Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Today's Posts

Was the KGB "Working" the World Council of Churches?

Most conservatives believe (and correctly so) that such liberal religious groups as the World Council of Churches, the Conference of European Churches, and the Christian Peace Conference were naively seduced by "liberation theology" which, in turn, created sympathy for even the totalitarian regimes of the Soviet Union and its Eastern Bloc countries.

But a new book by Bulgarian Momchil Metodiev argues the connection was more than ideology. He says the KGB was more actively pulling the strings inside these groups than anyone dared imagine.

Here's a review of Metodiev's new book by Mark Tooley of the Institute for Religion and Democracy. It's a good article but Tooley's concluding paragraphs are particularly provocative.

Only after the collapse of East Bloc communism did some WCC officials sheepishly admit they should have said a bit more about religious oppression under communism. But they also disingenuously claimed that their cooperation with East Bloc churches and even East Bloc governments had opened doors that facilitated the Cold War’s peaceful conclusion. “The stances taken by the WCC in favor of justice and peace did not follow any KGB script, but the Gospel of Christ, the prince of peace whom we meet among the most vulnerable and suffering people,” Robra assured ENI.

Books like Metodiev’s, based on research in communist archives, increasingly are confirming that the WCC and other religious groups did follow the KGB’s script during much of the Cold War. The question is, as the WCC continues its far-left advocacy, whose script does it follow now?

Nebraska Advances Ground-Breaking Pro-Life Bill

Nebraska lawmakers moved the state back into the spotlight of the national debate over abortion on Wednesday night. On a 38-5 vote, senators advanced a bill that would set a "bright line" when abortions could no longer be performed in the state.

Legislative Bill 1103, which was advanced to the second round of debate, would prohibit almost all abortions starting 20 weeks after fertilization — a point selected because that's when some experts believe a fetus begins to feel pain.

The bill, introduced by Speaker of the Legislature Sen. Mike Flood and 22 co-sponsors, is sure to spark a new legal battle over abortion rights that could go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court...

The World-Herald later says that LB 1103 would "chip away at a key provision of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision." But, in truth, Roe v Wade was much more than a "landmark." It was a starkly unconstitutional decision which, in sweeping away each and every regulation of abortion that had been enacted by legislatures of all 50 states, was an affront not only to our nation's historic sanctity of life ethic but also to the balance of powers which are critical to the effectiveness of democracy.

And "chipping away"? Hardly a suitable term for something that would, in fact, build in the most common-sense and humane protection for viable preborn babies.

A better story was filed by the Lincoln Journal-Star:

The Nebraska Legislature took a step Tuesday night toward easing the state's abortion ban away from a nationally accepted standard of the viability of an unborn baby. A bill (LB1103) that gained first-round approval would move Nebraska's ban from the 24-week standard to 20 weeks.

But changing the date of viability wasn't the intent, said Speaker Mike Flood, the sponsor of the bill. "My bill doesn't have to do with viability. It has to do with when the fetus feels pain," Flood said. "That is a life ... worth protecting. To the extent there is consensus (on feeling pain), it's at 20 weeks," said Flood, of Norfolk.

At 20 weeks, the fetus will avoid painful stimuli, he said. Doctors give anesthesia to a fetus at that age when performing surgery or other procedures. The state has a duty to define its interests in the abortion debate, he said, and an obligation to protect life. The bill would be the first of its kind -- based on pain felt by a fetus.

Sen. Brad Ashford of Omaha, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, said Flood had done the state a valuable service in bringing a bill that allowed a discussion on where the line of viability should be drawn.

"I think Speaker Flood is right. I think the line is 20 weeks," Ashford said. "There is no question that there is fetal pain. ... Discussing this issue is very, very important."

The bill advanced to second-round debate on a 38-5 vote.

Lincoln Sen. Danielle Conrad, Lincoln Sen. Ken Haar and Omaha Sen. Brenda Council led the opposition to the bill, saying it was flawed, unconstitutional and put the state between a woman and her doctor.

Flood said he knew there was no more divisive issue than abortion. And it was particularly hard during the hearing on the bill to listen to situations of couples faced with advanced pregnancies in which unborn children had potentially fatal conditions. He didn't want to hurt people with his bill, he said.

"But I also ask the question, why does a baby that's going to be born with a disability become a better candidate for an abortion? Does their disability make them less human? Are they less deserving of the state's protection?" he said...

Senators accepted an amendment that would have the law go into effect on Oct. 15, three months later than it normally would become operative.

The law surely would be challenged in court, Conrad said, and both sides would need time to prepare for that.

Notes of thanks for Speaker Flood are very much in order. And other notes? Well, I'll let you know the vote breakdowns when they come in.

Easter Is Nearly Here. Bring Out the Atheists.

Easter approaches and that means, of course chocolate bunnies, cream eggs and the usual new atheists explaining why it's all nonsense. The new atheists are, however, actually just like the old atheists but not as intelligent or persuasive. Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and the rest have nothing new to say but say it in nicely packaged books that receive fawning reviews from people who seem more interested in agendas than truth.

Problem is, what should be dismissed as derisory makes many Christians panic; they simply do not know how to give the basic arguments for the faith when they're challenged...

And among the basic responses Christians should have for the Dawkins/Hitchens/Harris crowd is what was said by historians much closer to the events -- guys like Tacitus, Josephus, Seutonius, and Pliny the Younger (who had little reason to be friendly to Christianity) as well as the best historical records of all -- the gospels.

Michael Coren has a nifty little article here telling you more.

Gao Zhisheng Is Alive...But Not Free

He's been missing for over a year. But last Sunday, perhaps because they'd felt pressure from the international community, the Communist Chinese finally allowed human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng (who remains in secret custody) to speak briefly to his wife and children.

But though Gao Zhisheng is confirmed to be alive, the questions about his illegal arrest and imprisonment, possible torture and, most important, his future remain.

Back in March of 2009 I urged you to sign a petition created by ChinaAid which pleaded the cause of Gao Zhisheng. Thanks to the organization's efforts more than 130,000 have signed that petition to date, including many prominent political figures from around the globe.

No, Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi are NOT among those signatories. But YOU can be.

And you can help not only Gao Zhisheng and his family but the cause of human rights and freedom in Communist China.

My suggestions? 1) Watch the 7-minute video clip I post below. It is difficult to watch, I know. But it is important. It will expand our understanding and fuel our motivation to intercede in behalf of the innocent victims of Communist barbarism. 2) Say a few prayers. 3) Sign the aforementioned petition. 4) Use the same page to find out about sending appeals to U.S. Congressmen, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, and Chinese officials themselves. And 5) Please consider forwarding this post to others. We need many, many more to become aware of and respond to this brutal injustice. They deserve our best efforts.

Hope Is On The Move

The Hope Center for Kids has a new website. Check it out.

Where Is the Jewish Dissent of Obama's Dangerous Policies Towards Israel?

Ed Koch, veteran Democrat, former Mayor of New York City and an enthusiastic supporter of Barack Hussein Obama, is suddenly not amused with the President.

In portraying Israel as the cause of the lack of progress in the peace process, President Obama ignores the numerous offers and concessions that Israel has made over the years for the sake of peace, and the Palestinians' repeated rejections of those offers. Not only have Israel's peace proposals, which include ceding virtually the entire West Bank and parts of Jerusalem to the Palestinians, been rejected, but each Israeli concession has been met with even greater demands, no reciprocity, and frequently horrific violence directed at Israeli civilians.

Thus, Prime Minister Netanyahu's agreement to suspend construction on the West Bank - a move heralded by Secretary of State Clinton as unprecedented by an Israeli government - has now led to a demand that Israel also halt all construction in East Jerusalem, which is part of Israel's capital. Meanwhile, Palestinians are upping the ante, with violent protests in Jerusalem and elsewhere. And the Obama administration's request that our Arab allies make some conciliatory gesture towards Israel has fallen on deaf ears...

President George W. Bush made it a point of protecting Israel at the United Nations and the Security Council wielding the U.S. veto against the unfair actions and sanctions that Arab countries sought to impose to cripple and, if possible, destroy, the one Jewish nation in the world. Now, in my opinion, based on the actions and statements by President Obama and members of his administration, there is grave doubt among supporters of Israel that President Obama can be counted on to do what presidents before him did - protect our ally, Israel.

The Arabs can lose countless wars and still come back because of their numbers. If Israel were to lose one, it would cease to exist...
Supporters of Israel who gave their votes to candidate Obama - 78 percent of the Jewish community did - believing he would provide the same support as John McCain, this is the time to speak out and tell the President of your disappointment in him. It seems to me particularly appropriate to do so on the eve of the Passover. It is one thing to disagree with certain policies of the Israeli government. It is quite another to treat Israel and its prime minister as pariahs, which only emboldens Israel's enemies and makes the prospect of peace even more remote.

(Hat tip:

See You in November

(The clip was made by "misterdregs" and his son and passed on to me from several Facebook friends. Thanks all.)

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Today's Posts

A Life Lived in Gratitude

G.K. Chesterton once said that the root of all sin was ingratitude. He's right -- just read the first chapter of Romans.

Well, here are a few remarks from yesterday's sermon which deal with this subject also. I was preaching on Colossians 2: 6-15 and shared these comments about verse 7 in which the Christians of Asia Minor were described by the apostle Paul as "having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude."

...And note too, Paul is applauding them for following what they had been heretofore taught. That’s quite a different thing than what we hear nowadays – when everything’s got to be new and fresh and hip. We won’t tolerate anything that’s from yesterday, let alone from the last decade or from our parent’s generation. Old books, old music, old architectural styles, and old values – all that’s got to go to make room for the new stuff.

That is a very American attitude. A very apt perspective for the advertising age.

But it isn’t biblical.

The Colossians, however, were doing it right. They had carefully learned from their teachers and they cherished those lessons. They were overflowing with gratitude.

But, again, moderns seem to defy the virtue of gratitude. In the consumer society in which we live, we are programmed never to be satisfied, let alone grateful. We are made to always be in a state of dis-ease until we get this product or that. And it doesn’t even stop there. Because as soon as you buy that thing, you’re enticed to buy another or buy one of a different color or get the upgrade, etc. etc.

We have no staying power.

We aren’t grateful for what we have – products, services, lifestyles or looks, our nation’s heritage and values, the strengths of Western civilization, the historic depository of our Christian faith.

We aren’t grateful for any of it. We want more. We want something else. We want something new.

But God wants us to be grateful; indeed, to overflow with gratitude. For only then can we keep the correct perspective – only then can we look forward with the best lens, the lens of gratitude for what we already possess.

This is perhaps the biggest challenge to Christians living in the West today, to develop a life of gratitude. But just think how radically our lives would change if we did – the reduction of stress and worry and anger and second-guessing and blame and overspending and the fatigue that comes from trying to keep up with the Wal-Mart circulars or the TV ads or the latest, greatest, must-have church growth fad.

What our lives and families and nation and churches would be like if we cultivated gratitude for life…for creation…for the means to earn a living…for freedom, for the Constitution, for excellent literature and art and music, for family life, for the beauty of whatever area of the country we live in, for our spiritual heritage, for the Bible, for our salvation, for our blessed future in heaven.

You’ll never find greater solace and happiness in life than by finding your way to live “overflowing with gratitude” as the Colossian Christians did. But let's move on to verse 8...

Sinking. Sinking. CNN Has Sunk.

Bill Carter reports what must come as tough news for the New York Times -- tough news because they see their own future in CNN's remarkable slide into irrelevancy. As I have before (1, 2, 3, 4, etc.), I urge you to use this kind of thing as leverage in getting CNN out of your life altogether; i.e., your doctor's offices, convenience stores, coffee shops and airline terminals.

Just send the first few paragraphs of this New York Times story (or print off the page itself) and add your personal note with something like the following:

"As the evidence clearly shows, Americans turn off CNN when they have the remote controls at their fingertips. Why then should we be forced to watch it at your place of business? Please turn CNN off. And, if you absolutely have to have a TV on in your place of business, please make it Fox News (by far America's most popular cable TV news) or ESPN or the Food Channel or re-runs of I Love Lucy. Anything but CNN. Please?"

Here's the relevant paragraphs from the Times story. (Thanks,

CNN continued what has become a precipitous decline in ratings for its prime-time programs in the first quarter of 2010, with its main hosts losing almost half their viewers in a year.

The trend in news ratings for the first three months of this year is all up for one network, the Fox News Channel, which enjoyed its best quarter ever in ratings, and down for both MSNBC and CNN.

CNN had a slightly worse quarter in the fourth quarter of 2009, but the last three months have included compelling news events, like the earthquake in Haiti and the battle over health care, and CNN, which emphasizes its hard news coverage, was apparently unable to benefit.

The losses at CNN continued a pattern in place for much of the last year, as the network trailed its competitors in every prime-time hour. (CNN still easily beats MSNBC in the daytime hours, but those are less lucrative in advertising money, and both networks are far behind Fox News at all hours.)

About the only break from the bad news for CNN was that March was not as bad as February, when the network had its worst single month in its recent history, finishing behind not only Fox News and MSNBC, but also its sister network HLN — and even CNBC, which had Olympics programming that month.

CNN executives have steadfastly said that they will not change their approach to prime-time programs...

Petty Bureaucrats Deny Good Friday


It turns out that Davenport, Iowa isn't going to change Good Friday to "Spring Holiday" after all.

An oafish bureaucrat (City Administrator Craig Malin) sent round a memo to city employees declaring the change. But Mr. Malin is not only an ignoramus who doesn't know the social graces, U.S. history, or the Constitution, he doesn't even know the limits of his job.

"My phone has been ringing off the hook since Saturday," said city council alderman Bill Edmond. "People are genuinely upset because this is nothing but political correctness run amok."

Edmond said the city administrator made the change unilaterally and did not bring it to the council for a vote, a requirement for a change in policy.

"The city council didn't know anything about the change. We were blind sided and now we've got to clean this mess up. How do you tell people the city renamed a 2,000 year old holiday?" said Edmond.

It didn't take long for the city to resurrect the name Good Friday. Malin was overruled today and the words "Spring Holiday" disappeared.

It should be pointed out, however, that Malin isn't the only doofus in this arrogant power play. Davenport Civil Rights Commission chairman Tim Hart showed an equally inept understanding of government when he urged Malin to make the change. "Our Constitution calls for separation of church and state. Davenport touts itself as a diverse city and given all the different types of religious and ethnic backgrounds we represent, we suggested the change."

One might suppose that a basic requirement for a city official is to have actually read the Constitution. But apparently not in Davenport, Iowa.

Even ABC News (which filed this report) couldn't help but needle Hart a bit for his pompous ignorance.

Hart said the commission had no plans to change the name of Easter Sunday, because it fell on a weekend and government offices were already closed. The commission, he said, discussed changing Christmas, but decided enough other religions celebrate Christmas too. Hart, however, could not name one.

Obviously, the change that's needed in Davenport, Iowa has nothing to do with removing established holidays from the calendar but removing intolerant bureaucrats from city government.

What If the Church Hadn't "Aped the World?"

Rick Pearcey over at Pro-Existence has a couple of questions for American Christians:

If in the last 20 years evangelicals who say they are Bible-believing Christians had applied Scriptural teachings on not "aping the world" (a Schaefferian phrase) in regard to celebrityism, questionable marketing techniques, the bigger-is-better mentality, a despising of the individual, pretend "big name" authors, etc., and instead had demonstrated a high regard for truth in practice, the Lordship of Christ over both content and methodologies, and so on, how might the current cultural and political climate of deepening decline and even oppression from the federal government and its power blocs in Hollywood, media, and the campus have been avoided, resisted, and overcome?

And what might this suggest -- for individuals, churches, schools, publishers, and para-church organizations -- for future authentic Christian and humane engagement to be salt and light in this world?

The Nanny State

Repealing ObamaCare Isn't Going to Be Easy

Okay, here's the scenario -- the American people's disgust with ObamaCare and the Democrat's arrogance in passing it through lies, bribes, and breaking rules of fair play results in Republicans re-taking Congress in 2002 and even the White House in 2004.

Whew. Then we get rid of ObamaCare altogether, right?

Not so fast, says Mark Steyn.

...I'm not sure the British example is quite as comforting as [Mona Charen] thinks. Thirty years ago, Mrs. Thatcher did wonders, smashing the unions, privatizing government airlines and government automobile manufacturers and government coal mines and everything else, and selling off public housing to its tenants — and by 2012 I think the GOP might benefit from some similarly clear-cut, big eye-catching liberty signature policy.

But the Tories were never able to do anything about the health service, anymore than they can in Canada and elsewhere. In private, cabinet ministers agree it's a disaster and they wish it had never happened, but in public they're reduced to insisting, as even Mrs. Thatcher did, that "the NHS is safe in our hands." Why? Because a lot of people, once they've traded individual liberty for government security, never want to go back.

Read more at NRO here.

The States Are Fighting Back!

...But the congressional votes to pass Obamacare will not make the issue go away. It will stick around to plague the Democrats not only through the 2010 elections but for the rest of Obama's Administration.

The American people have figured out that the issue is not health care; it's freedom. It's whether Obama will succeed in "fundamentally transforming" the American nation, the first leg of which is to put complete control over every individual's health into the hands of government bureaucrats and their appointed "experts."

Opposition to this Obamanation is manifesting itself not only in Tea Parties, Town Hall Meetings, a tsunami of phone calls to the U.S. Capitol, and spontaneous demonstrations in unprecedented numbers. The revolt against Obamacare is also resonating in state capitols all over the country...

Phyllis Schlafly then goes on in her column to explain just how that is happening in Virginia, Idaho, Arizona, Oklahoma, Utah, and many other states. Encouraging stuff. She concludes:

Obamacare is a major weapon to carry out Obama's plan to transform America into a country of incredible debt, government control of industries, redistribution of taxpayers' earnings and savings to non-taxpayers, and massive authority exercised by weirdo Czars. The American people — and the various States — are not going to accept Obama's transformation.

Again, it's a hopeful read and you can find it right here at Eagle Forum.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Today's Posts

What Does ObamaCare Mean?

We Need a Star in Congress -- Star Parker!

Karl Marx Would Be Smiling

Obama Administration Wants Persecuted Home-School Family Sent Packing

Elvis' Free Concert for the USS Arizona

Your Wednesday Tea Break (Two Days Late)

What Does ObamaCare Mean?

We Need a Star in Congress -- Star Parker!

Author, speaker and the "thoroughly-converted" social activist Star Parker is running to represent the 37th Congressional District of California. Her opponent is Laura Richardson, the ultra-liberal incumbent.

Richardson is a budget-busting Democrat who enthusiastically supports ObamaCare. She has received 100% ratings from NARAL, Americans for Democratic Action, and Planned Parenthood while scoring 0% from American Conservative Union, The Club for Growth, Campaign for Working Families, Christian Coalition, Concerned Women for America, and Americans for Prosperity.

Richardson recently co-wrote the legislation that would legalize homosexual marriage in California.

And finally, Laura Richardson has been featured in CREW reports (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington) as one of Congress' "Most Corrupt."

Obviously, it's time to retire Laura Richardson and put a Star in Washington!

Here's Michelle Malkin on Star Parker's candidacy.

Here's the Star Parker for Congress Facebook page.

And here is the official Star Parker for Congress website.

Karl Marx Would Be Smiling

In his eulogy for Karl Marx deceased on March 14, 1883, his friend and fellow revolutionary Friederich Engels wishfully prophesized that Marx’s name “will endure through the ages, and so also will his work.” Hardly could he have imagined that his friend’s social vision would suffuse common political dynamics in the United States a little over a century later; that the eminent Speaker of the House would play his handmaid and the powerful President his dupe.

The disaster that played out last weekend set the high water mark of Marx’s influence on our great country. If we don’t see this we won’t understand recent events. His name wasn’t mentioned and his rhetoric wasn’t explicit. But his vision was alive: a reckless mendacity in the pursuit of goals; an almost savage disregard for democracy; a savioristic reliance on politics to transform the social order; and a forceful use of naked power as the principle of social change.

We witnessed the demonization of a class of people, the bourgeois in Marx’s scheme, the U.S. middle class, who from last summer have shouted a crescendoing “NO!” to a government health care revolution. They were called Nazis, bigots, obstacles to progress; they were bullied by thugs, characterized as stupid, and censored by the liberal media. Their reasons for opposing the revolution didn’t matter. The mere fact of it placed them on the wrong side in the dialectic of history, so they needed to be opposed...

So what now? As in the wake of Roe, we must begin a rear guard offensive. After the President signed the bill into law on Tuesday, fourteen States attorneys general filed suit over the constitutionality of the legislation. Find out if your State is one of them and support the effort. Learn the provisions of the new law. You will be forced to purchase insurance. But at least one insurance carrier in each State exchange is required not to provide abortion coverage, which means the majority of carriers will. Do your homework; find that carrier and support it. Next, when your representatives come home for Spring break, tell them what’s on your mind. Finally, polish your pointing finger for the November elections.

Dr. E. Christian Brugger, "Eulogy to Karl Marx," Culture of Life Foundation)

Obama Administration Wants Persecuted Home-School Family Sent Packing

In Germany (as in Sweden too) parents who would like to educate their children at home cannot do so without breaking the law. That's how far Statism has gone in those two countries. And, with the case of German police forcibly removing the children of Uwe and Hannalore Romeike from their home and that family's subsequent request for political asylum in the United States, this despicable totalitarianism was exposed to the world.

Federal immigration judge, Lawrence O. Burman, determined that the Romeikes had a reasonable fear of persecution for their beliefs if they returned to Germany. Indeed, he frankly described the German Government’s actions as “repellent to everything we believe as Americans." The German government, he said, was denying the family “basic human rights" and it's intolerance of home-schoolers (severe fines, threats of further criminal prosecution, taking their children away) amounted to nothing less than persecution.

With the German government's absurd claims that home-schooling is unsocial, dangerous and leads to the creation of "parallel societies," their enraged reaction to Judge Burman's decision was to be expected. The Nanny State wants absolutely no competition to its tyrannical rule -- not business, not the Church, not the family, and not even the individual. It is the attitude of Statists everywhere.

Therefore, I'm saddened but not at all surprised that the radical socialists which make up Team Obama are aggressively protesting Judge Burman's decision.

They want to send the Romeike family back.

It is a very troubling development, one that portends grave problems for the future of America's home-schooling families, that the United States Government Agency for Immigration and Customs Enforcement has issued an appeal of Judge Burman’s grant of asylum to the Romeike family. In that appeal, the U.S. government is calling homeschoolers too “amorphous” to be a “particular social group” and that “United States law has recognized the broad power of the state to compel school attendance and regulate curriculum and teacher certification” as well as the “authority to prohibit or regulate homeschooling.”

If this was a movie, it would now be time to start booing the villains.

But a movie, it ain't.

The Home School Legal Defense Association's Michael Donnelly said he too was not surprised by the actions of ICE or the arguments they presented. “It is disappointing but not surprising that ICE has appealed,” Donnelly said. “Judge Burman appropriately noted that homeschooling is legal in all fifty states, and his decision reflects U.S. law which upholds the right of parents to direct the education and upbringing their children as an enduring American tradition, entitling the family to protection from persecution. ICE argues that Germany’s denial of a parent’s right to homeschool for any reason is acceptable. It is shameful that ICE, and by extension the U.S. Government, supports the persecution of German homeschoolers.”

(Above photo taken from Christian Science Monitor story.)

Elvis' Free Concert for the USS Arizona

To hit a lighter note as you prepare for the weekend, here's an item I wrote yesterday for my Facebook page:

On this date (March 25) in 1961, Elvis Presley performed his first concert after being discharged from the U.S. Army. It was a benefit concert to help build the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.

Though held at the relatively small Bloch Arena (situated near the Pearl Harbor entrance) and with general tickets selling for only $5 at such outlets as Sears stores, Presley raised an incredible $54,678.73 towards the Memorial (The National Park figure.)

But it wasn't just the money, Elvis' electrifying concert (the first he'd done in over two years) was a major factor in kick-starting public interest in what had become a stalled project. Furthermore, it was a concert whose very idea originated with he and Colonel Tom Parker.

The show began with Minnie Pearl, the beloved star of the Grand Ol' Opry, and then onto the stage came Elvis with his complete troupe, including D.J. Fontana on drums, Scotty Moore on guitar and the Jordanaires as his backup singers. All the proceeds went directly to the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial project. Elvis and the others performed for free. Not a dollar was withheld even for expenses.

The reason that Elvis was in the Islands was to begin filming of a film whose working title was "Waikiki Beachboy." Fortunately, they ditched that title and went with "Blue Hawaii" instead.

Though items relating to Elvis' momentous fund-raising, awareness-raising concert can be found in the Memorial's archives, there is no mention of the event at the Memorial itself or even the visitors' center. But that's the way it should be. For the USS Arizona Memorial is a tribute to the memories of the battleship's 1,177 crew who, on December 7, 1941, gave the ultimate sacrifice in behalf of the country's freedom.

Still, particularly on this date, I thought it worthwhile to mention the generosity and patriotism of Elvis Presley -- virtues which played no insignificant part in the Memorial's creation. Elvis had, as you remember, volunteered for the Army. And it is moving to see how his pride in America and his desire to honor it's ideals and heritage remained strong after his military service.

For more information on the USS Arizona and the Memorial, see this web site.

Your Wednesday Tea Break (Two Days Late)

Here, just in time for the weekend, are a couple of music video clips inspired by Vital Signs Blog posts from this week. The first features the King of Rock and Roll whose patriotic actions were described in the immediately preceding post. The song comes from "Blue Hawaii" and ended up being one of Elvis' best, "I Can't Help Falling in Love with You."

The next two come from Gloria Estefan about whose commitment to the cause of a free Cuba I spoke of in this post yesterday. The songs are her biggest hit, "Turn the Beat Around" and then the lovely ballad, "Mi Buen Amor."

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Today's Posts

Send in the Clowns? Don't Bother, They're Here.

If the Nanny State stands for nothing else, it stands for 1) favoritism for the few (in stark contrast to genuine democracy); 2) spending priorities which reflect that favoritism (thus creating a tremendously inefficient use of funds) and 3) a coercive tax policy which forces the majority to fund a never-ending series of things that do not serve their needs or wishes.

In keeping with the lively spirit of the government takeover of health care, I thus give you another particularly laughable boondoggle from Team Obama; namely, a restructuring of U.S. Department of Transportation funds and designs which will give bicyclists, roller blade skaters and, I suppose, bureaucrats from Monty Python's Ministry of Silly Walks equal consideration to that formerly given to drivers of vehicles.

You think I'm kidding?

Then read the following tidbit from Fox Nation. It will, pun fully intended, drive you nuts.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has announced that federal transportation policies will no longer favor “motorized” transportation, such as cars and trucks, over “non-motorized” transportation, such as walking and bicycling.

LaHood signed the new policy directive on March 11, the same day he attended a congressional reception for the National Bike Summit, a convention sponsored by a bicycling advocacy group, the League of American Bicyclists. LaHood publicly announced his agency’s new direction four days later in a posting on his blog -- “Fast Lane: The Official Blog of the U.S. Secretary of Transportation” -- where he effusively described it as a “sea change” for the United States.

“Today, I want to announce a sea change,” LaHood wrote. “People across America who value bicycling should have a voice when it comes to transportation planning. This is the end of favoring motorized transportation at the expense of non-motorized.”

For crying out loud.

Satirical comedy sketches like that old Monty Python Silly Walks routine elicit not only laughter nowadays but a nostalgic yearning -- yearning for the days when slapstick absurdity was the business of clowns and not political tyrants operating out of Washington and Brussels.

Gloria Estefan: "Turn the Beat Around" for a Free Cuba

Gloria Estefan is marching today in Miami. And she's marching in behalf of Cuba.

But don't expect her to be expressing the sentiments of Oliver Stone or Sean Penn or any of the other Hollywood apologists for Fidel Castro. No, Estafan is marching in support of Las Damas de Blanco (The Ladies in White) a brave group of women whose husbands, fathers, and sons are among those innocents who were tossed in Castro's infamously cruel jails back in 2003 for opposing the Communist regime.

The group marches every year to mark the anniversary of the arrests, known as the Black Spring. However, one of their marches earlier this month ended with Castro's police violently repressing the protest and arrested several of the women.

That incident stimulated Estefan to join in.

“The moment has come for us as well; Cubans who live in freedom and anyone who would like to join us, to show our strength, support and spirit to the Damas and to the Cuban people. Let’s walk together like the Damas de Blanco; with dignity, in silence, with a flower of hope in our hands and dressed in white to represent purity of thought, actions and new beginnings! We will walk for the love of freedom.”

Estefan is offering to pay for any costs incurred by the city for providing police protection. Concluding the march, Estefan will read a poem by Cuban patriot José Martí and then lead the participants in the singing of both the American and Cuban national anthems.

The Redistribution of Wealth: Something On Which Socialists and Criminals Agree

I don't know which is more disturbing -- that the New York Times roundly applauds ObamaCare because it is such a big move towards the leftist dream of "redistributing" the wealth or that the newspaper, because of its hatred of Ronald Reagan conservatism, is willing to make such bizarre distortions of history as this: "The bill that President Obama signed on Tuesday is the federal government’s biggest attack on economic inequality since inequality began rising more than three decades ago."

Oh, is that when "economic inequality" began rising? Forget the Industrial Revolution, slavery, serfdom, medieval feudalism and the age of the Pharaohs. No, the New York Times is informing us that "economic inequality" is a new phenomenon. Reagan started it.

But to the Times glee, that horrid era is coming to an end thanks to the glorious idealism and stubborn courage of Barack Obama.

Says the newspaper, "This fact helps explain why Mr. Obama was willing to spend so much political capital on the issue, even though it did not appear to be his top priority as a presidential candidate. Beyond the health reform’s effect on the medical system, it is the centerpiece of his deliberate effort to end what historians have called the age of Reagan."

In reality, of course, what Barack Obama wants to end is individual liberty, personal incentive, and responsibility. He interprets equality as sameness and, therefore, he aims to spread the wealth around in ways that destroy the free market and makes everyone both the ward and the servant of government. Redistribute the wealth. Take it from those who have (even if they've earned it through industriousness, talent and sacrifice) and give it to those who have not (even if their lack is due to unwise habits, lack of proficiency or sloth).

And don't be afraid to take it by force if need be. Use all the powers of the coercive State and get it done.

This is the attitude of the criminal. For he too believes in the redistribution of wealth -- and he too is willing to use force.

In times past, both of these schemes (socialism and theft) were regarded as loathsome by all of Western civilization. But we're living in a new world nowadays. And so, even as the State confiscates more of its citizens' property, it senses a compatible spirit with the crooks from the street.

Case in point?

Geneviève Denisty, a Belgian judge, has recently scolded a businessman for leaving a crime-ridden neighborhood even though he had three expensive cars stolen there and was violently kidnapped by armed raiders as his family looked on in horror. In moving away, the judge told him he was acting "unreasonably." In fact, the judge lectured him that the basic fault behind these crimes was his! "It is perhaps not sensible to draw attention to oneself by driving a Jaguar and living in a big house, making an ostentatious display of one's wealth in a poor and damaged region like Charleroi."

Get the idea? The criminals are justified. They were engaging in a little coercive redistribution of wealth of their own. No, as the sophisticated Justice Denisty observes, the foundational felony here is Laurent's. After all, it was he who spent his money in such selfish and unsocial ways, provoking envy among the poor thugs of the Charleroi. How could they be to blame for what happened?

However, as remarkable and troubling as Justice Denisty's ruling is, it only points to where socialism with its redistribution of wealth is heading. Sure, she had the gall to censure Laurent over the kind of car he drove, the kind of house he lived in, even punishing him for moving to another area of the city. But, at this juncture, the judge only gave him guidelines for his lifestyle -- she didn't take away his livelihood itself.

Not yet.

But leftists know full well that it's a pretty small distance from "Should" to "Must." And with what's happening with the U.S. government's takeover of banks, the auto industry, health care and who knows what's next -- not to mention that these massive redistribution of wealth schemes are being praised by the mainstream media -- that step is already well underway.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Today's Posts

Ultrasound Changes Minds -- Even Inside the Abortion Clinic

Abortion rights activists have long preferred to hold themselves at some remove from the practice they promote; rather than naming it, they speak of “choice” and “reproductive freedom.” But those who perform abortions have no such luxury.

Instead, advances in ultrasound imaging and abortion procedures have forced providers ever closer to the nub of their work. Especially in abortions performed far enough along in gestation that the fetus is recognizably a tiny baby, this intimacy exacts an emotional toll, stirring sentiments for which doctors, nurses, and aides are sometimes unprepared.

Most apparently have managed to reconcile their belief in the right to abortion with their revulsion at dying and dead fetuses, but a noteworthy number have found the conflict unbearable and have defected to the pro-life cause.

Here is an exciting and hopeful article, "Mugged by Ultrasound: Why so many abortion workers have turned pro-life" by David Daleiden and Jon A. Shields and published in the Weekly Standard. Don't miss it.

What About This Catholic Scandal?

Pro-life champion Barbara Curtis points out a scandal in the Catholic Church that no one else seems to be noticing; namely, that 94% of the Catholic Democrats in Congress shrugged off the ancient teachings of their Church and the clear directives of the Conference of Catholic Bishops and voted FOR legislation that promotes abortions...and even requires American citizens to pay for them.

She continues:

Interestingly, Rush mentioned today that liberals want to destroy traditional institutions until they can take them over - including not just the U.S. government but also the Catholic Church.

Part of the blame for the health care debacle lies with U.S. bishops, who should have excommunicated renegade "Catholics" like Pelosi and Biden years ago. But there are signs that things are turning around, wit several strong and faithful bishops (e.g. Chaput) speaking straightforwardly to the issues of our day.

Both priests at my parish spoke out strongly Sunday - saying in no uncertain terms that you cannot be a Catholic in good standing if you vote for healthcare that includes funding for abortion.

Yes, Virginia; Abortion Funding Is in the Health Care Bill.

For more, see this page of FRC Action website as suggested in the video clip. (Note -- The introduction to the chart is dated but the data presented in the chart itself shows the stuff that is still in that bill the President signed yesterday.)

Americans United for Life also takes an "up close" look at exactly how the new legislation includes abortion promotion and funding. Check it out here.

Is We All Just Critters?

Noted ethicist and pro-life advocate Wesley J. Smith has responded to Matthew Scully's critique of Smith's latest book, A Rat Is a Pig Is a Dog Is a Boy: The Human Cost of the Animal Rights Movement, in an exceptional article for National Review. I really urge you to read the 2-page rebuttal in its entirety for it really is a fine overview of controversies swirling around animal rights. Solid stuff.

But for those in a hurry, let me give you a few paragraphs:

So what's the book really about? With A Rat Is a Pig Is a Dog Is a Boy, I hope to clear up the confusion in the public mind between promoting "animal welfare" -- a noble cause, which I endorse -- and "animal rights," which I oppose. The former acknowledges the ethical propriety of using animals for human benefit, while vigorously insisting on concomitant duties to treat animals humanely. In direct contrast, animal-rights ideology disdains the welfarist approach as "speciesism"; i.e., "discrimination" against animals --and dogmatically insists we have no right to consume meat, to wear leather, to conduct animal research, and, for some, even to own dogs. In other words, the ultimate goal of animal rights -- which believers understand to be a multi-generational project -- is ending all animal domestication no matter how beneficial to humans.

Thus, rather than a movement dedicated merely to being nicer to animals, as many suppose, animal rights is actually a subversive ideology -- for some, a quasi-religion -- that establishes both express and implied equivalences between the moral value of human beings and that of animals. Indeed, I took the title of my book from a famous statement by Ingrid Newkirk, leader of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), who told Vogue back in 1989, "Animal Liberationists do not separate out the human animal, so there is no rational basis for saying that a human being has special rights. A rat is a pig is a dog is a boy. They are all mammals."...

Regardless of the approach, to the animal-rights true believer, that which is done to an animal is judged as if the same action were done to a human being. Hence, many animal rightists believe cattle ranching is as odious as slavery and research on lab rats an equivalent evil to Mengele's experiments in the camps.

PETA explicitly pitched that nihilistic message for two years in its infamous pro-vegetarian Holocaust on Your Plate campaign. Holocaust on Your Plate juxtaposed historic photographs of the Shoah to depictions of animals, for example deceased, emaciated inmates presented adjacent to a photo of dead pigs. The text stated in part "Like the Jews murdered in concentration camps, animals are terrorized when they are housed in huge filthy warehouses and rounded up for shipment to slaughter. The leather sofa and handbag are the moral equivalent of the lampshades made from the skins of people killed in the death camps."

Such bizarre moral equivalency is embraced fervently and literally by many animal rightists -- again, as distinguished from animal-welfare supporters -- and generates intense and angry emotions. In their zeal, some tum to violence and terrorism as part of loose-knit cells of such organizations as the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty. To many animal-rights leaders -- Gary Francione and Wayne Pacelle, head of the Humane Society of the United States, are notable exceptions -- scandalously refuse to condemn this criminality. For example, PETA, on its website, compares ALF to the French Resistance and the Underground Railroad. This is odd for a supposedly peaceable movement, considering that "direct actions" have included death threats, bombings of researchers' homes and cars, arson, burglary, and identity theft...

Let's Take Back Our Nation

"November elections -- They're everywhere you want to be!"

Thanks to our young friend Laura Deever for this nifty line because its a reminder that we need to be getting ready for November right now. Talking to friends and family, donating and working for genuine conservatives, using creative means to tell the truth in the public square...and praying.

The "Take Back Our Nation" campaign begins now!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Today's Posts

A Biblical Perspective of Work

"It’s not just about jobs and paying bills: work is an essential part of what it means to be human."

Author and history professor, Dr. Glenn Sunshine, has written a splendid article over at Breakpoint that we should all read and carefully ponder. It's called "Toward a Theology of Work" and it is a much-needed corrective for a Church that ails badly in this area.

Planned Parenthood Ecstatic Over ObamaCare

You want to know how rotten was Bart Stupak's hypocrisy? You want to see how worthless is Barack Obama's talk of an Executive Order? You want to learn how full of abortion is the health care "reform" bill?

Then read the fulsome praise of the bill by Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards:

On the Executive Order -- it was merely "a symbolic anti-choice Congressman Bart Stupak which has diverted attention from the central goal." Furthermore, "What the president’s executive order did not do is include the complete and total ban...that Congressman Bart Stupak had insisted upon. So while we regret that this proposed Executive Order has given the imprimatur of the president to Senator Nelson’s language, it is critically important to note that it does not include the Stupak abortion ban."

And, in case you didn't get it, Richards repeated herself, "Thanks to supporters like you, we were able to keep the Stupak abortion ban out of the final legislation and President Obama did not include the Stupak language in his Executive Order."

And for his cave-in, did Stupak get any "props" from the nation's #1 abortion provider? Nope. He will be reviled by both sides of the abortion debate. "Planned Parenthood is also extremely pleased that members of the House listened to the millions of women and men who expressed their strong opposition to the Stupak abortion ban. Stopping the Stupak ban was a high priority."

As reported by, Planned Parenthood also applauded "a provision to expand family planning under Medicaid, which would significantly increase access to essential preventive health care for millions of women" -- in other words increasing the abortion businesses' customer base.

Richards admitted as much, saying, “As a result of this historic expansion of health care coverage to more than 30 million Americans, the doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals who work for Planned Parenthood health centers will be providing care to many more" people.

CNN Anchors: Not the Brightest Bulbs in the Chandelier

How bright are those anchors of the troubled news network, CNN? Well, a couple of years ago Wolf Blitzer embarrassed himself by losing big in a celebrity tournament of Jeopardy. The winner of the game was comedian Andy Richter. Blitzer came in dead last.

Next up was Soledad O'Brien whose tournament ended with her being in last place also, beaten by retired basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and comic actor, Michael McKean.

Now put Anderson Cooper in the loser column for his Jeopardy round ended with him in last place behind actress Aisha Tyler and comedian Cheech Marin, first famous for pothead flicks.

One loss might be tossed off as an anomaly. But are we beginning to see a pattern here? A pattern that shows us one of the reasons why CNN is languishing in the cable TV ratings cellar?

The Myth of the Pro-Life Democrat Finally Dies

Democrats for Life of America was once a respected organization among pro-life advocates. However, because of a developing tradition of compromise with the abortion zealotry exhibited by Democrat party leaders, the organization has, for some time, been considered suspect, even irrelevant, by most in the pro-life movement.

But now, because of its shameless praise of Bart Stupak's cave-in and of the abortion-laden health care reform bill, Democrats for Life of America has disgustingly branded itself as a "Democrat first" advocacy group who is happily willing to put its pro-life convictions as a distant (way distant) second priority.

Shameful. And sad.

Phyllis Schlafly, president and founder of the conservative grassroots public policy organization Eagle Forum, made the following remarks after the public announcement that formerly pro-life Democrat Bart Stupak (D-MI) will cast a "yes" vote for the Senate health care bill today in the House:

"It is naive for any elected official, especially one who describes himself as 'pro-life,' to expect that a promise to issue an Executive Order that reasserts the intentions of the Hyde Amendment will be fulfilled by the most pro-abortion president to ever sit in the White House. Perhaps Mr. Stupak and his fellow pro-life Democrats forget that President Obama's first Executive Order was the repeal of the Mexico City Policy to allow for international funding of abortion."

"Not only would an Executive Order be rendered meaningless in the face of Congress passing legislation which actively provides for the massive expansion and funding of abortion services, but anyone who doubts the abortion tsunami which awaits this bill becoming law lives in a fantasy world."

"Barack Obama has lined every existing federal agency with the most dedicated pro-abortion ideologues, and we know that he will continue this pattern of pro-abortion appointments when it comes time for him to fill the over-100 bureaucracies created to administer his socialized health care program."

"Any formerly pro-life Democrat who casts a 'Yes' vote for this Senate health care bill tonight will be forever remembered as being among the deciding votes which facilitated the largest expansion of abortion services since Roe v. Wade."

"Mr. Stupak and his Democrat followers have now clarified that you cannot be pro-life and be a Democrat. If abortion was truly their biggest issue, they wouldn't willfully align themselves with the Party of Death."

"This vote will expose the myth of the 'pro-life Democrat.' With this single vote, the Democratic Party will divide our nation into the Party of Death and the Party of Life, and future elections will never be the same."

For more on this matter, read William McGurn's fine Wall Street Journal article, "Pro-life Democrats, R.I.P."

Randy Alcorn: There's Still Plenty We Can Do

Popular author and Director of Eternal Perspective Ministries, Randy Alcorn, writes...

Yes, I am deeply concerned about its [the Health Care Reform Bill's] effect on unborn children. However, even though this bill has passed, the righteous cause of the unborn is not over. The indictment against people who shed innocent blood is not over. The command of God is not over: “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; defend the rights of the poor and needy” (Proverbs 31:8-9).

Be encouraged that the most direct and personal ways we can help unborn children and their mothers are still fully available to us. (See
Fifty Ways to Help Unborn Children and Their Mothers.)

Randy's point here is an excellent and much-needed one. He is not saying that further prayers and political advocacy regarding ObamaCare are unnecessary; he is simply reminding us that there remain many other ways (extremely important ways) in which we can effectively build a culture of life.

We at Vital Signs Ministries have always stressed this comprehensive strategy also. Thus, the day after the Congress voted for the bill, we protested it in correspondence and here on this blog. We engaged in a political response by making a donation to Bart Stupak's opponent in the upcoming Congressional race and encouraging others to do so.

But on that same day we were also sidewalk counseling in front of an abortion clinic, ministering in a nursing home, working on the Vital Signs Ministries cyber-outreach, and sending in a donation to the AAA Center for Pregnancy Counseling because illness kept me away from their banquet last week. And, of course, praying.

Randy is right. "The most direct and personal ways we can help unborn children and their mothers are still fully available to us." And he's collected a great summary in the aforementioned article that you should check out.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Today's Posts

Before You Give Up...

(Thanks for the link, Lucianne Goldberg!)

Beyond Scandalous Sunday: Part One

Later on I have a couple of posts relevant to the aftermath of Scandalous Sunday; that is, where do we go from here. But in this one, I'd like to list a few of the most insightful commentary I've come across about what happened last night.

* "We’ve been reminded many times that elections have consequences. Yesterday we saw the consequence of voting for those who believe in “fundamentally transforming” America whether we want it or not. Yesterday they voted. In November, we get to vote. We won’t forget what we saw yesterday. Congress passed a bill while Americans said “no,” and thousands of everyday citizens even surrounded the Capitol Building to beg them not to do it. Has there ever been a more obvious exhibition of a detached and imperious government?..." (Sarah Palin, from an article on her Facebook page)

* "Congress Health Care Vote: A Dark Day for Freedom in America" by Nile Gardiner

* "We’ve Crossed the Rubicon" by Victor Davis Hanson

* "This will not stand. No one should be confused about the outcome of Sunday's vote This is not the end of the fight it is the beginning of the fight." (Newt Gingrich, from an article in Human Events.)

* "Five Reasons Not to Despair" by Rich Lowry

* "20 Ways ObamaCare Will Take Away Our Freedoms" by David Hogberg

* "Happy Dependence Day" by Mark Steyn