Friday, September 28, 2007

Today's Posts

Federal Bureau of Prisons Changes Its Mind on Library Purging: Prison Fellowship Relieved

Is "Wild Capitalism" the Cause of Russia's Assassinations?

"Gambling Addict" Bureaucrat Sentenced to 10 Years

Hillary, Will You Serve as Honorary Chairman of the Boy Scouts If Elected President?

Move Over, Santa; Russia Continues to Insist the North Pole is Hers

Resources for the Persecuted Church

Father Doesn't Know Best: Britain's Nanny State Creates New Rules for Keeping Parents Out of the Loop

Federal Bureau of Prisons Changes Its Mind on Library Purging: Prison Fellowship Relieved

The announcement that the Federal Bureau of Prisons was reversing its decision to purge prison libraries of religious materials was welcomed by Prison Fellowship.

"We applaud the Bureau of Prisons for listening to the concerns of a diversity of faith communities and returning those resources removed from chapel library shelves," said Prison Fellowship President and former Virginia Attorney General Mark Earley [shown at left]. "We appreciate the Bureau’s commitment to keeping the small number of materials that incite violence out of prison chapel libraries. By returning to the common-sense approach of getting rid of only those materials that incite violence, they ensure that prisoners have access to a wide range of quality religious works that will help them become productive members of society when they are released back to our communities."

Prison Fellowship has recently worked closely with the Department of Justice, the Bureau of Prisons and other faith-based communities to address these issues.

"It took years for chaplains, local churches and other religious organizations to build up the holdings of many prison chapel libraries," Earley added. "It’s great to see that these works will now be restored for prisoners’ daily use."

Here's the full press release from Prison Fellowship.

Is "Wild Capitalism" the Cause of Russia's Assassinations?

A top Russian investigator was shot dead on Thursday as he walked out of a restaurant in central Moscow in an apparent contract killing, the Kommersant daily reported. Nazim Kaziakhmedov was shot twice in the chest and once in the head by an attacker dressed in black and wearing a baseball cap, Kommersant said on Friday, citing officials.

Kaziakhmedov was working on a major fraud case involving investment group Finvest and was a member of the newly-formed investigative committee of the Russian prosecutor's office, Kommersant said.

Shoot-outs and contract killings are less frequent in Moscow than they were during the so-called "wild capitalism" years of the 1990s...

Don't you love how this AFP reporter manages to twist this shocking and very important story into a denunciation of "wild capitalism," even suggesting it was the the source of the street violence of the 90's...and perhaps now too?

Not the Russian mafia. Not the corruption and incompetence of the regime and its police. Not the absence of morality caused by generations of Communism. But "wild capitalism." Sigh.

Thus does the reporter irresponsibly distract the reader's attention from the central issue; namely, the multi-layered malfeasance, dishonesty, profiteering, and violence that marks modern Russia.

"Gambling Addict" Bureaucrat Sentenced to 10 Years

The judge may have been sympathetic after several self-confessed gambling addicts took the stand to plead for mercy in the case of Donna Duffer, the controller of the Palm Beach County Convention & Visitors Bureau, whose own gambling passion ended up in her writing 220 forged checks totaling $1.6 million. But that didn't stop the judge from sentencing Duffer to 10 years in prison.

And right the judge was to do so.

The excuses for criminal behavior continue to multiply and, as tragic and heartrending as some cases can be, both the cause of justice and the protection of the innocent requires that the penalties attached to our laws be properly enacted.

Here is a quick video clip about the sentencing.

Hillary, Will You Serve as Honorary Chairman of the Boy Scouts If Elected President?

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, desperately trying to make headway against Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in the race for the Democrat nomination for President, promised the audience of Wednesday night's debate that if elected, he would decline the position of Honorary Chairman of the Boy Scouts of America because of the organization’s barring of homosexuals.

Hmm. This question really sets up nice for Republicans and I certainly hope they press it. Let's encourage them to do so. After all, Democrats asked this question must either risk angering the strident LGBT lobby they've catered to or else the millions of Americans who rightly admire and respect the Boy Scouts.

So...Hillary; Barack, John, Al: Will you serve as the Honorary Chairman of the Boy Scouts of America if elected President?

Move Over, Santa; Russia Continues to Insist the North Pole is Hers

In what has to be creating a headache for Santa Claus, Russia's new saber rattling attitude includes ongoing claims on the vast mineral wealth of the North Pole. The latest example, reported by Radio Free Europe, is Artur Chilingarov's bold announcement that Russia will bore into the seabed below the North Pole in 2008. Chilingarov is the polar explorer, deputy speaker of the State Duma and titled Hero of the Soviet Union, who led the Arctic expeditions earlier this year.

The 2008 operation will, Chilingarov insists, verify the results of recent tests of small soil samples brought back by minisubmarines in August. Last week the Ministry of Natural Resources issued a statement that the samples provided scientific proof that the area is Russian. Just how the samples proved that claim, the Ministry didn't reveal. Perhaps a bit of the Soviet-era's pseudoscience is returning along with its bullying bravado.

At any rate, Russia will file the necessary papers with the United Nations to have the Lomonosov and Mendeleyev ridges in the Arctic verified as being extensions of the Russian continental shelf and hence Russian territory. This despite a UN commission already having rejected previous Russian claims to the area as lacking proof. Canada, Denmark, Norway, and the United States also have claims there.

And then, of course, there's the rights of the original resident to be considered.

Resources for the Persecuted Church

For many people around the world, religious freedom is an alien concept. No “First Amendment” protects them. No tradition of religious liberty permits them to worship according to their own consciences. If they go to a church that isn’t the “accepted” church, they risk ostracism, assault, torture, jail … even death.

The fact is, Christians are persecuted around the world on a daily basis -- it’s just that their stories are largely unknown.

But we must know their stories so that we can pray for them and support efforts to help...

Rebecca Hagelin's column looks at some of the efforts being made to expose the persecution of Christians around the world and to intercede for the victims. An excellent exhortation and good information.

Father Doesn't Know Best: Britain's Nanny State Creates New Rules for Keeping Parents Out of the Loop

In a world where I find little that actually shocks me anymore, the following news almost did.

According to new "guidelines" (a favorite word of government bureaucrats that actually means "laws"), U.K. parents are to be removed from the loop when it comes to sex advice, treatment, distribution of contraception, and even abortion given to their children. You see, in the welfare states of the modern West, anyone other than parents knows what's best for kids. And for the naive ninnies of Britain's General Medical Council, that means even the kids themselves.

The story is covered in several of the British papers but here is the basic news from The Press Association:

Children should have confidential access to contraception and abortion and more involvement in their NHS treatment, new guidelines claim. Doctors can provide sexual health advice and treatment to under-16s provided they understand the implications, the guide from the General Medical Council (GMC) said.

While doctors should try and persuade children to tell their parents, they should still be treated if it is in their best interests or if they are very likely to have sex anyway.
"A confidential sexual health service is essential for the welfare of children and young people", the guide said...

Note the particularly pregnant phrase (pun intended), "provided they understand the implications." Does anyone actually believe that children under 16 understand the implications of, say, the emotional effects of sex, the physical risks, the trauma of disease, the tragedy of abortion, the spiritual costs of promiscuity, and a whole lot more? Of course not. Otherwise we would trust their judgment about smoking, drinking, schoolwork, sex with older persons, operating motorized vehicles, and self-discipline on a variety of other fronts.

No, the GMC's new "guidelines" certainly aren't about the well-being of children. They are instead about the breakdown of parental authority, the aggrandizement of government power, and the expansion of sexual license.

Aegrescit medendo.
(The disease worsens with the treatment.)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Alveda King Canceled by Des Moines Principal -- Talk Was Too "Moral"

Alveda King, the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, was scheduled to speak to the students of Roosevelt High School in Des Moines. But that was before Kathie Danielson took over as principal. Alveda King is now out.

Why? Danielson says that there were some complaints about Ms. King's pro-life views. Danielson told the Des Moines Register that she examined King's presentation beforehand and "quite a bit of it does talk about civil rights, but there is a connection to morals."

Hmm. Danielson wants no morals in her school...not even anything "connected" to morals?


One would suppose that the principal wants the students of Roosevelt High School to be honest, punctual, respectful, diligent, and so on. She probably wants the same from her teachers, aides, and custodians. Yet, the irrationality of modern culture (at least as typified by government school officials) allows Danielson to make this absolutely moronic statement without seeming to be a bit embarrassed.

This is another in a wide pattern of selective political correctness gone amok -- courtesy of your tax dollars.

If you would like to register your opinion of Ms. Danielson's action (She is, after all, a government worker who is on record as paying attention to citizen input.), you can do so by using either of these contacts:
Roosevelt High School
Address: 4419 Center Street, 50312-2299

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Today's Posts

The Daily Angst

Did Anglican Leaders "Blink" on Promotion of Homosexuality?

This Just In: Art DOES Need Justification

The "Inglorious End" of Hurricane Dan Rather

Lynne Stewart, Disbarred for Assistance to Terrorists, Is Invited to Speak at Hofstra Law School

Atlantic City Abortion Mill Closes Because It Won't Meet Health Standards: Are You Listening Judge Smith?

Pro-Life Lawyers Call the Church to Action Against Abortion in England

The Daily Angst

Did Anglican Leaders "Blink" on Promotion of Homosexuality?

The general media is reporting that Anglican leaders have "blinked" in their standoff with conservatives in the controversies over homosexual clergy, same-sex unions, and so on. For instance, even the Washington Times writing their story from "combined dispatches" writes:

Episcopal leaders agreed yesterday to "exercise restraint" in approving another homosexual bishop and will not approve prayers to bless same-sex couples. It will not be known for weeks or even months whether the bishops, who were pressured to roll back their support for homosexuals, went far enough to help prevent a schism in the Anglican Communion.

Episcopal leaders said they made the decision "with the hope of mending the tear in the fabric" of the communion.
"We all hope that our sacrificial actions and our united actions at this meeting once again demonstrate to the wider communion that we treasure our membership and we treasure the other members of the Anglican community," Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori said...

However, David Virtue, writer, lecturer, and the force behind Virtue Online, the most popular conservative Anglican news service around, says different.

The verdict is in. The official, and mercifully final statement from the Episcopal Church's House of Bishops is that there will be no retreat, no surrender and certainly an advance of the denomination's pansexual agenda, albeit more slowly, out of deference to Global South leaders who have yet to catch up with the 21st Century post-Christian world of TEC...

What the final statement produced was a carefully nuanced change of tone, but no change in substance or direction of the Episcopal Church's position on same-sex blessings or future homosexual bishops. Only the 2009 General Convention can do that and that is about as likely to happen as hell freezing over...

Read the reasons why Virtue draws these conclusions right here.

This Just In: Art DOES Need Justification

Behold Two public displays: One is an immature stunt, the other a work of art. Can you tell which is which?

Display No. 1: In an empty room in Boston's South End, track lights go on and off at five-second intervals. The lights illuminate nothing except the bare walls and floor. This is "Work 227: The Lights Going On and Off," the brainstorm of a Scotsman named Martin Creed, who has explained it this way: "It's like, if I can't decide whether to have the lights on or off then I have them both on and off and I feel better about it."

Display No. 2: An MIT student walks into Logan International Airport wearing a sweatshirt adorned with a plastic circuit board, on which a handful of glowing green lights are harmlessly wired to a 9-volt battery. On the back of the sweatshirt are scrawled "Socket To Me" and "COURSE VI." The student is electrical engineering major Star Anna Simpson, and the outfit, she explains, is an art project meant to attract attention at an MIT career fair.

OK, so perhaps you already know that Creed's flashing lights won the $30,000 Turner Prize, a prestigious art award presented annually by London's Tate gallery, in 2001. And maybe you're aware that Simpson, the 19-year-old MIT sophomore, was arrested at gunpoint at the airport and charged with disorderly conduct and possession of a "hoax device." Creed's bright idea can be seen through Oct. 28 at the Boston Center for the Arts; Simpson's could lead to a five-year prison sentence. But I'd still like to know: What makes his an award-winning work of art and hers a juvenile prank?

If turning lights on and off qualifies as fine art, then anything does. I can wad up a sheet of paper and call it art. Oh, shoot - Creed beat me to it. In 1995 he devised "Work No. 88: A Sheet of A4 Paper Crumpled into a Ball." (Which should not be confused with his 2004 inspiration, "Work No. 384: A Sheet of Paper Folded Up and Unfolded.")

Creed's ingenuity doesn't end with lights and sheets of paper. Here is Roberta Smith of The New York Times, extolling a survey of Creed's work at Bard College: "Mr. Creed's penchant for provocation is even clearer in two short videos. In each, a person walks in front of a camera trained on an empty, pristine white-on-white space and either vomits or defecates before walking away." Don't be disgusted: Smith reassuringly notes that "the performers manage to maintain both their dignity and their privacy."...

Reading Hans Rookmaaker's enlightening book, "Modern Art and the Death of a Culture," shortly after its publication (1970) helped prepare me for such art frauds as those perpetrated by Martin Creed. But still...the field gets crowded with more silliness, more sickness, and more self-degrading sycophancy every day. God help us.

Here's the rest of Jeff Jacoby's expose' from the Boston Globe.

The "Inglorious End" of Hurricane Dan Rather

When the news broke that Dan Rather was suing CBS News for $70 million for somehow destroying his reputation, the most noticeable reaction came from the media establishment itself. From the first story in The New York Times, it carried a different tone between the lines of the breaking news. Rather's former colleagues think he's lost his marbles.

The Times story by Jacques Steinberg said Rather's career came to an "inglorious end" and now he's taking "vehement issue" with CBS's soft-scrub internal investigation. Rather claimed "to be reduced to little more than a patsy" in the story and now works for an "obscure cable channel." The implication between the lines? Gunga Dan's picked one battle too many.

Almost no one outside the vast expanse of Dan Rather's ego thinks this lawsuit is a good idea either for CBS or for Rather. Even people who were fired for helping him produce the despicable phony-document stunt against President Bush in 2004 said he had gone off the "deep end" by portraying himself as a clueless narrator who was too busy covering Bill Clinton's heart problems to obsess over George Bush's National Guard records. Contrary to Rather's insistence that he was a patsy, his co-workers said he pressed hard on the story, chewing over every line.

The legal brief itself was Rather's ego on parade, right from the first lines introducing the plaintiff as "Dan Rather, one of the foremost broadcast journalists of our time." He was the earnest Uncle Sam of journalistic integrity: "Throughout his career, Mr. Rather has promoted, championed, and been emblematic of journalistic independence and journalistic freedom from extraneous interference." Vanity, thy name is Rather.

Rather added to that hootenanny of chutzpah by appearing on CNN's "Larry King Live" to declare, "We have to somehow get back to integrity in the news." Next we'll hear Bill Clinton on that network promoting abstinence...

Here's the rest of Brent Bozell's column, one that brings a few chuckles among the sighs.

Lynne Stewart, Disbarred for Assistance to Terrorists, Is Invited to Speak at Hofstra Law School

With the Columbia visit of Iran's dictatorial jihadist making Americans think about academic propriety, James Taranto included in yesterday's "Best of the Web" column this revealing item about how Hofstra Law School views the issue:

The Long Island, N.Y.-based Hofstra Law School "is pleased to announce its upcoming 2007 Legal Ethics Conference, Lawyering at the Edge: Unpopular Clients, Difficult Cases, Zealous Advocates," according to a press release. Among the participants is one Lynne Stewart, "who has defended many unpopular clients over the years." The list of participants describes Stewart only as a "high profile radical and human rights attorney."

In fact, Stewart was disbarred after being convicted of providing material aid to terrorists. As a Wall Street Journal editorial noted:
"[Her crime consisted in] illegally passing messages between her imprisoned client, Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, and his followers in Egypt's Al-Gama'a al-Islamiyya, the terrorist group responsible for killing 62 mostly European and Japanese tourists in Luxor in 1997. Some of those tourists were beheaded; others were disemboweled. The Sheik was also involved in planning terror attacks in New York, for which he is serving a life sentence."

Stewart's own Web site makes clear that she is totally unrepentant. So Hoftstra's law school regards a disbarred criminal as an expert on legal ethics and someone who has been convicted of giving material support to mass murder as a champion of human rights. If we ever have to hire a lawyer, we think we'll steer clear of Hofstra grads.

Atlantic City Abortion Mill Closes Because It Won't Meet Health Standards: Are You Listening Judge Smith?

The decades-long presence of an embattled city abortion clinic has finally come to an end.

A New Jersey Health Department spokesman confirmed Tuesday that the Alternatives abortion clinic has opted to surrender its license to the state instead of correcting the list of violations detailed in a report that caused the sudden closing of the clinic more than three months ago.

Atlantic City Councilman John Schultz, who leased the facility to Alternatives, said the clinic's equipment was emptied out of the building last month and the space is available for lease.
"They moved out, everything is out of there," Schultz said in a phone interview. "My lawyers just sent them a letter telling them they're like a month behind on their rent."

The state's report detailed a slew of violations at the clinic, including bloodstained operating tables, expired drugs and the absence of a sterilization sink.

The June 22 inspection was the first time the clinic had been surveyed by health officials in six years, although Health Department rules require inspections of licensed clinics every other year. Health inspectors' absence at Alternatives follows a statewide trend, with 83 percent of the state's ambulatory care facilities not receiving their required routine checks...

It is noteworthy that this abortion mill owner claimed (like Planned Parenthood is now doing in Missouri) that he couldn't afford to make the changes necessary to bring the grisly business up to code. With the incredible profits an abortionist makes, he couldn't afford to change the sheets!

This claim presents a splendid opportunity for responsible journalists (not to mention court officials like Ortrie Smith in the current Missouri situation) to expose the abortion industry's immense profits as well as its lack of concern for even basic standards of health and safety for women.

So...where are those journalists and judges?

Pro-Life Lawyers Call the Church to Action Against Abortion in England

The Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship (LCF) is calling on Christians to rally outside the Houses of Parliament this October in a show of opposition to abortion on the 40th anniversary of the Abortion Act.

The LCF said that this autumn the church was “facing one of the most critical moments in the fight against abortion” since the Abortion Act was passed in October 1967.
“This October, 40 years after the passing of the Abortion Act, Christians across the nation are standing up and being counted, refusing to be silent about the taking of innocent lives and the trauma that has been caused to women and families who have been affected by abortion,” said the LCF...

“This is a chance for the church to show we are serious about making a difference, and to make up for the lost time when we have been all too silent on behalf of the unborn child,” said the LCF...

“The tide is beginning to turn in the abortion debate in this country, as more and more people are dissatisfied with high abortion rates, and increasing information is available about the humanity of the embryo.”

Around 6.7 million abortions have taken place in the UK since 1967, and an average of 465 abortions continue to take place each day.

The LCF said, “We call upon every church leader and every Christian in our land not to squander this opportunity, but to take a stand for the unborn child.”

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Today's Posts

Yes, Virginia; There Are Still a Few Responsible Senators

Stop the Presses. Here's a Hollywood Flick with Americans as the Good Guys!

When Will You Get Expelled?

"Does the Left Value Truth?"

George Soros: Monied Manipulator Extraordinaire

Preferential Treatment for the Clintons? Golly!

Judge Nixes the Law; Allows Planned Parenthood to Call the Shots

Sex Sells...In Politics Too.

Yes, Virginia; There Are Still a Few Responsible Senators

Last week Time Magazine published an interesting (and generally balanced piece) by Jay Newton-Small dealing with that most remarkable of political minorities, the principled, active conservatives who are deeply committed to both moral and fiscal ideals.

Not surprisingly, the article "starred" Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Jim DeMint (R- SC). (They are shown here with DeMint at the podium and Coburn at his immediate right.)

Senator Tom Coburn spent a good part of last Wednesday trying to stop the federal government from building bike paths. He wanted to redirect the $12 million allotted for them to shoring up U.S. bridges following the collapse of a highway bridge in Minneapolis that killed 13 people. The amendment failed 80-18. Undeterred, Coburn, an Oklahoma Republican, immediately introduced his second amendment of the day: a motion to suspend all earmarks — or pet projects often attached in secret to funding bills — until structural integrity of all U.S. bridges can be verified. There were $2 billion in earmarks in the bill, which, if passed, will fund the Transportation Department next year; the amendment failed 82-14.

That same day Senator Jim DeMint, a South Carolina Republican, added his own amendment to suspend a rule that requires the government to use unionized workers to make emergency repairs to bridges, which DeMint says raises the cost by as much as 35%. That amendment also failed, 56-37.

The fact that DeMint and Coburn's amendments were defeated is nothing new in the Senate, and it does little to temper their enthusiasm as Congress rushes to finish all of the funding bills for next year. At a time when the conservative base is lamenting its choice of presidential candidates as well as the priorities of the Oval Office's current occupant, the two are the leaders of a small group of Republican hard-liners working overtime against Democrats and Republicans alike to make a firm stand against what they view as out-of-control spending...

The full article (pretty brief really) is here on the Coburn web site. And over here is a contact information page so that you can send along your thanks to Senators Coburn and DeMint, two of the genuine conservatives still around.

Stop the Presses. Here's a Hollywood Flick with Americans as the Good Guys!

Harry Stein reviews the new Peter Berg film, The Kingdom, for City Journal.

The Kingdom, Universal’s $70 million contribution to the burgeoning Iraq/War-on-Terror genre, will not hit theaters until September 28, but already word on the film is immensely encouraging: all the right people hate it. A predictable early reaction—surely a harbinger of hand-wringing to come—came from Variety critic John Anderson, who damned the film as “jingoistic,” complaining that it turns “anonymous, indigenous peoples into ducks at a shooting gallery.”

Having caught the film at a sneak preview this past weekend, I can confirm that lots of “indigenous peoples” get theirs in this terrifically entertaining thriller—but they are “anonymous” only in the way that we don’t know the names of the Nazi soldiers firing on our troops on Omaha Beach in The Longest Day or Saving Private Ryan. We know who they are—bloodthirsty terrorists—and in The Kingdom they get their just deserts by the cartload, without apology.

This shouldn’t be a big deal, but of course it is. In a season featuring pictures from Brian De Palma and Paul Haggis that portray the War on Terror as an evil travesty and American troops as psychopathic murderers, to find a film so straightforwardly on “our side”—to use the sneer quotes preferred by the New York Times—is almost too much to hope for. Indeed, I kept waiting for the Americans to make a horrific mess of things, or at least for someone to ask some version of “Why do they hate us?” But down to a spot-on ending that recalls the slaughter of Daniel Pearl, that never happens. Instead, we hate them, and manifestly for the right reasons...

There's more. And here it is.

When Will You Get Expelled?

Check it out.

"Does the Left Value Truth?"

Dennis Prager's column provides an exceptional read today...but then, don't they all?

George Soros: Monied Manipulator Extraordinaire

Democracy: George Soros is known for funding groups such as that seek to manipulate public opinion. So why is the billionaire's backing of what he believes in problematic? In a word: transparency.

How many people, for instance, know that James Hansen, a man billed as a lonely "NASA whistleblower" standing up to the mighty U.S. government, was really funded by Soros' Open Society Institute , which gave him "legal and media advice"?
That's right, Hansen was packaged for the media by Soros' flagship "philanthropy," by as much as $720,000, most likely under the OSI's "politicization of science" program.

That may have meant that Hansen had media flacks help him get on the evening news to push his agenda and lawyers pressuring officials to let him spout his supposedly "censored" spiel for weeks in the name of advancing the global warming agenda. Hansen even succeeded, with public pressure from his nightly news performances, in forcing NASA to change its media policies to his advantage. Had Hansen's OSI-funding been known, the public might have viewed the whole production differently. The outcome could have been different.

That's not the only case. Didn't the mainstream media report that 2006's vast immigration rallies across the country began as a spontaneous uprising of 2 million angry Mexican-flag waving illegal immigrants demanding U.S. citizenship in Los Angeles, egged on only by a local Spanish-language radio announcer?

Turns out that wasn't what happened, either. Soros' OSI had money-muscle there, too, through its $17 million Justice Fund. The fund lists 19 projects in 2006. One was vaguely described involvement in the immigration rallies. Another project funded illegal immigrant activist groups for subsequent court cases.

So what looked like a wildfire grassroots movement really was a manipulation from OSI's glassy Manhattan offices. The public had no way of knowing until the release of OSI's 2006 annual report...

And there's still more. Read the rest of this Investor's Business Daily editorial right here.

Preferential Treatment for the Clintons? Golly!

Early this summer, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign for president learned that the men’s magazine GQ was working on a story the campaign was sure to hate: an account of infighting in Hillaryland.

So Clinton’s aides pulled a page from the book of Hollywood publicists and offered GQ a stark choice: Kill the piece, or lose access to planned celebrity coverboy Bill Clinton.

Despite internal protests, GQ editor Jim Nelson met the Clinton campaign’s demands, which had been delivered by Bill Clinton’s spokesman, Jay Carson, several sources familiar with the conversations said.

GQ writer George Saunders traveled with Clinton to Africa in July, and Clinton is slated to appear on the cover of GQ’s December issue, in which it traditionally names a “Man of the Year,” according magazine industry sources...

Here's the rest of this tale.

Judge Nixes the Law; Allows Planned Parenthood to Call the Shots

In an incredible display of arrogance (unconstitutional even by 21st Century standards), a federal judge has thrown away a Missouri law requiring abortion clinics to meet certain health and safety standards. Indeed, U.S. District Judge Ortrie Smith went even further by instructing the state Department of Health and Senior Services to come up with "modified" rules that Planned Parenthood would accept!

Here's a couple of takes on this sad story. (1, 2)

Sex Sells...In Politics Too.

The new Women’s Party in Poland wants equal pay, more pension rights and more government-funded child care. They also are demanding expanded rights of abortion, free contraception, an increase in the number of gynaecologists, and, get this, a "right to pain-free birth."

Is it any surprise to learn then that such a group is pitching its politics with nude women on posters and billboards? After all, sex sells cars, clothes and cameras...why not votes? And since it is sexual license that defines many of the Woman's Party's demands anyway, why not be "nakedly open" about it?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Today's Posts

Happy Family Day!

"Even Avatars Get Thirsty."

Sailing Into A Trap: U.S. Navy Demobilizes As Cold War Heats Up

"Make Common Cause with Cord-Blood Bank"

Oscar-Winning Actress Regrets Her Abortion

Novelist John Grisham Goes Off

Happy Family Day!

Were you aware that today (September 24, 2007) has been designated National Family Day by presidential proclamation?

In his proclamation, President George W. Bush wrote: “Families are the cornerstone of our nation. On Family Day, we underscore our dedication to strengthening America’s families and recognize the importance that the bonds between parents and children hold for the future of our country.”

Here, here.

As an example of just how true these sentiments are, the World Congress of Families reminds us that a recent study suggests that compared to 12 and 13-year olds who have five or more family dinners in a week, those in the same age group who do not have the same bonding experience are: six times more likely to have used marijuana; more than four and a half times likelier to have used tobacco; and more than two and a half times likelier to have used alcohol.

Larry Jacobs, Global Coordinator of the WCF, comments: “Other studies show that children who have strong bonds with their parents are also far less likely to engage in adolescent sex or criminal activity. They do better in school, are involved in more extracurricular activities and are more likely to stay in school and graduate – and to form stable families themselves.”

“There’s no substitute for the family,” Jacobs concluded. “It doesn’t take a village to raise a healthy child. That’s the mission of the natural family.”

"Even Avatars Get Thirsty."

I must admit that until this morning, I didn't know what an "avatar" even was. In fact, my "first life" has been so occupied, I have completely missed what has become one of the most astounding and flat-out weirdest social developments ever.

I'm talking about Second Life, a virtual world (via computer network) which has attracted nearly 6 million people!

You absolutely have to read this Jonathan Last article at the Weekly Standard. Really.

Sailing Into A Trap: U.S. Navy Demobilizes As Cold War Heats Up

Did you know that China could become the world’s leading naval power by 2020? That’s the verdict of military analyst Tony Corn. This may help explain why the U.S. Navy thinks a piece of paper called the U.N. Law of the Sea Treaty provides some sort of protection for American forces on the high seas. It offers no such protection, of course, but it creates the impression that Navy leaders are doing something about our increasing weakness and vulnerability. However, like so many other U.N. treaties, including the 19 anti-terrorism treaties in effect on 9/11, this one offers a false sense of security. It will mask a dramatic decline in our military power. (Cliff Kincaid, Editor of the Accuracy in Media Report.)

Read the rest of this unnerving but very important article, including its analysis of how naive and dangerous are U.S. plans to demobilize our naval powers while Communist China is vastly extending her fleets. You'll find it right here.

"Make Common Cause with Cord-Blood Bank"

The following op-ed piece was written for the Omaha World-Herald by Dr. Cam Enarson, vice president for health sciences at Creighton University and dean of the university’s School of Medicine.

"Make Common Cause with Cord-Blood Bank"

The pursuit of scientific truth has thrived for more than a century at Creighton Univer­sity -- home to schools of dentistry, medicine and nursing and the School of Pharmacy and Health Professions. Yet the pursuit of scientific knowledge to improve health can lead to difficult moral and ethical issues. As a Jesuit, Catholic university, Creighton is called upon to provide leadership in ensuring that ethical guidelines and Catholic direc­tives play as prominent a role as scientific rigor in research and health care.

Such an issue surrounds human stem-cell research, particularly the use of embryonic stem cells. This coming Thursday evening, Creighton Univer­sity’s Center for Health Policy & Ethics will host a community forum on stem-cell research to help educate the public ab
out the Catholic view on this subject. *(See note below)*

First, to talk about stem cells, one needs to understand what stem cells are and distinguish between the various types. Stem cells are different from other cells in the body, because they can continue to divide throughout life and grow into other types of cells, replacing ones that die or are lost. This makes them an exciting, potential source for future disease prevention and treatment for everything from multiple sclerosis to Parkinson’s disease.

Embryonic stem cells, as their name suggests, are derived from embryos. Catholic teaching holds that human life begins with conception; therefore, it is morally illicit to conduct any research on stem cells obtained from the direct destruction of embryos or fetuses.

We teach Creighton students through a prism of faith-based tradition. For us, the moral good is to protect innocent life, and we are proud to be known for what we believe. At Creighton, we believe the greater good is to advocate for and support research involving adult stem cells.

The term “adult stem cell” is actually a misnomer, as it includes all stem cells coming from sources other than embryos, including bone marrow, skin, skeletal muscle and umbilical cord blood. Particularly promising are adult stem cells found in umbilical cord blood, which remains in the umbilical cord and placenta following birth. Cord ­blood stem cells show great promise in the treatment of blood diseases, including leukemia, and neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease. They can be readily obtained and are free from ethical controversy.

Unfortunately, cord blood stem cells are generally discarded following birth, despite their tremendous potential in research and treatment of a wide variety of diseases. Some groups, including the Catholic Church in the United States, are trying to change that practice. The U.S. Conference on Catholic Bishops has lobbied for federal legislation to create a nationwide bank for umbilical cord stem cells. More than 10 states have passed legislation or taken action to promote the establishment of cord-blood banks. In New Jersey, 15 Catholic hospitals have agreed to encourage umbilical cord and placenta blood donations to the state’s two public cord banks.

Cord blood contains an inexhaustible, noncontroversial source of stem cells for research therapy, which could help to replace or repair dam­aged tissues and organs. It is time for Nebraskans to become informed on the stem ­cell issue and to participate in a dialogue that explores the opportunities that adult stem cells and cord blood present. That includes the possibility of establishing a cord-blood bank in our state. We must challenge legislators, health care officials and each other to advocate for research and support in this area.

Instead of focusing on what we disagree about, we should work together on solutions that are morally and ethically right for all.

The community forum Dr. Enarson refers to will be held Thursday, September 27 from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Criss II Bldg, Room 217 at Creighton University. The forum will feature presentations from Kevin FitzGerald, SJ, PhD (“Stem Cell Research: A Catholic Response") and Ron Hamel, PhD (“The Lure of Embryonic Stem Cells: What Should Catholic Health Care Do?")

To register (which is required), simply email or call 280-2017.

Oscar-Winning Actress Regrets Her Abortion

An interviewer from CFRB radio in Toronto asked acclaimed actress Ellen Burstyn what was the lowest moment of her life. Burstyn, now 74-years old and on a book promotion tour, paused before giving this answer...

"You know, I guess, I hate to talk about this on the air, but having an abortion. You know that was really an extremely painful experience."

"Did you feel you didn't have a choice?," asked the interviewer.

"At the time I was just young and dumb, I didn't really want to have a baby then," she replied. "It was the wrong thing to do and I really didn't understand that till later," said the actress. "That was very, very painful -- that was probably the worst."

I commend Ellen Burstyn for the courage and candor of her answer. It is a confession that shows compassion both for the child she aborted and for other women who are considering making the same wrong choice that she did. Also, I pray that she discovers the full measure of God's forgiveness (as I have for my many and varied sins) by trusting in the redemptive sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

(Hat tip: Jill Stanek)

Novelist John Grisham Goes Off

I have never read a John Grisham novel. And after reading this article, revealing as it does Mr. Grisham's arresting lack of propriety and judgment, I'm pretty sure I never will. I mean, "outing" himself as a Democrat who has campaigned for Bill Clinton and John Kerry is one thing. And throwing a fund-raising party for Hillary Clinton is another.

But the imbalance and childish acrimony he shows in the following statements (perhaps affected by the Barry Manilow Syndrome) really takes it over the wall.

Speaking of the Bush administration, Grisham says, "I can't stand those people - and their incompetence is astounding...I've always thought that they were bad people with evil intent - and all that, it's playing out now. You can't hardly look at any aspect of the government in the seven years so far that's been run properly."

"I always thought you could at least depend on the Republican Party to maintain some semblance of fiscal responsibility. But they run up record deficits - taking care of billionaires that they want to take care of. Don't get me started on politics. I could go for a long time."

Now just how Hillary Clinton, as she presides over a Democrat nanny state, will maintain a "better semblance of fiscal responsibility" than the Bush administration, he does not tell. But then, making his own millions through works of fiction, it may be somewhat understandable how, in politics also, Mr. Grisham prefers fantasy to facts.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Today's Posts

Is California More Dangerous than Iraq? and Other Disturbing Questions

"Thou Shalt Put No Other Gods Before Darwin"

Episocopalian Hierarchy's Acceptance of Homosexual Clergy Initiates a Substantial Exodus of Members (and Whole Churches)

25 Democrat Senators Side with Disgusting MoveOn Ad

Immigration Judge Rebuked for Improper Behavior in Forced Abortion Case

Ahmadinejad Is Welcome Where the ROTC Is Not

Dan Rather's Sad Spiral into Paranoia

Is California More Dangerous than Iraq? and Other Disturbing Questions

Victor Davis Hanson has a few alarming comparisons to make between Iraq and California...comparisons that make one more carefully ponder the issues of justice, the precarious nature of being human, media bias, and more. Very provocative reading.

As a fifth-generation Californian, I deeply love this state, but still imagine what the reaction would be if the world awoke each morning to be told that once again there were six more murders, 27 rapes, 38 arsons, 180 robberies, and 360 instances of assault in California — yesterday, today, tomorrow, and every day. I wonder if the headlines would scream about “Nearly 200 poor Californians butchered again this month!”

How about a monthly media dose of “600 women raped in February alone!” Or try, “Over 600 violent robberies and assaults in March, with no end in sight!” Those do not even make up all of the state’s yearly 200,000 violent acts that law enforcement knows about.

Iraq’s judicial system seems a mess. On the eve of the war, Saddam let out 100,
000 inmates from his vast prison archipelago. He himself still sits in the dock months after his trial began. But imagine an Iraq with a penal system like California’s with 170,000 criminals — an inmate population larger than those of Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Singapore combined.

Just to house such a shadow population costs our state nearly $7 billion a year — or about the same price of keeping 40,000 Army personnel per year in Iraq. What would be the image of our Golden State if we were reminded each morning, “Another $20 million spent today on housing our criminals”?...

Every year, over 4,000 Californians die in car crashes — nearly twice the number of Americans lost so far in three years of combat operations in Iraq. In some sense, then, our badly maintained roads, and often poorly trained and sometimes intoxicated drivers, are even more lethal than Improvised Explosive Devices. Perhaps tomorrow’s headline might scream out at us: “300 Californians to perish this month on state highways! Hundreds more will be maimed and crippled!”...

We’re told that Iraq’s finances are a mess. Yet until recently, so were California’s. Two years ago, Governor Schwarzenegger inherited a $38 billion annual budget shortfall. That could have made for strong morning newscast teasers: “Another $100 million borrowed today — $3 billion more in red ink to pile up by month’s end!”

So is California comparable to Iraq? Hardly. Yet it could easily be sketched by a reporter intent on doing so as a bank rupt, crime-ridden den with murderous highways, tens of thousands of inmates, with wide-open borders.

I myself recently returned home to California, without incident, from a visit to Iraq’s notorious Sunni Triangle. While I was gone, a drug-addicted criminal with a long list of convictions broke into our kitchen at 4 a.m., was surprised by my wife and daughter, and fled with our credit cards, cash, keys, and cell phones.

Sometimes I wonder who really was safer that week.

"Thou Shalt Put No Other Gods Before Darwin"

One of the latest (and best) articles about the ongoing flap between academic freedom and Baylor University is Regis Nicoll's brief but punchy,"The Unpardonable Sin in Academia." Here it is:

What do William Dembski, Frank Beckwith, and Dr. Robert J. Marks have in common? All three have been victims of academic suppression at not at Cornell, Stanford or MIT, but at Baylor University—the world’s largest institute of higher learning in the Baptist tradition.

In 2001, Baylor shut down the Michael Polanyi Center and removed Dr. William Dembski as its director because of the center’s focus on ID. Last year, Baylor tried to deny tenure to Frank Beckwith—a scholar who is recognized as a world class philosopher with a prodigious publication record and high teaching marks--for his views on ID. And now the campus thought police has Robert Marks in its crosshairs.

Marks is a Distinguished Professor of Engineering at Baylor who chairs several national and international committees, has authored over 300 technical papers and three books, and has received numerous awards in the field of computational intelligence.

This past June Dr. Marks launched a website on the Baylor server called, “Evolutionary Informatics Lab.” The purpose of the lab was to distinguish “the respective roles of internally generated and externally applied information in the performance of evolutionary systems.”

Although not an ID site, per se, Evolutionary Informatics was ID-friendly containing quotes by Michael Polanyi and links to publications of ID researchers like William Dembski. That was enough for a group of anonymous complainers to pressure the administration into purging the site from the Baylor system.

In sad irony, the science building where Dr. Marks works bears the words of Paul, "By Him all things are made; in Him all things are held together."

Even sadder is the fact that Baylor, as a Christian-based school, is not alone As Casey Luskin of the Discovery Institute explains, "In the academic world, if you question evolution, you come under attack. There's been a pattern of discrimination against ID all over the nation in the past couple years."

It seems that the one commandment enforced by secular and Christian schools alike is: “Thou shalt put no other gods before Darwin.”

Episocopalian Hierarchy's Acceptance of Homosexual Clergy Initiates a Substantial Exodus of Members (and Whole Churches)

Within the last week, three dioceses have signaled that they are preparing to depart the Episcopal Church if it does not reverse its course away from the larger Anglican Communion. The dioceses of Fort Worth, Pittsburgh, and Quincy, all of which represent a more biblically orthodox element in the Episcopal Church, have indicated that they are preparing to potentially depart the denomination.

The issue?

Anglican Communion leaders (called “primates”) have requested that the denomination’s House of Bishops provide assurances, by September 30, that in the future it will not consent to the consecration of bishops living in a same-sex relationship or approve same-sex blessings.

Here's more from Anglican Action.

25 Democrat Senators Side with Disgusting MoveOn Ad

It should have been a "no brainer;" namely, to vote for the repudiation of the contemptible ad created by the ultra-liberal organization MoveOn that branded American hero Gen. David Petraeus as “General Betray Us.” After all, as the sponsor of the Senate measure, John Cornyn of Texas, said, “This amendment was an opportunity for every senator to declare with not only their voices but also with their votes that they fully support our troops and our commanding general in Iraq...For and their left-wing allies to brand General Petraeus a traitor and a liar crossed a historic line of decency. It was a despicable political attack by a radical left-wing interest group.”

However, 25 Democrat Senators, committed more to liberal chic than to brains, actually voted against the measure.

Do your country a favor and remember who they were:

Hillary Clinton (D-NY),
Barbara Boxer (D-CA),
Robert Byrd (D-WV),
Chris Dodd (D-CT),
Tom Harkin (D-IA),
Ted Kennedy (D-MA),
John Kerry (D-MA),
Harry Reid (D-NV),
Chuck Schumer (D-NY),
and the rest of the usual suspects Akaka (D-HI), Bingaman (D-NM), Brown (D-OH), Durbin (D-IL), Feingold (D-WI), Inouye (D-HI), Lautenberg (D-NJ), Levin (D-MI), Menendez (D-NJ), Murray (D-WA), Reed (D-RI), Rockefeller (D-WV), Sanders (I-VT), Stabenow (D-MI), Whitehouse (D-RI), and Wyden (D-OR).

The 3 who did not vote were also all Democrats: Joe Biden (D-DE), Barack Obama (D-IL), and Cantwell (D-WA)

Immigration Judge Rebuked for Improper Behavior in Forced Abortion Case

A New York judge who denied a Chinese man asylum in a forced abortion case and ridiculed him in court has been removed from it by a federal appeals court. The rare decision to take the magistrate off the case came in a decision the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit issued Friday.

The appeals court ruled that Judge Noel Ferris
[photo at right] mischaracterized the evidence in the case and improperly chastised Jian Zhong Sun at his asylum hearing in 2004.

Jian told the court that Chinese officials forced his wife to have an abortion despite the fact the pregnancy was her first under the nation's one-child rule. He said he had been threatened with sterilization when his wife had a second pregnancy and he fled to the United States before his daughter was born.

According to a New York Times report, the court found the decision to deny Jian asylum was “not supported by substantial evidence.” The appeals court also ruled that Judge Ferris “note for the record” about Jian weeping in court about his situation and his characterization of that emotion "most troubling." “I’m crying because I have not seen my daughter after 11 years," Jian told the judge during the hearing, the Times indicated. When he cried again later in the hearing, Judge Ferris interrupted it and noted “the respondent's disproportionate behavior in this courtroom.”...

Read the rest of Steven Ertelt's LifeNews story right here.

An additional note here -- Judge Ferris is on record as saying that “it is shocking and immoral” to ignore human rights abuses around the world. Nevertheless, she has been rated "the eighth toughest of more than 200 immigration judges in granting asylum requests."

Ahmadinejad Is Welcome Where the ROTC Is Not

As William Kristol points out in this piece for the Weekly Standard, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a known supporter and supplier of anti-West terrorists, gets the honored nod to appear on the Columbia campus -- while the ROTC remains banned!

As Columbia welcomes Ahmadinejad to campus, Columbia students who want to serve their country cannot enroll in the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) at Columbia. Columbia students who want to enroll in ROTC must travel to other universities to fulfill their obligations. ROTC has been banned from the Columbia campus since 1969. In 2003, a majority of polled Columbia students supported reinstating ROTC on campus. But in 2005, when the Columbia faculty senate debated the issue, President Bollinger joined the opponents in defeating the effort to invite ROTC back on campus.

But Kristol has yet more to say about Ahmadinejad's Columbia show.

It should go without saying that the appropriate thing to do, when the Iranian ambassador called Columbia, would have been to say: No thanks. Or just, No. But that would be to expect too much of one of today's Ivy League university presidents.

In fact, the introduction with "sharp challenges" by Bollinger makes the situation even more of a disgrace. Now there will be the appearance of real dialogue, of Ahmadinejad answering challenges, which further legitimizes the notion that Holocaust denial, say, is a subject of legitimate and reasonable debate. But if Bollinger had chosen to deny Ahmadinejad's request, or not to dignify Ahmadinejad's appearance by his presence--then Bollinger would have been denied the opportunity to lecture us, in Columbia's press release, to this effect: "It is a critical premise of freedom of speech that we do not honor the dishonorable when we open the public forum to their voices. To hold otherwise would make vigorous debate impossible. That such a forum could not take place on a university campus in Iran today sharpens the point of what we do here....This is America at its best."

Actually, this is a liberal university president at his stupidest. As Powerline's Scott Johnson put it, "Columbia's prattle about free speech may be a tale told by an idiot, but it signifies something. And President Bollinger is a fool who is not excused from the dishonor he brings to his institution and his fellow citizens by the fact that he doesn't know what he is doing."

Dan Rather's Sad Spiral into Paranoia

"This was in many ways a fraud. It was a setup." (Dan Rather)

Oh. Is "Hurricane" Dan finally admitting the truth about the forged documents, the biased sources and the sloppy, vindictive reporting that got him dropped from CBS?


This is simply one of the lines he used with Larry King last night in describing CBS brass and the panel of Louis D. Boccardi, retired chief executive of The Associated Press and Richard Thornburgh, former U.S. attorney general, who investigated Rather's unprofessional behavior.

Though Mr. Rather claims to be "the most experienced reporter in the United States in covering hurricanes," he cannot tell which way the wind blows when it comes to detecting real frauds.

Poor fellow. Not only has his legacy been pretty much destroyed by his stubborn myopia about George W. Bush's military service, but Rather' s paranoia and self-aggrandizement are making him an increasingly pitiful character.

"What's the frequency, Kenneth?" indeed.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Today's Posts

A Universal Headache: Hillary's Health Care

Flying the Not-So-Friendly Skies

Beware Russia's Return to "Quasi-Tsarist" State

In Vitro Doctor Sued: Lesbian Couple Have An "Extra" Kid

"Hurricane" Dan Rather Got No Respect

First it was Abortion; Now Amnesty International Includes "Homosexual Rights" as a Priority

A Universal Headache: Hillary's Health Care

...Clinton would require that all employers offer coverage, that all residents buy it, and that Washington dictate its price and content. She would levy higher income taxes on the wealthy, and hidden taxes on everyone.

She would open Medicare to the near-elderly, the State Children's Health Insurance Program to nearly all children, and the Federal Employees' Health Benefits Plan to nearly everyone. Should anyone be left behind, she would turn the private sector into a de facto government program.

Clinton still equates reform with less freedom. The freedom to choose whether to purchase health insurance? Gone. The freedom to purchase the insurance you want? Gone. The freedom to run a competitive business? To hold on to your earnings? To make your own health care decisions? Gone, gone, gone....

(From Michael Cannon's article, "Dr. Hillary Will See You Now," available in full at this Cato Institute page.)

Flying the Not-So-Friendly Skies

Here's a rather troubling but very interesting video discussion (only 3 and 1/2 minutes) between John Fund and James Taranto about the worsening traffic control problems in America.

Would you believe, for instance, that the U.S. system is not only more problematic and outdated than those of Canada and Europe but more socialistic too? That the number of delayed flights is double what they were 5 years ago? And are you aware of how the BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anybody) Syndrome and environmental laws are forcing our planes to land on too few and too crowded runways?

Check out the discussion ("Air Traffic Jam") on this WSJ Online page.

Beware Russia's Return to "Quasi-Tsarist" State

While National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell (photo at left) explained to the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee that "China's and Russia's foreign intelligence services are among the most aggressive in collecting against sensitive and protected U.S. systems, facilities, and development projects," efforts which he described as "approaching Cold War levels," former U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Bolton (photo at lower right) was emphasizing the same problems to reporters.

As Radio Free Europe tells, "Despite a promising start early in the first term of U.S. President George W. Bush, the respective perceptions of the threats the United States and Russia face -- and Russia's perception of the benefits of cooperating with the United States -- changed at some point during [Bolton] added that Moscow has subsequently had a pattern of noncooperation with the United States on strategic defense, strategic offense, and nonproliferation issues.

As an example, Bolton noted that Russia is a member of the six-party talks on North Korea -- which he called a "fundamentally criminal regime" -- but said Russia's role has been "unhelpful" in resolving the question of whether the regime should be made to give up its nuclear-weapons program. Bolton stressed that Moscow has also emerged as Tehran's "principal defender and protector. Simply put, Russia needs a higher class of friends in the world than North Korea, Iran, and Syria."

He believes that the United States and other countries must address what he called "legitimate Russian concern" that it feels excluded from Western security structures, vulnerable to Islamic terrorism, and alone in the world with a shrinking and aging population.

Bolton argued that Russia is returning to a "quasi-authoritarian, procommunist, quasi-tsarist -- call it whatever you want -- kind of political system and is not open to democratic change, freedom of the press, and individual liberty. It's going to be very hard for overcome that internal political fact to cooperate on broader efforts like common efforts in missile defense and the continuing global war against terrorism."