Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Still On Vacation

We are now a little over a week into our Branson vacation and things are working out just fine. The condo we are renting in Branson West (The photo at left is from our third floor deck.) is clean, cozy, attractive, and very quiet, making it a wonderful place for our get-away. We have been talking, praying, reading, watching the World Series, and engaging in a few projects. Also, my sister and her husband (Sherry & John Whissen from Wichita) came in for a couple of days and we had a splendid time with them. Indeed, the highlight of our trip so far came with the Whissens when we headed up to the little town of Crane. Well, more on that in a moment.

Our enjoyment of a vacation is always enhanced a bit by combining it with a spot of work. And that's the case this time around too. Among the jobs we've taken on down here have been sending out postcards to some of our LifeSharer team, evaluating and planning, and transferring material to a new Vital Signs Ministries website. We also took on the editing of of a daily diary my Mom kept the few months before she married Dad. That was a big job but loads of fun -- touching and inspirational too. We will now create a scrapbook look for those diary excerpts accompanied by relevant photos of people, places, movies mentioned, and so on and give that as Christmas presents to my siblings and a few of our friends who loved my Mom.

In addition, Claire has been reading a Rafael Sabatini novel and having fun with some Christmas-oriented sewing projects. For my part, I've been getting ahead in sermon preparation for the life of David series I've been preaching and doing other reading. The books I've finished here (all novels so far) have been interesting but I wouldn't recommend any of them very highly: Ashenden, a collection of stories by W. Somerset Maugham based on his activities in British intelligence during the first World War; Nuremberg: The Reckoning by William F. Buckley; and The Dogs of Snoqualmie by Calvin Miller. However, I am now into one (a re-read from many years ago) that I'm finding very moving and worthwhile. Though it is somber reading to the max (the theme is the tyranny and moral blindness of Communism), this one I would recommend: Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon.

We have also packed into our vacation a few Branson activities. We're generally enjoying simple meals here at the condo but we have had a few meals out. The best of those have been at Vashken's Deli (Lebanese and Mediterranean specialties) and at the Keeter Center dining hall at the College of the Ozarks. We've been twice at each place already and we're probably not done yet. We also had a lot of fun when the Whissens took us out for breakfast at Billy Gail's, an Ozark roadhouse that is much loved by the locals. And finally, I can't leave out Claire's appreciation for the carrot cake down at Dino's in the Branson Landing complex.

Okay, now for that highlight I promised to tell you about earlier. That occurred when Claire, Sherry, John and I drove up to Crane to visit my Aunt Farris, the last relative of mine from that generation. Farris is an exceptional woman; tender, bright, talented, funny; hard-working and wise. She is a devout Christian whose ministry to her family (and way beyond) has been remarkable. Visiting with Farris and her daughters Belinda and Eva was really sweet. We caught up on the latest news of the Ellsworth family and ran back through the memories too. It was an enchanting couple of hours. But none of those dear moments will be as clearly etched on our heart as when Eva launched into a skilled rendition of the lovely old gospel song, "If It Wasn't for the Lighthouse", with her sister and 90-year old mother (just a few days out of the hospital) joining in to provide harmony. It was an exquisite treasure and we're certainly going back up to Crane again before we leave.

Like I said at the outset, we are now a little over a week into our Branson vacation and things are working out just fine.

The LifeSharer is Up!

Before October is gone, I'd better make the announcement here that the October LifeSharer letter (the monthly newsletter of Vital Signs Ministries) is up over at our website. 

It's actually been up for quite awhile but with our vacation looming I had forgotten to post the notice here on the blog and over on Facebook. My apologies.

Here it is.

Monday, October 21, 2013

We're On V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N


That's the way Connie Francis sang it back in 1962. (The Vimeo link is embedded below.) And we're feeling a bit of that festive spirit as we head out for a long-overdue vacation in southern Missouri.

We're leaving our house in the good care of Claire Nicole, Keith & Carol Moran, and our next door neighbors while we're away. And our new digs, for the next two weeks, will be at The Lodge, a 2-bedroom condo outside Branson West. It should be a fun and productive time with our loose-knit agenda encompassing some social activities, a bit of work, prayerful evaluation and planning regarding Vital Signs Ministries, reading, walks through the woods, and quite a bit of sitting on the balcony drinking tea.

The social element involves my sister Sherry and her husband John joining us for a few days with Allen and Cindy Nelson dropping in for a night or two the next weekend. Also, we hope to make a couple of trips north; one to the little town of Crane to visit my aunt and a few cousins and the other up to Springfield to have dinner with our godson, Scott Lawson.

The work bit will include some writing and editing projects, transferring content from the existing VSM website to a brand new one, editing the next few "When Swing Was King" volumes, and sermon preparation. I may even do a little blogging.

But the primary purposes to be served in this getaway are rest, relaxation and spiritual refreshment. We're really looking forward to it.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Today's Posts

Okay, A Guy Has This Parrot...

A guy breaks into a place and steals jewelry -- and a parrot.

A cop spots the thief. The thief bolts and runs, but not before throwing the parrot at the cop. The angry and confused parrot bites the cop. The bird is handed over to authorities.

The thief is later found hiding in a shed.  He is also handed over to authorities.

The cop gets treatment for the bird bite and the parrot is eventually returned to his owner. Good news on both counts.

But not such good news for society because, after just a few hours, the thief bonds out and is back on the city streets, ready to cause fresh mischief for citizens, cops and feathered creatures.

A Monty Python sketch? I only wish it were. No, this is real life in the American justice system, folks.

Fly carefully.

New Feminist Book Takes Issue with the Pill

Carolyn Moynihan, deputy editor of MercatorNet, gives an interesting review of a new book in which a feminist breaks from the pack on the subject of the so-called birth-control.

Holly Grigg-Spall is a young woman who calls herself a feminist but who is deeply unpopular with some of the sisterhood right now. English, 30-ish, married to an American and living in California, she has written a book criticising the contraceptive pill. Actually, Sweetening the Pill: Or How We Got Hooked On Hormonal Birth Control is more than critical; it is a sweeping polemic against the pill and every form of hormonal contraception. Since this wonder drug is celebrated by mainstream feminists (Nancy Pelosi, Cecile Richards, Sandra Fluke…) as the great liberator of women, you can see why the others are peeved with her…

I found the book rather frustrating, too, but not for the same reasons. The review copy I received is repetitive and needs a lot more editing. In addition, the author’s quest for alternatives to the pill – both technical and philosophical – leads her into feminist fringe territory which is sometimes cringe-inducing. And she fails to see the logical consequences of some of her insights. Nevertheless, in her attempt at a comprehensive critique of the pill and allied contraceptives she gets some important things right...

Sweetening the Pill falls far short of the critique of contraceptive culture some of us would like to hear from a smart and angry young woman. The author does not see that the copper IUD, the condom and the rest of contraceptive paraphernalia – not to mention abortion – are also an insult to the body, if not to its chemistry then at least to its integrity in the sexual act. Breaking away from the medical establishment’s grip is hardly a liberation if you fall straight into the arms of condom and cap manufacturers.

However, Holly Grigg-Spall’s great discovery – the ability to track her menstrual cycle through the fertility awareness method (FAM, or NFP to those who know it as natural family planning) – may yet lead her to new philosophical insights as well. She has already picked up on the way this method can improve the relationship between spouses or partners. For the moment she is anxious to dissociate herself from the philosophy of “the religious Right” and seems to think it is a shame that Catholics perfected the method before feminists tumbled to it.

But, if her book did nothing else than encourage other young women to pursue body literacy and fertility awareness, it would have performed a signal service.

John H. Yoder Embraced More Than Peace

Since I do not believe pacifism has a biblical foundation, I've never paid much attention to John Howard Yoder, the Mennonite academician whose name I often see associated with modern pacifism and whose name is used so frequently by evangelicals attracted to political and social liberalism.

Therefore, I was unaware of Yoder's bizarre attempts to fold extramarital sexual activities into his theological construct until I read a recent New York Times article, "A Theologian’s Influence, and Stained Past, Live On," by Mark Oppenheimer. I now understand that quite a few folks (at least within Mennonite circles) know of Yoder's history of aberrant behavior but nevertheless downplay it, deny that it detracts from his theological work, or even ignore it altogether.

But personal morality cannot be separated from Christian theology, a fact that even a secular reporter understands.

Writes Oppenheimer:

Can a bad person be a good theologian?

All of us fall short of our ideals, of course. But there is a common-sense expectation that religious professionals should try to behave as they counsel others to behave. They may not be perfect, but they should not be louts or jerks.

By that standard, few have failed as egregiously as John Howard Yoder, America’s most influential pacifist theologian. In his teaching at Notre Dame and elsewhere, and in books like “The Politics of Jesus,” published in 1972, Mr. Yoder, a Mennonite Christian, helped thousands formulate their opposition to violence. Yet, as he admitted before his death in 1997, he groped many women or pressured them to have physical contact, although never sexual intercourse...

In 1992, after eight women pressured the church to take action, Mr. Yoder’s ministerial credentials were suspended and he was ordered into church-supervised rehabilitation. It soon emerged that Mr. Yoder’s 1984 departure from what is now called Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary, in Elkhart, Ind., had also been precipitated by allegations against him. He left for Notre Dame, where administrators were not told what had happened at his last job... 

Mr. Yoder seemed very attentive to the notion that theology should align with behavior. It turns out that in unpublished papers, he formulated a bizarre justification of extramarital sexual contact.

In his memoir, Professor Hauerwas alludes to what Tom Price, a reporter for the newspaper The Elkhart Truth, described in a five-part 1992 series as Mr. Yoder’s defense of “nongenital affective relationships.” Mr. Yoder said that touching a woman could be an act of “familial” love, in which a man helped to heal a traumatized “sister.”

Mr. Price quoted from “What Is Adultery of the Heart?” a 1975 essay in which Mr. Yoder wrote that a “bodily” embrace “can celebrate and reinforce familial security,” rather than “provoking guilt-producing erotic reactions.”…

Ms. Heggen, called Tina in the newspaper articles, told Mr. Price that Mr. Yoder had a grandiose explanation for his advances, which he tried out on multiple women. “We are on the cutting edge,” Mr. Yoder would say, according to Ms. Heggen. “We are developing new models for the church. We are part of this grand, noble experiment. The Christian church will be indebted to us for years to come.”…

After his advance toward her, Mr. Yoder mailed Ms. Heggen an essay in which he advocated physical contact, including nudity, between unmarried people, so long as “there wasn’t lust.”

Ms. Heggen had a theory of what Mr. Yoder might have been thinking. “ ‘I have created this great peace theology,’ ” she began, trying to put his thoughts into words. “ ‘And you and I are developing a new Christian theology of sexuality.’ ”

Oh, The Disaster That Is ObamaCare

Stock up on aspirin, folks. It looks like that may be the only "health care" that will survive this debacle.

* "Insurers say the federal health-care marketplace is generating flawed data that is straining their ability to handle even the trickle of enrollees who have gotten through so far, in a sign that technological problems extend further than the website traffic and software issues already identified."

* "Something very strange going on behind Healthcare.gov" (Mark Tapscott, Morning Examiner)

* "ObamaCare's Black Box: Why the exchanges are worse than even the critics imagined." (Wall Street Journal editorial)

* "Humiliation: Design firm yanks Healthcare.gov credit from its website" (Hot Air)

* Two weeks into the roll out of Obamacare’s online health insurance market, the two organizations chosen to help uninsured Nebraskans navigate the system haven’t been able to sign up a single person for coverage.

Community Action of Nebraska was awarded about $562,000 and The Ponca Tribe of Nebraska nearly $38,000 to help people find health insurance on the federally run insurance exchange that began operating — and we use that term loosely — Oct. 1.  The online marketplace, Healthcare.gov, repeatedly freezes, says “come back later” or crashes when people attempt to create an account so they can shop around for a plan.

Roger Furrer, executive director of Community Action, was tasked with helping nearly 40,000 uninsured Nebraskans navigate Obamacare. The group hired 62 “navigators” to educate Nebraskans and walk them through the enrollment process.

Although Community Action had received about 450 calls as of Wednesday, Furrer wasn’t aware of a single person who had successfully navigated the process, either online or by phone.

“It’s still an exercise in frustration for most people,” he said. “We are finally starting to get people past the barrier of creating their account.”

Jan Henderson, spokeswoman for the Ponca Tribe, said they haven’t been able to sign anyone up either...
(Deena Winter, "Zero: Number of Nebraskans Obamacare navigators have signed up," Nebraska Watchdog)

Is the Conservative Movement Dead? Not Hardly.

...Demographic trends and an ever-expanding and increasingly entrenched dependency class are ominous signs for Republicans. Add to these the growing reluctance of Republicans to stand for and articulate their winning principles (as opposed to liberal lite) and there's plenty of fodder for the default pessimists among us -- and more than enough to give the rest of us pause, as well.

But something has happened since the Supreme Court donated its imprimatur to the Absolutely Unaffordable Inferior Care Act. Grass-roots conservatives have not folded their tents, and a number of conservative officeholders have emerged to communicate conservative principles in bold colors and not pale pastels. They have assumed a leadership position in the Republican Party to fill the current void and articulated the conservative policy alternative with striking clarity and with no apologies. And they have not backed down in the face of harsh personal criticism from certain establishment officeholders and pundits.

I was always confident that like-minded patriots had not yet thrown in the towel and hopeful that even those in office would fight back. But I was gratified to witness this phenomenon so soon after Obama won re-election...

Interested in reading more about David Limbaugh's optimistic outlook for the conservative movement? Here's the column, "Keep Your Chins Up, Conservatives."

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Today's Posts

Julia Holcomb's Compelling Abortion Story...In Her Own Words

Julia Holcomb is Silent No More.

Julia Holcomb, former fiancée of Aerosmith vocalist Steven Tyler, tells her story. For more other stirring stories like this, please visit Silent No More Awareness.

And here's more of Julia's story, including her discovery of forgiveness, healing and wholeness from LifeSiteNews.

Wedding Night Elation? Not for 1/2 of Newlyweds.

It’s rather sad news to hear but according to new research, more than half of newlywed couples do not end up consummating their marriage on their wedding night. Top reasons for this include the groom or bride being too drunk, the couple being too tired, or the fact that the happy couple had argued during the reception…

Apart from this study though, a few more reasons come to mind to explain the lack of consummation. The most obvious would be that most couples have slept together long before they even think about marriage. Hence, the wedding night ends up being just another ordinary night.

The other reason would be the fact that weddings are so much more stressful than they used to be. Back in the day, it was a celebration of love, and a new beginning. These days, it’s a lot more about the dress and the cake and the table settings and the DJ and how your wedding compares to that of others. After a whole nerve-racking day of wondering whether everyone is enjoying what you’ve spent months (or years) meticulously planning, no wonder it would be tough to stay awake after the reception is done and dusted!...

("Bored with their bliss," Tamara Rajakariar at Mercator)

IRS Crimes Against the Republic are Just a Laughing Matter to Democrats

...During her appearance before the House Oversight Committee a week ago, Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly (Va.) tried to dismiss the investigation by treating the whole thing as a joke, asking Sarah Hall Ingram [who formerly headed the IRS division that targeted conservative groups for mistreatment] if she had “been consorting with the Devil.” When Ingram answered no, Connolly went on to ask about reports she could fly. “Greatly exaggerated, sir,” she replied.

Getting the idea that Democrats in Congress, the White House and the IRS aren’t taking this investigation seriously?

Last week’s appearance by Ingram came five months after Republicans asked her to appear. And this is the woman who has moved from the IRS division targeting conservatives to the IRS office that will target people who run afoul of the tax rules regarding ObamaCare.

Looks like the joke is on us.

(New York Post editorial, "Questions into IRS scandal still get no answers.")

With This Disastrous Start, Can ObamaCare Avoid "Death Spiral?"

Bloomberg columnist Megan McArdle has some very important concerns about ObamaCare's health...and thus America's.

Exactly how bad are things on the federal health-care exchanges? The working assumption among most journalists, including me, is that they would be fixed in a few weeks -- that is, by the end of this week. But yesterday’s New York Times brought a deeply reported piece from Robert Pear, Sharon LaFraniere and Ian Austen...

One person familiar with the project says it’s only about 70 percent of the way there, and has heard estimates of somewhere between two weeks to two months to fix it. As a programmer I know points out, “two weeks to two months” is the programming equivalent of “40 days and 40 nights”: “A long time, but I have no way of knowing how long.” …Suddenly, two months sounds optimistic...

Nor can you really blame the Republicans -- an argument that makes sense only if you don’t examine it very closely. It starts by assuming (but never stating) that the administration passed a law that didn't work as written, and then posits a civic duty for the opposition not to oppose laws that they oppose, but instead to help the majority party turn an unworkable law into something more to said party’s liking. This is absurd…

The administration estimates that it needs 2.7 million young healthy people on the exchange, out of the 7 million total expected to apply in the first year. If the pool is too skewed -- if it’s mostly old and sick people on the exchanges -- then insurers will lose money, and next year, they’ll sharply increase premiums. The healthiest people will drop out, because insurance is no longer such a good deal for them. Rinse and repeat and you have effectively destroyed the market for individual insurance policies. It’s called the “death spiral,” and the exchanges, like the mandate, were designed to keep it from happening.

Without the exchanges, the death spiral seems almost assured. The amount of work required to find a policy, figure out your subsidy, buy coverage and file the paperwork will be very high. And it’s unlikely that folks who can’t even be bothered to go to ehealthinsurance.com right now will do it. The Affordable Care Act made the task of signing up young healthy people on the exchanges even harder with its much-loved requirement that companies allow kids to stay on their parents’ policies until they’re 26, which took millions of potential buyers out of the pool. The ones who are left are going to be disproportionately poorer and less well educated than the middle-class offspring who can get cheap insurance through mom and dad. There’s a reason that virtually every person you’ve seen written up in an article as they tried to get insurance at a community center or clinic is some combination of over 55, retired or afflicted with a serious chronic condition.

Once the death spiral happens, it’s very difficult to recover from. That’s why if the exchanges don’t work soon, we need to hit the reset button and try again next year. This will be very, very difficult: Insurers are already selling policies under the new regulations, and those regulations have driven up costs for existing buyers. People who have been counting on being able to buy insurance through the exchanges will have to spend another year without. And of course, it will be politically embarrassing. But it will be even more politically embarrassing to get to December and find out that we have commanded millions of Americans to buy insurance on a system that doesn’t work. And it is not a good bargain to cover some people now, but in doing so, to make insurance unaffordable for millions more in a few years...

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Today's Posts

Bad Faith Is Dangerous

Are the Republicans the "Bad Guys" in the Shutdown?

Have the Republicans "damaged their brand" in the government shutdown crisis?

That's certainly what the liberal media insist is happening. In fact, that's even what a lot of kinda' conservatives are suggesting too.

But Michael Ramirez, a senior editor for Investor's Business Daily, persuasively argues that the authentic conservatives in Washington desperately needed to make this stand. And not just for the future prospects of the G.O.P., but for the future of America as a continuing democracy and a viable economic power.

Below are a few excerpts of Ramirez' IBD column, "At Stake For Republicans: Principles And The Party." But I do I urge you to follow the link and read it in full.

No one wants a government shutdown, but the principles behind this one are worth fighting for. The shutdown challenges Obama's reckless policies and brings to light the real danger they pose, something the media refuse to do…

The Republican Party once stood for fiscal restraint, smaller government and individual liberty. Standing up for these principles is not only important to protect our nation's health and the preservation of our fundamental rights but also to ensure a future for the GOP.

The biggest threat to our nation is the unprecedented debt that this administration has racked up in record time. The $16.7 trillion we owe is now bigger than U.S. GDP and works out to almost $53,000 per person. Unfunded liabilities from our entitlement programs now total $126 trillion. The massive bureaucracy needed to implement and manage ObamaCare will not only damage the economy and raise the cost and diminish the quality of medical care. It will add a trillion dollars to our debt burden...

ObamaCare is one of the main reasons why our economy continues to underperform and why health care costs have been rising. It has created uncertainty in the marketplace and has had a huge negative impact on the structure of employment through incentives to shift jobs from full-time to part-time.

Nor will ObamaCare deliver on most of its promises. In fact, it does quite the opposite: Premiums are on the rise; taxes and penalties will reduce the availability of medicines, medical services, medical devices and doctors; and 30 million Americans will remain uncovered...

Our legislators are supposed to reflect the will of the people. It's their job to protect their constituents from the unchecked power of government and fight for principles, regardless of the odds of winning or losing.

This is even more important today, with an imperial president who rules unilaterally, cavalierly ignores constitutional boundaries, dispenses lies and half-truths with greater frequency and is rapidly increasing how much of our private lives government can control.

Has anyone considered the political consequences of voters deserting the GOP in 2014 because they no longer feel represented by a party that seems to have abandoned its principles? Has anyone considered the political consequences of a third party?

The question now is not how much damage will be done to Republicans if they stand up for their principles and continue a government shutdown, but how much damage will be done if they don't...

Lemons for the Ages: The Edsel & ObamaCare

Bad ideas, worse rollouts, and unhappy customers.

Last month, as the President, HHS Commissar Kathleen Sebelius, and their media toadies hyped the imminent launch of Obamacare’s dysfunctional insurance exchanges, few bothered to observe the 56th anniversary of “E-Day.” Don’t remember E-Day? This, believe it or not, was how the delusional leadership of Ford Motor Co. referred to the September 1957 rollout of another great American flop — the Edsel. That misbegotten vehicle, whose goofy name has long since become synonymous with “spectacular failure,” had much in common with Obamacare. Both were based on bad ideas, full of much-ballyhooed features that didn’t work, and were despised by the public.

The bad ideas for both boondoggles were hatched as little more than marketing ploys. “The idea for the Edsel,” as the Washington Post later reported, “came from Ford executives who were thinking about market niches when they should have been thinking about cars.” In the case of Obamacare, the idea came from campaign aides looking for a catchy sound bite that could be used by an obscure Illinois Senator running for President. He needed to say something about an issue to which he hadn’t given much thought. Thus, without any serious policy discussion, they suggested that he simply announce his intention to pass universal health care by the end of his first term: “Thus was born Obamacare.”

In both cases, the hype continued to receive far more attention than the development of the product. Edsel was already a household word before there was a car upon which to rivet the name. A mere three months before the its debut, the paucity of photos showing the entire Edsel forced Newsweek to run a lead story with a cover that showed only a wheel and part of its front bumper. Likewise, the basic elements of Obamacare remained a mystery even as it was debated by congressmen and Senators who obviously hadn’t read the bill. This horrifying reality was forever memorialized by Nancy Pelosi when she advised the American people, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it.”

All of this might have been forgiven if either of these products had lived up to the hype. Sadly, neither came close. The American consumer knows a lemon when he sees one. And, despite the fanfare with which both were introduced, the Edsel and Obamacare had clearly been produced in citrus groves. The Edsel, when it was finally unveiled, proved to be a profoundly ugly automobile. Its most notable physical attribute was a grill that bore an unmistakable resemblance to a toilet seat. Obamacare, for its part, came with the individual mandate, the Soviet-style Independent Payment Advisory Board, and a list of new taxes that exceeded the worst fears of its most ardent opponents.

Even worse, neither the Edsel nor Obamacare worked properly. The former, as the Post went on to report, had mechanical problems that transcended its aesthetic shortcomings: “Oil pans fell off, trunks stuck, paint peeled, doors failed to close and the much-hyped ‘Teletouch’ push-button transmission had a distressing tendency to freeze up.” Likewise, the wheels came off Obamacare as soon as it was rolled out…

Oh, this is rich. And David Catron isn't done with the all-too-illustrative comparison so read the rest of "Obamacare and the Edsel: A Tale of Two Lemons" here in the American Spectator.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Today's Posts

A Child Victim of Violent Persecution Finally Walks

From the Facebook page of Voice of the Martyrs comes this encouraging report, complete with a very uplifting video clip.

Just got this new video of Weng walking in his new shoes!

Weng Goodluck Tshua was three weeks old in March 2010 when Fulani Muslims attacked his village of Dogo Nahawa and slaughtered 501 Christians. All nine members of his family, including his father and mother, were killed. He was rescued from his burning house, but not before the fire had consumed his feet. As Weng has grown over the past few years, he has been unable to run around or even walk. But a VOM prosthetics team is helping change that.

After studying his feet, the prosthetics team fashioned special shoes for both of his misshapen limbs. They returned several months later with specially fitted shoes that can be adjusted as three-year-old Weng continues to grow. Each shoe is made of three layers. As Weng grows, the inner layers can be removed as needed, to allow more room in the shoes. The team plans to provide new shoes for Weng before he grows out of the final layer of these shoes.

You can support blessings like this one to Weng and help provide for other Christians in need of medical care due to persecution by giving to support VOMedical.

ObamaCare: Wishful Thinking vs Math

In plain language and with practical illustrations, renowned financial authority Dave Ramsey lays it on the line about ObamaCare, Social Security, taxes and more.

Pass this video clip along. It's good stuff.

VSM: Review and Preview

Last week began with an unusually adventurous church service in which I interviewed an old friend, Dan Butler. Dan was an extremely influential friend to both Claire and I in the early 70s. His service in the last 25 years, however, has been in Arizona as a chaplain in the prison system, the National Guard, and now the VA Hospital. Our conversation was originally going to be a short one but the topics were so relevant and the audience's interest so keen that I decided to use the whole sermon time. It was valuable, profound, and very well received.

Then, after a quick lunch at Jason's Deli with Dan and his wife Charlene, we joined others from our church for a very rainy hour's pro-life witness in this year's Life Chain. Quint Coppi joined us there at 72nd and Dodge too. We were drenched by the end of the Life Chain but very pleased at the response from the public.

But the week was just getting started. There were several hospital visits to a dying friend.  There was blogging and the regular Tuesday/Thursday Panera's meetings with Dick Wilson, John Malek and Pat Osborne.  We also had a couple of evenings of entertaining -- one night with the Butlers and another with our literary club.

Mowing the lawn. Working on the monthly newsletter. Preparing for Sunday's sermon and the adult Sunday school class. Dealing with a vicious hacking job on Claire's computer.  And 6 presentations of "When Swing Was King" -- all of which went swimmingly.

This week will be a hectic one too. For in addition to all the regular duties (including getting out the LifeSharer letter and doing another 7 "When Swing Was King" presentations), we will be traveling to Hastings, Nebraska later this week where I have to help with a funeral. So, if blogging is a little irregular, you'll know why.

And then next week...no kidding...Claire and I are taking off for a vacation down Branson way. We can hardly wait.

It's Not Only China and India: Gendercide in the Caucasus

Xavier Symons issued this brief report in BioEdge.

An international team of researchers has identified massive sex-selection problems in the Caucasus. The study, published this month in the journal International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, indicates that three post-Soviet states have boy-to-girl ratios at birth of at least 116. The normal ratio is about 105.

Armenia (117), Azerbaijan (116) and Georgia (121) have overall ratios equal to or higher than China and India (118 and 111 respectively). In Armenia the situation is particularly dire; the first child sex ratio is 137 and if the first child is a girl, the ratio for the second is off the charts at 154.

The authors provided a number of possible causes for the sex disparity, which has greatly increased since the 1980s. One key factor is the increasingly availability of ultrasounds from the mid-1980s.

They also speculate that ethnic conflicts may have indirectly influenced sex-selection: “such situations, by virtue of their extended nature and the general mobilization they entail, might greatly diminish women’s bargaining powers in the public and private spheres, such that men’s preference for sons determines couples’ reproductive and family planning practices.”

The Economist suggested that there has been a revival of traditional ‘son-valuing’ and a breakdown of the egalitarian attitudes of the Soviet era. 

Political Progressives Hooking Up with Young Evangelicals

If you don't stand with truth, you'll fall -- even for the silliest and most sinister of lies. And because evangelical leaders for several decades now have failed to teach the Bible to the youth of their churches, they have lost them to an irrational and irreligious culture.

Read the following column from Chelsen Vicari for some tragic examples.

Newark, N.J. Mayor and Senate hopeful Cory Booker is not known for proclaiming his love of Jesus or evangelizing to his fellow politicians and constituents. So as a 20-something evangelical, I find it curious that Mayor Booker is a featured key-note speaker at this weekend’s Catalyst Atlanta 2013, a Christian conference gathering together young evangelicals for worship, learning, and sharing their faith in Jesus Christ.

The mission of the Catalyst conference seems simple. So, why is Mayor Booker hoisted between speakers like Dave Ramsey and John Piper at a conference supposedly geared towards worshiping Jesus Christ, not catapulting Senate campaigns? There is an answer, but it is not so simple: Liberal Christians -- despite how “apolitical” they claim to be -- are feeding a repackaged version of evangelicalism to millennials for their own radical, yes political, agenda.

This year’s Catalyst conference is one such example of their crusade to spread liberal ideology, not theology. Why else would Catalyst invite Mayor Booker, whose speaker bio doesn’t even include the word Jesus, Christian, or God? Oh, but according to his political biography, as Democratic National Committee (DNC) co-chair he did advocate for no-restriction abortions and tax-payer funded abortions regardless of infringements to religious liberty...

Not only are liberal Christians sidestepping abortion, gay marriage or socialism, but are rallying for them.

In a recent op-ed for CNN.com titled, “Why Millennials Are Leaving the Church,” Rachel Held Evans throws out the false claim that young Christians are leaving the church because Christianity has become “Too political, too exclusive, old-fashioned, unconcerned with social justice and hostile to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.”  She advocates for the church to become less concerned with sex (a.k.a. abortion and contraception) and more consumed with eradicating poverty and embracing homosexuality.

If you’re thinking her diatribe resembles less of the Scriptures and more of the DNC platform, you’re not alone...

It is time for the liberal evangelicals to stop lying. It is time they come clean with millennials about their liberal political motives...

From "Why Liberal Evangelicals are Lying to Millennials" by Chelsen Vicari, the Evangelical Program Director for the Institute on Religion and Democracy, and published here at the IRD blog, Juicy Ecumenism.

What's the Real Deal with ObamaCare?

Ready for a straightforward look at what's actually behind the smoke, mirrors and government grasping that is ObamaCare?

Last Friday, Robert E. Moffit, a senior fellow in the Center for Health Policy Studies at The Heritage Foundation, published an essay in the Tribune (Pittsburgh) entitled "ObamaCare: It's All About Control." It's good...and it's right here.

On health care, the president's pile of broken promises keeps getting higher. Consider this gem from Aug. 20, 2009: “Let's be clear about the fact that nobody has proposed anything close to a government takeover of health care.”

Well, yes, somebody did. President Obama is now well on his way to orchestrating the federal government's takeover of Americans' health care.

Commandeering the resources of major federal departments, particularly the Department of Health and Human Services and the IRS, the administration and its allies in Congress have created numerous federal bureaus, commissions and programs and have issued thousands of pages of rules, regulations, guidelines and directives, all reinforced by unprecedented mandates and new taxes, fees, fines and penalties. Central planning and coercion holds this sprawling thing together.

Virtually all key health care decisions will be made by government officials. Not you. Not your employer. Not your insurance company.

Beginning Jan. 1, government officials will require you to buy a federally approved health plan or pay federal fines or tax penalties. They will define and redefine, at their pleasure, the content of your health benefits package, meaning the medical treatments and procedures you must have; the kind and level of preventive health care services you must have; the level of coverage you must have; the level of cost sharing, deductibles and co-payments that are acceptable — to them, not you…

 You will get what government officials say you will get.

Because the statutory language is often vague, “experts” at HHS and the IRS are free to write detailed regulations that cover a multitude of thorny items, such as the definition of “quality care” or “value” in doctor- or hospital-care delivery. Of course, officials who make the rules can make exceptions to the rules, issuing waivers, or exemptions, or securing special treatment for favored groups. The most obnoxious example is the Office of Personnel Management's decision to give hefty taxpayer subsidies to members of Congress and congressional staff to offset their premium costs in the new health insurance exchanges next year. Those special subsidies are bereft of statutory authority.

Government officials will exercise more control over the flow of your health care dollars and subject you to mandates and penalties. Your personal freedom will be curtailed by those who claim to know what is best for you.

Meanwhile, the president and his allies will insist that what you are witnessing firsthand is not a “government takeover” of health care.

You can either believe them or your own eyes.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Today's Posts

International Day of the Girl Child

Today, October 11, is International Day of the Girl Child.  It was established by the UN in 2011 “to recognize girls’ rights and the unique challenges girls face around the world.”  It is a “girl’s right” not to be deleted from existence just because she’s a girl.  It is the “unique challenge” of girls in China and India to emerge from their mothers’ wombs alive, so that they may draw breath upon this earth and see the light of day.

For most of us, hearing “it’s a girl” is cause for enormous joy, happiness and celebration.  But in many countries, this announcement is a death sentence.  Experts estimate that up to 200 million women are missing in the world today due to gendercide, mostly in China and India.

This should not be a pro-choice or a pro-life issue.  This is a human rights issue. Gendercide is violence against women and girls.  No one supports the systematic elimination of females.

Or so I thought.  Just last week it was reported that it is now legal to selectively abort girls in the UK.

Where is the “feminist” outcry? How does it advance women’s rights to selectively abort hundreds of millions of girls, simply because they are future women? When faced with human rights atrocities of this scale, silence is complicity...

Read more of Reggie Littlejohn's essay right here.

California (Bad) Dreamin'

Among the bills that California's loony left Governor Jerry Brown has just signed into law are these three:

1. Illegal Immigrants Can Drive Legally.

2. Non-Doctors Can Administer First-Trimester Abortions.

3. Children Can Have More Than Two Parents of Any Gender Combination.

Way back in the 70's, Christian apologist and teacher Francis Schaeffer frequently used the term "stupid-wicked" to describe how immorality and rebellion against the Creator God inevitably leads to irrational, self-damaging actions.

How on earth could he describe how far we've gone down that road since then?

Over 3 Years and Over $600 Million for This ObamaCare Lemon?

To add insult to injury, how much did taxpayers fork over to build the non-functioning Obamacare website? According to government records, the figure appears to be north of $600 million, (somewhat appropriately) way over budget...

Three-and-a-half years and more than half-a-billion dollars later, the Obama administration has an unmitigated failure on its hands. This is why people don't trust big government to do big things, especially with spendthrift incompetents at the wheel.

What's With Barack Obama & the Muslim Brotherhood?

Excerpts below are from "The Muslim Brotherhood President," an illuminating article written by Robert Spencer in Front Page Magazine.

The State Department announced Wednesday that it was cutting hundreds of millions in military and other aid to Egypt, and make no mistake: this was not a government shutdown move. This was the President of the United States blackmailing a sovereign state to force it to restore the Muslim Brotherhood government he favors. With the Egyptian economy in crisis and Egypt strongly dependent on this aid, Obama has just effectively cast his vote for the Muslim Brotherhood’s return to power – and his vote outweighs that of millions of Egyptians.

This comes as the Brotherhood is becoming increasingly violent in Egypt, belying its “moderate” reputation. The New York Times reported Tuesday that “three brazen attacks across the country included a drive-by shooting near the Suez Canal that killed six soldiers, a car bomb that killed three police officers and wounded dozens near the Red Sea resorts area, and the first rocket-propelled grenade launched in the struggle, exploding near an elite enclave of the capital and damaging a satellite transmitter.”

Obama has said nothing about this. Nor has he said anything about the recent attempt by Muslim Brotherhood supporters to assassinate Bishop Makarios of Upper Egypt’s Minya governorate, where Brotherhood men have burned churches and terrorized Christians, scapegoating them for the toppling of the Muslim Brotherhood regime. Indeed, Christians have been scapegoated and brutalized all over Egypt at the hands of supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood...

Obama’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood goes back to the beginning of his presidency. Early in 2009, when the group was still outlawed in Egypt, he met with its leaders. He made sure to invite Brotherhood leaders to attend his notorious speech to the Islamic world in Cairo in June 4, 2009.

He even invited Ingrid Mattson, then-president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), to offer a prayer at the National Cathedral on his first Inauguration Day – despite the fact that ISNA has admitted its ties to the Brotherhood. The previous summer, federal prosecutors rejected a request from ISNA to remove its unindicted co-conspirator status.

With Brotherhood operatives so warmly favored in the Obama Administration, it’s no surprise that he would want them in power in Egypt as well. And by cutting off aid, he’s strong-arming the Egyptians until they have no choice but to agree.

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Memo to American Democrats: Check Out Venezuela.

Socialism is a dead end -- always has been. But wishful thinking progressives just can't seem to learn the lessons of history until, like the people of Venezuela, they see that the vaunted rhetoric and coercive planning of socialism yields narcissistic tyrants who see ghost birds...but not fresh food, clean water or toilet paper.

Below are excerpts from Alasdair Baverstock and Hannah Strange, "As socialist dream crumbles, Venezuelans find Nicolas Maduro 'a bad copy' of Chavez," The Telegraph.

...Despite sitting on the world’s largest oil reserves, Venezuela’s socialist government can’t quite manage to keep the lights on. Now many in Venezuela are wondering how much longer President Nicolas Maduro, the anointed successor of the country’s firebrand Leftist leader Hugo Chavez, can keep hold of the reins of its crumbling socialist revolution...

Official inflation has soared above 45 per cent - 55 per cent for groceries - basic product shortages leave entire families without food and widespread power outages are commonplace. Meanwhile the South American country is witnessing an average of 71 homicides every day, one of the highest murder rates in the world.

“This country is a thousand times worse than it was six months ago”, said Pedro Sosa, a Chavez supporter who voted for Mr Maduro but now regrets having done so. “Choosing Maduro as his successor was a mistake (by Chavez),”said Veronica Tapia, 22, a student at the Caracas Institute of Finance.

In one Kafka-esque example of state inefficiency, a Reuters investigation recently found that three new oil tankers unveiled with flags and confetti in the last 14 months were still sitting in their shipyards, never having set sail despite their multi-million dollar price tags.

Meanwhile supermarket shelves sit empty. In late September, the government ordered the army into the country’s largest toilet paper factory as supplies dried up. Mr Maduro blamed the shortage on Venezuelans “eating more”.

The desperate scramble for necessities is increasingly spilling over into violence. At the end of last month, a lorry driver was crushed to death by looters as they scrambled to steal his cargo on a Caracas motorway. In the eastern city of Ciudad Bolivar, a man died as a mob clamoured for a bottle of oil and a loaf of bread at a state-run supermarket...

Mr Maduro has tried to capitalise on the almost cult-like devotion to his predecessor, declaring himself the “son of Chavez” and attempting to emulate his thundering rhetoric. He has related on national television how he often sleeps in the late president’s mausoleum. He has even, he claims, been visited by the spirit of Chavez in the form of a small bird.

But his excuses - he has in six months alleged 13 conspiracies against his government and four assassination plots against himself - are starting to ring hollow..

A Corny Con Man vs A Gullible Government

Even in the crazy, corrupt and wasteful world of modern American politics, the story of John Beale is still quite remarkable. Check it out in this detailed report from C.J. Ciaramella in the Washington Free Beacon, "The Spook that Never Was.

The strange and sordid saga of John Beale, a top Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official who defrauded the federal government out of nearly $900,000, has by turns outraged, flabbergasted, and sickened members of Congress, but on Tuesday it achieved something even rarer: It left them speechless...

Over the course of two congressional hearings Monday and Tuesday, new details emerged about Beale, a former top EPA official who over the course of 13 years bilked the agency out hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraudulent travel vouchers and illegal bonuses. Along the way, Beale falsely claimed to be an agent for the Central Intelligence Agency, a Vietnam War veteran, and remained on payroll for over a year after a retirement party on a Potomac dinner cruise.

Overall, Beale spent two and a half years absent from work while still getting paid. According to investigators, he committed time card fraud, travel fraud, impersonated a federal agent, and misused a government passport, among other crimes.

He pled guilty on Friday to charges of felony theft of government property, which carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in federal prison.

Because of his clean record and guilty plea, his probable prison sentence will be 30 to 37 months. He will also pay restitution of $886,186 to the EPA and civil forfeitures of $507,207.

With criminal proceedings mostly out of the way, Congress has begun piecing together the details of how a con man gamed the system for over a decade in what the EPA Inspector General’s office called an “egregious and almost unbelievable case.”...

Read on.

Will Chip Run?

In past Vital Signs Blog posts, I've alerted readers to two remarkable books written by former Douglas County Commissioner and Nebraska State Senator, Chip Maxwell. Both books are well-argued, succinct, and affordable -- so they really should be in your library.  Those books are Plain Talk on Stem Cell Research and Fix It Now: Rediscover the Constitution & Get America Out of Its Fiscal Death Spiral.

You can purchase both books by using the links to Amazon above. And, yes, Kindle versions are available too.

I've also mentioned here on the blog about Chip Maxwell's consideration of a run for Congress. And that's actually the prime subject of today's post; namely, to let Chip himself explain his reasoning to you via a news statement sent out earlier this morning.

However, let me preface Chip's letter with an admission of my own. Chip Maxwell is a friend and a pro-life colleague. And as a member of the Advisory Board of the Nebraska Coalition for Ethical Research, I have seen Chip's work (he has served as NCER's director and chief public spokesman) up close and personal. Both Claire and I have been quite impressed with him over the years. He is a witty, clear-thinking, well-spoken communicator who is able to not only understand complex and controversial issues but then to expertly translate them to others. That's why he's so good as a talk radio host. He is also a faithful, compassionate, generous family man.

All these qualities have made Chip Maxwell a very effective public servant in the past and we have hopes they will be appreciated by Nebraska's 2nd District Republicans in his campaign (if he runs) for Congress.

Okay, here's the statement from Chip Maxwell.

Earlier this year I talked about exploring a run for Congress. Two things happened in the spring and summer. One, I began a new job at TS Bank. Two, my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer in early May and died June 30. The initial effect of the combined occurrences was to push politics off my radar screen. In the case of Dad’s death, though, the secondary effect was a jolt of urgency. If you see gray hair in the mirror and there’s something you think needs doing, you’d better go for it. I am hitting the reset button and resuming exploration of a run for Congress. I will decide by the end of the year whether to run.

In case you are wondering about the timing of this announcement, the recent flare-up over Congressman Terry’s shutdown paycheck is not a factor. I’ve been looking at this for a while. I met with Lee in the fall of 2011 to say I was looking at running. In the summer of 2012 I provided him an early draft of my book so he didn’t hear about it through the grapevine.

I want to make clear that there is nothing personal in this. When Lee learned that my father had died, he immediately called, and he and his wife and father came to the wake and were their usual warm and gracious selves, consoling me and my family with sincerity and good humor. I always will be grateful for that.

My motivation is a long-simmering concern over the long-term slide to the left in our national fiscal policy. I’m more worked up about what the president said yesterday than I am about anything Lee Terry has said or done.

The president said raising the debt ceiling does not increase the debt. He is lying, or he is so steeped in leftist ideology that he fails to grasp, or refuses to acknowledge, basic principles of government finance. He says we aren’t going to spend any more money than what was already approved. Yes, but we don’t have enough money in the Treasury to pay for that level of spending. So he wants to raise the debt ceiling and borrow more money to cover the difference – which increases the debt!

This president is setting up his children and mine for a fiscal mauling. I’m going to see if I can do something about it.

Joe Gibbs' Latest Venture

So what is NFL legend, NASCAR powerhouse and outspoken Christian Joe Gibbs up to this fall? Check it out.

Joe Gibbs is one of those rare men who has reached the mountaintop in not one, but two hyper competitive sports. He took the Washington Redskins to the Super Bowl four times and went 3-1 in the big game, knocking off the Dolphins, Broncos and Bills. Then he hung up the whistle and created Joe Gibbs Racing, where he's won three championships in NASCAR's elite series. This year, with only eight races remaining, the top two cars in NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup Championship are JGR teams.

Indeed, on this particular Monday evening, he's barely 15 hours removed from a NASCAR celebration in Chicago, where JGR's Matt Kenseth won the first race of the Chase. Yet here's Gibbs, alongside his sons J.D. and Coy, coaching youngsters on the finer points of handoffs and snap counts.

"These are kids in fourth and fifth grade, they have no idea what he did," J.D. Gibbs, now president of JGR, says of his father. "It's just great to see him engage with these kids."

So what brought Gibbs back to the field? One word: family. He's got quite a few grandsons, and as they reach football age, Gibbs spends a few seasons giving them some lessons from the master...

Monday, October 07, 2013

Today's Posts

The Week That Was

It looks like a busy week ahead. The schedule includes the regular blogging duties, quite a bit of correspondence, working on shifting our website to a new format, hosting friends for dinner, the usual morning meetings at Panera's, getting our chimney swept, tending to the lawn, stuffing envelopes and mailing out the LifeSharer letter, and 6 presentations of "When Swing Was King."

So you can see why we don't have too much time to reflect on last week's activities. But, because it was such an interesting and productive week (and because I promised my Facebook friends that I would), I'll risk a little reflection anyway.

Certainly a highlight of the week was our trip down to Harrisonville, Missouri (about 35 miles southeast of Kansas City) where I was to give an address at the annual fundraising banquet for Life Choice Center for Women, a Christ-centered pregnancy aid service that serves the people of several counties.

We rented a car at the airport on Wednesday night and started out early the next morning. We had a steady rain from the moment we left Omaha but nothing we considered very dangerous so our prayers and conversation centered on the fundraising banquet that night and not on the storm. But that changed in Kansas City. We suddenly hit several squalls of hard-driving rain that made made both visibility and vehicle control problematic. But the worst was over in 20 minutes or so and, by the time we made it to Harrisonville, we actually had clear skies and sunlight.

We had arranged to meet the Life Choice Center director at a restaurant just off the highway and we were there with time to spare. And our luncheon was enhanced greatly when not only Linda showed up but 6 others who are deeply involved with the ministry there. We had a wonderful time learning about the Center's history and operating procedures, the Christian convictions that were hallmarks of its operations, and the expectations of the staff and governing board for the banquet. On several levels, we were impressed and we left the luncheon with the opinion we had already made some new friends.

That belief was solidified in the tour Linda gave us of the Center's facility. The ministry operates out of an old building not far from the city square. It's in a house that was long ago converted into a business with all kinds of alterations and additions made along the way. But the Center has done a remarkable job of restoring, fixing, beautifying, keeping clean, and utilizing it.

Every one of its many rooms were attractive, organized, and well-equipped for the various tasks the Center performs. And they do a lot: free pregnancy tests, counseling, ultrasound views, parenting classes, physical assistance to moms and families, health screening, education, referrals, children's clothing, Bible studies, friendship, networking, prayer teams, website outreach, and more.

Claire and I were really touched by the abundant evidence of many years of excellent work for the cause of Christ that has been accomplished in this place.

Then there was the banquet that night.. I had listened closely and taken notes throughout the afternoon and so I was able to weave into my talk a lot of illustrations, stories, applications and needs from the Center's work itself. I first gave a review of our pro-life work over the last 30 plus years which, as you know, has involved almost every area of the pro-life movement, I did so in order to put into context this statement, "The pregnancy aid center is the crown of the pro-life movement. Indeed, the Christ-centered pregnancy aid center is one of the most important and beautiful crowns of the Church in our day."

It was then in the argument defending that statement in which I used the specifics I had learned about the Life Choice Center for Women that afternoon and, even earlier in the banquet, as I listened to the moving testimonies given by three of the Center's recent clients. Along the way, I was pitching for the community's generous support of the Life Choice Center as well as doing some cheerleading for the staff, volunteers and supporters that had already accomplished so much.

The talk was well-received and it stimulated some very nice, very encouraging conversations with folks afterward. And we learned later that the Center had surpassed its fundraising goals for the evening. Thank You, Lord. And thank you to all who prayed for our safe travel and for the success of the event.

On the way home the next day, we stopped briefly in Liberty, Missouri to visit with a long time friend and pro-life colleague, Harvey Gilbert. Then on Saturday we joined friends for prayers outside the Planned Parenthood abortion mill here in northwest Omaha, caught up with the Maleks a little about their trip to Italy, visited a World War II combat vet who had been hospitalized, and completed work on Sunday's sermon.

But the church service the next morning ended up taking a different turn. We had learned earlier in the week that dears friends from our past, Dan and Charlene Butler, were in town from Arizona and would be stopping in at church. I had planned to introduce them before the sermon and even talk a little about how our friendship back in the early 70s was an illustration of things I had spoken of last Sunday in examining I Samuel 18 and Jonathan's desire to have David as a friend.

However, on the drive downtown, I decided to postpone the sermon I had in my folder and instead opt for a non-traditional program for that morning, one which used an interview format for Dan and I (and eventually Claire) to have a wide-ranging conversation. Among the topics we explored were conversion, finding the will of God, the power of spiritual friendships, the crucial importance of godly parenting, Christianity that goes beyond the church building, Bible study, and more. It was engaging, extremely interesting, and different enough to really draw the congregation's attention and there was quite a buzz of appreciative comments afterward. That was really neat.

The day wasn't over yet though. There was lunch with the Butlers and other friends at Jason's Deli after church. Then a cold, rainy hour standing at the corner of 72nd and Dodge for this year's Life Chain.  And then home for a hot cup of tea, a look in to the Bronco game...and getting ready for the whirl coming around this next week.

Oh yes, one other thing we're getting ready for -- a long overdue vacation!

Harry Reid: Captain of the Democrat "Mean Team"

The comments below are from today's "Morning Jolt with Jim Geraghty," a e-mail newsletter you can receive for free simply by signing up for at National Review Online.

It's free. And it's really good.

The Sadism of Harry Reid

sadism: (noun) enjoyment that someone gets from being violent or cruel or from causing pain...

On Saturday, the House of Representatives passed a resolution 407-0 to ensure back pay for federal workers furloughed because of the shutdown. Those federal workers still have the problem of no paycheck coming until after the shutdown ends -- but if and when this bill passes, they can at least take assurance that they'll get paid for the weeks they've been furloughed.*

This is quite the revealing moment, as the leadership of the Democratic party and federal government workers are supposed to be the best of friends -- symbiotic, really. But when the moment comes to help out federal workers, Harry Reid drags his feet. The only plausible motivation is that the Democrats' strategy for "winning" the shutdown fight requires maximizing the pain to as many Americans as possible, so that the pressure is maximized on the GOP opposition to accept a deal that amounts to unconditional surrender.

Thus, we have a government shutdown where the federal Amber Alert site is down, but Michelle Obama's "Drink Water" site remains up. (The volunteer site, AmberAlert.com, and MissingKids.com are still up.) Now wonder this morning people are saying the president lives in "the Spite House."

I hope those federal workers are paying attention.

Harry Reid drags his feet on alleviating the financial anxiety of hundreds of thousands of furloughed federal workers, and he's refused to bring to the floor seven continuing resolutions, all passed by the House, all passed by wide and fairly bipartisan majorities (all or almost all of the Republicans, and another 20 or so House Democrats):

* Authorizing military chaplains to do their duties during the shutdown;
* Continuing appropriations for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children for fiscal year 2014 (food stamps).
* Continuing appropriations for the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
* Continuing appropriations for veterans benefits.
* Continuing appropriations for the National Institutes of Health.
* Continuing appropriations for National Park Service operations, the Smithsonian Institution, the National Gallery of Art, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
* Continuing appropriations of local funds of the District of Columbia.

Not a single one of those resolutions says anything about Obamacare.

We know why Harry Reid isn't bringing them to the floor. If he did, they would pass. Senate Democrats wouldn't be able to vote "no" on any of those priorities without providing fodder for attack ads next fall (maybe the District of Columbia). And if they pass, the pain of the shutdown is mitigated in part.

Harry Reid doesn't want to minimize the pain of the shutdown. He wants to maximize it...

Destroy the Churches. Only Islam Allowed.

Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia Abdulaziz Bin Abdullah has once again called for the destruction of all Churches on the Arabian Peninsula…The Mufti stated that, according to Islamic law, all churches in the region must be demolished; i.e., Islam is the only legal religion here. The words of Muhammad that "there cannot be two religions on the Arabian peninsula" the head of the Sunni always interprets in favor of Islam.

Hmm. Have you seen this covered in the network news? Didn't see it on CNN or the Huffington Post? No joking reference from David Letterman or Jon Stewart? And no response whatsoever from the President or Secretary of State John Kerry?

Well, imagine the difference in response if the Pope had suggested that only Roman Catholic churches be allowed in Italy. Or if Billy Graham had stated that all synagogues, mosques and temples in North Carolina be demolished.

Double standard? Oh, it's much more than that. It's yet another example of the mind-numbing preferential treatment that the Western press gives to the most intolerant and violent of the world's…uh, religions.

It's a very sad and dangerous situation.

The Meanness of Obama's "Selective Shutdown"

And you thought President Obama might retreat a bit from the mocking, manipulative meanness with which he is playing the government shutdown? Think again.

From The Right Scoop:

This is unbelievable. The Obama administration has shut down the Amber Alert website because of the government shutdown and it now renders this message when you attempt to access it:

I’m sure you care about your lost child but Obama doesn’t – at least not while he’s trying to ‘win’ the government shutdown. I understand from twitter that Amber alerts are state level programs with a federal website. Not real sure how all that works but it just seems unfathomable that this website wouldn’t qualify under ‘essential’, especially when most of the government is still operating.

No, this is just Obama putting politics ahead of you finding your lost child. Despicable.

UPDATE: Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move website works just fine. Seriously.

Don't Miss These

* "The List: Unnecessarily Shut Down by Obama to Inflict Public Pain" (John Nolte, Breitbart)

* "Obama Overplays His Shutdown Hand" (Investor's Business Daily editorial)

* "Why The Left Can Never Be Trusted With Power" (Steven Hayward, PowerLine)

* "It’s obvious why people don’t trust ObamaCare" (Michael Tanner, New York Post)

* "No such thing as 'population explosion'" (Marcus Roberts, Mercator)

* "Obama As Chaos" (Victor Davis Hanson, PJ Media)

* "Why is Violence Against Teachers Being Covered Up?" (Scottie Hughes, Town Hall)

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Today's Posts

$542 Million a Year in Tax Money Isn't Enough. Planned Parenthood Now Paid to Push ObamaCare.

Uh, How's That "Fundamental Transformation" of America Thing Going?

Ken Blackwell (and Vital Signs Blog) Are Singing the Ethanol Blues

Democrats Are Into "Shut Downs" Now. Here's One of Hillary's.

Democrats Go Out of Their Way To "Shut Down" WW II Vets

$542 Million a Year in Tax Money Isn't Enough. Planned Parenthood Now Paid to Push ObamaCare.

Planned Parenthood claims to be the ultimate “sexual health” expert, especially for women. But, when you look a little deeper, what will you find? A federally-funded, corrupt business relying on a vicious cycle of bad decisions.

Not only is the nation’s largest abortion vendor currently under investigation by the GAO (Government Accountability Office) for double billing Medicaid, but now they are being paid more than $650,000 as official “Obamacare Navigators” to push women and men to sign up for Obamacare, which they stand to make hundreds of millions from. This puts the federal government and U.S. taxpayers in the same, dirty bed as Planned Parenthood…

Here's more from Kristan Hawkins.

Uh, How's That "Fundamental Transformation" of America Thing Going?

“We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” (Barack Obama, October 30, 2008)

“We are going to have to change our conversation; we’re going to have to change our traditions, our history; we’re going to have to move into a different place as a nation.” (Michelle Obama, May 14, 2008)

There certainly is no question that Barack Obama wants to change the United States. And there clearly is no doubt that such fundamental transformation is difficult, given our tripartite system of government — even though Obama entered office with large Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress, an enthralled media, and a closely divided Supreme Court.

So to what degree, after nearly five years in office, has Obama succeeded in changing the United States?

Victor Davis Hanson answers that question in a sober and profound essay. Check it out in NRO right here.

(Spoiler alert: America's in some deep trouble, folks. And Hanson doesn't even get into the social issues.)

Ken Blackwell (and Vital Signs Blog) Are Singing the Ethanol Blues

Corn prices are soaring, driving many American cattle ranchers to the edge of extinction. And with corn prices so doggone high, the prices of gasoline and innumerable connected commodities and services are driving many American families in the same perilous direction.

What's going on? One major factor is something that will likely surprise you.

It's ethanol.

Now I've complained about ethanol before: it's inefficiency, it's freakish damage to the economy, the corrupted politics required to protect it, and, most of all, the moral problem involved in turning food that a hungry world needs into fuel.

And now I have more reason to complain than ever since the governments of Iowa and Nebraska have mandated that all unleaded fuel sold in their states be an ethanol blend.

No kidding. 

Those corrupted politics of corn have moved into overt coercion, forcing me to either get with the program or start buying premium gasoline at 25-35 cents more per gallon. And that's what I will do. But, even then, many gas dealers in the Midwest have given up the fight altogether and offer only ethanol-laced products at their pumps.

Okay, I know many of you are unaware of the ethanol scam and so you're thinking I've strayed into some strange fields of conspiracy theory. I'm afraid not.

Among the salient Vital Signs Blog posts dealing with this important matter are: Ethanol -- It's Not Accomplishing What You Think; Biofuels vs Food; and Let's Stop the Ethanol Scam.

But, in addition to checking out the above links, I encourage you to read through the extensive excerpts I print below from a recent Ken Blackwell article over at CNS News ("The Renewable Fuel Standard Is Another Taxpayer-Funded Bailout"). Blackwell, you will remember, is a former mayor of Cincinnati who later served as Ohio State Treasurer and Ohio Secretary of State. He serves now as Senior Fellow for Family Empowerment for the Family Research Council. Writes Blackwell,

We're all paying more at the pump. It's hurting consumers and dangerous for the fragile economy. And, it's because of a Washington handout to corn farmers and big Wall Street banks - all disguised as a measure to promote renewable energy and clean-burning fuels.

The Renewable Fuel Standards (RFS) mandates an ever-increasing floor of ethanol be mixed with gasoline. The bill, which was expanded under President Obama, ensures a baseline level of demand for ethanol, distorting the market and sending the price of corn substantially higher. That's because gasoline refiners have to purchase ethanol, regardless of the price.

So, corn prices tripled, which has factored its way into the prices of other agriculture products. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the impact of the RFS is so broad that ethanol subsidies account for 10-15 percent of the rise in overall food prices. In terms of the overall economy, the RFS is expected to cause a decline of $770 billion in GDP in 2015 alone. That's real economic activity, which translates to real jobs and incomes for Americans throughout the country.

And, hardly anyone in Congress or the Obama administration thinks the current law is working. The Environmental Protection Agency, which is run by leftist environmentalists, said that it does not "foresee a scenario in which the market could consume enough ethanol [...] and/or produce sufficient volumes of non-ethanol biofuels to meet the volumes of total renewable fuel and advanced biofuel as required by statute for 2014." So, in other words - Washington has once again imposed unachievable burdens on the private sector.

But what may be worse than this indirect subsidy to corn farmers is the way that big Wall Street banks are exploiting it at the expense of consumers. That's because if a gasoline refiner cannot meet the demands of the RFS, it can purchase credits, called renewable identification numbers (RINs), in a "marketplace." But unlike transparent marketplaces like Amazon, the market for RINs is opaque and dominated by speculators with no interest except driving the price higher.

The New York Times recently reported that, "the price of the ethanol credits skyrocketed 20-fold in just six months." A credit that went for 7 cents at the start of the year traded for $1.43 in July, according to Bloomberg. And that price is simply passed along to consumers at the pump - a large factor keeping gas prices above $3 per gallon nationwide for 1,000 consecutive days.

But Congress has approached the RFS from a weak position, intimidated by powerful lobby groups who like these handouts. Though the Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Fred Upton (MI), has assigned four members to find a solution, just one - Rep. Steve Scalise (LA) - has called for full repeal. The others - Reps. John Shimkus (IL), Lee Terry (NE) and Cory Gardner (CO) - are calling for "reform."

...Conservatives in Congress need to stop trying to save the RFS - and repeal it in its entirety. Doing that will relieve some of the pain at the pump, stop the increase in food prices and save Americans $770 million in economic activity in 2015.