Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Today's Posts

Go Get Guilty!

And the Piper Will Be Paid

The Latest Lie from President Obama

How Much "Liberal Compassion" Can We Survive?

Please Help Gao Zhisheng

Go Get Guilty!

Last night a few of us (Allen and Cindy, Matt, John and Barb, Quint, Chet, Claire and I) gathered in our living room for coffee, cookies and a lively discussion of Ann Coulter's book, Guilty. It was the latest in our ongoing Book It! discussions organized by Vital Signs Ministries.

The book is a tour de force, a rich mix of documented evidence, persuasive argument and Coulter's rhetorical skill -- all marshaled against modern liberals and their various masquerades.

We recommend it highly. And we recommend it especially for those whose view of Ann Coulter comes more from reading the MSM's standard scripts about her than from actually reading her stuff.

After all, liberals want their conservatives apologetic and timidly back-pedaling. (Like Michael Steele, Orin Hatch and way too many Republicans.) So when they run into a conservative who possesses firm (and well-founded) convictions, they despise them, deride them and then dismiss them.

But when they run into such a conservative as Ann Coulter -- that is, a conservative who is also witty, engaging and telegenic (not to mention, well-informed, well-written and well- spoken), they know the game is up. And, at all costs, they must keep her message from being fairly heard.

Don't let 'em snow you.

Ann Coulter's Guilty is, no doubt, humorous and satirical and bold. Those are good things, not bad. But Guilty isn't conservative entertainment. Except for her performances on TV (where she's usually fighting for her life against entrenched opponents), I think Coulter is closer to Bill Buckley and Bill Bennett than she is Rush Limbaugh or Dennis Miller. And Guilty is a case in point. Her arguments are rich in intellectual depth and detail. She's consistent, stays on point and presents an amazing amount of documentation.

But don't just take my word for it, "go get Guilty yourself." And soon.

And the Piper Will Be Paid

For those who may not know the legend which gives this illustration its bite -- The Westphalian town of Hamelin was once infested with rats. Well, naturally, the people looked to government to solve their problem. Who wouldn't? So the townfolk went to the Mayor. But His Honor and the city council couldn't figure out what to do.

But then the mysterious Pied Piper came to town. (The word "pied", by the way, refers to the musician's brightly colored clothes.) The strange musician offered to get rid of the rats for a hefty fee. The politicians were a bit skeptical but they took him up on his offer anyway. And they promised the stranger the money if and when he accomplished the deed.

Well, it worked. The Pied Piper played a magical tune. The rats were entranced and followed him...even when he led them into the river where they all drowned.

However, once the deed was done, the Mayor refused to pay up. (Imagine, politicians breaking their promises! Although, in their defense, perhaps they just ran out of money after squandering it on pork projects, wasteful spending and the silly shenanigans of a nanny state.)

Anyhow, on the next St. John’s Day, the disgruntled Pied Piper returned and played a different tune. This time it was the children of Hamelin who were entranced and ran after him. The Pied Piper led them all into a mountain cave. And they were never seen again.

Because, of course, the town council "hadn't paid the piper."

A very sad story, huh? Although, given Barack Obama's radical promotion of abortion...perhaps he wouldn't see it as a tragic story at all.

Anyhow, to extend your musings of the Pied Piper legend as a metaphor particularly "tuned" for our time, you might read through Robert Browning's poem describing the affair or the lyrics of the Benny Andersson/Bjorn Ulvaeus song, The Piper, from Abba's Super Trouper album back in 1980. (You can even listen to it here.)

The Latest Lie from President Obama

From Conn Carroll over at the Foundry:

Before President Barack Obama took office he promised to: "not sign any non-emergency bill without giving the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House website for five days."

In just his first week in the White House, Obama broke this promise twice signing both Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and Medicare expansion bill without posting the bill for five day comment.

Today, Obama will break his promise to the American people yet again, this time by signing the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009. There is no way that anyone of these three bills could possibly be considered an emergency. All three are clear broken promises by the Obama Administration.

Worse, the Omnibus Land Bill could definitely use some more scrutiny. Especially the provision that would criminalize casual collecting of paleontological resources on federal land.

How Much "Liberal Compassion" Can We Survive?

Liberals have a very distorted view of compassion.

Nevertheless, they have managed to convince a large number of American Christians that it is Democrats who really care for the poor whereas conservatives care only for themselves.

But the facts tell a very different story.

For instance, the incredible disparity between the charitable giving of Democrats and Republicans shows that the latter group gives more (much, much more!) to people in need.

No, when the Democrats want to give money -- they want to give someone else's money! Their scheme of the redistribution of wealth is, therefore, less like Jesus' teaching and more like Robin Hood's. And yet, Democrats don't just steal from the rich; they steal from the rich, the middle class, and the working poor.

Secondly, the Democrat's version of compassion has given America some of our most devastating social crises: the imprisoning powerlessness of the welfare state; the curses of no-fault divorce and single motherhood; and the lawlessness exacerbated by a toothless justice system.

This kind of "compassion" is killing us.

For a closer look at how manipulative and mean has been this liberal idea of compassion, take a look at a couple of excellent articles from the March/April edition of Concerned Women for America's Family Voice. I guarantee you'll be the "richer" for it.

"The Give and Take of Charity and Why Liberals Don’t Get It" by Mario Diaz.

"Generosity: Whose Job is It -- Yours or Uncle Sam’s" by P. George Tryfiates, CWA's Executive Director.

Please Help Gao Zhisheng

Gao Zhisheng, a Chinese Christian lawyer who has been a champion of human rights, knows all too well how brutal and unjust the persecution of believers can be in his country. He himself endured torture at the hands of his Communist captors in 2007 and he now is undergoing such barbaric treatment again. He disappeared February 4 after being seen in the custody of police.

Your voice may be of help. So will you please lift up a few prayers today for Gao and his family: wife Geng He, daughter Geng Ge (16) and son Gao Tianyu (5)?

And will you also sign this online petition created by China Aid? Thank you.

China Aid will also supply you with appropriate e-mail addresses if you would like to go further and write your own letters to Chinese officials. Simply use this page.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Today's Posts

On Government's Responsibility, Freedom and "Mandatory Volunteerism"

Our Colorado pal, Melissa, whose delightful, wholesome, homespun web site I occasionally go to for a reminder of what's really important in life (she posts wonderful photos of her talented kids, talks about travels around the state, gives recipes, quotes her toddler's emerging worldview, etc.), has taken a foray into political commentary.

She modestly suggests that it may be her last, as well as her first, such column but I think she's got a flair for it.

See if you don't agree. Indeed, see if her comments about H.R. 1444 and its creation of a Congressional Commission on Civil Service don't prompt you to write your Congressman ASAP.

Good job, Melissa.

"Do You Want to Know What a Really First-Class Cardinal Sounds Like?"

That's the question the Telegraph's Damian Thompson asks -- and then answers by giving a nice review of Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and printing the Cardinal's strong and eloquent letter concerning the Notre Dame/Obama mess.

Al Sharpton's Very Sweet Tax Deal: Don't You Wish the IRS Was So Understanding With You!

Here's the New York Post story for which this astounding graphic was a sidebar.

Saying Goodbye to the Wolf

It may not have looked like a typical funeral, not with hundreds of motorcyles parked outside Hope Baptist Church and the sanctuary filled with tattooed bikers in club colors. But it was a funeral full of loving respect, intense memories, and the power of the gospel of Christ to dramatically change lives.

James "Wolf" Corrao, was being remembered by his friends and associates of the road.

"Until six years ago Wolf had been one of those outlaws, a “one-percenter,” a member of the biker gangs notorious for intimidation and mayhem. In his own words, which were read at the service, he was an outlaw among outlaws — an enforcer, bouncer and bodyguard. He had written the story of his faith a few days before his death, intending to share it at a Bible study that had been scheduled for this day."

Here's the rest of this compelling report, a fine story written by Marshall Allen for the Las Vegas Sun.

Earth Hour at Al Gore's House

As most of you know, just over two years ago, my organization, the Tennessee Center for Policy Research, found that the knuckleheaded leader of the global warming alarmism movement, Al Gore, consumes 20 times more electricity in his home than the average American household.

Since Earth Hour was recognized today, Saturday, March 28 from 8:30-9:30pm, I thought I’d see how the hypocritical, fear-mongering former Veep was celebrating at his home.

I pulled up to Al’s house, located in the posh Belle Meade section of Nashville, at 8:48pm – right in the middle of Earth Hour. I found that the main spotlights that usually illuminate his 9,000 square foot mansion were dark, but several of the lights inside the house were on.

In fact, most of the windows were lit by the familiar blue-ish hue indicating that floor lamps and ceiling fixtures were off, but TV screens and computer monitors were hard at work. (In other words, his house looked the way most houses look about 1:45am when their inhabitants are distractedly watching “Cheaters” or “Chelsea Lately” reruns.)

The kicker, though, were the dozen or so floodlights grandly highlighting several trees and illuminating the driveway entrance of Gore’s mansion.

I [kid] you not, my friends, the savior of the environment couldn’t be bothered to turn off the gaudy lights that show off his goofy trees...

(Source: Drew Johnson, president of Tennessee Center for Policy Research. Quoted at MatthewHurtt.com)

Hillary's Guadalupe Blooper

It really makes no difference whether you're a Catholic who believes that the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe was miraculously imprinted on the cloak that hangs in the Basilica in Mexico City -- or you don't. Educated persons, particularly those who have a hugely-funded staff to get the details straight like the Secretary of the U.S. State Department, should be on top of such things.

Nevertheless, in the latest bonehead move of what has become a gaffe-addicted administration, when Hillary Clinton was shown the cloak on an official visit to the church, the second most visited Catholic shrine in the world, she turned to the priest and asked, "Who painted it?"

Power Line's John Hinderaker writes, "This is one of those stories that seem like it can't possibly be true. Could America's Secretary of State really be ignorant of a central cultural symbol of a country next door? It is as though a foreign minister came to Washington, was shown Stuart's portrait of George Washington, and asked, 'Who was he?' It is hard to imagine how Clinton's staff could have prepared her for her visit without making sure she knew the story. So for now, I'm reserving judgment. It will be interesting to see whether CNS's story is confirmed and whether the State Department has any comment."

"I'm a Liberal and It’s Difficult to Admit, But About AIDS Prevention in Africa, the Pope Is Indeed Right."

Just who is that has their heads stuck in the sand when it comes to the matter of AIDS prevention in Africa? Anthony McCarthy, Research Fellow at the Linacre Centre for Healthcare Ethics (London and Oxford) argues that it's not the Pope but rather his dangerously naive critics whose only solution is shipping in more crates of condoms.

Here's his brief article in the Telegraph (U.K.) explaining why the naive indifference to reforming sexual practices in the direction of abstinence and monogamy is dooming AIDS prevention plans to failure.

Dr. Greg Gardner, our friend and pro-life colleague over in Birmingham, England, alerted me to the McCarthy piece and to a couple of others well worth your reading. They too give you a perspective in which the crucial relevance of sexual morality is emphasized -- and not merely because sexual morality is "right" but because it also works!

For instance, in "AIDS and the Churches," written by Edward C. Green and Allison Herling Ruark and published by First Things last year, the authors point out that what the purely secular approach to preventing AIDS is, in fact, preventing are solutions to the crisis.

"...One must ask whether they are more concerned with upholding a Western notion of sexual freedom or with saving lives. Their concern over any prevention approach that might be “moralistic” causes them to miss entirely the evidence for the remarkable success of sexual-behavior change in reducing HIV infections. They miss, as well, the crucial contribution of faith communities to HIV prevention, even while they are producing a report on the role of faith communities in the HIV crisis."

It's an excellent, detailed and very illuminating article...particularly illuminating if all you've heard about the issue comes from network news or other MSM reports.

Finally, Greg notes that these remarkable statements from Dr. Edward Green (Director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at the Harvard School of Public Health and Center for Population and Development Studies) have been...ahem...overlooked by the press. They come from an interview with Ilsussidiario.

Q: The Pope’s statement about AIDS and condoms is at the centre of a sharp debate and many – from Mr. Kouchner to Mr. Zapatero, including the EU Commission – have claimed his position to be abstract and eventually dangerous. What is your opinion ?

A: I am a liberal on social issues and it’s difficult to admit, but the Pope is indeed right. The best evidence we have shows that condoms do not work as an intervention intended to reduce HIV infection rates, in Africa. (They have worked in e.g. Thailand and Cambodia, which have very different epidemics)

Q: In a recent interview to NRO you said that there is no consistent association between condom use and lower HIV-infection rates. Could you deepen this point?

A: What we see in fact is an association between greater condom use and higher infection rates. We don’t know all the reasons for this but part of it is due to what we call risk compensation. This means that a man using condoms believes that they are more effective than they really are, and so he ends up taking greater sexual risks. Another fact which is widely overlooked is that condoms are used when people are engaging in casual or commercial sex. People don’t use condoms with spouses or regular partners. So if condom rates go up, it may be that we are seeing an increase of casual sex.

Q: So, even if it is surprising, it is proven that a higher use of condoms is associated with higher infection rates.

A: People began noticing years ago that the countries in Africa with the highest condom availability and highest condom user rates, also had the highest HIV infection rates. This does not prove a causal relation, but it should have made us look critically at our condom programs years ago...

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Busy Weekend

Not much blogging this morning because a very busy weekend actually starts today: a luncheon meeting; putting the finishing touches on seminars I'm presenting tomorrow at Eagle's Nest Church ("A Theology of Childrens' Ministry"); reading Owen Wister's The Virginian for tomorrow night's discussion with our long-standing literary group, the Notting Hill Napoleons; studying for Sunday morning's sermon on Acts 16 at Faith Bible Church; attending an Omaha Symphony Pops concert with the Beach Boys; visiting Mom; and maybe getting a few hours of sleep somewhere along the way.

I hope your weekend is equally full of good things.

And, in keeping with our weekend's activities, I offer you this clip of the first slow song ever performed by the Beach Boys. Very corny lyrics, sure. But it remains my favorite of their career.

The King of Pop vs PETA

With some controversies, you don't feel comfortable joining either side.

Vicious Anti-Semitism in the Washington Post

Abe Greenwald in Commentary points out the obvious (well, to everyone except the modern liberal) that the Washington Post's publication of a viciously anti-Semitic cartoon (one "portraying the state of Israel as a headless jackbooted soldier, marching with sword thrust forward, and pushing a Star of David whose shark’s mouth is gaining on a Gazan mother and child") is irresponsible, unfair and dangerous.

It reveals more than a double standard -- imagine the furor liberals would have if such a horrendous caricature was made of an Arab or of Barack Obama -- Greenwald suggests it heralds "a new popular acceptance of Jew-hatred."

It's hard to look at the Nazi-themed cartoon, know that it was published by such an established newspaper as the Washington Post, and not agree with Greenwald's frank assessment.

Shame, Shame on Notre Dame

The flap over Notre Dame's invitation to Barack Obama is growing, but it is primarily fueled by alumni and a few conservative student organizations. A survey of the current student body shows that most of them are in favor of the President's speaking at their graduation ceremony.

That the alumni generally disapprove of their school giving this distinct honor to Obama is an indication that a Catholic education once meant something at the university. After all, the Roman Catholic Church teaches that abortion is a mortal sin, a particularly despicable act of wickedness. Yet Barack Obama is a champion of child murder. He has vigorously supported abortion in his public career and, in his young presidency, he has already exported abortion overseas using American taxpayer's money and declared open season on human embryos for experimentation.

But to this young crop of Notre Dame students, abortion is no big deal.

More important, according to the dim bulbs quoted in this A.P. report, are such matters as: courtesy (yet what kind of manners does it take to dismember a child in his mother's womb?); "putting aside" the President's heinous promotion of immorality so that the school has a nice graduation event; pride in the fact that Notre Dame is but one of three university's Obama will be speaking to this spring; and this convoluted reasoning from (surprise, surprise) a political science major from the Chicago area -- "To not allow someone here because of their beliefs seems a little hypocritical and contradictory to what the mission of the university and church should be." Huh? So that's the Catholic mission nowadays? To hold no moral absolutes, no discernment, no spiritual convictions whatsoever?

Thomas Aquinas, call your office.

E. Michael Jones published a book back in 1989 which asked Is Notre Dame Still Catholic? The university's invitation to a contemptible pro-abort like Barack Obama (and its support by the student body) has certainly settled that question.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Today's Posts

Nebraska Congressman Lee Terry on the President's Budget

We can't spend our way to better times

For the last several months the government has spent taxpayer dollars at record levels. First was the trillion dollar "so-called" stimulus, then a pork-filled $410 billion spending bill to continue to fund the federal government for the next seven months. Now President Obama is proposing a massive $3 trillion budget. In the current fiscal year, the federal government would spend more than $4 trillion or 28.5% of the economy--that is the highest level since World War II.

Families are tightening their budgets and small businesses are cutting back. The federal government needs to do the same. If families and businesses are making sacrifices why isn't the government?

This spending proposal is SO large that some estimates indicate 250,000 bureaucrats may be needed to spend it all.

The recent spending is like an out of control car on an icy highway and we all know how that is likely to end. The runaway spending will continue to hurt our economy and it must stop. We can't spend our way to better times.

Wait! Before You Buy That Greeting Card...

Hallmark Cards? Forget 'em. Why spend your money on a company that piles up $4.4 billion a year by outsourcing its production to Communist China?

And one whose lines now include same-sex marriage cards?

Instead, why not consider the lovely cards produced by Joni and Friends? Beautiful, affordable, and a special joy to send and receive, the cards from Joni and Friends also help support a critically-important Christian ministry.

We just stocked up. Why don't you?

Your Voice Matters! Oppose Obama's Attack on Freedom of Conscience.

A pro-life activist colleague is urging his friends to oppose the dastardly move of the Obama administration against conscience protections for health care workers by doing three simple things. They're all good things and so I'm pleased to pass them on...as long as you don't forget to do what I've asked previously here on Vital Signs. And that is to write the President. Write your Congressmen and Senators. Write letters to editors of newspapers and magazines.

And pray.

But here are those three that G------ suggests:

1) Watch this brief video made by Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago and President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

2) Use this site (www.Regulations.gov) to make public comments about the crucial importance of protecting freedom of conscience in America. To do so: A) Go the site. B) Enter 0991-AB49 in the search box. C) Hit "Go" at the right of the search box. D) Hit "Send a Comment or Submission Send a Comment or Submission" which will take you to the page where you can voice your opposition to the Obama plan.

You can skip the above process if you want and just send an e-mail with your comments to proposedrescission@hhs.gov

Or, if you'd like, you can use the post office. Send one original and two copies of written comments to:
Office of Public Health and Science
Department of Health and Human Services
Attention: Rescission Proposal Comments
Hubert H. Humphrey Building
200 Independence Ave. SW, Room 716G
Washington, DC 20201.

3) You can sign the American Center for Law and Justice online petition here.

NRL PAC Adds a Name to Their Endorsed List of Local Candidates

Based on a late response to their survey, the Nebraska Right to Life Political Action Committee has added the name of Jim Vokal to the endorsed candidates' list for the Omaha City Mayoral Primary.

"Given that there is no incumbent in the race, NRL PAC adheres to its criteria of endorsing all qualified pro-life candidates which includes Hal Daub. None of the other Mayoral candidates returned a survey."

I'm pleased that Vokal made the list and I wish him well. We need all the pro-life support we can get in politics nowadays.

However, I should also point out that the only sign in my yard bears the name of the candidate for Omaha mayor whose pro-life credentials are tried and tested (at both the local and federal levels), the candidate whose sincere and effective actions defending the sanctity of life we've appreciated for over 20 years.

That name is Hal Daub.

Am I Morally Responsible to Pay My Mortgage?

“Is it fair that your neighbor did everything wrong — he bought a house without a job — and the bank will help him, but the bank won’t talk to you until you’re three months behind?” Ballek says. “That’s just not fair.”

Ballek, who says he does not advise clients to default, finds it ironic that homeowners with the most conventional and conservative of all loans — 30-year fixed-rate mortgages — and were most committed to homeownership are now the ones who are considering foreclosure as an escape from their undervalued homes.

“At this point, they’d rather destroy their credit for seven years and start over again,” Ballek says.

“I don’t think the average person has a lot of remorse anymore. They just feel like a part of the crowd now.”

This Las Vegas Sun article is unusual for a newspaper, concentrating as it does on moral questions: Am I obligated to pay my bills? Must I honor contracts I've signed? Do I have a moral responsibility to make my mortgage payments if I'm able, even though my mortgage is greater than the value of the house? Are there circumstances when "right" is trumped by what's "pragmatic?"

It's an interesting and generally balanced piece using a lot of input from financial advisers. However, in a notable sign of our secular times, the reporter looks for the answers to moral questions first from two psychologists before turning to an evangelical pastor and a rabbi.

Evidence? We Don't Need No Stinking Evidence!

Christopher Booker points out how global warming scientists are "cooking the books" rather than letting the evidence speak for itself. In the case he examines here for the Telegraph, the much-ballyhooed Catlin Arctic Project, Booker demonstrates that the conclusions were fixed long before the data came in -- and that those conclusions are tenaciously held onto even after the data proves otherwise.

What a wonderful parable of our time has been the expedition to the North Pole led by the explorer Pen Hadow. With two companions, he is measuring the thickness of the ice to show how fast it is “declining”. His expedition is one of a series of events designed to “raise awareness of the dangers of climate change” before December’s conference in Copenhagen, where the warmists hope to get a new treaty imposing much more drastic cuts on CO2 emissions.

Hadow’s Catlin Arctic Project has top-level backing from the likes of the BBC, the WWF (it could “make a lasting difference to policy-relevant science”) and Prince Charles (“for the sake of our children and grandchildren, I pray that we will heed the results of the Catlin Arctic Survey and I can only commend this remarkably important project”).

With perfect timing, the setting out from Britain of the “Global Warming Three” last month was hampered by “an unusually heavy snowfall”. When they were airlifted to the start of their trek by a twin-engine Otter (one hopes a whole forest has been planted to offset its “carbon footprint”), they were startled to find how cold it was. The BBC dutifully reported how, in temperatures of minus 40 degrees, they were “battered by wind, bitten by frost and bruised by falls on the ice”.

Thanks to the ice constantly shifting, it was “disheartening”, reported Hadow, to find that “when you’ve slogged for a day”, you can wake up next morning to find you have “drifted back to where you started’’. Last week, down to their last scraps of food, they were only saved in the nick of time by the faithful Otter. They were disconcerted to see one of those polar bears, threatened with extinction by global warming, wandering around, doubtless eyeing them for its dinner.

But at least one of the intrepid trio was able to send a birthday message to his mum, via the BBC, and they were able to talk by telephone to “some of the world’s most influential climate change leaders”, including Development Secretary Douglas Alexander in front of 300 people at “a conference on world poverty”.

The idea is that the expedition should take regular radar fixes on the ice thickness, to be fed into a computer model in California run by Professor Wieslaw Maslowski, whose team, according to the BBC, “is well known for producing results that show much faster ice-loss than other modelling teams”. The professor predicts that summer ice could be completely gone as early as next year. It took the Watts Up With That? science blog to point out that there is little point in measuring ice thickness unless you do it several years running, and that, anyway, Arctic ice is being constantly monitored by US Army buoys. The latest reading given by a typical sensor shows that since last March the ice has thickened by “at least half a metre”.

“In most fields of science,” comments WUWT drily, “that is considered an 'increase’ rather than a 'decline’.”

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Today's Posts

The Joys of Judging

PETA Targets Elementary School Students for Anti-Circus Propaganda

Hal Daub, Chip Maxwell Among Nebraska Right to Life PAC Endorsements

Obama's "Inappropriate Giggling"

Another "Green" Politician Calls for Population Reduction (The Population In Question Always Being the Other Guy)

Those Pesky Patriots and Their Tea Parties

Obama's Ooops Continue (And Even Some in the Liberal Press Are Noticing)

The Joys of Judging

Our experience at the Lincoln Spring Classic Speech and Debate Tournament yesterday was terrific. The organizers really make a production out of their gratitude to the volunteer judges: plenty of thanks, plenty of direction, plenty of food -- and plenty of joy in seeing how remarkably accomplished in intelligence, poise, preparation, communicative skill, values and courtesy are the home school students arrayed for these contests.

Claire judged a speech session each in the categories of informational and interpretative. Mine were extemporaneous and humorous. Then we each also judged a round of debate.

It was a real treat to see how well the contestants performed and we came away impressed (as always) at the quality of persons being produced by those home schools where, in addition to moral character, intellectual strengths are emphasized.

PETA Targets Elementary School Students for Anti-Circus Propaganda

Would the PETA pixies really stoop to dressing like a cuddly elephant, handing out scary "activity books" (including a cute little puzzle using words like "whip" and "bull hook") to little kids in front of an elementary school, trying to convince them how wicked and cruel is the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus?


Hal Daub, Chip Maxwell Among Nebraska Right to Life PAC Endorsements

Denise Ashby, PAC Director for Nebraska Right to Life has announced the group's endorsements regarding the upcoming Omaha and Lincoln city races.

Omaha Mayor -- Hal Daub

Omaha City Council --
Dist. 1------Sharon Chvala
Dist. 2------No Endorsements
Dist. 3------Chip Maxwell (sole endorsement due to NRL PAC policy of showing preference to grassroots pro-life activists).
Dist. 4------No Endorsements
Dist. 5------Jon Blumenthal & Jean Stothert
Dist. 6------Franklin Thompson (sole endorsement due to NRL PAC policy of showing preference to incumbent)
Dist. 7------Chuck Sigerson (incumbent)

Lincoln City Council --
3 At Large Positions------Adam Hornung & Ken Svoboda (incumbent)

Lincoln Public Schools Board of Education --
Dist. 1------Kirby Young
Dist. 3------No Endorsements
Dist. 5------Norman Dority, Kevin Keller & Mike Laughter
Dist. 7------Andrew Ringsmuth

Obama's "Inappropriate Giggling"

James Lewis has an excellent article over at American Thinker in which he reviews Team Obama's weird response to the host of crises facing America ("inappropriate giggling"), their brazen exploitation of those same crises in behalf of a socialist power grab, and what action must be taken now by conservatives to stop this madness.

Is it conceivable that a president would want matters to get worse?

Lincoln did not pray for a Civil War to befall the country to make him look good; just the opposite. Washington and the Founders did not want the Revolutionary War. FDR did not actually want to worsen the Great Depression, though he ended up doing just that according to some economic historians.

To be sure, New Deal Democrats deliberately parlayed economic crisis into political opportunities. FDR's sidekick Harry Hopkins never stopped trying to "Tax and tax, spend and spend, elect and elect." The Hopkins formula kept the Democrats in control of Congress for forty years, and now they are trying it again with a trillion-dollar Harry Hopkins Memorial Act. Even European socialists are aghast at our gluttonous Democrats.

Needless to say, the Hopkins formula led to decades of stupid and destructive social policies, devastating Black families that had managed to stay together during the worst years of Dixiecrat oppression in the South, corroding our inner city schools, popularizing abortion and divorce, rationalizing hedonism and drugs, undermining the work ethic, setting women against men, the poor against the rich, illegals against citizens, and phony liberal pacifists against American national security. The Left sprinkles poison seeds wherever it goes -- which is why even Vladimir Putin (!!) just advised us not take the Marxist road to ruin, like Russia did. Imagine that...

Another "Green" Politician Calls for Population Reduction (The Population In Question Always Being the Other Guy)

I've brought your attention to this fellow before ("British Government Official: Key to Global Warming Fight Is More Contraception & Abortion") but Jonathon Porritt hasn't yet gone away.

Of course, he hasn't. He's not going to jump off any bridges to get things rolling.

For Porrit believes (like all his anti-natalist, oligarch pals) that there's too way many of you people in the world. Of his kind (refined, from the right stock, from the right schools and holding the right opinions), there are never enough.

But you people? Oh no. The planet has already got its hands full with the Jonathan Porritt crowd so you people need to go ahead and do the right thing: just get off!

And how many must make their goodbyes for Porritt to be satisfied? Well, the guy is nothing if not ambitious. He argues that Great Britain cannot be "sustainable" unless it reduces its population by millions!

Indeed, Porritt suggests 30 million people is the top limit. Talk about Darwinian radicalism -- that's about the number in Great Britain when the "monkey's uncle" himself was making carbon footprints.

Porrit isn't alone in this grand "people phobia" and this article in the London Times describes a few of his compatriots -- folks whose silly ideas are, in practice, quite sinister.

Those Pesky Patriots and Their Tea Parties

"Tea Parties" (Thank you, Rick Santelli) are happening all over America, "parties" which are clever, peaceful protests of the Barack Obama/Democrat bailouts, tax increases, swelling deficits, and spend-crazy shenanigans. This clip gives you just an idea:

But, take away the local TV stations and the occasional story in a newspaper, and you wouldn't know anything about this large and ever-widening grassroots protest. And, if the traditional press had its way, you never would.

John Hinderraker at Power Line writes: "For some reason, reporters and editors believe it is not news when thousands of people, all around the country, gather to protest the government's bailouts, trillions in debt, etc. And yet, when a mere forty people turned out in Connecticut for an ACORN-sponsored bus tour of homes owned by AIG executives, there were more media people covering the event than there were people on the bus. So let's see: conservative and libertarian opposition to the government's economic initiatives--not news. Far left opposition to the government's economic initiatives, no matter how few participate--that's news..."

An editorial in Investor's Business Daily pointed out that the "tea parties" not only involved thousands of people across America but that they were drawing citizens who had never engaged in any kind of public protest. And IBD also commented on the MSM's politically-driven "dereliction of duty."

...Bloggers and local press do cover these events, and to give credit due, so did Investor's Business Daily in a front-page story Feb. 28. But the national TV and print media are conspicuous by their absence. Some big news outlets see these events as atomized and unlikely to lead the nightly news. Others aren't interested because they're well outside media centers.

But the real reason the major media aren't interested in these protests is that they don't agree with them. In the final analysis, these affairs are really taking issue with the political party they helped elect without hiding bias in the last election.

That's why a small scrum of Acorn-financed wackos on a bus tour to intimidate AIG execs last weekend made the news while the tea parties didn't.

But unlike the staged, sparsely attended Acorn event, the tea parties are national, growing and indicative of a shift of public sentiment. If proof is needed, one need look no further than the attention the protests are getting from the Obama administration.

One of the biggest protests so far drew 15,000 on March 8 in Fullerton, Calif. But a Los Angeles Times blogger dismissed the event as "a radio stunt" because it was organized by local radio deejays. There was no explanation why the Times and other media were all over a 2006 immigration protest that was also called by deejays.

It wasn't far from Fullerton that President Obama chose to make a series of Southern California town hall visits in the wake of Santelli's criticism to sway the locals to reverse course and back his pro-spending agenda.

The media may have been dismissing the protests as insignificant, but Obama's political sharpies knew a challenge when they saw one.

The mainstream media only hurt themselves by ignoring news. If the Obama camp takes tea parties seriously, so should its toadies in the press.

Obama's Ooops Continue (And Even Some in the Liberal Press Are Noticing)

Noemie Emery reviews the pitiful performance of Barack Obama's young presidency in this D.C. Examiner column. Read it in full right here.

Well, that was fast.

On March 20, only two months after the cosmic anointing, Vanity Fair, of all people, unloaded on Barack Obama, in the terms it had reserved for the past four or five years for the likes of George W. Bush.

Well, not the whole magazine, but one of its writers, media writer Michael Wolff, took an axe to the president, in a posting beginning “Sheesh, the guy is Jimmy Carter,” ending “This guy is leaden and this show is in trouble,” and titled “Barack Obama is a Terrible Bore.”

The same day, ex-fan Peggy Noonan called him “insubstantial and weightless...not fully focused...jumping from issue to issue and venue to venue from day to day.” “The administration’s difficulties...have created an unfortunate impression of incompetence,” said The Economist. Politico noted that his skills as a salesman have begun to desert him.

It all came at the end of what Rick Klein of ABC News called Obama’s ‘lost week,’ which got worse on Sunday, when he was attacked by the New York Times in three columns and one editorial. One warned of an oncoming fall of Katrina dimensions. And these were his friends.

Actually, since he was sworn, in most of his weeks have been lost ones, or at least weeks headed downward, the problem being that three or four variations on the theme of incompetence have had time to harden and set...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Be It Resolved...

Claire and I are zipping down to Lincoln today to serve as judges for a few rounds of the Lincoln Spring Classic Speech and Debate Tournament, an annual event that draws home school contestants from all over Nebraska and even beyond.

Blogging will resume tomorrow.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Today's Posts

Nebraska's Proposed Ultrasound Law: Caring, Constitutional and Plenty of Common Sense

Julie Schmit-Albin, the Executive Director of Nebraska Right to Life sent the following note to Nebraska's State Senators. It's one I think you'll appreciate reading too. And for the proactive among you (that should cover you all!), you might like to use a point or two from Julie's letter to spice up a brief letter to your own senator. How about it?

Dear Senators:

Perhaps you have seen the front page of today's Omaha World-Herald showing a photo of a pregnant woman receiving an ultrasound. I checked online and the photo accompanying the story entitled, "Job Losses Add to Lines at Clinic" does not show the same photo. I think this photo in the print version is very instructive. As you can see from the photo, the ultrasound screen is off to the right side of the woman's shoulder, swiveled in the direction of the woman. The baby is clearly visible on the screen and as it appears that the mother is pretty far along in her pregnancy, it looks like this is a 3-D or 4-D ultrasound which shows the developing baby very well.

LB 675 would provide that the abortion facility personnel swivel the ultrasound screen towards the mother, as in this photo. Having had numerous obstetrical ultrasounds I can assure you there is no way the technologist can conduct such an ultrasound and have the screen positioned front and center in front of the mother where the mother's abdomen and legs must be. The screen is always positioned off to the side of the patient's shoulder and head, either on the right or left; usually on the right. LB 675 would not force the mother to look at the ultrasound screen but it would be displayed towards her so she could choose to view or not view what is on the screen.

You can see from this photo in the OWH how easy it is (would be) for the abortion facility personnel to swivel the ultrasound screen just enough so that it is out of view of the mother. That is what we believe is occurring now, requiring the mother to have to ask to view her own ultrasound. LB 675 would remedy that and put the burden for full informed consent back on the abortion facility and allow the pregnant woman to decide whether or not she wants to view what is just off to her side.

A "Euthanized" Child -- And the Parts Played by a British Court, a Hospital and 80 Heartless Lawyers

Do the courts always know better than the parents? Well, knowledge or even morality aren't really relevant to the matter, are they? For at least when it concerns abortion, education, or medical care, the State has just assumed the right to take over.

Here's a story from Great Britain concerning a baby boy who was "euthanized" against his parent's wishes. It's a story involving improper medical care, poor legal oversight, a tyrannical court, 80 heartless solicitors...and a grieving couple whose infant son has been killed.

New York Governor Paterson's Approval Rating Plummets -- And This Story Sure Won't Help Him.

In the summer of 2005, then New York Senate minority leader David Paterson commissioned a thorough review of the Democratic conference and its staff. Paterson's lack of efficiency had already become an issue and, gearing up for an effort to take back the Senate, Paterson figured he'd better find out where things needed fixing. He appointed his close buddy, Malcolm Smith, the State Senator from Queens, to lead the study.

"Uh Oh Number One" -- The report showed things were even worse than what Paterson feared. And remember, it was an inside job. Smith had Meredith Henderson, Paterson's own director of human resources, conduct the interviews of Paterson staff members -- from his closest aides all the way down to office functionaries and research assistants. And the picture emerging from those interviews -- well, it wasn't pretty.

As Elizabeth Benjamin reports in the New York Daily News,

The report reveals an operation beset by infighting, larded with patronage hires and lacking any clear direction or vision from the top...

"Leader Paterson has a restaurant maitre d' style of management - whatever the members want," Jonathan Rosen, then a top staffer for Senate Democrats, told a Paterson aide who was tapped to interview staffers and compile their opinions.

"Paterson is afraid of the conference; leads by consensus," the report says Rosen believed at the time. "This is a huge liability."

One top aide who should have been imposing discipline instead boozed with subordinates and came to work hung over, one employee griped.

A politically connected hire had only one job: to make sure drawers were stocked with copier paper, another revealed.

Aides were promised the report would be kept confidential.

"Uh Oh Number Two" -- For all the good it did him, Paterson never should have commissioned the report. At any rate, he certainly ignored the advice it represented. As Benjamin suggests, the report revealed Paterson's office was "mired in chaos, lacking clear lines of communication and hobbled by dysfunction and indecisiveness" and yet it stands as "a devastating early look at the bumbling management style that would come to define Paterson's first year as governor."

"Uh Oh Number Three" -- The "confidential report" wasn't buried deep enough. A copy was obtained by the Daily News which made a very revealing, very embarrassing page one story out of it this morning. And it couldn't have come at a worse time. A new Siena College poll (Yes, they do more than play basketball up there.) puts Governor Paterson's approval rating at 19%.

Obama Watch: What You May Have Missed Over the Weekend

* "Obama Cracks Up: What the Worst Week of His Young Administration Says About the President" by Timothy Carney at the New York Post;

* "Orator Obama Shaping Up as Olympic Gaffe Gold Medalist" by Margery Eagan at the Boston Herald;

* Comandante Obama: The President Has Made America Look Like a Banana Republic" by Peter Robinson at Forbes;

* "Has a ‘Katrina Moment’ Arrived?" by pop culture columnist Frank Rich (a liberal, by the way) over at...can this be right...the New York Times. (And from what Jonathan Martin points out at Politico, Rich wasn't the only only New York Times writer giving "unfriendly fire" to President Obama this weekend. It came too from Thomas Friedman, Maureen Dowd, and the Times' lead editorial. Yipes.)

* "Tongue-tied Barack Obama Is Turning Into Jimmy Carter" by Tim Shipman at the Telegraph;

* "Barack Obama Is a Terrible Bore" by Vanity Fair columnist Michael Wolff at Newser.

"Islam Is Not a Religion of Peace. It's a Political Theory of Conquest That Seeks Domination By Any Means It Can."

"Islam is not a religion of peace. It's a political theory of conquest that seeks domination by any means it can."

Ayaan Hirsi Ali has good reasons for making that statement before a Palm Springs audience. And in this balanced news story from the Palm Beach Post, you'll see why.

For more on Ayaan Hirsi Ali, see this previous Vital Signs post and this post from over at The Book Den.

American Home Owners Are "Soured" on Chinese Drywall

As a fellow who hung Sheetrock way back in high school (back in the days when you used hammers because nail guns hadn't been invented), I've always had a fondness for the stuff. But this CNN story was troubling on many more levels than just messing with my fading memories.

First, there's the agony these folks are going through. Second, it's another example of lousy quality control by the Communist Chinese. But third, and certainly the most far-reaching tragedy, it illustrates one of the key reasons the American economy is so weak and vulnerable; namely, our historic industrial strength is just that -- history!

Americans create less and less every year. Pressured by environmental laws, labor unions, confiscatory taxes, and bureaucratic red tape, American manufacturers are going under or going abroad. And American consumers, naively preferring momentary bargains for quality, have become dupes for the shoddiest of products...even when those products are made from slave labor and even when they're made by our nation's enemies. Sigh.

Anyhow, here's the story:

Officials are looking into claims that Chinese-made drywall installed in some Florida homes is emitting smelly, corrosive gases and ruining household systems such as air conditioners, the Consumer Product Safety Commission says.

The Florida Health Department, which is investigating whether the drywall poses any health risks, said it has received more than 140 homeowner complaints. And class-action lawsuits allege defective drywall has caused problems in at least three states -- Florida, Louisiana and Alabama -- while some attorneys involved claim such drywall may have been used in tens of thousands of U.S. homes.

Homeowners' lawsuits contend the drywall has caused them to suffer health problems such as headaches and sore throats and face huge repair expenses.

The drywall is alleged to have high levels of sulfur and, according to homeowners' complaints, the sulfur-based gases smell of rotten eggs and corrode piping and wiring, causing electronics and appliances to fail.

"It's economically devastating, and it's emotionally devastating," said Florida attorney Ervin A. Gonzalez, who filed one of the lawsuits. It would cost a third of an affected home's value to fix the dwelling, Gonzalez said.

"The interior has to be gutted, the homeowners have to continue paying mortgages, and they have to pay for a [temporary] place to live," Gonzalez said...

"It Is Twilight In America Now."

A must for your Monday reading is Michael Goodwin's New York Daily News column.

Everybody makes mistakes, and I made a beaut the other day. I was wrong to call members of Congress blow-hards and buffoons and declare them worse than useless.

I was too kind.

I should have said our representatives are gangsters in pinstripes and pearls. They are petty tyrants and the more power they grab, the more at risk we are. Homeland Security should flash Code Red any time this Congress is in session.

It is twilight in America now. The House vote to use the tax code to retroactively punish bonus babies was an act of sheer madness. What started as phony outrage at AIG has crossed the line into insane policy. It is stunning that the vote was lopsided and bipartisan.

The Senate is itchy to go along, and President Obama says he's ready to tighten the thumbscrews on the banks. Is there no adult who will bring a straitjacket?

We should all be very afraid. Class warfare is mere predicate for a witch hunt that, once unleashed, will not stop with misbegotten wealth. It will punish success and stifle innovation. Dissent will invite dishonor.

That Congress is a gang of cheap connivers is not news. Chris Dodd, Charlie Rangel, Charles Grassley, Barney Frank - they have been national embarrassments for years.

But now they are dangerous, emboldened by public fear and anger. They know nothing, but have power and smell opportunity for more.

Missing in action is the Barack Obama who vowed to unite the country around common values. Lately he has been the very opposite of the man he promised. Instead of hope, many have a growing fear of the arrogant government he leads...

...In truth, there is no history for what he is doing. He is the most radical President of our times, far outside the mainstream of our political philosophy.

He is not a reformer who fixes things. He fancies himself "transformative," a man who reshapes and reorders. It apparently begins with smashing the existing order under the pretext of managing the crisis he inherited.

During the campaign, a fellow journalist confided that "I know Obama is a Manchurian candidate, I just can't figure out what for."

I laughed then, but no more. Obama represents a secular religion that believes, no matter the malady, Washington is the antidote. More government is the chicken soup of his tribe.

It is an illusion of many Republicans and Democrats that Washington can successfully manage the economy and our lives. Our institutions and culture are too big, too diverse and too unruly to be run like a banana republic.

Yet the economic mess has robbed the nation of its confidence, and the vacuum is being filled by politicians bearing promises and borrowed dollars. The true cost of this "help" will come later, with back-breaking debt and a lack of growth and opportunity.

We can't say we haven't been warned. "Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad" is more than folklore. It predicts our fate if we follow the government mob.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Today's Posts

Hanging Out With My Science Friends

Last night I hung out for a few hours with "my science friends."

At least that's how Claire jokingly referred to my invitation to a strategy meeting of the Nebraska Coalition for Ethical Research. The NCER is a critically important organization, devoted to exploring the best and most humane solutions to some of society's most pressing medical problems. And the people who are involved with them are top-notch scientific researchers, academicians and medical doctors.

So what was I doing there?

Sure, I'm on the NCER's Advisory Board and have been since the group was founded in 2001. But that just begs the question. Why does such a group find the need for an aging pro-life activist, a fellow whose areas of expertise (if such a term can be used) lie in Bible teaching, slices of American history and, I suppose, classic rock and roll?

Relevant to their invitation, I'm sure, was that I had for some time addressed pro-life "frontier issues" like embryonic stem cell experimentation, cloning, in vitro fertilization, and genetic engineering in articles, conferences and the "Vital Signs" radio program. That concern is still reflected in my public speaking and, of course, it has found its way into frequent posts on this blog.

Probably relevant also was the fact that I am an evangelical. And NCER, rightfully desiring to present itself as more broadly based than just a Catholic movement, was looking for people to represent that fact.

But I think the most important reason a few non-scientists were pulled in as part of the NCER team was that it will take all kinds of folks to counter the huge amount of misinformation, distortions and deliberate manipulations of the media that have so far ruled the day on the issue of stem cell research.

Yes, the intellectual credibility of NCER certainly depends on the expertise and experience of the pro-life scientists that they have assembled. And I can tell you that they are indeed an outstanding group: dedicated, courageous, extremely knowledgeable and highly principled. They're the ones fighting on the front lines which, in this case, means the laboratories, the university classrooms, and the behind-closed-door meetings of academics looking to raise funds.

But then to take these sometimes complex science issues and break them down into practical forms: political advocacy, letters to editors, high school classes, doctor's offices, donations to groups like NCER, public awareness, pulpit messages, prayer meetings, and so on -- Well, that takes additional team members, each with their own spheres of influence. That's where the family physician comes in...and the lawyer...and the political advocate...and the landscaper...and the housewife...and all the way down to cats like myself.

So I gladly serve in what small capacity I can with NCER as an advisor. But I know my primary tasks in the fight against the brutal (and counter-productive) immorality of embryonic stem cell experimentation will be performed right here on this blog and in my other duties as a pastor, a speaker, a financial supporter and a citizen advocate.

And it is in duties like those that NCER can use your help too. Pray for them. Try and give an occasional donation to help them with their increasing workload. Stay informed about the basic facts in the stem cell controversy. (If a liberal arts kind of guy like me can understand them, you can too.)

And then tell others. You can do this by encouraging them to bookmark the NCER website. You can forward Vital Signs blog posts that deal with stem cell issues to your e-mail lists. You can write letters to the editor, and your political representatives, and your local university regents. (More on that specific matter next week.)

Together, even laymen like you and I can make a difference by helping out the front line warriors do their thing. And I can tell you from how impressed and challenged every time I hang out with "my science friends," NCER is made up of just the kind of warriors we need.

Next week I'll describe a few of the things from last night's meeting as well as outline that very important writing project involving the NU Regents that I mentioned. Until then I suggest you take some time this weekend to look around the new NCER site AND to read this excellent Human Events article, "Wasting Tax Dollars on the Wrong Research." Written by David Prentice and Clarke Forsythe, this article is a great primer on the politics and the shamefully wasteful spending involved in embryonic stem cell research.

The Simplest Way to Eliminate Carbon Footprints? Eliminate Feet.

The latest proposal from the global warming alarmists? Why we need to regulate family size, of course.

Hearkening back to the tired and discredited theories of anti-natalists like Paul Erlich, a couple of Oregon State academics are saying there's way too many people out there commuting and consuming and, doggone it, just breathing! Therefore, any kind of lifestyle change one makes (recycling, driving less, using energy alternatives) is actually pretty useless. But not having another baby? Well now; that keeps two more feet from leaving any carbon footprints whatsoever.

There's a cold logic here, of course. Yet the premise it rests upon is unscientific and the radical solution proposed is outrageously radical and immoral. And, just in case you think a couple of loonies from OSU are the only ones proposing this preposterous scheme, think again. The same suggestion was made last summer in an article published in the British Medical Journal.

Check out this fine video clip from Co2 Science to learn more.