Friday, January 29, 2010

Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson: Can He Buy a New Reputation?

Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson is running an expensive TV campaign to try and regain the respect and trust of the voters of his state. But will it work? After all, his TV commercials are full of distortions and outright lies; he has permanently lost the support of Nebraska's pro-life leadership; and his reputation as an honest, straight-talking independent just hasn't matched his recent actions.

It's going to be a hard sell.

Here, for example, are a few of the items which Nelson's TV ads have to overcome.

1) Ben Nelson voted the Democrat party line on extending the U.S. debt limit an additional $1.9 trillion! He did so without shame. Harry Reid wants it; I'll do it. That hardly matches the picture of an independent, forward-looking, fiscal conservative that Nelson's ads are trying to paint.

2) Ben Nelson has been completely silent on his party's illegal actions in the Senate; namely, refusing to seat Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown and continuing to let former Senator Paul Kirk conduct business as usual, including casting that all-important 6oth vote on the debt ceiling. There's no way to spin this -- it is sheer tyranny by the Democrats. Kirk is no longer Senator; Scott Brown won that seat and has been acknowledged by his state officials. For Ben Nelson to smile and go along with this brazen injustice belies his claims to be independent, fair, honest and wanting only what's right for Nebraska. No, as much as anything else in Ben Nelson's craven conduct in recent weeks, his complicity in this illegal power play proves he is not at all the kind of man Nebraskans once thought he was.

3) Among other recent actions of Senator Nelson's that have alarmed former friends is the smug and superior tone he has struck as he presents himself as a straightforward, principled independent. But his deeds portray a conniving (if somewhat inept) back-room dealer.

Sarah Kliff over at Newsweek points out that his flip-flopping on abortion (he formerly has claimed to be a devout pro-lifer) has exposed him to severe criticism from both sides of the issue. She refers to an interview Nelson gave with in which he openly bragged about his duplicitous dealings:

This interview is telling in a number of ways. First, it says a lot about Nelson's views on health-care reform as a means of bartering. The line that sticks out to me is this take on legislating: "You have to play it." From the abortion language to the Cornhusker Kickback, Nelson has reached Lieberman-like levels of posturing himself as the crucial 60th vote and has done so in pretty unflattering ways. What baffles me is why he continues to do so. He has gotten hounded by groups on both sides of the abortion issue who didn't like his compromise and engendered threats of lawsuits.

I could understand facing such blowback for an electoral gain, but Nelson's approval ratings back in Nebraska have plummeted, dropping below 50 percent in mid-January. If you're going to get flak for standing up against abortion, go the Bart Stupak route and embrace it. But this flip-flop approach does not seem to add up to much in the way of gains.

Philip Klein over at The American Spectator says of Nelson's new pose as a clever backroom conniver, "It goes without saying that this is completely absurd. Nelson's leverage was at its peak when Democrats were desperate to pass the Senate health care bill before Christmas, and if he was going to take a principled stand, that was the time to do it. Now that Brown's victory has has made him largely irrelevant, it's easy to say that he was prepared to hold up the bill over abortion language. It is pretty amusing, nonetheless, to see how he tries to squirm his way out of the situation like a second grader in the principal's office."

4) However, Senator Nelson's braggadocio about being a whistle-blower was called something else by President Obama in his State of the Union speech the other night. Said Obama of the "health care reform" bill in the Senate, “I take my share of the blame for not explaining it more clearly to the American people. And I know that with all the lobbying and horse-trading, this process left most Americans wondering what’s in it for them.”

Of course, the horse-trading label fits Ben Nelson more than anybody in town and the now infamous "Cornhusker kickback" made it quite clear that the President's unflattering reference was made directly of the Nebraska Senator. Poor fellow, is there nowhere for Ben Nelson to turn nowadays without being treated like a bad joke? He so much wanted to be likened to James Garner's riverboat gambler but he has ended up more like a Don Knotts clown. And even the Prez is dissing him.

However, Nelson is in desperate denial and just can't see it. He is attempting to present his backroom bartering with Harry Reid wherein Nebraska was to receive a special Medicaid funding deal (a deal which has been scathingly discredited and dropped like a hot potato) as proper politics. But, of course, what it has done is to expose Nelson as a manipulative, secretive, greedy politician...and not a very good one at that. Yet he clings to his tattered dignity as he tells the Washington Times (with a straight face too) that his deal certainly wasn't part of Obama's horse trading remark.

5) And finally, speaking of bad jokes, here's how Senator Nelson's buffoonery is being appreciated outside of Nebraska. The Huffington Post's Sam Stein reports on a bill submitted to the Tennessee General Assembly which would define a lawmaker's trading votes for special favors as criminal bribery. The title of the bill? "The Ben Nelson Act to Ensure Political Integrity."

As I mentioned earlier though, Ben Nelson is in a dull-witted, defiant, denial and he still doesn't get the joke. And he hopes that those high-dollar ads he's now running regularly in Nebraska keep voters from getting the joke too.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Today's Posts

D.C. Security Guards: Pro-Lifers Can't Be Art Lovers

She didn't insist on carry a placard in. She didn't have a costume, bullhorn or even a message T-shirt. Meghan Duke simply had a little pro-life pin on her coat lapel.

And just for that, ham-handed security guards at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. refused her entrance to the facility.

Yes, folks. That's your tax dollars paying goons to keep citizens from going into your tax-supported national museums...because those goons believe their uniform allows them to lord their distorted views of political-correctness over others.

Good grief.

Here's Steven Ertelt with more on the story.

Tim Tebow Blitzed by Feminist Linebackers

While the gross-out ads from Dockers, Bud Light and will break some meaningless boundaries by bringing "Old School"-style humor ("We're streaking!") to Family Hour television, the real Super Bowl controversy is over the ad staring former University of Florida quarterback Tim Tebow.

Read the entirety of Chris Stirewalt's article ("Tim Tebow's Ad Has Left Tangled in Their Knickers") in the Washington Examiner.

Why Does NBC's Football Coverage Need Keith Olbermann?

A.W.R. Hawkins, writing in Human Events, is the latest voice asking NBC to ditch the arrogant, sophomoric, foul-mouthed, ultra-liberal political commentator Keith Olbermann from the network's coverage of football. I've written to NBC before about Olbermann's removal and Mr. Hawkins has stimulated me to do so again.

Hawkins also suggests action by the National Football League which so far has argued that the league wants to stay out of politics and therefore cannot interfere in a company's broadcast decisions.


Ask Rush Limbaugh about the NFL's "neutrality" on such matters.

Furthermore, the NFL has always pressured networks about who is in the booth and what they can say about league rules, officiating, etc. So, yes; it's perfectly proper for them to ask NBC to drop the obnoxious Olbermann.

Here are my latest notes, first to NBC and then to the NFL:

1) Please NBC, you are long overdue in ditching the arrogant, sophomoric, foul-mouthed, ultra-liberal political commentator Keith Olbermann from your football coverage team.

He adds nothing to your coverage; indeed, I can tell you from my own experience (and that of friends) that you are fast losing respect and even viewers because of this extremely offensive, polarizing person.

When the people in the sports bar start booing and yelling at the screen every time Olbermann appears, you know NBC's prestige and earning power are both diminishing. And it's not the kind of good-natured division sports fans once had over Howard Cosell. Oh no; Olbermann's continued rants over on MSNBC are making him a loathsome figure to a huge section of Americans. Please, remove him from football coverage.

2) I write with an appeal to the NFL to do itself a big favor by asking NBC to remove Keith Olbermann from coverage of football. Yes, I've heard the Commissioner and others say that they cannot interfere in a network's employment practices but, let's get real -- we all know the NFL can (and has) exerted tremendous pressure on networks when the league's interests are at stake. Believe me, they are now.

Olbermann's ultra-liberal politics are not the problem. Rather it is his extremely crude, loutish, confrontational behavior on MSNBC that defines his reputation. Therefore, every time he appears to do football coverage, a majority of American sports fans are angry. And many of them are disgusted enough to turn the TV off.

C'mon, Mr. Commissioner. Please ask NBC to help you keep sports fans happy (and watching!). Ask them to keep Keith Olbermann off of their football coverage team.

Here's the contact info:

30 Rockfeller Plaza
New York, NY 10112
(212) 664-4444

National Football League
280 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10017
NFL Public Relations (212) 450-2000
E-mail contacts for the NFL are elusive but this one appears to be accurate for the NFL Commissioner:

Johnny's Furry Fashion Faux Pas

Skater Johnny Weir has upset an animal rights group because he recently wore a costume with a tuft of white fox fur on his left shoulder. it just me thinking there might be issues besides the fur with Johnny's getups?

Reviewing the State of the Disunion Speech

As I mentioned yesterday, we had a pleasant alternative to watching the State of the Union speech last night. We invited Keith, Carol, Karla, Allen and Cindy over (others couldn't make it) to have Yellow Submarine sandwiches, veggies and cookies while enjoying the 1964 Beatles film, "A Hard Day's Night." Terrific flick. Terrific friends.

And it was a lot more fun than enduring what I feared would be a messy, misleading, more-of-the-same performance from our president and his teleprompters.

I was right.

Even the New York Times this morning, though desperately trying to put the best face possible on Barack Obama's effort was forced to admit that he had learned nothing from his negative poll numbers or the Republican victory in Massachusetts.

It was a confident performance, more defiant than contrite, more conversational than soaring. He appealed to and scolded both parties, threatened vetoes, blamed his predecessor and poked fun at lawmakers. The agenda was largely the same, dressed up in fresh packaging, as he offered point-by-point rebuttals to the litany of critiques he hears with increasing frequency. He acknowledged only a failure to explain his policies without retreating an inch on the policies themselves. His main message: “I don’t quit.”

That is a positive spin from the liberal Times of a myopic, arrogant president that remains committed to shoving his broad socialist agenda on the American people.

Below are several more reviews of Obama's speech.

Jonah Goldberg:

There's a story of an ex hausted tenor at La Scala who, facing repeated cries of "Encore," responded that he couldn't go on. A man rose in the audience to say, "You'll keep singing until you get it right."

That seems to be the defining principle of the Obama administration -- whose response to every problem, every setback, every hiccup and challenge has been, simply, "more Obama."

Indeed, for people who aren't sticklers for political jargon, it will be a shock that last night was Obama's first State of the Union Address, since it was his third formal address to a joint session of Congress. Yet for all of the political déjà vu, what was most surprising last night was the degree to which Obama delivered even more of the same.

Washington graybeards and pundits have been insisting that Obama needs to "start over," "reboot" and "tack to the middle" after Scott Brown's win in Massachusetts. But Obama's response last night was to recommit himself to the agenda that has gotten him in so much trouble...

Other politicians are vain, cowardly and insubstantial. They need the courage to change. Meanwhile, Obama is great the way he is.

That is the attitude that has gotten the president in so much trouble. And last night's State of the Union speech showed us that change really isn't easy, particularly for the president.

Law professor Bradley A. Smith (commenting on the President's unprecedented attack in his speech on the Supreme Court):

Tonight the president engaged in demagoguery of the worst kind, when he claimed that last week's Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC, "open[ed] the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections. Well I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities."

The president's statement is false.

The Court held that 2 U.S.C. Section 441a, which prohibits all corporate political spending, is unconstitutional. Foreign nationals, specifically defined to include foreign corporations, are prohibiting from making "a contribution or donation of money or ather thing of value, or to make an express or implied promise to make a contribution or donation, in connection with a Federal, State or local election" under 2 U.S.C. Section 441e, which was not at issue in the case. Foreign corporations are also prohibited, under 2 U.S.C. 441e, from making any contribution or donation to any committee of any political party, and they prohibited from making any "expenditure, independent expenditure, or disbursement for an electioneering communication."

This is either blithering ignorance of the law, or demagoguery of the worst kind.

Nile Gardiner:

But the scant attention paid in the State of the Union speech to US leadership was pitiful and frankly rather pathetic. The war in Afghanistan, which will soon involve a hundred thousand American troops, merited barely a paragraph. There was no mention of victory over the enemy, just a reiteration of the president’s pledge to begin a withdrawal in July 2011. Needless to say there was nothing in the speech about the importance of international alliances, and no recognition whatsoever of the sacrifices made by Great Britain and other NATO allies alongside the United States on the battlefields of Afghanistan. For Barack Obama the Special Relationship means nothing, and tonight’s address further confirmed this.

Significantly, the global war against al-Qaeda was hardly mentioned, and there were no measures outlined to enhance US security at a time of mounting threats from Islamist terrorists. Terrorism is a top issue for American voters, but President Obama displayed what can only be described as a stunning indifference towards the defence of the homeland...

Obama’s world leadership in his first year in office has been weak-kneed and little short of disastrous. He has sacrificed the projection of American power upon the altar of political vanity, with empty speeches and groveling apologies across the world, from Strasbourg to Cairo. He has appeased some of America’s worst enemies, and has extended the hand of friendship to many of the most odious regimes on the face of the earth. Judging by the State of the Union address tonight, we can expect more of the same from an American president who seems determined to lead the world’s greatest power along a path of decline.

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito (in the audience when blasted by the President's criticism of last week's campaign finance decision):

Not true.

Fred Barnes:

Haven’t we heard that speech before, practically every word of it? Maybe it was a year ago when President Obama first addressed Congress. Maybe it was during the campaign. Maybe it was at one of those town halls? Maybe Obama can’t help himself. His speeches just insist on sounding the same.

In any case, Obama delivered the least fresh State of the Union address I’ve ever heard, and I’ve heard more than 30 of them. It was filled with old ideas, campaign cliches, and frequent use of personal pronoun, “I.” That’s the Obama pattern.

The chief takeaway from 70 minutes of presidential oratory was that Obama doesn’t intend to move to the center. Should we have been surprised? Not at all. Obama is no Bill Clinton. He’s an ideologically committed liberal.

National Review editorial:

Everything changes except President Obama. His agenda doesn’t change. He has had no second thoughts about the wisdom of his health-care policies, or any of his policies; resistance is always and only a reason for redoubling. Also unchanging is the condescension with which he articulates his agenda: He faulted himself for not explaining health care well enough to the easily confused American public. The same familiar strawmen dot the landscape of his rhetoric. (Republicans want to “maintain the status quo” on health care. This president is willing to listen to Republican ideas, just so long as he can then forget that he has ever done so.) Narcissism, too, is a constant companion. The opening of the speech, and the end, invited us to regard Obama as the embodiment of the nation. But it is not the country’s future that has suddenly come under doubt. It is his administration’s. It is not the country’s spirit that is in danger of breaking. It is contemporary liberalism’s...

Anyone could find something to agree with in an endless speech, and we will dutifully applaud the president’s professed desire for new nuclear plants. All in all, though, our impression was of an administration that has no real understanding of the political straits in which it finds itself and thus no way to escape them.

Toby Harnden:

A few thoughts after a very long and I though flatly delivered speech by President Barack Obama:

1. He’s not going to pivot towards the centre a la Bill Clinton 1995 – yet.

2. Obama realises many people find him too cool and detached so he laid on the “I feel your pain” stuff with a trowel. But this sat uneasily with the passages in which he tried to be optimistic. It was a difficult thing to pull off and I don’t think he succeeded.

3. The speech was uninspiring. Perhaps deliberately slow. Soaring rhetoric would not have worked. Perhaps the greatest talent Obama has – speechifying – is now not much use to him.

4. He paid lip service to getting health care through Congress but he knows it’s dead.

5. A consistent theme from now until November will be that Republicans are rejectionists and it’s all their fault that Obama’s agenda has been frustrated. But ultimately the Democrats control the White House and both houses of Congress so they’ll be blamed for inaction.

6. Obama has stopped blaming Bush all the time by name. But he did it several times in thinly-veiled references.

7. It’s remarkable how much of a back seat nationals security issues are taking given that the US is engaged in two wars.

8. Obama berating Republicans for being oh-so political simply won’t wash. The President is giving all his speeches in swing states and has given his 2008 campaign manager an enhanced role.

9. It was pretty classless to berate the Supreme Court while Democrats all around them leapt to their feet cheering and guffawing. Obama will suffer for this more than Justice Samuel Alito will for mouthing the words: “Not true.”

10. This speech won’t change the current political dynamic – Obama has much, much more to do.

Wall Street Journal editorial:

So much for all of that Washington talk about a midcourse change of political direction. If President Obama took any lesson from his party's recent drubbing in Massachusetts, and its decline in the polls, it seems to be that he should keep doing what he's been doing, only with a little more humility, and a touch more bipartisanship.

That's our reading of last night's lengthy State of the Union address, which mostly repackaged the President's first-year agenda in more modest political wrapping...

On health care, Mr. Obama offered a Willy Loman-esque soliloquy on his year-long effort, as if his bill's underlying virtues and his own hard work haven't been truly appreciated by the American public. He showed no particular willingness to compromise, save for a claim that he was open to other ideas.

And he re-pitched the health bill now in Congress with the same contradiction—covers more people but saves money too—that all but the most devoted partisans long ago dismissed as unbelievable. The President sounded to us like a man who is still hoping Democrats will find a way to sneak this monstrosity into law despite its unpopularity...

Many of the President's opponents will welcome this failure to change because they sense partisan opportunity. But our guess is most Americans will be disappointed because they sense a Presidency that began with such promise but now finds itself at a crossroads and doesn't really know what to do—except to stay on the same road that got it into trouble. This could be a long year.

Philip Klein:

Last night, CNN did a focus group during the State of the Union Address, and it provided further evidence of the skepticism toward President Obama among independents. As always with focus groups, this needs to be taken with a grain of salt. But a few things worth noting in the video below. First, whenever Obama mentioned "hope," independents reacted negatively, and during the health care portion of the speech, while the reaction meter for Democrats turned up, the reaction among independents dropped like a rock.

Peter Robinson:

As an old speechwriter, Mark, I entirely agree: Obama is bad and getting worse.

Political rhetoric is intended to be effective — to get stuff done. What did Obama need to do tonight? Reassure his liberal base that he remained with them in substance while striking the right rhetorial and stylistic tone to reassure independents that he was still the same cool, composed, and in-control figure they found so appealing during the campaign. What did he actually do? Precisely the reverse. While offering up such stale, unimaginative policy proposals that liberals could only have moaned and gnashed their teeth, Obama adopted a tone of such petulance, peevishness, and condescension that independents could only have recoiled.

Not a single memorable phrase. Not a single image of real freshness or beauty. Just a ponderous, self-indulgent, long-winded botch...

The tone.

Defensive, hectoring, self-righteous, self-referential, and angry. An astonishing performance.

Marc Thiessen:

Listening to President Obama's speech, I could not help wondering how different this night would have been had Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab's bomb not malfunctioned. Four weeks ago our country was the target of a catastrophic terrorist attack. But for the grace of God, Northwest Flight 253 would have crashed into downtown Detroit, killing thousands. Yet just a month later, it is an afterthought for this president. His only mention of the failed attack was a passing reference that he was responding with "better airline security."

Worse, the president's brief discussion of terrorism focused not on what he was doing to defend the country but was, rather, a vigorous defense of himself. His first words on the subject were a chastisement of those who would dare criticize his handling of terrorism, declaring that "all of us love this country" and warning his Republican critics to "put aside the schoolyard taunts about who is tough." It's all about him. No acknowledgement of how close we came to disaster or praise for the brave passengers who subdued the terrorist. No, only this message for his critics: If you question the wisdom of telling a captured terrorist "you have the right to remain silent," you are really questioning the president's patriotism and engaging in childish taunts.

The fact is, the American people have real concerns about Obama's approach to terrorism. They do question the wisdom of eliminating CIA interrogations, closing Guantanamo Bay, bringing the terrorists held there to this country, putting Khalid Shiekh Mohammed and his cohorts on trial in civilian courts, and giving captured terrorists Miranda rights after 50 minutes of questioning. Instead of acknowledging these concerns, Obama dismissed them. It was strange, defensive, arrogant -- and un-presidential.

Cliff May:

National security was not a big subject for Obama tonight. Nevertheless:

North Korea — The sanctions imposed have been serious and effective? That’s just not true.

Iran — The jihadist regime has been isolated? Hardly. There will be consequences if Tehran continues to pursue nuclear weapons? Let’s hope so, but there is bipartisan support in Congress for a serious, “crippling” sanctions bill. We have not yet heard Obama endorse it. Nor has he done anything to assist Iran’s Green Movement.

Iraq — He’s still not connecting the dots. Iraq’s enemies and our enemies in Iraq are al-Qaeda in Iraq and Iran’s proxies there. The war in Iraq is not over. Iraqis will continue to fight on that front.

Nuclear weapons — Ours are not the problem.

Free trade with Colombia — He can make that happen if he’s serious. We’ll see if he is.

Also NB: Nothing on Gitmo; nothing on the Underpants Bomber; nothing on NYC trial of KSM; nothing on Fort Hood (as KLo noted).

Kevin Hassett:

There was much speculation that Obama would change the topic, and reach toward the middle, but the specific proposals mentioned in his speech were mostly cut and pasted out of the same laundry list that was revealed in last year’s budget. It may be news to someone that he is going to wait for things to cool off before pursuing health care, but probably not. More importantly, the things that he has pushed ahead of the health-care agenda, like ending deferral of multinational’s U.S. tax liabilities, have been around longer than Obama has. He had a chance to introduce at least one good new idea, and dropped the ball faster than a Minnesota Vikings running-back. I doubt that Democrats view no news as good news, and they must be feeling disappointed tonight.

Watching him list one costly agenda item after another, I couldn’t help feeling that we need a constitutional amendment that requires politicians to start promises with the words “I want to take your money and.” It might be that such a rule would constrain them, since I can’t imagine anyone having the courage to say, “I want to take your money and use it to pay off the college loan for that rich kid down the block,” and “I want to take your money and use it to help your plumber buy a new wrench.”

Kathryn Jean Lopez:

Where was Fort Hood? Did I miss it?...

Was shrill and defensive and unrepentantly liberal inasmuch as he pushed harder on health care and jobs and the rest.

Mark R. Levin:

I have watched many, many State of the Union speeches. This is the most partisan, least presidential of them all. His rhetoric, his glances at the GOP side, and his almost mocking tone at times — not to mention his over-the-top dissembling about the deficit, among other things — will not, I predict, improve his position with the public. Nor should it.

John Hood:

One Way to Put It -- Is simply this: The president looks like a jerk tonight.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Today's Posts

Country Music Standouts Appearing at Pro-Life Concert

Do you like country music? Will you be anywhere near Indianapolis on April 11th?

Well, whatever your answers were to those two questions, you may want to reconsider them when you learn that the concert I'm hinting about is the first annual Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Concert being held at the Murat Theatre in Indianapolis, Indiana and featuring -- get this -- country music superstars Randy Travis and Collin Raye!

Tickets are on sale now. (Can you say, "road trip?")

But you can also click on this page to find out how you can be a sponsor of this remarkable event and, over on this page, there's plenty of helpful, inspiring information about the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation itself.

How Real Is Hell?

When the subject of hell comes up in Christopher Marlowe's great medieval drama, Dr. Faustus says to Mephistopheles,"I think hell is a fable."

To which the demon (infinitely more knowledgeable on the subject) replies, "Ay, think so still 'til experience change thy mind."

(Eugene Delacroix's masterful depiction of their conversation is at left.)

Christian author, researcher and pastor Randy Alcorn recently came across the following note which expresses a dismissal of hell's reality similar to that made by the tragically naive Faustus.

"You seem to be missing the big point here—the complete absurdity that God hurts people for any reason! Jesus told us God is not like the pagan deities who tortured people in Hades, but that he is forgiving, loving, and caring. If one is willing to look, there's substantial evidence contained in the gospels to show that Jesus opposed the idea of Hell. True, there are a few statements that made their way into the copies of copies of copies of the gospel texts which place “Hell” on Jesus’ lips, but these adulterations came along many decades after his death."

Randy's response is given in full on his blog and I urge you to check it out. It's very good. Very honest. And thoroughly biblical. But as a teaser, I print below an excerpt.

...This comment is misinformed. The truth is that the oldest and most reliable biblical manuscripts include Christ’s explicit statements about Hell. The gospel writers didn’t make up their Lord’s words in the gospels. They simply recorded them. And the hyper-careful scribes didn’t add them to the manuscripts, they simply copied them, word for word, from one to another.

The truth is that Jesus spoke more about Hell than anyone else in all of Scripture. (Because of its importance, I devoted a chapter of my book If God Is Good to the subject of Hell.) Jesus referred to Hell as a real place and described it in graphic terms (see Matthew 10:28; 13:40–42; Mark 9:43–48). He spoke of a fire that burns but doesn’t consume, an undying worm that eats away at the damned, and a lonely and foreboding darkness.

Christ says the unsaved “will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:12). Jesus taught that an unbridgeable chasm separates the wicked in Hell from the righteous in paradise. The wicked suffer terribly, remain conscious, retain their desires and memories, long for relief, cannot find comfort, cannot leave their torment, and have no hope (see Luke 16:19–3 1).

Our Savior could not have painted a bleaker picture of Hell...

Why do I believe in an eternal Hell? Because Jesus clearly and repeatedly affirmed its existence. As [Dorothy] Sayers suggested, you cannot dismiss Hell without dismissing Jesus...

Who are we to think we are better than Jesus?

Or that when it comes to Hell, or anything else, we know better than he does?

God determined he would rather endure the torment of the Cross on our behalf than live in Heaven without us. Apart from Christ, we would all spend eternity in Hell. But God so much wants us not to go to Hell that he paid a horrible price on the cross so we wouldn’t have to. This can be distorted into self-congratulation: if God paid such a great price for us, we must be extremely valuable. A better perspective is that if God had to pay such a great price for us, it emphasizes both the extent of his love and the extent of our evil.

Jesus asks a haunting question in Mark 8:36–37: “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?”

The price has been paid, but we can’t benefit from forgiveness unless we choose to receive it. A convicted criminal may be offered a pardon, but if he rejects it, he remains condemned.

By denying Hell’s reality, we lower the stakes of redemption and minimize Christ’s work on the cross. If Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection didn’t deliver us from a real and eternal Hell, then his work on the cross is less heroic, less potent, less consequential, and less deserving of our worship and praise...

Popular British Novelist Suggests the Creation of Street Corner "Euthanasia Booths"

The novelist Martin Amis is calling for "euthanasia booths" to be set up on street corners in Great Britain, places where the elderly can get a medal for drinking a lethal martini.

Is it a sick joke? Not at all. Though clearly trying to create publicity for his new book, the 60-year old Amis is quite in earnest about promoting a general push for the elderly to die and get out of the way. For only by such extreme measures, he believes, can the country avoid an all-out "civil war" between the generations.

Here's the story with a good related article here.

You Gotta' Be There: The Nebraska Walk for Life!

Here's the deal:

The 35th Annual Nebraska Walk for Life sponsored by Nebraska Right to Life is coming up this Saturday. The event serves several important purposes, not the least of which is to commemorate the millions and millions of unjust deaths of preborn boys and girls killed by abortion since January 22nd, 1973.

Those children deserve our remembering and our mourning.

And they also deserve our ongoing dedication to promote the sanctity of human life in our culture. In this purpose also, the Walk for Life is a compelling success for participants are inspired, encouraged, informed and equipped to better meet the various challenges facing pro-life Christians.

The Walk begins on the west side of the State Capitol in Lincoln at 10:30 a.m. There those gathered together listen to brief remarks from NRL leaders and pro-life statesmen. They are usually given a bit of a "teaser" too from the Walk's special guest. That person also has a major address which is given later at the UNL Student Union when the Walk itself has concluded.

Also, while still at the Capitol, we pray together, are led in a pledge of allegiance and the singing of the national anthem, and then contemplate the impact of legalized abortion in our country as helium balloons representing the unnecessary dead are released. It's always a very moving moment.

Then the Walk through the streets of Lincoln, cordoned off temporarily by local police. The Walk is completely peaceful, legal and upbeat. It takes about 20 minutes to complete the course from the Capitol to the Student Union. There, inside the warm, historic building, there are information booths (including one sponsored by Vital Signs Ministries), bake sale items and the formal presentation of the year's speaker.

Please come join us for this year's Walk for Life. It is an extremely important event, one which will provide inspiration for many. You will, for instance, be part of a public witness to lawmakers and to the general public across the state. But your presence will also be a foundation for your own conversations with friends, family and co-workers throughout the year. So dress warmly and bring the family.

By the way, this year's speaker is Jane Hampton Cook from Fox News. She will be talking about the aims for our nation desired by our Founding Fathers and how those aims relate to pro-life advocates of the modern era. The event concludes by1:00 p.m.

Again, please make plans to attend. And be sure and come up and say hello. You'll see us at the VSM booth at the Student Union and, quite likely, before that up at the Capitol building. That's because our pink, green and yellow banners kinda' catch the eye! See you Saturday.

What Should (But Won't) Be in the State of the Union Speech

I will not be watching the President give the State of the Union speech this evening. Instead we're having some friends over to watch the approriately-titled "A Hard Day's Night." (Come th think of it, the Beatles other film also has a relevant title for tonight, Help!")

Anyhow, whether you watch it or not, here's an excellent standard to compare it too, an insightful and visionary manifesto written by Edwin J. Feulner, President of The Heritage Foundation.

Just When the World Needs It Most: ABBAWORLD!

Because of my lengthy participation in a close-knit support group (Bookish, Otherwise Discriminating Adults Who Admit to Liking the Bee Gees, ABBA and Elvis in his Vegas Period), I'm able to say in public that I still listen (often and with sustained delight) to the music produced by the Swedish super-group, ABBA.

Nevertheless, the Arrival in London of the museum/theme park, ABBAWORLD, is just too, too weird. I mean, over 30,000 square feet of a Dream World where visitors can be the Dancing Queen alongside holographs of Frida and Agnetha, look at a re-creation of the cabin near Stockholm where Benny & Bjorn composed many of their hits, and even imagine they can Fly Like an Eagle on the actual helicopter pictured on the cover of their 1976 album?

That's eerie.

But When All Is Said and Done, ABBAWORLD is primarily about Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! The creators hope the displays and the kitschy merchandise will take the Money, Money, Money from the Super Troupers and others among The Visitors who remain Head Over Heels over ABBA. And yes, The Winner Takes It All.

Here's how it goes down.

Ring, Ring. Hello, Nina, Pretty Ballerina. This is Angeleyes; I've Been Waiting for You. What do you say Honey, Honey -- you want to Put On Your White Sombrero, Move On and meet me at Waterloo tube station and go Take a Chance on this ABBAWORLD thing? Knowing Me, Knowing You, we'll have a great time.

What's that you say? Does Your Mother Know? Okay, Chiquitita, you can bring your Mamma Mia along too; She's My Kind of Girl. One of Us can look after her. Huh? You say Fernando wants to come too? Well, He Is Your Brother. And Elaine? And On and On and On?

C'mon now, Baby. What's The Name of the Game here? Dum Dum Diddle and Bang-A-Boomerang, I was hoping for a One Man, One Woman kind of date. But it seems like that's Slipping Through My Fingers.

Okay, My Love, My Life. I get it. Yes, I love your family. Really. I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do. Yes, darling, even Tiger and Lady Bird and Rikky Rock'n Roller. Bring 'em all to ABBAWORLD. Who cares? Money? Sure, I've got enough for everybody. For crying out loud, I Am A Musician. Okay, Hasta Mañana. But, lover, please remember this, alright? You Owe Me One.

Would Your Church Be Missed?

Diane Singer's church (First Baptist of Huntsville, Alabama) narrowly missed being taken out by a tornado last week. The picture of the near-miss became a bit of sensation on the internet (I post it here too) but the event prompted a provocative commentary on Breakpoint.

Particularly challenging were Diane's concluding questions:

If a tornado destroyed your church building tomorrow, would your community even notice its absence? Is your church making the kind of impact on your community that brings help to the helpless, comfort to the hurting, light to those living in spiritual darkness, and glory to the Lord? Do people in your community generally view your church as a blessing, or as something less positive? Would your church be missed?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Today's Posts

President Obama Speaks at Elementary School (With the Help of 2 Teleprompters)

And yesterday's winner of the "You Just Couldn't Make This Stuff Up" Award goes to Barack Obama. (Our president, of course, is a frequent contributor to this category.)

The Prez wins this particular prize for his delivery of a short speech at a Virginia elementary school -- a speech in which he had to use two teleprompters which were in plain sight of the audience and TV cameras.

What a genius. What a gifted orator. And what an example for the kids.

"Don't worry about your parents and teachers trying to dissuade you from using cheat sheets or copying internet sources for your reports. Look at me. I'm the President of the United States and I'm acting like I can give a speech confidently, intelligently, and easily any time I want when all I'm really doing is reading somebody else's stuff from off these fancy gadgets. And, like in this case, I don't even bother to hide 'em."

In his remarks, President Obama praised the school for "using innovative approaches to provide effective teaching." Hmm. Maybe those teleprompters didn't have to be lugged all the way from the White House. They just set up the ones the kids normally use for classroom presentations.

I'm afraid that President Obama is giving the bully pulpit a somewhat different connotation than the one Americans were used to.

British Churches Exempt from Hiring Homosexuals...For a Little While Anyhow

Whew. That's a relief -- but only for a while.

Remember back in November I alerted you to a move by the British government (pressured by the EU) to drop legal protection for churches and religious organizations who refuse to hire homosexuals. The government planned to eliminate the conscience exemptions that had been part of the Equality Bill by getting approval in the House of Commons (which it did easily) and then in the House of Lords.

And that's where the government ran into Baroness Detta O'Cathain. Lady O'Cathain, already a lightning rod to the liberal press because of her social conservatism, introduced an amendment which would keep the religious exemptions in place. The amendment held 216 to 178.

However, the government was insistent and came back again. Such is the passion for intolerance when it comes to homosexual activism. Two further votes were forced as the government knowingly distorted their intentions and otherwise pressured the Lords. By the final vote, the margin had been ground down to a mere 5 votes.

Expect that this fight to protect religiously-based conscience (reflecting, it should be added, the moral consensus of millenia) is a long way from being over.

Commission or Omission: The Church's Ministry to the Disabled

For information on how you can get involved in helping the Christian Institute on Disability (and how the Institute can help you in your own ministry!), please check out this web site.

The Court's Campaign Finance Decision: It's Not What the Media Is Telling You

Setting the record straight is what John Stossel does best. And in this article in his new blog, John Stossel's Take (hosted by Fox in it's Business Section), he describes how badly botched was the mainstream media coverage of last week's Supreme Court decision on campaign finance law.

Stossel calmly, carefully exposes the glaring errors made in what were less news stories than they were MSM opinion pieces and he then explains why McCain-Feingold "reforms" were actually quite injurious to free speech.

He concludes with a celebration of how the Court gave the people a bit of their democracy back:

What campaign finance laws did was hand the power and control back to incumbent politicians and the political parties. The laws left "ordinary citizens" with only one way to make their voices heard: Make a contribution to a candidate or a political party.

Not anymore.

Keep that in mind when you hear the media describing last week's ruling as a victory for "corporations". The Supreme Court also empowered ordinary citizens to band together and speak freely.

FYI: John Stossel also has a new TV program airing Thursdays at 8 p.m. on the Fox Business Network.

Has Chavez Finally Gone Too Far?

Venezuelan tyrant Hugo Chavez just shut down Radio Caracas Television and 5 other cable TV channels because they wouldn't serve as mere megaphones for the dictator's failing agenda. Indeed, these stations had such anti-socialist gall that they refused to broadcast every ranting speech Chavez made.

But RCTV was the worst offender. The staff there went so far as to actually oppose certain of Chavez' policies in on-air editorials. The strongman had been threatening to pull their plug for some time unless they got in line. They didn't. And so, as of January 24, RCTV and the others have been driven into stone cold silence.

The Fairness Doctrine, Hugo Chavez style. Complete government control of the airwaves.

I wonder if Nancy Pelosi and Al Franken are taking notes.

However, it turned out that shutting down RCTV just added to the dictator's many woes. As an immediate result, major protests have erupted in Caracas and other Venezuelan cities. Chanting crowds confronted by police, street demonstrations met with tear gas cannisters, fights between pro-Chavez and pro-democracy groups, a student killed and several officers injured in the city of Merida, a couple of the Chavez inner circle resigning -- Chavez may indeed be reaching the end of his countrymen's endurance.

But how can anyone be surprised? For not only has Venezuela been forced to swallow Chavez' swelling egoism, his attraction to unjust regimes the world over, and his ever-increasing war on individual liberties, the once prosperous and noble nation is a mess.

As Ray Walser points out in this entry at The Foundry (the blog of the Heritage Foundation):

Increasing polarization is the result of mounting problems occasioned by Chavez’s disastrous “Socialism of the 21st Century” that include galloping inflation, recurring power outages, and periodic food shortages.

Chavez has resorted to increasingly restrictive measures ranging from currency devaluation to the nationalization of retail stores to shore up his struggling oil-based economy. He has driven his nation’s economy to the bottom of the barrel.

The Heritage Foundation and Wall Street Journal 2010 Index of Economic Freedom released last week handed Venezuela’s statist economy a ranking of 174th out of 179 rated economies, placing it on par with Burma, Cuba, North Korea and Zimbabwe.

So here's to the voices of freedom in Venezuela. May their long nightmare soon be over. And, in particular, I lift a prayer for station RCTV. May it soon be back on the air, celebrating a re-birth of liberty, prosperity and democracy in Venezuela.

Science vs Theology?

Is science in competition with religion? Or do they each provide enlightenment but of different dimensions of life?

Or is truth an indivisible (if magnificently complex) unity, making scientific inquiry, prayer and careful study of the Bible all legitimate partners in the quest for knowledge?

Steve Cable from Probe Ministries weighs in on the controversy.

The current view promoted as dogma by many in academia is that acceptable, genuine science is based on a theological presupposition, namely, that any possibility of intervention by a transcendent Creator or other non-physical entity must be excluded from consideration in evaluating possible explanations for any phenomena observed in the physical world...

In a similar fashion, a common viewpoint promoted in some theological circles is that theology trumps science in any areas in which they have an intersecting interest, i.e. a viewpoint that looks only at the Bible without allowing its interpretation of Scripture to be informed by the findings of science. From this viewpoint, science is at best a limited field of study looking at only a small part of reality, and at worst is spending large amounts of resources studying an illusion masquerading as reality. It is assumed that science cannot provide insights to help deepen our understanding of theology.

I propose that both of these viewpoints share a common shortcoming of prejudging the result before examining the evidence. Both scientist and theologians should be free to follow the evidence where it leads, whether the evidence comes from observation of the physical aspects of our universe, or from philosophy and logic, or from divine revelation...

If God is the Creator of the universe and the Bible is revelation directly from God, then accurate observation of the universe will ultimately prove to be consistent with His revelation. By combining the general revelation of science with the special revelation of the Bible, we should be rewarded with a greater understanding of the nature of our Creator and His intentions for mankind.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Today's Posts

"Scientist" Admits Fudging on UN Report...But It Was In a Good Cause

Here's a bit more about that popular (but alas, completely bogus) claim in a Nobel Prize-winning UN report that Himalayan glaciers will have all melted by 2035 that I mentioned to you last week.

It turns out that the glacier scientist who included the claim in the UN report, Dr. Murari Lal, knew full well that the claim skated on thin ice and was not supported by peer-reviewed scientific research.

So why put it in? Why prostitute his profession and risk damage to his standing as an objective scientist?

Simple. When it comes to global warming, politics trumps science.

"[The Himalayan matter] related to several countries in this region and their water sources. We thought that if we can highlight it, it will impact policy-makers and politicians and encourage them to take some concrete action."

In other words, if the scientific facts don't swing the deal, just throw in scientific-sounding lies.

Enthusiasm Wanes for Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Michael Cook mentions in this brief BioEdge post a couple of examples showing that "the bloom is off the rose" of embryonic stem cell research. The first is a January 17th editorial from Investor's Business Daily about the utter failure of California's $3 billion Proposition 71 ("When funding was needed, the phrase 'embryonic stem cells' was used. When actual progress was discussed, the word 'embryonic' was dropped because [the ESCR] never got out of the lab.") and the second is a January 19th Daily Mail story refering to even the International Society for Stem Cell Research admitting that "people’s expectations about stem cells are unrealistically high."

Though You Couldn't Tell By Western Press Reports, Al Qaeda Specializes in Killing Muslims

Al Qaeda does one thing extremely well: killing Muslims. Between 2006 and 2008, only 2 percent of the terror multinational's victims were Westerners.

The rest were citizens of Muslim countries. Even as al Qaeda claims to be their defender.

I've long complained that we fail to capitalize on al Qaeda's blood thirst in our information operations. Al Qaeda (as well as the Taliban and other insurgent groups) slaughters Muslims -- yet we let the media flip the blame to us.

Last weekend, a Pentagon insider passed me a no-nonsense study recently released by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point. "Deadly Vanguards: A Study of al Qaeda's Violence Against Muslims" is exactly the kind of work our analysts should produce -- but rarely do.

Using exclusively Arabic-language media reports and including only those incidents for which al Qaeda proudly claimed responsibility, this scrupulously documented study explodes the myth of al Qaeda as a champion of Muslims...

Continue reading Ralph Peters' New York Post article here.

"Too Much of a Bad Thing"

In case you missed your weekend Mark Steyn moment, circle back and read his take on Barack Obama's claim that the long tumble he's taken in the polls is because he hasn't talked to the American people enough!

Go ahead, "Too Much of a Bad Thing" will be just enough of a good thing to start your Monday morning right.

Barack Obama: Abortion Is a "Fundamental Constitutional Right"

"Today we recognize the 37th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, which affirms every woman’s fundamental constitutional right to choose whether to have an abortion, as well as each American’s right to privacy from government intrusion. I have, and continue to, support these constitutional rights."

(President Barack Obama, from a White House press release, January 22nd, 2010)

Obama's Myths Exposed

We the people of the United States owe Scott Brown's sup porters a huge debt of gratitude. They didn't merely elect a senator. They ripped the façade off the Obama presidency.

Just as Dorothy and Toto exposed the ordinary man behind the curtain in "The Wizard of Oz," the voters in Massachusetts revealed that, in this White House, there is no there there.

It's all smoke and mirrors, bells and whistles, held together with glib talk, Chicago politics and an audacious sense of entitlement.

At the center is a young and talented celebrity whose worldview, we now know, is an incoherent jumble of poses and big-government instincts. His self-aggrandizing ambition exceeds his ability by so much that he is making a mess of everything he touches.

He never advances a practical idea. Every proposal overreaches and comes wrapped in ideology and a claim of moral superiority. He doesn't listen to anybody who doesn't agree with him.

After his first year on the job, America is sliding backwards, into grave danger at home and around the world. So much so that I now believe either of his rivals, Hillary Clinton or John McCain, would have made a better, more reliable and more trustworthy president.

They warned us he wasn't ready.

Yes, we're stuck with him, but we're no longer stuck with his suffocating conformity. The second Boston Tea Party opened the door to new ideas and new people of both parties...

Michael Goodwin takes no prisoners in this wry and witty overview of Barack Obama's first year. Read the rest of his article in the New York Post here.

Thank the Pro-Life Movement for the Defeat of ObamaCare

"Indeed, more than anything else, the conflict over abortion funding is responsible for the delay, and quite possibly the eventual defeat, of Obamacare."

Michael J. New has a timely and encouraging article at NRO about the strong comeback the pro-life movement made in 2009. New discusses the increased public support of pro-life positions and minor pro-life gains even within the Democrat Party but concentrates most of his commentary on the surprising effectiveness of pro-lifers in opposing the various Democrat schemes to sneak abortion (and abortion funding) into health care reform. Interesting reading.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Today's Posts

More Exciting Adult Stem Cell Successes

Story One:

A number of different reports have shown that adult stem cells can save limbs that might otherwise have been amputated. The most recent results, published in Bone Marrow Transplantation, reported salvage of legs in seven out of nine patients treated with their own peripheral blood adult stem cells. The paper also gives a nice summary of some of the previous clinical trials in this area.

Critical limb ischemia, the severe loss of oxygen to extremities, is an end-stage of peripheral artery disease (PAD). often results in amputation of the affected limb, and can be life-threatening. Cathy Ballzigler almost lost her life, but after receiving her own adult stem cells, both her life and her leg were saved. Tom Fisher is another example; he was facing amputation of his leg due to diabetic complications, but the leg was saved after injection of his own adult stem cells.

A few of the clinical trials currently available.

(David Prentice, FRC Blog post, January 20)

Story Two:

A new adult stem cell treatment developed in the UK has restored sight to several patients in a trial. Researchers at the North East England Stem Cell Institute regrew the outside membrane of damaged corneas from stem cells taken from a healthy eye. All of them were suffering from limbal stem cell deficiency, a painful eye disease that prevents the cornea from renewing itself.

Dr Francisco Figueiredo, who co-led the project, told the London Telegraph: "Corneal cloudiness has been estimated to cause blindness in eight million people worldwide each year. The stem cell treatment option is aimed at total cure rather than symptom relief only. This new treatment will alleviate patient suffering and remove the need for long term multiple medications as well as returning the patient to functional and social independence."

A larger trial with a longer follow-up will be carried out to determine whether the treatment is reliable, safe and effective in the long term.

(Michael Cook, BioEdge post, January 22)

Media Ignores Persecuted Christians

Cliff May posted this at NRO's The Corner:

"Mosques Under Attack in France"

The headline above is not true. But if it were, it would be huge story, would it not?


"In Nigeria this week, Muslim youths set fire to a church, killing more than two dozen Christian worshippers. In Egypt, Coptic Christians have been suffering increased persecution including, this month, a drive-by shooting outside a church in which seven people were murdered. In Pakistan, Christian churches were bombed over Christmas. In Turkey, authorities have been closing Christian churches, monasteries, and schools, and seizing Christian properties. Recently, churches in Malaysia have been attacked, too, provoked by this grievance: Christians inside the churches were referring to God as 'Allah.' How dare infidels use the same name for the Almighty as do Muslims."

Why, to most of the media, is this not a story? My NRO column today is on the war being waged — with little press attention — against infidels within the “Muslim world.”

77% of U.S. Investors See Obama as Anti-Business

Joblessness. Inflation. Economic cluelessness. Ludicrous bailouts. Cash for clunkers. Boondoggle bills. Taxing banks. High-handed but hypocritical harranguing. Blaming others for his own failed policies. Appointing tax dodgers to his cabinet. An arrogant attack mode towards business. Trampling the Constitution to kill cash cows.

Is there any surprise then at the opening paragraph of this Bloomberg/Yahoo story?

U.S. investors overwhelmingly see President Barack Obama as anti-business and question his ability to manage a financial crisis, according to a Bloomberg survey. The global quarterly poll of investors and analysts who are Bloomberg subscribers finds that 77 percent of U.S. respondents believe Obama is too anti-business and four-out-of-five are only somewhat confident or not confident of his ability to handle a financial emergency.

Live from Washington! It's the Blogs for Life Conference.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Today's Posts

The March for Life, The Walk for Life, and Blogs for Life: YOU Can Participate!

As I hinted yesterday might be the case, I am blogging today not from Washington, D.C. but from Omaha. Claire and I were scheduled to fly to the nation's capital for the March for Life and other activities but we got an early morning phone call yesterday telling us that my Mom had been taken in to the emergency room at Immanuel Hospital.

She is now okay but we didn't get her back to her room at the Life Care Center until after noon. By then, it was probably too late for us to make our flight anyhow but we just didn't feel comfortable leaving town under the circumstances.

So we will miss direct participation in the annual March for Life in Washington and the Blogs for Life conference at the Family Research Council. That's a bummer.

However...thanks to the advances in technology, we don't have to miss them entirely. Indeed, we invite you to join us here tomorrow morning for a live webcast of the Blogs for Life conference beginning at 7:30 CST.

And you can even join the thousands of pro-life Americans who will...get going on a Virtual March for Life thanks to the clever folks at Americans United for Life. You can select your own "avatar" (it's an old word, doesn't mean I'm endorsing the pantheistic movie which uses it as a title) and join tomorrow's March. CLaire and I signed up; you can too. Click here to learn how.

And finally, the most important word of all for those of you here in Nebraska, is please plan on attending the Walk for Life in Lincoln a week from Saturday. (Details are right here.) This may well be one of the most important Walks for Life ever held in our state and it is of critical importance that we increase (by big bunches) the evangelical support of this inspirational public witness. C'mon, join us in Lincoln!

Ben Nelson Doesn't Act Like Ben Nelson Talks

Sen. Ben Nelson (D., Neb.) reacts to the Massachusetts election in a statement:

“Clearly, the vote showed that people are frustrated with Washington...and I am too. That frustration will likely register across the board for all incumbents. The overriding message from yesterday is that people are upset because Washington is dysfunctional and not working together for them. The Massachusetts vote should be a wake-up call for Washington. Republicans now have 41 votes in the Senate, Democrats and Independents have 59. The 60/40 split that took us too far down the road to partisan gamesmanship is history. The vote should end the situation where one side thinks it doesn’t need the other, and the other thinks there’s no need to work together for the good of the nation."

(The rest of the statement is pap. Nelson, facing tanking approval numbers back home, proceeds to use the words "bipartisan" and "bipartisanship" a half-dozen times in the span of as many sentences.)

But the upshot is clear enough: Now that the Democrats lack a supermajority in the Senate (and, more importantly, now that Ben Nelson is no longer its 60th vote) it is time to stop all the odious quid pro quo, special favors, and backroom kickbacks it took to keep that caucus together.

Well, he should know.

(Daniel Foster, "Ben Nelson Finds Religion," NRO, January 20)

Mort Zuckerman Turns On Obama

Mortimer B. Zuckerman, chairman and editor in chief of U.S. News & World Report and publisher of the New York Daily News (and one of the richest men in the world) has paid close attention to Barack Obama's first year in the Oval Office. After all, that's Zuckerman's job. But he was also concerned as a citizen, a naturalized citizen who generously supports Democrat politicians and is particularly interested (as should we all be) in the freedom and prosperity of Israel.

Zuckerman is one of the many who bought into Obama's promises of hope, positive change, non-partisanship, unity, transparency, fiscal responsibility, etc. Indeed, Mort Zuckerman was a fellow who really went out on the limb for Obama. He voted for him. His newspaper endorsed him. He was constant and energetic in his support.

But now -- Mort Zuckerman is anything but pleased.

Here's a portion of his article in The Daily Beast:

Obama punted on the economy and reversed the fortunes of the Democrats in 365 days.

He’s misjudged the character of the country in his whole approach. There’s the saying, “It’s the economy, stupid.” He didn’t get it. He was determined somehow or other to adopt a whole new agenda. He didn’t address the main issue.

This health-care plan is going to be a fiscal disaster for the country. Most of the country wanted to deal with costs, not expansion of coverage. This is going to raise costs dramatically.

In the campaign, he said he would change politics as usual. He did change them. It’s now worse than it was. I’ve now seen the kind of buying off of politicians that I’ve never seen before. It’s politically corrupt and it’s starting at the top. It’s revolting.

Five states got deals on health care—one of them was Harry Reid’s. It is disgusting, just disgusting. I’ve never seen anything like it. The unions just got them to drop the tax on Cadillac plans in the health-care bill. It was pure union politics. They just went along with it. It’s a bizarre form of political corruption. It’s bribery. I suppose they could say, that’s the system. He was supposed to change it or try to change it...

Obama’s ability to connect with voters is what launched him. But what has surprised me is how he has failed to connect with the voters since he’s been in office. He’s had so much overexposure. You have to be selective. He was doing five Sunday shows. How many press conferences? And now people stop listening to him. The fact is he had 49.5 million listeners to first speech on the economy. On Medicare, he had 24 million. He’s lost his audience. He has not rallied public opinion. He has plunged in the polls more than any other political figure since we’ve been using polls. He’s done everything wrong. Well, not everything, but the major things.

I don’t consider it a triumph. I consider it a disaster...

I hope there are changes. I think he’s already laid in huge problems for the country. The fiscal program was a disaster...

It’s very sad. It’s really sad.

He’s improved America’s image in the world. He absolutely did. But you have to translate that into something. Let me tell you what a major leader said to me recently. “We are convinced,” he said, “that he is not strong enough to confront his enemy. We are concerned,” he said “that he is not strong to support his friends.”

The political leadership of the world is very, very dismayed. He better turn it around. The Democrats are going to get killed in this election. Jesus, looks what’s happening in Massachusetts...

I can’t predict things two years from now, but if he continues on the downward spiral he is on, he won’t be reelected. In the meantime, the Democrats have recreated the Republican Party. And when I say Democrats, I mean the Obama administration. In the generic vote, the Democrats were ahead something like 52 to 30. They are now behind the Republicans 48 to 44 in the last poll. Nobody has ever seen anything that dramatic.

Ft. Hood Report Doesn't Mention Islam, Doesn't Even Mention the Terrorist's Name

Even TIME magazine is bothered by the government's Ft. Hood massacre report.

The U.S. military's just-released report into the Fort Hood shootings spends 86 pages detailing various slipups by Army officers but not once mentions Major Nidal Hasan by name or even discusses whether the killings may have had anything to do with the suspect's view of his Muslim faith. And as Congress opens two days of hearings on Wednesday into the Pentagon probe of the Nov. 5 attack that left 13 dead, lawmakers want explanations for that omission...

Here's the rest.