Friday, July 31, 2009

Today's Posts

Denny Reads Fr. Val

Perhaps I’m not the most likely person to review a book written by a Roman Catholic priest, a book whose very title emphasizes the author’s audience to be American Catholics. After all, I am an evangelical, the director for nearly 30 years of an evangelical organization and the teaching pastor of Faith Bible Church, a small evangelical congregation in south Omaha, Nebraska. What on earth could Fr. Val Peter’s Seven Challenges Facing 21st-Century Catholics say that would be of interest, let alone personal benefit, to me?

The answer is..

Well, the answer can be found by reading the rest of "Unplugging Secularism: An Evangelical Appreciation of Fr. Val Peter’s Seven Secular Challenges Facing 21st-Century Catholics" over at The Book Den.

The Crucial Mission Field In Our Midst

“It is our care of the helpless, our practice of loving kindness, that brands us in the eyes of many of our opponents." (Tertullian)

S. Michael Craven, the President of the Center for Christ & Culture, has a challenging and extremely insightful essay over in Dakota Voice describing why (and how) the Church must radically improve her service to the aged, infirm and lonely.

Really -- a great article.

Quick Hits

* The report is that there were no apologies made in the Let's Have a Beer in the Rose Garden Party. That means that Sergeant James Crowley successfully resisted what certainly has been tremendous pressure for him to cave in to political correctness. Good for him. But it also means that Professor Gates and President Obama who did have plenty to apologize for remained stubborn and arrogant. They didn't learn a thing.

* Barack Obama is on the cover of Time for the 12th time in as many months.

* "As currently written, both the House and Senate bills pave the way for taxpayer-funded abortions and insurance mandates on abortion. Yet, Catholic Charities USA, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and the Catholic Health Association have banded together to promote the legislation."

* Speaking of his morning intelligence briefings in which the ever-increasing threats of "home grown" terrorist attacks on U.S. citizens are emphasized, Attorney General Eric Holder says, "In some ways it's the most sobering part of the day." (Makes you wonder what else his day entails, huh?)

Here's an interesting headline from the Sunday Times (U.K.): "Dying with Dignitas is Starting to Look Grubby." Apparantly euthanasia doesn't look so tender and sweet when you get up close and personal with it. The article includes this observation from a woman who once worked at the Swiss suicide clinic: "There is nothing dignified or uplifting about it. The word 'clinic' is an exalted epithet for just one person who has found a way to make a lot of money out of death and the fear of it."

From the "They Just Aren't Stimulated Enough Department" comes this tidbit -- A "disparate collection" of Congressmen and lobbyists is pushing hard to get just a little bit extra added on to that $787 billion "stimulus" from February. At least $88 billion extra.

* It turns out that Associate Attorney General Thomas J. Perrelli (No. 3 dude in Team Obama's Justice Department) was the guy who pulled the plug on the investigation of voter intimidation involving Black Panthers. So where was Holder...or Obama? And why haven't they stepped in to right this obvious wrong?

Thank You. Your Tax Donations Just Helped a Lot of People Buy New Cars.

Should anybody have been surprised that when the government poured a billion dollars into that public trough called the "Cash for Clunkers" program there would be a greedy run on the money?

Yep, that billion dollars and then some is already gone. (It took just 6 days!) But some politicians are now insisting the government give yet more.

Forget Hertz -- let Team Obama put you in the drivers seat! At taxpayer expense.

"If they can't administer a program like this, I'd be a little concerned about my health insurance," car salesman Rob Bojaryn said.

For more detail, see also Conn Carroll's "Cash for Clunkers: A Case Study in Why Obamanomics Is Failing" over at the Foundry's Morning Bell. Very good.

Scott Wesley Brown Reflects on "The Terrorism of the Left"

Christian musician/missionary Scott Wesley Brown is one of our favorites. He's a thoughtful, sincere, humble and visionary man -- and yes, very talented. I have spoken about Scott before on the blog including mentioning his helpfulness to Vital Signs Ministries in our early days. In that post I also gave you a link to "When America Is Not America Anymore," a stirring video clip he produced to accompany his song.

Even if you watched it then (I gave the link a year ago), I'd encourage you to do so again. It's really terrific.

But here's another tip: Scott has a blog entry that I found particularly striking and I'm pretty sure you will too. Entitled, "Terrorism of the Left," it is a sobering reflection on Dinesh D’Souza's book “The Enemy At Home.”

Life Isn't All Battle, Guys -- You Gotta' Take Time to Sing and Dance!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Today's Posts

"The Potential for Disaster is Virtually Unlimited."

After many a disappointment with someone, and especially after a disaster, we may be able to look back at numerous clues that should have warned us that the person we trusted did not deserve our trust.

When that person is the President of the United States, the potential for disaster is virtually unlimited.

Many people are rightly worried about what this administration's reckless spending will do to the economy in our time and to our children and grandchildren, to whom a staggering national debt will be passed on. But if the worst that Barack Obama does is ruin the economy, I will breathe a sigh of relief.

He is heading this country toward disaster on many fronts, including a nuclear Iran, which has every prospect of being an irretrievable disaster of almost unimaginable magnitude. We cannot put that genie back in the bottle-- and neither can generations yet unborn. They may yet curse us all for leaving them hostages to nuclear terror...

The desire of many Americans for a "post-racial" society is well-founded, though the belief that Barack Obama would move in that direction was extremely ill-advised, given the history of his actions and associations.

This is a president on a mission to remake American society in every aspect, by whatever means are necessary and available. That requires taking all kinds of decisions out of the hands of ordinary Americans and transferring them to Washington elites-- and ultimately the number one elite, Barack Obama himself.

Like so many before him who have ruined countries around the world, Obama has a greatly inflated idea of his own capabilities and the prospects of what can be accomplished by rhetoric or even by political power. Often this has been accompanied by an ignorance of history, including the history of how many people before him have tried similar things with disastrous results...

While the mainstream media in America will never call him on this, these repeated demonstrations of his amateurism and immaturity will not go unnoticed by this country's enemies around the world. And it is the American people who will pay the price.

(Thomas Sowell, "Disaster in the Making?" -- July 28)

Team Obama's Scary Science Fiction Guru

Let's face it. John P. Holdren, the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, is a nutcase.

Whether evidenced by his "old ideas" about compulsory sterilization and abortion laws being necessary to save the planet from overpopulation or his "new ideas" like jetting pollution particles into the upper atmosphere to reflect the sun's rays and thus save the planet from global warming, the guy is dangerously bizarre.

Here's more from his "old ideas" file; namely, passages from the book he co-authored with the population-panicked Paul Ehrlich, Human Ecology: Problems and Solutions.

“To a biologist the question of when life begins for a human child is almost meaningless, since life is continuous and has been since it first began on Earth several billion years ago,” wrote the Ehrlichs and Holdren. “The precursors of the egg and sperm cells that create the next generation have been present in the parents from the time they were embryos themselves. To most biologists, an embryo (unborn child during the first two or three months of development) or a fetus is no more a complete human being than a blueprint is a building. The fetus, given the opportunity to develop properly before birth, and given the essential early socializing experiences and sufficient nourishing food during the crucial early years after birth, will ultimately develop into a human being. Where any of these essential elements is lacking, the resultant individual will be deficient in some respect.”...

“Those who oppose abortion often raise the argument that a decision is being made for an unborn person who ‘has no say,’” write the authors. “But unthinking actions of the very same people help to commit future unheard generations to misery and early death on an overcrowded planet.”...
“The third approach to population control is that of involuntary fertility control. “Several coercive proposals deserve discussion mainly because societies may ultimately have to resort to them unless current trends in birth rates are rapidly reversed by other means.”

“Compulsory control of family size is an unpalatable idea, but the alternatives may be much more horrifying. As those alternatives become clearer to an increasing number of people in the 1970s, we may well find them demanding such control. A far better choice, in our view, is to begin now with milder methods of influencing family size preferences, while ensuring that the means of birth control, including abortion and sterilization, are accessible to every human being on Earth within the shortest possible time. If effective action is taken promptly, perhaps the need for involuntary or repressive measures can be averted.”

Will Professor Gates Apologize for His Racism, His False Charges, His Lies?

Andrew Cline over at The American Spectator describes how the evidence is already in -- and that evidence is stacked against the spurious, racist-inspired yarn spun by Henry Louis Gates Jr.

Will President Obama bring that up when he pours the beer?

Sudanese Women Beaten for Wearing Trousers

Reports of the vicious mistreatment of women under Islam seem endless and yet the media continues to underplay them, politicians are silent about them, and even "feminist leaders" conveniently find other issues to worry them.

In this case, a Sudanese journalist (Lubna Hussein, photo at left) is on trial in Khartoum and facing a punishment of 40 lashes for...wearing trousers in public! This is a crime as decided by country's strict Islamic laws.

Two others are also on trial -- but ten other women who were arrested at the same time have already undergone beatings at the police station.

The Blue Dog Dems Need to Listen to Their Constituencies

Even Obama's favorite news channel is telling him the country is opposed to his hair-raising schemes on health care.

Despite his public-relations blitz over the past two weeks to promote his plans to reform the nation's health-care system — including holding two town halls on Wednesday — President Barack Obama has lost ground on this issue with the American public, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

Pluralities now say that the president’s health care plan is a bad idea, and that it will result in the quality of their care getting worse. What’s more, just four in 10 approve of his handling on the issue.

The poll also finds that Obama's overall job-approval rating has dropped to 53 percent. And it shows a public that has grown increasingly concerned about the federal government's spending as the administration defends its $787 billion economic stimulus and supports a $1 trillion-plus health-care bill...

“This is a president who needs a vacation,” says Democratic pollster Peter D. Hart, who conducted the survey with Republican pollster Bill McInturff. “His job rating is … certainly an acceptable mark. But if you look at it over time, it has [gone] south without a doubt.”

Other polls have the President and his health care plan (the over-reaching, gargantuan one he isn't well versed in himself) doing even worse with the public.

So why are those Blue Dog Democrats rolling over and giving the Prez his bone?

Propping Up Obama: The Media's Job One

President Barack Obama bumbles, fumbles and stumbles his way towards ending democracy in America and destroying her economic strength. He is naive and timid when it comes to protecting our country's interests and only bold and energetic when it comes to promoting abortion, sexual deviancy and socialism.

Even his vaunted oratorical skills turn out to be bogus, a mix of soaring phrases without meaning, wild distortions and even outright lies...served up on ever-present teleprompters to keep him from sounding like a boring boob.

And yet the media continues to treat him as the Anointed One. Unbelievable.

A case in point is provided here in this puff piece by the Associated Press which was run as a lead story on Yahoo. In it even Barack Obama's remarkably dim-witted racism (accusing the Cambridge police of "acting stupidly" when in the proper performance of their duty) and then dragging the affair onto his own stage without ever offering a simple apology (once again, it's all about him) is somehow twisted into a glowing achievement.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Today's Posts

Throwing Rocks or Throwing Lies: A Sidewalk Counseling Moment

Spending recent Sunday mornings at Faith Bible Church in Chapters 21-24 of Acts, one of the topics we've looked at is the intense and irrational rage directed at St. Paul by Ananias, the unbelieving leaders in the Council, and Paul's enemies from Asia who had been stalking him for months. It was a hatred that had led to serious breaches of the Law, lies, profaning the temple, and a murder plot by over 40 conspirators who were willing to risk the wrath of Rome on themselves and the people of Jerusalem for the slim hope of silencing the apostle of the Way forever.

It makes for riveting but chilling reading.

Why this compulsion to kill Paul? There are several attendant reasons: arrogance, power lust, jealousy, fear. But the most important of all was simply that Paul represented Jesus Christ. And, as Jesus had warned his followers, they will hate you and persecute you and lie about you and direct all sorts of evil against you...because you represent the Christ.

Men hate the light because they love the darkness. They suppress the truth in unrighteousness. They want to bury (deep and forever) anything that challenges their self-centered worldview. And to do so they will lie, malign, cheat, turn hypocrite against even their own moral standards, and sometimes proceed to violence against the source of conviction. Anything and everything to strike back against the light.

These issues were fresh on my mind then last Monday, the day immediately following my sermon on Acts 24, when I was out in front of the Bellevue abortion mill with my big, beautiful baby sign and my flowing banner which reads, "Mom, We Care About You and Your Baby." (Claire and Carol were on the east side of the building near the entrance.) Having been a sidewalk counselor for nearly 30 years has pretty much hardened me to the taunts, the nasty jeers, the threats and the imbecilic slogans that come from the street. But for the first hour the oppression was certainly above average, giving me plenty of pause to think about how the malignant motives and malevolent methods used by Paul's enemies in the first century were the same that Christians face in the twenty-first.

And yet I was still caught off guard when the police cruiser rolled up later in the morning and I found myself being accused of...get this...throwing a rock at one of the abortion clients! I've often said that nothing surprises me anymore. I was wrong -- this did.

The cop, a grumpy sort of fellow who openly admitted that the job had made him a cynic, took the whole thing quite seriously. He had already grumbled at Claire and Carol before spending 30 minutes inside the abortion clinic -- 30 minutes in which we thought he might have been watching us through the cameras set up around the building to see if we were walking in front of a driveway or something. Nope; he was getting the lowdown from the abortionists about the claim by one of the abortion clients that one of us (Dick Loneman had arrived shortly before this particular couple had driven in to the lot) had thrown a rock at her.

We were calm and courteous (always advisable towards a cop) but when he started asking for addresses, phone numbers, Social Security numbers and employers, I asked, "Officer, may I ask why on earth you need all this information? You know this is a bogus charge. So why the hassle?" The policeman gave me a steely gaze, "I've learned not to believe anybody."

"Yeah, I understand," I said, "but seriously, man; can't you see the absurdity of a 58-year old man, the director of a Christian organization for 30 years and a pastor of a church, throwing a rock at someone? I mean, look at my signs. I want to appeal to these people to come over and talk to me about the alternatives to abortion. I want them to know I'm their friend, that I'm on their side. A rock? Look at those cameras ringing the building. Am I going to toss a rock with those trained on me. They won't miss a trick. And, for crying out loud, look over at the young man who is still sitting inside the vehicle. Why don't you ask him if I threw a rock at his girlfriend and, if he says yes, ask him why he sat on his duff and didn't come out to confront me."

The cop only repeated himself that he couldn't afford to believe anyone. Sigh. I replied, "Yeah, okay; I've got that. So why don't you just go in and see what the cameras showed. I mean, they're all over the place and we're glad they are because it protects us from goofy charges like this one. Go ahead, man; it's a simple enough solution. Just go watch the tape."

His reaction surprised us. He kind of stammered about "that kind of thing, uh, well that evidence isn't always see, we sometimes need to gather that at a later know, the processing of that takes time and..." Huh? Did he not notice the cameras? Had he noticed them but had been told by the abortionists that they weren't working? (That would have been a convenient lapse seeing that the tape would have absolved us of the scurrilous lie.) Perhaps the fellow's Humean skepticism extended to photographic images as well.

By this time Claire was present and was discreetly videotaping the conversation. The officer went ahead gathering info from Dick and I (which we politely gave) so that he could complete an official police report. But he then assured us that it would be a closed matter. Oh, really? Like even a Sarpy County prosecutor would relish trying to make this stick? Goodness.

But then I seemed to hear the apostle whisper, "Remember Ananias? Remember Felix? How about Festus and Herod Agrippa II? Reason and justice can be easily cast aside even in courts of law when the hatred of Christianity is intense in a culture."

Yeah; that's right. And we have undergone such things over the years. I was once arrested on a Saturday morning for breaking a picketing law that had been overthrown because of a successful lawsuit I had won against the City of Omaha just a few days before. I showed the policeman the front page newspaper story about the matter and urged him to at least call his watch officer before making such a dumb arrest. Didn't matter. I spent most of the day in a lock up.

Another morning a young woman was literally being dragged into the abortion clinic. She was screaming for help and I went to her aid only to be physically attacked by several abortion escorts -- this while other escorts aided the girl's mother in pulling her into the abortion clinic. This was done in front of dozens of witnesses. Yet when the police arrived, not only did they refuse to go rescue the girl who was being forced into an abortion, they arrested me! The county prosecutor declined to take the case forward. That was nice but then he wouldn't pursue any charges whatsoever against the abortion escorts.

Yet another case that comes to mind (I'm afraid I could cite several) was when Kevin Carney was arrested for blocking the entrance to an abortion clinic driveway. Kevin had several character witnesses who explained he didn't do this kind of thing. Plus he had two witnesses who were present with him on the very morning of his arrest. They testified that he had not blocked any driveway. The abortionist came up with two witnesses who said that Kevin did -- though their testimony was convoluted and wildly contradictory. (They had been sequestered and didn't realize that while one claimed Kev had blocked the south driveway, the other claimed he had blocked the one on the north side!) Nevertheless, he was convicted! (Our appeal though was successful.)

So yes, "reason and justice can be easily cast aside even in courts of law when the hatred of Christianity is intense in a culture." Therefore, our trust must be as Paul's was -- in the providential wisdom of the gracious God, the God of light and truth and mercy, the God Who gives His children a joyful strength to endure everything from taunts from the street and feckless charges of rock-throwing to the much more severe trials of unjust scandal, imprisonment, and even violence that faced our Lord, the apostles and countless martyrs throughout history.

"Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matthew 5:11, 12)

Obama's Racial Bigotry Is Showing...Again

I’ve been travelling and so have only just been catching up with the Obama race row over the altercation between Henry Louis Gates and the Cambridge, Mass. police. Strikes me this is no storm in a teacup. Look at the Fox News clip that Tim Montgomerie highlights here for some extremely sharp comments indeed, particularly by Charles Krauthammer. Even after Obama started rowing back, noted Juan Williams of NPR, he was still getting the facts wrong, claiming that Sgt Crowley had led Gates out of his house whereas this was ‘just not true’.

This affair is toxic because it touches many nerves: America’s neuralgic conscience over its historic racism, the monstrously unjust over-reaction to that racism, and the election of a President who supposedly embodied, in both his identity and his approach, a post-racial New Man and an absolution for past national sins. Now the mask has slipped, and even those with Obama stars in their eyes can’t hide their dismay.

As regular readers of this blog know, I have been banging on from the start of Obama’s rise to power about the astonishing discrepancy between how he was presented by the media on the issue of race and what he actually had said and done. His whole background from the earliest days onwards was steeped in anti-white grievance politics of the most bitter and corrosive kind. This was all ignored. His two-decade membership of an anti-white church was ignored, his early anti-white mentors such as Frank Marshall Davis were ignored, his participation on the Nation of Islam ‘Million Man march’ and his association with Nation of Islam cadres were ignored.

And as Krauthammer aptly observed – and as I wrote here – Obama’s major speech on race in March 2008 in which he finally ‘renounced’ his former pastor, the anti-white bigot Rev Jeremiah Wright, which was hailed as the greatest piece of oratory since the Gettysburg address and which supposedly transcended racial animosities to create the colour-blind Brotherhood of Man, was anything but. In this speech Obama actually said Wright should not be renounced, and that Wright’s racism was actually all the fault of white people. The fact that so many people failed to hear or read what Obama actually said and instead heard or read only what they wanted to hear was truly frightening...

(Melanie Phillips, The Spectator July 27)

This Is Why A Strong Protection of Conscience Law Is Needed

Here's the New York Post story about the Brooklyn nurse who is suing Mt. Sinai Hospital for forcing her to choose between her religious convictions and her job by being ordered to assist in a late-term abortion against her will.

A Lot of Government Leads to a Lot of Crooks

Big Government is why New Jersey created only 6,800 private sector jobs from 2000 to 2007—while public sector jobs grew by more than 55,800. Big Government is the reason New Jersey ranks as the worst of 50 states on the Small Business Survival Index. And Big Government is a leading reason New Jersey has a “corruption problem” that an FBI agent at Friday’s press conference characterized as “one of the worst, if not the worst, in the nation.”

Sandy McClure, co-author of the book “The Soprano State: New Jersey’s Culture of Corruption,” agrees that big government is a big reason behind the state’s corruption problem. “You have all these little authorities that everyone has to go to for permission,” she says. “Too much government means too many opportunities for officials looking to cash in. And there’s no way that the press can keep track of it all.”

Ms. McClure is right: The more extensive government’s reach, the more opportunities the governing class has to steal from and shake down the productive class...

The point is that politicians and officials have more to sell in an environment of high taxes, big spending and overregulation—the same things that help explain New Jersey’s anemic economic growth and job creation. When government gets too big and complicated for businesses to get their permits and approvals and funding honestly, the dishonest prosper. And the honest get fed up and flee...

The Wall Street Journal's take on the latest New Jersey corruption scandal makes for intriguing (and alarming) reading.

Congressman Conyers: Why Do I Have to Actually Read What I Vote On? The Aides and Lawyers Will Tell Me What to Do.

During a speech at the National Press Club the other day, House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (Democrat from Michigan), wondered aloud why Congressmen should be expected to read the bills they vote on.

Said Conyers in a remarkable admission, “I love these members [that] get up and say, 'Read the bill.' What good is reading the bill if it’s a thousand pages and you don’t have two days and two lawyers to find out what it means after you read the bill?”

Betsy Newmark comments: "So I guess that the excuse is that, since they can't read it or understand it, it's fine just to let the House leaders (who probably haven't read the whole thing either) reassure you that the whole thing is just fine. At least some representative's aides somewhere have read some part of the bill so that should be enough, right? Who says that when you're rejiggering over one-sixth of the US economy and incurring massive future debt that you need to know what it is you're voting on."

Why the Scimitar Falls

A high school friend recently sent me a link to Rabbi Eliezer Melamed's recent article in Arutz Sheva, "Islam Lives by the Sword." It's a fairly compact but very cogent review and I'm pleased to pass it on.

Your Wednesday Tea Break (Swing Time)

Have a little swing with your tea this afternoon. Start with the Benny Goodman Orchestra doing "Perfidia" with the matchless Helen Forrest on the vocals. Next tap your toes to a 1942 version of "Tangerine" played by The Squadronairs (aka The Royal Air Force Dance Orchestra). Then get ready to turn up the volume a bit and join the Glenn Miller Band in shouting out the most famous phone number in history, "Pennsylvania 6-5000."

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Is That Old Book Den Still Open?

These past 18 months have been pretty harried around here. In addition to our regular responsibilities with Vital Signs Ministries, we've taken on the preaching at Faith Bible Church (with the hours of study that requires) as well as the extra attention needed to care for my Mom. So naturally, when you add things to your schedule, you have to subtract others.

And one of the things that has been subtracted is keeping current with our literature-oriented blog, The Book Den.

I hadn't made an entry over there since last January.

It's not because I wouldn't love to keep up with The Book Den. And it isn't that I've stopped reading books. It's just that vexatious matter of having so few hours in a day.

Still, I haven't taken the blog down for two reasons. 1) I keep thinking things will settle down and I'll be able to create new posts over there. For I really did enjoy doing so. And I relished the positive response I received, the discussions it generated with new friends and old, and all the tips that readers shared with me about books and music they were enjoying.

And 2) because The Book Den continues to serve. As I wrote of Vital Signs Blog last February, "One of the most interesting things about running a blog is that your posts never really go away. Though they leave your front page and even your own memory banks, those posts remain there in cyberspace, ready to zoom up on someone's computer screen. At the touch of a keyboard. Anywhere in the world.

All it takes is a reference link or, more likely, a search engine and, Voilà -- there it is again."

And so The Book Den remains open. True, it's rather dusty and dimly-lit. And quiet too -- there's only 30 or 40 visitors who will stroll through the place in the course of a whole day. But there are still gems to find in the shelves.

The most popular discoveries over there (in recent months) have been "Arthur Miller's Greatest Work Was Never Performed;" "White Nights, Dark Dreams: Revisiting Dostoevsky;" "Dorothy Sayers's Surpassing Song of Roland;" "The Perils of Shangra-La: A Review of James Hilton's 'Lost Horizon:'" and "Over 16 Years of Books: The Notting Hill Napoleons' Reading List to Date" compiled back in May 2008.

There's also enduring interest in GK Chesterton entries, Sherlock Holmes stuff, the poetry of Josephine Tey and others, Christmas suggestions, and the sections on For Children (Of All Ages) and Five Star Recommendations.

So why not drop in when you've got a few minutes to browse? Who knows? Maybe you'll even find a new entry over there. (Wink, wink and nudge.)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Today's Posts

ObamaCare: It Definitely Ain't Good For What Ails You

Yikes indeed!

Read "Obamacare: It's Even Worse Than You Think" by James C. Capretta & Yuval Levin in the Weekly Standard. Then go lie down in a quiet room for awhile.

Believe me; you'll need to.

"Professor Gates Seems To Go Around With His Prejudometer Permanently Cranked Up To 11"

In case you missed it from last week, here's excerpts from the incomparable Mark Steyn's initial weigh-in on the Gates/Crowley/Obama affair. Great stuff.

By common consent, the most memorable moment of Barack Obama's otherwise listless press conference on "health care" were his robust remarks on the "racist" incident involving professor Henry Louis Gates and the Cambridge police. The latter "acted stupidly," pronounced the chief of state. The president of the United States may be reluctant to condemn Ayatollah Khamenei or Hugo Chávez or that guy in Honduras without examining all the nuances and footnotes, but sometimes there are outrages so heinous that even the famously nuanced must step up to the plate and speak truth to power. And thank God the leader of the free world had the guts to stand up and speak truth to municipal police Sgt. James Crowley.

For everyone other than the president, what happened at professor Gates' house is not entirely clear. The Harvard prof returned home without his keys and, as Obama put it, "jimmied his way into the house." A neighbor, witnessing the "break-in," called the cops, and things, ah, escalated from there. Professor Gates is now saying that, if Sgt. Crowley publicly apologizes for his racism, the prof will graciously agree to "educate him about the history of racism in America." Which is a helluva deal. I mean, Ivy League parents remortgage their homes to pay Gates for the privilege of lecturing their kids, and here he is offering to hector it away to some no-name lunkhead for free.

As to the differences between the professor's and the cops' version of events, I confess I've been wary of taking Henry Louis Gates at his word ever since, almost two decades back, the literary scholar compared the lyrics of the rap group 2 Live Crew to those of the Bard of Avon. "It's like Shakespeare's 'My love is like a red, red rose,'" he declared, authoritatively, to a court in Fort Lauderdale.

As it happens, "My luv's like a red, red rose" was written by Robbie Burns, a couple of centuries after Shakespeare. Oh, well. 16th century English playwright, 18th century Scottish poet: What's the diff? Evidently being within the same quarter-millennium and right general patch of the North-East Atlantic is close enough for a professor of English and Afro-American Studies appearing as an expert witness in a court case. Certainly no journalist reporting Gates' testimony was boorish enough to point out the misattribution...

Professor Gates seems to go around with his Prejudometer permanently cranked up to 11: When Sgt. Crowley announced through the glass-paneled front door that he was here to investigate a break-in, Gates opened it up and roared back: "Why? Because I'm a black man in America?"

Gates then told him, "I'll speak with your mama outside." Outside, Sgt. Crowley's mama failed to show. But among his colleagues were a black officer and a Hispanic officer. Which is an odd kind of posse for what the Rev. Al Sharpton calls, inevitably, "the highest example of racial profiling I have seen." But what of our post-racial president? After noting that "'Skip' Gates is a friend" of his, President Obama said that "there is a long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately." But, if they're being "disproportionately" stopped by African American and Latino cops, does that really fall under the category of systemic racism?...

Why Keep Local Cops Out of the Loop of the Federal Law Enforcement Advisory Board?

"The fact that the president spoke about an incident he really knew nothing about was unprofessional and disgraceful for a man in his position," said one New Jersey police chief who requested anonymity because he reports to a Democratic mayor who supports Mr. Obama. "I believe it's an indication of his lack of respect for local police officers, possibly because he cannot control them directly as he can federal law enforcement agencies.

"An example of this attitude toward police officers may be a reason why [state and local] cops were excluded from having a seat at the table of a new federal law enforcement advisory board," he added.

Read the rest of "Obama's Disdain for Blue" written by Jim Kouri (vice president of the National Association of Chiefs of Police) here.

Racism's Most Horrific Crime? Abortion.

...In America, we subconsciously devalue black babies. We are tricked into thinking a black child has less value than a child of another race.

Though U.S. law prohibits discrimination on the basis of race in various contexts, including employment, education and housing, black babies are still openly targeted and discriminated against.

Where's the proof? It's right in front of our faces. In recent YouTube videos there were several instances wh
ere Planned Parenthood representatives were willing to accept racist donations, even to the point of being "excited" at the possibility of taking money specifically earmarked to kill a black baby.

Planned Parenthood's e
ager acceptance of these donations reflect the racist and eugenic principles of its founder, Margaret Sanger. This business mainly profits from the large number of abortions it provides -- 37 percent of those abortions are performed on black women. Black America needs to face reality. We need to understand what this business is really all about...

Day Gardner has a compelling op/ed in this weekend's Washington Times. Read the rest right here.

TV Programs Including More Homosexual Characters

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation just announced that ABC got the "highest ranking" of all five broadcast networks in their annual Network Responsibility Index. ABC had 24% of its programs representing homosexual characters last season.

But among all national networks, HBO was much higher still -- 42%.

The Racial Rage (And Perhaps Racial Confusion) of Professor Henry Louis Gates

You think this guy's got some issues?

Henry Louis Gates, when applying to Yale University, wrote the following: "As always, whitey now sits in judgment of me, preparing to cast my fate. It is your decision either to let me blow with the wind as a nonentity or to encourage the development of self. Allow me to prove myself."

You would have thought that Gates' attitudes might have softened a bit when he discovered years later that he was "57% white" but his temper tantrum thrown towards a police officer last week suggests little maturation has occurred.

W. R. Wansley has written an illuminating essay on this matter for American Thinker entitled "Impersonating a Victim." I print excerpts below.

This past March 29th, Professor Henry Louis Gates was being interviewed in front of a small group by Walter Isaacson on C-SPAN's Book TV. Thirty-three minutes into the discussion about his new book on Lincoln, Professor Gates began a detailed account of his own genealogy. He said that in doing so he had discovered he was about "50% white". He said that this was quote, "To my astonishment and horror...".

He continued by saying that he had subsequently sent his DNA off to be tested. This time, upon finding out he was "57% white", he said again, "to my horror .... I was becoming more white by the minute". To this Gates, Isaacson and everyone else there chuckled.

Something tells me that if Mr. Isaacson had said that he also had sent his DNA off and found that to his "astonishment and horror" he was 57% black, no one would chuckle, least of all the Professor of African American Studies at Harvard, Dr. Gates...

The Gates arrest fiasco has put into sharp focus the difference between class and race in America. It has also contrasted the pseudo victimhood of Gates with the legitimate victims of Jim Crow. His defenders try playing the tattered race card but it doesn't work this time. "Black men are arrested in greater proportion than whites", they squawk. If Gates is indicative, now we know why.

We have now all heard the verbal abuse Gates hurled at the officer -- who was called to protect his property. Gates theatrical reaction to the situation: "This is what happens to a black man in America!" What? Returning to your posh residence from your trip to China and having a neighbor look out for you by reporting suspicious behavior in your upper-crusty neighborhood and having a white public servant come check on your place for you -- is that what "happens" to you in America, Dr. Gates? Swing low sweet chariot.

Immune to embarrassment he continues undaunted. When he is asked by the officer to step outside, Gates articulately replies, "I'll step outside with yo'-mama!" The words of his repartee ring hollow -- even pathetic. And funny too -- but alas I am laughing at him not with him. What a joke.

Until now I have thought highly of Dr. Gates. Regrettably he has been unmasked as another successful black man unable to come to terms with a country that has given him so much, but he is required to hate as part of the milk-the-guilt charade. He now reminds me of Jeremiah Wright, a man who lives in a million dollar mansion in a gated community where he continually smolders with hatred for the country that has "persecuted" him so.

The President, Gates and Wright: three conspicuously successful black Americans irritably fixated on race. Perhaps Wright is dealing with some of these same white genealogy issues as Gates and the President -- pray tell?

Congratulations to the Man of Steal.

Among the earthly pleasures that I will long treasure is having watched Rickey Henderson play baseball.

After just a couple of years in his major league career, there wasn't any doubt that Rickey would someday be in the Hall of Fame. It's only been a long time coming because he played for so long!

Congratulations, Rickey.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Today's Posts

And You Thought Democracy Was Free

1) Money buys power.
2) Special interest groups control the agenda.
3) Authentic democracy dies.

In this USA Today article (not a line of which criticizes the sweet deal described), Fredreka Schouten reminds us how government really works.

Lobbyists and businesses that employ them donated $5.8 million last year to foundations affiliated with congressional groups, a USA TODAY analysis of federal lobbying data shows.

Nearly all of it — $5.7 million — went to non-profit groups connected to the Congressional Black Caucus and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, according to the analysis.

Under congressional rules, the caucuses face limits on how much public money they can use to support their activities. They also are barred from using private funds to operate. However, nothing stops lobbyists from writing big checks to the non-profits connected to caucuses.

Giving to a caucus-related group is a way to earn favor with a large number of lawmakers, said Sheila Krumholz, of the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics. Lobbyists "get to rub shoulders with lawmakers and their families in a relaxed comfortable atmosphere," she added. "It's all conducive to building cordial relationships that you can later cash in on."...

Preborn Babies Can Remember

They weigh less than 3 pounds, usually, and are perhaps 15 inches long. But they can remember.

The unborn have memories, according to medical researchers who used sound and vibration stimulation, combined with sonography, to reveal that the human fetus displays short-term memory from at least 30 weeks gestation - or about two months before they are born.

"In addition, results indicated that 34-week-old fetuses are able to store information and retrieve it four weeks later," said the research, which was released Wednesday.

Scientists from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Maastricht University Medical Centre and the University Medical Centre St. Radboud, both in the Netherlands, based their findings on a study of 100 healthy pregnant women and their fetuses with the help of some gentle but precise sensory stimulation...

"It seems like every day we find out marvelous new things about the development of unborn children. We hope that this latest information helps people realize more clearly that the unborn are members of the human family with amazing capabilities and capacities like these built in from the moment of conception," said Randall K. O'Bannon, director of education and research for the National Right to Life Educational Trust Fund.

A call to NARAL Pro-Choice America for comment on the implications of the research were not returned...

(Washington Times, July 16)

Barack Isn't a Doctor; He Just Plays One on TV

From today's edition of FishWrangler comes a spot-on description of just how badly President Obama is selling his health care plan. (I've put in bold print some particularly useful lines.)

The cartoon is by Steve Kelley.

For many years now Americans have had to become more informed consumers of health care. It is more difficult to get insurance companies to pay for treatment so people do more research to find out which tests, treatments and medications are necessary. With the wide dispersion of the internet it has become easier to do the necessary research. This might not be such a good thing for Barack Obama’s health care goals.

By now many Americans know that they might need to take some personal responsibility to see that test results move with them from doctor to doctor. They know that doesn’t have to be the “big problem” that Obama tries to paint it as. I would imagine that millions of Americans are sitting there thinking, “I know how to keep that from happening. I have actually done it for my son. This guy wants to oversee a total overhaul of the system and he doesn’t even know as much about seeing doctors as I do. No thanks.”

People who have researched medications for themselves or loved ones know that the difference is often much more complicated than the president’s example of two pills that are equally effective and differ only in price. People do not lose time or sleep over such questions. The real difficulty comes when an insurance company has decreed that there is only one medication that is acceptable in a situation when the doctor and the informed patient know there is a more expensive medication that is well known to be more effective. Obama either doesn’t know that such circumstances arise or he wants to act like they do not exist. There are a lot of people out here that know better. And Obama’s blatant parading of his ignorance for all to see cannot be increasing the level of trust.

And does he have to keep reminding me how much better his insurance is than mine? That’s just going to remind me that he has lacked motivation to become a more informed health care consumer.

"Flipping Through the Tax Codes" (To Find Ways for You to Fund ObamaCare)

Sometimes the biggest laughs come when reporters don't realize they're being funny.

Check out this passage from the Wall Street Journal story about Peter Orszag, the administration's point man for controlling health-care spending:

The wonkish economist likes to say he doesn't have a "license to practice politics." But with problems brewing, the technocrat sprang into the thick of the political haggling...

After his TV appearances, he went straight to the Senate Finance Committee, where he spent three hours with committee aides brainstorming about how to pay for the trillion-dollar legislation. At one point, they flipped through the tax code, looking for ideas...

ObamaCare: The Facts Don't Fit the Flap

President Obama is talking up his socialist health care package at every turn -- but he's lying through his teeth. As S. A. Miller over at the Washington Times points out, it's not just Republicans who are bothered by the absurdities and misrepresentations of ObamaCare, independent fact-checkers who bother to read the thing are pretty bothered too.

And here's more from the A.P.

The Contradiction of Child Endangerment Laws in an Abortion Culture

Our culture's attitudes about abortion and child protection are worse than schizophrenic; they are wickedly arbitrary.

Consider the Oregon couple who will likely go to jail for "criminal mistreatment" of their daughter because they failed to have her treated by a doctor for a neck cyst that impeded her breathing and eating. The couple discounted the cyst as a family trait and believed their 15-month old girl merely had a bad cold. Furthermore, they belong to a church which discounts medical treatment, depending instead on prayer and faith healing.

The little girl died. And the evidence suggests a simple antibiotic would have saved her.

That this couple was tragically misinformed about the positive relationship of Christianity to the medical arts and sciences is clear. They acted foolishly and, whatever their motives (the jury concluded they were a "loving couple" who certainly meant no harm to their daughter), they were properly prosecuted.

But what of those couples who stroll into abortion clinics every day -- couples who purposely seek the death of their children by paying an abortionist "hit man" to do the barbaric deed?

The District Attorney who prosecuted the Oregon couple was "saddened and disappointed" by the trial verdict because he had sought a conviction for manslaughter. He said afterward, "We continue to believe that the facts are clear in this case" and added that his office "will continue to aggressively enforce the laws that require parents to protect their children regardless of their religious faith."

Laws that require parents to protect their children? Which laws?

There is the crux of the madness. For there are laws in America that require a parent to protect his or her child from harm. And yet, at the same time, there are laws allowing, even enabling a parent to have his or her child brutally killed by an abortionist.

I can only say it again. Our culture's attitudes about abortion and child protection are worse than schizophrenic; they are wickedly arbitrary.

To Keep It All In Perspective (Twila Paris)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Today's Posts

Don't I Know You?

Claire and I had just left the nursing home yesterday and were trying to get our errands done in time to have dinner before nightfall. We had skipped lunch (too busy) and still had a few lawn chores to do as well, so we stopped off at a TCBY for a cone.

There were three young adults (2 guys and a girl) sitting outside the place enjoying their frozen yogurt and as we approached we heard one of them say to his buddy, "Man, everybody knows you." The other young man replied, "Yeah, it's kinda' weird. At least, they think they know me."

At that point I stopped and looked over. "Say, excuse me; but don't I know you?"

The kids were still laughing when we walked in the building.

Later we sat at the same table outside to have our TCBY cones (sugar free peach and root beer, respectively) and reflected a bit on what it was to have been young. Claire never seems that far from her youth but mine seems an eon ago. I know I was around for basketball and football practice, drive-in movies, Turtle Waxing my '53 Chevy, for strolling down the line at high school sock hops -- but it's all quite hazy, as if I was remembering somebody else's experiences and not my own.

Maybe it's because my life had become so sordid and hopeless those last couple of years before I became a Christian that I've buried stuff pretty deep. Maybe it's because I can't really "get into" those memories that pre-date Claire.

And maybe it's because those things are, in point of fact, very long ago!

But maybe it's also because (despite all the sorrows, frustrations and difficulties that face us in our work with Vital Signs Ministries) I'm content with life -- pleased to be of service in the kingdom of heaven; delighted at my marriage/friendship with Claire; and most confident about the glorious future that awaits me.

Joking with those kids yesterday evening prompted us both to recall our youth a bit. And that was fun. But as we drove away (with sticky fingers and a lot still left to do), we were even more joyful in reflecting on how gracious God has been to us in our 38 years together.

And, if I really want to, I can still get out the Turtle Wax.

A Culture "Seriously Messed Up"

This has been making the e-mail rounds so you may have already read it. I hadn't. So thanks, Jeanna. You're right; it's one to share.

Ed McMahon died this week. He was a great entertainer, but prior to his stage accomplishments he was a distinguished Marine Corps fighter pilot in WWII earning six Air Medals. He was discharged in 1946 and volunteered to fly again in the Korean War. He joined the California Air National Guard and was later promoted to the rank of Brigadier General.

Farrah Fawcett died this week after a long career in Hollywood as an actress. After she was diagnosed with cancer, she became an activist for cancer treatment and devoted her last remaining years encouraging people to seek treatment. She documented her plight on film and used it to encourage others to stay positive and upbeat despite their diagnosis and suffering.

Karl Malden died this week after a long career in Hollywood as an actor. He also served in the US Air Force during WWII and also served on the US Postal Service committee to review and recommend commemorative stamps. In 2005, the US House of Representatives authorized the US Postal Service to rename a Los Angeles post office the Karl Malden Postal Station.

Michael Jackson died this week. He was perhaps one of the greatest singers of modern time. He will also be remembered for his eccentric lifestyle that included sleeping with a chimpanzee, living in a carnival-like atmosphere at Neverland, his fascination with Peter Pan, and his numerous masks and costumes. He also admitted to finding pleasure sleeping with young boys and paying out millions of dollars in settlements to the families of these boys despite being acquitted by a court on one allegation of sexual molestation.

QUESTION 1) - Which of the above did the House of Representatives declare a moment of silence for today? (Hint - It wasn't one of the first three.)

QUESTION 2) - Which of the above's family received a personal note of condolence from President Obama? (Hint - It wasn't one of the first three.)

Seriously messed up.

No News Is Good News? (Lisa Benson)

Walter Cronkite: Longtime Campaigner for Abortion

Before we put Walter Cronkite aside, Patrick B. Craine from LifeSiteNews has an important reminder for us about one of the seamier sides of Cronkite's liberalism.

Famed CBS news anchor Walter Cronkite has been lauded in the media since his death on Friday, at the age of 92, with tributes paid not only from secular media, but even Vatican Radio and other Christian news sources.

But while remembered by many as "the most trusted man in America," many of Cronkite's more radical, but lesser known views, would be considered repugnant even to many of his greatest fans.

For instance, up until his death Cronkite served as honorary chair of the Interfaith Alliance, an organization dedicated to countering the influence of conservative Christianity on federal politics. In 2007, the Alliance initiated a campaign to force Christianity out of the public sphere by promoting policies that would silence the Christian voice. They recommended that churches be prohibited from endorsing political candidates, that research and health policies should not be based on "religious doctrine," and that faith-based schools should be banned, among other things.

Part and parcel with Cronkite's campaign against religion in public life was his outspoken vocal support of abortion and same-sex marriage. In 2003-2004, for example, Cronkite wrote a column for King Features Syndicate, which was published in about 180 newspapers throughout the U.S. In the column he discussed 'Marriage and Abortion', expressing disregard for "conservatives" who oppose abortion and same-sex "marriage."

"It certainly is the right of the anti-abortionists and those who oppose gay marriages to defend, express and even propagandize their beliefs," he says, "but is it their right to impose their definition of morality on those who hold opposing views? The answer is a resounding 'no'. ... This columnist believes that among conservatives and liberals alike there is a majority who would put the sanctity of individual rights even above the sanctity with which some would endow the banning of abortion and gay marriage."...

In 1965, before abortion was made legal in the U.S., Cronkite made CBS the first network in America to feature a documentary on abortion when he hosted the hour-long episode of CBS Reports entitled 'Abortion and the Law', which can be found on the CBS News website.

The documentary claimed to tackle the controversial issue impartially, dealing with the "legal, moral and medical aspects," but in fact, it amounts to an hour-long argument in favour of legal abortion. Amidst a barrage of experts spouting the need for abortion and women giving horrifying testimonies about illegal abortions, Cronkite pays mere lip service to the pro-life viewpoint.

In his introduction, Cronkite states: "As long as the abortion laws remain unchanged, abortion will continue to be a critical problem, and for those involved, they call for desperate decisions that result in dangerous medical complications.

"Women have abortions for all kinds of reasons. The unmarried girl abandoned by the father of the unborn child, the girl who'd rather not have a child than marry the baby's father, but 80% of the women who have criminal abortions are married. They're women who feel they cannot afford another child, or fear they are too old to bear another baby, or that the baby may be born abnormal."

At one point Cronkite introduces a doctor who is supposed to speak on the emotional effects of abortion, but while mentioning the trauma of losing one's child, the doctor emphasizes the emotional impact of having to obtain an illegal abortion in secret.

Towards the end the documentary discusses the status of abortion in other countries, including in Europe, Asia, and South America, and ending in Chile, with Cronkite describing the horror of illegal abortion there. According to Cronkite supposedly 1 in 4 Chilean women had had an abortion, while the documentary shows (in decorous 1965 fashion) the death of a woman from an illegal abortion.

"What happens in Chile is no different than what happens to thousands of women in the United States," Cronkite warns, "who are hospitalized each year because of post-abortion complications.

"While men of science, and law, and theology talk about medicine, and legality, and morals," he says, "hundreds of thousands of pregnant women, unmindful of what may happen to them, secretly and fearfully seek abortions. For them, there is a wide gulf between what the law commands and what they feel they must do."

Cronkite concludes, "We believe the moral, medical, social, and economic aspects of abortion should be opened to public discussion, for if changes in the law are advisable, this can only be done by the American people themselves. This is Walter Cronkite for CBS Reports. Good night."

Oy Vey! FBI Sting Nets Some Unusual Suspects

Have you heard the one about the rabbi, the politician, and the international money launderer?

The New Jersey Star-Ledger has the story here -- and sadly, it's no joke.

A New Jersey assemblyman and the mayors of Hoboken and Secaucus were among public officials arrested this morning by FBI agents in an international money laundering and corruption probe that includes rabbis in the Syrian Jewish communities of Deal and Brooklyn.

Assemblyman Daniel Van Pelt (R-Ocean), Hoboken Mayor Peter Cammarano, Secaucus Mayor Dennis Elwell and Jersey City Council President Mariano Vega are among those already brought to the FBI building in Newark. Jersey City Deputy Mayor Leona Beldini has also been arrested.

A total of 30 people have been taken into custody, officials said.

The arrests are the result of a two-year FBI and IRS probe that began with an investigation of money transfers by members of the Syrian enclaves in Deal and Brooklyn. Those arrested this morning include key religious leaders in the tight-knit, wealthy communities...

Agents also raided religious institutions to make arrests and collect information...