wallpaper whose patterns alternate images of a lynched black man and a sleeping white man. A recent hybrid is a sink with horrifically stretched wax children’s legs looping through the drain and faucet holes: a child deformed by the parental need for purity.

Other symbols of repressive cleanliness include bags of cat litter and rat poison in painted plaster, and cast bronze or pewter sink drains, sewer drains and culverts. A huge culvert penetrates the abdomen of a nearly life-size concrete Madonna that was in his controversial installation unveiled at the Los Angeles County Museum of Contemporary Art in 1997. This work, which also has a wood staircase cascading with water, Depression-era suitcases and a subterranean grotto, is now owned by the Schaulager and on permanent view here. It is a masterpiece.

Forms and motifs ricochet through the show. In one gallery, bags of cat litter lean against walls covered with the hanging man/sleeping man wallpaper, while at the center stands a sparkling satin wedding gown, redolent of purity, that Mr. Gober wears in an image in another work.

More is better with Mr. Gober’s art; quantity conveys the fullness of the language he has invented. This is further elaborated here in a gallery containing a reduced version of “The Meat Wagon,” an exhibition that Mr. Gober assembled in 2005 at the Menil Collection in Houston.

Here, as in Houston, he has mixed his own works with art from the Menil. The installation centers on a rather macabre but cozy little fireplace that holds children’s legs instead of logs and has bent prison bars instead of a fire screen. Grouped around it are a painting of a rifle by Magritte, a 16th-century iron ax, some drawings of severed limbs by Delacroix and a curvaceous evening coat in black satin lined with red by Charles James, the wedding gown turned wicked and aware. There is also a crude wax head of Abraham Lincoln and a worn potholder embroidered with the words “Any Holder but a Slave Holder.”

With this gallery Mr. Gober lays out some of the issues, affinities and troubled histories that fuel his art. It is yet another way that the astounding Schaulager exhibition clarifies how he unlocks the mysteries of the human heart.

It's Not Enough, Rudy. It's Just Not Enough.

Despite his commitment to legalized abortion, Rudy Giuliani is desperately trying to woo pro-life Republicans by talking loud and long about his promise to appoint only strict constructionists to the Supreme Court.

But, as Daniel Allott , a senior writer and policy analyst at American Values, points out in this Washington Times article, there is an awful lot more a President can do to oppose abortion and promote pro-life values.

Allott's is a very good piece and an effective reminder that Giuliani's promise just isn't enough to earn a pro-lifer's vote.