Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Confronting the Culture: A Sermon About Paul on Mars Hill

We have for quite awhile now contemplated posting audio files of some of my sermons and other talks on the Vital Signs Ministries web site. We haven't yet made a decision on that. However, it is increasingly common that churches are uploading the Sunday sermons on their own web pages or, at least, recording them onto a tape or CD and handing them to the visiting speaker as he leaves. Therefore, I've got a gang of these things and we may well opt to begin posting a few pretty soon.

But to give you a sample ahead of that time, here is an audio file of a sermon I preached at Prarie Lane Christian Reformed Church in Omaha a couple of weeks ago. It is posted on the Prarie Lane church web page. The text is Acts 17 and the specific subject is Paul's confrontation with the false gods and false ideals of Athens.

This Just In -- The ACLU Is Kinda' Liberal

Former FBI agent Gary Aldrich takes a canny look at the "selective prosecution" policies of the ACLU. Sure, the conclusions aren't surprising but Mr. Aldrich's brief catalog of evidence from just the last few years is well worth reading.

Women Who Make The World Worse

A recent entry over on The Book Den dealt with a couple of nifty recommendations of Kate O'Beirne's new book, Women Who Make The World Worse. I suggest you check it out if you haven't already. Good stuff.

But...wait a sec...be sure to also read what David Limbaugh has to say about it. His column (like a good cup of coffee, it's always good and strong) also carries an enthusiastic recommendation of the book.

So, Matt, Quint, John, Claire, and the rest of you, you think I might be hinting that Women Who Make The World Worse might find a place in an upcoming Book It! discussion?

There's a New Look to the G.O.P.

Here (from Thomas Sowell) is another review of Ken Blackwell as well as Mr. Sowell's comments on the prospects of a real change in the dynamics between black voters and the Republican Party.

Intact Marriages Make for Higher GPAs

Here's another case from the "Common Sense Can Be Quantified" file, courtesy of the World Congress of Families:

Parents searching for a way to give their children help in the classroom need look no further than the ring finger on their left hand. A new study published in the Journal of Divorce & Remarriage clearly shows that parents who make their marriage successful are conferring a remarkable academic benefit on their children - especially their daughters.

By using data for 265 seniors enrolled in a Colorado Springs public high school, researcher Barry D. Ham assesses "the impact of divorce in relation to students' academic achievement." And the pattern is clear: "Adolescents from intact homes perform better academically and maintain better school attendance than do those students from either single-parent or remarried homes."

Ham calculates that in comparison with peers from other family structures, students from intact families earn GPAs that average more than 17% higher. He further calculates a distinctively low rate of absenteeism among students from intact families, who missed 78% fewer class periods than peers from non-intact households.

While some have supposed that parental remarriage will erase the harmful effects of parental divorce, Ham finds that, overall, "children in remarried households performed no better than children in either single-mother or single-father families." More careful parsing of the data, however, indicates that "when a stepparent is brought into the home, the males somehow benefit" while females do not. Highlighting it as "one of the most significant findings of this study," Ham points to statistics indicating that "females were more negatively impacted" than males by living in a stepfamily created after parental divorce.

Ham does not comment on the irony of his findings in a social world in which feminists generally regard parental divorce and the stepfamilies it produces with indifference. He does see in his findings strong indications that, compared to peers in non-traditional homes, "those students residing with their two biological parents appear to be given an increased chance to excel educationally."

(Source: Barry D. Ham, "The Effects of Divorce and Remarriage on the Academic Achievement of High School Seniors," Journal of Divorce & Remarriage 42.1/2 (2004)

The Crisis of "Birth Dearth" Impacts Yet More Countries

In the last few months I've posted several entries here dealing with the rapidly falling birthrates in various countries -- falling birthrates so steep that they have finally alarmed politicians and academicians about the severe economic crises their respective nations face. But, as is being seen in nation after nation, the cultural attitudes that have developed against children due to increased self-centeredness and easy access to the "pill" and surgical abortion are deeply entrenched and, quite possibly, impossible to reverse.

Here are recent articles highlighting this problem in Japan ("Infertile Ground") and Germany ("Are Germans an endangered species?").

Monday, January 30, 2006

Carrying a Baby...A Baby Model, That Is

Saving a life can sometimes be an amazingly simple thing. Just ask Ray, the older gentleman I met last Saturday at the Walk for Life down in Lincoln, Nebraska. Ray had strolled by the Vital Signs Ministries information booth that we had set up there in the UNL Student Union following the Walk and he was really taken by our realistic (to the eye and even to the touch) fetal models. He looked up at me with a wink and a smile, "These are grand but you know I carry a baby in my pocket! In fact, I carry twins!" He reached inside his coat and showed me the plastic models of two preborn children, representations that suggest a gestational age of 8-10 weeks. "See? I carry these babies with me all the time."

"Way to go, my friend," I said as I reached over to the chair where my coat rested. Inside my pocket was a model of the very same type. I told him how I try and use the model when talking to people outside the abortion clinic.

Ray then told me about one of the times he was able to share his baby model with someone in hopes of saving a life. He was told by a co-worker that a single young woman in their workplace was pregnant. He later went to the girl and quietly congratulated her. She was touched by Ray's concern but somewhat embarrased because, as she candidy told him, her boyfriend was urging her to "discontinue the pregnancy." She didn't know what she was going to do yet.

Ray asked her if she had any idea how far along she was and the young lady told him. He then went over to his desk and came back with his plastic baby model. "Here," Ray said; "This model is exactly the size of your baby about now. This is what the little guy or the little girl looks like. Why not take it home and show your boyfriend?"

She did and, after a few days, she came back to return the baby model. "I can never thank you enough," she said. "All I did was show him the baby and tell him it looks like the one I'm carrying at this stage and he hasn't mentioned abortion since then. In fact, he's acting like he never brought it up in the first place." Ray told her to hang onto the model anyhow. "You just might find someone who needs to see it someday themselves."

I was, of course, beaming as Ray told me this heartwarming story but my smile became even wider as he answered my question, "Did you ever hear what eventually happened?" "Oh sure," Ray replied. "That little girl is more than 5 years old now and her mother has brought her into work several times. But ever since that day, I know how important it might be to have those baby models around. And that's why I keep two on hand, just in case."

There were many reasons for us to be at the Walk for Life and, like every year, we enjoyed many blessings from the event. But this year -- without a doubt -- the biggest blessing was meeting a dear man who carries life-saving babies with him...just in case.

Has America Reached the "Tipping Point" On Abortion?

Tony Snow thinks so and gives three illustrations to support his belief. Here's his Town Hall column.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Aborted Women and Increased Drug Abuse

The below comments are from the introductory abstract of the article "Induced Abortion and Increased Risk of Substance Abuse: A Review of the Evidence" written by Priscilla K. Coleman of Bowling Green University and published in Current Women’s Health Reviews...

Abstract: Research conducted over the last few decades has revealed an association between induced abortion history and substance abuse. The experience of induced abortion may be associated with psychological discomfort in some women and substance use offers a convenient remedy for alleviating the negative emotions without the necessity of disclosing the source of the discomfort. On the other hand, many characteristics related to the choice to abort are also systematically related to the likelihood of using substances (e.g., relationship difficulties, pre-existing emotional problems, a tendency to engage in risk-taking behavior, etc.)...

The full report can be read in a PDF file available at After Abortion.

Nebraska Gubernatorial Candidate Unveils New Abortion Disclosure Action

In what was certainly a noteworthy event last week, Republican candidate for Nebraska Governor, Dave Nabity, proposed a specific, detailed legislative bill requiring the expanded disclosure of abortion information. Desiring to give woman contemplating this momentous decision much more information about abortion's many and serious risks, Mr. Nabity used a template first designed by the experienced legal minds of Americans United for Life as a model for his proposed bill.

It is a much-needed action and I heartily applaud Mr. Nabity's efforts to highlight this important issue in his campaign. And, knowing Dave Nabity's pro-life convictions to be sincere and of long duration, I have no doubt he would work diligently to make such a bill become law were he to win the fall election.

So like I said, such a proposal is clearly of great import, especially in the heat of a three-way race for the G.O.P.'s candidacy for Governor -- a race in which all three candidates wear a pro-life mantle. So you tell me then -- why did the Omaha World-Herald fail to even report on Mr. Nabity's proposal? Other Nebraska newspapers covered the announcement. Of course they did; it was news. So why not the World-Herald? Could it be they've already made their pick down there and therefore prefer to ignore stories which might have readers consider the worth of anyone else?

For details on Dave Nabity's plan, check out this page on his web site.

Social Security's Waning Coffers

President Bush described in last year's State of the Union address that 50 years ago, 16 workers paid Social Security taxes for every person collecting benefits. Today, three workers pay taxes for every beneficiary. In a few decades, it will be two.

“The system, on its current path,” Bush warned, “is headed toward bankruptcy.”

So what's been done about this fiasco? And what needs to be done? Terence Jeffrey over at Human Events Online has some answers.

The Information War In Belarus

The European Union is moving forward with its plans to provide information via the airwaves to dictator-controlled Belarus. $2.45 million has been awarded to a German-led consortium which will begin independent media broadcasts into Belarus before the March presidential "election." The selected consortium includes partners in Poland (European Radio for Belarus), Lithuania (Radio Baltic Wave), Russia (RTVi) and even Belarus (journalists, civil society, and nongovernmental organizations). The two-year project involves radio and television broadcasts, the Internet, support of the Belarusian press, and the training of journalists.

However, that project isn't enough argues PACE (Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe). PACE representatives contend that the current plan just doesn't meet the overwhelming blackout which Belarussian dictator Alexander Lukashenka has thrown over his country's people. Indeed, in these months before the next election, Lukashenka's administration has taken a series of measures to prevent any expression of political dissent at all. Furthermore, it is stepping up its obstruction of the activities of democratic forces yet alive in the country and completely silencing what remaining independent media is there.

PACE called on Council of Europe member states to give immediate financial and if necessary logistical support to
independent broadcasting to Belarus from abroad, preferably employing independent Belarusian journalists who would broadcast in the Belarusian language. PACE also urged the European Union to extend its visa ban to include a larger number of high-ranking officials in the Lukashenka regime, consider easing visa requirements for ordinary Belarusian citizens, and "take appropriate steps to identify and freeze bank accounts and other assets belonging to President Lukashenka and others from his entourage."

News of the PACE resolution was greeted by Lukashenka in his typical fashion, boasting of his power to keep his countrymen free from decadent Western news and commentary. He claimed that Belarus's national broadcasting system "is ready to ward off information attacks with offensive counterpropaganda actions...."We will not lose the information war. Belarusian radio and television channels have not lost their sharpness." Lukashenka also reiterated his position that Belarus's broadcasting system is an "integral part of state policies and ideology" -- meaning, the controllers who invent, distort and when necessary omit altogether the news, will continue to keep the Belarussian people from knowing how weak, corrupt and ineffective is the government of President Lukashenka.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Ohio's Next Governor? A Profile of Ken Blackwell

He's an outspoken, eloquent, experienced conservative. He's proudly pro-life and he's ardently for tax-cutting economic growth. He's exactly the kind of principled politician others in the Republican Party need to emulate. And, need it be said, that Ken Blackwell is just the kind of politician that grassroots conservatives need to support with enthusiasm...and generosity.

The City Journal's Steven Malanga has here an excellent review of Ken Blackwell's career, positions and chances including how other black conservatives have a shot at really shaking up (for the right!) the coming elections.

And here is the Ken Blackwell for Governor web site. There you can check out the latest news about the campaign and make a contribution.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry's Remarks at the March for Life

It is a rare thing when Nebraska is represented on the platform of the March for Life in Washington, D.C. But this year, Nebraska Congressman Jeff Fortenberry was among the pro-life political representatives encouraging the crowd to keep up their good work defending the sanctity of life. Here is a transcript of his comments:

"Good afternoon. It is such an honor to be with you today to peacefully gather and celebrate the beautiful gift of life. I am particularly encouraged by the many young people here. Despite the culture of death that rages around you, you courageously challenge the nation's leadership -- especially the impoverished decisions of the Supreme Court -- showing the world that we can be a country of life giving love.

Together we say abortion is a fundamental injustice against women and their unborn children -- that abortion has caused a deep wound in the soul of our country, resulting in untold grief and violence.

The early feminist movement recognized this, and we recognize it today.

We say that women deserve better, especially those who feel coerced into abortion. For abortion is so often a decision brought on by emotional and physical abandonment. And what is the result? An unborn child dies. A woman is left scarred. A man escapes his responsibility. And the abortion industry profits from this pain.

The beautiful thing about the pro-life community is that we offer hope. We pray, we plead to our society: Please do not make the choice for abortion. Please do not go down that road. You deserve so much better.

And yet even if someone makes the tragic decision for abortion, we still say we support you and we love you. We will help you heal. Our voices are the voices of hope and compassion.

I want to especially thank those here today who are living with post-abortive struggles. We honor your bravery, your honesty, and your strength. Your recognition of the gift of life and the poignancy of your stories are making a significant contribution.

Thank you all for your sacrifice. Thank you for your courage. And thank you for your wonderful dedication to our message of hope and healing. Together we will rebuild our society with a true respect for women--and the beautiful gift of life."

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The Church of England in Ruins

...My reading of the Church of England is that it will continue its decline, down in the 90s by 20 percent, and there is no evidence that it is going to change if it carries on unless a miracle occurs. It will go into virtual extinction and survive as a shell but it will not be an effective Christian presence in England. This is true sadly of mainstream Protestantism and the Roman Catholic Church as institutions in England...

This statement comes from one of the leaders of the C. of E.'s REFORM movement, Rev. David Holloway, vicar at Jesmond parish church in Newcastle, England. It is just a part of a wide-ranging conversation between Rev. Holloway and David Virtue. Read the entire interview right here.

Don't Miss These Pro-Life Columns

Here are a couple of must-read pro-life articles from two of the movement's best female writers. The first comes from the pen of Ann Coulter; the second from Jill Stanek.

The Tragedy of Haleigh Poutre

Michelle Malkin reviews the tragic injustices perpetrated on little Haleigh not only by her brutal stepfather but by the government bureaucrats, the judges, and an indifferent public as well.

NBC's "Book of Daniel" is Closed

Here's the brief story from the American Family Association.

Now -- if instead of breathing a sigh of relief, we re-dedicate ourselves to using the power of prayer, the power of principled protest, and the power of our purchases in opposing all the other "shlock waves" the media continues to roll at us -- then we'll really have something to be excited about.

And speaking about TV, why not take a look at this Linda Chavez column? It is "spot on."

3 Questions to Ask Your High School Biology Teacher About Evolution

The case for evolution is greatly overstated. Nevertheless, most biology textbooks have errors, misstatements, and biased data about evolution. In sum, here are three questions to ask your biology teacher or anyone else who may believe in the theory of evolution:

1. Origin of Life: Why do textbooks claim that the 1953 Miller-Urey experiment shows how life's building blocks may have formed on the early Earth -- when conditions on the early Earth were probably nothing like those used in the experiment, and the origin of life remains a mystery?

2. Darwin’s Tree of Life Why don't textbooks discuss the "Cambrian explosion," in which all major animal groups appear together in the fossil record fully formed instead of branching from a common ancestor -- thus contradicting the evolutionary tree of life?

3. Human Origins. Why are artists' drawings of ape-like humans used to justify materialistic claims that we are just animals and our existence is a mere accident -- when fossil experts cannot even agree on who our supposed ancestors were or what they looked like?

These three questions conclude a very good little article over at Planet Wisdom written by Sean McDowell. And yes, the article includes a more thorough explanation of these questions. It is a nifty article to print off and hand out to the junior and senior high school students you know and, for that matter, the rest of us who have been sold the same evolutionary bill of goods.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Canada Goes Conservative -- Barely

It was oh-so-close and the Conservative Party will not be able to rule by majority. But the win by Conservatives after 12 years of iron-fisted Liberal government was truly huge. Here's the story from the Calgary Sun.

It's Halloween All Year Round: American Teens Are "Into" the Supernatural

You've perhaps wondered if there is any effect from the media's recent enthusiasm for the weird and wild worlds of the occult? You know, all those Anne Rice vampire novels, the phenomenally successful Goosebumps series for young readers, and the dozens of Hollywood movies and TV series which star witches, mediums, ghosts and paranormal adventurers?

Big surprise...the answer is yes.

Here's the latest on the matter from the insightful and thorough research of George Barna.

Do Pro-Life Laws Really Save Lives?

Rebecca Hagelin answers this question (and brilliantly) in her Town Hall column. Check it out.

Nebraska Coalition for Ethical Research Is Asking for a Little Help

The Nebraska Coalition for Ethical Research is an organization that is excellently serving the cause of the sanctity of life while at the same time promoting the best medical research possible. I have been pleased to serve on the Advisory Board of this organization since their beginnings and can add my hearty recommendation to your involvement in their critically necessary outreach. In the letter I print here, Dr. Sheryl Pitner, the current President of NCER, describes some of the work of the organization as well as making an appeal for our help in keeping NCER moving forward for life. Please consider her request carefully.


As we head into the new year I wanted to thank you for the support you have given NCER and let you know of our successes and needs.

Last year began with much excitement with the Michael Reagan dinner and hiring Chip Maxwell as Executive Director. Chip has been busy spreading the word by taking the "road show" to many cities and organizations. We now have a regular newsletter to keep Nebraskans aware of important issues and advances. Chip also has been instrumental in fighting the uphill battle to get our position in the press more regularly and strengthening NCER's voice.

All of our elected officials to national offices - Sens Nelson and Hagel; Reps Osborne, Fortenberry and Terry - are on our side and have supported NCER. We need to continue to supply the information and tools for Nebraskans to voice their opinion at the state level also so that Nebraska supports biomedical research that upholds the dignity of human life and refrains from engaging in research that destroys one life to help another.

It is imperative that we maintain a full-time, paid Executive Director position if we hope to continue to be a voice in the debate. At this point, we have roughly $24,000 (of an $80-90,000 budget) pledged for this year. Last year we net $15,000 - $16,000 from the Reagan dinner and mid & end-of-the-year appeals. We hope to clear at least that this year with a fall fund-raiser.

So, as much as I dislike asking and I am sure you dislike hearing, I am making an appeal for a yearly contribution. I ask that you consider what you may be able to donate this year, and hopefully on a yearly basis. I do not need the money right now, but I do need to know what we can count on so that I can give Chip an assurance as to how long we can support him and so that we can continue to build our visibility and support in the state and continue to increase our funding.

We made it through last year and into this year and I know we can continue because we have the truth on our side. Thank you for your interest and patience in reading this. Please let me know by the end of the week, January 27, what you feel comfortable contributing. Also, if you have any names of possible donors, please forward them to us at info@ethicalresearch.net.


Sheryl Pitner, MD


Nebraska Coalition for Ethical Research

Monday, January 23, 2006

Leo on Lying

Here's a great read about what the John Frey episode (he of the false memoirs) says about our culture's preference for feelings over facts.

Eliminating the Wrong Kinds of Folks

La Shawn Barber's comments on the March for Life emphasize the heinous actions of Margaret Sanger and her elitist pals who targeted racial minorities for extinction. Important reading from a wise and winsome conservative.

Bureaucrats Know Best -- Dispensing Abortion Drugs to Minors

Citizens of the U.K. are only a little more "advanced" than we Americans in the surrender to government workers such little things as freedom, moral vision, and parental responsibility. Here's the Daily Mail story about how thousands of 13-year old girls have been given the morning-after pill without parents' consent or even knowledge.

The results? Well, besides the preborn children destroyed by the abortifacient drugs, the policies of giving out sex information and "equipment" to minors without any parental involvement have contributed to more fornication among youth, a subsequent (and drastic) rise in STDs, and further breakdown of family communication. Ah, the Welfare State -- where no one's genuine welfare is served.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Homosexual Activist Playing the Lead in Christian Flick

Much has been made in evangelical circles in recent days about the obligation of Christians to attend and promote the film, The End of the Spear, the movie about the martyrdom of missionaries Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, Peter Fleming, Roger Youderian, and Ed McCully in 1956 Ecuador. But finally there is some attention being given to the fact that the film's star is an outspoken homosexual activist -- and that creates a quite serious problem.

Here is a thoughtful piece on the matter by Southern Baptist theologian and cultural commentator, Al Mohler.

Will Canada Survive?

Only if they vote Conservative on Monday.

That's the opinion of an increasing number of people including voters and journalists like the Toronto Sun's Michael Coren. Here is his column telling you why.

This Just In -- Socialist Bureaucrats Not Good for Business

Europe's most successful companies are turning their backs on EU markets because of red tape, a high-level report said yesterday. The companies that Europe needed to survive were instead investing more money than ever in the United States and Asia, concluded the report, presented to the European Commission in Brussels.

The lack of investment was so dire that it threatened Europe's "comfortable" way of life. "Europe has to act before it's too late," said the report's author, Esko Aho, the former prime minister of Finland. The findings made unsettling reading for the EU leaders, ripping into their pledges to build a "knowledge-based Europe" that would overtake America in 10 years.

The reality was the opposite. Not only were US, Chinese and Japanese firms outspending Europe on research and development, the gap with Europe was growing.

Perhaps most damagingly, Europe's most important countries were pouring more and more of their technology investment overseas, as they despaired of the European Union becoming "innovation friendly"...

Here's more from the Telegraph (U.K) story.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Denny Remembers His (Very Brief) Boy Scout Career

I received an e-mail this evening from a friend who is involved in the local activities of the Boy Scouts of America asking help for a little survey he is doing in anticipation of the Mid-America Council of the B.S.A. celebrating its 90th anniversary. My friend was asking everybody involved on the faculty or staff of Grace University who was ever a Boy Scout to share some of the details of their Scouting career. As I'm teaching a Grace course this semester, I'm apparantly on the adjunct faculty and so was included in the survey. My answer to this query follows:

Dear __________,

I wondered why Claire was smiling as she looked through our e-mail. She laughed and explained, "___________ is looking for Grace faculty who have had experience with the Boy Scouts. Do you want to tell him yours?" I started laughing too because in an otherwise forgettable adolescence, two disasters stand out quite vividly from my oh-so-brief tenure as a Scout. Be assured I do not lay any blame at the feet of my Scoutmasters -- they were noble, capable and caring fellows, I'm sure. But then there are limits to what even the best mentors can accomplish when working with real numbskulls like I was.

The first memorable moment came when my troop went up into the mountains to learn some outdoorsman skills, play a wide-ranging game of "Capture the Flag" and cook our own dinner. We were also supposed to fill our canteens from the stream at the foot of the hill for our evening's repast. Always on the lookout for an unconventional way of getting things done (especially if it was easier), I opted to open the spigot on a water tank at the south end of the building. Cool...at least until I took a big swig of the stuff to wash down my baked potato. It was kerosene! I thought I was gonna' die and was only somewhat relieved to find out I wasn't. Goodness; I smelled and tasted like a refinery for a couple of weeks. The only positive (looking back on the affair) was that I was afraid to sneak any of my Dad's cigarettes for quite awhile. I was afraid that as soon as I " lit up", I really would.

The other disaster happened, I think, the very next outing we went on. My troop (448 in Jefferson County, Colorado, by the way -- why I remember that I'll never know) visited a place we called "Paradise Valley" where we planned to spend a weekend camping. There were three (or maybe four) groups of us. I was in the Panther Patrol which, in retrospect, represented a kind of "rogues gallery" of our neighborhood. Yes, to be fair, one of the Panthers would eventually spend a successful career in law enforcement but at least two of us were destined...no, that smacks too much of determinism...at least two of us would make free moral choices to travel the other side of the law. At any rate, that weekend didn't work out well. First, the Panthers were denied their choice spot of a campsite because the Beaver Patrol (our troop's elite corps) decided they wanted it instead. Feeling wronged, we decided on revenge (certainly antithetical to a Scout's honor) and that night we used our little shovels to dig a trench from the stream into the Beaver Patrol's tent. After rather thrilling results from our escapade, we were quickly named as the culprits. Who else? The most red-handed capture of my criminal career came right at its start. We were scolded, properly punished and warned we had only one more chance. We agreed.

But, like I said, the
re are some boneheads that just aren't cut out for the Scouting life. We behaved ourselves pretty well the next day but that evening would spell our doom. First of all, we were told how to make a log contraption that would reflect our campfire's heat back into our tent. Ours burnt up. Next, we got to cutting up a little while making dinner and somehow I managed to brand Jimmy D_____ with a hot wiener. Ouch. Now, Jimmy lived across the street from me and was my friend and so the thing truly was an accident...really. Jim was a good Scout about the whole business and didn't rat me out. After all, what's a flaming hot dog between good pals?

The comedic complications of this camping trip were not quite over for the troubled Panther Patrol, however. That night, it rained. And while the other patrols stayed dry and warm, our guys did not. We thought we had done everything right (well, except torching our log thing) but it turned out that we had not only pitched our camp on a slope but we hadn'
t effectively set it close against the ground. Thus, the water came down, came under our tent, came under the polyethylene "sheets" we had lain under our sleeping bags, and, before it was done, carried two of us down to the creek as nicely as if were playing on a Slip n' Slide. That was enough for our Scout leaders and, if I remember correctly, the entire Panther Patrol was relieved from Scout duty -- permanently. What I later heard may even be true; namely, that each of our names and photos were distributed to the B.S.A. with the warning, "Under no circumstances should a troop undertake to make Scouts out of these rascals. They are a danger, both to others and even to themselves." My Scouting days were, alas though probably mercifully, at an end.

But, _____ -- before you conclude that all of the Boy Scout lore and training were wasted on me, let me finish my Scout memoirs with this truth. Ever since those few weeks as a Scout, I have been careful never to let go of a sharp object until the person I'm han
ding it to says "Thank you" or some other acknowledgment that he does, in fact, have control of the object. It was my teachers from Troop 448 that stressed that important bit of advice and it stuck. So, though my life in the 1960's veered sharply from all of the other virtues the Boy Scouts wanted to teach me, I do, thanks to them, have all my toes!

Please know I will understand completely if you choose NOT to include these reminiscences, except maybe that last helpful tidbit, in your general survey!



Ethics 101 This Is Not

...“Ethics,” at least in the mouths of politicians, is a weasel word to begin with. Its currency derives chiefly from the unwillingness of politicians to engage the term "morality." Pols prefer the more vague and technical-sounding word “ethics,” as it only binds them rhetorically to a set of professional rules that are usually pretty insignificant and silly, and certainly bear no necessary or intrinsic relationship to right and wrong. The triviality of the term is obvious in the press’s coverage of the post-Abramoff scramble in which the parties are competing childishly to advance the most stringent plan to regulate lobbying. As the Washington Post put it ludicrously, “in a sign that an ethical ‘arms race’ may be developing, the Democratic plans go further than the Republicans’ proposal.”

An ethical arms race? What does that mean? That Democrats and Republicans will for years to come be jostling with each other to see who can conform to the natural moral law more perfectly? That they are in a race to achieve a higher moral state? That if the Republicans commit themselves to, say, eight of the Commandments, the Democrats will commit themselves to all ten? No, apparently the ethical arms race will revolve around such weighty struggles as: Which party will give up baseball caps and coffee mugs from lobbyists? The Democrats, according to the Post, have surged ahead in the ethical arms race as they promise to abstain from even the $20 gifts the Republican plan permits...

Read the rest of George Neumayr's NRO column here; it's well worth your time.

Lies, Lunacy and Over the Edge Hype

Oliver North chronicles a few of the most recent radical charges by Democrats against President Bush -- including Al Gore's latest laughable hypocrisy. Click on the title of this post to read North's article.

And, weighing in on the same issue, here is an excellent column by Tony Snow.

Send In The Clowns

The Center for Consumer Freedom has announced their 5th Annual "Tarnished Halo" Awards given to "America's most notorious animal-rights zealots, environmental scaremongers, celebrity busybodies, self-anointed 'public interest' advocates, trial lawyers, and other food and beverage activists who claim to 'know what's best for you.'" This, my friends, is the loony left in action.

Don't miss today's Vital Signs Blog entry linking you to the Center for Consumer Freedom. But while you're there to check out their "Tarnished Halo" Awards, be sure to take a look at their cartoon section too. Nifty.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

The Minor's Good vs the Abortionist's Greed: An Exemplary Illustration from Yesterday's Sidewalk Counseling

As has been argued for many years, including by some who remain aligned with abortion rights, it is mere common sense that an abortionist obtain the parent's permission before destroying the preborn child within a minor. After all, other surgical procedures (much less invasive and dangerous) require parental permission. In most states a minor cannot (on her own) get outpatient cosmetic surgery or even ear piercings. Why then should abortionists get a free pass even though the evidence is overwhelming that abortion creates a myriad of physical, emotional and relational problems for the women who undergo it? More specific, why should abortionists be allowed to so brazenly dismiss the considerations of those closest to the young woman, those who have raised her and are most responsible for her future well-being?

Why indeed.

Yet the beneficial intent to involve parents in their daughters' abortion decisions has been boldly fought by abortion advocates throughout the years. Arrogantly claiming for themselves the right to "do what's best" for minors, even above the parents themselves, abortion enthusiasts have successfully waged war even against parental notification laws, let alone those that would require the parents' permission. Even when the will of a state legislature desires parental involvement, the abortion lobby works to modify, limit and otherwise minimize the effect on the abortionists' profits -- judicial bypass, requiring only one parent's involvement, weakened powers of enforcement, etc. And, yes; without effective oversight, abortionists can routinely ignore whatever aspects of those laws they choose.

This preying on the young by abortionists, this "open season" on frightened, impressionable young women, is a particularly sad and frustrating element of the whole unjust structure which is legalized abortion. And I'm commenting on it today because of a first-hand experience from yesterday at an abortion clinic. Here's the story...

I was sidewalk counseling Monday morning as per my usual schedule. It was cold and very windy and it was all I could do to keep hold of my large sign with the baby photo and the simple word "Life" emblazoned above. Inside my pocket were several different pro-life pamphlets which, respectively, educate the reader of the facts about fetal development, abortion, the wide range of help we can offer pregnant women and their babies, and so on. I staple these collections together so I can hand them out easily. I also carry similar little collections of pro-life pamphlets printed in Spanish. And finally, I carry a plastic model representing a child in utero at about 8 weeks of age. That model I can also show to the abortion clients, especially powerful when I can persuade a young woman to actually hold it like...almost...happened yesterday. But that was with a different girl and a different story -- let me return to the example that prompted my remarks on parental involvement.

It was early - the abortionist's staff hadn't yet arrived - but a car from out-state Nebraska drove by slowly and parked high up in the coffee shop parking lot across the street. The couple looked older than the usual abortion clients but I realized that perhaps a daughter had been huddled in the back seat where I couldn't see her. They were parked there a long time and it was pretty obvious they were waiting for the abortuary to open. Because I was alone I stayed near the entrance of the clinic, available to talk to people coming in and showing my sign to passersby -- and frequently to the car across the street. After I had talked to three other girls going in for abortions, the car drove behind the building and out came a slight young blonde with her parents following meekly behind her.

I spoke in the usual way, "Guys, the reason I'm here this morning is to tell you the truth about abortion that you certainly won't hear inside this place. They exist to sell abortion so they are going to hide the facts about your baby's development and about the severe dangers posed by abortion to your own health and future. Please, just let me have a minute to share with you some literature and to tell you how we can help you with whatever needs or fears or problems you're facing because of this pregnancy. Please? You know, honey; your baby's heart is beating even as we speak. It isn't just a blob of tissue; it is your lively, beautiful baby son or daughter and that precious child needs you to make the right decision right now! Please, guys; Jesus loves the little children (I'm sure you've sung the song yourselves) so please don't do this thing that will so displease Him. Please reconsider and let me help you."

The girl seemed quite nervous and the parents were somber and withdrawn. In fact, a couple of times the girl had to wait for them to come along. There was only the most fleeting eye contact between the girl and myself, but it was a different story with her parents. I expected either of them to speak to me but they never did. Even after they went into the building, the parents paused and looked back. After all these years, I'm very hesitant to guess what's in people's minds, but I couldn't help but be hopeful. "Lord, give them the courage to do what they know is right." It is a regular prayer of mine when sidewalk counseling but I admit to believing that this family "knew what was right" more clearly than most. Yet up the stairs they went into the abortionist's office and, as I can sadly relate, very few escape after going that far.

But yesterday was a blessed exception!

I had been standing down near the south parking lot where the clients park when I inexplicably decided to walk back towards the door. I got there just in time to see this family walking out! The girl gave me a slight, embarrassed smile but the parents were beaming. The mother waved to me and said, "We're leaving. We're going home!" The father was even more animated. Sporting a wide grin, he flashed a thumbs up sign to me and when I motioned for him to come over, he readily did. He was effusive in thanking me for being there and for what I had said when they were going in. "And I love that sign too!" He grabbed me by the shoulders and said, "All of our prayers were answered. She finally decided to do the right thing! Thanks again; thanks so much!"

I gave him one of my little packets of pro-life information and emphasized the number of the pregnancy center. I told him that they could direct him to excellent pro-life resources in his own area of Nebraska. "Thanks," he replied, "but we're gonna' be fine. Our prayers have been answered." His wife and daughter had waited for him and both gave me another smile and wave. Suddenly then the dad turned back around and said, "You know, what we need here is a parent consent law, not just a parent notification." He gave me what was then a half wave, half salute and they went back to the car to drive back home: mom, dad, daughter, and a warm, safe unborn child that had come much too close to being murdered.

"What we need here is a parent consent law, not just a parent notification."

May this father's words help us to redouble our efforts to achieve that very important political goal. And may our Lord raise up many new voices for such common sense morality even as He tears down the strongholds of arrogance, lies, and greedy violence established by the abortionists who have so wickedly exploited America's young girls.

And yet may we also be inspired by the miracle that occurred yesterday to not wait for politicians to stand in the gap for the babies and their extended families, bit to do what we can right now. If we are willing to pray and witness and work, The Lord will use us to secure His will in the world, including His will that preborn kids be spared from any avoidable harm. So we continue our efforts in the legislatures, in grassroots advocacy, in sidewalk counseling, in pregnancy care centers, in education, and in fervent intercession. And we look to that day when work against such a horror as the killing of the innocents is over forever.

Russia Is Dying

According to the Russian government itself, 70 percent of all pregnancies in Russia end in abortion. Little wonder that the resulting demographic crisis has more than a few alarmed. However, as several countries in Western Europe have discovered, it was a lot easier to let the demons of abortion out of Pandora's box than it is to get them back in.

At least 1.6 million Russian women underwent abortions last year, 20 % of them under the age of 18.

Even the President, Vladimir Putin, is alarmed and he tried to warn the nation about the economic disaster facing Russia if there isn't a quick and dramatic turn around in the birth rate. For instance, pensioners now outnumber Russians 18 or younger for the first time in Russia's history. For a country already battling poverty, this situation is one full of dread.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Making Pork Barrel Spending Harder to Get Away With

“The deck is stacked in favor of bigger government and more spending"-- so argues Citizens Against Government Waste. Therefore, in addition to several other actions they are encouraging to cut the pork from government spending, CAGW has endorsed the Obligation of Funds Transparency Act (S. 1495 and H.R. 1642, respectively). The Act is sponsored by Rep. Jeff Flake (Republican from Arizona) and one of his Senate counterparts, John McCain, also from Arizona.

For more on this proposed legislation, including contacts to help move it forward, read this article.

Here's a sample letter I sent to my Nebraska Congressman, Lee Terry...

Dear Representative Terry,

In addition to the critical right to life issues about which I have frequently written to you, I appreciate your serious consideration of other matters of great consequence. Among these, of course, are such issues as religious freedom, national defense, the restoration of the balance of powers as designed by the framers of the Constitution, and a dedication to oppose the incredible escalation of government spending.

It is in reference to this last goal that I urge you to co-sponsor the Obligation of Funds Transparency Act (H.R. 1642). It is only one tool to control the out-of-control waste of government funds, but it is an important one.

Thank you for your quick attention to this bill.

Denny Hartford

CEDAW's Abortion Fixation

From Life Issues...

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimanation Against Woman (CEDAW) in its recent thirty-third session, began its meeting with the same tired charges against Ireland and other countries for not acknowledging women's right to abortion.

But Kriztina Morval of Hungary spoke, "One thing that is lost in this debate is that abortion is bad for women. No woman wants to have an abortion. We have the illusion that women have free choice, but abortion is terribly damaging psychologically, spiritually and physically." She went ahead to say that she hopes one day "abortion will be a thing of the past and considered like torture in the field of human rights." She then focused on the responsibility of men, explaining that the majority of women choose abortion because their partners did not support their pregnancy. Talk about a breath of fresh air. Thank you Kriztina Morval.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Don't the Bishops Have Something More Important to Do?

Pioneering pundit R. Emmitt Tyrrell takes an insightful look at the weird and wacky court fight the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is waging against the Media Research Center. Check out his notable column right here.

You might then want to do as I did; namely, send along a simple message to the esteemed Bishops suggesting they use their time, money and spiritual energy in worthwhile actions against real enemies. (My note, by the way, is printed at the conclusion of this post.)

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
3211 Fourth Street, N.E.
Washington, D.C. 20017
(202) 541-3000

The only e-mail address I could find was for their publication page -- publications@usccb.org

Dear Bishops,

I'm sending along a quick note of protest over the court battle you are waging against the Media Research Center for "proprietary rights" over, of all things, the letters "CNS." Good grief! This would be a patently silly thing (pun intended) were it not for the time and money you are wasting, let alone the damage done to your already wobbly reputation. C'mon, give it a rest. Drop the suit and get back to the "Father's business."

And, oh yes; an apology to the Media Research Center is in order too.


Denny Hartford
Omaha, Nebraska

Friday, January 13, 2006

Babies Not Admitted to "General Hospital"? GH Actress Claims She Was Fired for Pregnancy

The AP story explains that yesterday former "General Hospital" actress Kari Wuhrer sued ABC-TV, contending her character was written out of the soap opera (meaning she was canned) for becoming pregnant.

The 38-year old actress, whose career includes a gang of horror films as well as her GH gig, filed the discrimination and wrongful termination suit in Los Angeles County Superior Court. In addition, the suit described the defendants to be agents of sex discrimination, pregnancy-based discrimination, wrongful termination, failure to provide reasonable accommodations for pregnancy, et. al. The suit challenges ABC to pay her at least $3 million in damages because of lost earnings, career damage, and the resultant emotional distress.

Wuhrer says she notified the GH writers and producers that she was pregnant back in August so they would have plenty of time to write her condition into the script. Or, like many prime time actresses have experienced, clothing, camera angles, props, etc. can be used to de-emphasize the "pregnant look". However, GH simply decided to fire Wuhrer two weeks later.

Ms. Wuhrer's suit is notably and welcomingly plain spoken. For instance, "The vile underbelly of the Hollywood Machine encourages female actors to be as beautiful and slim as possible." And it suggests that an actress who "dares" to become pregnant has one choice: "Terminate her pregnancy or be terminated."

The photos shown here are from Kari Wuhrer's web site. The one on the left is a shot used for one of Wuhrer's charity functions; the other a more recent photo (showing an obviously pleased and proud mother) at an October film premiere.

Look here for another quick take on the story from TMZ.com.

Coulter on Democrats: Stick a Fork in 'Em; They're Done

Nobody does it like Ann! Her column examining the Alito hearings is not to be missed so click on the title of this post to read it all. But here's teaser...

...According to Dianne Feinstein, Roe v. Wade is critically important because "women all over America have come to depend on it." At its most majestic, this precious right that women "have come to depend on" is the right to have sex with men they don't want to have children with.

There's a stirring principle! Leave aside the part of this precious constitutional right that involves (1) not allowing Americans to vote on the matter, and (2) suctioning brains out of half-born babies. The right to have sex with men you don't want to have children with is not exactly "Give me liberty, or give me death."

In the history of the nation, there has never been a political party so ridiculous as today's Democrats. It's as if all the brain-damaged people in America got together and formed a voting bloc...

What's in NBC's "Book of Daniel?"

For those of you (like myself) who haven't watched NBC's newest attempt to deride Christianity and blasphemously boost the cause of sexual deviancy, Brent Bozell has the goods. This is a eye-opening column about both the show's content and the behind-the-scenes motivations of the network and the show's producers. There is also a couple of bonus items here about "The Book of Daniel," including the enthusiastic promotion of the show by Episcopalian officials!

Read through Mr. Bozell's column and you'll be more than ready to register your protests. The American Family Association has a very helpful collection of principals for you to write, e-mail or call, including the only national sponsor left, the Burlington Coat Factory. That list is right here.

8 Stabbed in Moscow Synagogue -- Skinhead Fascism Blamed

Radio Free Europe reports that Aleksandr Koptsev, an unemployed Moscow youth stabbed eight people in the Chabad Bronnaya synagogue on January 11. Koptsev shouted anti-Semitic slogans in what one witness called a "well-planned attack." The assault ended only when he was stopped and wrestled to the ground by a teenage boy. The eight victims are in a hospital -- two in serious but stable condition.

Moscow prosecutors have charged Koptsev with attempted murder, causing premeditated bodily harm, and inciting racial or religious discord. Police found gun ammunition and a list of Moscow synagogues in his apartment.

The Israeli Embassy in Moscow said it is "extremely concerned" by the incident. Indeed, Berl Lazar (Russia's chief rabbi) cut short a trip to Israel and returned to Moscow following the attack. Lazar told reporters: "It's here. It's fascism...I am sure that gunmen will come to every home unless our society wakes up to the problem now." he added.

Borukh Gorin, the head of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia, agrees. "Fascism will come knocking at the door of every citizen if we do not take serious measures now." He added that he hopes the latest incident will send a message to the Russian authorities about the seriousness of the problem of prejudice and extremism. Human rights groups have warned that hate groups have grown substantially in recent years.

The Russian Foreign Ministry and the Russian Orthodox Church condemned the attack.

Koptsev's father told "Kommersant-Daily" that his son is a quiet young man and does not belong to any political or religious organization but Mosnews.com noted that "the stabbing is the latest in a growing series of incidents apparently involving skinheads or racist groups in Russia."

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Out of the Hwang Fiasco, A Chance to Do It Right

Kathryn Jean Lopez over at NRO has a terrific column which not only reviews the shame and silliness represented by the Hwang Woo-Suk mess but, more importantly, challenges the scientific community to now conduct themselves with class, with a profound respect for human life, and with an unbiased eye for science that has actually proven successful. A great read.

Planned Parenthood's Latest Blasphemy

This just in -- the nation's #1 abortionist has no shame. But then if you kill preborn children by the hundreds of thousands, why be embarassed at profane Christmas cards, blasphemous comic books, distorted "educational" campaigns, or now... key chains?

The photo is from the Drudge Report story on this affair.

HHS Promoting Sexual Deviancy

You know the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services -- the one that is an agency of the federal government of which the Republicans have been "in charge" for the last several years? Well, here's a little report from the Family Research Council that reminds us how little it matters which party is in power if it doesn't dare take on the liberal bureaucrats who run things however they please...

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has sponsored a taxpayer-funded website that prominently features classic symbols of the pro-homosexual activist movement--an inverted triangle in rainbow colors with the word PRIDE above it. The website, dedicated to preventing alcohol and drug abuse, includes the admission that "lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are more likely to smoke, drink, and use other drugs than...non-lgbt peers." Rather than warning that homosexual conduct is itself a significant health risk, the website blames society for the "high-risk choices" that homosexuals make, citing "homophobia," "heterosexism," and "stigma, alienation, and discrimination."

The website also uses material from pro-homosexual activist groups such as the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), while ignoring groups with a different perspective, such as Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays (PFOX).

Let HHS know that you don't want this kind of propaganda being supported by your tax dollars. You can e-mail Nancy Kennedy of the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention at nkennedy@samhsa.gov

An additional Vital Signs note -- I would urge too that you consider e-mails, letters and phone calls to your Republican politicians, asking them to use a bit of the incredible power they possess to effect necessary change in our government.

EU to Start "Freedom Broadcasts" into Belarus

The European Commission is going ahead with plans to begin EU-funded radio and television broadcasts to Belarus. In fact, those broadcasts will start before the parliamentary elections scheduled in that country for March 19. The suppresion of any political opposition to Communist dictator, Alexander Lukashenka, is overwhelming but the EU yet retains some hope of enlightening the people of that country. Indeed, there will be several TV and radio programs dedicated specifically to the election with about $2.5 million allowed by the EU for this effort.

As one who has visited Belarus on many occassions and developed many friendships there, I pray these broadcasts have a strong impact. May I encourage you to pray towards the same end?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Pro-Abortion Researcher Dismayed by His Own Findings

This news story from the New Zealand Herald is today's "must read." It is a riveting piece about the largest international study ever on the psychological effects of abortion, a study that has been received with deliberate disdain by journalists and biased researchers and even with dismay by the pro-abortion director of the study itself. But the facts are clear --

Researchers found that at age 25, 42 per cent of women in the study group who had had an abortion also experienced major depression at some stage during the past four years.

This was nearly double the rate of those who had never been pregnant and 35 per cent higher than those who had chosen to continue a pregnancy.

"Those having an abortion had elevated rates of subsequent mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, suicidal behaviours and substance use disorders," said the researchers, whose study has been published in the Journal of Child Psychiatry and Psychology.

Professor David Fergusson, the lead researcher, is frustrated with the results of his own study because he knows they will be used to bolster arguments against abortion. And as someone who adamantly supports abortion rights, the preponderance and clarity of the evidence has confounded him.

Nevertheless, after going through all that tax-funded work, Professor Fergusson avoided the Hwang Woo-Suk Syndrome and dutifully reported the facts as uncovered. That's a lot more than can be said about Fergusson's peers in the field...

Professor Fergusson...said the paper was declined by a number of journals, he suspects because of the "controversial" nature of the topic.

"We went to four journals, which is very unusual for us - we normally get accepted the first time."

He knew that by publishing the paper, he and the group would be throwing themselves into a vicious political arena, and their science would be claimed as "proof" of a certain ideology by one side, and damned by the other.

The draft paper was sent to a number of organisations for comment and analysis.

The Abortion Supervisory Committee, which supervises all legal and compliance aspects of terminations, concluded that it would be undesirable to publish the results in their "unclarified" state as they would be used as "a political football".

As I said, the story is today's "must read" and I thank the Family Research Council for the tip to check it out.

Canadian Conservatives Expecting Victories

Of course it's too early to start popping the champagne corks, but Canada's Conservatives have moved ahead by substantial margins in today's polls regarding the January 23rd election. There is even a chance that enough Conservatives would be elected to Parliament for the party to form a majority government. Twelve years of Liberal rule may (mercifully) be nearing an end.

The question remains, however -- if Canada's Conservatives do not actively pursue conservative ideals (as their counterparts in the United States' G.O.P have so spinelessly failed to do), how significant would be their victory anyhow?

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The Score? Adult Stem Cell Research, 65 and Counting vs Hwang Woo-Suk, 0 and Out of the Game

A Seoul National University panel investigating Hwang Woo-Suk's fraudulent claims of embryonic stem cell research team has now admitted the fact -- ALL of the team's research claims were completely false. Hwang did not successfully clone human embryos nor did he clone patient-specific embryonic stem cells.

The University, Science magazine, and Hwang's legion of fans in Korea and around the world who thought him a bold pathfinder whose work would create inumerable cures and treatments -- are all now struggling to hide their embarassment and disappointment. I can suggest a proven cure for those problems, however -- they need only begin to put their hopes, their money, and their efforts into adult stem cell research. The treatments coming from that field are proving anything but fake.

Alito on the Rack

Senator Ted Kennedy's opening remarks in the confirmation hearings of Samuel Alito were as savage and unfounded as expected. This despite the fact that Kennedy's view was much different the last time Alito was being confirmed by the Senate. Then Kennedy said, "You have obviously had a very distinguished record. And I certainly commend you for your long service in the public interest. I think it is a very commendable career and I am sure you will have a successful one as a judge." Why the big change? As Andy used to say of Barney, "He's a nut." But in Mr. Kennedy's case (he of the adultery, the drunkeness, the passion for abortion, the ongoing disdain for his own Catholicism, the lifestyle of lies and slander, the cowardice in leaving a young girl to drown, and so on), the innocence and good nature of Deputy Fife is completely absent.

Also very instructive (and very frightening) in the opening remarks of the Democrats is their amazing distortion of the constitutional government they serve in. For instead of viewing the United States as a representative republic, with ultimate responsibility vested in the people's will, the Democrats in the Senate clearly believe Americans serve under the courts. Wisconsin Democrat Senator Herbert Kohl -- "Before we give you the keys to the car, we want to know where you will take us." New York Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer explained the same idea in a press conference the night before, pledging to grill Alito hard since, after all, the Court decides "where we pray, how we live, who shall live, and who shall die."

The correct understanding, of course, is that Americans are not supposed to be under the courts, whatever the wishes of the Democrats are to avoid the judgment of the majority. Instead, as Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council points out, Americans are to be under God and the Constitution. Republican Senator from Kansas, Sam Brownback, described it aright when, in his own opening remarks, he described Chief Justice John Marshall. Marshall was a tremendous jurist, Brownback argued, but Marshall definitely embraced the idea that judges interpret what the law is; they don't invent it themselves and they don't seek to execute it themselves.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Integration or Assimilation -- Which Is the Path of Peace?

Mohammed Afzal Khan, the Pakistani-born Muslim Lord Mayor of Manchester, has a couple of complaints. One of them concerns over-zealous Muslims who deal in coercion, violence, terror tactics and revenge. Despite the teachings of certain passages in the Koran, Khan maintains "the teaching of Islam is about moderation - the middle road." Thus, he has been a founding member of Manchester's Muslim-Jewish Forum, a group trying to foster better understanding and tolerance between the two groups.

However, Khan's second complaint is the assumption that tolerance (and the social progrees it should yield) requires assimilation.

"There is a real need for integration among communities who can be true to their own values and work together," Khan insists. "I'm not interested in assimilation. Why should I let go of something I have? As a Muslim living in Britain, I have the luxury of being able to pick and choose. Assimilation is a one-way street. I'm interested in a two-way street. Integration allows for everyone to become enriched through picking and choosing."

Even assuming Mayor Khan's motives are all the best, however, confrontation is unavoidable when there exists no consensus about social priorities or, for that matter, a common respect for freedom of conscience in matters of religion. If one man's religion bids him turn his cheek and forgive his tormentor while another's urges conversions through the force of the sword (with lethal punishment justly served for those who refuse), peaceful integration is as impossible as peaceful assimilation.

Read more from this story in the Jerusalem Post.

More Puppies?

With an increasing concern over Japan's less than zero population growth, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi recently attempted a plea for larger families. However, his appeal was about as crass and disrespectful as could be, suggesting that Japanese couples receive their inspiration from (no kidding) dogs!

You see, 2006 is the next Year of the Dog in Japan and, in a recent press conference, Koizumi tried to connect the observance with the very serious problem of a dwindling population, one that saw a net loss of nearly 20,000 just last year. Therefore, the Japanese, he argued, must begin to “do as dogs do” and start increasing their litters! After decades of easy abortion, consumer excesses, and social pressures against children, Japan's future is in jeopardy and Koizumi seems to think an appeal to animals is an effective inspiration.

“Dogs produce lots of puppies and, when they do, the pains of labour are easy,” Koizumi explained. He also stressed his desires to “fashion an environment where people can think raising children is delightful”.

The answer, Mr. Prime Minister, is to revive in Japan an appreciation of the unique nobility and spirituality of human life -- not to further degrade it with comparisons to beasts.

That's what created the crisis in the first place.

How We Doin'? -- Two Very Different Evaluations

America's religious leaders (most of them) regularly inform us that America is spiritually healthy, this despite the evidence one sees every day that contradicts those assuring comments. In this week’s Barna Update, this critical "disconnect" is explored by comparing pastors’ views of the spiritual commitment of their congregants to the self-evaluation of churched adults regarding their own devotion to God. You'll see that the distance between these two perspectives is breathtaking.

Click on the title of this post or right here for the report.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Red China's Brutality Goes On and On

This Reuters report details how Chen Guangcheng, a blind Chinese activist has been beaten, denied medical treatment and placed under house arrest for four months because he blew the whistle on forced abortions in his home province. His family have also been put under house arrest and calls to the outside have been cut off.

These reports are endless despite Western assurance that human rights in Communist China are "every day and in every way getting better and better."

Friday, January 06, 2006

An Important Nebraska Pro-Life Bill Needs Your Support

From State Senator Mike Foley...

Dear Friends:

Early next week, the Nebraska Legislature will begin debate on LB 57 – "The Assault of the Unborn Child Act".

This bill provides criminal penalties for any person who commits an act of violence against a pregnant woman that result in serious bodily injury to her unborn child. Previous successful legislation on this topic only provided criminal penalties for the death – but not injury – to the unborn child.

For example, if a drunk driver smashes into a pregnant woman and her unborn child suffers permanent brain damage as a direct result of the crash, no criminal charges could be brought against the drunk driver for the injury to the child under today’s law. LB 57 addresses that legal deficiency.

I write today to beg for your prayers and spiritual sacrifices for the successful passage of this important legislation. We are expecting a very difficult battle.

Please pray that Our Lord will bless our pro-life legislative work.
Thank you very much


Mike Foley
State Senator

MSM Ignores Scandals of the Left

When I think of the most diligent, perceptive, straight-shooting critics of American media, Brent Bozell is at the head of the class.

Here's one of his latest columns, a nice piece demonstrating how a scandal to the MSM (mainstrean media) must by default involve conservatives. Nothing else, no matter how vile, corrupt or clearly proven, matters a whit.

And for yet another recent example of the MSM's "deliberate ignorance" of corruption among Democrats, take a peek at this Town Hall article written by a fellow whose investigative journalism has set the standard for the New Right movement, R. Emmett Tyrrell.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Cowardice and Compromise: The Secrets to Church Growth?

Joel Osteen, pastor of Houston's Lakewood Church (the largest congregation in the United States) and the author of the nation's best-selling book (Seven Steps to Living at Your Full Potential) seems to be well deserving of the title, "evangelism's hottest rising star." At least, that is the way Larry King referred to him when Osteen showed up for Larry King Live last summer. But does Osteen's success in being popular require the kind of faithlessness he demonstrated on that program?

A friend recently sent to me an excerpt from the transcript of King's interview with "the smiling preacher" and I reprint, without further commentary, that excerpt...

KING: How about issues that the church has feelings about? Abortion? Same-sex marriages?

OSTEEN: Yeah. You know what, Larry? I don't go there. I just ...

KING: You have thoughts, though.

OSTEEN: I have thoughts. I just, you know, I don't think that a same-sex marriage is the way God intended it to be. I don't think abortion is the best. I think there are other, you know, a better way to live your life. But I'm not going to condemn those people. I tell them all the time our church is open for everybody.

KING: You don't call them sinners?

OSTEEN: I don't.

KING: Is that a word you don't use?

OSTEEN: I don't use it. I never thought about it. But I probably don't. But most people already know what they're doing wrong. When I get them to church I want to tell them that you can change. There can be a difference in your life. So I don't go down the road of condemning.

Sigh --- Sorry, I guess that could be considered "further commentary," huh?

Anyhow, the full transcript can be read here.

Italy is Dying: Government May Begin Paying Women NOT to Abort

Italy faces a dismal future (one encompassing nothing less than a complete economic collapse) because the birthrate is so far below replacement levels. And even worse news -- Italy is only one of several European nations staring at the same crisis.

Ah; the fruits of the sexual revolution.

Clicking on the title of this post will take you to Stephen Mosher's insightful commentary on this issue. The original article was sent by Mosher's Population Research Institute as part of their weekly update but since PRI is usually a week or two behind in posting those e-mail updates onto their web site, LifeIssues.net re-printed the alert on their own site. Thanks to both groups.

Hwang's Loud Lies

Here at Vital Signs Blog, the story was first spelled out two weeks before it caught on with the world's press but the heat has finally blazed forth from headlines everywhere to burn up the reputation and phony results of Hwang Woo-Suk, former media darling and South Korea hero -- hero, that is, until his "research" into embryonic stem cell and cloning turned out to be brazenly fraudulent.

This fine story by Wesley J. Smith over at The Weekly Standard makes a fine review as well as a great "send around" tip for your friends. For those who have passed over the story so far, do take the 5 minutes neccessary to get up to speed by reading Mr. Smith's well-written article.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Ignoring Iran at our Peril

May Thomas Sowell's common sense warnings in this column be seriously regarded by the world's leaders who heretofore have cravenly refused responsibility to oppose Iran's violent (and nuclear-charged) plans of revenge against Israel and the free world.

After Divorce and Abortion Permeate a Culture, Who Will Care for the Elderly?

Some very important points to ponder (provided by the World Congress of Families)...

1) Eduardo Porter: "Next year, the federal government expects to provide about $130 billion for Americans to buy health insurance. The amount is substantial: it is equivalent to about 11 percent of all federal income tax revenue and more than a fifth of federal spending on Medicare and Medicaid. And it is growing fast: the bill is expected to surpass $180 billion in 2010."

2) Kevin Kinsella and David R. Phillips in "Global Aging: The Challenge of Success," published in Population Bulletin 60.1 [2005]: 3-39: Thanks to advances in medical science, men and women are living longer throughout the industrialized world. But after decades of epidemic divorce and depressed fertility, some social scientists are now growing worried about prospects of caring for the swelling ranks of the elderly.

"The precariousness of old-age security" greatly concerns an international team of scholars writing in a recent issue of Population Bulletin. "The global trend toward fewer children," these scholars remark, "means fewer potential caregivers for older parents." Looking at population trends in the United States, the authors of this commentary note that "the likelihood of being childless among women ages 40 to 44 nearly doubled between 1980 and 2000 (from 10 percent to 19 percent)." Similar trends may be seen in other industrialized countries, raising serious questions about "future elder-care arrangements."

But it is not just the birth dearth that makes it difficult to see how modern societies will care for their elderly. The decades-long retreat from wedlock also complicates the picture.

The authors of the new PB analysis acknowledge that providing care for older married people typically proves less of a problem for society than does providing care for older singles. In the first place, "married people, particularly married men, enjoy healthier and longer lives than their unmarried counterparts." Indeed, recent research indicates that "married adults [are] healthier than unmarried adults within every population group (including age, sex, race, or ethnic groups) and within groups with similar health indicators (whether they [are] smokers, disabled, or physically inactive, for example)." Furthermore, the analysts point out that even when they do suffer from poor health, "married older people are less likely to enter a nursing home [than are unmarried peers] because their spouses are often available to care for them."

Unfortunately, the PB analysts anticipate a future in which fewer and fewer older people enjoy the benefits of wedlock and in which more and more consequently require care in nursing homes or other non-familial institutions. To illustrate the global trend, the analysts cite statistics for the United States, where only 9 percent of men and women ages 65 and older were divorced or separated in 2003 compared with 17 percent of those 55 to 64 and 19 percent of those 45 to 54. The consequences of this upsurge in divorce are not hard to imagine: "The changing marital composition of the older population as these younger cohorts reach age 65 will affect the nature and types of support services that both families and governments will need to provide."

It appears that the global trend away from family life is fast turning the golden years of millions of older men and women into nothing but lead.