Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Today's Posts

"When Swing Was King" Lives in the Present Too

Ida Mae was having her hair done and was therefore very late in getting to our "When Swing Was King" presentation at the nursing home yesterday afternoon. Well, yes, she did catch the last 3 or 4 songs but that wasn't nearly enough for her. After all, she loves the big band music we play; she loves the memories of dancing with her husband that the program brings back; and, quite frankly, she loves us too. 

But things worked out okay as she and a few others stayed around to talk while we packed up all of our gear. In fact, we sat down for awhile just to visit -- another aspect of our ministry in the nursing homes and assisted living centers that we know is very important. Ida Mae (who is proudly 94 years old) talked about the days when she and her husband danced to all the bands that came through town. Both the local ones and the famous ones. It didn't matter; they loved music and they loved dancing. "When some of them came, I used to make an entrance with a high leg kick and the boys in the band would say, 'Okay, Ida Mae's here. Let's get started!'"

The activity directors (two very caring young women) got in on a bit of our conversation and they were enjoying the ladies' reminiscences quite a bit too. To hear these seniors tell stories of their lives is a wonderful learning experience and we never tire of it. However, many these folks are not only interested in the past -- they're very much into what's happening now as well. Yesterday's conversation, for instance, touched on a variety of topics: how we started "When Swing Was King," modern hair styles, the food at the nursing home, my being a preacher, and a computer class one lady was taking.

Great music. Interesting photos. Fun trivia. Cherished memories. New stories. And people of different generations and backgrounds blessing each other with love and respect. These are the things that make "When Swing Was King" such a delightful and important ministry. And any time you want to join us, you're most welcome.

Sex Toys Sold by Your Drug Store?

Aspirin? Check. Hot water bottle? Check? Candy bar? Check.

Marital (and extra-marital) sex aids? Huh?

A friend who works in the medical field recently sent over an alert about Walgreens being in the sex toy business. It seems he was at the online page for Walgreens and had typed in "otoscopes for sale." Now I'm a humanities guy and had no idea what an otoscope was but he explained it's one of those devices a doctor or nurse uses to look in your ear. Anyhow, in response to his search, the Walgreens site did pop up with a page showing a couple different otoscopes -- but which first showed, at the top of the page,14 types of sexual lubricants, including at least one specifically described for use in an unnatural, dangerous sexual activity.

That's right. Walgreens.

Indeed, it turns out that Walgreens has gone into the sex trade pretty strong, peddling hundreds of sex items from its web site -- items ranging from lubricants, sex toys (some quite bizarre), whips, "positional furniture," flavored condoms, masturbation aids, edible underwear, and the devil knows (pun fully intended) what else.

We have decided to forego shopping at Walgreens from now on. And, for that matter, we won't be shopping at CVS either. I checked their website too and, though it was not nearly as unnatural and offensive as Walgreen's, we really don't want our pharmacy to be a competitor of Lecherous Lenny's Lust Planet.

From now on, it's Baker's supermarket only for our prescriptions and sundry items.

I sent along a letter to both companies informing them of our decision. I urge you to do the same.

(Blog post reprinted from September 21, 2011.)

Santorum Alone Targets ObamaCare

In a recent column, Charles Krauthammer laments the undeniable reality that Obamacare is fading as an issue in the presidential campaign, and calls it "a huge failing of the opposition party." He points out that the Republican presidential candidates have all promised to repeal the Potemkin "reform" law, but asks if any have been "making the case for why?" 

This is a surprising question, coming from a man of Krauthammer's credentials and erudition. He obviously hasn't been listening as closely as one might have expected. Three of the four remaining Republican presidential candidates have indeed failed to give the issue the attention it merits. Rick Santorum, however, has been all over it…

Read the rest of David Catron's important article here at American Spectator.

Communist China Loves Lin (While Persecuting Lin's Fellow Christians)

...While Communist officials were quick to note the birthplace of Jeremy Lin's ancestors, they were silent about Lin's Christianity. In fact, Lin's great-grandfather converted to Christianity under the auspices of American missionaries in the early 20th century, making Lin a fourth-generation Christian.

None of the Chinese coverage of Lin's exploits mentioned his faith. As a result, relatively few Chinese citizens know about Lin's faith. After all, for the Communist Chinese to acknowledge Lin's Christianity would be, to put it mildly, awkward.

The press here in the United States, however, is less reticent. In its reporting of Lin's impact in China, the Times described China's Christian minority as "often-persecuted"-as well as the various efforts the Communist government has used to contain the spread of Chrsitianity. While there is a lot more that can be said about the subject, the Times deserves credit for at least pointing out the irony in Beijing's embrace of Lin.

What is even more ironic is that the Lin story broke around the same time that China's next leader, Vice President Xi Jingping, was touring the United States. Among the people who protested Xi's visit was the writer Yu Jie, who recently moved the United States after being tortured and held under house arrest by Chinese authorities.

Yu, like many prominent dissidents, is a Christian. Similarly, most of the Chinese lawyers brave enough to take on the government are Christians. To talk about human rights in China without mentioning the role played by Chinese Christians makes as much sense as talking about Jeremy Lin without mentioning his faith.

Despite the efforts of the government, it appears that Chinese Christians are learning about Lin's faith and drawing inspiration from it. That's great.
What I hope happens here in the United States is that even more Americans learn about the faith of Chinese Christians and the price they pay for that faith. With all due respect to Lin and the Knicks, those are the underdogs I'm rooting for.

(Chuck Colson, BreakPoint commentary, February 28)

Obama Administration Praises Whistleblowers -- Unless They're Exposing the Obama Administration

Barack Obama promised that his administration would be the most transparent and responsible in history.

Well, Barack Obama lied.

Indeed, we've lost count of the number of things that the White House has kept secret, refused to report, arrogantly shrugged off and hushed up. But, the outrage is not only the Team Obama's constant cover ups, it is how zealous they are to keep anyone from coming clean.

Below is an excerpt from a disturbing story (published, remarkably, in the New York Times) that describes this sorry state of affairs.

Jake Tapper, the White House correspondent for ABC News, pointed out that the administration had lauded brave reporting in distant lands more than once and then asked, “How does that square with the fact that this administration has been so aggressively trying to stop aggressive journalism in the United States by using the Espionage Act to take whistle-blowers to court?”

He then suggested that the administration seemed to believe that “the truth should come out abroad; it shouldn’t come out here.”

Fair point. The Obama administration, which promised during its transition to power that it would enhance “whistle-blower laws to protect federal workers,” has been more prone than any administration in history in trying to silence and prosecute federal workers…

In one of the more remarkable examples of the administration’s aggressive approach, Thomas A. Drake, a former employee of the National Security Agency, was prosecuted under the Espionage Act last year and faced a possible 35 years in prison.

His crime? When his agency was about to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on a software program bought from the private sector intended to monitor digital data, he spoke with a reporter at The Baltimore Sun. He suggested an internally developed program that cost significantly less would be more effective and not violate privacy in the way the product from the vendor would. (He turned out to be right, by the way.)

He was charged with 10 felony counts that accused him of lying to investigators and obstructing justice. Last summer, the case against him collapsed, and he pleaded guilty to a single misdemeanor, of misuse of a government computer.

Jesselyn Radack, the director for national security and human rights at the Government Accountability Project, was one of the lawyers who represented him.

“The Obama administration has been quite hypocritical about its promises of openness, transparency and accountability,” she said. “All presidents hate leaks, but pursuing whistle-blowers as spies is heavy-handed and beyond the scope of the law.”…

And it’s worth pointing out that the administration’s emphasis on secrecy comes and goes depending on the news. Reporters were immediately and endlessly briefed on the “secret” operation that successfully found and killed Osama bin Laden. And the drone program in Pakistan and Afghanistan comes to light in a very organized and systematic way every time there is a successful mission.

There is plenty of authorized leaking going on, but this particular boat leaks from the top. Leaks from the decks below, especially ones that might embarrass the administration, have been dealt with very differently.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Today's Posts

The Christian Warrior's Ascendant Future

"We may even now live in the half generation before all hell breaks loose, and if its fury is contained we will be remembered, if we are remembered at all, as those who used their hands and hearts and minds and very bodies to plug the dikes against impending doom."

(Carl F. Henry in Twilight of a Great Civilization, 1988)

For the Christian, a forgiven sinner who knows that his inheritance includes everlasting life, spiritual warfare is a critical, yet temporary, part of his existence. This struggle will not last much longer. 

Also, it is so important to remember that, using the power of the Holy Spirit, believers can endure even the toughest of trials and defeat even the most sinister of enemies: the princes and powers of the air, the temptations of our flesh and, eventually, even death itself.

But though the image of a valiant warrior who "goes down" fighting is certainly inspiring, it is incomplete. For the Christian who faithfully "goes down" fighting doesn't stay down. He is, in a twinkling of the eye, ascendant -- "going up" to enjoy forever his reunion, his reward and his Redeemer.

Let's allow Dr. Henry's exhortation to inspire us today to do our duty, to live joyfully, triumphantly in the light of our ascendant future.

America's Mistake-Prone Prez

Joe Biden's press release explained that his weekend plans included a trip to "Road Island."

No kidding. But don't worry, even this latest in Biden's long series of bonehead mistakes will not elicit endless giggling from the media as it would have done were it Gerald Ford or a Dan Quayle. After all, Joe Biden is a Democrat. And the faux pas, foibles and flim-flams of members of the progressive party are to be carefully overlooked by the press.

But that general rule is sometimes overlooked, especially in days like these where an administration has been so utterly feckless, hypocritical and bumbling as the one represented by Messrs Obama and Biden.

Want examples? Read through this compelling report from Matthew Continetti, "The Sloppy Incumbent."

Good stuff.

Caught on Tape: U.K. Doctors Performing Secret Sex-Selection Abortions

The Telegraph has uncovered film evidence of doctors agreeing to kill unborn girls -- because they're girls -- in clear defiance of British law.

Not to mention, in violation of all that's holy.

The video camera captures the whole damning scene. The abortionist is told by the couple acting undercover that they want an abortion because they know the fetus is female and "they can't handle that right now."

To which the woman abortionist replies, "No, no, I don't ask questions. If you want a termination, you want a termination. That's my job. That's all. I don't ask questions."

She is then shown instructing the abortionist who will actually carry out the fatal operation that the abortion will be categorized under "social reasons" although she knows all too well she is breaking the law by doing so. She explains also that there are to be no further tests done or questions asked.

View the video clip and the rest of the Telegraph story here.

U.S. Govt Protests Iran's Death Sentence on Christian Pastor

With inside reports suggesting that the execution orders have already been determined, it may be too little and too late that the White House and the U.S. State Department have now released statements calling for Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani’s immediate release from his Iranian persecutors.

Pastor Nadarkhani's crime? He trusted Jesus Christ as his Savior and he will not recant his belief.

Here's the White House statement:

The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms reports that Iranian authorities’ reaffirmed a death sentence for Iranian Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani for the sole reason of his refusal to recant his Christian faith. This action is yet another shocking breach of Iran’s international obligations, its own constitution, and stated religious values. The United States stands in solidarity with Pastor Nadarkhani, his family, and all those who seek to practice their religion without fear of persecution—a fundamental and universal human right. The trial and sentencing process for Pastor Nadarkhani demonstrates the Iranian government’s total disregard for religious freedom, and further demonstrates Iran's continuing violation of the universal rights of its citizens. The United States calls upon the Iranian authorities to immediately lift the sentence, release Pastor Nadarkhani, and demonstrate a commitment to basic, universal human rights, including freedom of religion. The United States renews its calls for people of conscience and governments around the world to reach out to Iranian authorities and demand Pastor Nadarkhani's immediate release.

Prayers for our persecuted brothers and sisters in the Faith must continue to be fervent, frequent and, whenever possible, connected with public advocacy.

It's the Nanny State vs the Citizens

Excuse me, but just which side in the culture wars is forcing it's ideology down the other's throat?

Barb Malek takes a look at 5 examples -- from just the last couple of days, no less -- in which the bully bureaucrats serving "progressive" government are robbing citizens of heretofore protected rights.

Planned Parenthood and the Girl Scouts: The Latest Flap

An Indiana state representative decides to opt out of a resolution honoring the Girl Scouts and the media goes bonkers. But Michael Fichter argues that the press has deliberately missed the point. Give a quick read to this very enlightening (and ultimately encouraging) post from Fichter's blog that I print below. (You might also check out Steven Ertelt's LifeNews column about new evidence that makes the Indiana state rep's action even more justified and this catch-all post from Vital Signs Blog about yet other reasons to be wary of the modern Girl Scouts.)

You would think that the world was close to coming to an end when Indiana state representative Bob Morris became the only legislator in the Indiana House to withhold his support for a resolution honoring the Girl Scouts of America. I saw the now-famous Morris letter days before Rachel Maddow, the Huffington Post, and CNN and it struck me as nothing more than a legislator who performed his due diligence in Googling the term Girl Scouts Planned Parenthood. (If you haven’t tried it, I suggest that you do.) What I didn’t expect was the giant sound of hyperventilation resonating from coast-to-coast. First it blew up on Twitter, then it blew up on cable, then it just blew up.

Overnight, Morris became the target of ridicule, misinformation and worse. Most assume it was because he impugned the reputation of the organization known for those famous cookies we’ve all enjoyed at one time or the other. But from a different view, I’m not so sure all of this noise is so much about the Girl Scouts as it is about – once again — Planned Parenthood.

It certainly isn’t about giving Morris a fair shake. In fact, in my limited Twitter stream I kept seeing news reporters making comments like “is this guy kidding”? Maybe the better question is: “why is this guy so concerned”? This lack of asking the right question has led every single report that I’ve read to overtly ignore the fact that former Girl Scouts of America CEO Kathy Cloninger stated on NBC’s Today Show that yes, the Girls Scouts partner with Planned Parenthood. That’s not urban legend, that’s YouTube.

Call me silly, but when a CEO says her organization partners with Planned Parenthood, I take it that her organization partners with Planned Parenthood.

So what does this all mean?

First, there are a boatload of reporters not doing the work required of serious journalists. Welcome to the real world.

Second, defenders of Planned Parenthood resent the implication that involvement with Planned Parenthood somehow makes the Girl Scouts or any other organization controversial.

Third, and perhaps most importantly to the life community, the outcome of all if this uproar is that Girls Scout councils will be much less inclined to partner, cooperate, or in any other way cozy up to Planned Parenthood after expending so much energy to deny any association. Parents will be watching, pro-life groups will be reporting, and future denials will be baseless if, indeed, we see more evidence surface such as a Girls Scout CEO acknowledging a partnership.

For Planned Parenthood – well, it just seems that the Girl Scouts is one more dance partner that doesn’t want to be seen holding hands in public.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Today's Posts

A Rosy Day

Abortion Shame? Not Very Often.

Remembering the CPC's Beginnings

A Rosy Day

Claire and I are off this morning to Council Bluffs where we will spend about 3 hours judging home-school kids who are engaging in a 5-state speech and debate contest. We've done this quite a few times over the years and always find it interesting and fun...sometimes even inspiring.

And, because the organizers keep asking us to help out, we do.

And then we will be staying over in the Bluffs for awhile as we present this month's edition of "When Swing Was King" to an audience at North Crest nursing home.

Then it's back to Omaha for a few other tasks before taking Allen and Cindy Nelson to dinner for her birthday.

A full day but I think it promises to be a rather rosy one too. And, yes, I did manage to get a couple of posts on the blog this morning which I think you will find of interest:

Abortion Shame? Not Very Often. 

Remembering the CPC's Beginnings

Check them out.

Abortion Shame? Not Very Often.

Among the common sights in those early days of our sidewalk counseling outside abortion clinics (we started in January 1983) were women trying to somehow sneak past us, crying, hiding their faces, making excuses or telling outright lies, and sometimes being enraged at our presence.

But all such reactions are very rare nowadays. For abortion has become, to so many Americans of child-bearing age, a completely conventional experience. Sure, the facts about abortion's risks to women are more widespread than ever. So too is the knowledge of the wondrous development of the human person inside the womb. And yes, the polls suggest that American youth are more pro-life than their parents' generation.

Nevertheless, those who head to the abortion clinic to get their "problem fixed" are largely untroubled by scientific facts, medical risks, moral corruption or even the fear of God. Not all of them, no. But we must honestly face the fact that most of these women (and men) know all too well that ending their pregnancy means killing their child -- but they don't care. Their lives are dominated by the self-interest of the immediate moment.

I'm well aware that pro-abortion spokespersons (and some pro-life leaders too) insist that every woman dealing with an unexpected pregnancy does so with careful deliberation amid anxiety, fear, and a moral debate with her conscience. But this just doesn't fit the facts. Not the facts that show that a high percentage of abortions in America are repeat abortions; that is, women having their second, third or more abortion.

And it doesn't fit the facts that a sidewalk counselor sees outside the abortion mills. For there we rarely see tears from an abortion client or any other indication that this is a traumatic, difficult, crisis situation for them. Instead of the crying, the shame, the excuses or even the guilty anger, the women going into the abortion centers where their preborn babies will be killed are doing their makeup, adjusting their clothes, laughing on their cell phones, or kissing their other child in the car seat before Daddy drives off.

Moral sensitivity is dying. Or dead altogether. Religious understanding is absent. And a commitment to career, leisure activities, body shape and material "stuff" leaves no room for the precious, innocent and miraculous baby she has conceived and is carrying.

It's not just the continuation of abortion in America that breaks my heart. It's that so much of America isn't even ashamed of it anymore.

Remembering the CPC's Beginnings

On Tuesday, Claire and I, joined by our guests Ralph and Carol Kramper, had a very pleasant lunch at Dolce Cafe, the new restaurant on West Maple that we have frequented since its opening last summer -- and which has turned out to be a real hit with the general public too. The place is run by an old friend, Gina Sterns, and we're very happy for her success.

After finishing lunch, the four of us had a brief conversation with Gina. She hadn't seen the Krampers for an awful long time and it was neat to see them catching up a bit. Indeed, the sight of them talking together made my mind race back over the years to another time we had all been together; namely, the very first counselor training classes for the AAA Center for Pregnancy Counseling.

That would have been in June of 1986. Yipes -- time goes quickly.

Gina, a registered nurse, was part of our first group of CPC counselors along with Claire, Barb Malek, Chris Schlesiger, Winnie Kaipust, Mary Roberts, Bev Weis, Theresa Hall, Pam Nissen and many others who I can't recall right now. And teaching those first training sessions (which were held at a small auditorium at Creighton Prep High School) were Dr. Kramper, Bob Hayes, Grace Sondermeier, Tom Sanderson and the insiders: Chris and Winnie, and me.

Our time at Dolce's prompted a lot of memories of those early times and, throughout the day, we were reminiscing about God's grace to us all in getting the CPC started. But then that night, at a letter-writing party over at the Coppi's, we had a reunion with another couple who were also very involved in the CPC's beginnings, Jim and Marsha Kunz. And that stimulated a whole batch of new memories, especially about the amateur renovations required of the space we rented at 78th and Dodge.

We were so green, so inexperienced and yet so hopeful and dedicated. Vital Signs Ministries (then called the Omaha Christian Action Council) had desperately tried to get others involved in starting a Christ-centered crisis pregnancy center because our hands were full with so many other responsibilities. But after our calls for action, our pastor's luncheons, and our public meetings had failed to bring new leaders into action, we knew we would have to take on the immense task ourselves.

And here it is, more than 25 years later, with the AAA CPC standing as one of the most brilliant Christian ministries in the Heartland.

It was great to go down memory lane a bit. In one day, Claire and I had touched base with 5 other volunteers from the AAA CPC's very first days and, in doing so, we were transported back in time to remember the amazing miracles that our Lord performed among us to lift that ministry into existence.

And we were, of course, also moved to thank God for the miracles that have continued to be the daily fruit of that fabulous life-saving ministry. How it has grown! How it has been protected and blessed! And how it has proven to be such a powerful, enriching and glorious ministry for the Lord Jesus over the years.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Today's Posts

"How Can Our Church Partner with Vital Signs Ministries?"

Below I print a letter I wrote yesterday responding to a friend who asked me, "How can our church partner with Vital Signs Ministries?"

Dear __________,

Thanks so much for your interest.  Among the various ways local church congregations can interact with Vital Signs Ministries, these top the list.

1) Local church participation in the key “calendar”pro-life events: Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, the Walk for Life in Lincoln, the Life Chain, and the AAA Center for Pregnancy Counseling fund-raising banquet. Yes, I know that these events are not specifically Vital Signs activities but we think they are indispensable to a local congregation’s identification as a pro-life church.  They are crucial too as a public witness against the ongoing wickedness of abortion, as a way to demonstrate clearly to a watching world that serious pro-life convictions are not confined to Roman Catholicism.  Vital Signs, of course, can help with information about these events and even with the provision of SOHLS bulletin inserts and posters.

2) The prayer presence at the abortion centers.  Currently, the Vital Signs team goes to the Planned Parenthood abortion business on north 93rd on the first and third Wednesday mornings of the month and the second and fourth Saturday mornings of the month.  The Wednesday time is from 8-9:30 and the Saturday time is from 10-11.

3) We heartily encourage local churches to create their own letter-writing outreach as one of the ways in which they lift up the standard of righteousness in the public square.  Vital Signs is more than happy to bring its 30 years of experience in such ministry to help get such a thing going.  An effective letter-writing outreach helps disciple believers, increases the power of a winsome witness and helps the local church define itself as a place where holiness, justice and truth-telling are seriously honored.  From providing action alerts, contact information, letter-writing tips and even hosting a kickoff letter-writing event, Vital Signs is ready to lend a hand to local congregations developing their own ongoing program.

4) Every month Vital Signs Ministries presents its unique program of “When Swing Was King” to audiences in at least 10 nursing homes and assisted living centers.  Combining big band music, interesting commentary, and a Power Point slide presentation which utilizes 160-180 photographs per volume, “When Swing Was King” provides a wonderful tour down memory lane which has proven exceptionally popular with the residents of these facilities.  However, this outreach is even more effective with the involvement of outside visitors who can help escort the senior citizens to and from the program as well as visiting with them before and after.  The “When Swing Was King” schedule is posted every month on the Vital Signs Ministries website.

5) Finally, here is a “catch-all” category in which I’ll mention a few extra ways in which local churches, families and individuals can partner with Vital Signs.  Prayers are always in order for our various ministries including such things that I hadn’t yet mentioned like our Russian-language website and Vital Signs Blog.  Extremely helpful too are financial donations, the promotion of Vital Signs Blog which gives crucial updates on the culture wars every weekday, participation in discipleship activities like our Book It! reading discussions, and support of other key ministries we work closely with: the AAA Center for Pregnancy Counseling, Nebraskans Against Planned Parenthood and the Nebraska Coalition for Ethical Research.

Again, thanks so much for your ongoing encouragement of our work.  We deeply appreciate it.  And we hope outlining the above ideas will help create stronger bonds between Vital Signs and ____________ Church.



A Perspective on Homicide Rates

Last night, while reading Erle Stanley Gardner's 1938 The Case of the Shoplifter's Shoe, I was struck by Perry Mason's lament over the L.A. homicide rate of the time. And it got me wondering a bit about modern homicide rates in the City of Angels...and elsewhere.

What I found was most disconcerting for not only did I see the murder rates were much higher than those Perry Mason bemoaned, they were much higher than what I had dared to imagine.

Yes, there has been a dramatic decline in the homicide rate of Los Angeles since its peak during the gang wars of the late 1980s.

And yes, the city's current homicide rate is far below that of many other "major" American cities. The 2010 figures, for instance, stood at 7.6 murders per 100,000 residents. That's awfully ugly but it will surprise many to learn that's virtually the same murder rate as suffered by Phoenix, Tampa, Charlotte, Toeldo and Omaha.

But here are the homicide rates per 100,000 citizens of a few other cities: which may well affect your travel plans in future months: Chicago (15.2), Milwaukee (15.5), Atlanta (17.3), Pittsburgh (17.6), Cleveland (19), Philadelphia (19.6), Cincinnati (20.5), Buffalo (20.7), Kansas City (21.1), Washington D.C. (21.9), Oakland (22), Newark (32.1), Detroit (34.5), Baltimore (34.8), St. Louis (40.5), and New Orleans (49.1).

Still keen on Mardi Gras?

The causes of this tragic state are many, of course.  They include the removal of God from education and the public square; the breakdown of the family; the wild escalation of drug use; the inevitable erosion of a sanctity of life ethic brought on by legalized abortion; the assault on traditional moral values from the media; and the utter failure of the justice system which coddles criminals and actually encourages greater lawlessness.

Perry Mason would be stunned...and saddened. And so should you and I.

Responding with Letters...and Prayer

We were invited to a special letter-writing evening down at Quint & Carol Coppis' home in Papillion last night. It was organized as a response to the upcoming resolution of the Omaha City Council which would grant special privileges in the workplace for persons identifying themselves as homosexual, bisexual, etc.

Our letters to the 7 Council members urged them to vote against this resolution. We emphasized that, given existing law which ably protects persons from unjust discrimination, the new resolution's goals were clearly unnecessary and, to say the least, morally problematic.

The new resolution isn't about justice; it's political theater.

The Coppi's are experienced at the letter-writing game and had everything laid out for a precise, prayerful evening. But, honestly, it's not that hard a thing to get going and they would be the first to urge you to do the same. They invited friends from their church (and us), provided stamps and stationery, and served coffee and cookies as a treat after we were done.

And we deserved those cookies too. For within 90 minutes, the ten of us had produced over 70 courteous, handwritten letters.

Your letters to the Omaha City Council are in order too, of course. See this Vital Signs post for more info as well as a contact page --- and this post for some tips on letter-writing itself.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

No Blogging Today?

No excuses for not blogging this morning? Well, actually, I do have a few.

First, I had a morning meeting over at Scooter's to talk to a local pastor about Vital Signs helping his church get started in a letter-writing ministry...Then I wrote a lengthy reply to a letter which ended up being expanded into an article for more general readers...Then I joined Claire for an early lunch over at Dolce in which we had a great time catching up with our dear friends Dr. Ralph and Carol Kramper...Then we had to get ready for a letter-writing meeting tonight over at Quint & Carol Coppi's house for couples from their church...

Okay, okay. You get the idea.

Blogging resumes tomorrow.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Today's Posts

Tips on Letter Writing

With the luxury of fast communication that telephones, faxes, E-mail, and so on, have provided our society, we have almost lost the art of letter-writing altogether. Yet however much technology has improved communication “speed," nothing has replaced the peculiar power of the personal letter to influence individuals and even organizations. It is only one tool in the arsenal of persuasion available to the Christian who understands his obligation to, as the Bible describes it, "strengthen the things that remain", but letter-writing is a powerful one that we cannot afford to neglect. The following list of simple “do’s and don'ts” is given with the hope that it will help you sharpen your letter-writing skills, to sharpen your pencil, and to start writing for the causes that are important in the kingdom of God.  Let's get started!

        1) Write! Personal letters can have far more influence than most people realize. It is true that politicians, for instance, once received mountains of mail every day (though not nearly so much any more) but very little of that mail was composed of personal letters.  Furthermore, there are plenty of “targets” besides politicians to which your heartfelt letters can influence. These include business executives and program sponsors who are sometimes quite responsive to your personal letters advocating the right side of moral issues.

        Keep in mind that being unable to type is no excuse for not writing nor is being without a fancy word processor on your computer. Why? Because neatly handwritten letters on inexpensive paper carry just as much influence (and sometimes more!) as typewritten letters printed on fancy stationery do.  You don't need to have a title or a letterhead to make an impact.  You don't need to be especially eloquent or profound.  All the Lord asks of you is to raise your voice for His righteousness and justice.  If you're sincere and doing such service for the right motivations, your letter-writing will undoubtedly have God's blessing resting on your efforts. You can count on it!

       2) Focus on only one or two ideas in your letter; otherwise you decrease the force of your presentation. It is best to state your purpose at the beginning of the letter and then, if desired, expand it a bit further in the rest of the letter.  Yes, you may have several items on your mind but it's most effective to concentrate on one alone.  The other topics can be the topic of additional communications.

       3) Be personal. Be yourself. Form letters may have their place but they are much less effective than a sincere argument from your heart. (If you doubt me, just remember what you do with junk mail!) Sure, it’s great to have your facts straight and to show a knowledge of your subject, but don’t be fooled into thinking that you must be a “professional” with huge piles of data at your fingertips. Your honest voice as a citizen, a consumer, an interested party counts much more than you might guess -- so write!

       4) Generally speaking, your letter should be no more than 300 words or so. The briefest letters are most often the ones that are read! Try to keep your letter on a single page. Do not sacrifice clarity for the sake of brevity, but remember that long letters are more likely to be set aside than brief ones that quickly communicate their point.

        5) Be courteous. Avoid libelous language or uselessly provocative “posing”. It is true that you will often be dealing with emotional issues, but always be fair and factual. A positive-sounding letter is much more likely to influence a person than one that begins, “Hey, you fraud! I know you won’t pay any attention to this but....” One can make a clear point of disagreement in a letter without having to be rude; in fact, I'm convinced that the point of opposition packs much more of a punch when the letter's recipient cannot find fault with your manners.

        6) Be specific. Don’t assume that the recipient of your letter is as well informed as you are about a specific issue. Ask relevant questions and urge specific actions. (e.g. “Senator, will you oppose this bill...?” or “Mister Jones, will you please stop sponsoring this anti-family program?” or “Reverend, could we please invite Mrs. Smith from the pregnancy aid center to speak to our church?”)

       7) Take advantage of the team.  Many Christian advocacy organizations offer terrific assistance for people just like you who are tired of merely complaining about things and have decided to take effective action!  Web sites, periodicals, and radio programs – all of these are really quite rich with information related to issues of faith and family that are of great concern to you. So...get well acquainted with them.  Many have specific "Action Alert" sections to help you raise your voice in a timely, informed way.  (One of them, by the way, is Vital Signs Ministries.)

       8) As a general rule, I suggest you consider the “once-a-month" limit.   Seasoned political activists, for instance, suggest that you write no more than once a month to any one congressman or senator.  I heartily agree with that advice.  This way you can help to avoid being treated as a troublesome “pen pal" and instead create more interest for the specific issues you're raising in your occasional letters.

       9) Where appropriate, you may want to enclose copies of relevant articles or fact sheets.  Perhaps your congressman really is unaware of certain information that is relevant to his making up his mind on an issue. Does he need to read an article, which counters the mainstream media regarding the links between abortion and breast cancer, for instance?  Okay. Simply send along some credible information for him to digest. In other cases, an enclosure can also be effective to alert the letter's recipient that a larger audience is following an issue.  Thus, an editorial, magazine column or a transcript of a radio program might be sent along with your letter, making it a very effective reminder that others agree with you in the issues you're raising.

       10) Don’t forget the special forum presented by the “Letters to the Editor” section in newspapers and magazines. Did you know that the “Letters” section is the second most widely read of any in the paper? It is well worth your while to send your letters to these important “targets” also.

       11) Letters which concern a specific piece of legislation should include both its number and subject matter to avoid the recipients confusing it with a similar bill.

       12) Include your name and address on both the letter and the envelope.

       13) Don't be afraid to send your letters to elected officials of all kinds. Your mayor or school board member may think that abortion issues, for example, are out of his or her arena, but it is a good thing nevertheless for them to be reminded of the tremendous value of the pro-life cause which is in the hearts of their constituents. Yes, letters to political figures are sometimes only are read by staff assistants, but some are usually passed along. And, even when they're not, don't forget that someone is making sure to tally the “For” and “Against” regarding the issue your letter raises! Finally, don't neglect the opportunity to tackle more than your own congressman on certain matters. If you send letters to several elected officials you just may have more chances of getting through to someone who will start the ball rolling.

       14) Proof-read your letter. You want it to be as clear and convincing as possible...and relatively free of major gaffes.

       15) Follow up! A call, a note, or even a subsequent letter lets the recipient know that your letter was not just a knee-jerk response. It reminds him or her that you are very serious about the issue. I have sometimes responded to a form letter response by sending a copy of my first letter, pointing out that my specific questions were not addressed or that the points of my argument were ignored. That technique has proven pretty effective.  And don't forget also to be sure to write a thank you letter when public officials and others do the right things! This is positive reinforcement of the most-needed sort.

       16) Last, but certainly not least, PRAY! Pray for wisdom as you write your letter; pray that it is safely delivered; pray that it gets to the person who most needs to read it; and pray for God to move the hearts and change minds. Remember --- “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, like the rivers of water; He turns it wherever He wishes.” (Proverbs 21:1) And “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (James 5:16)  Thus motivated, informed, and equipped, your letters are going to truly make a difference.  So, don't put it off; pour the coffee and sit down at your writing table.  Someone is waiting to hear from you today!

Is Obama's War on Religion His Biggest Mistake?

Welcome to the real ObamaCare, whereby a handful of leftists in Washington, D.C., impose the views of their big-money donors on more than 300 million Americans. If the Obama mandate for contraception remains intact, then liberals will next demand that Americans pay for other objectionable items that are not really medical care.

We can expect future mandates, under the guise of "health care," to include sex-change operations, late-term abortions, embryonic stem-cell use and a variety of other procedures that many Americans do not support and certainly do not want to be compelled to foot the bill for. Obama's directive for abortifacient drugs opens a slippery slope that would erode the moral authority of religious institutions in America.

Obama and the liberals have overplayed their hand. By baring their teeth, these lackeys for the Left have awakened Democratic voters to the real contempt that liberals hold for religious values...

As always, you can count on Phyllis Schlafly to explain precisely and persuasively the nature of the problem. Read her full column ("Obama's War on Religious Liberty") right here.

The Cuban Government Is Not to Blame -- Ever

Those of you who have the e-mail addresses of Oliver Stone and Sean Penn might want to forward to them this little snapshot of life in the worker's paradise.

In the Havana neighborhood of El Cerro, an outbreak of Dengue Fever (a dreadful disease carried by the Aedes Aegipty mosquito which, of course, can also carry an even more sinister disease, Yellow Fever) is being blamed on the lack of preventative efforts by citizens.

Because in a Communist police state like Cuba, the government will never admit to any error, any inefficiency, any injustice -- no matter how egregious and obvious they may be.

Here, from a letter provided by Translating Cuba, is a more accurate picture of the problem.

If [bureaucrats] demand people do this and not some other thing, what’s the role of the government in keeping things clean, dealing with the leaks in the pipes and the sewers, the accumulation of public waste. And then sometimes sending the local delegate to get the community started on the so-called “piece-of-junk plan” (which is really the “do-it-yourself plan”), which sometimes takes months and in desolate places even years, in the meantime making it a great place for larvae hatcheries.

What happens is that the people see what’s going on, the filthiness of the streets, the abandonment of the city on the part of the government, which makes people give up on controlling the epidemic if, in the end, whatever they do is in vain because the most guilty, and the greatest hatchery creators are them, the leaders.

Mitt Romney Is Losing Previous Supporters

"Mitt Romney is trying to portray himself as a generic Republican, and I think a lot of Republicans regard him as a resident alien in the conservative movement, not as a full-fledged citizen.” (John J. Pitney Jr..)

"With the exception of Mr. McCain, no other front-runner has been so weak this deep in the race. Part of the problem is the number of people who voted for Mr. Romney four years ago but cannot bring themselves to do it again."

This Washington Times story ("Romney Shows Trouble Keeping Supporters from 2008") makes for scary reading -- unless you are a Republican who is hoping for a brokered convention.

And with the poor field that has "survived" the campaign process so far, there are more Republicans engaging in such hope every day.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Today's Posts

"Even the Sad Memories Are Important To Me"

At yesterday's presentation of "When Swing Was King" at the Life Care Center out in Elkhorn, we were given the same warm reception that always comes our way. The residents just love hearing the music of their youth; they really get into the pictures and commentary we provide; and they relish that someone comes to bring them something they yet treasure.

One lady was wiping away tears at the conclusion of the program and was being comforted by her friend (also sitting in a wheelchair) next to her side. The friend asked, "Did the songs bring back sad memories, hon?" To which the lady replied, "Yes, but a lot of good ones too. And even the sad ones are very important to me." She went on to tell us of many years of dancing with her husband at the Music Box and Peony Park to the same bands that we feature in the program. "Oh, we loved each other so. And we loved to dance." Her husband was a veteran who had given 20 years to the Navy. "All those pictures you showed of handsome sailors - my, my, it reminded me so of how he looked in uniform. That was so nice. Thank you so much for coming back and giving us the chance to recall those wonderful times."

This month's presentation is certainly a strong one for eliciting memories of romance. For among the more peppy songs (like Benny Goodman's "Don't Be That Way," Judy Garland's "The Trolley Song," and Glenn Miller's "Pennsylvania 6-5000"), we have a bunch of very sweet love songs: "Deep Purple" by the Larry Clinton Orchestra (vocals by Bea Wain) (it's Clinton's picture that is above left), "It's Been a Long, Long Time" by the Harry James band (vocals by Kitty Kallen), "Till Then" by the Mills Brothers, "Dream a Little Dream of Me" by the Ozzie Nelson Orchestra, "Stardust" by Artie Shaw, and "Satin Doll" by Duke Ellington. And this program includes the newest song we've ever done for "When Swing Was King." It's a version of "Cha Cha d' Amor" as only Dean Martin could sing it. And it's only 50 years old!

Because the activities director (the assistant AD, actually) was on her own yesterday, Claire and I helped to bring residents down to the event and escort them back to their rooms. It gave us even more time to visit than usual which was great. We were also impressed with a lady who was visiting a friend who came in to watch the program with her. She loved the show (she herself is a senior citizen) but what thrilled us was how she helped everyone around her get into the "swing" of things. Her contagious laugh, her pointing out details in the pictures ("Goodness, look at that hat!"), her whispered asides to draw others into the program -- she was terrific and really enriched the experience of those around her.  It reminded Claire and I of what a valuable ministry it could be for you, your church friends, or your kids to come along with us occasionally and be a part of this exciting, heart-warming outreach.

How about it? You'll find the schedule on the Vital Signs Ministries website.

J.C. Penney and "Wipeout" Decide to Promote Homosexuality

There were two very disturbing, disappointing developments last week for our household. One concerned a business that Claire has enjoyed for many years. Indeed, J.C. Penney has provided more of our clothes and home furnishings than any other store chain -- by far. And the other concerned the only network television show that Claire and I watched. With the dramatic moral devolution of television in general and the fact that we do not subscribe to cable or satellite services, our choices for television viewing had all but dried up in recent years. Except for "Wipeout," the boisterous, bouncy obstacle course program created by ABC. We watched that every Thursday night we could.

But with the recent decisions of J.C. Penney and "Wipeout" to promote homosexuality as an appropriate and reasonable lifestyle, when it is actually a sexual perversion that the Bible refers to as an unnatural abomination before God, Claire and I have broken from both. In the case of J.C. Penney, it was their move to select as their new national spokesperson, Ellen DeGeneres, America's most famous lesbian. And with "Wipeout," it was their Valentine's edition which included among the "loving couples" that competed, two male homosexuals whose first appearance showed them holding hands, jumping up and down, and chanting "gay, gay, gay."

When such things happen, we try and make principled choices, choices that reflect our honor of God's Word and which keep as clear as possible our consciences. That means we act...and we tell. And among those we tell are those who have overstepped the moral boundaries. So below I print the letters Claire wrote to both businesses explaining why they have lost our patronage.

On ABC's website, Claire registered this complaint:

“'Wipeout'” was the one TV show that my husband and I watched on a weekly basis.  But because of your Valentine’s Day show last week, we will no longer watch the program.  During a family hour show, you purposefully shoved into our homes a gay couple as if they were just like all the other couples in the competition.  Sadly, they are not.  I am greatly disappointed with TV shows irresponsibly portraying gay coupling as normal and fine when the realities of homosexual activity present something quite different: the sexual diseases, the true moral guilt, the rebellion against self and the God of creation, the negative impact on culture. 'Wipeout' has clearly decided which side it is on in the culture wars -- and it isn't the side which extols the virtues of Judeo-Christian civilization. On Thursday nights now, we will be reading. And that, of course, means we will not be seeing any of the commercials that help keep ABC in business."

And this is the note she penned to explain our boycott of J.C. Penney.

"I have been shopping at J.C. Penney (both in store and online) for decades.  I liked your prices, quality and wide selection of all types of merchandise.  I also liked how J.C Penney hadn’t gone over the top with outlandish clothes or promotions.  They were always the store to rely on for what I needed.  But since you have recently made Ellen DeGeneres your national spokesperson (knowing full well of her lifestyle, her lesbian 'marriage,' and her zealous promotion of such horrors as abortion), I will no longer be shopping at your stores.  Ellen does not represent the American woman, the American family or traditional values -- those very values which were held so firmly by your company's founder and which were the foundation of Western civilization. Your move was muddle-headed and counter-productive but, despite immediate protests, you insist the company will stand its ground and keep DeGeneres as the new 'face' of J.C. Penney. Therefore, I will no longer patronize your business in any way and I'll encourage family, friends and fellow church members to do the same."

Claire sent this letter via the J.C. Penney website AND to their postal address: J C Penney Corporation, Inc Corporate Office | Headquarters
6501 Legacy Dr. Plano, TX 75024

Back in the Day

Last night I posted on my Facebook page a video clip of Barbara Lewis appearing on Shindig in 1964 singing her hit song "Make Me Your Baby." With a wry smile I accompanied the clip with this bit of commentary -- "This one by Miss Lewis takes me back to a junior high school party in Golden, Colorado and slow dancing with the lovely D.R. But alas, her older brother didn't care for me and our relationship, as they say, ended before it began. Now that I think about it, I was rarely liked by parents, older siblings, principals, Lakewood police, etc. I wonder why?"

I knew that wry smile would be repeated on the faces of my FB friends who knew me back in the day. But I was delighted at the additional remarks Claire dropped in later: "However, after Denny’s conversion to Christianity, we met one of his high school principals who had also become a Christian. They got along quite well then. Jesus makes a huge difference!"

Yes, He does.

Omaha's City Council & the LGBT Resolution

Dave Gehrls, who is with Christ For The City, has described some hopeful developments regarding the Omaha City Council's expected vote on the same special rights for "LGBT" persons that was so narrowly defeated last year.

Dave mentions the substitute resolution which was introduced by City Councilpersons Jean Stothert, Thomas Mulligan and Garry Gernandt which expressed a general support of inclusive workplaces. It passed unanimously. However,  Councilman Ben Gray has said that he will still press for his "Equal Employment Ordinance" on the 28th with a public hearing on March 6th and a vote as soon as March 13th.

Dave points out that Gray's intransigence proves that his version is focused on garnering special attention (and special privileges) to the LGBT "community." But the passage of the other resolution gives Council members a responsible out from Gray's pressure. Also, the Chamber of Commerce, which was leaning towards supporting Gray's ordinance, might now see that they also took the high road by already supporting the Stothert resolution.

Prayers and letters and phone calls are still desperately needed. Here is the City Council page for contact information.

LB 540: Better But Still Not Good

Greg Schleppenbach, our good friend who directs the pro-life activities of the Nebraska Catholic Conference, passes along this important item.

In my last update I urged you to contact your state senator in opposition to LB 540, a bill that would expand taxpayer funding (Medicaid) for birth control.  Thank you for all who responded to the action alert.  The bill was debated last week and although the bill did advance to the second round of debate, Sen. Tony Fulton succeeded in attaching an amendment to the bill which prohibits funding under this bill from going to "any entity that performs or promotes elective abortion services or with any entity that affiliates with any entity that performs or promotes elective abortion services."  This provision would ensure that Planned Parenthood and any other abortionist in Nebraska does not get funding under this bill.

The bill still has to go through two more votes and although Sen. Fulton's amendment addresses a big concern about the bill, the Nebraska Catholic Conference still opposes the bill and will continue to try to defeat it.  LB 540 and the Fulton amendment can be seen on the Legislature's website: LB 540.  My column on this bill can be seen here: Life Insights, How Not to Reduce Abortions. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Today's Posts

Looking for Good Books?

Except for sermon preparation and a few pleasure reads (Jonathan Gash and Ngiao Marsh mystery novels), I've concentrated my reading in the last 6 weeks on 3 excellent books (and one other one that I'd rate pretty good) dealing with World War II. I thought I'd take a few minutes and give you a "heads up" about them...

Read my whole column over on The Book Den on this subject. It contains brief reviews that I think you'll find interesting of Jeff Shaara's The Final Storm: A Novel of the War in the Pacific, Bob Greene's Once Upon a Town: The Miracle of the North Platte Canteen, Andrew Roberts' The Storm of War: A New History of the Second World War and What If? Strategic Alternatives of WW II.

There's also a fascinating video clip embedded there showcasing a conversation between Peter Robinson and Andrew Roberts.

Smiles Can Make All the Difference

Yesterday was a hectic day but, thankfully, one which was rich in smiles to help us through.

There were, for instance, numerous smiles from people driving by as we carried our our pro-life baby signs in front of Planned Parenthood's grisly abortion business. As tough a duty as that always is, those smiles do help. I especially treasured the ones from a pretty Asian girl woman driving her SUV and her daughter in the back seat (maybe 7) who smiled and waved for all she was worth. They provided a wonderful sanity check and spiritual encouragement.

There were others too throughout the day which provided the same things. The smile Quint Coppi had when he talked about a book we had given him, a childhood favorite about Alaskan sled dogs that he had read again after 70 years and found immensely enjoyable. The smile Claire gave me when she saw I was getting along (fairly) comfortably with the new Mac. The smiles we got from the residents of Autumn Pointe, the nursing home in Ft. Calhoun, after we had finished the "When Swing Was King" there.

Oh yes, smiles can make a tremendous difference in improving one's quality of life -- the one receiving the smiles and the one providing them too. So, brush up on your smile skills and use them liberally throughout the day. You'll see what I mean.

Breast Cancer Survivor (And Pro-Life Heroine) Speaks About Komen Scandal

...What happened to Komen's stated priority to fund direct providers of breast screening services, such as mammography clinics? Who knows? Planned Parenthood affiliates are just a pass-through for the mammography funding, which has to be reimbursed to actual mammography providers.

This was never about the money for Planned Parenthood, a billion-dollar industry by its own annual report. This was about losing the stamp of approval from Komen and its massive following among cancer charities. Komen made grants of $3 million to Planned Parenthood affiliates from 2004 to 2009. However, just one quarter of all Komen's breast cancer screening grants went to Planned Parenthood. In 2011, $680,000 in Komen funds went to 19 Planned Parenthood affiliates. That is a drop in the bucket for an entity that deals in millions of dollars.

I am not immune to the concerns that grip a breast cancer patient upon diagnosis and eventual surgery and treatment. It's hard enough to get through when you are fully insured and have support in place, much less for women who have no insurance or are underinsured and may not have a network of family and friends supporting them.

However, the mantra that emanated from so many in my sisterhood of survivors that Planned Parenthood is a vital player in breast cancer screening and awareness rings hollow when there are thousands of federally qualified public health centers that are not in the abortion business but are providing services to women who fall through the gap created because of being low income and/or having inadequate insurance.

For Komen to now say it needs to de-politicize its  grant process is really grating, considering that Komen politicized its process from the moment it  started funding Planned Parenthood years ago. Komen needlessly ostracized pro-life Americans from the get-go. For those few days when it had pulled back from Planned Parenthood, Komen CEO Nancy Brinker admitted that the donations had shot up 100 percent. I would submit that was because of thousands of pro-lifers showing their support to Komen.

Now, with Komen's re-alignment with Planned Parenthood, pro-lifers will continue to support alternative breast cancer charities that have no ties to abortion. And I will continue not buying pink Komen items and declining invitations to walk in its Race For The Cure...

Read the whole of Julie Schmit-Albin's compelling op/ed column from the Lincoln Star-Journal right here.

Not Everyone Is Going to the After-Life Party

After the avant-garde fashion queen Zelda Kaplan died as models paraded down a catwalk during NYC's Fashion Week, a society photographer quipped, "“I will truly miss her. But [I'll] look forward to seeing her again in the great nightclub she will be hosting called after-life.”


Despite the clear and unequivocal teaching of the Holy Bible that only believers in Jesus Christ, those who have had the penalty of their sins paid for by the gracious sacrifice of Jesus, will go to heaven when they die with all others going to the desperate horrors which mark Hell, moderns continue to act as if everybody is guaranteed (by their own merits) to move on to a paradise of their particular choosing: golf courses, tropical islands, NASCAR races or fashionable cocktail parties.

But as the demon Mephistopheles told Faustus when the hedonistic doctor mocked the existence of hell, "Ay, think so still -- till experience change thy mind."

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Today's Posts

A Full (And Varied) Day

On the street. In the nursing home. At the computer. At the doctor's. In the gym.

It's a busy day.

We started off with praying outside the Planned Parenthood abortion mill this morning -- Claire and I, Carol Moran and Quint Coppi. We did a bit of sidewalk counseling with the few who briefly parked in front (they are directed by signs, security guards and phone calls to go round the back where we do not have any access) so it's really difficult in this place.

We were encouraged, however, by the increased goodwill we are getting from those driving by. We feel quite certain this is not only a reflection on our demeanor and our winsome baby signs and banners, but also the continued exposure of Planned Parenthood to the American public. The many scandals surrounding this wicked business still haven't received proper treatment from the mainstream media but the news is getting around anyhow. More and more people are learning about the numbers of abortions, the percentage of PP's business that abortion represents, the criminal activities and coverups, the huge amounts of government money they receive, the sleazy sex ed materials they distribute to kids, etc.

The light is finally beginning to shine on Planned Parenthood. And people are not liking what they see.

After we got home, Claire headed off to a doctor's appointment as she tries to get this acid reflux thing under some control. It's been two weeks since our emergency visit to the ER but she is still dealing with a lot of discomfort and sometimes some very tough pain.

While she's seeing Ralph Kramper (our physician and dear friend), I'm doing a bit of blogging. And, for the first time, I'm doing it completely on our new Mac. It's coming along a lot easier than I expected (though I'm going to need some practice and a bigger keyboard) but I'm pretty pleased. That's really good too because my downstairs computer was hit yet again last night with a particularly nasty virus, shutting the whole thing down. And I think this time, it's for good.

If you would have asked me last night about the deal, I would have told you I knew how Elvis must have felt when he shot out TV screens. In fact, I'm still not beyond thinking about it.

Anyhow, when Claire gets back we will have just enough time to shower and get ready for a "When Swing Was King" presentation up in Fort Calhoun. And, when we get back to Omaha, we will make a trip to the library, have dinner together, get in a session at the gym, and try to figure out the Mac's e-mail procedures. Also, the project I was working on last night when the computer was hijacked was a brand new edition of "When Swing Was King" and I had figured out a couple of cool new tricks to speed up my creation of these new programs. I hope to transfer that all over to the Mac tonight as well and get back to where I was.

A full (and I sure hope) a useful day.

Planned Parenthood Staffer Claims PP Cheated the Government

What? $100 million a year from the American taxpayers isn't enough? Planned Parenthood has to defraud the government for yet more dough? Good grief.

Jessica Cooley, a reporter for the The Lufkin (Texas) News has the scoop.

Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast is a defendant in a federal lawsuit after a former Lufkin clinic employee alleged a multi-million-dollar billing scheme.

The complaint names Karen Reynolds as the whistle-blower in the allegations brought against her former employer of 10 years.

The updated complaint, filed in October 2011, alleges that while Reynolds was employed as a health center assistant, she was instructed by the organization to maximize billing revenue when the government was fitting the bill through Medicaid and the Women’s Health Program.

She claims this was the procedure in all 12 Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast locations across Texas and Louisiana.

The suit alleges that, in addition to falsifying patient records, billing the government for unwarranted services and services not covered by Medicaid, Planned Parenthood tacked on services patient did not receive.

An example given in the suit is Medicaid being billed for birth control counseling. The suit states almost all Women’s Health Program and Medicaid patients were handed a bag of at least two birth control devices despite the fact the items were not needed or requested by the patient.

“Pursuant to corporate policy and instructions from clinical directors, after merely handing the patient a bag of condoms and vaginal film on the way out the door, clinic employees then entered billing codes to be submitted to the government” at an average billed cost of $57.85.

If Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast loses the case set for trial in April 2013, Reynolds, the federal government and the state of Texas will be owed a sum of money by the corporation known for family planning and women’s health issues.

Reynold’s attorney Mike Love said the case is in its early stage. While he said he was reluctant to comment on the case due to its magnitude, Love said on the behalf of his client, “if an entity is not billing properly, it doesn’t matter if it’s Planned Parenthood, a large hospital facility or a local doctor’s office — fraud is fraud.”

Fortenberry et al Challenge Obama's War on Religion

The press thinks, and Democrats hope, the controversy surrounding President Obama’s contraception mandate issue has dissipated.

It hasn’t.

Jill Stanek reports on a hopeful meeting today of 50 Congressional representatives who are standing up for legislation that opposes Barack Obama's war on religion. Specifically, the bill would protect the religious liberty and conscience rights of every American who objects to being forced by an immoral Nanny State  to pay for abortion drugs and procedures -- abortion drugs and procedures that were recently mandated by the Obama administration's HHS Department.

Among those meeting is the sponsor of the House measure, Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska. Others scheduled to be there include Lee Terry. Way to go, guys.

Obama's Tragic Naiveté Towards Communist China

Let's make sure we add these things up correctly, okay?

First, let's take President Barack Obama's decision to slash America's military budget -- while escalating yet further the spending which goes to the welfare state. Obama's program will reduce American nuclear warheads to considerably less than those possessed by Russia and even less than Communist China.

Yes, this is the same belligerent Communist China that enslaves workers, forces abortion and sterilization on her subjects, brutally persecutes Christians and others of conscience, and engages in constant espionage against America's government and private businesses. The same Communist China who Barack Obama gleefully praised yesterday for its "peaceful rise" and its "help to bring stability and prosperity to the world."

That praise, by the way, came just days after the Chinese government cancelled a scheduled meeting with Suzan Johnson Cook, the U.S. ambassador at large for international religious freedom, who wanted to talk over China's abysmal record of human rights abuses.

So what does it add up to?

For the sake of America's security, for the sake of America's international reputation, and for the sake of America's crucial responsibilities to raise the banners of liberty and justice in meaningful ways...we desperately need to elect a new President next November.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Today's Posts

You Can't Beat Fact Checking

Instead of watching CNN or the networks, take a little time to read through some fact-based content about the issues of the day. Here's a few recommendations.

* James Pethokoukis on President Obama's outrageous, unworkable "class warfare" budget.

* Mike Brownfield, "Obama’s Continuing Assault on the Constitution."

* Peter Sprigg, writing for Family Research Council, "Ninth Circuit Marriage Decision: 'Take This Joke -- Please.'"

* Ben Pile's "Climate-Change Alarmism: Fueled by Fantasy."

* Paul Kengor's "Obama's Dupes: The President's Pro-Life Catholic Suckers."