Friday, February 29, 2008

Today's Posts

China's Communist Party is Rife with Corruption, Violence and Crime: And That's from the Chief Communist!

Obama's Zealous Commitment to Homosexual Interests

Russian Orthodox Bishop Riles State Action Against Methodists

Doing Nothing Can Kill You: Nancy Pelosi's Foolish Delays on the Protect America Act

Barack Obama: Abortion's Consummate Collaborator

Deja Vu Villainy: The Ongoing Racism of Planned Parenthood

Tea with Castro? President Bush Responds to Barack Obama's Personal Diplomacy Plans

China's Communist Party is Rife with Corruption, Violence and Crime: And That's from the Chief Communist!

Last month Chinese President Hu Jintao gave a warning that the greatest threat to the Communist Party in his country was not the West, not capitalism, not even the growing desire of the people for social, economic and religious freedom. No, the greatest and most immediate threat was from the Party's internal corruption.

Hu pointed out that the increasing corruption within the Party was putting a huge burden on the Chinese people, causing bitterness, cynicism and a plummeting drop in the Party's approval rates. Hu said that things have become so bad as to represent a crisis in Chinese culture.

Crisis, huh? In fact, that's putting it mildly.

Here's a rundown on just how wild government corruption has become.

A total of 4.2 million cases of corruption have been reported at the central, provincial, and municipal levels of government. Most of the cases fall in four major categories: (1) bribery, 3,078,367 reports, (2) debauched personal life, 212,430 reports, (3) abuse of power, 457,436 reports, and (4) other violations, 469,217 reports.

Secretary He Guoqiang of the Central Committee for Discipline Inspection said further that the recent increase in corruption-related convictions indicates that corruption and abuse of power are happening on a large scale, including "malignant criminal gang activities" demonstrated in the following areas:
* 1) cross-regional, and cross-departmental smuggling,
* 2) forming factions to control local political and economic activities,
* 3) government collaboration with gangs to control cultural and entertainment venues and organize gambling, prostitution, and drug sales,
* 4) controlling securities and financial sectors and releasing false information to produce profit, and
* 5) illegally organizing para-military police forces, operating under the banner of the government and state-run enterprises, and hiring assassins to harm political and economic rivals.

Last year alone, Secretary He explained, there were 3,144 cases of assassin attacks paid for by government agencies or state-run enterprises!

Mao Tse-Tung used to say that “Communism is not love. Communism is a hammer which we use to crush the enemy.” But I don't think he ever figured that the hammer might someday crush itself.

Obama's Zealous Commitment to Homosexual Interests

..."As your President, I will use the bully pulpit to urge states to treat same-sex couples with full equality in their family and adoption laws," he wrote. "I personally believe that civil unions represent the best way to secure that equal treatment. But I also believe that the federal government should not stand in the way of states that want to decide on their own how best to pursue equality for gay and lesbian couples -- whether that means a domestic partnership, a civil union, or a civil marriage."

[Obama] once again said he backs the "complete repeal" of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a law passed in 1996 that gives states the option of not recognizing another state's "gay marriages." It also prohibits the federal government from recognizing "gay marriage." Ever since it was passed homosexual activists have viewed it as a significant legal barrier to nationwide legalization of "gay marriage."

"While some say we should repeal only part of the law, I believe we should get rid of that statute altogether," he wrote. "Federal law should not discriminate in any way against gay and lesbian couples, which is precisely what DOMA does."...

Obama also said he supports "age-appropriate sex education that includes information about contraception" and favors lifting "the federal ban on needle exchange[s]." During a September Democratic debate he said he would be comfortable with teachers reading to second graders a children's book, "King & King," supportive of "gay marriage."

In the letter he asserted that in multiple forums -- talking to rural farmers or to Baptist parishioners -- he has talked about the need to "fight homophobia."

"I believe that we can achieve the goal of full equality for the millions of LGBT people in this country," he said. "To do that, we need leadership that can appeal to the best parts of the human spirit. Join with me, and I will provide that leadership. Together, we will achieve real equality for all Americans, gay and straight alike."...

The full text of Senator Obama's letter and further details about the story are provided here by Baptist Press.

Russian Orthodox Bishop Riles State Action Against Methodists

It is sad but true that the government's persecution of certain religious citizens in Russia, Belarus and other countries formerly in the Soviet ring has historically been defended and even assisted by the Russian Orthodox Church.

Of course, some would be quick to say that the current structure of the state church does not represent the true spirit of Orthodoxy. Alexander Solzhenitsyn, for instance, grieved at how the true Church had been killed in the camps of Stalin, replaced by a system that served not the soul of Russia but rather the sinister schemes of her Communist masters.

It is still happening. Here is just one example that has recently come to light.

At the request of a Russian Orthodox bishop, the regional Public Prosecutor's Office, Organised Crime Police, Department for the Affairs of Minors, Education Department and ordinary police in Smolensk have made a series of check-ups on a local Methodist church,
Forum 18 News Service has learnt. They also forced the church to remove missionary college plans from its website.

Bishop Ignati (Punin) of Vyazma claimed the college "aims not to bring about the rebirth of the spiritual-moral foundations of the life of our people, but its spiritual destruction." He then asked the Regional Public Prosecutor "to take the measures necessary in this situation to defend the inhabitants of our city, particularly youth, from this pseudo-religious organisation."

Even though the Bishop's appeal contained no legal argument, the Public Prosecutor's Office explained to Forum 18 that it reacted because: "Any citizen or organisation may appeal to us." If a citizen suggests an organisation is harmful, but not in breach of the law, "we'll check the legality of its activity," Forum 18 was told.

Methodist Pastor Aleksandr Vtorov has filed suit for moral damages against Bishop Ignati. Intimidated by the unprecedented wave of check-ups, only five Methodists attended last Sunday's worship service, instead of the usual 36...

..."I may not like Orthodoxy, but I don't send complaints to the Public Prosecutor," Pastor Vtorov remarked to Forum 18. "There should be an anti-monopoly commission for religion, like there is in the economic sphere!"

Doing Nothing Can Kill You: Nancy Pelosi's Foolish Delays on the Protect America Act

...On Feb. 14, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi decided to send the members of the House home on vacation instead of having them vote on extending the Protect America Act, a measure that already had passed in the U.S. Senate 68-29. The bill, among other things, provides civil immunity for private companies that assist U.S. intelligence agencies in intercepting terrorist communications to, from or through the United States. With the House adjourned, the PAA expired -- and Americans became instantly more vulnerable.

As might be expected in the midst of a presidential election year, Republicans and administration officials immediately went to the airwaves and print to decry Pelosi's decision. Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell took the unusual step of appearing on Fox News Channel to point out that termination of the PAA "introduces a level of uncertainty that is going to be very difficult for us."

Now, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., who backed the bill in the Senate, assures us that he's "going to work something out" with his House colleagues, but he refuses to speculate about how long that might take. Meanwhile private-sector telecom executives, wary of legal assaults from shareholders and "public interest" groups, are understandably reluctant to assist U.S. officials in breaking into terrorist communications. Concerns about what we may be missing -- and the immediate risk of a major terrorist attack -- go well beyond Washington politics.

Given the enormous flow of global voice and data communications, any interruption or delay in collecting "signals intelligence" jeopardizes the ability of analysts to determine and disseminate whether, where, how and when a terrorist organization may be planning an attack. That's what happened in the months leading up to 9/11 -- and the kind of vulnerability the PAA was designed to redress. Here's why U.S. and allied defense, security and intelligence officers are so worried about being deaf and blind right now...

The rest of Oliver North's column (an important though infuriating one) is over here.

Barack Obama: Abortion's Consummate Collaborator

Former Director of Media Relations for the National Right to Life Committee, Laura Echevarria takes a careful look at how Barack Obama, the Democrat candidate for President who speaks so regularly of hope, compassion, justice and treading new paths of peace, actually treads a very old and tragic path when it comes to the barbaric violence against preborn children.

Here is the important piece she wrote for

Deja Vu Villainy: The Ongoing Racism of Planned Parenthood

One of our regular prayers is, "Lord, please expose the shame and scandal of Planned Parenthood to the public." Here, from the Family Research Council, is one important instance of that prayer's answer.

Racism Alive and Well at Planned Parenthood

A shocking set of recordings was released this week that could prove disastrous for Planned Parenthood's ties with the African-American community. Lila Rose, a pro-life student and reporter at UCLA, launched an undercover investigation aimed at exposing the racism of the nation's largest abortion merchant. With the help of an actor, she contacted Planned Parenthood clinics in seven states, inquiring if they would be willing to accept a donation earmarked for the abortion of black babies. The results were jaw-dropping.

Rose was appalled to discover that every last clinic agreed. Not one employee objected or questioned the request, even when the actor insisted that the purpose was to "lower the number of black people" in America. When the caller phoned an Ohio branch, he was told that Planned Parenthood "will accept the money for whatever reason." Read the outrageous transcript from the Idaho clinic, which is also available with Rose's other recordings in a montage right here.

Actor: ...I really faced trouble with affirmative action, and I don't want my kids to be disadvantaged against black kids.
Planned Parenthood: Yes, absolutely.
Actor: And we don't, you know, we just think the less black kids out there the better.
Planned Parenthood: (Laughs) Understandable, understandable... This is the first time I've had a donor call and make this kind of request, so I'm excited and want to make sure I don't leave anything out.

Students at UCLA are so infuriated by the investigation that they are petitioning the university to cut all affiliation with Planned Parenthood. What few people realize is that the organization has a history of racism that has been ingrained since Planned Parenthood's earliest days, when founder Margaret Sanger advocated negative eugenics and spoke to a woman's branch of the KKK (Margaret Sanger, An Autobiography, 1938, p. 336-367). However, as is customary for Planned Parenthood, the organization has managed for decades to cover its tracks--and the facts. That task has just been made monumentally more difficult. Abortion has
taken the innocent lives of over 14 million black children--a national tragedy that has begun uniting and mobilizing African-Americans across party, state, and financial lines.

Today, FRC hosted a press conference to kick off the National Black Pro-Life Gathering in Washington, D.C. which drew pastors, parents, leaders, and activists from across America to commemorate Black History Month by calling on abortion merchants like Planned Parenthood to stop preying on their community. As these abortion clinics continue to demonstrate that blood money is not colorblind, we call on Congress to de-fund and disavow Planned Parenthood. Taxpayers should not be forced to spend over $300 million on an organization whose scruples are for sale, even to those who seek racial genocide.

Denny adds this note --

Appropriate to this tragic topic are the words of Jesse Jackson back in 1977: "There are those who argue that the right to privacy is of [a] higher order than the right to life...that was the premise of slavery. You could not protest the existence or treatment of slaves on the plantation because that was private and therefore outside your right to be concerned.

"What happens to the mind of a person, and the moral fabric of a nation, that accepts the aborting of the life of a baby without a pang of conscience? What kind of a person and what kind of a society will we have 20 years hence if life can be taken so casually? It is that question, the question of our attitude, our value system, and our mind-set with regard to the nature and worth of life itself that is the central question confronting mankind. Failure to answer that question affirmatively may leave us with a hell right here on earth."

Tea with Castro? President Bush Responds to Barack Obama's Personal Diplomacy Plans

Perhaps Barack Obama is thinking that foreign leaders (including such thugs as Hugo Chavez, Kim Jong II, Alexander Lukashenka, and Raul Castro) will fall over him as much as the American press corps has if he wins the presidency. At least that seems to be the hope behind his plan to to begin a new era in personal diplomacy -- sitting down to talk with America's enemies without preconditions and without proper concerns for how our enemies will manipulate such events.

Obama has been emphasizing this theme, insisting that it is one of the ways he will be dramatically different from other presidents and, of course, different too from both Hillary Clinton and John McCain.

So what does President Bush think about Barack Obama's idea of tea party diplomacy?

...At a news conference where Bush showed unusual passion for a president in his waning months, he said “now is not the time” to talk with Castro.

“What's lost ... by embracing a tyrant who puts his people in prison because of their political beliefs?” he said. “What's lost is, it'll send the wrong message. It'll send a discouraging message to those who wonder whether America will continue to work for the freedom of prisoners. It'll give great status to those ... who have suppressed human rights and human dignity.

“The idea of embracing a leader who's done this, without any attempt on his part to ... release prisoners and free their society, would be counterproductive and send the wrong signal.”

Warming to the subject, Bush continued: “Sitting down at the table, having your picture taken with a tyrant such as Raul Castro, for example, lends the status of the office and the status of our country to him. He gains a lot from it by saying, 'Look at me. I'm now recognized by the president of the United States.'”

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Today's Posts

Remembering Larry Norman: The "Vital Signs" Interview

Do You Know How Planned Parenthood Is Spending Your Money?

His License Was Yanked 5 Times But He's Driving a School Bus?

Hastening Death to Get the Organs

The Passing of William F. Buckley

Missile Deal Being Finalized: Eastern Europe Repels Russian Bullying

Bob Geldof: "Bush Has Saved Millions of Lives in Africa"

Remembering Larry Norman: The "Vital Signs" Interview

A bit further down in today's posts, I comment on the passing of William F. Buckley. But I have learned from a Gina Dalfonzo post over on The Point that another man for whom I had great respect has also died, Larry Norman.

Norman, the singularly talented musician who has often been referred to as “the Father of Christian Rock,” died of heart failure early Sunday morning at his home in Corpus Christi, Texas. He was 60.

Larry Norman's career took off in 1966 when he fronted for the psychedelic rock group People! who had a hit single in 1968 with a cover of the Zombies' “I Love You.” (YouTube clip here.) The album containing that single also had Larry's "We Need A Whole Lot More of Jesus, and a Lot Less Rock and Roll." He left the group soon afterward, unveiling his solo career in 1969 with the Capitol Records album, Upon This Rock. The music ruffled a lot of feathers in established Christian circles but was liked by many rock musicians (including Paul McCartney, Johnny Cash, Charlie Daniels, Petula Clark, and Van Morrison) and was enthusiastically embraced by the young Christians in the Jesus Movement.

Norman later described his intentions in those early days in an interview with the magazine Contemporary Musicians: "I wanted to push aside the traditional gospel quartet music, break down the church doors and let the hippies and the prostitutes and other unwashed rabble into the sanctuary...I wanted to talk about feeding the poor, going into the world....[I felt that] most of the modern music was anemic and needed a transfusion."

His second solo album was done for MGM Records in 1972 with the assistance of Beatles producer George Martin. It was Only Visiting This Planet and contained the powerful anthems "Why Should The Devil Have All The Good Music" and "I Wish We'd All Been Ready." Other albums So Long Ago the Garden, In Another Land, and four others followed.

He had been in a terrible airplane crash many years ago and had battled heart disease for a long time but the day before he died, Larry typed out a message on his computer that included these dramatic lines: "I feel like a prize in a box of cracker jacks with God's hand reaching down to pick me up. I have been under medical care for months. My wounds are getting bigger. I have trouble breathing. I am ready to fly home."

Here from September 2002 is the 15-minute conversation I had with Larry Norman for "Vital Signs" radio. I think you'll find it heartwarming and compelling.

Happy homecoming, Larry.

Do You Know How Planned Parenthood Is Spending Your Money?

After reviewing materials posted on Planned Parenthood's Web site at the request of Cybercast News Service, three House Republicans are calling for the termination of Planned Parenthood's federal funding. Among other things, teenwire promotes the use of pornography by teenagers.

Rep. Doug Lamborn (R.-Colo.) said teenwire "is another reason we should pull all federal funding from Planned Parenthood," a group that also performs abortions.

"There should be no money that goes to any Internet site that promotes promiscuity or sexual license in any way," Rep. Steve King
(R.-Iowa) [photo at left] told Cybercast News Service.

"I don't believe taxpayer funding should be going to groups that put sexually explicit material on the Internet targeted at minors," Rep. Joseph Pitts (R.-Pa.), chairman of the House Values Action Team, said...

Read more of this excellent CNS story right here. And then, using this page, why not forward the story to your Senators and Congressmen? It is way, way past time our government bureaucrat stop using our tax money to finance the racist, violent, deceitful and decadent organization that is Planned Parenthood.

His License Was Yanked 5 Times But He's Driving a School Bus?

Ah, the efficiency of our government schools.

School officials in Prince George's County (Maryland) said the driver charged with speeding, negligent driving and not wearing a seat belt in a school-bus accident yesterday that injured dozens of students (at least 4 seriously) had met the district's requirements.

Well, yeah, he has had his license suspended five different times for such offenses as driving without a license, driving without a registration, failing to obey a stop sign (he didn't even bother to show up in court for that one), operating a vehicle without current license plates, and driving the wrong way down a one-way street.

Said school spokesman John White, "We felt he had a significant amount of time with a good driving record and, with some training, he could be a good driver."

Hastening Death to Get the Organs

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — On a winter night in 2006, a disabled and brain damaged man named Ruben Navarro was wheeled into an operating room at a hospital here. By most accounts, Mr. Navarro, 25, was near death, and doctors hoped that he might sustain other lives by donating his kidneys and liver.

But what happened to Mr. Navarro quickly went from the potentially life-saving to what law enforcement officials say was criminal. In what transplant experts believe is the first such case in the country, prosecutors have charged the surgeon, Dr. Hootan C. Roozrokh, with prescribing excessive and improper doses of drugs, apparently in an attempt to hasten Mr. Navarro’s death to retrieve his organs sooner.

A preliminary hearing begins here on Wednesday, with Dr. Roozrokh facing three felony counts relating to Mr. Navarro’s treatment as a donor. At the heart of the case is whether Dr. Roozrokh, who studied at a transplant fellowship program at the Stanford University School of Medicine, was pursuing organs at any cost or had become entangled in a web of misunderstanding about a lesser-used harvesting technique known as “donation after cardiac death.”

Dr. Roozrokh has pleaded not guilty, and his lawyer said the charges were the result of overzealous prosecutors. But the case has sent a shudder through the tight-knit field of transplant surgeons — if convicted on all counts, Dr. Roozrokh could face eight years in prison — while also worrying donation advocacy groups that organ donors could be frightened away...

Read the rest of this New York Times story here.

The Passing of William F. Buckley

The death of William F. Buckley hit hard.

Like so many others, Bill Buckley has been a hero to me all my life. As a conservative; as an intellectual force; and as a man of letters, Bill Buckley was an inspiration and mentor.

My conservatism was nurtured by his newspaper columns, his books, and his superb magazine, National Review.

My love of the English language and my ambition to deliver cogent but courteous arguments came largely from his television program, "Firing Line."

And through Buckley's superb example of wit and wisdom, his love of life, his patriotism and life of public service, his joyous commitment to family, his defense of Catholic values, his famously rich vocabulary, his incomparable work ethic, and his unique élan, the lives of countless Americans, mine included, have been made richer and more productive.

He will be greatly missed. But his influence and body of work will continue to move the conservative revolution forward. Thank you, Mr. Buckley.

Among the articles commenting on Bill Buckley's passing I would most recommend: American Conservative Union's Chairman David A. Keene's statement; John O'Sullivan's reflections for Radio Free Europe; Adam Daifallah's detailed obituary published in Canada's National Post; Ben Johnson's article in; various tributes collected by American Spectator; and, of course, today's entire issue of National Review Online.

Missile Deal Being Finalized: Eastern Europe Repels Russian Bullying

Yesterday's meeting between Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek (photo at left) and President George Bush moved the United States and the Czech Republic very close to sealing the deal on a missile defense radar system on Czech soil. The complete plan involves a radar installation in the Czech Republic as well as 10 interceptor missiles in Poland.

Russia continues to stridently protest the move, claiming that the system creates a new arms race and threatens Russia's interests. And, of course, if Russia's "interests" involve bullying eastern Europe again, it darn well does!

But President Bush, nearing completion of what may well be one of the most notable achievements of his tenure in the White House, certainly as far as Europe's defense is concerned, emphasized that the system increases "the sake of mutual security and the sake of peace."

Prime Minister Topolanek concurs and he too insists that the days of eastern Europe having to kowtow to Russia are over. For instance, Radio Free Europe reports that Topolanek said that the Czech Republic will cooperate with Russia in many fields, but that it will make its own decisions regarding its internal affairs. The Prime Minister said that missile defense "is not an issue of one radar installation....It primarily concerns [our freely chosen willingness] to defend ourselves."

Topolanek stressed that "our civilization will end if we lack the will to defend ourselves.... We do not want to belong again to the sphere of Russian influence. We do not want to belong to a group of countries which have to ask Russia for permission if they want to ensure their own defense."

Bob Geldof: "Bush Has Saved Millions of Lives in Africa"

Yes, the Time Magazine article by Bob Geldof about George Bush tends to be a bit self-centered and naive (especially about Iraq) but it is nevertheless very interesting reading. And, most important, it shows you information about President Bush "saving millions of lives" that usually doesn't even get mentioned in the MSM. Check it out.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Today's Posts

Exploring Frank Schaeffer's Unprincipled Sell-Out of His Father

U.S. State Department Ignores China's Latest Round of Christian Persecution

JAMA Video Clip Shows Adult Stem Cells on the Ascendancy

A Key Pro-Life Victory: Vitter Amendment Passes

The Maestro's Muddled Memory

How Extreme Is New York's New Abortion Legislation? Go to the Video Tape.

Barack Obama's "Hopeless" Votes for Abortion

Exploring Frank Schaeffer's Unprincipled Sell-Out of His Father

...Frank Schaeffer unquestionably adored his father, just as his father passionately adored him. Having lived in their home for more than three years, I have countless memories of this, including the sight of the two of them wrestling on the floor of the living room of their chalet, and ending with a fierce hug. Yet no critic or enemy of Francis Schaeffer has done more damage to his life's work than his son Frank...

The rest of Os Guinness' troubling, moving, illuminating essay, "Fathers and Sons: On Francis Schaeffer, Frank Schaeffer, and Crazy for God" can be found here. Thanks to the Pearcey Report for bringing it to my attention.

U.S. State Department Ignores China's Latest Round of Christian Persecution

In the months leading up to this summer's Olympics, China continues to prove its critics right. While many had hoped that the Beijing Games would encourage China to make progress on religious freedom and human rights, the regime is still flaunting its disdain for Western values.

The country's latest victim, Zheng Enchong, is an attorney who publicly condemned China's forced abortion policy. International human rights groups now report that Enchong was detained by state officials and viciously beaten. This is at least the second time that local authorities have harassed him and his family. In 2003, he served a three-year sentence for speaking to the foreign press about China's disdain for human rights. Like the Chinese pastors, his fate is in the hands of ruthless state officials.

Of the hundreds of house church leaders who were arrested in December, FRC has learned from China Aid that 21 have been sent to labor camps where they will spend the next three years being "re-educated" for their involvement in an "evil cult." According to Chinese observers, this is "the most massive persecution case since 1983."

FRC and 28 congressional leaders have asked the State Department why the U.S. has not protested. Neither FRC's letter nor that of the House coalition has received the slightest acknowledgment from Secretary Condoleezza Rice.

It is reprehensible that a nation like America, founded by men who sought refuge for their religious beliefs, would turn a blind eye while these pastors suffer for their Christian faith.

(Family Research Council's Washington Update)

Of course, you can join in the effort to persuade the U.S. State Department to take action on this important front. The main address is below as is the telephone number. Another good approach is to contact your Senators and Congressmen, asking them to pass along your frustration to the the State Department for refusing even the mildest of protests against China's cruel acts of repression.

U.S. Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520

JAMA Video Clip Shows Adult Stem Cells on the Ascendancy

Here is a very encouraging 2-minute video clip from The Journal of the American Medical Association that not only tells an exciting story of one man's progress against a debilitating disease but also illustrates the continuing ascendancy even in established medical circles of adult stem cell research and treatments. It's good news to start your day.

(Hat tip: Secondhand Smoke)

A Key Pro-Life Victory: Vitter Amendment Passes

Maybe because it's an election year, but it is still quite an amazing feat to have accomplished. A pro-life amendment to the Indian Health Care bill represents the first time that language banning the federal funding of abortion has been written into permanent law. Joyous congratulations to the 52 Senators who supported this important bill. In previous years, the Hyde Amendment banned abortion funding but was a part of the annual appropriations legislation. That meant a fight every year. The Vitter amendment breaks promising new ground.

The Maestro's Muddled Memory

James Taranto captures for the WSJ's Best of the Web column a sterling example of just how ignorant "maestro megalomania" can be. To differentiate the texts, I put Taranto's comments in bold and the lines from the AP story in regular type.

Roll Over Reagan

The New York Philharmonic has gone ahead with its concert in Pyongyang, North Korea, which drew our attention earlier this month. Back then we scored music director Lorin Maazel for hiding behind America's imperfections in refusing to make moral judgments about North Korea's totalitarian regime. In an Associated Press dispatch from Pyongyang, Maazel tries a different tack:

"Before the concert, Maazel said the orchestra has been a force for change in the past, noting that its 1959 performance in the Soviet Union was part of that country's opening up to the outside world that eventually resulted in the downfall of the regime.

"The Soviets didn't realize that it was a two-edged sword, because by doing so they allowed people from outside the country to interact with their own people, and to have an influence," he told journalists in Pyongyang. "It was so long-lasting that eventually the people in power found themselves out of power."

When asked if he thought the same could happen in North Korea, he said: "There are no parallels in history; there are similarities."

Still, he said, the concert could spark other cultural and social exchanges.

"We are very humble. We are here to make music," he said.

Is it possible that, through some sort of delayed reaction, the New York Philharmonic's 1959 appearance helped bring about the fall of the Berlin Wall 30 years later? It seems a stretch, especially since the Berlin Wall wasn't even erected until 1961. Just imagine what kind of outlandish claims Maazel might make if he and the Philharmonic were not so "very humble."

How Extreme Is New York's New Abortion Legislation? Go to the Video Tape.

How extreme, how brutal, how coercive is New York Governor Eliot Spitzer's plan to expand abortion "rights" in his state?

More than you can even imagine.

Not surprisingly, this New York Times story won't tell you exactly how far Spitzer's proposals go. However, within the story itself is a link to a 9-minute video produced by the New York State Catholic Conference that fairly, comprehensively does what the Times fails to do; namely, explain the several alarming ways in which Spitzer's plan (enthusiastically supported by the New York Civil Liberties Union, NARAL Pro-Choice New York, Planned Parenthood of New York City, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the National Organization for Women’s New York State chapter, and so on) goes much farther than even Roe v Wade.

That YouTube video, by the way, is referred to by Times' reporter Sewell Chan as "blistering" but it is actually a very calm, very clear-headed presentation by Kathleen Gallagher. It is 9 minutes well worth your time -- 9 minutes that will certainly stimulate your fervent prayers that New York citizens rise up against this radical abortion promotion.

Barack Obama's "Hopeless" Votes for Abortion

Pope John Paul II said, “A nation that kills its own children is a nation without hope.” Barack Obama, the candidate of hope, turns his back on this sad fact: For every 1,000 live births among black women, our nation loses 495 black children to abortion. That is, roughly 33 percent. Obama was the only Illinois state senator to oppose the Born Alive Infants Protection Act, which declares that babies who survive abortion are citizens of the United States. This law was passed unanimously in the Senate and was not opposed even by NARAL. Is this how we define hope?

Letters to the editors of newspapers and magazines really do have an effect. After all, the letters section always ranks in the top 3 or 4 of all sections read. And when those letters are considerate, well-written and serve to emphasize one key point, like the one of Paula Brewer's letter printed above (published by the Kansas City Star), they can be extremely valuable in heralding a culture of life.

Atta' girl, Paula.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Today's Posts

Getting Real" About Cuba

NFL Will Allow Church Super Bowl Parties

How Does the Washington Post Justify Calling Obama a "Centrist"?

Sarah Palin: Reeling In Support for V.P.

Francis Schaeffer: "The Watershed of the Evangelical World"

Since the Surge: The Successes in Iraq We're Not Hearing About

Democrats Endanger U.S. By Failing to Bolster Intelligence Gathering

"Getting Real" About Cuba

Liberal writer Chris Walker "gets real" about Cuba in this brief but effective article over in the Independent (U.K.) Here's a few excerpts:

I must admit, I greeted the news that Fidel Castro was stepping down with great pleasure. It is amazing how so many of us on the liberal wing of politics have allowed ourselves to be manipulated by his mad regime. It is cruel and oppressive and has reduced his people to misery.

Cuba is a textbook example of how political mismanagement can push entire nations to the breadline. Economic statistics are wrapped up in propaganda. Thus we are told the economy surged 12 per cent last year, and wage growth was 5 per cent. The reality is that average incomes are estimated at $15 (£7.60) a month and the population live close to poverty. More than 50 per cent of housing is unsanitary.

Supposed achievements of Castro's Cuba are cleverly put out for external consumption – mainly the high level of literacy and the very low level of infant mortality. But given the absence of a free press in Cuba, it is hard to be sure that even these achievements are real. Talk of doctors begging tourists for aspirins hardly equates with a thriving health system...

It is worth pausing to quantify the repression. The list of crimes, imprisonments and hardships is a long one, but the number of politically motivated executions is powerful enough in its own right: 30,000.

It is against this background that I get a bit irritated by friends who plan holidays in the "roman- tic, crumbling elegance of old Havana". Western tourists have been cleverly manipulated – their hard currency is now the single biggest factor in Cuba's ramshackle economy. The pursuit of crumbling elegance sounds dangerously like poverty tourism.

NFL Will Allow Church Super Bowl Parties

It's been over a year since I posted an item about the NFL's allowance of saloons showing the Super Bowl on large screens while actively prohibiting the same permission to church groups. As I put it then, "Talk about unsportsmanlike conduct!"

So I was pleased to see that a heavy blitz put on by conservative bloggers, talk show hosts, and a couple of politicians pressured NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell into reversing their call.

But, interestingly enough, not until after this year's contest was history. Why the delay?

How Does the Washington Post Justify Calling Obama a "Centrist"?

Paul Mirengoff over at Power Line notes that Barack Obama, the fellow that nearly all credible observers (liberal and conservative) rate as the most liberal person in the United States Senate, is being called by the Washington Post editorial board, "more of a centrist."

How they manage to make this outrageous claim and how it unfortunately clashes is conveyed in the Power Line post cleverly entitled, "A Centrist With No One To His Left."

Read it here.

Sarah Palin: Reeling In Support for V.P.

Should John McCain consider Sarah Palin "quite a catch" as his running mate? You bet.

Back on the first of February, I suggested that Republicans put the feisty governor of Alaska in their major player ranks. Yes, her national experience is limited (as I recall, so is Barack Obama's) but Palin's combination of fiscal good sense, integrity, conservative credentials (including being a member of both Feminists for Life and the NRA), her telegenic good looks, her youthfulness, her attractiveness to independents and, not inconsequential in this election, her distance from Washington's "politics as usual," make her a candidate of extraordinary value.

Other astute observers are beginning to take note of Palin as a rising star in the party, one of which is Thomas Cheplick in this American Spectator article.

Francis Schaeffer: "The Watershed of the Evangelical World"

If you've got time for a terrific sermon (about 45 minutes) and if you'd like a relevant, thoughtful and biblically-centered perspective on how the Church should be impacting the surrounding culture (instead of the other way round as is happening in the emergent church and seeker-friendly movements), then I couldn't recommend more highly "The Watershed of the Evangelical World" by the incomparable Francis Schaeffer.

If you don't have the time to listen, at least read through this pdf file containing the basic points of Dr. Schaeffer's sermon.

The sermon link comes from blogger Lane Chaplin who says, "it’s one of the best sermons I’ve heard him preach."

Since the Surge: The Successes in Iraq We're Not Hearing About

In this revelatory column, Charles Krauthammer describes how Democrat politicos remain stubbornly in denial over the successes achieved in the Iraqi war. In the process, he gives readers a quick review of the notable events in Iraq that have come about since the surge --- remarkable events that we should have been hearing a lot about from American media, but haven't.

"No one can spend some 10 days visiting the battlefields in Iraq without seeing major progress in every area. ... If the U.S. provides sustained support to the Iraqi government in security, governance, and development there is now a very real chance that Iraq will emerge as a secure and stable state."
(Anthony Cordesman, "The Situation in Iraq: A Briefing from the Battlefield," Feb. 13, 2008)

This from a man who was a severe critic of the postwar occupation of Iraq and who, as author Peter Wehner points out, is no wide-eyed optimist. In fact, in May 2006 Cordesman had written that "no one can argue that the prospects for stability in Iraq are good." Now, however, there is simply no denying the remarkable improvements in Iraq since the surge began a year ago.

Unless you're a Democrat. As Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., put it, "Democrats have remained emotionally invested in a narrative of defeat and retreat in Iraq."...

Despite all the progress military and political, the Democrats remain unwavering in their commitment to withdrawal on an artificial timetable that inherently jeopardizes our "very real chance that Iraq will emerge as a secure and stable state."

Why? Imagine the transformative effects in the region and indeed in the entire Muslim world, of achieving a secure and stable Iraq, friendly to the United States and victorious over al-Qaeda.

Are the Democrats so intent on denying George Bush retroactive vindication for a war they insist is his that they would deny their own country a now achievable victory?

The rest of this stimulating article is here.

Democrats Endanger U.S. By Failing to Bolster Intelligence Gathering

Our Congress, led by Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats, has committed one of its most inexplicable, grossly irresponsible acts ever (and that's saying a lot) by failing to pass much-needed improvements to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. Therefore, as Senator Mitch McConnell writes in this Investor's Business Daily editorial,

...The House's lack of action meant that at midnight on Feb. 16, the nation's terrorist surveillance law expired. At that moment, intelligence officials who spend their days listening in on phone calls between terrorists overseas were legally barred from following new leads without first following outdated and cumbersome warrant procedures — even if neither caller is calling from within the U.S.

The consequences of inaction are real. Today, if someone in a previously unknown terror cell calls an eager new recruit in London, our agents will have to hang up the phone, apply for a warrant and hope for the best...

The consequences of inaction are real: Last Saturday, the director of national intelligence, Adm. Mike McConnell, warned Congress that we have already lost intelligence information and that "our ability to gather information concerning the intentions and planning of terrorists and other foreign intelligence targets will continue to degrade because we have lost tools provided by the Protect America Act that enable us to adjust to changing circumstances."

Following the lead of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the leaders of the Democratic Party in the House of Representatives have prevented a vote on bipartisan improvements to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 — even though a majority in both chambers of Congress had indicated a willingness to support the updates and even though McConnell had been urging Congress to act on the revisions for nearly a year....

Faced with an urgent warning by the director of national intelligence, House Democrats closed up shop and went home. That decision, according to top intelligence officials, left the U.S. more vulnerable to attack.

Americans have been spared another terrorist attack at home thanks in large part to programs like electronic surveillance. As the House reconvenes this week, it's time for the Democrats' leadership to allow a vote on this vital national security measure.

Here's the entire editorial.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Louis Farrakhan: Barack Obama Is the "Hope of the Entire World"

Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan gave a ringing, over-the-top endorsement to Barack Obama this weekend...and thus gave the John McCain campaign a big lift.

Raved Farrakhan of Obama, "This young man is the hope of the entire world that America will change and be made better. This young man is capturing audiences of black and brown and red and yellow. If you look at Barack Obama's audiences and look at the effect of his words, those people are being transformed."

Farrakhan compared Obama to the religion's founder, Fard Muhammad, who also had a white mother and black father.
"A black man with a white mother became a savior to us," he told the crowd of mostly followers. "A black man with a white mother could turn out to be one who can lift America from her fall."

There's a New Troutman in Town!

If you'd like to meet Luke Troutman, the baby son of two of the boldest and best pro-life activists around, go to this page.

For those of you who know Laura and Matt, you'll not be surprised to see that Luke is a good looking kid. So perhaps you can discount my theory that all newborns look like Winston Churchill. And I bet that with a cigar stuck in his mouth, even Luke would...oh, forget it. Go check out the pics of little Luke, leave a message of welcome and say a few prayers for the multi-blessed family.

Looking Forward to Heaven

Dear Randy Alcorn,

Before I read your book, Heaven, I wondered a lot about Heaven. I wondered what it was going to be like and if it was really a place to look forward to. I wondered if I would be happy when I died and went to Heaven. I wondered if things were better here or if they would be better there. I was afraid of death because I really did not know what happens when you die and did not have much to look forward to.

The book took me a whole year to read, but I understood it as I got more and more into the book. I grew to have a new picture of Heaven. In that year, I realized that I have something great to look forward to. I see Heaven as more than just a place people go to when they die; I see it as God’s city of gold. It is a real place with real streets, gates, rivers, and dwelling places. It is not some unknown place where we will float around like spirits. We are told in the Bible that we will have new bodies, made perfect, without disease or blemishes. I am looking forward to never being sick or hurt again! These are things I had not considered before reading Heaven.

From day to day, I think about Heaven more than I did before I read the book, and I think of it differently. I look forward to Heaven every day. I know it is my real home and that the New Earth (Heaven) will be the way God made it in the beginning. It will be like the Garden of Eden, with no pain and with plenty of food without the killing of animals, which makes me happy since I love God’s creatures. God’s glory will light the world and we will not even need the light of the sun. All of this is very exciting for me and I know now that Heaven is going to be far better than my present life.

I appreciate your book because I no longer fear death, I look to the eternal future when things are hard here, and I live every day knowing that I will be in the presence of God when I die. It makes it a better life to know that no matter what happens here, I have a home waiting for me where I am already accepted. I will be reunited with my brothers, parents, and many friends in Heaven. That encourages me to treat people better now on this earth because they are the people I will get to spend forever with. I want to get the best start I can on living for eternity.


Bryan Lewis

A pretty intriguing letter, huh? Especially from a 10-year kid!

To order your copy of Randy Alcorn's Heaven, one of the books securely ensconced in my Indispensable Reading list go here to the order form located in the Eternal Perspective Ministries' website and do so. You, like Bryan, will be heartily glad you did.

And while you're there at the EPM website, look around a bit. It's a terrific site, one full of challenge, inspiration and practical assistance to the Christian who desires to serve faithfully his Lord. And regularly updated too, so put it on your bookmark list and check it out frequently. I do.

Note too the link there to Randy's "personal" blog, another great source for the Christian activist and, for that matter, for the honest non-believer who is looking for accurate information about God, the Bible, heaven, family, suffering, the virtues of a Christian lifestyle, and much more.

A Couple of "Emerging Church" Cartoons

Ruth sent over several "ecclesiastical illustrations" yesterday, a couple of the most provocative I print here:

Luxembourg Passes Euthanasia Law

“Europe is quickly slipping into a new Dark Age, in the words of Winston Churchill, ‘made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science.’” This from World Congress of Families Global Coordinator Larry Jacobs as he expressed the sadness and revulsion over last week's vote by the Luxembourg parliament (30 to 28 and over the the objections of Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker and his Christian Social Party) to legalize euthanasia and assisted suicide.

Here's a bit more of the World Congress of Families' story.

...Proponents are in the process of establishing “guidelines” for euthanasia in Luxembourg. While news sources have reported that the law would apply to the terminally ill, Alex Schadenberg of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition says the bill would also allow individuals with “grave and incurable” conditions to be euthanized.

Obviously, a person can have a condition that’s “grave and incurable,” but not life-threatening.

“Euthanasia proponents always assure us that the act will be voluntary,” Jacobs observed. “But the devil is in the details. Frequently, if a patient is unable to indicate consent, this life-or-death decision is made for them by a relative or a physician.”
A 2005 report by the Dutch government concluded that in 2004 there were an estimated 550 killings of individuals who were comatose or otherwise unresponsive in the country.

The Luxembourg bill has gone through first reading. A final vote will come after procedures to implement the measure are devised.
“We hope parliamentarians will have second thoughts about unleashing this lethal measure on the people they serve,” Jacobs declared...

Belarus Tightens the Screws on Foreign Religious Workers

Belarus has consolidated its tight regulations on foreign religious workers...The changes – which shadow elements of the restrictive 2002 Religion Law – come as Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants prepare to submit over 50,000 signatures petitioning for changes to that Law to the state authorities.

The country's top religious affairs official now has sole discretion in deciding whether religious work by foreign citizens is necessary, according to a new Council of Ministers decree. The Plenipotentiary for Religious and Ethnic Affairs, currently Leonid Gulyako, also has the right not to give reasons for refusing a foreign religious worker's visit. The Plenipotentiary can also shorten the visit "if the period of time required for realisation of the aims for which the foreign citizen is invited does not correspond to that requested."

In line with the Religion Law, the 30 January 2008 decree states that only registered religious associations have the right to invite foreign religious workers. These consist of ten or more communities, at least one of which must have functioned in Belarus for 20 years.

The new decree's application procedure for inviting foreign religious workers is much more detailed than its 1999 predecessor, amended in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2006. If invited to teach religion, for example, a foreign citizen's work experience and the timetable and syllabus of the relevant religious educational institution must be submitted.

Foreign citizens must also now attest knowledge of Belarus' state languages (Belarusian and Russian) in order to perform religious work...

(Source: Forum 18 News Service)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

For Weekend Web Reading

* Among the recommended items for this weekend's web surfing are the two posts I link to below from The Weekly Standard dealing with the wild whopper Barack Obama told at his debate with Hillary Clinton the other night. His story about U.S. troops being mismanaged and ill-equipped turns out to have more holes than a Krispy Kreme shop. ("US Troops Scavenging Weapons?" and "Obama Heard Wrong")

* Also looking at the Obama candidacy is this Michael Weiss article describing five of the current areas where he is most vulnerable to attack.; "Obama's Weaknesses Off Limits to Hillary" by David Limbaugh; and Victor Davis Hanson's comments about Obama from NRO's The Corner where, among other noteworthy things, he observes:

I think what we are watching in the Democratic primary is historic. First, there h
as not been a candidate nominated for President more liberal than Barack Obama since George McGovern — not Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, Clinton, Gore, or Kerry. This is unapologetic liberalism in the classic European-socialist sense, and for the first time in many years we will see its envisioned agendas without Clintonian trimming or apologetics — the flip side of the purist Goldwater in 1964...

* The New York Time's remarkably unprincipled (and ineffectual) attempt to smear John McCain gets bashed here (and not ineffectually) by the editors of the New York Post; Jacob Laksin at FrontPage Magazine; and this video feed featuring Tony Snow on the O'Reilly program.

* Striving with the New York Times, however, to become this week's inductee to the Vital Signs Blog "Hall of Shame" are: 1) Wheaton College for inviting Jim Wallis, one of the leaders of the ultra-liberal wing of Protestantism, to speak at an official college event at its Center for Applied Christian Ethics. Wallis' recent book argues that efforts to legitimize homosexual relationships in the law (including same sex "marriage") are right and just. This is the second time Wheaton has pulled this kind of trick in recent days. The formerly evangelical school invited self-proclaimed "gay Christian" activist Harry Knox to participate in a panel discussion during which he repeated the claim that his sexual preference is a "gift from God." And then there's 2) Gene Nichol, William & Mary's ex-president, whose departure was anything but graceful. I've posted about Nichol before, including the announcement of his much-welcomed resignation, but I just had to follow up by suggesting you read this intriguing Power Line article about the peccant law professor.

"Where's The Stem Celebration?" is the cogent question asked in this Investor's Business Daily editorial.

* This year's Heisman Trophy winner was the University of Florida's Tim Tebow. Wonder what he has in common -- besides football, that is -- with other outstanding quarterbacks like the University of Tulsa's Paul Smith, the University of Texas' Colt McCoy, Tennessee's Erik Ainge, Virginia Tech's Grant Throckmorton, and a bunch of other outstanding talents? Here's a hint: the answer can be found over here on a page provided by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Very inspirational reading for your weekend, that's for sure.

And finally, on a lighter note, you might want to watch this brief video clip about the action movie, National Treasure: Book of Secrets. It includes a discussion by a couple of Christians about the film's themes and values. Interesting. Please note, however, that if you haven't seen the film but plan to do so sometime soon, most definitely skip this clip until after you get home from the theater as it does contain some "spoilers."

Friday, February 22, 2008

Today's Posts

The Persevering Power of Truth

Can McCain Beat Obama? Yes, If He Hits These 5 Targets

"Animal Rights" Zealots Turn Feral: Judge Draws the Line at Firebombs

The Eerie Aura Surrounding Obi-Wan Obama

The Mendacity of the New York Times: Here We Go Again!

Barack Obama's Liberation Theology

The Persevering Power of Truth

The injustice and cruelty of the Soviet Union’s vast organization of labor camps in the 1930’s and 1940’s are now well known. But that knowledge didn’t necessarily have to surface. Indeed, without the grace of God acting through such heroic individuals as Alexander Solzhenitsyn, those truths might well have remained buried by Communist cover-ups. Solzhenitsyn was one of the foremost voices raised against the grand Soviet machine. Through rare courage and sacrificial efforts, he managed to alert the whole world to what was really happening to countless numbers of innocent human beings.

Solzhenitsyn’s most famous (though not often read) work is the riveting three-volume, Gulag Archipelago. In that incredible work, the former slave camp worker documents the massive record of outrageous lies, violence, and criminal corruption which were perpetrated by Soviet Communism. In the Gulag (and even in his fiction), Solzhenitsyn serves as an historian. It is enough, he insists, to simply record what happened, to give the truth an open hearing. For certainly as Solzhenitsyn knew (and, indeed, all Christians should understand), truth has amazing power. Solzhenitsyn hoped that when people learned the real story of Soviet tyranny, they would resolve to never again allow the devil an open door to such blasphemy and brutality.

It is in this sense that Alexander Solzhenitsyn is hailed as a prophet – not as a fortune teller, but as a “forth teller.” He bravely held up the banner of truth and, simply by performing that service, he helped change the world.

In Solzhenitsyn’s play "The Love-Girl and the Innocent," set in a 1945 forced labor camp in Siberia, one of the persecuted men lists just a few of the monstrous crimes performed by Soviet thugs that he has witnessed. The prisoner is beside himself with fury, feeling utterly helpless to do anything about this all-enveloping injustice. But in response, Pavel Gai, an imprisoned ex-soldier who has experienced more than his own share of horrors, answers him with chilling authority. “What can we do? Remember – that’s all.”

Alexander Solzhenitsyn did remember.

In fact, his constant plea to God was for help in remembering specific events, people and situations so that he could record the true history of the Soviet Union. Solzhenitsyn desired to be a faithful historian in order to effectively honor the victims but, more importantly, to preserve those truths that could set the future free.

Ronald Reagan was one who was inspired by those revelations and he acted on the knowledge that Solzhenitsyn had preserved. The Wall fell. The camps are now empty. Truth -- just a simple presentation of the truth --can indeed destroy the darkness.