Friday, May 30, 2008

Today's Posts

Getting Real About Islam: Colson Bucks the "Whitewashing Trend"

The High Priced Fantasies of Embryonic Stem Cell Research

"At What Age Should You Die So You Don’t Use More than Your Fair Share of Earth’s Resources?"

Did the Lincoln and Council Bluffs Planned Parenthood Centers Hire a New Abortionist?

Another of Barack Obama's "Spiritual Mentors" Foments Racial Division

It's Not the Best Reason to Vote for John McCain, But It's a Good One

Getting Real About Islam: Colson Bucks the "Whitewashing Trend"

Chuck Colson has written a not-to-be-missed essay, "To Islam—and Back Again," published in the April/May edition of BreakPoint's WorldView Magazine and available on the net at this page of the BreakPoint web site. In the well-crafted, illuminating article, Colson reviews how the West has responded in a dangerous naiveté to Islam even after the tragic attacks of September 11, 2001. In so doing, educators, journalists, politicians and even Christian clergymen have grossly ignored the history of Islam and distorted the horrific violence it spreads around the world in our present day.

Colson decries this "trend toward whitewashing Islam and giving place to it" and urges readers to get serious about the true challenges (and the new opportunities) represented by the intersection of Muslim and Christian cultures.

The article covers a lot of ground: Archbishop Rowan Williams; sharia law; Anglican bishop Michael Nazir-Ali (whose father was a convert from Islam); the dire effects Islam has had upon economic and political freedom; the murder of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh by Mohammed Bouyeri; "the disappearance of the West:" and the increasing (but yet underreported) numbers of Christian converts from Islam.

It is a thoughtful piece, informative and ultimately encouraging.

The High Priced Fantasies of Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Chelsea Zimmerman does a close and insightful reading of Forbes Magazine's interview with Dr. Jamie Thomson, the scientist who produced the first human embryonic stem cells. She then points out for the rest of us some very significant admissions that Thomson makes about the unwarranted hype surrounding the scientific industry he helped create, the strict limits it is running into regarding the discovery of medical cures, and the primary purposes that have lay behind the jargon all along.

Chelsea, already a busy blogger with Reflections of a Paralytic (her primary blog), Adult Stem Cell Awareness, and a couple of others, has just taken on the reins of Missouri Life News. She's doing some very good work and I encourage you to check her blogs often. Chelsea is certainly one of the young, talented and principled internet journalists whose work bodes well indeed for the emerging pro-life movement of the new century.

"At What Age Should You Die So You Don’t Use More than Your Fair Share of Earth’s Resources?"

Jonathan Kayser alerted me to this weird (and pretty chilling) internet "game" for kids that informs you at just “what age you should die at so you don’t use more than your fair share of Earth’s resources!”

I'm not making this up.

The game requires you to answer ten questions about the miles you travel, what size your house is, and so on.

"With each answer, see how your CO2 production compares to the Average Aussie greenhouse pig, and to an environmentally-sustainable 'green' pig."

Note that no matter what you do, you remain a pig!

After you answer all the questions, then you press the death's head symbol, a pig explodes into blood, and you're informed at what age you should die (note the ethical "ought" assumed) "so you don't use more than your fair share of Earth's resources."

This charming game is called The Greenhouse Calculator. It's part of a web site called Planet Slayer (a game by that name is also there on the site) which is run by the Australian government.

The game, of course, is rigged and not in the sense of being foreordained (I found the same answers could generate different ages at when one's demise was suggested), but in the overriding lesson being that simply being a human being means that you are...a pig. And, more than that, you're a pig that would do the planet a big favor if you would just die and be done with it!

Now, by putting this offensive game on the internet, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation has done a serious disservice not only to Australian kids, but to your kids as well. Therefore, a polite e-mail (no exploding pigs necessary) is in order, asking them to remove this distasteful and injurious brainwashing.

Did the Lincoln and Council Bluffs Planned Parenthood Centers Hire a New Abortionist?

Word comes from Lincoln, Nebraska that the Planned Parenthood is again open for surgical abortions. That means that the abortionist will probably start killing preborn children at the Council Bluffs site tomorrow too.

The fact that this occurs just a few days after Planned Parenthood settled out of court on a botched abortion case involving Meryl Severson indicates that the two month delay in surgical abortions at these two sites was probably related to the case. This even though the local news media never did publicize the story.

Another indication? The pro-life sidewalk counselors at the Lincoln site believe that Planned Parenthood has found a new abortionist altogether. And, if the license plate of the car he was driving means anything, they've managed to find someone from Nebraska. Very, very sad news.

I'll post more information as we know it. And, of course, that will start tomorrow when we are in front of the Planned Parenthood in Council Bluffs.

Another of Barack Obama's "Spiritual Mentors" Foments Racial Division

In a Vital Signs post last week ("Obama's Theater of the Absurd"), I linked readers to a NRO column by Sabrina Leigh Schaeffer which presented some alarming material about Barack Obama's many anti-Israel friends and advisors. Schaeffer mentioned one of the worst was a fellow Obama has described as one of his three spiritual mentors, the Rev. Michael Pfleger, a renegade Catholic priest at South Side Chicago's St. Sabina Church. (He is shown here with Louis Farrakhan when the Nation of Islam leader spoke at Fr. Pfleger's church.)

Well, Fr. Pfleger moved from a brief mention in NRO to his very own headline story there (and at many other news organizations) yesterday as a video clip surfaced showing Pfleger, from the pulpit of Obama's own church, mocking Hillary Clinton as a whining white supremacist.

You really need to watch the spectacle for yourself and this YouTube video clip gives you that opportunity. You'll see that the scene involves not only the guest minister's weird parody but, sadder still, the overwhelming approbation he receives from the church congregation.

It's a very ugly scene. Indeed, far from promoting racial reconciliation, Barack Obama's "spiritual mentors" are doing the very opposite. And, if the audience at Trinity United Church of Christ is any indication, they're actually widening the racial divide rather effectively.

Here's how MSNBC summarized the moment --

Saying he was seeking to “expose white entitlement and supremacy wherever it raises its head,” Pfleger mocked Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York for appearing to weep at a campaign appearance before the New Hampshire primary in January, saying she was crying because “there’s a black man stealing my show.”

“She always thought, ‘This is mine. I’m Bill’s wife, I’m white and this is mine,’” Pfleger said in his fiery sermon.

As the racially mixed congregation responded “Amen!” and “Yes, sir!” Pfleger pretended to cry and shouted: “And then out of nowhere came him, Barack Obama. And she said: ‘Damn! Where did you come from?! I’m white! I’m entitled! There’s a black man stealing my show!’

“She wasn’t the only one crying!” he said. “There was a whole a lot of white people crying!”

Then, sensing that he may have gone too far, Pfleger added: “I’m sorry. I don’t want to get you in any more trouble. The live streaming [video] just went out again.”

As news of his antics spread, Fr. Pfleger was forced to finally give an apology. He tried to distance his remarks from "Sen. Barack Obama’s life and message" and then gave out with this beauty, "I am deeply sorry if they offended Sen. Clinton or anyone else who saw them.”

"If" his smug, self-righteous, over-the-top slander "offended" Mrs. Clinton "or anyone else who saw them"? Does he really mean to suggest that anyone, under any circumstances at all, could fail to see the deep and savage offense he most certainly intended for his remarks to have?

Sorry, Rev. Such an empty apology is not to be accepted. Not by Hillary. And not by Americans of any color or background who genuinely want to move beyond the politics of race.

As Jim Geraghty notes in the NRO piece, "The argument that 401(k) accounts are inherent representations of white supremacy will be news to many, many Americans."

And yes, an apology eventually came from Barack Obama too. “As I have traveled this country, I’ve been impressed not by what divides us, but by all that unites us. That is why I am deeply disappointed in Father Pfleger’s divisive, backward-looking rhetoric, which doesn’t reflect the country I see or the desire of people across America to come together in common cause.”

True, Obama's apology leaves something to be desired as well. For it seems to indicate that he's only recently learned that Americans have more to unite them than divide them. It smacks a bit too much of his wife's pride in the country only beginning with Obama's presidential run and of the candidate himself only now beginning to wear an American flag pin.

But, even so, it's got Rev. Pfleger's apology beat hands down.

It's Not the Best Reason to Vote for John McCain, But It's a Good One

Susan still not a contented soul. She says if John McCain gets elected, she will move to Italy or Canada. She adds, "It's a critical time, but I have faith in the American people."

(From Liz Smith's gossip column over at the New York Post.)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Today's Posts

* Jimmy Carter's Granddaughter Has Her Own Vision of the World...And She Can Darn Well Keep It Too!

* Partying with the Abortionists: Kansas Governor Caught on Film

* Freedom of Speech for Preachers? What a Constitutional Idea.

* Planned Parenthood Settles Gruesome Botched Abortion Case. Will Surgical Abortions Resume in Council Bluffs & Lincoln?

* Is Obama Walking the Path of McGovern and Dukakis?

* Barack Obama "Could Become Just Another Liberal"

Jimmy Carter's Granddaughter Has Her Own Vision of the World...And She Can Darn Well Keep It Too!

One wonders if Jimmy Carter, even as loopy as he is, remains a happy and proud grandpa when he surveys the weird-o-rama art show his granddaughter has produced. Shawn Macomber writing for NRO certainly isn't impressed with Sarah Chuldenko's talent nor with her vision of the world -- and after reading just what fruity froth she serves up as cultural significance -- neither will you.

But Grandpa? Well, a guy that saw an attack bunny in the river when no one else did just might be a fellow who can appreciate Chuldenko's show, one that is described in the brochure as a “provocative collision of buoyant breasts, carnivorous plants, topographic flesh, oil slicks, and roadside IEDs” which “simultaneously depict phoenix totems of creation and destruction with a hint of irony.”

Gee, just "a hint of irony," Sarah?

I think I'll take the bunny.

By the way, the photo above is of Sarah Chuldenko's painting entitled New York 2001 (Can't you see New York in it, you rube?) and was offered as part of the "Take Home a Nude" Art Auction and Party held at Phillips de Pury & Company last April. And oh, just in case you're thinking about using "Take Home a Nude" for one of your own social functions, forget it. It's trademarked.

Partying with the Abortionists: Kansas Governor Caught on Film

Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius -- yes, that Kathleen, the self-styled Catholic whose rabid pro-abortion politics have, on the one hand, earned her the censure of her Archbishop and, on the other hand, earned her the consideration by Barack Obama as his running mate -- is at it again with more evidence (pictures even) of her cozy relationship with the notorious late-term abortionist George Tiller.

Here's an Operation Rescue report about an extravagant (and secret) party put on by the Democrat Governor at the Governor’s mansion last year for Tiller. Indeed, Tiller and his staff were the only guests invited to the gala event that featured, according to the OR source, a menu of steak and lobster. The swank affair was held at the very time that the Attorney General’s office was investigating Tiller and while there were increasing calls by Kansas legislators for criminal charges to be filed against the abortionist.

Again, here's the story and photos. And, if there's any impartiality at all left among Kansas journalists, this is a story we'll be hearing a lot more about.

Freedom of Speech for Preachers? What a Constitutional Idea.

Jill Stanek has a report here on a bold new move by the Alliance Defense Fund to take back the freedom of speech for America's religious leaders. It involves what the ADF is calling a "pastor's revolt" this September against the unconstitutional 1954 law that has so effectively hindered pastors, priests, rabbis, and religious organizations from speaking freely about political candidates.

In the article Jill gives a little history of the Johnson Amendment, some information about the IRS' confusion and double standards, and news about how the ADF move is being rigorously challenged by (big surprise) the loutish Barry Lynn and his Americans United for the Separation of Church and State.

Writes Jill, "ADF will challenge one specific part of the code, the prohibition of a pastor to speak from the pulpit about views on political candidates. ADF considers this a violation of a pastor's First Amendment rights. This has never been challenged in court.

On Sept. 28, approximately 50 pastors the ADF has chosen from volunteers nationwide will preach sermons to provoke the IRS on this point. This would immediately invoke a lawsuit that would find its way to the U.S. Supreme Court."

For further info, check out this page on the ADF site itself.

Planned Parenthood Settles Gruesome Botched Abortion Case. Will Surgical Abortions Resume in Council Bluffs & Lincoln?

Why the Planned Parenthood center in Council Bluffs (right across the Missouri River from Omaha) and the one 60 miles away in Lincoln have not been performing surgical abortions for two months could quite possibly have something to do with the botched abortion case involving PP and their abortionist, Meryl Severson. However, the relatively low amount asked for in the case and the fact that Severson was earlier dropped from the lawsuit suggest other factors may be involved.

The "normal" news media has been inexplicably lacking in curiosity about the affair but whatever is happening, here are a few established facts to keep in mind:

1) Abortion is a grisly, barbaric business. It is built on lies, selfishness, exploitation and inhumane violence towards the most innocent among us. It is long past time for Severson and Planned Parenthood to stop the killing -- for good.

2) The Planned Parenthood centers remain open for other business; namely, the dispensing of bad condoms, bad advice, and bad drugs. Indeed, the drugs dispensed under the packaging of "birth control" are very powerful drugs that act as abortifacients when breakthrough ovulation occurs...and that happens a lot more than most people realize. Thus, preborn boys and girls continue to die because of Planned Parenthood's despicable actions -- even when the suction machines are turned off.

3) As pro-life sidewalk counselors, we have been pleased that the surgical abortions have stopped at Planned Parenthood for these several weeks. We know that lives have been saved as some of the moms and dads that would otherwise have shown up here have made decisions to carry their babies to term. We have continued to be present at the Council Bluffs site to pray and we will be there to carry on our life-saving witness if and when Planned Parenthood again begins to kill children through surgical abortion. But God, please hear our plea that You shut 'em down forever.

Is Obama Walking the Path of McGovern and Dukakis?

In selecting Barack Obama as their standard bearer, the Democrats are making a very unusual move. As Kenneth Blackwell explains in this New York Sun piece, the Democrats' choice is going to be "a nominee who has been routed repeatedly in crucial swing states by an opponent with the highest negative approval ratings ever to run for an open seat presidency."

It is strange.

Obama lost to Hillary Clinton by huge margins in Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania. These are crucial states for the Democrats. Indeed, the white working class voters who make up the largest share of Democrat voters in these states are representative of the national bloc most desperately needed for a Democrat victory in November.

Writes Blackwell, "Democrats should look back to 1972 and 1988. Like Mr. Obama, George McGovern and Michael Dukakis carried the enthusiastic majority of liberals, college students, and African-Americans. They also conceded white working-class voters to the Republicans."

With everything going for them this year, why would the Democrats endanger their otherwise easy victory by once again lurching to the far left? For Barack Obama, though popular, charismatic and fawned over by the MSM, is still rated as the most liberal member of the Senate. And that record (as well as character issues raised by Jeremiah Wright, the flag pin, the numerous distortions and even Michelle Obama) will certainly become even more fully known in the general election.

Blackwell concludes, "A year that was supposed to hold enormous promise for the Democrat nominee now seems like a flashback to past defeats of them. And Mr. Obama, who touts himself as a new type of political leader, now seems like a practitioner of old and failed political strategies. Oh, how history repeats itself."

Barack Obama "Could Become Just Another Liberal"

Regarding Barack Obama's personality-driven campaign (one too short on sound ideas), Karl Rove writes in today's Wall Street Journal about how Obama's increasing number of gaffes, distortions and flip-flops are giving Americans a whole new feeling for the guy.

"Stripped of his mystique as a different kind of office seeker, he could become just another liberal politician – only one who parses, evades, dissembles and condescends. That narrative is beginning to take hold. If those impressions harden into firm judgments, Mr. Obama will have a very difficult time in November."

Read the WSJ article here.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Today's Posts

An Abundance of Adoption Heroes

Samaritan's Purse Is Helping In Myanmar, China and the U.S...Can You Help Them?

Making Hospice Care and Palliative Sedation into "Stalking Horses" for Euthanasia

Jack Nicklaus: "It's a Different Day"

Vaclav Klaus Challenges Al Gore to Duke It Out

Ultrasound Plus Traditional Mammography Screening Greatly Increases Early Cancer Detection

58 States and Counting: Barack Obama Keeps Goofing Up (and Getting Away With It)

An Abundance of Adoption Heroes

Hey -- take a quick look at just a few of the people who profoundly affected the world...and who started out as adopted kids raised by a gracious, loving family:

George Washington Carver; Eleanor Roosevelt; Crazy Horse; Edward Albee; Ingrid Bergman; Jean Jacques Rousseau; Leo Tolstoy; John J. Audubon; Malcolm X; Edgar Allen Poe; Nat King Cole; Marilyn Monroe; Eric Dickerson; Gerald Ford; Aristotle; Daunte Culpepper; Buffy Sainte-Marie; Newt Gingrich; Steven Paul Jobs (co-founder of Apple Computers); Alexander the Great; Art Linkletter; Sen. Robert Byrd; Debbi Harry; James Michener; Tom Monaghan (founder of Domino's Pizza, owner of Detroit Tigers); Langston Hughes; Michael Reagan; Bo Diddley; Lee Majors; Nancy Reagan; Faith Hill; Bill Clinton; Mark Twain; Halle Berry; Dave Thomas; John Lennon; Shari Belafonte-Harper; Faith Daniels; Jesse Jackson; John Hancock; Richard Burton; and Nelson Mandela.

That's right; that's just a few. There are thousands more who are alive, kicking and making their various marks on society (all immensely significant) because of the loving actions of birth parents who kindly relinquished them to adoptive families. Congratulations to everybody involved!

And you say you're interested in just who some of those better known adoptive parents might be? I thought you might. So try out this list:

President Ronald Reagan & Jane Wyman; Babe Ruth; Jerry Lewis; Sen. John McCain; Willie Mays; Charles Bronson and Jill Ireland; Bob Hope; Michael Landon; Walt Disney; Ben Stein; Ed McMahon; Roy Rogers & Dale Evans; Michelle Pfeiffer; George Burns & Gracie Allen; Dan Marino; Harpo Marx; Julie Andrews; Lloyd Bentsen; Hedy Lamarr; Erma Bombeck; Karl Wallenda; Kate Jackson; Kirby Puckett; Eve Arden; Oscar de la Renta; Peter Falk; Bette Davis; Estelle Parsons; Henry Fonda; Magic Johnson; Judy Woodruff; Ted Danson (he is adopted himself); Burt Reynolds & Loni Anderson; Diane Keaton; Angelina Jolie; Pearl Bailey; Jo Beth Williams; George Lucas; Teri Garr; Calista Flockhart; and Patti LaBelle.

Want more? How about Stephen Spielberg; John DeLorean; Lou Gosselt, Jr.; Art Buchwald; Linda Ronstadt; Kurt Vonnegut; Valerie Harper; Nicole Kidman; Woody Allen; Jamie Lee Curtis; Sen. Jesse Helms; Al Roker; John Denver; Donna Mills; Patty Duke; Paul Newman; Cecil B. De Mille; Kris Kristofferson; Helen Hayes; Sammy Davis, Jr.; Sharon Stone; Sen. Gordon Humphrey; Mia Farrow; Marie Osmond; Connie Chung; Joan Fontaine; Sally Jessy Raphael; Carroll O'Connor; Parker Stevenson; Gloria Swanson; Robert Urich; Alexander the Great; Josephine Baker; Meg Ryan; Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson; Kirk Cameron; Steven Curtis Chapman; and, again, an awful lot more.

Adoption? It is frequently the very best option, the most loving choice that young parents can make. It is a wonderful, hopeful investment not only for a child's life and a family's warmth and security...but for the flowering of an entire culture.

Samaritan's Purse Is Helping In Myanmar, China and the U.S...Can You Help Them?

Franklin Graham has a very brief but very compelling video clip here on the web site of Samaritan's Purse explaining how the Christian relief organization is working effectively in Myanmar, China and here at home. They can use our help.

Making Hospice Care and Palliative Sedation into "Stalking Horses" for Euthanasia

Wesley J. Smith has a compelling essay over at First Things dealing with California bill AB 2747 and the assisted-suicide movement which has promoted it. AB 2747 is a nefarious piece of work that would force doctors into active euthanasia.

In the essay, Smith also examines how euthanasia advocates have skillfully connected the issues of palliative care (including hospice ministry) to euthanasia (both active and passive) and physician-assisted suicide. Smith's own background in hospice care required a strict attention to suicide prevention as "an essential part of the package, crucial to fulfilling a hospice’s call to value the lives and intrinsic dignity of each patient until the moment of natural death. Indeed, when I was trained as a hospice volunteer, my instructor pounded into my head the importance of reporting to the hospice team any suicide threats or yearnings my patient might express so they could initiate proper intervention. As a consequence of this philosophy, many patients who might have killed themselves were later very glad still to be alive to get the most of the time they had remaining."

But my, how things have changed. Nowadays, euthanasia activists have made many hospices (not to mention hospitals and nursing homes) into places where suicide is facilitated, not prevented. A tragic case in point? Oregon.

Writes Smith,

...Toward this end, advocates often point to a statistic involving assisted-suicide deaths in Oregon. According to the state, approximately 86 percent of people who died by swallowing poisonous overdoses under the Oregon law were receiving hospice care at the time they committed assisted suicide. Promoters of such “aid in dying” claim that this proves dying patients need the additional choice of a lethal prescription to ensure a “good death” if hospice care does not suffice.

But there is another way to look at it. What advocates don’t mention—and this is an issue about which the state bureaucrats seem utterly indifferent—is that most of Oregon’s assisted suicides were facilitated in some way by people affiliated with the assisted-suicide advocacy group Compassion and Choices (formerly the Hemlock Society), either as end-of-life “counselors” or as prescribing doctors after the patient’s own physician refused to write a lethal prescription. This means that the patients in the hospice who committed assisted suicide under Oregon’s law most likely did not receive suicide prevention—either because the hospice team was not alerted to their patient’s suicidal desire or perhaps the Oregon law has effectively short-circuited the prevention response by hospice professionals. In other words, rather than showing the need to expand hospice “services,” Oregon demonstrates how assisted suicide actually interferes with the proper delivery of hospice services—at least as the hospice was envisioned by Saunders.

There's yet more in Smith's essay of much importance. And I encourage you to take a few minutes and read it in its entirety.

For as Wesley Smith concludes, "Anyone who cares about the proper practice of medicine should be up in arms about the assisted-suicide movement’s attempt to make hospice and palliative sedation stalking horses for backdoor assisted suicide. Not only do such schemes subvert medicine by transforming legitimate medical interventions into life-terminating protocols, but proposals such as AB 2747 effectively deprofessionalize medical practice by reducing physicians to mere order-takers. Alas, this is par for the course for a movement obsessed with transforming killing into a legitimate answer to the problems of human suffering."

Jack Nicklaus: "It's a Different Day"

Jack Nicklaus mourns the changes in the gentleman's game...and he's not talking about the money or technology either. No, chalk up one more arena in which the social graces are dying.

...Perhaps the most troubling for Nicklaus is communication skills.

Nicklaus was asked if Tiger Woods ever called him personally when he decided not to play the Memorial because of soreness in his left knee from surgery in April.
“It’s a different day and age today, guys,” he said. “It’s all through agents.”

He did appreciate Mark Steinberg at IMG calling him twice over the last few months to report on Woods’ progress, and twice more leading up to the decision Friday.

But that got Nicklaus thinking about the way it used to be. Arnold Palmer was a rival, but he also was a mentor to Nicklaus, and the King once told the Bear that he almost always wrote sponsors a note of thanks for putting on the tournament.
“So every tournament I ever played in, I always dropped the sponsor a note,” Nicklaus said.

Then he paused, reflecting on his role as the tournament host at the Memorial.
“We get one or two,” Nicklaus said. “I’m not saying that of everybody. We do get one or two. But not very many.” Rarer still are notes of regrets, and there are plenty of opportunities this year. Adam Scott changed his mind about playing, a surprise to tournament officials Friday. Steve Stricker and Anthony Kim were among five players who withdrew Tuesday. Woods isn’t here for the second time in three years. Vijay Singh pulled out with an injury.

“Guys just don’t communicate anymore,” Nicklaus said. “Every once in a while, I might get something. But I don’t think I ever had a note from anybody when they’re going to leave the Memorial Tournament or not going to play or something that wrote and said, ‘Jack, I’m sorry. I had a problem, I can’t be here.”

Someone suggested that most players use text messages.
“I think that’s a cop-out,” Nicklaus said.

Does he worry about manners?

"It’s a different day,” he said.

Vaclav Klaus Challenges Al Gore to Duke It Out

By no means will Al Gore climb in the ring with Czech President Vaclav Klaus to fight over global warming. For Gore needs a fawning press and adoring (but uneducated) liberals to continue his charade as the Green Lantern. Any genuine debate, one that would require him to give scientifically, economically, and politically sound arguments for his wild statements would be disastrous. Gore's superhero reputation just wouldn't stand under the grueling beating Klaus would give him.

Of course, Vaclav Klaus is inviting the debate in order to help tout his book, Blue Planet in Green Shackles - What Is Endangered: Climate or Freedom? It has just been translated into English but, given the "climate" created by politically-correct reporters and booksellers, Klaus understands he will have to work hard and be especially creative to win a hearing for his new book.

That is not to say that he wouldn't love the chance to actually debate Gore. Klaus has already tried many times to engage him but without success. Gore knows too well he wouldn't have a prayer. After all, unlike Gore, Vaclav Klaus knows his stuff. Furthermore, Klaus sees the grave dangers which lie on the other side of radical environmentalism. He opposes those who would exploit "climate alarmism" in order to impose their constrictive ideological agenda on on free people. Indeed, Klaus sees the global warming paranoia creating the same kind of social control perpetuated by the Soviet Communists who for several decades dominated Czechoslovakia.

Says Klaus, "Like their (communist) predecessors, they will be certain that they have the right to sacrifice man and his freedom to make their idea reality. In the past, it was in the name of the Marxists or of the proletariat - this time, in the name of the planet. It could be even true that we are now at a stage where mere facts, reason and truths are powerless in the face of the global warming propaganda."

Ultrasound Plus Traditional Mammography Screening Greatly Increases Early Cancer Detection

"Mammograms saw only half of the breast cancers that were present. If we added ultrasound to mammography, we saw 78 percent of the cancers." That's from Dr. Wendie Berg of American Radiology Services at Johns Hopkins Green Spring in Lutherville, Maryland, who led a dramatic, large scale trial comparing rates of cancer detection using the two techniques. The results have just been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"Ultrasound does very well at finding invasive cancer," Berg said, referring particularly to the small invasive cancers that have not yet spread to the lymph nodes.

However, there are a couple of issues to be addressed. Effective ultrasound exams require efficient technicians. Says Dr. Berg, "It's a real-time examination that depends on the person doing the scanning to perceive an abnormality while they are doing it. No amount of looking at the picture later will compensate for that." For this study the ultrasound scanning technique and interpretation criteria were standardized and carefully overseen.

A second problem is that adding ultrasound substantially increases the rate of false positives -- four times as many, in fact. This obviously creates some initial stress for the patient as well as added costs for the ultrasound tests.

But wouldn't the overall stress be reduced if women knew that a combination of techniques (ultrasound added to traditional mammography screening) produced a much higher rate of early detection for breast cancer? And certainly making this combination standard practice at least for high-risk patients (the study concentrated on women 25 or older who had "dense" breasts, meaning at least half of the breast was made up of tissue other than fat) would reduce the costs of later health care, wouldn't it?

Certainly, the article highlights the serious need for women to know all of their options so that they can direct their doctors to provide the best care possible.

58 States and Counting: Barack Obama Keeps Goofing Up (and Getting Away With It)

Barack Obama is fumbling, bumbling, stumbling away -- making more gaffes and goof-ups than Lucille Ball. But the mainstream media reporters who are covering (make that "covering up") Obama's campaign would rather dream of Dan Quayle's potato than tell you about the numerous errors and whopping untruths being committed regularly by their Democrat hero.

This reveals something more sinister than the normal double standard at play. This is enablement of the most egregious kind.

Brent Bozell gives you here a rundown on a few of Obama's most remarkable "oops moments." And, pay attention, for unlike a Republican's mistake, you won't be hearing Obama's bloopers ad nauseum from reporters, commentators and late night talk show hosts.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Today's Posts

"Life’s Not Just Cheap in Modern Britain. It’s on Permanent Special Offer." -- Peter Hitchens On Parliament's Sad Mismanagement of the Abortion Bill

"Slow Medicine" -- Yet Another Anti-Life Distortion of Language

The Increasingly Violent Campaign Against Muslim "Apostates"

"The Wanderer" Sings of "The Thunderer" -- Dion's Tribute to St. Jerome

What Might an Obama Presidency Look Like ?

Belarusian Believers Struggle to Retrieve Nation's Noble Human Rights History

"Life’s Not Just Cheap in Modern Britain. It’s on Permanent Special Offer." -- Peter Hitchens On Parliament's Sad Mismanagement of the Abortion Bill

Peter Hitchens, the articulate, forthright, conservative British journalist and author (whose brother Christopher is also a widely-read reporter/author but who holds aggressively atheistic, socialistic views that are dramatically different than Peter's) has a not-to-be-missed column from the Sunday Mail (U.K.) dealing with the British Parliament's monstrous mishandling of the latest embryology bill.

Here's a few excerpts:

Let's have no more of this footling about over abortion. The issue isn’t how old a baby has to be before you cannot kill it. It is whether you think it’s right to do away with another human to suit your convenience. Those who wonder what they would have done if they had lived at the time of some terrible injustice now know the answer. We do live in such a time. And we do nothing.

I had resigned myself to the fact that we are a callous and barbarous society, selfish almost beyond belief and so twisted that we now regard children as a burden. I had thought the most practical way of dealing with this was to try at least to cut the age at which abortions can take place. But I now think that was wrong.

The abortionists are not interested in compromise. Why should they be? They have always known what they were doing. They must know by now that the more abortions you allow, the more you have. They have – for the moment – won the argument that you can kill if it’s convenient. And our whole society has adopted the same self-serving view, often without realising it...

Life’s not just cheap in modern Britain. It’s on permanent special offer. So let’s have an end to the polite truce about abortion. If it must be legal, then let it at least be despised. Since Parliament’s not going to curb it, let us call it what it is, a massacre conducted to suit the selfish.

Let’s not have any slippery rubbish about its supporters being ‘pro-choice’, when in fact they’re ‘pro-death’. What choice has the poor baby about being dismembered?
Given that none of us knows, or ever will know, just how much pain and misery is spread down the ages by one single stifling of an innocent life, can anyone tell me how an abortion can ever be better than letting the baby be born and adopted?..

"Slow Medicine" -- Yet Another Anti-Life Distortion of Language

Even the most despicable ideas can be made palatable when euphemisms are used to spin them. That's why abortion advocates call themselves "pro-choice" rather than "pro abortion." It's also why they talk about "terminating a pregnancy" rather than "killing a baby." Controlling the language not only controls the argument, it often determines the outcome of the argument.

Proponents of euthanasia understand the power of language in shaping debate. Therefore, instead of using the term "physician-assisted suicide" to describe the practice they advocate, they use euphemisms like "death with dignity" and "end of life choices" to sugar coat the reality of the killings they have in view. They know the term "physician-assisted suicide" does not poll well, so they try to disguise the real nature of what it is they are championing. Since people are inherently uncomfortable with the notion that those trained in the healing arts would aid and abet the killing of their patients, euphemisms are used to conceal the true nature of what's involved. Everyone wants to die with dignity. Thus, like abortion, killing oneself with a doctor's assistance becomes just another "choice."

Many in the medical community are complicit in this deception, and, although doctors were once trained to "do no harm," they are now fostering it through the deceptive use of rhetoric. A recent New York Times article, written by Jane Gross, describes one such deception. The article explains that a new practice called "slow medicine" has gained support in medical communities in recent years. The goal of slow medicine is to encourage "physicians to put on the brakes when considering care that may have high risks and limited rewards for the elderly, and it educates patients and families how to push back against emergency room trips and hospitalizations designed for those with treatable illnesses…." [emphasis added]. Thus, slow medicine seeks to aid doctors, families, and patients in resisting medical efforts to cure treatable illnesses...

Read the rest of this excellent Ken Connor column here.

The Increasingly Violent Campaign Against Muslim "Apostates"

Though the Koran does not teach that "apostasy" should receive punishment, the sad and frightening fact is that the rise of sharia law and other extremist teachings have resulted in several Muslim countries accepting (if not actually promoting) the most severe of punishments for those who renounce Islam. And yes, those punishments extend even to executions as certain Muslim leaders look less to the Koran itself and more to actions and pronouncements attributed to the Prophet Muhammad, his peers and later leaders.

Two countries, Sudan and Malaysia, have gone so far as passing laws prescribing the death penalty for apostasy. In others (i.e., Saudi Arabia, Mauritania, Iran), the death penalty for apostasy isn't codified but is still a serious possibility. Egypt allows the marriage of an "apostate" to be annulled with the results including loss of inheritance and custody rights. In other countries where sharia laws are in force (i.e., Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Yemen), "apostates" face such penalties as annulment of marriage, termination of citizenship, confiscation of identity papers, and the loss of property, social standing and economic rights.

Other alarming examples of this trend are outlined in a recent report developed by Christian Solidarity Worldwide. A primer on the report can be found in the article, "No Place to Call Home," on the CSW web site. There you'll also see how "apostates" from Islam are penalized using other, more indirect laws. Those include blasphemy laws, treason, and nativist/patriotic strictures such as the "insulting Turkishness" law in Turkey.

But, as unfair and inhumane as these examples are, it is "beyond the law" that most of the persecution of "apostates" occurs. As the CWS article says,

"Apostates are subject to gross and wide-ranging human rights abuses including extra judicial killings by state-related agents or mobs; honour killings by family members; detention, imprisonment, torture, physical and psychological intimidation by security forces; the denial of access to judicial services and social services; the denial of equal employment or education opportunities; social pressure resulting in loss of housing and employment; and day-to-day discrimination and ostracism in education, finance and social activities.

The affect of all this on the personal lives of apostates and their families can be significant and far-reaching. As the number of apostate communities has significantly increased in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia over the past twenty years, human rights abuses have been more regularly reported.

The experiences of apostates in Muslim countries are blatantly at odds with their rights as guaranteed under international law. Most Muslim nations are members of the UN and have ratified international human rights treaties. However, these nations and the international community have failed in their duty to uphold the rights of apostates by neglecting to guarantee their personal safety and their full and fair participation in society.

The CWS report "calls on Muslim nations, the international community, the UN and the international media to resolutely address the serious violations of human rights suffered by apostates."

"The Wanderer" Sings of "The Thunderer" -- Dion's Tribute to St. Jerome

Last weekend I posted (and not for the first time) a poem by Phyllis McGinley over on The Book Den. She entitled it "Death at Suppertime" and it has some remarkably appropriate applications for modern culture...especially remarkable given that the poem was written in 1949!

Anyhow, I was pleased to come across another Phyllis McGinley connection in a recent New York Times story about one of my favorite rock 'n roll heroes. As Times reporter David Gonzalez puts it -- "That’s right, Dion — for those unfortunates who need a last name, it’s DiMucci — the doo-wop legend from Belmont, now 68, with the heart of a bluesman, the soul of a Catholic and the epitome of old-school Bronx cool."

The article describes how Dion's great respect for St. Jerome, the brilliant scholar who translated the New Testament from Greek into Latin and then the Old Testament from Hebrew into Latin, led to an appreciation of the Phyllis McGinley poem about St. Jerome, "The Thunderer." Dion, a diligent student of Scripture, something unfortunately too rare among Catholics, had long appreciated Jerome's dicta, “Ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ.” But reading McGinley's poem intensified his interest in Jerome and he ended up writing a song using the same name.

The story of that song and how it's impact has traveled from Jerome to McGinley to DiMucci to an upstate New York disc jockey to kids singing on street corners ala Dion and the Belmonts back in the early 60s is here in this Times piece. And if you'd like to pursue the matter (I certainly did), then here's a brief sample of of Dion's song from his Son of Skip James album. You can order it online there and several other places too.

And here is a copy of copy of Phyllis McGinley's original poem. It was published in her Times Three: Selected Verse from Three Decades with Seventy New Poems, a book which won her the Pulitzer Prize.

The Thunderer

God’s angry man, His crotchety scholar
Was Saint Jerome,
The great name-caller
Who cared not a dime
For the laws of Libel
And in his spare time
Translated the Bible.
Quick to disparage
All joys but learning
Jerome thought marriage
Better than burning;
But didn’t like woman’s
Painted cheeks;
Didn’t like Romans,
Didn’t like Greeks,
Hated Pagans
For their Pagan ways,
Yet doted on Cicero all of his days.

A born reformer, cross and gifted,
He scolded mankind
Sterner than Swift did;
Worked to save
The world from the heathen;
Fled to a cave
For peace to breathe in,
Promptly wherewith
For miles around
He filled the air with
Fury and sound.
In a mighty prose
For Almighty ends,
He thrust at his foes,
Quarreled with his friends,
And served his Master,
Though with complaint.
He wasn’t a plaster sort of a saint.

But he swelled men’s minds
With a Christian leaven.
It takes all kinds
To make a heaven.

What Might an Obama Presidency Look Like ?

“What are you so afraid of?”

That's what a caller to Sandy Rios' radio show asked, referring to her strong opposition to the presidential candidacy of Barack Obama. Rios, the former President of Concerned Women for America, who now serves as President of Culture Campaign, Chairman of the North Korean Freedom Coalition, Fox News contributor, and WYLL radio talk show host, had a good answer.

But this column by Sandy Rios serves as an extended answer to that question and as such it is perhaps one of the best summations of just how dangerous Obama as President could be to the nation's health and safety. Check it out.

Belarusian Believers Struggle to Retrieve Nation's Noble Human Rights History

Evangelical pastor Antoni Bokun understands the tragedy involved in Belarus losing its historic reputation as a haven for religious rights. And he sees it not only as a patriotic observer of history but also from the vantage point of being a victim of the Communist dictatorship's increasing persecution of religious believers.

Bokun, the Pastor of John the Baptist Pentecostal Church in Minsk, has been heavily fined for leading worship services that the authorities deem illegal. He was even jailed briefly last year. But Bokun is still standing for Christ and praying that the Communist authorities will come back to their senses and stop the harassment, intimidation and outright persecution that has been launched against Belarusian evangelicals, Catholics and others. Indeed, he is praying for a spiritual revival that will reach into the government, creating a renewal of Belarus' remarkable past as a leader in human rights.

In 1573 --- long before John Locke and Thomas Jefferson, long before the U.S. and British Constitutions, and nearly 400 years before the U.N.'s Universal Declaration of Human Rights --- Belarusians had created one of Europe's first legal declarations upholding religious freedom. Thus, when many other European states were still torturing and executing people for their religious faith, Belarus was protecting religious rights of conscience and serving as a safe haven for dissidents fleeing from their own governments.

Pastor Bokun says, "Inspired by our long history of freedom of conscience, Belarusians continue to work and hope for the day that our country will reclaim its heritage as a land of religious freedom." Having a special love for Belarus myself and being a visitor to that nation ten times now, I certainly share Pastor Bokun's dream and applaud the brave, sacrificial efforts he and others are making to stand for the gospel, for religious freedom, and for a retrieval of Belarus' noble history.

Read more about the situation from Pastor Bokun's article, printed by Forum 18, right here.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Today's Posts

Let's Hear It for the Lt. Dan Band!

Christians Under Fire in Israel: New Testaments Burned; Mayor Defends Actions

Obama's Theater of the Absurd (Several posts here, actually)

Let's Hear It for the Lt. Dan Band!

"Purple Haze" at the Pentagon?

Yep...and played by a terrific rock band too. In fact, "Purple Haze" was just one of the songs performed in an hour-long concert given last week by the Lt. Dan Band in observance of Military Appreciation Month. The Lt. Dan Band was started by movie star and CSI:NY headliner, Gary Sinise along with his Chicago buddy, guitarist and composer Kimo Williams. (Both are shown in the photo at right.) The band is named after Sinise's most famous movie character, a police lieutenant in Forrest Gump.

The band is a pretty forceful rock group, specializing in the hard-driving rhythms of the 1970s and 80s. They're very loud, very entertaining, and very good. And I testify to that from having taken Claire to a splendid concert they presented in Kansas City last year.

And they're also a band with a big heart. They frequently perform for U.S. servicemen and women, playing at military bases all over the world. They also give concerts like the one we attended in K.C. in behalf of Operation Iraqi Children, a non-profit organization which sends school supplies (through the U.S. military) to Iraqi kids. Sinise, the bass player who fronts for the band, was a co-founder of the philanthropic organization with Seabiscuit: An American Legend author Laura Hillenbrand.

“It’s very important that you know we are grateful,” Sinise told the Pentagon crowd. “The sacrifice you and your families make — you are not forgotten.”

On this page of Stars and Stripes you can listen to a few of Sinise's remarks to the crowd and even watch a couple of the numbers they performed. But be forewarned, the two examples on this video clip do not reflect the kind of compelling hard rock that is the Lt. Dan Band's forte. For a little bit of that, check out these clips I found over on YouTube: "Up Tight," "Sweet Home Chicago," "Piece of My Heart" and, of course, Kimo Williams' rendition of "Purple Haze."

And here's a complementary program note -- Gary Sinise will be co-hosting with Mickey Rooney and Joe Mantegna the annual National Memorial Day Concert broadcast from the Capitol's West Lawn on PBS this Sunday night. On hand to join them in honoring our nation's best will be Gladys Knight, Sarah Brightman, Charles Durning, the National Symphony Orchestra, and President and Mrs. Bush.

Christians Under Fire in Israel: New Testaments Burned; Mayor Defends Actions

Burning sacred books, distorting one's own religion to justify the attacks on another religion, physical violence including bombs and fire against those who appeal for conversions --- sound familiar? Well, take a look at this USA Today piece explaining who is on the dealing end of this paranoid frenzy.

Orthodox Jews set fire to hundreds of copies of the New Testament in the latest act of violence against Christian missionaries in the Holy Land.

Or Yehuda Deputy Mayor Uzi Aharon said missionaries recently entered a neighborhood in the predominantly religious town of 34,000 in central Israel, distributing hundreds of New Testaments and missionary material.
After receiving complaints, Aharon said, he got into a loudspeaker car last Thursday and drove through the neighborhood, urging people to turn over the material to Jewish religious students who went door to door to collect it. The books were dumped into a pile and set afire in a lot near a synagogue, he said.

He said he regretted the burning of the books, but called it a "commandment" to burn materials that urge Jews to convert.
"I certainly don't denounce the burning of the booklets," he said. "I denounce those who distributed the booklets."..

Earlier this year, the teenage son of a prominent Christian missionary was seriously wounded when a package bomb delivered to the family's West Bank home went off in his hands.

Last year, arsonists burst into a Jerusalem church used by Messianic Jews and set the building on fire, raising suspicions that Jewish extremists were behind the attack. No one claimed responsibility, but the same church was burned down 25 years ago by ultra-Orthodox Jewish extremists.

Aharon later apologized further (kinda') as this Christian Post article describes.

He added, “We respect all religions as we expect others to respect ours. I am very sorry that the New Testament was burned, we mean it no harm and I'm sorry that we hurt the feelings of others.”

However, the Or Yehuda deputy mayor also declared that Israel cannot allow messianic Jews to “come into our homes and incite against our religion, and turn our children away from Judaism. That is against the law.”

Aharon, a strong anti-missionary activist, admits he had initially organized “three or four” yeshiva students from the town’s Michtav M’Eliahu Yeshiva to go to apartments in a part of town with many Ethiopian Jews to collect packages recently given to them by local messianic Jews, according to the Post. The packages contained a New Testament and pamphlets, which Aharon claims encouraged going against Judaism.

Obama's Theater of the Absurd

Barack Obama has received months of fawning press coverage, coverage that has tried valiantly to hide from an increasingly dumbed-down populace just how ultra-liberal are the Senator's positions on abortion, on a timid foreign policy, on homosexuality, on ethics, and many more important issues.

How long can that protective screen remain in place? Let's do a quick rundown on a few cracks in the dike.

1) Charles Krauthammer takes a hard look in the Washington Post at how Barack Obama is arrogantly, weirdly making a foolish mistake into a centerpiece of his foreign policy.

When the House of Representatives takes up arms against $4 gas by voting 324-84 to sue OPEC, you know that election-year discourse has entered the realm of the surreal. Another unmistakable sign is when a presidential candidate makes a gaffe, then, realizing it is too egregious to take back without suffering humiliation, decides to make it a centerpiece of his foreign policy.

Before the Democratic debate of July 23, Barack Obama had never expounded upon the wisdom of meeting, without precondition, with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Bashar al-Assad, Hugo Chávez, Kim Jong Il or the Castro brothers. But in that debate, he was asked about doing exactly that. Unprepared, he said sure -- then got fancy, declaring the Bush administration's refusal to do so not just "ridiculous" but "a disgrace."

After that, there was no going back. So he doubled down. What started as a gaffe became policy. By now, it
has become doctrine. Yet it remains today what it was on the day he blurted it out: an absurdity...

2) Obama's extravagant support of homosexual marriages, if fairly reported, will be causing some deep embarrassment for so-called "conservative" Democrats like Nebraska's Ben Nelson. Obama wants to "fully repeal" the Defense of Marriage Act, signed into law by President Clinton in 1996, protecting states from having to recognize same-sex marriages contracted in other states.

Obama's website boldly describes the Senator's position, "Obama also believes we need to fully repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and enact legislation that would ensure that the 1,100+ federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples in civil unions and other legally recognized unions."

When Ben Nelson endorsed Barack Obama for President, the Nebraska Senator claimed, "Those of us on both sides of the aisle who have made it our purpose to set aside partisanship to address some of the important issues of the day want a president that will join the effort, not foil it. Barack Obama, to me, represents the best hope for our own political reconciliation and a future where the cogs of government are working smoothly for progress instead of being gummed up by partisanship. Barack Obama will be the strongest candidate in the heartland, because he puts solutions and consensus first and he inspires great crossover appeal among Republicans and independents."

Ben, are you still giddy about Obama? With his hard line opposition to any and all right to life efforts, his dangerously naive ideas about economics and foreign policy, his lack of principled patriotism, and now his wholesale embrace of the homosexual agenda regarding repeal of DOMA, are you still going to try and act as if this is the guy to bring Americans together? And do you really believe that you can still position yourself as a moderate when you've gone so far out on the limb for the Senate's most liberal member?

3) In a NRO column written by Sabrina Leigh Schaeffer and appearing on the CBS News website, the problem of Obama's many anti-Israel friends and advisors is highlighted. This is another situation that will likely receive more and more publicity, giving Obama an increasingly ugly problem with Jewish voters.

Schaeffer writes, "But with the Democratic nomination all but secured, Jewish voters are likely to start thinking less about the senator’s speeches and more about the company he keeps. As the last two elections reveal, when it comes to the Jewish vote, actions speak louder than words.

While Reverend Wright’s anti-American and anti-Semitic ravings captured the attention of the public for weeks, it’s simply his theatrics that appear to make him the most repellant of Obama’s friends. The senator has tried to dismiss Wright as a 'crazy uncle,' but if you take a closer look at the crowd the senator runs with, it appears he has a whole lot of crazy relatives to disinvite from dinner."

She goes on to detail just some of the worst offenders including Rev. Michael Pfleger, a Catholic pastor at St. Sabina, also on the South Side of Chicago who Obama told the Chicago Sun Times was one of his three spiritual mentors. (Yeah, Jeremiah Wright is in that trio too.)

"Pfleger’s name became more widely recognizable two years ago when Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich appointed a Farrakhan aide to serve on a hate-crimes commission. When the appointee, Sister Claudette, refused to denounce Farrakhan’s racist and anti-Semitic remarks, three Jewish members on the commission resigned - a situation that prompted Pfleger to respond, 'good riddance.'"

Other odious advisors? Retired Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Merrill “Tony” McPeak, Obama's national co-chairman, who has made numerous anti-Semitic and anti-Israel comments. "While the general has a long blame-Israel-first record, the most repugnant remark came during a 2003 interview, when he blamed the Jewish-American community for the failure of the peace process between Israel and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. Despite calls on Senator Obama to remove McPeak as a key adviser, the general continues to serve on the campaign."

There's more...disgustingly more. Read the article here.

4) One more for this morning. And a particularly interesting one at that because this criticism of Barack Obama comes not from the right, not from the center, but from the far, far left. It's a severely negative piece from leftist professor Adolph Reed Jr. in The Progressive that concentrates on Obama's character and political maneuvering.

He struck me then as a vacuous opportunist, a good performer with an ear for how to make white liberals like him. I argued at the time that his fundamental political center of gravity, beneath an empty rhetoric of hope and change and new directions, is neoliberal.

His political repertoire has always included the repugnant stratagem of using connection with black audiences in exactly the same way Bill Clinton did—i.e., getting props both for emoting with the black crowd and talking through them to affirm a victim-blaming “tough love” message that focuses on alleged behavioral pathologies in poor black communities. Because he’s able to claim racial insider standing, he actually goes beyond Clinton and rehearses the scurrilous and ridiculous sort of narrative Bill Cosby has made infamous...

The Obama campaign has even put out a misleading bio of Michelle Obama, representing her as having grown up in poverty on the South Side, when, in fact, her parents were city workers, and her father was a Daley machine precinct captain. This fabrication, along with those embroideries of the candidate’s own biography, may be standard fare, the typical log cabin narrative. However, in Obama’s case, the license taken not only underscores Obama’s more complex relationship to insider politics in Daley’s Chicago; it also underscores how much this campaign depends on selling an image rather than substance.

There is also something disturbingly ritualistic and superficial in the Obama camp’s young minions’ enthusiasm. Paul Krugman noted months ago that the Obamistas display a cultish quality in the sense that they treat others’ criticism or failure to support their icon as a character flaw or sin. The campaign even has a stock conversion narrative, which has been recycled in print by such normally clear-headed columnists as Barbara Ehrenreich and Katha Pollitt: the middle-aged white woman’s report of not having paid much attention to Obama early on, but having been won over by the enthusiasm and energy of their adolescent or twenty-something daughters. (A colleague recently reported having heard this narrative from a friend, citing the latter’s conversion at the hands of her eighteen year old. I observed that three short years ago the daughter was likely acting the same way about Britney Spears.)

Princeton Professor Sean Wilentz, a Clinton supporter, noted that the Obama campaign advisers have tried to have it both ways on the race question. On the one hand, they present their candidate as a figure who transcends racial divisions and “brings us together”; on the other hand, they exhort us that we should support his candidacy because of the opportunity to “make history” (presumably by nominating and maybe electing a black candidate). Increasingly, Obama supporters have been disposed to cry foul and charge racism at nearly any criticism of him, in steadily more extravagant rhetoric.

The campaign’s accusation that the Clinton team made Obama look darker in a photo or video clip than he actually is—and what exactly are we to make of that as an accusation?—and the hysterically indignant reaction to Geraldine Ferraro’s statement that much of Obama’s success stems from the fact that “the country is caught up in the concept” of a black candidacy are no different from the campaign’s touting its “historic” character...

Obama’s style of being all things to all people threatens to melt under the inescapable spotlight of a national campaign against a Republican. It’s like what brings on the downfall of really successful con artists: They get themselves onto a stage that’s so big that they can’t hide their contradictions anymore, and everyone finds out about the different stories they’ve told different people...

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Today's Posts

Tony Blankley: "Conservatism Will Persist and More Often than Not Prevail"

The Gallup Poll Rates America's "Cultural Tolerance"

Drunk Driver Sorry After the Fact

Memo to the Media: The New Cuba is the Old Cuba

California Isn't As Green As It Claims

Why Did Bush Veto the Farm Bill?

When It Comes to Abortion, Watch Not What They Say...But What They Do

Tony Blankley: "Conservatism Will Persist and More Often than Not Prevail"

...Conservatism will persist and more often than not prevail precisely because it realistically describes the human condition. It recognizes the fallen condition of man and thus rejects utopian principles of human perfection, or as conservatives like to say, we refuse to futilely try to immanentize the eschaton (bring heaven on earth). Thus, inter alia ,we understand that, with all its crassness and winners and losers, the power of self-interest drives free markets and free men to maximum and best-distributed human productivity and fulfillment.

But also believing in the redemptive power of our faiths, we encourage the potential of nobility, charity and self-sacrifice also planted in our souls and thus reject the rump materialism, cynicism and duty-free citizenship that is the sour and hollow end product of modern secular liberalism and socialism. After a dose of the latter, the American people invariably return to the abiding truth of conservatism. I am not convinced yet that the public is certain to reject our principles even this November.

Our challenge this political season, as every season, is to bring alive to public understanding the utility of our principles when applied to programs for the general welfare and, conversely, to vividly explain the contradiction inherent in each liberal program that claims to redistribute wealth and rights to the many but inevitably merely expands economic misfortune and reduces freedom for all...

(Tony Blankley's most recent column,"Onward Into Cheerful Political Battle")

The Gallup Poll Rates America's "Cultural Tolerance"

Do you really have any doubts that watching TV, going to movies and reading the MSM newspapers affects the way we think and live? If you do, read through the basics of the latest Gallup "Cultural Tolerance" findings.

The survey voices asked, "Next, I'm going to read you a list of issues. Regardless of whether or not you think it should be legal, for each one, please tell me whether you personally believe that in general it is morally acceptable or morally wrong."

Now, if you've had any training in philosophy, you'll note several problems inherent in the question itself -- the simplistic, rather silly distancing of legality from morality; the "personally believe" emphasizing a merely subjective approach to truth; "in general" opening a wide door to situational ethics; and the oh-so-tolerant switch from the traditional "right vs wrong" to "acceptable vs wrong."

Indeed, the question oozes an opinion of its own; namely, the "moral" issues we're going to ask you are relevant only for intellectual interest and general conversation. Land sake's, child, we certainly aren't suggesting anybody would take these seriously enough to do anything about them!

Even so, the answers given this flawed question still provide plenty about the state of our culture...and the direction in which it is headed.

Divorce: Morally Acceptable 70%......Morally Wrong 22%

Gambling: Morally Acceptable 63%......Morally Wrong 32%

Death Penalty: Morally Acceptable 62%......Morally Wrong 30%
(The survey doesn't ask about any of the crimes for which the death penalty is traditionally given. But I'm supposing that rape, murder, and treason would still rate a "morally wrong" rating.)

Medical research using stem cells obtained from human embryos: Morally Acceptable 62%......Morally Wrong 30%
(Of course, relevant in this question is the use of the positive term "medical research" instead of "scientific experimentation.")

Sex between an unmarried man and woman: Morally Acceptable 61%......Morally Wrong 36%

Medical testing on animals: Morally Acceptable 56%......Morally Wrong 38%

Having a baby outside of marriage: Morally Acceptable 55%......Morally Wrong 41%

Buying and wearing clothing made of animal fur: Morally Acceptable 54%......Morally Wrong 39%

Doctor-assisted suicide: Morally Acceptable 51%......Morally Wrong 44%

Homosexual relations: Morally Acceptable 48%......Morally Wrong 48%
(As always, there is care taken not to specify exactly what is involved in "homosexual relations." Does anyone doubt that the "morally wrong" rating would be much higher if those "relations" were accurately described?)

Abortion: Morally Acceptable 40%......Morally Wrong 48%
(After all these years, how does NARAL, NOW and the Democrat Party explain that half of Americans still see abortion as "morally wrong" and, by strict application of this data, morally unacceptable?)

Cloning animals: Morally Acceptable 33%......Morally Wrong 61%

Suicide: Morally Acceptable 15%......Morally Wrong 78%

Cloning humans: Morally Acceptable 11%......Morally Wrong 85%

Polygamy: Morally Acceptable 8%......Morally Wrong 90%
(It's interesting that the actual survey has to define polygamy before asking for a response to it.)

Married men and women having an affair: Morally Acceptable 7%......Morally Wrong 91%
(Hmm. Makes you wonder how "Desperate Housewives" remains the Number 1 television series in the country, doesn't it?)

Drunk Driver Sorry After the Fact

It's a classic case of hypocrisy, except that in this case several person's lives were at stake.

A 22-year old man gets so agitated and angry because he believes firemen are not acting quickly enough to free his injured mother from a car crash that he ends up taking a swing at one of the firefighters and has to be taken to the ground and restrained there until police arrive to take over.

But the circumstances of the crash reveal that the young man doesn't really care about his mother's safety at all. For he was the driver -- the drunk driver -- who caused the accident in the first place. His mother's endangerment (she was taken to the hospital in extremely critical condition) was all his own fault. As was the endangerment of everybody else on the road, including the other two passengers in his vehicle (women, ages 55 and 20) who were also hospitalized in serious condition.

So where was the young man's "concern" for his mother's safety when he climbed behind the wheel drunk? Where was it when he raced along narrow suburban streets at high rates of speed? Or when he tried to pass another vehicle, losing control and crashing into several parked cars?

The man was eventually charged with DUI, negligent driving, failure to display a driver's license, operating with no insurance, and having no valid vehicle registration.

A Chicago Fire Department spokesman said the drunk driver eventually apologized to firefighters and the Department decided not to press further charges of their own. "He said he was sorry," the CFD spokesman said.

Yeah, they're always sorry...after the terrible damage is done.

Memo to the Media: The New Cuba is the Old Cuba

The Cuban Democratic Directorate reports just one example of the ongoing mistreatment of political prisoners in Cuba. The original post (in Spanish) is here but an English translation is provided by The Real Cuba.

Political prisoner José Daniel Ferrer García, held at Guantánamo Provincial Prison, was attacked by a guard as he attempted to give a firsthand report on prison conditions to activist Juan Carlos González Leiva. The guard attempted to cut the prisoner’s telephone connection, producing a confrontation during which Ferrer shouted slogans against Castro and the dictatorship and in favor of freedom for Cuba. The connection was abruptly cut off.

Ferrer García subsequently managed to reestablish communication and explained what had happened: “They took the telephone from my hands by force, they started to twist my arms around my back. They twisted them in such a way that my wrists are… and great pain in my shoulders. They nearly stuck my twisted arms to the nape of my neck. Then they threw me to the ground and dragged me all along the ground in that position. I do not know how my arms did not break.”

Ferrer García added that they had taken him to the prison’s command office, and that he was subsequently able to return to the telephone.
Just as he was explaining to González Leiva what had happened, he was once again interrupted by the same guard, who abruptly cut the connection. Before they forced him away from the telephone, Ferrer García said that if he were not allowed to use the telephone, he would become a 'plantado," referring to those political prisoners who assume a rebellious and absolutely uncooperative attitude in protest.

"If there is another issue with the telephone, there will be no understanding. I will begin my protest anew then. Juan Carlos, are you listening to me? I will call you in 10 minutes. If I do not call you, José Daniel is in solitary confinement or José Daniel was beaten to death, because as long as José Daniel is capable of thinking, no one will violate his rights.”