Friday, November 30, 2007

Today's Posts

The Dramatic Pro-Life Moment That Never Was

"Bush Got It Right" On Stem Cell Research

Uzbekistan Pastor Sentenced to 2 Years Labor and Fined 20% of Two Years Earnings...for Pastoring.

Reducing the Risks of AIDS Isn't Enough

Just What Kind of Catholic Does Tony Blair Hope To Be?

Is Huckabee a Fiscal Conservative? Dick Morris Says, You Bet!

The Dramatic Pro-Life Moment That Never Was

From the stylish pen of Peggy Noonan...

I will never forget that breathtaking moment when, in the CNN/YouTube debate earlier this fall, the woman from Ohio held up a picture and said, "Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Obama, Mr. Edwards, this is a human fetus. Given a few more months, it will be a baby you could hold in your arms. You all say you're 'for the children.' I would ask you to look America in the eye and tell us how you can support laws to end this life. Thank you."

They were momentarily nonplussed, then awkwardly struggled to answer, to regain lost high ground. One of them, John Edwards I think, finally criticizing the woman for being "manipulative," using "hot images" and indulging in "the politics of personal destruction." The woman then stood in the audience for her follow up. "I beg your pardon, but the literal politics of personal destruction--of destroying a person--is what you stand for."

Oh, I wish I weren't about to say, "Wait, that didn't happen." For of course it did not. Who of our media masters would allow a question so piercing on such a painful and politically incorrect subject?

I thought of this the other night when citizens who turned out to be partisans for Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Obama and Mr. Edwards asked the Republicans, in debate, would Jesus support the death penalty, do you believe every word of the Bible, and what does the Confederate flag mean to you?

It was a good debate, feisty and revealing. It's not bad that the questions had a certain spin, and played on stereotypes of the GOP. It's just bad that it doesn't quite happen at Democratic debates. Somehow, there, an obscure restraint sets in on the part of news producers. Too bad. Running for most powerful person in the world is, among other things, an act of startling presumption. They all should be grilled, everyone, both sides...

"Bush Got It Right" On Stem Cell Research

Charles Krauthammer hasn't completely agreed with President George W. Bush on stem cell policy. Indeed, he has supported embryonic stem cell research (though with some misgivings) and believed that Bush's moral convictions on the matter were using up way too much of his political capital.

Krauthammer is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist with a decidedly conservative perspective. Yet as a non-religious psychiatrist, he did not appreciate Bush's spiritual convictions that scientific research must proceed along lines that protect the inviolable right to life.

Nevertheless, in the wake of recent breakthroughs in stem cell science, Krauthammer voices his renewed respect and appreciation for the President and argues in this moving Washington Post column that George Bush has been vindicated...and then some.

A decade ago, [James A.] Thomson was the first to isolate human embryonic stem cells. Last week, he (and Japan's Shinya Yamanaka) announced one of the great scientific breakthroughs since the discovery of DNA: an embryo-free way to produce genetically matched stem cells.

Even a scientist who cares not a whit about the morality of embryo destruction will adopt this technique because it is so simple and powerful. The embryonic stem cell debate is over.

Which allows a bit of reflection on the storm that has raged ever since the August 2001 announcement of President Bush's stem cell policy. The verdict is clear: Rarely has a president -- so vilified for a moral stance -- been so thoroughly vindicated.

Why? Precisely because he took a moral stance. Precisely because, to borrow Thomson's phrase, Bush was made "a little bit uncomfortable" by the implications of embryonic experimentation. Precisely because he therefore decided that some moral line had to be drawn.

In doing so, he invited unrelenting demagoguery by an unholy trinity of Democratic politicians, research scientists and patient advocates who insisted that anyone who would put any restriction on the destruction of human embryos could be acting only for reasons of cynical politics rooted in dogmatic religiosity -- a "moral ayatollah," as Sen. Tom Harkin so scornfully put it.

Bush got it right. Not because he necessarily drew the line in the right place. I have long argued that a better line might have been drawn -- between using doomed and discarded fertility-clinic embryos created originally for reproduction (permitted) and using embryos created solely to be disassembled for their parts, as in research cloning (prohibited). But what Bush got right was to insist, in the face of enormous popular and scientific opposition, on drawing a line at all, on requiring that scientific imperative be balanced by moral considerations...

The rest is here.

Uzbekistan Pastor Sentenced to 2 Years Labor and Fined 20% of Two Years Earnings...for Pastoring.

Imagine a place where your religious faith could only be expressed in places, ways and times that the government mandated...a place where teaching the Bible to fellow Christians or presenting the glorious truths of the gospel to interested unbelievers could land you in jail.

Well, such things are happening in many, many places around the world nowadays and this example is just one. It comes from Uzbekistan and involves Nikolai Zulfikarovin, an "unregistered" Baptist pastor, who has been sentenced to two years correctional labor (and forced to pay the government 20% of his earnings over the the next two years) for "teaching religious doctrines without special religious education and without permission from a central organ of administration of a religious organisation, as well as teaching religion privately."

Prayers are, of course, in order here. And so too are letters in behalf of Pastor Zulfikarovin and the cause of religious freedom. I've sent mine to the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Uzbekistan to the United States, H.E. Abdulaziz Kamilov. The contact info follows my brief letter.

Dear Mr. Ambassador,

As you know, the United States of America was among the first countries to recognize the independence of the Republic of Uzbekistan back in 1992. Our government did so because it deeply respected your desire to escape the long darkness of Soviet dictatorship and it wanted to help your nation secure justice and freedom for your people. The citizens of our country applauded that move.

However, there is growing concern among Americans over Uzbekistan's increasing repression of religious believers, especially the tightening of laws and procedures that hinder peaceful, reasonable religious activity. A specific case that is profoundly troubling is Pastor Nikolai Zulfikarovin, an "unregistered" Baptist pastor, being sentenced to two years correctional labor and forced to pay the government 20% of his earnings over the the next two years for "teaching religious doctrines without special religious education and without permission from a central organ of administration of a religious organisation, as well as teaching religion privately"
(Article 229, part 2 of Uzbekistan's Criminal Code).

I ask you to please intercede in this case or at least pass on to your government the compelling concerns that freedom-loving people in America have about such heavy-handed and unjust persecution of peaceful religious believers.

Thank you for considering my request.


Denny Hartford

Director, Vital Signs Ministries

Omaha, Nebraska

Embassy of Uzbekistan
1746 Massachusetts Avenue,
N.W., Washington, D.C.

Reducing the Risks of AIDS Isn't Enough

I'm afraid that the recent attention media, government and school gave to World AIDS Day omitted some very pertinent facts. But, of course, when you're desperately trying to promote a social revolution (especially one which denies the most basic of biological realities), you're not going to bother with reminding people of the sheer awfulness your revolution is going to create.

Thus omitted from the discussion was that AIDS is not at all like multiple sclerosis, muscular dystrophy, leukemia, or any of the other dreaded diseases that plague mankind.

Because AIDS is preventable.

Indeed, it is 100% preventable and with the easiest and most inexpensive of measures.

Writes Sharon Slater, President of Family Watch International, "The most compassionate position is to do everything we possibly can to help people avoid the disease, not just to reduce the risks. We must discourage people from engaging in any kind of extramarital sex, whether it be heterosexual or homosexual, because that is the primary cause of the spread of AIDS."

"Second, much of the billions of dollars that are spent each year to prevent AIDS across the world fund programs that promote condom use as the answer to the pandemic. These programs actually promote rather than discourage the very behavior that spreads AIDS—sex outside of the confines of a faithful marriage, and especially sex between two men."

"Condoms have proven to have significant failure rates. That means a certain percentage of them will fail, making it effectively like playing Russian roulette each time a person has “safe sex” i.e., sex with a condom outside of a faithful marriage relationship."

"Instead of promoting risk reduction programs, we should be promoting risk elimination programs. Prevention programs should teach people to completely avoid any behavior that can put them at risk for contracting the deadly HIV/AIDS virus."

That's a good exhortation.

True compassion doesn't just strike a pose. It doesn't look for sentimental vibes, ego trips, or political correctness. It seeks to provide the very best for persons in trouble. And, in the case of AIDS, that means working to keep people free of this torturous and lethal disease, not arranging for yet more victims.

Just What Kind of Catholic Does Tony Blair Hope To Be?

...In the robustly secular world of Westminster, few care what Mr Blair does with his Sundays. But Mr Blair’s conversion is a hot and divisive topic among priests and ordinary Christians in this country — and even in the Vatican itself. Churchgoers who wrote to their MPs in protest against the former prime minister’s various policy initiatives, from embryo research to laws on homosexual adoption, have good reason to be puzzled. Has Blair recanted? If he has, shouldn’t he say so publicly before he is received? Or has he decided not so much that he will go to Rome, but that Rome will come to him?...

Although Anglican, Mr Blair has always attended Mass with his wife, a convent-educated Catholic. He has done so, he says, to keep the family together on Sunday. He has described himself as an ‘ecumenical Christian’, which appears to mean that he confers on himself the right to attend any service he chooses. In 1996 the late Cardinal Hume wrote asking him to stop taking communion at St Joan of Arc, a Catholic church in Islington. He reluctantly agreed, but wrote in reply, ‘I wonder what Jesus would have made of it.’

He might also have wondered what the Anglican and Catholic martyrs would have made of it. Much as it may baffle Blair, people once died rather than deny — or affirm — Catholic Eucharistic teaching; and few practising Anglicans and Catholics would today dream of gatecrashing each other’s communion queues. Yet Mr Blair had come to his own, very unique conclusions about religion, and felt confident enough to lecture a Cardinal on Eucharistic protocol.

In Downing Street, Mr Blair’s faith was seen as a driving factor in his life — but few saw his beliefs as Catholic. ‘If you look at not just his voting record, but his legislative record, he has fought the Church for years,’ says one senior official who worked for him at No. 10. ‘That is why I cannot see how he can enter the Church now. Converts cannot cherry-pick which parts of the faith they agree with. It’s easier for cradle Catholics to dissent, but converts have to sign up to the whole agenda. Perhaps he has changed his mind. I just don’t know.’

To critics within the Church, Mr Blair was — as one priest puts it — ‘the most anti-Catholic Prime Minister of modern times’. Others, especially Evangelicals, go further and describe his policies as broadly anti-Christian. He has legalised homosexual civil unions and gay adoptions. He has championed stem-cell research — and with a fervour that contrasts starkly with his friend George Bush’s opposition to such research. He voted against lowering the abortion limit from 26 weeks to the present 24. His credentials are those of the perfect secular liberal. All this makes it baffling that he should now choose to join the Church that has so often attacked New Labour’s legislative programme. His friend Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor has been an outspoken critic, but Mr Blair has, apparently, been unmoved.

Joining the Catholic Church is not for the doctrinally fainthearted. The convert must first make confession of his serious sins. Next comes the Rite of Reception which includes the declaration: ‘I believe and profess all that the Holy Catholic Church believes, teaches and proclaims to be revealed by God.’ Ann Widdecombe says she had struggled with this sentence before being able to convert herself. ‘So either Tony Blair will perjure himself on a massive scale, or he has genuinely repented. But we can’t send a message that we accept people just because they used to be the prime minister.’

Other Catholics go further. ‘St Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus would pale into insignificance by comparison,’ says John Smeaton, director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, who has a dossier on Mr Blair’s voting record. ‘We need to hear a full repudiation from him. Without one, having Blair as a Catholic is like having a vegetarian in a meat-eating club. It simply does not make sense.’

But might there be more leeway in the conversion process than Mr Blair’s critics suggest? Some would say that there is. The so-called Tablet Catholics — named after the distinguished liberal Catholic weekly — would argue the case for plurality. Cherie Blair puts it like this: ‘The Church isn’t just about the Vatican. It’s about all of us.’ This is the Catholicism of Hans Kung, a Swiss theologian who professes loyalty to Rome but rejects its teaching on celibacy and women priests. That he has been a house guest at 10 Downing Street provides another clue to the Blairs’ thinking.

Mrs Blair made her position explicit in an article two years ago in which she confessed to having ‘doubts’ about some of the Church’s teachings. ‘But I have been taught that you should stay and try to change things. It’s like the Labour party in the 1980s. I wasn’t happy with the way it was going, so I tried to help change it from within. Luckily, we won that battle.’ For all the breathtaking presumptuousness, one cannot fault her ambition. Today: Westminster. Tomorrow: Rome....

Read the entirety of Fraser Nelson's very interesting article in the online edition of the Spectator (U.K.) over here.

Is Huckabee a Fiscal Conservative? Dick Morris Says, You Bet!

As Mike Huckabee rises in the polls, an inevitable process of vetting him for conservative credentials is under way in which people who know nothing of Arkansas or of the circumstances of his governorship weigh in knowingly about his record. As his political consultant in the ea rly ’90s and one who has been following Arkansas politics for 30 years, let me clue you in: Mike Huckabee is a fiscal conservative.

A recent column by Bob Novak excoriated Huckabee for a “47 percent increase in state tax burden.” But during Huckabee’s years in office, total state tax burden — all 50 states combined — rose by twice as much: 98 percent, increasing from $743 billion in 1993 to $1.47 trillion in 2005.

In Arkansas, the income tax when he took office was 1 percent for the poorest taxpayers and 7 percent for the richest, exactly where it stood when he left the statehouse 11 years later. But, in the interim, he doubled the standard deduction and the child care credit, repealed capital gains taxes for home sales, lowered the capital gains rate, expanded the homestead exemption and set up tax-free savings accounts for medical care and college tuition.

Most impressively, when he had to pass an income tax surcharge amid the drop in revenues after Sept. 11, 2001, he repealed it three years later when he didn’t need it any longer.
He raised the sales tax one cent in 11 years and did that only after the courts ordered him to do so. (He also got voter approval for a one-eighth-of-one-cent hike for parks and recreation.)

He wants to repeal the income tax, abolish the IRS and institute a “fair tax” based on consumption, and opposes any tax increase for Social Security.

And he can win in Iowa.

When voters who have decided not to back Rudy Giuliani because of his social positions consider the contest between Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, they will have no difficulty choosing between a real social conservative and an ersatz one...

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Today's Posts

Brainless Brain Surgeons: And This Is Before We Get Socialized Medicine.

Countering Media Bias

Who Will Protect the Children? A Tragic Case of Child Endangerment Goes Uncharged.

Of Hollywood, Demographic Winter & More: Don Feder Has a New Website

Brainless Brain Surgeons: And This Is Before We Get Socialized Medicine.

The phrase, "It's not brain surgery" can no longer be used to characterize something intellectually simple. Not when we've got brainless brain surgeons like those operating in Rhode Island.

Rhode Island Hospital in Providence has been fined $50,000 and reprimanded by the state Department of Health after its third instance this year (!) of a doctor performing brain surgery in the wrong side of a patient's head.

The late night talk show fellows won't need writers to come up with jokes about this deal.

And yet the best joke of all (given that the situation itself is quite serious) is simply the calm understatement of health department director David R. Gifford said, "We are extremely concerned about this continuing pattern." Golly, not as concerned as the folks who have to go under the knife in Rhode Island.

Countering Media Bias

I once taught an off-campus media course for Grace University here in Omaha with a part of the class designed to help students understand the "whys and hows" of media bias. I used examples of advertisements, television programs, newspaper stories, and so on to show how the subtleties of propaganda were constantly used (often without a conscious calculation by the writer) to persuade us.

Well, I taught that class in the 1980s when "subtle" was still the word for media inculcation, when a journalist used (in addition to selection of stories, sources and facts) more finer, more understated techniques of agitprop.

Those days are long gone.

Indeed, nowadays the daily examples of over-the-top disinformation, newspeak, and ballyhooed brainwashing are legion as any visit to the Media Research Center, NewsBusters, Accuracy in Media or even this modest little blog will show.

But our response to the mainstream media's overarching liberalism and unfairness must include more than frustration, anger, or a laughing dismissal.

It must also involve:
* a passionate dedication to free speech;
* the provision of excellence and constancy in our own communicative efforts;
* an ongoing resolve to police the MSM and call attention to their hype and obfuscations;
* the generous support (through finances, direct involvement and prayer) of those organizations, publications, web sites and individuals who are yet telling the truth in the public square;
* and, most basic of all, a firm commitment to teach one's children how to be wise and discerning in the face of the comprehensive, aggressive indoctrination campaigns of the MSM and the government school system.

Keeping oneself unstained by the world starts at home.

Who Will Protect the Children? A Tragic Case of Child Endangerment Goes Uncharged.

This tragedy only recently revealed by Missouri officials and reported on by the New York Times is about as sad and revolting a case of cruelty as you'll find. And it is an example of how certain kinds of child abuse remain free of legal restraint.

Megan Meier died believing that somewhere in this world lived a boy named Josh Evans who hated her. He was 16, owned a pet snake, and she thought he was the cutest boyfriend she ever had.

Josh contacted Megan through her page on, the social networking Web site, said Megan’s mother, Tina Meier. They flirted for weeks, but only online — Josh said his family had no phone. On Oct. 15, 2006, Josh suddenly turned mean. He called Megan names, and later they traded insults for an hour.

The next day, in his final message, said Megan’s father, Ron Meier, Josh wrote, “The world would be a better place without you.”

Sobbing, Megan ran into her bedroom closet. Her mother found her there, hanging from a belt. She was 13.

Six weeks after Megan’s death, her parents learned that Josh Evans never existed. He was an online character created by Lori Drew, then 47, who lived four houses down the street in this rapidly growing community 35 miles northwest of St. Louis.

That an adult would plot such a cruel hoax against a 13-year-old girl has drawn outraged phone calls, e-mail messages and blog posts from around the world. Many people expressed anger because St. Charles County officials did not charge Ms. Drew with a crime.
But a St. Charles County Sheriff’s Department spokesman, Lt. Craig McGuire, said that what Ms. Drew did “might’ve been rude, it might’ve been immature, but it wasn’t illegal.”...

Because Ms. Drew had taken Megan on family vacations, she knew the girl had been prescribed antidepression medication, Ms. Meier said. She also knew that Megan had a MySpace page.

Ms. Drew had told a girl across the street about the hoax, said the girl’s mother, who requested anonymity to protect her daughter, a minor.
“Lori laughed about it,” the mother said, adding that Ms. Drew and Ms. Drew’s daughter “said they were going to mess with Megan.”

After a month of innocent flirtation between Megan and Josh, Ms. Meier said, Megan suddenly received a message from him saying, “I don’t like the way you treat your friends, and I don’t know if I want to be friends with you.”
They argued online. The next day other youngsters who had linked to Josh’s MySpace profile joined the increasingly bitter exchange and began sending profanity-laden messages to Megan, who retreated to her bedroom. No more than 15 minutes had passed, Ms. Meier recalled, when she suddenly felt something was terribly wrong. She rushed to the bedroom and found her daughter’s body hanging in the closet.

As paramedics worked to revive Megan, the neighbor who insisted on anonymity said, Lori Drew called the neighbor’s daughter and told her to “keep her mouth shut” about the MySpace page...

Why the authorities did not prosecute Lori Drew for child endangerment, I can't understand. After all, in Missouri as in all states, there are child endangerment laws which make it a criminal offense to subject minors to inappropriate or dangerous situations. Though they are not the same as child abuse laws, which deal with persons who directly harm children, child endangerment laws also carry a similar penalty in the American judicial system.

A parent or babysitter breaks child endangerment laws by getting too drunk to properly watch out for the child in their care. The same laws are broken when a child is exposed to illegal drugs, firearms, dangerous chemicals, criminal activity and domestic violence. Persons trying to escape from the police are frequently convicted of child endangerment if there were children in their vehicle at the time of flight. You get the idea. The purpose of child endangerment laws is to keep children from witnessing adult or illegal activity, and to protect them from situations in which they might get hurt.

For a woman to deliberately engage in a conspiracy to hurt a child, especially when that adult woman has knowledge of the child's vulnerability and fragile mental health, is most definitely a case of child endangerment. That Ms. Drew was not charged is a sorrowful commentary on our justice system...and an example of how our culture in general is failing in a priority responsibility; namely, protecting "the least of these."

The rest of this story is here.

Of Hollywood, Demographic Winter & More: Don Feder Has a New Website

"How to Take the Chill Out of Demographic Winter" and "How Hollywood Undermines the Family" are the titles of two terrific speeches given by Don Feder to the New Generation Church, in Riga, Latvia. They are the latest entries to his brand new website and I encourage you to check it out.

Be sure to look over the articles over at his archives page too. Very fine stuff.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Today's Posts

The Dickens Scholar: Taking a Different Angle on Pro-Life Apologetics

Fort Collins City Council Fails to Put the Kibbosh on Christmas

She Lived by the Polls, Now Hillary is Dying by the Polls

We're Outta Here: As Democrats Champion Immorality, More Black Americans Are Leaving the Party

Communist Vietnam Continues to Abort More Babies Than Are Being Born

Marriage Makes a Huge Difference

President Bush (and Other Pro-lifers) Vindicated By Stem Cell Breakthrough

The Dickens Scholar: Taking a Different Angle on Pro-Life Apologetics

Arguments, debates, addresses, articles -- Vital Signs Ministries endorses all of these educational activities in the cause of the sanctity of life. We also recommend conversations over coffee, advocacy efforts, correspondence, media presentations, public demonstration, sidewalk counseling, CPC ministries, sermons, internet publication, and a lot of prayer. Indeed, we do more than recommend them; we are deeply involved in them ourselves.

But one aspect of pro-life apologetics that remains especially underdeveloped is the arts.

Therefore, we're encouraging you to consider expanding your pro-life horizons this month by seeing Bella; reading something like Randy Alcorn's Safely Home, P.D. James' Children of Men, or Malcom Muggeridge's Sentenced to Life; and thinking seriously about how the joy, the beauty, and the holy truths we champion in the pro-life movement can more generously be translated into the arts.

A easy and simple beginning could be to read through some of the brief dramas available at the Vital Signs Ministries web site. Perhaps you'd like to use them at your church or youth group as a first step in the process. I hope so.

I'll suggest as a starter "The Dickens Scholar," a short two-player drama that explores the "greater good" that comes from a patient, sacrificial act of love.

Fort Collins City Council Fails to Put the Kibbosh on Christmas

The progressive, enlightened solons that comprise the city council of Fort Collins, Colorado decided to create a task force to help them "revise" the city's participation in what over 90% of Americans stubbornly call Christmas.

Step Number One: Put in charge of the committee the head of the local ACLU. Yeah, that makes sense.

Step Number Two: Accept as fair and reasonable the committee's recommendations of no Christmas lights, no use of the word "Christmas," no Santa, no nativity scenes, no use of the colors red and green, no Christmas trees, no angels, and to furthermore squelch anything even remotely connected to Christmas. Instead, they suggested decorations of icicles and a prominent use of the color...uh...brown.

Step Number Three: Follow the party line religiously (irony intended) and stoutly, snobbishly and unceasingly deny that there is a war on Christmas.

What happened next? Well, a few hundred of those stubborn Christmas revelers turned up at the next city council meeting and...

She Lived by the Polls, Now Hillary is Dying by the Polls

Here is the press release from Fritz Wenzel, Director of Communications for Zogby International, answering the arrogant and inaccurate criticism of their latest poll findings made by the Clinton camp:

All is fair in love and war, the centuries–old proverb states. Politics is not included, but given the way the game is played in modern–day America, maybe it should be. That’s the sense I had again this morning watching Mark Penn, the chief political strategist for Democrat Hillary Clinton, denigrate our latest Zogby Interactive survey simply because it showed his client in a bad light (Link to Latest Poll Number). Penn made the contention on the MSNBC morning news program hosted by Joe Scarborough

Penn mischaracterized this latest online Zogby poll as our first interactive survey ever – a bizarre contention, since we have been developing and perfecting our Internet polling methodology for nearly a decade (Zogby Intreractive Methodology), and since Penn’s company has been quietly requesting the results of such polls from Zogby for years. We always comply as part of our pledge to give public Zogby polling results to any and every candidate and campaign that asks for them. What is interesting is that no other campaign has made as many requests for Zogby polling data over the years than Penn has made on behalf of Clinton.

Because Mark Penn is a quality pollster himself, we chalk up his contention that our poll is “meaningless” as a knee–jerk reaction by a campaign under pressure coming down the stretch. Several other polls – Zogby surveys and others – have shown her national lead and her leads in early–voting states like Iowa and New Hampshire have shrunk. This is not unusual. These presidential contests usually tighten as the primaries and caucuses approach.

We're Outta Here: As Democrats Champion Immorality, More Black Americans Are Leaving the Party

This Washington Post article is a particularly patronizing and cynical one, suggesting that the increasing defection of blacks from the Democrat Party is more of a Karl Rove conspiracy than simply the results of the Democrat's blinded passion for abortion, immoral sex education and the homosexual agenda being rejected by people generally more religious than other Americans. It is an interesting read, both for the over-the-top sneering of the reporter and because the facts portending a very significant political shift can't help but bleed through even the reporter's bias.

Communist Vietnam Continues to Abort More Babies Than Are Being Born

Add this tragic situation to the rest of the disasters left in the wake of the United States' unprincipled abandonment of Vietnam to the Communists.

The number of abortions has declined in Ho Chi Minh City, but the large Asian city still sees more abortions there than live births. Vietnam has long had one of the highest abortion rates in both Asia and the world and the United Nations recently said sex-selection abortions are causing significant gender gaps.

Read more from right here.

Marriage Makes a Huge Difference

The more studies document better outcomes for children whose parents are married, the more contrarians seek to deny the obvious. Now some legal scholars and sociologists are warning against confusing the effects of matrimony with the effects of living with two biological parents, whatever formal legal arrangement they have or don't have. Yet an analysis of two studies from 2003 that compares differences between children reared by two adults, married and unmarried, by Robin Fretwell Wilson of the University of Maryland School of Law, concludes that the estate of marriage itself, not just biology, does indeed confer clear advantages to children.

Wilson reviewed two studies from the Journal of Marriage and Family. The first compared differences between children living with two unmarried parents (of which one is the biological parent) with children living in a married stepfamily (also in which one parent is the biological parent). It found statistically significant advantages accruing to children living in stepfamilies relative to their peers in unmarried households, including a reduced likelihood of delinquency and increased likelihood of better school performance measures, including verbal ability and sharing expectations of attending college. These children were also less likely to be suspended or expelled from school. All these correlations remained
statistically significant in tests controlling for the biological parent's relationship to the child, family stability, and socioeconomic differences.

The second study tracked the investment of biological fathers in four different types of families (married biological parents, cohabiting biological parents, married-based stepfamilies, and single biological mothers living with a boyfriend who is not the father). The study yielded-after controlling for ways that married and unmarried fathers might differ as well as demographic factors-statistically significant correlations showing that unmarried fathers spend about four hours less per week with their children than do their married peers. The unmarried fathers also rated themselves "less warm" toward their children. Likewise, the biological children of
cohabiting parents consistently received smaller investments from their fathers than did biological children of married parents, whether blended or intact.

Seeking to explain why a wedding band yields these pluses for children, Wilson believes that the findings of the two studies reflect major differences in the relationships between the parents. "Marriage tends to instill and bring along with it certain relational benefits for the adults, like permanence, commitment and even sexual fidelity, which redound to the benefit of children in the household."

(Source: The Family Update of the World Congress of Families citing Robin Fretwell Wilson in her article "Evaluating Marriage: Does Marriage Matter to the Nurturing of Children?" published in the San Diego Law Review.)

President Bush (and Other Pro-lifers) Vindicated By Stem Cell Breakthrough.

...Dr. James Thomson of the University of Wisconsin, a pioneer in embryo-destructive stem-cell research in the late 1990s, was one of the scientists who discovered the new method. "If human embryonic stem-cell research does not make you at least a little bit uncomfortable," he told The New York Times, "you have not thought about it enough." Apparently, very few Democrats thought about it at all...

Rich Lowery (photo at right) reflects on the breakthrough announced last week by two separate scientific teams who discovered a way to "reprogram" human skin cells for use in medical treatments and research -- a way which does not require killing developing human beings. He continues:

They trotted out Ron Reagan, son of the late president who suffered from Alzheimer's disease, to make the case for embryo-destructive stem-cell research at their 2004 national convention. He didn't mention that there was any other potential way to derive stem cells, and hyped embryo-destructive research as promising "your own personal biological repair kit standing by at the hospital." As for the moral objections, well, "the theology of the few should not be allowed to forestall the health and well-being of the many."

Democrats loved this narrative: theology versus science, with its echo of the Inquisition repressing Galileo. It drove the charge that the Bush administration was waging "a war on science." As if placing ethical bounds on science is a denial of the scientific method and the value of research itself. By this logic, speed limits are "anti-driving," guardrails are "anti-highway" and meat inspections "

Ethical concerns about destroying embryos were dismissed as worries about "a clump of cells" without, as Ron Reagan dismissively put it, "fingers and toes." The pro-life writer Ramesh Ponnuru countered, "Of course the embryo looks like a human being: It looks like a human being in the embryonic stage of development." Proponents of embryonic-destructive stem-cell research spoke often about using "excess embryos" from fertility clinics. But that wasn't their ultimate objective. To treat diseases would require embryos genetically matched to patients, and those embryos would have to be created through cloning and then destroyed.

Per Dr. Thomson, it doesn't take a keen moral sense to realize, at the very least, that this is a boundary to cross only with extreme trepidation. But when in 2001 President Bush limited federal funding of embryo-destructive research to already existing stem-cell lines, he was showered with obloquy. He had "banned" such research. No, he had only denied it federal funding. He opposed "stem-cell research." No, he supported stem-cell research that didn't involve destroying any more embryos.

With the breakthrough that Bush had been hoping for - and talking about since 2006 - his position looks farsighted. The ethical boundary he defended helped push scientists to pursue the new discovery. Bush's opponents, on the other hand, specialized in simplistic advocacy contemptuous of moral qualms about how stem-cell research was conducted. Their muted reaction to the latest development suggests that for some of them what was so exciting about stem-cell research wasn't the far-off potential therapeutic applications, but the chance to portray pro-lifers as standing in the way of life-enhancing scientific discoveries.

Associated Press photo by Ron Edmonds above shows family members who have adopted frozen embryo babies applauding President Bush as he made remarks on stem cell research in July 2006. Bush had just vetoed a bill which would have removed his restrictions on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. There was a tremendous hue and cry against President Bush by Democrats, scientists and journalists but Bush stood firm for the sanctity of life. Good job, Mr. President. But don't expect any of these scalawags to now give you credit for your courageous, morally correct and scientifically enlightened stand. Obscurantism and denial rules in their world.)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Today's Posts

When Are We Going To Get Serious About Fighting Malaria?

Are Canadian Tourists Bankrolling Castro's Political and Religious Repression?

America is a "Melting Pot" No Longer: Anti-Assimilation Politics Rule the Field

Sexual Deviancy Too Pornographic for a Prison is Nevertheless Touted by Planned Parenthood for 10 Year Old Kids

The Rate of STDs Climbs Upwards Again

Ron Paul's Libertarianism Must Face Facts About the War on Terror

When Are We Going To Get Serious About Fighting Malaria?

...More than two billion people worldwide are at risk of getting malaria, and 350-500million contract it every year, mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa. The disease kills up to a million African children annually, making it the continent’s greatest executioner of children under age five. In Uganda alone, 60million cases of malaria caused 110,000 deaths in 2005 (1). In its Apac District, a person is likely to be bitten 1,560 times a year by mosquitoes infected with malaria parasites. The disease also perpetuates poverty (sick people can’t work) and increases deaths from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, diarrhoea and malnutrition.

Controlling and eradicating this serial killer ought to be a global priority. But far too many organisations fail to take sufficient measures, while others actively oppose critically needed interventions.

UNICEF partners with Malaria No More to raise money from donors, distribute educational materials and long-lasting insecticide-treated bednets (LLINs), provide anti-malarial drugs, and save lives. ‘Sometimes’ they organise teams to spray insecticides on the inside walls of houses, to ‘kill the female mosquito after she feeds on a person’ (and frequently infects him or her). Under ‘some special circumstances’, they support treating mosquito-breeding sites, if the larvacides are ‘environmentally friendly’.

All these interventions will help reduce disease and death tolls. They will garner plaudits from environmental activists. But these limited measures will not result in No More Malaria. Unless and until their programmes include regular use of larvacides and insecticides to control mosquitoes, and DDT in selected cases to keep the flying killers out of houses, UNICEF and MNM will not even come close to reducing malaria cases and deaths to what a moral person would deem tolerable levels: close to zero – not 50 per cent or even 25 per cent of current levels...

The rest of this Paul Driessen article can be read over at spiked!

Paul Driessen is a senior fellow with the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow and Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, nonprofit public policy institutes that focus on energy, the environment, economic development and international affairs.

During a 25-year career that included staff tenures with the United States Senate, Department of the Interior and an energy trade association, he has spoken and written frequently on energy and environmental policy, global climate change, corporate social responsibility and other topics. He’s also written articles and professional papers on marine life associated with oil platforms off the coasts of California and Louisiana – and produced a video documentary on the subject.

Driessen received his BA in geology and field ecology from Lawrence University, JD from the University of Denver College of Law, and accreditation in public relations from the Public Relations Society of America. A former member of the Sierra Club and Zero Population Growth, he abandoned their cause when he recognized that the environmental movement had become intolerant in its views, inflexible in its demands, unwilling to recognize our tremendous strides in protecting the environment, and insensitive to the needs of billions of people who lack the food, electricity, safe water, healthcare and other basic necessities that we take for granted.

He is the author of Eco-Imperialism: Green Power, Black Death, a book that prompted this response from Patrick Moore, the co-founder of Greenpeace,“The environmental movement I helped found has lost its objectivity, morality and humanity. The pain and suffering it is inflicting on families in developing countries must no longer be tolerated. This is the first book I’ve seen that tells the truth and lays it on the line. It’s a must-read for anyone who cares about people, progress and our planet.”

Are Canadian Tourists Bankrolling Castro's Political and Religious Repression?

Canada is Cuba's biggest source of tourists. Nearly 600,000 of us fly there every year. Since tourism helped save the Cuban economy after the fall of the Soviet Union -- which had supplied annual aid grants of nearly $8-billion --it's fair to say Canadian tourists played a large part in keeping the Cuban government afloat. So with winter travel season beginning, we would like to ask one question: Do you what know happens to political dissidents beyond the resorts and tourist beaches?

Canadians account for more than one-quarter of Cuba's total annual tourist intake. We spend more than $1-billion dollars there, or about 3% of that country's annual GDP.

The Cuban government admits "the two pillars of the Cuban economy are tourism and sugar." That's why all payments from tourists go to the communist government which then decides how much it can spare for hotel and restaurant workers.

So while you're basking in the warm tropical sun, give some thought to the many political prisoners in Cuban jails for such crimes as demanding democracy, speaking with foreigners without permission or criticizing dictator Fidel Castro...

Source: Editorial in the November 2oth online edition of the National Post (Canada). For more on Cuban repression, use the search feature in this website for previous posts and look over the many web sites devoted to the cause of Cuba's freedom.

America is a "Melting Pot" No Longer: Anti-Assimilation Politics Rule the Field

John Fund reflects on the weird, complex (and terribly unjust) lawsuit being brought by the bureaucrats of the federal government against the Salvation Army. It involves the EEOC, Nancy Pelosi, the Hispanic Caucus, and "blackmail politics" as conducted by special interests.

Check out this brief WSJ video interview, "Identity Politics Gone Wild" with Fund and James Taranto.

Sexual Deviancy Too Pornographic for a Prison is Nevertheless Touted by Planned Parenthood for 10 Year Old Kids

Would you consider a sexually explicit booklet -- a booklet banned from a prison as being too pornographic -- a booklet that openly endorses promiscuity, homosexuality, masturbation (including visuals) as appropriate reading material for a 10-year old kid?

Well, that's just what Planned Parenthood has done. And the grim story (and a rather gross one at that) is told in a truly alarming video prepared by American Life League. You can view it and get a brief setup on Jill Stanek's web site here.

After watching the video, you might make use of the link to alert your friends, neighbors, school officials, public librarians, business leaders and political representatives to what depths of immorality Planned Parenthood is gleefully willing to plunge. After all, if you wait for the mainstream media to publicize this remarkable story, you'll be waiting forever.

The Rate of STDs Climbs Upwards Again

The first paragraph of the Centers for Disease Control's latest study on sexually transmitted diseases in the United States (with particular emphasis on just Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, and Syphilis) goes like this:

While substantial progress has been made in preventing, diagnosing, and treating certain STDs in recent years, CDC estimates that approximately 19 million new infections occur each year, almost half of them among young people ages 15 to 24. In addition to the physical and psychological consequences of STDs, these diseases also exact a tremendous economic toll. Direct medical costs associated with STDs in the United States are estimated at up to $14.7 billion annually in 2006 dollars.

Wow. Do you think that the severity of the situation might finally have a chilling effect on the ongoing promotion by media and government education of promiscuous sex (both hetero and homosexual)?

No; me neither. The "suicide of the West" continues apace.

Ron Paul's Libertarianism Must Face Facts About the War on Terror

Patrick Ruffini, in commenting on the generally positive spin given Ron Paul in a recent Washington Post article, insists that Paul's libertarianism, if it is to ever have a meaningful future, needs to be distinctly different from the Hollywood variety that has heretofore drawn him such strong support. Read on.

...Some campaigns can win big without ever coming close to winning an actual contest. Pat Robertson’s 1988 campaign signaled that Christian Conservatives had arrived in the GOP. Ron Paul is doing the same for libertarians. This is not a counterweight to the religious right per se, since Paul is identified as pro-life, but it does potentially open up a new army of activists on the right not primarily motivated by social/moral issues.

Not every losing single-issue candidate succeeds like this. Immigration-restrictionists still lack an outlet in the GOP, thanks to Tom Tancredo’s embarrassing tone-deafness as a candidate. Sam Brownback’s campaign had hoped to galvanize single-issue pro-lifers, but was hobbled by his dry persona. Duncan Hunter looks mostly like a campaign for Secretary of Defense.

Assuming Paul loses, where does small-l libertarianism go from here? His movement already did the smart thing by making peace with social conservatism. Libertarianism is no longer aligned with libertine stances on abortion and gay rights.

To become the ascendant ideology within the GOP, I suspect they’ll have to find a way to do the same thing on national security. The war on terror writ large is the one big thing social and economic conservatives agree on, and Ron Paul is vocally aligned against both.

Mainstream Republican libertarians might be gung-ho for Paul’s small-government idealism, they might adopt Glenn Reynoldsish skepticism of the homeland security bureaucracy, and even John McCain has lately made a thing of ripping the military-industrial complex, but there is no way — I repeat NO WAY — they will embrace Ron Paul if he continues to blame America for 9/11 and imply that America is acting illegally in defending itself around the globe. Even if they aren’t the biggest fans of the war, most people that are available for Ron Paul on the right are by temperament patriotic and will never vote for someone who sounds like Noam Chomsky.

As someone who routinely called myself a libertarian prior to 9/11, here’s how I would square the circle: Absolute freedom within our borders, for our own citizens; eternal vigilance and (when necessary) ruthlessness abroad. For libertarian ideals to survive, they must be relentlessly defended against the likes of Islamic extremists...

The key principle is one of reciprocity. If you behave peacefully and embrace the norms of a libertarian society, we leave you alone. If you seek to destroy a free society, we will destroy you.

If they’re serious about defending their ideals and seeing to it that libertarianism survives more than a generation in actual practice, I don’t see any reason why libertarians couldn’t embrace a more conservative positioning on national security.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Today's Posts

Russia Keeps Kasparov In Jail

Illegal Abortionists Arrested in Spain

Brothel Owner Signs On with Ron Paul Campaign

Carole Simpson's Gushy Relationship with Hillary Clinton

Incognito TV Anchor Resigns After "Smudging That Journalistic Line"

U.N. Committee Calls on Belarus to Stop Human Rights Abuses

The "Nutters" of Irreligion

Sacrificing the Economy to False Gods

Russia Keeps Kasparov In Jail

Russian opposition leader and former world chess champion Garry Kasparov failed on Monday in an appeal against his detention during a street protest at the weekend, one of his aides said.

Kasparov was one of dozens arrested in protests in Moscow and St Petersburg that were broken up by riot police using truncheons. The United States and European powers have expressed concern at the police tactics a week before parliamentary polls...

Kremlin officials say the protesters do not have popular support and are dangerous radicals trying to destabilize Russia with help from foreign governments...

Right. As Dostoevsky, Solzhenitsyn, and hundreds of thousands of principled, peaceful advocates of freedom have learned over the decades, the repressive rulers of Russia (be they czars or Communists) always describe appeals for liberty, justice and religious prerogatives to be from "dangerous radicals trying to destabilize Russia with help from foreign governments."

For more on Kasparov, see these Vital Signs Blog posts. And please consider sending off a request to Russia's U.S. ambassador to 1) restore Garry Kasparov to freedom; 2) to require strict fairness in the coming election; and 3) to work to insure freedom and human rights in the "new" Russia. The postal addresses for all 5 consulate offices in the U.S. are at this web page.

Illegal Abortionists Arrested in Spain

Police arrested at least six people Monday in raids on clinics suspected of carrying out illegal abortions in Spain, officials said. Four facilities in Barcelona were being searched, a Civil Guard official in the city said under rules barring his name from being published.

Spain allows abortion in cases of rape, fetal deformation or danger to a pregnant woman's physical or mental health. In the latter case, this danger must be certified by a doctor other than the one who would carry out the abortion.

The Civil Guard official declined to say exactly what the clinics were suspected of doing illegally...

(Just torturing and killing innocent preborn kids isn't, in itself, a crime nowadays. God help us.)

The photo is of Carlos Morin, a gynecologist who runs the four raided clinics. Morin was featured in a Dutch documentary offering to perform an abortion on a female journalist posing as being nearly seven months pregnant. The film ostensibly created enough pressure on authorities to make the long overdue raids. Morin was among those arrested.

Brothel Owner Signs On with Ron Paul Campaign

Ron Paul's peculiar strain of libertarianism has garnered him yet another endorsement that will make those Christian conservatives supporting him pretty uneasy...and embarrassed. Maybe enough to start checking out.

Dennis Hof, owner of the Moonlite Bunny Ranch (a legal brothel near Carson City, Nevada), was so impressed after hearing Paul in Reno last week that he decided not only to vote for the fellow but to raise money for him too. (Hof is shown here with some of associates.)

...Hof and two of his prostitutes, Brooke Taylor and a woman who goes by Air Force Amy, attended a Paul news conference. The women say they liked Paul's message, but wanted to learn more about other candidates before making a decision.

Paul spokesman Jeff Greenspan say while Paul does not personally condone prostitution, the candidate does not think it's the role of the federal government to regulate such activity....

Carole Simpson's Gushy Relationship with Hillary Clinton

HIDE your children! An other journalist is engaging in PDCA - Public Display of Clinton Affection.

Not since 1998 - when women's magazine writer Nina Burleigh told The Washington Post's Howard Kurtz that she'd be happy to give President Bill Clinton oral sex to "thank him for keeping abortion legal" - have we seen such open and obsequious Clinton worship as ex-ABC newswoman Carole Simpson gave to Hillary last month.

At a Clinton campaign stop in New Hampshire, Simpson stood up and declared: "I want to tell you tonight, because I happen to be here with my students, that I endorse you for president of the United States. It's very freeing now that I'm not a journalist and I can speak my mind. I think you are the woman, and I think this is the time." The crowd erupted in applause.

Sen. Clinton immediately issued a press release about the "eloquent," unsolicited endorsement and featured the audio clip of Simpson's grandstanding on her campaign Web site.

Geez, Professor Simpson, get a room already.

Yes, Professor Simpson. You see, Simpson felt free to gush because she's "not a journalist" anymore. But, as a faculty member at Emerson College's School of Communications in Boston, she is training the next generation of Serious Media Professionals.

Weeks after joining the Hillary bandwagon, Simpson admitted to The Boston Globe that she "made a mistake." But there will be no repercussions. Despite telling earlier this year that "I still think of myself as a reporter who is now teaching about reporting," Simpson is now "considering an offer from the Clinton campaign to stump for the candidate" in front of black Southern audiences. In exchange, the college asked her not to teach "political journalism courses."

But what journalism lessons wouldn't be political in Simpson's hands? "I anchored for 15 years," Simpson snorted, "and I defy anyone to have determined my political feelings from that."...

Here's the rest of Michelle Malkin's column in the New York Post.

Incognito TV Anchor Resigns After "Smudging That Journalistic Line"

In a strange case demonstrating both unprofessional bias and unpardonable stupidity, a New York television anchorman was forced to resign his job because of his incognito efforts to damage Rudy Giuliani’s bid for the White House by connecting Giuliani's morality with that of Bernard Kerik, who was (for a couple of years, 2000-2001) the NYC Police Commissioner under Mayor Giuliani. Kerik is now involved in a trial on charges of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and lying to the IRS.

Anyhow, Gary Anthony Ramsay, an anchorman for NY1 News for 15 years made a phone call to an evening news and opinion program to blast Kerik. With a lack of integrity remarkable even among journalists, Ramsay did not reveal who he was. Indeed, he used a false name (“Dalton from the Upper East Side”) to register his rant.

However, the program is one that airs on his own station (!) and, not surprisingly, Ramsay's voice was recognized. Subsequent pressures from the station management led to his resignation.

Ramsay (shown above at left) told reporters that he was sitting at home watching the show and got “frustrated” with callers’ comments, particularly one or two that suggested the Kerik prosecution had been instigated by Hillary Clinton forces.

Regarding his bonehead play, Ramsay gave this puzzling justification, “I am continually apologetic for smudging that journalistic line, but I’m a human being, and I’m subject to the same frailties.”

(Sources: New York Daily News; Stop the ACLU blog; New York Times.)

U.N. Committee Calls on Belarus to Stop Human Rights Abuses

A United Nations General Assembly committee recently voted 68 to 32 (with 76 abstentions) for a resolution criticizing Belarus' human rights record and calling for an end to politically motivated persecution in the country. The resolution was submitted by the United States, the European Union, Israel, Canada, Switzerland, and Japan.

The document expresses concern "that the situation of human rights in Belarus in 2007 continued to significantly deteriorate" and cites as an examples the "severely flawed" presidential election in March 2006 "due to arbitrary use of state power" and the government's failure to ensure that local elections in January 2007 met international standards, including its use of intimidation and arbitrary registration standards to exclude opposition candidates.

The document also expresses "deep concern" at the government's continued use of criminal prosecution to silence political opponents, human rights defenders, and journalists. It calls on the Belarusian government "to release immediately and unconditionally all individuals detained for politically motivated reasons and other individuals detained for exercising or promoting human rights." The resolution will now move to a vote in the U.N. General Assembly.

More specifically, the draft document implores the government of Belarus to:

(a) To release immediately and unconditionally all individuals detained for politically motivated reasons and other individuals detained for exercising or promoting human rights;
(b) To cease politically motivated prosecution, harassment and intimidation of political opponents, pro-democracy activists and human rights defenders, independent media, national minority activists, religious organizations, educational institutions and civil society actors, and to cease the harassment of students;
(c) To bring the electoral process and legislative framework into line with international standards . . . and to rectify the shortcomings of the electoral process;
(d) To respect the rights to freedom of speech, assembly and association;
(e) To suspend from their duties officials implicated in any case of enforced disappearance, summary execution and torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment . . . and, if [they are] found guilty, to ensure that they are punished in accordance with the international human rights obligations of Belarus;
(f) To uphold the right to freedom of religion or belief; [and]
(g) To investigate and hold accountable those responsible for the mistreatment, arbitrary arrest and incarceration of human rights defenders and members of the political opposition [...]

As could be expected, Belarus' U.N. ambassador rejected the draft out of hand, calling it "unfounded" and without legal force. He did not attempt to deny the charges made.

(Sources: reports from Radio Free Europe and JURIST.)

The "Nutters" of Irreligion

Melanie Phillips, the columnist for the London Daily Mail (U.K.) who I have recently recommended, has another stirring column which you would do well to read. In it she deals with Tony Blair's recent "confession" that his religious faith had a great deal of influence on his performance as England's Prime Minister but he has kept silent about it because he figured people would consider him a "nutter."

Phillips describes this ironic cowardice as "the outcome of a dominant secularism which claims that faith and reason are irreconcilable, and that belief in a supernatural creator is the equivalent to believing in fairies at the bottom of the garden."

But the article goes on to argue (with rationality and wit) that the real "nutters" are not religious believers at all but rather the fanatics of irreligion who are willing to trample over science, history, culture, and basic individual freedoms in order to get their way. It's an excellent read.

Thanks, Stuart, for alerting me to the article.

Sacrificing the Economy to False Gods

This Lisa Benson cartoon is just one of several to be enjoyed in the cartoon archives of Town Hall. In fact, there you'll find plenty of provocative, inventive and unusual examples of the noble art. Why unusual? Because they present distinctly conservative angles on the news of the day, something rarely seen the pages of the supposedly objective mainstream newspapers.

So check it out. Benson and such other talented cartoonists as Mike Shelton, Chip Bok, Cox & Forkum, and even the venerable Chuck Asay and Wayne Stayskal are right there to provide you with a helpful sanity check...and a few smiles.