Friday, August 31, 2012

Today's Posts

Don't Buy As I Do: Just Buy As I Sell.

Claire just yelled down to inform me that we don't make enough money for a time-share condo in Branson.

This news (hardly surprising, I must admit) came from a telemarketing clerk who called awhile ago. It was a brief conversation because Claire had to stop her on one of the first points of her pitch; namely, that an income of only $50,000 was required to buy into this terrific opportunity.

"But we don't make that much," Claire explained.

"Not even in combined household income?" The caller was incredulous, suspecting that this was just a dodge to get off the phone. And, sure enough, by the time Claire finally managed to close the conversation, Claire could tell that the girl was pretty ticked off.

It's an interesting phenomena and one that's not without a little comic irony. For although telemarketing can certainly be an honorable profession, it is one that generally pays a person something around minimum wage. And that means, the telemarketer can't afford a Branson condo either. Or, for that matter, from any of the other things they try to sell you.

So, why on earth should the telemarketer be so quick to disbelieve you when you tell them you can't afford the same things that they can't afford? And I'm not even bringing in the arrogance, disdain, and rudeness one so often receives from these guys. I mean, for crying out loud, don't they ever think of how they feel when a telemarketer calls them at home?

Again, don't get me wrong. I commend telemarketers (and even door to door salesmen) for getting in the job force and doing the best they can to provide for themselves and their families. I wish them well in their profession even though I wish some of them would show a bit more understanding and grace towards the people they call on.

And, while I'm expressing wishes, let me pass this one along too.

I wish that there will be (very soon) a change in the White House so that the American economy can begin a much-needed recovery. And yes, among other important improvements, that would mean that more Americans could actually afford a few of those things the telemarketers are pitching.

Neil Armstrong, Lance Armstrong: Contrasting Legacies

From the e-mail newsletter sent to fans of MercatorNet, it's editor Michael Cook ponders the lessons learned this week from two different Armstrongs.

Whenever we looked at the moon in this last couple of days, it was hard to forget that the first man to walk there died on Saturday at the age of 82. JFK had made a vow in 1961 of "achieving the goal, before the decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to Earth." Five months before the deadline Neil Armstrong hopped gingerly onto the Sea of Tranquillity and said, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind".

One day in 1969 changed Armstrong's life, as NASA knew it would. He became an international celebrity, his opinion sought on every topic under the sun. But he hid behind a stoic modesty, never boasting, never taking advantage of his fame. He was content to "bask in obscurity".

Neil brought his own qualities to the job - courage, nerves of steel, an icy calm - but he put the team first. "When you have hundreds of thousands of people all doing their job a little better than they have to," he reminisced, "you get an improvement in performance. And that's the only reason we could have pulled this whole thing off."

Then there is the other Armstrong, Lance, who departed from cycling for ever, in disgrace last Friday. He won seven consecutive Tours de France and a bronze in the 2000 Olympics, but now he forfeits everything he won since August 1, 1998 after declining to defend himself against doping charges. Worse than breaking the rules were the lies told to shield himself from years of allegations. He even used the allegations to inflate his reputation. A famous Nike advertisement  -- "what am I on? I'm on my bike..." - makes sad viewing.

It's a reminder that humility, or at least modesty, is the stuff of heroes. The most important thing is doing your job, doing it well, and supporting the team. Not coming first...

Appeals Court Okays Lethal Experiments on Human Embryos

The Court made the atrocious distinction that research on stem cell lines does not actually kill or harm embryos because the stem cell lines are no longer embryos.  Of course, that is because the embryos have already been destroyed in order to obtain the stem cell lines.  The Court stated, “Dickey-Wicker permits federal funding of research projects that utilize already-derived [embryonic stem cells]—which are not themselves embryos—because no ‘human embryos or embryos are destroyed’ in such projects” (emphasis in original).

In other words, the government will fund any research using human embryos, as long as the researchers kill or harm the embryos before getting the money.  This is a clear distortion of the intent and spirit of the Dickey-Wicker Amendment…

Mailee Smith from Americans United for Life has more on the Court of Appeals decision (unconstitutional as well as immoral) which allows the Obama administration to continue funding destructive embryo research.

Using Sex (and Weird Sex, At That) To Sell Candy

Brent Bozell passes along some very disturbing news from the world of advertizing.

That's not as edgy as a new TV ad for Skittles, the popular children's candy -- meaning the ad is targeted to children. It begins with a young woman kissing a walrus. This is not a peck; it's a moaning make-out session. "What are you doing?" asks another woman who discovers them. "Hey, this isn't what it looks like," says the kissing woman on the couch. "Good, because it looks like you're making out with my boyfriend," the second woman says. The other replies: "This isn't Bobby. It just looks like Bobby."

At least the audience might think the "boyfriend" here might be a human in someone's mind. But unlike the Snickers ads, the walrus never becomes someone else. It remains an ugly, flippered, mustachioed walrus. The kissing girl says of the walrus, "He says he's like these new Skittles Riddles. The colors on the outside don't match the flavors on the inside." She flirts with/teases the walrus with the candy, "You can't have it; you can't have it," before returning to the make-out session.

The advocacy group One Million Moms launched a campaign protesting the ad to Wrigley, arguing "not only is it disgusting, it is taking lightly the act of bestiality. While the shock value of this ad may draw attention to your product, it is harmful to children."

Let's face it, this is a thoroughly bizarre way to sell candy to children, if the message is focused on taste, quality, nutrition -- anything like that. But it's not. Commercials are designed to be cool, to make young people point and laugh. So the dark-suited executives quietly, and surely uncomfortably, acquiesce. They will agree to try anything to scandalize people into paying attention to their sales pitch.

The walrus in the commercial is not a real animal, but something animatronic. After all, Wrigley doesn't want to upset the people who protest animal cruelty during filming. On the other hand, upsetting people who protest indecencies to children doesn't bother them at all…

But do they have to use sex to sell products designed for children? Where do they stop?...The world of commercials is devolving just like the rest of television. Shock wins, and good taste is routed.

In case you'd like to pass along your opinions to the companies mentioned in this Brent Bozell column, here's the contact information:

* Skittles. Made by Wrigley. Here's their web contact page.

* Jack in the Box makes it extremely difficult for customers to contact them. For instance, when you hit the Contact Us link on their website, you get a page where you're warned about going further. "You have asked Firefox to connect securely to, but we can't confirm that your connection is secure. Normally, when you try to connect securely, sites will present trusted identification to prove that you are going to the right place. However, this site's identity can't be verified." Yipes.

I did find a corporate address but the company makes it plain that they only want to hear from investors or media. Okay, but since this is the only way you allow for me to reach you, here's where I'm sending my letter of complaint.

Jack in the Box Inc.
9330 Balboa Ave.
San Diego, CA 92123-1516

And, of course, a business that is this snarky and aloof (let alone one that uses sophomoric sexual innuendo to sell oily hamburgers) is a business best left alone.

* Mentos. Here's their web contact page.

Life in Cuba's Socialist Paradise

The kitchen no longer smells of kerosene, nor are the walls black with soot, nor is alcohol needed to “warm up” the stove. The tenement no longer wakes up with the noise of the air valve stoking the fire, and the lady’s allergies are not set off by the stench of burning. The little window no longer vents a gray smoke, and the food doesn’t have that faint taste of fuel. She no longer fears falling asleep and having the flames crawl through the wooden door. Now, no…

Quick, call Oliver Stone and Sean Penn! For here's evidence (finally!) that the Communist revolution has indeed freed Cuba's women from the drudgery of capitalism.

Oh, wait a sec.

Yoani Sanchez isn't finished with her description. Let's see what happened after Castro's reforms.

Now the problem is the electricity bill. The rice cooker that they gave out five years ago and that has had to be repaired dozens of time. The stove that was handed out in those days of the so-called Energy Revolution which seems to voraciously swallow kilobytes. The Chinese refrigerator — a replacement given out for the old Frigidaires — which spends more hours thawing than freezing. In short, now her great concern arises from the excessive bill with the blue numbers that they slip under her door.

If, before, she spent her day in search of fuel, now her pension goes to the high costs of electricity. Using the stove and water heater at least three times a week, means she now has to allocate 80% of her retirement to pay for energy. It’s gone from one distressing difficulty to another desperate one. Che changes a ceiling covered in soot for several days a month with no electricity because she can’t pay for it. Before she could complain, swear, scream at the stove, howl to the four winds because the damn burner wears her out. Now, no. Because it’s all been “the Comandante’s idea,” the “Comandante’s program.”

(Yoani Sanchez, "From Kerosene to Electricity," Translating Cuba.)

Ethanol -- It's Not Accomplishing What You Think

In previous Vital Signs Blog posts, I've alerted you to some excellent, fact-based articles dealing with the ill-conceived and grievously damaging government program which is ethanol production. They include: "Biofuels vs Food" from February 2011; "Let's Stop the Ethanol Scam" from December 2010; and "Al Gore Flips on Ethanol; Admits He's a Political Phony" from November 2010.

Well, Vince over at Flopping Aces has another excellent column on the subject and, to encourage you to go over and read the whole thing, here's a few excerpts.

...Since the Carter administration the government has been diverting your dollars to put ethanol into your gas tank. Initially it was intended to be a tool to help the United States become energy independent, it then morphed into a tool to help increase gas mileage and later it became a critical element in fighting global warming. Now it doesn’t even do any of those dubious, but theoretically positive, things. It’s simply become another failed government wealth transfer program...

The worst part of the entire ethanol fiasco is the fact that not only does it not achieve any of its stated – and oft changing – objectives; it actually causes a wide array of unintended consequences – none of which are good. Number one is the fact that it drives up the cost of one of the most important foodstuffs in the world, corn, the price for which is up almost 300% over the last decade. That in turn drives up the price of virtually every other thing in the economy, from food to transportation to plastics. Then there’s the fact that ethanol damages engines and that the patchwork of ethanol standards across the country causes unnecessary price spikes and shortages. If all of that weren’t enough, ethanol has even scared off much of – but not all – of the anti-capitalist environmental lobby because – among other things – it drives deforestation on a wide scale around the world.

Finally, and most heartbreakingly, the ethanol mandates have driven the prices of American crops to near record levels, resulting in greater hunger in developing nations. One way they do this is to encourage farmers to switch to more profitable corn, which results in less wheat, oats, etc. to meet demand. This in turn results in less food making it into the stomachs of poor children around the world. In a nutshell, the mandates make everything in our economy more expensive, do little to alleviate our energy conundrum, actually harm the environment and make dollars donated to feed the hungry not go as far. That seems like a policy that screams to be abolished...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Today's Posts

Barkin Up the Wrong Tree (And Other Pro-Life News)

* Award-winning actress Ellen Barkin, that sweet, sensitive Democrat who made waves (but only in the alternative press) for tweeting a couple of days ago that she hoped Hurricane Isaac would hit the Republican convention and “wash every pro-life, anti-education, anti-woman, xenophobic, gay-bashing, racist SOB right into the ocean” has long been an ardent promoter of abortion.

Steven Ertelt from reminds readers that it was Barkin who boasted at a press conference 8 years ago, “I am the mother of a 12-year-old girl and I can tell you unequivocally that if my daughter was pregnant, I would take her kicking and screaming to have an abortion.”

Also covered by in recent days:

* A federal judge has dismissed Wheaton College's lawsuit opposing ObamaCare's requirement that religious institutions pay for and refer women for abortion-causing drugs, birth control and contraception.

* The family of a woman who died from a botched abortion at a Chicago Planned Parenthood is suing the mega-abortion corporation. And another woman (this one in Houston) is rushed to an ER after a Planned Parenthood abortionist messes her up badly.

Three's a Crowd? Or Three's the New Marriage?

A public notary in Brazil has just "legalized" the marital union of a man and a woman...and another woman.

As the notary put it, the very idea of family has changed for this modern era. "For better or worse, it doesn't matter, but what we considered a family before isn't necessarily what we would consider a family today."

You just knew this kind of thing was coming, right?

True, the official recognizing the triad marriage was only a notary and not a judge, politician or clergyman. But just wait a bit. I'm sure they'll dutifully come along.

To Protect Whales, Cops Ordered to Shoot Seagulls

I wouldn't have thought that seagulls would have much to do with whales, let alone present a serious threat to them. But that's just what they are doing off the coast of Argentina.

So much so that the country has directed cops to start shooting the seagulls in hopes of driving them off.

I'm not kidding.

Seagulls off the coast of the Patagonian city of Puerto Madryn have discovered that by pecking at the whales as they come up for air they can create open wounds. Each time the whales then surface gulls swoop down and cut away skin and blubber with their beaks and claws…

Whales are also changing their behaviour in response to the attacks. Instead of breaching the water and dramatically displaying their tails, they rise just barely enough to breathe through their blow-holes before descending to safety.

Authorities believe that killing the seagulls will thus protect the whales and, of course, protect also the profits derived from tourists who pay handsomely to watch the sporting, spouting whales in their breeding grounds there in the Atlantic.

Local environmentalists have proposed other ideas to contain the seagull numbers. They suggest much stricter garbage controls of civilian trash dumps, commercial fishing boats, and food processing plants.

Those options are much more practical. After all, does anyone really believe the police could shoot enough of the predators to drive the rest off? And, if they were to undertake the plan in earnest, the boatloads of policemen banging away with shotguns would certainly be as much of a deterrent to the whales than the biting birds.

But then again, maybe the authorities are laying the groundwork for a whole new tourist attraction.

That Oh-So-Elusive "Missing Link"

"I suppose the reason is that paleontology is a rather data-poor science. There are probably more paleontologists than there are important fossils in the world. To make a name for yourself is to find a new interpretation for those fossils that are extant. This always goes against some earlier person's interpretation, who will not like it very much. . . . It's almost like social anthropology or politics—you can only win by somehow yelling louder than the other person or sounding more convincing."

The above comments are from Svante Pääbo, a Neanderthal genome researcher. He is quoted by Denyse O'Leary in an interesting little article over at Salvo Magazine about the difficulties (and desperation) in trying to find the "missing link." The article emphasizes how science is too often about ego, ideology, group think, and political correctness rather being about scientific fact. Check it out.

Towards a More Humane America

A Profound New Ad from the Susan B. Anthony List

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Today's Posts

Remember, Until Obama's Re-Elected, He Can't Be Too "Flexible" with Putin

Barack Obama Honors Neil Armstrong's Memory with Photo...of Barack Obama!

Be Careful of Those Lies in the Obama Ads

Anti-Gay Home Invasion? Or a Malicious Fabrication?

New Social Trends Underscoring Humanity of the Preborn

Phyllis Schlafly: "Republican Party Platform May Be Best Ever"

Remember, Until Obama's Re-Elected, He Can't Be Too "Flexible" with Putin

Remember the backdrop to this picture?

Barack Obama Honors Neil Armstrong's Memory with Photo...of Barack Obama!

Yes, I've already drawn attention to this story through a Facebook entry last night but since many of Vital Signs Blog readers are not connected there, I didn't want the chance to go by to point out the latest in a long, long line of remarkably gauche moves by our President.

It comes from the Daily Caller.

We all know the world revolves around The Greatest President in the History of Everything. So it makes sense that all the other celestial bodies were placed in the sky to shine down upon him.

This is not a Photoshop. This
[along with a couple of air-head sentences praising the space program that Obama has gutted] was actually posted on Obama’s official Tumblr page    ----->

Sure, Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. But only to tidy it up, so that one day it would be a suitable resting place for Obama’s kingly gaze.

Hat tip to Sooper Mexican, who notes that this is a stock image from last April. That’s how Team Obama thinks: “Hey, we got any pictures of the boss looking at the moon? Any way we can make this all about him?” And that attitude starts at the top. Just ask Queen Elizabeth, as she’s deleting all the Obama videos from the iPod he gave her…

Be Careful of Those Lies in the Obama Ads

As John Hinderaker of PowerLine says, “There are liars; there are compulsive liars; and then there is the Obama campaign.”

Here's a report about one of the Democrats' recent TV ads which describes the "conversion"of Republican women to Barack Obama. Trouble is that at least one of those women is anything but a Republican…as in voting Democrat for the last six years and sporting a Facebook page that "Likes" Democratic Party, Denver Young Democrats, the Sierra Club,, and I Love It When I Wake Up In the Morning and Realize Obama is President.

But then, what's a few whopping lies among the many?

Another example? Check out this post from yesterday -- "The Democrats Are Simply Lying About Medicare."

Anti-Gay Home Invasion? Or a Malicious Fabrication?

Charlie Rogers, a former basketball star with the University of Nebraska and outspoken lesbian, made national waves with her announcement last month that she had been attacked in her own home by masked men who tied her up, carved anti-gay slurs into her arms and stomach with box cutters, vandalized her home with paint, and planned to set the place on fire before suddenly fleeing.

Rallies and candlelight vigils were held. Fundraising campaigns were generated. And a lot of ink was published about anti-homosexual violence.

However, it now appears that Rogers made it all up as a deliberate act to be a "catalyst" for social change.


Here's the story.

New Social Trends Underscoring Humanity of the Preborn

Just this weekend I learned about "gender reveal parties," the new social trend which makes the public announcement of an unborn child's gender into a celebration, complete with colors, festivity and a surprise cake.

Today I learned that this is only one of several new trends which help emphasize to society that a preborn boy or girl is not only fully human -- and thus deserving of all the protection we can give -- but also a valued human whose presence among us should be extolled and celebrated.

Want to find out exactly what I'm talking about?

Then go on over to and read this brief but fascinating article, "Five Trends Beautifully Illustrate the Humanity of Unborn Babies" by Nancy Flanders.

Phyllis Schlafly: "Republican Party Platform May Be Best Ever"

Hey, take your pick of critical issues: sanctity of life, marriage, the judiciary, religious freedom, taxation, health care, immigration, welfare, national security, or the United Nations.

Christian activist Phyllis Schlafly says that the Republican party platform is superb on each one.

The Republican Party platform may be the best one ever adopted. The party has long since learned that fiscal, social and sovereignty issues cannot be ignored or separated, but must be addressed as all part of a national campaign.

The media may have forgotten (or chosen to forget) that Ronald Reagan’s big victories, including his 49-state victory in 1984, were based on a three-legged stool of dealing directly with all three clusters of issues…

Read the rest of her enlightening (and encouraging) column right here in the Washington Times.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Today's Posts

In Vitro Ferilization's Terrible Secret

South Africa: The "Rainbow Nation" It's Not

Attn: Elizabeth Warren. Fake Indian Wins Victory (In Wales)

Double Standards on "Hate Speech"

The Republicans Have the Definite Edge on Moral Issues...So Why Not Act Like It?

The Democrats Are Simply Lying About Medicare

In Vitro Ferilization's Terrible Secret

The research scientists (like those at the Yale School of Medicine who presented an intensive study a few years ago) tell us that around 80-85% of the embryos transferred during in vitro fertilization never make it to birth.

And since nearly two million kids have been born through IVF methods (as has been boasted by specialists in the field), that means that at least 10,000,000 embryos involved in IVF transfer didn't make it.


That's why, every once in awhile, I post this brief column I originally wrote for a Vital Signs" radio program. I'm afraid it is as relevant as ever.

What Happens to the "Extra" Embryos?

Amid all the talk about the ever-increasing availability of in vitro fertilization techniques, one issue is almost never mentioned; namely, what happens to all those extra embryos?

Well, to be frank, almost none of them make it.

Despite whatever warm feeling one might have towards infertile couples who are being helped to conceive a child through in vitro fertilization, it is important to understand this fact -- in vitro fertilization generally creates multiple embryos to ensure a greater probability of success. And, yes, most of the little humans thus created die. Either those embryos die as a result of the limitation of the female body to accommodate them properly or, in many instances, they are never implanted in the first place.

In the case of the embryos left over in the storage facilities of fertility clinics, different fates await them. They can, for instance, be frozen for some unspecified purpose in the distant future (the storage frequently being lethal itself) or they can be sold or donated to scientific research, a monstrous end from which none survive. Many IVF clinics merely incinerate the tiny guys and gals when they die, treating them no better than medical waste. Others, trying to be less crass, give the embryos some kind of funeral.

But no matter where the tiny bodies end up, they’re simply dead bodies, not living, growing human beings. And nothing, not even the heartbreak of being unable to naturally conceive children, can justify such brutal pragmatics.

South Africa: The "Rainbow Nation" It's Not

Talk about double standards.

There have been very few mainstream news sources that have dared to examine the lethal violence (34 dead) used on August 16th against striking black miners by South African security forces.

Why the silence?

When the South African apartheid government killed striking black miners at Sharpeville in 1960, the world certainly took notice. South Africa was vilified by the international community. It was condemned by American and European papers, blasted by the United Nations, excluded from the Olympics.  Indeed, Sharpeville has since become a key event in the political lore of the country, endlessly talked about as an example of the ruthlessness and injustice of apartheid policies.

But is the injustice any less when striking black workers are killed by forces representing a government led by the African National Congress?

Brendan O’Neill over at spiked! is one of those willing to look at what happened -- and to ask why there has been such a dearth of news coverage and commentary. He believes it is due almost exclusively to the Left's unwillingness to "explode the myth of a post-Apartheid rainbow nation."

Below are a couple of excerpts of O'Neill's "Massacre of the Miners: The ANC’s Sharpeville."

In Western newspapers, thundering editorials have been notable by their absence. No world leaders have issued withering condemnations of the government in South Africa, as they would have done in a flash if something like this had happened in Russia or China. Amnesty made a half-hearted statement (‘a judge must oversee an investigation into the deaths’) and then went back to organising global protests for the release of Pussy Riot. Even in South Africa itself, there is reluctance to talk frankly about the killings. In the words of one SA observer, ‘The most striking thing about the reaction is the lack of it’. Many people refer to the massacre as a ‘tragedy’, as if it were an accident at a mine rather than an act of state terror at a mine, or simply as an ‘incident’, that catch-all word that can cover everything from a scuffle on a bus to, it seems, the killing in three minutes flat of 34 people.

Why the caginess about discussing this major event? It is because the massacre did not only kill 34 miners – it also killed, or rather threatens to kill, the myth of a post-Apartheid ‘rainbow nation’. The massacre throws into sharp relief the nature of post-Apartheid South Africa and the bald, uncomfortable fact that while it may have done away with the overt racism of the old regime, it has kept in place the economic system that the old regime nurtured and the extreme exploitation of black workers that it was underwritten by. Having held up the so-called ‘rainbow nation’ of post-Apartheid South Africa as a shining example of how only negotiated political settlements can bring peace and only multiculturalism can ensure justice, observers around the world are made supremely uncomfortable by these recent events…

The massacre has been described by some as the fault of the workers themselves, including by many on the South African left. A leading member of the South African Communist Party (SACP) laid the blame at the feet of AMCU, accusing it of nurturing ‘chaos and anarchy’. Another SACP spokesman said: ‘The police used their weapons in exactly the way they were supposed to. The people they shot didn’t look like workers to me.’ In an official statement, the SACP called upon the South African president, Jacob Zuma of the African National Congress (ANC), to hold an inquiry into ‘the incident’ – not into the police’s brutality but into the ‘pattern of violence associated with the pseudo-trade union AMCU’…

But what the massacre of the miners brings to the fore is not simply the co-option of one miners’ union into officialdom’s camp, but rather the more historic, drawn-out process of the New South Africa’s cultivation of a new clique of black rulers to maintain the economic system that pertained under Apartheid. The massacre has made explicit what has hitherto remained largely hidden by the PC terms that abound in the New South Africa, from its description of itself as a ‘rainbow nation’ to its promotion of the values of ‘truth and reconciliation’ – which is that the ANC made a fatal compromise with the old regime in the late 1980s and early 1990s, agreeing to call off its struggle in return for its coming to power in a ‘New South Africa’ in which Apartheid laws would be dismantled but the vast economic inequalities between whites and blacks would largely remain. The Marikana massacre demonstrates the extent to which the ANC has replaced the Apartheid rulers as the overseers of a system of privilege for some (not just whites but some blacks, too) and hardship for vastly more...

Attn: Elizabeth Warren. Fake Indian Wins Victory (In Wales)

Here's a story that's sure to delight Elizabeth Warren for it tells of a victory over insensitive, intolerant government forces by another fake Indian.

This one happens to live across the pond in Wales. He's a father of six who, as much as is possible for a guy in Swansea, lives as an Apache, including dressing up in a headdress made of eagle wings, badger paws, snake heads, and whatever other curious animal parts he can find from road kill.

The fellow calls himself Mangas Coloradas after a famous native American warrior of the American Southwest even though he has no more a legitimate claim to be Apache than...well, than Elizabeth Warren has to being a Cherokee.

Anyhow, it seems the 60-year old Apache-wannabe got in a bit of trouble for wearing (and, gulp, consuming) "protected wild animal parts." But some enlightened soul in the Crown Prosecution Service felt sorry for M.C. Jr. and persuaded them to drop the case.

Interesting though were his remarks after hearing of his good fortune because they sounded uncannily like something you might hear from Democrat Elizabeth Warren as she stumps for votes in her Massachusetts Senate race: "I dress like this all the time. I'm not just some weekend Indian...They just don't understand my native way of life. I'd never kill or hurt an animal. But as a native, when I find a dead animal I will eat it or use its body parts."

At any rate, congratulations are in order for Mr. Mangas Coloradas of Swansea County, Wales. However, those invited to his victory party may want to exercise restraint when it comes to the buffet table. Road kill hors d'oeuvres are definitely an acquired taste.

Double Standards on "Hate Speech"

In late February of this year, radio talk-show icon Rush Limbaugh used language even he deemed inappropriate in describing a Georgetown University student turned self-proclaimed poster-child for President Obama’s abortion pill/contraception HHS mandate. On March 3 Limbaugh apologized for the words he’d used to describe the student, admitting he wished he had not lowered himself to the level he did in making his point.

But the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill knows hate speech when it hears it. Thus, apology or not, university officials barred local radio station WRDU from even mentioning Limbaugh’s show during its broadcasts of Tar Heel basketball and football games, and they also prohibited the channel from referencing UNC or the Tar Heel Sports Network during its broadcasts of Limbaugh’s daily talk show.

On the other hand, this same school recently paid homosexual activist Dan Savage $18,500 in speaker’s fees,1 without even wincing at the duplicity.

It was Savage who once wished death on all Republicans, who mocked the pope as “the dope in Rome,” and who, when sick, admitted getting as close to Gary Bauer as he could, and to licking Bauer’s office doorknobs, staplers, phones, and such in the hope of getting Bauer sick, too.

This is the same Savage who says fidelity in marriage is overrated and who was so outraged over Republican Rick Santorum’s defense of life and family that he vulgarized Santorum’s last name, making it a by-word for a substance associated with anal sex.

And Savage went even further...

Think about it—Limbaugh was virtually banned from ever being mentioned in the same breath as the university from now till eternity because of his perceived “rude, inappropriate and offensive statements” about the Georgetown student. Savage, on the other hand, can run his mouth as recklessly as he wishes, slinging profanity and sacrilege wherever he wants—including mocking the defenders of marriage and family—yet he receives $18,500 from UNC–­Chapel Hill in return…

[T]he way things look from here, UNC–Chapel Hill’s method for determining what does and does not constitute hate speech seems to be no more sophisticated than determining what speech it agrees with and what speech it doesn’t.

That is obviously not a trustworthy standard.

(A.W.R. Hawkins, "Hate Speech They Love: A Double Standard at Chapel Hill," Salvo)

The Republicans Have the Definite Edge on Moral Issues...So Why Not Act Like It?

John McCormack, a staff writer at The Weekly Standard, has a brilliant article here which asks why on earth the Republicans are not exploiting the huge political advantage they have in being pro-life? Instead of being on the defensive on Todd Akin's rape comments, they could be pointing out that the real radicals in the election regarding issues most relevant to women, children, violence, morality and justice are Democrats.

I suggest you read the article and make it the basis for your next communication with Republican candidates.

And, of course, there is nothing stopping YOU from talking about the huge differences between the candidates to your friends, family, co-workers, etc.

...A Quinnipiac poll asked voters in December 2009: “Do you support or oppose using public funds to pay for abortions under a health care reform bill?” Seventy-two percent of voters opposed public funding of abortion and 23 percent supported it. The November election will determine whether abortion-funding under Obama-care​—​the issue that nearly took down the bill in an overwhelmingly Democratic Congress​—​actually takes effect.

Obama’s support of a legal regime that permits late-term abortion-on-demand is also deeply unpopular. According to the most recent Gallup poll, 86 percent of Americans think third-trimester abortions should be illegal. Obama’s with the 14 percent.

So extreme is Obama’s commitment to abortion-on-demand that as an Illinois state senator he opposed measures to protect infants who had been born alive during botched late-term abortions. The president is so dedicated to “women’s rights” that this summer he opposed a ban on gender-selective abortions​—​the abortion of girls because they are girls. During a speech to students at Sichuan University in 2011, Vice President Joe Biden condoned China’s brutal one-child policy, which includes forced abortions. “Your policy has been one which I fully understand—I’m not second-guessing—of one child per family,” Biden said, before arguing that the policy was making the country demographically unstable. The Obama administration has sent U.S. tax dollars to support “family planning” initiatives in China and elsewhere.

The press would much rather focus on the issue of banning abortion in the case of rape​—​an issue on which three-quarters of the electorate is pro-choice​—​than on any of the abortion questions that would hurt the president. But there’s a big difference between banning abortion in the case of rape, a policy Romney does not support and that has no chance of becoming U.S. law, and permitting late-term and taxpayer-funded abortions​—​existing laws that President Obama actively supports.

The Romney campaign’s silence on abortion stands in contrast to successful Republican presidential campaigns of the past. Although the Iraq war and the economy were front-and-center in  2004, John Kerry ran TV ads warning that another Bush term would lead to the end of Roe v. Wade, and the Bush campaign hit Kerry with ads about the Massachusetts senator’s support for partial-birth abortion. According to the exit poll, 22 percent of voters in 2004 cited “moral values” as their most important issue, and these voters broke 80 percent to 18 percent in Bush’s favor. Those voters haven’t disappeared in eight short years...

But don’t expect many voters to find out about Obama’s out-of-the mainstream views if Republicans and the Romney campaign don’t talk about them.

The Democrats Are Simply Lying About Medicare

Last week I spoke with a journalist who covers health care who was marveling at the trouble the Democrats had allowed themselves to get into on Medicare — thanks to Obamacare on the one hand and the Romney-Ryan plan on the other, it’s suddenly Democrats who would cut the program for current seniors but would fail to save it from collapse and Republicans who would leave current seniors protected and stand a real chance of saving Medicare (and the federal budget) in the long run. 

In their attempt to run away from this new reality, the Democrats have found themselves pushed into a series of increasingly implausible and unserious defenses and seemed to be losing ground on Medicare, which they had hoped might be their strongest issue this year. 

“So what will they do?” I asked him. 

He didn’t hesitate: “They’ll just lie.” 

He thought they would revert to the same story they have told for years — Republicans will increase seniors’ costs and destroy Medicare and Democrats won’t — and assume that people will just believe it.

That certainly made sense, and we now know he was right. On Saturday, the Obama campaign released [an] ad attacking the Romney Medicare proposal. The ad doesn’t walk some sort of narrow line between misleading and deceiving, it’s just simply a pack of lies from top to bottom...

(From Yuval Levin's "They’ll Just Lie." Read the whole post right here at NRO's The Corner.)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Today's Posts

СЖЛ Ресурсы -- Another One of Vital Signs' Ministries

One of the less-known outreaches of Vital Signs Ministries is СЖЛ Ресурсы, our web site where Bible study material, pro-life information and sermon notes are available in Russian. Developed initially as a way to stay in touch with friends in Belarus (where I've made 11 visits over the years for speaking engagements and to teach courses at a Bible school) and Russia (alas, I've only been there once), СЖЛ Ресурсы continues to develop thanks to a good friend who provides inexpensive translation work...and to visionary supporters of Vital Signs Ministries who understand the importance of providing such materials for those who have little or no access whatever to them.

I thought I'd mention it this morning to remind readers of Vital Signs Blog that as time-consuming as blogging can be, it is just a bit of what VSM is all about. There is the prayer and sidewalk counseling ministry; the "When Swing Was King" presentations in the nursing homes and assisted living facilities; the letter-writing events; the networking and discipleship activities; a variety of educational/motivational services including meetings, speaking, media and publications; the maintenance of the websites; and more.

We are certainly grateful for your prayers and any financial support you and/or your church might be able to share to help us keep going strong. Thanks.

Why Would a Christian Vote for a Mormon President?

"Denny, from previous posts on your blog I can see that you are not thrilled at the prospect of Mitt Romney being the Republican nominee for President. Is that mainly because he is a Mormon? Does that mean you'll be voting for someone else this time around or just not vote at all?"

That was the gist of a question that was waiting for me when I logged on to the computer this morning. I sent a quick reply to that question but I then figured it would be appropriate to develop it a little further and present it here. So, here's that extended answer.

Dear -------

Yes, I remain appalled that the standard bearer for the Republican Party is a practicing Mormon. Mormonism is not only a cult (a religious system that claims connections to Jesus and the Bible while yet denying essential doctrines of Christianity), but it is a particularly anti-historical and silly cult. That Mr. Romney buys into golden tablets, lost civilizations, holy underwear, spirit babies, and the hopes of the faithful to be 'Jesus replicas' on their own planets is, at the very least, disconcerting.

But then Romney didn't applaud Jeremiah Wright's anti-American sermons for years nor create a mishmash religion of his own from Islam, liberal Christianity, and Saul Alinsky.

I believe Romney's position as the G.O.P. nominee says much about the general retreat of evangelicals and conservative Catholics from the political arena AND the domination of the leftist media in the selection process which goes all out to ignore, distort, mock and vilify the best candidates.

So, I'm not at all surprised that Mitt Romney is the guy who will receive the nomination. But I'm not at all pleased either.

But let's remember this hard fact: Mitt Romney is running for President against Democrat Barack Obama. And let me state plainly here the five greatest reasons Barack Obama should be opposed.  

1) I consider Barack Obama the most dangerous political power of our time, a man unswervingly dedicated to remaking America into a socialist/secularist nation that is woefully ill-prepared to defend herself (let alone the cause of freedom in the world). Furthermore, 2) Barack Obama is committed to using coercive police powers to repress freedoms of religion, speech, and assembly. 3) He is intent on ignoring the Constitution's balance of powers in order to make the Executive branch (with its armies of bureaucrats and clerks) a near totalitarian power. 4) He is committed to a socialistic philosophy that will further ruin America's economy and bring in untold misery. And 5) Barack Obama is brazenly zealous to destroy the very concepts of sanctity of life, the natural family, sexual morality, fairness, and moral honor.

I shudder over the horrible damage done to the United States by this would-be despot over the last four years. But I fear the damage will be irreversible (and, quite probably, fatal) if he remains in charge another four years. 

Imagine the effect of Obama's czars, his Executive Orders, his appointments to the Supreme Court and all other federal courts, his further dismantling of America's economy and national defense, his industrious efforts to force Christianity into a closet...if he has another 4 years.

So, I repeat; I'm not at all pleased that Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee for President of the United States. I would have much preferred Rick Perry or Michelle Bachmann or Paul Ryan or Marco Rubio or Tom Coburn or Chris Smith or Bobby Jindal or Sarah Palin or Rick Santorum or Allen West or Jeff Fortenberry or any of several others. 

But will I sit this election out because of the Republican's poor choice?


Nor will I be voting for a third party candidate which, for all practical purposes, would be the same thing.

Because I truly believe that another four years of President Barack Obama would be profoundly disastrous for America, the cause of justice, and the freedom of religion...this registered Independent will be voting for the Republican ticket.

"Barack Obama’s Conduct Puts Him in a Class of One" -- And That Ain't Good

In its otherwise glorious history, the Oval Office has suffered its share of scoundrels. Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon, to name just two, certainly left distinctive stains.

Yet Barack Obama’s conduct puts him in a class of one. Day in, day out, he diminishes the traditions of an office that, starting with George Washington, were created to keep the presidency above the soiling scrum of partisan politics.

No. 44 specializes in a small-mindedness fueled by arrogance and contempt. So much so that, if he loses this election, he’ll already have earned the title for his next book: “Honey, I Shrunk the Presidency.” Let us count the ways.

He has attended more fund-raisers than any president in history, turning Air Force One into a collection shuttle.

He stands behind the grand seal of the United States of America to level scurrilous attacks on his opponent, by name, and even names the opposing vice-presidential candidate. He’s more respectful when he talks of Iran’s mad mullahs.

He leaks classified information for political gain, then feigns shock over complaints.

Oh, and he lies virtually every time he appears in public.

All these offenses against decency are now in service to his campaign, an enterprise that turns grubbier by the minute…

Keep reading Michael Goodwin's New York Post column right here.

TSA Groping: It's Not Just for Airports Anymore

Yesterday I pointed you towards a provocative article written last spring by the former head of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Kip Hawley. The article ("Why Airport Security Is Broken—And How To Fix It") contained an honest presentation of the TSA's worst mistakes while also providing common sense ideas of how to make the system less cumbersome, less annoying, and yet more efficient. Good stuff.

But the fact remains that the TSA, like any other government agency of our increasingly pugnacious Nanny State, is getting frighteningly out of hand. Pun fully intended.

Here, reported by Steve Watson over at, is another case of the TSA leaving the airport in order to give pat-downs (and the subsequent willies) to American citizens...on the street!

For some time we have been warning that the TSA is systematically moving beyond the nation’s airports and conducting operations on the streets of America.

The latest example of this kind of activity occurred at an event organized by Mitt Romney’s GOP running mate Paul Ryan this past weekend in The Villages, Florida.

The Shark Tank blog reports that TSA officers showed up alongside Secret Service and the local Sumter County Sheriff’s Office, and proceeded to do what they do like no one else does... “We heard that the TSA was going to expand its ummm, ‘reach,’ but to assist in political campaigns is quite the jump in broadening their ‘transportation security horizons.’ I counted no less than 6 TSA agents alongside the usual uniformed Secret Service detail..."

As we have previously documented, airport security style checkpoints and inspection procedures are already in place at bus terminals, train stations, and are rapidly being expanded to the streets of America. Agents have even been spotted roaming around at public events such as sports games and music concerts, and even at high school proms.

The TSA even moved beyond its own borders this summer as agents were dispatched to airports in London for the Olympic Games.

The TSA has also announced its intention to expand the VIPR program to include roadside inspections of commercial vehicles...These internal checkpoints, run by Homeland Security, the Department of Transportation, and the TSA, involve trucks being scanned with backscatter x-ray devices in the name of “safety” and “counter terrorism”.

Homeland Security is also developing technology to be used at “security events” which purports to monitor “malintent” on behalf of an individual who passes through a checkpoint.

Since its inception in the US after 9/11, the TSA has grown in size exponentially. The agency was slammed in a recent congressional report for wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on security theatre.

If people think they can avoid the TSA by staying away from airports, they’re going to be in for a rude awakening. TSA is clearly engaged in a total takeover of society and plans to have its agents searching, patting down, scanning and harassing Americans at all levels of society, not just at transport hubs but at public events, in the street and on highways and roads across the country...

With Economy, National Defense Melting, Obama Plays Smear Games

While the president and his minions play smear games against the GOP, the economy is figuratively burning down…

But the president refuses to deal with that mess until after the election (by then, we’ll be well on our way to the recession). The irresponsibility is staggering.

The CBO contends that unemployment would go over 9 percent as the economy contracts another .5 percent.

Moreover, the economy is worsening, coming in below expectations. (“In addition, CBO analysts concluded that the underlying economy is weaker than previously predicted. In its latest budget outlook, the CBO predicts the federal deficit will be $1.1 trillion in the fiscal year that ends in September, marking the fourth straight year of deficits in excess of $1 trillion.”)

The Obama team seems convinced that it can win the election on smears and tactics. (Tie Akin to Romney! Holler ‘Bain’!) It is either in denial or oblivious to the fact that actual events — and real things like the economy — may motivate voters. And it seems never to have dawned on the team that it needs concrete policies (e.g., Social Security and Medicare reform) of its own.

It is not even as if the negative attacks are working. The Post reports: “A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows 41 percent of Americans view the new GOP vice presidential nominee favorably, while 37 percent rate him unfavorably — slightly improved from last week’s polling. Among seniors, though, the numbers are even better for Ryan: 50 percent favorable and 35 percent unfavorable. Fully one-third of seniors say they have a strongly favorable view of the Wisconsin congressman, while one-quarter have a strongly unfavorable view.” The Obama camp no doubt believes it hasn’t run enough attack ads. But maybe, just maybe, the poll numbers reflect voters’ own assessment that Paul Ryan is congenial and talking earnestly about actual policies (e.g., energy, Medicare).

The gap between, on one hand, what is happening in the real world and what voters care about and, on the other, what the Obama camp and much of the media push is as vast as it has even been. In an idealized (or even responsible) journalistic environment, we’d be focused on possible war with Iran (a very real possibility) and the looming recession. Instead, the media, following like lemmings behind the Obama parade, are still fixated on Todd Akin. Unfortunately, this is now par for the course. 

Refusing to play on that terrain, the Romney-Ryan team has latched onto a smart “strategy” — talk about issues, point to evidence in the real world, offer actual policies and rebut forcefully the merits of the Democratic spin. That might not work. But it’s nice to think that facts and reality matter more than bile, despite hundreds of millions of dollars spent to bamboozle us. Really, if that isn’t the case, our democracy has bigger problems than the recession... 

House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) chimes in: “The economy isn’t growing. As the CBO makes clear, the President’s push for higher taxes on small businesses and failure to prevent devastating defense cuts threaten our national security, jobs and economic growth. The House has acted to stop the tax hike and replace the sequester with common sense reforms. Weeks ago, Congressional Republican leaders asked the President and Senate Democrats to work with us on a bipartisan solution to these economic threats. The clock is ticking, but Democrats continue to stall. With four years of trillion dollar deficits and an economy threatened by the President’s failed policies, Americans deserve real leadership that will create jobs, responsibly reduce our massive debt and return economic growth and prosperity.”

(Jennifer Rubin, "The CBO Warns about Obama’s Irresponsible Tactics" in the Washington Post.)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Today's Posts

New Project Moses Monument Dedicated

Claire and I just returned from a very pleasant luncheon meeting at Hope E. Free Church which Pastor Don Moore had set up to express his thanks to the pro-life activists who pray and sidewalk counsel down the street in front of the Planned Parenthood abortion mill. He also wanted us to know of the church's ongoing support for this ministry AND to invite us to join with the church in dedicating their new Project Moses monument.

A couple of ladies had prepared a selection of croissant sandwiches, coffee and cookies and we heard very encouraging reports about the impact of both the pro-life witness and the new monument from Pastor Moore and Project Moses' Omaha director, Joe Worthing. The group then was led in prayers by Pastor Moore, Fr. Michael Voithofer from St. Robert Bellarmine Church, and myself. And then we enjoyed time visiting, having lunch and appreciating the monument.

Claire took a couple of photos for me to use with this post but since she only had one of our cheap phones to use as a camera  ;)  I'll add a prose description too.

The monument has been placed on the southeast corner of the church property facing 93rd Street. It displays the 10 Commandments on the north side and the Beatitudes on the south side. We think it's a terrific public witness to the immediate neighborhood and to the street traffic which is considerable during "drive time" hours. It's also an impressive reminder for the members and friends of Hope Church to make sure their Christianity is outer-directed rather than being only for church programs. Also, we pray that the monument serves as an example to other congregations who might be moved to create similar public demonstrations of their Christian faith.

Finally, let me add that the church has begun a landscape fund so that they can create an appropriate setting for the monument; perhaps even a serene place where people can pray, read their Bibles and meditate. We think that's a great idea. But, like many small congregations, the church doesn't have much in the way of resources. (The monument was paid for by an anonymous donor.) So any contributions to the landscape fund would be greatly appreciated. Donations should be designated as such and sent along to Hope EFC, 9313 Binney St., Omaha, NE 68134.

A Love Affair for the Ages

Have No Doubts, "America-Lite" Is Heavy Stuff.

Despite several tasks to be completed this week (blogging, correspondence, luncheon meetings, some individual visits to seniors, praying at the abortion clinic, dentist appointments, lawn work, and three “When Swing Was King” presentations), Claire and I also have to finish reading The Chequer Board by Nevil Shute for our book club’s discussion party Saturday night.

But, on top of all this, I’ve found myself doing some other reading too.  A couple of the books (The Island of Dr. Moreau by H.G. Wells and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne) Claire downloaded free on her Kindle for me.  I’m reading them in preparation for a lecture ("Frankenstein's Notebooks: The Mad Scientist in Literature") which I’m giving at the Providential History Festival coming up on September 14 and 15. 

But there's another book I'm afraid I couldn't help but get into this week and it's one of the most insightful and stimulating books I’ve come across in a long time -- David Gelernter’s America-Lite. It is a pretty short thing (182 pages) but it is a deeply profound look at the cultural collapse of America. However, not only do I highly recommend it but I plan on dropping in excerpts here at Vital Signs Blog over the next several days until you’re convinced you need to read it too!

Here’s the first in that series of excerpts…

* “In the 1950s, the proportion of American children born to unmarried mothers was stable at 5 percent.  During the ‘60’s it started moving upward, and by 1975, when E. B. White spoke for a nation in anguish, it had reached 10 percent.  And it kept rising: to 30 percent in 1995 and 41 percent today.  (The 41 percent includes 73 percent of non-Hispanic black children, 53 Hispanic and 29 percent of non-Hispanic whites.)  This is bad news for American children, as we have known for decades.”

* “While the count of illegitimate babies was rising like an apparition out of the desert, the eminent sociologist James Q. Wilson wrote in 1995, ‘There is no more radical cultural division in all of history than that between the attachment ordinary people have for the family and the hostility intellectuals display towards it.’"

* "Many people suppose that intellectuals (as Auden wrote of poets) make nothing happen.  But what if they do make things happen?  Where would  that put us?  Up a creek is the right answer.  Patriotism has been beaten bloody and the family is on the ropes.  It has been a great epoch for American intellectuals.”

Movie, Anyone? Anti-Obama Documentary Making Big Waves.

An anti-Obama documentary based on conservative author Dinesh D’Souza’s book The Roots of Obama’s Rage will expand nationwide this weekend after doing notable business in select markets across the country -- including in liberally minded New York City.

Overall, 2016: Obama's America grossed an impressive $1.2 million last weekend as it upped its theater count from 61 to 169 for a total gross of $2 million, the second-best showing of the year for a documentary after Bully ($3.2 million). That doesn't include nature documentaries Chimpanzee ($29 million) and To the Arctic ($7.6 million).

It's already the No. 12 political documentary of all time -- a market that Michael Moore has cornered -- as well as the No. 2 conservative documentary after Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed ($7.7 million).

On Friday, 2016: Obama's America, co-directed by D'Souza and John Sullivan, will be playing in 1,075 theaters in an aggressive expansion that comes on the eve of the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., which gets underway Aug. 27…

(Pamela McClintock, "Box Office Report: Anti-Obama Doc Drawing Big Crowds, Even in New York City," The Hollywood Reporter.)

By the way, "2016: Obama's America" will be coming to Omaha this Friday (August 24th) at AMC Oak View 24 and Westroads 14. Claire and I are going. Wanna' make it a party?

1/2 Million Dollars of "Stimulus" Money Went to Maddow/Olbermann Commercials: Zero Jobs Created

The Labor Department paid out hundreds of thousands of dollars in federal stimulus funds to a public relations firm to run more than 100 commercials touting the Obama administration’s “green training” job efforts on two MSNBC cable shows, records show.

The commercials ran on MSNBC on shows hosted by Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann in 2009, but the contract didn’t report any jobs created, according to records reviewed recently by The Washington Times.

Spending reports under the federal Recovery Act show $495,000 paid to McNeely Pigott & Fox Public Relations LLC, which the Labor Department hired to raise awareness “among employers and influencers about the [Job Corps] program’s existing and new training initiatives in high growth and environmentally friendly career areas” as well as spreading the word to prospective Job Corps enrollees.

The firm ultimately negotiated ad buys for “two approved spots” airing 14 times per week for two months on “Countdown With Keith Olbermann” and “The Rachel Maddow Show,” according to a project report, which listed the number zero under a section of the report asking how many jobs had been created through the stimulus contract.

David Williams, president of the nonprofit watchdog Taxpayers Protection Alliance, called the contract “questionable” because it created no jobs and because of the placement of the ads on shows viewed as friendly to the administration’s policies.

“Hiring a PR firm does not create jobs, and this was obviously meant for selling a particular political agenda,” Mr. Williams said. “The placement really reeks of a political ad rather than a job ad, and taxpayers see through this. Taxpayers would be a lot happier at the end of the day to see a completed road rather than a bunch of ads on cable television.”

(Jim McElhatton in the Washington Times.)

Former TSA Boss: Airline Security Is a Bust

More than a decade after 9/11, it is a national embarrassment that our airport security system remains so hopelessly bureaucratic and disconnected from the people whom it is meant to protect. Preventing terrorist attacks on air travel demands flexibility and the constant reassessment of threats. It also demands strong public support, which the current system has plainly failed to achieve.

The crux of the problem, as I learned in my years at the helm, is our wrongheaded approach to risk. In attempting to eliminate all risk from flying, we have made air travel an unending nightmare for U.S. passengers and visitors from overseas, while at the same time creating a security system that is brittle where it needs to be supple.

By the time of my arrival, the agency was focused almost entirely on finding prohibited items. Constant positive reinforcement on finding items like lighters had turned our checkpoint operations into an Easter-egg hunt. When we ran a test, putting dummy bomb components near lighters in bags at checkpoints, officers caught the lighters, not the bomb parts...

"Why Airport Security Is Broken—And How To Fix It" (written by the former head of the Transportation Security Administration, Kip Hawley, and published in the Wall Street Journal last April) is a remarkably honest, enlightening and provocative article. Check it out.