Friday, April 27, 2012

Arbor Day vs Earth Day: "The Earth Is the Lord's"

"In 1872, right here in the state of Nebraska, a journalist turned politician began a campaign that he hoped would help stabilize and beautify the rather sparse landscape of his state.  The man was a Nebraska City resident who believed that such a campaign would be a good idea in other places too.  And it was.

J. Sterling Morton’s call for tree husbandry was answered by the National Agricultural Convention meeting in St. Louis that year and by numerous municipalities, newspaper editors and thousands of citizens.  The result was that the very first Arbor Day, April 22, saw almost a million trees planted.

But though J. Sterling Morton was a tree planter extraordinaire, he was not a tree hugger.  His attitude towards the natural world was the traditional one; namely, that the earth was the Lord’s and man, acting as God’s servant, was to effectively oversee nature, to subdue it in a rational way, to beautify it and properly benefit from it.

Morton was thus acting in accordance with the biblical mandate – the program originally given to Adam in the garden of Eden – a call to responsibly appreciate, nurture and enjoy the created things with which God had adorned the earth.

And most of the people who answered the challenge of Arbor Day were operating in the same spirit.  They were planting trees because trees were good things.  They bore fruit that man could eat.  They helped with soil conservation and provided protection from wind.  And they were pretty.

These people understood that trees were pleasant and productive plants – but they were for man’s use.  They were good things, not fellow souls.

Indeed, J. Sterling Morton (a conservative Democrat who served as Secretary of Agriculture under Grover Cleveland and whose son became a prominent Republican who was Secretary of the Navy under Theodore Roosevelt) was a faithful Episcopalian.  His understanding of the monumental difference between man (created in the express image of God) and nature (created for the enjoyment and benefit of man) was part of the basic Christian worldview.

The kind of conservation ethic he represented was rational, healthy, farseeing and well-rooted in sound environmental ideas.  It was the same enlightened conservation ethic of farmers like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, Johnny Appleseed, Teddy Roosevelt and other sportsmen who led the way in establishing our national parks and wildlife refuges. It was part of the longstanding tradition of taking care of the environment for man’s use – not for nature’s sake.  It was the perspective of the farmer, the rancher, the hunter and fishermen – be responsible and take care of the environment in order that man – both in the now and in the future – may be best served.   

Thus, Arbor Day was – and, by the way, still is – a responsible event, one that calls for individual volunteer efforts – not government coercion.  In fact, the people associated with Arbor Day are decidedly apolitical.  “The only stand we take,” says an official with the Arbor Day Foundation, “is that it’s a great thing to plant trees.”  No demands for government intrusion.  No insistence on group think.  No call for Nanny State regulations and taxes.

What a dramatic difference this is from the “holiday” that has tried to bully its way over and past Arbor Day, the extremely political and propagandist and coercive event that pirated the same day, April 22, and now tries to crowd out the very memory of Arbor Day. That event of course, is Earth Day.  Or as the United Nations calls it International Mother Earth Day..."

The above paragraphs represent the introduction to my sermon from last Sunday. It was a sermon entitled, "The Earth Is the Lord's" and it went on from here to discuss the socialist (oftentimes, pantheistic) philosophy of Earth Day, the facts about who the true heroes of American environmentalism are (hunters and fisherman), and several Scriptures which deal with God as the Creator and Sovereign King of the earth.

Also spoken of is the glory of God revealed in His creation, the necessity of man serving as responsible steward of the natural order, and the eventual destruction of the earth which occurs not through man's ecological failure but rather by the holy judgment of God. This just before He creates a new heaven and, yes, a brand new earth. 

We will eventually get round to typing up my notes but if you're interested in listening to the sermon, you can do so right now...right here.

Team Obama's Outrageous Behavior Gets Nothing But Worse

Every day, we get a new kick in the gut from the Obama administration. Most recently, Environmental Protection Agency Region 6 Administrator Al Armendariz was caught on video articulating his view of the agency's role in enforcing its regulations.

Armendariz said: "It was kind of like how the Romans used to, you know, conquer villages in the Mediterranean. They'd go into a little Turkish town somewhere; they'd find the first five guys they saw, and they'd crucify them. Then, you know, that town was really easy to manage for the next few years. ... It's a deterrent factor."

This man should be fired -- yesterday. White House press secretary Jay Carney risibly says Armendariz wasn't articulating the attitude of the administration. Sadly, that's precisely what he was articulating.

Indeed, we've seen this attitude by the administration in countless examples, from Obama's handling of the Obamacare legislation and restructuring of the GM loans to the administration's New Black Panther voter intimidation case to Solyndra to Fast and Furious to -- oh, never mind; I have to keep this to less than 20,000 words.

None of this should surprise us. Obama is the quintessential liberal, and his administration's recurring abuses are simply the logical extension of liberal hubris born of a self-righteous certainty of the superiority of leftist ideas. This inevitably leads to dictatorial usurpations and lawlessness from the liberal ruling class.

These liberals are sure not only that their ideas and policies are more effective but also that they are morally imperative -- and that conservative ideas and policies are not just ineffective but also woefully immoral...

Read on, friend. For David Limbaugh is in his usual fine form in this important column, "Obama Administration's Repeated Abuses Are Extension of Extreme Liberalism."

Pass it along. We cannot afford to let Team Obama's crimes, continually papered over by the liberal press, go without proper notice. And that means it's up to you and me to highlight the news and commentary sources that tell the truth.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Today's Posts

On Diving Into Life

A few days ago Taylor Gage alerted me to a New York Times piece about musician/entrepreneur Jack White.  I didn't know anything about the guy and, to be honest, I'm not really interested to know much more. After all, except for Abba and Rick Astley, I don't listen to pop music recorded after 1969 or so. (Smile.)

I don't know Taylor's opinions about the fellow but I really appreciated the quotation from the article to which he drew my special attention. It was this:

“This generation is so dead. You ask a kid, ‘What are you doing this Saturday?’ and they’ll be playing video games or watching cable, instead of building model cars or airplanes or doing something creative. Kids today never say, ‘Man, I’m really into remote-controlled steamboats.’ They never say that.”

Spot on, Mr. White. That's a sadly telling observation about current youth culture. But indeed, it's generally true of the youth culture of the last several decades. Television, videos, video games, computers, and now "social media" and the ubiquitous cell phones have turned America into a nation of watchers, not doers. We don't twiddle our thumbs anymore. Instead, we use them to push buttons and joysticks. But with the same time-wasting results.

It was the kids of the 1960s who first became "couch potatoes" but, in time, they sprouted and produced generations of the same. A bit more mobile and technological perhaps, but still generally unengaged with the real world of people, events and moral responsibilities.

It's probably been 15 years since I first realized the depth of this problem. It occurred at a Christmas party we were hosting for friends. At one point in the evening I went in to make another pot of coffee and Jason followed me in. He was the college-age son of the fellow who was then serving as our pastor (a guy I had known as a dear friend ever since my entry into Nebraska in 1970).

Jason started in. "You know, Denny, I have listened to you and my Dad all my life. I've heard you tell the most interesting stories about your lives -- what you've done, what you've learned, where you've been, even the failures and mistakes you've made. You guys have been so involved in...well, in just living. It's really neat and it makes me love hanging out with you. But what's pretty sad is that it's not like that at all for me and my friends. When we get together, the closest version we have of what you and Dad do is to share scenes from movies or compare scores on video games. We just don't have any stories of our own to tell. All we have is other people's stories. And they're just made up!"

I was kinda' stunned because he sounded so sad and wistful. "We just don't have any stories of our own to tell." Or as Jack White put it, "This generation is so dead." The meaning is, of course, the same. There's no real life in merely being a spectator. Real life requires participation. Adventure. Risk. Work. Patience and humility enough to learn through direct experience.

But it is real life that pays all the rewards.

So, amen to Jack White's correctives. And amen to young men (and women) who were not content to go the way of their peers and take root on their couches, but rather to dive in and live life to its fullest. I'm pleased too to know that among those adventurers are young men like Taylor and yes, Jason, whose life experiences in these last 15 years have made for stories every bit as entertaining and instructive as any that I or his Dad ever came up with.

Life. It's the most precious thing and so well deserving of our best efforts to defend it, promote it, celebrate it and experience it to its most glorious heights.

Barack Obama: The Master of Spin and Spend

Regarding Dreams From My Father, Barack Obama's autobiography that many believe was not written by Barack Obama, Michael Walsh has several fascinating insights in his NRO column. Do read in all but let this paragraph be a teaser.

You may recall that, having failed to finish his book on time and having blown through a remarkable six-figure advance and had his contract canceled by Simon and Schuster, Obama was faced with the prospect of paying back the money. So Dystel saved his bacon by negotiating a smaller $40,000 advance — for a first-time proven failure at fulfilling an author’s basic responsibility to his publisher! — with Times Books, which he then spent in part on a trip to Bali, thus prefiguring BHO II’s passion for exotic vacations at other people’s expense. Somehow, he finished the book — which bears little or no stylistic resemblance to anything he’s written before or since — and it finally was published in 1995 to middling response.

"Stranger Danger" --The TSA Keeps Crossing the Line

Case 1)  The child's grandmother, Lori Croft, told The Associated Press that Brademeyer and her daughter, Isabella, initially passed through security at the Wichita airport without incident. The girl then ran over to briefly hug Croft, who was awaiting a pat-down after tripping the alarm, and that's when TSA agents insisted the girl undergo a physical pat-down.

Isabella had just learned about "stranger danger" at school, her grandmother said, adding that the girl was afraid and unsure about what was going on.

"She started to cry, saying 'No I don't want to,' and when we tried talking to her she ran," Croft said. "They yelled, 'We are going to shut down the airport if you don't grab her.'"

But she said the family's main concern was the lack of understanding from TSA agents that they were dealing with a 4-year-old child, not a terror suspect.

"There was no common sense and there was no compassion," Croft said. "That was our biggest fault with the whole thing — not that they are following security procedures, because I understand that they have to do that."

Case 2)  The Transportation Security Administration is once again the subject of national scrutiny, this time after aggressively screening a 7-year-old female passenger with cerebral palsy which caused her family to miss their flight...

Since Dina walks with the aid of leg braces and crutches, she cannot pass through airport metal detectors, and must instead submit to a pat-down by TSA agents.

Dina, who is also reportedly developmentally disabled, is usually frightened by the procedure. Her family reportedly requests that agents on hand take the time to introduce themselves to her.

However, the agents on duty at the time began to handle her aggressively instead.

Air travel is difficult to the family due to Dina’s disabilities, but the nature of Monday’s inspection was especially traumatic for the child.

“They make our lives completely difficult,” her father, Dr. Joshua Frank, a Long Island pediatrician, told The Daily. “She’s not a threat to national security.”

Frank taped the encounter, which ended when a supervisor inspected her crutches and let them pass. But agents followed up and insisted upon doing a full inspection of Dina.

Ultimately, the family missed their flight.

“They’re harassing people. This is totally misguided policy,” Frank told The Daily. “Yes, I understand that TSA is in charge of national security and there’s all these threats. [But] for her to be singled out, it’s crazy.”

Case 3) U.S. Rep. Francisco Canseco said he was assaulted by a TSA agent at the San Antonio International Airport.

The Texas Congressman said the security agent went too far during a pat-down earlier this month.

"The agent was very aggressive in his pat-down, and he was patting me down where no one is supposed to go,” said Canseco.  “It got very uncomfortable so I moved his hand away.  That stopped everything and brought in supervisors and everyone else."

Canseco told the KENS 5 I-Team the agent said he too was assaulted when Canseco pushed his hand away.

According to TSA, neither man was cited.

A week later when going through the San Antonio International Airport, Canseco was once again selected for a pat-down.

"I did not see it as a coincidence,” he said.  “I asked them why are you going to pat me down again, so we discussed it further and after discussing it further, they patted me down."

However, before the discussion was over, San Antonio Police Department officers were called to the security check point area.

Let Ralston Hear From You About the Lingerie Football League

And this is what the progressive society brings us? Scantily-clad young women paid to play football where crowds of men and boys can watch? Purely for their athletic moves, of course.

Get ready for the Next Thing in cultural devolution, folks. The Lingerie Football League is coming to Omaha next year. And not to a brothel, striptease joint, or peep show booth but to Ralston's 3,500-seat tax-supported arena.

Here's a bit of the Omaha World-Herald article about the matter.

Not much description is required here: leggy women in pads, bras, panties and little else strap on hockey-style helmets to duel in seven-on-seven arena football games.

The new Ralston franchise, which doesn't have a name yet, will play two home games at the $32 million Ralston Sports and Event Center, joining tenants that include the Omaha Lancers hockey team, the Omaha Beef indoor football team and the University of Nebraska at Omaha men's basketball team.

Left in the wake of Thursday's announcement were members of the Nebraska Stampede, a fully-padded — and fully clothed — women's semiprofessional team that has struggled to make ends meet playing football in the Omaha area for three seasons. The Stampede's next game is 7 p.m. Saturday at Ralston High School's Rams' Field.

“From my perspective, it's really frustrating that this is the reality in our society,” said Tina Johnson, who serves as general manager and starting fullback for the Women's Football Alliance team. “Sex sells, and it always will.”

“If they want to go out there and play in their lingerie, then by all means, that's their power,” Johnson said. “I just wish we could get that same kind of respect with our clothes on.”

Below is the letter I e-mailed to the Ralston mayor (and every single City Council member as well). I urge you to write them also.

So this is what you think morally responsible government means -- to bring to the metropolitan area a group of scantily-clad young women to play football? For crying out loud, if Ralston were to get a profitable offer to put in peep show booths, would you accept that too?

Guys, this makes Ralston city government a joke. And a dirty joke, at that. So please, for the sake of the city's reputation, for the moral health and well-being of the citizenry (especially the youth), and for a more enlightened and responsible path to financial security for the arena, turn back the Lingerie Football League.

Until you do, I will not patronize any of the events held at the arena and I will pass the word along to friends, family, church members and the general public.

Denny Hartford
Director, Vital Signs Ministries
Teaching pastor, Faith Bible Church

Contact info:
The Ralston Mayor at City Hall --
All Ralston City Council members -- See their e-mail addresses on this web page.

Thanks, Mom!

Contrary to the beliefs of Barack, Michelle and the policy makers of the Democrat Party, being a Mom is the hardest job in the world.

But it is also the best job in the world.

Here's just one compelling reminder.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Today's Posts

A Nifty Top Ten of Home School Successes

For that next conversation over homeschooling you get into, here's a few names you can drop in as persuasive seasoning.

1. Agatha Christie. Agatha was a painfully shy girl, so her mom homeschooled her even though her two older siblings attended private school.

2. Pearl S. Buck was born in West Virginia, but her family moved to China when she was just three months old. She was homeschooled by a Confucian scholar and learned English as a second language from her mom.

3. Alexander Graham Bell was homeschooled by his mother until he was about 10. It was at this point that she started to go deaf and didn’t feel she could properly educate him any more. Her deafness inspired Bell to study acoustics and sound later in life.

4. If Thomas Edison was around today, he would probably be diagnosed with ADD – he left public school after only three months because his mind wouldn’t stop wandering. His mom homeschooled him after that, and he credited her with the success of his education: “My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me; and I felt I had something to live for, someone I must not disappoint.”

5. Ansel Adams was homeschooled at the age of 12 after his “wild laughter and undisguised contempt for the inept ramblings of his teachers” disrupted the classroom. His father took on his education from that point forward.

6. Robert Frost hated school so much he would get physically ill at the thought of going. He was homeschooled until his high school years.

7. Woodrow Wilson studied under his dad, one of the founders of the Southern Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS). He didn’t learn to read until he was about 12. He took a few classes at a school in Augusta, Georgia, to supplement his father’s teachings, and ended up spending a year at Davidson College before transferring to Princeton.

8. Mozart was educated by his dad as the Mozart family toured Europe from 1763-1766.

9. Laura Ingalls Wilder was homeschooled until her parents finally settled in De Smet in what was then Dakota Territory. She started teaching school herself when she was only 15 years old.

10. Louisa May Alcott studied mostly with her dad, but had a few lessons from family friends Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Can you imagine?

(Stacy Conradt, "The Quick 10: 10 Famous Homeschooled People," Mental Floss Magazine.)

3 Not To Be Missed

1) Don't miss "Earth Day’s Dark Side" by Robert Zubrin in the Washington Times.

The seminal scriptures of modern-day environmentalism were Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring,” Paul R. Ehrlich’s “Population Bomb” and the publications of the Club of Rome. While stylistically quite different, these books all served to rally the public around a core anti-human philosophy. As the Club of Rome put it, “The Earth has cancer, and the cancer is man.”

2)  "Another Kentucky Vandalization: This Time it’s Condoms on Crosses" (Students for the Life of America report)

Early this morning, campus police at Western Kentucky University (WKU) refused to stop vandals from draping condoms on the top of small crosses in the campus stadium – these crosses, all 3,700 of them, symbolize how many unborn children die through abortion each day in the US and were installed by the Hilltoppers for Life group on campus. The vandals were art students who claimed the condoms were part of an art project.

The Hilltoppers for Life group members, who had been keeping an eye on their display through the night in reaction to similar acts of vandalism to pro-life displays at other campuses including nearby Northern Kentucky University, asked the art students to stop and then called campus police.  The students refused and the campus police just stood by and watched.

3) "Food Stamp Participation the Highest Ever…and Growing" by Rachel Sheffield at the Foundry of the Heritage Foundation.

The number of Americans on food stamps (or, as it is now called, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP) is higher than ever before, according to a new Congressional Budget Office report. Since 2007, rolls have grown by 70 percent. And participation rates are expected to increase over the next two years.

While some of the growth can be attributed to the recession, participation rates were steadily climbing prior to the recession. Since 2000, the number of Americans on food stamps has jumped by roughly 260 percent, from 17.2 million to 44.7 million in 2011.

Naturally, government spending on food stamps has also jumped, from approximately $20 billion in 2000 to a whopping $78 billion last year, a nearly 400 percent increase.

The growth in participation rates seems to be part of the federal government’s goal, as a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture released just this month explains.

Will Planned Parenthood's Outrages Never End?

* "The U.S. Department of Planned Parenthood" by Geoffrey Surtees at ACLJ.

Anyone who doubts that the current administration is in the back pocket of Planned Parenthood need only consider the latest personnel shift at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (“HHS”).

Effective last Friday, Tait Sye, once media director for Planned Parenthood, is now deputy assistant secretary for public affairs for HHS.

Normally, an appointment to a deputy assistant to anything in our federal bureaucracy is hardly worth a mention. But this personnel choice is yet another indication of the tight relationship between the president and Planned Parenthood. In fact, just last month, President Obama personally appeared in a video produced by and for the Planned Parenthood Action Fund...

* "Planned Parenthood Helps Fewer Pregnant Woman, Adoptions Drop" by Steven Ertelt at

A new annual report the Planned Parenthood abortion business released this week shows it helped fewer pregnant women with prenatal care and the number of pregnant women it referred for adoptions declined as well.

On December 27, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) released its latest Annual Report for 2009-2010. The report indicates PPFA had a total budget of $1.04 billion and  an excess of revenue over expenses of 18.5 million dollars — a net profit. The new report also reveals 46 percent of the total PPFA budget comes from taxpayer dollars in the form of government funding.

The report also breaks down the “services” Planned Parenthood offers in addition to abortions. Planned Parenthood has always come under fire from pro-life groups for doing hundreds of thousands of abortions by providing little in the way of help for pregnant woman wanting to keep their baby or considering adoption. The new report shows that hasn’t changed.

The new document the abortion organization posted shows Planned Parenthood did 329,445 abortions in 2010 while it provided prenatal care to only 31,098 women and referred only 841 women to adoption agencies.

The number of women receiving prenatal care dropped significantly from 2009 to 2010, as the abortion business helped 40,489 women in 2009 — meaning almost 10,000 fewer women received prenatal support from Planned Parenthood last year than the year prior, or a drop of almost 25 percent.

The number of women getting adoption referrals also declined — from a low 977 in 2009 to 841 last year, or a decline of 14 percent.

Examined another way Planned Parenthood does 391 abortions for every adoption referral it makes and almost 11 abortions for every woman it helps with prenatal care...

* "Komen Affiliates Resume Funding Planned Parenthood Abortion Biz" by Steven Ertelt at

Komen had long been a subject of national controversy in which pro-life advocates initially boycotted Komen and then celebrated earlier this year as it appeared the breast cancer charity had made the decision to revoke funding for the abortion business. After massive public pressure, media attacks and lobbying from Planned Parenthood, Komen indicates the abortion business would be eligible for funding but did to say whether funding would be continued.

Leading pro-life groups had hoped Komen would keep their de-funding decision in place via a change in grant-making criteria making it so organizations like Planned Parenthood that do not do mammograms would no longer be eligible for so-called pass-through grants in which they merely provide referrals to legitimate medical centers and physicians who do.

However, according to a new Washington Post report, the Komen funding spigot for Planned Parenthood has been turned back on:

"At least 17 Planned Parenthood affiliates will be funded this year, about the same number that received grants in 2011, according to a tally provided by Komen. The total amount of the grants, which are for breast-cancer screening and other breast-health services, is still being worked out. Most recipients this year also received funds last year…

Additional grants may continue to be awarded because not all of the 122 Komen affiliates base awards on the fiscal year that began April 1. Planned Parenthood has said its Komen grants totaled about $680,000 in 2011 and went to at least 19 of its 79 affiliates."...

Thank You Taxpayers -- for Helping with Obama's Reelection

Call it President Obama’s Committee for the Re-Election of the President — a political slush fund at the Health and Human Services Department.

Only this isn’t some little fund from shadowy private sources; this is taxpayer money, redirected to help Obama win another term. A massive amount of it, too — $8.3 billion. Yes, that’s billion, with a B.

Here is how it works...

Read the rest of "An $8 Billion Trick" by Benjamin E. Sasse and Charles Hurt right here in the New York Post.

Live-In Partners -- Lower Standards, Lower Expectations

In 1960, about 450,000 unmarried couples lived together. Now the number is more than 7.5 million. The majority of young adults in their 20s will live with a romantic partner at least once, and more than half of all marriages will be preceded by cohabitation…

In a nationwide survey conducted in 2001 by the National Marriage Project, then at Rutgers and now at the University of Virginia, nearly half of 20-somethings agreed with the statement, “You would only marry someone if he or she agreed to live together with you first, so that you could find out whether you really get along.” About two-thirds said they believed that moving in together before marriage was a good way to avoid divorce.

But that belief is contradicted by experience. Couples who cohabit before marriage (and especially before an engagement or an otherwise clear commitment) tend to be less satisfied with their marriages — and more likely to divorce — than couples who do not…

When researchers ask cohabitors these questions, partners often have different, unspoken — even unconscious — agendas. Women are more likely to view cohabitation as a step toward marriage, while men are more likely to see it as a way to test a relationship or postpone commitment, and this gender asymmetry is associated with negative interactions and lower levels of commitment even after the relationship progresses to marriage. One thing men and women do agree on, however, is that their standards for a live-in partner are lower than they are for a spouse…

Meg Jay is a clinical psychologist at the University of Virginia whose views of sexual morality are quite liberal. ("I am not for or against living together," she writes.) Nevertheless, her remarks in this New York Times article are valuable, revealing for a large secular audience just a few of the ways in which the destruction of traditional marriage has hurt men, women and children.

(Thanks to Julie Arant for the alert. And please note that the cartoon above comes from "The Truth Behind Cohabitation" written by David Gilbert for the Catholic Chapter House, a profound article itself that also includes a clever send-up of cohabitation via a Life Church video clip.)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Today's Posts

Dedicated to Those Working for the Tax Man. And That's You, Clyde.

Just in case you forgot that a huge amount of your earnings are being confiscated by Nanny State tax gatherers to waste away in government programs that are inefficient, unnecessary and sometimes quite immoral, here are the Beatles singing a George Harrison song to remind you. (Lyrics printed below.)

Let me tell you
How it will be.
There's one for you,
Nineteen for me,

'Cause I'm the taxman.
Yeah, I'm the taxman.

Should five percent
Appear too small,
Be thankful I don't
Take it all.

'Cause I'm the taxman.
Yeah, I'm the taxman.

If you drive a car,
I'll tax the street.
If you drive to city,
I'll tax your seat.
If you get too cold,
I'll tax the heat.
If you take a walk,
I'll tax your feet.


'Cause I'm the taxman.
Yeah, I'm the taxman.

Don't ask me what I want it for,
(Uh-uh, Mr. Wilson.)
If you don't want to pay some more.
(Uh-uh, Mr. Heath.)

'Cause I'm the taxman.
Yeah, I'm the taxman.

And my advice for
Those who die.
Declare the pennies
On your eyes.

'Cause I'm the taxman.
Yeah, I'm the taxman,
And you're working for no one but me.

(Lyrics by George Harrison)

Team Obama Gags on the "Barack Eats Dog" Jokes

John Hinderaker, like all the rest of us, can't help but laugh at some of the "Barack Eats Dogs" jokes that are going around. But John sees a more serious matter that's in play here, one that isn't so much about media fair play as it is that Team Obama just can't help but stumble its way towards the campaign.

Check out John's PowerLine column right here.

The Obama Eats Dogs theme is silly, of course, but as many others have said, it is silliness with a purpose. The Obama campaign seriously intended to make an issue of the fact that decades ago, Mitt Romney put the family dog on the roof of his car, in some sort of kennel or container, because there was no room inside. The dog was fine, but the Democrats crowed that focus group testing showed that the incident would make voters dislike Romney. I think that claim was sheer fantasy, but in any event, the Democrats won’t be able to talk about Seamus now that everyone knows that Obama used to eat dogs.

Something similar happened with the Democrats’ “war on women,” a more important campaign theme. It blew up like an exploding cigar when Hilary Rosen, acting as the administration’s avant garde, attacked Ann Romney. Also, it turned out that the Obama White House pays women 18% less, on the average, than men. So much for the “war on women,” although the Democrats haven’t given up on that particular dead horse yet.

While in the microcosm these issues may seem silly, they are important in the context of the 2012 campaign. The Democrats can’t defend Obama’s record and want to talk about anything in the world other than the economy and the federal debt. Thus, their campaign will consist of one distraction after another. The Romney campaign’s ability to hit back, turn the faux issue back on Obama, and return the conversation to the economy will be critical. At the moment, Romney’s counterpunching against Obama’s irrelevancies is looking strong…

ONE MORE THING: Muslims don’t eat dogs. Barack Obama lived with a Muslim stepfather in a Muslim area of Indonesia. Dogs were not eaten there; presumably not in Obama’s Muslim household. So Obama’s claim in his autobiography that he ate dog in Indonesia may well be false–an error introduced by Bill Ayers or whoever actually wrote Obama’s autobiography. But it is way too late now for Obama to disavow the autobiography that he allegedly wrote.

NY Times -- No Political Favoritism Here

To prevent spilling caused by excessive laughter, please put down your coffee mug before reading this line from Richard Stevenson, the political editor overseeing the New York Times' campaign coverage.

“We take very seriously our responsibility to report without favoritism.”

For All of Us, the Catholic Bishops Oppose Obama's Tyranny

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has taken a bold stand for religious freedom. In a recent statement, titled “Our First, Most Cherished Liberty,” the bishops call for repeal of contraception coverage mandated by the Department of Health and Human Services. The clarified position sets up a dramatic confrontation with the Obama administration—and would, if the bishops prevail, help preserve the religious liberty of all Americans.

The HHS mandate requires employers to provide insurance coverage for contraception and sterilization services. It is, according to the bishops, an “unjust law.” They write: “It cannot be obeyed and therefore one does not seek relief from it, but rather its repeal.”

The statement is a rebuke of President Obama and the so-called accommodation his administration proposed in February. It also raises the stakes between the president and the leaders of America’s Catholic Church. The bishops call on Catholics in America, “in solidarity with our fellow citizens,” not to obey the law…

The bishops did not have to take this route, but all those who cherish religious liberty should be glad they did. If the bishops settled for a more expansive accommodation, they might have been able to get an exemption for their hospitals and universities (including my own, Notre Dame). That would have been the easy way to “preserve” religious liberty while also retaining the mandate.

But what, then, would the bishops have said to business owners who likely would not have been covered by a more expansive exemption? How could church leaders say that it’s wrong for church institutions to pay for contraception and abortifacients, but that Catholic business owners must cover these costs?

The exemption approach might have allowed the bishops to secure religious liberty for their institutions, but not for all their followers. That would have been a failure of moral authority and political strength to protect the common good.

To their credit, the bishops appear to understand this and are now willing to lead the battle to preserve religious liberty for all, Catholics and non-Catholics, church institutions and private employers...

(From "Catholic Bishops Take on Obama" by Vincent Phillip Munoz in the Weekly Standard.)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Today's Posts

30 Years and Counting. How Has Vital Signs Survived?

"3 for 5" vs Planned Parenthood -- Update

Gone With The Wind: Is It "The Great American Novel"?

The Image of the President Isn't Good

More Trouble for Best Buy

Will Christianity Survive in the Chaplaincy?

A Change of Heart About In Vitro Fertilization

Did You Catch These?

30 Years and Counting. How Has Vital Signs Survived?

In recent contacts with long time pro-life colleagues from other parts of the country, we’ve been reminded once again of just how unusual is the very existence of Vital Signs Ministries, let alone the fact that, after 30 years and counting, we are busier than ever and still in the very thick of the culture wars. 

So many of the local pro-life groups that dotted the American landscape in the 1980’s have disappeared altogether – even several of the national ones.  And remember how VSM started as a Christian Action Council chapter back in 1982?  There were eventually over a hundred active chapters in the U.S. but, alas, we know of no CAC chapters that are yet around.

Why has Vital Signs survived?  With all of the coarsening of American society, the compassion fatigue, the disillusionment, the declining economy, the general failure of evangelical  leadership (especially the clergy) to effectively engage the life issues – how has Vital Signs managed to navigate all of the troubled waters and stay on course?

To find out the answer to those questions, read this month's Vital Signs letter over at our website.

"3 for 5" vs Planned Parenthood -- Update

What's the latest latest on our "3 for 5" prayer project to oppose Planned Parenthood? Well, here's one of yesterday's responses. It comes from Brad Mattes, a pro-life colleague whose service in behalf of the sanctity of life has been, for many years now, of a brilliant quality.


Thanks for your recent letter outlining "3 for 5".  I agree that prayer is our most effective tool against abortion, and will dedicate one of my daily radio commentaries to this topic.  We’ll record it next week for airing the following week.  It airs on nearly 1,100 radio stations, so we should be able to help you get the word out.  We’ll provide a link to your website on our daily broadcast link at

Blessings on your life-saving work,
Brad Mattes, Host
Life Issues

Gone With The Wind: Is It "The Great American Novel"?

It remains the ambitious but elusive dream of our nation’s writers to pen “the great American novel.” Elusive perhaps because it has already been written.  At least, that's the conviction of many who are fans of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind.

A couple of weeks ago, I finished reading this most remarkable book for the second time and I was captivated once again by the force of Mitchell’s story and style.  I would use the word “masterpiece” except that would imply that it was the best of all of her life’s work. However, Gone With the Wind was Margaret Mitchell’s only work!  Aside from a few girlhood attempts and her columns from four years as an Atlanta Journal reporter, Gone With the Wind stands alone to mark Mitchell’s shining literary talent. No matter – it is enough.

Gone With the Wind has been largely ignored by modern critics but I’m afraid that is due to the industry’s jealousy, political correctness, and love of the esoteric. But the public, in its best moments, is indifferent to the preening of the professional literati and Gone With the Wind has sold more copies worldwide than any book except the Bible.

Interesting enough, there was high praise for the novel initially but, in later years, the very popularity of the book seemed to be a reason that so many of the establishment critics turned against it. They, in turn, influenced the school teachers with the result that Gone With the Wind now languishes through scant attention. That, combined with the fact that the book is over a thousand pages, is enough to ensure that the novel will never be able to impact the TV addicts of today like it moved their great-grandparents.

This is really too bad because Gone With the Wind is a classic reading experience, an adventure into the most tumultuous decade of American history. It is full of pathos, tension and ethical challenge – all in a literary accomplishment that is marked by exceptionally good writing. The length of the book is admittedly daunting but only before one begins to read. After diving in, the length of Gone With The Wind actually becomes part of the book’s charm. Anything shorter could not do proper service to the grand spectacle which is the Civil War and Reconstruction. Like War and Peace is to Russia, Gone With the Wind is our national saga.

With all of this praise for the novel, however, I must emphasize that there are in this huge novel some huge problems which cannot be glossed over. One is the book’s ending which is markedly weaker than the rest of the story. This can be explained by Mitchell’s inexperience – she actually wrote the last chapter of the novel before anything else. It took her the next ten years to finish the thing.  And, by that time, the clarity, force, smooth progression, and insight of her prose became amazing. Indeed, her talent was sufficient to win for Margaret Mitchell the Pulitzer Prize for Literature.

There are other problems, however, that are far more important and which tarnish those hopes that Gone with The Wind will be known as the Great American Novel I spoke of earlier. These are Mitchell’s attitudes towards plantation life, slavery and Reconstruction. Some describe her view as Southern (meaning primarily white Southern) while others are bold enough to decry what is certainly racism. Her patronizing attitude of “quality” slaves; her negativity towards free blacks; her prolific use of the “n” word; her positive treatment of the Ku Klux Klan; her disdain for Republicans; and even her antagonism to the South’s “white trash” – these are all quite serious faults in Margaret Mitchell’s worldview.

Some defend the author by suggesting that she is merely reflecting Scarlett O’Hara’s moral mistakes and there is some basis for that view.  For example, O’Hara’s disdain for children is not Mitchell’s view nor does O’Hara’s arrogant and cruel lust for wealth in any way parallel Margaret Mitchell’s character.  With this said, however, the author must be held accountable for the “Confederate myopia” with which she interprets the past.

However, one should not avoid the novel merely because of these things. Indeed, I believe that to better grasp the issues that underlie some of our nation’s most profound tragedies, a reading of Gone With the Wind is singularly valuable.

It is also noteworthy that Margaret Mitchell’s views about race were more complex and enlightened than what her critics realize. For instance, in the novel itself, she repeatedly demonstrates a high regard for the humanity and spiritual power of African-Americans. Among the novel’s black characters, Mammy and Uncle Peter serve as two of the only four the moral heroes in the novel.   

And in her personal life, Margaret Mitchell displayed an unusually progressive attitude for her time and place regarding racial issues. For instance, as a 19-year old girl, she was the only one of her debutante group who chose to work in the city’s Negro clinics, losing her chance to be in the Junior League because of this boldness. She was also involved in seeking the desegregation of Atlanta’s police department. And only recently revealed has been Mitchell’s generosity to black medical students. After the publication of Gone With the Wind, she accepted the invitation of Dr. Benjamin Mays, the President of Morehouse College, to donate funds to black medical students, a task that she secretly performed for the rest of her life.

Readers of Gone With The Wind will not agree with all of Margaret Mitchell’s beliefs about the Civil War and Reconstruction nor will they end up respecting (or even liking) the protagonist.  But they will certainly be engaged, challenged and entertained. Gone With The Wind presents a truly fascinating journey which covers ante-bellum plantation life, the coming of a grievous war between two ways of American life, the “lost cause” of the Confederacy, the siege and destruction of Atlanta, the harsh realities of Reconstruction…and the fascinating lives of Scarlett O’Hara, Rhett Butler, Melanie Wilkes, Mammy, Will Benteen and many others.

The Great American Novel? Maybe.  Maybe not. But I'd suggest you read Gone With the Wind yourself to find out just how close it comes.

The Image of the President Isn't Good

In Jim Geraghty's e-mail update (Geraghty is one of the bright lights at NRO), he quoted from an Andrew Malcolm column that I found terrific. I think you will too. You'll find it here but I'll also post an excerpt to persuade you to go on over.

What the White House issues are photos of a tieless, laughing Obama, feet up on the historic Oval Office desk, chatting on the phone system that he complains is so decrepit.

What the public sees, while it frets over stubborn unemployment and soaring gas prices, is a diffident Democrat who takes a 17-vehicle motorcade of SUVs and limos to be seen looking at clean-energy cars.

A pontificating president who suggests that one worried commuter buy a new car instead of complaining.

A guy who spent 745 million donated dollars to get into the White House complaining to visiting editors about losing his anonymity and being locked in the presidential bubble that provide Easter Egg Roll Obama and one youngster 4-25-11s service, luxury, power and security unimaginable to most.

To be sure, other presidents have played golf. Maybe not during three simultaneous wars with the awful accompanying human tolls.

Not likely working the putter the day after a colossal combined earthquake/tsunami natural disaster hit as close an ally as Japan. Or canceling a trip to the funeral of Poland's president and hitting the links. 

It's one thing to urge Americans to vacation on the troubled Gulf coast last summer, while your wife flies off to Spain with a planeload of pals.

It's another to spend much of Earth Day in a 747 jumbo jet flying 2,300 miles cross-country back from a slew of multimillion-dollar West Coast fundraisers...

It's one thing to laugh off the uninformed belief of millions of countrymen that Obama is a Muslim.

It's another to issue meticulous presidential messages and proclamations on what strike many Americans as the most obscure holidays of various religions around the world, then skip official notice of Easter in the predominantly Christian country they elected you to lead...

More Trouble for Best Buy

Think again before buying your next flat-screen television or computing device from Best Buy.

The struggling retail giant recently used profits from American consumers to fund the annual banquet of a group closely linked to Hamas. The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) recently listed Best Buy as a "Platinum Sponsor." Best Buy has refused to rule out future support for CAIR through numerous messages to its public relations department. The big box retailer is already in chaos amid the recent resignation of its CEO for personal misconduct, dwindling sales and bond downgrades…

Here's more, including talking points and contact information.

Will Christianity Survive in the Chaplaincy?

From the Family Research Council's Washington Update comes this essay, "Free Speech: Rotten to the Corps?"

With all of the good that exists in our nation's military, it's been tough to stomach the last few days of headlines. Whether you're debating the photos of dismembered Afghans or the prostitution scandal in Colombia, there is obviously some very real turmoil in our Force. And while I agree with Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) that 99.9% of our young troops are operating under the highest standards, the military seems to be having trouble orienting itself to its new culture. After 300 years of tradition, it's been tough to adapt to the moral relativism introduced by this President. And one of the strongest foundations for military life--the chaplaincy--is being tested as never before now that troops are being forced, not only to accept homosexuality, but celebrate it.

Until the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) chaplains always had the right to speak openly about the moral issues of the day. Now, those rights are being threatened, as the administration chokes back the service members' free speech rights to make way for its radical social agenda. That's had a chilling effect on clergy, who are increasingly muzzled from speaking the truth or providing real spiritual leadership. And the more they--and Christian service members--lose their voice, the more likely the Force is to fall into a pattern of wrongdoing. In the wake of the Colombian disgrace, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said "it's a requirement that U.S. service members 'abide by the highest standards of behavior.'" How will they have the strength to follow those standards if chaplains can no longer act as the moral compass George Washington intended them to be?

Keeping the military from losing its conscience is at the heart of Rep. Tim Huelskamp's new legislation. His bill, H.R. 3828, ensures that our chaplains and service members won't have to compromise their religious beliefs to serve. That means clergy can say "no" to duties, ceremonies, or services they object to; troops can't be denied promotion or other opportunities if they disagree with homosexuality; and Defense property or facilities can only be used for the marriages of a man and woman. Like us, Congressman Huelskamp believes that freedom should exist for everyone in the military--not just the minority who agree with the administration's liberal agenda.

In his testimony before the House Armed Services Committee yesterday (which cited FRC's leadership on the issue), Huelskamp fired away at the problems caused by the DADT repeal, saying he thinks, "It is... disingenuous for people within the Obama administration to claim that there are no reports about opposition to implementation of new policies, when voicing those concerns are strictly prohibited." According to the Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty, there have been several instances of discrimination against the military's men and women of faith. The brave men and women in our Force should not be signing away the freedoms they're giving their lives to protect. Call your congressman and urge him to support H.R. 3828--because the ideals that drive Americans to serve are worthy of preservation, not persecution.

A Change of Heart About In Vitro Fertilization

"One of the basic purposes of marriage is blurred with IVF. Children as gifts from God have become desires and pawns in the life process. IVF breaks the very tenet of the principle of double effect. The nature of the act is not good. The good effect is a wanted child. However, that desire does not outweigh the negative nature of the act. One need look no further than the way in which embryos are treated to see this."

Dr. Anthony Caruso in an interview with Mercator's Michael Cook, speaking of why he decided to get out of the IVF business.

Did You Catch These?

Among the Not To Be Missed articles and columns from the past couple of days are these:

* "When Administrations Implode" by Victor Davis Hanson, Town Hall column. 

 * "Eleven Thousand Reasons Why Planned Parenthood Can’t Be Trusted" by Casey Mattox.

* "Why Obama Lies" by Ed Lasky at American Thinker.

* "Denver Nuggets Star JaVale McGee Almost an Abortion Victim" by Steven Ertelt at LifeNews.

* "Obama faces defeat on Keystone pipeline" by Byron York at the Examiner.

* "Lifetime's Perky Prostitute" by Brent Bozell.

* "Voters are pessimistic about their economic futures under Obama" by Ed Rogers at the Washington Post.

* "Issues vs. 'Distractions'" by Jonah Goldberg.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Nebraska's LB 599 Controversy

I didn't actually wade into the controversy over Nebraska Legislative Bill 599 on Monday. I merely posted my concerns about a growing disunity within the pro-life ranks as I urged pro-life advocates (both those who support 599 and those who oppose it) to be careful not to get nasty about it. You know what I mean. Don't impugn other's motives. Don't call anyone names or use highly pejorative descriptions. Don't threaten to kick anyone out of the family.

Well, today I repeat that advice. But I go a little further too. Indeed, I'd like to share with you some of the concerns voiced by one of the pro-life champions who voted against the bill. That person is a veteran pro-life activist, an intelligent, experienced and deeply principled Christian pro-life champion. He is State Senator Tony Fulton.

Tony gave me permission to print the letter he sent over and I thought it very important that Nebraska pro-lifers consider the points of his argument. It doesn't mean that you'll necessarily agree with all of those points. But, at the very least, it should keep you from making ill-informed and unfair judgments about the pro-life senators who ended up voting against the bill.

And I want to be fair also. That's why, even before I print Senator Fulton's remarks below, I remind you that the pro-lifers who support LB 599 believe that it effectively addresses the importance of prenatal health care. They believe that providing state money to improve the health of preborn babies is a good thing and should take moral precedent over other issues: illegal immigration, government funding, the possibility that some of the money might leak into Planned Parenthood, etc.

But the pro-life supporters of 599 cite something else that they believe a strength of the bill; namely, that language recognizing unborn children as human beings will be codified into law. They hope that this might create a precedent for subsequent action to chip away at Roe v Wade. One pro-life leader who zealously supports 599 told me that abortion lobbyists have opposed similar legislation in other states because of such language.  This alone, in the person's opinion, provides reason enough to vote for the bill -- although the person admitted that the "intent" language of legislation is quite frequently ignored altogether by liberal courts.

So there you have reasons why some pro-life activists are supporting LB 599. (You can find a fuller statement from the NCC right here.)

I understand and am sympathetic to their argument. And, for that matter, so too is Senator Fulton himself. Opposing 599 hasn't been an easy decision for him. But he felt constrained by conscience (which includes a sense of obligation to his constituency) to vote against it. Yet in so doing, he has maintained an openness and friendliness to his fellow pro-lifers on the other side of the issue. I commend him for that and urge others (wherever they end up with 599) to display the same virtues.

Let's hear from Senator Tony Fulton now.

Indeed, I do not support LB599. This is easily the most difficult issue I've ever had before me as a state senator. It's both a pro-life issue and illegal immigration issue - "both/and", not "either/or".  It is also an issue contemplating the proper role of government.  I've struggled with it for a couple years, but I have continually arrived at the conclusion that this bill is wrong-minded.  I am ultimately faced with a decision to forcibly take the dollars of some to pay for the obligations of those who have broken our laws.  In theory, I think I could do this for the sake of the unborn child's health if, indeed, there were no other alternatives for care. This is not the case, though. Prenatal care is presently being provided by the charity of others via certain health centers here in Nebraska, primarily in Omaha and Columbus.  Further, in recent weeks I have read of private health practitioners providing this care free of charge in Kearney and Omaha, and I was contacted by a clinic director who offered the use of their facility to meet this need.  If private efforts can meet this need, this is the appropriate route for we will have achieved the same end without taking tax dollars to pay for the obligations of one who is here illegally.

To further develop what happens if we were to follow this policy, I ask myself what will happen if government continues to supplant private efforts, churches, etc when it comes to acts of charity.  If so then what need is there for the church?  At least, that's how the secularist thinkers will frame it. The government of Massachusetts recently changed its law to allow homosexual couples to adopt children, and this has caused the Catholic Church to get out of the adoption business altogether in that state.  I suspect this is what some wanted.  The contraception mandate by President Obama in his healthcare law (Obamacare) will eventually push the Catholic Church out of the healthcare business and perhaps other faith-based providers. I wonder if this was also partly by design...that is to eliminate the Church from the provision of healthcare such that the government remains the only provider.  Such a direction is wrong-minded and will ultimately hurt society.  What the charity of man can accomplish should not be substituted by the force of government. Of course I want prenatal care to be provided for these babies, but that is not the question before us. The question is who should provide that care. Here is where the Church has some responsibility I think.  Indeed, the care is being provided today, and a large portion of the need is being met...though admittedly it would be easier to simply make it the responsibility of government to pay for the care wherever it is acquired.

There is also a personal dimension to this issue for me.  The maternal half of my family lives in a third-world country right now: the Philippines.  My cousins struggle to provide for themselves, so we (my mom and family here) help them with such material things as food, clothes, education tuition, etc.  It's not easy for us to do so, but we have some responsibility for them.  Some years ago we researched and inquired how they might come to Nebraska, but we did not have the resources to bring them here; so we decided to make the best of our present situation...and there they remain.  So here is a question to ponder: should the State of Nebraska advocate sending tax dollars to care for the prenatal needs of my unborn cousins overseas?  Of course not, for such would be inappropriate, indeed, an injustice to tax payers here in Nebraska.  Yet why are these unborn children in the Philippines different from those unborn children here?  They have equal dignity, and equally eternal worth.  The only difference is that while my family remains overseas out of a conscious abiding of the rule of law, those mothers who are here did so contrary to the rule of law.  True the unborn children know no difference, but those who hold primary responsibility and obligation for their care do...including their fathers who seem conspicuously to be absent from our debates on this issue.  Whether we admit it or not, we are drawing a line of disqualification for some unborn children even if we vote in favor of LB599.

Another point troubles me: Planned Parenthood would be eligible to receive these funds.  This is something I came to realize recently as I spoke with a proponent of the bill, and it is something that has been raised by Governor Heineman in his veto message.  Then I read recently that Planned Parenthood has "quietly supported" the bill.  That's a conspicuous admission, and it doesn't sound attractive to me.  Why, if we could provide this care free of direct taxpayer funding, would we commit more taxpayer monies to an entity who openly performs abortions?  It is not unreasonable to envision Planned Parenthood setting up in towns across Nebraska with a claim to part of these $2.5-million of funds every year.  They would then be paid by you and me to provide prenatal services while establishing relationships with poor, vulnerable, pregnant women.  Surely THIS is cause for the faith community and pro-life advocates to meet the challenge being provided by this issue.  Now it may be argued that PP already receives taxpayer funds, so why question a little more when such good can be accomplished for the unborn?  If you oppose taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood, I ask you to ponder that wanting argument.

I understand we may differ, but at least you know why I believe as I do.  Please know this has been the single most difficult issue I've ever faced as a state senator, and I've therefore poured much of me into this decision.  I pray that I am discharging my obligations as a state senator correctly and will appreciate your prayers to that end too.

Tony Fulton

Who Else Would Dare Talk Like This?

"This president has brought us out of the dark and into the light."

In an earlier post this morning, I spoke of Barack Obama's grasping anxiety to control the harbors, the rivers, even the oceans. Part of that quest comes from Obama's socialist agenda. But part of it comes from the sheer arrogance of the fellow.

It's an arrogance that (at least in public) draws the praise of his wife.

Obama Wants to Be Lord of the Seas Too.

Republican Congressman Bill Flores -- “This one to me could be the sleeping power grab that Americans will wake up to one day and wonder what the heck hit them."

Republican Senator David Vitter -- “This is pure administrative fiat. It’s very troubling.”

What are they talking about? One of Barack Obama's most audacious power grabs, a move to take control of the oceans, bays, and rivers. 

Not content to be a mere President, it seems that Obama aspires to Neptune's throne as well.

Here's the story from Audrey Hudson at Human Events.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Today's Posts

"Peaceful" Occupy Protestors Go on Rampage, Attack Police

The latest items from the Occupy movement? How about this one? 

The Occupy protestors left the Anarchist Book Fair in New York (after being treated to such seminars as "Self-defense and street combat for anarchists") and put on hoods and masks before hitting the streets. Why? Because next on the agenda was vandalizing cars and buildings, trashing the streets, trying to destroy a Starbucks coffee shop and, while shouting "All pigs must die," using pipes to physically assault police officers.

Welcome to the progressive society, bruddah.

When Pro-Life Advocates Differ

Pro-life state senators Tony Fulton, Beau McCoy, Pete Pirsch, Lydia Brasch, Chris Langemeier, and Dave Bloomfield (not to mention, pro-life Governor Dave Heineman) are among those who are taking flak from unexpected sources over their opposition to LB 599, a bill before the Unicameral that would release state funds for certain uses by illegal immigrants, including prenatal care. 

Indeed, there are some within the pro-life camp who are suggesting that these public servants are acting in a way that is coarse and inconsistent with the pro-life principles that have otherwise guided their careers.

However, LB 599 represents what is, at the very least, a complex and problematic piece of legislation with informed, sincere and principled pro-life advocates appearing on both sides of the bill. Indeed, with the revelation that LB 599 could possibly result in funds going to Planned Parenthood, even more pro-lifers will end up opposing it. 

Therefore, I'd like to go on record as accepting in good faith the positions of Governor Heineman and other pro-life stalwarts in Nebraska's state government who oppose LB 599. He and the others I mentioned at the start of this post have been terrific pro-life champions and I consider them to remain in that noble standing.

About That "Made in China" Label

Nebraska Congressman Jeff Fortenberry's latest newsletter contained an excellent essay on the need for Americans to be more circumspect, more principled and more resolute in our dealings with Communist China. As a couple that has for many years sought to avoid "Made In China" products whenever possible, Claire and I were very pleased to read Jeff's remarks and I think you will find them of great interest too.

I print excerpts of his essay below but you can read the whole thing right here as well as sign up for his e-mail updates from the front page of his website. (Just look under the video clip at the top of the page.)

A key concern is our nations' complicated, lopsided economic relationship. Essentially, Americans buy great quantities of Chinese-made products as the Chinese government finances a great portion of the U.S. debt.  Currently, nearly one-third of our debt is foreign owned, with China easily being the largest debt-holder at nearly $1.2 trillion (officially).  Other estimates peg the figure at $2 trillion.  The effect of such indebtedness is the shift of our wealth assets into the hands of a foreign nation.  China has lax labor and environmental standards and manipulates its currency, creating unbalanced trading conditions. 

Another concern is China's involvement on the world stage.  While it aggressively pursues its own mercantilist agenda, China lends little constructive hand to creating the conditions for international stability.  China is seen as an enabler of North Korea, which continues its march toward nuclear weapons development despite the protests of the international community.  Over recent months, as the U.S. and the European Union have accelerated important efforts to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions, China has been conspicuously absent from leadership in the discussion.  China continues to be a top buyer of Iranian oil—one of the key leverage points of economic sanctions against Iran.  At a discussion I attended, a Chinese official said, in so many words, the U.S. is to blame for Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons capability.  And while China does not desire this outcome, China would continue to conduct business as usual with the Iranians…

Beyond this, an honest discussion is necessary about Chinese industrial virtues.  A Chinese official has said that, in dealing with "differences in corporate culture and the degree of openness to the outside world . . . Chinese companies always take domestic business practices with them." Those "domestic business practices," according to witnesses who have given congressional testimony, include fertility monitors on factory floors, invasively examining female employees for pregnancy and reporting pregnant women to the Chinese family planning police.  China still practices the violence of forced abortions. China also has tragically high suicide rates for workers, who use suicide as their only means of collective bargaining against dire and oppressive labor violations.

As China continues to advance as a world economic power, it has a choice: it can join the responsible community of nations in respecting the dignity and rights of all persons while conducting affairs with other nations in an ethical fashion, or it can stand by current practices and exploit relationships in order to fuel its own brand of corporate collectivism, undermining international stability in the process.

It is important that we seek reasonable and good relations with China—ideally and practically—for the sake of our own national security. But we must do so with open eyes.  As Americans, we must begin to address some of the hard questions that arise in our own relationship with China, and pause to consider the implications before reaching for another product carrying the "made in China" label.

The Adventure of Christian Chivalry

In looking over the schedule, I see that a couple of my upcoming speaking engagements will be to audiences of Christian men. One is the monthly meeting of the men of a local evangelical church and the other is a city-wide prayer breakfast. I suspect that the invitations to both events were prompted by my involvement in the recent Conquest event down in Lincoln that was sponsored by FreedMen. I had a wonderful time down there (both as a speaker and as one of the 2200 that benefited from the teaching, inspiration and accountability the Conquest offered) and I'm pleased that my participation there is kindling other actions.

My topic in both of the upcoming events will be "Knights in Shining Armor: The Adventure of Christian Chivalry." It's an interesting, uplifting subject that includes a description of the chivalric code, its roots in Christianity, its timeliness to today's Christian man and the high nobility of passing the code along to our sons. It's also a topic for which I have a deep and longstanding attachment -- from my childhood ideals through my conversion to Christianity, from my experience as a historian through my convictions as a Christian activist. It is a topic which highlights the virtues of faith, wisdom, courage, chastity, courtesy, loyalty, a high regard for women, a commitment to the defense of the innocent and needy, and the willingness to pursue a holy quest.

It's a theme rich in inspiration and spiritual relevance -- and I'm very much looking forward to exploring it with these men.

Indeed, if readers of Vital Signs Blog are interested in having me address the same topic with the men of their church, the youth of their church, or anyone else (it can be adapted for just about any Christian audience), please zip us a line and we'll see if we can fit it into the schedule. Contact Denny or Claire at

In Case You Missed These...

Then here's your second chance. Excellent reads all.

 * "O'Keefe Voter Fraud Investigation: Young Man Offered Holder's Ballot" by Breitbart News.

* "The post-Hilary Rosen White House clown show" by John Hayward at Human Events.

* "Who is this guy pretending to be president?" by Andrew Malcom at IBD.

* "GSA official to take the Fifth" (Politico)

* "New Black Panther Party chief of staff Michelle Williams apologizes after George Zimmerman radio outburst" -- 10 News

* "New Black Panther chief of staff and community activist Michelle Williams had run-ins with the law" -- 10 News

* "Why Obama Hates Paul Ryan" by Peter Ferrara at American Spectator.

* "California Declares War on Suburbia" by Wendell Cox, Wall Street Journal.

* "Rebuffing Obama’s gimmicky ‘Buffett Rule’" by Dana Milbank at the Washington Post.

* "Obama Administration Applauds Tax Cuts—In People’s Republic of China" by Terence P. Jeffrey, CNS News.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Final Prayers at the Bedside

Following yesterday's "When Swing Was King" presentation, one of the nursing home's officers informed me that one of the hospice residents seemed to be very near death. She had been trying to find a minister (preferably a Baptist) to say a prayer with the resident but had been unsuccessful. Then she remembered that I was a preacher. "I hate to put such a burden on you and I know you guys are awfully busy but could you please just take a minute to see her? I know it would mean so much to the family."

I told her I was honored with the request and we we headed down to the hospice room. To all indications, the resident was comatose. But I also know that sometimes, even in such cases as this, there's a lot more awareness than what is imagined. So before I prayed for the person, I introduced myself and spoke to them of the cross, God's love and heaven. And then I prayed aloud for awhile. Then a little bit more conversation and a final prayer.

The family wasn't in the facility right then but I was joined in the room with the nursing home officer and a nurse. It was an emotional experience for all of us. But it was an important moment too -- perhaps in ways we'll not know until we cross the Jordan ourselves.

Later in the evening, after returning from another hospital visit, I received an e-mail from the nursing home officer thanking me again for helping out. She also wanted me to know how pleased the family was, especially since the resident had passed away about 20 minutes after I had left.

"When Swing Was King" is sometimes about a lot more than music.