Friday, July 29, 2011

Today's Posts

Praying For Life & Justice -- Praying Against Planned Parenthood

Yesterday morning's meeting in Lincoln with several pro-life activists (along with Stop Planned Parenthood's Jim Sedlak present via telephone) was a very stimulating and encouraging time. There is much being done to expose Planned Parenthood's sinister schemes and there's no doubt those prayerful efforts are having an impact. The public is learning the ugly truths about this mega-abortion business (despite the protection long given them by the mainstream media) and, as a result, states are stopping tax funding of PP. There is an increasingly strong national movement to de-fund the organization as well.

Most important, of course, is that lives are being saved.

But much, much more needs to be done. And that's why Vital Signs Ministries has joined this coalition and why we're optimistic about the future actions to be taken. But we're not just waiting. Among the things on our current schedule are helping with Nebraskans Against Planned Parenthood's Facebook page, increasing the number of posts on Vital Signs Blog that deal with Planned Parenthood (like these from the last couple of weeks: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7), and concentrating our prayer and sidewalk counseling activities on the PP abortion facility on North 93rd Street.

By the way, we will be there tomorrow morning from 8-9 and we encourage you to join us for prayers then.

Among the prayers will be this one that the new coalition endorsed for frequent use yesterday. Here it is: "Our Father Who art in heaven, we ask You to graciously empower us this day to do Your will.  We need Your wisdom, your sustaining strength and Your infusion of joyful confidence as we engage the enemies of life.  We ask You to bless our efforts to defend the sanctity of life, particularly to counter the cruel brutality and manipulations of Planned Parenthood.  Help us to speak truth in a winsome way, to courageously stand against sin and error, and to present to others the bountiful rewards You bestow when people live in the light of Your holiness and mercy.  Minister to us as we minister to others and grant success on our endeavors for Your Name’s sake.  Amen."

The Facts Are In About Planned Parenthood -- And They Aren't Pretty

The report is in from the Chiaroscuro Foundation with the details and source material clearly documented. And the picture of Planned Parenthood it paints is very, very different from the powder puff treatment the abortion business gets from the press and politicians. Here are a few of the most alarming items from that report. Please...pass them along. Use them to tell the truth to your Congressmen and Senators, to your pastor, to your friends and family.

It really is up to us to shine the light on this nefarious organization.

Planned Parenthood is extraordinarily wealthy in its own right, and does not need tax dollars to continue to operate. According to its most currently published annual report, PP has nearly one billion dollars of net assets ($1,197,300,000.00 assets, and $202,600,000.00 liabilities)....

Planned Parenthood is an abortion organization. It provides more abortions than any other organization in the United States, about one of every four U.S. abortions.

More government funding of Planned Parenthood has corresponded with increased numbers of abortions there.

By conservative estimates, abortions constitute about 37% of all PP revenues.

Planned Parenthood intends to increase the number of abortion clinics in its franchise. It recently announced that all affiliates should prepare to operate at least one abortion clinic over the course of the next two years.

Planned Parenthood’s pregnancy services are extremely skewed toward abortion. For every adoption referral Planned Parenthood makes, it performs 340 abortions. 98% of Planned Parenthood’s services to pregnant women (abortion, adoption and prenatal care) are abortion (according to its 2009 report: 332,278 abortions, 7,021 prenatal care clients, and 977 adoption referrals to other agencies).

The number of pregnancy services other than abortion have been declining recently.

Planned Parenthood touts its “preventive services” but they all seem to have failed to prevent the problems they claim to solve. Rates of non-marital births and sexually transmitted diseases are increasing, and rates of abortion remain very high or are increasing. For its 3 million unduplicated clients in 2008, Planned Parenthood supplied 3.8 million contraception services.  For its 3 million unduplicated clients in 2008, Planned Parenthood supplied more than 3.7 million "testing and treatment" services for sexually transmitted infections (STIs).This figure has been increasing over the past few years, from 1,255,036 in 2002 to 3,018,077 in 2006.

Planned Parenthood is not a significant primary care provider for women In recent reports, Planned Parenthood acknowledges that it provided primary care only to about 19,700 of its 3 million unduplicated clients.23 These services have been trending downward for years, from 21,247 in 2007 to 20,235 in 2008, to today’s 19,796.

Recent exposés of Planned Parenthood clinics in several states have revealed that the organization suffers significant structural problems,and a disregard for women’s human and civil rights, as well as for laws protecting minor girls.

Planned Parenthood has been found legally culpable, inter alia, of failing to provide informed consent to a 13 year old girl impregnated by her 21 year old coach,27 and of subverting state parental involvement laws.

Planned Parenthood has acknowledged that its staff requires massive retraining. This is not the first time it has acknowledged the need for retraining employees caught on video apparently acting illegally, and with disregard for the welfare of its young female clients. Such an organization does not merit continued taxpayer funding.

Planned Parenthood employees have appeared willing to cooperate with illegal activities such as sex trafficking of minor women, and statutory rape.The organization has refused to respond in any substantive way to credible allegations and undercover films revealing these activities. Planned Parenthood has also been caught on videos coaching minor girls to avoid disclosing the (much older) age of the men who impregnated them.

Vegetarian Pop Singer Says Norway Murders Were "Nothing" Compared to Fast Food Diners

Has pop singer Morrissey's vegetarian diet made him completely loopy? Or is he merely expressing the logical extension of the radical trans-humanism which is gathering such momentum among scientists, pantheists and social planners?

The Daily Mail doesn't bother to hide its disgust in this report:

Morrissey has sparked a storm of protest with an outrageous claim that fast food chains are guilty of murder on a par with mass killer Anders Breivik. The famously vegetarian singer made the reprehensible comments on stage in Warsaw. The miserable Mancunian said the tragedy in Norway was 'nothing' compared to the evil carried out by McDonald's and KFC.

Morrissey, 52, launched into his tirade during the Poland leg of his European tour on Sunday night. He introduced Meat Is Murder, the title song of one of his albums, with a reference to the horrific murders carried out by the blonde-haired Norwegian. "We all live in a murderous world, as the events in Norway have shown with 97 dead,' he said (when the death toll was thought to be higher). "Though that is nothing compared to what happens in McDonald's and Kentucky Fried *%#& every day."...

Morrissey later refused to respond, saying his statement spoke for itself.

It certainly does that.

Wesley J. Smith comments, "This is reminiscent of PETA’s infamous 'Holocaust on Your Plate' pro-vegetarian campaign. Animal rights believers: Please denounce this odious moral equivalency between humanely slaughtering steers and the mass murder of innocent teenagers. It is odious on every level. Silence will be deemed agreement."

The Liberal Church: A Tragic Misplacement of Priorities

If you live in the Omaha/Lincoln area, you've no doubt noticed TV commercials promoting the on-air services of First Plymouth Congregational Church in Lincoln. Knowing that the group is part of the United Church of Christ, I wasn't surprised to learn that their website would criticize traditional Christian doctrine or even that it would have links to the Unitarian Church, the ACLU and Planned Parenthood.

They also have their own in-house ministry which seeks to "make a difference in Lincoln's LGBTQA community." Indeed, regarding the latter point, John Shelby Spong (the Episcopalian bishop whose books include Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism and Why Christianity Must Change or Die) praises First Plymouth because "Gay and lesbian people experience complete acceptance and their sacred unions are regularly recognized and blessed" at the place.

The church's doctrinal statement includes such lines as these: "We are Christian, Open-minded, Spiritual, Evolving and Diverse...We are Christian: 'Christian' means we perceive in Jesus the divine qualities of love, peace, joy, and justice. It does not mean we think Jesus is the only path to God...Diverse means we trust that these differences inform and strengthen community. A diverse spiritual community welcomes conventional believers, curious agnostics, and questioning skeptics."

As sad as this all is, it is pretty standard stuff for a UCC church. They have, after all, been notoriously apostate for decades. However, the web site did reveal one brand new folly which rather surprised me. They've hired a former nun to serve as the "Pastor of Animal Ministry." It's a position which oversees such activities as Animal Blessing Sunday (where living animals are consecrated and dead ones are memorialized and prayed for), funeral services for animals, supporting no-kill shelters and rescue groups in the Lincoln community, and so on.

Of course, the church's interest in no-kill policies does not interfere with their support of abortion -- at least not when the lethal violence is directed at human children.

Ironic. Tragic. Foolish. And fully deserving of the divine judgment to come. Pray earnestly for this bunch.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Today's Posts

Running After One's Hat for 38 Years

It was in the spring of 1973 that I was browsing through The Antiquariam, a used book store in the Old Market section of downtown Omaha, when I discovered a somewhat battered, orangish copy of what was soon to become a life-changing book. I had experienced a few such encounters with books before this, notably Fyodor Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov (which influenced my conversion to Christianity) and, in later years, Henry Ironside's Commentary on Ephesians, C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters and Mere Christianity, Francis Schaeffer's The Church at the End of the 20th Century and A Christian Manifesto.

But the book I picked up at The Antiquarium was unique in several points. For instance, it served to introduce me to a writer who was remarkably talented in many genres. Indeed, this particular book showcased the writer's skill in poetry, essays, journalism, literary criticism, and short stories. There was an especially arresting quality about the writer's perspective as well. He looked at the same things that others did but from a different angle, one that illuminated and made memorable the truth of the thing. And finally, he was a master wordsmith who wrote in a style that liberally used metaphor, symbol, paradox and humor -- and yet one which produced an analysis of even complex matters that was clear as glass.

And I'd better add this. The writer was an absolute delight to read! Fascinating, provocative, convincing, inspiring and, like I said, quite funny. Even when he was making the most serious of moral exhortations, he was able to do so with mirth, wit and a charming confidence.

The writer I'm speaking of is G.K.Chesterton and the book I found there in the stacks was The Man Who Was Chesterton, a marvelous sampling of his incomparable work. That book would end up changing my life by introducing me to a writer who would become a life-long inspiration and friend.

Not bad for three dollars.

But before I knew of those GKC books and poems that would become treasured reading for me down through the years (The Man Who Was Thursday, Manalive, "Lepanto", Orthodoxy, the Father Brown stories, Heretics, The Napoleon of Notting Hill, The Thing, The Club of Queer Trades, "The House of Christmas," "The Donkey," the numerous collections of essays, and much more), I was first drawn in through reading just one enchanting essay while standing in the dark stall of that Old Market book shop. That essay was called "On Running After One's Hat." It was for that essay alone that I bought the book and began my adventure.

By the way, if you're interested, that very essay, "On Running After One's Hat," can be read on-line right here. Go it!  And I hope that it stimulates and delights you like it did me those many years ago.

The Media Refuses to Cover Planned Parenthood's Crimes and Abuses

It has been two weeks since the release of Americans United for Life’s exposé of Planned Parenthood and a week since their press conference on Capitol Hill featuring Reps. Renee Ellmers, Randy Hultgren, and Chris Smith. Still, the mainstream media continue to largely ignore the report, which has received considerable coverage from conservative, Christian, and pro-life media outlets. 

Politico, The Hill, and U.S. News and World Report are about the only mainstream media sources to have even mentioned the exposé. The fact that Planned Parenthood has not even posted their response on their website is evidence that they are confident that their allies in the mainstream media will cover for them.

That's Michael J. New, assistant professor at the University of Alabama and a fellow at the Witherspoon Institute, commenting at NRO. The report that he's referring to details misuse of federal healthcare and family-planning funds, failures to report criminal child sexual abuse and comply with parental involvement laws, and dangerous misuse of the abortion drug RU-48. There's more on that here and here.

The FDA Has Gone Nuts

Earlier this week I introduced a Vital Signs Blog post with this sentence: "Here's another example (a ludicrous and yet quite alarming example) of how progressives like those in Barack Obama's FDA insist that politically-correct mythology trump even the most genuine and immediate of human needs." That story involved the FDA banning much-needed asthma medications because they contained chlorofluorocarbons.

Well, read that sentence again and get ready for the next outrageous example; namely, the FDA's attack on Diamond Foods for selling walnuts! That's right -- walnuts.

The same FDA who has no problem with companies that advertize deep-fried corn chips as "heart smart" or restaurant chains that promote heavy, sugar packed desserts as "light and healthy" are threatening to unload the full coercive powers of the Nanny State against Diamond Foods because they describe walnuts as being rich in omega-3 fatty acids which scientific study after scientific study have demonstrated to reduce the risk of heart disease and some types of cancer.

Here's Paul Bentley from the Daily Mail with the story.

A company which sells walnuts has been told they are dealing in drugs because their packaging suggests health benefits which the Food and Drug Administration has not approved, it has been reported. A fiercely-worded letter from the agency allegedly insisted Diamond Foods, from Stockton, California, remove the health claims or send off for a new drug application if it did not wish to be closed down.

The nut company has been selling its products with packaging which states the omega-3 fatty acids in walnuts have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and some types of cancer. But while the claims are backed up by research, including 35 published medical papers supporting assertions that eating walnuts improves vascular health and may reduce risk of heart attacks, the FDA is said to have insisted the company is 'misbranding' its foods because the 'product bears health claims that are not authorised by the FDA'.

The letter from the FDA reportedly stated: "We have determined that your walnut products are promoted for conditions that cause them to be drugs because these products are intended for use in the prevention, mitigation, and treatment of disease." It went on to emphasise that the nuts are 'misbranded' because they 'are offered for conditions that are not amenable to self-diagnosis and treatment by individuals who are not medical practitioners. Therefore, adequate directions for use cannot be written so that a layperson can use these drugs safely for their intended purposes."

Critics have slammed the FDA for the supposedly 'tyrannical' manner in which they have accused the walnut sellers of dealing in drugs. William Faloon, from Life Extension Magazine, said: 'The FDA’s language resembles that of an out-of-control police state where tyranny [reigns] over rationality. This kind of bureaucratic tyranny sends a strong signal to the food industry not to innovate in a way that informs the public about foods that protect against disease. While consumers increasingly reach for healthier dietary choices, the federal government wants to deny food companies the ability to convey findings from scientific studies about their products."

The Welfare State Entraps Generations in Poverty

[Charles Murray in his enlightening study, Losing Ground] goes on to prove statistically that when we began to financially support people who were not working, they eventually stopped looking (especially when they were penalized for having a job which paid them too much!) If you get free daycare when you receive a government check, but have to pay exorbitant fees for childcare when you work, aren’t you a fool to do so? In our desire to help the poor, all we’ve ended up is stripping people of their desire to work, along with their dignity. Somehow, we need to learn how to give that self-respect back. Tragically, after 40 years of handouts, the system is one, huge, ugly, bloated mess!

Barb Malek is one of the officers of a Christ-centered pregnancy center in Omaha, one that deals every day with the moral, economic and spiritual effects of the welfare state. Her ideas are thus based on experience and should be carefully considered.

Here is the full text of her column, "Government Run Welfare: Destroying Families and Ensnaring Generations in Poverty."

A Top Ten of Barack Obama Lies (Only Ten, You Say?)

During the debate over raising the debt ceiling, President Obama said that 80% of Americans support including higher taxes as part of the deal.  But a Rasmussen poll taken the same week showed that only 34% believe a tax hike should be included in a debt-ceiling agreement.

Wow. That's as wild as lie as you can get. And awfully easy to see through if you've got the facts. However, as we've come to expect, the media let this one slide and didn't call Obama on this over-the-top whopper.

But that's just one of the latest of Obama's self-seeking fibs.

Over here at Human Events, the editors have compiled a Top Ten of the President's lies. Good stuff to remember. Good stuff to pass around, especially to Democrats and the mushy middle. Good stuff to keep your resolve sharpened for 2012.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Today's Posts

"We Place Our Hopes Upon the Things Which Are Beyond."

We Christians, young men, hold that this human life is not a supremely precious thing, nor do we recognize anything as unconditionally a blessing which benefits us in this life only. Neither pride of ancestry, nor bodily strength, nor beauty, nor greatness, nor the esteem of all men, nor kingly authority, nor, indeed, whatever of human affairs may be called great, do we consider worthy of desire, or the possessors of them as objects of envy; but we place our hopes upon the things which are beyond, and in preparation for the life eternal do all things that we do.

Accordingly, whatever helps us towards this we say that we must love and follow after with all our might, but those things which have no bearing upon it should be held as naught.

(A short paragraph from Basil's Address to Young Men on the Right Uses of Greek Literature, 4th Century)

"That's What We Do. We're Americans!"

What a Difference a Year Makes!

"From the first song you played till the last, my legs and feet wouldn't keep still. And on some of those songs, other parts were moving that hadn't moved in quite awhile! What great music and such memories!"

"That brought back so many memories, both sad and happy. I'm going to be thinking about this the whole afternoon. Thank you so much for coming. It was the best program we've ever had here."

"This reminded me so well of the good old days. Why, I hadn't heard Vaughn Monroe or the Andrews Sisters for I can't remember when. Thank you. This was really grand."

These are the kinds of things we hear at every presentation of "When Swing Was King," Vital Signs Ministries' entertainment and friendship program geared to senior citizens in assisted living facilities and nursing homes. And the enthusiasm of yesterday's audience at Walnut Grove Retirement Community was no different. Indeed, the residents expressed their appreciation of the program so strongly that the Activities Director signed us up for a monthly gig right there and then!

Aha, "When Swing Was King" scores again!

Actually, what happened yesterday has frequently happened. After all, when an Activities Director has a chance to land a quality presentation, one that stimulates people in so many ways (eyes, ears, memories, social relationships and uplifted spirits) -- and you get it completely free of charge, why wouldn't you take immediate advantage?

We're taking the program to another new facility this afternoon. Well, I should say that it's one that we've never been to with "When Swing Was King" anyhow, but we have been there several times to conduct worship services way back in the 1980s. Might this be another case where we're asked to come back on a regular basis or have Claire and I reached a saturation point?

We are currently up to about 8 places where we take "When Swing Was King" every month with several other facilities bringing us in every other month, every quarter, or for special occasions. That means about 12-15 presentations every month. Yipes! There are only so many spaces in the calendar and, as you know, Vital Signs Ministries does have quite a lot of other responsibilities also. So...we'll see what we can work out.

(Remember we only started "When Swing Was King" last year and designed it for only one nursing home -- the one where my Mom was living. Man, has this thing taken off!)

And you? You keep praying for us. Ask the Lord to give us favor with these seniors and with the staff members of the facilities. Ask Him to open up ongoing friendships. Ask Him to sustain our health and energy, to provide finances for Vital Signs so that we can continue the pace, to give us the best technical equipment and procedures, and to move the staff members at the various facilities to give their best efforts to keep "When Swing Was King" a rousing success.

For more details on "When Swing Was King," see this.

"Just Like Russia, We're Accepting Corruption as a Way of Life."

Govt Regulations Are Killing American Business: Case In Point

Ronnie Bryant was vastly outnumbered.

Leaning against a wall during a recent Birmingham, Alabama, public hearing, Bryant listened to an overflow crowd pepper federal officials with concerns about businesses polluting the drinking water and causing cases of cancer.

After two hours, Bryant—a coal mine owner from Jasper—had heard enough and, in a moment being described as “right out of Atlas Shrugged,” took his turn at the microphone:

“Nearly every day without fail…men stream to these [mining] operations looking for work in Walker County. They can’t pay their mortgage. They can’t pay their car note. They can’t feed their families. They don’t have health insurance. And as I stand here today, I just…you know…what’s the use? I got a permit to open up an underground coal mine that would employ probably 125 people. They’d be paid wages from $50,000 to $150,000 a year. We would consume probably $50 million to $60 million in consumables a year, putting more men to work. And my only idea today is to go home. What’s the use? I see these guys—I see them with tears in their eyes—looking for work. And if there’s so much opposition to these guys making a living, I feel like there’s no need in me putting out the effort to provide work for them. So…basically what I’ve decided is not to open the mine. I’m just quitting. Thank you.”

The Blaze contacted Bryant, and he remains as resolute as he was at last week’s public hearing. To him, it’s just not worth the time, money, and regulatory hassle to open up a new mine—even one located in a remote area with less environmental impact.

“If they want to create jobs, provide health insurance, and increase revenue,” Bryant said in reference to the federal government, “they need to back down on the regulatory burden. It’s like pulling an iron ball with a chain. I’m not saying to make it go away—just the stuff that’s not pertinent or useful.”

Terry Douglas, who owns two mines in Jasper with Bryant, said it costs them about $250,000 per mine in permit fees alone and that paperwork and regulatory inspections are a constant presence (as well as an additional revenue strain). When asked about typical concerns surrounding coal mining—including companies skirting health and safety regulations—Douglas said it “doesn’t make sense” to let safety lapse and risk losing miners to illness or injury when it would only cost more to train new personnel.

“We take care of our equipment and take care of our people,” Douglas said. “The regulations make coal miners out to be criminals; but we’re not outlaws. Coal mining is an art. I have a civil engineering degree; Ronnie has a mining engineering degree. It’s not wildcat whiskey we’re making; this is drinking whiskey we got.”

Bryant pointed to less stringent environmental regulations in countries such as China, saying that the U.S. is falling behind even though it has abundant resources. “But you can’t get to them,” he said, adding that while there are concerns over dwindling wildlife populations, “people are becoming the endangered species.”

(Dave Urbanski, The Blaze)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Today's Posts

When Is YOUR Lt. Dan Band Party?

It's a busy day here for Claire and I -- blogging, phone calls, computer correspondence with a friend in Eastern Europe, a presentation of "When Swing was King" at a new nursing home, mowing the lawn and a few other items -- but we're conducting all of our activities in the afterglow of last night's Lt. Dan Party. What a pleasant time we had together and what a compelling movie  "Lt. Dan Band: For The Common Good" turned out to be. Truly extraordinary.

I mentioned our plans for this party last week and even invited you along. But since you didn't make it (bummer!), I now urge you to host a party of your own in which family and friends gather to watch together the award-winning streaming video, "Lt. Dan Band: For The Common Good." Claire rigged up her laptop to the TV so that everyone in the living room had a great seat. And we all enjoyed it immensely. A description of the film is contained in the above link but I can now testify personally to it's motivational impact. It really is a terrific piece of work: inspiring, informative, entertaining and patriotic in the best sense.

But don't just take my word for it.

Filmmaker Jerry Bruckheimer says of the movie, "A wonderful and inspiring chronicle of Gary and his fellow musicians as they journey across America and the world. But the real point of the film, as it should be, is to shine a much-needed light on those in uniform, whose tremendous sacrifices can never - and must never - be taken for granted." And his fellow filmmaker Ron Howard agrees, "A powerful and compelling tribute that continues to resonate long after the movie has ended. It is also that rare film that entertains even as it inspires. It's a clear reminder of my friend, Gary Sinise's talent and character. He's one of our 'good guys.'"

Basketball legend Pat Riley says of the film, "What a compelling piece of work… very moving! A must see for all Americans…It leaves one feeling inadequate and certainly wanting to do more."  While the President of the USO chimes in, "Jonathan Flora has delivered a moving portrayal of service and sacrifice! Connects in powerful ways with troops, first responders, and their families!"

And Major General John F. Campbell, the Commanding General of 101st Airborne Division? He simply says, "Gary Sinise is the Bob Hope of our generation!"

"Lt. Dan Band: For The Common Good" is available as a pay-per-view experience for only $3.99. But a dollar of that goes to The Gary Sinise Foundation which honors our nation's defenders through programs and projects that serve our military, veterans, first responders and their families, as well as by supporting other charities such as the USO, Operation International Children and Snowball Express.

So do a good thing for the Gary Sinese Foundation as you do a very good thing for you, your family and your friends by throwing a Lt. Dan Band party of your own. Soon!

Has the Country Become Bored with Obama?

Somewhere along the way, the once-soaring speeches of The Great Orator degenerated into longwinded clichés delivered in a grating, repetitive cadence.   The electric smile morphed into a frequent scowl.  Inspiring messages have given way to blaming everyone else for the lack of success of his policies and scolding his subjects for not "stepping up their game."  His every word seems politically calculated rather than anchored by principle.  He's shown little ability to electrify, motivate, persuade or unify anyone-except his political opposition.  The country seems tired of him.

How un-motivating is Obama as President?  He speaks to an America at war and rouses no patriotism.  He addresses a military audience without so much as mentioning victory (a word to which he has a particular aversion).  He takes a major policy address on troop levels in Afghanistan and ends up droning on about "green jobs."  Boring.  If there is a single memorable line from his multitude of speeches, please tell me; I already stopped listening --and I doubt that I am alone.

Internationally, his tenure has been demeaning. His unique contributions to American foreign policy include "Leading from behind;" embracing a gutless philosophy of American Un-exceptionalism; serial apologizing for America; and subjecting America to well-deserved lectures on economic policy by our Communist Chinese financial overlords.  And it's not as if any of this has endeared America to the world; from the Thames to Tel Aviv to Taiwan to Turkey, alliances are frayed.  Is this anything for voters to be excited about?  What does Obama's America stand for, anyway?

(An excerpt from Abraham Katsman's excellent essay, "Obama the Bore," in American Thinker.)

White House Is Just Getting the Message: Obama Is President, Not King

Between 6 p.m. Friday and 4 p.m. Sunday, the nation began a constitutional course-correction. The current occupant's vanity and naivete — a dangerous amalgam — are causing the modern presidency to buckle beneath the weight of its pretenses. And Congress is reasserting its responsibilities.

At his Friday news conference-cum-tantrum, Barack Obama imperiously summoned congressional leaders to his presence: "I've told" them "I want them here at 11 a.m."

By Saturday, his administration seemed to be cultivating chaos by suddenly postulating a new deadline: The debt-ceiling impasse must end before Asian markets opened Sunday evening Eastern time, lest the heavens fall.

Those markets opened; the heavens held. The faux deadline, reportedly invoked at a Saturday White House meeting by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who should resign, inevitably seeped into the media and invited overseas panic, thereby risking the nation's currency, for brief tactical advantage.

Amid these tawdry episodes, House Speaker John Boehner signaled constitutional sanity regained: "Congress will forge a responsible path forward." Congress. Obama has marginalized himself.

Inordinate self-regard is an occupational hazard of politics and part of the job description of the rhetorical presidency, this incessant tutor. Still, upon what meat doth this our current Caesar feed that he has grown so great that he presumes to command leaders of a coequal branch of government?

He once boasted (June 3, 2008) that he could influence the oceans' rise; he must be disabused of comparable delusions about controlling Congress. When he was a lecturer on constitutional law, he evidently skipped the separation of powers doctrine...

One of George Will's best columns in years. Here it is in full.

Obama Administration Bans Basic Asthma Medication

Here's another example (a ludicrous and yet quite alarming example) of how progressives like those in Barack Obama's FDA insist that politically-correct mythology trump even the most genuine and immediate of human needs. I mean, let's get a grip here. Snatching away an asthmatic kid's Primatene Mist because it uses chlorofluorocarbons?

Guys, this is madness of a most virulent form.

Christopher C. Horner has more -- in a funny but infuriating piece -- over here at Big Government.

Planned Parenthood's Latest Stats: 333 Abortions for Every 1 Adoption Referral.

Does Christian Compassion Require the Nanny State?

Religious statists like Wallis equate the Welfare State with Christian compassion. But common sense and statics indicate that government programs are often least effective in combating poverty, sometimes even perpetuating it. Shouldn’t Christians and others of good will seek maximum effectiveness in helping the needy rather than just further increasing Big Government?

In this illuminating article posted by the Institute on Religion and Democracy, Kristin Rudolph and Barton Gingerich demonstrate how it is leftist ideology rather than an accurate reading of American culture that drives Jim Wallis' wagon.

On several occasions, Sojourners chief Jim Wallis has insisted that the private sector could only provide for 6% of charity and poverty alleviation in the U.S. He uses this frightening number to defend an unlimited federal Welfare State as the chief focus of Christian compassion.

Wallis assumes that government is competent in handling poverty and merits even greater funding. But Christians should examine his claims. A look at the habits, statistics, and finances of government welfare programs paint a grim picture. The limits of governmental welfare contrast strongly with the comparative effectiveness of private charities.

Very good stuff here, especially for those who have young friends who believe Christian compassion equates to the welfare state.

Democrat Investment Leader Blasts Obama's Handling of the Economy

Katya Wachtel over at Business Insider reminds us that influential hedge fund manager (and registered Democrat) Dan Loeb "used to be a huge Obama ambassador."

But boy, has he changed his tune.

The budget is not the only thing in deficit today, as a paucity of leadership has left the country without a stable framework in which businesses can conduct business, investors can invest, and consumers can consume without a high degree of uncertainty and fear.

There has been much said about who is allegedly the "adult in the room," but President Obama has yet to speak to Americans as adults, insisting instead on his preferred technique -- stirring up class warfare.

Scaring senior citizens about the possibility of not receiving their Social Security and Medicare checks, lambasting the corporate jet industry, and calling for higher taxes on managers of private partnerships is not a constructive approach to handling a multi-trillion dollar problem that will have a multi-generational impact.

It's increasingly difficult to avoid that conclusion that while Washington burns, President Obama is fiddling away by insisting that the only solution to the nation's problems -- whether unemployment, the debt ceiling or deficit reductions -- lies in redistribution of wealth.

Perhaps the difference between President Obama and many Americans is that the president sees prosperity as a sign of "unfairness" that needs to be corrected by government via higher taxes and increased regulation. Perhaps a plan that led the way forward by expanding opportunities rather than redistributing incomes and emphasizing growth and prosperity for all would be met with less political resistance.

(Thanks to Ron Rizzo for the tip to this article. I'd suggest you now pass it on to friends and family too.)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Today's Posts

Remove the Kryptonite of the Constitution and Super Obama Could Get Things Done

Though the record of ongoing gaffes, hissy fits, boring speeches (even though depending on his teleprompter), lackluster leadership and overall inefficiency as U.S. President have now demonstrated that the massive ego of Barack Obama is woefully unwarranted, Barack Obama still thinks of himself as the nation's savior.

A frightening example of this remarkable chutzpah came in his remarks this morning in front of the National Council of La Raza. To this friendly audience, Obama not only suggested that he could solve such huge problems as immigration reform and reducing the national debt by himself but implied that the key obstacles to progressive change were democracy and the U.S. Constitution!

"The idea of doing things on my own is very tempting. I promise you, not just on immigration reform. But that's not how our system works. That's not how our democracy functions. That's not how our Constitution is written."

Doggone it. If it weren't for those pesky things, those things that have given the world the highest expressions of political freedom, spiritual protection and economic productivity that it has ever known. Well, if we could just move those aside, then Barack Obama could really get to work in re-making the world.

Like I said, frightening.

About That Campus Crusade for Christ Name Change

One becomes so used to the broad streaks of compromise, cowardice and heterodoxy spreading throughout American evangelicalism that the announcement that Campus Crusade for Christ was changing its name created no small amount of concern among conservatives. That concern was heightened even more when the new name was announced. Campus Crusade for Christ will, from the beginning of 2012, become known merely as...wait for it...Cru.


After two years of prayer, conversation and massive surveys taken among both Christians and non-Christians, this is what they came up with?

Campus Crusade for Christ leaders explain that the word "Crusade" carries a lot of negative baggage and thus creates unnecessary hassles in their attempts to spread the gospel. And the word "Campus" was dropped because the organization has, for many decades now, been involved in international outreach that goes way beyond the university.

I can understand those concerns. And I can even agree that a name change, such as those the organization has already made for some of its overseas ministries, would be helpful.

But Cru?

Sure, staff members and even some supporters have used that nickname since the ministry began. Insiders are thus comfortable with Cru and even have a fond attachment to the nickname. But outside of those few, Cru will be either too cryptic (like the logos of so many modern corporations -- "What the heck is that supposed to be, Martha?" -- or it will retain the very associations that the organization wants to escape -- "Hey, isn't Cru just an abbreviation for that militant, intolerant and oh so politically-incorrect word, Crusade? Who are you guys trying to fool?"

And then there's the greatest concern of all. Why drop "Christ" altogether?

Here's the organization's answer:

Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru) is unswervingly committed to proclaiming the name of Jesus Christ. We are committed to the centrality of the cross, the truth of the Word, the power of the Holy Spirit and the global scope of the Great Commission. We care more about effectively proclaiming the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ than we do about having the word “Christ” in our name.

Although the words Campus and Crusade served as hindrances, there was never any intentional decision to remove the word “Christ.” Yet as we considered hundreds of name possibilities, our experience confirmed that Cru would provide greater opportunity to connect men and women with the heart of Jesus, and to help them consider the good news of the gospel.

For those who may be concerned we have lost moorings, please rest assured that we are the same organization with over 6 billion exposures to the gospel through the JESUS film, and who on any given day counts up to a million exposures to the gospel via the internet and face-to-face contacts around the world.

As an organization, we exist for the sole purpose of helping individuals experience the transforming grace and forgiveness of the gospel through Jesus Christ.

I am very glad to hear this. And even though I remain unconvinced that a name change was necessary, let alone a name change to "Cru," I can let things stand. Indeed, I have decided to continue to support the ministry in prayer, in public pronouncements, and even in financial donations. As I wrote this weekend to a friend who raised the issue, "If time demonstrates that something else is going on (i.e. genuine compromise or cowardice) then I certainly won't be shy about taking them on. But from what my Cru friends assure me, that's not happening. Good."

On this website, Campus Crusade for Christ leaders (including co-founder, Vonette Bright) give their side of the name change story. And there is a lot more there for you to consider. I urge all of you who are interested in this matter to give them a fair hearing.

You may well agree with me that Cru doesn't seem like a great name. And you may well agree with me that dropping the name of Christ from the organization warrants serious concern. But I hope you will agree with me also that as long as Cru remains dedicated to the mission which Campus Crusade for Christ has carried on with such effectiveness, they deserve our support.

Home Depot Co-Founder: Obama's "Output is Absolutely, Incredibly Bad"

Investor's Business Daily talks with Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus:

IBD: What's the single biggest impediment to job growth today?

Marcus: The U.S. government. Having built a small business into a big one, I can tell you that today the impediments that the government imposes are impossible to deal with. Home Depot would never have succeeded if we'd tried to start it today. Every day you see rules and regulations from a group of Washington bureaucrats who know nothing about running a business. And I mean every day. It's become stifling.

If you're a small businessman, the only way to deal with it is to work harder, put in more hours, and let people go. When you consider that something like 70% of the American people work for small businesses, you are talking about a big economic impact.

IBD: President Obama has promised to streamline and eliminate regulations. What's your take?

Marcus: His speeches are wonderful. His output is absolutely, incredibly bad. As he speaks about cutting out regulations, they are now producing thousands of pages of new ones. With just ObamaCare by itself, you have a 2,000 page bill that's probably going to end up being 150,000 pages of regulations.

IBD: If you could sit down with Obama and talk to him about job creation, what would you say?

Marcus: I'm not sure Obama would understand anything that I'd say, because he's never really worked a day outside the political or legal area. He doesn't know how to make a payroll, he doesn't understand the problems businesses face. I would try to explain that the plight of the busi nessman is very reactive to Washington. As Washington piles on regulations and mandates, the impact is tremendous. I don't think he's a bad guy. I just think he has no knowledge of this.

Don Stenberg: Ben Nelson Wins "Hypocrite of the Year"

Can we trust a man who voted to cut $500 billion from Medicare to protect Medicare in the future? I wouldn't bet my Medicare on it.

In 2000, Ben Nelson promised to protect Social Security by stopping the government from spending Social Security money on other government programs.  He said he would put the money in a ‘lockbox’. Ben Nelson broke that promise. Every single dollar in the Social Security Trust Fund has been spent by a wasteful government.  All that is left in the Trust Fund is IOUs."

But now the same Ben Nelson who broke his promise to seniors and let the money in the Social Security Trust Fund be frittered away, says you can trust him to protect Social Security.  What a hypocrite! Clearly, we cannot trust Ben Nelson with the Trust Fund.

(Don Stenberg, State Treasurer and former Attorney General for Nebraska who is now running for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate.)

Department of Justice Watching Movies (Again)

Thursday is movie day (again) at Eric Holder’s Justice Department!

Recall that on May 19, on government time, the Reinvigorated Civil Rights Division held a film screening for “Islam: What a Billion Muslims Really Think.”  In June, the DOJ held a beer bash and wine party on government time.  I have obtained and posted below the internal invitation for a film screening on Thursday for DOJ employees of “Out in Silence.”  Make sure to bring popcorn:

Film Screening Hosted by DOJ Pride.

DOJ Pride (the Department’s association of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees and their allies) and the JMD Equal Employment Opportunity Staff will co-sponsor a free screening of “Out in the Silence” at 12:00 p.m. On Thursday, July 21, 2011, in Room 7411 (Conference Center) of the Robert F. Kennedy Main Justice Building.

“Out in the Silence” is an Emmy Award-winning film that captures the chain of events that unfold when the announcement of filmmaker Joe Wilson’s wedding to another man ignites controversy in his small Pennsylvania hometown. Drawn back by a plea for help from the mother of a gay teen being tormented at school, Joe Wilson’s journey dramatically illustrates the universal challenges of being an outsider in a conservative environment and the transformation that is possible when those who have long been constrained by a traditional code of silence summon the courage to break it.

A question and answer session with the Washington, D.C.-based filmmakers Joe Wilson and Dean Hamer, will follow the screening. For additional information or to request assistive listening devices, please contact Sylvia Price, JMD Equal Employment Opportunity Staff..."

(Christian Adams post, The PJ Tatler at Pajamas Media)

Castro's Police Beat Up "Ladies in White"

Here's one of the latest scenes from the "Worker's Paradise" which is Cuba.

"It wasn’t enough for them to snatch the gladiolus from our hands, they began to beat us, they ripped all our clothes, I have scratches all over my body… So does Aimee and all the other women in the group. We all did a “sit in” and they almost killed us …They did not stop slapping us; we are all scratched They pulled our hair. They dragged us. They threw rocks at us as we remained united, in silence on the ground, firm in our conviction that what we want is the freedom of our political prisoners and the freedom of Cuba."

This was all organized and ordered by State Security whom we make responsible for what could have happened to each one of us and the physical condition we are all presently in. They didn’t care that they beat up Nersa Fernandez Fonseca, an older woman in her fifties. Several of us had to go to the hospital due to our ailing physical conditions.  I was hit on the head with a stone and have a bump. I’m all bruised. When they attacked us, they never took into consideration the fact that we were women  walking in silence."

The above is part of a statement made by Tania Montoya Vazquez, one of the 16 “Ladies in White" (a woman's pro-democracy group in Cuba) who suffered a violent attack by Castro's security forces after attending mass in the Basilica of “El Cobre" in Santiago de Cuba where they had been praying for the freedom of all Cuban political prisoners.

The Death Toll Is Still Rising (At Planned Parenthood)

The accompanying chart shows the numbers of surgical abortions committed by Planned Parenthood from 1970 through 2009, a year in which 332,278 preborn children were destroyed. And the chart is based upon Planned Parenthood's own statistics which means that the numbers could be even higher. After all, an organization that kills preborn children and has frequently been caught lying about other matters is certainly not to be trusted to give the most accurate count.

Even more important to note is that the chart does not record the numbers of abortions which Planned Parenthood commits by the use of various chemicals.

Dr. Gerard Nadal comments:

Here are Planned Parenthood’s own numbers. They reflect their activity in the abortion arena. As one can see, they are increasingly invested in performing this gruesome procedure.

Baby Boomers: These are the children who never were born, who will never pay the taxes we’ll need to sustain us in our retirement; these and the others totaling 53 million lost citizens.

And we let it happen. We’ll do well to remember that during euthanasia’s ascendancy.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Today's Posts


Tender Moments Abound --- A "When Swing Was King" Update

They were sitting in the front row at yesterday's presentation of "When Swing Was King," he in a red chair with his walker parked along the wall, she in her raised wheelchair right by his side. Kathy turned out the lights and Claire brought up onto the screen the first Power Point photos. And as the music of the Glen Miller Orchestra started playing in that packed little room on the third floor of the nursing home, the old fellow reached over and held onto his wife's hand. So they sat throughout the entire program.

It was very touching. It was even more so when he slowly approached me afterwards with tears in his eyes and thanked me for bringing the program to them. "That was just wonderful," he said in almost a whisper. "It brought back so many memories. When are you coming back again?"

Lindenwood is one of our favorite places to present "When Swing Was King" and we're so pleased that it's one of the many places that have us in every month. One of the reasons is Kathy, the activities director who has become a good friend to us, but we've made a lot of other pals there too.

But yesterday was something special.

Maybe it was watching Lyle dance the rumba (though still in his chair) to the music of a Xavier Cugat song. Or hearing Sy's booming bass voice singing along with Bing Crosby. Or having Don tapping his hands on the chair arm to Count Basie, Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman as he sat beside me.

Perhaps it's the two ladies who ask me after every song, "Is Frank Sinatra up next?" Or the enthralling smile and light in the eyes of Betty who lays in a wheeled bed and always wants to be as close to the screen as possible. Or the freedom the audience feels in asking us questions even while the program is in full swing. And then there's the warm welcome we receive, the pleasant banter and conversation while we're setting up our equipment, and the intense thank-yous we get when the music finally stops.

Of course, it's a combination of all these things that makes Lindenwood so delightful and moving an experience. But it was that couple holding hands that most touched our hearts. Thank You Lord. May the love that Claire and I share with one another prove as tender and as lasting as what we saw yesterday.

This afternoon? Well, among a few other things, we've got another of our every-month "When Swing Was King" gigs down at Brookstone in southwest Omaha. I wonder what treasured experiences await us there.

The Word Is Getting Out: Planned Parenthood Is No Charity

Thanks to the fervent prayers and hard work of pro-life activists around the country (including our modest effort here with Nebraskans Against Planned Parenthood), Americans are learning that the mega-abortion business is NOT a humanitarian effort, charity or ministry. What Planned Parenthood is really about -- and the financial records prove it -- is the promotion of sexual promiscuity, the elimination of parent's rights, and the profits from chemical and surgical abortion. With more on this here's a 1-minute podcast from the Susan B.Anthony List and a very encouraging article from Doug Carlson at Baptist Press about state actions denying funds to Planned Parenthood.

Let these things encourage well as stimulate you to heightened efforts to expose the true character of Planned Parenthood. Thank the Lord, we finally are making headway against this sinister business conglomerate. So, for the lives of the preborn children, for the men and women who are being misinformed and manipulated, and for the soul of the American culture, let's keep moving forward in this critical work.

Casino King Turns on Obama

When you read the following lines, remember that the person speaking them is Steve Wynn, the casino magnate who is credited with revitalizing Las Vegas. Wynn is a Democrat who has been a fervent, generous supporter of Barack Obama.

Until now.

Said Wynn in a conference call earlier this week, Barack Obama is "the greatest wet blanket to business, progress and job creation in my lifetime. A lot of people don't want to say that. They'll say, 'Oh God, don't be attacking Obama.' Well, this is Obama's deal, and it's Obama that's responsible for this fear in America."

He continued. "The guy keeps making speeches about redistribution, and maybe 'we ought to do something to businesses that don't invest or (are) holding too much money.' We haven't heard that kind of talk except from pure socialists. And I'm telling you that the business community in this country is frightened to death of the weird political philosophy of the president of the United States."

Pass it on.

Ben Nelson Has Failed Nebraska

Here's a few reasons why I'm supporting Don Stenberg for U.S. Senate.

Depressed by Money Problems? Try Spenditol!

Pass it on.

Americans of Yesteryear Would Be Amazed (And Ashamed) of Us

Our politicians love soaring platitudes followed by little, if any, action. The more Americans are promised shovel-ready stimulus projects, new sources of power, and other fantasies, the more we accept that bureaucracy, regulations, lawsuits, and impact statements will prevent much from ever being done.

The president himself, after demanding nearly a trillion dollars in borrowed money for his budget, confessed that his “shovel-ready” projects had proved not so shovel-ready after all. Much of the vast sum of borrowed money instead went to subsidize nearly insolvent pension funds, entitlements, and bloated state budgets. Unemployment is still at 9.2 percent, with nearly 50 million people on government-subsidized food stamps — even as American infrastructure is crumbling, the private sector is moribund, and national timidity prevents any new large, visionary construction. Prior generations gave us space projects; ours ends them. Boeing once ruled the skies; now the government sues to stop Boeing from opening a new plant...

Victor Davis Hanson then goes on to describe the Big Creek hydroelectric project in California begun a century ago to provide electric power to Los Angeles 250 miles to the south. It's a fascinating story. But Hanson then concludes:

Quite simply, Big Creek could not be built today in the United States. Environmentalists would claim that the pristine nature of the San Joaquin River would be unnecessarily altered, citing a newly discovered colony of spotted newts or dappled dragonflies in the way of the proposed penstocks. Unions would demand blanket representation without elections — and every imaginable compensation for such hazardous duty. Workers would apply for stress-related disability benefits given the dizzying heights and the dank subterranean digging. Government regulators and inspectors would outnumber project engineers. Private entrepreneurs world never risk such a chancy investment without ironclad government guarantees of profits despite enormous cost overruns. And the public would be as skeptical of the risky project’s success as they would be eager to enjoy its dividends when completed.

The Big Creek project, like the Panama Canal, the Hoover Dam, the San Francisco Bay and Golden Gate bridges, and the interstate highway system, was the work of a less wealthy but confident bygone generation. They understood man’s ceaseless elemental struggle against nature to survive one more day, and they did not have the luxury of second- and third-guessing the work of others before them.

We should remember the lesson of Henry Huntington’s Big Creek project, started 100 years ago this year, as we let rich irrigated farm acreage lie idle and pass up the exploitation of new oil and gas fields — preferring to argue endlessly over how to redistribute our inherited but ever-shrinking national pie.

The Historically-Challenged Harry Reid

Yesterday Democrat Harry Reid described the “Cut, Cap and Balance” bill as “perhaps some of the worst legislation in the history of this country.” It was typical blowhard demagoguery as pointed out by Andrew Stiles over at NRO who had to remind the historically-challenged Harry of what the "real worst" would include. Like the Fugitive Slave Act (1850) and the Indian Removal Act (1830). And the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798. And FDR's Executive Order #9066 in 1942 which interned American citizens of Japanese ancestry. And the Volstead Act in 1919 which ushered in prohibition.

Really, Harry. Get a grip.

Abortion Factories

"The abortion clinic is not like a birthing center. You won’t find caring people, soft lighting, and comfortable chairs. You won’t have intimate heart-to-hearts with nurses who remind you of your great-aunt and doctors who remind you of your grandpa. You will find instruments of death and people who want your money. It’s a joke that these places are even referred to as 'health care' facilities. They are factories, and the products they manufacture are dead children and wounded, empty women." (From Kristen Walker. Kristen blogs at Eve's Ransom)

Thanks to Tina Mahar. for passing along the quote.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Today's Posts

Every 50 Minutes, Someone Is Killed By a Drunk Driver

Alisa Joy was my precious miracle child.  The doctors worried that she might have a heart condition when she was born, but she was born big, strong and healthy.

From the day she began walking, she began dancing.  That was her passion and what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.  I loved to watch her dance, loved to kiss her and tell her that I loved her.

The last time I kissed her and told her I loved her, she was unconscious on the gurney.  She died that morning. She was 15.

When Alisa was killed by an underage drunk driver, I said enough is enough.  Then I found out every 50 minutes in this country, someone loses an Alisa to drunk driving. That’s when I joined MADD...

Read more of the letter introducing Jan Withers, MADD’s new National President.