Thursday, March 31, 2011

Today's Posts

"When Swing Was King" Could Use a Little Help

Hey Nebraskans! Vital Signs Ministries and our exciting new outreach to the Heartland's senior citizens could sure use your help...and in one of several ways.

1) We have created letters to promote "When Swing Was King" to area retirement centers and nursing homes where we haven't yet appeared. The program is a terrific one that has won rave reviews everywhere we've gone. Plus we offer it completely free to the facility. We have room in our schedule for just a few more and so we'd like your help to identify potential sites. Do you have a loved one in a facility where you'd like "When Swing Was King" to visit? How about one in your neighborhood? Let us know.

2) Are you a part of a church or civic group that could invite us to present a mini-version of "When Swing Was King" to help make people aware and perhaps get them involved? Please let us know.

3) Do you know of a business owner or officer to whom we could send a letter describing "When Swing Was King" -- a letter that describes the program, includes testimonials from residents and staff, and asks for a little help to keep the program going in as many places as possible? Please let us know.

With your help, we can serve more seniors in our area with "When Swing Was King," an absolutely delightful combination of original big band music, photos from the era, sprightly commentary and personal conversations. And the effort could also help the overall financial health of Vital Signs Ministries too. (And we need a little help!)

Please give us a hand. Contact us through the Vital Signs Ministries web site right here.

Walmart Discrimination Suit Threatens More Than Walmart

How absurd has the American legal system become? How far from rationality (let alone responsibility and the ideals of justice) has our society gone? Unfortunately, there are several current examples that answer these questions in the most alarming way. But one of them that hasn't got enough attention is an absurd class action lawsuit that has worked through our corrupt judicial system -- all the way to the Supreme Court.

Could this outrageous lawsuit win the day? One wouldn't think so...that is, until he remembers the utter foolishness of court decisions that have legalized the destruction of human children in the womb, legalized marriages between persons of the same gender, and criminalized what was once protected freedoms of speech and religion.

So look out.

Here's an excerpt from the editorial from the New York Daily News.

The U.S. Supreme Court is weighing whether discrimination claims by six women who worked in 13 Walmart stores can become a class action encompassing as many as 1.6 million women who now toil or once toiled in the retailer's 3,400 outlets.

The question is preposterous, and the answer must be no.

America's legal system is built on the presentation of specific, individualized allegations and fair opportunity to rebut them with contrary evidence. The courts are not to be places where sweeping wrongdoing is divined through statistical calculations and sociological mumbo jumbo...

Two lower courts bought that argument, never mind that the retailer's unchallenged data showed no significant discrepancy between pay of men and women at 90% of its outlets. The lower-court rulings concluded Walmart should have to answer for allegedly discriminating on a mass scale based on the claimants' statistical extrapolations.

If that legal thinking is upheld, then every woman in America can band together into a class to sue every employer in America. No joke...

The Transparency President? Liberal Groups Don't Get the Joke.

President Obama finally and quietly accepted his “transparency” award from the open government community this week -- in a closed, undisclosed meeting at the White House on Monday. The secret presentation happened almost two weeks after the White House inexplicably postponed the ceremony, which was expected to be open to the press pool...

“Our understanding going into the meeting was that it would have a pool photographer and a print reporter, and it turned out to be a private meeting,” Gary Bass told POLITICO. “He was so on point, so on target in the conversation with us, it is baffling why he would not want that message to be more broadly heard by reporters and the public interest community and the public generally.”


Has Obama been transparent? Of course not. He's been anything but transparent. From his birth certificate and other records, private meetings with lobbyists, details about legislative proposals, actions taken by the  Departments of State and Justice, etc., Barack Obama has been a study in secrecy and cover-up.

So why would these groups actually give him a transparency award? For his potential. Yes, there seem to be quite a few folks clinging to the "hope and change" elements of the Obama mystique. And for them performance doesn't really matter. Actions don't count. It's all about what the guy represents -- in some other plane of reality.

Take it from one of Obama's admirers. Another bit of the Obama-friendly story from Politico describes the belief of Steve Aftergood, the director of the Project on Government Secrecy at the Federation of American Scientists, that Obama's award is an “aspirational” thing. In other words, it was given "in recognition of Obama’s potential to do more on the transparency front." Aftergood continues, “And in that sense, one could say it resembles the award at the Nobel Peace Prize. It’s not because Obama brought peace to anyone but because people hoped he would be a force for good in the world, and maybe that’s the way to understand this award.”

Awards for what you might do, want to do, hope to do? What nutty notion will liberals come up with next?

But to be completely fair, there is one sense in which Obama truly deserves a transparency award. Right along with the Emperor with no clothes. After all, both are privileged above other mortals; both are confident to the point of arrogance; and both have reputations protected by sycophants crazy with politically-correctness. Those should qualify for something.

Of course, both can also be truly seen for what they are by the innocent public. That's why the Emperor became a figure that still elicits laughter and scorn. And that's why Barack Obama's disapproval rating is higher than its ever been.

That's transparency of some real value.

Should Your Dollars Go to World Vision? A Follow Up.

Is World Vision worthy of your charitable giving? That was the question I posed in a blog post of March 16th, "Japan Relief Dollars: Should They Go to World Vision?" I mentioned in that post that I had sent a note to World Vision and would pass along their response. Printed below are full copies of that correspondence, the latest note from World Vision coming to me just yesterday.

Let me say at the outset that I am pleased that World Vision responded conscientiously to my request. I am grateful and I have told them so. They are a big outfit and could have ignored my note altogether or sent back some kind of form letter. I truly appreciate their direct response. I must admit, however, that even after our correspondence, I remain concerned about World Vision's work. I express those opinions at the conclusion of this post.

Here's how things have developed. First, I received word of caution from a friend about a positive statement I had made about World Vision on my Facebook page. Second, I did a little bit of reading on the web. Those sources are mentioned (and linked) in the blog post I then wrote. Third, there has been the correspondence which I print below.

To World Vision from Denny Hartford, Director of Vital Signs Ministries:

Could you give me plain answers to the following questions. Thank you. 1) Discover the Networks lists World Vision under "Religious Left" organizations. Is that accurate? 2) That same website claims that World Vision "is decidedly supportive of the Palestinian cause and condemnatory of Israel." Furthermore, the article characterizes the general outlook as leftist. "Viewing capitalism as an instrument of societal injustice, greed, and exploitation, WVI favors an economic model based on socialism and the redistribution of wealth." Are these accurate statements? 3) Does World Vision encourage the use of contraceptives? Does it go so far as to encourage "birth control" drugs and devices that work post-conception? And 4) Does World Vision partner in any way with Planned Parenthood or the United Nations Population Fund? Again, thank you for answering these queries.

Just a day or two later, I received this response from World Vision:

Dear Mr. Hartford,

Thank you for contacting World Vision for clarification on the information you recently came across. It is a blessing to be able to serve you!

To ensure that we respond with the best possible information, we are further researching this issue and will contact you within 7 to 10 business days. We appreciate your patience!

If we may be of further assistance, please reply with history to this e-mail or call a Donor Service Representative toll free at 1.888.511.6432. Our hours of operation are Monday through Friday 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Pacific Time. We will be glad to help you.

Thank you for your interest in building a better world for children!

Blessings, 

[I omit the individual's name.]
Donor Contact Services
World Vision U.S.


And then, true to their word, I received the following letter from World Vision yesterday:

Dear Mr. Hartford,

Thank you again for contacting us regarding the statements about World Vision on Discover the Networks' website. We are thankful for the opportunity to respond to your inquiry.

The owner of this website has the freedom to characterize World Vision without discretion or consultation and we do not agree with the opinions provided. If you would like to learn more about World Vision and read our Statement of Faith, please visit our website using the following link: http://www.worldvision.org/christian-commitment .

Regarding our work in Jerusalem/West Bank/Gaza, World Vision always serves the most needy children in the communities where we work. We never choose to establish our Area Development Programs (ADPs) on the basis of race or religion, but rather on poverty indices alone. The worst poverty is in Palestinian areas. In this region, those areas are found in Jerusalem/West Bank/Gaza and are mostly occupied by Palestinian families. World Vision United States funds these sponsorship programs, as well as sponsorship programs in nearly sixty countries that include children from different religious backgrounds, including Jewish children. However, we do not have a process or system in place to track them based on race, religion, or political background.

You may rest assured that as a child-focused relief, development, and advocacy organization, World Vision's focus is on children. Our concern is that the occupation of Palestinian territories has robbed two generations of both Palestinian and Israeli children of peace, security, economic, and educational opportunities and, most of all, hope.

World Vision's ministry is to relieve human suffering around the world in the name of Jesus Christ. However, many of the countries in which we work experience war, civil unrest, and other violence. The fact that we are helping those in need has been perceived by some as siding with one political faction or another. That is not our intention. World Vision has long advocated for a just peace in the Middle East that recognizes the mutual right of Israelis and Palestinians to live in dignity, equality, and security. We do not condone violence on either side.

In response to your question regarding World Vision's position on family planning, we believe that life begins at conception and encourages family planning programs in areas where the programs are desired by individuals and acceptable to both the culture and government of the region. These programs provide information about healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies and encourage the use of all methods of family planning that are proven not to be abortive in nature. Generally, World Vision does not provide methods of family planning but rather supports the Ministry of Health programs within the countries we serve.

World Vision faces challenging issues of economics and culture in its sponsorship communities around the world. Our aim is to ensure the survival of each child through community development and health efforts.We believe family planning and child spacing are only part of our efforts to enable families to enjoy healthier lives.

Lastly, World Vision does not support or work directly with Planned Parenthood; however, in some cases, as part of a national network or consortium of agencies working with a nation's national or provincial health ministry, there may be a Planned Parenthood office as a member of the network or consortium. World Vision is not allowed to select or reject members of such a group; in most countries we are required to participate as a condition of working in the country. We are not aware of any such instances in the United States.

We trust this information is helpful. If we may be of further assistance, please reply with history to this e-mail or call a Donor Service Representative toll free at 1.888.511.6432. Our hours of operation are Monday through Friday 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Pacific Time. We will be glad to help you.

Thank you for your interest in World Vision as we strive to build a better world for children.

May God bless you,

[I omit the individual's name.]
Donor Contact Services
World Vision U.S.


So, what concerns about World Vision still bother me? 1) There remains, of course, the testimony of those sources that elicited my blog post in the first place. For instance, the quotations taken from World Vision's own material about the Palestinian/Israeli conflict seem to stand -- quotations that Discover the Networks accurately describes as "decidedly supportive of the Palestinian cause and condemnatory of Israel." I had hoped World Vision would now denounce those political statements. They did not. Nor did the letter address the question about socialism and redistribution of wealth.

2) I appreciate very much that World Vision believes life begins at conception. To believe anything else is silly, of course; yet many try quite hard to ignore or distort this basic scientific fact. So I commend them. But, the key question remains. Why must World Vision be in the family planning business at all? I'm quite certain that most of the donors who are sponsoring children and relief efforts are completely unaware of World Vision's involvement in this very controversial area. And I'm pretty sure a large amount of those donors would be disturbed to learn that World Vision has adopted "family planning" as a key part of their mission -- especially when it requires them, as the letter above admits, to be involved in consortia that includes groups like Planned Parenthood.

Of course, you must draw your own conclusions from these letters. Perhaps you'll want to correspond with World Vision yourself. That would be great. As you now know, they will be conscientious and timely in their response.

But, as I said earlier, there remain some serious concerns about World Vision for Claire and me even after this polite and positive correspondence. For instance, we are still worried about the organization's political views regarding socialism and Israel. We do not want our relief contributions going to an organization that has embraced the myths of population control and is aggressive in promoting "family planning." And we are not comfortable with giving money to an organization that works (however unavoidably) with Planned Parenthood, Marie Stopes, and the United Nations Population Fund.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Today's Posts

It's Only Wednesday?

What a week -- and it's only Wednesday? You gotta' be kidding.

So far this week: preaching on Sunday, an even more inspiring and enjoyable lunch than usual with friends, an uplifting church service at the nursing home, readings in John Buchan and Conan Doyle, the quarterly Vital Signs Ministries Board meeting, some substantial work on Volume 10 of "When Swing Was King," a bit of writing and a return to blogging, the uploading of a new You Tube clip regarding the de-funding of Planned Parenthood, and a wonderful surprise visit from our old friend Dick Wilson.

And, oh yes...there was that harrowing early morning phone call on Monday telling us that once again Mom was being taken to the emergency room. However, her extreme lethargy turned out to be a result of another urinary tract infection. So, after hours at the hospital, a regimen of antibiotics, and a day of hard sleep, she is much better. So now, it's off for a haircut, a bite of lunch (staying true to our new diets, of course) and a visit to Mom's.

And you're telling me it's only Wednesday?

Phil Mickelson: Family Comes First

If you're not familiar with golf superstar Phil Mickelson, Parade Magazine's interview is a great introduction. And even if you're not into golf, you'll find Mickelson's love affair with his wife, his dedication to his family, his resiliency, and his perspective on an amazing sports career delightfully refreshing.

In this era of golf, Mickelson’s name will always come after Tiger Woods’s. He is the anti-Tiger, though not because he’s gracefully weathered the obstacles life has thrown at him while Tiger is still stinging from self-inflicted wounds. He’s the anti-Tiger because on the course he plays a mild-mannered, sometimes bumbling Clark Kent to Woods’s Superman. And fans love him for it. He never looks chiseled, never seems invincible, and—despite 38 PGA wins—has never been No. 1 in the world. He’s been faulted for taking too long to win his first major (in his 12th year as a pro) and for making too many suicidal shots at critical moments. But throughout his nearly 20-year professional career, he has had the same caddie, the same manager, and the same wife....

Bones recalls the day in 1993 when Mickelson told him he had just met a young woman named Amy McBride: “I knew within 10 minutes that she was the woman he was going to marry.”

Mickelson kind of melts when he recalls that first meeting, which included playing tennis and talking about how neither of them wanted a serious relationship. “I tried to deny it. Three or four months later, I just knew I wanted to be with her.” After 18 years together, that’s still true. “Phil is so in love with Amy,” his mom says. “He’ll stand there just staring at her like he’s meeting her for the first time, and she’s the same way with him. It’s neat being around them.”...

Golf can be a cruel game, but Mickelson has proven his resilience. Case in point: the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot, when he stood on the final tee with a one-shot lead and proceeded to unleash a series of cringeworthy shots that resulted in a double bogey and cost him the tournament. Sheer agony, but here’s Mickelson’s story of what happened after: “My daughter Amanda and I [found a quiet] corner to snuggle, and she said, ‘Are you okay, Dad?’ and I said, ‘Well, I’m a little disappointed. This was a tournament I dreamt of winning as a kid, and I haven’t yet.’ And she said, ‘Well, second is pretty good, Dad. Can I get you a piece of pizza?’

“It was kind of a bigger-picture perspective,” he says, beaming with fatherly pride...

And for Mickelson, fun usually involves taking chances. “The reason he’s so magnetic to fans is that Phil has this beautiful flaw,” Feherty says. “He’s capable of mercurial brilliance, but at any given moment, he can make the sort of mistake the guy sitting at home would.”

Maybe Mickelson can handle that unpredictability because he’s so predictable off the course. He’s the husband who always calls his wife after a round. He’s the dad who’ll fly home on a Saturday night (as he did last month at Pebble Beach), even when he’s in contention to win the next day (as he was), so he can attend his daughter’s dance recital. “My family has reduced the effect of my career on my self-esteem,” he says. “When I’m with them, they make me feel special regardless of how I play.”

How Low Can Obama Go? (Double Meaning Painfully Obvious)

Let's face it, ever since ObamaCare was foisted onto the American people, none of the public opinion polls have given Barack Obama a whole lot to get excited about. But among them, the Quinnipiac University poll has been one of the most favorable to the president. However, the one just released has caused more than a few White House staffers to reach for the Pepto-Bismol.

The poll showed that half of the country believes Obama doesn't deserve a second term. Indeed, his disapproval ratings have jumped to 48%.

Those results are the worst ever for Mr. Obama.

But with the Middle East exploding, the economy tanking, government spending drowning our future, and so on, the most important question is, "How low will Mr. Obama take America?"

The Liberating Power of Truth

The injustice and cruelty of the Soviet Union’s vast organization of labor camps in the 1930’s and 1940’s are now well known. But that knowledge didn’t have to surface. Indeed, without the grace of God acting through such heroic individuals as Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the truth might well have remained buried by Communist cover-ups. Solzhenitsyn was the foremost voice raised against the grand Soviet machine. Through rare courage and sacrificial efforts, he managed to alert the whole world to what was really happening to countless numbers of innocent human beings.

Solzhenitsyn’s most famous (though not often read) book is the riveting 3-volume, Gulag Archipelago. In that incredible work, the former slave camp worker documents the massive catalog of outrageous lies, violence, and criminal corruption perpetrated by Soviet Communism. In the Gulag (and even in his fiction), Solzhenitsyn serves as an historian. It is enough, he insists, to simply record what happened, to give the truth an open hearing. Truth has amazing power. Solzhenitsyn hoped that when people learned the real story of Soviet tyranny, they would resolve to never again allow the devil an open door to such blasphemy and brutality. It is in this sense that Alexander Solzhenitsyn is hailed as a prophet – not as a fortune teller, but as a “forth teller.” He bravely held up the banner of truth and simply by performing that service, he helped change the world.

In Solzhenitsyn’s play The Love-Girl and the Innocent, set in a 1945 forced labor camp in Siberia, one of the persecuted men lists just a few of the monstrous crimes performed by Soviet thugs that he has witnessed. The prisoner is beside himself with fury, feeling utterly helpless to do anything about this all-enveloping injustice. But in response, Pavel Gai, an imprisoned ex-soldier who has experienced more than his own share of horrors, answers him with chilling authority. “What can we do? Remember – that’s all.”

Alexander Solzhenitsyn did, in fact, remember. In fact, it was his constant plea to God for help in remembering specific events, people and situations so that he could record the true history of the Soviet Union. Solzhenitsyn desired more than anything else to be a faithful historian in order to effectively honor the victims but, more importantly, so that the preserved truth could set the future free. Ronald Reagan was one of those inspired by those revelations and Reagan acted on the knowledge that Solzhenitsyn had preserved. The Wall fell. The camps are now empty. Truth...just a simple presentation of the truth...can indeed destroy the darkness.

Take a Minute: "Defund Planned Parenthood"

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Today's Posts

Political Priority? Break the Democrat Stranglehold.

The first political campaign that ever excited me enough to get involved was the contest between Lyndon Johnson and Barry Goldwater in 1964.

I was in the 8th grade in Golden, Colorado.

In that race, educated and enlivened by my classmate, Grover Coors III, whose family had been rock-ribbed Republicans as long as they had been brewing beer, I came out swinging for Goldwater. I took the Arizonan's side in a formal class debate, argued economic conservatism with my pals...I even bought an AuH2O bumper sticker for my Dad's car.

Confidentially, Dad never used that bumper sticker but, since he voted right anyway, I didn't hold it against him.

That race set the tone for my political future -- except for one brief fling in the '72 primary season when Claire and I supported Democrat Henry "Scoop" Jackson. But then Jackson almost didn't count insofar as he was more Republican than Democrat -- a national defense "hawk" who was strong on law and order, civil rights and fiscal responsibility. But, as you remember, the Democrat party lurched wildly to the left that year and picked George McGovern as its standard bearer, as wacky a liberal as had, in those days, come down the political pike.

So we voted Nixon that year...as did most everyone else in the country. We never again looked seriously at a Democrat because the Democrats took that '72 election to dedicate itself to the dark side. Indeed, since those days Democrats have not only been the party of big government, confiscatory taxes, weak national defense and Nanny State tyranny, they've declared themselves the enemies of those moral standards that have stood civilization well for millenia. It's the party that rewards sloth and shoddiness. The party of abortion. The party that opposes family values...even marriage itself.

McGovern, what hath thou wrought!

Naturally then, our votes have always been for Republicans. Even when the party didn't field the best candidate. Gerald Ford and Bob Dole come to mind. And even though Claire and I have always been registered Independents. Why? Because to support anyone else (Democrat or third party candidate) served nothing but the cause of the Democrat agenda.

And the Democrat agenda (in all things: economics, foreign policy, education, commerce and moral values) is disastrous both for the United States and the cause of liberty around the globe.

I repeat -- I am an Independent. I am an Independent by legal registration and by conviction. And yet I urge those of you who have been frustrated by the G.O.P.( no one has been more infuriated by them at times than me) to carefully see how the Democrats yearn for division in the conservative ranks come election season. Genuine, thorough-going conservatives fight tooth and nail for their convictions -- even within the ranks. But the infighting must never become a substitute (not even a distraction) from the bigger fight we have with the Democrat Party and its nefarious designs on Western culture.

Recent history is quite clear that third parties, splinter groups, protest no-show intentions (even when principled and earnest) do not serve the conservative cause. Indeed, they give a tremendous advantage to Democrats to become even more entrenched, to pack the courts, to pack the bureaucracies, to write the rules, and to control the education system. Need I mention how valuable was Ross Perot to Bill Clinton?

The tea party movement, the general disappointment (in some circles, make that disgust) with Barack Obama, the rise of the alternative media are all dramatically changing the Republican Party. That's good because these factors are all increasing the party's power and its quality. There are still, as I've written before, plenty of "RINOs, Rockefellers and country-clubbers" who the party must purge from its ranks. But the Democrat power structure must be dismantled before principled and efficient conservatism will even have a chance.

I think I'm speaking for Grover Coors here...and, quite probably, for "Scoop" Jackson too. Let's first get rid of the stranglehold Democrats have on the nation. And then get back to streamlining, purifying and increasing the appeal of the G.O.P.

Obama Is All for Transparency (Well, Except for His Birth Certificate)

The issue of Barack Obama's mysterious birth certificate has not gone away. Indeed, this last week it has been in the headlines again due to the energetic efforts of the world's most effective headline-makers, Donald Trump.

Throughout the week and in several national media venues, Trump is asking the question that the left-leaning media loathes and ridicules.

But it's a question most of America would like a definitive answer to.

Here's an ABC News report on the latest.

Obama's Speech Fails to Inspire; Fails to Tell the Truth

So how did the President do in his speech to the nation last night? If you're like me, you didn't watch it yourself so you've been waiting to read a few reviews and responses. Well, it shouldn't be surprising to learn that even the press, once so bespotted with Barack Obama, is getting downright bored, dissatisfied, and skeptical after two and a half years of flat and contradictory rhetoric.

And that's not mentioning Mr. Obama's inept handling of the duties of Chief Executive. Sometimes overreaching, sometimes AWOL, but always incompetent, President Obama is fatiguing even those who idolized him just 30 months ago.

For instance, even the Associated Press was left frustrated and unimpressed with Obama's Libya speech last night. Here's Anne Gearan's report.

President Barack Obama wanted to tell a hesitant America why he launched a military assault in Libya, and he wanted to describe it on his terms — limited, sensible, moral and backed by international partners with the shared goal of protecting Libyans from a ruthless despot.

Trouble is, the war he described Monday doesn't quite match the fight the United States is in.

It also doesn't line up with the conflict Obama himself had seemed to presage, when he expressly called for Moammar Gadhafi's overthrow or resignation. Obama's stated goals stop well short of that. And although Obama talked of the risks of a long war, he did not say just when or on what terms the United States would leave Libya.

Obama never directly mention the Libyan rebels seeking Gadhafi's overthrow, even though the heavy U.S.-led firepower trained on Gadhafi's forces has allowed those rebels to regain momentum and push toward Gadhafi's territory...

If the purpose of the U.N.-sanctioned military action is to protect civilians, does that include pro-Gadhafi civilians who are likely to be endangered in places like Sirte that are in the rebels' crosshairs? If not, it is difficult to see the Western intervention as a neutral humanitarian act not aligned with the rebels...

The Nobel Peace Prize winner never used the word "war" to describe what's happening in Libya, but made a point of addressing what the conflict he chose "says about the use of America's military power, and America's broader leadership in the world, under my presidency."...


And the AP's "Fact Check" article written by veterans Calvin Woodward and Richard Lardner doesn't treat Mr. Obama's speech any better.

Meanwhile, others weighing in on the President's speech are even more worthy of your time -- journalists who have been telling the real story of Barack Obama since the beginning -- journalists like the editors of the Washington Times:

...Mr. Obama waited nine days after U.S. forces began to engage in hostilities in Libya to make a major address to the nation. He initially avoided making more than perfunctory remarks because U.S. involvement in the nonwar was supposed to be brief and limited. But as the kinetic became more frenetic, and Mr. Obama didn’t see the favorable bump in public opinion most presidents enjoy after unleashing military force, he was compelled to address the issue head on. Unbeknownst to the novice commander in chief, Mr. Obama faces a mass of contradictions that makes this conflict a hard sell.

c Mr. Obama has started a war that is not a war.

c Mr. Obama is using military force, but his secretary of defense says there is no vital American interest involved.

c Mr. Obama sold the country and the United Nations on a no-fly zone, but coalition forces are targeting Libyan ground troops.

c Mr. Obama’s mandate was to protect civilian lives, but he is actively siding with the rebellion.

c Mr. Obama has praised the “legitimate aspirations of the Libyan people,” but many of the rebels are Islamist radicals and even members of al Qaeda.

c Mr. Obama has gone to war to prevent a “bloodbath” in Libya but only offers empty words to innocent Syrians being gunned down by the Assad dictatorship.

c Mr. Obama has said the United States is not seeking to force regime change but believes that Moammar Gadhafi “has to go.”

c Mr. Obama said there would be no “boots on the ground” in Libya but reports are emerging that some boots have landed.

c Mr. Obama said the operation would be handed over to NATO but the United States will still be doing the heavy lifting.

c Mr. Obama said Operation Odyssey Dawn would be limited to “days, not weeks,” but now it is projected to go on for months, or longer.

c Mr. Obama denounced his predecessor President George W. Bush for unilateralism but the O Force has gone to war with no congressional authorization, fewer coalition partners and weaker support from the Arab world.

All of these contradictions were of the president’s making and are the product of trying to preserve an exalted image that now only a few members of the White House inner circle still believe. The Nobel Prize-winning man of peace who expanded America’s wars; the champion of Muslims who only helps them when it’s convenient; and the great global leader who continually emphasizes America’s declining influence: What a long strange odyssey the Obama presidency has become.

Letting a Little Light Into the Conversation

Monday, March 28, 2011

Todays Posts

After the Hatchet Falls

The wisest thing in the world is to cry out before you are hurt. It is no good to cry out after you are hurt; especially after you are mortally hurt. People talk about the impatience of the populace; but sound historians know that most tyrannies have been possible because men moved too late. It is often essential to resist a tyranny before it exists. It is no answer to say, with a distant optimism, that the scheme is only in the air. A blow from a hatchet can only be parried while it is in the air.

So wrote G.K. Chesterton in the opening paragraph of Eugenics and Other Evils (1922). Tragically, the hatchet blow of humanist eugenics was not parried by the Church in those days when it could have, and we must now struggle against a "culture of death" that has become all too entrenched.

Yes, we will fight and fight gladly the terrible things the eugenics movement started (abortion, disrespect for the institution of family, an anti-child mentality, euthanasia, genetic engineering, and so on) but G.K.'s words remind us of how much more difficult is the struggle when God's people slumber through the first alarms.

Beyond Obama's Pay Grade? Science 101.

The ACLU's Historic Ties to Abortion

The respected researcher, author and professor of political science at Grove City College, Paul Kengor talks here about the ACLU's connections to Communism as well as the organization's passion for birth control and abortion. Very illuminating stuff.

As someone who has the highly unusual task of researching old, declassified Soviet and Communist Party USA archives, I often get quizzical looks as to why certain things from the distant past still matter, beyond mere historical curiosity. In a sense, it all matters. Truth is truth. History is history.

Even then, I often get asked why something I’ve found in communist archives from, say, the 1920s, pertains to America right now in the 21st century. Well, indeed, past is often prologue, as what happened a century ago is hardly irrelevant to today’s political stage.

That certainly seems the case with what I’ve found on the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), from its challenging of Christmas carols in public schools seven decades ago to its recent actions trying to compel Catholic hospitals to do abortions and denouncing the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for opposing birth control and contraception in “health care” reform legislation. Few organizations have been as consistently radical in advancing abortion as the ACLU, to such a degree that Alan Sears and Craig Osten, authors of The ACLU vs. America, refer to “the ACLU’s crusade against the unborn child.”

How ironic that I would find the seeds of these things in communist archives or, even more directly, in the pro-communist or pro-Soviet writings of the ACLU’s founders.

The ACLU’s early atheism is no surprise, and of obvious relevance, given the organization’s consistent challenging of faith in the public square for decades — driven by severely misguided interpretations of church-state separation. Its founders’ early sympathies toward Bolshevism and the Soviet state are not disconnected from that atheism. Yet, most interesting, and unexpected, is how the ACLU’s founders’ views on the Leninist-Stalinist state’s advancement of abortion and birth control might be connected — symbolically, at the very least — to the organization’s advancement of abortion and birth control today...


Here's the rest of the article.

Discrimination Fraud: Your Tax Dollars at Work

Remember Shirley Sherrod? (If not, see "Have You Heard of Anybody in the Federal Government Losing Their Job?" and The Shirley Sherrod Story Isn't Over.)

And then read John Stossel's column "The Real Shirley Sherrod Scandal." It will absolutely astound -- and enrage -- you.

...In the 80’s and 90’s, some Black farmers were allegedly discriminated against by the Agriculture Department. Department loan officers supposedly did the opposite of what Shirley Sherrod was accused of:   they granted government-subsidized farm loans to whites but not to blacks.

Government shouldn’t be giving out government subsidized loans to anyone.  But that’s another story for another time.

When some black farmers sued, claiming discrimination, the USDA agreed to pay $50,000 to every black person who was discriminated against.

According to the census, there were 18,000 black farmers in the country when the lawsuit was filed. But 97,000 black “farmers” have applied for the money.

Black farmer Jimmy Dismuke says it’s fraud. He said lawyers went to black churches and told people who had never farmed to file for the money. “People say well, how do I qualify?” Dismuke told us. “And then [the lawyers] started talking about potted plants.  They said if you had a potted plant, you can be a farmer.  And if you have a yard and you fertilize it, you're a farmer.”

Just about anyone can say that they “attempted to farm.” And the USDA – which did not keep all its loan records--has no way to refute that.   So the taxpayers pay, and pay...


Don't stop yet. Stossel's column concludes with a bang right here.

Watermelon Environmentalists: Green on the Outside, Red on the Inside

In this Mercator article, Michael Cook examines new opposition to the Green Party in Australia from Catholic leaders. And that opposition, he explains, is not because of the Party's environmental goals (such as requiring an expensive carbon tax) but rather because the Greens have decided to aggressively promote euthanasia, abortion, homosexual marriage, and recreational drugs.

And one of the Greens' key icons? Bizarre ethics professor Peter Singer.

As Cardinal George Pell has said, “For those who value our present way of life, the Greens are sweet camouflaged poison.”

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A Week's Hiatus

I wish I wasn't blogging this week because I was on vacation. But alas, that's not the case. Rather, I'm not blogging because I'm trying to catch up on a variety of other duties.

So...see you next Monday.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Today's Posts

Planned Parenthood: What's a Big Lie Between Friends?

Liberal U.K. Reporter: "Is Barack Obama the Weakest President in History?"

The NIV Wants To Make You People Fishers

Homosexuals Seeking "Collective" Ground with Muslims

$10 Billion a Day -- How Can the U.S. Meet Its Budget?

"It's Not Planned Parenthood. It's Planned Genocide." (Herman Cain)

Planned Parenthood: What's a Big Lie Between Friends?

Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, told the Texas Tribune, “We see 3 million patients each year across the country. For 97 percent of them, we provide preventive care. Three percent are abortions.” But according to Planned Parenthood’s own Fact Sheet, current as of February 2011, Richards’ claim is untrue. Planned Parenthood provided 332,278 abortions in 2009, or in other words, 11% of Planned Parenthood’s  3 million patients got abortions.

When discussing the best way to prevent an abortion, Richards says, “To eliminate the nation’s largest family planning provider would be the worst thing you could do.” Actually, no. To eliminate the nation’s largest abortion provider would be one of the best things you could do to prevent an abortion. But Richards is deliberately misrepresenting the situation because eliminating state and federal funding for Planned Parenthood is the issue. And Richards admits that Planned Parenthood will continue even if government funding is cut...
(Live Action Blog report.)

Liberal U.K. Reporter: "Is Barack Obama the Weakest President in History?"

Anna Pukas, writing for the Express (U.K.), would like to give Barack Obama whatever excuses she can. For instance, she derides Americans' love of the automobile which affects Obama's energy decisions and she bemoans that the President is "constantly stymied by a hostile, Republican-ruled Congress."

Nevertheless, she determines that the basic fault of Obama's failure is Obama. And what a failure he has been. Indeed, her article is headlined "Barack Obama: The Weakest President in History?"

Here's excerpts:

Let us cast our minds back to those remarkable days in November 2008 when the son of a Kenyan goatherd was elected to the White House. It was a bright new dawn – even brighter than the coming of the Kennedys and their new Camelot. JFK may be considered as being from an ethnic and religious minority – Irish and Catholic – but he was still very rich and very white. Barack Obama, by contrast, was a true breakthrough president. The world would change because obviously America had changed.

Obama’s campaign slogan was mesmerisingly simple and brimming with self-belief: “Yes we can.” His presidency, however, is turning out to be more about “no we won’t.” Even more worryingly, it seems to be very much about: “Maybe we can… do what, exactly?“ The world feels like a dangerous place when leaders are seen to lack certitude but the only thing President Obama seems decisive about is his indecision. What should the US do about Libya? What should the US do about the Middle East in general? What about the country’s crippling debts? What is the US going to do about Afghanistan, about Iran?...

Every day for almost the last two months our television screens, radio broadcasts and the pages of our newspapers have been filled with the pictures, sounds and words of the most tumultuous events any of us can remember in the Arab world. The outcome of these events, once the dust has settled, could literally change the world. Yet Obama seems content to sit this one out. He has barely engaged in the debate. Such ostrich-like behaviour is not untypical of the 49-year-old President who burst through America’s colour barrier to become the first African-American to occupy the White House...

It is also true that the President is constantly stymied by a hostile, Republican-ruled Congress. But Obama’s apparent reluctance to engage with momentous events is starting to look like more than aloofness. Some tempering of America’s role as the world’s No1 busybody may be no bad thing but under Obama the US appears to be heading towards isolationism. He is hardly doing much better at home. Economically, the US is in big trouble but the national debt is not shrinking...

All of which means that it is starting to look as if Obama and the Democratic Party have but one aim in mind for the rest of this presidential term: to get elected for a second. That means not doing anything that might upset any number of special interest or niche groups, which in effect means not doing very much at all. So, not too many harsh but necessary measures to tackle the financial deficit; no clear direction on where America goes with Afghanistan, even though the war there is going nowhere except from bad to worse...

Yes we can was a noble and powerful mantra which secured for Barack Obama the leadership of the free world. Those than can, do. It is time he started doing.

The NIV Wants To Make You People Fishers

Mark 1:17 "'Come follow me, 'Jesus said, 'and I will send you out to fish for people.'" (2011 NIV)
The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood is very understanding and very polite about the matter but they don't like the latest New International Version of the Bible.

Neither do I. For translations of the Bible should be just that -- the most accurate translation of the very words of the text. The NIV doesn't do that. So I don't do the NIV.

And, by the way, this 2011 version is not only the new NIV; it will soon be the only NIV. Zondervan plans to phase out all earlier versions. The company thus gives you no choice. Either you take this one or you go with a different version altogether.

My recommendation remains what it has been for over 40 years now -- the New American Standard.

Anyhow, for more specifics, see the detailed and balanced CBMW response here or the reflections of Trevin Wax over here.

Homosexuals Seeking "Collective" Ground with Muslims

Irrationality, inconsistency and immorality -- they all show off in this weird news item.

It seems that some homosexual activists in England want to cancel a "gay rights" parade because they're afraid it will offend Muslims. These homosexuals (suddenly sensitive to other people's religious convictions) are concerned that the march might "oppress other marginalized groups."

But they only mention one religious group.

Their letter includes this remarkable sentence: "We want both homophobia and Islamophobia addressed as a collective problem and not feed one against the other, we do not recognise these as distinct categories."

So why call off the parade? Why don't the homosexuals and Muslims simply march together, proudly walking hand in hand to emphasize their "collective" unity?

Because the homosexuals know all too well that the Muslims would rather cut off their hands than hold them! Best therefore to send out a press release with high-sounding phrases about oppression rather than actually go over in your pink glad rags to the nearest mosque to ask for parade partners.

And that's what is really going on here. 1) The homosexual activists want to appear inclusive without having to deal with the realities of Islamic teaching about sodomy -- let alone the record of violent punishment that Muslims require for those discovered in same-sex activity. 2) The homosexual activists don't want to stir offense or anger in Muslim neighborhoods. For unlike Christians (who generally suffer indignities quietly), Muslims have been known to bomb and burn those whom they consider blasphemers.

And finally 3) The press release gives the homosexual activists a chance to pose as common victims to the real enemy; namely, the Judaeo-Christian standards of sexuality and family that have supported Western civilization for millenia. This newly-discovered sensitivity of the homosexual activists to their neighbor's religious scruples is bogus. They do not, for instance, give a whit for the sensibilities of the vicar, the priest or the rabbi.  No, these clergymen represent the enemy -- the voice of reasonable religion, the voice that recognizes Man as God made him, the voice that dares to name the unnatural, dangerous, and spiritually tragic sin of homosexuality for what it is.

Homosexual relations as Islam as a collective? No distinct categories between the two? Obviously, any obscurantist pose, any bizarre gimmick that might serve as a protest against  Judaeo-Christian morality will be tried. Such is the sad irrationality underlying the whole "gay rights" movement.

(Update: The parade has now been officially canceled. The BBC quoted one of the homosexual activists fearing that the march would "be exploited and hijacked by the far right to create divisions and stir up intolerance against Muslim people." But the "far right" in this case turns out to be another homosexual leader whose prior affiliation with the English Defence League created a rift in the ranks. As I said, a sad irrationality.)

$10 Billion a Day -- How Can the U.S. Meet Its Budget?

It may help to better understand the U.S. government spending $3.7 Trillion a year if you realize that it amounts to almost $10 Billion every day. That's right -- every day!

Well, here's a striking satire penned by Iowahawk that can help you see the utter impossibility of trying to keep up with such an insane figure. You'll find it funny but also quite illuminating. And scary.

(Thanks to Dan Connor for the tip.)

"It's Not Planned Parenthood. It's Planned Genocide." (Herman Cain)

“Here’s why I support de-funding Planned Parenthood, because you don’t hear a lot of people talking about this, when Margaret Sanger -- check my history -- started Planned Parenthood, the objective was to put these centers in primarily black communities so they could help kill black babies before they came into the world. You don’t see that talked that much about. It’s not Planned Parenthood. No, it’s planned genocide. You can quote me on that.” (Herman Cain, former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza, columnist, author, talk-radio host, and a possible contender for President.)

According to its annual report, Planned Parenthood received $363.2 million in government grants and contracts during its 2008-09 fiscal year, up from $349.6 million in FY 2007-08. According to a fact sheet on its Web site, Planned Parenthood performed 324,008 abortions in calendar year 2008.

The CDC recently reported that in New York City in 2007, there were 87,527 abortions performed, and 43,568 (or 49.8 percent) of the aborted babies were black. The Census Bureau says there are 8,302,659 people in New York City, of whom 2,085,514 -- or 25 percent -- are black. Thus, black babies in New York City were aborted at a rate that is twice the black share of the municipal population. (Fred Lucas, CNS News.)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Today's Posts

Heresy Goes Hip? Or Is Rob Bell Just Trying to Sell Books?

Dems Arraigned on Election Fraud, Hillary Burned Up By Her Boss

Joan Baez Is Worried Obama Is Listening to the Military. Everyone Else Is Worried He's Not.

8 Out of 10 Illegal Aliens Caught Are Never Prosecuted

Congress' Spending Cut Is a Horse Laugh

Abortionist Helps Abortionist -- But Neither Helped the Women in Their Care

Heresy Goes Hip? Or Is Rob Bell Just Trying to Sell Books?

Is Rob Bell, the pastor of Mars Hill church in Grand Rapids, Michigan -- a fellow who is a bit of a hero to a lot of young evangelicals -- teaching the heresy of universalism? Everything in the promotional material of his book suggests that's the case. And seeing that this is the man the media dubbed the next Billy Graham, that would be very sad news indeed.

Here's a Breakpoint commentary on the matter. And over here is a very disturbing interview with Pastor Bell by NBC (formerly ABC) journalist Martin Bashir.

Watch and wince as Pastor Bell fumbles the interview. Bashir's first question was actually an amateurish set-up, a question of the infamous "Have you stopped beating your wife? Answer yes or no." type. It was one that Bell should have easily handled by pointing out the question's illogical and unjust presupposition.

Goodness. Has Bell never read a Francis Schaeffer or C.S. Lewis book?

Instead, Bell is beaten badly by the question and ends up on the defensive throughout the interview. Indeed, Bell compounds his initial incompetence by refusing to go to the Scriptures to explain the Christian position. He tries to lean on tradition, God's love, people's problems, his empathy with the angst of skeptics, and mystery -- a very big thing in Bell's preaching; bigger, I'm afraid, than revelation. At the end of the interview, Bell even falls into an obvious trap. He admits that his theology is heavily influenced by his own adolescent rebellion against a "fairly cramped evangelical family."

It's really a terrible performance, one which has Bashir playing him all the way through. And Bell ends up suggesting that just about everything has gone into the making of Rob Bell's opinions -- everything except the Bible.

The next Billy Graham? Not even close. 

Dems Arraigned on Election Fraud, Hillary Burned Up By Her Boss

Here's a couple of stories you can bet will be all-but-buried by the mainstream media.

1) Two high-ranking members of the Democratic Party in Oakland County (Detroit area) are on trial for a variety of election fraud and corruption charges. The charges stem from a scheme in which the fellows tried to besmirch and undermine the Tea Party movement. It involved false filings, forgery and more -- with penalties up to 14 years in prison.

At the arraignment, Former Democratic Party Chairman Michael McGuinness and ex-operations director Jason Bauer, stood silent. They were given a soft bail of $25,000.

2) Is a report from Joshua Hersh in The Daily describing Hillary Clinton's dismay (perhaps disgust is a better word) over the inept and out-of-touch way in which her boss is dealing with the Middle East.

Fed up with a president “who can’t make his mind up” as Libyan rebels are on the brink of defeat, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is looking to the exits. At the tail end of her mission to bolster the Libyan opposition, which has suffered days of losses to Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s forces, Clinton announced that she’s done with Obama after 2012-- even if he wins again.

“Obviously, she’s not happy with dealing with a president who can’t decide if today is Tuesday or Wednesday, who can’t make his mind up,” a Clinton insider told The Daily. “She’s exhausted, tired.” He went on, “If you take a look at what’s on her plate as compared with what’s on the plates of previous Secretary of States -- there’s more going on now at this particular moment, and it’s like playing sports with a bunch of amateurs. And she doesn’t have any power. She’s trying to do what she can to keep things from imploding.”

Clinton is said to be especially peeved with the president’s waffling over how to encourage the kinds of Arab uprisings that have recently toppled regimes in Egypt and Tunisia, and in particular his refusal to back a no-fly zone over Libya...

As the insider described Obama’s foreign policy shop: “It’s amateur night."

Joan Baez Is Worried Obama Is Listening to the Military. Everyone Else Is Worried He's Not.

POLITICO: The president campaigned on the promise of closing Guantanamo. What does this move mean to someone like yourself, who supported his candidacy in 2008?

Baez: Part of that stuff comes from just being in office. I'm not defending him at all, but I know that people with those ideals and dreams, once you get into office, your hands are tied by so many people. My concern with Obama is, I don't know who he listens to. He's a Nobel Peace Prize winner -- as kind of silly as that was and premature -- but he could meet with Nobel Peace Prize winners who have moved mountains and he could do extraordinary things by not falling into the trap that I think he is: of waking up in the morning and meeting with the military. So that's all he gets for input, unless we can make ourselves heard somehow.

8 Out of 10 Illegal Aliens Caught Are Never Prosecuted

Eight out of ten illegal aliens apprehended in 2010 were never even prosecuted.

That's a piece of news that says something about both the illegal immigration issue and the more general state of the American judicial system.

And what it says ain't good.

Congress' Spending Cut Is a Horse Laugh

That $6 Billion the Congress cut from the federal budget last week? On that very day, the U.S. Treasury Department admits that the national debt jumped by $72 billion. On that very day!

Yet these lawmakers, especially the Republicans whose constituencies are expecting them to get serious about spending cuts, are acting like they did something quite significant.

Balderdash!

Get serious about bringing this economy into some sane sense of balance. Or get out of the way.

Abortionist Helps Abortionist -- But Neither Helped the Women in Their Care

This LifeNews story of abortionist Albert Dworkin enabling the horrific abortion business of Kermit Gosnell (he of the botched abortions, murdered women, grossly dirty and illegal operating rooms, and multiple criminal charges when finally stopped) emphasizes again how abortionists care only about profits -- not the women who come to them.

But the story has at least one positive note -- Albert Dworkin's medical license has been suspended. And, please God, it may be revoked for good.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Today's Posts

Japan Relief Dollars: Should They Go to World Vision?

Forget Waldo. Where's Obama?

Food Prices Highest in 36 Years. AP Says Inflation Is "Tame."

Machete Murder Spree Gets No Press Attention. Why?

Dr. Biscet is Freed From Castro's Prisons...For Now

Ya' Say Ya' Want the City Protected? What's In It For Us?

Yet Another Reason to Avoid Mattel Toy Company

Is the Infertility Business Exploiting (and Endangering) Young Women?


Japan Relief Dollars: Should They Go to World Vision?

It happens too often. Charitable corporations (even Christian ones) get really big -- so big that policies and positions get complex (if not actually contradictory) -- so big that they compromise their founding ideals in order to accomodate large staffs, governments, NGOs, big donors, changing cultural norms, evolving philosophies, political-correctness, and so on.

And sometimes they're so big that the regular guy doesn't have access to detailed information. And when that regular guy (or gal) is trying to decide where to give their money or time, such a lack of information can be deeply troubling.

Yesterday, I heard and then read a couple of warnings about giving money to World Vision. I had posted something on my Facebook page about being careful of scams in the wake of the disasters besetting Japan and cautioned people to give to only reputable organizations. The one I cited was World Vision, one of the relief organizations that I have always thought was reputable, if not as devoutly evangelistic as others.

It was because of that post a trusted friend suggested a couple of articles about possible problems with World Vision. One came from Discover the Networks: A Guide to the Political Left. It lists World Vision under the category of Religious Left and has a detailed (but, I think, a bit dated) article suggesting that World Vision "is decidedly supportive of the Palestinian cause and condemnatory of Israel." Furthermore, the article characterizes the general outlook as leftist. "Viewing capitalism as an instrument of societal injustice, greed, and exploitation, WVI favors an economic model based on socialism and the redistribution of wealth."

The other article (a more recent one) dealt with World Vision's troubling promotion of contraceptives and the contraceptive mentality, its endorsement of abortifacient "birth control," and its partnership with the goals of the United Nations Population Fund.

I have written a letter to World Vision with my concerns and will let you know their answer, if and as soon as I receive it. But, in the meantime, you might consider any gifts you're considering for Japan relief efforts to go to religious denominations you know well. For Claire and I, we now feel safest (in terms of conscience) with giving to Baptist Global Relief.

Forget Waldo. Where's Obama?

Keith Koffler is asking the same question that you (John Podhoretz in the New York Post, Ruth Marcus in the Washington Post, Lee Rodgers, and many others) are asking. With Japan dying, with bad guys killing thousands, with the American economy in freefall -- where is the President of the United States?

Here's Koffler's column in the White House Dossier:

The Middle East is afire with rebellion, Japan is imploding from an earthquake, and the battle of the budget is on in the United States, but none of this seems to be deterring President Obama from a heavy schedule of childish distractions.

The newly installed tandem of White House Chief of Staff William Daley and Senior Adviser David Plouffe were supposed to impart a new sense of discipline and purpose to the White House. Instead, they are permitting him to showcase himself as a poorly focused leader who has his priorities backward.

This morning, as Japan’s nuclear crisis enters a potentially catastrophic phase, we are told that Obama is videotaping his NCAA tournament picks and that we’ll be able to tune into ESPN Wednesday to find out who he likes.

Saturday, he made his 61st outing to the golf course as president, and got back to the White House with just enough time for a quick shower before heading out to party with Washington’s elite journalists at the annual Gridiron Dinner.

With various urgencies swirling about him, Saturday’s weekly videotaped presidential address focusing on “Women’s History Month” seemed bizarrely out of touch.

Obama Friday took time out to honor the 2009-10 Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks. Thursday was a White House conference on bullying – not a bad idea perhaps, but not quite Leader of the Free World stuff either.

Obama appeared a little sleepy as he weighed in against the bullies, perhaps because he’d spent the night before partying with lawmakers as they took in a Chicago Bulls vs. Charlotte Bobcats game.

Meanwhile, the president has been studying for weeks whether to establish a No Fly Zone over Libya, delaying action while the point becomes increasingly moot as Qaddafi begins to defeat and slaughter his opponents. And lawmakers from both Parties are wondering why he seems to be AWOL in the deficit reduction debate.

The Libya indecision follows an inconsistent response to the protests that ousted former Egyptian President Mubarak and seemed to catch the White House off guard. The perfunctory response from the White House Monday to Saudi Arabia’s dispatch of troops to Bahrain suggested the administration wasn’t prepared for that one either.

But the fun stuff won’t end anytime soon. On Thursday, the Taoiseach of Ireland will be in town to help the president celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. And then Friday it’s off to Brazil for the start of a three-country Latin American tour...

Food Prices Highest in 36 Years. AP Says Inflation Is "Tame."

Leave it to the Associated Press to give you a pitch like this.

"Wholesale prices jumped last month by the most in nearly two years due to higher energy costs and the steepest rise in food prices in 36 years. Excluding those volatile categories, inflation was tame."

Whew! Overall, our inflation problem is "tame." So, kudos to President Obama, his economic stimulus and his crack team of financial experts.

It's just in those "volatile categories" that there's a bit of disappointment -- just little things like food for your family, energy to heat and cool your homes, gasoline to run your cars, and fuel to keep what few manufacturers we still have in operation.

Food prices the highest since Nixon? Gasoline nearing $4 bucks a gallon, even in the Midwest? New home construction at its second lowest in the last 50 years?

Not to worry. This is just "tame" inflation doing its thing.

Machete Murder Spree Gets No Press Attention. Why?

A 37-year old Salvadoran national (using both a machete and a gun) goes on a murderous rampage just outside Washington, D.C. Three people are severely wounded. Three people are dead. But, after one day's worth of local coverage, the media has turned away from reporting the case.

And the national media never touched it at all.

Dave Gibson, writing for Examiner.com, wonders why.

Why would the American press simply ignore a case in which a man running through the streets of a Washington D.C. suburb with a machete and a gun, left innocent victims both dead and severely wounded in his path?...

Could it be the fact that the man held responsible for this horrific act is in the country illegally?

Could it be the fact that Jose Oswaldo Reyes Alfaro was ordered deported but simply never left and the federal government never followed through on that order?

Could it be that though this illegal alien who had been slated for deportation was arrested twice more while he was considered an immigration fugitive, and simply released both times?

Could it be the fact that this illegal alien, contrary to what both Presidents Bush and Obama have told us…was not “just here to work?”

Could it be the fact that this case may demonstrate more clearly than any other to the American people why it is so important to fiercely defend our borders and actually enforce existing immigration laws?

Or, could it be as Virginia state Delegate Jackson Miller (R-Manassas) described it, the day after the attacks, when Del. Jackson said: “It’s another abject failure of the federal government. Now we have three innocent victims in my city, about a mile from my house there’s a murderous rampage. I am furious. … Yet it happens over and over and over again, and then we have to hear all of these apologetic excuses as to why we shouldn’t be addressing criminal illegal aliens on the state or local level. It’s just disgusting.”

Try all of the above.


Readers of Vital Signs Blog know there is a continuing pattern here, a terrible pattern of neglect and indifference shown by the American judicial system. (See Prison Inmates Supposed To Be Deported Are Let Out In Your Town Instead and Rapist of Disabled Woman Had Been Deported 9 Times)

And why is this stunning injustice happening? Because in the decadent foolishness of post-modern America,  political-correctness trumps even public safety.

Dr. Biscet is Freed From Castro's Prisons...For Now

Having long prayed and actively participated in the campaign for freedom for human rights champion Dr. Oscar ElĂ­as Biscet, we are very pleased to pass the word on that he was released from Cuba's barbaric prison system. However, Dr. Biscet risks further punishment from the Castro brothers because he's promised to stay and work for justice in his homeland.

“I am a defender of life and liberty, and on those two values I base all that I do,” Biscet explained. “I refused to leave Cuba because I’ve pledged never to abandon it until I achieve my objectives -- democracy and freedom for Cuba.”

Last Friday, after eight years of imprisonment, Biscet was released under an “extra penitentiary license." This means that Dr. Biscet will continue to serve his 25-year sentence outside of prison...as long as he shows “good conduct.”

That's a very precarious position for a man who Castro has had arrested nearly 30 times. Prayer then remains very much in order as do calls for Biscet and other peaceful prisoners of conscience who are unjustly suffering in Cuban jails.

Here's more from the Human Rights Foundation.

Ya' Say Ya' Want the City Protected? What's In It For Us?

Over in the Wall Street Journal, James Taranto shares some very disturbing information about police unions joining in an ugly shakedown set-up; namely, pressuring businessmen to stand against Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker in his showdown with public union employees.

Last week, as the Wisconsin stalemate was coming to an end, we worried about the potential threat that unionized policemen, in "solidarity" with other unionized government employees, might tolerate or even participate in lawless behavior in order to undermine the workings of republican governance and preserve union privileges. Milwaukee radio host Charlie Sykes reports that Wisconsin businessmen are now receiving letters importuning them to oppose Gov. Scott Walker's efforts on behalf of Wisconsin's taxpayers:

"The undersigned groups would like your company to publicly oppose Governor Walker's efforts to virtually eliminate collective bargaining for public employees in Wisconsin. While we appreciate that you may need some time to consider this request, we ask for your response by March 17. In the event that you do not respond to this request by that date, we will assume that you stand with Governor Walker and against the teachers, nurses, police officers, fire fighters, and other dedicated public employees who serve our communities.

In the event that you cannot support this effort to save collective bargaining, please be advised that the undersigned will publicly and formally boycott the goods and services provided by your company. However, if you join us, we will do everything in our power to publicly celebrate your partnership in the fight to preserve the right of public employees to be heard at the bargaining table. Wisconsin's public employee unions serve to protect and promote equality and fairness in the workplace. We hope you will stand with us and publicly share that ideal.

In the event you would like to discuss this matter further, please contact the executive Director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, Jim Palmer, at..."

Palmer's union is the first of the seven "undersigned groups"; the others are two more police unions, two firemen's unions and two teachers unions. Although the new legislation excludes police and fire unions from its limits on so-called collective bargaining, one can understand why they would oppose it: Their own privileges become less secure if they are the only ones to enjoy them.

It should be acknowledged that cops and firemen have dangerous jobs and thus are arguably more deserving of generous retirement benefits than, say, motor-vehicle clerks or teachers. But the substance of their compensation is a separate question from the procedure by which it is arrived at. "Collective bargaining" is outrageous because it is an affront to democracy: a system of collusion between politicians and unions, which cuts out the taxpayers whose money they are spending...

But in principle, so-called collective bargaining is no less objectionable in the case of cops and firemen than of anyone else. Once the public accepts that it is over for everyone else, there won't be much political support left for privileging the police and fire unions. Thus it makes perfect sense for them to side with the unions representing teachers and others with easier jobs. Their privileges are safe as long as everyone else's are at least contested.

In the letter to Wisconsin businessmen, however, we see why so-called collective bargaining is particularly corrupting to the police. Although the letter explicitly threatens only an economic boycott, when it is written on behalf of the police--of those on whom all citizens depend to protect their safety--it invariably raises the prospect of another kind of boycott. Can a businessman who declines this heavy-handed "request" be confident that the police will do their job if he is the victim of a crime--particularly if the crime itself is in retaliation for his refusal to support "the dedicated public employees who serve our communities"?

Sykes sums up the letter this way: "That's a nice business you got there. Pity if anything were to happen to it if, say, you didn't toe the line and denounce Governor Walker like we're asking nice-like." He's right. "Organized" law enforcement bears a disturbing resemblance to organized crime...