Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Today's Posts

It's a "When Swing Was King" Christmas!

Yesterday we presented to a small audience at Autumn Pointe Assisted Living Center up in Fort Calhoun the Christmas edition of "When Swing Was King." The day before we presented it to an audience of 23 at Heritage Pointe here in northwest Omaha. That leaves only 14 more presentations this month!

Did I say 14?


Do you need more proof of how much "When Swing Was King" has taken off on us? Boy, it's really been something. And, though we truly love doing the program, we're being hard pressed to get all of the other Vital Signs Ministries work done too. So please keep praying for us because with hundreds of senior citizens in Omaha-area nursing homes and retirement centers expressing their ongoing enthusiasm for the program, we're committed to continue bringing this exciting trip down memory lane to their doorsteps.

And that's not even mentioning the terrific friendships we're developing with many of these folks who we now see in their respective facilities every month. Or the appreciation of activities directors who absolutely love "When Swing Was King" because it is thoughtful, fun, professionally conducted, and stimulating on several levels -- sound, sight, soul, mind, social relationships, and affirmation of dignity.

Oh yes; they also love the fact that it's presented free of charge!

The lineup for the Christmas edition is top notch: the Glenn Miller Orchestra ("In the Christmas Mood" and "Silent Night"), The Mills Brothers ("O Holy Night"), the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra ("March of the Toys"), Duke Ellington's band ("Jingle Bells"), Frank Sinatra ("O Little Town of Bethlehem"), Judy Garland ("Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas"), Perry Como ("God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen"), the Vaughn Monroe Orchestra ("Let It Snow"), the Guy Lombardo Orchestra ("O Come All Ye Faithful"), the Benny Goodman Orchestra ("Winter Weather"), Woody Herman & his Thundering Herd ("Santa Claus Is Coming To Town"), and, of course, Bing Crosby ("White Christmas").

All the songs are accompanied by superb Power Point pictures from Christmases back in the day and extremely interesting trivia (if I do say so myself) about the songs, musicians and photographs. Did you know, for instance, that the very day after "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" was first heard on Eddie Cantor's radio program in 1934 that 100,000 copies of the song's sheet music was sold? Or that in 1906 "O Holy Night" was one of the first two songs ever played over radio? Or that Judy Garland insisted that the original lyrics to "Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas" be changed before she would sing them in the movie, "Meet Me In St. Louis"?

You want more? You want a delightful Christmas experience, one filled with sights and sounds of the season you'll not likely find anywhere else in town? You want a Christmas experience in which you can do some visiting with people who would absolutely love to know you? Then consider coming along to a "When Swing Was King" presentation sometime this December. Our schedule is always posted over at the Vital Signs Ministries web site but, for your convenience, I'll print it below. If you need directions or more information -- or if you'd like to make a Christmas gift to Vital Signs Ministries to help us keep bringing "When Swing Was King" to our area's seniors -- please contact us at P.O. Box 34278, Omaha, NE 68134 or by phone at 402-341-8886.

December 1 – Life Care Center of Omaha at 2:00

December 5 – Northcrest Nursing Home in Council Bluffs at 2:00

December 6 – Golden Living at 2:30

December 7 – Harmony Court in Council Bluffs at 3:00

December 8 – Maple Crest at 2:00

December 9 – Immanuel Courtyard at 2:15

December 12 - Life Care Center of Elkhorn at 2:30

December 13 – Harmony Court in Bellevue at 3:00

December 14 – Lindenwood at 2:00 (Seating space is really limited here so we can't afford more than a couple of extra visitors at this one.)

December 15 – Waterford at 2:30

December 16 – Regency Rehab & Skilled Nursing Home in Council Bluffs at 2:00

December 19 – Skyline nursing home at 2:30

December 20 – Walnut Grove at 3:00

December 21 – Mercy Villa at 1:00

Fetal Development: "It's Hard Not to Attribute Divinity to It"

Speaking of the collagen construction in the cornea, Alexander Tsiaras, the highly-respected president and CEO of Anatomical Travelogue, a fellow who has more than 20 years of experience in the worlds of medicine, research and art, says, "So perfectly organized a structure it was hard not to attribute divinity to it."

Watch this 10-minute clip and you'll be astounded, inspired and moved to conclude with Tsiaras that it's doggone hard not to attribute divinity to it.

Pass it on, okay?

Will the Real Social Justice Party Please Stand Up?

Go figure. The Democrats are considered to be the party most concerned with social justice. Just ask any bureaucrat, union member or 20-something who watches David Letterman and they'll tell you so.

But the evidence shows that the G.O.P. has always led the way in moral activism -- as opposed to the immoral activism that marks the Democrats. For it was the Democrat Party that defended slavery, Jim Crow, the Ku Klux Klan, and segregation. And it's the Democrat Party of today that aggressively promotes abortion, euthanasia, the generational slavery to the welfare state, homosexual marriage, crudity in the public square, the marginalization of religious rights, experimentation on human embryos, coercive distribution of wealth, and so on.

So think again about which political party really represents the cause of social justice. And, this time around, get the facts straight.

Here's a start -- Robert P. George's remarks a month ago when accepting the Alliance Defense Fund’s Edwin Meese Award at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington, D.C. It's a brief but excellent piece.

Another Bonehead Move From Our President, Another Free Pass From the Press

If a Republican would have produced a third of the gaffes that Barack Obama has committed, he would have been howled out of the White House by now. But since Obama, no matter how incompetent he's proven himself, remains a liberal's liberal, he gets the pampering protection of the media -- as in this case in which a particularly egregious error (one that's part of a pattern, no less) is all but ignored by reporters, newscasters and late night talk show hosts.

But not by Great Britain's Nile Gardiner over at the Heritage Foundation. Check it out.

It is gratifying to see President Barack Obama condemn the disgraceful storming of the British Embassy in Tehran by thugs acting at the behest of the Iranian regime. After all, Obama has been notoriously slow in the past to criticise the brutal actions of the Iranian government after initially extending the hand of friendship to it. But did he really need to make another embarrassing foreign policy gaffe while doing so?

In a press conference this evening, the president referred in stumbling fashion to the “English Embassy” in Iran instead of the British Embassy. One can only imagine the kind of howls of derision that would greet any presidential contender if that kind of basic error were made before, say, the editorial board of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. You can watch the video above.

In case the president is unaware, England forms part of Great Britain, which also includes Scotland and Wales, though not Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom. There is no such thing as an “English” embassy anywhere in the world, and there hasn’t been one for several centuries.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised by this latest slip-up by President Obama. After all he recently described France as America’s closest ally, and famously declared that he has traveled to no less than 57 states. But it would be nice if the leader of the free world bothered to look at a map once in a while, or even paid a visit to the British Embassy in Washington, currently housing the Churchill bust that Mr. Obama unceremoniously threw out of the Oval Office soon after his inauguration.

Obama’s latest gaffe also raises questions about his overall approach to the Special Relationship. This has been a presidency that has significantly downgraded traditional US alliances, from Britain and Israel to eastern and central Europe, while appeasing brutal enemies like Iran as well as strategic adversaries such as Russia. All too often, Washington’s allies have been taken for granted, and even undermined...

Read the rest of Gardiner's fine article right here.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Today's Posts

A Review: The Napoleons Autumn Getaway

Uh oh. It's been brought to my attention that I forgot to upload a post about the autumn retreat of the Notting Hill Napoleons (our literary society of 20 years standing). And even though it's old news now (our getaway was two weeks ago), I suppose that a description of the event still has value for those of you who asked for it --as well as those of you who are interested in literature, book clubs, Christian fellowship and excuses for getting out of town. So here goes...

This year's autumn getaway was an exceptional success. Claire and I had quite a bit to do on Friday (including an afternoon presentation of "When Swing Was King") and so we didn't make it down to Nebraska City until around 5. Having already arrived were Ruth Denzler and Quint and Carol Coppi. Within an hour or so, the rest of the gang made it: Karla Struble, John and Barb Malek, Chet Thomas and finally, Bill and Karin Coker.

And, of course, welcoming us all with open arms was the superb hostess of the Whispering Pines Bed & Breakfast where we spend these retreats, the gracious Jeanna Stavas. The place was already beautifully decorated for Christmas (except for the battery-operated candles which go in all the windows -- Jeanna saves that job for me) and we settled in. As always, we felt right at home immediately. We enjoyed catching up with Jeanna and learning how God is blessing her business and then we started in getting dinner ready.

You see, the way these weekend getaways work is this -- we rent out the whole house, the extra room in "the barn," and the kitchen. Jeanna provides breakfasts for us on Saturday and Sunday (and oh, what breakfasts!) but otherwise we're on our own. We fix the other meals ourselves and have the run of the place for our conversations, book discussions, games, watching a bit of football, lounging around, napping, whatever. It's terrific. And a more lovely, comfortable bed and breakfast you won't find. So, take this endorsement from the whole group of Notting Hill Napoleons, Whispering Pines (less than an hour away from either Lincoln or Omaha) is a great place for such diversions.

After a delightful dinner of wild rice soup, sausage/zucchini soup, bread, cheese, crackers, veggies, and a couple of luscious desserts, we got down to the most difficult part of the weekend; namely, deciding which books to read for the coming year. This has never been an easy task because, close Christian friends and colleagues in ministry that we are, we are still 11 individuals who tend to have wildly different views on what constitutes worthwhile literature!

What makes it even tougher every year is that we have already gone through so many of the classic titles already. Claire and I would like to remedy that by simply including a generous amount of re-reads but, alas, that's a minority view. And so we have had to scramble in recent years to come up with our reading list.

(How did we do? You can read here the detailed list of recommendations that Claire and I submitted and then over here you'll find the list the group finally decided upon.)

The book selection process went well and quickly as we chose from 4 lists that were submitted. That was followed by a performance at the dinner table of Bill's annual anthem. Bill is, among other things, a published poet and songwriter and every year he composes a very clever, humorous song using the titles of the books read that year and the names of club members. This year was one of his best. After that, we broke up into individual conversations for the rest of Friday night, several heading to bed a bit early in order to get well deserved rest...and to finish reading the Dickens novel due for discussion the following afternoon!

A precious tradition for me every Saturday morning of these autumn retreats is getting up early and enjoying an hour or so of coffee and prayer with Quint before everyone else gets up. We had a very sweet time together and, like usual, the first two who joined us were Karla and Ruth. By the time Jeanna served us a delicious breakfast, everyone was up and eager for the day.

While some finished reading, others took off for walks or to do a bit of thrift shop shopping downtown. I found a couple of used books at one store I frequent every year and a 4-CD Christmas music collection ($9.99) at a new Christian store on the main drag. I got to talking to the fellow who is trying to make a go of this new venture. He was an over-the-road trucker for 20 years previously so it's going to be a stretch for him. And, of course, a retail business, especially in a little town, is a risky proposition. So, if you're looking for a small business to support in the area, consider Revelations in Nebraska city.

Lunch was enjoyed early in the afternoon and then we settled in for our discussion of Charles Dicken's Pickwick Papers. The book and the nearly 3-hour discussion we had over it were both superb. (My thoughts on Pickwick will come in a later Book Den column.) The rest of the night included wonderful conversations, a fabulous dinner with delicious dishes prepared by each club member, a hilarious experience in playing charades and spoons, more conversations and a restful night. (Well, restful unless you had to stay up till the wee hours in finishing your preparations for a Sunday School class and sermon!)

Because several of us had to leave early, Jeanna served breakfast at 7:30. And the stuffed French toast was well worth getting up for! As we drove to church, Claire and I were thanking God for another delightful getaway with Jeanna, Dickens and our Notting Hill Napoleon friends. We shouldn't have to do this only once a year!

Of Reading Lists

This weekend I went over and vacuumed out the cobwebs that have been collecting in The Book Den and posted a few items. Among them are the 2012 book recommendations that Claire and I took down to Nebraska City for our book club's annual autumn getaway AND the list the group ended up with.

Those of you who are readers might find these posts of interest.

Reagan Stories: Ed Meese Coming to Omaha

One of Ronald Reagan's closest friends and colleagues, former Attorney General of the United States, Ed Meese, is coming to Nebraska to celebrate Reagan's 100th birthday. He will be telling Reagan stories (and that always means, fascinating information, inspiration, and laughs) as well as sharing his support for Don Stenberg's run for the Republican nomination to the Senate. And for both of these reasons, Claire and I will be in attendance.

Wanna' join us?

The date is Thursday, December 8th and the setting is the Omaha Regency Marriott. It is a fund-raiser so the tickets to the event are a bit pricey ($100) but Claire and I are making it our Christmas gift to each other. And it is, after all, money spent in a very good cause; namely, replacing Ben Nelson with a lifelong, skilled and principled conservative leader, former Nebraska Attorney General Don Stenberg.

C'mon...Reagan, Meese and Stenberg? You can't go wrong.

You can get more info and purchase tickets right here.

Purposeful De-Construction: Planned Parenthood's Jaffe Memo

Have you ever heard of the Jaffe Memo? It's a memorandum sent in 1969 by Frederick S. Jaffe (then a Planned Parenthood vice-president) to the president of the Population Council. It's a quite disturbing document, revealing as it does that the social decadence occurring in recent decades did not "just happen" by sad accident. Indeed, there have been forces (like Planned Parenthood) purposefully and actively at work breaking down America's moral, economic and social traditions.

Think I'm sounding like a nutty conspiracy theorist? Then take a look at the actual document yourself.

Under the heading of "Examples of Proposed Measures to Reduce U.S. Fertility, by Universality or Selectivity of Impact," Jaffe outlines the following -- and I quote:

* Restructure family:
a) Postpone or avoid marriage
b) Alter image of ideal family size
* Compulsory education of children
* Encourage increased homosexuality
* Educate for family limitation
* Fertility control agents in water supply
* Encourage women to work

* Modify tax policies:
a) Substantial marriage tax
b) Child Tax
c) Tax married more than single
d) Remove parents tax exemption
d) Additional taxes on parents with more than 1 or 2 children in school
* Reduce/eliminate paid maternity leave or benefits
* Reduce/eliminate children's or family allowances
* Bonuses for delayed marriage and greater child-spacing
* Pensions for women of 45 with less than "N" children
* Eliminate Welfare payemnts after first 2 children

 -- Chronic Depression
* Require women to work and provide few child care facilities
* Limit/eliminate public-financed medical care, scholarships, housing, loans and subsidies to families with more than "N" children.

* Compulsory abortion of out-of-wedlock pregnancies
* Compulsory sterilization of all who have two children except for a few who would be allowed three
* Confine childbearing to only a limited number of adults
* Stock certificate type permits for children

* Housing Policies:
a) Discouragement of private home ownership
b) Stop awarding public housing based on family size
* Payments to encourage sterilization
* Payments to encourage contraception
* Payments to encourage abortion
* Abortion and sterilization on demand
* Allow certain contraceptives to be distributed nonmedically
* Improve contraceptive technology
* Make contraception truly available and accessible to all
* Improve maternal health care, with family planning a core element

The American public in 1969 would have considered nearly all of these things not only tyrannical but wildly immoral as well. And so naturally Planned Parenthood was scared of it coming to public notice. But they're not so worried anymore. After all, by skillfully using academia, the press, the courts and the Democrat Party, many of these coercive and culturally destructive policies have become part of American life.

And that's a tragedy that is America's lasting shame.

Dear Santa, Please Bring Me Light Bulbs!

Within four weeks, it will be a crime to manufacture a 100-watt version of Thomas A. Edison’s brilliant invention. Thanks to a Democratic Congress and the signature of President George W. Bush in 2007, anti-industrial zealots at the Energy Department received authority to blot out one of the greatest achievements of the industrial age. They’re coming for our light bulbs...

Read this Washington Times editorial and you may well decide to stock your family's Christmas stockings with those warm, efficient and nontoxic light bulbs that are going to be illegal come January 1.

And don't miss these previous Vital Signs Blog posts linked to the same matter:

The Lights of Freedom Are Getting Dim

About Those Toxic Mercury Bulbs: Will Nanny State Politicians See the Light?

Nanny State Light Bulbs -- It's a More Important Issue Than You Think

Among the Costs of Going Green -- Unemployment

Incommunicado: Deaf Man Jailed for 25 Days Without Access to Sign Interpreter

When government tries to do everything, they end up doing a lousy job of the most basic things.

Case in point?

Adams County (Colorado) police arrested and held in jail a deaf man for 25 days without ever giving him the right to a sign language interpreter. The fellow had no idea what had happened to him. His rights were never explained. He didn't know what was going to happen to him. He was given no legal representation. Good grief, he had no one to communicate with about anything!

And, oh yes; he was being held on a charge that was eventually dropped.

Here's the story.

Occupy Lincoln Shows Cowardice (And Bias) of City Officials

Who cares that the lingering presence of the Occupy Wall Street/Occupy Main Street protesters demonstrates 1) an incoherent message, 2) a public nuisance, and 3) a spirit of defiant lawlessness? And who cares that acquiescence to their anti-social shenanigans demonstrates an outrageous double standard?

Not police, city officials or the mainstream media.

It's an incredible display of cowardice, hypocrisy and injustice.

Julie Schmit-Albin, Director of Nebraska Right to Life, sees through the pettifogging inaction of the powers that be towards the OWS exhibition in Lincoln, Nebraska. Said Julie at a recent City Council meeting, "I dare say if a group of pro-lifers last January just decided to pitch tents on Centennial Mall that would not have lasted very long."

Indeed. We all know how that would end.

Back in October, the blog Grassroots in Nebraska investigated the gross negligence of police and city officials regarding their refusal to enforce the laws being broken by the Occupy Lincoln move-in. The result was this very detailed (and doggone alarming) report.

Though the OWS protests have generally been of a sophomoric character thus far, they nevertheless show that the forces of anarchy have been unleashed -- and with nary a whimper from city councils, news editors or the cops on the beat.

It may not be goodnight in America just yet. But you can sure see it from here.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Today's Posts

It's a Big Thing to Spend Small

Yesterday I urged my Facebook friends to be sure and save a bit of their Black Friday shopping dollars to spend instead with small businesses on Saturday, November 26. That's tomorrow and that's National Small Business Saturday. I believe that supporting our friends and neighbors who are involved in small business is extremely important to our economy and yes, to our way of life. So I was pleased to encourage my friends to truly do something shopping small!

Well, one of those friends sent over the question, "Any suggestions, Denny?"


But please don't think I'm suggesting that you just go spend money for spending's sake. We're not into that. When it comes to money matters, tithing, sharing and saving should always be priorities for Christians.

But when you do purchase goods and services, do it right. For instance, Claire and I avoid commerce with companies that are into bad stuff. Whenever there are alternatives, we avoid goods made in Communist China and other countries that grossly disrespect human rights. And we like to support fair trade, local merchants and family-oriented businesses.

So who might I suggest as Christmas shopping possibilities for National Small Business Saturday? Well, don't forget that a lot of national companies have locally-owned franchises and affiliates. Those make excellent choices. But you might also consider gift certificates from barbers and hairdressers, restaurants (Dolce, Cascio's and Lithuanian Cafe are our favorites), thrift stores and used bookstores, bakeries (Gerda's and Garden Cafe come to mind), a nursery or flower shop, LaRue Coffee, butchers (could you do better than Stoysich?) or any one of the hundreds of stores and services listed in the Small Business Directory at the Omaha Chamber of Commerce.

So, how about it? Maybe we'll see you out tomorrow during National Small Business Day.

Another Reagan Monument In A Former Communist Country

The mainstream media isn't reporting on this interesting event (with two exceptions that I saw in my search -- and both of them were brief and condescending), but I figured you'd want to know that Georgia's pro-Western president, Mikhail Saakashvili, recently unveiled a monument to Ronald Reagan in the capital of the ex-Soviet state.

In his remarks at the event, Saakashvili drew a distinction between the love of liberty that Georgian leaders possess versus their stronger, totalitarian enemy to the north, Russia. In fact, the Georgian president emphasized Reagan's courage and principle in "destroying the Soviet empire" as a major reason for the monument.

This statue, a charming one depicting a smiling Ronald Reagan sitting on a park bench, is being warmly welcomed by the people of Tbilisi. And that's not uncommon in much of eastern Europe's former communist bloc countries where several monuments have been erected in Ronald Reagan's honor.

Unqualified: Obama's Judges Getting No Respect

Barack Obama's judge nominees considered unqualified by even the liberal American Bar Association? And revelations of how the Obama administration is pushing diversity and "life experiences" over an authentic record of judicial excellence? Indeed, revelations too of how Team Obama is using behind-the-scenes pressure on the supposedly independent ABA to get better ratings for their nominees?

Here's a story that the folks at the White House certainly didn't want to see come to light. And especially in the New York Times.

The American Bar Association has secretly declared a significant number of President Obama’s potential judicial nominees “not qualified,” slowing White House efforts to fill vacant judgeships — and nearly all of the prospects given poor ratings were women or members of a minority group, according to interviews...

The number of Obama prospects deemed “not qualified” already exceeds the total number opposed by the group during the eight-year administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush; the rejection rate is more than three and a half times as high as it was under either of the previous two presidencies, documents and interviews show...

Administration officials are perplexed about the reasons for some of the low ratings, and in discussions with bar panel leaders, they have expressed growing frustrations, people familiar with those conversations said. In particular, they have questioned whether the panelists — many of whom are litigators — place too much value on courtroom experience at the expense of lawyers who pursued career paths less likely to involve trials, like government lawyers and law professors.

Mr. Obama has made it a policy goal to diversify the bench in terms of race, gender and life experiences...

The bar association is also said to have deemed at least two other potential minority or female judicial nominees “not qualified,” but upgraded them to “qualified” after the White House asked it to take a second look...

To protect the confidentiality of people interviewed about the candidate, the committee often identifies only general categories of concern. According to a person familiar with the ratings, in discussions with the administration, the panel cited concerns about experience for six of the 14 candidates found “not qualified.” It also cited concerns over temperament for five, competence for three and ethics for three...

Officials of Mr. Obama’s legal team have met several times with the chairman of the bar association panel over the last year to raise concerns over the number of negative ratings, and have raised the possibility that the panel’s emphasis on trial experience may have a disparate impact on female and minority lawyers because they may have been less likely to become litigators...

The committee has been more likely to deliver a harsh verdict about Mr. Obama’s prospects than it was during either the Clinton or Bush administrations. It has rejected about 7.5 percent of his prospects, compared with about 2 percent of the potential judges under each of the two previous presidents...

EU: Democracy? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Democracy?

Representative, democratic government? National sovereignty? Individual liberty? What quaint old-fashioned notions.

Here's your morning wake up call from the European Union. Yes, that same European Union that Barack Obama so admires and wants to make a model for the United States.

The European Union demanded Wednesday sweeping powers to override national budgets and proposed issuing joint eurozone bonds to help resolve and prevent a repeat of the debt crisis.

"Without stronger governance, it will be difficult if not impossible to sustain the common currency," EU Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso said of his latest legislative proposals. The head of the executive EU arm, Barroso presented radical plans that would allow him and Economy Commissioner Olli Rehn to decide to intervene in national policymaking.

Barroso argued that to complement democracy at the level of national parliaments, for instance in the setting of annual budgets, a "democracy of the EU" also had to be given its say...

On Thanksgiving, Obama Gives No Thanks to God?

The Thanksgiving radio address the U.S. President gives to the public had an unusual twist this year -- there was absolutely no religious reference in it. For a holiday specifically born of Christianity and carrying centuries of religious significance in its wake, Barack Obama's omission of God in the Thanksgiving message was yet another signal of just how boldly secularist is his vision of America.

Was it a political gaffe? Of course. It is, after all, an election year and the President is suffering terribly in the polls. So he certainly doesn't need another reason for Americans to be disappointed (let alone, offended) with him. Nor does he need more criticism about his lack of historical understanding, his insensitivity to practicing Christians, or his political naivete. For even though the mainstream media is trying desperately to spin this story to the detriment of conservatives (How dare we express indignation over Obama's irreligious speech?), the fact remains that the President needlessly drew negative attention to himself by this strange omission.

But was it only a political gaffe? I think not. For throughout his presidency, Barack Obama has been quite deliberate, even arrogantly so, in his denigration of America's religious history. He has shown similar boldness in his revisions of Christianity, the Bible, the teachings and history of Islam, the Constitution, the scientific realities of embryology, and so on.

No, indeed. This President may be a bungler. He may be lazy and easily distracted. He may be over his head and without a clue when it comes to the business of running the United States. But regardless of polls, politics or economics, Barack Obama does have a set of core beliefs that he religiously (pun intended) sticks to. That's why he is willing to shut down the government to keep taxpayer money going to Planned Parenthood. That's why he ignores the Constitution and the clearly proscribed duties of the Presidency in refusing to defend the Defense of Marriage Act. That's why he continues to lie, threaten, and manipulate the machinery of government in order to force unpopular and unbearably expensive wealth distribution schemes on the American public.

And that's why he dares to prepare a Thanksgiving address that refuses to acknowledge God or even the religious foundations of the holiday.

This guy is incompetent; after three terrible years, there's no doubt about that. But Barack Obama remains a man with a plan and he is as dedicated to it as the day he walked into the White House. That plan, ladies and gentlemen, is nothing less than the extreme makeover of America into a dramatically post-Christian Nanny State.

I'm not willing to let that happen without a principled, spirited fight. How about you?

Thanks be to God -- that's the answer I was hoping for. Let's get after it!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Instead of blogging this morning, I'm finishing up a batch of my Corn Bread & Sausage Dressing (with varied color bell peppers, mushrooms, celery, onions and a bit of garlic) to take down to Lincoln for the traditional Aylward Thanksgiving dinner. While I'm at that, Claire is getting the ingredients together to make a tossed salad when we're down there. She'll mix the dressing there too using a raspberry vinaigrette with the Eureka Lemon olive oil from Devo. Superb!

On the way to Lincoln, we will be reviewing 2011 and using that conversation as a basis for our Thanksgiving Day prayers. It's been an extremely busy and productive year for Vital Signs Ministries but there has been a great deal of sorrow too with the lingering illness of my Mom and then her death in June. It's a year we won't forget certainly.

Dinner will be at Tim & Gaylene's (Tim is Claire's slightly older brother) and they always prove wonderful hosts. Gaylene is baking the turkey and getting help from her daughter, Claire, in making the pies. Other dishes will be provided from other members of the family who still live in Lincoln: brother Casey, brother Kevin and his wife Theresa, and sister Denise and husband Dallas. Also around the tables will be several from the 2nd generation of the family. Altogether, there will probably be around 20 so it will be a grand time.

This evening I have a little work to do in updating the Christmas version of "When Swing Was King" and we will probably try to fit in a few more pieces to this year's second Christmas jigsaw puzzle. But eventually Claire and I will settle in with some hot tea to observe a longstanding tradition of our own; namely, watching the original version of "Miracle on 34th Street."

We hope your holiday is every bit as enriching and fun. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Today's Posts

The DMV Office: Driver's License, Auto Registration and...HIV Tests?

I suppose you could say it's a horrid sign of horrid times but in Washington, D. C. they've begun providing HIV testing at the Department of Motor Vehicles office. Hey, you folks are waiting anyway, right? Why not get your STD test right here where it's so convenient?

In fact, city officials have taken it a step further and are now offering HIV testing at a government office where Washington residents register for food stamps, Medicaid and other welfare benefits. Hey, you can even get a 5-dollar gift card for having the test and 7 dollars off your DMV costs.

By now, the four people who run the program at the DMV office have their pitch for testing down. When people are on line, one of the testers approaches with the offer: free tests, money off your bill, and the promise that it won’t hurt. “We don’t do blood. We do swabs,” tester Karen Johnson tells patrons, explaining that the test of their saliva takes 20 minutes and that participants will not lose their place in the DMV line.

Catholic Church Invites Homosexual Priest to Address Advent Service

Most Holy Redeemer Church, San Francisco’s notoriously ‘gay-friendly’ parish, has invited a retired Episcopalian bishop who left his wife and family to ‘marry’ a man as guest speaker at a Nov. 30 Advent Vespers Service.

The invited guest is Episcopal Bishop Otis Charles
[pictured here on the left at his homosexual "marriage" ceremony at an Episcopal church] who in 2005 provided a biographical statement to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, & Transgender Religious Archives Network, which said in part: “Since 1979 he has been among a growing number of bishops who have spoken out for full and complete inclusion of gay and lesbian people in the church without restriction, recognizing their calling to ministry and rejecting the notion that a baptized homosexual must live a celibate life. Whether in an informal gathering or the pulpit, he characteristically begins, ‘I am a gay man, an Episcopal (Anglican) bishop, a queer who only just mustered the courage to publicly acknowledge the truth of my life.’"

Not included in the statement is that Charles divorced his wife of 42 years, and has five children. It also does not include the fact that, on April 24, 2004, he “married” a man named Felipe Sanchez Paris in a ceremony at St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco...

Pro-homosexuality Vespers speakers are not unusual at Most Holy Redeemer....

So, tell me, just how apostate and blasphemous does a church have to get before the bishops (or for that matter, the Vatican) take corrective action?

The New Symbol of the EPA: Wind Farm Graveyards

Here's a brief (but infuriating) story from EPA Abuse that you'll definitely want to pass Ron Rizzo did to me. Thanks, Ron.

According to recent estimates, there are currently 14,000 abandoned wind farms dotting the landscape in the U.S.

Hawaii, for example, has 37 abandoned wind turbines at one site and there are five other abandoned wind sites in the Hawaiian Islands.

In California, there are thousands of such abandoned sites, including Altamont Pass, Techachapin and San Gorgonio — all considered perfect spots for wind turbines.

So, what happened? Well, first off, birds get killed by these huge machines and the PETA crowd goes insane. The Altamont site, for example, is shut down four months out of the year to protect migrating birds. Second, when government subsidies stop, the projects die. Third, wind power has proven to be unreliable as a consistent source of power. There’s either too little wind, too much wind, or it’s too cold to operate them.

In Britain, the energy industry admitted as long ago as 2008 that wind turbines are idle up to 30% of the time because of the unreliability of the wind. A report from the British Renewable Energy Foundation at the time describes the economically disastrous wind turbine industry.

It is unlikely that the Obama Administration will let facts get in the way of their war against fossil fuels and their love affair with solar and wind power. Expect more taxpayer dollars to be flushed down the rathole of solar and wind boondoggles. Expect to see more abandoned wind farms in the future — as long as Obama remains in office and the EPA is run by the climate alarmist zealot Lisa Jackson.

The Greed, Coercion and Injustice of Scientology

 And that's not mentioning the goofiness of it's irreligious doctrine. 

Today's Church of Scientology is an insatiable machine that aggressively separates parishioners from their money, according to dozens of former church insiders speaking out for the first time.

Scientology rings up astonishing sums: $100 million a year just from services sold in Clearwater, a minimum of $250 million since 2006 for the International Association of Scientologists, tens of millions for new church buildings called Ideal Orgs, and untold millions more from selling new volumes of church scripture.

Then there's the massive and long-delayed Super Power building in downtown Clearwater, which the church has used as a magnet for at least $145 million in donations...

Kudos to the St. Petersburg Times for it's intensive and ongoing investigation of this loopy, greedy and most unscientific religious cult. For more, check out this story. And then here are a couple of Vital Signs Blog posts you may want to examine as well: Troubled Thetans, Indeed: Scientology Can't Stand Scrutiny and Tom Cruise: Scientologist Superman. Don't Miss His Video Message to the World...

15 Permits Not Enough: Government Confiscates Tuna

You've heard, of course, about the big fish that got away. But what could be more modern a version of this tale than the big fish that was taken away -- by the government.

Yes, here's yet another example of the Nanny State using persnickety, peripheral and pettifogging rules to interfere in its citizens' lives. Here's the details from Yahoo News.

A Massachusetts fisherman pulled in an 881-pound tuna this week only to have the federal authorities take it away. It sounds like a libertarian twist on the classic novella by Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea, but for Carlos Rafael, the saga is completely true.

Rafael and his crew were using nets to catch bottom-dwellers when they inadvertently snagged the giant tuna. However, federal fishery enforcement agents took control of the behemoth when the boat returned to port. The reason for the seizure was procedural: While Rafael had the appropriate permits, fishermen are only allowed to catch tuna with a rod and reel...

And while Rafael is denied the mother of all fish stories, the federal impoundment of his catch also means he's probably losing out on a giant payday. A 754-pound tuna recently sold for nearly $396,000...

"They said it had to be caught with rod and reel," a frustrated Rafael said. "We didn't try to hide anything. We did everything by the book. Nobody ever told me we couldn't catch it with a net."

Rafael says he has meticulously prepared for a giant catch like this, purchasing 15 tuna permits over the past four years for his groundfish boats. He even immediately called a "bluefin tuna hot line" (yes, such things exist) to report his catch. "I wanted to sell the fish while it was fresh instead of letting it age on the boat," he said. "It was a beautiful fish."

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Today's Posts

Will the Real Che Guevara Please Stand Up? (Take Two)

On this date back in 2006, I posted a letter that was sent to Cuban-American Pundits (a blog which emphasizes the cause of liberty for Cuba) as well as a link to the reply. It's a post well worth repeating.

Dear Cuban-American,

The viewing of films such as "The Motorcycle Diaries" and Andy Garcia's "The Lost City, has sparked a renewed interest in Cuba, the revolution and the Cuban people.

My question is; how do Cuban-Americans today, view Che Guevara, his revolutionary deeds and his present-day cult following. It appears that the La Raza crowd in the U.S. has embraced Guevara as their hero, as evidenced by the placards with his image carried by the protesting illegal immigrants and their supporters this last Spring. Do you think these folks are just ignorant of Guevara'a exploits or is it me and my lack of understanding the man. As a Cuban-American, how do you view this Che Guevara adoration.

So, if in fact, Guevara is the only hero these activists can come up with, what say you?


Interested in the answer? You should be -- it's a good one. So, for those of you more interested in historical reality than you are muddle-headed slogans and T-shirt portraits, check out the real Che Guevara right here.

From Australia, Thanksgiving Memories

From 2009 comes a special Thanksgiving greeting all the way from Australia. It comes via the editor of Mercator Net, Michael Cook

Happy Thanksgiving to all of our American readers. Having grown up in the US, I remember Thanksgiving as the premiere holiday, with the possible exception of Christmas. Outside, the skies were grey, the trees stripped bare, the stony fields frozen and dusted with snow. Inside, there was the warmth of a wood stove, steamed-up windows, a hubbub of relatives. At Christmas there were presents but at Thanksgiving there was food, food in cornucopian abundance to be shovelled down with Gargantuan gusto.

Somehow I recall nuts as the starting gun of this labour of boyish gluttony: peanuts, walnuts, brazil nuts, almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, all cracked and crunched underfoot. Then, getting down to business, the turkey, its skin crisp and glistening, its flesh carved into drumsticks, dark meat and white meat, its innards quarried for stuffing. I always hung out for the succulent tail, tastier but inexplicably ignored and exempt from exhortations to “share!”. Then, not as significant, but not to be ignored, baked potatoes smothered in high-cholesterol sour cream, sweet potatoes with butter, boiled onions with butter, corn with butter and salt, candied carrots with butter, broccoli with butter. All dribbled with dark, delicious, greasy gravy and garnished with cranberry sauce. You had to pace yourself, so it was best to ignore the salads and coleslaw was awful at the best of times. The fourth Thursday in November was a great choice for Thanksgiving, I used to think. It was cold and you could fit more in.

After a while, it was time to move on to the pies and ice cream. There were about three per aunt -- apple, blueberry, chess, cherry, pumpkin, and mince. Americans like pies. Hilaire Belloc (I quote from memory), surfeited with pies, asked for mercy and found none. “They stare at you in mild surprise, And serve you other kinds of pies.” That's about right.

But the best part, really, was the warmth of a home, the comfort of family, the feeling that you were surrounded by people who cared. It was something to be thankful for. I'm sure that's why Dawkins, Hitchens & Co will never succeed in America. With No One to be thankful to, you'd have to abolish Thanksgiving Day.

Points to Ponder From Today's News

* "There is no margin for a mediocre government now - time is up."  That's the opinion of a young Spaniard who was part of the huge victory for the Conservative Party in Spain. The Socialists were blamed for the country's economic woes and, also by many, for their extremism in trying to remove all moral constraints from Spanish culture.

* Massachusetts Democrat Senator John Kerry and his wife Teresa Heinz’s stock portfolios that show almost perfectly timed pharmaceutical stock trades during the Obamacare debate, which fattened their already enormous personal fortune. The documents further support allegations of suspicious trading leveled during Sunday’s 60 Minutes report about the explosive new book by investigative reporter and Breitbart News editor Peter Schweizer, Throw Them All Out...

* President Barack Obama prides himself on being a clutch player, but he sat happily on the end of the bench as the clock ran out on the supercommittee. Then he took his shot after the buzzer. Obama — burned by the failed deficit-reduction talks with Republicans during the summer debt-ceiling fight — believes that being accused of disengagement is preferable to being lumped with the in-fighting lawmakers who fumbled a chance to reach an agreement by the Monday deadline...

* Some people seem surprised that the "Super Committee" has failed to achieve its goal, but it should not come as a shock. The Republicans are committed to not raising taxes, which the president certainly knows, and the Democrats are not committed to reducing out of control entitlements. It was quite predictable that an agreement would not be reached, which is why candidate Gingrich called the panel the silliest thing he has ever heard of.

President Obama's goal from the start was for the committee to fail, this way he can rail against Congress in the upcoming Presidential election. Hopefully at some point Congress and the people will begin to hold the President's feet to the fire and tell him that he is our leader, Commander in Chief, and not the Cheerleader in Chief...(Armstrong Williams)

* Here's yet another disturbing factoid for Democrats. “As CafePress saw four years ago (and four years before that), the T-shirt economy has a history of predicting presidential winners,” said the company's Director of Marketing last April. “In 2008, Obama was a consistent fan favorite on CafePress, surpassing sales of McCain t-shirts and gifts by more than 30% in the weeks leading up to the election.” But that was then. Nowadays, the company's anti-Obama merchandise is selling more than its offered pro-Obama merchandise -- like 79% to 21%.

Texas Drought Uncovers Hidden History

In Texas and Oklahoma, a year long drought has dried up lakes and exposed ancient artifacts, fossils, graves and even a town that have been hidden under water for, well, who knows how long. And these new finds have exposed something quite ugly too; namely, the greed of looters wanting to cash. More than two dozen have been arrested at one site.

Here's more.

Nowadays, Chris Matthews Leg Isn't Tingling So Much

It seems that Chris Matthews' "tingling leg" adoration of Barack Obama continues to fade. And it isn't because Obama is too liberal, it's only because he's disengaged, lazy and woefully inefficient.

Here's a 90-second clip in which Matthews is so ticked off that he can't stop talking about the President's lousy performance. Indeed, he won't let the hostess of the MSNBC program he's on (Alex Witt) get a word in edgewise. And remember, this particular program is on a cable channel which has practically served as a voice for Obama and the Democratic National Committee.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Today's Posts

And Now Nebraska City

Our noble literary society, the Notting Hill Napoleons, is about to conclude our 20th year of reading classic literature together. That's some achievement, huh?

It has been a grand fellowship -- stimulating, empowering and fun. And one of the ways we celebrate our book club is spending part of a weekend at the Whispering Pines Bed and Breakfast down in Nebraska City. It's a time when we discuss our Charles Dickens book of the year, decide upon next year's reading list, have delicious meals together, wonderful conversation, prayers, walks and other adventures. It's too short a time really -- we get down there Friday night and have to leave early on Sunday to get back to our respective church services -- but it still is an important milestone in our year.

And to get ready for the weekend means, among other things, that we get the book read! This year that means Pickwick Papers, a full 800 plus pages and that has helped provide a lot of drama for our schedule this past week. But things are looking up. This will be the last blog post for the week and most everything else on our to-do list has been covered. The only things left to do are sending out the Vital Signs Blog "Top Ten" e-mailing, shopping for the weekend, finishing the book, writing a couple of letters, sending over the material for the monthly pastor's portion of the church newsletter and presenting another "When Swing Was King" at Via Christe nursing home. That will make our fourth presentation this week!

But right from that program, we'll be on our way. Whispering Pines, here we come.

P.S. If you'd like to read through our recommendations for this year's reading, just check out the post below this one.

Denny & Claire's Annual NHN Reading List

In the above post I describe the Friday evening/Saturday retreat held each year by the Notting Hill Napoleons, a literary society that's been together for 20 years. Well, each November we go through an intriguing process to decide on the reading list for the coming year. And that process starts with reading recommendation lists presented to the group for consideration.

Here's ours.

Denny’s & Claire’s NHN Reading Suggestions for 2012

1) The African Queen by C. S. Forester -- You know the basic story here and, of course, you'll not be able to read it without picturing Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn in the protagonist roles. Nevertheless, the reviews rate this 1935 novel from the author of The Good Shepherd and the popular Horatio Hornblower series very high.  256 pages.  (Used starting at $.01 at Amazon. $3 Kindle. 3 copies in Omaha Public Library - OPL.)

2) The Seventh Cross by Anna Seghers -- This is a deeply moving novel about the escape of a young Communist from a Nazi concentration camp. Denny read it earlier this year and it provided him with one of the most thoughtful reading experiences he's had this year. It is a thrilling book but also one that illuminates several issues of the human spirit.  344 pages.  (Used starting at $0.99 at

3) Twenty Years After by Alexandre Dumas -- Two decades have passed since the famous swordsmen triumphed over Cardinal Richelieu and M’lady in The Three Musketeers. Time has weakened their bodies a bit and dispersed them to pursue individual ends. But treason and skullduggery still cry out for justice. So when civil war endangers the throne of France and Cromwell threatens to send Charles I to the scaffold, the immortal quartet comes out of retirement to cross swords once again with the malevolent forces of history...and time itself.  (880 pages. New: $10.85. Used from $0.48 at Amazon.  Free Kindle edition.  4 copies in OPL.)

4) The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens.(Re-reading this one is already scheduled.)

5) All the King’s Men by Robert Penn Warren -- A great read for an election year, this landmark novel is a loosely fictionalized account of Governor Huey Long of Louisiana, one of the most remarkable and controversial politicians in American history. The novel tells the story of Willie Stark, a popular but underhanded governor of a Southern state who effectively appeals to the common man while playing dirty politics with the best of the back-room deal-makers. However, his key assistant cannot shed his idealism so easily and the stormy relationship between the two form much of the novel’s tension. (456 pages. New $5.  Used copies starting at $.01 at Amazon. 7 copies in OPL system.)

6) No Name by Wilkie Collins -- This is Wilkie Collins at the height of his literary powers. It is the story of two sisters, Magdalen and Norah, who discover after the deaths of their dearly beloved parents that, alas, they were not legally married at the time of the girls’ births. Ousted from their estate and disinherited, Magdalen and Norah must fend for themselves. Will they surrender to their fate or recover their wealth by whatever means available? 784 pages. (New from $10.25. Used from $.02 at Amazon. Free Kindle edition. 1 copy in OPL.)

7) That Printer of Udell’s by Harold Bell Wright -- It would be hard to write a better recommendation for this book than the one written by President Ronald Reagan: “I found a role model in that traveling printer whom Harold Bell Wright had brought to life. He set me on a course I’ve tried to follow even unto this day. I shall always be grateful.” Certainly we could all benefit from reading this warm-hearted novel that emphasizes that a strong belief in God forms the basis for a fulfilling life, no matter what a person’s past might hold.  One other thing -- this would be a perfect book to read at a Notting Hill Napoleon getaway in Branson, Wright's old stomping grounds! (346 pages. New: $5.95. Used from $2.  Free Kindle edition.)

8) The Final Storm by Jeff Shaara  -- The Napoleons have come to love these historical novels and this is the one which completes the WWII trilogy we’ve started. 480 pages.  (Used from $5.81 at Amazon and multiple copies in OPL)

9) Anna and the King of Siam by Margaret Landon -- How this story came to be known throughout the world is almost as romantic as the story itself. While serving as a missionary in Thailand, the author discovered a very rare copy of Anna Leonowens' The English Governess at the Siamese Court. Years later, she came across Leonowens' Romance of the Harem in a second-hand bookstore in Chicago. She paid $1 for the book.  She eventually combined basic elements of both books with events and characters from her own imagination to create Anna and the King of Siam. It was a big hit. And the exotic setting and romantic story so impressed the wives of Rogers and Hammerstein that they convinced their husbands to write what would become one of the most beloved musicals of all time. 416 pages. (Used from $1.  2 copies in OPL.)

10) November 1916 by Alexander Solzhenitsyn -- With August 1914, Solzhenitsyn began his epic of the Russian Revolution, the finished version of which (The Red Wheel) he hoped to leave as his greatest and most important work. This is historical fiction at its very best. (1000 pages. New $20.00.  Used copies available. 3 copies in OPL)

11) The Legend of Montrose by Sir Walter Scott -- The Earl of Montrose leads an army of Highland "gillies" and their clan leaders through various adventures in Perthshire, Argyle and further north. The central character here is Dugald Dalgetty, a verbose and opinionated ex-mercenary who falls in with Montrose's army and plays a leading role in the campaign. We also meet the Earl of Menteith and follow the history of his love for Annot Lyle, an orphan who has been befriended and is also loved by the younger brother of the Highland chieftain Angus M'Aulay. (220 pages.  $4.27 & up at  Free Kindle edition. OPL has multiple copies)

12) The Magnificent Ambersons by Booth Tarkington -- This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel portrays the decline of the wealthy Amberson family, serving as a touching backdrop for the huge social changes America saw in the decades following the Industrial Revolution. Rather than join the modern age, George Amberson insists on remaining a "gentleman" and tries desperately to hang on to his patrician pride. But his town soon becomes a city and the family palace becomes surrounded by industry, destroying the elegant, cloistered lifestyle enjoyed by the family in years gone by. A genuine masterpiece. 276 pages.  (New $13. Used from $.01 Free Kindle edition. 2 in OPL.)

13) Time of Hope by C.P. Snow -- This is the first (in chronological action) of Snow's series of novels, "Strangers and Brothers." The 11 books in the series were written by Snow (a renowned scientific scholar as well as novelist) beteween 1940 and 1974. They concern questions of English life, academia, political and personal integrity, and more. 396 pages. (Used copies at from $1.00.  New $10.79.)

14) Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier -- "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again." Say no more. This is one of those novels which surpasses even the blockbuster movie it inspired. The author is an incomparable craftsman and in Rebecca she weaves plot, tension, setting and dialogue together into one of America’s most intense and intriguing gothic novels.  416 pages.  (Used copies starting at $.01 at Amazon.  10 copies in OPL.)

15) The Natural by Bernard Malamud – It is generally acknowledged that this, Malamud’s first book, is the best novel ever written about baseball. Published in 1952, it is quite different from the rest of his work. For whereas his later writing concentrated on modern Jewish life and themes, this novel presents the story of a superbly gifted athlete from baseball’s golden era.  231 pages. (Used from $1. 2 copies in OPL.)

16) The Bridge Over the River Kwai by Pierre Boulle – It is 1942 and the Japanese desperately need a train route going northward from Burma.  Labor is provided by POWs but a key bridge they build will become a symbol of honor to prisoner British Colonel Nicholson, a principled perfectionist.  While the Allies race to destroy the bridge, Nicholson must decide which will be destroyed, the bridge or his pride.  207 pages. (Used from $1. 1 copy in OPL.)

17) The Chequer Board by Nevil Shute -- Quint suggested this one last year. This is what he then wrote about the novel, “John Turner, a loser, learns that he will die of a head wound suffered during the war.  He accepts this but decides to do something good with the time he has remaining.  He decides to visit three men he met in a hospital ward.  They were each in trouble when he met them and now he sets out to find out how each has chosen his life and settled his problem.  As always, Shute tells a good story.”  380 pages. (Used copies starting at $0.63 at Amazon.)

18) Persuasion by Jane Austen -- Anne Elliot, heroine of Austen's last novel, let the love of her life get away. She allowed herself to be persuaded by a trusted family friend that the young man she loved wasn't an adequate match.  Now it’s seven years later; she’s still alone; and the man she never stopped loving has come back from the sea. 150 pages.  (Used copies starting at $.01 at Amazon.  Free Kindle edition.  6 copies in OPL.)

19) We suggest a re-reading of Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace. (Free Kindle edition.)

20) We suggest a re-reading of Boris Pasternak’s Dr. Zhivago.

I'll let you know the list the Napoleons come up with next week.

Keep Praying for the Persecuted Church

 I started the week's blogging with a post encouraging prayers for the persecuted church around the world and I end the week with a few other cases where our intercession is needed. In that earlier post, I also gave you a link to the International Day of Prayer website. I'm providing here a few more that I've found very helpful: International Christian Concern, Compass Direct News, Open Doors, China Aid, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, and the Voice of the Martyrs.

I know that listing several of these sites can make the issue seem overwhelming but it is extremely important that Christians intercede for one another. Therefore, let the Lord set the pace for you. Even if you select one or two of these sites to visit occasionally, the resulting prayers for the people they mention will matter greatly.

From reading through a few of these sites this morning, may I suggest a a few more specific prayer targets to go along with the cases I mentioned on Monday? Maybe you could use them in one of your prayer times this weekend.

* Prison terms of up to five years or maximum fines of nearly nine years' official minimum wage are set to be adopted by Parliament in mid-November for groups of people who produce or distribute religious literature without going through Azerbaijan's compulsory prior state censorship of all religious literature. ..Azerbaijan has repeatedly amended its laws – usually with little notice or public discussion and secrecy surrounding texts – to restrict the exercise of the right to freedom of religion or belief and other human rights.

* An increasing number of people are being fined or threatened with fines across Russia for organising or conducting meetings for religious worship which has not been specifically approved by the local authorities, Forum 18 News Service has found. Local police and prosecutor's offices insist that such permission is required, a view challenged by many legal specialists, and bring cases under Article 20.2 of the Code of Administrative Violations. Some judges and magistrates throw out such cases, but it appears that about half the prosecutions are successful...

* In the city of Bogor, Indonesia, the GKI Yasmin Church holds open-air worship on the street outside its church building, while being threatened by extremists.  They don’t do this by choice, it’s actually because the local authorities forcibly closed their church premises after pressure from extremists. 

* Leaders of the Agape Baptist Church were participating in a spiritual renewal meeting at the home of pastor Nguyen Danh Chau in Lai Tao village, Bot Xuyen commune, My Duc district, when the gang intruded at 9:30 a.m., sources said. Beating people and smashing property, the gang seriously injured more than a dozen participants and warned Nguyen Danh Chau that they would kill him if he continued gathering Christians, the sources in Vietnam said.

It's Not Just Bush's Fault Anymore. It's Yours.

Congratulations, average American! It’s your turn to be blamed for President Obama’s -- and America’s -- problems....

Being the root cause of our dire national predicament puts you in some very august company indeed. You are joining the ranks of George W. Bush, the Japanese tsunami, the Arab Spring, Wall Street fat cats, and other luminaries, both living and merely anthropomorphized...

The point of all this is pretty obvious. Obama has a long-standing habit of seeing failure to support his agenda as a failure of character. The Democratic voters of western Pennsylvania refused to vote for him, he explained, because they were “bitter.” He told black Democrats lacking sufficient enthusiasm for his reelection to “Take off your bedroom slippers. Put on your marching shoes. Shake it off. Stop complainin’. Stop grumblin’. Stop cryin’.”

And in the context of the country’s economic doldrums, Obama sees a lack of ambition, softness, laziness, etc., in anyone who doesn’t support his agenda. He has spent several years now exhorting Americans about how we have to “win the future” by doing what he says. He has told us repeatedly that this is our “Sputnik moment” when all Americans must drop their selfish, cynical, or foolish objections to his program. People who disagree aren’t putting their “country first.”

Jonah Goldberg certainly has Barack Obama's number. Read the rest of his notable National Review column right here.

Team Obama Puts Christmas Tree Tax on Ho Ho Hold

Back on November 9th, I commented here about the Obama administration tax -- which they refused to call a tax -- on Christmas trees. In that post ("Grinchiness Alert: Obama's New Christmas Tree Tax") I explained --  

The ever-clueless Obama administration has decided that Christmas trees need to improve their image. And not surprising, the Obama administration next decided that a new tax should be imposed on Christmas tree sellers to pay for a federal government program to “enhance the image of Christmas trees and the Christmas tree industry in the United States.”

One just can't believe that anyone -- even the numbskulls in this out-of-touch, greedy, Nanny State administration -- could come up with this kind of stupidity. But they do. Over and over.

Well, those numbskulls got thumped pretty hard about this particular bonehead play as even the mainstream media reported the story and made fun of the program.

Result? The administration is dropping the issue. For awhile.

Here's excerpts from the Federal Register:

On November 8, 2011, a final rule was published in the Federal Register (76 FR 69094) establishing an industry-funded promotion, research, and information program for fresh cut Christmas trees, effective November 9, 2011. Due to recent events, the regulations are stayed in order to provide all interested persons, including the Christmas tree industry and the general public, an opportunity to become more familiar with the program...

While we are confident that the Christmas Tree program is compliant with all applicable law and supported by the domestic Christmas tree industry, the program will be stayed to provide additional time for the Department to reach out to the Christmas Tree industry and the public to explain how a research and promotion program is a producer driven program to support American farmers.

Accordingly, the regulations establishing the Order published November 8, 2011 (76 FR 69094) are stayed indefinitely.

Of course, the sheer lunacy of this program makes Team Obama looked goofy as well as Grinchy. (Do Christmas trees really need an image enhancement?) Yet, even with this change in plans, the administration's arrogance remains on brazen display. After all, there's no apology here. There's not even a clear elimination of the tax. It's just on hold for a bit (like after the election). And there also remains that uncompromising Nanny State attitude that insists the public will like the new tax after we have "an opportunity to become more familiar with the program."

These guys crack me up.

"Comfortable" Sex Ethic Producing Record Rates of Disease

Saving sexual activity for marriage? That's so Victorian. Nowadays, you just need to find someone you're "comfortable" with. This is the opinion anyhow of St. Louis Health Director Pam Walker. As she told the CBS affiliate in St. Louis, “You don’t have to spend a week in a bar to find somebody you're comfortable with. People are doing it online and they’re doing it faster.”

But there's a price for this new sexual ethic. A very expensive, ugly and dangerous price. Like syphilis being up 46%, gonorrhea up 31% and other STDs following the alarming trend.

And, make no mistake, one thing that sexually transmitted diseases will not give comfort.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Today's Posts

So How Was That Anniversary Trip, Denny & Claire?

The November LifeSharer letter from Vital Signs Ministries is up on our website. It contains a review of our two-week working vacation down in Branson, Missouri -- a wonderfully refreshing trip that featured music, Christmas lights, Table Rock Lake, the gorgeous autumn colors and a whole lot more.

Including the 40th anniversary for the two kids shown here.

(Warning: I should tell you right now that reading this LifeSharer letter may well motivate you to hop on the first bus to Branson. But that's cool. Just make sure you stop by Vasken's Deli and tell 'em Denny & Claire say 'Hey.')

Should Your Tax Dollars Keep Going to Planned Parenthood? Ben Nelson Says Yes.

Dear Senator Ben Nelson,

We have asked you for many years to join in the effort to remove tax funding from Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion organization, an extremely profitable business that is now killing nearly 350,000 preborn babies every year through surgical abortion.

And many, many more through deadly chemicals.

Though you’ve long claimed to be pro-life, you have stubbornly refused to cut government funding to Planned Parenthood. What a shameful legacy to leave.

Senator Nelson, even the revelations through undercover videotapes of Planned Parenthood staffers from around the country covering up statutory rape and giving advice to sex traffickers in how to escape the law, haven't been enough to budge you from your enthusiastic support of Planned Parenthood receiving huge amounts of taxpayer money. It's really quite incredible that you continue to think you can pose as a pro-life politician given your unrelenting support for the country's #1 abortion provider.

Yes, I know what you will write me in response -- that same old form letter that uses the “separate pockets” argument that you've tried to sell so many times before. It just doesn't make sense, Senator. Any dollar given to Planned Parenthood from taxpayers frees the abortion organization from using its own dollars (and they rake in millions) any way they desire, including promoting sexual promiscuity among young teenagers and paying the salaries of abortionists.

No, Senator Nelson, Planned Parenthood should be denied even one dime of taxpayer money. And because you've defended for years this outrageous misuse of government funds, Ben Nelson should be denied another term in the U.S. Senate.

Denny Hartford
Director, Vital Signs Ministries
Teaching Pastor, Faith Bible Church
Omaha, Nebraska