Thursday, January 31, 2008

Today's Posts

Who Is Your Hero?

This Is How the Financial Cookie Crumbles

Where Have You Gone, Frank Capra? War Films Then & Now.

Democrats Unleashing New Abortion Wave on Africa: Will You Try to Stop Them?

Who Is Your Hero?

Virtue Media has some dramatic, delightful answers to this question.

Have the television viewers in
your area
seen them yet?

This Is How the Financial Cookie Crumbles

If you read the business press carefully, you already know that the global financial market is crumbling. Serious? Yeah, dead serious.

To be sure, it will take a while. But just recently the world's biggest bank, Citibank, announced a US$24 billion write-off, and estimated it will lay off up to 24,000 employees. This is another episode in a series of such news since August last year.

Citibank is one among many that have taken a blow as a result of the meltdown of their "subprime" mortgage deals and other credit-related losses. There is much more to come...

This Oskari Juurikkala article from Mercator is an important read for anyone who wants to understand how the financial crises came to be and what, if anything, can be done about them.

Where Have You Gone, Frank Capra? War Films Then & Now.

Last night Claire and I finished our work, brewed up a pot of tea and settled in downstairs to watch a movie. The one we selected (from a $6.99 military film compilation we had purchased before Christmas) was the very dramatic, very inspiring 1942 film, One of Our Aircraft Is Missing. The setting is occupied Holland in the early part of World War II with the central action involving the crew of a crippled British bomber bailing out and being befriended by Dutch partisans who then help the fliers try and escape back to England.

It is a superbly crafted film, full of tension and pathos and patriotic feeling -- a film that reminded us of a time when filmmakers invested their propaganda prowess in the national interest rather than the self-aggrandizing, smarmy sedition that has marked so many of the war-oriented films made since the 60's.

I most ardently recommend the film.

But, along with that, I also recommend popular author Andrew Klavan's perceptive article in City Journal that explores this very matter; namely, the divergence of attitudes and purposes between Hollywood's war films of yesterday (patriotic, uplifting, challenging the audience to join in the honorable pursuit of the just cause) and those anti-war productions of the modern era (moody, cynical, nihilistic...and boring).

The article is entitled "The Lost Art of War" and in it Klavan carefully examines the pronounced differences in plot, purpose and style of these competing film ideologies. With striking examples and perceptive insights into both the politics and artistry involved, Klavan makes a convincing case that the war films of Ford, Capra, Dwan, Ludwig, and others working in the 40's and 50's not only served the national interest much better than the leftist-themed movies of a later generation...but they were much better movies, period. More articulate. More dramatic. Truer to life. And immensely more popular with movie audiences.

So, before the weekend comes, make sure you read through Andrew Klavan's "The Lost Art of War" over there at City Journal. You'll find the piece refreshing, stimulating and with a few excellent ideas for what war movie classic you might pick up for Saturday night.

Democrats Unleashing New Abortion Wave on Africa: Will You Try to Stop Them?

House Democrats are putting the finishing touches on a bill that would designate $50 billion more in HIV/AIDS prevention. The proposal, which is expected to be marked up in the Foreign Affairs Committee as early as next week, puts the liberal agenda before patient care.

An early draft of the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) reauthorization, authored by Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), is over 120 pages long. The phrase "family planning" appears on every page. For those new to the ways of Washington, D.C. "family planning" has come to mean "unrestricted abortion."

What's most offensive about the bill is how Democrats plan to deal with mother-to-child transmission of HIV. Through medicine, President Bush's program has provided mother-to-child HIV transmission services to more than 10 million pregnant women in PEPFAR's 15 focus countries. Rep. Lantos and Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) would just as soon see the mothers-to-be kill their children in the womb as give them both a chance to live.

Your representative needs to hear from you that Rep. Lantos's bill to eliminate PEPFAR's abstinence component in favor of more "family planning" initiatives is completely unacceptable. This proposal would accomplish nothing but inflict more death on an already suffering continent.

Will America have a legacy of death or life in Africa? You decide.

(Family Research Council update)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

March for Life 2008 "Field Trip" -- Volume Three

Activist Judges Use Bad Science to Justify Bad Law

Pro-Environment, Pro-Development, Pro-People: CFACT's "Adopt A Village" Program

The Two Questions That Remain

California's "Universal" Health Coverage Dies on the Table: WSJ Does a Post-Mortem

What Can McCain Do to Allay Conservative Fears?

March for Life 2008 "Field Trip" -- Volume Three

Volume One of this mini-series ended with our arrival at the March for Life speakers' platform. Volume Two gave some of the impressions of Ruth and Dick to various elements of our field trip. I'll begin today's entry with a few highlights of the presentations given prior to the huge crowd (225,000, maybe more) before we slowly made our way to Constitution Avenue and up to the Supreme Court.

* As always, the impassioned voice and enthusiastic example of 84-year old Nellie Gray inspired us all. She remains one of the most beloved of all our pro-life champions and her leadership of this awesome annual witness (an event she founded) has been outstanding. We owe her so much.

As many of you know, towards the conclusion of the platform activites, Nellie fell and required serious medical attention. But she's doing fine now and is even back to work. That's great news.

* President George W. Bush had met earlier that morning with several pro-life leaders in the White House and a portion of his remarks to them were taped and then played for the March for Life assembly. The President praised those "faces that shine with a love for life" and reminded us of the strong pro-life record of his administration. He was, as usual, calm and humble about this, even understating the new breakthroughs in adult stem cell research which so vindicated him against the fearsome assaults he has endured on that issue. President Bush also held out hope in winning the fight for life, an effort that involves "changing hearts, not just law." He referred to the biological facts regarding prenatal life, to our founding documents, to America's noble tradition of protecting the weak, and to the necessity of fighting on for "a cause rooted in human dignity." His finish brought one of the loudest cheers of the day -- "Take heart. Be strong. And go forth. May God bless you."

* Despite the cold, windy weather, there were many of the usual pro-life Congresspersons on the platform and their brief remarks were well spoken and well appreciated. Ron Paul from Texas was the first and I was impressed that he refrained from making a push for his presidential aspirations. Indeed, he didn't even mention or allude to it. A very class act. Instead, Paul reminded the Marchers that he was an OB-GYN who had delivered 4,000 babies in his career. And from the very beginning days of his training, he explained, "I was always taught my obligations to two patients, the mother and the baby!" A strict constitutionalist, Paul stressed that there is absolutely "nothing in the Constitution to justify abortion." He also made a nifty reference to his well-known libertarian streak (as well as the Declaration of Independence) when he forcefully stated, "You can't defend liberty without defending all life."

* Steve Chabot of Ohio, the primary sponsor of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban, warned against how a Democrat President would dismantle every abortion limitation so far established and urged the Marchers to work hard to elect a President who will appoint pro-life Supreme Court Justices. Todd Tiahrt from Kansas, Jean Schmidt from Ohio, and Roscoe Bartlett from Maryland were terrific as was Rick Renzi who spoke of coming to Washington for a March for Life 20 years ago and who decided to run for Congress more than any other reason to help restore the right to life in America.

* Dr. Paul Brown, the new Congressman from Georgia who won such an unexpected victory was especially dramatic...and overtly religious in his appeal. Mike Pence of Indiana emphasized the overdue need to de-fund Planned Parenthood. Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska thrilled we Nebraskans, of course, but just a few minutes later, Steve King of Iowa (Bev's Congressman) made sure we were all covered. And Melissa Hart from Pennsylvania was especially eloquent and engaging.

* The final speakers (political, anyhow) included Mike Ferguson of New Jersey, Todd Akin from Missouri, Chris Smith from New Jersey, and Senators Sam Brownback of Kansas and David Vitter of Louisiana. I really liked what Akin had to say, particularly his citing of four compelling evidences that "we are winning the consciences of Americans for life." They were 1) Conversion. Compare the number of pro-abortion folks who have changed their minds and become pro-life with the reverse. A dramatic divergence indeed. 2) The declining number of abortionists. If America really loved abortion and was proud of it, why would the stigma of being an abortionist be more shameful than ever? 3) The "window to the womb" technology has completely removed the "blob of cells" argument from the debate. We all now know the incredible, beautiful, irrefutable evidences of prenatal humanity. And 4) The youth of America is remarkably more pro-life than their parent's generation. The future is on the side of life.

There were some other speakers too who thrilled the crowd before the Sounds of Liberty choir sent us on our way. Those speakers included Rabbi Yehuda Levin (always a favorite with the crowd), Bobby Schindler who spoke movingly of his sister Terri Scihavo and of the need to fight for the lives of other vulnerable Americans, and a powerful sermon from the Rev. Luke J. Robinson of Quinn Chapel AME Church in Frederick, Maryland.

It was, as it always is, a fantastic and momentous "field trip" and I so urge you to consider joining us next year. You will not be sorry!

By the way, for an exquisite set of photographs of the March for Life 2008, check out Barbara Curtis' collection here. Really cool!

Activist Judges Use Bad Science to Justify Bad Law

S. Fred Singer is the founding director of the National Weather Satellite Service, a research fellow at the Independent Institute in Oakland, and professor emeritus of environmental science at the University of Virginia. This op/ed piece published in the Detroit News argues against those muddle-headed judges who are using political-correctness instead of hard scientific facts to further take away American freedoms. It is an eye-opening article and I recommend it to you. Here are a few excerpts:

The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled late last year that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration must consider the "risks of global warming" when setting gas-mileage standards for light trucks, minivans and SUVs. Central to the court's ruling was the claim that the federal agency, in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act, had ignored the benefits of reducing emissions of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.

Whatever their legal acumen, Judge Betty Fletcher and her colleagues on the bench demonstrated they have little expertise in climate science. Tighter restrictions on carbon dioxide emissions cannot produce the imagined benefits. Greenhouse gas emissions occur globally: The court's mandate will not measurably curb carbon dioxide levels or global warming.

The court also assumed that human activity is the main cause of global warming. This has yet to be demonstrated by hard evidence...

Human activities -- such as transportation and industrial production -- contribute little to global warming. The claim that greenhouse gas emissions are responsible for rising global temperatures is based on computer models. But as NIPCC confirms, key temperature readings contradict the models. For example, while all greenhouse models show temperature trends rising with altitude in the tropical troposphere -- the lowest portion of the earth's atmosphere -- weather balloon data show the opposite: a cooling trend. The models are wrong.

Greenhouse warming has been significantly overestimated. NIPCC has found that the models exaggerate the warming effect of greenhouse gases by ignoring "negative feedback" from -- that is, the possible cooling effects of -- clouds and water vapor. Taking this into account, greenhouse warming might amount to no more than one-half of 1 degree Celsius by 2100, well within the climate's normal range of ups and downs.

The leading cause of observed climate warming appears to be variability of solar emissions and solar magnetic fields. The U.N. panel ignored a substantial amount of recent research on the effects of solar activity on climate change. This evidence suggests that climate changes are essentially unstoppable and cannot be influenced by controlling carbon dioxide emissions.

Government efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions will have little effect on the environment. The requirements of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol and the 2007 Bali Climate Declaration cannot influence the natural factors controlling the climate. Similarly, massive government efforts to replace fossil fuels with ethanol, bio-diesel, and wind and solar power will have little effect on the climate. Besides, they are uneconomic and require large subsidies.

In view of these findings, the Department of Justice should appeal the Ninth Circuit's ruling to the Supreme Court. Doing so would also provide an opportunity for the high court to revisit its April 2007 decision in Massachusetts v. EPA -- in which it ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant.

This time around, the White House should be better prepared to argue its case. Science is on its side.

Pro-Environment, Pro-Development, Pro-People: CFACT's "Adopt A Village" Program

Check out this brief video about the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) and how they are working in local villages in impoverished countries to promote entrepreneurship and technological advances that are healthy for both people and the environment.

The Two Questions That Remain

Tom Sharman, our old friend who runs Tesco Studios where I recorded all those years of "Vital Signs" radio programs, recently wrote the Omaha World Herald the following "Public Pulse" letter. I don't know if the staunchly pro-abortion newspaper will print it or not but certainly Tom's level-headed approach makes a very effective apologetic for the sacredness of human life.

Writes Tom, "After 35 years of Roe v. Wade, the same two questions remain that have always been there. 1) When does life begin? and 2) Once life has begun, does it matter?

As regards the 1st question, to establish it at any other time than conception is really very arbitrary as even a full-term birth baby cannot survive on its own. Concerning the 2nd question, since we are each made in our Creator's image, it matters to Him and therefore should to us.

These two questions will never go away."

The accompanying photo shows Tom (at far right) with Patrice Kabore and myself at a Vital Signs Ministries event following our trip to Burkina Faso to make the documentary film, Come to the Light. The traditional costumes Tom and I are wearing were gifts from Colonel Saye Zerbo. Nice huh?

California's "Universal" Health Coverage Dies on the Table: WSJ Does a Post-Mortem

Arnold Schwarzenegger's "universal" health-care plan died in the California legislature on Monday, in what can only be called a mercy killing. So let's conduct a political autopsy, because there are important lessons here for the national health-care debate...

So much for that. The California legislature is probably the most liberal this side of Vermont, and even Democrats refused to become shock troops for this latest liberal experiment. Mr. Schwarzenegger and Democrats in the State Assembly did agree on a compromise plan in December. But on Monday, only a single member of the Senate Health Committee voted to report the bill to the full chamber -- and thus it joined a graveyard full of state "universal" health-care failures.

Like collapses in Illinois, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, this one crumpled because of the costs, which are always much higher than anticipated. The truth teller was state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, who thought to ask about the price tag of a major new entitlement amid what's already a $14.5 billion budget shortfall.

An independent analysis confirmed the plan would be far more expensive than proponents admitted. Even under the most favorable assumptions, spending would outpace revenue by $354 million after two years, and likely $3.9 billion or more. "A situation that I thought was bad," Mr. Perata noted, "in fact was worse."

This reveals that liberal health-care politics is increasingly the art of the impossible: You can't make coverage "universal" while at the same time keeping costs in check -- at least without prohibitive tax increases. Lowering cost and increasing access, in other words, are separate and irreconcilable issues...

All of which is to say that while the plan was opposed by nearly all Republicans, it died at the hands of Democrats. Mr. Schwarzenegger was a collaborator in that he went out of his way to assail and thus alienate fellow Republicans for opposing tax increases to pay for the plan. But if Mrs. Clinton or Barack Obama want to push a major health-care reform through Congress, they will have to find a way to appease their own left-wing while not alienating business and taxpayers...

What the California collapse should discredit in particular is the individual mandate as a policy tool for Republican reformers. This was Mr. Romney's enthusiasm for a time, helped along by the Heritage Foundation. But in order to be enforceable, such a mandate inevitably becomes a government mandate, and a very expensive one at that.

Voters are rightly concerned about health care, but they also don't want to pay higher taxes to finance coverage for everyone. Mr. Schwarzenegger's spectacular failure shows that there's an opening for Republicans to make the case for health-care reform based on choice and tax-equity, not mandates and tax hikes.

What Can McCain Do to Allay Conservative Fears?

For your election fix this morning, why not try this National Review Online symposium? There they have asked the question, "It’s looking more and more like John McCain could be the Republican nominee. What can he do to rally conservatives? Can he?", of Alvin S. Felzenberg, Victor Davis Hanson, Hugh Hewitt, John J. Pitney Jr., Ed Whelan and Mona Charen.

My favorite response was Charen's (printed below) and yet several others make strong pragmatic appeals for conservatives to now rally around the old warhorse. For instance, Hanson writes, "I pray that John McCain can rally the base — since whatever anger conservatives hold toward him should pale in comparison to the specter of 16 years of the Clintons or Barack Obama’s European-style democratic socialism...". Hanson also does the best in suggesting practical steps McCain should make to win over frustrated conservatives.

But again Mona Charen's comments go to the heart of just why conservatives are frustrated with the fickle fellow in the first place:

McCain’s phosphorescent patriotism (including his sacrifice for the country) has always been his greatest selling point and will continue to win respect and affection from conservatives as the general election approaches. Though admittedly he has a sense of humor, he has delighted in sticking his finger in our eyes on many occasions. Also, his ferocious defensiveness about his own honor often takes the shape of impugning the motives of those who differ with him.

On domestic policy he is not a conservative. As between Romney and McCain, Republican voters in Florida were asked to choose between a recent convert (if you will) and a false flag. Take abortion: McCain has touted his Senate record, but that misses his tone and affect. In 2000 he told The San Francisco Chronicle that “certainly in the short term or even in the long term I would not support the repeal of Roe v. Wade.” He backed off after conservatives howled, but the same lack of commitment on the question was revealed in his support of stem cell research.

McCain/Feingold was an assault on the constitution. The immigration bill was utterly heedless of the concerns of the majority of the conservative electorate. Yes, he’s been fine on spending, but let the New York Times show a little ankle and McCain gets weak in the knees.

On foreign policy, McCain remains a most admirable hawk. All honor to him for being right about the surge. But then there are weird failures of understanding on other matters. McCain believes Bush wasted seven years by not seeking negotiation between Israel and the Palestinians sooner! You simply cannot get more conventional Washington, D.C., thinking than that.

I don’t think McCain will reach out to conservatives. He probably believes (not without some justification at this juncture) that it’s up to us to come to him. But every time I take a step in his direction, I’m reminded of some other apostasy (taxes!) and I recoil.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Today's Posts

March for Life 2008 "Field Trip" -- Volume Two

Republicans Behaving Like Democrats

With No Regrets and a Clear Conscience: Chuck Norris' Support of Huckabee

California Abortionists Busted

Help Stop the Religious Persecution in this Colorado Democrat Scam

John McCain: The ACU Rating Shows He Ain't All That Conservative

Liberal Selectivity: College President Who Banned a Chapel Cross Gives OK to "Sex Workers Art Show"

March for Life 2008 "Field Trip" -- Volume Two

Continuing the reflections on the Vital Signs Ministries' "field trip" to Washington for the annual March for Life began last week, I'll start today with provocative points made by Dick Loneman and Ruth Denzler:

* As were all of us, Dick was really moved by our time at Arlington Cemetery the day before the March. He was especially grieved about how the sacrifices made by our nation's warriors for freedom and justice have been so abused by the hedonists and secularists who make up our modern political and cultural elite. Did our fallen heroes give their lives for the kind of America we have today? An America that debases its heritage, scorns morality, and murders preborn children by the millions? Of course not. And the knowledge of how their sacrifice has been so distorted makes this place all the sadder.

* That evening the five of us Omahans spent time at the Lincoln Memorial and at the nearby monuments honoring those who served in the Vietnam and Korean wars. It was dark and cold but yet there were a lot of people (in town for the March) engaged as we were in somberly viewing these places. Dick noticed how the teenagers' mood changed from the laughter and frolics when they first got off the buses to a quieter, more respectful tone as they walked up to see the huge statue of Abraham Lincoln or as they gazed at the statues of the soldiers and nurses at the Vietnam War memorials.

*Also, as we slowly stepped along the Wall of Remembrance there at the Vietnam Memorial, Dick asked me, "If every American abortion victim had a name on panels like these, how far would we have to walk to reach the end of them?" Too far, my friend; much, much too far.

* Following her return home from our three day experience, Ruth Denzler wrote: "I have wanted to go on the March for Life for years. I am so thankful to God and my husband for the opportunity this year to go."

"We went to the Family Research Center for a bloggers conference Wednesday morning before the March and this really impacted me. I have enjoyed Denny’s blog and knew it was a good and right thing but I did not realize the power and extent blogs have. I have viewed them as informational and a way to activate and motivate, but now I believe they are a tool that can change hearts too. There is immediate access to people, lots of people, and they have the ability to respond. What a great way to connect with someone on a fairly personal level, to answer questions and to ask questions. Information is available that is not available anywhere else. It is limitless!"

* Ruth continued, "Another thing that really touched my heart was hearing about the impact that the organization Silent No More is having on the abortion debate. For instance, at the end of the March when the immense crowds end up at the Supreme Court, there were men and women who have gone through the abortion experience sharing their stories. It was so powerful. Each one told of the agony and long term affects, both emotional and physical, that the abortion had caused. And each one told of the FREEDOM they received when they admitted their sin, repented and received God’s love and forgiveness. They each talked about the lies they had chosen to believe."

"I understand that not everyone is required by God to give such testimonies or even needs to be public about their abortion, but those that are have a great opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others both in comfort and, more important still, in preventing them from making the same tragic mistake. What an opportunity to educate and to evangelize! I would like to see them sharing in the schools and in the churches. It is certainly a prayer opportunity!! Let’s talk to our pastors and Christian Education leaders.

* Ruth concluded her note with this. "The March itself was very exciting. It was great to be a part of history and to be encouraged by the numbers of so many like-minded people. But, as we've talked about for many years, it was also disappointing to note the lack of Protestant participation."

* After returning home, Ruth sent over some photos, including those illustrating this post. She also watched a tape of the C-Span coverage of the March and was impressed all over again. "Just finished watching the March on television. WOW! A much better perspective of just how large it is! So sad and solemn...yet powerful, determined and encouraging." Then knowing that I might post her comments, Ruth added a little message for visitors to Vital Signs Blog: "Next January, if you haven’t gone to the March for Life for awhile, I would strongly encourage you to go. Don’t just consider it, do it!"

More comments from Claire and I about the March tomorrow.

Republicans Behaving Like Democrats

"Republicans can always cut a bipartisan deal if they behave like Democrats."

Cal Thomas has a lot more to say about the fiscal irresponsibility of the G.O.P. in this column.

With No Regrets and a Clear Conscience: Chuck Norris' Support of Huckabee

Chuck Norris' column today will give you some important points to ponder: points about Mike Huckabee, about the other folks in the race, and about the importance of being true to your convictions instead of simply playing pragmatics.

...When I backed Mike Huckabee for president, I didn't do so because he was a front-runner, could beat Hillary, had lots of money, or because his presidency would advance my humanitarian efforts or increase my pocketbook. I endorsed him because I agree with his platform, trust in his integrity, relate with his poor upbringing and support for average citizens, value his 11 years of service as governor of Arkansas, and believe in his vision for a better America.

I want Mike to win -- the nomination then the presidency. But whether he wins or is offered the position of vice president or a position in the cabinet, my wife, Gena, and I can sleep at night and move forward into the future because we've lived true to our convictions, principles and beliefs. We cannot experience buyer's remorse with Mike Huckabee because we know, win or lose, he could lead our nation into a better and prosperous tomorrow. And he will continue to do so, as he has done for the past 20 years, whether he's the president or not...

California Abortionists Busted

"Bertha Bugarin has had a heck of a time keeping abortionists over the years. It looks like when she couldn't get one of her quack abortionists in the office, she did the job herself," Operation Rescue president Troy Newman said.

"Bertha is a predator who has a mercenary attitude about abortions. Laws mean nothing to her, as is the case with so many abortionists," he added. "She prefers to target Hispanic communities with her mills, presumably since women there may not be in the country legally and will be less likely to report problems. The sooner Bertha and all of her cohorts are convicted and behind bars, the better."

Read more about this California case (including a police raid, prosecution efforts, and the notable request by police for help from pro-life activists) in this story.

Help Stop the Religious Persecution in this Colorado Democrat Scam

The Family Research Council exposes a sinister Democrat scam and asks for our help in stopping it from going any further. Check it out...

Colorado's House Majority Leader, Alice Madden (Democrat, photo at right), is unwittingly providing a lesson in political gamesmanship to the religious community and everyone should take note.

Last year the Colorado legislature enacted a state version of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which forces businesses to forfeit their religious convictions in matters of firing, hiring, and promotion regardless of a person's faith, age, gender, or sexual orientation. In a classic move to abate opposition from the religious community, they exempted religious organizations like Catholic Charities and the Salvation Army that provide social services.

Madden, who supported the exemption last year, has now introduced H.B. 1080, a bill that would put religious charities under these onerous requirements and clearly violate the religious tenets of many of them. This is just another example of the growing tendency to use religious exemptions to lull Christian groups into a false security only to pull those exemptions out from under them later on.

The area's religious organizations are understandably upset at the leadership's about-face on the law and intend to do all they can to stop it. As Archbishop Charles Chaput of the Catholic Archdiocese of Denver wrote, "Catholic Charities has no interest at all in generic dogoodism... When it can no longer have the freedom it needs to be 'Catholic,' it will end its services."

That would be devastating news to the disadvantaged families in the area who for the last 33 years have relied on the generosity of such religious charities.

In my opinion, Madden has to be pretty desperate to make a political point if she's willing to let people go hungry and homeless to do it. Not only does her bill show a callous disregard for the poor, but it also treads on dangerous constitutional grounds. It implicitly discriminates against religious groups and churches. Colorado's assembly should be ashamed of any attempt to sideline charities that perform valuable community services.

Join us in calling on Rep. Madden to reconsider H.B. 1080 by emailing her at

John McCain: The ACU Rating Shows He Ain't All That Conservative

Senator John McCain's lifetime rating of 82.3% from the American Conservative Union is often cited as proof that he is conservative. Here is a closer look at that 82.3 rating.

First, a rating of 82.3 is not really that high. It puts Senator McCain in 39th place among senators serving in 2006, the latest year for which the ACU has its ratings posted online. For that most recent year in particular, McCain scored only 65, putting him in 47th place for that year. Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Chuck Hagel (R-NE), for example, scored 64 and 75, respectively, in 2006.

Generally, McCain has voted less conservatively in more recent years. His average for 1990-97 was 88, but was only 74 for 1998-2006...

What this means is that McCain's ACU ratings since 1998 put him on the liberal side among Republicans. The few Republicans consistently more liberal than McCain would be Chafee (formerly R-RI), Collins (R-ME), Snowe (R-ME) and Specter (R-PA). One could expect senators from northeastern states to be more liberal since their constituencies demand it, but McCain represents the fairly conservative state of Arizona. (Arizona's other senator, Kyl, has a lifetime rating of 96.9, and half the representatives from there have ratings of 94.7 or higher.)

How much more liberal would McCain vote if his constituency put even the slightest pressure on him in that direction?

(Source: "McCain's ACU Ratings" by Randall Hoven in today's American Thinker.)

Liberal Selectivity: College President Who Banned a Chapel Cross Gives OK to "Sex Workers Art Show"

"My views and the views of others in the community about the worth or offensiveness of the program can provide no basis for censoring it."

The above line is from Gene Nichol, President of the College of William and Mary, referring to the "Sex Workers Art Show" to be held on the college campus. The show presents performances by striptease dancers, prostitutes and "other sex workers" with the stated goal being to "dispel the myth that (the performers) are anything short of artists, innovators, and geniuses."

How sweet...and how tolerant...and how devoted to academic freedom is President Nichol.

Except, of course, when it comes to something really inappropriate and offensive like...say, the cross which he ordered removed from its historic place in the school's chapel. Remember that case? If not, here's a couple of Vital Signs Blog posts about the strange selectivity of this fellow: 1 and 2.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Today's Posts

American Youth Sound Off About the Right to Life

Happy Birthday, Norman Rockwell!

The Horrible Holocaust Created by Roe v Wade

The Profanity of the Opera: Protesting Jerry Springer

What If We Held A Presidential Election And No One (Of Substance) Ran?

Ask Not for Whom the Opinion Polls...

Will John McCain Dis CPAC Again This Year?

American Youth Sound Off About the Right to Life

Tomorrow I'll post the rest of our team's reflections from this year's March for Life in Washington, D.C. But, I'll close today's postings with this link to an inspiring, joyful video created by the Population Research Institute.

Happy Birthday, Norman Rockwell!

Well, okay; it's not his birthday quite yet. That's coming up (the centenary, no less) on February 3rd. But headlining it now will give you time to get your party together.

And to properly prepare for it, you'll have to read through Don Feder's brief but delightful tribute to America's favorite artist. Check it out right here.

And for more info, you might take a look at the online site of the Norman Rockwell Museum, the "official site" of the artist, and the Rockwell Gallery Collection.

The Horrible Holocaust Created by Roe v Wade

This past Tuesday marked the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Since that fateful decision, over 48.5 million children have perished at the hands of abortionists. One out of every four children conceived in America will be killed by an abortionist. In 2003 alone, more children died from abortion than the total number of Americans who died in the Revolutionary War, Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, and Gulf War combined. Two-thirds of all abortions are performed on single women. Statistically, the womb has become the most dangerous place in America.

This war against unborn children has been waged by white-coated mercenaries who are paid to carry out surgical strikes against defenseless human targets. Their techniques are effective—1.21 million casualties in 2005. Not content to merely wage war against the unborn in the operating room, however, the abortion industry has expanded the theater of action. Chemical warfare is now waged against the unborn. RU-486, the abortion pill, is hailed as a "quick and easy" chemical-induced abortion. With FDA approval of the deadly drug in 2000, the casualty count from "killing through chemistry" can be expected to grow.

In Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court adopted a disposable-man ethic. The Court decided that the taking of an unborn child's life was a matter of "choice" to be determined by the needs and desires of others. This disposable view of human life has adversely affected our culture on many levels. Beyond the millions of unborn babies who have been killed, the last 35 years have led our culture to accept the idea of killing the elderly and handicapped. What is the justification for such heinous acts? Their quality of life didn't measure up to someone else's subjective standard of perfection and they had become "inconvenient." And no doubt, they would have wanted us to end their lives anyway.

The disposable man ethic has also negatively impacted the frontier of science. We now take lightly the destruction of millions of human embryos in the hope that we might possibly find a cure for some diseases. What is the justification for this experimentation? Pure utilitarianism. By killing these tiny embryonic human beings, we offer hope for larger ones. In the process, we have adopted the notion that it is acceptable to sacrifice some members of the human family in the hope that, by their deaths, we might save others or at least improve their quality of life. Of course, those being sacrificed have no choice in the matter...

History will not look kindly upon our cruelty toward the unborn. Theologian and author Francis Schaffer rightly noted in his book, Whatever Happened to the Human Race, that the character of a society will be judged by the way it treats its most vulnerable members. Sadly, the history of the destruction of our unborn children is a stain on America’s character that will not go away.

Ken Connor, the lawyer who represented Governor Jeb Bush in the Terri Schiavo case, is the Chairman of the Center for a Just Society and a Town Hall columnist. This column, marking the 35 years of legalized (yet still barbaric) practice of abortion, is one of his most most compelling.

The Profanity of the Opera: Protesting Jerry Springer

"Jerry Springer the Opera" easily qualifies as one of the worst blasphemies ever to make the public stage. And now the heretofore honored stage to be desecrated by this lewd production is none other than Carnegie Hall.

Just what will playgoers see featured in this "entertainment" package on January 29th and 30th?

* The crucifixion of Jesus is mocked as are many Christian religious rites.

* Jesus is introduced as “the hypocrite son of the fascist tyrant on high.” He wears a diaper, is fat and effeminate and says: “Actually, I am a bit gay.”

* Nudity abounds in a profanity-laced production where nothing is sacred.

* Eve gropes Jesus in a manner too indecent to describe while the Annunciation is described as a rape.

* God is a fat man in a white suit who complains about being blamed for everyone’s problems. He invites Jerry Springer to join Him to “sit in Heaven beside me, hold my hand and guide me.” At the end, Jerry emerges as the true savior of mankind.

The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP) has, quite rightly, organized a public protest of this indecent production and those of you living in the NYC area are invited to participate. However, the rest of us can act too by spreading the word about this grossly offensive "musical" and signing this online petition today to be sent to Carnegie Hall officials.

For more, if you can stand some of the offensive language used in the play, here's another account. And here is a Vital Signs Blog post from a couple of years ago about the London production with a link to Ian Cooper's review of the same.

What If We Held A Presidential Election And No One (Of Substance) Ran?

What on earth has the Republican Party gotten itself into?

Adam Graham gives as good a wrap-up of the G.O.P.'s paltry platoon of presidential candidates as I've seen yet in "The Evil of Five Lessers" over on NewsByUs. To make sure you don't miss it, I print it here in its entirety...almost.

Rarely has our Republican Party faced a choice as difficult as the one we face in the current presidential nomination process. The five men running for President are horribly flawed. From these five, Republicans must choose a nominee.

The media-designated front-runner is John McCain. Senator McCain is a hero of great distinction in the military. For the first 14 years of his Congressional Career, he was a rock solid Conservative. Since then, John McCain has championed the monstrous campaign finance reform bill, favors taxpayer financing of unethical embryonic stem cell research, has called those of us who oppose his amnesty plan bigots, has proposed onerous environmental regulations that would wreck our economy, and opposed giving tax cuts to the American people.

He supports creating a racialized Native Hawaiian Government, which would undermine not only US sovereignty, but US unity. He has been in support of the International Criminal Court and the Law of the Sea Treaty. In essence, combined with his stance on open borders, McCain is one of the worst opponents of American sovereignty that exist within our borders.

At the same time, the one-time frontrunner Rudy Giuliani is unacceptable due to his pro-abortion stance that is to the left of the mainstream of the Republican Party. The three-time nominee of New York’s Liberal Party insists he helped bring down abortions and encourage adoptions, but a study of his statements as mayor found no evidence to back that up. Abortion rates went down nationally due to the hard work of pro-life workers, with little help from pro-abortion politicos. Rudy might as well take credit for the Yankees’ 4 World Championships, he had as much to do with them as he did the falling abortion rate.

Ron Paul, if we’re honest, represents the most consistently conservative economic views in the race with a proud record of opposing taxes. Unlike other candidates, Ron Paul gives a hoot about what the Founding Fathers have written. Glenn Beck says that Paul is the closest thing we have to a Founding Father in this race and he’s right as far as ideology goes. In terms of wisdom, not so much. If Paul is to be believed, for years, racist and anti-Semitic material was published under his name and he did nothing to stop it. Paul, also having been given an amazing war chest, has shown that raising money does you no good, if you have no clue how to manage it. The level of Paul’s naivette on foreign policy is an issue that you could write reams on. Paul might make an interesting protest candidate, but not a good president.

Then we have Mike Huckabee, who has been vilified beyond measure in the blogosphere. Huckabee is not a fire breathing liberal. While his pardon and clemency record indicates flaws in judgment, his economic and spending records were little worse than those of most Republican governors of his era. Finding a Republican governor elected around that time who reduced government and avoided tax increases is harder than finding Waldo. Huckabee is average, or perhaps above average, for Republican governors in America. Given that most of our Presidents in recent years once served as Governors, perhaps the best way to insure we get a consistent conservative candidate for president is to insist on a consistent conservative governor.

Despite his record, Huckabee has signed a pledge not to increase taxes, he supports the Fair Tax, and has a solid plan to secure the nation’s borders, this plus he’s trustworthy on social conservative issues of concern. Huckabee’s fatal flaw is that at this point, he looks like a man running for the position of John McCain’s Vice-President. Either the Governor doesn’t understand that McCain has a paid staff that’s more than able to respond to Mitt Romney, or his constant defenses of the Senator are a tryout for the Vice-Presidency.

Huckabee may even be able to force the issue with his Southern strategy. He’s set to win several Southern States on the strength of the Evangelical Christian vote, while McCain and Romney will be competing neck and neck in other states. Under this scenario, we’ll get the fantasy of every political junkie: a brokered convention. Except, it will be pretty cut and dried: Huckabee will release delegates to McCain, provided McCain makes him the Vice-President.

Being the Vice-President of a 72 year-old cancer survivor who already looks beyond his years increases your chances of reaching the White House as its less likely the candidate will seek a second term and even possibly not be able to finish his term, allowing Huckabee to, for the second time in his career, ascend to a position he could not have won as an open seat (the first time was when he ascended to the Governorship on the resignation of Jim Guy Tucker.) As I’m not interested in making John McCain president, I’m not interested in Huckabee.

Then there’s Mitt Romney. I’ve written about the flip-flops before. However, the man also has an excellent family and a strong business record. Mitt looks and sounds Presidential. The pity of the campaign is that, quite frankly, you cannot trust him. A video record caught Romney on tape telling fundraisers to “promise anything” to potential donors. While Romney clearly meant in terms of primary victories, the phrase could describe his entire effort.

Every time he hits a must-win state, there’s a new promise. In Michigan, $20 billion a year was promised for automotive and energy research (hope he can do that while fulfilling the promise I heard him make Nevada to hold the growth of spending to Inflation –1%) and in Florida, he promised to do away with the payroll taxes on workers over age 65, thus speeding the decline of Social Security in order to score points with Florida seniors. If Romney’s going to get be the nominee, it better happen soon, before he has to make any more eleven-figure campaign promises that it anyone’s guess as to whether he’ll try and keep them.

In the end, Conservatives face an unenviable choice of our own making. We didn’t pay attention to the process until our best chances for a good choice had gone down the drain. Conservatives must get involved sooner and with a greater level of commitment. We must demand better candidates and then fight for them when they get in...

Ask Not for Whom the Opinion Polls...

Dr. Christopher Blunt earned his PhD in political science from UCLA before working as a study director and analyst with Market Strategies, Inc. for a dozen years. In 2003, he started his own public opinion consulting practice, Overbrook Research. His analysis has helped shape Republican campaign strategies nationally and in many individual states.

In a very interesting interview with MercatorNet, Dr. Blunt gives readers a view of how polls work, how they can be abused, and how they can be more effectively interpreted. Here's a few excerpts:

...MercatorNet: After decades of polling, how is it that pollsters still get things wrong? Is it more an art than a science?

Blunt: There is a science to drawing a sample that is representative of the population, which allows us to extrapolate from that sample to the electorate as a whole. However, a survey is not a census; there is a margin of error associated with every poll. A larger sample can reduce this margin of error, but nothing can eliminate it. Professional pollsters are usually very accurate in gauging public opinion, as we have developed excellent standards for sampling and balanced question wording.

One of the big challenges we’re facing going forward, however, is the difficulty of interviewing people who have "cut the cord" and are using only cellular phones. Because cell phones usually have charges for incoming calls, pollsters do not include these numbers in their samples. As increasing numbers of people are leaving their landlines behind, we’re finding it increasingly difficult to get younger voters in our samples. We have ways of compensating for it, but this is going to be a serious issue in the future...

MercatorNet: People often like to score points in policy debates by invoking a poll that shows that a majority of American approve of, say, stem cell research or more restrictions on immigration. But opponents can often throw back contradictory figures. Can polls on social mores be trusted?

Blunt: Polls on nearly any subject can be trusted if they are conducted fairly, but polls on contentious social mores perhaps need to be examined particularly closely in this regard. When a major player in such a debate (for example, a biotech company that would profit from embryonic stem cell research, or a business group that profits from cheap immigrant labor) releases a poll purporting to show that that public agrees with their side of the debate, readers should take a very hard look at the question wording. Were arguments or messages given for one side but not the other? Was each side in the debate fully and fairly represented, or was one side more of a straw man than the other? Were respondents simply asked if they agree with favorable statements, or were they given the choice of two sides on the issue?

MercatorNet: What are the three most important questions voters should ask to assess whether a poll is meaningful?

Blunt: First, who is the sponsor of the poll and what is that organization’s motive? Second, were the questions worded and presented in a fair and balanced manner? Finally, how consistent are the results with other polls on the same subject?...

(By the way, Dr. Blunt and his wife are Catholic homeschooling parents of three kids. They also own and operate a five-acre sustainable agriculture operation which raises pastured poultry, dairy goats, purebred Icelandic sheep, heritage turkeys, geese, ducks, and free range laying hens. An intriguing fellow, huh?)

Will John McCain Dis CPAC Again This Year?

Remember how John McCain bumbled, stumbled and fumbled away his opportunities at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington last year?

It became a most unfunny circus for McCain as he first rejected the CPAC's invitation to speak, then announced he would rent a room at the hotel to personally confab with delegates, then failed to come through with even that. Will this year be any different? Will McCain's dissing of the G.O.P.'s true-blue conservatives continue? Or will he employ a new strategy to try and win over those conservative activists his campaign will so desperately need to win (if he gets that far) in November?

John Fund examines this important matter in his Wall Street Journal column today.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Today's Posts

Recalling the March for Life "Field Trip"

J.I. Packer Looks at the Self-Destructing Anglican Church

European Union Court Forcing Homosexual Adoption Into French Law; Other Countries to Follow

Will John McCain "Be No Friend to Conservatives in the White House"?

Is Huckabee Aiming for VP?

Obama's Oops!

It's Ten O'Clock: Do You Know Where Your Money Is?

Recalling the March for Life "Field Trip"

Below I print a quick assortment of items from my March for Life 2008 notebook. I'll give a few more (and perhaps also some remarks from Claire, Bev, Ruth and Dick) in the days to come. The notebook also covers other activities besides the March itself and, for this year's three-day field trip, that meant visits to Arlington Cemetery, the various monuments, our prayer tour of the Court and Capitol, the Blogs 4 Life conference, a fascinating visit to the bell ringers room of the National Cathedral, the new International Spy Museum, the National Gallery of Art, and more. Here we go...

* As a Christian I well understand that the personalities of the dead are not present in the graves that hold their remains. Nevertheless, I felt a sense of satisfaction that the grave of William Rehnquist, one of the two persons on the Supreme Court who voted against the travesty of Roe v Wade, was not in the same little collection at Arlington Cemetery where abortion supporters William J. Brennan, Jr., Potter Stewart, Thurgood Marshall, and Harry Blackmun were interred all in a row.

The bodies of William O. Douglas and Warren Burger, two others who voted for Roe are also there at Arlington. The two other members of the Burger Court who presided over the case are also dead now but buried elsewhere. Abortion supporter Lewis F. Powell, Jr. was interred in Richmond, Virginia whereas pro-life stalwart Byron White's remains are in Denver, Colorado.

* Harry Blackmun's headstone has etched into it these words: "Honesty. Integrity. Compassion. Courage." An ironic claim indeed for the architect of the decision which unleashed the cruel holocaust of abortion on America's preborn children.

* One of the most disturbing moments of our time at Arlington was when I noticed some teenage girls playing cards in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The girls were part of a Catholic school group in town for the March for Life the next day. The fact that they were so uncaringly oblivious to the solemn, sacred atmosphere of the Tomb was remarkable enough. But that none of their classmates or even adult sponsors would put a stop to their crass behavior was more troubling still.

* Our prayer meeting at the steps of the Supreme Court Monday night was intense. And, despite the darkness and the cold, we spent quite a bit of time there interceding with God for our nation and for the Church. After a while, we turned our faces west towards the Capitol and prayed for Congress and the weighty matters that our Representatives and Senators are charged to act upon. We continued our prayers for various government agencies as we drove through Washington and, as we came to the White House, for President Bush and his successor. Finally, a few more prayers as we walked around the Vietnam War Wall and memorial statuary, the Korean War Memorial and the Lincoln Memorial. It was a profoundly moving evening.

* The Blogs 4 Life Conference hosted by the Family Research Council was quite good this year. Being in town more for the March for Life than anything, we did not take in the afternoon sessions nor were we even able to hear the last speaker of the morning but the ones we did catch (except for a couple of clunkers) were really good. We were especially enlightened and encouraged by Jill Stanek, Barbara Curtis, Dawn Eden, Sam Brownback, Judie Brown, Phil Kline, Maggie Datiles and, of course, long-time pro-life champion, Chris Smith (photo at left). We would have liked to hear more from Kevin McCullough too but his duties as emcee limited him to just introducing others.

Barbara's testimony was rich and joyous and her counsel on blog improvement was terrific. Jill is savvy, engaging and, like Barbara, very practical. Her unassuming honesty and helpfulness to other pro-life bloggers is of tremendous value. Also, Dawn's advice on how blogs must evolve with the new technologies was spot on.

Then came the other speakers...folks who didn't have much to say about blogging philosophy or technique, but who nevertheless had content-oriented talks we could all use. Brownback served as a cheerleader for a "pro-life, whole-life" perspective and for the fellow he's endorsed for President, John McCain. Maggie gave an interesting review of the dramatic escalation of pro-life legislative efforts. Judie Brown gave a polite and relevant reminder (especially in light of Maggie's presentation and another by Michael New) that educational activity is what's really moving the decline in surgical abortions. Kline's spirited talk dealt with his experience against such heavyweight foes as abortionist George Tiller, abortion supporter and disgraced adulterer Paul Morrison, the mainstream media and Planned Parenthood.

And finally, Chris Smith. The veteran New Jersey Congressman who has been a pro-life and human rights hero for so many years was in fine form that morning. First off, he punctured Barack Obama's recent hypocrisy over the "empathy deficit." Then he reiterated the grim wickedness being performed by Planned Parenthood and fellow-travelers. He explained how there is a new push for abortion around the world being led by Planned Parenthood, the United Nations, ngo's like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, and the Communists of China. And with these new waves of death that break the bodies of unborn children come other horrors too, including an escalation in human trafficking.

With Smith concluding, it was time for us to book down to the March in time to catch all the activities there and so we bundled up, unfurled our banners and headed out for a 12-block walk to the mall. What we saw and heard there? Well, that's for the next Vital Signs Blog posts, a special weekend edition that I promise to upload tomorrow night (after our sidewalk counseling and the Walk for Life down in Lincoln).

Until then...

J.I. Packer Looks at the Self-Destructing Anglican Church

Esteemed theologian J.I. Packer, former editor of Christianity Today and the author of Knowing God, is certainly one of the most influential evangelical scholars of the last century. Therefore, his conversation with David Virtue about the current crises in the Anglican Church is one we should read and ponder carefully.

European Union Court Forcing Homosexual Adoption Into French Law; Other Countries to Follow

The Daily Mail (U.K.) reports -- The European Court of Human Rights ruled on Thursday that France had acted illegally by preventing a lesbian woman from adopting a child and ordered the state to pay her £7,000 in damages The majority ruling, by 10 votes to seven, could have an impact on gay adoption laws throughout Europe

"The consequences of this decision are important," her lawyer, Caroline Mecary said in a statement. "Henceforth, France will no longer be able to refuse approval to an unmarried person on the grounds of their homosexuality. The same thing will be true for other member countries of the Council of Europe which allow adoption by unmarried people."

Will John McCain "Be No Friend to Conservatives in the White House"?

David Limbaugh warns Republicans to take a long, hard look at John McCain's record before making a leap they may well be sorry for.

...It's disappointing to watch good conservatives demean themselves by trying to present McCain as something he's not. No matter how much they spin, they can't fool conservatives familiar with McCain's record. McCain's detractors are not the ones having to stretch and massage the facts in order to turn McCain -- overnight -- into a Reagan conservative.

McCain is not only not conservative enough; he has also has built a reputation as a maverick by stabbing his party in the back -- not in furtherance of conservative principles but by betraying them. McCain delights in sticking it to his colleagues while winning accolades from the mainstream liberal media.

Former senator Rick Santorum, whose conservative credentials are beyond question, said, "I don't agree with (McCain) on hardly any issues." Santorum told radio host Mark Levin, "I just have to tell you, as a leader, as someone who had to put these coalitions together, it was always hard and we very rarely on domestic policy had any help from the senator from Arizona." Santorum said McCain has been damaging to conservative causes and would be no friend to conservatives in the White House...

Is Huckabee Aiming for VP?

...Another thing to watch for is what Mike Huckabee does. His campaign has lost some altitude since he failed to win in South Carolina but he could play a crucial role tonight in going after Mitt Romney who is performing strongly in Florida as the economy comes to increasingly dominate the campaign. Huckabee, however, has been getting some pot shots off at Romney’s business career and if he does the same tonight he could halt Romney’s surge which would help John McCain who is battling Romney for the lead in Florida.

If Huckabee does take on Romney, it will fuel rumours that his main ambition now is to be McCain’s VP—and given that McCain will be 72 by inauguration day and might well only serve one term, being the bottom half of his ticket is an appealing prospect.

(James Forsyth in the Spectator Blog)

Obama's Oops!

James Taranto, writing in the Wall Street Journal's "Best of the Web" feature, has a rather alarming tidbit about "Butterfingers Barack." Taranto asks...

Is Barack Obama ready to be president? This Los Angeles Times story gives reason for doubt:

Obama angered fellow Democrats in the Illinois Senate when he voted to strip millions of dollars from a child welfare office on Chicago's West Side. But Obama had a ready explanation: He goofed.

"I was not aware that I had voted no," he said that day in June 2002, asking that the record be changed to reflect that he "intended to vote yes."

That was not the only misfire for the former civil rights attorney first elected to the state Senate in 1996. During his eight years in state office, Obama cast more than 4,000 votes. Of those, according to transcripts of the proceedings in Springfield, he hit the wrong button at least six times.

And now he asks America to trust him with the nuclear button?