Friday, January 31, 2014

The Week in Review

Last week was interrupted by a really bad couple of days of stomach flu and so we were praying that this week (especially since it is one of the two weeks a month when we're free from "When Swing Was King") we could get caught up. 

We did.

Claire finished sending out the 2013 tax receipts this week along with a big bunch of personal notes, thank-you cards, and other things. She worked on several other Vital Signs business matters too including the selection of a template and server for a brand new Vital Signs Ministries website. She must then transfer the material from our existing site (most of it, anyhow) onto the new one. There will be a lot of new material too, some of which I'm working on even now.

In addition, of course, Claire manages the house, the meals...and me.

After preaching Sunday morning, my week has been busy too -- Vital Signs Blog, the two morning meetings at Panera's, a meeting with a local pastor in which we talked about pro-life matters, preparing (and then delivering) talks to a couple of groups of AWANA kids, planning for Hleb Yermakou's visit to Omaha, working on the next "When Swing Was King" presentation, selecting and editing another 300 or so photographs for use in WSWK shows, creating a new promotional poster for WSWK and sending it out to the 11 facilities we now go to every month, selecting the Top Ten posts from Vital Signs Blog and sending them out, and working on the Christmas project.

What's next? Well, tomorrow, if the snow doesn't get too heavy, we will be joining friends to pray in front of the Planned Parenthood abortion mill after which I'll be working on Sunday's sermon.

It's been a good week. Productive, engaging, stimulating...and healthy!

Jewish Group Files Legal Brief Against ObamaCare

This week the Jewish Orthodox Union joined with other religious groups and filed a legal brief essentially siding with the religious objectors against the coercive mandates of ObamaCare.

They did not do so because they necessarily oppose other parts of ObamaCare. Nor does the Orthodox Union necessarily agree with Catholic (and enlightened evangelicals) that so-called birth control drugs and devices are actually abortifacient.

No, the Orthodox Union signed on against ObamaCare’s mandates because of religious freedom -- pure and simple.

Here is part of what Nathan J. Diament, the Executive Director for Public Policy of the Orthodox Union, included in the official statement.

Today, the Orthodox Union joined with other religious groups and filed a legal brief essentially siding with the religious objectors. We did not do so to undermine the health care reform law in general nor women’s access to health services they may uniquely need.

We did so because in the cases in question, forcing business owners to subsidize activity that violates their religious beliefs is unnecessary. There are many other means by which the government could ensure women’s access to contraceptives and related care without involving their employers at all, which the OU may support. (Imagine that a woman could take her prescription to CVS, have it filled, and the government would reimburse CVS directly.)

We take this stance because we, particularly as a religious minority in the United States, must stand in solidarity with people of all faiths in demanding the broadest protections for rights of conscience in the face of government (and socio-cultural) coercion to the contrary…

All people of faith should understand and actively support the right of religious (and other forms of conscientious) dissent from the popular and majority view.  Today, in America, Catholic objections to women’s use of contraceptives may be broadly unpopular; tomorrow, it may be circumcision or kosher slaughter that are looked at askance in America, as they are today in Europe.

But this argument is not solely about where a slippery slope may lead; it involves a fundamental question about America’s civic-constitutional view of religious faith. In Europe today, religion has been relegated to something only to be exercised in private. What you do in your home and in your church is your business, but society expects you to leave your religion behind when you come into the public sphere—be it the workplace, school, or house of government. Thus, a believer is not entitled to an accommodation or an exemption from any demands society at large wishes to make, like banning public wearing of headscarves or kippot. This has not been the American view.

While our First Amendment’s establishment clause demands no legal endorsement of religion, there is a longstanding tradition of welcoming faith into the public arena and—most relevant here—including exemptions and accommodations for religious dissent in a wide array of laws so that, as much as possible, people of faith are not forced to choose between their conscience and compliance with other laws. To do otherwise is to relegate religious belief and action to second class status among our civil rights—something Jews, and all people of faith and conscience, must resist...

Important Weekend Reading

Whether you will be snowed in or not this weekend, here are some very important dispatches from the culture wars for you to look over.

* “Obama’s Middle East Cowardice Confirmed” (Benjamin Weinthal, NRO)

* “Obama Dooms Seniors to Ravages of Aging” (Betsy McCaughey, Accuracy in Media)

* “New York Abortion Bill OKs Shooting Babies Through the Heart With Poison to Kill Them” (Dave Andrusko,

* “Government shuts down 11-year-old’s cupcake business” (Breanna Deutsch, Daily Caller)

* “President ignores ObamaCare horror stories as human, financial costs pile up” (L. Brent Bozell III, Fox News)

* “Davis, Democrats Sneak Past Inconvenient Realities of Abortion” (Jonah Goldberg column)

* “IRS rules change seen as limiting free speech for nonprofit organizations” (Seth McLaughlin, Washington Times)

* “Hundreds of career prosecutors revolt against Eric Holder” (Paul Mirengoff, PowerLine)

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Today's Posts

Obama's State of the Union vs Reality

With that stomach flu still lingering around a bit, I figured it would be best last night to skip on both the spicy tacos and on President Obama's State of the Union address. No need to take chances, right?

But here are a few takes on the speech you will find of interest and value.

* "A Small, Incoherent State of the Union Address" (Stephen F. Hayes, The Weekly Standard)

* “The State of Our Union Is Depressing” (Veronique de Rugy, NRO)

* “The State of Liberalism” (John Yoo, NRO)

* “Snore of the Union” (The editors of the New York Post)

* “Does anybody really know what time it is?” (Scott Johnson, PowerLine

When the World Presses In, Remember Heaven

Okay, it's official. The world is in a horrific condition.

And being a Christian committed to living a godly lifestyle, spreading the gospel, building a culture of life and, yes, battling the spiritual forces who would do us in can...well, create a little stress from time to time. Right?

The issue then becomes what do we do to stay on top of our circumstances when they start pressing in.  1) Pray for strength and wisdom. 2) Take God seriously and yourself less so. And 3) Use the vertigo caused by dizzying problems to better relish the security that is ours in heaven. As the old country hymn goes:

This world is not my home;
I’m just a passin’ through.
My treasure is laid up
Somewhere beyond the blue.
The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.

O Lord, You know I have no friend like You.
If heaven weren’t my home, O Lord, what would I do?
No, those angels beckon me from heaven’s open door.
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.

And, after being renewed in spirit as you contemplate spending eternity in the serenity, beauty and glory of Christ's presence, Number 4 in my list of suggestions is to “press back!” In other words, just keep working. Whether we “feel” like it or not, whether it’s convenient or not, we have a responsibility to keep God’s priorities in view and, as faithfully as possible, to carry them out with perseverance, principle and even pizazz!

Don't fret. Heaven will provide a sweet and much welcome rest for us at the end of our journey. The Scriptures are clear and trustworthy on that point. But for now, we’ve still got some work to do.

And keeping busy is itself a pretty good way to beat stress.

One more important note. If your ideas of heaven are kinda' fuzzy and they don't provide the kind of valuable consolation and excitement I refer to above, please put Randy Alcorn's book, Heaven and Joni Eareckson Tada's Heaven: Your Real Home on your immediate "to read" list! Don't put it off. I'm telling you, these books will change your life.

And yes, if you've read them before, read 'em again. The times require it!

Apologetics Instead of Apologies

I’m afraid I’m not very familiar with the musical genre that’s labeled “contemporary Christian” and so I didn't know anything about the singer Natalie Grant except that she made an early exit from the Grammy awards the other night. It seemed as if the marriage ceremonies of homosexuals and bizarre, occult-themed performances of Madonna, preacher’s daughter Katy Perry, and others were offensive to Grant — rightly so — and she took a powder.

After the event she sent out a Twitter message. It read, “We left the Grammy's early. I've many thoughts, most of which are probably better left inside my head. But I'll say this: I've never been more honored to sing about Jesus and for Jesus. And I've never been more sure of the path I've chosen.”

I’m pleased that Ms. Grant left the show. And I’m certainly glad that she desires to honor and serve God in her singing career.  Even more impressive is the work she has done in diminishing sex trafficking.

I was a bit concerned, however, over the distinction she made in that Twitter message between singing and other forms of public expression; that is, Ms. Grant's desire to sing about Jesus but otherwise leave all other thoughts “inside her head.”  After all, that’s not a very bold or forthright attitude. And it’s not in keeping with the Christian obligation to bravely speak the truth (about a whole gang of issues) to the world.

Anyhow, I wouldn’t have bothered to bring the matter up except that Ms. Grant found herself under fire from the left who assumed (naturally enough) that Ms. Grant wasn’t pleased at the blasphemy so brazenly enacted at the Grammy awards. And so the trumpets of the left blared out the usual stuff: judgment, intolerance, and those fuddy-duddy values that so meanly deny avant-garde artistic expression. You know the act. Still, Ms. Grant seemed to be truly grieved and bothered by the criticism. Indeed, after just one day, she took a few of those thoughts previously “left inside her head” and posted them on her Facebook page.

I'm not going to engage in arguments, but just have a few things I'd like to say: I NEVER said I left during any particular performance. I only said I left early. I never pointed out any one particular performance, I only said I had many thoughts about the entire show, which were best left inside my head and that is where they will stay. So those who say I condemned one performance but then condoned others clearly did not read the post.

What I DID say is this: I am honored to be a part of the Christian music community. I've had many people throughout my career ask why I never tried to go in to mainstream music and last night was a beautiful reminder that I love singing about Jesus and FOR Jesus.

I've judged no one. I hate no one. And I believe that every person has been created in the image of God. I will never stand on a street corner and wave a sign, I won't use my platform to engage in political arguments that will only divide and not unite. I will continue to pray that my life will be my message. I do have my own personal convictions that I live by, and I will continue to work out my own salvation with fear and trembling before the Lord. (Philippians 2:12)

I was honored to be nominated for 2 Grammy awards last night. I'm so grateful that NARAS and The Grammys continue to recognize the contribution that gospel and Christian music make to the world. And I'm so thrilled for those who won in my categories. And I can say that with all sincerity.

My last thought: "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus for it is the power of God who brings salvation to ALL who believe." Romans 1:16

Now there are things in Ms. Grant’s apology/explanation that are admirable. And again, I bless her for her work against sex trafficking, and in raising her family, and her going public with her fight against bulimia, and so on. But do you see the troubling elements that surface in that Facebook post? The careful refusal to criticize anything? The attitude that seems to equate judgment (which is simply the evaluation of things from God’s perspective) with hate and pride? The post-modern idea that her “personal convictions” shouldn’t intersect anyone else’s? The belief that singing about and for Jesus is fine but speaking or doing anything that might end up being confrontational or divisive is wrong?

No, in speaking such things, Ms. Grant is presenting a sadly truncated view of Christianity that, I suspect, she knows herself is quite wrong.  Perhaps she is reeling from the sting of unexpected criticism and I've no doubt she's dealing with e-mails and tweets that are acidic and hurtful. Yet she must still be more careful to defend authentic (thus, comprehensive) Christianity and not fly instead into the trap her enemies have set for her.

She was not "the bad guy" in the Grammys drama and she shouldn't apologize as if she was. Like I said earlier, I don't believe Ms. Grant went far enough in explaining exactly why she left the event in the first place. However, her apology/explanation makes things even worse for it sumbits to the intolerance of the aggressive secularism of our day. Ms. Grants acts as if the left's intolerance of Christians living out their biblical responsibilities is okay, even correct.

But it isn't.

The people of God are responsible to speak the truth in love. And we do that as humbly, winsomely and engagingly as possible, backed up by our personal examples of holiness, compassion, and justice. However, the truth we are commanded to speak is the whole truth of God, not just the pieces we think might be prettier and easier to the culture. Think about it. God's Word’s bids God’s people to speak the truth, shine the light, encourage the fainthearted, reprove the ruthless, proclaim justice, plead for the widows and orphans, rebuke the wicked, teach righteousness, overcome the darkness... and that's just getting started.

Ms. Grant will sing for Jesus. That's great. She will go into a soundproofed studio and make records. She will get on stage before a friendly audience and belt out the songs. And she will pocket the money, sign autographs for fans, display the awards in her den, and otherwise enjoy the perks and popularity of her career. But, according to the Facebook post above, we can't expect her to join other believers in sidewalk counseling outside an abortion mill or in a March for Life — she doesn’t do street corners or signs. And, again according to her Facebook post, we can't expect her to make any statement from “her platform” that might be interpreted as political or controversial or divisive.

Ms. Grant, that's not right. And it's not fair to those dedicated Christians whose love for Christ and devotion to His Kingdom require their sacrificial service in such ministries. Your Facebook post is certainly not the kind of message they need to hear. Indeed, my dear sister, it's not even fair to you, a woman of sincere faith whose record of service has demonstrated a willingness to mix it up and to proclaim God's truths (even about uncomfortable matters) in the public square. Natalie, we need vibrant, bold, prophetic voices today more than ever -- not timid, defensive, unobtrusive ones.  We need courageous and intelligent apologists for the whole counsel of God -- not frightened apologizers. So, please; let's not allow the secularists to scare into the closet one of our most visible and influential artists. Okay?

Another President with a Pen and a Phone

I'm thinking of another President this morning, a President who also had a pen and a phone.

But the man I'm thinking about today was a President who loved God and sought to serve Him in humility, gratitude and joy...a President who respected the sanctity of human life and the ideals of Christian civilization...a President who understood and obeyed the Constitution...a President whose strength of conviction and personal grace made him a leader (even of his enemies) not through coercion, manipulation, guilt, lies, or mean-spirited selfishness but through persuasion, vision, wisdom, wit, and exemplary personal character.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Today's Posts

Does the Pro-life Movement Need To Be Stretched?

In this perceptive piece in the American Spectator, Mark Tooley examines the very serious problem of pro-life leaders being pressured to weaken their movement against abortion by requiring the movement to include equally zealous opposition to capital punishment, military action, “assault weapons,” pollution, and more. Indeed, some would force into the movement the issues of federal aid, minimum wage, vivisection and animal testing, toleration of tobacco, legal marijuana, ObamaCare -- the list can be long indeed.

And, of course, with every added issue, the force brought to bear on the blasphemous, cruel murder of children in the womb is lessened...which is exactly what the liberals desire.

Po-life activists, beware. This is a very bad bargain.

Anyhow, here's Tooley:

This last week’s March for Life recalling 41 years of judicially imposed abortion on demand aroused some confused religious commentary about the meaning of pro-life. Most of Christianity has traditionally opposed abortion as uniquely pernicious because it destroys a completely innocent and vulnerable life, in most cases only for convenience. Yet some try to stretch “pro-life” to include their own political preferences in ways that dilute focused opposition to abortion.

One example is Evangelical Left activist Shane Claiborne, a well-intentioned neo-Anabaptist enthusiast popular in some church circles. He recently and admirably urged being “Pro-life from the womb to the tomb.” And he asserted: “The early Christians consistently lament the culture of death and speak out — against abortion, capital punishment, killing in the military… and gladiatorial games,” which, excepting gladiators, he thought “profoundly relevant to the world we live in where death is so prevalent.”

Claiborne of course is a pacifist who opposes all violence, including military action and capital punishment. Whether the Early Church agreed is debatable. But historic Christianity has affirmed both the death penalty and warfare in some cases. Never has orthodox Christianity likened aborting an unborn child to a judicially adjudicated execution of a murderer or to the waging by legitimate authority of a just military action. Even serious Christian ethicists who share opposition to capital punishment would grant its deep moral distinctions from abortion…

The elasticizing of “pro-life” was also demonstrated at the March for Life by Evangelical environmentalists, one of whose leaders there emphasized “that the unborn should be protected from toxins and pollution that they are in no way responsible for.” His group targets the impact of toxins on pregnant women and babies. A critic of this approach told the Christian Post that stretching “pro-life” weakens the cause of specifically defending the unborn. He also distinguished “an intentional threat to life,” such as abortion and euthanasia, versus “unintentional threats to health,” such as pollution.

Over extending “pro-life” to entail a long laundry lost of political goals that includes abolishing capital punishment, opposing the military, denouncing “enhanced interrogation,” eliminating nuclear weapons, demanding more environmental regulation, expanding the Welfare State, perpetuating Obamacare, and raising the minimum wage is ultimately to neutralize the term and the movement. Likely some on the Left are fine with that goal. But defending the unborn, one million of whom are legally destroyed annually in America, is sufficiently important to merit its own proprietary terminology and unique movement exclusively focused on the mission at hand.

Claire Reports on the Walk for Life

It was another great Walk for Life in Lincoln last Saturday morning. Since Denny was still under the weather, I drove down and set up the booth for Vital Signs at the UNL Student Union.

This year our booth featured a couple of the attractive signs that we use in our sidewalk counseling, an on-screen Power Point presentation, and select literature and books that we give away. One of those items was a card (perfect sized for keeping in a Bible) detailing our “3 for 5” prayer program against Planned Parenthood. Allen Nelson handed out 130 of them this morning.

The Walk for Life crowd was big and we had a pretty nice day for the event…except for the sophomoric and profane exhibition of a handful of pro-abortion zealots who tried to shout down the speakers at the Capitol. Anyhow, after the pro-lifers came from the Capitol, they assembled at the Union to hear Emily Horne, legislative associate with Texas Right to Life, who gave exciting updates of the recent pro-life victories in Texas.

I had a wonderful time talking to old friends and new, giving things away, and making contacts for Vital Signs Ministries. One fellow spoke of how thankful he is for Denny sending out the Top Ten every week from Vital Signs Blog. Another lady told me how she had only recently become involved in pro-life activity and was moved to tears by being at her first pro-life march. And, oh yes; Faith Bible Church was represented too: Barb, Kathy, Lynnette, Steve, JoLynn, Allen, Cindy and myself.

It was a beautiful day to stand for life alongside so many dear people who, even after 41 years of Roe v Wade, haven’t quit fighting for the sanctity of life.

Obama Isn't An Ideological Person? Who Is He Kidding?

For President Obama to say he isn’t ideological is akin to saying Miley Cyrus doesn’t like sticking out her tongue.

Any President whose administration presided over a government take over of the health care system, directed the IRS to target conservative organizations, opposes the expansion of the Keystone Pipeline and focuses on income equality and redistribution is ideologically driven.

Anyone who was mentored by Frank Marshall Davis, Reverend Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers is ideologically driven and the ideology in question is socialism.

(Aaron Goldstein, "Obama: 'I’m Not a Particularly Ideological Person," American Spectator.)

Charlie Daniels On Barack Obama's Constant "Know-Nothing" Claims

I just saw a tease on a news site that said Obama didn't know the extent of the NSA surveillance.

It seems that he also didn't know about our nation spying on the German Chancellor, didn't know the Obamacare website was nowhere close to being ready to roll out, didn't know about the IRS targeting conservative groups, didn't know about the Petraeus investigation, didn't know about the Department of Justice seizing the AP's phone records, had no knowledge of Fast and Furious and doesn't remember a thing about what he was doing the night four Americans were slaughtered in Benghazi Libya.

There are several possibilities: Obama is either surrounded with frighteningly incompetent megalomaniacs, he has terrible judgment in choosing people to fill sensitive positions, he has a very bad memory, he is an out and out liar, or perhaps a combination of all the above…

Read the rest of Charlie’s column here.

The Darkness Descends

Please. Let’s have no more whistling through the graveyard. The time for alarms regarding the state of the old Republic is most definitely at hand.

* Homosexual couples are “married” live on the internationally-televised Grammy Awards.

* Michelle Obama "couldn’t be prouder of" Jason Collins, invites him to sit with her at the State of the Union Address. (Collins is a former NBA player who has garnered recent headlines for “coming out” as a homosexual.) 

* As if our President wasn't already acting illegally, unconstitutionally, and imperially, he is now boasting of ignoring Congress and engaging in even more unilateral executive actions in order to "fundamentally transform" the USA as he sees fit.

* The pattern of political retribution from the Obama White House against its enemies (retribution that uses not only the bully pulpit but government agencies) is well established.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Young Are Turning Against Obama

Michael Barone's latest column is a whiz, especially for what he reveals about the polls showing a dramatic turn among America's younger citizens against Obama AND for the illustrations he gives of how the federal government's student loan program is a tremendous gift to the education establishment but a terrible "white elephant" to students.

Here are excerpts:

What do young Americans want? Something different from what they've been getting from the president they voted for by such large margins.

Evidence comes in from various polls. Voters under 30, the millennial generation, produced numbers for Barack Obama 13 percentage points above the national average in 2008 and 9 points above in 2012.

But in recent polls, Obama approval among those under 30 has been higher than the national average by only 1 percentage point (Quinnipiac), 2 points (ABC/Washington Post) and 3 points (YouGov/Economist)…

The Harvard Institute of Politics poll of 18- to 29-year-olds conducted in November shows Obama's job approval dipping to 41 percent, down from 52 percent in April 2013 and the lowest rating in any HIOP survey… 

 The Harvard survey also finds that they tend to believe, by a 44- to 17-percent margin, that the quality of their health care will get worse under Obamacare.

That's speculation, of course. But it suggests a healthy skepticism about the ability of a government, a government that lied about whether you could keep your insurance and your doctor, and couldn't construct a workable website, to produce a system that will improve service delivery.

That skepticism may owe something to young Americans' experience with student loans. Some 57 percent of the Harvard study millennials say that student loan debt is a major problem for young people…

Yet it's obvious that the vast sums government-subsidized student loans have pumped into higher education over the last three decades have been largely captured by colleges and universities and transformed into administrative bloat.

Economics blogger Timothy Taylor notes that if you count prices in 1982-84 as 100, the average cost of all items in the consumer price index increased to 231 in September 2012. Energy, housing and transportation all increased about that much.

But college and tuition fees increased to 706 -- seven times the level when the government started pumping money into higher ed. Medical care increased to more than 400.

Some things that young people buy increased much less -- apparel (127), toys (53) and televisions (5, thanks to quality improvement)...

And Once Again, The Utter Unfairness of the Press

What if those outrageous statements of Andrew Cuomo (promising the removal from New York of all people who disagreed with him on the issues of abortion, the 2nd Amendment, or homosexual marriage) had been made by a conservative?

Peggy Noonan gives a colorful, enlightening answer in this column.

Why March for Life?

Because sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words, Kelsey Harris over at the Heritage Foundation has provided “19 Beautiful Reminders Why Americans March for Life Today.” 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Today's Posts

Jim DeMint's March for Life Message

Why Is The U.S. Sinking? Here Are 20 Reasons.

Conservative blogger John Hawkins, always relevant and perceptive, has written one of the best columns of the month with “20 Ways America Has Begun to Reap What It Has Sown.”

Believe me, you’ll be glad you checked it out.

The Dangerous Distortions of the "Prosperity Gospel"

What's wrong with the prosperity gospel, alternatively known as health and wealth teaching, word of faith, name it and claim it, and so on?

Well, besides the dramatic absence of a biblical foundation (and that, by the way, is no small problem), the prosperity gospel promotes confusion, guilt, selfishness, worldliness, the exploitation of innocents, and an ugly tarnishing of the Church's reputation.

Here are a couple of articles from a blog introduced to me by a missionary friend, Doug Nichols. The blog is called 9 Marks and I've found it of interest and value. You may too. Anyhow, here are the two articles dealing with the effects of the prosperity gospel.

* “Money: An Instrument for Blessing, Not an Indicator of It” by John Onwuchekwa.

* "Do You Know What Your Missionaries Actually Teach?" by Sean DeMars.

Planned Parenthood in Missouri: 23 Hospitalized Women Are "Not a Problem"

Jefferson City, MO – A new bill proposed by Missouri lawmakers last week has a representative of the St. Louis Planned Parenthood, the last abortion clinic in that state, claiming that 23 hospitalized abortion patients and 44 pages of safety deficiencies are not a “problem.”

The bill, HB 1478, sponsored by Missouri Right to Life, would require a minimum of four inspections of abortion clinics per year. If deficiencies are found, the new law would mandate the closing of the offending abortion clinic until it can prove it is in compliance. The legislation enjoys wide support with over 100 sponsors and co-sponsors, including the Speaker of the House and the Majority Leader.

Planned Parenthood is attempting to oppose the bill by distorting the horrific record of its St. Louis abortion facility.

“This is not a bill that’s responding to a problem. This is a bill meant to create further burdens on us because we provide abortion care, pure and simple,” said Paula Gianino, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, which operates the run-down abortion clinic in St. Louis, which is considered one of the most dangerous abortion clinics in the nation…

In addition, Operation Rescue obtained a Missouri Department of Health inspection report from a survey conducted in January, 2013, that revealed 44 pages of safety deficiencies, including:

    • Violations of infection prevention protocols.
    • Rusty surgical tables, suction abortion machines, IV stands, and other equipment.
    • “Copious amounts of dust” in surgical rooms and on equipment.
    • Hiring individuals without performing a mandated search of the Employee Disqualification List.
    • Retained left-over drugs that were supposed to be destroyed after a single use.
    • Lack of appropriate drug-handling policies.
    • Expired drugs.
    • Expired postpartum balloons used to reduce hemorrhage after abortion.

“They are wrong if they think spinning tall tales will negate the hard evidence we have against them,” said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue. “Planned Parenthood certainly does not want the public aware of the women rushed to emergency rooms by their shoddy St. Louis operation, neither do they want the public to know that at least four of the medical emergencies took place after an inspection found pages of serious problems at the facility. Instead, they downplay their negligent behavior and insist there is no problem. I doubt if the nearly two dozen women who were hospitalized after serious abortion complications there would agree.”

Planned Parenthood’s Gianino attempted to deflect from her clinic’s own bad behavior, complaining that the new law would “increase costs to taxpayers.” Almost laughably, she maintained that her staff is committed to providing “quality care.” In defending the 44 pages of safety violations, Gianino said that they were not considered “serious” violations and did not involve “quality of care.”

“It appears that Planned Parenthood thinks that women do not deserve better than their dangerous practice of cutting corners on things like infection protocols, drug handling, and sanitation. If they think that is ‘quality care,’ they should be shut down immediately,” said Newman…

Here's the full story from Operation Rescue.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Friday, January 17, 2014

Today's Posts

Vital Signs' January Letter Is Up

Teen Pregnancies Decline...When Planned Parenthood Gets Out of Town!

ObamaCare Website Remains (After 3 Months) A "Cybercriminal's Dream"

Maybe the Best Piece on ObamaCare & Abortion You'll Find

Is It Fair To Call Planned Parenthood an "Abortion Mill"?

Reading for Your Weekend

Vital Signs' January Letter Is Up

The latest LifeSharer letter can be found on the front page of the Vital Signs Ministries website.

The second half of the letter is appropriately (and, I hope) interestingly "newsy" about activities coming up in the next few weeks. But you'll certainly want to read the first part. Indeed, for baby boomers, it's a must.

So head on over and read, "Peace, Love and Bobby Sherman."

Teen Pregnancies Decline...When Planned Parenthood Gets Out of Town!

For decades now pro-life advocates have made the common-sense argument that Planned Parenthood's promotion, defense and even enablement of sexual activity among teenagers increases the rates of teen pregnancy, abortion, STDs, and so on.

That's the very opposite of what Planned Parenthood promises...and for which it is bountifully paid to do with your tax dollars.

Well, welcome to one of the most interesting and persuasive illustrations of the pro-lifers' argument; namely, the fact that teen pregnancy rates went substantially down across a wide geographic area when Planned Parenthood closed down their businesses there..

Check it out.

A study across the Texas Panhandle, using government statistics from 16 counties, found that the teen pregnancy rates among 13-17-year olds from 1994 through 2010 showed dramatic declines even as Planned Parenthood Federation of America facilities in the region shut down — dwindling from 19 family planning facilities to zero.

For decades, PPFA has publically maintained that it serves a key healthcare role for the American public by educating teens on “safe sex,” providing contraceptives, and reducing pregnancies. The breakthrough study titled “A Longitudinal Analysis of PPFA and Teen Pregnancy in the Texas Panhandle” refutes that claim.

Found within a meta-analysis of Planned Parenthood, the report states that the teen pregnancy rate “reached its lowest point in recorded history two years after disaffiliation of the last two remaining facilities.”

…“In 1996, the year before opposition to Planned Parenthood began, the average teen pregnancy rate in the 16 counties where Planned Parenthood operated facilities was 43.6 per 1,000 girls aged 13 to 17. By 2002, the rate had dropped to 28.6. In 2008, the year the last two Planned Parenthood facilities disaffiliated from PPFA, the teen pregnancy rate was 27.2. And in 2010, two years after the Texas Panhandle became Planned Parenthood-free, the teen pregnancy rate had fallen to 24.1.”

The raw data gleaned from government files shows that with a teen population stable at about 13,000, the actual number of teen pregnancies fell from an average of 544 per year in the five years before Planned Parenthood started closing its doors to an average of 373 in the last five years...

ObamaCare Website Remains (After 3 Months) A "Cybercriminal's Dream"

Do you think it's important that the American public be informed that the ObamaCare website remains a cybercriminal's dream?

Yeah, I do too. But don't expect the networks or wire services to bother with such things. Indeed, except for Fox News and the alternative media of talk radio and cyberspace, real news about what's happening in the U.S.A. is provided by...British newspapers.

Here's the Daily Mail story.

A man who was once the FBI's most wanted hacker says is a cybercriminal's dream.

Kevin Mitnick has been a legend in the hacking world since his 1990s heydays, but he's now playing for the good guys and sent a dire message to a congressional security panel on the ObamaCare website on Thursday.

“It's shameful the team that built the site implemented minimal, if any, security best practices. It's clear that the management team did not consider security as a priority.”

Mitnick was backed up by CEO of consulting firm TrustedSec LLC David Kennedy.

“ is not secure today,” Kennedy told the House Science, Space and Technology Committee. is the consumer web portal to a 36-state federal health insurance marketplace, which offers private insurance, with federally subsidized rates for some consumers. The 14 other states have built their own marketplaces.

Kennedy said 'nothing has really changed' since a hearing of the same committee in November, when he and three other expert witnesses said they believed the site was not secure and three of them said it should be shut down immediately.

“I don't understand how we're still discussing whether the website is insecure or not,” said Kennedy, who worked for the National Security Agency and the U.S. Marine Corps before entering the private sector. “It is insecure -- 100 percent.”

Maybe the Best Piece on ObamaCare & Abortion You'll Find

Sarah Torre, a policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation whose primary focus is on religion and civil society, has produced a thorough, fair and extremely illuminating policy paper on ObamaCare’s connection to abortion. It’s an excellent piece.

Yes, it’s a longer, more detailed piece than the ones you usually see on this topic. But it’s the careful attention to detail and documentation that makes it so valuable. Read it slowly and I guarantee you’ll be the most knowledgeable person at the table when the issue comes up.

The title of the article is “Obamacare’s Many Loopholes: Forcing Individuals and Taxpayers to Fund Elective Abortion Coverage” and the key points it delivers are as follows.

1) Obamacare will severely restrict the ability of Americans to choose health care coverage and work with issuers that reflect their values.

2) Obamacare opens new avenues for funding abortion providers through navigator and assister grants and coverage mandates on insurers.

3) Federal tax subsidies will be available for health plans offered on state exchanges that include coverage of elective abortion.

4) Some Americans could pay an abortion surcharge with private dollars, possibly without their knowledge.

5) Every individual and family that obtains qualified health insurance on or off an Obamacare exchange will be enrolled in coverage of abortion-inducing drugs and contraception—whether they want such coverage or not.

6) State and federal governments can mitigate taxpayer funding for abortion coverage, but truly protecting taxpayers, individuals, and families will require full repeal of Obamacare.

Is It Fair To Call Planned Parenthood an "Abortion Mill"?

Reading for Your Weekend

Besides the articles mentioned above (and, of course, those linked to earlier in the week here on Vital Signs Blog), here are a few more excellent reads that deserve your attention.

* "Sharing the Truth about the Unborn with Your Friends and Neighbors” Randy Alcorn, EPM)

* “Britain’s Lost Girls: Sex-Selective Abortions Claim Thousands of Daughters” (Alec Torres, NRO)

* “To Each According to His Delusions: Karl Marx, call your office.” (Larry Thornberry, American Spectator)

* “Politics Versus Education” (Thomas Sowell, syndicated column)

* “Global Warming A Back Door To Socialism - And Now Even The UN Admits It” (Editorial, Investor's Business Daily)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Today's Posts

How Windy Is It?

It is a very, very windy day here in Omaha, the proof of which came most forcefully to me when I exited the coffee shop this morning.

No, I won't go into detail about the adventure I experienced but I'll give you a hint -- it took me back to the first essay I ever read of G.K. Chesterton's, "On Running After One's Hat."

That essay, by the way, was the beginning of what would become a profound and thoroughly enjoyable admiration for the great writer that's lasted for 42 years and counting.

Interested in checking out that essay for yourself? You can do so right here.

Japan's Population Problems Are Serious...And Strange

How goes post-modernism in Japan?

Let's see...

The dreaded birth dearth.

Love hotels.

A dramatic stigma against working women and the most unhelpful of dads.

And the hikikomori (hundreds of thousands of young men who eschew human contact and spend their days playing video games and reading comics in their parents' homes).

Read about all this and more in "Everything you need to know about Japan's population crisis” from Sarah Eberspacher at The Week.

The Left (Including Team Obama) Loathes Home Schoolers

Ronald Reagan electrified the world when he demanded that the Berlin Wall be torn down. Barack Obama is helping to build a new one, even as the German government begins rounding up members of a despised religious minority.

The Romeike family was granted asylum in the United States because the German government was intent on wresting away the children and putting the parents in cages for the crime of homeschooling their children, which is verboten in Germany, a legacy of the country’s totalitarian past.

The Obama administration, which in other notable areas of immigration law has enacted a policy of “discretion” regarding deportations, took the Romeike family to court to have its asylum protections revoked, and succeeded in doing so. The family has appealed to the Supreme Court, which has ordered the Obama administration to respond to the Romeikes’ petition, but the administration has so far refused to do so…

Homeschooling terrifies the Left because the Left is at its core totalitarian, seeking to bring political discipline to every aspect of life — and control of education is essential to that project. The public school is in miniature what the Left believes the world should look like: Everybody arranged in orderly rows and moving about on an orderly schedule punctuated by bells, being taught about diversity and climate change by nice union ladies who also lead them to their federally subsidized lunches. If you can say “no” to that, you can say no to any part of the Left’s vision. Homeschooling is an existential threat to the privileged position of the institutional Left. The schools are the factory in which it manufactures its future clients…

Oh my, Kevin Williamson nails it. Read the whole of his essay, “Don’t Destroy This Family: Germany persecutes homeschoolers, with an assist from the Obama administration” over at NRO.

Fact Checking Abortion

To promote an upcoming lecture series that will feature Congressman Chris Smith and the Marriage and Religion Research Institute’s Patrick Fagan, the Family Research Council has dropped a few intriguing facts unearthed by new research. Among them:

* Instead of the figure abortion proponents regularly cite (that one-third of all women have had an abortion), the actual number is one-sixth.

*Almost three-fourths of abortions are performed on women who engaged in sexual intercourse at age 16 or younger.

* 40% of women who begin sexual intercourse very early (ages 12 to 14) end up experiencing an abortion.

* Contrary to frequent claims, there is no substantial difference of income status in women who have abortions.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Today's Posts

Modern Hollywood Values vs "Peace, Love and Bobby Sherman"

I read this morning that Dan Goor, one of the creators of the TV show Brooklyn Nine-Nine, proudly told the Golden Globes audience last night that he was happy he decided not to become a doctor because winning an award was “way better than saving a human life.”

A pretty cringe-worthy statement, right? Apparently not to the Hollywood audience. They laughed and clapped and cheered uproariously at this oh-so-typical example of modern values.

But I have another case for you, one that is definitely more uplifting, even inspirational.

The other night Claire and I were watching a rerun of Emergency!, Jack Webb’s TV hit from the 1970s that told realistic stories of firemen, EMTs, and emergency room doctors and nurses. This particular episode had as a guest star Bobby Sherman. I, of course, remembered Sherman as a TV and recording star who enjoyed his own time in the sun as a teen heart throb. Along with several hit records, Sherman starred on Shindig, Here Come the Brides and, for a brief time, even had his own series. TV Guide included him in their list of the 25 most popular teen idols of all time. And the line "Peace, Love and Bobby Sherman" became a standard mid-70s greeting.

My little sister Sherry, by the way, was among Bobby's devoted fans.

I wondered aloud to Claire, “What do you suppose ever happened to that guy?” and that drove Claire to Google for an answer. What she found delighted us…and it certainly provides a dramatic contrast to Mr. Goor’s lamentable statement last night.

Here’s the scoop.

It seems that the episode of Emergency! that we had seen (filmed in January of 1974) was a life-changer for Sherman. Indeed, from that time he began to move away from the spotlight and towards public service.  He took training and became a licensed Emergency Medical Technician (EMT). He was soon working (as a volunteer) with the LAPD and paramedics in presenting CPR and first aid classes. He became a technical reserve officer with the Los Angeles Police Department in the 1990s, a position he still holds today with the rank of Captain.  He was named LAPD’s Reserve Officer of the Year in 1999.

Also in 1999, Bobby Sherman became a reserve Deputy Sheriff with San Bernardino County continuing his CPR/emergency training of new deputy hires. He retired from the Sheriff's Department in 2010, but continues with the LAPD.

Sherman is twice married and has two sons and six grandchildren. He has received numerous public service awards and directs, with his wife, the Brigitte & Bobby Sherman Children's Foundation.

Obviously, Bobby Sherman wouldn’t have applauded Dan Goor’s line last night. No, Bobby Sherman knows too well that saving lives is a lot more important, more rewarding and more honorable than celluloid capers. And so I applaud Bobby Sherman.

So too, by the way, does my sister Sherry. In fact, after learning what Bobby Sherman has been up to since the mid-70s, she's a more enthusiastic fan than ever. But since I know that she still appreciates those youthful days when Bobby Sherman played regularly on her record player, here's a couple of memories for her...and for you too.

The Pickpocket Nature of ObamaCare

Have you wondered why insurance companies haven't been screaming more about ObamaCare? In large part it's because they still plan on making an awful lot of money -- from you as a direct consumer and from you again as a subsidizer of others.

Here's Jeffrey H. Anderson writing in The Weekly Standard with the story.

Robert Laszewski—a prominent consultant to health insurance companies—recently wrote in a remarkably candid blog post that, while Obamacare is almost certain to cause insurance costs to skyrocket even higher than it already has, “insurers won’t be losing a lot of sleep over it.”  How can this be?  Because insurance companies won’t bear the cost of their own losses—at least not more than about a quarter of them.  The other three-quarters will be borne by American taxpayers.

For some reason, President Obama hasn’t talked about this particular feature of his signature legislation.  Indeed, it’s bad enough that Obamacare is projected by the Congressional Budget Office to funnel $1,071,000,000,000.00 (that’s $1.071 trillion) over the next decade (2014 to 2023) from American taxpayers, through Washington, to health insurance companies.  It’s even worse that Obamacare is trying to coerce Americans into buying those same insurers’ product (although there are escape routes).  It’s almost unbelievable that it will also subsidize those same insurers’ losses.

But that’s exactly what it will do—unless Republicans take action.  As Laszewski explains, Obamacare contains a “Reinsurance Program that caps big claim costs for insurers (individual plans only).”  He writes that “in 2014, 80% of individual costs between $45,000 and $250,000 are paid by the government [read: by taxpayers], for example.”

In other words, insurance purchased through Obamacare’s government-run exchanges isn’t even full-fledged private insurance; rather, it’s a sort of private-public hybrid.  Private insurance companies pay for costs below $45,000, then taxpayers generously pick up the tab—a tab that their president hasn’t ever bothered to tell them he has opened up on their behalf—for four-fifths of the next $200,000-plus worth of costs.  In this way, and so many others, Obamacare takes a major step toward the government monopoly over American medicine (“single payer”) that liberals drool about in their sleep…

Here’s the rest of Anderson’s illuminating article.

A Few You Might Have Missed

Among the informative articles from the last few days, I found these particularly helpful. You might too.

* “Why Bridgegate made headlines but Obama’s IRS scandal didn’t” (John Podhoretz, New York Post)

“Asking the Right Questions about Pot” (Sally Zelikovsky, American Thinker)

* “BBC's six-year cover-up of secret 'green propaganda' training for top executives” (David Rose, Daily Mail)

* “Obama’s growing pains: The trouble with the President's economic agenda” (Editorial, New York Daily News)

* “Professor to Return to Classroom after Having TAs Dress like ‘Whores’ for Lesson” (Andrew Johnson, NRO)

* “How Bad Is Obama's Jobs Record? Let's Count The Ways” (Editorial,  Investor's Business Daily)

Thursday, January 09, 2014

"When Swing Was King" Opens 2014 Today

After a hectic morning (a great meeting with Pat Osborne at the Westroads Panera's, working on the LifeSharer letter, and then coming home to do the final fixes on the next edition of "When Swing Was King"), we take off in just a little while for our first presentation in 2014.

We would love for you to join us for one of these programs, helping us visit the residents of the various senior citizen facilities on our schedule. It would brighten their day...and yours! The schedule and locations for the month can be found right here.

The song list for the new volume?

1) Glenn Miller Orchestra -- "King Porter Stomp."

2) Tommy Dorsey Orchestra -- "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You."

3) Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra (vocals by Helen O'Connell) -- "I'm Stepping Out with a Memory Tonight."

4) Artie Shaw Orchestra -- "Lover, Come Back To Me."

5) Perry Como -- "Till the End of Time."

6) Duke Ellington Orchestra -- "Don't Get Around Much Anymore." (Photo theme: Modes of transportation.)

7) Lawrence Welk Orchestra (featuring Henry Cuesta on clarinet) -- "Stranger On the Shore."

8) Vaughn Monroe Orchestra -- "Racing with the Moon." 
(Photo theme: Racing.)

9) The Andrews Sisters -- "Nice Work If You Can Get It." 
(Photo theme: Work.)

10) Donald O'Connor -- "Make 'Em Laugh."
(Photo theme: Comedians.)

11) Benny Goodman Orchestra (vocals by Helen Forrest) -- "Taking a Chance on Love."

12) Judy Garland -- "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."

Spinning Out of Control

From a story over at Bloomberg News:

“Gonorrhea and syphilis are on the rise in the U.S., mostly in men who have sex with men, a trend the government said is linked to inadequate testing among people stymied by homophobia and limited access to health care.” 

Good grief. Leave it to the government (and the enabling media) to ignore completely the all-too-obvious reason for the STD increase and blame it instead on too much homophobia and too little ObamaCare. 

Goodnight, Gracie.

Planned Parenthood Is Rewarded...for Abject Failure

What do you get when you fail to meet stated annual goals, reduce unhealthy outcomes, yet increase the number of deaths of human beings? Rewarded.

Yes, Planned Parenthood gets rewarded with taxpayer-funded welfare each year for failing. Despite their Healthy People goals set in states across the country and federally with the CDC (e.g. Healthy People 2010, Healthy People 2020) and grossly missing the mark every single time, they get rewarded. They don’t have to show progress or success in addressing any so-called “healthcare disparity”. They’re accountable to no one and to nothing. Zip. Zilch. Nada. Sometimes it pays to be a big fat zero.

This has been by design. With society’s animosity toward corporations that unfairly bilk the American taxpayer, this hugely profitable nonprofit bilker gets a pass from so-called “progressives” because Planned Parenthood’s mission is sacred to those who embrace eugenic population control and the pretense of women’s rights. Democrats in Congress like Richard Blumenthal, Barbara Boxer, Dianne Feinstein, Chuck Schumer, Al Franken, Elizabeth Warren and many more liberal politicians want to ensure that Big Abortion (aka “women’s quality”) is protected at all costs…

Ryan Bomberger has a lot more to say in “Abortion Industry Welfare: It Pays Planned Parenthood to be a Big Fat Zero.” Catch it all in this column.

Does Our Government Really Think Evangelical Christianity Is Extremist? Like Hamas & the Klan?

Check out this page from the Pennsylvania Army Reserve's Equal Opportunity training presentation on "Extremism & Extremist Organizations." Note in particular how "evangelical Christianity" is not only listed with the likes of Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the Klan, but it makes the very top of the list!

And you thought conservative activists were just too doggone paranoid.

The page appeared in a new story from CNS News about what’s happening in the Department of Defense after they received a letter of protest (along with a request for immediate redress of grievances) from a coalition of religious liberty advocates. The Restore Military Religious Freedom Coalition, a group of 23 non-profit organizations, sent their letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Dec. 6 yet the Department has done nothing yet. That CNS News story (written by Penny Starr) is right here.

Was the Sexual Revolution Supposed to Give Us This?

The sexual revolution was supposed to be liberating and progressive, remember? But I’m afraid that all the love-ins, the live-ins, and the hooking up for one night stands have brought us are a coarsening of culture and an uncountable number of broken hearts.

Here's just a few recent headlines to illustrate:

* “Why are baby boomers so divorce-prone?” (Pepper Schwartz at CNN)

* “Gonorrhea, Syphilis Regain Traction in U.S., CDC Reports” (Elizabeth Lopatto, Bloomberg)

* "CDC: U.S. Fertility Rate Hits Record Low for 2nd Straight Year; 40.7% of Babies Born to Unmarried Women” (Terence P. Jeffrey, CNS News)

* And, of course, don't forget the other fruits of the sexual revolution including the most bitter and blasphemous of all, the ongoing holocaust from surgical and chemical abortions.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Today's Posts

Gates: Obama Didn't Believe in the War But Sent Troops In Anyway

Charles Krauthammer believes this is “an indictment of the president that rises above everything else he’s done in his presidency."

Check it out.  

And then pass it on. Who knows, maybe even your yellow dog Democrat Aunt Hazel will begin to see the light.

The Nanny State Turns Tyrant

A compassionate family down in Texas is experiencing just how unjust, cruel and coercive “liberal” bureaucrats can be.

Here’s a horror story (written by Tim Lambert for the Texas Home School Coalition) that’s not only all too true, it’s one that could be heading to your neighborhood at any time.

Defending Abortion By Comparing It to the "Violence" of Childbirth

Is there no rationalization that intensely pro-abortion believers won’t indulge? 

Now, Nina Burleigh has equated the rigors of childbirth with the violence of baby murderer, Kermit Gosnell. From her column in the New York Observer: “The murder conviction of quack abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell for scissoring viable fetuses to death propelled a new effort to demonize abortion generally. Even moderates like Ross Douthat used the event to remind people how violent and gruesome late-term abortions are when performed by competent doctors, failing to note that childbirth itself is a violent and gruesome event too.”

Born babies are not, by definition, “fetuses.”

Childbirth is certainly intense, but not “violent” — at least in the generally understood meaning as “involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something.” But late-term abortion definitely comes under that definition.

Radical feminists complain that our “patriarchal” society reflects fear and loathing for female biological functions. But they are the ones.

“Childbirth Is Not ‘Violent’” by Wesley J. Smith at NRO.