Friday, March 22, 2013

Today's Posts

Denny, What's Happening On Your Other Blog?

Do you mean The Book Den? That "other blog" that deals more particularly with literature, music, and, on rare occasions, even old films?

Well, since you asked, here's the latest group of posts over there:

Deep Winter Reading: World War II, Alistair MacLean, Perry Mason... and More

Plugging the Planotones

An Upscale Flash Mob: Banco Sabadell Celebrates A Birthday

De Vere Is Shakespeare: It Just Makes Sense

Another Child Victim of Scientology Grows Up, Gets Out, and Gets Even

Prince Charmings Have a Life Too

Evangelism: A Core Activity of the Faithful Christian

Christian witness is the great dividing line between those who merely “believe” and those who truly “follow.” A non-witnessing faith is a self-centered, merely spiritual, merely cause-oriented religion. Churches are full of this light half-belief. Christians must be involved in many things: politics, the pursuit of justice, worldview formation, art, and social transformation, to name just a few. But none of these is a substitute for evangelism.

Until you open your mouth with the intention of witnessing to the claim of Jesus on the lives and destinies of your friends and coworkers, you are merely playing at Christianity...

Most of the millions who self-identify as Christian will never in their lifetime influence another contemporary to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord because most have never made witness to the Truth central to who they are.

Keeping your head down, staying out of controversy, being nice, not swearing much, avoiding the raunchiest cultural behavior, being cool, praying occasionally, and going to church once in a while (even leading a study group) are all good, but they are not what you have really been called to do...

Jack Niewold's latest blog column is not to be missed.

The Evolution of College Education: Case 147 (Sex Week at UT)

Should a public university be sponsoring a Sex Week? You know, a public university of the type that prohibits open expressions of Christianity by faculty and denies funds for Christian speakers, events or student clubs? 

And should said university use taxpayer dollars to finance this Sex Week?

Wait a sec. Before you answer these questions, make sure you understand what Sex Week is. You may remember similar shenanigans mentioned in a Vital Signs Blog post earlier this month (The Loathsome Lows of "Higher" Education), but the University of Tennessee lays out its Sex Week like this -- 30 fun and inspiring events that include “Getting Laid,” “Sex Positivity; Queer as a Verb,” “Loud and Queer,” “How Many Licks Does it Take?,” a poetry-reading lesbian bondage expert, and a campus-wide scavenger hunt for a golden condom.

Now to officials at the University of Tennessee, this is all proper education and they gave organizers $20,000 to pull it off. Well, that is, until state lawmakers started screaming. Then the university cancelled the event, made profuse apologies, fired the persons involved, and created firm policies to keep such immoral foolishness from ever happening again.

I'm kidding, of course.

What the university actually did was to insist that all of the activities planned for Sex Week were just fine and dandy. Because of the publicity, they did admit that perhaps some of them were "not an appropriate use of state tax dollars” but even those remain on the schedule.

Still, to try and soothe the ruffled feathers of an outraged state senators (not to mention parents and UT students who didn't know that their mandatory student fees would be used to fund such things), the officials are now giving Sex Week only a bit under $7,000 and encouraging them to find alternative funding for the rest.

Reactions to Sex Week? Here's a few comments from State Senator Stacey Campfield:

"We should be teaching these children what is important to learn so they can get jobs. I don’t know what jobs they plan on getting if they’re having seminars on oral sex and bondage. I don’t see how that will help someone in their professional career – unless they plan on becoming a porn star.”

“They’ve been trying to say it’s about safety and birth control. These kids are supposed to be some of the smartest kids out there – and they don’t know where to buy condoms? If they can’t figure out where to buy condoms, I question whether they need to be in college in the first place – if they’re that stupid.”

“The university always cries poor-mouth, that they don’t have any money and yet they seem to have plenty of money to do this kind of stuff. We’re going to try and hold their budget until it gets squared away.”

“They say it’s all about diversity. Well, perversity does not make diversity just because it’s at the university.”

Here's more of the story.

Hope and Change? America Under Obama Is MORE Disliked in Middle East.

The U.S is now less popular in the region than at the end of the George W. Bush administration.

President Obama's first journey to Israel as president comes amid earth-shattering change in Middle East, much of it for the worse…

That's why the White House has been lowering expectations for Obama's trip to Israel all this week. He will announce no new peace plan, grand design or major foreign policy initiative. His advisers are calling the trip a "listening tour." That is what you call a state visit when you have little to say…

Of all the strained relationships in the Middle East, the partnership with Israel is the most important and potentially the most easily repaired. Obama is not popular in the country. A poll released last week showed he had a scant 10% approval rating in Israel, with an additional 32% saying they respect but don't like him…

From the USA Today column ("Obama's Middle East policy in tatters") written by James S. Robbins, senior fellow in national security affairs at the American Foreign Policy Council.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Today's Posts

Thank You Beethoven, Thank You Banco Sabadell.

The music is, of course, Beethoven's Ninth. And the event is a commercial of sorts for the Bank of Sabadell in Sabadell, near Barcelona in Spain.

Thanks to Randy Alcorn for the link.

Prager on Portman: "Even If Your Child Is Gay"

"I'm announcing today a change of heart."

These words are well chosen. Senator Portman's position is indeed "a change of heart." That's why he didn't say "change of mind." His change comes from his heart.

In this regard, Portman speaks for virtually every progressive/left/liberal position on virtually every subject. To understand leftism -- not that the senator has become a leftist, but he has taken the left-wing position on redefining marriage -- one must understand that above all else leftism is rooted in emotion, not reason. That is why left-wing social positions always refer to compassion and fairness -- for blacks, for illegal immigrants, for poorer people and, of course, for gays. Whether a progressive position will improve or harm society is not a progressive question. That is a conservative question. What matters to progressives is whether a position emanates from compassion.

Progressives do not seem to recognize that in life there is always tension between standards and compassion. Standards, by definition, cannot allow for compassion for every individual. If society were to show compassion to every individual, it would have no standards. Speeding laws are not waived for the unfortunate soul who has to catch an important flight. Orchestral standards are not waived for the musician who has devoted his or her life to studying an instrument, is a wonderful person and needs the job to support a family.

It is either right to maintain the man-woman definition of our most important social institution, or is it not. We cannot base our decision on compassion for gays, whether the gay is our child, our sibling, our friend or anyone else...

Read the rest of Dennis Prager's column, "Even If Your Child Is Gay," right here.

Obama in Israel: "It's a Hostile Act."

Appearing on WMAL-FM in Washington D.C. Wednesday morning, Caroline Glick, Senior Contributing Editor of the Jerusalem Post said the Israeli people "can't figure out what he's doing here," when asked about the mood in Jerusalem as the President's plane touched down for the first time in his presidency. 

"Essentially his goal is to empower the un-electable, incredibly radical left in Israel to put pressure on the Israeli government for whatever concessions he wants it to make to the PLO," said Glick in evaluating the reasons why Obama will be meeting with university students and members of the Palestinian Government during his visit. 

When asked about how the installment of Chuck Hagel as the Secretary of Defense was received by the Israeli people, Glick said, "It's a hostile act." 

Thank You for Choosing Life

After a cold day that started in front of an abortion clinic, I was moved to watch again this classic song by Kenny Chesney...and to thank all the Moms and Dads who made the choice for life even when facing difficulties, fears and pressure.

In making the loving, holy choice to protect your child, you prompted the applause of heaven. Way to go.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Today's Posts

"Look Both Ways," Denny's Latest LifeSharer Letter

That night I asked Granny, “What do old men think about when they look off and don’t talk?”

“What old men?” she asked shrewdly.

“Lots of old men,” I said.  “Lots of them just sit and look off at things, the mountains or the trees.”

Her reply – a riddle it seemed to me then – stayed on in my mind.  “They think of things that will not come again.”

The lines above represent a passage in Gene Fowler’s memoir, A Solo in Tom-Toms, published in 1946.  The book is a recounting of the famed journalist’s life as a boy and young man in Colorado and I’ve deeply enjoyed reading it – both for its history of the state I love and for its enlightened, sometimes inspirational, look at human life.  An arresting example of this last point is his grandmother’s observation of the pensive character of old men.

With my 62nd birthday coming up this summer, I certainly identify with the old men described here.  Indeed, Claire could testify that I have displayed this tendency towards mental reverie for many years already.  She will, for instance, catch me looking intently (but at no object in particular) and lovingly ask, “Where are you now?”

For she understands, as Fowler’s grandma did, that old men are often seeing things which are not really there in their line of sight…but which are very much “there” in their memories.  They are thinking of things that will not come again…

However, there is another direction in which my imagination is very active – even in these reveries that Claire so often notices.  And that direction isn’t towards the past at all.  It’s towards a most glorious future.  It is in this direction that I’m gazing more and more as both my body and soul yearn for the freedom, the victory and the reconciliation which Jesus Christ will be bringing when He returns…

Read the whole essay, "Look Both Ways," posted over at the Vital Signs Ministries website.

America Is Still #1 in Health Care. But For How Long?

It outrages some that conservatives and Republicans claim that the USA’s health care system is the best in the world and that the proper goal of reform is to continue to extend our lead, not “catch up” with more “enlightened” countries that have universal, government-directed health care systems. This assertion has been vigorously challenged by individuals citing anecdotal evidence and presumably scientific studies, such as the World Health Organization’s World Health Report 2000, which served as one of the key justifications for Obamacare. The WHO study specifically ranked the USA 37th of 191 industrial nations.

Yet Sally Pipes of the Pacific Research Institute, Scott Atlas of the Hoover Institution and many others have meticulously gathered and crunched data demonstrating that, at least prior to the current administration, the best country in the world to find yourself diagnosed with cancer or in need of a knee replacement operation or MRI exam, is the USA. This holds equally true for Saudi princes as for individuals without insurance.  In fact, the ultimate irony is that patients without insurance undergoing treatment for serious conditions have better outcomes on average than those covered by Medicaid. The government-run medical program with the worst record is being aggressively expanded by force and by bribery to be the default system for the majority of Americans...

But we’re number 37?

Yes, of course we are, if your criteria for the ranking is how well we conform to a politically-correct ideal of universal, government-run health care. If such hard, scientific and uncorruptible measures as “financial fairness” and “equality” as reported by the “impressions” of WHO staff members are your guide, then the USA falls short of the glory of Eternal Truth. That turns out to be the true nature of the WHO study, as exposed by Pipes, Atlas and others.

But if you’re looking for actual outcomes, with or without insurance, sorry, America is #1.

Or has been. As Obamacare forces us into conformity with socialist ideals, our outcomes may well place us 37th or worse among industrialized nations, in which case the anecdotes alluded to earlier will become increasingly common. We have already embarked upon that path since ratification. The only question remaining is why Republican office holders seem now so eager to pre-emptively surrender what power they have remaining to stop it.

("How Dare We Claim America Is #1 in Health Care?" by Howard Hyde in Front Page Magazine.)

As If He Wasn't Heterodox Enough, Rob Bell Comes Out for Same-Sex Marriage

Remember Rob Bell, the former mega-church pastor and best-selling author whose deviations from biblical orthodoxy made him such a hep cat to "progressive" evangelicals? Well, the fellow continues to sail boldly into the seas of heresy. Here's the latest as reported by Michael Brown at Charisma.

In the midst of his announcement on Sunday that he now supports same-sex marriage, Rob Bell warned American evangelicals to “adapt or die.” His counsel, intended to be helpful, is actually a guaranteed formula for failure and a proven recipe for disaster. In fact, the only way for us to make a lasting impact on the culture and maintain a relevant witness to society is to do the opposite of what Bell advised.

Over the last few years Bell, a best-selling author and former megachurch pastor, has steadily distanced himself from the mainstream evangelical community. Known for asking provocative questions and challenging the status quo, he amassed a large following that has been drawn to his non-dogmatic approach—an approach I call a “celebration of ambiguity.”...

Somehow, young people in particular have rallied around this mindset, a mindset that has already lost its way before it even starts. Yet losing one’s way is celebrated, too: “The destination is not important,” we are told. “It’s the journey that matters!”

Personally, I would rather enjoy a terrible journey to heaven than a lovely journey to hell. Speaking of which, Bell’s 2011 New York Times best-seller Love Wins represented another departure from the evangelical mainstream. In the book, Bell suggested that, to a great extent, hell is here and now, and in the end, everybody will make it into God’s heavenly kingdom.

Last year, speaking at a church gathering in California, Bell stated his belief that you could be a practicing homosexual and a follower of Jesus at the same time, encouraging his listeners to take their focus off of gay-related issues and to look instead at the “truly big problems in our world; that I believe Jesus would [have] us to band together, and tackle together.”

In light of this, it was hardly a surprise when he announced on Sunday during a Q&A session: “I am for marriage. I am for fidelity. I am for love, whether it’s a man and woman, a woman and a woman, a man and a man. I think the ship has sailed and I think the church needs … this is the world we are living in and we need to affirm people wherever they are.”...

Bell said on Sunday, “I think we are witnessing the death of a particular subculture that doesn’t work. I think there is a very narrow, politically intertwined, culturally ghettoized, evangelical subculture that was told, ‘We’re gonna change the thing.’ and they haven’t. And they actually have turned away lots of people. And I think that when you’re in a part of a subculture that is dying, you make a lot more noise because it’s very painful. You sort of die or you adapt.”…

Remarkably, on Sunday, when the forum moderator tried to get Bell to take a firm position as to whether Christians ‘know’ the truth in some ultimate sense, Bell took the discussion in a completely different direction.

But that is the very heart of the problem. Bell’s celebration of ambiguity has become a dogmatism of uncertainty, and it is because of his lack of spiritual absolutes that he has wandered off the path, leading a generation in his wake...

FreedMen Conquest Coming to Lincoln

The Latest Outrages (Well, Some of 'Em)

 * "EU raid on Cyprus banks should ring alarm bells here." (Leo McKinstry, The Daily Express, U.K.)

Contemptuous of the nation state, obsessed with expanding its power, the European Union is a vast engine of destruction. In its relentless drive towards political integration, it has ruined our democracy, independence, justice system and borders.

The damage inflicted by the EU on the economies of Europe has been just as great. Brussels promised that the creation of the single currency would usher in a new age of prosperity.

Instead the euro has created a never-ending nightmare.

As dole queues lengthen and living standards fall, debts continue to spiral out of control.

The Eurocrats’ policy of repeated bailouts has only made the problem worse, dragging the whole Eurozone even further towards bankruptcy.

Every member state in the EU is paying a terrible price for this catastrophe. But now, in a dramatic new twist to this doom-laden saga, people living on Cyprus have been told of the arbitrary financial punishment they will suffer as a direct result of the EU’s mismanagement…

* "Department of Ed creates new six-figure job, while wielding sequester ax." (Fox News story)

The Department of Education’s sequester cuts are taking a brutal toll on federally-funded schools on Native American reservations, but the federal agency still found money to create a new six-figure job promoting “Educational Excellence for African-Americans.”

School officials on reservations across Minnesota have begun making painful cuts to the current budget in anticipation of sequester cuts, adding students to classrooms, slashing course offerings and leaving vacant jobs unfilled, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. At least one reservation is considering shortening the school year to save money...

But in Washington, education funding cuts did not stop the appointment this month of a former elementary school teacher and aide to Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y. to the job of executive director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African-Americans. David Johns was given the newly created job, where he will be “asked to identify evidence-based best practices to improve African-American student achievement from cradle to career,” according to the Department of Education...

* "ACLU’s Full-Throated Embrace of Gender-Selective Abortion and the Elimination of Down Syndrome Babies" (Gerard M. Nadal's blog)

* "TSA agents 'humiliated' wounded Marine with aggressive inspection." (Washington Times story)

Transportation Security Administration inspectors forced a wounded Marine who lost both of his legs in an IED blast and who was in a wheelchair to remove his prosthetic legs at one point, and at another point to stand painfully on his legs while his wheelchair was examined, according to a complaint a congressman has registered with the TSA.

Rep. Duncan Hunter said in his letter Monday that the Marine, who is still on active duty and showed TSA agents his military identification, was still forced to undergo that scrutiny.

“A TSA office asked the Marine to stand and walk to an alternate area, despite the fact that he physically could not stand or walk on his own. With numerous TSA officers sitting and unwilling to assist, an officer then made him remove his legs, then put them back on, only to advance to a secondary screening location where he was asked again to stand, with extraordinary difficult, while his wheelchair was examined for explosives,” Mr. Hunter said.

He also said TSA officers initially directed the Marine to the wrong line, then made him move lines but made no effort to help him. The incident occurred at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor airport last week, as a group of Marines was returning to San Diego...

* "The Talented Mr. Perez: How Obama's Labor nominee muscled a city to drop a Supreme Court case." (Wall Street Journal)

* "Sen. Graham claims Benghazi survivors 'told to be quiet' by administration." (Fox News story)

* "The Cyprus Cash Grab - Coming to America?" (Neal Boortz)

You were shocked - SHOCKED, you say - at the very idea that the government of Cyprus would order banks to seize 10% of every bank account and hand the money over the government? Well … excuse me for being rude, but maybe if you had been spending a better part of the last 20 years paying attention to the atrocities that happen with nauseating regularity in Washington, instead of going into an annual swoon over March Madness and/or the Oscars, or blindly tuning in to Entertainment Tonight every evening rather than an actual newscast, you might have seen this money grab coming. I’m no rocket surgeon, and I saw it coming (in America, not Cyprus) and I been warning the listeners to my talk show from 1993 right up until my retirement two months ago.

It’s simple. Taxing your income is simply not enough. The left is coming after your wealth. They’ll be satisfied with some of your retirement funds … for now.

If you haven’t been paying attention to the Cyprus story, here’s your short version: Cyprus is in financial trouble. The Cypriot government is led by communists. Trade unions are fighting austerity programs needed to erase huge deficits. Sound familiar? That is similar to the situation in the United States in more ways that you might imagine. So Cyprus did what every other troubled Eurozone country is doing: went to the Eurozone finance commissioners for a bailout. The commissioners said fine, but as a condition of the bailout Cyprus must levy a 10% tax against the outstanding balance in all depository accounts in Cyprus banks. Call it a tax. Or call it stealing. Either way, every Cypriot depositor loses 10% of their account. The government screws up, the people pay. Again, it sounds so very familiar…

...The idea is alive. House and Senate Democrats are even now toying with various plots to seize retirement and pension plans and pour them into some grand new government operated and controlled pension system .. a system that would be “fair” to everyone. This is just a perfect scenario for Obamian class warfare. “Those rich people are enjoying their fat-cat retirements with the money that should have been used to pay workers a living wage. They steal a comfortable retirement from the middle class and laugh at them from their yachts and private jets.” Yeah … that works. And as you should know, the government would certainly do a better job providing for American’s retirements than could free people interacting in a system of economic liberty.

Cyprus? I hope you enjoy that spectacle as it unfolds. Shake your heads and tsk tsk all you like. Just remember … the Democrat party is watching this episode and celebrating. You’re next.

Wednesday Tea Break (Spannin' the 60s)

First from 1961, Ricky Nelson's Travelin' Man:

Next up, from the middle of the decade (1965), is Smokey Robinson and the Miracles' terrific song of unrequited love, The Tracks Of My Tears.

And to close out the 1960s, here's a fun and tuneful hit from Junior Walker and the All Stars, What Does It Take? 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Today's Posts

It Ain't All About Ducks

Obama: "Mistakes Were Made" (And How!)

Team Obama: Putting the Con in the Contraception Mandate

My Hero! Lance Armstrong Wants a Pass Like Bill Clinton Got.

Remembering Expelled

Standing for Religious Freedom, Standing Against ObamaCare

Heartily Recommended Reads

"When Swing Was King" -- "That WAS Fun!"

It Ain't All About Ducks

Phil Robertson, the down-home genius who made duck calls into a big (and now highly-celebrated) business, once heard a higher call.

Give a listen.

Obama: "Mistakes Were Made" (And How!)

The president is stuck in a congressional quagmire and no amount of “outside pressure” will get him out. Spring is about to begin. The first 100 days of his second term will end in a little more than a month. Before long baseball will resume, and then the NFL season will begin, and Congress will turn its compound eye to 2014. The president will be a lame duck.

And what will he have to show for it? Guns, immigration, budgets, climate change, and the minimum wage are all tied up on Capitol Hill. No one knows when, or if, they will emerge. Or what they might end up looking like.

Meanwhile, Obama’s approval rating is falling. He has been relegated to visiting the hill, and “reaching out” to select Republican mealtime companions, in an effort to stay relevant. But his activities seem curiously out of place. They demonstrate that the real action at the moment is not in the Oval Office. Even in the drama over the budget, where Obama could play a major role, he seems desultory and content to let Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Patty Murray have the stage…

What happened?...

Matthew Continetti answers his own question (and quite well) in the rest of his Washington Free Beacon article, ""The Obama Quagmire." Check it out right here.

Team Obama: Putting the Con in the Contraception Mandate

My Hero! Lance Armstrong Wants a Pass Like Bill Clinton Got.

Disgraced Lance Armstrong said in an interview that the public will soon forget about him being the biggest dope cheat in cycling’s history, just like they did former president Bill Clinton for his affair with an intern…

“Ultimately, people forgive and forget and remember the good stuff you did,” he said. “Is it hard to do? Yeah. But Clinton did it — he loves to work, he loves people, he loves to hustle. He’s a hero of mine. He’s a tough guy, he’s smart, surrounded himself with good people. And ten years later, he’s president of the world.”

(Jessica Chasmar, Washington Times story)

Remembering Expelled

Did you ever see Expelled? If so, have you watched it again lately?

You should. For even though the powers that be have staged a full scale assault on the movie, an honest, common-sense appraisal of the film's content yields dramatic new understanding of science, of Darwinian evolution, of the theories of intelligent design, and the ruthless nature of political-correctness.

To stimulate your interest (again), here is the opening sequence.

Order Expelled right here.

Standing for Religious Freedom, Standing Against ObamaCare

Thomas Beckwith’s ancestors, enduring the hardships of a storm tossed ocean voyage, landed on American shores in 1626 to escape religious persecution from England.  

One hundred and fifty years later, one of his ancestors, as a member of the Connecticut militia, fought against the tyrannical British king in the Revolutionary War.  

Today, Thomas Beckwith, a devout Southern Baptist, and his family-owned  Beckwith Electric Company, Inc, filed a federal lawsuit challenging a new form of tyranny and religious persecution—the HHS Mandate...

Read more here.

Heartily Recommended Reads

* Hobby Lobby May Close

* Brent Bozell lists just a few questions that journalists would be asking Barack Obama -- if they had any journalistic integrity, that is.

* Ben Shapiro, Editor-At-Large of Breitbart News, has here a review of Ted Cruz's scintillating speech at the Weyrich Awards Dinner.

* "GOP Must Launch Reality Offensive" by David Limbaugh

* The election of Pope Francis provided pro-life leaders with a lot to be excited about.

* Boris Dittrich, the homosexual activist called the “father” of the political movement in favor of Dutch gay “marriage”, has admitted that group marriages of three or more people, is the next, inevitable logical step in the dismantling of the western world’s traditional marriage laws. (Read more here.)

* "After four long years, the Senate Democrats finally produced a budget this afternoon. They put it off as long as possible, but finally had to make the document public. What is striking about the budget is that it contains absolutely nothing that is new. It calls for more spending, higher taxes, more debt. It never comes close to balancing. It reforms nothing and changes nothing. It simply demands more money from the taxpayers, and spends all that and more. The Democrats are like a Neanderthal man found frozen in ice: unchanging, immobile, out of date and -- intellectually, at least -- dead." (Read the rest of  John Hinderaker's Power Line article here.)

* Proposed Dem Budget Increases Spending 62% Over Next Decade

* "The Obama administration is drawing up plans to give all U.S. spy agencies full access to a massive database that contains financial data on American citizens and others who bank in the country, according to a Treasury Department document seen by Reuters."

* "Trouble in the Nanny State," Ann Coulter's latest column.

* "Planned Parenthood threatens to sue former employee for mailing a pro-life leaflet."

* Wisconsin’s VISTA Program Encourages Volunteers to Overcome White 'Privilege’ 

* "The wife of an American pastor held captive in an Iranian prison for nearly a year said she has yet to hear from President Obama or Secretary of State John Kerry and to her knowledge the administration has not done anything to help free her husband." (Read more in this Fox News report.)

"When Swing Was King" -- "That WAS Fun!"

One of the "When Swing Was King" presentations this week was held at a facility which specializes in caring for persons affected by Alzheimer's and other memory impairments. We had a pretty full room (maybe 25 in the audience) and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves quite a bit. Some sang along; others hummed; most moved various body parts to the music (!). One lady, bless her heart, enjoys reading out loud (and I do mean out loud) every word when they appear on the screen. She obviously gets a kick out of it and, this is such a sweet and amiable group of people, everybody else seems to have fun with it too.

Also that night we were again treated to a delightful dancing performance featuring E_____ and a new partner. They danced to 3 of our 12 tunes and were in surprisingly fine form. You could easily tell that both of them had been serious "high steppers" back in the day -- and they still have a few of those steps left.  It is, of course, a bittersweet mystery how certain brain patterns remain intact even though others deteriorate so. For instance, neither one of these people can remember things or communicate verbally very much. But they can sure dance. And, in so doing, they not only had fun themselves, they thoroughly entertained the rest of us.

After the show, one of the residents felt compelled to help the lady sitting next to her find her way back to her room. But the would-be helper couldn't push the other lady's wheelchair because she needed a walker herself. So I offered to take over.

As I bent down and unlocked the brakes on the wheelchair, I decided to try and talk to the tiny woman even though I had been told she was unresponsive. However, she had a beautiful smile on her face and she certainly seemed to be watching me intently. "Do you mind if I'm the one to escort you home?," I asked. She answered, "Oh, thank you." Then I asked, "Did you enjoy taking that train trip on that last song we played?" (It had been Johnny Mercer and the Pied Pipers doing "The Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe.") Her smile broadened yet further. "That WAS fun! Thank you so much!"

It was a simple enough response, but it's another one of those that we will long treasure. In part, because it accurately reflects the attitude Claire and I have whenever we complete a "When Swing Was King" showing: that is, we enjoy ourselves immensely and we are so grateful to the audiences, to the activities directors and other facility staff, to the Vital Signs Board members who have encouraged us to develop this addition to our other ministries, and to God for blessing us with the ideas, resources and opportunities that make up our "When Swing Was King" outreach.

So yes, we too can say after every show, "That WAS fun! Thank you so much!"

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Today's Posts

She Voted 6 Times...But It's Okay. She Voted Democrat.

Here's modern Democrat politics.

Law, fairness, honesty -- none of these things matter much. Not as long as you're heart is in the right place; that is, if you're working to build up even further the power of the Caring, Comprehensive Nanny State as constructed by such supermen as Barack Obama.

Thus, Melowese Richardson doesn't deny that she voted twice in the presidential election last November. But apparently she did it because Obama deserves faithful, enthusiastic followers like her.  So yes, she voted twice but there "was no intent on my part to commit any voter fraud."

Ignorance is an intriguingly bold defense in this case. Ask any second-grade kid about fairness in an election and she'll explain the one-person, one-vote principle. But Melowese Richardson isn't a second-grade kid. She's 58 years old and a veteran poll worker!

And then there's this -- it turns out that Richardson didn't just cast one extra vote. She voted at least 6 times! And she's done it in other elections too!

But again, it ain't wrong because it was all done in good faith and for a superior cause. Said Richardson after being confronted with the charges of vote fraud, "I'll fight it for Mr. Obama and Mr. Obama's right to sit as president of the United States."


Here's more from Fox News.

P.S. It's more than interesting to note that although the evidence is overwhelming that voter fraud is a major problem...and that almost all of it in the modern era involves Democrat voters and organizations trying to stuff the ballot boxes of Democrat candidates, an internet search of the topic (words and images) is dominated by denials, mockery and wildly inaccurate conspiracy stories about George Bush and Florida.

Facts just don't mean much in modern journalism...or politics...or internet search engines.

It Ain't Your Grandpa's Bronze Star

The U.S. Air Force has been criticized before for awarding Bronze Stars too generously.  You may remember the flap during the Clinton administration when the Air Force gave 185 Bronze Star Medals connected with military operations in Kosovo in 1999. This raised some eyebrows since the Navy gave out only 69 and the Army gave out none. (The Army's troops were across the border in Albania but they were considered being in the combat zone.)

Furthermore, it turned out that 160 of the 185 Air Force Bronze Stars were given to officers and, what really infuriated many, only a small fraction of the medal winners had actually been in the combat zone. Five of them were given to officers who never left Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri.

Then last year, the Air Force went public with the story of how two women (female finance staff from medical units in Afghanistan who were awarded the medals for meritorious non-combat service) had allegedly been "cyber-bullied" from those who believed the women didn't deserve them. The resulting debate caused the Air Force to pull back…a little. But they still maintained that meritorious service awards of the Bronze Star would outnumber valor awards.

Which brings us to Air National Guard Chaplain Lieutenant Colonel Jon Trainer who has recently been awarded the Bronze Star for creating a Muslim-friendly Power Point presentation. No kidding.

From a Dayton Daily News story which is printed under the headline, "Local Chaplain Played Vital Role in War," we learn that:

After the accidental burning last year of Qurans by U.S. troops in Afghanistan sparked deadly rioting, an Air National Guard chaplain from Springfield stepped in and potentially saved countless American lives.

For his effort, Lt. Col. Jon Trainer received the prestigious Bronze Star — a medal given for heroic or meritorious achievement in connection with operations against an armed enemy.

And he did it with a PowerPoint presentation.

Trainer, who’s now in the running to be named Chaplain of the Year for the entire Air Guard, was in the third month of his voluntary deployment to Afghanistan last February when U.S. troops at Bagram Airfield mistakenly burned copies of the Muslim holy book.

The ensuing outrage claimed more than 30 lives, including two U.S. troops and two U.S. military advisers.

Within 48 hours, Trainer developed a PowerPoint presentation on the proper handling and disposal of Islamic religious material that was seen by every American — military and civilian alike — in Afghanistan. The presentation then was distributed to the U.S. for use in all pre-deployment training...

Trainer, a Westerville resident and nondenominational Christian pastor who’s been chaplain of the local 251st Cyber Engineering Installation Group since 2000, also sought to prevent any future problems by covering what constitutes Islamic religious material in the first place.

“When a Muslim writes down even a few verses from the Quran on a piece of paper,” he explained, “that immediately gets that same protected status.”

Ultimately, he said, it became an opportunity to demonstrate the importance of culture to U.S. troops and to show Afghanis that the U.S. could respond swiftly to their sensitivities...

A "vital role in war?" A Bronze Star? I can't help but wonder what Audie Murphy (another Bronze Medal winner) would think.

Help Protect the Rights of Conscience from the Tyranny of ObamaCare

Last week, a selection of those who have already suffered religious discrimination got together at Congress to urge lawmakers to protect the noble, invaluable, and thoroughly Constitutional right of conscience from the aggressive menace of ObamaCare. They asked Congress for quick passage of H.R. 940, the Health Care Conscience Rights Act.

Listen to their stories and then write or call your Congressman asking them to co-sponsor and work for H.R. 940. Also, pass the word along to friends and family, fellow church members, Facebook and other social media, and ask them to do the same.

Questions I Just Hate to Ask

* Questions about the sequester "crisis."

If the sequester is crippling the U.S, government as Barack Obama claims (you know, babies going without medicine, criminals being let out on the streets, police and firemen being laid off, and so on), then where is the money coming to pay for the 2,596 new jobs the federal government is advertising for since the sequester began? Or how about the dozens of senior White House employees and other presidential assistants who are still raking in six-figure salaries from taxpayers? And don't forget the 1.6 billion rounds of ammo (that's right, 1.6 billion) purchased by Homeland Security.

And, as Kim Stassel stressed in an article linked to in a previous Vital Signs post, there's the three White House calligraphers ($277,000 a year); the EPA's $141,000 award to Communist China to study swine manure; $500,000 to support specialty shampoo products for cats and dogs;  $27 million for a project that helped fund pottery classes in Morocco; fancy shindig conferences for federal officials ($340 million last year); and so forth. "But Mr. Obama is too broke to let American kids look around the White House."

* Questions about ObamaCare.

Wanna' see what ObamaCare looks like? Senate Minority Leader has offered up a striking visual on his website. This stack is the Obamacare regulations which have been published in the Federal Register through last week. That's more than a 7-foot high pile representing 20,000 pages -- and it doesn't have the 828 pages added just last Friday.

That's right. The stack of ObamaCare regulations is like your Great Dane puppy. It just grows bigger and bigger everyday.

* Questions about the over-the-top antagonism of the mainstream press to Christianity.

From Rod Dreher, "WaPo: Christianity Creates Killers" in the American Conservative:

Today the Washington Post brought in Rabbi Bradley Hirschfield for an online chat on the topic of, “What role does Christianity play in the murder of the openly gay mayoral candidate in Mississippi?”

Notice that the Post didn’t even ask if Christianity did play a role in the killing — which would have been weird enough. No, for the Post, that question was settled; the only one worth asking is the nature of the role.

Were you aware that there was a Christian angle to the shocking murder? No? Because guess what: there isn’t. The Washington Post is making it up...

On March 2, the Jackson (MS) Clarion-Ledger reported that people close to the dead man, Marco McMillian, and the accused murderer, Lawrence Reed, say the two were friends, possibly lovers, and had a fight…Friends of McMillian, however, say the two men were romantically involved and quarreled immediately before the slaying. “They were having an affair,” said 18-year-old Carlos Jones. “They got to tussling.”

There is no evidence — none — that Christianity had anything to do with this hideous killing, which, whether it was “gay panic” or a lover’s quarrel gone badly wrong, was apparently a crime of passion. But that wasn’t good enough for the Washington Post, which fanned the flames of anti-religious bigotry by desperately searching for a faith angle...

When a Jewish person is arrested for killing someone, will the Post invite Father F.X. O’Finnerty in to discuss the role Judaism played in the killing? Even in the absence of any evidence to suggest that the murder suspect practiced Judaism, or that Jewish teaching had a thing to do with the killing? Because if they did such a thing, it would be blatantly, disgustingly anti-Semitic. It would also be an act of grotesque civic irresponsibility so vile and provocative you’d have to wonder what the newspaper’s ultimate goal was.

Do not doubt that the Washington Post knows exactly what its doing. And it’s proud of it. There will be a lot more of this kind of thing. We live in interesting times.

* Questions about Thomas Perez

Does Barack Obama have the anti-American gall to nominate the radical Thomas Perez to be his next Secretary of Labor? (Of course he does.) Therefore, the more practical question becomes: will Republican Senators dare to vote against him?

Read more here. "Obama to Nominate Sharia Supporter, Illegal Immigrant Advocate as Labor Secretary" by Matthew Vadum at American Thinker.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Today's Posts

86-Year Old Sniper Takes the Shot of a Lifetime

This video clip is just too cool.

Be moved and inspired by then 86-year old Ted Gundy (a WW II sniper) as he is awarded the coveted "black hat" from current members of the U. S. Army Marksmanship Unit. And then watch Gundy's performance as he himself gets on the firing line -- first shooting at a target 100 yards away using a replica of his WW II rifle and then going after an "impossible dream" shot.

And did I already mention that this video clip is just too cool?

(This clip was originally broadcast on an episode of Shooting USA which aired on the Outdoor Channel back in February 2010. Here's a bit more .)

Shutting Down the White House: Obama's Biggest Blunder?

The phrase "jumping the shark" describes that gimmicky moment when something once considered significant is exposed as ludicrous. This is the week the White House jumped the sequester.

The precise moment came Tuesday, when the administration announced that it was canceling public tours of the White House, blaming budget cuts. The Sequesterer in Chief has insisted that cutting even $44 billion from this fiscal year will cause agonizing pain—airport security snarls, uninspected meat, uneducated children. Since none of those things has come to pass, the White House decided it needed an immediate and high-profile way of making its point. Ergo, it would deny the nation's school kids a chance to view a symbol of America.

The act was designed to spark outrage against Republicans, yet the sheer pettiness of it instead provided a moment of clarity. Americans might not understand the technicalities of sequester, but this was something else entirely. Was the president actually claiming there was not a single other government item—not one—that could be cut instead of the White House tours? Really?

The cancellations were an open invitation for the nation to dive into the gory depths of the federal budget—and re-emerge with a debate over waste and priorities. Over the past week, an entire cottage industry has sprung up of journalists, watchdog groups and average citizens reporting on the absurdities of federal spending. Republicans have lit up Twitter with examples of indefensible projects (#SequesterThis).

We've learned that the White House employs three calligraphers, who cumulatively earn $277,000 a year. The Environmental Protection Agency gave $141,000 to fund a Chinese study on swine manure. Part of a $325,000 National Science Foundation outlay went to building a robotic squirrel.

The government gave a $3,700 grant to build a miniature street in West Virginia—out of Legos. It shelled out $500,000 to support specialty shampoo products for cats and dogs. A San Diego outfit got $10,000 for trolley dancing. The feds last year held 894 conferences that each cost more than $100,000—$340 million altogether. But Mr. Obama is too broke to let American kids look around the White House.

Speaking of that, the tour stunt itself is turning into a PR fiasco. ABC reports the cancellations save a total of $18,000 a week. A Forbes opinion piece noted the cost of cutting the tours was equal to about two hours operating Air Force One. Speaker John Boehner twisted the knife, announcing that while Congress was also getting hit by sequester, it had planned wisely, and tours of the Capitol would continue. Come on down folks! Visit the government branch that knows how to prioritize!

To top it off, a group of cherubic sixth-graders from St. Paul's Lutheran School in Waverly, Iowa, became a national sensation in a YouTube video pleading with the White House to reopen tours. "The White House is our house. Please let us visit," they beg in unison. The White House hasn't yet responded, no doubt being too busy overseeing its $27 million project that helped fund pottery classes in Morocco. (No joke.)…

Oh, my. Kim Strassel is spot on in this superb Wall Street Journal article. Clear and relevant facts. Enlightening applications. And deft writing that brings in the irony, the humor and the outlandish hypocrisy inherent in the sequester soap opera. Read the rest here.

Margaret Sanger Said What?

Yes, you know that Margaret Sanger is a hero not only to Planned Parenthood, the mega abortion corporation which embraces her as its founder, but to progressive feminists in all walks of…uh, life.

But do you really know much about her? Like her own bizarre lifestyle? Her intimate connections with the eugenics movement? Her racism, elitism and anti-Semitism?

And are you aware that she actually said (or wrote) the following?

* "The most merciful thing that the large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it." (From Woman and the New Race, Chapter 6: “The Wickedness of Creating Large Families.”)

* "[We should] apply a stern and rigid policy of sterilization and segregation to that grade of population whose progeny is tainted, or whose inheritance is such that objectionable traits may be transmitted to offspring." ("Plan for Peace” from her journal, Birth Control Review. April 1932, pp. 107-108)

* "We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities.  The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members." (A personal letter to Dr. Clarence Gamble, December 19, 1939.)

Here's more from Lauren Enriquez over at Live Action.

9 Companies with the Worst Customer Service

24/7 Wall St. has completed a survey which reveals "the nine retailers with the worst customer service." And among the list were several companies that Claire and I had given up on long ago.

What about you?

Below are the companies that scored on the very bottom of the customer service survey...along with some personal notes.

9: Walgreens. Claire was once a frequent customer at this chain until Walgreens got into the sex paraphernalia business. We haven't darkened their door since. By the way, here's more about that: Is Your Drug Store Selling Sex Toys?)

8-6: TJX Companies (which owns discount retail stores T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods); The Gap; and Supervalu. I have no comment about these. We've never shopped at these stores.

5: Sears. This is another store chain at which we deliberately avoid shopping. We had always found Sears stores to be dreary and so we almost never went in them. But it wasn't until billionaire Warren Buffett (a lavish supporter of radical population control) bought into the company that we made it a moral point to avoid them.

4: CVS Caremark. This another drug store we refuse to shop at. And it's for the same reason as our boycott of Walgreens. (See above.)

3: Safeway. The only time we shop at Safeway is when we're in Colorado but we've never experienced poor customer service -- not that we remember.

2: Netflix. "Regular" TV is a wasteland and, for the most part, so is the array of programs available from cable or a satellite companies. That's why we do not subscribe to these services. But in order to watch old movies and TV series, we did have a $9 a month deal with Netflix. But as the programs offered there became more inane and immoral…and as the customer service became worse, it made for an easy choice for us to drop Netflix altogether.

1. Walmart. It has been many years since either Claire or I have been inside a Walmart store. And I cannot see any possible reason why it won't be many years before we do.

O Tempora, O Mores! (The Latest Round)

The post-modern cosmos is, most assuredly, a wacky and wicked nightmare. Here's just a few items from recent headlines to prove the point.

* "Protesters burn Christian homes in Pakistan" (AFP International News headline.)

* "New wave of 'superbugs' poses dire threat, says chief medical officer: Warning over rising death toll as antibiotics fail to tackle rising incidence of 'gram negative' bacterial diseases." (The Independent headline.)

* "China Says It Won’t Forsake North Korea, Despite Support for U.N. Sanctions" (NY Times headline.)

* "Obama staying out of negotiations on gun bills" (AP headline) Hasn't he always stayed out of negotiations? On everything? All this fellow can do is campaign -- and even that involves nothing buts lies, omissions and blame.

* Jesse Jackson will be among the mourners at brutal dictator Hugo Chavez' funeral.  "Rev. Jackson told Fox News he knew the Venezuelan president 'in a direct and personal way' and says he is 'deeply saddened by his passing.' Chavez presented Jackson with the Liberator's Award in 2005." (Other Democrat politicians attending will be Congressman Gregory Meeks from New York and former Congressman William Delahunt from Massachusetts.)

* "Pro-life student threatened with expulsion at DePaul for revealing students who trashed display."

TSA Agent Disses His Own

A former TSA agent blows the whistle in this New York Post article. And the tune isn't pretty.

Did you know you don’t need a high-school diploma or GED to work as a security screener? These are the same screeners that TSA chief John Pistole and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano refer to as a first-class first line of defense in the war on terror.

These are the employees who could never keep a job in the private sector. I wouldn’t trust them to walk my dog...

 Most TSA screeners know their job is a complete joke. Their goal is to use this as a stepping stone to another government agency.

We work in a culture where common sense has no place. All but a very few TSA personnel know they’re employed by a bottom-of-the-barrel agency...

Every time you read about a TSA horror story, it’s usually about a screener doing what he or she is instructed to do…

Goofing off and half-hour-long bathroom breaks are the only way to break up the monotony. There is also a lot of ogling of female passengers by the male screeners. So, ladies, cover up when you get to the airport. These guys are checking you out constantly.

A small number of screeners are delusional zealots who believe they’re keeping America safe by taking your snow globe, your 2-inch pocket knife, your 4-ounce bottle of shampoo and performing invasive pat-downs on your kids…

The rest are only there for the paycheck and generous benefits. Screeners start at $15 per hour, and there is tons of overtime — mainly because they are filling in for the many screeners who don’t bother coming to work. For every 40 hours you work, you receive four hours of vacation and four hours of sick time...

Anyone boarding an aircraft should feel maybe only a teeny tiny bit safer than if there were no TSA at all.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Today's Posts

Yipes! Behind the Scenes of a Michelle Obama's "For the Kids" Event.

Among today's must-reads is John Hayward's "Michelle Obama’s Public School Disaster," a Human Events article which reviews a recent Let's Move! event; you know, the anti-obesity program that will undoubtedly win Michelle Obama her own Nobel Prize.

Yet however wonderful and fun this particular event was for the press and the First Lady, it was hellish for the kids and teachers. Read on.

In a bit of grim irony, the implementation of this program has been a teachable moment in Big Government stasis and ruling-class arrogance…

“This event was clearly not about the children, because their needs were not put first,” Putnam concludes, wandering so far off the political reservation that she runs the risk of encountering Bob Woodward in the wild.  ”Politics and big business before children; was this event an eerie foreshadowing of what is to come for education in Chicago?”

I’m tempted to conclude with a simple “yes,” or perhaps a saucy Bruce Willis quote: “Welcome to the party, pal.”  But really, this sort of thing is entirely typical of Big Government bureaucracy, and it really should be presented to children and adults alike as a teachable moment.  The further authority is removed from the people who suffer beneath it, the more likely that common sense will be abandoned, and people will find themselves treated like rats in a maze.  (No one involved in planning this disaster realized what the interminable waiting and deprivation inflicted on the young participants would do to them?  Really?)  If Ms. Putnam and her associates were given a modest budget and tasked with designing a weekend program to get their students excited about exercise and proper diet, they almost certainly would have come up with something far more fun and productive than this Kafkaesque nightmare.

Come to think of it, is it too early to introduce these kids to Kafka, Orwell, and Huxley?  That would be a way to build off this experience and prepare them for life under ObamaCare and other bureaucratic horrors.  They signed up for a crusade against childhood obesity, but instead they received a useful lesson in one of the education establishment’s previous obsessions: bullying.

"Comprehensive" Sex Ed Planned for Nebraska

The Nebraska Family Council (along with the other pro-life, pro-family groups in Nebraska) are urging citizens to contact the State Senators on the Education Committee and urge them to vote against LB 619, a  bill that would force every public school district in the state to teach the kind of "comprehensive" sex education that delights Planned Parenthood.

You must act soon because the hearing date on this bill is March 12th.

As the NFC points out, LB 619 would require all public schools to add information to their curriculum "on how to use every type of contraceptive method approved by the Food and Drug Administration. This would include the morning after pill which causes early abortions."

Furthermore, the instruction material "cannot be biased against any sexual orientation or gender identity.  Students will be taught that any type of sexual activity is appropriate, such as homosexuality and cross-dressing. Students will be taught how to have healthy heterosexual, homosexual and gender identity sexual relationships."

You see why your action is urgent. Contact the Education Committee members and ask them to vote against LB 619.

Kate Sullivan (Chair) --
Jim Scheer (Vice Chair) --
Bill Avery --
Tanya Cook --
Al Davis --
Ken Haar (who introduced the bill) --
Rick Kolowski --
Les Seiler --

If you had rather use the phone, the numbers can be found at this NFC article.

Anti-American, Anti-Semite to Be Honored by First Lady & U.S. State Department

On July 18 of last year, after five Israeli tourists and a Bulgarian bus driver were killed in a suicide bombing attack, Samira Ibrahim, jubilantly tweeted: “An explosion on a bus carrying Israelis in Burgas airport in Bulgaria on the Black Sea. Today is a very sweet day with a lot of very sweet news.”

As a mob was attacking the United States embassy in Cairo on the eleventh anniversary of 9/11, pulling down the American flag and raising the flag of Al Qaeda, Ibrahim wrote on twitter: “Today is the anniversary of 9/11. May every year come with America burning.”

Tomorrow Michelle Obama will join John Kerry at a special ceremony at the State Department to present Samira Ibrahim the Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award. The award, says the press release, is given to “women around the globe who have shown exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for women’s rights and empowerment, often at great personal risk.”

Here's more from The Weekly Standard.

"It's the Human's Fault Always."

A 26-year old woman is mauled by a lion at a private animal reserve in California. And because efforts were unsuccessful to get the lion into another cage in order that help could be safely administered to the severely injured victim, the beast was shot and killed by deputies from the Fresno County Sheriff Department.

Tragically, the young woman, Dianna Hanson, died of her wounds.

The reaction from animal rights activist and former actress, Tippi Hedren? She expressed dismay at the killing…of the lion. Hedren was quoted -- "It wasn't the lion's fault. It's the human's fault always."

Just what Dianna's family wanted to read in the newspaper.

Not your most graceful performance, Tippi. Not by a long shot.