Friday, February 26, 2010

Let the Weekend Begin with a Grin

To help start your weekend with a smile, may I announce the winners of the year's Top Three Comic Posts from Vital Signs Blog? We waited for the Florida numbers to come in and so here are the official winners:

3) Is That Helen?

2) Cute But Clueless

and 1) You Gotta' Take Time to Sing and Dance!

Today's Posts

Rep. Anthony Weiner Is His Own Joke

Democrat Congressman from New York City, Anthony Weiner, is a liberal of the first rank, complete with a 100% rating from NARAL, a $47,000 fine because of financial misconduct in one of his reelection campaigns, and a tendency to shoot his mouth off in remarkably inane ways, as in this comment on the House floor yesterday, "Every single Republican I have ever met in my entire life is a wholly owned subsidiary of the insurance industry."

See the accompanying video clip and note that Weiner's outrageous statement comes after he's been called for inappropriate behavior on the House floor and has time to consider what he's going to say.

No humorous commentary is needed here.

Congressman Weiner is his own joke.

Mopping Up After Obama's Sorrowful Summit

Regarding the President's televised health care "summit meeting," I mentioned in a post from yesterday that "The Republicans have it all over the Dems on substance. Obama wanted political theater but he sure didn't want the stars of the show to be Tom Coburn and John Kyl! A very bad move on Obama's part. His desperation and his unbelievable ego are getting him in deeper trouble still."

By the time the dust settled, the emerging star of the proceedings turned out to be Republican Congressman Paul Ryan.

Responses from across the media landscape agree that the Republicans stole the show, despite having less than half the time than was given to the Democrats. For it was the members of the G.O.P. who were on target with specific numbers, specific issues, specific proposals. The Dems, meanwhile, distorted the facts when they weren't ignoring them altogether. They told a lot of sad stories but gave no compelling reasons to prove their bill would solve even the problems they wailed about.

But, above them all, using more time himself than given either to other Democrats or Republicans was Barack Obama, looking more like an priggish, condescending substitute teacher than he did the President of the United States. The forum itself lessened him but his conduct during it (smug, dismissive, scolding) was a disaster.

Obama won nothing yesterday. But he lost a whole lot...even beyond the health care reform mess. For Americans saw him as churlish rather than charming, disingenuous rather than disarming. Indeed, Barack Obama seemed to go out of his way yesterday to be rude and petty -- the barbs thrown at John McCain and Eric Cantor were the kind that made even friends of the President wince. Fair-minded, non-partisan, open-minded he was not.

So why did he double down with such a risky gamble? With the American people so remarkably opposed to the ObamaCare package (not to mention those Democrats who are looking to lose in the next election because of the issue), why did the President attempt this unprecedented 6-hour infomercial...with the Republicans on hand to drop in reminders of how bloated and boondoggle a product it was?

Jonah Goldberg answers those questions in this blog post at NRO's The Corner: "I think one of the great explanations for the mess the Obama administration is in — the whole cowbell dynamic — is that he, his advisers and many of his fans in the press cannot fully grasp or appreciate the fact that he is not as charming to everyone else as he is to them (or himself). Hence, they think that the more he talks, the more persuasive he will be. Every president faces a similar problem which is why, until Obama. every White House tried to economize the deployment of the president's political capital. The Obama White House strategy is almost the rhetorical version of its Keynesianism, the more you spend, the bigger the payoff."

I agree.

But also contributing to the schoolyard overconfidence of the President and the Democrat Party is their unwillingness to acknowledge 2 things: 1) the growing power of the alternative media and 2) the fact that even many journalists in "the old media" no longer feel the leg tingles anymore in Barack Obama's presence. A year of bad governing, petulant posturing, and putting off press conferences has made them more...uh...objective. Thus, as Jill Stanek runs it down here, several in the liberal media acknowledged that the Republicans took the wreath in yesterday's "summit" game.

Again, to put on this strange TV show was one of Barack Obama's worst political decisions of his career. He had a bad product. He had a very unpopular product. He performed poorly in pitching it --- as did his pitiful Democrat sales team. And he gave time (not much, but more than enough) to the guys who offered something better.

It was a disaster for ObamaCare and for Team Obama's next three years.

Finally, one more item...

At the very end of the meeting, the Republicans (finally!) raised the issue of taxpayer-funded abortion. This should have been mentioned earlier; indeed, it should be trumpeted by the G.O.P. loudly and often. Because tax money for abortion is all over the ObamaCare bill AND because tax money for abortion is a political loser. Republicans themselves need to start reading the polls instead of the New York Times and recognize that fighting for the sanctity of life garners a lot more votes and activist energy for their campaigns than does supporting the carnage of abortion.

Kudos then to House Minority Leader, John Boehner, for bringing up this critical subject.

Boehner's remarks were dismissed entirely by President Obama who then brazenly lied about what's in the bill. “John, you know, the challenge I have here is … every so often we have a pretty good conversation .. and then we go back to the standard talking points. There are so many things you just said that people on this side would profoundly disagree with and based on my analysis is just not true." Nancy Pelosi chimed in with the same lie in her closing remarks.

But, make no mistake, lies are what the Dems are pitching. Outright lies.

As John McCormack points out in this Weekly Standard post:

There are three different provisions in the Senate/Obama plan to provide public funding of abortion.

Pelosi and Obama have long said that language like Ben Nelson's amendment to pay for abortions with money collected from individual premiums rather than federal subsidies effectively bans public funding of abortion. Bart Stupak and other pro-life Democrats dismiss this amendment as a bookkeeping scheme.

And the bill indisputably provides direct federal funding of abortions on Indian reservations and at community health centers.

(Even more details about abortion and abortion funding in the ObamaCare package can be found in this post from last week's Vital Signs Blog. And from today's Washington Examiner, Charmaine Yoest reviews this topic too -- and very well.)

On so many levels, ObamaCare is a disgraceful, expensive mess. And that's why we can all be pleased that President Obama and his fellow Democrats made such a disgraceful, expensive mess out of yesterday's TV "summit."

The Tragic Double Standard That Protects Abortionists

"If Planned Parenthood Were Toyota" -- That's the very potent piece over at the National Catholic Register written by Pat Archbold. It's a very good article, one you might forward to legislators and your state attorney general as well as your friends. Here are excerpts:

As you probably have heard by now, President and CEO of Toyota Corp., Akio Toyoda was dragged before Congress this week to explain why his company did not do more to address critical safety issues with their vehicles that resulted in several deaths.

Vehicle safety is surely an important issue and we expect companies, when they become aware of these issues, to deal with them promptly and effectively. Lives depend on it.

It was in this context that Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) addressed Mr Toyoda saying: “I am not satisfied with your testimony,” she said. “I do not feel it reflects sufficient remorse for those who have died, and I do not think you have accurately reflected the large number of complaints that have been filed for more than a decade. Where is the remorse?”

Where is the remorse? It is a very good question. What may have been missed during the overwhelming media coverage of Toyota’s failing is the much greater health threat posed by the abortion industry...

Death is one thing, continued illegal activity is another. One might expect that proof of illegal activity at abortion clinics might be enough to trigger investigations and at least a little outrage. You would be wrong.

A young pro-life activist named Lila Rose has used a hidden camera and YouTube to expose repeated violations of the law by Planned Parenthood. To date, there have been no calls on the national level for investigation and there are likely none forthcoming.

The truth is, many more people have died from ‘legal’ abortion than have been killed by faulty Toyota vehicles. The number of women injured by abortion, both psychologically and physically, dwarfs those injured by vehicle safety issues...

What a Day for Birthdays!

February 26 turns out to be a very auspicious day for special people being born. So we're having a birthday party here this evening to celebrate.

And just whose birthdays are we commemorating?

How about one of our favorite authors (Victor Hugo, born this date in 1802) and one of our favorite Western heroes whose grave lies just a few miles from where I grew up in Colorado (William ‘Buffalo Bill’ Cody, born this date in 1846).

This is also the birthday of one of our favorite comic character actors (William Frawley of I Love Lucy, The Lemon Drop Kid, Miracle on 34th Street, and many others, born this date in 1887) as well two of our favorite comedians (Jackie Gleason and Godfrey Cambridge, born this date, respectively in 1916 and 1933).

February 26 is also the birthday of one of our favorite rock and roll pioneers (Fats Domino, born on this date in 1928), and one of our favorite country singers, who could also -- because of those early Sun Record days, be described as a rock and roll pioneer (Johnny Cash, born on this date in 1932).

But we're still not done. I told you February 26 was special.

We're including in our celebration today one of my favorite Bible scholars (Johann Keil, who along with Franz Delitzsch, created an Old Testament commentary I still use frequently. He was born on this date in 1807). There's also one of our favorite Hollywood talents whose work with Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig and Droopy cartoons will forever make him quite dear to us (Tex Avery, born on this date in 1908).

Today also marks the entrance into the world of one of our favorite champions of the conservative cause as well as a man whose excellence in investigative journalism is second to none. (Robert Novak, born on this date in 1931).

And yet that isn't all!

For fellows born on this day are responsible for our our favorite breakfast food and our most commonly used fashion item. For on this date were born John Harvey Kellogg in 1852 and Levi Strauss in 1829.

So, you tell me, how could we not have a birthday party?

Cake and ice cream at 7.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Today's Posts

The Photo-Op "Summit" Isn't Going So Well -- For the Dems!

While our egoistic President attempts to pull his budget-busting, counter-productive and immensely unpopular health care reform bill out of the fire:

* Jobless claims just climbed more than 12% over the past two weeks.

* Barack Obama's arrogance is on full display. See these video clips taken from today's Democrat controlled "discussion." 1) "The election is over." and 2) "I Don't Count My Time Because I'm The President."

* To see just how balanced today's "summit" is, compare the opening statement time allotted to the two parties: Democrat opening remarks (Obama - 14.36, Pelosi - 7.57, Reid - 8.13 = 30 minutes, 46 seconds) vs Republican (Alexander - 13 minutes, 10 seconds.) And it was downhill from there.

* Nebraska Senator Mike Johanns commenting on the Democrat's standard ploy of telling unending heartbreak stories that show how deeply they "feel" people's pain: “I don’t deny that there are people out there who have suffered — people who’ve been mistreated by insurance companies, who didn’t get the medicine they need. I recognize that. The problem with the stories being proffered today is that they seem to imply that if you pass this big government takeover of health care, then the world immediately get better. That’s just not the case. The highest rate of denial amongst the major insurance companies in Medicare comes from Medicare. You can’t spin that.”

* The Republicans have it all over the Dems on substance. Obama wanted political theater but he sure didn't want the stars of the show to be Tom Coburn and John Kyl! A very bad move on Obama's part. His desperation and his unbelievable ego are getting him in deeper trouble still.

* Finally, Jeffrey H. Anderson gives this "Half-Time Report" over at NRO's blog, Critical Condition.

At the intermission, the president may be wondering why he decided to host this summit. Sitting around a table, almost as an equal (albeit a particularly chatty one) with members of Congress, does not afford him the same advantages he enjoyed when giving the State of the Union address or even when standing behind the podium at the House Republican conference.

This was evident right away, when Sen. Mitch McConnell handed the floor over to Sen. Lamar Alexander for opening Republican remarks — apparently without the president's prior knowledge or permission — and Alexander, a former governor and presidential candidate, proceeded to look the president directly in the eye, at eye-level, and politely and genially tell him how wrong he is on health-care reform before a national television audience. It's hard to imagine Washington, Lincoln, Kennedy, or Reagan having put themselves in that position (with or without the national television part).

The president has held his own and made his points, but he seems a bit irritable (while still mostly friendly and respectful) about having been brought down to everyone else's level, while simultaneously seeming too inclined to lecture, in what many viewers may regard as an arrogant or professorial manner.

Meanwhile, the GOP members have had the chance to make their points, rebut the president's assertions (which it was particularly good to see them do in response to his false or partial claims about costs) and express the view, held by the vast majority of Americans, that ObamaCare must go. And so far they've done a pretty good job of it.

Brian McLaren: More Neo-Liberal Than Neo-Evangelical

I've referred on a few occasions here on Vital Signs Blog to the naive political liberalism and, much worse, the theological heresies of best-selling religious writer Brian McLaren. (To review just type in McLaren in the Search feature at the upper left of the page.)

Well, here are a few fresh quotations from McLaren's latest book, Everything Must Change. I take them from an enlightening review of the book by Rev. Gary Gilley pastor of Southern View Chapel in Springfield, Illinois.

* Says McLaren: “The Bible is the story of the partnership between God and humanity to save and transform all of human society and avert global self-destruction.” And, “Jesus came to launch an insurgency to overthrow that occupying regime. Its goal is to resist the occupation, liberate the planet, and retrain and restore humanity to its original vocation and potential.”

* In order to promote his new emerging agenda it is necessary for McLaren to reject many, if not most, of the major doctrines held dear by the historic evangelical church, for it is these very doctrine, in his opinion, that have caused the global mess in which we find ourselves. McLaren claims [for instance] Christ’s cross work was not for the purpose of propitiating divine wrath or redemption from sin; it was a nonviolent example for us to follow. (Pages 158-159 of Everything Must Change.)

* The second coming of Christ is without biblical warrant “for it leads us to believe that in the end, even God finds it impossible to fix the world apart from violence and coercion [therefore] no one should be surprised when those shaped by this theology behave accordingly” (p. 144). A new heaven and earth are unnecessary because “good will prevail by peace, love, truth, faithfulness, and courageous endurance of suffering.” (Page 146.)

* The need for forgiveness and salvation from sin are not on the agenda because most, if not all, are already citizens of the kingdom by virtue of having been created in the image of God. (Page 223.) The greatest problems facing mankind have to do with physical concerns of the planet, not spiritual issues. (Page 46.)

* Hell is not a literal place of judgment for rebels against God but starts on earth now when we don’t live for the kingdom of God, as described by McLaren. (Page146.)

* Gilley concludes, "When the author turns to Scripture in an attempt to support his views it is an exercise in distortion. McLaren resorts to several methods: changing the meaning of words to suit his preference (pp. 96, 99, 113), ignoring Scripture he does not like (e.g. concerning the second coming, pp. 144-146), or simply twisting the meaning beyond all recognition (pp. 97, 107, 111, 135, 137, 144-145, 177, 238-241). All of this would be laughable if it was not so serious. Without question, McLaren cannot reconstruct Jesus, the gospel and Christianity if he faithfully interprets the Scriptures with any sane method of hermeneutics. But if his readers are willing to ignore this fact then some will be taken in by the message of Everything Must Change.

From a social/political angle McLaren might be described as the Michael Moore (ultra-liberal film producer) of Christianity..."

(Thanks to Doug Nichols for alerting me to this review.)

Drunk Driving a Truck AND a Horse?

62-year-old Polish farmer Leszek Stepien's problems began when he drank too much. Then, when he couldn't get his truck started, he hitched it to his horse to tow the truck to the garage.

But he was still too soused to steer the truck properly. He swung into the opposite lane of traffic, almost hit a car, over-corrected and ran into the guardrail. The truck then flipped onto its side.

No one was hurt, particularly the bemused horse, even though Stepien emerged screaming at the creature, "This is all your fault."

The police saw it differently, though. Stepien was arrested and charged with driving under the influence. The horse went free.

Christians, Deists, Agnostics -- Just Who Were Our Founding Fathers?

...Two recent books edited by Daniel Dreisbach, Jeffry Morrison, and Mark David Hall -- The Founders on God and Government and The Forgotten Founders on Religion and Public Life -- carefully explained the religious backgrounds, convictions, and contributions of numerous founders. They show that many who played leading roles in the nation’s Declaration of Independence, the Continental Congress, and the devising and ratification of the Constitution were devout Christians, as evident in their church attendance, commitment to prayer and Bible reading, belief in God’s direction of earthly affairs, and conduct.

Among others, these books discuss John Witherspoon, James Wilson, Samuel Adams, George Mason, Oliver Ellsworth, Patrick Henry, John Jay, Benjamin Rush, and Roger Sherman. A third book, which is currently being written, will explain how the faith of Congregationalist John Hancock, Quaker John Dickinson, Presbyterian Elias Boudinot, and Episcopalian Charles Pinckney, and others helped shape their political views, policies, and practice. Abigail Adams and Catholics Charles Carroll, Daniel Carroll, and John Carroll also were dedicated Christians. Moreover, Jay, Boudinot, Pinckney, and numerous other founders served as officers of the American Bible Society.

Even many of those often labeled as deists—Washington, Franklin, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, and Alexander Hamilton—do not fit the standard definition of deism...

All of these founders, however, repeatedly discussed God’s providence and frequently affirmed the value of prayer. Their conviction that God intervened in human affairs and directed history has led some scholars to call these founders “warm” or “enlightened” deists, but these terms seem like oxymorons. A better label for their position is theistic rationalism.

As Professor Gregg Frazer explains, this hybrid belief system combines elements of “natural religion, Protestant Christianity, and rationalism—with rationalism as the controlling element.” Those espousing this perspective believed in a powerful, benevolent Creator who established the laws by which the universe operates. They also believed that God answered prayer, that people best served Him by living a moral life, and that individuals would be rewarded or punished in the afterlife based on their earthly deeds. Only a few founders, most notably Thomas Paine and Ethan Allan, can properly be called deists...

Read Gary Scott Smith's entire Breakpoint commentary here. Terrific stuff -- and not what your kid is likely hearing from his public school teacher!

Planned Parenthood's Criminal Acts Again Caught on Tape

But who is going to do anything about it?

Once again an undercover sting operation catches Planned Parenthood engaged in criminal activity; namely, shielding statutory rape.

But, of course, the sting operation is conducted by civilians. Local police, state attorney generals and the FBI just can't be bothered about this kind of thing...when it's done by abortionists, that is.

The authorities won't even bother to insure health and safety regulations inside abortion clinics. Politicians won't get serious about shutting these horrible places down. Other businesses openly trade with them, knowingly full well that their products and services bolster a business which kills preborn children. And all those journalists and I-team investigative reporters working for local TV stations? They're out covering pot holes and Porta-Potty thefts.

For crying out loud, even churches shrug their shoulders and allow abortion clinics to ply their grisly trade with nary a peep of protest.

No, the whole system shares in the blood guilt of abortion.

God help us.

Here, by the way, is the story of the latest sting from I suggest you forward it to the state attorney general and others who should be interested. Ask them for a thorough investigation of local Planned Parenthood offices. After all, PP has been caught on tape all across the country protecting statutory rape. Why should it be any different here? An investigation is way overdue.

And ask them to also bring in the health inspectors. As the Kermit Gosnell situation revealed (and it was just the latest example), simple health and OSHA rules are sufficient to shut down a lot of these places.

Another Innocent, Principled Man Killed in Cuba

What happened following the death of Cuban dissident Orlando Zapata Tamayo who had been engaged in a hunger strike to protest the ongoing prison beatings by Castro's goons?

Western governments issued paper protests, none which present any genuine opposition to the Communist tyranny in Cuba.

Western media have been almost completely silent on the matter.

And the Cuban government itself? While Rauol Castro expressed "regrets" at the incident, he sent his thugs after another two dozen people, hauling them in so they could not attend Tamayo's funeral.

It's bloody business as usual in Cuba.

And the world refuses to care.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Today's Posts

What Do They Think When They See Pro-Lifers On the Street?

Can you imagine what goes through the minds of people driving by an abortion clinic, an abortion clinic where a pro-lifer is standing with a smiling baby sign and a banner that reads, “Mom, We Care for You and Your Baby”?

I can.

And if you’ll indulge my imagination for a bit, I’ll share with you a few possibilities. Yes, these are fictional wanderings but after 30 years of pro-life activist experience, (including thousands of testimonies read and personal conversations engaged in), I don’t think they are far off the mark. You see, when I am in front of an abortion clinic, it is to serve two purposes: 1) to help sidewalk counsel as needed and 2) to present a pro-life witness to the public passing by. My signs and banners, therefore, are of most immediate importance to the incoming clients, but I'm also very serious about showing them clearly to those hundreds of people driving by during the time I’m there. I smile, give a gentle wave, try and ensure that both directions of traffic can easily see either my sign and/or my banner...and I pray.

I'm well aware that many of those driving by don’t want to notice me (or “us” if I'm with colleagues), but the clear fact is – they do! And I am quite confident that God is speaking to them. After all, by His very nature, He is a revealing God Who constantly tugs at men’s heartstrings. He does so through conscience and memory, through creation, through the written and verbal word, through examples, and through the “still, small” voice of conviction.

What does God want to say to those people driving by an abortion mill and how will they respond to His entreaties? The answers to those questions are as many, as varied, and as complex as the people involved. But we can be sure of this – God knows each person intimately. He is “in on” every detail of their history, their beliefs, their hopes, their fears, their secrets, and their future. And so God can use any tool available to reach out to them, not the least valuable of which are courteous, prayerful Christians who conscientiously present the winsome pro-life messages of their signs, banners, demeanor, and conversation -- and who then pray for the Holy Spirit to use them as He wills in the individual’s life.

Again, what goes on in those minds and hearts?

We can only imagine...

Read the rest of this unusually provocative LifeSharer letter on the Vital Signs Ministries website. From the opening page, hit "About Vital Signs" on the left sidebar and then, on the next page, hit "This Month's LifeSharer letter."

Plagiarist AND Toady? TV Reporter Gets Caught Shilling for Democrat Senator

You gotta' laugh or else you're gonna' cry.

Warner Todd Huston reports here on the case of an ABC affiliate in West Virginia whose website ran a story under a reporter's byline that turned out to be nothing but a reprint of a press release from the office of Democrat Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown.

Huston concludes, "And the Old Media protests when conservatives claim that they are just an arm of the Democrat Party? With examples like this it sure is hard to refute the accusation, isn’t it?"

(Hat tip: Blogs Lucianne Loves)

Planned Parenthood to Start Selling "At Home" Abortion Kits

Pro-life activists have tried for years to warn the public that "at-home abortion" kits would become common if Planned Parenthood and other abortion zealots had their way.

We were dismissed out of hand...but it was inevitable.

Given 1) the left's unrestrained enthusiasm for abortion (a passion that time and again has trumped morality, "choice," social cohesion, or women's health) and 2) the increasing shortage of surgical abortionists, it was just a matter of time before there were demands for abortions being performed by non-physicians. That included plans for various chemical concoctions and, yes, abortifacient kits that could be used at home.

The federal government of the United States approved the use of these chemicals to kill preborn babies in 2000 and now Planned Parenthood thugs in Oregon are putting them into use. Expect them in your area very soon.

These "medication-induced abortions" (How's that for a chilling Orwellian term?) will be sold by Planned Parenthood "to provide women with an option for terminating a pregnancy in the comfort and privacy of home."

God, help us.

Philly Abortion Clinic Even Worse Than First Reports

Uh, about that bizarre and brutal abortionist in Philadelphia that I mentioned yesterday?

It's even worse.

The 6 Key "Life Matters" About the Health Care Bill

At tomorrow's health care reform "summit meeting," leaders from both political parties will be exploring whether there are any areas of possible agreement between them. Given the secretive, manipulative, and outrageous actions of President Obama and the Democrats in Congress in this whole mess, not to mention the budget-busting boondoggle that ObamaCare represents, that doesn't seem likely.

However, of greatest concern to pro-lifers is that, despite Obama's promises to the contrary, the bill they're pushing now is worse than ever in promoting abortion and abortion funding by taxpayers.

To help stop this train wreck from becoming law, Americans United for Life, long the "legal arm of the pro-life movement," are asking you to sign this petition outlining 6 major areas of key interest. AUL will be engaging leaders from both parties on all 6 of these issues tomorrow but it helps them immensely to point to the public's support of their effort.

So, read the petition right here and follow the instructions there to sign on. It just takes a few minutes to accomplish both. And, believe me, it will be of great help to them.

Head of Germany's Liberal Protestants Caught Driving Drunk

Conservative Christians within the Evangelical Church in Germany, a theologically and politically liberal denomination, have been concerned over the rise of Margot Käßmann, the Bishop of Hanover who also was elected last year to lead the entire denomination. Those concerns have included, most obviously, women's ordination itself. But they have also covered such matters as Käßmann's divorce, her heterodox theological views, and her liberal opinions on contraception, sex education and homosexuality.

Käßmann has now made her standings with her critics even worse by being arrested for drunk driving last Saturday night.

Hanover Police pulled over the boozed-up bishop after she ran a red light in a church vehicle, no less. She was absolutely potted. Lab tests scored her at being over three times the legal limit.

The clergywoman told reporters, "I am alarmed at myself at having made such a bad mistake. I am aware of how dangerous and irresponsible drunk driving is. I will of course face up to the legal consequences." A mistake, she calls it, not a sin. That's not a good sign. Nor is her comical line about "facing up to the legal consequences" -- as if she had any choice in the matter! Good bishop, when the police grab you for extremely reckless driving and discover you've pickled yourself to the tune of 3x the legal limit, you will face up to the legal consequences no matter how pious a title you're sporting.

Her fellow clerics in the denomination had made an announcement that they were standing behind Käßmann but the drunk driving "mistake" (she called it such in a second news conference too) was just too atrocious and much too public. Therefore, Käßmann has announced she is stepping down from all of her positions effective immediately.

Well, except for her position as a church pastor in Hanover. Käßmann is keeping that gig.

But, of course, after giving up all her "important" offices, who could begrudge Rev. Käßmann for hanging onto a single church? Standards of holy conduct mustn't be that big a deal for such a piddling position. And it was, after all, just a "mistake." Surely, the local yokels will see it that way and welcome me back.

Sadly, Rev. Käßmann, they may. But let's hope they at least have the sense to keep careful track of the sacramental wine and to keep you from driving the kids to youth group.

Your Wednesday Tea Break (Boy Meets Girl)

Here's a lively, romantic feel-good song, "Waiting for a Star to Fall." It was a one-hit wonder for Boy Meets Girl back in 1988. Go ahead -- brew up, take five and play it twice.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Today's Posts

Frozen Babies Found in Abortion Clinic

Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell not only kills preborn boys and girls, but now authorities are looking into charges that he authorized an unlicensed staff member to conduct vaginal exams and administer medication, and botched an abortion so that a young mother died. Oh yeah, one more grisly item -- a search of his offices have uncovered a most bizarre find; namely, more than two dozen frozen fetuses, some dating back 30 years!

"The fetuses are now being analyzed to reveal if illegal late-term abortions may have been performed."

What a ghastly, barbaric trade abortionists ply.

Jihadists Destroy Two More Schools in Pakistan

Militants blew up two boys' schools in northwest Pakistan on Sunday, the latest in a wave of attacks by Islamist extremists targeting educational institutions, local officials said...Local administration official Maqsood Khan blamed the attack on Taliban militants avenging ongoing military offensives against Islamist insurgents across the northwest.

Another tribal administration official, Roshan Khan, said the bomb attacks completely destroyed the two schools.

Islamist militants opposed to co-education have destroyed hundreds of schools, mostly for girls, in northwest Pakistan in recent years.

Tiger Woods Cannot Atone for His Sins

Cal Thomas has a fine column in which he has a little to say about Tiger Woods' TV apology last week and a lot to say about repentance, atonement, and change. Good stuff.

About Glenn Beck...

In the many years of running this blog, I have run only one item from Glenn Beck. I just never cared for him much. Nor did I believe the moral foundations of his conservatism (that unusual combination of Mormonism and 12 Step behavioral modification) to be very healthy for the movement. It wont wear well.

Of course, Beck has used his new popularity to draw attention to liberal outrages. That's good and I applaud him for that. But still, I have found his motivations enigmatic, his lack of specific, workable solutions to our culture's grievous problems frustrating...and his bombastic style generally unappealing.

His fans will say that I don't know enough about him to make an accurate judgment. They may be right.

But I'm not the only one having a few problems with Glenn Beck. For instance, give a few minutes to read through the remarks of Mark Levin, William Bennett and William Hawkins as they evaluate Beck's speech at CPAC last week. I think they will provide a few insights, cautionary notes, and talking points that we can all find helpful -- fans or no.

Keith Olbermann Gets a Personal Tea Party Invitation

(Hat tip to Death by 1000 Paper Cuts and

Ancient Jerusalem Wall Uncovered -- What Does It Mean?

Are the great Hebrew Kings David and Solomon only fanciful legends? Some fools say yes, despite the vast array of historical evidences, both from the overwhelming veracity of the biblical accounts and from many other historical sources.

But there are none so blind as those that will not see.

Therefore, even the archaeological discovery of a massive Jerusalem wall dating from the 10th Century B.C. will probably carry little weight with skeptic simpletons. But, for you and I, it is a fascinating find that yields another significant piece of extra-biblical corroboration to the record we already know to be true.

However, there's another angle to be considered by this discovery and Jonathan Tobin writes about it in this Commentary article.

The greatest threat to the hopes of those who think parts of Jerusalem should be off-limits to Jews comes not when Jewish-owned buildings go up in the city, but rather when Jews start digging into the ground of East Jerusalem. Because the more the history of the city is uncovered, the less credible becomes the charge that Jews are alien colonists in what the media sometimes wrongly refer to as “traditionally Palestinian” or “Arab” Jerusalem.

That’s the upshot from the release of an amazing archeological dig conducted just outside Jerusalem’s Old City...

Read the rest right here.

Worth Saving?

Thanks to the blog Brutally Honest for sending this over.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Today's Posts

The Top Western Movies of All Time

Last night I put in this post on my Facebook page:

Here's my list of the Top Twelve Westerns of all time. How do they stack up with your favorites? I list them here in no particular order: Stagecoach -- Once Upon a Time in the West -- Ride the High Country -- The Magnificent Seven -- True Grit -- Shane -- The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance -- The Wild Bunch -- The -- Nevada Smith -- Rio Bravo -- Hang 'Em High.

Fans of the genre will note that John Wayne stars in 5 of the movies, Charles Bronson in 2, and Steve McQueen in 2.

The post has created a little discussion with friends dropping in suggestions of their own -- good ones too. So, if you'd like to join in on the fun, saddle up and ride on over to my Facebook page.

The Government Monopoly on Education: "It Ain't Be Good"

The government-school establishment has said the same thing for decades: Education is too important to leave to the competitive market. If we really want to help our kids, we must focus more resources on the government schools.

But despite this mantra, the focus is on something other than the kids. When The Washington Post asked George Parker, head of the Washington, D.C., teachers union, about the voucher program there, he said: "Parents are voting with their feet. ... As kids continue leaving the system, we will lose teachers. Our very survival depends on having kids in D.C. schools so we'll have teachers to represent."

How revealing is that?

Since 1980, government spending on education, adjusted for inflation, has nearly doubled. But test scores have been flat for decades.

Today we spend a stunning $11,000 a year per student — more than $200,000 per classroom. It's not working. So when will we permit competition and choice, which works great with everything else?...

(John Stossel, "Education: Too Important for a Government Monopoly," in the Washington Examiner.)

Read Stossel's excellent column in its entirety. Very good stuff.

Snow, Snow, Ice, Snow!

Darryl Keeney writes on his Facebook page a sentiment I think most of us share in earnest: " I hope to never see this record broken again. Days of measurable snow on the ground in the Omaha metro is at a record-breaking 75 today and counting."

And wouldn't you know it. It's snowing again as I type this.

What Would Make YOUR Indispensable List? Get to The Point.

Gina Dalfonzo over at The Point posted a link to a Vital Signs Blog item from a week ago in which I listed again The Indispensables, a Top Ten list of non-fiction books that I think every Christian should treasure.

You might find the comments to that post of interest. In fact, you may well want to join in yourself. Have at it right here.

Confronting "The Fear"

I'm not at all hep to modern music. Nevertheless, I found very provocative Rachel Thorpe's essay at Christian Heritage, “I’m Being Taken Over”: Popular Music and the Fear of the Impersonal. It is a short piece which explores one of modern music's philosophical preoccupations; namely, an existential fear that leads to "emotional numbness and the loss of a moral code." Taking Lily Allen's 2009 hit song, "The Fear," as a backdrop, Thorpe details several aspects of this brooding, cynical fear so prevalent among modern youth and then contrasts it with the advice of Francis Schaeffer.

If you're interested in this sort of thing, watch the video of "The Fear." (Think "Material Girl" but with a darker, more nihilistic bite. And be careful of at least one "expletive not deleted.")

And then, as both an explanation and corrective, read through Rachel Thorpe's brief essay.

Another "Obama" Economic Stimulus Plan Gone Bad

Maybe this brainless bank robber should have chosen a different mask. After all, Barack Obama just isn't getting the respect he was a year ago.

But then again, if you try to rob a bank that is closed, your taste in disguises isn't your primary problem.

Here's the story in the Daily Mail of a half-wit hoodlum who grabbed a gun, donned an Obama mask and put into operation his plan to rob the Raiffeisen Bank in Kircheim, Austria. But, doggone it all, the bank had closed early for a staff training session. Thus unable to just stroll inside, the angry felon beat on the glass doors, waved his gun and demanded of the employees inside to be let in. The amused employees didn't comply.

'We thought it was part of the training, some sort of initiative test, or a joke. Laughing only seemed to make him more angry,' said one worker.

Of course, it's just as well that the "Obama robber" didn't get the loot. For ill-gotten gains (whether obtained by direct larceny or by overbearing and unjust taxation) always prove to be an ineffective economic stimulus, leading to wasteful spending, moral corruption and public scorn.

Are you listening, Mr. President?

Democrat Rhetoric vs Democrat Results

(This video clip, "Rhetoric vs Results," was produced by the office of House Republican Whip Eric Cantor, Republican from Virginia.)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Today's Posts

No, Doctor; Man Is Not A Weed.

“If we no longer entertain the luxury of a belief in the ‘magic of the soul’, then there is little else to offer in support of the concept of free will. Whereas much is written claiming to provide an explanation for free will, such writings are invariably lacking any hint of molecular details concerning mechanisms. Also, it is often suggested that individuals are free to choose and modify their environment and that, in this respect, they control their destiny. This argument misses the simple but crucial point that any action, as ‘free’ as it may appear, simply reflects the genetics of the organism and the environmental history, right up to some fraction of a microsecond before any action.”

(Biologist Anthony R. Cashmore of the University of Pennsylvania, writing in an address to the National Academy of Sciences and quoted in this post from BioEdge.)

Dr. Cashmore, because he can't find "free will" in a petri dish or capture the soul in a test tube makes the mulish determination that they just don't exist. Very sad...and quite irrational. For though, Dr. Cashmore argues against the mind, against spirituality, and against freedom, he does so only on an irrelevant level. He cannot (and doesn't want to) actually live out those beliefs. He loves, he yearns, he hopes -- he deliberates over what shirt to wear, what to have for breakfast, what toys to give the children he loves.

No, Dr. Cashmore simply cannot live like one of the plants in his science lab. Because for all of his protestations to the contrary, he is a human being. He is created in the image and likeness of God. He has an eternal soul, one that is fully free and capable of responding to the sublime invitation of the gospel -- and one, therefore, that is free and fully responsible for his rejection of that divine invitation.

Dr. Cashmore is a pitiable egotist and a too-common example of the damaging absurdities to which many modern scientists have dedicated themselves. Say a prayer for him -- you are completely free to do so.

Yes, I Too Signed the Mount Vernon Statement

Making Science Into "Political Science"

Kim Moreland over at The Point "pointed" to an enlightening article from Anika Smith over at the Discovery Institute which explores the issues of journalistic ability, objectivity and integrity, especially when it comes to science reporting.

Particularly, Smith analyzes the bizarre justifications made by New York Times science writer Cornelia Dean as to why Dean depends entirely on certain sources rather than even trying to be fair and comprehensive.

She does a lot of ugly twisting to make that conclusion. But then, political correctness does sometimes require the strangest of contortions.

Where Can We Go to Escape CNN?

It's a pet peeve of mine -- this asinine notion that people need to have television blaring absolutely everywhere we go. Airports, restaurants, convenience stores, nursing home rooms, coffee shops, and waiting rooms of any and every kind. For crying out loud, the other day I was putting gas in the car and had to try and block out the TV playing in the SUV on my left side as well as the TV encased inside the gas pump itself on my right!

Will someone please turn off the incessant noise!

Of course, the ubiquitous presence of TV says volumes about American culture -- and none of it is good. Are we really so lonely, so bored, so mindless that we need our TV "friends" talking to us constantly? Why can't we listen to the natural sounds of life once in awhile or, more radical still, enjoy some peace and quiet? Why does the TV need to insistently intrude on our conversations, distract us from our own thoughts, render nearly impossible the serenity necessary for effective meditation or prayer?

The headache produced by inescapable TV is even more exasperating when the programs one is forced to listen to come from CNN. Far from being "the most trusted name in news" anymore, CNN has become so unprofessional, so far to the left, and so arrogant that the American people are turning it off in droves. Indeed, the halcyon days are over for the network; CNN now dwells in the damp, dismal shadows of the rating root-cellar.

CNN is getting it's lunch eaten by Fox News every day, every night. In fact, CNN isn't even in the top 30 cable stations anymore and is dead last among cable news outlets! Like Ted Turner himself, CNN is a woeful has-been.

So why does CNN remain the TV broadcast of choice for the airline terminals, the coffee shop and, for that matter, my eye doctor? Habit? Ignorance? A deliberate preference for a liberal spin of the issues?

Whichever of these answers it is, you and I can do something about it by courteously registering our complaint to the powers that be. There's more information on why and how to do this in this post (including a link which features a sample letter to airport managers). But the process of protest can be as simple as a note, a phone call or a polite comment to whoever is working the desk, "You know, I certainly would prefer the waiting room to be a quiet one, one without the discourteous intrusion of a TV. But, sakes alive, if the TV has to be on -- couldn't you at least get it off CNN?"

What d'ya say? Let's start a whisper campaign to at least get CNN out of our lives.

Then perhaps, we can start on ridding ourselves of the omnipresence of TV itself.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Today's Posts

Omaha's Storied Christian History

A couple of weeks ago I gave a story-oriented presentation about the Christian history of Omaha to residents of the Via Christe Assisted Living Community down on the Duchesne campus. I spoke about it in this blog post from February 4th and suggested that this "edifying entertainment" might be something you'd like to provide for your church, Sunday School class, nursing home or whatever.

Well, I'm delighted that a couple of you took me up on the offer. Keith Deras (a friend, fellow pro-lifer and my insurance guy) invited me to give a version of the talk to his Lion's Club last Monday and Bill Coker (friend, pro-life colleague and fellow bibliophile) has set it up for his adult Sunday School class at King of Kings a week from Sunday. (I've got to do it and book out quick, of course, because I've got to then get across town to preach at Faith Bible Church.)

So, with that last offer a success, I make it again. If you're interested in an interesting, sometimes inspiring, sometimes humorous journey back through Omaha's religious history, drop us a note. It's fun...and it's free.

Euthanasia: It's Here, Now It Needs to be Protected

A leader of Quebec medical doctors recently explained to a National Assembly committee that euthanasia was already a reality in Quebec hospitals but it was being done quietly because doctors realized that old laws could still get them in trouble.

But now, he was pleased to report, the topic is being openly discussed, guidelines were being established and popular opinion was helping move forward a new ethic, one that would break up those old laws (and that discarded sanctity of life ethic they were based on) and usher in protected euthanasia practices. Thus, the medical specialists can save money, reduce stress and conveniently get rid of hopeless cases like cancer patients or newborns with serious medical difficulties or seniors whose bodies are shutting down.

The fellow went on to compare the move towards euthanasia with the evolution that society had undergone regarding abortion.

And he maintained that was a good thing.

Ladies and gentleman, this way to perdition.

The American Soldier: Up Close and Personal

My youngest brother Ric alerted me to this compelling description of American troops in Afghanistan -- a description written by a French infantryman who serves alongside them. It was posted on the blog of author John Ringo who provides a moving epilogue about the U.S. fighting men of previous wars as well. Very interesting, inspiring lines and a great piece to pass around. As Ringo says, "I wish to hell this would actually get reprinted in the NYT."

In the Frenchman's account are such paragraphs as these:

...Here we discover America as it is often depicted : their values are taken to their paroxysm, often amplified by promiscuity and the loneliness of this outpost in the middle of that Afghan valley. Honor, motherland - everything here reminds of that : the American flag floating in the wind above the outpost, just like the one on the post parcels. Even if recruits often originate from the hearth of American cities and gang territory, no one here has any goal other than to hold high and proud the star spangled banner. Each man knows he can count on the support of a whole people who provides them through the mail all that an American could miss in such a remote front-line location : books, chewing gums, razorblades, Gatorade, toothpaste etc. in such way that every man is aware of how much the American people backs him in his difficult mission. And that is a first shock to our preconceptions : the American soldier is no individualist. The team, the group, the combat team are the focus of all his attention.

And they are impressive warriors ! We have not come across bad ones, as strange at it may seem to you when you know how critical French people can be. Even if some of them are a bit on the heavy side, all of them provide us everyday with lessons in infantry know-how. Beyond the wearing of a combat kit that never seem to discomfort them (helmet strap, helmet, combat goggles, rifles etc.) the long hours of watch at the outpost never seem to annoy them in the slightest. On the one square meter wooden tower above the perimeter wall they stand the five consecutive hours in full battle rattle and night vision goggles on top, their sight unmoving in the directions of likely danger. No distractions, no pauses, they are like statues nights and days. At night, all movements are performed in the dark - only a handful of subdued red lights indicate the occasional presence of a soldier on the move. Same with the vehicles whose lights are covered - everything happens in pitch dark even filling the fuel tanks with the Japy pump.

And combat ? If you have seen Rambo you have seen it all - always coming to the rescue when one of our teams gets in trouble, and always in the shortest delay. That is one of their tricks : they switch from T-shirt and sandals to combat ready in three minutes. Arriving in contact with the enemy, the way they fight is simple and disconcerting : they just charge ! They disembark and assault in stride, they bomb first and ask questions later - which cuts any pussyfooting short.

(This is the main area where I'd like to comment. Anyone with a passing knowledge of Kipling knows the lines from Chant Pagan: 'If your officer's dead and the sergeants look white/remember it's ruin to run from a fight./So take open order, lie down, sit tight/And wait for supports like a soldier./ This, in fact, is the basic philosophy of both British and Continental soldiers. 'In the absence of orders, take a defensive position.' Indeed, virtually every army in the world. The American soldier and Marine, however, are imbued from early in their training with the ethos: In the Absence of Orders: Attack! Where other forces, for good or ill, will wait for precise orders and plans to respond to an attack or any other 'incident', the American force will simply go, counting on firepower and SOP to carry the day.

This is one of the great strengths of the American force in combat and it is something that even our closest allies, such as the Brits and Aussies (that latter being closer by the way) find repeatedly surprising. No wonder it surprises the hell out of our enemies.)...

Read the entire letter and Ringo's postscrpit here.

Huh? Feminists Protesting Susan B. Anthony Museum?

Jill Stanek has a story (with links for those who want to dig a little deeper) about pro-abort feminists having a fit about the opening of the Susan B. Anthony Birthplace and Museum, in Rochester, New York.


Why would feminists be upset that one of America's most important human rights champions is being recognized? Shouldn't they be pouring the champagne instead of griping, protesting and sending nasty letters?

Of course, they should. But when it comes to modern feminism, the lust for abortion trumps any and all other considerations. Therefore, because Susan B. Anthony was opposed to abortion and because the museum dares to include that opposition in its historical exhibitions, gals like Gloria Feldt (former head of Planned Parenthood) are flipping out.

And, in so doing, they are showing once again that their true zeal is not for women's rights, but for abortionists' wrongs.

Abortion Rate Highest Among Black Women -- This Group Is Fighting Back Against the Violence

"It affects me. It affects you. It affects us. Abortion is not just a women’s issue. It is a human issue. And today, for African-Americans, it is a human crisis. Nearly 40% of all black pregnancies end in induced abortion. That’s over 3 times the rate of white women and 2 times the rate of all other races combined. There are beautiful alternatives: adoption and parenthood, but they are not money-makers for abortionists."

You've got to learn more about Too Many Aborted, one the most dramatic and compelling pro-life efforts in recent years. The general purpose of the group is the same as all other pro-life organizations; that is, to defend and promote the sanctity of human life by stopping the holocaust of abortion.

But the immediate targets of Too Many Aborted are: 1) to "educate African-Americans about abortion’s impact on the Black community via accurate and documented statistics, historical perspectives, provocative videos, and personal testimonies." and 2) to "expose Planned Parenthood’s propaganda and reveal the true intentions of this billion-dollar nonprofit organization."

We need to get on board this crucial campaign and we can do so through our prayers and our financial support. But, most important, we can utilize the breakthrough resources provided by Too Many Aborted to educate people in our own churches and communities. There's plenty of inspiration and help at the website and at their blog. Check both out very soon.

Who Do You Believe? Al Gore or the Guys Driving the Snowplows?

Chuck Colson is always a delight to read (or listen to) because he is perceptive, engaging and relevant. As both a Christian activist and a "watchman on the wall," he has been of enormous importance to the Church for several decades now.

But, God bless him, he is still going strong with wise and witty commentary on the issues of the this excellent Breakpoint transcript about how this winter's awesome snowstorms have all but buried global warming.

Your Wednesday Tea Break (3 from the 80s)

Sure, most of the great rock songs came from the 50s and 60s -- but not all of them. Here, for your Wednesday Tea Break, are three examples that show there was some good rock 'n roll produced ...even in the 80s!

The first is Jefferson Starship's "We Built This City" from their 1985 album, "Knee Deep in the Hoopla." It has been mocked by a few bluenoses for it's "corporate-rock commercialism" but it is actually a tuneful, fun song that recalls the heyday of rock radio stations broadcasting to teen audiences that couldn't get enough. (In my case, those stations were KIMN in Denver and, late at night, KOMA way down in Oklahoma City.) The song features the vocals of Mickey Thomas and the always lovely, though always loopy, Grace Slick.

Another artist from the 80s that has been the target of sneering snobs is Rick Astley. Why? He made good music: soulful, melodic and in the tradition of classic rock. He didn't do leftist political stuff; he wasn't nasty; he didn't depend on clash or pyrotechnics. Worse yet, he was popular. And that's the one thing the preening poseurs just can't abide. But don't let the the editors of Rolling Stone (or the weird bunch who run the sophomoric Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) set your playlist. Go for talent. And dance-ability. And fun. The example I post here is a live performance of Astley's emotional ballad, "Cry for Help."

And finally, a fellow who certainly knew how to make terrific rock music in the 80s according to the traditions of the 60s -- because he did both, is Paul McCartney. The song is "No More Lonely Nights" which gave a dreamy musical conclusion to one of the three best rock movies ever made, "Give My Regards to Broad Street."

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Today's Posts

Just What Did the Tebow Super Bowl Ad Achieve?

Okay the Tebow ad is now history. But what have been the results of the most talked about Super Bowl commercial ever? Did Focus on the Family achieve what they had hoped? And what has the organization (and America) learned from the response to the TV spot about the ongoing conflicts surrounding the sanctity of life?

Here's an incredibly interesting (and encouraging) video clip which answers those questions and a lot more. It just may be the brightest 20 minutes of your day.

About Obama's New "Agnostic" Stand on Tax Raises

Remember Joe the Plumber? He was the blue-collar dude who confronted Barack Obama late in the 2008 campaign with this challenge: "Your new tax plan's going to tax me more, isn't it?" Nonsense, replied the candidate: "From 250 [thousand dollars a year] down, your taxes are going to stay the same." Indeed, he insisted, 95 percent of "working people" would see their taxes go down in his administration.

Well, think again.

A year into his presidency, Obama now says he's "agnostic" on what was the principal plank in his economic platform: No tax hikes for individuals making $200,000 a year or less -- or for households with a combined annual income under $250,000.

The president is about to appoint a task force (not another one!) to study reining in the national deficit -- and, he says, "what I want to do is to be completely agnostic in terms of solutions."
Meaning, says Obama, that he "can't set the whole thing up where a whole bunch of things are off the table."

Including his once-sacred tax pledge.

Read the rest of this New York Post editorial here.