Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Mayflower Compact (In Modern English)

As you remember from your history classes (I hope), the Mayflower Compact represents our nation's earliest and one of its most important documents.  It was drawn up by the party of Pilgrims who had crossed the Atlantic Ocean seeking religious freedom and the opportunity to spread the gospel. The covenant was made while they were still aboard the ship and was signed on November 11, 1620 (Old Style date) in what is now Provincetown Harbor near Cape Cod.

Having landed at Plymouth (named by Captain John Smith), the Pilgrims realized that they had ended up in a region that wasn't charted by the London Company. They also understood that earlier settlements in the New World had failed because of a lack of proper government. Thus, the Mayflower Compact was a critical social/religious contract in which the settlers consented to follow the rules and regulations of a government that would derive its power from the consent of the governed.

The best reading of the Mayflower Compact includes Governor William Bradford's description of the circumstances just prior to the signing, "This day, before we came to harbour, observing some not well affected to unity and concord, but gave some appearance of faction, it was thought good there should be an association and agreement, that we should combine together in one body, and to submit to such government and governors as we should by common consent agree to make and choose, and set our hands to this that follows, word for word."

And then the compact itself:

In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the loyal subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, defender of the Faith, etc.

Having undertaken, for the Glory of God, and advancements of the Christian faith and honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia, do by these presents, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one another, covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic; for our better ordering, and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.

In witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape Cod the 11th of November, in the year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth, 1620.

"Why Is Thankfulness So Important?"

"In everything give thanks, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."(1 Thessalonians 5:18)

The Bible is not subtle in its calls for thanksgiving. Repeatedly, urgently, and throughout its many books the reader is urged to "give thanks to the Lord, for He is good," and "in all things give thanks." In both Old and New Testaments, both Gospels and Epistles, we are urged to consider our blessings, and the character of the One from whom they flow, and to offer praise and thanks in response.

Centuries later, Martin Luther described gratitude as "the basic Christian attitude" and the Puritan theologian Jonathan Edwards asserted that a spirit of thankfulness to God was an indicator of one's spiritual state.

Why, one might wonder, is thankfulness so important?

The act of thanksgiving requires both memory and humility -- both reflection on the causes and sources of gratitude, and the recognition of the blessing as a grace, rather than an entitlement. As such, a spirit of thanksgiving is incompatible with pride and distracted self-absorption, two of the greatest threats to spiritual life. It is virtually impossible to be thankful when one is distracted or indignant; thankfulness requires a laying aside of slights and irritations to focus on one's unearned blessings and their source…


(From “Thinking About Thanksgiving” by Cherie Harder, President of Trinity Forum.)

What Has Obama Wrought?

Clearly, the political/cultural read of the day is "The Front Man: President Obama is the nominal leader for permanent bureaucracy" written by Kevin D. Williamson and published in National Review.

Below are excerpts:

Barack Obama did not invent managerial liberalism, nor has he contributed any new ideas to it. He is, in fact, a strangely incurious man. Unlike Ronald Reagan, to whom he likes to be compared, President Obama shows no signs of having expended any effort on big thinkers or big ideas. President Reagan’s guiding lights were theorists such as F. A. Hayek and Thomas Paine; Obama’s most important influences have been tacticians such as Abner Mikva, bush-league propagandists like the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, and his beloved community organizers. Far from being the intellectual hostage of far-left ideologues, President Obama does not appear to have the intellectual energy even to digest their ideas, much less to implement them…

The result of this is his utterly predictable approach to domestic politics: appoint a panel of credentialed experts. His faith in the powers of pedigreed professionals is apparently absolute…

In total, it amounts to that fundamental transformation of American society that President Obama promised as a candidate: but instead of the new birth of hope and change, it is the transformation of a constitutional republic operating under laws passed by democratically accountable legislators into a servile nation under the management of an unaccountable administrative state. The real import of Barack Obama’s political career will be felt long after he leaves office, in the form of a permanently expanded state that is more assertive of its own interests and more ruthless in punishing its enemies. At times, he has advanced this project abetted by congressional Democrats, as with the health-care law’s investiture of extraordinary powers in the executive bureaucracy, but he also has advanced it without legislative assistance — and, more troubling still, in plain violation of the law. President Obama and his admirers choose to call this “pragmatism,” but what it is is a mild expression of totalitarianism, under which the interests of the country are conflated with those of the president’s administration and his party. Barack Obama is the first president of the democracy that John Adams warned us about.

“Democracy never lasts long,” Adams famously said. “It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There was never a democracy that did not commit suicide.”…

In an important sense, the American people have no political say in the health-care law, for example, because Congress did not pass a law reforming the health-care system; instead, Congress passed a law empowering the Obama administration, through its political appointees and unelected time-servers, to create a new national health-care regime. The general outline of the program is there in the law, but the nuts and bolts of the thing will be created on the fly by President Obama and his many panels of experts…

For all of the power that Congress legally has given the president in this matter, he feels it necessary to take more — illegally. There is no obvious and persuasive legal rationale for the belief that the president can willy-nilly suspend portions of the law or delay their execution…

In a similar vein, President Obama refused to cut off foreign-aid funds to the Egyptian government, though he is required by law to do so in the event of a coup d’√©tat, which is precisely what happened in July in Egypt. It might be embarrassing for the president to punish the Egyptian military and the grand mufti of al-Azhar for their overthrow of the unpopular Mohamed Morsi, but the law does not make exceptions for presidential embarrassment. The president is not legally empowered to assassinate American citizens, but he has done so, after going through the charade of drawing up a legal argument under which he judged himself entitled to do what the Constitution plainly prohibits. The law also prohibits the president and his allies from using the instruments of government to persecute their rivals, but that is precisely what the IRS has been up to for several years, as it turns out…

Congress’s supine ceding of its powers, and the Obama administration’s usurpation of both legal and extralegal powers, is worrisome. But what is particularly disturbing is the quiet, polite, workaday manner with which the administration goes about its business — and with which the American public accepts it…

Barack Obama’s administration is unmoored from the institutions that have long kept the imperial tendencies of the American presidency in check. That is partly the fault of Congress, which has punted too many of its legislative responsibilities to the president’s army of faceless regulators, but it is in no small part the result of an intentional strategy on the part of the administration. He has spent the past five years methodically testing the limits of what he can get away with, like one of those crafty velociraptors testing the electric fence in Jurassic Park…

This is a might-makes-right presidency, and if Barack Obama has been from time to time muddled and contradictory, he has been clear on the point that he has no intention of being limited by something so trivial as the law.

The Iran Deal: The "Worst Since Munich"

This Iran deal? 

Remarkably bad. Daringly duplicitous. And very bad news for the region, for Israel, for the world.

Here's Charles Krauthammer with the details.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Today's Posts

The Napoleons In Retreat

Last weekend was set apart for the autumn getaway for the Notting Hill Napoleons, our literary society of nearly 25 years. For the last decade or so, this very pleasant retreat has occurred at the beautiful and comfortable Whispering Pines bed & breakfast in Nebraska City. We come down Friday evening and stay through early Sunday morning, then driving back to be in time for our respective church duties.

During our time in Nebraska City, we enjoy conversation, prayers, laughter, reminiscing, meals, occasional games and field trips, the discussion over that year's Charles Dickens novel, the voting over next year's reading list, and more. It has been a truly wonderful experience.

This year, however, had its challenges. For instance, it was our first year without Chet Thomas, our dear brother who passed away last summer. So many scenes at Whispering Pines this time around reminded us of him and that was sometimes difficult. Also tough this year was that Claire wasn't feeling well. She missed Friday night completely but managed to make it for most of Saturday, only to have a relapse which caused us to leave for home about 8 o'clock Saturday night.

She is, by the way, feeling much better now.

But despite even these challenges, the retreat was meaningful and rewarding in many ways. Being at Whispering Pines, even for a few hours, is an oasis in our year. That's a significant blessing. But so too was the discussion of Oliver Twist, the visit to the G.A.R. Museum and the interesting lectures we were given on Saturday morning, the drive through the historic Wyuka cemetery, the delicious soup supper on Friday night, the quiet talk with Quint in the early morning hours of Saturday and then heading in to make a breakfast of eggs, potatoes, sausage and biscuits. These things were really great fun and I'm deeply grateful for all of them. 

I'm grateful, first of all, to God from Whom all blessings flow. And yet I'm also grateful to the members of our book club (John & Barb Malek, Karla Struble, Ruth Denzler, Bill & Karin Coker, Quint & Carol Coppi); the fellows who made our visit to the museum so interesting, and to Whispering Pines' gracious innkeeper, Jeanna Stavas.

A Satirical Look at Obama's War Room

Obama War Room: Mellow Yellow


[Defense Secretary Hagel, agitated, storms into the Oval Office]

HAGEL: Mr. President, we . . .

OBAMA: Stop! This sounds like trouble. I don’t want to hear it. [to Secret Service agent] Get him out of here!

HAGEL: [yelling] It’s North Korea, they’ve . . .

OBAMA: [covers his ears] Nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah . . .

HAGEL: [screaming as he’s dragged away] They’ve attacked South Korea!

OBAMA: Damn, I heard that. Let him go. What’s going on, Chuck?

HAGEL: The North invaded the South three days ago, sir. Our troops on the demilitarized zone were overrun, Seoul was bombarded and occupied. In response, I ordered a strike on the North’s nuclear weapons facilities.

OBAMA: Why didn’t you tell me?

HAGEL: Sir, your standing order to the Cabinet: "I wish to remain ignorant of any event that would require me to make a decision."

OBAMA: Oh, right. So, why are you violating that directive?

HAGEL: The Norks got off a missile. It’s heading toward California. ETA, 11 minutes; touchdown, Orange County. We can’t knock it down. I’m telling you because no decision is necessary.

OBAMA: Well, don’t put this on me. I had nothing to do with it. Jay, when it comes up at your briefing later, say, "The president just learned of these events. He is as frustrated as everyone else about the loss of life."

CARNEY: Very good, sir. Network anchors on line 3.

OBAMA: Scott, Brian, Diane, ignore or spin the Korean situation tonight. That’s half a world away. As for Orange County . . . who cares?

WILLIAMS: I'll devote the bulk of our broadcast tonight to the new Smurfs movie, sir.

SAWYER: I’ll lead with a segment implying the North Koreans interpreted the Republican-engineered government shutdown as a sign of weakness.

OBAMA: Make it so. Scott?

PELLEY: We’ll do a story comparing the rise of Ted Cruz to Kim Young-un’s elevation to power.

OBAMA: Perfect.


(This superb satire is the product of Steve Grammatico. More of Steve’s work can be found at his blog, “You Hear Me, Barack?: A repository of conservative satire.”)

Colorado's "Fabulous" ObamaCare Signup Is Only 1/2 of Worst-Case Prediction

I guess all those sophomoric, sleazy ads that Colorado Democrats created to draw the low-info, low-morality young citizens into the health care exchanges isn't working out too well.

The Denver Post reports,

Enrollment in the Affordable Care Act through Colorado's health insurance exchange is barely half the state's worst-case projection, prompting demands from exchange board members for better stewardship of public money.

The shortfall could compromise the exchange's "ability to deliver on promises made to Colorado citizens" and threatens the funding stream for the exchange itself, according to board e-mails obtained by The Denver Post in an open records request.

The exchange, meant for individuals and small groups buying insurance, had projected a lowest-level mid-November enrollment of 11,108, in a presentation to a board finance committee. The exchange announced Nov. 18 that it had signed up 6,001 Coloradans so far…

Colorado is one of 14 states running its own exchange, while the troubled federal healthcare.gov site handles the exchanges for 36 other states.

The exchange has not hit either internal projections or those made earlier by consultants supportive of the Affordable Care Act, said board member Dr. Mike Fallon, a conservative voice on the board who calls the act overly complex and expensive.

"None of this surprises me," Fallon said of the shortfall. "I don't know what we as a board could have done. Health insurance is a difficult product to sell."

Other board members said hitting enrollment marks now is not as important as making sure exchange websites and call centers work smoothly when people are ready to sign up…

"In the midst of this situation, the communication from the (executive director) to the board has been that the launch is successful, even 'fabulous,' with a few glitches," Daehnick wrote fellow board members on Oct. 24. "Available information does not support this assertion."

An ObamaCare Thank You

The good news, Mr. McTavish, is that we finally got you signed up for ObamaCare. But the bad news is that your insurance costs are going up $435 a month. Also, we regret to inform you that your identity was stolen by someone who hacked into our system and ran your credit cards to their limit, sent rude messages to all your Facebook friends, and then emptied out your bank account.

Thank you again for using the ObamaCare website.

Obama's Iran Deal: Naive, Deceitful & Dangerous

Ring the bells in sorrow and alarm. Barack Obama has, once again, been rolled by a Muslim dictator.

Here's a few worried press reactions, including a few from media sources who are usually loyal members of Team Obama.

* Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the Iran deal — “What was concluded in Geneva last night is not a historic agreement, it's a historic mistake. It's not made the world a safer place. Like the agreement with North Korea in 2005, this agreement has made the world a much more dangerous place. For years the international community has demanded that Iran cease all uranium enrichment. Now, for the first time, the international community has formally consented that Iran continue its enrichment of uranium." (“Israeli PM Netanyahu: Iran nuclear deal 'historic mistake’” by David Simpson and Josh Levs, CNN)

* The Obama administration has cut an interim nuclear deal with Iran that gravely worries some of America's strongest allies in the Middle East and even gives pause to some of President Barack Obama's allies in the U.S. Senate. It's easy to see what Iran gets out of this: a reprieve from crippling economic sanctions worth some $6 billion to $7 billion in cash. It's more difficult to figure that Iran views this as the first step toward giving up its nuclear ambitions. Iran will stall some of its development efforts, but it will not significantly step back from the timetable it faces to build a nuclear weapon…

The reason for deep concern, though, is that Iran escapes from some of the economic sanctions that forced it to negotiate in the first place. The Obama administration says those sanctions can be reinstated if Iran cheats or negotiations fail. But Iran will reap the benefit of billions of dollars. And it may not be that easy to persuade international businesses to forgo trade with Tehran if trade resumes.

Republicans, as would be expected, sharply criticized the terms of the deal. But Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey, was unsparing as well. "In my view, this agreement did not proportionally reduce Iran's nuclear program for the relief it is receiving," he said. He might as well have said hope has triumphed over experience.
(The editors of the Chicago Tribune.)

Sen. Bob Corker, R- Tenn., the senior Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee...warned that the Iranian regime “has consolidated their gains” and was now “spiking the football in the end zone” and claiming that it has the right to keep enriching uranium.

The accord will unfreeze some of Iran’s overseas assets and ease some trade sanctions in return for the Tehran regime allowing inspections of its nuclear facilities and halting some steps that could lead to a nuclear weapon.

“It looks like we've tacitly agreed that they will be enriching (uranium) for commercial purposes down the road,” Corker said. “So I think you're going to see on Capitol Hill … a bipartisan effort to try to make sure that this is not the final agreement.” Corker added, “this administration is big on announcements, very short on substance. We see that time and time again.”…

Sen. Charles Schumer, D- N.Y., said he was "disappointed" by the interim agreement "because it does not seem proportional. Iran simply freezes its nuclear capabilities while we reduce the sanctions.... This disproportionality...makes it more likely that Democrats and Republicans will join together and pass additional sanctions when we return in December."

But Obama warned Congress in his statement Saturday night to not try to pass any new sanctions, saying “now is not the time to move forward on new sanctions, because doing so would derail this promising first step, alienate us from our allies and risk unraveling the coalition that enabled our sanctions to be enforced in the first place.”

Rep. Elliot Engel, D- N.Y., the senior Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a strong supporter of Israel which has been sharply critical of the deal, said the accord “makes it very difficult to continue the sanctions” against Iran and indicated that Congress was unlikely to pass new sanctions at this point. He noted that an Iran sanctions bill was passed by The House in July by a vote of 400 to 20, but the New York Democrat said, “It’s difficult for the Senate to do sanctions now” now that the Obama administration has entered into a six-month deal with Iran. “It’s disappointing to me that Iran is still going to be allowed to enrich (uranium) while they’re talking. I would have thought that that should be a prerequisite to any kind of talks,” Engel said.
(Tom Curry, National Affairs Writer, NBC News)

* The Obama administration says the agreement will degrade Iran’s nuclear capacity, halt its current progress, and lay the groundwork for a final deal, in exchange for discrete concessions on sanctions. But this “freeze” is incomplete and as reversible as the term suggests, and the effect of the loosening of the sanctions will be far-reaching.

Reminiscent of his claim that a strike on Syria to deter future chemical-weapons use would be “unbelievable small,” Secretary Kerry said that the deal’s concessions translate into “very little sanctions relief.” This is an odd description for measures that take up a full page of the agreement’s four-page outline and extend to suspending sanctions on petroleum and gold, authorizing new shipments of auto and aircraft parts (which are of military and economic use to the Revolutionary Guard), allowing U.S. and EU companies to insure oil shipments, increasing the caps on EU trade in non-sanctioned goods, and more…

The White House estimates the value of these particular adjustments to be about $6 to $7 billion, which is no paltry sum in exchange for so little from Iran. But the real economic value is in perceptions: This deal makes it known that our Western leaders view Iran as a legitimate negotiating partner — in fact, one that they expect will agree to a final deal in six months. Consider the effect that this change will have on the foreign firms that have always remained capable of striking profitable deals with Iran but have held off given the uncertainty and opprobrium surrounding Tehran; now they can strike those deals in the knowledge that the American executive branch is making that easier, not harder. 
(The editors of National Review.)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Today's Posts

A Few Thanksgiving Quotes To Pass Around

“You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before I open a book, and before sketching, painting, swimming, walking, playing, dancing and before I dip the pen in the ink.” (G. K Chesterton)

“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.” (John Milton)

Thou hast given so much to me,
Give one thing more, a grateful heart;
Not thankful when it pleaseth me,
As if Thy blessings had spare days,
But such a heart whose pulse may be Thy praise.
(George Herbert)

"Some people complain because God put thorns on roses, while others praise Him for putting roses among thorns." (Anonymous)

“Happiness is gratitude doubled by wonder.” (G.K. Chesterton)

9 Things About Planned Parenthood Everyone Should Know

Joe Carter over at the Gospel Coalition notes "9 Things You Should Know About Planned Parenthood." 

It is an excellent primer to pass around -- excellent too to print off and use as a reference for letters to editors, political officials, business leaders, your pastor, and so on.

1. Planned Parenthood Federation of America has 95 affiliates and 865 health centers, according to its latest annual report, which covers the 2008-09 fiscal year. They require that at least one clinic per affiliate must perform abortions. PP performs over 320,000 abortions a year. [That's surgical abortions alone. The number of preborn kids killed through PP chemicals is incalculable.]

2. The motto for this year's PP gala is "Our past is our prologue." Part of the past the organization will be celebrating includes its founding by the notorious racist and eugenicist Margaret Sanger. Sanger wanted to control the reproduction of immigrants, the poor, certain religious groups, and anyone else she thought was from an "unacceptable" heritage. Sanger referred to such people as reckless breeders who were "unceasingly spawning a class of human beings who never should have been born at all..." 

In 1939 Sanger started the "Negro Project" and attempted to get Christian ministers to aid her effort. As she wrote in a letter to a fellow eugenicist, "we do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members."

3. Last year PP reported excess revenue of $87.4 million and $1.2 billion in total assets. Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood's CEO, makes nearly $400,000 a year.
[She actually makes over $500,000.)

4. The amount of taxpayer money PP got in 2012 ($542,000,000) equates to $61,836 an hour, 24 hours a day for 365 days.

5. PP has repeatedly and consistently turned a blind eye to reports of statutory rape.

6. PP strongly opposes sex education that focuses on abstinence and has gone so far as to file lawsuits against school districts that have decided to implement abstinence-only programs. The organization claims to offer "value-neutral" sex education. (As an example, on their website aimed at teenagers, they include an article ("All About the Anus") which teaches kids that, "Some straight couples use anal sex as a way to preserve the woman's virginity.")

7. Last month a Planned Parenthood of Florida lobbyist, testifying against Florida's Born Alive Infants Protection Act, told lawmakers that if a baby survives an abortion, it is debatable whether that baby should live or die.

8. Some Planned Parenthood clinics have demonstrated a willingness to partner with pimps and sex traffickers to exploit young women instead of safeguarding their health and safety.

9. While in the Illinois state senate, Obama worked with PP to determine how he should vote on a partial-birth abortion legislation. With Planned Parenthood's blessing, he voted "present" to protect his "100 percent" record on pro-abortion votes.

Helping ACTION Help the Philippines

Last week we suggested that those of you desiring to help with the relief needs in the Philippines might use the Tim Tebow Foundation. Today I want to alert you to another excellent group, one whose focus has long been on the needs (both spiritual and material) of the people there. It is ACTION -- Action International Ministries.

ACTION is particularly well suited for sincere, effective and long-term efforts in that they utilize local churches and Christian volunteers to provide aid. That is a huge help in maintaining integrity and efficiency, targeting the most critical needs, and in developing ongoing connections with caring people.

The needs in the Philippines defy description. Our prayers and help really are quite crucial. So please, check out the ACTION site right here and make a donation.

George Will on the Senate Democrats Changing the Rules


Contrary to Reports, China Is Not Ending It’s Brutal “One Child Only” Policy

Under the misleading headline “China to Ease One-Child Policy,” Xinhua News Agency reported last Friday that China will now lift the ban on a second child, if either parent is an only child. It is already the case that couples can have a second child if both parents are themselves only children. This minor adjustment will not “ease” the one-child policy. It will merely tweak it.

Indeed, in apparent response to quell overly optimistic speculation that this small change represents a major reform, Xinhua ran another report over the weekend: “Birth Policy Changes Are No Big Deal.” In this second article Xinhua states that Wang Pei’an, deputy director of the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC), told Xinhua that “the number of couples covered by the new policy is not very large across the country.”…

He concluded that “the basic state policy of family planning will be adhered to over a long period of time.”

In other words, the minor modification of the policy announced Friday: 1) will not affect a large percentage of couples in China; 2) is not subject to a timetable in which to implement it; 3) retains the dreaded “birth intervals” between children (if a woman gets pregnant before the interval has lapsed, she may be subject to forced abortion); 4) makes no promise to end the coercive enforcement of the policy; and 5) promises to continue the one-child policy “over a long period of time” — which could be decades.

To say that China has “relaxed” or “eased” its one-child policy under these circumstances is entirely unwarranted. Furthermore, all the reasons given for this adjustment are economic or demographic:  China’s dwindling labor force, the country’s growing elderly population, and the severe gender imbalance. The adjustment is a tacit acknowledgement that continuation of the one-child policy will lead to economic and demographic disaster. The policy was originally instituted for economic reasons. It is ironic that through this very policy, China has written its own economic, demographic death sentence.

Noticeably absent from the Chinese Communist party’s announcement is any mention of human rights. Even though it will now allow some couples to have a second child, China has not promised to end forced abortion, forced sterilization, or forced contraception. The coercive enforcement of China’s one-child policy is its core…

…Last Friday the mainstream media ran such headlines as “China Reforms: One-child policy to be relaxed” and “China to ease One Child Policy.” Such headlines are detrimental to sincere efforts to stop forced abortion in China, because they imply that the one-child policy is no longer a problem. In a world laden with compassion fatigue, people are relieved to cross China’s one-child policy off of their list of things to worry about.

But we cannot do that. Let us not abandon the women of China, who continue to face forced abortion up to the ninth month of pregnancy. The one-child policy does not need to be adjusted. It needs to be abolished.


(From “China Hasn’t ‘Eased’ Its One-Child Policy” by Reggie Littlejohn, NRO)

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Today's Posts


Back Alley Abortion Clinics? Oh, They Exist. (And They're Protected by Pro-Choice Leaders.)

In response to a series of new abortion restrictions enacted in Texas, abortionist Sarah McNeil wrote recently in USA Today: "I and my physician colleagues across the country continually seek out and welcome measures that improve patient safety, but absurd laws such as this one only hurt women and families by decreasing access to essential reproductive health care services."

It’s no surprise, of course, that the abortion industry and its allies are wailing and gnashing their teeth and bandying about phrases like “absurd laws” in reference to Texas’ new abortion restrictions.

But what’s really absurd is the implication behind their bellyaching: namely, the idea that abortion clinics can be trusted to police themselves.

As evidence of the need for Texas’ new abortion restrictions — which call for, among other things, more rigorous inspections — last month Texas Alliance for Life released a review of recent inspection records indicating that many of the state’s abortion facilities are falling drastically short of meeting even the safety standards that are currently on the books...


Read the rest of this illuminating article, “Inspections Find Texas Abortion Clinics Filthy, Run by Untrained Staff” written up by the Pro-Life Action League and published by LifeNews.com.

The Punch List

Have you noticed that Team Obama has already started dropping hints that the end of November may not bring the promised fixes of that ObamaCare website, after all?

Yesterday, for example, Kathleen Sebelius told an AP reporter, “The 30th of November is not a magic go, no-go date. It is a work of constant improvement…We have some very specific things we know we need to complete by the 30th and that punch list is getting knocked out every week."

Of course, the only things we can truly depend on being punched out by this administration is our economy, our formerly excellent health care system, and our freedom from the Nanny State.

Ouch.

A New Profession in the Culture of Death?

What do you want to be when you grow up, Johnny? I want to get a license to help people kill themselves, Mommy!

Ethicist Wesley J. Smith looks at SP 40, a new “assisted suicide” legalization bill from Scotland that, among other outrageous provisions, creates a brand new health care profession — the “licensed suicide facilitator.”

I’m not making this up.

Says the bill itself,

Licensing of facilitators:
(1) The Scottish Ministers may, by order, appoint—
a) a person or a body, association or group of persons to be the licensing authority,  or
(b) persons or bodies, associations or groups of persons to be licensing authorities, for facilitators.


And, as Smith points out, these facilitators can be as young as 16, providing they have a “terminal or life-shortening illness.”

The exact duties of a “licensed suicide facilitator?”

Again, from the bill itself,

19 General functions of licensed facilitators A licensed facilitator is to use best endeavours—
(a) to provide, before, during and after the act of suicide (or attempted suicide) by the person for whom the facilitator is acting, such practical assistance as the person reasonably requests,
(b) to provide the person with comfort and reassurance,
(c) to be with the person when any drug or other substance or means dispensed or otherwise supplied for the suicide of the person is taken or used by the person,
(d) as soon as practicable after the expiry of the period of 14 days referred to in section 17(2), to remove from the person any such drug or other substance or means still in the person’s possession.


Madness? Of course. But a distinctly malevolent madness, this -- an inarguable illustration of the spiritual war between the forces of Christian civilization and a demonic culture of death.

The Real JFK

The editors of National Review take a quick peek behind all the hype, hoopla, and hagiography that surrounds the myth of John F. Kennedy.

And, no. He's wasn't at all what you've been led to believe.

Read the editorial, "A Beautiful Mediocrity," right here.



About Obama's Excuse for Omitting "Under God" in Gettysburg Address

Regarding President’s Obama much-noticed omission of the words “under God” in his recitation yesterday of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, Ed Whelan writes:

…President Obama recited a draft version of the Gettysburg address that doesn’t include the phrase “under God.” Filmmaker Ken Burns says that he asked Obama to recite that draft version. But even if that’s a full and true account (I have to wonder whether the White House asked Burns to ask Obama to read that version), why would Obama agree to do so?

As Princeton professor Robert P. George discussed in this First Things essay, the pamphlet Constitution distributed by the American Constitution Society also uses a godless draft version of the Gettysburg address. What possible justification is there for using that draft version? As Professor George points out:

“Three entirely independent reporters, including a reporter for the Associated Press, telegraphed their transcriptions of Lincoln’s remarks to their editors immediately after the president spoke. All three transcriptions include the words ‘under God,’ and no contemporaneous report omits them. There isn’t really room for equivocation or evasion: Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address — one of the founding texts of the American republic — expressly characterizes the United States as a nation under God.”

The American Constitution Society used a godless draft version, Professor George reasonably surmises, because “the Great Emancipator’s characterization of the United States as a nation under God appears to undermine the strict separationism that the American Constitution Society wishes to promote.” Whether he affirmatively invited the godless draft or simply acquiesced in its selection, it’s difficult to resist the conclusion that Obama finds that version more congenial to his secularist ideology.


 (“Gettysburg and a Nation “Under God” by Ed Whelan, NRO.)

(By the way, the photo above is not a meme. It's not photo-shopped. It's a real picture then Senator Obama had taken to publicize his opposition to "puppy mills." That's right; the politician who is more extreme than any other in promoting the barbaric violence against human boys and girls en utero wanted to make clear he supports a quality upbringing for dogs. Good grief.)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Today's Posts

Letters That Shine!

A church group getting together to write a few letters of advocacy to politicians and business leaders, a few thank-you cards, a few encouraging notes to the missionaries they support?

Hey, that's a pretty novel idea. But it sounds kinda' like those P.A.L. Nights that Vital Signs Ministries have doing for over 30 years now, doesn't it?

Well, it should because Faith Bible Church's recent entry into this type of ministry is based on the very same things: the commitment to introduce biblical truth into government and the marketplace; the desire to affect public policy in ways that complement justice and religious freedom; and serving those in the household of faith via encouragement, comfort and the stimulation to love and good deeds.

And, like the P.A.L. Nights of Vital Signs, FBC's evening includes the provision of specific action targets, the appropriate contact information, pens and stationary; coffee and treats; and assistance when necessary. It all makes for a purposeful fellowship, a terrific outreach for a local church or Sunday school class.

For all the earth, I can't imagine why such letter-writing parties are not a common experience for Western Christians. After all, we complain an awful lot about the state of things -- why not take a little time to complain to people who can do something about it AND pass along thanks to those who are!

The specific agenda last night was a concentration on:

1) letters to political figures urging the removal of all tax monies going to promote or provide for abortions (with special attention to ObamaCare and the need to defund the mega-abortion corporation that is Planned Parenthood);

2) letters to officials of the Nebraska State Activities Association protesting the new "transgender policy" that will, among other bizarre things, allow males and females to use common bathrooms and showers;

3) thank-you notes to pro-life officials (with fresh urging that they stay the course and refuse temptations to compromise);

4) Thanksgiving-oriented cards and letters to missionaries and distant friends of Faith Bible Church.

It wasn't a big crowd (about 15 or so) for this particular letter-writing party, the 4th the church has so far sponsored, but those in attendance did a great job. In the 75 minutes we had allotted for the meeting, they produced over 55 cards and letters.

Way to go, FBC! Here's hoping other churches and groups will be moved to follow your lead.

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 5: 13-16)

"Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing. But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11-13)

(By the way, if you're interested in pursuing such a ministry with your church or even just your family, please contact us at Vital Signs Ministries.)

On Diving Into Life

A few days ago a young friend 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 a whole lot more. After all, except for Abba and Rick Astley, I haven't listened to pop music recorded after 1969. (Smile.) But I did find valuable White's opinion about the malaise of modern youth.

In particular I liked this statement: "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 20 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.

("On Diving Into Life" by Denny Hartford, originally posted here on Vital Signs Blog, April 2012.)

Terrible News: Drunk Driving Deaths Are Again Rising

I just heard from Jan Withers, the National President of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, that the figures from 2012 have finally been tabulated. They show some very bad, very sad news. They show that, after a brief trend where drunk driving deaths were going down a bit, they again rose in 2012.

And it was a rise of almost 5%.

Terrible news.

10,322 people were killed in drunk driving crashes in 2012.

That’s one every 51 minutes.

As Jan writes, “This means that as we approach the holidays, thousands of brokenhearted families, friends and loved ones are facing empty chairs at the dinner table.”

And that emptiness doesn’t just occur for one holiday or two. The grief over the loss of a loved one by the stupidity and wanton recklessness of a drunk driver goes on for years.

I know. My father was killed by a drunk driver in 1985.

And yet, even as America sees this terrible toll rise again, we will still have prosecuting attorneys, judges and law enforcement agencies treat DUI cases with kid gloves. We will still have politicians fight against such common sense measures as ignition lock laws, stiff and irreducible penalties for repeat offenders, encouragement of police forces to target taverns who keep selling liquor to the already inebriated, and so on.

10,322 people dead...in one year. And thousands upon thousands more without limbs, mental acumen, mobility, peace. Thousands and thousands more who must now live with pain, heartache, guilt, broken dreams, and loneliness.

And remember too that these alarming numbers reflect DUI deaths only, not those who were killed because of drivers texting, talking on a phone, attempting to put on makeup, and everything else that you see every day on a city road. These things are killing people too.

Like never before one must beware the highways of America -- and the powers that be who fail to make them safer.

The Lookout: In Case You Missed These Weekend Gems

With lawn jobs, errands, church, Sunday dinner, and trying to catch a football game or two, weekends can get busier than even the regular weekdays. And that's why it's so easy to miss news and commentary that are published on the weekend, even important ones that you'd really like to check out. 

Wouldn't it be great if some nice person would collect the best of those articles and provide links to them for you to use?

That's my cue.

* “The Obama presidency is not over, but it is failing” by Edward Luce, Financial Times.

 * “Prosecute HealthCare.gov?” by Andrew Stiles, NRO.

 * “The beginning of the end for Barack Obama” by Joseph Curl, Washington Times.

 * “Abortionists Gone Wild: How the Obama Administration tried to Shut Down This Blog” by JB, Abortion in Washington.

* “A devastating poll on Obama --- and Obamacare” by Michael Barone, Examiner.)

 * “Obama's Gettysburg Skip May Confirm Clint Eastwood's Thoughts About Him” by Steven Hayward, Forbes.

* “The Moral Decline of Oprah” by Victor Davis Hanson, NRO.

* “Obama’s “whatever” approach to Obamacare” by Paul Mirengoff, PowerLine.


Friday, November 15, 2013

Today'sPosts

The Philippines: See, Pray and Help

On this web page, you can use remarkable technology to see before and after aerial images of some of the horrendous damage inflicted by Typhoon Haiyan on the Philippine city of Tacloban.

And then, after seeing just how cataclysmic this typhoon was, we encourage you to contact one of the trustworthy relief agencies and send along a generous donation. In fact, we'll even give you a link to the organization we are sending our contributions to -- the Tim Tebow Foundation.


Fracking Is an Incredible Boon to U.S. Economy & Environment: So Why Is the Government Against It?

The recovery of natural gas through smart drilling and hydraulic fracturing is cutting energy costs and raising living standards throughout the United States, a newly published study has found. Economists at IHS Inc. report hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, will likely raise average U.S. household income by $2,700 per year and create 1.2 million new jobs by 2020.

Hydraulic fracturing is the process of extracting oil and natural gas from shale rock layers deep within the earth. Engineers drill thousands of feet below the earth’s surface and then create cracks in the shale formations by injecting water, sand, and trace chemicals under high pressure. Although energy producers have utilized fracking since the middle of the last century, Americans are benefiting from a fracking revolution today thanks to recent technological advances and new oil and natural gas discoveries.

“A revolution is under way in the production of unconventional oil and natural gas that is transforming America’s energy future and strengthening its overall economy,” the study reports…

The study also found the increase in manufacturing production will create a $51 billion increase in annual revenue for federal, state, and local governments by 2020.

The United States leads the world in shale oil and natural gas resources, and fracking is giving American entrepreneurs a new edge in global economic competition, the study observes.

“The unconventional [energy] revolution is also contributing to a shift in global competitiveness for the United States by unlocking new production cost advantages for U.S. industries benefitting from lower prices for raw materials and the energy they use,” according to the study.

The only appreciable danger to this increase in production and revenue, the authors state, is government regulations or prohibitions. Although top EPA officials have repeatedly testified they have never found a single incident of the fracking process contaminating groundwater, environmental activists claim fracking endangers groundwater and seek to ban or severely restrict fracking...


From Kenneth Artz' "Study: Fracking cuts energy costs, raises living standards" published in Human Events. Read the rest here.

Barack Obama: Where Did Those Superhuman Smarts Go To?

Valerie Jarrett, Barack Obama's intimate friend and adviser of longstanding, was quoted by David Remnick, editor of the New Yorker, in his 2010 biography of Obama, The Bridge: The Life and Rise of Barack Obama, as saying, "I think Barack knew that he had God-given talents that were extraordinary. He knows exactly how smart he is…He knows how perceptive he is. He knows what a good reader of people he is. And he knows that he has the ability -- the extraordinary, uncanny ability -- to take a thousand different perspectives, digest them and make sense out of them, and I think that he has never been challenged intellectually...He’s been bored to death his whole life. He's just too talented to do what ordinary people do.”

After several years of a miserably flailing presidency, one in which Mr. Obama regularly denies responsibility for (indeed, even knowledge of) such major matters as national defense, national security, national diplomacy, the economy, the workings of Congress, the facts of history, the details within his own legislative agenda, the precepts of the U.S. Constitution, the biological origins of life and other things that are "above his pay grade," one wonders if Ms. Jarrett's opinion about her boss' grand intellectual talents remain in place.

I'm not saying that it's impossible -- the naivete and wishful thinking powers of the left are quite remarkable. But the self-delusion necessary to still believe in Barack Obama as an extraordinarily talented thinker would tax even Ms. Jarrett's abilities.

Baroness Warsi: The War Against Christianity Is "The Gravest Challenge Facing the World"

Baroness Warsi, the Minister for Faith in the British Cabinet, will be speaking today in the U.S. at Georgetown University in Washington. Her primary topic? The persecution of Christianity around the world.

The Baroness will argue that violence against Christian worshippers and other religious minorities by fanatics has become a “global crisis” and is the gravest challenge facing the world this century.

“A mass exodus is taking place, on a Biblical scale. In some places, there is a real danger that Christianity will become extinct,” says the Baroness.  “There are parts of the world today where to be a Christian is to put your life in danger. From continent to continent, Christians are facing discrimination, ostracism, torture, even murder, simply for the faith they follow."

"Christian populations are plummeting and the religion is being driven out of some of its historic heartlands. In Iraq, the Christian community has fallen from 1.2 million in 1990 to 200,000 today. In Syria, the horrific bloodshed has masked the hemorrhaging of its Christian population.”

Here's more from Matthew Holehouse at the Telegraph.

Yet More Fraud Among ObamaCare Navigators

James O’ Keefe’s Project Veritas has released a second video showing even more Obamacare Navigators in Texas suggesting fraud and deceit to undercover reporters — despite some in the mainstream media calling the first expos√© an “isolated incident.”

“Today, Project Veritas released a second investigation exposing more Obamacare navigators counseling applicants to lie and cheat the health care system by erroneously reporting income status, health history, and more,” Project Veritas wrote.

They continue, “Critics said the first video was an isolated incident so we decided to visit with even more navigators funded by your American tax dollars. What we found was disturbing and showed a clear pattern of fraud through the Obamacare navigator program.”

Within the new video, Obamacare Navigators in Texas yet again counsel the reporters to lie in order to avoid higher premiums…



Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Notting Hill Napoleons: Christian Book Club Extraordinaire

A successful book club is one that provides intellectual stimulation, motivation and accountability – and yet which is also a lot of sheer fun.  And one of the most successful is the Notting Hill Napoleons, a Christian literary society which has (for over 20 years) been a source of rich blessings for its members.  One Saturday night a month the Notting Hill Napoleons gather in one of the member’s living rooms for their regular meeting.   The Napoleons are all long time friends whose common participation in pro-life ministries brought them together years before they started the book club.   All of them were readers.  They had college degrees, were dedicated Bible students, and were lovers of all kinds of books.  A few were writers.  Nevertheless, there’s no doubt they’re all stronger and more perceptive readers now as the years of reading, reflecting and discussing have effectively honed their skills.  And though mysteries, biographies, history and Bible studies are still avidly read by individual members, the Napoleons know that the book club has spurred them to read more quality literature than they would have ever imagined.

The Napoleons started back in 1992 when Claire and I asked a few reading friends to join us in a monthly book discussion.   The club we had in mind would concentrate on quality novels; that is, books by talented writers who examined the most important human values and ideals.  We especially sought novels of literary richness that would sharpen our own thinking and communicating skills.  Among the works we chose in those early years were those of Charles Dickens, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, G.K. Chesterton, Sir Walter Scott, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Alexandre Dumas, Evelyn Waugh, Leo Tolstoy and William Shakespeare.  Many of these authors had already been read by at least a few of the Napoleons but usually only as a school project in our distant past.  One of the quickest lessons we learned was that reading a book for a discussion with like-minded friends was a much more enriching, enjoyable experience than reading it for any school report.

However, I can almost hear some of you asking, “How can anyone find the time to read War and Peace and still go to work, feed the kids, and put the cat out?”  Believe me, it can be done.  The Notting Hill Napoleon members also have jobs, families, church responsibilities, and numerous other interests.  They also remain quite involved in pro-life activities with Vital Signs Ministries and the AAA Center for Pregnancy Counseling.  But two important changes have occurred since the inception of the club. 

1) The Napoleons have all increased their reading speed and comprehension.  And 2) They have all decreased their time spent in watching television and reading inferior stuff.  And it’s comforting to know that even for those who have less time or who read at a pace which would prohibit getting through War and Peace in a month, there is a simple solution.  Just make your book club one which meets every other month or even every quarter.  Any schedule or format that yields an increase in profitable reading and Christian fellowship is well worth it.

How to choose books?  That’s a problem that has ended many book clubs before they ever really get started.  Consensus is the key to success here.  The members must have a common vision of what they want to read.  Simply using someone else’s reading list or even awarding each member a slot usually won’t do it.  Based upon our backgrounds and personal tastes, the Notting Hill Napoleons chose classic novels as our focus and over time we developed an election process which stresses consensus.  Other clubs might opt for politics or history or perhaps a mix of genres.  Many years ago, Vital Signs Ministries created a reading program which has focused on non-fiction: history, culture, religion, etc.  Among the authors we’ve read in this program are Chuck Colson, Whittaker Chambers, Randy Alcorn, Joni Eareckson-Tada and Francis Schaeffer.  And the schedule for that program is really flexible.  The evening discussions usually meet quarterly but we’ve had another group which found it more convenient to have a luncheon discussion over bagels.

What else can you get out of an effective book club?  How about ongoing education?  The conquest of “giant books” that heretofore cowed you into fear?  And don’t forget the development of conversational skills, critical thinking, and insights into legitimate literary criticism rather than those snide and heavy-handed techniques you learned in college.  And, not to be undervalued in the least, is the sheer enjoyment which comes from a successful literary club.  It’s all good.  Indeed, every Notting Hill meeting is a party, even when the discussion itself is pretty heavy.  We are good friends who have become even closer through the fellowship of the book club and who are more effective Christians because of the stimulation, accountability and helpfulness we provide each other.

The Lordship of Jesus Christ should extend to every area of life – stretching, sharpening, and better equipping His servants to represent righteousness in our darkened world.  A Christian book club can be a part of that discipleship.  So why not consider getting involved in such a group yourself?  A Christ-centered literary fellowship can be a tremendous help in your desires to be a more interesting, more winsome and more effective spiritual warrior.

Today's "Must-Reads"

* "Obama’s Big Lie is destroying his credibility," by Michael Goodwin, New York Post.

* "Intelligence Warnings On Benghazi Were Loud And Clear," by Susan Katz and Richard Miniter, Investor's Business Daily.

* "Time to Start Considering Obamacare's Worst Case Scenarios," Peter Suderman, Reason.

* "If you want a conservative child," by Dennis Prager, Human Events.


Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Today's Posts

Hey! Before You Post Another Photo Online…


More News You Should Know

North Korea Executions

* "The atrocities in North Korea reached another peak on November 3, as roughly 80 people were publicly executed in seven different cities for crimes such as watching films made in South Korea, dealing in pornography or possessing a Bible. The executions were the first mass executions of the Kim Jong-un regime, according to JoongAng Ilbo. Approximately 10 people were murdered in the cities of Pyongsong in South Pyongan, Wonsan in Kangwon Province, Chongjin in North Hamgyong Province, and Sariwon in North Hwanghae Province.

Wonsan’s executions were carried out by binding a group of people to stakes, putting white sacks over their heads and blasting them to pieces with a machine gun in front of thousands of witnesses at a stadium, among whom were many children. Families of the executed victims were sent to prison camps along with the victim’s accomplices." ("North Korea Executes 80 Citizens," William Bigelow, Breitbart) 

ObamaCare's Omissions to Veterans

* "One of the most touted benefits of President Obama’s health care overhaul law is the provision allows parents to keep their adult children on their health insurance until age 26. However, Trace Gallagher reported on 'The Kelly File' Monday, this benefit is not being extended to a significant group of Americans: members of the U.S. military." ("Military members, veterans missing out on key ObamaCare provision," Fox News)

ObamaCare's Religious Intolerance Fails Another Court Test

* "The HHS mandate that is a part of Obamacare was dealt another blow on Friday, as a federal appeals court ruled the Obama administration cannot force a family-run business in Illinois to comply with it and pay for birth control or abortion-causing drugs for its employees. This ruling comes after another victory against the mandate earlier this month…

In a 2-1 decision issued Friday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, the court reversed the federal district court’s denial of a motion for a preliminary injunction and remanded the case for the district court to enter the preliminary injunction. The appeals court upheld the rights of both individuals and companies to challenge the ObamaCare HHS Mandate – the first decision of its kind in the ongoing HHS Mandate litigation." ("HHS Mandate Loses Again, Obama Admin Can’t Force Family Business to Comply," Steven Ertelt, LifeNews.com)

Abe Lincoln a Democrat? Illinois College Defends Gross Error. 

* "A public university in President Abraham Lincoln’s home state of Illinois is adorned with a plaque that states Lincoln – arguably the most famous and influential president in American history – was a Democrat. (Lincoln, of course, was a Republican.) The plaque, located on a historic building that’s part of Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago and installed in 1905, states: 'This building is dedicated to the public service honoring the memory of Abraham Lincoln -- Democrat.'

When a picture of the memorial recently surfaced on social media sites, it quickly went viral, and prompted anger among many Republicans, who called the dedication not only inaccurate but also a prime example of revisionist history. But the university stands by the inscription." (Jennifer Kabbany, The College Fix)

Irony Alert: Thug Nations Taking Seats in U.N. Human Rights Council

* "By the end of Tuesday, a handful of countries notorious for blocking human rights promotion at home and abroad will have rejoined the U.N. Human Rights Council. Due to an absence of competition, Tuesday’s vote at the General Assembly in New York will see China, Russia and Saudi Arabia all return to the council in January, just one year after term limits obliged them to stand down. They will be joined by Vietnam, which will take a seat for the first time since the Geneva-based HRC was established in 2006." ("Saudi Arabia, People's Republic of China Will Join UN 'Human Rights' Council", Patrick Goodenough, CNS News)

Surprise Move: Bill Clinton Says Obama Should Keep His Promise

* "Former President Bill Clinton said that President Obama should keep his pledge to allow people to keep their current health care plans, if they like them, under Obamacare: 'So I personally believe, even if it takes a change to the law, the president should honor the commitment the federal government made to those people and let them keep what they got.'" (Daniel Halper, The Weekly Standard)

Paid ObamaCare Agents Are Lying...and Instructing You How to Commit Fraud As Well.

James O’Keefe, the guerrilla videographer who helped bring down ACORN (the “community organizing” group that Barack Obama worked for as a lawyer and trainer) and got NPR’s president fired, is back.

This time, his undercover investigators focused on Obamacare’s “navigators,” the nearly 50,000 people who, in the words of the Department of Health and Human Services, “will serve as an in-person resource for Americans who want additional assistance in shopping for and enrolling in plans” on the Obamacare exchanges (at least when they’re finally working). The total value of grants doled out for nonprofits and community organizations to hire navigators has topped $67 million nationwide, and some of the money is going to a group run by ACORN’s highly controversial founder…




Here's more from John Fund at NRO.

And also check out this quick report from the Arizona Daily Independent.

Harry Blackmun Had a Birthday, An Event He Denied to Millions.

From Ed Whelan's NRO column, "This Day in Liberal Judicial Activism." 

November 12, 1908

In Nashville, Illinois, the human fetus to become known as Harry A. Blackmun emerges safe and sound from his mother’s womb. Some sixty-five years later, Justice Blackmun authors the Supreme Court opinion in Roe v. Wade. (See This Day for Jan. 22, 1973.


Somehow the same people who think it meaningful to criticize Justice Thomas for opposing affirmative-action programs from which he putatively benefited don’t criticize Blackmun for depriving millions of other unborn human beings the same opportunity that he was given.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Today's Posts

The Vacation Is Over

What a wonderful vacation it was!

The beauty of the Ozarks in autumn. A quiet, restful condo. Some great times with friends and family. A few "established favorite" places to visit with a few new ones tossed in. And time to pray, read, evaluate, plan...and to celebrate 42 years of marriage.

Among the specific highlights:

* Listening to my cousin Eva sing "If It Wasn't for the Lighthouse" with harmony provided by my cousin Belinda and my 90-year old Aunt Farris.

* Being with Allen & Cindy Nelson at the first annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony outside the Andy Williams' Moon River Theater. 

* A long Sunday afternoon drive through the winding backroads of the Ozarks.

* A breakfast at Billy Gail's with my sister and brother-in-law from Wichita, John & Sherry Whissen. 

* Talking to the student actors of the College of the Ozarks after watching a rousing production of their play, "Four Star Country Boy."

* A couple of strolls through Branson Landing, not for shopping but for listening to Christmas music, enjoying the brisk air, taking in the view of the river, feeding the ducks, and eating dessert at Dino's 24 Karat Cake.

* Spending a Saturday night at the Oldfield Opry with Scott Lawson listening to local musicians perform for the sheer fun of it...and for the joy they know it brings to others.

* Enjoying a delicious dinner (on our anniversary) with my Aunt Farris, my cousin Susan, and her husband, Roy. The meal of pot roast, potatoes, gravy, green beans, apple crisp, etc. was prepared by Belinda and Susan.

* Spending an hour or more in prayer with Allen Nelson on a bracingly cool night on the deck of our condo.

* Enjoying the exhilarating (yet serene) view from Lookout Point at the College of the Ozarks.

* Reading W. Somerset Maugham, Calvin Miller, Arthur Koestler, William F. Buckley, and the Hunger Games trilogy. (The first two of the trilogy were fantastic; the third was remarkably bad.)

* Taking walks through the fallen leaves near the condo. 

* Lunches at Vasken's Deli.

* Working with Claire on an edited version of my Mom's diary in the days when she was courted by my Dad.

* Many pleasant and fruitful talks with Claire in the condo, out on the deck or on drives through the country, reflecting on our past decades together and trying to plan for our future ministry with Vital Signs, Faith Bible Church, friends and family, neighbors, writing projects, and more.

* En route home, meeting Keith & Carol Moran in Kansas City for a late lunch at Oklahoma Joe's Barbecue...in a gas station!

It was a terrific vacation which served several purposes. Branson has definitely become the oasis spot for us and we can't wait till the next chance to get down there. Are you listening, family? Literary club?

The Vacation Is Over: Part Two

The postscript to the vacation? Well, I'm afraid that it ended with a few somber notes. Claire's hacking cough was getting worse and the poor thing endured several tough days before going to the doctor this morning. She was diagnosed with an infection, given antibiotics to bring her back round, and is already feeling a bit better. The other somber notes were that we learned upon our return to Omaha that our health insurance bill and our electric bill were going up ($65 a month and $35 a month, respectively) and that our Oldsmobile needs at least $500 worth of work. The worse news of all, however, is that our mechanic declared that the car may not be worth fixing. Yipes. Maybe we should have just stayed in Branson!

No, that's not true. It's really quite good to be home and we're already in the thick of things. Last Wednesday night and most of the day on Thursday I worked on the latest "When Swing Was King" program. (It debuted on Friday to Immanuel Care Center's assisted living audience and went very well.) Also on Thursday, I enjoyed a coffee with Pat Osborne at the Westroads Panera's and then joined friends for sidewalk counseling in front of the Planned Parenthood abortion mill.

In between coughs, Claire has been working to understand our new Samsung phone and preparing the house and menu for a dinner party we're hosting tonight. Throughout the weekend I worked on yesterday's sermon, one dealing with the responsibility the learner bears for his own spiritual education. And then this afternoon we start a very full week of "When Swing Was King" presentations, beginning with a Veterans Day event at Bethany Lutheran Home in Council Bluffs. 

Yes indeed. The vacation is over.

A Few "Don't Miss" Articles

* "Obama’s Massive Fraud" by Andrew C. McCarthy at NRO.

* "Abortion Groups Target Judge for Saying Abortion Kills a Baby" by William Saunders and Mary Harned for LifeNews. 

* "Adding Another Lie To The Pile," an editorial from Investor's Business Daily. ("At the very moment President Obama was supposedly saying sorry for his "keep your plan" lie, he told a brand-new one when he claimed that just 5% are at risk of losing the health plans they like.")

* "Why Does the Global Warming Hoax Persist?" by John Hinderaker over at PowerLine.

* "Be wary of Christie, the mainstream media’s new favorite Republican" by Joseph Curl at the Washington Times.