Friday, May 28, 2010

Today's Posts

Tony Campolo Dissin' Israel Yet Again

Mark Tooley reports on one of the latest anti-Israel escapades involving leftist "evangelicals" Tony Campolo and Lynne Hybels.

Evangelist and activist Tony Campolo, formerly spiritual counselor to Bill Clinton post-Monica, recently sojourned to Bethlehem Bible College in the West Bank for the school’s convocation of “Christ at the Checkpoint: Theology in the Service of Peace and Justice.” This Palestinian evangelical school peddles a form of Palestinian liberationism that much of the evangelical left in the U.S., increasingly anxious to justify hostility to Israel and its U.S. allies, eagerly finds persuasive.

Besides Campolo, other speakers included British anti-Israel Anglican priest Stephen Sizer, author Lynne Hybels (wife of Willow Creek mega-church pastor Bill Hybels), Wheaton College professor Gary Burge, United Methodist missionary Alex Awad, and Naim Ateek of the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Centre...

Campolo, like most of the evangelical and religious left, does not try to answer these questions. Nor does he express a lot of public interest in Palestinian and other Middle East Christians except as a cudgel against Israel and, ultimately, against conservative Christians in the U.S. — Campolo’s favorite bĂȘte noire. “The most serious threats to the well-being of the Palestinians in general, and to the Christian Palestinians in particular, come not from the Jews, but from Christian Zionists here in the United States,” he charged.

Of course, Campolo repeats the usual canard that U.S. evangelicals are uniformly bewitched by “Dispensationalism,” which originated with 19th century English theologian Nelson Darby. In the stereotype that Campolo rehashes, these Darbyite Dispensationalists blindly believe that Jesus Christ will not return “until all of this land is occupied by Jews, and all others are forced to leave.” Trying to sound equitable, Campolo notes that “Jewish lobbies” are not the main villain behind the “30 percent of all U.S. foreign aid” going to Israel which enables the country to have the “fourth most powerful army in the world.” No, it is the Christian Zionists who are the “primary sources of pressure on the U.S. Congress to financially back the Israeli military that has made the injustices I have described possible.”...

For Campolo, the solution is simple: “We should be calling for the demolition of the separation wall that is as offensive as the Berlin Wall was.” And “we should be demanding” a return to the 1967 borders. He says he favors “safe and secure borders for the State of Israel and protection against terrorists.” But evidently, Israel should not be permitted to build walls against suicide bombers or to negotiate defensible borders. Presumably, good will and accommodation will create all the security that Israel needs...

According to a Pew poll, evangelicals, mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics in the U.S. all sympathize more with Israel than the Palestinian cause. But for the angry evangelical left, including Campolo, supposed Israeli oppression is due exclusively to Zionist evangelicals purportedly obsessed with biblical prophecies about the end-times.

Most American Christians sympathize with Israel because it is a pro-American democracy and not owing to 19th century Darbyite theology. But Campolo and the evangelical left prefer not to discuss the merits of democracy versus its Islamist alternatives. Instead, they demonize pro-Israel evangelicals and hope cries of “apartheid” will persuade when sound argument will not.

The National Education Association: "We Have the Power!"

They don't even try to hide anymore.

Listen to the pompous comments of Bob Chanin in his farewell message to delegates of the National Education Association. (Video clip below.) To broad grins and a standing ovation, Chanin forcefully admits the truth that the NEA isn't about the kids. It's not about education. It's about raw political power -- power to remake the culture in a socialist mold.

And, of course, the NEA is doing this with the full approval of the Democrat Party...and with your tax dollars!

Very scary stuff.

(Hat tip: Michigan Capitol Confidential)

The Grave Errors of Laura Bush

Laura Bush has a new book out, one in which she not only admits her hopes that abortion remains legal but also her favoring the legalization of same-sex marriage. It's a very sad and ugly thing. For holding these positions means that Mrs. Bush is turning her heart away from the barbaric murder of preborn boys and girls as well as turning her heart away from the order of creation established by Almighty God.

In trying to be trendy, Mrs. Bush is showing a shameful lack of grace, compassion, intellectual honesty and respect for the Bible. And because of her high visibility, her promotion of such highly immoral positions will do great damage.

Sharon Slater, in the latest newsletter of Family Watch International, responds in particular to Mrs. Bush's comments in her book (and to Larry King) about homosexual marriage:

I have always had a lot of respect for former U.S. first lady Laura Bush. She seemed to be a good example of motherhood and traditional family values when she was in the White House. I met her briefly at a UN conference and had always thought she was on the same page on family issues.

However, I was quite disappointed when I heard one of her recent interviews promoting her new book where she spoke out in favor of same-sex marriage. Here is a direct quote from Mrs. Bush:

“There are a lot of people who have trouble coming to terms with that because they see marriage as traditionally between a man and a woman. But I also know that, you know, when couples are committed to each other and love each other, that they ought to have, I think, the same sort of rights that everyone has.”

In her book she reveals that “I had talked to George about not making gay marriage a significant issue [in the 2004 presidential campaign]. We have, I reminded him, a number of close friends who are gay or whose children are gay.”

I was sad to see that Mrs. Bush has fallen for the “any-two-people-who-are-committed-to-each-other-and-love-each-other-should-be-allowed-to-marry” argument. Her statement shows a complete and utter lack of understanding of how legalizing same-sex marriage negatively impacts the institution of marriage, parental rights, religious freedom, but especially children.

I wonder if Mrs. Bush is aware that Massachusetts parents who tried to opt their young children out of lessons intended to help them accept homosexuality as healthy and normal were told by their state Supreme Court that because same-sex marriage was legalized in their state, schools not only the right but also had the duty to promote homosexuality to their children, and they had no right to opt them out.

I wonder if Mrs. Bush realizes that where same-sex marriage is legal, adoptions by homosexual couples usually follows, which usually requires that children be severed from one of their biological parents to make this happen. I wonder which parent she thinks children should do without, the mother or the father.

I wonder if Mrs. Bush understands that changing the institution of marriage from an opposite-sex institution to a same-sex institution changes the meaning, function, and purpose of marriage, the glue that holds the institution of the family together.

I wonder if Mrs. Bush is aware of the landmark study put out by NARTH documenting the negative outcomes in general for individuals involved in the homosexual lifestyle. I wonder if she understood this if she would still think it was a good idea for society to endorse relationships that perpetuate these negative outcomes in the lives of the individuals involved.

I wonder if she realizes the havoc that tampering with divorce laws has caused and if she thinks somehow we can experiment and tamper with the very definition of marriage without wreaking more havoc on the marriage institution and thus onto children and society. (Family Watch gives good reasons why same-sex marriage should not be legalized in our Policy Brief, and there is an entire chapter describing the negative impact of legalizing same-sex marriage in my book, Stand for the Family.)

I suppose there is a possibility that Mrs. Bush does understand the social implications of legalizing same-sex marriage but simply decided that not making “couples who are committed to each other and love each other” distressed at not being able to marry was a more important goal.

I am continually amazed at how many people in public life and in the media who should have a more sophisticated understanding of what is truly at stake in radically redefining such a fundamental social institution but who, like Mrs. Bush, simply do not...

Abortionists Using TV Ads

If you are bothered by TV commercials featuring scantily clad women or beer-guzzling numskulls or erectile dysfunction correctives or various birth control drugs, just wait until ads touting the barbaric "services" of surgical abortionists start showing up.

Such ads have already started in Great Britain. And given the times, it probably won't take too long for them to get underway here.

Judgment awaits.

"We Don't Need a Finger Pointer in Chief!"

Obama's Indifference to the Spill Frustrates Even Chris Matthews

Chris Matthews still tingles over Barack Obama -- but not in the same way as before. Wow -- if Obama loses people like Matthews and James Carville and the late night comedians, he's in very big trouble indeed.

(Note: To play this clip, remove the ad shield by hitting the X in the right hand corner of the film frame.It's right by the phrase, "Skip This Ad.")

"I Don't See How the President Can Survive the Oil Spill."

I don't see how the president's position and popularity can survive the oil spill. This is his third political disaster in his first 18 months in office. And they were all, as they say, unforced errors, meaning they were shaped by the president's political judgment and instincts.

There was the tearing and unnecessary war over his health-care proposal and its cost. There was his day-to-day indifference to the views and hopes of the majority of voters regarding illegal immigration. And now the past almost 40 days of dodging and dithering in the face of an environmental calamity. I don't see how you politically survive this.

The president, in my view, continues to govern in a way that suggests he is chronically detached from the central and immediate concerns of his countrymen. This is a terrible thing to see in a political figure, and a startling thing in one who won so handily and shrewdly in 2008. But he has not, almost from the day he was inaugurated, been in sync with the center. The heart of the country is thinking each day about A, B and C, and he is thinking about X, Y and Z. They're in one reality, he's in another...

In "He Was Supposed to Be Competent," Peggy Noonan has written her best column in awhile. Check it out.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Today's Posts

Obama Productions Brings You "Nightmare on Main Street."

Don't worry about seeing that new film "Nightmare on Elm Street," former lieutenant governor of New York Betsy McCaughey can catch you up on a much more frightening story.

Call it "Nightmare on Wall Street" or "Nightmare on Main Street," she'll give you the lowdown on a horror flick in which the victims!

McCaughey calls her article, "Bam's Budget is a Monstrosity" and you'll find it in the New York Daily News.

Here's just part of her hair-raising article:

I'm not interested in another debate over big government versus small government," President Obama told a Buffalo crowd on May 13. What this means is that the President doesn't care about how much freedom you have.

When government spends more, less is left for people to spend as they choose. And the events of the last four months indicate that Americans are being conned into giving up their freedom.

On Feb. 1, President Obama released his fiscal 2011 budget. It's a whopper. It calls for federal spending of $3.8 trillion, soaring to $5.7 trillion in 2020.

A 5-foot-high stack of hundred-dollar bills totals $1 million. To get to $1 billion, you need 10 stacks as high as the Washington Monument. To get to $3.8 trillion, you need 38,000 Washington Monuments.

$3.8 trillion also equals 25% of everything produced in the U.S. (Gross Domestic Product). State and local government spending brings the total to 42% of GDP.

Government spending has crossed the 40% line just twice in American history: when the nation plunged into World War II and again last year, during the economic crisis. The Obama administration intends to make big government permanent, with spending at 40% even in 2020, when no crisis is expected. The White House rosily predicts full employment that year.

The President claims he pared the budget line by line - which is what he promised to do when he was a candidate in 2008. But the numbers prove otherwise. Foreign aid is increased 50% from 2011 to 2015. Most Americans would rather pay their mortgage...

When the President announced his budget, he said, "It is time to save what we can, spend what we must and live within our means once again." But his budget includes such vast spending increases that even after hiking income taxes, capital gains taxes, dividend taxes and estate taxes, the nation faces a $1.3 trillion deficit in 2011, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Obama's budget will result in a federal debt of $20.3 trillion by 2020, $5trillion more than it would be without Obama's new policies...

Congress is taking cover behind the President's new Commission on Fiscal Responsibility, which is not scheduled to report until after the election. Commission members are already floating the idea of a VAT to pay for big government...

The President has said he will not rule out any commission recommendation, even a value-added tax. Don't be snookered by this strategy of delaying "deficit reduction" until after the fall election and don't be misled by the phrase "value-added." A VAT would be nothing less than a Vanishing America Tax. Voters should interrogate candidates about their stand on it and stop government from growing beyond the consent of the governed.

Barack Obama: Playfully Presiding Over America's Decline

Earlier this month while in Brussels, Vice President Joe Biden told the European Parliament that while “some American politicians and American journalists refer to Washington, DC as the ‘capital of the free world’ … it seems to me that this great city, which boasts 1,000 years of history and which serves as the capital of Belgium, the home of the European Union, and the headquarters for NATO, this city has its own legitimate claim to that title.” How revealing.

The European Union is a profoundly anti-democratic institution, created and forced on member states by internationalist leftist elites despite widespread public disapproval. It should be no surprise that the same administration that can’t bring itself to enforce our laws and protect our borders would give such strong support to an institution that has so undermined national sovereignty in Europe. And given that the EU’s unelected and unaccountable bureaucracy employs more people than the entire British Army it is no wonder that NATO member nations have been unwilling/unable to pull their weight in the Long War.

One might hope that the Obama administration would look at the path Europe has gone down (a bloated welfare state that saps economic growth and bleeds military spending) and decide to change course. But President Barack Obama’s speech at West Point on Sunday quashed any such hopes. Speaking to graduating Cadets, President Obama laid out the increasingly identifiable pillars of the Obama Doctrine: greater reliance on international institutions; substituting soft power for hard power; and a more subdued and less self-reliant America – a scheme designed more to manage American decline than to ensure its people remain safe, free and prosperous...

(Conn Carroll, "Slouching Towards Irrelevance" in The Foundry, Heritage Foundation).

Read the rest of Conn's article but also check out Dr. John's "Obama Foreign Policy: Weakness Through Weakness" over at Flopping Aces and John Hawkins' "Three Un-American Activities of Barack Obama" at Town Hall. Excellent reads all.

News from the Abortion Wars

Here's a couple of noteworthy entries from

* New information obtained by a member of Congress makes it appear the Obama administration has spent $10 million potentially illegally promoting a pro-abortion constitution in Kenya. Obama officials were thought to have spent $2 million but Rep. Chris Smith says that figure could exceed $10 million. (Read more.)

* A pro-life group that monitors problems at abortion centers says the response by Planned Parenthood to what appears to be a botched abortion shows little care for women. Operation Rescue is weighing in on the recent incident at a Planned Parenthood facility in Naples, Florida. (Read more.)

* William Saunders, senior vice president of Americans United for Life, weighs in on the abortion views of Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan. (Read more.)

We Hate You. Now Give Us More Money.

In the United Nations, Egypt votes against the United States 79% of the time. Yet it receives $2 billion annually in U.S. "foreign aid." Yes, that's two "capital B" billion dollars.

Concerning more measly amounts, Jordan votes against the United States 71% of the time but gets just under $200 million in "foreign aid" and India who votes against the United States 81% of the time but still pulls in almost $ 145 million from U.S. taxpayers.

I won't give you the dollar amounts that the following rake in from the United States but you know it's a bunch even though they too consistently oppose our votes in the U.N: Kuwait votes against the United States 67% of the time; Morocco 70%; United Arab Emirates 70%; our "strong ally and good friend" Saudi Arabia 73%; Syria 84%; and so on and so on.

And that doesn't figure in, of course, the many millions we serve up to the corrupt, anti-American, abortion-promoting, terrorist-supporting United Nations itself.

The U.S. is the enabling spouse in a really bad marriage. She gets disrespected and scorned, beat up, cheated on and in various other ways terribly abused. But then she's expected to bring out her purse and pay for her scoundrel's next round of fun.


A true test of a politician's conservatism (and common sense) is whether or not they will pledge to get the U.S. out of the U.N. And quick!

(Thanks to Right of Center for the info.)

Obama's Census Circus

New York Post columnist John Crudele has pointed out the outrageous fraud of Team Obama listing in its "jobs created" category census workers who only worked an hour or two. In fact, it's worse than that. Many of these workers are released after a very short time (a few days, even a few hours) and then "re-hired" -- and each time they return they're listed as another new job created!

Each month Census gives Labor a figure on the number of workers it has hired. That figure goes into the closely followed monthly employment report Labor provides. For the past two months the hiring by Census has made up a good portion of the new jobs.

Labor doesn't check the Census hiring figure or whether the jobs are actually new or recycled. It considers a new job to have been created if someone is hired to work at least one hour a month.

One hour! A month! So, if a worker is terminated after only one hour and another is hired in her place, then a second new job can apparently be reported to Labor.

As an example Crudele cites this e-mail from a reader, "John: I am on my fourth rehire with the 2010 Census. I have been hired, trained for a week, given a few hours of work, then laid off. So my unemployed self now counts for four new jobs. I have been paid more to train all four times than I have been paid to actually produce results. These are my tax dollars and your tax dollars at work."

Here's another. "John: I worked for (Census) and I was paid $18.75 (an hour) just like Ms. Naomi Cohn from your article. I worked for about six weeks or so and I picked the hours I wanted to work. I was checking the work of others. While I was classifying addresses, another junior supervisor was checking my work. In short, we had a 'checkers checking checkers' quality control. I was eventually let go and was told all the work was finished when, in fact, other people were being trained for the same assignment(s)... I am totally convinced that the Census work could be very easily done by the US Postal Service."

New Technology, Same Great News

Ben Watson is a recent friend (made through Facebook) who is involved with a Christian outreach that I think some of you might find of interest. I certainly do.

It is Source Of Light Ministries International, an organization that has been around since 1952. But the particular branch that my friend works with is SLM's Alternative Media Ministry which provides Bible study materials in large print formats, Braille, audio (including the distribution of solar-powered radios to people in regions without electrical power), and now internet activities including "webinar" presentations.

Their purpose is "to make the study of God's Word possible to everyone, regardless of their level of literacy, geographical location or physical limitations."

Very cool!

For more information, check out the Source of Light web site and the specific Alternative Media page. From that page you can contact Ben if, for instance, you'd like to receive updates via the web site, Facebook or their online Wednesday chapel services.

Al Gore Inspires Tony Blair: Go Green to Make Millions

Sri Carmichael at the London Evening Standard tells us that former British Prime Minister has just landed a nice gig as a "strategic adviser" to Khosla Ventures, a California company that bankrolls businesses looking to profit from technology that reduces global warming. The job will pay Blaire a minimum of £700,000 a year for opening doors through his influence, prestige and international contacts.

Like Al Gore, Mr. Blair wants to save the planet -- but also make sure he gets his own "green" in the process.

Thus, in addition to this new job with Khosla Ventures, a company started by Indian billionaire Vinod Khosla, Blair has garnered several very lucrative posts since leaving office including a £1 million deal to advise the ruling royal family of Kuwait and a cool £4.6 million advance for his memoirs. There are also his speaking engagements at £100,000 a pop -- though always to audiences outside of Great Britain.

After what he did to the country, they can't afford his prices.

(Hat tip: E. Calvin Beisner of the Cornwall Alliance)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Today's Posts

Why Are These Particular Baby Dolls Inappropriate for Kids?

After reading this story from the Virginian-Pilot, it seems that all of Norfolk, Virginia is aghast and infuriated about what was done to the students of Oakwood Elementary School.

Were they shown videos of sexual activity or taught how to use condoms for "safe sex?" No, that wouldn't bother anyone except those fundamentalists who are so out of touch with the times. Could it be that books with homosexual themes were brought into the library? No, that too would be perfectly acceptable nowadays.

Maybe it was because a teacher made the kids sing a hymn of praise to Barack Obama? Golly, even that wouldn't provoke the kind of firestorm that occurred here.

So what was it? What did happen that, if the news reporter is to be trusted, set the town ablaze?

It's this -- the elementary school kids were shown plastic fetal models -- the very same models we've displayed in public places for three decades -- the very same models that have drawn wondrous "oohs" and "ahs" and "wows" and "Mommy, look here" from kids of all ages.

But to these Virginia school administrators and parents (who only discovered the "outrage" months after it had been happening, not a helpful note when you're trying to portray the thing as a great crisis), these scientifically sound fetal models were "incredible" and "entirely inappropriate and unacceptable."

Why? Because they could be viewed as a "pro-life tool."

Ah, I see. That's why the furor. And that's why the indignant tone of the newspaper report too. And that's why the employee that handed out the models has been given "administrative leave."

Sexuality of a graphic, unnatural nature taught to elementary school children is one thing. But this -- allowing kids to see and feel realistic models of what human beings are like in their uterine state -- no, we can't have that.

Sure, its accurate. And yes, it's relevant too. And, okay, one would have to admit the models are age-appropriate. But, confound it, if the pro-lifers like them...if they know that models like this are effective in teaching the humanity of the unborn, then all of our liberal establishment's support of no-hassle, no-guilt abortion comes undone.

And we can't have that.

Read more on the situation from this excellent post over at Jill Stanek's blog.

Has Barack Obama Killed Socialism?

Is socialism dying?

It's a question that would hardly have been asked in those days just after Barack Obama was elected President of the United States. After all, to those who had paid attention, he had run (and won) as a far left ideologue, a genuine socialist.

That hardly seems evidence of liberalism being out of favor.

But making sweeping promises and being able to deliver them are two distinct things. And it turned out that Obama couldn't deliver the goods. In fact, after the euphoria of electing a supposedly post-racial, post-partisan, transparent and highly skilled orator as its President, the country began to realize that it had done anything but.

For the new administration started slow and sluggish but demonstrated that it wasn't at all interested in conciliation or teamwork. Indeed, the most controversial and divisive zealots were put into positions of bureaucratic power. Government was carried on in secret. Deal-making, coercion, distortion of facts, blame, and demagoguery via teleprompter became Obama's rules of engagement.

The President, freed from having to curry favor from voters or the press, arrogantly turned on both.

As a candidate, Barack Obama played various roles but the fawning press refused to report his hypocrisy and inconsistency. They actually helped him in his various disguises. But when elected, the masquerade was over. He was Planned Parenthood's man after all. And he wasn't going to protect marriage. His religion wasn't Christianity but a mix of new age mysticism, Jeremiah Wright-style liberation theology, and deep respect for Islam. He didn't bother to go to church. American exceptionalism he sneeringly rejected -- he was President of the world. And so he hit the road on his apology tours, going out of his way to denigrate America, disrespect our allies and cravenly suck up to our enemies.

And when he was back home, the socialism he always held dear was also let out of its box: buyouts, bailouts, takeovers, spending like a drunken sailor, and ambitious schemes to shove whatever policies he wanted down the American gullet.

It was irresponsible to the max. The schemes just wouldn't work. There wasn't the money. It was a bizarre form of madness too -- so openly mad that the laws were written in secret, withheld from politicians who were expected to vote on them anyway. The bully pulpit was losing its power, so long-winded and uncertain and gaffe-prone was Obama without his teleprompter and so harebrained, sing-song and irritating was the man even when he had its help, that he opted instead to just be a bully. He scowled, threatened, pointed his nicotine-stained finger and got his way with timid Democrats -- after then giving them presents for seeing things his way.

But when the health care fight began to reveal these things in all their dishonor to the American people, something turned. The nastiness, the absurdity, and the tyranny which is "Obama liberalism" was rejected. Utterly rejected. His disapproval ratings reached record lows as did those of other Democrats and RINO incumbents. There were tea parties, editorial page revolutions, viral video clips -- even lifelong Democrats joined the chorus of boos.

But, most significantly, the opposition wasn't just about health care. It wasn't even about Barack Obama alone. No, the opposition to the administration's brand of liberalism was more about a resurgence of common sense -- in morality, economics, and national interest. Patriotism experienced a rebirth as did a strong desire to "throw the bums out" who had given us a government that, even before Obama, overtaxed us but left us under-represented, uninspired, unproductive and unprotected.

Socialism hadn't worked in Europe. But it was hanging on to the reins of power and still hoping to win back the unconverted and disillusioned. But then Barack Obama came and tried to outdo Europe in the socialism department. He wanted more than a bigger government, more even than a Nanny State under Democrat control. He wanted socialism on a grand scale including a new international order (as he told the West Point cadets just days ago) and the domination by government of private industry, private property and even such aspects of private life as religious conscience and expression.

And he is no incrementalist. He wants these things now. And he wants them bad -- so bad that even the devastating opposition now arrayed against him will not make him change his mind or his timetable.

If Obama fails (and it looks increasingly likely that he will), the cause of socialism even in Europe is in grave jeopardy. The stage on which his collapse has been enacted is too big. His aching ambition and pompous sense of destiny did what liberals had always feared -- he showed the public way too clearly what the goals and the spirit of liberalism really were. And therefore their rejection was dramatic and, quite possibly, permanent.

Is socialism dying? If so, it can blame no one more than its most fervent fancier, Barack Obama.

Al Gore: The Most Depressing Commencement Speech Ever?

Congratulations, graduates. You've done a wonderful job getting through college. But I'm sorry to tell you that it doesn't mean squat because the world is going to end soon. So see if you can enjoy your graduation party now!

Obama's Through With Christians...Until the Next Election

In a surprisingly candid piece, Michelle Boorstein reports for the Washington Post on the Democrat's retreat from their much-vaunted "faith outreach."

If 2008 was the year Democrats finally got religion, will 2010 be the year the party loses it again?

This is the worry among some religious progressives, who worked to transform the image of Democrats from wary -- or even hostile -- toward religion to a party that hired faith consultants, advertised regularly on Christian radio and featured candidates, including Barack Obama, who spoke openly about their relationship with God...

"It's a mystery to everyone what happened to Democratic faith outreach in the last year," said Rebecca Sager, a Loyola Marymount University professor who writes and teaches about the religious progressive movement. "There is sort of this, 'We worked so hard and made so much progress, and 2008 seemed like this great year, and then what happened?'

The election happened, of course.

And since Barack Obamas's only interest in the Christian community was to dupe them into voting for him, he was more than eager to drop them once he moved into the White House. Thus, he quickly moved to promote abortion and homosexual privileges and Islam -- while moving against Christian education, rights of conscience, freedom of religious speech, protection of marriage, etc.

And about those staffers who were supposed to lead Obama's faith outreach when he was President? They were dismissed or given other duties when he took office. But, and you've already guessed it, DNC Chairman Tim Kaine said that plans are underway to revive the faith outreach department "as the fall election season gets closer."

Somehow, I don't think that it's going to work as well as last time.

Let the Sunshine In -- Through Letters

Whitman once wrote, "The art of art, the glory of expression and the sunshine of the light of letters, is simplicity."

As promised yesterday, I'm giving you some samples of the "simple sunshine" passed on to politicians, diplomats and business leaders which were written at Monday evening's P.A.L. Night party. The first two are from Carol Coppi. They deal, respectively, with Mexico's President harshly condemning Arizona's new immigration law and the Elena Kagan nomination to the Supreme Court.

Dear President Obama,

I appreciate the dinners that you give for foreign dignitaries. The attention to detail and hospitality reflects well on you and our nation. However, I must take exception to the behavior of your guest, President Felipe Calderon. What insulting behavior, to lecture the U.S. about our immigration policies. The absolute nerve! How did you stand it?

Please remember that visitors do not have the right to trash America. I expect you to defend the country that has given you the highest office of the land.

Carol Coppi
Tea Party person and military wife
(Copy sent to President Felipe Calderon)

Dear Senator Nelson,

I am concerned about the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court.

I understand she was instrumental in banning ROTC from recruiting at Harvard. This shows a profound disregard for our military and the Constitution. It concerns me that the court is being “packed” to reflect women and minorities.

Please consider judicial experience, Constitutional soundness and reject “political correctness” when confirming a Supreme Court judge. Kagan is just not qualified.

Carol Coppi, artist
(Copy sent to D.C. office)

Also among the letter targets we offered the other night was the despicable practice of Iowa Planned Parenthood dispensing the dangerous abortifacient drug RU-486 by a remote control process in which the physician doesn't even see the patient! Here's Claire's letter to the Executive Director of the Iowa Board of Medicine.

Mr. Bowden,

I would like to encourage you to please take a hard look at Planned Parenthood’s distribution of RU-486. On their website, they have detailed the procedure of a client watching a video and then pressing a button to get her RU-486. The client doesn’t personally see the doctor even though she is being given a powerful drug that will kill her unborn baby and may cause her serious harm! This seems most unethical and unsafe.

Please take the time as the Executive Director of the Iowa Board of Medicine to look into this. Women need to be safe and you must make sure Planned Parenthood of Iowa is not breaking the law.

Thank you for your consideration of this important matter.

Mrs. Claire Hartford

And one more for today. It also is from Claire and concerns the new cartoon series from Comedy Central that blasphemously ridicules Jesus Christ. She sent it Viacom.

To Whom It May Concern:

Since I couldn’t find a direct address for Comedy Central, I am sending this note to you, their parent company, to protest your new cartoon series which mocks Jesus. Now really…do you want to go down this path? There are so many subjects for positive, wholesome comedy -- so why the sophomoric and profane desire to ridicule what the world so desperately needs to take seriously; namely, the love and righteousness offered by Jesus Christ?

You well know that there are still a large number of people in this country who will not watch (or allow their children to watch) such a program. And those people are consumers who are increasingly tuned in to companies that go out of their way to be offensive. So don't go there. Don't do something that is not only mean-spirited but dumb by offending Christians and many following other religious faiths. Pull the program, please.

Thank you.
Mrs. Claire Hartford,
Co-Director, Vital Signs Ministries

Those with Jobs Foot the Bill for Creative Spirits Who Refuse to Be "Job-Locked"

There's good news for creative-types who would rather strum a guitar or make abstract iron sculptures or hang out waiting to be discovered as an actor/model/celebrity instead of, well...working.

Take it straight from Nancy Pelosi, ""We see it [the Democrat health care law] as an entrepreneurial bill, a bill that says to someone, if you want to be creative and be a musician or whatever, you can leave your work, focus on your talent, your skill, your passion, your aspirations because you will have health care. You don't have to be job-locked"

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Today's Posts

The Pens Were Smokin'

After beginning the evening in prayer, the Vital Signs team members who had assembled for last night's P.A.L. Night (Prayer, Action and Letters) watched this 5-minute video clip for a few helpful pointers. True, everyone there was a letter-writing veteran but the clip is a very effective inspiration and help.

Then they read through this introduction to the evening's work:

The action targets for tonight's P.A.L. Night? Take your pick.

For starters, how about contacting your U.S. Senators about the Elena Kagan nomination to the Supreme Court? Or American Idol once again deciding to funnel large amounts of money to organizations that aggressively promote abortion? Perhaps you'd prefer to begin with some letters to the diplomats of countries with a particularly grievous record of persecuting Christians? We've got the embassy addresses for the worst of the worst.

Maybe you never heard a reply from
your last letter to the Nebraska Attorney General about his office investigating charges against notorious abortionist Leroy Carhart. If not, it's probably time for a follow up. And have you written lately to remind your political representatives your opinions about ENDA or the so-called "Fairness Doctrine" or the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy?

For those of you who follow Vital Signs Blog, you know there's plenty of other situations that could use our prayers and our polite but principled letters. Those wou
ld include Comedy Central's plans for a mean-spirited cartoon series which blasphemes Jesus Christ. But others involve the leftward leanings of the National Association of Evangelicals (a group which just might be receiving some of the money you put in the offering plate at your own church), the effrontery (and stone cold hypocrisy) of Mexico's President criticizing a legitimate law of one of the states while a guest of our country, and any one of a number of stunts pulled by our own President Obama.

But that's not all. What about a few thank-you notes to some of the conservative columnists you regularly read or to some of our political representatives for the bold actions of fiscal restraint, patriotism and pro-life commitment that they've taken in recent weeks?

There's also
new wickedness afoot from Planned Parenthood, new schemes from Washington liberals to steal more of your money and personal liberty, and new moves by Team Obama to weaken national security.

Oh yeah, it's time for a few prayers (make that a lot of prayers!) and a few handwritten letters.

Let's get started.

And start they did! In fact, the pens were smoking! And by the time we stopped for ice cream two hours later, those 6 letter-writers had 67 letters ready for sending out! They included letters to Arizona Governor Jan Brewer; Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman; Senators Ben Nelson and Mike Johanns; Congressmen Lee Terry, Jeff Fortenberry, Tom McClintock and several others; State Senator Tanya Cook and Charlie Janssen; the Iowa and Nebraska Medical Boards; Attorney General Jon Bruning; Viacom; American Idol; President Barack Obama; Mexico President Felipe Calderon; Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; and a dozen ambassadors of foreign countries whose records on human rights has been despicable.

67 letters from a principled, polite and very productive group -- great job, guys!

Of course, you can be a part of this kind of significant effort too.

Vital Signs Ministries hosts frequent P.A.L.Nights like this and you are always cordially invited to be a part. Just give us a call for info on the next one. You can also use the information you receive from places like Vital Signs Blog to be a "shiner" instead of a mere "whiner" and write letters on your own -- or, better still, with a few friends or family members. (As an example, I've always thought advocacy letter-writing should be a staple of home school education.)

There are letter-writing tips right here at the Vital Signs Ministries web site and feel free to use the address sheet we used last night. You'll find it right here.

So go on and write a few letters. It does a lot more good than just complaining. In fact, as that Omar Ahmad clip reveals, it does a lot more good than you think!

By the way, over the next few days I'll post a sampling of the letters written last night. They may give you an added bit of oomph to write a few yourself.

Clint Didier Has a Game Plan for Washington

No wonder this potato farmer and former Washington Redskins NFL tight end got Sarah Palin's endorsement for the U.S. Senate!

From the web site of Clint Didier for Senate:

I’m running for the U. S. Senate because I will not stand by and watch the future of our children be squandered by those who have lost respect for the fruits of the people’s labor – those who arrogantly believe they know how to spend your money better than you.

Many would have you believe it’s so complicated we need experienced politicians to lead us. However, that belief causes us to keep re-electing career politicians who soak up the perks and privileges. Meanwhile our freedoms shrink, our tax burden increases and the American Dream fades. It is true; I have no experience in public office. Haven’t we elected enough “experience”? Is it working for us?

I’m running as a Republican only because I believe in the tenets of the GOP platform. But, make no mistake, I’m fully aware existing Republican leadership has failed to lead and has given us much of the same as the Democrats.

It’s not about party; it’s about principles and convictions. What do you gain if you elect someone with all the right rhetoric, but lacks the courage to carry out his, or her, convictions? I am not afraid to stand up for what I believe and speak out when I see things are going the wrong way...

I am pro-life – from conception until natural death. Our Declaration of Independence states our inalienable rights are “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness: and “That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men…” Therefore, it is the express job of government to protect all innocent human life. Taking a public policy position otherwise leaves all lives in jeopardy.

Regarding marriage, I am not willing to throw out 4,000 years of core traditional marriage to assuage the wishes of a few. I believe marriage is between one man and one woman and should remain so for the sake of children and the perpetuation of the traditional family unit.

I believe benevolence and charity belong to our citizens, not government. To believe otherwise, is to assume if government doesn’t do it, neither will the people. I have not seen evidence to support that theory. Americans give to domestic and foreign charities more than any other people in the world.

Here's a Washington Times story with more about Didier's candidacy.

Growing Old Can Be Dangerous (And Lonely)

Mark Early has a very brief but very important exhortation about America's treatment of the elderly in this Breakpoint commentary.

Ray Stevens Is Winning A Bunch of New Fans

You loved Ray Stevens' "Come to the USA" so now enjoy (and pass around) his terrific "Throw the Bums Out" which I embed below. But after watching this great clip, please consider throwing a few kudos Ray's way for producing these creative, funny and punchy songs -- songs that will definitely help fuel the ongoing political reformation.

You can do this by visiting Ray's web site which is full of interesting info and fabulous entertainment. Among the things to consider is the nifty 22-song CD "We the People" which I just bought (along with a couple of other albums). Neat stuff.

Among the 22 songs in the "We the People" album are the title track, Dear Andy Griffith, The Global Warming Song, Fly Over Country, We Are the Government, If 10% Is Good Enough for Jesus, Obama Nation, and, of course, Throw the Bums Out and Come to the USA. Plus a free DVD accompanies each order with the songs We The People, Thank You, Caribou Barbie and Throw The Bums Out on it.

C'mon, you can't lose here. Ray Stevens is a terrific music talent, a very inventive and funny guy and a genuine patriot who is sticking his neck out to bring our country back from the brink. Let's give him our support and, by so doing, enjoy some down-home country humor.

Now check out "Throw the Bums Out."

Monday, May 24, 2010

Today's Posts

Vital Signs Ministries Update

Excerpts from the latest edition of the Vital Signs Ministries LifeSharer letter:

...Let me begin with a quick recap of the last several weeks. 1) The Omaha World Herald published a pro-life op/ed piece of mine which drew a lot of attention. Historically, the newspaper has been anything but positive to my entries but there has been a few changes at the top there. This was the second op/ed of mine they published in the last couple of years.

2) Several posts from Vital Signs Blog have been picked up by “big blogs” like, Blogs Lucianne Loves, The Point and others which have not only driven our daily average to over 400 page loads but have created extra “spikes” in traffic that have gone as high as 1900 in one day! Wow.

3) We have begun a new series of P.A.L. Nights where we take advantage of the special punches that a handwritten letter creates. Always fun, always encouraging, and always helpful, these P.A.L. Nights really do make a difference. The next one will be Monday, May 24th at 7:00 P.M. at our place. Please consider joining us.

4) The sidewalk counseling on Monday mornings now involves two shifts: one from 7:30 to 9:15 and the other from 9 to 10:30. That usually allows 4 of us to be present at any time. However, in the summer, we lose two of our regulars. Therefore, any additions to the team would be most welcome.

5) The latest Book It! discussion covered Amity Schlaes’ The Forgotten Man and it was (both the book and the conversation) superb! Next in line is Randy Alcorn’s Money, Possessions and Eternity with the evening discussion scheduled for Monday, June 28th. Give us a call if you’re interested.

6) Our ministry of one-on-one and small group discipleship goes on as usual. For example, since the last LifeSharer, we have hosted nearly a dozen lunches or dinner meetings. And that doesn't count those involving visiting family, the Board meeting, the literary club, etc.

7) As I’ve mentioned before, we have seen a revitalization of our Mercy Ministries with our frequent visits to the nursing home where my Mom lives. We’ve made many friends with both residents and staff and we’ve really enjoyed developing those relationships. Whenever I’m there, I “work the rooms” a while which seems to be warmly appreciated by all though not as much, I must confess, as Claire’s frequent donation of cookies are! Other Vital Signs team members engaged in regular nursing home visits (that we know of) are Keith and Carol Moran, Quint Coppi, and Ruth Denzler.

8) I was honored to fill in for a friend when he needed a “substitute teacher” for a couple of his Old Testament classes at Grace University. But I had to hit the books for a few hours to be ready for whatever they might throw at me. It went very well.

9) We’ve had some intriguing correspondence in recent weeks from all over the country and from a few more far-flung places like Norway, Belarus, England and the Philippines.

10) Steve Young is nearing completion of his renovations of the official Vital Signs Ministries web site. It looks cool now but it will be even better when he launches the new one. Moreover, the site will also be more comprehensive (incorporating much of what is now on individual blogs), more interactive, more user-friendly and, probably most important of all, more Claire-friendly! That last bit means that Claire will be better able to add, subtract and otherwise regularly maintain the site...

Read the rest of the LifeSharer letter right here.

Barack's Muslim Past Confirmed

If you want to see a liberal pundit go ballistic, raise the matter of Barack Obama's being (at least for a time in his past) a Muslim. The explosive ire that results will not bring any facts to the question. But that isn't considered necessary. The virulence of the resultant outrage is, by itself, designed to end all speculation.

And if that doesn't do the trick, there's always obfuscation, distortion, outright lies, ridicule, and the alarming incredulity that the Mystery President (see last week's post) isn't believed on his mere say-so. How dare you question...HIM?

But some facts do out, despite the best efforts of Obama's pals in the press to keep them buried. Like the ones Daniel Pipes first brought up in January 0f 2008 in this illuminating article: Confirmed: Barack Obama Practiced Islam.

Public Schools: Get Those Crosses Off or Get Out!

When it comes to fashion statements allowed by government schools, we know that Che Guevara, droopy pants, death-head tattoos, Barack Obama, gangsta rap shirts, cleavage and gaudy bling are generally okay.

But American flags, pro-life statements and Jesus T-shirts? You gotta' be kidding -- modern tolerance refuses to stretch to the right.

Now a Fox radio report describes how religious jewelry is next on the taboo list.

For instance, a New York middle-schooler was recently kicked out of school for wearing a rosary in honor of his brother killed in a car accident and an uncle who died from cancer. And a Texas 8th grader had his braided cross necklace (worn in memory of a soldier friend who was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq) confiscated by a school official. Why? Because it looked like a rosary!

How long does this kind of thing go on before American citizens demand a return by school administrators to civility, genuine tolerance and common sense. And how long before American parents start to finally remove their children from a system that is educationally ineffectual, physically dangerous and morally corrupt?

School Choice Championed From a Most Unusual Source

The letter reads like a conservative manifesto both in its honest analysis of the government school's lousy performance and in its rousing call for school voucher programs as one of the ways to help fix the problem.

But it's not from a conservative organization at all. In fact, you're going to very surprised at the letter's origin.

But first -- take a look at some of the specific passages:

"The evidence that our public education system is failing to educate our children is staggering ... high rates of illiteracy, an unacceptable number of high school dropouts and the widening achievement gap between white and minority students merely scratch the surface."

"Despite dramatically increasing the amount of money spent on K-12 education over the past several decades -- per pupil expenditures have increased by 53.6 percent (after adjusting for inflation) -- student performance is abysmal."

The letter goes on to counter the "common myth that school-voucher programs drain financial resources, as well as the best and brightest students from public schools." by showing that "the evidence proves otherwise. Research on voucher programs' effects on the finances of public schools shows that these programs actually save money at both the state and local level. Furthermore, as a recent study by the Brookings Institution indicates, these programs do not 'cream' the best students from the public school system."

But it's not just the liberal Brookings Institution that the letter cites. It refers to nine different studies of the impact of vouchers on public schools and concludes they're all quite positive. "School-choice programs complement public education by spurring the public system, as a result of competition, to perform better. No study has found that school choice makes public schools worse."

Sets forth a pretty good case for school choice, doesn't it? But again, this letter is not from the Heritage Foundation or the Claire Boothe Luce Institute or Focus on the Family.

It comes from the Philadelphia chapter of the Anti-Defamation League!

Could this be the beginning of a sea change on this crucial issue? Cal Thomas thinks it just might be. Check out his intriguing column from the weekend Washington Examiner.

Beware the Hidden Agenda in Those School Anti-Bullying Laws

Parents need to become aware and concerned "that there is a concerted effort to target public schools in every community. Homosexual activists openly acknowledge that this is a top priority. And it's easy to understand why: They realize that if they can capture the hearts and minds of the next generation, they will have settled the debate over the kinds of values that are going to direct the future of this country...

Watch out for initiatives and proposed laws with titles like "safe schools," "student protection" and "bullying or harassment prevention." Many times they are a guise for homosexuality lessons. These initiatives come in the form of everything from teacher training, curriculum, children's books and statewide laws. Also be on the lookout for your school district making alliances with local groups that may just be a front for national homosexual-advocacy organizations...

It's important to understand that this really is a well-orchestrated plan. In fact, as far back as the 1990s, "Safe Schools czar" Kevin Jennings made a speech explaining how he planned to use the word "safety" to put opponents on the defensive. And it is an effective strategy. After all, no one likes to be accused of opposing student safety and bullying prevention.

While those titles sound nice and compassionate, the problem is that, once gay activists succeed in getting special protections for homosexual categories into policies, they then use those mandates as leverage to get what they want in the schools...

It's important to acknowledge the problem, while also promoting the right solution. As Christians, I think we can and should acknowledge that bullying and peer abuse is tragic and wrong — and it should be prohibited. But this can be done without sexualizing and politicizing the entire school environment. Our viewpoint is based on the fact that all human beings are created by God in His image — which means every person has innate dignity and worth. Every individual is worthy of being protected from harm — not because of the political subgroup they belong to — but because they are the unique creation of God. That's why we advocate strong and objective policies that prohibit bullying for any reason against any child. A fair and objective policy should put the emphasis on the wrong actions of the bully — not on the characteristics of the victim..."

(Candi Cushman, education analyst for CitizenLink and organizer of the True Tolerance web site)

Secretary Salazar, Call These Guys ASAP

Looking for some ideas from the private sector to help with the cleanup for the BP oil spill? How 'bout the clean, green proposal from these good ol' boys? Very interesting clip but you may need to turn the volume up to catch everything they say.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Today's Posts

Calderon and Washington's Democrats Got It Despicably Wrong

Tom McClintock, Republican Congressman representing the 4th District of California, takes exception to the dishonorable (and highly hypocritical) speech by Mexican President Calderon in the House Chamber. McClintock speaks of assimilation, patriotism, the law and the despicable applause given Calderon's harangue by Democrat lawmakers. It's a brief but very good speech. Pass it on.

(Thanks for the alert to Tim Nobles.)

Push Button Abortion: Part Two

Remember the Vital Signs Blog post about Iowa Planned Parenthood's "Push Button Abortion" scheme? Well, not only is the rich abortion organization continuing with that deplorable practice, it looks like they're poised to take it nationwide! Here's the story.

Saudi Woman Beats Up "Islamic Virtues" Cop

It was a scene Saudi women’s rights activists have dreamt of for years.

When a Saudi religious policeman sauntered about an amusement park in the eastern Saudi Arabian city of Al-Mubarraz looking for unmarried couples illegally socializing, he probably wasn’t expecting much opposition.

But when he approached a young, 20-something couple meandering through the park together, he received an unprecedented whopping.

A member of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, the Saudi religious police known locally as the Hai’a, asked the couple to confirm their identities and relationship to one another, as it is a crime in Saudi Arabia for unmarried men and women to mix.

For unknown reasons, the young man collapsed upon being questioned by the cop.

According to the Saudi daily Okaz, the woman then allegedly laid into the religious policeman, punching him repeatedly, and leaving him to be taken to the hospital with bruises across his body and face.

“To see resistance from a woman means a lot,” Wajiha Al-Huwaidar, a Saudi women’s rights activist, told The Media Line news agency. “People are fed up with these religious police, and now they have to pay the price for the humiliation they put people through for years and years. This is just the beginning and there will be more resistance.”

“The media and the Internet have given people a lot of power and the freedom to express their anger,” she said. “The Hai’a are like a militia, but now whenever they do something it’s all over the Internet. This gives them a horrible reputation and gives people power to react.”

Neither the religious police nor the Eastern Province police has made a statement on the incident, and both the names of the couple and the date of the incident have not been made public, but on Monday the incident was all over the Saudi media.

Should the woman be charged, she could face a lengthy prison term and lashings for assaulting a representative of a government institution.

Saudi law does not permit women to be in public spaces without a male guardian. Women are not allowed to drive, inherit, divorce or gain custody of children, and cannot socialize with unrelated men...

(Jerusalem Post, May 21)

Facebook CEO Sees "Privacy" Differently Than You Do

Of all the ideas that a CEO can have, is the most dangerous one the idea that his main objective should be to generate profits for shareholders?

How about a belief in the idea that your privacy -- the privacy of millions of customers, whose information he holds in the palm of his hand -- just doesn’t matter? That’s roughly what Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg seems to believe...

Dr. Chris MacDonald, professor of philosophy and business ethics, blogs at The Business Ethics Blog. He shares a particularly important insight in this entry, "Facebook and Dangerous Ideas."

Is There an Intruder in YOUR Computer?

At a party a couple of weeks ago I had a talk with a couple of guys who specialize in computer security management for the U.S. government. What they told me about worms, viruses, professional hackers, computer vulnerability and more was scarier than a Hitchcock movie -- and a lot more real.

This Atlantic article served to repeat the experience. Check it out.

Imagine your computer to be a big spaceship, like the starship Enterprise on Star Trek. The ship is so complex and sophisticated that even an experienced commander like Captain James T. Kirk has only a general sense of how every facet of it works. From his wide swivel chair on the bridge, he can order it to fly, maneuver, and fight, but he cannot fully comprehend all its inner workings. The ship contains many complex, interrelated systems, each with its own function and history—systems for, say, guidance, maneuvers, power, air and water, communications, temperature control, weapons, defensive measures, etc. Each system has its own operator, performing routine maintenance, exchanging information, making fine adjustments, keeping it running or ready. When idling or cruising, the ship essentially runs itself without a word from Captain Kirk. It obeys when he issues a command, and then returns to its latent mode, busily doing its own thing until the next time it is needed.

Now imagine a clever invader, an enemy infiltrator, who does understand the inner workings of the ship. He knows it well enough to find a portal with a broken lock overlooked by the ship’s otherwise vigilant defenses—like, say, a flaw in Microsoft’s operating platform. So no one notices when he slips in. He trips no alarm, and then, to prevent another clever invader from exploiting the same weakness, he repairs the broken lock and seals the portal shut behind him. He improves the ship’s defenses. Ensconced securely inside, he silently sets himself up as the ship’s alternate commander. He enlists the various operating functions of the ship to do his bidding, careful to avoid tripping any alarms. Captain Kirk is still up on the bridge in his swivel chair with the magnificent instrument arrays, unaware that he now has a rival in the depths of his ship. The Enterprise continues to perform as it always has. Meanwhile, the invader begins surreptitiously communicating with his own distant commander, letting him know that he is in position and ready, waiting for instructions...

More Condemnation of Cuba's Tyranny (And From an Unexpected Source)

No one in the know thinks that the arts-oriented charity, English PEN, is a bastion of conservatism. And when this report was recently compiled (Freedom of Expression in Cuba), it contained some of the standard liberal complaints; i.e., a strong criticism of the U.S. embargo against Cuba.

However, the report also dared to tell the raw truth about intellectual life in the island paradise. And, in doing so, it sounded raucous alarms not normally heard in liberal circles. Note the opening lines from the report's Executive Summary:

...Cuba operates by far the most hostile approach to freedom of expression anywhere in Latin America. There are currently 26 writers imprisoned in Cuba for expressing their political beliefs. Only China, Iran and Burma imprison more writers for exercising their right to freedom of expression.

56 people including writers, librarians, book collectors, trades unionists, political activists and human rights campaigners have been in prison since the notorious ‘Black Spring’ wave of arrests which took place in March 2003.

Prison conditions for these detainees are appalling. Cuba is one of the few countries in the world that deny the International Committee of the Red Cross access to its prisons.

Cuba has rejected many of the measures suggested by the United Nations in February 2009 to improve human rights in the country.

Political conformity is imposed through the use of criminal prosecutions, long- and short-term detentions, harassment, police warnings, surveillance, house arrests, travel restrictions, exile and politically motivated dismissals from employment.

All print and broadcast media are state-controlled...

These are hard facts for the left to hear -- because they cannot be refuted. Ignored, yes. Drowned out by carping and blaming others, yes. But refuted, no. Therefore, just for bringing up Cuba's crimes, many in the British arts community are appalled at English PEN, furious that they are thus giving aid and assistance to those right-wing critics of the Cuban government who live in Miami and Washington...and the dark holes of Cuba's prisons.

John Keenan commenting in the Guardian on this liberal insistence to "tread lightly" when it comes to thugs like the Castro brothers writes,

How light must that tread be? As PEN points out, there are more writers in prison in Cuba than in any other country in the world, except for China and Iran. You can't pick and choose which authoritarian regime should be condemned or which marginalised and imprisoned writers ought to be supported.

No doubt foreign travel writers will continue to visit Cuba, and will produce reams of blithe copy about Buena Vista Social Club, the Tropicana, and unspoilt beaches. But they should do so in the knowledge that beyond the sun, sea and salsa is a world in eclipse, where people are imprisoned and assaulted for the simple act of opposing their own government.

Last week I mentioned the bold decision of arts leaders in Spain to stand against the cruelty and injustice of Cuba. Perhaps these fresh breezes of moral sanity from Europe will manage to waft their way across the pond to places like Washington and Hollywood, creating a long-overdue reaction to the harsh Communist dictatorship that rules Cuba.

We can hope...and pray.

WWII Vet Fights for the Right to Fly the Flag

Once again a shameless, vexatious order comes down from above (in this case, a property rental company) that denies an American citizen the right to fly his country's flag. And why? Apparently, to keep things looking tidy, uniform and dull.

EJL Management, the New Hampshire rental company that served up this mean-spirited order, actually went further and removed the flags and the brackets from the citizens' homes. The company defended their action by claiming the flags violate a blanket policy "prohibiting such displays."

Such displays? What exactly that means the bureaucratic boobs at EJL Management fail to explain -- except to remind the tenants that they can't have barbecue grills or lawn ornaments either. Fun landlords, huh?

There oughta' be a law against such ham-handed bullies, right?

There is.

Because there were so many of these flag prohibitions popping up, Congress passed the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act back in 2005. The law states clearly that "a condominium association, cooperative association, or residential real estate management association may not adopt or enforce any policy, or enter into any agreement, that would restrict or prevent an association member from displaying the U.S. flag on residential property within the association with respect to which such member has a separate ownership interest or a right to exclusive possession or use."

And, yes, renters who meet the conditions of the lease, qualify for "exclusive use."

Meaning that it was EJL Management that was breaking the law, not renters like WWII veteran Joe LeVangie whose flag and brackets were removed from the front of his house.

But Joe, knowing that liberty must always be fought for, did just that. The 88-year old Navy man (who observes proper flag etiquette, by the way) complained and got the media involved which not only brought the meanness of EJL Management into the light but also won the support of the Hillsborough Police Association and American Legion Post 59.

The result? Joe's flag and those of his patriotic friends in the complex will proudly fly again.

Here's the story and video clip from WMUR.