Wednesday, January 31, 2007

And, Of Course, the Ice Scraper is Inside the Car!

The Fight Against Roe v Wade is A Fight For the Nation's Survival as a Free Republic

Ken Connor with some wise words of warning to America about living (and dying) with Roe v Wade. Thank you, Mr. Connor.

The Letters Are in the Mail

Here are a few more letters from Monday night's P.A.L. Night...letters of polite but firm conviction about the moral issues that are of such weighty importance to our nation. I print them in hopes that visitors to Vital Signs Blog will follow suit and write a few letters of their own. And, for those who would like more information on how to create an effective P.A.L. Night yourself, please zip us an e-mail at

Matt wrote the following note to the Speaker of the House about the recent vandalism of the U.S. Capitol. (See this post for more info.)

Dear Congresswoman Pelosi,

It was with much dismay that I read the news accounts of the anti-war protestors defacing our national monuments. Since the Chief of the Capitol Police is accountable to you, I feel it is appropriate to ask your office about the protocols and orders surrounding this event. Certainly, there was a different set of rules for the anti-war protestors than those normally in effect.

Was this because your views and ideology were aligned with these protestors? It certainly seems that way. Please correct this situation by bringing the offending parties to justice. In the future, do not let bias and ideology get in the way of fairness, decency and order.

Thank you.

The Democrat Senator from Nebraska was one of only seven from his party to support the Constitutional freedoms of speech, press, and redress of grievance by voting "FOR" the Bennett Amendment to S.1. Therefore, Quint wrote to Ben Nelson with this thank-you:

Dear Senator Nelson,

Thank you so much for voting for S.1, the Legislative Transparency and Accountability Act of 2007 with the Bennett amendment. Without this amendment, family value organizations would have been seriously (and unfairly!) restricted from informing us concerning important legislation, thus hampering our right to “petition the government.” This is the heart of democracy.

God bless you.

One of Chet's letters last Monday night was this one to Nebraska Congressman Lee Terry:

Dear Lee,

Thank you for your continued support of righteousness and common sense in the House. In behalf of those virtues, I write to urge you to work to defeat HR. 254 by speaking on the floor, personally talking with other House members and, of course, with your vote.

As has happened in other nations, this type of legislation has successfully been used to intimidate and even muzzle religious believers who teach that homosexuality is a sin. Also, the noted psychiatrist, Dr. Jeffrey Satinover, has described how when homosexuality is “normalized” through legislation or any other means, there is a resultant shift in cultural values that leads to an acceptance of many other forms of sexual perversion, including the scourge of pedophilia.

We continue to pray for you – for courage and divine leading. God bless you.

Matt wrote this quick letter to his Nebraska State Senator about the anti-cloning measure intoduced in the Nebraska Unicameral by freshman Senator Mark Christensen:

Dear Sen. Christensen,

Thank you for introducing LB 700. This took an incredible amount of courage especially as a freshman senator. I will be praying for the quick passage of this bill and against the attacks of the likes of Ernie Chambers and the UNMC.

Thank you very much. I will also invite my senator, Mike Mines, to make sure that he will support this law.


Remembering this Vital Signs Blog post, Quint penned this note to Jerry Jones of the NFL's Dallas Cowboys:

Dear Mr. Jones,

I love NFL football and the Dallas Cowboys have a great and distinguished history in the league. However, your support of Planned Parenthood is hardly to be esteemed and encouraged. You may not know that Planned Parenthood is the primary abortionist in the United States today. Surely, you don’t want the Dallas Cowboys to be supporting an organization that destroys life. I urge you to immediately stop your support for Planned Parenthood.


The Modern Shopper: Society's Latest Thrill Seeker

A recent New York Times story on new consumer trends (Julie Bick's "24 Rolls of Toilet Paper, a Tub of Salsa and a Plasma TV," January 28, 2007) highlighted the findings of researcher and entrepreneur Pamela Danziger, who claims that Americans are moving rapidly into a whole new era of buying motivation. This new trend is marked not by the mall (so 1980's) nor the giant discounters like Wal-Mart (way too 1990's) but rather by the deliberate emphasis by retailers on the intense psychological factors that fuel modern buyers. Call it thrill seeking via credit card.

Danziger has put a lot of work into this field of research. She is the founder of Unity Marketing and has become a popular spokesperson on issues involving consumer spending and motivation. Indeed, Danziger has appeared on programs such as Today, CBS News Sunday Morning, NPR's Marketplace and has been interviewed for stories run by the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Forbes, USA Today and more. Her three books have been very influential: Why People Buy Things They Don't Need; Let Them Eat Cake: Marketing Luxury to the Masses; and her newest book, Shopping: Why We Love It and How Retailers Can Create the Ultimate Customer Experience.

Danziger's primary point in her new book (and thus in the NY Times article) is that today's consumer has money (or credit) to burn and rather than saving, budgeting, and shopping smart, the new motivation for buying is experiencing an emotional high. Simply buying luxury items, for instance, provides a thrill for today's shopper that is often more of a joy than the actual use of the item. Impulse buying, once a term used to describe undisciplined, irresponsible spending, is now a priority in the marketing plan of the retailer, including even the store's floor plan, display strategy and ambience.

Quality...durability...necessity -- these values are out. Getting a kick out of shopping is in.

Studies prove Danziger's point. For instance, 70% of Americans admit that they often (or even regularly) shop -- just for fun. So many stores are providing just that. Aiming to capture the recreational shopper, marketers are developing new techniques all the time to make you want to come to their stores and buy their goods -- because it feels so doggone good!

In the Times article, Danziger describes the successful model of Costco, "Shopping at Costco often goes something like this: Customer comes to buy bulk necessities like toilet paper and dish detergent. Customer buys those items, as well as a pack of giant muffins, three cashmere sweaters and a power tool. It's more than impulse buying. It is a calculated part of the company's business plan. Call it the Costco effect.

'We always come out with too much,' said Linda Curtis Schneider, who lives in Nashville. 'It's hard to get out of there for under $200.'

The article explains how the trend of targeting (dare one say, manipulating?) a consumer's psychology is having great success. But the strategy is defended by sellers as simply providing what shoppers most want; namely, a good time, a release of stress, an escape from boredom, the feeling that they're living the good life, and the enjoyment of a little one-upmanship on their friends.

Danziger, whose job is to increase the profit margins of her retailer clients, is all for it. She cites Costco as one of the leaders of the new trend and encourages other companies to emulate them. 'Shopping is recreational there,' she said. 'People seek out this psychological reward.'"

But, of course, is reward the appropriate term for something so flighty, so unnecessary, so irresponsible as buying something you don't need? Sure, you can buy now and squeeze as much of the thrill out of the moment of purchase as possible. But then later, you must pay. And payment is frequently a much longer, more stressful experience -- one that creates much more dissonance than it's worth even as it negates the healthier experiences of saving, investing and helping those with acute material needs.

So, please beware the intoxicating lure of the retailer. Shop wisely and well. And find your fun somewhere besides the store!

Anti-War Vandals Got Away With It -- Will their Democrat Pals Get Away With It Too?

Here's a couple of reports from the Family Research Council regarding the reprehensible behavior of several yahoos among the few hundred anti-war protestors who showed up last week in Washington, D.C. The profane, disrespectful vandalism of this group is bad enough but what is much more frightening is how the Capitol police simply allowed the sinister circus to go on unopposed. And, oh yeah -- where is the Democrat response?

Here are the two FRC commentaries:

1) This past weekend anti-Bush protestors marched on Washington. While the few thousand who showed up paled in comparison to the hundreds of thousands who marched for life earlier in the week, the anti-Bush protestors were given unprecedented access to the U.S. Capitol grounds, and some of them used that access to publicly deface taxpayer's property. According to the local newspaper, The Hill, the protesters were allowed to take the Capitol steps and they began to spray-paint "anarchist symbols" and phrases such as "Our capitol building" and "You can't stop us" around the area.

For any other group, such acts would mean immediate arrest. This time, the Capitol police's hands were tied because they were ordered to stand down by their Chief of Police, who answers to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). To add insult to injury, public employees had to come in on their day off, at taxpayer's expense, to clean up the mess the protestors left behind. (View this video to see evidence of the vandalism.) The vandals clearly broke federal law. According to the U.S. Code, "[I]f the damage exceeds $100, the defendant is subject to a fine of up to $250,000, ten years imprisonment, or both . . When property damage does not exceed $100, the offense is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $100,000, one year imprisonment, or both."

According to the news reports the rank and file police officers were "livid" that they were ordered not to arrest anyone. Since the Capitol police answer to Speaker Pelosi, the question arises, did the Chief of Police give the "no arrest" order or did it come from someone else? Whoever is responsible for the order needs to explain why the physical destruction of taxpayer property is acceptable.

Please e-mail Speaker Pelosi's office and ask her to find out why no attempt was made to halt or arrest these vandals. If the U.S. Capitol has a new policy on such acts, does it apply to everyone - or just to those whose views the majority in Congress favors?

2) FRC has done some digging and uncovered more shocking details about the anti-war march in Washington this past weekend. For such a small crowd, the demonstrators were an interesting bunch of people - everything from actors and anarchists to the members of Congress who marched alongside them, including: Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Reps. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), Maxine Waters (D-CA), Jerry Nadler (D-NY), and House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-MI). Also addressing the crowd from his prison cell was convicted cop-killer Mumia Abu Jamal.

After talking to members of the Capitol Hill police, FRC discovered that one reason the officers held back from confronting one batch of protestors was because the anarchists threatened the officers with bottles of human urine. Additional damage done to both city and personal property includes a news truck pelted with rocks and spray-painted street signs. Although the demonstrators claimed they supported the troops but not the war, The New York Times reported that some of the protestors actually spat at war veterans as they marched by. Peaceful civil disobedience has an honorable history in the United States, yet many of those who protested last weekend were neither civil nor peaceful. Speaker Pelosi must respond to these actions, even though her party had connections to this shameful march...

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Yet More Reflections on the March for Life

And now here are a few of Dick Loneman's comments from his first Vital Signs "field trip" to Washington, D.C. for the March for Life:

*** Refering to his later-in-life conversion to Christianity, Dick wrote: "To see what God has done for me by bringing me from where I was, to a place like this is more than I could ever believe. To share a weekend like this with friends who love Jesus so much is really an amazing blessing."

*** Moved by his hours in the National Holocaust Museum, he wrote, "When I saw pictures of the children and read of their plight there in the Holocaust Museum, it helped me understand (a little bit anyhow) just how terrible it was for them. How tragic and shameful! And how tragic and shameful also is the plight of the little ones in the womb of abortion-minded parents. They have so little chance if we don’t stand up for them."

*** "As I read Matthew 13:14, I think of the security guard at the Council Bluffs Planned Parenthood -- so angry, so profane. The passage reads, 'You will keep hearing but will not understand, and you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive.' And then the next verse says, 'For the heart of this people has become dull. And with their ears they scarcely hear. They have closed their eyes.' Father, please break through to him before it's too late."

*** "Today we were really blessed when Denny decided to go rent a vehicle. Otherwise, the wind and snow would have really limited what we could have done. This way we were able to see so much, including the Lincoln Memorial and the nearby statues and Wall honoring our men and women who served in the Vietnam War. Deeply moving. Just to the south of these is the Korean War Memorial where this engraved message meant so much to me: 'Our nation honors her sons and daughters who answered the call to defend a country they never knew and a people they never met.' When I saw that I thought too of how those of us who stand for life at the abortion clinics are standing for people we do not know. But God knows them even before He formed them in the womb. And, just as it was honorable and right for Americans to seek to defend life and liberty in southeast Asia, it is certainly honorable and right for Americans to do the same for the unborn babies right here at home."

*** "Because of having the vehicle, we also made it to the World War II Memorial. Very powerful. We were once again reminded of the tremendous sacrifice of the men and women that served our nation's interests -- and those of justice too. And, oh yes, that vehicle allowed us the blessing of going to a great restaurant in Old Town Arlington where George Washington and other leaders of our great country used to dine. We were graciously treated to a wonderful lunch there by a family that Denny and Claire knew, Brian and Gwen Mueller. That was really nice."

*** "On Sunday morning we started the day off with prayers together and a special observance of the Lord's Supper. Once again I was moved to thank God for His unending love for me. Another spiritual highlight of the day was a 'prayer drive' that we made around the D.C. area, especially the Congress, Capitol, Supreme Court, and so on. We prayed earnestly as Denny drove through the snowy streets for all the ones that make decisions about our country."

*** "On Monday we finally got to march for life. A tremendous experience! It started with a quick (but wonderful!) breakfast at a little deli near the Family Research Council headquarters. I had so much fun seeing my friends from Omaha treat the two gals behind the counter with such love and respect. And it was reciprocated too. There were several signs that Christians owned the deli, including crosses, messages, etc. but the nicest sign of all was their warmth. Then, of course, there was the March itself. I guess I feel inadequate to try and express what was in my heart that afternoon but I know I'll never forget it. And I pray that I'll never get over it either! Just to see so many pro-lifers with a heart for God’s little ones! And then to be able to thank God for being a part of this important witness myself! Wow! What more can I say but thanks be to God that we can all use whatever time and money and talents He has given us to do whatever we can to save the babies and help their moms and dads find the peace of Christ that we have found."

Turning on the Lights -- with Letters

Below are printed a quick sampling of my letters from last night's Vital Signs Ministries P.A.L. Night. I'll post a few more tomorrow, including letters written by Chet, Matt, Quint, Carol and Claire. Please consider joining in, won't you? Your letters can pack a punch too! You can use the Taking Action section of this blog and these sample letters to get started.

1) The Issue?
Ford Motor Company's promotion of an aggressive homosexual social agenda.

To the folks at Ford Motor Company,

I’ve enjoyed Fords for a good deal of my over 40 years of driving but due to the entrenched attitude of Ford Motor Company in supporting the homosexual agenda, I’m through. In fact I’m passing along word of your company’s attitude to my friends and family as well as to the readers of my newsletter and blog.

Please – reconsider your promotion of an unnatural lifestyle that only brings shame, guilt and the most dangerous of diseases.

Until there is a definite change of policy, I will be part of the ever-increasing boycott of Ford Motor Company.


Letter sent to: Ford Motor Company
Customer Relationship Center
P.O. Box 6248
Dearborn, MI 48126


2) The issue?
Corporate support of Planned Parenthood.

To Whom It May Concern:

Please consider dropping your corporate support of the nation’s largest perpetrator of brutalized violence against preborn boys and girls, Planned Parenthood. The ideals of justice, compassion and a regard for scientific fact are completely inconsistent with the lethal barbarism of abortion.



Sent to several of the companies mentioned in this previous Vital Signs Blog post. Among the addresses of the companies showing up on the Planned Parenthood sponsor list for the first time are the following:

Alphagraphics Corporate World Headquarters
268 South State Street
Suite 300
Salt Lake City, UT 84111

Arizona Lotus Corporation
(Arizona Lotus Corp. is the region's premier provider of radio programming in Tucson. It includes KFMA 92.1&101.3, 96.1 KLPX, 990AM KTKT, and KCMT 102.1 La Caliente.)
P.O. Box 210158B
845 N Park Ave
Marshall Bldg, Rm 220
Tucson, AZ 85721-0158

Marketing, Advertising & Public Relations
326 South Wilmot Road, Suite C-200
Tucson, Arizona 85711


Lowe Corporate Office
11777 San Vicente Boulevard, Suite 900
Los Angeles, California 90049

Scolari's Food & Drug Corporate
255 S. Mc Carran Blvd
Sparks, NV 89431

The Missing Page of the State of the Union Speech

Last week’s State of the Union address was well-rehearsed, clear, and very cogent. Many believed it to be one of the president’s best efforts at oratory. Saturday’s Washington Times carried an article entitled, President's Union Speech Pleases Conservative Base. This article suggests that most conservatives feel as though the president’s tone and demeanor showed strength and resolve. They were comforted by the thought that the president is not going to abdicate his strong leadership role in the nation.

Unfortunately, evangelical Christians, who are one of the most loyal groups of the president’s supporters, feel just the opposite. They feel that President Bush has started to back away issues which he heroically championed just two years ago. Their concern with The State of the Union speech was not about what the president said. Their concern was focused upon what he did not say...

Read the rest of Harry R. Jackson's article right here.

By the way, Rev. Jackson, a well-respected Maryland pastor, is founder and Chairman of the High Impact Leadership Coalition as well as author of The Warriors Heart: Rules of Engagement for the Spiritual War Zone.

America's Next Bobby Kennedy?

Just who are these folks talking about?

George Clooney says of him, "He possesses the one quality that you cannot teach and you can't learn. … He is a leader. He walks into a room and you want to follow him somewhere, anywhere. And … I've only seen that a couple of times in my life."

Oprah Winfrey agrees. “I think his sense of hope and optimism for this country and what is possible for the United States is the kind of thing that I would like to get behind."

Other entertainers on board include Will Smith, Rob Reiner, Laurence Fishburne, Kristen Chenoweth and Matt Damon. But so too are folks like Warren Buffet ("I've got a conviction about him that I don't get very often. He has as much potential as anyone I've seen to have an important impact over his lifetime on the course that America takes. If he can do an ounce better with me, fine.") and Ethel Kennedy, widow of Senator Bobby Kennedy.

The superstar they're so high on?

The strikingly pro-abortion Senator from Illinois, Barack Obama.

Says Mrs. Kennedy, "I think he feels it. He feels it just like Bobby did...He has the passion in his heart. He's not selling you. It's just him." She says she has carefully followed Obama's career and refers to him as "our next president."

These quotations are all taken from the busy new web site, Draft Obama, and until just a few days ago, similar sentiments were posted on the site by the Rev. Rick Warren of California's Saddleback Church. Warren, as I've blogged about before, has climbed out on quite a limb for Obama already, publicly praising him and inviting him to appear in the Saddleback pulpit for an AIDS conference. The Warren remarks posted on Draft Obama described Obama as "an amazing man" whose potential for the presidency includes his "good character."


One would think an evangelical preacher just might consider an aggressive promotion of abortion (even partial-birth infanticide), special rights for homosexuals (including state recognition of homosexual marriage) and other such markedly unbiblical positions as revealing anything but good character...but then Rev. Warren's discernnment hasn't been all that sharp lately.

Warren's people did make sure that the pastor's remarks were removed from the website a few days ago but it seems that the reasons were more about tax-exemption concerns than about furthering still more the presidential aspirations of Senator Obama.

Fooling Kristen Chenoweth and Rob Reiner is no big deal. But you've got to wonder what has gotten into Rick Warren for him to pull such brainless (and faithless) stunts.

There They Go Again: The Democrats Deny the Constitution

This George Will column describes how the Democrats' decision to give Congressional voting power to Guam, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Virgin Islands and Washington, D.C. is but the latest (and one of the most blatant) derision of the Constitution.

George Verwer: Let's Not Give Up the Fight Against Abortion

A recent e-mail from Randy Alcorn alerted me to the fact that George Verwer, the missionary hero who started the organization Operation Mobilisation, has begun to put a high priority on the defense of the sanctity of human life. That's terrific news and we are really grateful to hear it. Below I print the comments Mr. Verwer has put on the front page of his website:

Some estimates put the number of children who have been aborted at 500 million. The numbers are staggering, and in many ways I would rather ignore them. But I know that I cannot. I confess, when my close friend Dr. Francis Schaeffer decided to put so much effort into the pro-life movement towards the end of his life, I thought he had gone a little extreme. I no longer feel this way, and repent of my own inaction. In some countries there are more abortions than births, and the laws in some nations allow abortion until the day before birth. How can this be?

With so much abortion taking place, let us not consider it a lost cause and give up. No, many battles have been won, and every battle is a victory; every saved life a real person. I believe that there are thousands alive today who otherwise would not have been without pro-life action. Are not these saved lives worth the effort? Yes, they are!

So let us be people of vision, action and especially grace - grace for the mothers, for those in the pro-choice camp, and for fellow Christians who disagree. Recommended reading: Why Pro Life? by Randy Alcorn.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Too Busy to Blog?

Speaking engagements yesterday and today (plus preparations for tonight's P.A.L. Night) have, alas, encroached on the time I thought I'd have for today's blogging. Sorry. I'll try and catch up later on tonight.

That is, I'll try and catch up after we engage in the kind of grassroots citizen advocacy the left so disparages; namely, praying to God, turning out a gang of letters in behalf of biblical values being upheld in the public square, and then praying a little bit more!

Friday, January 26, 2007

More Reflections on the March for Life

This time it's Matt Troutman's turn to comment about his trip to Washington, D.C. for the March for Life. Matt (who is shown here with Senator Sam Brownback at the Family Research Council offices) has been a terrific addition to the Vital Signs Ministries team in the last several years and his dedication, intelligence, good humor, courage, and spiritual strength have greatly added to our service for Jesus Christ. Matt has been deeply involved in the sidewalk counseling team, our Mercy Ministries, P.A.L. Nights, Book It! discussions, and much more. Along with his beautiful wife, Laura, the Troutmans have become trusted and valued friends to many. Here's Matt's reflections:

We commemorated (or more accurately commiserated) the 34th anniversary of the terrible Roe v Wade decision by participating in the March for Life in D.C. Our flight schedule allowed us to have two days before the March to see some of the sights around Washington. Seeing these with fellow pro-lifers made it all the more meaningful.

We visited the Holocaust Memorial Museum where we saw some horrible examples of what happened when a powerful, wicked regime decided that entire groups of peoples were sub-human. In addition to the genocide of the Jews, the museum displayed other atrocities of the Nazis. For instance, there were exhibits on the gruesome experiments their scientists performed on Jews. In another display, "Healers Turned Killers" the museum documented the Nazi "Operation T-4", in which handicapped and mentally retarded children were brutalized and murdered. Our visit here was a fitting prelude for the March, reminding us of how depraved is the society where life is so dramtically devalued.

On Monday, the March for Life itself featured some great speakers, including two from Nebraska, Congressmen Lee Terry and Jeff Fortenberry. From the speakers' platform, we then marched several blocks to the Supreme Court. There were throngs of people everywhere. We couldn't get a view of the entire crowd then (nor afterwards since the March isn't covered by the Mainstream Media!) so getting an accurate estimate of the size was impossible.

The March culminated at the Supreme Court. It was hard to appreciate the beauty of that building, remembering that such a terrible decision as Roe v Wade was handed down there. There at the Court, the pro-lifers were confined to the street and sidewalk; we were not allowed onto the steps by the D.C. police. It was easy to feel helpless. Even after all of the Marches that have occurred every year, Roe v Wade is still intact. In fact, American culture seems poised to euthanize the elderly and attack embryonic life through research.

Of course, pro-lifers have felt this helplessness before. Indeed, every Saturday morning, we plead with women not to make a decision for abortion as we stand on the sidewalk in front of a Planned Parenthood abortion mill. In many cases, it doesn't seem to make a difference. But we go on witnessing and praying anyhow because that's what we're asked by God to do. And, on that cold afternoon in Washington, D.C...on another sidewalk thousands of miles away from home... we did the same things, the only things that will bring Roe v Wade to an end: we witnessed and we prayed.

Lighting Up the Darkness...With Letters!

Vital Signs Ministries has a "P.A.L. Night" coming up next Monday evening. This is one of our ongoing letter-writing parties whereby we use a comfortable setting and plenty of encouraging, helpful information in order to be "shiners" not "whiners" as we write letters of advocacy to political representatives, businesses, the press, and others who need to hear from us.

Our action targets usually concern sanctity of life issues but we also write about decency, freedom, marriage, excessive taxes and other matters dealing with justice. And, of course, we write thank-you's to the people who respond to our appeals.

Writing letters works!

In fact, in an era of e-mails, text messaging, pre-formatted responses, and other gizmos of modern technology, a personal letter, one that emphasizes the writer's sincerity, strength of commitment, and sense of courtesy, packs more of a punch than ever before!

As an example...well, actually a couple of examples, take a look at the achievements of two superb grassroots pro-life advocates from Virginia. After reading a puff piece about the Morning After Pill in their newspaper (the Hampton Roads' Daily Press), these folks wrote letters giving crucial information that was left out (or even worse, lied about) in that article. Result? They set the record straight in one of a newspaper's most-read sections, the letters to the editor column.

Check 'em out below...and then check out the Vital Signs Ministries "P.A.L. Night" so that you can be a "shiner" too! For details, e-mail us at

Aaron Thomeer of Yorktown penned this response:

On Jan. 20, Sarah Root wrote a piece called "Improving access to emergency contraception is crucial." In it she states that "Emergency contraception is not an abortion ..." This is only the case because in 1976 the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists changed the definition of contraceptive to mean anything that stopped the implantation of the blastocyst, meaning that for six or seven days after fertilization, terminating the pregnancy, or abortion, would now be considered a form of contraception. There is no reason for this change except for the obvious political advantages it brings.

The point of her piece was that minors should be given easier access to emergency contraception; however, she ignores the right of parents to decide what is best for their children. Minors cannot get their ears pierced without parental consent; why should they be allowed to make, by themselves, such an important decision that will affect multiple lives?

And then Ted and Anne Cors from Williamsburg wrote:

This letter is in response to the Jan. 20 article by Sarah Root, "Improving access to emergency contraception is crucial." We take issue with the article in several areas; however, the theme at the core of the article is particularly egregious and needs to be corrected.

Root states that: "Emergency contraception is not an abortion and cannot affect an existing pregnancy." This is blatantly false. The truth is that in cases where emergency contraception has an effect, 57 percent of the time it prevents implantation in the uterus (thus killing a human being). This is called a chemical abortion.

It is especially fitting that this falsehood be corrected at this time because many thousands of people are participating in "March for Life" events in Washington, D.C., this week, marking the 34th anniversary of the horrendous Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing the killing of innocent, defenseless human beings.

America's Energy Crisis: The Neverending Story

Is there anything more depressing than yet another promise of energy independence in yet another State of the Union address? By my count, 24 of the 34 State of the Union addresses since the oil embargo of 1973 have proposed solutions to our energy problem.

The result? In 1973 we imported 34.8 percent of our oil. Today we import 60.3 percent...

This column by Charles Krauthammer is an excellent answer to the disastrous and increasingly demented energy policy of American politicians. True, the Democrats (in Congress, the MSM, and the judiciary) are largely to blame, having played up radical environmentalism with its pseudo-science, scare tactics, and pantheism. But Republicans have too abjectly caved in on this critical issue, leaving our country's future in grave peril.

I hope President Bush reads this column and thinks about it hard. I also hope it gets a careful reading from those looking to be our next President. (Are you listening, Sam?)

Iran Gets A New Shipment of Missiles from Russia

I should have mentioned this little item in my last "Russia Watch." Here's the story from the China Post.

Visionary Billionaire Launches "Adult" Stem Cell Company

Sir Richard Branson will launch his most controversial business to date as he moves into stem-cell storage and the biotech sector, The Times has learnt.

The Virgin-branded company will be launched next Thursday and is expected to offer parents the chance to put the umbilical blood of their newborn children into cold storage. Scientists believe that future advances in medical technology will use stem cells to cure diseases such as Alzheimer’s and cancer.

The move into stem-cell storage is part of a strategy that Sir Richard is developing to invest in technologies of the future. He has already launched Virgin Galactic, which will take tourists into space, and is investing all the profits of Virgin Atlantic, his airline, in the development of environmentally friendly biofuels...

The rest of this Times (U.K.) article is here.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Majority of Americans Want to Stop Abortions

You wouldn't ever guess this from the CBS News coverage of the issue but a clear majority of Americans would like to restrict (even prohibit) most abortions. And who makes this bold claim - some wild, anti-choice newsletter or maybe a right-wing Neanderthal magazine? about a CBS News poll?

Here's the story via

Belarus Makes the State of the Union Speech...But Not Abortion, Marriage, or ESCR

A friend and brother in Christ who lives in Belarus (a country I have briefly visited on nine different occasions since Alexander Lukashenka assumed dictatorial powers there) sent along this brief note after reading the President's State of the Union address:

"We will continue to speak out for the cause of freedom in places like Cuba, Belarus, and Burma -- and continue to awaken the conscience of the world to save the people of Darfur." (George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States, January 23, 2007, State of the Union Address)

I am not a great fan of George W. (and don't have to be a fan of any American President, right?), but I thank him and all of you who share these thoughts with him for these words!

I too am pleased that Belarus, Cuba and the other beleagured nations attracted President Bush's attention. But where were the issues that we are told so often lie close to the President's heart; namely, the moral issues?

As Robert Novak writes, "Bush's State of the Union was notable for what it did not contain. Having made a calculated decision to save his talk about economic issues for a separate speech next week, Bush mentioned only in passing the need to maintain his tax cuts as the bulwark of the economy. Bush completely ignored the social issues dear to much of his conservative base. He did not mention abortion on the day following the annual "March for Life" on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. He did not mention the embryonic research bill that he vetoed last year and is likely to veto again in the new Congress. He made no mention of same-sex marriage. Although exit polls show corruption was a major issue for voters in the 2006 elections, Bush ignored congressional ethics entirely. The closest he came to this issue was his call to halve the spending created by congressional earmarks -- the first time he had raised that problem."

Russia Watch

From Radio Free Europe (and other sources) comes these items for Vital Signs Blog's ongoing "Russia Watch."

1) Russia's President Vladimir Putin did a bit of chest thumping earlier this week as he boasted to reporters in Italy, "Russia will determine her place in the world by herself, and will strive for a well-balanced and multipolar world." He went on to insist that "since the collapse of the bipolar world and the two confronting systems, an illusion has arisen among some people that the world had became monopolar and that all the world problems could be quite easily resolved from one center. It turned out that this was not the case. Such approaches have led to a growing number of crises, while the means to resolve them have become more limited."

This opens the door to new Russian activity, says the President. "In these conditions, Russia's economic, military, and political abilities are clearly growing. A competitor that was nearly written off is emerging in the world -- even if this movement is not yet so noticeable at first sight. This seems to me the main reason [for distrust and criticism of his regime] -- the unwillingness to consider Russia's legitimate interests, and the wish to put her in a place someone else has chosen for her."

Hmm. I can't help but suggest that Putin's use of "bipolar" to describe the world is, at the very least, ironic. And, at the worst, it elicits questions as to just how "Dr." Putin will seek to relieve the world's symptoms.

2) Whatever the source of Putin's motives to again play the Russian bear, his desired means isn't rating high with the people. "Vedomosti," a Russian newspaper reported on the day of Putin's above remarks that a respected poll indicated that most Russian citizens do not think much of President Putin's assertive foreign policy nor do they think his attempts to play the "energy card" will restore Russia to it's pre-Reagan strength. Catch this -- nearly half of the poll's respondents are well satisfied if only Russia remains among the world's 10 or 15 most advanced economies and politically influential countries. Only 34% want Russia to become a world power. Specifically, Putin's ambitious strategy of making Russia a global leader in the energy sector is the least popular with the poll's respondents -- only 4 % approval.

Levada Center Deputy Director Aleksei Grazhdankin, another prominent pollster, said that "Our opinion polls indicate that over half of Russian citizens would like to be living in a country where the needs of the population are recognized and treated as a priority. Imperial aspirations don't rate very high on their list of priorities."

3) Two days after these events, Russia shouted out its protests over the ongoing development of U.S. strength, especially when the military might of Uncle Sam is being flexed so close to home. Speaking in New Delhi on January 24, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov reiterated recent Russian criticism of U.S. plans to construct a radio-locating station in the Czech Republic and place missile-defense equipment in Poland as part of its new broader missile-defense system. Taking a cue from old-style Soviet obscurantism (no lie was ever TOO big for Russian politicians to mouth), Ivanov argued, "We are told that the creation of such a system or sites for its positioning is necessary for the interception of missiles that North Korea and Iran can launch against the United States and its allies. We reply, knowing the real state of affairs, that neither North Korean nor Iranian missiles can reach a designated target, because [such missiles] do not exist. And then a logical question arises: against whom is this missile-defense system being made?"

Earlier, Colonel General Vladimir Popovkin, who commands the Federal Space Forces, said that the "placing of a radio-locating station in the Czech Republic and antimissile equipment in Poland is a real threat to us" while Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak claims, "We do not understand why the United States wants to deploy an antimissile-defense system. These plans are not inspired by global security interests."

4) Apparantly, much more trustworty on the issue of global security are those warm-hearted Russian leaders whose sales of high-tech weapons and military hardware are soaring. Indeed, the main Russian supplier delivered $5.3 billion worth to foreign clients in the past year alone. Among the sales? Aircraft accounted for 57% of all military hardware sold abroad while naval equipment made up 39%. One of the key buyers was Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. Other experts pointed out that China, India, and several Middle Eastern countries are likely to remain Russia's main arms customers. The daily "Vedomosti" reported on January 23 that "the Russo-Indian military technology cooperation program for 2001-10 is estimated to be valued at $18 billion, of which $11 billion worth of military hardware has already been delivered."

You're On Your Own, Lady

...The feminist revolution was a class revolution and women of the upper class won, if winning means successful careers and lots of money to buy things. But like most things in life, burdens fall hardest on women of the underclass. She's still more likely to have a child out of wedlock and less likely to find a man to provide family and financial support. Her children are less likely to go to college, and without a college degree they're more likely to join the underclass of the next generation. The multigenerational underclass is largely black with overall illegitimacy rates at 70 percent, and closer to 90 percent in the inner cities...

This is just one important point among the several that Suzanne Fields underscores in her latest Town Hall column. Very perceptive. Very worthwhile. Read the entire piece right here.

In for the Long Haul?

In this provocative National Review Online article, Nikolas T. Nikas, president and general counsel of the Bioethics Defense Fund, takes a long view of legalized abortion and the principled struggle which has (and will be) invested against it. It certainly makes the reader question the strength of his or her pro-life commitment; i.e., "Am I willing to be a part of a lifelong fight?"

Reflecting on the March for Life

Quint Coppi is a former flight navigator, a retired Lt. Colonel in the U.S. Air Force whose careers after his military service have included teaching and educational administration. His volunteer activities involve pastoral care, intercession, singing with the choir of his church, grassroots advocacy, and numerous Christian pro-life activities. He is a Governing Board member of Vital Signs Ministries. Quint's 49+ year marriage to Carol has been a very blessed one with their ministry together being of immense value to their children, grandchildren, students, fellow church members, professional associates...and their many, many friends.

Quint flew into Washington, D.C. last Saturday morning in order to be on hand for the annual March for Life. Here is his brief commentary on the events of that weekend.

Reflections on the March for Life marking the 34th Anniversary of Roe V. Wade

Most anniversaries we observe are times when we celebrate family events such as birthdays or weddings. Some are national events like Independence Day, V-E Day or Thanksgiving. Other anniversaries are religious in nature like Christmas, Epiphany, Passover and Easter. However, there are other anniversaries that are certainly NOT a time for celebration -- these commemorations grieve the heart because the events we remember cause us to soberly reflect on terrible tragedies. Of this kind of anniversary are Pearl Harbor Day, the terrorist attacks of 9/11, and the Oklahoma City bombing. For we Americans who recognize the sanctity of all human life, January 22nd, the day when the United States Supreme Court legalized abortion-on-demand, is the saddest anniversary of all. And the annual March for Life held in Washington, D.C. is the most visible expression of our deep sorrow over the carnage of almost 50 million unborn children that have been destroyed by the abortionists in these last 34 years.

It had been 5 or 6 years since I had attended this annual March, so when the opportunity presented itself to go with dear friends, Denny, Claire, Dick and Matt, I knew it was the time to attend the March again. Also, on these trips, we take advantage of the chance to see the major sights of our nation's capitol as well as enjoying fellowship and prayer with one another.

It was no coincidence that we chose to visit the National Holocaust Museum first. This museum describes in graphic detail, with displays, text, photos and multimedia presentations, the horror of the assault on life by the Nazis under Adolph Hitler. Though many groups of people were attacked and killed by the Nazis, their primary focus was against the Jews as they specifically targeted the entire race for extermination.

The sheer horrors of this attempt at genocide are overwhelming -- over 6 million Jews slaughtered by the most barbaric means. And yet...what our society has ventured into beginning with Roe v Wade is no less savage and selfish. And our crimes against humanity rage decade after decade to this very day. The only difference is that the targeted group now is innocent, defenseless children in the womb. It is so ironic that, following the end of World War II, we held the Nuremberg Trials and condemned the Nazis for their murder, but less than thirty years later, we in the United States embarked on a campaign of murder that has far surpassed the Nazis in numbers killed and is every bit as gruesome and cruel and evil. How quickly we began to do what we once condemned!

Thus, as we walked the streets of Washington on the day of the March for Life, we felt keenly the sadness over both the Nazi crimes and our own. However, we also took courage by the words of the speakers and the resolve of the pro-life people in this huge crowd (many, many who were young and enthusiastic) and we were energized to continue in the battle for life, justice and compassion. Seeing the thousands of people who came to be a part of the march makes us see that we are not alone, but are involved with thousands who pray, fight the battle in front of abortion clinics, volunteer at CPC's, write letters, and get politically involved.

Hearing the many speakers who spoke to us with encouraging words, we remembered that the fight for sanctity of life is still a winnable war. And beyond even that, we are reminded by Holy Scripture that "nothing is impossible with God."

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Blogs4Life and March for Life Pics

Yes, a picture is supposed to be worth a thousand words but then again, the old proverb (originally taken from a streetcar ad whose Chinese lettering actually meant "A picture's message can express ten thousand words") didn't take into account my lack of prowess with a camera...even the new faultless digital versions.

Nevertheless, because of the importance of the subjects involved here and the activities they were engaged in, I'll post these pics anyway. Fortunately, Matt took some too and I'll upload his later on to show you what things should look like!

The first photos show a few of the morning sessions of the Blogs4Life conference held at the Family Research Council headquarters.

At upper left is the FRC's dedicated and principled president, Tony Perkins. Tony admitted he didn't know very much about blogs until very recently but he encouraged the participants to use this technology (and everything else at our disposal) to tell our personal stories of how glorious and gracious is life. And he gave us a couple of neat examples to illustrate his point.

Jill Stanek gave a sparkling presentation that was part blog primer, part exhortation, and part mechanic. Very useful information and given with humor, human interest and passion. Bookmark her site for sure.

Senator Sam Brownback proved as personable and well-spoken as we figured he would be -- plus, his remarks about abortion, embryonic stem cell research, traditional marriage, faith, education, abstinence, pride in family, economic conservatism, history, and his recent decision to seek the Republican nomination for President were all of very sound stuff. As I've been suggesting for awhile now, I think Sam's the man.

Filmmakers Jonathan and Deborah Flora had some very insightful comments about the MSM, surviving (and, more important, overcoming) the Hollywood atmosphere and ethos, the aching need for creative, patient involvement of pro-lifers in the arts, and more.

And then, following the morning at the FRC office, we headed over to the March for Life. At the left, you'll see Dick and Matt, bundled up and ready. Of course, as veteran members of the Vital Signs sidewalk counseling team, they know well the maxim taught by our pal, Ruth; namely, "There is no bad weather, only bad clothing."

Claire, almost hidden in this shot, stands with our oldest pro-life banner. It was made for us some 15 years ago or so by our good friend and Vital Signs LifeSharer, Rita, who now lives with her husband in Florida. It is a great banner and, like our others, drew a lot of attention from our fellow Marchers.

Claire struggles to hold my banner and her own while I ran ahead to try and get an in-process March for Life photo. Beside her is Quint. When speaking of veterans in pro-life activity of all kinds, these two are at the top of the list.

And, finally, here's a shot of the 5 tired, sore-footed but exhilarated Omaha pro-life activists at the end of the March near the steps of the Supreme Court where, in January 1985, I was once arrested and held two days (with two dozen other peaceful Christians) simply for praying. During part of the March, we had also enjoyed the presence of Lincolnites, Julie and her daughter, Annie. And, of course, we had splendid conversations along the way with people from Virginia, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, Idaho, New York, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and several other states...and, oh yes, the country of Brazil too!

Pro-lifers & the Proverbs: The January LifeSharer Letter

Normally, I merely post here on the blog a link to the LifeSharer letter which is published in full over on the official Vital Signs Ministries web site. (The LifeSharer is the monthly newsletter/commentary of Vital Signs Ministries, sent free of charge to supporters and other friends of our work.) However, as I mentioned in a previous post, a few days ago we suffered a "hostile takeover" of our web pages by a Turkish hacker with an apparent grudge against Christian pro-lifers. Therefore, until we get things back in order over there, we will publish a few things here at the blog site that would otherwise go there. Okay?

January 2007
Dear VSM LifeSharers,

We had barely finished our last group prayer of the morning and were gathering our things to leave the abortion clinic where we had been sidewalk counseling when the young man pulled up to the intersection and roughly yelled at us.
“Don’t you people have anything better to do?”
I smiled and started towards his car. “You gotta’ be kidding me, right? I mean, what can you come up with that’s better than saving a baby’s life? Firemen, doctors and nurses, lifeguards – are you tellin’ me that they’re wasting their time too?” I kept walking towards the vehicle.
The fellow gestured over to the Planned Parenthood clinic. “But this is America. We have something called free choice, you know.”
“Of course; I’m not saying you don’t. All I’m doing is telling people the facts about abortion – the facts that they’re not going to be told in this place. You’re pro-truth, aren’t you?” I was next to his car now and kneeling down so I could speak to him face to face. “You’re not against newspapers or TV commercials, are you? Just giving information – you aren’t bothered by that. I’m doing the same thing – except the information I’m offering is free and related to the highest stakes possible.” I then moved my head towards the building. “At any rate, I’m not taking away anybody’s freedom. See that iron rail fence surrounding the place? You know, I haven’t scaled that thing and tackled a girl all morning long.”
That finally drew a little laugh from him but he then asked, more calmly and seriously than I was expecting, “But…don’t they already have their minds made up?”
“You know, you’d think that, wouldn’t you? But I’ve been doing this for years now and there have been hundreds decide not to have the abortion – even though they get to this stage of the proceedings. That’s something else, huh?”
By now a couple of cars had pulled up behind him and so I motioned him on. “Hey, you’re starting to hold up traffic now so you’d better book. But thanks for stopping, man. Take care.”
The young man smiled and acted, for a brief moment, like he was going to try another tack. Then, putting his car in gear and quietly (almost graciously) saying, “Well, okay; you people try and stay warm,” he drove off.
I turned back to my colleagues. There were a couple of grins and an arched eyebrow or two. Somebody said, “Well, that had a different ending than what I would have guessed.” Someone else suggested, “That Denny sure is a personable cuss, isn’t he? Makes friends in the most unlikely places.” And then there was Mark, nodding his head in approval as he said quietly, “Yes, a soft answer turns away wrath.”

Ah, the Proverbs! How valuable is the wise counsel they give us. Now, the Proverbs aren’t always guarantees. A soft answer, for instance, doesn’t always turn away wrath (how we pro-life activists know that!) but the Proverbs do show us how life should be. And even when deliberate sin breaks the consistency of those rules for life which the Proverbs are, they always point us to the ideal standards. And I can assuredly testify from years of experience, even amid the intense pressures of being at abortion clinics, protests, sit-ins, debates, answering questions (and charges) at speaking engagements and so on… that a soft answer, as Proverbs 15:1 instructs us, is usually a very reliable (and always a very godly) tool for turning aside wrath.

The morning’s incident got me to thinking about some of the other Proverbs that have proven of particular value in our ministries as pro-life Christians. And, in this month’s letter, before I get to a couple of news items, I thought I’d share just a few.

There are, of course, many, many of the Proverbs that you can see having a direct application to our work. Among the best known is this passage, an obvious and foundational motivation for nearly all we do.
Deliver those who are being taken away to death,
And those who are staggering to slaughter, Oh hold them back.
If you say, "See, we did not know this,"
Does He not consider it who weighs the hearts?
And does He not know it who keeps your soul?
And will He not render to man according to his work? (Proverbs 24:11-12)

Those words of life and spiritual liberty we share, however, are frequently misinterpreted by those running from God. As a result, we are often rejected rather than welcomed, ridiculed rather than praised, hated and persecuted rather than having our message embraced. But that doesn’t affect our obligation to keep on telling the truth, even those truths that the world most hates nowadays – truths about abortion, sexual perversion, cowardice, commercialism, etc. Note how wisdom perseveres (and even wins some listeners) in this passage:
Because they hated knowledge
And did not choose the fear of the Lord.
They would not accept my counsel,
They spurned all my reproof.
So they shall eat of the fruit of their own way
And be satiated with their own devices.
For the waywardness of the naive will kill them,
And the complacency of fools will destroy them.
But he who listens to me shall live securely
And will be at ease from the dread of evil. (Proverbs 1:29-33)

The same kind of situation is spoken of here:
He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself,
And he who reproves a wicked man gets insults for himself.
Do not reprove a scoffer, or he will hate you,
Reprove a wise man and he will love you.
Give instruction to a wise man and he will be still wiser,
Teach a righteous man and he will increase his learning. (Proverbs 9:7-9)

The previous passage is not intended to dissuade the Christian from reproving he who would commit grievous, dangerous sin. It simply lets you know what to expect so you will be prepared. And it also provides a hint of the worthwhile nature of the effort, for we have no way of knowing just which foolish, scoffing person will one day listen and be turned. After all, back in 1970 Chuck Cooke had the faith to take a chance on a young Colorado thug, confronting him with the Word of God. Had Chuck tried on his own to discern whether or not I was a confirmed scoffer, yours truly would still be dead in his sins. And, most probably, dead period!

Chapter 10 of Proverbs is an absolute storehouse of relevant truth for pro-lifers, especially for those who take Christ’s banner to the abortion mills where they will unavoidably deal with the taunts made by passersby, the threats made by certain clients, and the mocking done by workers and escorts. The entire chapter (which you’ll have to go read yourself – not enough space here) gives fantastic contrasts between the wise and the wicked with many key warnings of what the wise must avoid at all costs. Proverbs 10 should be high on the required reading list for pro-life activists, supplemented also by several others which carry a similar warning… like these:
When a wise man has a controversy with a foolish man,
The foolish man either rages or laughs, and there is no rest.

A fool always loses his temper,
But a wise man holds it back.

An angry man stirs up strife,
And a hot-tempered man abounds in transgression.(Proverbs 29: 9, 11, and 22)

Now, this next Proverb may not seem particularly serious to some of you but, trust me, there has been a lot more than one dark, winter morning when it has been of immense convicting value to me, urging me to get up and go stand for the babies instead of pulling the covers over my head:
How long will you lie down, O sluggard?
When will you arise from your sleep?
A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to rest – (Proverbs 6: 9-10)

I love how the Lord uses humor to make His point here; that is, the rhetorical pause that follows verse 10, replicating the so-common experience of someone nodding off to sleep (even when it wasn’t planned) only to be startlingly awakened much later. Very good.

I could go on for quite awhile citing some of my favorite, most useful Proverbs. Among them would be the description of the “excellent wife” which, quite honestly, is a good portrait of Claire (31:10-31); the promise of God’s vengeance on such people as unrepentant abortiontists (11:31); the vivid picture of how powerful and beautiful encouragement is to the troubled (12:25); and a “summary version” of the Shema (3:3-5).

One more before I close. “Indeed, it is useless to spread the baited net in the sight of any bird” (Proverbs 1:17). The word picture here, taken from hunting techniques, is a striking one. It emphasizes how keen are a bird’s eyes and how wary its instincts. Indeed, the hunter who sets a ground trap where the bird can see what’s happening is a hunter who most likely will be opening a can of tuna fish for his supper! Thus, effective hunters use blinds, decoys, artificial calls, bait, the right timing, and who knows what else to lure the birds to them. The hunter cannot go get the birds in their element so he has to fool them into coming down into his – an element made to appear safe and natural but is actually anything but.

Is Proverbs 1:17 dropped into the Scriptures then simply as a tip for bird hunters? Of course not. The application is clear from the context that it is a warning for all of us to stay alert, always watchful. I must remember this myself; I am not immune from certain dangers of the enemy. But, as a believer whose soul is protected by the Almighty Hand of God and even whose temporal being can be protected by putting on the whole armor of God, I have a duty made clear by the Proverbs to warn, challenge, and otherwise inform others of the dangers posed to them by the evil one.

Therefore, when I am holding my big baby sign or a banner (“Mom, We Care About You and Your Baby”) outside an abortuary, I am (using the metaphor) trying to keep the innocent safe and free from the clutches of the abortionist hiding behind his camouflage. Through our presence, our words and our prayers, the sidewalk counselors (and, by extension, the whole Vital Signs Ministries team) are trying to make the prey aware of the enemy that draws them in. We raise the alarm. We offer sanctuary. We are not, as Proverbs points out over and again, always going to be successful. We will even be hated by both hunters and the hunted. But, because of our faithfulness, some will live.

Of course, no matter what happens, God is really pleased at our efforts to properly, persistently observe His Proverbs. And that is the paramount motivation. So, whether it involves our sidewalk counseling, blogs, speaking, articles, letters, events, literature, or intercession, we will keep on being His agents of truth, freedom and grace.

Okay, I promised you a few news items before I sign off so let’s do it. First, Claire and I will really be blessed this year to enjoy the participation of Matt Troutman, Dick Loneman and Quint Coppi on the Vital Signs field trip to Washington for the national March for Life on January 22nd. (Claire, Dick and I already attended the Walk for Life down in Lincoln – very cold and snowy but quite invigorating!) While in D.C., we will be doing a few other tasks too, including our traditional prayer tour the evening before the March. And this year there’s a new activity – a pro-life bloggers’ conference over at the Family Research Council office the morning of the March.

Also up in the coming weeks are the year’s first P.A.L. Night (Monday, January 29th); the year’s first Book It! Discussion (Monday, February 19th discussing Surviving Hitler: Choices, Corruption and Compromise in the Third Reich); and the first speaking engagements (West Omaha Kiwanis and Country Bible Church in Blair). Give us a call if you’re interested in these or any of the regular Vital Signs activities. And please keep checking the Vital Signs Blog. Our visitor numbers are increasing all the time – and there must some good reasons why!

Until next month, please know Claire and I remain so very grateful for your generous, encouraging partnership with us in this ever-critical, ever-difficult work. As it is put in Proverbs 17:17, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” We love you all.

More on Lee Terry's Good Vote Against A Bad Bill

Waiting for me in the e-mail pile when I returned from the March for Life was a nice note from Kristin in Lee Terry's office. which read, in part, "Congressman Terry appreciated receiving your thoughts on H.R. 4. We truly appreciate your posting the information on your web site. I thought you might also be interested in the attached materials, which contain great information for seniors on the Democrat bill. Thanks again for expressing your support for Congressman Terry’s recent vote against H.R. 4."

Well, thank you, Kristin. And please pass on our most enthusiastic thanks to Congressman Terry for his appearance and moving remarks on the March for Life stage last Monday. It was a special treat to see he and fellow Nebraska Congressman Jeff Fortenberry participate in this very important event.

Returning to H.R. 4, however -- among the items Kristin sent along was this editorial in the Washington Post about H.R. 4, the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act of 2007:

The Wrong Prescription:
Government should not negotiate drug prices in Medicare.

House Democrats delivered on a campaign promise yesterday, passing a bill that would require the government to negotiate the price of pharmaceuticals covered by the new Medicare drug benefit. The idea is that government negotiators could force prices down, generating savings that could be used to make the benefit more generous. But the measure is misguided.

The Democrats point to the Department of Veterans Affairs, which manages to negotiate discounts for the drugs covered in the veterans' health program. But the department can do this because it is free to deny coverage for drugs whose makers refuse to provide discounts: Fully 3,000 of the 4,300 medicines covered by Medicare are unavailable under the veterans' program. Restricting the list of covered drugs saves money, but it also reduces the quality of the benefit -- 1.5 million veterans are sufficiently unhappy with the result that they opt to buy the more inclusive Medicare coverage. Recognizing that narrow formularies are unpopular, the Democratic plan does not permit Medicare to establish one. But if drugmakers know that Medicare must buy their pills, why would they grant a discount? The Congressional Budget Office estimated this week that savings from direct negotiation would be "negligible."

Not only are the Democrats too optimistic about government negotiation; they are also too pessimistic about the current system in which private insurers administering Medicare drug benefits do the price bargaining. These private insurers stand to profit if they can secure discounts and cut premiums and thus attract more customers: Witness the fact that the average monthly premium has fallen since the program began a year ago. Private insurers can do this precisely because they are free to establish formularies, but market discipline ensures that these lists are not unappealingly narrow. The insurers need to keep customers.

The Democrats' stance is troubling because it suggests an excessively government-led view of health-care reform. One of the key challenges in health policy is to understand which drugs, tests and therapies are most cost-effective; although it will take government pressure on doctors and hospitals to disclose the information necessary to figure out what works, solutions are most likely to be found by competing private entities. In drugs, for example, there needs to be a culture of paying handsomely for new ones that really do add value -- and refusing to pay for pseudo-new drugs that merely mimic cheap generics. Striking the right balance is not easy, and it won't be accomplished by government fiat. The better approach is to let each insurer offer its own version of the right balance, see whether it attracts customers -- and then adapt flexibly.

The ACLU Would Like to Thank You for Your Generous Contribution

Huh? You say you didn't send a donation to the ACLU; in fact, that you would never do anything to support the ACLU because their radical agenda so embarasses and endangers America?

Think again, Mortimer.

And then read this eye-opening report from the American Civil Rights Union about how U.S. law has been brazenly bent to provide huge amounts of taxpayer funds as payment for the anti-American antics of the ACLU.

Is Brownback the One?

We were pleased to meet Senator Sam Brownback at a Family Research Council event in Washington, D.C. last Monday. His remarks to the group (as were his remarks later to the thousands at the March for Life crowd) showed the Senator to be relevant, knowledgeable, personable and direct. He spoke of his passion to fight for such key moral issues as the right to life and marriage, his opposition to using tiny humans as mere stuff for research, his enthusiasm for the work of pro-life pregnancy centers, his vision for a rejuvenated Republican Party, his adopted daughter winning a recent spelling bee, and more.

Interestingly enough, what he did not talk about (until I asked him directly) was his running for the G.O.P. nomination for President which he had publicly declared just a couple of days earlier.

And, for more on that matter, I supply this link to the very useful Brownback for President site.

This is, without a doubt, the Republican Party's best candidate to emerge thus far -- an infinitely better choice than the likes of McCain, Romney or Giuliani. Simply read through Brownback's stand on the issues of life, marriage, reforming the U.N., the culture, religious liberty, taxes, and the New Homestead Act -- and I believe you'll agree.

So, c'mon; let's give Sam a hand.